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The Situation Room

President Biden Holds Joint News Conference With South Korean President; Biden Says, No Shift in My Commitment to the Security of Israel; Sources: Gaetz Ex-Girlfriend Cooperating with Investigators in Sex Trafficking Probe; CNN Obtains New Bodycam Video of Ronald Greene's Deadly Encounter With Louisiana State Troopers; Jewish man Beaten in NYC During Dueling Protests Over Israel, Hamas. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired May 21, 2021 - 18:00   ET



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And to address issues critical to regional stability, such as maintaining freedom of navigation in the South China Sea and preserving peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.

Today, we also discussed ways that the Republic of Korea and the United States will work together to address the challenges of our time, beginning with our efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic globally.

We agreed to establish a comprehensive vaccine partnership to expand the manufacture of vaccines that have been approved safe and effective. And we can scale up -- and so we can scale up global vaccine supplies. We will strengthen our ability to fight the pandemic and respond to future biological threats.

When it comes to fighting climate change, the Republic of Korea and the United States are committed to making ambitious 2030 targets aligned with the effort to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions no later than 2050.

And we're going to work together, both to mobilize climate finance for developing countries and to make sure that international finances align to promote our climate goals.

We also talked about how to harness our nation's technological advantages to ensure the Republic of Korea and the United States are cooperating to shape, to shape emerging technologies around our shared value system.

This includes everything from strengthening our cybersecurity to deepening our cooperation to build an open, secure G5 network -- a 5G network, I should say.

I'm talking about the G5. That's another organization.


BIDEN: I'm thinking organization, Mr. President.

To secure the 5G networks. And I'm particularly gratified that so many leading South Korea companies see the benefits of investing in the United States, including this morning's announcement of more than $25 billion in new investments from Samsung, Hyundai, SK, and LG.

I understand the executives of those companies are here.

Would you please stand up?


BIDEN: Thank you, thank you, thank you. And I think we will do great work together.

These new investments are going to create thousands of good-paying jobs and jobs of the future right here in the United States. And they're going to help fortify and secure the supply chains for things like semiconductors and electric batteries.

I know, as I said, that the CEOs made the effort not only to do this, but to be here today. And, again, I thank them for being here.

I thank you for making the investments in our future and yours.

Finally, I want to note that, yesterday, I had the honor of signing into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act to help Americans of Asian descent from having to live in fear just walking down the streets of the United States. Quite frankly, I have been ashamed, ashamed at the way some Americans have responded.

And there is a long history in this country of contributions of Asian Americans being overlooked, forgotten and ignored. And I affirmed to President Moon today what I said yesterday that we're committing and we're going to stay committed to stopping the hatred based on this bias, I promise you.

Our people share a long history. Our soldiers have fought alongside one another. Our scientists work side by side in both our countries. Our students study together, share ideas, and seed new opportunities for future collaboration.

And our people, our people-to-people and cultural connections are only growing.

And K-pop fans are universal.


BIDEN: Now, I can tell those who laugh know what I'm talking about.


BIDEN: Well, anyway, I will get back to that later.

The Korean actors took home an Oscar for supporting actors this year, following up on the four Oscar wins for the movie "Parasite" last year. And so our two countries, our two nations have the tools and the deep connections that we need to make even stronger alliances and stronger cooperation.

And I want to thank you again for the meetings today, Mr. President, particularly our long private meeting. I appreciated that a great deal. And I'm looking forward to working closely with you and your team as we expand and strengthen our efforts to shape the future together. And I mean that literally, to shape the future together.

So, thank you.

Mr. President.

MOON JAE-IN, SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT (through translator): Honorable President Biden, Madam Vice President, I extend my deepest gratitude to you for your special hospitality and welcome.


Today, our leaders and delegates of Korea and the United States met each other's eye and had a dialogue. For the peoples of our two nations, this will give them hope for recovery from COVID-19, as well as a meaningful gift for celebrating the 139th anniversary of our diplomatic relations.

President Biden and I had an awarding ceremony for the Medal of Honor to the Korean War veteran, a one-on-one meeting, as well as an expanded summit. For many hours together, we have had a very fun dialogue like old friends.

As regards the promotion of democracy, inclusive growth, the strengthening of the middle class, climate change response, as well as many other areas, the two of us were able to see for ourselves that we had common interests and commitments.

In particular, we reaffirmed the strength of the ROK-U.S. alliance and confirmed the common vision for developing it into an even stronger one.

During my visit this time, the trust that has been built up between President Biden and I will foster deeper friendship between our two peoples and lay a firm foundation that will undergird the sustainable development of the ROK-U.S. alliance. And I say this with confidence.

The most urgent common task that our two countries must undertake is achieving complete denuclearization and permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Recently, the Biden administration completed its DPRK policy review, building on past agreements, including the Singapore joint statement, while taking a calibrated and practical approach to seeking diplomacy with North Korea, is indeed a welcome direction of the Biden administration's North Korea policy.

During the course of the review, our two countries closely coordinated with each other in lockstep, which I note with much appreciation.

Moreover, I welcome President Biden's appointment of Ambassador Sung Kim as special representative for North Korean policy. This reflects the firm commitment of the U.S. for exploring diplomacy and its readiness for dialogue with North Korea.

I have high expectations all the more, as such a man of high caliber with expertise in the Korean Peninsula issues has been appointed.

President Biden and I discussed that dialogues based on commitments made between the two Koreas and between the U.S. and North Korea are essential for making a peaceful Korean Peninsula. This is the belief that we were able to reaffirm.

Moreover, President Biden also expressed his support for the inter- Korean dialogue and cooperation. Under close cooperation with the U.S., we will work to facilitate progress in inter-Korean relations, so as to achieve a virtuous cycle with U.S.-DPRK dialogue.

Moving forward as well, Korea and the United States will continue close communication, while exploring our North Korea approach through dialogue and diplomacy. On that, I expect a positive response from North Korea.

When strong security is firmly in place, we can preserve and make peace. The two of us agreed to further reinforce our combined defense posture and reaffirmed our commitment to a conditions-based transition of wartime operational control.

It is also with pleasure that I delivered the news on the termination of the revised missile guidelines. The signing of ROK-U.S. special measures agreement on burden-sharing in the early days of the Biden administration displays for the world the robustness of our alliance as a symbolic and practical measure.

Today, at the summit, President Biden and I decided to expand our cooperation in new emerging areas that are relevant for the changing times and landscape.

First, to surmount COVID-19, our most urgent task, we pledged to pool our strength together. America's advanced technologies and Korea's production capabilities will be married to establish a comprehensive chorus, global vaccine partnership.

Collaboration between our two countries will boost global vaccine supply and contribute to accelerating a complete ending of COVID-19.

Through the global health security agenda, which aims to enhance infectious disease response capability, multilateral cooperation will be pursued as well. Under this broad framework of vaccine cooperation, illustrating the robust ROK-U.S. alliance, an important announcement was made.

President Biden pledged to supply vaccines to Korean servicemen.

I thank you, Mr. President. This announcement of the U.S., I believe, extends the ROK-U.S. alliance to the field of health in a meaningful measure.

Second, from semiconductors, E.V. batteries, pharmaceuticals to other cutting-edge manufacturing technology sectors, in an effort to build secure supply chains, we committed to work in close concert.


Digital transformation is accelerating. And the areas of cutting-edge emerging technologies are gaining greater importance. Korea and the U.S., in response to a post-COVID-19 era, plan to strengthen our cooperation in civil space exploration, 6G and green energy to secure global competitiveness.

Furthermore, to join the advance into overseas nuclear power plant markets, we decided to bolster our partnership. Third, in a bid to address climate change, we will further solidify coordination between our two countries.

Our two nations are already spearheading global cooperation in climate change response. Last April, the U.S. hosted a leaders summit on climate successfully. Korea, for its part, in next week is hosting P4G Seoul Summit, once again trying to build the international community's collective will for climate change response.

President Biden will participate in the P4G Seoul Summit next week virtually. I welcome his participation, which will certainly help us catalyze the international community to come together.

President Biden and I participated in the ceremony for awarding a Medal of Honor to a Korean War veteran, Colonel Ralph Puckett Jr. Based on the ROK-U.S. alliance, rooted in the noble sacrifices of our heroes, our two nations will usher in a new future together, without a doubt.

Today's meetings between President Biden and myself and between the U.S. and Korea will mark another milestone for bilateral cooperation towards a new era. President Biden has extended such warm hospitality, and I express my deepest gratitude once again.

I look forward to our frequent communication and continued close consultation.

Last, but not least, yesterday, Israel and Hamas agreed on a cease- fire, which is indeed a relief. I appreciate President Biden's hard work and leadership in this regard.

Thank you.

BIDEN: Thank you.

Well, first question, I'm told, is MaryAlice Parker (sic), ABC.

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. I appreciate it.

What is your message to Democrats who want you to be more confrontational with Israel, and specifically to those that are saying that there should be an end to arms sales? I mean, do you recognize that there's been a shift, an evolution in your party, Mr. President, in the last 20 years on this issue?

And I have a question for President Moon, but I can wait, or I can....

BIDEN: There is no shift in my commitment, my commitment to the security of Israel, period, no shift, not at all.

But I tell you what there is a shift in. The shift is that we have to -- we still need a two-state solution. It is the only answer, the only answer.

And what I'm convinced of is that we can now move, as I had -- did even we -- I was able to negotiate -- well, I shouldn't -- before the cease-fire was negotiated, that I made it clear that I spoke with President Abbas.

We were -- we're going to make sure that we're going to provide for security in the West Bank. And we renewed the security commitment, as well as economic commitment to the people on the West Bank.

I also indicated to the Israelis that I thought it was very important that they stop in Jerusalem this intercommunal fighting that is by extremes on both sides. It has to end. It has to end.

And I'm prepared to put together and am going to attempt to put together a major package with other nations who share our view to rebuild the homes, and, without reengaging, without providing Hamas the opportunity to rebuild their weapons systems, rebuild the Gaza -- rebuild Gaza.

And they need the help. And I'm committed to get that done. And so I don't -- and I think that my party still supports Israel.

Let's get something straight here. Until the region says unequivocally, they acknowledge the right of Israel to exist as an independent Jewish state, there will be no peace.

QUESTION: Can I ask a question to President Moon?

I'm curious if the two of you have offered any assurances behind the scenes to Taiwan and if President Biden has -- has pushed you to take a tougher stance when it comes to China's posture towards Taiwan.


BIDEN: Good luck.

MOON (through translator): Well, fortunately, there wasn't such pressure.

But, as for peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait, we agreed how important that region is, especially considering the special characteristics between China and Taiwan.

We decided to work more closely on this matter going forward. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So, we have a question for Korean journalist over


Yes, two from the left.

QUESTION (through translator): Thank you for giving me this opportunity.

I'm Kang (ph) from Yono News (ph).

I have a question to both of the presidents here.

As was mentioned by the former journalist, I understand that the Israel and Palestine issues is very important, but North Korea's nuclear issue is equally important.

On your to-do list, what's the number that's given to the North Korean nuclear issue on your priority list, Mr. -- President Biden?

And also, to Mr. -- President Moon, in terms of your road map for resolving the nuclear issue in North Korea, I want to understand whether your time schedule actually matches and is equal to one another in terms of resolving the issues on the Korean Peninsula.

MOON (through translator): So, to begin, under the new Biden administration, the DPRK policy review has been completed in a rather fast period of time.

That means that the Biden administration puts priority on its North Korea policy among its diplomatic tasks. And, also, in terms of reviewing its DPRK policy, there was a very close coordination, as well consultations, between the United States and the Republic of Korea.

So, the principle of the negotiations toward North Korea has already been announced by the U.S. government, very calibrated, practical, gradual, step-by-step manner, and very flexible. That is the approach that the current administration is aiming to adopt. So, that is the common understanding that we have with the United States. And we're going to continue to work forward on this.

And in terms of the timeline for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, there aren't any differences in terms of how we think about this, no differences in terms of our opinions.

BIDEN: I agree with what the president just said.

Our goal is and remains complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We want to make practical progress and increase security of the United States, for the United States, and our allies.

We closely studied what others have tried and what worked and what hasn't worked, and under -- we're under no illusions how difficult this is, none whatsoever.

And the past four administrations have not achieved the objective. It's an incredibly difficult objective.

As we move forward, we're going to stay in very close coordination with our friends and our partners in the region, including President Moon. And we fully recognize that this is about our collective security in the Indo-Pacific region.

And so -- but total denuclearization is our objective, and remains so.

Oh, I get the next question, huh? I'd like to ask the press a question, if I may.


BIDEN: Nancy Cordes, CBS.

QUESTION: OK. Thank you very much, Mr. President.

I have one question about North Korea and one question about Israel.

BIDEN: We have changed this one question thing, haven't we?


QUESTION: Two foreign policy questions.

You have said in the past you would not meet with Kim Jong-un, the leader of North Korea, without certain preconditions.


QUESTION: What are those preconditions? And do you believe he would ever be able to meet them?

BIDEN: Well, what I never do is, I never make a judgment what a man or woman is going to do or not do based on what they said.

We will see if he made any commitment. Then I would meet with him, and if there was a commitment on which we met. And the commitment has to be that there's discussion about his nuclear arsenal.


And if it's merely, and a means by which how do we escalate what they're doing. And so, if that was the case, I would not meet unless there was some outline made that my secretary of state and others would have negotiated as to how we would proceed.

But what I would not do is, I would not do what had been done in the recent past. I would not give him all that he's looking for, is national, international recognition as legitimate and legitimate and say and give them what -- and allowed him to move in a direction of appearing to be more -- how can I say it, more serious about what he wasn't at all serious about.

I'd have to know specifics. But the idea of never meeting with North Korea, I would make sure that my team had met with his counterpart -- their counterparts and I know exactly what we're meeting on.

QUESTION: And then, in the wake of all of your conversations this week, what is your relationship like now with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu?

Do you have certain expectations that he will bolster the rights of the Palestinian people in some way? And, if so, did you convey that to him in your conversations?

BIDEN: One of the reasons why we were able to get a cease-fire in 11 days is I didn't do what other people have done. I don't talk about what I tell people in private. I don't talk about what we negotiate in private.

What I can assure you, though, is that the last time, it took 56 days and six months to get a cease-fire. I'm praying this cease-fire will hold. I take Bibi Netanyahu -- when he gives me his word, I take him at his word. He's never broken his word to me.

And -- but what I have made clear is that it's essential, it's essential that the Palestinians in -- on the West Bank be secured, that Abbas be recognized as the leader of the Palestinian people, which he is.

Hamas is a terrorist organization. We have recognize it that. But that doesn't mean we should not be in Gaza, rebuilding Gaza for all those innocent people who, in fact, have been hurt and had been collateral damage, including the loss of homes and a whole range of other things, as well as insisting that Israeli citizens, whether they be Arab or Jew, are treated equally as Israeli citizens.

And that's what was going on in Jerusalem. And so that has to come to an end. And Bibi knows -- the prime minister knows my views. And -- but the commitment that was given was immediately kept.

I -- from the very beginning, I told him what our objective was, that there needed to be a cease-fire. And he, in fact, kept his commitment in the time frame in which he said he would do it.

Thank you.

And, by the way, I wasn't the only one that spoke to him. We had -- look down here -- every major player on my team, from the secretary of defense, the secretary of state, all the way down the line, and our national security adviser were in constant contact with their counterparts in Israel, in Egypt, and throughout the Middle East.

And this was not something that was just done with a casual conversation between myself and Bibi. I have -- it's presumptuous of me to say this, but -- Mr. President, but I think I have got a great team.

And I spent a lot of time with El-Sisi on the phone and -- in Egypt, and they have done a commendable job of bringing Hamas to the table and getting them to agree to a cease-fire as well.

Thank you.

Is that it?

MOON (through translator): Yes, a lady -- ladies do not raise their hands? Do we not have female journalists from Korea?

QUESTION (through translator): Good afternoon from "Korea Herald." My name is E.G. Yun (ph).

The Korean people are very curious about vaccines. And they're waiting for the good news regarding vaccine. I understand that you have had a lot of discussions with President Biden regarding vaccine. And I wonder whether you have any good news to deliver to the people of Korea.

And has there been any meaningful achievement that you want to go into the details of?


MOON (through translator): Yes.

Regarding vaccine cooperation, you can read the joint statement, and also the remarks that were issued as press release today.

But to emphasize it once again, between the U.S. and Korea, for vaccine cooperation, there will be a comprehensive partnership to be established between our two nations. And there has been an agreement between our two sides on that.

The U.S. has the ability to develop vaccines. And Korean companies have the capacity to produce a biomedicine. And we are going to combine those capabilities, so that we can boost vaccine supply, so that we can accelerate the rollout of vaccines to the entire world, especially in the Indo-Pacific region, for supplying vaccines to that region.

I believe that we will be able to make a contribution in that regard. And in the process, Korea, in my opinion, will get some help in stabilizing our vaccine supply.

And, at the same time, for the sake of the ROK-U.S. alliance, President Biden decided to provide vaccines to the servicemen in Korea. As soon as the U.S. is ready, I understand there will be an announcement to be made by the U.S. side.

BIDEN: By the way, I (AUDIO GAP) prematurely make that.

We're going -- there are 550,000 Korean soldiers, sailors, airmen who work in close contact with American forces in Korea. We will provide full vaccinations for all 550,000 of those Korean forces engaging with American forces on a regular basis, both for their sake, as well as the sake of the American forces.

In addition to that, we have talked about the ability to have vaccines produced with our -- working with -- and this is in the offing -- working with one of the major vaccine producers in the United States, and to -- where Korea is incredibly sophisticated, and, with the help of that particular -- that particular company, will be able to make significant numbers of vaccines for themselves.

And, lastly, it is my hope and expectation -- I cannot commit to it because we don't know for certain -- but we think that, over the remainder of 2021, we're going to be able to vaccinate every American. We have enough -- we have enough vaccinate every American, period, right now.

And we're going to be able to do that by the midsummer. And we're going to continue to get more people to engage in seeking a vaccine. I don't believe, I never have believed that there's a large percentage of Americans who will not take the vaccine.

And we're doing very imaginative things, and states are, to get people to show up and have the vaccine. But we believe, we believe that, between the second half of 2021 and going in through 2022, we could produce as many as another billion doses of vaccine, because it's not just -- and this is what I like about this president.

He's not just talking about -- any more than I'm just talking about the United States or just Korea, he's talking about the Indo-Pacific. He's talking about the world.

We with advanced capabilities have an obligation to do everything we can to provide for protection of the entire world. I know that is an awfully, awfully, awfully ambitious proposal. But I think the nations that have that capacity are going to be continuing to work toward getting that done.

And so thank you.

QUESTION: I have one more for the president.

BIDEN: If you're not asking me a mean one, like you usually do.


QUESTION: It's something interesting, I think, this time.

President Obama says that there is footage and records of objects in the skies, these unidentified aerial phenomenon. And he says we don't know exactly what they are.

What do you think that it is?

BIDEN: I would ask him again.

Thank you.


BIDEN: Come on, boss. Let's go.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: All right, so there you have it, about a half- an-hour a news conference, a joint news conference, the president of the United States, the president of South Korea, Moon Jae-in, making news on the Middle East, on the cease-fire that has emerged between the Israelis and Hamas, as well as on North Korea, important issues, indeed.

We want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We have lots to discuss, lots to assess, based on what we just heard.


Phil Mattingly is our White House Correspondent. Phil, you were listening very closely. As far as Israel is concerned, one of the first things he said in response to that first question, President Biden, there's no shift in my commitment to Israel, he said, no shift at all, but then he went onto say he is committed to what's called a two-state solution, Israel, the new state of Palestine and he wants to work to help the Palestinians on the West Bank, as well as the Palestinians in Gaza, but he doesn't want to work with Hamas, which he branded a terrorist organization.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right Wolf. The president making very clear, despite a very clear shift inside his party, particularly with progressive on the domestic side of things as it relates to the relationship with Israel and the relationship they would like the president to have with Israel, he is not shifting at all. It is something he has maintained over the course of his political career, as a senator from Delaware, as a vice president and now he's president and as well.

And he also gave some insight into his conversations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, six calls over the course of 10 or 11 days. And while he said very clearly part of the reason he thinks he's been successful up to this point. He said, he doesn't talk about the specifics of those calls, he made clear that he takes Netanyahu at his word, Wolf, kind of underscoring the fact that these two leaders have known each other for more than four decades, have a relationship with one another. And Biden has said repeatedly in the past that they trust one another and take each other at their word.

But it was interesting Wolf, as you noted, the president while making very clear of his supports for Israel, and Israel's right to defend itself, also making clear that Gaza and getting humanitarian aid into that region is a crucial component of his administration's next steps.

BLITZER: And on North Korea, it was very important, Phil, and I want to get you're sense, he clearly seemed to criticize the former president, Trump, for going out of his way to try to have these summits with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, President Biden saying I would not give him, Kim Jong-un, the international recognition unless he were willing to go ahead and achieve some sort of complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

MATTINGLY: Yes. I was going to say it was a veiled swipe, but it wasn't so veiled, other than the fact the fact the president didn't mention the former president's name as he walk through that, making very clear that he was referencing what occurred in Singapore during the Trump administration, the relationship between President Trump and Kim Jong-un during that relationship.

And I think what was most interesting besides making very clear his disagreement with what his predecessor was doing, is the United States will finish their long going review on North Korea policy, several weeks ago, something the South Koreans were intimately involved in, and the president giving some insight into his thinking on things.

The White House has been very clear, they are looking in the past and trying to learn lessons from past administrations, not necessarily -- certainly not supporting strategic patients but not supporting what former President Trump did either. And the president making clear that they want to move slowly in this process, but they also want to be flexible in this process, something Kim Jong-un, the President of South Korea said he supported at this moment in time.

But when it came to the question of whether or not he was willing to meet with Kim Jong-un, he said he would not meet with him with no preconditions. He laid out those some of those conditions, making clear he's negotiating team would need to have an idea of where Kim Jong-un sat related to denuclearization before he even consider it. Obviously, the two sides aren't even talking right now. So there's no sense that's coming anytime soon but some insight and to where the president is on a very important issue, Wolf.

BLITZER: And U.S./Israeli relations, Dana Bash, President Biden was very specific, saying he didn't want to get into all the private conversations. I think he's had six private conversations with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. But he said, so far, Netanyahu has lived up to his promises. I thought that was significant.

DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: It was significant. And, Wolf, you follow the nuances of this more and better than anybody, but I caught that a couple of times the president kind of stopped himself from using words that would suggest that he, President Biden, was responsible for this ceasefire. In fact, once he said, he said I negotiated, I mean, the ceasefire was negotiated and talked broadly about the discussions that were going on in the region in addition to some that he had.

And then also noted that the last time there was this kind of military action between the Israelis and Hamas, he said it took 56 days sort of leaning into almost the fact that maybe it was shorter now because he is president and he has relationships there, he has decades and decades of experience with this issue and more broadly on the world stage. Very, very note worthy, also cautious because we don't know if the ceasefire will hold. So he doesn't want to get out too far in taking credit for something that might not -- hopefully will be, but might not be the case, you know, any time soon. [18:35:02]

BLITZER: Yes. That's an important point. Hadas Gold is our Correspondent in Israel right now. She's joining us from Jerusalem. So what do you think, Hadas? How is what President Biden said going to be received in Israel?

HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think for the most part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely be happy with the remarks that they heard from Joe Biden. The prime minister also spoke earlier today to Israelis and he also mentioned the six conversations that he said he had with Joe Biden. He mentioned that they were very warm and friendly conversations.

And I think from Prime Minister Netanyahu's point of view, he will be very happy to hear comments such as that there's no shift in President Biden's commitment and commitment to security of Israeli, period. And speaking about how he thinks his party still supports Israel and he'll probably be very happy with the statement such as until the region recognizes the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish state, there won't be peace.

I think it's also notable that President Biden talked about the increase in communal violence in Israel between Jews and Arabs, saying that it needs to stop. And we have seen just today more clashes at the Al-Aqsa compound in Jerusalem. There were clashes between Palestinians who were there protesting, chanting, some of them hoisting flags of Hamas and Islamic Jihad had alongside the Palestinian flags. The Israeli police using stun grenades and rubber bullets trying to disperse the crowd. Palestinian Red Crescent saying 20 were injured.

Now while the rest of the day has been calm at the Al-Aqsa compound, it goes to show you that this ceasefire, though there's a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, although we have not had rockets fired since 2:00 A.M., there have not been Israeli Air Force airstrikes on the Gaza Strip since 2:00 A.M. last night, the tensions that helped spark this conflict two weeks ago, they are still very much alive.

They still are very much a tinderbox that could burst into flames at any moment here just from the clashes that we saw earlier today at the Al-Aqsa compound. Although there are things are calm now, it just goes to show you how tense things are still in this region.

BLITZER: Very tense indeed. Almost 24 hours since the ceasefire went into effect.

Ben Wedeman is on the scene for us, he is now in Gaza. You are there. You are an eyewitness to what's going on. You heard, Ben, President Biden say that he wants to work with an international coalition, in his words, to rebuild Gaza, to prevent Hamas from regaining any weapons, he said, but I'm committed to get that done. He says the Palestinians in Gaza need help. He wants to work to achieve that. How do you think that's going to be received?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, certainly, the Palestinians in Gaza need help. They need help to reconstruct after the damage of this 11-day war. They need the ability to get the economy back on its feet, but Gaza's been under this Israeli/Egyptian blockade since 2007 when Hamas took over. And since then, the economy here has been crippled until that blockade is at least partially lifted.

This is a strip of 2 million people who essentially live on aid. Half the population roughly is unemployed and more than that are dependent on food aid from the United Nations and other non-governmental organizations.

Now, the technicalities of funneling funds into Gaza and not having the funds fall into the hands of Hamas and rather having them funneled through the Palestinian authority based in (INAUDIBLE) is going to be somewhat problematic given that the Palestinian authority has very little sway here. Until now, Qatar has been the source of funds to keep Gaza going, keep the Hamas administration alive. But -- and this has been done with the acquiescence of Israel. So it's going to be very difficult.

And what we've seen from this blockade is that the people of Gaza have suffered, but it hasn't crippled Hamas's ability to build more rockets after each one of these wars and rockets that seem to be improving technologically every time around. Wolf?

BLITZER: Yes. Be safe over there. As I say, it's been 24 hours since the rockets stopped. But let's hope it continues to be like that.

Robin Wright is with us, as well, a Distinguished Fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center here in Washington. So what jumped out at you, Robin? You've been covering this part of the world for a long time.

ROBIN WRIGHT, COLUMNIST, THE NEW YORKER: Well, I think Biden was trying to be even in his approach to both the Israelis and the Palestinians. I think the thing that was concerning is the kind of language he used earlier in the week about creating a sustainable calm, which means basically going back to the status quo, which is untenable long-term which does not provide solutions to the big issue of the status of Jerusalem, the right to return of the Palestinians, the status of the Israeli settlements, water issues, security and so forth.


And with Secretary of State Blinken going to the region this weekend, you have to wonder whether all he's brokering really is to make sure that there's not a deterioration in security, not another round of 11 or 50 days of conflict, but not really dealing with the core issues. And that's the problem.

The press conference tonight was very striking because it reflected what a dozen presidents have tried to solve the Middle East problem and have failed. And Biden was asked about the Middle East at a time he's hosting the president of South Korea, as he wants to pivot to Asia. And this is yet again the problem that diplomacy, broad diplomacy often gets overtaken by the crisis on the ground inevitably in the Middle East. BLITZER: So what needs to be done now, Robin, to, A, obviously keep the ceasefire in effect, but try to move forward with a real peace process? You heard President Biden say his goal, the U.S. goal is a two-state solution, Israel living alongside a new state of Palestine in peace. That's obviously a lot easier said than done.

WRIGHT: Absolutely. And I think the big question is, is Biden really committed to try to engage and use his muscle, his political muscle, his diplomatic muscle to deal with the Arab/Israeli crisis, or does he really want to move onto whether it's domestic issues or dealing with China and the big problems that are presented by Asia, North Korea included.

And I think there's no indication yet whether he wants to do to spend the political capital involved in what has been for a dozen presidents a losing proposition.

BLITZER: All right. Stand by for a moment. Kaitlan Collins is with us, our Chief White House Correspondent. I understand, Kaitlan, you have some news.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. We were just in this press conference with the president and the South Korean President, of course. They took two questions as a standard. And then as President Biden was walking out of the room, he took a few more questions from a few of the other reporters in the room. And several topics came up.

But one, of course, has been something that has been in the news in the last several weeks, including just yesterday when we learned that the Justice Department under the Trump administration has seized our colleague, Barbara Starr's phone records, in a period in some kind of investigation. The circumstances of it still remain unclear.

And the White House had been asked about this earlier today, what was their position on it and what was their comment. They said they were going to follow previous standards that had been set during the Obama administration.

But President Biden just told me, Wolf, a few moments ago, and I'm not sure if we have a video that he believes it's simply wrong and he is not going to let his Justice Department seize any phone records or email records from reporters during his tenure while he is here in office, which, Wolf, is massive news and a huge break from, of course, the policies of his two most recent predecessors, at least with former President Trump and former President Barack Obama, who, of course, he served under.

BLITZER: Yes, that's really encouraging news, especially those of us, who are all biased, the journalists. We want to make sure that doesn't happen again. Standby for a moment. Dana Bash, I want to get your immediate reaction. This is very significant. You have the president of the United States, President Biden saying he's not going to do what previous presidents, including Trump, have done, seized the confidential phone records, email records of Washington journalists. BASH: That's a huge statement. Let's hope that, that stays the case.

You said obviously we're biased. We're biased towards a free press and a press that is not spied on or has the ability to send emails or text messages that is not seized by a government that we're trying to report on and hold accountable. And the fact that President Biden told Kaitlan Collins that he wants to stand by that to kind of stay out and loosen the reins, not act like the former president, is very heartening.

Now, it is, I think, easy for President Biden to disassociate himself with the tactics of then-President Trump when it comes to the media, generally speaking, but Kaitlan make an important point, we don't know of the circumstances around the approval of seizing our colleagues' information, of seizing her phone records and so forth. And once we get that information, hopefully at some point, and we will get that information, that will help to understand not only what happened but why President Biden feels so confident and comfortable saying what he did today.

BLITZER: Yes. It wasn't just you know, Barbara Starr, our Pentagon Correspondent, who's record, her phone records, email records were seized.


BASH: Right, The Washington Post.

BLITZER: Phone records, email records were seized. Several reporters from "The Washington Post" similarly had their records seized by the Justice Department during the Trump administration as well, very significant news indeed.

Everybody, stand by. We're going to take a quick break, resume our special coverage right here in THE SITUATION ROOM, right after this.


BLITZER: There's more breaking news tonight. Sources are now telling CNN the ex-girlfriend of the embattled Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz is now cooperating with investigators in a sex trafficking probe involving the lawmaker.

Our senior Washington correspondent Pamela Brown is joining us right now.

Pamela, this is a potentially critical witness, I understand, in this case.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Wolf. This could potentially be a damaging development for Congressman Matt Gaetz. CNN has learned his ex-girlfriend, a former Capitol Hill staffer, has agreed to cooperate with federal investigators.

And here's why that matters, Wolf. She is viewed by investigators as a critical witness who has been linked to Gaetz as far back as the summer of 2017. That is the key time period investigators have been scrutinizing. He could help investigators understand the relevance of hundreds of transactions they have obtained records of, including those involving alleged payments for sex, these sources told CNN, Wolf.


BLITZER: It comes, Pamela, just what, days after the Justice Department formally entered into a plea agreement with a very close friend, at least a very close former friend of Gaetz -- we're talking about Joel Greenberg.

BROWN: Yeah, that's right. Greenberg's entanglement with young women first put Congressman Gaetz onto investigators' radar. And now, CNN has learned that Greenberg has told investigators that Gaetz and at least two other men had sexual contact with a 17-year-old minor, a girl. That allegation by Greenberg described to CNN by multiple people familiar with the matter is referenced briefly in this 86-page plea agreement that a federal judge accepted on Monday.

But prosecutors did not include any names in that court filing. So, again, Wolf, multiple sources telling CNN one of them is Gaetz. Gaetz, as you know, Wolf, has repeatedly denied he ever had sex with a minor or paid for sex.

A spokesman for Gaetz says congressman Gaetz has never had sex with a minor, has never paid for sex. Mr. Greenberg has now pleaded guilty to falsely accusing someone of having sex with a minor. That person was innocent, so is Congressman Gaetz.

Also, a Justice Department spokesman declined to comment to CNN, and the ex girlfriend's lawyer, Timothy Jansen (ph) also declined to comment. So, that's the latest, Wolf.

BLITZER: Thank you very much. CNN's Pamela Brown reporting.

Now, let's get some analysis from the state attorney for Palm Beach County in Florida, Dave Aronberg.

Dave, thanks for joining us.

How significant is it to secure the cooperation of this ex-girlfriend?

DAVID ARONBERG, STATE ATTORNEY, PALM BEACH COUNTY, FLORIDA: Good evening, Wolf. It's very significant. Matt Gaetz's bad week just got a lot worse. It started with the plea deal for Joel Greenberg who is going to be the key witness against Gaetz if Gaetz is ever charged and ends with the announcement of cooperation with the ex-girlfriend.

Her testimony is crucial because it can corroborate the claims made by Joel Greenberg, who is a professional liar and a professional criminal. So, there needs to be corroboration through emails, text messages, Venmo receipts and crucially, testimony from someone who cannot be attacked the way that Gaetz could attack Greenberg. He can easily attack Greenberg for his credibility. He can even attack the 17-year-old victim at the heart of this case, because she currently is an adult film star and who knows how will that will play in front of the jury.

But this ex-girlfriend apparently has no ax to grind with Matt Gaetz. She's a former congressional staffer who currently works for Florida state government.

BLITZER: So, what sort of information do you think she can potentially provide to these investigators?

ARONBERG: She apparently, not only knows Gaetz, but also knows the 17- year-old girl, because according to reports, Gaetz met both of them by way of this sugar daddy website. She also attended the 2018 Bahamas trip, Joel Greenberg did not, mind you, and that trip, according to reports, is being investigated for charge of pay-to-play and for violations of the Mann Act, which is the act that says you cannot transport people for purposes of prostitution.

So, not only can she be crucial in corroborating Joel Greenberg's claims against Matt Gaetz, or the big whammy, child sex trafficking, but she can also be a key witness if there's ever going to be a charge under the Mann Act or bribery.

BLITZER: So, bottom line, Dave, when you add up her cooperation on top of Joel Greenberg's plea deal, and he's got has to cooperate fully, what does this all mean for Congressman Gaetz?

ARONBERG: Well, as Clobber Lane said in "Rocky 3", pain. This is terrible news for Matt Gaetz, because he is out there with Marjorie Taylor Greene blaming the media, blaming who knows who else, George Soros, Jewish space lasers, whatever they're talking about. That may play well in court of public opinion in far right-wing circles, but not in a court of law.

In a court of law, depends on evidence, facts, testimony. And this young woman cannot only testify at the trial of Gaetz, if he's ever charged, and it depends where the evidence goes, but also in front of a grand jury who can ask her questions and answers to get a better picture of what went on, because you don't want the grand jurors or the trial jurors to look at the receipts in a vacuum. You don't want them to rely on Joel Greenberg. You want them to talk to someone who can be a credible narrator of what went on and that can be his ex- girlfriend.

BLITZER: Yeah, things are moving relatively quickly in this investigation.

Dave Aronberg, thanks as usual for joining us.

There's more news that we are following tonight, CNN has obtained new body camera video of the deadly encounter between Ronald Greene, an African-American man, and Louisiana state trooper.

CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, I understand there's breaking news in this case.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Just moments ago, the superintendent of the Louisiana state police, Lamar Davis, announced that that department is going to release all the video evidence, all of the body cam footage to the public. We have new information tonight on the video that CNN has obtained. We do have to warn viewers that some may find some of this footage disturbing.


TODD (voice-over): Ronald Greene appears to be struggling, trying to pump himself up. But a Louisiana state trooper bluntly orders Greene to lie on his belly.

LOUISIANA STATE POLICE TROOPER: Don't you turn over! Don't you turn over! Lay on your belly! Lay on your belly!

RONALD GREENE: Yes, sir. OK, OK, sir.

LOUISIANA STATE POLICE TROOPER: Lay on your (EXPLETIVE DELETED) belly like I told you to! You understand?

GREENE: Yes, sir. Aggh!

TODD: Tonight, CNN has obtained more body camera footage of Louisiana state police troopers and their fatal confrontation with Ronald Greene in May 2019.

In the newly released footage, Greene is heard repeatedly struggling, but the officer seemed to be more concentrated on restraining him.

LOUISIANA STATE POLICE TROOPER: I was going to sit him up, but I didn't want him spitting blood all over us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Then they went beyond an excess of force. When you handcuff, when you shackle someone, it's over. There are no more punches, you're not standing on top of them. You take care of that person. They are in your custody.

TODD: Earlier this week, "The Associated Press" posted short clips of different previously unreleased body camera footage it had obtained, showing trooper surrounding Greene during that same traffic stop outside Monroe, Louisiana. Footage showing them tasing him, punching and kicking Greene, handcuffing him, dragging him by his feet.


TODD: Greene died after this encounter on the way to the hospital. His mother spoke to CNN.

MONA HARDIN, RONALD GREENE'S MOTHER: We need to hold these people accountable. Someone needs to pay, someone needs to go to jail for this. This is murder would happen to my son Ronny.

TODD: Greene's family, which has filed a wrongful death long's lawsuit, says police initially told them Greene died as a result of a car crash. But the autopsy reports obtained by CNN cites not only the crash, but also head injuries, physical struggle and restraint as factors in his death.

Listed first as the cause is agitated delirium induced by cocaine, which was found in his system.

In a separate body cam clip obtained last year by WAFB, one of the troopers involved is her talking to a colleague on his radio afterward, claiming that Greene have been fighting back against the officers.

TROOPER CHRIS HOLLINGSWORTH, LOUISIANA STATE POLICE: And I beat the ever-living (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of him. We choked him and everyting else, trying to get him under control.

TODD: In the separate footage CNN obtained, another officer arrived on scene after Greene was detained and appears to praise the troopers who confronted Greene, although it's not clear why.

LOUISIANA STATE POLICE TROOPER: You all did a good job, you all called it out, did a good job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm disappointed that in 2021, if I get pulled over on the side of the road by 5 or 6 white man in Louisiana, that I'm concerned about making it out of that situation with my life.


TODD (on camera): CNN has reached out, but has so far been unable to get a comment from any of the officers involved in the Greene incident. One of those officers died in a car crash last September.

So far, the officers involved, two of them have been reprimanded, but no one has actually been charged in the case of Ronald Greene -- Wolf.

BLTIZER: All right, Brian. Thank you very much. Brian Todd reporting.

Other news, police are investigating apparent anti-Semitic hate crimes in New York and in Los Angeles that come amid flaring tension between Israel and the Palestinians.

CNN's national correspondent Miguel Marquez is in New York City.


DEMONSTRATORS: Free Palestine! Free Palestine!

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Pro- Palestinian demonstrations turned violent.

In New York City, a 29-year-old man wearing a yarmulke beaten by a group of five to six individuals Thursday, some chanting, F Jews, F Israel.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I mean, they were just whaling on my head, beating on me. Just I'm literally cowering for cover.

One 23-year-old is now under arrest and facing numerous charges, including one related to a hate crime, including to a law enforcement force.

In Los Angeles, police investigating a possible hate crime after a pro-Palestinian demonstration turned violent with some protesters shouting "death to Jews" and "Israel kills children". One witness telling CNN pro-Palestinian protesters started throwing bottles and one asking diners seated outside who is Jewish.

A fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas may bring the temperature down here but protests and allegations of anti-Semitism on a sharp rise, according to the Anti-Defamation League.

In Vegas, Miami, Tucson and Long Island, protests and reports of hate crimes as tension and violence half a world away continues to incite anger here.


MARQUEZ (on camera): The council on American Islamic relations, condemns these attacks on American Jews. They should be able to protest without the fear of violence. They also point out that there have been many attacks in the last few weeks against those of Islamic faith and Muslims. They all hope that with that peace -- or the cease- fire in the Middle East, the tensions will go down here is well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: We certainly hope that. Miguel Marquez in New York City for us -- very disturbing information indeed.

To our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.