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The Lead with Jake Tapper
January 6 Committee Putting Finishing Touches On Final Report; Migrant Families Cross Border With Pandemic-Era Policy Set To Expire; January 6 Committee Considering Asking DOJ To Pursue At Least Two Criminal Charges Against Trump; McCarthy: Republicans Opposing My Speaker Bid "Have Not Moved"; Wall Street Markets Tumble As Mood Sours On U.S. Economy; Peru: At Least 20 "Dead In Widespread Protests Over Political Unrest. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired December 16, 2022 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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BLACKWELL: All right. THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: One of the most highly anticipated investigative reports of the year coming next week. Could criminal prosecutions soon following?
THE LEAD starts right now.
The January 6th committee putting the last touches on its final report. What we're learning about the eight chapters to be released next week and the vote on possible criminal referrals that could come along with it. We're going to speak with a member of the January 6th committee in just a few minutes.
Plus, judgment day for a capitol rioter. The prison sentence for the remorseless insurrectionist who chased U.S. Capitol police officer Eugene Goodman through the Senate chamber and see the aftermath when that 264,000 gallon cylinder aquarium filled with exotic fish exploded.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. We start today with our politics lead. Crunch time for the January 6th
committee. Members have just a few days left to conclude their final report, much of which is expected to be released on Monday. That is when we expect to hear how many people, if any, the committee will criminally refer to the U.S. Department of Justice and whether that will include Donald Trump and what those charges against him might be.
Today, we also learn federal investigators have accessed the emails of multiple close Trump allies who try to overturn the 2020 results. Court documents showed the list include Republican Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania, Attorney John Eastman and former Justice Department officials Jeffrey Clark and Ken Klukowski.
As CNN's Sara Murray reports for us now, the filings are giving us new insights into the federal investigation into the efforts of Trump and his minions to overthrow democracy.
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The January 6th committee working down to the wire.
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): I have a spent countless hours, along with the other committee members, going through the report and the appendixes looking at the footnotes, editing.
MURRAY: Members huddling behind closing doors to put the finishing touches on the plan they plan to unveil next week.
Chairman Bennie Thompson saying the committee will lay out its top line findings in Monday's public meeting, with plans to share an executive summary of the panel's sprawling investigation, and perhaps even the bulk of the report, if it's finished in time.
REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We have made decisions on criminal referrals will happen.
MURRAY: The committee also planning to reveal who they think should be held accountable, with referrals for possible state bar discipline, referrals for possible campaign finance violations, referrals to the House Ethics Committee and referrals to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution.
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): 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: Lawmakers especially focused in their hearings and public appearances on Donald Trump's potential culpability.
REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I think he's guilty of a crime. He knew what he did. We've made that clear. He knew what was happening prior to January 6th.
MURRAY: While the referrals will lay a marker for posterity -- KINZINGER: I think this work will echo the loudest is not even
necessarily tomorrow, not even if the Justice Department does -- it's going to echo through the history book.
MURRAY: Trump is already facing scrutiny from the Justice Department in its probe into the attack on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
Some of his top allies in the scheme, lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark all face investigations from state bars.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Mr. Clark.
JEFFREY CLARK, FORMER DOJ OFFICIAL: Yes.
MURRAY: Clark's home also searched.
CLARK: Can I put pants on first?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, you've got to clear the house.
CLARK: As he faces DOJ scrutiny as well.
An unsealed court filing saying federal investigators have accessed emails between Clark and Representative Scott Perry who refused to talk to the January 6th committee.
MURRAY (on camera): Now, I think we are certainly expecting to see Donald Trump's name atop the list of criminal referrals. Of course, we'll wait to see, Jake, until they get through this public meeting on Monday. You can see by all of this, a lot of the folks are already facing some kind of legal jeopardy or some kind of jeopardy when it comes to their profession. A lot of this is symbolic. It's important for the committee and the historical record to make these referrals public.
TAPPER: All right. Sara Murray, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Today, the insurrectionist who chased U.S. Capitol Police Officer Eugene Goodman through the Capitol on January 6 was sentenced to five years in prison.
Officer Goodman saved lives, letting the mob chase him, steering them away from members of the Senate. And the mob followed them for nearly 30 minutes through the Senate chamber. Prosecutors say Douglas Jensen scaled a 20 foot wall to break into the Capitol that day and demanded police arrest then Vice President Mike Pence.
Defense attorneys said Jensen followed QAnon and believe a storm had arrived and corrupt politicians would be arrested. Jensen did not apologize in court for his actions. Instead, he said he couldn't change the past and wanted to go back to being a family man.
After his time in prison, Jensen must serve three more years of supervised release and pay $2,000 in restitution for damage to the U.S. Capitol.
Joining me now to discuss, Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California who's on the January 6 Committee.
So, Congresswoman, we know you and committee are going to vote on specific possible criminal referrals on Monday. Just moments ago, "Politico" reported those votes include referring Donald Trump himself to the Justice Department on at least three charges, those being insurrection, obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.
Is that reporting accurate?
REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, I'm not going to get into that Jake, and let me tell you why. We spent a huge amount of time not just on what the code sections are and the bottom line recommendation but the facts, and I think it's really important when we discuss whatever it is we're going to do, we'll have a vote on it, that people understand the facts behind the conclusions we reach. And so you're going to have to wait till our meeting, but we have -- we've been very, very careful in crafting these recommendations and tethering them to the facts that we've uncovered.
TAPPER: Assuming that you do vote to refer some of these individuals for criminal prosecution to the Justice Department. If Merrick Garland or I suppose it's the special counsel ultimately decide not to prosecute Trump or Clark or anyone else that you may refer, would you consider your actions and all your time spent on this committee to have been a waste of time?
LOFGREN: Not at all. And the Justice Department has to make their best judgment on what to charge and whether they believe that they can prove a charge beyond a reasonable doubt, but it's very clear that our committee uncovered a wide ranging plot to overturn the election, to essentially overturn the Constitution that began well before the election itself. I think the public did not know about all of this frankly before our investigation. I didn't know about it.
And so I think it's important that we've laid it out, and I think the public understands the threat to our democracy, I hear that all the time, people come up to me talking to me about what we found. So, that's -- our job was to investigate, lay out the facts and then we'll make also legislative recommendations that might keep our country safer in the future.
TAPPER: There are two Republicans on your nine-member committee. I want to play something that one of them, Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois, told me earlier this week about his view of whether or not Donald Trump committed a crime related to January 6th. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): If he is not guilty of some kind of a crime -- I mean, what we've basically said is presidents are above the law and they can do everything short of a coup as long as it doesn't succeed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you agree with that sentiment?
LOFGREN: Well, you know, Judge Carter in California already said in his written opinion on the Eastman evidence issue it's more likely than not that President Trump, as well as mister -- Dr. Eastman, committed a crime. So, that's not a new thing.
We've worked very successfully as a team on the committee, Republicans and Democrats together, and I'm looking forward to wrapping this up soon. We're working throughout the weekend, actually, on some of the tag ends of what we're finishing up. So it's been a tremendous experience.
One -- I mean, something I never expected to be in on in all honesty.
TAPPER: The chairman of the committee, Bennie Thompson, says he also expects the committee is going to release the executive summary and eight chapters of your final report during Monday's meeting. Can you give us an idea of what that might include?
LOFGREN: Well, you know, we've gone in greater detail over what happened, really we laid out the basic facts in our hearings. There are additional facts and importantly, we will be releasing additional evidence through our footnotes through what we are talking about in the report.
There's a large volume of just raw evidence, committee records that were not possible to release during the hearings, and I think the public, as well as the press, will find that of tremendous interest because there are -- you know, there's some pretty bad things we discovered.
TAPPER: Today, we learned the federal investigators have accessed emails between former justice department official Jeffrey Clark and Republican Congressman Scott Perry of Pennsylvania. Perry refused to talk to your committee.
What do you make of this new development?
LOFGREN: Well, when they executed the warrants on Mr. Perry's phone, I presumed that they would get information that the committee was unable to get. The Department of Justice has tools that we don't have so I'm glad that they're not just letting it go. Obviously, we were unable to get the testimony of the members of Congress or the evidence that they possess, and that's one of the things we'll be discussing and talking about later in the business meeting, what to do about that.
TAPPER: What -- what was your response when you heard Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia over the weekend last weekend saying if she and Steve Bannon had been in charge of January 6th they would have won and also they would have been armed. She later said she was -- she was joking around, but we interviewed Sergeant Gonell yesterday and he didn't find it particularly amusing.
LOFGREN: Well, I don't think it's amusing either. First, we -- apparently, she identifies with an armed mob that tried to overthrow the government. Winning? I guess that's overthrowing the government. And better armed? There were people with assault weapons and other arms in that crowd. I don't know how -- what, machine guns? What does she have in mind?
So, you know, if it's a joke, it's not much of a joke. People died during that assault on the Capitol. I don't find it too amusing.
TAPPER: Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, thank you so much and good luck as you prepare for this final meeting.
LOFGREN: OK, thanks very much, Jake.
TAPPER: Next, no turning back. See the operation already in progress at the border to handle the influx of migrants determined to come and stay in the U.S.
And we have less than three weeks until the next Congress is sworn in. And the laundry list the current Congress hopes to accomplish and what might be forced to go by the way side.
Plus, tourists stuck as protests throw the country into chaos. Americans are among those stranded.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead, you're looking at two scenes at the U.S.-Mexico border. Just a few miles apart on the left, in Juarez, Mexico, migrant families are crossing the Rio Grande River, some are risking everything for a shot at more opportunity in the United States. On the right, migrants who already made it camping out on the streets of El Paso with shelters in that city already at full capacity.
And as CNN's Ed Lavandera reports, many of these migrants are waiting for the end of Title 42. That's the Trump pandemic era border policy that allowed the U.S. government to turn away around 2.5 million asylum seekers.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's 39 degrees and getting colder. This is Roberto Cordoba's first night sleeping on the streets. He says he's never experienced anything close to homelessness. He left Cuba last month and is hoping to get to Miami soon.
He says this is the first time in his life he's ever had to spend the night on the street and he feels completely lost.
A thin pair of New York giants socks and unlaced shoes won't being enough to get through the frigid night.
Everything that he's wearing now, the jackets and the heavy clothing was donated, people who have dropped it off here.
Roberto hopes there's something else to keep him warm in the back of Sandra Grace Martinez's car.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're on survival mode. It's fight or flight for them.
LAVANDERA: The long lines of migrants waiting to get escorted into the U.S. by border patrol agents has significantly dwindled on the Mexican side of the border, a sign that perhaps this latest migration surge has slowed down. For now with the Title 42 public health roles set to expire next week, officials in El Paso plan to bring in more buses to move migrants out of the city faster. The order allows for the swift expulsion of migrants at the border.
MARIO D'AGOSTINO, DEPUTY CITY MANAGER, EL PASO,TX: Whether it's Dallas, Denver, Phoenix, whatever that next large airport or bus is, it's to move them on to those locations.
LAVANDERA: El Paso emergency management outreach teams are helping migrants find shelter space at night but Albert Robles and his wife have been sleeping on the street buried under blankets since Monday night. Their bus ticket to Connecticut isn't good until this weekend.
He said the first night he was sleeping on the street, it was drizzly and cold. It was almost like a fatal feeling. He's been dreaming of this moment for so long there was no way he was going to turn back.
LAVANDERA (on camera): So, Jake, in all of this, it's a humanitarian logistical challenge.
City leaders talking about busing migrants to cities like Phoenix, Denver, Dallas, to get them to larger transportation hubs. And here on the streets, trash cans and sanitation needs for all of the people out here right now -- Jake.
TAPPER: That's humanitarian crisis at the border. Ed Lavandera in El Paso, thank you so much.
We had some breaking news for you now. A source confirms that the January 6th committee is considering referring Donald Trump to the Justice Department on at least two charges as first reported by "Politico".
[16:20:05] They include obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the federal government.
CNN's Sara Murray is here.
And, Sara, tell us more about the specific two charges.
MURRAY: Well, look, we know that there are at least two that are now under consideration. There could be more than that. These are interesting because what we have seen is when the House has gone to court battling for evidence, we saw a judge essentially agree that there could be evidence that the former president violated the law when it comes to these charges.
So it makes sense that this is where the House committee would go. You know, we've seen and there are other public comments and there are other public hearings. None referring to what judges have said about the former president's conduct so it does make sense that this is where they would lean in.
I mean, I think the question is, what would these referrals mean? You know, we know there already is a robust Justice Department investigation surrounding the former president, surrounding many of his allies when it comes to the attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th and efforts to overturn the 2020 election.
But, Jake, as we've been talking about, the committee does believe they've found evidence of a crime and they don't -- you know, they sort of felt like while they may not be in the business of prosecuting crimes, they can't just sit on their hands and not make that public and not make these sorts of referrals.
TAPPER: All right. Let's bring in Elie Honig, CNN senior legal analyst.
Elie, tell me about the significance of these referrals if ultimately the committee votes to refer Donald Trump on these charges. Remember, we're just saying that Sara is reporting these are two charges that the committee is going to vote on whether or not to refer Donald Trump on. Let's assume that they do. Tell us about these referrals.
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, Jake, there's no legally binding impact to these referrals. Prosecutors can and do take referrals all the time from all manner of sources. It doesn't require DOJ to do anything. DOJ does not need a referral to do anything.
However, this would still be enormously significant if the committee decides to make this referral. We would have a bipartisan committee of Congress essentially saying to the DOJ, we have done our work. We know they have uncovered all manner of evidence over the past year and a half, and we believe it matches up with these crimes.
And, by the way, I don't think it's at all a coincidence that the two crimes that Sara is reporting are under consideration. The same two crimes that DOJ has already gone in front of a judge and said not to Brianne indictment but enough to get certainly investigative material. And the judge agreed. They're trying to sing off the same play sheet.
TAPPER: That's the judge carter case having to do with I guess it was John Eastman's emails. Am I getting that right?
HONIG: Exactly. So, DOJ wanted to get access to those emails. John Eastman and others argued whether they're protected by attorney-client privileged. DOJ countered and said, yes, but there's evidence of an ongoing crime. The judge said DOJ is right. We think those emails are evidence of at least one ongoing crime, including the two crimes Sarah just reported which is conspiracy to defraud the United States and obstruction of Congress meaning to obstruct the counting of votes.
TAPPER: So, assuming the committee votes to refer these two charges regarding Donald Trump to the Justice Department, does it go to the newly appointed special counsel or does it go to Merrick Garland, the attorney general? And what do you think odds are either man or whoever the right person is would actually take up the charges and try to prosecute a former president, Donald Trump?
HONIG: So it goes to the whole world, Jake. It becomes really public. I suppose there are some parts of it that the committee could convey over to prosecutors under seal or confidentially. I think in the first instance you would send it to Jack Smith, to the special counsel. He's the one passed with running this operation, this investigation on a day-to-day basis.
Important that people understand, Jack Smith is going to have the first say as to whether there should be an indictment or not. But under the special counsel regulations, that then has to go to the Attorney General Merrick Garland. He has to give great weight to whatever Jack Smith says, but ultimately, Merrick Garland has to sign off or not. Whether they're going to charge or not -- well, look, we know the committee has provided a solid foundation of evidence. We can't know everything they have. We know more next week.
But in my view, based on my time as a prosecutor, I think there is a rock solid foundation here for prosecutors to move on.
TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig, thanks so much. We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: We're back with our politics lead.
Members of Congress have given themselves a one week extension to try to avoid a government shutdown, but that's far from the only things left to do in their final days.
CNN chief congressional correspondent Manu Raju is live for us on Capitol Hill.
Manu, there's a lot on the to do list. Walk us through it. And does Congress have enough time to do it? MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that is the
big question. At this moment, they are still negotiating a full year funding bill to fund the entire federal government even though the deadline was nearly three months ago, September 30th. But, now, they have a new deadline, next Friday to get that done.
And if they don't release bill text, actual legislation, the details by Monday, it could make things very difficult to get it done by the end be of the week. There is a lot riding on the table, roughly $1.64 trillion in funding across the federal government, $37 billion in funding for Ukraine.
We also expect changes to the electoral count act to make it harder to do another January 6th the way Donald Trump wanted it done in a joint session of Congress to certify the presidential results.
There are also other key outstanding issues. What does the House Ways and Means Committee do with Donald Trump's tax returns? They will meet privately on Tuesday to decide what next steps. It's uncertain what Democrats who will only in power for another couple of weeks in the House, what they will do with that.
And then, next Congress, such major fiscal issues ahead. How do they deal with raising the national debt limit? Something they decided not to do in this Congress. Funding the government another big issue.
The all key important question, who will win the speaker's race come January 3rd. A big question looming over Kevin McCarthy.
TAPPER: Today, McCarthy spoke about his challenge to become the next House speaker. I don't think he has secured the 218 votes. What did he say?
RAJU: Yeah, he acknowledged that. In fact, he said there are five members who have, quote, not moved in opposition to his speakership. That is further than he has gone before. If he has more than four Republican "no" votes, he does not have the 218 votes to become speaker.
And he ratcheted up public pressure on those five members, saying if they do not budge, their GOP majority, their agenda could be imperiled. He said the Democrats will win. And he said the things they wanted to do at the beginning of Congress will be slowed -- there will be a slow start. He warned that perhaps they would not even be able to retain the majority if this drags on.
So, this is all part of the escalation trying to get them to bend. He has met with them, heard their concerns. They demanded certain rules changes to give them more power over the speakership. They've made a little head way, but the conservative hard liners want more.
So, the big question, Jake, from now until January 3rd, can Kevin McCarthy win over one of those members to get the 218 votes because right now, he doesn't have those votes?
TAPPER: Manu, wasn't it a couple of days ago you asked him, you said, Congressman Matt Gaetz is one of the five votes against him says you don't have the votes. He said he did have the votes and you said, Gaetz says you don't. He said, well, who do you believe, me or Gaetz?
TAPPER: Did I -- did I invent that or did that not happen?
RAJU: Absolutely correct. He said, who do you believe, me or Matt Gaetz? And Matt Gaetz has said over and over again, he does not have 218 votes. It appears at the moment, Matt Gaetz is right.
TAPPER: But McCarthy is acknowledging that today.
RAJU: Yeah. Today he said the first five members have not moved.
TAPPER: All right. So, I guess we have the answer to the question, who do you believe, you -- me or Matt Gaetz? I guess, now, we know, the answer is Matt Gaetz.
Manu Raju, thanks so much. Appreciate it.
Republican Governor Chris Sununu just won a fourth term as New Hampshire's leader. And in a new interview with CNN's Dana Bash, she's making it clear his vision for the future of the Republican Party is not one that includes Donald Trump, but Sununu did suggest someone whom he thought could lead the Grand Old Party moving forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Given what happened after the 2020 election, the conspiracies, the frankly, lies that he peddled about the election and then what happened on January 6th, is he fit to be president again?
GOVERNOR CHRIS SUNUNU (R), NEW HAMPSHIRE: I just don't think he's going to be president again.
BASH: But do you think he should be president again?
SUNUNU: No, because he's -- he's done his time. He's done his service. We're moving on. We are. As a country, as a party, we want the next idea, we want the next generation, whatever it is.
So to say we're going to be a country where the best opportunity for our future leadership is the leadership of yesterday, that's frankly un-American. We're just taking the next step. We're moving on. Thank you for your service, we're moving on.
GOVERNOR RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: Thank you for historic landslide victory.
BASH: He even brought up Florida Governor Ron DeSantis unprompted as a stronger potential candidate than Trump.
SUNUNU: There's an argument to be made that someone like DeSantis could beat him in a primary today and -- BASH: Do you think he could?
SUNUNU: I think another candidate could. Yeah. Oh, do I think DeSantis? Maybe. I don't know. I mean, I really don't know.
BASH: Would he be a good president?
SUNUNU: I think Ron would be a good president, sure. I think a lot of Republican governors would be good presidents.
BASH: Do you think he would be able to connect with voters the way you're describing?
SUNUNU: Everyone connects with voters differently, right? I mean, I don't want to speak specifically to Ron. But I have my style. He has his style. Everyone is a little different. Every state is different.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And you can watch more of Dana's interview when "Being Chris Sununu" airs tonight at 10:00 p.m., only here on CNN.
Turning to our money lead, unlike the White House, Wall Street might not be so convinced that the U.S. economy can avoid a recession altogether. The Dow closed down today 281 points, this one day after its worse finish in three months.
And yet, top economists in the United States this week have been saying this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INTERVIEWER: You have said you do not believe there will be a recession next year?
JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: There's a risk of recession but it certainly isn't, in my view, something that is necessary to bring inflation down.
JEROME POWELL, FEDERAL RESERVE CHAIRMAN: I'll tell you what the projection is. I don't think it would qualify as a recession though because you've got positive growth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I want to bring in CNN business editor at large Richard Quest.
Richard, good to see you.
The CEO of United Airlines suggested that all this talk of a recession could actually cause a recession but he doesn't think otherwise one would happen. Might we be starting to see evidence of that, talking our way into one?
RICHARD QUEST, CNN BUSINESS EDITOR AT LARGE: The so-called self- prophecy, the self-prophesying recession. We've seen it before. Yes, absolutely, it's a real risk.
Scott Kirby is right. Eventually, you talk yourself into a malaise, a dizzying downward spiral because people are frightened of what's going to happen. So, they stop spending and that causes further downward spiral.
That is a real possibility, but a greater reality, Jake, is that a recession is more than likely, whether it's deep, whether it's long, how, whatever, but there's a consensus building that a recession is going to happen. Now, I'm aware -- I am aware that even by saying that, I am doing Scott Kirby's self-fulfilling prophecy. But there's no way around it.
The fact is, the economics are not good. They're going to get more difficult in 2023. Rates are going to go higher. Inflation is going to remain elevated, to use that horrible phrase.
So put it all together. Could we talk our way into it? Yes. Are we probably heading for it anyway? Yes.
TAPPER: I'm going to blame it on you if it happens, Richard.
Americans are saving right now, at least with gas prices. They're down today another penny a gallon according to AAA, down 14 cents in one week alone. Does that trend seem like it will continue, gas prices going down?
QUEST: Yeah, it should continue if it isn't too harsh a winter so heating oil and heating fuel and driving costs don't go up. It should continue but the unknown here, the exogenous event, the absolute unknown, Ukraine. What happens to supplies as a result of Russia's war in Ukraine?
If that goes really much worse, then all bets are off. If Saudi decides not to pump as much, all bets are off. I would say the risk is on the up side but, yes, we certainly should see prices moderating further.
TAPPER: All right. Richard Quest, always good to have you on. Thank you so much.
Coming up next, tourists stranded as protests throw yet another nation into chaos. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, at least 20 people are dead as a result of widespread protests in Peru after the recently ousted president, Pedro Castillo, tried to dissolve the country's congress, then was impeached and is now in jail. The country has plunged into a sudden state of emergency. Hundreds of tourists, including Americans, are currently stranded in the ancient city of Machu Picchu.
CNN's Rafael Romo is following this all. And, Rafael, this -- needless to say -- is a huge hit on the tourism
industry on which Peru really relies.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake. It was barely beginning to recover after the COVID-19 pandemic. The problem is not only rail lines connecting world famous sites like Machu Picchu, the world famous Inca citadel. It's also multiple regional airports that have been shut down and it's not hard to figure out why, Jake.
A group of protestors tried to violently take the airport in the city on Thursday. On Thursday, they clashed with police and at least seven people died according to authorities. The death toll now stands at 20 after more than a week of violent protests. Authorities say there are at least 40 injured but the figure has been steadily increasing despite a fact a state of emergency was declared Wednesday, and now, eight regions under a curfew.
Earlier I spoke with Michael Greiner. He's an American tourist from Washington, D.C. He told me he's part of a group of eight Americans, mainly college buddies and other mutual friends, who are now stuck in Peru.
This is how he described their situation speaking to us from Cusco.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL REINER, AMERICAN TOURIST: It's surreal to be a tourist in a country where there's so-called unrest taking place before our eyes. It is a whole new way of experiencing a country. The context for that for us is there's something bigger happening here than just our travel experience.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ROMO: President Dina Boluarte, who was the vice president who ousted former President Castillo, published a statement, in reaction to the deadly protests where seven people died saying she mourns with the mothers of those who died and feels the pain of families throughout the country. Once again she reiterated her call for peace.
Just to give you an idea, Jake, about how popular Peru is with international tourists, including thousands of Americans, according to the latest government figures, more than half a million foreign tourists visited the country just in the first five months of this year. Jake, back to you.
TAPPER: All right. Rafael Romo, thank you so much.
Coming up next, intimidation at the extremes in Iran. Protesters sentenced to death, even public hangings. How the actions meant to silence are sparking protesters to raise their voices even louder.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, the horrors of authoritarianism on full display. The Iranian regime hanged a 23-year-old protester at dawn Thursday from a construction crane in the city of Mashhad. Sadly, this is not the first this year. There was another hanging at a prison last Thursday near Tehran. The goal is to sow fear among the Iranian people who are speaking out and protesting and demanding basic human rights. The unintended result is protestors are making their voices louder.
Since protests erupted in September, Iran's government has killed hundreds of innocent Iranians.
We turn now again to Nazanin Boniadi, an Iranian-born actress and now activist.
Welcome back. What's your response to this latest crackdown, Naz?
NAZANIN BONIADI, AMBASSADOR, AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL UK: thanks, Jake, for having me.
I mean, I, the international community, all of human rights community and, of course, people inside Iran are outraged. Sadly, this is not a surprise. It's how the Iranian regime operates. All it has, the only tool it has is repression. And -- but people inside Iran are saying please stop calling these executions.
They're state sanctioned murders because the word execution, as abhorrent as it is, implies some kind of due process. And, of course, the people in Iran don't have due process. These sham trials and kangaroo courts. These trials are lasting in a few minutes where sometimes the prosecutor also is the judge.
So, you can imagine these people to are not -- they're not receiving any kind of justice. And Amnesty International has recently issued an urgent action. There are 26 protesters who are at great danger of being executed, 11 have received death sentences, and obviously with the vast majority of the members of Iranian parliament voting to kill protesters. That doesn't bode well.
And finally, I just want to say, Jake, that this latest protestor -- there's a video before he was hung. He's surrounded by two masked guards, and he's being interviewed by a journalist from Iran's state TV, asked what is in your will, what's your dying wish? And he's blindfolded and he says, my dying wish is for people to read the Koran or pray at my grave, at my funeral, but to play happy music and to celebrate.
And that I think is telling because the Iranian people, Iranian youth, are seeking in death what they're being denied in life.
TAPPER: Iran, the regime of Iran was kicked off the United Nations Council on Women this week which has never happened before. Obviously, that's not going to stop the regime from continuing to murder its people in the street, but do you think it will have any effect? BONIADI: I think it serves as a serious rebuke of a regime that
doesn't offer any kind of freedom to its own people. I don't see why the Islamic Republic should sit at any normal table, any diplomatic table with anyone in a normal way internationally when it doesn't offer the same for it to its own people. So it's a serious rebuke, it embarrasses the regime. It gives credibility back to the United Nations and to -- and integrity back to the commission of women because it was fast that Iran was voted onto that body.
And you know, moreover, it gives a little bit of hope to the people inside Iran that the international community is paying attention to their plight and is punishing -- trying to punish the Iranian regime in some kind of way. But more needs to be done. This is a great first step, but there are more serious actions that need to be taken. We need to exercise universal jurisdiction much like Amnesty's deputy director of Middle East and North Africa said, that these perpetrators need to be arrested to stop these crimes against humanity from happening.
TAPPER: Do you think all of the countries, any country that currently has a diplomatic presence, an embassy or whatever in Iran, should call those people back, could call their ambassadors back so as to further isolate the Iranian regime? Is that a good next step?
BONIADI: That's a really great question, Jake, because that's exactly what the people, the dissidents inside Iran I'm speaking to are calling for. Keep in mind, going back to the CSW, the Commission of Status of Women, those calls were not -- yes, the resolution was drafted by the U.S., but that's because the U.S. heeded the calls of women's rights defenders inside Iran.
So all I care about is listening to what the calls are inside Iran among civil society. Yes, civil society is saying recall your diplomats, close your embassy, expel Iranian diplomats from your countries because that's the own language this regime understands. So yes, I back them up 100 percent if that's what they're calling for.
There's other things that we can do. We need to expel -- we need to sanction the supreme leader. We need more sanctions. We need to sanction and really -- I don't understand why the kids of regime officials are still living comfortably and freely in democratic countries and then dissidents like Roya Kirahi (ph), or the daughter of -- a woman who's been shot 167 times in the back by this regime can't find political refuge in the West.
So we need these laws to change and support civil society in Iran and not the regime.
TAPPER: All right. Nazanin Boniadi, always good to see you. Thank you so much for joining us. We're going to continue covering the story, of course.
Ukrainian forces say Russia has launched at least 76 missiles on their country just today. Many of those missiles targeting key infrastructure. Why Ukraine may be seeing so many in recent days, that's next. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, tweet, tweet, boom. Twitter suddenly suspends the accounts of several journalists including our own Donie O'Sullivan as Elon Musk begins to slide down the slippery slope of content moderation that can become something else.
Plus, just days before they draft their final report, multiple sources tell CNN the January 6th committee is considering asking the Justice Department to pursue multiple criminal charges against Donald Trump. What might those charges be?
And leading this hour, no lights, no water, no heat. Ukraine's prime minister says that is Russia's goal after Ukraine intercepted a new barrage of strikes aimed at key infrastructure targets throughout the country.
And in the nation's capital of Kyiv, Ukrainians were going about their day when the blasts began.