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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump Questioned Under Oath, Fined For Violation Gag Order; GOP Rep. Mike Johnson Elected House Speaker; Netanyahu Says Israel Is Preparing For Ground Invasion Of Gaza; Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Is Interviewed About GOP Rep. Mike Johnson Elected House Speaker; Father Details How Hamas Killed Daughter In Front Of Grandchildren. Aired 5- 6p ET

Aired October 25, 2023 - 17:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I'm looking at from a rooftop over Tel Aviv. It's almost midnight, 18 days since the horrific terrorist attacks by Hamas caught this country and frankly the world by surprise, setting off a cascade of consequences including now a humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Part of that, the lack of basic necessities, food and water and fuel, we'll get to that. But first two other major breaking stories domestically in the United States after 22 days without a speaker of the House of Representatives, Republicans finally got their act together.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Honorable Mike Johnson.


TAPPER: Republican Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana is now House Speaker Mike Johnson with unanimous Republican support taking the gavel from former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy. And just like McCarthy, Johnson is a vocal supporter of former President Donald Trump and also was a key congressional figure in the failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election based on Donald Trump's lies about the election. More on Johnson's election in a moment.

But we begin with Donald Trump today making a stunning appearance on the witness stand at his own civil fraud trial in New York. CNN's Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paul Reid is with us now.

Paula, tell us why Trump was on the witness stand today. And what happened?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, he made a brief appearance on the witness stand today not to talk about the substance of that $250 million fraud trial, but instead to answer questions from the judge about whether he may have violated a gag order that the judge had imposed. And the judge had previously barred Trump from making comments about members of the court staff. And that came after Trump posted about the judge's clerk suggesting that she was partisan, and Trump was subsequently fined $5,000 when that post remained up long after that gag order was in place. But today, Trump said that the judge was partisan, but also said that he was sitting alongside another very partisan person appearing to once again reference the clerk and that Trump's lawyers denied that's who he was speaking about. And on the stand, Trump insisted that yes, he was talking about the judge, but the person next to him he was referring to was the star witness, Michael Cohen.

But Jake, the judge wasn't buying it. He said that he found Trump, quote, "not credible" and that these statements were intentional and hit Trump with a $10,000 fine. But, Jake, going forward, it's going to be challenged for the judge in this case, judge in at least one of the other federal cases to try to enforce these gag orders. Least the judge in the federal case here in D.C. said, look, I need to put on a trial and protect court staffers. But we know former President Trump is insistent, he is determined to try to paint all of these proceedings as partisan pursuits.

TAPPER: And Paula, CNN has some new exclusive reporting on the Georgia election subversion case. We're hearing more plea deals might be in the works?

REID: Yes, potentially up to half a dozen. So the sprawling RICO case charged 19 defendants, four of them have already secured deals with prosecutors. And our colleagues Zach Cohen, Nick Valencia and Jason Morris have learned the prosecutors are in talks with around six other defendants and that they're open to striking deals with pretty much everyone except for former President Trump where there appears to be little desire to compromise.


Now, Trump and his attorneys have suggested that this willingness to strike deals is a sign that this case is weak. But Jake, we know this is how RICO prosecutions and many criminal cases work. You try to flip defendants and really focus on a certain set of key defendants. And that's exactly what you're seeing here. And so far, they've been pretty successful in just a short amount of time.

They've been able to secure plea deals from three people and worked very closely with Trump's legal team or directly on that legal team to challenge the results of the 2020 election. And in addition, a bail bondsman, he was actually the first person to strike a deal. And as someone said, these are pretty favorable deals because, quote, "the first to squeal gets the deal." The sooner you are willing to strike a deal with prosecutors, the more favorable the terms. And what we've seen, Jake, over the past several days are some really good deals for these defendants.

As I said, three of them, people who work as attorneys who worked on these legal challenges, and they have all been really keen to protect their livelihood, their bar licenses, they were able to do that through these deals. Let's see what else prosecutors can do with these other defendants. They're hoping to secure a cooperation from. TAPPER: All right, Paul Reid, waxing poetic, thank you so much. Appreciate it. I want to bring in the "New York Times" Maggie Haberman.

Maggie, let's start with what we're seeing in New York today. Do you think a second fine for violating a gag order $10,000 is going to convince Trump not to say whatever he wants to say whenever he wants to say it?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: As we've seen Jake Trump is going to test the bounds of whatever limits are put on him over and over. And we saw that he was fined in this case previously, just not under the circumstances, it wasn't in the form of a gag order, but earlier in the AGs case against him. It did ultimately have an impact but it took several days. I think this might have an impact. Right now, I don't know how long lived it will be, $10,000 to Trump. He doesn't like partying with money, but it's not a lot of money.

TAPPER: You noted that Michael Cohen his -- Trump's former fixer and lawyer has been looking for a showdown with Trump for a few years. How much of Trump's anger today and Trump's comments on social media are driven by seeing his former fixer on the stand publicly betraying him?

HABERMAN: It's a big piece, this personal nature of this few, Jake, in terms of their behavior, seeing from Trump, he wanted to be at this trial. He doesn't have to be there. He's not a criminal defendant. And he didn't have to go but he has wanted to go when Michael Cohen was testifying, plan to do it last week when Cohen was supposed to be there is there now. He thinks that things go better when he shows up the trials.

Now as we've seen he ended up getting fined by the judge. So that didn't quite work out. But he accomplished what he wanted to do, which was to glower up Michael Cohen for a while. I do think that Cohen gets under Trump's skin. I do think that Cohen rattles Trump in a very specific way. And I think you're seeing Trump tried to do it back.

TAPPER: And take a look at the image CNN just obtained of Donald Trump on the stand today. It's a courtroom sketch. We always like these interesting courtroom sketches. Everybody has their own little interpretation of him. This is Trump when he was being questioned under oath about the gag order.

The judge didn't find Trump's explanation as to who he was talking about when he referred to somebody as being more partisan than somebody else. Trump said he was talking about Michael Cohen, but the judge didn't believe him. He thought he was talking about his clerk and the judge then fine Donald Trump $10,000 for violating it. He basically called Trump a liar, basically insinuated Trump was lying under oath. What's your reaction to this?

And I don't know, you're not an art critic, but what's your take on the image?

HABERMAN: Unfortunately, I can't see the image. So I'm sorry that I can't. My take on what -- I don't have a reverse showing here. But what my take from what happened on the stand is you're correct that Judge Engoron has not liked how Trump has dealt with this trial, said very bluntly that he doesn't find him credible. Now, does that mean he doesn't find them credible in every instance?

I don't know that that matters. He's saying it while Trump was under oath. And Trump remember, Jake, is going to have to testify in this trial as a witness in the next two weeks. And so the fact that this is going into his questioning with this level of rancor with the judge, it's just not helpful to him at a time when he's trying to save his company.

TAPPER: All right, Maggie Haberman, good talking to you. Thank you so much, my friend.


A very busy afternoon here on The Lead. We're live from Tel Aviv. A brand new Speaker of the House was elected just a few hours ago. Republicans managing to get their ducks in a row or whatever in a row. One of the first orders of business for the new speaker. That's next.


TAPPER: We're back with another major story we're following tonight. It has been 22 days since eight Republicans conspired to oust then Speaker Kevin McCarthy and weeks of dysfunction followed, weeks. Republican lawmakers were unable to come to a consensus of who should replace him. And the House of Representatives for the first time in American history had no speaker and the legislative branch was not functional. Today, finally, House Republicans came together and like adults managed to coalesce around a candidate.

They picked Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana as their new speaker. CNN's Manu Raju joins me now from Capitol Hill.

Manu, Speaker Mike Johnson, he's known as a big Trump supporter. He was one of the fervent voices pushing to overturn the 2020 election results in states of Biden won. He's one of the most conservative members of the House. Are swing district Republicans worried at all about any blowback for supporting him?


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a great question, Jake. In fact, I've put that question to a number of these members that are 18 Republicans from districts that Joe Biden carried in 2020. And the question for them is, how Speaker Johnson will deal with them in their conference? Those 18 members all voted for Speaker Johnson today on the House floor. And even as he's taken positions that are much further to the right on issues like gay marriage, which he opposes, issues such as abortion, calling for much stricter limits on abortion bans that some of these members simply do not support.

And also, in 2020, drafting a brief, supporting a Texas lawsuit seeking to invalidate electoral results showing that Joe Biden was victorious across several swing states. Mike Johnson led the charge and that effort in the House. I put that question to several New York Republicans, people who are supporting him, people who are central to this narrow Republican majority and could see their seats flip in the next elections, given how their districts are swing districts, they downplayed his past positions and simply said, they want to look forward. Listen.


RAJU: Does that concern you?

REP. MARCUS MOLINARO (R-NY): I'm going to judge Speaker Mike Johnson by the way in which he engages with members like me.

REP. ANTHONY D'ESPOSITO (R-NY): This is the present, today's 2023. Whatever happened in the past, again, that was a vote that he took. It was a --

RAJU: (Inaudible) voting draft and a brave.

D'ESPOSITO: But those are questions that he has to answer.

RAJU: Right.

D'ESPOSITO: I didn't draft it. I'm not supporting it. And again, he has -- he remains -- even as Speaker of the House, he remains one vote.

REP. NICK LALOTA (R-NY): But if the overall premise is that you don't have faith in the results, let's be fair about it. And there's a whole bunch of Democrats who did that very same thing in 2016.


RAJU: Now last congressman, Congresswoman Lalota, trying to equate Democrats questioning Donald Trump's victory in 2016 to the efforts to overturn the electoral results in 202o, two separate matters, but nevertheless something that he plans to argue. The larger point here, Jake, is that these members are giving him room, Speaker Johnson room. After weeks of infighting weeks of battling, they simply want to move on with the legislative process. And they said his past views or his past views. Now it's time to unite his Republican Party and deal with the pressing issues that they have been unable to deal with given the state of paralysis, that meant the GOP in fighting, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Manu Raju, thanks so much.

Let's bring in CNN's Political Director David Chalian, as well as former Republican representative for Michigan, Fred Upton.

Congressman, let me start with you. Why do you think Speaker Mike Johnson had the magic touch here?

FRED UPTON, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, MICHIGAN: Well, we'll see. I mean, this -- the speaker nightmare is now over, that's for sure. But now he's got to deal with a nightmare and the rest of the world. And I think that's what's going to determine his success or not. Now, you know, as you talk to particularly moderates, those members who were -- those Republican members that were elected in districts that went from Joe Biden, they're going to be at the table. He's -- the doors not going to be locked. They're going to be at the table. They're going to be weighing in already. Right now, as we talk, the House is passing a resolution to condemn the attack that Hamas did a couple of weeks ago, it's passing overwhelmingly in the House.

But you got Ukraine, you've got the Israeli aid package that the President sent up. Obviously, you have the CR in a couple of weeks. Those are going to be the issues that really determine the success or failure of Speaker Mike Johnson.

TAPPER: So, David, one of the things that's interesting is Jim Jordan and his role in the efforts to overturn the election, was a big reason why people did not want him, a small number of people, but people Republican Congressmen did not want him to be speaker, specifically Congressman Ken Buck who said that that was really key to his vote, that Jim Jordan would not say that Joe Biden was elected president. But Mike Johnson, Speaker Johnson, was also a big part of the effort to decertify the 2020 election results. He drafted an amicus brief in support of that crazy Texas attorney general lawsuit. He hasn't said that Joe Biden won fair and square, Ken Buck voted for him. Why did Jim Jordan not get the pass that Mike Johnson got?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, perhaps Ken Buck had a beef with Jim Jordan or didn't like the persona of Jim Jordan as the face of the Republican Party. Ken Buck will have to answer that. But you are right to note, Mike Johnson's role in drafting that brief, in whipping up votes for Republicans to get onto that brief and reporting back to the Trump White House about who's on board with it and who wasn't. And as you noted, that Texas case was not even, you know, taken up by the Supreme Court, they just dismissed it as it didn't have standing.


And this is something that Congressman Aguilar, the Democrat, the number three Democrat in the House leadership, number two Democratic in the House leadership, mentioned in his speech, Jake, and listen to how a Republican congresswoman responded on the House floor.


REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA), DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS CHAIRMAN: House Republicans have put their names behind someone who has been called the most important architect of the Electoral College objections.


AGUILAR: He's spearheaded. That's fair. That's fair. We know how you feel. Yes.

You made that clear.

(END VIDEO CLIP) CHALIAN: Damn right is what a Republican member shouted back to Aguilar. This was a credential of Mike Johnson's that he successfully sold to the Republican Conference while it was a discrediting factor for somebody like Tom Emmer, who couldn't get out of the gate.

TAPPER: Yes, that was Congresswoman Luna from Florida, I believe.

And Congressman Upton, this is -- I mean, this is two thirds of the House Republicans voted to disenfranchise Arizonans and Pennsylvanians based on these election lies. So it's not a surprise that the new speaker of the House is also an election liar, I suppose. I mean, Emmer was the outlier. It was going to be an election liar whether it was McCarthy or Scalise or Jordan or Johnson. I guess this is just what your party is now.

UPTON: Well, it is dominated by those folks. And of course, you know, Trump was behind this. I mean, Emmer won a majority in the caucus. I voted with Emmer, by the way on that same issue, when I was, of course, retired earlier this year, but Trump was somewhat neutral. And then when Emmer won the nomination in the conference a day or so ago, he then came out against them, and he actually torpedoed his chances.

And if you look at some of the press reports, you'll see that even Matt Gaetz today is doing a victory lap. It's almost like they concocted this scheme to get rid of him, Gaetz's arch enemy, Kevin McCarthy, and tried to figure out a way how to get Mike Johnson in. And, you know, as we all know, there really is not more of a conservative in the House than Mike Johnson today. But he's got the gavel, and we'll see how he rules. And he's got to deal with the Senate that requires 60 votes to get anything done.

And you got the clock ticking on all these issues, Ukraine, Israel, the CR, the Farm Bill, the FAA Reauthorization bill, the list is long. They were supposed to be in recess next week. They're not going to be nor should they be, they need to work.

TAPPER: Yes. All right, Congressman Upton, David Chalian, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Up next live here from Tel Aviv, new comments today from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his country's timeline on a potential ground invasion into Gaza. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: We're back with our world lead live from Tel Aviv. The growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza at an inflection point, if no fuel is allowed to be delivered into Gaza, the biggest humanitarian operation inside Gaza's borders we're told will shut down. The United Nations Relief and Works Agency today warning that it is the only lifeline for Palestinian refugees. And hundreds of American citizens are also still trapped inside Gaza, unable to leave, as Hamas is stopping people from even approaching Egypt's border crossing. The ongoing Israeli bombardment of Hamas targets in Gaza retaliation for the Hamas terrorist attack and mass murder and kidnapping of Israeli and other civilians.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in steroid Israel.

Nic, I'll get back to the fuel issue in just a moment. But first, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke this evening, just a few hours ago saying that a ground incursion into Gaza is coming. But he still left the timing, at least publicly up in the air.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLAMATIC EDITOR: He did. And it's hard to get a sense on the ground from the troops who are close to the frontline precisely when it's going to come other than they say that they're ready. What we hear here and what we've been seeing this evening seems to indicate that the tempo around the front is heating up. We've seen for example, more tank fire, these horizontal, big red tracers, you're seeing perhaps on the video there firing across the screen. We've seen a little bit of that, we're seeing a lot more of it tonight.

We're hearing a lot of heavy detonations and a lot of artillery being fired into Gaza. We were close to Gaza today when there was a big strike on Gaza City, saw the smoke rising. And what the prime minister has indicated is that these air operations, the artillery and missile strikes, that the ground incursion will simply be a continuation of that. Everyone here is expecting it. People we speak to in this town around here say we need it to happen.

We're not going to feel safe until it happens. He has -- the prime minister has the support of the people. How can they live close the border they say unless this security issue is dealt with? The groundwork is being laid. And as you say, we don't know when but I think we know it is going to happen.

TAPPER: Netanyahu has the support of the people when it comes to a ground incursion on that issue, I don't know about the political issue, Netanyahu support. The Israeli military has gone back and forth publicly on whether or not it's going to allow fuel into Gaza. Where does this thing stand right now?


ROBERTSON: Yeah, and I think to your point about Netanyahu's political standing, a lot of those who want to see that incursion also tell us they want to see that they're happy for Netanyahu to step down and get out of the way after all of this. They're not necessarily fans of his.

And interestingly, today, for the first time, he actually said, yes, everyone will be asked questions about the security failure around October the 7th fest. The first time has come out publicly and said even I, even me, I will face questions about it as well. That's a sort of changing narrative on the fuel, no change in narrative from the IDF there. They are still saying no fuel into Gaza, because any fuel we put in, Hamas will use it for their military advantage.

And to the point of saying what Hamas has all the fuel it needs, it's been stockpiling it. We've been watching it go in. And we know that they have it already. So this is a real toe to toe point of contention about the fuel and the IDF is not budging on it. Jake?

TAPPER: So no fuel in Gaza, to these humanitarian groups that could obviously be devastating. What would it look like?

ROBERTSON: It would look like the health care facilities not functioning. It would look like they're not being oxygen. It would look like they're not being light available inside the hospitals for surgeons to do their work. And of course, they're working deep inside the hospitals because they're afraid of incoming missiles.

So they work in places that need electrical light, electricity drives the water desalination plant. That's one of the only areas where there's a limited amount of water becoming available for the citizens. So it means that there would be a desperately exacerbated humanitarian situation for those 2.2 million people short of water, short of light, shortage of medical facilities.

And for many of them, their hopes of seeing a better day, that dwindles too, because it will feel very tough for them.

TAPPER: All right, Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

Coming up, we're going to go to Capitol Hill and talk to a senator about the conflict playing out in the Middle East after He just returned from a trip here to Israel. Stay with us.



TAPPER: And we're back with our World Lead. Just moments ago, the U.S. House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support passed a resolution in support of Israel. And they can actually do that now because they finally have a speaker after 22 days without one. It is House Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana who said that this resolution would be his very first order of business after Hamas attacked, murdered and kidnapped Israeli citizens and citizens from other countries on October 7th.

With us now Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota, he just returned from a congressional delegation trip to Israel. Senator, thank you so much for coming on the show. We appreciate it. Tell us what you saw and experienced on your trip to Israel.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD), MINORITY WHIP: Well, we hit, Jake, we hit Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Israel. In Israel, for sure we met with families of family members who had been taken hostage, which was a very as you know, powerful and emotional meeting and just reaffirmed our commitment to do everything working with our administration here in the United States, as well as with regional partners in the region to try and get the American hostages out.

We still have a number of them they're unaccounted for. And that's a obviously a huge priority for those families, and certainly a huge priority for all the members of our delegation. And then, of course, met with the Israeli officials to find out get an update on what's happening with regard to the conflict.

And, you know, the Israelis live on a razor's edge there they have been now for the last since Hamas took power back in the 2005 timeframe, they have been living next door to somebody whose principle mission in life is to kill Jews and to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. So this has real world consequences for them. And they view it as an existential debate as to whether or not they're going to be around as a nation and as a people.

TAPPER: Obviously, there are a lot of concerns about the innocent Palestinians in Gaza and the humanitarian crisis there, not only because of the airstrikes, but because of the inability of aid to get into Gaza. Would you support a temporary pause in airstrikes, if you don't want to call it a ceasefire or just a temporary pause, to allow some of the aid to get in?

THUNE: I think the, obviously the Israelis as much as anyone want to make sure that innocents are protected from all this. And I think any questions about how that's done, it needs to be in consultation with them. If they believe that a pause makes sense, then I think we would obviously, you know, defer to their judgment on that.

But I think, you know, the argument that's being made out there about a ceasefire, potential ceasefire, I think all that does is embolden and enable and strengthen Hamas. So I think the Israelis understand that there are innocent Palestinians who are victims of Hamas, just like, you know, they are in all of this and want to do everything they can to make sure that those people are protected. And they're going to try and do that in, you know, as they continue to try and eliminate Hamas, make sure that they purchase innocents.


But as you know that's not easy to do because Hamas uses the civilians as human shields. And clearly they have no concern about however much human carnage gets accumulated as a result of this. So it's really, I think the Israelis call and working with our regional partners, trying to make sure we do everything we can to get hostages out and make sure that innocents are protected.

TAPPER: We've been talking to a couple Palestinian Americans who are trapped in Gaza, and there are something like 500 to 600 Americans stuck in Gaza. It's obviously a complicated issue. But what is your understanding as to why these Americans can't get out? And do you think the Biden administration is doing enough to get them out?

THUNE: Well, we've tried to reiterate and emphasize with the administration is this needs to be job number one, let's get Americans home, including, you know, Americans we know about as well as Americans that are unaccounted for that ought to be their principal objective in all this. And I think we have been, there have been discussions with those in the area who can help as partners and making that happen.

And hope we see some progress there. But you know, at the end of the day, that's, at least from our standpoint here in the States, we want to do everything we can to get Americans who are affected by this in Gaza back home safely, and we should be working with whomever. And I think, again, there are some folks who have some influence in all this in the region to make that happen.

TAPPER: It looks like after almost three weeks of whatever it was, your colleagues in the House finally had themselves a speaker elected Congressman Mike Johnson of Louisiana. In his comments, he has talked about aid to Israel, not so much about aid to Ukraine. Are you concerned about that? Will there be congressional aid to Ukraine in the future?

THUNE: Well, my expectation is that there will. And again, I don't know exactly how it all comes together at this point. We have our own process in the Senate. The House, as you point out, has a new speaker, which we're grateful for, and hopefully, they can get up and functioning again, and deal with the issue of providing aid for Israel. And we'll see about obviously where the votes are on Ukraine.

But I certainly expect that there will be a big vote in the end in the House and the Senate for a package that supports America's national security objectives, which in my view, include supporting and defending Israel, their right to defend themselves, and then also making sure that we stop Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

TAPPER: Speaker-elect Johnson, not only voted against counting the electoral votes from Arizona and Pennsylvania, based on that wild election lies from Trump and company. He's one of the guys that helped organize that crazy election lawsuit from Texas. The Attorney General there got all the signatures, went to the U.S. Supreme Court, they didn't even take a look at it, because it was so full of nonsense. Does that concern you at all?

THUNE: Well, he's now the Speaker of the House. And, you know, so he has a huge responsibility and discharging and executing the speaker's responsibilities and duties under the Constitution. So, you know, I have my own views. And I think you know well what those are with regard to the last election.

But as we look forward, it's really important now that we try and execute on an agenda, not only that addresses what our vital national security interest the United States, including what's happening abroad, and what's happening at our southern border, but also just the basic functions and duties of funding the government. There's a lot of work to do. And I'm all for let's move forward. Let's address the challenges this country faces in the future.

And, you know, whatever has happened in the past. It's at this point, at least in my view, as the Speaker of the House, his responsibilities to govern this country for the future.

TAPPER: Senator John Thune of the great state of South Dakota, thanks so much for joining us, sir.

THUNE: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up, my visit today with a father who tried to hide from Hamas in a safe room the tragedy that he learned about when he got out.



TAPPER: We're back in Tel Aviv with our coverage of the war on Hamas in Gaza and the terrorist attack on October 7th that started at all. And I'm going to tell you a story now of almost unimaginable cruelty Hamas killing a mother in front of her three-year-old son. This is a story we've heard time and time again since the October 7th Hamas attack, even as these very same terrorists tried to use the very same boy for propaganda purposes to show their alleged compassion.


ADI KAPLOUN, KILLED MY HAMAS (through translator): Endless lemons and here there's more, millions of fruits and vegetables without end.

TAPPER (voice-over): Her name was Adi Kaploun. She and her husband Anani moved to kibbutz Holit near Gaza to build a life together.

KAPLOUN (through translator): This is our bedroom and the bed was built by my husband.



TAPPER (voice-over): Adi gave a tour to an Israeli news station a few years ago.

KAPLOUN (through translator): I studied Judaism and it helps to calm me and some of the lessons are practical. We know this language but we speak in a different dialect.

TAPPER (voice-over): On the morning of October 7th, Anani was out on a sunrise hike with friends while Adi was home with their three-year-old son, Negev, and six month old son, Eshel. Her dad, Yaron, was visiting the kibbutz staying in the guest house across the street and then Hamas attacked.


YARON VITAL, DAUGHTER KILLED BY HAMAS (through translator): All the shooting started at 6:30 in the morning. I immediately called her to ask if I can come be with her. She said absolutely not, no way, definitely not. She said dad, stay in the apartment. Don't come out and close yourself in the safe room. Of course I listened to her.

TAPPER (voice-over): Hamas terrorists arrived on motorcycle and foot killing innocent civilians and migrant workers. Yaron closed himself off in a safe room as did Adi, hiding with her son's in her house's safe room.

Y. VITAL (through translator): We hear shooting, then quiet. Another house, shooting then quiet. At 12:30, Adi sends me a text message, dad, locked the door strongly. We guess that according to what happened afterward that was when they came into her house. There were shooting. There was lots of shooting noises, very loud, very close to me. I tried to call her. She didn't answer. After a few times the phone was disconnected, I already had a bad feeling.

TAPPER (voice-over): Yaron had no way of knowing Hamas terrorists had dragged his grandsons Negev and Eshel to another house, where Hamas terrorists then fired into a shelter and killed Haim Katzman (ph) and then dragged out Avital Alajem.

AVITAL ALAJEM, ABDUCTED BY HAMAS AND RELEASED: They took me to the living room and then came more terrorists with the children of my friend, Adi, which is she's still missing. They gave me Eshel, which is his four and a half months old and Negev who's almost four years old, both traumatized. And they just gave them to me.

TAPPER (voice-over): Avital, Negev and Eshel were then kidnapped and dragged at gunpoint to Gaza as hostages. Hamas then even used images of Negev and propaganda to show how compassionate they were, propaganda that appeared in Arabic media that we will not show you. The reality, of course, was far different.

ALAJEM: They were traumatized. They were shocked. Negev has a bullet -- had a bullet that crossed his foot. And then Eshel, the baby, he was breathing so much gunfire and his lungs were absorbing so much. Yeah, both of them were traumatized. And they were just quiet. They kept like, you know, gazing at the terrorists with terrified eyes. Negev, the four year old, he was wounded. So he couldn't walk, he was crawling, he was crying. And it was a traumatized experience.

TAPPER (voice-over): Miraculously, Avital managed to escape with the boys and they were able to reunite with their father. Yaron was rescued from his safe room by Israeli soldiers. They searched Adi's house, they found nothing and no one.

Y. VITAL (through translator): The entire house was filled with so many bullets, bullets from a firearm, the door of the safe room. The door looked awful. It was full of holes, full of bullet holes, dozens of bullets.

TAPPER (voice-over): Then the mystery. Where was Adi? Where was she?

ALAJEM: We don't know she's missing.

TAPPER (voice-over): Days past.

JACQUI RIVERS VITAL, DAUGHTER KILLED BY HAMAS: I mean, I couldn't even touch my shoulders. I was so tense.

TAPPER (voice-over): And then the grim answer came. Adi had been murdered. Her body was booby trapped. It had been hidden in her house. It had been there the whole time.

Y. VITAL (through translator): It turned out afterward that because it didn't move anything, everything was booby trapped with grenades. And only after three days, it turned out that Adi was underneath all the mess under the bed. They shot her. They shot her really cruelly. They really murdered her. All the bullets that were in the door, her body absorbs some of them.

J. VITAL: That's a terrible ending. But there was an end. And every day it just gets worse. It gets worse. There's more hostages. It's more, yes, it's terrible. You know just the three days waiting, not knowing. I can't imagine the people who are 70 days now waiting and don't know, I can't imagine.

TAPPER (voice-over): The grandsons thankfully we're alive. But how is Negev today? What have you seen? His foot is now healing but what of his heart? What of his soul?

J. VITAL: I know that he was told right from the start that his mother was not coming back. I don't know how he's processing it.

TAPPER (voice-over): What was the purpose of killing Adi Kaploun? What does it achieve to kill her in front of her baby boys? For now, all that Jacqui and Yaron can do is grieve the loss of their beloved daughter and hug their grandsons.

Y. VITAL: I came first to the hospital, Negev was eating supper at the time and he told me, Sava come sit beside me. I want -- I'm eating supper. And I want you to sit beside me.


J. VITAL: I'm just so glad to see that he was running around and that Eshel has the most beautiful smile. And I got to hold them.


TAPPER: Anani Kaploun, Anani, a widower, he now has to decide whether to move back to the kibbutz whether to move back to the home where his wife was slaughtered in front of his sons. The kinds of decisions no one should ever have to make. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: I know a lot of you want to help the people who are suffering in Gaza and Israel. CNN has a list of vetted organizations that are helping with humanitarian relief. You can head to for information on how you can get involved and you can help. So please check it out.

I'm going to have more from Tel Aviv on The Lead tomorrow. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. Stay safe.