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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Migrant Surge Expected When Border Policy Ends At 11:59PM ET; House Voting On Border Security Packages As Title 42 Ends; Trump Previews 2024 With Lie-Filled Performance At CNN Town Hall; Sources: U.S. Hunts For High-Value Spies For Possible Prisoner Swap With Russia. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 11, 2023 - 16:00   ET


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: 60 percent of Italians eating pasta daily, many are pasta-tively outraged by the prices.


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: This is the fusillious story we --

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Hey! I've been for the last 30 seconds -- I've been for the last 30 seconds trying to come up with some kind of pun, and I -- I've got nothing. I've got nothing. I'm sorry. I failed you guys.

KEILAR: What's the gnocchi one?

SCIUTTO: It doesn't rhyme with anything.

KEILAR: I can't gnocchi believe the prices.

SANCHEZ: I re-fusilli to pay.

SCIUTTO: I stole my fusilli from there, by the way.

KEILAR: Well, thank you so much for joining us today.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER begins right after this.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Less than eight hours left on that U.S. policy used right now to turn away migrants at the border. What's going to happen after midnight?

THE LEAD starts right now.

Crisis at the border and it's about to get worse. CNN rides along as migrants climb on top of a train. Others crawling through barbed wire, trying desperately to get into the United States. What's going to happen when that key Title 42 immigration policy runs out at 11:59 this evening? Well, a top Biden administration official is here and we will seek answers.

Also, Trump's 2024 campaign playbook seems to be a repeat of falsehoods and indecency from 2020. How not only Democrats such as President Biden but also Republicans today are expressing revulsion at things Trump said at the CNN town hall.

Plus, 18 years after disappearing, today movement towards justice in the tragic vanishing and murder of Natalee Holloway.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

We're going to start today with a huge story in our world lead. Growing fears about just how bad the humanitarian and economic crisis could get in the United States when this Trump-era immigration policy expires in just hours. The Biden White House surged thousands of reinforcements to the U.S.-Texas border -- I'm sorry, the U.S./Mexico border, from homeland security officials to U.S. troops ahead of tonight's deadline, 11:59 p.m. Eastern, when Title 42 officially ends.

Title 42, as you might recall, allowed the U.S. government to quickly remove migrants from the U.S., to deport them for the last three years, using the pandemic as an excuse. But starting tomorrow, every migrant encountered by border agents will have to go through a much longer processing procedure. That's expected to cause a serious backlog, not to mention much more illegal immigration.

In recent days, the U.S. has already seen a huge jump in migrants. Homeland security official says border authorities encountered more than 10,000 migrants along the border yesterday, already surpassing government estimates. On the other side of the border, U.S. officials estimate that more than 150,000 migrants are currently camping out in northern Mexico just waiting for the policy to officially end in a few hours.

Now, this is not just an issue that will affect U.S. cities near the southern border. Brownsville, Texas, official says migrants are requesting transportation to get to Chicago and Dallas and Houston and Brooklyn and Denver and Miami.

Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas this afternoon insisted that the Biden administration is prepared for every scenario.


ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We are clear-eyed about the challenges we are likely to face in the days and weeks ahead and we are ready to meet them. We prepared for this moment for almost two years and our plan will deliver results.


TAPPER: CNN has teams on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border covering this important story.

David Culver is in Ciudad Juarez after making a grueling journey along with migrants to the Mexico side of the border. We'll bring you his report in a second.

But we're going to start with Nick Valencia who's in Brownsville for us, Texas.

Nick, do officials in Brownsville, do they think they're prepared for whatever might happen at midnight tonight?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, city officials are projecting an air of confidence saying they are as prepared as they can be and hopeful that the policies put forward by the Biden administration, specifically opening up regional processing centers in the countries of origin, that many of these migrants are traveling to -- or traveling from, rather, are providing meaningful support or will provide meaningful relief here and they need it.

Just look at the scene behind me. Many of these migrants woke up on the streets of Brownsville because the respite centers are at capacity. They made it here, which is one challenge. But now, many of those that you're looking behind me are facing another challenge and that's being separated from their families.

Earlier, we spoke to one migrant who says he hasn't seen his wife for days and has no idea where she is.


VALENCIA: It's got to be so difficult waiting for news about your wife.

No one giving you information about where she is?

They deported her or he doesn't know anything.


VALENCIA: This is one of those immigration buses that drops off those after release on humanitarian parole. They come from the open fields where we were earlier today where we continue to see large groups of migrants travel through.


Of course, the big question is will there be enough space for them here in the city of Brownsville. They say they have a plan in place, Jake. Time will tell whether or not that plan will work -- Jake.

TAPPER: So, Alejandro Mayorkas said the Department of Homeland Security secretary, is really out there, he's been out there now for several days, if not weeks, saying don't come to the migrant community. Do not come. We are not going to let you in.

Is there any indication that they are getting the message?

VALENCIA: You know, Jake, this is a phenomenon that's gone on for decades. We have seen countless Department of Homeland Security secretaries deliver the same message. The fact of the matter is, these migrants are fleeing something they feel they have a better life here. So even if they are getting that message, they are going to travel to the United States one way or another -- Jake. TAPPER: All right. Nick Valencia in Brownsville, Texas, thanks.

Migrants trying to enter the U.S., they are not just coming from Mexico. Many are coming from South and Central America and have traveled literally for months to reach the border.

CNN's David Culver journeyed with some migrants riding on what's called the train of death for a chance to make it into the United States.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are just outside Ciudad Juarez and this is the last train stop for this freight train that's eventually going to head into the city. You can see already dozens of migrants in several of these cars on top of them, all about. They are asking if we have water, if we have food.

(voice-over): We climb on. The train slowly starts up again heading north. We meet migrants from all over.


CULVER: He says he's from Honduras originally and wants to go to the U.S.

Philippe Marcela (ph) from Colombia also hoping to enter the U.S.

I asked her why the U.S. she said to have a better future.

Omar from Venezuela.


CULVER: He is trying to get to Baltimore, Maryland.

We rode for an hour. They had been on here for days, 12 days for Roberto and his family.

He is with his dad and his sister.

He says they have been attacked, they have been robbed, and he describes really a treacherous trek. Part of the train journey north for some is what is called La Bestia, the beast. It's also known as the train of death and often controlled by cartels.

Roberto wears a facemask to not infect the others. Tells me he got sick early on in his travels. There is a lot of them that have been sick. Over the journey, he had to leave his kids, young ones.

He tells me his two toddlers nearly died, so he sent them back with family in Honduras as he continues on. They stand, sit, and sleep on metal construction beams covered in plastic. Dirty clothes and cardboard used to make it as comfortable as possible.

The heat and sun, brutal. At night, it's the cold and wind. The smells, a range -- sewage at times and burning trash as we drove past what appears to be an incinerator. Their souls, worn down.

He says it's dangerous for women, too, and they said food is really scarce right now.

Omar spent four days onboard already. Food has run out. He showed us the little water he has left and the documents he clings to, keeping secured in plastic.

He has gone through the different situations that would allow you to enter the U.S. you got it printed out in Spanish. And he's got the address -- of his friend in Baltimore that he hopes to get to.

Four days on the train for him. He said the first day he almost got really sick because the sun was so strong. And now, he's making sure to keep cover as much as possible, wants to go to New York.

For Omar, it's a familiar journey. He left Venezuela six months ago, already expelled once from the U.S. for trying to cross. He'll try again.

Legally or illegally, he will cross, he tells me. I ask him if he is hopeful.

I've got a lot of faith, he tells me.

Ultimately, he hopes to get money to send back to his two kids in Venezuela.


As we pull into Ciudad Juarez, about 25 miles still from the border wall with El Paso, we and the others climb out.

That's it. You can see most everyone now getting off. It's basically the last stop.

Omar, among the last off, carrying his only belongings and somehow a smile.

Planning to cross immediately.


CULVER (on camera): And we are giving you a live look right now at the destination for those migrants who are onboard that train along with us. And you can see some changes that we have noticed in the past hour or so, Jake. We have shown you this spot over the past couple of days, but there are two large groups now.

It seems that the Texas national guard along with CBP are separating single men to the far side and then closer to where we are, mostly families are together. Some of these families are starting to take their belongings and toss them into a big essentially dumpster. That's what happens before they are going to be processed and allowed to be allowed into the U.S. to go forward with their claims of asylum. With the single men who have been taken aside and put in to another

group, it's likely that it's following any sort of precedent that we have seen in the past, they will be brought back over the border from the U.S. right here to Mexico and that's part of the deportation expulsions that we have seen under Title 42. It's very possible that's exactly what's happening to that group, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. David Culver with some important reporting, thank you so much.

Joining me now to discuss is Blas Nunez-Neto. He's the assistant secretary for border and immigration policy at the Department of Homeland Security.

Thank you so much for joining us today on such a busy day.

What are -- what are your intelligence sources telling you about how many migrants the U.S. could be encountering daily? We've already heard it's been over 10,000 a day or are you expecting after midnight tonight, 15,000, 20,000 a day? What are you expecting?

BLAS NUNEZ-NETO, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR BORDER AND IMMIGRATION POLICY, DHS: Yeah, thank you very much, Jake, for having me on the show today.

Look, we know that there are many thousands of migrants, you know, in Mexico and along the transit routes coming north, you know, seeking to access our border. We have been working, you know, closely with our regional partners, including the government of Mexico, in order to, you know, increase enforcement on those routes. We have been averaging about 10,000 encounters a day. The last few days, you know, this is, you know, what we have been planning for, frankly, the better part of two years.

We always knew that the days leading up to the lifting of Title 42 and immediately after it were going to be challenging and that's why we have been relentlessly focused on preparing for it for so long.

TAPPER: You said and Secretary Mayorkas previously said you have been preparing for two years. If that's the case, why are you only just now surging these people, U.S. officials, to help at the border and why hasn't there been a bigger effort the last two years knowing this day would come to better convey and better prevent all of these unindicted individuals from coming into the country?

NUNEZ-NETO: So we have, in point of fact, been deploying people to the border on temporary details, you know, hundreds at a time now for the better part of two years. We have over the last two years been adding holding capacity at the border, you know, the CBP facilities hold 7,000 more people today than they could two years ago. So, we have been preparing.

I would point out that we asked Congress for $4.9 billion to help preparing for the lifting of Title 42. We got less than half of that from the Congress. So, we are working within the resources we have been given and the statues we have which are, frankly, broken and haven't been updated in decades to deal with this challenge that we, you know, knew was coming.

TAPPER: During -- it was almost 2 million undocumented immigrants thought to come to the U.S. during the first year of President Obama, the first 12 months, October to October, most of that president -- I'm sorry, President Biden. What do you think the number is going to be in a year? I mean, do you think this is going to be the biggest surge of undocumented immigrants and migrants coming into the U.S. ever?

NUNEZ-NETO: You know, so there is little doubt the last few years we have seen, you know, a surge in migration that has been large and we have, you know, reached numbers that we have not previously seen. That said, we have also, over the last two years, you know, expelled more than 3 million people from the United States, which is also a record.

So, you know, as we think about the lifting of Title 42, you know, we will return to immigration processes which as one of your correspondents noted take longer.


However, they also carry with them significant consequences for people who are removed. Consequences that don't exist for people who are expelled under Title 42. And so we believe that the measures that we have taken, including the, you know, rule that was published today, which puts some conditions on asylum eligibility for people who don't use lawful pathways will over time, you know, reduce the numbers we are seeing at the border.

TAPPER: Does the United States have enough means to take care of the potentially millions of people who will be in a humanitarian crisis at the border in Chicago, in New York, in Miami? I mean, are we going to be able to help these people? It just seems like we are already stretched so thin.

NUNEZ-NETO: That's a great question, Jake. I would say that we have been working closely with cities throughout the country and with NGOs to build capacity to receive migrants and to transport them. But these are the costs of a fundamentally broken immigration and asylum system.

You know, the president has asked Congress on day one of this administration to come together and work on a bipartisan basis on immigration reform. We have not seen that from Congress, and as one of your correspondents noted you have seen surges in migration happen under presidents of both political parties who have tried to deal with this through executive action, as we have. But until we get, you know, Congress to come together and meaningfully reform our laws, you know, I think we are going to continue to see these surges.

TAPPER: Isn't that kind of a copout? I mean, he is the president of the United States. You can say, Congress, you work it out. But he is the man in the arena.

I mean, he could be leading -- look, I get it's a high-risk low-reward situation. President Bush tried it and failed. President Obama tried it and failed. But doesn't a problem this difficult require presidential leadership and not just, oh, Congress, you work it out and bring me something?

NUNEZ-NETO: Well, I think -- I think we have been leading. You know, we have been, you know, through our executive authorities, you know, doing very innovative things to try to address this problem, both by overseeing an historic expansion in the lawful pathways that are available for migrants to come directly to the United States and also through imposing new consequences for those who insist on crossing irregularly between ports of entry.

However, in this country, you know, we are not a dictatorship. We are a democracy. That means that there are limits to what the president can do on his own without the U.S. Congress. So we continue to call on Congress to come, you know, join together, work with us on a bipartisan basis to, you know, build a lasting solution here.

TAPPER: Blas Nunez-Neto, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

NUNEZ-NETO: Thank you so much, Jake.

TAPPER: I'm going to bring in CNN's Priscilla Alvarez next with the policy that kicks in once Title 42 ends this evening, 11:59, and the strain this is going to put on U.S. border agents as well as American cities all over the country.

And coming up, what CNN is learning about groundwork that could lead to a U.S. prisoner swap with Russia in exchange for those two Americans still being wrongfully detained.

Plus, how Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville is trying to explain himself after seeming to suggest that white nationalists are just like any other American.



TAPPER: We're sticking with the big story in our world lead. One minute before the clock strikes midnight Eastern Time, U.S. immigration policy turns into a pumpkin. The pandemic era policy, Title 42, will expire and revert back to its original form, Title 8. Now without Title 42 in place, migrants will now either be removed from the country, detained or released into the U.S., now while their cases make their way through immigration courts.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us now.

Priscilla, so what will this policy change actually look like in reality as the number of migrant encounters with U.S. law enforcement just keeps climbing?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Jake, this boils down to a bottleneck issue. As you heard there, the numbers have been rising every single day. Sources tell me that it is now, yesterday, over 10,000. That's a new record for dealing encounters. So as they return to that decade-old protocol, it becomes how do you

process all of these people with, frankly, an outdated system? Under Title 42, for example, it took about 30 minutes to process them because they were quickly expelling them back to Mexico or their origin country. When you are processing under Title 8, it can take hours.

And so, that is what is front and center. And top of mind for officials is how to get through the number of people that are coming through. Now, of course, the flip side, it carries higher legal consequences and the hope among administration officials I talked to is that will discourage people from crossing.

For example, if you return, you under expedited removal, you could be barred from the U.S. for five years. So the administration is leaning in on enforcement to the point actually of introducing new policies that almost have echoes to the Trump-era by, for example, largely barring migrants who have come through other countries from seeking asylum at the U.S./Mexico border.

Now the argument from the administration is that they are opening lawful pathways to the United States, ways in which people can stay where they are and apply to come to the U.S. But all of this really becoming a challenge -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Priscilla, you just heard top immigration official telling me that, you know, this is going to be actually in some ways tougher for these migrant families in terms of the U.S. ability, for instance, to track the families as they are here.

How would that work?

ALVAREZ: That is a new program that is being rolled out. That would put some migrants not only with trackers like a GPS ankle monitor but also under home curfew. They would have to stay in their residence for a certain period of time. That's a new program they're rolling out in four cities for some of the migrants who are released from custody.

But look, Jake, I have been talking to administration officials all week and all day. Before it gets better, they say, it's going to get worse. And that is what they are staring down as this midnight deadline comes around.


TAPPER: Like that's the motto for the last few years. Before it gets better, it's going to get worse.

Priscilla Alvarez, thanks so much.

Let's go to Capitol Hill right now. CNN's Manu Raju is there.

And, Manu, you are keeping tabs on the fact that the House is voting right now on a Republican bill. Wide-ranging border security legislation.

How would this legislation impact immigration process and does it have any chance in the Senate?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It has no chance in the Senate, Jake. In fact, Senate Democratic leaders planning to ignore the bill. The White House has threatened to veto this bill.

And it's been the product of intense negotiations among Republicans in the House for months, trying to deliver on their promise to push for legislation to bolster border security. And that is the real aim of this proposal, to restart the progress on the border wall the southern border with Mexico as well as provide new restrictions on asylum seekers, reinstate the so-called stay in Mexico, remain in Mexico policy for those asylum seekers, change how the so-called E-Verify process works for employers to check their immigration status.

But even though the bill has been part of this negotiation among Republicans getting most Republicans onboard, the chance this is -- there is significant dividing lines between Republicans and Democrats. In fact, the vote just wrapped up, Jake, and the final vote passing the House 219-213. There were two Republicans who voted against it. Democrats, 213 Democrats voted -- or the Democrats who were present, I should say, voted against this as well.

So there were two Republicans who voted against it. So, it was a bipartisan opposition but not enough to scuttle it. Kevin McCarthy can only afford to lose four votes. He's able to maintain -- limit defections there to get it over the finish line.

There is some division, too, though, Jake, within the Democratic Party. Moderate Democrats in the Senate are pushing for legislation to allow the administration to continue with its expulsion authority, essentially allow them to kick -- to prevent immigrants from crossing the border even in the aftermath of Title 42 expiring.

But that bill does not have the support of Democratic leaders or the White House at this point, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Manu, you are also learning about a major development on a different issue and that's the fight over the debt ceiling, which the bill comes due June 1st. Tell us more.

RAJU: Yeah, that's right. We had expected a meeting to happen tomorrow at the White House between President Biden and the four congressional leaders, they met earlier this week. There have been staff level talks. Now we are told from multiple sources that that Friday meeting is in fact canceled. That the reason for that, they say, is to allow for staff level discussions to continue. Those staff level discussions that happened over the last couple of days, the effort is to try to narrow the differences between the two sides, to come to some sort of agreement.

So the leadership will not be meeting with Biden at the White House tomorrow. Perhaps they will meet next week. But time is of the essence. Each day that passes, the prospects of the first ever U.S. debt default increase substantially, Jake, which is why getting a deal by next week is essential in order to get a bill through both chambers of Congress before that June 1st deadline. But perhaps the staff negotiations are progressing, which is one reason why the leadership is indicating they will not meet tomorrow, allow the staff level talks to continue, Jake.

TAPPER: Manu Raju on Capitol, thanks so much.

Coming up, the punch line from team Biden after watching all of the lies from Donald Trump in that CNN town hall. Stay with us.



TAPPER: A, quote, weeks-worth of damning content in one hour, unquote. That's one advisor to President Biden characterized last night's CNN town hall with Donald Trump in which the former president repeated a litany of lies about the 2020 election and COVID and the January 6th insurrection. He made fun of E. Jean Carroll, the woman a jury found liable of him sexually abusing. He said he will pardon members of the violent mob he incited in January 2021.

CNN political director David Chalian is here to break down the fallout for us.

So, initially, David, correct me if I'm wrong, but Trump's team said they wanted to use this town hall, this opportunity to speak to Republican and unaffiliated voters in New Hampshire, to reach out to independent voters, to expand his base.

Do you think that that's what we saw last night?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, no, I don't think that's what we saw in Trump's performance nor do I think that's terribly surprising. I mean, I think we learned over the last eight years, Donald Trump is Donald Trump is Donald Trump. That's not going to change and this was Trump in full last night.

I think you saw in just the 70 minutes, Jake, you saw why some Republicans in the establishment, senators are still hammering this morning about this should not be the Republican nominee. It's why you saw he is the formidable frontrunner, you saw the adoration from this crowd of Republican primary voters in New Hampshire and clearly, as you noted in your intro, you saw that the Democrats think it could help motivate their voters to remind them of the things that have driven them to the polls in the Trump-era.

TAPPER: Oh, yeah. Before I went to bed last night, Biden team had turned at least one of the moments into digital content. President Biden tweeted this video just after it ended.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: January 6th was the largest crowd I ever have spoken to and they were there proud, they were there with love in their heart. That was an unbelievable and it was a beautiful day, and it was a beautiful day.


TAPPER: A beautiful day. And that's just one -- that's just one instance.


I personally think his I'm the one that overturned Roe v. Wade is not going to help him in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Michigan.

CHALIAN: Well, no doubt. So, those two issues, right, the issue of the democracy and January 6th and the attempting to overturn the election and lying about the 2020 election and all those election deniers that were on the ballot last year, and the overturning of Roe v. Wade, those were the two things that mitigated the Democrats' losses last cycle, why they were able to hang on to the Senate. You know that.

Even Donald Trump himself played pundit after the 2020 midterms and said because of the abortion issue Republicans didn't do as well as they could. But then you saw now, he is in the context of running in this Republican primary, he met with the leader of a pro-life group of the Susan B. Anthony List this week.

And while he wouldn't commit to what he would could as president, he clearly wanted to remind Republican primary voters that he was the guy that achieved their 50-year goal on this.

TAPPER: So, he is, obviously, the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination by far, although it's early. We have no idea what's going to happen.

Former Republican Congressman David Jolly, who's a long-time Trump critic, he tweeted this, quote: DeSantis, the governor of Florida who is thinking about running against Trump for the nomination, DeSantis might as well save his money for 2028. At this point there is zero chance Trump loses his grip on the GOP this cycle.

I assume he was responding to -- Congressman Jolly was responding to the audience's response. And I wasn't there. You were there.

But we heard applause for Trump saying he would pardon violent insurrectionists in prison, criminals. We heard them laughing when he made light of a sexual assault charge in which a jury sided with his victim. They certainly seemed enthralled.

CHALIAN: There is no doubt about it. I mean, he has one of the strongest connections I've ever seen a politician have with their base. This audience was made up of New Hampshire Republicans as you noted, independents, all who say they plan to vote in the Republican primary, and you could see there was adoration in the crowd for him. He still has that very strong bond. It's why, I think, he is the commanding frontrunner in this race.

I think Congressman Jolly, or former Congressman Jolly, to say zero chance before Ron DeSantis even gets in, we have miles to go in this Republican nomination. TAPPER: Yeah. There was a -- policy wise, a lot of -- a lot of things

that he said yesterday that were stunning. One of them was when he said something very different about the U.S. defaulting on its loans than he used to say when he was president.

When he was president, you should -- the government should never default on its loans. We should always raise the debt ceiling. Congress voted to do so when he was president with no spending cuts. That's not his position now.

Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I say to at Republicans out there, congressmen, senators, if they don't give massive cuts, you're going to have to do a default.


TAPPER: Now, first of all, he never pushed for massive cuts when he was president. Not once. Second of all, that would be, according to every, every respected expert, left, right and center devastating to the U.S. economy.

This is going to make it more difficult for Speaker McCarthy to come to some sort of deal with President Biden.

CHALIAN: There's no doubt. President Trump said it's illogical despite what every economic expert said. You are right to point that out.

But, yes. This is now going to give comfort to some of the hard-liners in McCarthy's conference as he is trying to negotiate a deal to avoid the first U.S. default ever, to avoid catastrophe to our economy, and now, Donald Trump has given cover for those hard-liners to hold Kevin McCarthy's feet to the fire. That makes the negotiating more difficult.

TAPPER: David Chalian, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up, phoning a friend. What sources tell CNN about outreach to U.S. allies to help with a potential prisoner swap with Russia.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Calling all Russian spies. According to sources, the Biden administration is attempting to source certain Russian criminals from allies in hopes of swapping them -- swapping them for two Americans currently detained in Russia, Paul Whelan and Evan Gershkovich. Currently, the United States does not have any high level Russian spies in their custody they say. Let's get right to CNN's Kylie Atwood at the State Department. She

broke this exclusive story for us.

Kylie, so which countries could have Russian spice that fit the bill here?

KYLIE ATWOOD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: U.S. officials outreach extends to Germany, Brazil, also a former Soviet bloc country and Norway. Those are among the countries that have recently arrested Russian spies. We know in the case of Germany, however, that Russia actually asked for a Russian spy who was in German custody convicted of murder, and the U.S. went to Germany last year to try to discuss the matter and that didn't actually go anywhere.

We don't know how far along the conversations with the other countries are, but we also know, Jake, that the Biden administration is trying to cast a wide net here. They are not only going to countries that have Russian spies in their custody, but also going to close U.S. allies to see if they can come up with some creative ideas to gin up Russian interest, things that the U.S. could use at leverage at the negotiating table because we know that they want to get out both Gershkovich and Paul Whelan at the same time.

TAPPER: Why do they need to find a Russian spy specifically?

ATWOOD: It's a really good question, because right now, the U.S. has in its custody a lot of Russian cyber criminals. But those just aren't the people that the Russians want in return for Gershkovich and Paul Whelan because the Russians are treating both of those wrongfully detained Americans as spies. And so what we have heard from U.S. officials who have been engaged with Russia on this topic is that when it came to Paul Whelan late last year, they made it clear that they wanted, in return, a Russian spy because they are treating Paul Whelan as an American spy, of course, even though the U.S. government and his family has denied that.


And they expect that Russia's going to make similar demands for Gershkovich. So they have to scour the globe to see who has Russian spies, which allies have Russian spies, that the U.S. could potentially offer up on the table as well as more creative ideas that they are trying to come up with right now -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Fascinating. Kylie Atwood at the State Department, let's hope they are successful, get Evan and Paul home.

Coming up, a major step towards justice, 18 years after the tragic disappearance of Natalee Holloway.



TAPPER: In our world lead today, some sense of relief for the family of Natalee Holloway, the American teenager who disappeared nearly 18 years ago in Aruba. Now one of the last people to see her alive is being brought to the United States. Joran van der Sloot, who is already serving time for murdering a different woman in Peru, he faces extortion and fraud charges in the U.S.

And CNN's Jean Casarez is now going to explain how this is all related to Holloway's disappearance 18 years ago.


JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Eighteen years after Alabama teenager Natalee Holloway vanished on a school trip in Aruba, the prime suspect in her disappearance is being extradited to the United States. Joran van der Sloot, who was one of the last people to see Holloway alive and twice detained in connection with her disappearance, will finally face federal charges in the U.S. for extortion and wire fraud.

BETH HOLLOWAY, MOTHER OF NATALEE HOLLOWAY: He knows exactly what happened. He knows what, where, when, who, why and how. He knows the answers.

CASAREZ: He is accused of extorting thousands from Holloway's mother, Beth, in exchange for details on the location of her daughter's remains.

According to legal documents, in March 2010, van der Sloot, quote, offered to take the cooperating witness to the location of Natalee Holloway's body, advise as to the circumstances of her death and identify those in her death and disappearance in return for a payment of $250,000. Papers were signed. A total of $25,000 was given to van der Sloot. And Holloway's attorney flew to Aruba. Van der Sloot took the attorney to a house, saying her body was buried within the foundation.

Soon after fleeing to Peru with the $25,000, he e-mailed the Holloways saying, quote, he had lied about the location of Natalee's remains. Extortion charges were filed a short time later.

In May 2005, the 18-year-old Holloway was last seen leaving a nightclub in Aruba with van der Sloot and two other men. All three were charged by Aruban prosecutors in 2007 for involvement in manslaughter, but a judge ordered their release, citing a lack of direct evidence. Her body was never found.

Beth Holloway said in a statement she would be 36 years old now. It has been a very long and painful journey, but the persistence of many is going to pay off. Together, we are finally getting justice for Natalee.

After the U.S. legal proceedings conclude, van der Sloot will be sent back to Peru according to a statement from Peru's judiciary to a Peruvian prison where he is serving time for the murder of 21-year-old Stephany Flores.

She was murdered five years after Holloway's disappearance. CNN was allowed exclusive access to van der Sloot's cell shortly after his arrest, and in 2012, he was sentenced to 28 years in prison for that murder.


CASAREZ (on camera): And the attorney for Joran van der Sloot is telling CNN tonight that he is vowing to fight this request for extradition, saying that he believes that the charges are too old. But there is that extradition treaty between the United States and Peru. It was signed in 2001. And as I read it, I do not see a date.

And Jake, you know, I was in Peru for a month when Joran van der Sloot was being arrested. I was in his cell when they took him out. The prison Castro-Castro that he was in is a very violent prison, and he will have a wake-up call when he comes to the United States because Jake, they can wear their own clothes in prison, they can carry knives in the prison and you can make a meal and take it to the prisoner anytime you want.

TAPPER: All right. Jean Casarez, thanks so much.

Coming up, the remarks about white nationalists in the military from Alabama Senator Tommy Tuberville, and then his attempt to clean up those remarks.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, the promising signs a vaccine could be the cancer-fighting breakthrough that the world has been waiting for.

Plus, Alabama Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville just spoke to CNN about his previous comments suggesting that white nationalists are just like any other American. Did he clarify what he meant?

And leading this hour, at least one criminal charge expected soon in the chokehold death on that New York City subway. Sources say that Daniel Penny, the U.S. marine who restrained Jordan Neely earlier this month, is expected to surrender to police tomorrow morning.

Witnesses say Neely was shouting and disruptive, saying that he was hungry, thirsty, had little to live for. He made some other passengers uncomfortable. And then Penny put him in a chokehold, which killed him.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live for us in New York.

Omar, what charge or charges is penny expected to face?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, so as we understand from two sources familiar with the case who tell CNN that the D.A.'s office has decided to move forward with a manslaughter charge here. Of course, this was something that we had been waiting to hear for a while now, ever since a few days after this happened and after video circulated of Daniel Penny, this 24-year-old marine who had put Jordan Neely in a chokehold on a subway car.

Now, he is expected, Penny, to turn himself in to police Friday morning as these proceedings move forward.

And one thing that was really critical in this case here is a lot of the videos that came out showed what was happening after the chokehold had actually taken place, after it was already under way, essentially.

So a lot of what was being looked at here was what led up to this actual moment.