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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees
Inside Gaza; Their Turn; Keeping Them Honest; Israel: Hostages May Have Been Held In Basement Of Gaza Hospital; CNN Inside Gaza With Israeli Forces; Suspected Hamas Tunnel Found Near Hospital; Investigation Into NYC Mayor Adams Focused On Campaign Money, Possible Foreign Influence; Supreme Court Announces New Code Of Conduct; Critics Say It Has No Means Of Enforcement. Aired 8-9p ET
Aired November 13, 2023 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Tonight, Mount Etna in Italy erupting in a massive flaming lava, the lava launching miles into the sky. Several towns on the island of Sicily covered in ash. It comes as the entire country of Iceland is on edge from a massive eruption that could come, officials say, at any moment.
The famous blue lagoon is closed after a powerful earthquake rocked the geothermal spa just days ago, which could be just a small sign, officials say, of what is to come.
Thanks for joining us. "AC 360" starts now.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Tonight on "360," our closest look yet from inside Gaza, with Israeli troops uncovering Hamas' underground infrastructure. And a US official saying that one Hamas command post is under Gaza's main hospital.
Also tonight, day one of the former president's defense in New York's civil fraud case, with Donald Trump Jr. taking the stand, calling his dad a, quote, "artist with real estate."
We begin though, keeping them honest, what the former president is now saying about his opponents and how his allies are reportedly planning to target them.
Good evening. Thanks for joining us. By now, it is no secret that the former president lies nearly all the time. What's also becoming clearer, though, is that when he talks about what he would like to do to people he perceives as his enemies, he's often not lying. There's new reporting to that effect tonight and coupled with several other recent reports that suggests that he meant what he said over the weekend when he said this.
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We pledge to you that we will root out the Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and the Radical Left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie, and steal, and cheat on elections. (END VIDEOTAPE)
COOPER: Vermin, the former president, on Veterans Day, no less. He went on to say, quote, "The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within. Our threat is from within."
After that, he praised foreign dictators, calling the leaders of Russia, China, and North Korea, quote, "capable, confident, smart, and tough." The "Washington Post" story on his speech ran under the headline, "Trump calls political enemies 'vermin,' echoing dictators Hitler, Mussolini."
CNN Presidential Historian Tim Naftali telling "The Post," The language is the language that dictators use to instill fear. That's what dictators do."
Other historians and scholars of fascism echo that assessment to which the former president's campaign spokesman responded in words that also kind of sounded often a lot like things dictators might say. Quoting now, "Those who try to make the ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump derangement Syndrome and their said and miserable existence will be crushed when President Trump to the White House."
So crushed, vermin, enemies within. It's probably the starkest, clearest version of other sentiments he's expressed in the past year.
TRUMP: In 2016 I declared, I am your voice. Today, I add, I am your warrior, I am your justice. And for those who have been wronged and betrayed, I am your retribution.
COOPER: He's a warrior. He's never served, but he's a warrior.
The former president, back in march, it is tempting to write off what he just said as some kind of shtick like lock her up, or build a wall, or citing lines from that poem, "The Snake." The concern, however, is that his motivation for retribution is now connected to a dehumanized target, people he calls vermin, and is coupled with the means for making it happen. He's the leading Republican candidate for president.
There's new reporting on that in Axios under the headline "Trump allies pre-screen loyalists for unprecedented power grab." Quoting from it now, "If Trump were to win, thousands of Trump-first loyalists would be ready for legal, judicial, defense, regulatory, and domestic policy jobs. His inner circle plans to purge anyone viewed as hostile to the hard-edged, authoritarian-sounding plans he calls 'Agenda 47.'"
Separately, "The "Washington Post"," citing people who have spoken to him, reports the former president and his allies have begun mapping out specific plans for punishing critics and opponents with him, quote, "naming individuals he wants to investigate or prosecute," something he talks about out loud and doesn't even bother denying.
TRUMP: They call it weaponization. And the people aren't going to stand for it. But, yes, they have done something that allows the next party. I mean, if somebody -- 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."
COOPER: That sounds reasonable. Back during the Nixon administration, then-Attorney General John Mitchell, who later went to prison for his role in the Watergate affair told reporters to watch what we do, not what we say. That was his way of kind of reassuring the public that some of Candidate Nixon's harsher campaign trail rhetoric would not become administration policy.
The question, tonight, how comforting would those same words be now? Joining us now is Axios CEO and Cofounder Jim VandeHei.
So, Jim, walk us through your reporting. Tell us more about what the former president's allies are actually planning.
JIM VANDEHEI, AXIO'S CEO AND CO-FOUNDER: Yes. If you go back last time when he won, there was a lot of the same language, a lot of this bombast, a lot of the tough guy routine. But when he got into office, he was surrounded by people who would put restraints on him. And he didn't really understand how many levels of the bureaucracy could gum up, kind of, some of his instincts and often his worst instincts. They learned from that.
And what we have found is when you talk to people at The Heritage Foundation, when you talk to people around Donald Trump who used to work for Donald Trump, who understand the machinery of government, they've now put together a very well-oiled machine one year in advance of potentially winning the election that's allowing them to vet and screen people for their loyalty to Trump and their belief in stretching the rule of law in ways that Donald Trump would like them to stretch it if he were in office.
And the reason that I think this story is very important is it's one thing when he uses this language and then doesn't put it into action. But when you listen to him and he tells you what he's going to do, punish political enemies, round up illegal immigrants, potentially get rid of a million or so people who live in the United States, try to maybe even go after flag officers in general so he doesn't consider to pass the loyalty litmus test.
If you know how government works and you can figure out how to purge 10,000, 20,000, 30,000 people from all those positions that make activities like that possible, that turn those policies or those ideas into action, you could have a much different administration. And really, you would see restraints lifted that we've had on the previous 46 presidents.
Now, anybody who's a Trump supporter who's listening to this, they're like, hell, yes, we love that. That's what we want. We want the administrative state purged and we want a new order. We want sort of the tough guy, sort of the strong man routine because they feel like crime is high and immigration is surging.
But I think if you're not a Donald Trump supporter, you're concerned, because we -- this would be uncharted territory. We're talking about doing things that he's saying. We're not saying this is anonymous sources, he's saying, as these are the things he's saying he's going to do, and they're going to have the machinery to do it. And I think that's just shows the stakes of the election. And I wouldn't fall for this stuff where people think, ah, he's just surrounded by clowns.
VANDEHEI: There's some clowns around him, no doubt about it. But there's going to be some really serious people who are involved in this process who understand government, who are going to have a government in waiting ready to roll.
COOPER: The Trump campaign has put out a statement saying, in part, quote, "policy recommendations from external allies are just that recommendations." Who are the groups who are pushing this overhaul? And how close are they to the former president?
VANDEHEI: That's very ...
COOPER: Is this The Heritage Foundation?
VANDEHEI: The Heritage Foundation is definitely doing a lot of the work, a lot of the vetting. They're -- they've sent out questionnaires. They've already talked to 4,000 different potential applicants asking them their favorite political figure, their favorite political book, what is their ideology.
But then you look at the people who are advising both The Heritage Foundation and some of these other outside groups that are involved, and they're all the Trump people, right? Johnny McEntee, who is head of Presidential Personnel, who's really one of the architects of trying to figure out the purge in the latter days of the first term of the Trump presidency, is an adviser to these efforts.
Stephen Miller talks with these people all the time. So sure, like, yes, The Heritage Foundation, what they'd say is this will be available to anyone, but everyone knows Donald Trump is likely to win the nomination. And they know that they can't make the mistake they made before, which is just roll into town and not have a team ready to rock and roll. They're going to have it this time. And I think we're -- we push almost instantly into unchartered territory.
Yes, I do think the second term, if he were to win, would be much more like the final days of the Trump presidency than the first two years, really trying to push the boundaries, really trying to see if you can stretch the rule of law to do things, whether it's punishing political enemies or getting rid of people who you don't feel share your political beliefs, punishing media entities that ...
COOPER: How would that ...
VANDEHEI: ... report things you don't like.
COOPER: ... how would that work, I mean, at the, like, Department of Justice?
COOPER: You have, you know, career law enforcement people. I mean, how would something like that work for the DOJ?
VANDEHEI: Right. In any of the agencies, so basically, not to get too into the weeds, but there's -- one of the ideas at the head -- at the end of the presidency was this idea of recategorizing people in the government as Schedule F, which would allow them basically to get around union laws, get around things that make it harder to fire people who are kind of permanent civil servants that are in government. And that's what much of government is.
You hear about cabinet secretaries. You know the president. You know the vice president. A lot of the work at -- whether it's at DOJ or whether it's at the Department of Homeland Security is done below that.
VANDEHEI: It's done by people who often will serve both parties. Well, if you can suddenly, just in mass, get rid of them, which they would try to do, maybe the courts step in and say you can't do it, maybe they say you can. There's a big debate about whether or not he could do what he wanted to do under Schedule F. A lot of people think he could.
But even if he didn't, as long as you have the people waiting, you can reassign anybody ...
VANDEHEI: ... that you want to reassign. You can put people in the gigs that you know have power that support your agenda. And I think that's what would be radically different this time from last time because for ...
VANDEHEI: ... everyone who didn't like Donald Trump or if you liked Donald Trump and you wanted more of it, the truth is, he wasn't very good at governing, particularly in the early years because he didn't have people who shared his philosophy around him, and he didn't understand how to pull the different levers of government.
And Trump himself has no interest in this. His brain doesn't work that way. He's not sitting here thinking about who am I going to put where and how is the second term going to work.
VANDEHEI: He's very thematic, and he loves the rhetorical part of the job. But beneath him, there's going to be a much bigger, well-oiled sort of prescreened, pretrained group of people ready to come in.
COOPER: Jim Vandehei, it's fascinating. Thanks so much.
VANDEHEI: Thank you.
COOPER: Still to come tonight, the eldest son of the former president took the witness stand today as the defense begins in its case, and that's civil fraud trial in New York. He called his father a visionary in the world of real estate. The judge has already said his dad persistently committed fraud. We'll have more details on that ahead.
And what it's like on the ground in Gaza, what CNN's Nic Robertson saw there today.
COOPER: The former president's eldest son took the stand for the defense today in the civil fraud trial against himself and his brother and father and called his dad a "visionary and an artist with real estate." The trial is now in its seventh week with allegations that the Trump's inflated asset prices to secure better financing and insurance terms. The judge already has ruled that the former president and his codefendants, including Trump Jr., committed, quote, "persistent and repeated fraud."
Kara Scannell joins us now with more of today's testimony. So what stood out to you in his testimony today?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So Donald Trump Jr. was on the stand for about three hours today and much of his testimony was like a promotional video for the Trump organization. He described how he said his father was a visionary. He saw things that people couldn't see, and he was an artist.
So they went through more than a dozen of the properties and showing glossy photos of them on the screen in the courtroom. And Donald Trump Jr. would describe how he said his dad would take a dilapidated building and turn it into a spectacular residence, how he would take a swampland in Florida and turn it into a spectacular golf course, and how he took the old post office building in Washington, DC, which Trump Jr. described as a warzone and transformed that into one of the finest hotels in the world. So a lot of bravado, a lot of pitchiness, and the use of "spectacular," by my count, at least 15 times.
Now, he did say that he took -- one thing he took umbrage was with the value of Mar-a-Lago, which the tax assessment is about $18 million. This is something that Donald Trump, his father, has been voicing a lot of criticism about any time he's walking in and around the courtroom.
And so Don Jr. was saying that the atrium in Mar-a-Lago alone would cost $18 million today to build. So trying to make the point that these values, the Trump touch, was something that would have justified some of the valuations that they put on this, but they didn't get into the specifics company by company of the valuations. This was really more of an exercise of allowing him to describe the Trump brand. He described it as a family business and to put the gloss on it with the transformations that they made.
But the judge had given them some leeway in this. The attorney general's office objected to this presentation. And the judge told the attorney general, you've had six weeks to put on your case. He's giving time to put on theirs -- Anderson?
COOPER: Who else is the defense expected to call?
SCANNELL: So over the next few days, we're expected to hear from some expert witnesses who will testify about real estate. They also said they will recall some of these Trump organization executives in the Finance Department, also today saying that Eric Trump will be back on the stand. And it's very likely the former president will also make a return to the witness stand -- Anderson.
COOPER: Yes, all right. Kara Scannell, thanks so much.
Former Federal Prosecutor Jessica Roth is here. She's now a professor at Cardozo School of Law. Do you think his testimony helped?
JESSICA ROTH, CARDOZO SCHOOL OF LAW PROFESSOR: I think it was largely irrelevant. I think the judge let him talk because he's giving the defense the opportunity to make their case, and he's clearly very sensitive to being viewed by an appellate court as being arguably biased in favor of the government. But nothing that Don Jr. said today goes to the heart of the case in terms of the specifics about whether those statements of financial condition were fraudulent or not.
And the judge has already ruled in that partial summary judgment motion that objectively those valuations in the statements were fraudulent. So there was nothing specific about Don Trump Jr. It was long on superlatives and sort of sweeping statements, nothing very specific.
Arguably, it may have hurt him because, as I understand it, he may have repeated some specifics that were actually wrong like the number of floors on one of the properties. So, it may actually have been counterproductive.
COOPER: And both Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump have distanced themselves from these financial statements to the extent -- or they've tried to at least. Eric Trump is going to take the stand as well. What do you expect from -- I mean, do you expect the same sort of thing from his testimony?
ROTH: It's hard to know what to expect. It may be the same kind of sort of grandiose statements, but the value of the company, the value of the assets from their perspective.
If there's any legal relevance to these kinds of sort of statements and superlatives and their belief in the -- or their implicit belief in the value of it, maybe it goes to the question of intent because the judge still does have to make a finding about whether these individuals acted with intent to defraud others. And so perhaps by putting on this presentation, they're demonstrating their good faith belief and sort of how wonderful the assets were, that could be a reason to -- for them to rely on this testimony and the presentation, this sort of glossy presentation.
COOPER: Didn't the -- when the former president testified earlier, he alluded to bankers testifying in his defense. Are there going to be bankers or have they called bankers?
ROTH: So, not yet. I mean, the defense just started ...
ROTH: ... this presentation today. I'm really looking to see if they do call those bankers. What the former president essentially promised is that those people would take the stand, the witnesses from the banks, and say, we didn't rely on the statements of financial condition.
COOPER: Right, the financial statements didn't really matter ...
COOPER: ... in our evaluations. We did our own.
ROTH: Which would go to the materiality question, which is one of the additional elements that the judge has to rule on for the remaining causes of action. So, I am really keenly interested to see whether, in fact, the defense will be able to put forward witnesses who would make those statements on behalf of the banks.
COOPER: It's fascinating. Jessica, thanks so much. Appreciate it, Ms. Roth.
ROTH: My pleasure.
COOPER: New reporting from Gaza and fresh evidence that Hamas is using hospitals for cover. That's ahead.
COOPER: We have new reporting tonight on the fighting in Gaza, the challenges and the easy assumptions about it. This includes what CNN's Nic Robertson saw today, imbedded with the IDF deep inside the territory. Wouldn't it seem destruction as bad as Nic reported with more than three decades of experience covering conflicts as he's ever seen, as well as evidence that Hamas is using hospitals to shelter command bunkers, weapons, and possibly hostages. Earlier today, President Biden said hospitals, quote, "must be protected." But then later, an administration spokesman acknowledged what Hamas is doing complicates that effort.
JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN: It makes it much harder for any military force to go after those targets because the hospital itself ought to be, as the president said, ought to be protected. So, he's really talking about this incredibly difficult conundrum that Israeli military forces are facing right now.
COOPER: That reaction was prompted by what CNN's Nic Robertson saw today with the IDF forces in Gaza. He joins us shortly.
Joining us now, though, is "Washington Post" national security reporter, Joby Warrick, who shares the bylaw and a new exclusive on what Hamas had in mind beyond the October 7th massacre, namely, a second phase with deeper attacks into Israel. He's also the author of the remarkable book, "Black Flags: The Rise of ISIS." And I'm glad he could join us tonight.
So, Joby, this is a fascinating article you've written. Because of the humanitarian crisis in Gaza and the images of the suffering, which is clearly taking place, especially around hospitals and in hospitals, the international pressure on Israel is mounting. From your reporting, I mean, this is exactly what Hamas wanted and planned for.
JOBY WARRICK, CNN HOST: Yes, and I think that picture is becoming very clear for us now. I mean, Hamas wanted to see some hostages. They see value in obtaining hostages for swapping with prisoners that the Israelis are holding. But that wasn't the main point.
I think Hamas, as we're seeing it now, really wanted to shake up the region, wanted to put the Palestinian resistance movement with something, you know, in their terms, back on the agenda to get people talking about this and thinking about this.
And as our reporting shows, they really expected the Israelis to hit back hard, maybe not quite as hard as they did, but hard enough to bring world opinion down on Israel, which is sort of a second phase of this we're seeing unplaying now. Nobody really talks as much about October 7th anymore. It focuses on what Israel is doing in response. And that works very well from a Hamas point of view, which change of subject, and they're very happy with that.
COOPER: Well, I mean, just -- you know, let's just pause on that for a moment, meaning they planned this massacre. They committed the slaughter of men, women, and children, 1,200 or so in Israel. They did not build any bomb shelters for their own people knowing that Israel would respond. They did not attempt to do anything to protect their own citizens, Palestinians in Gaza.
They wanted this response by Israel. They -- I mean, they have publicly said on Arabic channels about embracing martyrs, wanting martyrs, and being -- they did nothing to protect their people.
WARRICK: Yes, they're very proud, and they say this, as you said, publicly. We -- all about martyrs. We want to create martyrs. It helps our cause.
And you're absolutely right about this. I mean, Hamas knew this counterstrike was going to be coming, so obviously they stockpiled, you know, food and water and fuel for themselves, you know, but nobody else in Gaza got this warning. Nobody else was told, well, you ought to pick up some medicine because we're going to be under a siege for a while, or you ought to make sure you got fuel for your generator.
People of Gaza, the two million folks who live there and have to sort of live under these conditions were not warned at all. And they're the ones that are paying the price for that right now.
COOPER: But it can ...
WARRICK: And it does -- it seem to fit very well with Hamas' plan.
COOPER: Also, I mean, Hamas controls the images which come out of Gaza. I mean, any cameraman who works in Gaza knows where you point the -- you're allowed to point the camera and where you're not allowed to point the camera. Obviously, the civilian death toll is horrific, and that is the major story there.
But the other story is Hamas doesn't exist in any video from Gaza. I mean, if you're looking at the images we're looking at right now, these are not -- you don't see any tunnels. You don't see any rockets being fired, any locations of rockets, because if you're a cameraman in Gaza, you cannot videotape that. You can't point the camera at Hamas.
WARRICK: Yes. Absolutely. And it's been striking to me as well that Hamas is sort of disappeared from the scene. We see very little of them. We see very little of the fighting that they're doing.
COOPER: Yes, it's like they don't exist.
WARRICK: In some way, we see very little of the hostages. Yes, and the hostages, well, if they -- you know, there were recently talking about executing hostages or parading them out in some way. That would be bad for Hamas because it would swing public opinion against them. So, you don't see the hostages. They disappeared as well during this debate.
COOPER: Part of your "Washington Post" piece includes reporting about what more the Hamas gunmen had planned for, I mean, that the terror attack wasn't just supposed to be -- there's evidence now, according to intelligence officials you've spoken to, that it wasn't just going to be in the kibbutzim along the border, they wanted to try to get as deep as possible.
WARRICK: Yes. We're still trying to piece together exactly what Hamas had in mind, but there are a few intriguing bits of evidence. And one of them is the fact that some of these groups, some of the units that went to the south and to the east had enough material, had enough food, had enough weapons and gear for several days. They weren't planning to just run out and get some hostages and come right back out again.
And some of the maps that have been described to us indicate that some of these units were planning to go or were potentially able to go as far as the West Bank. They were halfway there already. They went 15, 20 miles into Israel. Another 20 miles, they would have been at the West Bank border. You can imagine what that would mean symbolically to link up with the other Palestinian faction and to perhaps draw them into the fight or make that part of this effort that they were putting together. Didn't happen, but they were clearly at least thinking about that.
The other thing on this psychic blow to the Israeli population about their own security, about the capabilities of the IDF, the capabilities of the intelligence services in Israel. Can you just talk about what you have learned about in preparations for October 7th, how Hamas was able to avoid the surveillance and tapping of communication networks?
WARRICK: One of the most fascinating things that we found was this was really a deception operation as much as anything else. And the preparation for this goes back probably a couple years because since 2021, Hamas hasn't really engaged with the Israelis. They've been sort of talking, you know, about building and about making things better for people inside Gaza, but not taking in sort of rocket fire, which some of their allies did, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and others would occasionally fire missiles or fight with Israelis on the border.
Not Hamas. Hamas seemed to be retreating from this, you know, kind of bellicose position that they've had for the last couple of decades.
And that was important for the Israelis. And we talked to Israeli officials who said, we -- Hamas seemed to know what we wanted to hear. They wanted to hear that Hamas was not interested in war anymore. They're interested in development. And we were -- Israel was going to help them with that.
And so they were quite surprised and just looking back at it now, really see that they were fooled by this, that Hamas played them very well. And all the time that these sort of overtures of peacefulness and just, you know, walking away from war, they were planning the whole time. They were studying what they were going to do. They were -- they're drawing up the maps and getting drone footage, in some cases, to some of these kibbutzim they ended up attacking, all the time preparing for a really big attack, while convincing the Israelis they had nothing like that going on.
COOPER: Yes, it's fascinating. Joby Warrick, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
COOPER: As we mentioned, CNN's Nic Robertson spent the day with the IDF forces in Gaza, where he saw not just an extensive destruction, but far more than that. We should note that he was under IDF escort at all times. CNN did not submit its script or footage. The IDF has retained editorial control over the final report.
Nic is back in Israel, he joins us from Sderot. So Nic, as we said at the top of the program, you said this was the most extensive damage you've ever seen in more than 30 years covering conflict. Talk about what you saw.
Nic, can you hear me? Clearly, we're having trouble getting in touch with Nic. We'll try to do that. We'll take a short break. We'll be right back.
COOPER: We've reestablished contact with Nic Robertson we think in Israel. Nic, as we said at the top of the program, you said that this was the most extensive damage you have witnessed in more than 30 years. Can you just talk about what you saw?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes. We drove in along the coast road, we drove several miles in the back of an opened Humvee type vehicle so we saw everything. I mean, we weren't enclosed in a windowless armored personnel carrier.
Destroyed houses, destroyed apartments, destroyed villas, hotels that were destroyed. Huge tall apartment buildings destroyed, blown apart, burned bullet holes, shell holes. I didn't see any building that wasn't damaged. I didn't see any civilians at all. And we took on the personnel carriers to get deep into the city.
We were about 5 miles into Gaza really in a heavily built up neighborhood by the Al-Rantisi Children's Hospital. There were tank battles -- well, the IDF tanks were firing at Hamas down the streets. That was -- it was absolute -- I mean, a war zone doesn't do it justice in a way. It was absolute chaos.
And everything, cars strewn up the sides of -- smashed into the sides of houses, the roads pulverized, every building you looked at smash. And still a firefight going in this urban environment. And again, no people.
COOPER: What about the hospital?
ROBERTSON: The idea -- the civilians could be moving back in. Yes, the hospital. So there was a -- there still seems to be something of a firefight going on very close to the hospital at the front of the hospital. And I asked the commander, why is there such a big hole in the back of the hospital and he said, look, we got here five days ago, the doctors were still there, there were patients still there.
He said, the IDF we couldn't check because there weren't doctors there. The IDF helped the doctors evacuate with the patients. They got away safely. But the only way said for the IDF to get into a hospital was to punch a hole, look like by a tank shell in the back of the -- in the back of the hospital. And that's how we claimed in and got into the basement, which is what he wanted to show us.
Look, you know, he was at great pains to show us not just the hospital there, but tunnels that they'd found and the house that he said had to belong to Hamas commander. Look, we come into this as journalists, right. And we go in and we ask questions, and I asked the questions that, you know, some people are going to say is this really for real? And he's like, no, this is what we found.
So we can see the solar panels on the roof of the house that he says belongs to Hamas leader. We can see the cables and we can see them run into a junction box. And we can see them run from the junction box into a well-made tunnel shaft that goes down below us.
And the top spokesman for the IDF said, look, we've got a robot down there, it's gone down some of the tunnels that are beneath us here. One of them runs towards the hospital. So their point being, and they hadn't proven that link, but his point being that here is a Hamas commander, there's got a tunnel shaft that's got electricity and communications cables running into it that's right next to the hospital.
And then into the hospital where he showed us weapons and ammunition that he said Hamas had there. Again, you're asking, we're asking the tough questions. And I think we were getting straightforward answers. But again, this is such a contentious issue about the damage to hospitals, about the civilian casualties.
When you go into this environment, you really want to press and make sure that you are getting the fullest amount of information you can. What we couldn't do was reference it against any civilians that live there, or any medical staff because there was nobody there.
COOPER: And what about hostages?
ROBERTSON: Yes. So in the basement of the hotel, what the -- basement of the hospital, what the IDF was saying, not only was this weapon storage facility belonging to Hamas, but then they took us into another room and showed us a motorbike that had a bullet hole in it. And they said that this was one of the -- they believed it was one of the motorbikes that had been used by Hamas on the October 7 attacks.
He -- and when I asked, you know, how are you going to know, he gave me the impression that this was something that they'd seen through observations, through aerial observations. Can't know that for sure.
We went into another room where there was a chair and a rope around the legs of the chair and a women -- a woman's dress, it appeared, on the chair and a baby's feeding bottle on a shelf above the chair. And I said, OK, is this -- what is -- what you're showing us here? Proof that there was a hostage chair. And he said, look, we can't make that connection. We can't make that assumption. But what we are going to do, he said, because they'd only been inside the hospital he told us for about four hours, was run DNA tests on that dress, on the rope, on a hairband that was found on the floor there. And then they showed us another area which he said was a guard room and there was literally a schedule for guard duty.
This is how he explained it, written in Arabic on the wall started October 7, running through every single day until November 3. Everyday crossed out. He said that was evidence that that room was used as a guard room by Hamas for controlling possibly the hostages.
He did not say definitively and I pressed him on this, that there were hostages there but he said it was a line of information that they were going to follow up with DNA test has exploited the area. But I got to say they're out there on the street digging holes, looking for tunnels.
And there were gun battles going on around them. I mean, they are so, I think, desperate is the wrong word but so clued in that there is so much pressure on them, that they really want to try to prove what they already believe and think they have substantiated, that there are these tunnels connecting Hamas to hospitals, and they're doing it under gunfire.
Now if you're really fighting a war, you're not trying to prove that there are tunnels connecting to hospitals and things like that you're fighting a war, but they know that international pressure is mounting on them.
ROBERTSON: And of course, that's why they took us there to see all of these.
COOPER: Nic Robertson, appreciate it. Thank you.
With hospitals such a focus, I want to get an up close look from one of them. It comes from Dr. Tom Potokar with the International Red Cross who has been treating patients in Gaza at an undisclosed hospital. He recorded these messages for us.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DR. TOM POTOKAR, CHIEF SURGEON, INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS: So just coming out of the operating theater this morning, we operated on a two-year-old who had 28 percent burns all over his body. We've just operated on another lady who has 14 percent plus full thickness burn.
Whilst we're doing this operation in our theater, Palestinian theater, I just got a call to say that his wife's brother and father house have been hit. And they just found out that they'd all been killed in a strike this morning. This afternoon, we operated on a young child, 13-year-old with traumatic head injury, results of explosive blast, big defect in the back of his skull with some bone missing, an exposed brain that required careful debridement. And then a large flat from his scalp to cover the defect.
I'm pleased to say some of the patients have now recovered a little bit, those with the more minor burns, which is reassuring, but we still have many, many, many patients.
So another very busy day. Paul, our orthopedic surgeon has been busy in the orthopedic theater. Helping Palestinian colleagues manage some of the cases currently. Particularly, these cases that are complicated blast injuries with extensive tissue loss and bony injury.
Unfortunately, today, we had to amputate the hand just proximal to the wrist of a six-year-old child who had had very, very deep burn injuries. We were trying to save his arm. We've managed hopefully to save his limb up until the hand but unfortunately a hand was basically charred and was the cause of ongoing infection which was making him very unwell. He's still in a very critical condition now.
Still many, many burns that we're dealing and with dressing changes. Our local Palestinian therapists are doing a great job getting these patients up and out of bed. So still relentless, still bombardment every night. One very close, half past one this morning that whistled over the top of the building we're in. Still patients arriving, still inundated with internally displaced people. So not really getting any better.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: One doctor's perspective working in the hospital around the clock.
Coming up next, more breaking news. We have new reporting on the FBI investigation into the campaign fundraising for New York City Mayor Eric Adams, focused on campaign money, alleged favors and possible foreign influence.
COOPER: More breaking news tonight, we are learning more about the FBI investigation to campaign fundraising for the mayor of America's biggest city. Last week we reported the FBI seized the cell phones and iPad of New York Mayor Eric Adams. He's not been accused of wrongdoing.
But tonight, we do have new details on the investigation from CNN's Chief Law Enforcement and Intelligence Analyst John Miller, who joins us now. So what have you learned?
JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: Well, we're told by sources who have been briefed on the investigation that the FBI investigation into these campaign contributions that came from straw donors is backed up by the fact that they are -- we are told -- have the records of the checks in the same amounts of the campaign contributions that were then paid back to the employees of a Brooklyn- based construction company that does a lot of business in the city.
So essentially, a company can only give $5,000. But when you have a large group of employees giving $2,000 each and then they're getting it back from the company, they found a way to not only skirt the campaign limits in contributions, but also get matching funds for those amounts from the city.
COOPER: Why would the company do that?
MILLER: That, Anderson, kind of goes to the heart of what this case is really about. These were a construction company that's connected to a larger construction company in Turkey. It's owned by a successful Turkish-American businessman who supported Eric Adams.
But what the FBI is trying to get to here is, is their foreign influence? Meaning, is this just a Turkish businessman that does a lot of business with the city that needs cooperation and permits and things like that? Or is this -- and think about the Melendez case with Senator Menendez rather in New Jersey, where businessmen were working as cutouts to get things for the Egyptian government.
MILLER: So is Turkey trying to lure in the Mayor of the City of New York wittingly or unwittingly, to get anything as simple as business development in New York City for have businesses that would benefit turkey or a more complex which is investing in a politician who's got ambitions that may can go to the White House.
COOPER: So, why would they there be simultaneous searches with nearly 100 FBI agents and then wait a week to take the mayor's phone?
MILLER: So there's two potential answers to that. One, they found evidence in the searches that got them to probable cause to get a search warrant for all the mayor's phones. Or two, an investigative technique, which is they have wires up, wiretaps on suspects. And they wanted to do something to stir up the pot --
COOPER: And see what might have.
MILLER: -- and get conversations go in --
COOPER: That's interesting.
MILLER: -- which would be even more interesting and that they got a search warrant for the mayor's devices to mirror the hard drives, copy all the information. Is it possible that they had a wiretap as well on one or more of the mayor's devices? That we don't know. But tomorrow, he goes before the press to answer questions about this.
COOPER: How tough would it be to get a wiretap on a sitting mayor?
MILLER: It's a significant ask. And to do it, you have to make an affidavit, a sworn affidavit as an FBI agent, laying out the probable cause to convince a federal judge. It would also have to be approved by the Attorney General of the United States to convince a federal judge that your evidence is strong enough to believe there's evidence of illegal activity on the mayor's phone and devices.
Now, we know they got that search warrant. So we haven't seen that document yet.
COOPER: I see. John Miller, thank you. Appreciate it.
The Supreme Court released a code of conduct today. The question though, does it have any teeth? That and will be enough to save the court's reputation after a series of high profile news stories about justices not disclosing gifts and luxury trips? That's next.
COOPER: After a series of embarrassing news stories that allege justices at the U.S. Supreme Court, including Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito had skirted ethics regulations when accepting luxury trips and gifts and more, the court today announced a code of conduct.
Critics say the code lacks teeth and does not spell out at all how it would be enforced nor by whom. For instance, Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, who sits on the Judiciary Committee asked, quote, "Is there a place where you can file a complaint against a justice who sorts out the ridiculous complaints from the legitimate ones?"
None of that is answered in a code that runs eight pages and is derived from one to which lower court judges are bound. The court also lists no specific restrictions on gifts or the code, no specific restrictions on gifts or travel, real estate deals. It says justices should, quote, "make a reasonable effort", unquote, to stay informed about the financial interests of themselves and their households".
It says justices should not knowingly be, quote, "a speaker, a guest of honor, or featured on the program of a fundraising event". The code also says the provision on recusal, quote, "should be construed narrowly". The code comes months after ProPublica began reporting on the justices finances including and its reports were that a Republican megadonor Harlan Crow had paid for expensive trips and more for Justice Clarence Thomas.
Thomas said the rules at the time didn't require such disclosures. ProPublica also disclosed that Justice Samuel Alito did not disclose a luxury fishing trip back in 2008. He said the criticisms were not, quote, "valid".
I'm joined now by our Senior Supreme Court Analyst Joan Biskupic. So Joan, do these guidelines, do they go far enough to satisfy the understandable criticism that's been leveled? JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: No, they don't, Anderson, but we've finally got at least a written code. So it is the first step in what members of the public, Senate Democrats, watchdog groups, you know, hosted media commentators had been pushing for. So it is a first step.
And, you know, the Chief Justice John Roberts had really been struggling behind the scenes to first even get a majority to do something. And in the end, he was able to get unanimity. And I think it's because of the kind of atmosphere you just referred to there in terms of the news stories, the constant drumbeat of can't they have some sort of written rules the way lower court judges have.
But the key thing is exactly as you said, there are no enforcement mechanisms in what they've presented. And also no way for anyone in the public, on the Hill or elsewhere to try to lodge a complaint and have it actually aired in some way. So it's, again, the justice is saying, you know, trust us, but I do want to say that at least they've taken this first step.
Now, they adopted much of what was in the lower court code, but they added certain things that actually kind of, I think, were intended to blunt some of the criticism that they have. You mentioned that they say that if there any actions might undermine the judiciary, they added the word knowingly there, saying that sometimes justices don't know whether their conduct might undermine the judiciary or promote integrity, they just don't know.
And with sharp disagreements, as the document said, they just needed to make sure they put in, that they would only find -- they would have to be knowingly disregard the judicial integrity and impartiality. So they kind of gave themselves a couple outs in this document, including Anderson, and another one, they said, you know, how the court receives lots of amicus briefs, friend of the court briefs that are filed often by business groups, and individuals who have connections to the justices.
And they said in the cases of these, quote, "friend of the court briefs" that are filed to backup certain parties in the case that even if the justices have relationships with any of those individuals, they don't need to recuse. So, again, no enforcement and some new provisions written in that I think were intended to blunt criticism that they've already been receiving in certain instances.
COOPER: So, I mean, is this -- I mean, our lower court judges, do they have higher standards?
BISKUPIC: Right now, they do. They do.
BISKUPIC: Yes, they absolutely do. And the other thing, Anderson, for lower court judges, there are channels, that if if you or anyone else has a complaint against the judge, there are channels in place that they can -- those complaints can be resolved. With the Supreme Court, there are no such mechanisms. COOPER: Wow. Fascinating. Joan Biskupic, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
BISKUPIC: Thanks, Anderson.
COOPER: Coming up -- that's it for us. Thanks for watching. I'll see you tomorrow night.
The news continues. The Source with Kaitlan Collins starts now.