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The Lead with Jake Tapper
21-Year-Old Guardsman Arrested In Pentagon Docs Leak Case; President Biden Briefed On Suspect Arrest In Document Leak; Navigating Donald Trump's Tangled Legal Web; ProPublica: Justice Thomas Failed To Disclose Real Estate Transaction With GOP Megadonor; Tennessee Lawmakers Reinstated After Gun Control Protest Ouster. Aired 4-5p ET
Aired April 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: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
And we start with this major breaking news story. This afternoon, FBI agents arrested the suspect behind the leak of highly classified and damaging Pentagon memos.
Twenty-one-year-old Massachusetts Air National Guardsman Jack Teixeira was identified after a cascade of shocking news reporting, reports in "The Washington Post", "New York Times" and Bellingcat show that Teixeira allegedly led a small online chat group on the encrypted platform Discord often used by gamers. Members of that group that Teixeira reportedly dubbed "Thug Shaker Central" seem to mostly be teenage boys who share a love of guns and military gear, and they described Teixeira as the, quote, undisputed leader of that chat group. The post also reviewed a video posted by Teixeira, who members of the chat group call OG that seemed to show him yelling antisemitic and racial slurs and showing off his gun.
Now, those who know to share a say he was just trying to impress his friends and keep them in the loop on classified intelligence, which he then allegedly swiped from highly sensitive briefing emails and apparently leaked to his small group over the course of several months.
"The Washington Post" interviewed a member of the group of the alleged leaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would not call you a whistleblower in the slightest.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think that there was a goal nor some sort of accomplishment that he was looking for in sharing these documents. Of course, there's some anti-government sentiment.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now, despite Teixeira's intentions, those documents did indeed become public global, and they left a trail of serious consequences for the United States, including revelations that the U.S. government spied on allies Ukraine and Israel and South Korea. The documents also seem to show how the CIA recruits agents and they seem to show and exposure of detrimental U.S. assessments of Ukraine's chances on the battlefield.
Now, less than two hours ago, the FBI brought Teixeira to their offices right outside Boston. Teixeira will make his first court appearance tomorrow in U.S. district court in Boston.
We are covering this story all over the map.
Let's bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us.
And, Oren, just moments ago, the Pentagon spokesman said. Officials there are treating this leak as a quote, deliberate criminal act?
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: The Pentagon making it very clear how they see the leaking of some top secret documents from their perspective, and they wouldn't name a suspect in this case, leaving that up to the Department of Justice. But from their perspective, this was an intentional act to get access to this level of classified documents, top secret and more, and then to put these out there, whether publicly or not, whatever the intention was. This ended up coming out to the world, frankly, with consequences that are still perhaps damaging U.S. national security interests.
LIEBERMANN (voice-over): On Thursday afternoon, the FBI swooping in on Dighton, Massachusetts, a tactical team moving in to arrest 21- year-old Jack Teixeira to share a member of the Massachusetts air national guard in connection with classified documents leaked online.
MERRICK GARLAND, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Today, the Justice Department arrested Jack Douglas Teixeira in connection with an investigation into alleged unauthorized removal, retention and transmission of classified national defense information.
LIEBERMANN: The arrest comes after a fast-moving search by the U.S. government only one week after President Joe Biden and other senior U.S. leaders were briefed about the leak that exposed to trove of top secret documents. The documents were accessible to thousands of people, military and civilian. But the digital trail of information led investigators to a small group for closer scrutiny, allowing the FBI to home in on a suspect. The Pentagon having to explain how such young members of the military have access to such national secrets.
BRIG. GEN. PATRICK RYDER, PENTAGON PRESS SECRETARY: You received training and you will receive an understanding of the rules and requirements that come along with those responsibilities, and you're expected to abide by those rules, regulations and responsibility. It's called military discipline.
LIEBERMANN: According to "The Washington Post", the man behind the leaks posted the national security secrets for a group of his online acquaintances to see which CNN could not independently verify. "The New York Times" arrived at the suspect's house after tracking
details online. They spoke to his mother when the suspect appeared to arrive. When they returned to speak to him, another unidentified men at the scene told "The Times" he needs to get an attorney. If things are flowing the way they're going right now. The feds will be around soon, I'm sure.
The documents were leaked on Discord, a chat and messaging platform often used by gamers.
"The Post" spoke with a friend of the man who claimed the leaks began last year long before they were first made public.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I was first made aware of these documents. I want to say about 6 to 8 months ago. I was in a Discord server by the name of Thug Shaker Central, and in this channel, there was classified documents being posted by a user who I refer to as OG from this point.
The documents were often listed as Ukraine versus Russia at first. However, it's slowly spiraled into just intelligence about everything.
LIEBERMANN: The Pentagon has begun a damage assessment after the information exposed U.S. spying on allies like South Korea and Israel, critical information about Ukrainian military capabilities, top secret intel about Chinese weapons development.
GLENN GERSTELL, FORMER NSA GENERAL COUNSEL: If it indeed it is true that it's a military base, then there's certainly going to be a lot of military officials who have to be called for account.
LIEBERMANN: The Biden administration has downplayed the consequences of the leaks. But the question of how to stop someone with top secret access determined to spread secrets remains unanswered.
JAMES CLAPPER, FORMER DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: The concern here is people. And people, if they are bent on exposing classified information, they'll figure out a way to beat the administrative procedures.
LIEBERMANN (on camera): According to the sheriff's service record, he joined the Air National Guard in September 2019. So about 3-1/2 years ago, he had a job in the field of cyber transport systems , which requires 7-1/2 weeks of basic military training and then 136 days of technical training.
Jake, it is that level of training, that lack of depth perhaps that will have to come under scrutiny now is to how he still had access to this level of classification.
TAPPER: Hmm. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thank you so much. Let's get right to CNN's chief law enforcement and intelligence
analyst John Miller, as well as CNN national security analyst Steve Hall.
John, this doesn't look like a normal arrest, the sheer number of military vehicles and armed personnel. Walk us through how it all went down.
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, as this developed, the FBI had identified this individual as the suspect within the last couple of days, and they had started to work with the military about how to get him in the box, ask him questions, how to effect this arrest as they were developing this evidence.
Today, this comes to a head because Jack Teixeira lives between his dad's house and his mom's house in this area of Massachusetts, going back and forth between the two locations. The FBI surveillance teams were on both locations, and the idea was he's supposed to go to work today will follow him to the base. He will be in a secure environment.
We can have a superior officer called him to a conference room. You know, we'll know he's unarmed. We'll know we have control of the situation.
Well, that all didn't work. He didn't go to work today. So the surveillance teams on the house we're told, you know, when he goes out for a walk, when he shows up, let's pick him up so we can see, you know, he's likely not to be armed.
At that point, "The New York Times" was knocking on the door of the residents and talking to the mother. And at this point agents were reporting back to the FBI Boston field office from their surveillance observation posts: There's people, they look like reporters. They're at the door.
At which point, the subject shows up on the set. So, a Boston FBI SWAT team in their SWAT gear and an armored vehicle was deployed as the arrest team. The backup teams moved in. They took him into custody.
Why all the firepower for a simple of arrest -- simple arrest of a guy in short pants is reviews of his social media posts that he's had online pictures and other records told them he is the owner of numerous weapons. And the prospect of a suspect who was now reading his name online in "The New York Times" in news alerts being inside the house, possibly in inside the house with numerous weapons, was the kind of situation -- exactly the kind of situation they were looking to avoid. But they brought the equipment they needed to handle any version of it.
And as -- as it went down, they took advantage of the situation of him showing up in front of the house, and it all went very quietly.
TAPPER: And the FBI just released a statement saying they're conducting continued operations at the suspect's home.
John, what are they looking for? MILLER: So that's the search warrant. You know, they'll -- I mean,
the suspect has multiple locations, the mom's house, the dad's house and his space at work. So they will be executing search warrants at the mom's house, at the dad's house, looking for computers, hard drives, thumb drives, cameras, phones, anything that would have been used in the collection, copying, photographing posting of this material. They'll probably also want to clear those houses of those weapons, assuming that they are that they belong to him, whatever their legal status as part of the search.
TAPPER: Steve, you're the former head of Russia operations at the CIA, what do you think Russian government officials are thinking right now watching all this?
STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Jake, my -- I imagine the Russians have been following this for a while because they're very good as we know from the past couple of years of watching how the Russians do entries and collection operations against electronic systems. So I would be surprised if the Russians hadn't been aware of this sooner. Of course, it's been out there in one shape or another for a number of weeks. And so the Russians have been watching this very carefully.
One of the things I think that the Russians are probably, uh, doing their own damage assessment on is that there's apparently some information that this individual leaked that had to do with uh, collection against Russian targets inside of Russia, perhaps technical operations.
And so, I think the Russians are trying to figure out, okay, how did they get access to that? And how do we shut that down? Which is, of course, always the worst case scenario here is that when sources and methods are exposed like this individual does, it's really difficult to pick it up again and collect further against those targets.
TAPPER: And, Steve, quickly if you could, the documents leak seemed to also suggest the extent to which the United States has been able to penetrate in intelligence way the Russian mercenary group, the Wagner Group, that must be a concern for Putin.
HALL: Yeah, absolutely. Again, the Russians are going to look this up and down and say, okay, well, you know from what we're seeing publicly on this, where were the leaks? Where did we get had and how can we close those up?
Again, those are counterintelligence questions that the Russian is very good at and they're going to shut it down, and that's going to -- not incapacitate, that's probably too strong, they'll make it more difficult in the future to collect against those targets, Jake.
TAPPER: Yeah, they have Teixeira to thank, allegedly.
John Miller, Steve Hall, thanks so much.
Now to Ireland, where CNN's Phil Mattingly is traveling with President Biden. And, Phil, the president's trip was supposed to be fairly light on policy, but a mess of global proportions has unfolded under his watch. What did he have to say?
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and it's a mess that the president, his team have largely kept behind the scenes. The president's staying on his schedule, not really answering any questions related to the leak until earlier today. In fact, today, he was speaking to the parliament here, a big speech, the fourth U.S. president to do so.
Right now, he just entered the Dublin castle for a banquet in his honor. Only two others, Queen Elizabeth and JFK have had that honor to be the guest of honor there.
In between was when the arrest of the suspect actually happened, and underscores something I've been told by U.S. officials. The president has been briefed regularly throughout the last several days, kept in the loop on both the investigation where that stood but also efforts by his top administration officials to assuage the concerns, or trying to address some of the concerns from U.S. allies have either seen their countries mentioned in some of these reports or are concerned that there may be some where they are mentioned.
Now, the president when he was asked about this earlier today and answer the question alluded to the fact that an arrest was likely forthcoming soon, underscoring just how closely he has been briefed on the developments in the investigation, but also said something else, that he did not believe that the disclosures up to this point were of great consequence, trying to play down what has come out up to this point.
However, you talk to U.S. officials they make clear, top administration officials have been working the phones, working very steadfastly, scrambling to some degree to try and address ally concerns, something that certainly isn't going to end anytime soon, Jake.
TAPPER: All right. Phil Mattingly in Dublin with President Biden, thanks so much.
The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Mike Turner, Republican of Ohio, joins me now on the phone.
Chairman Turner, thanks for joining us.
What's the latest that you've learned on the arrest of the suspected leaker Jack Teixeira, as well as the effort to contain the fallout?
REP. MIKE TURNER (R-OH) (via telephone): Right, so our office was notified that the arrest was imminent. And I can tell you that, you know, it's a good day, Jake, that we can celebrate that the -- at least the continued threat of additional leaks in this individual has been stopped. Now, of course, the assessment will have to be done as to all the documents and where they were that he had released, what needs to be done in mitigating those? But also and in the question of how did this individual get access to these documents? And what policies and procedures need to be changed?
I can tell you, many members of my committee have already been in touch. We need to have hearings as to, you know, what is the scope of documents, especially when you have something as volatile as a battlefield of Ukraine, where these documents could be accessed by someone who appears to not be in any chain of needing this information.
TAPPER: Well, that's the question. I mean, obviously there is over classification. The CIA director said that the other day that's been a problem in the intelligence community for decades, things that don't need to be classified being classified.
But this -- this material seems very sensitive. How would a 21 year old air national guardsman get access to it?
TURNER: You know, it's very unclear, Jake, and that -- that is -- that there really is what a lot of the triage is going to have to be here. You know, I was just in Ukraine, as you know, last week, and the upcoming offensive of Ukraine is incredibly important. It's highly sensitive.
To have this type of information where someone could be -- they're trying to show it to their friends to impress them.
That doesn't appear to have any contribution to the outcome of this, or any need to know is what we're going to have to examine and put a stop to.
TAPPER: Did the journalists working on this story at "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times", did they track down this individual before the intelligence community did?
TURNER: I can't just for you this time, but I can tell you that is my impression that, you know, this is probably concurrent, and if not coordinated, many times are, as we're trying to solve things, people are sharing information. But that the type of access that we would have, that in looking at his disclosure, and his use of the chat rooms and like our subjects that probably was doubtful.
TAPPER: Do you have any reason to believe that there is anything more nefarious going on than the story that we're being given right now, which is just some irresponsible young men trying to show off before a group of fellow gamers his access to intel?
TURNER: They're not -- not at this time. I received a briefing the director of ODNI, and it was -- the FBI has been in my office and also DOD has been briefing us that this time. Nobody has indicated that this is anything more than this individual. You know, no matter what procedures you put in place, somebody who wants to betray you, it's going to have an opportunity to do so.
This gentleman has obviously is going to be faced with charges of espionage and he's, you know, he's the charges are that he's going to have betrayed his country.
TAPPER: The chairman of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, Congressman Mike Turner, Republican of Ohio, thank you so much for calling in, sir. We appreciate it.
Coming up, I'm going to speak with Chairman Turner's Democratic counterpart of the top Democrat on the intelligence community, Congressman Jim Himes, Democratic Connecticut.
We're following every angle of this big breaking story and this arrest. How is this kind of classified intelligence tracked? Who else had access to it? I'm going to speak with someone else who has unique insight into U.S. cybersecurity next.
Also ahead, a new report revealing U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and how he sold property to the same billionaire Republican who paid for those luxury vacations and trips, and again, did not disclose those sales despite the fact that he was supposed to. The author of this new reporting, speaking exclusively on THE LEAD coming up.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: Welcome back.
You are looking at images from earlier today of the arrest of 21 year old National Guard Airman Jack Teixeira, who authorities say leaked troves of highly classified documents over the course of several months, documents that the leak of which has damaged us relationships with allies and revealed key pieces of intelligence to foes.
Joining us now is Chris Krebs. He's the former director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency at the Department of Homeland Security under President Trump.
And, Chris, explain to me how this 21-year-old could have had access to this information. The Air Force says Teixeira's official job is cyber transport systems journeyman. I have no idea what that means. Tell us what it means and how he could have possibly gotten access to this classified information.
CHRISTOPHER KREBS, FORMER DIRECTOR, CYBERSECURITY AND INFRASTRUCTURE SECURITY AGENCY: Right. So, a cyber transport systems specialist is the Air Force recruiters' way of describing an I.T. specialist role. So these are the folks that that design, they deploy computer systems networks and then maintain them, and it's not just the unclassified systems, but their cases where they also help manage and maintain and update the systems in the classified spaces, what's known as a SCIF, a sensitive compartmented information facility. It's a special facility, that -- where you can view classified information, free of surveillance or leakage.
And, you know, I would bet, and this is kind of an Occam's razor approach here, is that if he was designated with working on systems in a SCIF at a military installation, that it's possible that he came across discarded classified information from a prior briefing in a burn bag, which is where information is collected, and then subsequently destroyed.
So I -- you know, I would bet if in -- the investigation will kind of let this all play out, but my sense is that based on his job, he was in a SCIF. And he probably came across information that was not properly or was going to subsequently be properly disposed of.
TAPPER: So I want to read a couple of quotes from "The New York Times" reporting on this. Quote: A trail of digital evidence compiled by "The Times" leads to Airmen Teixeira, Airman Teixeira's mother, Dawn, speaking outside her home in Massachusetts on Thursday, confirmed that her son was a member of the Air National Guard and said he had recently been working overnight shifts at the base on Cape Cod. Later, someone who appeared to be Airman Teixeira drove onto the property in a red pickup truck.
Now, John Miller just told us that the FBI has been surveilling his house for some time. Does it concern you at all that "New York Times" reporters seem to have gotten to Teixeira before the FBI did?
KREBS: You know, I have not really been following closely the specifics of the investigation. Just to make one thing clear, it's just because classified information is in the public domain doesn't mean it's declassified. And as a former security clearance holder, I haven't dug too deeply into this story.
But, you know, there are a number of different digital, you know, bits of exhausts and evidence, and I think one of the takeaways from this event is that this information may have been on the public Internet, in a Discord server for up to eight months, and that shows you the challenge that the counterintelligence folks have in terms of identifying once this information is leaked. And that is, I assume, going to be a key area of emphasis going forward is how do we really enhanced the discoverability across the Internet of leaked intelligence?
TAPPER: Yeah, I mean that -- that's one thing because, obviously, Discord is encrypted . But the other thing is, who are the individuals that were in trusting this information to, and based on what we know about Teixeira, he's 21. He was in a gamer Discord group with a bunch of teenagers. There's some video that "The Washington Post" reporters saw in which he's on a firing range, showing up his gun using antisemitic and racist slurs, according to "The Washington Post", at least if Teixeira is the same person as OG, according to the chat group members.
We don't have better safeguards in place for the individuals that have access to burn bags?
KREBS: There's a system of controls in place. There are failures of those controls all the time. And there is a system of reporting that's built in, including regular refreshes of security clearances. I wouldn't focus necessarily on his age that he's 21. We have 21-year-
old war fighters all over the world that we entrust with sensitive information. This is a breakdown. There's no question that there will be a lot of introspection inside the intelligence community and across the government of where were those breakdowns? How do we ensure that we tighten that system of military discipline that that was referred to earlier to ensure that these things do not happen?
The last thing, Jake, though, is the -- what's most critical here is that it's not necessarily what we know that is so important. It's how we know it.
KREBS: And how we know it. My sense is that that is not implicated in these leaks. There will be clean up on the what we know. But the how we know it should hopefully remain intact.
TAPPER: I hope so. Chris Krebs, thank you so much. Appreciate your taking the time.
Coming up next, an indictment, investigations, lawsuits -- the legal troubles Donald Trump is facing as he up in New York once again is called before authorities.
TAPPER: In our politics lead, Donald Trump and his businesses are tangled up in an array of state and federal investigations and lawsuits.
It can be a little difficult to keep track of everything. So, let's briefly review.
One, a Manhattan grand jury indicted Trump this month on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records. Two, Trump's being investigated by Special Counsel Jack Smith for his mishandling of classified documents. Three, Smith is also probing Trump's post-election actions in the lead up to the January 6th insurrection. Four, Georgia prosecutors are considering criminal charges related to Trump's efforts to overturn his election loss in that state. Five, later this month, a New York jury will hear testimony in the civil defamation suit brought by former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Trump of rape.
I've lost count 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. This is six. I think today, Trump sat for a deposition as part of a high stakes civil case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James, accusing him of falsifying financial statements.
That's a lot. Let's bring in "The Washington Post" political investigations reporter Josh Dawsey, along with former prosecutor Karen Friedman Agnifilo. She's also a CNN legal analyst. And, Karen, let me start with you. Trump's attorneys say he is prepared to answer Letitia James' questions today. That's a notable departure from his previous refusals to respond during depositions before the suit was filed. What do you make of that? And do you believe it?
KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah. Well, we'll see if he actually does it or not, and how direct he actually is. He says he's not going to take the fifth and he's going to attempt to answer these questions in this case. But it's interesting because I think this is a calculation he's making because if he does take the fifth in a civil case, unlike a criminal case, that can be used against you, but it could also be used against you if he answers these questions in the criminal case.
And don't forget, Alvin Bragg has said that this investigation, the parallel investigation into the valuation of the assets, which is what the civil case that Attorney General Tish James is doing is still open criminally.
So, who knows? I will see when the reporting comes out how open he is, but I wouldn't be surprised if he says things like, I don't remember or I no longer run those businesses or I was president. He doesn't want to be seen, I think, as taking the Fifth and refusing to answer questions, but I highly doubt he's going to make admissions that will help the criminal case.
TAPPER: And, Karen, my understanding is the New York Attorney General Letitia James is seeking $250 million and a ban on Trump and his adult children from being able to operate a business in New York, which obviously threatens the fate of his empire. How likely would -- is it do you think that those sanctions would actually happen?
AGNIFILO: It depends on what comes out at trial, obviously. It depends on how the evidence comes out and how the judge ends up ruling at the end of the day.
I think it's pretty likely -- according to the complaint, it's a very big sweeping complaint that Attorney General Tish James has filed against him. And if she can prove all of that information and what's in there, I think he's in for a pretty heavy sanction and monetary damages here in New York.
TAPPER: And, Josh, you have a great scoop in "The Post" today about special counsel Jack Smith's interest in Trump campaign fundraising and fundraising documents from after the 2020 election and whether federal wire fraud laws were violated. Explain this to us.
JOSH DAWSEY, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Right. So Special Counsel Jack Smith has sent out troves of subpoenas since the beginning of March to Trump campaign advisers, Republican operatives and consultants really trying to learn one thing, those who approved and wrote and were involved in crafting emails after the election that subsequently raised the Trump operation more than $200 million, did they know these claims were fraudulent?
Did they concede these kinds of fraudulently to others? Did they concede these claims, you know, in private and emails and texts and conversations with others?
What they're trying to do, according to our sources, who have seen have some visibility into the investigation is discern whether any of these people knowingly went forward with claims that the election was false. In a bid to raise money if you remember that time, Jake, it was a cash bonanza for Trump's team. They were raising money over first in the weeks after the election, as he said the election was stolen.
And they said a lot of that money was going to go to an election defense fund, which was never created. And most of that money did not go to anything to do with the election, frankly. So what they're trying to do now is to figure out if there's any illegality on the fundraising. They have not obviously proven anything yet. We'll see what happens. But the subpoenas are going to the heart of that.
TAPPER: So, in other words, the idea that they were pushing these election lies, which ultimately resulted in January, 6th. The question is, if they knew those were lies, and they raised $200 million from these poor Trump supporters who keep on believing these lies, was that fraud? Because they knew it was false. That's the idea?
DAWSEY: Correct, that's the idea. That's what they're trying to look at it, whether any of the people who wrote, signed off for involved in putting these emails together to raise money, whether they -- there's proof that they knew they were not true.
TAPPER: All right. Interesting, Josh and Karen, thanks to both of you. Really appreciate it.
Coming up next, new reporting about questionable financial ties between Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and that billionaire Republican donor who paid for his luxury vacations and trips.
Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our politics lead today, more questions about ties between Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a Republican billionaire megadonor. Brand new reporting from "ProPublica" this afternoon suggests that Thomas may have violated a federal law by not disclosing a real estate transaction and that transaction happened to be with this friend Harlan Crow, who has spent millions on efforts to shape the law and the judiciary. He's the same Republican donor at the center of that previous bombshell "ProPublica" report last week, which revealed that Justice Thomas and his wife accepted luxury travel from Crow that he did not -- that neither of them disclosed.
Josh Kaplan is the "ProPublica" reporter who's uncovered all this reporting around Justice Thomas. Josh, welcome back. Explain the significance of what you found here. This 2014 real estate transaction between Justice Thomas and Mr. Crow.
JOSH KAPLAN, PROPUBLICA REPORTER: Yes. So we found that Harlan Crow bought property from Justice Thomas in a undisclosed real estate deal. Crow paid roughly $133,000 to Thomas and his relatives for three properties, one of which was the house that -- an old house that Thomas's mom was living in. And the other two were vacant lots down the street.
And Thomas did not disclose this, which experts told us appears to be a clear violation of government ethics law.
So, as you said, I mean, last week, we reported that Thomas had accepted numerous luxury trips from Crow, private jet flights, international yacht cruises, all in secret. And Crow and Thomas responded to that reporting by saying that they were just close friends. But this is the first direct first known direct financial transaction between these two men.
TAPPER: So, correct me if I'm wrong, but in addition to not disclosing the sale of those properties in Savannah, Justice Thomas also had displaced -- space on the disclosure form to report the identity of the buyer, but he left it blank. Is that right?
KAPLAN: That is correct. Yes, he did not disclose the sale and also did not disclose who he was selling it to, which, you know, the judiciary's forms at the time requested.
TAPPER: Did you get any response from either Justice Thomas or Harlan Crow about your story?
KAPLAN: Yes. So, well, not from Justice Thomas. We went to Thomas with detailed questions, and he did not respond.
Crow did tell us that he approached the Thomases about buying these properties and that he intends to one day turn Thomas's mother's house into a museum, which to be clear, experts told us that crows intentions, whatever they may be, are irrelevant to the legal question of Thomas's obligation to disclose this transaction.
Crow also didn't directly address why he bought also bought two other properties from Thomas, the vacant lots down the road. But he did say that he ultimately sold those to a builder who is committed to improving the neighborhood.
TAPPER: Is there -- is there any sense that the ties between the two gentlemen could run even deeper than what we know?
KAPLAN: To be completely honest with you, we didn't know about these ties when we ran our story last week. So, I mean, I can't say what will come out in the future, but we certainly intend to keep looking.
TAPPER: All right. Josh Kaplan with "ProPublica", thank you so much.
In a statement to CNN, Harlan Crow said that he made the purchase at, quote, market rate based on many factors, including the size, quality and livability of the dwellings, unquote.
Coming up, the relationship going forward between Tennessee Republicans and the two Democrats who have now been officially reinstated in the state legislature after being kicked out of office. We'll speak live with one of them next.
TAPPER: State Representatives Justin J. Pearson and Justin Jones are now both Tennessee state representatives once again. Pearson was sworn in this morning, Jones earlier this week after they were expelled from the statehouse by Republicans last week for breaking decorum rules. Both Justins and their Democratic colleague, Gloria Johnson, who survived her expulsion vote. Protested on the house floor earlier this month after the covenant school shooting in Nashville, where six innocent people were killed.
And Tennessee Representative Justin Jones is with us now.
Representative Jones, thanks so much for joining us.
For the first time in a week, you and your two colleagues are all back alongside your fellow Democrats and the Republican majority that voted to expel you.
How do you plan to work with them moving forward on issues including gun reform?
JUSTIN JONES (D), TENNESSEE STATE HOUSE: Yeah. Well, thank you so much, Jake.
It was great to be back with the Tennessee Three, all of us together in the people's house. But it still is the same situation we're facing.
Today, we had a bill that would ban concepts of systemic racism from being taught on college campuses, and they would not even let members of our side of the aisle speak. You know, only two of us, and then they called the question and wouldn't allow debate.
And so, the issue remains that we, you know, we do not allow substantial -- substantial deliberation, debate, discussion on really important legislation here in Tennessee, including common sense gun legislation.
And I'm happy to announce that today, I filed My Protect Kids Not Guns Act. That is an omnibus bill looking at banning high capacity magazines, assault weapons, red flag laws and also safe storage laws.
TAPPER: So, the governor, Republican Governor Lee, has said that he wants some gun reform brought before him. I'm not sure he's -- I believe he's kept it pretty vague, but one of the -- one of the things that I've heard -- one of the items I've heard individuals discussing is possible red flag laws so that individuals who are troubled, family members or colleagues can report them, possibly get guns out of their hands or keep them from getting guns.
I understand you -- that the omnibus bill is your -- is your hope, your dream, your lofty desire and what you think is necessary, but obviously, you're in the minority. What about working with a Republican on a red flag law bill?
JONES: Definitely. I think we're hoping to work with Republicans. Actually met with the governor a couple of days ago, with the rest of the Nashville lawmakers. We met and we talked about common sense gun laws, and I told him that, you know, I really want to be a good faith partner in this work.
But there's members of his party -- like I told the governor, that you're going to have to stand up to very extreme fringe factions within the Republican Party who want no common sense gun safety laws. And so, the Tennessee Firearms Association, the NRA have already come out against the governor's very meeker proposals. And so, I told the governor, it's going to take political risk and sacrifice, and maybe he's in a position for such a time as this. We need a leader and we need someone who's going to stand up to these extreme forces and special interest groups.
TAPPER: "The Tennessee Holler" published today, released today, some audio from Republican state legislators meeting and getting mad at each other. What was your response to that? What do you think was important from that leaked audio?
JONES: That -- it was very just surreal to hear that, to hear the commentary and to realize that for them, they really are reenacting the civil war. You heard Representative Cepicky say, you know, we need to come hard against them, you know, because if we don't Tennessee will fall and the Southeast will fall and the left will take over. And he said, you know, I hate that I have to see, you know, Jones in these sacred halls with the greats of Tennessee stood.
And so, you hear this mentality that is very extreme and very alarming. I mean, we're dealing with people who want to reenact the civil war who don't believe someone of -- you know, like me or Representative Pearson, young Black lawmakers even deserve to be in the legislature.
But you also hear them fighting amongst each other. I mean, I've heard from Republicans who are calling on the house speaker to resign, Cameron Sexton. There's a lot of division within their caucus. You heard in that -- in that recorded conversation, you know, just the in fighting and the dysfunction in the Republican Party here in Tennessee, because they -- they've been controlled by these extreme forces.
And so, you had Representative Zachary, you know, breaking down at the beginning of the call, and just up in arms that they did not all just fall, you know, in step behind the speaker's push to expel us. And it shows that they are not free to think for themselves, either. But if you diverge from their caucus leadership, and you're seen as an outsider like Representative Barrett is being seen now -- Jody Barrett who voted against expelling Gloria Johnson.
JONES: And so, it's very extreme mentality going on there, and it's very troubling.
TAPPER: Democratic Tennessee State Representative Justin Jones, thanks so much and congratulations on being back in office.
JONES: Thank you so much, Jake. It's great to be back.
TAPPER: Coming up next, using kitchen countertops and patterns on the tile floor. How "The New York Times" was able to figure out who leaked the Pentagon documents hours before he was actually placed under arrest.
I'll speak with one of those journalists next.
TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
Big developments in our top story today. The FBI has arrested 21-year- old Jack Teixeira. He's a member of the Massachusetts Air National Guard, arrested in connection with that leak of classified Pentagon intelligence documents. The U.S. government source familiar with this case tells CNN that Teixeira was under surveillance by the FBI for the past few days. And that they had planned to arrest him at work today but ended up taking him into custody at his home after reporters from "The New York Times" knocked on the door to his house and apparently alerted him that it wasn't a good idea to go to work today.
Reports from "The Washington Post", "The New York Times" and Bellingcat show that Teixeira allegedly led a small online chat group on the encrypted platform Discord, often used by gamers, probably even your kids. Those who know Teixeira say he was just trying to impress his friends online. Keep them in the loop on classified intelligence, which he then allegedly swiped from highly sensitive briefing emails and apparently leaked to his small group over the course of several months.
Less than two hours ago, we're told Teixeira arrived at FBI offices in Boston, where he will make his first court appearance. Tomorrow, the FBI also is waiting to execute a search warrant for Teixeira's mother's and father's homes. We are told they expect to find numerous weapons in the search, based on his social media posts.