Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump Rallies GOP Lawmakers On Capitol Hill; Sen. Vance: "No Real Republican" Still Blames Trump For Jan. 6; Nathan Wade's Team Interrupts Interview With CNN; U.S. Supreme Court Upholds Access To Abortion Pill; Senate Republicans Block Democrats' IVF Rights Bill; Sen. Durbin: Justice Thomas Took More Trips Aboard GOP Megadonor's Private Jet Than Previously Known; Report: Having Two Kids In Daycare Is More Expensive Than Rent. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 13, 2024 - 17:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to The Lead. I'm Jake Tapper. This hour, major moves concerning America's reproductive rights. Just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to keep the abortion drug mifepristone on the market, there was a major vote in the Senate where Republicans blocked a bill that would guarantee access to IVF, in vitro fertilization, and OB GYN watching the impact of all of this in her own hospital is going to join us ahead.

Plus, new comments today from Fani Willis, the Georgia prosecutor with a criminal case against Donald Trump that seems to be on hold. One day after a CNN interview with Nathan Wade, her former staffer and romantic partner was interrupted, just as Kaitlan Collins started asking about the timing of the romantic relationship with District Attorney Willis.

And leading this hour what House and Senate Republicans are saying about their back to back meetings today with former President Donald Trump and that handshake with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Let's get straight to CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

And Manu, what are you hearing from the Republican lawmakers after their closed door meetings?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of the Republicans were very positive coming out of the meeting, even some of those who have been critical of the former president believing that this is a good effort to try to unify a party that has been badly divided. And some of the dissenters in the Senate Republican meeting actually did not even attend the meeting. So there was really not much dissension that was voiced within the room. In fact, Susan Collins of Maine, someone who voted to convict Donald Trump has not endorsed him, did not attend the meeting. Neither did Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.

And immediately after the meeting, I caught up with Senator Lisa Murkowski. And I asked her about her concerns within about her party getting behind Donald Trump so quickly, even though there has been some divisions. And whether she herself would support the former president.


RAJU: And you're still -- there's no chance you'll support him?

SEN. LISA MURKOWSKI (R-AK): I already made clear that I am not satisfied with either choice that we have in as Republicans or Democrats.

RAJU: Was it awkward being at that meeting given your position on Trump?

SEN. BILL CASSIDY (R-LA): I'm here to work for my state. I'm there for the workload. So it's not awkward to work with someone who hold -- show will be the next president. That's my job.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did he make any reference to the conviction vote?

CASSIDY: Yes (inaudible).

RAJU: Well, you're not supporting him yet, right?

CASSIDY: I don't know how -- see you all, guys.


RAJU: That last comment is from Senator Bill Cassidy, who was also one of the seven Republicans who voted to convict Donald Trump after January 6 has not endorsed Trump yet. And I asked him there if he's still going to support him now. But he didn't say that. But he did indicate that he believed that this was a positive meeting, which was the Congress with the most members voice even as Donald Trump gave a rather unwieldy, sometimes rambling speech to his -- to both the House and the Senate talking about a variety of things, airing out a number of grievances criticizing the conviction against him as terrible, calling the Justice Department dirty, no good bastards for one of the -- for one, not talking much about policy, but he did counsel Republicans about not going too far on the issue of abortion, warning them about political backlash if they do, and that certainly is one that has divided his party, but when he recognizes could be a problem for his party politically, if it's not handled the way voters want them to, Jake

TAPPER: And Manu, this was the first time that former President Trump and Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell reunited were in the same room together face to face. Since the 2020 election, Senator McConnell has had some very harsh things to say about Donald Trump. What do we know about this reunion?

RAJU: Yes, in fact, they actually agreed today, shook hands. I asked McConnell about it in the immediate aftermath of the meeting as well. And I said -- I asked him if they spoke, he said that they did shake hands. They seem to exchanged some pleasantries that the issues of all the bad blood between them simply did not come up, it seems. In fact, I asked this multiple senators about whether January 6 itself the attack at all in any capacity came up, the answer was resoundingly no. And of course, that's exactly what broke down the McConnell Trump relationship in the aftermath of January 6. McConnell called Donald Trump morally and practically responsible for the events of that day. They have not spoken since December of 2020 after Donald Trump -- after McConnell called Joe Biden the victory after the Electoral College certified the victory for Joe Biden they haven't spoken till today but despite their bad blood, despite Donald Trump attacking McConnell for months and months, including his wife and sometimes racist terms, none of that seem to matter today. And McConnell's ready to move on and apparently Donald Trump is to.


TAPPER: Buy guns. Manu Raju, thanks so much.

Let's bring in a panel of political voices and one of our journalists to weigh on and how this all could impact the election. Matt, let me start with you, Republican Congressman Tim Burchett described his conversation with Trump like this. He said, "I said, Mr. President, you do a good job of laying out all the bad things and we know that. But you do a better job of laying out how to fix those things. I encouraged him to do a lot more of that." What do you make of that, Matt?

MATT MOWERS, FORMER TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Oh, I think it's, you know, clearly Donald Trump is one of the most effective attack dogs in American politics. I mean, this is the guy who literally coming down that golden escalator in 2015, knew how to, you know, put a moniker on an opponent, whether it was low energy Jeb or crooked Hillary or you name it, but you have actually seen the campaign put out a lot more policy this go around which -- look, I was part of the 2016 campaign when it wasn't like there was a big policy team around the presidential race that year. You are seeing the agenda 45 coming out or agenda 47. President Trump's putting out a number of different policy issues, whether it's about how he's going to reform the bureaucracy, what he's going to do on tax code. You actually saw him just announced the other day in Nevada that he's going to actually eliminate a tax on tips, which is a direct appeal to wage workers in the blue collar class here in the United States.

And so, it's clearly shows that he's actually looking forward and maybe he's listening to Tim Burchett a little bit.

TAPPER: Former Congressman Delaney, Republican senator J.D. Vance, a top VP contender was asked today, how there can be unity around Trump when senior Republicans blame him for January 6. And we saw Lisa Murkowski and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, both of them voted to convict him after the impeachment hearing. Here is what JD Vance had to say.


SEN. JD VANCE (R-OH): I think that no real Republican with any critical landed party is still blaming him with January 6. Even frankly, some of his -- some of his critics were in the room and were supportive and are supportive. And so it's a good thing.


TAPPER: No real Republican with any credibility in the party is still blaming Trump for January 6. Do -- I know that you're a Democrat, but do you agree with that? And what does it say about Trump's hold on the party?

JOHN DELANEY, (D) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: You know, I used to think that JD Vance was a beautiful writer. And now when I listened to him, I don't know what he's talking about, right? There isn't unity in the Republican Party, because a lot of Republicans realize what happened on January 6 was a national embarrassment and a scar on our nation and our democracy. And they know Donald Trump's fingerprints are all over it. And a lot of good minded Republicans, in my opinion, like Paul Ryan, last week, came out and said, character integrity matters.

What happens on January 6 disqualifies Donald Trump in his judgment from being president of United States. Obviously, I agree with that, as do many Republicans. So there isn't unity in the Republican Party, and that's one of the problems that Donald Trump has, right? He will not consolidate the Republican base, this election. We'll do it.

TAPPER: But Eva McKend, I want to show you this picture. Look at who is surrounding former President Trump. OK, we got Senator Rick Scott, Senator Ron Johnson, Senator Roger Marshall, Senator John Barrasso, gave Trump a birthday cake with a 47 candle. He's obviously not 47. On the right, we got JD Vance, Josh Hawley, Senator Steve Daines, chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee. And look at this image, obviously, McConnell and Trump shaking hands even though as Manu points out, Trump has had some very harsh, even racist words about his wife, Manu said.

What does that tell you?

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: I think that this episode really illustrates that they view the former president as an asset and not a liability. And, you know, every Republican is going to run their own race, ultimately. But what Democrats have been doing to some effect is trying to tie even the most moderate Republican to the former president. This is a MAGA Republican. This is -- this, if you support this candidate, they are going to be in service to the MAGA agenda.

And I think this episode today, this sort of kissed the ring that we saw from elected Republicans really allows Democrats to continue to, I think, be able to advance that message.

TAPPER: And Senator Vance is also leading a new effort in the Senate by Republicans to block the fast tracking of President Biden's judicial nominees and U.S. attorney nominations for what Vance and his friends or his colleagues are calling the weaponization of government of the Justice Department against political opposition. Here is his offer to Democrats. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VANCE: The first to Democrats, and it's very simple, that if you guys stopped using the judicial system weaponized against your political opposition, we'd be happy to be more cooperative. So, take that as an offer. You guys need to stop. It's destroying the American people's faith in our system of law and order. And if you stopped it we'd be happy to try to let some of these nominations through.



TAPPER: Congressman, you're a Democrat. And he's -- that's your -- his offer to Democrats. What do you think?

DELANEY: Well, I think first of all, the premise is preposterous. This notion that the Democrats, some conspiracy of Democrats, are weaponizing the entire judicial system of the United States of America. It's preposterous. President Trump is now a convicted felon, convicted and, you know, decided by a jury of his peers, that is our system. JD Vance doesn't like the result of that. So his proposal is I will hold the government of the United States hostage and not do my job, not advanced nominations, not consider them not to all the things I'm supposed to be as U.S. senator, because I don't like the results of a trial in New York.

It's a ridiculous comment. And it's -- you know, it's -- when you're running for vice president, you pull over on the side of the road, and you get on some camera and you say stuff like that, and that's what we're seeing.

TAPPER: So Matt Mowers, we have some breaking news. I want you to respond to this. I don't even know what it says myself, former Congresswoman Liz Cheney, former House Republican leader in terms I think she was conference chair. Now she's out of the Congress and a very strong Trump critic, she just posted on Twitter or X about this McConnell Trump photo, saying in part, quote, "Trump and his collaborators will be defeated. And history will remember the shame of people like Leader McConnell, who enabled them." What's your take on Liz Cheney's words?

MOWERS: I'm not sure it's entirely news that Liz Cheney is not supporting Donald Trump. She's made that very clear.

TAPPER: Well, harsh words for McConnell.

MOWERS: It is. That's right. Well, you know, here's the thing to remember about Mitch McConnell is he is actually a principled ideological conservative. But when you look at the tactics, the input deploys, it's real politic. He sees Donald Trump as an imperfect vessel to advance a conservative agenda for four more years.

He also knows, to Eva's point, that actually it's not the worst thing to be a MAGA Republican to the key Senate states. When you're talking about Tim Sheehy against John Tester Montana, or Bernie Moreno against Sherrod Brown in Ohio, certainly, Jim Justice in West Virginia, Donald Trump's going to win all those states by at least eight points, in Montana, West Virginia to be 20 plus points. It's not a bad thing to be a Donald Trump MAGA Republican in those key states that they need to win to take control the Senate, Mitch McConnell knows it. And that's one of the reasons you saw unity coming out of the conference today.


MCKEND: Yes, I don't know if you would characterize it as principle. But we have seen above all else McConnell be strategic and he recognizes that he lost this fight. His vision of the party would not be Trump at the helm. He has made that clear. But he's run out of cards to play and he recognizes that a few months out from the election, they are -- he -- Trump is their guy.

TAPPER: Yes. There certainly is no other Republican presidential nominee that's going to appear. Thanks to one and all. Good to see everybody again.

Coming up, the interrupted CNN interview with the Georgia prosecutor Nathan Wade just as CNN's Kaitlan Collins was asking about the timing of his romantic relationship with District Attorney Fani Willis. Kaitlan is going to join us of course, with her thoughts on that, shall we call it a bizarre moment.

Plus, a story so many of you can identify with the skyrocketing cost of childcare. According to one report, two children and daycare is more expensive than rent in every single state in the United States. The ripple effect on families and entire communities, that's coming up.



TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, speaking at a church outside Atlanta, Georgia today Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said she is too busy working to concern herself with any insults thrown her way while District Attorney Willis did not directly mention former President Donald Trump and his effort to get her kicked off his election subversion case. Willis did acknowledge the scrutiny that she's under.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY: So when I declare all must be treated equally, and all must be held accountable, I had no idea that that was a controversial concept or topic for America. I had no idea by stating myth, it would make me a controversial figure that will become worthy of constant personal attacks, and death threats.


TAPPER: She is probably also of the mind that she had no idea that her romantic relationship with now former Fulton County special prosecutor Nathan Wade, who served under her, would come out and would be used against her. As for Wade's perspective, well, he let CNNs Kaitlan Collins know what he thinks about Willis and Trump's election subversion case. And CNN's Kaitlan Collins joins us now to talk about this.

So Kaitlan, this was a remarkable interview. Last night, I texted you immediately after it was over. Once you started to question him about the timeline of his relationship with Fani Willis, which was an obvious question that you were going to ask, any good reporter would ask and it's obviously the central issue as to the argument that Trump is making as to why she should be thrown off the case because the argument goes that they were using this to make money and go on trips and blah, blah, blah, the hiring of her lover. After you asked about the timing, there was this bizarre moment when Wade's team stopped the interview. Well, let's watch what happened.


KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Just to clarify, when did the romantic relationship between the two of you start?

NATHAN WADE, FORMER FULTON COUNTY SPECIAL PROSECUTOR: Yes, so you know, we get into -- there's been this effort to say that, OK, these exact dates are at issue and these exact dates are -- I'm getting signaled here.


COLLINS: Everything OK?

WADE: Yes.

COLLINS: Just to revisit the question, it was to clarify when the romantic relationships started and when it ended?

WADE: Sure. So, you know, I believe that the public has, through the testimony and other interviews, the public has a clear snapshot that this is clearly just a distraction. It is not a relevant issue in this case. And I think that we should be focusing on more of the facts and the indictment of the case.


TAPPER: I mean, kudos on the straight face. What do you make of all that?

COLLINS: I mean, it was the most remarkable moment of the interview, Jake, especially obviously, when his -- it was his media consultant who got up and came in that he was huddling in the corner there with, and obviously, as you saw, before that happened, he started to answer the question and kind of get into the confusion over the timeline, because they had testified, you know, one thing that it was before the August indictment of Donald Trump, and another moment he had said it was by the end of the -- of 2022. And so that was the confusion. And then obviously, you saw after that moment, he had a very different answer. And it was really just talking about how it wasn't relevant to the heart of this. Now, I will say two things. One, it was a pretty obvious question about the timeline, because that is really the central part of all of this. They testified about it when they were both on the stand. And secondly, Jake, obviously, this is a matter that is not resolved yet. This is still going before the Court of Appeals in Georgia.

It's why this case is entirely frozen right now. Judge McAfee can't do anything. And we likely won't hear anything on it until the spring at the earliest. And so, that case is not happening before the 2024 election. And so, it actually is quite important.

He made the point that what his relationship with was with Fani Willis isn't relevant to what's in the heart of the indictment. That's obviously true. But of course, as Judge McAfee noted, it's important to have credibility when you are prosecuting anyone, much less the former president of the United States.

TAPPER: Yes. And the judge has been fairly critical about whether or not District Attorney Willis has been completely forthright about the timing of this all. Did Wade show any remorse for his relationship with Fani Willis, which it potentially could derail the case against Trump? It is it seems to me the most consequential inter office relationship since President Clinton was in office.

COLLINS: Yes, it's obviously, you know, that instance where you're asking -- I asked him, you know, do you have any regrets about this? How are you reflecting on this now that it's been three months since he was forced to resign by the judge, where the judge said, either Fani Willis and the whole team has to go or Nathan Wade has to go and he resigned, obviously, as we saw in the letter that day. And what he said in that letter that day, Jake, was that he didn't want to be a distraction. He wanted for democracy this case to move forward. But of course, because of this, the case is not moving forward.

However, he told me he doesn't believe that his actions, his relationship with the district attorney played any role in this even though that is exactly what the Court of Appeals is going to be hearing in the motion to get Fani Willis off the case. And also Jake, I asked him at the end, does he regret having a relationship with Fani Willis? Was it a mistake to have a relationship with the district attorney? He said no, it was not, Jake. The only thing he regrets is the timing of it.

But of course the timing is central to all of this.

TAPPER: OK. Kaitlan Collins, good interview. Thanks so much. Appreciate it.

COLLINS: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Don't forget, you can watch Kaitlan tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on her show, "The Source."

The IVF legislation blocked just hours ago by Senate Republicans and just hours after the U.S. Supreme Court abortion decision. And OB-GYN is with me next with the impact of these issues on her patients. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Back with our health lead now. In today's huge blow to antiabortion activist, at least in the short term, the conservative leaning U.S. Supreme Court unanimously rejected a lawsuit against the FDA's policy that allows mifepristone, the widely used safe and effective abortion drug, the FDA says, to be mailed to patients without an in person doctor's visit. Meanwhile, this afternoon, Senate Republicans blocked a Democratic bill that would have protected Americans access to in vitro fertilization better known as IVF. It's part of a push by Democrats to try to distance themselves from Republicans ahead of November's election and spell out more differences between the two parties. All this comes just a day after delegates for the Southern Baptist Convention voted to oppose the use of IVF.

Joining us now to discuss, OB-GYN Dr. Anita Somani. She's also a Democratic member of Ohio State House of Representatives.

Dr. Somani, thanks so much for joining us. Let's start on the mifepristone ruling. By CNN's count 14 states completely ban abortion including medication abortion like mifepristone. Given that, what's your reaction, today's ruling? And what is next, do you think, for the fight over mifepristone?

DR. ANITA SOMANI, OBSTETRICIAN-GYNECOLOGIST: So while we're relieved that there's no changes to mifepristone, I still believe this is not a true win. You know, when you think about it, anti-abortion groups are going to continue to work on a national abortion ban. They're going to continue to threaten reproductive care regardless of the decision.

I think one of the things that people may not be aware of is that as you said, mifepristone is still very strictly restricted and or banned in several states. So this hasn't changed the ability for patients to access the care that they need.


TAPPER: The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that the doctors and anti- abortion groups have brought the challenge to the court didn't have standing to sue. That was that was the ruling, as you alluded to, therefore, the justices really didn't rule on the cases merits on whether the FDA should have ruled as it did on mifepristone. It was more than the individual -- the plaintiffs didn't have standing to even bring this to the court. Are you worried about future challenges that might have better standing?

SOMANI: Absolutely. You know, again, you've seen this over and over again with Roe v. Wade being overturned, you know, a cut by death by 1,000 cuts. So, yes, we are relieved in the short term. But in the long term, we really need to work on getting national abortion legalization, national protections for IVF, and continue to work at the state level to protect access to abortion and to reproductive care.

TAPPER: You just brought up IVF. Let's talk about IVF because Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas said there are no restrictions on IVF. And the Democrats bill in the Senate addressed a quote non- existent problem, unquote, what's your response?

SOMANI: Well, I would say that it's truly a problem because we saw that in Alabama with the personhood bill and then having to scramble and go back to protecting IVF care. It's despicable what they're doing. This agenda, this extreme anti-health care agenda, rather than building supportive families across the America rather than saying, yes, we want to support people's abilities to have a family, I can tell you as an OB-GYN, I have so many patients who have created families through the use of IVF.

Restrictions and bans on IVF are another way to restrict access to reproductive healthcare. Unfortunately, these restrictions are harmful, and they increase maternal mortality and every state that has abortion bans or tries to restrict reproductive care.

TAPPER: An interesting moment today in the world of social media, former Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley who opposes abortion, she posted about her support of IVF. She said in part, quote, IVF is pro-life. My children are blessings because of fertility procedures, unquote. Now that guide a lot of response as anything on social media does in some self-described, Christian conservative women replied, some examples include, quote, IVF, kills millions of children per year, unquote. Another person posted, no, Nikki, we should not be encouraging the buying, selling, eugenics, freezing, and murder of children, unquote.

Now look, as a religious matter, there are millions of people who think that life begins at conception. And that's the moment that a human being is created at either fertilization or implantation. But as a medical matter, as a medical matter, what is an embryo?

SOMANI: So, as medical matter, an embryo is a cluster of cells. Heartbeat, the fetal heartbeat does not become -- it's a electrical signal that truly is not a heart that we would think of in the medical sciences until further into the second trimester. So this idea that life begins at conception is really not. It's not rooted in science. And we need to think about the fact that religion should not play a role. Politicians should not play a role, legislation should not play a role in the decisions that come between the patient and the physician.

I think we have to go back to looking at this from a perspective of science. Abortion is the only medical procedure that has been regulated in the way that it has with political and religious overtones. And that should never be the case. As an OB-GYN, I look at abortion as I look at any part of my reproductive practice. It's part of what we do. It's part of what we can offer, just like we can offer IVF to help a family. We can also offer abortions when you have a situation where the mom's life is in danger, or the fetus has an anomaly or a defect that would not allow it to survive. So it's unfortunate that people have conflated the two things. TAPPER: Dr. Somani thanks for your time today. Appreciate it.


The breaking news you heard here first on THE LEAD, new claims about U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, top seven Democrat says, Thomas has taken more trips in previously disclosed trips paid for by a GOP mega donor. I'm going to ask a retired judge about these new claims, that's next.



TAPPER: Our Law and Justice Lead now, brand new claims by a Democratic senator and Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin. The U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has taken more trips than previously known and the dime of Republican mega donor, Harlan Crow. Durbin claims that Thomas flew on Crow's private jet during trips within the United States in 2017, 2019, 2021, as well as on a previously known 2019 trip to Indonesia, where Thomas and his wife stayed on Crow's mega yacht.

Senator Durbin says Thomas did not disclose these trips on his financial forms. It is a question as to whether or not the rules were as clear cut then as they are now.

With us now to discuss retired Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, the author of "Her Honor." Judge Cordell we have these new claims from Senator Dick Durbin about Justice Thomas. CNN's Joan Biskupic gave us some context last hour. Thomas defenders are saying there has been some ambiguity whether personal hospitality needs to be reported. What do you make of this all?

LADORIS HAZZARD CORDELL, RETIRED JUDGE: Well, Jake, the plot thickens. And thank you for inviting me back. It seems like as these lavish gifts that Clarence Thomas has taken as they increase, the public's respect for the High Court is just sinks even lower and lower. So let me to kind of put this in context. In California, there's a flat rule, no gifts, no gifts for judges, no box of candy that the lawyer drops off for the court staff at Christmas, no paying for judge's cup of coffee, no free tickets to music concerts. Pay your own way.


The reason that rule exists is because the purpose of gifts, why do we give gifts, is to get the recipient to like you. And if the judge likes you, it's harder for the judge to rule against you. So in this case, Clarence Thomas continues to receive these gifts. He's come up with every excuse. I'm surprised he hasn't blamed his wife, because that seems to be the thing now. He doesn't blame Ginni for this. So he has basically said, well, yes, I should have maybe, but maybe the rule wasn't clear.

If a defendant had come into a judge's court with that kind of an excuse, the judge would have said, you know, not happening and sent them off to jail or whatever. So in this instance, you know, I can hear one excuse for this is like, I can take these big gifts, and I can still be fair, I can still be fair. And the judge may believe it. But the point is, there is a perception that the judge cannot be fair, because there's a conflict, you've taken all this gifts and money, all these things from people who then in some way or another appear in front of you.

Perception is as important as an actual conflict. Why? Because if the public perception is that the judge is conflicted, then the public's trust in the institution is eroded. And without the public's trust, respect for the court has gone and with it the courts authority. So the only remedy for any of this for Clarence Thomas, is to recuse himself. If you've taken gifts, and someone appears in front of you, and or has an interest you recuse yourself. And he has continued to not do that.

TAPPER: Yesterday, Senate Republicans blocked an effort by Senate Democrats to pass ethics and transparency legislation for the U.S. Supreme Court. Republicans say Democrats are doing this for revenge because they don't like how the Supreme Court's ruling on Roe v. Wade, and other matters. What is your opinion? Does the Supreme Court need a fresh code of ethics? And if so, who would enforce it?

CORDELL: So first off, I taught Judicial Conduct and ethics at California's Judges College for more than a decade. And that's what is needed for all of the Supreme Court justices. They need to take a course in ethics. And they also need a no gifts rule. Absolutely. They get paid, what, the six figure salary. And if they feel like they need to have more, then they should not be on the court, take a job in the private sector. When you do public service work, yes, you're going to make less money but less for these people.

I mean, most people could make what they're making, they'd be very happy. So the code of ethics, there -- it now exists only because of public pressure. And it should be, you can write in a code of ethics, the enforcement mechanism. You can put one in that says that there is a separate, independent tribunal. It could be made up of federal judges for various courts. That could be the ones to implement to say, judge, you must recuse yourself, for example. And the judge would have to do it.

TAPPER: All right. Retired Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, thank you so much. Always good to see you.


There's a lot of talk about that -- there's a lot to talk about in terms of gas prices and groceries and rent and more. There's one cost outpacing all of them. And that is the cost of child care, an incredible toll so many of you know all too well. Is anything being done to bring down the cost of childcare? Stay with us.


[17:48:18] TAPPER: Our Money Lead now, there is a childcare crisis happening right now across the United States as I probably do not need to tell most of you. A new report shows that if you have two kids, your childcare is actually more expensive than rent in every single state. And in 11 states plus here in Washington D.C., it's double. CNN's Meena Duerson meets with a Wisconsin daycare owner who is closing her doors next month for good leaving 60 families scrambling.


SUSAN ELANDT, OWNER, MY FIRST ADVENTURE CHILDCARE: I had a mom who has jobs started right at 5:00. But I backed up my hours to 4:45. So she could drop her child off in order to get across town to work. It's like, OK, I can give you 15 minutes in the morning so that you can get there and get that door open for whatever it is you need to do so that you can help the people that you're helping.

MEENA DUERSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the small city of Waupaca, Wisconsin, my first adventure childcare is a fixture, helping families before the sun even rises.

ELANDT: Most of our parents from the drop off are like I could never do what you do.

Oh, did you not sleep last night?

And my response was, well, I can't do what you do either. So I'll watch your kids and you go do that because I'm better at this.

Goodbye to mom.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Who's going to hold this?

DUERSON (voice-over): Across the country, more than 12 million kids under the age of five are in childcare at least once a week, care that's become increasingly difficult for their parents to afford.

In the last three decades, the cost of child care has risen at nearly twice the rate of inflation. A recent report found having two kids in daycare is more expensive than rent in every single state. In 11 states in Washington, D.C., IT costs double the average rent.

CRYSTAL VIDA, PARENT: It's so expensive with two kids that come every day full time. It's double our mortgage. I mean we make a good living but it's so much.


DUERSON: Your childcare is double your mortgage?

VIDA: Yes, yes. Easily. Probably more than double our mortgage.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My First Adventure Childcare. This is Susan.

DUERSON (voice-over): It's not just hard on parents. Running these centers is so expensive, owners like Susan Elandt struggle to make the math work.

ELANDT: If you were going to pay your teachers what they were worth, even based off of basic education and experience, you would need to charge the parents so much that you would have no children in your center nor could parents afford care.

DUERSON: Can you explain that to me like how -- where's all the money go?

ELANDT: In addition to all your usual utilities, we also have insurance. The insurance for childcare is very high, the mortgage on the building and property taxes and personal taxes and go on with that. And then they're also licensing fees, background check costs, there's paint and paper and Play-Doh, and then there's food on top of it. It's locked.


DUERSON (voice-over): The biggest cost and challenge Elandt says is staffing.

DUERSON: What's the turnover like?

ELANDT: For staff?


ELANDT: It's high. I had a staff member leave me a couple of months ago. She's like one of the work in a factory. He or she needed to make a living.

DUERSON (voice-over): The federal government has put more than $52 billion towards supporting child care since the beginning of the pandemic, like many providers, Elandt use that money to raise salaries from $8 or $9 an hour to at least $12.

DUERSON: If you had to put the salaries back to where they were before you got this funding help.

ELANDT: They'd all quit every last one of them.


DUERSON (voice-over): Even with the wage bumps, childcare workers are still some of the lowest paid workers in the country. Here in Wisconsin, the median hourly wage 13.78 an hour doesn't even qualify as a living wage, and in some cases is classified as poverty level.

LYDIA HIGGINS, TEACHER, MY FIRST ADVENTURE CHILDCARE: It's very humbling to go to work every day and pass help wanted signs at McDonald's and Hardee's and they are paying more money than child care providers can afford to pay their staff.

DUERSON (voice-over): Lydia Higgins is a teacher at My First Adventure. She took the job because childcare was so hard to find. The only way to get her daughter a spot was to join the staff. HIGGINS: I actually just went back to waitressing for the first time in a decade to kind of help supplement our income.

DUERSON: What's the money like waitressing versus childcare?

HIGGINS: I can make one night waitressing my entire week's pay and so that --

DUERSON: In the childcare?


DUERSON (voice-over): The federal support that helps center stay open since 2020 has largely expired creating what's been dubbed a childcare cliff, more than 70,000 programs are projected to close from the strain.

ELANDT: I love you too.

DUERSON (voice-over): My First Adventure will soon be one of them. After eight years in business Elandt announced she's shutting the center down, leaving more than 60 families scrambling for alternative childcare.

ELANDT: No getting sidetracked.

DUERSON: When you got the notification that they were closing. What was that like for you?

VIDA: I started panicking and like applying to every other daycare in town, none of them have any spots. I texted my boss and I said I might have to quit my job because I don't know what I'm going to do with my kids. We don't have family. So it's just us.

DUERSON: Why do you think childcare is important?

VIDA: As a woman, how am I going to work if I can't drop my kids off? Yes.

DUERSON (voice-over): Childcare funding is now up to the states. In Wisconsin, some emergency funding will last into 2025. But the long term solution remains an open question. My First Adventure won't be here to see it. The center will close in July.

DUERSON: How's it going to feel for you, when you close up shop?

ELANDT: That day will be really, really hard because I remember when I first walked in, and I remember all those hopes and those dreams and everything that I was going to build. And I tried to remind myself that I did do that. Childcare is essential to a functioning economy. I want people to not take the programs that they have their children in for granted, because they might not be there forever. I thought, you know, I would be and I'm not.

(END VIDEOTAPE) DUERSON (on camera): So as you can see, this is an issue that is really bigger than the individual family. It's bigger than the childcare provider. It's a system that is pretty broken. And it's not really working for anybody and the solutions are not coming fast enough to save, you know, families that are struggling with these institutions that are on the verge of shutting down. There's just not enough money to keep everything going, you know, the way that that people really need.

TAPPER: Meena Duerson, welcome to CNN. Welcome to THE LEAD.

DUERSON: Thank you.

TAPPER: And keep bringing us stories like that about the struggles of everyday Americans really, really important stuff. And that was really, really well done. Thanks so much.

DUERSON: Thanks.


TAPPER: We're back with last leads, next.



TAPPER: Our last leads start today and are out of this world lead, a scheduled spacewalk on the International Space Station was postponed today. The six and a half hour space hike was canceled due to an as yet unexplained spacesuit discomfort issue. What would have been NASA's 90th spacewalk was called off about an hour before it was supposed to begin the astronauts were going to remove a faulty electronics box and collect samples from the station's exterior.

In our National Lead, the heroic rescue of, Misty, a dog that fell 30 feet down a volcanic fissure in Hawaii. Misty's owner immediately reached out to Kawika Singson because Singson is an avid hiker that he had seen rescue dogs on social media before, Singson made the nine- hour trip and repelled down into the dark. After a few reassuring head pats, Misty was safely carried out and reunited with her owner. That is awesome.


We're now exactly two weeks out from the CNN presidential debate with President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. I will be moderating the discussion with my colleague, Dana Bash. That is Thursday, June 27th, 9:00 p.m. Eastern streaming on Max. Don't miss it.

If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen to the show whence you get your podcasts. The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call "THE SITUATION ROOM." I'll see you tomorrow.