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Elon Musk Reinstates Accounts Of Several Journalists After Backlash; Migrant Border Crossing Surge Ahead Of Title 42 Repeal; January 6th Committee Expected To Refer Multiple Criminal Charges Against Trump To DOJ; Trump Launches NFT Digital Trading Cards For $99; Airlines Cut Back On Perks As Travel Demand Rises; State Department: U.S. In Touch With American Citizens Stranded In Peru; National Archives Releases 13,000-Plus Documents On JFK's Assassination. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired December 17, 2022 - 15:00   ET



JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington.

New today, Elon Musk has reinstated the Twitter accounts of several prominent journalists he had banned without warning despite repeated claims of supporting free speech. Late last night Musk tweeted, "The people have spoken," after posting an unscientific poll where he had asked users to vote on whether the Twitter suspension should be lifted immediately or extended for another week.

Those journalists include CNN's very own Donie O'Sullivan. They have covered Musk extensively in recent weeks. And in the course of doing their jobs, which is to report the facts, they were falsely accused of sharing Musk's exact real time location. The Twitter boss accused them of, quote, "giving out assassination coordinates," which of course is flatly false and is just not true.

What had happened in reality is that they were reporting on Twitter's decision to ban an account that tracked Elon Musk's private jet. An account that Musk had initially promised not to take down. Here's the moment when journalists challenged Elon Musk on that very point.


DREW HARRELL, WASHINGTON POST: I never posted your address.

ELON MUSK, TWITTER CEO: You posted a link to the address.

HARRELL: We posted a link, in the course of reporting about ElonJet, we posted links to ElonJet which are now not online and now banned on Twitter.

MUSK: You dox, you get suspended. End of story. That's it.

KATIE NOTOPOULOS, BUZZFEED NEWS: Elon, I have to ask, I mean, I think what everyone is wondering, it's highly unusual for journalists at the "Washington Post" and the "New York Times" to be -- have their Twitter accounts suspended. And it just so happens that it's, you know, the boss in charge. You know, so, you know, what's the deal there? I think Elon has left.


ACOSTA: There you go. And joining me now, one of the journalists who had his account abruptly banned and then reinstated. Steven Herman is a chief national correspondent for Voice of America. Also with us, Mike Isaac, technology correspondent for the "New York Times."

Steven, let me start with you. Thanks for being with us here in the studio. You quickly learned that there were conditions to this reinstatement. Tell us what's going on, whether you plan to comply with these conditions to get back on Twitter.

STEVEN HERMAN, CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT, VOICE OF AMERICA: Yes, Jim. When I got up this morning I saw a bunch of news stories that my account had been reinstated with those of the others. Well, that's not exactly true, as you pointed out.


HERMAN: I went to my account. And it said if I wanted to be reinstated I had to delete three tweets. And I could appeal if I didn't want to delete the tweets. So I appealed. And then all of my timeline disappeared. Until then, I could still see my old tweets and I could also see other people's tweets. So now while I'm in appeal, a deeper level of purgatory apparently, I'm totally locked out of my account.

ACOSTA: So you're in Twitter limbo right now?


ACOSTA: You can't use the platform.

HERMAN: Absolutely.

ACOSTA: Because you're not implying with Elon Musk's demands that you delete these tweets that, I guess, he doesn't like.

HERMAN: That's exactly right. The tweets all refer to the ElonJet account. I talked about how ElonJet was still on Mastodon and other social media platform and Facebook. And so those were apparently the offending tweets.

ACOSTA: OK. And Mike, Elon Musk initially mocked his critics over this ban tweeting. "So inspiring to see this newfound love of freedom of speech by the press." I mean, I should note, full disclosure, I had my press credentials revoked during the Trump administration, got them back, we went through a federal judge.

Going into that experience, so, you know, I wonder, do you think the public understands the gravity of the situation when the very powerful are able to silence people tasked with holding them accountable? I mean, you guys were literally trying to hold Elon Musk's feet to the fire and it sounds like he'd enough and he lashed out. It sounds familiar.

MIKE ISAAC, TECHNOLOGY CORRESPONDENT, NEW YORK TIMES: You're totally right. I remember when you got kicked out of the press pool a few years back. And no, it's -- you know, my colleague Ryan Mack was suspended as you guys noted before. We have been aggressively reporting on Elon. I think the thing that's really hypocritical in a lot of this is that he claims to be a free speech sort of warrior, free speech maximalist, when it suits him.

And then when, you know, I think he really made a very emotional decision when he had what he said was a stalker following one of his children in another car.


And look, right, obviously that's a terrible thing. No one wants that to happen. But he's also been fixated on ElonJet, this account, for a very long time. Tried to pay the guy to take it down. And so there's something like really personal on how he's been dealing with it. And I think that can be really dangerous when personal or sort of feelings begin to interpret policy and really rewrite all of the (INAUDIBLE) Twitter in a matter of an afternoon for Elon.

ACOSTA: Yes. And Steven, I think Elon Musk was also making a pretty incendiary accusation. I mean, if you're a reporter covering a politician or sporting event and you tweet that a senator has just arrived on the floor, that a player has arrived at the stadium, I suppose you're talking about their real time location. But if you're talking about Elon Musk's jet, I mean, how in the world are you supposed to be providing precise coordinates at any given moment?

And, you know, I mean, if you were to extrapolate this out and engage in this fantasy, I mean, does he think the U.S. Air Force is coming? I mean it's just so strange.

HERMAN: You and I at the White House for four years tweeted where Air Force One was and the president of the United States.

ACOSTA: That's right.

HERMAN: Who is obviously somebody that other people would like to harm around the world. So it's utterly ridiculous.

ACOSTA: But I wonder if you take some serious exception to this and that he would make that kind of charge, assassination coordinates. I mean, that is a or dangerously loaded term, if I may say.

HERMAN: Well, we're trying this now obviously in the court of public opinion. And he did make a move to conditionally allow the suspended journalists including myself back on Twitter if we agree to his terms. But what is it going to be next week? That's the question. The rules are moving hour by hour and it appears to be Elon Musk who is making the rules.

ACOSTA: Right. As we go along, by the seat of his pants. And Mike, before all this happened, there were other unflattering

headlines about Elon Musk not paying at Twitter since the takeover, threatening to end severance for laid-off workers. What else is going on over there? I mean, it just -- it is, you know, it's sort of like that, you know, that meme of the bird or the dog or whatever in hell saying this is fine and everything is on fire. Of course since then they've replaced it with the Twitter bird. But it's not fine.

ISAAC: No. That's right. I keep thinking of the Sideshow Bob who keeps stepping on rakes, if you remember that.


ISAAC: But it really is like a comedy of errors over there. I think the biggest problem is Elon wants to drum up activity on the site. You know, Twitter is very influential. People like us, you know, are on it all the time. Big news headlines sort of go from it. But at the same time it's a micro sort of niche network compared to, say, Facebook or other social platforms. And so my suspicion and some reporting has supported this out is that he's basically trying to increase engagement on the site with a lot of the recent stuff including the Twitter Files stuff that he's been disclosing and get more activity on the site, trying to get Trump back.

But at the same time advertisers are basically recoiling from how a lot more toxic content feels like it's sort of floating up, including from Elon's own account, you know, sort of going after his own employees. So I think he really has a remedy problem that he's trying to deal with. And as we've seen in recent headlines, he's starting to try to raise more money from investors to deal with all the money going out the door.

ACOSTA: Yes. And Steven, I mean, one of the things that this, I mean, this whole episode with Elon Musk taking over Twitter and your suspension, your suspension of other journalists, what it's highlighted is that there are these other social media platforms out there where folks can engage in the same kind of civil discourse, perhaps an elevated civil discourse, places like Post and Mastodon. And also I know you're there. I've signed up for it in recent days. Because it just seems like we might need an alternative here pretty soon if this keeps going the way it's going right now.

HERMAN: Well, when I was suspended I had 3,000 followers on Mastodon. As of right now looking at my phone, I have 29,000. So it is boosting apparently a bit of an exodus from Twitter.

ACOSTA: Yes. And these platforms, Mike, are pretty user friendly.

ISAAC: Yes. I mean, look, I think there's a lot of folks in the start- up community who sense opportunity, who know that, you know, platforms like, let's say Truth Social or Parler or whatever that claim to be like free speech maximalism also turn off a lot of folks who don't want to basically get in political fights all the time. You know, and I think that's why folks are leaving Twitter because it's been highly partisanized, highly politicized.


And I do think that folks are starting to figure out what is post- Twitter. What is next. It might be sites like Post or Mastodon.

ACOSTA: All right. Well, Steve Herman, Mike Isaac, thanks very much.

Steve, I just want to also show a little solidarity with you. It is wrong to ban journalists. Banning journalists backfires and I think Elon Musk is learning that right now because we care about what folks like you do for a living. We appreciate it very much.

HERMAN: Thank you, Jim.

ACOSTA: Thank you.

Right now a surge of migrants is arriving at the southern border. And that influx could get much bigger. Take a look at these images from the Rio Grande. Migrants braving freezing conditions to line up and turn themselves into border control officers. It's partly because of a pandemic era policy that allows officials to turn migrants way. That is set to end in just four days from now.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is following this for us from El Paso, Texas.

Ed, this uptick is border crossings is putting a strain on El Paso. There's no doubt about that. What are you seeing?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, you know, here in downtown El Paso, it's been one of the busier days we've seen over the last couple of days. Many out here is dropping off donations, there are a couple gentlemen who brought boxes of children's clothing, shoes, all those kinds of items. A big truck in the distance has a truck full of blankets. Out here you can see a food truck that has brought lunch for people.

And the line goes about probably 70 people deep or so. And this is because even though the long line of migrants arriving that we've been seeing on the Juarez side of the border here in El Paso and Juarez has dissipated. There are still people coming through and arriving.

And the backlog here, Jim, is that it is taking several days for many of these people to get transportation away from the border region. These are people, if you talk to many of them as we have for the last week, they are going to places all over the country, from Nevada, to Connecticut, to Georgia, all over the country. But it is taking time for many of these people to find bus transportation or flights to get out of this region.

And that is why city and county officials are so concerned about the lifting of Title 42 on Wednesday because if indeed that happens and the expected happens, there will be an even greater influx of migrants arriving here in the city. The shelters here on this side are already over capacity. And that is forcing a lot of people to essentially camp out on the streets here. And it has been painfully frigid cold for much of the week. And that is expected to continue into the week leading into the

Christmas holidays as well. So many people here are making makeshift camps here on the side. And this is really happening around the bus stations. And the reason this is also happening is because, especially families arriving together, a lot of times they are released from Border Patrol custody at different times. So these bus stations have become kind of the central gathering point for a lot of these families to reunite so that they're not just scattered all over the city.

And that is where you're seeing also a lot of volunteers who are coming to buy to bring food, blankets, whatever they can to help these people get through the difficult days here of being on the streets. City officials here are saying that in the coming days, this transportation issue, getting people out of here, will be the most difficult aspect of handling this potential humanitarian crisis.


MARIO D'ANGOSTINO, EL PASO DEPUTY CITY MANAGER: There is not enough funding to buy our way out of this. There's not enough shelter space here in El Paso. There's not enough transportation out of El Paso and it's not just -- speaking of El Paso, that's where I'm at. It's any of these border communities that are going to see this influx in the next few days. We need to look at how can we de-compress to other areas. If you're going to allow them to pass through, take them to where there is larger transportation hubs where people can connect and get to their destination a lot quicker, and so leaving all this strain along the border region.


LAVANDERA: And so, Jim, what he's referring to there is trying to get people away from El Paso to places like Phoenix, Denver, Houston, and Dallas, where there are more transportation options and they can move people out of here quickly and keep them off the streets here in cities like El Paso and other border communities in the weeks ahead. -- Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Ed Lavandera keeping an eye on things down in El Paso. Thanks so much for that update. We appreciate it.

Coming up, former President Donald Trump is dipping his toes into the NFT market, selling digital trading cards that show him as a super hero for $99. Yes, seriously. We'll talk about that next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: After a 17-month congressional investigation, CNN has learned the January 6th Committee is set to announce it will refer at least three criminal charges against former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department. That is expected to happen at the committee's final public hearing on Monday. The latest now from CNN's Sara Murray.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We will never give up. We will never concede. It doesn't happen.

SARA MURRAY, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The January 6th Committee considering asking the Justice Department to pursue criminal charges against former President Donald Trump.

TRUMP: We fight. We fight like hell.

MURRAY: A source telling CNN those charges include obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the federal government, and there could be more. Members huddling behind closed doors to put the finishing touches on the final report they plan to unveil next week.

REP. ZOE LOFGREN (D-CA): I've spent countless hours along with the other committee members going through the report and the appendices, looking at the footnotes, editing.

MURRAY: Chairman Bennie Thompson saying the committee will lay out its top line findings in Monday's public meeting, but plans to share an executive summary of the panel's growing investigation and perhaps even the bulk of the report if it's finished in time.

REP. BENNIE THOMPSON (D-MS): We have made decisions that criminal referrals will happen.

MURRAY: The committee also planning to reveal who they think should be held accountable with referrals for possible state bar discipline, referrals for possible campaign finance violation, referrals to the House Ethics Committee and referrals to the Department of Justice for possible criminal prosecution.


THOMPSON: We have left no doubt, none, that Donald Trump led an effort to upend American democracy that directly resulted in the violence of January 6th.

MURRAY: Lawmakers especially focused in their hearings and public appearances on Trump's potential culpability.

REP. ADAM KINZINGER (R-IL): I think he's guilty of a crime. He knew what he did. We've made that clear. He knew what was happening prior to January 6th.

MURRAY: While the referrals will lay a marker for posterity --

KINZINGER: Where I think this work is going to actually echo the loudest, though, is not even necessarily tomorrow, not even if the Justice Department does, it's going to echo through the history books. MURRAY: Trump is already facing scrutiny from the Justice Department

in its probe into the attack on the U.S. Capitol and efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Some of his top allies in the scheme, lawyers Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman and former DOJ official Jeffrey Clark all face investigations from state bars.



MURRAY: Clark's home also searched.

CLARK: Can I put pants on first?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, you got to clear the house.

MURRAY: As he faces DOJ scrutiny as well. An unsealed court filing this week revealing federal investigators have accessed e-mails between Clark and Representative Scott Perry, who refused to talk to the January 6th Committee.

(On-camera): Now when it comes to the committee, in addition to referring to DOJ that they've pursued charges of obstruction of an official proceeding and conspiracy to defraud the federal government, we're also learning they're expecting to refer to DOJ a charge of insurrection.

Now these are all mostly symbolic. The Justice Department does not take its cues from Congress, of course. But lawmakers on this committee have felt like it's important for the historical record and to sum up their work, they say they have found evidence of criminal activity and they feel like it's important to put that forward to the Department of Justice.

Sara Murray, CNN, Washington.


ACOSTA: Need a last-minute Christmas present? How's this for a stocking stuffer? Former President Donald Trump has rolled out NFT digital trading cards for the bargain price of $99. Now you can give that special someone in your life digital art of Trump as a superhero complete with, yes, Photoshopped muscles, or maybe Trump as an astronaut, boxing champion or professional golfer. Trump had billed the debut of the cards as a major announcement. We'll let you be the judge.

CNN's Jon Sarlin joins me now.

Jon, does this seem to be anything more than Trump trying to make a quick buck? And I know that sounds astounding to some of our viewers. And is it working?

JON SARLIN, PRODUCER, CNN DIGITAL: Well, it is working right now. This project has sold out. It's selling at right now around five times the $99 price. So a lot of money is coming in. You can go to OpenSea which is a big NFT marketplace, you can see Trump's collection right up on the top. For anyone who has followed crypto and specifically this crypto celebrity industry, it's always been a bit odd that Trump himself hasn't gone in earlier, right?

I mean, this is an industry that rewarded celebrities with a certain level of shamelessness who are willing to hawk these essentially worthless products onto their fans. Well, anyone who has a cursory knowledge of Trump's business dealings knows that that is something that he would probably be interested in, right? This is like Trump Steaks without the meat. And when you see Trump get involved in the crypto market, it's coming at a very interesting timing, crypto, right?

The prices of crypto have fallen as we're seeing FTX and FTX's former CEO Sam Bankman-Fried get indicted. And those same celebrities who were endorsing crypto are now finding themselves on the wrong end of class-action lawsuits. So President Trump has made this grand entrance into the crypto market at a very entering time. And it's coming with a cost, right? This is someone who is literally running for president and he teased it with, as you said, with this major announcement.

When that major announcement turned out to be this NFT collection, some of his closest allies saw it as beneath the former president and lashed out. People like Michael Flynn and Steve Bannon.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER ADVISER TO TRUMP: He's one of the greatest presidents in history. I got to tell you, whoever, what business partner and anybody in the comms team, and anybody at Mar-a-Lago, and I love the folks down there, but we're at war. They ought to be fired today. You came out with something that's so important which I still don't think it's the heart of it. And hey, you don't have three harder cores than Cortez, Bannon and Seb Gorka.


SARLIN: So, yes, Trump is selling these NFTs right now. They are currently trading for more than people initially paid for. But the question is, for Trump, at what cost?

ACOSTA: Yes. It is something when the fan boys are bummed. As Steve Bannon was just indicating. And, I mean, this just in, sometimes Trump's claims are not what they're cracked up to be. Who knew.


Let me ask you this, Jon. You just mentioned the collapse of FTX. You said -- as you said, founder Sam Bankman-Fried was indicted this week on eight criminal charges, including fraud and conspiracy. I mean, we should note this company was endorsed by multiple celebrities including Tom Brady, Steph Curry, one celebrity, former "OC" star Ben McKenzie slammed crypto in a Senate hearing this week. Let's watch.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BEN MCKENZIE, ACTOR AND CRYPTOCURRENCY CRITIC: The demise of FTX and Alameda represent the most spectacular corporate downfall since Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme imploded in the wake of the great financial crisis. In my opinion, the cryptocurrency industry represents the largest Ponzi scheme in history. In fact, by the time the dust settles, crypto may well represent a fraud at least 10 times bigger than Madoff.


ACOSTA: What do you think, Jon? Is crypto heading to the crypt? What do you think?

SARLIN: Well, the fall of FTX had a tremendously negative effect on the crypto market. I mean, Bitcoin is still selling for many thousands of dollars. But the sense of inevitability that people in the crypto industry projected that this was the future of finance. That it would replace fiat. Those prospects, while always a little pie in the sky, now seems fairly ridiculous. But as this Trump NFT collection shows that when prices start to go up, there will always be people willing to gamble that they are on the right side of the bubble.

ACOSTA: No truer words have been spoken. That might also be the understatement of the year in certain regards there when it comes to talking about Trump and crypto for that matter.

All right, Jon Sarlin, thanks very much. We appreciate it.

Airline travel demand is soaring. Perhaps you've noticed that. But the skies seem to be getting less friendly for passengers. Air carriers are pulling back on perks like access to airport lounges and redeeming frequent flyer miles.

CNN's Pete Muntean explains why.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Stephanie Ogbogu is a proud frequent flyer, now frequently frustrated by the airlines.

STEPHANIE OGBOGU, FREQUENT FLYER: They wanted us to take advantage of travel, and then we finally do, and it's like, oh, wait, wait, wait. Now, it's too much.

MUNTEAN: Stephanie is just one of Delta Airlines loyalists, fuming over new rules. Next year, the company is making it harder to get into its more than 50 Sky Club lounges at airports worldwide. Delta cites customers upset over lines outside and crowded seating inside, telling frequent fliers, we have made the difficult decision to implement new policies that we believe will preserve the experience our guests deserve.

SCOTT KEYES, FOUNDER, SCOTT'S CHEAP FLIGHTS: I think this is the sort of a trend. MUNTEAN: Scott Keyes of Scott's Cheap Flights says airlines are

cutting back on perks now that travel numbers are back near pre- pandemic levels.

United Airlines is anticipating end-of-year holiday travel even bigger than this past Thanksgiving. Next year it will raise the bar on earning frequent flyer status, making it harder to get free upgrades and fees waived.

KEYES: It's going to be much more difficult to get into lounges, much more difficult to renew elite status, and much more difficult to redeem their frequent flyer miles for a free trip.

MUNTEAN: A Delta flight from LAX to JFK over spring break would typically cost you 25,000 frequent flyer miles for an economy seat. Now, Scott's Cheap Flights says it will cost more than twice that, 52,000 miles.

BILL MCGEE, AMERICAN ECONOMIC LIBERTIES PROJECT: Well, I think, you know, we're at a tipping point.

MUNTEAN: Consumer advocate say earning miles has never been easier, thanks to airline credit cards. But now redeeming miles is getting tougher.

MCGEE: You enter these programs in good faith and you invest in them for years and years, and you find that the goalposts are a lot further away than they were when you started.

OGBOGU: Airlines, they're missing the mark here. I hope that they listen to the consumer and they really think about some of the decisions that they're making at the top level.

MUNTEAN: Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington.


ACOSTA: Up next, American citizens are stranded in Peru after the country falls into a state of emergency. What is being done to get them out. That's next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: An American college student studying abroad is missing no more and has been reunited with his mother. Kenny DeLand Jr was reported missing in France about two weeks ago.

He surfaced Friday telling family members he was safe and in Spain. DeLand's disappearance in November sparked a search through several countries. Where he was and why he vanished is still unknown.

Now to Peru, where hundreds of tourists, including many Americans, found themselves stranded at one of the country's most visited sites, the ancient city of Machu Picchu.

Efforts to evacuate them were schedule to start today. All of Peru is under a state of emergency right now after the ousting and arrest of the country's now former president.

All trains to and from Machu Picchu have been suspended. That is the only way to get into that area.

CNN's senior Latin affairs editor, Rafael Romo, joins me.

Rafael, talk about terrible timing. These tourists stuck at Machu Picchu probably had no idea what was happening. This underlines this is an unsettled situation in Peru right now.

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Yes. You're absolutely right, Jim. Terrible timing. Political instability has defined Peru for a long time.

The South American country has had six presidents in less than five years. But up until 10 days ago, the turmoil rarely affected the hundreds of thousands of tourists, many of them Americans, who visited world-famous sites like Machu Picchu, the Inca citadel.


What happened? Well, it all started December 7th when then-President Castillo was impeached and arrested after he announced plans to dissolve congress and install an emergency government.

He was apparently trying the get ahead of a congressional vote on his impeachment.

His supporters have staged violent protests that have left at least 20 people dead, disrupting traffic, and leaving many people stranded, including hundreds if not thousands of foreign tourists.

Seven people died during clashes Wednesday in a city, where, according to authorities, a large group of people were trying to take over the local airport.

Jim, I spoke with Michael Reiner. He's an American tourist from Washington, D.C. He told me he is part of a group of eight Americans, mainly college buddies and other mutual friends, who are now stuck in Peru.

This is how he described their situation and speaking to us from Kuzco.


MICHAEL REINER, AMERICAN TOURIST STUCK IN PERU: It's surreal to be a tourist in a country where there's political unrest taking place before our eyes. It's a whole new way of experiencing a country.

The context for us is there's something bigger happening here than just our travel experience. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ROMO: I have an update for you, Jim. Peru's Ministry of Transportation confirmed Kuzco airport reopened, which is good news for those people trying to fly back to the capital like Michael Reiner.

Hopefully, they will be able to make their connection in Lima to get out of the country.

Back to you.

ACOSTA: I'm sure they are worried about getting back, especially during the holidays. You don't want to be stranded in a foreign holiday when you want to get back home.

All right, Rafael Romo, thank you very much.

In the meantime, kept in secrecy for six decades. What the newly released JFK files tell us about President John F. Kennedy and his assassination. That is next in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: It's a moment nearly six decades in the making. The National Archives releasing 13,000 previously classified documents related to the JFK assassination. It's the second of two document dumps ordered last year by President Biden.

CNN's Tom Foreman takes a closer look at what's in the files.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Jim. This is really an enormous amount of information, 13,000 documents, some of them multiple pages here.

But it is also getting to the tail end of all of the records that the federal government has on the Kennedy assassination. Roughly five million in all.

Put them all together, did the math on them here, if you read one a minute, it would take nine years to get through all of this.

Bottom line is this is a lot of minutiae. There aren't any real giant revelations from what we have seen so far. It's going to take a long time to read through all of it.

But there are some details that are interesting. For example, a psychological breakdown about Oswald's motivation, saying it was largely explained in terms of his neurotic background, his failure to achieve status, and his deep resentment of authority.

There are other parts where it talks about how he never expressed any real sympathy toward the Soviet Union or Communism. And the Soviets neither encouraged nor discouraged his desire to become a Soviet citizen. So little details like that, for people really into the Kennedy

assassination, the history of it and everything involved, they will find this interesting. It will keep them busy for quite some while digging through it all.

But scholars have basically said there's no real indication there's going to be some giant revelation here. Even CIA officials came out and said essentially the same thing.

Look, everything that people really need to know about the Kennedy assassination is known, has been known for quite some time. This is just a lot of debris, leftover information.

Now the National Archive says 97 percent of all the information, all the records they have on this, are publicly available.

There are a few little more pieces that may come out in the future here. But it's pretty much all out there now.

Which, again, will be grist for historians and conspiracy theorists, too -- Jim?

ACOSTA: Tom, thanks very much.

Joining me now is Jefferson Morley, the vice president of the Mary Farrell Foundation, the nation's largest online source of JFK assassination records. He is also the editor of the "JFK Facts" blog.

Jefferson, thank you so much for being with us. We appreciate it.

Your group had sued for the release of these remaining documents. And you have described this week's document dump as a sham. As we know, we're not getting all of them.

Explain why. What's going on?

JEFFERSON MORLEY, VICE PRESIDENT, MARY FARRELL FOUNDATION & EDITOR, "JFK FACTS" BLOG: Well, Jim, when the CIA says, we're not hiding anything but just let us hide 4,000 different assassination assassination-related records, some people, like your previous guest, are going to say, well, that's fine. We trust them.

But you know what? The CIA has an atrocious record on transparency around the Kennedy assassination. They misled the Warren Commission on key points. They misled the House Select Committee on Assassinations on key points.

And lastly, Judge John Toonan (ph), the chairman of the JFK Review Board in the 1990s, called on the CIA to release additional documents that he said the CIA had deceived the JFK Review Board in 1998. And those documents did not appear this week.

So the idea that there's nothing significant left in the documents that the CIA is still hiding, we strongly disagree. That's why we sued the president and the National Archives. Because there's significant information in those files about the CIA's

sources and methods, around Lee Harvey Oswald, the accused assassin, who denied shooting President Kennedy.


So this is far from done. We will see the CIA in court next year. We intend to obtain the rest of the records. This is the history that belongs to the American people. It doesn't belong to the CIA.

Remember, too, Jim, this is the fourth time in five years that the CIA has blown the statutory deadline for full disclosure. OK?

Congress said in 1992, all of these records should be made public by October 2017, except in the rarest of cases. That's the statutory language, "the rarest of cases."

Five years after that deadline, the CIA comes to the American people and says, oh, 4,000 documents, that's what we mean by the rarest of cases.

Some people will say the CIA is not hiding anything. Other people will be suspicious and say our government agencies need to be transparent on this supremely important question. And we're not there yet.

ACOSTA: And I suspect there are folks out there who are going to say, well, OK, these remaining documents, those must be the good ones, the ones that we need to see.

It boggles the mind why the CIA or administration doesn't see that.

I want to read one detail about the files about Lee Harvey Oswald's psych evaluation after the shooting.

It says -- I think Tom Foreman mentioned some of this. "Oswald's motivation is largely explained in terms his neurotic background, his failure to achieve states and his very deep resentment of all authority."


ACOSTA: "Oswald saw a movie on TV about an attempted presidential assassination with a rifle shortly before his deed --"

MORLEY: You know what's important --

ACOSTA: "-- which could have sparked him into action."

What do you think about that?

MORLEY: Could have sparked? You know, the Warren Commission never established a motive for Oswald. The Warren Commission did not see this material belonging in its report.

I don't think these speculative post-hoc claims about Oswald's psychology are as important as the records about CIA operations around Oswald while JFK was still alive. That is what the CIA is still withholding.

This is not the place to argue about who was responsible or was there conspiracy or was there not. This is, is the CIA going to obey the law? Is the CIA going to hold itself accountable as Congress intended?

Yes, this week was disappointing because it's clear that the CIA does not intend to fulfill the spirit of the JFK Records Act.

So that's why we are in court. That's why we will going to continue to press for full disclosure.

ACOSTA: Jefferson Morley, keep us posted on the progress of this. It has been nearly 60 years. The public deserves full disclosure on all of this.


ACOSTA: We appreciate your time. Thank you, Jefferson, very much.

MORLEY: Thank you.

ACOSTA: All right. Up next, a fishy fiasco after a giant glass aquarium in Germany bursts. We'll tell you about that next.

You're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.



ACOSTA: In Germany, a massive hotel aquarium holding 1,500 tropical fish and a quarter of a million gallons of water suddenly burst, sending a flood of water, debris and fish into the nearby lobby and a nearby street.

Most of the fish did not survivor. Two people were injured by falling glass.

Before it broke, it was billed as the world's largest free-standing cylindrical aquarium. And was the centerpiece of a popular Berline hotel.

It's unclear what caused the aquarium to burst. An investigation is underway.

A 2-year-old boy is lucky to be alive today after one of the most dangerous animals on the planet nearly swallowed him whole. We're talking about a hippopotamus.

According to police in Uganda, the boy was playing near is home near a lake when the hippo grabbed him and swallowed half of his body. But thanks to a quick-thing neighbor with a stone and an amazing arm, a direct hit forced the hippo to spit the boy out and return to the water.

According to "National Geographic," hippo can weigh up to four tons and can snap a canoe in half with their jaws. Thankfully, the boy was treated with just minor injuries, given a rabies vaccine, and has fully recovered. Good news there.

An encouraging health update now for Oscar-winning actress, Jane Fonda. Fonda say her cancer is in remission just three months after she was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

Fonda described her first four chemo treatments as easy and said the most recent one was rough. With her cancer in remission, she will get to stop the treatments.

Fonda, who turns 85 next week, calls it the best birthday present ever. Of course, we all wish her well.

In this season of giving, we want to show how you can help our top 2022 CNN Heroes continue their important work and have your donations matched dollar for dollar.

Take a watch.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Anderson Cooper. Each of this year's top-10 CNN Heroes proves that one person can make a difference.

This year, we're making it easy for you to support their great work. Go to CNN and click donate for any 2022 top-10 CNN Hero to make a contribution to that hero's fund-raiser.

You'll receive an e-mail confirming your donation, which is tax deductible in the United States.

No matter the amount, you can make a big difference, in helping our heroes continue their live changing work.


And right now, through January 3rd, your donations will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to a total of $50,000, for each of this year's honorees.

CNN is proud to offer you this simple way to support each cause and celebrate all of these everyday people who are changing the world.

You can donate from your laptop, your tablet or your phone. Just go to Your donation in any amount, will help them help others.



ACOSTA: Nominations for 2023 are open. We're waiting to hear from you. Go to CNN to nominate right now.

We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)