Return to Transcripts main page

The Lead with Jake Tapper

GOP Presidential Candidate Nikki Haley Joins The Lead; Biden: Israeli Operation In Rafah Should Not Go Forward Without Credible Plan To Protect Civilians; Biden & Jordan's King Abdullah Speak About Gaza Crisis; Trump Asks Supreme Court To Block Immunity Ruling; Former Obama Campaign Manager On Biden's Challenges. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired February 12, 2024 - 16:00   ET



ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN HOST: Investigators now saying that Marino had a criminal history that dated back years, including a weapons charge, as well as a history three of mental illness.

So many questions. Antisemitic writings in her past, you had been detained. Her ex-husband was Jewish, as well as his family. The authorities saying that that may have played into things as well.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Yeah. And how did she get this weapon? Is this something that should have been flagged? We'll have to see what the process is. Obviously many ways around getting a weapon without a background check, but certainly, she shouldn't have passed one.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: President Biden is preparing to speak at the White House any minute as sources at the White House described his growing frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Israeli hostages freed in Gaza by the IDF. New video just in from the early morning raid in Rafah Gaza that rescued the two Israeli men. The White House says they're concerned about some 100 Palestinians reportedly killed in this joint Israeli operation. We're standing by to hear from President Biden after calling Israel's actions over the top, just last week.

Plus, former Governor Nikki Haley is here. I'm going to ask how she would handle the situation with Israel and Gaza, as well as her recent criticism of Donald Trump as she warns Trump to not side with Russia's Vladimir Putin, again.

And new details just in about the woman who opened fire at Joel Osteen's megachurch in Texas. The free Palestine message, a source says, was found on her AR-15. Plus, what we know about the young child who was with or who is now in critical condition?


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we're going to start with our world lead in Gaza. New video just released by the Israel Defense Forces show the moment Israeli forces rescued two hostages in a middle of the night, quote, lightning extraction in the southern Gaza city of Rafah.

Another video shows the hostages being evacuated from Gaza via helicopter. This as a senior Biden administration official tells CNN that the White House is, quote, deeply concerned that the operation and accompanying airstrikes reportedly killed about 100 Palestinians. Though it is unclear as of now how many of those killed may have been Hamas terrorists, and how many may have been innocent civilians. Those Israeli airstrikes pounded the densely populated city overnight, where more than 1 million mostly displaced Palestinians are currently sheltering.

So what exactly is Israel's plan to relocate civilians as the IDF tries to eradicate terrorists and what they say is the last Hamas stronghold? We'll ask an expert next.

Plus, we are learning more about the freed hostages, both dual Israeli Argentinian citizens, 60 year-old Fernando Simon Marman, and 70 year- old Louis Har, now reunited with their families after more than four grueling months in Hamas captivity, Luis Har's son in-law, telling CNN it was, quote, a very special day. While Fernando Marman's niece says they're both okay, but, quote, a little thin, a little different.

Back in the United States at any moment, President Biden and Jordan's King Abdullah are going to come before the cameras and make a statement as those two leaders discussed the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Sources tell CNN, Biden is growing increasingly tingly frustrated with his Israeli counterpart, Benjamin Netanyahu. The president is alleging allegedly telling advisers and others that Prime Minister Netanyahu is just ignoring his advice and also obstructing efforts to alleviate the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

We're going to bring you remarks from President Biden and King Abdullah live once they begin.

As we wait to hear from them, however, let's turn now to someone who says her foreign policy experience makes her the best candidate to replace Biden in November.

Joining us now to discuss former U.N. ambassador -- U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and Republican presidential candidate, Governor Nikki Haley.

Governor Haley, thanks for joining us.

So I wanted to ask you about the CNN reporting about President Biden's increasing frustrations with Benjamin Netanyahu, with Biden feeling that Netanyahu is ignoring his advice, obstructing humanitarian relief efforts in Gaza. What would Prime Minister Netanyahu listen to -- why would Prime

Minister Netanyahu listen to you, a President Haley, if he is ignoring advice from President Biden?

NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, if you're going to be a friend, you should be a friend. What you shouldn't do is go sit there and put conditions on a friend who's been brought to her knees. Israel went through a tragic situation on October 7 and Biden said that he was going to support them. And yet all he's done is trying to lecture them and dictate and tell them what to do.

We didn't want anybody to tell us what to do after 9/11. We knew exactly what we needed to do and we knew exactly what we wanted to do to make sure that evil never happened again.

You know, I've watched this story before, Jake, everybody runs to the side of Israel when she gets hit but they're -- no one's -- no one's anywhere to be found when she hits back.


And you have to look at this situation. Why is Biden so disappointed with Israel? Why is he saying Israel not listening to him? Why hasn't he disappointed with Hamas? Why isn't he disappointed with Iran?

If you're sitting there and worried about what's happening to the people in Gaza as we all are, why is it the first question -- why is it Egypt taking them? Why is it in Turkey taking them? Why isn't Qatar taking them?

If you're meeting, you know, with the leaders of Jordan, why aren't Jordan taking them? Why is it Israel's problem to deal with that?

You know why none of the Arab countries streets are taking them is because they don't know which ones are Hamas and which ones aren't. And they don't want to take that threat on themselves.

So why would you ask Israel to take that threat on? It's unfair. It's not wise.

Let Israel finish the job. They care about human life. You see that in the fact that they tried to get these two hostages out, we need to let them finish their job.

TAPPER: It's interesting that you raised the topic of after 9/11, we didn't want to listen to what any other country had to say about how we would respond but just philosophically, shouldn't we have? I mean, it's hard to look at what the United States did in terms of Iraq, and then, of course, the 20-year war in Afghanistan. And not think that we could have taken some advice.

I'm just -- this -- I wasn't planning on asking this question.


TAPPER: But, philosophically, what do you think? HALEY: So, I'm not talking about Iraq or Afghanistan. What I'm talking about is the emotions we felt after that is understand that we were deeply wounded. We were deeply angry and all we wanted to do was to make sure that we made a wrong right.

That's how Israel feels right now. So first understand that they're hurt and they're bruised and they're broken.

Second, understand that Hamas has said that when they get the chance, they're going to do this to Israel again. And so, Israel's biggest concern is how do they protect the Israeli people from this ever happening again?

Biden needs to understand that if he expects Israel to listen to them. Instead, he's lecturing them. That's not the way you're going to get Israel to listen. You have to look at what Israel's top agenda is -- it's to protect the Israeli people.

Biden has to show that what he's asking them to do will protect the Israeli people, and he should want that for them. Instead, he's so focused on the people in Gaza, yet he hasn't gone to any of the regional friends to say, why aren't you doing anything to get Hamas to stand down? Why aren't you doing anything to get Iran to stop?

Let's not forget, Iran is at the center of all of this. Why has Joe Biden not put sanctions back down on Iran fully? He's yet to do that. That's what he should be focused on, not on sitting there telling Israel what to do.

TAPPER: So Donald Trump as, you know, over the weekend, suggested that he would tell Russia to do whatever the hell they want to any NATO member that doesn't spend sufficient on defense spending which is part of the NATO agreement. A number of Republicans have come out and backed Trump's comments today. I'm not sure if you saw yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio saying that, look, Donald Trump doesn't talk the way somebody who's a member of the Council on Foreign Relations talks, but he was just talking about getting these other NATO countries to start pulling their weight.

Why do you think so many Republicans have downplayed this and you have found it alarming?

HALEY: Well, first of all, in the administration, he talked many times about getting out of NATO, behind closed doors and publicly. So that's just a fact.

But the idea that he would side with a thug, the idea that Trump is saying that not only is he not going to defend our allies who were with us after 9/11, by the way, but that he's also going to tell Putin to go ahead and encourage him to invade them is unthinkable.

The idea that he is siding with a man who kills his opponents, the idea that he's siding with Putin, who's holding Evan Gershkovich just for doing his job, the idea that he would side with a man who has made it very clear that he wants to defeat America -- one, as personally as the wife of a combat veteran, that's the last thing you want to hear from someone who wants to be commander in chief, because that means he's not only to watch out for the men and women in the military. Secondly, that means he's not going to watch out for our friends.

Do the NATO countries need to pay more? Yes, we should always push them to carry their weight. But at the same time, understand, NATO was a success story. For 75 years, we haven't had war there.

And more than that, Russia is completely intimidated by NATO. They've never invaded a NATO country. They've always invaded those that are not NATO. Georgia, you know, Ukraine, Moldova, those are the ones they've invaded. So not only is Russia intimidated by NATO, China is intimidated by NATO.

So why would you go and put our allies and our military in harm's way by saying something so careless?


It's what happens when it gets off the teleprompter for two minutes, he becomes unhinged, he becomes undisciplined, and he goes in, he starts to say these wacky things. That's what scares everybody about him.

TAPPER: You noted that you are a Blue Star wife. Your husband Michael, is a major with the South Carolina Army National Guard, currently deployed in the Horn of Africa, and that -- in those remarks on Saturday, President Trump also questioned your husband's whereabouts as part of his campaign speech.

I want to play that, too.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Where's her husband? Oh, he's away. He's away. What happened to her husband? What happened to her husband? Where is he? He's gone.


TAPPER: Your husband apparently had access to Twitter. He responded on social media posting a meme that reads: The difference between humans and animals. Animals would never allow the dumbest ones to lead the pack -- at least I assume that's a response.

Why do you think this is what Donald Trump is choosing to focus on right now and were you surprised of the cheering from the South Carolina audience for a smearing of South Carolina servicemember?

HALEY: I mean, the first thing I'll say is it's disgusting. And let's take it and move me and Michael out of it. If you're going to go and criticize a combat veteran, you criticize one veteran, you're criticizing all of them.

But this continues to be a pattern of what he's doing. Whether he sitting there calling them suckers, whether he's in Arlington Cemetery saying, why would they do this? Not understanding that, no, my husband has not with me in a presidential campaign because he's serving our country.

I'm incredibly proud of him, and every man and woman that serve our country and are willing to share blood for our country.

But the idea that he thinks that you can talk about this so carelessly is a problem because if you don't understand that it's their shoulders, we stand on, if you don't understand that, everybody knows someone who has either lost their life or serve this country in a way that's allowed us to keep our freedoms, that is not someone who deserves to be commander in chief because if you don't respect our military, how should we think you're going to respect them when it comes to times of war and prevent war and keep them from going?

It's just -- it was awful. Everything about it was awful. Everyone should condemn it.

This isn't anything partisan. If you don't have respect for our military and our veterans, God help us all if that's the case.

TAPPER: So, I first became aware of how he talks about servicemembers with whom he might disagree or service members whose sacrifice he doesn't I understand, back in 2015 when he said that John McCain wasn't a war hero because he was captured. He prefers people who weren't captured.

And it became very clear that this is just how he -- I mean, I was shocked by it because obviously I grew up with Reagan as president, but I was shocked that the Republican Party rallied around him and he's, you know, became the nominee, even though he talked that way about a genuine war hero who was a POW for five-and-a-half years, who could have left early but didn't because that wasn't the honorable thing to do.

But you went to work for him. Now I understand a lot of patriotic Americans went to work for Trump hoping to be ballast in the ship and keep the keep things steady for the United States of America. But you did go work for him after he made comments like this about other veterans.

Can you just explain that decision where you just trying to make trying to do what was right for the country, like how did -- how did you wrap your brain around it

HALEY: Well, I think at first when he said things, you know, in 2015, you didn't know whether it was a slip of the tongue or whether this is who we was. I was proud to serve America and his administration. That's who I worked for is the people of America. And to serve in his administration, I was proud to do that.

There were many times that I said to him that he was his own worst enemy. There are many times when I picked up the phone or showed up in his office and told him that something he was doing was not right. I always told him the truth. I always spoke up for what I thought a strong America should be.

And quite honestly, he always listened to me and he was very respectful because he know I said the truth and he knew that I was looking out for America.

The problem is here you have 70 percent of Americans who have said they don't want a Trump-Biden rematch. The majority of Americans don't want Trump. The majority of Americans don't want Biden.

And now, you have 59 percent of Americans who have said that Trump and Biden are too old. At what point are we going to say we need a new generational leader? At what point are we going to look at Congress and say, maybe they need to leave their power and turn it over to a younger generation of people? Because what you've seen out of Biden and Trump, all they're doing is talking about themselves.

We saw Biden. So, the special counsel says that he, you know, is mentally deficient, that he is starting to do that. He comes out, he gives a press conference. He's angry, and then he gets some things wrong again.


But then we see Trump. He goes out and he does a rally, goes two minutes off the prompter, and he's completely unhinged.

And so, my question is, when we have a country in disarray and a world on fire, why are we really going to let it come down to two 80 years old running for president when we need someone who can serve eight years, fully disciplined, fully willing to work to get our country back on track? It's a wake-up call for everybody, an absolute wakeup call.

And I'll tell you this: in a general election, we're given a choice. In a primary, you make your choice. The people of South Carolina and the states after that have the ability to make their choice. It's time that we have our voices heard. It's time that we right this ship.

TAPPER: So, obviously, you're running in South Carolina. You've told me that you plan to be around -- well, obviously, you want to be the nominee and then the president, but, but you're going to be over around at least until Super Tuesday.

If the unthinkable happens in your view and you do not win, will it be difficult to support Trump as the Republican Party's nominee, given what you think about him quite obviously?

HALEY: Well, first, I think that you need to know that I am going to beat President Trump. But you should ask him if it'll be difficult for him to support me.

TAPPER: Well, I would but he doesn't do interviews with anybody who's not friendly and, you know, on the program with him.

And he's already made it clear that he does. I mean, he didn't sign the GOP pledge in 2016, I don't think, and he's certainly not signing it now. So I'm sure he -- I'm sure he would say no.

But I guess you're not going to commit to voting for him if he becomes the nominee? HALEY: Well, what I'm saying -- well, I said from the very beginning when there were 14 candidates on the stage, that any one of the 14 would be better than Joe Biden.

Right now, you see what's happening with Joe Biden. I think for the good of the country, the Democrats need to find a new candidate. They know that. Everybody knows that.

And I think there's a time -- I don't think that Joe Biden is going to end up being the nominee. I think that there is a time that's got to turn over and the party that gets rid of, their 80 year-old candidate is the party that will win.

And that's what I'm trying to tell Republicans right now. This is the time that you need to be sober and start realizing what we need to do to fix things. We can't continue -- you look at what happened last week, here, Trump loses the immunity battle. He'll now be citizen Trump.

Republicans lose the situation with the border. They lose the situation with Israel. The RNC chair loses her job. The RNC is broke.

Trump has spent $50 million in campaign donations on his personal legal fees? That is not the -- that is not what you need to win an election.

And it's a pattern of losing that everything he touches, he loses. We saw it in 2018. We saw it in 2020. We saw it in 2022.

How many more times do we have to go back to the same person and say, and then finally decide maybe he's the problem, because I know he's the problem. Now we need the rest of America to get in a voter booth and show that he's the problem.

TAPPER: Before you go, Governor Haley, have you talked to Major Haley? Have you talked to your husband? I'm just -- it must be annoying to be attacked like that when you're serving your country and -- in the Horn of Africa. Is he -- has he handling at all?

HALEY: Well, I think the first thing is denoted that he has always been with me in every election I've ever run. This is -- it's difficult to do it without him because he's like my right arm. So you feel like part of you is missing.

They have been without Internet. So I was able to catch him for a brief period of time. I saw the tweet just like you saw the tweet. I did not get a chance to talk to him when that happened.

But I will tell you -- I mean, look, he's angry. I mean, he and his brothers and sisters, they don't go there just because for kicks and giggles, they go there because they still believe in this amazing experiment that is America. They're willing to go and sacrifice their lives and their families because they still believe America is worth fighting for.

And when anybody mocks it or makes fun of it, it does make them all question, like, what's happening to America. And that's a very sad state of affairs.

If you want to see why our recruitment is down in the military, 25 percent, it's because of comments like that. It's because of how America has treated our veterans. It's about the fact that we don't have their back when times like this matter.

And so look, I mean, he loves our country. He's going to do what he needs to and so will his brothers and sisters in the military.

But you should also know, military families sacrifice just as much. And we are bonded together, and when things like this happen, it hurts every one of us and that's why this was so wrong.


TAPPER: It was wrong.

And I -- I'm sorry to all military families and the servicemembers out there who are so selfless that a comment like that would be made.

President -- presidential candidate, Governor Nikki Haley, thanks for joining us today. Appreciate it. Please send our best to your husband.

HALEY: Thanks so much. Go to and join us.

TAPPER: When President Biden approaches that lectern, were going to go live to the White House.

Also ahead, the new details just coming in about the overnight operation in Gaza that free two hostages.


TAPPER: President Biden with the King of Jordan is speaking now at the White House. Let's listen in.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Welcome back to the White House, man. Welcome back. And, by the way, Barack is looking at you in the corner over there.

And along with Queen Riana (ph), who is meeting with Jill now, and the Queen -- and the Crown Prince Hussein. Where -- is the Prince out here? I thought he was coming out. Any rate.

We've known each other for many years. And His Majesty has been a good friend all those years, a steadfast partner alongside the Queen, and a beloved leader to their people. The partnership between the United States and our ally Jordan is strong and it is enduring.

Today, the King and I discussed with our senior foreign policy staffs what -- the issue that's front and center in the Middle East and well beyond: the war between Israel and the terrorist organization Hamas. Over four months ago, on October the 7th, Hamas attacked Israel in an act of sheer evil, massacring more than 1,200 innocent women, men, and children -- the deadliest day for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. More than 250 hostages were taken. A hundred and thirty-four are still

being held hostage by Hamas. We don't know how many are still alive. The anguish that their families are enduring week after week, month after month is unimaginable. And it's a top priority for the United States to bring them home.

I've made clear the United States shares the goal of seeing Hamas defeated and ensuring long-term security for Israel and its people.


After the October 7th attacks, Hamas retreated back into Gaza, where its leaders live in underground tunnels, stretching for over 100 miles beneath civilian infrastructure, including -- including schools, playgrounds, and neighborhoods.

The past four months, as the war has raged, the Palestinian people have also suffered unimaginable pain and loss. Too many -- too many of the over 27,000 Palestinians killed in this conflict have been innocent civilians and children, including thousands of children. And hundreds of thousands have no access to food, water, or other basic services.

Many families have lost not just one but many relatives and cannot mourn for them or even bury them because it's not safe to do so. It's heart-breaking.

Every innocent life in Gaza is a tragedy, just as every innocent life lost in Israel is a tragedy as well. We pray for those lives taken -- both Israeli and Palestinian -- and for the grieving families left behind.

Not only do we pray for peace, we are actively working for peace, security, and dignity for both the Palestinian people and the Israeli people. And I'm working on this day and night with the king and others in the region to find the means to bring all these hostages home, to ease the humanitarian crisis, and to end the terror threat and to bring peace to Gaza and Israel -- an enduring peace with a two-state solution for two peoples.

As the king and I discussed today, the United States is working on a hostage deal between Israel and Hamas, which would bring immediate and sustained period of calm into Gaza for at least six weeks, which we could then take the time to build something more enduring.

Over the past month, I've had calls with Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as the leaders of Egypt and Qatar, to push this forward. The key element of the deals are on the table. There are gaps that remain, but I've encouraged Israeli leaders to keep working to achieve the deal. The United States will do everything possible to make it happen.

The King and I also discussed the situation in Rafah. As I said yesterday, our military operation in Rafah -- their -- the major military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible plan -- a credible plan for ensuring the safety and support of more than one million people sheltering there. Many people there have been displaced -- displaced multiple times, fleeing the violence to the north, and now they're packed into Rafah -- exposed and vulnerable. They need to be protected.

And we have also been clear from the start: We oppose any forced displacement of Palestinians from Gaza.

Today, the king and I also discussed in detail how to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza. From the very beginning, my team and I have relentlessly worked to get more aid in. I urged Congress for months to make sure that our nation's support for Israel and also includes urgently needed aid for Palestinians. And I've spoken repeatedly with partners across the region, including the king, to help facilitate the flow of such aid into Gaza as much as possible and that will actually get to the people that there -- that are -- need it.

We worked to get the Rafah Crossing open. We worked to get Kerem Shalom open. And we insist that we remain -- it remain open -- both remain open. We're working to open other routes as well. And we're also working relentlessly to make sure aid workers can get the aid where it's needed once it gets through.

I want to recognize Jordan and the king specifically for all he has done to provide humanitarian aid to Gaza, including just a few days ago. He personally got in a plane and helped conduct an air drop of urgently needed medical supplies into Gaza.

I understand that two of his children have also joined those air drops. They helped fly humanitarian supplies in. And for years, the queen has been passionate -- a passionate advocate for the Palestinian people, particularly women and children. Your family's leadership, Your Majesty, and humanitarian commitment are commendable.

And at the same time, we're working to create the conditions for a lasting peace, as we talked a lot about upstairs, with the Israeli security guaranteed and Palestinian aspirations for their own state fulfilled. I say this as a long -- lifelong supporter of Israel. That's the only path that guarantees Israel's security for the long term. To achieve it, the Palestinians must also seize the opportunity.

As I discussed with the king today, the Palestinian Authority must re -- urgently reform so it can effectively deliver for the Palestinian people in both the West Bank and Gaza.


Once Hamas's control of Gaza is over, they must prepare to build a state that accepts peace, does not harbor terrorist groups like Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

And together, we will keep working to complete what has -- what we started: to integrate the region, to bring about peace between Israel and all its Arab neighbors, including a Palestinian state. That effort was already underway before the October 7th attacks. It's even more urgent today. No one -- no one understands better than our allies and partners in

the region, including the king, what we need. I'm grateful to him for his friendship, including his and Jordan's unique role -- unique role: custodian of the holy sites in Jerusalem.

We're grateful for this friendship. We saw that again just two weeks ago when three brave American servicemembers were killed in an attack at a military outpost in Jordan, close to the Syrian border, by radical militant groups backed by Iran, operating in Syria and Iraq. Since then, U.S. military forces have struck targets in Iraq and Syria, and our response will continue.

We're grateful for our partners and allies like the King who work with us every single day to advance security and stability across the region and beyond. It's difficult times like these when the bonds between nations are more important than ever.

And Jill and I are pleased to welcome him and the Queen and the Crown Prince to the White House today.

Your Majesty, over to you.


BIDEN: I switched sides on you.


Mr. President, thank you for your gracious hospitality accorded to me and my delegation today.

My visit today carries an added meaning as our countries this year mark 75 years of exemplary strategic partnership. However, we had hoped we would be marking this major milestone during better circumstances in my region and the world.

Unfortunately, one of the most devastating wars in recent history continues to unfold in Gaza as we speak. Nearly 100,000 people have been killed, injured, or are missing. The majority are women and children.

We cannot afford an Israeli attack on Rafah. It is certain to produce another humanitarian catastrophe. The situation is already unbearable for over a million people who have been pushed into Rafah since the war started.

We cannot stand by and let this continue. We need a lasting ceasefire now. This war must end. We must urgently and immediately work to ensure the sustainable delivery of sufficient aid to Gaza through all possible entry points and mechanisms. And I thank you, Mr. President, for your support on this.

Restrictions on vital relief aid and medical items are leading to inhumane conditions. No other U.N. agency can do what UNRWA is doing in helping the people of Gaza through this humanitarian catastrophe. Its work in other areas of operation -- especially in Jordan, where 2.3 million are registered -- is also vital. It is imperative that UNRWA continues to receive the support it needs to carry out its mandate.

The potential threat of Palestinian displacement beyond the borders of Gaza and the West Bank is something we view with extreme concern and cannot be allowed.

At the same time, we must ignore -- we must not ignore the situation in the West Bank and in the holy sites in Jerusalem.

Nearly 400 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank since October 7th, including almost 100 children, and over 4,000 injured.

Continued escalations by extremist settlers in the West Bank and Jerusalem's holy sites and the expansion of illegal settlements will unleash chaos on the entire region.

The vast majority of Muslim worshippers are not being allowed to enter Al-Aqsa Mosque. Christian churches have also voiced concerns about increasing and unprecedented restrictions and threats.

It is also important to stress that the separation of the West Bank and Gaza cannot be accepted.

Seven decades of occupation, death, and destruction have proven beyond any doubt that there can be no peace without a political horizon.


Military and security solutions are not the answer. They can never bring peace. Civilians on both sides continue to pay for this protracted conflict with their lives.

All attacks against innocent civilians -- women and children -- including those of October 7th, cannot be accepted by any Muslim, as I have previously stressed.

We must make sure the horrors of the past few months since October 7th are never repeated nor accepted by any human being.

We must together, along with Arab partners and the international community, step up efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza and immediately start working to create a political horizon that leads to a just and comprehensive peace on the basis of the two-state solution -- an independent, sovereign, and viable Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital but living side by side with Israel in peace and security. This is the only solution that will guarantee peace and security for the Palestinians and the Israelis, as well as the entire region.

Your leadership, my dear friend, Mr. President, is key to addressing this conflict. And Jordan is ready to work, as always, with you towards peace.

Thank you.

BIDEN: Thank you.

TAPPER: President Biden speaking at the White House alongside King Abdullah of Jordan. They discussed the ongoing war between Israel and the terrorist group Hamas in Gaza. President Biden said he is working with the king and other allies in the region on a deal to try to free the hostages still being held in Gaza, which he says would include a ceasefire of at least six weeks. President Biden also spoke about the need to protect the innocent civilians trapped in Rafah right now, inside Gaza saying that Israel's military plans for the areas should not go forward until a plan to protect those civilians is in place.

King Abdullah, for his part, talking about all of the injured and killed innocent civilians in Gaza, and the need for a two-state solution.

Let me bring in CNN's MJ Lee at the White House.

And, MJ, today's meeting comes as the Biden is expressing serious concerns about how Israel is conducting this war in Gaza.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Jake. This meeting between the two leaders coming at a critical moment in this war for the Biden administration. We've been reporting on the mounting frustration for the Biden administration and the president specifically, and we are learning that he has told his advisers that he doesn't believe that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is heeding his advice, at least enough when it comes to de-escalating the military operation, there alleviating the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, the tension we are learning is intensifying even more as the prime minister of Israel has been talking about readying to make a ground incursion into Rafah.

We heard the president saying in his remarks just now that civilians, there must be protected. But Jake, as a senior administration official, bluntly put it, those estimated some 1.3 million people that are in that area, they simply have nowhere to go and there's a lot of skepticism about this idea that Benjamin Netanyahu has put forth about evacuating all of those people in that area before making a ground incursion.

Just in terms of whether that is even physically feasible, that's something that U.S. officials have serious concerns about an in terms of that hostage operation overnight that successfully rescued two hostages in Rafah, the Biden administration is deeply concerned about the reports of some hundred Palestinians that were killed as a part of that operation. The high stakes for the civilians that are in that area in Gaza and particularly as a part of this operation, has been deeply worrisome to this administration as well.

Now, it was interesting, Jake, when the king of Jordan actually got to the White House, a reporter shouted at the president, President Biden, is Bibi, is Netanyahu taking your advice? And he did respond. Everybody does. But that's not what our reporting says. Our reporting does show that

he is frustrated by this idea that he isn't heeding his advice, at least not enough, Jake.

TAPPER: All right. MJ Lee at the White House for us, thanks so much.

More breaking news. Donald Trump's defense team had just gone to the U.S. Supreme Court with a new filing in his challenge. He's trying to get presidential immunity asserted. We're going to bring that to you story -- bring that story to you in a second, right after this quick break.



TAPPER: And we're back with breaking news. Donald Trump has just asked the U.S. Supreme Court to weigh in on the dispute over whether he had immunity for the alleged crimes he committed while president. This is in response to a D.C. Appeals Court ruling last week that he does not have immunity and therefore can be prosecuted.

Let's get straight to CNN's Paula Reid.

Paula, what is Mr. Trump specifically asking the Supreme Court to do here?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, Jake, he's asking the Supreme Court to pause that appeals court decision last week that found he does not have immunity that would shield him from the federal election subversion case brought by special counsel Jack Smith. Now, the D.C. Circuit last week, the D.C. court, a three-judge panel. They issued a skating and unanimous opinion finding that he did not have immunity and they gave him until today to signal to the Supreme Court that they intended to appeal.

Now, there is an intermediary step here. If you lose at the federal appeals court, you can ask not just that three-judge panel, but the entire circuit to listen to your appeal. Now it appears they are going to try to avail themselves of that option before they asked the full Supreme Court to weigh in here.


And, Jake, in speaking with legal experts and speaking with sources in and around the Trump legal team, they don't actually expect that the former president is likely to win on the merits here. But the strategy is as much about delay as it is about his constitutional rights.

So they are going to try to exercise every option to try to delay this as long as possible, with the goal of trying to push that election subversion case back until after the 2024 election. And Jake, this puts the Supreme Court in this really unique position there right now, considering two really high stakes cases related to former President Trump that could have an impact on the election, because just last week, of course, they heard oral arguments in that question of ballot eligibility. And if Trump should appear on the ballot, that seemed to go really well for former President Trump.

So, it's unclear what the Supreme Court is going to do with this particular case, but again, not as much optimism that he would win even if the justices are eventually willing to take a look at this issue.

TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid, thanks so much.

I want to get back to the other big story this hour. President Biden reacting to Israel's operation in Gaza after sources tell CNN about his growing frustration with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, how can Biden navigate all of this in the 2024 race? I'm going to speak with a chief mind behind former President Barack Obama's reelection mission campaign. That's next.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, we just saw President Biden meeting a key Middle East leader trying to navigate a complicated complex crisis and avoid a wider regional war. We just also heard Governor Nikki Haley making her case for generational change in the oval office as Biden's age and competency are facing new criticism following the special counsel report on his handling of classified documents, to say nothing of Donald Trump's remarks over the weekend.

Here to weigh in on all of this and how the president needs to juggle both his policy and the politics, Jim Messina. He ran President Obama's successful reelection run in 2012 and also served as Obama's White House deputy chief of staff.

Jim, good to see you again.

So how damaging are attacks on Biden's age, like the one we saw in the special counsel report, like what we heard from Nikki Haley just a few minutes ago.

JIM MESSINA, FORMER OBAMA 2012 CAMPAIGN MANAGER: My sense is Jake, they're not damaging for one really important reason, the voters know it. The voters to understand that there are about to get a race between two senior citizens in Joe Biden and Donald Trump. And they will make that decision on who to vote for based on their own unique eats and what they want for their future, not the candidates.

So I think this is the report was more political than I'd seen reports before, but in general, I don't think anything has changed since before that report came out.

TAPPER: Am I correct in assuming that you as a Democratic strategist who wants Biden reelected would rather run against Donald Trump than you would against Nikki Haley?

MESSINA: Absolutely. For one big reason, which is Joe Biden's already beaten Donald Trump once. We know we can do this. We understand the voters made this decision once. You know, Nikki Haley's had to go really far to the right in this primary so she's opened herself up to, but it is very clear that Donald Trump is taking on water 91 counts. And, you know, we're not talking more about his legal problems and we are any other are the issues facing the country and that clearly is an advantage for the Democrats.

TAPPER: Last week, Douglas Brinkley told me that Biden, instead of reacting angrily to comments about his memory or his age, should take a page from Ronald Reagan's playbook, tried to use humor, at least more often to counter the attacks.

Perhaps the president might have been watching. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've been around -- I know I don't like it, but I've been around awhile. I do remember that.


TAPPER: Do you agree that laughter is the best way to deal with this?

MESSINA: It's one very good way, absolutely, Jake. And, you know, when you see him on the stump, you and I have been with him on the stump and he's really good with normal voters because he does have a sense of humor. He can connect with them. And I think that's what you're seeing there. And so I think absolutely humor is one way to deal with this.

The other ways to get out there and have people see you, and clearly, the campaign and the White House are doing that, are ramping that up. And I think that's another way. Voters need to see their president out there doing his job. And that's what they're doing.

TAPPER: I don't know how much they they're doing that. I mean, he turned down the Super Bowl interview. Historically, the network that's airing the Super Bowl interviews, the president of the United States.

You and I remember when Barack Obama, President Obama sat down with Bill O'Reilly because that's such great real estate, so many tens of millions, hundreds of millions of people worldwide are watching -- this year, you had all these young women watching because of lots of reasons. But Taylor Swift, certainly one of them.

And they've passed that up and I can't think of any reason why you would pass that up on CBS where you can have good, honest journalists like Nora or Scott or Gayle, like why pass that up, and if you're not afraid of some sort of stumble?

MESSINA: Well, look what they did though, right? This is a sense of the changing of the guard and the changing a time. So they did is due the first video during the Super Bowl on TikTok from the president of the United States in an attempt to continue to reach out to young voters. And so it's just a different way of approaching. The rules have changed, as you and I really know, and they're going to continue to take advantage of non-traditional opportunities in a way that I really think they have to, Jake.

TAPPER: The crisis in the Middle East is dividing Democrats. Biden repeatedly has met with protesters, repeatedly is met with protesters that as public events.


How concerned are you about key states such as Michigan where there is a sizable Arab American and Muslim American population that opposes Biden's position on Israel's war in Gaza?

MESSINA: Look, I think as a campaign manager, your job is to be to be concerned, right? And your job is to kick things off to the table. In 2012, and I was running his reelect, President Obama saw my future wife and said, she said, you look great and he said, thank you. You know why? And she said no and he said because I paid Jim to worry and he looks terrible.

And so as the campaign manager, Jake, your job is to worry about that. And I think they're looking at numbers and wanting to make sure that they get their message out to these young voters, remind them that Donald Trump wants a full Muslim ban, and that's one of the reasons why they went on TikTok yesterday.

TAPPER: All right. Jim Messina, thanks so much. Good to see you, sir.

MESSINA: Thank you, sir.

TAPPER: We're back in a moment with a brand-new court filing from Donald Trump's defense team. He's trying to get a pause in his federal election subversion case.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump himself was in a courtroom today Florida for a different case. This one has to do with the classified documents that he allegedly mishandled, the dispute over evidence was behind today's hearing, and were going to sort out the details in both of these cases, next.