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The Lead with Jake Tapper

NYT: GOP Pushes To Prosecute Dems As Payback For Trump Conviction; Speaker Johnson: Dems Have "Pushed This Pendulum Too Far"; Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE), Is Interviewed About President Biden's Mental Sharpness; Parents Of U.S.-Israeli Hostages Discuss Potential Deal; Amanda Knox's Slander Conviction Upheld By Italian Court. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired June 05, 2024 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Let's get straight to CNN's Kristen Holmes in Phoenix where Donald Trump holds a town hall meeting tomorrow. It will be his first campaign event since being convicted in the New York criminal hush money trial.

Kristen, let's start with your new reporting. Trump is actually talking about a future behind bars?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, this just goes to show you how hard it is to be a communications person around Donald Trump and try to control the narrative because Trump himself always controls the narrative. Now, if you talk to any of his senior advisors, they are making no plan for him to go to prison. His lawyers believe they have a good case for him not to go to prison. They say his age, the fact that he doesn't have any kind of criminal record makes that case and they are insisting that they -- he will not go to prison.

However, Donald Trump is making his own personal phone calls privately saying that he thinks he could very well be behind bars and that he is OK with it. I will note that almost anyone you talked to who knows Donald Trump does not think he would actually be OK with going to prison. But that is what he is telling people.

TAPPER: And you also have some reporting on this vetting process in the search for Trump's running mate.

HOLMES: Yes, things are really starting to heat up and they have in the last several weeks. Several of those potential vice presidential contenders did receive documents and request for documents to be vetted to be a potential vice presidential candidate to be at the top of the ticket. Now it's unclear who exactly got them. But as CNN has continued to report, we know several names that have been told to us that are at the top of the list that includes Doug Burgum, Marco Rubio, J.D. Vance, as well as Elise Stefanik, and Tim Scott. This just goes to show you where this process is.

I will say that if you talk to anyone around Donald Trump, they say that yes, these did go out. However, Donald Trump will ultimately decide it won't be a vetting process that picks the vice presidential candidate.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks so much for your reporting.

And this just in, at least one of those high profile names floated as a contender to be Donald Trump's vice president denies that he's being vetted. Let's get right to CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill.

Manu, who are we talking about here?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Marco Rubio of Florida Republicans, someone of course ran against Donald Trump in 2016 in a pretty vicious campaign, but things have changed over the years. And now Rubio is very much aligned with Donald Trump.

But in speaking to a group of reporters, just moments ago, he was asked about whether or not he is actually being vetted or has been contacted by the campaign. And he indicated at the moment he is not.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have you been reached out to the Trump campaign that's part of the vetting process?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): No, I haven't talked to the Trump campaign.



RAJU: Have they asked for any documents from you?

RUBIO: I haven't talked to them about vice president. I talk to you guys about vice presidents, but not them.


RAJU: So, the question is, if that will change, if there's been any discussions with any intermediaries, Rubio very much making clear there, Jake, though, there has not been much back and forth with the Trump campaign at the moment. But we'll see if things change as we get closer to the Republican convention.

TAPPER: We should also note they're currently from the same state so that would be problematic. I guess Trump would have to move back to New York or Rubio would have to move to Georgia. I don't know. Manu Raju, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

As Trump comes to terms with his guilty verdict, he and a significantly large group of allies are plotting revenge. "The New York Times" lays it all out in a piece titled "The GOP Push for Post- Verdict Payback: Fight Fire with Fire." The plan according to the reporters, a prosecutorial blitz Republicans who have accused Democrats of using the law to go after a political opponents. What they call law fair are now saying they should respond in kind. And Charlie Savage joins us now he's one of the" New York Times" reporters behind the start. So Charlie, a large number of Trump allies wants elected Republicans to take retaliatory action right now even before the election. What specifically are they pushing for?

CHARLIE SAVAGE, NATIONAL SECURTY & LEGAL REPORTER, 'THE NEW YORK TIMES": The idea here is that Republican district attorneys and prosecutors and states around the country should be looking for opportunities to bring charges against Democrats, especially high level Democrats to fight fire with fire. The premise being that all the indictments against Trump, including that one which has now been converted into felony convictions are simply a conspiracy by Joe Biden in the White House to invent cases out of thin air. And so they should be doing the same thing as opposed to cases that were based on evidence.

TAPPER: But we just reported earlier on the Senator Menendez on the on the -- you know, being tried in New York, Hunter Biden being tried in Delaware. There's an indictment against Democratic Congressman Cuellar in Texas. How do they respond to that, the fact that Democrats are obviously being prosecuted?

SAVAGE: That -- those facts are inconvenient for the conspiracy theory that the Biden administration has weaponized the Justice Department for its own political ends and so they tend to ignore those cases.


TAPPER: Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist that Trump told you that now was the moment for obscure Republican prosecutors around the country to try to make a name for themselves by prosecuting Democrats, he said, quote, "There are dozens of ambitious backbencher state attorneys general and district attorneys who need to seize the day and own this moment in history." Is this idea of really feasible?

SAVAGE: You know, district attorneys around the country are going to have a harder time going after national political figures. They only have state law to work with, they need to have jurisdiction, which means the thing needs to have happened in their space. You could see perhaps a red -- a very, you know, Republican conservative prosecutor in a purple state like Georgia that has U.S. senators who are Democrats trying to find some kind of state tax crime against those senators. But it's not like Joe Biden or Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama is running around, you know, rural Alabama and doing things that then could be a source of a crime. So I think this may be more heat than substance, unless and until Trump is reelected, in which case, he gains control of the U.S. Justice Department and then all bets are off.

TAPPER: From what you've learned in your reporting, what sort of revenge might be enacted if Trump is reelected to the White House? What would his justice department theoretically do?

SAVAGE: Well, one of the things that we would be a repeat of a previous playbook is to investigate the investigators. Some of the people that we quoted in an article are already calling for that. The note just as the Trump administration and Attorney General Bill Barr created, the Special Counsel John Durham investigation was spent four years trying to find a basis to bring criminal charges against high level Obama administration officials as revenge for the Russia investigation, but was unable to find enough sufficient evidence to do so. I think they want to go after anyone who had anything to do with the Trump cases. And so, that would be one starting place.

In addition, of course, they -- Trump himself keeps saying he's going to, you know, appoint a real special prosecutor to go after Biden and his son and the whole so called Biden crime family. Again, that's a little hard to square with the fact that Hunter Biden is currently on trial by a special counsel and a special counsel looked at Biden's, you know, mishandling of classified documents and concluded there was insufficient evidence to bring charges over that matter. But -- so bring -- assigning a real special counsel seems to mean get someone who will bring charges regardless.

TAPPER: Your piece says, quote, "The intensity of anger and open desire for using the criminal justice system against Democrats after the verdict surpasses anything seen before in Mr. Trump's tumultuous years in national politics. What is different now is the range of Republicans who are saying retaliation is necessary and who are no longer cloaking their intent with euphemisms," unquote. Was there any Republican in particular whose reaction surprised you?

SAVAGE: But you were just talking about Marco Rubio, he put out a tweet about fighting fire with fire in this context, that can only mean one thing. I think that more broadly, what you're getting there, what we're getting at there is it used to be only the most extreme sort of MAGA Republicans who would play with this idea of let's just use our control of the Justice Department to achieve political ends to go after our adversaries as an into itself. And especially since this verdict, we're seeing this sort of mainstreaming of this rhetoric, and this notion that if Democrats aren't equally persecuted with politicized investigations and prosecutions, then this will just get out of hand and there needs to be mutually assured destruction, so Democrats will stand down.

Again, the premise of all this is the cases against Trump were not based on evidence. In fact, they were just, you know, invented for political reasons. From that premise, comes the notion, well, we could do the same thing. But in the real world, you would have to find an actual evidence of a crime to do something.

TAPPER: Charlie Savage, thanks so much.

Coming up more on how Republicans are working on ways to turn their anger over Donald Trump's criminal convictions into action. What might that look like? Plus, a dramatic story of one of the heroes who helped save lives and save democracy when the U.S. changed the course of the world along with the Brits and the Canadians on D-Day.



TAPPER: And we're back with our politics lead talking about how the Republican Party's anger over Donald Trump's guilty verdicts could soon turn to action. Our panel is here.

Mike Dubke, let's listen to what Trump himself said about this issue on Newsmax.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's a terrible precedent for our country. Does that mean the next president does it to them? That's really the question.

It's a terrible, terrible path that they're leading us to. And it's very possible that it's going to have to happen to them.


TAPPER: You know, Trump, you serve under Trump in the White House. Where do you see him taking this should he be elected in November?

MIKE DUBKE, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: I think -- well, it's not just President Trump. I think Republicans across the board are upset with what does the term law fair is out there. I think we're going to hear that more and more during the campaign. I think Republicans are upset that it does feel like he was targeted with --

TAPPER: By Alvin Bragg. By the district attorney.

DUBKE: Alvin Bragg ran on targeting Donald Trump.

TAPPER: I don't know that that's actually true.

DUBKE: I believe --


TAPPER: I know that the Letitia James, the attorney general in New York --


TAPPER: -- she definitely did. But people have said that and I'm not --

DUBKE: I think if we go back and check out the videotape I think we can prove that that Bragg, regardless --


DUBKE: -- they're upset, they're upset with this. And look, we're seeing this across the board. You also, you know, folks -- Republicans think Trump was targeted. We had Republicans today that think Hunter Biden on this particular charge was targeted. We're now starting to use the legal forums as political forums.

And I suspect that if President Trump reelected, doesn't pursue it, that members of the party in the House and Senate would as well. There's there seems to be this devolution when it comes to this. Very similar when I was thinking about this to the nuclear option when Harry Reid imposed we don't need majority -- we don't need cloture votes on --

TAPPER: You don't need 60 people to close, yes.

DUBKE: I mean, look where we are now with the Supreme Court. And these things just manifest itself and pick up speed and roll down the hill.

TAPPER: So Meghan, take a listen to the speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, asked about all this on Fox earlier today.


NEIL CAVUTO, FOX NEWS ANCHOR: Are you weaponizing the House the same way --


CAVUTO: You say Democrats weaponizing the DOJ to get what they wanted? Are you just doing it in a bigger platform the entire House of Representatives?

JOHNSON: No. No, there is a very clear distinction. Democrats and the far left have pushed this pendulum too far. It's going to begin to swing back. And we have to do our job here in Congress to assist with that to hold these people accountable and to ensure that the law is being adhered to. That's the effort that you'll see play out here in the coming weeks.


TAPPER: It's a good question from Neil Cavuto because I know there are Democrats who feel like the House Oversight Committee, etcetera, is politicizing their responsibilities.

MEGHAN HAYS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: Yes, I do think they're politicizing it. But they're also not getting what they want at the end of the day. I mean, Democrats, as we've seen for the past couple of months now are really the ones in power. Mike Johnson needed them to save his job. But also on Alvin Bragg running like Trump was found guilty by a jury of his peers of 12 people, so that's great that he might have run on that, but he was also found guilty by 12 different people. So it's kind of rich of him to say that.

TAPPER: Do you have concerns at all about, let's assume that that Republicans do go down this road and start going -- let's -- for the sake of argument, let's say that, again, this is just for the sake of argument, that Donald Trump did commit those misdemeanors, but they should not have been felonies. OK. That's --


TAPPER: And that the district attorney making them into felonies was law fair in this theory?

DUBKE: Yes. TAPPER: Do you have concerns about Republicans doing the same to Democrats? Isn't that just --

DUBKE: I personally do have concerns that this is -- as I said earlier, it is going to devolve that we are going to see this on both the left and the right. I mean, unfortunately, on both the left and the right, we have elected officials that sometimes care more about how much time they get on television or how much money that they can raise to small dollar donors because of their salacious -- their --

TAPPER: Hyperbolic.

DUBKE: -- e-mails.


DUBKE: And less about governing the country. And this is one form of that.

TAPPER: What do you think? Do you have any concern about it?

HAYS: No, I have a lot of concern that former President Trump is reelected. I mean, he has already said that he will have revenge and he will do these things. He doesn't have respect for the rule of law. It's a huge contrast.

TAPPER: I mean, if you have any concern about your party may be doing some of the same? Like the Alvin Bragg case was a -- it was a novel theory, the way it was applied.

HAYS: Right.

TAPPER: And even people who do not like Trump aren't necessarily fans of what was done. Do you have any concerns about that?

HAYS: No, I don't. I also think we have a president who has a ton of respect for the rule of law, just the way he's handling the Hunter case right now shows you that he's trying not to politicize it. He's been very, very clear about he is a father and being supportive. So I just think it's different in the contrast of it.

DUBKE: I just -- we've got Wisconsin, we've got Arizona, we've got Nevada, we've got Georgia, we've got all these states, battleground states that elected to wait three and a half, three years to file charges.

TAPPER: Are you talking about the fake elector scheme?

DUBKE: Absolutely.


DUBKE: Now, is there there there? Probably. But why would you wait three years? Why would you wait to the -- to election season? And in every case, it's a battleground state and it's a Democratic prosecutor. So I respectfully disagree that Democrats aren't already taking it now.

TAPPER: To be continued. You're both great. Thank you for being here. Appreciate it.

We do have some breaking news. It's a busy afternoon and breaking news on The Lead. Law enforcement sources are telling CNN that the suspect charged in New York's Gilgo Beach serial killings will now be charged with additional murders. CNN's Jean Casarez is with me on this breaking news.

Jean, what do we know about these new charges?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we were just able to confirm that it is expected that tomorrow in Long Island that Rex Heuermann who has already been charged with four murders will be charged now with two more alleged serial killer murders. First of all, we're learning the name of Jessica Taylor. Now Jessica Taylor, her partial remains were found in the year 2003 in a marshy area in Manorville. It's sort of a forest area.


And it is a month ago that law enforcement was searching that area, but it was 2003. They were initially found -- other remains were found in 2011. And then also Valerie Mack, whose remains were found in the year 2000 in that same area, additional remains in 2011. Now these two women were sex workers, we do not know how Rex Heuermann was linked to them through forensics. We do know that with the previous victims, it was sex worker ads, burner phones from him, cell phone tower pings when both the sex worker and he were in the Massapequa area, and then the disappearance of the victim.

So we know that was the timeline with the previous victims we don't know. But here's what stands out, Jake. Number one, this shows that he allegedly began killing victims much earlier because the other four were deceased, and it was believed that they were deceased in 2007, 2009, and 2010 right in that area. So this is the early 2000s. So it shows a more expansive time period.

Secondly, another thing that is very important here is that there were body parts that were found. And so the possibility is that these victims were dismembered, if not animals can carry those remains even to distant areas, but was the modus operandi of this alleged serial killer different early on than what it was in the later years. And law enforcement is telling through sources to John Miller who got this information that this is just the beginning of this information.

TAPPER: All right, Jean Casarez with some shocking news about the Gilgo Beach serial killer. Thank you so much.

Coming up a stunning headline and a ferocious response from the White House, one of the President's closest allies is here to respond to the latest discussion and attacks on Joe Biden's age.



TAPPER: In our world lead today, King Charles and Queen Kamala -- Camilla, sorry, commemorated the sacrifices and bravery of World War II veterans. This is on the eve of D-Day in Portsmouth, England. On the other side of the channel, President Biden arrived in France to mark the 80th anniversary of when U.S. and allied forces the Brits and the Canadians all stormed the beaches of Normandy to defeat Nazi Germany. There are fewer than 200 World War II veterans who are still alive we're expected to return for one last big reunion tomorrow.

Now for one member of the CNN family, our bureau chief here in Washington DC Sam Feist, tomorrow ceremony is going to be deeply personal. And CNN's Tom Foreman brings us his story.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the thundering wake of nearly 160,000 allied troops who stormed ashore on D-Day, here came another across the sands of Normandy, 24-year-old Herbert Feist, an American soldier with a suitcase and a secret power.

SAM FEIST, CNN WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF: He could be invisible, and that's what he did.

FOREMAN (voice-over): To understand what his grandson Sam means we have to back up. Herbert was born to a Jewish family in Berlin, German to the core, and his parents urging he fled the rise of the Nazis and their antisemitic purges before the war.

FOREMAN: Fifteen years old, he gets a visa and by himself leaves Germany to come here.

FEIST: On a ship from Hamburg to New York, and didn't speak English.

FOREMAN (voice-over): But the blue eyed blond haired young man did speak German. So as his father was swept into the Buchenwald work camp in Germany, and America charged toward battle, young Herbert enlisted in his new country found a powerful asset.

FEIST: His job is to be an intelligence officer. And across the frontlines, behind the lines, whatever it took because he knew German, and he was German, and he sounded like a German.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are you going, General?


FOREMAN (voice-over): With legendary General George Patton's Army, Herbert Feist, storms across Europe, spying behind German lines, questioning prisoners, proving his mettle for America. Afraid?

FEIST: Of course. And he knew what the consequences would be for a American soldier who was Jewish, particularly a German refugee.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Herbert's father had slipped away from Buchenwald just before the war began taking advantage of a rare pass and a tip from a guard, joining Herbert's mother for a desperate race to the U.S. And as the Nazis fell, Herbert saw what his parents would have surely faced.

FEIST: He liberated Buchenwald and the photos that he took with his little Kodak camera are as bad as any Holocaust movie you've ever seen. He never talked about it his entire life. Only right before he died did he actually tell the stories that I'm sharing with you now.

FOREMAN (voice-over): It is proper that Sam is sharing his grandfather's stories. Sam Feist is the Washington bureau chief for CNN overseeing all the pools coverage of this D-Day anniversary.


FEIST: As I think about my grandfather, I think about the veterans that I'm going to meet in Normandy on this anniversary, it's just powerful. It's unbelievably powerful that this group of Americans would travel to a distant continent to fight for both us, Americans back home, and also for people in Europe that they didn't know.

FOREMAN (voice-over): Herbert Fies (ph), passed away at 86. Forever proud to be German by birth, American by choice, once in war now at peace.


FOREMAN (on camera): It didn't sound a long time and I've never really heard that story until recently, but as he noted, he didn't know it until recently, like so many members of the greatest generation, his grandfather just didn't talk about these things. He was a young man. The country saw an opportunity in him, a rare and special opportunity because here was a German who had come to join them. And he bravely went in did what they asked, just because they asked it, and then he went on with his life. Remarkable story.

TAPPER: It's a really -- it's a -- it's -- I got chills from it Tom. It's a great story. And I hope, Sam -- I hope, Sam and Normandy is finding it a meaningful experience. I got to go about 10 years ago, and it is just powerful seeing all those veterans and looking at that intimidating shoreline. Tom Foreman, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

One of President Biden's closest allies is going to join me to talk about that blistering "Wall Street Journal" report. I'm going to ask him what he thinks about the insinuations that the President is aging out of the job. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, the White House today vehemently pushing back on a new report on the President's age and mental acuity. The White House communications director posting that the story in "The Wall Street Journal" was a complete and utter editorial failure by "The Wall Street Journal." Makes you wonder who they're taking orders from, unquote. Maybe that's an insinuation because "The Wall Street Journal" is owned by News Corp, which is run by the Murdoch's.

This is all in response to this headline today from "The Journal," quote, behind closed doors, Biden shows signs of slipping, unquote. Beyond the headline, there is some critical nuance here. The article is mostly based on observations of Republicans with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy, the only one going on the record.

The thrust of the article is this, quote, some who have worked with him, the President, including Democrats, and some who have known him back to his time as vice president, described the president, who appears slower now, someone who has both good moments and bad ones, unquote. Democratic Senator Patty Murray joined the White House in pushing back, saying she offered the Wall Street Journal on the record statements contradicting this narrative, she says, that were not included.

Here to discuss Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, a longtime friend and ally of President Biden. Senator Coons, thanks so much for joining us. So what's your response to the article? Surely you acknowledge that any 81-year-old seems a little slower than he did at say, 61 or 71, that's just the aging process.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, that's right, Jake. But frankly, this particular article, and I know both of the reporters well --

TAPPER: They're great reporters.

COONS: -- struck me as maybe this was an editorial choice, not including any of the clear and supportive and strong quotes that a whole series of us who are Democratic senators offered based on our recent experience with President Biden. But they did choose to quote three different Republicans, including Jim Risch, Republican senator, who gave very critical quotes. So, look, I frankly think it was misrepresentative. It was edited in a way that was designed to produce a particular result. I gave a long and detailed quote about some direct experiences I've had with the president recently where he's shown mastery of the topic where he's led a really compelling conversation in a bipartisan context, talking about the Israel-Gaza conflict.

TAPPER: So "The Journal" states it was based on interviews with 45 people over months that were either in meetings or briefed on meetings with President Biden. They do note in the article that most of the criticism comes from Republicans, but not all of it. They said that some of the criticism was from Democrats, although they said it, you know, on background or off the record. Have you heard any concerns from anyone who has met with President Biden about him seeming a little slower?



COONS: If your core question is President Biden up to the job? Absolutely. Have I heard from some of my colleagues concerns about the character difference between him and Donald Trump? Absolutely. Have I heard concerns about what Donald Trump would do if he were president compared to what Joe Biden has done and would do if reelected? Absolutely. And I don't hear a lot of coverage of the ways in which former President Trump makes very similar slips, mistakes, mishaps, fails to grasp, who he's talking to or where he is. There's been a relentless focus in some news outlets on minor slips by our president that I frankly think are typical of anyone who's keeping a demanding 14 hours a day schedule.

TAPPER: Turning to another subject, you just got back from a trip to Taiwan, the Philippines and Singapore. This comes on the heels of aggressive military drills by China. How concerned are you about what China might do, whether or not they will take military action when it comes to Taiwan?

COONS: Very. And part of the point of there being a bipartisan delegation from the Senate and a bipartisan delegation from the House to go visit Taiwan right after the inauguration of their new president was to push back on China's aggressive behavior in the South China Sea. Their posturing with regards to Taiwan and things they've done throughout the region. I got to meet the new president of the Philippines, Bong Bong Marcos, who spoke at the Shanghai dialogue, excuse me, the Singapore Shangri La dialogue. And there is an ongoing contest over sovereignty, over control of something called the Second Thomas Shoal, an outcropping in the middle of the South China Sea that's long been considered Philippine territory, but where there's a real contest of wills between the Chinese and the Filipinos.

Our Secretary of Defense, Secretary Austin, spoke at that conference very forcefully, very clearly about our treaty commitments to the Philippines. And there was a sharp contrast between how he presented the United States and our interest in the region and the minister of defense from China, who also spoke.


TAPPER: All right, Senator Chris Coons, thanks so much for being here. Really appreciate it.

COONS: Thank you Jake.

TAPPER: And welcome back.

The pain felt by the families of those taken hostage by Hamas, both the families of those still believed to be alive and those who tragically have been confirmed dead. Next, the family's latest plea focused on getting the latest ceasefire deal across the finish line. Stay with us.


TAPPER: Back with our world lead. America's top spy chief, CIA Director Bill Burns is back in the Middle East to attempt to get the latest hostage and ceasefire proposal across the finish line. Despite the possible progress, the pain felt by the families of the hostages seized by Hamas terrorists remains. At least eight dual American- Israeli citizens were taken hostage on October 7th. Israeli officials believe five of the eight might still be alive. Twenty-two-year-old Omer Neutra is one of them. He has spent more than 240 days in terrorist captivity. Tragically, as we reported at the time, back in March, the IDF confirmed that 19-year-old Itay Chen was murdered by Hamas on October 7th. His remains were then brought to Gaza and are still there today. Itay Chen's father, Ruby, and Omer Neutra's mother, Orna, join us now. You guys are familiar guests of this show, and you'll keep coming back until this horrible hostage crisis and war is over. Orna, you met with U.S. officials this week. Are you optimistic of a deal?


ORNA NEUTRA, MOTHER OF ISRAELI-AMERICAN HOSTAGE OMER NEUTRA: I believe we've been through this cycle more than once.

TAPPER: What do you think is holding -- what do you think is preventing it?

NEUTRA: Well, what we're hearing right now is that Hamas is preventing it, right? We've heard from Jake Sullivan yesterday that Israel has leaned in and has pretty much offered what Hamas was asking for a couple of weeks back. And everyone's breath is on hold right now, once again waiting to hear from Hamas whether they really want this war to end or they just want to continue the fighting.

TAPPER: What do you think is keeping this deal from happening? Is your understanding the same as Orna's? Do you also think Netanyahu is playing a role here in holding up a deal? What do you think?

RUBY CHEN, FATHER OF ISRAELI-AMERICAN HOSTAGE ITAY CHEN: Well, it's called the Netanyahu deal, so it's pretty difficult to say that he opposes the deal, that he actually confirmed he and his war cabinet just a few days ago, which President Biden echoed on Friday. So I think now the onus is on Hamas as well as the allies of the United States in the Middle East, specifically Egypt and Qatar, to get this to the finish line.

TAPPER: Do you think Egypt and Qatar are not doing enough to pressure Hamas? I think it's pretty clear that Hamas doesn't particularly care about what happens to the Palestinian people, but they might care about their relationships with Egypt and especially Qatar.

NEUTRA: I think until the deal is done and we start seeing people come out, they're not doing enough. I think nobody is doing enough until this actually happens.

TAPPER: Ruby, you joined the show after your son, your beloved son, Itay, was confirmed killed, and you described the months before you knew his fate as psychological warfare by Hamas. I mean, they're twisted, Hamas, right? The leaders of Hamas are twisted by definition what they did on October 7th, the way they don't care, the way they embed and hide among the Palestinian people to, you know, to inflict as much casualties against their own people. So Israel gets blamed for it. How do you have faith in a negotiating partner like that?

CHEN: Yes, I would look at Islam for a second and I would even challenge any Imam that is listening to me now to find any reference in the Quran, the Arab holy Bible, where there is reference to dealing with the deceased, which so much indignity.

TAPPER: Yes. Orna, you and other parents, including Ruby, attended the Israel Day parade in New York on Sunday. The hostage families forum says 60,000 people showed up, many chanting, holding banners, calling for the immediate release of the hostages. How did that feel? We've seen a lot of the other side of the argument in protests in the United States, people who don't seem to care about the hostages. How did the support for hostages feel?

NEUTRA: We felt a lot of support, and not just from the Jewish community. I ran into a Christian family that flew in, especially from Tennessee. This young girl, maybe eight-year-old, shared with me that in her school, they pray for the hostage every single day. And I also want to add that on Monday, we actually participated in an interfaith event with Muslim leaders from the New York area and hostage, Muslim families that flew in from Israel to participate in this event.

And I want to commend, you know, these leaders for speaking up, for saying that this is not the way of the Quran, and for being brave about doing that. And I hope we hear more of these voices because I believe that most people disagree with what's going on and would like to see things evolve differently.

TAPPER: A majority of Israelis, according to polling, suggest that they think that the Netanyahu government has been too focused on attacking and not focused enough on getting the hostages back. Do you agree?

CHEN: I think that the timeline of the hostages and the destruction of Hamas on two separate timelines. And I think that there is a majority, a vast majority of the people of Israel that are behind us, the hostage families. I think that the government of Israel today at least understands that position and is doing what it can to put an off on the table that, again, is positive towards what Hamas have wanted. And the strategic question to Yahya Sinwar, does he want to continue to live in a cave and bring suffering to the people in Gaza, or is there a better future for all of us? And I think that's the answer that he needs to ask.


TAPPER: Orna, how has your view of the Netanyahu government if it has changed, how has it changed over the last, since October 7th?

NEUTRA: I'm waiting for them to take responsibility. I will say that as an American dual citizen of both countries, the compassion and the attention and seriousness which we've been addressed over here, the difference is starking between --

TAPPER: People are more respectful and more serious in the United States than they are in the Israeli government.

NEUTRA: That's towards the hostage families.

CHEN: I would echo that.


TAPPER: That's awful.

NEUTRA: But I also would echo what, yes, it's been pretty awful. But I would also echo what Ruby is saying, that I believe that apart from some French members of the government, most government members feel that it's time to bring the hostages out right now, too.

CHEN: I just finished that by saying when I got the awful news, President Biden gave us a call for a condolence call.


CHEN: I'm still waiting for that call from my prime minister.

TAPPER: Ruby and Orna, we're going to keep covering this until they're home in their different ways. Thank you so much for being here, and may Itay's memory be a blessing, as always. We'll be back in a moment.



TAPPER: And back with our World Lead, the Italian legal system is not done punishing American, Amanda Knox, despite the fact that Amanda Knox has been completely exonerated. Her conviction for slander was upheld by an Italian court today for comments she made during an extensive and abrasive interrogation nearly 20 years ago. Remember, that interrogation was just after her roommate Meredith Kercher's brutal murder while they were studying abroad in Italy. Amanda Knox, of course, infamously spent four years in prison before her conviction was overturned by an Italian judge who said that the initial prosecution had, quote, nothing to do with evidence, unquote.

But years later, Europe's top human rights court ordered Italy to pay her more than $20,000 in damages still. CNN's Barbie Nadeau is in Italy, where Amanda Knox once again has been thrust into Italy's harsh legal system.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Amanda, how do you feel today?

BARBIE LATZA NADEAU, CNN CONTRIBUTOR (voice-over): Amanda Knox, an American who spent four years in an Italian prison for the 2007 murder of her British roommate, Meredith Kercher, before being absolved, is still a convicted criminal on a separate charge in the eyes of the Italian court. Knox, now a mother of two, returned to Italy from Seattle to attend a hearing on Wednesday, hoping a court in Florence would clear her of a slander conviction for falsely accusing the manager of the bar where she worked, Patrick Lumumba, of Kercher's murder, sending the innocent man to jail for two weeks. Knox wrote on X on Monday that she hoped she would finally clear her name of the, quote, false charges. But it wasn't to be. CARLO DALLA VEDOVA, AMANDA KNOX'S LAWYER: We were very surprised of the outcome of the decision. Amanda is very upset, and from the outcome of this hearing, she was looking to have a final point of all this 17 years now judicial procedure.

NADEAU (voice-over): Knox and her former Italian boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted of Kercher's murder in 2009, along with Ivory Coast native Rudy Guede. Knox was an exchange student in Italy at the time. An appellate court then overturned Knox and Sollecito's convictions, and Knox went home to Seattle.

AMANDA KNOX: Just thank you to everyone who has believed in me, who has defended me, who has supported my family.

NADEAU (voice-over): But another Italian court reinstated the convictions, which were definitively overturned in 2015 by Italy's highest court. However, the slander conviction for Knox remained. Knox later petitioned the European Court of Human Rights, which ruled in 2019 that Italian investigators violated Knox's rights by garnering the false accusation without the presence of a lawyer or adequate translator.

They also ruled that Italy should pay her nearly $21,000. Knox said she felt sure the Italian court would agree with the European ruling. Instead, the court upheld that Knox is guilty of slandering her former boss. She had already served the original slander sentence when she spent four years in a detention following her wrongful imprisonment for murder. Her lawyer said they would consider appealing once again, meaning that this is not the last word on a case that has lingered for nearly two decades.

Barbie Latza Nadeau, CNN, Florence.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Barbie Nadeau for that report.

Our last leads start in orbit as Boeing Starliner spacecraft finally got off the ground today. This is the first crewed mission involving the Starliner. Its launch had been scrubbed twice before this morning's successful liftoff, the capsule carrying NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore will dock with the International Space Station tomorrow afternoon.

Some retail workers at T.J. Maxx and Marshalls in our Money Lead are now wearing body cameras, the parent of the stores. TJX, says the police, like security, is meant to discourage shoplifting and keep employees safe. Critics argues that shoplifters already go in with the expectation of being recorded and underpaid and under trained employees could make matters worse when it comes to enforcing these rules.


You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, X, formerly known as Twitter, on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can follow the show on X at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to the show once you get your podcasts. All two hours just sitting there like a big, juicy summer peach. The news continues on CNN with Wolf Blitzer right next door in a place I like to call the Situation Room. See you tomorrow.