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CNN Witnesses Return Of American Joshua Jones' Remains By Russia After He Was Killed Fighting For Ukraine; Mother Of American Killed Fighting In Ukraine Remembers Her Late Son After Russia Turns Remains Over To Ukraine; Dr. Oz: Abortion Choices Should Be Left To "Women, Doctors & Local Political Leaders". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 26, 2022 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Time now for Jake Tapper, and CNN TONIGHT.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Thanks, Anderson.

Welcome to CNN TONIGHT. I am Jake Tapper, in Washington.

Tonight, we're bringing you a CNN exclusive. Brand-new video, you'll see, right here, for the very first time, in just a few moments. It's, really, I have to tell you, an incredible story, one that only CNN's Clarissa Ward can tell, taking place, during a rare ceasefire, in Putin's brutal war, giving two hours of cover, for this dramatic scene.

CNN crews, shuttled by Ukrainian Intelligence, as Russia returned the body of an American, an American killed in Ukraine, while fighting for Ukraine. His name was Joshua Jones. He was 24-years-old, a U.S. Army veteran, from Tennessee. He was killed in August, while fighting Putin's forces, alongside the Ukrainian Military.

Now, this handover happened, after months of negotiations, in a dangerous area, known as No Man's Land. It's in the Zaporizhzhia region, between Ukrainian-controlled Ukraine, and Russian-controlled Ukraine.

And Jones' body will now head back, here, to the United States, to his family, who have been longing, for his remains, to return, to his final resting place, to home.

Now, this rare moment of detente takes place, during an incredibly tumultuous time, in this war. Today, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, led Military training drills, which the Kremlin says include practice missile launches.

And then, Putin said this, earlier today.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) VLADIMIR PUTIN, RUSSIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Risk of conflict in the world as a whole as well as at the regional level remains very high


TAPPER: "Risk of conflict in the world as a whole remains very high," Putin said, the risk for a new World War, according to Putin.

And Russian officials are continuing to push the totally unfounded claims that Ukraine is preparing to use a dirty bomb. A dirty bomb is a traditional explosive that can also contain radioactive material.

Now, to be clear, we know of absolutely no evidence that Ukraine is developing or planning to use one of these weapons. And if the Russians did, they should turn it over to the United Nations.

But Western and Ukrainian officials worry that this could be a false- flag operation, by the Kremlin, that Putin is just trying to distract, from his own plans, to use a nuclear device.

Though, his Ambassador to the U.K. denied that to CNN's Christiane Amanpour, earlier today.


ANDREY KELIN, RUSSIAN AMBASSADOR TO THE U.K.: Russia is not going to use nukes. So, it is out of the question.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: But this is really important what you've just told me that Russia will not use nuclear weapons?


AMANPOUR: Now, tomorrow, in a month, in a year, no matter what happens?

KELIN: I cannot say about next generation.

AMANPOUR: In a conventional scenario?


AMANPOUR: Are you saying that your country has pledged?

KELIN: Yes, yes, yes.

AMANPOUR: Your defense minister?


AMANPOUR: Not to use nuclear weapons?

KELIN: Yes, yes. This is what I'm saying.


TAPPER: Reassurances, from the Russians, who also told the world there was no way they were going to invade Ukraine until of course, the moment they invaded Ukraine!

Now, if you're wondering why Russia could be inching closer to the unthinkable, using a nuclear device? Well, think about this. Russian President Vladimir Putin's brutal war has not gone, according to plan.

Ukraine did not fall, let alone within a few days, and this has all surprised the world. Even some of Ukraine's allies were surprised by Ukraine's resolve, and now, by Ukraine's counteroffensive that continues to take back the country.

And Ukrainian forces are now set to make a big move to try to reclaim the strategically important city of Kherson. This was the first major city, taken by the Russians, and now, one of the only ones still under the Kremlin's control.

An adviser, to Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, is warning the quote, "Heaviest of battles" are still to come, while Russian-installed authorities in that part of the country, are stepping up pressure, on residents, to leave.

This comes after Ukraine already reclaimed territory, in the Kharkiv region. The Kremlin PR machine tried to spin the troop exit as a regrouping. In reality, that's called losing! You could also call it hell, as officials discovered that the Russian army left behind evidence of at least 22 suspected torture chambers, and bodies of more than 500 civilians.


And CNN has been there to document the brutality.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, this here is where the first strike hit. And then, you can see the second one just smashed in, to the top of that building.


TAPPER: CNN was there even moments before the bombs fell, in Kherson.



FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): "It's not safe," he screamed.

PLEITGEN (on camera): We have to get out of here as fast as - we have to get out of here as fast as possible, because the Russians, might target this position.


TAPPER: And herein lies, the paradox of Putin, losing. Western leaders want Putin to fail. But the more he fails, the more desperate he becomes. That so far has led to an influx of brutal attacks against innocent Ukrainian civilians, and increased attacks, on critical infrastructure, aimed at taking out power, and water, things needed to live.

One of the latest such attacks in the eastern Ukrainian city of Dnipro, where a gas station caught on fire, after a Russian missile attack overnight. And local officials say, two people were killed, a carwash operator, and a pregnant woman, who was trapped in her car, and burned alive.

In a different example of Putin's desperation, he's turning to another brutal regime, for help. Today, Ukrainian President Zelenskyy claimed that Russia has used 400 Iranian drones, to specifically attack Ukrainian civilians, escalating attacks on innocents, innocents, who have been targeted, by Putin, and his army, since this war began. All of that is what's fueling these fears that a nuclear option is not off the table.

Considering Russia's despicable, inhumane actions, against the Ukrainian people, it's hard to imagine any form of civility between the two sides. But this war has seen at least some brief moments of cooperation, when it comes to prisoner exchanges.

Two American Veterans, fighting in Ukraine, who were captured in June, were released, last month. Part of a prisoner swap, partly brokered by Saudi Arabia. They were recently reunited, with their families, back here in the United States.


ALEX DRUEKE, AMERICAN FIGHTER HELD BY RUSSIAN-BACKED FORCES FOR 105 DAYS: I mean, there were - there were a lot of beatings. There was a lot of physical torture. But I think some of the worst stuff there was - there was a lot of psychological torture.

ANDY TAI NGOC HUYNH, AMERICAN FIGHTER HELD BY RUSSIAN-BACKED FORCES FOR 105 DAYS: I just remember it being prolonged, suffering prolonged pain. Me personally, I just remember wanting to die, actually, just I wanted it to end.


TAPPER: And the story of those two Americans, who bravely tried to help the Ukrainian people, brings us back to the story of Joshua Jones, the Fallen American, whose body is now in Ukrainian custody.

In just a few minutes, Joshua's mother will join us, for her first live interview, since this news broke.

Let's start with CNN's Clarissa Ward, who witnessed the handoff, of Joshua Jones' remains, today.

Clarissa, thanks so much for joining us.

It's obviously been months, since Joshua was killed. When you started the day, did you think this exchange was going to happen?

WARD: Honestly, Jake, I really wasn't sure that it would happen. There were so many different components that had to come together.

It was such a narrow window of time that both sides had agreed to stop hostilities, just two hours. And during that time, we had to get right to that No Man's Land area. They had to get the ambulance ready, move forward to the transfer, just a lot of moving parts.

And because there have been these sporadic attacks, in the past, from the Russian side, particularly on civilian convoys, for example, trying to escape through the checkpoint, in Zaporizhzhia, which is very close to where we witnessed this sort of handover, earlier today? It just seemed like there were so many different things that could go wrong, and I think all of us in the team didn't want to get our hopes up too much that it would actually come off.

TAPPER: Yes, I certainly understand that.

Given where things stand, right now, with Russia's war, against Ukraine, what do you make of the timing of this exchange? It seems extraordinary.

WARD: It is extraordinary in the sense that the war is just grinding into such a grim chapter, now, where I think, for Russia, in the face of humiliation, the gloves have really come off. And it's just laid bare, civilians are the target, civilian infrastructure is the target, "Let's make sure that people in Ukraine can't really survive this next winter that they are forced to flee their homes that they will not have electricity that they will not have heating."


At the same time, though there seems to be this sort of pragmatic recognition that has set in on both sides that this war isn't going to end anytime in the very near future, and that therefore there do need to be some areas, where they can come together, and come up with deals.

And we have seen, I'd say, in the last few weeks, really, a number of prisoner swaps, some of them really large in scale, and some of them with foreign nationals, all of them incredibly sensitive, incredibly difficult to pull off. And so, it does seem that there is some willingness, on both sides, to try to make this work.

And after today's, where the remains of Joshua Jones, were successfully moved, back into Ukrainian territory, and can now begin their journey, to his family, in Tennessee, I think there's hope that this could continue, and we could see at least more cooperation in this one very narrow sphere, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Clarissa, stick around, because we're going to show our viewers, the powerful moment, and your story, about Joshua Jones' remains, when they were handed over.

And later, I'm going to speak live, with Joshua Jones' mom, on this important and somber day.

We'll be right back. Stay with us.



TAPPER: I'm back now, with our Chief International Correspondent, Clarissa Ward. She was there for the handoff, of the remains, of American veteran, Joshua Jones, in Ukraine, today.

In exclusive new video, Clarissa documents, the return of the Tennessee native, who was killed in Ukraine, back in August.


WARD (voice-over): On the front lines, in Ukraine, he was known to his fellow fighters, as "Tactical Jesus," on account of his long hair, and deep knowledge of the Bible. To his mom, he was simply Joshy (ph).

Tennessee native, Joshua Jones, was just 24-years-old, when he was killed, fighting in eastern Ukraine back in August. His passport, and Ukrainian Military ID, showed up on Russian social media channels, soon after. But his body was never recovered.

Since then, Ukrainian lawmakers, Oleksandr Trukhin, and Oleksandr Kovalyov (ph), have worked tirelessly, to get his body back.

And today, it is finally happening.

WARD (on camera): Why is it important to you to recover the body of Joshua Jones?

OLEKSANDR TRUKHIN, UKRAINIAN PARLIAMENT: He's the same one, hero for me, like our soldiers. So, we should make everything possible, to give his body back, to his family.

WARD (voice-over): We are driving to the front line, in Zaporizhzhia. We stop along the way to link up with Military intelligence. In another car, a Russian soldier sits, slumped over. He is being released, today, as part of a larger swap, in which 10 Ukrainians were already freed.

The lawmakers talk with the officers, to go over the plan, once more. A makeshift white flag is put together, for the moment of transfer. And we're off again, this time, to No Man's Land. A rare two-hour ceasefire has been agreed by both sides, and time is of the essence.

WARD (on camera): So, we've just arrived at the meeting point. They're waiting, now, for the Russians, to arrive, with the body.

WARD (voice-over): A team of forensic investigators get ready, for the task ahead. This is as far as we are allowed to go. Actual handover will happen, just beyond the hill. Waiting for their return, it is eerily quiet. Only the bravest dare come out in these parts.

One of the transfer team, captures the moment, Joshua Jones' is brought back, into Ukrainian territory, as Russian forces look on.

For Kovalyov (ph), and Trukhin, it's the moment they have been waiting for. Jones is now one step closer, to being returned, to his family.

Back in the car, they show us his personal effects.

TRUKHIN: This is his personal body cross, which he was wearing. He was very religious guy.

WARD (on camera): What's your feeling in this moment? You've been working towards this, for a long time, to try to get Joshua Jones, back to his family.

TRUKHIN: Our feeling, we are proud of our country, of our team. We are proud of President. And we are proud that we are saving lives. Because you know when even somebody is dying, his family continue to live. And they cannot live, normally, if they know that they don't have a place where to come for their son.

WARD (voice-over): Thanks to their efforts, Joshua's mother, Misty Gossett, in Tennessee, will soon have the chance, to say goodbye, to her son.

MISTY GOSSETT, JOSHUA JONES' MOTHER, MOTHER OF U.S. FIGHTER KILLED IN UKRAINE: Joshua was, he was a soldier. He was a born soldier. He was named after the Battle of Jericho. And he proved he lived up to his name, so valiantly. And I feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off of me.

WARD (voice-over): A name and a life that will be remembered even half a world away.


WARD: Jake, at least five Americans have been killed, fighting here, in Ukraine. And those two lawmakers, who we spent the day with, said that there are at least two Americans, who are still alive, who are being held by Russian forces.

They very much hope that what you saw today could be a prelude, to negotiating their release, and also the release of many of the other nationalities, who have come to Ukraine, to join the Ukrainian Foreign Legion, to participate, and play a role, in this war, Jake.


TAPPER: Clarissa, first of all, just extraordinary, and impactful, and emotional journalism. So, thank you, for bringing it to us.

Take me back to the moment, where you first saw Joshua's body, being brought into Ukrainian territory, during this rare two-hour long ceasefire. How tense was it?

WARD: It was very tense, Jake. It was tense, from the moment we arrived. The Military intelligence people, who we were with, were quite nervous. They were concerned, about our presence, just because the situation on the ground was so tenuous.

And nobody, I think, was really convinced that this two-hour ceasefire was going to hold, and everybody was very concerned that the timings were very precise. And in fact, by the way, the ceasefire ended at 3:00. And at 3:10, the air raid siren started going off, once again.

So, I think there was a lot of concern about the fact that there were so many moving parts, so many things that could go wrong, and the fact that you had us, as journalists, along obviously added a different sort of layer of responsibility for them.

So, it was definitely tense. But then there was that moment of relief, when they were able to put the body, into the ambulance, and then quickly ushered us, in the car, to get out of No Man's Land, as soon as possible.

TAPPER: All right, Clarissa Ward, in Ukraine, thank you so much.

And the mother of Joshua Jones will join us, when we come back. It will be her first interview, since she learned her son's body, finally, will be coming home to her. What emotions could she possibly be feeling, today? What does she want the world to know about Joshua? We'll talk to her next.



TAPPER: For two long months, the parents of Joshua Jones have had to live, with an unimaginable pain, the loss of their 24-year-old son, and a fear that they might never get his remains back, from Russian soldiers, who are currently attacking Ukraine.

But tonight, Joshua Jones is finally, on his way home, to his final resting place.

Joining us now to discuss, is his mother, Misty Gossett.

Misty, let me start by just saying, my deepest condolences. I know everybody watching is sending you love and prayers and support.

I want to ask you, about the moment you first learned that the Ukrainians had finally been able to negotiate, to get your son back. What was that like for you? Because that was earlier today, or last night, right?

GOSSETT: It was this morning, around 7 o'clock. And once a week, Angie (ph), that's been helping me with everything, we spent one night a week, staying up late, making the contacts to Russia, Ukraine, every contact we could find. And so, I went to bed, at like 4 o'clock, this morning. And it's 7 o'clock. My husband is telling me they have him. And I don't know if it - I just - if I didn't believe it. It didn't hit me until around 2 o'clock today.

TAPPER: I want to read part of a post that you wrote a couple of days ago about the pain you've been through.

You said, quote, "Nothing on this earth will satisfy my maternal desire to hold my son in my arms, and knowing it'll never be possible, kills me inside. The intense desire to see & speak to him is all consuming, not only mentally but emotionally as well," unquote.

So, when you look back on the last conversation, you had with Joshua, what was that like? What was that conversation about?

GOSSETT: It was - it was a fun conversation. He had sent me a picture. It was three days, before he died, and sent me a picture, with his long beard, and his long ponytail. And I said, "Apparently there's no barber shops open."

And then, I said, "Wow! Look at the bread in that beard!" And his whole life, he's looked like his dad, but I saw mommy (ph) in that red beard. And he's like, "I look good, don't I?" I was like "You look great."

TAPPER: He was such a handsome man. It must--

GOSSETT: He loved - he loved--

TAPPER: The beard must have frustrated you, as a mom, just because he had such a handsome face!

GOSSETT: Right. Not a big fan of facial hair, personally. But apparently, there wasn't a barbershop, handy, on the front line. So, that's where we went with the conversation.

TAPPER: Well, it's nice that it was a happy conversation.

So, Joshua first left, for Ukraine, on March 30, just a day before he turned 24, just weeks after Putin ordered this invasion.


TAPPER: What was his reasoning? Why did he want to go to Ukraine? Why did he want to go fight?

GOSSETT: He said that he had to. Of course, as his mom, I said, "No, you don't," adamantly. And he said he had to. He said "No one else is helping. And I'm good at this shit mom. I'm going to do it."

TAPPER: And he was a veteran. Where did - where did he serve?

GOSSETT: And he did.

[21:30:00] He was in the army, the United States Army. He was out of Fort Benning, immediately stationed to Hawaii. He did some different training in Thailand, and in - was it South Korea or North Korea that they had the Olympics? One of them. He was there for that.

TAPPER: South Korea.

GOSSETT: Yes, as they were preparing for the Olympics. He loved - he loved every bit of it. He loved the - he loved everything except being told what to do, and except duty station time. But he loved the infantry. He loved to fight. And he was apparently very good at it.

TAPPER: His fellow fighters, in Ukraine, as you heard, in Clarissa's piece, often referred to him, as "Tactical Jesus," Jesus, because of the beard, and the long hair, but also because of his devout faith. Some soldiers have even taken to wearing a patch--


TAPPER: --with Joshua's image on it. When you hear how beloved he was, by his comrades, and how he is seen by Ukrainians, as a hero, just as much as any Ukrainian soldier, what goes through your mind?

GOSSETT: Just - just proud. They have shared the stencils and the patches. They're stenciling everything that they take over from Russian territory with that stencil for my kid. And his faith was amazing. And he preached without preaching.

A lot of times, they say that it's not what you do in public. It's what you do in private. I mean, his actions showed who he was. As parents, his dad and I, we were hard on him. And, but we've raised him to be who he was, who he is. And he was strong. He was resilient. He was hilarious.

I've gotten hundreds of messages of, of soldiers that were in trenches with him that they were in the worst of times, with shelling around them, and weather issues, and Joshua made light of it, make them sing "ABBA." He could make the worst situation better, naturally.

TAPPER: He sounds like an extraordinary young man and, of course, a hero. Thank you so much, Misty Gossett, for talking to us, about your very special son.

We'll be right back.



TAPPER: Crime is now central, to the closing message, for Republicans, in this midterm cycle. Nationally, the GOP has portrayed the City of Angels as nothing less than a hellscape.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Every day there are stabbings, rapes, murders and violent assaults of every kind imaginable.

REP. MIKE GARCIA (R-CA): We talk about the rising crime rates, nationally, but in California, specifically in L.A.

REP. JEFF VAN DREW (R-NJ): This is, you know, literally, what I would call woke justice. And I'm tired of that and people are tired of that.


TAPPER: Hyperbolic? Alarmist? Perhaps. But crime and homelessness are real problems, in Los Angeles. Homicide there is up almost 17 percent, from two years ago. Robberies are up almost 16 percent. The number of people experiencing homelessness, in Los Angeles, also increased, in the same period.

Congresswoman Karen Bass wants to be the next Mayor of Los Angeles. She's a Democrat. She's in the middle of a tight run-off with developer Rick Caruso.

And Congresswoman Bass joins us now.

Congresswoman, thanks so much for joining us. Why have things gotten worse? Why is crime and homelessness worse, in Los Angeles, now?

REP. KAREN BASS (D-CA): Well, let me just tell you, homelessness really exploded a couple of years ago, right before the Pandemic, and certainly through the Pandemic. But you know what? I just don't even imagine - I can't even imagine, what L.A. would have been like, if we did not have the American Rescue Plan.

So, all of the resources, around COVID, allowed us to do an experiment that I hope that we keep, which is doing master-leasing of motels, and hotels, where you lease out all of the rooms. And you put people, who were on the streets, in the hotels, and motels. We've been able to get thousands of people, off the streets. And this needs to be expanded, tremendously.

TAPPER: What is the percentage of individuals, who are on the streets, because they were evicted, they lost their jobs, versus those who are battling emotional, psychological, mental issues? Is there any breakdown--

BASS: Well it--

TAPPER: that you know of?

BASS: Yes, there is a breakdown. I think that if you include substance abuse, and mental illness, you're talking about 40 percent of the population.

But Jake, one thing that is really sad is there are people, in tents, who actually work full-time. They just can't afford the rent, because L.A., over the last few years, has become extremely unaffordable.

And in terms of evictions, that was something that was certainly a big issue, before the Pandemic. We knew it took place, during the Pandemic, even though there was an eviction moratorium.

So, I'm actually worried that homelessness is going to spike again, at the end of the first quarter of next year, because the eviction moratorium will go away, and some of the resources that were for COVID will go away. So, we're going to need to appeal to the state that has $100 billion - $100 billion surplus, to extend the contracts, so people can stay in the hotels and motels, for several more months.

TAPPER: I want to get to crime in a second.

But I read a really good column, by Ezra Klein, in "The New York Times." The column is called "The Way Los Angeles Is Trying to Solve Homelessness Is 'Absolutely Insane'." That's the title of it. That's not me.

In it, Ron Galperin, the L.A. City Comptroller is quoted saying, "Let's stop making perfect the enemy of the good, or the good enough." And his basic argument is--

BASS: Yes.


TAPPER: --when you're trying to get people off the streets, you need to make sure that the focus is on putting a roof, over their heads, as quickly as possible, with micro units, shared units, dorm-style units, shared kitchen, shelter beds, interim housing. Galperin says, "These aren't perfect approaches, but with so many people dying every day, there has to be a sense of urgency."

The problem seems to be that communities, and activists, for the homeless, don't want those solutions. Can you explain why?

BASS: Yes, well, first of all, I couldn't agree with him more. We need to have all of the above - all in the above solution. So, we need to get people off the streets, immediately.

But Jake, you also have to address why they were on the streets. If you don't deal with the substance abuse, and mental illness, they'll be right back on. And so, you have temporary housing, but you also have permanent supportive housing.

I did a press conference, yesterday, with carpenters, on a vacant lot that is owned by the city. And they can build housing there, in the matter of months, and it's significantly cheaper. So, there are solutions.

But what Galperin was talking about, is that when we pass propositions, we loaded everything in, everything that we wanted to see. That's the perfect, and we can't do that anymore. We need to get people off these streets, as soon as possible. Three or four of them die on the streets, every single day. It is a humanitarian crisis, in Los Angeles.

TAPPER: So, on the crime issue, you, and your opponent, both have resisted calls, to cut the LAPD's nearly $3 billion budget. You've both pushed for more gang intervention workers, sending unarmed professionals, to calls, involving mentally-ill people, instead of sending Police. You both want to hire hundreds more Police officers. So, how would you be different?

BASS: Well, we actually are significantly different.

Because, I believe that in certain neighborhoods that want to see an increased Police presence, you can get officers, off of desk duty, and have them on the streets. At the same time, we do need to hire, because we've had a number of officers retire. But I call for a very serious investment in crime prevention and intervention strategies.

My opponent calls for hiring 1,500 Police officers, and makes a commitment to do that, when he knows that we can't even fill a class, now. If we were to hire 1,500 Police officers, the city would go bankrupt.

So, what he is proposing are programs and examples of things that he absolutely knows are not achievable. And I think that's disingenuous, and it's just a way of conning people. And I don't think that's the right thing to do, right now, when the city is in a crisis, at all.

TAPPER: All right, Congresswoman Karen Bass, thank you so much. Good to see you, again.

And our invitation, to Mr. Caruso, to talk about these same issues, on the same program, is being made, right now. Please join us. We'd love to have you.

Our election countdown continues, with the high-stakes Senate showdown, in Pennsylvania.

Did Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman's team make the right call, putting him, out there, last night, to verbally duel with Dr. Mehmet Oz, while Fetterman is still going through a difficult recovery from a stroke?

Did Oz do damage to his campaign, with his controversial answer, on a question about abortion rights?

We're going to talk about the debate, next.




LT. GOV. JOHN FETTERMAN, (D) PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: Doing that debate wasn't exactly easy, you know?


FETTERMAN: In fact, I don't think that's ever been done before in American political history before, actually.


FETTERMAN: You know, after that stroke, I got knocked down. But I got back up!


TAPPER: That's Pennsylvania Democratic U.S. Senate candidate, Lieutenant Governor John Fetterman, addressing the fallout, and concerns, about his performance, during the first and only debate, in his U.S. Senate race, against Republican candidate, Dr. Mehmet Oz.

You'll recall that Lieutenant Governor Fetterman suffered a stroke, on May 13th, just a few days before the primary. Since then, some of his health struggles have been on full display, on the campaign trail, at times. The candidate has jumbled words. He's avoided taking questions, from reporters, sometimes.

Last night's debate, Fetterman stressed that he is on the road to recovery. Viewers still noticed some lapses in his speech.


FETTERMAN: I do support fracking, and, I don't - I don't - I support fracking, and I stand, and I do support fracking.

I do not believe in supporting the Supreme Court.


TAPPER: Joining me now, to discuss, CNN Medical Analyst, and a Professor of Medicine and Surgery, George Washington University, Cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Reiner.

So, Dr. Reiner, what's going on, with John Fetterman's health?

You said you think this is more than just an issue, with auditory processing, which is what some reporters, in the campaign, seem to be suggesting that he hears the words, but he's just having trouble computing what they mean. It takes him a couple seconds.

You say he also has expressive aphasia. What is that?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST, PROFESSOR OF MEDICINE AND SURGERY, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY: Yes. So, he's had an injury, to his brain, in the area that helps someone process speech.

So, most people have thought that Mr. Fetterman's injury was how he processed - how he processed sound, which is why they gave him the prompter. But what was really apparent last night was that he has expressive aphasia. It's a really common injury, in people, who've had a stroke. It's estimated about 30 percent of people who survive a stroke, will have some difficulty with speech.

But the particular problem that Mr. Fetterman has is expressive aphasia, from an injury, to a part of the brain, in most people, on the left side, towards the front of the brain, in the temporal lobe, probably called Broca's area. And people with expressive aphasia had difficulty, putting together complex sentences. They have difficulty, processing spoken word, in complex sentences.

TAPPER: So, what's the prognosis? I mean, does it get better? Can it get better?

REINER: It can get better. It takes a lot - it takes a lot of speech therapy, a lot of work.


I take care of people, like Mr. Fetterman, who have had atrial fibrillation, which is where we think his stroke came from, how it originated.

And I admire his courage, to go on that debate, last night. He had to know that he was facing, basically a fast-talking TV doctor, who at times seemed to be talking almost intentionally faster, in the face of Mr. Fetterman's, difficulty speaking, sometimes it appeared almost cruelly faster. He had to know that he would get the kind of reception that he got from that.

And being the son of a man, who had atrial fibrillation, and had a stroke, I know how much work it takes to recover. And I admire Mr. Fetterman's determination to do that. But he's obviously had a pretty significant neurologic injury.

TAPPER: Do you think that like, in a year from now, this will all be in the rearview mirror, if he does the work he needs to do?

REINER: No. It's hard to know. And part of the problem is that the campaign was opaque, at the very beginning. They didn't really disclose the degree of his illness. We don't really know how sick he was. If we - in fact his treating physicians were never made available, to the press, or the public. So, we don't really know how much Mr. Fetterman has actually recovered. It might--

TAPPER: And, in fact, at the debate, he was asked, if he would release his medical records, and he basically said, no.

REINER: So, he might have had a massive event. And if people, who had seen him, originally, might now say, "Oh, my God, he looks remarkably better," and I bet he does. But not knowing how far he's come, it's very difficult to know, how far he can go. And it would be - it would be good, for the people, who care for him, to be made available to the press.

There is no sin in having a stroke. There's a lot honor, in the dogged determination that it takes to recover. And I admire that. What I don't admire is the way sort of the campaign has handled the disclosure of his illness.

TAPPER: You think they should have been more upfront and transparent about it?

REINER: Absolutely. TAPPER: So, Lieutenant Governor Fetterman is spending a lot of time talking about, a different moment in the debate, not his struggles, but a comment that Dr. Oz made about when he talked about, who should be behind a decision--

REINER: Right.

TAPPER: --about whether or not a woman should be able to terminate a pregnancy? Let's watch.


DR. MEHMET OZ, (R) PENNSYLVANIA U.S. SENATE CANDIDATE: As a physician, I've been in the room, when there's some difficult conversations happening.

I don't want the federal government involved with that at all. I want women, doctors, local political leaders, letting the democracy that's always allowed our nation to thrive, to put the best ideas forward, so States can decide for themselves.


TAPPER: I saw you tweeted about that. What's your - what are your thoughts? I mean, he says he thinks that decisions should be between women, doctors and local political leaders.

REINER: Yes. So, the only people in the room with me, when I'm talking to a patient, about their treatment plan, or their prognosis, is the patient and their family.

And there is no role for local political leaders, in the decision, relating to a woman's reproductive health. No physician believes that in - these kinds of very personal life-changing decisions should be filtered through the lens of a local political official. That's just pandering to his base.

TAPPER: All right. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, it's always good to see you. Thank you so much for being here.

REINER: My pleasure.

TAPPER: We'll be right back.



TAPPER: I flew to New Hampshire, this morning, or I tried to fly to New Hampshire, this morning, to speak at a memorial service, at my alma mater. Weather delays prevented me from getting there in time.

So if you will, generously permit me, a moment now, to say goodbye to a mentor, and an old Marine, Jim Wright, my first history professor, and the former President of Dartmouth College. Professor Wright became my history professor, in March 1988. And he never stopped being my professor. The class was, if memory serves, History II, History of the American West. And it was a joy! And it set me on a course to become a history major. And history became a lifelong passion.

And Professor Wright, President Wright, Jim, was along with me the whole time, guiding me, encouraging me, sending me cheers, and compliments, and articles, he's written, and books.

Jim Wright was a Marine veteran. He was a lover of students, and teachers, and democracy, and his family, and Dartmouth College. He was an intellect and never an elitist. He was a friend to us all.

He taught me history. He taught me reverence for service. He taught me empathy, for Veterans, and their wounds. He taught me friendship, and he taught me fellowship. And I will miss him deeply.

In Judaism, mourners say, the Kaddish. Those are translated from the Aramaic. The words are a litany of praise for God at a time when maybe mourners don't want to offer praise. One interpretation, of why we do this, is because of the belief that the only true comfort, in the loss, of someone so special, can be achieved in viewing the death, as part of a whole that we cannot fathom.

And while academics, like Jim, and journalists, like me, require proof and evidence, we can all acknowledge that we do not know that that theory is wrong. Perhaps it's fantastical. Perhaps it's an illusion. But perhaps it's right.

We can only know what a special soul, James Wright was, and wonder if perhaps there was something so remarkable, about the glints in his eye, and the acceptance of his smile, and the gravitas of his baritone, that perhaps if there was something we cannot comprehend, that gifted him to us, maybe there's also something we cannot comprehend that took him from us, as well.

Goodbye, Jim. Semper Fi!

Thank you so much, for joining me tonight. You can follow me, on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok, @jaketapper.

Our coverage continues now, with Laura Coates, and Alisyn Camerota.

Hi, guys. I'm not in a jocular mood, right now.