About the Show

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

On the Next Episode of The Lead

NFL's Roger Goodell to hold a press conference, the first in 9 days. We'll have the latest.

NFL's Roger Goodell to hold a press conference, the first in 9 days. We'll have the latest.

national lead

May 16th, 2013
07:25 PM ET

Who's really in the Witness Protection Program?

The Witness Protection Program has always loomed large in the public imagination, usually depicted as a haven for turncoat mobsters.

But who really lives within the protected realm of the program? The public does not know for sure, and that's sort of the point.

According the U.S. marshals, the agency that runs the program, more than 18,000 men, women, and children have been in witness protection, and the marshals like to brag that not one of them has ever been harmed.

The marshals also say the program provides 24-hour protection to all witnesses while they are in a "high-threat environment," witnesses receive financial assistance for housing and subsistence for basic living expenses and medical care, and the program provides for job training and employment assistance.
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politics lead

May 16th, 2013
07:13 PM ET

Rick Santorum preparing for 2016 run, but hasn't pulled the trigger

Former Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said he is weighing another run for president.

"I'm planning on doing everything consistent with putting yourself in a position to make a decision that is a viable decision," said Santorum, who gave Mitt Romney some trouble in the 2012 Republican primary fight.

"I haven't pulled any triggers yet, but certainly we're out there," he said.
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pop lead

May 16th, 2013
07:09 PM ET

Behind the scenes of 'Scandal' with creator Shonda Rhimes

Election rigging, waterboarding, backstabbing, and bed-hopping

Also known as another day at the office for the characters on the hit TV show "Scandal," which stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope, the head of a D.C. crisis management firm.

In just two seasons, "Scandal" has gained a loyal following of fans. Last Thursday's episode, which featured Pope and the President of the United States renewing their forbidden love affair, reeled in 8.9 million viewers.

If fans are wondering who to thank for their insatiable appetite for all things Olivia, look no further than executive producer Shonda Rhimes, the creative force behind ABC's smash hit.

"Scandal" is based on legendary Washington, D.C. crisis management expert Judy Smith, who handled the then-President Bill Clinton's scandal with Monica Lewinsky.

"What was fascinating to me wasn't just who [Judy Smith] had handled, but when she talked about a process, and why she does what she does, and how she handles these problems, there's something about it that sucks you in," said Rhimes.
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politics lead

May 16th, 2013
06:46 PM ET

Former Obama deputy press secretary fields Jon Stewart’s criticism

If an embattled President Barack Obama was looking for scandal shelter from left-leaning comedian Jon Stewart, the “Daily Show” has provided little this week.

“Every critic suddenly has credibility, every single one,” Stewart said Wednesday night after one of the show’s trademark montages, this one of Republicans hammering Obama over the IRS, Benghazi and phone tracking headlines.

The best Stewart could chastise Republicans: “The Obama administration transgressions don’t wipe away yours, which are many (and) grievous.”

Bill Burton, a former White House deputy press secretary under Obama, laughed off the harshest criticisms.

“I guess president Obama is done. He ought to submit his resignation right now,” Burton said Thursday on CNN’s “The Lead.”
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national lead

May 16th, 2013
06:39 PM ET

Former DHS official: There are big terrorists, and small-fish terrorists

Two individuals identified as "known or suspected terrorists" entered the Justice Department's Witness Protection Program and then the U.S. Marshals lost track of them, according to the public summary of an interim Justice Department inspector general’s report obtained by CNN.

The Marshals Service concluded that “one individual was and the other individual was believed to be residing outside of the United States,” according to the summary.

A Justice Department official said in response to follow up questions about the matter by reporters that the pair had left the program years ago and had been accounted for.

It was not clear when or for how long the Marshals Service lost track of them.

The very fact that there are known terrorists in witness protection may be concerning to some Americans.

"There are big terrorists, and what you may call sort of small-fish terrorists," said Juliette Kayyem, a former Department of Homeland Security official and a CNN analyst.
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