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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Netanyahu: Everyone Will Have To Answer For October 7 Attack; Judge Fines Trump $10K For Violating Gag Order Again; GOP Rep. Mike Johnson Elected House Speaker; Backlash Over U.N. Leader's Remarks on Hamas Attacks. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 25, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

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

And we're covering three major stories right now: the war here, the end to the chaotic speakership saga back in Washington, D.C., and former president Donald Trump in a stunning appearance on the stand today in his New York civil fraud trial.

We're going to start with breaking news from Israel. It has been 18 days since the attacks by Hamas caught this country and most of the world by surprise. Just over an hour ago, from this rooftop, we heard explosions presumably from Israel's Iron Dome defense system intercepting several rocks fired on Tel Aviv from Gaza and minutes ago they confirmed that four people were injured with something possibly shrapnel hitting this town of Rishon LeZion, a reminder that Hamas continues to try to kill as many Israeli civilians as they can with their rockets. They are just not able to do so because of the Iron Dome defense system.

Meanwhile, this evening, Israel's Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed this grieving nation, still mourning after Hamas's horrific October 7th terrorist attack where 1,400 Israelis were brutally murdered.

Speaking in Hebrew, Netanyahu alluded to the massive intelligence and military readiness failures of his administration that day, saying, quote: Everyone will have to give answers including myself but that will only happen after the war, unquote.

And meanwhile, there are roughly still 600 American citizens stuck in Gaza, amidst a full blown humanitarian crisis there for the 2.3 million Palestinians. The United Nations organization in Gaza said it will be forced to stop operations today due to a lack of fuel. Blocked from entering Gaza as Israel remains certain that Hamas will steal any fuel shipment news Gaza and use that fuel to launch its rockets into Israel. And kill innocent Israeli citizens.

Humanitarian concerns have been echoed by Western allies who have called for a humanitarian pause in Israel's strike on Gaza. That suggested pause essentially just a rebranded term for a cease-fire which Israel is wholly opposed to given the 1,400 murders and more than 200 people still being held hostage by Hamas in their web of underground tunnels.

All of this as another chapter unfolds, of course, as we mentioned earlier, in the complete and utter dysfunction in Washington, D.C. among House Republicans. This afternoon, after four candidates and 22 days of self-inflicted pain and paralysis, upon the entire chamber of the U.S. Congress and the legislative branch of Congress, and of course on the U.S. government and the U.S. people, Republicans finally named conservative Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana as speaker of House. And we're going to tell you more about Speaker-elect Johnson, or Speaker Johnson, rather, in a minute.

But first, let's get to the big breaking news of the hour. Former President Trump fined $10,000 for violating a gag order again. The judge in Trump's New York civil fraud trial warning the former president today to, quote, don't do it again or it will be worse.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is live outside the courthouse in New York City.

And, Brynn, the judge issued the fine after Trump took the stand? What happened?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. Actually, Trump right now is in with the judge. The courtroom is cleared. His lawyers are with him. It is unclear what they're discussing, possibly this $10,000 fine.

I want you to, Jake, to listen to first what Trump said and then I could explain how this all unfolded this afternoon in court.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: This judge is a very partisan judge, with a person who's very partisan sitting alongside of him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is.


GINGRAS: Now, you heard him call the judge partisan and the person sitting next to him very partisan.


Now, it's important, Jake, when you think about this, in the courtroom, the judge is in the middle. To his right is his court clerk and to his left is the witness box and sitting there was Michael Cohen. Well, Trump was brought back into the courtroom and the judge made him take the stand and answer under oath who he was talking about when he said the person next to him is very partisan and under oath Trump said that he was talking about Michael Cohen.

Well, after he got the stand, the judge said this, as a trier of fact, I find that the witness is not credible and he was referring to my law clerk. Remember, there was a gag order in place, it was that Trump could not speak ill about anyone associated with this judge's staff. This is the second time the judge has said he has violated this gag order and he put down this $10,000 fine.

Well, Trump's attorneys fought that saying that it is unusual that a law clerk would be sitting right next to the judge. And that they feel like this case is being tried by two judges. But that did not stand. That argument did not stand and the judge kept that $10,000 fine in place.

Something else very important to discuss here, Jake, the fact that Michael Cohen was cross-examined at the end of the day. He's no longer on the stand. But there was some flip-flopping that happened, that essential angered Trump so much he threw up his hands and left the courtroom for the end part of day.

We are actually hearing from Michael Cohen right now about that exchange that happened on the stand. We're expecting to hear from the New York attorney general. There is a lot that has happened in the last hour of this civil trial, Jake, and we'll continue to update you. But as of now, the civil trial will then now continue tomorrow -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Brynn Gingras, thanks so much.

I want to go to now to CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

Elie, what are the risks for Donald Trump being questioned under oath?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Jake, any time anyone takes stand, particularly if they're under multiple indictments, they've the risk of incriminating their selves. Trump actually would have had the option here to take the Fifth and refuse to testify. But in this scenario, the judge could have used that against Donald Trump. And the second risk is precisely what happened. Donald Trump took the stand and the judge said, I find you non-credible. I don't believe you. And hence the judge ruled against Donald Trump and levied the increased fine.

TAPPER: And when the -- when the judge says, quote, don't do it again, or it will be worse, what could worse mean? Does it mean more than $10,000, which let's be honest, that's pocket change for Donald Trump or does he mean jail time, maybe?

HONIG: So, that's precisely the dilemma that the judge has here. The two tools that the judge had at his disposal are one, fine, and two, jail time. In fact, the judge went out of his way last time to warn Donald Trump, if you do it again, I could fine you more and I can at least theoretically imprison you.

Now, I don't think that is likely and I think as you note, Jake, the financial amounts are not enough to deter Donald Trump. So the judge is going to have to engage in some sort of escalating deterrence here. And the judge said, my concern here is someone's going to get killed. So, I think the judge needs to be responding accordingly. I don't know that a $5,000 fine and a $10,000 fine are going to do it. TAPPER: Let's turn to the Georgia election subversion case where

Donald Trump and 18 codefendants were charged with trying to over turn the state's 2020 election results and just into CNN, new exclusive reporting, Georgia prosecutors are considering plea deals with six additional codefendants, Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, Ken Chesebro and Scott Hall have already pleaded guilty. Elie, six more plea deals, that would mean almost half of the co-defendants will have flipped on Trump.

HONIG: Well, yeah, Jake. So that would mean 19 defendants originally, four we know have pled. That brings us down to 15. If another six plead, that gets us down to nine remaining co-defendants. This is what you have to do as a prosecutor.


TAPPER: Elie, I'm sorry, I'm going to interrupt, Elie. I'm sorry. I have to apologize. We're going to Michael Cohen who is speaking live outside of the courtroom.

Let's go to that.

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: He's got the wrong guy to intimidate. As you seen, I haven't stopped since I don't know how many years now and I won't, until I said, accountability is had.

REPORTER: Why do you think --

JEFFREY LEVINE, COHEN'S ATTORNEY: My name is Jeffrey Levine. And I just want to expand on one thing that Michael said and then I'll share some additional thoughts. First thing was, not only did the judge deny the motion to dismiss, but he did it twice. And the second time he did it, he said, absolutely denied.

So, like many other things with Michael, I could say in over 30 years of practicing law, I've never seen a judge issue a ruling that said absolutely -- denied is enough. Absolutely denied, that is going beyond.

And then he followed up, the judge, saying there is enough evidence in this room to find you liable. So it wasn't solely on Michael. He is a witness. He is not the witness, because there is a lot of other evidence.


As for my other statements, I just want to say and I've said this before regarding Michael, that a little light dispels a lot of darkness. And Michael has gone on this path to shine that light. And he has an enormous burden in doing so, like today and yesterday.

His family and he have paid dearly for his choice to shine that light. And I say this not only as Michael's lawyer, but we've known each other since middle school. So I've known Michael nearly 45 years.

And I'm really pleased to be here under these circumstances. I'm pleased to be here to support Michael and to witness him righting wrongs and speaking truth to power. In particular here in this --

TAPPER: All right. So the testimony of Jeffrey Levine about his client Michael Cohen.

Elie -- Elie Honig, let me go back to you.

Do you think the plea deals in the Georgia case, we already have had four individuals flip on Trump, there might be six others. Do you think they could undermine the credibility of the case?

HONIG: Well, Jake, I think on one hand, it is a good thing for prosecutors to get plea deals because you're locking in convictions and sort of showing the world that, yes, these people who I charged are guilty. However, we do have to ask what is in the plea deals, because here is the reality now. We've seen four people plead guilty so far. All four of them were charged with being part of this massive racketeering enterprise, the goal was to steal the 2020 election, looking at a five-year minimum in prison.

What they've been allowed to plead guilty to, none have had to plead guilty to racketeering, instead they've all pled to either very low level felonies or misdemeanors and not a single one them is going to do a day behind bars as a result of pleas. Now, are they going to cooperate in a way that's effective, that's useful to the D.A.? That remains to be seen.

I mean, look at Sidney Powell. She admitted to this very conduct in Coffee County, but yet she's still out there spewing election fraud lies. So I don't know how viable a witness she's ultimately going to be. So, it matters, Jake, what's in the details of these plea deals an it is fair to question whether they're getting too lenient of a deal here.

TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig, thank you so much.

I want to bring in CNN's Kristen Holmes now if I can.

And this is now, Kristen, the second fine that Trump has received from this judge who has been warning the former president it could get worse. What is the reaction inside Trump world to what happened today.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, I mean, it defends if you're talking about officially or unofficially. Officially, they're, of course, saying the same thing, this is a democratic judge who is trying to take away Donald Trump's First Amendment rights.

But privately, there is a lot of questions about how exactly this is going to work and a lot of skepticism as to whether or not Donald Trump could actually abide by this gag order. You have to remember, that for years, Donald Trump's advisers and even more recently campaign advisers had been trying to manage his messaging. They know that is not possible.

And remember, that is when Donald Trump believes that the people trying to manage his messaging have his best interest at heart which he does not believe in the case of this judge. Part of Donald Trump's strategy when it comes to his legal -- mounting legal peril is to play this out in the court of public opinion. That means taking every opportunity he can to talk to the media. That is why he's always going over to the cameras. That is why he's posting on Truth Social. He wants to create his own narrative around this and then again play this out in the court of public opinion, not in the courtroom.

This severely limits his capabilities to do that. So whether or not he could actually abide by a gag order, that is a real question, even among his closest aides and advisers who have tried and tried to keep him on message often to only be left with their mouths dropped open when he said something that they cannot believe came out of his mouth.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

To another big story this hour, the newly minted speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, he was a key figure who once led efforts to overturn the free and fair 2020 election. And that's not the only controversial mark on his resume. Stay with us.




REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: The challenge before us is great but the time for action is now. And I will not let you down.



TAPPER: We're back with our other big domestic story tonight. After 22 days of complete chaos on Capitol Hill, House Republicans have finally managed to select a new speaker of House. His name is Congressman Mike Johnson. He is a four-term congressman from Louisiana. He did what over a dozen Republican speaker candidates were unable to do, which is get 217 votes. And unite the party, including the hard right and the right and the few moderates that are left.


JOHNSON: We want our allies around the world to know that this body of lawmakers is reporting again to our duty stations. Let the enemies of freedom around the world hear us loud and clear. The people's house is back in business.



TAPPER: Speaker Johnson's ascension does not come without controversy. He seems, he has a manner that is moderate. But he is without question one of the most conservative members of Congress in the House. He's one of the most staunch opponents of abortion. He led efforts to over turn and decertify the 2020 election, an election that has been proven time and again to have had no widespread voter fraud:


Perhaps the following two moments sum this up best. The first, a floor speech that occurred almost simultaneously as rioters smashed the windows and breached the Capitol on January 6th, the second just last night.


JOHNSON: Madam Speaker, we have a solemn responsibility today. We must vote to sustain objections to states of electors submitted by states that we genuinely believe clearly violated the Constitution and the presidential election of 2020. This is the threshold legal question before us. And it is an issue before us for the state of Arizona.

REPORTER: Mr. Johnson, you helped the efforts to overturn the 2020 election results. Do you --



JOHNSON: Next question.


TAPPER: So it was important then but doesn't want to talk about it now. Interesting.

Any way, who exactly is congressman, Speaker Mike Johnson, what does he stand for.

CNN's Brian Todd takes a look at Speaker Johnson's record.


TRUMP: Frankly, we did win this election.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): In the contentious days after the 2020 election, when then President Trump was desperately maneuvering to hold on to power, Mike Johnson was one of Trump's most zealous supporters in Congress.

JOHNSON: The system is set up for massive fraud and error, and irregularity. And we cannot have that in our election system.

TODD: The Republican from Louisiana led a group of conservative lawmakers who signed a court filing which tried to nullify Electoral College votes in several states won by Joe Biden, a legal efforts that was soundly rejected by the Supreme Court.

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS: I think all of that is partly what makes him a favorable candidate for Donald Trump. You could expect Democrats to be looking to highlight this stuff.

TODD: Just after the 2020 election was called for Joe Biden, Johnson posted on X, then known as Twitter, quote, I have just called President Trump to stay this. Stay strong and keep fighting, sir, the nation is depending upon your resolve.

Today, outside of court, the former president complimented the congressman.

TRUMP: I think Mike Johnson is doing very well. He's a tremendous congressman, respected by everybody.

TODD: But if you think the former conservative radio talk show host came out of nowhere to win the speakership, you might not be alone. Long time Senator Susan Collins from Johnson's own party said, quote, I was going to Google him this morning.

TALEV: A lot people don't know him which means he doesn't have a lot of enemies.

TODD: First elected to Congress in 2016, Johnson staunchly opposes abortion and celebrated the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe versus Wade, calling it a, quote, great joyous occasion.

JOHNSON: The Founders, the ones who put this country together recognize that life was sacred because it is given to us by our creator, by God.

TODD: Johnson has also been a fierce opponent of LGBTQ rights. In the mid-2000s, he wrote in an op-ed in "The Shreveport Times" that homosexuality is, quote, an inherently unnatural and dangerous lifestyle that would lead to legalized pedophilia.

The 51-year-old Johnson, according to "Politico", is the least experienced speaker elected in 140 years. Is he in over his head?

DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The speaker job is an on the job training situation. Nobody is prepared for that role unless they've already been in it.


TODD (on camera): Analysts say Mike Johnson won't have much of a honeymoon period as House speaker. One of his first big tests will come in the days leading up to the November 17th government shutdown deadline, a test to see if he could work with Democrats to keep the government funded and if he can navigate those treacherous waters of the hard-line Republicans who tossed Kevin McCarthy from power -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Brian Todd, thank you so much.

Let' bring in Republican Congressman Mike Waltz of Florida.

Congressman, thanks for joining us.

Every single Republican who was present today voted to make Mike Johnson the new speaker. Congratulations.

Did you ever think your party would come to a consensus over anybody? It did -- I have to say, it did seem at one point that there would be no one who would be able to get 217. But then when Mike Johnson's name emerged, it seemed like the party pretty quickly coalesced around him.

REP. MIKE WALTZ (R-FL): Yeah. Jake, I think Mike Johnson sits right at in that sweet spot, frankly, within our coalition. He is admired for his work on judiciary, whether that's on many of the social issues that he does, have a very conservative view on, and that he has a lot of support with our delegation.

At the same time, he literally sits right next to me in armed services and has a very clear eyed view of the threats facing this country, of the need for American strength, of the need for investment in our defense and from the overwhelming threat that is coming from the Chinese communist party, from Iran, Russia and North Korea.


So I think that, you know, he really sits in a unique spot. And as you could see already, there is -- there is a very substantive base as a constitutional lawyer, and a deep history and knowledge to his belief that he could back up intellectually and substantively all day long but his demeanor is not as confrontational.

I think that made it palatable for our entire conference. He's ready to get back to work. He shares many of our vision for why we were elected and why we have the majority and I'm looking forward to supporting him.

TAPPER: Yeah, he does -- he has a more moderate style. But he is -- and I don't think he would disagree with this, he is one of the most conservative members of Congress. And I wonder if you worry at all that he will try to bring the party with him to the far right when there are more moderate members and other people who might not want to pass a, for instance, a national abortion ban, because they're not comfortable with that.

WALTZ: Well, look, I think he would wear what you just said as one of the more substantive and conservative members of our conference as a badge of honor. And I think what so many people appreciate about him is his views are deeply rooted, they're thoughtful, he articulates them well and no one, I don't think, really has a belief that he's just doing it for pure politics or telling people what they want to hear.

Will he have to govern an entire conference and get us all on the same page with a narrow majority? Absolutely. That is why this job is one of the toughest that I think there is anywhere -- anywhere in the world.

TAPPER: All right, Republican Congressman Mike Waltz, good to see you, sir. Thank you so much for being with us.

WALTZ: All right. Thanks, Jake. TAPPER: Coming up next, next up for Speaker Johnson, fights over

funding for Ukraine, funding for Israel, and not to mention that government shutdown which could be on the way next month. So how do House Republicans move forward? We're going to pick up the conversation in a moment.



TAPPER: We're back with more on today's lesson in democracy is messy. After weeks of ugly in fighting, Republicans finally got their act together and elected -- Donald Trump is talking outside of the courthouse. Let's listen in.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: -- and he was caught lying, like nobody has ever lied. It was better than a Perry Mason moment. And that should be the end of the case. That should -- in any other case, any other judge, this would be the end of the case.

We're being railroaded here. The city and state are railroaded. Businesses are leaving because of this. But he -- they're only witness, the chief witness, the only witness, just admitted, number one, he lied and he admitted he lied. He said he lied numerous times and then he said, as for the best television show that you'll ever imagine, he said, I did not -- I did not ask him to manipulate figures.

That should be the end of the case. If we had a jury, this case would have never started practically. Also, it is a statute that is never used. It was only used for Trump. This is a very unfair thing and other businesses are watching it and if they move to New York, they're crazy.

As far as the speaker is concerned, he is a fantastic gentleman and I think he's going to do a great job. Mike Johnson, Louisiana. He's going to do a great job.

Thank you, everybody.

TAPPER: All right, Donald Trump speaking outside of the courtroom there.

Let's bring in Elie Honig. Explain to our viewers what exactly this most recent airing of grievances is about and what you think he -- this will result in if there is a penalty or not?

HONIG: Yeah, so let me try to clarify this, Jake. So what Donald Trump is talking about here is the testimony of Michael Cohen. Michael Cohen over the years during his congressional testimony and at this trial has explained the instructions that Donald Trump gave him in different ways. At times, Michael Cohen has said, no, Donald Trump never specific told me to inflate the value of assets and other times he said it was generally understood. Donald Trump knew to make his will known without specifically saying it. There is a bit of a discrepancy there. That's fair game for cross-

examination. That's fair game for Trump's lawyers to argue to judge ultimately here. Michael Cohen is not credible. His testimony has been inconsistent.

Here is where Donald Trump is off the rails, though. This does mean the case is over. Witnesses sometimes have inconsistencies. It's up to the trier of the fact, in this case, up to a judge. It doesn't mean game over, I've won and let's go home. It means this witness has had some damage done on cross-examination as we expected, and ultimately, it will be to the judge.

TRUMP: We're being railroaded here --

TAPPER: And, Elie Honig, in addition, do you think that Donald Trump, who has been repeatedly told an threatened with a gag order, do you think him going out there and saying we're being railroaded here, do you think that that will have any impact?


Again, he's complaining, he's taking issue with the manner of the trial, et cetera?

HONIG: Well, he's towing the line as we've seen quite a bit. The gag order in this particular case, there's actually two. There's a separate gag order in one of the criminal cases in D.C. But the gag order in this case, this is the civil trial in New York, is very narrow.

All the judge said is, you cannot say anything about my staff. The judge actually accepted himself. He just said, my clerks, my courtroom staff. And so, I think Trump's general comments about the conduct of the trial are probably not specific enough to violate the gag order. In contrast, I should note, to comments that Donald Trump has made now twice which the judge has found do specifically go to the clerk and that's why the judge has found Donald Trump violated that gag order twice and fined him twice.

TAPPER: All right. Elie Honig, thank you so much.

I want to bring -- bring in Jamie Gangel right now. To talk more about Speaker Mike Johnson.

And, Jamie, we've been talking about Speaker Johnson and what is interesting, one of the things that has been going on with Speaker Johnson is that he -- he's a very smooth operator. Like, I covered him way back in 2005. And I was in Louisiana. And I was covering a parish there that continued to proselytize its public school students, continue to do school prayer, public school prayer even though courts kept telling them to stop. And he worked for a group called like the alliance for -- the Alliance Defense Fund or something like that.

And he presented these very, very Christian conservative views in a very moderate and mainstream presentation. And I remember turning to my producer Avery Miller at the time and said this guy is going to be a congressman very quickly. I did not know, this is about 18 years ago, I did not -- I would not have predicted he would be speaker within 20 years, but it does not surprise me because he has these have conservative views as Michael Waltz -- Congressman Waltz acknowledged earlier. He's one of the most conservative members of the House and yet in manner and bearing, he seems like a next door dad.


TAPPER: We're looking outside right now. Jamie, I'm sorry for interrupting. Letitia James is speaking. Let's listen in.

LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: -- basically corroborate the testimony of witnesses. It is important to know that Michael Cohen is not the main witness. His evidence has been corroborated by the mountains of evidence, enough evidence to fill the courtroom.

And so I look forward again to this trial continuing and I look always -- and I, of course, I look forward to justice. Thank you very much.

And let me also remind you that judge has already made a decision with respect to the summary judgment. There is sufficient evidence to prove that in fact Mr. Trump and the Trump organization and the other defendants committed widespread fraud.

REPORTER: He's not the main witness. Are you satisfied --

TAPPER: All right. So that was Tish James talking right then.

Jamie Gangel, what is your impression right now of what is going on in this courtroom right now with Donald Trump?

GANGEL: Well, the thing that struck me today was the fine for the gag order, $10,000 fine. And it reminded me, Jake, you may remember, when we covered Bob Woodward's first book on Trump "Fear", and Woodward tells the story of how Trump's own lawyer, John Dowd, said you can't go on the stand. If you testify, was the quote, you'll end up in an orange jump suit.

And I remind everyone of that because one of things that the judge did in the gag order ruling was Trump took the stand. He was under oath. And he said, oh, I was talking about Michael Cohen, not your clerk. The judge said, that wasn't credible.

So just big picture, I -- that was my takeaway from today's court appearance.

TAPPER: And, Elie, what does this tell you about what comes next in the trial.

HONIG: So, Letitia James made a really important there. Michael Cohen is on the stand now. He's obviously a very important witness. But there is a lot of evidence here that needs to be gone through. There are other witnesses from inside of the Trump organization, there are financial documents.

And so, the point that the attorney general made there is this is a long trial, there is a lot of evidence and she made another really important point to keep in mind. The judge has already given what we call summary judgment. Meaning she's already found in favor of the A.G. against Donald Trump on one of the allegations in this case, the allegation of repetitive and persistent fraud.


So the AG has already won that issue. But there is still a long way to go. This case -- Michael Cohen is very important but this case does not solely rise or fall on Michael Cohen's testimony.

TAPPER: All right. Jamie Gangel and Elie Honig, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Here in the Middle East, emergency aid that should be headed into Gaza has been crippled by a fight over fuel. We're going to tell you where that stands next.


TAPPER: Welcome back to THE LEAD. We're live from Tel Aviv.

Diplomatic tensions are escalating after the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres said this at a U.N. Security Council meeting yesterday.


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.



TAPPER: He went on to say he was not trying to justify the appalling attacks. But in response, Israel's ambassador to the United Nations called for Guterres's resignation.

Today, Israel's ambassador to the U.N. said that Israel will block visas to U.N. representatives that, quote, the time has come to teach them a lesson, which prompted the U.N. secretary-general to make this statement today to, quote, set the record straight.


GUTERRES: I am shocked by the misrepresentations by some of my statements yesterday in the Security Council. As if -- as if I was justifying acts of terror by Hamas. This is false. It was the opposite.


TAPPER: Let's bring in CNN's Clarissa Ward who is live in Cairo, Egypt.

Clarissa, a diplomatic fight has been playing out for quite sometime as the fuel shortage is intensifying the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Bring us up to speed.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, there has been so much back and forth about this, Jake. The Israelis have been saying that Hamas actually holds hundreds of thousands of liters of fuel, but when we talk to humanitarian organizations, hospitals, the U.N. on the ground, they say this has actually now reached a crisis point. The World Health Organization saying that 12 of Gaza's 35 hospitals are now essentially out of commission, eight of those because they have simply run out of fuel.

The U.N. Relief and Works Agency that operates inside of Gaza has said previously that they would be forced to stop their operations tonight, earlier this afternoon speaking to CNN, they appeared to sort of calibrate that message slightly and said that if they one out of fuel, tonight or tomorrow, they will be forced to drastically reduce their operations.

We've been in touch with a number of doctors and hospitals on the ground who say that they really are now on their last drops of fuel. And what is important to remember here, Jake, of course, is that because the electricity has been cut off, it's fuel that powers the generators. It's generators that then allow incubators, ventilator machines and crucially desalination plants because clean water is no longer accessible, people are drinking brackish water according to doctors on the ground. And that is leading to spiking of rates in disease, but also preeclampsia in pregnant women.

And so, all of this really spiraling, making it clear that fuel is very much at center of efforts to try to get that aid in. But also appears to be deeply involved in a broader deal that may be surrounding the hostage issue or some kind of a possible humanitarian pause. Making it all that more complex and all that more dangerous for people on the ground who so desperately need to get it, Jake.

TAPPER: So Israel argues that if they let fuel in, Hamas controls Gaza and they will seize it and the fuel will be used to fuel rockets, which attack civilians in Israel and that the fuel will be used for oxygen in the tunnels.

Is there any way to guarantee that the fuel will go to the hospitals and go to the desalination plants and is it true that Hamas has fuel of its own?

WARD: So, we actually put this to the U.N. because the way it is been explained to us, is that the transportation of fuel would be going directly from one official body to another official body. That Hamas was not be involved at any point with this transport of fuel into Gaza.

And we asked UNRWA, the U.N. agency that operates inside of Gaza if they have ever had Hamas come and try to appropriate fuel, if they've had Hamas steal fuel from their warehouses as the IDF has claimed. They told us that they have never experienced that.

In terms of Israel's allegation about half a million liters of fuel that Hamas holds, that is simply impossible for us to verify. But certainly, if it's there, it is not getting to the hospitals in Gaza.

TAPPER: All right. Clarissa Ward, thank you so much.

Soldiers with the Israel Defense Forces are among the hundreds missing after Hamas's surprise terrorist attack on October 7th. Remember, there is con corruption in Israel. Every young man and young woman except for those who were exempt has to join the military and that includes 19-year-old Roni Eshel.


Roni was stationed at a military base in southern Israel near the Gaza border. Roni last texted her mother saying, quote, don't worry, I'm okay. I love you, with four heart emojis.

I want to bring in Roni's aunt, Tair Kowalsky, who joins me now live.

Thank you for being here. I'm sorry that we're meeting under these circumstances. It's horrible and I can't imagine what you're feeling.


TAPPER: Well, tell me.

KOWALSKY: Thank you for letting us tell our story.

TAPPER: Yeah, she's a beautiful girl.


TAPPER: I have nieces.

KOWALSKY: She is. She is my niece. She's 19-year-old girl, she, you know -- you say she's a soldier, she's part of IDF. But she was captured at Israeli territory from a safe base.

She has long lashes and beautiful eyes, and she loves Taylor Swift, and she loves Harry Stiles. She has one more year to finish her duty, and she was planning on going with her mom and her sister to one of these concerts in Europe, and then she planned on going to travel to New York and maybe study there.

And she's just a 19 years old girl who is away from home. And we don't know, we don't know what happened to her. We don't know her whereabouts. We don't know if she's alive or dead. We don't know how they treat her.

We certainly don't trust this murderers and monsters to keep her safe. We saw what they're capable of.

TAPPER: Yeah. KOWALSKY: When our families were butchered and our homes were burned.

You know, her dad Eyal and her mom, Sharon, they have the weirdest prayer to know that -- to hear something, to hear -- you -- can you imagine to have to choose between finding out that she's being captured by Hamas ISIS --

TAPPER: Right.

KOWALKSY: -- or being burnt to death, so hard that she's unrecognizable.

TAPPER: Yeah. No, I can't. It's awful. I mean, the reason I mentioned that there's conscription in Israel is because it's important to understand that there's no choice, you have to be in the military when you're 18, 19 years old, some of the religious communities are exempt. But generally speaking, everybody is in the military when they're 18, 19 years old, because in a country like Israel, you have to be in the military.

KOWALSKY: You have to be in the military and you want to be in the military, because you want to defend your family and your home and your border. You know, you learn so many values when you go to the army.

If you meet, you know, kids 18, 19 years old here, we grow up so fast. Like, there is a transition in these two years or three years that we're in the military, that we're changing. We have responsibility. We're responsible for people. We're responsible for homes. We're responsible for our borders.

TAPPER: You're responsible for protecting the rest of Israel from attacks.


TAPPER: And infiltrations.

KOWALSKY: And Roni's job is to be a lookout, a lookout at the border, at the hottest border in Israel.

TAPPER: At the Gaza Strip.

KOWALSKY: Inside Israeli territory.

TAPPER: Yeah. No, I get it, I get it. Did you hear from -- how did you find out, and have you heard from the IDF? Have you heard from the government? Have they been keeping you up to speed on what's going on?

KOWALSKY: What happened is that this black Saturday, October 7th, there is a genocide that happened here in Israel, inside Israeli territory.

TAPPER: Fourteen hundred people killed, yeah.

KOWALSKY: Yeah, and thousands wounded and families that have been evacuated and stripped apart, and 220 missing, kidnapped, people who are women, children, babies, elders, that were stolen from their beds. Even before it was morning, and stolen from a music festival that me and my friends were supposed to go to and a cousin of ours.

TAPPER: You were going to go to the --

KOWALSKY: Yeah, we were going to go there to celebrate, you know, to enjoy it. We had friends from New York coming in.

TAPPER: Why didn't you go?

KOWALSKY: Because we had Bruno Mars the day after.

TAPPER: So you wanted to save your strength.

KOWALSKY: Yeah. So simple, right?

TAPPER: So, I want you to look at the camera. What would you say if Hamas or somebody from Qatar or Egypt or Turkey, who might have influence, what do you want them to know about Roni to get her home? What do you want to say to them?

KOWALSKY: I want to say -- I want to -- I don't want to speak to Hamas. Hamas doesn't listen --

TAPPER: Okay, but maybe somebody who has influence with them.

KOWALSKY: But, yeah, I want to talk to the international community.


I want to speak to every citizen of the world who does not believe in terror and does not believe the 40 beheaded kids are responsible for anything but their own, you know, snooze (ph) and anything else. I want to reach out to you and I want to say to you that it is your responsibility to bring Roni home.

And not only Roni, 30 kids that are in captivity in Gaza, in tunnels, in the dark, that no one knows if, you know, someone hugs them, someone is wiping their tears, that their parents are murdered, and they're orphans right now, because vicious, vicious monsters decided that this is how they fight.

Don't believe Hamas ISIS. Don't believe them, as they say it's for the Palestinians. They're against the Palestinians. They're against their own people. They use them as shields. They block the roads when IDF say evacuate because we're coming. We're coming for Hamas. We're not coming for people.

And it's your responsibility to tell the story and to understand the narrative, and to understand that there is a very short window for these people to come back, for my Roni to come back. And if you go and you support this, you know, you feel awoke and you want to talk about the misery, there is lots of misery here in Israel. Israel wants to live inside of Israel territory.

And I reach out to you and I say, Roni is just a 19-year-old girl. She's someone's daughter. She's someone's sister. She's someone's grandkid.


KOWALSKY: And we miss her and we need her home.


KOWALSKY: This is not the first time my family has suffered from terror attacks. This is happening to us, generation after generation after generation. This is the fourth generation that we lose our family members.

So don't -- there is no good terror and bad terror, there's only bad terror. There are only bad monsters who steal babies from their beds.

I don't want to go into graphics. You can find everything, everything online, because Hamas ISIS has published it.

TAPPER: Okay. Tair, Tair Kowalsky, I hope you come back again with Roni.


TAPPER: And tell your story with Roni, okay?

KOWALSKY: Thank you so much.

TAPPER: Thank you so much.

We'll be right back.