tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN March 28, 2022 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
president biden refusing to walk back his controversial comments that putin cannot remain in power. "the lead" starts right now. just moments ago president biden insisting the u.s. is not pushing for regime change in russia even though he does not think that havvladimir putin shd remain in charge. how much weight will his words carry? plus, a federal judge says former president trump and one of his lawyers likely committed a crime by trying to stop the election process on january 6,
2021. who decides if trump will actually face charges? and will smith's show-stopping slap, hitting chris rock in the face after rock joked about jada pinkett smith. the heated meeting after the oscars that could determine will smith's fate with the academy. hello and welcome to "the lead. "i'm jake tapper. president biden insisting, quote, i'm not walking anything back, the president insisting he stands by his unscripted remarks that vladimir putin, quote, cannot remain in power, comments seen by many as calls for regime change in russia. here is biden's explanation. >> let me begin by saying -- you know, you've heard me say this
before, war with russia, i was expressing the behavior of this man. it's outrageous. it's outrageous. >> on the ground near the ukrainian capital today the mayor of irpin says ukrainian forces have, quote, freed that suburb from russian invaders. the fighting and russian bombing have intensified around kyiv. in the southeast of the country the mayor of mariupol says they're, quote, in the hands of the occupiers. that city has been flattened by nonstop russian bombing and a weeklong siege by the russians. ukraine's military intelligence chief is warning putin could be trying to cleve them in two, possibly splitting into occupied ukraine in the east and south and unoccupied ukraine, free ukraine. more on the ground in a moment.
let's start at the white house with kaitlan collins. president biden suggested that no one could have interpreted his remarks as calling for regime change. >> reporter: of course, jake, many people raised the question whether that's what he was calling for. he said he is not walking back his statement that president putin cannot remain in power, he also says he's not stating new policy from the united states government which, of course, officials say they do not support regime change in russia. that is up to the russian people to make that decision, and the united states does not have a position on that but, of course, it came into question after those nine words that president biden said at the end of a very forceful speech in warsaw. it came after a day where he had been meeting with ukrainian refugees, the very people putin has forced from their homes in ukraine, and instead president biden told us a few moments ago he was expressing his moral outrage at putin's behavior. >> i wasn't then nor am i now articulating a policy change. i was expressing the moral outrage i feel, and i make no
apologies for it. the last part of the speech was talking to the russian people telling them what we thought. i was communicating this to not only the russian people but the whole world. this is just stating a simple fact that this kind of behavior is totally unacceptable. totally unacceptable. and the way to deal with it is to strengthen and keep nato completely united and help ukraine where we can. >> reporter: jake, we should note the french president was one of several leaders who expressed concern about maybe this being viewed as escalatory. the president told us he does not believe this will affect any diplomatic efforts when it comes to russia and ukraine and he said he doesn't care if putin views it as an escalatory move which is notable given that is something the white house has sought to balance, confronting putin while not provoking him. one other thing, jake, really interesting from that exchange, we asked president biden whether or not he would be willing to meet with president putin again.
of course they sat down in geneva last year, have talked on the phone several times since then. they have not spoken since this invasion began. however, he did not rule out meeting with president putin, the person he has called a war criminal and a pure thug. he said it depends on what putin would want to talk about. jake? >> all right, kaitlan collins at the white house, thank you so much. a new warning from ukraine's military intelligence chief today suggesting the kremlin could be aiming to carve ukraine down the middle as fred pleitgen reports from us, with a bombing campaign. a warning to viewers this story contains some graphic images. >> reporter: kyiv remains under full-on attack by vladimir putin's army. ukrainian officials saying russian forces are trying to storm the capital but failing, unleashing artillery barrages on civilian areas in the process. we drove to a village north of kyiv only a few miles from the frontline. even the streets here are
pockmarked with shrapnel and massive impact craters. whole buildings laid to waste. just look at the utter destruction caused by this massive explosion. there's some thick brick walls. even they were annihilated by the force of whatever landed here. the people here tell us they only felt one really large explosion and it wounded several people and killed a small child. that child was 2-year-old stepan, kild while in his bed when the house came under fire. these videos show the chaos in the aftermath. the wounded appear in shock. residents and rescuers tried to save those inside. stepan pronounced dead on the scene. we found oleg sifting through the rubble of his house days later. inside he shows me the damage caused by the explosion.
he was at work when his home was hit, his wife, the other children and his mother-in-law had already been brought to the hospital when he arrived at the house. stepan couldn't be saved, and because of staff shortages at the morgue, oleg had to prepare his son's body for burial himself. >> translator: i had to wash him, to dress him, his head from his right ear to his left ear, one large hematoma. his arms, his legs, a total hematoma not compatible with life. besides that lots of other wounds were discovered after that. >> reporter: many other houses have been hit here. the russians shell the town every day. we bumped into 84-year-old halena in the town center. she was a child when the nazis invaded this area and says now things are worse. >> translator: worse than fascists. when the germans were here and entered our homes, they would shoot at the ceiling but they would not touch us.
they moved us into the woods but they did not shoot us like the russian soldiers are shooting now, killing children. >> reporter: the kremlin claims its forces don't target civilian areas, but the u.s., nato and the ukrainians say the russians are frustrated by their lack of progress and are firing longer range weapons because they can't make headway on the ground. >> translator: i understand that sooner or later our troops will push them out of our territory. now the russians are doing dirty tricks. they shoot more at civilian areas than positions of the ukrainian army. >> reporter: ukraine's army says it's pressing its own counter offensive trying to dislodge russian troops from the outskirts of kyiv. the kremlin's forces, meanwhile, so far unable to take the ukrainian capital are instead laying waste to its suburbs. and, jake, that was really the story of the day today. we heard explosions, air raid
sirens going on and plumes of smoke over the northwest of the ukrainian capital. a spokesman for the ukrainian army today said the russians were trying to advance in that area trying to take streets and small villages, as he put it. so far the ukrainians are able to confront them and hold them back. the ukrainians also saying they're continuing to push the counter offensive to push the russians out of the area. jake? >> fred pleitgen, thank you. please stay safe. joining us is the ranking republican on the house foreign affairs committee. congressman, thanks for joining us. i want to start with the president a few minutes ago saying his comments about putin and not wanting him to remain in power, he was just expressing his personal moral outrage not a policy change. what is your response to that? you seemed to suggest yesterday with dana bash he was being needlessly provocative in his original comments. >> right. and, listen, i went down to the
border -- ukraine border, poland, saw the refugees. i certainly understand the moral outrage the president must have felt and his emotions when he made that comment. it seems every time he goes off script he causes some international incident here. when they say they don't want to be provocative by bringing in mig jets and yet he makes comments like these that are very provocative with respect to putin particularly on the heels of these major negotiations that we think are going to be taking place in the next couple of days. it overshadowed the entire nato, eu, g7 summit this is all everybody is talking about. >> you agreed with the white house walkback that regime change in russia which president biden reiterated today is up to the russian people, not up to
the american leadership, but i wonder about that because if the russians don't have free and fair elections, the russian people, if putin suppresses and even kills those who push for reform, who push for democracy, is it really up to the russian people? i'm not pushing for regime change here myself, but it really isn't up to them, is it? >> well, putin is a dictator in this false democracy. he does control the elections. i predict -- we had condoleezza rice, visited with her this week. and these body bags going home, jake, 17,000 killed and you multiply that by three in terms of casualties, the mothers when they see their sons coming home this is more than they lost in afghanistan in the war against
the mujahedin and more than we lost in afghanistan in 20 years this will have a profound impact on the russian people, the oligarchs are obviously not very happy with mr. putin. i feel he feels the world is circling in on him. that's a positive thing. we want change from within, with the russian people rising up against this brutal war criminal. >> do you agree with president biden when he made the comment president putin is a butcher? >> i do. i think he crossed the line when he killed civilians, when he bombed the maternity hospital, the children's hospital in kyiv. i actually helped facilitate getting these children out of ukraine into poland and nato allied countries. you what's going to come next? we don't want to escalate the situation. if he's a scorpion backed in a corner and the stinger comes out. he has two options, one chemical
and one the short-range tactical nukes. that would be a paradigm shift in this competition -- this conflict that could extend it to a world power conflict. >> there's another round of talks being held tomorrow in istanbul between russia and ukraine. is it worth it for ukraine to agree to a peace process if zelenskyy has to cede the donbas region and pledge ukraine will never join nato? is that worth it for peace? >> i really leave that to president zelenskyy and the ukrainian people this is their decision not our decision or nato's decision or, for that ma matter, putin's. he has agreed it would be okay to be a neutral country, not a nato power, but i think the territorial disputes are going to be the part that will be very difficult for zelenskyy to accept especially after the mass
graves we've seen and the horror images we've seen on the television. i think it would be very difficult for him to see the donbas, for him to cede crimea in its entirety. he could talk about no nuclear missiles in his country. i agree with your analysts. putin's strategy is to divide east ukraine versus west with the dnipro river down the middle and putin wants the two donbas independent separatist countries as he calls them and his duma calls them. he wants mariupol to control the black sea. >> mike mccaul of texas, thank you so much for your thoughts. up next, the inconceivable toll of this war on the ukrainians who volunteered and stayed behind and fought for their country. plus, she's the wife of supreme court justice clarence thomas.
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in our world lead ukrainian officials say at least 136 children have been killed and 199 wounded since russia first invaded and began its brutal assault on the country and the ukrainian people more than a month ago. while cnn cannot independently verify those figures, authorities on the ground acknowledge the data is not conclusive and, in fact, could be much higher. cnn's ben ledeman with resistance fighters getting a soldiers funeral. ♪ >> reporter: lord have mercy,
goes the hymn's refrain. another family drinks of war's bitter dredges. 47-year-old yori died on the 18th of march from wounds sustained in the frontline city of and there's death, destruction and displacement. these are indeed the times that try a people's soul. yori was a volunteer not a regular soldier. he was given full military honors. beyond the customs of respect for a man who died in battle for a nation at war lies the trauma of the woman who brought him into this world.
there can be nothing more painful for a mother than to attend the funeral of her child. a son killed in a war not of his chooting. choosing. he decided on his own to join the army, she says. he hadn't told me. he was a good father and a good son. says his sister, he was always a man of his word. he lies with other freshly dug graves. after a month of this conflict no one knows how many soldiers and civilians have been killed. the only thing of which anyone can be certain is that only the dead have seen the end of war. before this funeral ends, preparations begin for the next.
ashes to ashes, dust to dust. and, jake, we're coming to you from the city of mykolaiv where yori was killed ten days ago and it was on that day in 1944 that mykolaiv was liberated from the nazis, but there were no commemorations today with a new war raging just outside this city. jake? >> sobering report. ben wedeman in mykolaiv. please stay safe. a judge says the former president likely committed a crime in the run-up to january 6th and on that day. could this be trouble for donald trump? plus, what we know about trump's son-in-law jared kushner and an upcoming conversation he will have with the january 6 committee. stay with us.
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in our politics lead a federal judge's ominous signal to donald trump in one of his top legal allies in the failed and unconstitutional attempt to overturn the 2020 election, the judge today writing that trump and attorney john eastman may have been planning a crime. judge david carter, a clinton apointee, wrote based on the evidence the court finds it more likely than not president trump corruptly attempt ed to obstruc
the joint session of congress. let's bring in our legal analyst. how big a deal is this? the ruling was not about charging trump with a crime. >> this is not an indictment, it does not ensure there will be an indictment this is a remarkable and unprecedented ruling. the dispute was the committee was trying to get certain emails. eastman said can't have them. they're protected by attorney/client privilege. the committee said we get them because they're evidence of an ongoing crime and this is the remarkable part, the judge said i agree. i find more likely than not the president of the united states committed multiple federal crimes relating to the coup attempt. that is really something we've never seen before from a federal judge. >> there's no attorney-client privilege if they're conspiring together to commit a crime who will decide if trump will be charged with a crime and does this judge's opinion in this
matter impact that at all? >> it does not. this comes down to the united states department of justice and ultimately one person, merrick garland. this judge made his ruling but more likely than not what we call a preponderance of the evidence. that's here in terms of legal standards. a prosecutor has to show proof beyond a reasonable doubt, much higher standard, a much different story. this will up the political pressure on doj to take meaningful action. >> we're learning trump's son-in-law, jared kushner, is expected to speak with the committee this week. what could they learn from him? >> he likes to position himself as the grown-up in the room. he was at a bit removed from january 6 physically and otherwise. if he's willing to be forthcoming perhaps he can give his perspective as sort of a sane-minded outsider. let's remember ivanka trump, she was right next to donald trump this whole time. they've asked her for her
testimony, she brushed off the committee. they need to subpoena her. if she doesn't talk to them voluntarily because she has direct crucial information. >> and lastly, quickly if you could, the january 6 committee wants to ask virginia thomas, the wife of supreme court justice clarence thomas, about her text messages with then white house chief of staff mark meadows which meadows handed over to the committee before he stopped cooperating with them, we're told committee members will meet privately this evening to discuss what to do about ginni thomas. what do you make of this? >> this is not a tangent, a sideshow at all. this is right down the heart of what the committee needs to be looking at. these texts are game changers. we've known ginni thomas has extreme political views. that's fine. she's entitled. but these shows she was urging mark meadows to take action to bring this coup into effect. that's right down the heart of what the committee needs to look at. ahead, signs of relief after paying higher gas prices for
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you can try to look on the bright side in our money lead today. it seems safe to say gasoline prices have stabilized for now, just under $4.25 a gallon, the same as last week. 8 cents less than earlier this month. still, a gallon of gas is about $1.39 more than this time last year. stable or not, that hurts. in a recent cnn poll of polls,
let's talk about pocketbook inuse and more with richard quest. the resulting sanctions sent oil prices way up. where do you think things are likely to go from here? >> well, they've stabilized because shanghai is going in lockdown. china's demand is not going to be that great. one thing, jake, the first whiff of further trouble, the first scintilla of possibility of supply problems and that price will go back up again. so any respite that you're seeing now, any little bit of breathing room, take it while it's there because it literally could go tomorrow, oil prices are that volatile. >> higher fuel prices not only are affecting day-to-day life, it has people rethinking their plans for summer travel. that sort of ripple effects might that have?
>> every bit of the economy. food manufacturers, growers, fertilizer -- one example, fertilizer from ukraine that can no longer be easily exported, the price goes up, therefore, the food chain becomes more expensive. hotels, fuel surcharges on airlines. i'm not trying to paint an unduly depressing picture as such but what i'm trying to do, jake, is give you a realistic view. the economy is in transition at the moment because of this war. and the higher oil prices, supply chain problems left over from the pandemic along with a pandemic that is still very relevant in many parts of the world, that's why we're going to have difficult economic times in the united states and in europe. >> we want to you give it to us straight, richard. no one is asking you to hold back and on that subject later
this week we're due to get some new readings on inflation and jobs and unemployment. are you anticipating another round of gloomy headlines? >> oh, yes, yes. look, the fed has two jobs. one job and two things. it balances full employment with price stability. those are the -- that's the jewel mandate. at the moment unemployment is not really the big issue but inflation is. so we know we're going to get five, six, maybe more, interest rate rises this year. this is despite the fact that the economy is to some extent slowing down already. it's going to be difficult. it's a time for saving if you can, a time for watching the pennies if you can. >> all right, richard quest, always good to see you. up next the show-stopping slap at the oscars. the response from the academy and beyond after will smith's violent confrontation with chris rock plus what police say about possible charges against the
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slapped chris riock across the face after he made a joke about his wife, jada pinkett smith's hair. she suffers from alopecia. stephanie elam was at the oscars and reports on how the academy awards are responding to a shocking incident. >> reporter: a slap to the jaw that had jaws dropping all around the world and today cnn has learned from two sources at least a dozen academy members including actors and directors held their own meeting whether more should be done after will smith confronted chris rock on stage. >> jada, i love you. g.i. jane 2, can't wait to see it. >> reporter: at first smith appeared to laugh. but watch jada pinkett smith's face. their mood changes as the joke sinks in. >> oh, wow. wow.
will smith just smacked [ bleep ]. >> keep my wife's name out of you [ bleep ] mouth. >> wow, dude. it was a g.i. jane joke. >> reporter: the doleby theater crowd stunned. sean combs called for calm. >> okay, will and chris, we're going to solve that like family at the party. >> reporter: a word to the head shaven character from "gi jane." over the years pinkett smith has spoken about her struggles with alopecia. >> look at this line here. >> reporter: an autoimmune disease that causes hair loss. it's unclear if rock knew this. ironically he directed a 2009 documentary about the struggles of accepting black hair in its natural form. >> will smith! >> reporter: when smith won best actor later in the night, the world waited to hear what he
would say. >> i want to apologize to the academy, to all my fellow nominees. art imitates life. i look like the crazy father just like they said. >> reporter: obviously missing from his apologies, chris rock. rock declined to file a police report so there's no assault case. the academy later tweeted it does not condone violence of any form and today announced a formal review to explore further action and consequences. some on twitter sympathize with smith, others question whether he should have been allowed to accept his award at all. >> they should have explained he wasn't allowed to do it because he attacked someone during the ceremony. >> reporter: after the show, smith carried on into the hollywood night. dancing to one of his own songs, oscar in hand, at the "vanity fair" after party. now the academy does have to figure out how they're going to
respond to this because as things stand will smith should be on the oscar stage next year because he won best actor. that winner always presents best actress the following year, so they have to figure out how they're going to do this. i feel sorry for quest love, a person from philadelphia, who won the award right after that all happened and i think most of the people there couldn't even digest it because they were all still caught up in the slap. jake? >> stephanie elam, thanks so much. let's discuss, the hosts of "speak easy" on cnn plus which launches tomorrow. first of all, what was your reaction in what do you think? >> well, i know you were flying. >> i was. i was flying here to new york, and when i was able to turn my phone on i had 653 text messages and that is not hyperbole, jake. half of them were probably from you. >> true. did you see this? what is going on? >> i listened to the will smith
autobiography "will," which is really good. this is a guy who has, to this day, whether or not he realizes it, a lot of pain from his very unhappy childhood with an abusive four and he felt guilty about not standing up for his mother. i'm not excusing anything. anything at all, and i know you aren't either, but trying to understand. >> you're talking contextually. i think we have had this conversation so many times. this story is so layered and i tweeted this earlier. there is not one person who was right and one person who was wrong, and so many times we want to take sides and it's just not that simple with this case. i did read the book. i did feel as if he was -- and i'm not a psychologist but, you're right, there was a lot of trauma there. for him to look over at his wife and see her pain and be at their breaking point -- because let's look at his long career. will, for better or for worse, has not done anything incorrect in his career. very few missteps when it comes
to will smith. >> not that we know of. >> so when you see someone who has been the butt of jokes for a very long time, because of -- when he was fresh prince of bel air, born and raised in philly, his raps were always considered -- when he was a rapper he was considered one of the good guys, if you will and, therefore, sometimes they make fun of you. and i think what we saw last night, and i'm not even joking, is a man at his breaking point for a lot of reasons. >> and congresswoman presley who also suffers from alopecia immediately posted and then deleted something that said thank you, will smith. shout out to the husbands standing up for their wives. she talked about the importance of nonviolence and she doesn't advocate violence and, again, nobody is saying that it was okay to slap chris rock in the face. nobody is saying that. but obviously for congresswoman
pressley, she has spent years being mocked and she felt for jada pinkett smith. >> not only that, jake, you have to understand this on an even deeper level than that. for black women, we watched confirmation hearings with judge ketanji brown jackson, right, we saw everything that she went through, saw how she was really lambasted in the public eye. and we saw all the things she had to deal with and she was often lauded for keeping cool and collected. sometimes things happen, people don't feel that way. for black women in particular, i saw tiffany haddish as well where she felt very encouraged, if you will, by the fact will smith in this very public setting was standing up for his black wife and that's a protection black women often aren't afforded. and, like you said, it was obviously wrong. chris rock shouldn't have told the joke. will smith's response can't be to go up and slap another man in
public at the oscars. >> can you imagine if every time a joke was told -- >> that would never happen. this is a rare incident. >> very rare. >> there are comedians -- kathy griffin said comedians will be afraid. >> i disagree. >> i don't think so. >> i think the people who are in here saying that, it was an assault but those calling for his arrest, saying his oscar should be taken away, the academy is not in the business of deciding whose sin is bigger. you have to look at everyone who has done anything wrong, you have to look at what they've done as well. if you decide this is the moment. >> keep in mind harvey weinstein still has all of his. >> keep going. >> roman polanski, bill cosby all members of the academy. >> we don't want to open up that can of worms. no one wins here. it was a sad night. i think will is probably harder on himself today than we will ever be. >> here is the thing.
one of the couple's children on twitter, and that's how we do it. obviously they have a strong family unit and i can certainly understand -- >> he's a kid. >> he's 23. >> he's still a kid. >> how do we get past this? will smith needs to apologize to chris rock. he hit him in the face. >> 100%. everyone knows this. they will have a sitdown. but there's a history we're not even talking about. i believe there's a relationship that's tight and tense, because he's tired, he made a joke about jada when there's a campaign that says oscar is so white and why is jada weighing in? we don't care if she comes. it doesn't matter, essentially. >> that's the clean version. i appreciate it. >> the clean version. >> the reference to rihanna. >> no rihanna here. the reality is that he was tired.
everyone has fault in this. i believe there's a lot of layers and nuance. >> what does will smith need to do? >> publicly probably needs to say something. probably another episode of red table talk. >> the show -- >> the show that jada hosts. they've been transparent before about issues they face. i think he needs to say something. if the academy is going to go so far as to look into action, don't have him present next year. to take away his oscar is ridiculous. i think he can make amends. it's important people see this in context. people play will like he's soft. you mentioned he was the first hip-hop artist to win a grammy in a time of the boom of gangsta rap "parents just don't understand." >> people thought he was soft because he wasn't cursing,
wasn't dealing drugs -- >> let's hang out. >> we have heard about their marital issues before. people have made him memes, the butt of jokes. >> i could do this all day but i have to take a commercial break. >> why, jake? >> jemele, i have to pay the bills. jemele hill and cari, on cnn plus, the streaming service debuts tonight at midnight eastern time, less than 24 hours away. learn much more at cnnplus.com. i know i'm going to be watching. thank you for joining us. appreciate it. as ukrainian refugees flood neighboring countries, leaders warn taking on more people will be a challenge. how they're trying to make sure no one is turned away from that country next. so we fit your style. our inststallers complete your work in as little as a day so we fit your s schedule. our manufacturing team cucustom crafts your bath
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contact your doctor immediately if you have sudden vision loss. most common side-effects are headache and eye redness. ♪ ♪ welcome to "the lead." this hour a look at how nearly 400 acres in los angeles county given to homeless veterans in the late 1800s became the site of an athletic center for an elite private school. this while thousands of veterans are currently sleeping on los angeles' streets. plus, a federal judge going further than any other judge as of now saying it's more than likely trump's attempt to block the certification of the election is a crime. what could this mean for merrick garland? leading this hour, relentless
russian air strikes continuing even with just hours to go before representatives from both russia and ukraine are set to meet for talks in turkey. let's get right to cnn's ivan watson live in ukraine in zaporizhzhia. what might that looks like and how could the ukrainian people receive it? >> reporter: he also couched that by saying that if ukraine was to move in that direction that it would need a popular referendum, the citizens of ukraine would have to vote for it. that opens up a whole different can of worms which is crimea which russia grabbed in 2014 and later annexed and then these two breakaway regions which the russian government