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The Lead with Jake Tapper

U.S. Announces Another $400M Aid Package for Ukraine; Alex Murdaugh Sentenced to Life in Prison for Killing Wife & Son; CNN Goes Inside Village at the Center of Israeli-Palestinian Violence; Vietnam War Hero Receives Medal of Honor. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired March 03, 2023 - 16:00   ET



VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: Such important work.

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PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: The U.S. is arming Ukraine with more American ammo and rocket launchers.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Stocking up ahead of a likely Russian spring offensive. The U.S. deploys another $400 million in military aid to Ukraine. And President Biden secured even more as Russians encircled a strategic town of Bakhmut.

Plus, from prominent attorney to convict. The swift prison sentence today for Alex Murdaugh after a jury took only a few hours to find him guilty of killing his wife and son.

And, drag shows shut down, Tennessee becomes the first in the nation to put new restrictions on the performances.


BROWN: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Pamela Brown in for Jake Tapper today.

And we start today with our health lead. Moments ago, the White House announced a lesion move from President Biden's chest last month. It was a common type of skin cancer.

CNN's Phil Mattingly joins us now from the White House.

So, Phil, tell us more about this diagnosis?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Pamela, the lesion was removed during the president's annual physical last month at Walter Reed. And we now have the results of what that lesion actually presented. And as you, noted it presented a form of skin cancer, basal cell

carcinoma, which they say, or at least according to the president's doctor was removed. All cancers tissue was successfully removed according to Dr. Kevin O'Connor. No further treatment is necessary. And what's a rather common skin cancer, one that doesn't spread or metastasized.

However, the president will continue to go undergo dermatological surveillance over the course of the coming months and years. At this point in time, according to Dr. O'Connor, where the lesion was, where it was removed it's healed nicely. No further treatment is required at time.

Obviously, we're keeping an eye on this. We saw that this was biopsied. It was removed and biopsy during the physical. And now we have the result.

At least this point in time, no further treatment is necessary. But they will keep an eye on this going forward, Pamela.

BROWN: All right. Phil Mattingly, live in the White House for us, thank you.

And turning to the world lead now, today, President Biden welcomed a key U.S. ally to the White House, where he confirmed another major security package for Ukraine. The $400 million in aid includes rockets and ammunition which Biden and German chancellor Olaf Scholz agreed as part of their long term commitment to Ukraine.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Together, we're lockstep to describe security systems to Ukraine. I'm from everything from -- from lockstep.

OLAF SCHOLZ, GERMAN CHANCELLOR: We are ready for support and stand with Ukrainians as long as necessary.


BROWN: Ukrainian forces said they are still fiercely defending the eastern city of Bakhmut, despite Russian claims that the city is surrounded. Capturing Bakhmut will give Putin's army the ability to launch aerial attacks further into Ukraine, and would symbolize some military progress for the Russians.

CNN's Melissa Bell is in Ukraine where officials are worried thousands of civilians remain trapped in the city under siege.


MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Bakhmut still stands, says the Ukrainian military. But only just.

UNKNOWN: Looks really hellish. BELL: The bridge along the last possible supply route in and out,

destroyed overnight, leaving out of reach, and nearly encircled around four and a half thousand civilians including 48 children, the ghost of Bakhmut, entirely out of sight. Any sign of life driven underground.

What is life like in Bakhmut today for the civilians, for the soldiers?

VSEVOLOD KOZHEMYAKO, UKRAINIAN SOLDIER: What life. What life. The soldiers are doing their work, and civilians are trying to survive. There is no water, there's no electricity.

BELL: This was Bakhmut in August, when the seashell just begun. This is Bakhmut seven months on. The city's empty, people are afraid to go out, every day, new destruction. It's better not to go outside, writes Dr. Elena Molchanova from inside the town.

CNN met her and other nurses on Christmas Eve, not quite happier times, but certainly less desperate ones.


Now the constant artillery prevents her from leaving the basement of her hospital. The Ukrainian military says civilians are now trapped. The head of the Wagner mercenary group urging Ukrainians nonetheless to try to leave Bakhmut as his men close in.

WAGNER FIGHTER (through translator): The fencers are tightening, Ukrainian soldiers are fighting but their lives near Bakhmut are short a day or two. Give them a chance to leave the city. It is in fact surrounded.

BELL: Ukraine dismissing those comments as a disinformation campaign designed to spread panic. For now, Ukrainian soldiers continue to fight.

UNKNOWN: Almost all the building, the outskirts, are ruined absolutely. Almost every house has this holes and have these marks of shelling. The streets are empty, the pictures quite say it.

BELL: But inside, life as best it can goes on. Elena helping those who come with what drugs are left. And she sends us this. Spring is coming she says, even to Bakhmut. And that means there's hope.


BELL (on camera): Pamela, those spring-like conditions had been expected to slow the Russian advance. The muddying collapse trudges. The flooded fields. In fact the sheer number of Russian surgeons and mercenaries that have been thrown in Bakhmut have meant that the city will surely fall. It's a matter of time. And in fact, the next dreaded stage has begun, which is the pounding of the next village to the west.

But surely, that question of the fate of those four and a half thousand civilians will have to be part of the calculation longer term about whether or not this seven month-long fight was worth the cost, Pamela.

BROWN: Melissa Bell, thank you very much.

And joining us now is Amanda Sloat. She is a senior director for Europe and the National Security Council.

So, Amanda, we just heard about Russia siege of Bakhmut. Can you give us an honest assessment of what's actually happening on the ground in Ukraine? Does it look like Russian forces are in fact gaining steam?

AMANDA SLOAT, SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EUROPE, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: So, it's hard for me to stand in Washington to give you a better assessment than what the Ukrainians featured in your interview are seeing on the ground. There certainly it's a bloody and vicious fight. The Russians have heavily invested in this for unclear reasons because there wasn't a particular strategic value for them. We've seen them from thousands of bodies at this, fight including a large number of prisoners, and it's not going to be something that's replicable for them.

So, from here, we're continuing to give the Ukrainians the security assistance they need, including another large package that will be announced today to enable them to continue fighting effectively on the battlefield.

BROWN: What is the significance of Bakhmut? And what kind of morale blow would it be to the Ukrainian if they lose it?

SLOAT: The Ukrainians, so far, have taken back half of the territory seized by Russia since this war began. The strategic value for Russia has never been particularly clear.

BROWN: I want to talk about the meeting between President Biden and Chancellor Scholz. One administration official told CNN that they could discuss intelligence showing China is considering giving Russia lethal aid. Is that aid imminent?

SLOAT: Sorry, I -- you broke up. Can you repeat the question?

BROWN: Yeah, that's okay. So, we have reporting that Chancellor Scholz and President Biden were expected to discuss the intelligence showing China is considering giving Russia lethal aid. Is that aid imminent?

SLOAT: So, so far, we have not seen evidence that China is providing military support to Russia. It's something that we're continuing to watch. We've been very clear with China that there would be consequences of. But thus far, we haven't seen any evidence that China has made that decision and gone forward.

Certainly, if they did, it we would be damaging to what China's trying to do, both in Europe and internationally.

BROWN: Has the U.S. -- has the administration seen any evidence or intelligence that China may be reconsidering that consideration to provide lethal aid to Russia? SLOAT: So, as we've indicated previously. We had evidence that China

was considering it. But for now, we haven't seen evidence that China has actually made a decision to move forward.

BROWN: All right. So, despite being excluded from today's aid package, Ukraine's defense minister said that he's confident Western countries will in fact said those fighter jets to Ukraine. Is he right, what do you say to them?

SLOAT: So, President Biden has spoken to the question of F-16s. Right now, we're focused on ensuring that Ukraine has the security assistance that it needs for prosecuting the battle on the ground. Today, we announced another significant security assistance package that included large amounts of ammunition, and other types of equipment that the Ukrainians have been using very effectively in their fight.

BROWN: And no doubt the administration, the country has given weapons that Ukraine has been asking for.


But specifically, as it relates to F-16s. Has that definitively been taken off the table as part of any future aid package to Ukraine?

SLOAT: So, President Biden spoke clearly about this in terms of where his view is now. We're continuing to work in lockstep with our Ukrainian partners. Chancellor Scholz here today, the president and Chancellor Scholz several weeks ago made an announcement about the decision to provide tanks, continuing to provide security assistance, including the package that we announce around the anniversary with another package today. And what we're focused on right now is ensuring that Ukraine has the equipment that they need for the fight that they're currently engaged in.

BROWN: Right. And I understand what you're saying what the president saying where things stand now as it relates to F-16s. What about future aid packages, has it been taken off the table for that as well?

SLOAT: So, I'm not going to get ahead of where the administration is. And speak about what we might be doing in the future. But what I can say is that the announcement we made today recent leaks and will continue to do is giving the Ukrainians the capabilities that they need.

BROWN: All right. Amanda Sloat, thank you for your time.

SLOAT: Thank you.

BROWN: Up next strong words from a judge as he sentenced Alex Murdaugh to life in prison for the murder of his wife and son.

Plus, what a juror is revealing about the deliberations that took only three hours.

Plus, a party divided. The uproar among Democrats after President Biden seemingly gives Congress a greenlight to interfere with D.C. crime laws since it's not a state.



BROWN: In our national lead, life in prison. That is the new reality Alex Murdaugh is facing after a South Carolina judge sentenced Murdaugh to two life sentences. One for each the murders of his wife, Maggie, and son Paul Murdaugh.

CNN's Randi Kaye is in Walterboro, South Carolina, where the judge delivered an emotional speech before handing down the sentence.


JUDGE CLIFTON NEWMAN, SOUTH CAROLINA CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE: I sentence you for the term of the rest of your natural life.

RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Alex Murdaugh, convicted and given to life sentences for the murder of his wife inside.

NEWMAN: I know you need to see Paul and Maggie during the nighttime, when you're attempting to go to sleep. I'm sure they come and visit you.

ALEX MURDAUGH, CONVICTED MURDERER: All day, and every night.

KAYE: After more than a month in the courtroom, jurors took about three hours Thursday to convict Murdaugh of murder for his wife Maggie and 22-year-old son Paul, who were found fatally shot on the family's property in June 2021.

CRAIG MOYER, JUROR IN ALEX MURDAUGH IN TRIAL: I didn't see any true remorse.

REPORTER: How do you know he wasn't crying?

MOYER: I saw his eyes. I was this close to him.

KAYE: Murdaugh, once a prominent lawyer in the area, took the stand last week in his own emotional defense, maintaining that he found the bodies after returning from a brief visit to his mother that night, despite cell phone video placing him at the scene.

NEWMAN: Remind me of the expression that you gave on the witness stand? Wasn't it, oh, what tangle we weave? What do you mean by that?

MURDAUGH: I meant when I lied, I continue to lie.

KAYE: The defense relied heavily on Murdaugh's opioid addiction to account for his deception and lies about his whereabouts. Something the judge and jury didn't buy.

NEWMAN: We've concluded that you continue to lie, lie, and lie throughout your testimony. You're not credible, not believable.

KAYE: Despite all the circumstantial evidence against him, Murdaugh maintained he was not guilty.

MURDAUGH: I'm innocent. I would never, under any circumstances hurt my wife, Maggie. And I would never under any circumstances hurt my son, Paul-Paul.

NEWMAN: And it may not have been you. It may have been the monster you've become when you take 15, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60 opioid pills.

KAYE: Still, Murdaugh's defense team says they wouldn't have done anything differently.

DICK HARPOOTLIAN, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: He's a liar and thief. And he admitted. That he's not a murderer. We saw a relationship between Paul and Alex, it's just -- it's inexplicable that he would execute his son and his wife in that fashion.

CREIGHTON WATERS, LEAD PROSECUTOR: No one who thought they were close to this man knew who he really was. And, Your Honor, that's chilling.


KAYE (on camera): And, Pamela, during my interview with Alex Murdaugh's defense lawyers, they told me that they do plan to appeal. They have ten days to do so. And the grounds for the appeal they say is the fact that all of these financial crimes were introduced in court. They expected some of them, but certainly not all of them. They believed that really turn the jury and once that happened they thought their best shot was really a mistrial or a hung jury -- Pamela.

BROWN: So, is he going to face other trials for his alleged financial crimes?

KAYE: Yeah. There are 99 other charges, and they certainly spent a lot of time in court speaking about those. The prosecutor talk through a lot of the names, he admitted to a lot of the fraud while he was on the stand. So that certainly should help the state, but he will face trial for that, and he's looking at defrauding cases -- defrauding people nearly $9 million, Pamela.

BROWN: Randi Kaye in Walterboro, South Carolina, thank you, Randi.

Just outside D.C. today, big name Republicans taking the stage and some veiled attacks on Donald Trump without anyone ever saying's name.

We'll be back.



KAYE: Topping our politics lead. Tennessee's Republican Governor Bill Lee has signed a pair of controversial new laws, one bans gender affirming care for minors, despite objections from major medical organizations including the American Medical Association, which it called attempts to criminalize health care for transgender minors a quote, dangerous and legislative intrusion into the practice of medicine.

Also, despite protests, Lee signed a law restricting drag performances in Tennessee. It prohibits specifically showing on public property or locations, where they can be viewed by minors. The drag show law is the first of its kind, but comes as part of a nationwide push from Republicans. Critics say the law on fairly paints the performances as overtly sexual, and targets members of the LGBTQ community.

Also in our politics lead, CPAC's annual conference is underway in National Harbor, Maryland, an event which has historically been a right of passage for Republican presidential hopefuls.

But as CNN's Jeff Zeleny reports, many potential 2024 candidates are skipping this year's conference.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's long been a command performance for Republicans harboring White House ambitions.


ZELENY: But at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington, the parade potential presidential hopefuls is far shorter this year.

Former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley --


HALEY: If you're tired of losing, put your trust in a new generation. And if you want to win, not just as a party but as a country, then stand with me.

ZELENY: And former secretary of state, Mike Pompeo, were among those taking the stage.

MIKE POMPEO (R). FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: We shouldn't look for larger than life personalities, but rather we should find power in the rooms, like this.

ZELENY: But the long running three-day gathering called CPAC is now seen as the Trump show.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: These are my people, this is beautiful.

ZELENY: The former president is set to appear Saturday, joining a sea of loyal supporters and members of his own family --

DONALD TRUMP, JR., SON OF FORMER PRESIDENT TRUMP: Your president, President Donald Trump, will be here.

ZELENY: -- who are rallying to return into office. But other big name contenders who many Republicans see as the party's

future had other plans.

Last year, former Governor Ron DeSantis took to the stage is a rising star.


ZELENY: But as he inches closer to declaring a presidential bid, he attended a gathering of donors in Florida, hosted by Club for Growth, an anti-tax group urging the party to move on from Trump. Several potential rivals also skipped CPAC and headed to Florida, including former Vice President Mike Pence, South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem, and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu.

But adoration for Trump was on full display at CPAC, where Evie Felix took a seat at a resolute desk, against a backdrop of a faux oval office.

EVIE PHILLIPS, CPAC ATTENDEE: Trump first. And then DeSantis, let's do that in '28.

ZELENY: Colleen Hoffman is from Jacksonville, Florida. She wore a DeSantis hat, even as she sported a Trump sticker. She said she's torn but believes Trump is the stronger choice for 2024.

COLLEEN HOFFMAN, CPAC ATTENDEE: I really love this hat because it's like leave us alone, you know? I love it. But as of right now, I'm going to vote for Donald Trump.


ZELENY: Now, this gathering is always a chance for Republicans and conservatives to size up their potential field of candidates. Particularly, when a trying to win back the White House.

But, Pamela, this year's event is so much different, largely because it's focused on nostalgia and celebration of former President Donald Trump. Of course, he arrives here tomorrow trying to make the case that yes, he's the past of the party, but he's also the future of the party. The question, how hard will go after some of his potential rivals to start drawing distinctions between them? Particularly, the Florida governor? That's what CPAC candidates want to see -- Pamela.

BROWN: All right. They'll see it soon. Jeff Zeleny at CPAC, at National Harbor, Maryland, thank you.

While many Democrats are fuming about President Biden's surprise announcement that he would sign a Republican-led bill that would block a Washington, D.C., effort to overhaul the city's criminal code. The president's decision comes after House Democrats rejected the GOP bill last month, by a vote of 173-31, and after Biden previously said that he would oppose the measure.

CNN's Tom Foreman is digging into what's actually in the D.C. crime law for us.

So, Tom, what does this bill actually do, and why are so many lawmakers opposed?

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: OK. This is complicated, but let me make it simple here. D.C. wanted to rewrite its criminal code. It's been around for a long, long time. They spent a whole lot of time working on it and they came up with a new approach that was generally more progressive than punitive. Some of the measures they were talking about there are things that would sort of lessened the mandatory minimum sentences for many crimes that you might run into a doubt there, reduce the maximum sentence of crimes like robbery, and carjacking, and expand the requirements for jury trials and most misdemeanor cases.

Initially, remember, D.C. laws can be overturned to the federal level. Initially, Joe Biden indicated the president that he would back what D.C. wanted to do. But then Republicans started making a lot of noise and said this is soft on crime, we can't have that. And then the president seemed to know about-face.

This is his latest take on what's happening here. He said I support D.C. statehood and home rule, but I don't support some of the changes D.C. Council put forward over the mayor's objection, you might note, such as lowering penalties for carjackings. If the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. just did to rewrite their code, I'll sign it.

And that has created an uproar among Democrats because there are Democrats out there who went on a ledge saying, no, no, we're with the president in opposing the Republicans and now he's not opposing them anymore. So, it seems those Democrats feel that they've been vulnerable, but they can be accused of being soft on crime.

And just as importantly, Democrats are a long, long time, had said D.C. deserves statehood. D.C. should be allowed to make decisions like other places. Some of them see this as a real violation of that, that Joe Biden can't say that I support D.C. having autonomy in theory. But in practice, when it comes to something like this, I will go against what D.C. wants.

Politically, very complicated. Bottom line, this could point to some of the challenges for Democrats dealing with the issue of crime going forward.

BROWN: All right. Tom Foreman, Thank you.


Joining us now is Republican pollster and strategist Kristen Soltis Anderson, along with Ashley Allison, former national coalitions director for the Biden-Harris campaign.

They're both CNN political commentators.

So, hi to you both. So, Ashley, starting with you. As you just heard there from Tom, he

laid it out. Many Democrats are furious at the White House for this move. It exposes those in swing states for Republican attacks about being soft on crime, into the left of Biden. One Democrat telling CNN they, quote, cannot trust the White House.

Was this a misstep for the White House?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think that, you know, the president can do what he wants. But I do -- I do believe fundamentally that this is about an issue of 700,000 people living in the District of Columbia that don't have a representation in the federal government and yet here we are, have Republican senators coming in trying to tell them what their city code should be. It seems counter to how Republicans, obviously they don't want their government.

This is definitely government coming in and big footing a city. I also think that where the White House might have made a misstep is that by taking the bait for Republicans about a soft on crime narrative. Joe Biden has made it very clear that he supports police officers, that he believes in a new vision for public safety which he just laid out in the State of the Union, and allowing people to do criminal justice reform like the D.C. code would be doing in this bill, would be a great opportunity for the president to say "I support new ways to think about public safety".

But instead, several provisions in the bill that the Republicans really double down on, it seems like the White House doesn't want to be on the Republicans talking points. They should be pushing back. We cannot be playing defense about being a soft on crime party, when we really know that what we all want is communities that are about public safety and where people can feel safe in.

BROWN: Kristen, what do you make of Ashley's argument saying Republicans often talk about states rights and local control, yet GOP opposition to the CDC crime bill seemingly flies in the face of that principle?

KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's not just Republicans who oppose these changes, the mayor of D.C. herself does not like these changes. This is not just a case of, it's some outside voices saying one thing, it's clear that this is a big controversial issue with in Washington, D.C. And frankly, it's a huge misstep for those who are advocates of criminal justice reform.

D.C. is in the middle of rising crime, rising carjackings, rising homicides. The fact that city council would take this moment, instead of doing things to actually reduce crime, to do things to be soft on crime puts Democrats in a horrible position, because now, there are going to be Republican ads run all over the country against every single one of those Democratic House members who voted against overturning this policy, making the case that they supported softer penalties.

What in this case was probably smart politics for Joe Biden, assuming he runs for president in 2024, it winds up being really bad politics for those House Democrats. I have no doubt that Republicans are going to feel very strongly that this is a political win for them.

BROWN: And some of these House Democrats, Ashley, saw that President Biden, they thought he would initially support their position on it, in voting against it. Clearly, that is not happening. And Biden is reiterating his support for D.C. statehood, despite announcing his intention to sign this bill overturning the D.C. law.

As we just heard from Kristen, it is true that D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, that she is against it, she vetoed it. But here's what she said about the principle at play here saying, quote, I think what we're all dealing with is the effect of a limited home rule. We know that our legislative process is one that doesn't end with my signature or veto. Until we are the 51st state, we live with that indignity.

So, is the White House choosing politics over principle here, actually?

ALLISON: Well, I think the mayor is right. The real issue is that, again, you have 700,000 people, a lot of them Black and Brown people, who don't have representation in Congress. I also think though, that there were 12 city council members. We have a government, we have veto power, people can override a veto. Those city council members who were also elected by the residents of D.C., overturned a veto.

Now, when their election comes again, all of those individuals will be at the will of the residents in this district to decide whether or not they want to represent them. The unfortunate thing is that while we have someone, Eleanor Holmes Norton, who sits in the House of Representatives, she does not have a vote, and we don't have two senators.

So, I think it is hard to say that you will override what the city council and really the people of Washington, D.C. have decided to do. You also agree with statehood. I think you have to hold a firm line. I also understand the political nature.

My strong recommendation though, is stop getting on the Republican talking points for Democrats to go on offense and talk about what our vision for public safety is.


And I think that is a winning vision that many Americans would fall behind, it would be beneficial in 2024 for the president, congressional members, and Senate folks running, and governors running for that matter.

BROWN: Yeah, speaking of 2024, we saw Nikki Haley there at CPAC, one of the few Republican presidential -- she's announced that she's running. Others we think, are going to be running, like Ron DeSantis. She's attending, but Ron DeSantis and other potential Republicans who want to run for president are not attending.

So what do you make of that? That DeSantis himself, Kristen, has a chosen not to attend CPAC's annual conference. Instead he was at the kickoff speak -- she was the kickoff speaker for the conservative group Club for Growth's event where he was critical of other Republicans. I want to listen what he said and then we'll talk on the other side of it.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): So many Republicans get in and they're like, potted plants. They're scared to do anything, what we say is, we fight the woke across the board, in corporations. We fight the woke in the schools. We fight the woke in the bureaucracy. We never surrender to the woke mob.


BROWN: So clearly leaning into the culture wars. It has worked for DeSantis in Florida, is this a potential winning strategy for him in 2024?

ANDERSON: Republican voters right now want two things. They want someone who's going to find, and they want someone who's going to win. That's what makes Ron DeSantis so interesting to Republican voters, who may like Donald Trump's message and may still think fondly of him, which he was president, but they're open to the idea of turning a page.

I think DeSantis made the right move by not going down to CPAC. CPAC has been, as Kellyanne Conway described in 2017, it's now TPAC. It's true. He's won the straw poll every year since he's been president.

But also, CPAC is not as determinative of who becomes the Republican nominee is. I think some of the rhetoric would suggest, in 2016, it was Ted Cruz who won the straw pill. Donald Trump pulled out of speaking their entirely right before he won the Republican nomination.

You had a bunch of wins from Ron Paul, Rand Paul, a lot of people who never wound up going on to the Republican nominees for president. I think sometimes CPAC has overstated its importance in process. It used to be a great place to hear where lots of different pieces of the conservative movement were thinking about things, have those, inside the tent debates.

But now, it's really a lot about Donald Trump. So I don't blame DeSantis for not going.

BROWN: All right. Kristen and Ashley, thank you.

Will smell of burning rubber lingering for days in a village one Israeli leader said needs to be erased. Now it is the center of conflict, CNN and is there, up next.



BROWN: In our world lead, the village of Huwara has become ground zero in the struggle between Israeli settlers and Palestinians. And today, the United Nations high commissioner for Human Rights says one Israeli official is inciting violence. He is referring to comments from Israel's far-right finance minister who said this week, that Huwara, quote, needs to be erased.

CNN's Hadas Gold goes inside the village of Huwara where a burning smell still lingers after violence erupted this week.


HADAS GOLD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This is the Palestinian village, Israel's far-right finance minister said, needs to be erased. Huwara, where Israeli settlers tried to do just that on Sunday. Revenge attacks after the killings of two Israeli brothers by Palestinian gunmen hours before.

Days later, the smell of burning rubber still lingers in the air. As residents cleanup shattered glass, burnt up cars, blackened buildings, one Palestinian man killed in the ensuing chaos.

Huwara has long been a flash point for violence between Israeli settlers and Palestinians, partly due to the highway that runs through it.

NAHAWAND DAMIDI, HUWARA RESIDENT (through translator): They usually attack us by throwing stones. If we try to defend ourselves, they will use weapons. But last time was different. Wherever you look, there are bullets fired. Fires everywhere.

GOLD: Security cameras outside of residence home show masked settlers gathering flammable material to set this home on fire. The door literally melting.

Ten-year-old Lamar Abu Saris said her room's window was broken by three big stones.

LAMAR ABU SARIS, HUWARA RESIDENT (through translator): Mom hid us in her room and focus to the rooftop to see what was happening. We heard them breaking the windows of the house. We didn't do anything to them.

GOLD: Her two-year-old sister Sawar jumps when she hears a noise outside.

Beep, fire, she whispers. Reference to the car set ablaze that her family's auto repair shop.

Their mother Hana saying her children are traumatized.

HANA ABU SARIS, HUWARA RESIDENT (through translator): They burned the cars and shot three bullets towards me and were screaming death to Arabs.

GOLD: A few days later, that phrase, wipeout Huwara, echoed by the Israeli finance minister and settler leader Bezalel Smotrich.

BEZALEL SMOTRICH, ISRAELI FINANCE MINISTER (through translator): I think the village of who are on needs to be erased. I think that the state of Israel needs to do this and god forbid not private people.

GOLD: Smotrich later tweeting he didn't need it, and only wants to quote, act in a target manner across the terrorists and supporters of terrorism.

At least a dozen settlers have been erected according to Israeli police, there is now a heavy military presence in town. Israeli soldiers telling her team to stop filming because it's a closed military zone. Israeli authorities still search for the gunman who killed two Israeli brothers. Keep Israeli settlers on town.


GOLD (on camera): And Huwara has actually sort of become a rallying cry also for those Israeli protesters who've been taking to the streets over the past eight to nine weeks to protest against the government's planned judicial overhaul. In fact, on protests on Wednesday, they got a little violent. Protesters were shouting at the heavy police presence there, where were you in Huwara, essentially referencing, how come they were out there for a protest but didn't -- but seemingly were not there and who are on Sunday to prevent this violence. Some good news, there has been a crowd funding campaign for the voters in Huwara started by Israeli activists, they have raised $500,000 -- Pam.

BROWN: Hadas Gold, thank you.

Worse than hell, bodies scattered and a war hero who braved the elements and enemy fire to save lives. The hero's welcome today for that Vietnam that.

But first, a look at the new CNN film premiering this Sunday night called "Glitch: The Rise and Fall of HQ Trivia". Take a look.


UNKNOWN: I'm working with these guys who started Vine and they want to do this trivia show on an app. To me, I didn't have high hopes for it.

UNKNOWN: This is HQ. I'm Scott, the host.

UNKNOWN: HQ Trivia was everywhere.

UNKNOWN: You could actually win real money.

UNKNOWN: It just kept getting bigger.

UNKNOWN: Bigger prizes, bigger celebrities.

UNKNOWN: People dressed for Halloween.

UNKNOWN: I was doing "Today Show", Colbert.

UNKNOWN: We've had a Super Bowl commercial.

UNKNOWN: This company is going to make at least $100 million. UNKNOWN: It just got so popular. An app is not ready to work with too

many people on. It

UNKNOWN: Freeze, disconnection, and error.

UNKNOWN: And it crashes.

UNKNOWN: That's when the crack started showing.

UNKNOWN: Colin and Rus started as cofounders but both competing to be the CEO.

UNKNOWN: When you have a lack of trust between the two people running the company, it leads to chaos.

UNKNOWN: You had HQ imitators.

UNKNOWN: Were in trouble.

UNKNOWN: Will Facebook copy this? They did.

UNKNOWN: There was some jealousy. I was the face of the product he created.

UNKNOWN: I am a god!

UNKNOWN: Working day and night, really grueling hours.

UNKNOWN: So, what did they do? They got drunk.

UNKNOWN: At the end of this, someone lost their life.

UNKNOWN: Why don't we grab lunch and do this after lunch?

ANNOUNCER: "Glitch: The Rise and Fall of HQ Trivia". Sunday at 9:00, on CNN.



BROWN: Also in our politics lead, today, President Biden awarded the Medal of Honor to retired colonel, Paris Davis, for heroism while fighting in the Vietnam War. Paris was one of the first Black Special Forces officers. He was wounded several times during a major battle, yet still managed to pull American soldiers to safety while continuing to fight.

CNN's Oren Liebermann tells his story.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The early morning patrol behind many lines on June 18th, 1965 fell apart quickly. Captain Paris Davis and his men were leading a team of inexperience South Vietnamese when they came under waves of attack. COL. PARIS DAVIS (RET.), MEDAL OF HONOR RECIPIENT: There was a place

on that battlefield. There are so many bodies, you couldn't see the grass.

LIEBERMANN: What kept you going in that fight?

DAVIS: Others. I'll tell you, I don't even remember the first couple of times a guy shot dead.

LIEBERMANN: Davis, was in that fight for 19 hours.

DAVIS: The Vietcong had a good range like we did. We are right across them.

LIEBERMANN: He later recounted the battle of "The Phil Donahue Show". We called in artillery fire, fought the enemy and rescue through his fellow soldiers, including this man, Billy Wa (ph).

DAVIS: I went out there and try to put him out. He was on a lot of muck and I couldn't get him out. He was tied up in some binds. He got shot, again and I got right here on the arm.

LIEBERMANN: By the Time Ron Deis arrived overhead in a small observation airplane, he says it look like all hell had broken loose. Deis was shot down, then picked up the story in bits and pieces from one of his men back at camp.

RON DEIS, SERVED WITH DAVIS: He told me that he thought that Captain Davis should receive the Medal of Honor for the heroism that he exhibited that day.

LIEBERMANN: He said this back then.

DEIS: He told me that evening.

LIEBERMANN: Davis did receive an award for that day, the Silver Star. But to the man who saw him in combat, it wasn't enough. Fifty-eight years later, that recognition is finally happening.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This, Secretary, may be the most consequential day since I've been president.

LIEBERMANN: Paris Davis, one of the first Black Special Forces officers, received the Medal of Honor, the nation's highest award for valor.

He never liked being called a hero, but there is no denying it now.

BIDEN: This year, we celebrate the 75th anniversary of our first fully integrated armed forces. And name Paris Davis will stand alongside the nation's pioneering heroes.

LIEBERMANN: Davis says to receive the Medal of Honor is nothing short of a dream.

DAVIS: It's my day to say thank you to all America for allowing me to be in the military, I'm serious about the B.S. -- allowed me to serve the country. And the country has been pretty damn good to me.


LIEBERMANN: Davis is one of only four service members in U.S. military history to have earned the Medal of Honor and the Soldiers Medal.

Pam, it was an absolute privilege to be able to put together that story and to meet Colonel Paris Davis, who remained in the military for 20 years after the day for what he would earn the Medal of Honor.


BROWN: What an inspiration, so well deserved.

Oren Liebermann, thank you.

Well, a Florida man's smartphone helped save his life. From body cam video, you can see the man's car upside down in the canal. This was Wednesday in Martin County, north of West Palm Beach. Deputies say the driver swerved to avoid an animal. He never called for help, instead his phone sent his coordinates to 911. And dispatchers tracked him down.

Deputies were able to jump in the water and pulled a man out. Rescuers took him to the hospital, and he's expected to be okay.

Well, Sunday on the "STATE OF THE UNION", House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries, New York City Mayor Eric Adams, and former Governor Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas. That's Sunday morning at nine eastern and again at noon right here on CNN.

I'm Pamela Brown, in for Jake Tapper on this Friday.

Brianna Keilar is up next in "THE SITUATION ROOM". Have a great weekend.