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IRS Whistleblower Removed From Hunter Biden Investigation; DOJ Brings Criminal Charge In Cases Of Stolen U.S. Tech; MO Student Suspended After Recording Teacher Using N-Word; Growing Concern Around Shortage In U.S. Health Care Industry. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 16, 2023 - 15:30   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: There's been a big shake-up to the team investigating the president's son, Hunter Biden. An IRS whistleblower and his entire investigative team who have been working on the case have now been removed. That's according to the whistleblower's attorneys in a letter they wrote to Congress.

This whistleblower says there's been mishandling and political interference in the investigation of Hunter Biden. Today Republican Senator Lindsey Graham says Congress should get to the bottom of it. Listen.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): Exactly. In fact, or fiction because if you believe the allegations of the whistleblower, DOJ still has its thumb on the scale regarding the Hunter Biden investigation.



SANCHEZ: Let's take you to Capitol Hill now with CNN's Alayna Treene. Alayna, do we know why this whistleblower and his unit were taken off the case?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, Boris, that's something that Congress definitely wants to look into. But look, this is an unnamed whistleblower who we know through the course of our reporting was an IRS agent who was working on the criminal investigation into Hunter Biden.

And he wrote to Congress in a letter through his attorneys saying he was removed from this case, as well as his entire team and that it came at the request of the Justice Department.

Now his attorneys in this letter said that the move is, quote, clearly retaliatory and may constitute the obstruction of the congressional investigation.

Now just to take a step back. We know that federal prosecutors have been looking into Hunter Biden and investigating him for alleged tax crimes for years now. And most of that investigative work has concluded.

But they're still awaiting to learn more about charging decisions from the U.S. attorney in Delaware. A lot of this does come as our colleague Evan Perez has heard that some of these agents working on this case have been -- felt that they were removed from these discussions due to allegations of leaks.

Then really to look at the reasoning here. I mean, there's two main ways you can look at it. One argument is that this is a whistleblower who has information that he wants to share with Congress and he's being retaliated for doing that.

The other argument is that you clearly have someone who wants to speak publicly about a federal investigation but that comes as there are alleged leaks to these right-wing media outlets and you can't compromise the underlying investigation.

So, we're waiting to hear more as this saga plays out. And we're also waiting to see when this whistleblower may come to Congress and speak behind closed doors with some of these lawmakers.

SANCHEZ: Yes, a potential meeting that Republicans especially have been looking forward to. Alayna Treene thank you so much for that reporting -- Jim.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Well, the Justice Department has filed five criminal cases against people accused of stealing U.S. technology for Russia, China and Iran. The cases are the first enforcement actions by the DOJ's so-called "Disruptive Technology Strike Force." CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez is following the story.

Listen, Russia, China, Iran, obviously three of the biggest national security risks for this country and the view of the U.S. intelligence community. What exactly do we know from this that they were stealing? Who was it and how far did they get?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: There's a variety of things that they were doing. One of them was an engineer at Apple who allegedly was stealing some of the source code that it would help the Chinese build autonomous vehicles, self--driving cars, for instance. The FBI did a search of his home. And the meantime, he managed to get to the airport, get on a flight to China and has disappeared.

There is another man who is a Greek national who set up these companies in the Netherlands to buy aircraft parts, other types of technology that are banned for sale to Russia in part because of what they're doing in Ukraine. And according to the Justice Department, that person now is under arrest. You know, the kind of technologies that should not be making its way.

We talked to Matt Axelrod, who is undersecretary at the Commerce Department about the efforts to try to stop some of the U.S. technologies from getting into drones being used in that war. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MATTHEW AXELROD, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR EXPORT ENFORCEMENT: You know, it's something that we're highly focused on, which is making sure that Western parts that were able to reduce and restrict the flow of Western parts so they don't end up in missiles and drones that are killing civilians and soldiers in Ukraine.


PEREZ: Jim, you've seen all those pictures, these Iranian drones clearly made with parts that come from U.S. technologies. They're trying to figure out how to stop that flow.

SCIUTTO: Yes, there's always a middleman looking to make a buck to get around sanctions. A lot of money in that business. Evan Perez, thanks very much -- Brianna.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Lawmakers sounding the alarm when it comes to the nation's ongoing shortage of health care workers. One telling CNN we don't have enough doctors.


SCIUTTO: Here's a look at some of the other headlines we're following this hour on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

You think inflation is high in the U.S.? Take a look at Argentina. The country just raised a key interest rate by six points to 97 percent. The interest rate 97 percent. This is in an effort to try to tame soaring inflation there that has now reached a 30-year high. Look at these numbers -- $350,000 home would come with a $28,000 a month mortgage payment. Argentina hopes the hike in interest rates will spur investments in its currency.

A volunteer police officer in Southern California is in the hospital now after being attacked by a cloud of bees. He walked right into the swarm -- as you can see here -- tried to swat them away from his head and face but, goodness, didn't work. The attack was so intense it caused him to lose his balance, suffer a bloody fall. The swarm also surrounded a UPS driver and repeatedly stung another person who had to be hospitalized. The bee removal company says the bees may have come from a hive attached to a nearby home.

And a warning for moms to be who might use any form a cannabis. A new study says marijuana can harm babies in early pregnancies, particularly during the first trimester. Researchers at Central Michigan University said it can impact fetal development, also lower birth weights, which would lead to higher rates of ADHD, learning disabilities and emotional problems.


Something to consider -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: A teacher in Missouri is no longer employed but only after a student was suspended for recording the teacher allegedly using a racial slur in class. She recorded him saying the N-word multiple times before he noticed that she was recording him. Now she and her family are challenging her punishment and demanding an apology.

Jake Tapper is here with this story -- he's featuring this story on "The Lead" -- I should say. And Jake, several things stood out to me. First, this student faced the maximum penalty, a three-day suspension, according to the school guidebook and the teacher apparently was defending himself saying he had the right to use that word.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR "THE LEAD": So, we're going to have -- the girl's name is Mary Walton. She's a 15-year-old sophomore at Glendale High School in Springfield, Missouri. We're going to have her mom and attorney on "THE LEAD" coming up.

And I guess there are two things here. One, she clearly was in violation of school policy because she was using her phone in the on position during classroom hours. But then there's the counterargument that she honestly -- it's very easy it look at what she was doing and see her as a whistleblower.

Because the teacher, the geometry teacher who -- according to some students -- had used the N-word before, was actually using it. In this context he was talking about how -- why is it OK for a Black student to use the N-Word but not him to use the N-word. But he was actually using it.

It posted on social media and she's being punished. And her mom and her lawyer, they're challenging the three-day suspension. But look, however you look at whether she violated school policy, I mean, she was a whistleblower. She got a teacher who was using the N-word in front of students. She brought what he was doing to the attention to the world.

SANCHEZ: Right, and we do have some sound we want to play.

TAPPER: OK, let's run that clip.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is (BEEP) not allowed.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, some of you say right now as a teacher if you want to keep your job, this isn't a threat --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not calling anyone a (BEEP). I can say the word. It's not --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why are you saying it?


SANCHEZ: How does that have anything to do with geometry?

TAPPER: It doesn't obviously. And I think that this young lady, Mary Walton, did something that is in the finest tradition of whistleblowing and bringing and speaking truth to power. But again, she did technically violate school policy and it is certainly interesting that the school decided to punish her, even though what she did was bring an injustice to light.

SANCHEZ: Yes, there's the policy and then there's the spirit of the policy. Jake Tapper, we look forward to watching more on "THE LEAD" starting at 4:00 p.m. Do not miss that -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Well, we do not have enough doctors. That is a warning from lawmakers as the country is dealing with a health care worker shortage. What's being done about it? We'll have that next.



KEILAR: The doctor is not in. In fact, there is no doctor. And that is a real problem right now across the country. New data showing the U.S. is facing an ongoing shortage of health care workers and now some lawmakers are sounding the alarm on this. We have CNN health reporter Jacqueline Howard joins us now. So, Jacqueline, I know you recently sat down with Senator Bernie Sanders on this issue. What were his concerns?

JACQUELINE HOWARD, CNN HEALTH REPORTER: Yes, Brianna, Senator Sanders told me he's very concerned about health care worker shortage. I met with him while he was here in Atlanta at the Morehouse School of Medicine. And he was meeting with leaders from historically Black medical colleges.

And he told me he's concerned about what this shortage means for our capabilities to fight pandemics in the future. He's concerned about what it means for Black and Brown communities. And he really broke down specifically which health care workers we don't have enough of. Have a listen.


SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): We don't have enough doctors. We don't have enough nurses. We don't have enough psychologists or counselors for addiction. We don't have enough pharmacists. And that problem, as bad as it is in general, is more acute in minority communities.


HOWARD: And what he means by more acute, we know that, for instance, 13 percent of the U.S. population is Black but only 5.7 percent of doctors are Black, Brianna. So, we see that the health care workforce diversity does not reflect the diversity of patients that are served.

And we also know that many experts say if we can address this health care workforce shortage, we need more than 17,000 primary care practitioners, more than 12,000 dental health workers, more than 8,000 mental health workers. If we can address this shortage as well as the lack of diversity, then that can help reduce health disparities that we see across communities -- Brianna. KEILAR: Yes, we see those health disparities in outcomes, in the

mortality rate of mothers and how pain is treated. It go on and on and on. We've talked about it here. Jacqueline Howard thank you for that -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: All right, have you ever used the dog ate my homework excuse? Boris has. Well, this next story, they take it to the next level. How a driver tried to blame his furry co-pilot when he got pulled over for speeding. We'll have that right after this. Stay with us.



SANCHEZ: You may have heard the excuse -- I know I've used before -- it was the dog, I swear! Well, one guy apparently tried to unleash that to dodge a drunk driving bust. Police in Springfield, Colorado say they pulled over a driver for speeding on Saturday night and they watched the man -- the officer watched the man switch seats with his dog, putting the pup behind the wheel.

Police say the suspect claimed that he was not the one driving and then he tried to run off. He made it about 20 yards. The cops were able to retrieve him. They arrested him on suspicion of DUI. Apparently, the dog had a rough night and he was let off.

SCIUTTO: So, the guy ran off, the dog did not, the dog sort of dutifully stayed there. I've got to do the best for my owner.

SANCHEZ: That is body cam is video that I would love to watch.

KEILAR: I would too. You know why the dog was sober?

SCIUTTO: Why, Brianna?

KEILAR: Because he couldn't hold his liquor.

SANCHEZ: I wish we had drums on set so we can have a cymbal crash.

KEILAR: I prepared that pun.


SCIUTTO: I will say that's pretty good. We'll do it again, Brianna. That's really, you know --

KEILAR: They have to laugh at me. They work with me.

SANCHEZ: We should also point out the dog in that photo was just a random Chihuahua.

KEILAR: I mean, can you imagine this chihuahua, if someone said that was driving their car.

SCIUTTO: By the way, that dog's lawyers have reached out to CNN.

KEILAR: (INAUDIBLE) we shall, shall. That's it for us. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.