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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Speaker Johnson: Blurring January 6 Footage To Protect Rioters; Special Counsel Plans To Use Trump's Continued Embrace Of January 6 Rioters Against Him At Trial; Nevada's Latino Voters Signal 2024 Remains Up For Grabs; IDF Is "Now Encircling" Southern Gaza City Of Khan Younis; House Hearing On Rise Of Antisemitic Incidents At Colleges; Pilot Indicted For Attempting To Stop Engines Midflight; Police Identify Suspect In Virginia House Explosion; Biden Tells Donors: "Not Sure I'd Be Running" If Trump Wasn't In The 2024 Presidential Race. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 05, 2023 - 16:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: A quick pick from a gas station in Kissimmee, Florida, but they never claim the prize. That ticket is set to expire December 11th, just a few days from now. If nobody claims it, 80 percent goes to education and the rest put back into future prize pools.

I was just telling Brianna, Kissimmee is a place people like my family stayed when I used to visit Disneyworld, when I was a kid, somebody wants to visit Disneyworld and won the lotto and doesn't know.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Boris's sister, check your purse.

SANCHEZ: Leslie, check your purse, right now.

Thank you so much for joining us.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Here's an idea. On security footage, blurred the faces of the folks invading the Capitol on January 6th so that the authorities cannot track them down. Guess who said that today?

THE LEAD starts right now.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: You have to blur some of the faces of persons who participated in the -- in the events of that day because we don't want them to be retaliated against, and to be charged by the DOJ.


TAPEPR: What? That is the Speaker of the House Mike Johnson suggesting that he would like to stand in the way of law enforcement being able to identify criminals? Well, well, well, now, his office is revising those remarks.

Plus, how federal prosecutors plan to use Donald Trump's continued support of those January 6 rioters against the former president in court.

And, warnings of an apocalyptic situation in Gaza, as Israel takes intense deadly aim at Hamas.


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

We start today with our law and justice lead, and the new impact of the January 6th insurrection on Donald Trump's legal and political futures. Today, federal prosecutors said they plan to use Trump's continued embrace of these lawbreakers against him at trial. The Justice Department saying that the fact that Trump continues to celebrate and support the insurrectionists shows that his intent was indeed to commit federal crimes. And that Trump, quote, sent supporters, including groups like the Proud Boys, who he knew were angry and whom he now calls patriots, to the Capitol to achieve the criminal objective of obstructing the congressional certification, unquote.

Now, these new developments come just hours after stunning comment by House Speaker Mike Johnson, that Republicans have not yet released a full Capitol security footage from January 6, as he promised his right flank, because they're busy still blurring the faces of the rioters, as to protect them at least in part from prosecution.


JOHNSON: We're going through a methodical process of releasing them as quickly as we can, as you know we have to blur some of the faces of persons who participated in the events of that day because we don't want them to be retaliated against, and to be charged by the DOJ and to have other, you know, concerns and problems.


TAPPER: What? Now, in response to understandable questions about Speaker Johnson's comments, his office trying to pretend that the speaker did not say what we all heard, they try to pluck out the comment about preventing DOJ from prosecuting them, saying, quote, faces are to be blurred from public viewing room footage to prevent all forms of retaliation against private citizens from any non- governmental actors. The Department of Justice already has access to all the footage from January 6th, 2021, unquote.

Today, more than 1,200 people have been charged for their actions on January 6, and more than half have either pleaded guilty or been found guilty at trial.

Let's bring in CNN's Jamie Gangel and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig.

Jamie, what we are talking about here has become a central part of Trump's 2024 campaign, not embracing the rioters and promising to pardon them, but also continuing to lie that the election of 2020 was stolen.

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. Or as Liz Cheney likes to say, the fact that he remains a clear and present danger by continuing to say these things.

Look, Jake, I think this is an extraordinary glimpse at certainly a part of the special counsel's case. It speaks to intent. It peaks to their charge about conspiracy.

And I spoke to some legal experts. I mean, Elie can talk about this more. The people I spoke with this afternoon, these are former Justice Department lawyers who said they read this as the special counsel likely has evidence, testimony, witnesses that we don't know about yet, which is something we've been wondering about, Jake.


TAPPER: And, Elie, prosecutors say they want to use Trump's comments, continued comments about rioters in their case. But Judge Tanya Chutkan, she has to decide if it's going to be allowed. Do you have any idea of how she might rule?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I do think Judge Chutkan will admit this evidence that trial, Jake, because it goes to the court legal issue with the trial, which is Donald Trump's intent. Let me explain that's going to play out.

Prosecutors are going to say that Donald Trump's intent this whole time was to steal the election by any means necessary, right or wrong, legal or illegal. Donald Trump's team is going to say, no, he was merely exercising his rightful, lawful ability to contest the election. Well, here we have hundreds of rioters, people who've been charged and convicted, and in many instances by their own guilty plea, who were on videotape committing crimes.

If Donald Trump publicly stated position is, and it has been, I support them, I approve of what they did, and then that is the prosecution's intent, arguments here. So, I do think this will come in and I think it's going to be powerful evidence.

TAPPER: Jamie, what do you make of Speaker Johnson's comments today about blurring their faces in the January 6 videos? I mean, his office says he just misspoke. But that's -- I don't know, that's an interesting excuse.

GANGEL: He's a lawyer, he said what he said. I think we should repeat those final words. He did say retaliate against, but he said and charged by the DOJ.

Look, the speaker of the House in those words is saying straight out that he wants to protect people who potentially did something illegal that day from the DOJ, people who may have attacked law enforcement. I mean, what happened to the rule of law party?

I think what's key here is what you mentioned at the top, which is DOJ has seen this footage, if there are people who need to be prosecuted, maybe they haven't identified everybody yet, but they've seen the footage. But I think it was a stunning thing for him to say.

TAPPER: And, Elie, when it comes to retaliation from the general public, I mean, these people are adults almost all of them, 1,200 of them have been charged or pleaded guilty. Is there any legal reason to blur their faces? Forget the DOJ part of it for one second. I mean, they are criminals.

HONIG: Yeah, there's no legal justification to blur the faces whatsoever. To the contrary, it would get in DOJ's way to do that. Now, they tried to backtrack and say we are worried about the private retaliation. That's nonsensical. I don't even know what they are talking about here.

But to be clear, what Mike Johnson said is, as speaker of the House, I'm going to blur these people faces so they cannot be identified and prosecuted, even though they are on video at the scene of a crime. This would be, by analogy, what if Mike Johnson had surveillance video, privately held, on a bank robbery and said, before released to the public, we need to redact out of the faces of some of the participants because I wouldn't want them retaliated against.

What Mike Johnson is calling retaliation, I think DOJ would call identification and prosecution.

TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig, Jamie Gangel, thanks.

Let's bring in now a Democratic Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren of California and Republican former Congressman Adam Kinzinger of Illinois. Both of them served on the January 6 Select Committee.

Congresswoman Lofgren, let's start with the news from the special counsel and how they want to use Trump's support, continued support for the rioters of January 6th to help proof he intended to inspire violence that day. How might this potentially bolster the prosecution's case, do you think?

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): Well, I will leave it to prosecutors to discuss the rules of evidence. But the former president has made it clear that he stands with a law violators. He stands with the rioters. He intended the riot to occur to keep him in power.

So I think his behavior before, during, and after the riot is all one piece. He was for violence to overturn the government.

TAPPER: And, former Congressman Kinzinger, what's your reaction? Do you think the statements shed light on Trump's intent before the riot, given that he is continuing to talk about these individuals being patriots and deserving pardons?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah, completely. And, you know, all you have to do is see when he calls them political prisoners, Jake. What is it, like, three weeks ago he opened up a rally with these, quote/unquote, political prisoners singing the national anthem and everybody was saluting about the same time he called for the execution of General Milley.

This is in contrast to there is still this flavor of people out there that believe it was the FBI that did January 6th. You will still hear sometimes it was Antifa, that there was the January 6th was just some peaceful people that got wrapped up in everything, which goes to the question of, why is the president, the former president calling them heroes?


And why is the -- you know, why is it that Speaker Johnson wants to protect their faces if it is the FBI and if it's Antifa? Well, it's obviously not and it just goes to show the mentality of we've got to protect our tribe, our side, because this isn't about defending the constitution anymore, it's about getting power at all costs. I think you are seeing that manifests now.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Lofgren, what did you make of Speaker Johnson's comments, clearly saying he wanted to blur faces of rioters before publicly releasing the footage, to protect them from retaliation, not only from the general public but from the Department of Justice? His office putting out a statement saying he only meant retaliation from private citizens. But that's not what he said.

LOFGREN: That's not what he said. Basically, it tells me two things. One, he is trying to protect criminals. You know, this is really obstruction of justice.

But also he's a bozo. Doesn't he realize that all of this video is already been shared with the FBI?

TAPPER: Well, and, Congressman Kinzinger, that's his officers excuse for why he didn't mean what he said. Of course, the DOJ already has that. How could he have meant that he was hiding it from the DOJ?

KINZINGER: No, he fully meant it. He meant everything he said. He thinks things through when he says them.

Here's the thing, in his mindset, he's -- you know, the right flank is getting upset because he hasn't released everything. So he is trying to throw them a bone and say I'm trying to protect them from that evil DOJ. He meant every bit of it.

And the interesting thing is, again, the idea that you have to blur any faces. If this, if the FBI did this, which again not on CNN but on other networks, you still see this surviving constantly, this theory that there is the FBI thing, wouldn't you want everybody's face known?

And, by the way, if you're a rioter, if you are an insurrectionist, the second you cross that police line, actually the second you get to Washington, D.C., you know that you are on camera. When you broke the law by occupying the Capitol and trying to stop the certification, there's not a single person in there that would've assumed their right to privacy would've cover their face when they were doing that kind of damage. They knew darn well what they were doing.

And if you look at the videos, many of them, if not all them, and we're proud of what they were doing. So to say that you have to blur it out to protect law enforcement is insane or private retaliation is insane because they probably broadcasted it themselves.

TAPPER: And, Congresswoman Lofgren, Speaker of the House Johnson --

LOFGREN: But, Jake -- yeah.

TAPPER: I just want to ask you, he has indicated that there will likely be a vote scheduled next week on going forward with the impeachment inquiry when it comes to President Biden next week, likely. What do you make of that?

LOFGREN: Well, it's bizarre. There's no evidence whatsoever that they -- I mean, it's a clown show over there in the Oversight Committee.

Just a word about Mike Johnson misspeaking. I served with Mike on the Judiciary Committee for many, many years. He speaks his mind very carefully. I have never heard him misspeak.

He is very direct about -- I generally don't agree with him. The idea that he misspoke is really not -- it's not credible.

TAPPER: Congressman?

KINZINGER: No, I agree, it's fully not credible and, yeah, there is no doubt in my mind, and particularly -- by the way, with this impeachment inquiry, can I just say the big block busting information yesterday was that Hunter Biden pay Joe Biden back for a truck loan? And that's what you're going to impeach on? That Joe Biden was a good father?

I mean, every one of us in our life has gotten a loan from our parents that we pay back at some point. And to see James Comer out there saying this is the smoking gun, when neither of them were in government.

Look, I said this early on. I said they have to impeach Joe Biden, they have to, the pressure is going to be too great. It doesn't matter what they find or don't find, they will open an impeachment inquiry and I would be surprised if they didn't impeach him on nothing.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren, and former Congressman Adam Kinzinger, thanks to both of you. I appreciate it.

As the nation looks ahead to 2024, one group in several battleground states could impact the entire race. And CNN's John King went to one of those key states. He's next with the latest edition of his "All Over the Map" series.

Plus, new details about a breached door and gunfire right before the House exploded in northern Virginia, not far from where I'm sitting.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


TAPPER: We are back in 2024 lead here. You hear the election music.

It's the state that's gone for Democrats in the past four presidential elections, but now it could be completely up for grabs. And a lot of that has to do with who now populates the state.

CNN's John King spoke with Latino voters in Nevada.

And, John, Latino voters now make up 30 percent of Nevada's population. How are they feeling about 2024?

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of, them, Jake, are shopping. And that simple fact is not good news for President Biden.

Look, Hillary Clinton won the state by just over two points. Joe Biden won the state by just over two points. It would not take much of a swing in the Latino vote to tip it back to red. Nevada used to be read back when I started to do this a long time ago. Since Barack Obama came on the scene, it has gone blue.

But listen to voters like Antonio Munos. He's a veteran. He served 16 years as a police officer. Now he has his own restaurant in Las Vegas. He says he's an independent and wants to shop around.


KING (voice-over): Hispanics were a small slice of Nevada's population when Munos was a boy who admired Ronald Reagan, more than 30 percent now.

ANTONIO MUNOS, NEVADA VOTER: It is amazing that political power that Hispanics are creating here in the state of Nevada.

KING: This is a state that has gone Democrat in the last several presidential election. If you look at it today, it's right there.

MUNOS: Fifty -- 50/50.

KING: Valeria Gurr is one reason why.

VALERIA GURR, NEVADA VOTER: Our vote has been taken for granted.

KING: The former Democrat who worked for the teachers union.


GURR: How do you do today?

KING: Now a Republican with one defining issue.

Your son is how old?

GURR: She is six

KING: And you won't send her to the public schools?

GURR: I won't.

KING: Why?

GURR: Because I worked with Hispanic families for 15 years here and I've seen it. I've seen firsthand how teachers have classrooms that are overcrowded. They can barely get to them. I will vote for the candidate that support my views on school choice.

KING: In 2020, that was Donald Trump, with reservations.

GURR: I will never condone racist comments towards my community, if that's the question.

KING: Now, Gurr hopes the GOP makes a new choice.

GURR: I like Ron DeSantis, simply because of what he has done in Florida. I personally would love to see Nikki Haley, to have another mom in the White House as a pro-school choice.

KING: Inflation and interest rates worries Zoila Sanchez. She's been selling homes in Las Vegas and its suburbs for 26 years.

Her voting history tracks Nevada's shift blue, Democrat in the past four presidential elections. But Sanchez is still a registered Republican, her first and second votes for president went to George W. Bush. Sanchez like the idea of lower taxes mixed with compassionate talk about immigrants.

Does that Republican Party exist anymore?

ZOILA SANCHEZ, NEVADA VOTER: It does not exist anymore.

KING: Would you like it to?

SANCHEZ: I would love it to come back. That's me.


KING (on camera): And, Jake, Zoila Sanchez right there. She said if it's Biden-Trump, she would vote for Biden because you can't stand the way Trump talks about immigrants. But she said if it's another Republican, especially Nikki Haley, she would go that way.

And that's what we found, there's a bit of a COVID hangover still in Nevada. The unemployment rate there went up to 30 percent at the height of COVID. That was the highest in the nation. Plus, a lot of that Latino parents, they think their kids fell way behind when schools were closed during COVID. So, people are frustrated, they are anxious, they are shopping. Democrats say give the president an opponent, he has labor new news out, they're the unions are powerful, they will fix it. At the moment, there is a problem.

TAPPER: This is the first presidential election without Harry Reid, right?

KING: Right, that's absolutely right.

TAPPER: He had Nevada Democrat -- he had Nevada wired. It's not just Nevada that -- in Nevada that Latino voters will impact, tell me some of the other states where that is such a crucial voting bloc.

KING: It's a giant voting constituency, it may not be huge numbers, but when you think about how close these states -- number one in Nevada, as we said, it's 30 percent. In Arizona, it's 32 percent of the voting public. In Georgia, it's 10 percent. Remember how close Georgia was? And your commonwealth of Pennsylvania, it's 8 percent. Remember how close Pennsylvania was?

So, it doesn't take much on the margins, right? A little movement among Latinos, a little movement among Black voters. If Biden's numbers in the suburbs fall a little bit, in very close battleground states -- you know this very well, it's all in the margins. Are Republicans going to win the Latino vote? Probably not. But they don't need to. They just need to boost their numbers just a bit.

TAPPER: That's right. And from polls, we see Republicans gaining with minority groups. As you know, they don't need to win them, they just need to win more of them.

KING: It's all settled in the margins, especially, again, when you think about Wisconsin, 20,000 votes, Arizona 11,000 votes, Georgia, what, 120,000 votes, Pennsylvania, nearly 7 million votes cast, it was only 60,000 votes. It just doesn't take much.

So, the president, look, there is time, this is what the White House will tell you. He doesn't have an opponent yet. But in each of the key foundational pieces of the Biden coalition, we are finding it at the moment, some softness, some weakness.

TAPPER: John King, thanks so much.

And you can see more of John's fantastic "All Over the Map" reports tonight on "AC360" at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

And this programming note, with fewer than six weeks until the Iowa Republican caucus, CNN is going to host two town halls next week. On Tuesday, I'm going to moderate a conversation between Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and the Republican and Republican-leaning voters of Iowa.

And then on Wednesday, CNN's Abby Philip takes the mic for a town hall with Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. Look for both at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, only here on CNN.

We're also going to stream them on CNN Max,, and, of course, CNN mobile apps.

Last night on CNN, the spokesman for the Israel defense forces, the IDF, told Erin Burnett that killing two Palestinian civilians for every Hamas militant in Gaza would be a tremendously positive ratio for urban warfare and the challenges that brings. Next, how he wants to clarify that comment today.

Stay with us.



KING: In our world lead, the U.N. warns of an apocalyptic situation in war torn Gaza, adding there is no place safe for innocent civilians, as Israel's military moves further south, expanding its campaign against Hamas, the government and military of Gaza, which invaded and attacked Israel on October 7th. Southern Gaza is the area where thousands of the displaced Palestinian civilians are already taking refuge. So, of course, Hamas is seeking their own safety by fleeing into the grounds of these innocent civilians, using their bodies to shield them from Israel's retaliation.

And as CNN's Jeremy Diamond reports, some Gazans say the only option left for them is to accept death.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the Israeli military pushing deeper into southern Gaza, now on the brink of what could be a decisive battle in Gaza's second largest city.

LT. GEN. HERZI HALEVI, CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (through translator): Our forces are now circling the Khan Younis area in the southern Gaza Strip. We have secured many Hamas strongholds in the northern Gaza Strip and now we are operating against its strongholds in the south.

DIAMOND: Israeli military officials and local accounts describing intensive Israeli airstrikes in southern Gaza, and satellite imagery obtained by CNN shows dozens of Israeli armored vehicles on the outskirts of Khan Younis, with the tracks on the ground indicating an Israeli push from the east.


The new offensive worsening an already desperate humanitarian situation. New Israeli evacuation orders in southern Gaza are pushing hundreds of thousands of civilians to move even further south, to the city of Rafah, where a U.N. official says the U.N. is not able to provide for hundreds of thousands of new internally displaced people.

In the city of Deir al Balah, nearby artillery fire forcing an ambulance to flee the scene, and new images of destruction from multiple strikes in the same city, where a spokesperson for the nearby Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospitals said more than 90 people were killed and at least 130 injured.

These were the latest strikes resulting in apparent civilian casualties, as a report said the Israeli military assesses about two civilians have been killed for every dead Hamas fighters, prompting this response from an Israeli military spokesman. LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, SPOKESMAN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: If you

compare that ratio to any other conflict in urban terrain, between a military and a terrorist organization using civilians as their human shield and embedded in the civilian population, you will find that that ratio is tremendous, tremendously positive at perhaps unique in the world.

DIAMOND: As it pushes south, the Israeli military says it is going after top Hamas commanders, including the group's leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar.

LT. GEN. HERZI HALEVI, CHIEF OF GENERAL STAFF, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES (through translator): Many ask about the destruction in Gaza. Hamas is the address. Sinwar is the address.

DIAMOND: But amid the southern offensive, these really military reporting intense battles with Hamas militants in the north, with a fight for control far from over.


DIAMOND (on camera): And, Jake, tonight, the Israeli prime minister is once again raising the specter of the Israeli military remaining in Gaza after the war ends, saying the day after the war with Hamas ends, it is the Israeli military that should be responsible for disarming the entire Gaza Strip, saying that no international force is capable of doing so. Once again, suggesting that Israel could play a role as an occupying force in Gaza, something that the Biden administration has sought to discourage -- Jake.

TAPPER: Jeremy Diamond in Sderot, Israel, thank you so much.

Coming up, tense exchanges on Capitol Hill today, when lawmakers confronted three prestigious university presidents about antisemitic incidents on their campuses, and the ideology that they say is fueling it.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Today on Capitol Hill, presidents of three of the most prestigious universities in the world addressed concerns that universities in the United States are not doing enough to protect students from a wave in antisemitic incidents and sentiments on their campuses since the October 7th attack by Hamas on Israel.

Just last week, the Anti-Defamation League found that 73 percent of Jewish college students have experienced or witnessed some form of antisemitism since the beginning of the school year alone.

CNN's Rene Marsh filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) REP. VIRGINIA FOXX (R-NC), CHAIRWOMAN, EDUCATION COMMITTEE: After the events of the past two months, it's clear that rabid antisemitism in the university are two ideas that cannot be cleaved from one another.

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Presidents of Harvard, University of Pennsylvania, and MIT facing tough questions about how they've responded to antisemitism on their campuses since the start of the Israel-Hamas war. Since the October 7th Hamas terror attack on Israel, hundreds of students that campuses across the country have held anti-war protests, in some cases using charged language and at times turning violent.


REP. GLENN GROTHMAN (R-WI): I have a friend whose son goes to the University of Pennsylvania. Right now, he is physically afraid to go to the library at night. Could you give us your reasons as to why that is at the University of Pennsylvania? Why today a Jewish student is afraid to walk to the library at night?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm devastated to hear that.

MARSH: Now, the Department of Education has opened an unprecedented number of investigations into alleged incidents of hate on college campuses. Penn and Harvard are among them.

REP. MARK TAKANO (D-CA): Can you tell us why the university did not react as quickly as other universities might have or might have hoped?

CLAUDINE GAY, HARVARD UNIVERSITY PRESIDENT: The notion that Harvard did not react is not correct. From the moment that I learned of the attacks on October 7th, I was focused on action to ensure that our students were supported and safe.

REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): There have been multiple marches at Harvard with students chanting, quote, there is only one solution intifada revolution, and quote, globalize the intifada, is that correct?

GAY: I've heard that thoughtless, reckless, and hateful language on our campus, yes.

STEFANIK: Do you believe that type of hateful speech is contrary to Harvard's code of conduct? Or is it allowed at Harvard?

GAY: It is at odds with the values of Harvard.

MARSH: The focus of much of the day is questioning, the fine line between allowing freedom of speech while at the same time protecting students who feel threatened by the language.

REP. KEVIN KILEY (R-CA): If you are talking to a prospective student's family, a Jewish student's family right now, could you look them in the eye and tell them that their son or daughter would be safe and feel safe and welcome on your campus?

GAY: We are absolutely committed to student safety.


MARSH (on camera): So, all of these university presidents also made it a point to tell the committee that they are seeing a rise in Islamophobic incidents on campuses.


So, they are saying that they are going to both work to solve the issues of antisemitism and Islamophobia. They also went on to list things that they are doing to make sure students to feel safe, including increased security on campus, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Rene Marsh, thanks so much.

Let's bring in the CEO of the American Jewish Committee and former congressman from Florida, Ted Deutch.

Thank you so much for being here.

All three university presidents unequivocally condemned antisemitism, and the October 7th Hamas attacks in their opening statements. They also acknowledged the challenge of fighting antisemitism while also being able to protect free speech. What is your reaction to what you heard from the hearing?

TED DEUTCH, CEO, AMERICAN JEWISH COMMITTEE: Well, Jake, free speech is important. It's true. But when free speech and acting in the name of free speech allows the voices of some to silence others, allows those marching, chanting violent slogans, calling for the elimination of Israel, calling for terror and activities, that's what globalized intifada means. That's what from the river to the sea means.

When tho -- that type of language silences Jewish students and puts them at risk, then the university's statements about condemning antisemitism aren't enough. They need to enforce their codes of conduct. They need to take bold action to keep Jewish students safe.

TAPPER: Congresswoman Julia Letlow from Louisiana said you can only imagine how terrifying it has to be a Jewish woman on any of the three campuses. And then she shared this story. Take a listen.


REP. JULIA LETLOW (R-LA): Just last night, a Jewish student from MIT wrote to me that she felt fearful and was forced to leave her study group during her doctoral exams because someone in her group told her that the women at the Nova Festival deserved to die, because they were partying on stolen land. There has been no reelection to hold antisemitic students accountable for their behavior. They should be expelled.


TAPPER: What's your reaction? Do you think if somebody expresses the belief that somebody should deserve to die, that they should be expelled?

DEUTCH: I think that the universities have codes of conduct, Jake. And included in those codes of conduct is the expectation that students will behave in a way that will not put others at risk, that won't interfere with the education process, that won't silence the voices of others on campus. And when you run around advocating, speaking out in behalf of the horrific terror attack on October 7th, supporting Hamas that slaughtered over 1,200 Israelis and injured thousands more, and then there should be action taken.

This isn't -- look, the university presidents all talked about how they don't support BDS, an effort to distance the university from Israel. They don't support it because they were speaking in the name of academic freedom. Well, there will be no academic freedom, there will be no viewpoint of diversity if universities simply allow the voices of those advocating for terror to speak freely on campus without any repercussions.

This is a question of fairness. It's a question of whether the universities in the long term can maintain that viewpoint of diversity that they claim is the hallmark of higher education. And if they allow this kind of behavior to continue, it won't be.

TAPPER: So this week at Columbia University in New York, a student group that calls themselves the Columbia social workers for Palestine, promoted a teaching on campus grounds where they, quote, we'll discuss the significance of the Palestinian counteroffensive on October 7th, and the centrality of revolutionary violence to anti-imperialism. See y'all there, unquote.

Now, Columbia has stopped the event from taking place on campus. But just to be clear, this event is calling what happened on October 7th, the barbaric slaughtered by Hamas of innocent children and women and civilians, grandparents, they are calling it a counteroffensive. And they are celebrating it.

I guess the question is, where is the line between free speech and that speech that should result in some sort of a punishment? Because it is a university environment, it is not -- it is different in ways from just the real world.

DEUTCH: Well, Jake, you know, you are right. It is different. You know how it's different? It's a place where there should be a free exchange of ideas.


And when you allow people to walk around campus spouting statements, calls for violence, calls for not just the destruction of Israel, but support for what Hamas did, which was to massacre, then that freaks change of ideas will never take place. If you don't, if universities don't act to stand up and support of the students -- all of the students on campus, then universities in America will be forever changed.

This would never be tolerated. This would never be tolerated if you feel were advocating for violence against any other group, and it cannot be tolerated when people are marching and advocating for violence against Jews.

TAPPER: Former Congressman Ted Deutch, thank you so much. Good to see you.

Coming up next, the powerful explosion that destroyed a house in northern Virginia just outside Washington, D.C. What police now say about the man who barricaded himself inside and then gunfire moments before the blast.



TAPPER: Just in, an Oregon grand jury has indicted the Alaska Airlines pilot who allegedly attempted to shut off the engines of a passenger plane midflight.

Let's get straight to CNN's Pete Muntean.

Pete, what is the latest here?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: This is significant for two reasons, Jake. Joseph Emerson, 44 years old of California, was on board this flight in the cockpit jump seat of his Alaska Airlines flight on October 25th, when police say he essentially try to kill the engines of the plane.

What has happened now is an Oregon grand jury has indicted Emerson on two parts. One, endangering an aircraft, another, 83 counts for each person on board the plane of recklessly endangering another person. What is significant about that is he was not charged with attempted murder for each one of those people, something celebrated by Emerson's defense attorneys.

This is also significant because of the conspicuous timing here. What is happening tomorrow is a National Transportation Safety Board roundtable on pilot mental health, something that has been thrust into the limelight after this incident.

And today, the Federal Aviation Administration said it is something it will look at and possibly reduced some of these rules, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Pete Muntean, thanks so much.

Also in our national lead, a violent end for police standoff just outside D.C. Monday night when suddenly --


TAPPER: A Virginia house with the suspect still inside blows up, burst into flames, and sends debris everywhere. Police were trying to execute a search warrant at the time.

CNN's Gabe Cohen is in Arlington, Virginia, where this happened. Gabe, what in the world happened here?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, that's one of the big questions tonight. What caused this explosion and was it intentional? Police say they are still trying to figure this out. As investigators continue to sift through what's left of this house, what this massive pile of rubble behind me.

If you look closely, you can see the extent of the damage. The roof caved in, a car charred, burned out front of it. And police say they've been here at the scene for more than three hours before the explosion because they say James Yoo, 56-year-old James U.S. holed up in that home for firing flares, 30 to 40 of them, into the neighborhood.

They said they made contact with you. They got little communication, and eventually breached the door. They fired chemical munitions and they say he fired a gun back and shortly after that, the home explodes.

Jake, again, we don't know that cause. The fire department says they had shut off gas to the house even before the explosion. So, a lot remains a mystery tonight.

TAPPER: What more do we know about the suspect?

COHEN: Yeah. So, again, it is 56-year-old James Yoo. We know he lived inside that house and local law enforcement said they've really not had much of any contact with Yoo in recent years. But the FBI told us that they had been reached out to by Yoo several times, phone calls, emails claiming that people were defrauding Yoo.

Take a listen. Here is what the FBI told us earlier today.


DAVID SUNDBERG, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR IN CHARGE, FBI WASHINGTON FIELD OFFICE: The individual Chief Penn (ph) referenced had previously communicated with the FBI, via phone calls, online tips, and letters over a number of years. I would characterize these communications as primarily complaints about alleged frauds he believed were perpetrated against him.


COHEN: And Jake, our CNN team has also found that James Yoo had a LinkedIn page where he had posted several incoherent ramblings and conspiracy theories about law enforcement, about politicians, even about his neighbors who reclaimed were spies. Again, that's part of an investigation, but learning more about him tonight.

TAPPER: All right. Gabe Cohen in Arlington, Virginia, thanks so much.

Coming up, brand-new comments from President Biden and a single factor he says that is pushing him to run for reelection in 2024.

Stay with us.



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

This hour, gripping new testimony, former hostages of Hamas describing torturous conditions -- no water, dehydrated for 51 days, treated inhumanely. And then another hearing, more hostages say they were drugged by the terrorist group before they're released.

Plus, a cascade of warnings on Capitol Hill. Lawmakers, hearing but a number of security threats in Ukraine, in Israel, and along the U.S. border. These warnings, coming as lawmakers are fighting over how the U.S. should handle those threats.

And leading this hour, a stunning admission from President Biden. He now says if Donald Trump was not running for president in 2024, he's not sure that he would also be in the race. Those comments today at a fund-raiser in Boston.

Let's bring in CNN political director David Chalian.

David, an incredibly candid admission by President Biden, what do you make of? It

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, we have seen a lot of previous reporting, including our own here at CNN, that there is no doubt that Trump was a motivating factor, of course, Jake, in Biden's thinking about running for reelection.