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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Sources: Mar-a-Lago Workers Potential Witnesses In Documents Case; Trump Says In New Univision Interview That He Would Use DOJ To Indict Political Rivals; One-on-One With Chris Christie; Video Of U.S. Airstrikes On What It Claims Is Probably An Iranian Weapons Depot In Syria Released By Pentagon; Israel-Hamas War; As Civilians Flee, Israel Consents To Daily 4-Hour Battle Pause, Says U.S.; Netanyahu And Biden Reject Any Ceasefire; CNN Reports On IDF Operations From Inside Gaza; Interview With Axios Political And Foreign Policy Reporter Barak Ravid; Brawl Outside Museum Of Tolerance After Screening Of Hamas Attack Film; Legal Scrutiny Applied To Arizona's Bogus Electors. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 09, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger speaking out about the letters.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: If they don't condemn this, they are not worthy for the office that they're running for.
This is domestic terrorism and it needs to be condemned by anyone that holds elected office and anyone that wants to hold elected office.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: Fentanyl was found in an envelope received by election officials in Kings County, Washington as well. That's home to Seattle, of course. That letter arriving as officials counted ballots from this week's elections. It prompted an evacuation of some 150 workers.
Thanks so much for joining us tonight. AC 360 starts right now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Good evening.
First it was the IT guy, now members the Mar-a-Lago household staff might also end up testifying against the boss. That's what multiple people familiar with Special Counsel Jack Smith's classified documents investigation are telling us and it is a CNN exclusive.
They say federal prosecutors may call as witnesses a plumber, a maid who clean the former president's bedroom, a chauffeur, and a woodworker, people who might not get a lot of attention on a Trump property, but who see and hear a lot on the job. People who CNN has also learned have already been talking in detail to investigators. They are now likely witnesses. So are Secret Service agents, sources tell us and others who were in the room and the former president was captured on multiple recordings, apparently showing off a classified military document about bombing Iran.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Wait a minute. Let's see here. (PAPERS SHUFFLING.)
UNIDENTIFIED SPEAKER: Oh my gosh.
STAFFER: (Laughter). Yes.
TRUMP: I just found. Isn't that amazing? This totally wins my case, you know.
TRUMP: Except it is like, highly confidential.
STAFFER: Yes. (Laughter).
TRUMP: See as president, I could have declassified it.
STAFFER: Yes. (Laughter).
TRUMP: Now, I can't. you know, but this is still a secret.
STAFFER: Yes. (Laughter). Now, we have a problem.
TRUMP: Isn't that interesting?
TRUMP: It's so cool. I mean, it's so -- look, her and I and you probably almost didn't believe me, but now, you believe me.
WRITER: No, I believed you.
TRUMP: It's incredible, right?
WRITER: No. They never met a war they didn't want.
TRUMP: Hey, bring some -- bring some Cokes in please.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COOPER: We don't know who brought the Cokes, but you'll remember that Walt Nauta, the man who once served as former president's White House valet and who still works for him is now a co-defendant in the documents case.
Joining us now, sharing a byline on the exclusive, CNN's Katelyn Polantz.
Katelyn, so what more do you know about who might be called to testify?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE SENIOR REPORTER: Anderson, it very well could be the person who brought the Cokes. We don't know who it was, but it could be that person. What we do know though is that there is a long list of potential witnesses in this case that we've been able to cobble together and they are people that are notable people around Donald Trump during his presidency, after his presidency, at his club.
But there are also people who are moving in and out of the club, who might not have been that noticed by the club visitors who were there or even Trump himself, but they were people who noticed things. And the things that they noticed, we heard about a woodworker, for instance, someone who was installing crown molding in Trump's bedroom and that person noticed a stack of documents that looked rather suspicious, so suspicious to him that he thought they were movie props, looked like classified records of some sort.
That person we were told doesn't actually know what he saw, but this is the sort of person who could be called to testify at this trial in Florida to provide the picture of what it was like around Mar-a-Lago where all of these images that we've seen in photographs exist of documents and boxes and there were real people there in these spaces moving about -- a maid, a plumber, a chauffeur as well, knowing that something was off and thinking about that, and then relaying that to investigators.
COOPER: Have prosecutors laid out why they think these individuals would be good witnesses?
POLANTZ: They haven't, Anderson, and we don't know whether they will for sure be called to testify in this case, they might not be. But our understanding is that they are people that spoke to investigators, some of them, multiple times; some of them testified before a grand jury in this case, and when you look at them on the whole, it appears that they are the people who provide this picture of what it was like at Mar-a-Lago after the Trump presidency, how Trump himself was functioning, how he was behaving, and where these classified documents may have gone, how they have moved, who may have touched them, and who may have been around them on a day-to-day basis.
COOPER: And what is the former president's reaction been to all this?
POLANTZ: Well, one of the things that we heard is, as Paula Reid and I were reporting out this story was that he has been quite protective of his fiefdom. So Mar-a-Lago in Florida, this club he spent so much time at, when he heard that the maid who cleans his bedroom suites was someone that investigators wanted to talk to and who could be a potential witness in this case, when he heard about that, he went ballistic, we were told.
And he has been quite unhappy whenever he's learned about the people who were being approached by investigators, but the other thing that is important to note is how his lawyers are responding to this case. And what's happening right now, Anderson, is that they are trying to get this trial pushed after the election next year. [20:05:08]
We are waiting to see what the judge does. Right now it is set for May. She has said she's going to tell us if that date will hold, if there will be other dates that we're moving and that is a really important thing, because there is a difference here between these people that live in South Florida that work around Donald Trump, that worked at the club, are they going to tell their stories publicly before the election or not?
COOPER: By the way, do we know, do they still work at the club?
POLANTZ: Some of them do, some of them have left. As we were reporting out the story, I was learning more and more about people who left and actually one person who was initially having a lawyer from the Trump legal-fold and got a new lawyer and cut a cooperation agreement with the prosecutors in this case to become a key witness. That person's name is Yuscil Taveras.
He was still working at the club in recent months, and then left just because the start of the season was coming around and he felt it was time for him to leave working at Mar-a-Lago. He put in his resignation letter, and then Trump was very unhappy that he had actually stayed on as an employee at the club after he had been sharing information that was damaging to the former president with prosecutors.
COOPER: Katelyn Polantz, thanks.
With me here, CNN senior legal analyst, former federal prosecutor, Elie Honig; also CNN's Kaitlan Collins, host of "The Source" coming up at nine o'clock.
Elie, how potentially important could these witnesses be?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: This is a dream scenario for prosecutors, and let me explain why. Ordinarily, in the federal system, when you're a prosecutor, you build your case on the back of a cooperator -- somebody who was part of the crime, who has pled guilty, who is now your witness. So what happens? The defense lawyers stand up in closing, and they say, folks, you're going to convict my client based on the word of a criminal, and then we, prosecutors stand up and say, to the jury, look, we'd love to call honest, hardworking people to come in here and tell you about a crime, but that type of person isn't on the inside of a crime.
Here, they're literally on the inside of a crime. These are honest, hardworking, regular folks, had nothing to do with the crime. They're inside the bedrooms, inside the closets. And even if they can't give the whole story, A to Z, they can give important details.
They saw a box here or there. They overheard a conversation. So, if I'm a prosecutor, this is the best case scenario.
COOPER: Is it clear what Trump world thinks all of this?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: I mean, they've kind of known that a lot of these people had been called in to speak to investigators, a lot of these people didn't know what to do.
I mean, Yuscil Taveras that Katelyn just mentioned there who was still working there. I mean, Trump's not really there a ton during the summer, he starts to about this time of year. These are just regular people working these kind of day jobs. Some of them have now been ensnared in this. One of them is named as a co-defendant; some of them, you know, Yuscil was still working there up until recently, when he offered his resignation letter.
Then we were told, you know, it wasn't because of that Trump found out, but they kind of happened around the same time as one another.
What Katelyn said about the made there --
COOPER: Do they have an HR Department there? I mean, like, can you be fired if -- I mean, if you don't want to --
COLLINS: You're getting called in to be a witness in the investigation.
COOPER: Yes. I am not sure what the --
COLLINS: I don't think they have any liaisons to help them.
COOPER: Probably not.
COLLINS: That I've found out about -- but the maid part that Trump went ballistic over, finding out that the maid was asked to speak with investigators, I had heard that as well. Part of it was because I was told it was a maid who often went into Melania Trump's suite and claimed that in anything legal dealing with Trump that involves Melania irritates him, because then he's the one getting in trouble with her.
COOPER: I mean, Elie, cross examining employees. I mean, will they be tried to be painted as anti-Trump somehow or --?
HONIG: So the smart way to do a cross examination of a witness like this is just pointing out that they have limited knowledge. Okay, maybe you saw a box in this closet, but you don't know how it got there. You don't know who took it out of there. You didn't hear conversations around it. You tried to sort of limit the impact.
What I think Trump's team is likely to do is just -- that is rage, claimed that their anti-Trump, claimed that they have an agenda. I think the former is the more effective way to go here, but I wouldn't bet on them doing that.
COLLINS: But a lot of these people like Trump, I mean, they work for him. They don't see him in the view of like a political lens. I mean, yes, he was the president, but also he is their boss, and he is the one who employs them at the club.
And so that's, I think something with Carlos, one of the other defendants who was named later on in a superseding indictment. That's an important thing to keep in mind, because these are people who are pretty loyal to him in that sense, but you know, they're not wealthy. They don't have a ton of resources, and they've been called before investigators. They can't exactly go out and just hire their own attorneys. A lot of them have Trump-provided attorney, so I think that raises another question here as well.
HONIG: This makes them even better witnesses, if they don't have an axe to grind with Trump. I also love the fact looking at this from a prosecutor's point of view, that they're not high profile, boldface, DC insiders. They're not Sidney Powell. They're not Mark Meadows. They're just regular folks.
And ultimately, who you have to appeal to in a jury trial is the jurors who are going to have the same kind of jobs as these people, have to see them as relatable. And to the lawyer point that Kaitlan raised, this is a time tested Trump tactic. He pays for his own lawyers, of course, but he pays for lawyers for everyone around him, which naturally, it's not illegal to do that, it's common but it naturally has the effect of deterring potential cooperation.
But these folks, they get subpoenas. They understand they have to tell the truth, and at least some of them have done just that.
COOPER: And what about the Secret Service agents?
HONIG: Yeah, this is a really interesting question. This actually came up in the Clinton investigation by Ken Starr in '98. Ken Starr wanted to talk to some of Bill Clinton's Secret Service agents. What did you see in here? It was litigated. It was fought in court, and the court said they can testify. There is not some special privilege or protection for Secret Service agents.
So I think prosecutors need to be careful here. You don't want to create a situation where Secret Service agents are maybe trying to distance themselves, so they don't hear something, that could be dangerous. But yes, if necessary, you can get testimony from Secret Service agents.
COOPER: But the judge may -- this may not even go to trial before the election.
COLLINS: She's hinted that she could very well push it past the election, Judge Cannon has.
HONIG: Yes, I think it's fairly likely she does that. We're already looking at a May trial date, but remember, we have a March date, two months earlier on the federal January 6th trial, and I think what this judge doesn't want to do is make Trump go to two trials, essentially consecutively.
COOPER: All right, Elie Honig, thanks. Kaitlan Collins, we'll see you at nine o'clock. Also, Kaitlan is going to be interviewing the former Trump attorney, Jim Trusty, his first CNN interview since resigning from the Trump legal team, so we'll look forward to seeing that at nine o'clock.
Perspective on this now fresh from last night's Republican presidential debate, former New Jersey governor, Chris Christie, who is also as you might know, a former US attorney.
Governor, good to see you.
So CNN has reported that a plumber, a maid, a chauffeur and a woodworker are among Mar-a-Lago staffers and contract workers who federal prosecutors may call to testify against former President Trump and his two co-defendants at the declassified documents trial. Does that indicate anything to you about the depth of the prosecution's case?
CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The breadth and the depth of the prosecution's case, Anderson, as you know, I did this for seven years as the US attorney in the fifth largest office in the country. We did over 130 political corruption cases without a defeat.
What you want to see in a witness list is a broad and deep list witness list that could cover every potential contingency, every potential exit ramp that the defendant may have to try to justify his or her conduct that you believe, based upon your evidence is criminal.
And so I think what you're seeing is just how thorough Jack Smith's investigation has been, and that there's no one who has seen or heard anything at Mar-a-Lago regarding these documents, who's going to be immune from testifying if they believe they have relevant information.
COOPER: CNN is also reporting the prosecutors may call to testify people who were in the room at the former president's New Jersey golf club when he discussed and allegedly showed the classified plan to attack Iran. How important would it be for jurors to hear from those witnesses?
CHRISTIE: Very important, because as you know, Donald Trump has said that he was, you know, showing around some news clippings, and not anything like that, even though his words were contrary to that. So I think you're going to need something to corroborate the tape, and the corroboration -- the best corroboration will be that people were actually at the table and can say exactly what they saw he was flashing around and showing them.
So I think it makes sense to do that. And if their evidence is, as the prosecution has alleged, that's going to be a real problem for Donald Trump.
COOPER: There is this much talked about "New York Times" poll that you know, about from over the weekend shows as you know, that Trump leading Biden in five out of six key swing states. The poll also indicates about six percent of voters potentially, a determinative margin would switch their support in those states from Trump to Biden if the former president was convicted, sentenced in a criminal trial. I mean, if Trump is found guilty sometime next year before the nominating convention, do you think the party would possibly change horses midstream? Is that even possible?
CHRISTIE: Sure, because the nomination process will not be over at that point, Anderson, and that's why I've been saying I'm in this for the long haul. I am in this to the convention, because circumstances are going to change and change significantly.
And not only because of the trial that starts on the day before Super Tuesday, but there's going to be testimony coming out all through that period of time that is going to be extraordinarily damning of the president.
My guess is, my first witness would be Mark Meadows, you know, not some rogue Democrat prosecutor, not some product of the two-tiered system of justice that Donald Trump talks about, but a founder of the Freedom Caucus from North Carolina who served as his final chief-of- staff has immunity. And Anderson, he's going to be sitting 20 feet from Donald Trump in the federal courthouse in Washington, DC, and telling the jury under oath that Donald Trump committed crimes right before his eyes to try to overturn the 2020 election. That is determining type of evidence.
And I believe and I've said this, the walls are closing in, he will be convicted, and you will see people change their votes and run from him in droves, not only when the conviction happens, but as that evidence begins to develop, and people hear it from folks like Mark Meadows under oath.
COOPER: He didn't show up to the debate last night, but in a new interview with Univision, the former President reiterated his willingness to use the Department of Justice to go after his political opponents if he wins the back the White House saying: "If I happen to be president and I see somebody who's doing well and beating me very badly, I say, go down and indict them." That's according to a transcript released by Univision.
It's unclear to me who he thinks he'd be running against if he wins another presidential term since he'd obviously be constitutionally barred from being elected a third time. Nevertheless, do you have any doubt that that's what a second term of a Trump administration would be? A retribution? Four years of retribution?
CHRISTIE: No, I mean, he has said I will be your retribution. And think about how different for all the folks out there who are undecided about what to do with this election. Think about how different Donald Trump is in 2023 than he was in 2016.
In 2016, in the convention, he said, "I am your voice." Now he's saying I am your retribution. This is outrageous. And think about it. You had good folks like Bill Barr, who were keeping him on the rails and stopping him from doing stuff like this with the Justice Department. Nobody is good and decent and honest, as Bill Barr is going to agree to be Donald Trump's attorney general, if he ever became president, again, that's another thing voters have to think about.
The fact is that 40 of his 44 Cabinet level officials have said not only won't they work for him again, they wouldn't support him to be president at all again. I mean, this is incredibly damning for people who worked with him every day as president, Anderson.
CHRISTIE: And so you know, at the end of the day, you will see him try to do things like that and it is only going to be the country that can stop him. When we have to stop him is right now. We can't let him get the nomination or get in front of these folks. And you mentioned him not being on the debate stage last night, it is the third time in a row. It's disgraceful.
And I think he doesn't want to be there, Anderson, because he knows I'm going to be there because I've been holding him to account from the minute I got into this race. And you know, anybody out there who wants me to be on that stage, go to ChrisChristie.com. Donate a dollar, keep me on that debate stage, because I'll be there when Donald Trump shows up and you know, I'll hold him to account.
COOPER: We're going to take a quick break. I'm going to talk to you more about last night's Republican debate in Miami, minus the former president, as we just mentioned.
And also later, a new video just in of American airstrikes on Iranian targets in Syria. Plus, an up close report of the fighting in northern Gaza from our Oren Liebermann who was embedded with Israeli troops.
COOPER: Back now with Republican presidential candidate, Chris Christie, and I want to focus now on the debate and the campaign trail head with the Iowa caucuses in New Hampshire primary getting closer.
So Governor, you've called the former president a coward for skipping yet another debate last night. Clearly, the strategy is not hurting him with Republican voters. Isn't it smart for him not to show up?
CHRISTIE: I don't care if it's smart or not, it's wrong. It's wrong, Anderson.
He is asking for the Republican nomination for president, yet, he won't discuss his record. And I understand why he doesn't want to, if I were out on bail in four different jurisdictions, I wouldn't have to explain it.
If I promised to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it and now call the people who believed that dumb for believing it, I wouldn't know how to explain that. I wouldn't want to explain $7.8 trillion in debt when I said I was going to balance the budget. I understand you don't want to.
But you have an obligation to the voters to be able to do it and I know the polls show right now that it is not hurting him, but I believe it will, as people start to get closer to this, they are going to make their decision to vote.
I bet you in January, he'll be at one of these debates in either Iowa or New Hampshire, because the polls will force him to.
COOPER: You're heading to Israel tomorrow. On the debate stage last night, you said the fact is that Israel and their intelligence community failed to protect Israeli citizens from the October 7 attacks, you were referring.
What do you want to see the Israeli government do about that failure? Because Benjamin Netanyahu has not accepted any level of blame at this point. Chiefs of Intelligence Services of the military over there have he has not. Obviously, there's going to be some sort of a reckoning once the fighting has stopped, but what do you think that he should do? Or they should do?
CHRISTIE: Well look, his first obligation, Anderson, is to win the war and that is his first obligation, it is to protect the territorial integrity of Israel, to make sure he protects the safety and security of his citizens and to degrade Hamas so they can never do this again. Those are his obligations.
We're going to have plenty of time for an After Action Report afterwards to figure out how high up in the chain the responsibility goes, whether it includes the prime minister or not. But in the end, we know that it was a failure, because there is no way that Hamas should have been able to do that on October 7th if the intelligence community was on top of their game. So we know mistakes were made, but the reckoning will come later on.
First and foremost is to protect the territorial integrity of Israel, protect the safety and security of its citizens and degrade Hamas and what I also hope the government does is keep your eye on the ball while they're doing this.
Continued isolation of Iran is the greatest security move that Israel can make, and that means continuing to make smart, fair agreements with other Arab countries in the Middle East so that Iran and its desire to wipe Israel off the map gets more and more isolated in the Middle East.
COOPER: Do you think Israel should push toward some sort of a two- state solution? I mean, they've been like playing with the tax revenues going to the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, which seems an odd thing to both be going after Hamas and weaken the Palestinian Authority so that they can't pay their bills and can't pay their security people.
CHRISTIE: Look, conversations of a two-state solution, Anderson, had to have stopped definitively when a terrorist group in the Gaza Strip winds up attacking them and killing 1,400 of your citizens and so there was a ceasefire that everybody is talking about now before October 7th.
COOPER: Hamas violated it.
CHRISTIE: It was Hamas that violated it, right? So look, I think there can't be any discussion right now about a two-state solution until you dispose with Hamas' ability to be able to bring that kind of terrorist attack again, then we can have more conversations about an ultimate solution.
But right now Hamas has ended those conversations by taking the terrorist action that they took on October 7th.
COOPER: You've been critical of Republican candidates aligning themselves too closely obviously with the former president. Donald Trump had nothing to do with Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin's strategy to have Republicans run on a 15-week abortion ban. Do you think that issue could cause the GOP the White House or control of the House next year?
CHRISTIE: It depends on who the candidate is for president of the United States, Anderson, but I've made it very clear that my view is Dobbs was decided correctly, and each state should be able to make its own judgment and the people of that state should be able to participate in that judgment. You saw it happened in Ohio on Tuesday night.
The fact is that folks should be able to make their own judgment on this issue. That's the way the founders set up every issue that was not covered by the Constitution reverts to the states.
And I don't think that the federal government should be involved in the middle of this in any way, and as far as the losses in Virginia, I absolutely believe that Donald Trump played a role in that as well. The fact is that he is the frontrunner in this party. He is seen as one of the faces of this party, if not the face of the party, until we replace him.
And you saw what happened to Kentucky, Anderson. Daniel Cameron sold his soul, completely embraced Donald Trump, and in that one of the reddest states in this country, he lost to Governor Beshear. This is unacceptable stuff.
And I saw in my own home state of New Jersey, where the state -- the Republicans in my state lost five seats in the state legislature in the lower House and one in the Senate, and a lot of the campaign was geared towards going after Donald Trump.
He is political poison. He is electoral poison for anybody down the ticket. Ask Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania, ask Herschel Walker in Georgia. You know as Kari Lake in Arizona -- these are all people -- Blake Masters in Arizona -- they are all people who went the Trump way and are now not in office.
We need to move away from him. He is the problem. He is the poison. COOPER: Chris Christie, thank you for your time.
CHRISTIE: Anderson, always great to be on. Love to come and talk to you after I get back from Israel.
COOPER: Yes, I would like that. Thank you.
Up next, more on Israel's war with Hamas. Our Oren Liebermann was embedded with the IDF and got a firsthand look at what Gaza has become with Israeli troops on the ground.
That, plus new efforts to get civilians out of harm's way, just ahead.
COOPER: A short time ago, the Pentagon released new video showing U.S. airstrikes against an Iranian facility in Syria that took place on Wednesday. A senior military official says, the facility was likely housing weapons used against U.S. forces in the region.
In Israel and Gaza, this is new video that just came to us, explosions over Northern Gaza more than a month after Hamas slaughtered more than 1,400 people, mostly civilians, and after a military response has claimed 35 Israeli soldiers, according to the IDF, and more than 10,000 Palestinians according to the Hamas-controlled health ministry. The White House said today that Israel has agreed to formalize brief four-hour pauses in fighting daily in areas of Northern Gaza. These windows are to allow for aid to enter and civilians to leave.
In a moment, we'll be taken inside Gaza by our Oren Liebermann. We should first note that journalists embedded with the IDF in Gaza operate under the observation of Israeli commanders in the field. They're not permitted to move unaccompanied within the Gaza Strip as a condition to enter Gaza under IDF escort. Outlets have to submit all materials and footage to the Israeli military for review prior to publication. CNN has agreed to these terms in order to provide a limited window into Israel's operations in Gaza. Here is Oren's report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Through the breach, we enter Northern Gaza at the Erez Border Crossing. The land here, once fertile farmland, is barren, and the trees that might have provided enemy cover, destroyed.
In the distance, smoke from an Israeli airstrike is a stark reminder that this is day 34 of a war that may stretch much longer. On Thursday, the IDF chief of staff and the head of the country's internal security service entered Gaza and promised strength through cooperation.
Everyone is doing everything, said General Herzi Halevi, just so you can be as strong as possible. Along our path in Northern Gaza, the signs of civilian life have given way to the constant hum of drones and the distant echoes of artillery. Our time with the IDF began at the coordination base for the border crossing, the first international media to visit the site. The terror attack on October 7th hit hard here. The scars of machine gun fire and RPGs still visible. The base was mostly empty on a holiday but not entirely. An IDF says, nine soldiers were killed here and three kidnapped. It took 12 hours for Israel to regain control of the base, now it's one of the main gates to Gaza.
We stop at an overlook near the town of Jabalya.
LIEBERMANN: One of the things uncovered here on this hill near Jabalya is a meeting point of three different tunnels, and you can see if you take a look, that's one, two, three. They came together here, and it let Hamas move underground quickly below the feet and out of sight.
LIEBERMANN (voiceover): Colonel Tal, the tank commander says, there were many explosives here, there were many trenches. There were a lot of weapons and ammunition. We found here a storage site with many explosives against tanks, RPGs.
Even from a distance, the scale of the destruction is stunning. Apartment buildings, homes, neighborhoods decimated.
Colonel Tal says, the area is almost completely evacuated. We don't see civilians in our eyes. We see sometimes terrorists, but the majority of civilians haven't been here in a while. They've all gone south in the direction of the heart of the Strip.
As we talk, we hear rocket fire and see the trails of the launches, triggering red alerts in Ashdod. After about 90 minutes inside Northern Gaza, we make our way out. Hugging the border wall for safety. Even here, so close to the exit, we stop briefly so the dust clears and we can make sure the way ahead is safe. In the distance once again, the smoke from another strike.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIEBERMANN (on camera): Israel has said that it has effectively encircled Gaza City as Israeli troops make their way towards the center of Gaza City. The IDF spokesperson said earlier today they are deepening their operation around Gaza. Anderson, a lot of that focus now trying to get at Hamas's tunnel infrastructure underneath the city as they close in on what they see as the government and functioning military center for Hamas in Gaza city.
COOPER: Oren Liebermann, thanks so much.
Perspective now from Barak Ravid, political and foreign policy reporter at Axios. Barak, what's your impression of what Oren saw, both the military base that was attacked on October 7th and three tunnels converging there, and the meeting for weapons storage area near Jabalya?
BARAK RAVID, POLITICAL AND FOREIGN POLICY REPORTER, AXIOS: Hi, Anderson. You know, the irony is that this base, and I heard it from people who served there for years. This base is not only the entry point and the exit point from Gaza, but it is also the headquarters of the government coordination office which is the unit that is in charge of helping Palestinians to get out of Gaza for, you know, medical appointments, and you know, it runs all the workers from Gaza that enter Israel. And this was one of the targets that Hamas attacked during -- on October 7th.
COOPER: It's now pretty clear, based on all the intelligence that Hamas had about the inner workings of the kibbutz seen all along the board that some of the, at least, some of the workers from Gaza who were working in those kibbutzim, whether it was over years or months or whatever, they were gathering information.
RAVID: Yes, that's definitely one of the things that are being investigated, and I guess will be part of this huge investigation that we will see after the war. Although I have to tell you something, it -- this issue came up in one of the meetings of the Israeli security cabinet. And Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, the ultranationalist, said that Israel should not allow 4,000 workers from Gaza who got stuck in Israel after the war started, they shouldn't let them go back because maybe they were spies.
And the head of the Shin Bet Security Services told him, listen, we vetted all of those people to the bone, and we don't think that they were involved in any way in the attack. So, I think it is still unclear how much those people were really involved in gathering intelligence on the villages around the border.
COOPER: That's interesting because the people on the kibbutzim certainly believe that -- I mean, they knew where the weapons storage were.
RAVID: Yes, exactly.
COOPER: They knew who was on the security details, how big each security detail was in Kafar Aza and other places. The humanitarian pauses, or these pauses that Israel now has, what are you hearing about the behind-the-scenes of how those were agreed to? That's clearly something Antony Blinken went to Israel with.
RAVID: Yes. It's, you know, this wouldn't have happened without, let's say, significant pressure from the Biden administration. I think the discussion, the serious discussion about it started when Blinken was in the region last week. And the Israelis were concerned that when they heard the word pause from Blinken, they thought that what he really means is a ceasefire.
And it took several days of talks between the Israelis and the Biden administration for the Biden administration to tell them listen, we're not talking about a ceasefire. We're not trying to stop you. When we say pause, we mean pause. We mean several hours. We mean for humanitarian aid. We mean for safe passage. We don't want a ceasefire. And only after the Israelis got convinced, they started a serious effort to draft a plan to do it, and they actually started doing it today. It was the first day. They did it in two neighborhoods in Northern Gaza. They announced the pause of four hours that allowed people to get out of their houses, buy food, get water, get medicine, which is something that did not happen for a month.
I'll tell you another interesting thing. If you ask the Israeli government about it, Prime Minister Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Gallant, they will tell you that nothing happened. There is nothing new. Because they don't want to brag about those humanitarian pauses because it is a very political sensitive issue inside Israel, because Israeli public opinion is very much against them.
COOPER: In terms of what happens if -- in success, I mean, if -- as the IDF defines it, as the Israeli government defines it, if Hamas is defeated, are there active discussions about what a post-Hamas-Gaza looks like? I know Netanyahu, you know, said that there would be overall security, you know, Israel would need to be in control of security for some time. But -- I mean, who is going to be the mayor of Gaza? Who is going to be running Gaza?
RAVID: Well, that's a very good question. And several ministers, or even the majority of ministers in the country -- Israeli government, when you ask them that question, they will tell you, oh, we have no intention of bringing back the Palestinian authority.
And then you ask them, OK. So, if not the Palestinian authority, do you have any other ideas? So, I think the Israelis are still toying in all those fantasies of, you know, bringing the Egyptians, bringing the Saudis, bringing the Emiratis, all of those countries have no intention of setting foot in Gaza or paying one dime in Gaza if it's not under the Palestinian authority. And I think that when we'll get closer to the day after, this is going to be a serious point of contention.
COOPER: Just quickly, you and I talked a while ago about they were -- the Israelis were holding up the tax revenues for the Palestinian authority in the West Bank. What -- are they still doing that?
RAVID: They're still doing that. And the Palestinian authority told them, if you're not giving us all of our money, we don't even -- we're not even going to take half of it, which is what the Israelis were willing to give them. And I'll tell you something I heard from several U.S. officials, that they say we made the mistake. Because when the Israelis even started talking about this thing, we should have told them this is a red line. You are not going to do it. And the U.S. did not put its foot in the sand, did not say it was red line, and the Israelis did it.
COOPER: Barak Ravid, thank you. Appreciate.
Just ahead, in addition to our top story, we have the former president. Legal troubles are also legal issue mounting for those who supported his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Arizona's attorney general spoke to CNN about her investigation into the alleged fake elector scheme. Less willing to talk to CNN, the fake electors themselves. Our Kyung Lah has an exclusive investigation next.
Also tonight, Los Angeles police investigating a fight between pro- Israeli and pro-Palestinian supporters outside the Museum of Tolerance after the screening of a film that showed footage that was taken by Hamas gunmen on October 7th during the attack.
COOPER: We noted in our top story tonight that some of the possible witnesses against the former president in his classified documents trial are the people whose names you may not know, but who were certainly in his orbit. That is also the case in another investigation, this time in Arizona involving the alleged fake elector scheme to overturn the 2020 election. The state's Democratic attorney general just spoke to CNN about the investigation, about which little is known, only that it follows in the path of similar prosecutions in Michigan and Georgia.
Our Kyung Lah also tried to speak to some of the people who claimed to actually be electors for Arizona back in 2020. I want to show you how that went. Here is Kyung Lah's report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): At a rally for the 2024 U.S. Senate race.
CROWD: Kari, Kari, Kari.
LAH (voiceover): Arizona Candidate Kari Lake.
REPUBLICAN KARI LAKE: I'm not going to let a guy who is trying to imprison his political opponent call me or you a threat to democracy.
LAH (voiceover): One of the country's top spreader of lies about the 2020 election results --
Lake: God bless State 48.
LAH (voiceover): We find in her crowd, Arizona State Senator Anthony Kern.
LAH: Hello, Mr. Kern.
STATE SEN. ANTHONY KERN (R-AZ): Hi, good to see you.
LAH: Kyung Lah from CNN.
LAH (voiceover): You may not recognize Kern at first glance, but this is him here at the signing. A video tweeted by the Arizona Republican Party on December 14th, 2020 when 11 fake electors gathered weeks after the 2020 election to sign this document claiming to be duly elected and qualified to cast 11 Arizona's electoral votes for --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald J. Trump of the State of Florida. Number of votes above 11.
LAH (voiceover): But Trump lost Arizona in 2020.
KRIS MAYES, ARIZONA ATTORNEY GENERAL: We're taking it very seriously.
LAH (voiceover): Arizona Attorney General Kris Mayes wants to know more about these fake electors.
MAYES: We're in the middle of our investigation. We have multiple investigators and attorneys assigned to it, and we're going to do a professional job.
LAH: It sounds fairly robust.
MAYES: It's robust. It's a serious matter.
LAH (voiceover): Back to Anthony Kern, who signed the fake elector document.
LAH: Can you tell me a little bit about --
KERN: I could --
LAH: -- you signing that?
KERN: Yes, we can probably talk.
LAH: How about now?
KERN: Maybe not.
LAH (voiceover): At every major turn of Arizona's 2020 election lie, you can spot him. The guy back there? That's Kern. This is a so-called election integrity hearing held by State Republicans on November 30, 2020. Fashioned to look like an official hearing, it's not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hell, yes. Get on the ground.
LAH (voiceover): Weeks later, on January 6th, Kern travelled to the U.S. capitol. In D.C. supporting Trump, he tweeted, where he was pictured in a restricted area of the Capitol steps during the riot. There is no indication he was violent or entered the Capitol, and he has not been charged in connection with January 6th.
Later in 2021, as Arizona's most populous county, Maricopa, hand- counted all of its 2020 ballots in a partisan-led failed attempt to overturn the state election results, Anthony Kern was there again, counting ballots. We wanted to ask State Senator Kern about how all this began.
LAH: Can we talk about whether you knew that that was a lie? That document?
KERN: Why do you think it's a lie?
LAH: So, do you believe that Trump still won in 2020 then?
KERN: Why would you think alternate electors are a lie?
LAH (voiceover): Arizona was among seven key swing states that saw fake electors sign documents to subvert the electoral college process. Prosecutors have filed charges against some of their fake electors in two states, Michigan and Georgia. Prosecutors, Arizona's A.G. says she is speaking with.
MAYES: I have been in communication with both of those offices, and I'm not going to say any more than that.
LAH: With the Department of Justice, are you in communication with the Department of Justice?
MAYES: Same answer. I've been -- we have communicated with those offices, and I'm not going to say any more than that.
LAH: Have you spoken to the Department of Justice or the state attorney general about the investigation?
KERN: The only one I've spoken to is CNN.
LAH (voiceover): We contacted all of Arizona's 11 alternate electors. Lorraine Pellegrino, secretary of the fake electors.
LORRAINE PELLEGRINO, FAKE ELECTOR: Hello.
LAH: Hi. Are you Lorraine?
LAH: Hi, Lorraine. My name is Kyung Lah. That's why I'm holding a microphone. I'm a reporter from CNN.
PELLEGRINO: OK. Thank you.
LAH: I was hoping we could talk --
LAH (voiceover): She did not want to talk.
LAH: You don't want to answer anything about the alternate electors? Ma'am?
LAH (voiceover): Tyler Bowyer, the COO of right-wing group Turning Point USA ignored our calls and texts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tyler.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bowyer?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is not here today.
LAH: He is not in the office.
LAH (voiceover): But his spokesman immediately called us after we went to the office to say he has not spoken to the DOJ or Arizona's A.G.s office.
LAH: I'm trying to reach Senator Hoffman, is he available?
LAH (voiceover): The rest of the 11 did not return our calls.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello. You've reached (INAUDIBLE), leave your voicemail.
LAH (voiceover): We did reach Samuel Moorhead, Gila County, Arizona Republican Party leader.
LAH: How are you doing today, sir?
SAMUEL MOORHEAD, GILA COUNTY, ARIZONA REPUBLICAN PARTY LEADER: Oh, I'm fine. But I also know that I am in a position where it's not very prudent to talk to any member of the media for anything. Goodbye.
LAH: Oh, OK.
LAH (voiceover): Arizona Attorney General Mayes, a Democrat, says while she can't share too many details of her investigation, she said, it is far reaching.
LAH: Does your investigation potentially reach to Donald Trump?
MAYES: So, I'm not going to comment on that because that's, sort of, a part of the investigation. I'm not going to provide any, sort of, midstream updates on that. We will see where the facts lead us.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: And Kyung Lah joins us now. How closely are Arizona officials following the electoral case in Georgia?
LAH (on camera): Well, AZ A.G. Kris Mayes, she didn't get too specific in our interview. But let's remind everybody about the recent and stunning turns in the Georgia case. You have Ken Chesebro, who was the architect of the fake elector's plot. He already pleaded guilty to federal conspiracy connected to the plot. And then you have Former Trump Attorney Jenna Ellis who also pleaded guilty. And she pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting false statements about the election to Georgia's Senate, that is a felony.
Now, whether or not that has a nexus or a connection to Arizona at this point, we simply don't know because they are in the middle of their investigation in Arizona. We just have to see what the attorney general decides.
COOPER: Kyung Lah, thank you. Appreciate it.
Next, intolerance on display at the Museum of Tolerance. We'll tell you about the latest eruption of violence in this country over the October 7th massacre and the war in Gaza.
COOPER: Police in Los Angeles are investigating violence last night outside, of all places, the city's Museum of Tolerance. More now from CNN's Stephanie Elam.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Clashes at L.A.'s Museum of Tolerance over a documentary screened inside. The end to a night of intense emotion.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I couldn't watch all of it. It's difficult.
ELAM (voiceover): The film, called "Bearing Witness" features more than 40 minutes of actual footage of the October 7th Hamas attacks. Actor Gal Gadot, who is from Israel and has been outspoken on social media since the attacks, was involved in bringing the film to L.A., according to multiple reports, but she was not in attendance. And most of the roughly 200 attendees had left the event by the time this brawl broke out between pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrators.
Before the film even started, a small pro-Palestinian demonstration formed outside the theater. As LAPD officers screened vehicles encircled circled the museum. Some of the attendees say they felt compelled to see the atrocities with their own eyes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We need to fight against terrorism. And in order to see it, in order to fight it, you have to see it and believe it and feel it.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We say l'dor v'dor, from generation to generation. And people should know. And I can't know exactly what it was unless I watch it.
ELAM (voiceover): The Hollywood reporter, which was inside the screening, reports that the protests were audible through the wall of the theater, prompting an Israel defense forces spokesperson, who introduced the film, to tell the audience they believe some are trying to cast doubt on the Hamas attacks. Saying, quote, I believe we are hearing some of it right now outside. The LAPD said the event concluded with no issues. But that one hour later, a small group of demonstrators returned, leading to the brawl.
Violence outside, that attendees say, won't overshadow the atrocities they saw inside on screen.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I will carry it will me to pass that story on to the next generation and the next generation.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ELAM (on camera): And LAPD did say that they took two reports for battery. They continue to investigate this. But at this point, they don't have any suspects in custody. The Los Angeles Mayor, Karen Bass, coming out calling the violence unacceptable and calling on people here to really just calm down and stand together as Angelenos in the face of what we're seeing worldwide, Anderson.
COOPER: Stephanie Elam, thanks. We'll be right back.