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The Lead with Jake Tapper

5 Americans Detained In Iran Released On House Arrest; At Least 36 Killed In Catastrophic Maui Wildfires; Rep. James Comer (R-KY), Is Interviewed About House Republicans Accusing Biden Of Corruption; How YouTube Cop-Watchers Are Changing Policing; Gold Star Families Demand Answers On Afghanistan Withdrawal. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired August 10, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: We're going to get another update on the aftermath on the ground in Maui.

Plus a new twist on the show Cops, where ordinary citizens are turning the cameras on the police and then sharing the video on YouTube. But is this about more than accountability?

Leading this hour, four wrongfully detained Americans in Iran have been released from a notorious Iranian prison and are now on house arrest in a hotel according to one of their lawyers. In exchange, the Biden administration has agreed to unfreeze $6 billion of frozen Iranian assets. The three named and one unnamed Americans were moved from Tehran's notorious Evin prison to a hotel guarded by Iranian officials earlier today. CNN's Christiane Amanpour was first to break the story. She also spoke with one of the Iranian American detainees in an unprecedented interview from Evin present back in March. She joins us now.

And Christiane, Siamak Namazi took a huge risk talking to you, but it does seem his message has been heard.

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL HOST: Well, let's help so because he was desperate. And you're absolutely right, he told me desperate times, you know, me, you have to take desperate measures. And it was an extraordinary thing for somebody to be able to tell, you know, take a phone call out of Evin. He had been in nearly eight years, so he had certain privileges, like the ability to use a phone, but never had that been allowed to the press and he didn't get permission, he just did it. But it just goes to show how desperate they were and how they absolutely wanted to get their message in front and center of the Biden administration to try to get this resolved because they were wrongfully detained.

And Siamak had been, you know, left behind three times, once under the Obama administration prisoner swap, and twice under the Trump administration. Anyway, this is what he told me back then.


AMANPOUR (on camera): It was a heartfelt plea heard around the world.

SIAMAK NAMAZI, AMERICAN PRISONER, IRAN: Honestly, the other hostages and I desperately need President Biden to finally hear us out, to finally hear our cry for help and bring us home. And I suppose desperate times call for desperate measures. So, this is a desperate measure. I'm clearly nervous.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Siamak Namazi was Iran's longest held American prisoner. He was arrested in 2015 while on a business trip, and then sentenced to 10 years for, quote, "collaborating with a hostile state." Namazi, a dual citizen always denied the charge and Washington accused Iran of wrongfully detaining him. This was the desperate appeal he made to us from inside Evine prison in our unprecedented conversation.

NAMAZI: I think the very fact that I've chosen to take this risk and appear on CNN from Evin prison, it should just tell you how dire my situation has become by this point. I spend months caged. I spent months caged in a solitary cell that was a size of a closet, sleeping on the floor, being fed like a dog from under the door. And honestly, that was the least of my troubles.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Siamak's elderly father, Baquer (ph) who's now 86, was lured to Iran in 2016, with the promise of seeing his son. Instead, he too, was arrested, in prison for two years and then barred from leaving the country. He was finally allowed out last October to seek medical treatment abroad, he's never stopped publicly campaigning for his son's release.

BAQUER NAMAZI, FATHER OF IMPRISONED AMERICAN CITIZEN: I will never truly be free until CR Mac is here beside me. I could not be more proud of his courage, but I don't want him to have to be brave anymore. I want him to be safe. I want him to be free, to live he should have been living for the past seven years. I want him to be home.

AMANPOUR (voice-over): Among the other hostages released along with Namazi, a businessman Emad Shargi, and Morad Tahbaz, who have both been held for more than five years. They say they never so much as jay walked and they were held only as Americans to be traded on the geopolitical market. Before their release, their families tried to rally support.

NEDA SHARGHI, SISTER OF EMAD SHARGI: I know that they are desperate, that they are scared and they feel like they've been forgotten, they have been determined officially by the Department of State by our Secretary of State as having been taken, detained by the Iranians for one reason, and that is because they are Americans.

TARA TAHBAZ, DAUGHTER OF MORAD TAHBAZ: My father is an amazing person. He is so calm, so kind, so generous, so noble. And I think just how my siblings and I have been able to carry ourselves through this surreal nightmare is just a testament to him and my mother and everything that they've instilled in us and who they are.

[17:05:00] AMANPOUR (voice-over): Former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson who advocates for some of these families puts it bluntly.

BILL RICHARDSON, FORMER NEW MEXICO GOVERNOR: And this has happened in Russia, Venezuela, Iran, North Korea, it's a pattern. It's a new hostage diplomacy that we have to start confronting.

NAMAZI: Just do what's necessary to end this nightmare and bring us home. Thank you.

AMANPOUR (on camera): We'll get that message out, Siamak.

(voice-over): These few may finally have been released, but will they be the last American hostages taken by Tehran?


AMANPOUR: So emotional and you can just see it from a human perspective. But of course, this is wrapped up in geopolitics, as we said. There are in fact five Americans, it turns out, two of them have not been named. And so, we don't know who actually they are. Their families have not made their names public.

We CNN got a response, a statement from the Iranian government, in which they said that their release was a humanitarian gesture on their behalf. But they specifically said that this was agreement done through a third party government between the U.S. and Iran, that would pardon and reciprocally release five prisoners. So, obviously Iran is waiting for five prisoners to be released from the United States. And importantly, though, this is absolutely only a first step until all the, you know, I's are dotted and T's are crossed and the deal is complete, these Americans will not be able to leave the country.

TAPPER: CNN's Christiane Amanpour with remarkable reporting. Stick around if you would. I want to bring in White House National Security Council spokesman, retired Rear Admiral John Kirby, who joins us now.

Admiral, thanks for joining us. So Iran is one of the only four countries in the U.S. that the government of -- the U.S. government officially designates as a state sponsor of terrorism. The first question is, how was this done? I know the U.S. does not negotiate with terrorists, but this negotiation was done through a third party. Is it Switzerland who did the negotiation?

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: It was right, through our Swiss representatives, that's right, Jake. Yes, that's exactly right. And it was -- it was a Swiss representative, our protecting power, if you will, since we don't have diplomatic relations with Iran, who checked in on these four once they got out of prison, and verified to us that they were in fact out.

TAPPER: So, that's five U.S. detainees, who are now out of prison, but on house arrest, and is the exchange going to be for five Iranian prisoners here in the United States as well as more than $6 billion in frozen Iranian assets being unfrozen? KIRBY: I think I'm going to refrain from getting too much into the specifics of the negotiations, Jake, they're ongoing. Today was a important first step, but it was just a first step. They are out of prison, but they are not out of Iran. And so we're going to be a little careful here about what we put in the public space about what the negotiations are going to look like. Once they get home, and they're safe and sound back with their families where they belong, then I think we'll be a little bit more at liberty to talk with more specificity on what the negotiations look like, but they aren't -- those negotiations are active, Jake, they're not -- they're not done.

TAPPER: Just to jog everyone's memory out there, in 2016, U.S. officials confirmed that President Obama secretly approved a $400 million cash transfer to Iran. This was --


TAPPER: -- also previously frozen Iranian assets. On the same day, Iran released four American prisoners and formally implemented the nuclear deal. We even saw a video from Iranian state media which appeared to show actual pallets of cash. This obviously became very controversial, Republicans jumped on it, insisting that this was basically negotiating with terrorists, a ransom payment --

KIRBY: Right.

TAPPER: -- the White House denied that. Just this afternoon, Republican presidential candidate Mike Pence said, quote, "Biden has authorized the largest ransom payment in America -- in American history to the Mullahs in Tehran," unquote. What would your response to that be?

KIRBY: That he's wrong. Just plain and simple. Look, well, I can't tell you everything that we're doing and what everything that this is, I can certainly tell you what it's not. And there's not going to be a ransom payment. There's not going to be sanctions relief. There's no US taxpayer dollars that are going to be applied to getting these Americans home.

And the $6 billion, without getting into the details of the negotiations, I think there's a little confusion about what the -- what this account is all about. This is part of a system of accounts, that was set up in the previous administration that allowed some countries to import Iranian goods, non sanctionable goods, and that the Iranians could pull on those accounts, those payments through the -- through a special system only use for humanitarian purposes. And that's what we're talking about here. It's an -- it's a pre-existing account that was set up in the previous administration, which they allowed other countries to set up that has not been made accessible to the Iranians. They'd be able to have some access to it, but only for humanitarian purposes.

TAPPER: Five Americans who are part of this deal that we know of being released from the Evin prison, four of them, and put in a house arrest in a hotel, the fifth one already was in that house arrest.


KIRBY: Right.

TAPPER: Are there -- removing them from the equation, we certainly all hope -- we certainly hope that they all get out of Iran and back to the United States. Are there any other American citizens or American green card holders still detained in Iranian prisons unfairly, be other than those five?

KIRBY: These are the five that the State Department have designated as wrongfully detained.

TAPPER: One American, also taken by Iran in 2007, of course, Robert Levinson, is believed to be dead. Is there any new information that the U.S. might have about Mr. Levinson?

KIRBY: Well, I wish we had more, Jake, but we don't. And I have nothing more that I can unfortunately say, you know, certainly to his family, but I just -- we just don't.

TAPPER: What would you say to somebody out there, and it's my last question, sir, who says, OK, so this money, let's say it's $6 billion, because I don't have another figure to go by and you didn't offer an alter to anyone, $6 billion and Iranian assets that are unfrozen, whether it's -- I mean, you say it's not American taxpayer dollars. And that's accurate. Still, it does seem like we are giving the Iranians something. And certainly I can understand why the common man or woman out there might say, you know, that's a ransom payment. I mean, I'm glad these --


TAPPER: -- I'm glad these Americans are getting home, but that's the ransom payment.

KIRBY: Well, a couple of things here. First of all, negotiations are about giving and taking. And there was no universe in which we were going to get these five Americans home without some bartering, some compromising with the Iranians. And that bargain was ongoing right now. So again, I don't want to get too far ahead of what it's going to actually look like the terms -- the scope of the -- of the negotiation in the deal.

But on this ransom, this is not a ransom. And it's important to remember that the account from which money could be accessed by the Iranians is an account set up in the previous administration that allowed other countries to import non sanctionable goods. It's not something that the Biden administration created, but it is it's a series of accounts that Iran has pulled on before, they haven't been able to pull on one account. And what we're talking about is the possibility of making that one account that has been in existence for several years, more accessible to the Iranians, but it would be again, under the same level of limits, they can only pull from that account for humanitarian purposes. And there is a oversight mechanism that's already built into that process, so it's not ransom. And again, no U.S. taxpayer dollars involved here. I think at the end of the day, Jake, you know, there's going to be criticism, there already been criticism, we understand that. I hope that at the end of the day, everybody, no matter who you vote for, can understand how important it is to get these families reunited to get these Americans back home. And yes, sometimes that means making some tough decisions and some tough calls, you and I have talked about several of those in the past, President is not afraid to make those tough decisions, because he cares that much about the safety and security of Americans overseas.

TAPPER: Agreed. It is not an easy story and not an easy terrain to negotiate to get these Americans home. Admiral John Kirby, good to see you as always.

Let's bring back a CNN Chief International Anchor, Christiane Amanpour.

So, Christiane, you just heard Mr. Kirby say there's -- it's not a ransom payment, no sanctions relief, no U.S. taxpayer dollars will be used. What is this then in your view?

AMANPOUR: Well, I think John Kirby is absolutely right, it's not ransom. I mean, look, if you want to talk about all these things, they've been going on since time immemorial, since the beginning of the Islamic Revolution. Successive American presidents have had to do the necessary to get Americans back, you know, from the beginning of the Reagan administration all the way through to this one, and for -- with respect, Vice President Pence to cast aspersions, remember, he was the vice president for President Trump who went to two such deals to get two Americans back. Before that, President Obama did too, you mentioned it as part of the Iran nuclear deal, and before that, and before that, the presidents did it.

Right now, President Biden this year has entered a deal of reciprocity with the Russians to get back Brittney Griner and trying to get back others. These are the facts of life. And to protect American life, sometimes these have to happen. I'm not -- Kirby didn't say to you, and I'm not sure whether I've got this right, but from what I understand about the money, it is not even American money, forget taxpayers dollars, it's South Korean money. Apparently the money is the money that South Korea owes Iran for that amount of oil that Iran delivered to it, but because of the global sanctions regime, they were not allowed to return it.

So, in this case, apparently that's the case. But you know, again, in terms of getting these prisoners back, we don't know all the deals or all the -- all the, you know, all the details and it will take some time.

TAPPER: It's very difficult. Obviously, the U.S. still trying to negotiate for Evan Gershkovich and Paul Whelan --


AMANPOUR: Yes. TAPPER: -- who have been detained unfairly in Russia. Do you see this as a way for the Iranian regime to try to counter the rightly negative reputation it has for Iran's morality police cracking down beating, imprisoning and executing women and supporters for women not covering their hair after nearly a year of mass protests following the death, if not murder of Mahsa Jina Amini?

AMANPOUR: I think the two are very separate, like it's separate from the nuclear deal and others. But you're absolutely right that the protests, the crackdown, the, you know, the harsh penalties, imprisonment, even extrajudicial executions in the wake of Mahsa Amini's death and the protest movement has caused the United States and other countries to sort of slow down negotiations. It just wasn't palatable. It wasn't politically palatable to be able to do that. And that's one of the roadblocks that the hostage negotiations ran into.

And I think that what you're going to see those, some have suggested is potentially it's a de-escalation between the United States and Iran at least until the end of the election.

TAPPER: All right, Christiane Amanpour, remarkable reporting. Thank you so much as always.

CNN is on the ground in Hawaii where unprecedented wildfires have caused widespread destruction. Crews are fearing that they could find more victims in the rubble, we're going to take you there.



TAPPER: Our national lead brings us back to Hawaii where dozens are dead and 1000s are homeless. The wildfires which suddenly erupted on Tuesday fueled by a hurricane, the winds of a hurricane 800 miles away could take years to fully recover from. This was the once bustling Maui tourist town of Lahaina on the left. On the right, you can see it's been much of it reduced to ash. Let's get right to CNN's Veronica Miracle who's on the ground on the Island of Maui.

Veronica, show us where volunteers are focusing their efforts.

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, right now they're focusing their efforts on getting supplies to those people who were stuck in Lahaina by land and by sea. And so, there are a couple of boats behind me, they've been bringing supplies to these boats all morning. These volunteers put out a call asking people to just bring supplies to this location. And people showed up in droves. They've been loading up those boats for the last hour.

And in fact, they have so many supplies till they were able to get a trailer, so they're going to be taking this by car as well to those individuals. Take a listen to why these people are so moved. Some of them have firsthand accounts. Some of those individuals experienced the escaping themselves. I just spoke to a man who said he got out with his dog and his two children and now that he is safe, he is trying to help those who are still stuck. The numbers are staggering. At least 36 people are presumed are dead, and there are presumed to be more. Absolutely devastating. Less than 11,000 people are still without power. Take a listen to the organizer about why he felt so compelled to bring all of these people together.


CAPTAIN CAMPBELL FARELL: This fire bombs were so big, they were sucking oxygen out of the air. People were -- didn't have oxygen to breathe, and they were just falling in the place.

I think this is an absolutely top level national disaster. We've never seen anything like it. I've been here 32 years and we've lived through some hurricanes and floods and things but nothing to this level.


MIRACLE: Some of the supplies that are here, diapers, water, food, bedding, anything that those people might need, including gasoline, we're told that some people are just not able to get out because they don't have enough gas in their tank. So all of these supplies are heading out in the next hour.

This is just one group. There are many groups, all these people coming together hoping that it will help in some small way. Jake.

TAPPER: Veronica Miracle on the island of Maui for us, thanks so much.

Let's go to the mayor of Hawaii County, Mitch Roth, who joins us now from the Big Island.

Mayor Roth, thanks for joining us. So earlier this morning, you said evacuations were lifted in your county, which covers the Big Island. But you added that the island is not completely in the clear, two new brush fires popped up. What's -- what makes you confident those fires will not erupt into the monster wildfires that happened and are still happening in some ways on Maui?

MAYOR MITCH ROTH, HAWAII COUNTY, HAWAII: Well, you know, we had actually three or four on the corner side. And then we have two and both of those have also been put out. So, right now we're kind of in a place -- we're in a pretty good place, actually. Fire crews have things under control. And we've actually changed our focus from, you know, being concerned about what's happening on the Big Island to seeing what we can do to help Maui County.

And we set up a task force over here. There's -- you know, the whole state, I'm guessing the whole country wants to help in what ways they can. And so, on our island, we set up a task force so that we're not overwhelming the mayor and his staff over there.

TAPPER: And Mayor Roth, you're receiving evacuees from Maui, from the Island of Maui on the Big Island, where you are how many evacuees are on the Big Island right now? And what resources are most needed right now for them? ROTH: So, what's happening with the evacuees, there's some hotels that I've actually have sister hotels on Maui, they've taken some people. Some of our hotels, I think have also had people come over here. The majority of the evacuees, though, are going to Honolulu to the convention center. So, you know, the people are coming here really aren't coming into our shelters are generally going into hotels who are willing to take them -- take them in.

TAPPER: All right, Hawaii County mayor, Mitch Roth, saying thank you so much, and obviously prayers with the people of Hawaii.

If you want to know how to help you can go to for a list of charities that have been vetted by CNN that can help the good people of Hawaii.

Coming up, Republicans in Congress pledging to investigate Joe Biden, have they found any actual evidence of corruption by Joe Biden, the President. The chair of the House Oversight Committee, James Comer of Kentucky, will join me live next.



TAPPER: Continuing with our politics lead, we turn to the push by House Republicans to at the very least open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. On Wednesday, Republicans on the House Oversight Committee released a memo stating, quote, "The committee has now identified over $20 million in payments from foreign sources to the Biden family and their business associates," end quote. The memo does not show any of that money going directly to Joe Biden, the President. We are joined now by the committee's chairman, Republican Congressman James Comer of Kentucky.

Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us. So the memo alleges payments to Biden family members and associates, but not to President Biden himself. Your committee memo anticipates any pushback on this by stating, quote, President Biden's defenders purport a weak defense by asserting the committee must show payments directly to the President to show corruption, unquote. But was respectfully, sir, you're the one who said repeatedly that this investigation is about President Joe Biden, not his family over and over. Here's what you said last November.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: I want to be clear, this is an investigation of Joe Biden. And that's where the committee will focus in this next Congress.


TAPPER: So let's pause it for the sake of argument that Hunter Biden is sleazy. And the President's relatives tried to profit off the Biden family brand, something CNN has reported on, what's new in this memo? COMER: Well, before we release the memo, we interviewed Devon Archer, who was one of the associates who was partial owner of one of the Shell companies that the Biden's were receiving money from foreign nationals and then laundering it into Biden bank accounts. So the associate, Devon Archer, testified that Joe Biden had in fact spoken to over 20 of the people who had wired the money to the Biden family members.

Now the reason that's important, Jake, is because the President said repeatedly, he had never spoken to his son or anyone affiliated with his son in their business dealings. Now, there is no business. So what the business was, according to Devon Archer was they were taking money from foreign nationals. And they were marketing Joe Biden. Joe Biden was the brand. So that is the first associate that came in implicated Joe Biden as being the reason they we're getting this money.

And the money is from bad people. The money is from people who are either incarcerated in the countries where they wired the money or they are on the flee from being incarcerated. So we're concerned that the President is compromised, because of the millions of dollars in his family to proceed. And remember, Jake, the President hasn't been truthful with the American people.

First of all, he said he never communicated with these people. Devon Archer testified that he has 20 times in fact, at least, and then he said that none of this money ever happened while he was vice president. We didn't know this at the beginning of that investigation. But what we know now is the overwhelming majority of the wire transfers happen while Joe Biden was vice president. And they happen days after he left those countries with foreign aid checks are talking about foreign aid.

So there is a pattern here that should concern every American with respect to corruption in the White House.

TAPPER: Well, you definitely have made a case that the people who are around President Biden, in terms of the lobbyists and his son Hunter have trafficked on that connection to the then vice president now president, but I haven't yet seen any evidence that the President did anything wrong.

Listen, you talked about Devon Archer, Hunter Biden's former business partner, listen to something Devon Archer told Tucker Carlson earlier this month, about Burisma. Now Burisma, as people remember probably, that is that Ukrainian energy company that put Hunter Biden on its board while his father was vice president. Take a listen.


TUCKER CARLSON, "TUCKER CARLSON TONIGHT" HOST: Did you ever -- were you aware, do you have knowledge that Hunter spoke to his dad about Burisma?


CARLSON: Yes. Do you know that Hunter spoke to his dad about Burisma? Did you ever see them talk about it, hear them talk about it was --

ARCHER: No. I don't have knowledge of that, though, I assume it.

CARLSON: You assume it. So it's enough to be sitting in a meal at Lake Como with your new Ukrainian friends and why your dad happens to call, let's put him on speaker.

ARCHER: That would be that -- I think that's enough. That's the mode this, you know, the second most powerful man in the world. It's just how the world works.


TAPPER: So it's assumptions. It's how the world works. But again, just looking for evidence, because we're talking about impeachment here. I don't see any evidence of any crime. And, frankly, that is how the world works in Washington, D.C. And if you guys are going to launch an effort to try to reform Washington, so people who are powerful can't have their wives and children and husbands and others traffic on that relationship, you know, I'll be first in line to help you out. But it doesn't seem like you're trying to do that. It seems like you're trying to just go after President Biden.

COMER: No. We're trying to do that. That's been the goal from day one is to have a legislative fix. A lot of the President's defenders especially in the media say that well, this influence peddling is a cottage industry in Washington. Well, it needs to change. But let's just go back to not having any evidence of wrongdoing with Joe Biden. Look, six banks --

TAPPER: By Joe Biden, not -- like, it's certainly their sleaze, their sleaze there. I'm saying what did the President do wrong though?


COMER: Well, remember when we started this investigation at the end of January that's when I got subpoenaed about the last week of January, the narrative was the laptop with Russian disinformation. Joe Biden's family never received money from China. Joe Biden family never received any of this money while he was vice president. And Joe Biden never communicated with any of the people that sent his family this money. All four of those things have been proven false.

So our investigations already turned up a lot of information. Now, I think, even though there may not be the curiosity, by my friends at CNN, I think there's curiosity by majority of Americans, wait a minute, you're telling me --

TAPPER: I'm very curious about it, sir. I'm very curious about it. That's why I'm reading your reports. That's why I have you on the show. I just haven't seen --

COMER: And I appreciate it.

TAPPER: But look, here's the memo insists that even though there's no evidence, Biden took personally took the money, it doesn't get them off the hook. It calls the argument, quote, a hollow claim, no other American would be afforded if their family members accepted foreign payments or bribes, unquote. OK, fair enough. Let me play something that Chris Christie told our Kaitlan Collins.


CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And look, the Trump family has been involved in grifting for quite some time. Jared Kushner, six months after he leaves the White House gets $2 billion from the Saudi sovereign wealth fund when Donald Trump had put him in a position to be in the Middle East. What was Jared Kushner doing in the Middle East?


TAPPER: Again, sir, it all stinks to me, it all stinks.

COMER: Yes, look, and I've been vocal that I think that what Kushner did crossed the line of ethics. What Christie said it happened after he left office, still no excuse, Jake. But it happened after he left office. And Jared Kushner actually has a legitimate business. This money from the Biden's happened while Joe Biden was vice president, while he was flying to those countries, he flew. Days after he left Romania, his family started receiving wires from corrupt Romanian for national.

Days, they got four days after he left, including his granddaughter, what's his granddaughter doing getting a wire from a Romanian foreign national. This is why we're investigating. And it's difficult, Jake. It's very difficult. The Biden attorneys are obstructing. They're intimidating witnesses. The DOJ will not cooperate with us. The FBI will not cooperate with us. The FBI will not cooperate with us. The IRS will not cooperate with us. Thank God we had whistleblowers from the IRS testify on our committee that they were told to stand down by the DOJ.

TAPPER: Sir, we had one of those -- we had those -- we had one of those whistleblowers on the show actually. We did an interview with him, I don't know if you knew that.

COMER: Well, CNN done a better job than a lot. That's why I'm on the show. And I'm a fan, Jake. And I'm working with you on this. But I do think that there's certainly overwhelming evidence. Remember there's a text message from Hunter Biden to his daughter complaining that he had to give his father half his salary. So we've gone through a lot of bank records.


COMER: We haven't gone through all the bank records. But look, we've caught Joe Biden and several lies, including they never spoke with any of these corrupt people from these foreign countries that sent his family money. He had dinner with some of them we found in this. He had, you know, so there's, I think, more than enough evidence to show that Joe Biden hasn't been truthful with the American people. And, you know, he had knowledge that his family was money laundering. He had to -- you think the Treasury --

TAPPER: Well, money -- but money -- look, if there's evidence of money laundering, which is a crime, which is a federal crime, then obviously your committee should report it to the FBI and the Justice Department.

COMER: And that's why the judge picked it out. That's one of the reason the Delaware judge rejected the sweetheart plea deal. There was clearly violations of the Foreign Agent Registration Act and money laundering.

TAPPER: Right. Republican Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer of Kentucky, you come back when you got more to talk about.

COMER: We will work with you, Jake. Thanks for having me.

TAPPER: All right, thanks sir.


How ordinary citizens are turning the script on the show "Cops" using just their cell phones and YouTube. That's next.


TAPPER: In Indiana the ACLU has filed a lawsuit over a new law that forces citizens to stay 25 feet away from police activity when asked to do so. CNN's Josh Campbell takes a closer look now with this ongoing battle.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm on public sidewalk.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a traffic stop. You do not belong here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm -- I'm far away.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's become a YouTube staple, cop watching.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't touch me.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): People are recording interactions between the police and the public and then posting them online.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back again with another video.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Where they're racking up millions of views.

WILLIAM GUDE, POLICE ACCOUNTABILITY ACTIVIST: By having the film ourselves from a different perspective, allows us to document the incident, document the misconduct and then from there we can take it to the public.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Cop Watching or First Amendment Auditing is hardly a new trend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can I get your name and badge number?

CAMPBELL (voice-over): But it's grown more prevalent in recent years after a 2020 video shot by a 17-year-old bystander captured the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police Officer using excessive force.

GUDE: If it wasn't for somebody actually filming that incident, no officer would have been held accountable. It's powerful when we can actually show the public what happened as opposed to a police narrative.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Cop watcher say, their goal is to keep the police from overstepping and to inform people of their rights. And while they rake in views, some are also making money.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Back at it once again.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): From ads and subscriptions. But while critics say some cop watchers film in ways that are controversial, are seen as aggressive towards law enforcement.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I obstructing the roadway?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're in the roadway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Am I obstructing it? That's the only law.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): And could be increasing tensions between police and the public.

GUDE: I personally think I calm down the situation. When I show up cops act differently. We all act differently when people are watching.


CAMPBELL (on camera): So you've arrived at a scene started filming and seen a noticeable change in the posture of police?

GUDE: Every night. All the time.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I've reviewed a lot of video taken by citizens regarding police conduct, and it does give you a clearer picture of what actually took place.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Videos can be selectively edited, but when legitimate offer a different view than an officer's body camera.

RAMSEY: As long as the officers' actions are consistent with their training, with their department policy, and most of all, are constitutional, then it's not a problem at all.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): In recent years, several states have tried to pass laws, creating more physical distance between people and police. Last month, a new law in Indiana went into effect ordering people to stay 25 feet back from police activity when asked. This week the ACLU sued on behalf of a citizen journalist saying that law violates his First Amendment rights. The ACLU challenged an Arizona law last year that tried to make it illegal for people to record videos within eight feet of police activity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The First Amendment allows me to do this.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): That law was put on hold.

RAMSEY: People have a right to film the police. They don't have a right to interfere with the police trying to do their jobs and make an arrest but they have every right in the world to film. That's just a fact and police officers have to adapt to it.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Josh Campbell for that report.

Thirteen American service members were killed in a suicide bombing during the botched Afghanistan withdrawal. But two years later, one mom is still waiting for answers about what happened to her son. She joins me next.



TAPPER: It has been nearly two years since 13 U.S. service members were killed in that suicide attack at the Kabul Airport during the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. This week, some of their families spoke out about their loss for the first time publicly, including the mother of Staff Sergeant Taylor Hoover.


KELLY BARNETT, MOTHER OF STAFF SGT. TAYLOR HOOVER: His third time on African soil, he was concerned about began the moment that he landed and saw what he saw. His words were chaos, no communication, lack of leadership. He said he never seen anything like it. And like I said he was in Afghanistan two times before. He told me, mom, I now know that the command cares nothing for us. My son, these 12 others left this earth thinking that their command cared nothing for them.


TAPPER: And Taylor's mother Kelly Barnett joins us now. And Ms. Barnett, I know you've been hesitant to speak out about what happened to your son. And I totally respect that. Why have you decided to talk publicly now about it?

BARNETT: Thanks. Thank you, Jake. Well, you know, I, you know, if you give me a little leeway here, when I first saw, you know, the text saying CNN wanted to talk to me, I was so happy. Where have you all been? We need you, Jake. We need you. We need CNN. We need all the other networks to voice our opinions, our truths and get it out there. We need the country to come together. I want justice for my son. He fought and he died for this country, not for conservatives, not for liberals. He fought for all of us. My job as his mom is to make sure that we come together and make sure this never happens again. And that all of our voices are our truths are always able to be told and that we get to the bottom of this. So like I said that it never happens again.

TAPPER: Yes, I know. We've been covering the story of the batch withdrawal since it happened. And it's just heartbreaking. You have said that the Biden administration lied to you about what happened that day. Tell us more about that. What did they tell you that was wrong?

BARNETT: First off, they told me that my son died on impact, which is completely 100 percent false. He lived. He put a tourniquet on himself. He handed out his animals to his men because, you know, gunfire is going off. So he, you know, he did live for a little while. I now know because of witnesses that were there. You know, how he -- where he was when he passed. They lied to about where he was standing.

And again, from witnesses, I now know where that truth is. I'm not really sure, you know, they even know where he was at this point. But I know where he was. They've given false statements. You know, the autopsy, my daughter is an ER nurse and no one over the autopsy. There's some discrepancy there. But it's just -- things that shouldn't really, I mean, in the holes, things, why would lie about those things that are most important to me, when it doesn't really cloud the mission, the investigation. I don't understand. But that's the one thing that I am concerned about.

TAPPER: Sometimes President Biden and other opinion leaders, other leaders of government watch the show. If President Biden were watching right now, what would you want to say to him?

BARNETT: I wanted to say to him that he needs to be a grown man. He needs to come out and say, yes, I made a mistake. I chose wrong. I was looking for a photo op and I messed up that's what he needs to do.


TAPPER: Kelly Barnett we thank you for your time. We thank you for your courage coming on air. May your son's memory be a blessing. And we'll have you back again if you want to come on. We'll be right back.

BARNETT: Yes. Thank you Jake. Thank you.


TAPPER: A quickly developing story in our World Lead. Ecuador says FBI agents are headed to that country to help investigate the assassination of a presidential candidate there. Fernando Villavicencio was shot to death yesterday just 11 days before that country's election. He was known as an anti-corruption candidate. So far six men have been arrested in the investigation into his assassination. You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, X, formerly known as Twitter, Bluesky if you have an invite, the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of the show, you can listen to THE LEAD once you get your podcasts. All two hours just sitting there like a delicious, delicious serving of poi.


Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer who is in "THE SITUATION ROOM".