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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Ivanka Trump Testifies To Father's Civil Fraud Trial; CNN Poll: 39 Percent Approval Rating For Biden; US Carries Out Airstrikes Targeting Iranian Assets In Syria; IDF Says It Has Destroyed At Least 130 Hamas Tunnels Since Start Of War; Thousands Of Palestinians Flee Northern Gaza Through Evacuation Corridor As Israel Steps Up Gaza City Offensive; House GOP Oversight Panel Subpoenas Hunter And James Biden; Ivanka Trump Testifies In Her Father's New York Civil Fraud Trial. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 08, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
YONI ASHER, WIFE AND TWO YOUNG DAUGHTERS HELD HOSTAGE: Don't be mistaken to think this is Israeli war. They are knocking on your doors. The West is not next, the West is now.
My family are still alive. We can still save them and all of the hostages.
My family, my babies, my wife, they need to get out now. You need to use all your power in order to do so.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Yoni ended his comments by reciting the Shema, one of the most important prayers in Judaism.
Thanks so much to all of you for joining us. AC 360 starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
Tonight, New York's attorney general rests her case against the former president and his two adult sons. The state's final witness, Ivanka Trump, who was initially a defendant until an appeals court dismissed the case against her. Today, on the stand, she largely distanced herself from detailed knowledge of her father's financial statements and the valuations that went into them, saying, "That was not something I was involved in."
On multiple other occasions, she said "I do not recall" when asked about financing for several properties, including the former Trump Hotel in Washington.
As "The Washington Post" reported at the time, she oversaw bidding for the property, as well as securing agreement with the federal General Services Administration for use of the landmark property. Government official back then telling "The Post" that Miss Trump said about her own family: "She fully anticipates her daughter growing up in the business, and being out there years down the road negotiating the renewal." The family sold the hotel last year.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: At the end of the day, this case is about fraudulent statements of financial condition that she benefited from. She was enriched, and clearly, you cannot distance yourself from that fact.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The defense gets its chance starting Monday, so there's a lot to get to starting with CNN's Kara Scannell who was inside the courtroom all day, she is now outside in Lower Manhattan.
So what stood out from her testimony today?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: One thing, Anderson, was her demeanor. It was very different from her father's where he had outbursts. She was very controlled and she was very composed. She answered the questions, although not always to the satisfaction of the Attorney General's Office, but their main focus today were the loans that she was involved in, and that was on the golf course known as Doral in Florida, as well as the old Post Office Building that she helped negotiate with the General Services Administration, the federal government to get that lease.
So they asked a lot of questions about that, showing documents indicating that she was involved in these loans, that she knew that her father's financial statements were being provided for these loans, and her testimony was that she was involved at a high level and that she'd introduced the relationship to Deutsche Bank and this private wealth unit to the Trump Organization.
But she said, when it came to the nitty-gritty details, she didn't recall them, and that she relied on some others. So again, like her brothers, Don, Jr. and Eric Trump, who testified last week, distancing herself from these financial statements. She was asked specifically about them in particular if she had any involvement in them, and she said she had no involvement in them. She didn't know what went into the values on the statement.
She didn't approve them. She didn't review them. So consistently, like her brothers saying that they did not have any involvement in them.
But I mean, you mentioned that old Post Office building. They had received the financial statements as part of the bidding process for that, and she was asked about a letter, an e-mail that the GSA had sent saying that they had flagging that Donald Trump's financial statements did not comply with accounting rules in all respects.
So she was asked about a meeting she attended with her father in Washington, DC when they were pitching this project and asked specifically, did these financial statement irregularities come up during the meeting and she testified, she had no recollection of that, saying that during the meeting, she was focused more on her vision for the project. Now her testimony lasted all day long, and then the New York Attorney General's Office rested their case -- Anderson.
COOPER: And when does the defense start presenting the case?
SCANNELL: So Donald Trump's team will begin presenting their case on Monday. They have already signaled that they might call Donald Trump, Jr.; possibly Eric Trump back to the stand. They also said they're going to call a number of experts and they are going to call from bankers.
And that was one element of the cross examination of Ivanka that came out today. They were able to get her on record saying that Deutsche Bank was very happy with the loans and they're going to call some bankers to say these financial statements were not important in their decision to give these loans, hundreds of million dollars in loans to the Trump Organization over many years -- Anderson.
COOPER: All right, Kara Scannell, thanks so much.
Perspective now from David Cay Johnston, an investigative reporter; Syracuse University Law School visiting lecturer, and author of several books on Donald Trump including "The Big Cheat: How Donald Trump Fleeced America and Enriched Himself and His Family."
Also joining us, CNN legal analyst and former Manhattan chief assistant district attorney, Karen Friedman Agnifilo.
So do you think Ivanka's testimony was positive or negative for the case?
KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it was slightly positive for the attorney general's case. I don't think -- I don't want to overstate it, but it's white collar case. You're not going to have these giant dramatic moments in the trial. In a white collar case, it is largely about papers and numbers and things like that.
And you have these little elements of the crime that you build through the witnesses and what Ivanka provided today, the small nugget of knowledge that you provide today was that the banks did rely on these financial statements, and that is important for one of the elements of the crimes or the charges I should say, which is that it was material, that they were material --
COOPER: Because they're going to -- the Trump team is going to argue when they make their defense, apparently, that the financiers didn't care about the estate.
AGNIFILO: Exactly. And so one of the things that -- there were seven charges, right, and they were already found liable for the first one, that there was persistent fraud. The remaining six though have additional elements. It had to be intentional, it had to be material, there had to be reliance on these statements, and it seems that that was the information that the attorney general was able to get from Ivanka by showing that that they said, it was important to them that his net worth at one point, they wanted him to be able to have $3 billion, you know, that that was an amount of money they wanted him to have or his net worth to be in.
And she negotiated it down to $2.5 billion, and at one point, one of the banks, the branches didn't want to -- the commercial part of the bank didn't want to give the loan and so Ivanka, what she did was she introduced them to the private wealth section of the bank, because these things did matter.
Now, if they're going to be able to call people from the bank to say no, it didn't. That changes it. But for today, that element, that little bit was given to the attorney general from Ivanka's testimony.
COOPER: And David, I know you expected Ivanka Trump to minimize her role during testimony. Can you just remind viewers how involved she was in the Trump organization before she became an adviser to her father at the White House?
DAVID CAY JOHNSTON, AUTHOR, INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST: Well, the testimony today showed actually, she's more involved than even I realized, because she in fact negotiated, as Karen said, his net worth down from a $3 billion guarantee to two-and-a-half billion.
She signed off on e-mails and wrote e-mails to people that show her involvement, and she didn't refute any of the documents. She simply said "I don't recall" so many times, I think we should be worried she may forget her children's birthdays.
But I think the most revealing thing she said, Anderson, was that Donald Trump in order to pump up his net worth got pledges from his three oldest children to count their wealth, or a portion of their wealth on his personal guarantee statement to the bank. I'm sorry, all across America, the bank of mom and dad often helps grown children, but the other way around is quite unusual and it goes to Donald artificially inflating his net worth.
COOPER: And she agreed to that.
JOHNSTON: Well, she signed a pledge, pledging part of her assets to her father, yes.
COOPER: And Ivanka Trump testified today that she didn't recall any specific discussions over annual financial statements. A., is that plausible? And B., does that matter?
JOHNSTON: I think it's not plausible. There are some details that she may not have remembered that are not important. But clearly, because she negotiated a much lower interest rate, six fewer percentage points roughly, on one of the loans, that shows she was deeply involved in this.
And so her role, I think, in this was quite clear, but what she provided was evidence of certain transactions that as Karen pointed out, require proof of intent. And secondly, she didn't refute any of the documents. She said, "I didn't write that" or "Someone was following up that document." So the judge is going to rely on those documents, not her faulty recollections.
COOPER: Karen, what do you make of how Ivanka Trump distanced herself? Because I mean, I remember, during the election, um, there was all this talk about all of these kids are running the corporation and, you know, they show up at corporate events and that, you know, allegedly the two sons are running the corporation in their father's absence.
I mean, it's not like, certainly none of them are claiming the buck stopped with them. They all seem to be passing the responsibility off on unnamed accountants.
AGNIFILO: Right. I wasn't surprised that Don, Jr. and Eric Trump distanced themselves because they are defendants in this action, they are still on the hook for this action. She, if you recall, used to be a defendant, but an appellate court said that she was beyond the statute of limitations. So why she did it and said she didn't recall? It's unclear, maybe loyalty to the family, I don't know.
But she doesn't have as much to lose because she's not a defendant in the action.
COOPER: And David, if the judge rules against the former president at the end of this, can -- what do the penalties actually look like?
JOHNSTON: Well, the judge initially revoked all of the business certificates, business licenses of the Trump Organization. There are more than 500 Trump entities. They've been restored at least temporarily by an appeals court.
But if in fact it stands, Donald Trump doesn't have business licenses, he has to disgorge these assets. The state will get its money first, Donald Trump will be at the end of the line. He may be able to acquire back some of his own, but he cannot do business in New York, if the judge puts back in place the revocation of the business licenses. It's a corporate asset.
COOPER: So what happens to Trump Tower?
JOHNSTON: Well, Donald owns only part of Trump Tower. He owns his apartment at the top, he owns the retail space, and the office space. And that would be among the properties most likely to be sold.
The problem Trump will have is that a sale following this trial is not going to be at premium prices, it's going to be at fire sale prices, and that could have a serious depressing effect on Trump's finances.
COOPER: And Karen, I mean, as we said, the attorney general rested the case, the defense takes over. What are you anticipating from them? I mean, they are going to try to get -- do you think it's likely they'll call back Eric and Donnie, Jr.? AGNIFILO: I think so because they didn't cross examine them when the attorney general called them on their direct case. And I think that was a strategic decision, so that they could make a motion to dismiss at the end of the government's case and not add anything through their cross examination. So it's almost like reserving the right to do that.
And so I can imagine that they would call them to the stand to get them to say whatever it is they want them to say and potentially even the former president, they could call him back and let him go on and on.
Because on direct examination, that's your time to talk and to give your story as opposed to the yes or no questions, which is, what he was -- what the government was trying to get out of him was more specific.
COOPER: Yes. And the judge as well, it seems.
AGNIFILO: And the judge as well. As long as it's as long as it's on topic, and it's relevant, and it's admissible, then you have a lot more leeway on direct than you do on cross. So you could see them doing that and the bankers that they promised, so we'll see.
COOPER: Karen Friedman Agnifilo, thanks so much. David Cay Johnston as well, thank you. Appreciate it.
Coming up next, what voters said last night about Democrats and Republicans and the issues, and what it does or doesn't say about the electability of President Biden or Donald Trump.
Also, a live report from the Pentagon on the airstrikes American jets carried out on Iranian targets in Syria.
COOPER: It is no secret that in the last few weeks, there have been some deeply troubling poll numbers for Democrats. New CNN polling shows President Biden with just 39 percent job approval. A recent "New York Times" polling shows him losing to the former president in four out of six key states, yet as little as voters say they think of the Democratic standard bearer himself, they continue to vote for Democratic policies, especially in abortion and that pattern certainly held last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): I think it's about execution. It's about messaging and we've got to do a better job. Yesterday to me was a complete failure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: North Carolina Republican Senator Thom Tillis today after Ohio voters by a wide margin approved an abortion rights referendum. Kentucky's Democratic governor also held off a Republican challenger in that red state, and Virginia's Republican governor failed to flip the Commonwealth Senate after campaigning heavily for Republican candidates there.
With me here, CNN political commentator, Van Jones; CNN senior data reporter, Harry Enten; also from the right and left respectively, CNN political commentators, Alyssa Farah Griffin and David Axelrod.
So Harry, let's look at some numbers. Democrats performing well at the ballot box, it seems since the Dobb's decision.
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: You know, I like to look at things not just individual races, but put them in the context of a larger situation.
COOPER: People say that about you.
ENTEN: That's what they do say, they say that and they say I like data.
And if we look last night, right, we saw the Kentucky governor's race, we saw the Virginia legislature, but it's not just those races, right?
We've seen in special elections since the Dobbs decision, Democrats consistently outperforming Joe Biden's 2020 baseline in every single congressional election. And, of course, the 2022 midterms in which the Democrats had arguably the best performance for the White House Party since at least 2002, and arguably the third best performance in the last century.
So we've just seen it over and over and over again, the polls are saying one thing with Joe Biden doing quite poorly, but the actual election results, a lot of folks are voting for Democrats and Democratic policies.
COOPER: If there's a Biden-Trump rematch, what does that mean for third a party candidate like Robert Kennedy, Jr.?
ENTEN: Yes, so Joe Biden-Donald Trump, two have the least -- they would be two of the least liked major party nominees on record. And if you look right now what RFK, Jr. -- you know, you mentioned those "New York Times/Siena College polls, if you look at what he's getting in these states, he's getting in the high teens to low 20s, across six of these battleground states.
He is polling higher than any third party candidate has pulled since Ross Perot in 1992, something is going on. We're not talking about this guy, but a lot of people seem willing to vote for him. And more than that, he could really shake up that dynamic.
You know, you said in for those six swing states that Donald Trump was ahead of Joe Biden. But if you add RFK, Jr. to the equation, you look at Arizona, you look at Pennsylvania, those are five-point leads for Donald Trump in those polls without Kennedy. You add Kennedy to the equation, all of a sudden, it's a tie and all of a sudden, we have a really tight race for the presidency. And I was surprised that no one seemed to be talking about this poll data at all, because guess what? RFK, Jr., for better or worse, you like him, you don't like him, that dude is running and running strong getting a lot of votes and he could really shake up the dynamic of the 2024 campaign.
COOPER: What do you think about voter turnout in a Biden-Trump rematch?
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, the couch is going to get a lot of votes, I think if that's all you're looking at, because, you know, the Trump base is powerful. It has decided they're going to want to come out, but you know, they're traditionally smaller than the Democratic base.
The Democratic base right now seems depressed, except when it's time to vote. It's like everybody sat all day long and then it's time to go vote and people get mad and determined, and they go back to being sad.
And so it is possible that there's something happening out there detached from Biden, detached from Trump. You do have the labor movement now up on its hind legs fighting hard, you do have groups like you know, Black Voters Matter, they are now very sophisticated and well supported, and you have this issue of abortion.
So we have the cause. We have the capacity. The question is, do we have the presidential candidate to win in 2024?
COOPER: So David, I mean, should --
DAVID AXELROD, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Nobody gives alliteration like Van.
COOPER: I mean, should Democrats be concerned about President Biden's chances, I mean given the last -- given the results of this --?
AXELROD: Oh, look I think we're a closely divided country, so people should take this seriously under any circumstance, but obviously, there are special circumstances here. And, you know, the country is in a sour mood, he's the incumbent. And there are these issues about his age.
And if this is a referendum on Joe Biden, I think that it is a perilous situation for him. If, on the other hand, if he can turn it into a choice, and he can capture some of these issues that are motivating voters in these states and mobilizing voters, then I think it's a different situation.
So far, he has chosen to play into the referendum strategy by running ads about the economy that are more buoyant than people's view of them and talking a lot about Bidenomics, and so on. He needs to start talking about Donald Trump and he needs to start throwing this thing into a comparative --
COOPER: You ran into that issue with then President Obama.
AXELROD: We did.
COOPER: Coming out of the 2008 financial crisis.
AXELROD: We did, and first of all, we learned a lesson about how we talked about the economy, but we -- through the race for a year, we sort of anticipated that Mitt Romney would be our opponent. We knew he had economic credentials, but we ran the race around who would fight for the middle class, who cares about people like you, and we ended up winning on that basis.
But it takes day in and day out discipline to turn a race into a comparative race and stay out of the referendum track.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, and there is this kind of bizarre dynamic where the brand of the Democratic Party in fact, is probably stronger than the brand of Joe Biden. He is consistently on ballot initiatives and statewide races, outperforming Joe Biden's performance.
But on the flip side, on Republicans on, our brand has shot. It is having an incredibly hard time, especially around the issue of reproductive rights and abortion. Trump, I would argue at least can -- he is not a winner. We know he has not won major victories for the Republican Party dating back to 2018 midterms, but he does energize people.
So on the Republican side, what we have to do is how do we actually change that? What do we do to make voters want to come out for us in elections when Donald Trump is not in the ballot? And if Donald Trump who is very likely going to be on the ballot? Is there -- how do we not alienate the massive swath of voters who see him as radioactive and repugnant in a general election?
COOPER: Well, also, how do the Republicans handle abortion rights?
GRIFFIN: Listen, I think Nikki Haley has probably given the most nuanced answer on this. I'm very curious what she says tonight coming on the heels of Ohio, of Kansas before her and when her chief opponent, at least in this debate, is Ron DeSantis, who signed a six- week ban.
Fifteen weeks is something, I think you can communicate to a lot of the American public if framed with, we're going to give you paid family leave, better access to foster care, better adoption care services.
And by the way, this isn't about restricting your rights, it's about solidifying where the vast majority of the country is, about 69 percent of the country supports 15 weeks, that's a good starting point. You have to communicate it.
And by the way, you have to talk with compassion. We hurt ourselves so bad as Republicans after Dobbs when it just became demonizing women who wanted them, criticizing the act of abortion and of itself, rather than talking about crisis pregnancies being very real. How do we have fewer of them? And how do we get the care to mothers who need it?
COOPER: Glenn Youngkin though --
AXELROD: Yes, he pitched 15 weeks.
GRIFFIN: But Kate Bedingfield, Biden's former comms director and CNN analyst said very smartly, last night, I think he, yes, took a more moderate position, but he didn't talk about it in a moderate way. So he was essentially using the old pro-life language to cater to kind of the base of the Republican Party, but it did not resonate with Independents who still saw it as giving up a right that they had.
There's a way to communicate this that I think actually gets the broadest swath of voters.
AXELROD: Alyssa just said something important about Trump, and you want to be careful about sort of extrapolating from these elections that Harry has been talking about Democrats, have done quite well, dating almost back to when Trump was elected to every election after.
A general election for president of the United States is a different kettle of fish and Trump will bring out a large turnout of people who aren't going to participate in these elections. It's a different kind of electorate, and that I think, is important to keep in mind.
ENTEN: That's why that Kennedy factor could be so important because a lot of those folks that might not -- that would normally sit out, but may actually come to that ballot box, they may instead go, you know, I hate both major parties, I'd rather go with Kennedy and I think that's why we should be talking about it.
AXELROD: Yes, I agree. Third parties are going to play a huge role in this election.
JONES: I agree.
COOPER: Just ahead, new US airstrikes tonight targeting Iran's military assets in the Middle East.
Also ahead, new video involving Iran's ally, Hamas. It shows the tactics Hamas is using as Israel's military now says it is in "the heart of Gaza City."
Plus, getting out of Gaza, what it was like for a Palestinian-American couple with a toddler who had gone to the region to visit their family.
COOPER: In a moment, the latest on Israel's war against Hamas. First, a new development involving Hamas' ally, Iran, a new US airstrikes targeting an Iranian asset in eastern Syria. Our national security reporter, Natasha Bertrand joins us with the latest.
So what happened with this airstrikes?
NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Anderson. So two F-15s, they launched an airstrike against a facility that was suspected of housing weapons and ammunition, essentially a weapons depot for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies, other groups that have been using this, essentially a warehouse to store weapons that US officials believe these proxy groups have been using to stage attacks on US forces in the region.
There have been over 40 such attacks in recent weeks on US and coalition bases in Iraq and Syria. So this was a way for the US to both retaliate against the Iranian-backed groups for those attacks, and try to destroy their infrastructure and the weapons that they are using for those.
Now according to Defense officials who just spoke to us a short time ago, the US used precision munitions to carry out these airstrikes and they saw secondary blasts coming from those warehouses, indicating that there were weapons being stored there.
So look, Secretary of Defense Austin, he released a statement about this and he is describing this as a very limited self-defense strike, a precision strike aimed at defending the US against these kinds of attacks.
There has been a lot of criticism, as you know, over the response to these attacks, saying that they have been tepid, but the US says they're not looking to expand this conflict anymore. They simply want to conduct these limited strikes to try to destroy that Iranian infrastructure -- Anderson.
COOPER: Natasha Bertrand, thanks.
Now to Israel's war against Hamas, Israel's military now in what it calls the heart of Gaza City. They said today, it destroyed more tunnels used by Hamas.
According to the IDF, these tunnels were located near a school sponsored by the UN. The IDF also now state that they destroyed at least 130 tunnel shafts since the start of the war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this week that Israel would maintain security over the Gaza Strip for "indefinite period." Jeremy Diamond has more including new footage of what that urban combat looks like.
JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): An Israeli armored vehicle advances through the Al-Shati refugee camp. But an ambush awaits. Moments earlier, the same video shows a Hamas fighter armed with a rocket-propelled grenade, moving slowly from behind the rubble. These are Hamas propaganda videos from the perspective of its fighters, showing Hamas militants peering around buildings and through the rubble, before striking armored vehicles. CNN has geolocated several videos released in recent days to northern Gaza. In Beit Hanoun, Atatra and the Shati refugee camp, indicating Hamas is likely still mounting attacks in areas Israeli forces entered over a week ago. The videos provide a limited window into the group's guerilla tactics, and the threats Israeli forces face as they move deeper into Gaza.
LT. COL. PETER LERNER, IDF SPOKESPERSON: As we're moving in, we're fighting more and more close combat, urban combat type engagement.
DIAMOND (voice-over): The Israeli military says its forces have encircled and are operating in the heart of Gaza city where they face the dangers of dense urban combat and a vast network of tunnels Hamas fighters are using to sneak up on Israeli forces.
LERNER: The nature of urban warfare is that they go down a tunnel and come up somewhere else. And that is exactly why we're moving slowly. We're not advancing. We're not rushing into this. We're taking strategic positions.
DIAMOND (voice-over): Israeli forces say they've destroyed 130 Hamas tunnel shafts like this one, since launching their ground offensive.
LERNER: We're just scratching the surface of that.
DIAMOND (voice-over): But many more still remain.
COOPER: Jeremy Diamond joins us now. What's the (inaudible) evacuation options for civilians in Gaza?
DIAMOND: Well, Anderson, in recent days, tens of thousands of Palestinian civilians have used those evacuation corridors established by the Israeli military over the last several days to flee south. In fact, just today, according to the United Nations, 50,000 people took advantage of a five-hour window to evacuate south using Salah al-Din Road, one of the main arteries going north/south in the Gaza Strip. And all of this, Anderson, comes not only as the Israeli military is ramping up its military operations in northern Gaza, but also of course as the humanitarian situation there has grown worse.
Access to clean water is extremely limited. Hospitals are running out of medical supplies, running out of fuel to carry out even basic operational matters. And Israeli officials are of course ramping up their ground offensive in northern Gaza. Israeli officials now saying that Israeli troops are operating in the heart of Gaza city, pressing forward with this advance, as the Israeli prime minister vows no ceasefire unless hostages are released. Anderson?
COOPER: Jeremy Diamond, thanks so much.
Many Palestinian Americans who made it out of Gaza are just now getting home, facing a particular heartache. They're relieved obviously to be safe, but worried every moment about their friends and family who are not. My next guest are Americans, who along with their almost two-year-old son, were in Gaza on October 7th visiting family. They just got back to their home in Massachusetts earlier this week.
Abood Okal and Wafaa Abuzayda join us now. Welcome home, first of all. How do you feel? Are you exhausted?
WAFAA ABUZAYDA, PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN HOME FROM GAZA: We feel -- I had a mixed feeling, to be honest. I feel happy because we're safe here. We're back. But our thinking mind is in Gaza because I still have my parents over there, Abood 's parents still over there. We text them every minute to make sure they're OK. We made it here just because of Yousef. I want to make sure he's OK, he's COOPER: Yousef is your baby?
ABUZAYDA: Yousef is my baby. He's going to turn two years next month.
COOPER: You got home in time for his birthday?
ABUZAYDA: Yeah, yeah.
COOPER: What was -- you had gone there both to visit family
COOPER: And you had spent a couple of weeks there. Obviously, you had no idea this all was about to happen. When did you realize -- was it on the morning of October 7th that you realized something has happened?
ABUZAYDA: Exactly, yeah.
ABOOD OKAL, PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN HOME FROM GAZA: Yeah. I think October 7th, it was 6-ish o'clock in the morning local time. And I remember hearing sounds of rockets launching. And I woke up Wafaa and I said, I think that is the sound of rockets.
OKAL: And we checked out the windows and indeed it was. And then a few minutes later, we were trying to look at the news. And then it was unclear at the beginning, but then in a couple of hours as the news rolled out of what was happening that day, realized that we are in trouble, and that this is going to be a big event.
COOPER: What was that -- going south, was it difficult, once you actually got together and headed down there?
OKAL: It was chaotic. I think early that day, when we heard the announcement by the IDF to head south, there was no time line given. There were no specific instructions other than
COOPER: Just go.
OKAL: Past (ph) south of Wadi Gaza which is basically Gaza valley, a landmark. So, everyone scrambled.
COOPER: At this point, I mean, did you think the border might still be open? Because I mean, there was so much misinformation, so much -- I mean, people didn't know what was going on. But that Rafah border has been shut this whole time. So, did you think you could get out at that point or just thought get south and we'll figure it out?
ABUZAYDA: Yeah. We tried a couple of times going to Rafah border. But every time, we'll wait for a couple of hours and the gate, it's not opening. So, leave.
COOPER: You were in a house staying with dozens of other people.
ABUZAYDA: Yeah, 40 people.
COOPER: 40 people?
ABUZAYDA: 40 people, yeah. We used to share everything with 40 people.
COOPER: And getting supplies and things, what was that like?
ABUZAYDA: It was so difficult. It was so
COOPER: You had a two -- your baby needs milk.
ABUZAYDA: Oh, yeah.
COOPER: Even that is
ABUZAYDA: Even that, yeah. We used to wake up every morning thinking about, like, how we're going to get water, bread, food. Abood used to go with his brother waiting on the line, getting water and bread, and come back after seven, six hours with one gallon of water for 40 people. And then, like, pieces of a bread. It's not enough for 40 people. So, we used to share with
COOPER: With a child, I mean, I think about it, I mean obviously all those kids. Was he scared? I mean what was his sense of what was going on?
ABUZAYDA: I told myself, I have to be relaxed when I hear all the sounds. So, I started to teach him, OK, this is what you hear. This is the fireworks. Remember the fourth of July? It's the same thing. I don't know if -- I don't think he trusted me. I don't think he believed that this is a fireworks.
COOPER: And at some point, the milk did ran out?
OKAL: At some point, the milk did run out, yeah.
ABUZAYDA: Yeah, the milk did run out. At the beginning because I knew it's -- we were going to run out at some point. So, I started to reduce his bottle, like from whole bottle to half bottle giving him.
ABUZAYDA: So, the last five days or a week, so we ran completely out of milk. I used to give him water instead of milk.
COOPER: It's got to be this strange feeling of being relieved that you're out and yet, your family is there.
ABUZAYDA: We're still processing what we experienced. I can't believe -- I can't believe our short trip just turned into a nightmare.
OKAL: And even though we're physically out, I think mentally we're still there. I think at some point, it cannot be worse to be on the outside. Nothing is worse than being inside of Gaza right now. If you're not dying from airstrikes or shelling, you're at high risk of dying because of dehydration and lack of food. And despite the little aid that's coming in, it's not really making -- it's not moving the needle.
COOPER: Well, thank you so much. I'm so glad you're back. And I am -- but I understand that, that tug and that feel of family left behind. So, I'm sorry that you have that.
ABUZAYDA: Thanks for having us.
OKAL: Yeah, thank you. Thank you, Anderson.
COOPER: Just ahead, back to U.S. politics and Republicans taking the next step in their impeachment inquiry into President Biden, today issuing subpoenas for Hunter Biden and President Biden's brother's James. Democrats are calling it a sham. One of them is Congressman Jamie Raskin. He joins me next.
COOPER: One day after Democrats won big on Election Day, House Republicans issued subpoenas for the son and brother of President Biden, Hunter and James Biden, as well as one of their business associates. They're also requesting interviews with others, including the widow of President Biden's deceased son, Beau. And it's the first time the House Oversight Committee has directly subpoenaed members of the Biden family.
Committee members say they are searching for evidence that President Biden committed an impeachable offense involving the business dealings of his family members, something they have failed to do so far. Hunter Biden's lawyer called the subpoenas "a political stunt." The White House called them an effort to "distract from their repeated failures to govern."
Joined now by the top Democrat on the Oversight Committee, Congressman Jamie Raskin. So, what's your reaction to these subpoenas now?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN, (D-MD): Well, I couldn't believe that one day after the voters of America repudiated all the politics of extremism and fanaticism that we've seen in the Oversight Committee, they decide to double down on their wild fishing expedition into the Biden family and send out 25 subpoenas to Biden family members, including not only Hunter Biden, Jim Biden, the usual suspects, but Hunter Biden's wife, Jim Biden's wife, the late Beau Biden's widow, the widow's sister. It's like a Biden family reunion. But one person that they did not seek to subpoena was the one person who could unlock the whole mystery for them, which is Rudy Giuliani, who got all of these phony allegations started about Joe Biden with the Burisma myth that he made up with Lev Parnas. But of course, they've rejected all of the Democratic efforts to subpoena Giuliani and Parnas because Parnas has actually come out and said that they travelled all the way around the world looking for some real evidence of corruption and couldn't find anything on Joe Biden.
RASKIN: And they just concocted the whole thing. And Parnas has now said, it's time to call off the whole wild goose chase. But it is amazing to me, Anderson, that rather than take the lesson from what Americans said yesterday, which is cut out the extremism, the fanaticism, the politics of personal destruction. They're just diving right back in again.
COOPER: I mean, they've been making claims now for months, promises about what's about to be revealed. I mean, do Hunter Biden and James Biden have any choice but to comply with the subpoenas? Obviously, Democrats have been very critical of the Trump allies who defied congressional subpoenas, including Jim Jordan.
RASKIN: Yeah. I mean, I haven't read any of the subpoenas yet. I mean, I just received word that they were out. So, I haven't seen them. So, I don't know what the particulars are. I don't even know what the authority is for them to be issuing subpoenas at this point because it was the Republicans who insisted that you can't issue subpoenas in an impeachment investigation unless the full house has voted on it. And we ended up complying with that demand and that perspective with Donald Trump, and we made sure the full house voted on it.
They have not had the house vote on it because they don't have the votes on the Republican side to get a majority. If it was put to a vote in the House, the majority of Democrats and Republicans together would reject the MAGA agenda. So, I've got to look and see even what the authorization is for these subpoenas, if they're coming from the Judiciary Committee or the Oversight Committee and whether it's within their proper jurisdiction.
But in general, yes, of course, everybody has got a responsibility to comply with congressional subpoenas, despite what Jim Jordan and other Republicans have modeled with their terrible misbehavior. These are members of Congress who blew off subpoenas that were rendered by the January 6th Committee. So, I don't know the legalities of these particular ones, but certainly there's a general obligation.
COOPER: What do your Republican colleagues say to you when you point out the impeachment inquiry has found no evidence of wrong doing by the president?
RASKIN: Well, some of them live in alternative universe. They watch a different network than yours, Anderson, and so they actually think that there's something there, even though it's perfectly clear to the rest of the country that they've found nothing. And you know, they're suspending critical thinking skills. So, they'll say things like, "Yes, but what about these loans?" And the loans they're talking about were perfectly lawful loans that Joe Biden, as a private citizen, made to his brother, Jim Biden, as a private citizen, which were interest- free that were repaid to him.
And somehow we're supposed to construe from that some kind of crime or an impeachable offense. And they won't even listen to their own expert witnesses, who they called together in this single hearing that they've had about impeachment, all of whom rejected the idea that there was any crime that is evident from the nine months of investigation they did, much less an impeachable offense. They just said, "There's nothing there." That's their witnesses. But they just dive right back in and what we're hearing from them now is they're not going to do any more hearings, which is the best decision they've made yet. But they're going to be engaged in these depositions of people who they are in the process of rendering subpoenas to.
COOPER: Congressman Raskin, appreciate your time. Thank you.
RASKIN: You bet.
COOPER: Now quickly, some breaking news. Hollywood actors are ending their walkout. Leaders of the Screen Actors Guild, their union, reaching a tentative agreement with the major film and television studios tonight. No details yet. If approved, it sets the stage, so to speak, for roughly 160,000 actors to return to work after 118 days on the picket line. The union saying the strike officially ends tonight, one minute past midnight.
In a moment, back to our top story tonight, Ivanka Trump taking the stand at her father's civil trial, specifically her ongoing effort including today to separate herself from the family, the business, and the politics.
COOPER: As we reported earlier, Ivanka Trump took the stand today in her father's New York civil trial, spending roughly two hours, trying as best she could to distance herself from her father's legal troubles. That's something she actually have been trying to do for years now. Randi Kaye has more on that.
RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Donald Trump left the White House in January 2021, his daughter Ivanka Trump wasn't far behind. She and her husband, Jared Kushner, packed their bags and relocated along with their three young children to Miami. First, they rented a condominium at a pricey ocean-front building where rents are about $40,000 a month. The condo was home until they built a new house on a lot of land they purchased for $32 million on the exclusive Indian Creek Island in the Miami area.
Ivanka and her family now live about an hour-and-a-half drive south of Mar-a-Lago, the private club her father calls home.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: In order to make America great and glorious again, I am tonight announcing my candidacy for president of the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE (voice-over): When Donald Trump announced he was running again for president, Ivanka skipped the announcement. Instead, Ivanka issued a statement saying, "I love my father very much. This time around, I am choosing to prioritize my young children and the private life we are creating as a family. I do not plan to be involved in politics." She added, "While I will always love and support my father, going forward, I will do so outside the political arena." CNN has also reported that Ivanka and Jared Kushner have no plans to campaign on behalf of Donald Trump, a complete about-face from 2016.
KAYE (voice-over): Several people who spoke to CNN, but wanted to remain anonymous to preserve personal and professional relationships with the family, one said Ivanka would never go back to that life. She knows it's not something that would serve her or her family at this point.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. TRUMP: In 2020, I received the largest number of votes
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE (voice-over): Family, friends, acquaintances and members of Trump's team told CNN, Trump's inability to move on from the 2020 election pushed his daughter away. During the last few years, Ivanka has stayed out of the public eye. One of the few times we've heard from her was during testimony she gave to the House Select Committee investigating the January 6th riot. When asked about Former Attorney General Bill Barr's statement that there was insufficient fraud to overturn the election, this was her response.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
IVANKA TRUMP, DAUGHTER OF DONALD TRUMP: I respect Attorney General Barr, so I accepted what he was saying.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAYE (voice-over): Instead of focusing on her father's political world, Ivanka has been spending time touring the real world. According to her Instagram, she's been to Egypt, Prague, Paris and Greece, just to name a few. She's also been surfing and learning to fly. And while Ivanka has largely been shunned by the elite social circles that used to embrace her, her reputational rehab is starting to take root. Kim Kardashian posted this photo recently from her celebrity-packed birthday party. That's Ivanka on the right in white sequins.
Randi Kaye, CNN, Palm Beach, Florida.
COOPER: We'll be right back.