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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Tonight: Biden To Press For Billions In Aid For Ukraine, Israel; In Rare Move, Egypt Allows Protests In Support Of Palestinians; Pentagon: U.S. Navy Warship Shoots Down Missiles And Several Drones That Were Launched From Yemen; Jordan Resisting Calls To Drop Bid For Speaker; Jordan Resisting Calls To Drop Bid For Speaker; Ex-Trump Lawyer Flips, Pleads Guilty In Georgia Election Case; New Information In Hospital Blast. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 19, 2023 - 16:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In just a few hours, President Biden will address the nation in only his second ever Oval Office address. His goal is to convince the American people that it would be important to spend $100 billion of their tax dollars, the majority of which would help Israel and Ukraine.

The bottom line, sources tell CNN, is that President Biden will not only try to make an argument about the immorality of what Russia's Vladimir Putin, and the terrorist group Hamas has done, but that the costs of U.S. inaction, have not supporting Israel and Ukraine, would be harmful to U.S. national security.

President Biden arrived back at the U.S. early this morning, after roughly seven hours on the ground in Tel Aviv. President Biden says he pressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu there, on Israel's plans for the next phase of the war. And he said, as he worked to secure promises, from the Israelis, for humanitarian aid for the innocence in Gaza.

The White House says this evening, President Biden will also speak about trying to bolster the Ukrainian military even further. Ukraine, where recently delivered U.S. weapons systems have led to some of the most significant strikes against Russian forces, in the last few days.

But, it's not just the public that President Biden needs to convince, it's also, frankly, some on Capitol Hill after House Republicans, once again woke up this morning, and it shows incompetence. It's not clear that any aid package can get through Congress, given that there remains no speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives for two weeks in a row.

The Republican speaker designate today, Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, still does not have the votes. In fact, he seems to be losing support even further. And, we're told that today's Republican meeting behind closed doors devolved into shouting and cursing at each other. It's a staggering display of self regard, and immaturity from House Republicans, while not only American allies, but Americans are being killed abroad.

CNN is learning that Congressman Jordan is now hoping for yet another vote, on his nomination for speaker tonight. We'll have more on that in a moment.

But let's start in Israel with CNN's Kaitlan Collins, who's in Tel Aviv for us.

Kaitlan, why has President Biden decided now is the right time, for this speech?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, he is about to ask the American public for billions of dollars of aid to other countries, notably here in Israel of course, where he just spent a whirlwind seven or eight hours on the ground, meeting with the newly formed wartime cabinet, as Israel is preparing for its next steps in this war. And the president has vowed time and time again since that attack to support them. But he's also going to be tying this address tonight, and into what is happening in Ukraine. Also warning about what could happen in Taiwan, and of course, also mentioning something that Republicans have repeatedly brought up, while saying that they don't support sending war more aid to Ukraine, and that's the U.S. southern border, fortifying that as well.

So, all of these are going to be pieces that you see the president tie into his address tonight. And it's something that you don't often see. He has only spoken to the nation, from the Resolute Desk in the Oval Office twice, since taking office. He did so around the debt deal negotiations over the summer. And, he is going to do so again, tonight because he's about to ask Congress for hundreds, or for tens of billions of dollars, ten billion specifically for Israel, Jake, in trying to send this message to them, that is important to stand for democracies abroad, ones that are coming under threat, now that could come under threat in the future, and tying this all back to why it matters, to Americans.

And we've seen strong support from Americans, when you look at the poll numbers, when it comes to Israel. But it has been slipping when it comes to Ukraine. And the president actually just got off the phone with President Zelenskyy. So, that is kind of how he is tying up his trip that he made here to Israel where I should note, the president did not get everything he wanted.

Yes, we are expecting to see aid go from Egypt into Gaza, something that has been desperately needed. The president did not secure an agreement to have civilians who are in Gaza, including Americans, I should note, be able to get out. But it is part of an effort that he felt this trip was important, and he will be tying that into the address tonight, from the oval office.

TAPPER: You also have some new reporting, I'm told, about conversations that President Biden had directly with members of Israel's war cabinet. And it turns out that some of them were interested in House Republicans' inability to agree upon a speaker.

COLLINS: Yeah, it's kind of hard to think about, but the president is here, in this war torn country, even in Tel Aviv where the president was just a few moments ago, sirens were going off.


They had the Iron Dome intercept another missile, from the sky. Obviously, something that is a pretty regular occurrence here in Tel Aviv, and it certainly has been since October 7th. And the president and the prime minister of Israel, and the new wartime cabinet, they are all sitting in this ball room in the basement of a hotel, that doubles as a bunker. I should note, you don't go anywhere when the sirens go off there because it's essentially already a bomb shelter.

And the chaos that is happening on Capitol Hill got brought up, Jake. They were asking the president about this, they were talking all was happening, as Jim Jordan was losing that vote, that y'all were discussing yesterday again, and he still could not get the votes, because it affects what the president is going to ask Congress for tonight, which is all of these tens of billions of dollars in aid.

He can ask all he wants, but until the House actually gets a speaker, or empowers the temporary speaker, they can't get that aid passed. And, it is completely frozen. And so, it is something that is even a concern here in Israel.

And the president brought it up. He talked about it, lamented it. He did make assurances that he thinks in the long run, it is not going to stand in the way of Israel, ultimately getting that aid. But it's just notable, Jake, that it was even brought up at, all during this trip.

TAPPER: Yeah, Kaitlan Collins in Tel Aviv, thanks so much.

Let's go now to CNN's Ben Wedeman, who is in southern Israel for us.

And, Ben, we're finally seeing some images of repairs being made to the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza, that's a crossing into Egypt. Egyptian officials and President Biden predicting that it will be open tomorrow.

How likely is that actually looking?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we understand, from people on the ground in Rafah, that they are at the moment working to repair the road between the Egyptian side and the Palestinian side, at Rafah, that of course has been damaged as a result of Israeli bombing.

And they do believe that it will be ready for aid trucks to start moving in. We understand that those trucks, full of aid, that have assembled in El Arish (ph), which is to the west of Rafah, are preparing to move. So it does appear that at this point, it will go ahead, exactly what time on Friday, we don't know.

But we also know that trucks are already at the Rafah crossing. They are handing out, numbers so that everybody knows what numbers they are going in. And, they have already handed out, according to our source on this, 25 numbers. But, we understand in total, there are hundreds of trucks waiting, to go in. TAPPER: And, the leader of Egypt, El Sisi, he also called on the

Egyptian public to get out on the streets, and protest, in solidarity with the Palestinian people.

How unusual is that, to have a demonstration on the streets of Egypt?

WEDEMAN: Well, it's in response to a call from President Sisi. It looks like all of the usual bureaucratic hurdles have been wiped away. We understand that state supported political parties, trade unions, and other organizations have very quickly received their permission to hold protests in Egypt. Since Sisi came to power, ten years ago, it has been strictly forbidden, any sort of unauthorized protest is strictly forbidden, and oftentimes brutally suppressed by the security forces.

But in this instance, it looks like it's a go ahead. Now, he said when meeting with Olaf Scholz, the German chancellor yesterday in Cairo, that you will see millions of Egyptians come out in support of the Egyptian position. And it is important to stress, what exactly is the Egyptian position?

The Egyptians have been adamantly opposed to any idea of Palestinians from Gaza coming into Egypt. You have to remember that there is a deep feeling, that when Palestinians are forced, or flee from their homes, by the Israelis, oftentimes they are never allowed back.

So this is really a red line for the Egyptians. And of course, these protests will be also an opportunity for the Egyptians to show their support for President Sisi's position.

Keep in mind, however, that there is always a worry in Egypt when you have a large group of people out demonstrating, some might step outside of the bounds placed by the government, and perhaps stress some unhappiness with the rule of President Sisi. And, we expect by a large, many people to come out in the streets of Egypt, to protest tomorrow, Jake.

TAPPER: Maybe it will remind people that the blockade against Gaza is not only Israel's, it's Egypt's.

Ben Wedeman in southern Lebanon, thanks so much. Appreciate.

Breaking news now from the Pentagon, U.S. officials say a U.S. Navy destroyer operating in the Middle East has shut down multiple missiles and drones off of the coast of Yemen. The Pentagon is not sure exactly where those missiles or drones were headed, but says it was, quote, potentially towards targets in Israel.

Let's bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann.

Oren, what are you hearing from Pentagon officials?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we now understand that the USS Carney, a navy destroyer, was operating in the Red Sea, having just passed south through the Suez Canal, when intercepted three cruise missiles, and several drones, according to U.S. officials, which the Pentagon of confirmed just a short time ago.

According to the Pentagon, it was Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen who launched this attack, and it wasn't targeting the destroyer itself. Instead, the Pentagon says it was heading north along the Red Sea, towards Israel, and while they don't say definitively that that was the target of the attack.

The Pentagon insists that the U.S. will continue to act in this way, if it sees others trying to get involved in this war in any way. And that it will continue to defend both itself, U.S. interests, and its partners. It's worth noting, this isn't the only hot spot right now, outside of Gaza, in the Middle East. There have been a series of drone attack attacks on U.S. and coalition forces in Iraq.

Both two days ago, there are several drone attacks, one of which caused wider injuries to forces. And the second series of attacks yesterday, also caused minor injuries. The Pentagon noting that during one of the alarms, because of a suspected threat, a U.S. contractor had a cardiac episode, and died as a result of that.

So this is what the Pentagon and the Biden administration trying to watch very closely, to try to prevent this from becoming a regional conflict, even as you see protests across the Middle East, directed at both the U.S. and Israel. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin held a number of calls with both Israeli counterparts, and Arab leaders first, saying that Israel -- that the U.S. will continue to back Israel, but also defending and ensuring that the safeguarding of civilian lives was, important for everybody here, Jake.

But obviously, a very tense situation, as the conflict certainly looks like it is heading towards a regional expansion.

TAPPER: All right. Oren Liebermann at the Pentagon for us, thanks so much.

Devastating news today about two of the hostages kidnapped by Hamas. An 80-year-old Israeli American woman and her teenage granddaughter were killed, their bodies were found. I want to talk with their cousin, next.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: We have a terrible update for you right now on five family members who were all kidnapped by Hamas, 12 days ago from their home. They were kidnapped, obviously, October 7th in Nir Oz. That's a kibbutz in southern Israel, just a few miles from the border with Gaza.

You might remember that we talked to one of their relatives, Abbey Onn, two Mondays ago. And sadly, the bodies of two of the five, Abbey's cousin, eight-year-old Carmela Dan, an Israeli American, and Carmela's granddaughter, 13-year-old Noya Kalderon, their bodies were just found. They were killed.

There is still no word on the three other Israeli citizens, from the family, that are missing. Carmela's son-in-law and Noya's father, Ofer Kalderon, and Noya's siblings Sahar and Erez.

Joining us now is Abbey Onn, back with us.

And, Abbey, I mean, you know, when we do these interviews, we always obviously hope that you'll come back with great news, and that's not the case, with at least two of the five. And, I'm so sorry, I'm so sorry about the loss of your cousin, Carmella, and her granddaughter Noya.

It's a stupid question.


TAPPER: It's a stupid question, but how are you doing? How is the rest of the family doing? You are hearing this awful news, and then you also are worried about Ofer and Sahar and Erez.

ONN: You know, we celebrated Carmela's 80th birthday on Tuesday. We worked together as a family to have each other and to bring each other's strength. And, we blessed her, believing that she heard us, thinking that she was alive. You know, the last message they sent to one another, they were saying goodbye to each other, her daughters were saying goodbye, they feared they would make it and Carmela was the one to say them, don't say goodbye, stay strong. We're going to survive this.

And, I think those messages created hope for us that she was alive, and well. And for us now, I can't imagine the night mirror got worse, but it did. We not only now have two of them that have been murdered by Hamas, but we are still fighting for three of them.

There are so many Israelis in the last 12 days that have lost people, have people missing, have people serving or killed. And, we can't grieve in peace, because we have to continue to fight.

TAPPER: How do you feel about how the Israeli government has responded, to the terrorist attack on October 7th so far?

ONN: I feel, from the point of view of some of the family members missing, that, I isolated, it took a very long time for the families to hear. It took almost nine days for us to get confirmation of them being kidnapped. And then, to find out two days after that, that Carmela and Noya had been murdered.

But, as someone with a larger understanding of what the country is dealing with, I understand the massive dilemma, and the massive challenge that they are facing. The numbers now are looking like 1,600 or 1,700 people murdered by Hamas. And to catalog, and identify that number of bodies, I don't know any government, or anyone that would be ready for something like that.


When President Biden was in Tel Aviv yesterday, he met with some of the families. He had a lot of messages for the people of Israel, including that the U.S. stands firmly with Israel.

One of the other things he said was that one of the lessons from 9/11, and I know that proportionally, this is much worse than 9/11, proportionally this is like --

ONN: Yes.

TAPPER: -- 40,000 people killed, in Israel, in terms of how big your country is versus how big our country is.

ONN: Correct.

TAPPER: But he said one of the lessons from 9/11 is for you to learn from, for Israel to learn from is don't be consumed by rage. And I know that's got to be a difficult message to hear, but I wonder -- I wonder how -- I wonder how that landed with you?

ONN: It lands with me, because for the first time in 12 days, I sat with my children this morning, and I explained to them that we lost people, that they were dead, and are no longer hostages.


And we had to finally explain to them that we are at war, and that people infiltrated our border to murder and brutalize citizens here. And that two of our family members were dead. And they asked so many questions, but why would someone do that? Why take them, or why kill them?

And at the end of the conversation, we said to them, we don't hate anyone. We are not dealing with rage right now. We are dealing with hope, and we're fighting. And, I believe that's the only choice right now, and, the only thing that we can tell our children.

TAPPER: What do you want -- what do you want us to know about your loved ones, who you lost? I think I saw an image of your cousin's granddaughter, and she was a fan of Harry Potter. What should --

ONN: She was.

TAPPER: What should we remember? What -- if there's one thing we should -- we should take away, and just remember forever from this interview, what do you want us to remember about your cousin, and her granddaughter?

ONN: Carmela was in the worst moments, the strongest person we knew. And Noya and her love of Harry Potter, believed in magic. And I have to believe that the combination of strength and magic, and the fact that they had the strongest of relationships until the end, gives us some solace, knowing that their togetherness, that what Biden also said in his speech and in his visit, that we have to stand against terror, that we have to fight for the civilians that are still being held hostage, and that we have to use our voices, whether that means speaking to elected officials, demanding that this remains the top priority. This is what we want.

TAPPER: Abbey, I'm so sorry.

ONN: Thank you.

TAPPER: We are so sorry. We are so sorry.

ONN: We're still fighting.

TAPPER: May Carmela and Noya's -- may their memory be a blessing.

ONN: Thank you.

TAPPER: We will remember Carmela's strength, and we will remember Noya's love of magic, and her belief in magic.

ONN: Thank you so much.

TAPPER: We'll be right back.



TAPPER: We'll have much more ahead on the Israel-Hamas War, but the aid package that President Biden is going to pitch to the American people tonight, cannot actually pass Congress, because there's not a House speaker.

And right now on Capitol Hill, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, in his effort to bully his way into the House speaker's chamber, has run into the reality that he doesn't have the votes.

But that does not mean that he's giving up, not having the votes has never stop Mr. Jordan before. Remember, he did not give up when Donald Trump lost the 2020 election. He was a major player in the conspiracy to overturn the will of people and keep Trump in office. Nor are his supporters giving up, some of them even going so far as to threaten the Republicans, and their spouses, if those Republicans voted against Jordan's grab for the speaker's gavel.

Congresswoman Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa said in a statement that she has, quote, received credible death threats and a barrage of threatening calls after flipping her speaker vote from Jordan on Tuesday for House Appropriations Chairwoman Kate Granger on Wednesday.

Congressman Steve Womack of Arkansas said his office has been flooded with calls, and there has been, quote, lots of profanity.

And Nebraska Congressman Don Bacon's wife received menacing text messages.

Jordan, on X, formerly known as Twitter, has come out and said, quote: No American should accost another for their beliefs. We condemn all threats against our colleagues, and it is imperative that we come together. Stop. It's abhorrent.

He said that yesterday, last night. Of course, the campaign to pressure people was announced on I think Saturday night or Sunday morning. He came out yesterday.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is on Capitol Hill.

Melanie, after all of this, somehow for some reason, Congressman Jordan announced that he's -- he's going to hold a third vote for speaker? He's still trying?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yeah, well, Jim Jordan's new plan is actually the same as his old plan, which is that he's going to try to win over his opposition, and potentially fight this thing out on the floor, even though it's clear he's nowhere near having the votes it's going to take to become the speaker.

Actually, initially, earlier today, he initially rallied around a resolution that would have temporarily empowered interim Speaker Patrick McHenry. This was an idea that in his mind could have given him more time to try to build support, rally around his candidacy, and take away the chaos of a speaker-less House. But, he quickly abandoned that plan when he got blow back from his own conservative supporters about that idea during a closed-door meeting. We caught up with him after that meeting.

Here's what he had to say.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I'm still running for speaker, and I plan to go to the floor, and get the votes, and win this race. But I want to go talk with a few of my colleagues. Particularly, I want to talk with the 20 individuals who voted against me, so that we can move forward, and begin to work for the American people.


ZANONA: Now, Jordan is currently huddled with some of those holdouts in a meeting right behind me. Kevin McCarthy, the former speaker, is also in there, as well as Patrick McHenry.

But just to give you a sense of the uphill climb he is facing, I am told, Jake, that some of the holdouts are refusing to meet with him, or even take Jim Jordan's calls. And one of the reasons why they are so upset is because of those death threats that you mentioned. A number of these holdouts are getting angry calls, menacing messages, death threats.

I'm told that one of those members who voted against Jim Jordan had to have a sheriff station at his daughter's school because of these threats that this person is getting.

So just to give you a flavor of how tense things are inside the Republican Party today, there is also a conference meeting earlier, where we were told there was screaming, there was some profanity-laced rants against one another. So, Republicans are really scrambling right now, to come up with the solution.

At this point, Jake, though, no consensus, no speaker, and no ability to govern.

TAPPER: This pressure campaign was announced over the weekend. He didn't say anything publicly to call off the dogs until last night, Melanie.

ZANONA: And, that is why some members are so upset. Because, they said he could have done way more, to try to stand these conservative attacks down. Remember, some of these conservative media figures and leaders were posting office numbers, and encouraging people to go after these numbers, and let them know how they feel.

So, that is why there's just so much emotions right, now and where the feelings are so raw inside the Republican conference, Jake.

TAPPER: If only there is something in his conference that he would stand by, and look away when bad things were going on.

CNN's Melanie Zanona on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

CNN's Jamie Gangel is here, and has been working with resources, he joins me now.

What are you hearing about the House speaker fight?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, I just want to say, this dysfunction has now become death threats. We have been sitting here for 13 days now and this is just extraordinary. But let me suggest this, different people have different agendas. And, Melanie talked about Kevin McCarthy being in that meeting.

I want to show you two pictures. One is that I am told by my sources that Kevin McCarthy's office wouldn't let them take his name off of the speaker's door. I think we have a picture of, it's still right up there.

TAPPER: He's not the speaker of the House though.

GANGEL: He is not the speaker of the House.

Number two, if you look on the official website. If you look on the official website, for, Kevin McCarthy is still listed as speaker of the House.

TAPPER: Is that even legal?

GANGEL: So bottom line, possession is nine tenths of the law.

Bottom line, as long as there isn't a speaker --


GANGEL: -- even though Patrick McHenry is speaker pro tem --

TAPPER: Right.

GANGEL: -- Kevin McCarthy is using that office, I would argue, he is still in charge. And, I am told that his team is supposedly held helping Jim Jordan, with this great strategy, going towards a third vote. We are told the numbers are likely to get worse for Jim Jordan. I am not sure that Kevin McCarthy is acting in Jim Jordan's best interests.

It seems, my sources, say that he is just holding on to this, the sign, and the listing at

TAPPER: And we've also heard Congressman Tom Massie say something earlier today, about how he didn't think Congressman Steve Scalise was acting in Jim Jordan's best interest.

So, I mean, you have a lot of people here that are not helping Jim Jordan. Right now, in this closed-door meeting, I have been told that some of these holdouts are telling Jim Jordan, it's over.

GANGEL: Right.

TAPPER: We'll see if Jim Jordan is even capable of hearing that.

GANGEL: Correct.

TAPPER: I'm not quite sure that he is.

GANGEL: Correct.

And Melanie reported, I think yesterday, that the opponents to Jim Jordan were actually keeping no votes in their back pocket.

TAPPER: To make it look like it was going to get, worse and, worse and worse?

GANGEL: Exactly, exactly.

TAPPER: That he was eroding.

GANGEL: Correct.

TAPPER: Oh boy.

All right. Jamie Gangel, thanks so much.

Coming up, a surprise guilty plea in the Georgia election subversion case. That could have a big impact on Donald Trump, and that story is next.



TAPPER: A major development in Donald Trump's legal troubles today requires us to take a step back in time. Let's go back to mid-November 2020, Trump's attorney Sidney Powell promised she would produced vast troves of nonexistent proof that Trump won the election. I am going to release the kraken, she said, in a reference to "Clash of the Titans", on Fox Business, to no pushback.

No kraken was ever produced, because no kraken exists. And the kraken- less Ms. Powell today pleaded guilty in the election subversion case in Fulton County, Georgia.

As CNN's Paula Reid reports for us now, Powell's plea could impact Donald Trump and the other kraken-less codefendants.


DAYSHA YOUNG, FULTON COUNTY PROSECUTOR: How do you plead to the six counts of conspiracy to commit intentional interference of performance of election duties?


PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Former Trump Attorney Sidney Powell appeared in a Georgia courtroom this morning, the second person to plead guilty in the sprawling case over efforts to overturn the 2020 election in that state.

YOUNG: Do you understand that by not pleading guilty, you are giving up the right to trial by jury?


REID: As part of the deal, Powell will admit her role in the January 2021 breach of voting systems, in rural Coffee County, Georgia, be required to write an apology letter to the citizens of the state, and pay nearly $9,000 in restitution, and finds, as well as turn over documents.

But, she is not expected to face jail time. Prosecutors are recommending a sentence of six years, probation.

One name that did not come up at Thursday's hearing, her codefendant, Donald Trump. The deal is the first by a member of his inner circles.

POWELL: I am going to release the kraken.

REID: Powell was among the most vocal of his lawyers in pushing outlandish claims about the election, including that millions of votes were flipped in a global scheme against Trump.


POWELL: There should never be another election conducted in this country, I don't care if it's for a local dog catcher, using a Dominion machine.

REID: Repeating those conspiracy theories eventually proved too much even for Trump, and she was ousted from his team. And, her plea raises new questions about a deal in the federal election subversion case. Trump is the only individual charged in that indictment, but Powell

has been identified by CNN as one of the sixth coconspirators listed by special counsel Jack Smith, who has signaled other people could be charged.

JACK SMITH, SPECIAL COUNSEL PROSECUTING TRUMP: The Department of Justice has remained committed, to ensuring accountability, for those criminally responsible for what happened that day.


REID (on camera): That federal trial is scheduled to begin in March, and it's unclear if anyone else will be charged in this case, or if Powell would even be interested in a deal with federal prosecutors. But, Jake, to give you a sense of just how quickly something like this can come about, we have learned that this deal was arranged in about the last 24 hours.

TAPPER: Oh, interesting.

Paula, stick with us.

I want to bring in now Michael Moore, a former U.S. attorney in Georgia.

I want to play what Sidney Powell said, again, just because it's just days after the 2020 election.


POWELL: We are not going to be intimidated. We are not going to back down. We are going to clean this mess up now. President Trump won by a landslide, we are going to prove it. And, we are going to reclaim the United States of America, for the people who vote for freedom.


TAPPER: Okay, so that's not true, all of that lies. And, that video was tweeted by the Republican National Committee, that tweet is still up, I just checked. It's still up at the RNC. She was spreading lies, many Americans still believe.

What is the significance of her pleading guilty?

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm glad to be with you.

Having a plea in a criminal case is always a big deal for the prosecutor, and it's really one of the biggest weapons they have, because it helps people decide to cooperate, and tell the truth about other codefendants. And so here, remember that her conduct is really pretty limited in the Georgia indictment. It dealt with the Coffee County case, and whether or not there is access to the voting machines.

So, I don't know, from the grand scheme of things that this is the kind of thing that's going to be the silver bullet to take down the -- Trump --


TAPPER: The big lie, right.

MOORE: But you just heard her inner circle, this is the first of the inner circle that Paula reported on. And what's interesting here is that it's sort of a bit anticlimactic to see a plea to a misdemeanor in case that's been touted as the largest, you know, election case in history, and they had all the ceremonial bringing people in and having them turn themselves in at the jail. And, then to come away with a misdemeanor, if she completes the probation, that means that essentially, she has no record at all.

And I mean -- she can still vote, she's not a convicted felon, despite the fact that this is an election case. So I -- you know, we will see what the prosecutors have gotten out of it, and I know that she's going to cooperate. She's got to tell the truth as she goes forward, not a really big acts to hang over.

I think the really big question is going to be what does she do for Jack Smith in the case? I think this is one that you know, it's sort of may be useful, and it maybe not, as it comes to Trump and Georgia.

TAPPER: So, Paula, her deal includes six years probation, testify at future trials, apology letter to Georgia citizens, $9,000 in restitution fines, turns over documents. She was facing seven charges, including violations of Georgia racketeering act, a conspiracy to commit election fraud. Is it surprising that she doesn't face jail time here? It does seem like this is a slap in the rest.

REID: It is a slap on the wrist, but that's what you get when you are second in line and agree to plea, right? This is good for prosecutors, it's great for her. But ultimately, it is giving prosecutors the ability to claim a win. This is the first member of Trump's now former inner circle to agree to a plea.

So, this is something that they would absolutely want, as opposed to having to put on a trial for five months, this complicated RICO case. We've been watching the hearings. It's not clear how successful they are going to be in this first -- in this first trial. So, for prosecutors, it's a win. And what does she get in return? A slap on the wrist.

TAPPER: Interesting. What does this mean for Donald Trump, if anything, Michael?

MOORE: Well, I mean, it's starting to chip away at the wall that he builds around himself. I mean, that's what he's known for, sort of putting somebody between him in the jailhouse, or him and the guilty verdict or the judge. But -- so, it is a little bit, I think from a psychological as you get it from there, but I don't know what it will mean in the state case against him. I don't think there will be a whole lot of testimony that she has to offer.

But I think in the federal case, she might give more information about what happened in those interior meetings at the White House. And, I think that's where it's going to be important.

TAPPER: Interesting. Paula Reid, Michael Moore, thanks to both of you.

New intelligence, and new estimates, of how many people were killed in that blast outside of the hospital in Gaza, the one that President Biden says was actually the responsibility of the Palestinians. That story, next.



TAPPER: We're back.

And in addition to the conclusion of U.S. intelligence that it was a misfired Palestinian rocket, not the Israelis, that caused the explosion of the Gaza hospital on Tuesday, CNN just got its hands on classified U.S. intelligence, that shows the hospital blast in Gaza killed somewhere between 100 and 300 people, which contradicts the initial Palestinian health officials claims that 471 people were killed.

A reminder that the Palestinian health ministry is controlled by Hamas.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is here at the magic wall to walk us through the latest evidence.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, this is, of course, a horrific strike.

We've now seen the unclassified intelligence assessment that was put out by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, about the strike at Ahli Baptist Hospital.

This is some of what went into the assessment.


It's an analysis that echoes, as you said, what Israel has said, that Israel is not responsible. And, they base that on several different intelligence streams, and they say that some Palestinian militants inside Gaza do suspect that it was the militant group Palestinian Islamic jihad, and then a rocket from inside Gaza caused limited structural damage, but did kill hundreds of people.

The Israeli military has also argued that the damage that was done on the ground, is not consistent with airstrikes from the Israeli air force. They also claimed to have interests of the calls between Hamas operatives, which there say talk about a misfire, from Islamic jihad. Now, we heard those calls, we cannot verify them.

So, what do we know now, what have we seen? This is the area that we are talking about, northern Gaza right here. This is the hospital right here, in the middle of northern Gaza.

Remember, Israel told everyone to leave the north, and head to the south. But so many Palestinians can't, or they don't want to, because they have seen what the Gazans in the south are going through, and that they are not faring very well.

Now, I want to show you some of the video that we have. This is the most dramatic video of the explosion that we have seen. Take a listen.


MARQUARDT: You hear that loud rouge, followed by that massive explosion. We have geolocated the sight of that blast to the hospital. But, from this clip, and from this sound, experts tell us that we can't glean too much about what that projectile is except that it caused that huge explosion.

This is another piece of video, it is a key piece of evidence. Just before 7:00 p.m., Al Jazeera news caught this on an east facing camera. You can see that light in the sky. We have determined that this was a rocket that was fired from the ground, south of Gaza City, and then exploding high above Gaza City.

CNN military analyst Cedric Leighton says this is consistent with a malfunctioning rocket. And then, just around six seconds later, an explosion was seen on the ground. The camera is going to pan down right there.

We can't say that that rocket in the sky is related to that explosion on the ground. But, we have a geolocated, again, that explosion to the site of the hospital, in Gaza City.

Now, eye witnesses have described bodies, and parts of bodies strewn all over the strike site. The health ministry, which is controlled by Hamas, claims that almost 500 Gazans were killed. A new U.S. intelligence assessment today says that that number is lower, closer to 100 to 300. They still call it a staggering death toll.

And then, there was this extraordinary press conference. Doctors at the hospital, surrounded, as you can see here, by the dead, and the injured.

We have seen all kinds of charred vehicles, strewn across the parking lot of the hospital. We have seen damage to buildings, you can see these windows have been blown out. But, nothing that we have seen has been leveled. We have seen belongs everywhere, blood on the ground, but experts who have look at this damage say, this does not look like an Israeli airstrike.

We also have this new video, exclusive, just into CNN, we are showing it to you for the first time, of this crater in the parking lot, which appears to be where the projectile struck. It is, as you can see, relatively small.

And again, experts say that in a crater this size, it is not what you would see after a missile strike from a jet, or from a drone. It could say, they say, it could be rather from a smaller rocket. And then, we have these satellite images, before the strike and after the strike. You can see here, the park lot at the hospital before, and here, the parking lot after, which has been blackened. You can see some of those vehicles, in the middle of the parking lot.

It shows the limited structural damage, and the lack of a major crater. There is nothing on these satellite images, pointing to a crater from an airstrike.

Since those horrific attacks by Hamas in Israel on October 7th, we have seen thousands of Israeli airstrikes all across the Gaza Strip. And this is what they normally look like flattened buildings, huge craters. So, could Israel have used a smaller munition, perhaps an artillery shell, at the hospital?

Experts say, that is not outside the realm of possibility. But, as the U.S. and Israel as are saying, it is unlikely, given what else we have seen, and what else we know.

So, all together, CNN has reviewed dozens of videos, posted on social media, that aired on live broadcasts, and film by freelance journalists working in Gaza, which showed the blast and its aftermath.

A thorough CNN analysis of that footage suggests that the devastating explosion was not the result of an Israeli airstrike. And, several weapons experts say that the visual evidence points to the possibility that it was caused by a rocket.

Now Jake, this doesn't prove the assertions made by Israeli and U.S. intelligence, but it is consistent with their claims, that the explosion was due to a local rocket misfire, Jake.


TAPPER: All right, very thorough.

Alex Marquardt, thank you very much.

We are following two major stories on THE LEAD. President Biden is preparing to deliver, in primetime an Oval Office address tonight, as Republicans on Capitol Hill are, behind closed doors right now, battling it out over the speakership, or lack thereof.

We've got all of the latest developments. That's next.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And beginning this hour, President Biden will address the nation from the Oval Office this evening for only the second time in his presidency.