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The Lead with Jake Tapper

"Diddy" Shown In 2016 Vide Assaulting Former Girlfriend; Top Golfer Scottie Scheffler Calls Arrest A "Big Misunderstanding"; Michael Cohen Returns To Witness Stand Monday; Biden Makes New Appeal To Black Voters; House Committee Meeting Devolves Into Name-Calling, Insults; Judge & Prosecutor In GA Elections Case Up For Re-Election; Book Details How Man Known As "Fat Leonard" Bribed The U.S. Navy. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 17, 2024 - 17:00   ET




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

This hour this is what the House Oversight Committee looked like last night.


REP. MARJORIE TAYLR GREENE (R-GA): I think your fake eyelashes are messing up.

REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): Oh and nothing. Oh girl, baby girl. Oh really? Don't even play.

If someone on this committee then starts talking about somebody's bleach blonde, bad built beach body, that would not be engaging in personalities Correct?

REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): A what now?


TAPPER: Is this the Congress of the future? Plus the loyalty test on full display at the New York hush money cover up case. Today, we learned a co-defendant of Donald Trump and his Georgia case was also up in the Manhattan courtroom this week. Why? We'll talk to Anthony Scaramucci, he was briefly Trump's White House communication's director.

And leading this hour the horrific new shocking video obtained exclusively by CNN's Los Angeles Bureau showing Sean "Diddy" Combs on a rampage in 2016 barely holding onto his bath towel as he attacks his then girlfriend Cassie Ventura coming after in a hotel hallway. In a lawsuit settled last year Venture alleged Combs paid that Los Angeles hotel $50,000 for security footage of this attack. A warning to our viewers that the surveillance video we're about to show you is violent and disturbing. Let's bring in entertainment lawyer Lisa Bonner and CNN's Josh Campbell.

Josh, walk us through this video and how it fits in to all of the allegations against Diddy from Cassie's lawsuit to the other lawsuits.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. This video obtained exclusively by CNN very disturbing, quite stunning as you see these images. And as you pointed out, what we're about to see matches allegations that Ventura made in a lawsuit that was filed in November. Now as we play this video again, the warning this is disturbing, this was from March of 2016 at the InterCon hotel here in Los Angeles. What we see is Ventura exiting a hotel room and walking towards a bank of elevators.

Now Combs is holding a towel, he then starts running down the hallway after Ventura. At one point we see him grab her and then by the neck and then throw her to the ground. There's this ongoing assault that's happening as she's sitting there motionless. Now he retrieves a purse and some other items and then proceeds to again kick her. Now she is then seen a bit later trying to reach for a phone there on the wall.

He appears again and then starts strikes her there's another vantage point of this video where we see him seated and then grabbing an object off the table and then throwing it at Ventura. So really, really stunning and disturbing footage here. It's worth pointing out that we've reached out to attorneys for Combs, we're waiting to hear back from them. And attorney for Ventura said that the gut wrenching video is only further confirmed the disturbing and predatory behavior of Mr. Combs.

It's worth pointing out, Jake, there are also questions for the InterContinental Hotels and Resorts group about what if anything they did with this video, whether they called a police to file a report after seeing this abuse. So, a lot of unanswered questions there. And then finally, it's important to note for any of our viewers who may be experiencing domestic violence, there is help available, you can confidentially reach out to the National Domestic Abuse hotline by texting the word start, Jake, to 88-788.

TAPPER: So, Lisa, the questions Josh just raised, one, is the InterContinental Hotel responsible? Should they have reported a crime? Are they liable for not reporting the crime? It's obviously a crime. And also, what about selling the footage? Is that legal?

LISA BONNER, ENTERTAINMENT LAWYER: You know, this whole thing is so unusual. I mean, surely they should have reported it because domestic abuse appeared -- took place on their property. So, the fact that they did not report this is very concerning. They should have reported it anytime somebody is abused on your property. You absolutely have a duty to report that to the police.

And I think everybody is kind of scratching their heads trying to figure out what is going on here. Why wasn't this turned over? What happened? Was this, you know, paid for? Did somebody pay them off and then now what next? This is very unfortunate and very disturbing.

TAPPER: Josh, Diddy had denied Cassie Ventura's claims of assault in the lawsuit that she filed. But now we see the video backs up her story. She wasn't lying. She was telling the truth. He and his lawyers are lying.

Other lawsuits have accused him of additional heinous behavior. Will this video renew the spotlight on their claims? And what's the status the DHS, Homeland Security raided his Miami and Los Angeles homes and then I never heard anything else after that.


CAMPBELL: Yes, you know, for all the denials that we've heard, there's nothing like seeing this disturbing video actually for yourself. It's hard to refute that when you can see the actual assault taking place. As you mentioned, Jake, he's now facing at least five other separate civil lawsuits, accusing him of sexual misconduct, other illegal activity, he has denied all of those allegations. But of course, the big question here pertains to that dramatic raid that we saw at properties in late March, both here in Los Angeles and also in the Miami area where federal agents from Homeland Security investigation went and conducted a search warrant at these properties. A law enforcement source told me that that was pertaining to a sex trafficking investigation.

And of course, what we're all still waiting to hear is, to what end? Did investigators find anything during the course of those searches that will potentially lead to federal charges? And of course, how the victim statements and other allegations actually play into what the Feds ultimately do. Sometimes these investigations take time. I mean, this is quite rapid to see the end of last year, some of these allegations and the now the Feds actually going into these properties.

But again, we're waiting to see whether this actually results in any type of criminal charge at the federal level, Jake.

TAPPER: Lisa, are you surprised that Sean Combs hasn't faced any charges yet?

BONNER: No, I'm not because it does take time to build a case like this. You have so many different accusers that have come forward. You have several different houses across the country. Apparently, when they raided it, they took, you know, they took tons of video footage, surveillance footage, computers, other kinds of electronics, so they really have to comb through all of this evidence and really try and build a case. So that does take some time.

So I do expect especially with the corroboration and the release of this. But other -- I'm sure this this matched the allegations pretty much word for word in the complaint. So I'm sure there are many more allegations similar that that she has made and other people have made that could be backed up by the bladder footage and the other electronic surveillance they've taken from his house -- his homes, actually.

TAPPER: Yes, Lisa Bonner, Josh Campbell, thanks to both of you. And again, if you or anyone you know is a victim of domestic violence and you need help, you can call the domestic violence hotline and the number is 800-799-SAFE. 800-799-SAFE.

In our sports lead, the world's top golfer had to play with something of a handicap today. Scottie Scheffler was handcuffed, arrested and charged with assaulting a police officer while he was on his way to the golf course for the second round of the PGA Championship this morning in Louisville, Kentucky. A big mess based on what Scheffler is calling a, quote, "misunderstanding" which ended in a hospital visit for the detective involved, the law enforcement officer and a mug shot for the world's number one golfer. Still Scheffler ended his second round this afternoon with a solid five strokes under par tying for third place. Here he is right after his round.


SCOTTIE SCHEFFLER, WORLD NO. 1 GOLFER AND MASTERS CHAMPION: I feel like my head's still spinning. I can't really explain what happened this morning. I did spend some time stretching in a jail cell that was a first for me.


TAPPER: Patrick Snell of CNN World Sport and Luke Kerr-Dineen of Golf Digest join us now.

Patrick, exactly what happened that got Scheffler in so much trouble? What exactly went down?

PATRICK SNELL, CNN SPORT ANCHOR: Jake, absolutely surreal scenes. I've been covering golf majors for three decades, never before have I witnessed anything like this. It all started in the 6:00 a.m. hour. And Scheffler, the world's top ranked men's player in the world, trying to get to the course ahead of his second round. But the previous hours had been very sadly, Jake, a fatal, fatal traffic accident and loss of life of one individual.

So there was increased police presence already on scene. And Scheffler tried to circumnavigate the crash scene to get to the coarse to begin his warm up players typically need about an hour to fine tune their game and get into the swing of things before they actually start play. But it really was a surreal chain of events as to what happened with the police. This is per ESPN, the police officer in question, yelling at Scheffler to stop the vehicle, Scheffler per scene and continuing for about another 10 per ESPN for -- continuing for another 10 to 20 yards towards the entrance. And then this really, really hard to imagine scene where the officer in question purportedly attaching himself to the vehicle and this is where the injuries came into play here.

Scheffler detained, the rest of the video of him in handcuffs, images that went global or went viral that shocked the world, Jake. He then was released though in time to play and make his tea time the second round of play here having me delayed by some one hour and 20 minutes it gets to the tee box in time to play and he had a really impressive round, I will say, of 66. But his play today is not a story. It is what has been happening off the course.


TAPPER: Luke, Scottie Scheffler is a brand new dad. He has a very squeaky clean image. He's a devout Christian. Does this risk tarnishing his image at all?

LUKE KERR-DINEEN, EDITOR, GOLF DIGEST: I don't think so. You know, Scottie Scheffler has built up a lot of goodwill among his fellow players. The fans were out there in full force with him, more fans may have been following him today than Tiger Woods and they were screaming his name, they're supporting him. The minute he walked on property, Rickie Fowler was the first person to come up to him and wish him luck and shook his hand. There's been a lot of goodwill.

I think the entire golf industry really sees this as something that started as a horrible accident. And Scottie Scheffler says it ended in this big misunderstanding that resulted in him being detained today.

TAPPER: Patrick, what is next for Scheffler legally?

SNELL: Now, that is the big question. It remains to be seen, Jake. But I will say, to echo Luke's point, massive support out on the course for him.

Legal steps, Scheffler's attorney telling CNN that he does plan to plead not guilty to all charges. And we can also reveal, Jake, that there is an arraignment hearing scheduled for Tuesday of next week. It is not clear though, at this point, Jake, whether Scheffler himself will be required to attend.

TAPPER: Luke, golf is -- I mean, it's such a mental sport as I don't need to tell you. Are you surprised that Scheffler had such a strong performance today after this ordeal?

KERR-DINEEN: Absolutely. You know, Scheffler said this was maybe the best round of his career, certainly one of the best rounds of his career. And it's amazing. You know, Scheffler has this reputation of being really unflappable, very calm, even keeled demeanor. It's something that it's still a player's respect so much about him. And he said that he was so rattled and confused, processing this incident that he was shaking.

He was shaking all the way to jail. He was shaking on his way back. He was taking -- I was watching him on the driving range. He was taking these big deep breaths because he said his heart rate was just through the roof. He was trying to calm himself down.

And he said he didn't start to feel comfortable and calm until two, three, four holes into his round today. It was just a constant battle. And for him to put up the number that he did today, it's incredible in a few different levels.

TAPPER: Patrick and Luke, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Former Trump White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci is going to join us next. What does he say went wrong in the relationship between Donald Trump and Michael Cohen? What does he say that could have been avoided to prevent this New York hush money case against the former president? Stay with us.



TAPPER: In the Trump trial we are arriving at the moment of truth, if truth was an easy to get commodity in this trial. Michael Cohen is set to return to the witness stand Monday when defense attorneys will finish their cross examination of them. This comes as we've seen a slew of Trump supporters traveling to New York to attend the former president's trial. To name just a few, we've seen House Speaker Mike Johnson and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum, former presidential campaign rival Vivek Ramaswamy, Congresswoman Lauren Boebert, Congressman Matt Gaetz.

Now we're learning that Jeffrey Clark was in the courtroom yesterday. Clark, you might remember, had been indicted in Georgia for aiding Trump and his efforts to overturn the 2020 elections in that state, and possibly would be part of a second Trump administration if Donald Trump is reelected this November. Former Trump communications director Anthony Scaramucci joins us now.

Anthony, good to see you. What do you make of all the support we're seeing Donald Trump get in the courtroom from these high ranking Republican officials?

ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, it's a section of high ranking Republican officials, but it's an obligatory loyalty test by all of them. They're using the same head and singles as Donald Trump. They're wearing the same outfits as Donald Trump. But it'll never be enough for Donald Trump. And so, unfortunately for all of those guys, Michael Cohen has learned this other people, myself included, that have worked for Mr. Trump, there's no pleasing him, and he's incredibly transactional.

And so, if he has to run you over the bus or hit you with a car, five minutes after he shook your hand and smiled at you charmingly, he'll do that.

TAPPER: So Michael Cohen has testified about his years of loyalty and looking up to Donald Trump. That all changed around the time. Trump went to the White House and didn't bring Michael Cohen into the administration. What do you think ultimately went wrong in that relationship that leads us to this moment?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, I've said this, Jake, you know, it's a groupie thing. You know, Michael, by his own self admission, he was in love with the atmospherics around Donald Trump. He was loved -- he was in love with the access to the television stars and the apprentice, and a result of which he went overboard. And I think this is a learning lesson for everybody, particularly those politicians standing outside the courthouse. Don't be anybody's groupie, because once you become somebody's groupie, you start to lose your judgment and you start projecting.

So when Michael said, I'll take a bullet for the guy, he was really hoping from a projection point of view that that Donald Trump was thinking that about him, but of course, Trump thinks that about nobody. So, what went wrong is when Michael got in trouble for something he did for Donald Trump, and Trump walked away from them. That started the loyalty break.

And remember, for viewers and listeners out there, loyalty is symmetrical. Love may be unconditional, that you as a parent with your children, hopefully you with your spouse, but loyalty is symmetrical. And Mr. Trump believes in asymmetrical loyalty. This is why all of his relationships end in this type of darkness.

TAPPER: During Michael Cohen's cross examination, Mr. Trump's defense attorney Todd Blanche rattled off a list of people whom Cohen has blamed for his wrongdoing, for his guilty plea. Blanche said, quote, "You blame a lot of people over the years for the conduct that you were convicted of. Cohen, "I blame people, yes." Blanche, "You blame your accountant?" Cohen, "Correct."


Blanche, "At times you blamed the bank? Cohen, "Correct." Blanche, "You blame federal prosecutors?" Cohen, "Yes, sir." Blanche then added judges and Donald Trump to which Cohen also responded yes, yes.

There are a lot of people who think yesterday was a good day for Donald Trump in court that Michael Cohen, his credibility was really undermined. What do you think?

SCARAMUCCI: Well, as I read through the transcript, and I think what Trump's defense attorney was trying to do is show the grievance. And he was trying to position Michael as having a pity party for himself. And the problem with all of this is Michael is under oath. He's already had a problem with perjury before. And so it would have been impossible for him to answer those questions any other way than the way he answered them.

I'm sure on redirect, the prosecutor is going to bring out that Mr. Cohen, through this testimony, even the rough parts of the testimony has been extremely honest. And of course, it'll be up to the judge to explain to the jury. That it's their job to look at the facts of the case. And if you believe the veracity of the case that Michael Cohen has brought the receipts, then it's your job to opine on the law, as it is written, not your opinion. And so, I think it was a rough day optically, but not a rough day substantially.

TAPPER: So you're not a lawyer, but you did go to Harvard Law. Do you have a prediction? How do you think it's -- the jury is going to find?

SCARAMUCCI: You know, Jake, yes, to remind my mother that I'm not a lawyer. I mean, you know, I mean, I got to call my agent after this. No, I'm kidding. You know, what I would say here is that Mr. Trump is guilty. And I know he's innocent until proven guilty.

So we'll give him the benefit of the doubt, let the jury decide that. But he's guilty. He's guilty on the facts of the case. What I worry about as it relates to justice is there, one, possibly two MAGA types on that jury that can't be persuaded by those facts. I mean, that's the case, it's a hung jury, and life goes on.

Mr. Trump is the presumptive nominee, whether he's guilty or not. And the battle will begin when the case is over. It's -- the battles there now, but I'm talking the heightened level of combativeness will happen when this case is over.

TAPPER: But what do you think is going to -- what is your gut telling you is going to happen? I've spoken to people who support Donald Trump. And, you know, who are rather clear eyed about this trial who think that there probably will be at least one or two jurors who will say that they have reasonable doubt. What do you think?

SCARAMUCCI: Yes, so then you got a hung jury. He gets effectively acquitted. He'll try to use that in his fundraising. He'll try to suggest that this was a political theatrics and a stunt. But then, you know, the country has a short attention span, we'll be moving on to the issues related to the campaign.

If he is guilty, though, and there are people that are better experts at this than me, I can honestly see how he goes to jail, Jake. I don't think the U.S. Marshals or the Secret Service are going to want to see that from a logistical point of view. And so, he probably ends up with some level of confinement and a fine, that may slow down the campaign a little. But I don't see any permutation or outcome here where this is a real marker in the campaign. Meaning he's found guilty.

Judge says, OK, you got to go to jail for three years, something like that. I don't see any possibility of that happening. So, we'll see what happens. But here's one thing I will say, if he's found guilty, and it's a felony, and that's harped on in November, there are independents have said that they would drop any potential support for him. And I know his campaign. I know the people there very well, I know they would be bummed out about that.

TAPPER: Yes. Anthony Scaramucci, thank you so much. Have a great weekend.

Just in the last hour Donald Trump says his campaign has accepted the invitation to yet another debate, this one for a vice presidential faceoff. But we're not hearing the same from the Biden Harris campaign. We'll dive into that next.



TAPPER: Time for our 2024 lead. Let's get some election music going on in here. Yes. So (inaudible).

President Biden is trying to rekindle support among black voters, voters he absolutely needs if he's going to be reelected here. He is speaking today at the National Museum of Museum of African American History and Culture.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: All the progress we've made is still have more to do. And there's still groups who are trying to erase it. My predecessor and extreme MAGA friends are now going after diversity, Equity and inclusion all across America. They want a country for some not for all.


TAPPER: After meeting with prominent leaders of historic black fraternities and sororities at the White House today, Biden heads to Atlanta on Sunday where he will give a commencement address at Morehouse College, a historically black college followed by a speech and an NAACP Fight for Freedom dinner in Detroit.

Let's bring in my panel. Ashley, according to a "New York Times," Siena survey of battleground states released this week, 63 percent of registered black voters would vote for Biden right now, 23 percent would vote for Donald Trump. Now Trump won 12 percent of black voters nationally in 2020, do you really think that -- I mean, these are really bad numbers for Biden among the black community? Is he going to be able to improve them?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think you have to put that poll into context. First, we can't take any vote for granted particularly the black vote and the black vote is not a monolith. People say it all the time but issues that are important to young black voters and black women may be different than the issues that are important to black men or older black voters. But those polls, this "New York Times" poll, and most polls in general, usually the sample size of black folks that they talk to is so small, it doesn't really paint that diversity of the black community.


There are other polls out there that only are talking to black voters like BlackPAC or the work that pollster and my friend Terrance Woodbury does his strategies. And those numbers are not aligning with what some of the polls and the "New York Times" are saying.

So can't -- does he have work to do in the black community? Absolutely. Does he need the Biden-Harris administration and campaigning to tell black voters what he has done and not just what he has done what he will do in the future? Yes. But I am not setting my hair on fire because of this New York Times/Siena poll right now.

TAPPER: Ramesh, earlier this week, President Biden and Donald Trump agreed to a debate here on CNN in June and another on "ABC" in September. The Biden campaign also agreed to a vice presidential debate on "CBS." Just a short time ago, Trump said he accepted a vice presidential debate invitation from "Fox." He's also said he'll do a third presidential debate on "Fox" and a fourth on "NBC." The Biden- Harris campaign has not accepted the third or fourth presidential debate that Mr. Trump has or the "Fox" VP debate. What -- the strategy here I assume, Ramesh, is that Mr. Trump just thinks debates help him and hurt Biden? RAMESH PONNURU, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW: Well, at the very least, Trump thinks that it helps him to appear to be more eager to have the debate than Biden is. And it helps portray him continue his theme of Biden as, you know, decrepit and unable to handle the job. So I think it's really kind of -- it's more pre debate positioning than it is a matter of necessarily wanting to have all of these debates.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Can I just remind everyone that this was the same fellow who wouldn't debate during the primaries?


BORGER: And he was offered to --


BORGER: -- a seat or a podium and every single one of those primary debates, and he declined. And now suddenly, he's decided he's going to be the great debater.

TAPPER: Yes. I mean, if I were Dean Phillips, I would note that Biden did the same thing. But let's move on.


TAPPER: Because House Committee -- House Oversight Committee markup last night, held to hold U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland in contempt for not turning over the audio of that special counsel interview with President Biden. This evolved into complete chaos. Personal jabs started flying. It started, I think, with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene insulting Congresswoman Crockett. Let's roll the tape.


REP. JASMINE CROCKETT (D-TX): Do you know what we're here for?

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I don't think you know what we're here for.

CROCKETT: Well, you don't want to talk about.

GREENE: I think your fake eyelashes are messing with you reading.

CROCKETT: No. Nothing --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold on, hold on.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Order, Mr. Chairman.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's beneath even you Ms. Greene.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I would like to move to take down Ms. Greene's words. That is absolutely unacceptable. How dare you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lady will suspend. Lady will suspend.

OCASIO-CORTEZ: -- attack the physical appearance of another person.

GREENE: Are your feelings hurt?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Move her words down.


OCASIO-CORTEZ: Oh girl, baby girl.

GREENE: Oh really?

OCASIO-CORTEZ: Don't even play.

CROCKETT: If someone on this committee then starts talking about somebody's bleached blonde bad built butch body that would not be engaging in personalities, correct?



TAPPER: Just to answer the chairman's answer. It was a bleached blonde bad built butch body. By the way, is that like a term? Is that like a thing? Is that or was it coined? I'm asking Ashley because she's the young person on the panel here. Is that like a thing?

ALLISON: No, that was Jasmine Crockett --

TAPPER: She just came up with it.

ALLISON: -- Marjorie Taylor Greene.

PONNURU: Yes, it's the most prominent literation in American politics since Warren Harding.


PONNURU: -- of negativism.


TAPPER: Was that -- I thought that was Harding. I thought that was Agnew. All right, let's just get your reaction to all of this. First of all, Ashley, Congresswoman Crockett called Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene a racist but let's just go down the line Ashley then Ramesh then Gloria. What do you make of it all?

ALLISON: OK. So the reason why they were even in that hearing is for an impeachment of Merrick Garland. That's ridiculous. It was at night because the people from the House were parading doing political work with Donald Trump in court the next day. And then Marjorie Taylor Greene did what she normally does, and she paid Played Petey. And Jasmine Crockett said, I have time for you today, and I'm going to match your energy and so if you're going to insult me I'm going to get it on the record of how the Republican chairman is being hypocritical and letting you say insulting things so not just Representative Crockett but to Representative Ocasio-Cortez also and either strike it from the record or we both have to be able to play this game.


Now, is it the most professional way to approach a House hearing? No. But Marjorie Taylor Greene's behavior, this is not the first time she has performed like a child. And Representative Crockett said not today.

BLITZER: Ramesh?

PONNURU: Yes. First, you were right. Agnew not Harding, my mistake. Look, I think in the modern division of power in the government, the President makes laws, the Supreme Court vetoes laws, and Congress is there for entertainment. And that is what we are seeing. The logical consequence of that kind of decay of what's supposed to be the first branch of the federal government into something that's just a matter of empty theater.

TAPPER: So Gloria?

BORGER: It was high school. I mean, this -- it was high school people fighting and what was remarkable to me was the chairman. Both the ranking and the chairman seemed to not know what was going on or how to handle it. And they just kind of sat there and scratch their heads and didn't know how to put a stop to it. And it's absurd, and it's ridiculous, and it reflects badly on the entire Congress. And Marjorie Taylor Greene's words should have been taken down and there should be some sort of punishment for what she did.

TAPPER: Steven Hayes tweeted something along the lines. Ashley, this is what happens when the incentive structure in the House is for clicks and viral videos and not for legislating. Any -- do you agree with that at all, Ashley?

ALLISON: Well, I think there definitely are members and I'm putting Marjorie Taylor Greene in this category. There are members that are clickbait Congress people. But they're getting their lead from their leader, Donald Trump, who everyday goes out and makes a clickbait speech after he's in court. So, yes, I think that the House should get a little more serious and focus on governing right now. The Republicans have the House and this is what their leadership delivers for the American people.

TAPPER: All right, thanks one and all, really appreciate it. Have a great weekend.

On top of the New York hush money cover up trial, Donald Trump faces another state level case in Georgia. Ahead, the extra scrutiny on the prosecutor and the judge in Fulton County, Georgia, that's the Atlanta area right now. And folks keeping tabs on there every single word.



TAPPER: In our Law and Justice Lead, the future a foreign President Trump's election interference case in the state of Georgia is effectively at a standstill, as the Georgia Court of Appeals considers Trump's request to disqualifying District Attorney Fani Willis for alleged misconduct and the U.S. Supreme Court is weighing its decision on presidential immunity.

Meanwhile, Trump is not the only one juggling the trial with the trail. The campaign trail both the judge and Fani Willis are also facing voters this year. CNN's Sara Murray takes a look now at how these elections could impact the case.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the criminal case against Donald Trump in Georgia, it's not just the defendant who's campaigning.


MURRAY (voice-over): In an election year oddity. Both the judge --

SCOTT MCAFEE, FULTON COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE: When I got into this job, it wasn't for the spotlight.

MURRAY (voice-over): -- and the prosecutor --

FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I think campaigning is going great.

MURRAY (voice-over): -- are also on the ballot. Their campaigns adding another layer of uncertainty to the politically charged racketeering case against Trump and his co-defendants.

DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What has taken place here is a travesty of justice.

MURRAY (voice-over): The incumbents in Georgia are favored to win but juggling reelection bids and the Trump case is proving a high wire act for Fulton County Superior Court Judge Scott McAfee and District Attorney Fani Willis. Willis balancing community appearances --

WILLIS: If I'm a little nervous because they know. They write all the speeches in and I say what I want to say.

MURRAY (voice-over): -- and intense public scrutiny.

WILLIS: I'm sorry that folks get mad when everybody in society can be prosecuted.

MURRAY (voice-over): The threat of being disqualified from the Trump case still hanging over Willis, with an appeals court set to take up the issue. Part of the continuing fallout from previous comments she made about the case and our past romance with this former fellow prosecutor who was forced to resign.

NATHAN WADE, FORMER PROSECUTOR: Workplace romances are as American as apple pie.

SMITH: I'm talking about that.

MURRAY (voice-over): Willis faces Democratic primary challenger Christian Wise Smith, an attorney who struggled to gain traction and prior bids for office. Now some Democrats worry his bid to oust Willis could endanger the Trump case.

SMITH: Will I dropped the case? Let me say this. I think the case is in grave jeopardy right now. You know, we're going to take a deep dive in it and look at the best way to go forward.

MURRAY (voice-over): Judge McAfee also hitting the campaign trail.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are honored by the presence of Judge Scott McAfee and his family today.

MURRAY (voice-over): And far out raising his opponent with help from several players in the Trump case. Former Democratic Governor Roy Barnes, a witness in the disqualification matter appeared at a fundraiser for McAfee with Governor Brian Kemp, a Republican and possible witness in the case. Defendant Ray Smith, a former Trump attorney donated to the Judge before Smith was indicted. The donations aren't banned under ethics rules, but McAfee's opponent, defense attorney and talk radio host Robert Pattillo said it makes it seem like we're running a kangaroo court.

MURRAY: Do you think there's been a fairness issue in this case so far?

ROBERT PATILLO, FULTON COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE CANDIDATE: I think there's a public perception of that. And I think that when the public had the perception that there's not fairness to trial, that's how you end up with system being broken.

MURRAY (voice-over): McAfee told CNN Patillo missed the point of the fundraiser. I believe it reflects a bipartisan appreciation for fairness. He donated Smith's campaign contribution to the Boy Scouts. Patillo, who's primarily running on criminal justice reform also criticize McAfee for the pace of cases including the Trump matter. The judge defended his docket at a recent campaign appearance.

MCAFEE: It's not as simple as just setting a trial day. There's so many things that go into a pretrial.


MURRAY (voice-over): Whoever prevails in the non-partisan race is likely to inherit the Trump case.

(END VIDEOTAPE) MURRAY: Now we will see it who wins in this judicial race on Tuesday, May 21st. Whoever prevails in the Democratic primary for district attorney is set to take on Republican Attorney Courtney Kramer who served in the Trump White House in November, Jake, but in deep blue, Fulton County, Georgia, it's really the Democratic primary. That's the one to watch there.

TAPPER: And what is the status of the case in Fulton County? It's just on hold?

MURRAY: I mean, it's kind of stuck. The judge is going through pretrial motions for the other defendants in the case. But when it comes to the main defendant, Donald Trump, there's this question of presidential immunity. We're waiting for the Supreme Court to weigh in on that which could come later on this summer.

And there's this disqualification matter when it comes to Fani Willis that the Georgia Court of Appeals says they're going to take up, there's no stay on the case with the lower court. So Judge McAfee could move ahead, but based on previous comments he's made about the case and how he's conducted himself so far on the bench, I don't see him going to trial while this question hangs out there.

TAPPER: All right, the wheels of justice spinning very, very slowly. Sara Murray, thanks so much.

The upcoming documentary that peels the pages back on the largest bribery scandal in the history of the U.S Navy. The military contractor who offered big ticket items in exchange for Navy ships docked at his ports he's known as Fat Leonard. Don't get mad at me. That's what he was called, his story is next.



TAPPER: He was referred to disparagingly by many as Fat Leonard and he was the mastermind behind one of the most disastrous scandals in the history of the United States Navy. This week, a brand new book was published detailing this unbelievable scandal Craig Whitlock's "Fat Leonard: How One Man Bribed, Bilked, and Seduced the U.S. Navy." And for the very first time CNN has obtained footage of the only on camera interview with Leonard Francis A.K.A Fat Leonard taken days before he chopped off his ankle monitor and fled to Venezuela before being returned to the U.S. in a prisoner swap.


TAPPER (voice-over): It was the largest bribery scandal in U.S. naval history.

LEONARD GLENN FRANCIS, CONVICTED DEFENSE CONTRACTOR: Cigars, wine and women. That's all it takes.

TAPPER (voice-over): Concert tickets, lavish parties, prostitutes, luxury hotels and thousands of dollars in travel, all bribes taken from foreign defense contractor Leonard Glenn Francis, a towering 350 pound businessman known as Fat Leonard.

For the first time in exclusive interview with Francis, the only on camera interview he's ever done is being provided by a documentary filmmaker taken while Francis was on house arrest before fleeing to Venezuela in 2022.

FRANCIS: Leonard The Legend, that was what I was called. The derogatory name that they call me as Fat Leonard now, you know, that was just after I got locked up.

TAPPER (voice-over): In 2013 Leonard Francis owned Glenn Defense Marine Asia, a company with $200 million in U.S. contracts servicing Navy ships and Asian ports. For more than a decade, Leonard Francis was wining and dining naval officers convincing them to steer ships into ports his company controlled and gaining access to classified information about their ships whereabouts.

FRANCIS: The information I had was priceless and it just sold out for cheap. It wasn't difficult. You don't need a nuclear bomb.

TAPPER (voice-over): The corruption scandal reached the highest ranks of the Navy.

FRANCIS: It wasn't just the junior officers, it was all the way to the top.

TAPPER (voice-over): Craig Whitlock of "The Washington Post" has spent the last decade investigating the scandal. Now in a new book, "Fat Leonard: How One Man Bribed, Bilked, and Seduced the U.S. Navy."

CRAIG WHITLOCK, AUTHOR, "FAT LEONARD": He always had an eye for what people might their vulnerabilities. He would brag that every sailor has a weak spot. You just have to find it.

TAPPER (voice-over): Some of the details are mind blowing.

WHITLOCK: It was one Navy admiral who was an intelligence officer. He had given his business card which identifies himself as an intelligence officer to one of Leonard's prostitute. The prostitute kept the business card gave it to Leonard Francis even Leonard couldn't believe that intelligence officer would be so dumb and so set them up for a potential blackmail like that.

TAPPER (voice-over): Francis was busted in a federal sting in 2013. He gave this interview while on house arrest.

FRANCIS: I have a GPS bracelet, kind of like diamond Rolex.

TAPPER (voice-over): But he then cut off that ankle bracelet briefly hiding in Venezuela until his capture and return to the U.S. in a prisoner swap last year. He's scheduled to be sentenced this summer.

FRANCIS: I'm being made a scapegoat. I'm going to be doing a life sentence.

TAPPER (voice-over): In the end, 34 people were charged in the scandal.

WHITLOCK: That's only the tip of the iceberg that almost 1,000 people were investigating this case. And most of them the Navy and the Justice Department closed the cases without taking action. So there was a real effort by the Navy to hide the scope of this scandal.

TAPPER (voice-over): And Leonard Francis agrees tip of the iceberg.

FRANCIS: There's a lot more to put out there that I've kept because so that I'm double crossed, this is what's going to come out.


TAPPER: Fat Leonard is scheduled to be sentenced this summer. Craig Whitlock's new book "Fat Leonard: How One Man Bribed, Bilked, and Seduced the U.S. Navy" is out now.


The prison sentence just in today for the man who attacked the husband of Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Our last leads now, a 30-year prison sentence for the man who broke into the San Francisco home of then Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi in October 2022 and attacked her husband, Paul, with a hammer. Speaker Pelosi was not home at the time. Paul Pelosi suffered a fractured skull when the attacker hit him with that hammer. He is still recovering from that. In a statement Speaker Emerita says, the Pelosi family couldn't be prouder of their pop and his tremendous courage. Pelosi herself did not comment on the case due to continuing legal proceedings.

Powerful storms last night left a big mess in Houston, Texas. The National Weather Service says winds downtown likely hit 100 miles an hour. In this video, look across the room, you can see debris swirling around in the wind outside the broken window. Hundreds of thousands of residents are without electricity. It might be weeks before all power is restored.

In our Pop Culture Lead today, one time Beatle Sir Paul McCartney is now the United Kingdom's first billionaire musician. A new list in the Sunday Times says the 81-year-old McCartney is worth a billion pounds or $1.3 billion due to his long career and continuing to appeal including musicians like Beyonce, who did a version of McCartney's "Blackbird" on her latest album. Just remember of course money can't buy you love.

Coming up Sunday on State of the Union, democratic Senator John Fetterman of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Donald Trump's former HUD Secretary Dr. Ben Carson who is being considered as a possible GOP vice presidential pick. And Democratic Congresswoman Jasmine Crockett of Texas, star of the House Oversight Committee melee last night. That's Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern and again at noon here on CNN.


You can follow the show on X or Twitter at TheLeadCNN. 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 with Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. I'll see you Sunday morning.