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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Rep. James Comer, (R-KY), Is Interviewed About Hunter Biden; Hunter Biden Faces Nine Federal Criminal Charges In Tax Case; House GOP Threatens Contempt If Hunter Biden Does Not Appear For Deposition Next Week; Texas AG Ken Paxton Threatens To Prosecute Doctor Who Performs Court -Ordered Abortion; Rep. Daniel Goldman, (D-NY), Is Interviewed About James Comer, Hunter Biden; Recordings Reveal What Gazans Think About Hamas; Poll: 67 Percent Disapprove Of How Biden Is Handling The Economy. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired December 08, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
HUNTER BIDEN, SON OF PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN: And so it's not about me, and their most base way, what they're trying to do is they're trying to kill me, knowing that it will be a pain greater than my father could be able to handle.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And informed source tells CNN that that podcast was recorded before prosecutors dropped nine new federal charges on Hunter Biden, accusing him of spending 1000s on memberships to a golf club and a sex club and on exotic dancers instead of paying his taxes. In reaction to the new charges, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee says IRS whistleblowers had been prevented from following evidence that could have led to Joe Biden himself.
With me now is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, Republican James Comer from the great Commonwealth of Kentucky. Congressman, Mr. Chairman, thanks for joining us. Hunter Biden is now facing nine additional charges related to tax crimes for which he could be sentenced to a maximum of 17 years in prison. Your reaction.
REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY), CHAIRMAN, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Well, I'm not surprised. I mean, we've been talking about lots of different crimes that we found in our investigation of the Biden family in the House Oversight Committee. This is one of many crimes, tax evasion. This particular tax evasion pertains to unpaid income while he was working with Burisma. But I would argue there are other things that he received money from that he's evading taxes. We believe they've also clearly violated the Foreign Agents Registration Act.
We believe they've committed money laundering crime. So, this is one crime that there's no question Hunter Biden's committed, but we believe there are many more.
TAPPER: So, when the Special Counsel Mr. Weiss was named, there were a lot of skeptics in the House Republican conference saying that he was not going to be fair, he was not going to be aggressive, the fix was in, looks like all of those skeptics were wrong.
COMER: I don't agree with that. I mean, this is one of many crimes the President's son committed. In fact, the two things that Weiss is charged the President's son with are the only two crimes that can't be traced directly back to Joe Biden. If you argue the Foreign Agents Registration Act violations, he was clearly an unregistered foreign agent for China, perhaps Romania, Ukraine and Russia as well, we don't know. We want to ask him about that in the deposition.
But at the end of the day, who was he lobbying on behalf of those countries, he was lobbying his father. So, you know, Joe Biden could have some FARA liability as well. We believe that this was clearly an influence peddling ring. We don't believe it's limited to the President's son, we believe the President's brother has just as much liability. And we believe the President United States was clearly involved and benefited from his family's influence peddling scheme.
TAPPER: So, that's what you're saying. But the counter argument might be that it's not that he's only charging crimes that cannot be traced to President Biden. The counter argument by might be he's only charging crimes for which there is actual evidence. And that would lead me to my next question is, can you name one piece of evidence or testimony that directly and credibly, credibly connects President Biden to any of this proven misconduct, proven?
COMER: I can name two.
COMER: First of all, we believe President Biden committed a quid pro quo when he leveraged a billion dollars of U.S. taxpayer money in Ukraine in exchange for firing the prosecutor, Shokin, who was investigating Burisma, the company that Hunter Biden just got charged with receiving substantial sums of money and not paying taxes. We believe that Joe Biden was directly involved in the termination. We believe this, Jake, because he admitted it on tape. That's one crime. We also believe --
TAPPER: We'll get to the second in a second, but just for our viewers awareness, the entire western world wanted Shokin fired. Like it wasn't just President Biden, the entire western world, the European Union, the G8, there was -- there were a lot of people, including Republican members of the House and the Senate who wanted Shokin fired, it wasn't just like, Vice President Biden, you know, conspiring with himself. So, OK, what's the second one you wanted to talk about?
COMER: Well, the second one, clearly with the Foreign Agents Registration Act. That's why the judge in Delaware kicked out the sweetheart plea deal that Weiss originally negotiated. Remember, just a few months ago, Weiss was trying to negotiate a deal that would have given Hunter Biden blanket immunity. He wouldn't have had to charge -- been charged with any serious crime.
TAPPER: Right. COMER: So, the Foreign Agent Registration Act is the most obvious. And who is he lobbying on behalf? I mean, he was lobbying on behalf of our enemies around the world. Who was he lobby? He was lobbying his father.
TAPPER: Right. But we don't have any evidence that he carried -- I don't know what evidence there might be about Hunter Biden and the Foreign Agents Registration Act. You might be right about that. I just don't know what then Vice President Biden might have done or and especially in those four years where he was not doing anything, he wasn't vice president or president.
But let's move on to some other questions because you've called Hunter Biden to testify next week before your committee, December 13. You've said if he does not appear, you will hold them in contempt of Congress. Hunter Biden has said and his lawyer said that he's willing to testify publicly, he just doesn't want to do it behind closed doors. He's afraid Republicans will leak his remarks and they'll put them out of context. Why not just allow his appearance to be public? I have to say, just as a journalist, I'm really as you just generally know, I liked the transparency. Ask him anything you want, I would like to see it.
COMER: Jake, put our investigation put my investigation next to Adam Schiff, and you tell me who's been more transparent. Every single bit of evidence that we talk about we cite -- we publish four byte memorandums, which show proof of suspicious wires and money laundering. We cite different suspicious activity reports from banks indicating specific crimes. You got testimony through depositions and interviews with respect to crimes that have been committed by the President's family. So, we've been transparent.
Every deposition in the history of America has been done in closed doors. But we released the transcript. We will release the transcript.
COMER: You will know when he coughed in this transcribed interview. And remember, during the January 6 committee, the children of the former president testified for over 12 hours behind closed doors in a deposition, every big criminal case in America has closed door deposition.
TAPPER: So that was an investigation -- that wasn't an investigation of Ivanka Trump. That was a separate investigation. But in any case, I guess my other question is just isn't something better than nothing? Why not just jump at the opportunity to grill Hunter Biden on national television? Here's your chance, you know, you're the dog that caught the boss.
TAPPER: Here it is.
COMER: This isn't about politics. It's not about me either. My job -- I know the media, I know the media, and I like you, Jake. I know the media would like to have a big public show and that would be very --
COMER: -- entertaining. But my job is not to entertain.
TAPPER: it's me that to be public show. Yes, it's me.
COMER: Right, right. But my job is not to entertain you all. My job is to get the truth. When you have a public hearing, a regular committee hearing, you know how they are. Each side gets five minutes, we have 25 Republicans.
We would probably get 35, maybe 40 questions in. We have about seven or 800 specific questions. We have over 20,000 pages of bank documents. We have dozens and dozens of wires from our enemies around the world. We have no idea what the Biden's were doing to receive this money.
And we know one thing, Jake, they didn't pay a penny of taxes on it. So what he got charged with with that indictment last night, that had nothing to do with all of the so called loans that the Biden's have said. We've identified, it appears with the President's son and brother, over $14 million dollars in loans where it doesn't look like they've ever made any payments on, principal or interest. And at what point do those loans if you're not going to pay it back?
COMER: Because of income. So, we think that this is just the tip of the iceberg. We think there are many more crimes. And my concern is that Weiss may have indicted Hunter Biden to protect him from nothing to be deposed (ph) --
COMER: -- in the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
TAPPER: Yes. He indicted him to protect him. Yes, the classic rubric. He indicted him to protect him. I got it
COMER: Well, look this whole -- this, Jake, this whole thing's been about a cover up. You know, you've got two serious --
TAPPER: That's why you got to protect him, to cover it up?
COMER: Well, he -- look, you indicted him on the least little thing, the gun charge and not paying tax.
TAPPER: He's facing like 17 additional years in prison.
COMER: Yes, but look what he's done.
TAPPER: He's a felony.
COMER: Any anybody else -- anybody else in America would already be in prison would already be in prison. You say he owes 2 million, he may owe seven or $8 million. If these loans are fraudulent loans. I mean, a loan made you are going to pay it back. So, look, but at the end of the day, at the end of the day, this money's coming from bad people around the world.
COMER: Why are they paying Hunter? Why are they paying Hunter Biden? We believe that it's because they want to direct to access to Joe Biden. And I don't think any American, whether they're Democrat or Republican, would want to have a president that's compromised to our biggest enemy in the world, China.
TAPPER: So, again, I asked for one piece of evidence or testimony that directly incredibly connected President Biden to proven misconduct.
COMER: I will. I said it. I said it, the termination of Shokin in Ukraine. As well as the --
TAPPER: Yes, that's not -- that isn't -- those that promise a lot.
COMER: -- his son and brother -- well, look, all of it say no evidence for a long time and Hunter was innocent. I mean, it doesn't look to me like that.
TAPPER: No, no, I never said that -- I've never said that about Hunter. I've never said that about Hunter. But it's only a two hour show. Chairman James Comer, always good to see. I hope you enjoy your weekend in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky. Thank you so much.
COMER: All right. You too. Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: On to the rebuttal to that from a Democrat on the House Oversight Committee. That's next.
TAPPER: In our health lead, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is asking the Texas Supreme Court to review a high profile abortion case. He wants to overturn the order from a Texas judge who granted an abortion to Kate Cox, a woman who is 20 weeks pregnant. This after Paxton sent a letter to Houston hospitals arguing Cox does not qualify for an exemption to the state's strict six week ban, and threatens to prosecute any provider who facilitates her abortion.
Cox's fetus has been diagnosed with a fatal disorder Trisomy 18 and is not expected to live more than a few days outside the womb. Cox's own physician says the pregnancy, quote, "Puts Cox at high risk for severe complications and threatens her life and her future fertility." That part is key because Texas abortion ban supposedly allows exceptions to save the life of a pregnant woman. With us now is Kate Cox's attorney Molly Duane. Molly, so Kate's doctors said she couldn't provide the abortion without a court order, because she, quote, "cannot risk loss of her medical license life in prison and massive civil fines. If her belief is not accepted by the courts, the court did accept this yesterday but now Texas is still threatening to prosecute. Will Kate's doctor or anyone else still be willing to provide this abortion?
MOLLY DUANE, ATTORNEY IN TEXAS ABORTION CASE: Well, I think what Attorney General Paxton's activity over the last day shows is that the medical exceptions to Texas's abortion bans never really existed in practice. Because what we have here is a set of doctors and a real patient, this is a real person going through a heartbreaking situation right now with her family, where not only is she suffering the loss of a pregnancy, but she is dealing with the real implications for her health and her future fertility. And her doctor says the care you need is an abortion. And what we have is the attorney general attempting to practice medicine, I guess. And second guess the judgment of those physicians who have, you know, put their lives and on the line and what would you do if you were her doctor?
And the second that this lawsuit was filed that we got this order that attorney general personally threatened you in every hospital you've ever worked at? I mean, it's unimaginable and shameful.
TAPPER: Yes, I'm not questioning her doctor's activities. I certainly understand her fears. The Texas attorney general says it does not qualify under the state laws emergency exemption. Has the State clearly defined what that exemption looks like?
DUANE: They never have. I mean, we have both a six week abortion ban in Texas, that's been in effect for two years and a complete abortion ban that I think somehow gets lost in all of this. It's now in effect posed the overturning of Roe v. Wade. So we have two years of huge massive abortion bans extremely restrictive laws in the state of Texas. Two years and not once has the state told us what they think the exception means.
They just keep telling us it's clear, but yesterday was the first time that they said, ah, this isn't enough. This isn't close enough to death, and I Attorney General Paxton, want to be the one to decide.
TAPPER: I want to remind everyone out there that Texas law also allows private citizens, private citizens to sue anyone who assists anyone to get an abortion in the state. People can of course in theory, travel out of state for an abortion with no legal repercussions for anyone involved. But that's obviously often a complicated ordeal. Tell us why Kate's challenging Texas instead of going out of state?
DUANE: Well, there's two things I want to say here. So you mentioned the vigilante aspect of Texas law, both Kate and her husband, as well as her doctors are plaintiffs in this case. And that is because this is real. Kate's husband has potential liability if he assists her in getting an abortion that Attorney General Paxton thinks violates the law. I mean, this is not a hypothetical or hyperbolic situation. This is a real family going through this and trying to figure out what to do. In terms of why sue the state, you know, obviously Ms. Cox is putting herself out there and taking a stand. But it's really quite simple, she just wants to be able to access health care in her own community. And I think people talk really cavalierly to be honest about traveling out of state for urgent health care, and it's no small thing to do and it's a huge ask for many families that will be traumatic and as a human rights violation on its own. But for the vast majority of families in this country, it isn't even an option at all. And so that's what's happening here, is that people are being forced to carry pregnancies to term by the states in which they live even when it means putting their lives and their future fertility on the line.
TAPPER: Molly Duane, thank you so much. Really appreciate your time today.
DUANE: Thanks for having me.
TAPPER: Coming up next, what Democrats say about Republican efforts to go after the Hunter Biden family. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Back to our law and justice lead and a rebuttal to Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer's claims about the new charges for Hunter Biden, I want to turn to Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman. He's also on the House Oversight Committee.
Congressman, I'm not sure if you heard our interview with Chairman Comer. But he said that he thinks --
REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (D-NY), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: I did.
TAPPER: -- Attorney David Weiss indicted Hunter Biden in order to protect him because he's using the lesser charges. I couldn't really make much sense of it. But I did want to give you an opportunity as a Democrat on the committee to respond.
GOLDMAN: Yes, I mean, I think through that whole interview, what's up is down and what's down is up for Chairman Comer. The only reason I think Hunter Biden was prosecuted and charged with these crimes which almost are never charged for the gun charge and would be settled civilly for the tax charges is because of Chairman Comer and House Republican's undue and improper interference in an ongoing criminal investigation. But that's the least of concerns about what he said.
Chairman Comer may be a great farmer, Jake, but he has no idea what he's talking about with criminal law. I was a federal prosecutor for 10 years, there is nothing remotely close to a FARA violation or to money laundering. I don't think he knows what they are and certainly doesn't understand what would be required by that.
And what was particularly noteworthy is I thought you asked a very good question to actually name evidence because every time Chairman Comer goes on T.V. he makes bold accusations about all these crimes, crimes, crimes, and they, they, they even though it's only Hunter Biden. And the only piece of evidence that he pointed to was an -- the Burisma issue where Joe Biden encouraged Ukraine to fire the Prosecutor General Shokin. That has been proven up down, left, right, every single which way to be completely bogus. And in fact, firing Shokin, who was not prosecuting corruption, was actually bad for Burisma and therefore bad for Hunter Biden. This is a house of cards with no evidence and Chairman Comer just prove that to you.
TAPPER: I want to ask you about these new charges about Hunter Biden, the indictment says, quote, "Hunter Biden spent this money on drugs, escorts and girlfriends, luxury hotels and rental properties, exotic cars, clothing, and other items of a personal nature, in short, everything but his taxes." You're not arguing that it isn't egregious, right? I mean, he had the money. He spent it on this other stuff, and he didn't pay his taxes.
GOLDMAN: No, no, I'm saying that the interference by the Republicans is what undid his plea agreement. And he had reached whatever deal, it was a misdemeanor that he was going to be charged with. A misdemeanor is improper conduct. And it appears from the allegations in the indictment that Hunter Biden certainly engaged in improper conduct. But that's for the Department of Justice to figure out.
It is not for the Oversight Committee and Congress to investigate Hunter Biden. And they have shown no connection to Joe Biden whatsoever, which is the only person in their jurisdiction and the person they're trying to impeach. And it is a complete farce and a sham for them to go forward with an impeachment investigation because of Hunter Biden's wrongdoing that has no connection to Joe Biden. And that is what this is, it is a political partisan effort to appease Donald Trump and to engage in slander and complete outright lies for their own political benefit.
TAPPER: See, I thought, correct me if I'm wrong, I thought that the plea deal blew up because Hunter Biden's attorney, they wanted to guarantee that if Donald Trump were to come into office, they could not then charge Hunter Biden. They wanted to guarantee that there couldn't have been not be any future charges added and they wouldn't offer that. And so, Hunter Biden's attorney walked away from the deal, and I understand why they would want that, but Hunter Biden's attorney walk away from the deal.
GOLDMAN: It was a combination of that.
GOLDMAN: It was a combination of the fact that Donald Trump has demonstrated that he will weaponized the Department of Justice and Hunter Biden was understandably concerned that someone as lawless as Donald Trump, if he were to become president, would politically persecute and prosecute Hunter Biden, regardless of the evidence. It was also because the judge had a role in this and the judge did not feel it was appropriate to have a role in it. But just underscores how absurd the Republicans allegations are, that the reason why Hunter Biden wanted this protection is because of a legitimate fear that Donald Trump would pursue criminally his enemies, because he is an authoritarian in waiting. And this is the nominee for the Republican Party. That is a legitimate concern of Hunter Biden's, and it is a shame that it has to be one.
TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman, thank you. Happy Hanukkah.
GOLDMAN: Thank you. You too.
TAPPER: Coming up, what Israel says happened when its forces tried to rescue more hostages from Hamas. Stay with us.
TAPPER: In our World Lead this afternoon, the United States vetoed a U.N. Security Council draft resolution calling for an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Thirteen countries voted in favor, the British abstained. The U.S. cast the veto. Intense fighting is reported in southern Gaza, which Israel says is a main stronghold currently of Hamas.
The IDF says two Israeli soldiers were severely injured during an operation to rescue hostages held in Gaza. But no hostages were freed. We're also seeing images that show Israeli soldiers detaining dozens of men stripped down to their underwear, wearing blindfolds and sitting on the ground. An IDF spokesman says that in general, images from the region have stripped down Palestinians, are Hamas members and suspected Hamas members without referring to any specific photographs.
Hamas accuses the Israelis of kidnapping and disrobing displaced Palestinian civilians. We can't independently confirm or refute either claim. What we do know is that every day we see images of the horrific suffering in Gaza, injured Palestinians being carried to hospitals, desperate families looking for food and safe shelter. Well, we don't usually hear it -- what -- is what Palestinians who live in Gaza actually think of Hamas and what they actually think of the war that's why our next guest is here. His name is Joseph Braude. He's president of the Center for Peace Communications. And Joseph, your group has produced a series of videos called Whispered in Gaza, featuring the voices of ordinary Palestinians. Here's an example.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There's a false stereotype that Palestinians in Gaza, love rockets and wars. The wars that happen in Gaza are waged by the Hamas government, for political aims that serve them alone.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): If you're a godson citizen, who opposes war and says, I don't want war, you're brand a traitor. It's forbidden to say that you don't want war.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): They exploit us under the pretext of resistance. Consider the wars that happened in 2008, 2012, 2014 and 2020. They made profit out of it, and only the people suffered. Whenever there's a war, and they get more aid money, they're the ones who benefit, and we get nothing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It's so important for the world to hear those voices, Joseph. Tell us more about how you recorded that and what the purpose of your group is.
JOSEPH BRAUDE, PRESIDENT, THE CENTER FOR PEACE COMMUNICATIONS: Well, the Center for Peace Communications is concerned with amplifying voices that oppose extremist groups and want a different future of partnership and peace among themselves and including with their Israeli neighbors. And there are a lot of Gazans, Jake, who oppose Hamas. Some of them had the courage to wage anti-Hamas street demonstrations in 2019.
And again, as recently as July of this year, they braved gunfire in prison. But the world hasn't paid much attention to them. And they still want to be heard, so we launched an initiative to interview many Gazans across the Strip from all walks of life, and platform them safely. By working with a team of animators and illustrators to do visual representations of the stories, those voices told.
TAPPER: Here's a clip from another one of your projects. These were recorded about two weeks into the Israel-Hamas war.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this time, as a person living in the prison that is Gaza, my prime and immediate enemy is Hamas, not the occupation. I have no house, no life, nothing. Were condemned to suffer because of the stupid organization, who made us live in poverty in Gaza, not the Jews, Hamas. Because of the events we saw on October 7th, the world changed its view of the Gaza Strip. Everybody came out to believe were terrorists who cut people's heads off, comparing us to ISIS. A lot of people suffer from this. To be candid, Hamas is utterly wrecked to the Palestinian people. I hope our voice will reach the outside world.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Now I'm sure there are also a lot of Gazans who are furious and -- with the Israelis and hate the IDF. And I don't want anyone to think that I'm playing this or that your project is about pretending otherwise, right?
BRAUDE: Absolutely. And of course, it's possible to be anti-Hamas and anti-Israel at the same time. When you look at survey data, it shows that as many as 70 percent of Palestinians in Gaza on the eve of this war, were in favor of Hamas disarming and an alternative administration ruling the strip that PA was the Palestinian Authority was the alternative offered in the poll.
But there's also statistics that show a large number of Gazans supporting resistance in the abstract. While at the same time, they are very clear that they're angry at Hamas for starting wars it can't win while hiding in tunnels and leaving civilians to suffer the casualties. So these seemingly contradictory ideas actually, you know, can inhabit one mind.
TAPPER: Yes, we contain multitudes as has been said. Hamas tries to silence free expression and Gaza. Watch this last clip. It's from a journalist who tried to cover an anti-Hamas demonstration.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I was working for foreign press agencies because somebody needed to provide news coverage. While I was covering the event, I was beaten. My hand was broken. My cell phone was broken. My camera was broken. Our household was mistreated, my entire extended family, a lot of them. Any number of my family they got a hold of was jailed. They beat and abused them. They put nails in their feet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Tough stuff there. I mean, there is not a free press in Gaza.
BRAUDE: That's right. And that's why in our new free press series, we're getting a chance to these and other voices in Gaza to comment on a regular basis about what's happening to them during this war. But it is very dangerous for people to openly express opposition to Hamas. And even now people are afraid to speak, because they aren't yet convinced that Hamas will be out of power when the fighting stops.
TAPPER: Yes, of course, it's deadly to be a journalist in Gaza right now with dozens of journalists killed in the bombardment by the IDF. Hopefully that will all end soon, and hopefully the Palestinian people will have a brighter day. Joseph Braude, thank you so much for your time. And thank you for that project. Interesting stuff.
We're monitoring an event right now with President Biden, he's in Nevada, after another horrific campus shooting in that state this week. We're keeping an ear on his comments. Keep it here. Stay with us.
TAPPER: President Biden on the campaign trail in Nevada right now, he just addressed the tragic shooting at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas earlier this week. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Folks, we got to get smart. There have been over 600 mass shootings in America this year alone, plus daily acts of gun violence that don't even make the national news. This is not normal. And we can never let it become normal. People have the right to feel safe, be safe, and I'm fighting to make sure they do. But all these actions I've taken as President of the United States on gun violence epidemic is not enough. We need Congress to step up.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: My panel is here. And MJ, this trip was planned before the mass shooting. It's part of a trip to promote the economy. But this issue of gun violence, obviously, going to be a big part of his pitch, because he's really focused on those suburban women for whom this is an issue that could help him win over, even though there he's kind of shaky with him right now.
MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, sure. And certainly, it's something that he can talk about in terms of a messaging push, I think there are certain, you know, segments of the population that this will be more geared towards. I mean, in terms of the reality back in Washington, D.C. --
LEE: -- this isn't, I mean, he has made this kind of speech in the past many, many times. And that is, of course, the really depressing thing about this. This is an issue, as you know, very well, the White House is very, very familiar with, there's another mass shooting. You go and talk about how this is not acceptable. There needs to be action on the Hill. But the President knows better than anybody else how difficult that is even when he is talking about bringing back things like the assault weapons ban, red flag laws. I mean, it is very, very challenging. And I don't think he's standing up there thinking that something is going to get done legislatively.
TAPPER: No, of course not. But of course, the main focus of this trip and his reelect is the economy. You handled messaging for the Biden administration. This is what acting Labor Secretary Julie Su said to CNN about today's job report, and unemployment falling to 3.7 percent. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JULIE SU, ACTING LABOR SECRETARY: In fact, that low unemployment rate is the lowest unemployment rate for the longest stretch since Diana Ross topped the charts. And so this is part of an overall story of how the economy is strong. Bidenomics is working.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: I mean, I don't know what that means. Is that the 60s, is that the 70s? You might want to add a year there. But take a look at this recent CNN poll, when Americans are asked about how President Biden is handling the economy, 67 percent disapprove, only 33 percent approve. So regardless of the Diana Ross and the Supremes references, two out of three Americans do not think by economics is working for them. Why such a disconnect?
KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think there are few reasons. Firstly, it's hard to prove a negative. So it's hard to say to people, things could have been so much worse if we hadn't taken the actions we take. And I think that is true. If you look at where the predictions were about what was going to happen to the economy, when Joe Biden took office, it was recession. Can we get to a soft landing? Are we going to crater out? Or you know, is there going to be 10 percent, 15 percent unemployment?
And we're not having those conversations today because of steps that Biden's taken. But that's a hard thing to communicate, because what people are feeling is, yes, tremendous job creation. Yes, wages are up. But prices are also high. And people are feeling that when they are, you know, when they're going out when they're spending their money. So what Biden needs to do, what the White House needs to do is channel some of that anger. Bring the Joe Biden populism, the Joe Biden, I'm fighting for you, messaging to their economic message.
And I think you see Biden do that. He certainly talks about, you know, Scranton versus Park Avenue. And he gets that kind of, you know, his underlying view that the economy should work for middle class families and working people. But you know, the more that they can do to talk about how they're addressing prices or dressing costs, they do this with their junk fee work, they do it on healthcare costs, but the more they can really lean into that and show that he is fighting on prices. I think the better off they'll be.
SHERMICHAEL SINGLETON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: I mean, I think the problem here, Jake, is and I certainly understand that and you look at all metrics, inflation is improving slowly. I think most economists even those on the right would argue that soft landing may come at some point in the New Year. But the reality is, most people just aren't feeling it.
SINGLETON: Living wages, get an apartment if you live in a major city, 3, $4,000 for a one bedroom. God forbid if you live in New York City, you're young I recently graduated from college, you're a family with young kids, you have to afford for daycare. Most people can't afford these basic necessities that most of us just a few years ago didn't think twice about. So this idea that Bidenomics continues to be a success on paper, I will absolutely applaud the President and pat him on the back. But the reality is, most people don't fill it. And until they fill it, as we say, in politics, reality is what perception.
TAPPER: So -- go ahead.
SINGLETON: Perception is reality.
LEE: Part of the thing too, I mean, with this event, you're seeing this play out, the difficulty in selling something like the infrastructure package, is that it is a huge piece of legislation. And it takes a really long time for these things to actually go into effect. So you're talking about money, you're talking about funding, but at the end of the day, you're like standing in front of a bridge that is still broken, you're going to a train depot, and like the rail tracks haven't been built yet.
So I think the -- that is like a part of the disconnect. You don't have like tangible material things that you can point to yet to say, like I did this, this was my White House that did this.
TAPPER: Yes. The other big news, special counsel investigating Hunter Biden, charging him with nine additional charges, these are federal tax charges, including failure to file pay taxes, pretty unseemly, because it goes into what he was spending his money on, instead of paying his taxes, and it's a whole bunch of stuff. I wasn't paying -- spending my money on and filing fraudulent tax return. How is the White House responding to these charges?
LEE: You know, there are a few issues, I think, at the White House that are more sensitive in the building than the issue of the President's son. I think, in fact, you know, when you talk to people, and they say, this is what the President thinks or feels about the troubles that his son is facing, they probably actually don't know, because so few people actually have firsthand insight into how he is processing all of this.
I think politically, they're going to try to make the case look like most people are not going to vote on the issue of the President's son. But, yes, it is an image issue. It is a political headache. Republicans are trying to weaponize this. And yes, that is frustrating for the White House that wants to be focusing on lots of other things.
TAPPER: Did you see the interview I did with the Oversight Committee Chairman, where he said that the special counsel wasn't indicting Hunter Biden in order to protect him?
SINGLETON: I mean, of course, I saw that Jake. The President's son more than likely is going to face some jail time as we were discussing.
TAPPER: I think it's very quite possible.
SINGLETON: -- very serious charges.
SINGLETON: And the reality is, if you're a White House, when you're looking at --
TAPPER: That's not very much protecting him.
SINGLETON: You don't want to talk about this, why running for reelection. But I want to say I want to be sensitive on this because this is the President's son.
SINGLETON: You know, Hunter Biden has had a very difficult path. And a lot of Americans have had children that have dealt with addictions. And we should be sensitive to that, even as he goes through this process. BEDINGFIELD: But I would also say the White House not talking about this is there's strategic value in that too. Republicans have tried to weaponize this for years. This was a piece of the campaign in 2019 and 2020. They have tried to charge Joe Biden with the idea that he's done some something wrong. What the White House is doing is showing that Joe Biden is hands off. He's letting the DOJ run the process. That is good. That's good for the White House. Their strategic value in not -- this is not just, oh, he doesn't, they don't talk about the President's son. This is also a strategic decision.
SINGLETON: -- would we give the same level of freedom here, would we give that same level of grace? I'm not certain many Republicans would think so.
BEDINGFIELD: But my point is, we -- you had Jim Comer on and his argument was the big smoking gun is that Biden got rid of Shogun (ph), who as you pointed out, the entire western world wanted to get rid of, by the way, because he was not seriously rooting out corruption.
BEDINGFIELD: The substance isn't there. So the White House not engaging is a smart strategic decision.
LEE: And the President himself. I mean, he has been very, very consistent on this. What you will hear him say is, I love my son. I support his recovery. And I'm proud of him. And that's it for the most part.
SINGLETON: But he would prefer to talk about the economy and the recovery than the issues that his son is facing. There's no doubt about that.
TAPPER: All right. Thanks to all of you. We'll be right back.
TAPPER: In our Pop Culture Lead, Oscar nominated actor Ryan O'Neal, the star of several landmark films including "Love Story" and "Paper Noon" -- "Paper Moon" has died according to his son Patrick. Patrick remembered his dad on social media by writing, quote, my father Ryan O'Neal has always been my hero. I looked up to him and he was always bigger than life O'Neal's breakout role was in 1967 on the nighttime soap opera "Peyton Place." May his memory be a blessing.
Coming up Sunday on State of the Union, I'll speak with Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Republican Senator J.D. Vance of Ohio and former Vice President Al Gore. That's Sunday morning at 9:00 and noon here on CNN.
Look out for two big events in the 2024 space next week. Tuesday I'll moderate a conversation with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis and Iowa voters. Then Wednesday CNN's Abby Phillip will host a town hall with Republican candidate Vivek Ramaswamy. Both will start at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, X, formerly known as Twitter, and on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen to the show once you get your podcasts. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". Happy Hanukkah to him, and to you.