Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.
We've moved! Come join us at our new show page.
(CNN) – Pope Benedict broke his silence to call a recent rumor about him "absurd," after allegations surfaced in an Italian paper that Benedict had been forced to quit.
The pope emeritus denied it in a letter to the website Vatican Insider, writing: "The only condition for the validity of my resignation is the complete freedom of my decision. Speculation regarding its validity is simply absurd."
Reverend James Martin, editor at large of America Magazine, and author of the forthcoming book, "Jesus: A Pilgrimage," joins CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper" to discuss.
(CNN) – Russia ordered surprise military exercises on Ukraine's doorstep Wednesday as tensions in that country's southern Crimea region simmered.
A big fear of the U.S., the European Union, and NATO is that Russia may send troops in.
"We urge outside actors in the region to respect Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity and end provocative rhetoric," the White House said in a statement today.
"They're trying to be fair. They're saying we're talking to Russia, we're talking to anybody else, but They're really talking to Russia. It's diplomatic happy talk," former Pentagon official Peter Brookes told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."
(CNN) – When celebrities come to Washington, media and politicians take notice.
But does the spectacle of the star outshine, or shed light on the cause they've come to promote?
"Often hearings in Congress are not about members of Congress learning something that they don't already know. It's performance art. If they wanted to really learn about issues, they could get it from a briefing book," said The Washington Post's Emily Heil.
Oscar winner Ben Affleck arrived in Washington Wednesday to speak about the crisis in the Congo. The "Argo" director has brought his cause to the table time and time again.
"It's just a pleasure to be back at the real State Department. I had to fake it for "Argo." I get to see the real thing here," Affleck joked with Secretary of State John Kerry.
(CNN) – Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is trying once more to pass a bill that would take prosecution of sexual assault in the military out of the chain of command, a divisive measure that has opponents and supporters on both sides of the aisle.
Gillibrand's bill was blocked Monday, but survivors of military rape and sexual assault were on Capitol Hill today to support the effort, and to testify at a hearing chaired by the subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
(CNN) – The possible consequences of a complete U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan are theoretical at the moment, but they are not theoretical for those Americans who served in Iraq, especially those Marines who fought in Fallujah and Ramadi – Iraqi towns where much American blood and treasure was spent, and which extremists recaptured in recent months
Captain Perfecto Sanchez from Queens, New York, served two tours in Iraq, and fought in the 2006 battle for Ramadi, which TIME magazine then called "the most dangerous place" in Iraq. More than 80 U.S. service members were killed
"It was a very important time in the Iraqi War. It was a very dangerous city," Sanchez told CNN's "The Lead with Jake Tapper."