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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Jury Weighs Cohen's Credibility As Trump's Defense Team Resumes Cross-Examination Tomorrow; CNN To Host First Biden-Trump Debate On June 27; Fighting Near Key Ukrainian City Intensifies As Russia Makes Gains; Boris Johnson Reacts To Russia's Renewed Ukraine Assault; Former Rep. Mia Love On How Faith Helped With Her Cancer Diagnosis. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 15, 2024 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to The Lead. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour what's going on at the FDIC? Lawmakers are trying to get at exactly that they grilled the man in charge of that key federal bank regulator. He's facing calls to resign after accusations of pervasive sexual harassment and discrimination at the FDIC and the bullying of lower level employees. Coming up, the tough questions that the chair of the FDIC face today on Capitol Hill.

Plus, an attempted assassination of Slovakia's Prime Minister shot multiple times earlier today. The sheer panic in the streets as this attack went down.

And leading this hour, a moment of truth that needs to play out tomorrow in the New York hush money cover-up case against former President Trump. The criminal conviction or acquittal of a former president could really come down to this question. Does the jury believe Donald Trump, the defendant, or Michael Cohen, the key witness? Tomorrow, jurors are going to continue to hear testimony from Michael Cohen, the key witness in this case who was once a self- described, quote, "designated thug," unquote, for Donald Trump. Cohen will resume intense cross examination as the defense argues that Cohen can simply not be trusted.

Just to give you a sense of how the defense set the tone yesterday, here was Trump attorney Todd Blanche on his very first exchange with Michael Cohen, "Mr. Cohen, my name is Todd Blanche, you and I have never spoken or met before, have we?" Cohen, "We have not." Blanche, "But you know who I am, don't you?" Cohen, "I do." Blanche, "As a matter of fact, on April 23, so after the trial started in the case, you went on TikTok and called me a crying little shit, didn't you?"

Cohen, "Sounds like something I would say," unquote. Apologies for the cursing there, but that's the transcript from court. The judge then sustained an objection from the prosecution. The defense highlighted Cohen's penchant for serial lying and going over a litany of insults that Cohen has unleashed on Trump since they became estranged. That includes calling Trump a, quote, "Boorish cartoon misogynist," and a quote, "Cheeto-dusted cartoon villain." Cohen's go to response every time he was asked something like, quote, "sounds like something I'd say." The defense also got Cohen to say he has built up a lucrative business, especially from books focused on criticizing his former mentor, Donald Trump. But before the defense was unleashed on Trump's former lawyer, the prosecution had walked Cohen through the most important part of the case so far, not what Cohen has said but Cohen confirming that Donald Trump falsified business records to cover up the hush money payment scheme to Stormy Daniels doing this in an effort to influence the 2016 election by hiding those payments from the public. Now that is the alleged crime that Trump is on trial for and Cohen is testifying under oath saying, yes, my former boss is guilty of this. Of course, it is also true as we will hear tomorrow from the defense, being under oath has not stopped Michael Cohen from lying before, he has pleaded guilty on a charge of lying to Congress in 2018.

In this trial, he testified the lies to Congress were meant to protect Trump. He says you can believe him now, because he was later reformed after a quasi-intervention from his family. So this is a tale of two Cohens. And all of that is what this Manhattan jury is left to ponder as the prosecution could rest its case as early as tomorrow. Let's discuss with Lanny Davis, a former attorney for Michael Cohen and a crisis management specialist.

First of all, let me correct something I said because I said he lied to Congress in 2018, I think I meant 2017, right? That's when he lied, testifying behind closed doors before the intelligence committees investigating ties that Trump had with Russia. His justification is, I did that at the behest of Mr. Trump. But that doesn't make it any better.

LANNY DAVIS, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR MICHAEL COHEN: No, all of his lies on behalf of according to federal prosecutors, who prosecuted Michael Cohen, they wrote at the direction, that was their word, of Mr. Trump does not excuse the lies, but it just shows that he was at that time of his life doing anything, as I perceived him for 10 years, lying all the time for Donald Trump.

TAPPER: So the defense drew jurors' attention to Cohen social media posts and his podcasts and the like dragging Trump. He said Cohen made money off books dragging Trump's name, more than $3 million Cohen testified, that's a lot of money for two books. You've written books. I mean --

DAVIS: I didn't make that much.

TAPPER: Yes. And that's what I'm -- me too. This could all come down to whether the jury believes Michael Cohen or Donald Trump, both of whom have had their issues with facts in the past. Why should the jury believe Michael Cohen and not Donald Trump?

DAVIS: So my disagreement is the assumption behind not just you but everyone that Michael Kohn needs to be believed for the jury to convict. For two years, I've watched the prosecutor, the same team that you're seeing, prepare this case with Michael in the room with documents, text messages, and now we know testimony from David Pecker, from Hope Hicks, from others, and most importantly, hot document, meaning a really harmful document to Mr. Trump by Mr. Weisselberg.


TAPPER: I know you're going to bring him up. Let's show everybody the Allen Weisselberg document if we can, folks, because I do -- it is important. We're broken that up in a second. But why is that document from Allen Weisselberg key? Because you have called it the smoking gun.

DAVIS: Well, we saw it at the time, and I still see it at the time, because if the jury has any question about whether these were legal fees, which is what Mr. Trump has said, falsely, or whether they were reimbursements for a criminal payment that Michael Cohen went to jail for, that's the second issue in the case where they legal fees, as Trump says, or were they reimbursements as Michael Cohen.

TAPPER: So there it is. So this is --

DAVIS: That document proves they were reimbursed.

TAPPER: Yes, so the document we're showing here, this is Allen Weisselberg. And it's a document that basically comes up with the amount that they are going to pay Michael Cohen, which is reimbursement for the payment to Stormy Daniels, according to the prosecutors and Michael Cohen, plus 50,000 more for this other thing having to do with like some --

DAVIS: Whole bunch of things.

TAPPER: -- bogus polling or whatever, that's $180,000 times two so that there's no tax penalty plus $150,000 because Michael Cohen was upset, he didn't get a good Christmas bonus. That's -- in total, that's $420,000. And then it says $35,000 every month from Donald Trump. So that is the scheme and we haven't heard an alternate suggestion as to what this is.

DAVIS: It's taking a number, adding all those things up, including the illegal hush money, which federal prosecutor said was politically motivated based on the evidence.

TAPPER: Well, is hush money in itself illegal?

DAVIS: No. If it's politically motivated --


DAVIS: -- then it's illegal and it deprives the American people of information before a president.

TAPPER: Right. OK.

DAVIS: But the second issue is the tougher issue. And the Weisselberg document proves that by taking those numbers and dividing by 12, you don't come up with a legal retainer. You're taking numbers dividing by 12. And repaying Michael Cohen in part for the criminal money that he went to prison for. If they decide that that document shows that Weisselberg knew there were no legal fees on television, I don't know if that's been introduced yet, Rudy Giuliani said they were reimbursements.

TAPPER: Reimbursements. Yes.

DAVIS: And there's more than enough evidence that they were reimbursements. Now it's up to the jury to decide, do we need Donald Trump to personally look at the bookkeeper writing down legal expenses, which is fraudulent? Or can we conclude and that's why I use my snow on the ground circumstantial evidence prove a jury uses its common sense. Is there any other explanation --


DAVIS: -- other than reimbursing Michael Cohen?

TAPPER: So do you have --

DAVIS: For those $35,000 checks.

TAPPER: Do you -- well, they -- I mean, they say, the defense says that was Michael Cohen being paid $35,000 every month because he was on retainer. I know that Cohen saying that's bogus.

DAVIS: No, because the document by Weisselberg --

TAPPER: And the document.

DAVIS: -- contradicts that.

TAPPER: You keep talking about Rudy Giuliani saying it -- calling it reimbursement. I don't think they've introduced that and trial, at least not that I'm aware of. Have they? And why haven't they if they have not?

DAVIS: That's a very good question. It would be hearsay unless you got Rudy Giuliani on the witness stand.


DAVIS: That's probably something that jury can't consider is Rudy Giuliani. But everybody knew within the organization --


DAVIS: -- that Michael Cohen was not on a retainer. And the federal prosecutors said there was never a retainer agreement.

TAPPER: So, Donald Trump has in recent weeks been abiding by the gag order. He has refrained from attacking Michael Cohen. He has refrained from attacking Stormy Daniels. He has refrained from attacking the jury. He has been doing that.

Michael Cohen has not abided by the requests that people have made of him to stop insulting Donald Trump. He's definitely dialed it back a little bit. But even I think it was a week ago, he was seeing wearing a shirt with an image of Donald Trump and a jumpsuit behind bars at the Mar-a-Lago jail. There it is. Have you said to him throughout this process, can you just dial it back or not go after him because that's only going to help Donald Trump?

DAVIS: I'm no longer his lawyer.

TAPPER: Right. But you're his friend.

DAVIS: I'm his friend. I think I can tell you that he's not going to do that again now that the trial has started. But I do want on his behalf to say there's a difference between a man who's indicted and Michael Cohen has been attacked, his family has been attacked by Trump. He has lived in fear because of Trump, so he's an angry man and doesn't mind calling out Trump. But as to now during the trial, I would say it's not a good idea.

TAPPER: Is there anything that you wish the prosecution has had done differently?

DAVIS: No, I think the summary argument will be my final test to see whether they can make the argument that I certainly saw unfolding when I was in the room and they prepared months after months of preparing him and going through to say to the jury, you can change the subject about what the evidence, witnesses, e-mails, Weisselberg, documents speak for themselves --


TAPPER: Right.

DAVIS: -- and change the subject by having this an attack on Michael Cohen decision by you. Or you can look at the documents and see whether Michael Cohen is corroborated by everyone, and then judge whether someone who did admit to lying for 10 years and own that lie, and expressed his shame for those lies, can be believed on this occasion.

TAPPER: Lanny Davis --

DAVIS: And I think it's up to the jury.

TAPPER: Lanny Davis, it's good to see -- oh, we're going to have you on the show tomorrow? You know?

DAVIS: I think so.

TAPPER: You know? OK.

DAVIS: I'm traveling to visit my son tomorrow, so.

TAPPER: OK. Well, that's certainly a worthy excuse. But we do like having you there to represent Michael Cohen. He doesn't have a lot of defenders out there. Lanny Davis, thank you so much.

DAVIS: Thank you, Jake. TAPPER: And big news in the 2024 race today, President Biden, Donald Trump accepting invitations for two debates, and the very first one is right here on CNN just next month. You got to hear how they accepted the invite. President Biden was just asked about the back and forth of the White House. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our 2024 lead earlier today President Biden challenge former President Trump's a two debate saying, quote, "Make my day, pal." Trump fired back saying, let's get ready to rumble. Meanwhile, the stage is set for a historically early showdown in an election year after both men agreed to face off right here on CNN on Thursday, June 27. I'm going to get to co-moderate the debate with my colleague and friend Dana Bash.

Moments ago at the White House, reporters tried to shout questions such as why he won't commit to a third debate and why a June debate. With all the shouting, you couldn't really make out President Biden's response. Let's bring in CNN's MJ Lee at the White House and Kristen Holmes here in studio. She covers the Trump campaign for us.

First to MJ. MJ, why was Biden's campaign so eager to get this on the calendar so early in June?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, what we saw Jake was a total SmackDown by the Biden campaign of the presidential debate calendar that the Commission on Presidential Debates had proposed. What the Biden campaign said was that this idea that the first debate between the two candidates wouldn't take place until mid-September was just ludicrous. It was too late. It would be after some voters had actually participated already in early voting in some parts of the country. And Jen O'Malley Dillon saying in a letter to the commission that the calendar shows the serious limitations of the CPDs outdated approach.

And this, of course, was not the only issue that the Biden campaign took with the Commission, the CNN studio, the Atlanta studio, where the first debate is going to take place in June is not going to have a live audience. And the Biden campaign had said that the way that these debates were arranged in the past with these large audiences that they have become spectacles, and really a distraction for the viewers who are really trying to learn about the positions of the candidates that are involved.

Now, one thing we have learned about debate prep is that one person who will be participating is Ron Klain. This is of course, the president's former chief of staff and very close advisor, he tells me that he's going to be taking some vacation time to participate in these prep sessions. The question that we don't know the answer to, of course yet is who is going to be filling in and the role of Donald Trump. The person that played that role back in 2020 was Bob Bauer, the president's personal lawyer. TAPPER: And Kristen Holmes, you follow the Trump campaign for us very closely very well, this all happened rather quickly. How did it come together behind the scenes?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, for former President Trump, he has made debating Biden a key part of his campaign, they passed out notes to surrogates, trying to get them to talk about how Trump would debate Biden anywhere at any time. Trump has actually been carrying around an extra podium that he puts next to him at his rallies to kind of try and mock Biden or at least push him into debating because Biden had not reacted. So it's not surprising that Trump's team jumped on this. Now we were told that there was at least one conversation behind the scenes between the two camps, essentially saying that they both agreed that this was important to have these debates, but they were not prepared the Trump team for what happened today. And what I've actually been told by some of the senior advisors is that they're a little bit irked at the fact that that it seems as though Biden took control of the debate narrative, something they have been trying to hammer home over and over again for the past several weeks.

And Biden got out there first accepted first, but I will let you know in case you're worried the mudslinging has not stopped yet. Donald Trump still on Truth Social attacking Joe Biden saying he's the worst debater he's ever gone up again, he can't even string a sentence together. So I think we can expect more of that all the way through June.

TAPPER: And MJ, so President Biden and former President Trump have agreed to two debates, the first one here on CNN, the second one over at ABC. On Truth Social Trump said he accepted an offer for a third debate on Fox. Now how is the White House, the Biden White House responding to that offer?

LEE: Yes, they shut that down pretty quickly. Jen O'Malley Dillon saying in a statement that Donald Trump has a history of playing games when it comes to these debates. And she said, no more games, no more chaos, no more debates about the debates. So basically, the two debates June 27 and September 10, those are the only two that the Biden campaign is going to agree to. And what I think is interesting, Jake, is that the Biden campaign, clearly, as Kristen was sort of referencing here, tried to use this debate to get on the offensive.

They want it to be the first to say here are the two sort of approximate dates that we are proposing. They're going to be earlier than what the commission said and sort of forced the Trump campaign to accept and respond to that offer. And we have also seen moments of the Biden campaign sort of trying to needle the Trump campaign as well. President Biden for example said earlier in a video, I hear you're free on Wednesdays. That obviously is a clear reference to the fact that the former president has been spending a lot of time stuck in a New York City courtroom.


TAPPER: Yes. So one of the things that the Biden team did is they said that whoever did the debate, it needed to be a channel that had hosted Republican debates in 2016, and Democratic debates in 2020. And I think that eliminated both Fox and MSNBC. So that's -- there are only four channels left, including CNN. There is not going to be a live audience at these debates.

Donald Trump loves crowds. He loves to play off the crowd. How's he reacting to that?

HOLMES: I think they wanted to get out there, Jake, and accept very quickly. Remember, again, they were making this a key part of their campaign, it didn't want to seem at any point as if Donald Trump was dragging his feet. So they did agree to the terms that were set forward. But whether or not Donald Trump can thrive in an environment like that remains to be seen. We can obviously assume they'll be doing at least some preparation, even though Donald Trump doesn't like to do any sort of preparation at all.

But also part of this is going to be how he actually reacts once he's in the room. And none of us can guess how that's going to be. There's a reason he has these big crowds. There's a reason that he always wants to be around a live audience. He plays off of them.

He jokes off of them. He gets energy from those -- from that audience. So, when you're in a room without that, be very interesting to see how that works for the former president.

TAPPER: Yes. All right. MJ Lee, Kristen Holmes, thanks to both you. Fascinating day.

Again, CNN is going to host the very first 2024 General Election presidential debate. I will get to co-moderate with my friend and colleague, Dana Bash. It's June 27. It's a Thursday 9:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN streaming on Max also on CNN Espanol.

Tough questions for the head of the FDIC, that is the agency that regulates banks, he's facing questions today about allegations of sexual harassment as well as discrimination and bullying at the agency as well as discrimination and bullying as a cultural problem. The confrontation today on Capitol Hill next.



TAPPER: In our money lead, Martin Gruenberg, the chairman of the FDIC or Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which regulates banks was grilled by lawmakers on Capitol Hill today over the release of a scathing 234 page report describing a culture of widespread sexual harassment and discrimination at the FDIC. In his opening statement, Gruenberg apologized for the toxic workplace culture.


MARTIN GRUENBERG, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL DEPOSIT INSURANCE CORPORATION: I accept the findings of the report. And as chairman, I take full responsibility to anyone who has experienced sexual harassment, discrimination or other misconduct at the FDIC. I again personally want to apologize.


TAPPER: CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill for us.

Manu, that apology didn't stop lawmakers for calling on him to resign.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, in fact, he faced most of those resignation calls from Republicans even though he faced a barrage of criticism from both sides of the aisle, Democrats and Republicans alike.

Jake, I want to pause right here because I'm going to try to ask Congressman Henry Cuellar who has been indicted on federal charges about that.

TAPPER: Sure. Go for it.

RAJU: Mr. Cuellar, three of your people are ties to just pleaded guilty in this bribery case against you. What's your reaction to that?

REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): We're not afraid of the truth.

RAJU: What's that supposed to mean. Two of them were your -- one's a consultant and a campaign chairman who said that funneling bribes to you.

CUELLAR: Like I said, we're not afraid of the truth.

RAJU: What about the $600,000 in payments? How did that get in your bank account? Will you resign? Will you resign?


RAJU: OK. Well, that was a separate story, of course, Jake. This is -- it's Henry Cuellar, Texas Democrat, just indicted a couple of weeks back about $600,000 and alleged bribes he received from two foreign entities. And just about in the past week, three of his associates were pleaded guilty, including two of his top aides to allegedly funneling bribes to him. He has not yet commented on any of this. So I just had a chance, as you heard there, trying to ask him about this.

He decided to of course not exactly say other than the fact that he believes the truth will come out. And not -- don't want to discuss this further as he walked into the elevator there, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much, Manu. Do you want to give us a little update there on the FDIC hearing at all?

RAJU: Yes, that's right. So, as we were saying, in that hearing, the Republicans and Democrats both laid -- made clear their anger at the FDIC Chairman over this report that was conducted by an outside law firm finding widespread sexual harassment at this agency. And many of the Republicans called on him to resign, Democrats too, so they did not have confidence in them. And they made clear they let their anger known. Take a listen. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): According to the FDIC's own reporting, more than 80 percent of harassment complaints resulted in zero discipline. And when there were repercussions, not a single one resulted in removal, reductions in greater pay, or any discipline more serious than a temporary suspension. I am so tired of white men failing up.

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): But as I sit here right now, if I'm going to be honest, I'm pissed off. I heard people talking about upset, appalled, but I'm pissed off.

REP. STEPHEN LYNCH (D-MA): You're on a short leash. You know, a lot of people here like to see you gone, to be honest with you.


RAJU: And Jake, this is an agency that Chairman Gruenberg has led for 10 of the past 13 years. Joe Biden named him to this position for a five-year term. He was sworn in back in January. And there's a reason why Democrats perhaps have not gone as far as calling on him to resign because if he were to step aside, then there'll be a Republican vice chair who would lead this panel at this agency. And essentially a lot of the regulations that are now being considered under the FDIC could come to us halt. Perhaps that's one reason why the White House itself has not gone as far as calling on him to resign. Not yet commenting on this hearing yet, either, Jake, although the Senate Banking Committee plans to hear from him tomorrow to so expect some fireworks there as well.


TAPPER: The State of Washington, D.C. 2024, we have to interrupt one report on a scandal at the FDIC to bring you an interview in the hallway with a different scandal subject, a congressman who has been indicted. Manu Raju on top of all of it for us, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, the attempted assassination today of Slovakia's Prime Minister, shot and multiple times. What are officials saying about his condition? Plus, why someone might have wanted to come after him in the first place. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Topping our World Lead today, chaotic scenes, his aides rushed Slovakia's Prime Minister into a car after an assassination attempt earlier today. Prime Minister Robert Fico so was shot five times after a government meeting and is now, quote, fighting for his life according to Slovak officials. He was initially stabilized at a nearby hospital then taken by helicopter to a hospital with a higher level trauma facility where he was rushed into surgery.

[17:35:15] The suspect is now in police custody scene here after the shooting. Slovakia's interior minister says this was quote politically motivated. Prime Minister Fico is considered a divisive figure. He won his third term by criticizing Western support for you for Ukraine.

Meanwhile, in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is canceling all upcoming international trips as his country comes under renewed intense attack by Russia as U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken tries to assure Ukraine that much needed U.S. weapons and ammunition are being rushed to the front lines, announcing another $2 billion in U.S. military financing before he wrapped up his surprise trip.

Let's get right to CNN's Nick Paton Walsh on the ground in the northeastern city of Kharkiv. And Nick, it sounds as though Russia made even more gains near where you are. Tell us what you are experiencing?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes. Look, behind me you can barely see the second largest city of Ukraine because of the blackout. And it's occasionally punctuated by explosions referred to in the last half hour or so. Again, this huge city, which felt, frankly in the first year of the war 2022 when Russian forces were kicked out of this whole area in a lightning move by Ukraine that they had seen the worst of the war behind it now having to get its head around the idea that it's coming back fast.

The last five days, Jake, have seen an extraordinary move by Russia on essentially an entirely new front pushing again back from their territory down towards Kharkiv here, a key town on the border called Vovchans'k. We've seen a lot of the fighting. And today, Ukraine said they had to reposition their troops within that a euphemism basically for a tactical withdrawal that was coupled by local police chief saying he'd heard gunfire in the streets, clearly Russian troops now fighting it out for that particular town.

They also say Russia, they've got about a double digits worth of villages in that border area under their control. Now, if they keep moving, which appears to be the case, then their guns may get in range of here and that will be both a huge blow for Ukraine's psyche and also to a big drain on already fatigued Ukrainian resources. Volodymyr Zelenskyy yesterday said cancel this travel there, so important to go around to allies asking for more aid faster.

But he also reassured Ukrainians that the fight and the resources they need to throw at the fight here in Kharkiv would not see other losses along very stretched frontlines in the east in particular. We've seen, Jake, remarkable gains by Russia over the past month down there at Avdiivka in the east there. That continues as I speak. And a sense here, I think that the delay of that aid certainly has left Ukraine starved of ammunition. Its morale tanked back in December when they learned they weren't going to get that $61 billion, potentially at all. Now it's just delayed.

But I think a feeling here that Russia has seen a window where Ukraine is weak. It doesn't have the weapons yet. Moscow does have the weapons. It does have the manpower and it's using it fast and fierce. Out towards Vovchans'k today, you know, we have multiple airstrikes, some landing near us. It is really intense Russia's moves here and they are not stopping. Jake?

TAPPER: Nick, will Ukraine be able to fight back with this ammunition with these weapons?

WALSH: The question is how fast. I mean Secretary State Blinken was -- Antony Blinken was in Kyiv the last two days sounding the message of solidarity trying to remind Ukraine that the U.S. is with them. Despite the feeling that they've had, frankly, they've been left to fight this by themselves. The weapons may start coming into their hands here, fine, this week today. But it hasn't materially changed the speed of Russia's advance.

And certainly up here in the northern areas, it's flat territory. There's not a lot of it until you start getting into an area right here where you could punish kharkiv with its artillery. So that's a key threat now. But the real thing to watch, Jake, is how Ukraine in this next month has to spread the thin resources it has across multiple areas of bad news. The weapons will start to come in. But they haven't, they haven't been able to hold Russia back yet.

And there's a danger here, I think, too, that, you know, while we in the West here that $61 billion is on its way. And we hear Blinken talk about solidarity and weapons and more money. It hasn't actually turned up here yet. It hasn't turned the tide here at all. And that sense of solidarity hasn't translated into a change of fortunes on the ground. And until it does, Ukraine is seeing possibly the worst period has had since the invasion. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh on the ground for us and Ukraine. Please stay safe. Thank you so much.

Joining us now, the former Prime Minister of the U.K., Boris Johnson. Prime Minister Johnson, you've been to Ukraine --


TAPPER: Good afternoon, sir. You've been to Ukraine three times since leaving office. What is your assessment of this renewed Russian offensive and do you think this new flow of military aid will be enough for Ukraine to push back?


JOHNSON: Well, I guess it was inevitable. And, yes, I'm confident that the Ukrainians now have the money flowing through to enable them to push back very well. They've got to have permission, of course, to be able to attack the Russian forces as they mass within Russia itself. And I was very interested to hear what Secretary Blinken said about that. I should say, by the way, how grateful I am as a supporter of Ukraine, to America for the $61 billion.

It will make a huge difference as your show has rightly been saying, unfortunately, it hasn't been able to make a big difference yet. But I've no doubt that it will. In the meantime, we were just discussing on your show. What can be done to help the Ukrainians more urgently put the pressure on Putin with the $330 billion worth of Russian assets that are frozen outside Russia, expropriate that, give that to the Ukrainians. That would definitely put pressure on Putin, right now make him think twice about continuing his vicious, vicious attacks.

And the other thing I'd say is do something about Crimea. Give the Ukrainians more stuff with which to imperil Putin certain positions in Crimea. That's what needs to happen.

TAPPER: As a conservative, how frustrating was it for you to watch the Conservatives here in the United States and the Congress delay the delivery of this aid, and in some cases completely oppose it?

JOHNSON: Well, you know, the Conservatives were pro church. And I understand people's feelings about, you know, America has always had a strain of isolationism. But I would just say to all my fellow Conservatives, in the U.S., look, don't forget that for a tiny, tiny proportion of the annual U.S. defense budget, supporting the Ukrainians in their fight against a completely illegal criminal cruel invasion, you are helping them to stabilize and pacify the whole Euro Atlantic area. Because if Putin wins in Ukraine, believe me, he'll come again, for the Baltic states, but Georgia for all the areas around the old Soviet Union that he wants to rebuild. So it's a massive investment in peace.

And, of course, what you're also doing is sending a signal to Xi Jinping and China, that aggression, trying to change borders by force is not something that the United States of America, the arsenal of democracy is going to allow to happen easily. And that's a very, very powerful and important message right now.

TAPPER: An article in this weekend, "Sunday Times," a conservative British paper sheds some light on how British politicians are engaged in a, quote, stealthy effort to try to convince Trump that it is in America's interest to help Ukraine to resist Russia. The article went on to say that you had a, quote, handful of direct conversations with Trump by telephone, in the past few months on the topic, what approach has proven most useful when you have these conversations with Mr. Trump, who is skeptical of continued aid to Ukraine?

JOHNSON: Well, people say this about the former president or President Trump. And actually you look at his record, who was the guy who actually gave the Ukrainians the Javelin anti-tank weapons, which was so vital in that initial defensive of Kyiv when Putin thought that his tanks were going to roll in within a matter of days and take the Ukrainian capital, it was Donald Trump, who gave the Ukrainians those weapons.

And you remember, in 2014, the Obama White House actually didn't really do very much to support Ukraine. So actually, the paradox is that I think Donald Trump has a good record on Ukraine. And when it came to the, the 61 billion to the supplemental and, you know, again, I pay tribute to the United States of America. My understanding of what happened is that the President Trump played a very important role in reassuring congressional figures, that this was a sensible thing to do, because it was structured as you know, as a loan, like the Lendlease loan to Britain in the Second World War.

And my understanding is that, you're correct. I've, of course been talking to politicians across the United States about this issue. I wouldn't go into the details of it. But my understanding is that the President was very important in that respect.


TAPPER: I wasn't expecting an FDR Churchill Lendlease reference in this interview, but I appreciate it. Lastly, sir, as somebody who feels very strongly about helping Ukraine, do you think that President Trump or President Biden would be better on that issue?

JOHNSON: Look, it's not for me to, you know, I'm a friendly, friendly observer of -- and supporter of the United States of America. It's not for me to get involved in, you know, the domestic issues of the election that are coming up. All I can say is that I believe the interests of America, the long term interests of America, are profoundly served by ensuring peace and stability in the Euro Atlantic area, pushing Putin back, stopping this act of criminal aggression because of the message it sends to potential aggressors around the world and particularly obviously, in the whole Asia Pacific region.

TAPPER: Born on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, always good to see you, sir. Thanks for joining.

JOHNSON: Nice to see you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next, a special report on a friend of The Lead who appears often here on the show her battle with cancer and her faith and how it's helping her with a difficult prognosis.




MIA LOVE (R-UT), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: My parents immigrated to this country with $10 in their pockets, and hope that the America they heard about really did exist. When tough times came, they didn't look to Washington. They looked within.


TAPPER: Congresswoman Mia Love is used to fighting political battles. But now the former Republican congresswoman from Utah is fighting a battle that's much more personal and frankly, much more consequential. In 2022, Mia Love was diagnosed with brain cancer. I recently sat down with her to talk about how her faith and immunotherapy that she's receiving through a clinical trial have impacted her journey with cancer and in life.


LOVE: You've got this perfect life, perfect time. And then one day, it's not perfect.

TAPPER (voice-over): For former Congresswoman Mia Love, the first black woman ever elected to Congress from Utah, everything changed in early 2022.

LOVE: I knew something was wrong, but I didn't think it was a big deal, everybody gets headaches, you know, everyone gets them.

TAPPER (voice-over): But on a family vacation in Puerto Rico, the headaches became unbearable.

LOVE: It's almost like it's there were two ice picks that just made my head feel like it was exploding.

TAPPER (voice-over): Her husband, Jason Love, rushed her to a hospital.

LOVE: We were able to get a CAT scan there. I showed my husband the images. And he's like there's a tumor right here honey.

TAPPER (voice-over): Back in Utah, doctors removed nearly 95 percent of the tumor. But more bad news soon followed when the biopsy results revealed the tumor was cancerous, malignant. Mia Love underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments, but the diagnosis was dire. Love became one of the approximately 14,000 cases diagnosed each year in the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute.

TAPPER: This is the same thing that Ted Kennedy died of.

LOVE: Yes. That was really --

TAPPER: That Beau Biden died of, right?

LOVE: Yes.

TAPPER (voice-over): Doctor said she only had 10 to 15 months to live.

LOVE: I was devastated. I actually had a doctor look at me and say, you're going to die from this. It's inevitable. You're going to die. They can't figure out my diagnosis. And I have to take that.

TAPPER: Right.

LOVE: But I don't have to take the prognosis.

TAPPER: Are you a member the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints?

LOVE: I am.

TAPPER: Did your faith help?

LOVE: Oh, absolutely. I was finding, I was looking for a cure in my faith and in science. Funny thing is my patriarchal blessing said you will have a long and prosperous life, a rich and rewarding life so long as you decide to remain upon this earth. So I thought, OK, that's God's word there. And then there's the doctors word.

TAPPER (voice-over): On advice from some of her former colleagues in Congress, Mia Love reached out to Dr. Henry Friedman, a neuro- oncologist at Duke University.

DR. HENRY S. FRIEDMAN, NEURO-ONCOLOGIST, DUKE CANCER CENTER: The single most important thing we offered her was hope.

TAPPER (voice-over): Hope and a spot on a clinical trial being conducted at the Preston Robert Tisch Brain Tumor Center.

LOVE: He said, I'm trying to cure this thing. It's the first time I ever heard that from a doctor.

TAPPER (voice-over): Over the last few decades, immunotherapy, which uses parts of a person's immune system to target and fight cancer cells has become an important part of treating certain types of cancers including GBM.

FRIEDMAN: We basically treated the tumor with a catheter, infusing a monoclonal antibody that binds the tumor and carries with it a toxin.

TAPPER (voice-over): Since August 2023, every three weeks, Love has been receiving that treatment at Duke University.

LOVE: Every scan I go through, it's either not growing or it has reduced a little bit.

TAPPER (voice-over): And while this treatment is working for Mia Love --

FRIEDMAN: Nothing works for all patients.

TAPPER (voice-over): -- it's too soon to know just how long this will continue to work for her.

FRIEDMAN: The therapy strategies using immunotherapy and GBM are getting better. And I think that we're getting to a point now, where we're making a meaningful impact on these patients' lives.

TAPPER (voice-over): Love is leaning into hope to help.

LOVE: I have to say this is for everyone who is struggling with something like this, do not underestimate the power of a positive attitude.



TAPPER: Former Congresswoman Mia Love has had almost a year more than her original doctor said she would have after her original diagnosis. She told me she has spent that time enjoying every moment with her family and we want to thank Mia and Jason Love for letting us tell their story for trusting us with that honor. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: Our last leads now, the so called Dublin-New York portal which transmitted live images of people passing by on the streets of Dublin, Ireland and in downtown Manhattan has been closed downs. It was popular in both cities, but "The Irish Times" reports some folks were either exposing themselves or holding pornographic pictures in front of those cameras. The portal may reopen if someone can figure out how to detect and blur this controversial material in real time. Sorry.

You ever wake up with the urge to scale a 21-foot monuments all greased up with vegetable shortening? Well, we do that in Philly every now and then. But the Naval Academy also does it once a year. You're watching today's Herndon climb. It's a ritual where freshmen try to remove the hat at the top and replace it with an upperclassman hat. This is how they mark the transition to upperclassmen. This year's class did it in two hours 19 minutes, 11 seconds.


Before we go an announcement here if you'll permit me, our show United States of Scandal is coming back in season one. I went behind the headlines to investigate and report and interview some of the most iconic political controversial figures of our time. Here's a taste.


TAPPER: We're here to get your side of the story.

Where are the weapons of mass destruction?

How do you view your time as governor?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I had 2,896 days in prison to ask myself 1,000 questions including that.


TAPPER: So that was season one, a brand new season of United States of Scandal, season two will premiere in 2025.

The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. See you tomorrow morning, bright and early for the Trump trial.