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The Lead with Jake Tapper

"Trump Employee 5" Speaks Publicly For First Time About Mar-A- Lago Classified Documents Case; Trump Seeks To Delay New York Hush Money Case Until U.S. Supreme Court Rules On Presidential Immunity Claim; Rafah On Edge Over Possible Israeli Offensive As Ramadan Begins; Colorado Bureau Of Investigation Internal Probe Finds DNA Scientist Manipulated Data In Hundreds Of Cases Over Decades. Aired 4- 5p ET

Aired March 11, 2024 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Most of it going to France. It's pretty crazy. You had --


KEILAR: I was like right now outing you for doing something terrible.

SANCHEZ: I mean, is it terrible to eat frog legs?

KEILAR: Well, if I'd known it was so terrible --

SANCHEZ: A little bit of salt. That guy looks pretty good.

KEILAR: Wait, he was -- he was over here.

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Pierre, we're very sorry.

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ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we start today with breaking news, and a CNN exclusive. For the first time, the man only previously known as "employee number five" in the Trump federal classified documents case is publicly going on the record about what he saw behind the scenes at Mar-a-Lago and how he ended up handling boxes of classified documents without even knowing it or having the clearance to do so.

Trump employee number five is a man named Brian Butler. He has worked at Mar-a-Lago for 20 years. He wasn't just any regular employee. We should note.

He handled the car service at Trump's Florida resort. Often directly making sure that Donald Trump and all of his belongings were moved from place to place. Meaning, he saw moments and movements and heard conversations that are now part of special counsel Jack Smith's indictment of Donald Trump.

CNN's Kaitlan Collins, and Katelyn Polantz, are breaking the story for us and joining us now.

Kaitlan Collins, let's start with you. So you sat down with Butler earlier today. What did he tell you?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Yeah. Jake, Brian Butler may not be a household name, but he is someone who is a central figure in the Mar- a-Lago classified documents case because he worked for Donald Trump for the last 20 years since he was 19 years old. And now he finds himself at the center of Jack Smith's indictment of the former president in the classified documents case. And is privy to key parts of that testimony that we read through in those indictments, he provided a lot of that testimony to the special counsel's team about key moments that now will likely potentially go on trial as soon as this summer in this case.

One of those, Jake, that you're about to listen to is the moment that we spoke about, where Brian Butler told us about how he was on this day in June 2022, not knowing what exactly he was doing, but he was asked to help load boxes, banker boxes, on to Trump's plane at his airport in Palm Beach, Florida, as the former president was set to go to New Jersey.

Now, what he did not realize that the time that was happening, then was Trump's team, his legal team was meeting with members of the FBI at Mar-a-Lago after they had just performed a search of that storage room looking for classified documents, which we now know based on the indictment. Of course, that Evan Corcoran, Trump's attorney, who was looking through those documents, Walt Nauta and others had moved many boxes out of that room.

Now, Brian Butler, who is known and reference six times as Trump employee number five in the superseding indictment was asked to help Walt Nauta, who is Trump's body man, turned co-defendant, load those documents onto the plane. Here's what he told us about that moment.


BRIAN BUTLER, "TRUMP EMPLOYEE 5": And then what happened is Walt left before me and he never goes directly to the plane. He's either in the motorcade when he goes there with the boss, which the former president. And I remember telling him he left the club with I didn't know what he had in his vehicle, but he waited for me at a nearby business.

And I told him I would tell him when I was leaving Mar-a-Lago. So I left Mar-a-Lago. I texted him, hey, I'm on my way. He followed me. He pulled out and got behind me. We got to the airport. I ended up loading all the luggage I had and he had a bunch of boxes.

COLLINS: You noticed that he had boxes.

BUTLER: Yeah, they were the boxes that were in the indictment, the white bankers boxes. That's what I remember loading.

COLLINS: And did you have any time -- any idea at the time that there was potentially U.S. national security secrets in his box?

BUTLER: And no clue. No, I had no clue. I mean, we were just taking them out of the escalator, piling them up. I remember they were all stacked on top of each other and then we're lifting them up to the pilots.

COLLINS: How many boxes was it?

BUTLER: They asked me in the interview and I believe it was 10 to 15 is what I remember. I know the --

COLLINS: They being the investigators?

BUTLER: Correct.

COLLINS: And when you look back on that now --

BUTLER: Well, I had no clue until probably the end of June, there's a few different things that happen that kind of opened my eyes to, you know, something's going on here.

COLLINS: So you get that unusual request. Did you ever think to yourself why were there so many boxes at Mar-a-Lago?


BUTLER: For me, I'm just thinking out of the former president and he has a lot of stuff he likes to lug around with them. I never would've thought it was anything like what we see --

COLLINS: Classified documents.

BUTLER: Yeah, I mean.


COLLINS: Jake, it is just a remarkable moment. Katelyn Polantz and I've been reporting on this story along with the rest of our team, but reporting on this story for -- for so long. In this moment, it is so remarkable to hear from someone who has not spoken publicly before, but clearly just by his proximity and his long-standing ties at the former president's club was able to provide such valuable information to investigators about what was happening here while he, himself, Jake, you know, was still piecing this all together behind the scenes.

TAPPER: And, Katelyn Polantz, rather quit his job at Mar-a-Lago in about a year-and-a-half ago in late 2022. Why come forward to share his story now? KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: He says that he just wants to tell the truth, Jake. That was one of them messages that came across loud and clear from Brian Butler when he was speaking to Kaitlan Collins earlier today.

One of the things that makes him so unique in this situation as a witness is that not only is he a witness, not only is he Trump employee five in that indictment, but he also is someone who is using a different layer to represent him in this case. He's refused to take any possible lawyer that the Trump team could provide him and used somewhat he knew separately as his way of setting him apart.

And now his reflection upon this, upon in the past year, the FBI approached him in his driveway about a year ago, just this day, he's saying that Trump is dividing the nation, its divided relationships he's had with others and just now he's putting the puzzle pieces together here.

TAPPER: And, Kaitlan Collins, did Mr. Butlers say he felt any pressure at all from Trump or Mar-a-Lago or anyone affiliated with the former president to not cooperate with special counsel Jack Smith's team.

COLLINS: It maybe not have been -- may not as explicit as that, Jake. But what he felt pressure on was the attorney and the reason this is so critical, there's a very clear divide when you look at this case of who has an attorney that is being paid by Trump world and who is paying for their own, and the divergent paths that they have taken on this.

Obviously, Carlos de Oliveira, who was his very close friend that Kaitlan mentioned there, he has an attorney who is being paid for by Trump's world. He is someone who was indicted in that superseding indictment.

And I should note that these two have not spoken since then. He was indicted in that for lying to federal investigators about what he knew and what he saw. Brian Butler on the other hand said that he faced repeated requests and attempts to try to keep him in that Trump fold when it came to having a Trump attorney itself. And so I think that is a critical distinction here, Jake, as we've seen, how people who leave this orbit and what happens to them.

And one thing that I think is really important is this is just a regular person who was working at Mar-a-Lago for 20 years by happenstance of what he saw, what he witnessed, and what he was asked to do. He has become a witness in this investigation and had FBI investigators approach him and seek him out. And now he has spoken to them on multiple occasions, as he told me today during this remarkable sit down found that Katelyn Polantz and I have with him, he said that, yes, he is willing to testify if this goes to trial this summer.

TAPPER: All right. Kaitlan Collins and Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much.

And look for much more on this exclusive interview from Kaitlan Collins in just a few hours on her show, "THE SOURCE". That's tonight at 9:00 Eastern here on CNN.

I want to bring in CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Elie Honig to discuss.

Elie, how important is this news? How important is Brian Butler's testimony for the special counsel's team, building a case against Trump and his co-defendants? And was there any significant in what you heard him say just then?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yeah, Jake, so this type of witness is gold for prosecutors and there's a few reasons for that. First of all, this person has insider access. He is literally inside the room as Kaitlan just laid out. He's there when boxes are being loaded onto the plane.

And one of the challenges for prosecutors here is explaining exactly where these documents were moved and when and by I whom. And this person can give us exactly why.

Second of all, he's a person who appears to be unbiased. He doesn't seem to have any reason to have an ax to grind with Donald Trump as Kaitlan said. He's a longtime -- two decades-long employee of Donald Trump and the Trump Organization, just based on the snippet that we just saw. He does not appear to be angry or resentful towards Donald Trump.

And, finally, if you look at his testimony and you look at the indictment, he appears to be well-supported, corroborated by documents by certain text chains that are referenced in the indictment and by testimony of some of the defendants themselves, Walt Nauta and Carlos de Oliveira.

So this is really the kind of witness that you want to build around as a prosecutor.

TAPPER: So what's the basic worth of his testimony? He can establish the boxes came in.


He was not told that they were valuable, had, you know, important state secrets in them and he just treated them like anything else. And they were stored in common areas and not stored with any potential security?

HONIG: Yeah. I think that's part of it. I think its also very damning in particular to Walt Nauta and Mr. De Oliveira, who are both defendants in this case because they're directing him what to do with the boxes. And if you look at the indictment, Jake, this guy, Mr. Butler, who's referenced in the indictment as employee five, he's in the middle of others things, too.

He's a witness primarily, but, for example, when it comes time to try to check out the surveillance video. Remember, part of this case is that at one point Trump and the other defendants were trying to figure out what do we have on the surveillance video. Can we delete it? He overhears and he's part of conversations about that as well. So I

think he's a multifaceted witness for prosecutors.

TAPPER: And Butler describes multiple times was offered attorneys paid for by Trump or the Trump Organization. He says he was repeatedly told he could always go back and work for Trump as well as offered things such as free golf tickets. Could any of that be seen as attempts of witness tampering?

HONIG: So there is no independent charge of witness tampering in the indictment. However, that could still be very valuable information for prosecutors to use because the pattern is unmistakable. We've seen it again and again in this case, in other Trump investigations that he and his organizations offer to pick up the legal bills that they sort of dangle other potential rewards for people if they stay loyal.

Now, it's hard to connect that directly in a way where it can charge and we've not seen a charge here, but you can absolutely use that as a prosecutor to say, look, this is their motive. They're trying to keep people in the fold. They're trying to keep people from flipping against them.

TAPPER: Elie Honig, thanks so much.

Also this afternoon, Donald Trump is trying to claim presidential immunity in a different case. Plus, his attempt to delay proceedings, all this is brand new.

We're back with that story, next



TAPPER: Continuing with our law and justice lead now. Former President Donald Trump now claiming presidential immunity in yet another of the four criminal cases he faces. In this case, it is his hush money trial currently set to begin March 25th.

Today, attorneys for Trump filed a motion asking a New York state Supreme Court judge to delay the start of the case until the U.S. Supreme Court finishes reviewing his claim of presidential immunity in the federal election subversion case.

Let's bring in a special guest, Barbara McQuade, a former U.S. attorney and author of a "New York Times" bestseller called "Attack From Within: How Disinformation is Sabotaging America".

Barbara, thanks so much for joining us.

Trump's delay strategy does appear to be working for him. Of the four criminal cases against Trump, which you see as the biggest threat? And do you think that one that you think is the biggest threat, we will hear before the election?

BARBARA MCQUADE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: Well, Jake, I think the biggest threat really is the federal election interference case. That's the one that really goes to the heart of his efforts to steal an election yet opposite of what he alleged to be true and his big lie.

I don't know whether it will go to trial before the election. I think there is a 25 percent chance if I were to put a number on it and that all depends on how quickly the Supreme Court makes its decision. This one, the Alvin Bragg case, I think its an interesting strategy in an effort clearly to delay things, to say we need to hear from the Supreme Court first before this case can be decided because of presidential immunity.

But I think Alvin Bragg has a countermove here, which is only a very thin slice of this case, involves acts occurring while Donald Trump was president. So if he were to simply remove that evidence from the case, he could indeed go forward on March 25th.

TAPPER: And what is your reaction to what CNN's Kaitlan Collins and Katelyn Polantz just reported a few minutes ago from Brian Butler, former Mar-a-Lago employee previously known as employee number five, and the Trump classified documents case?

MCQUADE: Well, as a former prosecutor, I went a little bit whenever a witness goes public, but as Elie said, this is a very powerful witness because he somebody on the inside, I think oftentimes a defendant and including Donald Trump will try to portray the FBI and Jack Smith and the prosecutors as out to get him and biased against him in some way.

But when you've got someone like this witness, Mr. Butler is a longtime confidant of Donald Trump, a longtime employee alongside loyalist, who simply says, I want to tell the truth. I think that can be a very powerful witness and also provides that sort of insider perspective. It's very difficult to cross-examine.

TAPPER: We're also expecting a major decision this week on a different case, whether the judge in Trump's Georgia case will disqualify the district attorney. The prosecutor, Fani Willis, for the romantic relationships she had with a prosecutor leading the case, Nathan Wade. The argument from Trump's attorneys is that perhaps they even are prosecuting Donald Trump because of these trips they took together.

And they also say an appearance of impropriety is enough to remove her from the case. Do you think that her actions have created a conflict of interest and do you think she'll be disqualified?

MCQUADE: Yeah. This freeze conflict of interest is one that people are using a little too loosely, I think. And so does she have a conflict of interests with regard to the management of her office by hiring and then having a relationship with Nathan Wade? Absolutely. As she may have an ethics issue on her hands for an undisclosed relationship.

But the important question that the judge will be deciding is, does she have a conflict of interests with regard to the defendants in this case? Can she be fair? And there's nothing that we've seen in this evidence that has anything to do with the guilt or innocence of these defendants or in any way suggest that there was a financial motive for her in indicting them. So I think that unless there's some facts that are published the

unknown at this phase, I don't see the judge removing her from this case.

TAPPER: Let's talk about your new book attack from within about disinformation. You write something really interesting. You describe as tribe over truth, as the phenomenon. You argue that Americans are so aligned with their political tribes both on the right and the left that they're willing to sacrifice facts and truth.

Do you think we could see this dynamic play out in the juries in these cases, not to mention, of course, the ballot box?


MCQUADE: Well, you know, jury selection is designed to weed out people who have biases, who have an alignment with one party or the other and can't be fair. And so there'll be asked a number of questions to try to ensure that it's a fair jury.

But sure, it's a possibility. I mean, someone could come in and not reveal some of their biases and there's strong attitudes about things. And it only takes one juror to hang a jury at which results in a mistrial. The prosecution can bring the case again, but of course, that wouldn't happen until well after the election, but I remain confident that jury system is the best system on earth.

And that through a rigorous word, your process, we can find 12 people who can be fair in this cases.

TAPPER: Your book has certainly timely efforts to mislead Americans and voters are a top concern for state election officials as they prepare for the election this November. Just last month, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro launched a task force to combat misinformation in Pennsylvania. Trumps repeatedly attacked the results of the 2020 election despite quite exhaustive fact checks, court cases finding no evidence of widespread voter fraud.

And yet just last month, a "Washington Post" poll finds that 62 percent of Republicans believe inaccurately that there is solid evidence of widespread voter fraud from 2020.

What solutions do you suggest to combat that given that this tribe over truth seems very baked in?

MCQUADE: Yes. So I think there are a number of things we can do. Some of them are related to online solutions. And so for example, we know that some of these social media companies are deliberately promoting content designed to outrage us. I think that we could put some controls in place, not to regulate content online, but to regulate the algorithms that are driving us apart and pitting us against each other.

I think we could do some work in the area of campaign finance laws to get some of the dark money out of our politics. The Citizens United case said that corporations and other organizations have First Amendment rights to unlimited spending in elections. But what we can do is require the disclosure of who's behind these ads, so we know when its special interests whose lying to us about certain kinds of things.

But then I also think that I'm hoping my book will spark a national conversation about truth. As Liz Cheney said in her book, we cannot have democracy without true and I think that there are people who are choosing, as you said, tribe over truth, that is, I care more about winning than I care about facts. And that's got to change.

TAPPER: Barbara McQuade, thank you.

Her book is called "Attack From Within", and it is available now.

Coming up next, the public riff, the world is witnessing with Benjamin Netanyahu on a warpath, ready to head into Rafah, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinian civilians are taking shelter. President Biden has been adamantly warning Netanyahu against it. We're going into the complexities of the war, and also talk to six families living through it, still their loved ones taken hostage by Hamas. They're going to join me together next on THE LEAD.



TAPPER: In our world lead, President Joe Biden on Saturday said that an Israeli invasion of Rafah in Gaza would be in his view, a red line -- a red line that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be willing to cross. Netanyahu says he is going to push ahead with a military offensive in Rafah, where nearly 1-1/2 million Palestinians are currently taking in shelter after already being displaced from their homes in Israel's war against Hamas.

This threat of a new invasion comes at the beginning of Ramadan, a holy month for Muslim.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond takes a look now at the competing claims about whether an offensive during Ramadan is imminent.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He has a right to defend Israel, a right to continue to pursue Hamas. But he must, he must, he must pay more attention to the innocent lives being lost as a consequence of the actions taken.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Biden's mounting frustrations with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu now bursting into full view.

BIDEN: He's hurting in my view. He's hurting Israel more than helping Israel.

DIAMOND: And Israeli prime minister firing back. BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Well, I don't know exactly what the president meant. But if he meant by that, that I'm pursuing private policies against the majority, the wish of the majority of Israelis and that this is hurting the interests of Israel, then he's wrong on both counts.

DIAMOND: Vowing a Rafah offensive, which Biden has cautioned against, will come.

NETANYAHU: We'll go there. We're not going to leave them. You know, I have a red line. You know what the red line is? That October 7 doesn't happen again.

Israeli officials tell CNN that offensive is not imminent. More forces must still pour into Gaza and a plan to evacuate civilians has yet to be finalized.

And holy month of Ramadan is now a key part of that backdrop. Ramadan begins, tensions in Jerusalem's old city are all flaring, wielding batons, Israeli police, forcefully pushing back Palestinians at a gate to the Al Aqsa Mosque compound. It's not clear how this scene began, but on the first night of Ramadan, CNN witnessed Israeli police refusing to allow at least two dozen, mostly young Palestinian men to enter the mosque.

Sometimes before even checking their IDs. Disturbing public security is the official reason given over and over for again, without explanation.

How am I disturbing public security? What did I do wrong? This man asked the officer. I'm not going back. I want to pray, but the answer is the same.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is the fifth and sixth gate I try to enter from, and they didn't say anything but disturbance of public security and they simply sent us back. My soul is connected to Al Aqsa, depriving me from Al Aqsa as if they deprive me of water. It's very difficult for me to a level I can't even describe. I will go home. May God give you health.

DIAMOND: Israeli police said in a statement, increased inspections were carried out and that they are acting to allow freedom of worship while balancing security and safety needs.

The Israeli government said last week, it wouldn't impose new restrictions on entry to the mosque during at least the first week of Ramadan, allowing access to a similar number of worshipers as last year.


But these first denials raised questions about how Israeli officials will handle the tens of thousands of worshippers expected for Friday prayers, especially amid tensions over the war in Gaza.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): When you decide who to enter and who not to, you are creating problems. Everyone should be free to pray inside, youth, elderly, woman and children, everyone.


DIAMOND (on camera): And tonight, Jake, the old city of Jerusalem remains quiet as Israeli police allowed all worshippers to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque compound without incident, but all eyes are now fixed on this Friday, the first Friday prayers of Ramadan, which has been a flashpoint in previous years, questions about what kinds of restrictions the Israeli the government will enforce. Some of those questions being answered tonight as the Israeli government signals that some Palestinians from the West Bank, men over age 55, women over age 50 will be able to go to Jerusalem and pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque -- Jake.

TAPPER: Jeremy Diamond live for us in Jerusalem, thank you so much.

On October 7th, more than 1,200 Israelis, most of them civilians, were killed by Hamas's terrorist attack on Israel. More than 200 people were kidnapped and taken back to Gaza as hostages.

Today, Israeli officials estimate that 99 people are still alive and being held in Gaza, along with the bodies of 31 hostages who were killed.

Joining us now are six family members who have loved ones being held hostage.

Thank you so much for being here. It's an awful circumstance and we're going to continue to cover it.

Moshe, let me start with you. Your brother-in-law, Omri Miran, we've told this story before, he's being held hostage in Gaza. He has a wife, your sister Lishay, and two daughters. You're all in Washington, D.C. today.

What are you hoping to hear from American lawmakers?

MOSHE LEVI, BROTHER-IN-LAW OF HOSTAGE OMRI MIRAN: I think this is a critical week for the war, for Israel, for the hostages, and, of course, as well for the Palestinian non-combatants. We're hoping to hear this week that negotiations are still in full force, that there is an approach to pressure Hamas through Qatar, through Egypt, through other stakeholders, possibly Russia or Turkey, in order to ensure that Hamas agrees to the framework.

As we know now, and President Biden said last week, I met the secretary general, the U.N. who also echoed those sentiments. There is an agreement on the table. Hamas refuses to agree to it, and we have to use all levers.

And I hope American lawmakers will do the effort to pressure wherever they can, especially Qatar, to allow Hamas to free the Palestinians from there -- they're also captives of Hamas. And, of course, free our loved ones, my brother-in-law, Omri, and the rest, 133 hostages.

TAPPER: Daniel, your grandfather, Oded, is still being held hostage. Your grandmother, Yocheved, was released. President Biden is pledging to stand by Israel. He says he is, quote, never going to leave Israel. He doesn't sound as committed to Netanyahu, I have to say.

How -- what are your feelings about America's response to this crisis?

DANIEL LIFSHITZ, GRANDSON OF HOSTAGE ODED LIFSHITZ: So my feeling is that I think for the last month I see real big progress of the push of Biden for the release of the hostages. And that is very positive for us.

As my family, as you said, my grandma is back, my grandfather is still a hostage, is a grand-grandfather of my daughter. Imagine, 84-years- old, grand-grandfather held hostage in Gaza now 157 days with the family that from one side, the joy of my grandma coming back, who was, you know, just amazing.

But the feelings -- the mixed feeling is so overwhelming of one side, my grandma back, my grandfather is still there.


LIFSHITZ: The family is really ripped apart and it's not only my family is families as the Trupanov family which the mother and the grandmother came back. And the only child and only grandchild is still there. Cunio (ph) family, Katzir (ph) family, those families or just ripped. We have to close this hostages' case to bring back those families together.

TAPPER: Sharon, you had two brothers that were kidnapped, Shenachem (ph) that were kidnapped, Yossi and Elie. Your brother, Yossi, was being held by Hamas in Gaza when he was killed. You know -- first of all, I'm so sorry. Do you know how he died?

SHARON SHARABI, BROTHER OF DECEASED HOSTAGE YOSSI SHARABI: Probably because the attack of IDF military, we know he's killed. But he dragged to fighting for the family, Yossi was murdered by Hamas --


TAPPER: Because he had been dragged there. So even if he was killed by IDF, he shouldn't have been there to begin with. So you hold -- you hold Hamas responsible.

SHARABI: Yes. No matter for us, if -- it's bullet from Hamas or IDF, he was taken to area of fighting. It's very complicated situation, and actually he wasn't murdered.

TAPPER: My deepest condolences. May his memory be a blessing to your family.

Boaz, your cousin, Aviv, was previously thought to be held hostage. His wife Liat was held hostage, but later released. But it then came out that your cousin of Aviv was killed on October 7, but his body is still being held in Gaza.

Can you explain to our viewers why it is so important for the bodies of your loved ones to be released back to Israel as well?

BOAZ ATZILI, COUSIN OF DECEASED HOSTAGE AVIV ATZILI: Because for the families, there's really no closure, you can -- you can really realize that that it's over until -- until the bodies are there and get buried. But really to me, it's as important even more important that the people who are still alive, that will come -- the young women, the grandmothers, grandfathers, the young man that's even more important really to me personally, because they are still alive and we can still -- we can still help them, whereas for my cousin, unfortunately, we can tell him anymore.

TAPPER: I'm so sorry. May his memory be a blessing.

Gilad, your son Tal, was being held captive separately from his wife, Audie and their two children, Nave and Yahel. Six of his extended family members, including his wife and kids, were released on November 25th. Have you heard anything about your son since then?

GILAD SHOHAM KORNGOLD, FATHER OF HOSTAGE TAL SHOHAM: Well, yes. We have a proof that it was taken from this -- safe from kibbutz Be'eri, at life with close, we choose in this horrible Saturday, it was taken and drawing to a car trunk with another family that hostage from Be'eri, kibbutz Be'eri. There's the family that, Alon and Yarden (ph).

That when this car would stop, Yarden and Alon was start to run back and you thought that he will run -- run better than her, giving his daughter and she fall down and disappear. She's come back in the first deal. And she told us that she saw Tal for few second --

TAPPER: They could see him.

KORNGOLD: -- in Gaza. But since then, we don't have 157 days. We don't have any signs. We believe that the live because there is no reason to murder him, is used policy for Hamas. So we hope, and we still hope.

TAPPER: And, Oriya, you're related to the youngest hostage. Your cousin Yarden gave us and his wife, Shiri, and their two children, Kfir and Ariel, were abducted from kibbutz Nir Oz. Kfir is the youngest hostage.

People in Israel know the -- is it orange or red? It's a symbol of the hair.


TAPPER: Yeah, red hair. The last hostage release was more than three months ago. How hopeful -- do you have hope for the Bibas family today?

YAHBESS: I always have hope because we have nothing else to grab for. So hope is what's holding us. Our lives stopped on 7 of October.

And when I say our lives, it's not just his sister and his mother, we're talking about cousins. We're talking about grandfathers. We're talking about grandmothers all the families affected. And I can -- I can tell about to, Toam (ph), who is four-years-old and

she's the daughter of Ofri, Yarden's sister. And Ariel and her were best friends and she's keeping -- keep asking about him. Why can't they find Ariel?


YAHBESS: And when is he coming back? And it just breaks our hearts each and every time.

TAPPER: Hold up the picture just to remind people. That's the beautiful Bibas family.

We're still holding out hope. We're going to have much more with these families on THE LEAD.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: We're back now with family members, six of them, of Israeli hostages being held in Gaza and I -- you know, this time, it flies by and we could probably do a whole days worth of coverage just on one of your stories, just on one of the loved ones stories.

But let me just go around the circle and everybody say something.

Oriya, just to remind people, you can hold up the sign again. You're the cousin of the hostage Yarden Bibas, who is the wife of Shiri and the father of one year-old Kfir and four-year-old, Shiri. The one- year-old Kfir is -- yeah, he's the youngest, and that is Ariel.

YAHBESS: This is Ariel.

TAPPER: So, we heard today that Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister's wife, has appealed to the mom of the emir of Qatar, which Hamas lives in Qatar, many of them, the officials, and Qatar has been helping to help negotiation. She -- and Sara Netanyahu asked her to please help get the -- at least the women hostages out in the spirit of Ramadan.


What would you like to say to the mother of the emir?

YAHBESS: I would like to say, first of all, I would like to say to all first ladies, first ladies of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden, and all the first ladies over the world, as mothers, please join Sara Netanyahu, and do the same thing and let us all end this for at least for the women, for the children.

And I want to say to the, to the American public I want you to look at these children, and to remember their faces. And when you put your kids to sleep, please, remember, they -- I don't know how they sleep tonight. If they have a blanket. And this is something that can't go on.

TAPPER: Sharon, your brother Yossi was killed and your other brother, Elie, is in Gaza. What's your message? What do you -- what do you want people at home to know?

SHARABI: Every day we hear about the hostages, what is a hostage? Jake, imagine your daughter been taken to a dark room with a little food and barely any water, and the door close, locked. And after two hours, you take her out. How would she feel?

And now, imagine its continue for 157 days.


SHARABI: Every second, how it's important that multiple times, every day, they raped, they held -- taken by terrorist. This is a hostage.


Daniel Lifshitz, your grandfather, Oded, is still being held. Your grandmother, Yocheved, was released.

What do you want people to know about what you're going through and tell us something about your grandfather? Tell us something about Oded.

LIFSHITZ: So, first of all, what I'm going through is that every day in the last 157 days, this rollercoaster is not ending. We're on it and I'm going everywhere, and trying to pull up every stone I can from Doha to New York, met the ambassadors, does everything for that. And my grandfather would expect me to do that because he would do the same for any person that need that for an -- I want to say another thing, that's my best friend, Dolev Yehoud, which he celebrate his birthday tomorrow.


TAPPER: How old is it turning?

LIFSHITZ: Thirty-six.

TAPPER: Thirty-six, tomorrow.

LIFSHITZ: His wife, Sigal, she were in the safe from for six, seven hours with three little kids and 39 weeks of pregnancy. Lucky she survived it and heard son, Yotam is asking every night, mommy, did the war finish?


LIFSHITZ: Is daddy coming home? And the way to end this war is keeping pressure from the U.S., on all the parties, bringing together to a table to end this war in two things, pressing Qatar, the Israelis pressing Hamas, doing that. Speaking on the day after and -- TAPPER: Talking about what's going to happen in Gaza so that there is

some sort of future for the Palestinian people, that people can look at.

Boas, what do you want people to know?

ATZILI: That the hostage release dealing, Elyat (ph) came back in November 29, since then they are almost three months and two hostages were released by force only, 134 are still there.

So the only way to bring the hostages back is through a deal. And a deal basically, if you want to bring everybody back, that means also the end of the war, ceasefire, end of war, some political arrangement in Gaza that will not mean Hamas continuing to rule.


TAPPER: Right.

ATZILI: And that's -- that's essential for bringing the hostages home, but that's also essential for ending the horrific situation in Gaza, in the hunger and everything. So an end to war is essential and happen to -- have to happen now.

TAPPER: Yeah, and that's what you were saying. Also, Gilad, your son, is a hostage, but you don't want the Palestinian people to suffer. You want this war to end. You want the hostages home.

KORNGOLD: Yes, I want my -- the stages home. I want my son soon as possible home. We tried to recover the family that came back from Gaza. It's impossible to do it without the father or they will not be any recovery for any families without their lovers, okay, will not be any quiet in Israel without the hostages.

And we really, really believed the after -- after the hostages will come back, everything will relax, again, not loving and hugging and anymore maybe years. But all the area will relax and we -- I say, I asked President Biden and United States, force all the parties, force all the parties, including Qatar, Egypt, and Israel, to sit in negotiation table. Don't leave it until it's end.

There is Ramadan now one month, and then Pesa (ph), and now everybody is invocations and they -- we don't let -- forget the hostages.

TAPPER: Moshe, your final word?

LEVI: My word is for the wider public, whether in the U.S. and worldwide, we cannot normalize hostage-taking. We cannot normalize terrorist action is coming committed by Hamas on October 7.

Yesterday, we saw the Oscar, the Oscars. We saw people wearing a pin, that for us Israelis remind the lynch in Ramallah in the second intifada.

TAPPER: Those red hand pin, I don't know that they all knew what it meant. LEVI: I don't think they did.


LEVI: At the same time, I want them to wear this.

TAPPER: Yellow ribbon.

LEVI: If you support a cease-fire, you need to support the return of the hostages. If you support a humanitarian clause -- cause off the Palestinian, you need to support humanitarian cause of the hostages. You cannot simply call for a ceasefire without reminding them -- reminding often.

So, my call to the American public -- unite behind us if unite behind the families of hostages, I can promise you that we can start seeing an end to this. Know to focus -- focus on the hostages and negotiating solely on that. After that, we have so many decades to finish its conflict and finally live in coexisting with our neighbors.

But we will not be able to live with them in coexistence as long as hostages are still there, and as long as radical elements like Hamas were emboldened by people like those who were wearing those pins yesterday are still in power in Gaza.

TAPPER: Thank you all for being here and I hope that your loved ones are back with you soon or the remains of your loved ones are back with you soon. They say, next year in Jerusalem and when they're outside of Israel for the Passover Seder in Jerusalem. I hope all your loved ones are with you in Israel by the time of Passover.

Thank you so much for being here.

We'll be right back.



TAPPER: In our law and justice lead now, hundreds of cases involving DNA evidence from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation have been called into question. An investigation alleges a former forensic scientists repeatedly tampering with DNA test results.

CNN's Josh Campbell joins us now.

Josh, how did this come to light?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So this was launched back in late last year, an internal affairs review after authorities determined that this forensic scientist, Missy Woods, had tested DNA in a way that deviated from standard operating procedure.

Now in order to circumvent any possible conflict of interests, the Colorado Bureau of Investigation brought into Kansas Bureau of Investigation. They've been going through all of these cases that she had worked on. I'll show you some of their key findings.

They found that she had omitted material facts in certain records, that she had tampered with DNA testing by omitting some results. She had violated data retention, quality control policies, and then allegedly deleted data to try to cover up that failure. Now, about 652 cases have been impacted. Thus far, authorities are still going back in order to do a more fulsome review.

We did get a statement in from her attorney. I'll read you part of that. The attorney says, Woods has never created or reported any false inculpatory DNA matches or exclusions, nor has she testified falsely in any hearing or trial resulting in a false conviction or unjust imprisonment. It's worth pointing out that as its internal affairs review goes on, there was also a separate criminal investigation also going on according to authorities.

Jake, you understand this is the nightmare scenario for investigators, for prosecutors, when they're talking about potential convictions that now have to be reviewed. Of course, the big question is there anyone who was wrongfully convicted by her alleged shoddy analysis here. We still have to wait and see and then finally, a significant cost to taxpayers.

The Colorado Department of Public Safety has now requested over $7 million in order to go back and do this testing as authorities tried to sort out this very serious mess.

TAPPER: All right. Josh Campbell, thanks so much, shocking story.

This coming in, new reaction to the CNN exclusive reporting we broke right here on THE LEAD, at the top of the hour. Former Mar-a-Lago employee who helped move classified documents at Donald Trump's resort now speaking out.

Plus, a new allegation by House Republicans accusing the now disbanded January 6 committee withholding transcripts that undercut some of the most explosive claims about the insurrection. We're back with a brand new reporting just coming in.