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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Nearing Decision On Sending Patriot Missile Defense System To Ukraine, After Russia Threatened "Consequences"; Ukraine P.M.: Russia's Goal Is To Leave Ukrainians "Without Power, Heat And Light"; Elon Musk Suspends Journalists' Accounts For Reporting On The Ban Of Another Account; W.H. Zeroes In On Republicans To Work With In Next Congress; Jan. 6 CMTE. Considering Asking DOJ To Pursue At Least Two Criminal Charges Against Trump; CNN; Dems Panicking After Disappointing Black Turnout In 2022; CDC: 150,000 Hospitalizations This Flu Season; Survey: More Than A third Of U.S. Parents Say Schools Should Not Have Certain Vaccination Requirements; Netflix's "The Recruit" Creator Discusses New Series Out Today. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 16, 2022 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And the nation's capital of Kyiv, Ukrainians were going about their day when the blasts began.

CNN's Senior International Correspondent Will Ripley takes a look now at the damage done across the country.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Without warnings, a massive Russian missile attack targeting cities across Ukraine on Friday, who the military says around 40 of those missiles aimed at the capital Kyiv, forcing 1000s underground. Subway stations becoming temporary bomb shelters, train service suspended for hours. Scores of students like Katya (ph) had to miss school.

KATYA (PH), UKRAINIAN STUDENT: It's here about three hours. I was going home.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Ukraine says air defense shot down most of the missiles but not all. Several deafening explosions shock the country. The strikes killing at least three in central Ukraine, terrifying people near the points of impact. Thermal and hydroelectric power plants and substations taking direct hits, triggering an energy emergency with widespread blackouts.

Ukraine's president says all their targets today are civilian, mainly energy and heat supply facilities. As a result of this war, the meaning of the word terror for most people will be associated with the crazy actions of Russia.

Ukraine's second largest city Kharkiv also plunged into darkness, no light, no heat, no water, even no way to cook. Many forced to brave freezing temperatures just to line up for a warm meal. People need to be fed, she says, we're cooking on a wood stove.

Ukraine's military monitored Russian jets above Belarus during the strikes. Moscow and Minsk staging joint military drills in recent days. Kyiv warning of a possible attack from the north.

Belarusian President, Alexander Lukashenko, announcing his friend and ally, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in Minsk on Monday. Two strong mass strengthening their alliance.

We will never be enemies of Russia. We will never look disapprovingly at Russia, he says. If it were otherwise, we would be like Ukraine.

Obedience in Belarus, resistance in Ukraine. This democracy under siege, defying danger with a smile.


RIPLEY: I had this surreal moment at our hotel in Kyiv this morning, Jake. I'm having breakfast, the Christmas music is playing then you hear an explosion outside then the lights go out. And yet people who work there, who have lived through this war just kept doing their jobs, kept literally putting one step in front of the other. That was the story in Kyiv despite the explosions and the fear and 40 missiles being ended that city.

As for this meeting in Belarus between Putin and Lukashenko, they're watching it very closely here in Ukraine because they suspect these two might be plotting something early next year. You know, they said to the economist, a possible ground attempt to take Kyiv yet again. Could that be misinformation to deliberately directed to throw off the other side like the Russians have done time and time again, the Ukrainians too? Or do they really believe that some new terrifying next phase of this war is coming in the coming months, Jake?

TAPPER: Yes, the hammer sack ruse. Will Ripley in Odessa, Ukraine. Thanks so much.

Today, President Biden says he is nearing his decision on whether to send the Patriot defensive missile system to Ukraine. It comes after Russia has threatened the U.S. with consequences if the missiles are sent. I'd like to bring in CNNs Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon.

Oren, what are we expecting to hear this decision being made officially from the White House? And could the recent barrage of Russian attacks in Ukraine be related to any sort of impending U.S. announcement?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it's our understanding from having spoken to our contacts here that the expectation for the U.S. announcement of Patriots heading to Ukraine should come sometime within the coming days, perhaps next week at this point. But the process is in motion. Crucially, it is a process, one that runs through the Pentagon, and then to the White House. It'll have to get signed off here, then there. And as it works through this process, it simply takes time. But there's an absolute understanding of the urgency to get air defense systems and Patriot missiles over to Ukraine as quickly as possible and make sure they get trained up. And that in and of itself will be its own process, because these are complex systems with dozens of soldiers needed to operate them. And that in and of itself will take time for that training to work its way through.

We have seen the Russians used the delivery of American systems as an excuse to launch barrages right before the NASAMS were sent over, Russia launching its own barrage back then, and that prompted the U.S. to send NASAMS over even fast are trying to accelerate that process in any way could and perhaps that's what we're seeing here.


Now, Russia using the delivery of Patriots as an excuse to launch another attack against key civilian and energy infrastructure. Whether that bears out, we'll find out for the U.S. It's another reason why these systems are so critical to the Defense of Ukraine. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Steve Hall. He's the former CIA Chief of Russia Operations.

Steve, Russia is obviously ramping up attacks on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine using strategic bombers. Is this a sign you think that Russia is now entering this new wave of more ferocious attacks?

STEVE HALL, FORMER CIA CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: Well, Jake, I'm going to -- I'm not actually sure that it's that different. It might be different on some days quantitatively in terms of how many missiles come crashing down on civilian infrastructure in Ukraine, but I think it's part of a larger piece that really is the only piece that Putin is left with. And that is, you know, if you can't win with your forces on the ground, if you can't figure out how to get your military, your infantry guys and your tanker guys to talk to each other and have successful operations that way, then what you're left with is launching a whole bunch of stuff in the air, which is not particularly -- these are not smart bombs you should just landing wherever they want, except for the ones that they're targeting their civilian infrastructure and their energy infrastructure. So, I think this is just kind of more of the same from Putin. And I think we're going to continue to see this really for the foreseeable future.

TAPPER: So Ukraine's Prime Minister said today, the Russians have set a goal, as you noted, with the infrastructure targeting to leave Ukrainians, quote, "without power, heat and light." We've been reporting on how Ukrainians have partly been so successful in this war because of their willpower to win. But if the country doesn't have power, in much of the population centers, throughout the cold Eastern European winters, that could really impact Ukrainians ability to fight. HALL: Well, it's certainly going to impact the civilians. And that's where it's really hard. I mean, you've got that -- yes, there will be some hardening of the will, and so forth, because they're being attacked. But, I mean, let's face it, if you're a family in Kyiv or in another part of Ukraine, you know, you've got a hard winter ahead of you. It's a different story, I think, a bit with regard to the military on the ground, I think they're better prepared for it.

But really, what this all begs the question is, is how do you get it to stop? And this is why I think we have reporting on the White House saying, look, what we really need to concentrate on if we're talking about helping the Ukrainians is air defense systems and Patriot missiles and other types of weapons like that. So I think that's why we're having that discussion right now.

TAPPER: So, Russia issued the warning that if Washington gives Patriot missile defense systems to Ukraine, there would be, quote, "unpredictable consequences." Yesterday, I asked Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton about that, he had just returned from Ukraine. And I asked him about the, you know, what is really behind Putin threat. I want you to take a listen to what he told me.


REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Putin is a dangerous person. He's a dangerous, autocratic leader, but a lot -- he's a lot of bluster. He's a lot of bluster and he will back down. Remember his terrible threats if more countries joined NATO, two countries did and nothing happened. His terrible threats if America provided any support to Ukraine, whatsoever, instead, he's now losing this war. So, we've got to not be cowed by Putin.


TAPPER: Do you agree with the assessment that a lot of the threats from Putin are just bluster?

HALL: So this is a really tough one, Jake. Yes, I agree with the assessment that Putin understands that, for example, when he engages in nuclear saber rattling, which he seems to be doing, again, this catches the attention of the west and its leadership. As well it should, because you can't be a responsible western leader and just say, the heck with those nukes, you know, it's not going to be a problem. So, there's that angle to it.

But you know, by the same token, we also have to say, look how the Russian military has underperformed. You know, can they even reasonably pull together some sort of significant threat to the west, whether it's nuclear or otherwise? And then of course, counter to that, it only takes one, right?

I mean, so if he fails -- if he launches 100 missiles, nuclear weapons either in Ukraine or the United States, only one really has to get through to make a significant impact. So, although I agree we can't just bow before Putin is bluster, it would also be irresponsible for western leaders, in my view, simply to blow it off and say, nah, I'm not worried about it in no way shape, or form. You got to take a nuclear threat seriously, even if you think it might be a bluff.

TAPPER: Steve Hall, thanks so much for your expertise, as always. Appreciate it.

Coming up, Elon Musk is learning firsthand about the complicated balancing act of free speech and content moderation after suspending some journalist's accounts. Why did he do so? Does he have justification?

Then, new charges filed in the deadly mass shooting at a fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb. This time the accused gunman's father is involved.



TAPPER: Elon Musk is learning firsthand the difficulties of content moderation. A month ago the billionaire tweeted, quote, "My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk." But on Wednesday, he changed his mind and blocked the, quote, "Elon Jet" Twitter account apparently due to safety concerns about his family. Tweeting, "Any accounts doxxing real time location info of anyone will be suspended as it is a physical safety violation. This includes posting links to sites with real-time location info," unquote.

And apparently that included even journalists writing about this very story such as CNN's Donie O'Sullivan, Musk has inaccurately claimed that all of the journalists' suspended were sharing his private jets live location, saying that those reports amounted to as he called it, quote, "Assassination Coordinates." That's just not true.

CNN's Tom Foreman takes a look now at the suspensions of journalists trying to cover Twitter's seemingly mercurial owner.


ELON MUSK, CEO OF TWITTER: Everyone is going to be treated the same. You're not special because you're a journalist.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Elon Musk is on defense over Twitter sudden banning of several high profile tech journalists, including some of the "Washington Post," "New York Times," and CNN claiming they violated Twitter policy by sharing information about an online account tracking his private plane using publicly available information, what he calls "assassination coordinates." Musk says that is the same as doxxing the practice of targeting someone by publicly sharing their address and other private information.


MUSK: You doxx you get suspended. End of story.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But for others, Musk's actions show something else. OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: I think this is really about Elon Musk having very thin skin. And he does not like when people are aggressively reporting on him or his companies. And he doesn't like when people are very sharp in their criticism of them. And if you look at the group of people who were banned, all of them had that in common.

FOREMAN (voice-over): The new Twitter boss has posed as a champion of free speech, lifting a ban imposed on former President Donald Trump after the January 6 riots, freeing the account of Congress member Marjorie Taylor Greene, which had been frozen over coronavirus misinformation. Musk even tweeted just over a month ago, "My commitment to free speech extends even to not banning the account following my plane, even though that is a direct personal safety risk." But now, that account has been banned, too.

DAPHNE KELLER, STANFORD CYBER POLICY CENTER: It seems like he is making personal decisions and making abrupt changes in a way that is quite new and unusual.

JODIE GINSBERG, PRESIDENT, THE COMMITTEE TO PROTECT JOURNALIST: I think the actions we've seen from Elon Musk are extremely disturbing.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Without doubt the sharing of private information about public figures can be dangerous. And Musk recently tweeted that a man had confronted a vehicle carrying his son. But --

GINSBERG: Instead of going to the police, what he did was published a picture of that individual and asked his 120 million followers to identify them.


FOREMAN: And he included the license plate in that video as well. We asked Elon Musk's Twitter for any comment on this. We have nothing yet.

We do know this though, the European Union has taken notice of what he's doing here. And an official with the E.U. has issued a bit of a warning saying, hey, you know we have rules about that over a year, and if you take action against journalist as you did there, we may take actions against you and Twitter. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Tom Foreman, thanks so much. Let's talk about this with CNN Correspondent Donnie O'Sullivan.

Donie, let's start with your suspension. CNN has reached out to Twitter to find out what's going on, what you violated. Has CNN or you heard back from Twitter about why your account was suspended?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, we haven't, we've only seen the public statements from Musk. If I open my Twitter app right now I see a page that says you are permanently suspended from the platform. But Musk over the past 24 hours or so has suggested that that might be reduced down to seven days where we're just not quite sure yet at the moment. TAPPER: So, but just to be clear, you didn't post where his plane was?


TAPPER: You didn't link to where the Elon jet account was on some other website. You just reported on the fact that it existed and was out there existing somewhere else.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, in fact, a few minutes before the suspension I reported last night on how Musk had shut down at the Twitter account of an emerging platform called Mastodon, which is kind of quickly emerging as a Twitter competitor. Earlier in the day they had posted that the Elon Jet account was still on their platform, that's what that got them suspended and seemingly is the justification the bogus justification that Twitter has for suspending me.

TAPPER: And he's falsely out there saying that, he only suspended people who were providing direct coordinates or linking to direct coordinates of where the plane was. And you didn't do that.

O'SULLIVAN: No, it's just absolutely not true.

TAPPER: Back in April, Elon Musk laid out this vision of free speech on Twitter, quote, "Well, I think it's very important for that it'd be an inclusive arena for free speech is someone you don't like allowed to say something you don't like, and if they are, then we have free speech." Musk seems to be kind of doing the opposite of that.

O'SULLIVAN: Look, yes. I mean, this is a guy, right, who is presenting himself as a free speech, absolutist. Look, we all know the First Amendment does not apply to Twitter. OK? Even though some Republicans, some of Musk's supporters would like to think the spirit of the First Amendment applies.

He can do whatever he wants on the platform. He can shut down me, he could shut down the president as the former management did under obviously different circumstances. But ultimately, he is trying to present himself as this person who is all for free speech. And shutting down journalists all that happened just to cover you critically, but fairly, I mean, it's no coincidence.

TAPPER: Yes, I just -- I mean, just trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. He says, oh, Elon Jet, I'm even going to let them exist. And then, there's this incident where some person seems to threaten his son or thinks that Elon is in the car but it's actually his son's in the car and Elon, you know, Musk reacts. And I understand that certainly we don't want our -- threats to our family. But then what he did to you and some of these other journals, you weren't even linking to where the plane was.


I mean, that's what's so bizarre about this. He just doesn't even want coverage of this?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. And look, I mean, precisely, I mean, if I had a private jet I wouldn't love the idea of somebody posting this live on the kind of platform of where the plane is taking off and landing. But ultimately, that is publicly available information. And again, if you're the guy -- and by the way, just a month ago, he tweeted about this account, and he said, you know, I'm so much for free speech, I'm going to leave this account on the platform.

TAPPER: Yes. Yes. OK. Donnie O'Sullivan, thank you so much.


TAPPER: And now you can catch up on Season 2 of White Lotus, I understand.

O'SULLIVAN: Exactly.

TAPPER: You're not on Twitter anymore.


TAPPER: We're learning more details about what criminal charges against Donald Trump the January 6 committee may recommend. That's coming up.



TAPPER: As Republicans prepare to take control of the House of Representatives with their slim, albeit a majority, the White House, clearly not a haven of Republicans, is zeroing in on a new strategy on how they might be able to still get some of their agenda passed. CNN's Phil Mattingly is at the White House.

Phil, what is the Biden administration thinking?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: You know, Jake, look, partisan warfare is a certainty. Republicans have been very clear that on investigations on big spending negotiations, even on the debt limit, they plan to fight tooth and nail. However, when you talk to White House officials who are eyeing the New House Republican Conference, they see potential opportunities primarily through the lens of a handful of Republicans who really gave the House Republicans the majority. Republicans in places like New York where they knocked off Democrats in seats that President Biden actually won, districts that President Biden would have won in 2020, that creates some opportunities, particularly going in to an election year, which all House members are facing particularly because they feel like those members of Congress will feel like they need to deliver. Now, they won't be able to obviously control the House floor, that will be whoever the Speaker of the House may be, but they feel like there are opportunities to find issues. Maybe not big, wide ranging issues, but elements on certain issues, perhaps like addiction issues, on veterans' issues, things like that where they can actually make some progress forward.

However, when you talk to officials, they acknowledge it is still early stage. There's a lot to play out here going forward. They're making clear, though, that they want to know what these members are interested in, what they need to deliver on and what they're looking for. And they expect the President in the early stages of that next Congress to make contact to see where they can make some progress, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Phil Mattingly, thanks so much.

Joining us now to discuss former Democratic Congressman Joe Kennedy and Charles Blain, he's President of Urban Reform Institute.

Congressman Kennedy, so you just heard Phil reporting on the White House's new strategy trying to look at what Republicans might be willing to work across the aisle. Do you think it will work? Are there enough Republicans there? And will the speaker, whoever that is, allow that to happen?

JOE KENNEDY, FORMER U.S. REP. (D) MASSACHUSETTS: So, Jake, don't think it's a -- White House has actually been marked by when their biggest successes have been marked by that bipartisan cooperation. Yes --

TAPPER: We're having audio problems with you. Oh, wait, nevermind. Go ahead. Start again. We couldn't hear you at the top there.

KENNEDY: Yes, sorry about that. Can you hear me now?


KENNEDY: Hopefully. The -- what I was saying was that this was actually been the hallmark of a Biden administration, is working across the aisle trying to find ways to work with Republicans, knowing that some of those bigger legislative achievements, whether that was an infrastructure package, whether it was success on gun legislation, whether it was gay marriage. It just happen which Republicans at the table granted with a White House and Democrats in both chambers meeting that.

But with that cooperation, I think what you're seeing is a record of success when government actually works and when they can play to the needs of people. And what they're doing now is challenging Republicans to say, hey, you want to you want to work with us? You've got a willing partner and American public knows it, time to deliver.

TAPPER: Charles, what do you think? President Biden campaigned on his ability to work across the aisle with Republicans. A lot of his big achievements have been without much if any Republican support. But Congressman Kennedy is right that some of the big things like infrastructure and the bill to help veterans who suffered from burn pits have passed with Republican support. Do you think there will be a willingness to do that among the Republican House?

CHARLES BLAIN, PRESIDENT, URBAN REFORM INSTITUTE: I think to a limited extent. I mean, you're right, Biden did campaign on his ability to reach across the aisle. But the Biden that was campaigning then is very different than what we've seen over the past few years. We've seen Republicans consistently vilified over the past few years, I can't imagine that they're going to go into this Congress ready and willing to unit -- to just unify with Democrats.

And not to mention these that did flip some of these Biden districts, they were sent there to be an effective counterbalance. That's what those voters were saying. And so, they would be wise to not just acquiesce to a Democrats want but to push forward and stand true to what they campaigned on. So we'll see about bipartisanship, but it's certainly not the same Biden that we had four years ago, five years ago and further back.

TAPPER: Congressman Kennedy, CNN has confirmed that the January 6 committee is considering asking the Justice Department, they're going to vote on Monday on whether to pursue multiple charges against Donald Trump, including obstruction of an official proceeding on January 6, and conspiracy to defraud the federal government. You're a former attorney or maybe you're still licensed, I don't know, what do you make of these possible charges?

KENNEDY: I think, I don't want to get too far in front of the committee here. But I think what you heard was hour after hour of testimony 1000s of pages of evidence would reporting what the public saw happened and transpired in front of which was a sitting president of the United States incited a mob with the direct intent to obstruct the certification of an election and the transition of power, like full stop period. That was the stated objective. And I think that part is pretty darn clear.

I think, you don't have to say, well, if it's that clear, do we say that we all are actually equal under the law? Or do we say that because he was a sitting president, we're no longer going to prosecute. I applaud the committee for going as deep as they have on this. And I expect that there'll be a full and transparent discussion as to what that vote is and why and the specific elements that they seek to put forward to obviously substantiated crime. So, and I think it's there.

TAPPER: Charles, even if one assume -- let's assume, just for the sake of argument that they do bring these charges, refer the charges to the Justice Department, such a prosecution would be unprecedented. The counter argument is, so as January 6, that was also unprecedented. What do you think? Do you think if there is evidence that Donald Trump committed crimes that the Justice Department whether the through the special counsel or in any other way should prosecute him?

CHARLES BLAIN, PRESIDENT, URBAN REFORM INSTITUTE: I mean, if there's evidence. I mean, let's let the process play out. We know that the January 6 committee wanted to see this from the beginning. I understand that everybody says they want to just find the facts, and sort through it all. But there was clear intention at the start of this on what they wanted the outcome to be. And so now we're going to wait and see what the DOJ does.

And yes, I mean, just like anyone else in this country, if laws were broken, prosecution should be -- is warranted and should come, full stop. But we have to let the process play out. But I'm not going to say that we didn't see this coming, we heard it through the intention of January 6 committee, the comments they made in public throughout the hearings, we saw this coming. And so, it's not completely a surprise.

TAPPER: So Congressman Kennedy, black voter turnout was down in the midterms, Democratic strategists are panicked the black turnout being lower. And actually Republicans doing better with Latinos and Asian Americans and black Americans could hurt the party in 2024. How concerned are you?

KENNEDY: Look, I -- Jake, as the adage goes, there's two ways to run for office, right? Unopposed and scared. And the fact is that anybody running for office has to make that decision as to, are we doing enough for our constituents across the board?

And the fact that there's real concern about whether our Democratic Party is responding to the needs of black Americans, of Hispanic Americans, of rural Americans, of folks outside major urban centers and outside the coasts, good, right? We should have that pressure. And we shouldn't be doing more. Because if you look at a map, Democrats haven't done so well. There's a couple of success stories, but the reality is that there certainly is more we can do.

And so, if there's a tension there and a concern that we're not doing as much as we should be, I applaud that. And I put the pressure on my former colleagues there and anybody that wants to run for office as anybody that has knows you got to go out there and make that case every single day, right? And I expect you're going to see more of that.

And by the way, while they're certainly concerned, right, it's turning out to be an election that most Democrats that are national, and we're actually pretty happy with the result.

TAPPER: Charles, I saw a study that suggested that if Donald Trump was behind a candidate, it cost that candidate five percentage points at the polls. But if it was a Republican running without the endorsement and whiff of Donald Trump, it was two plus -- net plus two. Do you think it's time for the Republican Party to move past Donald Trump?

BLAIN: You know, I think it comes down to each individual candidate. I think as a base, when you talk to Republican base voters, they are starting to see the future and start seeing what the future looks like without him at the helm. And they are looking for candidates who represent their values and who aren't just out there parroting what his talking points were. And so I do think we're seeing some change there. And the tide will continue to shift as we head into this next primary cycle.

But just to kind of, you know, push back a little bit of what -- I actually agree with what Congressman Kennedy said, the Democrats have not done enough when it comes to black voters, their largest voting bloc. I mean, the message was way off this election cycle. Here in Texas, they failed to talk about the issues that were plaguing everybody from immigration to crime, they completely ignored them. There was no outrage, Democrats take black voters for granted and refused to go out to their communities and continue to court those votes. And there's no representation in Texas, we did not have one statewide black candidate on the ballot. And so you did see a decrease in black turnout. Because of that, and I think Democrats are missing an opportunity there and Republicans are going to be primed to pick it up.

TAPPER: Charles Blaine, thank you very much.

And Congressman Kennedy, I understand from reading news reports that you're under consideration to be the Biden administration's envoy to Northern Ireland. I also understand that you're not going to confirm or deny or break that news on my show right now.


But if this is your last appearance on this show as a commentator, Godspeed and Merry Christmas and Merry Christmas to you as well, Charles.

BLAIN: Thank you. Merry Christmas.

TAPPER: Coming up, new charges filed in the Fourth of July parade deadly mass shooting, the accused gunman's father has been arrested. Stay with us.


TAPPER: And we have some breaking news in the National League. New charges just announced in the July 4th parade massacre just outside Chicago last summer. Today prosecutors in Highland Springs arrested the father of the suspected gunman accused of opening fire in a holiday parade and killing seven people. That's in Highland Park, actually. CNN's Adrienne Broaddus is in the Chicago suburb where the charges were just announced.


Adrienne, what are prosecutors saying about the father's role?

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, the state's attorney, Eric Rinehart, called the father criminally reckless. And now, Robert Crimo Jr. faces seven counts of felony reckless conduct. This, for the role, the state's attorney says, Crimo Jr. played helping his son secure a firearm owners I.D. Here's more of what the state's attorney said just moments ago.


ERIC RINEHART, STATE'S ATTORNEY, LAKE COUNTY, ILLINOIS: Parents and guardians are in the best position to decide whether they're teenagers should have a weapon. They are the first line of defense. In this case, the system failed when Robert Crimo Jr. sponsored his son. He knew what he knew and he signed the form anyway.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BROADDUS: And George Gomez is the attorney representing Crimo Jr. Here's what he said in part via a statement, saying, "This decision should alarm every single parent in the United States of America, who according to the Lake County state's attorney knows exactly," and it appears he's being sarcastic here, "what is going on with their 19- year-old adult children and can be held criminally liable for actions taken nearly three years later."

If convicted on all charges, Robert Crimo Jr. faces a maximum prison sentence of three years. It is important to underscore, Jake, earlier today he voluntarily turned himself in to the Highland Park Police Department. That bond hearing is set for tomorrow morning. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Adrienne Broaddus in Highland Park, thank you so much. Americans are sick of being sick. New numbers about the spread of the flu virus that could provide a little relief as another virus appears to be on the rise once again. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our health lead, the CDC says cases of the flu are showing signs of slowing down in some parts of the United States. And while the number of people hospitalized with the flu has declined slightly from last week, the overall rate at this point in the season is sadly higher than it's been in decades. Joining us now to discuss, CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, is the flu season close to peaking or might get even worse?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't think we can say right now. I mean, there's been this significant sort of frame shifting of cases of flu earlier. We're seeing them you know much earlier in sort of lots of cases. We are seeing a decline right now. But also keep in mind that the biggest week have the highest week in terms of flu activity was the week right after Thanksgiving.

People likely got together, you know, and that's probably where a lot of the flu was exchanged and that's when the numbers went up. So we'll see what happens after these holidays, Jake. I think so it's a little early to tell. Numbers there look good. Hopefully it'll continue to go down.

TAPPER: A new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows that more than a third of parents in the U.S. oppose public schools requiring their children to be vaccinated against the measles, mumps, and rubella, oppose it. How concerning is this given that there's a trifecta of respiratory viruses going around right now?

GUPTA: Well, I think it's concerning right now. And I think it's concerning sort of long term overall, just the sort of anti-science pushback, anti-Vax, you know, movement. It's been there in the past. You know, we've been -- we reported on measles outbreaks before the pandemic. You may remember, Jake, if you go back, I think 2018, 2019 timeframe and say what percentage of parents were opposed at that point, it was around 23 percent. And now a few years later, 2022, it's gone up, as you say, to more than a third.

I should point out that, you know, if you look across the board at children vaccinations in the country, 90.8 percent of children are vaccinated by age two. So the vast majority are being vaccinated. Obviously, there's mandates to attend school in various places. All states have these sorts of mandates, but there's these exemptions. And I think you're probably going to see more and more challenges to these exemptions.

It's too bad. I mean, these are totally preventable diseases. We're talking about here measles, mumps, rubella, those are really effective vaccines. So hopefully, you know, we'll continue to have high vaccination rates against things that we can protect against so well.

TAPPER: All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, thanks so much.

In our pop culture, lead spy thrillers usually feature a protagonist with a sixth sense for danger and finely tuned combat skills. Netflix's new show "The Recruit" is a little different. The new eight episode series is out today and it follows naive yet ambitious 24- year-old Owen Hendricks played by Noah Centineo.

Hendricks, who just started his first job as a lawyer in the general counsel's office at the CIA in addition to being a charming bumbler. What's interesting is that the series is premised on a real and relatively obscure, at least publicly phenomenon, Graymail. Graymail is the term for the letters sent by former intelligence assets threatening to go public with state secrets unless U.S. government helps them out.




NOAH CENTINEO, OWEN HENDRICKS IN "THE RECRUIT": I'm Owen Hendricks from the General Counsel's Office at the CIA. We got your letter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Took it long enough.

CENTINEO: Yes, it's a busy place. You know that making threats against the agencies are crime, right?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I know many things, more than you, that's for sure. So, how long has it been, ha? Few weeks? Do you know how to use copy machine yet?

CENTINEO: We're not here to talk about me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happens your hand?

CENTINEO: I closed it in a car door.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Liar. I've pulled out in the fingernails to know what it looks like afterwards. CENTINEO: You seem really proud of that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shouldn't I be? Some of those nails were for the CIA.


TAPPER: Creator, showrunner and executive producer of "The Recruit" Alexi Hawley joins us now.

Alexi, thanks so much for joining us. You told me about the series a few months ago we had dinner. I'd never heard the term graymail before, but then I Googled it, it pops up in our in our culture every now and then when folks with access to secrets suddenly have charges mysteriously dropped in cases against them. When did you first hear about graymail?

ALEXI HAWLEY, ESECUTIVE PRODUCER AND CREATOR, "THE RECRUIT": Yes, I mean, it first came to my attention when I sat down with Adam Swarovski (ph), he was an E.P. on the show and also started his career as a lawyer at the CIA recruited out of law school. And you know, they call them the crazies because most of them are not actually from real assets with real, you know, intelligence information or classified information. There are people who are in jail for an assortment of things who claim they know about the JFK assassination or stuff like that.

So, the majority of them go nowhere. But every once in a while there's a real one. And as in this show, former asset who used to be in the Russian mob and Belarus has classified information that if got out would be hugely detrimental to the country.

TAPPER: One of the things it's also fun about "The Recruit," I've seen two of the eight episodes, and it's really fun is that you say, and I believe you, it's much closer to the real CIA than what you see in Jack Ryan or Bourne Identity. What gave you the idea for the show? And how did you do research on the CIA?

HAWLEY: Well, one of the most important sentences sort of ever said to me was by Adam at the very beginning of the process where he said that the CIA was not sexy. It was the post office with secrets, which I thought nobody's ever seen that version of the CIA on screen. The idea of it's -- at its heart, the CIA is a bureaucracy. It's a government institution like any other, it just has higher stakes and more secrets. But at the end of the day, there's still lawyers, there' still H.R. departments, there's still all this sort of infrastructure of bureaucracy that actually makes some of this clandestine work is fairly absurd.

So, I love the idea of sort of a catch 22 world in which you have this young lawyer, you know, right out of law school. Because you know, most every spy thing you've ever seen has been about a 30 to 40-year- old guy who's really good at his job, right? And so, this idea of a 24-year-old who's got roommates, who's literally just passed the bar like five minutes ago suddenly put in a world where it's full of secrets and hidden agendas, and he's just trying to figure out what's going on. Sort of wall running downhill as fast as he can, figuratively, just seemed like a really fun setup for a show.

TAPPER: Yes, but not only that, one of the things that's so fun about the CIA that you present in "The Recruit" is, it's a really toxic work environment.

HAWLEY: Yes. Yes.

TAPPER: Everybody's trying to sabotage each other.


TAPPER: People have panic attacks.


TAPPER: Also light moments, of course, quippy office relationships and such. But I would imagine, it's got to be fairly -- I mean, I've worked in places not CNN, work with was pretty, you know, pretty much a shark tank.


TAPPER: I got to believe that the CIA is actually like that.

HAWLEY: No, I mean, look, I think there's a lot of because of all the hidden agendas and also because of the idea that there's a lot of stuff that you don't want to know about what your associate or your partner or your, you know, the other lawyers are doing, there's a sense of, you know, trying to firewall yourself against other people. So yes, there's a lot of cutthroat. We sort of describe it as a game of never ended musical chairs where the way you guarantee yourself a chair is to hamstring the guy next to you. And so that's sort of the ethos of the people around him, which obviously, is what ultimately sends him to sort of team up, not fully, but kind of team up with this former asset because she knows things about the agency that nobody else is telling him. And ultimately, he feels like he needs her help to figure out what the hell's going on while he's trying to get her out of trouble.

TAPPER: Another theme is this 24-year-old trying to prove himself grappling with the --

HAWLEY: Right.

TAPPER: -- intensity of his job while his roommates are trying to bring him down to earth. Why focus on that specific stage in life, the transition from school to the workplace as 24-year olds?

HAWLEY: Well, you know, I think none of us could ever imagine being James Bond or Jason Bourne or Ethan Hunt, but we've all had first job. We've all had roommates. We've all had sort of a workplace environment that might not have been so healthy. And so, it felt like it was a great way to enter a world that's fairly unimaginable to most of us and to make it really accessible.

[17:55:13] And also, you know, he's at an age where he's just -- he still doesn't even know who he is. So to put himself in a world where now he's trying to figure out how the world works and how the CIA works at the same time, that he's still fairly dysfunctional, you know, relationship wise or anything like that. Just really seem like something we hadn't really explored before.

TAPPER: Yes, also a good way to get my teenage daughter to watch casting --

HAWLEY: Well, that doesn't hurt.

TAPPER: -- casting that actor. Alexi, it's a great show. I really enjoyed it. Thank you so much.

And you at home can watch all eight episodes of "The Recruit." They have just dropped on Netflix today.

Coming up on the Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, new pictures release showing the first time Brittney Griner saw her wife after being freed from a Russian prison.

Until Sunday, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @jaketapper. Or tweet the show @theleadcnn. On Sunday, I'll see you on State of the Union. I'll be talking to Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher, Republican Senator Pat Toomey and an exit interview and a Democratic member of the January 6 committee Congressman Adam Schiff at 9:00 a.m. and noon Eastern. I'll see you there.