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

How many terrorists have actually been taken out in the latest round of airstrikes?

How many terrorists have actually been taken out in the latest round of airstrikes?

national lead

July 1st, 2013
05:31 PM ET

No escape for 19 Arizona firefighters

Nineteen firefighters were killed Sunday while fighting the Yarnell Hill fire, northwest of Phoenix. They were part of an elite squad confronting wildfires on the front line, setting up barriers to stop the spreading destruction. But in their unpredictable world, it doesn't take much to turn a situation deadly.

When they realized there was no escape, the firefighters literally dug in and used their fire shelters – known as "shake and bake" tents – to shield them from the flames. The protective foil coverings, just big enough to cover one firefighter, are the absolute last resort.

CNN's Tom Foreman has a look at where these firefighters were, and the elements they were up against. Check out his report in the video above.

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national lead

July 1st, 2013
05:14 PM ET

Analysts: Witness may hurt prosecution in George Zimmerman trial

On Monday, for the first time, jurors in the George Zimmerman trial heard from the former neighborhood watch captain about the events that led to Trayvon Martin's death on February 26, 2012.

Audio tape of Zimmerman’s retelling of the confrontation between himself and Martin could bolster the defense’s key contention: that Zimmerman reacted in self-defense.

"I was still yelling for help and I could see people looking and some guy yells out, 'I'm calling 911.' And I said, 'Help me, help me, he's killing me,'" Zimmerman said during his first police interview the night of the shooting. "And he puts his hand on my nose and on my mouth and he says, 'You're going to die tonight.'"

The FBI voice analyst who testified Monday morning said he could not determine who was yelling from the 911 call that had screaming in the background. It appears an odd move by the prosecution to allow the jury to hear Zimmerman claim - in the audio recording - that he was yelling.

"The prosecution feels that if it introduces this, it has control over it," said investigative journalist Diane Diamond. But the reality is "no matter what the prosecution brings up, the defense is able to say, 'Hey yea, but wait a minute, our guy says it was him that was calling for help.' And there's nobody left to dispute it."

"What I find bizarre is why they called this audio expert in the morning to say that he couldn't tell whose voice it was," said CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
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national lead

July 1st, 2013
02:56 PM ET

Mark Kelly, Gabby Giffords weigh tough tactics on gun control

Mark Kelly and his wife, former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, couldn’t get Congress to act on their appeal for stricter gun control. So now, they are taking their case on the road and contemplating hard-ball politics to get their way.

Giffords was shot in the head two years ago during a political event at an Arizona supermarket and continues to recover.

"Gabby’s doing great. She continues to improve. She’s got a great attitude. She’s working really hard and she’s doing really well," Kelly said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”

Well enough apparently to travel and press for new gun control laws with the couple's advocacy group, Americans for Responsible Solutions.

Their push this time also includes the possibility of some bare-knuckles political tactics regarding Democrats who did not sign on to an ill-fated bipartisan Senate amendment to expand background checks this past spring.

Kelly said their group is considering supporting candidates in primaries to defeat Democrats who did not support the bill.
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world lead

July 1st, 2013
12:39 PM ET

Cousin of Bashar al-Assad: Syrian president has to go

Ribal al-Assad has been exiled from Syria since he was a child. But he closely monitors events in his home country and is deeply disappointed with his cousin, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who he believes will relinquish power.

"I’m against of course, everything that he has done," Ribal al-Assad, founder of Organization for Democracy and Freedom in Syria, said on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.” "We were with a peaceful uprising, we've now been working for democracy and freedom long before the Arab Spring. And I think that this shouldn't have gone the way it has gone today."

The political outcome of the Syrian civil war will end with his cousin leaving office, Ribal al-Assad said.

"He has to go. It’s very important to know that Bashar al-Assad, sooner or later, will have to go. But we have to see what is the best way, and the most peaceful way to make him go," said Ribal al-Assad.

Yet there appears to be little incentive for the president to step down.
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politics lead

July 1st, 2013
07:42 AM ET

Analysis: 'Political Gut Check' on student loan rates, and the Voting Rights Act

Members of Congress have taken off on their week-long Fourth of July recess, but they have left quite a lot of unfinished business behind on Capitol Hill, including student loan rates that are set to do double Monday.

This is typical Washington, D.C. dysfunction at its best - everybody knew this date was coming, and yet a compromise was not achievable.

On the bright side, congressional sources tell CNN that there is some optimism that student loan rates will be taken care of either next week, or the week after, and that the lower rates will be retroactive. Ultimately, students will not have to pay the higher rate.

There is an impasse on whether or not the rate should be kept at 3.4%, or should be tied to the economy. There is a also lot of disagreement between Democrats on Republicans on the question of if rates are tied to the market, whether or not they should be capped, so they never go above, say, 8%.
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