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The Lead with Jake Tapper

CNN Tracking Major Pending Supreme Court Cases; Supreme Court To Rule On Trump's Fight For Immunity; WH Bracing For Emergency Room Abortion Access Ruling; NYT: Judges Urged Cannon To Step Down From Trump Case; L.A. Gov.: "Can't Wait" To Be Sued Over Ten Commandments Law; ACLU To Sue Over Law Requiring Ten Commandments In Schools; Companies Stress Teaching Skills Over College Degrees; 8 Crew Members Can Fly Home After 12 Weeks Stranded Aboard. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 20, 2024 - 17:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to The Lead. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, it's hard to forget the images of a cargo ship crashing into the Baltimore bridge in March causing a devastating and deadly collapse. But while the cleanup and investigation have moved forward, those 21 crew members have been stuck on the ship for almost three months. Today, there was a hearing about letting them return to their families, mostly in India and Sri Lanka. And we'll bring you those updates.

Plus, is the United States at risk of being pulled into yet another global conflict. The White House is issuing a stern warning after video emerges of a major clash in the South China Sea.

And leading this hour, supreme suspense as the country waits for blockbuster decisions from the highest court in the land. The justice is issuing four rulings today, but we're still waiting on the three -- highly consequential ones that we have been talking about for weeks now. Former President Trump's claim that he has immunity from prosecution for actions he took as president, the case concerning whether January 6 defendants can be charged with obstruction of a proceeding under that specific law, and third, emergency room abortions. Let's get right to CNN Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic.

And Joan, all of these huge decisions could come down within the next two weeks. Take us inside the court as this anticipation mounts.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Sure, your phrase supreme suspense was exactly right. And you know, in addition to those big three that you mentioned, they also have a major case on Second Amendment gun rights. They have cases on social media regulation by governments. They have environmental protection cases, federal regulatory disputes, so a lot of major questions that are, you know, have been lingering for years that have come to combination this term.

So you go in, Jake, at 10:00 Eastern time and then the nine justices, usually there are nine, today Justice Alito wasn't on the bench, the nine do sit. And the chief says to whoever's going to read the majority opinion for the day has them speak. But as you know, this is the season of dissent from the bench also, because we have so many big cases out there that, you know, a lot is at stake. And this is the time of year when a justice who's dissenting, wants to call more attention to his or her protest, and will speak from the bench. We had that last week and the bumps tax ruling when Justice Sotomayor protested the majority's decision to invalidate a federal regulation that prohibited bump stocks as machine guns.

And you know, there is just a lot of anticipation in the room. Sometimes, relatives and friends of the justices come, often a spouse will show up. Today, Justice Kavanaugh's, his parents were there. So you know, it's just everyone in anticipation. And we do not know which cases are going to come when until we get to the very last day, which this year, Jake, should be potentially a week from next Friday or Monday, July 1.

TAPPER: And the immunity decision, just a huge one, and obviously will have a significant impact on the presidential race and the timing of this decision can't be ignored.

BISKUPIC: It can't, Jake. And I just want to remind everyone that the justices have had an opportunity to take up Jack Smith's request to examine presidential immunity back in December. Special Counsel Jack Smith representing the Department of Justice, the American people have asked the Supreme Court to actually look then at former President Trump's claim that he should be shielded from criminal prosecution for the events after the 2020 election. And the justices said no, they decided to wait until oral arguments on April 25. That's when they heard it.

You know, we obviously saw them struggling with some pretty important questions. But now, they've already, you know, delayed many more weeks that if we get the ruling tomorrow or next week, we are right up against the November election in terms of a possible trial for former President Trump because, you know, I think just the preparation for any kind of trial is going to take about three months, if not more, Jake. So, no matter how they rule, I think the window of opportunity for any kind of prosecution on behalf of the Department of Justice might be doing dwindling, Jake.

TAPPER: It's worth noting, of course that next week marks two years since the Supreme Court's Dobbs decision which overturned Roe v Wade. And as the White House prepares --


TAPPER: -- to mark that, they're also bracing for this emergency room abortion ruling.

BISKUPIC: That's right. And you know, just think of how much has changed in America since those justices struck down nearly 50 years of constitutional abortion rights. Some 14 states have completely banned abortion. Several other states have imposed very strict restrictions on people's ability -- women's ability to end a pregnancy. And we've now even seen debates over in vitro fertilization.


All sorts of reproductive rights are now, you know, now really in doubt because of that decision. And I think, Jake, no matter how the justices rule on that federal law that's intended to ensure emergency room treatment and whether that even applies for potential abortions for a mother's health in emergency situations in states like Idaho that ban abortion, that will not be the last word on litigation coming from that 2022 decision to completely eliminate constitutional abortion rights, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, CNN's Joan Biskupic, thanks so much.


TAPPER: Let's discuss this all with our legal panel. Have with me, Elie Honig, Tom Dupree and Brandi Harden.

Elie, if the presidential immunity decision ends up being last on the docket. So as you said, July something --


TAPPER: -- July 2 or something, what might the impact be on a potential trial? Do you think that's it, no trial until after the election? And obviously, if Trump wins, he'll get rid of it?

HONIG: I think there's still a chance to get this trial in. And as Joan said, the window is very quickly closing. Every day that passes, of course, makes a trial less likely before the election. But we're really talking about sort of small change at this point. I mean, whether the decision comes down tomorrow or comes down 10 days from now doesn't make that big a difference.

Here's what to watch, though, when the Supreme Court rules, I think what they're going to do is say, here's the test, first time we're ever announcing this, here's the test for presidential immunity. If the court says here's the test, and Trump fails, then it goes back to the trial court. And then I think they can squeeze in a trial before the election if they want. But if the court says, here's the new test, and now back to the trial court, you have to decide whether Trump needs that test or not, then we're going back up the appeals chain and then there's no trial.

TAPPER: Don't you think that's the second option is what they're going to do?

TOM DUPREE, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL G.W. BUSH ADMIN.: I think the Supreme Court has even basically take a middle position between the two somewhat extreme positions the parties have said. Jack Smith says there's basically no immunity. The Trump team says this absolute immunity, Supreme Court is going to come down in the middle. I don't think they are going to get into the facts of this case and apply their newly stated constitutional standard to Trump in this case. We saw from the argument that they are operating at a 30,000 foot level, they are thinking grand questions of constitutional law, they're not going down to this kind of granular get your hands dirty question of, well, what the stuff Trump did falls on the official side or on the private side, I think they're going to announce high arching legal principles, and then leave it to the lower courts to sort it all out.

TAPPER: So, Brandi, in oral arguments on April 25, Chief Justice of the United States, John Roberts said, quote, "As I read, it says simply a former president can be prosecuted because he's being prosecuted. Why shouldn't we either send it back to the court of appeals or issue an opinion making clear that that's not the law?"

Translate that into English for us. And how do you think that foretells what actually is going to happen?

BRANDI HARDEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE LAWYER: So I really just think they're saying, look, if a president is being prosecuted, he can be prosecuted. There is that. That's obviously something that's true. But what I really think here is that just like everyone said, they are not going to make a decision, there's going to be new law that they come out with with respect to immunity, and they're just going to send it back to the courts. That's what's really going to happen.

And let me say this, as a defense attorney, I think there is no chance, no possibility of a trial before the election. If I'm now starting a new, I have this file, I've been working on it, there is literally no possibility that I can get through everything and be prepared for trial, no matter how many people are on the team in order to be ready before the election. So I think once again, he's going to escape and there are not going to be any more trials before the election.

TAPPER: Elie, you have an article coming out in tomorrow in New York magazine on the scenario posed by a D.C. court of appeals judge, which asked, quote, "Could a president who ordered SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival and who was not impeached, would he be subject to criminal prosecution?" The argument being from the Trump lawyers at that time during that argument that you have to be impeached before you can be prosecuted? Impeach and convicted, I think.

HONIG: Right.

TAPPER: You argue it's way over simplified? Tell us what you mean.

HONIG: Yes. I think that moment was the most memorable moment from all the Trump arguments, right? Who could forget it? The answer that Trump Donald Trump's lawyers gave was outrageous, wrong, reckless and dangerous. The problem is, you have to go beyond that.

I am convinced the Supreme Court is going to reject this theory that anyone can only ever be indicted a president, if he's first been impeached, and then removed, that will never happen. The courts going to say no, that's ridiculous. But we don't have -- we can't end there. Because then the courts going to have to say, well, here's what the standard is. And that's where I think we get into what we've been talking about.

So, it's not as easy as just saying, of course, you can't kill a political rival. Of course, they're going to reject this. What's taking so long? What's taking so long is they're trying to articulate the standard for the first time in American history, and then they're going to have to have that apply to the trial court. So it's much more complicated.

TAPPER: What do you think the standard is going to be?

DUPREE: I suspect this court will try to draw some sort of line between official conduct and private conduct.


TAPPER: Well, does supervising elections count as (inaudible)?

DUPREE: Well, I mean, I think Jack Smith would have a pretty strong argument to say that the president doesn't really have any formal constitutional role in the election process. That's something that our framers basically delegated to the state, state legislatures and the like, not the president of the United States. So I think under that test, I think President Trump would have a difficult time trying to get out and claim immunity for that type of conduct.

The other thing I want to say is with regard to Chief Justice Roberts quote, I think that actually is fairly significant, because as we all know, the chief sits right in the middle of a court. And what he says from the bench --

TAPPER: You mean, physically and philosophically?

DUPREE: What about physically and philosophically? Exactly. And so, when he questions, I interpreted what he said, is basically questioning the D.C. Circuit, the lower courts rationale, where they rejected any sort of immunity. And the chief basically found that reasoning to be circular. So what that tells me is that is exceedingly likely that the Supreme Court is going to reverse what the lower court said and recognize some sort of immunity, the scope yet to be determined.

TAPPER: Brandi, let's talk about this other case down in Florida, because the "New York Times" is reporting the two federal judges in Florida, urged Judge Aileen Cannon --


TAPPER: -- to hand off the classified documents case against Donald Trump when she first drew the assignment in June 2023. But quote, "Judge Cannon, who was appointed by Mr. Trump, wanted to keep the case and refused the judges entreaties," unquote. We should note that one of the judges in the story declined to comment to CNN. But what do you make of this reporting, given how long this case has taken?

HARDEN: So I think it's probably true that her colleagues have been talking to her about like the air of impropriety. Maybe there's not a smoking gun that she's done something so in incredibly unfair that would make her need to recuse herself. But why create a situation where someone can argue that she's tainted. She should hand the case off. She should allow another judge to handle.

And I think that that's what makes all this speculation seem so true, that maybe she is showing favoritism to Mr. Trump. And I think --

TAPPER: That's the same argument you were making about Judge Merchan because he gave $35 to Democrats, $15 to Biden. And while -- I mean, why even have the stink of it?

HONIG: Yes, there's -- recusal does not mean the case goes away --

HARDEN: Right.

HONIG: -- to your point. Recusal means it goes to a judge who there's no questions about. By the way, if 999 out of 1000 federal judges, if another federal judge came up and said, hey, I think this case may be above your head, would say, thanks for the advice, I think keep it, right?

HARDEN: Not happen.

HONIG: So, she's definitely not going to let go of it because a couple of more senior judges said, you may not be up to the task.

HARDEN: I think that's right. I mean, you know, your colleagues telling you to do something when you're an article three judge is not going to make you do it. But what I'm saying is that it's such a historic case, so there just is no reason to have the stench of somebody arguing that it's somehow unfair.

DUPREE: Telling one judge -- one federal judge telling another judge, you should recuse because you're not up for the case. Though, to me, that is number one extraordinary. Number two, somebody inappropriate, frankly. I mean, if the reason why can and should have given up the case and we've seen him from reporting, maybe because there wasn't a secure, confidential information facility located in our courthouse. That's different.

But if the rationale for stepping aside was, well, you're young, you're new, you don't know what you're doing, give it to one of the older judges, I don't know. That's questionable in my mind.

TAPPER: Yes. My impression is judges tend to have rather healthy egos.

HONIG: Especially doesn't life tenure.

TAPPER: Yes, of course. For sure.

HARDEN: Not going to tell me what --

TAPPER: Thanks, one and all for being here. Appreciate it.

The trial of a Los Angeles ballerina is now underway in Russia. How a donation to charity led to her facing up to 20 years in prison. Plus, the violent confrontation at sea caught in video, one that experts say raises the risk of the U.S. being pulled into yet another global conflict.



TAPPER: And our world lead, a 33-year-old Russian American ballerina who was detained in Russia and accused of committing treason for donating $50 to a Ukrainian charity appeared in a Russian court today. Ksenia Karelina, who lives in Los Angeles after immigrating to the United States more than a decade ago was detained earlier this year while visiting her grandparents in Russia. CNN's Matthew Chance joins us now from Moscow.

Matthew, what happened in court today?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the court date was put back until August the seventh where that trial will resume. But you know, Ksenia Karelina is facing extremely serious charges. These are treason charges. And then based on the allegation, I don't know whether it's a fact or not, that she donated, I think it was $51 to a U.S. based charity, which did humanitarian work inside Ukraine. And it's because of that, because she's a dual national as well, she's a US citizen, she's also a Russian citizen.

But when she came back here earlier this year visiting her grandparents in the city of Yekaterinburg, which is about 1000 miles or so from Moscow, she was detained, she was accused of treason, and is facing a very set -- was facing a life sentence, maximum prison sentence if she's found guilty of that charge, because the Kremlin has recently increased the penalty for treason.

And I think it just goes to show, Jake, how heavily the Kremlin is cracking down on any perception of dissent with, you know, amongst his own people, passing down sentences like this, targeting individuals like this, partly because of what she did. But you know, I think can't rule the idea that she was partly targeted as well because of that dual American passport.

TAPPER: There are a number of Americans detained in Russia right now, obviously, Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan, foremost perhaps among them, we certainly cover those two a lot on this show. How dangerous is it to simply just be an American existing in Russia?

CHANCE: Well, I think it's getting increasingly dangerous. You're right, you know, Paul Whelan, Evan Gershkovitch, Alsu Kurmasheva, who was recently arrested she works for Radio Free, Europe. She's at dual national as well. You know, a golden black a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army, he was sentenced to just under four years the other day for stealing money and allegedly assaulting a woman believed to be his girlfriend, a Russian woman. Yes, incredibly dangerous.


And the State Department in fairness have been warning, sorry, U.S. citizens for some time about the dangers facing American passport holders in this country and warning people to stay away. And those recent cases and all those people in custody, they really sort of reiterate and underline those hazards and those dangers of being an American in Russia right now.

TAPPER: Matthew Chance in Moscow thanks so much.

The United States says it is standing by its allies in the Philippines after this video released by the Philippine Military shows one of its ships being sandwiched by the Chinese coast guard in the contested South China Sea. Multiple Philippine service members were reportedly injured. This class marks a clear escalation and could have serious implications for U.S. relations with China as CNN is Ivan Watson reports.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A high seas confrontation that could ignite a war. In the middle is a boat belonging to U.S. ally, the Philippines, sandwiched by the China Coast Guard in the heavily contested South China Sea on Monday. Footage released by the Armed Forces of the Philippines shows its uniformed sailors attempting to fight back. Some Chinese Coast Guard personnel armed with axes and knives. But Beijing says the Philippines started it.

LIN JIAN, CHINESE MINISTRY OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS (through translator): Law enforcement measures taken by the China coast guard at the site were professional and restrained.

WATSON (voice-over): Chinese says it seized guns and ammunition from the Philippine ship, which was on route to the Second Thomas Shoal. It is in Manila's exclusive economic zone, but Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea for itself.

In March, I was on board a Philippine Coast Guard ship on one of these routine trips. Chinese coast guard ships swarmed the Philippine ship.

WATSON: It is just after sunrise and as you may see, there is a large Chinese Coast Guard ship directly in front of this Philippine Coast Guard vessel.

WATSON (voice-over): A Chinese Coast Guard ship blasted another Philippine boat with water cannons.

Monday's clash marks a clear escalation with multiple Philippine servicemen injured. Just last month, the Philippine President drew this red line.

PRES. FERDINAND MARCOS JR., PHILLIPINES: If a Filipino citizen is killed by a willful act, that that is, I think, very, very close to what we define as an act of war. And therefore, we will respond accordingly.

WATSON (voice-over): If that happens, the United States could be called to help the Philippines. And some experts argue Manila already has grounds to invoke its mutual defense treaty with the U.S. which has increased its military presence in the Philippines, angering China.

RAY POWELL, GORDIAN KNOW CENTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY INNOVATION: The Philippines would be perfectly within his rights under the treaty to go to the United States and say, this meets the terms of Article Three, we need your help and enter into those formal high level consultations about what is to be done.

WATSON (voice-over): In a call with his Filipino counterpart this week, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the U.S. commitment to defending the Philippines is ironclad.

This simmering maritime dispute now threatens to boil over with all the potential for a much greater conflict.

Ivan Watson, CNN.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Ivan Watson for that report.

Blurring the lines between church and state, is that what's going on? Louisiana is now requiring school classrooms to display the 10 commandments, one specific version of it. The new lawsuit plan to block this from happening is next.



TAPPER: Back with our politics lead, Louisiana's Republican governor Jeff Landry says he cannot wait to be sued over his state's new law which requires any public school, including colleges that receive state funding to prominently display a poster sized Protestant version of the 10 commandments. There are three different versions Catholic, Protestant and Jewish. They enumerate the 10 commandments differently.

Governor Landry's wish will come true because just hours after the signing, the American Civil Liberties Union or ACLU announced that they would prepare a lawsuit. And joining us now is Attorney Heather Weaver with the ACLU's program on freedom of religion and belief. Thank you for joining us.

So the ACLU sees this as, quote, "blatantly unconstitutional, a violation of the separation of church and state." I want you to listen to one of the cosigners of the legislation speaking earlier today on CNN.


LAUREN VENTRELLLA, (R) LOUSIANA STATE HOUSE: Checked in the state of Louisiana, we have echoed a strong voice that we believe that faith is a very important part of history and the founding of this nation. Again, we've got it posted in historical buildings all over the place. I don't understand why this is such a shock factor to the nation that we would somehow do this.


TAPPER: What's your response?

HEATHER WEAVER, SENIOR STAFF ATTORNEY ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION AND BELIEF: Well, the 10 commandments are not posted in historical buildings all over the place. They are not the foundation of U.S. law in posting them in other buildings or is not the same as posting them in our public schools. Hundreds of 1000s of Louisiana schoolchildren are going to be forced to view the 10 commandments in every single classroom every day, in their music classes and their science classes and their math classes. And that's going to send a message to them, it's going to say, especially to the kids who don't believe in the particular version of the Ten Commandments that the state has approved this official state version. It's telling them that they don't belong, that they're outcasts in their own school community.


It's a terrible message to send to children. It's also a blatant and obvious attempt to convert these children to Christianity. And that's just something that is not permissible in a democracy where we have a strong separation of church and state through our constitutional protection.

TAPPER: How soon should we expect the ACLU to file suit?

WEAVER: Oh, very soon, you can stay tuned. But next week, sometime we will be in court with our -- with representing our clients and suing the state.

TAPPER: So you will no doubt hear this argument, I'd like to know what your response would be, a 2023 Pew survey finds that 60 percent of the American people identify as Protestant or Catholic. Religion has historically played a big role in American public life. Is it really such a bad thing for there to be a poster saying, thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not commit adultery?

WEAVER: Well, the Ten Commandments are religious scripture. And in fact, the version selected by the state is rooted in one particular denomination, Lutheranism. It's not just -- it doesn't actually encompass all Protestant faiths. So that's important to note. There's wide disagreement among various faiths and denominations about what the text of the Ten Commandments say, and what they mean.

And let's not forget that the first few or actually probably four or five and six of the Commandments explicitly reference religion and their religious dictates. They say, don't take the name of the Lord in vain. They say, don't make a graven images, remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. These are not just a religious moral tenets that they're trying to teach the kids. If you want to teach the kids not to kill, if you want to teach the kids not to steal, those are certainly valuable lessons that of course, we want to values that we want to instill in all of our children. But there are ways to do that without posting the Ten Commandments in every single public school classroom. TAPPER: The ACLU also has a history of defending students' rights to decline to say the Pledge of Allegiance, which of course, includes one nation under God, which was added to the pledge in the 50s, I believe. How will that history and form if it will at all, how the ACLU approaches this case?

WEAVER: Well, the -- in that case, that cases was really about that the issue is really about the speech issue. Here, we're talking about separation of church and state issue, whether the state is imposing religious scripture, on students really for no reason, the Pledge of Allegiance, ostensibly at least has some sort of patriotic purpose. Although, again, as you know, we do object to the inclusion of under God on it. And we think students have a right to not stand for the pledge if they don't want to.

And so, you know, we're defining as students right there. We also defend students' rights to exercise their faith and school all the time. But this is not that, this is the government imposing a particular religious scripture on students day in and day out from kindergarten through senior year. You know, if you go -- once you enroll in school, you're going to be subjected to this, we calculated it, it's something like over 2,000 days, you will be subjected to the Ten Commandments on this classroom walls, official state version.

It's sending the message that these are the rules that you should be following that this is the religious doctrine, you should believe in. And that just violates the rights of students and parents and families to decide for themselves what they want to believe. Do we really want the government telling us what our religious beliefs should be? That's what's happening here with the Ten Commandments displays.

TAPPER: Heather Weaver with the ACLU, thank you so much. Appreciate it.


Three months after the horrific bridge collapse, some of the crew on the cargo ship might finally be able to get off and home to their families. The new details from today's hearing next.


TAPPER: In our national lead, as the cost of college continues to soar and technology such as AI is rapidly transforming our lives. There's a growing push by some of the nation's largest companies to try to focus on skills not often taught at universities. A key to the American dream of finding financial success and building generational wealth is of course owning a home, yes, because of student debt. This remains an unfulfilled dream for many Americans. Athena Jones reports now on a drive aimed at helping those without a college diploma to succeed, and it might help bridge a persistent racial gap in our society.


ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Twenty-four- year-old, Amari Morgan, has been an associate controls technician at General Motors for two and a half years. Morgan test the robots that build the vehicles and fixes software issues.

AMARI MORGAN, TECHNICIAN, GENERAL MOTORS: Is the key unexpected surprises from happening.

JONES: From happening.

JONES (voice-over): Her favorite part of the job --

MORGAN: Being able to see these machines do their job, it's very interesting. Getting hands on experience, working with them and learning from my other teammates is very rewarding.

JONES (voice-over): Hands on experience that did not require a college degree.

MORGAN: I didn't expect it to happen so quickly.

JONES: And why not?

MORGAN: Just schooling, I figured the quick way to get there would just be go to school do your four year degree, and then eventually getting the reward of working inside this environment.

JONES (voice-over): Sixty-two percent of all U.S. workers aged 25 and older and 72 percent of black workers do not have a bachelor's degree.

JONES: Making it harder to get good paying jobs and contributing to the racial wealth gap, which Federal Reserve data shows grew to a difference of more than $240,000 between typical white family and a typical black family in 2022.

JONES (voice-over): Fortunately for Morgan, General Motors is part of OneTen, a coalition of some 70 Fortune 500 companies at the forefront of the skills first movement. An approach to hiring that focuses on skills over college degrees.


DEBBIE DYSON, CEO, ONETEN: We're trying to sort of level the playing field.

JONES (voice-over): Founded in 2020, the coalition has an ambitious goal, place 1 million black and other workers who don't have a bachelor's degree into good paying family sustaining jobs in 10 years.

DYSON: So it's not a degree that's going to be the golden ticket. It's going to be the skills that are required to get you the job that hopefully puts you on a sustainable path.

JONES (voice-over): More young people are rethinking a four-year degree, given the rising cost of college and taking on debt. A report by the Gates Foundation found confidence in the value of a college degree fell from 2022 to 2023 among non-college graduates aged 18 to 30. While confidence in the value of job training, and professional licensing programs went up. Morgan enrolled in Community College in 2019. Just as she was wrapping up her first semester, the pandemic struck derailing her plans, so she took jobs in retail.

MORGAN: Something about being an engineer and being in technology just kept calling to me.

JONES (voice-over): And she struggled to save money. She soon found a tuition free technology training program, run by a partner in OneTen's Talent Development Network, helping connect companies like GM with workers trained in specific skills like coding. Morgan is now working to master the JavaScript programming language, and still hopes to one day earn a bachelor's degree. But for now, she credits this job with boosting her confidence, providing financial security and peace of mind.

MORGAN: Having programs like this actually spread the word that no jobs are looking for your experience. You know, you don't have to have this fancy degree behind it. You can just come as you are.

JONES (voice-over): Athena Jones, CNN, Warren, Michigan.


TAPPER: For 12 long weeks now, nearly three months, 21 crew members of the Dali cargo ship have been stuck on board after the ship lost power and toppled the Francis Scott Key Bridge in Baltimore. But this morning, a hearing is paving the way for at least some of them to finally be able to get out of that situation and fly home to their families halfway across the world. CNN's Gabe Cohen is in Baltimore for us. Gabe, tell us what happened in this hearing?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so Jake, a deal has been reached that would allow eight of those crew members to finally set foot off the ship be transported directly to the airport and fly home potentially, in the next day or two after this, a very long endeavor of this long issue that they have gone through. Remember 21 crew members on board the Dali, 20 of them are Indian nationals, one of them is from Sri Lanka. All of them have been stuck on the boat for nearly three months now.

And there are several reasons for that. Look, they've been keeping the ship, safe and operational, which was particularly critical when it was stuck behind me here at the reckoned site. But they had been also been part of several investigations, federal investigations, including a federal criminal probe involving the Department of Justice as investigators are still trying to piece together why it is that the ship lost power and steering just beyond those pillars behind me before ramming into the bridge.

They are still piecing all of that together. We know that there has been a federal order in place, a customs order in place requiring the 21 crew members to be and stay on board that ship. But we've learned from court documents that in the last few days, the Coast Guard and the Department of Justice gave the green light essentially for those eight specific lower ranking crew members to be released and to be able to fly home as long as they are available for this investigation and eventually to be deposed by lawyers for the city of Baltimore.

Remember, they still have that big case, as they're seeking damages from the shipping companies. But Jake, for those other 13 crew members, they are still stuck here in the United States. They are not going to be allowed to leave potentially, until the end of this investigation. In fact, I spoke with the chaplain for the Port of Baltimore. He has been working closely with the crew of the Dali since this incident. And he told me he doesn't believe those 13 crew members are going to be able to leave until after all of the litigation is done, Jake,. and that could take many months, maybe more than a year.

TAPPER: And that's because they can't -- a ship cannot be empty. I mean, I guess the parent company could send people to replace them would that work?

COHEN: Correct. That's what's happening right now that they are going to send a replacement crew for the Dali. There are already -- it's already in motion that's happening. And they're going to replace those eight crew members. But those federal investigations are a big piece of it. And the federal government, these agencies have not wanted to release the full crew as this investigation is happening. And that's what we saw play out at court where the city of Baltimore almost blocked this, telling the judge they didn't want those eight crew members to leave because they hadn't had a chance to interview them. And they were worried they were going to disappear into the wind. But they got assurances from their lawyers saying they will be available for interviews when those depositions come around. Jake?


TAPPER: All right. Gabe Cohen, thanks so much.

We asked and you answered. Coming up next, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here to answer health questions that you sent him after we asked for your questions yesterday.


TAPPER: In our Health Lead, we continue our brand new segment Dr. Sanjay Gupta On Call where you get your medical questions answered. Now the topic this week is Alzheimer's. And as we touched on yesterday, nearly 7 million Americans are living with this horrific disease to say nothing of their friends and family members. Alzheimer's is the focus of Dr. Gupta's latest documentary, The Last Alzheimer's Patient, which is now streaming on Max.

Yesterday, we asked you to submit questions that you might have for Sanjay. And today the doctor is in. So let me bring you in CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta, also a neurosurgeon. So Gita from Houston asks you Sanjay, quote, can daily mental exercises or doing words with friends or paper-based crossword puzzles, reduce your odds of getting dementia? That's actually my question too, Sanjay, because I'm doing these word games and such because I read somewhere that keeping your brain active can help. Is that real?

[17:50:28] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, I think it can help. I think what if Gita is asking, can it actually reduce your risk of dementia later on in life? That would tell you I think the evidence is less clear on that. What we seem to hear is that if you're doing a lot of crossword puzzles, it may help a little bit with your working memory. But what it mainly does is make you good at doing crossword puzzles. The point is this. If you're actually trying to create cognitive reserve or cognitive resilience in the brain, which helps decrease your chances of dementia later, you need to be doing things that are different. Taking up a new hobby, for example, learning how to paint, doing a musical instrument, taking up a new language, preferably things with your hands, so instruments and painting would be better.

Crossword puzzles, not so much, not at least in terms of looking at the long term risk of dementia. Interestingly, I'll tell you, Jake, the thing that has the best evidence in terms of actually growing new brain cells is brisk activity, brisk movement that actually helps create new brain cells. So for you, for example, I'd suggest going for a brisk walk with Jennifer, your wife, versus doing a crossword puzzle, if delaying or not getting dementia is your goal.

TAPPER: I feel like Jennifer maybe paid you to tell me that. She's always trying to get me on going to go on walks. OK. OK, I'll do it. Jesse from Atlanta asks, do you suggest those that have a family history of Alzheimer's, get the screenings and tests that you took as a baseline, or at what age, or not necessary? A lot of people wanted to know how they can test and what early warning signs they should look out for?

GUPTA: Yes. I'll tell you, the testing that I went through was pretty extensive. It was also a part of a clinical trial that Richard Isaacson is running as part of a preventive neurology testing. It's not widely available yet, although they're getting to that point. There is a website called, retainyourbrain. And you can do a lot of these cognitive exercises there. I got to tell you, Jake, I don't know, I think you would do really well on this. But questions like name as many words as you can, starting with the letter T, in the next 60 seconds. And the more complicated the word, the more words you can actually name, the better. How many animals can you name, the rarer the animal, the more unusual the animal, the better?

How many can you name in the next 60 seconds, things like that. But also checking your bone density, because physical health and brain health are very interconnected and that's what a lot of these studies show. So, you know, the second part of Jesse's question, how do you really know, you know, if something is age-related versus actually dementia due to Alzheimer's?

Well, if you look at sort of how people remember things, I always say if someone actually forgets the name of a family member, that's a problem. For getting the name of acquaintance, that's actually pretty common. A better example, people forget where they put their car keys all the time. That is not a sign of dementia. But if it takes you an extra beat, to actually remember what those keys are, what is this thing that I'm holding? That's obviously a sign of a bigger problem? So that's one way to sort of think about it, Jesse.

TAPPER: I'm very excited that knowing an owling ditto (ph) or a tree kangaroo will get me extra points. That's my jam, those weird animals.

GUPTA: I knew you do well on that exam.

TAPPER: Lisa from North Carolina wants to know, quote, my mother and my grandmother had Alzheimer's. Should I be tested for it? That's another question. A lot of people who had family members with Alzheimer's wondered if they should be concerned, what they can do if they're genetically predisposed to get it? What do you say to them?

GUPTA: Well, let me answer this simply. I think a few years ago, I would have said, maybe not, because the testing wasn't that good. And there wasn't a lot you could do about it. But I think those things are starting to change, the testing is getting a lot better. It's becoming more determinative in terms of what it can tell you. And also there are things you can do now to decrease your risk of Alzheimer's later in life. And as we showed in the documentary, Jake, even if people who have mild cognitive impairment, there is signs that people can reverse those symptoms as well, Jake.

TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much. This is fun. Are we going to do this every week? Is this our new thing?

GUPTA: I'd love to have your show but absolutely, Jake.

TAPPER: I'm in.

GUPTA: I'm happy to show up with quizzes or whatever.

TAPPER: I'm in. All right.

GUPTA: You got it.


TAPPER: Thanks so much, Sanjay. Our Last Leads are next.



TAPPER: Topping our Last Leads today, in pop culture, a tribute to the legendary actor Donald Sutherland he died today at the age of 88 after a long illness. Many will remember Sutherland for his scenes dealing roles in classic films such as "MASH" or "Animal House" or "Klute." Younger audiences likely know him for his work as President Snow in "The Hunger Games" series.


DONALD SUTHERLAND, ACTOR: Ms. Everdeen, it's the things we love most that destroy us.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: So good. His son, actor Kiefer Sutherland, remembered his dad as a man, quote, never daunted by a roll, good, bad or ugly. He loved what he did. May his memory be a blessing.

Take a look at this cover model, that's 102-year-old Holocaust survivor Margot Friedlander, gracing the pages of "Vogue" Germany. Before Friedlander's mother was sent to Auschwitz, she left her daughter a message saying try to make your life. Friedlander told "Vogue" Germany, quote, I am grateful, grateful that I made it for being able to fulfill my mother's wish that I have made my life, unquote.


We are just one week away from the biggest event yet of the 2024 presidential race, the first general election presidential debate. It will be right here on CNN. I will co-moderate that discussion along with my colleague and friend, Dana Bash. You can watch it live next Thursday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern here on CNN and streaming on Max.

The news continues on CNN with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer right next door in The Situation Room. Thanks for watching.