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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Supreme Court Keeps Block On Biden Student Debt Plan; GOP Lt. Gov. Says He Didn't Cast A Ballot For Walker In Runoff; Daily Beast: Woman Alleges Walker Was Violent With Her In 2005; Newt Gingrich To GOP: Stop Underestimating President Biden; China Signals Slight Ease In COVID Policy After Mass Protests; Appeals Court Halts Special Master Review Of Seized Mar-a-Lago Docs; Water At Camp Lejeune Was Contaminated For More Than 30 Years; USGS: Could Be A Week Before Lava Flow Reaches Main Road. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired December 01, 2022 - 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: So why do they have to do it again?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. They have testified but the former president has been making these claims of executive and attorney client privilege, which means that behind the scenes in the federal courthouse judge has been having to hear this litigation between the Justice Department, which has been asking for these men to come back in and answer questions that they had declined to answer as a result of the former president's privilege claims. So now, what we understand is happened is that a judge has given a ruling, which means that they have to come back and answer additional questions. Of course, the former president still has the right to appeal this ruling by the federal judge who is overseeing the grand jury.
Obviously, Jake, you know, the importance of the testimony from these two men, they are top White House lawyers, during the key period there, as the former president was trying to overturn the election results, they saw a lot, they heard a lot. They are very important witnesses. And the former president has been busy trying to block their testimony. So we'll see whether they can come in before Trump gets to the appeals court.
TAPPER: And also, Evan, on a separate but related issue, members of the January 6 select House committee are scheduled to have a key meeting tomorrow. Tell us more about what we know about this meeting.
PEREZ: Well, one of the top items on the agenda, Jake, is this question of whether they are going to do referrals, criminal referrals to the Justice Department. And so the question has been hanging certainly over -- during the course of the month of this investigation. And one of the things we heard from Benny Thompson, the chairman of the committee, is that anyone who came before the committee is possible for them to send a referral over if they believe that there was any perjury, if there was any obstruction, any witness intimidation, those are the things that the committee has been very, very concerned about. They also -- he's also talked about the issue of releasing some of the evidence, some of the transcripts of what they've gathered as part of this. They've made clear that they want to release everything. And one of their concerns, Jake, is the question of whether once they cease to exist, whether Republicans might try to release some of that, and perhaps cherry pick some of the findings, Zoe Lofgren, one of the members of the committee addressed some of that with CNN this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: Well, they've been pretty clear that they'd like to undermine the work that we've done, but we're going to prevent that. We're going to release all the information we've collected so it cannot be selectively edited and spun.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: And, Jake, we know that, for instance, there are some witnesses who have come in, anonymously, the committee members say that one of the things they're going to do is they're going to redact the names of those people and then release that testimony. Of course, one of the things of big importance, Jake, you know, in this building, is the access that the Justice Department has been asking for months and months and months for this committee to turn over these transcripts. It looks like the prosecutors here are going to be able to get those -- get that testimony when we are able to see it, the public.
TAPPER: All right. And Evan, we're also learning that the Justice Department has subpoenaed documentary filmmaker Alex Holder for footage that he shot for the documentary unprecedented. I think Discovery ran that months ago. They're giving Holder the option to show up before a grand jury or to hand over the requested material. Tell us more about that.
PEREZ: Well, right. So this testimony, this material is very key because obviously the committee has had access to this for several months and the Justice Department is key -- is keen to see some of what Alex Holder was able to see behind the scenes.
Jake, he was able to get people like Roger Stone, some of the people who were participating, who ended up participating in the protest on January 6. There's a lot of behind the scenes footage that I think is very clear. Prosecutors want to be able to take a look at before, you know, they wrap up their criminal investigation. Those are things that are very important to the Special Counsel, Jack Smith, who is now taking over this investigation.
TAPPER: All right, Evan Perez, lots of news going on. Thank you so much.
On Capitol Hill, Democratic leaders, Nancy Pelosi and Steny Hoyer are stepping down from their leadership positions but Congressman Jim Clyburn will keep a job in Democratic leadership. This despite a last minute challenge from Democratic Congressman David Cicilline. CNN's Manu Raju joins us now. And Manu, you just spoke with Congressman Cicilline. Why did he challenge Clyburn?
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he told me that he believed that House Democrats needed to have spotted the leadership table from someone from the LGBTQ community. He said that this will be the first time in six years that someone from that community has not been represented by House Democrats. So he did announce a bid yesterday, even though Jim Clyburn had announced a couple of weeks ago that he, in fact, would run for this position, which represents the number four position in the House Democratic Caucus. So he said he ultimately decided to step aside because he got assurances from House Democrats that they would include some sort of position from member of that community within -- on the leadership team. He said that it's still being formulated.
He said it's important particularly given attacks that have been leveled from Republicans against some members of that community namely the trans community. Now, after Cicilline decided to step aside, Clyburn was, in fact, elected by unanimously by the House Democratic Caucus earlier today.
And, Jake, this all comes as a relative -- very smooth transition has occurred in the aftermath of Nancy Pelosi stepping aside two weeks ago from running the caucus that she has led for the past two decades. As soon as she stepped aside, you mentioned Steny Hoyer, who was a number two for a long time, who had thought about running for the number one position, decided not to do that. Jim Clyburn, also he was the number three in the last Congress, now he's going to be the number four, that paved the way for a succession, all taking shape, all being elected unanimously. Hakeem Jeffries will be the first black leader of any caucus in Congress, followed by Katherine Clark, who will be the new number two, and Pete Aguilar from California will be the top three members with Clyburn as the number four. So Jake, their team now being set as the House Democrats are preparing for a different role, life in the minority, life in the opposition party as House Republicans themselves are still trying to figure out whether Kevin McCarthy will have the votes to become speaker on January 3.
TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, thank you so much.
A big new legal setback for the Biden administration tops our money lead right now. The Supreme Court is keeping a block on the President's student loan forgiveness plan. Let's bring in CNN's Jessica Schneider.
Jessica, tell us more about this, because it now seems that it's going to be many more months before we know the fate of the President's debt relief plan.
JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. So it's on hold until at least February, Jake. So the good news for the Biden administration here is that the Supreme Court has actually fast tracking these arguments, they'll hear them in February, which is quicker than they would have. The bad news is that this loan forgiveness program, it remains on hold.
So for all those student borrowers who are counting on maybe between $10 and $20,000 in debt relief, they won't be getting that anytime soon. They'll have to wait till the Supreme Court ultimately makes a decision. And the administration here, they've been sending out these letters basically telling students, you're not going to get the relief that we had thought you would. So, the Secretary of Education sent out letters to those who are approved, 16 million people have already been approved so far, saying that, "Unfortunately, a number of lawsuits have been filed challenging the program, which had blocked our ability to discharge your debt at present." Those court challenges continue with the Supreme Court hearing the arguments.
There is a silver lining here though, the Biden administration had put in place a loan pause that was back because of COVID. People -- certain borrowers didn't have to pay their loans. They've now extended that pause so certain borrowers will not have to pay any loans back. And they said that will be in effect for 60 days after all litigation concludes. So that will be in effect, at least until February, possibly as late as May or June here.
TAPPER: But on that block, that at least until February when the Supreme Court hears and probably beyond --
TAPPER: -- because they're going to have to make a ruling, they have to make a decision.
SCHNEIDER: That's right.
TAPPER: Does the Biden administration have any other recourse?
SCHNEIDER: They don't. This was the end of the line here. The Fifth Circuit ruled against them actually just last night, the Eighth Circuit ruled against them. They had gone to the Supreme Court to say we need some emergency relief here, can you take off these injunctions and let this program go into effect?
The Supreme Court said we're not going to lift these injunctions, we're not going to let this program go back into effect. We will throw you a bone, we'll hear arguments on the case. But there's really no other recourse at this point. The Biden administration will have to wait till February to argue in front of the justices.
TAPPER: All right, Jessica Schneider, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Coming up, the Georgia Senate runoff and the new accusations against Herschel Walker from a different ex-girlfriend coming just five days before the end of this runoff election.
And lawyers in commercial after commercial on the hunt for any victims of contaminated water at Marine Base Camp Lejeune. CNN also started digging. What we learned about many victims who may be out there, that's ahead.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, we're just five days away from the rematch between Georgia Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker. Early voting in the Peach State already crossing the 1 million mark after several days of record numbers. And today in Atlanta, former President Barack Obama hits the campaign trail for Warnock in just over an hour. CNN's Eva McKend joins us live from that city.
And Eva, what is the Warnock campaign hoping Obama can provide for them?
EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL REPORTER: Well, Jake, President Obama is here to drive up turnout. Tomorrow is the last day of that critically early voting period in the state before all of the votes are counted next week. The last time Obama came here, I think it was the most animated that I've seen. Democrats in this state have similar energy on display here tonight.
But Obama not only has a physical presence here, he's also appearing on television. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Georgia, serious times call for special leaders. Leaders you can trust. Leaders who are driven by something bigger than politics. That's why you need to reelect my friend and your senator, Reverend Raphael Warnock.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKEND: So there are still a small number of voters that both Senator Warnock and Herschel Walker can capture. We have seen so far that there are some folks coming out voting in this runoff, registered voters in Georgia that did not vote in the general election but are voting now.
TAPPER: And Eva, Senator Lindsey Graham campaigned with Herschel Walker today. Walker is facing yet another allegation of domestic violence in this case. What is the Walker campaign saying about that?
MCKEND: Yes, a woman has come forward, detailing allegations of being threatened and violence in 2005. For its part, the walker campaign not commenting on this. But this is significant, because this is a part of a pattern. This is not the only woman to come forward and make these allegations. We have heard these similar allegations from Walker's past partners as well.
Listen, the campaign not saying anything, and also worth noting that Herschel Walker has not held a media availability, has not spoken to the general press, Jake, in two months.
TAPPER: Two months. That certainly says quite a bit.
Eva McKend in Atlanta, thank you so much.
Let's discuss with my August panel.
And Heidi, let me start with you because in an interview with CNN, Georgia Republican Lieutenant Governor, Geoff Duncan, who is Republican. I'm sorry, Heidi --
HEIDI PRZYBYLA, NATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Yes.
TAPPER: Sorry. No, no, no, I got it. He said he couldn't bring himself to vote for Herschel Walker, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN (R-GA): I showed up to vote this morning, I was one of those folks who got in line and spent about an hour waiting. And you know, it was the most disappointing ballot I've ever stared at my entire life since I started voting. You know, I had two candidates that I just couldn't find anything that made sense for me to put my vote behind. And so I walked out of that ballot box showing up to vote but not voting for either one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, this is the runoff election. So it's just these two on the ballot, I believe. In November, Governor Kemp, who was reelected, he got more than 200,000 votes than Herschel Walker. This would seem to suggest and, you know, especially with control of the Senate not on the line, bad news for Walker, I would say.
PRZYBYLA: That's the key question was whether the same voters who showed up for Kemp would turn out for Walker, plus, right, the folks who didn't even turn out. So, this is this is a bad omen. All of the energy appears to be on the Democratic side, at least if you look at some of the key parameters here, including the spending, he's been outspent by almost two to one in this race. Now, all of these new revelations coming out that just really kind of add to this drip, drip of concerns about his character and his behavior. And, you know, it looks like it might be a win for the Democrats.
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But I would also say, you know, Democrats have -- we've been through this before, I was part of the polling team in 2020. We know how to do a runoff election or a special election in Georgia. And it is exactly as Eva said, we were able to turn out voters who did not turn out November of 2020, right, because you -- and for Georgia, you can also make the case. I mean, Georgian voters understand their vote literally changed the direction of this country --
FINNEY: -- in 2020. So in terms of making the case to people that it matters. The other thing I'll say is, you know, there's a conversation, quite frankly, going on among African American voters about which of these two men do you want representing black men on the national stage in the Senate of the United States of America? And that does not favor Walker.
TAPPER: What is the argument that Republicans are telling their voters in Georgia to try to get them to turn out for Herschel Walker? And I could see it being more compelling --
DAVID URBAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Yes.
TAPPER: -- if control of the Senate was on the line --
TAPPER: -- but it's not.
URBAN: Hey, you're exactly correct, Jake. And so, you know, lieutenant governor there kind of depressing to hear him come out and say he couldn't take one for the team, right? If one of the leaders of the party in the state of Georgia can't take one for the team, what's the average, you know, average Republican voter going to do?
TAPPER: He's a very conservative.
URBAN: No, he's very conservative, yes.
TAPPER: Religious conservative Republican.
URBAN: I spent some time in the green room with him. He's a --
TAPPER: A really good guy.
URBAN: -- very nice guy.
URBAN: And, you know, I talked to Governor Kemp about this a few weeks ago, the RJ (ph) in Orlando, and said, look, if you're not knocking on doors and dragging the people who voted you to the polls, Herschel Walker is not going to win. And that's what it's going to be needed here.
You know, Kemp -- Brian Kemp needs to convince the people that voted for him they need to vote for Herschel. They can't -- that doesn't happen. Herschel doesn't win.
TAPPER: And Yasmeen, obviously, Walker facing a new allegation of domestic violence. This is not the first -- this is in the Daily Beast, a former girlfriend making several alarming allegations detailing an incident where he said -- she says Walker grew enraged, put his hands on her neck, swung his fist at her. I mean, this is just the latest detail of a guy who has shown and admitted to mentally unstable behavior in the past.
YASMEEN ABUTALEB, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Yes, absolutely. And I think you know, even if he did come out with a denial would be kind of hollow at this point, because they're -- they -- all of these allegations have followed such a consistent pattern that it's hard to dismiss them. This woman also put her name on the record to this. This wasn't some anonymous accuser.
And then of course, you had right before the midterm elections in November, these women coming out and saying he paid for their abortions, just as he came out with a very sort of stringent stance on abortion.
TAPPER: No, no exceptions.
ABUTALEB: Exact -- no exceptions, which is actually the extreme of the Republican Party. Most Republicans are not there. So I think there's been a string of damaging behavior and allegations from Walker that is making it hard for even people like Jeff Duncan to throw their support behind him.
TAPPER: So, let's talk about the people that are not campaigning in Georgia right now, because you see Lindsey Graham, but you don't see Donald Trump. You see Barack Obama, you don't see Joe Biden. Explain to me the wisdom. I understand Barack Obama can rally young voters or rally progressives rally African American voters --
TAPPER: -- but Joe Biden won Georgia.
TAPPER: Barack Obama never won Georgia.
FINNEY: But this is a turnout game, right, at this point in this runoff, right? It is all about getting to the numbers and particularly among African American voters. So, who do you bring in, you bring in Barack Obama. As Eva said, he was a great closer just a few weeks ago. And so, it makes perfect sense to me.
It's not -- we're not at the place where we're having a policy conversation. That might be one that you would bring Biden into or the vice president and talk about reproductive freedom --
FINNEY: -- which we know is still very much top of mind for voters in Georgia. But this is all about turnout and it is all about young voters and African American voters. That is the sweet spot.
TAPPER: And why not bring Trump?
URBAN: You saw -- why not bring Trump, because it's down 300,000 votes because of Trump, right?
URBAN: I mean, if Trump won the beat Brian Kemp with the club, right, the governor, Herschel, maybe the senator at this point, right? I mean, again, the Kemp voters didn't vote for Herschel because of Trump. And I think --
TAPPER: Because of Trump or because --
URBAN: Yes, well, you know, I think because --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, it's more than that.
URBAN: It's a little more complicated character.
URBAN: But you know, largely he -- you know --
TAPPER: Trump anointed Herschel Walker --
TAPPER: -- is the bottom line. Yes.
URBAN: And so I think they were -- look, we saw this in the exit polls, Independents broke for Democrats because they're afraid of extremism.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
URBAN: Afraid to those kind of Trump s candidates. And so, Herschel's the handpick Trump candidate. If you're a suburban voter and suburban Atlanta and you're voting for Brian Kemp, they give a little bit of tough time voting for the Trump anointed candidate. And so, Trump coming in now isn't going to help Herschel.
Again, Brian Kemp needs to be knocking on doors and dragging people out. If he doesn't do it, Herschel is not going to win.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
URBAN: And I think that's why Trump stayed away as well. So, if he does lose, he can blame McConnell and Kemp --
URBAN: -- not take any blame for it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
TAPPER: What do you make of it all?
PRZYBYLA: Well, you look at the lack of spending and the lack of Kemp really kicking into high gear here. And it's almost as if Republicans have resigned this given that the motivation on the Democratic side is just so significant for what is at stake, because you say, oh, well, that's just one more seat, Democrats already have the majority.
URBAN: Yes, that's really (INAUDIBLE) PRZYBYLA: But it makes a difference in terms of pushing through --
URBAN: The board (INAUDIBLE) on committee is really, big deal (ph).
PRZYBYLA: -- traditional nominations --
PRZYBYLA: -- committee assignments.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
PRZYBYLA: And so, there really is just a much more concerted push on the Democratic side. And look, isn't that depressing? Wouldn't you be depressed if you were working on the campaign the last minute?
URBAN: I'm depressed. Heidi, I'm depressed right now I'm working on the campaign. OK? I'm still depressed a couple of weeks ago.
TAPPER: But I mean, the idea that Democrats control the Senate 50-50, which they do as of right now. But the truth of the matter is, and we've all been in this town, some of us longer than others. I'm talking about David and me, David and me.
TAPPER: But -- I mean, somebody could retire from the Senate. I mean, somebody could -- I mean, things happen. Fifty-50 is not a guarantee. I mean -- so I am just kind of surprised that there isn't more of a push.
I saw a pitch from Kelly Loeffler, the former Republican senator from Georgia. And her pitch was she was trying to get Republicans to rally like, the only reason that there hasn't been uncontrollable spending, although other Republicans would argue there have been, is because Joe Manchin is there. But if you have 51 Democratic votes, then you take away the power from Manchin, and all of a sudden there's going to be --
TAPPER: -- all that. I mean, it was a complicated argument, but at least it was an argument.
ABUTALEB: Right. I mean, I think there's --there are a couple of things at play. One is for Republicans, maybe they would be willing to spend more if Herschel Walker was a better candidate and they were more energized. But I think the fact that they can't gain control of the Senate, and he's really kind of a drain on the party, it seems to -- for a lot of more traditional Republicans makes it harder to really kind of rally behind this campaign.
And then I think for Democrats, like Heidi said, they see a lot to gain from having 51 seats. I'm not totally convinced that without Manchin you'd have uncontrollable spending. I mean, they still have Kyrsten Sinema they can with. TAPPER: Sure. Right.
ABUTALEB: Still -- I mean, 51 is not exactly --
URBAN: Thank God if you're Republican, by the way. Thank God.
ABUTALEB: It's not exactly a decisive margin, but it does give them a little bit more room to maneuver on some of these issues. And I mean, you only have margin to lose one vote. That's not a lot. But at least you don't need to secure every single vote and they're always short, Manchin or Sinema.
TAPPER: I also just want to read this quote, Karen. It's from former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, also from Georgia. He has new warning for Republicans about 2024. He says, "Republicans must learn to quit underestimating President Joe Biden. Conservatives' hostility to the Biden administration on our terms, tends to blind us to just how effective Biden has been on his terms."
TAPPER: An interesting comment from him.
FINNEY: So, I agree with the overall premise of what he said. People have been underestimating Joe Biden to their peril for a very long time. Remember all the conversation about how he'll never run for president. He'll never be president. Oh, well.
TAPPER: Will never get the nomination.
FINNEY: Will never get --
FINNEY: Right? I mean, just the long list. That being said, reading what he wrote, what Gingrich wrote, was -- it's delusional. It is exactly talk about extremism, talk about all the things --
TAPPER: Well, we took the most palatable section.
FINNEY: I know. There was a whole part about that. It was the most palatable.
FINNEY: There was a whole section about -- I wrote it down, shared American culture. The Republican Party has a lack of understanding about what that means right now, particularly in a country that is basically majority minority, where women and reproductive freedom is a top issue where younger voters clearly there is potential for them to be a powerful political voting bloc. And it was talking about traditional values and looking at the past.
[17:25:00] TAPPER: What do you --
URBAN: Newt sound (ph) because we got smoked, right? I mean, clearly, this midterm was a complete drubbing, right? Republicans missed it and we missed everything.
FINNEY: But he says he missed it because of all the reasons that you missed it. That's my point here, what you said.
URBAN: Well, no, no, no. But obviously look -- I mean, I'm not so sure it's Joe Biden has some sort of magical powers, right? I think you had, you know, very effective Congress. Don't underestimate the power of Nancy Pelosi.
TAPPER: Yes. She has --
URBAN: She was very, very powerful. Schumer, the Congress is very disciplined, they did a lot of things they want to do the jam things through. So I'm not sure it's all Biden. But you know, don't underestimate the Democratic Party, I think, or some of the messages they had --
URBAN: -- because it would be a better message.
TAPPER: All right. Thanks ones and all --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: About democracy.
TAPPER: -- one and all for being here. Democracy also very important issue.
URBAN: Mark one (ph) was on the ballot.
TAPPER: That was on the ballot in one, especially in our home Commonwealth.
Georgia is run off between Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker, it's now only five days away and we're going to bring you special coverage that night. It starts at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, Tuesday. Stay with us.
Also ahead, the great lengths of protester in China is taken to speak to CNN to share why recent demonstrations in that communist country had to happen. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, after a rare protest swept across China, several cities in that country are now easing some COVID restrictions as a top official signals a softer approach, leading to speculation that perhaps, perhaps an end to the zero-COVID policy could be in sight. But as CNN'S Selina Wang reports from Beijing right now, the potential change in strategy comes after the Chinese government crackdown swiftly and harshly on the protests and tightened censorship.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Silence will not protect you.
SELINA WANG, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This person, one of thousands across China willing to put their lives on the line to speak out, years of pent up anger over Chinese draconian COVID markdowns wheeling over into protests.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt like I lost control of my life because of this COVID policy. Nobody is telling you when this is going to end. We are limited physically. And now we're limited mentally. We are forbidden to express our ideas.
WANG (voice-over): For some, that cathartic emotional release spilled into calls for political changes. Some even chanted for Xi Jinping to step down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's the one who's responsible for this whole policy thing. But for me, first thing first I wanted the zero-COVID policy gone. And if we have more freedom of speech and freedom of press, of course, that would be great.
WANG (on-camera): What do you think you guys achieved by participating in that protest?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If you don't demonstrate, if you don't show them your voice, your idea, they will never know.
WANG (voice-over): And this is what happened next. China's security apparatus swiftly smothered the protests. CNN is shielding the protesters' identity because of fears of retribution. Even conducting the interview in a car to avoid tracking from authorities. Police are calling and visiting the homes of some protesters and in Shanghai randomly stopping people to check their phones on streets and what appears to be in subways.
Protesters say they're looking for VPNs needed to use banned apps like Twitter or Telegram, which some protesters use to communicate. Another protester told CNN, I'm afraid we cannot hold protests like this again in the future. There are always undercover agents in our telegram group. Every few beaters on the street, there are police and police dogs. The whole atmosphere is chilling.
(on-camera): I'm in the center of a protest in Beijing right now. They're chanting that they don't want COVID test. They want freedom.
(voice-over): Less than 24 hours after this, we drove back to that spot. Police cars as far as the eye could see. Then a few days later --
(on-camera): It's pretty much back to normal like nothing ever happened. And that is precisely the goal of the Communist Party. (voice-over): CNN has verified protests erupted in at least 17 Chinese cities, but every single one has been stamped out. In Guangzhou, residents destroyed COVID testing boots. Police in riot gear immediately sworn in. They marched through a market shouting at people to leave, firing tear gas to disperse protesters, pushing through with shields and making arrests.
Authorities have gone into overdrive to censor all evidence of unrest online.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The white piece of paper actually represents the censorship and all the deleted contents, and cannot arrest us for just holding a white paper. I still have that white paper I protested and I put it in my diary as a souvenir to show my future generations that you should always fight for your rights and never let your voice be silenced.
WANG (on-camera): How does it make you feel though that the government even censored pictures of people holding white papers?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: By doing this, they're just going to make the crowd even angrier that of trying to silence us. They should really focus and they tried to think why this happened.
WANG (voice-over): Authorities are silencing them but it seems they are listening. Right after the riots in Guangzhou, the city started lifting some lockdowns, removing COVID roadblocks.
"Unsealed. We are unsealed," a man screams with excitement as he bikes through streets being opened up. But so many others are still counting down their days and lock downs in quarantine, wondering when zero- COVID will really end.
Selina Wang, CNN, Beijing.
TAPPER: Remarkable courage. Some breaking news, just in a court ruling putting a hold on the special master reviewing documents taken from Donald Trump's property at Mar-a-Lago. We'll bring that to you live next.
TAPPER: Just in to CNN, an appeals court has halted the special master's review of those classified documents seized from Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago resort. Let's get straight to CNN's Evan Perez. Evan, am I right to interpret this as a victory for the Justice Department?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. This is a big win, Jake, for the Justice Department which has been looking to get rid of these restrictions that were first imposed by a judge in Palm Beach, who appointed a special master, a third party, to go through thousands of documents, government documents.
And to set some aside, according to the former president, he thought that some of these were subjected to his claim of privilege, including executive privilege, attorney client privilege. According to this three-judge panel, that can't continue. And I'll read you just a part of what they said in their ruling, it says, "We cannot write a rule that allows any subject of a search warrant to block government investigations after the execution of a warrant."
And so -- and it continues saying, "Nor can we write a rule that allows only former presidents to do so." In essence, what the former president, Jake, has been doing is trying to argue for special treatment, because he's a former president and saying that the Justice Department exceeded its authority and that he should be getting some kind of privilege, because he was the former president.
And, of course, the FBI, the Justice Department has argued that they should be able to look at all of these documents as part of this criminal investigation into the mishandling of classified documents, documents, which were found and retrieved from Mar-a-Lago in that extraordinary search that happened back in August.
I should note, Jake, that this is a three-judge panel, two of whom were appointed by Donald Trump.
TAPPER: Interesting. Evan Perez, thanks so much.
Let's bring in CNN Legal Analyst Carrie Cordero. Carrie, presumably this will speed up the investigation, what does this mean for prosecutors?
CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It should speed up the ability of the investigators to now review all of the information without having to go through the special master. But I think the most important point, just based on the sections that I'm hearing Evan read from the appellate decision so far, is that the appellate court really took seriously the Justice Department's view and arguments that this special master appointment that was made in the Mar-a-Lago case for the former president really would have the potential of disrupting investigations nationwide.
In other words, that the former president wasn't necessarily entitled to special treatment. And that normal investigations, this is not the time, this early stage for individuals to challenge them. And so, it really it was so unusual, the appointment by the district court of the special master to begin with, and it sounds like the 11th circuit is really returning the situation to regular order.
TAPPER: So this is obviously primarily a victory for the Justice Department and a defeat for Trump and his lawyers. It also reverses that ruling from Judge Cannon in Florida. And there have been fairly or not a number of questions about her rulings. She was appointed by Trump. Her rulings in the eyes of many legal observers seem to favor Donald Trump. How do you see it? CORDERO: Well, I think the issue is -- first of all, with respect to the judiciary across the board, there have been appointees by the former President Trump, who have handled lots of the January 6 cases, who are doing their job equitably and fairly. And so, I want to be careful not to, you know, suggest that all judges appointed by former President Trump are therefore going to rule in his favor.
But this particular appointment of the Special Master by Judge Cannon in this case on the Mar-a-Lago search was really unusual. It really did appear like it was special treatment for former president not a situation that any other individual in the country, if they would have been subjected to a physical search by the FBI based on probable cause and a warrant issued by a federal judge, nobody else would have gotten a special master.
TAPPER: And quickly if you could, this is a complicated case for prosecutors given at the heart of the case that revolves around highly secret government records. What challenges does that present for prosecutors?
CORDERO: Well, national security cases are really hard. I mean, they take a long time. Any cases involving classified information, take a long time. They're complicated. The Justice Department has to make decisions, if they want to even prosecute a case, if they want to bring an indictment.
If they think there's sufficient evidence, then they have to make additional decisions about whether they want to risk the exposure of classified information that might facilitate the prosecution of those cases. So the classified information aspect just adds an additional layer of complexity for the Justice Department.
TAPPER: All right, Carrie Cordero, thank you so much.
Contamination at Camp Lejeune dates back decades. Now commercials are looking for victims with health conditions that might be related to that contaminated water. What CNN found that might reveal the severity of the problem, that's next.
TAPPER: Our buried lead now, that's what we call stories we think are not getting sufficient attention. For more than 30 years, thousands of U.S. servicemembers and their families stationed at the Marine Corps Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were exposed to contaminated water. As CNN's Nick Watt reports, veterans and family members, many of them now with cancer diagnoses, potentially caused by this contamination while they're trying to hold the military accountable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If you were stationed or working at Camp Lejeune --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You maybe be eligible for significant financial compensation.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please give us a call.
NICK WATT, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You've probably seen the commercials, lawyers lining up to help veterans in return for a slice of a potentially huge money pie. Huge because the water at this vast Marine Base in North Carolina was contaminated over 30 plus years by an off base dry cut cleaners, leaky storage tanks and chemical dumping. 1953 to 1987.
(on-camera): Potentially how big is this?
ANDREW VAN ARSDALE, AVA LAW GROUP: Over 1 million people were likely exposed to this toxic water during that time period. And what does that mean in terms of damages? I mean, it's off the charts.
WATT (voice-over): Greg Sexton's mom saw one of the commercials, their first inkling that Camp Lejeune's water might be to blame for what happened to him.
GREG SEXTON, CAMP LEJEUNE WATER CLAIMANT: So I spent the summer there in 1977. I was eight years old. I was spending time with my father who was in the Marines. He was a sergeant in the Marines. When I was 17, I was diagnosed with what's called a Wilms' tumor.
WATT (voice-over): He had kidney cancer, one of the diseases now potentially linked to those chemicals in the water on the base. A base where Ann Johnson lived with her Marine Sergeant dad where she met her future husband in high school, where she gave birth in 1984.
(on-camera): They didn't bring her to you immediately, no?
ANN JOHNSON, CAMP LEJEUNE WATER CLAIMANT: They did not. I guess they were trying to prepare me for what she looked like.
WATT (voice-over): And baby Jacqueta lived just seven weeks aged 18 and forced into and a horrific decision to let her daughter go.
JOHNSON: I looked at my husband and he just dropped his head, not knowing what to say. And so, I looked up at the doctor and I said just let it go.
WATT (voice-over): Birth defects also now potentially linked to those chemicals in the water on the base. Here is the history. In 1980, tests found water is highly contaminated. In 1981, water highly contaminated with other chlorinated hydrocarbons, solvents, that most contaminated wells weren't closed for four years after further testing.
In February 1985, PCE dry cleaning solvent was measured at 43 times the current EPA limit for drinking water. Here in Tarawa Terrace, which houses enlisted men and their families. Two months later, the base commander sent them all a letter. "Two of the wells that supply Tarawa Terrace have had to be taken offline because minute trace amounts of several organic chemicals have been detected in the water."
No health warning, just a request to reduce domestic water use because supply was now limited. Apparently, a mass health warning didn't come until much later, 14 years later.
VAN ARSDALE: Certain areas, water super contaminated. Other areas, it wasn't. The Marine Corps barracks, right, the bachelor barracks, that was in the areas where the water was tainted.
WATT (voice-over): Large sections of the base used by officers and enlisted alike were affected. Van Arsdale asked his 6,000 or so clients, what rank were you when you were exposed to the water at Camp Lejeune? 96.3 percent of respondents say they were enlisted, 3.7 percent were officers. Worth noting, there were always more enlisted men than officers on base.
An act of Congress passed in August allows Marines and their kin to file civil claims.
SEXTON: Some simple acknowledgement would be my wish for everything moving forward.
WATT (voice-over): The Navy has six months to process their claims.
VAN ARSDALE: They've received almost 5,000 claims as of today. They have not yet done anything about any of them.
WATT (on-camera): Do you think any of the claims that you filed so far will actually be processed within the six month window?
VAN ARSDALE: As of today, I do not.
WATT (voice-over): And if not, claims could end up in a courthouse in the Eastern District of North Carolina.
(on-camera): But litigation could take years to even get inside the courthouse.
VAN ARSDALE: It really could. I think that they are too worried about how to defend themselves then focus on what they should be doing. And that's to make these lives better of the men and women who are suffering today.
JOHNSON: Rather than it being me that it could have been the water that I consumed and the government could be responsible for what I went through. My ex-husband went on to remarry and have a couple of more children and there was nothing wrong with them. Jacqueta had to be me. Because other kids are fine, so it had to be me.
WATT: So for Ann Johnson to officially no, it was the water that would be a great comfort for her. Now, the Navy unit handling claims told me this, the initial step includes in processing and initial evaluation. Currently, the Navy is primarily focused on this step. At this stage, no claims are fully adjudicated. The Department of Navy is committed to resolving all claims related to this matter in a fair, thorough and timely manner. Now, the Marine Corps declined our request for an interview, but they told me this. We care deeply about our servicemembers, veterans, civilian workforce, and families including those who have experienced health issues they believe are related to their time in the service.
The issue here is there are a lot of people right now who are sick who could use this money right now, not in five years' time when maybe they'll dead. Jake?
TAPPER: They don't really care about the feelings of the Marine Corps. They need some help. Nick Watt, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
These are new images of the volcano erupting in Hawaii. What geologists are now saying about the lava flow there. Stay with us.
TAPPER: The lava spewing from Hawaii's Mauna Loa volcano is significantly slowing down, we're told. The U.S. Geological Survey says it is now moving slower than 1 mile an hour the lava. This comes as the U.S. Geological Survey said lava could cause the big islands saddle road to be shut down, that would cut off the east and west parts of the island.
But the agency is reiterating that the road could still be shut down within a week if the lava continues to head in the same direction. State health officials are warning of possible health complications from the eruption.
You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to The Lead wherever you get your podcast. Our coverage continues now, Alex Marquardt is in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". See you tomorrow.