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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Appeals Court Trims Trump Bond To $175M, Adds 10 Days To Deadline; Trump's New York Criminal Hush Money Trial Set For April 15th; Axios: Biden's Campaign Has Dedicated Team To Take On RFK Jr.; Rep. Greene Defends Motion To Push Out Speaker Johnson; Putin: Moscow Attack Carried Out By "Radical Islamists"; Boeing CEO To Step Down Amid Ongoing Safety Issues. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 25, 2024 - 16:00   ET



JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: Well, we wish them the best prom. The last one before they move with Kevin Bacon.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Look forward to seeing -- look forward to seeing some footage of Kevin Bacon and seeing if he's still got the moves.

DEAN: If anyone --

SANCHEZ: We'll find out.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: Donald Trump calls a major ruling in his favor today amazing. It's one way to describe it.

THE LEAD starts right now.

It's the plot twist no one saw coming. Donald Trump given ten more days to pay his bond and the amount he owes cut down bigly. The new timeline in his civil fraud case.

Plus, the other ruling today, not necessarily in Trump's favor, involving alleged hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Plus, a high-stakes trip to D.C. canceled. The protest move by Israel's prime minister upset over the actions of the U.S. and a boat demanding a ceasefire in Gaza.

And troubled skies, door plug flying off, questions about quality, now, the head of Boeing saying he's leaving. Whose departure settle safety concerns as you get ready to book summer travel?


MATTINGLY: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Phil Mattingly, in for Jake Tapper. And we start with the law and justice lead, and former President Donald Trump's babies, well, they're safe for now. And by babies, we mean of course his New York properties and that's his word. I want to make that very clear because that's exactly how Trump refer to them than a Truth Social post. Those properties, while they were potentially set to be seized as early as today as he faced a deadline to post a massive $464 million bond in his New York civil fraud case.

Trump's team was scrambling because he could not make that payment, but in the 11th hour, an appeals court handed him a major lifeline. Now to secure the bond, Trump only has to pay $175 million and he has an extra ten days to do it. So will he make that payment and doesn't mean he's off the hook for the other $289 million of that judgment against him. We're going to explain all of that just ahead.

But while Trump is claiming victory here, I can't win them all. Today, Trump also learning his New York criminal hush, money trial will begin on April 15th, sooner than he'd hoped.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't think you're going to have the trial. I don't know how you can have a trial like this in the middle of an election, the presidential election, and this is again, this is a Biden trial. These are all Biden trials.


MATTINGLY: Now, to be clear, they are not all Biden trials. Trump again, claiming without any evidence that President Biden is behind the cases against him.

Now, the hush money trial could end up being the first and potentially only criminal trials Trump faces before the presidential election in November. And ten days after that trial is set to begin, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on his immunity appeal in the federal election subversion case, all of this in the backdrop of his 2024 presidential election campaign.

We know, it's a lot to keep up with. We're going to try and break it all down four and we start off with CNN's Tom Foreman.

Tom, the bond now set at $175 million. It's a lot lower than $464 million. But this doesn't mean Trump is really off the hook here, does it?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, not at all. What the court did today was give Trump a little more time and space to try to stave off that almost half billion-dollar judgment, pushing the deadline for him to post bond another ten days down the line and lowering the amount by almost two thirds, also allowing Trump and his sons to keep running their New York businesses under the eye of an independent monitor.

But while the courts gave Trumps lawyers until September to fully flesh out the terms of their appeal, if they don't do that or they don't meet this new deadline with the lower bond, the attorney general could be right back on the doorstep of taking Trump's property while his appeal of the overall judgment is pending.

MATTINGLY: So it turns out the more we look at it, the process is certainly more complicated that perhaps it would initially appear why is that?

FOREMAN: Well, more than two thirds of Donald Trumps wealth is tied up in its property according to an analysis by Forbes. Mar-a-Lago down in Florida, properties in New York, Chicago, Las Vegas, and so on. He has even more of that. Most of his money locked up in golf courses and resorts. There could be fresh legal challenges to each and every seizure out there, I'm saying successful but slow things down, and selling each seized property could be a whole new headache.

Analysts say that buyers could be wary of becoming entangled in Trump's legal battles. They may fear negative associations, protests from his friends or his foes, as they by his property. And lastly, real estate agents point out, these are largely old properties with unknown value.

Trump says they're worth a fortune, but his false claims are the cornerstone of this whole case until independent inspectors have a comprehensive look, the true worth of this property is mystery -- Phil.


MATTINGLY: Yeah, other than that very clean and simple process. Tom Foreman breaking it down so well as always, thank you.

CNN's Laura Coates, Jamie Gangel and Elie Honig joining me now.

Guys, there's so much to get to here because this was a really consequential day on two huge legal issues. The former president is dealing with it.

Laura, let's start with you. The bond payment --


MATTINGLY: -- you look at the top-line numbers, you say $175 million, that's a lot less than 460 plus million dollars out of money. It's a lot of it. Does Trump have it?

COATES: He says he's got money. Now, the question of course is whether who actually be able to have it in ten days or not.

MATTINGLY: Are you saying there's some skepticism about what --

COATES: I'm just saying, if you've got $175 million on hand, I have questions about my own investments. That's all I'm telling you right now.

But assuming he does have the money, remember what the appellate bond is for. On the one hand is to ensure that the person who owes the money does not hand it over to the person asking for the money without the appeal going forward, because then they can't actually get it back at there are successful. The other hand, they want to know that you actually do have the money you can pony up if you do not prevail at the appellate process.

And so this is part of a two-fold thing. It sounds unfair to a lot of people that think I got a handy over money to appeal my case. That's really what it's about. And so, ponying up in this way is huge.

I would not read too much into the lower amount as suggesting the court is saying that Engoron got it wrong in the first instance because you have those two primary concerns. That's probably why it was lowered.

MATTINGLY: So, that's a fascinating point because you've seen, I think at least the implication from Trumps lawyers that perhaps this is a sign that the broader judgment may not hold or that appeal may not work. The reduction we saw today, we saw Donald Trump in the break during his other legal issue here is dealing with today, come out, make very clear, they're very happy with it. They were pleased with it. I don't think they necessarily expected it to some degree.

How big of a when is this really?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, I will stipulate for our two lawyers here. As you said, $175 million is a whole lot better than having to come up with $464 million. And to quote Donald Trump today, he said, I have a lot of cash.

That said, I would like to underscore what councilor over here said you know, how much cash does he have? We know that he had to put up a lot of cash. The Schwab account for the E. Jean Carroll case, which was $100 million for that bond.

There's one other thing we know about Donald Trump. He likes to fight and he likes to delay. So even though he may have this much more money, I would not be surprised if ten days from now, we saw some other kind of delay and then Letitia James will have to go forward and see how she extracts the money.

MATTINGLY: It would certainly be on brand --

GANGEL: Absolutely.

MATTINGLY: -- based on everything that we've done.

But, Elie, led to this point and were talking about this earlier today, this is different because he doesn't really have a -- you may think he has a choice. He may fight for having that choice.

What happens if ten days from now he says, wow, I want to have a negotiation on this, but I wanted to land a little bit more, right?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, whether Donald Trump posts a bond or not has nothing to do with his appeal rights. He can appeal either way. But if he posts a bond, Letitia James cannot start collecting on this

until after the appeals done. We're talking a year or more until all his appeals are done. If he does post the bond, then she's foreclosed until appeals over. But if he fails to post a bond, she can start collecting 10 days from now.

Really important point that Tom made, the amount that was reduced today is not the final amount that he owes. He owes -- he still owes $454 million. He only has to post now $175 million on bonds.

So he's getting a temporary break, but it doesn't undermine the final judgment that's against -- now the appeals court ultimately may say that number has to come down, but that's yet to be determined.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, that's a really important point. I'm glad you reiterated that point.

Jamie, former president went to one of his properties today. I don't think it was subtle that it was one of the properties that Letitia James, the attorney general, had pointed out up to that point, held a press conference in as part of the press conference, he said this. Take a listen.


REPORTER: Are you going to start putting money into campaign -- you haven't done that since 2019.

TRUMP: Yeah, yeah. Well, first of all, it's none of your business. I mean, frankly.

But I might -- I might do that. I have the option. But if I have to spend $500 million on the bond, I wouldn't have that option. I'd have to start selling things. I don't have to sell anything because I'm -- it's a phenomenal -- I built a phenomenal company.


MATTINGLY: I'm pausing for effect, I'm pausing tonight just on some level. But it's a -- look, let's be honest, you didn't use any of his own money in 2020. In 2016, he pledged $100 million plus. He spent $60 million total.

People I've talked to in around is kind of circle. So there's no plans for him to spend any money on his campaign this time around.

Is there any chance that he's going to finance his campaign or part of it at least?

GANGEL: Donald Trump has long said he has all this money and he also likes to use other people's money.


But there's no question. What we saw there, this case triggers Donald Trump, like none of the other cases, because it's about his brand, his image. This notion that he is very, very, very successful.

Michael Cohen, who we all know, said to me last year and he says it from time to time, yeah. He doesn't like the criminal cases, but when you talking about money and the brand, that's what you just saw there. That's when he gets sensitive when pressed.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, it's the convergence of the personal, the business, politics as well, plus the legal, is also a perfect segue mentioning Michael Cohen because there's another major legal issue that the president, foreign president was dealing with today, Laura, and that is the hush money case. They have now -- the judge rejected the effort to delay it even further. The trial now has a start date.

A former president criminal trial, who also happens to be the presumptive Republican nominee, there's nothing we've ever seen like this before. What does it mean?

COATES: First of all, it's none of your business.



COATES: But having said that, I mean, this is a case to your point. Why is it so problematic? It's also about his sex life, frankly, if I'm being perfectly clear. It involves an allegation that he's had an extramarital affair with somebody he has -- he has expressed just in the past is someone he seems to feel is less than him.

And so you'd have bat conundrum. You've got the idea. This is for many people news. You've already heard back before he was initially the president United States. And he wants you to think of that in the rearview mirror.

But in reality, a lot of what Alvin Bragg's case involves more than three dozen some counts, I should say about the issues of falsifying records and beyond are things that were not necessarily contemplated immediately. And then Michael Cohen trial that could be more expensive in some ways.

And so he would like you to look at this and say, this is all in the past, they all or trying to get you to the past. It's all Biden's fault here, but Biden is number one, not involved in this at all? This is a state-level prosecution. No more than a mayor is beholden to the president, is a Manhattan D.A. beholden to the attorney general of the United States, Merrick Garland. But it all fits the narrative that this is the system and everyone against him picking on him and hoping somehow to embarrass him to shame him, and to suggest that he cannot pay bill most or that he would be so bothered by the fact that had this allegation that he would pay to avoid it.

This is remember, after the "Access Hollywood" tape was known to the general public, that he is going to have suggest that he was somehow so sullied by this assertion of at least one extramarital affair that he went to great lengths to hide it to this degree. This is all part of the all political brand, but now his new brand is,

me against the man, even though he could be called the man if you have $175 million in cash, that's the definition of the man.

MATTINGLY: It's also a level of irony here that like saying President Biden directed this and he couldn't -- the D.A. couldn't get done documents from SDNY for a period of time, with federal prosecutors, which complicated things that lead to today.

This was always case of the fore that people kind of put to the side, right? That this is the two Jack Smith's trials were the ones everyone is really focused on. Obviously, you have the Fulton County case, which is going into the election subversion issue, which is obviously of national, I think import here. Explain to people why if this matters.

HONIG: This is a big darn deal anyway you cut it. Let's just get to the bottom line here. This could be the only of the four criminal cases tried before the election. That is a huge deal and as Laura said, the contractor is going to bring back a lot of memories that Donald Trump does a lot coming back while most of us are familiar, I think the public is generally familiar with the Stormy Daniels story. If he gets convicted, he will be a convicted felon.

And that's a lot of baggage. And there could be voters. Jamie's the political expert, but I think just in common sense everyday life who say, look, you know, I'm not sure about the guy, but I'm not comfortable voting for a convicted felon. And by the way, this is happening now, today was the last gasp to try to get this delayed. I know Trump said he's going to appeal.

I don't think he appeals this, and if he does -- a trial date and if he does, he's going nowhere. This is going to happen. This is 20 days for now, were going to have state of New York versus Donald J. Trump, a criminal trial. The consequences, is it the most serious of the four cases? No, it's probably the least serious of the four criminal cases, but it's still a big darn deal.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. And it's none of your business. I'm going to use that.


MATTINGLY: Thank you all very much as always. We appreciate it.

Up next, someone who is very slow to call out Donald Trump and as many election lies.


CHRIS WALLACE, CNN HOST: You're saying, you're not sure as the Republican Party chair, that he was the legitimately elected president?

RONNA MCDANIEL, FORMER RNC CHAIR: I'd say there were lots of problems with the 2020 election and we need to fix it going forward. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: It turns out there's receipts. Now that she's no longer with the RNC, hear how Ronna McDaniel explains why she never condemned Trumps repeated calls to pardon convicted January 6 rioters.


Plus, the reported political attack plan by team Biden as his challenger RFK, Jr. gets ready to beef up his presidential campaigns.

Stay with us.


MATTINGLY: Welcome back.

In our politics lead, RFK, Jr.'s presidential campaign is set for a pivotal moment. The independent candidate set to name his running mate tomorrow in Oakland, California. Mediate reported he's expected to tap Nicole Shanahan, a California based attorney, and entrepreneur with very deep pockets. He's also floated NFL quarterback Aaron Rodgers and former wrestler and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura as potential VP choices.

Kennedy cites deadlines and at least 23 states that require him to name a vice presidential candidate in order to apply to get on their ballots for November.

Let's bring in our political panel to discuss this, and a lot more.

"Axios" reporting -- we've got some reporting as well. Biden's campaign, quote, and the DNC have a dedicated team, staffers and consultants to try and diminish Kennedy.

Paul, does this show that they're concerned? Are they on the ball? Is there -- I look at poll after poll, and I see the numbers and I'd say probably about that time.


PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. Third parties elected Donald Trump in 2016. About 6 to 7 percent of Americans voted third-party.

That third party vote dropped to less than two, which is how Biden won.

So anything over two, Democrats in trouble. Kennedy alone is at 15 in some of these places. So, yeah, there -- my view is third-parties that like cockroaches in the kitchen, okay? It's not what they carry off that upset you. It's what they fall into and follow up, okay?

Bobby Kennedy could fall into every swing state and follow it up for Joe Biden and throw the whole election to Donald Trump. So I'm very happy the Dem -- as a Democrat the Democrats are on this because it's a very real threat.

DOUG HEYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Note to self, don't go to Paul Begala's --


MATTINGLY: Alayna, the press secretary for the Kennedy campaign says, quote, Mr. Kennedy plans to take votes from both President Biden and former President Trump. So far, the Trump campaign hasn't really seemed to devote a lot, that said some things, but haven't really devoted resources to attacking him.

When you talk to Trump advisers, how did they look right now at his role in the map?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: So it's interesting. I actually, so when RFK Jr. announced that he was switching and becoming an independent and that's how he was going to run. I think there was more concerned then. They definitely recognized that he was a potential threat. And as Paul just laid out, so eloquently a spoiled, like he could be a massive spoiler.

MATTINGLY: Like in the food as it --


TREENE: Exactly. Spoiling the foods, spoiling elections.

BEGALA: Right in the captain crunch there, you know?

TREENE: And it's especially important and I think he could be especially effective given its expected to be a close election, something that Donald Trump's team very much does expect this election to be. The other thing though that I will argue as I think there's been some reporting out there that they're not that concerned that they think any kind of RFK spoiler would hurt Biden more than it would hurt Trump.

I don't necessarily think that that's how his team sees this when I talked to them, they recognize that he's kind of a wildcard in some senses, and especially when it comes to the people who are really against the system. When I talk to Trump's team, people close to the former president, people like Steve Bannon say this, that they think that the people who are anti-vaccine, anti-establishment have very strong positions on Ukraine, not wanting to give more money to Ukraine funding, those are the type of people that do normally go for Donald Trump, but could potentially go for someone like RFK Jr.

And that's where there is concerned because I don't think its as simple as saying he's only going to take votes away from Biden.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, especially because it's not binary, right? Like you can't just look at them saying, well, he's going to do this or he's going to do that. It kind of cuts across lines.

Doug, I do you have to ask former RNC Chair Ronna McDaniel, debuted as a political analyst for NBC News. Hiring has upset some top network journalists on and off air. Here's what McDaniel said about Trump's plan to pardon convicted January 6 insurrectionists.


KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Agree with Trumps saying he's going to free those who've been charged and convicted?

RONNA MCDANIEL, FORMER RNC CHAIRWOMAN: I do not think people who committed violent acts on January 6 should be freed.

WELKER: So you disagree with that. He's been saying that for months.


WELKER: Ronna, why not speak out earlier? Why just speak out about that now?

MCDANIEL: When you're the RNC chair, you kind of take one for the whole team, right? Now I get to be a little bit more myself.


MATTINGLY: Doug, it's -- I don't think there was an exact analogue to your time at the Republican National Committee, like you talking about bus that said fire Pelosi on the side is slightly different than like free to people who attacked the U.S. Capitol.

HEYE: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: But they take one for the team shtick, buy it?

HEYE: No, I don't know what it means. I think its one of those things that when you're planning to go on TV and you want to talk about something you say, oh, that sounds good. And then in reality, sometimes it doesn't. This is an example.

Your job is RNC chair is, one, to raise a lot of money. Two is to bring on staff and comms, digital, finance and field. There's some questions about that now, so that you're helping your candidates do the best job possible to get them over the -- over the line.

And the other part is to be objective. And this is one of the areas where she fell short in the past few months. The Rule 11 letter, the Rule 11 in the RNC is so specific but if anybody is running against mike Johnson in a primary, let's say they get seven votes in a primary, the RNC has to be objective on this and completely neutral unless the state party says Mike Johnsons or candidate, which they typically don't.

So by urging Nikki Haley to get out, she wasn't doing her job the state of the RNC right now, Doug makes a great point besides going into the bylaws of the RNC aggressive, sir, there are questions about finances. There are questions about operations or questions about they had a bank, your vote program, which is really critical and Republicans all seem to acknowledge that except for the one who's actually going to be the Republican nominee, where are they right now, particularly given this middle at turnover there in the last couple of weeks?

TREENE: There has. I mean, the RNC is completely restructured and its restructured to become essentially an operation that operates one and the same with the campaign. A lot of the communications, the processes within the RNC are operating next to and within the Trump campaign. They're kind of having this symbiotic relationship now as it comes to election fraud, all of that.


There is a program that Ronna McDaniel setup when she was still chairwoman, that Michael Whatley is going to continue, which is all about voter integrity. They brought in some other people, people like Christina Bobb, the former -- former correspondent at one America News Network, Chris Kise, people like that to run this and its essentially previewing what we know Donald Trump is a huge priority for him, which is this idea that there could be fraud, again, in the 2024 election.

Again, I say fraud again from their viewpoint, we know that Donald Trump obviously overstated all of the fraud that happened in the 2020 election, but that's really where a lot of the focus is. As for fundraising, of course, that's a huge issue that they have. I think a big thing that's going to help them is now that they can start using Donald Trump's name, his likeness, there'll be able to revive a lot of what they weren't able to do over the past several years when Donald Trump wasn't the candidate, he wasn't a nominee. They weren't able to use his name.

MATTINGLY: Well, from a party operations perspective, Joe Biden runs the DNC. Joe Biden's team runs the DNC and they used it essentially has a shell election campaign before morphed into the reelection campaign. Is this is a problem for Republicans? If you're a Democrat, you're looking at the RNC right now, going yes.

BEGALA: Here's how I look at both parties, which party is raising more money. Right now, that's Joe Biden's Democrats. Which party is more united? Definitely Joe Biden's Democrats and Republican National Committee is in chaos right now. That House of Representatives on the Republican is chaos. So the party is more united.

Which part is more mainstream?

So when you have Mr. Trump going out to rallies and saying, we should pardon these guys who tased Michael Fanone until his heart stopped, a cop, okay, I think that's outside the mainstream. So right now, I think the Republican Party's way, way off course, and they've got, they've got to find a way.

They raised the money and it seems now to be going into Mr. Trump's legal defense, not into electing Republicans, which is why we have a Republican Party.

It's chaos and to use a Nikki Haley phrase that I like.


BEGALA: Yes, follows him everywhere he goes. You know why? Because he's chaos incarnate.

MATTINGLY: He's still tied with the current president in the polling.

BEGALA: Yes, he is.

MATTINGLY: We've got a lot more to get to. You guys probably have things to do, but I'm not going to let you leave. I want to keep talking to you guys. Stay with me.

Up next, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, says, quote, Speaker Mike Johnson cannot remain speaker of the House. How's that going to work? We're going to talk about it next.



MATTINGLY: We're back with more in the politics lead. It's spring break for Congress. We'd like you to call it district work period, but it's not a stress-free vacation, at least for House Speaker Mike Johnson, his leadership job still under threat.

Just yesterday, fellow Republican Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene defended her move to potentially oust the speaker over the bipartisan spending deal.

Yes. If this sounds familiar, it is. Let's bring back the panel.

Take a listen to what Marjorie Taylor Greene said yesterday on Fox.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I filed this motion to vacate, but I haven't called it to the (VIDEO GAP) a pink slip and giving our conference and a notice saying that we have got to find a new speaker. This may take weeks. It may take months. It may not even (VIDEO GAP) until next Congress. But Speaker Johnson cannot remain as speaker of the House.


MATTINGLY: Doug, she hedged just a little bit on the timing there. She also didn't note that -- I don't think she's got the votes, so she wanted to do it.

Is this like a perpetual thing that Republicans will be dealing with in eternity, in the House?

HEYE: Sure. You know, there's a scene in the movie, "The Jerk" where Steve Martin is a weight guesser to carnival, which is very similar to what our Congress is right now, and he realizes this is a profit deal. This is a profit deal. This is about raising money, raising your profile. She said it on a

very highly watched TV show. She's going on a lot of TV shows raising more money with it.

And what is Steve Martin say at the end of that scene? He says step right up and when some crap.

This is the part of the house Republican conference right now that is controlling what the conference is able to do or not do. It's a small fraction section, but it is a profit motive. And we're getting exactly what we deserve because of it.

MATTINGLY: To your point, though, Alayna, is it a small fraction? You watch people like Mike Gallagher, the Wisconsin Republican, who announced that he's leaving in a couple of weeks, will bring Speaker Mike Johnson's majority down to one vote for a period of time, which sounds super fun. That's the -- I think if you talk to Republicans of Republican Doug Heye type, Republicans are saying my gallery was future of this party. No question about it.

Is it just a small group that's driving this or is it bigger now?

TREENE: It's a smaller group than it was when they were ousting McCarthy. That's for sure. I think -- look, I think Republicans, even the ones who are behind some of these pushes to oust whether it'd be Johnson or other leaders in the past recognize that it is hurting the party overall, the majority of people, Republicans, I should say in Congress recognized that this isn't something that is helping.

And it is interesting to hear from the likes of people like Matt Gaetz, who was really one of the most firm people behind helping oust Kevin McCarthy. And some of the others who were part of that movement as well, say, we can't do that again, because if we do, not only is it bad for Republicans, but who knows who he could get as a speaker, I think Matt Gaetz said, well end up with a Democrat.

And I think they recognize they chaos, but at the same time, so much of this is political and to your point, it's political. They're getting media the attention, and there's definitely a massive split within the Republican Party in Congress on how to function. That's why they're not functioning. That's why we can't see anything get done.

And everyone says that always about Congress, but its especially true now and, of course, it's not helped by the ever growing narrow majority that they have.

HEYE: And there's a political cost. When Republicans were in purgatory because they couldn't figure out who their speaker was going to be, it made it very hard to recruit candidates, and it's sure made it harder for the congressional committee to raise money and have a winning message for, you know, a sizeable period of time.


MATTINGLY: Yeah. And it was going to be a tough election campaign no matter what for the NRCC because of the districts they had to defend. It's getting tougher because of retirements.

You make an interesting point about Matt Gaetz saying, well, we might end up with a Democrat if we do this again -- honestly, I wasn't out at a lunch when all of this transpired on Friday and came out a lunch --

BEGALA: You're never out to lunch.

MATTINGLY: No, no, I wasn't out -- as a working lunch. I was working. Thank you for corporate card.

And saw the headlines and text a Democratic staffer, it's like I'm sorry, is it Hakeem Jeffries like speaker now? Like, is there a possibility that Hakeem Jefferson ends up speaker?

BEGALA: There's a possibility. I mean, the Republicans are simply imploding. It's astonishing. They seem to be committed to chaos as a brand. I don't understand why they, as you pointed out, Mike Gallagher is as good a Republican congressman as or its me, it's not my ideology, but he's a terrific person. He's done a great job running this China committee, brought all the Democrats on his committee along with him on his bill to crack down on TikTok and force a sale.

So when you're driving people like that out of your party, something fundamentally is wrong.

I will note, I first worked on the hill, came here in '89. The leader was Bob Michel. He got couped by New Gingrich. Newt Gingrich got couped and replaced by Denny Hastert. Hastert was not couped, but after him, John Boehner, he got couped. Then Paul Ryan, he got couped. Then, Kevin McCarthy, he got couped.

Now, Mike Johnson -- I don't know what's in the water or something over there?

HEYE: Here are a coup, there are coup.


HEYE: When you come into house,

BEGALA: It's cuckoo.

HEYE: For coco puffs. Yes.

MATTINGLY: It'd just come off top of your head.

Can I ask, when you talked to Trump officials and they're watching what's happening with house Republicans what do they say? They've got to be a little bit concerned about the dysfunction, right?

TREENE: They are with honestly, there's so much more concerned with Donald Trumps campaign. All of these legal issues, what we've been talking about on the air all day.

MATTINGLY: So, they're not concerned like a spillover from people watching in the House and saying, I don't want that.

TREENE: I think they're trying to give my Johnson more time. Honestly, I don't think that they're happy obviously. When I talked to them, I think they recognize that Congress is a mess right now. And that the Republican Party, or if Republicans in Congress are a mess, but they also recognize that, I Donald Trump was one of the people who endorsed mike Johnson. He put his support behind him. He's going to stick with him at least for now.

I do think that when there is an issue that comes up, like what we saw with the border deal when he tried to tank the border deal and how he talked about Kevin McCarthy around that bipartisan border deal in the fall. If there's an issue like that, where Johnson really stands in the way of something Donald Trump deeply believes in, you'll see the tides turn. I don't think that that's a relationship that he's going to fight for all the way to the end.

But for now, he's kind of keeping his distance and not and not getting overly involved.

HEYE: Every time we have a story about internal Republican problems, Republicans are unable to focus on all those things that Joe Biden is unpopular at which is exactly where their focus should be.

MATTINGLY: It's going to be fascinating to watch play out. Again, it's like it's still -- a split polling across the board right now, despite all of this.

All right. Thanks for hanging around for another block.

HEYE: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Appreciate, guys.

Well, CNN is live in Moscow after that horrific terror attack near Russia's capital city. The death toll now at 139. Next, the cloud of confusion. Vladimir Putin history is stirring as he tries to deflect blames. Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: Welcome back.

And topping our world lead, Russian Leader Vladimir Putin trying to have it both ways. This afternoon, he conceded the horrific terror attack on a concert hall near Moscow that killed 139 but was carried out by, quote, radical Islamists. But Putin again suggested Ukraine was somehow involved, even though Ukraine and the United States deny Ukraine had anything to do with it.

And the terrorist group ISIS-K, has claimed responsibility. On Sunday, suspects linked to the attack were in Russian court. Four men from Tajikistan charged with terrorism invisibly injured, fueling speculation that they may have been tortured after their arrest. CNN's Matthew Chance is reporting live from Russia.

Matthew, is Putin providing evidence at this point to support his claim that Ukraine was involved?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, not -- not a great deal of evidence, certainly nothing very substantial. What he's saying is that basically these individuals were detained when they're after that carried out the attack on the way to the Ukrainian border, they're actually detained in location about 100 miles or so away from the Ukrainian border.

And what Putin usually said is that a window had been prepared. This is the words he used for them to move through into Ukraine implicating the Ukrainian authorities in organizing the attack, something that Kyiv has categorically denied. And of course, Washington's denied it as well.

The problem is with that theory is that this is a highly militarized border. There's a war going on between Russia and Ukraine, particularly in that area around that border area. And so even if the Ukrainians and opened up a window on their side, it's hard to explain how these -- these terrorists would have managed to get through the Russian lines before they even got to Ukraine.

And so that's a sort of fatal flaw in Putin's rationale at the moment. But nevertheless, he is sticking to it. He's doubling down. He's implying that Ukraine may have been involved in some way.

MATTINGLY: Now, can we take a step back for a minute? Why would ISIS-K target Russia?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, it's not -- it's not too difficult to imagine that. In fact, they've targeted Russia in several times in the past. I mean, back in 2022, in Afghanistan, there was a suicide bomb attacked outside the Russian embassy, which killed two diplomatic staff, Russian diplomatic staff, and lots of other people as well.

And that was carried out by, by ISIS-K. They're very operational inside Afghanistan and Central Asia. Russia, remember, has been backing the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, which is literally fighting ISIS inside Syria.


And Russia has been instrumental in destroying ISIS infrastructure, sort of in that country and elsewhere as well.

You also have to remember that the distinction, the rivalry that we report on all the time between Russia and the West it's not something that is necessarily acknowledged by Islamic fundamentalist groups like ISIS. They see the United States, Europe, Britain, and Russia as being on the same side as the equation against them, in other words.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, it's such important contexts, white us official, certainly, were not surprised by the attribution and some degree. Matthew, you went to the scene of this terror attack. I wonder, how are Russians memorializing the victims here?

CHANCE: Yeah, well, we can't get into the actual building. It's still a crime scene. It's also very dangerous because of fire has left it in ruins, but there's a big memorial that sprung up outside with thousands of Russians, you know, many with tears in their eyes going there to lay flowers, put cuddly toys because of all the children have, of course, up in this and photographs and candles and things like that.

I mean, I have to say that floral memorials like this have become something of a commonplace feature in Russian life. They're punctuating the year. I mean, last month, it was flowers for the death of Alexey Navalny, the prominent opposition leader here. Last year, you'll remember, Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Wagner leader who died in a suspicious air crash after leading an uprising against Moscow, there are flowers for him as well, as it all points to the volatility and the insecurity in Russia today.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. Such an important point and valuable reporting.

Matthew Chance in Russia for us, thank you.

Well, after a gaping hole and one of its planes, questions about quality, the major announcements today from Boeing that acknowledged the world's largest airplane manufacturer is very well aware. It has a big PR problem.

Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: In our national lead right now, thousands of Americans are planning their summer travel, which for many will include flying. And if you're booking a trip, it is hard to ignore the recent serious incidents involving Boeing planes, happening both in midair and on tarmacs.

Well, now, Boeing CEO says he's leaving at the end of the year, and so are other top officials.

I want to bring in CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean.

Boeing CEO leaving at a time when the company really needs leadership, there's no question about that. I want to get to that in a minute. But I want start with look, man, I'm traveling with my family in like, 20 -- 48 hours.

Are we safe? Are we okay?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: You're not the only person who has been asking this to me. I think the big thing here is that if you're on a MAX-9, which is at the central of all of these issues lately, those are probably the safest they've ever been. Those been gone over with a fine tooth comb by the airlines after the door plug blowout on January 5, the plane was granted for 19 days.

There is a bit of a different question here about these other sort of one-off incidents. And we've seen the most of those that United Airlines, there's been about a dozen of those incidents. The largest and most significant ones that well falling off of a 777 leaving San Francisco a plane skidding off the end of the runway in Houston, of engine fire of a flight, leaving an airplane and had to come back right away. Those are a bit more interesting, and those have caught a lot of scrutiny of the FAA, but it's really important to differentiate here.

There's the MAX-9 issue which really exposed a quality control problem and systemic issues at Boeing, which led to the now resignation of their CEO by the end of the year and then there are these one-offs which have been really put up in lights more lately because of that MAX-9 door plug blot and how dramatic that was. It's really important to remember here, that the last time someone was killed on a commercial airliner in the United States was back in 2019 -- 2018, that was sort of a freak incident, a fan blade flow of an engine killed a passenger on board.

Last time, there was a fatal commercial airplane crash in the U.S., 2009, that was the Colgan Air crash lead to really significant changes of regulations and requirements for pilot training. Aviation in the U.S. is incredibly safe, especially on a commercial airline.

MATTINGLY: I appreciate your patience and answer that question because I know literally everyone in your life, its probably asking it to you just about 400 times a day. And I'm glad you're showing that you distinguished group.

I have to ask -- I love covering business stories. I was fascinated today. To some degree, I thought it was inevitable that someone was going to have to take the hit over a Boeing. I did not know that it was going to be this wide scale and this high up.

MUNTEAN: Think about this is, if this is a Taylor Swift era, this is the reputation tour, and Boeing really needs to do some reputational fixing here. And this is now starting at the top with CEO Dave Calhoun saying he will leave as CEO by the end of the year.

Also, the board chair and the head of commercial airplanes out with immediate effect. So Calhoun is the guy who really has the softest landing here. What is really interesting is that he came into power after issues with the 737 MAX is back in 2018 and 2019. And now, he's leaving because of these 737 MAX issues of the door-plug blowout back in January 5th.

The only person who really left before this was the head of the MAX program. And there were a lot of questions in aviation about whether or not that was a scapegoat move.

And so, this is really significant now that he is leaving. It really, really shows that Boeing is trying to clean up its act and is aware of the fact that it reported a huge financial lines just last week and their airlines more and more arousing around the idea that they are losing confidence in Boeing with new planes on order there may be doubting that and then also so they're worried about maybe getting money from Boeing in terms of damages when it came to the fact that United, an Alaska Airlines at least here in the U.S., had to cancel hundreds of flights each day during that grounding.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. It's a huge day on your be -- even crushing it --


MATTINGLY: Always an extra points for the Taylor Swift tie-in, which is always great for viewers.

MUNTEAN: Anytime.

MATTINGLY: Pete Muntean, thanks, buddy. Appreciate it.

Well, a protest move by the prime minister of Israel.

Plus, something Trader Joe's has not done in more than 20 years. We've got leads around the world. That's next.



MATTINGLY: Now our leads around the world.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu canceled a scheduled trip to Washington, D.C. for two of his top advisers, citing the United States decision to allow the U.N. Security Council to pass a resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. The U.S. abstained rather than vetoing the resolution. A top White House official John Kirby says the administration is, quote, very disappointed, they wont get to talk with the Israeli delegation about the alternatives to the looming ground operation in Rafah.

Here in the U.S., a whiplash of weather. Tornado watches right now for parts of Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana, millions of people risk of severe storms tonight. Blizzard and winter storm warnings up from the Texas panhandle to the Canadian border, Minneapolis, that a snow your first week of spring, then it's entire winter season.

And in our sports lead, it's a story we cannot get enough, folks. Soon, we could hear what Los Angeles Dodgers player Shohei Ohtani will or will not say about the allegations against his former interpreter, was accused of stealing millions from Ohtani in order to pay off gambling debts.

Now, Ohtani is the highest-paid player in baseball really speaks to reporters. He's due to speak in the next hour. He's not expected to take questions. Both the MLB and the IRS are separately investigating Ohtani's former interpreter.

And in our money lead, fair warning, this story is rife for a bunch of bad puns. There's one right there. The price other banana at Trader Joes is increased for the first time in more than 20 years. Say goodbye to the 19-cent banana. It's now 23 cents, which is a more than 20 percent increase. The 19-cent banana is to Trader Joe's what the $1.50 hotdog is to Costco, a brands staple. Here's hoping that 23 cent banana has just as much appeal.

You see what we did? The appeal. Puns.

If you ever missed an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen to the show once you get your podcasts.

The news continues on CNN right now.