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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Netanyahu: Resettling Gaza Was Never In The Cards; Sen. Dan Sullivan, (R-AK), Is Interviewed About Israel, Gaza, Hamas; Trump Trial Moves To Final Phase; Biden Says What's Happening In Gaza Is "Not Genocide"; Man Killed By Heavy Turbulence During Flight; Debate Over Whether Trump Or Biden Is Better On Economy. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired May 21, 2024 - 17:00   ET



DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Washington, D.C., the White House and the DOJ and he argued the case. That means it's Biden. That means it's election interference by Sleepy Joe, our dumb as Iraq president who's destroying our country with the borders and destroying our country with the worst economy, worst inflation, who allowed Russia to go in to attack Ukraine, who allowed Israel to be attacked and now he's not even helping Israel. And Jewish people that go for Biden and the Democrats, they should have their head examine. Thank you very much.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: OK. So let's bring in CNN's Tom Foreman fact checking what we just heard from Donald Trump. Mr. Foreman.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a lot of what we've heard before, Jake. It's actually remarkable how little invention there is in this same old thing saying it's on the White House case. The White House is prosecuting this. No, it is not. Alvin Bragg is a locally elected official.

He's been chosen up there. He has not been chosen by the White House. He's not pushing the White House's case. He says it's all about stopping him because he's leading candidate. Same answer, this is a local prosecution of this.

Again, with the legal experts all of them all say it's fake, it's false, not true. He said the American people see this trial as a fraud and a waste of time. That's not true either. Back when he was indicted, in fact, 60 percent of Americans in a CNN poll approved of him being indicted. And he referred to this as again and again and again, it's all a fraud, it's all fake, there's nothing to it.

There is evidence here. Whether or not you agree with the evidence, whether or not you think it's a good case, there is evidence here they're proceeding with. And he referred to it all being the work of Joe Biden, who he said is commonly known as Crooked Joe. He may be known as that at Mar-a-Lago, but most of the country knows Joe Biden as Mr. President. So a lot there, Jake, not much new.

TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

If you're just joining us, welcome to The Lead. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, new sparring in the New York hush money cover up trial as the prosecution and defense are trying to hash out the specifics on what the jury should be told. Hold in jury instructions next Wednesday. This is one of the most critical junctures before jurors begin to deliberate this case next week.

Plus, extreme turbulence on what sounds like a nightmare flight, a Boeing plane dropping suddenly. One person actually died. What investigators are now saying about what could have possibly gone wrong here.

Leading this hour, my interview earlier with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu just minutes ago on CNN, pushing back on the International Criminal Court calling for a warrant for his arrest over what the ICC is calling war crimes in Gaza. Here's a bit of that.


TAPPER: Is there anything you and the IDF could have done any differently to avoid all the loss of innocent lives in Gaza?

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: First of all, every civilian casualty is a tragedy. Every child lost or every woman lost or every innocent person lost is a tragedy. But for Hamas, it's a strategy. So while we go out of our way to get them out of harm's way, Hamas goes out of its way to keep them in harm's way, shooting at them if they try to leave the battle zones.


TAPPER: Let's go right to CNN's Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem and Alex Marquardt here in D.C.

Jeremy, Netanyahu had a lot to say when I pressed him on Israel not allowing aid into Gaza. Fact check some of what he had to say.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, as you pressed him on that, the Israeli prime minister offered no acknowledgement of the reality of the hunger that has spread throughout Gaza Strip. And he also, as he talked about the amount of aid that has gotten in, his numbers were right in terms of 500,000 tons of aid, more than 20,000 trucks getting in. But these numbers were devoid of context, the context of the enormous amounts of pressure that had to be brought to bear for that amount of aid to be allowed in by Israel for the months that it took for a crossing into northern Gaza to be opened by the Israeli government. He didn't talk about the month of February, when fewer than 100 trucks of aid per day got into Gaza, prompting a major global security, global food security organization the month after to warn of imminent famine in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli prime minister also said that his government from day one was committed to allowing aid into Gaza.

That's simply not true. His government declared a total siege of the Gaza Strip. It took two weeks into the war for the first aid trucks to get in. And lastly, Jake, he also falsely claimed that Karim Khan, that ICC top prosecutor, never visited Israel. Karim Khan actually did visit Israel. He even visited kibbutz Be'eri, Kfar Aza to visit the sites of the October 7 massacre, to meet with the families of the victims of that massacre as well as survivors. All of that leading him to, on the other side, seek arrest warrants not only against the Israeli prime minister and the Israeli defense minister, but in this case, against Hamas leaders.


TAPPER: And, Alex, you have new reporting about a senior Egyptian intelligence officer quietly changing the terms of the ceasefire proposal earlier this month before it was presented to Hamas. We asked Netanyahu about your scoop. Take a listen to his answer.


NETANYAHU: Look, I think we have a goal which is not only to defeat Hamas, but also to release the hostages. My government has been able to secure the release of 124 hostages so far, and we're committed to get the rest. Hamas, unfortunately, has been hunkering down on a demand that is simple. They say, well, we can release the rest of the hostages, maybe, but in order to do that, you have to get out of Gaza, end the war, and allow us basically to regroup and reconquer Gaza. So that's something I won't agree to, and I hope Egypt understands that we can't agree to something like that.


TAPPER: Tell us more, Alex, about what your sources are telling you.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake Netanyahu, they're laying out the main sticking point between the two sides that Hamas essentially wants an end to the war and the idea to be pulled out of Gaza. And Netanyahu is saying essentially, we're not going to talk about that until the hostages start coming home and that they want to keep going after Hamas. But what we understand, sources telling Jeremy Diamond and myself, is that there was a deal on the table that Israel had all but agreed to. This was a deal that the U.S. was saying was extraordinarily generous. It was something that Egypt was aware of.

Egypt took that deal back and started talking to Hamas and realized that Hamas was not going to go for a lot of the terms of this deal. And so, Egyptian intelligence and one senior Egyptian intelligence official in particular, whose name is Ahmed Abdel Khalek, started to change the terms in a way that it would be more palatable to Hamas, and that was given to Hamas. And, Jake, you'll remember three weeks ago on May 6, Hamas said that they accepted the deal. And there was this brief moment of celebration until everyone realized that this was not the deal that had been agreed to by Israel, that had been talked about with the other mediators, the U.S. and Qatar. One source telling me, we were all duped to the point where even Hamas might have been duped. That same source saying that Hamas officials were telling other members that they believed that a ceasefire was going to start imminently. Now, the main us official who has been in charge of trying to get this deal across the line is the CIA director, Bill Burns. He's very mild mannered, as you know, Jake. I'm told that he almost blew a gasket. Now, the talks didn't fall apart in that very moment, but just a couple days later, I was told by several sources that they were paused. They have not picked up since, and it does not look like those conversations are going to start anytime soon, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Alex Marquardt and Jeremy Diamond, thanks to both of you.

Joining us now to discuss, Republican Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska. Senator, let's start with what we heard from Prime Minister Netanyahu when I asked him about his long term plans for the day after.


TAPPER: Is Israel going to occupy Gaza, whether militarily or with the civilian government? This is what he had to say.


TAPPER: Taking off the table on Israeli --

NETANYAHU: If you mean resettling -- if you mean resettling Gaza, yes, it was never in the cards and I said so openly, and some of my constituents are not happy about it. But that's my position.

I would do is have a reconstruction of Gaza, if possible, done by the moderate Arab states and the international community.


TAPPER: He says that he wants Gaza to be run by Gazans and he wants Gaza there to be a reconstruction by Arab states and the international community.


TAPPER: I mean, I want to be 25 again. That doesn't mean it's going to happen. You know what I mean? Like, it's very easy to say such a thing, but how does it happen?

SULLIVAN: Well, look, I think his point on the moderate Arab states is a really important one, right? Right now, as you probably know, Jake, they have not stepped up in terms of economic assistance. Traditionally, the United States has been the largest supplier of economic assistance before October 7. But I think we're getting a little ahead of ourselves, right? We need to continue to enable Israel to destroy Hamas.

Nothing matters beyond that initial objective. We also need to work with them to make sure that innocent lives are spared. And we limit the number of casualties in Gaza in the West Bank. TAPPER: Do you think they're doing everything they can to limit the number of casualties? Because it doesn't sound like the Biden administration does.

SULLIVAN: Well, look, you asked an important question, you asked a pointed question. As you know, what we call in the military, mount military operations in urban terrain are the most dangerous. They're the most bloody, they're the most difficult, particularly when your main enemy uses civilians as shields. So it's a difficult situation. But remember, Israel, the IDF does not target civilians the way Hamas does.

And this is why the ICC, you know, action just yesterday was so outrageous. The moral equivalency, what they did in terms of equating Israeli actions with Hamas actions is an outrage, as you're probably seeing here in Washington, D.C., whether it's the president, Blinken, Chuck Schumer or many Republican senators like myself, we're all calling this outrageous and, you know, dangerous and reprehensible.


TAPPER: So let me ask you, because you are a veteran, do you think Israel is doing the same, taking the same care that American service members take when engaged in urban warfare? And the reason I ask is because first of all, the direct terrorist attack by Hamas on 1,200 --


TAPPER: -- innocent Israelis, the continued hostage taking --


TAPPER: -- it's -- you know, these people, Israeli soldiers, they're not robots. I mean, they're human beings.


TAPPER: I could certainly understand anger and rage. It's a little different than the United States fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. There's a little bit more distance from the victims of 9/11, for example. Do you think that there is the same kind of care and precision, the same kind of equation made when it comes to rules of engagement in terms of the risk when you're going after Hamas and the level of the Hamas fighter?

SULLIVAN: Well, look, you're raising a really important question. I think, you know, I went to Israel right after the October 7 attacks with a bipartisan CODEL U.S. senators. Very important, because the sense of the existential threat that that country faces, our most important ally in the Middle East, is so palpable when you're there. And a lot of Americans who are criticizing Israel, I think, don't understand that. We, in a meeting with the prime minister and the defense minister, they said, imagine 9/11 happening but the terrorists weren't in Afghanistan, they were about 20 miles away, still strong and ready to attack again.

TAPPER: Right.


TAPPER: And the government of the country next door and the military of the country next door.

SULLIVAN: Exactly. So, but to your question, you know, we've had a lot of American military experts, David Petraeus, I know, is recently on your program. One of our top experts at the, I think it was the West Point center for counterterrorism. They are saying that the Israelis have done incredible job.

Now it's not without civilian casualties, as the prime minister said, nobody wants civilian casualties. Any innocent civilian is a horrible tragedy. But again, this is an existential threat to Israel. And they are trying to do their best in terms of limiting casualties. But you have an urban terrain setting, you have tunnels, hundreds of miles of tunnels --


SULLIVAN: -- and you have an enemy that's ruthless and has no problem actually using civilians as shields. And in some ways doesn't mind seeing the civilian casualty rate going up because it plays into their strategy.

TAPPER: Senator Sullivan, it's always good to see you.

SULLIVAN: Great to see you, too.

TAPPER: Thank you so much, sir. I appreciate it.

After hours of back and forth with lawyers, jury instructions are now being sent in the very first criminal case against Donald Trump, this in the hush money cover up case. The details that could set the tone on whether Donald Trump is acquitted in this case or convicted. We're back in a moment.



TAPPER: In our law and Justice Lead, Donald Trump's criminal hush money trial is on hold until next Tuesday. And that's when closing arguments are scheduled to take place before the jury gets the case. Lawyers for the prosecution and defense just met with Judge Juan Merchan to try to hash out what the jury instructions will be. CNN's Brynn Gingras is outside the courthouse.

So, Brynn, what was discussed and what was agreed to or settled at least in this meeting?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, it's important to remember that the former president is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records. And the felony here is that he did this, according to prosecutors, to commit or conceal another crime. Well, through these jury instructions, we have a clearer picture of what that other crime is and what will be presented to jurors to sort of navigate their deliberations process. Essentially, they're saying he violated state election laws that forbids a person to seek an election by unlawful means. And some of this negotiating back and forth on the defenses side, they asked for several things to be put in those jury instructions, which the judge simply just did not agree to.

Let me give you a few examples. For example, he wanted it jury instructions to include that the jurors need to be unanimous when it comes to what that unlawful means actually is. That's one example. Another is they wanted jurors to know that hush money isn't illegal. The judge says he's not going to be putting that in his instructions.

Another one, they said they would like the jurors to be instructed about Cohen's plan, yes, that Cohen actually sent his phones to a factory reset to which the prosecution actually laughed at and said, we've never even heard of that instruction ever before. The judge also agreed and said that will not be part of those jury instructions. So there was not many wins for Emil Bove on the defenses side, but there were some, a lot of the thornier issues, I will say, the judge said he's going to reserve his judgment and decide the outcome. And he told both sides they're going to get the final drafts of these jury instructions by Thursday. So the teams have the full weekend to prepare for the closing arguments.

And of course, that's when jurors will be back to get those on Tuesday. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Brynn Gingras, outside the courtroom in Manhattan, thanks so much.

With us now to discuss, criminal defense trial attorney Stacy Schneider and former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi.

Gene, the defense rested its case today and now the jury is on a weak break until closing arguments next Tuesday. What do you make of the judge's decision to not start deliberations right away due to the Memorial Day break?

GENE ROSSI, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA: I think it's a good decision. The only risk I'm worried about here is because of the long break, you may have jurors that go off the beaten path, if you will, and hear any comments about the trial. But listen, if they had done closings Thursday, it would have taken up the whole weekend of the jurors. I think let's start on Monday or Tuesday, I guess.

And I got to say this, I think this benefits the prosecution because after all the hits that Cohen has taken, that prosecution, they really have to cross their T's and dot their I's in their closing argument and rebuttal because they have a tougher road to hoe than they did at the beginning with David Pecker.


TAPPER: Stacy, Robert Costello, Bob Costello was the final witness for the defense. Yesterday, Costello was loudly sighing. He said, you know, ridiculous. At one point he said, geez. After Judge Merchan sustained objections from the prosecution, Judge Merchan had to admonish Costello and said, OK, so, when there's a witness on the stand, if you don't like by ruling, you don't say geez, OK? And then you don't say strike it, because I'm the only one that can strike testimony in the courtroom, do you understand that?

Costello said, I understand. The judge said, OK. And then if you don't like my ruling, you don't get me side eye. You don't roll your eyes. Do you understand that?

Do you understand that? Costello says, I understand that. I understand what you're saying. The judge said, OK, thank you. Let's get the jury back.

Wait, are you staring me down right now? Costello, no, I'm just wondering how -- Merchan, clear the courtroom, please. Clear the courtroom. So, and then whatever happened after that, we don't know. Was Costello a good witness for the defense to end on?

I mean, do moments like that stick with the jury?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Oh, yes, they stick with the jury. Robert Costello was a broken trigger, misfire of a defense witness. I think he was an unmitigated disaster. And all of the gains that the prosecution made on cross examination of Michael Cohen by getting in that phone call to Trumps bodyguard and the 14-year-old who was harassing him and leaving the impression that Michael Cohen never talked about this before, and there was no time to talk about Trump with Stormy Daniels and getting in the fact that Michael Cohen admitted to stealing money from the Trump organization, all that was sort of now diminished significantly by Robert Costello's testimony.

And I want to point out exactly the point where I think they blew a hole in their case, meaning the Trump team. On the prosecution on cross examination went to Robert Costello and showed him this e-mail from May 15 of 2018, which Robert Costello was writing to his law partner, and it said while he was trying to obtain Michael Cohen as his client, so this was sort of the meetings and trying to get him to hire him. He said to his partner, we have an issue. We have to get Michael Cohen on the right page to give the appearance that we're not being instructed by Rudy Giuliani and the president.

And to me to hear that coming out of the mouth of an attorney who is trying to get a new client that he is, the impression I have, is his totally influenced and going after Cohen as a client because of Donald Trump. So, what is Donald Trump worried about in sending Robert Costello in to obtain Michael Cohen and keep pressure on him? Michael Cohen was testifying throughout direct examination that I felt this pressure campaign from Bob Costello. I didn't trust him. I didn't want to say things to him because I thought it would go back to Rudy Giuliani and go to the president.

Well, by Donald Trump's team calling Bob Costello as a witness and opening this door, they now introduced something that wouldn't not have been there had they just been quiet and it was a disaster. TAPPER: And Gene, let me ask you said a high point for the defense was during their cross with Michael Cohen about that October 24, 2016 phone call. Todd Blanche, Trump's attorney, says when you testified about that one minute and 36 minutes phone call, I'm sorry, one minute and 36 2nd phone call on October 24 was not with Keith Schiller that you called Keith Schiller and he passed the phone to President Trump. You finalized the deal with Stormy Daniels. You said, we're going to move forward and he said yes because you kept him informed all the time. That was your testimony, right?

Cohen says that's correct. Blanche says, that was a lie. You were actually talking to Mr. Schiller about the fact that you were getting a harassing phone call from 14-year-old. Correct? Cohen said, part of it was a 14-year-old. But I know that Keith was with Mr. Trump at the time and there was more than potentially just this, that's what I recall.

What do you think about that, Gene? You think that's pretty important?

ROSSI: I think it's important. First off, I got a compliment Stacy, that is a brilliant remark she made about Costello. I fully agree.

Let's talk about the Cohen call. It's not a home run, Jake, but it is sort of a Texas single because in the one minute, you know, 36 seconds, you can talk a lot beyond just a 14-year-old. So they did zing them a little bit, but it wasn't, you know, a left hook that was going to knock them out.

But I got to say this, Michael Cohen took a lot of hits. He really did do well in certain questions. But I got to go back to what Stacy said. They washed it all away by calling Costello, because one thing you learn as a defense attorney and a prosecutor, primacy, recency. You only get one chance at a first impression and they always remember your last act and they ended on a dud that actually rehabilitated, rehabilitated Michael Cohen who said that Costello was sort of a double agent for Donald Trump.


TAPPER: All right.


TAPPER: Gene Rossi and Stacy Schneider, thanks to both of you. Appreciate it.

I want to get more reaction to my interview just moments ago with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Plus, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell asked today about that controversial upside down American flag that flew outside the home of Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito. We'll be right back.


[17:30:16] TAPPER: In our 2024 Lead, my interview with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this show blasting, the International Criminal Court and wants to issue an arrest warrant to him over what they are calling war crimes in Gaza. Netanyahu calling it beyond outrageous as well as the political fallout from Israel's war with Hamas is creating for President Biden's reelection bid. Let's bring in the panel to discuss both. Gloria Borger, what did you think of what Netanyahu had to say?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think he doesn't give an inch. I think there's a certain reality out there that you were talking about in your questions to him. And he doesn't give an inch. And it's not even acknowledging, you know, the destruction in Gaza. It's kind of, he said, well, one life is, you know, one life too many. But then he goes on with his usual spiel. And, you know, he's got a divided government to deal with. But he is, you know, he is just unwavering. And I think as much as you try to sort of say, well, here's the reality on the ground, he would not acknowledge it.

TAPPER: And Nayyera yesterday, President Biden reiterated his support for Israel after this ICC decision. You heard Beth Sanner earlier in the show saying one of the best things that's happened in Netanyahu is this ICC report because it's united people in his country as well as Democrats and Republicans, everybody blasting this ICC report, not everybody, but you know what I mean, the world leaders or the congressional leaders. Netanyahu saying, I'm sorry, Biden saying what's happening is not genocide. Also reiterating that argument, his stance on the war really dividing Democrats, what did you make of it all?

NAYYERA HAQ, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF CABINET AFFAIRS, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: It's interesting to see that when he was speaking at Morehouse, he clapped when the valedictorian called for an immediate ceasefire. And this is going to be Biden's challenge going forward, is how does he take his perspective from being Senate foreign relations chair and dealing with a older generation of Israeli and Palestinian leadership and compute that for a modern electorate and a modern view of Israel as a power in the Middle East and not a country that is under threat and at risk all the time.

All of those things are true for Israel. At the same time, the ICC report, though, is essentially going to fall on deaf ears for Israel and United States, even though the United States developed their own statute, it's not a signatory. Israel's not a signatory. The United States can talk all it wants about liberal world order and international rules of the road, but nothing about the criminal court applies to the United States government. And it's -- the challenge is going to be further isolating this idea of humanitarian law from what is U.S. power on the world stage.

TAPPER: As long as you bring up President Biden's address to Morehouse on Sunday. We mentioned on the show Sunday, but you're -- it's your alma mater, you're an alum. There was a lot of anticipation that there would be real protests and there were a couple people engaged in peaceful protests, putting their back to him, but not really. I mean, in fact, it's been observed by some press critics on the left that we didn't cover it because it was the dog that didn't bark, right? I mean, Morehouse men were pretty well behaved.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, they showed other institutions across the country, Jake, how you should do this, whether you agree with the President or not. And I have a whole lot of disagreement with the President, but you still respect the office. You showcase deference regardless of what your political ideas are. And most of those guys, Jake, went to high school. They didn't have high school graduation. They didn't have a prom.

TAPPER: Oh, because of COVID. Yes.

SINGLETON: So this is really about wanting to give a memory to their parents, particularly the moms. And so they wanted to be on their best behaviors. And Morehouse showcase why it is the criminal of the crop in terms of HBCUs in the country, not brag.

TAPPER: OK. So there's the Morehouse advertising. You don't have to send in a check this year.

SINGLETON: I don't. I don't.

TAPPER: We just gave him a little video contribution. Let's talk about the controversy going on with Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito and that upside down American flag that the "New York Times" broke the story of that was at the flagpole in the days, you know, in the middle of the stop the steal movement. Even Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican and a big supporter of Alito, called that a mistake.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): I don't think he should be recused, but I don't think this, you know, it creates a bad image. It created a situation that we're all talking about. So, yes, I think it was a mistake.


TAPPER: And just to be clear, the upside down American flag is always, you know, it's traditionally a distress symbol. And people have done it, you know, after Obama got elected, conservatives did it after Trump got elected, liberals did it. But at this point in time, it stood for stop the steal.


BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: And it's just kind of empirically odd that a Supreme Court justice, even if it was his wife, who did it --

BORGER: Right. He blamed and threw his wife under the bus, pretty much.

TAPPER: Well, even if, let's just assume that it's true that his wife did it, still, it's his house.

BORGER: Right.

TAPPER: Their house.

BORGER: And he let the flag fly like that for a while. It's not like it flew like that for a day. And then he said, oh, my God, this is a terrible thing to do. Let's take this down.

TAPPER: Did he?

BORGER: No. It stood there. It stayed there for a while and after January 6th. And as even Lindsey Graham said, it was a mistake, it was bad judgment. But again, it's the Supreme Court, so you're not going to hear anything about it.

HAQ: Right. And this idea that different groups in the United States are allowed to protest and show, but the Supreme Court is still considered to be this bastion of independent thought. And time and time again, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia have made clear that they have strong political leanings and there's no accountability for it. So, you know, Alito's going to get away with the, oh, ha-ha-ha. It was just a moment, just a joke. But he has signaled in that time to a segment of the population that he supports their extremist views.

TAPPER: Well, Shermichael, I want to get your reaction to what Senator McConnell said, the Republican leader, when Manu Raju asked him if Alito should recuse himself because there are all these cases having to do with the 2020 election. Take a listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MINORITY LEADER: It seems to me there are just nonstop attacks on the Supreme Court week after week after week. And so I'm not going to dignify that was a response. We need to leave the Supreme Court alone, protect them from people who went into their neighborhoods and tried to do them harm. Look out for the Supreme Court. That's part of the job of the administration.


SINGLETON: I mean, I agree you shouldn't go before people's homes and harass them. But I do think there is some serious concern with a fraction of the country who are not conservative, who wonder, can the court maintain his objectivity? And the reality is, Jake, if candid would allow me to tell a little bit of truth here, if a liberal leaning justice did the opposite, but showcased some signals to liberals that, hey, I am with you. I can guarantee you every conservative in the country would say this is absolutely a disgrace to the court. They should somehow recuse themselves. Or maybe we should even pass legislation to hold them to account.

And so I think Republicans should be objective about this. Let's be honest. It was a terrible idea. He should have taken the darn thing down. The country is divided and fractured enough. The last thing we need is the furtherance of that divide.

TAPPER: And the idea that this is in response to a rude neighbor. And it sounds like that's a rude neighbor.


SINGLETON: Incredible rude neighbor.

TAPPER: It's a very rude neighbor. I don't question, but like -- but there was not a Supreme Court justice, right I mean --


TAPPER: We do have different standards.

BORGER: Right. The neighbors just rude.

TAPPER: For rabble and --

SINGLETON: We definitely doing anyone who is someone of stature, whether you're a male or female, I think, would typically talk to their spouses and say, all right, do not embarrass me because of my title.

HAQ: Listen, you would think if you want to talk about pillow talk, Ginni Thomas --

TAPPER: All right. We don't have time. We don't have time for it. Thanks to all of you. Appreciate it.


Coming up next, brand new images on that nightmare flight turbulence so severe one person actually died inside of the plane trashed. What investigators say went so terribly wrong mid-flight, that's coming up.



TAPPER: And we're back with our World Lead now. Singapore Airlines flight today ended in a death, more than 70 injuries and passengers carried off the plane on stretchers. The Boeing 777 departed from London this morning. It encountered severe turbulence and had to make an emergency landing in Bangkok. CNN's Ivan Watson brings us now the latest from Thailand.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Injuries and death after a moment of terror 30,000feet in the sky. A Singapore Airlines flight hit with severe turbulence, throwing some passengers around the cabin just moments after the seatbelt signed was switched on. Lighting and air ventilation tubing spilling out from the ceiling. Food trays from breakfast littered across the floor.

Emergency workers raced to Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport on Tuesday afternoon after the flight turned deadly. Traffic control on the tarmac quick to redirect ambulances and set up makeshift medical tents for injured passengers. Flight SQ321 departed from London and was en route to Singapore. But severe turbulence forced pilots to make an emergency landing in Thailand. The condition of the skies resulted in the death of one person while aboard the flight, many others now in critical condition with dozens more injured.

KITTIPONG KITTIKACHORN, GENERAL MANAGER SUVARNABHUMI AIRPORT (through translator): The plane landed at the airport and the medical team was sent to the scene. Many injuries occurred, so the airport had to issue an emergency plan. All our teams went to help.

WATSON (voice-over): The airline has launched an investigation into the incident with the British embassy also deploying officials to support those in hospital. The passengers left with the question of how this all went so wrong.


WATSON (on camera): Now, Jake, the passenger who died aboard Singapore Air Flight SQ321 has been identified as a 73-year-old British man named Geoff Kitchen, identified by the Thornberry Musical Theatre group where he worked for some 35 years. Meanwhile, more than 70 of the passengers and crew members have been hospitalized at a hospital here in Bangkok. That is nearly a third of all the passengers and crew members that were aboard this Singapore Airlines flight when it hit this violent patch of turbulence somewhere over airspace over Myanmar before making the emergency landing, Jake?

TAPPER: CNN's Ivan Watson and Thailand for us, thank you so much, Ivan.


Up next, so many American voters consider the single most important issue for them in 2024 to be the economy. My next guest ran the numbers on proposed plans from both Biden and Trump. We'll get her takeaways next.


TAPPER: More now in our 2024 Lead, less than six months before the presidential election. You heard that right. The economy is top of mind for many voters. Last month, the CNN poll found 70 percent of respondents rate current economic conditions poor. In a new "Washington Post" column out today, my next guest says if you think a second Trump term would better for your finances, you should think again, her view. Catherine Rampell is the her in question. She's a Washington Post opinion columnist and CNN economics and political commentator. Thanks so much for being here, Catherine. It's always good to see you. Looking at their economic proposals, who, in your view, would make things more affordable for the average American?

CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN ECONOMICS AND POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So if you look at polling, as you point out, Americans overwhelmingly think Trump would better for their finances and for the overall economy. And I get it, inflation has been really painful. But I would implore voters to look at what a second Trump presidency would actually include in terms of an economic agenda. So I'm talking about things like, how would he change taxes? And there was a new study out yesterday from the Peterson Institute that looked at the distributional implications of Trump's overall tax policy. So what he would do to the income tax code, as well as things like tariffs, and he found that, excuse me, that foundation that for the bottom 80 percent of Americans, their tax burden would go up.


TAPPER: How would it go up? Why would it go up?

RAMPELL: Because tariffs are taxes. They cost people money. And if you look at the prior rounds of Trump taxes, the previous trade wars that he engaged in, washing machines, Chinese goods, solar panels, steel, et cetera, there are a number of studies by top notch economists at top notch universities and top notch academic journals looking at who bore the cost of those tariffs. And it was either entirely or mostly Americans. So you can see that the cost of those tariffs were passed along to consumers in the form of higher prices.

If you stack that alongside Trump's income tax cuts, and he would cut people's rates or at least extend the tax cuts that he put in place in 2017, whatever savings people had from lower income tax rates would be more than wiped out by those tariffs, particularly for low income people, because tariffs tend to be quite regressive.

TAPPER: OK, so if I were with the Trump campaign, I might say, all right, I'll see your tariffs and income tax adjustments, and I'll show you Biden's inflation. And I want to show you a chart from "The Wall Street Journal" that conservatives have been showing on social media to show why, in their view, Bidenomics is not working. The chart shows household net worth under Trump and Biden. That's on the left. And then when you add -- when the wages are adjusted for inflation, the line flattens under Biden. I think that's a blue line.

So if you look on the right, the reason why people don't feel like --

RAMPELL: They're wealthier.

TAPPER: -- that they're wealthier, they're as good as the Biden says the economy actually is because inflation has totally kicked them in the teeth. So, you know, Trump argues this is Bidenomics. What would you be your phrase to that?

RAMPELL: So I would say a few things. Yes, inflation has been really painful. Some of that is about global phenomena, things that are beyond the U.S. President's control. There are things that I think Biden has done badly, frankly, and I've written about those as well. But --

TAPPER: And you've discussed them on the show.

RAMPELL: In fact, I have, yes. But if you look at that chart that was on the left showing the increase in wealth under Trump, I think it's a little bit misleading. Some of that was sort of a COVID induced asset boom or even asset bubble. So --

TAPPER: You said the red line on the left shouldn't is misleading because they were putting so much money into the economy because COVID.

RAMPELL: Well, it was a number of things. So there was a lot of forced saving, right? Because many of us were trapped at home and so we couldn't travel and we couldn't go out to restaurants. Those savings are part of our net worth. Home prices went way up. That was partly due to COVID. That was partly due to very low interest rates. You may recall that there was a lot of other financial frothiness, let's say.

You remember the meme stocks, for example. Much of that was sort of toward the end of Trump's presidency. Some of that was towards the beginning of Biden's GameStop, AMC, et cetera. So assets were really strong. Assets are part of people's net worth, whether we're talking about stock markets or their homes. Some of that was about what was going on in the economy.

And to be fair, some of it was about government policy, right? Trump sat down a bunch of checks. He increased the unemployment insurance reimbursement rates, which also put money in people's bank accounts. Subsequently, Republicans have sort of disavowed that policy, but that also meant that people were wealthier, so some of it was about COVID. Again, I am not dismissing the fact that inflation has been really painful for Americans.

I would also add that you should look at what Trump would do on the economy that might affect inflation. So I mentioned raising costs through tariffs. That's not the only thing. He would also kneecap the Federal Reserve. There has been a lot of reporting about that, including in "The Wall Street Journal" recently talking about how Trump would essentially robbed the Federal Reserve of its political independence, which you can look historically, generally leads to higher inflation rates.

He's talked about devaluing the dollar, again, higher inflation rates. And he's talked about essentially slashing the labor force by cutting immigration. That also contributes to inflation. So if inflation is your number one issue, I get it. It's kind of sucked under Biden, partly because of choices he's made, partly because of global events. But look at what Trump would do if you put him back in office.


TAPPER: Catherine Rampell, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.

Breaking news from Iowa, tornadoes on the ground this afternoon leaving paths of destruction. We'll have the latest from the Midwest, next.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think we're probably 3 or 4, maybe 5 miles --


TAPPER: Our last leads now, dangerous weather in the Midwestern United States. In the last hour, we've seen these remarkable pictures of a tornado on the ground near Corning, Iowa, which is southwest of Des Moines.

Not far in Prescott, Iowa, a fire started after at least three wind turbine towers were knocked over either by a tornado or strong winds. Major damage is reported in Greenfield, Iowa, about 50 miles southwest of Des Moines. Tornado watches are now in effect for more than 10 million people in portions of nine states, from Oklahoma and Arkansas to Minnesota and Wisconsin.

In our money lead, a question how do you swipe nearly $2 million worth of purses and handbags, as this just released surveillance video shows? Well, bring along a couple of big plastic trash cans, break into a Miami Beach. Hermes Birkin store in the middle of the night, and grab as many as you can as fast as you can. The bigger question, how do you catch these guys? Police used other surveillance video to track down a suspected lookout driver and are looking for help catching the thieves before they strike again.


If you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to the show once you get your podcast. The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in the situation room. I'll see you tomorrow.