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The Lead with Jake Tapper

U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Trump 14th Amendment Appeal; Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS), Is Interviewed About U.S. Supreme Court To Hear Trump 14th Amendment Appeal; Biden: Political Violence Is Never Acceptable In The U.S.; Gypsy Rose Blanchard Explains Why She Plotted To Kill Her Mother. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 05, 2024 - 17:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. This hour, a new batch of documents related to convicted dead pedophile Jeffrey Epstein has just been released and includes testimony from a former Epstein employee about the famous and influential people who hung around his boss. Plus, she has been the subject of T.V. dramas for years Gypsy Rose Blanchard, who admits she helped in the plot to kill her abusive mother. After eight years behind bars she is fresh out of prison and talking to CNN.

And leading this hour, just 10 days away from the Iowa caucuses, Republican presidential hopefuls are blitzing the state trying to sway any undecided caucus goers to break their way. And the next hour Donald Trump is set to hold his first event of the day. Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley both spending the afternoon meeting with voters in the Hawkeye State. CNN's Kristen Holmes and Steve Contorno join me from Iowa.

And Kristen, Trump's expected to give a speech at one of his events and in roughly an hour.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake, and we actually just got excerpts from those remarks. Before I go through them, I just want to caveat that we often get excerpts ahead of Donald Trump's speeches. He does not always stick to script, so I'm going to go over what he is expected to say, but obviously, we cannot completely rely on these excerpts. So, he does attack Joe Biden, he talks about his campaign event, he does not talk about the substance of what he said. He does not talk about Joe Biden's argument that Trump is a threat to democracy, instead, he goes up to where the where the event was located.

And he says that the reason why he's essentially talking about this democracy topic is because he doesn't want to talk about the border or inflation or Afghanistan, or all the chaos he has caused throughout the world. Now I do want to point out, this is something that we know that Donald Trump's team is going to be really trying to double down on pointing to how, quote unquote, "chaotic things are in the world." And that's one of their talking points against Joe Biden. This continues on, he says that -- at one point, he says that, again, that he is not the one that is a threat to democracy, but that Joe Biden is a threat to democracy.

And here's an interesting part, he turns now to the primary or to the caucuses, saying that our country is dying, and it's no time to waste your vote on another establishment career politician. But most of this is actually still back on Joe Biden and reads very much like a general election speech starting to fit in here like we are already at the start of a general election. Now we also know one thing he's going to touch on today is trying to urge his supporters here not to be complacent because of those poll numbers. They are worried that people will not show up because of those large margins and they want to get a huge turnout on caucus night. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, we have some breaking news right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: The U.S. Supreme Court has just put down their orders. Let's bring in CNN's Joan Biskupic.

Joan, we're expecting some big announcements from the U.S. Supreme Court. Did we get any of them?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: We just did, Jake. The Supreme Court has just said it's going to hear the appeal of the Colorado Supreme Court ruling that said that Donald Trump should be off the ballot, the Supreme Court has accepted the appeal. It has set out a briefing schedule, and it will have oral arguments on February 8. This is very fast. And there's a chance that they can turn this around, at least by Super Tuesday on March 5, but maybe even by February 11 or 12 when those ballots in Colorado first go out.

So, what's important here are two things, first, the biggest thing here is that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to weigh in and give an answer once and for all whether this 14th -- the Constitution's 14th Amendment Section 3 that bars insurrectionists from ever, you know, holding off, it's again, whether that applies to Donald Trump. But what it did was it did not tell us exactly all the questions they're going to address. It's at least just saying we're taking this case. We're going to hear arguments on February 8, and this really puts the court in play for this 2024 election cycle, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid is with me.

Paula, what can you tell us?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, the court has been under enormous pressure to take up this issue. This question of whether former President Trump is eligible to appear on the ballot, given section three of the 14th Amendment that bans insurrectionists from holding office. This is something that has been litigated across multiple states with differing outcomes. We saw of course in Maine and Colorado, he was removed from the ballot. But even within the state of Colorado, there was disagreement among the courts about whether this applies to presidents.


Now, other states have considered this and opted to keep him on the ballot. States like Michigan and Minnesota didn't get in to the merits of the bigger questions, instead, they decided it on procedural grounds. But this is a constitutional question that clearly demand some clarity from the High Court. And there has been increasing pressure on the court to take up this case. We've seen even over the past 48 hours, more challenges being filed in Illinois and Massachusetts.

And if the court didn't weigh in here, these would continue to proliferate. But this is likely going to be the biggest test of Chief Justice John Roberts' career. This issue is arriving at a court that has been battered by scandals and controversial decisions like overturning Roe v. Wade, he is likely going to try to find a way to decide this case narrowly and build a consensus so that this does not appear in any way to be partisan.

TAPPER: All right, Joan Biskupic, your thoughts about when we're going to actually have these arguments presented?

BISKUPIC: OK, so it will be February 8. And here's a critical thing, the court has not told us exactly what issues they're going to address. So there is a chance that they will never even get to the issue of whether Donald Trump incited an insurrection on January 6. They might not even get to whether Donald Trump is president is covered by this, they have several off ramps that they did not lay out yet. But what the parties will now do, the parties and several, what we call friend of the court, amicus briefs are all going to come in trying to lay out the various options the court can take to settle this once and for all.

Now remember, this is something that states have handled variations on their election law. So the justices are going to have to do something that goes beyond kind of the intricacies of what happened in Colorado, and be clear, and they could either do that, frankly, at the kind of gatekeeper stage to say maybe this is what's known as a political question that the judiciary shouldn't even be part of it at all, that this is the kind of thing that belongs in the legislative branches. That is part of the questions that were presented to it in all the filings that came in this week, Jake. But once they get over that hurdle, there are a couple other threshold questions. But what they have to do is either stop it at the early stage so that it is clear whether states have the authority to block a president from the ballot.

Or if it's the kind of question that actually cannot ever be resolved and has to be handled legislatively, you know, within those kinds of boundaries, or get to the point where they shut it down once and for all and say that section three of the 14th Amendment would not bar Donald Trump, or it does bar Donald Trump from ballots everywhere.

TAPPER: Paula. REID: What's interesting here is timing. Because we know that the one thing that all the parties agree on. Trump or the Republican Party in Colorado, the challengers here is they need to move quickly here. And the Supreme Court can act in days if they want to. But here, they are setting an oral argument.

Now that's notable because that is not something that the Trump team actually asked for. They just wanted this reverse, but there will be an oral argument ahead of that. There is a briefing schedule. There's work that needs to be done between now and February 8 when they'll have this oral argument. I mean, this is moving along pretty quickly, but it's unclear if this is actually going to be resolved related peers that will not likely be resolved for the primaries. The concern there that has been expressed by the parties is that you could have people voting in primaries where they're not sure if their candidate will ultimately be eligible for the general election. But here the Supreme Court is at least granting this request to weigh in on this critical constitutional issue.

And as Joan noted, there are a lot of questions before them. One is whether section three of the 14th Amendment applies to presidents. We've seen even courts within the same state disagree about that. The other question is, well, is it self executing? And should the States be executing this? Is their role for Congress?

Now, interestingly, the Republican Party of Colorado also asked if political parties have a First Amendment right that should be considered here. Now, it's unclear exactly which questions they will or will not answer, but there is likely going to be a lot of pressure to try to decide this narrowly, to try to avoid the question of whether Trump engage in an insurrection and instead focus on the constitutional issues. And possibly this question of, well, who has the authority to execute section three of the 14th Amendment? But this is just one of the big moments in 2024 where all eyes are on the Supreme Court to make a critical decision that could have an impact on the election. We also expect in the next few weeks, they'll also be asked to weigh in on the question of immunity for former President Trump in the election subversion case.

So, again, the Supreme Court is going to have an enormous role in this election year.

TAPPER: So, just to bring everybody up to speed who's watching right now, the U.S. Supreme Court has just weighed in and they will play a role in hearing this case. This is about whether or not, as the Colorado Supreme court declares Donald Trump because he, in their view, engaged in insurrection is banned from running for president because of section three of the 14th. Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, pardon me, which came into being after the Civil War.


So because of the Maine secretary of state who said Donald Trump engaged in insurrection and he's not allowed to be on the Maine ballot, and it is up to the Maine secretary of state in that state, and because of the Colorado Supreme Court, the -- Donald Trump's legal teams ask the U.S. Supreme Court to like weigh in. Is this -- did the U.S. -- I'm sorry, did the Colorado Supreme Court make a mistake or not? And they just laid out a deadline on there will be oral arguments on February 8, Thursday, February 8 on this matter? Did the Colorado Supreme Court make a mistake before then Thursday, January 18? Any friend of the court briefs, anybody wants to weigh in, either for or against Donald Trump can do that. Respondent's briefs are to be filed on or before Wednesday, January 21.

The reply brief is to be filed on or before Monday, February 5. And then of course, the oral arguments themselves on February 8. CNN legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elliot Williams is back with us.

Elliot, what's your reaction to this development? And also weigh in on the schedule, it seems to be a fairly expedited schedule as these things go.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASST. ATTORNEY GENERAL FOR LEGISLATIVE AFFAIRS, DOJ: Yes. So, you know, big picture, Jake. This is all a window into why we have a Supreme Court in the first place and, you know, why the Supreme Court even takes cases in the first place. And there's sort of two big buckets of reasons. Number one, if there is a substantial question of federal law, constitutional law that is just unresolved.

And number two, is there a dispute either among courts of appeals around the country or state supreme courts around an important federal issue. This is the kind of rare case where both of those things are happening. This is a matter of critical importance to the American people upon which there is a major dispute among states, Colorado and Maine are in a different place than other states are. And so, this was a very important case for the Supreme Court to take on.

Now, in terms of the substance, I agree with everything that's been said here that it is very much, I think, probably in the courts interest to try to resolve this in -- as unanimous a manner as they can with getting into the fewest controversial issues that they can. But there are serious issues that need to be resolved here. Like Paula had laid out, this question of whether the president of the United States is a, quote, "officer of the United States," which sounds sort of silly and obvious to us. Of course he is, but that's kind of not what the Constitution says in its language. So what did the framers in writing it intended to mean?

And who decides on these questions of insurrection? These are very difficult, very thorny, very complex, constitutional, theoretical, almost questions that the court has to sort out here.


BISKUPIC: Jake, can I just piggyback on something there?


BISKUPIC: Because, you know, the four of us were just together on your set, wondering about the integrity and stature of the Supreme Court, I think the fact that the Supreme Court issued this order today, when all the filings had just gotten in last night, is already a first step toward trying to get clarity in the law and to -- and recognizes that voters need to know who they can cast a ballot for. So, it's taking -- it's acting quickly, which I think, again, inspires confidence and shows at least that they're ready to take it on and we'll see how they do take it on. But I think in this first step, the chief and the eight associate justices are showing leadership to try to have some clarity in the law at this crucial moment.

WILLIAMS: You know, Jake, I didn't I didn't take up your second question, which was the timeline. And this is a breakneck pace --


WILLIAMS: -- in Supreme Court terms or in any American legal terms. The idea of a matter of being briefed just in days, if not weeks, is very fast. You know, appeals can sometimes take years to resolve, if not at a minimum months, and sometimes years. They are clearly moving with the kind of urgency that isn't common in Supreme Court cases. And I think it's a recognition of how important it is to resolve this however they come out on it.

TAPPER: Yes, oral argument is a month from Monday.


TAPPER: For journalists, that's forever. But for the U.S. Supreme Court, that's like in five minutes.

WILLIAMS: Yes, yes.

TAPPER: And you know, we brought this up earlier, Elliot, at least one of Trump's lawyers believes that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to make a decision that favors Trump. And when she -- and when she said this, she invoked the fact and that, you know, Donald Trump put three of these Supreme Court justices on the bench, on the highest court, take a listen.



ALINA HABBA, LEGAL SPOKESPERSON AND LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: I think it shouldn't 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 present didn't went through hell to get into place, he'll step up, those people will step up not because they're pro Trump but because they're pro law.



TAPPER: I mean, the fact is that people -- for people who don't remember, Brett Kavanaugh was a very embattled U.S. Supreme Court nominee. There were a number of Republicans, including people in the Trump administration who wanted Trump to pull the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to whom he owed nothing, he didn't know the guy. And Donald Trump decided to stay in fight, got the guy on the bench. And here you have his lawyer, Eliott, very nakedly on Fox, which I'm sure Brett Kavanaugh watches, I'm sure Justice Kavanaugh watches, saying, you know, you probably like your job, Brett, right? And you know, Donald Trump got there, he fought for you and, you know, we'll see what you do. I mean, pretty crass.

WILLIAMS: It's a -- that's a great restaurant would be a shame if something happen to it.

TAPPER: Right, right.

WILLIAMS: No, no, I mean, to the contrary, it's -- look, if we were talking about abortion or the death penalty or firearms or matters that are sort of cultural issues around which there is deep partisan divides, of course, you know, I think it'd be fair to predict a conservative leaning Supreme Court to rule a certain way that sort of -- and, frankly, we have years of data suggesting that. You know, the issues at play here, yes, they affect Republican candidate for president and his opponents, but these are not standard right, left issues, these are complex issues of constitutional interpretation. And, frankly, a court that has an interest in preserving its integrity and not appearing too partisan. Just like we were talking about 20 minutes ago --


WILLIAMS: -- after Bush versus Gore, the courts reputation took a hit and I would assume the court does not want that to happen again. And so yes, it's a six three Republicans split. But I -- anybody who can predict what's going on here is a -- should be a far richer human being certainly than I am, and many others.

TAPPER: I mean, I know, Paula, I mean, I have to say like, I think if I had to bet I would bet that this U.S. Supreme Court is going to rule that the Colorado Supreme Court overreached its authority and has no right to do that. But what do you think?

REID: So, one thing, the Alina Habba comment, it was unnecessary and it was odd, because there are so many ways, to your question, for former President Trump to come out on top here and to appear on the ballot despite these challenges. So to make that sort of Mafioso comments about the fact that Trump helped one of the justices get his job, it isn't helpful. It's not helpful to the integrity of her client or of the High Court, because again, on the law, most people think there's a pretty good chance that he will win. Now, how will he win? How will they decide?

Again, there's likely going to be enormous pressure not to get into the question of whether he engaged in an insurrection, but to focus narrowly on constitutional questions about section three of the 14th Amendment and how it should be implemented. And again, to build a coalition, this is the job of the chief justice, to build a coalition so that this decision does not appear partisan. And comments like that from Trump's legal spokesperson, again, it does not help with the perception of impartiality of this court. And it's just an odd thing to say, when your client has such a good chance of prevailing on the merits.

TAPPER: It's odd, except it would be interesting to find out if Alina Habba the freelance that comment or if her client had suggested that she go on Hannity and make that comment. I mean, I don't know the answer to that. But it is in line with the way that Donald Trump --

REID: Yes.

TAPPER: -- and his transactional way of doing business. Thanks to all of you. Really appreciate.

The breaking news on this late Friday afternoon, the U.S. Supreme Court deciding it will he'll hear oral arguments about whether or not Donald Trump should be on the ballot. Colorado, the Supreme Court there said he should not be because he engaged in insurrection. Donald Trump saying that the Colorado Supreme Court overstepped its authority, made a mistake. We're going to have more reaction coming up.



TAPPER: And we're back with breaking news. Late on this Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court says they will hear Trump's appeal on the 14th amendment and whether or not he can be barred from holding office because, according to the Colorado Supreme Court, he engaged in insurrection. My panels with me now.

Scott Jennings, you've heard our reporting, the Supreme Court going to hear Trump's appeal. This will be one month from Monday. That's breakneck speed for the U.S. Supreme Court. Your reaction?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They need to do it because obviously these questions are bubbling up from the states and people need to know who they're voting for. I think it's likely the Supreme Court will rule in favor of keeping Trump on the ballot. I think to do otherwise would probably, I'll echo what David Axelrod said the other day, tear the country apart. And so, it needs to get done, it needs to get settled so the voters can then settle our politics in 2024.

TAPPER: Paul, this announcement comes the same day that President Biden gave his -- a big speech on democracy in how Donald Trump poses a direct threat to democracy in his view. He has not weighed in on whether or not he has an opinion on whether or not Donald Trump should be on the ballot in Colorado, in Maine, et cetera. Do you think there would be an upside for President Biden to say, I think President Biden -- I mean, I think President Trump should be on the ballot until he is adjudicated guilty of engaging in insurrection? I mean, is there a -- would that help -- I mean, that's probably where it's going to go anyway, as Scott notes, do you think there would be a political plus to that?

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I think not. I think in his heart of hearts, I hate to read Joe Biden's heart, but his heart, he wants Trump on the ballot. He feels like, I beat him once I beat him again. But more than that, I think Scott is right, as a political matter, as a politician, Trump has a political problem, he demands a political solution. He needs to be defeated again at the ballot box.

Now, there are -- actually the article I read from Judge Luttig, very noted -- Michael Luttig, conservative scholar Larry Tribe, at Harvard and other progressive, he's a progressive constitutional scholar, it's very tightly argued. I don't care. I honestly, what's best for the country is to have this election. If the Republicans want Mr. Trump on the ballot they should have -- they should have Mr. Trump on the ballot. And I think that's what's going to happen.


Poor court though, justice -- Chief Justice Roberts was -- his head must be exploding to have this comment you just played from Mr. Trump's lawyer, bragging that well, Kavanaugh, you know, he'll be for us because Trump helped him get his job. So the court is going to take a huge black eye for this.

TAPPER: And S.E. Cupp, we can't ignore the fact that the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary will have already taken place before these oral arguments take place.

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, it's important and I think this really plays right into Trump's hands. Trump loves this because, first of all, he loves chaos, he courts chaos, he creates chaos. And second is raison d'etre over the past few years has been to undermine the integrity of our elections to convince his base that they are rigged, that they're rigged against him. And while we can talk about the importance of the constitutional merits of this case, I think to the average voter they think, well, maybe he's right. Maybe, you know, forces are trying to rig it.

So there's -- you know, he loves this. He loves this going into Iowa, he loves this coming out of Iowa. This is a -- this is really helpful for him.

TAPPER: And S.E., we should know, there is also this question of a precedent if the Colorado Supreme Court can do this to Donald Trump, who we should know, whether or not anybody watching thinks he has -- thinks Donald Trump engaged in insurrection, that is not a legal fact beyond this Colorado case. The -- he has not been charged with that by Special Counsel Jack Smith. Certainly Congress is not found that. He was -- you know, he was acquitted when he was impeached for this. And S.E., today, Governor DeSantis on the campaign trail suggested that Joe Biden could be removed from the ballot in Florida. Take a listen.


GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is just going to be a tit for tat. And it's just not going to end well. You could make a case, and we're actually -- I'm actually looking at this in Florida now, could we make a credible case that Biden because, of the invasion of 8 million? And again, I don't think that's the right way to do it.

(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: So, Ron DeSantis is looking into this right now in Florida, whether or not Joe Biden could be taken off the ballot there because of the problem at the border. S.E., your reaction.

CUPP: Because the whole of the Republican Party right now is animated by a politics of revenge, the punitive menace, the punishment, the retribution is what is leading so much of Republican policy and rhetoric. And, you know, you hear that from Trump. He -- I mean, he's promising to get revenge on his perceived enemies if he becomes president again. But it has trickled down to Congress and even state houses, as you just heard from Ron DeSantis.

TAPPER: And Paul Begala, I have to say, I have never -- I've been covering presidential elections now since the year 2000, and I've never seen a presidential election, where there is such an embattled front runner, and everybody trying to wrest the crown from him constantly defends him when it comes to whether it's legal, you know, whether it's, you know, legal charges or criminal charges against him. I've never seen anything like this.

BEGALA: It's true. There are whole field running against Trump, they're so cowed by him, you can hear the move. It's pathetic. If you want to take the crown, you have to hit him. And by the way, my man Joe Biden did that today. We'll get to that in a minute. But DeSantis a little bit better last night, I have to say about challenging Mr. Trump.

Nikki Haley has danced around a bit. Chris Christie has been the only one who has figured out he's actually running against Trump, frankly, hasn't worked out very well for him. So, you know, but if you can't -- if you can't beat him, you have to join him. And so these folks are all trying to have it both ways, and it's not working.

TAPPER: Scott Jennings, last word.

JENNINGS: Well, I -- you know, in defense of the rest of the field, I don't think any of them ever came up with a way to solve the algebra equation of how to run against Donald Trump who was getting rocket fuel from every single engagement he got from the --

TAPPER: Yes, fair enough.

JENNINGS: -- legal system. So they all decided to do basically the same thing, which is defend the guy, and as Paul noted, it hasn't yielded anything other than an increase in Donald Trump's chances of being the nominee.

TAPPER: Thanks to one and all. Next Wednesday will be the last presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses. Ambassador Nikki Haley and Governor Ron DeSantis are going to share the stage. I will be moderating alongside my friend and colleague Dana Bash. Look for the CNN Republican presidential debate live from Des Moines, Iowa 09:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN, and that is Wednesday.

President Biden makes a major speech trying to defend democracy. And the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to take up Trump's appeal to keep him on the ballot. The former chair of the January 6 committee is with us next.


TAPPER: And we're back with our breaking news. The U.S. Supreme Court announcing this afternoon they will hear oral arguments on Donald Trump's appeal on the decision by the Colorado Supreme Court. They are trying to bar him from holding office because he engaged in insurrection, they say. Kristen Holmes is at Trump's event in Iowa for us right now. Kristen, Trump is taking the stage right now behind you. Has this campaign in any reaction to this announcement yet from the Supreme Court?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Jake, they put out any sort of formal announcement yet and excuse me for talking low. He is speaking behind me at this event. It's a very small venue. But I can tell you from talking to advisors, allies, that his legal team feels fairly confident that is or well now that this is going to the Supreme Court that Donald Trump will be on the ballot in all 50 states. They believe that this is one of the cases where they have the strongest arguments.

But I can also tell you that in recent days, Donald Trump himself has expressed some concern to allies, to advisers about the outcome saying that he is worried that some of these justices will rule against him so as not to seem pro Trump and that could include some of the justices that he himself appointed. So one of the things that he is talking about a little bit of a disconnect there, but its legal team does believe that he will be successful in this case whether they're going up to the Supreme Court.


TAPPER: All right, Kristen Holmes, thank you so much. Kristen Holmes live for us covering the Trump campaign in Sioux Center Iowa.

Of course, the U.S. Supreme Court may be considering Trump's actions on January 6th, the man who served as chairman of the January 6th committee is going to join me in a second and we'll get his reaction to the big news, next.


TAPPER: And the breaking news, the U.S. Supreme Court announcing this hour that they are going to hear oral arguments. The Colorado State Supreme Court made this unprecedented decision removing Donald Trump from the states ballot because they say he engaged in insurrection. Donald Trump is now appealing that and the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments. We're joined now by Mississippi Democratic Congressman Bennie Thompson. He was the chairman of the January 6th Select Committee. Let's start with your reaction. What do you think of the announcement from the U.S. Supreme Court and ultimately how do you think they're going to rule?


REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS), FORMER CHAIRMAN, JANUARY 6 SELECT COMMITTEE: Well, let me just say, Jake, that in America we sell our differences primary in courts of law. What you see before the Supreme Court is just how democracy should play out. And so I look forward to the arguments before the court and an ultimate decision. And unlike what happened on January 6th, a lot of us will follow that decision. I just hope that the court gives it a good look. There are some things that are committed, discovered that causes great concern as to whether or not the president was intricately involved in activities of January 6th, that could render him ineligible to run. So I look forward to the court hearing it and an ultimate decision.

TAPPER: The U.S. Supreme Court obviously will have the final word but you are a learned demand. Do you think that Donald Trump engaged in insurrection? Do you think that the Colorado Supreme Court made the right decision by taking him off the ballot because of the 14th Amendment to the Constitution?

THOMPSON: Well, let me say that the work of our Committee, the staff who spent countless hours, the members of the Committee who spent over 18 months looking at information, our report speaks for itself. We believe Donald Trump masterminded a lot of what went on, he's guilty of promoting the insurrection. He caused great harm to the reputation of this country, and threatened the lives of people who worked in the United States Capitol on that day. He has to be held accountable for those activities. He promoted it. No one, even a president or former president of the United States is above the law. And that makes Donald Trump one of those individuals to be held accountable.

TAPPER: Do you think the 14th Amendment to the Constitution which bars individuals who engaged in insurrection from seeking higher office you can debate whether or not that includes the President of the United States? But do you think, A, it does include the President of the United States?


TAPPER: And B, do you think that Donald Trump has met that standard and should be barred from holding office?

THOMPSON: Well, first of all, we sell those differences in the courts like moving. If the citizens of Colorado and their leadership determined that Donald Trump should not be on the ballot, that's the citizens of Colorado. The dispute ultimately will go to the Supreme Court, as we know it's headed. And we will live back that decision.

Now, from the work of our Committee, we made certain recommendations about Donald Trump's conduct on that day and leading up to that day that we feel very comfortable with. New York, the District of Columbia will be addressed and things that are committed, uncovered. But we were not a prosecutorial body. We were basically looking into the facts and circumstances of January 6th.

So here we are close to a three-year anniversary. And the wheels of justice are moving. And so I would say the work of our Committee has a lot to do with what's happening in those different venues around the country. TAPPER: I want you to take a listen to something President Biden said this afternoon in a major campaign speech. He was in Pennsylvania near Valley Forge.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So hear me clearly. I'll say what Donald Trump won't. Political violence is never ever acceptable in the United States political system, never, never, never. It has no place in a democracy, none.


TAPPER: And yet, the threat of political violence seems to be practically everywhere, sir. How do you explain it?

THOMPSON: Well, it's difficult to explain what happened on January 6th -- Donald Trump's speeches around that to explain what's happening right now. People want you to believe that what they saw and what occurred on January 6th, didn't happen. But it did. They want somehow to say in some venues that FBI orchestrated it. Others want to say black lives matter, Antifa. But we found none of that evidence on our Committee.

And so I'm still the eternal optimist about this democracy. I don't think we sell our differences like what you saw on January 6th and are committed produced a document that's irrefutable in terms of facts. What you're hearing in that echo chamber is absolutely patently untrue. And I doubt any of those individuals who are saying to the contrary, to bring the evidence forward. Talk is cheap. We spent a lot of time producing that report. Committee work, speaks for itself. And so Jake, our great democracy depends on its citizens. But that dependence is tied to the truth. Donald Trump is not committed to the truth.


TAPPER: During last night's CNN town hall in Iowa, voters asked Governor DeSantis if the people who attacked the Capitol on January 6th, were patriotic. I want you to listen to his answer.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, of course not. I mean, that was not a good day for the country. I think the media has taken that. And I think the left has taken that and really tried to politicize it.


TAPPER: He's made this argument before, that it wasn't patriotic, but the January 6th was overblown, by Democrats and by the media. You were at the Capitol on January 6th, what do you think?

THOMPSON: Well, you know, we had people defending the Capitol who hurt, some lost in life. Staff, members of Congress, myself included, was held captive for several hours, not able to leave. And for somebody to try to trivialize, it's a shame. We are a better country than what occurred on January 6th. But someone to promote that kind of exercise and try to defend it is a sad day, those folks who take a solemn oath of office to say that they want this country to be the best that they can be and will protect and preserve it, but yet come out with this kind of language, they don't deserve to hold public office. They don't deserve the right to promote patriotism in this country.

So Jake, I'm convinced that in the end, people will speak. There was several hundred people who've already gone to jail for those activities, those several hundred who are in the pipeline to go to jail. They did wrong in America.


THOMPSON: As I told you no one is above the law.


THOMPSON: And those individuals who followed Donald Trump's edicts and broke the law are having to pay. And ultimately one charges over Donald Trump's here, he will have to atone and defend them. And at some point, he will have to suffer the consequences.

TAPPER: Congressman Bennie Thompson, thank you so much, sir. Really appreciate it. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: In our Pop Culture Lead today, Gypsy Rose Blanchard, the woman who plotted to have her boyfriend kill her abusive mother in 2015 is speaking out after serving eight and a half years in prison. Now you might be familiar with Blanchard's story, the stories of her mother forcing her daughter to fake serious illnesses for most of her life had been depicted over the years in various documentaries and T.V .series included -- including 2017 "Mommy Dead and Dearest" on our sister channel, HBO, and "The Act" in -- on Hulu in 2019. Gypsy Rose Blanchard spoke ahead of tonight's debut of a new lifetime docu series with CNN's Elizabeth Wagmeister, where she describes her time in prison as being the first time she tasted freedom.


GYPSY ROSE BLANCHARD, RELEASED AFTER SERVING 8 YEARS FOR SECOND DEGREE MURDER: All right for that one week and I'm enjoying my new freedom.

ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gypsy Rose Blanchard smiling and free. Released on parole after serving eight and a half years of a 10 year prison sentence. Blanchard pleaded guilty to second degree murder in 2016 after she and then boyfriend, Nicholas Godejohn, hatch to plan to kill her mother, Dee Dee. Godejohn admitted to stabbing Dee Dee to death. He's serving a life sentence without parole. WAGMEISTER: Do you feel that the time that you served was justified for your role in your mother's death?

BLANCHARD: You know I did something wrong. OK. And I take accountability for that. I acknowledge that. I did my time.

WAGMEISTER (voice-over): Blanchard's journey from childhood to now release convict is one of trauma, deception, murder, and ultimately, a new marriage and independence. Her harrowing story documented and an upcoming series on Lifetime.

BLANCHARD: My mother controlled everything I did. I was forced to use a wheelchair. She started telling people that I had cancer. But none of it was true.

WAGMEISTER (voice-over): Gypsy was the victim of a rare disorder called Munchausen syndrome by proxy in which a caregiver in this case, Gypsy's mother, Dee Dee, fakes, exaggerates or induces illness in a child to gain attention.

BLANCHARD: I started to feel like it was either her or me.

WAGMEISTER: Do you think if it were just you, would you have been able to go through with this act of killing your own mother?

BLANCHARD: Absolutely not. I think it's very important for people to understand that I was brought to a breaking point. I could never kill someone. And so in a desperate situation, I had asked this request of Nick and thinking that I had no other option out.

WAGMEISTER: What do you think that your life would look like today if your mother were still here?

BLANCHARD: I would still be under this medical abuse that I was going through. I don't think that there would have been an end in sight for me. I honestly think one of two things would have happened either she would have eventually got caught but too late to save me or I would have been killed from all of the medical malpractices, the surgeries, the medications, all of that takes a toll on a body especially if you don't need the medications or surgeries.


WAGMEISTER (voice-over): Despite her mother's decades' long victimization, Gypsy says she actually forgives her mom.

WAGMEISTER: Now if your mother were here today, what would you tell her, Gypsy?

BLANCHARD: I would say that I understand, like I see her in the way that she was not an evil woman. She was not a monster. She was just a sick woman and she would have needed a lot of mental health care. I see her for who she is now or who she was.

(END VIDEOTAPE) WAGMEISTER: Jake, Gypsy Rose has amassed over 6 million followers since her release just one week ago and she tells me that with her newfound platform, she is hoping to help others who are experiencing childhood abuse. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Elizabeth Wagmeister, thank you so much for that report. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: Coming up Sunday on State of the Union, former Vice President Mike Pence will be live from Israel with us. That's Sunday morning at 9:00 and noon at -- only here on CNN. The next Wednesday, of course, the very last presidential debate before the Iowa caucuses and the first actual votes, Ambassador Nikki Haley, Governor Ron DeSantis are going to share the stage. I'll moderate alongside my colleague Dana Bash. Look for the CNN Republican presidential debate live from Des Moines, Iowa at 9:00 p.m. Eastern only here on CNN.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM". I will see you Sunday morning.