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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Florida 6-Week Abortion Ban To Take Effect But Voters Will Consider Constitutional Amendment Protecting Abortion; Mehdi Hasan: Justice Sotomayor Should Retire For "Sake Of Us All"; Axios: Trump Allies Want To Focus On "Anti-White Racism"; Israeli Hostage Speaks Out On Sexual Assault In Gaza; Council Member Facing Recall Denies Identifying As White Nationalist; CNN's Alisyn Camerota On Her New Memoir; Countdown To Total Solar Eclipse. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired April 02, 2024 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Plus, less than one week out from the solar eclipse, what cities will have a full view of the event? Plus, who will only see parts of the eclipse? We'll map out where you need to travel as you scramble to find those specially designed glasses. Please do not look up at the eclipse, please.

We're going to start this hour with breaking news. We're less than two weeks away from the start of Donald Trump's hush money trial in New York, the case involving his alleged affair with porn star and director Stormy Daniels. And now his legal team is making another move to try to get the judge on the case thrown off. Let's get straight to CNN's Paula Reid.

Paula, with the breaking news, what exactly are Trump's lawyers attempting here?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we're less than two weeks out from the beginning of this trial. And here, Trump's lawyers are asking the judge to allow them to file a motion for the judge, Juan Merchan, to recuse himself. They are arguing that he is conflicted by his daughter's work as a Democratic political consultant. Now, last year, they made a similar request which was rejected by the judge and saying that it would not be in the public interest for him to recuse himself. But now Trump lawyers are arguing that since Trump is the 2024 GOP nominee, this should be reconsidered because the judge's daughter, they argue, is in a position to potentially financially benefit from this trial.

Now, it's unclear if this will succeed, Jake. But again, this is just another effort by the Trump team, it appears to, if nothing else, delay this trial further.

TAPPER: All right, Paula Reid, thanks so much.

From Trump, the defendant to Trump the candidate, the former president returned to the campaign trail this afternoon. He's getting ready to hold a rally in the key battleground state of Wisconsin. That's where we find CNN's Kristen Holmes, specifically in Green Bay, where Trump's event is scheduled to start in less than an hour.

Kristen, Trump trying hard to win back some voters. He won there in 2016, but lost in 2020. What sorts of opportunities is he looking for?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: What we're going to hear from Donald Trump and his campaign is essentially them painting the status quo of the country under President Biden as so terrible that it reenergizes Republicans to come out to the polls in November. Now, they are very aware that there is a section of Republicans that are particularly critical in a state like Wisconsin, which he narrowly lost in 2020. That just didn't show up to vote in 2020 because they were exhausted after four years of Donald Trump. So what he is doing is he is using things like the economy, immigration, to try and reenergize some of these Republican supporters. You heard him just now in Michigan, he gave a speech on what he called the Biden border bloodbath.

He is stoking fear about immigration the same way he did in 2016. But he might have a little bit more help this time around given the fact that voters rank immigration as one of their top issues when they are going to the polls in November. So you heard him there talking about how violent crime was linked to immigration. And one thing we should note, as we have done before, is that all of the data shows that immigrants and migrants are far less likely to commit a crime than citizens. However, there have been a number of high profile cases lately that Donald Trump has completely latched onto. So he is using that fear, stoking once again, hoping that this topic of immigration will tell -- help him back to the White House in 2024.

TAPPER: All right, Kristen Holmes in battleground Wisconsin, thanks so much.

While Trump focuses on Wisconsin and Michigan, his current home state is becoming the center of a different battle, an American battle over abortion. Yesterday, the Florida Supreme Court said that the state's six week abortion ban can take effect in 30 days. At the same time, the court also ruled that Floridians in November can vote to enshrine abortion rights in the Florida state constitution.

Let's discuss with our panel. And we're joined, we have Jonah and Eva with us, and Mehdi Hasan joins us as well.

Eva, if Florida voters want to get rid of the abortion ban, the six- week abortion bill, they need to get 60 percent turnout. Sixty percent, that's the margin they have to get support to enshrine abortion rights in the constitution. Sixty percent, how are Democrats and abortion rights activists reacting to this ballot measure?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Well, so that's not going to be easy. But what I can tell you is that they are ready to mobilize. If you look in Ohio, for instance, anti-abortion advocates were heavily outspent. A lot of attention recently for the Alabama race where Marilyn Lange (ph), she just won a statehouse contest. And folks there were trying to get me to pay attention to that race prior to her winning. And I was sort of not really paying attention to it. And she got a significant amount of help, a boost, a funding for that contest. So, I don't think we should underestimate how willing people are to invest when it comes to this issue of abortion. It was underestimated in the midterms. I spoke to young men who were worried about the women in their lives who were motivated to vote for Democrats on this issue.


And I think that it does put Florida in play. I don't know if Democrats win there. They've suffered a lot of heartbreak in Florida, but it certainly helps.

TAPPER: Yes. And obviously, the Biden-Harris team are going all in on it. There's a brand new ad bashing Trump on this issue. Jonah, take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: For 54 years, they were trying to get Roe v. Wade terminated. And I did it, and I'm proud to have done it.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In 2016, Donald Trump ran to overturned Roe v. Wade. Now in 2024, he's running to pass a national ban on a woman's right to choose. I'm running to make Roe v. Wade the law of the land again.


TAPPER: What's interesting, Jonah, is that Trump has not yet taken a position on the six-week abortion ban in his home state. How long can he not take a position?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CO-FOUNDER AND EDITOR IN CHIEF, THE DISPATCH: Well, I think he did during the primaries. He kind of (inaudible) it and said what DeSantis did was a terrible thing about six weeks. I think the, look, I think it's very unlikely that this puts Florida in jeopardy of going for Biden. I think that's unlikely. I think it's really bad news for Rick Scott, the senator.

TAPPER: Running for re-election.

GOLDBERG: Running for reelection in Florida. And it's still good for the Biden team because at the very least, when Biden has a lot more money and will have a lot more money, it could very easily cost the Trump campaign to spend money in a very expensive state out of fear of possibly losing it.

TAPPER: What's your take on this? Can this actually potentially bring enough turnout to, A, get 60 percent to enshrine abortion rights at the Constitution? B, maybe even help Democrats running for the House and whoever ends up facing off against Senator Rick Scott?

MEHDI HASAN, JOURNALIST: So on the first point, yes. I mean, it would be mad for anyone to underestimate the power of the abortion rights movement given what we've seen in the last couple of years, given what we've seen in Iowa and many other states in Ohio and Alabama. No, don't write it off. There's a very good chance they could pull it off.

And that leads to the second point. I agree with Jonah. Even if they can't win Florida, and what, he win by four points or whatever it was in 2020, it will force Trump and the Republicans to defend their both down ballot and the presidential ticket, which only helps the Democrats. Anything that gets the Democratic base out is a good thing right now because the parts of the Democratic base are not that enthused. This is the issue -- this is one of the issues that enthuses them.

TAPPER: Mehdi has an op-ed in the Guardian. I want others to weigh in. Mehdi, you praise 69-year-old U.S. Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor while also arguing she should do what her sister, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, did not do and step down now while the Democrats control the White House and the U.S. Senate so they can appoint a Democrat to take her place. You write, quote, "With Joe Biden trailing Trump in several swing states and Democrats also in danger of losing their razor thin majority in the Senate, are we really prepared for history to repeat itself?" You agree?

GOLDBERG: Yes. So, look, first of all, I'm skeptical of the way you portray the 6th justice majority as this monolithic thing. You've had Gorsuch siding with criminal defendants more than almost anybody. You've had Kagan siding with the conservatives. You've had Ketanji Brown Jackson and Gorsuch having an alliance.

I just don't think it says all that monolithic. At the same time, by all means, if the Democrats want to spend a lot of time having a confirmation battle in the Senate, I'm not sure it's the highest, best use time of media exposure and arguments. But, you know, no skin off my nose.

TAPPER: But what is your essential argument?

HASAN: So, first of all, I don't think they're modeling anything I say in the piece that actually currently you're able to get some five, four wins for progressive causes. That doesn't happen.

GOLDBERG: You have six, three one (inaudible).

HASAN: That doesn't happen -- that doesn't happen under seven two. My worry is seven two. I have PTSD from 2020. I think the Democrats didn't learn lessons.

Look, what are we talking about? Abortion rights. How did that happen? Dobbs. How did the Florida decision happen today?

DeSantis appointed five of the seven judges. Republicans are very good at stacking courts, at getting their people on courts, at stinking strategically about filling courts. Democrats aren't very good at seeing the power of the Supreme Court. And that's why I worry. I worry that why would you want to repeat history? Why take the risk?

You have a Democratic president and a Democratic Senate and you have a justice who's about to turn 70.

MCKEND: I've only really heard Mehdi make this argument. I haven't heard this become sort of a battle cry among Democrats as yet. So maybe you were the first one out on this issue. And I could understand why, because Democrats do have PTSD from Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

I will say not so sure with Sotomayor, it's a personal choice, but that Republicans have shown more of a ruthlessness when it comes to the courts.

TAPPER: They even have a podcast called "Ruthless."

MCKEND: And a determination.


MCKEND: You know, not only the Supreme Court but remaking the federal judiciary. It's sort of Senator McConnell's entire reason for being.

TAPPER: Although Biden has done a pretty good job in getting a lot of progressives --


TAPPER: -- on the bench.

HASAN: On the personal choice, I just want to say a very important point because you said personal choice. Karine Jean-Pierre said personal choice when she was asked about this the other day. It shouldn't be a personal choice. The U.S. Supreme Court is one of the only supreme courts in the Democratic world that has lifetime tenure. It's mad.

Now, England doesn't have it, Belgium doesn't have it, Spain doesn't have it, Australia, New Zealand, you either have term limits or you have a 70 retirement age. What are people doing in their eighties on the Supreme Court? All running for president somewhere.


MCKEND: If the shoe was on the other foot, I think Republicans would be pushing even maybe harder --

HASAN: Anthony Kennedy, Brett Kavanaugh, right?

MCKEND: -- on their side -- on their side because they are a little bit more aggressive when it comes to the courts.

TAPPER: They did, they did orchestrate that pretty well. The Kennedy Kavanaugh swap. Thanks one and all for being here. Eva McKend, Jonah Goldberg, Mehdi Hasan.

If Trump were to win a second term, just what does he want his controversial aide Stephen Miller to tackle? We have some brand new reporting on that. Plus, Trump repeatedly calls people jailed for crimes on January 6, quote, "hostages." I'm going to do this or that, hostages. So, who exactly are these hostages?

What did they do? We'll tell you in a new feature, Trump's January 6 hostages, coming up.


TAPPER: In our politics lead, for anyone out there who desires a return of former Trump White House aide Stephen Miller to the seats of power, new reporting from Axios says that Miller has a new mission should Mister Trump win reelection. Miller wants to dramatically change how the Department of Justice looks at the issue of race, dismantling civil rights era laws to turn the focus on what Miller and his allies call anti-white racism. Axios' Alex Thompson broke the story. He joins us now.


What exactly is he planning here?

ALEX THOMPSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, AXIOS: Yes, essentially what he wants to do is, in response to the Black Lives Matter era, he wants to make the federal government be All Lives Matter, which essentially is, if there is any program, not just in the government but in private enterprise that is meant to benefit minorities, make sure to, you know, remedy some past injustice of racism. He is basically saying that is implicitly discriminating against white people. And he -- you know, he's already started this. He's already started suing, filed a civil rights complaint under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against the NFL for their Rooney Rule, which requires you to interview minority candidates for open coach (ph) positions, arguing that it's inherently discriminating against non- minority or white candidates who want those jobs.

TAPPER: So, it's his position that there is no discrimination in America today against minorities? I mean, these, as you note, I mean, this is about the historical legacy of racism in the United States, not just past, but current.

THOMPSON: What he's saying is that there is discrimination against, you know, black and brown people. But his argument is that there's also a lot of discrimination against white people and that these civil rights era laws that are meant to basically remedy the past injustices of white racism against black people, against brown people, have ignored this plight of anti-white racism. And so what he wants to do is, and what they do is they justify it as saying, we're going to make civil rights era laws colorblind. And so we are going to, you know -- and that these laws have not been used to defend white people.

TAPPER: In response to your reporting, Trump's campaign said, quote, "As President Trump has said, all staff, offices and initiatives connected to Biden's un-American policy will be immediately terminated." How expansive would this overhaul be? In some cases of now established basic civil rights.

THOMPSON: It could be incredible. And this is not just DEI offices or HR trainings, like, what we're talking about is almost any federal government program that is meant to help minorities, people of color, even just women, access federal funds in a way that they haven't historically been able to, those could be completely canceled. In fact, this was not Stephen Miller's doing. But just recently, you know, a Trump affiliated group has managed to stop a Commerce Department program that allowed minorities to access business funds. Essentially, they said, this is inherently discriminatory, you have to let white people access these funds, too.

You could see basically any minority program in the federal government outlawed under a Trump administration.

TAPPER: Alex Thompson, thanks so much. Interesting reporting.

Continuing in our law and justice lead, a new feature from the lead launching today about Donald Trump, the all but certain Republican presidential nominee. Mr. Trump has declared that the criminals in prison for their role in the attack on the Capitol on January 6, 2021 are, quote, "hostages." The former president has repeatedly made this reference to hostages.


TRUMP: You see the spirit from the hostages, and that's what they are, as hostages, they've been treated terribly and very unfairly.

They ought to release the J6 hostages. They've suffered enough. They ought to release them.

I call them the J6 hostages, not prisoners. I call them the hostages. What's happened --


TAPPER: In point of fact, these are not hostages. They are locked up, convicted of breaking the law.

In light of Mr. Trump's insistence on using this term J6 hostages, we thought it might behoove the American people to know exactly who it is that he's talking about. So here are two of Trump's J6 hostages that prosecutors say are seen in photos from that day. Their names are Farhad and Farbod Azari, a father and son from Richmond, Virginia. The Azaris both pleaded guilty this past January to felony charges, including one count of civil disorder and one count of assaulting, resisting or impeding certain law enforcement officers with a deadly or dangerous weapon. Outside the Capitol, prosecutors say that the son, Farbod, spat at officers and threw a water bottle at law enforcement officers.

The father, Farhad, tried to break a police line with a bike rack and hurled a flagpole at police officers. Prosecutors say the dad, Farhad, was one of the first rioters to enter the Capitol, getting in through a broken window. And that's where prosecutors say Farhad tried to direct other rioters to rush the police while his son was outside throwing another flagpole at police. This father and son are currently in the D.C. jail and will be sentenced to May 21.


Trump said in March on Truth Social that one of his first acts as president will be to, quote, "Free the January 6 hostages being wrongfully imprisoned." These two are two of those so called January 6 hostages. Stay tuned. We're going to tell you about a bunch of them.

Coming up next, a stunning new account from a woman held captive by Hamas in Gaza. And her story featured in a new documentary from former Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg.



TAPPER: In our world lead now, United Nation's report last month said that they found, quote, "clear and convincing information," unquote, that some hostages suffered sexual violence while being held captive in Gaza and that there is reason to believe the sexual abuse by Hamas is ongoing. And now one Israeli woman is speaking up publicly, a former hostage, about the sexual abuse she endured.

Amit Soussana was abducted from her home by at least 10 men. On October 7. She told her story to Sheryl Sandberg's documentary crew recording these atrocities. We want to warn viewers even this excerpt of her story is quite disturbing.


AMIT SOUSSANA, RELEASED HOSTAGE: I was chained for three weeks in Gaza. I was kept in a really dark room without being able to move. And whenever I needed to go and use the bathroom, I needed to ask for permission.

His name was Muhammad. He used to sit on the bed in front of me wearing his shorts and laying down. I remember I couldn't look at him. I was just like looking away and covering myself with a blanket so I wouldn't have to look at him. It made me feel really uncomfortable.

He also kept asking me, do I like sex? Do I have sex with my boyfriend? And whenever he talked about it, I just giggled and said, oh, come on, stop, stop, trying to change the subject. I knew that he is up to something. I knew that something bad is going to happen.

So one day, Muhammad came and gave me woman sanitary pads. He said, blood. When you get your period after that, you'll take a shower and you'll wash your clothes. And he kept repeating that every couple of times a day. And then I got my period, and the period was just for one day but I fooled him to think that the period is continuing until I could not lie anymore.

He untied me and took me to the kitchen and showed me a pot. I remember thinking, how can I avoid that? There's nothing I can do.


TAPPER: Sheryl Sandberg, who's been the lead in the new documentary "Screams Before Silence," joins me now.

Sheryl, Amit is the first hostage to speak out publicly on the sexual abuse she endured in Hamas captivity. Tell us more.

SHERYL SANDBERG, HOST, "SCREAMS BEFORE SILENCE": So her story is harrowing. You know, most of the victims of Hamas who experienced sexual abuse, sexual violence on October 7 were killed. But Amit, this is her story, and she has so bravely spoken out. She spoke to the "New York Times." She interviewed with us on film, as you just saw, for this documentary and she tells her story.

She was held hostage for 55 days. She was chained to a bed in a dark room for several weeks of that. She was beaten and she was sexually abused at gunpoint. And that is a terrible thing. And I think one of the reasons she has been brave enough to speak out is she, like so many people, are very worried about what is happening right now to the hostages that still remain in Gaza.

TAPPER: We're coming up on six months since those horrific October 7 terrorist attacks. What's it been like to be on the ground in the months after?

SANDBERG: I mean, in filming this documentary, I had an opportunity to bear witness. I think when people watch the documentary, they'll have a chance to bear witness. But it's incredibly sad. You know, you go to a kibbutz, a kibbutz that was filled with people who were peace loving, really believed in living in peace with their neighbors. And what you see is the buildings are in shambles, just like their lives are in shambles.

As part of the documentary, I went with a mother and the daughter to their home, you know, it's completely destroyed. And they showed me here's where our father was killed. Here's where our sister was killed. Here's the door we were taken out as hostages. You know, seven minutes later, they were across the border being held for so long. And they're the lucky ones because they got released.

But what you see at the Nova site, what you see at the kibbutz scene, what you see in all of these places are, you know, shambles, wreckage. Wreckage of people and one sign after another of the people that were killed.


TAPPER: When is this documentary expected to come out?

SANDBERG: In a few weeks. And we're putting it out online because we want everyone to have access. No paywalls or subscriptions. Anyone who wants to bear witness and see the very, very compelling evidence of the sexual assault of October 7th will be able to do that.

TAPPER: I don't know how you react, but as somebody who has reported on sexual violence in the United States and throughout the world, I continue to find it unbelievable how many people just deny the facts of what you are bearing witness to, what I've borne witness to the experience of these women and girls. How do you respond when you hear from people who are falsely saying, none of this ever happened?

SANDBERG: I cannot agree with you more. It is why I spoke out, why I, you know, agreed to do this documentary. It's why I'm talking to you right now, and I know it's why you're talking to me. The politics of this moment are blinding us. And we need to be very clear, rape is not resistance. Sexual violence is never acceptable no matter what else, no matter what you believe, no matter what you think should happen in the Middle East. It is incredibly clear that there was mass sexual violence, that it came from the top that it was part of the remit of October 7th, and there is no excuse for that. No excuse. Rape is not resistance. What particularly I think upsets me is when people say that claiming there is sexual violence here is politicization. It's exactly the opposite.

Not being willing to look at the fact and name the fact that there was sexual violence here is where the politicization comes in. And what we need to remember is rape, sexual violence has been part of war over history. It's only been 30 years since the DRC, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, where the world said no, human rights organizations said no, women's organizations said no. We will never stand for sexual violence as part of any conflict that needs to hold for this conflict as well as all others. We stand to lose too much.

TAPPER: Sheryl Sandberg, thank you so much.

SANDBERG: Thank you for having me.

TAPPER: A special election is happening right now, one that could kick one man out of a job, a man who marched in Charlottesville alongside the neo-Nazis and the white supremacists. Do voters care? We're going to go live to that small city in Oklahoma, next.



TAPPER: In our Politics Lead, voters in one small town today are deciding whether a city council member will lose his job over his past ties to white nationalism. CNN's Ed Lavendera is at a polling place in Enid, Oklahoma. And Ed, this council member was elected last year, but now he's facing a special recall election.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the tension over this election, Jake, is thick here. And one city council member told us that he fears if Judd Blevins wins this election tonight that Enid will be known as a city known for hatred.


LAVANDERA (voice-over): When neo-Nazis and white nationalist hate groups marched through Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017, this man named Judd Blevins from Oklahoma was in the crowd. He says he was there to protest the removal of confederate statues.

CROWD: You will not replace us. LAVANDERA (voice-over): Blevins returned to Oklahoma, where the monitoring group known as Right Wing Watch later reported he worked as a recruiter for a white nationalist group and posted offensive comments in an online discussion forum. He has since said he disavows these messages. Then last year, Blevins was elected to the city council in Enid, Oklahoma, 808 people voted. Blevins won by 36 votes. Blevins past had mostly flown under the radar.


CROWD: Just got to go.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Until a small group of progressive activists in Enid sounded the alarm about Blevins joining the Charlottesville march. They're trying to get him voted off the council.

KRISTI BALDEN, CHAIR, ENID SOCIAL JUSTICE COMMITTEE: It was very, very disturbing and frightening. And I thought, how is this still happening in this year?

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Kristi Balden volunteers with the Enid Social Justice Committee, which organized a recall drive. Today, voters will decide if Blevins keeps his city council seat.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We want to hit as many doors, as many addresses as we can, efficiently and politely get everybody out to vote.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): These volunteers are asking residents to vote for the other candidate on the ballot, Cheryl Patterson. But they're finding not all voters are turning against Blevins, who is a marine veteran and is fighting to keep his council seat.

BALDEN: He does have supporters in Enid, and that's the really frightening part.

LAVANDERA: There's real tension around this campaign.

BALDEN: Yes, there really is.


JUDD BLEVINS, ENID CITY COMMISSIONER: I will stand before the voters of Ward 1 and I will defend the job I've done here.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Blevins makes it hard to know where he stands at times apologetic, at other times defiant. He denies identifying as a white nationalist or a white supremacist, but has also asked forgiveness.

BLEVINS: I'm a different man today than I was yesterday. And there is no hate in my heart.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): That hasn't convinced the city's conservative leadership. They tried to censor him last fall for his failure to apologize and explain his connections to white nationalism, saying his statements have caused disruption and discontent in the city. Judd Blevins declined to speak with CNN, but he's tried to distance himself from white nationalist organizations.


BLEVINS: And if I've offended anyone in here, then I ask to be forgiven.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): That speech led to this extraordinary moment with the only black city council member, Derwin Norwood.

DERWIN NORWOOD, ENID CITY COMMISSIONER: And I want to do one thing before we quit. Can you stand up? Do you love me?

BLEVINS: Yes, I do, as a brother in Christ.

NORWOOD: I love you, too. I'll forgive you.

BLEVINS: Thank you.

NORWOOD: Up until that moment, I struggled with it, but I forgave him. And I realized that in forgiving him, I freed myself from becoming what he was or still may be.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): Blevins has tried to disavow his controversial history, but he's also tried to justify his past actions, raising questions about whether he's truly changed.

BLEVINS: But I'm not going to play this game where I take things that the media says are problems from America's past that are no longer problems today and pretend like they're serious issues. They're not.

LAVANDERA (voice-over): These latest comments have convinced Norwood that Blevins doesn't belong on the city council.

LAVANDERA: When you heard that, what did you think?

NORWOOD: He doesn't understand what he's saying. Our last council meeting, I looked at him just like I'm looking at you, and I said, man, do you realize it was a -- that put his blood and reputation out there on the line for you?

BLEVINS: Frankly, pushing back on this anti-white hatred that is so common in media and entertainment.

NORWOOD: If someone's like that in their private life, do they have any business serving in a government position? Absolutely not. Absolutely not. Because we gave an oath, we raised our right hand and we swore to the people that we will serve everyone equally and rightfully.


LAVANDERA: Jake, Judd Blevins says that if he were to win the election again and keep his seat, that he will probably not seek another term as a council member here in Enid. It's also interesting to point out that there have been a number of white nationalist groups that have been trying to raise money for Judd Blevins online. But this election is creating a great deal of intense turnout or interest among the Enid residents here. We've seen turnout. We don't know exactly officially how much turnout there has been today we won't know until after polls close. But at this one particular polling location, there have already been more than 300 voters, and there were just over 800 when he won election last year. Jake?

TAPPER: Ed Lavandera in Enid, Oklahoma, thanks so much.

Coming up next on The Lead, a deeply personal memoir just out from one of CNN's most well-known and beloved anchors. Who is it? Well, you'll have to wait until after the commercial. That conversation is next.



TAPPER: In our Pop Culture Lead, there she is, CNN's Alisyn Camerota. She's made her career reporting on other people's stories, but now the Emmy Award winning journalist is telling her own story. It is a riveting one. She joins me now to discuss her new memoir. It's called "Combat Love: A Story of Leaving, Longing and Searching for Home." The book came out one week ago today. You should really, honestly, I read this years ago.


TAPPER: Years ago. I read an early version and it's even better since then. It's so good. It's really good. And so everybody should buy it. Let's -- yes, this is not your first book.


TAPPER: I liked your first book, "Amanda Wakes Up." That's a novel about a fictional T.V. reporter and that drew from your life experiences, that network that shall not be named.


TAPPER: This book is all about you and your struggles with your family and teenage rebellion. Why? Why lay it all out there? It's so good. But why do it?

CAMEROTA: Why open my diary?


CAMEROTA: Yes. I understand that. I think that I felt that our stories of struggle and survival can bond us. And I feel like when I read somebody's story that they've struggled and they've achieved their dreams, which ultimately I did though it was really hard. It's inspiring to me. And I think in this time, nobody knows better than you how divided these times are, that our stories of struggle are actually what our connection is. And our stories of survival are what our connection is. And if I can help that, and I can help a teenage girl feel, you know, in the depths of her despair that she's still going to be able to reach her dreams, then I hope that's worth it. TAPPER: And those teen years are tough.

CAMEROTA: Yes, they are.

TAPPER: Your parents divorce had a big impact on your childhood and your search for belonging as a young teenager lead you to a local punk band called Shrapnel from New Jersey. Look at, there they are. There they are. The title of your memoir, "Combat Love," is from one of Shrapnel's songs.


TAPPER: You followed the band around New York and New Jersey during your teens, during the 80s, an era of wildness.

CAMEROTA: Unparented, I would say.

TAPPER: An unparented sex, drugs, rock and roll.



CAMEROTA: Everyone who grew up in the 80s knows there was a free range quality to growing up in the 80s where you were semi parented or unparented. And I do want to let the viewers know that in terms of the sex, drugs and punk rock, you know, you were so instrumental to me because you were one of my early readers, and you read this really raw, personal story.


CAMEROTA: And what you basically told me was that you thought that I was glossing over some of that a little too much. And your words were, I think you're yada-yadaing over some important things. And so I had to go back and really dive deeper and peel away some of the layers and tell an even more personal, raw story as a memoir warrants. And that was really helpful today. I want people to know that.

TAPPER: So my take was that it was a great book that wanted to be greater and that it was so candid. But you are, because you are charming and beautiful and clever and everything, you are able to yada-yada through all sorts of stuff like, I bet you've never gotten a speeding ticket, for example.


CAMEROTA: And I've gotten pulled up a lot.

TAPPER: Right. And never gotten a ticket as opposed to me, I get them, they don't - I'm not even in my car. And so I knew, like, you had that skill, but, like, you have more depths to plumb, right?

CAMEROTA: I really appreciated that because you were right. But it's hard, obviously to do that.

TAPPER: Oh, yes.

CAMEROTA: And to go back to your most painful memories and to write about them. And I did open the pages of my journal. You will read my diary entries, some of them in there, but it does make it a truer, more authentic, more connected story. It was the right thing to do.

TAPPER: So that brings me to my question about your mom, who I know you love dearly and you tie. She's watching right now. Yes, of course. But who doesn't love you? But if she's watching right now, I know you cared and worried about how is she going to deal with this because she's a character in the book. And let's just say that it's a difficult time for you.

CAMEROTA: Yes, she's a primary character in the book. And my mother spent several years before last week saying, can't you wait until I'm dead to publish it?

TAPPER: But hopefully that won't be for another hundred years.

CAMEROTA: No, that's a good point. No. I couldn't actually wait until she was dead because I needed her. She's the family historian. She remembers the stories about me and about our family even before I was born, and so I needed to use her as a source.

TAPPER: And you guys remembered stories differently also.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.


CAMEROTA: And I tried to respect when she was -- when she said, I don't remember it that way. I tried to respect her memories and add it in there. And I'm happy to report, Jake, that it was really hard for her, but it was ultimately cathartic for both of us to understand each other's perspectives and what were both going through during my teenage years, in my 20s. And it has a happy ending. We're really close. And she is now a big cheerleader of the book and coming to some of my book events.

TAPPER: That is so amazing.


TAPPER: Lastly, I only have 30 seconds left. But you're the mom of three teenagers.


TAPPER: I know what do they think about what crazy mom was doing in the 80s? That's nuts.

CAMEROTA: They don't. They haven't read it, but I haven't kept it from them. I want them to read it. But now that they're teenagers, 1919 and '17, the last thing they have time to do is curl up with their mother's memoir from her teenage years. They're busy being teenagers themselves. All I said to them was, guys, you know, the 80s were a lot different than now, right?

TAPPER: Right.

CAMEROTA: You remember that. So I've warned them.

TAPPER: Yes. I'm sure that the reaction would be like, boring or gross if they're anything like my kids.

CAMEROTA: Definitely.

TAPPER: Well, the book out there is "Combat Love: A Story of Leaving, Longing and Searching for Home." It's really good. Check it out. Alisyn Camerota --

CAMEROTA: Jake, thanks so much.

TAPPER: Really good to see you as always.

CAMEROTA: I really appreciate it.

TAPPER: Have you heard the big solar eclipses Monday but you cannot see a full view from some of the biggest cities on the east coast? Where can you see it? We're going to map that out for you. That's next.



TAPPER: In our out of this World Lead today, the countdown to one of the most widely anticipated and rare spectacles most people in North America will see in the sky a total solar eclipse, where the moon completely blocks out the sun, darkening the sky. So enjoy Monday's celestial show while you can, because it will not be visible across the United States again until 2044. Let's bring in meteorologist Chad Myers. Chad, where are some of the best places to see the eclipse, and how will it look depending on where you are?

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: The best place to watch it is above the clouds.


MYERS: There you go.

TAPPER: But presumably, if I don't -- if I wasn't born on Krypton, where would be a better place?

MYERS: Yes. There are -- well, there's going to be a lot of clouds. And, you know, we're still six days away. So, yes, the cloud cover will be there and the models will change. But I'm going to show you both the European and the American model and kind of give you an idea if you want to find totality, and you really, really do, because if you would just miss it by 1 or 2 percent, you don't get the full effect. But there's your totality right across parts from about Texas all the way up to Maine, 31.6 million people are already in the path. And you don't even have to move. But you may have to move because we have a storm system that's going to develop here along the Gulf coast, both models, American model and the European model, doing the same thing. So there's your totality.

And the white, unfortunately, is the computer's idea of where the clouds will be. That's the American model. Here's the European model, much better. At least most of the Ohio Valley could be clear. But, Jake, what you have to understand is that this time of year is the time of year that we have, climatologically the most clouds out there. It's spring. So will we see rain? Likely in some spots as we get closer. Saturday and Sunday, plan your trip accordingly. You likely will have to move from many locations to the best ones. And right now, probably close to the Mississippi river. We'll see.

TAPPER: All right, close to the Mississippi. On a more serious note right now, there are some tornado warnings popping up this hour. What places are most at risk for that?

MYERS: We have tornadoes on the ground right now in northern Kentucky, just east of Louisville. This is the area here. These storms have been just building and bubbling all day long, and tornado watches are in effect. But warnings mean that they're happening right now, East of Louisville and moving away from Louisville. But all the areas here from Columbus all the way down to the Gulf coast could see severe weather tonight. You need to have your radio on. You need to have your phone on, some way to get these warnings, Jake, because the storms are moving at 50 miles per hour, you're not going to have long. You're not going to have 30 minutes and say, oh, I'll get to the basement when I can't.

No, when you hear that warning, you need to get to the basement now. Later on, it moves off toward the east. And even by tomorrow afternoon, there could be some thunderstorms along the Gulf coast and also the east coast. But look at this. Yes. Jake, that's snow. I don't even know where to begin. But blizzard warnings are in effect for parts of the upper Midwest.


TAPPER: Yes, it is April and that is snow. Chad Myers, thank you so much. Join CNN for Monday's eclipse across America. We're on the air with special coverage starting at 1:00 p.m. Eastern on CNN, streaming on Max. And if you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to the show once you get your podcasts. The news continues on CNN. I'll see you tomorrow.