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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Soldier: Ukrainian Units Are Still At The Edges Of Soledar; Putin Changes Russian Commander In Charge Of Ukraine War For Second Time In Four Months; Russia Credits Wagner Army In Soledar After Days Of Squabbles; Small Businesses Struggle To Pay Back Fed Government Pandemic-Era Loans; 2014 Police Report: Ana Walshe's Future Husband Threatened To Kill Her; Blockade Of Key Highway Sparks Crisis In Trouble Bled Region; Star Cast Hunts Down Hitler In New Season Of Fictional Series. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 13, 2023 - 17:00   ET




BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): He says they need help stop the enemy from advancing.

We need 120-millimeter rounds for the mortar, he says. We'd also be happy if someone gave us as a sort of prize, 23 mortars (ph).

The battle for Soledar rages on. Russian officials claim they've seized the town, the Ukrainian military insist they still control part of it. What the Russians now control under heavy fire.

Ukrainian tactics designed to make every step forward come at a heavy price. Despite the battle nearby, this soldier nicknamed Sova is certain of how the war will end.

To be honest, in the first days, I had some doubts because according to the news Russia has the strongest army he says. But since we push them back from Kyiv to Kharkiv, I'm confident that we can win.

For the few remaining civilians near Soledar, exhaustion. Nine months it's like this says Valentina flying back and forth over my head.

With conflicting rumors coming from the town, Paulina says her family is leaving. The soldiers are surrounded, she tells me. My sister who's pregnant decided to leave, so we'll follow her.

Late afternoon, a Ukrainian Marines prepare a fresh salvo of rockets. The battle for Soledar is not over yet.


WEDEMAN: And for an army that's on the defensive, what we saw was that the Ukrainian troops are pretty well, again, pretty well-organized and morale surprisingly high. Now, it seems the Russians are really throwing everything they've got to take this town for more symbolic reasons than actual strategic ones. And it seems that they are going to press this offensive until they finally do take control of Soledar. Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right. CNN's Ben Wedeman in Kramatorsk, Ukraine for us. Thank you so much.

Let's bring in Jill Dougherty. She's an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown and a CNN Contributor. Also with us in studio former U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine, Bill Taylor.

Jill, let me start with you, Soledar, just a small mining town, but obviously, it's a means to an end for Russia. And that end is controlling the key city of Bakhmut that took months for Russia to make even the small gains. And it's worth noting, Ukraine still controls about 35 percent of the Donetsk region.

The Institute for the Study of War think tank adds, quote, "even taking the most generous Russian claims at face value. The capture of Soledar would not portend an immediate encirclement of Bakhmut." Do you agree with that assessment?

JILL DOUGHERTY, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I do. I do think maybe what the Russians want to do is pinned down and destroy as many Ukrainian soldiers as they can in this battle because we all know that in the spring, everyone is expecting some type of offensive, so, it might be a way of just kind of destroying them. But I think, Jake, one of the most stunning things about this is this fight, this political fight over who actually, you know, is winning in terms of whether it's regular Russian military or this, as you already mentioned, the Wagner group under the control of Mr. Prigozhin.

TAPPER: Ambassador Taylor, two days after crediting, only Russian regular forces for the gains in Soledar, the Russian Ministry of Defense admitted that the Wagner group, this dark brutal militia spearheaded the effort. A top Ukrainian official says the infighting between the Defense Ministry and the Wagner group is, quote, "a good sign of the beginning of the stunning end." What do you make of the squabbling?

WILLIAM TAYLOR, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO UKRAINE: I think the squabbling, Jake, is exactly what Jill said it demonstrates that they've got problems. President Putin can't figure out what commander to keep. He had three commanders, he had four commanders, they've lasted three months each. And now he took his chief of staff, chairman and joint chiefs, he's got his General Milley and put him in charge of the battlefield. So, they've clearly got problems and this infighting between Wagner and the regular military is a symptom of that.

TAPPER: Let me follow up on that because what you're talking about on Wednesday, Russia's Defense Ministry announced a new commander for the -- this war in Ukraine, the chief of the Russian General Staff Valery Gerasimov becoming the overall commander of the campaign, as you know, that's an extraordinary thing. It's like putting the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Milley in charge of a war as opposed to running the Pentagon.


One Russia expert told us, quote, "It's kind of a demotion or at least the most poisoned of chalices. It's now on him, and I suspect Putin has unrealistic expectations again." Do you agree with that?

TAYLOR: I do. Gerasimov is the one who failed in the beginning. He planned that attack on Kyiv, which we know was a disaster for the Russians, a blunder, and Putin has put him back in charge. Why would he do that? It's probably to pin him in, pin him the destroy of -- the destruction of the Russian military is going to be on Gerasimov's shoulders.

TAPPER: And Jill, the Wagner group is led by Putin's friend Yevgeny Prigozhin, does Putin's army look weak, acknowledging that it's this private militia that has made the most impressive gains in months?

DOUGHERTY: I think they really do. I mean, today, as I was watching this, I couldn't believe it.

First, you know, Prigozhin says, we're the guys who took silver jar. Then -- and don't be fooled, there were no regular military in there. And then of course, the military say, yes, we were there. And then it ends at the end of the day, by the military saying, well, actually, we both did it because the Wagner troops, you know, went in there first. It was really embarrassing.

And I think to pick up on what Bill was talking about, you know, Putin over the years, not just with the military, but with his officials, he's always played people off against the other guy, so that he remains on top. But here, you know, I don't know whether he's actually in control of playing people off because they're beginning to play against each other. And that is extraordinarily dangerous when you're in the middle of a war.

TAPPER: And let's take a step back almost a year into this war, Jill. Ukraine's gains, when you think about it, have been remarkable considering how outmatched they are, at least on paper, Russia's military, clearly struggling. But if this drags out for much longer, there is a fear that allies could pull back on the aid that Ukraine cannot fight this war without. What can the U.S. realistically do to help Ukraine end this war as soon as possible?

DOUGHERTY: Well, I think provide as much weaponry as the Ukrainian say they need. Now I realize, of course, the President cannot give every single thing and there continues to be a grave concern that, you know, if you have a direct attack on Russia, you could be in a war with Russia directly. I understand why.

But Ukraine now has much better equipment, much better tanks, more tanks than Russia does at this point. So, I think that's -- that is the key to victory. They've got the spirit and they need those weapons.

TAPPER: What do you think?

TAYLOR: Totally agree with Jill. If we continue to provide the weapons and the all of this armor that's gone in over the past two weeks, Jake, all the armor from the U.K. and the French, the Americans, the Poles, this is this is going to enable the Ukrainians to take the offensive suit and they can disrupt any counter offensive that the Russians might mount.

TAPPER: All right, Ambassador Bill Taylor, Jill Dougherty thanks to both of you. Appreciate it. It was described as a, quote, "Classic Ponzi scheme," the new lie from Republican Congressman George Santos uncovered by CNN. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, embattled Republican Congressman George Santos is facing growing questions about a company he used to work for, a company that the Securities and Exchange Commission describes as a, quote, "Classic Ponzi scheme." Santos worked at the firm more than a year before it was sued by the SEC. But once it came under federal scrutiny, Santos claimed he was unaware of the fraud accusations and social media posts reviewed by CNN.

CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill with more of this which was uncovered by CNN's KFILE.

Manu, a since deleted tweet from Congressman Santos contradicts his claims of ignorance, tell us about that.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is from 2020 he was working at this company and a customer tweeted saying that this was fraud. He's -- the customer has called it a complete fraud. And Santos responded in this now deleted tweet saying that, "Our SBLC is 100 percent legitimate and issued by their institution." Calling it 100 percent legitimate. Now this was about a year before the company was accused by the SEC of being a Ponzi scheme.

Now, Santos later said he was completely unaware of these allegations. But he did say in 2020, before those accusations surfaced that he was head of the New York office of this company that he managed a $1.5 billion fund. Now this all comes, Jake, as many, many questions continue to surface almost daily about Santos' past, him lying about this past, admit he does a lot of those lies and new revelations here about this company that face these very serious accusations. And then he said he claimed he didn't know about these accusations at the time contending in 2020 that it was legitimate company.

TAPPER: And Manu, Santos is facing many calls from fellow Republicans to resign. Yesterday, Speaker Paul Ryan -- former Speaker Paul Ryan said he should resign, that it wasn't just an embellished candidacy. It was a fraudulent candidacy. How is Santos responding?

RAJU: He's still digging in, Jake. Today, he is not here. The House is not in session, but he's making very clear that he's not going anywhere. He's got the support of House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, who indicated that it is up to the voters to decide. But he does not have the support from seven of his colleagues including five from the New York delegation, one of which is named Brandon Williams, who said on our air last hour that the -- could the responding to McCarthy who said it was up to the voters, he said to us, he said he won by eight points, his message resonated.

But now the package around that message is falling apart and there are new revelations every single day. The same Congressman Williams contended that this was a distraction for his party saturating the market. And Jake, he said it's like an episode of the Tiger King. New revelations coming out every day. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

Let's discuss with my panel. Abby, the troubles keep piling up. We have the ethics investigation KFILE uncovered this classic Ponzi scheme, he's facing federal and state investigations, questions about how he was able to loan his campaign $700,000. Is this guy just going to stick it out do you think?


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR, INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY: I mean, there's really no mechanism to make him go. I mean, if he chooses not to go, even if Kevin McCarthy told him to go, he would be have to be the one to submit his resignation. And really, it just speaks to a shamelessness right now in our politics. And also this idea that he feels like there are no real consequences, I think he's also empowered knowing that McCarthy needs him, he needs that extra vote, with the margins as thin as they are, and Democrats really eager to take the seat back and have been a Biden district. It gives him a lot of power to hang on for as long as possible.

KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL ANALYST: I mean, it seems like he's been doing this his whole life, right? I mean, his whole life, he's been getting away with these various things. He just keeps going. He just keeps pushing ahead. And now maybe he has found, like the one career where you're not going to get fired if you do this stuff.

PHILLIP: You can't. You literally can't be fired.

NAYYERA HAQ, FORMER OBAMA WHITE HOUSE SENIOR DIRECTOR: He has run before for this seat, he ran last cycle, as a very Trump affiliated candidate, everyone, even including Republicans, at the time, thought he was a joke and didn't pay attention. No one really anticipated that the red wall would be made in New York districts. And suddenly he shows up and he's a member of Congress. He's having a field day at this point.

JONAH GOLDBERG, CO-FOUNDER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, THE DISPATCH: Yes, I think Abby hits on it, though, if Republicans had a 30 seat majority, Republicans would turn on him much more forcefully, but with a four seat majority, they just don't have the platform. What I find more interesting in some ways is that, you know, Republicans in New York State are doing better than they have in like 30 years. It's kind of like they found their groove a little bit.

And so you have these other Republicans in New York State saying this guy is ruining our brand, right as we're starting to fix it. And it's sort of like, you know, have a saner people after the midterms are like, see how all this Trump stuff hurt us and all these races?


GOLDBERG: They're thinking that this is a drag on the brand in New York State generally.

HAQ: Let's go beyond New York State because that's part of the Biden strategy is to show how the Republican Party is no longer normal and Biden and everything he stands for is the norm that will welcome independence. And so, you have Kevin McCarthy trying to maintain a majority to do what, right, what is he trying to accomplish? And you have to do that with someone like George Santos. It's an albatross around your neck on T.V. every day attracting cameras.

TAPPER: Well, James Carville says that the Democrats should welcome George Santos. It's just a way to continue to attack the Republican Party.

HUNT: I mean, how many times have we heard Democrats call the Republicans the party of grifters and con men? I mean, they use that because that's how they portray Donald Trump and some of the activities he engaged in throughout his career and subsequent political life. But this guy fits right in with their message.

PHILLIP: Although I think Democrats would rather have the seat.

TAPPER: Of course, they'd rather have the seat.

PHILLIP: I think they would rather have a seat. I don't think that they would take a George Santos as a boogeyman over a seat in the House. And so, that they are pushing to get him out.

But I also think, you know, we talked about the money, the money remains a huge problem for him. There's some real legitimate questions about where it came from. This is a man who --

TAPPER: But who's going to look into this? The Federal Election Commission?

PHILLIP: Well, I mean, I think someone's going to look into it.


PHILLIP: Someone who went from being basically bankrupt, loathing himself $700,000.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's not going to be House Ethics Committee, though.

TAPPER: Right.

HUNT: If you are criminal charge --

PHILLIP: That's a huge lie. HUNT: -- their financial.


HUNT: Right? I mean, that's the thing here, right? If -- we don't know, it's more than just, you know, perhaps you had some donors that, you know, the FEC is going to enforce that he violated the campaign finance laws, like when you loan yourself $700,000 that nobody can explain why you have $700,000. That's potentially tax. I mean, that's a lot of potential there for anyone to investigate.

TAPPER: It's just one member of a 435-seat body. Why are we so fascinated by it? I think it's because he's just so weird. It's just such a freakish, strange story. Something's obviously wrong with it.

HAQ: If you listen to his defenses of himself, whether it be on YouTube and the way he answers questions, and you try to connect the dots of how you get from A to Z, it is very difficult to follow him saying, well, embellish my resume a little bit, I'm not a fraud, I'm not a liar, and just keep going and digging this hole deeper and deeper. And so it's that psychology that we're watching unfold of this is somebody who probably believes what they're doing when they say it.

PHILLIP: It's freakish in a weird way, but it also, honestly, to me, it says a lot about our politics. This is someone who constructed a fake identity for himself tapping into all of these different parts that are kind of hot button issues. He's a gay businessman, Republican from New York, who's Jewish.

HUNT: Whose mother died in 9/11.

PHILLIP: And his mother died on 9/11.

GOLDBERG: Or on the Holocaust.

PHILLIP: And -- or in the Holocaust.

HUNT: I -- yes.

PHILLIP: It's like literally every buzzword he could think of. He constructs a fake identity and it works. And I think it really, kind of, unfortunately says a lot about how we shorthand politics. We look for all these triggers to tell us, oh, this guy is acceptable to the red team or to the blue team. And I think people bought it, hook line and sink --

GOLDBERG: A lot of institutional failure, right? I mean the Republican Party should vet candidates, the Democratic Party should do opposition research.


TAPPER: They did.

GOLDBERG: Yes, but --

TAPPER: Not well.

GOLDBERG: Not well.

HAQ: I spoke to several people in the district, many Republicans, and they said they knew that he was a fraud. He had run before, they thought he was sketchy and shady, didn't expect him to necessarily go anywhere. Many people just state out that is not a high turnout seat this year. But they said that at the end of the day, they thought that it was better to have somebody who was going to be part of their Republican majority. I don't know that Democrats this time would have allowed that type of candidate to go forward. So it does show the divide and the parties of what is acceptable and what is not.

HUNT: Well, and I think that this also hits on something that is really important and fundamental to your point about where our politics is today, which is that people are so tribal, they are so like putting on the shirt for their candidate and their party, that they are willing to believe whatever these politicians are telling them about how the other side is just lying and not telling the truth. And people are willing to believe it. And we saw that, you know, with Donald Trump. I mean, people -- there are a lot of people out there who have been willing to believe him when he says that Joe Biden didn't win the election. We all know it's not true.

TAPPER: Right.

HUNT: But that doesn't mean that there aren't Americans out there who weren't led in that direction. And this is a much smaller example, right? This is someone who, you know, we're not talking about who's actually running the country. But the phenomenon is the same. And the set of dangers, I think, are the same.

HAQ: And what the person is capitalizing on is that idea that the more outrageous the lie, the more we're like, well, you couldn't possibly be lying about being Jewish.

TAPPER: Right.

HAQ: You couldn't possibly be lying about who your mother is and who your parents are. Wow, it is that extreme that we're stuck believing it because it strikes us as difficult to understand how somebody could go through life this way.

TAPPER: Did you see, I guess, Congressman Matt Gaetz was a substitute host on Steve Bannon's the War Room.

GOLDBERG: I missed that.

TAPPER: You missed that?


TAPPER: But maybe you saw it. My point is --

GOLDBERG: I was shaving with a cheese grater, which seemed more attractive. But anyway. TAPPER: Right. Right. You volunteered for root canal instead of -- but my point is that he had George Santos as a guest.


TAPPER: And ask them a couple of, well, people say there's a -- you know, it was -- I wouldn't say it was the hardest hitting interview, I mean, he's a member of Congress, he's not an interviewer, but it just gets to the whole -- putting on your team jerseys, let's figure out. I mean, I was surprised --

PHILLIP: And George Santos --


PHILLIP: -- lied in his answer to Matt Gaetz, claiming that he's never -- he actually said in that interview that he's never lied about anything or never been accused of any wrongdoing. He's been accused of fraud in Brazil, and they're still looking into that. The -- to your point, he also said a while back, he was on with Lara Trump on -- in an interview saying that he attended the January 6 rally, and that was also another way for him to kind of signal to the base that --

TAPPER: Right.

PHILLIP: -- I'm one of them. I mean, I have no idea if he was in the ellipse for the January 6 rally. But just given all the other lies, it's worth --

GOLDBERG: He should get a gig working for (INAUDIBLE) as the most interesting man in the world because he can say anything about himself.

TAPPER: He absolutely could. But I mean, the point I was making, though, is just like, I was surprised during the speaker ranks when the cameras were working the way they're supposed to, and people weren't like talking to him on the floor of the House.

PHILLIP: Anything else were they going to do?

TAPPER: Ignore him because he's freak.

HUNT: I mean, I might have.

PHILLIP: Well, I --

HUNT: I do that.

PHILLIP: A lot of them were ignoring him, though. I mean --

GOLDBERG: For the first couple of nights for sure.

PHILLIP: Some people --

HUNT: Yes. PHILLIP: -- were talking to him, but he was a little bit of a pariah. And there were a lot of shots of him, sitting alone, not really knowing what to do. He spent a lot of time in the speaker's closet not coming -- only coming out to hear his name called and to vote.

TAPPER: Well, I'm just waiting for him to take an order to Dickie Greenleaf's head in the third act. Anyway, thanks to one and all.

Be sure to catch Abby on "Inside Politics Sunday" at 8:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

Coming up, a juicy tale of alleged corruption involving so called Mean Girls, business favors sexism. We're traveling way outside the Beltway for this one, but staying in the United States. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our national lead. Allegations of corruption and scandal are playing out in Anchorage, Alaska, after a city manager there accused the mayor of firing her illegally. CNN's Natasha Chen is on the story.

Natasha, what specifically are these accusations against Anchorage Mayor Dave Bronson?

NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the accusations are really wide ranging and shocking city leaders. It's all outlined in this 11 page demand letter written by the attorney of this fired municipal manager, Amy Demboski, who was fired in December after she says she brought up a lot of these issues.

And I just want to point out some of the highlights from this document here, some examples of what she's saying. She says the mayor at one point shut off the fluoride supply to the city's water. We -- a lot of our cities have fluoride in the water to help prevent tooth decay and she says he's not allowed to just shut it off. She says he pushed through contracts without assembly approval, fired an employee because that person wouldn't give a contract to a friend of his close associate. And she says he condone highly inappropriate behavior where people would tell highly sexualized jokes and in one case even passed out genitalia shaped cookies.

I also want to point out an incident in the letter where she says she wrote an e-mail to a male subordinate employee saying that his e-mail was sub optimal. And she says the mayor reacted really poorly using hand gestures. In fact, quote, "the male employee is up here and Ms. Demboski is down there." The subordinate employee is a man and making clear to Demboski that she wasn't to speak to a man that way.

Now, here she is. Here's Demboski speaking to our affiliate KTVU.


AMY DEMBOSKI, FORMER ANCHORAGE MUNICIPAL MANAGER: The concerns that I raised directly to the mayor, I believe that's the reason I was terminated. I think it was retaliation.


CHEN: We have reached out to the mayor's office so they have not responded yet. The assembly there like we have council members and other cities. Their assembly doesn't have authority over the mayor. It's a very strong mayoral system. Now, Mayor Bronson identifies as a Republican. It's a highly divided political atmosphere there where we're told that a lot of people support him wholeheartedly while others are now calling for his resignation. Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Natasha Chen, thanks so much, appreciate it. Turning now to our Money Lead. The struggle is real for 1000s of small businesses that now must start paying back 1000s of dollars in federal government loans that they took out to survive the pandemic. The CNN's Gabe Cohen reports inflation, supply chain problems, and staff shortages mean that recovery is far off for many businesses now facing these additional loan payments.


GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Teddy & The Bully Bar near downtown D.C., business post pandemic has never been the same.


COHEN: COVID close two of Alan Popovsky's four restaurants, government loans save the other two. But with city center struggling to bring back traffic his revenue is still down more than 45% from pre-pandemic and Alan says they're struggling to stay open. And now it's time to pay back those loans.

POPOVSKY: It's very difficult. We just got over paying back the landlord. You're just a hamster spinning on a wheel.

COHEN: At the start of COVID, with business stalled, nearly 4 million small business owners took out what are called Economic Injury Disaster Loans or EIDL loans from the federal government. On average about $100,000 in many cases just to stay afloat, 30 years with a fixed interest rate of 3.75%. And unlike some other pandemic programs, EIDL loans were expected to be paid back down the road. Now, the first monthly payments are coming due, most businesses will owe money by the end of January.

POPOVSKY: It's daunting.

COHEN: Alan says he owes more than $3,700 per month, roughly $780,000 in all, a lot of which he says he spent on rent and payroll.

POPOVSKY: We can't afford anything but what we're doing is we're paying interest only right now.

COHEN: So, you haven't made a dent on the actual loan?

POPOVSKY: Have not made a dent on the principal. COHEN: A new survey from a leading Small Business Association found only 36% of its members have reached their pre pandemic sales levels amid staffing shortages, supply chain issues and inflation. Now, add a possible looming recession just as these loans come due.

HOLLY WADE, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NFIB RESEARCH CENTER: It is more and more cost that they're going to have to deal with some small business owners, unfortunately are going to struggle and kind of meeting those obligations.

LISA KLEIN, PHYSICAL THERAPIST & OWNER AT KLEIN INTEGRATIVE PHYSICAL THERAPY: Let's open up your diaphragm here a little bit and see if it helps.

COHEN: Lisa Klein says COVID is still keeping some clients away from her physical therapy practice making it tough to pay off her EIDL loan nearly $1,000 each month with 80,000 to go.

KLEIN: We can't pay the staff but we'd like to pay the staff. The whole business is still suffering. And this is just kind of adding insult to injury.

COHEN: The Small Business Administration says struggling businesses can declare hardship and make small partial payments for six months. But interest keeps accruing, forcing owners like Lisa Klein to weigh short-term protection against a big bill down the line.

KLEIN: We have no choice because if we don't keep paying it, it's going to accrue more interest.


COHEN: And another survey from that same Small Business Association found that right now business owners are feeling less and less optimistic about 2023 and that potential recession, and Jake, all of those uncertainties are just adding to the stress of having to pay back these loans right now.

TAPPER: All right, Gabe, thanks so much for that important report. I appreciate it.

Coming up next, new information about that Massachusetts missing mom and a chilling death threat that she received. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our National Lead, a disturbing discovery in the case of the missing Massachusetts mom in 2014, Ana Walshe, the missing woman told police that someone threatened to kill her and her friend. Police discovered that the threat came from, Brian Walshe, whom Ana later married. The mother of three was last seen on New Year's Day. Her husband is currently behind bars. He's been charged with misleading police about his whereabouts around the time she went missing at the beginning of the year. Since then, investigators have found blood and a bloody knife in the basement of the couple's house as well as a hacksaw and bloodstains in the trash at a nearby landfill. That's an addition to the, how to dispose of a body internet search made by Ana Walshe and the hundreds of dollars in cleaning supplies he bought after his wife disappeared. CNN's Jason Carroll is in Cohasset, Massachusetts. Jason, tell us more about this 2014 police report.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, that was the report, Jake, as you know, that was filed on August 3 in 2014 filed in Washington D.C. because that's where she had been living at the time before she was married. And apparently she told police that Brian Walshe allegedly and this is again according to the incident report made a statement over the telephone that he was going to kill her and her friend.

Now, according to what we've learned from this, there was no charge in this case. This is a felony to make a threat like that. But no charge simply be because again according to this incident report the victim refused to cooperate in the prosecution.


Again, this is another disturbing detail, one that prosecutors currently are going to be interested in. But again, another disturbing detail in a case that's just really been filled with them.

TAPPER: And Jason, what's the status of the items that police collected from that landfill and also at the house with those, with those -- I assume that the items are being tested?

CARROLL: That is correct. Well, look, we've spoken to a number of forensic experts about those tests. And what we're told, Jake, is that those tests can take several days because what you have to do when, in the example of a hacksaw, for example, that was retrieved from that trash facility, they've got to see if there was blood present. So, there's a test for that. And there's a test to see if they can extract the DNA from that blood sample and then yet another test to see if you can then get a match between that and that of Ana Walshe. This can normally, according to experts, take several days. And if you look at the calendar, those several days should now be just about up, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Jason Carroll, thank you so much.

As anti-Semitism rises in the United States, a TV show on Amazon Prime takes a look at what would happen if they tried to form a Fourth Reich in the United States. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Now, for our Buried Lead stories we think are not getting enough attention in this case two European countries that may be on the path to war, Armenia and Azerbaijan are south of Russia between the Black and Caspian Seas. The disagreement is over a self-governing region called Nagorno-Karabakh. CNN's Nic Robertson shows us why a month-long blockade of a key highway there may lead to war.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Empty supermarket shelves in Nagorno-Karabakh a signaling a simmering land dispute between neighbors Azerbaijan and Armenia could be coming back to the boil. It's barely two years since they were launched that war.

We don't have medicines, this pharmacist says. No medicines for blood pressure painkillers, baby food, and napkins.

I've been working at this market over 30 years, she says. I've never seen anything like this. The market is completely empty. The recent round of troubles between the historic enemies fled 12th December last year, when eco-activists aligned with an Azerbaijani Government NGO, or non-governmental organization blocks the Latin corridor, the only highway linking Armenia with the Armenian majority Nagorno-Karabakh enclave. Thursday, Armenia said internet was cut, too.

RUBEN VARDANYAN, NAGORNO-KARABAKH STATE MINISTER: Azerbaijan continue trying to get full control for all the characters that they believe belongs to them.

ROBERTSON: Anger in the self-governing but not internationally recognized enclave is growing, seething crowds have been gathering demanding Azerbaijan back off. But Azerbaijan's President denies it's involved in a blockade, and it's claimed Armenia is sending weapons into the enclave.

The corridor is critical to peace. It was key to ending their war in 2020 when Azerbaijan scored significant success seizing territory. The problems are also deeper and more complex than first appear. Russia historically backs Armenia, sent troops as peacekeepers after the last war, but our Armenia doesn't trust them. Its prime minister met with Russian President Vladimir Putin, late December.

The most urgent issue is the crisis we have in the Latin corridor, he said. And this is the zone under the responsibility of the Russian peacemakers. So far, Putin is not listening. Russian troops just feet from the Azerbaijan eco-protesters haven't stopped them. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Nic Robertson for that report.

A new survey released by the Anti-Defamation League finds in the United States widespread belief in anti-Semitic tropes is at a level that has not been seen in decades. And that brings us to our Pop Culture lead today because in this age of rising anti-Semitism comes a provocative streaming series.

Amazon Prime's Hunters starring Al Pacino envisions a world where Adolf Hitler did not take his own life and where his supporters are trying to create a Fourth Reich in the United States. The second and final season of Hunters dropped today on Amazon Prime. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm putting everything on the line.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We fought these monsters. We fought them.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We hunt them down and kill him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If not us, and who?


TAPPER: Here now to discuss is David Weil, the Creator of Hunters on Amazon Prime which I need to disclose is a show I love. David, I want to talk about Season 2 in a moment, but I do want to start with how this entire concept of the show came about because obviously the Holocaust is an incredibly personal story for you and your family?


DAVID WEIL, CREATOR, "HUNTERS" ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO: Yes. Well, Jake, thank you so much for having me. Really, really appreciate it. And so excited to talk about the show and about where the show came from. It started with my grandmother. Her name was Sarah Weil. And this series is a love letter to her. My grandmother's survivor of Auschwitz- Birkenau and Bergen-Belsen. And when I was very young, she started telling me the stories about her experiences during the war.

She felt that her stories in the face of continued, you know, rising anti-Semitism in the 80s and 90s in this country, and Holocaust denial that her story was a tool, right? It was a weapon and a seed. And so, she needed to continue to tell the truth of what, you know, she experienced. And so, I felt a great sense of responsibility, a real birthright as the grandchild of the survivor, to continue her story in some way, to continue to really depict her light, her heroism. And though this is a fictional series, it encapsulate and captures the heroism of survivors like herself. And I'm just so excited to be speaking with you about it.

TAPPER: Yeah, no, it's such a good show. It's so compelling. There's a season -- there's a scene in the first season, where you see an inmate chanting Jews will not replace us, which is something that we heard from the Tiki Torch idiots at Charlottesville a few years ago. I wonder what it was like for you to see anti-Semitism and even Nazism gaining acceptance in real life. There's a Holocaust denier or two that just had dinner with President Trump, so many years after the Holocaust. Where it's really becoming mainstream, people aren't even trying to hide it?

WEIL: You know, it's so true, Jake, when we sold the show, Jordan Peele and I, back in 2019, and we took it around town. People were questioning its relevance, right? And, you know, the urgency of the show hits now more than ever, it's almost like, you know, because of the sort of widespread acceptance of White Supremacy, of Nazism, both in encoded ways and more, you know, doublespeak ways, and also more overt ways now that we see this show, the relevancy, especially for a wider audience who may not experience the kind of anti-Semitism that the Jewish community does on a daily basis. And has, you know, since the dawn of that Jews have been around.


WEIL: But I feel culture and society are catching up and beginning to see just how pervasive and how insidious anti-Semitism is.

TAPPER: And you also have a subplot in Season 1, and it's not a spoiler, but based on the very real U.S. government Operation Paperclip, which our viewers might not know about, but was a very sad effort. Well, tell our viewers what it is, Operation Paperclip.

WEIL: Absolutely. And look, you know, I'm a student of the Holocaust. My grandmother, my grandparents, both were survivors. It was a story that I did not know about until a few years ago, you know, just before writing the series, but essentially, the U.S. government after the war, brought over a number of Nazi scientists into the United States to help build the rocket, you know, program, weapons programs and place them, you know, throughout the U.S. in small towns and big cities to help our efforts in combating the Soviets. And so really, they whitewashed their records, and gave them a life of freedom and ensured that justice was never delivered to these Nazi war criminals, some very, very, you know, insidious stuff.

TAPPER: And I don't want to spoil any of the plot for our viewers, if you haven't seen Season 1, it's on Amazon Prime. Season 2 just dropped today. But there's an interesting question about here question that you raise in the series, which is more important, justice or revenge? Here's just one quick scene.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was even alive. Why would you give him up?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're saying, I'm a man of honor, I'm a cockroach.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can help you find it. I can take you to him. You'll find him on your own. Let me live. And I will bring you, Adolf Hitler in flesh on (inaudible).


TAPPER: That's the great Logan Lerman and Dylan Baker. It's a theme throughout the show. It's something that sits with you after the final episode ends. Tell us about that.

WEIL: Sure, you know, Season 1 in particular, the serious questions, what is the difference between revenge and justice? And if you have the opportunity, which would you choose? And in Season 2, we try and offer an answer or a thesis at least, right, which, you know, I think every audience member who comes to this will have a different point of view. And as you can tell from that clip, he invokes Adolf Hitler still being alive. So, Season 2 is very alternate history. It's set in 1979 with the idea that Hitler did not commit suicide. But instead, he escaped down the ratlines to South America. [17:55:04]

And the reason to invoke Adolf Hitler in this is that obviously, you know, in true history, he evaded justice. He was never brought to justice. As a Jewish kid growing up that that filled me with such fury. You know, he was not only the villain in the world story, but in my own very personal story, because he was my grandmother's villain, right in her own. So, you know, I hope by invoking him and delivering justice in some way this season. We get a sense of catharsis for the audience, a little bit of wish fulfillment, though fictionalized. And so, I'm very excited for people to tune in and see that happen.

TAPPER: It's a brilliant show. It's a brilliant show, David Weil, thanks for making it. Thanks for being here. Congratulations.

WEIL: Thank you so much, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: Be sure to tune in this Sunday to CNN State of the Union. I'll be talking to the new chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Republican Congressman James Comer of Kentucky. Plus, the Ranking Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Congressman Jamie Raskin from Maryland. That's at 9 a.m. and noon on Sunday. Until the end, you can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @Jaketapper. You can tweet the show @theleadCNN. We actually read them. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to the lead from whence you get your podcasts. All two hours just sitting there like a good giant watermelon.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM" after this short break.