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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Sen. Josh Hawley, (R-MO), Is Interviewed About Boeing; Whistleblower: Boeing Leadership Can Be Evasive And Greedy; Axios: Top Dems Warn Biden Has A Losing Strategy; RFK Jr. Gains Ballot Access In More States; U.N.: Israel's Uses Of 2K Pound Bombs May Have Violated Intl. Law; Hamas Representative: If We Could Go Back In Time, We Would Carry Out October 7 Attacks Again; Parents Of American-Israeli Hostage Mark 257 Days Of Their Son's Captivity; Examining New Tools In The Fight Against Alzheimer's. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 19, 2024 - 17:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to The Lead. I'm Jake Tapper. This hour there are new signs of hope in the fight against Alzheimer's, which affects nearly 7 million Americans. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to break it all down for us. Plus, I'm going to be joined by two parents on a mission to bring their son home.

Hersh Goldberg-Polin was kidnapped by Hamas at the Nova music festival October 7. And now his mom and dad are back in Washington in studio with a message for the world.

Leading this hour, so many Americans are wondering just how safe air travel is as we keep hearing of flight controls getting jammed as pilots try to land or an entire piece of a plane blowing out mid- flight. Today we're hearing from a Boeing whistleblower, a former senior manager at the company who said on CNN that the manufacturing at Boeing is rushed and employees are under pressure to get planes in the air. Whistleblower Ed Pierson also slammed Boeing leadership calling the CEO, David Calhoun, greedy and evasive. Pierson is so concerned he won't even fly on Boeing Max planes anymore.


ED PIERSON, BOEING WHISTLEBLOWER: I did board a plane and I actually had to get off the plane when I found out it was a Max. And that's a terrible thing to have to say to somebody that worked for Boeing.


TAPPER: Calhoun was supposed to address some of those concerns and his company's overall safety record in a hearing on Capitol Hill yesterday. Instead, Calhoun faced intense questioning after saying he was proud of Boeing safety culture.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOSH HAWLEY (R-MO): For the American people, they're in danger for your workers. They're in peril for your whistleblowers. They literally fear for their lives, but you're getting compensated like never before. Don't you think maybe your priorities are misplaced here? I mean, don't you think maybe it's time to get back to focusing on making quality planes and paying your workers well, and taking care of the little guys who got you to where you are?

That's not a rhetorical question.

DAVID CALHOUN, CEO BOEING: Senator, I don't recognize any of the Boeing you described.


TAPPER: That was Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley, who joins me now.

Senator, did you get any satisfying answers from Boeing yesterday?

HAWLEY: No, not at all, Jake. It was a whole bunch of why he's not responsible. You had Calhoun sitting there, he's making $33 million dollars a year. That is a 45 percent increase over last year. And it was all about how he wasn't responsible. Oh, he's doing everything he can, oh, he'll do better, his planes are literally falling out of the sky in pieces. He's paying his workers in many cases next to nothing, they haven't had a wage increase in 16 years, and yet he has no answers and wants to shift the blame is totally unacceptable.

TAPPER: So, Calhoun insisted that the company is committed to safety. He said he listens to employees. What's your response to that?

HAWLEY: Well, he said that he hasn't even sat down with the whistleblowers, Jake. I mean, how about that? We've had numerous whistleblowers come to the Senate. They've testified under oath that they had been raising safety and quality concerns for years. These are engineers now.

They testify that they'd been reassigned. They'd been ignored. They'd been threatened and sometimes bullied physically. And this guy admits under oath yesterday, the CEO, he hasn't even met with them. I mean, come on, this is a farce and he knows that he's just there to collect a paycheck.

TAPPER: So in yesterday's testimony on the subject of that paycheck, you got him to acknowledge his $32.8 million salary. Now, as a conservative, I don't expect you would support legislation that would specifically impact how much a CEO makes. But what do you think is the role of the government when it comes to how much a CEO made? How much its employees make, deprived any sort of raise in several years, as you noted, like, what is the role of government in that?

HAWLEY: Well, let me give you one example, Senator Elizabeth Warren and I often offered a bill -- authored a bill together on executive clawbacks for companies who take these big loans from banks and then fail and make off with the profits. And what we said to that bill is listen, you come in and you take government handouts, you take bank bailouts, and then your bank goes under, you ought to give back all of your executive compensation from the last five years. I think we need to send a message to corporate America, that it's not right, that guys like Calhoun are making 33 million when the 32,000 machinists, Jake, who worked for him in the Pacific Northwest, haven't gotten a significant pay raise in 16 years.

TAPPER: You know, it's interesting, because there's this next generation of Republican leaders like you and Senator Vance from Ohio and Senator Rubio from Florida, who sound different when you talk about CEOs than maybe your dad's or granddad's Republican Party. Is that a fair observation?

HAWLEY: Well, I hope so. I mean, I hope that's right. I mean, I think this is something that frankly, both parties have gotten wrong in the last 30, 40 years. And what I mean by that is, we've watched jobs go overseas, we've watched blue collar workers lose their jobs, lose their pay, lose the ability to support a family.


Jake, we can't have an economy where, yes, you got a guy who can make $33 million a year who's not even an engineer. Calhoun's not even an engineer, while the folks who actually are supporting this company, on their backs are making next to nothing. I mean, that's just not right. And you cannot build and sustain a great nation on that kind of an economy. We need to put working people first.

TAPPER: Given the complexities of the industry and the landscape of production globally, what realistically can the U.S. Senate do to make it so Boeing and other plane manufacturers are not only reliable, but transparent?

HAWLEY: Well, I tell you, one thing that I've talked about with Calhoun, with the CEO, is this, Boeing used to, Jake, manufacture almost all of their planes themselves in house. Now, they have over 600 separate suppliers, probably hundreds of more subcontractors worldwide, including many, many in China. I think that we've got to make clear to these guys, you need to bring that production back home. If that means tariffs on the parts that are made overseas, we should do that. If that means that we have tax incentives to make sure they actually make things in this country and pay their workers well, we should do that.

But I think the message to corporate America needs to be this era of offshoring and outsourcing, look where it leads, it ends with planes falling out of the sky, that's where it ends. It ends with workers in this country, not able to make ends meet. We've got to change all of the above.

TAPPER: So one whistleblower spoke to the -- who spoke to the committee alleges that Boeing has been using subpar parts and actually lied to the FAA about it. Do you expect that person to testify publicly at some point? When might we expect that? What might we hear?

HAWLEY: I hope so, Jake, I hope soon. And listen, if that, in fact, if that testimony comes to be it will be of a piece with testimony -- public testimony we've already heard from engineers who say that the 787, the 777, and other Boeing components are not necessarily safe. Listen, we had a top quality engineer testify to us in April that he'd be very reluctant to get on a Boeing airplane right now, because so many corners have been cut.

And here's the thing. The deal with a guy like Calhoun, the CEO, is this, he's getting paid to do exactly what he is doing, which is to cut corners, to squeeze profits everywhere he can to get his margins. And if that means that the planes are unsafe, hey, at least he's getting paid, right? That's what needs to change at Boeing.

They don't have a culture problem with their employees. They've got a culture problem in the C suite. And that's what needs to happen -- that needs to change.

TAPPER: Missouri Republican Senator Josh Hawley, thanks for your time today.

HAWLEY: Thank you.

TAPPER: And we should note that The Lead reached out to Boeing for comment after its CEO testified. The company responded saying it did not have anything else to add.

We're going to have a major update to a lead exclusive that's just in. The Biden administration is bringing back a program for Goldstar families that was shut down nine years ago, a program restored because of a segment that aired right here on this show. A couple of weeks ago, on the 88th anniversary of D-Day, we told you the story of Rondy Elliott, a Goldstar daughter. Her father, Corporal Frank Elliott, was killed during the Normandy invasion. Now for decades, Rondy and other Goldstar families were able to call on the American battlefield Monuments Commission or ABMC to place flowers. Flowers, the families paid for themselves on the graves of their loved ones in the cemeteries overseas such as in Normandy. It meant so much to them.


RONDY ELLIOTT, GOLD STAR DAUGHTER: This is my father's grave in Normandy, with flowers. People walk into the cemetery, they see these flowers and they know that there's somebody at home that still cares about that soldier.


TAPPER: Now nine years ago, presumably for cost cutting reasons, the ABMC shutdown that program. Retired Marine Corps General John Kelly, a Goldstar dad himself, first told us about this program being shut down.


GEN. JOHN KELLY, U.S. MARINE CORPS. (RET.): I think, you know, it's minimal cost to the government, minimal work for the government, I suppose it was some administrative costs and battle monuments, but I can't imagine very much. And even if it was a lot, I mean, they did give their lives for the country, but it just doesn't seem to me that that's much work. And even if it was a lot of work, I mean, just consider the sacrifice. That was a lot of work too.


TAPPER: Today, because of our report a couple of weeks ago we can now report that this flower program for Gold Star families is going to be reestablished at the ABMC. A White House official tells CNN quote, "The White House saw Jake Tapper's reporting on Gold Star families fighting to restore the program honoring their fallen loved ones. Because of how deep and personal this is to the President, the White House acted quickly with White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients directing the team to get the program running," unquote. The White House is working with the ABMC to get the flower program back online as quickly as possible. The White House cautions that it will take some time to do so but they do expect it to be up and running sometime next year.


A new report claims the top Democrats are growing increasingly worried about President Biden's reelection strategy. The journalist behind that story is here live next. Plus, the parents of a hostage who is a dual American-Israeli citizen, these parents are back in D.C. joining The Lead here in studio with their message to the public 257 days after their son was kidnapped.


TAPPER: Quote, "This is scary." That's how one Democratic strategist close to the Biden campaign is describing the President's current platform which rests on playing up voters' concerns about January 6 and political violence and democracy. And according to Axios reporter Alex Thompson's new reporting, some influential top Democrats warned that this is a losing strategy.


I want to bring in two correspondents who cover national politics, including Alex Thompson of Axios, as well as CNN's Eva McKend.

So, explain this. I mean, you know, as they say, the calls coming from inside the House?


TAPPER: The -- who in Biden world is driving the strategy and who's dissenting?

THOMPSON: So the main people that are driving this strategy are the President himself. You've seen whenever he gives democracy speeches he has a little extra oomph, a little extra perkiness that he really sort of sees himself as this bulwark for democracy. But the other main person in this is Mike Donilon, who has been with him since 1981. They basically have, you know, this mind meld and Mike Donilon has argued that basically, January 6, is equivalent to what 9/11 was during the 2004 election, which he also worked on. And he basically feels that the dominant met images in people's minds when they go to vote in November is going to be January 6.

But increasingly, especially as the Biden campaign has been spending a ton of money has been ranking up their staff, and the poll numbers have gone nowhere, there's increasing skepticism that this is the strategy that will work and including among Biden people themselves. But there's sort of a culture within the Biden world that's very insular that makes some people scared to bring it up because they're scared of being labeled as being disloyal or not on the team.

TAPPER: And Eva, as Biden and Trump are drawing more attention, Robert Kennedy, Jr. is of course trying to get ballot access in more states. Tell us more about that.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: So he's on the ballot in seven states. He submitted signatures for 23 in total, and they'll still have to work their way through the process. The most consequential state where he's on the ballot of the seventh is Michigan. It is a swing state. He got on the ballot there through a relatively easy process through a minor party called the natural law party.

And that is also helpful, because even though he's an independent candidate, that party since they've run candidates in the past, you know, they can advise him in certain ways about how to -- basically how to engage in this process as a minor party candidate. In 2020, President Biden won that state by just about 150,000 votes. In 2016, Hillary Clinton lost it by 10,000 votes.

I was in Detroit over the weekend at the, you know, hyper MAGA Turning Point Action convention. But what surprised me, you know, these were by and large Trump supporters was that some of them in Detroit -- from Detroit, Detroit suburbs, they voted for Trump in 2016, and 2020 but previously, some of these auto workers previously voted for Democrats.


MCKEND: Like used to vote for President Obama.


MCKEND: And so that tells me that Democrats have a branding issue in certain parts of Michigan. And Kennedy is really taking advantage of that. You know, he no long -- he distanced himself from the Democratic Party, he tacks to the right on a number of policy issues, and he could still appeal to some of these disaffected voters.

TAPPER: Yes. And that's a must win state for Joe Biden. And if he loses Michigan, it's hard to imagine that he's becomes president.

MCKEND: It's incredibly consequential. And they recognize that and that's why they are doing outreach there as well, specifically to black voters in the state.

THOMPSON: Yes, they call it the blue wall for a reason, right?

TAPPER: Yes. Alex, you also spoke to Democratic strategists regarding Biden's preparations for next week, a week from tomorrow. Tell us about that.

THOMPSON: It's the highest stakes cram session, probably since he was in college. I mean, this is -- you know, he's been incredibly busy on the campaign trail, doing fundraisers, he went to Europe twice, going back and forth. And essentially, what you're going to see is that he is going to be down for most of this next week. And he is going to be preparing and trying to -- you know, it's sort of an old rule that incumbent presidents do terrible on their first debate when they get back. You remember Barack Obama in 2012, Ronald Reagan in 1984.

And basically he's going to try to not fall for the same tricks because they know the stakes. If he has a terrible debate, and not only is going to be more murmurs about, well, can he do it, is this the guy? But then you can see the polls go even further in the wrong direction form.

TAPPER: All right, Eva McKend, Alex Thompson, thanks to both you. Appreciate it.

Quote, "Unproductive and completely untrue." The back and forth between the Biden White House and one of America's closest allies. That's next.



TAPPER: Back with our world lead now. Face to face confrontations between top U.S. diplomats and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he accused the U.S. of purposely withholding weapons from Israel. Sources tell CNN that at least two different American diplomats have told Netanyahu that his comments were, quote, "unproductive" and, quote, "completely untrue." Though the U.S. restriction on 2000 pound bombs will stay in place, bombs which the United Nations Human Rights Office warned in a new 16 page report today may have violated international law after Israel use them in attacks targeting refugee camps and schools in Gaza in the early months of the war, pursuing terrorists with Hamas of course. Joining us now an expert in urban warfare retired Major John Spencer.

Major, you say Israel is upholding the laws of war given the constraints of urban warfare and the fact that Hamas embeds within civilian populations. CNN reporting shows that these 2000 pound bombs are four times heavier than the largest bombs the U.S. dropped on ISIS in Mosul during the war against ISIS. Given that, do you understand the Biden administration's concerns to continue providing specifically the 2000 pound bombs?

JOHN SPENCER, CHAIR OF URBAN WARFARE STUDIES, MODERN WAR INSTITUTE: I understand that that reporting is not factual and it has led to some type of vilification of a very commonly used tool like the 2000 pound bomb that we did use in Mosul. And when use 10s of 1000s in Iraq to include in the invasion that I took part in, we dropped over 5000, four on one building where we thought Saddam might be staying, and he wasn't, an urban areas.


I understand the human rights activist campaign against a 2000 pound bomb, and how they want no bombs used in any urban areas, even the reporting that they'd used them in refugee camps, I mean, on military targets in tunnels, which happened to be under schools, refugee camps and other places. Because what most people don't report on 2000 pound bomb is that one of the reasons you need a bigger bomb is to penetrate the ground to an enemy who is in bunkers and tunnels, which is very well known where Hamas has protected itself underneath its civilians.

TAPPER: You're returning to the region soon. Tell us what you plan -- what you're planning to do in terms of the research.

SPENCER: Yes, so I've been twice since the war began to include in Khan Yunis and tunnels and in Gaza, which, you know, to me get you the sense of why you need such large ammunition. I'm returning to continue to conduct research on urban warfare.

I mean, the war against Hamas in Gaza is the biggest urban centric war since World War II, since Stalingrad, and many other battles. So I'll be on the ground, again, looking at how the IDF have actually implemented more things and more tactics to protect civilians, despite the international condemnation that is not backed up by actual people on the ground conducting research.

TAPPER: A Hamas representative in London did an interview with the Lebanese newspaper recently. He said if Hamas could go back in time, they would still carry out the October 7 attack on Israel, in which 1200 individuals were killed more than 200 kidnapped. They said the Hamas representative said it would be justified. How close, in your view, Israel to dismantling Hamas' capabilities to be able to carry out another October 7 like attack?

SPENCER: Very close, and actually very close despite, you know, threats, you know, war is, politics. Your greatest strength is your allies, but despite real threats from the United States and others, to not go into places like Southern Gaza, where they're finding hundreds of tunnel shafts and tunnels and rockets. But they have cleared of the major military capabilities of Hamas to do another October 7 attacks. Many areas, but they're -- if they leave, you know, 10 percent to 20 percent of that, it would just be rebuilt. So I think they're very close, actually.

TAPPER: The Iran backed militant group in Lebanon Hezbollah, which the U.S. labels terrorist group, published a nine minute drone video showing Israeli military and civilian locations in northern Israel. This comes as Israel says it is, quote, "Approved and validated operational plans for potential military offensive in Lebanon in response to all the missiles that Hezbollah has been firing." What do you make of this very tense moment? How close is all out war on a second front about to happen? SPENCER: Man, I think the tension is very high. And while we say that nobody wants another front, most people don't recognize that there has been another front since October 8, 1000s of Hezbollah rockets landing on Northern Israel and setting Northern Israel on fire. And like you said that video released today where they're threatening to bomb Haifa, a city of over 280,000 civilians, it isn't like Israel hasn't tried everything to include announcing, which is really a standard military practice to have war plans, that these plans are finished ready for approval. You would think that Hezbollah would stop attacking Israel any moment now. But every day for eight months, they haven't.

And last week, there are hundreds of projectiles, rockets, drones, mortars, artillery, launched at Northern Israel where 80,000 civilians and every time I go there in the hotels that I go to in central Israel, because they're homeless.

TAPPER: Retired Major John Spencer, thanks so much as always for your expertise.

And as those battles raged between Israel and Hamas, there are still more than 100 hostages believed to be in Gaza. The parents of one of those hostages, a joint American-Israeli citizen, joined The Lead coming up next.



TAPPER: Today marks 257 days since the terrorist group Hamas attacked Israel killed about 1,200 people and took more than 250 people hostage. About 116 of the remaining hostages in Gaza are believed to be alive including dual American-Israeli citizen Hersh Goldberg-Polin. Hersh was taken hostage by Hamas from the Nova Music Festival on October 7th.

And joining me now in studio are Hersh's parents, Rachel Goldberg- Polin and Jon Polin, thanks to both you for being here. Really appreciate it. And as always, I'm so sorry, it's under these circumstances. One thing that I've always wondered about throughout this entire process since October 7th, there are eight hostages with dual American-Israeli citizenship, including your son. Five of them, including your son are believed to be alive, three of them not.

Are you surprised that more isn't made in American media and by American politicians about the fact that there are five presumably living American hostages being held by a terrorist group in Gaza?

RACHEL GOLDBERG-POLIN, MOTHER OF AMERICAN-ISRAELI HOSTAGE: I definitely think it is shocking that the vast majority of Americans have no idea that there are eight U.S. citizens currently right now as we're speaking being held hostage in Gaza. I feel so strongly that I have these memories when Brittney Griner was being unjustly detained and of course Evan Gershkovich who's still being detained. These --

[17:35:13] TAPPER: And Trevor Reed and Paul Whelan, yes.

GOLDBERG-POLIN: Household names. The vast majority of Americans have no idea that these eight U.S. citizens are being held. It's already 257 days and I find it just shocking. People also aren't aware that of the 120 remaining hostages, that they are representatives of 24 different nations. They are Christians, Jews, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists. I very rarely hear anyone advocating for the Muslim Arabs who are being held or the Thai Buddhists being held or the black African Christians being held. They're Nepalese Argentinians, Germans polish, you just don't hear it. They try. And I don't know who they is, but the world is trying to create this monolithic homogenous group of people. And it's an absolute disservice and injustice to those people being held.

TAPPER: And John, we're all about the same age. I mean, I'm old enough to remember the American hostages being held in Iran, obviously a different circumstance. But the whole country wore yellow ribbons. We, you know, nightline started because of that crisis, day 34, day 115. Does it surprise you? And what do you think? Why do you think it is?

JON POLIN, FATHER OF AMERICAN-ISRAELI HOSTAGE: It disappoints me, and I was thinking about it this morning. I don't get much exercise nowadays, but jetlag up early. And running around Washington, you just feel the city, the country, the United States is steeped in emancipation, liberty, freedom, today's Juneteenth that we're celebrating. Americans don't like people being held against their will, certainly not other Americans.

So it's disappointing that there isn't more conversation. And it's surprising because it's something that is so core to the United States of America, we have people being held, we got to do everything we can to get them out. And one step of that is awareness. Country should be talking about this, should know about it, they should know the eight names of the Americans who are being held.

TAPPER: You to both met with a bipartisan group of senators yesterday to talk about this crisis, these hostage -- this hostage crisis in Gaza, including eight Americans, five of whom are living, I believe this is your 11th trip to Washington, D.C. since October 7th. Was there anything different about this visit or that meeting?

GOLDBERG-POLIN: That meeting was very unusual, actually, it was a bipartisan meeting of several senators. But what was unique about it is that we were joined by CEOs of several very large, influential and powerful companies.

TAPPER: Like Oracle.



GOLDBERG-POLIN: And Pfizer and --

POLIN: Volunteer organized and hosted the event, Booz Allen, the CEO was there. What I was impressed by was just how galvanized they were that this is sort of what we were just talking about. This isn't something that should be politicized. This isn't an issue of Democrats versus Republicans. Of course, in an election season, everything becomes that. But the room was saying, it didn't need us to say to them, the room was saying this is a human issue. This is something that needs to unite all of us around one cause.

And let's simplify this cause. There are issues all over the Middle East. We've got to solve issues that are big ones in the Middle East. But let's not allow this to become so complex. These are people being held against their will. Let's focus and get them out. And that was the tone in the room.

TAPPER: And we see night after night in Israel, people protesting against Prime Minister Netanyahu saying and the hostage families, I don't need to tell you have become a force in Israel saying the Netanyahu government, the IDF are not doing enough. They're not focusing on hostages enough. They're focusing too much on other things. Do you agree?

GOLDBERG-POLIN: The truth is there are two different groups of people who you see in the streets coming out.


GOLDBERG-POLIN: There are people who are gathering to support the hostage families. And that's one enormous group that that balloons to scores of thousands of people every single Saturday night.

TAPPER: Just supporting --

GOLDBERG-POLIN: Just supporting.

TAPPER: -- out of position.

GOLDBERG-POLIN: Correct. And then there's also groups of people protesting because they feel that the government is not doing enough, and they feel that it's too long. It's too much suffering across the entire region. And it's time, perhaps for different governance to try to take a stab at this situation. We have tried to remain apolitical. The truth is we are laser focused on one thing and that is to get our only son home. Our son who is a civilian, who was at a music festival, who had his dominant left arm blown off before he was taken captive, that is where our focus is.


And we don't want to get caught in the weeds of politics we're not geopolitical experts. We're not military tacticians. It really doesn't matter to me who makes this deal. I don't care whose name is on it. I don't care which country is the driving force behind it. I just want my son home. And so we've been trying to be very apolitical in our personal approach. But there's no judgment on anyone who is in the street, or any hostage family that is doing what they feel is the right thing to get their child, spouse, brother, sister, grandfather home. TAPPER: What did you make of the, I'm sure you know about this, the Brooklyn Museum had a exhibit about the Nova Music Festival where your beloved son was taken hostage and so many innocent people were killed. And there were actually protesters, pro -- not just anti-Israel but pro-Palestinian, literally pro-Hamas protesters there, belittling the pain, justifying the slaughter in the streets of New York.

POLIN: It's totally astonishing. We say all the time, if you want to be out supporting the Palestinians, we have no problem with that. That's totally understandable. But then it gets conflated with having to be anti-something else. We saw people holding signs in New York that said, kill the hostages. How we had and why is that a thing? Like who wants to kill innocent hostages? We were in a restaurant here in Washington, D.C. last night, a fast food restaurant. And somebody walked into the restaurant and said to the workers, is this place Zionist? Who are the owners of this place?

TAPPER: Oh my God.

POLIN: And we were witnessing the stuff that we kind of hear much from afar and it is astonishing 2024 in America.

TAPPER: It is a very, very small, loud, minority. And I just want to make sure you know that most of the American people are hoping and praying that Hersh gets home soon. And we certainly feel that way here on The Lead and on CNN. Rachel and Jon, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.

POLIN: Thank you for continuing to tell the story.

TAPPER: And we will continue to do so here are the names of the five Israeli American hostages thought to still be alive in Gaza, 20-year- old Edan Alexander, 22-year-old Omer Neutra, 23-year-old Hersh Goldberg-Polin, you just met his parents, 35-year-old Sagui Dekel- Chen, and 65-year-old Keith Samuel Siegel. I hope they get home soon.

Coming up next, the research that is giving doctors hope in the fight against Alzheimer's. Dr. Sanjay Gupta will join us live.



TAPPER: Our Health Lead now, new signs of hope in the fight against Alzheimer's, the heartbreaking disease impacting nearly 7 million Americans and their families. CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta has spent years investigating the latest science for his groundbreaking documentary now streaming on Max. It's called The Last Alzheimer's Patient. Sanjay looks at new tools to fight the disease and how it might impact him personally.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the five years of making this documentary --

GUPTA: The 20-year-old newlyweds.



GUPTA (voice-over): I've met with patients all around the country who were diagnosed or at high risk for this devastating disease.

GUPTA: Do you remember this time in your life, Mike?

GUPTA (voice-over): It made me really start to think about my own brain. I have a family history of Alzheimer's as well. Sometimes I feel a little rusty. Sometimes I worry that I make mistakes that maybe my friends and family are too polite to tell me about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to look at your body composition.

GUPTA (voice-over): So that's why I decided to do something quite personal.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your muscle mass, your body fat.

GUPTA (voice-over): Quite revealing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That wasn't quite right.

GUPTA (voice-over): I went through a battery of tests to assess my own risk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Just like we get a cholesterol test every year and check your blood pressure. Got to do the same thing for the brain.

GUPTA (voice-over): And what did I find?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'll just say it.


TAPPER: Dr. Gupta joins us now for the launch of a new series Dr. Sanjay Gupta On Call, you'll see the QR code on your screen there at the bottom right. You can use it to submit your questions about the latest health news for Sanjay. And Sanjay will be back at this time tomorrow to answer some of your questions. So Sanjay, when it comes to Alzheimer's? Should people be tested to see what their odds, their risk of contracting this horrible disease is?

GUPTA: Yes, I think we're getting to the point where we can recommend testing more broadly, maybe not for the masses as of yet. But two things have happened over the last 10 years. One is that the testing has gotten a lot better. I'm not talking about just genetic testing, which has been around for a long time. But really digging into testing around certain risk factors, gives you a pretty good idea of what's your likelihood of developing Alzheimer's diseases later.

But the second thing I think maybe even more important, Jake, is that I think now you can do something about it. I think part of the reason people think it tested in the past was, well, what am I going to do with that information? It's just going to happen now and I'm just going to be worried about it. Well, now I think it's pretty clear from talking to people like Richard Isaacson, who you just saw there in that piece, Dean Ornish, looking at these trials, that we can go a long way towards preventing, stalling and maybe even reversing symptoms of Alzheimer's.

TAPPER: How much of Alzheimer's is preventable?

GUPTA: You know, if you had to put a number on it, it probably be around 40 percent, which is a very high number in the scheme of things, Jake, because I think a lot of people they got the diagnosis. And it was kind of like looking into the abyss for them. There was nothing they could do. There was nothing they were told to do except sort of get their affairs in order. But now you can get a sense of how much earlier in life, you could start to make interventions to prevent Alzheimer's later.

And many of those things involve just, you know, lifestyle change. Just these aren't -- there are new drugs out there but a lot of the documentary was around these lifestyle changes. Dr. Dean Ornish did a trial where it was a small trial, just 50 patients, but half of them got this lifestyle intervention that you're looking at on the screen, half did not. These are all people who had cognitive impairment due to Alzheimer's.


In the group that got the intervention, many of them either stayed the same, versus declining, which is what happens to most people. And some people even improved over that timeframe, which was just five months, Jake. So for five months of these lifestyle changes, you actually saw improvement in some of these patients, frankly, something that we've never really seen before, a reversal of the symptoms of Alzheimer's, Jake.

TAPPER: Sanjay, we're launching this new series where you're going to answer questions submitted by viewers, what motivated you to take this on?

GUPTA: Well, you know, I think so much of what we do when it comes to medical and health news is so intimate for people so personal, and we will continue to provide the news. So people understand what is happening in the world with regard to these issues at any given time. But at the same time, we realized a lot of people have questions, because this is the sort of news that affects their lives so deeply. So, you know, we have the ability at CNN to have this two way sort of interaction with the viewer. So they get to ask, you know, we were talking about it now. We're going to get a lot of questions. We've already started to get questions.

And then we're going to go through those and answer them directly. We'll do it on your show. Hopefully, we'll do it on social media on digital, all these different ways to make sure we're giving this content to our viewers maybe in ways that they hadn't received before. TAPPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much. And Sanjay is documentary is streaming now on Max. And don't forget to submit your questions for Sanjay. He'll be back tomorrow to answer some of them.

A tribute to one of baseball's all-time greats next in our Last Leads.



TAPPER: Last Leads now, Last Leads today start in Louisiana where public schools are now required to display the 10 Commandments in all classrooms. Republican Governor Jeff Landry signed the requirement into law today which mandates that a poster size display of the Commandments with a, quote, large, easy -- easily readable font in classrooms from kindergarten through college if they get any state funding. The ACLU says it plans to sue over this law.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please join us in a moment of silence as we remember the great Willie Mays.


TAPPER: That was the start of a moment of silence today at today's Giants Cubs game, honoring the memory of baseball legend Willie Mays, who died yesterday at age 93. These memorials will continue throughout the day as Major League Baseball announced that every game will begin with a moment of silence. Mays was the oldest living Hall of Famer, he excelled in every aspect of the game. He was perhaps best known for a dramatic over the shoulder catch in the 1954 World Series that he won with the New York Giants. May his memory be a blessing.

And our Tech Lead, an update on the breaking news we brought yesterday. State officials say that outage that shutdown the Massachusetts 911 system for two hours was caused by a firewall problem and was not the result of a cyberattack or a hack. Fortunately, officials say there were no reports of emergencies that were impacted by the outage. In our World Lead, Stonehenge received something of a paint job from climate activists today. They are demanding that the British government agree to phase out fossil fuels by 2030. And this is how they think they're going to convince people of their cause, I think. The incident comes just one day before thousands are expected to gather at the pre historic site to celebrate the summer solstice, the longest day of the year in the northern hemisphere, and let's see how many of them leave that event suddenly with their minds changed.

Also in our World Lead, red or white? How about a 2000-year-old vintage? That's what a team of scientists from the University of Cordoba discovered after unearthing a 2000-year-old urn in southern Spain. Further research revealed it is a white wine, and as yet unexplained hermetic seal prevented it from evaporating. Do not be too quick to pour yourself a glass though. Researchers also found cremated human remains in the urn. This programming note today is the newest federal holiday Juneteenth. So tonight, please join CNN for a special Juneteenth event. We are celebrating freedom and honoring trailblazers in a star studded night, look after performances and interviews with John Legend and Patti LaBelle, Motown legend, Smokey Robinson, who spoke to CNN Victor Blackwell, about the significance of Juneteenth and why he does not like being called an African American.


SMOKEY ROBINSON, SINGER: There's a passage in the poem that I wrote. And it says, all the wonderful black Americans who served in all the wars, served in the armed forces and gave their lives and all the wars. They didn't do that for Timbuktu or Cape Town to Kenya, did that from Mississippi and Alabama and Georgia and Louisiana and Texas, and Virginia. Did I continue? If you're a novice, that if you don't claim that you play right into the hands of the white supremacist, the Ku Klux Klan, who claimed they own this land. Now, that's why because we have cultivated it. We've built. We've raised kids. We've done everything that you could possibly do to contribute to a country. OK. So now for me to come along and say, OK, I'm an African American, this kind of denouncing my American citizenship was kind of nice in the fact that I'm an American. I'm proud to be an American.



TAPPER: Again our Juneteenth Celebration of freedom and legacy is tonight on CNN and streaming on Max at 10:00 p.m. Eastern.

We're now down to just eight days until the biggest events as yet of the 2024 presidential race, the very first general election presidential debate. It will be right here on CNN. I will co-moderate the discussion along with my friend and colleague, Dana Bash. You can watch it live a week from tomorrow at 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN streaming on Max. The very first debate ever, ever, between a president and a former president.

The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room.