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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden, World Leaders Honor D-Day's Heroes On 80th Anniversary; Gaza Officials: Dozens Killed In Israel Strike On School; Steve Bannon Ordered To Report To Prison By July 1; President Biden Says He Won't Pardon Hunter If Found Guilty; Gold Star Families Fight To Restore Program To Honor American Servicemen Who Died On Beaches Of Normandy. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 06, 2024 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Biden's message at Normandy today: freedom isn't free and democracy is not guaranteed.

THE LEAD starts right now.

World leaders take the stage marking 80 years to the day since D-Day. But it is the current conflicts that are top of mind, Ukraine's war with Russia, Israel's war with Hamas, both entering new territory today. One of President Biden's top advisers, Admiral John Kirby we will join us from France.

Plus, Steve Bannon ordered to report to prison by July 1st. But Donald Trump's former chief strategist thinks he can fight this with time on the clock for an appeal.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: All victory to MAGA. We're going to win this. We're going to win at the Supreme Court. And more importantly, we're going to win on November 5th.


TAPPER: Speaking of Election Day, now, less than five months out, is the entire Republican Party ready to fall in line behind Donald Trump? I'll ask Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin, who will be here on THE LEAD.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

Today, world leaders, kings and queens, and some of our nation's most deserving heroes are in France, marking a day that changed the course of history for the better. It was 80 years ago today when more than 150,000 allied troops from the United States, United Kingdom, France, Australia, and Canada stormed the beaches of Normandy for Monday and parachuted behind enemy lines and invasion coordinated across air, land, and sea, Operation Overlord. Their actions that day, and the days and months after led the

foundation for the Allies defeat of Nazi Germany in World War II, and make no mistake, without the courage and sacrifice of those brave service members, this world would today be unimaginably worse.

President Biden spent the day in Normandy where he delivered a speech focused on the importance of alliances, drawing direct comparisons between Nazi Germany and the threats facing Western democracies today.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We know the dark forces that these heroes fought against 80 years ago. They never fade. Aggression and greed, the desire to dominate and control, to change borders by force -- these are perennial. The struggle between a dictatorship and freedom is unending.


TAPPER: Now, before his speech, President Biden spent the morning meeting with U.S. veterans, including 101-year-old Jake Larson. You see him there in that picture?

Maybe you saw Larson on our D-Day special on Sunday. Maybe, you know, him from TikTok, just follow @StoryTimewithPapaJake. Larson stormed the beaches on D-Day and he returned today to honor the friends he lost.


JAKE LARSON, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: I don't think I was a hero. I was just like anybody else. We were all in this together. Every one of us were worst prepared to give our life to kick Hitler's ass out of Europe.


LARSON: Oh, God, yes. I'd come back again just to honor all those that gave their life so that I could be here.


TAPPER: CNN's Kayla Tausche starts off our coverage from Normandy, France, with more on President Biden's message to the world and his challenge to younger generations on this historic day.


KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Back at the battlefront where they braved at all, a heroes welcome for the Americans who lived through the battle of Normandy.

BIDEN: In memory of those who fought here, died here literally save the world here. TAUSCHE: President Biden honoring the service and the sacrifice of the last living D-Day veterans. The hundreds of thousands who served alongside them, and the 9,388 who never came home.

BIDEN: They knew beyond any doubt there are things that are worth fighting and dying for. Freedom is worth it. Democracy is worth it. America is worth. The world is worth it, then, now and always.

TAUSCHE: Western leaders marking 80 years since their turning point in World War II, that brought an end to occupied Europe.

Now, with Ukraine's president looking on, warning Europe could easily be occupied again, this time by Vladimir Putin -- a notable shift from just ten years ago with Putin joining to mark the 70th anniversary.


BIDEN: We will not walk away because if we do, Ukraine will be subjugated and will not end there. Ukraine's neighbors will be threatened. All of Europe will be threatened. To surrender to bullies, to bow down to dictators is simply unthinkable.

TAUSCHE: Biden is set to meet with European and NATO leaders. With alliances resting on upcoming elections, Biden laying out a choice for the future on both sides of the Atlantic.

BIDEN: Isolationism was not the answer 80 years ago and there's not the answer today.

TAUSCHE: And passing the torch from the greatest generation to the next generation.

BIDEN: Let us be the generation that when history is written about our time in 10, 20, 30, 50, 80 years from now, it'll be said, when the moment came, we met the moment. We stood strong. Our alliances made stronger. We save democracy in our time as well.

TAUSCHE: Kayla Tausche, CNN, Normandy.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Kayla Tausche for that report.

Turning now to another major story in our world lead. Utter devastation at a school in central Gaza run by the United Nations. Hospital workers in Gaza say at least 40 people were killed by an Israeli airstrike in the building where thousands were sheltering.

As CNN's Jeremy Diamond reports, Israel says it was targeting 20 to 30 Hamas terrorists who were embedded with the civilians, taking shelter inside the school. We must warn our viewers the following report contains some disturbing video.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPODENT (voice-over): Mohammed Farajallah (ph) is still picking through the rubble of the airstrike that killed his brother and alongside the blood spattered walls, he's still finding pieces of flesh. He believes they are his brother's.

May his soul rest in peace, he says. I wish I died instead. There is no hope in this life at all.

Mahmoud is the second brother Mohammed has lost during the war. His third brother is in the hospital in critical condition. His skull fractured in the blast.

Mohammed is not the only ones sifting through the rubble. The Gaza health ministry says at least 40 people were killed when the Israeli military struck this building overnight.

But this is no ordinary building. It's a U.N. school converted like so many others into a shelter for thousands of Palestinians displaced from their homes.

The Israeli military says it carried out a precision and intelligence based strike, targeting 20 to 30 Palestinian militants who it says were sheltering in the school and preparing attacks on Israeli troops.

And Israeli military spokesman said the IDF was unaware of any civilian casualties.

Hospital records tell a different story. Nine women and 14 children as young as 4 years old are among the dead delivered to Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.

Those who survived also accused Israel of targeting civilians.

Netanyahu is killing the civilians. He is not killing militants, Shadar Abu Daher (ph) says. It's innocent people asleep in an UNRWA facility. What did children and the elderly do? What did they do to him?

The school is one of at least 180 UNRWA buildings to be hit since the beginning of the war, according to that U.N. agency, attacking, targeting or using U.N. buildings for military purposes are a blatant disregard of international humanitarian law, wrote UNRWA chief Philippe Lazzarini.

But the devastation goes beyond U.N. facilities. Scenes like this have been playing out all week in central Gaza, a clear uptake in Israeli airstrikes. Bloodied and covered in soot, survivors and victims alike have been arriving at Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital at a rising clip.

As one wounded child cries for her mother, another arrives at the morgue to say goodbye to his. Mama is going to visit grandpa, this father tells his son, don't cry. You're a man, he says, but he is the one who breaks down.


DIAMOND (on camera): And, Jake, using footage filmed at the scene by our journalists in Gaza, Mohammed Al-Sawal (ph), we were able to identify and speaking with munitions experts the type of munition that was used in these strikes. And once again, Jake, just like that strike in Rafah a couple of weeks ago, this was a U.S. made GBU-39 small diameter bomb.

This is a bomb that is intended to carry a smaller payload, intended to minimize civilian casualties. But, of course, when it is dropped in a densely populated area, such as a makeshift shelter for displaced people, we've obviously seen once again that there are indeed heavy civilian casualties.


And we know, of course, that the suffering in Gaza is continuing, heightened airstrikes in Central Gaza this week. The question now is what can end the suffering? And the only way to end the suffering and seems would be for Hamas to accept this Israeli proposal that is on the table to reach a ceasefire and hostage deal. For now, though, that seems very uncertain.

The Qatari foreign ministry spokesman actually just said that as of now, they have yet to receive an official response from Hamas -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jeremy Diamond, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss from Paris, retired rear Admiral John Kirby, the White House national security communications adviser.

Admiral Kirby, good to see you.

We'll get to this situation in Gaza in a moment, but you are in France to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day. As a veteran what does it mean to you to participate in these events, to meet these heroes whose numbers are sadly dwindling, and to honor the service members who, who, who literally gave their lives for freedom and democracy.

JOHN KIRBY, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER: I tell you, Jake, I got thick in the throat today. I had never had the opportunity to go to one of those anniversaries at Normandy, and this was my first time. Not my first time to the cemetery, but first time for an anniversary and seeing those veterans talking to them.

I sat down before the ceremony. I had a chance to sit down at a table with four or five of them and just listening to them talk about what they did and how much they miss their friends, their comrades who didn't make it at home. What it meant to them to be there and to know that the world was recognizing their bravery. It was really inspiring.

I got to tell you when, when President Macron was awarding those eight vets with the Legion of Honor, that was a very emotional moment for everybody there, including President Biden.

TAPPER: I want to play a part of President Biden's speech today. That spoke to his overarching message. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BIDEN: The fact that they were heroes here that day does not absolve us from what we have to do today. Democracy is never guaranteed. Every generation must preserve it, defend it, and fight for it.


TAPPER: Was he saying that about Ukraine fighting for democracy or was he saying in about the United States?

KIRBY: Both, yes, to both. Certainly, as you saw, he also addressed Ukraine very specifically in the speech because here in Europe, that is where democracy is most at risk right now. That is where literally men and women are dying to defend their democracy in Ukraine.

So, certainly, he was talking about Ukraine, but the message was bigger than that. Democracy is under threat all around the world. And the presidents main point was, we need to prove worthy of the sacrifice of the men of D-Day that started the end of World War II, began there on the beaches of Normandy and they bequeath the world, something they get an even realize they worth a moment, bequeath the world, a new order in the world where democracy had a chance to thrive and flourish, and where people's aspirations had an opportunity to be met and achieved.

And he doesn't want us to squander that tremendous opportunity that the greatest generation gave us.

TAPPER: As you mentioned, President Biden directly tied the D-Day invasion to the fight for freedom in Ukraine, the U.S. has just changed its policy allowing the Ukrainians to use American weapons on attacks inside Russia.

Now, President Biden said Ukraine won't use the weapons to talk to target Moscow, or to target the Kremlin. Is there any other guidance beyond that?

KIRBY: This is a really common sense guidance that the president has now given to Ukraine. When they are under imminent threat, and it's just across the border, and they know they're going to get hit, they should be allowed to hit back in that kind of scenario.

Now, right now, Jake, while you were talking, the only place without really applies with the geography is up north of Kharkiv where the Russians had until very recently, tried to pressure that city, seemed to look like they're kind of backing off right now. There's no other place really in Ukraine geographically where that's likely to happen because we were the other places where the Russians are, are actually inside Ukraine, in the Donbass and in Crimea.

So, right now, it mostly applies to Kharkiv, but not because we put some geographic boundaries on it, but just because of the guidance itself going after an imminent threat that's just across the border.

TAPPER: Now, the government of Cuba said today that a group of Russian naval vessels, including nuclear powered submarine, are going to visit Cuba in the coming days. Do you see that as some sort of retaliation for this move? Does it

concern you? What's your reaction?

KIRBY: Well, we're going to watch it closely, of course, like we do all Russian naval exercises in the Caribbean. This isn't the first time they've done this. They've done it several years past almost every couple of years or so they do this.

So we'll watch it closely, but we're not anticipating any significant national security threat as a result of these exercises.


And I have to say, largely, although this is not a typical for them and they are prescheduled, it very much, we believe is messaging by the Russians are clearly unhappy now that we've got the supplemental funding and we are supplying Ukraine with weapons.

We have five packages in just the last month of weapons. We think some of this is also posturing and saber rattling by the Russians. We'll watch it closely, but no, but no anticipated threat to our national security as a result of it.

TAPPER: Let's talk about Gaza now because officials in Gaza say at least 40 people were killed overnight by an Israeli airstrike on a school run by the United Nations in central Gaza. Israel says -- the IDF say they were targeting a Hamas compound with about 20 to 30 Hamas terrorists inside the school, embedding with the civilians there, the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugee says it was being used to house displaced civilians.

And a CNN analysis found that U.S. made munitions were used in this strike.

Does the U.S. does the Biden administration have any independent confirmation that Israel was targeting and took out Hamas terrorist here?

KIRBY: Well, the IDF has communicated to us that that is in fact what they were doing. We are asking for more information, more context. I mean, it just happened today.

So we don't have independent verification of what exactly occurred and what exactly they were going after. But we are talking to the Israelis as you might they expect, we would to try to get a better understanding of what happened here.

Look, I mean, they absolutely have a right to go after Hamas and we know Hamas shelters in civilian facilities and digs tunnels under houses and that kind of thing. But how they do that matters and we obviously don't want to see any civilian casualties whatsoever.

So, all of this is fresh and new. And we're trying to get as much information from the Israelis as we can.

TAPPER: I mean, the reality here is that U.S. weapons were allegedly just used to kill innocent people in Gaza. That might not have been or was not the intention according to the IDF. They're going after Hamas.

But Hamas -- this is their strategy. They hide amongst civilians, they use civilians as shields and those shields don't necessarily work. I mean, the IDF is saying we're going to go after you, either way.

So what is the position of the White House here, given the fact that Hamas does embed within civilian populations, does Israel just have a carte blanche to do what they need to do to kill Hamas and its just a tragedy, but that's how it is when it comes to the civilians?

KIRBY: No. Look, I mean, even from early on in the conflict and we've been very clear with our Israeli counterparts how they do this matters. And look, we understand you're description of what Hamas does is exactly right, Jake, and it underscores the challenge of doing military operation -- military operations in a population center. It's one of the reasons why we absolutely made clear to Israel is we don't want them to smash into Rafah in a major ground offensive because all of this underscores the challenge.

The strike a couple of weeks ago on a Hamas compound that allegedly started a fire in a tent compound nearby and also burn to death. Some civilians also a tragic reminder of how dangerous this is when you're in a populated center like that.

So we want to learn more about this clearly, and we'll ask the tough of questions as we always do. But we also want to make sure that Israel does have what it needs to defend itself against his still viable threat by Hamas.

And Hamas is deliberately making it that much more difficult. That's part of their strategy. You have no interest in the safety and security of the Palestinian people.

Mr. Sinwar started this war. Well, Mr. Sinwar can end this war what he needs to do is accept the ceasefire proposal that is on the table right now. And that has been transmitted to him by Qatari and Qatari officials.

TAPPER: But if Hamas is, as you describe, and they do not care what happens to their civilians, why would he ever agree to a ceasefire proposal? Why would he ever -- Yahya Sinwar agree to anything?

I mean, Israel is I think its fair to say becoming increasingly isolated in the world, even if the United States and Europe is not abandoning them, other countries are, and some in Europe are -- and if they don't care, Yahya Sinwar, and the leaders of Hamas, and they look and they see what's going on in college campuses today, what incentive -- what incentive do they have to ever come up with any ceasefire deal?

KIRBY: Well, one thing he does care about is his own capabilities and the Israelis are to a fare thee well, degrading Hamas military capabilities to the point where as you've heard, the president say, in a "Time" magazine interview that we don't believe that they can conduct another for 7 October attack again. And he cares about that.

And he also says -- at least Hamas leaders say, that they care about a ceasefire. They want to see an end to the conflict.


Well, this is the way to do it. This proposal will be in phases. Phase one, we'll get us a six-week ceasefire. We moved to phase two. That gets us a permanent cessation of hostilities.

So if Mr. Sin -- those are the things that Mr. Sinwar and Hamas has said they care about. If that's true, they need to take this deal that's on the table because he Israelis came to the table in really good faith. I mean, they continue to really try to get this done. Now it's time for Hamas.

TAPPER: Retired Rear Admiral John Kirby coming to us from France, thank you so much, sir. Appreciate it.

KIRBY: Yes, sir.

Coming up next, Steve Bannon's fighting chance to avoid spending time behind bars even though a judge ordered him to report to prison by July 1.

Plus, a treasured program for Gold Star families who lost service members at Normandy shut down. Some high-profile names are trying to come to their rescue.

But first, stories of war as we go to break today. Here's D-Day veteran Tolley Fletcher on what he witnessed on June 6, 1944.


TOLLEY FLETCHER, D-DAY VETERAN: While we were walking, we came to a place where apparently they collected the bodies and that was quite a few of them there, and some of them look like probably a tank had run over them and stuff like that. That gets your attention, too.




TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, Steve Bannon has just been ordered to report to prison by July 1st. Bannon, a one-time Trump White House adviser and a major voice in the MAGA movement, has been fighting a contempt of Congress conviction for refusing to cooperate in any way with the January 6 Select House Committee.

And if today is any indication -- well, Mr. Bannon is not going away quietly.


BANNON: There's not a prison built, or a jail built that will ever shut me up. All victory to MAGA. We're going to win this. We're going to win it at the Supreme Court. And more importantly, we're going to win on November 5th in amazing landslide with the Senate, the House, and also Donald J. Trump back as president of the United States. Thank you very much.


TAPPER: Thank you very much, Sara Murray. You're here right now. You're at the federal courthouse for this afternoon's fireworks.

Was today's order expected?

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: You now, Judge Carl Nichols loves to rule from the batch. So in some ways, he keeps us on our toes that way.

But Bannon's team definitely was not expecting this decision from the judge. They really expected that the judge would put this off, would let team Bannon continue to appeal to the broader appeals court, to the Supreme Court and was not going to order him to prison today, the way that the judge did.

And look, in many ways, this is a long time coming. A jury found Steve Bannon guilty of contempt of Congress in July of 2022, for two counts of contempt of Congress, refusing to provide testimony, refusing to provide documents to the House committee that investigated January 6. He was sentenced in 2022 to four months behind bars and Carl Nichols, the judge, put that on hold, so Bannon could appeal.

In court today, the judge said, look, your appeal was wholeheartedly rejected by the appeals court. They didn't find any merit in your legal arguments, so I'm going to go ahead and put this into effect.

TAPPER: What else did Mr. Bannon have to say about today's turn of events? Because he, you know, he's a chatty guy. He's a chatty guy. I'm sure he had more to say than just that clip.

MURRAY: He is a chatty guy. He was very happy to chat on the way out of court, despite again, having been told he needs to report to prison by July 1st, he basically turned this into an attack, not just on Bannon but, of course, on Donald Trump and the whole MAGA movement. Take listen.


BANNON: I've got great lawyers and we're going to go all the way to Supreme Court if we have to. This about shutting down the MAGA movement, shutting down grassroots conservatives, shutting down President Trump. Not only are we winning, we are going to prevail and every number and every poll shows that.

There's nothing that can shut me up and nothing that will shut me up.


MURRAY: So I think this is the kind of rhetoric we would expect to see from Steve Bannon. You know, he does have some ways to try to stay out of jail for the next couple of weeks. They can make this emergency plea to the appeals court. They can make an emergency plea to the Supreme Court, but, again, it's a pretty tight window between now and when the judge said he needs to report to prison.

TAPPER: And Donald Trump just reacted to the news.

MURRAY: Yes. He's coming out in defense of Steve Bannon. He called it a tragedy. He went on to say, indict the unselect J6 committee for illegally deleting and destroying all of their, quote, findings MAGA2024.

TAPPER: I don't think that's accurate.

MURRAY: No, no, it is not accurate.

TAPPER: OK. All right. Sara Murray, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Another Trump ally also tried to take his contempt case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but he's now in prison. Is Bannon's case any different? We'll talk with an attorney, next.

Plus, today marks one full week that Donald Trump has been a convicted felon and he apparently still has a gun. He has not handed over. Is that about to become another fight, another to-do?

We're going to talk about that also with one of his former attorneys.



TAPPER: More now in our law and justice lead with a federal judge ordering former Trump adviser Steve Bannon to report to prison by July 1st.

With us now former Trump attorney, Jim Trusty.

So you just heard, Jim, Sara Murray report that a judge has ordered Bannon to report to prison by July 1st for a four-month prison sentence. What's your reaction in general?

JIM TRUSTY, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I mean, not surprised. I heard her say that the defense team was surprised. Maybe they were, maybe they weren't, maybe they at least said they were surprised.

But -- but, look, there's a lot of statutory and case law overlap that basically talks about staying a sentence and keep being a person out of jail while they are pending appeal. It's very uphill and you have to basically convince the sentencing judge that there's a serious error that they're likely to win on appeal.

The D.C. Court of Appeals just shut that down. The history of these contempt cases with the Supreme Courts not particularly favorable for Bannon either. So that all kind of conspires to make it a pretty easy legal ruling that it's not going to have to -- not going to be able to stay out anymore. TAPPER: Yeah. Let's talk about that because there is an obvious

immediate precedent. Peter Navarro, another former Trump White House aide, who also was sentenced to prison for contempt of Congress, tried to appeal, appealed it all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice -- Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts, shot it down. He's in prison right now.

Given that and the fact that Navarro was actually a presidential aide as opposed to Bannon, so he had more of an argument, I guess in terms of executive privilege -- is there really any path for Bannon here?

TRUSTY: Well, there is, but I wouldn't say it's a great path. You know, obviously, filing a petition for certiorari, trying to get the Supreme Court interested is a far cry from having them except the case and deal with it on the merits. It's even harder when you're talking about a stay.

So if there's a hope of an emergency motion to the Supreme Court, which there may well be that it's going to actually undo this ruling today. I think that's unlikely. You might get to the merits in the Supreme Court eventually.


There's some weird little issues about executive privilege in terms of who -- how you actually know that you're supposed to use it. It's supposed to invoke that privilege. So, a lot of kind of nuance stuff there, but I just don't think that this is the case. It's going to make it. I think it's going to probably die out with the court of appeals.

TAPPER: Let's talk about something having to do with former President Donald Trump.

New York police are trying to revoke Donald Trump's gun license now that he's convicted felon. He's forfeited to weapons already I think when he was indicted, he did that. There's a third listed on his gun license that was lawfully taken to Florida where he lives. If he still has that third gun, he could theoretically be violating laws in Florida and New York, and not to mention federal law.

I mean, I know he has a sympathetic ear in the governor of Florida. But is this -- is this a concern as a former attorney for Mr. Trump?

TRUSTY: I think you'd have to talk to him a little bit about whether it's time to play put it in trust or give it away, or sell it. But this is -- a couple of things. One is this is probably the most efficient moment of New York licensing in the history of licensing. Like I mean, its kind of like they're just getting around to Capone, but now they've got Trump saying --

TAPPER: The government can pretty efficient when it wants to be.

TRUSTY: Well, I think that's this case.

The other thing, I mean, honestly, when I read the story of my first thought that was, you know, when you're on the highway and there's a wide load tractor in front of you with a prefab house, I can see Trump tower leaving New York at this point. Like he's kind of just realized it's so incredibly hostile in Manhattan that they're, of course, they're going to be efficient on this thing.

So at the end of the day, I don't know that president Trump is known for packing heat too often but I would say the safest route in the long run is don't give a creative prosecutor any sort of avenue, right? To say that he's possessing a firearm as a felon.

TAPPER: You worked on Donald Trump's classified documents case. You don't -- you don't anymore. Now, Judge Cannon is once again ripping up the court schedule for the case in Florida, saying she's going to hold a hearing on the legitimacy of Jack Smith as special counsel. She's going to allow outside groups not just the plaintiff and the prosecutor, and not -- I'm sorry, the defendant and the prosecutor. She's going to allow partisans from outside the case to join the argument.

Is that normal?

TRUSTY: What we call partisans an amicus briefs, right?

TAPPER: Right.

TRUSTY: But look, I think this is there's a lot of people that are already kind of preemptively throwing stones at her saying she's overmatched. She doesn't know what she's doing.

The reality is, she's doing stuff that's actually pretty typical to federal practice for a non-incarcerated defendant. And the fact that she's having hearings instead of ruling on the papers should be something that went -- whoever the person is, but particularly a presidential candidate, we should -- we should welcome that. We should say, let's air it all out. Let's have the public and the attorneys, they're airing it out.

The only thing that's unusual about all the stuff that I've heard is, in fact, having amicus brief. Participants do argument as opposed to just submitting the briefs. That could -- you could read the tea leaves and think that might show that she's kind of struck by the amicus filing by former Attorney General Ed Meese and some folks with him that really question the whole constitutionality of the special prosecutor statute.

TAPPER: Meese reference, if you're playing Ed Meese drinking game at home, drink.

Jim Trusty, thanks so much. Always good to see you.

He opposed special counsels that's the reference.

Just in, new surveillance video shown in the Hunter Biden trial today shows Hallie Biden, widow of Beau Biden, who then had a romantic relationship with Hunter after her husband died. Prosecutors say she is seeing in throwing away the gun at the center of the case. Her testimony on the stand today, that's next.



TAPPER: Also in our law and justice lead today, President Biden said earlier that he will not pardon his son Hunter Biden if Hunter is found guilty of criminal gun charges.

In court, jurors heard testimony from a crucial witness for the prosecution today, Hallie Biden. Hallie Biden is the widow of Hunter Biden's brother, Beau Biden, with whom Hunter began an extramarital relationship after Beau's death. Hallie Biden described finding disposing of the gun at the center of the case and how Hunter Biden introduced her to crack cocaine.

CNN's Paula Reid is live outside the court in Wilmington, Delaware.

Paula, how does Hallie Biden's testimony help the prosecution's case?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Certainly, their biggest witness so far, Jake, because she could testify about what she observed about Hunter in October 2018, specifically between the 12th when he purchased the gun and the 23rd when it was discarded. And she testified that she did believe that he was using drugs around October 22, and that's around the time that she found the gun and the trunk of his car, as she testified that she also found drugs -- and drug paraphernalia in the car with a gun.

Now, it's interesting. On cross-examination, she actually testified that she couldn't really remember where she saw the drug paraphernalia. She said it was more of a drug residue, but most importantly for the defense, she testified that she never witnessed Hunter doing drugs or even drinking wine.

Now, I was in the court for this testimony, Jake, and I can tell you the jurors were very attentive throughout her entire appearance on the stage. Now, look, they were cognizant of the fact that they were once in-laws, then they were romantic partners, he introduced Hallie Biden to crack cocaine, so its very salacious story.

But she is also the most significant witness the prosecution has put on so far.

TAPPER: And, Paula, what did she say about the gun?

REID: So she told the story, discovering the gun. She said it was the first time she had seen a gun up close and she just panicked. She said that she wanted to get rid of it. She didn't want Hunter to hurt himself. She didn't want the kids to get hurt.

And so she put it in a pouch, drove through a grocery store and tossed it in a dumpster. Now, the jury, today saw surveillance footage of her pulling up and tossing it into the dumpster where it was eventually recovered by an individual who police were able to track down.


Now she testified in hindsight that was not a very good idea, a stupid idea is what she called it.

TAPPER: We're also seeing for the first time some of the key exhibits that the prosecution showed the jury yesterday, including some pretty scandalous, shall we call them photographs of Hunter Biden.

REID: Yeah. And remember, while these were being shown again, I was in court yesterday when this happened, while these photos were being shown the first lady, Dr. Jill Biden, was in court yesterday as he was these were being projected on a screen. She did not look at them. She continued to look directly at an ex-girlfriend who was testifying, but they include hotel stays, photos of these hotel stays where you can see drugs all on the counter and a bathroom on a table.

There's also one where he has this sweatshirt that says addicted and appears to have a marijuana leaf on it, lots of selfies. And then also this photo in the bathtub with his then girlfriend. You can see he has a crack pipe and her foot is there.

But again, this would be embarrassing for anyone, but then he also had his stepmother and all these other family members extended family members, and friends in the courtroom who are supporting him. But as I said, the first lady she just looked straight ahead, didn't look at any of these images.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

For decades, Gold Star families could use a special government program to connect with service members family members that they lost at Normandy 80 years ago. But now, that government program is gone. Why?

The new push to bring that program back and the big names trying to help.

Stay with us.




"PAPA" JAKE LARSON, D-DAY VETERAN: I'm laying there, and I reach for my pocket and I pull out a package of cigarettes, and I sensed someone to my left. So I said, hey, buddy, have you got a match? I got no answer. So I turned and there was a helmet, then there was no head on the body.


TAPPER: "Papa" Jake Larson talking to us for the D-Day documentary we did the other day. Yet another story from yet another American veteran who survived that hideous, horrible crucial day in history, June 6, 1944, D-Day, when Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy and parachuted behind enemy lines, 2,500 U.S. forces did not survive that day alone, more than 400,000 us service members did not survive World War II.

Gold Star families left behind have spent their own lives trying to honor those fallen service members, those fallen loved ones, buried an ocean away, husbands and fathers and brothers.

So imagine that disappointment when during the Obama years, a federal agency in charge of those cemeteries took away a cherished connection they had to their fallen loved ones.


TAPPER (voice-over): Graves fill the land, stones mark the graves, and memories float all around the cemeteries of Normandy where a handful of beach sand reveals a name.

Corporal Frank Elliott just another fallen soldier to some, but the world to Rondy Elliott, only 1-year-old when her father Corporal Frank Elliott was killed.

RONDY ELLIOTT, GOLD STAR DAUGHTER: This one, this is a picture of my father and me, the only picture I have, of us together.

TAPPER: Eighty years later, that photo and a handful of letters between her father and mother are the only artifacts she has to remember him by.

ELLIOTT: I started to read them and they were fantastic. They were so beautiful and that's when I first felt like I knew my dad.

TAPPER: For years, Rondi Elliott was able to call on the American Battle Monuments Commission to place flowers that she paid for on her father's grave at Normandy.

ELLIOTT: People walk into the cemeteries, they see these flowers and they know that there's somebody at home who still cares.

And it worked beautifully for 60 plus years. It was almost seamless. You know, we contacted the ABMC, filled out a form, sent them the money, and then they took it from there.

TAPPER: But nine years ago, the ABMC shut down the flower fund, encouraging families to instead go directly to florists overseas.

ELLIOTT: If you contact the florist by phone, there's definitely language barrier because most people in those countries don't speak English very well. The other than deal still take a picture and send it to us. But the price is higher.

TAPPER: For nearly a decade, Rondy Elliott and other gold star children, the children of these men, had been on a mission of their own to get that flowers program back up and running. They now have some high-profile help.

GEN. JOHN KELLY, U.S. MARINE CORPS. (RET.): I think, you know, it's minimal cost to the government minimal work for the government. I suppose who some administrative costs and the battle monuments, but I can't imagine very much, even if it was a lot of pain, they did give their lives for the country. I mean, it's the least we can do, it would seem to me.

But it just doesn't seem to me that it's much work. And even if it was a lot of work -- I mean, just consider the sacrifice. That was a lot of work, too.

TAPPER: There's also a bill in Congress with support from both parties to restart the flower program.


All Rondy Elliott's parents had were letters to bridge the ocean between them, but for Rondy Elliott, all she has is flowers.

ELLIOTT: People who have family members overseas in foreign cemeteries, we cannot go there easily. I've only been twice to visit my father's grave and many people in my situation can't go at all because they can't afford it. And these men bought us our freedom and we feel like they should be honored and we paid for that freedom, too. We paid for it by living a lifetime without our fathers and our mothers paid for it by living in a lifetime without their husbands.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Rondy Elliott. We reached out to the ABMC, the American Battle Monuments Commission for a comment on the record as to why they would end this service for Gold Star families. They would not give us one, but maybe you'll have better luck.

Here's the email That's Maybe they'll tell you why they ended this service for Gold Star families.

In just minutes, Donald Trump will headline his first major events since last week's criminal conviction beyond MAGA world. How much support does he still have within the larger Republican Party? I'll ask a member in good standing. Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin joins us next.