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The Lead with Jake Tapper

House Votes To Hold Atty. Gen. Garland In Contempt; Rep. Nicole Malliotakis, (R-NY), Is Interviewed About Merrick Garland, Andrew Cuomo; Lawmakers Push Former N.Y. Gov. Cuomo About Nursing Home COVID- 19 Policy That Led To Senior Citizen Deaths; Anti-Semitic Protests And Vandalism In New York City; Russian Ships Arrive In Cuba Amid Heightened U.S.-Moscow Tension; Report: IRS Audit Division Goes Soft On The Wealthy. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 12, 2024 - 17:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to The Lead. I'm Jake Tapper. This hour, investigating hate in New York City blatant acts of vandalism and antisemitism and now the NYPD is launching a new hate crimes task force to look into the disturbing your acts.

Plus, Cold War allies reunite as Russia sends a group of warships to Cuba. Is Putin again trying to taunt the United States? Ahead, what we're hearing with CNN teams positioned in both Moscow and Havana?

And leading this hour the breaking news, a House vote led by Republicans holding the U.S. attorney general in contempt of Congress that issue audio recordings of an interview with President Biden during a special counsel investigation into Biden's handling of classified documents. The Special Counsel Robert Hur released a report about that investigation. The Justice Department also released a transcript but not the actual audio recording, which we should note for transparency sake. CNN is also suing to get our hands on. CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill.

And Manu, you're getting initial reaction from lawmakers who are leaving the vote right now behind you. What are Republican saying should happen now?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a bit of a debate about exactly what should happen. One person who did not want to weigh in was the Speaker of the House himself, Mike Johnson, who just told reporters that it really he was asked about whether the Justice Department should go and try to prosecute the attorney general, of course, was in charge of the Justice Department. He said, we'll see what happens.

Other ones said that this will be fought out in court to try to get these documents not necessarily expecting much would go in the way of prosecution because the next step here is for the D.C. attorney office, U.S. attorney's office, which is underneath the Justice Department to look at this contempt, referral and decide how to act and we do not expect that office to act. That would be unprecedented it did so. And also the President asserted executive privilege over these audio tapes. So, the Justice Department position is in line with the executive branch's position was to not give this audio over to Congress despite the subpoena for the House over this Joe Biden interview with the special counsel that the House Republicans want.

Nevertheless, talking to Republicans is clear. Some of them say fight this out in court to get the audio, others going further.


RAJU: But there's no way he'll get prosecuted over this garland.

REP. KELLY ARMSTRONG (R-ND): Why have -- I never say never but I don't know when you're sending a contempt motion to the guy who's in charge of prosecuting the contempt motion that I would say I like our chances. But the real fight is going to be on executive privilege and whether we have -- whether we should have this information and I truly believe we do.

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): We just held him in contempt of Congress. Is it -- they're putting Steve Bannon in prison, Peter Navarro is in prison. Merrick Garland evidently deserves to go to prison.


RAJU: And of course that last comment from that firebrand Marjorie Taylor grain wants the attorney general to go to prison over this. Of course, there's no expectation that he wouldn't be prosecuted, much less be sent to prison, but nevertheless, you're getting a sense of how some of the Republicans are reacting after this party line vote, this vote Jake went down 216 voting to advance this measure 207 voting against a just one member defected that was a Republican David Joyce of Ohio. He's more moderate Republican, no statement yet from Joyce about why he broke ranks but most of the vulnerable members to Republicans voted with their party, vulnerable Democrats voting with their parties as folk goes down along party lines making a Merrick Garland the third attorney general in recent years to be referred for contempt citation because of a dispute with the House of Representatives. Jake.

TAPPER: OK, all right, Manu Raju, thanks so much. With us now to discuss, Republican congresswoman from New York Nicole Malliotakis.

Congresswoman, thanks for joining us. So you just voted to hold Garland in contempt for not handing over the audio from President Biden's interview with the Special Counsel Robert Hur. transcript has been released. Why is it so important to Republicans to have the audio released? What exactly do you want from the audio?

REP. NICOLE MALLIOTAKIS (R-NY): Well, look, we want to make sure that it matches what the transcript says. And I think that it's important as an oversight procedural issue that we have access to the audio. I think it's just a very simple issue and it perhaps I think, as Manu said, we probably have to fight it out in court. But when the Oversight Committee and members of Congress request this type of material by subpoena, it should be provided.


TAPPER: If that's all you want just to make sure that the transcript matches the audio, could you not just ask for a special master to do that? I mean, what Democrats think. I know, look, CNN wants it to. We want it for journalistic reasons, you guys are politicians, I don't think the chances are zero, that if you got the audio that some of that audio, especially the less flattering parts of it might end up in an attack ad. I mean, that's the fear that Democrats have.

MALLIOTAKIS Look, they could fear whatever they'd like. It that doesn't mean that they can't -- they shouldn't be complying with the subpoena from the House of Representatives. I think it's just as it's cut and dry and simple like that, for the same reasons that CNN seeks the audiotape. But I think that the larger issue here is that it always seems that there's zero transparency. We've had so much difficulty.

It's not just this issue with this administration. It's multiple issues where we're trying to do our oversight responsibility. We're trying to bring transparency to the people. And this is their government, they deserve to see everything and hear everything. And if there's a subpoena requests for something, then it should be provided.

It's a shame that we have to actually get to the subpoena position in the first place. I mean, we request information all the time from oversight purposes. And we have difficulty getting. And it's not limited specifically to this administration. I mean, and one of the issues we're going to talk about is Governor Cuomo.

I mean, we wrote letters for nearly 40 years to try to get information, simple questions that we've asked, and they just disrespected the House of Representatives, they felt it wasn't important to provide answers to us. And we're seeing that happen time and again, where people feel that they can just violate federal law and what we believe is proper oversight.

TAPPER: So, one more question on this and then I'll get to Governor Cuomo, who testified behind closed doors yesterday, and you were there. So I do want to ask about that. You weren't in Congress at the time, but I wouldn't say that Republican -- your Republican colleagues exactly ran to vote -- to hold Attorney General Bill Barr in contempt of Congress when he refused to hand over all the details of the Mueller investigation and the unredacted report, would you have voted to hold him in contempt of Congress as well?

MALLIOTAKIS: Yes, perhaps I wasn't here at the time, so I don't know the particulars of what occurred. But I do believe that there is a responsibility here for oversight and certainly as a member who had been involved in the Ways and Means Committee, you know, we were the ones who delivered the IRS whistleblowers that played a big role in this conviction of Hunter Biden. I think oversight is important. The American people deserve to know what happens, even if it's happening behind closed doors, especially when it's happening behind closed doors. So, why -- I don't know the particulars that you're mentioning, I think we do need to be consistent.

TAPPER: So let's talk about behind closed doors because yesterday behind closed doors, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo participated in an interview with the Subcommittee on the Coronavirus pandemic, and it centered on the issue of the guidance from his administration in New York that led to nursing homes and long term care facilities being forced to admit contagious COVID-19 patients during the pandemic, which led to the deaths of 1000s of seniors in New York. Listen to your fellow New York Congresswoman Republican Elise Stefanik after the interview.


REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY), REPUBLICAN CONFERENCE CHAIRWOMAN: And I said, does he have accountability and despite hours and hours of trying to blame everybody else in the final moments of the deposition, he said ultimately, as the New York governor, there is accountability for how they handled nursing homes.


TAPPER: Was that your take away that Governor Cuomo acknowledge accountability and responsibility for what happened?

MALLIOTAKIS: You know, it's unfortunate, Jake, is somebody who has had constituents who lost loved ones in the nursing homes to hear the governor say that he doesn't have remorse or that he would even change anything today if he had the ability to edit that directive that came from his administration to nursing homes, mandating them to take individuals, to hear him say that he does -- would not even make a single change today, that he would simply communicate it more and explain more so nursing homes could understand that they could reject individuals, which was certainly not what the mandate said. It is not what the impression of the nursing homes worth the time. Nor was it the impression that the local elected officials who were relaying concerns from the nursing homes to the administration, it wasn't our impression, either.

What I would say is it was unfortunate. The governor really tried to shift blame and point fingers. You know, first he tried to say that he and the DOH commissioner, Department of Health commissioner did not know anything about this directive until a month after it took effect, saying that it was when a media inquiry came to him that he first found out about it, I find that really hard to believe. And I think people who saw the governor for 111 days do briefings and he was so involved and so hands on, I don't think that anybody really believes that. And to this day, to not know who that staff member was there was no internal investigation if it was somebody who went rogue and did this without approval.


So he tried to blame them then he tried to blame CDC and the federal government saying that the guidelines were mirroring what the federal government recommendations were. But that was not the case.

TAPPER: Right.

MALLIOTAKIS: The federal government language was very different, that was can versus shall. And you've allowed no testing for those individuals who came into the nursing homes. And then he blamed the nursing homes themselves saying that they didn't understand the directive that they had the ability to turn them away if they couldn't care for them.

TAPPER: Republican on the committee told me that Democrats also, some of them had tough questions for Governor Cuomo. Is that your impression as well?

MALLIOTAKIS: Oh, yes. Certainly, there was a lot of dissatisfaction among all the members, Republicans and Democrats and a lot of tough questions. The Democrats have focused a lot of their questions, questions on the underreporting of deaths in the state of New York. And, you know, the other issue was the personal friends and family that were receiving tests, COVID tests. So here on one hand, the nursing homes were prohibited from testing individuals that were being forced upon them from the hospitals, right, according to this mandate, but then they were making these -- going out of their way to test anyone, whether it was personal or professional that was coming into contact with the governor. So it really was a double standard there.

And he received a lot of questions and a lot of heat from the Democrats on that particular topic.

TAPPER: Yes, I remember that all too well. Republican Congresswoman Nicole Malliotakis, thank you so much. Appreciate your time today.


TAPPER: U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland just released a statement after House Republicans voted to hold him in contempt of Congress, Garland said, quote, "It is deeply disappointing that this House of Representatives has turned a serious congressional authority into a partisan weapon. Today's vote disregards the constitutional separation of powers, the Justice Department's need to protect its investigations and the substantial amount of information we have provided to the committees. I will always stand up for this department, its employees and its vital mission to defend our democracy."

We have some breaking news now in the world lead, President Biden just landed in Italy moments ago for the G7. CNN Senior White House Correspondent MJ Lee is also in Italy as the President arrives.

MJ, what's on the President Biden's docket for this trip?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, a number of big ticket items for the G7 leaders as this meeting gets underway tomorrow up but there's no question that showing a unified front in support of Ukraine as the war enters its third year is really a top priority for the these top leaders. A number of the announcements that we expect the leaders to talk about, of course, include the $50 billion loan program for Ukraine that will be paid by interest that has accrued from Frozen Russian assets. We also expect leaders to talk about this new bilateral security agreement between the U.S. and Ukraine that would last 10 years. And of course, the U.S., of course, earlier today announced some new expanded sanctions targeting Russia. But as we see those images of President Biden landing here in Italy, it's important to keep in mind that this is his final G7 summit of his first term, coming just three years after that first G7 that he attended as president and the politics, both at home and across the world is just so different now.

Back then a lot of world leaders saying that they were breathing a sigh of relief to see Donald Trump gone after his unpredictable and isolationist tendencies. And now of course, there's a lot of anxiety coming back to the world stage, as a lot of folks are wondering about the possibility of a second Donald Trump term.

TAPPER: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre on the flight, I believe, sidestepped a question about whether President Biden might commute his son Hunter Biden sentence after a jury found him guilty on gun charges yesterday. He had told ABC he wouldn't pardon him. But there was no follow up about well, whether about a commutation. Tell us more about this exchange.

LEE: Yes, and you know, this was after the President spent the last night before traveling to Italy in Wilmington, clearly to show support to his family and his son Hunter after that conviction. What the White House Press Secretary was asked was whether the President would consider commuting Hunter's sentence. And she said she had not even spoken to the President about this issue since the verdict that hunters sentencing hadn't even been scheduled. So she really wouldn't weigh in on this issue at all. But just a reminder, of course, the President did say in a recent interview that he would not pardon his son. He said that he would also accept whatever the outcome of this verdict would be.

TAPPER: All right, MJ Lee, thanks so much.

One major topic on the sidelines of the G7 will, of course, be Israel's war against Hamas and Gaza. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken was just in the Middle East and he will be with President Biden in Italy. What is Blinken saying about the latest back and forth over the push for a ceasefire and hostage deal in this conflict? That's coming up.

Plus, incredible stories from the hostages just rescued from the hands of the terrorist group Hamas. Why the hostages feel they were actually in danger when they first saw Israeli forces? That's coming up.



TAPPER: Back with our world lead, quote, "bridgeable gaps." Bridgeable gaps, that's how U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken sees the latest Hamas response to the ceasefire and hostage proposal even after the terrorist organization responsible for the horrific October 7 attack on Israel made numerous changes to the wording. He still thinks they're bridgeable. Just before Blinken left the Middle East, he said quote, "It's time for the haggling to stop." CNN's Kylie Atwood is in Doha, Qatar.

And Kylie, you saw Blinken's frustration mount throughout this trip. Publicly, he is still projecting some optimism it seems.

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Some is the key word there, Jake. There was no signal today that they are on the edge on the precipice of any breakthrough with the Secretary of State saying that what Hamas put on the table included multiple proposals for changes saying that some of those are workable and some of those are not, expressing frustration, questioning if Hamas is actually negotiating here in good faith and also saying that some of what Hamas put forward goes beyond its previous positions, effectively making the case that they're moving backwards and not forwards toward trying to bridge the differences here. But he's still called for an urgent need for them to bridge those differences. But he said there can be no guarantee that it's going to work.


Listen to what he said earlier today in Doha.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: It's about seeing if we can bridge the gaps that have been exposed by Hamas's response. And I can't tell you right now, whether we'll succeed, I believe it's doable. I believe it's absolutely necessary to try our hardest to do it, but there's no guarantee.


ATWOOD: So we'll watch to see what the next few days, you know, hold for us here with the Secretary of State calling for those urgent conversations that need to happen. We still don't know exactly what those are going to look like. He also said that in the coming weeks, the U.S. is going to roll out some proposals for the day after plan for Gaza. What reconstruction, what governance could look like in Gaza after this conflict is concluded. But of course, in order to get there, they need to get a ceasefire and they simply are not there today. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. CNN's Kylie Atwood in Doha, Qatar, thanks so much.

And Israeli military source tells me that the IDF and the Israeli security agency known as the Shin Bet, have confirmed that Abdallah Aljamal, the person holding three since rescued Israeli hostages, was a member not only of Hamas, but also a journalist for Al-Jazeera, according to Israel's assessment. But the source told me that providing definitive proof that Aljamal was a member of Hamas and was holding the hostages would endanger their intelligence gathering ability. Aljazeera says that Aljamal was never an employee. They acknowledged he did contribute to one opinion article. We should note that for some reason, Abdallah Aljamal, even though he's not an employee he is on the Aljazeera website, listed as a Gaza based reporter and photo journalist, which is unusual if he's not an employee.

CNN's Paula Hancocks spoke with the family of now freed hostage, Andrey Kozlov as they recount disturbing details of Andrey eight months of torture.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When the Israeli military launched Saturday's rescue mission in Gaza, one of the hostages thought they had come to kill him. Andrey Kozlov shanks his name and terror to the troops. And his family says the Hamas guards told them for months, the sounds of war they were hearing were Israel trying to target them because they were causing trouble for the state.

His brother Dimitry tells me he didn't understand why the IDF came. He was afraid they came to kill him. It took some time to realize they had come to rescue him.

Psychological abuse coupled with frequent punishments marked Koslov's captivity, according to his family. They were trying not to leave marks his brother says because eventually it is their reputation, but they would still punish him this way or the other. He has told us there are some moments he will never share with us, his father says. But what he did share is that at the hottest time of the day, they would cover him in blankets. It's a difficult ordeal to be dehydrated through heat.

Kozlov, 27 years old is a Russian citizen who moved to Israel almost two years ago. He was working as a security guard at the Nova Music Festival on October 7, when he was kidnapped and taken into Gaza. His parents flew from Russia Sunday for an emotional reunion. One they hadn't dared to hope for after eight long months.

This is the best scenario we could have hoped for, his father says. To see him alive, to feel his presence and to hook him, it is outstanding.

His mother says we are infinitely happy to see him. He laughs, he jokes, he enjoys communicating with all of us, with his family, with doctors, with the people who surround him. His family says Kozlov was shocked when Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu came to visit him and the three of other hostages rescued while in hospital. As for those hostages still in Gaza, his father says a deal or a rescue whatever it takes to get them out.


HANCOCKS: After the initial medical treatments and checks, Kozlov has now left hospital and he's staying in a hotel with his family. Jake.


TAPPER: All right, Paula Hancocks, in Jerusalem, Israel for us thanks so much. This war is the underlying issue behind the hate crime task force just launched in New York City where vandalism and antisemitic acts are on the rise. Some of the scenes of hate and division against Jews erupting in this major American city. That's next.


TAPPER: To our national lead now, a New York City official says that several Jewish Brooklyn museum board members woke up to see red paint splattered on their homes along with blatantly antisemitic messages and an upside down red triangle or triangles on their doors and windows the upside down red triangle is a Hamas symbol indicating targets for the terrorist group to attack. This all comes just a day after anti-Israel protesters, many of them obviously pro-Hamas, flooding New York's subways and streets, many chanting openly anti- Semitic slurs openly applauding Hamas's terrorist atrocities.


Monday night outside and exhibit commemorating the 260 people killed at the Nova Music Festival, an anti-Semitic flag was held up reading, long live October 7th. That's the day that Hamas invaded Israel and slaughtered hundreds of innocent people up to 1,200 actually. CNN's Miguel Marquez reports from New York as the NYPD is combing through footage and conducting interviews of witnesses in hopes of catching these anti-Semitic criminals.


MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Red triangles, a Hamas symbol indicating Jewish targets, spray painted on the home of the Jewish director of the Brooklyn Museum, as well as several Jewish members of the museum's board.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Raise your hands if you're a Zionist.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): On the subway --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're Zionist decided to rave.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Even at a memorial for those killed at an Israeli Music Festival on October 7th.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That so of concentration camp.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): Anti-Semitism in New York City moving to new extremes.

OREN SEGAL, EXTREMISM EXPERT: We have currently moved well beyond protests of a war to people targeting individuals at their homes, targeting institutions that want to have exhibits about a massacre that occurred.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The New York City Police Department says anti- Semitic incidents are up 84 percent in the last four months compared to the same time in 2023. With protests becoming more physical and confrontational, Jews here say they fear escalation is inevitable.

SEGAL: What makes this different is that the amount of people that are coming out every single day to blatantly talk about how Zionist deserve to die. That is something different. That is something concerning. And that's going to keep me up at night.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The most recent target of anti-Semitism, the director of the Brooklyn Museum, Anne Pasternak, Brooklyn Museum, white supremacist, Zionist. The Brooklyn Museum targeted by pro- Palestinian protesters weeks ago, damaging art, swarming the building, confronting museum security.

In a shock to many Jews here --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right next to the gas chamber.

CROWD: Right next to the gas chamber.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The nova music festival in Israel, where at least 260 people died, protesters gathered outside the memorial exhibit in New York City attended by some survivors.

MILLET BEN HAIM, NOVA MUSIC FESTIVAL ATTACK SURVIVOR: The reason it's so important for me that people will come here is because you can try and twist it and make it about politics. But actually this is a story about innocent people who came to dance and celebrate life and this is what happened.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The hate reaching all parts of New York even disrupting commutes underground.

CROWD: New York chance to get out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Those Zionist we're good.

MARQUEZ (voice-over): The word Zionist and Jewish now interchangeable and a threat to many Jews here.

Protests on the subway turns into a fight with police, many New Yorkers asking where's this going? And how will it end?


MARQUEZ (on camera): So look, a lot of Jewish New Yorkers that I speak to are just horrified by what's happening in Gaza, very angry at the Netanyahu government for its conduct of the war. But they are even more appalled at how all Jews have been lumped in together and that they've been completely dehumanized. They fear that there is going to be great harm done to Jews here or somewhere else, just for being Jewish. Jake?

TAPPER: CNN's Miguel Marquez, thank you for that report.


A dramatic scene right now in Cuba, Russian warships are there. And the U.S. is keeping close watch. CNN crews are in Havana and in Moscow. What they're hearing from both capitals. That's next.



TAPPER: Shades of the Cold War atop our World Lead, a group of Russian naval ships including a nuclear power submarine arrived in Cuba this morning, just about 90 miles from the U.S. coast. It made quite an entrance firing off a 21-gun salute, which was then answered by the Cubans with cannon fire. It's the biggest show of force between Russia and Cuba in years. And of course tensions are already at a high right now between the United States and Russia over the war in Ukraine. And on top of that, the U.S. State Department has declared two Americans wrongfully detained by Russia, Wall Street Journal reporter Evan Gershkovich and former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan. Radio Free Europe editor, Alsu Kurmasheva, has also petitioned the U.S. to declare her wrongfully detained.

CNN is in all the right places right now for this story. Matthew Chance in Moscow, Patrick Oppmann in Havana, Cuba. Patrick, what is Cuba saying about this or any of those Russian ships armed?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, we carry -- they carried out military exercises on their way here so they are armed. They claim though here the Cuban Ministry of Defense, that they are on a friendly visit and they left their nuclear warheads back home. Of course, we'll just have to take them at their word on that or not. But this is some of Vladimir Putin's most sophisticated weaponry. You have a submarine just behind me. That is one of his newer submarines. You have a frigate that is capable of shooting hypersonic missiles has traveled about 7,000 miles per hour. So a while the Cuban officials we've talked to say this is a friendly visit, certainly it is an attempt by Vladimir Putin to project power.


TAPPER: And Matthew, how closely is the U.S. keeping an eye on all of this?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I think pretty closely I mean, it's a friendly visit and all that but friendly to Cuba, not friendly to the United States. I mean, look, the U.S. are downplaying the risks posed by this small group of Russian ships. They say that they don't believe that nuclear weapons are on board. And, you know, the risks to U.S. national security is very small indeed, you know, but they have been monitoring and tracking this U.S. group -- this Russian group of ships as it made its way across the Atlantic. U.S. officials tell CNN that deployed ships and planes to monitor what's going on now. And so, the U.S. is very aware that this is Vladimir Putin flexing his muscles in America's own backyard.

TAPPER: Patrick, how do Cubans, the citizens of Cuba feel about the presence of these Russian ships?

OPPMANN: They've never seen anything like this, a submarine, a nuclear powered submarine coming into the port this morning. That never even happened during the height of the Cold War here. So it is something that echoes in the past. There are some Cubans who feel nostalgic for the days when the USSR was footing the bill and the tune of billions of dollars. But most Cubans here, Jake, they have relatives in the U.S. in Florida. That is the sports the music they follow. And so for many Cuban officials who feel a kinship with Russia, for so many of their fellow citizens, they don't feel that kinship at all. And they see their future being as closer, you know, one that's closer to the United States rather than rather than Russia.

TAPPER: Matthew, why is Russia choosing to do this right now?

CHANCE: Well, I mean, Jake, look, I think timing is important. And this, this naval deployment by Russia, you know, comes just a few weeks after President Biden gave the approval for Ukraine to use U.S. supplied weapons to strike targets inside Russia that provoked a pretty furious response from the Kremlin with Vladimir Putin. The Russian president saying look, we can arm, we may arm the enemies of the United States now with Russian weapons.

Now there's no suggestion that there's a plan to arm Cuba with high tech modern Russian weaponry. But certainly the Russians want to send a message that they can be a nuisance, you know, on the doorstep of the United States.

TAPPER: All right, Patrick Oppmann and Matthew Chance in Moscow in Havana respectively. Thanks so much or the other way around.

A decision today handed down for Lia Thomas. Lia Thomas, the transgender swimmer. She identifies as a woman. She challenged the rules and an effort to compete in the upcoming Summer Olympic Games. We'll bring you that report, next.

Plus, is President Biden really making good on campaign promises to go after the super rich abusing the tax system? What about all that money given to the IRS to crack down on those abuses? The investigation that follows the money of those following the money, that's next.



TAPPER: In our Sports Lead today, transgender swimmer Lia Thomas's Olympic hopes have been dashed. Today the Court of Arbitration for Sport denied her challenge to the rules that banned her from elite women's races because she's a transgender woman. The World Aquatics governing body banned transgender women who went through puberty before transitioning from competing and women's races. The U.S. trials for the Paris Olympics start this weekend.

In our Money Lead, as both a sitting president and a presidential candidate, Joe Biden promised to go after super rich Americans who -- and large corporations who cheat on their taxes. Biden's 2022 Inflation Reduction Act gave the IRS an $80 billion boost to enforce tax law on the uber wealthy who were escaping it. So how is the agency doing these days? A new investigation by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists found that the IRS division that audits corporations and the wealthy flagged no more than 22 instances of possible tax crimes over the last five years, whereas small businesses and self-employed people were flagged 40 times more. Joining us now is Spencer Woodman the author of this story. Spencer, I have to say this is stunning. Last year, the IRS's large business division flagged just seven instances of possible tax cramps. The IRS got this $80 billion, taxpayer dollars through the Inflation Reduction Act, very controversial at the time, but they don't seem to be delivering.

SPENCER WOODMAN, REPORTER, INTERNATIONAL CONSORTIUM OF INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISTS: Well, yes, I mean, that's seven instances of possible crimes to possibly investigate further. You know, those areinternal criminal referrals. So we're not even sure what happened to those seven cases.

TAPPER: In a statement, the IRS defended its large business division. They say, quote, there are major differences between a large international corporation and any other for profit enterprise, internal controls and checks and balances generally limit the opportunity for criminal activity, unquote. So the IRS, they're basically saying these big corporations, they police themselves, they have their own internal compliance. So the odds that they're doing anything wrong there are pretty slim.

WOODMAN: Yes, you know, Jake, that was an interesting statement for us to get because at ICIJ, where I work, we have been reporting on misconduct and crimes committed by large accounting firms for many years. So sometimes it's actually the big accounting firms that get their clients in trouble, so a little bit of irony in that statement there.


TAPPER: So it does seem as though the billionaires and large corporations when it comes to paying taxes have a different set of rules than the rest of us. And it doesn't seem as though this much heralded $80 billion in this promise from President Biden has changed that am I wrong?

WOODMAN: Well, I think, you know, this new funding puts the IRS from what I gather in, it's at a pivotal moment where it has this funding that it's badly needed to, you know, potentially fulfill this promise that Biden made to go after and stand up to large corporations and wealthy individuals and make them pay their fair share.

However, you know, we all know that just throwing money at a problem doesn't always fix it. So, you know, we found a number of additional things that may need to happen. So for instance, when you mentioned the different rules, we found that the IRS is division that audits billionaires and large corporations, literally has their agents follow a set of rules, that leads to a friendlier audit experience and a more accommodating audit experience for large corporations and billionaires that is not afforded to small businesses in the United States.

We also found that the large business division, you know, from many different interviews that we did, it doesn't support agents in making criminal referrals to the Criminal Investigation Division. And, you know, we got a pretty strong sense that there's some frustration in the criminal division of the IRS that says, you know, officials in the Criminal Investigation Division say they don't feel supported in taking on the largest cases.

TAPPER: Supported by whom, by the leadership of the IRS?

WOODMAN: Supported by the office, that the large office within the IRS that is dedicated solely to auditing the wealthiest taxpayers.

TAPPER: There is this culture within the IRS's large business division as you as you kind of alluded to there of working it out with taxpayers, big businessmen and women rather than sending it up to the criminal division? What kind of precedent does that set?

WOODMAN: So the large business division at the IRS has established a pattern that gives the wealthiest taxpayers corporations and billionaires essentially full confidence or near full confidence that if they cheat on their taxes, the one of the -- I mean, the biggest cost of that is going to be getting audited and working it out civilly. That means repaying what they owed in the first place plus a civil penalty. They have essentially near confidence, near certainty that their cases will not be elevated by auditors to criminal investigators.

TAPPER: I wonder if one of the issues here when I think about, you know, reading in the past about General Electric paying no taxes or Amazon paying no taxes, I wonder if one of the issues is that wealthy corporations might not even need to cheat on their taxes because the tax code has been written for them to write off so many things, it's all legal.

WOODMAN: So, you know, the it's all legal argument, it kind of contradicts the rhetoric of the Biden administration and also the Treasury Department under Donald Trump. I mean, there's been a lot of research on the scale of illegal tax evasion, by the highest end of taxpayers.

TAPPER: All right, Spencer Woodman, thanks so much. Fascinating report.


We're going to be back in a second with our last leads, which includes a notable date on the calendar. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Law and Justice Lead, it's Loving Day, Loving Day, June 12th. That's the 57th anniversary of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of Loving v. Virginia, Mildred and Richard Loving, arrested in 1958 simply because they were a married interracial couple, something that the Commonwealth of Virginia did not legally allow. Nine years later on this date, the Supreme Court invalidated all state laws banning interracial marriage and even though that ruling invalidated such laws in 16 states, Alabama didn't get around to repealing their law until the year 2000. As William Faulkner once wrote, the past is never dead. It's not even passed.

And our Faith Lead, the Southern Baptist Convention narrowly rejected a formal ban on women pastors. Last year that convention approved an amendment to its constitution that would have prohibited churches from having women hold any pastoral title. The amendment needed to pass with a supermajority for two consecutive years it failed to do so, on the second vote today. However, the conventions official doctrine still says the Office of Pastor is limited to men.

In our National Lead, good times are coming according to a Lakota tribe prophecy that was fulfilled with the birth of this white buffalo in Yellowstone National Park. Chief Arvol Looking Horse of the Lakota says the birth of a white calf with a black nose, eyes and hooves is both a blessing and a warning. It's roughly akin, said the Chief, to the second coming of the Christ.


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