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The Lead with Jake Tapper

IDF Confirms Four Hamas Hostages Dead, Netanyahu Urged To Pursue Ceasefire Deal; ProPublica Reports Trump Witnesses Received Raises And Benefits; Supreme Court Expected To Decide On Major Key Issues In The Coming Weeks; Supreme Court To Rule On Series Of Major Cases; Foul On WNBA's Caitlin Clark Stirs Debate About Race, Privilege; Activists Brian Wallach And Sandra Abrevaya On Fighting ALS. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 03, 2024 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to "The Lead." I'm Jake Tapper. This hour, the Trump campaign pushing back on a new report from "ProPublica," which says, quote, "witnesses in the various criminal cases against the former president have gotten pay raises and new jobs and more." I'm going to talk to one of the journalists behind the new report.

Plus, that flagrant foul on Caitlin Clark. Why is everybody hating on the woman bringing so much attention to women's basketball?

And leading this hour, four Israeli hostages taken by Hamas on October 7th are no longer alive. That today, according to the Israeli military, which says that the terrorist group Hamas is holding the bodies of Amiram Cooper and Yoram Metzger, Chaim Perry and Nadav Popplewell. Perry's family today calling on the Israeli government, calling on Netanyahu to pursue the ceasefire deal to save those who are still alive.

And that is a question causing so much confusion. Is Israel close to a ceasefire deal in exchange for a hostage release? President Biden proposed exactly that in his speech Friday, as you may recall. But in statements today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemed to be not exactly on board. So let's get right to CNN's Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem. Jeremy, is Israel any closer to accepting a deal? Is Hamas any closer to accepting a deal than last week?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are certainly hearing President Biden and multiple other G7 countries trying to put their full weight of public support and public pressure behind this deal and also trying to communicate publicly and privately that the Israeli government, the Israeli prime minister himself, despite his public comments saying that he will not end the war until all the objectives are achieved, trying to convince the world that the Israeli government is in fact behind this proposal.

And if Hamas agrees to it, it can indeed become a reality. But that is still very much uncertain here in Israel, in particular because the Israeli prime minister is now kind of confronting a key choice. And that could be whether or not to allow his government to survive, to ensure the survival of his government by kowtowing to the demands of some of the right-wing ministers in his government who do not want this proposal to go through, do not want this war to end, or choosing to actually implement the deal that his government has proposed.

That, of course, rests on what Hamas will do. We haven't yet gotten Hamas's official response, but if they respond positively, then the ball will be back in Netanyahu's court. And as he has been trying over the last couple of days to insist that this war will not end until Hamas is destroyed, there is now new concern inside the Israeli government.

I'm told by two sources, two Israeli sources familiar with the matter, that the Israeli prime minister's comments downplaying the extent to which this could lead to the end of the war actually risks undermining this Israeli proposal, in part because there's a lot of language in this proposal that is intentionally ambiguous, intended to try and sell Hamas on this proposal, sell Hamas on the idea that these negotiations that could extend this six-week ceasefire could ultimately lead to something much, much longer term and ultimately lead to an end of the war.

TAPPER: And Jeremy, we've been covering for quite some time, but especially since October 7th, about how much Netanyahu's grip on power, how much his governing coalition depends on these very far- right racist anti-Arab zealots. How is that factoring into this?

DIAMOND: Well, it's factoring in enormously as we've been watching the Israeli prime minister insisting this is not going to lead to an end of the war, risking potentially undermining the proposal itself. He's doing all of this because of these threats from the finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, from the national security minister, Itamar Ben- Gvir. Either of them could single-handedly lead to bring about the collapse of this government should they leave.

But there is, of course, another alternative, one that has been raised by the opposition leader Yair Lapid. He has said that he would come into this government effectively providing a safety net during the implementation of this deal to keep Netanyahu in power as prime minister, to keep this government alive. But if Netanyahu were to agree to that, he would effectively be handing the keys to Yair Lapid, the keys to collapsing the government, to leading to early elections at a time of his choosing.

And of course, Benny Gantz also factors into this. He's a member of the emergency war cabinet at the moment, but he has said that he will leave that war cabinet by this Saturday if the Israeli prime minister doesn't provide details about a long-term strategy in Gaza.


Interestingly, Gantz and Gallant, another member of the war cabinet, have been on the phone with the secretary of state, Tony Blinken, today, a key sign that the United States is really trying to corral every piece of power, every piece of the architecture of this government to ensure that they are not only behind this deal, but that they stay behind this deal as Hamas has presented with this proposal.

TAPPER: All right, CNN's Jeremy Diamond in Jerusalem, thanks so much. Joining us now to discuss, CNN political and global affairs analyst, Barak Ravid. He's also a political reporter for "Axios." Barak, why is this ceasefire confusion, in your view, possibly strategic by Netanyahu?

BARAK RAVID, CNN POLITICAL AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think Netanyahu right now is in a situation that he did not want to be in, meaning he got to this situation because the members of his own war cabinet and his own security chiefs, the people he appointed, sort of united against him within the cabinet to say we need this deal and we need this proposal, and he had no choice but to endorse this proposal, to bring it to a vote. It passed unanimously in the war cabinet. He approved it, and it was delivered to Hamas.

And now if Hamas says yes, he is in a really big problem because he will really have to decide something he tried to prevent, to avoid for some time now.

TAPPER: Biden said if Hamas does come to negotiate a deal, Israel has to be flexible enough to close that deal. Is a deal possible, you think?

RAVID: I think it is. I think it is. And when you look at the Hamas proposal from May 6, and you look at the Israeli proposal from May 27, you see that the changes are really not that big. There is still a big issue of how you interpret the same language, okay? Hamas interprets it as when this is implemented, the war will end. Israel interprets it in a way that says, well, we still have an exit point at a certain time if we want to resume the war.

And this is, I think this is the main sticking point, and this is why this proposal, this Israeli proposal, was drafted with this ambiguity to allow both sides to at least get into the deal, get into phase one, and decide later whether they want to continue or they want to, you know, stop the deal and, you know, in the middle.

TAPPER: So on day 16 in this proposal, Israel and Hamas are supposed to start ceasefire negotiations. Netanyahu has repeatedly said Israel's not going to start those discussions until Hamas is wiped out. Now, you're hearing from your sources that the main part of the Rafah operation is over. So how much more fighting does Israel believe it still needs to do?

RAVID: If you ask people in the IDF, they will tell you that it doesn't even matter, meaning the IDF leadership, the Shin Bet, the Israeli Domestic Security Service, the Mossad, all the security services say it is worth stopping now, okay, in order to get the hostages back.

And maybe down the road, in two months, in three months, in six months, in a year, Hamas will give Israel, you know, a reason, or it will violate the deal, or it will attack again, or anything, and will give Israel the reason or the pretext or the justification to go back into Gaza and to finish off Hamas. And all of the security services tell Netanyahu it is more urgent to bring the hostages back right now than to destroy Hamas.

The "Times of Israel's" David Horowitz points out that Israel's deal, quote, "requires Hamas to consent to its own effective demise, and why, one must ask, would Hamas agree to do that," unquote. Does Hamas think it can reach a ceasefire and still eventually rebuild its terrorist ranks and continue to govern such as it did Gaza?

RAVID: I think it depends who you ask inside Hamas. Some people inside Hamas have been telling Ibrahim Sinwar, Hamas leader in Gaza, that once you go into such a temporary ceasefire, that at least on phase one, we're talking about 42 days, that's a lot. The previous ceasefire was only seven days. Now we're talking about 42 days. So once you're in it, it is very hard for Israel to go back to fighting, and there's a very good chance that this will continue.

And when you continue for another 42 days, if stage two of the deal is implemented, then you are really in a different world. And then it is hard to see how this war resumes.

TAPPER: Barack Ravid, thank you so much for your excellent reporting as always.


Coming up, the blockbuster decisions you can expect from the U.S. Supreme Court in the next few weeks. But first, the Trump campaign's response to an investigation alleging financial rewards for potential witnesses in various criminal cases involving Donald Trump. We'll be right back.


TAPPER: In our "Law and Justice Lead," the Trump campaign is today aggressively pushing back against a new report in "ProPublica," one that says nine potential witnesses in Donald Trump's cases are getting big financial benefits from Trump's companies and his campaign committees. "ProPublica" says that the pay of Trump campaign advisor and lawyer Boris Epshteyn more than doubled.

Trump organization executive Allen Weisselberg got a $2 million severance package that bars him from voluntarily cooperating with law enforcement. The daughter of top Trump campaign official Susie Wiles was hired as the fourth highest paid employee.


And another Trump aide, Dan Scavino, was given a good seat on Trump's social media board after he was subpoenaed, but before he testified.

A Trump campaign official denies any form of witness tampering, saying that benefits provided to witnesses were the result of them taking on more work due to the campaign or his legal cases. Heading up with us now, Robert Faturechi, one of the "ProPublica" investigative reporters behind the piece.

So Robert, let me just ask you the devil's advocate question here. These are people who work very hard for Donald Trump. I mean, Boris Epshteyn, Susie Wiles, like is it not possible that they were paid this because they're working hard and not to influence their testimony?

ROBERT FATURECHI, INVESTIGATIVE REPORTER, PROPUBLICA: Of course that's possible. You know, this circumstance that we're looking at is not unique. Oftentimes, the boss of a company is under criminal investigation and the witnesses are his employees. What we learn from talking to experts is that what's supposed to happen when there's any changes to their employment status in these circumstances is that the decision be made by, you know, ideally by some sort of independent board, that this happened in the normal course of business.

You know, Trump is famously a micromanager and prides himself as a penny pincher. So the idea that, you know, someone's payments being doubled, someone's salary going up by 20 percent, someone ending up on the board of his media company without his knowledge is a bit of a question given his history.

TAPPER: One example in your reporting is a lawyer named Boris Epshteyn. He used to work at the White House. He was an important figure in Trump's effort to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Here's a look at your graph that shows how Trump campaign payments to Epshteyn's company skyrocketed after he was indicted in cases where Epshteyn was a witness.

Now, you talked to former Trump attorney Tim Parlatore. What did he have to say? I know he and -- we should note that he and Boris are not exactly the best of friends. Did Parlatore have any insight or explanation for that?

FATURECHI: Sure. I mean, what he said was that he didn't think that he was qualified for this position and that he was puzzled by this dramatic increase in payments. Other people we talked to said something similar. What the campaign said is that, you know, his responsibilities simply increased. But when we sort of delved into that claim and asked, you know, did the number of hours he's working increase, what they said was that, you know, everyone's already working 24-7 and they were not really able to provide any detail.

Secondly, you know, we see that he is still doing work for other campaigns. He's taken on a new position completely outside of politics. So his attention is divided. And yet again, you know, there was this dramatic increase in payments from the campaign to his company.

TAPPER: So "ProPublica" got a cease-and-desist letter from Trump's attorney, right, demanding that your article not be published, warning, quote, "President Trump will evaluate all legal remedies." "ProPublica" published the article anyway, which means you're confident in the money trail you followed. What discovery stood out to you the most in the course of your reporting?

FATURECHI: Well, yeah, first of all, on the letter, yeah, of course, we take that kind of thing seriously. We actually received it while we were on the phone with the Trump campaign vetting each and every fact that we plan to put in our story. We're very careful about that kind of thing. Which one stood out to me? I mean, we went into nine examples in the story.

What stood out to me was sometimes the timing of the events and benefits. So in one example, a witness in one of former President Trump's cases, between the time he got a subpoena to testify before the grand jury, and when he actually did testify before the grand jury, he got a position on the board of Trump's media company. His affiliation with that company has been quite lucrative.

He got a promissory note, a $4 million promissory note that converted into shares of the company. He got a very large retention bonus. So his affiliation with that company has dramatically changed his fortunes. And again, it occurred between the time he got the subpoena and when he actually testified before the grand jury.

TAPPER: So, a Trump campaign spokesperson, you were talking about how you found it tough to imagine Donald Trump not being aware of raises and such, but a Trump campaign spokesperson, as you know, has said that Trump's not involved in determining how much campaign staffers are paid. What do you make of that?


FATURECHI: Well, you know, again, I look at his history. There's been testimony in the latest trial, his own writings. He has described himself as someone who's in the weeds with the finances of the organizations he sits atop of. So, we have not independently established that he was involved in any of these decisions. But if you look at his history, he is someone who is a micromanager and is deeply involved in the finances of his organizations.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks -- thank you so much, Robert Faturechi. Really appreciate your time today.

The month of June always ushers in a host of opinions from the U.S. Supreme Court. This year, the pending decisions could weigh heavily on the 2024 presidential race. What to expect from the justices in the days and weeks ahead. That's next.



TAPPER: In our "Law and Justice Lead" today, 'tis the season for potentially earth-shattering U.S. Supreme Court decisions. It's the summer. At any time over these next few weeks before July, we will know how the court rules in high profile cases on abortion and guns and former President Donald Trump's claims of immunity from prosecution. Let's discuss with our panel. Jessica, let us start with the decision on Trump's immunity claim. When do you expect the ruling to come down and how do we expect the court will rule?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: All right. So they heard the case. It was their last case end of April. So it's quite likely we won't get a decision in this until the last week, maybe of June. So Donald Trump's lawyers wants this court to find full immunity.

They're arguing that if the president doesn't have full immunity for all actions, overzealous prosecutors could target, you know, future presidents. The Supreme Court seemed really reluctant to take that full immunity bait, if you will. And it looks like they might say that certain official actions are immune for prosecution.

The question is, will the court say that Donald Trump's actions around January 6th or around the election were official actions or will they then send it back down to the lower court to decide whether his actions were official actions? If they do that, Jake, and they allow this case to move forward, it would just further delay the proceedings and it would make it even more likely that the January 6th case here in D.C. won't happen before the election.

TAPPER: And Shermichael, Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito told Democrats on the Hill that he's not going to recuse himself from cases involving the 2020 presidential election or the January 6th attack because they had been calling for it primarily because of the upside- down flag that apparently Mrs. Alito hung as a symbol of distress during the inaugural Stop the Steal, January 6th, all that era. He says that this is all Martha Alito's doing and he told her to take it down and she didn't listen to him.

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yeah, I mean, look, I read some of the reporting on this and they actually did have a pretty raucous sort of dispute between the neighbors. I mean, it was kind of crazy, some of the back and forth. So under that understanding, I don't think the justice necessarily needs to recuse himself. I will say this, though, moving forward, Jake, I think because of the contentiousness of this with how divided the country is, I think the justices and politicians, generally speaking, need to be very, very careful about causing further divisions.

I think it's important right now for the American public to have trust in the Supreme Court, particularly when we know the Supreme Court is going to be deciding on some really serious cases like the case pertaining to the former president.

NAYYERA HAQ, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF CABINET AFFAIRS, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: You know who should not be deciding whether or not Alito should recuse? Alito. At any other level of government, there is a system of checks and balances fundamental to how we operate in a rule of law in this country. But the Supreme Court has its own ethics that it decides and individuals by their own honor would say whether or not they are capable of judging a case.

And it just it's untenable when you have not only political division, but you also have throughout the country the sense that government is running unchecked. And this would be a great space to have more accountability, accountability connecting to this immunity case. Accountability often comes in terms of ethics violations, recusal, prosecution. So, the same Supreme Court that does not want to have outside accountability on itself, it'll be interesting to see how they handle accountability for a president.

TAPPER: On the matter of the Supreme Court considering abortion cases, what are the cases and -- we'll, just tell us about it.

SCHNEIDER: It's really interesting because we're two years post Dobbs when Roe v. Wade was overturned, yet we're still dealing with these abortion cases that are coming up to the Supreme Court. We have two pretty big ones this term. We have one involving mifepristone, which is the abortion pill used in the majority of abortions nationwide. The Supreme Court will have to decide whether or not the FDA overstepped its authority when it sort of eased some of the restrictions on this pill, allowing women to take it earlier in pregnancy, also allowing them to get it by mail.

The challengers on this won in the lower courts. So if the Supreme Court agrees --

TAPPER: The people against mifepristone.



SCHNEIDER: And if the Supreme Court agrees with that, that would severely restrict the availability of this abortion pill that is used in most circumstances.

HAQ: It's about so much more than just this one abortion pill, right? When you start looking at how science builds upon peer-reviewed information and the credibility of medicine overall, taking down one ruling about one medicine could potentially impact all sorts of other issues.

And then you have on the legal side where the two years post Dobbs, hospitals don't know what they can and cannot do. It's all up to now individuals who interpreting the law in the middle of an emergency.


SCHNEIDER: And that goes to the second case here. It's the law out of Idaho that criminalizes abortions in most circumstances. The Biden administration is challenging that, saying, wait a second, we have a law federally that in emergency rooms, doctors should be able to take all measures, including abortions, in order to prevent severe injury to women, whereas the Idaho law only applies when it's imminent death. And we'll see if, you know, if the court rules on the side of the Biden administration, which is unlikely, it would kind of upend a lot of these anti-abortion laws in probably two dozen states. But that's unlikely.

SINGLETON: Just quickly, politically here, I think Republicans need to take a step back from this. And I agree with the former president, who's one of the very few conservatives saying we continue to lose on this issue time and time again. We have two years' worth of electoral data that showcases when the issue of abortion is top of line for most voters, not just women, but a whole lot of men as well. They're saying, we do not want the federal government utilizing compulsory force to make this decision for private individuals. And I agree with that. HAQ: Which former president version are you talking about? The one who said he wanted to prosecute women and that he was celebrating the death of Roe v. Wade.

SINGLETON: I'm talking about the former president who recognizes, this political suicide to continue to say that the federal government should make a decision on this.

HAQ: Meaning next week, he'll have something else to say. But Biden campaign is certainly taking advantage of this, as they should, given the swing votes and the need for both sides to connect with women voters, that they are running ads called prosecution, literally about the idea that Trump would want to prosecute women for health care decisions.

TAPPER: Speaking of prosecutions, we just saw Hunter Biden leaving court at the end of the first day of his trial on felony gun charges. First Lady Jill Biden was in attendance today for jury selection. I think it's her birthday also by the way. President Biden also released a statement of support for his son this morning. Politically, how do you think this shakes out for the Bidens?

HAQ: I don't think this is going to move voters one way or another, but I do think that Republicans will enjoy trying to make it seem that 34 counts of conviction for the former president somehow equals a current president's son also being in court.

TAPPER: Thanks -- go ahead quick.

SINGLETON: Certainly something that the President doesn't want to be asked while on the campaign trail. What about your son in this gun trial? Also, you have the California case coming up, Jake, with a tax evasion. That's not something light for the President to have to discuss.

TAPPER: Well, I think you probably agree he doesn't want to talk about it. So thanks one and all to our panel. I appreciate it. Politics intersecting with another law and justice lead, and that is the bribery trial of democratic senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey. Menendez officially filed to run for reelection to the Senate as an independent today. Menendez announced in March he would not run as a Democrat, but he left open the possibility of an independent run if he is acquitted. And he has not been acquitted. The trial is ongoing.

CNN's Jason Carroll is with us now. And Jason, the bribery case rolling on today/, a key witness back on the stand. Who is this witness? And what does he have to say?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the key witness that you're talking about, of course, is Ted McKinney. He's a former official with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. And what happened here, Jake, is McKinney over a period of time had raised a number of concerns about one of the co-defendants, Wael Hana, and his company. He felt as though that Hana's company basically had a monopoly in terms of its food exports to Egypt. And so again, he had raised these concerns over and over. And he told jurors that he remembered a specific conversation that he had with Senator Menendez. He said Senator Menendez called him on the phone and told him to, quote, stop interfering with all of this, saying to jurors, we had never seen or heard anything like this in my history in the agriculture industry and in the foreign agricultural services.

Now, of course, the defense is arguing here that there is no wrongdoing, that Senator Menendez did not accept any bribes from Hana or anyone else, that he was simply working on behalf of his constituents. At another point, during another conversation, for example, McKinney says that Senator Menendez told him, I care about New Jersey businesses and there's nothing wrong with that. But, of course, prosecutors say there is something wrong with what happened here. They said that he was accepting bribes. They said that his wife, Nadine Menendez, was also accepting bribes. And they were able to introduce a whole lot of evidence showing e-mails and text messages showing that she financially was in trouble, which could potentially go to motive here. And, of course, Nadine Menendez being tried separately, her trial scheduled for later in July.

TAPPER: And Jason Menendez did get one win from the judge in a ruling about some evidence involving his co-defendants. Tell us about that.

CARROLL: He did. He did. I mean, some of these text messages, potentially damaging text messages that the prosecutors wanted to introduce to evidence, such as one from one of the co-defendants saying that, hey, we're going to be getting our money's worth here out of Senator Menendez up there on the Hill. Well, Judge Sidney Stein ruled that some of those text messages dealing with the senator's actions on the Hill cannot be introduced into evidence.


Jurors will not be able to hear that because the judge ruled that some of these things are protected by the Constitution's speech or debate clause, which basically protects lawmakers from being legally liable for some of their actions up there on the hill. But again, they're not able to introduce some of those potentially damaging text messages. But they were able to introduce a whole host of text messages related to Nadine Menendez and her actions, as well. Jake?

TAPPER: Fascinating case. Jason Carroll, thanks so much for bringing us up to date.

Up next, that flagrant foul against WNBA's Caitlin Clark. Should the superstar athlete be taking the hit personally?



TAPPER: Our Sports Lead now, a rough foul sparking an intense debate over privilege and jealousy and race in the WNBA. Physicality is, of course, part of basketball, and star players expect to be targeted all the time. But it was this hit on Indiana Fevers rookie star Caitlin Clark in Saturday's game against the Chicago sky that's stirring a whole lot of conversation, let's say. The WNBA upgraded the common foul to a flagrant foul. Here to discuss is CNN sports analyst in USA Today, sports columnist Christine Brennan. Christine, look, all players, especially shooters such as Caitlin Clark, get fouled all the time. But that was a rough one.

And because it's her, because it's Caitlin Clark who gets a lot of media coverage, a lot of business deals, there's this narrative that a lot of veteran players in the NBA, WNBA, are jealous of her or angry about her stardom. How do you see it?

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST: Jake, you know, this doesn't help those who are saying that the players are not jealous or not angry. When you have Chennedy Carter doing that, obviously people are watching the WNBA as never before, new fans who are growing the game. It's exactly what the WNBA wants, and they see that. And then Carter didn't want to talk to the media afterwards and then went on social media and said, what does, you know, Caitlin Clark, all she does is shoot threes, when, in fact, of course, she's the meal ticket right now for everybody. And it helped get them charter flights. And frankly, is, I think, arguably the greatest or the best known athlete in the country right now, maybe most popular athlete in the country. And you're reducing her to that. It certainly brings all that up, right? It brings up the notion of jealousy or anger.

I think people are concerned. And as, you know, I've covered men's and women's sports, but women's sports for a long time. And there is that concern that we're kind of pigeonholing women's sports into the, you know, the girls are jealous of each other. Mean girls, whatever. I don't think that's the case here. I think, truly, it is a conversation, a national conversation that Caitlin Clark has taken us to, whether we wanted to go there or not. And it's not a bad conversation to have. And I truly believe that people are hopefully beyond the stereotype of women being mean to women, and we can just talk about this as athletes potentially being jealous of another superstar athlete.

TAPPER: Well, what do you make of those who say, and I'm not saying this is my interpretation, but it's part of the conversation out there that a lot of the league sees this white, straight woman coming in and being embraced by the United States of America, and maybe they're not white and maybe they're not straight, and they think, what the hell is this? And that is part of what's going on.

BRENNAN: Oh, I think it probably is. And you and I, talking as two white people, would be naive to try to presume otherwise, right? And I know you'd be the first to say that. I'd be the second. I have moderated a panel at the University of Maryland a couple of months ago, right as the tournament was starting, called the Caitlin Clark effect. And the third question I asked, and it would have been the second question, if I hadn't had a follow up to the first, was, if everything is the same about Caitlin Clark, everything, the way she shoots, everything except for her skin color, would it be different?

And on the panel, everyone agreed it would be different to varying degrees. I think that's important to discuss. Having said that, I do believe that the position that Caitlin Clark plays, obviously, the guard bringing the ball up the court, shooting those logo threes, she is the high wire act at the circus, she is the trapeze act. And grandmothers in the produce section, Jake, who don't know anything about the WNBA or the NBA or anything, they can relate to that position and to watch those thrilling moments, whereas someone like Angel Reese, who is obviously a great player herself, she's under the boards, she's under the basket, throwing her elbows around, getting position as she should be, and doing it very well with maybe four or five other players, much more difficult, visually to see. I do think that is also part of the conversation. That's obviously Caitlin Clark's appeal, especially because she's so good at those logo threes.

TAPPER: What do you make of the argument? Some folks say Caitlin Clark's teammates are not doing enough to support her when she gets knocked around. What do you make of the team's dynamic and chemistry?

BRENNAN:Yes, and that's the question of the enforcer. Right, Jake, the, you know, where was someone to come and give a hit right back to Chennedy Carter? Well, Aliyah Boston, the rookie of the year last year, who, she and Caitlin are working well together on a team that obviously has had a really tough start and a very, very difficult schedule. Aliyah Boston was the closest one to being there, but I think she had five fouls at that point. So if she had done and given an elbow to Carter, she probably would have been out of the game, and the fever won the game, so it made sense to have Boston in a close game. And I talked to Tamika Catchings for a "USA Today" column that's up right now.


And she's the hall of famer who played Indiana for 15 years. And what she told me is sometimes it takes a while for a team to get to know itself and to have someone emerge as an enforcer. And this team is so new. And these players, obviously, Caitlin Clark was playing college basketball two months ago, and so many of the young Indiana fever players don't know each other yet, and they've only had a couple practices because of the crazy schedule.

So I think what Tamika Catchings is saying, and I think she's as good as anyone to talk about it, is sometimes this takes time for a team to gel and for someone to come out and say, OK, enough is enough.

TAPPER: Quickly, if you could, because we're out of time. But there's also a narrative that, look, we're talking about this, you know, the trash talking, the physicality, flagrant foul, creates rivalries, brings in viewers. What about that?

BRENNAN: Exactly. For sure, as long as Caitlin Clark doesn't get injured in the process. I mean, she just was named the WNBA rookie of the month. She has really had a great start, fourth and assists, 18th in total points per game, and she's hitting those threes. She's made some mistakes, of course, but the last thing you want is to lose Caitlin Clark at this point. And I think that's why the league has jumped on this and made it clear that this was unacceptable.

TAPPER: I think it's exciting that we're talking about the WNBA. Christine Brennan, thanks so much. Appreciate it. The life twist for a formal federal prosecutor.

Up next, my conversation with him about his much more personal mission these days.



TAPPER: In our Health Lead, this week marks 80 years since Lou Gehrig's death from ALS. ALS stands for a amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. It's a fatal neurodegenerative disease. Approximately 5,000 people in the U.S. are diagnosed each year with ALS, according to the ALS association. My next two guests have built a movement to end ALS, and their movement is the subject of a brand new documentary. It's called "For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign."


DR. MERIT CUDKOWICZ, DIR. SEAN M. HEALEY & AMG CENTER FOR ALS CHIEF OF NEUROLOGY, MASS GENERAL HOSPITAL: I remember someone told me, you have to meet this guy. He's going to change the world. And he did.

SANDRA ABREVAYA, CO-EXECUTIVE PRODUCER, "FOR LOVE AND LIFE: NO ORDINARY CAMPAIGN": We found out Brian had ALS the day we came home from the hospital with our second daughter.

BRIAN WALLACH, CO-FOUNDER OF I AM ALS: I had gone to a neurologist for what I thought was a standard checkup. The doctor said, on average, people live six months after they're diagnosed. Every doctor we saw said the same thing. I'm sorry, but we can't help you.

CHRISTA THOMPSON, HUSBAND DIAGNOSED WITH ALS: The system is broken for this disease.


TAPPER: I recently sat down with this couple, this amazing couple, to talk about their journey with ALS and their inspiring mission to bring hope to those who struggle with this disease.


WALLACH: Being diagnosed with ALS today is a death sentence. There is no cure. I will not see my daughters grow up. I'm here to ask you, to see us, to hear us, and to fully fund our fight against ALS.

TAPPER (voice-over): Brian Wallach on the diagnosis that transformed his life story. Nearly seven years ago, doctors told Wallach he had ALS and said he had six months to live. At the time, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in Chicago with a wife and two kids.

WALLACH: You have to either choose to curl up into a ball or act.

TAPPER (voice-over): Wallach told his wife, Sandra Abrevaya, who he met working on the Obama campaign, that he wanted to fight the progression, but also he wanted her to help him create a nonprofit, applying what they knew about the levers of power in Washington to help everyone with ALS. That fight is now the subject of the new documentary "For Love & Life: No Ordinary Campaign."

ABREVAYA: This is our closing argument for our lives.

TAPPER: How did the idea for the documentary come about?

ABREVAYA: I was a bit unwilling at first, but ultimately he convinced me. He made the case that it would be really meaningful to open up our lives, to tell our own story and through that storytelling, to have a real impact on the disease.

TAPPER (voice-over): Through their nonprofit, I AM ALS, Brian and Sandra are having an impact, acknowledged by President Biden in late 2021 when he signed the Act for ALS Act to fund research for ALS treatments and prevention.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: To Brian and Sandra, thank you, thank you, thank you.

TAPPER (voice-over): Still, the disease has taken a great deal from Brian Wallach. Since his diagnosis, he is no longer able to walk or move his fingers. Sarah helps him speak.

TAPPER: It's been quite a journey since 2017. How are you doing?

WALLACH: I am good.

ABREVAYA: I am good.

WALLACH: I am still alive.

ABREVAYA: I am still alive. So I have beaten the odds on that one. But I would be lying if I said that there were not hard days. And on those hard days, I lean on Sandra. I mean, I'm leaning on Brian most of the days.

TAPPER: Your goal is to turn ALS from a fatal into a chronic disease, making it something that can be lived with. Is that a realistic goal? Can that happen? Will that happen?

ABREVAYA: I do think it's realistic. For the first time --

WALLACH: We have treatments.

ABREVAYA: We have treatments. So we see the light at the end of the tunnel.

TAPPER (voice-over): The film is about the couple's struggle, but also shows how that struggle has strengthened their bond.

TAPPER: How has this changed your relationship?

ABREVAYA: It's a really hard journey, but we are as close as two people can be. It's an unbelievable journey to be on, but, man, we're really lucky to have each other. (END VIDEOTAPE)


TAPPER: And our thanks to Brian Wallach and Sandra Abrevaya for sharing their story. Their new documentary is on Amazon Prime. Do not miss it.

Coming up, trash, balloons, and an erupting volcano in the United States, last leads are here.


TAPPER: Our last leads now, North Korea says it will stop sending trash balloons to South Korea for now. Over the past week, hundreds of these airborne waste deliveries crossed into South Korea carrying things such as dirt or paper or cigarette butts. According to North Korean state media, the move was to retaliate against South Korean activists who often send packages across the border not containing trash, though.


New video shows Hawaii's Kilauea Volcano which started erupting earlier today. The U.S. Geological Survey says there is no lava threat to nearby communities, but some areas could see elevated gases in the air and the volcanic ash could be a risk for airplanes. Scientists say there's no way to know how long the eruption will last.

The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow.