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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump To Court Black & Hispanic Voters At Bronx Rally; Biden Hosts Kenya's President At The White House; China Starts "Punishment" Military Drills Around Taiwan; DOJ Sues To Break Apart Live Nation And Ticketmaster; NYT: Second Controversial Flag Seen At An Alito Property; Multiple Missiles Hit Key Ukrainian City, Killing At Least Seven; Kenya To Lead Multinational Force To Target Gangs In Haiti. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 23, 2024 - 16:00   ET


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Creativity, technology, the produce and people and things that we have access to, a potential that seems limitless.


And I see the strength of it in this room right now in you.


SANCHEZ: I do appreciate you guys playing the speech, but I have to say, you all played the most somber and serious, there were a lot of jokes. I spent so much time writing jokes.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: It's pretty cool. But you have some of that online, if you can check out.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Check out on Instagram.

KEILAR: What a meaningful message. It gave me chills.

SANCHEZ: Yeah, absolutely. It's important to remind students that they can mess up a lot and still find their way. Go orange.

KEILAR: Go orange.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Trump in the Bronx, looking to challenge the status quo, he says.

THE LEAD starts right now.

In the Empire State, which no Republican presidential candidate has won in 40 years, Donald Trump is setting his sights on New York. He's looking to make inroads with Black and Hispanic voters today in the Bronx. It's an area he lost by quite a bit in 2020. What today's move says about the political moment we're in?

And Chinese fighter jets and warships encircling Taiwan, the Chinese government insisted this is only a task, but there also calling these, quote, punishment drills.

Plus, as the summer concert season kicks off, the federal lawsuit aiming to break up Live Nation and Ticketmaster, accusing the 2010 merger of stifling competition, hurting consumers. I'll talk to one of the top prosecutors taking on the ticket behemoth.


TAPPER: Everyone, welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We start today with our 2024 lead, with a short break in his hush money cover-up trial, Donald Trump is returning to the campaign trail tonight. And he's targeting two specific groups of voters whose support could be key to sending him back to the White House or not?

Tonight's Trump rally is in the Bronx, one of the most Democratic counties in the entire United States. The Bronx, which Trump lost by about 68 points to Joe Biden in 2020.

But a Trump campaign official says tonight's trip is part of their focus on winning over minority voters, specifically Black and Hispanic voters. Ahead of tonight's rally, the Biden campaign launched two new ads highlighting what it calls Trump's long record of failures and broken promises to Black Americans.

President Biden, we should note is not on the campaign trail himself. He's here in D.C. rolling out the red carpet for the president of Kenya as the White House looks to boost ties with the East African nation. We'll have more on the state visit and some of the thornier issues that the two liters are discussing in a moment.

But we're going to start with CNN's Kristen Holmes on the campaign trail, taking a closer look at both the upcoming Trump rally and the former Trump competitors who are now backing his bid for a return to the White House.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump campaigning tonight in one of the bluest counties in the country.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm going to the South Bronx, to go rally.

HOLMES: As the former president tries to build support with Black and Hispanic voters. Recent polls showing him making gains with key blocs of President Joe Biden's coalition.

Four years ago, Biden won Bronx County by nearly 68 points.

REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): I'm confident that the Bronx is going to overwhelmingly reject Donald Trump. Based on the polling data that I've seen among likely voters in the Bronx, Donald Trump is so unpopular as to be radioactive. You know, he's even less popular than arsenic in the Bronx.

HOLMES: Despite New York's strong Democratic lean, Trump he can put the Empire State in play this November.

TRUMP: I love the state. I love the people of the state. I'm running hard in New York. I think we're going to win New York.

HOLMES: Something he claimed during his first run in 2016 --

TRUMP: I think we're going to win New York.

HOLMES: And again, in 2020.

TRUMP: We're going for New York. You know, we're going for New York.

HOLMES: Losing the state both times by more than 20 points.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you. And God bless you all.

HOLMES: In fact, no Republican nominee has carried New York work since Ronald Reagan in 1984.

The Bronx stop comes as the Republican Party continues to coalesce around Trump after a bitterly thought primary campaign against Nikki Haley, the former South Carolina governor gave Trump a boost Wednesday, saying she would support him in November.

NIKKI HALEY (R), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Trump has not been perfect on these policies. I've made that clear many, many times but Biden has been a catastrophe. So I will be voting for Trump.

HOLMES: Her turn about coming after closing her campaign, warning about Trump's impact on the GOP.

HALEY: How much more losing do we have to do before we realize maybe Donald Trump is the problem?

HOLMES: Another Trump rival, Ted Cruz, refusing to say if he would accept the 2024 election results during an interview with CNN's Kaitlan Collins.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST, "THE SOURCE": Free and fair election, will you accept the results regardless of who wins?

SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): Look, if the Democrats win, I will accept the result. But I'm not going to ignore fraud regardless of what happened.

COLLINS: Was there a fraud in 2020?

CRUZ: Of course, there was fraud.

HOLMES: It's a message being put forward by several top Republicans, including those vying to be Trump's running mate.


KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS HOST: Will you commit to accepting the election results of 2024, bottom line? SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): At the end of the day, the 47th president of

the United States will be President Donald Trump. And I'm excited to get back to low inflation, low unemployment.

WELKER: Wait, wait, Senator, yes or no? Yes or no? Will you accept the election results of 2024, no matter who wins?

SCOTT: That is my statement.


HOLMES: And, Jake, I spoke to a number of people here in the Bronx about Donald Trump's visit here and the reaction was really mixed. I had one person tell me that Donald Trump should get the F out. That he doesn't belong here in the Bronx.

I've also had a number of people tell me that they voted for Biden last time around, but they were not necessarily sure they wanted to for him again. There is certainly a line of at least several hundred people outside waiting to come in to hear what the former president has to say.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks so much.

To the White House now, where the final preparations are underway for tonight's state dinner with the president of Kenya. Before the festivities, the two leaders held a joint news conference where they were pressed about a few tough issues.

CNN's MJ Lee is at the White House for us.

MJ, tell us what are the most pressing topics for the two leaders this afternoon?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, we are certainly seeing the highest trappings of U.S. diplomacy this week. Earlier today, we had a bilateral meeting between the two leaders, followed by the press conference. And then, of course, to come tonight is a state dinner. No big surprises from that press conference, Jake, which was, of course, meant to really highlight the deep relationship between U.S. and Kenya. We saw a number of announcements from the two leaders, including the designation of Kenya as a major non-NATO ally.

This, of course, is really significant given that this is the first sub-Saharan African nation to receive that designation. And then just the two leaders highlighting other areas because of economic and technological areas of cooperation and a one huge topic of discussion, of course, ways of alleviating the debt burdens spelt by countries like Kenya and other developing countries.

Now, President Biden was confronted with a number of questions, including on the situation in Haiti, where he really we express support for and gratefulness, he said, for Kenya's willingness to use and deploy its own police forces to try to bring some calm to the country. He also defended the decision to not have U.S. forces be directly involved. The president also gave this blunt answer when he was asked about the

ICC's decision to go after an issue, arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, Jake. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We've made our position clear, the ICC, we don't think the -- we don't recognize that jurisdiction. ICC, the way it's being exercised, and it's that simple. We don't think there's an equivalence between what Israel did, what Hamas did.


LEE: We've also just gotten word that former President Obama met with President Ruto at Blair House, just across the street here. Of course, President Obama's father was born in Kenya and he did make a visit to Kenya as president back in 2015. A visit to Africa is not something that President Biden has made yet. And actually, all of the things that we are seeing this week is seen in some ways as making up for that broken promise.

The president had said that he would be visiting Africa sometime this year. That is clearly not going to happen. The president saying yesterday that perhaps he'll make that visit some time in February after he is reelected -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. MJ Lee at the White House for us, thank you so much.

Today, the U.S. Supreme Court approved a South Carolina congressional map that a lower court had ruled diluted Black voting power. The U.S. Supreme Court justices ruled six to three along conservative, liberal lines, rejecting the argument raised by civil rights groups that Republicans had been using race to draw the congressional districts to improve their chances, instead of using party which is allowed.

This is about specifically South Carolina's first congressional district, which Congresswoman Nancy Mace currently represents.

My panel's here to discuss.

Jessica, what happens next? Is that it?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It's it for right now. The congressional maps that favor these Republicans in South Carolina, they will be in place for 2024 and potentially beyond. You talked about at the six conservative justices, they really shut down these racial gerrymandering claims. They said that state legislature, when drawing these new maps, had acted on good faith. Instead of race, they relied on partisan politics.

But I will note these civil rights groups who had challenge to the map the court did say, you can go back to the lower courts and challenge it, but on different grounds. So rather than on racial gerrymandering, they can go back and challenge on voter dilution claims, which are slightly different. So, there's the potential that they could eventually get rid of these maps, but it's going to take awhile, probably several years beyond likely 2026, if they're even successful.

TAPPER: So, Justice Elena Kagan in the minority wrote a dissent -- a lengthy dissent.


What is she arguing?

SCHNEIDER: I mean, she was really scathing. She warned that this decision is really going to make it difficult to challenge voting maps across the country because these lawmakers are going to be able to rely on the partisan than politics of it, saying, no, we didn't consider race. So this is what she said in her dissent.

She said the proper response to this case is not to throw up novel roadblocks enabling South Carolina to continue dividing citizens along racial lines. It is to respect the plausible know the more than plausible findings of the district court that the state engaged in race-based distracting and to tell the state that it must redraw district one, this time without targeting African-American citizens.

So, you know, to that end, Jake, legal watchers are very worried about this decision. They're saying that it might allow mapmakers across the country to really manipulate these maps on the basis of partisan politics because, notably, Samuel Alito in this opinion said that we should really defer to these legislatures. The first thing we should think is that they acted in good faith, and if that's how you start off in analysis, its more likely that these maps are going to be allowed to go into effect across the country.

TAPPER: Interesting stuff.

Eva, besides Donald Trump, perhaps no one is more responsible for the makeup of the court, and Senator Mitch McConnell, actually, you could argue McConnell's more responsible because he's been around longer. McConnell got all three of Trump's justices through the approval process, refused to take up the nomination of Merrick Garland.

McConnell, however, stepping down from leadership and a new name has jumped in to replace him.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: That's right. Senator Rick Scott of Florida, who, you know, he has to get through his own reelection campaign first.

But, Jake, I have been with Senator Scott on the campaign trail in his capacity leading the National Republican Senatorial Committee. And I could tell you he's very confident perhaps the he kind of confidence that comes with great wealth, which he has, and he really wants this job. He ran for it before.

I was speaking to someone close to him today and they told me, listen, there is a long time before this leadership race. A lot could happen over the next several months if Trump gets reelected, Scott is very close to Trump and that he has a core group of Republican senators who supported him the last time.

What is for sure though is that whoever they ultimately pick, they will steer the vision in terms of the future of Republicans in the Senate.

TAPPER: And, Sabrina, take a listen to what Senator John Cornyn of Texas, who is also running to replace McConnell as Senate Republican leader said about Senator Rick Scott entering the race.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): My experience has been these kind of races is determined by relationships and trust. And people committed to make sure that individual senators can do their job to the best of their ability and represent their constituents. And that's what I intend to do.


TAPPER: How competitive do you think this is going to be? Isn't it -- is it, and is it going to be just between those two?

SABRINA SIDDIQUI, REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL: No, Senator Thune, the second ranking Republican is also seen as a front runner. And I think a lot of people expect it'd be more so between Senator Thune and Senator Cornyn and here's why, you know, as he rightly pointed out, what Senator Scott does have going for him, is that he is close to and well-liked by former President Trump. And we've seen, of course, what Trump's influences over the Republican Party.

But what's interesting when you listen to Senator Cornyn talking about personal relationships is that is one of the vulnerabilities that Senator Rick Scott has within the Senate Republican Conference because there are a lot of hard feelings about how he managed the NRSC, leaving it in significant amount of debt. He was accused by his colleagues of, you know, picking weak candidates or supporting weak candidates, again, a lot of Trumpian candidates who didn't have, you know, a real viable path in a general election.

And, of course, he had challenged leader McConnell and I think also burn some bridges by openly criticizing McConnell, who is very respected and well-liked by Senate Republicans.

So that's going to be some of the obstacles that I think that he has to overcome. But again, there is, of course, a lot of time between now and when we actually see this leadership race come to fruition and we still don't know who else might throw their hat in the ring as well.

TAPPER: Would you give it to Thune right now if the election were held today?

SIDDIQUI: Well, obviously, as the second ranking Republican, someone who's got a lot of relationships, you know, I think he definitely has a lot of advantages. You know, Senator Cornyn has come under fire from some of -- some conservatives for cutting some bipartisan deals around issues like gun safety, which, of course, have gotten him in some trouble with the base. And, of course, it remains to be seen what the Trump factor is as well.

I mean, both Thune and Cornyn have mended their relationships with Trump after criticizing him over January 6 in the past, but, you know, there also be, you know, that big unknown in terms of what actually happens in the November election and how does that then impact, you know, the course of this particular race.

TAPPER: Although, it is difficult to -- it's difficult to imagine the Republicans not taking the Senate back, given how the map is. It looks very advantageous for Republicans.


Eva, you're out on the trail all the time. How often does the Supreme Court come up as an issue? Because there are possibly two retirements brewing.

MCKEND: So not the Supreme Court per say, but the issue of abortion does come up quite a bit. I have been surprised that it's not only women, not only women in terms of Democratic voters who are motivated by this, but young men as well who are concerned about the women in their lives.

But they're also -- it also presents a challenge for Democrats in that they have to respond to frustrations from these Democratic voters that there was so much inaction on this issue when Democrats were really in a position of power to do something. It's not all a positive issue for them.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks one and all. Appreciate it.

Coming up next, China's daring war games off the coast of Taiwan, circling the island with warships and fighter jets. Why the Chinese government is calling these punishment drills.

And new calls for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito to recuse himself from future cases dealing with the 2020 election after a second controversial flag was spotted outside one of his homes.



TAPPER: In our world lead, the Chinese government is encircling Taiwan with military, warships and planes. What the Chinese government is calling punishment drill cells are widely seen as retaliation against the newly elected pro democracy Taiwanese president who calls these drills intimidation tactics.

And as CNN's Will Ripley reports for us now, China's military provocation comes as some Taiwanese lawmakers are pushing for closer ties to China.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A chaotic start for Taiwan's new president, Lai Ching-te. Just days after taking office, China launching large scale military exercises and protesters taking to the streets of the capital, Taipei.

Operation Joint Sword-2024A set to encircle Taiwan over two days, dozens of Chinese aircraft, warships and Coast Guard vessels.

Beijing describing the drills as a powerful punishment for so-called separatist forces in Taiwan, a dramatic increase in military pressure on the island democracy.

WEN-TI SUNG, FELLOW, ATLANTIC COUNCIL'S GLOBAL CHINA HUB: I think Beijing will likely respond with fire and fury. That's almost to be expected from Beijing.

Senior security officials in Taipei tell CNN, most of the aircraft crossed into Taiwan's self-declared air defense identification zone, a move the island's defense ministry calls a serious provocation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Their military exercise is not helping with the situation around Taiwan Strait.

RIPLEY: China's military says the exercises are a direct response to the separatist provocations and external interferences. They say the motherland must be reunified and will inevitably be reunified.

In his inauguration speech this week, Lai calling on the communist mainland to stop its military and political intimidation and recognize this sovereignty of democratic Taiwan, using the islands official name, the Republic of China.

LAI CHING-TE, TAIWANESE PRESIDENT (through translator): I hope that China will face the reality of the Republic of China's existence and respect the choices of the people of Taiwan.

RIPLEY: Word seen by some as a departure from the cautious tone taken by his predecessor Tsai Ing-wen.

President Lai's first days have been anything but calm, massive youth protests erupted outside parliament, demonstrators protesting a push by opposition parties to subject the islands new leader to tighter scrutiny from China-friendly lawmakers. More chaos inside Taiwan's fiercely divided parliament. A massive brawl broke out last week over those legislative reform bills.

In the Taiwanese capital, confidence in the government and the military.

MR. LIU, TAIPEI RESIDENT (through translator): If the Chinese communist party does attack Taiwan, it won't be easy. Taiwanese people are not afraid of war.

MS. TSAI, TAIPEI RESIDENT (through translator): I believe leaders will prioritize people's happiness. So, I'm not worried. I think peace will be maintained.

RIPLEY: A fragile peace and tumultuous times for President Lai -- military threats across the Taiwan Strait and deep divisions at home.


RIPLEY (on camera): It is now Friday morning thing here in Taipei, 4:22 a.m. and in the coming hours, we're expecting an update on the number of Chinese warships and warplanes and coast guard vessels that have been observed by Taiwan's military.

They've essentially having to scramble in response, and a lot of these planes are flying right over the median line into Taiwan's self- declared air defense identification zone at the same time, in the coming hours here in the Taiwanese capital, we are expecting a day of massive protests, youth protesters have been gathering outside of parliament where today, these China-friendly lawmakers going to try to push through this bill that would essentially take away some of the power from Taiwan's new president.

So we could have a scenario perhaps exactly what Beijing was intending, where you have massive protests in Taipei, as Chinese military drills are encircling Taiwan. This is exactly the kind of chaos that senior security officials told us earlier this week at the inauguration, China would try to inject into the democracy here in Taiwan to try to destabilize this new government.

TAPPER: And, Will, you referenced those intense fights and parliament over the bills to take away power from the new pro -- pro-democracy president. Could we see even more of those kind of violent confrontations and the few hours coming up when those discussions continue?

RIPLEY: These scuffles in Taiwan's parliament, Jake, have happened before, obviously last Friday when you had people that had to go to the hospital because they were thrown over the edge. People were punched, you know, those are pretty chaotic scene even for Taiwanese standards where things often get heated in parliament.

But yes, given how contentious these legislative reforms are, and the fact that they're going to be protesters outside only adding to the pressure inside, we could have one of these scenarios that you cannot write a story more dramatic in politics to have things like that inside parliament, protests outside parliament, and then military drills surrounding the island.


TAPPER: Yeah. No, chaos, absolutely. Will Ripley in Taipei, Taiwan, thank you so much.

Coming up next, look, what you made them do. The bad blood over ticket prices now turning into a lawsuit aiming to break up Live Nation and Ticketmaster. Could this mean big savings for you or will it be a cruel summer for your wallet?

One of the top prosecutors behind the case is here to respond.


TAPPER: In our money lead, the U.S. Department of Justice this morning announced that they're going to sue to break apart entertainment behemoths Live Nation and Ticketmaster, which merged in 2010.

Here's U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We allege that Live Nation has illegally monopolized markets across the live concert industry in the United States for far too long. It is time to break it up. It is time for fans and artists to stop paying the price for Live Nation's monopoly.


TAPPER: Today's move by the DOJ is seen by the DOJ as a win for musicians and concert-goers. But will this lawsuit actually bring those high service ticket fees down?

Joining us now is U.S. assistant attorney general of the antitrust division, Jonathan Kanter. You saw him in that shot, to the attorney general's left. Thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

So in a statement, Live Nation is calling this lawsuit, quote, baseless, and a PR move by the Justice Department. Live Nation says this will not, quote, solve the issues fans care about, relating to ticket prices, service fees, and access to in-demand shows. They go on to say the DOJ, quote, will lose in court because it ignores the basic economics of live entertainment.

So, the lawsuit is likely to take years before. Even if you -- even could prevail before the high service feeds will dramatically drop, right? What's your response to Live Nation?


This isn't a case that the American public understands. Why? Because they are unhappy with the cost of live music, and they are unhappy with a monopolist controlling how much they pay and how they see their live shows.

The end of the de we believe that competition is what drives prices down. We believe that competition drives choice. We believe that competition is what creates opportunities for new businesses.

And to the extent that Live Nation, Ticketmaster's violating the antitrust law, which is what we allege in our complaint, than they should be held accountable and competition should have the opportunity to flourish.

TAPPER: So how do you know for certain that the majority of the money from the service fees are actually going to Live Nation or Ticketmaster? Because officials from Live Nation tell us that that money, much of it is going to the venues. So how is Ticketmaster controlling are you alleging?

KANTER: Yeah. So when a fan pays a service fee, they pay it to Ticketmaster and Ticketmaster takes the money. It may -- Ticketmaster may not think that that is a lot of money, but if you're a fan and you're paying a service fee, it's a lot of money to real people, people who are trying to afford the opportunity to see live music.

TAPPER: Well, how much is an average service fee, do you know?

KANTER: There are many fees. So you've got service fees sometimes in the $15, $20 range, but you also have credit card fees. You have processing fees, you have venue fees you have dish often the joke is fee-fi-fo-fum. There are often half a dozen fees on any given ticket.

TAPPER: Okay. This merger, but are they all going to Ticketmaster? I mean, a credit card fee, is that not going to the credit card company? I don't --

KANTER: Some of it gets passed on, but as we alleged in our complaint, Ticketmaster's is the one that takes that fee. Ticketmaster's a company that is profiting handsomely from those fees, and Ticketmaster has a monopoly position and competition is what will drive fees down.

Competition is what will allow new business models and new companies to enter the market. That's what our system promotes.

TAPPER: So this merger between Live Nation and Ticketmaster happened in 2010. I mean, 14 years ago. Why to try to break them up now?

KANTER: A lot happened since then. So that case was a review under Section 7 of the Clayton Act, basically, whether the merger itself should be blocked.

What happens -- happened since then was in control of Live Nation, Ticketmaster. And what we alleged in our complaint is that they've taken steps systematically, including recently to violate the antitrust laws.

That's within their control, and that's illegal under the Sherman Act. That is monopolization and that is why we're bringing the case now.

TAPPER: So this -- you said that this merger -- well, first of all, do you think the merger was a mistake in 2010? If you're trying to break it up now, presumably you do.

KANTER: I think that's a separate question that was addressed by my predecessors at the Department of Justice. I think history and fans can be the judge of whether that was the right decision or not. We're focused on the facts as they exist today. And when we look back over last ten plus years, we see a pattern of anticompetitive conduct that has frozen competition in its tracks and prevented the kind of innovation and competition pricing is that we would expect in a healthy market. TAPPER: Do you think this is the most important antitrust case going

on right now, or are just the one that the public is able to understand the easiest because they understand the notion of going to buy tickets? There's only one ship, one place in town to do that, and the fees have gone up and up?


Because, I mean, it just seems like Amazon, Google -- I mean, there are much bigger offenders one would think.

KANTER: We, in the antitrust world, the antitrust laws were founded to deal with the biggest companies in the country and the world. And so, it is common for us to take on big bullies, big companies. They're all important. We bring cases in tech and healthcare and agriculture.

But you're right, this is a case at the American public understands because they can see how monopoly control by a single entity can result in less choice and higher prices and they're upset. I think fans are the best judge of whether the system is working. And to the extent that the system is broken, because Live Nation, Ticketmaster engaged in the illegal conduct, than there should be accountability.

TAPPER: All right. U.S. assistant attorney general of antitrust division, Jonathan Kanter, thank you so much. And, of course, we extend an invitation to Ticketmaster and Live Nation if they want to come on and talk about their side of the story here.

Ahead, flags and symbolism. Why is there so much uproar on the left over the controversial flags spotted outside a Supreme Court justice's home?

And breaking news on Wall Street, the Dow just moments ago closing today down more than 600 points, making its worst day of the year. One big driver, the prospect of higher interest rates and other Boeing -- Boeing stock dropped 7.5 percent.

We'll be right back.



TAPPER: In our politics leads, so far, no comment from U.S. Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito about the now second controversial flag "The New York Times" reported had been seen outside a home of his. The latest was called an "appeal to heaven" flag flown at his New Jersey beach house in Long Beach Island. Before that, it was an inverted U.S. flag. That's a distress symbol hung at Alito's home in Virginia.

Both flags were carried by some of the rioters on January 6, 2021, both giving Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat, to reason to call all in Alito to recuse himself in cases related to the 2020 election. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. DICK DURBIN (D-IL): Listen, I don't think it's a coincidence in the second instance, I think he's speaking pretty clearly as to whose political loyalties and its a shame. And this really raises a serious question when we have someone in the highest court in the land who's sporting these political flag flags at his residence, and a vacation.


TAPPER: Vexillology, that's the word of the day, vexillology. It's the study of the history, symbolism, and usage of flags. And if you're anything like us, it might not be up to speed on the vexillology of today's politics.

But CNN's Tom Foreman is and he filed this report.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the roaring violence of January 6, 2021, there they were the upside down American flag, a symbol of distress and unity for then President Donald Trump's fans trying to overturn his election loss and the "appeal to heaven" flag often associated with Christian nationalism.

Now reports those flags have been captured in photos of residences for Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito in 2021 and last summer raising alarms.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): He definitively needs to recuse himself from any matter pending before the United States Supreme Court that has to do with the January 6 violent insurrection. He should have no part of it.

DURBIN: I think he's speaking pretty clearly as to his political loyalties.

FOREMAN: Alito has largely dodged questions about the incidents beyond saying his wife flew that upside down flag and not for long. His defenders note Republican Speaker of the House Mike Johnson also displays the "appeal to heaven" flag outside his office. He says it's not a comment on elections.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Yeah, it's George Washington's flag. It goes back to the respected founder's era. I've always flown that flag. It has nothing to do with that.

FOREMAN: But Johnson is not on the Supreme Court.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I care deeply about the Boy Scouts of America, as you know, I know your boys are Cub Scouts, too. If I carve the Scout fleur-de-lis in my lawn, fine. If I'm a Supreme Court justice and the Boy Scouts have litigation in front of me. That is a sign of bias under the Supreme Court's rules.

FOREMAN: Trump and his supporters have embraced many historic flags, some associated with modern extremism, causing concern outside the MAGA movement. But with the Supreme Court justice involved and all the potential consequences, any recusal might bring to key cases for conservative causes. Many Republicans are shrugging.

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I wouldn't care about the landscaping choices of Sam Alito. I don't. I don't, and I think this is part of a years-long effort to delegitimize this branch of government.


FOREMAN (on camera): To be clear, there is no sign that Alito is going to recuse himself from anything. He really hasn't acknowledged that there's anything wrong with associating with these symbols.

But to be clear, Jake, these were the symbols that were carried by people who stormed across Washington, smashed into the Capitol, attacked and injured police officers, often using the very flag poles that they carried these flags on.

TAPPER: All right. Tom Foreman, with today's vexillology lesson. Appreciate it.

A notable attack in Ukraine today. A wave of Russian missiles killing seven people. CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in the region and we're going to go to him next.



TAPPER: In today's world lead, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is denouncing what he's calling an extremely brutal Russian attack. Multiple missiles hit in and around the town of Kharkiv, killing at least seven people. Kharkiv is an important northeastern city Ukrainian forces took back after Russia captured Kharkiv earlier in the war.

Now the Russians are closing in again, and president's Zelenskyy is pleading for air defense weapons.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is in the area.

Nick, what do we know about today's attack? Did the Russian missiles go completely undetected?

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it's always unclear if this is a failure of interceptors or a failure of detection. Often you hear sirens ring out across the city.


There may have been some ahead of this. We were certainly shaken by many of these blasts miles away in a supermarket. In fact, 15 landing, two locations, the seven dead. We think we've visited the scene of that, some craters near railway track or printing press seems to have been the target, an entirely civilian area, firefighters taking cover.

Because of this constant fear now in Kharkiv and other cities that Russia will use a double tap, that's essentially the attacking a place with a missile and then following that missile up ten minutes later with another missile to essentially hit the first responders who rushed to rescue people to essentially inspire fear across the population. This not the first time and in a just a week, we've had in the past seeing Kharkiv hit quite so hard at the weekend on Sunday at lakeside resort hits seven dead there too, including a seven month pregnant women.

And every night when we were in Kharkiv over the past week, we would here blasts on the skyline, drones at times, really Russian forces getting a lot closer now potentially trying to get their artillery in range. And this one, it seems of the goals of Putin's new offensive -- Jake.

TAPPER: And presumably, Nick, the fact that the Russian missiles were able to get in with such deadly effect is why Presidents Zelenskyy is specifically pleading for more -- pleading for more air defense weapons now, yes?

WALSH: Yeah. We've had very clear demands for two Patriot systems to protect Kharkiv and haven't shown up at all. We don't also know if were seeing here a higher level of Russian missile being used. There seems to be suggesting that these are perhaps S400, S300 kind of anti- aircraft missiles being repurposed to hit land targets.

So, yes, it seems like more air defenses would certainly put a dent in some of the damage that they're doing. But remember Jake, this is the first thing that Kyiv warned about, back in December when that $61 billion of U.S. military aid was held up by a ridiculous dysfunctional Republican Congress. Now, we're actually seeing that in effect, Kharkiv, particularly on the receiving end here.

And the end goal for Moscow essentially is even if they perhaps except that they could never take Ukraine's second city, they got nowhere near it really, when the war started, kept on the outskirts, the idea is potentially to draw Ukrainian forces away from where I am in the east of the country on very precarious front line, to yet weaken Ukraine further here and allow Russian advances.

But bear in mind, we are seeing probably the worst moment here for Kyiv still on its front line since the war began, a very difficult time. The weapons yet to get into their hands and Russia trying to seize that opportunity of weaknesses hard as they can.

Yes, Ukraine, a holding them back to some degree but the pressure is pretty persistent. As, as the Russian progress Jake.

TAPPER: All right, CNN's Nick Paton Walsh in Ukraine, stay safe, my friend.

More now in our world lead. President Biden currently hosting the president of Kenya for a state visit. One of the big topics for the big -- for the two leaders is Haiti. Kenya is leading a multinational force targeting the brutal gangs in Haiti. They control most of the capital Port-au-Prince. President Biden today defended a decision U.S. troops will not be part of that for. CNN's David Culver joins us now live.

And, David, you've been to Haiti three times in the past year. You'd seen firsthand the terrible conditions of Port-au-Prince is at the hands of these gangs. Why is Kenya leading this force?

DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's interesting, Jake. At that press conference a short time ago with President Ruto of Kenya, along with President Biden, a Kenyan journalists asked President Ruto the same the question, hey, why Kenya? We could use the resources and law enforcement staying within Kenyan helping our own country.

The simplified answer of this, Jake, is because Kenya is willing to, and they feel like they can do this effectively because they have the support of a few other countries. Sure. They don't have U.S. troops, but they have U.S. resources, including a lot of equipment, some intel, but it still is delayed. In fact, as of today, there were supposed to be a couple of hundred Kenyan police officers in Port-au- Prince. But we've had a look at some of the planning documents and it seems like they're off that schedule.

And part of the reason is were hearing from one source on the ground that they just don't have the resources in place. The infrastructure is not quite there to be able to host these police officers and allow them to effectively do their job.

So, as of now, it's been pushed off, but as soon as they're able to get those troops in which seems to be about a week or so from now that it could be happening, they'll then be able to begin their attack on these gangs and they have really held a stronghold, as we know there, and we've seen it firsthand.

TAPPER: And, David, how do you think the gangs who recently approved the formation of a transitional governing council for Haiti -- how do you think they're going to react to this multinational force coming in?

CULVER: The gangs cannot stand the idea of foreign forces coming in and they do not like this transitional counsel. We've met with one gang leader, one of the more prominent ones, Vitel'homme Innocent, and he told us firsthand that he is willing to resist with a lot of violence.


And we can expect that amongst the dozens of gangs, mind you, that are across Haiti right now.

Port-au-Prince, you have to keep in mind, Jake, more than 80 percent of that capital city is controlled by gangs. And so, if they're willing to negotiate, what would that look like? Well, according to some of these gang leaders, they want a seat at the table.

But how do you give groups? That are accused of rape, of murder, of kidnapping of innocent people a seat at Haiti's future and discussing that when they have had done so much that has religious caused a lot of disruption and terror within that country.

Still, though, they hold the power. So the Kenyans are likely looking at the same, look, we want to give the gangs and off-ramp here, but if not, it is going to be violent.

TAPPER: All right. David Culver, thank you so much.

A rather dramatic scene at Harvard's commencement ceremony today. Hundreds of graduates walked out, more than 1,000 according to the schools newspaper, "The Crimson", to protest over the university's decision to prevent several seniors from participating after their anti-Israel demonstration. How this scene directly related to another scene today on Capitol Hill, next.