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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Trump Ally Mike Johnson Elected House Speaker Three Weeks After McCarthy Ousted; Johnson Elected New House Speaker plans An "Aggressive Schedule"; Trump Fined $10K For Violating Gag Order In Civil Fraud Trial; Inside Hamas Tunnel; Netanyahu Tells Israelis "We Are Preparing For A Ground Incursion. I Will Not Detail When, How Or How Many"; Inside The Network Of Hamas Tunnels Under Gaza; "Today's Hostage Crisis Is Unlike Any Other"; Qatar Hopes For Hostage Breakthrough Soon; Suspect Still At Large After Two Active Shooter Events In Lewiston, Maine As Per The Sheriff's Office; U.N. Hospital, Other Services In Gaza May Soon Halt Without More Fuel; Netanyahu In His Address To The Nation Regarding The On October 7 Incident Says Everyone Will Need To Provide Answers, Including Himself. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired October 25, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Finally, tonight, the first order of business under the new House speaker passing a resolution supporting Israel's war against Hamas. It passed with a vote of 412-10, a rare moment of close to total unity at a pivotal time.
Thank you so much for joining. Our (inaudible) coverage from Israel continues now with "AC 360."
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: It is 3:00 am in Tel Aviv, and tonight we have a rare look inside the Hamas tunnel system that Israeli troops could face if and when they go into Gaza. Also, I have the latest in efforts to get more hostages out before that happens and an update on deteriorating conditions inside Gaza itself.
We begin though telling with what happened today back in Washington, which certainly matters when it comes to American military assistance for Israel's war effort here.
Today, three weeks after ousting Kevin McCarthy from the speaker's chair, House Republicans finally agreed on someone to replace him. He is Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana, a staunch social conservative with less than seven years' experience in the chamber.
He's also a 2020 election denier who actively worked to overturn the outcome. That said, he managed to win unanimous support from fellow Republicans today, even those on record saying they would not vote for an election denier. They did.
If there's a lot to get too seen as Melanie Zanona starts us off on Capitol Hill with more. So how will Speaker Johnson able to do what all those others could not? MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, Anderson, Johnson really benefitted from the pure exhaustion inside the GOP. After 22 days of chaos and bitter infighting, Republicans were just really desperate to unify and put this really ugly chapter behind them.
And look, Johnson is well-liked in the conference. He's also very conservative and very closely aligned with former President Donald Trump, which is the direction that the party has been trending in recent years.
But it seems his most important quality was that he had no enemies in the conference, in part, because he's a low-level member, pretty obscure rank and file member. And so, you know, he became the nominee last night. And less than 24 hours later, he was already the speaker.
And he didn't even have to cut over any deals with the right-wing of his party in order to become speaker, Anderson.
COOPER: And has Johnson said what his priorities will be legislatively?
ZANONA: Well, his first act as speaker today was to put a bipartisan resolution on the floor condemning Hamas, expressing support for Israel. And it passed with overwhelming support. So there was an early and easy victory there for Johnson, but he is going to face much harder legislative challenges in the days and weeks ahead.
Of course, he has government funding to deal with. That expires November 17th. That was an issue that bedeviled his predecessor, former Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
He's also going to have to heal these deep wounds that still very much exist inside the GOP. And he's also going to have to tackle the topic of whether to couple Ukraine aid and Israel aid.
I caught up with Johnson a little bit ago, asked him whether he supports Ukraine aid. That is something that has been divisive within the GOP. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), US HOUSE SPEAKER: We all do. There's -- we're going to have conditions on that. So we're working through it. We'll get you more details.
ZANONA: What kind of conditions?
JOHNSON: We want accountability, and we want objectives that are clear from the White House, but we're going to have those discussions and it'll be very productive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZANONA: So, Johnson is going to have to face the same tricky political headwinds that Kevin McCarthy did. And Johnson is a much less experienced leader. He's very untested. But in a positive sign for Johnson, those hardline Republicans who ousted Kevin McCarthy are signaling that they're prepared to give Johnson a much longer leash to govern, at least for now, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Melanie Zanona, thanks.
More now on where Johnson stands on important issues, positions that might not have been widely known or significant beyond his constituency during his comparatively short time in Congress leading up to this moment.
For that, I want to turn it to CNN's Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash.
Dana, how surprising is it that this particular congressman, out of everyone in the house GOP conference, is the new speaker?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's surprising when you look at the context of how one usually becomes speaker because it's usually based on tenure, and that tenure allows somebody to get relationships, to build those relationships over years, to help with fundraising. That is usually a very, very big part of becoming speaker, proving to your conference or your caucus that you can help them get elected or re-elected.
And it's also usually proof that you can lead. Somebody is usually, at the very least, a chairman of a committee.
And Mike Johnson is none of that, has none of that experience at all. And it's really, really telling about where the Republican Party is, particularly in the house right now.
As I've heard from several House Republican members, it's because he had the fewest enemies. And the biggest issue with all of those who tried before him and failed is that they had too much experience. And with experience in this really, really divided, really toxic environment that you see the House Republicans part -- a part of, the more experience, the more knowledge that people have, the more enemies that they made, which is such a new dynamic when it comes to picking a House speaker.
COOPER: One experience that Congressman Johnson does have is his efforts to overturn the 2020 election, which he was obviously asked about before he was elected. Let's listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Johnson, you helped lead the efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Do you (inaudible)?
(GOP CROWD boos the reporter who asked the question.)
JOHNSON: Next question, next question. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: I mean, they all don't want to hear about it, clearly, but it's true. Can you walk us through how involved he was?
BASH: Yeah, it is true, and that was a really important and very good question.
And the reason why his colleagues who are had just elected him that -- this was the night before he became speaker -- didn't want to hear it is because they don't want to go there.
But the reality is, Anderson, that, as an attorney, he took it upon himself to try to gather signatures among House Republicans to file a friend of the court brief, an amicus brief, on behalf of a lawsuit that Texas was bringing to decertify, not Texas votes in 2020, but the votes of several states that were -- battleground states that Donald Trump lost.
Now, ultimately the Supreme Court didn't even hear the case, so it became moot. But that was a big part of his effort in 2020.
And he still has not answered a really fundamental question, which is, is he satisfied with that? Does he feel comfortable that Joe Biden was the free and fair -- freely and fairly elected president of the United States, as all evidence shows he was?
And you know, when he was a back venture, it was something that was not great. When he is second in line to the presidency, as he is now, it is a question that he must answer.
COOPER: Dana, the new speaker is very closely aligned with former President Trump, the MAGA agenda. He also has a very conservative voting record. How is that going to impact his speakership?
BASH: It's not yet. And so much of this is unclear because he's so untested and he's so new. And, yes, he is closely aligned with Donald Trump, so much so that he was first elected in 2016, the year that Donald Trump was elected president. And I mean, that just shows how new he is.
And on some of those social issues, he is, in some ways, a more traditional social conservative, very staunchly against abortion rights and staunchly against rights for gay marriage, which actually, in the second -- well, in both, it puts him at odds with the majority of how people feel in the country.
But when you look at his party, that is not a position on gay marriage, on same-sex marriage that, in 2023, a lot of main stream Republicans support. So, it definitely puts him at odds with those voters.
The question is -- and you're getting to this with your question, to me, Anderson -- how he will govern as speaker. Whether he will try to push those agenda items in an aggressive way, especially given how we have seen voters react on the issue of abortion in particular. We know that democrats are going to be all over. They already are all over the 18 Republicans who serve in the House, who serve in districts where Joe Biden won.
The Democrats who want to take back the House are going to hang Speaker Johnson's positions around the neck of every one of those endangered Republicans.
COOPER: Dana Bash, Dana, thank you.
COOPER: As for the former president, he briefly took the stand today -- the witness stand in the New York civil fraud trial. It came at the judge's orders after the defendant said that -- said this during a break in testimony by his former lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This judge is a very partisan judge with a person who's very partisan sitting alongside of him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: As you know, the former president is already under a gag order, barring him from attacking the judge and the judge's staff, in particular, the judge's clerk. He's already been fined $5,000 for violating that order.
So, when the court returned, the judge called him to the stand, where Trump insisted he was not talking about the clerk, who sits to the judge's right. Instead, the former president claimed he was referring to Michael Cohen in the witness chair to the judge's left.
Now, the judge, replying, quote, "I find that the witness is not credible, and fining him $10,000 in response."
Joining us now is CNN Legal and -- Legal Analyst and former Criminal Defense Attorney Joey Jackson, and CNN's Kaitlan Collins, host of "The Source," coming up at the top of the next hour.
So, Joey, how unusual is it for a judge to haul a civil defendant up to the witness stand, listen to what he has to say, and then deem him not credible and fine him?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Anderson, it doesn't happen that often. And obviously, it does happen. It happened here, but it's certainly a significant step for a judge to do that.
And so think about what happened here. Number one, the judge issued a determination that there was a violation of the gag order. But more importantly, the judge held Mr. Trump accountable for that violation and accountable to the tune of what he understands, and that is money.
And so I think what the judge is doing by doing that -- and I'll get to the credibility determination momentarily -- is saying, look, what I say matters. If there's a gag order, you're going to follow it. And so I'm going to hold you accountable now and I'm going to deter you in the future from even thinking about violating my order.
As to the finding of no credibility by Mr. Trump, that's huge, too. Think about the case we're talking about.
Credibility is everything in a case like this, where you're running a company and you're alleged to have engaged in persistent fraud.
If a judge deems you not credible for something as simple as who you're referring to, think about what the judge might be believing with respect to testimony involving this company and the fraud that they're accused of.
And so a wholly significant development by all accounts with respect to the merits of the case and with regards to him not abiding -- Mr. Trump, that is -- by the order that the judge imposed.
COOPER: And, Kaitlan, any sense how this is going over in the Trump orbit?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Well, I mean, I can guarantee you that when they all woke up this morning, Trump's legal team and Trump himself, they did not think he would be called to the stand today. But this is a result of, you know, nearly every day when he has gone into the courtroom here in Manhattan, he has spoken to reporters, railing against the attorney general here in New York, going off on the judge.
Of course, what the judge believed going off on one of his law clerks again today after he had already posted pictures of her, that was the reason he got the first fine. It was kind of seen as a technicality because he left the post up on his campaign website, but deleted it from his true (ph) social.
And I think the 15 grand is not something that, you know, is obviously going to hurt someone like a Donald Trump, but it is the essence of it, that he is now facing punishment for the comments that he is making. And he got up there and tried to make his own argument, tried to argue that he wasn't actually talking about this law clerk, even though the judge noted she sat a lot closer to him than Michael Cohen did, who was in the witness stand.
And the judge quickly did not believe him. And I think this is the first time we've seen Donald Trump actually testifying in an open court in more than a decade.
And he is expected to actually testify in this trial not related to this matter, Anderson. And it doesn't seem to bode well for what that testimony is going to look like.
COOPER: And, Kaitlan, the fact that he is attending this -- continues to attend this trial, I know there were some days he wasn't there, but it's -- I mean, it's just a sign of how important he thinks this is.
COLLINS: It's personal. It is incredibly personal for him. That is why he is -- I mean, he's flying up here from Florida to come to this.
It's not like he's just hanging out in New Jersey at his nearby club. I mean, he is -- he went back to Florida today after leaving that courtroom earlier. And he has sat in on it multiple days. He is not, you know, just sitting there quietly paying attention to the proceedings.
We've heard from reporters in the room, you know, he's, at times, throwing his hands up in the air, kind of rolling his eyes at the proceedings.
Him and Michael Cohen being in the same courtroom in and of itself is something shocking. I don't think they've been in the same room together in about five years. And Michael Cohen was in there obviously and we've seen how their relationship has completely devolved into and deteriorated.
And it's just remarkable to see, you know, that this is something -- he really cares about the outcome of this, even though largely it's already kind of been decided.
COOPER: And, Joey, what happens if he runs afoul of the gag order again?
JACKSON: Yes, I think the judge is setting the tone, Anderson, as it relates to what he expects and anticipates. This is not a broad hard- to-follow gag order. It's a gag order.
And as much as the judge said, listen, staff is off limits. Do not address that. He did.
And so what the judge did, I think, is in keeping with what judges like to do, that is ensure decorum, ensure the court is followed, ensure that people are not attacked or demeaned for simply doing their job and squarely setting the stage for moving forward that if you do it again and again deterrent, then I'm going to have something to say about it.
And so I think we could see fines that increase, right, and continue to increase.
And remember briefly, this is not the first time in connection with this case that he was fined. He was fined because of not complying with handing over information to the attorney general to the tune of over $100,000.
And I just would add that in a case where a judge is making a judicial determination about whether you're responsible and certainly your licenses are at stake in the state of New York and what you do in your business practices and what the findings are, I think he's the last person that you might want to get upset and who you might want to not follow their orders. And so we'll see whether Mr. Trump could comply with that moving forward.
COOPER: Yes. Joey Jackson, Kaitlan Collins, we'll see you at the top of the hour. Thanks.
Coming up next, for us, inside some of the tunnels that Israel forces may soon have to go into in search of Hamas gunmen or the hostages. Also, the latest on conditions at hospitals in Gaza with very limited aid and no fuel coming into the territory. And as we go to break, more of the faces and names you'll see throughout the program of Israelis taken hostage on October 7th.
COOPER: In his televised address here earlier today, Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this about sending troops into Gaza. Quoting now, "I will not detail when, how, or how many or the overall considerations that we are taking to account, most of which are unknown to the public, and this is how it needs to be in order to better safeguard the lives of our soldiers."
Whether spoken or not, one of those considerations is certainly the network of tunnels that Hamas has built under Gaza to move undetected, store weapons, and now hold hostages. More from CNN's Nic Robertson.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): This is the invisible danger awaiting Israeli troops in Gaza. Hamas tunnels, miles of them, hiding the well-armed terror group's fighters.
The video, Hamas propaganda, distributed by the Israel Defense Force shows concrete reinforced subterranean passages. Israeli hostage, 85- year-old Yocheved Lifshitz, saw them firsthand before she was released late Monday.
YOCHEVED LIFSHITZ, FREED ISRAELI HOSTAGE (through translator): We began walking inside the tunnels with the wet ground. It was moist all the time.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have been building tunnels under Gaza for at least a decade.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The ceiling is made out of concrete.
ROBERTSON (voice over): Over the years, CNN has been shown them by both the IDF, after capture, and by the terror groups themselves, showing off their underground advantage as propaganda, a place to hide weapons, estimated at dozens of miles long. They snake underneath many of Gaza's neighborhoods and have become known to Israelis as the Gaza Metro.
These new videos the IDF is sharing appear to show a progression in sophistication, and therefore an increase in potential danger to troops in the event of a ground incursion into Gaza. Like a 21st century equivalent of World War I trenches, these deep burrows have dugouts for storing weapons and saferooms for fighters to plan and gather. Small trapdoors in the desert let militants evade advancing troops, even sneak up behind them and the danger down here, not just to the troops above, but to Israeli civilians, too.
Long-range rockets stored on wall brackets can be rushed forward to be fired towards Tel Aviv and other cities from hidden gun pits connected directly to the tunnels, making the launch sites even harder for the IDF to strike back at.
Only after an incursion can Israel expect to fully destroy the terror tunnels. Absent that, the so-called Gaza Metro will outfox and endanger Israeli soldiers and civilians alike.
ROBERTSON: Some of these very heavy detonations that we hear from here that you can actually feel sometimes, Anderson, I think these are intended to try to penetrate deep down and take out some of those tunnels.
But after the 2014 incursion, the IDF went in, and they used bulldozers to get rid of the tunnels. So that really shows you, even with the really heavy munitions, they're not going to be able to eradicate all these threats that the troops are going to face when they get in there.
And that is, of course, something that plays heavily on the minds of those soldiers, knowing that militant Hamas terrorists can pop up behind them when they think they've already cleared a house or a field -- Anderson.
COOPER: Nic Robertson, thanks.
I want to get some perspective on the challenges those tunnels might present for the IDF should it choose to embark on the ground incursion.
Back with us tonight is Retired Army Colonel Peter Mansoor. He's a former top aide to General David Petraeus, currently a professor of Military History at Ohio State University.
So, I mean, it's fascinating to see these tunnels both in IDF video that they put out and also Hamas propaganda video. Can you just talk about the challenges of dealing with a network like that? How do you destroy them? How do you fight in them?
PETER MANSOOR, RETIRED ARMY COLONEL: Well, preferably you don't fight in them. In World War II, on Iwo Jima, for instance, the Japanese had an extensive tunnel network. The marines would simply find the entrances and close them off, whether with explosives or bulldozers or flame throwers. And they would entomb the Japanese inside.
In Gaza, this has a -- this is a problem though, because inside those tunnels, there may be some of those hostages that Hamas has taken. And, of course, you want to free them.
But fighting inside tunnels is a slow, dirty work, claustrophobic, and very, very dangerous. And it advantages the defender. So, I don't think the Israeli Defense Forces really want to get into a close knockdown-dragout fight inside those tunnels.
COOPER: Even mapping or gathering the information about the tunnels must be extremely difficult.
MANSOOR: Yes, you might be able to, with persistent surveillance, find the entrances and exits. But where the tunnels lead, how they snake around underground, almost impossible to tell from overhead reconnaissance.
The Israelis, as they advance forward with their ground offensive, are going to have to leave troops in the rear to secure their rear areas. They can't assume that once they've cleared a building, for instance, that there aren't hatches that -- through which the militants can come up from the ground behind them.
COOPER: And in a dense urban environment, like Gaza, with obviously now lots of debris around, I know they have bulldozers as well, but how vulnerable are, you know, APCs, tanks in urban combat?
MANSOOR: Well, it's a misnomer that urban combat is just infantry combat. The best force to use in urban combat is a combined arms team that has tanks, that has infantry fighting vehicles, but they need to be protected on the ground by dismounted infantry and overhead by air defense and air force assets.
So, the combined arms team rules the modern battlefield, and that's as true in the urban environment as it is in the open desert.
COOPER: And how do you think this conflict -- and we talked -- oh, you and I have talked about -- you know, about Mosul, about the US experience there, Iraqi forces' experiences there, how big -- or Fallujah. Were the civilian populations pretty much cleared out of both of those places?
MANSOOR: In Fallujah, yes, the US forces and Iraqi forces surrounded Fallujah, gave them several weeks to clear out before they went in. So that was a fairly clean battlefield, if you will.
Mosul still had some civilians, although far fewer than are in Gaza. And there were civilian casualties in that fighting.
But the way that the US and Iraqi forces went about clearing Mosul reduced those casualties using special forces and targeted air strikes. If you go in with a big -- a heavy ground invasion, as the Israelis might be planning, then there's going to be a lot of death and destruction in the path of the advance.
And if civilians are in those buildings, as they're assaulted, they're going to -- a lot of them are going to die. COOPER: And so is that the idea of more limited incursion with special forces? Is that something you would recommend in a situation given the number of hostages and the civilian population still there?
MANSOOR: Well, there's a marine three-star general in Israel right now who's probably recommending that course of action to the Israeli Defense Forces to do it the way we did it in Mosul. But there's a drawback to that. It takes longer.
And there's a calculation that the Israeli government needs to make. How long is the world community going to give them once they go in with ground forces? Can they afford a several month-long battle versus something that will be quicker, but more deadly?
COOPER: Colonel Peter Mansoor, thank you. Appreciate it.
Coming up four hostages that we know released now. More than 200 remain. My next guest says, this is a crisis unlike any other that he's seen as a hostage negotiator here in Israel. He's Gershon Baskin who helped part of the negotiations in the 2011 release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, although that took years and years of negotiations.
He's been talking to senior Hamas officials since the October 7th attack. His insights next.
COOPER: Qatar, one of the nations involved behind the scenes in negotiations to release hostages held by Hamas says, it's hopeful for a breakthrough "soon." As you know, four hostages have been released; more than 200 remain. The United States has pressed Israel to delay a ground operation inside Gaza while negotiations are ongoing. Sources tell CNN they don't believe the Israelis will hold off for very long.
My next guest, Gershon Baskin helped negotiate the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit who was finally released on 2011. That effort for one soldier took more than five years, and the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including the current leader of Hamas in Gaza. Now, Gershon Baskin says in an op-ed in "The New York Times" that this crisis is unlike any other and that "none of the old rules apply." Gershon Baskin has also been speaking to his contacts with Hamas since the October 7th attack, and I talked to him earlier.
So Gershon, first of all, where do you think we are in these negotiations behind the scenes?
GERSHON BASKIN, MIDDLE EAST DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITIES ORGANIZATION: I have been in touch with people in Hamas and people in Qatar, with people in Egypt, and no one will confirm what is holding up the agreement right now. Israel has intensified the bombings in Gaza this evening, which is unbelievable, with the human suffering that's going on there. And no one seems to be in a rush to get this done.
COOPER: In a deal to release Gilad Shalit, as you well know, more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were released, one of whom is leading Hamas right now.
BASKIN: Yes (ph).
COOPER: At the time, did you have a sense that could happen? Do you regret making that deal? I know this is personal for you as well.
BASKIN: It is personal for me because four of the people who were released in that deal killed my wife's first cousin, a year before Gilad Shalit was abducted. So, it really is personal. Yahya Sinwar, the man who is leading Gaza was (inaudible).
COOPER: So, the people who you were involved in -- so, the people who you were involved in negotiating with, some of the prisoners who were going to be released, they had killed a member of your own family, your wife's family?
BASKIN: Well, I didn't have anything to do with selecting the list of prisoners and, in the end, I was not a decision maker.
Prime Minister Netanyahu and 26 ministers of his government voted for this deal. The whole national security establishment supported the deal. What I thought -- what (inaudible) prison from the Mossad that I was working under believed was that once an Israeli soldier was no longer in Gaza, the reality on the ground would change. We could open up the siege. We could gradually work out some kind of modus vivendi with Hamas that would enable people to have a chance of a better life, that the whole entire Palestinian question could be addressed seriously.
But, Mr. Netanyahu had a completely different strategy, was keeping Hamas in power, and it delegitimized Palestinian authority in Ramallah because he never wanted to deal with the Palestinian issue. In this way, he could say there's no one to talk to. We have no partner, is the slogan used by Netanyahu all of these years, who he wants to negotiate with.
Sinwar who is leading Gaza was arrested by Israel and served 22 years of a life sentence for killing Palestinians. He never killed an Israeli before. He killed collaborators with Israel. This is a man walking by on the screen. Israel operated on him -- he had brain cancer and Israel took care of his brain cancer, did surgery on him, and saved his life from cancer. And this is the man who is leading Gaza today.
COOPER: So, do you believe deals should be made because there are those who take a hard line and say there should be no negotiations over hostages, which is obviously a very -- I mean, an emotionally -- and it's an impossible choice. BASKIN: Right. You know, if there is a chance of a military operation that could rescue the hostages, if this was 1974 (inaudible) and the Israelis could sweep in and save everyone and lose one soldier, who was the brother of Mr. Netanyahu, then that would be amazing. But that's not the reality here. If we send in military ops special forces, we're going to lose soldiers and probably a large number of the hostages are going to be killed as well.
COOPER: Just finally, do you think it's possible to have a situation where the elderly, the wounded, babies, all the civilians are released as a sign of good faith, if you will, from Hamas? Or you can call it whatever you want. Is it possible that all the civilians might be released and then there's a longer negotiation over soldiers?
BASKIN: Right. I think that there's a very good chance still, while the window is open before the ground incursion begins, that there is a negotiated agreement for the release of the civilians, the women, the children, the elderly, and the sick, the wounded. This is definitely a possibility. Hamas has not demanded, to the best of my knowledge, a prisoner released from Israel for that. They want a ceasefire. They want the bombing of Gaza to end.
They believe that the ceasefire will be held by Israel because they will be holding onto the Israeli soldiers, and that's the belief or guarantee that Israel won't continue the war. I don't believe that's the case. I think that once the civilian hostages are released, that Israel will have the green light to rescue the other hostages as part of its main military directive, which is to remove Hamas' capability from governing and threatening Israel.
So, I think Hamas is taking a big risk. Israel could agree to a ceasefire and then break that agreement for a ceasefire knowing the risks that are being taken. Hamas could kill the hostages. They acted like ISIS inside of Israel. They can act like ISIS inside of Gaza as well. And this is a danger. This is a real risk. But I think that the primary Israeli directive is to remove Hamas' ability to govern and threaten Israel any longer, even at the risk of sacrificing hostages.
COOPER: You believe that?
BASKING: I think that's the reality of Israel today; that could change. But that is certainly the mood of the country, even though the voices of the families of the hostage are growing stronger. Today, for instance, for the first time in 17 days, I think we're now in the war, the military spokesperson said that the primary objective is not only to remove Hamas but also to bring the hostages home. That was the first day when it said that this is the primary objective. So, they've now combined the two objectives as being primary.
It's going to be very difficult. But the first thing we need to do is get out everyone that Hamas is willing to get out in exchange for a ceasefire, in exchange for whatever issue they're haggling over that's slowing the process down, we need to get it done quickly.
COOPER: Gershon Baskin, thank you. Thank you for your time.
BASKIN: Thank you very much.
COOPER: I want to bring you a breaking situation right now back in the United States. Police investigating what local law enforcement in Maine -- in Lewiston, Maine say are calling two active shooter events.
Lewiston as you can see is just northeast of Portland. I want to go to CNN's Athena Jones, who has the latest on the situation there. Athena, what's going on?
ATHENA JONES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, these reports are coming in slowly, more details we're getting by the minute. In fact, another shooting, a third location -- a shooting at a third location, a Walmart distribution center, appears to also be under investigation. That's according to the "Sun Journal" newspaper. But Androscoggin County Sheriff's Office has released a photograph of the suspect that I believe we can put up on the screen. They're calling for folks in two neighboring cities, Lewiston, Maine and Auburn, Maine, to shelter in place after reports of shootings that they're being investigated at multiple locations, telling residents, please stay inside your homes with the doors locked.
Law enforcement is currently investigating at multiple locations. Lewiston City Councilor Robert McCarthy is telling CNN that schools are currently on lockdown. You may ask why would schools need to be in lockdown at this hour of the night. Well, apparently, there have been activities going on at those locations. So, these events are still unfolding. But you can see there, a man who appears to have some sort of long gun -- we don't know what kind of gun that is. And they are investigating these events occurring at multiple locations. The "Sun" newspaper reporting
COOPER: Yeah. Athena, let me ask you -- let me -- go ahead, Athena.
JONES: I was going to say, the "Sun" newspaper reporting that the first two locations being investigated, one, Sparetime Recreation, seems like a recreation center there in Lewiston, and then also Schemengees Bar, and Grille Restaurant on another street in Lewiston. We don't yet have a map but we know that Lewiston is a relatively small city, a population of about 36,000, about 40 miles north of Portland, Maine. And authorities in next door Auburn, which is about two miles away from Lewiston are also asking residents to shelter in place
JONES: As this investigation unfolds. But still, a lot of details that we are still waiting to come in.
COOPER: Yeah. (inaudible) I want to bring in CNN's Security Correspondent Josh Campbell. Josh, as we look at this image, normally, we don't put up images of active shooters. But given that this is an ongoing situation, police are obviously wanting any information about this person. It's believed this person is still active. What stands out to you at this time? JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, you're absolutely right, Anderson. This is essentially the only time we like to publicize the shooter, when police are actively trying to find this person. They are appealing to the public, if you see this person, to call 911. And looking at that imagery right there, what you see is a high-powered assault-style rifle. And as we zoom in there, center in (ph), you can see there's a long magazine. What that means is this is a lot of fire power, a lot of ammunition that someone can fire in a short period of time.
The individual appears to be wearing cargo pants there. We've seen in past incidents, they bring additional magazines to these situations, which just means that they are able to fire on a lot of people, which is why we're seeing now these reports of different incidents. Obviously, for police right now, they have been sending out these orders, as Athena was just mentioning, shelter in place orders because we believe that this individual has gone to these multiple locations. Just because there are multiple locations don't necessarily mean there are multiple shooters. It appears this person is on the move and authorities are trying to find this person.
We do know that there were a host of law enforcement from multiple agencies that are fusing together. These are different jurisdictions that they're warning residents to be on the lookout. When that happens, the boundaries go away. Police will fuse together. Again, their goal is public safety and preservation of life, and trying to find this individual. And they are essentially following these reports, mapping it out, as you will. Where can this person be going?
One thing that's interesting, at this time of day, if it -- obviously, we're far -- it's too soon to know about what the motive is. But at this time of day, if you have someone who is intent on causing mass loss of life, it would be these kinds of locations -- a recreation center, a distribution center
CAMPBELL: Where you would presumably have lots of personnel. So, a very dangerous situation, (inaudible) authorities are issuing that shelter in place to try to keep people off the streets.
COOPER: Josh, how unusual is it -- I mean, obviously, look, the FBI has done studies on every active shooting situation and compiled statistics. We know most fatalities in active shooter situations occur within the first minute of an incident. But the fact that they are looking at multiple locations, three possible locations -- and again, we don't, at this point, know the distance between those locations, if this individual got into a vehicle or if these were all within a short walking distance. But the fact that there are multiple locations already, what does that tell you?
CAMPBELL: Well, it tells me that this is an individual obviously who is searching for targets. It appears that way, going to places that are populated. One thing that's always important, I mean we are not talking about a major metropolitan area like New York City or Los Angeles. [20:45:00]
It takes time for law enforcement to respond, particularly in a smaller jurisdiction where they may not have a large component of police on a particular shift. So they have to call in additional officers, they have to call in what's called mutual aid, sending word out to other agencies, federal, state, local, to bring them in. That takes time in somewhat remote like this. It's not a large metropolitan area. That provides the shooter time to move to different locations.
Obviously, now that they're flooding the zone with authorities, they're hoping that this person may go to ground. Obviously, they want to prevent the additional loss of life. But you'll have additional police assets out there. If someone does call 911 and says, we see this individual, they can quickly vector those police to that location. The final I'll is that this is also the critical time as they're treating patients, they're also looking for witnesses, interviewing people at every one of those scenes, trying to figure out who this person is. Do you recognize this individual? Obviously, this is the snapshot in time that we are seeing what the person was wearing at that moment, that people can easily change their clothes. And so, the description may change over time depending on what additional witnesses say, all critical pieces of information as this manhunt continues.
COOPER: Also, Josh, I mean there's a lot we don't know. Do we know the time that the first police report came in? Or do we know what the time the police first alerted the public about this? Just to get a sense of how long this individual has been out there with a gun operating?
CAMPBELL: We don't. And obviously, we've been trying to reach out to law enforcement. They have their hands full right now. Obviously, they're putting this image out there. But you have a lot of officers who, especially -- particularly in smaller jurisdictions, they may not have a full-time person that deals with public engagement and the media. And so, again, all those officers are focused on this manhunt. We do know as these reports have come in, we've been listening and seeing what officers have been saying. We're not talking about an extended period of time.
But we are seeing time and again, these reports come in of a new incident. And then after those reports come, they'll put that information out. We'll obviously report it. And again, they're -- since trying to figure out if anyone knows who this person is or the location where they might be, they obviously want the people to call law enforcement very quickly. We don't have a specific timeline but we're not talking about hours going by. This is all happening in quick succession.
COOPER: Josh Campbell, Athena Jones, thank you. We're going to keep on this throughout the hour.
Just ahead, the Gaza hospital crisis, the flood of casualties, many of them children. Clarissa Ward joins us with her report next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [20:50:15]
COOPER: Sources tell CNN one of the major roadblocks in hostage negotiations that we mentioned a moment ago is the issue of fuel, Israel refusing to let into Gaza. Officials here say that Hamas will use it to carry out more attacks. U.N. officials say fuel is needed to operate among other much needed services, hospitals.
Clarissa ward has more on that. We want to warn you, some of the images you'll see are graphic.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every morning, they gather outside the al-Aqsa (inaudible) hospital. Family members bidding farewell to their loved ones who did not survive the night, a ritual that tragically has become all too familiar in Gaza. Women and children, these are the targets this man laments, this is Hamas. Hours earlier, the chaotic moments as the dead and injured were brought into the hospital during the most intense night of bombardment in the last 17 days. And as with every night, so many of the victims, children.
Doctor Mohammad Ryan (ph) says the ER has struggled to keep up with a flood of casualties, and the severity of the injuries that they are dealing with, particularly third-degree burns.
The hospital is not prepared to deal with these types of burns, and I don't suppose the bigger hospitals would be able to either, he says. We're suffering from a lack of essentials due to the siege. Even as we speak now, at any moment, the electricity could cut off.
The World Health Organization has warned that 12 of Gaza's 35 hospitals are no longer functioning. And that number is about to get higher unless desperately needed fuel arrives. Left to fend for themselves with no place to go, they watch and wait for help that has yet to come.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Clarissa joins me now. There was concern that Gaza would run out of fuel tonight. Do we know what the status of that is? Are hospitals going dark?
WARD: Well, we haven't been able to get in touch with any of the hospitals tonight. We have spoken to the U.N. Agency that operates inside of Gaza and they had warned yesterday that they were about to run out of fuel. Now, they're saying if they don't get more fuel tonight or tomorrow that they'll be forced to suspend operations. You remember, Anderson, we spoke to that doctor at the Shifa Hospital on Monday, he said two days' worth of fuel left. I have tried to message him several times. We have not yet heard back from him. We will be contacting him again in the morning.
But it is very clear that we are talking about the very last drops of fuel at the moment, Anderson, and with every moment that goes by, there is the risk of that those generators will no longer be able to function. Ventilators, incubators, desalination plants, all of them will come to a grinding halt unless the international community can come together and find some consensus on this issue soon, Anderson.
COOPER: All right. Clarissa Ward, thank you for that report.
Next, what Israel's prime minister said today in his address to the nation about the intelligence and military failures on October 7th. A lot of people want to see him take responsibility. We'll have more ahead.
COOPER: As we mentioned earlier, Israel's prime minister gave a televised address to the nation in which he said that Israeli forces are preparing for a ground invasion of Gaza. He also talked about investigating the Israel's failures on October 7th. Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the U.S. joins me.
I want the ask you about something that Netanyahu said today, he said this failure will be investigating thoroughly, meaning the intelligence failures, the military failures on October 7th. Everyone will need to provide answers, myself included. But all of this will happen only after the war. There is a lot of Israelis I've talked to who feel that he should at the very least accept some responsibility, which intelligence chiefs have, military chiefs have as well. He has not
MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: We have (ph) this Internal Security (inaudible) FBI accepted responsibility. It's sort of an Israeli tradition, by the way, accepting responsibility. I don't know how many Americans resigned after 9/11 or even how many Americans resigned after Pearl Harbor, but here it doesn't work like that. After 2006, you remember, because you were here during the Second Lebanon War, the Chief of Staff resigned, basically the Prime Minister resigned, the Defense Minister resigned because they felt that the war didn't go well. That war was going a heck a lot better than this war is going.
COOPER: Does the doubt about Netanyahu among many here, does it -- does it make this ground operation more difficult? Does it weaken the military?
OREN: It weakens our resilience and I'll explain. Everybody knows who the Chief -- the Commander of the Chief of the U.S. Armed Forces is, it's the President of the United States. Yes, a good trivial question, who's the Commander in Chief of the Israeli Defense Forces? Lot of Israelis don't even know the answer. It's not the Chief of Staff, it's not the Defense Minister, it's not the Prime Minister, it's the government, the whole government is the Commander in Chief.
This country fights on the basis of consensus and if there's any question about the government's legitimacy, its willingness to take responsibility, it will impact the entire system. And this is why you're hearing from Israelis that they think that the prime minister should accept responsibility. What they're really saying is, either he should step down or he should say "I will accept responsibility" which is code in Israel for, after this, I will step down. And that's we (ph) understand when the Chief of Staff took responsibilities, it is I'm going to fight this war, but after this I'm leaving. And
COOPER: So, what do you -- the, you know -- people have been using the word "Imminent" for this ground operation now for three weeks.
COOPER: I'm not sure how much longer people can use that word. What do you think is going on and how long can it be delayed?
OREN: Well, what's going on is, they're saying there's tactical and strategic reasons, maybe the forces aren't up in terms of training. You just can't take people out of the civilian life who maybe did a reserve duty three years ago and throw them into combat. They have to
COOPER: Particularly this kind of combat, urban street to street.
OREN: No question. They have to have the right equipment. Not everyone have the right equipment. The Air Force wants to flatten certain areas of the combat, so that they -- the troops can move and the tanks can move without going through a dense urban environment. I mean, look at the city beyond this.
Would you want to go in there and fight? Necessarily (ph), you would want a flat surface. To do that, you have to get the civilians out. And that's taking a long time to get the Palestinian civilians out. So that's what is delaying it. I mean, the United States is saying to the Netanyahu Government, saying give us a little more time to get more hostages out. So there is another factor in there.
COOPER: Get more humanitarian supplies in to the south.
OREN: There is a lot of clogs (ph) going on here. But here, the clogs are moving in the other direction. (inaudible) directions are, A, you have 360,000 reservists called up. You know, that's like more reservists than the entire American military. That's the size of the army that moved into Iraq in 2003. That's very large.
COOPER: You can't keep an army of 360,000 reservists indefinitely in their -- on that position.
OREN: Not just that. Who are the reservists? These are people -- these are women and men in their 20s and 30s who are the backbone of this economy. Most of them are married, most of them have kids. You can't -- they've been away from their houses for three weeks. There's a morale issue. You just can't keep them sort of hanging out for three weeks. And they get fired up at first and then maybe they are not going to be so fired up when they're sitting out there for three weeks. COOPER: The hostage families say the number-one priority should be getting the hostages back. What Netanyahu said today is -- and I'm sure if this is a slight change of language, but essentially that destroying Hamas and as much as possible getting the hostages -- getting the hostages back. Are those the same?
OREN: They're going to have to be, unfortunately. Why? Because I'm going tell you, (inaudible) Israel can't accept a ceasefire. Ceasefire means Hamas wins. Ceasefire would like, you know, after Pearl Harbor, America saying, "OK, we are going to have a ceasefire because the Japanese have a lot of prisoners." Or after 9/11.