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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Some Young Americans On TikTok Say They Sympathize With Osama Bin Laden; Sean "Diddy" Combs Accused Of Rape And Abuse In Lawsuit Filed By Former Girlfriend, Cassie; Paul Pelosi Attacker Found Guilty In Federal Trial; Israeli Police Investigate Claims Of Sexual Violence On Oct. 7; Palestinian-American Whose Family Is In Gaza Describes Desperate Need For Aid; CNN Poll: Trump Holds Significant Lead In NH But Haley Moves Up To Second, Christie Is Third. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired November 16, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: -- today for the man convicted of breaking into the house of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and violently beating her husband with a hammer. We'll tell you about that too.

Leading this hour, however, new video from the Israeli military showing what it claims is proof that the terrorist group Hamas has an underground operation under Gaza's largest hospital. CNN's Oren Liebermann reports for us from Tel Aviv where Israeli officials are feeling the pressure to provide concrete evidence that supports its siege of Al-Shifa hospital.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, the Israeli military publishing video of what it says is an operational tunnel inside the Al-Shifa hospital complex. The IDF has been operating around the complex for days closing in on what they long asserted was a hub of Hamas activity.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: AK47s. We see handcuff.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): Doctors and health officials in the Hamas run enclave I denied those accusations. But this, the Israeli military says --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And this is where they choose to hide everything because --

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): It's part of the evidence they had promised as the IDF continues its operation in the hospital complex that began early Wednesday morning. It's not just the credibility of the IDF and Israel that's at stake, President Joe Biden said he feels absolutely confident that Hamas is there as the U.S. throws its weight behind Israel. JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The first war crime is being committed by Hamas by having their headquarters, their military hidden under hospital.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): On Thursday, Gaza again found itself under a total communications blackout according to a U.N. agency. This time, due to fuel shortages. Many hospitals in Gaza have already shut down. As the medical system collapses, getting updates from inside has become more difficult by the day.

Israel may now be preparing to expand its ground operations after previously telling Gazans to evacuate from the north, leaflets dropped in South Gaza Wednesday warn people to move and head towards known shelters.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Today in their leaflets, they're telling us to evacuate to the south, which means that there is no safe place today.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): LIEBERMANN (voice-over): International calls for a break in the fighting have grown. The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution pushing for humanitarian policies and the European Union urged Israel to temper its military actions.

JOSEP BORRELL, HIGH REPRESENTATIVE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION: I understand your rage, but let me ask you not to be consumed by rage. I see that that's what the best friend of Israel can tell you.

LIEBERMANN (voice-over): In Israel, demands to the Israeli government to facilitate the release of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza are growing. The families of the hostages continued their march toward Jerusalem, stopping at the home of Noa Marciano who died in Gaza. Her mother demanded to hear from the government where the negotiations stand.

ADI MARCIANO, DAUGHTER DIED WHILE HELD HOSTAGE IN GAZA (through translator): Bring Noa and everyone else home now. We will not stop fighting until Noa and all of the hostages and everyone will return home now, now, now.


LIEBERMANN (on camera): And shortly before the IDF released the video you saw at the beginning of the piece, they released a statement that Yehudit Weiss, a 65 year old grandmother who was kidnapped on October 7 had been found killed inside Gaza. The IDF did not mention a specific cause of death. The IDF spokesperson says she had been murdered by Hamas. Her body they say was found near the Al-Shifa complex along with AK47s and rocket propelled grenades. Her husband Shmulik was killed in the attack itself on October 7, Jake.

TAPPER: All right, CNN's Oren Liebermann in Tel Aviv, thanks so much. In California, an arrest in what police call the homicide of a Jewish protester earlier this month, 69 year old Paul Kessler died hours after falling and hitting his head. Kessler was at a protest involving both pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian groups. Kessler was involved in a sort of physical incident or confrontation. CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles.

And Stephanie, what more do we know about the person arrested and the charges?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have his name to begin with, Jake, is a 50 year old man, his name is Loay Alnaji. And this is someone that we've seen in images from that incident and that date. The problem is law enforcement officials are saying that they did not have any video from exactly what led up to this altercation but they did believe that something went on between these two and they were not clear of that. So he was right there on the scene when pictures that we have seen. He's now been arrested this morning on involuntary manslaughter and his bail has been set at $1 million.

Law enforcement still asking the community for information on what happened. We know that whatever happened, Paul Kessler fell backwards, hit his head and then hours later died from those injuries. That's what we do know. We do know that it was a pro-Palestinian demonstration that was happening and that there were some pro-Jewish, pro-Israel protesters that showed up and that's where this altercation happened early in this month, November 5 is the day that happened.


As for the district attorney they're saying they're finalizing the review of this case and that their charging. Issue will be declared later on probably today. We've also learned about Alnaji that he worked for the Ventura County Community College District. They say effective immediately he has been placed on administrative leave. So some details coming out of the -- obviously though, this is just horrible news of someone dying during a protest like this. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Homicide investigation and arrest. Stephanie Elam, thanks so much.

The flashpoints over the Israel Hamas war lit up on the streets last night in D.C. as protesters calling for a ceasefire clashed with Capitol police outside the Democratic Party's national headquarters. Activists claim they were being peaceful and had been assaulted by law enforcement and Capitol Police are defending their actions. The group was not peaceful, six officers were injured with one person arrested for assaulting an officer. Some of the protest organizers held a virtual news conference this morning, they argued that they only wanted to be heard.


DANI NOBLE, DEMONSTRATION ORGANIZER: Democratic leadership and the Democratic Party is not aligned and is not listening to us. And so we can't -- we went last night, arm and arm to sing, to, again, light candles in memory of the dead and to attempt to engage actually, with Democratic leadership as they were coming into the building.


TAPPER: Now, some of those there last night, not all, but some of those there, at least according to their own tweets were with the New York branch of a group called Democratic Socialists of America. You might remember that's the same group that on October 7, immediately after the attacks attempted to justify the Hamas terrorist attacks as quote, "resistance" in this push from activists on the left, including the Hamas supporting far left adds more pressure on President Biden as he tries to navigate how he continues U.S. support for Israel while trying to push Netanyahu to the center for a post war world. Here is President Biden last night.


BIDEN: I can't tell you how long it's going to last. But I can tell you I don't think it ultimately ends until there's a two state solution. I made it clear to the Israelis, I think it's a big mistake for them to think they're going to occupy Gaza and maintain Gaza.


TAPPER: As Israel intensifies its assault on Gaza and innocent Palestinians are killed, these divisions at home are likely to widen and they will increasingly pose a political challenge to President Biden that could last up to and through Election Day. He is facing outrage from the far left. And now images of their confrontations with Capitol Police reminiscent in some ways, let's -- we shouldn't overemphasize it, but reminiscent of scenes from January 6 could undermine Democrats condemnation of Trump and Republicans role interfering with 2020 vote. That's what Democrats are afraid of at any rate.

Turning to our tech lead, here is something many of us did not see coming of Osama bin Laden, the late al-Qaeda terrorist leader who orchestrated the 9/11 attacks. His words are going viral on TikTok. I'm not joking. This is true. Bin Laden's infamous two decade old letter to America where he attempts to justify killing nearly 3,000 innocent people is apparently resonating with some young Americans, ill-informed people on TikTok, some are going so far as to praise bin Laden's words.

The White House telling CNN today there is never a justification for spreading bin Laden's, quote, "repugnant evil and antisemitic lies." All this amid the polarization already being caused by the Israel Hamas war. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan is here to put this into context for us, if you can. I don't know if you can. That's a challenge for you, Donie.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's a lot to unpack here, Jake, yes.

TAPPER: So, let's take a step back. Why and how did this go viral?

O'SULLIVAN: The why -- I mean, the broader context here, of course, is the Israel-Hamas war. We know younger generations particularly a lot of people on TikTok are far more sympathetic towards the Palestinian cause, even at some points Hamas than older generations in the United States. So that's the kind of context of what is happening on TikTok. Over the past few bug past week or so, this letter that purportedly written by Osama bin Laden and was released in 2002 started circulating online and was actually initially published by The Guardian newspaper in the U.K., which I think we have a screenshot of The Guardian actually, because so much traffic --


O'SULLIVAN: -- was going to that letter from TikTok, The Guardian took it down. Perhaps not exactly a wise decision on the part of The Guardian because they said they took it down because there wasn't context around it, it was just the letter itself. But of course, that then spurred conspiracy theories that there was a kind of cover up going on about this letter --

TAPPER: Right.

O'SULLIVAN: -- even though it's been published in books. What then happened was people started reading this letter. TikTok discovered this. We're not going to show the videos of some of the young people who posted this, but we will read out a little bit of what people were saying in the videos.


One person who's kind of New York based lifestyle influencer, as she said in the video, "If you have read it, let me know if you're going through an existential crisis in this very moment, because in the last 20 minutes, my entire viewpoint on my entire life I believed the life I have lived has changed." Another person saying, "If we're going to call Osama bin Laden a terrorist, so is the American government."

Bizarre, crazy. I mean, a lot of these -- a lot of people sharing this stuff obviously weren't born, weren't alive when 9/11 happened. That's, of course, not an excuse. But you can just really see their total disconnect. And of course, I mean, this is I think, young people who are trying to push back against maybe U.S. government policy towards Israel, but you can find critiques of the U.S. government online, without resorting to Osama bin Laden and praising or sympathizing with the mastermind of the September 11 attacks.

TAPPER: That's so weird. It's just like, have they not read any Chomsky? I mean, there's plenty of leftist critiques of American imperialism and corporatism, I mean, out there without going to a terrorist.

O'SULLIVAN: Yes, and I think, you know, this is much -- I think this is a symptom of a much bigger, you know, issue that's happening in this country right now. Pew Research Center had a new survey details out yesterday showing just how many more young people are getting their news from TikTok rather --

TAPPER: Right.

O'SULLIVAN: -- than anywhere else. I should mention TikTok in their defense they've been pushing back. They're saying this kind of Content promoting this letter is against their rules and it says they are taking it down. They also kind of have a go at the media and others saying the number of videos on TikTok is small and reports of a trending on our platform are inaccurate.

We mentioned this is -- we've stayed in our reporting. This is dozens of people, if not 100s of people or 1000s people sharing it. However, of the videos me and my team are able to find today, we were able to find dozens and many of them have now either been removed or taken down. And the videos we found had more than 14 million views. So, not insignificant.

TAPPER: Right.

O'SULLIVAN: And if we're able to find them, TikTok clearly isn't doing the job. They're saying they're doing like that they're taking it out.

TAPPER: Right. And we should note that this doesn't help their argument. And there are a lot of people on Capitol Hill say this is exactly the problem. They're controlled by the Chinese government. And these algorithms are meant to destroy our children's brains.

O'SULLIVAN: No doubt. A lot of Republicans will pounce on that, Jake.

TAPPER: Well, Democrats too. Donie O'Sullivan, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

The breaking news in our pop lead, Sean "Diddy" Combs is being accused of rape and abuse in a brand new lawsuit just filed by his ex- girlfriend, Cassie Ventura. Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our pop culture lead just in, producer and musician Sean Combs also known as "Diddy" is facing a new federal lawsuit. His former girlfriend is alleging that he raped her and subjected her two years of physical and other kinds of abuse. Let's bring in CNN's Jean Casarez.

Jean, walk us through the other allegations laid out in this law.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, these are serious. These are really, really serious. First of all, this is a civil case. It's filed in federal court in New York, a district court of the Southern District of New York, and it's under the Adult Survivors Act which is just about to expire but allows someone that has allegations of this nature far in the past to bring this civil action for monetary damages. That is the justice at this point.

But this young woman at the time, her name was Cassie Ventura, it was 2005, she was 19 years old and she met and became the girlfriend and employee, she alleges of Sean "Diddy" Combs of his mega record labels. She was a singer herself. But she goes on to say that during this time that she was abused, she was a part of the cycle of violence, physical and sexual abuse, there was uncontrollable rage some of the specific she says. She says that she was raped in her own home when she tried to leave him. That she was often beaten, kicked, punched, stomped on, resulting in bruises and burst lips black eyes and bleeding. That he blew up a man's car at one point when he thought that that man was interested in her. That he introduced her to a lifestyle of excessive alcohol, substance abuse and required her to produce illicit prescriptions to satisfy his own addictions. Now, there are always two sides to every story. And his attorney has released a statement to CNN which reads, in part, Mr. Combs denies these offenses and outrageous allegations. For the past six months, Mr. Combs has been subjected to Ms. Ventura's persistent demand of $30 million under the threat of writing a damaging book about their relationship which was unequivocally rejected as blatant blackmail, baseless and outrageous lies aiming to tarnish Mr. Combs' reputation and simply seeking a pay day.

So this has just been filed. Discovery will begin. But of course this is filed in New York. They are residents of California, but you've got Epic Records as a defendant as well as his own record company himself, Bad Boy Records. So, we'll see where this goes.

TAPPER: Wow. Stunning. All right, Jean Casarez, thanks so much.

CASAREZ: Thank you.

TAPPER: Now in our law injustice lead, today the man that violently beat former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband Paul with a hammer was found guilty in federal court. David DePape now faces decades in prison as well as a state trial where charges include attempted murder. Joining us now former assistant secretary of the Department of Homeland Security and CNN National Security Analyst Juliette Kayyem.

Juliette, thanks for joining us. So DePape admitted he was the attacker. The question was always, what was his intent? And that was a big part of what the jury had to consider today.

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. And then they didn't consider for long, in other words -- and they come back just a couple hours later. And the question for them was is this a federal crime or is this just a, you know, an attack and assault? So the federal crime that they are looking at has the words, you know, was the target against a federal official in their federal official capacity? So what the defendant was trying to convince the jury to believe is that he just happened to show up in Nancy Pelosi his house, he wants her and that's -- and he has admitted that he wants to target her and then Paul Pelosi is just sort of a bystander, no, it doesn't work that way.


He clearly is a family member, he is in the home. The home is hers and his and he was there to target her in her official capacity and that would extend to Paul Pelosi. To me, this was -- you know, it maybe took two hours too long, this was so obviously, just an attempt for them to get out of federal charges out because it has a higher sentence.

TAPPER: There was a pretty immediately a flurry of conspiracy theories after Paul Pelosi was attacked, being floated by prominent right wing politicians. And Donald Trump continues to make light of it --


TAPPER: -- rather disgustingly. Is this usual? Is this typical when it comes to politically related violence like this?

KAYYEM: It is. I thought this case was really interesting. And something to watch out for is as you and I have been talking as we head towards 2024, because we've seen nothing yet is the extent to which that we are -- DePape is enters this world through Gamergate. So, Gamergate is, as many people remember, it's a very sexist sort of organization of guys who are online gaming, and they don't like women who are in the industry or who are criticizing the glorification of rape and sexual abuse and everything. They -- these guys start to target these women online, and it's called Gamergate.

So DePape enters up Gamergate. And remember that this entry just then serves as a gateway drug to something worse. And Steve Bannon, Trump's adviser, at one stage has often said that he grabs people in the sort of -- in one world, like people who will be susceptible to incitement to this glorification of violence and then through the internet and through bringing them into things like QAnon and stuff, they then become violent. And so people may start off benign and end up, you know, attacking Paul Pelosi.

TAPPER: Juliette Kayyem, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Coming up next. Speaking of violence, my reporting on some of the most damning allegations about what Hamas did during the October 7 terrorist attack. And these are claims that you might not have heard much about. That's next.



TAPPER: The other day a member of Congress sent me a clip from back in her home district where a Muslim American leader was attacking her accusing her of lying because she had mentioned that Hamas had committed rapes against civilians on October 7. Of course, it is not a lie. It is an ugly fact. Though the rapes have not gotten as much attention as the murders.

Israeli authorities have only recently begun their investigations into these atrocities. But sadly, often the evidence has been lost along with the victims. A warning, the story we're about to show you contains graphic content and it assuredly will be disturbing to most viewers.


TAPPER (voice-over): In the aftermath of the October 7 attacks by Hamas, Israel's focus immediately turned to war into identifying the bodies of those slaughtered by Hamas in Israel's largest mass casualty attack. But now Israel is launching an investigation into allegations of rape and other forms of sexual violence on that deadly day. Israeli police are starting to build rape cases relying on eyewitness testimony, video, and forensic evidence, as well as Hamas interrogations.

Dr. Cochav Elkayam-Levy named Chair of the civil commission on October 7 crimes by Hamas against women and children points to one reason why the investigations have been so difficult.

DR. COCHAV ELKAYAM, CHAIR, CIVIL COMMISSION ON HAMAS OCT. 7 CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN: We'll never know everything that has happened to them. We know that most women who were raped and who were sexually assaulted were also murdered, and it will take time. Even in other atrocities it takes time until the crimes against women are revealed until survivors even share their stories.

TAPPER (voice-over): Still, CNN found witnesses to the atrocities and their aftermath. "G," a paramedic and Israel's elite 669 Special tactics rescue units went house to house and kibbutz Be-eri, one of the sights of the worst massacres. He did not want to be identified on camera.

"G": While we're sorting through those houses, one of the doors I open it's a bedroom. I see two girls, two teenagers, I guess 13 or 14 years old, one was lying on the floor, one was lying on the bed. One on the floor, she's lying on your stomach. Her pants are pulled down towards her knees. And there's a bullet wound on her backside of her neck in her head and there's a puddle of blood around her head. And there's remains of semen on the lower part of her back.

TAPPER (voice-over): "G" says the other teenage girl also appear to have been assaulted.

"G": There's a bullet wound on the upper part of her chest. And there's bruises all over her body. So, no, these are two girls that were just killed, executed, perhaps raped in their own bedroom.

TAPPER (voice-over): Israeli police say the body's at Shura, one of the handful of sites where dead bodies are brought for identification, show trauma consistent with rape and assault. Morgue workers say these women did not die peaceful deaths.

SHARI, VOLUNTEER, IDF MILITARY RABBINATE: Some of the women came in just with underwear. And the underwear was often bloody. They just -- some of them had underwear on that was very bloody. And that was very difficult to see also. We also saw most of the people, the women were shot at least once in the body, but then they were shot in the head and they were shot in the head many times. And it often seemed to be gratuitous cruelty, abject cruelty, because it was seemed to have been done just to mutilate them. The women we saw were not just killed. They were cruelly, cruelly mutilated in many parts of their bodies.

TAPPER (voice-over): Women's groups say the humiliation women experienced as they were paraded through the street, thrown on the backs of motorcycles and degraded either before or after they were killed at the festival that also constitutes gender based violence. Here's what one Nova festival organizer told us that he saw. RAMI SHMUEL, CEO,UNITY FESTIVAL ISRAEL: What we found in the area, on the field outside the safe zone. There is not a doubt about what our girls went through the terrorist. We found naked women stripped out without any clothes. Their legs was spread out. And some of them were butchered.

TAPPER (voice-over): Israeli police acknowledge that the investigation is likely to take months. Tuesday, police held a press briefing in which one witness said she saw a gang rape, quote, they bent someone over and I understood he was raping her. And then he was passing her on to someone else. She was alive. She stood on her feet and she was bleeding from her back. I saw that he was pulling her hair. She had long brown hair. I saw him chop off her breast. And then he was throwing it toward the road, tossed it to someone else. And they started playing with it. I remember seeing another person raping her. And while he was still inside her, he shot her in the head.

Another shocking part of all of this to these women and investigators, the absence of international outrage, including United Nation statement a week after these terrorist attacks that did not mention these accusations at all, as if the rape of Israeli women does not count as rape.

DR. COCHAV ELKAYAM-LEVY, CHAIR, CIVIL COMMISSION ON HAMAS' OCT. 7 CRIMES AGAINST WOMEN: It's much worse than just silence or an insult to us as Israeli women and to our children and to our people. It's -- when they are failing to acknowledges -- to acknowledge what happened here, they are failing humanity.


TAPPER: Why would it be that the international community and the United Nations would be silent about these crimes. They seem to be vocal about so much else.


Coming up next, an American woman who spent nearly a month stuck in Gaza during this conflict. She was forced to leave her Palestinian family behind. She's going to join me right here in the studio right after the break to tell me how they are doing back in Gaza, what they are experiencing, what they need and the nightmare they are going through. Stay with us.


TAPPER: In our World Lead, the humanitarian crisis in Gaza right now is so dire, so dire the U.N.'s World Food Programme says people there are quote, facing an immediate possibility of starvation. U.S. State Department says that nearly 700 American citizens, legal permanent residents and family members have been able to get out, that's a story you know we've been following since October 7th. But there are millions of Palestinians in Gaza who cannot leave.

And joining us now is Haneen Okal. You might remember her and her brother stories that we've been telling on THE LEAD. She's a Palestinian-American who after going through a painstaking ordeal for more than three weeks, has been able to get out of Gaza with her three children along with her brother, Abood, and his wife and son, they did have to leave so many family members behind who are not Americans. And Haneen, thank you so much for joining us. Again, you have -- you were able to get out with your eight-year-old, two-year-old and two-month- old, I guess now three-month-old.


TAPPER: And everyone's good.

OKAL: Everyone is good.

TAPPER: OK. Do they have -- are the kids doing all right, because that can be very traumatic, the bombs? And I don't know if I mean, the two- year-old probably didn't know how scary it was, but they could probably detect how scared you were. Are they OK? Are they sleeping through the night? Are they?

OKAL: They are OK. But others are still not OK.

TAPPER: The ones that are stuck back in Gaza?

OKAL: Yes. Those and everyone else as well as the whole civilians, the whole Palestinians who are living there in Gaza are suffering right now.


OKAL: Thank you, Jake, for having me in your show.

TAPPER: Of course. Tell me about your parents. They're stuck there.

OKAL: My parents still stuck there. My family members, relatives, my cousins, my brother's siblings all the civilians in Gaza, I want to talk about them specifically because as you see now, what's happening is a human catastrophe.


OKAL: It's seriously what's going on in there has to make no sense. People are suffering, people are dying. Bombing is everywhere. It's not only a specific part or group of people. Bombing -- they are bombing Israel, unfortunately, they are bombing hospitals, they are bombing houses, they are bombing everywhere, they are bombing like premature babies, now are dying slowly because of incubators are not functioning. Premature babies has to do nothing with this like they are innocent people. They are bombing churches, hospitals.


TAPPER: Tell me about your parents. Where are they right now?

OKAL: My parents now in Rafah. They flee from north to south as well as so many thousands of Palestinians, 2 million people, we are talking about 2 million people now. TAPPER: Do they get food?

OKAL: Less than that because --


OKAL: There is lackness of food, lackness of electricity, lackness of water now. It's like a siege. Israel military is forcing people in this, forcing the siege. It's like a cage, no medicine, no water, no electricity. They're doing the all the bombing while cutting off everything else. People are suffering because of, you know, lackness of everything that a human being needs to survive. When I was in Gaza, I was thinking, how am I going to survive? And now look at all those civilians, they had to do nothing with what's going on.

TAPPER: It must have been crazy, because you were literally, because I remember talking to your brother, texting with your brother, and it was literally how am I going to get food from my family today?

OKAL: Yes. It's not only about food. Do you know that in hospitals are shutting down now.


OKAL: Hospitals, doctors are performing operations without medicine.

TAPPER: Without anesthesia.

OKAL: Absolutely. And premature babies as I told you about, they're dying slowly, thousands people are trapped under the rubble, dying slowly. Nobody can reach them. The Red Cross are not able to help. Nobody can reach them. There is no fuel, you know, for anything to -- the black out of electricity is a big problem now. And this has to -- has an end. We are calling for a ceasefire, for an immediate ceasefire, not just only a five-day ceasefire.

And I'm sorry to say that but the U.S. government, they're -- the responsibility of this violence, of this genocide. They need to stop sending weapons for Israel military. They need to stop sending money for this war for the Israeli military. They need to stop sending. Every single year they send $4 billion to the U.S. military to, what, to kill innocent people in Gaza, to kill civilians, to kill premature babies?

It is a nightmare to be a pregnant woman now in Gaza. Do you know that? C-sections are being done without a medicine and everything is happening now is against human rights. It's a disaster. It's a catastrophe. And this thing didn't happen only last month. It's been happening for decades. Israeli -- since the establishment of Israel, Palestinians didn't have one day of safety, one day of feeling safe or is feeling free. For 16 years, Palestinians in Gaza has been under siege, has been under -- has been in this --

TAPPER: -- time of the blockade?

OKAL: Yes. TAPPER: Yes. The blockade Egypt and Israel started the blockade in 2007 when Hamas was elected, yes.

OKAL: Yes. But again, civilians has to do nothing with this.

TAPPER: Right.

OKAL: Civilians are innocent people. Nobody -- everyone there wants to live peacefully. Everyone there wants a future. Everyone lost a family member or lost hundreds of family members and relatives. People want just to live peacefully. And that I think the last -- what all Palestinians want a lasting solution, which won't happen unless everybody has permanent, immediate permanent ceasefire. It's not just a five-day ceasefire.

TAPPER: I think --

OKAL: Palestinians are losing their homes, are losing their land. They have -- my family, my parents, my grandparents back to 1948, they were forced and they were driven out of their homes and their lands. Now the history is repeating itself again. Gazans in Gaza, they are doing the same thing. Israel is doing the same thing fleeing people from north to south. And do you think this is enough for them? No. They're still bombing people in the south.

TAPPER: Haneen, thank you so much for being here. And I hope that your family is safe. I hope this war in soon. I hope that there will be a two-state solution. And the Palestinian people have human rights and dignity and a future without Hamas. And with an Israeli government that respects the Palestinian people and with the Palestinian government that respects it.


OKAL: Safety and freedom for all.

TAPPER: Exactly.

OKAL: Safety and freedom for all.

TAPPER: A 100 percent.

OKAL: But Israel has to understand that you cannot -- like you cannot do this to Palestinians. Palestinians has the right to live peacefully in their land, right?

TAPPER: Inshallah. Good to see you. Thank you so much for being here. And I'm so glad you and your family are well.

OKAL: Thank you.

TAPPER: Haneen Okal, thank you and love to Abood and his family.

OKAL: Thank you so much.

TAPPER: We'll be right back. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: And we are back with our 2024 Lead, a new CNN poll shows former South Carolina governor and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley moving into second place among likely voters. They had a New Hampshire Republican presidential primary. Former President Trump of course still has a significant lead over his rivals. He's got 42 percent. Nikki Haley falling into second with 20 percent. Former Governor Chris Christie is the only other candidate pulling in the double digits. He's at 14 percent. Let us discuss with our panel.


Josh, Haley's rise has been attributed to her strong debate performances. She's got a long way to go to catch up with Trump. But her numbers are going in the right direction. What do you think?

JOSH BARRO, HOST, "VERY SERIOUS" PODCAST: Going to the right direction, but still half as much as Trump. I mean, it strikes me the extent to which we're literally replaying the 2016 primary with Nikki Haley as Marco Rubio, Chris Christie as John Kasich, and John -- and Ron DeSantis as Ted Cruz, like the same vote shares the same portions of the GOP electorate and setting up for the same result in New Hampshire where you have Donald Trump going away. And then, you know, a few people sort of --

TAPPER: Yes. But who doesn't like reruns? I mean, I still go home. I watch "MASH." I watch "Cheers." I watch "Friends."

SE CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They keep making the same movies over and over again.

TAPPER: Seriously. I mean, like --

CUPP: It's comforting.

TAPPER: But you strike me as a potential Nikki Haley voter?

CUPP: What do you mean by that?

TAPPER: Is that possible?

CUPP: No. I am. I like Nikki Haley. She's had some -- she's made some mistakes. I was very critical today.

TAPPER: We're all fallible, SE.


TAPPER: We're fallible. We're all human.

CUPP: I was critical today of her social media proposal, because it's super dangerous. But no, she has been distinguishing herself via her age. She's --

TAPPER: Youth. CUPP: Her youth, yes.

TAPPER: Yes, yes, yes.

CUPP: Yes. She's -- she wasn't at D Day. OK. And that distinguishes our from lots of other people, the current president and other people running for president, but also she's presented a softer image on abortion, recognizing that that is a very toxic issue for Republicans. So she has been trying to distinguish herself. And I think if you're looking for an alternative to Trump, she looks pretty good.

TAPPER: You know, and Congressman Rose, I have to say, like, poll after poll after poll shows Nikki Haley, a much stronger candidate against Biden than any of the others.


TAPPER: That doesn't seem to be an argument that holds any sway with Republican voters. They don't seem to care about it, but it is right there. And it's -- in numerous polls.

ROSE: And if it was just Haley versus Trump, I do believe Nikki Haley could win the primary. What's shocking about all this is that there's no Barack Obama in the Republican Party. You go back to 2020, when there was this crowded Democratic primary, Barack Obama stepped in, had private conversations with Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg. And what do you know, within 24 hours, everybody drops out, and Joe Biden is coronated. That --

TAPPER: Right. Because it became a two-man race between Biden and Bernie and then Bernie lost.

ROSE: Exactly. Exactly.


ROSE: There's no one right now in the Republican Party that's either capable of doing that, or willing to do that. And that may be the very reason why Donald Trump won the primary in both 2016 and will win again this time.

TAPPER: Why isn't there anybody willing to do that?

BARRO: Because the voters wouldn't be willing to go along with it. I mean, Ron -- it's, again, the 2016 replay. Ron DeSantis's strategy in this campaign has been to get to the right of Donald Trump in every way that he can. Saying, you know, Trump's not a true conservative. Here's this record of all this really right wing stuff that have gotten through the legislature in Florida. A lot of his voters, if he wasn't there, they wouldn't go for Nikki Haley, they would go for Trump.

Similarly, Haley's voters, it's, you know, it's a lot of the more establishment figures find Ron DeSantis as odious as Donald Trump is, for a lot of the same reasons they found Ted Cruz odious. So the problem is that, you know, you have Trump at 42, they're in New Hampshire. If you had a one on one, I don't believe Haley would win that primary. And I don't believe --

TAPPER: Oh, you don't.

BARRO: No. And I don't think she would win the nomination against Trump either. I think Trump would have a majority of the party because I mean, the problem for Republicans and problem for the country is that most Republican voters find Donald Trump to be at least acceptable and often very appealing. I think that's why he's likely to win --

CUPP: But Nikki is sort of like the House. She's going to need Democrat, you know, she's going to need disaffected Democrats, she's going to need independence, she's going to need moderates. You're right. She's not going to win the base of the Republican Party, whether there's eight people in the primary or just two. She's going to need to bring over some folks in the middle and maybe even the left, folks who are in a way that Joe Biden or don't have confidence in him, I think she might be able to do that.

TAPPER: So I want to play some sound from hearing back in September. And this is old sound, old-ish sound. It's from Senator Tuberville. And the reason I have to be honest, I missed this. And my wife who's more amazing --

CUPP: Brilliant.

TAPPER: -- which is not difficult, but she is very amazing. And she said, did you ever see this sound from Senator Tuberville, who is obviously still in the news, because he's still blockading all these promotions and the like. And he said this. And I want to just run the sound and that and because you're a veteran, I want to get your reaction to it. This is Senator Tuberville blockading all these promotions. Let's run it.


SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): Well, there's nobody more military up here than me. But, you know, I just hope we can work this out.

SEN. MARK KELLY (D-AZ): As far as I could tell, there's at least four of us, maybe more that served in the United States military. So I take great exception.


TAPPER: So Congressman Rose, you have a purple heart and a bronze star, you were a platoon leader in Afghanistan. And I'm wondering what you think about Senator Tuberville, who never served a day in the military, saying that there is nobody more military than him.


ROSE: He's such a loser. But what's shocking about all of this is how, it's not just offensive. We all know that this is offensive, not just to veterans like me, but to the families of those who have fallen. But what he is actually right now is a threat to national security. There are hundreds of officers who are right now contemplating early retirement because he's preventing their promotion, hundreds of officers who are now in deep pain, not just him, but their families because of his actions. And the United States of America is less secure. He's a walking threat to national security.

TAPPER: But there's nobody more military than him.

ROSE: Yes. He should resign.

TAPPER: I don't understand what your problem is. There's no -- OK. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: Today, the U.S. Supreme Court decided to continue blocking Florida from enforcing its law limiting drag shows. The law makes it a misdemeanor to knowingly admit a child to a sexually explicit adult life performance that would be obscene for quote, the age of the child present. The law was a priority for Florida Governor Ron DeSantis who signed the law in May.

If you ever miss an episode of THE LEAD, you can listen to the show once you get your podcast. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer. He's in "THE SITUATION ROOM".