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The Lead with Jake Tapper

CNN Gets Rare, Independent Access Into Southern Gaza; Jury In Giuliani Defamation Damages Trial Will Resume Deliberations Tomorrow; Congress Expected To Leave For Holiday Break Without Finalizing Ukraine-Israel Aid Proposal; Officer Injured On Jan. 6 Reacts To Trump's Leading GOP Field. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired December 14, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: That's your sounds like a conversation where Biden is challenging Netanyahu on Israel killing too many Palestinian civilians and Netanyahu reaching back to the Dresden bombings and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings from 1945 to justify what he is ordering the IDF to do.

In those same remarks, Biden insisted that the U.S. is committed to, quote, "do everything in our power to hold Hamas accountable, every single thing in our power. They're animals. They're animals. They exceeded anything that any other terrorist group has done of late," unquote. Yet, there are quite obviously 1000s and 1000s of innocent people that the IDF is killing who are not members of Hamas.

And whether you blame Hamas for embedding within the Palestinian population after the October 7th brutal terrorist attack on Israel or you blame the IDF and Netanyahu or both, this is the ugly and brutal reality of the slaughter of innocents that Clarissa Ward brings us now. A warning that many of the images we are about to show you are difficult to watch.


CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): You don't have to search for tragedy in Gaza, it finds you on every street strewn with trash and stagnant water, desolate and foreboding.

WARD: So we've just crossed the border into southern Gaza. This is the first time we've actually been able to get into Gaza as since October 7. And we are now driving to a field hospital that has been set up by the UAE.

WARD (voice-over): Up until now, Israel and Egypt have made access for international journalists next to impossible. And you can see why.

WARD: Since October 7, Israeli military says it has hit Gaza with more than 22,000 strikes, that by far surpasses anything we've seen in modern warfare in terms of intensity and ferocity, and we really honestly are just getting a glimpse of it here. WARD (voice-over): Despite Israel's heavy bombardment, there are people out on the streets, crowd outside a bakery. Where else can they go? Nowhere is safe in Gaza.


WARD: Right.

AL-NAQBI: -- a stadium.

WARD (voice-over): Arriving at the Emirati Field hospital, we meet Dr. Abdullah Al-Naqbi. No sooner does our tour begin when --

AL-NAQBI: So, our ambulance -- that's the real life.

WARD: And this is what you hear all the time now?

AL-NAQBI: Yes. At least 20 times a day.

WARD: At least 20 times a day.

AL-NAQBI: Maybe more sometimes. I think we got used to it.

WARD (voice-over): One thing none of the doctors here have gotten used to is the number of children they are treating. The U.N. estimates that some two thirds of those killed in this round of the conflict have been women and children. Eight-year-old Jenan (ph) was lucky enough to survive a strike on her family home that crushed her femur but spared her immediate family.

WARD: (Foreign Language) She says she's not in pain, so that's good.

WARD (voice-over): Her mother, Hiba was out when it happened. I went to the hospital to look for her, she says. And I came here, and I found her here. The doctors told me what happened with her. And I made sure that she's OK. Thank God.

They bombed the house in front of us and then our home, Jenan tells us. I was sitting next to my grandfather. And my grandfather helped me, and my uncle was fine. So he is the one who took us out.

WARD: Don't cry.

WARD (voice-over): But Dr. Ahmed Almazrouei says it is hard not to.

DR. AHMED ALMAZROUEI, UAE FIELD HOSPITAL: I worked with all the people like adult, but the children, something that changed your life.

WARD (voice-over): Touches your heart and tests your faith in humanity. As we leave Jenan Dr. Al-Naqbi comes back with the news of casualties arriving from the strike just 10 minutes earlier.

AL-NAQBI: So just got a stable scene right now, two unmutated young male from the -- just the bombing.

WARD: From the cuss of we just heard? AL-NAQBI: Yes.

WARD: From the bomb we just heard?

AL-NAQBI: This is my understanding.



AL-NAQBI: They will arrive to other areas.

WARD (voice-over): A man and a 13-year-old boy are wheeled in, both missing limbs, both in a perilous state. What's your name? What's your name? The doctor asks.

The notes provided by the paramedics are smeared with blood, tourniquets improvised with a bandage. Since the field hospital opened, less than two weeks ago, it's been inundated with patients, 130 of their 150 beds are already full.

WARD: So let me understand this, you are now basically the only hospital around that still has some beds?

AL-NAQBI: I guess so. Yes. Or maybe I'm very sure of that. But they are telling me one of the hospitals with a capacity of 200, they are accommodating 1000 right now. And the next-door hospital, I'm not very sure, is it like 50 to 200 have maybe 400 to 500 patients. So, at one occasion he called me he said I have three patients in each bed, please take any. I said, send as many as you can.

WARD: I mean, we've been here 15 minutes and this already what we're seeing.

AL-NAQBI: And this is -- you heard it, you see it.

WARD (voice-over): In every bed, another gut punch. Less than two years old, Amir still doesn't know that his parents and siblings were killed in the strike that disfigured him.

Yesterday he saw a nurse that look like his father, his aunt Nehaia tells us. He kept screaming, dad, dad, dad.

Amir is still too young to comprehend the horror all around him. But 20-year-old Lama (ph) understands it all too well. Ten weeks ago, she was studying engineering at university and helping to plan her sister's wedding. Today she is recovering from the amputation of her right leg. Her family followed Israeli military orders and fled from the north to the south, but the house where they were seeking shelter was hit in a strike.

The world isn't listening to us, she says. Nobody cares about us. We had been dying for over 60 days, dying from the bombing and nobody did anything.

Words of condemnation delivered in a thin rasp. But does anyone hear them? Like Grozny, Aleppo and Mariupol, Gaza will go down as one of the great horrors of modern warfare. It's getting dark time for us to leave, a privilege the vast majority of Gazans do not have. Our brief glimpse from a window on to hell is ending as a new chapter in this ugly conflict unfolds.


WARD (on camera): And, Jake, I do think it's worth underscoring that while we were there just for a few hours and had a measure of protection that was offered by the fact that we were with the Emiratis, that they have normalized relations with Israel is the journalists on the ground inside Gaza who have been doing truly courageous and heroic, extraordinary work since this round of hostilities, and they have been dying in record numbers as a result of that. The community -- the Committee for the Protection of Journalists, the CPJ saying more than 60 journalists killed since October 7, Jake.

TAPPER: Clarissa, first of all, that was just a remarkable report and very distressing. Prime Minister Netanyahu and his conversation with President Biden he brought up all the civilians that the U.S. killed in Germany and Japan during World War II, it was about 80 years ago. How does the civilian death toll in Gaza compare with that by the American military during more recent wars, like Iraq and Afghanistan?

WARD: So we've been looking through some of the numbers and talking to independent monitoring groups like Iraq Body Count, which is run by a British researcher, according to their estimates, in the first year of the war in Iraq, two -- in 2003 some 7,700 Iraqi civilians were killed by the U.S. forces. Now, if you look at this round of hostilities since October 7, the death toll is at about 18,000 at the moment, and two thirds of those are estimated to be women and children. That's roughly 11,800 civilians killed in two and a half months.


And Jake, of course, this is 20 years after the invasion of Iraq. There is more precise weaponry that is available these days. And as you were noting in your reporting earlier, CNN has found that a lot of the munitions being used, and I should add that many of these weapons are produced and supplied by the U.S. are so called dumb bombs, which really are not the kind of weapons you want to be using if you are sincere in your intentions to try to protect and mitigate the cost of life to civilians. Jake.

TAPPER: Yes, a brigadier general in the Israeli forces told Congress that they have to use those to get at the Hamas militants in the tunnels. Be that as it may, you've been a conflict reporter for a long time now, the leaders of the Israeli government say that this war is necessary to get rid of Hamas, which poses a threat to Israel, we all saw what they did to the Israeli people, a lot of civilians, hundreds of civilians killed, slaughtered, raped, and more on October 7. We should note the IDF claims that they believe they've killed roughly 7,000 Hamas militants still, even if you don't, you know, believe every number coming out of the Hamas run Palestinian Ministry of Health. There isn't a lot of disagreement that twice as many civilians have been killed than 7000. Do you think that there could be security implications for Israel in all these civilian casualties beyond killing off Hamas?

WARD: I think when you look at recent conflicts, Jake, it becomes clear that often it sounds like a cliche, but violence begets more violence. And you are creating an atmosphere in Gaza right now, where it is almost inevitable that there will be a huge amount of radicalization that will take place, simply because of the ferocity of the bombardment but also the fact that the people of Gaza have nowhere to go. The people of Gaza have nowhere that is safe. The people of Gaza genuinely feel as though they have been completely abandoned by the outside world. And I've seen how this played out in Syria. And scenarios like this, people tend to drop to their knees and turn to much more radical forces, because there is that sense of impotence that there is no other way to confront this.

And you even heard echoes of that in an early speech that President Biden gave where he talked about, don't make the same mistakes. He put it very gently. But the warning was there. Don't make the mistakes that we made after 9/11. We've seen this movie before, Jake, and we know how it ends. And however, how many Hamas fighters may be killed in this round of hostilities, you have to ask the question, how many more are being created?

TAPPER: One concern that we've heard from the Israeli government about sending in more aid trucks, which is obviously one of the reasons for the misery that you just bore witness to and showed us the lack of supplies, the lack of medical supplies, water, food, et cetera, fuel. One of the reasons why the Israeli say they're concerned about sending in so many trucks is because they say Hamas steal supplies, steals the fuel, uses it for their own attacks against Israel. What do you hear from aid workers on the ground about that?

WARD: So, we have asked a number of aid workers on the ground about this. And particularly, we've asked the main U.N. agency that works inside Gaza, UNRWA, and they have said that the aid goes straight from the Egyptian Red Crescent to the Palestinian Red Crescent to the U.N. workers on the ground and then goes out for distribution. That is not to say, and it will be impossible for me to say categorically that some of this aid does not end up in the hands of Hamas. But you surely have to do the calculation of 1.9 million people who are displaced, who do not have adequate food, who do not have adequate access to clean drinking water to medical supplies and ask yourself the moral question of whether that becomes acceptable or not, Jake.

TAPPER: Clarissa Ward in the UAE right now. Thank you so much for that remarkable reporting. Really appreciate it.

Coming up next, the wait that will now continue tomorrow in a D.C. courthouse that could cost Rudy Giuliani 48 million, million dollars. Does Rudy even have that kind of money anymore? Stay with us.


[17:18:31] TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, moments ago former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani left federal court here in D.C. after jury deliberations in his defamation damages trial finish for the day. Court is set to resume tomorrow. The big question in front of the jury, how much will Rudy Giuliani have to pay the two Georgia election workers whom he falsely accused of ballot tampering in Georgia? Giuliani was already found liable of defamation by another judge earlier this year. CNN's Jessica Schneider looks now for us at the closing arguments from both sides and how we got here.


RUDY GIULIANI, DONALD TRUMP'S FORMER ATTORNEY: -- you heard one side. Stay tuned for my testimony.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Rudy Giuliani promised at the start of his trial that he would take the stand to defend himself in the multi million defamation case against him. But minutes before the final day of trial was set to start, Giuliani backed out. His lawyer telling the jury Giuliani didn't testify because we feel these women have been through enough. The lawyer for former Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss essentially saying the contrived compassion coming too late after years of threats and harassment they say they endured because of Giuliani.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eat (bleep) and die you (bleep racist. You and your fat (bleep) daughter.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The torrent of voicemails Freeman and Moss received after the 2020 election played in court for the jury deciding how much to award the women. The judge has already ruled that Giuliani is liable. Now it's just a question of how much he will pay. Freeman and Moss are asking a jury for at least $48 million. Their lawyers pointed to these comments from Giuliani outside court this week to prove that Giuliani still is not remorseful.


GIULIANI: Of course, I don't regret, I told the truth. They were engaged in changing votes.

Hello, everyone.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Giuliani first made false statements about Freeman and Moss after the 2020 election, including to a Georgia State Senate committee investigating alleged but unfounded voter fraud.

GIULIANI: There's a tape earlier in the day of Ruby Freeman and Shaye Freeman Moss and one of the gentleman, I mean, it's obvious to anyone who's a criminal investigator or prosecutor they are engaged in surreptitiously illegal activity again that day.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): The mother and daughter detailed in hours of emotional testimony on the stand how these false allegations up ended their lives. They received death threats, they've been forced into hiding, and they'd been turned down for jobs. They also recounted the agony for the January 6 committee.

RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I've lost my name, and I lost my reputation. I've lost my sense of security.

SHAYE MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: This affect my life and I'm in a major way, every way all because of lies.

GIULIANI: I feel like I'm defending the rights of all Americans.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): Giuliani has refused to back down from the lies even now years after his rampage that the 2020 election was rigged.

GIULIANI: Just enough to overturn any election. It's disgraceful what happened.

SCHNEIDER (voice-over): And Giuliani spread wildly false claims.

GIULIANO: G, just about the 700,000 votes that President Trump was ahead by two days ago that disappeared.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): And ultimately, Rudy Giuliani might not even be able to pay whatever this jury awards. You know, for months, Giuliani has been buried by legal bills that his own lawyers have said he has no money to pay. And of course, he's not only defending against this defamation case, he faces several other civil lawsuits. And of course, Jake, has been indicted by the Fulton County District Attorney for his alleged involvement in the fake elector scheme. So the jury deliberating for several hours today, they'll be back at it at 09:00 a.m. tomorrow to determine how many millions he might pay.

TAPPER: Could this trial impact any of the legal cases for Donald Trump?

SCHNEIDER: You know, most of Donald Trump's are criminal. Of course, he's facing two in federal court. He is though facing a defamation lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll, that set to go to trial in January. So there could be some influence based on how many maybe millions Rudy Giuliani gets in this case. But you know, the bigger thing here is that we're really seeing in this case against Giuliani how much of a human emotional toll these election lies have -- with the toll that it's taken on these election workers. And that does relate to the election subversion case that's in federal court, potentially trial early next year against Donald Trump. So we'll see.

TAPPER: Jessica Schneider, thank you so much.

Let's continue talking about this with Ken Frydman. He was a spokesman for Giuliani's 1993 mayoral campaign and was a consulting producer for CNN special documentary, "Giuliani, what happened to America's Mayor," which is a good question.

As CNN is Jessica Schneider just outlined, Ken, Giuliani was set to testify in his trial today. It didn't seem like a very wise course of action to me. Just this morning, his lawyers announced he would not be testifying. Listen to what Giuliani said about this just Monday.



GIULIANI: You heard one side. Stay tuned for my testimony. It'll be under oath.


TAPPER: What do you think happened? Why do you think he in the end did not testify?

FRYDMAN: I think that he came to his senses and his lawyer wouldn't let him get up until he agreed not to testify. All he could have done is dug himself a deeper hole. I mean, it's clear that he defame them. He's already been -- you know, that's been substantiated. And there's this question now of what the damages are. But as your -- as Jessica Schneider reported, who knows if he's going to be able to afford to pay those damages along with his legal fees and other civil actions.

TAPPER: And just a reminder for our viewers, it's not just Ruby and Shaye that say they didn't do anything improper. It is Republican election officials like Gabe Sterling and the Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. Trump administration Department of Justice officials looked into it, they didn't do anything wrong at all, period.

Ken, I want to play what Giuliani -- just one thing he said about Moss and Freeman back in 2020 before the Georgia State House. And then I want to back that up next to something that he said this week. Let's roll that tape.

FRYDMAN: All right.


GIULIANI: How can they say there's no fraud? Look at that woman, who could have taken those ballots out? Look at them scurrying around with the ballots. Nobody in the room hiding around. They look like this -- they look like they're passing out dope not just ballots.

But everything I said about them is true.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you regret what you did to Ruby Freeman?


GIULIANI: Of course, I don't regret. I told the truth. They were engaged in changing votes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's no proof that.

GIULIANI: Oh, you're damn right there is. Stay tuned.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: OK. To say nothing of this, just the blatant racism of saying that they were looking like they are passing around dope, which is just insane. That last clip of Giuliani just this week defending his actions, stay tuned --


TAPPER: -- there's going to be more proof. We've been staying tuned since November 2020. There's no proof and he's still standing by it.

FRYDMAN: You beat me to it. That was my punch line. Listen, he's also said that he has insurance on Trump and we're still waiting to hear and see that. He's defiant as is Trump. They sing from the same hymn book.

And they're contrarians and they go down swinging, convincing themselves they're right. And unfortunately, a lot of people agree with them in this country.

TAPPER: Ken, here's a very simple question that I've been asking people for a while now. What happened to him? What's wrong with him? Because obviously, look, there a lot of people that didn't like him when he was a district attorney, a lot of people who didn't like him when he was mayor, but this is just something else.

FRYDMAN: Well, you know, there are a lot of theories, I spent, you know, two years of reporting for the documentary and for years talking and writing about him. But listen, who knows, really, when it comes down to it, we've all heard different theories. I believe that he seduced --

TAPPER: But I'm curious in yours. I want to know yours. What's your theory? This is your opinion.


TAPPER: Just your opinion? What do you think happened to him?

FRYDMAN: I have more than an opinion. It's educated opinion. You know, I've been told things and I've seen things and I think he was seduced by Trump. You know, money being a very powerful aphrodisiac to him. He had a very expensive marriage and a more expensive divorce.

And it created a mania in him and a desperate need to remain relevant and have access to the presidency and to sell the office around the world and make, you know, millions and millions of dollars, which he apparently no longer has. So it's a combination of -- a combination of variables that contributed to his accelerated personality change, almost exponentially different than he was when I knew him. He was always intense, always focused and committed, but then he was very competent. He was a very effective first term mayor. I wouldn't -- I can't see him running anything anymore, frankly, not, you know --


FRYDMAN: -- particularly not the city of New York. TAPPER: It's pathetic. Ken Frydman, thank you so much. Appreciate your time.

FRYDMAN: You're welcome.

TAPPER: Coming up next, Kevin McCarthy, former speaker current congressman, soon to be former congressman McCarthy, he's down to his final hours in Congress. Ahead his moment today on the House floor. Plus, what McCarthy said about CNN's Manu Raju after all those years of Manu chasing him down in the hall, stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Politics Lead, parting words today from ousted Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy on the floor as he leaves Congress.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Do not be fearful if you believe your philosophy brings people more freedom. Do not be fearful that you could lose your job over it. Do it anyways. I would do it all again.


TAPPER: Yes, do not be fearful, words of courage from Kevin McCarthy, the Winston Churchill of our time. Let's bring in Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. Manu Congress is surprise, surprise leaving town for the holiday week -- holiday break with a major to-do list left here in Washington.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right. The House is gone until after the Christmas holiday and then into the New Year. The Senate will come back on Monday in a last ditch effort to try to get a deal on immigration to deal with a crisis at the southern border with Mexico potentially that could unlock aid to Ukraine and Israel. But many, many hurdles remain. And also ample frustration of the amount of legislation left on the desk unable to get resolved as the house left town and members are making clear, they're not happy about it.


REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): It's on the individual members, because they've -- they're gutless. And they won't stand up.

RAJU: But when you look back at this Congress, has this been a productive Congress?

BURCHETT: No. I've been here five years and the biggest surprise, everybody says what's your biggest surprise up here, and I was not surprised, no.

RAJU: What do you think of the fact you guys are leaving town without addressing Ukraine? Is that an abdication of our responsibility? REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): So my greatest disappointment is that we put these extension of spying authorities on to our defense department authorization bill. I don't believe that should have happened. I've expressed my disappointment to the speaker and to other leaders about that, and I hope we do better in the New Year.


RAJU: And that last comment from Congressman Matt Gaetz, who of course led the ouster of Kevin McCarthy and making clear his frustration with the current speaker, Mike Johnson, over some of the deals he cut to avoid some of the issues connected -- add to his list if you weren't able to cut those deals, but as you can see frustration from his hard right as well.

TAPPER: Manu, I want to play some sound from Kevin McCarthy not his Churchillian address from the Florida house but something he said earlier this week on Meghan McCain's podcast about who he thinks is the most fair Capitol Hill reporter. Take a listen.



MCCARTHY: Manu with CNN. I was frustrated with him when I was minority leader, it was always Trump. But you know what, as Speaker, he was tough on me but he was fair.


TAPPER: OK, first of all, congratulations, you were tough but fair.

RAJU: Thanks.

TAPPER: Even if he has not yet learned how to pronounce your name after 20 years. It's Manu. But Manu, we at The Lead just had to put together a little montage of some of your run-ins with Kevin McCarthy over the years. Take a look.


RAJU: He said he was in pain that you hit him so hard.

MCCARTHY: Oh, come on now.

Why don't you ask the other questions? Why don't you ask --

RAJU: I do ask --

MCCARTHY: No, you don't -- you never want --

RAJU: I'm curious why you changed your position?

MCCARTHY: I never changed my position.

RAJU: Will you acknowledge that Joe Biden won the election and that he is president-elect?

Would you step aside as speaker?

MCCARTHY: Is that the -- is that what the White House asked you to ask?



MCCARTHY: Did the White House send you a memo today?

I can always count on you for the most inappropriate question. He does this every time. You asked me the same question the same time in the same place. So I answered your question. It's nice to have you here.


TAPPER: I would take that as a little parting gift, if you will, Manu. You did a great job covering that character. We appreciate you.

RAJU: Thanks. Thanks Jake. It was an eventful few years. But, you know, as you know, the motivation is always to get new information, which I try to do every day.

TAPPER: You did a great job. Don't let his praise of you fool, fool anybody. You did a great job.

RAJU: Thanks Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up, reaction to the conspiracy theories pushed by GOP presidential candidates about January 6th from someone who was at the Capitol that day and was injured in the attack. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Politics Lead with just over a month until the Iowa caucuses, Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is embracing a rather bizarre campaign strategy. He's continuing to push, disproven, unfactual conspiracy theories such as, for example, the January 6th was a, quote, inside job. Watch his exchange with my friend and colleague Abby Phillip, at a CNN town hall last night.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The reality is, we know that there were federal law enforcement agents in that field. We don't know how many. I think it's shameful --


RAMASWAMY: If I may finish just answering here, because this is really important, Abby.

PHILLIP: Well, let me just -- I'm going to -- I'm going to go ahead and interrupt you here, because you're saying that there were --

RAMASWAMY: Because I know the establishment doesn't approve of this message. I know this.

PHILLIP: You're saying that there were federal agents.

RAMASWAMY: But we should be able to talk about this.

PHILLIP: You're saying that there were federal agents in the crowd.

RAMASWAMY: This is important to talk about. This is important.

PHILLIP: You are saying there were federal agents in the crowd on January 6th.


PHILLIP: There is no evidence that there were federal agents in the crowd on January 6th. Where is evidence that the government had a plot, an inside job to inspire, to foment violence on January 6th? Where is the evidence of that?

RAMASWAMY: So, let's do this. I'm going to tell you what an inside job is.

With due respect, I'm not going to let you put words in my mouth. I'm going to put my words in my mouth. And I'm going to tell you what I mean by that. Entrapment.

PHILLIP: Where is the evidence that the government was involved in planning or executing January 6th?

RAMASWAMY: Entrapment.

Why did they suppress footage of now what's been released, 200 hours of footage, of shooting rubber bullets into that crowd, shooting tear gas into that crowd? You didn't see that before. You saw what the response was to that.

Now you see footage coming out of actually rolling out the red carpet for Capitol Police allowing people in right through the front door.

PHILLIP: Mr. Ramaswamy, again, the vast --

RAMASWAMY: The government cherry-picked 12 hours of footage, when there was 200 hours of footage. The cherry-picking was the government, not me. Release the whole thing.


TAPPER: It's exhausting. Let's bring in former U.S. Capitol Police Sergeant Aquilino Gonell, he was one of the many brave officers who defended the Capitol on January 6th, he's now the author of a new book. It's called "American shield: The Immigrant Sergeant Who Defended Democracy." And we should note also Sergeant Gonell that because of what happened that day, you had to retire because you were so wounded that day.

AQUILINO GONELL, FORMER CAPITOL POLICE SERGEANT: Yes, sir. Thanks for having me, Jake. And yes, I had sustained multiple injuries on that day, some of them physical, some of them mentally and some of the moral injury as well, just like Mr. Ramaswamy is saying that there were federal agents among the crowd. Yes, the police officer were trying to defend the people inside those were the agents that perhaps he referring to.

TAPPER: When you hear this lunacy that like the Feds were, you know, that was all entrapment. I mean, I don't even know what to say. But when you hear this as somebody who was there that day, who was hurt that they physically and emotionally, psychologically, what goes through your brain when you see this character running around spreading these lies?

GONELL: It is a character but you had to take it with a grain of salt. I mean, this is coming from a person who has not done anything selflessly, to protect anyone but himself, just like the former president, I do cover this some of these things in my book, "American Shield."

TAPPER: Right.

GONELL: In terms of the type of injuries that I sustained, and what I did throughout the day, throughout the fighting to protect everybody inside the Capitol. It wasn't just because I favor one party or the other. We're just simply doing my job as a somebody who was keeping his off -- oath and protecting everybody inside, that great job in my opinion. That is what is said.

TAPPER: Yes. And we should note you right in the book. At age 76, Trump is allowed to go after his old job while my career was destroyed 42 because of him. He's the front runner for the Republican nomination. What do you think about that?

GONELL: And this is coming from the party that says law and order matters --

TAPPER: Right. Blue Lives Matter.

GONELL: That our law matters to them, and yet every single time that they have the opportunity to support the police officer like myself and my colleagues, they choose all the ways to support the former president. So whenever they say those things, I don't believe it anymore in that -- and for publicly they say all these things but behind closed door, they shown otherwise.


TAPPER: So there have been -- there has been justice for some of the people who stormed the Capitol that day, hundreds of sentences and plea deals and the like. But not everybody in the crowd who has even been identified. And Congressman Barry Loudermilk said on a right wing channel the other day, that one of the reasons why Republicans are currently going through the footage, the remaining footage that hasn't been released, and blurring the faces is because they don't want the folks from, quote unquote, sedition hunters to figure out who the unidentified criminals are, what goes through your brain when you hear that?

GONELL: It's amazing, again, coming from the party that claimed to be in the side the rule of law. In the same sentence, last week, the new Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson said, we are the party of law and order. We want transparency. We want the American people to see the transparency. And then the same sentence, he's go, we need to blur out the faces of these people.

I covered some of these things in my book, "American Shield." The book is not just about January 6th, it's about my whole life, in terms of the sacrifices and the things I've done for our country. The many sacrifices, you know, from the time I arrived here in United States, the simulations, I had the multiple layers and things like that kind of like the obstacles and diversity that I overcome just --

TAPPER: Yes. You're immigrated from the Dominican Republic when you were 12.

GONELL: And the absurdity that happens is that I wasn't born here in this country. And yet here I am defending the country from the same mount, native born citizens attacking the Capitol, attacking our democracy. In a lot of us, immigrants, along with many born citizens were defending the Capitol, the police officers. So and yet, they turn around sometimes and tell us, the immigrants, that we are the one invading the country.

The last time I check, we were defending the Capitol. Many of us were not born here. And as a result, they tell us that we were the wrong because they defend the -- they normally defend the rioters. I cover these in the book extensively. You don't have our back if you don't support -- if you don't support accountability and demonize us for what we did on that day.

TAPPER: Do you ever feel like you took your oath of office or your oath to the -- to protect the capitol that you're inspired to do when you were a kid and you went on a visit to the Capitol, you write a bit on the book very moving, like, do you ever feel like you took your oath more seriously than some of these lawmakers take theirs?

GONELL: Of course I did. I mean, I was suspecting that they would after they were themselves were the target of the mob. I mean, talk about the president at that time, send him off to kill them. And then they turn around and support him again to run for president. Meanwhile, they telling us that we are the bad guys because these are patriots, these are hostages, these are political prisoners.

If that -- those are -- if there are those things then who we are -- who are we?


GONELL: Are we the captor, the sicario, the sequesters?

TAPPER: No. You're the patriot.

GONELL: You know so it creates a moral injury all together. But I'll let you guys read my book.


GONELL: It's a great book about sacrifices inspiration and --

TAPPER: Look at this picture of you. So let's get a close up of that.

GONELL: A young buck me.

TAPPER: Yes, look at you. How old are you in this picture, 18?

GONELL: Twenty-one.

TAPPER: Twenty-one years old.

GONELL: I joined the military at 21 years old.

TAPPER: Look at you. Look at this little baby. Sergeant Gonell's new book "American Shield: The Immigrant Sergeant Who Defended Democracy" is out now in both English and Spanish, in Espanol. Thank you so much. Best of luck. Great Christmas gift for anybody out there looking for something, Felice Navidad.


Coming up, the alleged mass shooting according to court records planned by a 13-year-old. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our Law and Justice Lead, we are getting a look at court documents today that reveal how police in Canton, Ohio managed to thwart a potential mass shooting at a synagogue back in September of this year. The suspect just 13 years old, barely even a teenager. In those documents, police alleged the teen created, quote, a detailed plan to complete a mass shooting at the Temple Israel. CNN's Brynn Gingras joins us now live. Brynn, how did law enforcement uncover this alleged plot?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, Canton, Ohio law enforcement but all the way up to the FBI. We've actually learned that this chatter was online on the social platform Discord, and it was actually counter extremism analysts within Discord that came across it and then alerted the FBI, which then of course sparked an investigation.

And we've learned actually from the Stark County Ohio Sheriff's Department that when the FBI went to visit this 13-year-old, they discussed their findings which included a map and detailed plans of wanting to burn and shoot up a local synagogue there in Canton, Ohio. And get this also at just 13 years old, this person also told police that he was part of multiple anti-Semitic and political groups on Discord. Now this certainly sparked what was called a significant public alarm. The Synagogue of course had to be notified as well as the student's school district. And as a result this teen was arrested and charged with two misdemeanors inducing panic and disorderly conduct, Jake.

TAPPER: What happened is next to this 13-year-old?


GINGRAS: Yes, so this is going to continue on through juvenile court. Now it's important to keep in mind this happened in September prior to the October 7th attack. However, we know of course, there's been anti- Semitic incidents on the rise before and now surging after this war broke out and certainly not only anti-Semitic but also incidents targeting Muslims and Arabs.

But for this particular incident, the ADL did response and I want to get to it. It says for young people like this suspect, we hope this can be a teachable moment hate and threats on social media, as in real life cannot and will not be tolerated. And for this particular incident, this teen is going to go before a judge next week for trial. So it'll be that judge makes a decision on his penalty. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Brynn Gingras, shocking story. Thanks so much.

Coming up, new reporting from CNN's Clarissa Ward after her courageous visit to southern Gaza, the first Western media journalist to do so without the escort of the Israeli military or fear of Hamas. More of what she saw as strikes hit while she was there. That's next in The Situation Room.