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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump Feigns Concern For Democracy Despite Jan. 6 Insurrection; Liz Cheney: Trump Won't Leave Office If Re-Elected; Influential Iowa Evangelical Leader Endorses DeSantis; Parts Of Gaza On Fire As Israel Expands Strikes; White House Condemns "Antisemitic" Rally In Front Of Jewish-Owned Restaurant In Philadelphia; Russian Police Raid Gay Venues After Top Court Labels LGBTQ+ Movement "Extremist". Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 04, 2023 - 16:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Other words that were beat up by rizz, you mentioned swifty, situationship, which is like an informal romantic partnership, and also prompt, which are instructions given by A.I.

You drip rizz. That script is wrong. I don't believe this.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: All right, thanks. I obviously need to get out more.

SANCHEZ: It's a generational thing. I'm always thrown off by the words that young people use on social media. It makes me feel a little bit older than I am, I guess.

KEILAR: Yeah. Interesting to feel as old as I am, if you are younger than me.

SANCHEZ: Thank you so much for joining us today.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

How much rizz does Jake have?

KEILAR: Like so much, just off the charts.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Iowa Republicans only six weeks until you decide how the 2024 presidential race will go, and maybe the fate of American democracy. No pressure.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Donald Trump's latest ploy, he claims that President Biden, not him, who is the threat to American democracy. It's nonsense of course. But what if it works? And Trump wins the second term. I'm going to speak with some folks behind several new warnings spelling out the potential danger. Plus, Israel expanding its war, targeting Hamas in all of Gaza, even

in the south where Israel first told Palestinians to flee for safety, the new strikes, as influential voices speak up today in the U.N. calling out Hamas atrocities from October 7th, largely on condemned crimes by the international community. Women sexually assaulted and raped by Hamas.

And a Jewish and Israeli restaurants owner targeted and taunted by a mob. This is the latest supercharge moment of antisemitism in America.


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

And we start today with a warning about democracy in the United States, a warning from the man who himself may pose the greatest threat to American democracy in our lifetime. With exactly six weeks until the crucial Iowa caucus. Donald Trump is ignoring his Republican opponents, instead trying to flip the strict on Joe Biden, accusing the current commander in chief of being hostile to democracy, much like Biden's been warning about Trump.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: So, if Joe Biden wants to make this race a question of which candidate will defend our democracy and protect our freedoms, and I say to crooked Joe, and he's crooked, the most corrupt president we'll ever have, we will win that fight, and we're going to win it very big. Joe Biden is not the defender of American democracy. Joe Biden is the destroyer of American democracy.


TAPPER: It doesn't matter how many of these signs they print out. You see there, Biden attacks democracy. They printed much of this up before Trump's event today. We all now, we all saw it with our own eyes, it was Donald Trump and his minions who tried to overthrow the 2020 election, tried to undermine democracy.

And we should be clear, with Donald Trump's speech today, Donald Trump's so-called proof that Biden is a threat to democracy is a bunch of falsehoods and nonsensical claims. Including that the 2020 election was rigged, which, of course, is a blatant lie. And that Biden, a devout Catholic, is using the government to infiltrate the Catholic Church. Also not true.

But you don't have to take any of this for me. The real threat to American democracy, according to Liz Cheney, formerly one of the most conservative members of the House, is -- well, listen to her terrifying thought presented earlier today.


SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Do you believe if Donald Trump were elected next year, that he would try to stay in office beyond a second term? That he would never leave office? LIZ CHENEY, FORMER U.S. CONGRESSWOMAN: There's no question.

GUTHRIE: Do you think he would try to stay in power forever?

CHENEY: Absolutely. A vote for Donald Trump may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in. And again, I don't say that lightly, and I think it's heartbreaking that that's where we are. But people have to recognize that a vote for Donald Trump is a vote against the Constitution.


TAPPER: Now, it doesn't take a vivid imagination to see how Donald Trump might use his second term in office, because he has been pretty explicit about what he wants to do. He plans to use the Justice Department to go after his enemies, starting with President Biden. He plans to fire all federal employees perceived as disloyal. He has discussed deploying the U.S. military inside the U.S. against Americans.

So what is Liz Cheney's message to any voters who hear all of this and say, well, it can't be all that bad, there are checks and balances to prevent that sort of thing from happening?


CHENEY: People who say, well, if he's elected, it's not that dangerous, because we have all these checks and balances, don't fully understand the extent to which the Republicans in Congress today have been co-opted.


One of the things that we see happening today is sort of a sleepwalking into dictatorship in the United States.


TAPPER: Folks, I implore you. Google the term Democratic backslide. It happens. Democracy is not a guarantee. We can lose it.

CNN's Kristen Holmes starts off our coverage today with a closer look at what exactly Donald Trump is promising to do if he wins a second term.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Donald Trump attempting to turn the table on warnings his return to the White House would pose a threat to American democracy.

TRUMP: Joe Biden is not the defender of American democracy.

HOLMES: The former president, who is facing felony charges over his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, claiming President Joe Biden is the real risk to the country. TRUMP: Joe Biden is the destroyer of American democracy. It's him and

his people, that the records of the American dream.

HOLMES: A spokesman for the Biden campaign calling Trump's comments, a quote, desperate attempt at distraction. Trump's attacks come as Biden and his allies from the 2024 election as a choice between democracy and authoritarianism, signaling how both candidates are increasingly focused on a potential general election rematch, even as the first votes in the Republican nominating contest won't be cast for another six weeks.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have to stand up for American values, embedded in the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, because we know that MAGA extremists have already proven they won't. We need to stand up for our Constitution, and our institutions of democracy because MAGA extremists made it clear they're not going to.

HOLMES: Democrats aren't the only one sounding the alarm about Trump's candidacy.

CHENEY: One of the things we see happening today is sort of a sleepwalking into a dictatorship in the United States.

HOLMES: And his latest bid for the White House, Trump's continued to rail against democratic institutions, and make false claims about the 2020 election.

TRUMP: They begged the presidential election in 2020, and we're not going to allow them to rig the presidential election in 2024.

HOLMES: He also suggested the U.S. Constitution should be terminated in a social media post. And the former president has outlined plans to dramatically reshape the federal government, including a pledge to use the Justice Department to target political opponents.

TRUMP: I mean, if somebody -- if I happen to be president, and I see somebody who's doing while and beating me very badly, I say, go down and indict them. Mostly, that would be -- you know, they would be out of business. They'd be out. They'd be out of the election, in my case.


HOLMES (on camera): And, Jake, you asked a question at the beginning of the show. What if these arguments, one of Trump's rhetoric works with voters? And I do want to note that when I go to these rallies, even that rally over the weekend in Cedar Rapids, people were cheering for this argument that it was actually Biden, because of the fact that Trump is facing these four indictments, that was against democracy.

And the other part of this that I want to lay out here is that, yes, Donald Trump is saying each of the things that he would do if he were to win presidency again. And despite that, he is still leading in the polls, not only in Iowa, the caucuses are just six weeks away, but nationally to be the GOP nominee -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Kristen Holmes. Thanks so much.

Let's bring in my panel to discuss. "The Dispatch's" Jonah Goldberg, former Obama administration official, Nayyera Haq, and ABC News chief Washington correspondent Jonathan Karl, who has the newly released book "Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party", which really has a lot of research in it about what a second Trump term would look like.

Well, and I have to say, there's a lot in there. But what's the most alarming stuff? When you talk to Trump, former Trump officials, what did they warn you about would be the worst-case scenario?

JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: The most alarming is what a second Trump term would look like. And this is a president coming back who has learned that he can break the law and get away with it. Somebody whose entire rationale for a second term is to get retribution against the people that he believes have been his enemies.

And, Jake, in that context, having virtually nobody around him willing to stand up to him to challenge him. Having a second Trump term, where you don't have people like John Kelly, or the people that serve in the White House counsel's office, Pat Cipollone, Don McGahn, Bill Barr at the Justice Department, willing to say no when Trump asked them to break the law.

TAPPER: It's chilling.

And, Jonah, is this new cover story in "The Atlantic with the series of articles looking at a possible second Trump term. We're going to have more of that coming up on the show. David Frump on a section on autocracy, a Trump autocracy, writes, quote: In his first term, Trump's corruption and brutally were mitigated by his ignorance and laziness. In a second, Trump would arrive with a much better understanding of the system's vulnerabilities, more willing enablers in tow, and much more focused agenda of retaliation against his adversaries and impunity for himself.


And as Jon points out, nobody like John Kelly, Bill Barr, willing to say stop. And more people, smart people like that former guy B guy, what's his name Ross Moth (ph)?

KARL: Ross Roth (ph).

TAPPER: Yeah, Ross Roth, like -- who knows how to make it happen for him. Is that alarmist, do you think? Or is that accurate?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, I don't think, necessarily, it -- the question of autocracy is an important one and a legitimate one to talk about, all that kind of stuff. But you don't have to get there. The threshold is, would it be bad, right?

This is one of the things -- I talk to audiences as well. You know, Trump is not Hitler. Hitler could've repealed Obamacare. TAPPER: Right.

GOLDBERG: And they get angry at me. And it's like, look, more seriously, like, you can come way short of being Hitler and still qualify as bad.

TAPPER: Right.

GOLDBERG: And Trump will go in. He could be -- he's still going to be the incompetent guy that he is, but it's the point that Jonathan is getting at, is that all the people around him will feel empowered to fight for the worst version of Trump, right? The people that -- all of the MAGA people despise, Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan, Barr, you down this list -- these were, in effect, circuit breakers who used to Trump to get things which complicit.

Now, that's all gone, and it will just simply be, you know, a lot of fifth string intellects you think being thrown out by the courts is a good thing for them because it lets them wage another battle about the legitimacy of the courts, the legitimacy of the law, and all these kinds of things. And people who say "yes, sir" with the Insurrection Act rather than no, sir, and that's what scary to me.

NAYYERA HAQ, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF CABINET AFFAIRS, OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: McCarthy found that at the hard way, that's going to be the challenge after Iowa, the number of people who will line up behind a lot nominee because he's the one on that side of the aisle who has the power. Six people raised their hand saying that they would ultimately support Trump even though they're all trying to run for his positio0n right now.

We have right now, in America, a country that 30 percent of the population trust in U.S. institutions is at a record low. And you have a president who has capitalized on influencer culture to say he and him alone is the person that you can trust. So the combination of how we consume information and the fact that every institution is down in the gutter in terms of opinion has been, you know, a magical cesspit for Trump.

TAPPER: And there is a possibility that DeSantis or Nikki Haley could have some surprise showing, or Christie, I suppose, could have some surprise showing in Iowa, New Hampshire. But it's also quite possible that Donald Trump just runs the table for the first four contests. Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Nevada. It's possible.

KARL: I mean, he's -- he's the front runner. Most people talk about it like the races all-out ready over. Jake, you've covered enough Iowa and New Hampshire primaries, caucuses, so know that surprises happen. Also, there's a sense that people have not really paid attention to this question of what a second Trump term would look like.

It's hard to say that Donald Trump's under-covered, but I think he has been under-covered. It's been massive attention paid to the legal cases, but very little attention to what it would be like if he comes back into the White House. I think he's more volatile now than he has been before. I think he has, again, much less restraints on him, no guardrails. I think we could be in for a surprise in Iowa, New Hampshire, and perhaps all bets are off. The more likely scenario is that he runs the table.

TAPPER: I also have to say, there's been a lot of coverage of Joe Biden showing his age, and I think we can all agree that that's true. I think Donald Trump is certainly showing his age.

KARL: No, and by the way, he's not campaigning with anywhere near the vigor that he did in 2016, certainly, or even 2020. I mean, he plays a lot of golf now.


KARL: He spends a lot of time with his lawyers. He's not doing very much, which I think is actually been helpful to his campaign.


GOLDBERG: I think most of the indictments are legit. I think the New York when -- we can parse them, right? But Trump said something that's kind of true. They're going to indict me into the presidency. People forget, DeSantis, before he announced and had that bad announcement, DeSantis was beating Trump in the polls. It's -- this thing with the negative polarization in our culture -- a lot of people say they're going after Trump, I have to support Trump, because they're going after him.

And I don't -- you can't on ring that bell now. But I don't -- a lot of people say, what if he actually gets convicted of something? I don't know that that fixes this bond that he has now gone with a big chunk of the GOP electorate.

HAQ: Well, he's asking for what otherwise in a democracy we would call transparency. But for him, it's free televised attitude and thumbing his nose to the courts. He wants everyone to see him in court, pushing back against judges, freewheeling, and disregarding rule of law entirely, and getting away with it.

TAPPER: But, Nayyera, let me ask you, as the Democrat at the table here -- I mean, you're guy is losing to him.

HAQ: By voters, right, and by polls.



HAQ: I'm not sure what more Joe Biden can do to remind people what is at stake, right? That's the State of the Union theme. Soul of democracy, constantly talking about the battle for the soul of the country on the world stage. There is a responsibility for everybody else to also take the challenge justice seriously as the Democratic Party is in the White House right now.

TAPPER: I mean, I know incumbents in general are not popular right now, but you ever think, maybe we should have a new candidate? HAQ: No! No.


HAQ: A new candidate would not have the bully pulpit of the White House, right? Would not have a corps of reporters covering his every move, which I would ask, as we discussed here, and let slide, that Trump is close enough in age to Biden, and also that Trump's speeches are largely incoherent and have been from the jump. But like, somehow that narrative is the Biden narrative here.

I do think that the benefit that he has this as we get closer to the day, and as you said, people pay attention, that the difference will become clear. But I'm hanging on to hope here.

GOLDBERG: If there was another candidate, Biden could still use the bully pulpit, but also, a younger person run against Trump.

TAPPER: Jon Karl, any last thoughts?

KARL: Well, look, Trump's done a very good job of losing elections since 2016. Every single cycle, midterm, special elections, runoff elections, Republicans have either lost or underperformed, and that's largely due to Trump's influence. So, yes, we may see him beating in some polls, but losing in other polls. I mean, look, general election polls at this point are pretty much worthless.

TAPPER: Yeah. We'll see what happens.

Jon Karl, the book again, "Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party", pick yourself up a copy, Hanukah, and Christmas and Kwanzaa all coming up.

Coming up, a key issue when it comes to winning Iowa. I'll speak with a man who looked into Donald Trump's relationship with evangelicals after nearly a decade of getting to know him, and all his past transgressions.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we are back with our 2024 lead with just six weeks until Republican voters caucus in Iowa. Candidates are courting one of the state's most influential groups, evangelical Christians, specifically white evangelical Christians.

Ron DeSantis recently was endorsed by prominent evangelical, Bob Vander Plaats, and he just wrapped up to 99 counties swing in the Hawkeye state. But, he remains nearly 30 percentage points behind Trump in the latest poll from "The Des Moines Register".

Joining us now is Tim Alberta. He's a staff writer for "The Atlantic", and he has a new book titled "The Kingdom, The Power, and The Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism". The book comes out tomorrow.

Congratulations, Tim. So exciting.


TAPPER: Vander Platts is pretty certain that America will not elect Trump. Do other evangelical leaders in Iowa and throughout the country, did they share that concern and certainty?

ALBERTA: Well, I don't think they share the certainty. In fact, when you sort of survey the rank and file evangelical pastor around the country, as I've done over the last couple of years, I think there's almost a resignation to the idea that, you know, Trump, for the short term, probably the intermediate term at least, as a pretty good hold on a lot of their congregants, and that they're not going to deviate from him anytime soon.

But Bob Vander Plaats has had a long running feud with Trump. In fact, some of the reporting that's come out of my book, around Trump using disparaging vulgar language to refer to certain Iowa evangelicals, that was aimed toward Bob Vander Plaats himself, among others.

So there's no surprise that he would endorse Ron DeSantis. I don't think that there's any question that Trump retains an overwhelming lead among white evangelicals in Iowa and elsewhere. I think the question really, at least in a political frame, Jake, is that whether Trump is winning big majorities of these voters, both in the primary and in the general, but how many of these voters show up next November? Is there any fallout because of the Trump exhaustion we see with some of these evangelicals?

TAPPER: Ted Cruz's campaign mocked Trump in 2016 when Trump infamously cited 2 Corinthians. You write, quote, when Cruz's allies began easing the 2 Corinthians line to attack him in the final days before the Iowa caucus, Trump told one Iowa Republican official, you know, these so- called Christians hanging around with Ted are some real pieces of shit, unquote. I only curse on air when, generally speaking, when I'm quoting someone.

How do Trump supporting evangelicals square that? The fact that he was ignorant about Scripture? Not to mention all the other ways in which Donald Trump is not exactly square with the good book.

Did they just ignore it? Are they just happy with the fact that he was very responsible for the overturning of Roe v. Wade? How did they justify it to themselves?

ALBERTA: Well, Jake, it's a great question, obviously. They're sort of a fascinating psychological arc here to understand. Whereas at this point, eight years ago, a lot of these white evangelical voters were very uneasy with Trump, and they viewed his lack of familiarity with Scripture and his behavior and his rhetoric, they view these things as weaknesses, and they sort of entered into this very uneasy transactional relationship with him, where they said, look, you know, he's the nominee now, and he's going to give us some victories we really want in exchange for our vote. That transactional relationship has now morphed into something else

entirely, which is to say specifically that to the point about the 91 indictments, and his rhetoric around not letting non Christians into the country, and, you know, Trump being a decidedly more antagonistic militant candidate this time around, especially with his bearing towards the non-evangelicals in this country, talking about how he will be their retribution, how he will essentially wield Christianity as a weapon.


They are all for that in part because they have come to view Trump as almost a righteous protector, as someone who, because he is not a Christian himself, he's not bound by biblical virtue. He doesn't have to play by their rules.

And that's almost his superpower. It gives him an ability to do things to protect this Christian coalition, if you will, that no other candidate would be willing to do.

TAPPER: In your book, you write about your upbringing in the church, and evangelicals, such as your dad, who was a pastor, believed and preached that integrity, integrity was a prerequisite for political leadership. But that seems to have changed.

ALBERTA: Yeah. And the simplest explanation for it, Jake, as to why it's changed is what you'll hear from a lot of evangelical Christians around the country, which is that they are under siege, Christiane ideas under attack in this country, and the culture from the secular, godless left, and just look at COVID-19. They shut down our churches, transgenderism on the march, all of these things.

And they will point to that and say, look, you know, desperate times call for desperate measures. Donald Trump did this, you know, if you feel as though barbarians are at the gates, then you might just be willing to turn to a barbarian to do your fighting for you.

Our mutual friend and my boss, Jeff Goldberg, said this to me the other day. He said you're almost describing this like a mercenary relationship. And I said, that's kind of exactly what it is. For people who feel that they are threatened in this way, they're willing to turn to a man who shares none of their values, and in fact, perhaps, that is their greatest attraction to him.

TAPPER: That's fascinating. They're clear parallels between the growing divide in the Republican Party and the evangelical community. What do you make of Speaker Mike Johnson's rapid rise to power, given his strong religious identity?

ALBERTA: Yeah, well, when Mike Johnson says essentially that the Bible is his governing handbook, Jake, you know, that's not a fringe position. We shouldn't necessarily treat it as something that is far out of the evangelical mainstream. I think what's important to recognize, and a lot of us are uncomfortable even saying this out loud, but there is an ascendant movement on the right in this country that would seek to abolish any sort of fire wall between church and state.

There will be people working in a second Trump term, and I report on this a bit in the book, who are very much invested in this idea of merging the power of the church at some official level, whether it's through declaration or some executive order. But again, we heard Trump even in his rhetoric on the campaign trail a couple of weeks ago saying -- floating this idea that nobody would be able to come to this country as a migrant moving forward unless they are Christian. So, effectively, a religious litmus test.

So you have real strands of Christian nationalism now that are infecting the highest echelons of the Republican Party, and that's something the country's going to have to address sooner rather than later.

TAPPER: Tim Alberta, thank you so much, and congratulations. The new book, "The Kingdom, the Power, and the Glory: American Evangelicals in an Age of Extremism", comes out tomorrow. Everything Tim rights is fascinating, well written, and worth a read. Congratulations again, my friend.

ALBERTA: Thanks, Jake. Appreciate it.

TAPPER: Coming up next, Israel's expanded airstrikes and ground operation, this time hitting home, killing many members of the family of a CNN journalist. We're going to go live to the region, next.



TAPPER: We're back with our world lead and a look at Gaza moments ago, where the IDF is expanding its airstrikes and its ground operation from northern Gaza to all of Gaza. The orange glow, if you see it, in portions of the strip are on fire this evening. Israel had warned innocent civilians to evacuate south as the IDF attacked the north, and is now urging innocence to move further south as they are targeting of Hamas expands.

The United Nations believes that more than 80 percent of Gaza's total population, nearly 1.9 million people, 1.9 million, are displaced along all of Gaza.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is in Tel Aviv, Israel.

Alex, the collapse deal to pause fighting between Hamas and Israel is a thing of the past. How is Israel handling this next phase of the war?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the intense fighting has returned, and once again, civilians are caught in the middle. Israel announcing that it is expanded its ground invasions the entire -- ground operations to the entire Gaza strip. We did see Israel operating in southern Gaza today. Israeli airstrikes, also, across the entire Gaza strip today. Overnight, there were some 200, the IDF spokesperson today calling

those airstrikes very significant. We also saw close quarters fighting on the ground between Hamas militants and Israeli forces in northern Gaza. At least two Israeli soldiers were killed. Israeli operations in the north are expected to wrap up soon, and then, the focus is certainly expected to turn south, specifically in and around the city of Khan Younis, where officials believe at least some of Hamas's leadership has gone.

But, Jake, as you know, Israel has told Gazans in the north to flee south, and now they're telling them to move even farther south. How are they doing that? Well, they're posting on social media, they are dropping leaflets with QR codes that them take you to a very complicated map. I think we have a picture of that map. It has almost 2,400 different zones, so that Israel can tell Palestinians, okay, you need to move to a different zone to be safe.


But Jake, not only is it complex, but also, that just assumes that Gazans can get access to the Internet. Today, we saw widespread blackout in Gaza City, across northern Gaza. So you cannot assume that Gazans are seeing any of this. In the meantime, we are hearing increased alarm from top Biden administration officials, including Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, who said that Israel could win tactically against Hamas, but they could lose in the long run strategically. Take a listen.


LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY: It's like the center of gravity is the civilian population. And if you drive them into the arms of the enemy, you replace a tactical victory with a strategic defeat.


MARQUARDT: And Jake, now, the estimated death toll, admittedly from the Hamas-run ministry of health, is approaching 16,000 -- Jake.

TAPPER: This renewed fighting means more bloodshed and more terror for the innocent people in Gaza who are unfortunately dying along with members of Hamas, and those innocents include members of the family of one of our own CNN reporters, Alex.

MARQUARDT: Yeah, this is getting really close to home for CNN today, Jake.

Ibrahim Dahman is a CNN producer who many will remember for his dispatches in the first month of the way, showing how his family was surviving, how they were fleeing the fighting, and how they eventually, thankfully, got out to Egypt. But today, we learned that nine of Ibrahim's family members were killed in a strike in northern Gaza. They say they were trapped in a house in northern Gaza, is aunt's house, that was hit by a strike. Nine family members killed.

Ibrahim's own home in Gaza City was also destroyed. Just a horribly sad day. Of course, our thoughts go out to Ibrahim Dahman's family -- Jake.

TAPPER: Alex Marquardt in Tel Aviv, thank you so much.

The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza says more than 15,800 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza since October 7th. The Israel Defense Forces dispute those figures, although privately, IDF estimates that they have killed around 5,000 members of Hamas. As this war continues, the World Health Organization says the disease in Gaza could ultimately become deadlier than the airstrikes.

As CNN's Ben Wedeman reports for us now, the destruction of humanitarian infrastructure is only fueling the suffering for the millions desperately trying to survive.


BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Desperate times call for desperate measures. And in Gaza, if that means looting the local bakery destroyed overnight by an Israeli airstrike, so be it.

Look at the people, says Ikram Al-Rai. They're doing the side of hunger. It was the Baraka bakery. Baraka is Arabic for blessing. But now, Gaza is under the curse of war.

It was the last functioning bakery in Deir al-Balah.

People's basic needs, striking it is a kind of terrorism.

Once the sun came up Monday, people of all ages descended upon the bakery, taking away bags of flour, cooking oil, scraps of wood to use for cooking and heating, and just about anything else they could carry away.

This man describes it in one word -- chaos. The World Food Programme's Abeer Etefa warns that the people of Gaza are reaching the breaking point.

ABEER ETEFA, WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME SENIOR REGIONAL COMMUNICATIONS OFFICER: When you have civil order breaking down completely because people are becoming desperate, hopeless, hungry, by the moment, this is, of course, bound to happen.

WEDEMAN: And with Israeli ground forces now operating in southern Gaza, the hundreds of thousands who fled the north in search of safety are now even more than before in the line of fire. Gaza, after almost two months of war, has come to this.


WEDEMAN (on camera): And what we're hearing from a variety of U.N. officials is that they are increasingly alarmed at the prospects of what's going to happen next in Gaza. In fact, Martin Griffiths, the U.N. relief chief, just put out a statement saying, every time we think things cannot get more apocalyptic in Gaza, they do. People are being ordered to move again with little to survive on, forced to make one impossible choice after another -- Jake.

TAPPER: Ben Wedeman in Jerusalem for us. Thank you so much.

There are reverberations at home.


Next, the White House reaction to that pro-Palestinian crowd that targeted an Israeli-owned restaurant owner last night in my hometown of Philadelphia.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our world lead, the White House and Philadelphia mayor are condemning a pro-Palestinian protest outside of falafel shop because the owner is a Jewish Israeli.

Goldie is one of several Israeli owned restaurants targeted in an attempted boycott. Demonstrators shouted, we charged you with genocide. I guess, because the Jewish Israeli owner exists?

CNN's Danny Freeman has a closer look at the incident and other acts of ignorance stemming from the conflict in the Middle East.


DEMONSTRATORS: Goldie, Goldie, you can't hide!

DANNY FREEMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): On Sunday night, pro- Palestinian protesters marched through the streets of Philadelphia. At one point, stopping at the Jewish-owned restaurant, Goldie, and chanting.


DEMONSTRATORS: Goldie, Goldie, you can't hide! We charge you with genocide!

FREEMAN: Goldie, which serves primarily falafel sandwiches, is owned by a pair of James Beard Award-winning restaurant owners who are Jewish and specialize in Israeli food.

DEMONSTRATOR: It's not enough for them to steal our land. It's not enough for them to kill our people. They're stealing our ethnic food as well!

FREEMAN: The witness who provided us with this video told CNN the protesters only stayed for about five minutes before moving on through the city, the larger planned protests ultimately march across nearly 20 city blocks.

There was no apparent damage at Goldie, and police did not say whether there were any reports of vandalism at the restaurants.

However, local, state and federal leaders quickly and forcefully condemned the demonstration at this Jewish business as antisemitic.

GOV. JOSH SHAPIRO (D), PENNSYLVANIA: What we saw last night was not peaceful protest. What we saw last night, in my opinion, was blatant antisemitism.

FREEMAN: The White House releasing a statement Monday reading in part, it is antisemitic and completely unjustifiable to target restaurants that serve Israeli food over disagreements with Israeli policy. This behavior reveals the kind of cruel and senseless double standard that is a calling card of antisemitism.

This latest incident, just one of many recently charged moments across the country. In Williamsburg, Virginia, a festival organizer came under criticism Sunday after a Jewish organization said an upcoming menorah lighting was canceled because the event, quote, did not want to appear to choose sides in the Israel-Hamas conflict. The festival organizers said the lighting was never officially scheduled, and the event has never had any religious affiliations.

Meanwhile, in Burlington, Vermont, where three Palestinian students were shot over Thanksgiving weekend, one, Hisham Awartani, remains hospitalized. His mother telling CNN he is now paralyzed from the chest down. Authorities are still investigating whether the gunman was motivated by hate.

Back in Philadelphia, Goldie was busy for the lunch rush on Monday as many went out of their way to support the local Jewish business.

ABBY MEZROW, SUPPORTING GOLDIE RESTAURANT: And actually brought me almost in tears when I was standing in line and seeing how people kept coming in and coming in, and how backed up they were really. It was beautiful.


FREEMAN (on camera): Now, Jake, we reached out to Goldie's parent company and owners for a comment on this story. They, though, declined our interview request -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Danny Freeman, thanks so much.

Coming up next, the new raids in Russia. Just one day after Moscow tried to outlaw what it calls the international LGBTQ movement.



TAPPER: Authorities in Russia are intensifying a crackdown on the LGBTQ community. Police raided three gay venues in Moscow over the weekend. The raids took place just one day after the Russian Supreme Court's decision to outlaw the, quote, LGBTQ movement, and label it an extremist organization.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is live in Berlin.

Fred, what more can you tell us about these raids in light of the court's decision?


Well, they certainly are having a chilling effect on the LGBTQ community there in Russia. And it really is hard to overstate the amount of fear, downright fear, that certainly going around in this community. All this happened in the night from Friday to Saturday with those three venues were raided by police. The music was turned off, people were searched, were frisked, some of them had to take their clothes off.

No one was detained in those raids. We do have that from Russian media. However, they did say that documents were photographed by those police officers. Obviously, some of the LGBTQ community fearing that there could be further issues for them down the line, with now the authorities in possession of those photographs.

The Russians, of course, saying that these were regular drug raids, however there are folks in the LGBTQ community who say that this did have a big chilling effect on them. And, of course, as you rightly stated, Jake, this came basically just hours after the Russian Supreme Court came down with that verdict that also labeled members, as they put it, of the international LGBTQ community as extremists, which could have serious repercussions for these folks in Russia, Jake.

TAPPER: And this ruling comes nearly one year after Putin signed that law that banned what he called LGBTQ propaganda in Russia. Why is he targeting this community?

MARQUARDT: Yeah. Well, you know what, I was -- I was in Russia when that came down from Vladimir Putin. That essentially made it illegal in Russia to display anything showing pride, or any sort of rainbow flag, or anything of that sort, again, part of that ongoing crackdown.

Vladimir Putin's been trying to self styled himself, Jake, as somewhat of a defender, as he puts it, of conservative values. He's obviously very close, also, to the Russian Orthodox Church. But he's also trying to do that on a global scale now. And a lot of that has to do with his opposition to the West.

One of the things we hear from Russian politicians and from Vladimir Putin is that he feels that Russian culture could be infected, as he puts it, by the LGBTQ community. And, of course, it's down that same line, Jake, that Vladimir Putin, very frequently, also justifies his invasion of Ukraine, also likening it to a struggle of Russia against the West led by the U.S., Jake.


TAPPER: All right. Fred Pleitgen, thanks so much.

Coming up, one of the most under-reported, unspoken, un-condemned atrocities by Hamas. We've covered it here on THE LEAD. Women sexually assaulted and raped during the October 7th attack. And now, some very influential voices are trying to make sure that people know what happened.

Stay with us.


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

This hour, what if Donald Trump wins? I'll speak with some of the authors behind 24 new essays in "The Atlantic" magazine breaking down what they call Donald Trump's threat to the United States and the world and the lack of guardrails to keep him in line.

Plus, 250 days detained unfairly, unjustly in Russia.