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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Sources: Talks Ongoing To Free Large Number Of Hostages; Blinken To United Nations: "Help Us Prevent The Spread Of War"; Israel Says It Hit 400+ Targets In Gaza Over Last Day; Rep. Tom Emmer Drops Out Of House Speaker Race; Ex-Trump Attorney Jenna Ellis Pleads Guilty In Georgia Election Case. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 24, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. And I'm standing on a rooftop looking out over Tel Aviv. It is just over 11 -- just after 11:00 p.m. here.

It has been 17 days since the horrific terrorist attacks by Hamas caught this country, and frankly, most of the world by surprise. Setting off a cascade of responses, consequences, that now includes a humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Tonight, we're hearing, for the very first time, from one of the hostages kidnapped and just released by Hamas about what she endured. Hamas held 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz captive for more than two weeks. It's an experience she described as going through hell.

Speaking in Hebrew at a hospital here in Tel Aviv earlier today, she describes how Hamas beat her as they forced her into Gaza.


YOCHEVED LIFSHITZ, FREED HOSTAGE (through translator): It was a painful act. They brought us into the hutch of a tunnel. On the way, I was lying on the side on the motorbike. Legs to one side, body to the other. The Shabaab were hitting me, so they didn't break my ribs, but it was very painful and made it difficult for me to breathe.




TAPPER: Smaller groups are kept under close watch. Her husband and the husband of the other hostage Hamas released yesterday, Nurit Cooper, are still believed to be in Hamas custody, with more than 200 others.

Today, multiple sources tell CNN talks are underway between the U.S., Israel, Qatar and Egypt to try to secure the release of a large number of the remaining hostages. Israel has, so far, held off on a ground incursion into Gaza. While

those talks appear to be playing out, but that does not mean that Israel's missiles have stopped flying. Earlier today, Israel said it hit more than 400 Hamas targets in Gaza, over just the last day, and Hamas continues to fire on Israel.


TAPPER: Earlier today, we saw the Iron Dome intercept some of those missiles over Tel Aviv, right over my head. It's a reminder that Hamas is not stopped trying to reduce Israeli civilian population centers to rubble. In fact, Hamas has fired about 7,000 missiles at Israel, according to the IDF, on and since October 7th.

Now, the Iron Dome defense system stops most of those Hamas rockets, but not all of them. The IDF has since, of course, returned fire. Israel is, without question, tragically killing innocent Palestinians. As it, says it is targeting Hamas. But the fact that Tel Aviv does not look like Gaza isn't for lack of trying by Hamas, and the fact that Israel civilian death toll is not far higher, again, not for a lack of trying by Hamas. The difference is the Iron Dome.

The IDF is, right now, prepared for a ground incursion. The air campaign has limitations, because Hamas operates inside a vast array of tunnels beneath Gaza. It's a sophisticated underground layer that one of the just released hostages described as a spider's web of tunnels.

I want to bring in CNN's Clarissa Ward who's live in Cairo, Egypt.

Clarissa, let's start with these hostages negotiations. Has Israel said how long it will delay its ground invasion to try and get more hostages released?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Jake, they haven't said anything, in terms of the specific timeline. They're obviously coming under a lot of pressure, especially as all these different parties are trying to negotiate the release of a larger group of hostages.


We've seen four released so far, the hope is to get dozens out potentially. But sources are telling CNN that they don't think the Israelis will be willing to hold back for more than a few days, potentially. There are many different issues at play here, of course.

But one of the big ones is this issue of fuel. Hamas is saying, if we're going to release these hostages, or before we release these hostages, you need to start to allow fuel to come into the Gaza Strip. The IDF is saying, we're not going to allow fuel to come into the Gaza Strip, because we believe it's going to be used by Hamas for their military infrastructure.

That is just one of the pieces of the puzzle. But you can imagine, when you take into account how many different parties are involved, how many different pieces there are to the puzzle, just how intricate and delicate and tenuous, frankly, these negotiations are, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Clarissa, today, one of the United Nations groups announced it will have to stop all of it all operations in Gaza tomorrow if no fuel is delivered. Are fuel deliveries part of the ongoing discussions, when it comes to aid?

WARD: So, they're at the center. I mean, it's -- fuel has become the issue of the moment. Whether you're talking about hostage negotiations, whether you're talking about humanitarian corridors, everyone is talking about fuel.

And you're right, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, as a Palestinian refugee agency, or the agency that deals with Palestinian refugees, I should say, is saying that by tomorrow night, it's over. They will not be able to continue their operations.

In addition to that, Jake, multiple hospitals now saying that they are going to be forced to shut down. According to the World Health Organization, six hospitals have already been forced to shut down, because they don't have fuel to power the generators that they need to keep their operations moving.

Another two hospitals have been forced to partially shut down, or shut down parts of their hospitals because of the desperation for the need for fuel. Now, earlier on today, we heard the head of the IDF come out, and he said that they were working on a mechanism to try to get fuel to those hospitals, and to ensure, or into Gaza Strip as part of this humanitarian aid, but to ensure that Hamas never got their hands on it.

Then, literally, just a few hours later, a spokesperson for the IDF came out and said, no fuel, it's not happening, and we can't allow to happen, because Hamas will take it and use it for military operations. So, you have a complete impasse here and everyone warning, really issuing a siren at the stage, Jake, that this could have disastrous consequences if there's not movement on it by tomorrow.

TAPPER: All right. Clarissa Ward in Cairo, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Music festival-goers in southern Israel, of course, ran for their lives on October 7th, as Hamas terrorists hunted them down. Innocent people were kidnapped. They were shot at point blank range. A celebration of unity, and love, guests from all over the world turned into a frenzied massacre. An Israeli rescue services found more than 260 corpses.

Twenty-four-year-old Eden Yerushalmi (ph) was at the festival. Eden's family was on the phone with her. Her family says there are tapes of Eden in that moment, whispering that she had been caught by a terrorist of Hamas, as gunshots rang out in the background.

Eden's family has not heard from her since, and she was not found.

Joining us is Eden's uncle, Guy Itzhaki. And, Guy, I'm so sorry that you and your family are going through this. Obviously, Eden did not deserve this. Your family does not deserve this.

What goes through your mind when you -- when you hear the tapes?

GUY ITZHAKI, NIECE KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: So, this is really terrifying since then the family is really devastated. Can you imagine, father and mother, that fairly young girl is kidnapped and killed by Hamas in Gaza? This is the worst nightmare that you can imagine.

TAPPER: How old is she?

ITZHAKI: She was 24 last week.

TAPPER: So, she turned 24 in captivity.

ITZHAKI: Exactly. God knows where in a tunnel in Gaza last week.

TAPPER: Yeah, I mean, I guess the best you can hope for since she was kidnapped.


TAPPER: What do you want people to know about her? What is she like?


ITZHAKI: So, Eden, as we say, she's 24 years old. She enjoys life. She always laugh. She loves parties. Every party that was, she was there.

Eden goes on trips, a lot. She had a trip to Greece on Sunday, the day after the party. And this is after a long trip she had in Mexico, a few months ago. Eden planned to become a trainer, in order to train people. So, this --

TAPPER: Like a professional trainer?

ITZHAKI: Like a Pilates trainer.

TAPPER: Like Pilates, okay.

ITZHAKI: Yes, she started this. She was planning to complete her learning very soon.

TAPPER: One of the cruelest things about this and, look, nobody deserves what happened. But one of the cruelest things about this is Hamas killed and kidnapped some of the people in this country who are most in favor of Palestinian rights, who are the most active when it comes to the peace movement, who employ Palestinians, who want a two state solution, who don't support the Netanyahu government, who -- I mean, some of the kibbutzim are people who moved here, and have been the most active in keeping a watch on some of the injustices for Palestinians.

ITZHAKI: Yeah. I mean, this attack doesn't support the Palestinian goal at all. On the contrary. I mean, right now, you will -- you will find it very hard to find any support in Israel, that we support to give up plans, in favor of peace. Because, you know, after this dramatic events, it will be very hard to find someone that will support this.

TAPPER: If you can look at the camera, or your camera right here, and talk to those people who took Eden, the people from Hamas who took Eden. Look, they're releasing hostages. They have been, they released four.

What would you say to them?

ITZHAKI: Yes. So, Hamas claims that they're not a terror organization, but they're a military organization. So, behave like one. If this is the case, military organization do not kidnap kids, elderly, and young girls.

Please release Eden, release all the hostages, all the civilians. They are not involved. This is not how military organization behaves.

TAPPER: How do you feel about how the Israeli government has responded so far? I've heard a lot of criticism of how the intelligence agencies, how the Shin Bet were not prepared, and how the IDF took hours and hours to respond. We can put that aside for a second, I'm sure you have your thoughts. They're pretty obvious.

But since then, how do you feel -- how do the Israeli government has responded?

ITZHAKI: The true things, I don't know. I don't know.


ITZHAKI: I give credit to the government, I don't know why, but I give them credit. I give credit to the IDF, that they will do whatever is needed to rescue, to bring back home all the hostages, the civilians and the soldiers.

And the truth is I'm optimistic, because, at the end of the day, we're talking about more than 200 civilians over there. And I'm optimistic that they -- they will come back home. The question is when? And now, we are 17, 18 days after, it is tough. And if it will take weeks, probably it will, it will be very hard for the families. You know, mothers, fathers, of their kids; husband that his entire family is in Gaza.

It will be very hard to sustain in such a radical, you know, situation. This is not a normal situation.

TAPPER: Yeah, well, I hope and pray that Eden is back with your family. She has a beautiful spirit. I hope she's teaching Pilates soon.


TAPPER: Thank you so much. Thank you for joining us. Really appreciate it. Guy Itzhaki, appreciate it.

Coming up, what CNN is learning about the technology that Hamas used for the better part of two years to plan its brutal October 7th terrorist attack.

But, first, the tough task right now to monitor suspected cases of human rights abuses in Gaza and beyond, human rights abuses by the Israeli government. We're back in a moment.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, live in Tel Aviv at the United Nations.

In New York City today, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken urged the U.N. Security Council to use its leverage to stop this war between Israel and Hamas from spreading.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: The only way to break out of this horrific cycle of violence is through two states for two peoples. Help us build that solution. Help us prevent the spread of war that will make two states and broader peace and security in the region even harder to achieve.


TAPPER: Let's bring in CNN's Alex Marquardt.

Alex, what else did Secretary Blinken have to stay at the U.N. today?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, in the context of the world pressuring countries to not expand this war. He also said they need to pressure Iran and its proxies to stop these attacks. He noted the growing number of attacks against U.S. targets. And he said that they are opening, they're threatening to open another front, and said that the U.S. will defend our security swiftly and decisively.

Jake, of course, we have seen a string of attacks by Iranian proxies against U.S. targets. There's also an interesting part where, when talking about humanitarian aid for Gaza, and the desperate need for that aid to get into Gaza, Secretary Blinken talked about the need for humanitarian pauses that must be considered.

Now, the U.S. has stayed far away from using the word ceasefire. Israel has said that there will be no ceasefire. But here, you have Secretary Blinken saying that these humanitarian pauses must be considered.


And, Jake, I'm not really clear on what the difference is there. And then we also heard from the U.N. secretary general, who said

something that infuriated the Israeli ambassador. Take a listen to the secretary general.


ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY GENERAL: It is important to also recognize the attacks by Hamas did not happen in a vacuum. The Palestinian people have been subjected to 56 years of suffocating occupation.


MARQUARDT: So, that part, Jake, 56 years of suffocating occupation led the Israeli ambassador at the United Nations to tweet out this furious reply, saying, it's truly sad that the head of an organization that arose out of the Holocaust holds such horrible views. The ambassador then calling for the secretary general to resign -- Jake.

TAPPER: I mean, it seems to be a justification for what happened on October 7th. I mean, that seems to be when the secretary general is suggesting there. I mean, I can understand why he would be upset.

There were -- there were also family members of hostages taken by Hamas outside the U.N. today.

MARQUARDT: Yeah, that's exactly, by the way, that's how the ambassador took. It certainly, that's what some of these families took it as well. Some of them are supposed to meet with the secretary general, and then refused.

But we did hear from a number of understandably very distraught family members, a woman named Mohana Loney (ph), she said her two sisters, three, nieces and two brothers in law were all kidnapped by Hamas. She said they needed to be back yesterday not, tomorrow, yesterday.

And that we heard from a mother, a son, who is kidnapped saying, nothing seems to be moving on the front to release them. This is a world crisis, not just a personal crisis. So, these families calling on the world to help pressure Hamas, to release their loved ones -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Alex Marquardt, thanks so much, appreciate it.

There is a nonprofit organization here in Israel, an NGO called B'Tselem, that monitors alleged human rights abuses by the Israeli government against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. So, we were wondering how has the horrific Hamas attack on October 7th on the Israeli people and the response by the Israeli military on Gaza, how is that shaken up the mission of B'Tselem.


TAPPER (voice-over): Peace activist Vivian Silver lived on kibbutz Be'eri, and was a former board member of B'Tselem, a progressive group that monitors the Israeli government's treatment of Palestinians. It's named B'Tselem means in the image, it's from a Bible verse. It means in the image of God, all of us, all of humankind are in the image of God.

On October 7th, Vivian Silver disappeared. She's thought to have been kidnapped by Hamas.

Today, I spoke with B'Tselem's Roy Yellin.

ROY YELLIN, B'TSELEM DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC OUTREACH: Part of the shock and horror that we all experience is the fact that a lot of our supporters immediate circles, even family members who were killed, kidnapped, or affective in other ways in the -- what happened on Saturday.

TAPPER: B'Tselem is an organization that works very, very hard to advocate for Palestinians, for human rights, to provide overwatch of the Israeli government, to criticize the Israeli government. Does what happened on October 7th make your job tougher?

YELLIN: Certainly. First of all, I think we're still in the process of understanding what happened, because it's something that on this particular level, there's a change in the balance of power. In addition to that, because extremism and fundamentalism feeds extremism and fundamentalism on the other side, we're also going to have a much tougher job of getting to the hearts and minds of people in Israel and around the world.

TAPPER: So, what do you say to somebody, an Israeli who comes to you and says, this proves there cannot be any peace with Hamas? This proves they just want to wait out Israel. They want to kill Jews. There can't be no peace with Hamas. Maybe there can be peace with the Palestinian people, but not with Hamas running Gaza.

YELLIN: Not all Palestinians are Hamas. But also, not all Israelis are Bibi Netanyahu. Not all Israelis are Itamar Ben-Gvir, and the other right-wing extremists that we have in our governments now, and changes are possible.

I have to believe that in order to stay here. And I do believe that, the only option is to find a way to live with Palestinians, as equal. That I do believe that only we provide people on the other side with full, complete human rights, future, equality, democratic norms. Only like that we can live together.


TAPPER: You're still an optimist? You know, I've heard Israelis say the reason that the Palestinian authority in the West Bank hasn't had an election in whatever it's, been 17 years, are you know the number. The reason they haven't had an election, is because if they had election today, the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, might be replaced by Hamas. That Hamas actually represents what the Palestinian people want.

And yet, you are optimistic about a peace deal still being possible. YELLIN: You have to be optimistic because we are not going to drive

billions of Palestinians away from here. They are going to be here forever. And I believe they're not going to have the power to drive us away from here.

So, we need to find a way, which to build a better future for all of us. And that can be done only by, not exchanging rockets, but exchanging words.

TAPPER: And you are monitoring what's going on in Gaza right now. What is your group seeing in Gaza right now?

YELLIN: Two of my colleagues, field researchers in Gaza, lost family members. One of them is now living in a sort of makeshift refugee camp in a tent. Civilians are paying the price.

And that's not -- never -- never a good thing. I don't think that we're kind of creating a different -- different narrative in which Hamas is culpable and responsible for what is going on. I think we're breeding more hatred and anger towards Israel.

TAPPER: But what about the argument from IDF that Hamas embeds itself within the populace? The IDF, Israel, has a right to defend itself against terrorist attacks. And if Hamas hides among the Palestinian people, this is Hamas's fault. What do you -- what do you make of that argument?

YELLIN: The person who shoots civilians who's a person who's responsible for shooting civilians, and they should do better. And we should be better than Hamas, and saying like they started it, and they are doing, and it's their responsibility. No. It's our responsibility to be better than them.


TAPPER: Roy Yellin says he feels a degree of privilege every day because he's still able to call his Palestinian colleagues in Gaza, they're still able to work together. They're still able to see the humanity in each other. That keeps him grounded, and he appreciates that. That's something that he's able to do every day, and he's happy for that. That brings him a sense of peace.

We'll be right back after this quick break.



TAPPER: New scenes of carnage and destruction emerge from Gaza today, as the latest round of Israeli airstrikes killed 704, at least according to the Hamas-controlled Palestinian ministry of health.

A small amount of aid got through to southern Gaza, but it did not include fuel. Moments ago, the World Health Organization announced that six hospitals in Gaza have been forced to close, due to a lack of fuel. This is a high-profile voice in the Middle East is now speaking out, because of the dire situation in Gaza.

The queen of Jordan spoke exclusively with CNN's Christiane Amanpour. She called out the western world for condemning Hamas but not criticizing Israel's airstrikes in Gaza.


QUEEN RANIA AL ABDULLAH, JORDAN: I just want to remind the world, Palestinian mothers love their children. For them never go through this just unbelievable. And equally, I think that people all around the Middle East, including in Jordan, we are just shocked and disappointed by the world's reaction to this catastrophe that is unfolding.

In the last couple of weeks we have seen, you know, a glaring double standard in the world, when October 7th happened, the world immediately and unequivocally stood by Israel and trying to defend itself and condemned the attacks that happened. But when we -- what we're seeing the last couple of weeks, we are seeing silence in the world. You know, countries just stopped just expressing concern or acknowledging the casualties but always with a preface of support for Israel.

And, you know, are we being told that it is wrong to kill the family, an entire family at gunpoint? But it's okay to shell them to death? I mean, there is a glaring double standard here and it's just shocking to the Arab world. This is the first time in modern history that there is such human suffering, and the world is not even calling for a cease-fire.

So, the silence is deafening. And too many in our region, it makes the Western world complicit, you know, through their support and through the covenant they give Israel, just to try to defend itself. Many in the Arab world that is looking at the Western world is not just tolerating it but as aiding and abetting it. And this is just horrendous, and it's deeply, deeply disputing to all of us.


TAPPER: Asked that bulwark of human rights, Jordan.

CNN national security analyst and former deputy for the director of the national intelligence, Beth Sanner, joins us now.

Beth, help us put into context, not only her blunt words but the emotions that Queen Rania expressed in describing this as a double standard. I mean, we did hear quite a lot of protests in the Arab world, in the Arab streets about what Israel is doing.


But she's talking about the Western world.

BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. Well, I mean, Queen Rania is a really powerful and authentic voice for the Palestinians, for moms. I think all of us watch the TV and our heart broken. But she also represents very much the Palestinian perspective. She is

Palestinian. She was born to Palestinian parents.

And you know, in Jordan, there is no real concrete census, but people say over half of the population there is Palestinian. And I think that this view of the double standard is something that has been in the Arab world for a long time.

I mean, you know, polled on last year, three quarters of the Arab population polled already thought that the U.S. had a bad policy towards the Palestinians. That it wasn't fair. And, you know, and a majority of them also felt that U.S. policies toward the region were destabilizing.

And so, you know, we talked about this I think last week, about, you know, when you're pushing on this open door, you already are started at a very low base with trust of the United States. And then you add on top of this really the suffering that is going on with the Palestinians.

And these are very real things. And I think that, you know, we would be mistaken if we don't actually listen to that and understand what is going on, whether we disagree or not. We have to listen to that to -- for policy sake.

TAPPER: A hundred percent. And the scenes of devastation and civilian deaths in Gaza are absolutely heartbreaking. But you and I have discussed this before, the plight of the Palestinians and certainly there is a lot of blame to go around when it comes to the policies of the Israeli government, and the policies and the leadership of the Palestinians, but where -- where is King Abdullah then?

I mean, Hamas was elected in 2006. Did I miss some grand effort by King Abdullah to help the people of Gaza get democracy and human rights? Now that Jordan is any great example of democracy and human rights itself.

SANNER: Well, I mean, the Jordanians, I mean, we have to be fair here, the Jordanians have tried to play a very stable role in -- you know, they're the ones that administer the Al Aqsa Mosque, the Temple Mount, and they have tried to play more of a stabilizing role. But I think that, you know, I mean, I certainly am not going to defend Arab leaders and them having a positive helpful role in the region. But you could say the same thing for -- not the same thing but, you know, we haven't helped that much on the two-state solution in the past decade. And part of that also is because the Israeli --

TAPPER: No, not at all.

SANNER: The Israelis don't actually want it. I mean, the polling shows and the Israelis like, only about a third them think that a two-state solution is possible and that's way, way down than it was when majority thought two decades ago and about half a decade ago. So, yeah, so it's not -- it's not a great scene.

TAPPER: No, and Netanyahu wanted to divide the Palestinian people between Hamas and the Palestinian authority, because that would help destroy any sort of hope for a Palestinian two-state solution, absolutely. There is a lot of blame to go around. I'm just saying, Jordan also gets their share.

Beth Sanner, thanks so much. Appreciate you.

More here from Israel in a moment. But first, first, it's a breaking news on Capitol Hill in the United States, where just as quickly as a nominee for speaker appeared, the bid seemed to be quickly collapsing.



TAPPER: I'm covering life and death issues, serious tragedies, serious momentous occurrences here in Israel and of course in Gaza. And, of course, we have to interrupt this for one moment to cover the complete and utter clown car that is the House Republican speaker's race back in Washington, D.C.

This morning, the House Republican conference selected someone, a rational human being, Minnesota Congressman Tom Emmer to be its new nominee for speaker of the House. However, moments ago, a source tells CNN, Emmer was forced to drop out of the race.

Let's get to CNN's Manu Raju who is live for us on Capitol Hill.

Manu, was Congressman Emmer too sane? What happened?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: He's the third Republican nominee to have seen his candidacy collapse, I mean, a revolt in the ranks, a third in the last three weeks, Jake, in the aftermath of Kevin McCarthy's ouster as speaker. Three weeks to the day. Republicans have not been able to coalesce behind a single candidate among sharp divisions in this unprecedented moment. The House can not act on any issue, of national, international significance, including aid to Israel until they resolve this -- this crisis within their own ranks and this bitter in-fighting that continues to persist.

Tom Emmer took a number of votes that did not sit well with members of the hard right, on issues like spending, on issues like raising the debt limit, on codifying same-sex marriage, on not -- on voting to actually certify the 2020 election and not overturn the 2020 election. And all of which prompted some concern on the right, more than he could afford to lose in terms of votes.


Moments ago, he made clear he was dropping out of this race, despite being nominated about three and a half hours ago, indicating he had no path going forward and also a huge problem for him, Donald Trump came out in opposition to him, calling him a RINO, calling on his supporters in the House GOP conference to sink his bid.

I asked Kevin McCarthy, about Donald Trump's impact and he indicated that was a big problem for Emmer's bid.


RAJU: How problematic was it for Donald Trump to come out and call Tom Emmer a RINO?

REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Ii think it makes a difference in this race. And he had a number of votes behind, I think that made it more so, yeah.

RAJU: Is there any path for the speakership or he's done?


RAJU: So the question now is what is next, Jake, and really, Republicans are at a loss. They're trying to see if there is any candidate who could get the 217 votes he or she would need to be elected speaker of the House. At the moment, nobody can get there. So who could governor this almost ungovernable House Republican conference? It is uncertain at this moment. So Republicans plan to meet behind closed doors to figure out what is next as this in- fighting leave this is chamber completely paralyzed at this critical time for the United States -- Jake.

TAPPER: Just completely embarrassing. Just utterly embarrassing.

Manu Raju on Capitol Hill, thank you so much.

We'll have more from Israel ahead. But next, another day, another flip. We're going to dig into the significance of today's tearful guilty plea from former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper, live in Tel Aviv.

And we will have more coverage of the war in just moments. But we're going to turn to a major legal development in the U.S. today for former President Donald Trump.

For the third time in a week and fourth time overall, a former Trump ally has flipped against him in the Georgia election subversion case. Just this morning, former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis pleaded guilty to a count of aiding and abetting false statements. This follows guilty pleas from Trump campaign lawyer Sidney Powell, pro-Trump attorney Kenneth Chesebro, and Georgia bail bondsman Scott Hall.

Jenna Ellis earlier today delivered a tearful statement in court in which she threw Trump under the bus for her actions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JENNA ELLIS, EX-TRUMP ATTORNEY: I endeavored to represent to the best of my ability. I relied on others, including lawyers with many more years of experience than I to provide me with true and reliable information. What I did not do, but should have done, Your Honor, was to make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true.


TAPPER: Hmm. Ellis and her emotional comments attempting to make it seem as if she was a pawn in masterminding Trump's scheme to overthrow the 2020 election results. Remember, she was one of the main voices after the 2020 election, pushing Trump's very obviously false election lies.


ELLIS: President Trump is right that there was widespread fraud.

The election was stolen and President Trump won by a landslide.

We have this overwhelming evidence of fraud.

This election was fraudulent. It was corrupted.

All of these false and fraudulent results --


TAPPER: With me now is CNN's Jamie Gangel.

And, Jamie, it is really kind of tough to listen to this. Jenna Ellis is now saying she was merely relying on other attorneys to give her advice. But she was a grown woman, and these election lies were very obvious. And we were stating this as fact at the time on the air. These election lies were obvious to anyone with a functioning brain stem.

What do you make of this?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, Jake, this may be her defense now, but let's remember, she did just plead guilty to a felony.

And the bottom line of all of this is, this is a bad day for Donald Trump. As you said, she was in the room. She is a firsthand witness. This is someone who had direct links to Donald Trump.

We don't know yet exactly what testimony she's given the prosecutors. What evidence and communication and mails and texts she may have. But she was in the room. So even though you may not -- you may think this is a day late for her to be contrite, she did plead guilty.

TAPPER: So she's the fourth to flip in the Georgia case.

GANGEL: Right. TAPPER: How does this -- how does that change the case for Donald


GANGEL: So, I think that every time someone flips, the prosecutors, you have that chart of there going down the road, the walls are closing in for Donald Trump. Not just Donald Trump, someone like Jenna Ellis is an example, was very close to Rudy Giuliani. She knows a lot and can say a lot about his case and I think it also has an impact on some other big names -- John Eastman, Mark Meadows, Jeff Clark.

So, you know, one by one, these sort of more minor people, even though she was right in the middle of it, are now not only available, they have said they will testify against the others, Jake.


TAPPER: All right. Jamie Gangel, thanks so much.


TAPPER: Coming up next here from Israel, what CNN is learning about how the terrorist group Hamas used specific technology to plan its October 7th attacks.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper. I'm standing on a rooftop looking out over Tel Aviv. It is almost midnight here.