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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Blinken: "Far Too Many Palestinians" Killed in Gaza; Sources: Biden Administration Warned By American Diplomats of Growing Fury Against U.S. in the Arab World; Michigan Football Sanctioned Over Sign-Stealing Scandal; House Republicans Say Speaker Mike Johnson is Undecided on How to Avoid a Government Shutdown. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 10, 2023 - 16:00   ET



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And THE LEAD starts right now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: The strongest public comments yet from the U.S. secretary of state.

THE LEAD starts right now.

A global outcry over civilian deaths in Gaza. America's top diplomat, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, says far too many Palestinians have been killed. That as CNN is learning about warnings from other American envoys in Arab countries.

And Donald Trump on the attack as a judge indicates when one of his criminal trials could begin, potentially, right before a key date on the 2024 calendar.

Also, this just in, breaking news, as sources are telling CNN, the FBI has seized the phones of New York City Mayor Eric Adams as an investigation heats up into possible illegal campaign contributions.


COLLINS: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Kaitlan Collins, in for Jake Tapper today.

We start with our world lead. A new video that shows the intense bombardment of Gaza, carried out by Israeli forces. CNN teams on the ground are hearing constant rocket fire as you could see here, flares are lighting up the night sky. This is happening just hours after one of the most forceful calls that we've seen to date by Secretary of State Antony Blinken for Israel to do more to protect the innocent civilians who remain in Gaza trapped in a brutal war between Israeli forces and the terror group Hamas.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Far too many Palestinians have been killed. Far too many have suffered these past weeks. And we want to do everything possible to prevent harm to them and to maximize the assistance that gets to them.


COLLINS: It is quite a message to Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his forces are doing everything they can to reduce civilian deaths as he highlighted this evacuation corridor you can see here. It was open for six hours today allowing Palestinians to flee south from northern Gaza.

But Israel has also confirmed that it was behind strikes on another refugee camp and other places where people have been sheltering, again blaming Hamas for embedding itself with civilians.

CNN's Nic Robertson starts off our coverage today from Sderot, Israel, right outside of Gaza.

Nic, tell us what you've been seeing in recent hours?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, there appears to be an intense IDF ground fight going on around Jabalia refugee camp. Of course, that particular area in Gaza right in the north of the Gaza Strip has been the focus of IDF efforts over the past couple of weeks. But a big ground battle underway, flares dropped to help illuminate the ground for the troops and a smokescreen helping the troops hide behind the smoke so they could close in on what must be a Hamas target.

Interesting that they've been operating in this area and there is still the need for such an intense firefight. Heavy strikes, air strikes brought in on their position and we're still hearing the heavy detonations falling in this area. The IDF is continuing its operations against Hamas, 15,000 different targeted strikes the IDF says they've had. They've rounded up more than 6,000 weapons. They say they're discovering weapons manufacturing facilities in close to schools. One was near a child's bedroom.

But that is a difficulty for the IDF and gives you an idea of the intensity and slow nature of their fight. Hamas is an atomized force. It's not easy to take them out with one strike at a big training facility and this is what the IDF is going through right now.

That humanitarian corridor at the same time as the fight is going on allowing civilians to flee north to south. But IDF tanks have been seen around hospitals today and the IDF pushing back on the claims from one hospital that it was struck by IDF fire. The IDF saying in fact, that was a misfired Hamas or one the other group's attempts to target the IDF.

But the international condemnation as you have been saying is growing. We heard from the head of the International Committee for the Red Cross saying that the health care facilities in Gaza are at a point of no return. We know from the Palestinian health officials, Hamas-run, that 193 health care workers have been killed, 60 ambulances damaged, 21 of 35 hospitals completely out of service, 51 of 72 health care clinics out of service.


So the humanitarian situation is deteriorating while the fight for -- to destroy Hamas seems to be just going at a slow and difficult but very hardly fought pace -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yeah. And, Nic, you mentioned that six-hour corridor that happened today that has now been formalized by Israel and announcement from the U.S. on that yesterday. I think the big question is, do people feel safe using it and are they confident that it is something that's going to be a regular daily occurrence?

ROBERTSON: I think there is a degree of confidence in that wasn't there, maybe, about five or six days ago when it was reinstituted. There was a sense of many civilians in the north of Gaza when the ground offensive began. They didn't know how to get out. Now they see this corridor working. Tens of thousands are leaving.

But it really raises this massive, massive unanswered question and I think this gets to the root of part of the frustration between the White House and Prime Minister Netanyahu, all of these people, these civilians are heading to the south, but the IDF is still having strikes in the south. You now have a double density population in the south of the Gaza strip. There is a small humanitarian area set aside.

International NGOs, the U.N. is saying, look, there simply isn't a structure there. The infrastructure to support the people, not their shelters, not the food, not the water, no the sanitation. And the reality is the IDF and Prime Minister Netanyahu both say that they need to go through the whole Gaza Strip.

So you move the civilian population into the south to make them safe for the intensity of the fight in the north, you have a double density of civilians potentially in the way when that fight rolls into the south. There is no answer to this at the moment.

COLLINS: Yeah and we're continuing to hear the booms behind you.

Nic Robertson, we'll continue to check in with you live on the ground in Sderot, thank you.

And as Nic was mentioning there, the situation for these hospitals in Gaza has become dire. And a hospital director, one of them who is in Gaza says that tanks are completely surrounding the medical center, making it impossible for hundreds of people who are sheltering there to even leave, to move. They run out of medicine, they run out of water and they are now asking the Red Cross to help with those evacuations.

CNN's Nada Bashir is live in Jerusalem.

Nada, what do we know about this particular medical center and who is still there?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, Kaitlan, that appeal for support for the evacuation of patients and civilians came from the director of the Al Nasr Hospital and Al Rantisi Pediatric Center in northern Gaza. This is one of the only pediatric centers left functioning in northern Gaza. And as we know, there are many patients here who cannot be evacuated including children reliant on life support and dialysis.

And as we've heard, as you mentioned there, they have said they're being surrounded any by tanks. The World Health Organization has reported significant bombardment around this hospital complex. And there is significant concern, not only for the patients inside of this hospital and the medical teams there who have said they will not abandon their patients but also, of course, for the countless families and Palestinian civilians who have been taking shelter at this hospital complex, like many hospitals across Gaza, hoping that this will be some sort of safe haven or sanctuary from the relentless aerial bombardment that we are seeing across Gaza.

Clearly, that is not the case for many of the civilian areas and as we've seen today video of civilians attempting to evacuate from the hospital complex and seemingly pushed back by gunfire. It is unclear from which side that gunfire was coming from -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: So that's at one hospital. And we're also hearing, Nada, from another hospital, the World Health Organization says that that one is coming under bombardment. Israel has denied that it was behind that strike. But what do we know, if anything, that we're able to confirm about what did happen there?

BASHIR: Look, we're talking about the al Shifa hospital in Gaza. This is the largest hospital in Gaza. We already know it has been deeply overwhelmed by the amount of patients and also, of course, civilians taking shelter there.

In the last few hours, of course, we have had that response from the IDF with regards to a strike which took place last night. We saw those distressing videos emerging of countless people injured on the outside of the complex of the al Shifa hospital set to be at the outpatient center. Now, the IDF has denied responsible for this strike. They have said that the strike was the result of a misfire launched from within Gaza reportedly aimed targeting IDF troops in the vicinity.

Now, Hamas, on the other hand, has accused Israel of carrying out an air strike on the Al Shifa hospital and as we've seen, those warnings from medical teams repeatedly warning that Israel airstrikes are edging closer and closer to medical facilities across northern Gaza -- Kaitlan.


COLLINS: Yeah. That is just raising so many concerns about the people who are staying there and sheltering there and trying to seek care.

Nada Bashir in Jerusalem, thank you.

BASHIR: Authorities in London right now are bracing for what is expected to be a significant march tomorrow over the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. We are told police plan to double the number of officers that are on duty given the pro-Palestinian demonstration is expected to draw thousands of people. Every Saturday for the last month, we've seen thousands people in London marching, protesting that rising civilian death toll that you just heard Nada talking about there.

But tomorrow, tensions are expected to be even higher begin it is Armistice Day, when the British commemorate the end of World War I. For weeks, we've seen rallies in Paris, Egypt, Milan, here in New York and also in Washington, D.C. In D.C., a lot of the protests have happened right outside of the White House.

And CNN is learning that the Biden administration has been receiving urgent warnings from American diplomats stationed throughout the Middle East that its strong support that we've seen from President Biden for Israel's military campaign in Gaza is actually leading to growing anger and fury directed at the U.S. from the Arab world.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is covering this and has the latest reporting.

Natasha, what exactly is the White House hearing from the diplomats?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, Kaitlan, they received a cable from the U.S. embassy in Oman and that was obtained by my colleague Priscilla Alvarez, and what the cable said was that the Arab world is increasingly angry with the Biden administration, with the U.S. for its seemingly unwavering support for Israel's military campaign in Gaza. And what it says is in pretty stark terms that the U.S. is, quote, losing Arab publics for a generation. And that U.S. support for Israel is being seen across the Arab world as, quote, material and more culpability in what they consider to be possible war crimes.

And this cable was sent from the U.S. embassy in Oman, in Muscat, to the NSC, the FBI and the CIA, really as a warning just about all of the anger that is currently being directed to the U.S. but you know, this is something that the Arab leaders have directed to the U.S. directly, have told the U.S. directly. Antony Blinken, the secretary of state, he met with many of these Arab leaders, including the leaders of Jordan and Egypt last week. And the call from those allies was for a cease-fire. They want to see the fighting stop completely.

But Blinken and the U.S. at large have not been prepared to support that. What they are supporting at this moment are simply pauses in the fighting, day long pauses, three day-long pauses. But the Israelis are not agreeing at this point.

So what we're seeing as you've been talking about with our correspondents, we've seen hour long pauses, six hours to allow civilians to get out. COLLINS: Yeah, a question of if those get longer and if they stay a

daily occurrence.

Natasha Bertrand, thank you for that.

Up next, we do have the breaking news that I mentioned at the top of the hour. A source confirming to CNN that the FBI has seized devices belonging to New York City Mayor Eric Adams. The move part of an investigation into his campaign contributions, he has just responded. More on that ahead.



COLLINS: This breaking news just in with a source confirming to CNN that the FBI has seized New York City Mayor Eric Adams' phone and an iPad of his in part of the federal corruption investigation. All of this is coming mere days after his chief campaign fundraiser had her home raided by FBI agents as well.

I want to bring in CNN's Polo Sandoval who is covering all of this.

This is a dramatic escalation.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Dramatic and can't say enough significant escalation and a significant development into this investigation as we learned according to a reporting from our colleague Kara Scannell, citing a source, a person familiar with this ongoing investigation, that New York City Mayor Eric Adams' phone and also an iPad seized by federal investigators as they continue to probe that fundraising investigation that you just mentioned a short while ago.

I want to get straight to what we've heard from Mayor Adams himself. In a statement that was released to CNN by his campaign attorney spokesperson Boyd Johnson, and in fact we have that and able to put that on the screen. As they have responded to this latest news saying: As a former member of law enforcement, I expect -- excuse me, all members of my staff to follow the law and fully cooperate with any sort of investigation and I will continue to do exactly that, quote, I have nothing to hide.

Again, these are the words of Mayor Eric Adams through a spokesperson. And as you mentioned, this development coming on the heels of what we just learned in the FBI raid of New York City Mayor Eric Adams fundraiser as they continue to look and determine whether or not his 2021 campaign fundraising potentially received some of these foreign funds, with a -- through a Brooklyn based construction company to potentially funnel foreign money into his campaign.

So a lot of questions right now about what the mayor did know, what he did not know as this latest development comes to light.

COLLINS: Yeah, and I mean, "The New York Times" said that essentially the FBI agents approached him on the street and notified him that they had this court order subpoena, warrant to get his phones, to get his iPad and they returned them a few days later, "The New York Times" says, but this is part of wide-ranging investigation.

Clearly, it is more serious than we thought. He's a former member of law enforcement as you noted there, but he's saying that he still is maintaining, he didn't do anything wrong and he's not accused of anything.

SANDOVAL: He still maintains his innocence and we've heard from him a couple of times already, especially after that latest development, at least what came to light in the last few days. And the scene laid out in "The New York Times" reporting, it was incredible, this idea of federal agents approaching the mayor of America's largest city and requesting to get their hands on these documents.


So again, it could not be said enough. And we can't underscore it enough. This is a significant development with a lot more to come.

COLLINS: And so what happened? It was November 2nd I believe when his chief fundraiser who is young, she's only 25 years old, had her home searched by the FBI. They took some devices there.

What is at the heart of this investigation that we do know?

SANDOVAL: So, what we can say is that law enforcement were familiar with the search warrants and told CNN that the investigators, they're specifically looking into evidence of foreign nationals who are actually barred from making any campaign contributions may have bundled some of the donations going into New York's Turkish American communities and then getting U.S. citizens of Turkish origin that the -- basically to act as straw contributors. We've reached out to stakeholders in this investigation and we're waiting to hear back.

COLLINS: Polo Sandoval, a dramatic escalation. Thank you for that reporting.

Up next, you know, there is more to talk about on in developing story and what is at the heart of this. When we come back, we actually have one of New York's most -- best sourced political reporters here on set with us. We'll talk to her about what she's hearing with the rest of our panel.



COLLINS: More on our breaking news this hour. As we're learning that New York City Mayor Eric Adams is now saying he has, quote, nothing to hide after it was revealed the FBI agents seized his phones and iPad earlier this week, all part of this federal investigation into his campaign fundraising.

Our panel is here with me. And, Emily, you are a well-sourced New York reporter. I mean, this is

the first time that we've seen this probe get this close and directly touch the mayor.

EMILY NGO, POLITICO REPORTER: Exactly. And "The New York Times" in its reporter calls it a dramatic escalation of the investigation into the mayor's campaign and as you said earlier this week, he was approached by federal agents who asked his security detail to step aside and seized his electronic devices. That's happened just a couple of days after his chief fundraiser's home in Brooklyn was raided and documents were taken pertaining to his campaign and its fundraising.

COLLINS: And have we seen Mayor Adams this week? Has he indicated publicly at all that this happened?

NGO: He didn't. This happened this week, I believe on Monday according to the reporting. He had no public events on Tuesday, just closed door meetings and calls his told me as usual. And then he did his weekly off topic news conference, addressing reporters in the press corps on Wednesday taking questions on every topic that we would want to ask and said nothing about this incident.

COLLINS: That is really remarkable. We have heard from him now. He's putting out a statement that he feels like he has nothing to hide.

And one thing he said, Joe, he said, quote, I expect all members of my staff to follow the law. It's not just his staff. He is also himself now directly involved to this. We don't know that he's done anything wrong but certainly this is very close to him.

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, look, I think we should cautionary remind everyone that you are innocent until proven guilty. A probe is not indicative of any guilt.


PINION: But I do think the actions of the president -- or the mayor, absent of his words are a little bit different. So if you look at what happened. He basically turned around from D.C. to get home as they say in politics, to figure out what they're going to do. It appears he may have known that this was coming or some escalation was coming.

So, look, we have to let the facts bear out wherever they are, but I do think that certainly it's troubling when you have the mayor of New York City in the midst of a migrant crisis and the midst of an economic crisis suddenly have to worry about his own fiscal house of order, so to speak.

COLLINS: Yeah, well, and potentially criminal exposure. I mean, Michael, the day that his campaign fundraiser's house was raided, that was the day he was supposed to go to Washington. He's supposed to have all of these meetings at White House. And he instead canceled those.

How big of a concern is this for Democrats here if -- and, of course, innocent until proven guilt obviously, hasn't been charged or accused of anything, how big of a concern is this, though? MICHAEL LAROSA, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRES. BIDEN: With what

little information we have, I don't want to write his political obituary, his statement was strong and he is confident that he might not he committed a crime himself.

So, what I would advise the team over there would be to tell everything that you know, tell it early and tell it yourself. Because the last thing you want is drip, drip, drip of information coming out like we've seen with other politicians.

COLLINS: Yeah. It is a major concern. How does he typically respond to -- I mean you've seen the mayor, he has a lot of bravado. We've interviewed him multiple times here at CNN.

How is he responding as these developments have slowly been happening in this investigation?

NGO: Well, he's been consistent in that he's cooperating with the probe that he himself as a retired NYPD captain, as a law enforcement official and will help law enforcement in turn. And he maintains that he hasn't been charged, he hasn't been accused of wrongdoing which is true, nor has Brianna Suggs, his chief fundraiser, who is 25 years old in charge of millions, according to the campaign.

But the allegations uncovered by "The New York Times" that obtained part of the search warrant are pretty serious. The campaign is under investigation apparently for allegedly conspiring with a Turkish government to funnel illegal donations into his campaign. It is not legal to take foreign contributions if you're an American politician.

And New York City has a very generous matching funds program and if you leverage some of the donations locally the right way, you could get more public financing dollars for your campaign.


COLLINS: Yeah, a lot of questions here.

We often hear these allegations of a two-tiered justice system but it is evident that they are investigating both parties alike.

We got the update on the investigation -- the classified documents investigation to former President Trump. The judge there indicating not yet that she's moving that trial date, which Trump is certainly trying to do right now. It's still on track to happen in May of 2024, right before some key political dates.

I mean, how much is that a factor into what next year is going to look like in a presidential race?

JOE PINION, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It is quite clear that the road to 2024 is going to go from courthouse to courthouse. If you subscribe to the belief that President Trump is undoubtedly going to be the Republican nominee for president, in 2024.

I think certainly, there are people who feel as if there is a two- tiered justice system. Certainly some of the things that have happened here, they can clearly be, said were brought on the president by his own actions. But I do think that there are some legal theories that have been acknowledged that are, in many ways, novel, or the stretching of law to the limits.

So, I think that is part of it, the hyper-partisanship of how we analyze these issues. But, ultimately, to your point, as we get closer to 2024. Polling numbers today were not be what polling numbers look like in May or June. It's probably naive to think that it's not going to be colored by what occurs inside these courtrooms, in some of those rulings as we go through this kind of maze here of courtrooms.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, that date, if it sticks, one day before primaries I believe in Kentucky and other states.


COLLINS: How does the White House -- I mean, we saw President Biden, the fund-raiser Chicago last night, talking about who could be his, you know, his opponent in 2024? How does he handle Trump being in court regularly? Does he talk about are on the campaign trail? What's your advice?

LAROSA: My advice would be to rip the bark off the guy, and to attack, him or hit him back when he hits Biden, which he has done successfully, the Republicans have, they dragged down President Biden's personal approvals. But look, two tiered justice system, I saw your interview last night with one of his lawyers. I can't keep track of how many --

COLLINS: Former lawyers.

LAROSA: Yeah. But to say that there is a two tiered justice system, Hunter Biden is under investigation, five, almost six years? Longer than the Whitewater investigation, and Monica Lewinsky investigation. Senator Menendez, who you brought up, he has been investigated, I think three times by the DOJ?

He knows better, and he was there. I saw him talk about the Secret Service, how it was a no go, I mean --

COLLINS: The fact that Secret Service agents could be brought?

LAROSA: Yeah. I mean, he was so indignant about that. He must have a short memory. President Clinton's active head of detail, into other agents were brought in to testify, and, just recently, they're going after the president. They're suing -- Republicans have sued the Secret Service for records about the president's dog. Maybe the cat is next, God bless him.

COLLINS: A lot of questions about what that would look like.

Thank you one and all for being here, especially on that breaking news with you, Emily.

Up next, we are a week out from a potential government shutdown. Right now, there are plans that we could be headed to one. This delivered approach that we are seeing the new House speaker take could potentially cost his party support. That's a big question.

We'll go to Capitol Hill right after this.



COLLINS: Just in to our sports lead, the Big Ten conference is now sanctioning the University of Michigan football team over allegations about sign stealing violations. As part of the sanctions, we've now learned that the head football coach, Jim Harbaugh, has been suspended from the last three games of the regular season. He previously denied that his program was any illegally stealing any signs. He said he is fully cooperating with this investigation. But now he will not be able to be on the sidelines for those three games, will still be able to coach during the rest of the week.

I should note, Michigan is currently ranked third in the college football playoff rankings. More to that in a moment.

But now to our politics lead, federal government on track to shut down in seven days from now. And so far, House Speaker Mike Johnson has not offered many, if any, really, clues about what he plans to do to keep that from happening.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is live on Capitol Hill. Melanie, I mean, have we gotten any closer to some kind of plan being formed from Republicans?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yeah, Kaitlan, we have a new speaker, but they are running into the same old problems. Speaker Mike Johnson has really been wrestling with his decision all week. He has yet to reveal his plans for government funding. But he has been very deliberate in and careful here and how he approaches this because he knows it's likely to get the most consequential decision he makes a speaker to date.

And that issue, is Republican conference is divided over what path they should pursue. There are moderates, and -- who are pushing for a straightforward stopgap spending bill. But conservative hard-liners are pushing for a more complicated idea, where they'd extend funding for government agencies for various amounts of times, essentially teeing up multiple fiscal cliffs.

Now, that option would be dead on arrival in the Senate. So, it would risk a government shutdown, which Johnson absolutely has told people he does not want on his watch. But at the same time, he does not want to infuriate his right flank, especially so early on in his tenure.

Meanwhile, lawmakers are really growing anxious for him to reveal his hand here. While the Office of Management and Budget has already started take formal steps to prepare for a potential shutdown in one week.

But, we could see a window into Johnson's thinking soon. I am told that he is aiming to release bill text, although it is not finished yet, by tomorrow, with hopes on voting on a bill by Tuesday. So, a really big moment for the new speaker here that's going to tell us a lot about his vision for government, and for the way that he plans to rule over this House bill conference -- Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And we know how much lawmakers love to work on the weekend.

Melanie Zanona, thank you for that.

Ahead, inside the investigation that's happening right now into suspicious letter cited been sent to election offices all across the country.


I'm going to speak with one election official who said she had one sent to her office that had fentanyl inside, and she's not alone.


COLLINS: The FBI says that suspicious letter sent to election offices in six states may be connected. These are officers in California, Georgia, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, all reporting they are getting these mailing. Most of them have contained a powdery white substance, in some cases, had traces of fentanyl, according to election officials.

With me now is Julie Wise. She is the elections director in King County, Washington, one of the counties that got one of these letters.


Julie, I know it has been about 48 hours since this letter arrived at your election center. What have you heard, if anything, on the latest of this investigation?

JULIE WISE, ELECTIONS DIRECTOR, KING COUNTY, WASHINGTON: We have heard that is confirmed to be trace amounts of fentanyl in this envelope. It is similar to what we are seeing, sadly, across this country, that election administrators are receiving. It is our second letter with fentanyl today that we have received this year alone.

COLLINS: That's -- I mean, hard to even imagine, that it is the second one that you have gotten already. How does everyone at the office feel? I mean, they must be scared to come to work, to check the mail, to do basic things that you do every day in an office.

WISE: Over the last three years, we have really seen a clear and coordinated effort to undermine election an election administrators. So, sadly the tone has been along the same lines for the last three years. We have prepared our team for incidences just like this.

And, the team is certainly disheartened and saddened that folks want to cause them harm. But they are also determined to continue this important work, in counting ballots, and democracy because we believe in it. COLLINS: That's powerful to hear, that they are determined to keep on

with their jobs, despite these obvious threats that you are getting.

You are in Washington, Georgia is also another state that is received a suspicious letter, we're also told it had these trace amounts of fentanyl. This is what we heard from the secretary of state there, Brad Raffensperger, obviously well-known, talking about the seriousness of this threat.


BRAD RAFFENSPERGER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE: Some people like to call fentanyl a drug, but it's actually poison. It will kill you. It will kill you quickly, very easily, and it's very dangerous. We lost our son five and a half years ago due to a fentanyl overdose. We know how deadly this stuff is.


COLLINS: What's your reaction when you hear him talking about this, not just being a drug, but calling it poison?

WISE: Absolutely. This is an attempt to stop elections. It's an attempt to break us and to harm us. And that just makes us all that much more determined to continue running democracy and counting ballots, and being election administrators.

You know, the election administrator should be seen as heroes, and not enemies. These are human beings who are your neighbors, who are part of your community, they are called to be a civil servant, because they love their community, and they're passionate about conducting nonpartisan, accurate, secure, and accessible elections.

COLLINS: You talk about how people are still willing to come to work, they still want to come into that important job that you noted there, it's just done by our neighbors, do you have any concerns though that these kinds of threats, these kinds of letters that you're getting, and other election offices could discourage people from doing these jobs, from getting involved in this?

WISE: Absolutely. We've already seen, across this country, a max exodus of election administrators, because of these threats, intimidation, and bullying. So absolutely, we are nervous about being able to attract, and retain the amazing election administrators that we have across the country. I feel the same way here in King County.

You know, they want to go home at the end of the day to their families and they need to make a priority for their own mental and physical safety. So, absolutely concerned about being able to have the stellar election administrators across this country, and in King County. So, I think it's really important that we prepare our team, physically, and emotionally, mentally, to be prepared for incidents like this to come because I believe we will certainly see more of it, sadly, next year, in 2024 election cycle.

COLLINS: Julie, I know the FBI is still looking into this, who said these letters. But if you could speak to that person, given what you've just said there, who did send these, what would you say to them?

WISE: I would say that you've really, you really are focused in the wrong direction. Election administrators, again, are quite the heroes, not the enemy here. And I understand that you have been fed lies about our elections for the past several years, and the confusion around this.

But these are not the folks that are -- are really the ones that should be attacked here. These are folks, again, that are dedicated professional election administrators, that want to make sure their community members have their voices heard, and our democracy. And that this is not the right approach to have your concerns addressed.

COLLINS: It's a powerful statement.

Julie Wise, I'm sorry this is happening to you and your team, but thank you for coming on to talk about it because it's obviously critically important.

WISE: Thank you.


COLLINS: Coming up, CNN's Jake Tapper with some survivors of the October 7th attacks by Hamas, their decision to make a memory of that day, permanent.


COLLINS: The horrors of the attacks by Hamas on October 7th have left image is ingrained in the minds of so many around the world. Some people who survive that day want to make sure that they stay that way.

Jake Tapper visited a spot in Israel, where art has taken on a new role in reflecting life.


DANI GINZBURG, OWNER, JOHN BOY TATTOO: I think of the whole process of getting a tattoo, it's a little therapeutical.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, THE LEAD (voice-over): At John Bo Tattoo in downtown Tel Aviv, October 7th survivors wear their pain on their sleeve, or wrist, or thigh.

GINZBURG: Like going through therapy, but not like going to a therapist. They make maybe something that can, something that can make this stay forever on their body.

TAPPER: Yeah, they lost something. Maybe this will last forever as long as they're around.

GINZBURG: Yeah, that's exactly the thing. I actually have clients that were murdered there. TAPPER: You do?

GINZBURG: Yeah, yeah, someone who did a sleeve, he had appointments, he was supposed to be, he was supposed to be here tomorrow.

TAPPER: Dani Ginzburg owns three tattoo shops in Tel Aviv, but for now has consolidated business to the one closest to a bomb shelter. After the terrorist attacks of October 7th, he says the usual request for cartoon, pop art, and photo realistic work have shifted to a demand for memorial ink.

Now, I don't want to be a stick in the mud --


TAPPER: I happen to know that it's against Jewish law to get a tattoo.

GINZBURG: To get a tattoo.

TAPPER: Because the body belongs to God, and the soul belongs to you, but the body to God. How do you reconcile that?

GINZBURG: I think people today are more understanding that not everything that is written down in the book they have to go by the law.

TAPPER: You said a lot of people are getting Stars of David, too, kind of an act of defiance. Like you're going to kill us because we're Jewish, well I'm going to put it right on my arm.

GINZBURG: I think it's showing everybody, that were not scared. And we're going to show everybody that were Jewish, and we're proud of that. And we want everybody to know, and everyone should remember those dates.

TAPPER: The stories, as emotional as they are elaborate, such as the one of the soldier, who is among the first to respond to kibbutz Be'eri, where at least 130 were brutally killed.

There were bodies on the floor, he says, women, children, the elderly, just awful. It's difficult to explain in words, as I'm explaining, at my eyes are shaking a bit.

The young soldier did not want to show his face, or the final tattoo, for fear of being identified when he returns to battle.

I want to get this tattoo in memory of two soldiers who fell in battle with me, he says. Very few soldiers were able to come to the burial, because we were in the field.

It's also for the soul, so I can unload, he says. I'm in a special unit with the IDF, it's something for me to unload a bit. Part of his elaborate final tattoo has paw prints.

What is the story with the dog? A dog from the K9 unit entered a home before my team and I, he tells

me. The dog noticed a terrorists waiting for us there and was hiding on the side. The dog alerted them, but unfortunately, was killed. Because of him, we are alive he says. Me and a few of my friends, but two were killed in the battle. We buried them two days later. I was saved by a miracle.

Across the room, Daniel Vaknin is getting his memory inked on his thigh. He was at the Nova music festival, and just arrived on the attack that killed more than 260 began.

DANIEL VAKNIN, RECEIVING OCT. 7 MEMORIAL TATTOO: You can hear shootings all over your [bleep] head. Massive shooting, and then you hear it, but, I've served, so I know how it sounds. But this one, really, it whistles near your ears, your head, like.

You see bodies all over the roads. All over the driveway, some of them are dead, some captured, soldiers and bodies, all over. It was like looking at the apocalypse.

TAPPER: Daniel says he eventually found safety in a nearby kibbutz, where he and his girlfriend stayed for nine hours, receiving periodic, and devastating updates on his phone.

VAKNIN: We heard stories, and saw videos of our friends just slaughtered. You don't even understand what's going on. So, what I wanted my tattoo, the flower is supposed to show the growth, we can grow from it. It's a beautiful thing.

And this specific flower is from this area. And the angels, the people that we lost. Who went up, are not with us anymore and --

TAPPER: Jake Tapper, CNN, Tel Aviv.


COLLINS: I should note, that soldier who spoke with Jake was on the first day of a two-week break from service, after more than three weeks of the war. He'll go back to fight soon, no doubt, with tough days ahead.

Coming up, this Sunday, on "STATE OF THE UNION", you will see national security adviser Jake Sullivan, obviously, Israel major topic for the White House, Republican national committee chair Ronna McDaniel, former senior adviser to President Obama, David Axelrod, and former governor of Maryland, Larry Hogan. That's this Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, and again, at noon here on CNN.

Thank you so much for joining me, I will be back tonight, 9:00 a.m. Eastern on "THE SOURCE".

Our coverage continues right now.