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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump Falsely Claims Biden Set Up Legal Cases Against Him; Haley & DeSantis Skirt Debate Question On Trump's Character; Asa Hutchinson Will Be Part Of Iowa Caucuses In Bid To Contrast Trump; Chis Christie Critiques Haley & DeSantis On Hot Mic; DeSantis, Haley Call Each Other Liars In Last Debate Before Monday's Iowa Caucuses; First Lady Jill Biden Blasts GOP Probe Of Hunter Biden; Relatives Of Israeli Hostages Plead For Their Release 96 Days After Hamas Attack; House GOP Yet To Release Full Interview Transcripts Related To Impeachment Inquiry Into President Biden; Alabama's Nick Saban Retires, Belichick Parts Ways With Patriots, Pete Carroll Out With The Seahawks. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 11, 2024 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: He's accused of not paying more than a million dollars in taxes. The court appearances Republicans keep trying to connect Hunter's financial dealings to his dad, the President. Plus, two football Titans calling it quits after 24 seasons and six Super Bowl titles, Bill Belichick says goodbye to the New England Patriots and after 17 seasons and six national titles, Nick Saban retires as Alabama's head coach. We're going to talk about it with Bob Costas, a legend in his own right.

And leading this hour, the 2024 race is closing in and we're down to just four days before the Iowa caucuses. But instead of being in Iowa, the Republican front runner, Donald Trump, was in court using his civil fraud case to grandstand before the judge set him down. And fresh off last night CNN debate today, Ambassador Nikki Haley and Governor Ron DeSantis campaigned in Iowa as did former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, who is trying to sway any possible votes their way.

And joining us now, Republican presidential candidate, Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas.

Governor Hutchinson, thanks for joining us. So, I want to get your response to something Donald Trump just said outside the courtroom in his civil fraud trial against him. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: My legal issues, every one of them, everyone's civil, and the criminal ones are all set up by Joe Biden, crooked Joe Biden. This is something that's never happened in this country. Even the civil ones, this is civil, this set up by Biden. Every single just about case that I'm involved in is set up by Biden. They're doing it for election interference. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Now, obviously, there is zero evidence that President Biden had anything to do with the civil suits or the prosecutions by the federal government, etcetera. But you're a former federal prosecutor, what's your response when you hear President Trump say that?

ASA HUTCHINSON, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, it's offensive, it's wrong. And once again, he's misleading his supporters, and giving them anger at our system of justice when there's not any justification for this particular case. Now, sure, there's complaints about one or more of the cases that they shouldn't have been brought. But in terms of this one, it's a civil fraud case, no connection with the President of the United States. And then here, you have a businessman accused and found guilty of dealing dishonestly in his business services.

Let me tell you, that would disqualify most candidates for the presidency. You've got that compounded by a jury of the peers finding in a civil case that he committed sexual abuse. You've got for criminal cases that are pending against him. All of this should be a warning sign that this is a person of poor character. And that should have been answered very clearly last night on the debate that he -- his character does not justify election to presidency of the United States.

TAPPER: Well, let's get to that because when Chris Christie, the former New Jersey governor dropped out of the race yesterday, one of the things he said was that character is the most important issue. And he suggested that one of the reasons he ran is because he was afraid other Republican presidential candidates wouldn't be willing to criticize Trump and point out, in his view, his lack of character. I asked Governor Haley and Governor DeSantis about that. Take a listen.


TAPPER: Do you believe Donald Trump has the character to be president again?

NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I agree with a lot of his policies, but his way is not my way. I don't have vengeance. I don't have vendettas. I don't take things personally. For me, it's very much about no drama, no whining and getting results and getting them done.

So, I don't think that President Trump is the right president to go forward.

GOV. RON DESANTIS, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I appreciated what President Trump did. But let's just be honest, he said he was going to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it. He did not deliver that. He said he was going to drain the swamp. He did not deliver that.


TAPPER: Governor Haley also said that the next president needs to have moral clarity. She suggested that President Trump didn't tell, though, she didn't state it outright. What was your response when you when you heard their answers?

HUTCHINSON: That the answer is a simple no. That's not complicated. It doesn't have to be explained. It's a no, he doesn't have the character to justify being president of United States. It's not the character that we want to see whenever he misleads his supporters, whenever he has been mishandling our classified, our national secrets.

Whenever you look at the fact that he brought people to Washington, D.C., and the result was an attack on the Capitol and most importantly, he says today, that those are patriotic acts. He's undermined the rule of law. He's undermined law enforcement. And that was an attack on Congress as well. So, none of that reflects the character of someone we want to lead our nation.


That should be a simple answer last night just like the one that you asked on whether you believe with his constitutional views or not, the simple answer is no.

TAPPER: The latest Iowa poll, the Iowa caucus in four days, has you had less than 1 percent support? Obviously, polls are not votes. But what percentage of the vote do you think you need to win on Monday in Iowa in order to keep your campaign going?

HUTCHINSON: Well, Jake, everybody has counted me out of this race. And yet, I believe it's nine candidates have dropped out, we're still in there. And we have an opportunity. There's always a surprise in Iowa, I want to be that surprise. And the key is just beating expectations.

And as you defined it, those expectations are low. But we're going through 30 different cities leading up to the caucus, it's our return to normal tour. I'm going to be traveling in the snow today for another meeting up into Cora, Iowa. And so, I believe that we can beat expectations here.

And the fact that now I'm the only candidate in this race that talks about the experience of securing the border, the only candidate that actually has experience in dealing with fentanyl and the opioid abuses, in terms of my responsibilities as head of the DEA, so I bring that experience. But I also am the only one in this race that has not promised a pardon during this campaign to Donald Trump. And I think that distinguishes me, it doesn't get me everybody's vote. But there is an avenue there for people who believe that we're headed for real serious trouble next year if Donald Trump is the nominee, because it could bring our party down and we could lose in 2024.

TAPPER: The -- when Chris Christie dropped out of the race yesterday, he didn't endorse anyone. He didn't endorse you, he didn't endorse DeSantis, he didn't endorse Haley. What was your response to his dropping out? And if you do not end up going the distance, will you endorse either DeSantis or Haley?

HUTCHINSON: Well, we're going to take that a day at a time. And any candidate that is quality and realistic, evaluates the status of the campaign every day. And my next evaluation will be after the Iowa caucus, I believe I'm going to exceed expectation. We've already got a flight booked to New Hampshire and a day of campaigning there on the 17th. And so we're ready to go.

But I'll evaluate it and you know, if Iowa tells me, you don't have a path here and insufficient support, we'll look at it. As to whether I endorsed another candidate, that day remains to be seen.

TAPPER: Former Governor ASA Hutchinson, thank you so much. And good luck to you.

Let's talk about all this. Asa Hutchinson hanging in the race, Donald Trump using his legal problems to push his campaign, how all of this might weigh on Republican voters in Iowa who in four days will determine the direction of this race. Our panel is going to break it all down after this quick break.



TAPPER: We are back with our 2024 lead. We're just four days away from the first contest of the presidential election. Iowa voters are preparing to caucus on Monday. Forget the polls, forget the pundits, it's all up to them. So let's talk about what we think they might do.

Doug, do you believe what you just heard from former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson about why he's staying in the race for the Iowa caucuses? Do you think what he's saying is justified? Or do you think he should bow out?

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, I think a whole lot of what he said was true about where he diagnose the problems. But the reality is, if Chris Christie felt that he had to get out of the race, Chris Christie had, depending on the poll, eight to 10 to 12 times the support that Asa Hutchinson did.

Look, he was a good governor for Arkansas. He's a good man. But if he wants to influence what's going to happen, he should get out and he should back somebody as Chris Christie should have last night.

TAPPER: Are you surprised that so few -- I'm trying to think of the people who have dropped out, how many of them have endorsed anybody, and I actually can't think of anybody. Have any of them going on to a --



TAPPER: -- Will Hurd is doing work for -- is helping Nikki Haley. But that's the only one I can think of.

ALLISON: Well, yes, because they still think Donald Trump might win. And they don't want to necessarily say they're supporting Donald Trump. But they surely don't want to put their weight on the scale for DeSantis and Haley in the event Donald Trump becomes the nominee and God forbid he becomes the president, they want to cabinet position or still want life in the Republican Party.

HEYE: Or they don't want the IRA focused on them if they had gone in a different direction. Think of how many Republican members of Congress and senators haven't made endorsements, despite the fact that Trump has a massive lead in most of the polling.

ALLISON: I also wonder, do they feel like they have any influence in the party at this point? Like a Tim Scott, I think when he dropped out of the race, so many people were expecting him to endorse someone. I was surprised he didn't endorse Donald Trump as soon as he dropped out and he's kind of just disappeared like, where is Tim Scott, other than in the Senate? So, I wonder if they feel like they even have any influence in this party right now and they just assume it's Donald Trump all the way.

TAPPER: It's just unusual, right?

ALLISON: It really is.

TAPPER: I mean, usually they'd -- people drop out. Usually, at least a chunk of them will endorse --


TAPPER: -- somebody.

HEYE: Right.

TAPPER: Doug, right before he dropped out, Former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was caught on a hot mic talking about DeSantis and Haley. Take a listen.


CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: She's going to get smoked and you and I both know it. She's not up to this.

DeSantis called me, petrified I would --


TAPPER: And then it got cut off. I assume that he's saying DeSantis was petrified that he was -- that Christie was going to endorse Haley, because that's the only thing that DeSantis could possibly be petrified about when it comes to Chris Christie. What do you think?

HEYE: You've interviewed Chris Christie dozens of times if not more than that.


HEYE: Chris Christie runs to cameras with the enthusiasm as the Kool Aid man. And we've never heard of a hot mic moment for Chris Christie. This was not a mistake. Chris Christie doesn't make mistake. [17:15:03]

TAPPER: Oh, you think it's purposeful?

HEYE: Absolutely. We know that he was -- we know now that he didn't endorse anybody so he takes two shots, one at DeSantis, one at Haley before he gives his speech. And then his speeches, I'm pure and virtuous, everybody else is terrible.


TAPPER: Yes. And while -- and we should note that Ron DeSantis tweeted, I agree with Chris Christie, Nikki Haley is going to get smoked. So he at least took part of it.

ALLISON: Yes. But he was glad that conversation got cut off, so we didn't hear the rest of the sentence. Look, Chris Christie is a trash talker. I'm not surprised like that's --

TAPPER: He's from Jersey, ma'am (ph).

ALLISON: He's from Jersey, yes.


ALLISON: I wasn't surprised that that's what he was saying. I mean, it's interesting. I thought -- I do not agree with Chris Christie. I'm mostly anything policy related. But I thought his speech was very, very strong and important.

And he didn't just call out the candidates, he called out people up and down his party in the House in the Senate for siding with Donald Trump, calling people hostages from January 6, I thought it was important and strong. And I hope he continues to do it. I hope Asa Hutchinson, in the race, out of the race continues to hold the feet to the fire and making sure people are taking Donald Trump to test (ph).

HEYE: I nodded along with a lot of what Chris Christie said last night. But the reality is, what he did in his speech was he identified a lot of what the very obvious problems are. I didn't hear one offer of what a solution might be. And I think that's part of the where the Republicans find themselves.


HEYE: They don't know how to go forward if they can't find the solutions. The problems are easy to diagnose if you're willing to do so. Christie has been a truth teller, for sure.


HEYE: But he hasn't been able to actually diagnose what some of those solutions would be.

TAPPER: Well, I mean, Republican leaders and Fox and others, not lying would be a good start. I mean, like not providing Donald Trump a safe space to repeat his lies so he can avoid a debate. I mean, these are some ideas.

ALLISON: But I guess my question, I hear what you're saying, Doug, because I was listening to the speech and I was like, OK, but Christie, they're not voting for you. So you've trashed everybody in that speech. So who is the candidate is still in the race? He was trying to get Nikki Haley and DeSantis to be honest, potentially at the debate you moderated last night, but we see they are not. So, where do voters go if they aren't going to get to vote?

TAPPER: I want to play some --

HEYE: Well, he goes to no label.

TAPPER: I want to play some -- I want to play some sound of Haley and DeSantis, who spent more time attacking each other than they did the front runner. Take a listen.


DESANTIS: We don't need another mealy mouthed politician who just tells you what she thinks you want to hear.

HALEY: He's upset about the fact that his campaign is exploding. Every time he lies, Drake University, don't turn this into a drinking game because you will be overserved by the end of the night.


TAPPER: What do you think?

HEYE: This is what we've seen all campaign long is Donald Trump, he's not been at these debates, he's not really talked about, they've sharpened some of their rhetoric around them, but this has been the Ron versus Nicky show or the, you know, Ron versus Chris show or Vivek and all of this. This is how they've campaigned, and it's why we haven't seen significant movement in the numbers because they've reinforced Donald Trump's messaging from his first indictment on. It's very hard for Republicans to find a place to go if they own people who are running against Donald Trump won't give him that place.

TAPPER: Yes, Ashley, I want to get your comments about the remarks made by the First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, on the investigation by House Republicans into her son, Hunter Biden. Take a listen.


JILL BIDEN, FIRST LADY: I think what they are doing to Hunter is cruel. And I'm really proud of how Hunter has rebuilt his life after addiction. You know, I'm -- I love my son and it's had -- it's hurt my grandchildren.


TAPPER: She has not spoken much about this. Why do you think now?

ALLISON: Well, yesterday was -- TAPPER: Yes.

ALLISON: -- pretty iconic television. Watching him walk in and say if you have questions for me asked me, I am here. And then when they continued the charade and, you know, when you get Nancy Mace saying white privilege, you know, you've turned the page in the record book. So, she's been consistent. Well, the family has been consistent in supporting Hunter Biden and his journey for recovery and I don't think they're going to change.

TAPPER: Ashley Allison, Doug Heye, thanks so much for being here. Appreciate it.

For 96 long days, their loved ones have been held by the terrorist group Hamas. Their families have been begging for the world to listen to do something, anything to help. The father of one hostage will join me right after this break.



TAPPER: Today, relatives of hostages held by Hamas gathered near a border fence to try to shout messages to their loved ones still trapped in Gaza. The Israeli government believes that Hamas is holding 107 hostages, still thought to be alive from the October 7 attacks. Several of them are American.

Joining us now is Shlomi Berger. He's the father of 19-year-old Agam Berger. We should note as difficult as this is to see and to share. Hamas propaganda footage did include an image of a Agam, that's her before she was kidnapped on the left and after on the right. It's important to see the treatment by Hamas of this 19-year-old girl who's now been in captivity for 96 days.

Shlomi, I cannot imagine what this is like for you and your family. I have a young daughter, a 16-year-old daughter, it would just be absolute torture. How are you and your family able to cope during this agonizing wait for her return?


SHLOMI BERGER, FATHER OF HOSTAGE: In Israel now it's midnight. For us midnight doesn't mean anything because we don't go to sleep about 02:00 or 03:00 a.m. in the morning, every day. Wake up for the night and then -- I don't know where to start, I wanted to tell you. I don't know where it's my daughter. I have no idea.

No -- I have no idea about them, physical or emotional state. It is extremely -- it is extremely difficult as a father to feel helpless and not have any way to know where is my daughter. We know Hamas use sexual violence against women, young woman and only woman. She's a young woman. And as a father, I can't bear the thought she is in the hands of these monsters.

I have more -- three more children, Agam is a twin sister. And another two -- one -- another sister, another brother. The family is torn part. My kids, you see walking around in the house, they know that -- they don't know what to do with themselves all day. Some of them go to school, but I know that they just go over there. They don't --


BERGER: -- get anything in their head.

TAPPER: What is it like for you and your family to see the Israeli government on trial before the International Court of Justice for alleged genocide while Hamas continues to hold your daughter and others captive? What is that like?

BERGER: As we said in Israel, the world went crazy. I think people don't understand. We don't want to understand what happened here. There's been an -- second holocaust in Israel. We have 136 kidnap people inside Gaza.

Four hundred that -- how can people talk about crimes when this is a situation in Israel?

TAPPER: Are you --

BERGER: I don't understand it.

TAPPER: Are you --

BERGER: Things happen on the world, nobody speak on them.


BERGER: Because why? Because we are Jews? I don't know what's happened here. It's unacceptable for me. People are talking about crimes when the most moral army in the world handled with the most sophisticated -- not sophisticated, the most horrible place to war to -- in Gaza.


BERGER: It's a terrible place to make war in inside houses. We tried to keep the citizens. And they talk about us, they say crime wars. I don't understand it. It's -- I can't accept this.

TAPPER: I have -- I've talked to other families of hostages who have expressed frustration with Prime Minister Netanyahu focusing more on attacking Gaza, attacking Hamas in Gaza and being more focused on that than on rescuing the hostages. How do you feel?

BERGER: I'm not a diplomat. I'm not an army man. I don't know what is the right thing to do. And I don't -- they don't want to be in my place. And I don't want to be in their place.

And when they need to -- and they need to make an exception. What will they do? Get to war or not get to war. This is a crazy situation. I know one thing. I don't want to speak about Netanyahu and the policy because I don't understand it policy. I know my daughter is over there 100 days in Sunday. And I think except Netanyahu, the USA government can do many things to help us. The government helps us but there is another few things she can do. And the most important thing that the USA can do is make pressure on Qatar. Qatar is the founder of Hamas. They gave him money, the money instead of building schools and take care of the population, we saw what with -- what they do with the money. So I want to say make pressure on Qatar.


BERGER: Qatar is the player. It's the most important player. They can stop everything. They can make Hamas stop the situation. Bring back the hostages.

TAPPER: Yes. We want Agam back.

BERGER: And everything can make, it's -- this is the most important thing I can say about this. Look at this girl.

TAPPER: Yes, we're looking at her right now.

BERGER: She loves to play the violin. She loves traveling the world. She's at the age to go to, you know, college. This is a college girl, college girl.

TAPPER: Shlomi Berger --

BERGER: One hundred days.

TAPPER: -- it's not fair. It's awful. I cannot imagine what you're going through. But we're going to continue. We're going to continue to cover the hostages until they're returned. Agama is beautiful and I'm sure brilliant. And next, when she's back with you, please come back and talk to us when she's back in your arms. Thank you so much for talking to us today. I know it's not easy to do.

BERGER: Thank you. I appreciate it that you gave me a stage to speak. And with your help, we will make it. We need you to help us to finish these horrible things that are happening here.

TAPPER: Yes. Thank you so much. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: In our Law and Justice Lead today, just over an hour ago, Hunter Biden, the president's son, pleaded not guilty to nine counts of tax evasion in California federal court. Here he is seen leaving court in an SUV. Prosecutors say Hunter Biden owed $1.4 million to the government from 2016 through 2019. He didn't pay it. Instead he was using supporting a lavish lifestyle. A judge set a trial date for this June.

As House Republicans tried to connect President Biden son's financial dealings to President Biden, this week, the House Oversight Committee is interviewing more of Hunter Biden's business associates behind closed doors, including a New York art dealer on Tuesday. And after eight of these interviews, the Committee has only released two transcripts, despite pledges of transparency from the Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, including last month right here on THE LEAD.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: We've been transparent. Every deposition in the history of America has been done in closed doors. But we released the transcript.


TAPPER: We're still waiting for all of the transcripts to be released. Let's bring in CNN Capitol Hill reporter Annie Grayer. So Annie, Hunter Biden's lawyers have said they don't want to do this private testimony behind closed doors as is normally done. They want to just do public testimony, they say, because they say House Republicans will leak damaging quotes out of context. And that just wouldn't be fair. Now Republican chairman -- Congress says they would never do such a thing. What's the reality?

ANNIE GRAYER, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: The reality, Jake, is that commerce policy of what transcripts he releases and what he holds on to is not consistent of the eight trans interviews that the Oversight Committee has done as part of its investigation to the Biden family. They've only released two of them, the rest have just been selective leaks, which is very different. They have leaked it out. There's been some statements and summaries of some of the interviews that have occurred, which is very different, though, than releasing the whole transcript in full forever -- for you and I to go through. And this is something that Democrats made a huge issue about in the hearing yesterday. Take a listen to some of what they had to say.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD), RANKING MEMBER, OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: Why don't we just give the people the transcribed interviews? We talked about transparency and accountability, that's the dominant theme of this Committee. Isn't that something we can agree to?

REP. DANIEL GOLDMAN (D-NY), OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE: If it is generally the practice of an investigator to withhold all of the transcripts during the investigative phase, would that normally also include releasing two of them?

COMER: Honestly, we released those two transcripts, because you had misrepresented so much what Devon Archer said.


GRAYER: So Democrats raised that yesterday because that's part of the argument, as you mentioned, why Hunter would not sit for a closed door deposition. That's how we got to where we are now, which is Republicans holding Hunter in contempt. And Hunter and his team have maintained, look, I will come in and talk publicly just the way that you've handled transcripts makes me nervous about what could go on behind closed doors and how the information could potentially be manipulated.

TAPPER: You said you referred to leaks and statements going to I assume that's going to like right wing media, like I didn't see anything. I mean, we would I'm sure report stuff and who did they go to, who do they leak to?

GRAYER: You know, the statements are made generally to a lot of the press and the -- but the bigger issue was at Comer is going on air and talking about these interviews without the press getting a chance to look at the full transcript. And look, Comer said he's going to release all of these transcripts and there is precedent for committees to wait until the end of their investigation.


TAPPER: Sure. Of course.

GRAYER: I mean look, the January 6th Committee been waiting until the end of their probe to release all the transcripts at once. The issue, though, is the inconsistency of it choosing to release some transcript right away and hold on to others. Because you and I both know the stakes of this investigation is extremely high. And right now it's fallen short. Republicans have not proven that the President has done anything wrong.

And so when Comer is out there preaching transparency to you and others, you know, the question is why he's not practicing that in the way that he's releasing his transcripts and what are they hearing from all these witnesses.

TAPPER: Yes, I mean, if he's going to talk about the -- what the content of the interviews, they should just release the transcripts, that makes sense. Annie Grayer, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

Joining us now is a member of the House Oversight Committee, Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman of New York. Congressman, the January 6th committee, as Annie just pointed out, didn't immediately release all the transcripts. So if Chairman Comer does have a plan to ultimately release all of the transcripts, at the end of the investigation, would that be acceptable to you?

GOLDMAN: Well, not the way that he's gone about it. The January 6th Committee also did not talk about what the different witnesses said. And the problem that Hunter Biden has identified is twofold. One, they are selectively releasing transcripts. So the notion of doing an investigation and keeping everything private has been thrown out the window by their own actions. Devon Archer is their most important witness, according to Jim Jordan, and his transcript is now public.

So what is the actual rationale for not releasing the remaining ones? And then the other problem is that they consistently misrepresent what the witnesses say, excuse me, in their closed door depositions. They did it with Devon Archer. And now the media and every all the public has been able to see how much they lied and misled the American public about what Devon Archer said.

And Hunter Biden's point is, listen, I don't want you to control what you release, and what you say about what I said, I want to speak directly to the American people. If you want to do deposition style in public, do a deposition style. If you have all these questions and documents, do it in a public hearing. But I do not want you to twist my words, to cherry pick and to mislead the narrative to the American public. I want to answer your questions, your allegations directly to the American public.

And he's perfectly justified in insisting on doing that, because James Comer offered him to do that and because of the bad faith that the chairman and the Republicans have operated them.

TAPPER: What do you make of Hunter's chaotic stunt at the House Oversight Committee hearing yesterday for people who don't know, it was supposed to be I think, a vote on whether or not to hold them in contempt of Congress. And he showed up? And you see basically, underlying the lie of where's Hunter because there he is. Doesn't this strategy run risks, though? I mean, it made the controversy surrounding him worse for Democrats and President Biden in some way because it just made it a bigger story and more of a circus, instead of you know, President Biden, the news about President Biden being about his reelection campaign or, you know, manufacturing jobs or low unemployment?

GOLDMAN: Sure, I certainly understand that concern. But I think the point is, is very important that he's making and he made it when he appeared at the Capitol on the date of his called for subpoena and when he showed up yesterday, which is to say, I'm not running away. I'm not hiding. I'm not trying to avoid testifying. I'm not trying to obstruct your investigation. I am eager to answer your questions.

And I am here in the same hearing room where he would testify. I am ready to testify. And it is the Republicans who refuse to take his testimony. It is not Hunter Biden, who refuses to give it. And the irony of the Republicans passing an impeachment resolution, ostensibly because they say they need more evidence, while they are also rejecting evidence from the most critical witness available to them who's willing to give it should not be lost on anyone.

TAPPER: Democratic Congressman Dan Goldman of New York, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

GOLDMAN: Thank you.


TAPPER: I've been looking forward to this conversation all week. Veteran sports commentator Bob Costas is here. Next his take on Nick Saban and Bill Belichick leaving football after their legendary career. Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) TAPPER: Our Sports Lead now, dramatic changes to the worlds of college and professional football and just the last day decorated NFL Head Coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots parted ways after 24 seasons and six Super Bowl wins, not seven of course, the Philadelphia Eagles won that one. Pete Carroll considered the winning as head coach for the Seattle Seahawks yanked from the sidelines. Alabama's Nick Saban retiring after seven career national championships, the most by a head coach at the NCAA football's highest level ever.

Three very successful football coaches moving on ending an era and perhaps altering the sports as we know it college and professional football. Joining us now, CNN contributor and legendary commentator Bob Costas. Bob, what do you make of these changes and how might it impact the game going forward?

BOB COSTAS, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, leaving Pete Carroll aside for a moment no disrespect intended. There's a certain symmetry here with Saban and Belichick on the same day, because each is in arguably the greatest of his era in their respective categories. There's no disputing that Belichick is the greatest that the very least greatest NFL Coach of the last couple of decades and you can make a very strong case for him as the best all time. The same is true about Nick Saban in the college ranks.


Now if we're talking about all time, then there's bear Brian. And there's Bear Bryant and there's Woody Hayes and, yes, Joe Paterno and going way back there's Bud Wilkinson and Knute Rockne at Notre Dame, et cetera. But I think you could only make perhaps as good a case for them against Saban. Saban without question the best of his time and maybe the best of all time, same thing true of Bill Belichick, you make a case for Vince Lombardi or for Bill Walsh, or for Chuck Noll, and a handful of others and the eras are different and the circumstances are different.

But I don't think you can make a better case for any of them than you can for Belichick. So again, Belichick in arguably the best of his time, and perhaps the best of all time, the difference though is it appears that Saban is done. It does not appear that Belichick is done that he's moving on. And there's at least half a dozen maybe seven I lost track openings now in the NFL for a head coach, and it's almost certain that Bill Belichick will fill one of those openings.

TAPPER: Where might he go? Where do you think he's most likely to go?

COSTAS: Well, you know, when you think about two of the openings, Atlanta and Seattle, the most painful losses in their history both came at the hands of Bill Belichick and the Patriots. Seattle's on the goal line and they have a pass intercepted, or they would have won back to back Super Bowls. So that's a painful one for Pete Carroll. I don't know if Seahawks fans could swallow Bill Belichick showing up and reminding them of that. And even worse for the Atlanta Falcons who led on a Super Bowl over Brady Belichick and the Patriots 28 to three, and the Patriots came back from a 25 point deficit won in overtime. I think and I'm not claiming to have the greatest level of expertise here because I'm not as close to it as I once was. But from the outside, it looks like the Chargers are the best bet because they have good personnel. And they have in Justin Herbert, a very, very good young quarterback who is in place already and they have some good personnel Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack on defense. Belichick can't go to a team that has to rebuild.

Now the Charges were five and 12 this year, but they lost a lot of games by one score. So they're close in some respects so that appears to be a possibility.

TAPPER: It's difficult to overstate how important Alabama football is to the people of Alabama. Kaitlan Collins, our anchor, is a huge Alabama fan. And she was -- her dad is also an Alabama fan. And he was -- they were talking yesterday about where he was when he found out Bear Bryant was retiring and comparing it to how Kaitlan was feeling now finding out that Saban was retiring.

Football players purposely go to Alabama because of him, because of the coach. But Following his retirement, there's at least one five star wide receiver who has now decommitted from playing there, Saban's latest contract with the school was set to run through 2030. Why do you think he called it quick quits sooner?

COSTAS: Well, he says and it's completely believable that while his team had an excellent season, came very close right down to the end against the team that ultimately won the national championship. Michigan in the semi-finals, they were very competitive right to the end, that he didn't quite have the same level of energy that he once had. He didn't feel that he could do this to the level of commitment that he once had.

And he also felt that if you're talking to recruit, recruit wants to know, are you going to be here, coach? Are you going to be here for the next few years? Then on top of that, you have the changing landscape of college football with name, image and likeness and the transfer portal, which makes it more difficult even if you do a good job of recruiting and even if you are an institution like Alabama makes it more difficult to hold a team together.

Saban had a long term contract that went to the end of this decade for a whole lot of money, so he could have stayed. It makes me believe that this is permanent that he's stepping aside permanently and has to be content with a mere seven national championships, one at LSU and six at Alabama.

TAPPER: It is NFL wildcard weekend of course, who are your picks to come out on top and ultimately who's your Super Bowl pick?

COSTAS: Well, the Ravens look like the strongest team in the entire league. The 49ers went through a tough stretch during the season, but they seem to have bounced back and they hold a top spot in the NFC. So that's the chalk it's the easy and obvious thing to say. But Ravens, 49ers could reprise a Super Bowl, in which Jim Harbaugh probably headed back to the NFL after winning the national championship in Michigan, was San Francisco's coach coaching against his brother John Harbaugh.

The Ravens won that Super Bowl over Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers. John Harbaugh is still the coach of the Ravens. You got all that?

TAPPER: Yes, I got it. And thank you for not bringing up my poor Eagles. Bob Costas, thank you so much, always good to see you sir. Yes, indeed.


COSTAS: All right, Jake, take care.

TAPPER: Next, saying goodbye to a throwback on this throwback Thursday. Is that still a thing, Throwback Thursday, is that gone too? Be right back.


TAPPER: Yikes, no more stripes. The end of a gum era in our Money Lead, as the iconic Fruit Stripe gum is being discontinued. The zebra print treat has been sold since the 1960s. It came in five flavors, wet and wild melon, cherry, lemon, orange and peach. Although some fans of the gun will tell you that, it lost flavor about three seconds after you put it in your mouth.

Each pack also came with a temporary tattoo of its mascot. Yipes, the zebra, the company behind Fruit Stripe says you might still be able to find it in some stores before it sells out one last time. You know, it was delicious but honestly flavored disappeared after three seconds of chewing.


You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, X, formerly known as Twitter and on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can follow the show on X at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen to the show once you get your podcasts, all two hours just sitting there, like a delicious, long lasting piece of Fruit Stripe gum.

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION". See you tomorrow.