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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden: Trump Says Out Loud He Admires Dictators; Attorney General: 1,250+ Charged, 890+ Convictions Since January 6; Trump Heads Back To Iowa With Busy Campaign Schedule; Wayne LaPierre Resigns As Leader Of The NRA; U.S. Supreme Court Meets Amid Ballot Ban Challenges; Airstrikes Hit Camps For Displaced Palestinians; Florida GOP To Vote Monday On Removing Party Chair. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired January 05, 2024 - 16:00   ET


KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He was making an aggressive argument about how Donald Trump's actions are dangerous and threatening.


I mean, hey, yeah, he's sort of have the ad lib moment where he said what a sick, you know, but, again, a reflection of how --

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: What was the word he was going to use?


BEDINGFIELD: How would I know? How would I know?

TAPPER: Is it the four-letter one?



BEDINGFIELD: How would I know, Jake? How would I know?

TAPPER: Was it a polled (ph) one? Anyway, keep going.

BEDINGFIELD: But it does reflect how strongly he feels about it. I think it actually reflects how strongly a lot of Americans feel about -- about Donald Trump. So, I thought this was a speech where Biden, you know, really did an effective job of laying out the stakes, dialing up the urgency, making, you know, no bones about the fact that if Trump is back in office, he is going to bring to bear some of these -- he's going to incite some of these political violence again which we know people are afraid of the trend, the way that's moving in the country.

The other thing I wanted to touch on actually which you were talking about, David, this all out war thing. I do think that there's all out war within the context of a campaign and there is doing hand to hand combat of campaigning every day and not allowing Trump's lies to go unchallenged, and that sort of thing. But I -- what I actually heard, I think what Biden was saying is, you know, people don't actually want the state of their politics to be a constant battle. They don't want to feel like it's my team versus your team, and we can never find common ground.

And that's an argument that doesn't always get as much traction amongst, you know, folks talking about it on cable, or folks who are motivated on Twitter or X or whatever the heck we call it now, to talk about politics. But the average voter does actually want to see their elected officials work together. And so I thought it was interesting for Biden to inject that into a speech that was a largely very aggressive and vocal. But I think that was an important piece and I think that will be an important piece of how you'll hear him talk as the campaign moves forward.

CHARLIE DENT (R), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, PENNSYLVANIA: This was a speech about Trump the barbarians are coming over the gate speech, that this would be the end of the republic if Trump is successful. That's what I got out of it.

But to take, to your point, Kate, though, you know, I do think a lot of Americans are tired of the politics of this moment. They think one of these candidates, Donald Trump, is too crazy, and I think the other one is too old. They are looking for something else. I truly believe that.

I talked about the No Labels movement before and they are trying to put forward a fusion ticket. People want something different. They are tired of the extremism in this.

TAPPER: So, Congressman, there is a moment where President Biden said you can't can be pro-insurrectionist and pro-American. Do you think that's true?

DENT: Yeah, I think it is true. You can't be for insurrection and also be for the constitutional order and American democracy. You can't. So I think that's a fair comment.

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: He also made the case that she can't be on both sides of that. That there were Republican senators and House members who after January 6th attacked Donald Trump, blamed Donald Trump, and now that they have changed their tune for whatever reason, whether it is they are afraid or whether it's campaign money, he made that point very strongly and he said they made their choice and we have to make ours now.

TAPPER: David another point I thought was interesting is that he talked about all of the threats to campaign election officials, and as we have covered on CNN, there were a number of threats directly posed by supporters of Donald Trump, not just to these two election officials in Georgia who just won this $150 million settlement from Rudy Giuliani for his smears against them, but Republican election officials in Michigan, Republican election officials in Arizona, Republican election officials in Georgia. And it is something, I thought it was interesting how he connected those threats to election workers who are really just government employees who are trying to do their jobs. He connected that to this moment. DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah, and he did it and a way

that he was uplifting those election workers as real patriots, but also saying that he pointed to them as the very people that helped the country pass that test. He talks about the reason democracy stood, that American democracy withheld and kept itself together through this test was because of the very functioning of those ordinary Americans.

TAPPER: Unfortunately, a lot of them have been scared out of those jobs in the future.

My panel, thank you so much, great job, really appreciate it.

Attorney General Merrick Garland today is also using the insurrection in a speech summing up all that his Justice Department has done to try to hold people accountable in the three years since January 6th, 2021.

Take a listen.


MERRICK GARLAND, ATTORNEY GENERAL: So far, we've charged over 1,250 individuals and obtained over 890 convictions in connection with the January 6th attack and our work continues.


As I've said before, the Justice Department will hold all January 6 perpetrators at any level accountable under the law.


TAPPER: CNN's Evan Perez joins us now.

Evan, Justice Department officials say more police officers than we know, than the public knows about suffered trauma or injury in the January 6th attack?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. Look, we keep hearing certainly in some of the court cases about 140 officers who were injured who we know of and are injured.

And one of the things we've heard just in the last 24 hours from Matthew Graves, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, is that, you know, there is a number of officers who had suffered untold other injuries that are not counted among those 140. There are people who had trauma, obviously, from some of the attacks of the assaults that they suffered on the hands of those people. And you see it in some of the infamous video. Some of those people who had left the police forces that responded to the Capitol that day.

Listen to the U.S. attorney Matthew Graves talking about this.


MATTHEW GRAVES, U.S. ATTORNEY FOR THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: On January 6th, 2021, the United States lost control of the grounds around its Capitol and most of the Capitol itself. The siege of the Capitol is likely the largest single day mass assault of law enforcement officers in our nation's history.


PEREZ: And, Jake, look, what I find, you know, just a step back a little bit from what grace said in the clip just now, and what you are hearing from Merrick Garland, the attorney general is a bit of a re- frame, it's a bit of a re-frame because we are now about to reach the final January 6th anniversary before the 2024 election, and this is really part of the last time that you're going to hear these officials address some of the violence, because we're about to get into political season and what is important about that is obviously we will hear from the former president, we're going to hear from Republicans who are going to try to diminish what happened on January 6th. So what you've heard there puts a little bit of that perspective out there, and, you know, talking about the guns that were found that day.

You heard from Republicans who tried to pretend like there was not any fire arms found, or there were no weapons and this was not an insurrection, what you are hearing from both Graves and the attorney general in those two clips is a bit of a rebuttal of what you will hear in the coming months from the political campaign -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Fascinating stuff from our Justice Department correspondent, Evan Perez, thank you so much.

We turn now to Harry Dunn, a former Capitol police officer who defended the Capitol during the insurrection. He spoke out during the January 6th hearings. He was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and the Presidential Citizen's Medals for his heroic actions on that day.

Today, Harry Dunn announced that he wants to defend democracy in a brand-new way. He is going to run for Congress from the state of Maryland, specifically from Maryland's third congressional district. The incumbent Congressman Sarbanes is not running for reelection.

So, you're no longer an officer? Did you resign?

HARRY DUNN, FORMER CAPITOL POLICE OFFICER: Yeah, I resigned from the department, unfortunately.

TAPPER: When was that? Last night? Today?

DUNN: December 17th was my last day.

TAPPER: OK. Well, good to see you again.

DUNN: Good to see you, too.

TAPPER: You said it is no exaggeration to say we are one election away from the extinction of our democracy as we know it right now.

So, this is -- this is the reason that you are running for office, mainly? DUNN: That's one of the offices that has propelled me into this new

role that I'm embarking on right now. I've been in public servant for the last 15, 16 years of my life. And I've always believed in public service.

So if you don't ask me before January 6th happened if I would've run for office, sure, maybe I would consider it when I retire at the age of 55, or 57, whatever, I'll think about it. But January 6th did happen and at this moment right now I don't think any of us have the luxury of sitting back and waiting for somebody else to do something else.

You do until there is nothing that can be done, there is always something that can be done and I feel like my role as a Capitol police officer, I did all I could do to meet this moment that we are in right now to fight and to try to seek justice and accountability and defend democracy, but now, I'm stepping into a new role and I think I am up for the challenge to represent the people of the third district of Maryland.

TAPPER: And you're running as a Democrat?

DUNN: Yes.

TAPPER: That's a pretty Democratic district.

DUNN: Yes, I'm running as a Democrat.

TAPPER: Are there going to be opponents? Are there other people that have declared?

DUNN: Yeah, there's a crowded field, which is expected to be. It's an open seat and a lot of these individuals that are maybe running when and if they lose the primary, they go right back to their seats in Annapolis. So, a lot of them don't have anything to lose.

TAPPER: A lot of them are state representatives, yeah.

DUNN: Me, resigning from the department almost four years short of being able to retire, so the passion and dedication and urgency in this moment, we can't wait. We -- like I just said, we -- it's not an exaggeration. We're literally one election away from this stage of democracy as we know it.

Donald Trump has said himself, this isn't a pundit's take. This isn't your -- he said out of his own mouth, he wants to be a dictator. So at what point do we stop taking -- assuming that he's joking and start taking him at face value about the things that he said based on the things that he's done?

TAPPER: What would you want to do as a member of Congress?

DUNN: You know, one of the things that it gives me a seat at the table. I've been speaking out as loud as I could, as forcefully as I can to hold member -- to get members to stop downplaying whitewashing, doing Donald Trump's bidding. I believe in the last segment, one of the guests said that they knew that Donald Trump was wrong the day after January 6, that night, they went on the floor and they condemned him in the vote to --

TAPPER: I think it was President Biden that said, yeah.

DUNN: Well, yeah, yeah. And in the impeachment, in the impeachment, the majority leader, Mitch McConnell, said that the president was responsible for it, but all of them have changed their tune. Why? Why? Did Donald Trump get to them? Did the voters get to them?

They knew that it was wrong, so I do believe that there's a way -- they know that it is wrong but they are just not saying it so being able to have a seat at the table, they can't dismiss me as just an angry police officer. I'm their equal. I'm their colleague now, and I have a voice and seat at the table.

TAPPER: What do you want to do -- in addition to obviously upholding democracy, what else do you want to achieve because the job obviously --

DUNN: Obviously, yeah. So, I think -- I think that under the umbrella of democracy, it follows the things that the Republicans are trying to get rid of -- voting rights, access to the ballot box, women's health care, we want to codify Roe v. Wade, gun control, common sense. We just had a shooting in Iowa, and, you know, here goes the thoughts and prayers things again.

So, the common sense things that Democrats want to run on, affordable health care for all. So, those are the things I want to run on and obviously, I've been very loud and outspoken about mental health. So I do want to look into initiating programs to reduce the stigma for mental health and normalize it and get it into the forefront of the national, normal discussion.

TAPPER: Do you think that you would -- so many members of the House Republican caucus are election deniers in one way or another.

DUNN: Yeah.

TAPPER: Some of them are very loudly lie, others just went along with the lies and the majority of them, two thirds of them voted to not count the votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania based on those lies.

Will you be able to work with those people? Because one of the responsibilities of a member of Congress is to actually work across the aisle with people that you disagree with, to get things done for your constituents and the American people. Would you be able to work for -- well, work with Marjorie Taylor Greene or Lauren Boebert?

DUNN: You know, I think so because I was able to protect them to -- and because I believed in democracy. When I totally as an officer, I disagreed with everything, with almost every single thing that came out of their mouth. So, I do believe that when actually we have a common and equal position, and we need to get things done, I could easily be dismissed as just a regular officer now.

Now I'm actually your equal. Let's sit down. This needs to be done. So I'm up for it. It depends on them.

TAPPER: And, lastly, I just want to ask, I don't know if you know this. You probably do, that the late Harry Reid, the former Senate majority leader, Democrat from Nevada, he also used to be a Capitol police officer -- I get -- that you're nodding. So, you knew this.

Do you draw any inspiration from him?

DUNN: Not really inspiration but, you know, what -- he was -- he was a public servant, as a police officer, just like I am. I'm not a career politician, I'm a career public servant. I believe in giving my voice, lending my voice to the people and bringing their needs, their desires, their wants and echoing them on the floors of Congress and the halls of Congress.

TAPPER: Do you have a campaign manager? Do you have a --

DUNN: I have a whole team. I'm ready to rock. You can find more about it on

TAPPER: Yeah, you've got to saying

DUNN: I got to say it.

TAPPER: You got to say it like 30 times every time.


TAPPER: Well, not on this show, but in your next appearance on a different channel.

DUNN: Thanks, Jake. Thank you.

TAPPER: Good to see you, Officer. Thank you so much. I'm going to keep calling you officer until I'm calling you congressman. Is that okay?

DUNN: It works for me. Sounds good.

TAPPER: All right. Thank you, Officer. I appreciate it.

DUNN: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: The Republican frontrunner Donald Trump is in Iowa just minutes away from a big speech himself what sources are telling CNN about his plan to go after President Biden with only ten days left until Iowa caucus voters actually cast their ballots.

Plus, a big resignation today from the NRA, the National Rifle Association. Wayne LaPierre is stepping down. Why is he resigning now? We'll to you -- we'll talk to our expert about it, coming up.


[16:18:39] TAPPER: And we are back with our 2024 lead. Donald Trump back in Iowa. The former president is expected to speak at an event in Sioux Center.

CNN's Kristen Holmes is traveling with the former president and she's at that event.

Kristen, this event comes ahead of tomorrow's somber third anniversary of the January 6th attack on the Capitol and after President Biden's big speech on democracy, near Valley Forge, actually in Blue Bell.

What do we expect Trump to say?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, I was told by advisors this morning not to expect any sort of direct response to President Biden, however that was before we actually heard the speech and there were parts of that speech, I heard your panel discussing this, that were very personal, particularly I would point to having covered Donald Trump, the part where Biden called him a loser.

So, whether or not that still stands, are trying to get more information on that speech but I will point to the fact that when Donald Trump has hit back at Biden over Biden's arguments that Trump is a threat to democracy, he's really just tried to turn the table saying that it is Biden himself that is a threat to democracy because of all the legal battles that Trump is facing. Trump is saying those are all politically motivated.

And the other point I wanted to bring up, you mentioned January 6, we are coming up on the three-year anniversary, Donald Trump as he's running for president has really downplayed the violence of that day, as well as fully embraced the January 6th rioters.


He has not only said that he would pardon many of them, he also said that many of them would receive a government apology if he were reelected. He even purported a song with them which was published with some of the men in prison or in jail, for their acts on January 6th.

So any sort of reflection or change in that stance seems very unlikely.

TAPPER: We're 10 days out from the caucus. Obviously, Trump still holds a commanding lead there, according to polls. Then, in New Hampshire, which is about a week later, Nikki Haley is gaining on him, seems to have some momentum. He is running a -- or maybe it's super PAC, running a pretty harsh ad about her in New Hampshire. Any other signs that Trump might be getting nervous.

HOLMES: Actually, they're both running ads.

Donald Trump's campaign putting it out on the airwaves, going after her on immigration, trying to tie her to President Biden. We are also seeing the super PAC had an ad. They've actually increased their spending. They are clearly paying attention. They are watching Ron DeSantis very closely in Iowa. They believe that they are going to pull out Iowa and pull it out by a large margin. There were questions for some time.

New Hampshire, they are watching it very closely. They see Nikki Haley surging in the polls. They know that New Hampshire is a different demographic of voters than Iowa. So clearly they are trying to stop or at least slow down some of that momentum with those ads and with putting people out in the field. We expect to see that in the coming weeks.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes traveling with Donald Trump in Sioux Center, Iowa.

Coming up Wednesday, I'm going to moderate the presidential debate with my colleague, Dana Bash. We will be in Des Moines, Iowa. Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis are going to share the stage. That's next Wednesday, January 10th, only here on CNN.

Turning to our national lead now, a notable and may be even shocking resignation from one of the most powerful and influential lobbyist groups in Washington, D.C. Wayne LaPierre stepping down from the national association of America, the NRA, effective January 31st. A civil trial involving LaPierre and the NRA is scheduled to start Monday.

Let's bring in Stephen Gutowski. He's the founder of The Reload and he contributes to CNN.

Stephen, how big a deal is this resignation and how surprised are you?

STEPHEN GUTOWSKI, CNN CONTRIBUTOR/FOUNDER, THE RELOAD: Well, I think the word to use there is correct -- shocking. This is the face of the gun -- actually, for the last several decades. The person who is really the driving force behind how guns in America has unfolded and how the policy has unfolded is now not going to be the head of the NRA anymore. That's -- that's pretty remarkable.

TAPPER: Why do you think it is? Why is he resigning?

GUTOWSKI: I think that the timing says a lot. You know, you mentioned that the trial and corruption allegations --

TAPPER: You go into that because people don't know -- people don't know about this. Obviously, the New York Attorney General Letitia James filed a lawsuit in 2020 to dissolve the NRA, claiming the organization violated laws for non-profit groups and took millions for personal use and committed tax fraud.

GUTOWSKI: Yeah, that's the essential core of the complaint against the NRA and really against this leadership, like Wayne LaPierre and dissolution was taken off of the table by the judge because we thought it wouldn't be helpful to NRA members who were really supposed to be the ones the attorney general is looking out for. But punishments against leadership like removal, fines against the organization, those are still very much on the table. And, you know, Wayne LaPierre is at the center of all of that. The NRA

has tried to argue that they performed themselves, that they had made mistakes but they put in due process, that they gotten rid of some of the people who were accused of corruption in this instance. But all the while they had Wayne LaPierre as the head who was really the center of this whole case. And now -- now, he's gone.

TAPPER: And, Stephen, you've done some remarkable reporting on this and on the way that the NRA used or misused funds. What's the bottom line? Where they using funds corruptly? Were they using member dues to -- in ways that were not kosher?

GUTOWSKI: Yeah. I mean, they've admitted to at least some of these things, right? They've said that Wayne LaPierre and other members of leadership have taken excess benefits like basically they used NRA money to pay for lavish personal expenses like private flights and fancy suits and luxury trips.

TAPPER: Suits?

GUTOWSKI: Uh-huh, fancy -- very fancy suits, much fancier than any thing that you and I own. But, you know, that's tens of thousands of dollars worth of suits in a single month, sort of situation, was obviously one of the most famous allegations here. But they also extended the self-dealing, problems with, you know, the sort of ethical standards on the board members being paid by the NRA for certain events that they would host.

They did a lot of things that are just not common practice in most well-governed organizations. And so, these were the core of the allegations and that Wayne LaPierre was effectively in charge of how all of this went.


And so, even though the NRA had tried to argue in court that we have self-corrected in a lot of ways, a big impediment to that argument was the guy who's at the center of all of it who still in charge until just now.

TAPPER: Stephen Gutowski, we're lucky you're in the building when the story broke. Thank you so much. Really appreciate it. Go Birds!

Coming up, the meeting today behind closed doors at the U.S. Supreme Court. The subject matter, Donald Trump. Why a lawyer for the former president says that the cases before the justices will be, quote, a slam dunk.

Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our law and justice lead today, all nine of the U.S. Supreme Court justices meeting in private today, discussing which cases the court should take up. Staring them in the face, of course, filings related to the former

President Donald Trump's ballot ban. If the justices take up the case and they will have to determine whether Trump should be forbidden from holding office because of his role in January 6th insurrection and the 14th Amendment to the constitution and at least one of Trump's lawyers thinks the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in Trump's favor.

Take a listen.


ALINA HABBA, LEGAL SPOKESPERSON AND LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: I think it should be a slam dunk in the Supreme Court. I have faith in them. You know, people like Kavanaugh who the president fought for, who the president went through hell to get into place.

He'll step up. Those people will step up not because they are pro- Trump but because they are pro-law.


TAPPER: That sound you hear is Justice Kavanaugh's head exploding.

Let's bring in CNN's Paula Reid.

Paula, if the U.S. Supreme Court takes up this case, what specifics of the legal issues do you think they'll focus on?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, they have been presented with a menu of options by former President Trump and the Republican Party of Colorado. The GOP in Colorado presented three questions. The first, does section 3 of the 14th Amendment apply to presidents?

Remember, even within the state of Colorado, the courts are split on this question. That is something about the court if they take up this case they will likely have to clarify. The next question is, okay, the self executing or is there a role for Congress? And then the Republican Party in that state also posed an interesting question, which is whether political parties have a First Amendment right that should be factored in here.

Now, the Trump posed more of a general question which is, hey, was this a mistake to remove him from the ballot, more of a "choose your own adventure" for the justices? But we know there's going to be a lot of pressure for them to rule narrowly and for the chief justice to build a coalition and consensus so that it doesn't look like it has a partisan tilt.

TAPPER: I can't imagine that they're not going to weigh in on this. There's just such confusion about this.

REID: Yeah.

TAPPER: I mean, I don't want to state that stuff is going to happen, but it just seems like something that they want to weigh in on. REID: That's what most people think.

TAPPER: When will we know if the justices decide to take it up or not?

REID: Yeah, it's hard to say, we don't know.

TAPPER: That we don't know, yeah.

REID: Exactly. One thing everything -- everyone agrees here, right, the challengers, Trump, the Republican Party, time is of the essence. I mean, you're going into a primary where Trump will appear on the ballot and you can have a situation where people don't know if a candidate they're voting for the primary is going to be considered eligible to appear in the general. That's not ideal for anyone, nor is it ideal for democracy.

So, everyone is urging them to move quickly. But there a lot of questions, if they pick up the case, there will be arguments. He just wants the decision reversed, but that takes time, the briefing schedule, and then how long it takes them to decide.

So, timing is a huge issue here. We know they can move quickly even within days if they want to, but since we didn't have so far, we haven't gotten an answer on whether they will take this case, it will be likely weeks or months, not days. So, we have an answer here.

TAPPER: All right. Stick around because I want to bring in others here.

CNN's senior Supreme Court analyst, justice analyst, Joan Biskupic, as well as our legal analyst and former prosecutor Elliot Williams.

Elliot, let me start with you. There is a group of House Democrats demanding again that the Justice Clarence Thomas recuse himself from this case, having to do with Donald Trump's eligibility, in part they say because of efforts to reverse the 2020 election by Justice Thomas's wife, Ginni. They wrote, quote, your wife was one of nine board members for a conservative political group which helped lead the Stop the Steal movement, and quote, it is unthinkable that you could be impartial, talking to Justice Thomas, in deciding whether or not your wife personally organized qualifies as an insurrection that would prevent somebody from holding office of president.

What do you think of that argument?

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Look, I think it's an incredibly bad look for Justice Thomas given his wife's work as an activist. The problem and it's something we've talked about at this table for quite some length is that the Supreme Court really doesn't have standards, ethical standards or standards governing when justices really ought to recuse themselves from cases.

If Justice Thomas can say or assert that he can view a case fairly and impartially, he doesn't have to recuse and he probably is not going to. And this is an issue that has plagued the Supreme Court for sometime. I really think it's about the reputation far more than it's about the facts of anyone case.

TAPPER: And, Joan, if Justice Thomas does not recuse himself and that seems almost a certainty -- as certain as anything could possibly be in this world, death, taxes, and Justice Thomas is not going to recuse himself, can the U.S. Supreme Court recover from the perception of being politically biased given the fact that -- I mean, it's been a bad few years for the Supreme Court?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: It has. But let me just separate these two questions. I think that the Supreme Court could rise to this moment. You know, think of how polarized we are. Think of how much people want clarity on the law, on this question that has never been tested. If they approach this with transparency and no matter how they rule, how they decide this, if their legal grounding seems sound to people.

And if maybe the chief can pull together nearly not just the majority but unanimity, you know, I like this a lot to what happened in 2020 when they were faced with the Trump document cases, and he worked very hard behind the scenes to get 7-2 votes after starting out with five more votes.

So I think the integrity --

TAPPER: Yeah, but it would be two.

BISKUPIC: Well, yeah, Justice Thomas and Justice Alito.

TAPPER: Right, OK.

BISKUPIC: Yes, but no, don't rest your case yet because I think that what could happen is that the court as a whole, as I say, might seize this moment in ways that inspire confidence.


As to Justice Thomas, we already know in the first phase of a related Trump case and the question of whether he is immune from criminal prosecution, the Jack Smith case, he participated in that. It was just a subtle way that we knew it when they issued the order that sent it back to the lower appellate court, Justice Thomas didn't know that he didn't participate, and that's the only way that we know.

And that goes to the question of transparency. If they are transparent, and you said when will they decide? Right now, the clock is ticking on today. We have not yet told us if there are any orders coming. So, we are kind of in limbo and when the court does that, going into a weekend or doesn't give good signals about how they want to handle stuff, again, it just seems a little more shadowy than what we would like to see.

TAPPER: So the immunity case that Joan just brought up, obviously, Jack Smith wanted that expedited and the Supreme Court said no, so the question about whether or not he has immunity from prosecution for anything he did as president is going to go to a federal appeals court and then it could be theoretically back at the Supreme Court's doorstep.

What's at stake here?

REID: Well, the big, the constitutional question is about presidential immunity, but the other issue here is timing and whether Jack Smith can bring the federal election subversion case before November because this appeal has currently paused that trial and as you noted, Smith went to the Supreme Court already. He asked, hey, can you just decide this about we can move along with this trial or not? They declined.

Whatever happens after next Tuesday's oral arguments, whatever they decide will likely go against the Supreme Court. It's unclear if they would want to get involved but the amount of time that it takes to get there and for them to decide one way or another, that has an enormous impact on whether that case will go before the November election.

TAPPER: So, I'm having a lot of flashbacks to previous presidential elections especially 2000, when the U.S. Supreme Court weighed in on Bush v. Gore and decided there was a conservative-leaning court and decided for the conservative candidate, George W. Bush. How do you see these current cases in the light of Bush v. Gore?

BISKUPIC: Bush v. Gore, for some people who don't remember 24 years ago, so I can understand why people don't remember how tremendous it was by one vote, Jake, you know well because you wrote them, 5 to 4, split along ideological and political lines. So there was huge -- it decided the election just at the nick of time. It was right as the electors were being certified in December of that election year. So that was really big.

This is something that right now is momentous because it is going to determine whether the leading Republican candidate is going to be on a ballot. But we are at the very start of a cycle. This is going to be important for other cases, too, because other individuals could be accused of insurrection and kept off of the ballot depending on how this court rules. Bush v. Gore as we all said at the time was good for one ticket, one train only, but is still reverberates.

TAPPER: But that kind of underlines what critics would say it's dishonesty of the decision. We said we are ruling this once and it can never be applied to anything else ever again.


TAPPER: But these other cases that are going before the Supreme Court, they will have resonance for centuries presuming that the world doesn't end.

WILLIAMS: They absolutely will, and again, we can't say enough how this affects the court's public perception. And Bush versus Gore, regardless of the wisdom or lack of wisdom of the decision, it affected how the public saw the court. They saw it as another political government, and you can be certain that the Chief Justice Roberts right now is thinking about how he can craft whatever these decisions are in such a manner that, number one, doesn't touch the insurrection question, and sort of tries to resolve the case on some of these procedural points, but, two, speaks with a voice that doesn't appear to be a partisan body.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks one and all for being here. Appreciate it.

Israel's military says that it struck more than 100 targets across Gaza overnight into today as they go after Hamas. Coming up, see the incredible impact of some of these recent strikes and the toll that they are taking on not just Hamas, but the civilians still living in Gaza.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Topping our world lead today, fierce fighting and deadly airstrikes throughout Gaza, especially in Khan Younis, the city in southern Gaza that's now the epicenter of Israel's operation to root out Hamas. As the attacks continue, a top United Nations official says that Gaza faces the highest level of food insecurity ever recorded. Famine is right around the corner adding, quote, hope has never been more elusive, unquote.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond reports on the relentless bombing and unimaginable suffering. We must warn you that some of the images that we're about to show you are disturbing.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A child's lifeless body carefully pried from the rubble. Gaza civil defense says this is the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike in Deir al-Balah, a city where tens of thousands are seeking shelter. Heeding evacuation orders like these dropped by the Israeli military this week.

It's not just Deir al-Balah. Several cities where civilians have been told to flee have been hit by Israeli airstrikes in recent days, including this camp for displaced Palestinian in the southern city of Rafah. That city has been struck repeatedly this week even as makeshift camps have ballooned in recent months as seen and the satellite images.

YAMEN AHMAD, DISPLACED GAZAN LIVING IN RAFAH (through translator): I have been displaced from one place to another, Bureij, Maghazi, Nuseirat, then we left the last place for the safety of our children. There is no safe place.

DIAMOND: That brutal reality all to clear at the morgue, as families mourn.

The Israeli military says that they struck more than 100 targets across Gaza overnight, reporting fierce fighting and strikes on targets including Hamas command centers and rocket launch pads. Amid the strikes, some are once again on the move. Mattresses and blankets carried however they can, but fleeing Gaza is no guarantee of safety.


The Nijem family who fled south from northern Gaza are the latest to learn that cruel lesson.

MAZEN NIJEM, 10 FAMILY MEMBERS KILLED IN STRIKE (through translator): They told us to go to Maghazi where it is safe and we have nothing left. Where do we go? We only have god.

DIAMOND: Seven-month-old Imad (ph) and nine other members of his family are now dead, killed in an Israeli airstrike according to Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital.

KHALED NIJEM, 10 FAMILY MEMBERES KILLED IN STRIKE (through translator): They told us to come to the center and that it is safe. We came here and nothing is safe.

DIAMOND: For many, that exhausting, elusive search for safety is over. All that remains is the pursuit of dignity.

ABU ADNAN, DISPLACED GAZAN LIVING IN DEIR AL-BALAH: There are no toilets, no food, no water, no clothes. With all of this I prefer to go back home and die with dignity than die in this way.


DIAMOND: And when civilians in Gaza are not fearing death from above, they have to fear the threats to their lives all around them. You heard earlier a top U.N. rights official warning that famine is just around the corner with the highest levels of food insecurity ever recorded in Gaza. And beyond that, there's also the spread of diseases, a fifth diarrhea cases among children, up 50 percent since just last week, and 90 percent of children under two are now subject to severe food insecurity -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. CNN's Jeremy Diamond in Tel Aviv, thanks for that important report.

Coming up next, a new chapter in a sex scandal that has rocked Republican politics in Florida and come close to Governor Ron DeSantis who is, of course, running for president. But first, and a new look at one of the most remarkable emergency landings. This month marks 15 years since the miracle on the Hudson, and it is the subject of this week's the whole story with Anderson Cooper. Here's a preview.


CAPTAIN SULLY SULLENBERGER, PILOT: In the 208 seconds that we had from the time we hit birds and until we had landed, I knew that I had to take at least a few seconds of that time to make an announcement in the cabin, to tell the flight attendants and the passengers that we were going to make an emergency landing. I said this is the captain, brace for impact. I could hear the flight attendants in the front began shouting their commands at the passengers in unison, brace, brace, brace, heads down, stay down, over and over again. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I sent my husband Steve a text message that was

just one sentence that said my flight is crashing, period. As I was typing it, my seat mate said put it up, he said you are out of time. And that is a sentence that hit me like a ton of bricks. I was like, really, God? At 37? I'm out of time?

I'm not going to be the mother of the bride? I'm not going to see my youngest son hit his home run? I'm not a perfect mother but I am their mother, and to think that I wouldn't finish raising them was pretty hard.


TAPPER: New exclusive interviews with members of the crew and passengers, "THE WHOLE STORY" airs Sunday night at 8:00 Eastern, only here on CNN.



TAPPER: Florida has a currently powerless chairman of the Republican Party, Christian Ziegler, and he is being investigated for video voyeurism. That's when someone videotape another person when they are naked without their consent. This is a just latest chapter in a huge sex scandal in Florida where Ziegler is accused of raping a woman, a woman with whom Ziegler and his wife have allegedly previously had consensual sex.

As of now, Ziegler has not been charged with anything but as CNN's Carlos Suarez reports, he could be forced out of his job on Monday.


CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Christian Ziegler's fate as chair of the Republican Party of Florida is no longer in doubt.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He needs to move on. He needs to resign.

SUAREZ: On Monday, party officials will move to officially oust him. GOP leaders including Florida Governor Ron DeSantis wanted Ziegler out long before this week's revelation that Ziegler may have secretly encountered a woman accusing him of rape. According to a new search warrant affidavit, investigators are looking into that claim in the latest chapter of this ongoing sex scandal. Ziegler who claimed that sex was consensual show detectives a 2-1/2-minute-long video of the October 2nd sexual encounter. The affidavit states, quote, the victim did not give Ziegler consent to take this video. Neither Ziegler's wife or the victim knew anything about this video.

The affidavit also says Ziegler's lawyer told investigators that the woman who had a previous three-way sexual encounter with Ziegler, and his wife, Bridget, asked Ziegler about the video in a message on Instagram, investigators want access to that IG account, according to court documents. Christian Ziegler maintains his innocence and has refused to resign.

He has not been charged criminally in the case, but last month, party officials warn him of all his duties and reduced his salary to just $1.

EVAN POWER, VICE CHAIR, REPUBLICAN PARTY OF FLORIDA: You cannot lead the Republican Party with the charges that are standing in front of him and the admissions he's made in the affidavit. You cannot morally lead the Republican Party forward.

SUAREZ: Bridget Ziegler, who cofounded the conservative group Moms for Liberty, hasn't been accused of any criminal wrongdoing. Since the scandal broke, she parted ways with the conservative nonprofit Leadership Institute but has held on to her school board seat in Sarasota County, even after fellow board members called on her to design telling her the sex scandal is a distraction.

KAREN ROSE, SCHOOL BOARD CHAIR, SARASOTA COUNTY SCHOOLS: It's not about the left, it's not about the right, it's about students.

SUAREZ: Bridget Ziegler, a close ally of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, advocated for Florida's parental rights and education law dubbed by critics as the "don't say gay" bill. It removed discussion of sexual orientation and identity from public schools curriculum. Some parents and LGBTQ activists accuse the couple of hypocrisy.


CARLOS GUILLERMO SMITH, EQUALITY FLORIDA: The hypocrisy comes from their relentless attacks on LGBTQ people, their public disparaging of our families and our communities, while they themselves were simultaneously living this private life. The hypocrisy is just stunning.


SUAREZ (on camera): And, Jake, last month, an emergency meeting of party officials, we're told that Christian Ziegler tried to apologize and defend himself, it is a move that wasn't welcome by party officials. We are told at one point, some officials began heckling Christian Ziegler saying they want him to go -- Jake.

TAPPER: So, Christian's values are not exactly Christian values.

Carlos Suarez in Miami, thank you so much.

Ten days away from the Iowa caucus, one of the biggest conservative donors putting even more money behind one of Donald Trump's Republican rivals. How else the race is kicking into a new gear? That's next.