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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

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national lead

June 26th, 2013
06:12 PM ET

Credibility of key witness against Zimmerman in question

Rachel Jeantel is a key witness in the murder trial of George Zimmerman – her phone conversation with Trayvon Martin was one of his last before he was shot to death last year.

But will the jury believe her testimony, which began Wednesday and will continue Thursday but is overshadowed by prosecutors’ assertions that she has lied under oath?

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world lead

June 3rd, 2013
06:16 PM ET

Why do Turkish protests matter when we're half a world away?

At one point, it was a zoning controversy - locals who didn’t want to see their city park razed to build a shopping mall.

Now it’s grown into the latest flare-up in the Middle East and devolved into violent clashes across the country between protesters – throwing rocks at the police – and the police, who turned tear gas and water cannons on the protesters.

But, says Richard Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations, “if it wasn’t caused by this plan to bulldoze this park and build a shopping mall, it would have been caused by something else.”

“What you have is essentially a large group of Turks who feel alienated by this government that’s been in power for 10 years,” he said Monday on CNN’s “The Lead with Jake Tapper.”


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 15th, 2013
06:56 PM ET

Troops fear retaliation when reporting sexual assaults

The latest news of sexual assault out of the military packs an extra dose of outrage: the unnamed soldier the Army says stands accused of "pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates" was supposed to be dealing with the problem.

It was the second such report this month, following an Air Force lieutenant colonel’s arrest for an assault in a Virginia parking lot located near the Pentagon.

“This is nothing new and that’s what makes it even that much more urgent that we have to do something now,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Wednesday on “The Lead,” calling for accountability and transparency in the way the military handles these cases.

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national lead

April 30th, 2013
06:26 PM ET

Bombing suspect's legal team includes a 'miracle worker'

When Dzhokar Tsarnaev has his day in court, he will be defended by some of the best lawyers in the business. Only two weeks after he allegedly planted the Boston bombs that took three lives, and severely wounded so many others, the court has appointed a defense team with client rosters that read like a worst-of-the-worst list.

Miriam Conrad is one of the country's most well-respected public defenders. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Conrad has defended notorious clients for more than two decades. This is not even Conrad's first terrorism case, she assisted in the defense of Richard Reid, the so-called shoe bomber, who tried to blow up a passenger plane in 2001 with explosives packed in his sneakers. Reid was sentenced to life in prison.

Conrad recently defended a Muslim-American radicalized by online videos who plotted to fly remote-controlled model airplanes packed with explosives into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 17 years in prison.

"Miriam is really committed to the cases that have no chance of winning, just as committed as she is to the cases that she could possibly win. She's really hard working, and cares a whole lot about her clients, and is really a determined, tenacious lawyer," said Tamar Birckhead, of the University of North Carolina School of Law. Birckhead helped defend Richard Reid, working with Conrad in Boston's Federal Public Defender Office.

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