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The Lead with Jake Tapper

WNBA Star Brittney Griner Headed Home To U.S.; Sources: Jan. 6 CMTE. Weighing Criminal Referrals For Trump, Giuliani, Meadows, Eastman And Clark; Former Trump Advisors Slam Meeting With Prominent Anti-Semites; Police: More Arrests Expected In German Coup Plot; Report: Washington Team Owner Dan Snyder Created "Culture Of Fear" With Sexual Harassment & Bullying; "Boy In The Box" Identified As 4- Year-old Joseph Augustus Zarelli; Singer Celine Dion Postpone Upcoming Tour, Reveals She Has Rare Neurological Condition. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 08, 2022 - 17:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: While Griner's released is no doubt cause for celebration, Griner's wife and President Biden both acknowledged the other wrongfully detained Americans still being held in Russia, the administration's insists they did everything they could to try and also secure the release of former American Marine Paul Whelan, who is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence on trumped up espionage charges. Charges he vehemently denies. CNN spoke exclusively on the phone to Whelan from the Russian prison about Griner's release.


PAUL WHELAN, FORMER MARINE DETAINED IN RUSSIA: I am greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release. I don't understand why I'm still sitting here.


TAPPER: Our coverage starts today with CNN's Alex Marquardt on more on how Griner was released this morning and how Biden managed to negotiate his second Russian prisoner swap this year.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): The dramatic moment of the high stakes prisoner swap Brittney Griner in the red coat walking towards the American plane. Coming towards them, State Department official Roger Carstens accompanying Viktor Bout, who was hugged by a Russian official. This new video from Russian state media shows Griner leaving Russian detention and boarding the plane in the snow. Her passport returned, Griner smiles knowing she's heading home.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you ready for flight?



C. GRINER: Thank you.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Back in the U.S., Griner's wife, Cherelle, was invited to the White House.

C. GRINER: Today, I'm just standing here overwhelmed with emotions. But the most important emotion that I have right now is just sincere gratitude for President Biden and his entire administration.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The release was the culmination of many months of negotiations with Russia.

BIDEN: This work is not easy. Negotiations are always difficult. There are never any guarantees. But it's my job as President of United States to make the hard calls and protect American citizens everywhere in the world.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The WNBA star who was caught with cannabis oil entering Russia spent 10 months in Russian detention. But now she's spared from a brutal nine-year sentence in a Russian penal colony. U.S. officials said that the trade for notorious Russian weapons smuggler Viktor Bout was finalized in the past 48 hours. Griner was moved from her prison to Moscow before being flown to Abu Dhabi, where the exchange took place on the tarmac of a small private airfield.

BIDEN: I'm glad to be able to say that Brittney is in good spirits. She's relieved to finally be heading home.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The U.S. wanted to trade Bout for both Griner and American Paul Whelan, but Russia refused. In an exclusive interview from his penal colony, Whelan told CNN, he's surprised he wasn't included.

WHELAN: I'm greatly disappointed that more has not been done to secure my release. I'm happy that Brittney is going home today and that Trevor went home when he did. But I don't understand why I'm still sitting here. My bags were packed. I'm ready to go home.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Whelan told CNN that the Russians see him at a higher level than Griner. He's been charged with espionage and sentenced to 16 years.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: This was not a choice of which American to bring home. The choice was one or none. I wholeheartedly wish that we could have brought Paul home today on the same plane as Brittney.


MARQUARDT: The big question now is how to get Paul Whelan home. Who the Russians will want an exchange and whether the U.S. will be willing to do it. Jake, you could hear in that exclusive interview that Paul Whelan did with our colleague Jennifer Hansler that he is deeply frustrated. He says that today Russia got the better deal. That Griner was exchanged for what he called a world class felon. He said he believes that Russia is dangling him, Paul Whelan, over Biden's head and that they will want something big in exchange.

Now as for Brittney Griner, she is on her way back to United States. She's due to land in San Antonio, Texas. We don't quite know when that. Of course, it's where Trevor Reed was also taken when he was released by the Russians back in April, and that is where Griner like Reed will be able to get any medical attention that she needs.

TAPPER: All right, Alex Marquardt, thanks so much.

Brittney Griner's basketball team the Phoenix Mercury has been tweeting for weeks counting the days that Griner has been in Russian custody calling for her release today. The team tweeted "No more days. She's coming home."

Joining us now is Terri Jackson. She's the Executive Director of the Women's National Basketball Players Association. Thanks so much for joining us. How'd you feel this morning when you heard the news?

TERRI JACKSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, WOMEN'S NATIONAL BASKETBALL PLAYERS ASSOCIATION: Thank you, Jake. I go to bed every night saying Brittney's coming home tomorrow. So I was anxiously anticipating this morning. I thought I was just going to be happy, happy, happy, and that I was but hearing the news just released the gates of emotion, I sobbed like I haven't solved in quite a long time but it was all tears of joy.

TAPPER: Have you --

JACKSON: Pure joy.

TAPPER: Have you been told any information about how Britney is doing?


JACKSON: I have not. I have not. You know, I've done these interviews in the past spoken with you and your colleagues and I say every time I see an image of BG I lean in to see if I can read her face, she's beautiful cheekbones, she's striking. And just seeing the smile, seeing that there was some good spirits there made me feel good. But I know that there is a journey ahead of healing and wellness. And we are all here for it -- for her.

TAPPER: Have you spoken to Brittney's family at all or any of her teammates? What are what are they saying?

JACKSON: Well, her teammates, yes, of course, those are my members, those are my bosses, those are who I report to, so yes. They are they are filled with joy. We've had conversations, live conversations, a lot of texting and as you can imagine, lots of emoji filled text. I have sent messages to Cherelle knowing that she will respond to me when she can, when she has a moment, no, you know, no expectation there.

But I've also been very closely tied to her team Lindsay Kagawa Colas, who is her representation here in the U.S. and in the WNBA and has really been leading this effort magnificently. And so, we have been in touch. And so, you know, I just can't wait to hear that BG's feet are on U.S. soil.

TAPPER: Do you expect that she'll be able to continue playing basketball professionally?

What's going on?

JACKSON: That's my son. My family has been in the trenches on this, so.

TAPPER: That's wonderful. That's so sweet.

JACKSON: Yes, yes, yes. Do I expect that she'll be playing soon? Was that the question, Jake?


JACKSON: You know what, I expect and hope that BG does whatever brings her joy. Would we -- what I love to see her back amongst the 144 so that we are truly complete. Absolutely, what I want for BG is what is best for BG, and only she can determine that. But I support wherever she lands 1,000 percent

TAPPER: All right, go give your son another hug. Terri Jackson, thanks so much. Really appreciate your time.

JACKSON: Thank you.

TAPPER: Just in, new video showing Viktor Bout arriving back in Moscow. He was the Russian arms dealer who was returned to Russia in exchange for Brittney Griner's release. And CNN's Nick Paton Walsh joins us now from London to talk about this.

And Nick, you're one of the few U.S. journalists who has had access to Viktor Bout. Tell us about him.

NICK PATON WALSH, CNN INTERNATIONAL SECURITY EDITOR: Yes, I mean, this is a man of extraordinary contradictions, frankly, because of the denials. He's always put out there publicly, that he is somehow just a pilot and entrepreneur who's happened to be moving material, non- military material around some of the key conflict zones in the '90s and early 2000s. And at the same time is obviously of such extraordinary value to Russia that they've been through this high profile, diplomatic to and fro over months to get him home. Decade, you might even say.

He is accused by U.N. investigators, by analysts, by journalists, by officials of being one of the most prolific dealers possibly in history. Again, something he denies. Having worked in Africa to fuel it small wars in the '90s, in Afghanistan, he's a man, too, who's intensely charming, frankly, if you're speaking to him in the months I spent trying to get him to agree to a sit down interview 13 years ago as he awaited extradition in Thailand, but also too has a personal history it seems with so many of the key characters you might know from some of those conflicts. All of which makes it increasingly hard to fully buy into the blanket denial, but he's just a nobody who's really good with planes.

And you're seeing clearly here in the efforts made by Russia and the clear publicity of filming his arrival in Moscow, they're getting on the plane in Abu Dhabi, a very gaunt figure, frankly, from the slightly portly man who was clearly enjoying the high life in 2008 when the USDA caught him in a Thailand hotel. But absolutely Russia keen to show everybody exactly how successful they feel this operation to get him back has been, Jake.

TAPPER: And back in July, Nick, I spoke with former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who prosecuted Viktor Bout back in 2011. Take a listen to what Preet had to say about Viktor Bout.


PREET BHARARA, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I can say from my perspective as the person who oversaw the prosecution of Viktor Bout, he's a dangerous person. He was one of the most prolific arms dealers in the world. He was convicted in a U.S. federal court in New York of conspiracy to kill Americans.


TAPPER: How concerned should the world be about Viktor Bout being a free man again?

WALSH: Look, I mean, it's important to point out what he was convicted in the U.S. court for was a sting operation where he essentially agreed on tape to sell weapons that could have killed Americans about crime certainly, but not connected to the broader career history he was accused of, of which there's plenty of evidence of his wrongdoing. Has he been out of circulation for 13, 14 years, well, yes. I mean, I tried to exchange emails him when he was in a U.S. prison, they were pretty quickly shut down. So he was hardly keeping himself familiar with the contacts that he had.


He's always denied in public being the figure he's been made out to be with this sort of background wink wink and his entourage that something else possibly is going on. Here's what happened when I spoke to him a few years ago.


VIKTOR BOUT, RUSSIAN ARMS DEALER: This is a lie and just bullshit, and I never supplied arms as such at all and I especially didn't have any deal with Al-Qaeda.

Thanks Mum. We're trying to talk. Why do you come here every five minutes? Yes, look but I don't want to say now this or that.

WALSH: Have you ever worked for the Russian government?

BOUT: Sometimes, yes. We did the flights.


WALSH: There you saw in the middle that his mother who hugged him in Moscow today interrupting our interview almost those 13 years ago. Look, he's probably not the most current arms dealer frankly, after all that time in prison. He most likely is a man of a lot of historical knowledge, possibly great contacts in Russia's elite. And that may be why they're so keen to have him home. Plus also showing those in the elite now fighting in Ukraine's war that Moscow will come and look out for them, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nick Paton Walsh, thank you so much.

Breaking news, CNN has just learned which Trump associates could face criminal referrals from the January 6 committee. Will bring you those names, next.

Plus, more arrests in a foiled far right plot to overthrow the German government. At least 50 people behind bars. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our politics lead, CNN has learned the names of some of the former Trump aides and advisors that the January 6 committee is considering, just considering for criminal referrals to the Justice Department. This would be in addition to a potential referral for the former president. Again, we don't know of any actual referrals being made, but that decision whether or not to refer could come as early as Sunday.

Here's Sara Murray with the details.


SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A handful of Donald Trump's former aides and advisors.

RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: They cheated with the machines.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: State election officials ignored or violated the state law.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How are you? Good morning. Special aid with DOJ. MURRAY (voice-over): Could face criminal referrals from the House Select Committee investigating the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. The committee considering referrals for former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, lawyer John Eastman, former Justice Department Official Jeffrey Clark, and former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani, sources tell CNN.

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: We want to make sure no one slips through the cracks. We want to make sure that the key organizers and movers of this attack don't escape the scrutiny of the justice system.

MURRAY (voice-over): There's still no final decisions on who to refer to the Justice Department and for what offenses. But the committee hopes to make those decisions in a meeting on Sunday.

(on camera): Do you expect to make a decision about who would be on the list of criminal referrals at this Sunday meeting?


MURRAY (on camera): That's the plan?


MURRAY (voice-over): CNN previously reported the committee is also weighing a referral for former President Trump.

RASKIN: Even though what we're doing is just making a referral of our viewers, we want to take it very seriously.

MURRAY (voice-over): The committee aiming to release its final report and its list of criminal referrals on December 21st.

THOMPSON: There will be some kind of a public facing event. We've not decided exactly what that would look like.

MURRAY (voice-over): As the committee wraps up its work, former President Trump is facing legal jeopardy on a number of fronts.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA), INTELLIGENCE CHAIRMAN: The case against the former president just gets worse and worse and worse.

MURRAY (voice-over): He faces scrutiny for the plot to try to update and the results of the 2020 election, as well as his handling of sensitive government documents after leaving the White House. The FBI recovered more than 100 documents with classified markings after searching Mar-a-Lago in August.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It's not a crime. And they should give me immediately back everything that they've taken from because it's mine.

MURRAY (voice-over): A subsequent search by a firm hired by Trump's lawyers uncovered two more documents with classified markings from a Florida storage unit. And today, Trump decided not to ask the Supreme Court to revive a special master reviewing the evidence from Mar-a- Lago s source tells CNN after a lower court struck down the third party review.


MURRAY: Now we are also learning from sources that the Justice Department has asked a federal judge to hold Donald Trump in contempt for failing to comply with that subpoena over the summer. This is all happening in secret court proceedings. But there is a hearing, again, all behind closed doors on Friday where a judge will consider this matter if held in contempt. Trump or his post presidency office could face fines, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Sara Murray, thanks so much. Let's discuss with my august panel.

Kasie, just to go over these names again, the committee is considering referrals for former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, lawyer John Eastman, former Justice Department official Jeffrey Clark, and former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Yes, according to our reporting. And I mean, look, that list I don't think is there's any surprises truly on that list. I mean, these are the people particularly if you are an attorney, you do potentially -- there's potentially more room for you to be breaking the law, especially if you're engaged in some of the types of contact that Mark Meadows and Rudy Giuliani have apparently been engaged in.

But whether this, you know, matters in the long run, you know, I'm really interested to learn more and I'm hoping we learn more as this final report comes out about why the Justice Department has not received transcripts and information from the January 6 committee that they've asked for. I feel like there's got to be a reason for why that's been happening. And I haven't been able to get my sources to give me a good explanation. I'm hoping that we learn more about that.

TAPPER: One of the things that's interesting Audie, is the fact that there are people who have been part -- who have been provided as evidence and testimony and all sorts of information to the January 6 committee that apparently the Justice Department has never even talked to. So, it does make some of the people who are witnesses for the January 6 committee wonder why the Justice Department is so behind.

AUDIE CORNISH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. I mean, I think we should be wary of speculating on that because, holistically, it's not as though DOJ is not investigating the total reality of this, right? They've had some seditious conspiracy --



CORNISH: -- convictions that they've had in recent weeks. Jack Smith has now sent out subpoenas to swing states where the fake electoral scheme was being pushed.

TAPPER: Jack Smith the special counsel.

CORNISH: The special counsel. So, it's hard to look at it in isolation and say, well, what about the criminal refers, etc., because there is an active investigation going on. And I do think we're going to know fairly soon given the speed with which he's moving, where those things are finally going to intersect.

TAPPER: And David Urban, this all happens at the same time that Donald Trump, just he's being criticized right now we're meeting with Pizzagate, QAnon conspiracy theorists, that insane theory about --


TAPPER: -- the pedophiles at the pizzeria, and that come a few weeks after Trump met with a couple prominent anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers. I don't -- I mean --

URBAN: Yes, inauspicious is not a word that you would -- I don't even know. How do you describe since they announced -- his announcement of reelect? It hasn't gone smoothly, to say the least, right? So, I'm not sure who's steering the ship, right?

I mean, there's -- there presumably staff people around the president, there are the president himself, right? But how does this all occurring if he's running a campaign? It doesn't seem he's doing too good of a job at this point.

TAPPER: And Ashley, even former White House advisors, Larry Kudlow and Kellyanne Conway, are confused about what's going on down there in Mar-a-Lago. Take a listen.


LARRY KUDLOW, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: I don't understand what our former boss is doing. I love the guy, but I do not understand Kanye West hanging out with white nationalists, hanging out with anti- Semitic people talking about ending the Constitution or postponing the Constitution. I don't get it.

KELLYANNE CONWAY, FORMER COUNSELOR TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: But again, he should just -- he should completely distanced himself. I think, he said I didn't know anything about this guy, I was trying to help Kanye West.

KUDLOW: And I disagree with everything they say --

CONWAY: Of course.

KUDLOW: -- and stand for it.

CONWAY: Of course.


TAPPER: But he's not.

ASHLEY ALLISON, FORMER NATIONAL COALITIONS DIRECTOR FOR BIDEN-HARRIS 2020: No, he's not. And I don't think he will. And I'm not surprised, and I don't have any high expectations for our former president. I think he's spiraling, I don't think he's listening to anyone but the voices in his head. And I think we will see more and more. But I don't know if that means that Donald Trump will go away. I still think we'll

URBAN: Well, not going away.

ALLISON: He's not going away. And we'll see if anyone steps up to really contest him in 2024. And if not, I mean, the Republicans are in real big trouble if this is continues to be the headline.

One thing I will say that is interesting is, will the stories and topics shift once Republicans take the House and they start to govern and committees get formed. It's interesting to see how they might try and usurp some of his headlines with some of their investigation.

TAPPER: You know, one of the things that's interesting is that, I mean, Donald Trump meeting with Holocaust deniers and anti-Semites, I mean, just fairly blatant ones. Kanye West, also known as Ye, and Nick Fuentes prompted this from Kellyanne Conway.


CONWAY: I would like to hear more from his daughter who's Jewish, I would like to hear more from his son in law, who was the only person from the administration, Larry, to benefit in the B's with billions. It'd be nice for them to weigh in when you and I are expected to.



TAPPER: That's -- that was an interesting comment, I thought.


HUNT: Yes, that is a very interesting --

CORNISH: Especially because it could have come two years ago, right, after Charlottesville. And I think I am not a person at this point who is wondering who's around him, who's wondering what it all means. Actions speak louder than words. And at this point, every action by the president is signaling to him the constituency that he wants to maintain. Because it's very easy to say no or not be in these meetings.

TAPPER: Right, exactly right. He's not distancing themselves from these individuals because he doesn't want to lose any votes. He thinks that there are people who believe in this Holocaust denial and anti- Semitism, and he wants their support.

HUNT: Yes. And well, I mean, the lengths that he's gone when he does receive support from these people to not alienate them is just remarkable. And he clearly is embracing them. I mean, this is the big difference between -- remember that moment where somebody stood up and raise the racist birther conspiracy about Obama at a John McCain town hall and John McCain --


HUNT: -- sit up and he said, no, we're not doing that, right?

TAPPER: Right.

HUNT: And that's really the big difference between Donald Trump and many of the leaders of the Republican Party that came before. There's always been an element in our society that has believed many of these terrible things that has held racist views that have been anti- Semitic. But the difference is that our leaders have been willing to say, this is not acceptable.

And the reality is people do listen to our leaders. This is why there are so many Americans now who think the election was stolen because they view Donald Trump as their leader, and that's what he's telling them to do. And the fact that he's not doing it, it's -- I'm sorry, but it matters a lot, it's important, and I'm glad we're focusing on it.

URBAN: And I'd say this is, you know, the lesson that Republicans learned in this midterm, right? Was that all the voters sent a message like we don't want this anymore, right?


TAPPER: Right.

URBAN: We need to move away from this. Independence broke wildly away from Republicans sending a message, we don't want this Trump stuff anymore. We need to move back to the center. All Trump candidates and there was an infographic that we had up before on the network where Trump candidate for Trump candidate, Trump candidate lost.



URBAN: Right? I mean they loss, because the message does not read. People want -- they reject this. So, the American people reject this, voters reject this. I hope at some point the Republican Party stands up and say, we reject it very lightly, otherwise, otherwise, otherwise, we're not going to win. We're going to keep losing.

ALLISON: But some of these races were still really close. I mean, we just came out of Georgia. And when you think -- Herschel Walker should have been beat by 15, 20 points, he wasn't. It was in a runoff because Warnock couldn't get 50 percent. So I still think to Kasie's point, there is a group of this population that have been emboldened and continues to be emboldened with Trump's behavior. And he is not going to turn his back on that component, because he thinks he can split the -- in the primary -- URBAN: Yes.

ALLISON: -- and win.

URBAN: I just want to be clear, I believe it's not nearly -- no, it's not a majority of the Republican Party by any long stretch, it is a thin slice, thin slice enough to get you through a primary. And 30 percent, 33 percent, whatever that number is, that's what Trump's quoting here, not the bulk of the Republican.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, but getting to a primary is what this is about right now.

URBAN: There's 67 percent -- no, no, but 67 percent of Republican Party rejects this kind of use. OK? Just -- let's be clear.

HUNT: I mean, to go back to the original soundbite that you play, Jake, too, I take Audie's point for sure. But I think also what Kellyanne was kind of saying is that, hey, like these guys are really -- Jared Kushner benefited. He made a lot of money from his father-in law being in the White House. And now he's not actually taking a role standing up and say --


HUNT: -- hey, this is wrong, when he is probably the most prominent Jewish member of the former administration. Ivanka Trump has put out a statement saying, I'm not doing this again.

TAPPER: Right.

HUNT: Right? I mean, that says a lot about --

CORNISH: She didn't say, I'm not doing this again, because of anti- Semitism, right?

HUNT: No, no, of course not.

CORNISH: It was, I'm not going to participate in another round (ph).

HUNT: She said, I'm going to continue to live my private life.

TAPPER: Right. She says she want to spent time with her family.

HUNT: Yes.

CORNISH: Yes, just to be clear.

TAPPER: But David, I want to ask you, because you used to represent Paul Whelan. You're also friends with Ambassador Roger Carsten -- Carstens, who negotiated the trade Viktor Bout for Brittney Griner, former Trump administration holdover kept on by Biden --


TAPPER: -- doing a lot to get the American detainees and hostages out of these countries. We have seen a lot of Republicans, including Congressman Waltz on the show earlier, criticizing this deal. Saying look, they got out of celebrity instead of a veteran.

URBAN: Yes. So, look, Roger Carstens is doing an incredible job. I can't speak highly enough for him. And I agree with the national security adviser on earlier saying, look, we can get one out or none out, right? You take the one and you move on and you keep hoping. I'm happy for Brittney Griner and her family, you know, Godspeed to them.

And look, Paul Whelan, we're going to keep praying for him and open -- and hope the Russians come to the table again.

TAPPER: All right, thanks one and all for being here. Really appreciate it.

Be sure to check out Audie's podcast, it's called "The Assignment with Audie Cornish." New episodes drop every Thursday. That's today.


TAPPER: That's today. All right. Check it out.

It sounds like something out of the Nazi era far right extremists demanding citizens turn in their passports because they are not, quote, "German enough." New and terrifying details emerging about the foiled coup plot in Germany. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Today in Germany, not the fairytale ending that a former Prince involved in a coup plot was no doubt hoping for he and 24 other suspects were arrested Wednesday for their roles in the far-right conspiracy to violently overthrow the German government. And now German authorities say there are at least 54 total suspects.

And as CNN's Fred Pleitgen reports for us more arrests could be coming soon.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): It could have been a January 6 style insurrection in Germany. Violent protesters trying to storm German parliament in August 2020 of the leading groups, the Reichsburger or Citizens of the Reich now accused of plotting a coup in Germany.

JOACHIM HERMANN, BAVARIAN INTERIOR MINISTER (through translation): This is obviously one of the largest terrorist organizations that has existed in the right-wing sector in recent years, Bavaria's Interior Minister said. It certainly seems to be the worst we have seen so far in the spectrum of the Reichsburger and QAnon scenes.

German authorities say they believe there will be more arrests after massive raids on Wednesday. The number of suspects has already risen to more than 50 possible co-conspirators of the group, allegedly led by this man, 71-year-old Prince Heinrich XIII of the House of Reuss.

CNN efforts to reach him for comment have so far been unsuccessful. Residents of Heinrich's hometown say that suspicious activity was already well underway. His followers had even demanded citizens ditch their German passports.

DEPUTY MAYOR ANDREE BURKHARDT, BAD LOBENSTEIN, GERMANY: We were told that we were not German because our passports were not German. We were then given the opportunity to apply for our German origin documents with the Reuss administration, the Deputy Mayor said.

Authority say the Reichsburger want to set up a monarchy in Germany and have scores of right-wing extremists in their ranks. Among those arrested, several former soldiers and a former member of German parliament from a far-right political party. German extremism experts warn like in the U.S. the number of extremists looking to undermine democracy is growing.

ALEXANDER HAEUSLER, UNIVERSITY OF DUSSELDORF (through translation): It's a development which shows that right-wing extremism is moving from the margins to the center and that protagonist from the scene can imagine overthrowing the state order. It's a very dangerous development.


German criminal authorities say they are continuing to identify people possibly involved in the planned coup. And while that plan may have been thwarted this time, groups like Reichsburger pose an increasing threat to Germany's democratic order.


PLEITGEN: And Jake, tonight the German authorities are also saying that they understand the way that this group wanted to do this. They wanted to occupy a lot of German government buildings, like for instance, the German parliament.

Now the German authorities are saying they don't believe that this had a higher chance of success if they would have gone through with it. But they also said that after searching a lot of locations in Germany, at least in 50, places they found weapons that these people were hoarding in those places and possibly willing to use.

The Germans are saying this is an extremely dangerous group. And what makes it even more dangerous is that it's intertwined with groups like QAnon that are extremely strong here in Germany, other conspiracy theories and of course also right-wing extremists as well. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Fred Pleitgen in Berlin, Germany, thanks so much.

The shocking details about how Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder created a, quote, culture of fear meant to silence team employees allegedly. The new report next.


TAPPER: In the sports lead, a damning report from House Democrats on the Oversight Committee revealing a, quote, culture of fear in the front office of the Washington Commanders football team. The investigation found, quote, sexual harassment, bullying and other toxic culture pervaded that workplace. The report also alleges that the team owner Dan Snyder lied when he appeared before Congress back in July.

Let's bring in CNN's Tom Foreman. Tom, what's also potentially disturbing is according to this report, the NFL and the Commanders franchise tried to cover up the misconduct for years.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, for 20 years. If you believe this report, Jake, look, it's summed up in one early sentence where they say that Mr. Snyder endorsed a toxic culture at the Commanders in which sexual misconduct, exploitation of women, bullying of men and other inappropriate behavior was common place.

What are they talking about? Look further in the report where they talked about a time when they say that he had the cheerleaders paraded out onto the field, while he and his friends gawked from his suite through binoculars. And in another case, something on the video team there so they were ordered to produce a lewd video comprised of outtakes from a cheerleader's photoshoot showing their exposed intimate body parts without their knowledge or consent for Mr. Snyder's personal consumption.

And further on, some people who were fairly high placed in the organization, they gave quotes in this investigation too. One man say there was -- the culture was rife with sexual harassment in the workplace and a frat house mentality. And look at this, a woman who worked there said harassment happened every single day that you are on site.

Of course, Dan Snyder has said -- has denied a great deal of this as the process going forward. And the Washington Commanders issued a statement today, saying that the congressional investigators were not interested in the truth, only in chasing headlines that this was a one sided approach.

TAPPER: Tom, according to the Democrats on the Oversight Committee, Snyder tried to interfere even with this report.

FOREMAN: Yes, there's a lot of -- a lot in this report about how he tried to blame others for anything that did happen. He claimed that this was mainly a defamation campaign against him, which according to the report became a pretext for hiring private investigators to look into former employees, other NFL people, including Roger Goodell, all of these folks all in the name of protecting himself. The NFL says, look, we fine them $10 million last year, and now the team may be up for sale anyway, but it's quite a report, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks so much. And this comes just a day after President Biden signed into law, the Speak Out Act, that prohibits the enforcement of non-disclosure agreements when it comes to cases of sexual assault and harassment in the workplace if they were signed before the alleged incident.

One of the main proponents behind the bill is Gretchen Carlson formerly a Fox. She joins us now. Gretchen, today the House Oversight Committee concluded that, quote, bullying and intimidation, sexual harassment, and a culture of fear pervaded the Washington Commanders football organization for many years. This was all under the leadership of Commanders owner Dan Snyder. What's your reaction to the investigation findings?

GRETCHEN CARLSON, ACTIVIST AGAINST WORKPLACE HARASSMENT: I'm not surprised. Look, a misogyny and harassment are all about power. And many times, people in these roles who are misogynistic believe that they're above the law. And, you know, he also did not allow anyone to get out of their non-disclosure agreements to be able to testify for this report, which is also not surprising. So it's just disappointing.

But look, the work I've been doing for the last six and a half years is changing the environment so that this is no longer acceptable. And I'm working to give people their voices back so that they can actually fight back against misogynist who continue to try to exert their power over them.

TAPPER: Well, let's talk about that, because you helped us your two bills through Congress to help end the culture of toxic workplaces. Explain to us what the two bills do.

CARLSON: So the first one was signed by the President and I was with him on that day on March 3. This gets rid of forced arbitration clauses for harassment and assault in the workplace. And people will say, well, what's that?

Forced arbitration clauses have become pervasive. 84 percent of all Americans have them in their workplace contracts right now. What that means, is you don't get to go to an open jury process to go to a secret chamber.


And that's what's been happening to tons of women and other people who face discrimination over the years and that's why we never knew about these cases, because they were going away to secrecy. That law was one of the biggest labor law changes in the last 100 years. And then we immediately got to work on the Speak Out Act, because we also want to take on non-disclosure agreements. We believe that these are the two silencing mechanisms that keep these kinds of stories from the general public.

And that was signed by the President yesterday. We got overwhelmingly bipartisan support for both of these bills. So in a span of just eight months, Jake, my organization along with Julie Roginsky, Lift Our Voices, we have passed some of the biggest labor law changes for women in the last 100 years.

TAPPER: That's fantastic. Congratulations. And as you mentioned, Dan Snyder, he refused to release employees from their NDAs, their nondisclosure agreement, so they could speak to Congress for the investigation. Would that have been a violation of the law that just passed, or is it just going forward?

CARLSON: No, this is retroactive. And so, if you currently have a forced arbitration clause in your contract, or if you have an NDA that you signed on your first day of work, you don't have to abide by that anymore, if you want to bring forth harassment or assault claims. That's why this is so monumental.

I mean, this is a game changer for people to be able to own their own truths and own their own voices and their own experiences. And in 2022, at Lift Our Voices, we believe that that is what is just.

TAPPER: What's your message to anyone out there who might be currently struggling in a toxic workplace environment and is terrified to speak up because they might lose their job?

CARLSON: Yes, that's still the culture that we live in. And so, you know, we start this report talking about the Commanders. I often say that passing two bipartisan bills into law in the last year was actually easier in the most hyper political time of my generation than changing culture. And that's saying a lot, because it is so embedded in the American culture, unfortunately, that we penalize the people who have the courage to come forward, and we force them out, and they never work again.

And then we somehow continue to prop up predators even when they're not the moneymakers at the company. So we are also working at Lift Our Voices about trying to get to the culture. And we are chipping away at that by passing these laws. And we encourage companies to get on the right side of history with us and change their policies to become more transparent. That's the way that workers want it. And in 2022, they deserve to know that they won't be silenced.

TAPPER: You signed an NDA when you settled with Fox, would your legislation get you out of that NDA?

CARLSON: No, this legislation is as far as we could go to get bipartisan support. This is only pre-dispute non-disclosure agreements that go away. So my NDA is still fully intact, unfortunately. But, you know, certainly I would have a lot to say if I was ever able to get out of my NDA.

But the one thing I did get in my settlement, Jake, was that they gave me the opportunity to speak about these issues. And I have taken full advantage of that. I'm changing the workplace culture for millions of people in America that I will never ever meet. And that to me, will be my legacy. And it will be far more important than anything else I've ever done in my life except having my two children.

TAPPER: All right, well, congratulations again to you, Gretchen. Good work.

CARLSON: Thanks for having me on. TAPPER: A big development in a cold case, that's 60 years old. How new DNA technology helped identify the murder victim known in Philadelphia as the boy in the box. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our national lead, after nearly 66 years, Philadelphia police finally have a name for the so-called boy in the box. With the help of DNA analysis, police were able to identify the young child who was found dead left inside a cardboard box in Northeast Philadelphia.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is following the case. Brynn, what is the boy's name?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, his name is Joseph Augustus Zarelli, and that means that name is now going to go on a tombstone in the Philadelphia area that once read America's Unknown Child. Now this is so significant, of course for family members but also just in for investigative purposes because of course it is still very difficult to solve a homicide when you don't even know the victim's name. But this still remains the longest unsolved homicide in Philadelphia's history.

But how did detectives get to here? Well, they exhumed the boy's body twice. On the second time, they're able to get enough of a sample to be able to put that into a DNA database and compare that with like a genealogical sort of database. And they're able to actually identify this boy's parents who are both now deceased and also siblings and that has, of course, brought them to this boy's name. Investigators say they hope now that the names out there, they will get tips. Take a listen.


CAPT. JASON SMITH, HOMICIDE UNIT, PHILADELPHIA POLICE: We're going to filter through each and every one of those tips but in that avalanche, there might be a diamond in the rough. I'm hopeful that there's somebody who was in their mid to late 70s possibly 80s, who remembers that child.


GINGRAS: Now investigators say they have a suspicion who might be responsible for this, Jake, but they wouldn't lead on to that and they also won't release the names of the family members that are still surviving. So this is one will stay on for you.

TAPPER: All right, Brynn Gingras, thank you so much.


TAPPER: Coming up, her heart will go along but her voice for now will be silenced because of a rare medical condition. Stay with us.




TAPPER: In our pop culture lead, she was already famous but she shot a superstardom singing the theme for the 1997 film "Titanic." Today, singer Celine Dion revealed that she has been diagnosed with a rare neurological syndrome that's forcing her to postpone an upcoming European tour until at least 2024.

In an emotional video she posted on Instagram, Dion said, she has Stiff-Person Syndrome which affects the brain and spinal cord and causes painful spasms that impact every aspect of her life including the use of her vocal cords. Dion is working with doctors and a sports medicine therapist but says since she cannot give 100 percent on stage, she will not be taking the stage anytime soon.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, 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 your podcast. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". See you tomorrow.