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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip
From Campus To Capitol, Anger And Ignorance In U.S. Spirals; Israel Says, Tunnel Shaft Found In Hospital Complex Raided By IDF; Spas, Botox, Casino, Rep. George Santos (R-NY) Accused Of Cartoonish Corruption; U.S. Capitol Police Clash With Protesters Calling For A Gaza Ceasefire; CNN's Nima Elbagir Exposes The Crisis In Sudan; Diddy Faces Allegations Of Rape And Physical Abuse. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired November 16, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Major League Baseball announcing the 2025 All Star Game will return to Atlanta two years after pulling the game from the state in response to that law, the voting law that Governor Brian Kemp signed into place, something he noted today is still in place in the state of Georgia.
Thank you so much for joining us tonight. CNN NEWSNIGHT with Abby Phillip starts right now.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: A perfect storm of anger and ignorance, that's tonight on NEWSNIGHT.
Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip in Washington.
Go to TikTok right now and try searching Letter to America or Osama Letter or Osama bin Laden or bin Laden Letter and you won't get any hits. But if you had searched those terms before midday yesterday, you would have seen something strange and something hateful.
Americans reading from a two decades-old screed from the Al Qaeda terrorists behind the 9/11 attacks that murdered nearly 3,000 people. Not just reading the letter, but celebrating it. Influencer types saying their entire world view had changed. 14 million people watched other Americans essentially say a homicidal maniac sounded like he made sense.
The letter was warehoused on The Guardian's website, and as you can see, it has now been removed, but not before TikTok pushed droves of viewers there. The White House felt obligated to say the obvious out loud. There is never a justification for spreading the repugnant, evil and anti-Semitic lies that the leader of Al Qaeda issued after committing the worst terrorist attack in American history.
Violence is as old as Cain and Abel, but hate and anger seem to be becoming a regular feature of American life, on college campuses, like Brandeis, like George Washington and elsewhere, like Cornell, where some students now live in fear. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was on my way to the kosher dining hall when I looked down and saw the threats.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How did you feel?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I mean, it's terrifying. Like this isn't anything that we thought we would ever have to deal with in the United States.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: That fear is part of why the Department of Education tonight is launching investigations into seven schools about alleged incidents of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. You can feel the anger in major American cities where activists have resorted to disrespecting families in despair in one place while trying to draw attention to more despair in another.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LINDA SARSOUR, CO-FOUNDER, MPOWERCHANGE: And what they're waiting for you to do is to waste your energy ripping down their little posters.
Trust me when I tell you they are everywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: It all adds up to a climate primed for violence. Just listen to the Homeland Security chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEJANDRO MAYORKAS, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: In the days and weeks since, we have responded to an increase in threats against Jewish, Muslim and Arab-American communities and institutions across our country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And the FBI director.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: Our most immediate concern is that individuals or small groups will draw twisted inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks here at home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And the president himself.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Today, Jewish families worried about being targeted in school, wearing symbols of their face walking down the street, or going out about their daily lives. And I know many of you in the Muslim-American community, the Arab-American community, the Palestinian-American community, and so many others are outraged and hearty saying to yourselves, here we go again with Islamophobia and distrust we saw after 9/11.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: You don't have to look far for what that violence driven by anger born from ignorance actually looks like.
It looks like David DePape, who a jury just convicted for brutalizing Paul Pelosi. It looks like a homicidal landlord who allegedly stabbed a six-year-old Palestinian boy to death in Chicago. It looks like a brawl breaking out outside of Los Angeles, outside of a screening of a film depicting those atrocities of Hamas on October 7th.
And this week, reality reminded us again, don't look to the Capitol for an example to follow unless you want to learn how to hit someone.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-OK): The first thing I thought of when I stood up, I thought, I'm going to break my hand on this guy's face. I'm going to take my wedding ring off. Because when you're fighting, you learn how to punch correctly. You really shouldn't break your hand, but when you aren't doing it with wraps --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But you actually thought you were going to come to blows in that moment.
MULLIN: I had full intentions of doing that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: I want to bring in now 9/11 first responder and the founder of the Feel Good Foundation, John Feal.
John, the reason we wanted to talk to you today is because you were there on September 11th. You lost people near and dear to you. And now you see on social media, I guess, presumptively young people, kids, some of them, lionizing this Osama bin Laden letter. What are you thinking tonight?
JOHN FEAL, FOUNDER, FEALGOOD FOUNDATION: Well, one, thank you for having me, Abby. You know, I'm never going to call anybody dumb. I mean, we've all done dumb things when we were young, but I'll call them ignorant right to their face. And we're witnessing ignorance at its highest form right now.
TikTok was ignorant and reckless. The influencers were reckless and ignorant. And, you know, Osama bin Laden didn't die enough for me. You know, I have five tattoos dated on my back. And the day he died is tattooed on my back. This is the most evilest man to ever walk the Earth and he killed over 3,000 family members that didn't go home that day, that didn't go home to their families. Those people still, many of them, haven't had closure.
But it's not just those innocent lives that were lost. It was the 343 firefighters, the 23 NYPD, the 37 Port Authority. And then the following years, of all those veterans who went to war, who died in combat, or lost their leg, or has PTSD, or has a brain injury.
Osama bin Laden is still being felt today, his violence, his evil, his pure hatred for mankind is still being felt today. And now it's being picked up recklessly on -- listen, I get social media, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, everybody, most people. You know, look at me, look at me. I did this, I do that, I did this. Good for them. I do it too on Twitter. I'm not on TikTok. But we have a responsibility.
You know, I'm a kidney donor to a complete stranger. That's how you influence others to do good. You don't post crap that was written two decades ago by a maniacal, twisted evil piece of shit. And then say it's okay. You just don't. This norm, this norm is not my norm. And I'm never going to accept it. I'm going to live a life of giving, sharing and loving.
PHILLIP: So, many of the people probably in their late 20s right now or younger, they don't have any memory of 9/11. They maybe weren't even born yet. It's been so long. Do you think that that is one of the reasons why this is happening?
FEAL: Yes. I mean, 9/11 is going to be the next Pearl Harbor. I mean, Pearl Harbor is, what, 80 something years ago, 9/11 is 23 years ago. We're moving further, we move away. But I blame that on the school system now. I blame that on the education system, because 9/11 should be taught in schools, so the younger generation understands the magnitude and the devastation and the carnage that this man did. This is all Osama bin Laden. For anybody to glorify him is out of -- they're delusional.
But we live now where members of Congress want to fight, they want to throw stuff up on the internet, they want to say something outlandish, and it causes all of this hate. You know, me and you can have an argument, and I hope it would be an argument of, we both have substance to add to this argument. But when you make it personal and you call each other names, there's no more argument.
It's so easy to dismiss you, I hate you, I didn't burn calories. But if I listened to what Abby Phillips said, and I sat down with her, and I had to burn calories, then I would understand where you're coming from. But nobody wants to do that, nobody wants to have the difficult conversation anymore, because they're all lazy and they'd rather go in TikTok and spew crap.
PHILLIP: A lot of it is this performative nature of social media. And trust me when I say I understand what you mean when it comes to talking to especially some of these people on Capitol Hill, it's difficult to get to the substance of it all.
John, we do really appreciate you and actually everything that you've done to help these 9/11 families. Thank you so much for joining us.
FEAL: Thank you for having me.
PHILLIP: And tonight, as Israeli forces scour Gaza's largest hospital for evidence of Hamas, the IDF says they found some. Israel now releasing new images showing what it claims is a Hamas tunnel shaft in the Al-Shifa Hospital complex.
Now, CNN cannot independently verify that claim, but the video has been geolocated by CNN and at one point tilts up to show one of the hospital's main buildings. Another video shows what the IDF claims are a large amount of weapons found on the hospital grounds.
And joining me to discuss this is former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Joel Rubin. He's also running for Congress in Maryland's 6th District. Joel, thanks for joining us.
What do you make of this evidence that has been put out by Israel today?
Does it meet your bar for proof that Hamas had a significant presence at this hospital?
JOEL RUBIN, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE: Abby, it's great to be with you. And it certainly is making it clear that Hamas was endangering Palestinian civilians directly by embedding in hospitals. And the caches of weapons that are now being revealed should cause alarm for everyone who cares about human rights and cares about Palestinian lives, that why is Hamas embedding with military equipment inside hospitals?
So, I am confident that we're going to see more discoveries. I'm confident based upon what we are learning and what we've seen and how we've seen Hamas operate by stealing innocent civilians from Southern Israel and burying them underground and hiding them as hostages. This is only the tip of the iceberg.
PHILLIP: We haven't seen images that explicitly show -- I mean, what Israel has said is there is a command and control center underneath the hospital. The U.S. says that that is true, but we just haven't seen that. Will Israel have to produce that kind of evidence?
RUBIN: Yes. I mean, if you can imagine, put yourself in the shoes of the Israeli soldiers and the military planners right now about how are they going to engage, they know that there are fighters underground. They know that this is where they embed. So, entering those tunnels, going into the maze of hundreds of miles potentially of tunnel, that is very risky and dangerous. So, you bet they're going to have to have evidence.
They understand that the world is watching. They understand that validation of the claims must be met. But it's also very risky and it's very dangerous. And so that's why it's going to be patient and slow. But I'm confident that we're going to see evidence come out once this is done. But this will take time and this is a very risky operation.
PHILLIP: Yes. As I'm sure you know pro-Palestinian protests evacuated the DNC last night. They've also stopped traffic on the Bay Bridge. They're following President Biden around the country. In just a few minutes I'm going to speak with one of the activists who was there at the DNC and is calling for a ceasefire What do you say to other Democrats who are demanding an immediate ceasefire from Israel?
RUBIN: Well, you know, Abby, I think an immediate ceasefire would be a gift to Hamas. A unilateral ceasefire without providing any response where Hamas has to implement a ceasefire, where Hamas has to turn over the Israeli civilians who they've taken hostage, that's meaningless. It only means it gives time for Hamas to regroup.
And for the performative kinds of protests that we saw last night at the DNC, you know, I was on the National Mall on Tuesday when there were nearly 300,000 supporters of Israel peacefully marching, not really marching, just standing in unison, quietly listening to the speakers. That was the kind of demonstration of support for Israel.
Clearly, there was an attempt to change the media narrative, and we saw that last night from a small group. But the American-Jewish community stands firm behind the idea of ensuring that the security of Israel is real. In the United States, we're taking the right position to ensure that they have the time and space needed to protect their southern border. And I'm glad that President Biden is articulating a very strong point that we must ensure that Israel is protecting civilian lives. And he is pushing Israel on that. But all of that comes together. An immediate unilateral ceasefire would undermine that.
PHILLIP: All right. Joel Rubin, thank you so much for joining us.
RUBIN: Thanks, Abby.
PHILLIP: And as I just noted, I'll speak live with the organizer behind those ceasefire protests outside of the DNC that you see there. And we'll talk to her about why she's taking issue with the police's account of what happened.
Plus, Botox, honeymoons, sexual content, what a damning investigation reveals about how George Santos allegedly spent his campaign cash.
And disturbing allegations tonight against hip-hop superstar Diddy by the singer, Cassie, involving rape, abuse, even blowing up a rival's car.
PHILLIP: Look, George Santos is no Danny Ocean, allegedly. Today, a House ethics report spent 56 pages detailing a complex web of unlawful activity woven by Santos. The report's thesis is pretty straightforward. It says, quote, Santos sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.
Santos, according to the report, blatantly stole from his campaign to see donors reported fictitious loans and told a constant series of lies to his constituents, donors, and staff.
The alleged specifics are jaw-dropping, both because of the harebrained nature of so many of Santos's schemes.
And because of what he allegedly spent those ill-gotten funds on, $6,000 at Ferragamo, the ultra-luxury designer shoe company, maybe responsible for these red leather sneakers he wore at the Capitol, $4,000 at Hermes, the French fashion house. Santos allegedly did this while basically being broke. But that's not what he would have had you, the taxpayer, believe.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I can say that I did not handle donations in my campaign.
MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Because in one case, it says it even went to your personal bank account, roughly $12,000. You bought designer goods. You benefit yourself with a donor's money.
SANTOS: Essentially everything I do, everything I've ever spent in my account is going to be deemed as, oh my God, George Santos stole money, George Santos bought designer clothes. That's what I buy. I mean, I've been a client of the same stores for many years. And if you go and you go through my closet, you'll see. It's not like I amassed and bought all my clothes, all my shoes in the last campaign.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: There were hotels and taxi bills from Las Vegas charged to his campaign, trips to Atlantic City, casinos where he played, pretend as a high roller, charged all that to the campaign too, makeup at Sephora, charged to the campaign, Botox even, charged to the campaign, OnlyFans, charged to the campaign too.
And for those unfamiliar, OnlyFans is a DIY-risque site where you can subscribe. It's that last one, the literal thirst traps that are so head scratching because Santos, literally, and I'm not making this up, he said this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Speaking of peel, is it true that you have an OnlyFans page and you can peel a banana with your feet?
SANTOS: I don't have one and it's -- you know, I'll indulge you this. I just discovered what OnlyFans was about three weeks ago when it was bought up in a discussion in my office.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What do you think?
SANTOS: I was oblivious to the whole concept.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Oblivious to OnlyFans, another now proven lie.
And despite all of that, Santos is still indignant. On X, he wrote, quote, it is a disgusting politicized smear that shows the depths of how low our federal government has sunk.
Now, Santos today said that he won't seek re-election. It means, at least for now, he can't allegedly spend other people's money to keep up his lifestyle of the rich and famous. But when we hear from him again, and I'm sure that that will be soon, don't be surprised if he trades one cringe-worthy comparison for another.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANTOS: They come for me, I go right back for them. Because I think for far too long they've gotten away with getting along to get along. So, no, it's not going to stay that way anymore. I'm going to call them out. You want to call me a liar? I'll call you a sellout.
I mean, Mitt Romney, the man goes to the State of the Union of the United States wearing the Ukraine lapel pin, tells me a Latino gay man that I shouldn't sit in the front, that I should be in the back. Well, guess what? Rosa Parks didn't sit in the back and neither am I going to sit in the back. That's just the reality of how it worked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: And here's another thing. You might remember this. Santos also allegedly embezzled thousands of dollars, donated dollars to save a homeless veteran's dying service dog. That veteran, Richard Osthoff says he knew Santos as Anthony DeVolder.
In 2016, Santos, aka DeVolder, set up a GoFundMe for Osthoff. Its purpose was to pay for a $3,000 surgery for his pitbull, Sapphire. Now, Ostoff never saw any of that money. Sapphire, sadly, passed away in January 2017, and Mr. Ostoff joins me now from New York. Thank you so much for being here tonight.
What's your reaction to just all that has been laid out in black and white on paper from this Ethics Committee report?
RICHARD OSTHOFF, NAVY VETERAN WHO SAYS SANTOS SCAMMED HIM: It's just so much, it's hard to even take it all in. It's almost a vindication tonight, Abby. And Sapphire, she's really probably pretty happy about this too. This poor little girl, she suffered the last three or four months of her life because he stole money from me and from her.
PHILLIP: That's her right there in the box. OSTHOFF: That's my little girl. Yes. The last two or three weeks of her life, I knew she was going out and I had nothing that I could do to bring her any comfort or to keep her alive. And when she died, it was three or four weeks before I had another dog.
I'm a disabled veteran with PTSD and bipolar disorder, and not having a dog in my life for those couple of weeks, it was devastating to me. I would fall down on my knees crying in the shower. And one man, one man is responsible for that.
For me, thinking about taking my own life and for losing my companion, my best friend and my medication.
He needs to be in jail and that's where he's headed.
I just saw all the things that he spent money on, all those clothes, Botox, Sephora. I wonder what he spent Sapphire's money on, probably some makeup, probably a stupid pair of red shoes.
And, you know, the people of New York 03, they deserve better. He's been an embarrassment to them and he hasn't done a thing for them. His whole entire stint in Congress has been defending himself from things he should never have been involved with in the first place.
PHILLIP: Are you shocked that he's even still in Congress?
OSTHOFF: I am. I can't believe that Kevin McCarthy allowed him to stay in Congress as long as he did. We got Mike Johnson now, who is definitely not going to let him go. I can't believe a few Democrats actually didn't vote to have him expelled a couple of weeks ago.
It's a shame. This guy is obviously a fraud and a liar. He's actually gone on T.V. and said that I lied and that my story is fake, that people had made me up, that I'm a fake veteran, that he didn't rip off of. I'm here, George. I'm a real person. I have a DD214 to show it. I have medals to show it. I have a dog right here who isn't with me anymore, thanks to you. What do you have to show for it, George? A whole bunch of lies.
You keep embarrassing yourself every time you come on T.V. and you try to defend yourself. Just stop. Like Mitt Romney said, be quiet, sit in the back.
PHILLIP: Richard Osthoff, I'm sorry. I can't say that enough. Sorry about the loss of your dog and your companion. But thank you for joining us tonight.
OSTHOFF: Well, thank you for allowing me to come out here and to have a voice and this needs to be said. He makes himself look bad enough and he's trying to hide how bad he made himself, you know, with what he did to me. I'm going to keep haunting him and I'm going to be at all of his court appearances. And I'm not going to shut up and I'm going to let him know and I'm going to let everybody know what he did until he's behind bars. And, you know, he's got to start selling off some of those Joker clothes that he wears because prison commissary is not cheap. He's going to need to have some money in his bank account to be able to pay for ramen noodles and crackers.
Good luck in jail, George.
PHILLIP: Thank you so much.
OSTHOFF: Thanks Abby.
And new tonight, CNN is learning that police had intelligence of possible violence ahead of last night's ceasefire protests in D.C. I'll speak with one of the groups that organized that protest, who disputes the police's account of what happened.
PHILLIP: It was the chaotic scene at the DNC that you saw unfold last night on this show. U.S. Capitol Police clashing with protesters calling for a Gaza ceasefire. Nearly a dozen lawmakers had to be evacuated from inside the building. And the night ended with six officers injured, according to Capitol Police, and one person, a protester, arrested for allegedly punching an officer.
Tonight, U.S. Capitol Police is defending its actions, calling out the group's protests for not being peaceful and for failing to obey orders to move back from the DNC building. But protesters are pushing back on those claims, saying it was the police who turned violent and who attacked them.
I want to bring in one of them, Eva Borgwardt, the National Spokesperson for the organization IfNotNow, which describes itself as a movement of American Jews pushing for equality. She was among those taking part in the protests last night. And Eva, thank you for joining us.
EVA BORGWARDT, NATIONAL SPOKESPERSON, IFNOTNOW: Thank you so much for having me.
PHILLIP: So, Eva, one of the reasons I wanted to speak with you is just so that you can explain to us the intention for last night. You've said and others have said it was a peaceful protest. But you and your organization released a statement earlier today saying that protesters had linked arms, right, as we saw there in front of the entrances. Was the objective to prevent lawmakers from being able to leave by blocking the entrances and exits, what were you trying to do there?
BORGWARDT: Well, Abby, thank you so much for the question. The objective of the protest was to call on Democratic lawmakers for a ceasefire and to say that the 1400 Israelis and 11,000 Palestinians who have been killed already in this horrific war are too many and we need a ceasefire now. And 80 percent of Democrats agree with that call, according to recent polling.
And unfortunately, Democratic lawmakers are not listening to their constituents. We're hearing reports of staffers receiving thousands of calls and ignoring them, despite those being constituents of the lawmaker.
So, last night, we were, we wanted our lawmakers to hear us and we're engaging in tactics of non-violent civil disobedience, what the late John Lewis has referred to as good trouble. And we were blocking several of the doors to the Democratic National Committee and the goal was to have one exit and entrance where members of Congress could walk in and out. And they could see us praying and chanting and singing and calling for a ceasefire.
BORGWARDT: And that people could engage with some of the lawmakers that they haven't been able to reach for the past month.
PHILLIP: So, I understand the objective of what you all are trying to raise attention to, but I think one of the issues here is the tactics. I think that's why we're seeing even among Democrats some people criticizing what happened last night. You know, Capitol Police, they do have a responsibility to protect lawmakers.
And when they see people barricading an entrance to a building where lawmakers are, including Democratic leaders, they have a job to do. So, was it the intention to engage with police that night as a form of non-violent protest and to not listen when they told people to move from the doors? Is that part of what you all were trying to do?
BORGWARDT: I mean, of course, it's so important for police officers to do their jobs and to protect lawmakers. And I would also say that it's the job of police officers to protect citizens and residents. And we know that 90 protesters were injured by the police response last night.
And so, we don't really understand why I've also been at dozens of civil disobedience protests this month using similar tactics that we saw last night, non-violently blocking the doors and you know, singing and chanting.
PHILLIP: I think maybe the difference is because these were actual members of Congress involved. I do want you to -- I want to just read one thing, just to, you can continue there, but just in response to -- I want you to respond to what the Capitol police is saying.
They're laying out this story of what happened. They said that protesters moved dumpsters in front of the exits. They pepper sprayed officers and attempted to pick up a bike rack. Do you think that Capitol police are not telling the truth there?
BORGWARDT: We have not seen evidence of protesters being violent toward police. Obviously, if there was any violence on the part of protesters, of course we condemn that. We have seen plenty of photo and video evidence of police escalating the situation and being violent toward protesters.
PHILLIP: Can you --
BORGWARDT: We have photos of police using pepper spray. We have a video of a police officer hitting another officer in the back with a metal bike rack which looked extremely painful, and that's why it's very important for the police to obey what I understand to be normal protocol, and speak with the police liaisons who were there to tell them, you know, why they're there.
PHILLIP: But can you say with certainty that no one you were protesting with used pepper spray, moved dumpsters, or did any of those things, picked up a bike rack. I take what you're saying about the videos, but can you say for certain that none of those things happened on your side?
BORGWARDT: I mean, I certainly did not see any of that last night, and I haven't seen any videos or any evidence of that happening today. If the police want to present evidence of violence used on the part of protesters, I mean, of course, all violence is abhorrent. And that's what we're asking that's why it's so important that Capitol Police not ignore the police liaisons that we're trying to engage with them and non-violently take, you know, through the civil suit.
PHILLIP: But on that point, I mean, you're talking about police liaisons, but if the police say move from the doorway and protesters don't move, I mean, what is supposed to happen there?
BORGWARDT: No, Abby, of course. And that was exactly what was confusing to me about last night.
PHILLIP: Well, I guess what I'm saying is like --
BORGWARDT: We didn't hear any warnings from police and they escalated faster than I have seen at any protest over the past month.
PHILLIP: But I watched the videos, too.
BORGWARDT: -- which varied with no warning.
PHILLIP: And police were saying, move. They were telling people to move. They were physically moving people. And there was a clear intention to block the doors. And I understand that's part of the protest.
But you're also saying that police should have worked with liaisons. I mean, they also just told people to move and they didn't move. And this protest probably could have gone on away from the doors and they probably would not have been bothered.
BORGWARDT: Well, again, appreciate you trying to clarify and get the story right because I'm really invested in that, too. I was watching that, I was there last night and watching that entire scene take place in front of the doors to the Democratic National Committee. I could not hear anything coming from police. Instead, I just saw them rush the protesters and immediately start shoving them.
And normally there's supposed to be a warning issue to everyone who's present. And all I witnessed was police instantly start shoving protesters down the stairs and then come into the street where I and others were, you know, 50 feet, 100 feet away from the door, nearly across the street, and start shoving protesters using their bicycles with no warning.
PHILLIP: Just out of curiosity, because the police are describing this as an illegal protest, was there a permit for this demonstration?
BORGWARDT: I believe that there was a permit for the vigil that took place at 6 P.M. And -- but this protest, again, was an act of civil disobedience. And so, engaging in things like, for example like blocking the doors to a building nonviolently, which has been used for decades in this country, including in the civil rights movement. And young activists were trying to do that to call for peace in the Middle East.
PHILLIP: I think, I mean, I think the issue here is when you're blocking the doors to a building where members of Congress are and you're being told to move, that's the question. I think a lot of the lawmakers, we have, you know, the Democratic leaders releasing a statement saying some protesters escalated their activity in a manner that exceeded a peaceful demonstration. What they're talking about is not the desire to protest outside of the DNC, but the action of preventing Capitol police from doing their jobs, which is to protect the lawmakers who are inside.
BORGWARDT: Absolutely. I mean, the Capitol police should protect the lawmakers and also the protesters which is why normal protocol --
PHILLIP: The Capitol police are -- the Capitol police -- their job is to protect the lawmakers and protect the Capitol. That's their job. And their job is also to allow protesters to protest peacefully, but it has to be done in a way that is actually peaceful. I think that's what they would argue.
BORGWARDT: Again, and I appreciate it. I think that what I'm trying to get across is that we, what it's important to remember is that this exact tactic of blocking the doors to a building, including with lawmakers inside, we had 300 people peacefully demonstrating in the Capitol Rotunda from the same groups right next to where lawmakers were working.
I mean, inside the Capitol building, and officers at that demonstration made the routine announcements to everyone, like to ask protesters to leave, worked with police liaisons, everything went smoothly in order that it wouldn't escalate, and they did not do that this time.
BORGWARDT: And that's why we are saying we don't understand what happened. And I organized for President Biden in Arizona, and I'm just calling on the party that I worked to elect to do what 80 percent of its voters are asking it to do and call for a ceasefire now. \
PHILLIP: I totally understand that. Thank you so much, Eva, for joining us and clarifying all of that. Thanks and have a good night.
BORGWARDT: Thank you, Abby. Take care. Appreciate you.
PHILLIP: And up next, CNN uncovers brutality on a scale beyond belief. In a country that few journalists are even allowed into. CNN's Nima Elbagir investigates what is happening right now in Sudan, speaking to the survivors next.
PHILLIP: A civil war between Sudan's military and a paramilitary group has been creating a catastrophic humanitarian crisis in the region. That is according to the United Nations. And it's been ongoing for nearly seven months now, with thousands killed.
In recent weeks, the paramilitary group RSF, known as Rapid Support Forces, has made a significant advance into the West Sudanese state of Darfur reportedly killing more than 700 people over the last several days.
CNN's Nima Elbagir and her team traveled to the neighboring country of Chad, where thousands have fled since the start of this war. They spoke with refugees there who described unimaginable depravity and horrific violence within the region. And I must warn you, what you are about to see from this report is disturbing.
NIMA ELBAGIR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): A scene all too familiar in West Darfur. Social media footage widely circulated last week, showing RSF soldiers and supporting militia rounding up men, harassing them, threatening them.
CNN has been able to geolocate these videos, placing them in Ardhamata, an outlying district of Al-Geneina, the capital of West Darfur where some of the worst atrocities during the recent war have taken place. Over the last year during the war in Sudan, the RSF have targeted members of African tribal groups, including the Masalit, who claim Darfur as their ancestral land.
Many of the RSF belong to tribes which, unlike the Masalit, claim Arab ancestry. What we are about to show you is very disturbing. These are the most recent images emerging from Darfur. What you are looking at is a mass grave, filled with over a dozen bodies. Some are alive, others clearly dead.
One man can be seen throwing earth on top of another, even though he is still alive. A man off camera can be heard shouting as someone appears from beneath a pile of dirt. He quickly buries his head back into the earth. We don't know the fate of these men. It's also unclear whether the men seen in the ditch are the same men as those in the video running from RSF soldiers and militia loyal to the RSF. But it does illustrate the newest, most horrific pattern of violence in the region.
Communication in Darfur has been deliberately choked by the RSF. It's been excruciatingly hard to understand exactly what's happening there. A few months ago, we travelled to a refugee camp in Adre, Chad, where survivors and eyewitnesses of these brutal attacks were able to cross the border.
One by one, brave survivors came forward wanting to share, to document what has happened to them, describing the horrors from the city of Al- Geneina, stories of rape and enslavement.
UNKNOWN (through translator): From within our family we lost more than 40 men. They said to my father, we're going to rape your daughter in front of you. The RSF said, leave these ones. We will find better ones to sell. These ones, let's rape them.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Textbook, ethnic cleansing. These are the hallmarks of genocide. CNN interviewed over a dozen survivors and eyewitnesses in Al-Geneina where civilians were targeted and where women were being sold from slave houses.
UNKNOWN (through translator): There were RSF soldiers outside and they beat me until they forced me into the building. Inside I saw nine or ten girls, some without clothes. They told us they will sell us very cheaply. They said, we kill all the men, we will not leave any black skin here. You have to leave, get out. They said they will be the only ones to sleep with us because if we have our own children, our sons will one day take revenge.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): She managed to escape but was recaptured and brought to a different location where she was repeatedly raped. But it's not just women being affected. Mahdi, who's only 16, was kidnapped by the RSF with his brother and forced to work at a farm.
MAHDI (through translator): We were eight people. We were all tied up. They would come and say, I want the strong boys. Someone came over and started to feel my arms. I was tied up and blindfolded.
ELBAGIR (through translator): You can't see them but you can fell them?
MAHDI (through translator): I couldn't see a thing. I could just feel him hitting me here. Then I heard them say, "I'll buy him of you. I'll give you money."
ELBAGIR (voice-over): The word slave in Arabic is a racial slur, equivalent to the N-word, so we're bleeping it out in his testimony.
MAHDI (through translator): They said this is a (BEEP). They hit me and said (BEEP).
ELBAGIR (through translator): They called you (BEEP).
MAHDI (through translator): Yes. They beat me and said, where did you get this (BEEP)? The kept hitting me.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Mahdi doesn't know how much they bought him for, but he was eventually taken to another location where he was forced to work. He says his brother taken at the same time was killed by the RSF.
Survivor after survivor told CNN how the RSF spoke of wiping out the African descendant Masalit. It's Masalit, ancestral land in Darfur, that the RSF are currently occupying. Part of a fertile landmass that the commander of the RSF has been strategically looking to secure for the last 20 years, changing the demographics from African to Arab. Nima Elbagir, CNN, London.
PHILLIP: You can read more of Nima's incredible reporting on the crisis in Sudan at cnn.com right now or watch the whole story, "Going Home: The War in Sudan" this Sunday on CNN. And up next, Sean Combs, the rap mogul known as Diddy, facing horrifying allegations of rape and abuse from his former girlfriend, singer Cassie Ventura. The details when we come back.
PHILLIP: Tonight, bombshell allegations against one of the biggest names in music, Diddy. His former girlfriend, singer and songwriter Cassie alleges that he raped her and subjected her to years of physical and other abuse. And CNN's Jean Casarez joins me now. Jean, there's so much here in these allegations. What should we know?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: His authority five-page civil complaint federal court in the southern district of New York and these allegations are extremely serious. And this is brought about because of the Adult Survivors Act which allows cases involving sexual assault in this window to be brought no matter what the statute of limitations was on them.
But in this case, what Cassie Ventura is alleging is a cycle of violence, that there was abuse, that there was cruelty, that there was actually sexual abuse, rape, sex trafficking in New York and California, and sexual battery.
She says that employees of Sean Diddy Combs would watch or they would have knowledge of what was happening, that she was so bruised that she would be kicked and punched to the ground, blood everywhere, and they wouldn't say anything out of loyalty. She also says in regard to the sex trafficking that Sean Diddy Combs
himself recorded it on his electronic devices and told her he was going to keep them. She also says that the head of security saw how bloody she was at one point and together they cried but he did nothing about it.
At one time she says she went home to her mother in Connecticut. Her mother took pictures of her bruises. She talks about a hotel in Los Angeles and she had been with him in a room and she was so bruised and she left. But then she decided she needed to come back and apologize to him.
The hotel wouldn't let her back in their facility saying you just leave. You go home. She says the age difference had to do with why this all happened. She was 20 -- she was 19 when they met. He was 37. She also says that his empire, his status, allowed this to happen.
Now, there are two sides to every story and this is the response we got from Ben Broffman, the attorney for Sean "Diddy" Combs. He said 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 the relationship which was unequivocally rejected as blatant blackmail.
Despite withdrawing her initial threat, Ms. Ventura has now resorted to filing a lawsuit riddled with baseless and outrageous lies, aiming to tarnish Mr. Combs' reputation and seeking a payday. So, the next step in all of this, an answer will be filed by the defendant, Mr. Combs. We'll see how they answer this complaint and this will proceed in the Southern District of New York.
PHILLIP: Yeah, an incredibly significant and troubling story. Jean Casarez, thank you. T
CASAREZ: Thank you.
PHILLIP: And we'll be back in a moment.