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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Hutchinson Speaks To CNN After Dropping Out Of Presidential Race; Trump Attacks Haley White Referring To Her By Her First Name, Nimarata; Trump Complains About Judge In Defamation Trial; GOP Candidate For North Carolina Gov. Supported Banning Abortions Without Exceptions, Now Avoids Saying The Word; Youngest Hostage, Kfir Bibas, Turns One In Captivity; Vermont State Trooper Rescues Girl Who Fell Into Icy Water. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired January 17, 2024 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Plus, a change in tune, North Carolina's second highest ranking elected official and possible candidate for governor used to be all in on being against abortion. Now he won't even use the word abortion. Why not? Well, let's see what CNN's Kfile team found when going through his public statements.

And leading this hour, only six days away from the next contest in the 2024 race, the New Hampshire Republican primary. Three major candidates remain. Governor Ron DeSantis is wrapping up a day of events in the Granite State, Nikki Haley will hold a rally there tonight ahead of her new CNN Presidential Town Hall in New Hampshire tomorrow night. And Donald Trump is also expected to head to New Hampshire after spending the day in court in New York.

Let's bring in former Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson for his very first TV interview since he ended or suspended his 2024 campaign for president. He finished sixth in the Iowa Republican caucuses. Governor, I want to start with the fact that the Democratic National Committee put out a rather snarky statement about you suspending your campaign, saying this news comes as a shock to those of us who could have sworn he had already dropped out.

A number of Democrats actually objected to this pointing out that you have actually been out there telling the truth about Donald Trump and standing up for democracy. And I understand that President Biden's Chief of Staff, Jeff Zients, called you today to apologize.

ASA HUTCHINSON (R), FORMER ARKANSAS GOVERNOR: Well, that's correct. And of course, I didn't pay much attention to what the DNC said but it's actually gratifying to see a bipartisan rebuffing of this snarky tweet as you say or comment. And to me, it's just doesn't reflect the best of America whenever you have ridicule or sarcasm that is leading the path. And so, I'm grateful for Jeff reaching out to me today and took his time away, and he apologized.

And I -- it meant a lot to me. And to me, that reflects the good parts of American politics. You fight hard but then at the end of the day, you want to make sure you treat each other with respect. So I appreciated the call.

TAPPER: You were the only major candidate left in the race after Chris Christie dropped out, who was staunchly critical of former President Trump candidacy. Frankly a throwback to an early -- your earlier era, the Republican Party did not ultimately gain traction with Iowa Republicans. Donald Trump won 51% of the caucus vote. It's groundbreaking, that's never happened before. Has Trump changed the Republican Party forever?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I hope not. Certainly, he's redefined the Republican Party, both in terms of policy and also in his image. And actually, that's one thing that I observed during the course of his campaign is the stranglehold that Donald Trump has on the apparatus of the Republican Party, both at the national but also in many of the states and movement -- having some have moved to caucuses, so.

And then now, you see many of the Republican members of Congress and senators falling in line. So there's a brave few that say, no, that's not the right direction for us. And in Iowa, that message didn't work. And I think what happened toward the end, you saw a movement back toward Nikki Haley, as she was the most logical alternative to Donald Trump.

And so, I think that's one of the reasons that we came out of there poorly, and of course necessitated my suspension of the campaign. But hats off to those that won and are continuing to campaign in New Hampshire.

TAPPER: So just to talk about the Republican electorate for a second. CNN entrance polls show that a vast majority of Iowa Republican voters believe the lie, that Biden lost the 2020 election. It's not true. I mean, it'd be like if this was not polled for but it'd be like if two thirds of the electorate said Obama was born in Africa or the moon is made of green cheese. I mean, it's just not true.

A vast majority also say if Trump is convicted of a crime, that's fine. He's not unfit for the presidency. Republican Senator Mitt Romney said today that this shows many voters are "out of touch with reality," do you agree?

HUTCHINSON: Well, that's why I ran into a brick wall in Iowa that I spoke very clearly that I don't believe January 6 was a patriotic act. I don't believe, you know, Donald Trump disavowing the attack on the Capitol is realistic and he's misleading his supporters. And yet you see people believe in that and so I give them the hard truth and that is not something that wins votes some time. But it is important in terms of the party and winning in 2024.


So I think they really are not now recognizing the risk for the Republican Party and our chance of winning. I don't believe that that necessarily will be the case in New Hampshire. I think New Hampshire is going to be a little different look and more difficult. But this is a challenge, and it's a battle that's worth continuing to fight on because it reflects the direction of the Republican Party in the future.

TAPPER: Are you ready to endorse a candidate, either Nikki Haley or Ron DeSantis? Do you think one of them is better suited to take on Donald Trump?

HUTCHINSON: I have not made a decision on any endorsement. I think it's going to be a good battle there in New Hampshire and let's see how that plays out. There might be a role for me to play down the road. At this point, I'm not making any endorsements. But I'm really pulling for someone to be the nominee other than Donald Trump, because that's critical for the future direction of my life. But also, most importantly, it's been good for America and the Republican Party.

TAPPER: If it comes down to Biden versus Trump in the fall, who will you vote for?

HUTCHINSON: Well, I'm counting on that not being the case. And you think about it, that's the race that no one wants. And it doesn't reflect well of the two political parties, if that's what we give America, exactly what they do not want. And so, I will be working that there is an alternative voice that's out there. It's not going to be me in the Republican primary, but there's others that are out there, and we're pulling for them.

And I do believe that this dynamics will change next year, as more facts come out, a greater realization of the risk to their party through the convention and beyond if we want to win in 2024. So, Jake, it's going to change. It's going to change and I think I'll be able to support the Republican nominee when it's all said and done.

TAPPER: OK. Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson, thanks so much. I appreciate it. Good talking to you.

Let's bring in our panel. Kate, what do you make of his optimism that Donald Trump's not going to be the nominee?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you know, I wish there were more people like Asa Hutchinson in the Republican Party, were willing to call Trump out on his lies. I wish I shared his optimism that Donald Trump was not going to be the nominee, I don't really see a path to that --

TAPPER: So you would rather have Nikki Haley be the nominee even if she poses a bigger threat to Biden?

BEDINGFIELD: Personally, I would. And the reason for that is that I think that Donald Trump is a uniquely existential threat to the country. Now, we could talk about what a Biden Haley matchup looks like. I actually think Joe Biden would ultimately defeat Nikki Haley, because I think her position on abortion, and many other issues would not be palatable in a general election. I think once she got into a general election, she wouldn't look as strong as she may be right now with moderate voters.

TAPPER: But you would rather have a more normie Republican at the top of the ticket, even if that increased the likelihood that Biden lost? BEDINGFIELD: Personally, yes. I would because I think Donald Trump is that big a threat to democracy. I think he has co-opted the base of the Republican Party in a way that is incredibly dangerous. Look, in the end, I obviously think that Joe Biden is going to best any Republican in the general election matchup.

But if you're asking me personally, as somebody who cares about democracy as somebody who's obviously a partisan Democrat, obviously somebody who loves Joe Biden and wants to see Joe Biden have a second term, I would still rather see Donald Trump off the playing field because I think he's that dangerous,

TAPPER: Dangerous to the country.


TAPPER: Not dangerous to Biden.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes, exactly.

TAPPER: Kristen, former President Trump in the social media posts refer to Nikki Haley by her birth first name, Nimarata. He misspelled it but I don't think that's really even the point. She is obviously the daughter of Indian immigrants to the United States, surprise, surprise.

Nikki Haley said yesterday, this is not a racist country, and I guess we could all debate whether or not it ever was or is, or etcetera. But that's just seems to be blatant race baiting by Donald Trump. Hey, remember she's not really Nikki, she's Nimarata.

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: From the guy that brought you conspiracy theories about Barack Obama's birth certificate. I mean, in some ways, it's almost surprising that it just took this long for Donald Trump to get there. Maybe it's because he didn't see Nikki Haley as a big threat until now, and now he kind of does.

But it's gross, it's terrible. It's why Republicans ought to nominate someone else and why it's such a shame that it seems like they are unlikely to do so.

TAPPER: He also posted this on social media. It's an image of Nikki Haley as Hillary Clinton with Hillary H. as the Haley. I guess, those wondering if she's going to be tapped to be his vice president in the Haley campaign should put those --


SOLTIS ANDERSON: Yes, that's unsettling, doesn't -- unsettling use --

TAPPER: It's not a nice image.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: -- generative AI. However, that, I would say, is an attack that while Nikki Haley would push back vehemently and say, no, that's not fair. That's actually not -- TAPPER: No, no. That's within bounds but -- it's within bounds. Yes, it's not an attractive image but it's within bounds of politics, certainly. But all I'm saying is for anyone who thinks that Nikki Haley is holding back because she wants the VP nod or would be willing to ultimately take it. That's certainly an argument Chris Christie was making.


TAPPER: I think that makes the point that she's not going to get it now.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: Well, I push back a little bit.


SOLTIS ANDERSON: First of all, I don't think she's holding back because she wants to be VP. I think she is continuing to try to thread a needle, where she wants to be the alternative in a party that still very much likes Donald.

TAPPER: Right, absolutely.

SOLTIS ANDERSON: But I also think secondarily, there are a lot of people that Donald Trump has said terrible things about who wind up, ending up on sides with him. Just take a look at Senator Ted Cruz of Texas, who I believe within the last 48 hours, has come out and endorsed Donald Trump. Pretty sure he had some pretty nasty social media posts about Ted Cruz.

TAPPER: In fact, let's queue the 20-minute montage of things that Cruz and Trump have said about each other. I'm just joking. I'm not going to do that. But you could do that. I mean, literally Donald Trump went after Ted Cruz's wife, literally he went after Ted Cruz's father and said he had something to do with the JFK assassination.

And by the way, those posts are still up. He never took them down. Ted Cruz yesterday proud to endorse Donald Trump.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes. I mean, this is the ugly underbelly of Republican politics right now. I mean, it's, you know, to quote Joe Biden, who often says, you have to know what you're willing to lose over. And you know, for Ted Cruz, apparently having a Donald Trump insult his father, his wife, apparently that's not worth losing over.

So at the end of the day, this is a political calculation, pure and simple. It's not a flattering one for Ted Cruz, or anybody who is taking the brunt of these very personal attacks from Donald Trump. And then turning around and saying, this is the guy I think should be.

TAPPER: Well, maybe he's just trying to improve the average of when his endorsement came. Because remember, he didn't endorse Trump at the Republican convention. So ultimately, that endorsement came late now he's doing it early, averages like normal time.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes, exactly.

TAPPER: Nikki Haley not doing a debate. I think ABC News had a debate that was supposed to take place tomorrow night with Ron DeSantis. And Donald Trump obviously never shows up for debates, but do you think that was a mistake by Nikki Haley?

SOLTIS ANDERSON: Probably not. If only insofar as the debate that you moderated, I didn't feel like she or even Ron DeSantis really came away from it, having gained anything. They have already emptied their full canons of this is all the bad stuff I have to say about my opponent. They've been asked a lot of questions already about their records.

I always like opportunities for candidates to be heard by voters. But in this case, strategically, I feel like they've said a lot of what they needed to say on stage with one another. If Trump or Biden's not going to be there, I get the count --

TAPPER: Well, after ABC canceled the debate, we announced we're doing a town hall so she'll still get a chance to be heard by voters. Kate, the pro-DeSantis super PAC never back down, is laying off staff, including for its Super Tuesday operation. His team with no small sense of irony, they need Trump to win New Hampshire, right? Because Nikki Haley wins, then all of a sudden you can make the argument it's a two person race.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes. I think that's probably true. Although I will say I'm not sure there's really an outcome that looks good for Ron DeSantis moving forward. I'm not sure I'm not really sure how he --

TAPPER: We got to interrupt you., I'm sorry. Donald Trump speaking right now after spending the day in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case against him. Let's take a listen to what he had to say about the court today.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Thank you very much. I appreciate it. I'll stand a little bit closer. Do you need that close here? Thank you. Whenever you're ready.

Well, thank you very much. So, as you know, the first lady's mother passed away, the funeral is tomorrow and we would have assumed that for a trial like this. It's not an emergency in terms of timing. The judge would have been very nice. It would let me go because I want to be at every trial day, because I saw what happened to the first one where I was asked not to go by the lawyers very much.

They said it's demeaning. There was no evidence, there was no anything. And so I didn't go. And I understood exactly what he meant when he said it was demeaning. There was no reason to go and you shouldn't go. And I decided on this one, same judge, same judge. He's a radical Trump hater. And I said, I will go to all days.

So what happened very terribly is we asked to just delay the trial for one day so I could go to the funeral tomorrow. And then, we could start Friday or Monday, or any time they want. And he said absolutely not.


The trial will go on just as it is. You can go to the funeral or you can go to the trial, but you can't do both. I thought it was terrible. I thought it was terrible. So he would rather have me miss the funeral, or go to the funeral, miss the trial and that's a nasty man. He's a nasty judge. He's a Trump hating guy. And it's obvious to everybody in the court.

It's a disgrace, frankly, what's happening. It's a disgrace. Happens to be a Clinton appointment, but I'm sure that has nothing to do with it. So that's as to that.

Second order of business, I'm leaving right now for New Hampshire. We're making a big speech up in New Hampshire. We just got a poll in that shows me leading by a lot. And I think we'll do there, may be similar to what we did in Iowa. The difference is that in New Hampshire, they allowed Democrats to vote, for whatever reason, in the Republican primary. They also let Independents vote in the Republican primary. So that is a big difference.

But we have a nice journey. It's going to take place in about five minutes when I'm finished with you people. I'll be leaving for New Hampshire, in other words, right after this. And then as to the trial today, it was a very interesting day. As you probably noticed, it's a big story that the witness today, the person I never knew, I never had anything to do with. It's a totally rigged deal. This whole thing is rigged, election interference.

But this is a person I have no idea until this happened, obviously. I have no idea who she was and nor could I care less. It's a rigged deal. It's a made up fabricated story. Well, they found out today that she got rid of a lot of evidence, as you probably notice. He did get rid of massive amounts of evidence. And in addition to that, she had a rifle or gun, because she said she bought gun bullets or rifle bullets, and was the opposite, I guess, of her gun.

And was it licensed? No, it wasn't licensed. So I guess she's got a difficult problem. That's going to be her problem, but she has a gun or a rifle. She didn't really explain which she might have both, because she said she bought rifle bullets and it's totally unlicensed. So I assume that's a problem.

But the judge was protecting her. He didn't want to go there. We don't want to go there. We don't want to go there. If that were me, there'll be a different story. But with her, the judge is totally protective of them. And frankly, anybody in that court would see it. Frankly, it's a disgrace. It's probably one of the reasons our country's going to hell.

So the big take today was that she deleted and destroyed massive amounts of evidence. And we think that both trial should be thrown out because it's ridiculous. They should be thrown out. And I, frankly, am the one that suffered damages. I should be given money given damages. And that's where that is. And with that being said, I'm heading out to New Hampshire. Thank you very much for being back here.

Thank you. Thank you very much, everybody. Nice to see you.


TAPPER: All right. You've been listening to former President Donald Trump speaking in New York after testimony wrapped for the day in the defamation case against him which we covered earlier in the show. Trump continued his attacks against the judge, whom he and his lawyer both sparred with in court today. He attacked or tried to attack the credibility of E. Jean Carroll. Carroll was asking for more than $10 million after a jury already found Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming her and awarding her $5 million.

Let's bring in CNN legal analyst Elie Honig. Elie, your reaction. Did you hear him say anything that could be used against Trump? I have to say I am not an experienced lawyer. I'm not a lawyer of any sort. But I've never heard anyone rail against judges case after case, after case, after case like former President Trump.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, Jake, to your first question, could any of that be used against Trump? Of course. He continues to attack, defame E. Jean Carroll. Everything he just said, that can be played in court tomorrow if the plaintiffs want to do it.

I do want to correct two things that Donald Trump said here. First of all, he called Judge Kaplan "a radical Trump hater." I appeared in front of Judge Kaplan dozens of times, probably hundreds of times, if you add it all up. The man is apolitical. I had no idea until Donald Trump said it just now. I didn't even know what President appointed Lewis Kaplan to the bench.

He shows no political bent either way. He is a professional. And by the way, worth noting, all federal judges from the Supreme Court on down to the District Court, they all have life tenure. They don't need to please anyone or play any politics. That is just a completely unfounded attack on Judge Kaplan.


The other thing that Trump did was he basically said again, I never had anything to do with E. Jean Carroll. He can continue to deny that if he wants, but legally the posture we're in is that the first jury resulted in a verdict against Donald Trump and a $5 million finding. And in this case, it's already been established legally, that Donald Trump did do what E. Jean Carroll accused him, of he did defame her. There was a sexual assault.

So really the only question here is damages. So his comments about E. Jean Carroll are contrary to what juries have already found it and what the law would say.

TAPPER: All right. Elie, thanks so much. Let's bring in CNN chief legal affairs correspondent Paula Reid, who was at Trump's news conference just now. Paula, your takeaway from what you just heard. It had been billed as a press conference that he was going to take questions, but he didn't take any questions.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Jake, I was going to take issue with the description of this as a press conference and said this was a statement, two cameras a bit of a mini monologue before he heads up to New Hampshire. Look, I mean, the return on investment for him for showing up here in New York, because he goes into court. He and his lawyers sort of refused to abide by the rules that apply to everyone else, either the legal rules of evidence, or just the rules of decorum not being disruptive when there is a witness on the stand. And then he comes before the cameras and argues that the system is unfair, that this judge is "deranged."

So this is the political message that he wants to send. And this is how he's using his time. He could be in New Hampshire, he could be on the campaign trail, but instead coming to New York to really try to amplify this argument that he's somehow the victim of an unfair judicial system. And what we saw today is just he and his lawyers refused to follow the rules that anyone else would be asked to abide by, especially in a federal courtroom.

TAPPER: And, Paula, I'm wondering if he said anything else that is worth fact checking. Elie bringing up the idea that the Judge Kaplan, in Ellie's experience, is actually apolitical. Mr. Trump said something about E. Jean Carroll destroying evidence. Is that true? Is there anything else that we need to correct as is Mr. Trump's wants?

REID: Yes. I believe what he was referring to there was under cross examination, E. Jean Carroll was asked about some of the messages, some of the threats that she received in the wake of Trump's denials about her allegations. And she did not keep all of them. She deleted some of them. So I believe that is what he is referring to.

Now, when it comes to evidence, well, this is all about damages, right? The trial was back in the spring. And during that trial, the jury found that he sexually abused E. Jean Carroll and defamed her, and awarded her $5 million. Right now we were just talking about damages related to a 2019 statement. So in terms of the evidence being presented, everything speaks to the harm to her reputation, the fear that she felt.

So I guess this is evidence of damages, but it's only she was out destroying evidence. She just didn't keep some of the many, many threats that she received on social media.

TAPPER: Yes, all right. Appreciate it, Paula Reid. CNN's Kristen Holmes is in New Hampshire. She covers the Trump campaign for us Trump is scheduled to head to the Granite State next. Kristen, do we expect a repeat of this at his campaign event tonight?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, generally he does talk about his legal issues. But I do want to point out a couple of things that I heard from the political side during that speech. One, being that Democrats can vote in New Hampshire primary. This is something he has been saying as he's been watching the poll numbers of Nikki Haley's rise, seeing them get closer and closer. He has continued to say that Haley is recruiting Democrats to come out and infiltrate the Republican primary.

And just to make very clear, Democrats cannot vote in the Republican primary in New Hampshire. Independents and registered Republicans can. Now they do believe this is partly why Nikki Haley's polls are rising, because Independents don't all identify as conservative. There are also left leaning Independents, but his team is keenly aware of that.

The other thing to point out is this idea that he is leading Nikki Haley in the polls by a huge margin. That is incorrect from every advisor that I have talked to. They are working very hard to try and stop her from having any momentum, something that Donald Trump knows and has continued to say on the campaign trail that he is attacking her going after her on multiple fronts.

Now, I do want to point out that one of the things he said in his speech, I guess, is what we're calling it, was that the judge would not stop the trial or delay the trial because of his wife, Melania's mother's funeral. We should point out that this is all voluntary. He does not have to be in court. He is choosing to be in court. Part of this is a campaign strategy.

There is a reason that he set up a press conference or remarks after he was in court. And that is because as we know, there were no cameras in court. This is a way for him to take control of the media narrative as well as take all the oxygen out of the 2024 race. That is why he is using these court appearances, and that's what we are told by advisors that they are maximizing this. So that's something else to note here.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks so much. And speaking of the great state of New Hampshire, I'm going to head there and moderate a new CNN Town Hall with Ambassador Nikki Haley in New Hampshire ahead of next week's primary there. That's tomorrow night at 9:00 PM Eastern only here on CNN and streaming on Macs.

Next here on "The Lead," that showdown at the border between the Biden administration and the state of Texas, and a fight over a city park in Eagle Pass Texas. Will the feds take action at the end of the day as promised? We're going to go live to Eagle Pass next.



TAPPER: In our National Lead, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, just responded to a cease and desist request from the Department of Homeland Security, saying Texas "will not surrender" in its border standoff with the Biden administration. And then it will continue to block US Border Patrol from accessing part of the US- Mexico border in Eagle Pass, Texas.

Last week, as you may recall, the Texas National Guard seized control and fenced off a park in Eagle Pass, blocking US-Border Patrol agents from entering. Department of Homeland Security had wanted access restored no later than close of business today. Rosa Flores is there in Eagle Pass. Rosa, what else did Attorney General Paxton have to say? ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Attorney General Paxton is double down and saying that Texas is not surrendering. Let me show you what he means. We just got access to Shelby Park. This is thanks to the Texas National Guard. And you can see how Texas is doubling down on these efforts. What you're seeing are members of the Texas National Guard reengineering ways to make sure that migrants don't cross into Shelby Park illegally. You can see them deploying some razor wire up there.


And if you look my way, you can see that they have staged also some fencing that is going to be added to this side of these containers. And according to the Texas National Guard, this is to reinforce these barriers to make sure that the illegal crossings don't come this way. Now, the Rio Grande is just on the other side of these containers that you're taking a look at.

Now, what makes this so extraordinary, Jake, is that this is the state of Texas, doubling down on not allowing Border Patrol to enter this area. According to Texas National Guard, Border Patrol has access to a boat ramp that's nearby. But other than that they don't have access. That is the big battle that's going on right now in regards to access to this area. Now, to the big question, does this stop illegal immigration, everything that you're seeing here?

The answer to that is, no. According to a law enforcement source, some of the numbers of migrant apprehensions in this area, the ebb and flow, they've been up, they've been down. But what smugglers are actually doing is they're circumventing this entire area completely. And they're pushing migrants to cross illegally further up river, Jake. And this is in a residential area. I talked to one of the residents there, confirmed, indeed, that they're seeing large groups of migrants enter that area illegally.

Again, they circumvent this area where you see all this razor wire and fencing and still enter the United States illegally. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Rosa Flores in Eagle Pass, Texas, thanks so much.

Coming up, what CNN's KFILE uncovered when he tracked the comments about abortion from the Republican front runner for governor in North Carolina, the current Lieutenant Governor what he's saying now sounds nothing, nothing like he did just a few years ago. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our Politics Lead, as we head to the November elections the Republican front runner for North Carolina's governor's race appears to be changing his tune on his past support for abortion bans with zero exceptions. Listen to the way Lieutenant Governor Mark Robinson talked about abortion between 2020 to 2023.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LT. GOV. MARK ROBINSON, NORTH CAROLINA: For me, there is no compromise on abortion. It makes no difference to me why or how that child ended up in that womb. That child deserves his life.

While other people will tell me, don't say abortion is murder. Guess what? Abortion is murder.

Now, bullshit, you all know how I feel about abortion. I want North Carolina to be the most pro-life state in the nation. Hands down.


TAPPER: But now according to CNN's Investigative Team KFILE, the Lieutenant Governor avoid saying the word abortion at all. Let's bring in KFILE senior editor Andrew Kaczynski. Andrew, why the change?

ANDREW KACZYNSKI, CNN KFILE SENIOR EDITOR: Well, it's because abortion has become such a losing issue for Republicans. And Robinson says now, he doesn't want to talk about it anymore. But our team found a time. And again, Robinson voiced support for the harshest anti-abortion laws without exceptions for rape or incest. He compared it to slavery and genocide. He said that women who end pregnancies, even after just 24 hours, were murderers and called abortion providers, the butchers of humanity.

Now, Jake, the backdrop to all of this is that Robinson now says he never said he supported banning abortion without exceptions for rape or incest. He's sort of toned down his rhetoric and said that he favors bans, but supports exceptions for rape or incest in there, and he's also even admitted that he himself paid for an abortion for his wife, who was then his girlfriend in the 1980s, which is a decision that he now says that he regrets.

TAPPER: And Andrew we should know that this is hardly the Lieutenant Governor's only controversy.

KACZYNSKI: Well, that's right. It's far from the only controversy for him. We previously reported that he mocked some of the teenage activist from the Parkland shooting in 2018. He called them spoiled little bastards and prostitutes because of their gun control advocacy. Robinson was very, very against those gun control activists, very pro- gun. And he said that he opposes the civil rights movement. He said that it caused people to lose freedoms and even speculated that the founders of Planned Parenthood and the anti-abortion or pro-abortion movement were witches. Take a listen to this.


ROBINSON: They were witches, all of them.


ROBINSON: They were witches. And I have no doubt, it would not shock me one bit if they were not satanists involved in witchcraft.

(END VIDEO CLIP) KACZYNSKI: So we did reach out to his office, we asked about those clips. They didn't respond on any of the things he said. But they said he now supports a so called heartbeat bill which is typically an abortion ban of six to 10 weeks with exceptions for rape and incest.

TAPPER: We should also note that he is been in the past a Holocaust denier and has attacked Jewish bankers. I mean, he's been pretty anti- Semitic very openly so in his social media posts in the past as well.

KACZYNSKI: Yes, that's right. He has a history of a lot of controversial statements. I don't know the particular ones that you were referencing. But time and again, this has come up with him were things that he said on his Facebook, in speeches, on social media has now, again, we just see it because he's running for governor. And he's trying to moderate his rhetoric.


TAPPER: Well, he's not the nominee yet. Andrew Kaczynski, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

After more than 100 days of Hamas holding hostages in captivity, one man has four family members still being held, including the very youngest hostage returns one-year-old today, and that man joins me next.


TAPPER: Back with our World Lead, Israel believes 105 hostages are still alive in Gaza and at least a third have chronic illnesses that require medication. Just moments ago, an IDF spokesperson said he cannot guarantee that medicine reaches those hostages despite news of this deal brokered by Qatar. Hamas apparently agreed to do it as long as Palestinians in Gaza also get aid, at least 1,000 boxes of medicine for everyone to the Israelis. Four of the hostages are members of the Bibas family. They were kidnapped by Hamas terrorists on October 7t from the kibbutz Nir Oz. Parents, Yarden and Shiri, four-year-old, Ariel, and Kfir whose first birthday is today.


Jimmy Miller, a cousin of Shiri Bibas joins us now. Thank you for joining us. We're seeing images of a sad celebration of Kfir's first birthday at kibbutz Nir Oz. What is your message to the world as Kfir turns one while being held by Hamas?

JIMMY MILLER, COUSIN OF BIBAS FAMILY: OK, so first of all, good evening from Tel Aviv. I think that as Aza could be nice, like Tel Aviv if there was, you know, human persons over there. OK. What am I thinking? So actually, I'm thinking that it's very, very bad that a child that have only one years old is captivicate (ph), anything the, you know, in Gaza, Kfir Bibar is not the enemy of the Hamas. The Hamas don't have any rules, you know, any rules even from the Quran because in the Quran, you cannot do damage to kids, you cannot do damage to animals, you cannot do damage to all people and you cannot do damage to a womans. So the Hamas breaks all the rules of the Islam. OK. So yes, it's very, very sad that his first birthday it's over there in Gaza. I don't know if even Shiri know that it's the day of his birthday. We don't know if the -- if she knows the day that he needs to celebrate his birthday. Probably they don't, you know, celebrate it somehow over there. And we are very, very sad, all the family about the situation of all the hostages and about the situation of our family.

TAPPER: What's your reaction to the news of a deal that supposedly will allow medicine to get to the hostages? And do the boys, Kfir and Ariel, do they need any medication?

MILLER: Of course, Ariel have atopic dermatitis in skin. In Israel all the time gets a creams and things like that, and Kfir, you know, he's a small, small baby. He probably needs vitamins, he needs his formulas, he needs, you know, anything that a small kid needs, you know, like diapers, like cream for his teeths that growing right now. And it's terrible to know that they don't get it until now.

TAPPER: Does --

MILLER: I really hope that the Hamas, you know, get it somehow and bring them to them this, you know, minimum thinks that they need.

TAPPER: Does this announcement --

MILLER: And if you are asking me --

TAPPER: Yes, go ahead. I'm sorry.

MILLER: OK. If you are asking me about the medication that he get, I will not believe to nothing before that I going to see that they really get the medication. And we don't know who's going to bring them the medication if they're going to change the medication if they're going to give them, you know, plus on medication and not real medication. And, you know, the situation that I get from here from Israel before 103 days, it's not the same situation that they are right now the people over there.

The people right now over there are very, very, you know, skin, they are very sad. They probably have a, you know, many, many others, you know, they are sick and many, many other things, not the same like they was sitting that when they been over here in Israel.

TAPPER: It's been --

MILLER: So it's been a completely different situation.

TAPPER: It's been more than 100 days since your family members were kidnapped from kibbutz Nir Oz. Tell us what you miss most about your cousins.

MILLER: I miss to see them laughing. I miss to see them hiding, running, doing funny things, you know, running in the kibbutz. Send us a nice pictures of the holidays that they celebrate. You know, I would like to see the first steps of Kfir walking. I would like to see the first teeth, you know, growing. We like to see many, many things that we cannot see it and we don't know what the situation. We don't have any conditions and any proof about nothing about them.

TAPPER: Do you think that the Netanyahu government --

MILLER: And it's very, very sad.

TAPPER: Do you think the Netanyahu government is doing enough to get the hostages home?

MILLER: I think that he tried to do the enough things to bring them home. But, you know, the Hamas say things that Israel are very tough and he makes -- he tried to make everything complicate and that's the situation. Every time that we are start to dealing something with them so they want more. And, you know, so it's very, very difficult to negotiate with them.


It's -- they are very, very problematic these guys, you know, the things you can, the prove is the things that they make over here, you know, in the same day so you can see that they are not humans if they was human, so they should understand that they make a big, big mistake in the same day and they can say sorry somehow but they don't know to say sorry and they don't want to say sorry. They start and they begin to make the same things that they make before.

TAPPER: Jimmy Miller, thank you so much and we say happy birthday to clear in captivity.

MILLER: It's not so happy, you know, it's not so happy because we don't know really the situation. But we really hope that everybody over there in the United States that they have a little bit power against the world. They will start really moving something so we can get our hostages back at home as soon as possible because every day over there it's, you know, it's going to kill them.

Every day we have less and less and less hostages over there. And, you know, I think that in every other country in the world if the Hamas was exist over there and he was making these things as didn't exist in 24 hours, you know, any other country in the world was -- as I was disappeared from the map, just disappeared from the map.

TAPPER: We honor the --

MILLER: -- you know, we are different.

TAPPER: We honor the sad birthday of Kfir, the sad birthday. You're right it's not a happy birthday.

MILLER: It's very, very sad birthday I think. The most -- I think that is the most sad birthday in all over the world in all the times, in all the times because Kfir Bibas is the most captivicate (ph) kid in all over the world there was never in the history kid that, you know, nine months goes to the captivity. It's the first one. And, you know, the Hamas make it in now any other countries see that the Hamas make it so they can make it too.

TAPPER: They should be set free.

MILLER: If it's happened one time, it can happen more times?

TAPPER: Yes. They should be set free right now, set free right now. Jimmy Miller --

MILLER: As soon as possible. And I'm calling -- well, I'm calling over here from the President, Mr. Biden, please do all the best to free all the hostages and my family please.

TAPPER: Thank you --

MILLER: -- do all the best that you can make.

TAPPER: Thank you Jimmy Miller.

MILLER: Thank you very much.

TAPPER: We'll be right back.

MILLER: Goodbye.



TAPPER: In our National Lead and something of a good news story for you today, a dramatic rescue on a frozen pond in Cambridge, Vermont. The body camera video looks disturbing but please know, this all ends well. The little girl here is rescued and makes a full recovery. Here's the video from one month ago today. Two girls fell through the ice into freezing water. A homeowner nearby saved the six-year-old but could not get to the eight-year-old.

The homeowner called 911. And Vermont State Trooper Michelle Archer arrived without hesitating. She dove in the freezing waters to save the eight-year-old. And that Vermont State Trooper Michelle Archer is with me now. Trooper Archer, thank you so much. Do you know how long the eight-year-old girl had been underwater before you got in there? Or did you just get there and go?

TROOPER MICHELLE ARCHER, SAVED GIRL FROM FROZEN POND: I basically just, you know, got there and went. It took me about four minutes to get to the scene. Before that, I don't know how long she'd been in there.

TAPPER: The video is remarkable to watch. And rather, it kind of makes me cold just looking at it. When you arrive at the pond what was going through your mind?

ARCHER: You know, at that point, I wasn't entirely sure what the situation was that we had. I came in contact with a homeowner who said there was still you know, a child in the pond. And at that point, something just took over and I just acted. I knew we had to get her out of there as soon as possible.

TAPPER: What was it like diving into that freezing pond? Have you ever done such a thing before?

ARCHER: You know, I grew up on Lake Champlain. So there were many early springs we'd been in the water but nothing, you know, as high stake as this.

TAPPER: Have you spoken to the family? Do you know how the two girls who fell into the pond are doing firsthand? We've heard their -- we heard they're doing OK. But I'm wondering your firsthand conversations if you haven't.

ARCHER: We haven't yet. I think it will be in the near future. But, you know, everyone keeps telling me they're doing great. And that's the best that we could've hope for.

TAPPER: What's your reaction when you watch your own body cam video?

ARCHER: There was a lot of things that I didn't remember or didn't notice at the time. I don't remember feeling the water being cold. But as I watched my video and as others can, you know, hear my breathing change. So there were small things like that, that I didn't quite notice in the moment.

TAPPER: You're in Vermont. I'd imagine kids use or I know kids use lakes and ponds to play on all the time. You grew up on Lake Champlain. Is this something that state troopers or law enforcement and EMTs up there have to train for? I would think that incidents like this happen more often than they should.

ARCHER: I wouldn't say we specifically trained for this type of event or call. But I think a lot of our training, you know, we can use a lot of the training that we have.


TAPPER: Yes. Go ahead.

ARCHER: You know, we can, you know, use it for this type of call, but nothing specific to this.

TAPPER: Well, Trooper Michelle Archer, we salute you. You saved the life of a young girl. That's a lot. Thank you so much for what you do.

ARCHER: Thank you. I appreciate that.

TAPPER: Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. I'll see you tomorrow live from New Hampshire.