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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Donald Trump Testifies On His Civil Fraud Trial; New Round of Explosions In Gaza; Impact Of Off-Year Elections In Kentucky, Ohio, And Virginia; Control Of Virginia's State Legislature Up For Grabs Tuesday; Protesters Around The World Call For A Ceasefire. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 06, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to "The Lead." I'm Jake Tapper. Looking ahead to a big election day in America tomorrow in Virginia. The question, can Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin chart a path forward for Republican candidates that is not a Trump path forward? In Kentucky, can Democratic Governor Andy Beshear hold power in that red Commonwealth? And will Ohio voters continue the trend and establish a state-level right to abortion? We're gonna get into the big races and issues driving tomorrow.

Also, this hour, Hamas and its money, how the terrorist group is funding its side of the war, its big money tunnel exploration. My guest ahead was a finance tracker at the Treasury Department and worked the Hamas file.

And leading this hour, a historic day in the New York courtroom, Donald Trump taking the stand in the civil fraud case that could bring down his family empire in New York, New York. He repeatedly went back and forth with the judge who accused Trump of rambling in long-winded testimony. Trump himself today called the case election interference as he runs for president in 2024. He called the New York attorney general who brought this case a political hack and a racist.

Let's go now to CNN's Paula Reid who is outside the courthouse in Manhattan. Paula, Trump's strategy on the stand, not surprisingly, attack, attack, attack. Now his lawyers are debating a motion for a mistrial. Where do things stand?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS: Well, Jake, after all the chaos and those contentious exchanges in court today, it does appear that the Attorney General's Office was able to elicit some helpful testimony from their star witness. Trump acknowledged at least some role in helping to value these assets in his real estate portfolio, undercutting the argument by his own attorneys where they had been trying to put distance between him and these estimates that the Attorney General's office is trying to prove were fraudulent and should result in these massive penalties.

Now, Trump, it appeared his goal today on the stand was to use this time to attack the Attorney General and the judge. And at first the judge was trying to rein him in. If he went off course or didn't answer a question directly, the judge would cut in. But as the day went on, the judge did that lesson last and instead deferred to the assistant attorney general who was ultimately able to get some answers that are helpful for this phase of their case.

TAPPER: And what does this tell us about what we can expect for the other numerous trials Trump faces?

REID: Well, Jake, this is the first time we've seen the former president facing hostile questions. How does he do on the stand? Now, I want to emphasize here, this is a civil case. What is on the line are potential very significant penalties and his company's ability to do business in the state of New York. That is significant.

But when this moves to a criminal case, which is what he's facing in Fulton County, Georgia, and two federal criminal prosecutions, there is the possibility for jail time. So that threat could always alter someone's behavior, alter their conduct, but it did appear today that he was willing to potentially expose himself to greater legal peril or what he may perceive to be inevitable legal peril to get his message across.

And that is that he believes he is, a victim of political bias and sort of try to paint himself as a martyr in the court of public opinion, even if it increases his exposure in the actual courtroom.

TAPPER: Paula Reed, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Let's bring in former Trump attorney Tim Parlatore. Tim, thanks for joining us (inaudible) CNN. The Trump's legal team is happy with his testimony today. How do you think it went?

TIM PARLATORE, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: Well, obviously, I didn't watch it directly. But from everything I heard, it doesn't sound like he did much to really help his case. I mean, whenever you don't answer questions directly and you kind of go on and on and answer different things, it doesn't help for your credibility at all. And what Paula just said about some of the answers at the end, you know, maybe that hurt him.

But I think this is a case where going into it, he'd already lost summary judgment. So, I think he's already kind of in a bad position where there's not much that he could really do, you know, to help himself in this case, though.

TAPPER: You don't think there's any way he could, if he had like hit this -- come to the stand and expressed not contrition necessarily, but tried to explain his point of view, you know, that he has an argument to make. You might not -- not you, but people might not believe it, but you have an argument to make about the worth of things might mean more with the Trump brand, et cetera, et cetera. I mean there is an argument he could make.

And if he wasn't attacking the judge, attacking the attorney general, trying to explain his case, might that not win over a judge? Not in terms of like not finding him, but potentially not finding him $250 million.


PARLATORE: Yeah, it's one of those judgment calls you have to make in the trial scenario. I've had some cases where, you know, right off the bat you're going to lose and so you might as well just try and build as many points for an appeal. I don't know what strategy they're following here. I mean, certainly there are things in here that can be explained as far as, you know, other people were doing things as you just said, the value of the Trump brand.

And also, some of these things are just matters of, you know, is it plausible? You know, the whole discussion about, you know, the size of his apartment, the top of Trump Tower, you know, that's not something that's tremendously difficult to figure out. All you have to do is look at the footprint of the building, you know. So, it is something that I think that in the ordinary course, you would want to try to explain a little bit better.

And as I always say in trial, you know, if it's a jury trial, there's only 12 opinions that matter. And if it's a judge trial, there's only one opinion that matters, and yours isn't it and you have to really play to the decision maker, in this case, the judge.

TAPPER: Look, I've never been tried for anything, but I just try to imagine, like, when I get pulled over for speeding. I mean, I'm not going to be a jerk to the cop, right? I mean, I'm just going to be polite and hope that, like, that's, you know, maybe if I'm nice, he'll give me a break. And that's obviously not Trump's approach.

PARLATORE: Right. Well, and one other thing to remember here, this is a civil case where he does not have a Fifth Amendment privilege. So, in any criminal case or when you get stopped by the cops, you don't have to say anything at all and it's not something that should be held against you. But in this civil case, it's very unique because he is forced to testify and in fact, he was called as a witness by the attorney general's office. So, they had to do a direct examination instead of a cross. So, it's a very different scenario than normal.

TAPPER: Trump is facing many cases, as you note, including criminal cases over his handling of classified documents, allegedly trying to overturn the 2020 election results. This case, of course, is personal. The future of the Trump Organization in New York is at stake. Do you think that makes him nervous? What do you think it means to him?

PARLATORE: Well, I think this one, not only is it, you know, the entire life's work that he's built up before the presidency, but it also involves his kids, you know. If he goes down for the January 6th case or the Mar-a-Lago case, that doesn't really involve his family, but this is something that directly implicates the conduct of his children and is something that would have much longer lasting effects. And I think that is one of the reasons why he's taking it so much more personally than the other cases.

TAPPER: Why do you think Trump's team chose to not cross-examine him today? Did that strike you as strange at all? Would you have done a cross-examination to at least try to clean up whatever messes he made? PARLATORE: Well, of course I would. I think any competent attorney

would try to do a cross-examination even if it's a fairly rudimentary one. As to what Chris Kise and Alina Habba have as far as strategy, that's not something I could possibly guess.

TAPPER: All right, Tim Parlatore, good to see you. Thank you so much for your time.

Now we have some breaking news for you now. Flares are lighting up the Gaza sky as we hear a new round of explosions. Let's get straight to CNN's Nic Robertson who is in Sderot, Israel right near the Gaza border. That's one of the communities that Hamas brutally invaded and attacked on October 7th. Nic, walk us through what you are hearing and seeing on the ground there.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Just heard a large detonation behind us in the distance and just before you came to us, I believe you can see the images from inside Gaza of flares illuminating the sky. We're perhaps a little north of there looking into Gaza from further away. We were able to see about four or five flares hanging in the sky.

We have -- we can see -- we were able to see those flares a short time ago from here earlier on. There were more flares over that same area. Over the past couple of nights, in that part of Gaza, we've been able to see flares and hear detonations and at times see some very, very heavy detonations, multiple detonations. In fact, right now I'm listening to a fighter jet in the sky above us, which tends to mean we could be hearing some heavy explosions shortly.

We know on the ground in Gaza City itself and surrounding it, the Israel Defense Forces have been about and poised to go in on the ground. Of course, this is dangerous territory for them because Hamas, for them, is sort of controls these streets until now. At least they can create what the military would call a killing zone to draw in the troops on the ground in their tanks, in their armored fighting vehicles, and then try to block them off with explosions, pin them in and then fire armor-piercing rocket-propelled grenades at them.


So that's the military tactics of what could play out on the ground at the moment. Of course, we know that IDF has now cut the Gaza Strip in two, cut the north off from the south. They've opened humanitarian corridors between the north and the south, that they are opening for civilians to move along during certain hours of the day. But it's at night time that we tend to see some of the heaviest bombardments. And we're hearing just a little bit of it at the moment right now, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, Nic Robertson, thank you so much. We're going to continue to monitor this breaking news. Stay with us. We're going to take in a quick break and we'll be right back.


TAPPER: I want to get back to our "Law and Justice Lead" now. Former President Trump wrapping up his, shall we call it, reality T.V. behavior in a very real civil fraud trial in New York today. The drama, and there certainly was a lot of it, was seen both in and out of the courtroom. CNN's Kristen Holmes is outside Trump Tower in Manhattan. Kristen, how have those within Trump's circle been reacting to his dramatic testimony today?


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, unsurprisingly, Trump's campaign advisors were actually really happy with his performance. They thought that he did a good job staying level, essentially egging on the judge, and they immediately started turning quotes from the judge, taking them out of context and using them on social media to portray this as a sham case. Just a reminder of how this messaging is, they wanted those sound bites and obviously there was no camera inside the courtroom with Trump, but we had reporters in there, essentially pushing out what exactly Trump was saying.

What was interesting about it was we knew he was going to go to the cameras and say this stuff about election interference, it being a political retribution, that it was his rivals or Democrats who were coming to get him. That's the reason he was going through all of these various trials because he is in fact running for president and they don't want him to win. But what was interesting was that he did that in the courtroom as well.

One of Trump's advisors saying to me they thought he did a good job because of the fact that he was controlling the messaging. That they said this is turning this into the Trump show and so that is why they were happy with the way it turned out today.

TAPPER: And how did Trump's testimony today give us any idea of how he'll fight for his presidential campaign?

HOLMES: Jake, this is exactly how he's going to fight for his presidential campaign. Talking again about this election interference, talking about how this is all political. We know that the messaging between the legal world and the political world has combined. He does not want to fight any of these cases in an actual courtroom. He wants to fight all of these cases in the court of public opinion. I mean, take a listen to just one of the things he said today about this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: It's very unfair. But in the meantime, the people of the country understand it. They see it and they don't like it. They don't like it because it's political warfare, as you would call it, or political lawfare.


HOLMES: And Jake, I get asked all the time what people on the campaign trail think. What do voters think? And I will tell you, it's not just his base that is listening to this rhetoric and picking up on it. I've talked to Republicans who attend these events who aren't sure they're going to support Donald Trump, but they do believe this messaging that there is a two-tier justice system, that things are fundamentally unfair, that people are targeting Donald Trump. And that is something that they are going to continue to message out there.

And of course, I want to draw attention to those polls that we saw over the weekend, "New York Times" polls showing Trump leading in a head-to-head potential matchup in these battleground states against Joe Biden. That is all that the team talked about on Sunday before this testimony was those poll numbers. And when they see that kind of a lead, when they see those kinds of polls, that doesn't make them change their strategy. It makes them double down on it. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, Kristen Holmes, thank you so much. A major election in several states tomorrow will likely give us a preview of what 2024 will look like from the Trump factor to the momentum of Democrats to abortion rights on the ballot in the wake of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision. We're going to talk about this next.



TAPPER: Yes. See you in election music. Yes, you're going to be hearing of this election music quite a bit over the next 36 hours or so. Tomorrow is election day in some parts of the United States and we are going to be looking for what actual voters, not pundits, not reporters, actual voters have to say about issues and candidates that will resonate everywhere in next year's presidential election.

A governor's race in Kentucky, which is usually reliably Republican in presidential races, but the governor's race there will test whether a moderate Democrat can hold onto power. In Ohio, we're gonna see whether voters push back against efforts to restrict abortion. They're also gonna weigh in on legalizing marijuana. And in Virginia, we're gonna find out whether voters want to maintain divided control of the state legislature or give Republicans a clean sweep. It's gonna be a big test for the governor there, Glenn Youngkin, on whether his version of conservative governance can triumph over Trump's.

We have reporters now in all three states, or should I say one state and two commonwealths. We're going to start with Jessica Dean in the Commonwealth of Virginia. And Jessica, Glenn Youngkin, he's not on the ballot tomorrow, but he is pushing for a totally Republican legislature to enact his agenda and also his version of a future for the Republican Party, a conservative future, but not a MAGA future.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. That's exactly what's on the ballot for Republicans here in Virginia. We're actually waiting for the governor to come out right now. He is sprinting across the state in these final hours trying to get out the vote. And just to remind everyone, the reason that we look to Virginia in these off years is because oftentimes what their legislature does correlates with what happens in the national election the following year.

So, in 2019, Democrats flipped both the House and the Senate. Then Joe Biden won this state by 10 points in 2020. In 2021, Republicans took back the House. And of course, in 2022, Republicans took back the House in Congress. So that is what we see in terms of patterns here. Oftentimes, they mimic what happens nationally.

And Jake, you mentioned Glenn Youngkin's agenda. He has tried to put forth a number of issues and legislation that the Senate -- that Senate Democrats have blocked. Chief among them, Virginia remains the only southern state that has enacted any further restrictions since Roe versus Wade was overturned in 2022. He pushed, Youngkin pushed for a 15-week ban with exceptions for incest, rape, and the life of the mother, but that was blocked.


So that is one of those key issues that drove turnout in the last midterms and we're gonna see what happens here in Virginia tomorrow night, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, now on to Eva McKend, who's in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. Eva, how do they have a Democratic governor in the first place, and does Andy Beshear have any hope of winning a second term?

EVA MCKEND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, Governor Beshear, he's going to hold a rally here in Lexington in about an hour. And he enters this final stretch here with some key advantages, one of them being his name. His father served as governor here for two terms. He's also been at the helm during several tragedies, the pandemic, natural disasters. And all the while he really dismissed partisanship during those efforts, really branding those efforts as a part of Team Kentucky, emphasizing to Kentuckians that they are all on the same team.

That's why when you speak to some Trump supporters here, they say that they like Governor Beshear and are willing to give him four more years. Still, Attorney General Daniel Cameron presents a real threat to the incumbent Democrat. Cameron has worked tirelessly to tie Beshear to President Biden. He also has spent a lot of time attacking Beshear for his record during the pandemic, arguing that more needs to be done to work in concert with the Republican state legislature to address learning loss. One thing is for sure, Jake, a lot of folks expecting this race to be incredibly close. Jake?

TAPPER: All right, finally, our Kyung Lah is in abortion, where abortion -- I'm sorry, is in Ohio, pardon me, where abortion and marijuana are on the ballot. And Kyung, voters have a chance to say yes or no to what their Republican governor and state lawmakers want, explain.

KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Well, what you have here these Republican governors, the saying that they want to make sure that abortion as far as -- and recreational marijuana, yes, they are both on the ballot, but it is absolutely issue one, abortion rights, that will be what drives voters. That's what we're hearing from advocates that you're seeing when you talk to the voters themselves. So, what is issue one?

It is a measure where voters in a Republican controlled state are being asked to protect abortion rights. That is what is at stake, and that is what we will be looking at to capture the national sentiment of Republicans and independents and how they feel regarding abortion. Now, we spent some time in Franklin County. This is a county that's highly populous, and we saw a lot of ballots still being dropped off.

Early vote numbers statewide, though, Jake, certainly show that there is a lot of interest. It is expected -- if these trends continue, if you look at early vote numbers and moving forward, that it is going to potentially be a high voter turnout for this off-year election, higher than in 2019, the last off-year election. Those who are against issue one says that they are focusing on the rural counties. Those who want to pass this measure, Jake, say that they are framing this as a nonpartisan issue, hoping to win over those independents.

TAPPER: All right, some big races and some big issues at stake. Kyung Lah, Eva McKend, Jessica Dean, thank you so much. I'm gonna be talking to all three of you all night, tomorrow night, get some coffee brewing tomorrow because I'm gonna be talking to you a lot.

What political watchers will be looking for in these elections tomorrow? We're back with that next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to The Lead. We're 70 days away from the Iowa Republican Presidential caucuses, 70. But tomorrow, tomorrow voters across the country are going to cast their votes in statewide and local races that could provide clues about the national mood ahead of next year's presidential election. So let's bring back this August political panel Jonah Goldberg and Kate Bedingfield. Let me start by just asking, which races tomorrow are you particularly interested in? Let me start with you, Kate.

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, well, I'm particularly interested in Ohio, in part because abortion is just so cleanly on the ballot. And we've seen it's been such a motivator for voters across the country it was in the midterms. We've seen it in a number of ballot initiatives.

TAPPER: And just to be clear, this is a referendum that the abortion rights community has written to put in the constitution.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes. Exactly, exactly. Which Ohio voters actually voted on earlier this year as well, and voted to allow it to go forward and to not change the rules to make it harder to get it on the ballot, if that makes sense.

TAPPER: Right.

BEDINGFIELD: So I'm just interested to see, particularly in an increasingly red state like Ohio, how this fares tomorrow. But actually, you know, abortion across the board in all of these races is going to be interesting to see, because a lot of these candidates Governor Beshear in Kentucky and some of the delegate candidates in Virginia have made this central to their argument, too. So I'm particularly interested to see how this is going to play out tomorrow night.

TAPPER: Jonah?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I agree with that. This is a matter of raw, look, historically, abortion was good for Republican voter turnout and good for Democratic fundraising and it seems that has flipped since Dobbs, and we saw that in 2022 and that'll be the big story. If they do this in Ohio, a state that I think Trump carried by eight, that just will be a big deal.

I'm also just sort of interested in because one of my favorite endangered species are Southern moderate Democrats, and if Andy Beshear could actually survive in a state that is so thoroughly Republican, that'll be very interesting in Kentucky. Also just -- it'll be also interesting because there are these cross currents of the McConnell operation in Kentucky is obviously very powerful, but also the MAGA base of the party hates McConnell. And so those cross currents are just going to be for political nerds will be kind of fascinating.


TAPPER: Yes. One of the stories I'm kind of interested in here nearby in Virginia is Glenn Youngkin, who has tried to steer the Republican Party in Virginia, where he is not alienating the MAGA base, but also steering a different direction for the Republican Party. And he has really invested in trying to find candidates that are, for want of a better term, conservative, but not crazy, who accept the fact that Joe Biden won the presidential election, who are on his program for a 15- week abortion ban. I know you don't agree with that, but not an outright ban, a 15-week abortion ban.

And also just, you know, on his program in terms of conservative good governance. And it will be interesting to see if he's able to sell that in a state that is increasingly blue.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes, absolutely. And I think it will have interesting overtones for the 2024 election coming up and across the country. I mean, this is kind of you're right that it's an interesting it's almost an interesting microcosm of a challenge that the Republican Party is facing across the board, which is, you know, how do they appeal to speak to a wide swath of the country, frankly, that isn't MAGA, you know, crazy, I'll use your term, MAGA crazy, MAGA extremists.

You know, how do they put forward a conservative vision that isn't just MAGA crazy? And so it will be interesting to see tomorrow night in Virginia whether he has sort of been successfully able to do that. And there are a lot of other issues at play here, too, in addition to abortion right. There's the education issue, there's crime, you know, for those of us who live here in D.C. or in Northern Virginia, you see the ads, there are, you know, crime is an issue that a lot of these candidates have tried to really make a wedge issue in the race.

TAPPER: Republican candidates against Democrats.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes. Although, you know, so it will just -- it will be interesting to see how that plays out tomorrow night. And I do think it will have broader implications moving into 2024.

GOLDBERG: Yes, I mean, the off year Virginia elections, in part because the backyard of D.C., right? Always get outside attention and are outsized attention. Also, though, the story that you're telling about Youngkin trying to find sort of more non-crazy Republicans, Democrats are also trying to find more non-crazy Democrats in the state. There's like more military vets, more guys with law enforcement running because basically both parties have a problem. And we're seeing this really in the response to the Israel stuff.

Both problems have a problem where their bases are much more extreme and much more polarizing. And whoever can claim to be the least not crazy or the most not crazy has a real shot of like, being a majority party.

TAPPER: Yes, not a huge problem for Virginia Democrats as opposed to Democrats in other states but yes, absolutely, 100 percent. Thanks to both you.

Up next, inside the war between Israel and Hamas, a deeper look at how Hamas is funded.

Plus, what leaders of the terror group say they expected as they launched the horrific attack against Israel on October 7th.



TAPPER: And we're back with our World Lead. Tonight, we have seen new explosions rocking Gaza and flares lighting up the sky as the Israel Defense Forces go after the terrorist group Hamas. Those Israeli strikes, Hamas claims, have now killed more than 10,000 people in Gaza. We have, of course, no way to verify that number.

But we do know that innocent civilians in Gaza continue to be killed by Israeli strikes. And the humanitarian crisis in Gaza is growing increasingly dire. Thousands of people around the world are protesting and calling for a ceasefire in Washington D.C., in Paris and Berlin. Protesters are crying out about the humanitarian crisis, the loss of life, the suffering of so many innocent civilians.

This morning red handprints could still be seen on the White House fence left from protesters over the weekend trying to tell President Biden that the U.S. has the blood on its hands of innocent lives. And how can you not be affected by these horrific images we're seeing out of Gaza? Children, bloody children's bodies, families starving, little, if any, medical care, homes destroyed.

The Israel Defense Forces insist they're targeting only Hamas, which hides and fire rockets at Israel from among the Palestinian people, from among civilians' homes. But the Secretary General of Amnesty International told CNN that Israel has waged a, quote, campaign of violations of international law. Something must happen, she said, so that we alleviate the suffering of the people of Gaza, unquote.

The Queen of Jordan, Queen Rania, who is Palestinian, said this in an interview with CNN's Becky Anderson.


QUEEN RANIA AL ABDULLAH, JORDAN: I know that some who are against the ceasefire argue that it will help Hamas. However, I feel that in that argument, they are inherently dismissing the death, in fact, even endorsing and justifying the death of thousands of civilians. And that is just morally reprehensible.


TAPPER: Justifying the death of innocence of civilians. That's an interesting turn of phrase. Something that has concerned us greatly, something that we have wondered about ever since Hamas brutally attacked so many Israeli civilians on October 7th, is what exactly did Hamas think the Israeli military would do in response to that? Did they not anticipate that Israel would retaliate? Did they not anticipate Israel would retaliate in a way that would cause innocent Palestinians in Gaza to die, especially given the fact that, as has been established by Israeli Intelligence, U.S. intelligence, and journalists who have visited Gaza, the fact that Hamas embeds within the Palestinian population? What did they think would happen?


It turns out that a Saudi journalist asked the spokesman for Hamas that very question. His response was quite telling in terms of Hamas' concerns about Palestinian lives.


KHALED MESHAAL, HEAD OF HAMAS POLITICAL BUREAU ABROAD (through translator): Dear sister, nations are not easily liberated. The Russians sacrificed 30 million people in World War II in order to liberate it from Hitler's attack. The Vietnamese sacrificed 3.5 million people until they defeated the Americans. Afghanistan sacrificed millions of martyrs to defeat USSR and then the U.S. The Algerian people sacrificed 6 million martyrs over 130 years. The Palestinian people are just like any other nation. No nation is liberated without sacrifices.


TAPPER: No nation is liberated without sacrifices. Not exactly an expression of regret for innocent Palestinian deaths. A journalist from Russia today, a Russian state media outlet, asked Mousa Abu Marzouk from the Hamas political bureau quote, you have built 500 kilometers of tunnels in Gaza. Why haven't you built bomb shelters where Palestinian civilians can hide during bombardment? And here's how Hamas responded.


MOUSA ABU MARZOUK, HAMAS POLITICAL BUREAU (through translator): We have built the tunnels because we have no other way of protecting ourselves from being targeted and killed. These tunnels are meant to protect us from the airplanes. We are fighting from inside the tunnels. Everybody knows that 75 percent of the people in the Gaza Strip are refugees, and it is the responsibility of the United Nations to protect them.


TAPPER: The Biden administration would argue that a pause, allowing innocent Palestinians to flee and allowing humanitarian supplies to get into Gaza, that's one thing. But that stopping the Israeli campaign against Hamas, which is what a ceasefire would be, stopping it would be another. Here's how former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton put it at an event at the Baker Institute.


HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE: People who are calling for a ceasefire now do not understand Hamas. That is not possible. It would be such a gift to Hamas because they would spend whatever time there was a ceasefire, in effect, rebuilding their armaments, you know, creating stronger positions to be able to fend off an eventual assault by the Israelis.


TAPPER: But don't take her word for it. Ghazi Hamad, a member of Hamas's political bureau, told Lebanese T.V. that the Al Aqsa flood, that's what Hamas called the October 7th attack.


GHAZI HAMAD, HAMAS POLITICAL BUREAU (through translator): This is just the first time, and there will be a second, a third, a fourth, because we have the determination, the resolve, and the capabilities to fight. Will we have to pay a price? Yes. And we are ready to pay it. We are called a nation of martyrs, and we are proud to sacrifice martyrs.


TAPPER: So Hamas, which is the government of Gaza, based on their own words, A, they think the loss of Palestinian civilian lives is just the cost of liberation. B, they think that even though they're the government of Gaza, it's not their responsibility to protect Palestinian civilians. The tunnels are for themselves, for fighting, not for civilians. And C, they're determined to continue attacking Israel the same way they did on October 7th, over and over and over, based on what they say. So, for these reasons, Israel says, we can't have a ceasefire.

Listen to what they say. So they're pushing forward with their ground incursion into Gaza. From the point of view of Israel, they hear all the calls for a ceasefire. What they do not hear is anyone in the international community proposing anyway for them to get back their 240 hostages that Hamas kidnapped. They don't hear anyone proposing anyway for Hamas to be removed from the leadership of Gaza.

Israel sees the parades and the rallies for the ceasefire, and they see no parades and no rallies for the return of the hostages or the removal of Hamas. So here we are. And here is President Biden in a tricky situation. President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu on the phone just a few hours ago, we're told, pushing for a humanitarian pause, but not a ceasefire, which Secretary of State Anthony Blinken says the U.S. is trying to get Israel to agree on.



ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: There obviously different views, including on the question of the ceasefire. But there's no doubt from my conversations with all of our colleagues who were in Amman yesterday that everyone would welcome humanitarian pause because, again, it can advance things that we're all trying to accomplish. Israel's raised important questions about how humanitarian pauses would work. We've got to answer those questions. We're working on exactly that.


TAPPER: We turn now to Jonathan Schanzer. He's vice president of the foundation for Defense of Democracies. He also formerly worked in the Treasury Department tracking the terrorists finances during the George W. Bush administration. He's the author of three books on Hamas. Thanks so much for being here. So you tracked who funds Hamas for years. Currently, we see two main sources, Iran providing about $100 million a year, and Qatar providing about $120 million to both Hamas and the Gaza Strip generally. Where's that money going?

JONATHAN SCHANZER, FOUNDATION FOR DEFENSE OF DEMOCRACIES: It's going directly to Hamas. It's going to the Hamas military command centers. It's going to some of the political leadership, as they call it, although there really is no firewall between the political and military, as I think we've seen. The government supports all of this military activity. Those numbers, by the way, may be a little low. I think the estimates that we hear right now, out of Iran, 200 million and about 150 million, give or take, from the Qataris but there are a few more.

You got the Turks. You got Malaysia. You got -- there's actually even some nodes in South Africa and Algeria, Kuwait. There are a whole host of countries that have been unabashed about their support for Hamas over the years.

TAPPER: We're now a month, almost exactly, tomorrow will be 30 days from those brutal attacks. Are you seeing the funding for Hamas stay the same, increase, dry up? What's the deal?

SCHANZER: I think it's hard to tell. I think there's a lot of money flowing to their external headquarters right now. And again, there we're talking about Iran, Turkey, Qatar, also Lebanon, a significant area where Hamas is operational in terms of finances. So if the money's not going to Gaza, it can still go to some of these external leaderships, and then they can then move that money back into Gaza or wherever else Hamas finds itself at the end of this war.

TAPPER: It seems as though there is no one who is more a victim of Hamas than the Palestinian people in Gaza. Is any of this money in any significant way going to help them with food, medical care, education, housing, anything?

SCHANZER: Really, not much at all. And you can really see where that money has been spent when you see the tunnels that have been built beneath the ground. This is where Hamas has determined that it wanted to spend its money, and it has spent tens, maybe hundreds of millions of dollars on this underground infrastructure, under hospitals, under schools, right? This is the really depraved thing about Hamas.

Forget just I mean, of course we saw the murder from a month ago. But the way that they have forced the Gaza people to suffer under their rule is really hard to stomach, especially as we see the images right now.

TAPPER: As you track Iran and they're funding, how do you see their influence in the wider region? Do you think Iran wants a wider regional conflict that they would have to fight or receive armaments? I mean, they don't want to be attacked, right?

SCHANZER: No, they don't. But this is their entire strategy. They are fighting Israel to the last Palestinian, to the last Lebanese, to the last Syrian, and to the last Iraqi. They use proxy groups to their advantage so that they can sit safely back in Tehran and watch with delight.

TAPPER: You just heard a bunch of Hamas officials basically speak very openly and honestly about they don't care how many Palestinians die in this cause that they don't build bomb shelters for them. That's for the U.N. to do. But they're safe in the tunnels. They're going to keep doing October 7th attacks as long as possible. They're very open and honest about this. Are they stupid or they just know that they think that the world won't care?

SCHANZER: No, I think right now they understand that they have a certain amount of public opinion on their side. But I think what we heard from one of those leaders was that, quite simply, he's willing to sacrifice this population if it might lead to a broader war. And this is, of course, what the Iranians have been dreaming about, what Hezbollah has been dreaming about, what the broader Iranian axis.

This is what they think about as a war that would end all wars and ultimately annihilate Israel. They are testing right now. They're probing to see whether this is their moment. And it's interesting because, of course, the U.S. has naval assets stationed off the coast and near Iran in the Persian Gulf. The Israelis have saved a good chunk of their military facing northward right now at Hezbollah. This is a standoff. And I think Iran is still trying to determine whether this is their moment. TAPPER: Yes. The American military assets are not there for Hamas.


TAPPER: They're there for Iran.

SCHANZER: Correct. They're trying to prevent a wider regional war.


TAPPER: Jonathan Schanzer, thank you so much. Appreciate it. We'll be right back.


TAPPER: A staggering new statistic tops our Health Lead. The number of kids sent to the emergency room due to injuries from firearms doubled during the pandemic. The U.S. went from 18 pediatric ER visits every 30 days to 36. That's according to research out today in the Journal Pediatrics. Researchers say this is due to factors such as an increase in firearm purchases, plus economic uncertainty and youth mental health struggles. Behind each one of these numbers, of course, is a name like Serabi Medina. She was shot and killed while heading to her front door carrying ice cream. Serabi was just nine years old.

You can follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Threads, X, formerly known as Twitter, on the TikTok at JakeTapper. You can tweet the show at TheLeadCNN. If you ever miss an episode of The Lead, you can listen to the show once you get your podcasts, make sure you join me tomorrow night for CNN's special coverage of Election Night in America. We're going to be tracking key races and results in Virginia, Kentucky, Ohio, Mississippi and more. Our coverage begins at 6:00 p.m. Eastern, right here on CNN. I'll be co-anchoring with my bestie, Erin Burnett.


Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room.