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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

The trend of aviation troubles, with a plane missing in Africa today, and a crash in Taiwan yesterday.

The trend of aviation troubles, with a plane missing in Africa today, and a crash in Taiwan yesterday.

politics lead

September 4th, 2013
06:40 PM ET

Whose red line is it anyway?

President Barack Obama argued Wednesday that any red line he drew against chemical weapons use in Syria was based on international norms, saying: "I didn't set a red line. The world set a red line."

One year ago, in Agusut 2012, Obama said, "A red line for us is we start seeing a whole bunch of chemical weapons moving around or being utilized ... That would change my calculus."

"What he's trying to do is depersonalize this. He's come under a lot of criticism. People are saying it's your red line, you set it, now we have to take military strikes so you don't lose your credibility," said CNN's chief political analyst Gloria Borger.
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world lead

September 4th, 2013
06:27 PM ET

Is Russia providing chemical weapons to Syria?

Russian President Vladimr Putin said in an interview with the Associated Press and Russian state television that Russia does not exclude the option of a United Nations-backed resolution on military strikes on Syria.

But, "it ought to be convincing. It shouldn't be based on some rumors and information obtained by intelligence agencies through some kind of eavesdropping, some conversations, and things like that," Putin said.

Secretary of State John Kerry seemed optimistic about the remarks.

"I would interpret his comments today as hopeful, perhaps at the G-20 he and the president can have a good conversation, and maybe a road forward with Russia where they would consider not blocking action," Kerry said Wednesday.

Putin also said he felt sorry that the president canceled their one-on-one meeting, saying, "We work, we argue about some issues. We are human. Sometimes one of us gets vexed."

It sounds like a couple going through marriage counseling.

But is he extending a hand or being his Cheshire Cat self?

"I think it's the latter," said Julia Ioffe, senior editor of The New Republic. "As one good friend said, Putin doesn't ever exclude anything ... but I doubt he's going to allow Russia to vote yes on intervention in Syria."
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politics lead

September 4th, 2013
06:13 PM ET

Democratic congressman: 'I don’t think anybody knows” if House can pass Syria authorization

Three top Obama officials made another round Wednesday in their campaign to sway Congress to support the president's proposal for limited military strikes in Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey appeared before the House Foreign Affairs Committee today.

The hearing showcased plenty of skepticism from both sides of the aisle.

Asked if a war resolution can get through this House, Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen told CNN's Jake Tapper, "I don't think anybody knows right now."
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national lead

September 4th, 2013
04:00 PM ET

Happening now: House members take on Obama officials

(CNN) – Three top Obama officials begin another round Wednesday in their campaign to sway Congress to support the president's proposal for limited military strikes in Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey return to the Hill, this time to be grilled by the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

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world lead

September 4th, 2013
12:00 PM ET

Analysis: The role of Israel and the Middle East in the U.S. debate on Syria

The United Kingdom has voted against participating in a military strike against Syria. Indeed, few U.S. allies are coming to the fore, except maybe France and Turkey.

"It's one of these instances where you wonder if the U.S. should start to look for a different set of allies in this case. For example, maybe Saudi Arabia, who has enormous interest in this instance, and the capacity truly to be of assistance," said CNN's chief domestic affairs correspondent Jessica Yellin.

"Maybe part of the reason the president is taking this to the American people is to say there are other countries whispering in our ears to say they need our help about this," said Yellin.

"It's a normal reaction to say, 'Hey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, you think this is a terrible problem? You have these big air forces, we know you have them, because we sold them to you. You go deal with this,'" said Jeffrey Goldberg, columnist with Bloomberg View.

Such reaction illustrates "the general fatigue that Americans have with dealing with the complexities of the unraveling Middle East," said Goldberg.
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