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The Lead with Jake Tapper

President Biden Insists To Stay In The Race, Top Democrats Call For Him To Drop Out; GOP Adopts Trump-Influenced New Policy Platform; Trump Distances From Project 2025; Dr. Sanjay Gupta On Questions Around Biden's Health; Dozens Killed, 130 Plus Injured In Russian Attacks Across Ukraine; Elle Reeve Chronicles Rise Of The Alt-Right In New Book. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to "The Lead," I'm Jake Tapper. This hour, the disturbing evolution of the so-called alt-right in their years since that notorious deadly march on Charlottesville, Virginia. I'm going to be joined by an award-winning CNN journalist who has just written a book and will explain how their jokes and their ideology and their violent tendencies are becoming hidden influences in the 2024 elections.

Plus, we're just one week from the start of the Republican National Convention, and today, a key party committee approved the new platform with changes made to reflect Donald Trump's views on multiple issues. So what exactly is in these plans for the GOP?

And leaving this hour, quote, "I'm in this race to the end," unquote. President Joe Biden telling supporters today, Democratic lawmakers, and the American public that he has no plans to drop out of the 2024 race. Instead, his team is going on offense, which today included joining a call with top donors to his re-election campaign, where the president said he is still the only Democrat who can beat Donald Trump.

A growing number of Democratic lawmakers, however, are calling on Biden to drop out of the race, including Congressman Adam Smith, the highest-ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, who told me just a few minutes ago this.


REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA): Well, look, I think he should step aside. I think it's become clear that he's not the best person to carry the Democratic message. And here's the thing. We have an incredibly strong message and record to run on. In all, you know, respect to the president, he's done a great job.

Personally, I think Kamala Harris would be a much better, stronger candidate. And because she is constitutionally his second, that's the way it's supposed to work.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill. Manu, House and Senate lawmakers back in D.C. today after getting an earful in those Fourth of July parades. What are you hearing?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, a lot of members are still waiting to express their position about whether Joe Biden should remain in the race. Some of them say that he needs to more aggressively make his case, that he can actually defeat Donald Trump, expressing concerns about his viability as a candidate.

This all comes as the president is trying to shore up support among the largest contingent within the House Democratic Caucus, the Congressional Black Caucus, meeting virtually with them today as their support critical ahead of a meeting tomorrow morning with the full House Democratic Caucus about this issue.

And also key question, what will Hakeem Jeffries do? The Democratic leader has yet to formally take a position about whether Biden should remain atop the ticket. He's in listening mode, I am told.

On the Senate side, Democratic leader Chuck Schumer came in to the Senate today and only would say, quote, "I am with Joe." He would not answer any other questions at the moment saying that he's for Joe, but wouldn't answer questions about his viability as a candidate and whether he has confidence in him as a nominee.

I also put that question directly to Congressman Jamie Raskin, Maryland Democrat, top member of the House Oversight Committee, about President Biden and about him staying atop the ticket.


RAJU: Do you think that Biden should remain as your party's nominee?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, he's definitely the nominee. There's no doubt about it. He already won the nomination. So if there were to be any change, it would have to come from him.

RAJU: Yeah, but what do you think? I mean, do you think he should step aside?

RASKIN: Well, you know, I don't have any -- I don't have anything further to help illuminate the situation at this point. I think that, you know -- yeah, he won the nomination convincingly and, you know, this is where we are.

RAJU: Are you concerned about him as your party's nominee?

RASKIN: You know, I think he's got a strong team around him and they're making strategic choices. And we're going to be unified against Donald Trump, who is a seriously mortal threat to democracy and freedom in our country.


RAJU: And I'm here now with Congressman Gerry Connolly. He's a senior Virginia Democrat. Congressman Connolly, do you think that Joe Biden should stay as your party's nominee?

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D-VA): I support Joe Biden, but I also believe that he has to use this time, especially this week, to reassure people in a convincing way.

RAJU: What does that mean? What does he have to do?

CONNOLLY: Well, he's got lots of public appearances. I'm very involved in the NATO summit this week. He's going to be hosting that summit. He's going to be on an international stage. He's going to have a, I hope, freewheeling press conference. Those will all be tests of whether what happened at the debate was an anomaly or whether it's something deeper than that.

RAJU: Do you have confidence that he could beat Donald Trump?

CONNOLLY: I believe the Democratic coalition is quite capable of beating Donald Trump.


RAJU: What about Biden? Are you concerned about Biden's chances in November?

CONNOLLY: At the moment, President Biden is leading that coalition. So yes, I do. Is it a little steeper climb today than it was a few weeks ago? Yeah, but we have a long way to go between now and November.

RAJU: But if he does not meet that test, is it time to move on, replace him with somebody else?

CONNOLLY: I believe that we have to have a family conversation if that test is not met.

RAJU: Thanks for your time. I appreciate it. So you're hearing a lot of that, Jake, from a number of members that I've spoken to today. They want Joe Biden to do more, as Congressman Connolly just said. But will he meet that test, and will more Democrats call for him to step aside, including the Democratic leaders? That, of course, is going to be the key question in the days ahead, Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, I think they're all being a bit polite. I mean, if he could settle these issues by doing what was necessary, one assumes he would have done it already. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks.

Let's bring in a Democratic House candidate who's calling on President Biden to drop out of the race. His name is Michael B. Moore. He is challenging Republican Congresswoman Nancy Mason, South Carolina's first congressional district. Thanks so much for joining us, sir. You released a statement on Twitter, or X, calling on President Biden to step down as a Democratic candidate for president.

You wrote in part, quote, "This is the most consequential election of our lifetime. The party needs to come together to identify and rally around a new nominee and look to President Biden's experience as the only candidate to beat Donald Trump less than four years ago," unquote. Why do you think this is the best course of action? Do you think Joe Biden can't beat Trump, or do you think something else is going on here beyond just his poll numbers?

MICHAEL B. MOORE, SOUTH CAROLINA CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: Well, first, thanks for the invitation. It's wonderful to be here with you. Look, I think it's a really difficult situation. I think the president has done an amazing job in office. I think he's beaten Donald Trump. He's accomplished an amazing legislative record. I think he's got a crucial role in helping Democrats win in November and take office in January.

I just am at the point where I don't believe that it's with him at the top of the ticket. I think we've got to bring along longtime Biden voters, but I think we've to broaden the coalition. We've got to be able to bring in young people. We've got to be able to bring in independents, moderate Republicans, and the like.

I just am at the point where, after having talked to so many people in my district and talked to donors and constituents, I just believe that having the president in this, you know, sort of emeritus almost kind of a role, but in guiding the next person, I think that would be the best way that he can help Democrats win in November.

TAPPER: Who would you like to see? Who would be your dream ticket?

MOORE: You know, I'm not sure that I have one. I think there are lots of really capable folks at the top of the party who are thinking about that. We've all seen that some of those conversations are coming out. You know, I do believe deeply in the Democratic agenda. I talk to folks every day who, whether it's women's reproductive freedom or jobs in the economy or healthcare or education or the environment, they need to have government working for them.

I just believe now that all of this conversation about the president has become a distraction and taking people's focus away from the Democratic agenda, which I believe is so powerful.

TAPPER: I want to play a little bit about what President Biden said on "Morning Joe" this morning.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I've been all over the country, number one. And I've gone over the country for several reasons. One, to make sure my instinct was right about the party still wanting me to be the nominee. I want to make sure I was right, that the average voter out there still wanted Joe Biden. And I'm confident they do.


TAPPER: So he goes on to make an argument in the letter he wrote to Congress. Millions of Americans have voted for him to be the nominee in the primary race and their votes cannot be just thrown out. What's your response to it all and what are you hearing from voters in your district, which for people who don't know this? It leans Republican, but you have had Congressman Joe Cunningham represented it a few years ago. It is the -- it can be a swing district. What are they telling you when you walk into Fourth of July parades?

MOORE: Yeah, people are scared. People are afraid. People know that, you know, that Donald Trump and Project 2025 and effectively are feeling the impact that fascism is at our back door. And so, you know, people are nervous.


Again, I think people came into this season concerned about, again, about women's reproductive freedom, jobs, and the economy, the environment and the like. But I think now that this really acute focus on the president and his health has taken over, I think people are just really afraid.

And from my standpoint, I have talked to a number of folks, again, young people in particular, but independents, moderate Republicans, who I think otherwise would resonate with the Democratic agenda. I think a lot of the conversation now about the president's health is taking their focus away from that.

And I, again, I think it's critically important that Joe Biden be a part of the Democratic victory. I think he's likely the only way that Democrats win in November, but just not at the top of the ticket.

TAPPER: All right, Michael B. Moore running for Congress from South Carolina's first congressional district. Thank you so much.

Coming up, new reporting says an expert on Parkinson's disease has visited Joe Biden's White House eight times over the last year. The White House's response to questions about why that's coming up.

Plus, Republican officials approving a new party platform in line with the priorities of the presumptive nominee, Donald Trump. So what is the GOP's focus if Trump wins in November and what is this Project 2025? We're breaking it all down. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And our "Politics Lead," as Donald Trump has been staying away from the cameras, he has been reshaping the Republican Party and its priorities ahead of next week's Republican convention in Milwaukee. CNN's Kristen Holmes is in Miami for us, where Trump is holding a rally tomorrow. And Kristen, you've gotten a look at the new GOP platform. Tell us what you can.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the most striking part about it, Jake, is one, it is much shorter, much more watered down than what we saw in both 2016 and 2020. And it really mimics the candidate himself, which isn't that surprising, because I am told that not only did Donald Trump help edit the document, but he also wrote some of the parts of the platform himself. So three of the parts I want to specifically point to.

One is abortion. Again, a much more watered-down version of abortion policy than we have seen in the past. There is no call for a national abortion ban. And in fact, he talks about how it should be punted to the states, something he has said since the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

The other point I want to make is this of marriage. They took out how to define marriage as between a man and a woman. The third one that was interesting was instead of this emphasis on paying back the national debt, they focus on inflation and ending inflation and making America wealthy again.

Again, national debt has been something that has been on the Republican agenda for decades, now, really scaled back and that's something that Donald Trump doesn't care about. The other points of focus here, Donald Trump, are things that we obviously have heard from the former president time and time again, ending the weaponization of the government, talking extensively about immigration.

What is also interesting, though, is that a lot of it is very vague. Again, this is a very short document compared to what we have seen in years past. So when it comes to federal agencies, for example, something that we have reported extensively on how in a second term, it would be likely that Donald Trump would have enormous powers under the executive branch because they would move all those agencies under the executive branch. It's actually very vague as to what powers the federal agencies would have, Jake.

TAPPER: And there's this thing, obviously, that we've covered and have been for months called Project 2025. It's a roughly 900-page document. A number of Trump's former aides worked on the project, including Dr. Ben Carson and Ken Cuccinelli, former chief of staff Mark Meadows, Stephen Miller, his convicted former economic adviser Peter Navarro. The former president has just denied even knowing about it, what's going on?

HOLMES: Yeah, Jake, what's really interesting, one name you didn't mention was Russ Vought, who is the actual architect behind this idea of giving the executive branch this enormous amount of power. And all the people you just mentioned are people who, one, participated in Project 2025, but also, two, still talk to Donald Trump on a regular basis.

However, the campaign has routinely separated themselves from Project 2025, particularly as it's grown increasingly controversial, some of those policies in place. And now Donald Trump is saying he doesn't know anything about it at all. In a statement on True Social, he said, "I know nothing about Project 2025. I have no idea who is behind it. I disagree with some of the things they're saying. And some of the things they're saying are absolutely ridiculous and abysmal. Anything they do, I wish them luck. But I have nothing to do with them."

Obviously, again, people that he knows who could even serve in another Trump administration. However, they have sought to distance themselves from it himself here, doing it in a very Trumpian way, saying he doesn't even know these people, who many of whom he still speaks to on a regular basis. TAPPER: Or literally currently work with his campaign. Kristen Holmes,

thanks so much. Let's discuss with our panel. What's your take on this? Project 2025, we've all been covering it for months about, you know, it's not from the campaign. It's from a bunch of conservative groups that support Trump. And as Kristen points out, Russ Vought, his OMB director, is like basically the architect of it. Do you believe that he knows nothing about it?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CO-FOUNDER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE DISPATCH: No, it's an obvious lie. But I do think there's a connection between that and the changes to the platform. For eight years now, 10 years now, there's been this steady effort by a lot of intellectuals, activists, ideologues, activist groups, all that kind of thing, to craft something cogent and coherent and consistent called Trumpism, right?

And the problem is, you can't do that because Trump himself brags about how he goes with his instincts. He changes his positions. He doesn't want to be tied down to anything. And so a lot of these very committed people end up being made to look ridiculous. Kevin Roberts, the reason why Trump issued that statement, was that Kevin Roberts, the president of the Heritage Foundation, had gone on Steve Bannon's Goon Show, his podcast, and said, we're having a second American revolution, and it'll be bloodless as long as the left allows it to be.


It sounded like a creepy threat, got a lot of bad press. And Trump says, okay, all of you guys under the bus, I want nothing to do with you.

TAPPER: Right.

GOLDBERG: You have committed pro-lifers for years who've pushed the GOP to be a pro-life party. Trump says, this is a problem for me. Even though we got rid of Roe v. Wade, we're going to make the platform bend to me. I'm not going to bend to any set of principles or platform. And the consistent through line is the whole party has to shape itself to whatever Donald Trump wants at any given moment. And that means you're never going to have a consistent body of principle or politics (inaudible).

TAPPER: And what do you think about the effort, for instance, to say in the platform, in the Republican Party platform, that abortion should just be left up to the states, which is obviously not what a lot of, you know, anti-abortion groups want him to do. They want him to commit to a national ban.

MEGHAN HAYS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. I think that the Republicans know this is a losing issue for them. They've lost on every referendum that's come to the ballots in 2022 and continually they will lose. So I think that Donald Trump is realizing that this is not the way he's going to get these independent voters and these suburban women that are on the margins where this election is going to be won. So I don't think he had a choice here. He had to bend. He had to

become more -- move more to the center here or because he knows it's a losing issue. This is the one winning issue for Democrats that we can win on and so I think that he sees that as an opportunity for him.

TAPPER: I think one of the reasons why a lot of people take Project 2025 so seriously, not least of which is because Trump didn't distance himself from it until a couple days ago, is that so many of the people that Trump is likely to put in his administration, to run his administration are behind it. I mean, Russ Vought and the others.

And some of the things in here, roughly 900 pages of documents, banning abortion, issues having to do with contraception, IVF, changing how the government actually functions, getting rid of the Department of Education, allowing the new president to fire as many as 50,000 federal workers to be replaced by political appointees rather than government appointees. Do you think that Project 2025 is a liability?

MATT MOWERS, FORMER U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT ADVISER: Yeah, I mean, look, you've seen some consternation between the Trump campaign and Heritage Foundation and other groups that have been trying to develop lists of potential appointees or develop white papers, what could happen in administration. We've been seeing that going on for months now.

Remember, Susie Wiles and Chris LaCivita, both with the Trump campaign, came out and essentially warned both of these groups to stop going out there and promising jobs or acting as if they're maybe recruiting for a future administration, essentially saying, we haven't won yet.

And so, you know, there is this difference of opinion between what actually should be out there as far as policy. I think the platform is much closer reflection of where Donald Trump wants to take the party than necessarily Project 2025, which look, is probably the opinion of Russ Vought and a few other folks who are over at the Heritage Foundation.

I doubt that the Trump campaign has gone through all 900 pages of it yet, though, to decide whether they agree or disagree on every single policy point. So they don't want to take ownership of a document they had had no ability to craft into it, even if a couple of those people may end up in the administration.

Ultimately, it will be Donald Trump's administration, be a reflection of the policies he puts forth, which is probably more accurately, closely reflected in this platform, which, by the way, is the first time it's really been updated in quite some time. Usually, these platforms have become very like Frankenstein almost, you know.

TAPPER: I thought there wasn't a platform in 2020.

GOLDBERG: Except what we said last time. (Inaudible)

TAPPER: Ditto.


TAPPER: What about these comments by Kevin Roberts, the head of the Heritage Foundation, talking about the second revolution is coming? What's the quote?

GOLDBERG: It will be bloodless so long as the left allows it to be.

TAPPER: That's not a particularly kind comment.

MOWERS: No, I mean, you see this sometimes, you know, Donald Trump right now has been remarkably on message, right? I mean --

TAPPER: If you don't -- if you don't read Truth Social.

MOWERS: Yeah, right. If you don't live off that and don't follow the re-Truths, I think that's how you phrase it --


MOWERS: -- the re-Truths. It's been very on message.

TAPPER: He's been quiet.

MOWERS: He's followed -- look, he's followed the adage, and I say this metaphorically, figuratively, you know, not literally. When your opponent's committing suicide, don't commit homicide, right. Like you don't have to. It's the same result. It's less messy for you.

TAPPER: Speaking of which, let me just -- I want to get your reaction to what's going on with President Biden because it seems as though a lot -- I've spent the week and I'm sure you have, too. So I spent the week talking to Democratic operatives, Democratic lawmakers, all of whom unanimously don't think they can win under President Biden and they think that that debate performance was indicative of a bigger problem, not an aberration. But it looks like he's not going anywhere.

HAYS: No. And in knowing the president, he's dug in. This is -- he's -- I would be really surprised if he drops out. He believes in his bones he is the person that can beat Donald Trump. He's been out on the campaign trail. He's been giving speeches. He's been taking questions from reporters. He did an interview.

He is doing what people are asking him to do to show that he can do this and that the debate was just an anomaly. So I think that he's taking this to the voters and I think he is showing to everyone with the letter today, with his call to "Morning Joe" this morning, he is not going anywhere.

And the more people want to knock him down, the more he's going to want to fight. He's resilient and that's just his mentality. You knock him down, he wants to get back up and show you he's better than that. So I think that that is what we're looking at.


TAPPER: With respect, who exactly knocked him down? He fell.

HAYS: I don't think -- fair, but I think that when people are starting to criticize him from the left and the right, he's going to show people and show the voters that this is their choice, not anybody else's and he wants to take that fight to the voters.

GOLDBERG: Until he has another disastrous moment, which I think is inevitable, given the fact that it was not just an episode, in my opinion. And if he has another disastrous moment, it may come too late to fix the problem, even though it might be too late now to, but probably it's too late (ph).

TAPPER: Probably is too late, you think?

MOWERS: Yeah, I mean, look, this is something the Democratic Party, if they really truly want to correct it a year and a half ago, talking to insiders, former members of Congress, current members of Congress, Democrats. I'd always say, well, what happens if it's not Joe Biden? It's got to be Kamala Harris. And they said, well, don't saddle us with that because they know her disapproval rating is worse than Joe Biden's.

And so they could have fixed this issue politically a year and a half ago. They chose not to because they didn't want to see the vice president at the top of the ticket. They don't right now. And that's why --

TAPPER: Very quick last word.

HAYS: But to be fair, she is pulling higher with moderates and independents than Trump is right now and I do think that's a positive.

MOWERS: But no one's been talking about it till now, yeah.

HAYS: People are talking about her. So I just want to point that out.

GOLDBERG: And she can campaign and Biden can't.

TAPPER: Thanks one and all. Appreciate it.

The White House briefing room erupted today over questions about President Biden's health and refusal, the refusal of the White House to answer questions about it. CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta is going to be here next to tell us what he's hearing from doctors after that debate.



TAPPER: In our Health Lead, "The New York Times" is reporting an expert on Parkinson's disease from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center visited the White House eight times in eight months from last summer through the spring. Record show that this doctor met with President Biden's physician at the White House earlier this year, although this afternoon the White House press secretary said she cannot confirm why they met.

That as well as the President answers during last Friday's interview with "ABC's" George Stephanopoulos, particularly his refusal to say that he had taken a mental cognitive test and release that it would release the results. Bring to mind something that then Vice President Joe Biden told me, pledged to me, during his 2020 race for president.


TAPPER: Will you pledge that if you're elected, you will be transparent about your health --


TAPPER: -- all facets of your health with urgency so that we know.

BIDEN: Yes, when it occurs when anything occurs, anything can happen. Anything can happen. That's what I did. I laid out my health records, more detail, pages and pages when I became Vice President. And thank God, I am in good health. But here's the deal. Anything can happen. I become a great respecter of fate, a great respecter of fate. I've seen too much of it in my family related to accidents alone. And so I guarantee you, I guarantee you, I will be totally transparent in terms of my health and all aspects of my health.


TAPPER: As a strictly factual matter, and with all due respect to the office of President -- of the presidency, President Biden has not abided by that guarantee. He has not been totally transparent in terms of his health and all aspects of his health. He has not. I want to bring in CNN's resident neurosurgeon and chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, you wrote an essay over the weekend, inspired by conversations you've had with other doctors. The headline, it's time for President Biden to undergo detailed cognitive and neurological testing and share his results. What's been the reaction?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think it's been robust, Jake. And I certainly have heard from a lot of people in the medical field. And I think, you know, pretty unanimously people agree with that. People who are specialists in cognition and movement disorders have reached out to me sharing what their -- what they think that specific testing should even look like.

I think what was interesting, Jake, I got a lot of comments as well saying, look, OK, yes, if Biden gets this sort of testing, then Trump needs to get this testing as well. And, you know, that's fair, frankly, you know, anyone over the age of 65, in this country, Medicare recommends that they get a cognitive test as part of their annual wellness checkup. So that's totally fair.

But I think what struck me about it, Jake, was that it almost feels like people thought the cognitive testing was sort of a source of embarrassment. And that certainly wasn't the intent that this should be a source of embarrassment, but rather be an opportunity to potentially early diagnose something and potentially treat it. I think we're getting to the point, Jake, where we can think of some of these brain ailments the way that we used to think about heart disease, people didn't want to get tested for heart disease in the past. Now, we do that regularly. I think we're going to get to that point with brain stuff as well.

TAPPER: How is it possible that any physician for this President, after these numerous moments we've seen over the last, let's be charitable, and say six months, that there hasn't been the kind of cognitive testing that you're calling for, I just don't even understand it. And look, I'm not a doctor, I'm the child of a doctor and a nurse. But it just seems like, oh, this happened. Therefore, you go and get that test. Why would that not happen?

GUPTA: I really don't have a good explanation for that. You know, it's -- anyone over the 60 -- age of 65, again, should be getting this sort of testing. I think it's because it's embarrassing, frankly, and it shouldn't be. But I think it's somehow been conflated with this idea that it's going to diminish somebody, and therefore they shouldn't even bother getting tested in the first place. And that's just not how the medical establishment thinks about this.

They think this is an opportunity. There are things that can be done about this. Things that can actually be corrective, whether it's cognition or movement disorder, or whatever, to simply not even try and get that sort of data or do that sort of testing. It doesn't make sense to me, Jake, has certainly not from a medical standpoint.

TAPPER: What do you make of "The New York Times" report that an expert on Parkinson's disease visited the White House eight times in the last eight months?


GUPTA: Well, it sounds like I listened to that press conference today. It sounds like they're being really careful to sort of disentangle those visits from this Parkinson's doctor, to the President. And they're saying that there's that they're not making a clear connection had anything to do with President Biden. So I don't know what to make of that.

Here's what I would say is that the doctors at Walter Reed are some of the best doctors in the world when it comes to this. So if it is, if they are seeing the President, I'm glad, because that's part of the reason I wrote the essay was that this isn't about again, embarrassing anyone. This is about potentially getting care and treatment that can be really helpful, really beneficial. If this were my dad, President Biden were my dad, that's exactly what I'd be recommending as well.

TAPPER: What was your quick reaction, if you could quickly, what was your reaction to the debate? What did you think as a doctor, as a doctor?

GUPTA: Well, there was concern, I think from the go, frankly. First question you asked, I think right away when I watched the, you know, again, if it were my dad, there was cause for concern, stumbling of speech, sort of confused, rambling at times. And then also motor symptoms, you know, lack of expression in the face. None of those things are diagnostic of anything. I just want to be clear about that. But in aggregate, they are flags. And I think anybody and unanimously from the medical professionals I've heard, they would advocate for testing based on what they saw at that debate.

TAPPER: Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

World leaders are making their way here to Washington for the NATO Summit. And this is how Russia responds by attacking a Children's Hospital, the latest on the strikes and what all of this means for the world supported Ukraine. That's next.



TAPPER: Returning to our World Lead, in today's bold and deadly move by Vladimir Putin ahead of this week's NATO Summit here in Washington, D.C. rare daylight attacks targeting cities across Ukraine left at least 36 people killed, more than 130 injured. CNN's Nic Robertson is watching it all for us. Ukraine's largest Children's Hospital was among the targets, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, President Zelenskyy there's no way that Russia after all this time doesn't know where the hospitals are in Ukraine. This was an attack by precise precision missiles, cruise missiles, ballistic missiles and the hypersonic missiles as well. In fact, I think somebody managed to catch some video of one of the missiles plowing into the hospital.

So Ukraine is saying that there will be a response to this. It was the ICU, the oncology unit and the some of the surgeries inside the Children's Hospital that were hit. But unbelievably, this wasn't the only medical facility hit and Kyiv today. Another one was hit, seven people killed in that one, two of them patients, or five of the -- other five were staff.

Ukraine has been very, very clear on this. President Zelenskyy has said on this, not only will Ukraine respond but he wants Ukraine's allies to speak out about this, and we saw it today. A significant number, several dozen ambassadors from the E.U., from NATO, from the U.K., from Switzerland, from Sweden, from Norway, from the Netherlands, from Italy, from France, and from Vietnam, from Mexico, from Armenia, Azerbaijan, so many different countries, Argentina, as well, all sent their ambassadors to the hospital to survey the damage, see the damage.

And this, of course, is part of Ukraine's way of shoring up an international message to tell Putin that this -- the international community is not going to stand for it, Jake.

TAPPER: What is the state of Russia's war against Ukraine, as of now, as we prepare for the NATO Summit here in Washington this week?

ROBERTSON: Yes, one of those sort of more significant villages to fall or come close to falling is Chasiv Yar and that's in Donetsk, and that's in the east of the country. And that's significant because it abuts one of the other major towns there that Russia has taken control of. They've been trying to push further. The reality is Russia is not able to push in as deep as they want, but they're still able to inflict these absolutely abusive, murderous daytime raids. This was a daytime raid on the public during a time when people were going to work.

So Russia is still able to penetrate the air defense systems 38 missiles fight today, 30 interceptor. But along the frontlines, Russia is trying to punch through in a couple of areas but not able to do it, but it costs the Ukrainian troops of course.

TAPPER: All right, Nic Robertson, thanks so much. Appreciate it.


From the darkest corners of the Internet into real life, coming up next, I'm going to be joined by CNN's award winning journalist who have spent a decade reporting on extremism. She's going to tell us about her insight into how the alt-right is trying to reshape this election and the United States.



TAPPER: Our Politics Lead now, on Saturday Democratic Tennessee State Representative Justin Jones shared this photo and denounced the march by the far right group, Patriot Front, on the streets of Nashville saying, quote, white supremacists marching outside the Tennessee Capitol today. This comes after a march of Neo Nazis in the spring and Proud Boys rallying there a year ago, unquote.

The Anti-Defamation League describes the Patriot Front as a white supremacist group that formed after the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. CNN's Elle Reeve joins us now. She is the author of a fascinating new book. It's called, "Black Pill: How I Witnessed the Darkest Corners of the Internet Come to Life, Poison Society, and Capture American Politics." And here it is right here. Elle, thanks so much for being here. It's a great book.


TAPPER: It publishes tomorrow?


TAPPER: Everyone should go out there and buy one and we'll post it on the old social media after this. But let me ask you, Republican Senator Mike Lee of Utah posted something about that that Patriot Front group and their parade or whatever they are, their March. He wrote, I've never heard of this group. Any chance this is a false flag operation. Now, beyond the notion that a U.S. senator is actually just throwing out speculation like that, I'm no expert on this stuff. And I've heard a Patriot Front. Tell me your take on that. And also just how the alt-right how these white supremacists have evolved since Charlottesville.

REEVE: So in Charlottesville, they were proud to march bare faced and shout Jews will not replace us. And most of America recoiled. They were ostracized. They lost their jobs. They couldn't raise money because financial services companies kick them off. So the ones who survived, they shifted. They started emphasizing patriotism, trying to conflate patriotism and white nationalism.

If you look at them, they're marching with almost comic book movie type shields. They're red, white, and blue. They lit -- the another thing you can notice is they keep their faces covered and they don't announce their marches because they're afraid of counter protesters showing up and making them look weak.

Now Mike Lee, if you look at his Twitter profile, his -- the name is based Mike Lee. So maybe he hasn't heard of this group. But that term based comes from the exact same extremist subculture that Patriot Front came out of. And that speaks to the degree to which even though these guys haven't entered the mainstream, their ideas have.


TAPPER: Well that's interesting, yes. There certainly has been an evolution of Senator Mike Lee, from the days that he came on the scene as an earnest constitutional conservative. Your book profiles a lot of people who are not household names. Fredrick or Fred Brennan plays a crucial role in creating a place on the internet, where trolls lurk. Tell us about him and why he's significant.

REEVE: So a decade ago, Fred Brennan was a really smart teenager in a tough circumstance. He'd been in foster care. He had a severe disability. The Internet was his window to the world. So his vision was a website where there were no rules, free -- total free speech. And he thought all kinds of people will be on it, kids, sports teams, whatever. But what happened was with no rules of moderation, Neo Nazis, abusive people, misogynist, they sort of forced everyone else out.

And so by the late 2010s, it becomes a place where the only idea bouncing around is fascism. It becomes a place where mass shooters post their manifestos including the Christchurch shooter, and then it becomes a platform for QAnon.

TAPPER: Let's talk about the title of your book you write, quote, the black pill is a dark but gleeful nihilism, the system is corrupt, and its collapse is inevitable, taking the black pill allows you to justify any action, cruelty, intimidation, violence. You also write, quote, most of the people I interviewed on January 6th had been black pilled, even if they wouldn't have described themselves that way, and even if they'd never heard the term. Tell us more about this. How do you determine whether somebody has been black pilled?

REEVE: Right. So most people have heard of red pill in terms of taking sort of on a right wing ideology. But black pill is a vibe. And it's an attitude that says all of this stuff is corrupt. You can't trust any part of mainstream society. And you can break those rules because they're created by corrupt people. So when I was at January 6th, there were men screaming at me, like only we can help us, what else are we supposed to do. After, he had fought with police officers on the steps of the Capitol.

I talked to another man who's -- who -- he was just like a clean cut, upstanding kind of grandpa looking guy who lifted me up and down and said there were going to be tribunals military tribunals of Democrats, that might even be executions.

TAPPER: It's wild. In the book, you also right that extremist radicalization is taking place in internet forums, where people are sharing memes. Tell us about these places and how they've evolved.

REEVE: Right. So sharing, like this is a way that people can participate in a conspiracy theory. They don't have to be passive observers of it. They get to be a part of it. They're even competing to make the best meme. And it's been strange to see this evolution of this going from like a teenager subculture to grown adults talking about sharing memes as their way of doing activism.

TAPPER: Yes. And we've seen some of these meme creators, like go into the mainstream of the politics in the media. I mean, they've been on guests on high profile internet shows and they're like, what about misogyny as an aspect of this? How rooted and it does look like if you look at these groups, it -- they don't look like a master race to begin with. But second of all, it does look like a lot of -- I don't mean to be belittling of it, but it does look like a lot of people who are lonely.

REEVE: Yes. That's a big entryway into this. A big entry point is, why won't women be with me? The new white nationalist movement is very much influenced by in cell culture for involuntary celibate. It means that feminism has doomed them to be virgins forever, because, you know, the -- in the natural order of things, less attractive woman would marry them. But now these days, you know, they don't have to do that.

So I spoke to an old school, former skinhead neo Nazi guy who was shocked by the alt-right in the mid-2010s, because it was so misogynist. He had seen himself as the protector of white women from people of color. But now they're all these white nationalists joking about beating up women how they deserve to be abused.

TAPPER: It's some sick stuff, and a great book, "Black Pill," on sale tomorrow, "How I Witnessed the Darkest Corners of the Internet Come to Life, Poison Society, and Capture American Politics." I'm sure we're going to see a lot of examples of what you studied in this election. Elle, congratulations. And also congratulations on your little baby.

REEVE: Thank you so much.


TAPPER: Boeing agrees to plead guilty after two deadly crashes. But what does all of this mean for the victim's families, that's next.



TAPPER: In our National Lead, at least two people were killed and more than 2 million are without power as what is left of Hurricane Beryl continues to crash through Texas. Major flooding and strewn debris have severely impacted transportation in parts of the state. Beryl which is now a tropical storm is moving north eastward toward Louisiana and bringing with it several large and dangerous tornadoes, according to the National Weather Service.

Boeing's reputation is taking yet another blow today as the company agrees to plead guilty to defrauding the United States. This is a charge that stems from to 737 Max crashes that killed 346 people. Boeing will pay just $487 billion in fines, escaping the $25 billion that families have the crash victims wanted the aircraft maker to pay.

Son of a bee sting, today a guilty plea in the January 6th case from this man standing next to Vince Vaughn in the iconic "Anchorman" fight scene, that is comedian, Jay Johnston, who prosecutors say was part of an actual violent fight at a tunnel that leads into the U.S. Capitol. Johnston has to return to court in October for his sentencing and, yes, I'll say it, that escalated quickly.

In our Health Lead, a new study shows that the weight loss drug, Mounjaro, leads to significantly more weight loss than Ozempic. The study followed 18,000 adults on one of those medications for more than a year. It concluded that both medications were effective. But after one year of use, the average weight loss for Mounjaro users was more than 15 percent of their starting body weight compared to about 8 percent for those taking Ozempic.


You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, X, formerly known as Twitter, and on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can follow the show on X at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to the show once you get your podcasts, all two hours to sitting there like a white peach.

The news continues on CNN. Wolf Blitzer is back in a place I like to call the Situation Room.