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Anderson Cooper 360 Degrees

Trump Stokes Fears About Migrants And Crime During Border Visit; Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) Discusses About Donald Trump's Speech At The Border About Migrants; Special Counsel Asks For July 8th Trial Date In Classified Docs Case; Wants To Ask Prospective Jurors If They Believe 2020 Election Was Stolen; Gaza Health Ministry: 112 Dead, 760 Hurt After IDF Opens Fire Near Those In Food Line; IDF Says Incident Is Under Review; Transcript Released Of Hunter Biden's Deposition; PA Seniors On Their Concerns About Biden's Trump's Age. Aired 8-9p ET

Aired February 29, 2024 - 20:00   ET


ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: More than $6 million worth of those shares to the National Museum of African-American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

Thanks so much for joining us. AC360 starts now.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Tonight on 360, the president and former president each visit the southern border. What to make of their two different messages and what people on the front lines of the crisis really want done.

Also tonight, the two sides request trial dates in the Trump documents' case. Jack Smith wants it sooner, the defense later, and says it won't be fair unless it's much later, as in after the election.

And John King's election year journey all over the map, taking him to Pennsylvania tonight to see how seniors view a race between the two oldest presidential candidates ever.

Good evening. Thanks for joining us.

We begin tonight, keeping them honest, with immigration, the issue Americans now call their top concern, according to recent polling.

Today, President Biden and former President Trump made dueling visits to the Texas southern border, Biden to Brownsville, Trump to Eagle Pass. Two cities about 300 miles apart, two candidates who each in his own way has failed to fix a broken, severely overburdened border security and asylum system.

President Biden, many believe, by omission, by not making the problem enough of a priority until recently, even after a year of increasing numbers of people crossing the border and rising border encounters, which set new records. And Donald Trump, by commission, he's actively opposing any action until after he presumably wins the election, even though today he painted the problem as an imminent existential threat.


people that are coming into our country and they're coming from jails, and they're coming from prisons, and they're coming from mental institutions and they're coming from insane asylums and they're terrorists. They're being let into our country and it's horrible. It's horrible.

You look at the jails now, you take a look at the jails throughout the region, but more importantly, throughout the world, they're emptying out because they're dumping them into the United States.


COOPER: Actually, studies have shown that migrants commit fewer crimes as a percentage than U.S. citizens do. But hyperbole aside, it is hard to say his focus on the border is misplaced. It's a problem. It needs to be addressed.

Keeping him honest, though, the former president is only campaigning on it, not addressing the problem. Worse than that, as you likely know, he's come out against bipartisan Senate legislation, which toughens border security, tightens the asylum process and pays for more courts and judges and border enforcement.

He told House Republicans to torpedo the bill, and they did. But imagine if he didn't. He could have gone to the border today and pointed to the tough new border legislation that he and Republican lawmakers forced the President to accept. Could have, but didn't, which left President Biden today to attempt to seize the high ground on an issue which, fair to say, he has hardly taken the lead on.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: So here's what I would say to Mr. Trump: Instead of playing politics with this issue, instead of telling members of Congress to block this legislation, join me or I'll join you in telling the Congress to pass this bipartisan border security bill. We can do it together.


COOPER: CNN's Kristen Holmes is in Eagle Pass, Texas, covering the former president's visit. CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins us from Brownsville, where President Biden spoke.

Let's start with Kristen Holmes.

So, Kristen, what else did the former president say?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Anderson, when he took to the stage, he really repeated what we've heard, pulling from a familiar playbook that he's been doing since 2015, when he announced his first presidential bid and said that Mexico was sending over drugs and rapists. He stoked fear and he used rhetoric linking immigration and violent crime. And this is something, again, that propelled him to the White House in

2016 and also really helped build the base that we now see that surrounds and props up Donald Trump. But today he's really trying to reach people outside of that base. He's hoping that this message is going to help him to the White House again in 2024, particularly given that polling that we have seen that you mentioned that shows that immigration is the number one issue for voters and that Biden's approval rating on the issue is very low, much lower than Donald Trump's was. But one thing he didn't bring up, despite the fact that he continued to say he alone could fix the border, that if you voted him into office, he would fix it, he had all the solutions. He did not bring up the fact that he tanked to that bipartisan border bill and told Republicans, both privately and publicly, not to vote for it, not to support it.

But whether or not that message gets through to people who are fearful of immigration, who are fearful of what is going on at the border, that remains unclear, because he clearly knows how to tap into that messaging.

COOPER: So nobody asked or he - did anybody ask him about tanking the border bill or he didn't - he certainly didn't bring up on his own, you're saying.

HOLMES: Well, he didn't bring up on his own and neither did any of the conservative Republican Texas officials who are with him, some of whom had publicly supported the border bill before Donald Trump came out against it. Now, we did not have an opportunity to question Trump. We actually didn't even get close enough to him. They had us in a press pen far away. We thought we would be at the remarks, but we were not. We were told he was going to answer questions.


Maybe the pool asked some questions, but he did not answer any. It was more billed as a - it was billed as remarks, but it was actually ended up being a speech. He has not really answered anything on that other than to say that it had nothing to do with politics, that it was a bad deal. And I just want to note, he said it was a bad deal, despite the fact that it had restrictions in place that Republicans have been fighting for, for decades ...


HOLMES: ... despite the fact that it was negotiated by one of the most conservative senators in the Senate who fought for these things. And it would have put in place some of the restrictions that again, they have been working towards. Donald Trump himself has been calling for, but he said it was a bad deal and he said that only he could fix it.

Now their line is that this is executive action that Biden should be taking, that he took, Donald Trump took executive action and Biden should take it as well. And that is how they are spinning his decision to come out against that bill.

COOPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thank you.

Next to CNN's is Priscilla Alvarez, who's with - in the room for President Biden's remarks. So what else did President Biden say besides those comments directed to the former president? Well, going into today, the intention by President Biden was to place more pressure on Congress to pass that failed Senate border bill, because it was his White House officials and Senate negotiators who worked to hammer out that compromise.

So that is what the focus was for President Biden today. And it was notable that he actually cited some Republican talking points, focusing on fentanyl, cartels, criminals, in talking about the need for resources for the Department of Homeland Security.

So trying to make that direct connection that without that help, without that legislation, he can't get what the department needs to enforce the U.S. Mexico border. And he repeatedly said that it was "time to act." But it was notable, of course, that he did reference his predecessor in his remarks, because, as you heard there from Kristen, it was former President Donald Trump that played a critical role in scuttling this deal that Republicans had worked on hammering.

And in talking to White House officials and campaign officials, they're hoping that voters can make this connection, that they can see that there was a solution on the table and that Republicans walked away from it. So that is why President Biden is leaning into this moment and trying to use this as an opportunity. And, frankly, Anderson, it has been a pivotal moment for this White House, which up until this point had really distanced itself from the U.S. Mexico border.

COOPER: So the White House had sort of raised the idea, kind of off of the record, about possibly an executive action. Is there - was that just a trial balloon? What is - is there a plan B in the absence of getting something passed in Congress?

ALVAREZ: Well, sources tell me that this is still very much under consideration and being worked through. This requires administration attorneys to review and what is being considered is restrictions on the ability for migrants to seek asylum in the U.S. if they cross unlawfully. Using an authority that former President Donald Trump also tried to use, he tried to shut down the border. This seems to be a little different, though we still don't have the text of it.

So there is a plan B that is being worked through, but it's still not the same as enshrining something into law. And that's what White House officials come back to. They can try to do more on the U.S.-Mexico border, but none of it will be the same if it's not written in the law, which is exactly what former President Donald Trump faced, because everything he did was legally challenged in court. And they're anticipating the same could happen with any action President Biden takes.

So the pressure is still going to remain on Congress. But as you heard from the former president today, there is still a push by Republicans for the President to take more executive action on the U.S.-Mexico border.

COOPER: Yes. Priscilla Alvarez in Brownsville, thank you.

Joining us now in Connecticut Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy, one of the negotiators on that bipartisan Senate legislation that the former president tanked.

Sen. Murphy, I mean, when you see the former president at the southern border today referring to criminals, and terrorists, and people from mental hospitals, after he effectively killed the bipartisan bill that you worked to negotiate, what runs through your mind?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, first of all, this invasion rhetoric is just absolutely disgusting. It's xenophobic. It's racist.

Go to Ukraine, you see what an actual invasion looks like. This is somebody who dodged the draft, who has no idea what an actual war looks like. But here's the bottom line, President Trump does not want to fix the border. He does not want to fix the border because all he wants is a chaotic border because he thinks it helps him politically.

We had a deal, a bipartisan compromise, a tough set of new restrictions on the border, including the ability for the President of the United States to close portions of the border when crossings get too high. And Donald Trump instructed his allies in the United States Senate to kill that bill.

And he's been pretty clear why, because he thought it would help Joe Biden, because it would be good for America. So we still have a chance to come together and pass that bipartisan border bill that would help us control the border.


MURPHY: Donald Trump is the primary thing standing in the way.


COOPER: It's interesting because the president had tweeted out - the former president had tweeted out, this is not a perfect border bill. Obviously, no bill is perfect. It's called the compromise and things have to make compromises. But certainly Democrats bent over backwards in ways they hadn't before. And I mean, this was, as you say, a very tough border bill.

Kyrsten Sinema had said that according to the requirements in this border bill, if they were in place, the border would have been shut down pretty much every day of this year.

MURPHY: That's right, because this bill included an unprecedented ability for the President to stop processing claims in between the ports of entry when crossings are above 5,000 a day. And they have been above 5,000 a day since the end of last year. Our compromise bill was supported by the pro-Trump Border Patrol Union. It was supported by The Wall Street Journal, the Chamber of Commerce. This was a conservative, tough bill that would have allowed the

president to control the border. And because it actually would have been successful in controlling the border, Republicans led by Donald Trump killed it because they just can't imagine a world in which they can't exploit the border for political purposes.

COOPER: It also seemed to have pretty sensible requirements on increasing funding for judges, to process asylum claims much quicker when people first cross over. I mean, the asylum system in this country is insane that people spend - can just say that while they're - they want to claim asylum and it'll take years for any kind of a hearing to take place. And meanwhile, they're here and legally they can't work.

MURPHY: Our negotiations took four months and people were impatient to see the product, but it was because we were actually trying to solve the problem. We weren't writing a bill that was just going to score political points. Sen. Lankford and I are very different politically, but we are committed to solving the problem. And one of the problems is that when you come into this country to seek asylum, it often takes 10 years for your claim to be adjudicated.

And so it's an incentive for people to come into the country who have invalid claims because you get 10 years of working in the United States, even if you don't qualify for asylum. So what our bill would have done is not just allow the President to shut down the border, but also expedite the asylum process so that all those claims are heard in six months instead of 10 years. And what that would do is provide a tremendous disincentive to anybody coming to the United States who is going to lose their claim.

So our bill would have fixed a lot of the biggest problems in the immigration system. And again, that's the reason Donald Trump opposes it, because it actually would have worked.

COOPER: I mean, do you accept that President Biden and his team waited too long? Because there is an argument that he waited too long to address the gravity of this crisis. I mean, today's trip was only the second time he's actually visited the southern border. He kind of plundered off on Kamala Harris a while back. I mean, this border deal probably could have gotten done a lot sooner.

MURPHY: Well, President Biden, in his first week or so in office, introduced an immigration and border reform bill. And though it didn't get any coverage in the press, he implemented one of the toughest new regulatory regimes at the border in decades, a regime that was opposed by, frankly, many progressive immigration groups.

So it's just actually not true when people say, well, President Biden didn't do anything on the border until this summer. He actually has. What changed is that there are now 10,000 people showing up on a daily basis and so the crisis is bigger. It's more immediate.

And what also changed is that finally, Republicans, we thought, were willing to come to the table and get something done, something they were not willing to do for the first three years of President Biden's term (inaudible) ...

COOPER: It's also closer - I mean, it's also closer to the election and there's more pressure on the White House to actually do something. I guess the argument is, could - if he had been willing to, if Democrats had been willing to negotiate in the way that you guys did on this bill now, earlier, would that have - do you think it would have had a chance of passing?

MURPHY: No, I understand now that Republicans will not support a bipartisan border fix, that they are only interested in this issue remaining a political wedge issue. Like, what would Republican senators do on the weekends if they couldn't fly down to the border, dress up like border patrol officers and pretend that they're chasing down undocumented immigrants? So I don't think at any point, Republicans were going to be ready to get a deal. Donald Trump was never going to let that happen.

COOPER: Chris Murphy - Sen. Murphy, thank you so much for your time.

More now on what happens in the absence of any agreement on how to address the border problem and who pays the price for continuing what's obviously a broken system. Ed Lavandera has that.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The edge of Beyer Junfin's Eagle Pass Ranch stretches along three and a half miles of the border looking into Mexico.


Thousands of migrants have come through here. The remnants of discarded clothing are everywhere.

Texas authorities have installed miles of fencing and stretches of razor wire.


LAVANDERA (on camera): You're on the frontline of this crisis here on the Rio Grande. When you see what it looks like around here, what do you make of it when you come out here?

BEYER JUNFIN, LIVES ALONG TEXAS BORDER: I mean, it's a bad situation. It's a horrible situation.


LAVANDERA (voice over): But what Junfin mostly sees is a lot of politicians not willing to work together and doesn't understand why lawmakers can't pass legislation to resolve the migrant crisis.


LAVANDERA (on camera): Do you feel like you're kind of helpless as that toxic politics continues to rage in D.C. over this? JUNFIN: It's frustrating. There's two different politics working

against each other. We have one side saying that they want to do it one way and one side saying they're going to do it another and that's that separation that we have to come together.


LAVANDERA (voice over): Eagle Pass has become the epicenter of the political battle over border security, the stage where the Texas Republican governor is in a showdown with the Biden administration and federal immigration authorities.


ROSA ARELLANO, WORKED AT CBP FOR 14 YEARS: How long are we going to be going like this?


LAVANDERA (voice over): Rosa Arellano worked as a Customs and Border Protection agent for 14 years. She's become a local Republican Party activist and is frustrated by the gridlock.


ARELLANO: If we're still going to be on opposite extremes that the Republicans' my way or the highway and the Democrats are the same way, we are not going to get anywhere. We're just going to keep getting Band-Aid fix after Band-Aid fix that's going to happen.


LAVANDERA (voice over): Arellano says the focus needs to be on cartel human smugglers, she says they'll continue to outmaneuver authorities at the border until Washington ends the partisan bickering.


ARELLANO: It doesn't take a rocket scientist to go ahead and figure this out. It just gobbles my mind to be like, how can you grown men that have been elected by your constituents not be able to figure out this. You know how to fix this broken system.

JUNFIN: It's got to stop. It's got to come to an end.


LAVANDERA (voice over): People like Beyer Junfin are left waiting for politicians to figure this out, while he barely recognizes parts of his own land covered in razor wire and discarded clothing.


LAVANDERA (on camera): Kind of the prominent theme that you hear talking to people along the border over the last few months is just the lack of encouragement and the lack of confidence that any of this will be resolved anytime soon. So it was fitting for many people that President Biden is in Brownsville, former President Trump is in Eagle Pass, more than 300 miles apart. But the political reality is that this political gap is much, much wider than those 300 miles that they were separated by today, Anderson.

COOPER: Ed Lavandera, thanks.

Coming up tonight, breaking news on the Trump classified documents case, Jack Smith wants a summer trial date, and the Trump team suggests they could reach agreement on that. Meanwhile, meaning that there's potentially - could be a trial, even verdict before the election. We'll have more details on that.

Also, horrific images of Gazans killed trying to get food. We'll bring you the latest from the region.



COOPER: Breaking news now on the former president's trial for mishandling classified documents. In a new filing, Special Counsel Jack Smith proposes moving the trial date from May 20th to July 8th. The former president's attorneys, who've repeatedly pressed to delay the timeline of the trial and filed their own motion, they again demand that the trial happen after the presidential election. But, and this is a surprising new development, they say if it can't wait until after the election, then they propose August 12th of this year for the former president and a co-defendant, and a September 9th - and September 9th for another co-defendant.

Judge Aileen Cannon is expected to address the trial date during a hearing tomorrow. That comes the same day that we learned that Jack Smith wants to be able to ask prospective jurors whether they believe the 2020 election was stolen.

I want to get some perspective now on all this from former federal prosecutor Elie Honig and former Nixon White House counsel, John Dean.

What do you make of this July 8th date?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, so that's a really interesting development that there could be some agreement here between the parties to do a trial in July or August. And if that's the deal, I think I see why each side might be interested in that. It tells me, first of all, that Jack Smith has now concluded that it's very unlikely he's going to get his January 6th trial. And we just saw the Supreme Court take that case yesterday. I think he's done the math and seen that that's essentially a done deal in terms of trying it before the election. This would allow Jack Smith to at least try the Mar-a-Lago case before the election.

And from Trump's team perspective, they get the win of moving the January 6th trial till after trial - till after the election. And it allows them - they would go ahead with the Florida trial, the Mar-a- Lago trial, but you're going to have a good jury there if you're Donald Trump. You're going to have - half of that jury is going to be Trump supporters, Trump voters, so ...

COOPER: There's also questions about the judge that have been (inaudible) ...

HONIG: The judge has been good for Trump. So I think if you're Trump's lawyers, and we've had reporting on this, you're feeling pretty good about your chances in Florida.

COOPER: The August 12th date, which they say that could be a fallback option, the Trump team.


COOPER: I mean, how long a trial are you - are we looking at?

HONIG: This feels to me - and I know the parties put in different requests and estimates. I think Trump's team said eight to 10 weeks. I think DOJ said six to eight weeks. I think you're looking at a six to eight week trial. I think that's a good estimate. But that would - we're doing the math here, that would take you from August into September into October. That's - we could have a verdict in that scenario really close to Election Day.

COOPER: John, what do you think is at play here? I mean, do you think the Trump team sees the judge as being more favorable to him? They'd rather deal with her this summer than Judge Chutkan?

JOHN DEAN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: I think that's a real possibility that they think that there is still outstanding possibility she could be removed from this case. There are some motions in front of her that they're going to be dealt with tomorrow and if she rules the wrong way, Jack Smith might seek to remove her.

There's a motion to reconsider evidence being made available on witnesses and jurors that is pretty sensitive, and particularly in a case of this high profile. So that hasn't been resolved yet, will possibly be resolved tomorrow.


But I also think, Anderson, that they have undoubtedly pulled this case vis-a-vis the Washington, D.C., January 6 case and found probably with their base, this is less severe, less interest, what have you, than the election interference case.

COOPER: Elie, what are you expecting from this hearing tomorrow? I mean, do you think we'll have an actual answer on the timeline?

HONIG: I do think so. It's about time that the judge set a specific trial date. We're far enough out. The other thing I'm watching for is the parties are now negotiating and disagreeing about what should they ask the prospective jurors, the people who are potentially going to decide this case. And what each side is trying to do, if you look at their proposed questions, is essentially identify jurors who are going to be hostile to them so that the parties can eliminate those jurors and that ...

COOPER: Jack Smith wanted to ask about if they believe - in the documents case ...

HONIG: Right.

COOPER: ... if they believe the 2020 election was stolen.

HONIG: Which has nothing to do with the documents case, but it's almost a perfect proxy for whether someone supports Trump or not. And the idea from either side is you want to get rid of those jurors.

COOPER: Do you think they'll be allowed to?

HONIG: Ask that question?


HONIG: It's a weird one to me because it has nothing to do with the case. And there will be other ways that the parties can learn about where the prospective jurors sit. They can ask them, are you registered as a Republican or Democrat, do you have strong feelings about any of the parties.

So that one seems out of left field for me, but they're going to be trying to suss out, basically, what does this person think about Donald Trump?

COOPER: John, is that appropriate for them to do?

DEAN: I think they certainly can get to the bottom of who these jurors are if they want to. It's not an inappropriate question, as Elie says. It's really just a weird question, as the litmus test it might be, because it shows their respect for the rule of law in many ways. And it could be a disqualifier for the government, would toss that juror if they could not run out of preempts to remove them.

So I think that the government is and Trump have been doing a lot of research on what kind of jury they want for this case. It's a sophisticated case in some regards. It's a lay down case in others because it's very document heavy and it's pretty clear. It's a pretty simple case. But it's also politically very - going to be very embarrassing for Donald Trump.

COOPER: John Dean, Elie Honig, thanks so much.

Coming up next, everything we're learning at this hour about the chaos and loss of life around a convoy of aid trucks in Gaza.



COOPER: There's still far more questions than answers about what happened exactly during and around an aid delivery this morning in northern Gaza. Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry says at least 112 people were killed. The Palestinian ambassador to the U.N. now puts the death toll at 122 people. CNN can't confirm either figure.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has more details.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Pandemonium, as desperate Palestinians rush a convoy of aid trucks in the northern part of Gaza, where aid, which is already scarce, is in painfully short supply. In this drone video released by the Israeli military, the trucks are surrounded, people climbing on top of the trucks, chaos and panic.

This is before dawn in Gaza City, the biggest city in the enclave. Israeli troops are nearby. You can see here Israeli tanks alongside the convoy. Then, gunshots.

There are conflicting accounts of what happened. Eyewitnesses say Israeli troops fired into the crowd, fueling the chaos. A journalist, Hadar Azanoun (ph), who was on the scene, said that IDF soldiers killed about 20 people in the crowd. CNN cannot corroborate that claim.

The IDF has changed its account throughout the day, most recently saying that Israeli tanks were issuing warning shots to disperse a crowd after seeing people were being trampled.

An earlier account from the IDF said there were two separate incidents, one where crowds rushed the trucks and caused them to run over other civilians, and a subsequent event where IDF soldiers fired on a group of Palestinians who approached their military outpost and posed a threat.

Panic appears to have spread, the IDF says, consuming the truck drivers who tried to speed away and in the process, killing dozens, ramming and running them over.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no IDF strike on this aid.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): Israel says its military was helping with a humanitarian operation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tanks that were there to secure the convoy sees the Gazans being trampled and cautiously tries to disperse the mob with a few warning shots.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The death toll, more than 100 Palestinians killed today, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. And more than 700 injured, which CNN cannot verify.

Holding a body, this man says, he went to get a bit of bread, a bag of flour for his family. What is clear, however, is that today's deaths are the result of the dire humanitarian situation resulting from the Israel-Hamas war that has driven so many of Gaza's population, more than 2 million to despair and hunger.

Today's horrors coming the same day the death toll in Gaza since the war began crossed 30,000, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, most of them women and children.

MATTHEW MILLER, SPOKESPERSON, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: Let me start by addressing the tragic incident in northern Gaza today.

MARQUARDT (voice-over): The U.S. State Department said they are urgently seeking more information on what happened.

MILLER: People need more food. They need more water. They need medicine and other humanitarian goods. And they need it now.


COOPER: Alex Marquardt joins us now. So President Biden said today that this will complicate the ceasefire talks. What else did he say?

MARQUARDT (on-camera): Yes, Anderson, he acknowledged that these -- that this would make the talks more difficult. He also walked back the time frame. Remember a couple days ago, he had said that, that a ceasefire could be in place by Monday.

Today, he acknowledged that that was probably unlikely, though, he added hope spring is eternal. We also know that the president spoke with his Egyptian and Qatari counterparts. These three countries, of course, are the main mediators in trying to get Israel and Hamas to a ceasefire.

Now, sources that I've been speaking with throughout the day say that more than anything, this incident today shows that there is an urgency to get to the ceasefire, to be able to provide more humanitarian aid.


It is unclear, according to these sources, to what extent this incident will derail the talks. That is something that Hamas has said could happen or to what extent it could actually help accelerate the talks. But, Anderson, I think the bottom line here, when you look at those scenes, it is clear that not nearly enough aid is getting into Gaza and it is not getting to the places where it needs to be.

And if there were a ceasefire, it would not only be a piece however temporary, a break in the fighting. It would not only see Israeli hostages released after almost five months, but it would certainly help alleviate a lot of that desperation. Anderson?

COOPER: Alex Marquardt, thanks very much.

Joining us from Tel Aviv now, IDF Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner. Lieutenant Colonel Lerner, a local reporter on the scene says that shots fired by the IDF led to panic by the truck drivers and people desperate for supplies. People were run over.

Then according to the director of one hospital in Gaza City who spoke to the New York Times, that person said about a 100 patients were brought in with gunshot wounds. We can't verify those numbers. I know you said earlier on air that the IDF fired warning shots. If that's all they did, how did so many people get gunshot wounds? LT. COL. PETER LERNER, SPOKESMAN, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES: Anderson, thank you. I'm not aware of so many people receiving any gunshot wounds. And I would say we need to be very, very cautious at accepting anything that comes out of the Hamas Ministry of Health, as we would be cautious of accepting anything coming out of the ISIS Ministry of Health or the Al-Qaeda Ministry of Health.

The reality is, is this, in a humanitarian operation in the early hours of yesterday morning for the -- on the fourth consecutive day, we are conducting an operation to get humanitarian aid and food supplies into northern Gaza.

As the food supplies proceeded into the northern Gaza Strip, masses of people stormed the convoy of over 30 trucks. As you can see in the footage, the amount of people that just went to the trucks, it was immense and extensive. And what we understand is that throughout the case of these actions, many people trampled, beaten, and in some cases even run over.

We understand that dozens of people were actually run over and killed in this incident.

COOPER: Right.

LERNER: Indeed, the IDF were securing the area and we had a threat to one of our tanks where people were advancing towards the tank. The forces open fire with light arms machine gun, with warning shots. Those warning shots as the people continue to move forward -- continuing what to have the perceived threat, needed continued to a limited control burst of fire.

And this is the images that we've seen come out and then the forces then retreated. So it was a very limited, contained engagement on the ground. And most of the casualties and fatalities are absolutely from the initial incident of storming the convoy.

This is the tragedy. This is a tragedy of this event and indeed another desperate situation as a result of this war.

(Technical Difficulty)



COOPER: Welcome back. I want to apologize. We had some technical problems where I could no longer hear Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner from the IDF speaking. That's why we cut to commercial break. He is kind enough to stick around. So again, joining us from Tel Aviv, IDF Spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner.

You were saying essentially that there were two separate issues. I know earlier in the day, that's what you had said, that there were two separate issues. There was people swarming over the food convoy. And then there were also people who approached a position that was somewhat close. Is that still what you're saying happened? LERNER: Yes, absolutely. That's the reality. We understand. Here's what we know, that people were swarming the trucks. Indeed, some of those got crushed and killed by the vehicles, the trucks that were moving forward.

And at a second incident adjacent at a short distance away, approaching one of our tanks and putting the soldiers at risk. Of course, in the nature of the combat that we are facing with a 360 degree risk off terrorists that are not wearing uniform that will attach an explosive device to our tanks and our armed vehicles, there is a distinct threat, and that is why they opened fire with warning shots to begin with.

When the people continue to move towards the tank less than 5 meters away, that is when they -- the forces open fire towards those that continue to progress forward. This is a challenge.

COOPER: So do you know how many people IDF forces killed in that incident and who you say were approaching the tank?

LERNER: We understand it is around probably less than 10 people that were injured and wounded and perhaps killed in this incident. Unfortunate reality. I don't know who they are, and I can't identify that at this stage. Obviously, it does not relate.

And even if you were -- I saw that you were airing the Al Jazeera footage there. And I've watched that extensively also throughout the day. It's clear that they're very short bursts, very contains that would not explain the magnitude of the numbers that Hamas have been reporting.

So, either their numbers are inaccurate, which would make sense, but they definitely have nothing to do with the IDF fire.

COOPER: Earlier in the day, you had also said that that there was gunfire from Palestinians at -- around the food convoys. Are you still saying that? Because we have an eyewitness on the ground who had said that gunfire, he said, by Israeli forces panicked (technical difficulty).


LERNER: I've lost your audio, Anderson. I think it's now flipped on my side. I don't know if you can hear me. And I got the beginning of the question. I understand that there was an exchange or fire towards the trucks after they progressed even further going north.

And we understand that one of their drivers, one of the Palestinian drivers was actually killed as a result of this. This is a report we've received. I would say that the incident is still being investigated and there may be some more information that comes out that we will, of course, make public.

We understand the severity of the situation in northern Gaza. We understand that there is a dire humanitarian situation, and this is precisely the reason why we've been putting an effort to get food supplies up into the north over the last few days extensively.

The reality is a reality that is challenging. It is a reality where they're in the north of Gaza. There is still combat and attacks that are taking place. And we are seeking out the Hamas terrorists that are trying to regroup in order to conduct more attacks against Israel. And we completely understand that the humanitarian effort is Goes hand in hand with the operational efforts.

It's an important component of the war effort. We need to get rid of Hamas. And the only way to do that is to distinguish between the terrorists themselves and Hamas -- and the people of Gaza. We need to differentiate, distinguish between those.

COOPER: I'm sorry, again, I was having IP problems, so I couldn't hear some of what you said, but you -- I'm back, I can now hear you again. You have operational control over northern Gaza. I mean, Colin Powell famously told George W. Bush about, you know, invading Iraq. If you, you know, you break it, you bought it.

You were overseeing this distribution site. In fact, earlier in the interview, you called this, this was an operation you guys were coordinating. Isn't the IDF now responsible for how aid is distributed, given you've taken over this territory and you've effectively destroyed the Hamas-run police force?

So, shouldn't you be responsible for, as you said, you were securing this area. It doesn't look like the IDF did a very good job.

LERNER: Anderson, we were securing. We don't have effective control over all of the Northern Gaza Strip or the Southern Gaza Strip for that matter either. As I said, there is still --

COOPER: Right. But (INAUDIBLE) food delivery convoy to a place. Shouldn't you have control over that area?

LERNER: There are still combat taking place. There are still attacks being conducted and jeopardizing the operations as we go forward. The idea of maintaining a flow of humanitarian aid is to get it to the people that are actually in dire need.

Of course, there is a challenge. Of course, we understand that. And that is precisely why we facilitated and coordinated just this morning air drops into Northern Gaza that were conducted by the Jordanians. Continued air drops, continued access --

COOPER: But as you know --

LERNER: -- into Rafah.

COOPER: As you know, the airdrops can -- I mean airdrops can bring in maybe one or two truck worth of supplies, you know, to actually bring in the kind of number of supplies you all need. According to eight agencies, you need a large flow of trucks. Israel could allow other vehicles to come.

And right now, my understanding is there's two entrance points. There's Rafah, and then there's one also in the south. These trucks have to come up from the south all the way up to the north, which makes it even more likely that people are going to swarm them. Couldn't you also open up other avenues from the north of Israel into Northern Gaza?

LERNER: We are currently looking into the possibility to creating another access point. Indeed, it is definitely on the plate. I would say, though, that the amount of foodstuff that is coming in from Israel into Gaza, whether it's through the Rafah crossing from Egypt, or after it's being screened by Israel or through the Israeli side at Kerem Shalom in the south, as you rightly pointed out, there is no limit from the Israelis perspective.

The food stuff gets --

COOPER: As you point out, Israelis citizens are blocked -- often blocking the aid from getting in on the Israeli side, no?

LERNER: It has happened, but the flow continues. There is still until today food supplies on the Palestinian side waiting to be picked up by the U.N. organizations. So it's -- the bottleneck is actually on the logistics chain supply is actually on the Palestinian side and not on the Israeli side.

There's no limit on our side. But we're supplementing that today with the airdrops. And absolutely, we are looking into an access point from the north. It's been discussed. And we are conducting our assessment in order to do it in a way which will enable the supplies to reach the people that are most in need.

Lieutenant Colonel Lerner, I apologize for the repeated audio problems. I have no idea what's going on, but I very much appreciate your patience.


We have more breaking news tonight. House lawmakers have released the transcript of Hunter Biden's closed door deposition on Wednesday before the Republican-led House Oversight and Judiciary Committees. It covered more than six hours.

The depositions part of the ongoing Republican impeachment inquiry into allegations that President Biden benefited financially from Hunter Biden's overseas business ventures. According to the newly released transcript, Hunter Biden told lawmakers, quote, "All I know is this, my father was never involved in any of my business, ever.

Never received a cent from anybody, or never benefited in any way. Never took any actions on behalf in any way. And I can absolutely 100 percent state, that this is just -- not just in my case but in every family member's case."

CNN's Evan Perez joins us now with more. So I understand that Hunter Biden and Congressman Matt Gaetz clashed during the deposition. What more do you know? EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, there were a lot of tense exchanges with Matt Gaetz, in particular, Anderson. And the theme was what you just underlined, which is Hunter Biden pushing back on the idea that his father benefited from any of his business dealings overseas in Ukraine, or in China.

I'll read you just a part of one of his exchanges, where he asks -- tries to turn the tables on the Republicans, saying have you not been interested in another president and his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, Donald Trump's son-in-law and his dealings in Saudi Arabia.

What he says -- I'll read you just a part of this what he says here. He says, "When Jared Kushner flies over from -- flies over to Saudi Arabia, picks up $2 billion, comes back and puts it in his pocket, OK, and Trump is running for president of the United States, you guys have any problem with that?"

Matt Gaetz responds, "The clock has stopped." And then he responds, "No, the clock has not stopped. Do you guys have any problem with that? I'm asking. It's unbelievable to me." In part of this, Anderson, was Hunter Biden pushing back again on the idea that his father was involved in anything.

And he also, you know, explains some of the text messages that Republicans have been using in this impeachment inquiry, for instance, one where they refer to the big guy sitting next to me, right? His father sitting next to me. What his -- what Hunter Biden says is that his father was not sitting next to him, but he also says that he was on drugs and doesn't actually remember that instance.

So, we have a lot of exchanges here. It looks like, Anderson, that Republicans are still pursuing their effort to impeach the president. They haven't gotten any of the evidence that they say shows the reason for that. But that's where we are at the end of all of this.

COOPER: And how many times and in how many different ways did Hunter Biden argue that his father had no involvement in his business dealings?

PEREZ: He did that repeatedly over the course of six hours. I'll read you one quick part of this where he says, "I appreciate the job that you have. I truly do. I appreciate the job that you all have. I am telling you this, that if you can show me where any money that I've had to my father, other than the instance of the repayment of $1,300 for a loan for a truck."

What he's pointing out to is that there is no -- there's no evidence, no financial records to show that money flowed from Hunter Biden to his father.

COOPER: I'm impressed. Thanks so much.

Election news now. Specifically, the age question, particularly so for President Biden. Even vast numbers of Democrats expressing concerns about it in polls. Results of his physical release yesterday painted a picture of a healthy president with, quote, "no new concerns," but it, as you know, did not include a cognitive test.

CNN's John King has been asking seniors in Pennsylvania about the issue for his ongoing election series all over the map. Take a look.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In Mahjong, everything has to be in order.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Mahjong is complicated, and these seniors --


KING (voice-over): -- say it helps keep them sharp.


MURPHY: Last wall.

KING (voice-over): Darrell Ann Murphy is the instructor. Rule number one has nothing to do with the tiles.

MURPHY: We're all here to learn. We're all here for one reason, and we're never going to talk religion or politics.


KING (voice-over): Books come up, new shows.


KING (voice-over): Children and grandchildren.

MARY ANN HORVATH, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I hardly talk politics with anybody because you just don't know what the other person believes.

KING: But why does that matter?

HORVATH: Feelings are so much stronger now.

KING: Let me ask --

KING (voice-over): A visitor decides to break the rule.

KING: Who wishes we had younger candidates? Who thing Donald Trump and Joe Biden are both too old to be president?

PAMELA AITA, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: I think there should be a limit, an age limit at the top.

MURPHY: A lot of older people now are pretty darn sharp.

AITA: This poor man is not capable, in my opinion, and I think in the opinion of a lot of people. It's pathetic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, then the counter argument, Donald Trump can't know the difference between Nancy Pelosi and Nancy Haley.


MURPHY: Nikki Haley.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nikki Haley. I can't even know the difference either.


KING (voice-over): Yes, even those living the challenge of aging are divided on the age debate.


This is Northampton County, Pennsylvania, a place with a history of picking presidential winners.

MURPHY: It's either him or Trump.

KING (voice-over): Murphy shrugs it off when a conservative says Biden is too old. But some conversations worry her.

MURPHY: When I start talking about Joe and how I admire and respect him, I get plenty of blowback. Plenty of blowback. He's too old. Kamala Harris, forget her. Blowback.

Now, these are people who do not necessarily love Trump, but they talk about wanting a better choice.


KING (voice-over): Larry Malinconico is 71, teaches geology, an independent, but he almost always votes for the Democrat. A Biden fan, and forgiving when the president says he recently spoke to a foreign leader who died years ago.

MALINCONICO: I don't think he's got an appropriate credit for the things he has done. He has a history of gaffes, but I also think that as we age, that we do tend to mix things up a little bit.

KING (voice-over): Lafayette College is in Easton, a deep blue piece of a purple county. But conversations with friends and students have Malinconico wishing the president settled for just one term.

MALINCONICO: I think there are people who will not vote for him or sit it out because they perceive his age as a potential problem.

KING (voice-over): Mickey Brown is West Point, class of 1966.

MICKEY BROWN, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: We try to stay as active as possible.

KING (voice-over): He plays tennis, pickleball, and senior softball to stay sharp. His wife, though, has dementia and lives in a care home nearby. BROWN: I believe in Jesus and God. I think he keeps me strong. And I'll be fine.

KING (voice-over): Brown is a conservative and a two time Trump voter. He insists, though, this view of President Biden is born of experience, not politics.

BROWN: Caring for my wife, I see certain things in the way his mannerisms that make me wonder if he is really, in fact, the president.

KING: Trump's several years younger than Biden, but people have raised the same question. You raised some concerns that you see in Biden that you say, well, I've lived that. Do you see any of that in Trump?

BROWN: Well, I was just 80 on January 31st. At times, I forget something, comes back, but I'm fit. I'm confident in myself. I just think the difference between the two are enough for me to be more concerned about. Mr. Biden going forward, then Mr. Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Shoulders opening, chest opening.

Pat Levin is 94, yes, 94, and at Pilates.

PAT LEVIN, PENNSYLVANIA VOTER: It's important for -- to keep me vertical. The -- at my age, I need all the help I can get.

KING (voice-over): Age, she says, is not the dominant issue among most of her friends.

LEVIN: They're terrified about what might happen if Joe Biden doesn't win.

KING: Terrified why?

LEVIN: What will happen to this democracy?

KING: As someone who is older than him pays attention to politics. What do you see?

LEVIN: I don't think age should be a determinant of competence. I don't think they go together in any way, shape or form. Know a lot of younger people who are quite incompetent. I know a lot of older people who are very competent and Joe Biden falls into that category for me.

KING (voice-over): She knows Northampton's history of razor thin margins and of picking the winner.

LEVIN: That always surprises me because we tend to spend time with people who think the way we do. So I think everybody is for Joe Biden until November comes and then it surprises me.

KING (voice-over): Levin will be 95 when this November comes.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Pull your ribs down towards your waist, great.

KING (voice-over): Every crunch, her way of saying, it's just a number.


(END VIDEOTAPE) First of all, John, Pat is in amazing shape. She's -- looks great for 94. Wow. So, who has the upper hand among these older voters?

KING (on-camera): Even the Democrats there we met who support Biden think Trump does at the moment. And Trump has historically, Anderson. Let me just pull up these numbers and look, forgive me for turning my back just so I can stretch them out.

In 2016, Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton among voters over 65. You see it there by seven points, right? It was smaller in 2020, and that's the difference. Joe Biden, five points. And keep it within the margins.

In Pennsylvania, Trump beat Clinton by 10. Trump only beat Biden by seven. So you don't necessarily have to win this constituency, but if you keep the margins tighter, Joe Biden has to at least keep the margins tight. And the voters we talked to said it's a bit of a challenge right now.

COOPER: What about older voters and other battleground states?

KING (on-camera): That's why this is so interesting. Let me get this one off the screen here, come out to the national map and give you a show here. This just -- look at this. If you look at -- let me bring it all the way out. You see Pennsylvania.

In the key battleground states, the darker areas here where you have a higher percentage of 65 plus voters. Look, it's the -- they are the most reliable voters. They will vote almost always. And so for President Biden, he has to answer the age question, Anderson, among those who understand this issue better than anybody, of course.

They're going through it every day and they talk about it. They have their own memory lapses. They can't move as fast as they could. Again, it splits mostly along partisan lines. It's mostly Democrats who say the president's fine and Republicans who say they don't.

But what was most interesting, we saw it in Pennsylvania and it will matter in these other states, is the Democrats you heard in the piece. They're saying that they're still with the president. They think he's OK. But when they talk to peers, some of them have doubts. And so that's an issue as we go forward here.

COOPER: All right, John King, thanks.

We apologize again for the technical difficulties tonight. There's nothing worse than doing an interview with somebody and you can't hear everything that they are saying. So apologies for that.

The news continues. THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.