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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Senate Scrambles On Border Deal As Migrant Crossings Surge; Rep. Joaquin Castro, (D-TX), Is Interviewed About Border, Immigration; Netanyahu Meets With Families Of Hostages Held In Gaza; Haley Slams Trump Ad Attacking Her: He's "Getting Nervous"; Haley Says Trump Is "Getting Nervous," Pointing To New Attack Ad; CDC Warns Of New, "Fastest-Growing" COVID-19 Variant; Judge Orders Release Of Names Related To Jeffrey Epstein Case; IOC Faces Pressure To Cancel Swimming Event In Doha. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired December 19, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: So how is this impeding migrant processing and surrounding border towns?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a bottleneck and it is impeding lawful trade and travel while illegal crossings continue. Let me show you the lay of the land here, Jake, because it'll give you an idea. That railway that you were talking about, this is the railway just over my shoulder, that is closed to lawful trade. And over here to my right, you see this other bridge, there's two bridges here in Eagle Pass, Texas, this is one of them. There's another one that is closed.
And you see that the -- this is the trade coming in from Mexico. You see the long lines? Well, there's more long lines, again, because of its closure. Now the Biden administration has decided to close several ports of entry and reassign those agents to process migrants. I want you to look over my shoulder because you'll see that there are 1000s of migrants here waiting to be transported for immigration processing.
I can tell you that from here, I can see women and children. At last check from sources on the ground and from the sheriff, about 5000 migrants are waiting here in Eagle Pass, Texas. Now in the last 24 hours along the U.S. southern border, about 12,600 migrants were apprehended. And just to give you a sense on December 8, I interviewed U.S. Border Patrol Chief Jason Owens, and he said that at that point in time 7,000 migrants had been apprehended within a 24 hour time period. So, that gives you a sense of just the overwhelming number of migrants that have crossed there who are waiting to be processed.
Now, you were talking about the bottleneck, Jake, when it comes to the number of migrants who are actually in custody. So when we talk about these custody numbers, that 23,000 number that you were referencing, that doesn't include all the people that you see behind me. These individuals have not been processed yet. And from talking to the border patrol chief, he told me, Jake, capacity is 10,000. That's how much they can actually hold. And right now they're holding 23,000 migrants.
TAPPER: Rosa, Texas's legislature and the Republican Governor Greg Abbott are certainly talked to taking this immigration matter into their own hands with a series of border bills. One of which makes crossing illegally into Texas is state crime. Some Democrats are calling this show me your papers bill. How are Texans reacting to the new law?
FLORES: Well, there's a lot of communities in this state who are in fear that this will lead to racial profiling. There are communities who are holding know your rights laws to make sure that brown people in this state know their rights whenever they're stopped by local police, because that's the thing. This new law allows local police to enforce this state law, which made it a state crime for anyone to cross the border illegally. But here's the thing, Jake, this law also says that anyone who is in the state illegally has an illegal presence is also in violation of this law. And that's the big question, how do police officers know what an illegal person looks like?
Now, some individuals who I've talked to here in the state of Texas say that they're going to start carrying their passports. And that's the case of Ramona Casa. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RAMONA CASA, ARISE ADELANTE: Make sure you have your passport and ID when you're driving when you are outside of the streets.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: Ramona said that that was the advice that she was giving everybody she knew who was Hispanic who was in fear in her community. Now I can tell you that the ACLU has already filed a lawsuit against SB4. And we just received a statement from Governor Greg Abbott, Jake, and he says that he's ready to take it to the Supreme Court. Jake.
TAPPER: All right, Rosa Flores in Eagle Pass, Texas. Thanks so much. Let's bring in Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas. He's part of at least 20 other Democratic lawmakers calling on U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland to stop Texas's new border law before it goes into effect in March.
Congressman, thanks for joining us. So your Democratic colleague Henry Cuellar is not on that list, and his district neighbor is yours. Yesterday on the show on The Lead, he told me that he believes the Texas border law is unconstitutional. But he wants stricter border policies anyway. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. HENRY CUELLAR (D-TX): Even I'm frustrated by the lack of activity or more work that can be done by the federal government. Why are we allowing so many people in when at the end of the day they're not supposed to be here, according to immigration law?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: It does seem like everyone's frustrated and it has been that way for a long time. Are progressives ready to make any concessions to Republicans to get some sort of a combination and border bill passed?
REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D-TX): Well, I think first, Jake, you're right. It's clear for the last dozen years or more people have been frustrated mostly with the fact that Congress has not been able to come together and do comprehensive immigration reform, which would help prevent a lot of the scenes that you see at the U.S. Mexico border. Now, I think a big problem that many folks have including myself is that we're absolutely willing to sit down and negotiate on these provisions. But you shouldn't be trading border restrictions or bad border policy for foreign aid. That is something that we've not seen before.
So, if there's going to be a negotiation on the border, which there should be, it should be policies related to the border for things like giving Dreamers and DACA recipients a path to legalization, overhauling our visa system. That has not been part of the conversation on the supplemental aid bill at all. And then when you look at what Governor Abbott is doing, that is a very dangerous racial profiling bill that really harkens back to the 1950s when you had something called Operation Wetback that resulted in 100s of 1000s, if not more than a million Mexican Americans who were citizens. They were American citizens who were deported to Mexico back then. And so, Governor Abbott is usurping federal power and has just signed into law a very dangerous bill.
TAPPER: So the border crisis is a big issue, obviously, especially coming up in the 2024 presidential race. Another Democratic Progressive, Congresswoman Delia Ramirez of Illinois, told CNN, that she can't defend the concessions that Democrats and President Biden might be willing to give Senate Republicans on immigration in order to get this foreign aid package bill. Sources tell CNN that some current proposed policy changes include turning back migrants at the U.S. Mexico border without a chance to declare asylum, expanding a fast track deportation procedure to include more undocumented immigrants, and raising the credible fear standard for asylum seekers. Are there -- are those provisions ones that you have an issue with?
CASTRO: Yes, absolutely. And most especially because, again, there's nothing in return, you're not getting any kind of visa overhaul, you're not getting more work permits, you're not getting legalization for Dreamer. All of the things that had been previously negotiated by Republicans and Democrats when it comes to immigration. And remember, as you know, Jake, these are long standing generational long policies that have existed in the United States regarding asylum. So I know that when people see visuals of a lot of people in the border, there is a very strong temptation to say, look, just do something, fix it, get it out of here.
But you got to remember, these are generational long laws about asylum and seeking refuge that get to the very character of the United States of America as a nation of immigrants.
TAPPER: Yes, I mean, I've been covering the attempt to pass immigration reform now for literally decades. And it does not seem as though there is enough give when it comes to the effort of House Republicans, especially historically, when it comes to immigration reform. And you keep noting that these concessions will not include anything in return, such as for the Dreamers or visa holders. What do you say to conservatives who say, look, your party controlled the House, the Senate and the White House in Biden's first two years as president and yes, some of the senators were -- are in the Democratic Party are, you know, moderate to conservative Democrats, but you couldn't pass something.
CASTRO: Well, even that was tough because I would tell them that there's something called the filibuster that requires 60 votes that made it very difficult to do that. We came close in 2013, 2014, when a bipartisan group passed a comprehensive bill in the Senate with about 68 votes and then a Republican speaker, Speaker Boehner refused to put it on the floor of the House for a vote. But also part of -- a big part of the reason that it's so tough to sincerely legislate on immigration, is because you've got the leader of the Republican Party who is parroting Nazi and Hitler in talking about how immigrants are poisoning the blood of the nation. That makes it hard for any Republican who actually wants to solve the issue of the border, border security and immigration to go out on a limb now and do something to earnestly fix it, rather than just following Donald Trump down that dark rabbit hole of parroting Nazis.
TAPPER: But as long as you mentioned it, as you know, Donald Trump a couple times over the weekend referred to immigrants from South America, Africa and Asia, he did not mention Europe, South America, Africa and Asia as, quote, "Poisoning the blood of our country," which it's not hyperbole, that does very directly echo Adolf Hitler's language before World War II, before the Holocaust. What kind of effect is that have in the Latino community in Texas. And the reason I ask is because we've heard a lot of language like that before the Tree of Life synagogue shooting and the El Paso Walmart shooting both of which were inspired by this sickening ridiculous great replacement theory that Jews are bringing in Latinos to replace the white population in this country, it's completely false. It's nonsense.
But this great replacement theory, which has been echoed by Republicans in Congress, and Donald Trump, too, has inspired literally killers of Jews and Latinos. And when Donald Trump says that, poisoning the blood of our country, do you hear about that from constituents? Do people talk to you about it? CASTRO: Yes, even in the last few days, as I've been out in public and restaurants, and so forth, people have mentioned it to me unprompted. I think that it sends a kind of shock of fear through people, because they hear it and they know that it is profoundly dangerous and different from what they're used to hearing from political leaders. And I think it's not just Latinos, I think Jews here that -- Muslims here and African Americans, Asian Americans, and others, and they get the same kind of fear and sense. And I have said, and you know, sometimes you try to kind of keep yourself in check because you don't want to be too alarmist and you don't want to be -- you don't want to exaggerate or use hyperbole. But I believe that if Donald Trump is elected again as President, we're essentially on the doorstep of fascism.
TAPPER: Yes. We've come a long way. I know people Democrats have their issues with George W. Bush. But I mean, he did used to talk all the time about how family values don't stop at the Rio Grande River. And as foreign as it might seem, and foreign in quotes, quote, unquote, as it might seem to think about today there was literally like a Latino night at the Republican National Convention in the year 2000. It's impossible to imagine such a thing today.
CASTRO: That's for sure.
TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Joaquin Castro of Texas, thank you so much.
It's been nearly three weeks since Hamas released any of the hostages from Gaza that they so cruelly seized on October 7. Today, families of those still in captivity, more than 100 of them, met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A father who attended that meeting will join me next.
TAPPER: Just hours ago, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with frustrated family members of the many hostages still being held captive by Hamas and other groups in Gaza. They're demanding a deal for their loved ones release. Earlier today Israeli President Isaac Herzog suggested Israel was open to a new pause in fighting, saying, quote, "Israel is ready for another humanitarian pause and additional humanitarian aid in order to enable the release of hostages and the responsibility lies fully with Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar and the leadership of Hamas," unquote. This follows Saturday's protests where 1000s gathered in Tel Aviv after the revelation that three Israeli hostages were accidentally and tragically shot and killed by the IDF in Gaza.
I'm joined right now by Ruby Chen. He's the father of Itay Chen. His son is one of the Israeli American citizens still being held hostage by Hamas in Gaza.
Ruby, thanks so much for joining us again. I'm sad. It's under these circumstances. You attended that meeting today with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Tell us what happened.
RUBY CHEN, FATHER OF AMERICAN-ISRAELI HOSTAGE: Yes, it's been 74 days. We had a meeting with the Prime Minister in a more intimate setting where it was possible actually to have a constructive conversation Q&A where we conveyed to him our concerns after 74 days where in our case, you know, we still do not have sign of life. And reminding all U.S. citizens listening us today there are eight U.S. hostages being held against their will.
Christmas is coming up. I hope that everybody is praying for us and we will be reunited with our family soon. The prime minister he was attentive and he was understanding of the anguished that we are going through. And he committed his utmost ability to do as much as he can for the release of all the hostages. We conveyed to him that it is his responsibility, it happened on his watch, so to say, and he recognizes that fact. And he is doing as much as he can and pledge to continue to do as much as he can for the release of the hostages alive.
TAPPER: The Israeli government has stated that it has two goals. One is the destruction of Hamas, the second is the release of all the hostages. Are you concerned that the prime minister's focus on destroying Hamas has gotten in the way of releasing all the hostage? Has gotten in the way of getting your son back safely and alive?
CHEN: So, Jake, you know, there's important tasks for the State of Israel and the urgent tasks, and we feel the families that this is urgent. But I think the prime minister will try to convey the message that the important tasks for the State of Israel need to be accomplished as well. And we of course, you know, focusing on the fact that the people that have been taken hostage will take in as mostly civilians, you know, that will living in their homes and taken against their will. And that has a responsibility on the State of Israel to bring them back alive, and it's been 74 days.
TAPPER: So, Friday, obviously horrible tragedy when Israeli troops accidentally killed three hostages. Has the IDF, has Netanyahu administration given you any assurances that they are taking steps to make sure that that never happens again?
CHEN: It's a tragedy, Jake. I don't know how to explain to you the emotions that we had when we were looking at the television and looking at those soldiers and then understanding that they did all they could to identify themselves as hostages and still, you know, they were that close, that close of making it. And at the beginning, the idea is to not release all of the names of the deceased. And, you know, any phone call that you get jumped to you when your heart is pounding, and you just want to see who it is. And it was -- I can't describe it. It's more than hell, it's a little bit more than that.
TAPPER: Your son is a dual Israeli American citizen. Do you think there's more that President Biden and the Biden administration and the U.S. government in general could be doing to help secure his release?
CHEN: Well, as you know, Jake, last week, well -- we went in Washington and all the families didn't meet the President, Secretary Blinken. We all know that Dr. Barnes (ph) is somewhere in Europe on this as well. So, I think President Biden reinforced his commitment to this topic and gave us his assurance that even with the holiday seasons coming up, this is not a topic that can wait and will not wait. And the United States is doing everything that it can to bring our loved ones back home.
But there's always the question about levers and what levers can be used, and where's the international community, and what can be done more? That was some of the questions that we asked the President as well as the other meetings that we had last week. And it's a open discussion.
TAPPER: Yes. Ruby Chen, thank you so much. Best regards to your wife. And I hope that you'll be back soon with Itay next year talking to us about his recovery from this horrible ordeal. Thank you so much for your time.
CHEN: I like to ask you again for people to pray. It's Christmas time, time of miracles. We're looking for a miracle. So please continue to think about us and keep us in your thoughts.
TAPPER: I know we will on my show. Thank you, Ruby.
CHEN: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: President Biden is of course a key ally of Israel. But today there is new evidence that the American people do not approve of his action so far when it comes to this war. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Our 2024 lead. Queue the music. Yes, that's my jam.
Nikki Haley's campaign said Donald Trump is, quote, "getting scared in New Hampshire." This in response to a new attack ad from a pro Trump super PAC launch today. Haley's campaign saying, quote, "Trump is running false negative ads against Haley. It looks like Donald Trump is getting nervous. Trump is recycling the same debunked lies peddled by Ron DeSantis, another sign of his desperation," unquote. Let's discuss with our panel.
Alice, according to that recent poll, Nikki Haley is gaining ground on Trump in New Hampshire. She's at 29 percent. Trump still far ahead at 44 percent, but that is within a reasonable distance. This is according to CBS poll. Do you think that Trump is getting scared as Nikki Haley's campaign suggests.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: By all indications, yes, he is. I mean, you don't put a target on someone's back unless you see them as a threat to yourself. And clearly she's got a target on her back. I'm old enough to remember when Donald Trump puts all of his attacks on Joe Biden because he thought he was the by far and away GOP front runner, and now he's --
TAPPER: It was like five days ago.
STEWART: Yes, exactly, exactly. But now, obviously, he's realizing --
STEWART: -- oh, she has momentum. She has support certainly in New Hampshire with Governor Sununu. And she also has a good message on some of these issues that are going to galvanize some of these disaffected Republicans and people that have left Donald Trump and are looking for alternatives. And Nikki Haley is in a good spot. Obviously, he sees she's someone that he needs to be attacking.
TAPPER: Governor Sununu of New Hampshire, popular Republican governor who's endorsed Nikki Haley, he kind of had a theory of the case that reminded me a little bit, and I don't want to push this analogy too much, but remind me a little bit of the Obama in 2008 in the sense that people were behind Hillary 100 percent until they saw that Barack Obama actually could win after he won Iowa. And then they were able to peel off a little bit in New Hampshire, though Hillary won there, but mainly in South Carolina. Sununu was not invoking Obama. But it does remind me that once somebody becomes a more credible candidate, they, people who are behind the front runner, sometimes take another look.
PAUL BEGALA CNN POLITICAL CONTRIBUTOR: They can as an American, I'm not a Republican, of course, but I hope they do. Right. I just I don't think Trump's been good for his party, much less for our country. But the other thing that has to happen is what happened for Joe Biden, when he emerged in South Carolina, all the other moderates in the race dropped out and endorsed him. Pete Buttigieg did, Amy Klobuchar did, Beto O'Rourke did, and they coalesced around Biden. The non-Trump candidates have to coalesce around somebody, and it does look like Haley is far and away the strongest one.
If I could give her free advice, Trump is running his PAC is running ads attacking Haley for allegedly flip flopping. OK, this is a guy free advice Governor Haley, this guy's had three wives, three political parties, three positions on abortion. He's not even more flip flops and Simone Biles come on his back.
STEWART: I think a good argument also to be made and Nikki Haley and DeSantis and a lot of these other candidates, the non-Trump candidates have been trying to make the electability argument. If I could win an election or a general election against Joe Biden, it's one thing to say that but if she's able to demonstrate that in Iowa, New Hampshire and these early states, that's going to go a long way to galvanizing people in your interview with a Sununu.
I thought he made a really good point in terms of you said, should these other candidates get out. There's no mistaking we need to coalesce behind one non Trump candidate, but that can be after some of these early states and Sununu suggested potentially, even as we get closer to Super Tuesday, when Republican voters see a binary choice between someone like Nikki Haley and former President Trump, I think it's going to be a no brainer.
People are going to see that it's time to turn the page and she could actually not just beat Donald Trump, but Joe Biden in general.
TAPPER: So Governor DeSantis has been upping his attacks on Donald Trump in recent weeks. And the other day, he said that Donald Trump will absolutely say that Iowa is stolen if you lose his Iowa, which is not going out on a limb. That's what he -- that's what Donald Trump did in 2016 against Ted Cruz. But DeSantis went on to say that that is not necessarily however a threat to democracy. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not a threat. I mean, what he did when Cruz won, he said it was rigged. Nobody believed that but he did do it. And I think he would do the same thing. I mean, people know that just how that how he operates.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Isn't that you know, a threat to democracy, though? Challenges electrical results?
DESANTIS: No, no. Sake complaining about it is not the same thing at all. He complained about it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BEGALA: This is why he's losing. He's terrible at this. Sorry. He's just terrible candidate. If you're going to say that Trump is going to undermine the results of the election and challenge them falsely, then follow through. And yes, of course, he's a threat to democracy. Yes, he is.
And so he says, well, he will do this. He did it last time, but it's really not a threat. He just complaining. He's challenging. No challenging is fine. You go to court are, you know, Trump did that 61 times and lost every single one of them in the 2020 election. So it just -- this is why --
TAPPER: What do you think Alice? You might be a little bit more charitable. We'll take your take.
STEWART: I agree with the governor 100 percent that any race an election that Donald Trump loses from here to eternity, he will say is rigged. I disagree with him. However, in terms of its -- when he does this, it's not just complaining, he is questioning the integrity of our election, and that is a threat to democracy.
So I think it's much different when you have Donald Trump anytime he wins, everything is fine. There's nothing to see here. However, when he loses, he looks at this as widespread election fraud. And that's simply not true. TAPPER: Just to break from scripture, you worked for Ted Cruz at the time.
STEWART: I did.
TAPPER: In 2016. And it was completely on the up and up. Ted Cruz won Iowa fair and square. Do you think that in retrospect, and obviously everybody's so much wiser in hindsight, but do you think in retrospect, Republicans and Ted Cruz should have made a bigger deal out of the fact that Donald Trump was without any basis in reality, challenging the results of the Iowa caucus?
STEWART: Well, look, you know, having been there, and we were all there, we did what we said those claims were not true. And we said we want fair and square, and we said that this was an election of integrity. But at that time, you're looking to New Hampshire, you're looking to South Carolina, you're looking to stay ahead of the game up the election calendar. We called attention to his fraud and lies back at back during the day.
STEWART: And he just continued to do so. And again, every single time he does it. It's a threat to democracy. And it's an insult to the election workers that work really hard to make sure that we do have free and fair elections in the country.
TAPPER: Alice Stewart, Paul Begala, thanks for being here. Really appreciate it. Just days before the Iowa caucuses, I will have the honor of along with Dana Bash moderating a CNN Republican Presidential Debate. That will be on January 10. It will be in Des Moines at 9:00 p.m. Eastern, and we know that Haley will be there. We know that DeSantis will be there. We will see who else qualifies
Donald Trump. Come on in and the water is warm. Chances are you know someone's sick right now. And if they have COVID, what is the guidance these days? Should they isolate? For how long? Is contact tracing still a thing? What about social distancing? We'll have some answers as COVID cases start to go up again. And many of us get rather -- get ready to gather for the holidays. That's next.
TAPPER: In our national lead now, U.S. airlines are expecting more than 2.8 million people every day to fly for the holidays between December 21st and New Year's Eve. The FAA says it'll take at least 260,000 flights to handle all this air traffic.
Today Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg warned that bad weather could cause some hiccups. The FAA has opened dozens of new East Coast routes to try and keep air traffic moving smoothly. In our health lead today, a spike in COVID infections could throw a
wrench into the holidays for some unlucky families. The CDC is warning about a new subvariant, which is the fastest growing strain of the virus. CNN's Meg Tirrell is with us.
In May, just for the record, I got my COVID shot, just FYI. So you don't have to ask. What is this new variant? And is it making people sicker than previous kinds of COVID.
MEG TIRRELL, CNN MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: The newer one of only about 18 percent of U.S. adults who has gotten that updated COVID booster so the, you know, encouragement is everybody should follow your lead.
This new variant is called JN.1. And it does not make us sicker than other COVID variants, at least as of the data we have right now but unfortunately it does have a growth advantage over previous variants and so that's why of course it's taking off in the United States.
It accounted for about 4 percent of cases back in November. And then over the past month that's grown to more than 20 percent of cases. And it has become dominant already in the Northeast. And that's expected to happen for the entire U.S. and around the world within the coming weeks.
And so here in the U.S. right now, we are already in a spike of COVID. If you look at wastewater levels, which is sort of a leading indicator of where cases are going to go. We are at levels that the CDC says are very high, and they're getting up there to where we saw last winter.
And of course, what we really worry about is severe disease and hospital capacity. We are starting to see hospitalizations getting up into the medium to high levels, even in some counties, that's the yellow and the orange levels. And the CDC is warning that hospitalizations have been rising from COVID. Jake.
TAPPER: If someone tests positive for COVID, what's the protocol? Should they quarantine, it mean it's no longer a national public health emergency. So what's the latest guidance?
TIRRELL: Well, the guidance is the same as when it was a national public health emergency. Essentially, if you test positive for COVID, the guidance is you should isolate for five days, and including from people in your household if you can, of course, if you've got kids or you're caring for somebody that can be difficult.
The guidance is to wear a high quality mask if you have to be around others either in your household or if you have to go out and if you have more moderate or severe symptoms, the CDC says you actually should isolate for 10 days.
Of course, testing can change those limits. If you're still testing positive, you should still continue to isolate. And of course, if you start to test negative, that should give you a good go ahead as well. TAPPER: Does the current COVID vaccine which is currently surging through my body, does it offer any protection against this new sub variant?
TIRRELL: It does. That's the good news. Even though this new variant is expected to be more immune evasive, and that's why it potentially is spreading more easily against severe disease, which is the thing we want vaccines to protect us against primarily, it does seem to still continue to provide good protection.
TAPPER: All right. Meg Tirrell, thanks so much. What could be a major development in the Jeffrey Epstein saga, a judge ordering the names of more than 150 of Epstein's alleged associates and victims be released. What led to this new ruling? What's in that black book? That's next?
TAPPER: In our law and justice lead the names of more than 150 of Jeffrey Epstein's alleged associates and victims will be made public early next year after a ruling by a federal judge. Epstein was indicted in 2019 on federal charges of operating a sex trafficking ring in which he allegedly sexually abused dozens of underage girls. He died by suicide while awaiting trial.
Let's bring in CNN's Jean Casarez. Jean, why did the judge decide to release these names now or at least in the pending weeks?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's really the only unresolved issue of that civil suit by Virginia Giuffre was settled in 2017. But this has been the outstanding issue and now the judge issued it and why? Because mainly most of these names have already availed themselves to the public. They're in the public domain in one form or fashion. So the judge says they're allowed.
First of all, let's show everybody what names aren't going to be released. So it's a lot of them. First of all, alleged victims of Jeffrey Epstein people that have done interviews or they testified in trial or somehow or other their names are in the public domain, alleged associates of Jeffrey Epstein.
Those that he worked with maybe they testified at trial, maybe their names were in a police report, detectives and assistant state attorney some of those names have been redacted in documents.
A public figure they say who was one of many names in the address book of Jeffrey Epstein, no salacious activity at all. A lot of the names are associated with they say no salacious activity. Journalist named to redacted. An individual who allegedly recruited young women to give massages to Jeffrey Epstein. That name was mentioned in the trial. So it can come out.
An individual whose role has been widely reported in the media, they say that this person already was criminally prosecuted abroad for sex trafficking and that name and much media attention, they say that name will become public.
TAPPER: So if someone's name is on this list of associates, OK, what does that mean? What exactly are we going to be learning here? Because I think what everybody wants to know is he was running to sex trafficking ring with underage girls, who are the bad guys here? Who are the victims? I mean, as far as I'm concerned, they should have their privacy if they want it. But who are the bad guys that he was providing this client service for?
CASAREZ: Well, I think a couple that I just mentioned, you know, allegedly recruiting them for the back rubs and massages for Epstein, one that was already prosecuted for sex trafficking abroad. But a lot of those associates it says no salacious information. So in other words, they're just names, names that were a part of the trial, or they've availed themselves, and now they're going to be public.
But here's what I think can be gained from this, the documents are coming out. So you're not just going to have a name, you're going to see alleged facts or factual scenario surrounding that name for the first time. And that may give more understanding more information than we've ever had before.
TAPPER: Can people object and prevent their names from being made public? Is that something I'm just wondering --
TAPPER: -- all the bad guys watching right now calling lawyers --
CASAREZ: Absolutely. Yeah. And these are Jane Doe's and John Doe's, right, males and females. They've got 14 days to be able to appeal this. If they do then it will go on. If they don't appeal this and many of the entries say that they are not moving. They already had -- were given notice that this was going to happen. And nobody has voiced in opposition at this point, according to the documents.
If it goes forward, everything will get an order and an early 2024 the documents with the unveiled names public for the first time will come out.
TAPPER: Well, I think we all agree we'd like to see the names of the bad guys here.
TAPPER: Jean Casarez, thank you so much.
TAPPER: In February, an international swimming competition and qualifier for the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris will be held in Doha. Doha, the capital of Qatar. But now the International Olympic Committee is facing some pressure from an organization representing Israeli and Jewish athletes to move the event out of Qatar over understandable safety concerns in a letter to the IOC. The No to Doha campaign writes, quote, today, the leaders of the Palestinian terrorists death called Hamas live in Doha, Qatar, where they enjoy protection and support from the local government. No Jew could justifiably feel safe while competing in Doha, unquote.
Let's bring in Eric Spitz. He's spearheading the No to Doha campaign. Eric, thanks for being here. So your daughter, I should mention, of course, you're not related to Mark Spitz for anybody out there wondering.
Your daughter is a member of the Israeli Women's Swim Team. Is her safety the reason you started this campaign, the No to Doha Campaign?
ERIC SPITZ, FATHER OF ISRAELI OLYMPIC SWIM TEAM MEMBER: It's through safety as well as the unfairness of the situation, in the sense that, regardless of whether they decide to go or not, they're being put in an awful situation.
How would you like it? If you were a world class athlete, being asked to attend an event and perform at your peak while having the Hamas leadership around the corner?
TAPPER: Yes. In an op-ed you write, quote, like all Israeli athletes, they traveled incognito for fear that revealing the country they compete for would make them a terrorist target, no passport stamps, and no team gear or logos on bags, unquote.
What's it like for your daughter, she's focused on competing, she's focused on representing her country. But she also has to struggle with this deceit, with first of all, having to hide who she is, and then also this decision to possibly not compete, because she doesn't want to go to a country where Hamas is staying at the local four seasons.
SPITZ: It's difficult, it's difficult on all of them. And really, the most challenging thing for them is that they're not getting great information from either the IOC from World Aquatics or even from their Israeli coaches, who seem that they don't really know what's going on.
TAPPER: And what's your reaction to the -- to this -- to the general premise that Qatar is playing a significant role in the release of Israeli hostages held by Hamas? As I'm sure you've heard there are people in in Israel and the U.S. who say, I understand concerns you might have, but Qatar is helping. Right now they're helping getting in terms of negotiations, helping to get hostages out so they are playing a constructive role.
SPITZ: For sure, except they also operate Al Jazeera in Arabic, which has over the years been held liable for starting some of the riots that you're seeing all over the world. So yes, they're saying things and yes, they've done a great job of sports washing, or whitewashing their image by investing in things and putting money into universities and creating the Doha wing of the Brookings Institute. But can you really be sure that you're safe and secure inside a country that is known as the global mecca of terrorism?
TAPPER: And what's the alternative for your daughter if she ultimately feels like she wouldn't feel safe in Doha?
SPITZ: That's really the question on the part, or up to the IOC and World Aquatics, there are alternatives. They can make other events, qualifying events. If they really wanted to do something, they could make an event in Israel or a special event for the affected athletes. Instead, they're clamming up and not telling anybody anything.
TAPPER: So you've had no response from the IOC at all?
SPITZ: Right. And not only have I had no response, but there are several journalists who are now following this story, who've done real work trying to get to the World Aquatics, trying to get to IOC, trying to get to the U.S. Israeli Olympics, with no doubt.
TAPPER: YEs. Eric Spitz, thank you so much. We should -- we appreciate it. And we should note that we also reached out to the IOC, and they did not request -- they did not respond to our request for comment. Eric, good to see you and good luck to your daughter.
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