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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump Celebrating 78 Birthday At Mar-A-Lago; DOJ Won't Prosecute AG Garland After House Contempt Vote; Dems Already Planning To Fight Trump's Agenda; Princess Catherine To Attend First Event Since Cancer Diagnosis; Pope Francis Hosts More Than 100 Comedians At The Vatican; Conspiracy Theorist Alex Jones Ordered To Liquidate Personal Assets To Pay Families Of Sandy Hook Victims; Exhibit Honors Nova Festival Victims & Survivors. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired June 14, 2024 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A long-awaited update on the health.

THE LEAD starts right now.

New information from the princess of Wales, saying she's making good progress after her cancer diagnosis, and the big plan she announced for this upcoming weekend. There remains one outstanding mystery, however.

Plus, hundreds of comedians walk into the Vatican. This is not a joke. It actually happened earlier today. What Pope Francis told Fallon Colbert, Conan, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg, Julia Louis-Dreyfus and others in the star studded cast of characters.

But first, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on several major cases today, but not on the January 6 immunity case, which could have a big impact on the upcoming presidential election. How this frees up Donald Trump to focus on debates and running mates.


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

We're going to start off in the 2024 leads. So let's queue some election music. There it is, the election jam.

There are now 144 days left until the presidential election and just 13 until the very first presidential debate between President Biden and former President Trump, which will be we here on CNN.

And any day now, we could get a major decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. The justices are weighing whether former President Donald Trump is immune from prosecution for his actions while he was in office. That ruling is critical if Trump wants to clear the remaining legal clouds hanging over him.

Those clouds, including the investigation into the January 6 riots, as well as allegations over what he may have done with classified documents he took with him after he lost the election.

And while we are watching to see what the highest court in the land does, Trump's main opponent is across the Atlantic Ocean, President Biden, just moments away, from leaving Italy after the G7 summit of world economic superpowers, after wrapping up meetings with other world leaders and a private conversation with His Holiness, Pope Francis.

Former President Trump has spent the last few days surrounded by House and Senate Republicans. They sang "happy birthday" and presented Trump with a birthday cake, a day before the birthday. And he received this early present, a handshake from Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell, one of his most vocal critics within the Republican Party.

Mr. Trump also indicated to a Fox reporter that his vice presidential pick was probably someone who had been in the room with him.


REPORTER: Was your pick for VP in that room with you?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Probably, yeah. Probably. I don't want to go, but probably. I think we'll probably announce it during the convention.

REPORTER: Do you know who your VP is?

TRUMP: I have sort of a pretty good idea, with some really talented people.


TAPPER: President Trump's 78th birthday.

I want to go straight out to CNN's Kristen Holmes, who has been reporting on Trump for years and is live in West Palm Beach, Florida.

Kristen, how is Trump celebrating his 78th birthday? I know he's not a big fan of that number, 78.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. I mean, he's very aware of the fact that that's just right behind Joe Biden, that most of America believes that both candidates going into November are very old, the one thing he doesn't want to focus on it all. You almost never hear Donald Trump talking about Biden's age, only instead of attacking his mental fitness for office.

But Donald Trump is spending this day like he spends most days, surrounded by people who really support him. This is called Trump 47. This is the club of some of his biggest supporters in Florida.

And, Jake, I do want to add one piece of new reporting that we have just gotten it and its how he spent the de before his birthday, you mentioned that upcoming debate. We did learn while he was in D.C., held a, quote/unquote, policy session with close advisors, as well as Senators Marco Rubio and Eric Schmitt. They are not saying this was debate prep, but acknowledged that sessions like this will inevitably help Donald Trump when it comes to that debate.

One thing on the agenda that they spoke about yesterday, talking about democracy and what they believed to be the inevitable questions around January 6, his role, the attack on January 6. So, clearly, trying to put in some of the legwork here.

Again, Donald so Trump's team saying this is not debate prep that Donald Trump is not going to prep for that debate in two weeks. Instead, he is going to sit down for interviews, hold these policies sessions as well as take questions from voters -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks so much.

To breaking news in the law and justice lead now. The Justice Department just announced it will not seek to prosecute the head of the Justice Department, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland.


This decision not surprising after this week's dramatic House vote holding Garland in contempt of Congress for not handing over the audio of President Biden's interview in the special counsel's classified documents investigation of him.

Let's bring in CNN's Evan Perez.

Evan, walk us through the decision.

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the decision by the department to not turn over the audio from President Biden's interview with Rob Hur last October is based on the fact that the president has asserted executive privilege. And for that reason, the department today notified -- notified Speaker Johnson that the Justice Department is not going to take any action.

I'll read you just a part of what -- what he's -- what the letter says from the Justice Department. It says this is a long-standing position and uniform practice. The department determined that the response of the attorney general to the subpoenas did not constitute a crime, and therefore will not be brought to a grand jury. And there will be no prosecution.

So, not a huge surprise as you pointed out, Jake. But what happens next, we don't know, right? The Congress could try to do something like inherent contempt, something that was done in 1934 where they locked up a former member of the cabinet to a -- or, a member of the administration at the time, and they locked him up in the Willard Hotel.

Could they do that with Attorney General Merrick Garland? We'll see what they tried to do next, but for now, right now, this is the final answer from the Justice Department.

TAPPER: All right. Evan Perez, thanks so much.

Let's spring a panel of our political voices and our political journalist to weigh in.

Let me start with you, Olivia, Olivia Weavers from "Politico".

Welcome. This is your first time in THE LEAD, yeah?


TAPPER: All right, welcome. Good to have you here.

BEAVERS: Thank you.

TAPPER: So let's start with the fact that I think the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Congressman Jim Jordan, also failed to comply with a congressional subpoena, right?

BEAVERS: There's a lot of hypocrisy on the hill and we saw that with Steve Bannon as well back when they were looking into the Russia investigation. And Republicans tried to get him to come in. He refused.

And they went through --

TAPPER: Democrats tried to get him.

BEAVERS: Democrats refused, and Republicans were mad about it at first and then they said, oh, well, that's sort of the tack that you take on the Hill.

In this situation, they're not done fighting yet. It might just be a pause because they're already hinting that they're going to be going through a legal recourse to try to get that audio. And that will take time. So it's quite unlikely that they will be able to achieve that by the time the election rolls around.

TAPPER: In light of Republicans claiming that the Department of Justice has been politicized, what are your reactions to all of this, Shermichael?

SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, look, a lot of Republican voters actually believed that. And if you spent some time talking to folks in the act of his base, they will tell you what they believe are some of the charges and cases against the former president are weaponization of the government. They would say this is political warfare, if you will, and that's why you're sort of seeing some individuals connected to Project 2025 stated that --

TAPPER: Project 2025 is a bunch of conservatives talk -- basically laying out like an almost 1,000 page outline for what they would like to happen in the Trump administration.

SINGLETON: Correct. And that's why many have stated that they want to centralize power, more so with the executive to sort of prevent what they would argue are unelected bureaucrats making it difficult for the executive to do their job. So, this posturing from the elected officials, its coming from the

voters, its why I think you see many politicians down the Republican side taking the positions that they're taking.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I'm not so sure its coming from voters as mentioned, it's coming from Donald Trump, who probably in that closed-door meeting, you know, re-emphasize that he wants them to do everything they can, both in the Senate and the House, to make life miserable for the Biden administration. And that the goal here -- having been serving the Clinton administration, know this very well, right? Every time you're getting those requests for information or documents, right, it means you have to stop what you're doing and you spend half of your day dealing with that, right?

And so in this instance, they are bound and determined to try to get this dark -- this audio, which I think they believe will make President Biden look bad. I think there are some who believed that they don't want to set that precedent. Obviously, I'll be honest. Lots of administrations hide behind the precedent arguments. I'm not going to go defend or decry that.

TAPPER: Yeah, Attorney General Bill Barr also.

FINNEY: Correct, absolutely. I obviously disagreed with his decision, but that's a different story.

Anyway but no, I think this is more about the performative nature of what we're going to be seeing between now and the election where Congress is going to do everything they can. Republicans, to make the president look bad, to make -- to go after members of his administration, if they think they can leverage that to, in some way go after the president, rather than actually doing their job.

TAPPER: So Trump made his first trip to Capitol Hill since he left office, and certainly since January 6 to project unity among Republicans. Since Nikki Haley dropped out of the race, though, we should note, she keeps racking up votes and primaries, including double-digit totals in swing states.


Arizona, almost 18 percent, Georgia, more than 13 percent, Pennsylvania, 16.4 percent, Wisconsin, 12.7 percent.

Do you think, Shermichael, that Donald Trump has made an effective enough case to win those voters back? Because I know that the Biden campaign, I don't know how effectively they're going after them either, but the Biden campaign thinks that they could pick up some of those Nikki Haley voter.

SINGLETON: I mean, I think some of the Nikki Haley voters voted for President Biden in 2020 if you look at the data. They're going to vote for him in November of this year. I think a part of the former president strike strategy by coming to Capitol Hill was a showcase that party leadership is indeed coalescing around him, including members on the Senate side who are far more skeptical of the former president than individuals on the House.

I think the party is going to have to start making direct efforts at trying to articulate some messages to some of those more moderate- leaning suburbanite Republican voters, who certainly don't want to vote for President Biden again, some of them are open to Donald Trump, but they're wondering if the posture and is going to be what it was four years ago. And I don't think the campaign has done enough to do that yet.

TAPPER: Do you think that the Biden campaign has done enough to go after Nikki Haley voters?

FINNEY: I do. And there's actually a lot that's going on not on the -- not publicly, but underneath the surface to have --

TAPPER: The plot thickens.


SINGLETON: I wonder, what is it?

TAPPER: Yeah, what is it, Karen?

FINNEY: Well, stay tuned.


FINNEY: Yeah. But look, I mean, to have private conversations with different groups of voters to say -- to explore their interests in more publicly supporting the president.

Can I make one point though quickly about this unity message? Ironically, so supposedly this was about unity, but then ironically, whereas president -- former President Trump has said, oh yeah, don't worry about us on contraception and IFV. And yet yesterday, Republicans blocked a vote on codifying IVF. Last week, they blocked a vote on codifying access to contraception.

So there are actual cracks here in terms of where they stand on different issues.

TAPPER: So, Olivia, you've been reporting on what advice Republicans on Capitol Hill are giving Donald Trump --


TAPPER: -- about the running mate he should pick. Other than it should definitely be one of us --

BEAVERS: Actually, you did actually get that with some of the ones who are considered vice presidential contenders.

Nikki Haley's name came up a lot, and some of them said, I still think she has a chance, but if she doesn't, we want someone who pulls in voters that she attracted. Tim Scott was a name that we heard a ton, but they acknowledged that it could be other people as well. TAPPER: Byron Donalds really out there making the case for himself on

CNN this morning.

BEAVERS: And he was the one who made the same joke to me that it should be him.

He, Donalds is a little bit more conservative and leaning into the populist wing, then I would say the Nikki Haley voters, he's Freedom Caucus. And he has had its moments of being a rebel in the house with Speaker McCarthy. Haley I think was a little bit more mainstream.

FINNEY: I would predict that if he names Byron Donalds, Joe Biden- Kamala Harris will win because Black voters are not going to --


TAPPER: You're bullish on your former boss, Dr. Ben Carson, still? I saw there was an article in "The New York Times' saying, don't count him out. It included quotes from our interview with him on "STATE OF THE UNION", but also it said like the person who keeps on bringing up Ben Carson is Donald Trump.

SINGLETON: Well, he likes Dr. Carson. Have a great relationship. They talked pretty regularly and actually this weekend, they will be together. So let's just see what happens, Jake.

FINNEY: Tell us more.


TAPPER: Vice President Carson's chief of staff, Shermichael, there.

Coming up -- thanks so much and thanks again for joining us. I hope to have you back soon.

Coming up, in a rare update, Princess Kate is saying she's making good progress against her cancer. She announces shell be making her first public appearance very soon. Everything we're hearing out of Kensington Palace, that's coming up.

And Pope Francis meets with over 100 comedians to the Vatican, including Stephen Colbert and Whoopi Goldberg and Chris Rock and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Jimmy Fallon. Which one of them crept up behind the pope to photo bomb him? We'll show you the video.



TAPPER: In our politics, there are times when campaigns are on offense. Other times, they're playing defense. Democrats at this moment trying to do both at the same time and they are taking an offensive stance to be in a position to respond to Trump's agenda if Mr. Trump is elected in November.

But as former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld said back in the day about Iraq there are unknowns, unknown unknowns. What is known about Mr. Trump's agenda is at a coalition of conservatives who support Donald Trump has created something called Project 2025. It's an effort to form a broad agenda to implement if Trump wins in November.

Now, Democrats have recently launched the Stop Project 2025 Taskforce.

And here to explain what's going on, is Congressman Jared Huffman, a Democrat from California, who is part of the Stop Project 2025 Taskforce.

You've said Project 2025 agenda will hit like a blitzkrieg.

What is exactly -- what are you concerned about here?

REP. JARED HUFFMAN (D-CA): Everything. If you read this manifesto, it's almost 1,000 pages. You see it touches every part of the federal government, touches our individual liberties. It touches all of our institutions. It touches democracy itself.

So these are the most inner circle thought leaders of Donald Trump's world telling us that they're going to roll this out on day one, they hope to have it all done within the first 180 days of a Trump presidency.

So I think you're right at the top of this segment, Jake, that this is a case where offense is the best defense and that's what this task force is going to try to do.

TAPPER: So, has President Trump officially said that this is his blueprint? This is his agenda because as -- I'm sure you recall, he didn't actually even have a platform in 2020 when he -- when he ran for reelection.

HUFFMAN: He doesn't need to say.

TAPPER: Who's in charge? Russ Vought, is that the guy in charge?

HUFFMAN: Russ Vought is one of the authors, but you've got Stephen Miller, you got Peter Navarro. I mean, it is a who's who of Trump's inner circle, and over 100 conservative groups.

So this is not an idle threat. That is what Steve Bannon and others call their war plans.

TAPPER: Yeah, it's -- they believe in this. It's almost 1,000 pages as you note.


Tell us the -- if you can narrow it down, what is the one item or two items that you are most alarmed by?

HUFFMAN: It's hard because so much of it is alarming. But let's just take the innocuous sounding schedule F civil service reform. What they propose to do is to fire tens of thousands of government employees across all federal agencies, and to replace them with people that come through these ideological boot camps, they get on these databases maintained by the Heritage Foundation.

And those are going to be your new federal workforce, basically, Trump sycophants to do whatever Donald Trump tells them to do. It's a loyalty test and they call it their army. So, that -- that's pretty alarming.

TAPPER: So they would argue there are unelected bureaucrats in the government. And they don't respond to anybody and they're protected by all sorts of labor laws. And what we want is people who will enact President Trump's agenda. And if President Trump wins, then that means that he has the support of the public as opposed to these unelected bureaucrats, how would you respond to that argument?

HUFFMAN: Well, there's a reason over 100 years ago, Teddy Roosevelt put the civil service system in place. We need continuity of government. We need people who know what they're doing, working as food inspectors and air traffic controllers and doing other important government functions. We don't need some MAGA loyalty test deciding how we fill all these jobs.

TAPPER: So the president or the conservative Heritage Foundation said that Project 2020 is part of this -- Project 2025 will not be hindered by, quote, an unserious, mistake riddled press release or task force of House Democrats lacking a basic understanding of federal governance, unquote. That's what they say about you.

Your thoughts?

HUFFMAN; Well, I think we do know a thing or two about governance and were deeply concerned by what they've laid out -- what they've told us very clearly that they're going to do. Because I honestly without hyperbole, Jake, if they're successful here, it means the end of American democracy, as we know it. And we're not going to just roll over and let them do that.

TAPPER: So this is your first time on the lead, I believe. But you've been in Congress for 12 years, just slightly older than the show and before this, you were in assemblyman, but also you are an environmental lawyer for the National Resources Defense Council. Is there -- what's it -- just because I'm sure your constituents and people in the environmental community want to know, what are you concerned about in Project 2025 having to do with the environment?

HUFFMAN: Well, you'll find plenty to be concerned about there. Some of it is not new. I'm on the natural resources committee ideal with these fossil fuel industry agendas all the time. So they're going to certainly wipe away all the climate actions, for example, that President Biden and the Democratic Congress did with the Inflation Reduction Act and other landmark legislation.

But they're going to go a lot further. Chevron deference is going to be completely gone. The administrative state will be completely dismantled. So you won't see regulations the way we've come to depend on them in many cases, environmental protections of every kind are going to be in the crosshairs, and we're going go back to a fossil fuel influenced policy for both energy and climate, out of the Paris agreement.

But we've known that. That's not the new part of project.

TAPPER: Yeah. That sounds like it would be whatever any Republican running for office, that would be their position.

HUFFMAN: Exactly.

TAPPER: That's a pretty conservative --

HUFFMAN: Standard fare.


HUFFMAN: The new and alarming piece that the American people really need to understand in this task force is going to help to spotlight it, is the attack on our democratic institutions, our individual freedoms and rights, church-state separation, things that will potentially irreversibly break America as we know it.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Jared Huffman, Democrat of California, thanks so much for being here. Come back, talk -- talk more about this. There's 1,000 pages of it.

And we should also extend an invitation to the people behind Project 2025 to come on THE LEAD and talk about your agenda, what you've want President Trump to achieve should he be elected in November.

Coming up, Catherine, Princess of Wales, provides a rare update on her battle against cancer and tells us when we can expect to see her publicly again. That's ahead.



TAPPER: Back with our world lead and an encouraging update on Catherine the princess of Wales, who announced that she will make her first public appearance of 2024 tomorrow, three months after revealing her shocking cancer diagnosis, which came after weeks of intense speculation over her whereabouts. In a written statement today, Princess Catherine says she's making, quote, good progress, but she conceded she's still not, quote, out of the woods.

We should note the remaining giant mysteries here. The public still does not know what type of cancer she or her father-in-law, King Charles, are fighting right now.

Let's bring in CNN'S royal correspondent, Max Foster, in Buckingham Palace, and CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Max, royals watchers, they're hungry for news. How do you expect Saturday to go? MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Saturday, we'll see her in

the flesh for the first time since Christmas, so the first time this year and the crowds already gathering. There are royal fans camping out overnight, which I'm not sure would've been the case without Kate.

But we'll see her tomorrow if everything goes as planned, come out from Buckingham palace in a carriage with her children. I think the optics are quite prescient here because a lot of what she's talking about is supporting the children, getting them on track behind the scenes, building that up before she appears in public. So we'll see how with the kids throughout the day, she'll go up to the parade ground, watch a military parade, come back down in a carriage procession with all the cavalry.


And then we'll see her come out on the balcony for that shot that you're very familiar with, I'm sure, where all the family comes out, and there'll be a huge crowd out in front, and I think it's a big moment for the UK.

Having said all of that, she's saying she's having good days and bad days. So, each event will be considered on the day effectively and on the doctor's advice. So she may not feel like she's having a good day and she may decide to pull out, but what the palace is very keen to emphasize is that we shouldn't read too much into that. This is expected.

She's also planning some appearances over the summer, but they're not going to confirm them until the last minute. So she's back at work, but it's a very slow stepping back into work if you like, and we shouldn't read this as anything like full-time return to duty.

She says she's really appealing for privacy, saying part of the process and the therapy is going on for another few months as we understand it. Part of the process is to get stronger behind the scenes and get her family strong before she comes out in public.

TAPPER: Dr. Gupta, Princess Kate did not reveal what type of cancer she's fighting. We know it was discovered during, quote, major abdominal surgery.

What do you think are the possibilities here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, there's a lot of possibilities and I got to tell you, I mean, several doctors have been texting me an email me telling me what they think, but the reality is, we don't know, and it's speculative. I mean, there are so many things that would fall under major abdominal surgery -- uterus, ovaries, colon, liver, you know, all these things.

What we do know is what you see on the screen there. She did have that operation back in January. Now, this has been going on for some time.

Originally, it was thought to be non-cancerous. So what happens is they do the operation, and they're looking under the microscope at the tissue and that's probably when they discover that its cancerous and subsequently, as you know, Jake, and February is when she started this chemotherapy and, you know, so several months now.

Depending on what the type of cancer is, what the type of therapy is, that time type of chemotherapy can last several months, six to nine months, with some degree of frequency.

People -- as Max was just saying, some people may feel just fine one day, but even hour to hour, surely day-to-day, it can change their level of fatigue. Their mood even, the overall impact on their body. But again to your question, Jake, we just don't know and that's -- that's been, you know, we'd been speculating.

They want their privacy and they're certainly entitled to that.

TAPPER: We still don't know as we've discussed. What kind of cancer she has. What might that say though about her improving condition if she said to participate in this major event tomorrow in terms of what she's going through.

GUPTA: Yeah. I think, you know, looking at that really lovely picture of her and then hearing that she's thinking about that, those are certainly -- those are certainly good signs, but these can be very fluctuating signs as well when it comes to this type of therapy.

People can have sudden onset of fatigue and other physical elements from the therapy, where they may feel just fine. Because we don't know what kind of cancers, we don't know what stage if cancer is. We don't know what the chemo actually entails specifically, that makes it just -- it's just challenging, Jake.

Again, I could speculate. A lot of doctors have been speculating. I just think it's probably unfair because we don't know enough information, and that's okay. It's okay not to know enough, but we do know that she's actually seemingly doing well enough to actually engage in an activity like this.

TAPPER: Yeah, it's good news.

Max, I do wonder though -- I mean, the royal family, in addition to being public figures, they are, you know, the taxpayers pay for them to live the lives they do. Is there any thought to the good that could be done if Princess Kate and King Charles were to say the kind of cancer they have, because there's still so much that the public doesn't know about cancers and there's still a stigma when it comes to certain kinds of cancers.

Is there any discussion? Do you think about what good it could do if they were public about it?

FOSTER: So if you went back 10 years, even five years, they wouldn't have even discussed it being cancer. They -- both the king and the princess feel they are giving more than previous generations have done by saying it's cancer and what type of treatment they are receiving as well. So they feel they are trying to get the balance, right? You're

absolutely right. They are public figures. They receive public money and they have a public duty to serve, to share information, and, you know, to give regular updates on their health. They feel they're giving as much as they can was protecting privacy they have a right to, which is the absolute detail of this.


TAPPER: All right. CNN's Max Foster and Sanjay Gupta, thanks to both you. Appreciate it.

Now to our faith lead. Scripture says, to everything, there is a season, including a time to laugh. Today, Pope Francis invited dozens of comedy legends to the Vatican. These include Steven Colbert and Conan O'Brien and Jim Gaffigan and Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Whoopi Goldberg, Mike Birbiglia and Jimmy Fallon.

I asked Fallon how it went. Fallon said it was, quote, a big moment for me. He also mentioned this moment where he and Chris Rock photo- bombed the pontiff. "The Tonight Show" host added that he made the pope laughed and told him, he, quote, grew up being an altar boy. And if he ever needs anyone to ring the bells, call me.

As CNN's Tom Foreman reports for us now, the pope had a little fund himself and even told the group of performers, quote, it's okay to laugh at God.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please, we're just here to see the pope.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It was a meeting made in comedy heaven, as 100 big name comics lined up to shake hands with Pope Francis, including Jimmy Fallon, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Whoopi Goldberg, Stephen Colbert.

STEPHEN COLBERT, COMEDIAN: Am I excited? Is the Pope Catholic?

FOREMAN: The pope's goal, to underscore the importance of humor in a troubled world, in the midst of so much gloomy news, he said -- you have the power to spread peace. You unite people and make God smile.

Mike Birbiglia currently touring with a hit show on Netflix, loved the pope saying it's important for comedians to call out hypocrisy.

MIKE BIRBIGLIA, COMEDIAN: I mean, I was raised Catholic and so I never heard that kind of message from the church. And so, to hear it from the person that highest up in that same church, it was unexpected and I thought overall really positive.

FOREMAN: Plenty in the audience like Jim Gaffigan have long included religion in their routines.

JIM GAFFIGAN, COMEDIAN: I'm not a good Catholic. Like if there was a test for Catholics, I would fail. But again, most Catholics would fail, which is probably why there's not a test.

FOREMAN: Some of their material may strike strict churchgoers as a little wicked.

CONAN O'BRIEN, COMEDIAN: Two popes a musical, coming soon.

FOREMAN: But the pope showed no sign of being troubled, keeping cool even when Chris Rock photo-bombed him. And the assembled comics were not looking for controversy either.

TIG NOTARO, COMEDIAN: And then in the darkness, a solo voice, I have two mommies.

FOREMAN: Big figures and allies in the LGBTQ community such as Tig Notaro, while not approving, seemed willing for the day to press pause on reports of the pope using a homophobic slur in private.


FOREMAN: In the end, even comics who shared many laughs at religion's expense, were delighted to share a few with the pope.

And he said it's okay to laugh at God. We play and joke with the people we love.


FOREMAN (on camera): They all seem to genuinely have a very good time. Look at all these people lining up behind the pope here because they wanted to be in the picture and very playful that sort of thing. You normally see when the pope is in this situation.

And then he posted this himself on his own Instagram a short while ago, that he had a good time and I must say talking to Birbiglia earlier today, he really made the point to say, look, there are many people in that audience who very much disagree with the pope and the church's position on different things. But they know how to get together with people even when they disagree with and say, let's share a laugh, let's share a little bit of a good time and maybe that's how we work toward some kind of understanding.

TAPPER: All right. Tom Foreman, great stuff, really appreciate it.

Coming up next, a federal judge has ordered conspiracy theorist Alex Jones to sell his personal assets so he can pay the Sandy Hook families he mercilessly attacked, making their lives miserable. Will his media empire be included in that sale?



TAPPER: Today, a major step towards the families of Sandy Hook victims finally getting at least some of the money legally owed to them by right-wing conspiracy theorist Alex Jones -- a judge clearing the way for Jones to liquidate his assets. Jones owes more than -- more than nearly $1.5 billion after being

found liable for defaming Sandy Hook families, spreading lies about the 2012 massacre on his Infowars media platform, claiming the shooting was staged, which it was not, and families and first responders were crisis actors, which they were not.

Those families were subsequently harassed by some deranged fans of Alex Jones, personal information, doxxed online. The situation so bad, one family forced to move.

As CNN's Hadas Gold reports, the financial situation for Jones likely means the end of his media empire built on lies.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alex Jones' Infowars conspiracy empire facing its final days.

ALEX JONES, RIGHT-WING CONSPIRACY THEORIST: This is probably the end of Infowars here very, very soon.

GOLD: A bankruptcy judge in Houston has approved the liquidation of Jones's personal assets, while also considering liquidating the parent company of his notorious media brand, all to help pay the nearly $1.5 billion settlement he owes the Sandy Hook families.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One hundred and twenty million dollars.

GOLD: Jones was found liable for defamation and emotional distress for his lies about the massacre of that left 21st graders and six educators dead in 2012, in the wake of the Newtown, Connecticut shooting, Jones told his audience the massacre was a so-called false flag operation staged by the government and that the grieving parents were actors.


An attorney for some of the families says this ruling will likely take away Jones's main megaphone.

CHRISTOPHER MATTEI, ATTORNEY FOR SANDY HOOK FAMILIES: That's what I expect to happen. I think Infowars will no longer exist. It certainly no longer be a platform upon which Alex Jones can do all the damage he's done in the past.

GOLD: Jones spouted lies even as he drove to the hearing in Houston on Friday.

JONES: It is all a brazen power grab.

GOLD: Leading up to the hearing, he had been vacillating between tears, more lies --

JONES: That was the FBI and the Justice Department behind all these fake lawsuits against me to get me off the air.

GOLD: -- and naked opportunism, peddling supposed dietary supplements until the last moment.

JONES: If you order any products at, you will get them before Infowars is a shutdown.

GOLD: But despite any liquidation, its likely the proceeds will only make a small dent in the more than $1 billion Jones owes the families. But the families' attorney says the money is not what matters most.

What would such a ruling mean for the families of the Sandy Hook victims?

MATTEI: What they're hoping to achieve is the most amount of accountability that the legal system can deliver. And money is just one component of that, and not the most important component of their objective long been to protect their families and other families from the type of harm that Alex Jones inflicted on them for years.

GOLD: In Houston, the judge's ruling is finally potentially bringing some form of justice to families who have already suffered too much.

MATTEI: Being brought a lawsuit against all odds, they prevailed. And that there is some form of justice being administered here.


GOLD (on camera): And, Jake, as we speak, there are closing arguments underway in that hearing to decide whether to liquidate the Infowars parent company Free Speech Systems. But, Jake, to be clear, even if the judge orders liquidation of the company, Alex Jones, will still be free to speak his mind despite what he may say. It will just have to be another platform, potentially on X/Twitter where his account was reinstated last year by Elon Musk -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Hadas Gold, thank you so much.

Coming up, you might remember those anti-Israel, pro-Hamas protesters outside the Nova exhibit in New York City earlier this week. Today, we're going to take you inside that exhibit which honors the survivors and the victims of the Hamas terrorist attacks on October 7th.



TAPPER: Our national lead now, a few days ago, we told you about the pro-Hamas protesters outside the Nova music festival exhibit in New York City, objecting to a display commemorating the 260 people killed at that festival on October 7.

Many in that crowd openly cheering and justifying the slaughter of innocent civilians. Today, let's take you inside that Nova exhibit.

Here's CNN's Bianna Golodryga.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One of the most powerful parts of this exhibit are just the belongings that no one came to claim, from hats and bags as you see here, soccer balls, water bottles, to clothing items and then ultimately the shoes.

OFIR AMIR, PRODUCER, NOVA MUSIC FESTIVAL AND NOVA EXHIBITION: Well, everything that you see here from all their belongings and the ten and the chairs and -- well, with the help of the police, we managed together all of his belongings. And when you see the shoes, it's clear, it's reminding us executive what happened to us 100 years ago at the Holocaust, and people were running away and left everything behind, even their shoes.

And we also explain to everyone that is entering this exhibition, it's not like a museum and know where you cannot touch anything. We want people to touch the tents and then the belongings, to get the sense of what we went through.

GOLODRYGA: And this is a wall honoring all the victims.

AMIR: Yeah.

GOLODRYGA: How many in total? Three hundred and --

AMIR: Four hundred and one, including the police and security guards and too many -- I know too many faces here.

GOLODRYGA: Earlier this week, there were mass protests right outside this exhibit here on Wall Street, some of just the unadulterated antisemitism, what was quite shocking. People were chanting, long live the intifada, Israel go to hell in one video, a man declares, I wish Hitler was still here. He would have wiped you Jewish people, all out.

Something a lot of people have spoken out against. The mayor of New York city called a despicable.

What was going through your minds when you heard those chants outside?

AMIR: Well, you have to understand a part of this exhibition, also, a lot of survivors who come here and tell a story and for them and for me, it was like really relive in this moment again, October 7, that this feeling on behalf plus and some of the survivors had really a panic attack because we all traumatize, and -- well, I'm not surprised they came here to demonstrate because I've been here in New York for the past two months.


And I hear in the news and see this demonstrations at colleges and what's going on and all over the United States, and some kind of where it breaks my heart that there's so much hate out there because we had exactly the opposite. I say, we the festival producers and the Nova founders, but also so as an Israeli and as a Jew, we don't hate, we don't want this hate, we don't hate back.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TAPPER: Our thanks to CNN's Bianna Golodryga.

Coming up next, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling and a major guns decision. We explain not only the decision, but the mechanics behind the firearms in questions.

Stay with us.