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The Lead with Jake Tapper
CDC Director Admits Isolation Changes Partially Driven By What Americans "Would Be Able To Tolerate"; Jury Reaches Verdict In Ghislaine Maxwell Sex Trafficking Trial; Jury Finds Ghislaine Maxwell Guilty Of Five Of Six Counts; Ghislaine Maxwell Found Guilty Of Most- Serious Charge Of Sex Trafficking A Minor For Epstein; Fauci Recommends Canceling Large-Scale New Year's Eve Parties; CDC Forecast Predicts 44,000 COVID Deaths In Next 4 Weeks; Biden To Speak With Putin Tomorrow At Russian Leader's Request; "Carole King & James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name" Premieres Sunday At 9:00 PM ET. Aired 5-6pm ET
Aired December 29, 2021 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Today, the White House announced it had deployed federal teams across the country from New York to Wisconsin to Arizona to New Mexico. These paramedics and military health experts are working in overwhelmed hospitals. They're administering vaccines, they're delivering ventilators, they're setting up new testing sites.
We know cases are growing much faster than hospitalizations or deaths, at least as of now. But health officials worried that those other numbers, those latter numbers will also keep climbing. Just in the last week, the number of people hospitalized with COVID is up 21 percent. And the average number of people dying per day from COVID, just over 1500 a day. Almost all of them not fully vaccinated. Well, that number is 18 percent Higher.
CNN's Alexandra Field starts us off today with the growing concerns about this new surge.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
DR. ROCHELLE WALENSKY, CDC DIRECTOR: This was the moment that we needed to make that decision.
ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Facing the biggest COVID search we've ever seen, the CDC director defending the decision to cut isolation time in half for asymptomatic infected people.
WALENSKY: It really had a lot to do with what we thought people would be able to tolerate. If we can get them to isolate, we do want to make sure that they're isolating in those first five days when they're maximally infectious.
FIELD (voice-over): The CDC arguing 85 percent to 90 percent of transmission occurs in the first five days of symptom onset. Still, the new guidance is drawing fierce debate among health experts. ERIN BROMAGE, ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY, UNIVERSITY OF MASSACHUSETTS DARTMOUTH: There is absolutely no data that I'm aware about with the Omicron variant, it supports people coming out of isolation five days after they were first diagnosed with virus.
DR. ANTHONY FAUCI, DIRECTOR, NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF ALLERGY AND INFECTIOUS DISEASES: The purpose of it was is that given the wave the extraordinary unprecedented wave of infections that we are experiencing now and we'll certainly experience more of in the next few weeks, that there is the danger that there will be so many people who are being isolated who are asymptomatic for the full 10 days. That you could have a major negative impact on our ability to keep society running.
FIELD (voice-over): New cases are skyrocketing to numbers never seen before but deaths and hospitalizations, key indicators at this moment are not climbing as quickly.
DR. CHRIS T. PERNELL, AMERICAN COLLEGE OF PREVENTIVE MEDICINE FELLOW: Are we seeing lower hospitalization rates because Omicron is less virulent? Or are always seeing lower hospitalization rates because we do have a considerable amount of the population that is vaccinated?
FIELD (voice-over): Booster shots for younger teens may now be just weeks away, says the CDC. While younger children remain the least vaccinated age group in the country.
DR. PETER HOTEZ, DEAN OF TROPICAL MEDICINE, BAYLOR COLLEGE OF MEDICINE: You've got a screaming level of transmission in the Northeast in New York City in Washington D.C. Trying to open schools at this point, It's hard to imagine how things will go well.
FIELD (voice-over): Despite the surge, New York City schools, the largest district in the nation says they will continue with in person learning on January 3 following the winter break with plans to rely heavily on testing. Long lines for tests are still sneaking through much of the country.
And while the Biden administration touts the January arrival of half a billion more at home tests, the FDA is raising questions about just how well they detect Omicron cases.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
FIELD: Even so, Jake, more and more schools are depending on tests in order to bring kids safely back to the classroom. D.C. schools announcing today that they will now require a negative COVID test for both students and staff in order to return after the holiday break. Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Alexandra Field, thanks so much for that reporting.
Let's bring in Rick Bright, he's an immunologist, former member of President Biden's COVID Advisory Board and CEO of the Rockefeller Foundation's Pandemic Prevention Institute. Rick, good to see you again. When you lead the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which is an arm of HHS, Health and Human Services, you resigned in protest of the Trump administration's handling of the pandemic, mishandling of the pandemic. How do you think the Biden administration is handling the pandemic so far?
RICK BRIGHT, FORMER DIRECTOR, BIOMEDICAL ADVANCED RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: Jake, thanks for having me back on.
You know, it's really hard to get in front of a pandemic, it's moving really, really quickly. And this virus is moving faster and continually changing its game. It's really important for us to make sure that the Biden administration does everything possible to stay in front of this virus.
I've seen a lot of efforts made by the Biden administration, and frankly, a lot more effort probably than we saw with the Trump administration. But there are so many opportunities that I believe that Biden administration can take on and do more, and do it faster and clarify the language that I think would do and be much more effective at stopping this pandemic. We need to be much clearer with our messaging, Jake.
TAPPER: Well, in addition to messaging, which I, you know, I agree, it's been confusing at times, what are some of the areas where there needs to be improvement? One that, you know, just seems obvious to me is testing.
I cannot believe that we're in December 2022 and testing isn't prevalent and free everywhere in the country. I mean that's how you go back to normal. That's how you have workplaces open. That's how you have schools open. And we're not there yet, and I don't even understand it.
BRIGHT: Jake, in my opinion, it's absolutely inexcusable. There is no good excuse for not having the test that we need in America to get in front of this virus.
I mean, when I look at the lines outside the testing centers today, it does remind me back of March of 2020. With all due respect to President Biden, there are many factors that we can look around and ask, you know, have we made progress in where are we going? There are more tools but they're not available.
The test supplies were not ramped up. The support in the in the testing centers was not ramped up. Americans are waiting too long. I described it as the Hunger Games, and I really mean it.
Personally, I've been traveling during the holiday and I've had to just rush in store after store, after store to try to find the test. Exposing myself to people who might be infected with this virus is not where we should be going into year three of this pandemic. And that Biden administration can do a lot more. TAPPER: One area where I think we can agree, there has been progress made are the vaccines, the presence of the vaccines first developed under Operation Warp Speed and independently as well during the Trump years and now distributed well by the Biden team. Do you think that at this point, the Biden administration should change officially the definition of fully vaccinated to include boosters both for the J&J shot, making it two shots, or Moderna and Pfizer making it three.
Given the surge in cases in so many institutions from companies such as Goldman Sachs to universities throughout the country, they're requiring people be fully vaccinated, but whereas of right now, that just means two shots for Moderna and Pfizer and one for J&J. Should it be all of the shots including the booster?
BRIGHT: But the data clearly show, Jake, that if you have an additional shot of the vaccine, either an additional one for two doses for Johnson and Johnson or that third dose for the mRNA, Pfizer or Moderna based vaccine, then you do fare better, you are better protected against the Delta virus, which again, is still predominant in many parts of our country. And you'll also feel better against the Omicron variant of the virus.
Now remember, the antibody response that might protect you from getting infected might still wane from these -- from the current vaccine. However, we are seeing that you have that third dose of mRNA- based vaccine or second of Johnson and Johnson and you do get infected, then you are less likely to go to the hospital and you are less likely to die. So, with that amount of data, I do think that it is time for the administration to consider calling a fully vaccinated regimen, that three dose regimen for mRNA and two does for J&J.
Jake, on top of that, though, I would encourage the administration to consider changing the formulation of this vaccine. We're still using the vaccine that was created against the original strain of SARS COVID 2 that came out of Wuhan, China. And this virus has changed its game three times or more in that period. It's time that we up our game as well and make a better formulation that matches the virus that's circulating or that next variant can completely evade our immunity.
TAPPER: One of the things that I've talked about with Oliver Darcy, who is a media reporter here, is about the persuasion campaign for people who are skeptical or reluctant to get vaccinated because we need them to be vaccinated, better for them, better for their family members and colleagues and better for the whole country. I am surprised and I said this to Dr. Fauci in the previous hour, that it isn't just automatic that if a conservative person goes online on the Fox or whatever, there isn't like an automatic pop up ad of Donald Trump talking about how he got boosted and how the vaccines are great. I asked Fauci about it, he said this was a comms issue. Can you explain why, in your view, there isn't this kind of really powerful, aggressive persuasion campaign, using people that the individuals that we need to target will find credible?
BRIGHT: We definitely need to do something different, Jake. I think that we have probably reached all the people who are going to reach who want to get vaccinated by our current methodology. And methodology has not changed much over the last year or maybe even two years. We need to change the message and the messengers to reach more people who are hesitant, reluctant or just unreached at this point.
I actually said I applaud the former President Donald Trump for the positive statements he made about the safety and effectiveness of this vaccine. He encouraged the people who followed him to get vaccinated. We all see and know, if we know anything about Donald Trump, is he will do whatever it takes to protect himself. And if it's not safe, and it's not effective, he's not going to do it.
I would say if you follow Donald Trump, follow his lead and get vaccinated. And for the rest of the country, again, this administration should diversify their messengers. I don't see a lot of America --
BRIGHT: -- represented on that White House Task Force. I would change the messengers and the message.
TAPPER: All right, Rick Bright, thank you so much.
We have some breaking news for you now. A jury has reached a verdict in the sex trafficking trial of Ghislaine Maxwell, that's the former girlfriend and close associate of the wealthy convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.
CNN's Sonia Moghe joins me now live from outside the court.
And Sonia, what exactly are the charges and potential punishments in the case? I understand the verdict has not been read yet.
SONIA MOGHE, CNN REPORTER: Yes, we're still waiting to hear from our colleagues inside of court. The jury is in, Ghislaine Maxwell was brought in, she's facing six counts right now that include -- charges including sex trafficking of a minor. She could face up to 70 years in prison if convicted on all of these counts.
And, you know, this is the moment we've been waiting for 40 hours, almost 40 hours, just around 5:00. But this jury sent a note just before five saying that they had reached a verdict. It was, I believe, the 17th note by my count.
And you know, these notes have been the window, the only really clear window we had into what these jurors were doing behind closed doors, Jake. It's a very secretive process. And they have asked for multiple transcripts, more than a dozen that nearly a third of the testimony that they heard in trial
So, really, we know that these jurors took this job seriously, that they were going through the testimony with a fine-tooth comb, it seems. And that they had many questions that it seems that they've worked through since they've come up with a verdict together.
TAPPER: All right, let's discuss with our legal expert, Jennifer Rodgers.
And my understanding is that Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty on five of the six charges, Jennifer Rodgers, where the information is just coming in right now. What is your reaction to the news and to the charges she faces?
JENNIFER RODGERS, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, Jake, you know, it's hard to be surprised one way or the other. This jury was working hard. They listened carefully. They went through the evidence very, very carefully. They obviously were trying to convince one another to get to a verdict o all six of the counts.
So, you know, I'm not surprised that there is a conviction here. The evidence was, you know, I wouldn't say it was overwhelming. Obviously, this case was more about Jeffrey Epstein in some ways in terms of the primary abuser. But they did have evidence putting Ghislaine Maxwell there during critical moments, including during abuse. So, I'm not surprised that she was found guilty of those counts.
I'm curious to know which one they didn't find her guilty of, so that that might tell us something about the way that they approached this and how those deliberations went. But you know, a good day for justice.
TAPPER: Joey Jackson, let me go to you as well. What -- assuming that some of the initial reports we're getting that she has been found guilty on five of six counts, what are the potential punishments for that?
JOEY JACKSON, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: The other potential punishments are significant. There's one count, in fact, that carries a 40-year sentence.
Let me just say this, though, when you look at sentencing in this regard, you have to really fact in what are called the federal sentencing guidelines. What am I saying in English? You look at a statute with respect to what it is in terms of a conviction for transporting minors, for enticing minors, for conspiracy. And there's a statutory really maximum, whether that be 40 years or 20 years. But oftentimes, Jake, that bears no relation to reality.
What you do in the federal system is you look at somebody's past, you look at to the extent of have they been convicted previously? Do they have a clean record? In the event that they didn't, what does the instant offense say? What does that background say, et cetera.
And so there are these federal sentencing guidelines. And what you do is you calculate that sentence with respect to your past history, the conduct that you engage in now, et cetera, to come out with a sentence. But notwithstanding all of that, I will say that these are significant charges carrying decades in jail. And no matter what the sentencing guidelines are, to the extent that you have, right, be serious charges, you have several years that you're facing.
Final thing, Jake, and that's this. I mean, there was certainly a struggle in this jury as we saw from the notes about whether they should credit the testimony of these then girls now women. We saw that with regard to them asking for the transcript. We saw that with regard to them asking for other transcripts in terms of who their boyfriends were at the time, if there was any corroboration. Today, they asked for a note as it related to what defense witness who wanted to see, right.
The defense witness talked about false memories, they reviewed that. They reviewed the pilots testimony who did this transporting. They reviewed the housekeeper's testimony. So, what I'm saying at the end of the day with this over 30 hours of deliberation, this is a jury that's did its job.
TAPPER: Well, yes, let's talk about that. Because Jennifer, the jury, as Joey notes, deliberated for six days. They sent more than a dozen notes to the judge. Is -- In the scheme of things, is that a long time is that a short time? Put this into context for us. And also, more than a dozen notes to the judge, I'm far from an attorney, but that that does seem like a lot.
RODGERS: It is a logic, that's a lot of requests for a lot of testimony. I think it took a little bit longer than I might anticipate given the length of the trial. But what it says to me is that the jury, at least initially was not on the same page. There clearly was one or more jurors who were not in the same place as the rest of the jurors. And so, they spent this time trying to convince one another.
And that's how you do it. You ask for the testimony of a particular witness to say, remember, she said this, and they said, oh, but the other guy said that and so. And so they get his testimony too. And they're going back and forth to see if as a group of 12 has to be unanimous they can reach agreement.
And so that is what they managed to do after this amount of time. So, good for them. You know, they never came out and said they were stuck, they worked hard, that's what we asked of our jurors, and they did what they were supposed to do.
TAPPER: And Joey, "The Wall Street Journal" is now reporting that Ghislaine Maxwell has been found guilty of some counts in the sex trafficking case. And specifically, just to put this in English for our viewers, Joey, Epstein is accused, he's dead now, allegedly committed suicide in prison, Epstein was accused of sexually trafficking underage girls, young girls, and she is accused of helping him do so, is that right?
JACKSON: Yes, that's absolutely right. So, with respect to the complexities of this, making it rather simple, in the event that you aid, you are bad (ph), you facilitate, you encourage, you enable, you do any of those things, which make it possible for a predator to engage in that predatory conduct and the law finds you responsible as well. And that's what this case was about.
It was about indeed, Epstein, initially, as you noted, Jake. 2019, he dies in jail, a year later, she gets indicted on these six charges, three of which are conspiracy charges. Well, what does that mean? In addition to what I explained before, with respect to you enabling, enticing, otherwise luring and assisting and facilitating conduct. If you agree with one other person, right, to engage in criminality, that's conspiracy. And there are three conspiracy counts.
We're just getting the news reports as it relates to what exactly she was convicted of, but that's what happens with our legal system. You not only need to be the one who's doing the conduct, if you're the one that otherwise contribute to the conduct, you're liable too. And so, we'll go over and we'll see specifically what the jury concluded. But that's what she was on trial for helping Mr. Epstein get his prey. And there were four specific girls who testified, then they were girls, Jake, to be clear --
JACKSON: -- now they were women, and they had a lot of corroboration as noted, the pilot testifying, et cetera, the housekeeper testifying --
TAPPER: Joey, hold that thought. I want to come right back to you. But Sonia has some actual reporting from inside the courtroom as to what exactly Ghislaine Maxwell has been convicted of.
MOGHE: Yes, that's right, Jake. The jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five of the six counts that she faced, including the counts of sex trafficking of a minor. Now, one of the charges that -- one of the counts that -- the soul count that she was not found guilty of, count two, involves a woman who testified under a pseudonym as Jane (ph). This count, count two was enticement of an individual under the age of 17, Jane, to travel with the intent to engage in illegal sexual activity.
And you know, we heard from these jurors' multiple times, they requested Jane's testimony. They requested testimony, transcripts from two of Epstein's former pilots. So, it's clear just from their notes alone, that they had been questioning this and, you know, possibly having discussions at length about this particular account. But there you have it, Jake, guilty -- found guilty on five of those six counts that she faced.
TAPPER: All right, thank you, Sonia.
Let's go back to Joey and Jennifer.
And Joey Jackson, let me bring you back. So, there were six counts and apparently the -- she was found guilty of five of them. The one that she was not found guilty of related to one having to do with Jane and that had to do with enticing a manor, a minor rather, to travel and transport a minor. Two charges had to do with Jane between '94 and 1997.
So, now that we know the exact details of it, put it in perspective, it sounds like the jury almost, you know, for the most part believed the four former girls, now women, accusing Ghislaine Maxwell and accusing Jeffrey Epstein of these heinous horrible crimes.
JACKSON: Yes, that's exactly what it sounds like. You know, whenever you have a trial, Jake, you have these narratives. And the narrative hear was that she was an enabler, that she was a facilitator, that Mr. Epstein was engaged in this misconduct and that she would otherwise condition and groom and lure these women so that he could ultimately or, excuse me, now women then girls, so that he can ultimately engage in misconduct that he did.
And with respect to reviewing those narratives, just to be clear, to the extent that they were a couple of decades ago, meaning when this occurred, the jury had to really evaluate what they said that is those witnesses, they asked for the transcripts, and not only heard them in court, they looked at the transcripts, they looked at what they've told other people, meaning they call the boyfriends to testify, but at least two of those, then girls now women, they looked at the pilot, the housekeeper, other people who had relevant evidence and information, and they were really struggling, because I'll sum up here. But the defense's real theory was, look, this is a case about mistaken memories and motivations, which are predicated upon all this money that you guys are getting. And of course, your memory is going to be such that she was an enabler because you're getting money for. Apparently, the jury rejected that resoundingly, right, and has concluded that she indeed was assisting Mr. Maxwell in this regard. And as a result, she's guilty of those five of six counts, and she faces several years in jail as a result.
TAPPER: Let's go back to Sonia, who has a note from the U.S. attorney who prosecuted this case.
MOGHE: Yes, this is from a U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Damian Williams. He sent a statement about the jury finding this verdict today. And he says, quote, "The road to justice has been far too long, but today justice has been done." He says, "I want to commend the bravery of the girls, now grown women, who stepped out of the shadows and into the courtroom, their courage and willingness to face their abuser made this case and today's results possible."
And you know, this is something that we see so often, Jake, in these cases where women and girls have to come testify in front of someone who they've accused of abusing them. It is incredibly difficult to do. It is a long road to get to that point to be able to do that. And it's a long road of recovery after.
So, obviously the U.S. attorney here thanking those women, thanking all of the prosecutors who worked on this case after that verdict came down.
TAPPER: All right, Sonia. Let me just go back to Jennifer Rodgers.
And Jennifer, something I asked Joey maybe a couple of weeks ago, which is Jeffrey Epstein is accused of these heinous crimes, transporting and sexually abusing, raping dozens of women, not just these four who testified, but dozens. And Ghislaine Maxwell, obviously will be found -- will go to jail, it appears, has just been found guilty of five and six charges owing to her role in this heinous evil.
But something I asked Joey was, well, where are all the other men that participated in this disgusting criminal activity? How come we haven't had Jeffrey Epstein's, you know, little black book opened? Where are all the other people? Now Joey said, and Joey, I'm going to let you talk about this too. Joey said that the prosecutors were wisely focusing on Ghislaine Maxwell so as to get a conviction, they didn't want to distract with other people.
But A, do you agree with that? And B, is it now time for the U.S. attorney to go after the men who cooperate -- who participated in this evil?
RODGERS: So there are a few things there, Jake. I do think that they wanted to keep it tight, and not get too overwhelmed in the weeds of many different people, at least in the initial stages. And so, if they can go after more perpetrators, I think they will.
But you have to remember, we're in federal court, we're not in state court, so you can't charge people with sexual abuse. You know, the statute of limitations for that as long gone anyway. But federal crimes are different. To have federal jurisdiction, it can't just be sexual abuse, it has to be this trafficking, enticing across state lines, traveling across state lines.
These are the crimes that have the interstate Nexus that allow prosecutors to charge them in federal court. So think about whether there are other men who not just abused these girls, but actually were involved in the transportation, in the enticement, in the trafficking. That's what it would have to be in order for the U.S. attorney to be involved. And so I think that's one of the reasons. If we don't see follow on investigations and charges, that's going to be one of the reasons why.
TAPPER: So Joey, does that mean that state prosecutors in any of the places where these heinous activities took place, whether Florida or New York, or the Virgin Islands or wherever can now work with federal prosecutors and, I don't know, get Ghislaine Maxwell a better cell or time off for good behavior, et cetera, if she flips, if she participates and starts naming names?
JACKSON: So, Jake, I'll say something that's not unique, right, where there's a will, there's a way, and so I'm not ready yet to pivot from the federal prosecutions. We know that Mr. Epstein, right, had pilots that work for him, we know that there were a number of people who traveled extensively with him.
And so, before we can see that there is no federal viable prosecution, those matters would have to be investigated. Who was on the plane? When were they on the plane? Who else was with them on the plane? What was their intention and purpose? Where would they go? And who would they with? And so, all that's going to have to be looked at to Jennifer Rodgers very good point with respect to how you get federal jurisdiction. Pivoting then from that issue to particular states, yes, this is a dual type of, you know, we have a dual system you are -- you can be held accountable to federal crimes and state crime.
So the nature of the specific conduct would have to be identify. To particular state with which it occurred would have to be identified. When it occurred would have to be identified. And other things of evidentiary value would have to be identified to look at the statute of limitation.
But I'm not ready to say that there's nothing to see here from the federal level. I think, consistent with what I told you previously, this case was about Ms. Maxwell. Let's get our prosecution as to her. And if there are other parties to be held accountable, we will deal with them later. I would not be surprised if later is now and whether they go now and see whether there's anything they could do federally to hold them responsible and at the states where they can hold them responsible as well.
TAPPER: Jennifer, do you agree with that?
RODGERS: I do. I mean, I think if there is a further case to be made, they will make it. Although I also think that had Ghislaine Maxwell, instead of going to trial decided to flip and provide testimony and evidence that would make it a lot easier.
TAPPER: For what, I mean, what one would assume that that was the one of the reasons why they were going after her or maybe not, I don't know. I mean, I think my view of all of this has been really clouded by that non prosecution agreement that then U.S. attorney for Florida or for a part of Florida who was ended up being the Secretary of Labor, Alexander Acosta. Remember, he was the former Trump cabinet official who after Epstein was arrested in 2019 was criticized for his role in that non prosecution deal.
And I think my view of this is clouded by how much does the government prosecutors, et cetera. How much do they protect powerful people? They obviously went after Jeffrey Epstein and Ghislaine Maxwell here, but am I being too skeptical, too cynical, Jennifer, about the willingness of prosecutors to go after powerful men who participated in these misdeeds?
RODGERS: I think so. Although, I'll also say maybe I'm being too easy on prosecutors, I think that they go where the evidence leads. I don't think anyone at SDNY or the current DOJ is afraid of going after anyone in the world. So, I think if the evidence leads there, they would go.
There are just a lot of obstacles and no one who knows what happened talking, at least as far as we know. And a lot of time has gone by. So these possible state charges are likely gone because the statute of limitations issue. So I think there are a lot of obstacles.
I don't think they're afraid to do it. I think if they can, they will. But we'll see what happens.
TAPPER: Let's go back to Sonia outside the courthouse for a second to talk more about this breaking news this afternoon. Ghislaine Maxwell, former associate and partner of Jeffrey Epstein, found guilty on five of six charges relating to her -- enabling her participation in the late Jeffrey Epstein sexually trafficking and abusing underage girls.
Sonia, what can you tell us about the six charge that she was not found guilty of?
MOGHE: Yes, Jake, that was count two, and I'm going to read it to you again. It says, "Enticement of an individual under the age of 17, Jane only, to travel with the intent to engage in illegal sexual activity." So this was specifically focused on that woman who testified under the pseudonym Jane.
And let me tell you a little bit about her testimony. She testified that she met both Epstein and Maxwell when she was 14 years old back in 1994 at a summer camp where Epstein was a benefactor. And she said that there was sexual abuse from Epstein from the ages of 14 to 16 in Palm Beach, Florida, and really graphic details of some of the abuse there that she testified about. And she said that sometimes Maxwell would be involved, touching her and Epstein.
But you know, a lot of the testimony isn't related to that enticement charge. It's about whether or not Ghislaine Maxwell enticed her to travel with the intent to engage in these illegal sex acts. And so, that was the one count where the jury did not convict her. So clearly the jury had some questions, you know, they have to find these counts proven beyond a reasonable doubt. And it's clear that they had some doubt there.
Jane testified anonymously in part because, you know, she's trying to move on with her life. She has family and wanted to separate this abuse from her life now.
She did receive $5 million from the victim's compensation fund, which many of these victims had applied for. Recently, in the past couple of years since Epstein died, since he killed himself in that prison, that's not too far from this courthouse right now. It's actually closed down now.
So again, this is just a moment for a lot of these victims who didn't get that sense of justice back around Jeffrey Epstein's case. Many of them, I anticipate, will be, you know, speaking out about what this verdict means for them.
TAPPER: Well just to be clear, though, Sonia. So there were six charges of sex trafficking of a minor, enticing a minor to travel to engage in criminal sexual activity, transporting a minor with the intent --
TAPPER: -- to engage in criminal sexual activity, and then three counts of conspiracy. The one that she was not found guilty of was enticing, do I have that right?
MOGHE: That's correct. Count two.
TAPPER: OK. But she was still found guilty --
MOGHE: In fact, one --
TAPPER: Go ahead.
MOGHE: Yes. And, you know, one of the questions that the jurors asked actually was what the definition of enticement was. That was one of the notes they sent earlier this week. They wanted to know what it meant in the sense of, you know, in the sense of this verdict. So clearly, they weren't sold on this count fully.
TAPPER: Right. But they did think and convict -- vote to convict her, Ghislaine Maxwell, of sexual trafficking of a minor, transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity and three counts of conspiracy. I -- those are all incredibly serious charges of heinous crimes. Sex trafficking of a minor, I -- is that the most serious one?
MOGHE: That is the most serious one. And I can get you a breakdown of how much time she could spend in prison for each of these. Obviously, that will be determined at sentencing. But, you know, if all these had been found guilty, it could have been up to 70 years in prison.
She's 60 years old. She just turned 60 on Christmas day. You know, you're looking at, likely, a lot of time behind bars, probably the rest of her life behind bars.
TAPPER: Yes. Essentially life in prison in all likelihood. Sonia, we'll come right back to you.
Let's bring -- go back to our panel. Joey, so basically, assuming that they follow basic sentencing guidelines, Ghislaine Maxwell will never see the light of day again.
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, I'm not so sure of that, Jake. And I just want to indicate to you an experience I had at the Southern District, which is relevant here.
JACKSON: What happened is that after a client was convicted a few summers ago, which I spent in August at the Southern District defending someone, they were convicted of one particular count in that case. The prosecutor came to me and said, if your client doesn't want to spend any time in jail, perhaps your client could cooperate with respect to other people he knows about that we're looking about.
Now we didn't go down that route. Why do I raise it? Because it buttons up a critical question that you asked moments ago. And that is to the extent that there were other men behaving badly. What if anything happens to them now? I believe, initially, Ms. Maxwell strongly felt she was not guilty. You heard what she said when the judge said, Ms. Maxwell, would you wish to testify? She said, no. The people haven't proven their case, excuse me, the government hasn't proven their case beyond a reasonable doubt.
I think to the extent that now the realities are different, before we jump to the issue of sentencing guidelines and what they say and what they mean in practicality, I think prosecutors if they are looking to go down the route of practically holding other people accountable, will now say now that you're guilty, perhaps you can speak to us now. And to the extent that you cooperate, maybe we can work out some kind of arrangement where it's not as stiff for you in jail.
So I just want to point that out of one of many possibilities and not just get lost in the regular OK, presentence investigation, prior history. What do the guidelines say? This is what your guideline sentence is, notwithstanding the statute, and this is what you're going to do. What you asked before is a real possibility, we are not done yet.
TAPPER: Yes. And let's hope that everyone found, everyone that was guilty in the -- in these heinous crimes against underage girls is brought to account and held to account and feels the punishment of the law. Jennifer Rodgers, final thoughts?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Jake, I agree. I mean, I will say the one thing you don't want to do is cooperate down. Jeffrey Epstein is dead. Ghislaine Maxwell is probably the number two in this game. She is now facing a long time in prison.
Do you cooperate to swoop up peripheral people? That would be a big question for prosecutors if she's willing to talk. But a great day for justice I hope these victims are pleased with the outcome.
TAPPER: Jennifer Rodgers, Joey Jackson, thanks so much for your thoughts. We appreciate it. We're going to take a quick break. We've got a lot of other news to cover. We'll be right back
TAPPER: And we're back with our health lead. So many Americans thought the authorization of COVID shots and then COVID boosters would mean a normal holiday season this year. But with just two days until New Year's Eve, Dr. Anthony Fauci is emphasizing that you should cancel any plans you have for big celebrations in lieu of an -- at home gathering with only fully vaccinated and boosted family and close friends.
Here to discuss, Dr. Jonathan Reiner. He's a professor at George Washington University Medical Center. Dr. Reiner, we're nearly two years into this pandemic. And being told once again, the public celebrations are not safe. Do you agree? It does seem like there's two Americas here, and I'm talking about people who are vaccinated and boosted, people who live in places like New York or Washington, D.C. who are vaccinated and boosted, you know, shunning big celebrations, and people I know --
DR. JONATHAN REINER, PROFESSOR, GEORGE WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY MEDICAL CENTER: Right.
TAPPER: -- from other parts of the country vaccinated and boosted but maybe in like more red states, they're kind of just living their lives.
REINER: Right. And the problem is that the virus is living its life also and the virus doesn't really care what you think. This particular variant is extraordinarily contagious. And if you are in a crowd now, and certainly if you're unvaccinated, you are at great risk of contracting this virus.
So what I would say is, first of all, indoor New Year's Eve celebrations should be out. If you're going to attend a small gathering, maybe at a friend's house, then do what everybody should have done this past Christmas weekend, which is to test everyone before they go. And you can still do that if you want to get together with some friends, and pop bottle champagne, that's great. But make sure everybody is negative on their way over to your house and make sure you are negative before you host them. So that's the safe way of doing that.
You know, ask for big firework displays or, you know, outdoor parties, you know, it's probably less risky outside. But if you pack a lot of people shoulder to shoulder, that increases the risk. So -- but I think in some parts of this country, there's a lot of capitulation. And there are a lot of people that are sort of thinking that they're designed to get it and -- but that's not the attitude to have.
TAPPER: What do you say to Americans who are frustrated because they have followed all the rules, they stayed home, they wore masks, they got vaccinated, they got boosted. And now they're being told, once again, to take all these precautions, and they're just over it?
REINER: I would say I feel your pain. Every feels frustrated. But what I would also tell them is I know they are resilient. And this is temporary pain, this is not going to go on forever.
And the important issues now are to maintain, not just the health of the population, which is, obviously, our primary goal, but also to maintain the health of the people who are manning our hospitals. You know, my colleagues across this country, because if our hospital systems go down, because so many nurses and techs and docs and respiratory therapists are out with COVID, and hospitals are seeing this all over the country, then, if you come in with a non-COVID problem, you come in with a stroke or a heart attack, or a bleeding ulcer, there's going to be no one there to care for you.
So you need to protect us. And the way you can protect us is by protecting yourself. TAPPER: In less than a week, some kids are going to return to school. We know that most of the kids being admitted to the hospital are kids who are unvaccinated. We talked to a pediatrician in Chicago yesterday who said it was almost entirely unvaccinated kids.
Some of them under five they can't get a vaccine because it's not approved for them yet. How do you, as a doctor, weigh the risks of kids going to class versus what we know about how damaging virtual education was for kids in terms of academics and psychology and emotions and just general growth?
REINER: Yes. Well, I think we know how to keep schools open. And we do it by distancing kids as best as possible, keeping masks on in school, increasing the amount of ventilation in schools, and most importantly now, testing, frequent testing.
If a kid in the class comes down with COVID, everybody else tests. And if they test negative, they stay in class. If they test positive, they go home and they isolate. That's how we keep kids back in school, but we need to really flood our schools with frequent testing.
And the other piece of this is for kids who are eligible, we have to get kids vaccinated. The biggest block of unvaccinated people in this country are children.
REINER: Some of them are not yet eligible for vaccines. But for those kids over the age of five who are, their parents are doing them a great disservice by not taking them to get a shot.
TAPPER: Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thank you so much. Happy New Year to you.
Time to use the red phone. Putin wants President Biden to give him a call. Can they find a way to dial back escalating tensions? We're going to go live to Moscow. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, a critical upcoming phone call for President Biden. President Biden will speak with Vladimir Putin tomorrow, we're told. The call, we're learning, is happening at the request of the Russian leader. This comes as Moscow escalates its military buildup along its border with Ukraine.
Let's discuss with CNN National Security Commentator and former Republican Congressman and House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers. Congressman, good to see you as always. What can President Biden realistically do tomorrow during this call with Putin to deter further aggression and decrease tensions between the U.S. and Russia and deter Russia from invading Ukraine again?
MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: Yes, I mean, he doesn't have a lot of options available to him. And he took some options off the table early, which I thought was a mistake by saying there will be --we wouldn't do any unilateral military action if they ramped up and came across the border in a significant way. Even if he didn't want to do that, probably, shouldn't have taken that off the table.
So I think what he would need to do is tell them that he's going to ramp up defensive weapons, things that would cause a lot of pain and allow the Ukrainian military to actually defend itself. It's pretty weak in certain areas, air defense, anti-armor weapons, those kinds of things. If they could turn that around, that would be a calculus that Putin would have to -- he'd have to factor that in. Bodies coming across the border and I think he's going to have to ramp up what he talks about is his diplomatic efforts when it comes to sanctions.
There are some things that have some bite, but you really have to make Putin understand that there is a credible deterrent. And right now, I'd argue he's not factoring that in as a credible deterrent. He's worried about maybe the financial sanctions, and he's trying to figure out if that makes -- if that's a deterrent for him.
But right now, there doesn't seem to be that real deterrent that -- and I think he needs to step up and tell him that pretty directly tomorrow that this is going to be a very painful experience if Russia invades Ukraine.
TAPPER: So Putin in the last 20 years, I mean, a couple times he has led these escalations, interventions, invasions and seize territory first. During the Bush administration, he sees parts of Georgia, then during the Obama administration, obviously, he seized Crimea of Ukraine. Were either of those low points or is, right now, a low point since, obviously, the Cold War ended?
ROGERS: Well, unfortunately, those are instructive to Putin. So if you think about -- I mean, he -- he's still in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, in the country of Georgia, he still has that territory. And, by the way, he launched that attack with really debilitating cyberattacks, which I think we all ought to be put on note here. What he's doing now to kind of prep the battlefield in cyberspace. And that was very disruptive in Georgia, even before the troops crossed the border. So he still owns that.
I think in Crimea, there wasn't a lot of consequence there. He still owns that. So in his mind, he's factoring in those were big foreign policy successes when it comes -- came to the Russian population for their President Putin, because he was able to take back that territory. And as he would say, he liberated ethnic, speaking -- Russian speaking individuals from those countries, he's using that same rhetoric in the -- in what would be the eastern areas of Ukraine.
So he -- you can almost see what he's doing to get there. And I think this call is going to be critically important because we've already seen some of the cyber activities happening in Ukraine. They want to disrupt normal operations, command and control for the military, financial systems. So your credit cards don't work, you can't get money from the bank, you can't get gas, all that chaos plays into his hand.
So I think, to me, this is a -- an incredibly important phone call --
ROGERS: -- to reset the table for the United States and for the Biden administration.
TAPPER: And last but not least, obviously, yesterday we marked three years since former U.S. Marine Paul Whelan had been taken prisoner by the Russians. There's also another former U.S. Marine Trevor Reed cases that I know you follow and that we report on here. The Russian Embassy in D.C. responded to the U.S. State Department noting Paul, we have the three-year anniversary.
And so let us remind to the spokesman, the State Department and unlike Russians, who are often detained and convicted by the U.S. under far- fetched pretext, Paul Whelan and Trevor Reed were arrested while committing serious crimes and then hashtag Free Yaroshenko, Free Bout, Free Selesnya (ph) off. What's your take on that?
ROGERS: Listen, we think that, like the U.S. government believes that a lot of these charges are trumped up, they weren't working for the U.S. government in a capacity that the Russians say they were. And that the people that they just mentioned in that, you know, their free hashtag litany, are all Russian spies who were conducting activities that were illegal here in the United States, and were caught doing it.
And so they want -- I think they're pressuring for an exchange. That's all that is. And, unfortunately, they've got the lives of these Americans, innocent Americans Marines in -- who are serving the United States proudly, and they've got them, you know, really in the darkest parts of their dungeons --
ROGERS: -- holding out that they get this prisoner exchange. And it's -- that's why there's been this hold off on the exchange, Jake, is because --
ROGERS: -- you know, you can't allow them to snatch people to try to get their spies back. It just can't work that way.
TAPPER: Former Congressman Mike Rogers, thanks so much. Happy New Year to you and your family, sir.
Finally, in our pop culture lead, you'll want to be there the Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. Be there, get it for the premiere of the CNN film, "Carole King and James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name." CNN's Bill Weir has this preview.
(MUSIC) BILL WEIR, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Those words from one of their most famous songs have been ringing true for singer songwriters James Taylor and Carole King for more than 50 years. "You've Got a Friend" became Taylor's first number one hit and earned a Grammy for both artists in 1972, validation of their immediate musical connection.
They first performed together at The Troubadour in 1970, the famed L.A. club that gave birth to so many musicians of their generation. That performance changed the direction of American music forever.
DAVID BROWNE, SR. WRITER, ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE: Those really direct unadorned and very personal songs that James and Carole wrote back then, basically helped kick off this singer songwriter movement which had already been gestating and existing in various forms.
WEIR (voice-over): You've got a friend was just one of their hit collaborations, including "Fire and Rain," and "I Feel the Earth Move".
WEIR (voice-over): Which was the first of several number one hits for King as a singer, that in credited with inspiring a whole range of artists from Taylor Swift to Celine Dion, Garth Brooks and Jack Johnson. But despite their intimate musical bond, they never tour together until the 2010 Troubadour reunion tour, spotlighted in the new CNN film, "James Taylor and Carole King: Just Call Out My Name."
CAROLE KING, MUSICIAN ARTIST: So James, we got a problem.
JAMES TAYLOR, MUSICIAN ARTIST: We have a problem here, which is that we have an embarrassment of riches. She she wrote too many good song.
KING: As did he.
WEIR (voice-over): The tour marked a milestone in their relationship.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You couldn't ask for more.
KING: Absolutely. It was an experience that we had that we shared with every band member, every singer, every crew member, and everybody has the same treasure.
WEIR (voice-over): And offered up a celebration of one of the most prolific partnerships in American music history.
BROWNE: When you left that concert, he made you realize what exactly they've contributed to American music over decades.
WEIR (voice-over): Bill Weir, CNN, New York.
TAPPER: And the new CNN film, "Carole King and James Taylor: Just Call Out My Name" premieres this Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only on CNN.
We'll have more in our breaking news, a jury has found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty on five of six counts in the sex trafficking trial against her. Stay with us.