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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Biden's Message After Bank Failures: Don't Panic; New Wave Of Heavy Rainfall To Prolong Flooding In California; Reports: International Criminal Court To Open War Crimes Cases Against Russia; CNN Films' "Navalny" Wins Best Feature Documentary; House Oversight Chairman Escalates Investigation Into Hunter Biden; Senate To Hold Confirmation To Vote On Eric Garcetti As Ambassador To India; CNN At New York Road Where Migrants Attempt To Cross Into Canada. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired March 13, 2023 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Who is paying to rescue Silicon Valley bank depositors?
THE LEAD starts right now.
America's banking system remains safe, that reassurance coming from President Biden after the biggest U.S. bank failure since 2008. Now other banks are sounding the alarm as their stocks take a tumble.
Plus, extreme weather closed to coast. A major storm bearing down on the Northeast as even more rain keeps California under water.
And border surge. Crowds try to rush a Mexican bridge to get into the United States, plus we're visiting a spot at the Canadian border also seeing a spike.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
And we start today with our money lead. And the markets closing moments ago, you hear the bell right there, after President Biden tried to reassure the American public that their money is safe. The president's remarks coming after two banks went under within a matter of day.
Silicon Valley Bank collapsed on Friday. That's the biggest failure of a U.S. bank since 2008, and the government of the state of New York shut down Signature Bank last night, claiming that Signature was on the verge of collapse. The federal government has since taken over that bank.
President Biden rushed out to the cameras this morning before the markets could open to try to calm the American people. He insisted there's no need for the public to worry, that their money is safe and that the economy will not suffer.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: America can have confidence that the banking system is safe. Your deposits will be there when you need them. Every American should feel confident their deposits will be there if and when they need them. Let me also assure you we will not stop at this. We'll do whatever is needed.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: The concern now is whether this was just the first part of a larger financial crisis and whether other banks or the markets will take a major hit in the coming days and the move by the Biden administration to guarantee that the funds in those failed banks has ignited a debate about whether taxpayers should continue to run to the rescue every time bankers behave irresponsibly.
Our reporters, analysts and guests are standing by to cover every angle of the story. We're going to start with CNN business reporter Rahel Solomon.
Rahel, give us the reality check here. Do the markets give us any clue as to whether we're at the risk of a larger banking crisis?
RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Well, there certainly seems to be that risk out there, right, Jake? And the reality is we just simply don't know. The big banks for sure are well-capitalized.
But take a look at some of the regional banks, sort of small to medium-sized banks. And, Jake, you can see a real sort of jitteriness among investors. I mean, First Republic closing down about 62 percent. Zions, we just lost it there. But PacWest, 21 percent.
You know, these are not movements that we tend to see in stocks. These are really dramatic falls. And so, the concern with some of these regional banks is they could be facing some of the same risk factors that ultimately brought down SVB in terms of sitting on customer deposits that aren't fully insured by the FDIC, and also the interest rate risks that we know was at the heart of SVB's failure.
Now, at the same time, Jake, I want to point your attention to the broader markets. The Nasdaq closed up. The S&P was up about five minutes before we closed and closed lower fractionally. The reason why is because all of this, all of this news that we're getting about the fragility perhaps of the banking market making some investors feel like maybe this will help the Fed cool it on the rate hikes when we hear from the Fed next week. So, a lot more to come there, Jake.
TAPPER: Hmm. All right. Interesting.
Rahel Solomon, thanks so much.
President Biden said that customers and small businesses who had money in those two banks should be able to access their money today. He also said investors in those two banks will not be protected. They will likely lose their money.
President Biden also blamed this banking crisis on a move by his predecessor, Donald Trump, to loosen requirements of those banks.
We asked CNN's Phil Mattingly to bring us the facts on all of this.
BIDEN: The bottom line is this, Americans are rest assured that our banking system is safe.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden seeking to reassure a nation on edge.
BIDEN: During the Obama-Biden administration, we put in place tough requirements on banks like Silicon Valley Bank and Signature Bank.
MATTINGLY: He also placed blame on his predecessor for contributing to this moment.
BIDEN: Unfortunately, the last administration rolled back some of these requirements.
MATTINGLY: Biden pointing to a 2018 law that eased some of the strictest restrictions on mid-size lenders, lenders like Silicon Valley Bank.
BIDEN: I'm going to ask Congress and the banking regulators to strengthen the rules for banks to make it less likely this kind of bank failure will happen again.
MATTINGLY: Biden's new regulatory push framing a new crisis moment --
BIDEN: Treasury Secretary Yellen and a team of bank regulators have taken action.
MATTINGLY: -- just hours after the administration's top finance officials triggered a dramatic show of dual-pronged government force. The action designed to halt financial contagion that threatened to rip through the bank system after the failure of Silicon Valley Bank. The bank's failure on Friday risking a cascade of events that threatened financial stability with a second bank failure Sunday and several more institutions on the brink officials said.
BIDEN: When we learned of the problems of the bank and the impact they could have on jobs, small businesses and banking systems overall, I instructed my team to act quickly to protect these interests.
MATTINGLY: Nine-three percent of Silicon Valley Bank's deposits above the $250,000 deposit insurance limit.
JANET YELLEN, TREASURY SECRETARY: I've been working all weekend with our banking regulators to design appropriate policies to address this situation.
MATTINGLY: Leaving thousands of small businesses and individuals at risk. BIDEN: I instructed my team to act quickly to protect these
interests. They've done that.
MATTINGLY: But the speed of the crisis and a potential systemic effects marking a jarring term for an industry viewed as stable and well-capitalized.
BIDEN: There are important questions as to how these banks got into this circumstance in the first place. We must get a full accounting of what happened and why those responsible can be held accountable.
MATTINGLY: And setting the stage for an equally unpredictable political fallout in the days ahead as officials move quickly to try to separate their actions from the politically toxic bailouts of the 2008 financial crisis.
BIDEN: No losses -- this is an important point, no loss also be borne by the taxpayers.
MATTINGLY: And, Jake, Rahel was pointing to regional banks and what's happening to them in the equity markets. They're not the only ones that are watching those banks right now. The White House, the Treasury Department also paying very close attention to mid-sized and small lenders trying to ensure there is no contagion.
One thing to pay attention to, though, when you talk to officials, they made clear, yes, they see what's happening in the stock market, but there's also the issue of liquidity. They believe that these banks have had access to liquidity in part, in large part because of the efforts over the weekend. They believe that is a positive sign, but still obviously a bumpy road ahead, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly at the White House for us, thanks so much.
Let's bring in Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody's Analytics.
Mark, you just heard President Biden blaming these failures in part on Donald Trump for rolling back financial regulations in 2018. Is that an accurate claim? Is that part of what went wrong here?
MARK ZANDI, CHIEF ECONOMIST, MOODY'S ANALYTICS: Well, Jake, it certainly didn't help. I mean, if Silicon Valley Bank had taken the stress test like the larger banks had done, they may have uncovered the kind of fault lines in the bank and the problems that the banks are facing.
Not a guarantee. I mean, these are only simulations. You test the bank under different scenarios. So who knows? But it certainly didn't help.
TAPPER: Should Americans across the country watching us right now be worried about their money?
ZANDI: No, I don't -- obviously not. Not at this point. I mean, the president has come in and said, look, what's happened here is a systemic problem of the entire banking system. So, if you're a depositor in the bank, whether below 250k in deposits or above 250k in deposits, your money good, you're going to get your money out at this point in time. So, I don't think there's anything to worry about here at all.
TAPPER: What's the difference between the big bank bailouts we saw in 2008 and what the government is doing now?
ZANDI: Well, one thing is the scale. What we're talking about here is a few banks that got into trouble, and back in the financial crisis, it was nearly every bank got into trouble, not only here in the United States but all over the globe. And it wasn't, you know, a few hundred billions of dollars at risk. It was trillions of dollars at risk. So, the scale here is very, very different. No comparison.
TAPPER: So, it was Silicon Valley Bank, then signature bank last night. Do you expect any other banks to be shut down or to collapse?
ZANDI: Hard to know. I don't know for sure. I doubt it, though. Certainly no big, large institutions. I don't think that's going to happen. You know, these banks were very idiosyncratic. They were connected closely to the boom and bust in the tech sector, the crypto markets that suffered a big crash not long ago.
Very, very different kind of banks here. Their deposit base is very different than the deposit base of most banks and financial institutions, so no. Of course, we're in a world of high interest rates and rising interest rates so that does put pressure on the financial system, which, by the way, is by design. You know, the Federal Reserve is trying to slow things down, but those rate hikes are putting pressure on the system. When you're in that kind of environment, things can happen. But I don't think it's going to spread anywhere, certainly not given what the administration, Federal Reserve and Treasury has done.
TAPPER: All right. Mark Zandi, thank you so much for your insight. Appreciate it.
Here to discuss, Democratic Congressman, Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, who's on the House Financial Services Committee.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
Today, former ambassador --
REP. JOSH GOTTHEIMER (D-NJ): Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: -- and Republican presidential hopeful Nikki Haley tweeted, quote, Joe Biden is pretending this isn't a bailout. It is.
Now, depositors at healthy banks are forced to subsidize Silicon Valley Bank's mismanagement when the deposit insurance fund runs dry. All bank customers are on the hook. That's a public bailout. Depositors should be paid by selling off Silicon Valley bank's assets, not by the public, unquote. [16:10:03]
Does Ambassador Haley have a point? Is this a bailout in the way?
GOTTHEIMER: This is about. I disagree. I mean, this is about protecting depositors at banks across the country. And, of course, it starts with -- it's a systemic issue as the Fed and Treasury pointed out.
If we let depositors feel across the country in small and medium-sized banks, small businesses, regular folks feel they can't trust the money they're putting in their local banks, the whole system will fail. And, frankly, Jake, that's exactly what I'm worried about here. I heard this today, that people are pulling their money out because they're worried their deposits won't be there when they need to go get them, when they need to make payroll, when they need to pay their bills.
And you can't have a system that we go back to 2008, 2009, pre-Dodd- Frank where you have a few banks with the all the concentrated dollars in the country, and the regional and small and medium sized banks dying. You know, you go from a system that's too big to fail to a system where you got small banks that are too small to survive and then we've got a real problem in this country.
TAPPER: So, today, President Biden placed some of the blame on this move by President Trump and Republicans in Congress to roll back some of the financial regulations in 2018. I think it was some of the Dodd- Frank regulations.
You just heard Mark Zandi say that that change, that weakening of the financial regulations didn't help what happened in the last few days. I should note you joined Republicans in passing that bill. Do you regret it?
GOTTHEIMER: No. For the same reason that I -- you had a set of rules that literally applied to the largest institutions in the country and also to our small and medium size and regional banks, it was impossible. They were all actually merging and selling to the larger banks and you had no community banks left in this country. You need good community healthy banks for local businesses, and for families and for farms. You need that. It's really important.
What happened in the Silicon Bank situation was their investments weren't smart, right? So they had put a ton of their money -- they had plenty of -- their balance sheet was strong, the ratios from their holdings were strong. The issue is they put so much of their money that had been deposited into longer term treasuries, and as interest rates went up, of course, the value of those treasuries went down. And then when everybody -- this is a classic run on the bank and everybody wanted their money out in a few hours, there wasn't enough money to give because they wanted it to so fast.
So, the FDIC and OCC and other regulators in my opinion should have caught that. They should have said, wait a second, the asset mix here doesn't make sense. It's at risk. They're concentrated in a few industries like tech which has faced headwinds. So, to me, this was a matter of we should have had regulators on top
of that. It brings the larger point now of making sure systematically, we don't have everyone running to banks -- I've heard a lot of people are lining up at other smaller banks in the country that have nothing to do with this saying, wait a minute, give me my money back, I'm going to put my money in bigger banks.
If we roll back the clock to where we are 15 years ago and have a few banks with the concentrated wealth that are too big to fail again, we'll be right back where we started from before we tried to diversify across the country.
TAPPER: Well, I think the issue is that perhaps Silicon Valley Bank would have realized what was going on if they were forced to do the stress test that had been required of them after Dodd-Frank became law, but before it was undercut in 2018.
I want to get your reaction to something President Biden said this morning about the role of you and Congress in all of this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BIDEN: I'm going to ask Congress and the banking regulators to strengthen the rules for banks to make it less likely this kind of bank failure would happen again and to protect American jobs and small businesses.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: What do you see as your job as a lawmaker moving forward to make sure these kinds of failures don't happen again?
GOTTHEIMER: Well, I think, one, we need to make sure we look at the FDIC and OCC and make sure they're on top of these banks and look at their asset mixes now to make sure they're okay. Secondly, you know, I've called for raising the FDIC limits, the $250,000, obviously adjusting it to the world we're living in now.
Depositors need to feel safe, right? And, of course, these are not, as we pointed out, the taxpayers don't hold the bag on this. The banks do if there's a problem. Frankly, they should have higher insurance so people should feel safe if they have their money there.
I talked to a non-profit this morning pulling their money out of a local bank who said it's just too much risk. This is small businesses, non-profits that have more than $250,000 saved up. We have to make them feel okay in the greatest country that we live in to be able to deposit money and know it will be there when they take it out. To me, that's the most important thing we reassure people, they can know the money is there.
Obviously, the Treasury and Fed stepped in and made the point last night which is great.
But we need to make sure that everybody can feel that their money is safe.
TAPPER: All right. Democratic Congressman Josh Gottheimer of New Jersey, also on the House Financial Services Committee, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
GOTTHEIMER: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Ahead, the new subpoena from House Republicans as they try to follow the money behind business dealings of President Biden's son, Hunter Biden.
Plus, arrest warrants reportedly in the works as an International Criminal Court investigates the actions of Putin's forces in Ukraine.
But, first, the havoc in the hours to come from two storms on two different coasts.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our national lead, a major winter storm is forming across parts of the northeastern United States tonight. Heavy snow, strong winds and coastal flooding are expected. New England could see as much as 30 inches of snow at the highest elevations.
On the West Coast of the United States, flooded communities in northern California are bracing for yet another wave of heavy rainfall, especially in Monterey County, where, as CNN's Veronica Miracle reports for us now, a levee breached by a swollen river forced hundreds of evacuations and water rescues over the weekend.
VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Storm-battered California is getting hit by another atmospheric river, more than 18 million people under flood alerts. At least 11 such river events have hit the U.S. west this winter.
Late last week and over the weekend, some places across California saw over a foot of rainfall.
SHERIFF TINA NIETO, MONTEREY COUNTY: These two events we're going through are much different than the January events. The January event was atmospheric river after atmospheric river after atmospheric river. These events are much shorter, much more intense. Flooding may occur but the flooding is not going to continue.
MIRACLE: This drone video shows flooding in the central coast region of California after the Pajaro River breached a levee. Now, Monterey Peninsula residents could soon find themselves on a virtual island cut off from the rest of the county by the flood waters.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Fire department! MIRACLE: This right video shows firefighters going board to door, trying to wake people in the area, warning them if they didn't leave, they could get trapped.
CURTIS RHODES, CAL FIRE: Some of the water across the road is 4 to 5 feet right now and your standard vehicle cannot get across it.
MIRACLE: Another evacuation warning for people along some areas of the San Joaquin River.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's going to get higher. It's going to get higher this time.
MIRACLE: From excessive rainfall to heavy snowfall, people living near the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range are dealing with a deluge of snow leading to dangerous road conditions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That was a white-knuckle experience.
MIRACLE: The heavy snow causing a South Lake Tahoe store's roof to collapse.
ERICKA MURPHY, MANTECA, CALIFORNIA RESIDENT: We knew there was a lot of snow on the rooftops. We didn't expect it because we didn't hear anything about it as we were staying just across the street.
MIRACLE (on camera): And, Jake, I spoke with the Monterey County sheriff who told me over the last couple days in her county, they've had to perform over 200 rescues, some of those because people refused to leave their homes and some of those rescues because the water levels rose too quickly. She said it will get worse before it gets better. They are concerned they will have to perform more of those rescues -- Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Veronica Miracle in California for us, thank you so much.
Next, the two specific areas of focus as the International Criminal Court reportedly moves forward on war crimes charges tied to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Topping our world lead, for the first time since the start of Putin's war, the International Criminal Court plans to open war crimes cases against Russia and is looking to arrest several people, according to "The New York Times" and "Reuters".
Let's get right to CNN's Ivan Watson, who's in eastern Ukraine for us. And, Ivan, the cases reportedly focus on the abduction of Ukrainian
children as well as Russian attacks on infrastructure. What are you hearing from Ukrainian officials?
IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, a senior Ukrainian official tells CNN that the Ukrainian government has been pushing the international criminal court for some time to open some kind of cases. They want accountability for what they say are war crimes. And they say this should go all the way to the very top, that they think Putin should be the focus of this.
The reporting from "The New York Times" and "Reuters" says that the ICC is ready to issue some arrest warrants and open these cases. Again, talking about the abduction -- alleged abduction of Ukrainian children and this kind of systematic targeting of the Ukrainian electric and water infrastructure, types of attacks we saw just a couple days ago across the country.
TAPPER: And, Ivan, we're also hearing about significant Russian casualties in the eastern hotspot of Bakhmut, specifically among that private Russian mercenary Wagner Group.
What does their leader, Yevgeny Prigozhin have to say?
WATSON: Well, he keeps saying that his mercenaries are making incremental progress into that city of Bakhmut, but the Ukrainians are also vowing to defend what they control there. The fighting is furious. We're hearing from Ukrainian commanders it's in very close quarters, they're fighting trench to trench.
There's a huge metallurgical plant there called Azov, and we're hearing from both sides that fighting is taking place there, including from one Russian source claiming that it's under ground in some of the mine network underneath that. The fact is that both sides are sacrificing, troops killed and maimed in this battle, probably along a very long front line where people are dying on both sides, all along it. Civilians, sadly, included dying as a result of the artillery flying in both directions, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Ivan Watson in eastern Ukraine for us, thank you so much.
Turning to our pop culture lead now, it was a night of firsts at an emotional Academy Awards, including CNN's first Oscar win as the best documentary feature went to "Navalny," a documentary that detailed the gripping and dangerous endeavor to uncover the plot to assassinate Putin critic Alexei Navalny.
Navalny, of course, currently in solitary confinement in a Russian prison. The film was produced by HBO Max and CNN Films. Navalny's wife Yulia accepted the award on his behalf. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YULIA NAVALNY, ALEXEI NAVALNY'S WIFE: My husband is in prison just for defending democracy. Alexei, I'm dreaming the day when you will be free and our country
will be free. Stay strong, my love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Very moving moment.
CNN's chief international correspondent Clarissa Ward, of course, has been integral in the courageous reporting featured in the film and joins us now.
Putin is probably not thrilled about this?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I think that's putting it mildly, Jake. I mean, we did hear from the Kremlin spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, this morning who said that he hasn't even seen the film but he's sure that it's been overly politicized. He said the Oscars are fond of politicizing things.
But keep in mind, traditionally, President Putin can't even bring himself to actually say Alexei Navalny's name. He would refer to him dismissively as the patient in Berlin or the blogger. But there can be no question that Alexei Navalny has dealt a real blow to the credibility of the Kremlin but also the credibility of its security services which were so humiliated as you see documented in this documentary "Navalny."
TAPPER: And the director told CNN this morning that the win at the Oscars was a, quote, megaphone for Alexei Navalny and his plight. Do we know how Navalny is doing right now in solitary confinement?
WARD: By all accounts, Jake, he's doing terribly. He has lost a tremendous amount of weight according to his lawyers. He's been having crippling stomach pains. He says he's been prescribed antibiotics that are not the correct medication for him, that are basically contributing to a deterioration in his health.
He is completely cut off and isolated, has no contact with his family. I think when you talk to the Navalny Family and when you talk to Daniel Rohr and the other filmmakers who are involved with this incredible documentary, what you see is this basically is a major effort to try to keep Navalny's name in the mainstream media, to try to educate and engage people all around the world about his plight with the hope that possibly that will ultimately save his life, that President Putin or those around him in the security services will refrain from further harming Alexei Navalny as long as the world keeps talking about him, Jake.
TAPPER: Yeah, I mean, he might be physically making him weaker, but certainly making Navalny as a political voice stronger. I think it's undisputable.
Clarissa Ward, thank you so much. Coming up next, I'm going to talk with a whistle-blower who says
former Lose Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is a national security threat. He wants President Biden to pull Garcetti's nomination to be a U.S. ambassador to a major country.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our politics lead now, House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, Republican of Kentucky, is stepping up his investigation into President Biden's son Hunter. Comer has quietly subpoenaed Bank of America asking for the records of three of hunter Biden's business associates.
CNN's Sara Murphy is with me.
Sara, we're learning this from a letter written by the committee's ranking member, Democrat Jamie Raskin. What does he tell us?
SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Comer has been pretty loud about his Biden investigation, but this subpoena for Bank of America, he sent this one quietly. So, this is a subpoena that covers three of Hunter Biden's business associates. It covers 14 years of financial records. Democrats are already slamming this subpoena saying it's overly broad, this is a fishing expedition, pointing out it's sucking up things, you know, like the amount of money one of these folks is paying for his kid's dance lessons and not just related to hunter Biden.
TAPPER: And Congressman Raskin also claims in his letter that we're learning more about a decision of the Oversight Committee to stop pursuing information related to foreign spending at Trump-owned properties.
MURRAY: That's right. This is essentially their way of calling out James Comer and saying that he's a hypocrite. You know, Democrats had this long running investigation into what foreign governments were spending at Donald Trump's properties back when Democrats controlled the House and they had this settlement they reached with the Trump team from Mazars, which is, you know, the former firm that was handling Trump's finances to hand over a bunch of documents.
So, they're saying they've now acquired this letter where a Trump attorney reaches out and saying Republicans are in control now, the House is no longer interested in receiving these documents, and you can stop production. Comer is saying I wasn't the one who meddled in this but he certainly isn't shying away from the fact that he doesn't want anything to do with the Trump investigation. He wants to investigate the Biden family and basically believes they spent enough time digging into the Trumps.
TAPPER: Okay. Sara Murray, thanks so much. Appreciate it. After more than 600 days, the U.S. Senate is set to vote on Wednesday of this week on whether to confirm former Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti as U.S. ambassador to India. Garcetti's nomination has been under scrutiny after former aides of his have accused him of ignoring alleged sexual harassment and bullying by one of his former top aides and supporters at city hall.
Naomi Seligman who served as Garcetti's communications director is one of the whistleblowers who's come forward. She says the top aide in question, Rick Jacobs, kissed her without her consent and that Garcetti did nothing even after she reported it to Garcetti's former chief of staff. Garcetti has repeatedly said and has testified under oath that he was not aware of any sexual harassment, and if he had been, he would have put a stop to it.
Jacobs has said he's unable to comment due to pending litigation. The White House this afternoon declined to comment.
Naomi Seligman joins us now, though, to talk about this.
So, Naomi, thanks for joining us. You worked alongside Garcetti as part of his administration for years. Tell us about the work environment.
NAOMI SELIGMAN, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, ERIC GARCETTI: You know, we were in a work environment where sexual harassment and abuse was tolerated, enabled and ubiquitous. It was as common as checking your texts. It was a very hard, disappointing and toxic environment where Mayor Garcetti enabled, tolerated and at times laughed about the abuse by his top aide and confidant, Rick Jacobs.
TAPPER: So, is it possible at all that Mayor Garcetti did not know of these concerns as he claims?
SELIGMAN: No. I was there and I saw Mayor Garcetti watch Rick Jacobs touch people, hug people, kiss people. In fact, the mayor, his former chief of staff, the mayor's wife and his deputy chief of staff said in a city-sponsored investigation that they acknowledged that Rick Jacobs was kissing people at city-sponsored events.
There was also an incident in a Senate elevator after an infrastructure hearing where Mayor Garcetti was in an elevator with his chief counsel and Rick Jacobs cornered her and was pushing his body into her again and again. You might call it dry humping her. She asked for him to quit, and he wouldn't stop. Jacobs wouldn't stop.
And so, Eric Garcetti had to say cut it out. That chief counsel testified to that under oath, as did I, because she had told me. Importantly, Eric Garcetti has never denied that this incident happened.
TAPPER: What is your concern about his being ambassador to India?
SELIGMAN: Sure. I mean, predators can only continue to abuse when you have a powerful enabler, and Eric Garcetti is a very powerful enabler, and he's about to become more powerful. We have a situation where he would oversee 2,000 or more employees, and he has not shown the judgment. He is unfit to become an ambassador or really to hold public office anywhere in this country or this world.
I am scared for the people that will be under him and around him, because this was an open secret in city hall. Eric Garcetti himself told Obama's former social secretary that he was surprised that the city wasn't sued while Rick Jacobs was there, and not just to the social secretary, but to others. The Senate did an investigation where 19 victims and witnesses testified about the sexual harassment and abuse. Others said they heard Eric Garcetti laughing and joking about how Rick was a liability and he couldn't believe they got through all those years without a suit until they didn't.
TAPPER: What I heard about Rick Jacobs -- again, he says he can't comment. What I heard about him is he's gay, he was very aggressive when it came to assaulting men allegedly, but that he would do things like you described with the counsel or what you describe happened to yourself as a bullying tactic. Do I have that right?
SELIGMAN: Sure. It was definitely a power move. He, in fact, had known my husband who is a journalist, for many years. In all those years, he had never touched him aggressively or any other way except when he saw him with me, and then he kissed him in front of me.
It was obviously an intimidation tactic. It was a bullying tactic. He was a toxic, toxic boss. He used it as a way to keep power and to keep people under his thumb.
TAPPER: You briefed several senators on these concerns. Did you feel that they listened to you?
SELIGMAN: I briefed almost a third of the Senate on both sides of the aisle, and absolutely they heard me. I had Senate offices and staffers who were very upset about what they had heard, felt compelled to want to do something about it. They couldn't believe -- obviously, I worked in the Senate. I understand what it is to work in those kinds of environments. They were very upset about what they had heard.
Unfortunately, the White House has put undue pressure on Democrats to vote for Eric Garcetti because Eric Garcetti has been a very, very loyal person to President Biden, and that's unfortunate, because these senators that purport to support me, too, cannot just do it when it's politically expedient. They have to do it when it matters, even if it's your own political party.
TAPPER: Does it concern you that President Biden and lots of Senate Democrats are continuing to stand by Garcetti's nomination? I mean, you're a Democrat. So, I mean, do you think your party is being hypocritical?
SELIGMAN: Oh, it's devastating to me. I'm a lifelong Democrat. So, I'm absolutely disappointed in it. It's stunning that we have this kind of -- these kinds of tactics with our Democratic senators that feel like they have to vote for someone when they sponsored and voted for the Speak Out Act which protects workers in these sexually harassing and abusive situations. So it's not too late to say no to Eric Garcetti and to put someone in
place who can actually represent our country overseas who hasn't enabled sexual harassment and abuse. It's disappointing, but it's correctable.
TAPPER: Naomi, I know it's not easy to go on TV and talk about these things. Thank you so much for doing so.
SELIGMAN: Thank you for your time. I appreciate it.
TAPPER: Coming up, the surge at the other U.S. border. See the spot where more migrants are lining up to walk right into Canada, and not much can really stop 'em.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our world lead, several U.S. border entry points in Mexico are now back to normal operations. This after large crowds tried to make entry all at once on Sunday, causing disruptions at least three different border points.
But while all eyes are on the southern U.S. border, that other border, the northern one, is facing its own set of immigration issues.
CNN's Polo Sandoval visited one country road in a northern border town that's creating tensions between the United States and Canada.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On a lonely frozen stretch of Upstate New York, a dead-end. This is where the U.S. and Canada meet, at a makeshift unauthorized crossing known as Roxham Road. Anyone who treks across the border here is told by Canadian authorities they will be immediately arrested.
CANADIAN POLICE: We have to advise you it's illegal to enter Canada here.
CANADIAN POLICE: Right now, you're under arrest for crossing the border of Canada.
CANADIAN POLICE: It's illegal to enter Canada here. If you do, you will be placed under arrest by police.
SANDOVAL: But every day, a seemingly endless stream of asylum-seekers intent on trying to find a safe have ion yet another country cross the line anyway.
Warnings are everyone on this road in Champlain, New York. They don't deter the stream of people, many of whom have cobbled together a way to get to Manhattan, then take a bus to a town 28 miles south of here, and then pay a driver to drop them off at this tiny corridor. They're unaware of what lies ahead and the cold they'll face along the way.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Okay. Let me see about a jacket.
SANDOVAL: Some community members trying to help providing them with warm clothes that they'll need.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's okay, it's okay.
SANDOVAL: People from all over the world are crossing Roxham at historic rates. We met a family from Nigeria, a man from Russia.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No money, no money.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, thank you.
SANDOVAL: And this South American mother in tears tells me she's been traveling many days to get here. Giovanna tells me she and her 23- year-old daughter were denied foreign visas last year when guerillas in Colombia threatened to kill her. She said she was forced to close her business and flee.
I feel like I can have a better quality of life in Canada instead of remaining in the U.S., she told me, before she stepped over the border. After a brief detention, she'll likely be released to join fellow migrants who are learning the asylum process in Canada isn't easy either. These last few years have seen an influx in crossings Canada isn't able to handle. Simply getting an appointment for work authorization can now take months or longer.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This individual crossed in February and you're seeing this date is actually February 11, 2025. So two years.
SANDOVAL: About an hour north of the border, Abdullah Daoud helps lead the refugee center in Montreal.
ABDULLA DAOUD, DIRECTOR, THE REFUGEE CENTRE: These are a dramatic increase from the numbers we're used to seeing historically in Canada.
SANDOVAL: The non-profit working with the Canadian government to help guide refugees through the asylum process.
DAOUD: December saw an increase from November. January saw an increase from December. February saw an increase from January.
SANDOVAL: Canadian government figures show a record 39,000 unauthorized entries into Quebec from the U.S. in 2022, nearly all, according to experts entered through Roxham Road.
In January alone, crossings here neared 5,000, U.S. and Canadian officials are discussing potential changes to the safe third country agreement, a loophole in that treaty is incentivizing migrants crossing from the U.S. to use Roxham Road.
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: The way to close Roxham Road is to renegotiate the safe third country agreement with the United States, which is something that we've been working for many, many months now.
SANDOVAL: Separated from Roxham, an increased number of migrants from Mexico are making the perilous journey south over the snowy border. The U.S. border patrol sharing these images showing some groups with infants and children in the subzero temperatures. They'll often fly to Canada and take their chances walking through frigid woods and farms.
SANDOVAL (on camera): An additional 25 agents being sent to the nearby Border Patrol sector to deal with the increased southbound flow of migrants. But important to remind viewers, Jake, that though the numbers we're seeing on the northern border pale in comparison to the border some 2,000 miles from here, what you saw is a reminder of the politics and perhaps most importantly the people at play -- Jake.
TAPPER: Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
In 2021, President Biden called his own handling of a submarine deal with Australia clumsy, and now a chance for course correction.
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TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
This hour, from "Boy Meets World".
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BEN SAVAGE, ACTOR: There are many challenges which face John Adams high.
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TAPPER: Actor Ben Savage joins us live to talk about his run for the U.S. Congress.
Plus, a test of one of the more controversial aspects of an already very controversial Texas abortion ban. Three women are currently being sued for wrongful death by a Texas man because they allegedly helped his ex-wife obtain abortion pills.
And leading this hour, concerns over the stability of the U.S. banking system even after the fire department federal government intervened to guarantee all deposits at the collapse Silicon Valley Bank in California and the Signature Bank in New York.