tv CNN Newsroom With Brooke Baldwin CNN February 26, 2019 12:00pm-1:00pm PST
with house intel. but it is tomorrow. and his time before the house oversight committee that will be in full public view. and it is there for the very first time according to a source that cohen is expected to publicly discuss president trump's role in some of the crimes cohen pleaded guilty to last year. they involve hush money payments to two women alleging affairs with donald trump. 9 white house is pointing out cohen has also pleaded guilty to making false statements and sarah sanders, the white house press secretary, says this. "it is laughable that anyone would take a convicted liar like cohen at his word and pathetic to see him given yet another opportunity to spread his lies." let's go straight to capitol hill, to our senior congressional correspondent manu raju. and manu, we mentioned cohen started about 9:00 this morning with senate intel getting this quote unquote extensive grilling is what you're hearing from your sources. what's happening behind closed doors? >> reporter: yeah, a lot focusing on these past
statements he made lying to this very committee back in 2017 when he discussed the trump tower moscow project, a project that the trump organization was pursuing and that he was consulting then candidate trump on back during the election season of 2015. and he initially told the committee, well, there was really nothing much to it. the talks ended in january 2016. well, he later pleaded guilty to lying to this committee about that testimony, those conversations much more extensive than he let on. also going on into june of 2016, into the election season when that russian interference campaign was happening. a lot of questions about these past misstatements i'm told a good portion at least of the morning was focused on that. roy blunt, senate intelligence committee member, suggesting as much, telling our colleague ted barrett there's a reason this is a closed hearing but he did spend quite a bit of time explaining what he had told us before that wasn't truthful. now, susan collins is another member of the committee, said
that yes indeed he's been going through a, quote, extensive grilling. she said he's a different kind of person, suggested there's some new information they are learning. what we're told is behind closed doors that the committee members themselves are not actually doing the questioning, it's being led by the staff investigators of the senate intelligence committee, they're the one who are doing the grilling of michael cohen. the senators were attending or passing along questions or notes to the staffers who are going along and asking these questions. this is the only committee that's going to be operating like that. tomorrow, of course, brooke, public setting they're going to be talking about a whole range of other topics. the hush money payments that occurred between michael cohen and those women who alleged affairs with the president, the president's involvement with that. being implicated in crimes that michael cohen provides to provide new information about raising those allegations publicly tomorrow and then thursday before the house intelligence committee where once again they'll be talking about the russia investigation
in more detail which you won't discuss in as much detail publicly. so today just the beginning of a gauntlet here on capitol hill. but the moment members discussing this testimony today as professional and getting some information. we'll see whether they view his testimony as credible. brooke? >> manu, thank you very much. and let's just focus in on this public testimony tomorrow. let me bring in an expert on really all things president trump and his family. linda blair wrote the book "the trumps: three generations of builders and a president." linda blair, nice to have you back. >> hi there. >> so which parts of cohen's testimony, when it comes to the president's business and his finances, do you think will worry the president the most? >> it's a rich smorgasbord here. >> take your pick. >> really -- gosh. what a treasure trove. we don't really know what the --
what's found when trump's offices -- i mean, i'm sorry. >> cohen's offices. >> cohen's offices were raided. oops. so we're still teasing out what was that evidence. and he's supposed to be bringing up new facts and supposedly new documents because apparently it's not enough for him just to -- at this point to say that this happened or that happened. he's going to show documents. so what are those? and what are they going to be about? i think they're going to be about how long those talks went on about trump tower moscow and exactly what the details were that those hush money payments. and what was the background with cohen's father-in-law, fima shusterman, and the apparent money that came from the eastern european somewhat shady sources
that was tapped and was perhaps the reason that donald trump ever really had much to do with cohen in the first place. the access to cohen's father-in-law's very deep pockets at a time that donald trump was still, let's see, the four corporate bankruptcies. he could not get financing from traditional u.s. banks and was looking rather frantically for financing for his projects in the early 2000s. which is when chooinl into the picture. >> yes. when he came into play. and let me just note for everyone watching as we think about tomorrow. you mentioned maybe he'll have documents. i was talking to two former federal prosecutors last hour and they said he could bring any of that. he could bring documents. he could bring recordings. he had a penchant to record a lot of things. this is not like court. you can't object to evidence. and so that could all be fair game. what about this, gwenda? do you believe that cohen will implicate or name names when it comes to as you mentioned maybe trump tower moscow or the trump
organization including his own -- trump's own family members? >> well, i think it's important to note that i believe it was today that cohen's license to practice law was revoked in new york court. >> that's correct. he was disbarred. >> he's under a very lot of pressure to substantiate what he's alleging with whatever documentation he can bring in. i have no doubt there are going to be some papers he's look at and there's going to be a lot of effort to bolster what he has to say. and is he going to name names? i mean, let's hold on to our hats. i think he has a lot to name if he wants to. and of course it all comes down -- >> do you think he'll go there -- sorry, do you think he'll go there with regard to trump's family members? would he name those names? >> well, he's not holding out for a pardon. i think we're pretty sure of that.
trump has ruled it out. and it doesn't seem to be that he's going to be holding out. so -- >> okay. >> -- why not? >> we also know -- imagine, okay, you have michael cohen in washington testifying, you have president trump over in vietnam meeting with kim jong un, the dictator of north korea. we know that trump will be up all night, either watching or somehow following along through all of this testimony playing out in washington. give us a glimpse into his mindset, how he will react in real time to michael cohen potentially spilling the goods. >> i think trump's use of twitter is so fascinating. in his kind of -- in a way he's like a one-man ongoing permanent focus group, tloingz up there, seeing what happens, and causing -- blowing up any kind of theory anybody could ever have about anything constantly.
even if they're his own cabinet member. the other day. he's constantly undercutting what people say. so whatever cohen says, he's going to point to him as a liar. we know of course trump's track record for lying is remarkably long. but he'll do that. and he'll do his best to talk about what he's doing in north korea to get that to get the headline, to have that to be what people are paying attention to. that to be the big news. and to have cohen come across as a has-been reject, doesn't have his law license anymore. those things will all come up too. >> the cohen testimony starts tomorrow morning. we'll take it live here at cnn and we'll talk about it through the day. gwenda blair, thank you very much. appreciate having your voice through all of this. >> thank you. >> coming up next president trump, as we mentioned, arrives in vietnam for this critical second summit with kim jong un. we will take you live to hanoi with new details we have learned about the relationship between these two leaders. and in the next couple of hours we expect to see house lawmakers pass a resolution to
terminate president trump's national emergency declaration. we have details on the republican senators who are now publicly opposing the president on this very issue. and later, the 2020 democratic contenders weigh in on slavery reparations. and some are backing the idea. you're watching cnn. i'm brooke baldwin. 300 miles an hour, that's where i feel normal. having an annuity tells me my retirement is protected. learn more at retire your risk dot org.
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as the president's former fixer testifies to congress, president trump will be halfway around the world readying for his second face to face with north korean dictator kim jong un. and i think we'd all agree that the two men have come quite a long way from the early days of the trump white house and comments like these.
>> north korea best not make any more threats to the united states. they will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. >> rocket man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. >> so little by little the ice began to thaw. fast-forward to 2018 and to this scene in singapore last june during the first trump-kim summit. lots of handshakes, long walks, smiles, even a thumbs up from president trump. and things went so well that he boldly declared without a shred of evidence that north korea was no longer a threat shortly after arriving back in washington. so what you may ask was the turning point. well, according to president trump, it was the power of the written word. >> when i did it, and i was really being tough. so was he. and we were going back and forth. and then we fell in love.
okay? no, really. he wrote me beautiful letters. >> that was september. but trump reportedly has had six of these letters, which call him your excellency while touting his intelligence and energy, letters that he is fond of showing off in private and as he did just a couple weeks ago at a cabinet meeting in public. >> i just got a great letter from kim jong un. and those few people that i've shown this letter to, they've never written letters like that. this letter is a great letter. we've made a lot of progress with north korea and kim jong un. >> cnn national security reporter kylie atwood is live in hanoi in vietnam. and kylie, any relationship expert will tell you that trust is key, and you have learned the same is true for president trump and kim jong un. tell me more.
>> reporter: every person would looks at key negotiations says that trust is key, but it takes a while to build that trust of course. that said, right out of the gates during the first time that president trump sat down with north korean leader kim jong un last year in singapore, the north korean leader asked trump if he trusts him, that key question right at the beginning of their conversations. and trump replied that yes, he does. he also described what he thought of kim jong un, saying that he was sort of sneaky but not too sneaky. i want to point out, however, that the north koreans aren't just looking at president trump here. he is a key player. he is the player. but they're keenly aware of the other u.s. negotiators that are influencing trump here. so kim jong un, when he heard those words from trump saying he trusted him, turned to national security adviser john bolton, who is known for being skeptical of these negotiations with north korea, he asked him the same
question. do you trust me? bolton then told him if trump does i do as well. so the question here is what is trump going to sit down and discuss with the north koreans over the next two days here in hanoi? a senior administration official told reporters last week that trump is looking for more in-depth conversations about the future of north korea if they do indeed commit to full and final denuclearization of north korea. but so far what we have seen is the president has actually used flattery to try and push forward such an agreement, not necessarily specifics. we also know that trump described kim jong un as someone who has been raised by a wealthy family, a powerful family, and trump said that most people he knows in those situations don't turn out so well, they're interpret messed up. but he said kim jong un wasn't one of those folks. so is it going to be flattery again in this summit or is it
going to be specifics? trump has already kind of lowered the bar for expectations in saying we are happy if there's no testing, indicating that steps on denuclearization may not happen imminently right after this meeting. there might be more. >> that's stunning, especially given the atrocities that have been committed in north korea. kylie atwood with some excellent color. kylie, thank you so much. in hanoi. william toby is the former deputy administrator of the national nuclear security administration. and so will, thank you so much for being here. >> thank you. >> aeler this month you were quoted as saying north korea has an advantage if they deal directly with trump because, your words, if they can keep the discussion with trump at the conceptual level they have a much better chance of getting wa they want. and then you went on to say that both u.s. and american allies could be vulnerable. how do you mean?
>> well, kim jong un is seeking political and economic concessions. and the sorts of things that he needs to get them can be described in broad terms. an end to the korean war would be one example. because if such a peace is declared then the rationale for the web of sanctions that strangle north korea now will be removed and they can make the argument that nations should be trading freely with them and should be diplomatic relations with them. and so they will gain some benefits. the things that the president wants that entail denuclearization require detailed discussions of exactly what programs the north has, where they are, and how that would be verified. >> on the denuclearization point, last may our own correspondent will ripley and a number of other journalists were in north korea when the country appeared to have blown up tunnels and buildings and other
parts of this nuclear test site pung ge rie. the regime said the journalists' presence would offer transparency. but no experts or inspectors were invited. so do you think that site was actually destroyed or was the whole thing just a dog and pony show? >> well, if you made me guess, i would say the most likely state of affairs is the site was largely destroyed in the last north korean nuclear test. and so blowing up the entrance to the tunnel was mainly for show. and i don't think they actually accomplished anything toward denuclearization by it. >> what about a second ago we played sort of the evolution of this relationship between trump and kim and trump now more recently touts these letters that he's received from the north korean dictator saying they're just one of a multitude of signs of progress and a good relationship. but the "washington post" recently wrote the following.
"former u.s. diplomats scoffed at the idea that kim's letters are a sign of increasing personal trust and meaningful progress. rather, they suggested kim has sized up his mark and showered the president with flattery to soften him up at the negotiating table." do you think those ex-diplomats, william, are correct in that assessment? >> well, i think careful and professional diplomats don't place a lot of stock in trust between nations. they assess intentions and capabilities and try and create the right incentives for an outcome that advances their own country's national interests. >> what does that mean? >> it's not really a matter of personal -- it's not a matter of personal trust. it's a matter of whether or not we can trust the north to do what we want them to do. >> can we? >> i'm highly doubtful. i think the north korean national interest is to retain its nuclear weapons stockpile and to retain its fissile
material production capabilities, and they would like to evade sanctions and get a declaration ending the korean war that would advance their economic interest. >> william tobey, thank you so much for your expertise. good to have you on. coming up next here, at least three republican senators are coming up publicly saying they plan to vote against the president's national emergency declaration. and my next guest says the fact there aren't more is just one example of "the norm looidsatalf trumpism." we'll have him explain. and right now accused russian spy maria butina is back in federal court. will the russian native serve time here in a u.s. prison or be deported to russia? what makes this simple salad the best simple salad ever? great tasting, heart-healthy california walnuts. so simple, so good. get the recipes at walnuts.org. you might or joints.hing for your heart...
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another republican senator just joined the fight to overturn president trump's national emergency declaration at the u.s.-mexico border. alaska's lisa murkowski is now the third senator who says she will vote against the president. the democratic-controlled house is expected to pass the resolution in just a few hours here, and then the senate gets its turn. and that could prove to be a major test for senate republicans. here is senator murkowski and maine senator susan collins. >> the president's action is of dubious constitutionality. it likely violates the
separation of powers. if it's a clean disapproval resolution, i will support it. >> i think it's so important that there be clear lines when it comes to the separation of powers, the institution of the congress as the appropriating branch. there's going to be a great deal of debate as to whether or not the legal authority is there. >> moments ago senate majority leader mitch mcconnell said he is still weighing the legality. >> mr. leader, do you personally believe that the president's emergency declaration is legal? >> well, that's part of what we were discussing today. >> what do you think? >> well, we're in the process of weighing it. the lawyer was there to make his arguments. there were some counterarguments. i haven't reached a total conclusion about, you know -- i wouldn't go to me for a simple will. i did go to law school. but we had some real serious lawyers in there discussing that very issue. >> my next guest argues that the
president's declaration has been a, quote unquote, antithetical -- has been antithetical to conservatism. he's matt lewis. he's got a new column at the daily beast and it's called "we have finally normalized trumpism." and the zinger line at the end is this. "they say you never stand so tall as when you stoop to" -- can i say this on cnn? "kiss someone's ass. if 24s trthis is true, then tru surrounded by giants." matt lewis with the zinger. good to have you back, matt. that's quite a statement. can you tell me what you mean? >> well, in writing columns if you have a good lead, the opening, and a good kicker, the ending, then you've got a good column. >> congratulations. >> i think i succeeded at that. no, look, there's a real conundrum i think republicans have. let's look at lindsey graham as an example. >> sure. >> you have the choice to kind of stand up and be brave and tell the truth about donald trump in the case of the emergency order that it's not
constitutional, it's not appropriate, it's -- the same thing that republicans and conservatives attacked barack obama for doing, for overstepping his authority. you can either have influence or you can have your dignity and your integrity. you can't have both if you're a republican in the senate working with donald trump. and i think in the case of a lot of these republicans they have chosen to have some influence and relevance in re-election and to give up on the integrity and dignity part of it. >> i want to come back to what this means for true conservative voters and the conundrum that is 2020. but you point out in your piece, like if you were coming down from mars and you flick on the tv or flip open a newspaper and you see the big story monday in the "washington post" was that the president was accused of sexually harassing a campaign employee during his 2016 run or tuesday, wednesday, thursday this week is his former fixer michael cohen who's like spilling the beans. right?
in front of congress and all of america. and this is all happening while the president of the united states is meeting with the dictator of north korea. take a moment to -- what? on any normal day, right? any of that is a-one material. but to your point, how has this become the new normal? >> right. as you said, we've got the emergency order, a president overstepping his authority, essentially saying i'm going to do what i want to do unilaterally, forget about you congress being a co-equal or even a superior branch of government. you have a sexual assault allegation, which anytime in politics would have been, you know, a huge story. you've got a president in this case i think legitimizing a rogue nuclear regime. these are all stories. michael cohen testifying three times before congress about corruption. any of these stories would have had people i think going insane, maybe even calling for impeachment.
but we're sort of inured to it all. right? i think we've become kind of used to it. and it's a big -- we're talking about it, but it's not as big as it should be. i think that says something about us. and then i would also say each of these stories are also antithetical to conservatism. not only do they cut against what's normal in the world in society, what we've come to expect from a president, but they all cut against what a reaganite conservative might expect as well. >> so what do conservative voters do when it comes to 2020? quickly. >> most of them are going to suck it up and go for donald trump. he's their guy. this is tribalism. and if you look at what the democrats are doing it's hard to blame them because the democratic party instead of going to the center, instead of trying to be the decent -- they're lurching leftward on a lot of radical issues. >> matt lewis, thank you very much for the open and close of the daily beast piece. now from medicare to social
security, speaking of, these 2020 contenders are also being asked about a number of policies and now asked about reparations for slavery. just last night here on cnn in our presidential town hall senator bernie sanders struggled to answer the question as several other democrats support the idea. let's discuss that. isn't what goes into your soup... just as important as what you get out of it? our broccoli cheddar is made with aged melted cheddar, simmered broccoli, and no artificial flavors. enjoy 100% clean soup today. panera. food as it should be. i'm a fighter. always have been. when i found out i had age-related macular degeneration, amd, i wanted to fight back. my doctor and i came up with a plan. it includes preservision.
over reparations for slavery. and the democrats running for president are quickly learning voters want to know exactly where they stand on the issue. vermont senator bernie sanders, who in 2016 said he did not support reparations, had a much different answer during last night's cnn town hall. >> part of the legacy of slavery and jim crow in the u.s. is the legacy of income inequality in the u.s. what is your position on reparations to the descendants of slaves? >> well, as i just indicated, there are massive disparities that must be addressed. there is legislation that i like, introduced by congressman jim clyburn. it's called the 10-20-30 legislation. which focuses federal resources in a very significant way on distressed communities, communities that have high levels of poverty. >> so what is your position specifically on reparations? i ask the question because elizabeth warren, julianne castro, they've indicated they want -- >> what do they mean? i'm not sure that anyone's very
clear. what i've just said is that i think we must do everything that we can to address the massive level of disparity that exists in this country. >> four other candidates have opened up about their case for reparations, supporting at the very least a discussion. here's what some of them have said. >> what i do find challenging is the best way to do that. how to ensure that it's fair to every individual. you know, we're talking about now 150 years. and there's a process there. but what i believe is that it's fundamentally worth that. but i do believe that the country would be better off if we were to do that. >> we have systemic racism, layers of systemic racism that are layovers, leftovers from slavery. i believe $100 billion given to a council that would apply this money to economic projects and
educational projects of renewal for that population is simply a debt to be paid. >> again, it's back to the inequities. there through -- look, america has a history of 200 years of slavery. we had jim crow. we had legal segregation in america for a very long time. people aren't starting out on the same base in terms of their ability to succeed. so we have got to recognize that and give people a lift up. >> and just add to that senator elizabeth warren said she supports having a conversation that included native americans. senator cory booker hasn't taken a direct stance but has spoken out against the nation's economic disparities. let me bring in tara setmayer, cnn political commentator, and symone sanders whos wa bernie sanders press secretary during his 2016 run. she's also a cnn political commentator. hey ladies, thank you both for
being with me. i know where you two stand, but i want everyone else to hear it. so tara, starting with you first, how do you see it? >> i feel like the issue of reparations, however you're defining them, that makes a difference because direct reparation payments i think is impractical. i don't think that's necessarily the way to go about it. that doesn't say that we're not acknowledging the inequalities. all of those things are true. but as a country we've tried in many different ways to try to rectify those things economically, whether it's affirmative action programs or income tax credits, opportunity zones, racial preferences for government contracting. i mean, there have been legislative fixes that have been put in place to try to level the playing field. nobody's saying that that's perfect. but i don't know what the idea of reparations and direct payments or other ways is even practical. even president obama was leery of that and tried to look at examples around the world where
there have been reparations to try to make up for things like he used south africa as an example, didn't quite work. india as an example, didn't quite work. how do you apply this equitably? i just don't think it's practical. i think it's indicative of the -- it's populism. it's the rhetoric of populism that sounds good, but i don't know that it's fair or equitable the way you distribute it or even practical in america. >> okay. symone, what about you? >> look, i think the conversation -- one, i'd like to note the only reason we're having a conversation about reparations right now is because a very good reporter from the "new york times" got all of these candidates on the record in a "new york times" story and then also kudos to the root for the reporting they did. the press secretary in me is like hmm, i don't know if we should answer the inquiry. but i will say -- >> me too. i'm like -- reparations? that's a tough one. it's been going on for like 20 years. bill clinton used to talk about it. >> but i am glad that campaigns are candidates are willing to talk about it. and i'll say that the definition
"the new york times" used for reparations was the concept of, one, the acknowledgment from the federal government of the ongoing impact of slavery and discrimination and, this and is really important, and some form of compensation payment to those directly affected. so that is the definition astid useded in the "new york times" when he asked a number of campaigns what they thought of reparations. >> do you like that definition? >> i do like that definition. when you talk about compensation, compensation can take many different forms. but i think the idea of reparations, one, an acknowledgment from the federal government -- acknowledgment from the federal government of the ongoing impact of slavery and some type of conversation, i don't think it's crazy. i think there's a safe mass for candidates who want to come out and talk about reparations, who are willing to be on the record, is specifically the idea of reparations, is to be supporting a bill that former congressman john conyers had introduced in congress almost every year. >> starting in 1989.
yep. >> when i was born. okay? about 20 or 30 years at this point. i'm about 30. but the bill is not a bill that gives reparations, y'all. the bill is a bill to study, to do research. so i actually think that's a safe place to be because you saw all the presidential candidates say what -- even bernie was like what do they mean? and i don't think there's a clear answer to what reparations would exactly look like. >> but i go back to -- and i was rereading what barack obama, when he was running for president back in 2007. and tara, you mentioned this a second ago. when he was talking about this and he wrote this to the naacp and he said, i have the quote, he said that they would be -- the reparations would be used as an excuse for some to say we've paid our debt and to avoid the much harder work. meaning people would say all right, you've been paid back, thanks, bye, we don't need to work any harder. is that not -- >> yeah. i think that's not the panacea. you're looking at multigenerational issues as a result of jim crow and as a
result of the economic ineck waults and the fact black america did not -- started ten feet behind everybody else because of those things but how do you rectify that now in the form of direct payments? how do you distribute that equitably? you don't just say okay, here's $60,000 to everyone and good luck, it's over. no. there are -- there's attitudinal changes that need to happen. there are institutional changes that need to happen that i think the country is working on. and i just don't know that direct payments will do it. they use the example of lottery winners. what happens when people win a large sum of money? a lot of times lottery winners go bankrupt. so is a sum of money the answer to this? no. there's a lot of other things that go into it that could be done as opposed to direct payments. i just don't know how you do that constitutionally -- >> i want to push back on that idea for a minute. only because i mean, there's census bureau data right now
that says a white -- for every $100 that a white family earns a black family of the same socioeconomic status, same educational background earns $5. so when folks are talking about the wealth gap in america, when you specifically talk about the gap between white americans and black americans of the same socioeconomic status it's more like a chasm. not just a gap. so that's why i think you've seen candidates like cory booker talk about a baby bonds bill. you've seen kamala harris talk about her lift act. but when you talk specifically about this idea of reparations, part of it is the acknowledgment from the federal government of the ongoing effects of slavery and discrimination. >> i think there should be an acknowledgment. >> that could be rectified -- yes, that part could be rectified not just in words but also in actual policy. but in this compensation question i tend to agree with tara and i don't know if the $100 billion for example that marianne williamson has proposed is the answer. but that is why i think if we're going to have a conversation about this it should be a research-based conversation, which is a safe place for candidates to be if i was
advising anybody, would be to support -- >> we now know -- we know sheila lee has taken this back up. we need more research and perhaps -- but this is something, it would be interesting to see how the politics of this plays out. but these democratic contenders are being asked about it and we're getting answers going into 2020. ladies, we've got to go. symone sanders and tara setmayer, good to see you. michael cohen, the president's former fixer, he is still testifying right now behind closed doors on capitol hill. hear what senators are telling us about the, quote unquote, extensive grilling he's getting. plus one of the pope's closest advisers and the vatican's treasurer now convicted of child sexual abuse. hear how one of his victims is now reacting. ere you are in life or what your dreams entail, a cfp professional is trained, knowledgeable, and committed to financial planning in your best interest. find your certified financial planner™ professional
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comfortable comfortab comfortable lie down and a shower. >> thanks for being here. the lead with jake tapper starts now. he is on capitol hill and expect today bring with him some skeletons from president trump's closet. donald trump's former secrets keeper testifying on capitol hill before he heads to prison and he is expected to say the president has been comply sit in his crimes. president trump hours away from his second summit as dictator as we get details about how the president hoped flattery would get him the last time around. vicious hate mail, the latest innocent victims of the political battle over the border wall. >> welcome to the lead. i'm jake tapper. we begin