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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Pressure Mounts For Israel To Shift Strategy In Gaza; Appeals Court Rejects Attempt By Mark Meadows To Move Georgia Election Case To Federal Court; Georgia Election Workers Sue Rudy Giuliani Again Asking Judge To Block Him From Ever Lying About Them; Ukraine Facing Grim Challenges As The Fight Against Russia And Aid From Western Allies Stall; Lt. Ridge Alkonis Now In U.S. Prison After Release From Japanese Jail; ADL: 400 False Threats Called Into Jewish Facilities This Weekend; New Class Action Discrimination Lawsuit Against Navy Federal Credit Union After CNN Investigation. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired December 18, 2023 - 16:00   ET



KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: And they said in this filing, it must stop.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: And, Katelyn, quickly, he's broke, right? Like all of these legal matters have really led him to financial ruin.

POLANTZ: He says he's broke, but he does have some assets. And so, what's happening is there is -- going to be a hot pursuit in court to try and collect what they can as soon as they can.

SANCHEZ: Katelyn Polantz, thank you so much for the reporting.



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: The White House pushing Israel to adjust rules of engagement after the idea of accidentally killing three hostages.

THE LEAD starts right now.

New, gripping accounts from hostages formerly held by Hamas. Their horror while in captivity, including dodging airstrikes from Israeli forces.

Plus, Jews in America, targeted again. More than 200 faith bomb threats and swat columns, swatting calls in one weekend alone. What law enforcement sources are telling CNN about what's being done to track down those responsible.

And as Donald Trump claims immigrants are, quote, poisoning the blood of America, CNN's KFILE is unearthing Trump's defense of a man convicted in election interference crimes once best known on Twitter for racism, antisemitism, homophobia and worse.


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

We start today with our world lead and top Biden administration officials publicly suggesting Israel needs to change its approach to fighting Hamas in Gaza, more than 10 weeks into this war. U.S. Secretary of Defense, Lloyd Austin, visited Tel Aviv earlier today where he met with both his counterparts and Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

During a press conference after this meeting, Secretary Austin said, they discussed ways to transition away from Israel's bombardment of Hamas in Gaza to more surgical operations, to more specifically target members of Hamas without civilian casualties.

We heard of similar messages from the national security spokesman, John Kirby early today, suggesting Israel needs to change its rules of engagement after its soldier shot and killed three hostages in Gaza on Friday. Israeli officials are releasing more details about the incident that killed Yotam Haim, Samer Talalka and Alon Shimriz. The IDF says these photos show how those three hostages were using leftover food to write messages on sheets. The words red help, three hostages in Hebrew.

Israeli officials admit the three hostages were killed while waving a clap back a sign of surrender. The IDF says it's investigating what happened with the chief of staff of the Israeli army admonished IDF soldiers over the weekend.


HERZI HALEVI, CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ISRAELI ARMY (through translator): Three people came out, they took into account that they were taking a risk in approaching IDF soldiers. To reduce the risk, they really thought they took their shirts off, so that no one would think they have explosives.

They held a white cloth on a stick to identify themselves. They approach talking in Hebrew, they shouted, help.

What if it is two guys with a white flag who come out to surrender, do we shoot at them? Absolutely not, absolutely not.


TAPPER: Israeli forces also say they've discovered the largest Hamas tunnel to date, running two and a half miles under Gaza, wide enough to drive a car through.

Israel claims Hamas used a tunnel to move troops and as a launching point for attacks. The IDF now plans to destroy the tunnel.

As the world has been calling for the IDF to tone down its campaign in Gaza, Netanyahu is also facing increasing pressure from the families of hostages inside Israel.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond starts off our coverage today from Tel Aviv.



JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The pleas are only growing more desperate.

RAZ BEN AMI, FORMER ISRAELI HOSTAGE (through translator): I beg the cabinet, we warn that the fighting will likely harm hostages. Unfortunately, I was right.

DIAMOND: Recently freed hostages in the families of those still captive are ramping up the pressure on the Israeli government to reach a deal for their freedom. After Israeli soldiers mistakenly shot and killed three Israeli hostages in Gaza. Their desperate pleas smeared onto a white sheet on the building adjacent to where they were killed. Help, three hostages read the Hebrew letters, stained with red sauce.

Former hostages, like Doron Katz-Asher, who was shot as she was whisked into Gaza, now beginning to share their stories of captivity.

DORON KATZ-ASHER, FORMER ISRAELI HOSTAGES (through translator): The first day was foggy, I lost a lot of blood. They stitch my wounds on the sofa with girls next to me. It's easy to understand that it was without anesthesia.

DIAMOND: In an interview on Israeli TV, she revealed that she and her two daughters spent part of their captivity not in a tunnel but hidden in a hospital.

KATZ-ASHER (through translator): We were in a 12-meter room, ten people, no beds, only a sink.


And to go to the toilet, we have to knock on a door, they can open after five minutes, or after an hour and a half. Small girls couldn't hold it.

DIAMOND: Cramped conditions, but also unending fear.

KATZ-ASHER (through translator): Fear -- fear that because my girls were crying, or making noise, they would get an order from above, be taken from me, fear, always fear.

DIAMOND: For 49 days, Katz-Asher shielded her daughters from that fear until the moment they were handed to the Red Cross on the streets of Gaza where hundreds of people crowded their vehicle.

KATZ-ASHER (through translator): It was the first time after a month and a half that Raz said, mom, I'm scared.

DIAMOND: Multiple former hostages also describe the tears of living under Israeli bombardment in Gaza. OFIR ENGEL, FORMER ISRAELI HOSTAGE (through translator): There was

some bombardment on the adjacent house, it sounded like it was going to hit us. One of the guards was notified that his family members were dead. So, you tell yourself, I hope he doesn't turn against us.

DIAMOND: For others, that fear and uncertainty continues, including for Sharon Alony-Cunio, whose husband is still captive.

SHARON ALONY-CUNIO, FORMER ISRAELI HOSTAGE (through translator): Every minute we're waiting is like a Russian roulette. Will they lived through the day or not?

DIAMOND: She and her daughter are also still living with the trauma of their captivity.

ALONY-CUNIO (through translator): We all have so many triggers, every little noise, every door slammed, every airplane flying. The girls get charged and cling on to me, tantrums because they had to be so quiet for 52-day, closed up in a room, life has changed, this is not life.

DIAMOND: Nearly every single former hostage spoke of feeling abandoned by their government while in captivity, now channeling that feeling into action.

ALONY-CUNIO: I think everyone needs to understand that not enough is being done in order to free the hostages from the Gaza Strip, they need to come back, now. You have to do everything you can to bring them back, now.


DIAMOND (on camera): And Hamas is also trying to ramp up the pressure on the Israeli government, tonight, releasing yet another propaganda video, this one featuring three elderly Israeli hostages including 79- year-old, Chaim Peri, who pleads with the Israeli government to secure the unconditional surrender. Tonight, the Israel Defense Forces spokesman, Daniel Hagari, is calling this video a criminal terror video, and he said we are doing everything in order to return you safely -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jeremy Diamond, thank you so much.

And joining me now is Gilad Korngold. His daughter in law, Adi, and his two grandchildren, 8-year-old Nave and 3-year-old Yahel, were all released last month as part of that prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel. His son Tal Shoham is still being held hostage by Hamas.

Gilad, how is the family holding up knowing that Tal is still held hostage somewhere?

GILAD KORNGOLD, SON HELD HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: The whole family, I mean, my daughter-in-law, grandsons came back from Gaza, from a long time there, in bad conditions mentally, physically. So, fair enough, but there was bad mentally condition my three years old granddaughter, she started to be living better, but for sure, they need a father to be -- to be recovered. It will take a long time and the main power this family is Tal and he is really missing them to be recovery, I'm not sure in full, but maybe a normal life.

TAPPER: Yeah, we're looking at pictures of your beautiful family. You said Yahel is doing better. How is Nave and how is Adi?

KORNGOLD: Okay. So, Nave, when he was captured from the safe house, they took him from the window. So, Nave saw everything in kibbutz in Be'eri, I mean, everything. So, because he is eight years old, he understands that it's a huge problem to forget these things from his health. He's very sad but they're slowly, slowly authorities and Israel are taking care of them.

I hope everything will be okay. But again, without the father, I believe that there's no full recovery.


TAPPER: Have they told you any details about their time in captivity? Where they were kept? How they were treated?

KORNGOLD: Well, how they were treated I didn't talk, I didn't ask, okay? Probably they talk to somebody else in Israel, but not to me, not to us. Yes, it was October 7th, they came to visit the mother and father. Once a month, they live in the north of Israel, north of the country, they came once a month to our area. I live also in kibbutz near Be'eri, but far from the border.

So, the first night they sleep in Be'eri, and then the second night, they were supposed to come to my house with my family, to join the wonderful day. But this terrible day, they stayed in the kibbutz and everything happened, 6:00, like everybody knows, 6:20, in the same about 10:30 in the morning, my son surround and open the window, they asked him how many people there is any said, there are seven people, women and children, and fathers, he was murdered the first day.

My son was taken from the safe room first, since then, they didn't saw him. We know that they had taken alive, okay, full -- with clothes, shoes. He was not hurt. And they're trying to -- like a truck, and drive to Gaza, this is the last time that we heard from him but I insist that he was taken alive.

I mean, I hope it's okay, but since than we have no signs of life from. The other family was taken apart -- he was not beaten, they take the children separate, a motherly gambling, give me my children back. They were taken to the Gaza Strip with her mother, there was -- her aunt and daughter.

Six family members in a jeep, they were taken to Gaza.


KORNGOLD: All this time together, they were in the house and not in the tunnel. This is what I know and I can talk to you.

TAPPER: Gilad Korngold, thank you so much for your time. We are keeping Tal and your entire family in our thoughts and praying for them to get back safely. KORNGOLD: Thank you very much.

TAPPER: Coming up, Mark Meadows denied. The ruling just in after the former Trump White House chief of staff try to challenge a criminal case against him.

Plus, breaking news, Rudy Giuliani facing yet another lawsuit after the $150 million defamation verdict against him just days ago.

Stay with us.



TAPPER (on camera): And we're back with our law and justice lead.

An appeals court has rejected the attempt of former chief of staff, Mark Meadows, to move his Georgia election subversion case to federal court. The three judge panel agreed with the district court ruling that Meadows did not demonstrate that his alleged attempts to try to overturn the election results in Georgia were related in any way to his official duties as chief of staff for the Trump White House.

Meadows can appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court or ask the appeals court of Georgia to look at the case again.

Also, just into the lead, two election workers who just won a nearly $150 million verdict against Rudy Giuliani for defamation are now suing Rudy Giuliani once again.

Let's get straight to CNN's Katelyn Polantz.

Katelyn, what are Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss asking for in this lawsuit?

POLANTZ: Jake, they want a court order to have Rudy Giuliani stop telling lies about them. So, that trial that ended on Friday with this massive $150 million verdict from the jury, that was about statements that Rudy Giuliani was making about Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman and their work as Georgia election workers in the days after the 2020 election, 2021.

So, that was that period of time. But during the course of the trial, he walked outside of court on the very first day and doubled down. And at the end of the week, even after the verdict, he continued to say, that he had evidence and everything he wanted to say about them was true. That was just last week.

And so, that's why they're going back to court and suing him again. This is what they write in their lawsuit. Defendant Giuliani continues to spread the very same lies for which he has already been held liable. Defendant Giuliani statements coupled with his refusal to agree to refrain from continuing to make statements made clear that he intends to persist and his campaign of targeted defamation and harassment. It must stop. And they're trying to do that by going to court and Ruby Freeman and

Shaye Moss, their attorneys, are saying to the judge, please help us get him to knock it off, no more lies, he should not be able to continue going out there and keep repeating these things about Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.

TAPPER: And correct me if I'm wrong, but he and his lawyer already admitted that they had defamed Ruby and Shaye previously, right?

POLANTZ: That's right. They are even saying right now that they have agreed that, yes, the final judgment of the court is that he intentionally, maliciously made these statements about them. But even here with this new lawsuit, we're seeing that Moss and Freeman's attorneys went to him and said, will you stop saying this?


And he said, no. And so, that's why they're filing it. They put that in their filing today.

TAPPER: Something wrong with that guy.

Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much.

The driver of a sedan that struck an SUV in President Biden's motorcade last night has been charged with driving under the influence of alcohol according to authorities in Wilmington, Delaware.

You can see on this video, the moment that President Biden reacts to the sound of the impact before he's escorted away by U.S. Secret Service. The Bidens were attending a holiday happy hour at the president's campaign headquarters, shortly before the incident. There were no injuries thankfully, and the Secret Service believes the crash was an accident.

CNN is on the ground in Ukraine, as forces there describe new tactics of war, Russians high on drugs fighting war with gas. The landscape that change combat nearly two weeks into the war.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our world right now, time is running out for the White House and the Senate negotiators who are struggling to reach a U.S. border security deal that would also unlock billions of dollars worth of military aid desperately needed by Ukraine. It follows another financial setback after Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban vetoed a European Union aid package worth more than $50 billion that was set to go to Ukraine, that was Friday.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh has this report now on how the lack of aid is already being felt on the front lines as Ukrainians trying to beat back the Russian invasion. A warning: some of the footage we're about to show you is graphic.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This was where the billions were meant to spell a breakthrough. But with the counteroffensives which supposed to have kicked Russia to the sea this summer, now, now it is mud, death, deadlock, and the remnants of American help vanishing.

It's notably different mood here, dark frankly. In the summer, they were buoyed, feeling they had the world at their back moving forward. Now it is slow, dangerous, and there is a sense of despair to be honest. Forty Russian drones sought one trench here in a day. Down here, this tiny basement, the rule is do not get seen.

The other side are not so lucky, to Russians were spotted moving a load. They guide in a mortar strike, there are just so many Russians now.

Usually more meat means more mints, the commander says, but sometimes their machine struggles to handle it. And sometimes they have success.

Batteries die faster in the cold, and Russian jamming seems to damage them, too.

This is Orikhiv, whose streets reeked of crushed lives, and how much horror Moscow is willing to bring to be seen to win.

It's a matter of months since we were here in the summer, how much more damage has been done?

If you stop thinking about Ukraine, be sure Putin hasn't.

That command, they watch a wasteland, tree lines now bare, the dead, the injured, it's unclear if Russia treats them differently. Another Ukrainian drone aims for a foxhole. What they've struggled with are the waves of Russian assault.

Dozens of prisoners, well-trained, and equipped, backed by armor, they say are given a mix of drugs.

They show us this graphic video of a wounded Russian, his leg severed, seeming high enough to smile through his fatal injuries. Still, they claim they've held hard won ground, but at a huge cost.

As we say in the Army, he says, the counteroffensive was smooth on paper but we forgot about the ditches.

Colossal changes are taking place. They started making their own attack drones and outnumber ours. But they use them badly like a kid's toy.

IHOR, 15TH NATIONAL GUARD (translated): Excuse me, what's happening?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Heavy injuries. IHOR: From what?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Dexter, Dexter, I'm Bremya, do you copy?

WALSH: They say a drone has hit a trench, and blown up by gas heater.

IHOR: Begin the evacuation, begin the evacuation! Evacuate with a small vehicle. Did you move already?


IHOR: Why not? Why not?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No transport, no transport.

WALSH: The silence, the wait for news, agony.


IHOR: Copy, is he dead?


IHOR: It's over, evacuate him, no rush. We can't help him already.

WALSH: Does it feel like the casualties are getting worse?

Every casualty makes a difference, he says, it affects everyone's morale, it's very painful for me.

Sergei, age 48, was one of four Ukrainians to die in that area that day, about 50 that week. They haven't had to really talk about losing in this war, but this is what it looks like.

It's not just drones. This Russian video seems to show a new threat, gas, caustic, flammable, the Ukrainians have had nine incidents on this front killing one.

Here are two survivors.

UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): At first I saw smoke, we ran out from the trench and the gas suddenly caught fire. The trench was in flames. This gas burns, blinds you, you can't breathe, shoots down your throat immediately. We didn't even have a second.


UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): You inhale it twice, then you fail to breathe.

WALSH: Medical reports confirm that poisoning and Ukrainian official told CNN a form of CS gas was being used.

And there were injuries inside your mouth, where?

UKRAINIAN SOLDIER (through translator): On my cheeks, everywhere, inside the mouth. My face is swollen and covered and red marks.

WALSH: I an ugly, savage world even on a TV screen. Where there seems little Moscow won't go but too much the West won't.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Orikhiv, Ukraine.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Nick Paton Walsh in Orikhiv, Ukraine, for that report.

Coming up, a U.S. Navy officer, Lt. Ridge Alkonis, is back on American soil. He's currently locked up at a notorious prison in California after hundreds of days behind bars in Japan, for a deadly accidental car crash. It's a story we followed four years here on THE LEAD.

And his wife is going to join me next for her first interview since his return to the United States to give us an update on the case.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, U.S. navy lieutenant, Ridge Alkonis, is finally back in the United States after spending 507 days in a Japanese prison for killing a woman and her son in law after losing consciousness while driving down from a visit to Mount Fuji with his wife and children. Ridge Alkonis at the time was so out of it, the screams of his daughter or the collusion did not rouse him.

Alkonis, encouraged by his lawyers to cooperate, pleaded guilty and paid the victim's family $1.6 million. Lt. Alkonis is now back on U.S. soil but he's not home with his wife and three kids. He is right now in a U.S. federal prison under the control of the federal bureau of prisons. It's up to the Justice Department's Parole Commission to come together and try to decide what a comparable punishment in the U.S. would have been.

This is the case THE LEAD has been following since the beginning.

And Lieutenant Alkonis's wife, Brittany Alkonis, joins me now with her first interview since Ridge was transferred back into the U.S.

Brittany, first of all, first and foremost, you've seen him now.

How is Ridge? How are you and the kids?

BRITTANY ALKONIS, WIFE OF U.S. NAVY LIEUTENATN TRANSFERRED BY JAPANESE TO U.S. CUSTODY: I would say all things considered, he's doing pretty well, seeing the kids hugged him for the first time, it's incredible but, he's still in prison, he's still not home. They still ask me every day if he's going to be home for Christmas, and it is still a question I can't answer. TAPPER: And tell me about the visit if you can. I know there was some

misunderstanding early on. The prison said that they would not be able to have visitors. Then the warden got involved and said that's not true, and allowed you and kids to visit.

Tell me what you can about the visit. It's great that you got to hug him. It's great that the kids got to hug him. Is it -- is it -- I mean, he's still in prison, obviously, which is not where you don't want him to be, yet you're able to visit him. He is in the United States.

How -- how are you all doing?

ALKONIS: You know, we're learning a new prison system. Before it was four visits, four, five visits a month, half an hour, behind glass, supervise with guards, and with interpreters running down our conversations.

And now it's more in a group setting, a room, we don't have people listening. My kids love that. They're much more comfortable. Like I said, they got to hug him, there was confusion immediately. We were told would be up to 90 days to get background checks approved.

But, you know, the prison is doing what they can. And they worked really hard to get us in the next day. We're able to visit him now.

It's not easy. We used to be 20 minutes away from the prison and now I can expect to drive, you know, for four hours in Los Angeles traffic. And so, it's not easy. But parts of it are better, I guess. Plus, we have family nearby and so, that's been a big help.

TAPPER: We were told that Congressman Nick LaLota tried to see your husband this weekend. He was denied access. Do you know anything about that?

ALKONIS: Yeah, I was there. He had approval from the warden to visit with Ridge. He flew all the way from New York to see him, and when he tried to. He was told that DOJ and D.C. had denied the requests.

Congressman Levin, he was supposed to visit Ridge tomorrow. He was told that his request was denied. However, right before I got on with you, I was told that he should be able to see Ridge tomorrow. So, hopefully, that's just another problem being solved.

TAPPER: Just to remind people, this was a horrible accident, but it was an accident. This was -- he wasn't drinking, he wasn't on drugs, it was a horrible accident where he lost consciousness.

He pleaded guilty and paid restitutions to the family in Japan. And it was -- it was a surprise that the Japanese court sentenced him to serve one day, let alone 507.

ALKONIS: Uh-huh.

TAPPER: When do you expect the parole commission to weigh in?

ALKONIS: I have no idea. Honestly, I don't think it has anything to do with Ridge. I think there's other motivations in play.

There's a couple of ways that Ridge could be home for Christmas. One is through the parole commission. If they took their normal steps, it could take months.


However, it could take days.

The factual and legal issues in this case are all very simple. Our lawyers have provided the DOJ with absolutely everything they need. And so, like I said, if we want the normal steps through DOJ, he could be home for Christmas.

The other option, Ridge came home through the Council of Europe Treaty. In line with the treaty, the president retains his right to commutation or pardon. And he could commute Ridge's sentence with, you know, the stroke of a pen and Ridge could be home.

He could've done it days ago. He could do it today. He could do it tomorrow. But what --


ALKONIS: -- what the president will do, what DOJ will do, I have no idea.

TAPPER: I actually asked about that, and I don't -- I would defer to you, but I was told that the president doesn't have the power to pardon or commute sentences in this situation, the same way he does if it's a state sentence like in Georgia, Pennsylvania, were to sentence.

I hope you're right and then the president can act. But, just FYI, I was told by the Department of Justice, or maybe with -- by the White House that that's not the case.

ALKONIS: I mean, there's been a lot of lawyers going back and forth, and I've yet to find a lawyer without a political agenda that agrees that the president does not have the power. I've read the Council of Europe Treaty, I am not a lawyer.

TAPPER: Right.

ALKONIS: However, even I can read the line that specifically states that the president retains commutation power.

TAPPER: Okay, all right. You know much more about it than I do.

We know Vice President Harris and Jake Sullivan were told they were personally involved in getting him released from Japan to the U.S. When you found out that he was being released from Japan, but to federal prison and not to freedom, was that shocking? Is that what you expected? What went through your mind?

ALKONIS: The -- you know, the process had been outlined to me very well, I knew that would be the initial step. However, there was never a strict guideline as to how long he would be in prison. I am shocked that he remains there today. I am shocked that he could be there for months.

You know, one difference with U.S. prison is that Ridge can actually send me messages, he sent me one today, he said, I always knew that I may have to sacrifice my life in a time of war for my country. But I had no idea I would be forced to sacrifice my liberty in a time of peace.

And that's what's happening. I mean, every morning, my children wake up, they're paying the price of the U.S.-Japan alliance. He should not be in prison right now. He could be home.

If DOJ and if the president wanted him to be home, he would be home, and he could be home for Christmas.

TAPPER: Is there something worth --

ALKONIS: So, no, I mean --

TAPPER: Go ahead. I'm sorry.

ALKONIS: No, go ahead.

TAPPER: I was saying. It's not rambling it's I wonder if in a way it's because he has served his nation, is serving his nation still, is there something worse about the fact that he's being held in an American president for this horrible accident that on its face does not appear to be criminal. I mean, it's tragic, but it does not appear criminal act.

Is it something worse about him being imprisoned in the United States even though there are good things about it, you have more privacy when you visit, he's in the United States, on and on, he can message you. But is there something worsen away but the fact that he's in an American prison instead of a Japanese prison?

ALKONIS: It's absolutely worse. In Japan, you could read the human rights reports, there is no expectation to due process. In America, that's supposed to be different.

You k now, we knew that he would be treated unfairly there, the goal was once he got back to the U.S., he would be treated fairly. And everyone knows what we've been through, when I say everyone, I mean everyone in the government. Everyone we've been working with, they know what happened, like I said, there's nothing factually complicated about this case. There's nothing legally complicated about this case.

They know what's happening. They know why he's in prison, and it has nothing to do with them, and it has nothing to do with the accident. It's all to appease a foreign nation.

TAPPER: Brittany Alkonis, we're done covering the story, and we're not going to be done until he's out.

Thank you for talking to us. Keep talking to us. Keep coming -- keep coming on. I look forward to the interview with Ridge, by your side.

ALKONIS: Thank you so much. Thank you, Jake.


TAPPER: All right. We'll talk to you soon.

Coming up, just in, the new discrimination lawsuit filed after a CNN investigation into the largest credit union in the country.

Plus, the number of bomb threats called into synagogues in the United States in just a few days.


TAPPER: More in our -- in the rising antisemitism in the United States in our law and justice lead. More than 400 Jewish institutions across the U.S. received false threats over the weekend, according to the Anti-Defamation League. And the secure community network, that's a non-profit that tracks threats across the Jewish community.


They say that synagogues across U.S. receive more bomb threats in a single day than in all of last year combined.

Let's bring in CNN's Josh Campbell.

Josh, there's been an increase in these threats against the Jewish community, in the United States since October 7th. Right now none of the threats have been deemed credible.

Tell us specifically what these message were threatening?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Jake, I was talking to the threat watchers at ADL, who monitor these types of incidences, they told me all of these were emails that were received over 400 institutions associated with the Jewish community. Essentially, warning they were explosive devices within the institution that's obviously causing, you know, widespread chaos, resulting in law enforcement having to respond.

Now, these analysts believe that this was -- one person or a small group of people, all the messages were similar, there was a group name that was used that was similar in these messages. As you mentioned, none of them turned out to be credible, these were hoaxes, it certainly caused a lot of fear not to mention tying up countless law enforcement responding, Jake.

TAPPER: How difficult is it for law enforcement to investigate these kinds of threats and find out who's behind them?

CAMPBELL: So, technical analysis is key here. These messages are sent anonymously. And so, it's very difficult to track if the perpetrator is located overseas. That said, we've seen in recent months the FBI, and state and local law enforcement officers successful at finding these hoax people, perpetrators, including here in southern California.

Just last week, a juvenile was arrested. He was part of what authorities described as a swatting ring and that done through technical analysis, looking at these online servers, were some of these communications between group members took place, and then ultimately finding and holding accountable the perpetrator, Jake.

TAPPER: And how have Jewish institutions been forced to adapt to this increased threat level since October 7th?

CAMPBELL: Yeah, it's really despicable that they even have to do so. But we know that around synagogues, for example, there is increased security, as far as techniques and responding, security officials say that, you know, in the past few received a bomb threat it leads to a mass evacuation.

Now they're more circumspect, and you know, perhaps doing a cursory search in order to try to identify whether there's any type of device, obviously, you know, that you could see with your own eyes. They do eventually move people to safely but not the mass rush that we've seen in the past that's because a lot of these perpetrators are targeting institutions that stream their services online, Jake.

So, they presumably want to see the actual results, and, you know, their despicable actions, and then, lastly it's worth pointing out, Jake, that learning from threat watchers that they are now on the dark web as well, searching for these groups, finding and communicating with each other, sending that information to law enforcement.

TAPPER: All right. Josh Campbell in Los Angeles for us, thanks so much.

An update now to an investigation we told you about last week, a class action lawsuit alleging racial discrimination against the Navy Federal Credit Union, the largest credit union in the country.

CNN's Rene Marsh brought us the story last week and is with me now.

And, Rene, this lawsuit came after you reporting. Tells us about the legal fallout?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right. So, this is the largest credit union. They just got hit with this class action lawsuit. Three law firms filed this suit, including a civil rights attorney, Benjamin Crump's firm. They filed on Sunday, in federal court in Virginia. They are arguing in this lawsuit that Navy Federal Credit Union uses discriminatory practices against Black and Latino borrowers.

And this again, a direct result of CNN's investigation that found that this credit union had the widest disparity of many of the major lending institutions when it came to who they approved and denied for these conventional mortgage loans.

Now, within this lawsuit, they say that Navy Federal's claims of community support are meaningless, in the face of its actions, systemic discrimination, in housing in violation of federal laws. Those are the words within his lawsuit.

Navy Federal Credit Union, we reached out to them today in light of this, have not heard back from them yet, but when they reported the story last week, they did say that they are committed to fair lending practices. And just another footnote, coming out of D.C., Representative Waters now calling for any investigation by federal regulators, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Rene, stay on top of the story and keep bringing us the update. Important journalism from you. Appreciate it.

Coming up, the defense by Donald Trump revealed by CNN's KFILE team that shows him going to bat for a man once best known for being on Twitter pushing racist, and antisemitic nonsense.

Stay with us.



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

This hour, Texas Governor Greg Abbott, any moment now, he's expected to sign a controversial bill that would make it illegal for migrants to cross the border into Texas. Is this law necessary? I'll ask a Democrat in Congress who's district sits along the border.

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