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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Makes Case For Democracy In Normandy Speech; Trump Again Suggests He May Try To Prosecute Political Opponents If He's Re- Elected In November; Hunter Biden's Gun Trial Unexpectedly Adjourns For The Day; New York Dems Fight Among Themselves. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 07, 2024 - 16:00   ET



RUDY LOPEZ, UMPIRE, CALIFORNIA BASEBALL UMPIRES ASSOCIATION: And I'm just really grateful, like I said, and I'll say it over and over again. Thank you doesn't say enough and I told her that. It doesn't say enough.

CAMILA BERNAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Camila Bernal, CNN, Los Angeles.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Thank you doesn't say enough. Well, she is incredible.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Really is. Ad that is tough and she was just in the right place at the right time. He is so lucky and she's so amazing.

SANCHEZ: Thanks so much for joining us this afternoon. It'll be sad to say goodbye to Pat Sajak, but you can say hello to Jake Tapper because THE LEAD starts right now.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN HOST: The themes of the 2024 race today, democracy and revenge.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Starkly different messages from two starkly different men. President Biden's warning about democracy on the world stage, while Donald Trump to gain much more personal approach.

Plus, a dramatic turn in the Hunter Biden gun trial. The defense scrapping its witness list on some level, leaving one major question about the case yet to be answered.

And the judge presiding over one of the most consequential cases in America described as isolated and inexperienced. What Judge Aileen Cannon is really up against as she takes on the criminal classified documents case against Donald Trump? (MUSIC)

MATTINGLY: And welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Phil Mattingly, in for Jake Tapper. It's Friday.

We start with our world lead. And President Biden today drawing on the legacy of World War II heroes. He calls for Americans to protect democracy. The president returned to Normandy, France, and visited Pointe du Hoc, where U.S. Army Rangers scaled 100 foot cliffs to attack Nazi positions on D-Day.

During his speech, President Biden suggested those veterans would want their country to defend democracies all around the world and at home.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Democracy began to each of us, began when one person decides to something more important themselves when they decide the person they're serving alongside of is some to look after, when they decide the mission matters more than their life, when they decide that their contrary matters more than they do.


MATTINGLY: Now, President Biden did not mention Donald Trump by name, but he made veiled references to Trump's isolationist policies and his make America great again campaign.

Slogan for his part, Donald Trump is once again suggesting he would try to prosecute his political opponents if he's reelected, and that would happen in the wake of his criminal convictions in the New York hush money case.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, revenge does take time, I will say that


TRUMP: And sometimes revenge can be justified. But I have to be honest, sometimes they can.


MATTINGLY: With me is "New York Times" correspondent Maggie Haberman, one of the best source reporters in Trump world. We're going to talk with her in just a moment.

But we start in France with President Biden's warning about democracy.


MATTINGLY: CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour joins me now from Paris. And, Christiane, President Biden very clearly was trying to walk a fine line here. It's a speech about democracy on the world stage, make very clear she's trying to stand up to Russia's Vladimir Putin. But the subtext was not subtle. He has a candidate he's running against and clearly that was a piece of this.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Look, I think it was a piece of it, but I prefer to think that actually in the full light of day of what was happening on D-Day and today, he know he was swept up like everybody here was.

You know, you can be a cynical and as political as you like, but when you come to Normandy to that, honestly, hallowed ground, when you see all those crosses, when you see the cemeteries full of the people who laid down their lives to fight and die, not just for their own country, but to defend democracy and freedom all over the world. And at that time, of course, to -- as one of the fantastic veterans said to me, 101-year-old Jake Larson said to kick Hitler's ass out of Europe, that is what it was about. And it was about, you know, creating a democratic and free world.

And, of course, that is at stake right now. And Biden's speeches, you know, really encapsulated that both yesterday and today. But as you, as you say correctly, today's was very much directed at an American audience as well and showing the complete different visions between Trump, who he didn't mention, and between him.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, two powerful speeches back-to-back. There's no question about that. He also had a meeting with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and in that meeting, Biden apologized for the bitter infighting on Capitol Hill that delayed that major aid package, that delay something you asked Joint Chiefs Chairman CQ Brown about in Normandy. Here's what he said.


AMANPOUR: Do you think they can reverse the advances Russia has made? I mean, it was a significant delay and certainly the Ukrainians blame that delay for losing men and territory?

GEN. CHARLES Q. BROWN, JR., JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: Well, even if you look at what's happened over the course of the past year, I mean, there has not been a dramatic shift in -- in the lines there.


But we -- again, we've got to continue to support Ukraine and be able to push back against this aggression because it does have an impact, not just for Ukraine, not just for Europe, but really for the entire world.


MATTINGLY: And, Christiane, that's been the message. This isn't just about one country, this isn't just about one fight, it's so much bigger than that, as the backdrop I think captures probably better than any that I've seen.

But when you talk to advisors to Zelenskyy, to Ukrainian officials, do they believe President Biden when he says, still there completely, still there thoroughly?

AMANPOUR: Look, I think they do and they have to because they know that their survival and their success depends on the goodwill and the largess of their allies, and America is the biggest in terms of providing weapons. Europe has been the biggest in terms of providing financial and other kinds of aid, but this is a fight in which everybody is all in or at least must be as Ukraine keeps saying, we are not asking you to come here. Unlike, you know, getting rid of the Third Reich when you send your own men and women boots on the ground, that is not what were asking you to do. We just want the means and we will fight, but we cannot fight for us or for you with our hands half tied behind our backs.

And I do think that this -- these two days of meetings with Zelenskyy in this atmosphere sharpened everybody's minds about exactly what's at stake. And you have the joint chiefs say what he did publicly is important to have Biden the apologize publicly to Zelenskyy for the delay, the seven months delay which he did, of course, take the opportunity to lay at the feet of the Republican obstructionist, that handful in Congress who refuse to allow it.

But, again you know, this is a real turning point, Phil, America faces a choice and thus its allies face a choice between an isolationist America, me first, and alone, or an America that continues the proud tradition that it started after World War II of the international world order and the rules of the game, which basically prevent borders changing through force and domination.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, a powerful two days trying to underscore that message.

Christiane Amanpour, as always, thanks so much.


MATTINGLY: Meanwhile, on this side of the Atlantic, Donald Trump explicitly suggesting he'd launch revenge tour if he's sent back to the White House.

"New York Times'" Maggie Haberman joins me now.

Maggie, my question at this point is not whether or not he's talking about revenge, whether or not he wants revenge. He did it in his first term. He said it repeatedly in this campaign, but in the past when he's said it, he's kind of tried to pivot a couple of days later saying, no, no, my -- the real revenge will be the success of the American people as advisers have said, the same thing. They're not even trying to hedge at this point.

Is that fair?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I don't think his advisors, at least some of them are especially happy with how explicit he's being right now, but explicit he is being. And I think that we have seen for eight years, people come up with rationalizations for why you shouldn't take him at his word when he is saying what he is going to do.

Now, he was prevented from doing what he wanted to do at various points when he was president previously and he went into office saying he didn't want to hurt the Clintons anymore, but then within months, he was talking to Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, about reopening and investigation into Hillary Clinton. He wanted John Kerry prosecuted, I mean, you can go down the list. And so, he wants James Comey prosecuted.

There is no reason to think that any of those desires would change. And what he is looking for and Jonathan Swan, Charlie Savage, and I've written about this is lawyers who will help him get to a yes on various fronts in a second administration. He is talking about eroding the post-Watergate norm of justice department independence. And so I don't see any reason why people would not believe him and his allies when they say this?

MATTINGLY: Can we dig it on this a little bit? Because again, to your point I feel like you talked to Republicans and the say, well he, said this in the past, so they talked to Republicans and say, well, he should be pissed about what happened because they don't like the New York case. This is different because of who's going to be around to and the kind of the guardrails that have either been winnowed, diminished, or don't exist anymore if he's in a second for years of office.

What authority does he have as president if people say yes to him?

HABERMAN: Look, so, the one thing, there are plenty of people who say that he has a right to be upset with the New York case and that they think it shouldn't have been brought in the first place, and that he has a right to be upset with the outcome. Number one, in terms of the outcome will never know whether having a better defense plan might have actually won that case, but they didn't really have one. And maybe it wasn't winnable anyway.

But there's a difference between being upset about the outcome of a case and saying, therefore, I'm going to go after everybody.

Number one, you have to have bases for crimes. We can't just go and manufacturer events. Number one, the argument against Manhattan cases that the law was contorted in a way to make it possible.


HABERMAN: What he can do is he can order the Justice Department to open various investigations. Again, they would have to have grounds, but they could do that.


What his allies are calling for right now is that state attorneys general or local Republican district attorneys who might have some overlay with the aspects of current investigations into Trump or his allies should therefore open investigations into the investigators. And that is something that we have seen before. Remember the Durham investigation was all about investigating the Russia investigation into the Trump campaign.

That's what they're calling for before he gets an office. Once he is an office, the DOJ is sort of a black hole that he you can use.

MATTINGLY: How -- we've seen from his allies. You guys wrote a great story, you and Swan and Charlie about his allies are being very explicit about the revenge tour that they would like Trump to go on. How serious is he about that? How much is this focal point for him right now?

HABERMAN: It's very much a focal point for him right now. I mean, again, he was -- Sean Hannity, who is a Trump friend, offered him multiple opportunities to say, no, no, no, I don't think that we should use the system against our enemies and Trump just wouldn't do it. And he was actually more explicit in that clip you played with Dr. Phil.

Trump might be tampering somewhat his language publicly, but he is very focused on behind the scenes. He does want to see retribution. He is not in a happy place.

MATTINGLY: He said a few times in the wake of his conviction, he'd be okay with prison time. He'd be okay with jail.

HABERMAN: Well, I don't -- I don't happen to believe that he would be okay with prison time or jail and I don't know very many people who are actually okay with or happy if they could.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, in his defense.

HABERMAN: To be fair.

And we're talking about a very complicated notion when it comes to a former president who has a Secret Service detail, but no, I do not think Donald Trump actually wants to be in prison and he's okay with it.

MATTINGLY: One of the allies, former allies, current allies are never totally sure that was calling for it, Steve Bannon, like he's headed to jail as well. Can you answer the question, I always have which is how in the loop is he right now? How directly connected to the former president is he?

HABERMAN: It's a good question. So, a couple of things. I mean, I think Steve Bannon is still hoping that there's going to be some kind of Supreme Court intervention in his case. So, we'll see if that happens. But if not, he is supposed to report to prison on July 1st.

Bannon has both direct contact with Trump and direct contact with a lot of people around Trump. So he has a bunch of different inputs. But Bannon's biggest influence right now comes from his podcast, "War Room," which is incredibly influential and the right-wing ecosystem. It helps set the tone and set the terms of the discussion around what other aspects of the right-wing ecosystem do.

And so, some of it is hearing from Trump directly and some of it is the show helping program what Trump says.

MATTINGLY: When you -- we've spent so much time focused on the trial or focused on when Trump talks about revenge, when you talk to campaign folks right now, it brings a ton of money, of course, of the last couple of weeks, no question. I think Republicans have, once again kind of coalesced around him and the way the New York case.

Where do they feel like things stand six months out?

HABERMAN: They don't know. Look, five months is a very long time electorally, most Republican -- die hard Donald Trump Republican supporters are adamant that this is going to help him. Republican strategists who have run in past campaign -- run past campaigns would like him to talk about this less. They just don't think that this is especially helpful to be talking about the court case are the details or retribution all the time that it can scare swing voters, and it can scare others, and it can have a secondary effect, which is that in this climate of threats of political violence increasing, do people take up on that call? So those are risks.

Has it helped with the money delivery? Absolutely, in terms of small- dollar support. If he gets jail time on July 11th when he has his sentencing, Republicans expected that will help them fundraise dramatically, too, and there's no reason not to think that it will, but I don't think anybody thinks that this is something they would have sought out for a general election.

MATTINGLY: Right, despite how they might try --

HABERMAN: Correct.

MATTINGLY: -- frame it, which as you would expect them to try and spend some like that because you were picked up in talking to Republicans over the course of the last couple of weeks, Republicans that I wouldn't expect to like Donald Trump, have made very clear they want to support Donald Trump or outrage after January 6, probably didn't like him his first term are so mad about the New York case that they're just in a different place now.

HABERMAN: I think that's true. I mean, I've -- listen, they're part of the difference between the New York case -- I was talking to somebody about this the other day. If you look at the cases against Trump, there's a spectrum that the documents case, the Mar-a-Lago case in Florida, that's really pretty clean cut and that's a traditional application of the law, about classified the documents, and more specifically, obstructing the efforts to retrieve them. Then there's the J6 federal investigation and the Georgia case, which are sort of novel legal theory is the Manhattan case, which is on its own.

There are a lot of people who are very exercised about this now. I think that some of them use that as a justification to get where they wanted to get anyway. But that's where we are.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, important point on that last one.

Maggie Haberman, always a pleasure.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Well, up next, inside that classified documents case Maggie was just mentioning, new CNN reporting on why the judge overseeing that case is described as isolated and inexperienced.

Also, once a close ally to the squad, now persona non grata to progressives.


What former Congressman Mondaire Jones did that has him in a fight trying to get back to Capitol Hill? He'll be here on THE LEAD.


MATTINGLY: In our law and justice lead, eye-opening new details about the federal judge overseeing Donald Trump's classified documents case. Judge Aileen Cannon has come under fire from critics who say her experience is causing unacceptable delays in the case.

Let's bring in CNN's Jessica Schneider.

CNN, Jessica, has reviewed the judge's record and spoken with attorneys who have been before her court.

What did they learn?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Phil, a few things to point out. So, Judge Cannon, she's been on the federal bench for less than four years. In addition, she's the only judge in the Fort Pierce courthouse, which is just on the edge of the southern district of Florida.

You add to that that she's had very minimal trial experience as a lawyer, when she was a lawyer. So, all of this adds up to really a judge who is isolated, inexperienced, and as such, is really moving at a slow and plodding pace, not just in Donald Trump's case, but it turns out in an array of cases that have come before her in the past few years.

So, our reporters, Hannah Rabinowitz and Tierney Sneed, they actually were able to talk to 10 attorneys who regularly appear before her.


They all spoke unanimously since, you know, lawyers just aren't typically able to or willing to talk about a sitting federal judge. And here is how several of them describe Judge Cannon, saying she is not efficient, indecisive, and she just seems overwhelmed by the process. They do say she's diligent and well-prepared, but really struggles with managing her docket.

And we've seen just that in Trump's classified documents case. There are several motions, pretrial disputes that are currently outstanding, lingering. They will have to be resolved before any trial date is even put on the calendar. So that's all in limbo right now.

In addition, the isolation of her courthouse, its 60 miles north of Palm Beach, and she's the only judge there. So that has really likely made it difficult for her to learn on the job. You know, she has no other judges in the immediate vicinity around her to regularly bounced problems off of.

But interestingly, our team did talk to Senior Judge Paul Huck. He describes Judge Cannon as very smart, very personable, but he agrees that where she's located, it is very isolating.

And, you know, we've seen Judge Cannon in recent weeks come under extreme criticism for these delayed scheduling of her hearings. Most recently, and coming up, she's allowing several outside parties to have time for arguments at an upcoming hearing about the validity of Special Counsel Jack Smith's appointment.

Phil, I will note, you know, she's been tough in the Trump case, but this is actually a trend with her. One attorney that our teams spoke with said she doesn't like the government to come in and play bully, steamroller. So there's that side of it that she's tough on the government, but others have said that she actually seems to be giving Trump better their treatment than they\ve seen other criminal defendants get.

So, overall, you know, Phil, Judge Aileen Cannon facing a lot of pressure, a lot of criticism, and as this case moves forward, there are questions as to how slowly it will continue to go, especially as it looks like we will not see a trial before election day -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yeah. It certainly seems that way, very in-depth reporting from our team on CNN.

Jess Schneider, thanks so much.

Let's talk more about this with law professor Jeff Swartz. He's a former Miami-Dade County court judge.

I think my approach to Aileen Cannon. I watched her confirmation hearings, which were an uneven at times. I know where that kind of political positioning is, on her is, new judge. It's always look complicated coming into a big position.

Are there political issues here? And bias issues here? Or is this new charge trying to figure out a new place?

JEFF SWARTZ, FORMER JUDGE, MIAMI-DADE COUNTY COURT: The problem that I have is and all the things that were -- that Jessica just said may be true, but they those problems were solvable a long time ago. Yes, she is in Fort Pierce. Yes, she is isolated because she's the only judge in that courthouse and I've been a judge, the only one in the courthouse.

But there are telephones. There are abilities to talk to the other members of the Southern District of Florida, many of whom have extensive experience in this type of case, and national security cases. She has not availed herself of those opportunities. She has not spoken to anybody, at least as far as I know, and I've heard.

The basic thought process when a judge says she's smart, she's personable, she's doing the best she can. That type of thing, that's a way of saying, I don't want to criticize that, judge, because I'm one of them.

So I think that I know about her confirmation hearings. In truth, the information that came out at them is that it amazed me that Democrats voted yes on her in any way. She did not have the experience or the knowledge to be able to do the kind of job to be a federal district judge. And now she's stuck in the middle of this litigation for which I think she does have a great deal of sympathy for the man who made her a federal judge.

MATTINGLY: Which is -- I mean, the kind of fascinating element of that is during Donald Trump's trials, constantly complaining about conflicted judges. Obviously, Trump appointed Aileen Cannon. She is supported by Senator Marco Rubio is potential Trump running mate, but we don't hear complaints either from Trump world or the special counsels office, or the Justice Department. Why is that?

SWARTZ: Well, you're not going to hear it from the Justice Department because that's not what they do. They are not going to publicly chastised her, although Jack has come very close to it. They are not going to file a motion to disqualify her because right now she hasn't done anything that rises to the level of a basis to disqualify her.

She hasn't shown an appearance of impropriety yet. She hasn't done anything so terribly wrong or unethical that there's a reason to remove her. The one thing that is clear though, is she is not ruling on all of these motions because she does not want to be appealed by the government again.


She's already been criticized a lot by the 11th Circuit in both of the cases, they reversed her on and she knows that she can't continue to get this criticism from the 11th Circuit and survive as a judge.

MATTINGLY: Can I just switch quickly to another matter? Financial disclosures released today, they show several U.S. Supreme Court justices received six figure payments for book deals last year and Justice Clarence Thomas disclosed the trip to Bali in 2019, paid for by Republican megadonor, Harlan Crow.

What kind of financial reforms do you think are needed to ensure the integrity of the Supreme Court? SWARTZ: I don't think it's the financial reforms because I think the ethical reforms would solve that problem. If you notice that some of the other justices who have been there for a long time know what they can and cannot do, and they don't do it.

The problem is that Justice Thomas doesn't care what he should or should not do. The fact that he would for all intents and purposes, falsify his financial disclosures in the past and now have to try to make up for them with the things that he claims. He has. I guess from the report that I saw received as much as somewhere between two-and-a- half to $4 million worth of gifts from people who may or may not have business before the court.

Justice Alito has taken some of those gifts. Justice Scalia took a lot of trips, but he declared them, most of them at least as he should have.

So it's a problem that needs to be resolved one by an ethical code that Congress and that is the Senate and the House have to impose upon the court and disclosures that are punishable to the extent that they become a high crime or misdemeanor, they could get them impeached. That's about the only solution that we have right now to solve this problem.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, there are legislative proposals, none of them have moved forward in the U.S. Senate.

Law professor and former judge, Jeff Swartz, appreciate your time. Thanks.

SWARTZ: Have a nice day, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Well, up next, the sudden change in strategy just hours ago in the Hunter Biden gun trial, what it could mean for the president son's defense.

Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: Welcome back.

Today in the Hunter Biden federal gun trial, the prosecution rested its case and the defense left open the question if Hunter Biden himself would take the stand.

Also at the courthouse today, First Lady Jill Biden is there for support, Hunter's daughter Naomi, who took the stand, President Biden's sister, Valerie, is also there and his brother James, who is set to testify, but was never called.

CNN's Paula Reid is also at the courthouse.

And, Paula, I think one of the things going into the day when the family members start to testify what was going to be the response on the defense witnesses, Naomi Biden's testimony today is heart- wrenching.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, it really was. I mean, let's give her credit, right? She's a child of an addict. To anyone who's been through that experience knows how difficult it is and then have to go inside a federal courtroom and testify about that, such a difficult thing to do.

So she was there to testify about two instances where she met up with her father in 2018. The first was in late summer 2018. He'd been in rehab and he reached out to her to arrange a meeting. She said she went with her then boyfriend, now husband, and she said at that time her how her father was as clean and as clear as she had seen him since the death of his brother, her uncle, Beau Biden. She said she was really proud of him.

She also testified that she saw him again in October, on October 19th. That's key because that is during the time when he owned the gun at the center of this case, should at that time, he was again, as clean as she had seen him in California, which had gone out to visit him in rehab and said she was really quite hopeful.

But both Naomi and defense attorneys appear to be a little caught off guard when prosecutors on cross-examination presented her with text messages showing exchanges she had with her dad during that New York trip where he would be a little hard to communicate with. It was hard to meet up with him. He was texting her at 2:00 in the morning to try to get back a car that she had borrowed.

Now about that car, she also testified when she borrowed it, she saw no drug residue, no drug paraphernalia, and that he certainly didn't do any drugs or put any in their prosecutors, on cross-examination, use that testimony to insinuate that the drugs that were then found, drug paraphernalia on the 23rd of October must have been put there in the intervening days.

So it's unclear exactly what the jury made of this, but I'll tell you, they were very attentive. I was in the courtroom, very attentive throughout her testimony. She clearly had a lot of family support.

As soon as she and her husband walked in, the first lady motioned to her husband to come sit right next to her in the front row where you had about two dozen friends and family.

MATTINGLY: Paula, you often refer to yourself as recovering lawyer, given what's played out in this case so far, the idea that Hunter Biden may take the stand for the defense, do you think its actually possible?

REID: Yeah. Well, it is possible. Speaking with the sources, there is, right, risk and reward here. The reward for the defense, they see that possibly he could do a great job because look, what he did on the Hill when he was testifying up there, a lot of folks there have been focused on him attacking him and he held up pretty well under questioning up on the hill. They also believe he could add additional important context here. For

example, prosecutors to focus on text messages that he sent to Hallie Biden during this critical period in October where he was saying that he was meeting with someone named Mookie, insinuating that he was buying drugs or he was on crack, and he would likely testify that he was just going through a complicated period with her and didn't want to meet up with her.

So he could also, right, engender some empathy or some sympathy because he is, of course, an addict in recovery and that's a big theme here.


But the risk is, I will tell you, Phil, these prosecutors, these are much smarter people than the folks that he encountered on the Hill and there's always a risk that they'll have some sort of surprise.

MATTINGLY: I can't help but chuckle at that very blunt and accurate assessment.

Paula Reid, thanks so much from Wilmington, Delaware, appreciate it.

REID: It is what it is.

MATTINGLY: I want to bring in Misty Marris. She's a trial attorney.

Do you disagree, Misty, that Congress -- no, I'm kidding. Can I -- I want to start where Paula left off, which is Hunter Biden testifying what you've seen from the case up to this point, the prosecutions case, they've now rested where the defense is at this point. Do you see value in it?

MISTY MARRIS, TRIAL ATTORNEY: Paula is spot on. It is a risk versus reward analysis. So here's the value. The defense came out the gate and the opening statements and said, Hunter Biden with not using drugs at this time. Hundred Biden looked at the form and didn't identify as an addict. When he filled up the form, he wasn't currently using drugs.

What do all of those things mean? They mean you're looking into Hunter Biden's head. You're looking at his intent when he was viewing this form. You're looking at keeping the only person who can attest that during that time frame, he was not using drugs.

So certainly there's value there, but the risk is what can come in on cross-examination when a defendant testifies, you open up that door. We know there's so many text messages. There's the infamous laptop. There's other passages of his memoir that did not make it into the courtroom. All of that could be fair game.

So it's really a strategy call, and I think it's unlikely that we see him on the stand.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, that's what's going to ask. If he is called -- if the defense decides to have him testify, figures to testify given that downside risk you layout, does that tell you they have -- they think they have an issue or that they think that they're in a good place and he should close it out?

MARRIS: It doesn't. It's not really indicative either way. If he testifies, it means that he has the ability to fill in these gaps that the jury is going to want to know about because they tried to get an expert witness to testify about addiction. The judge shut that down. They're not allowing the expert to testify.

So, he is truly the only person who is going to be able to say, I was not doing drugs in October. This was my journey. This was when I relapsed.

So there's certainly value, but to your point, they have to assess whether or not that risk is simply too high. And the other path, because the jury can't hold it against him if he doesn't testify. They just say the prosecutors failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, and here's why.

Both are very, very viable strategies.

MATTINGLY: Misty Marris, always appreciate you. Thank you.

MARRIJS: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Well, up next, the fight to get back on Capitol Hill. A former congressman shunned by the Squad, then lost some financial support from progressives.

Did he bring all this on himself? Yeah, he did. He's here on THE LEAD, next.



MATTINGLY: In our politics lead, New York, they can be a tough place right now. You get Democrats going after wanted to kicking each other in the donkey. I didn't write that, but I do like -- the latest example, the Congressional Progressive Caucus's political arm withdrawing its endorsement and cash from Mondaire Jones. The reason instead of backing Congressman Jamaal Bowman, Jones is throwing his support behind Bowman's Democratic opponent.

Now, do you remember former representative is looking to get back into Congress. He ran for a different district then his last attempt following a shakeup of the map. So what's behind the beef with his former colleague?

Well, let's going to ask him.

Mondaire Jones joins me now.

Appreciate your time.

This is a fascinating dynamic because I think that -- I wanted to quote Cori Bush, a member of the Squad, said you're squad adjacent when you came into Congress.

MONDAIRE JONES (D), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Not only was I never squad adjacent, I was always a pragmatist and an independent voice for my values. And in this latest example, this thing that has outraged some members of the Squad, and I guess some members of the progressive caucus writ large is standing on my values.

So, specifically, I endorsed Westchester County Executive George Latimer in the primary against Representative Jamaal Bowman in the 16th congressional district. This is a district that is adjacent to the one I am seeking to represent again.


JONES: I grew up in these communities. I used to represent over 100,000 people who are in the 16th congressional district where I just endorsed. And people in that district and in mine and throughout the lower Hudson Valley share in how horrified I have been by Mr. Bowman's conduct since the events of October 7th.

One of the things that stands out to me is that he denied that Hamas committed sexual assault against Israeli women on October 7. He dismissed it as propaganda. Recently, he doubled down on that extremism when he accepted the endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America, whose New York City chapter amplified a pro- Hamas rally the day after the worst assault on Jews since the Holocaust.

I've known George Latimer for years. I worked in his administration. He is a unifier. He's going to bring people together and its unfortunate that people would disagree with me on that.

MATTINGLY: I think that this is obviously an issue in the Democratic Party writ large, between progressives and some other elements the party. But I think I was asking around other Democratic officials in the state, you know, why did this happen? Why did you go in this direction? You just laid out your version of events or your reason for it.

One person texts me back look at the lead and the "Politico" story on it, and said lefties are livid at Mondaire Jones. You're running against Mike Lawler, an absolute must win frontline district for Democrats and he's been attacking you constantly for being too progressive, for being aligned with people like Jamaal Bowman.


There's a political element of this, too, right?

JONES: Look, this is about standing with my Jewish constituents who are saying that Mr. Bowman's conduct has contributed to anxiety, fear, and even anger among them. Okay? So, let's be clear about that.

Now, when it comes to political expediency, I'm looking at Mr. Lawler who refuses to stand up to the former president of the United States, a guy who's now been convicted of 34 felony counts. I'm standing up to extremists in my party. Whereas Mike Lawler doing that?

On the flip side, I think its really important that if we're going to ask Republicans to stand up to the extremes in their party, that we be willing to do that ourselves. And so I'm standing on that. I'm standing with my Jewish constituents and I'm fully comfortable with organizations withdrawing their support, whatever that support looked like in the first place on the theory that we have to go in a different direction at a party and we have to get extremism out and unify people moving forward.

MATTINGLY: I want us get broader question about where the election is in a minute. But I do want to ask, there's a story I believe is today from "City and State" that said the Shawn Patrick Maloney had called you back in 2022 and offered to drop out of the 17th district race? Just quickly. Is that story accurate in your view?

JONES: It is not true.


JONES: And it's not just in my view. It's in the view of everyone who watched this go down back then, right? I mean, we all saw in a very public way how Mr. Maloney then the chair of the DCCC, said, he would run in the 17th congressional district without even consulting me.

So this is what happens when you stand up to extremism. When you stand up to the far left and the Democratic Party and outside of the Democratic Party, you have people who manufacture stories years later that are completely belied by everything that we all witnessed firsthand.

MATTINGLY: Can I ask you before I let you go? When you look at these frontline districts, New York is the pathway back to the majority for Democrats. Do you believe Joe Biden is a weight on you, that he's a hindrance to your election?

JONES: No, I don't believe that. Look, this is a president who has a number of accomplishments, but I also recognize that we've got to do so much more, right? So I'm proud of the fact that we kept the cost of prescription drugs under the Inflation Reduction Act, so that next year, no one on Medicare is going to pay more than $2,000 annually for their prescriptions, but it's also the case that people are still hurting. They're hurting at the gas pump, they're hurting in the grocery stores.

I know this personally. I grew up in section eight housing and food stamps. So this is not academic from me, unlike what it is for a lot of people in Congress to be candid with you.

We have to make sure that we build on that progress. And I look at people like my Republican opponent, a guy who oppose the Affordable Care Act, literally meaning that he would throw millions of people off their health insurance plans. A guy who opposed as a candidate, the Inflation Reduction Act, meaning he would literally raise prescription drug prices for seniors like my grandmother. And I think to myself, if his favorite president, Donald Trump,

returns to the White House, and Mike Lawler stays in the Republican majority in Congress, things are only going to get worse economically for people --

MATTINGLY: There are very clear policy contrast and I know you guys are going to be going out of one another in the months ahead with a lot of money and a lot of eyes on that raise.

Mondaire Jones, we appreciate your time.

JONES: Thanks for having me.

MATTINGLY: Thanks for coming in.

Well, up next, the disturbing new toll of a war that does not often have the world's attention, but absolutely should. Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: In our world lead, a deadly conflict that too often is in the shadows of the wars in Ukraine and Gaza. Sudan's civil war has ravaged the country and much of its civilian population for more than a year. UNICEF says dozens of children were killed and injured and attack just this week.

CNN's Nada Bashir reports on the sickening toll the conflict is taking. And I want to warn you, some of these images are very disturbing.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice-over): Awaiting burial, the victims of another costly day in Sudan's year-long civil war. At least 150 people were killed by rebel forces in the village of Wad Al-Noora on Wednesday, local officials and eyewitnesses say.

Though CNN cannot independently confirm these claims, these images which our teams have geo-located was shared on social media by an activist group.

Most of those killed here by paramilitary Rapid Support Forces were civilians, locals told us, including women and children.

An RSF spokesperson said Thursday it had targeted army bases in the area, though locals disputed this claim.

The U.N.'s top official in Sudan has called for a thorough investigation, but that may take time to heed. Wad Al-Noora is in Sudan's central Aljazeera state, where RSF fighters are attempting to gain ground.

They already controlled much of the country's capital Khartoum, seized after RSF leader General Mohamed Hamdan Dagalo fell out with army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Burhan, in April last year, unleashing violence across the country.

MARTIN GRIFFITHS, U.N. UNDER-SECRETARY-GENERAL FOR HUMANITARIAN AFFAIRS: Two men basically decided did that they were going to resolve their differences through fighting, that they were going to take the country down, and this was an avoidable conflict.

BASHIR: Since then, more than 15,000 people have reportedly been killed, according to one NGO. Some 9 million had been driven from their homes and U.N. aid chiefs warned of an imminent risk of famine.

Many civilians sought safety in El Fasher in western Darfur, but that city is now also facing assault by RSF fighters, according to a Yale report out Wednesday, as the RSF, quote, continues to gain ground.

Nada Bashir, CNN, London.


MATTINGLY: Another plea in court today from another close ally of Donald Trump.

We're going to be back in a moment.



MATTINGLY: In our law and justice lead former White House Trump chief of staff Mark Meadows pleaded not guilty today to charges in Arizona relating to a fake electors plot to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Meadows is one of 18 people that were indicted by a grand jury in April, including Rudy Giuliani and Trump legal advisor Boris Epshteyn.

In our world lead, some American lawmakers mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day by parachuting over Normandy. Congressman Mike Waltz and Jason Crow organized a group of ten veteran congressman who Florida France to participate in the commemoration with Congressman Crow shared his own video saying, quote, the weight of this moment is not lost on me. To the greatest generation, our deepest thank you.

Well, coming up Sunday on "STATE OF THE UNION," Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan and Republican Governor Kristi Noem of South Dakota. That's Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern, and again at noon here on CNN. You can follow the show on X @TheLeadCNN. And if you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen to the show wherever you get your podcasts.

The news continues on CNN with the one and only Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM."