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Ivanka Trump On Stand At Father's Civil Fraud Trial; Tonight: 5 GOP Hopefuls Debate Without Trump; Blinken: "Clear That Israel Cannot Occupy Gaza."; Humanitarian Orgs: 1,000 Plus Children Believed Buried In Gaza Rubble. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 08, 2023 - 15:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Ivanka Trump takes the stand. The former president's daughter is testifying as a witness in his civil fraud trial. What she just said about her dad's financial statements with the future of his businesses on the line.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: The stage is set in Miami. Five Republican candidates will debate tonight trying again to loosen former President Trump's firm grip on the GOP but the current frontrunner and former president has other plans tonight. He's running counter-programming just a few miles down the road.

And Israel's offensive intensifies. The Defense Minister says IDF troops at - are at the heart of Gaza City as civilians continue to flee the fighting.

We're following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

BROWN: This is video from moments of terror ago, Ivanka Trump returning to a New York courtroom to continue testifying in the Trump Organization civil fraud trial. The New York Attorney General's office has just ended its questioning of Ivanka and she is now being cross- examined by an attorney for Donald Trump. We should note that she is not a defendant in the case but her father two elder brothers and their company are.

With us now a CNN Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent, Paula Reid.

So what does Ivanka Trump's testimony revealed so far, Paula?

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, this has been a lot more civilized and calm than what we saw certainly with her father on Friday and even her brothers' last week. The questioning has been pretty technical. It's focused on her time at The Trump Organization. Of course, she left the family business in 2017 to go to the White House but they've been focused on certain deals that she worked on while she was still there. For example, their project down in Florida the Doral resort and spa. There was one notable exchange where they talked about her work to negotiate the terms of a loan, the financing for that project. And the bank said that in order to get these favorable terms for a high net worth individual that Trump would need to maintain a personal net worth of three billion dollars but it's interesting because they presented an email that showed that she actually suggested lowering that threshold to two billion dollars.

But at this time in 2011, the former president's financial statement said his net worth was over four billion dollars.

BROWN: Yes. So these exchanges, again, they're technical but they really speak to the heart of the case. This concern that maybe Trump wasn't being honest and accurate about his net worth. They also asked her about an apartment she had in one of her father's buildings. It had a purchase option to buy it for $8.5 million. But on Trump's financial statements, that same apartment was valued at 20.8 million dollars.

So again a lot of questions coming out of this testimony most recently before the state wrapped up they asked her about the old post office here in Washington, D.C. This is something that she and her father worked on for a long time. They consider it a big success but the state revealed emails that show the government had a lot of questions about the financial statements that they submitted once.

Again though as she did in her deposition, she just tried to put some room between her and any efforts to really value or estimate Trump's net worth. Now, again, the state has wrapped up. Now her lawyers - her father's lawyers rather are cross-examining her. This testimony is expected to wrap up today.

BROWN: All right. We're keeping an eye on all of it.

Paula Reid, thank you so much.

I want to talk more about this with former U.S attorney Michael Moore.

I just want to hear from you first off the bat here Michael what has stood out to you today during Ivanka's testimony.

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I'm glad to be with you this afternoon.

I really think that she did try to put some distance between herself and some of the decision making on how to reach these values. She talked about folks she had talked to she explained that she has not been intimately involved in the preparation of financial statements. She seemed to not recall some information. But she did pretty much what was expected and it was a totally different tone than we saw from the former president.

She simply said, look, some of this I know, some of this I talked to with people about. But she did have some air, I guess, between herself and her father as it related to the value. Some of the things that I think were hyper technical. It may not be a great consequence. [15:05:00]

I don't know how the court will view for instance having a purchase option for a child listed at a reduced rate that may be an appraised value of property. But those will be things that we'll see how the judge deals with that going forward.

BROWN: What do you think um about the cross-examining of Ivanka today, right? Because she's being cross-examined as a witness, but as we know Don Jr., Eric and former President Trump, they weren't cross-examined.

MOORE: I think that cross-examination can be a great tool and it allows lawyers who have specific questions and more focused answers to only ask the questions they already know the answer to. So my guess is that in the cross-examination it's an effort to solicit testimony that is, of a particular nature or has some particular fact that the lawyers want to get before the court. So that doesn't surprise me a great deal especially given her status now as a non-defendant in this case.

BROWN: We know that the defense's attorney, Donald Trump's attorney will - is questioning Ivanka now after the prosecution did its part. The prosecution is expected to rest after Ivanka's turn on the stand and the defense will take up their case as we point out. Do you see any obvious holes Trump's lawyers can poke in the prosecution's case next week?

I think the entire case for the former president has been about - in his lawyers rather - really making arguments, preserve the record so they can move forward on appeal. I think they felt like - and frankly I think the way the court set the case up given the ruling on the motion prior to trial that was essentially dispositive on much of the issues in the case.

I think this is an - a case they felt like they had no chance of winning or providing on in any detail before this judge but rather they're trying to make a record they can move up to an appellate court.

So I think you'll see that continued as they go forward with their case. They'll try to poke holes there. I expect you'll hear some people come forward about valuations, how the court had that wrong. They'll try, I'm sure, play up the disparity in the valuations between - on the Florida properties between the state experts and folks who are there on the ground in Florida. And maybe you might see some folks come up from local assessor's offices, things like that.

But I - this is not a case if they think that they're going to put something on that they're going to win next week in front of this judge, that's not going to happen. There's not a silver bullet. Right now, I think, probably for the lawyers - this is a case about how do we make a record for an appeal, how do we preserve those issues that we need to move forward to an appellate court and how do we show in fact that the court made some errors in that initial motion.

Whether they're successful, we'll see. But I've never thought this trial was strictly about - at least for the former president - was strictly about the value of this company or the moneys that he is alleged to have - values he's alleged to have increased.

I've really felt like this was more of a chance in a non-criminal setting, remember that's important. This is a civil case in a non- criminal setting for him to make some hay with his voters and almost use this like a campaign appearance and you've seen that time after time as he's left the courtroom, as he's fought with the judge on the stand knowing full well those back and forth will be reported in the media.

He's used this as a way to get a message to his followers about how mistreated he is. He has a much freer rein right now and a little less jeopardy than he may have in a criminal case and those are also stacked up against him throughout the next year. So this for him has given him a forum, it's given him the soapbox so to speak while at the same time his lawyers are trying to do what they can to make sure that the appeals court has the information they need to at least delay and consider at some length and delay an opinion, I'm sure, well past the primary and possibly the general election.

BROWN: All right. Michael Moore, thanks for offering up your perspective and analysis. Boris?

SANCHEZ: Back in the nation's Capitol, some top Republicans are reeling after yesterday's elections. One senator calling them a complete failure for the GOP, potentially compounding their headache the federal government is set to run out of money in nine days setting up yet another scramble to avoid a shutdown.

Meantime in Miami, five Republican presidential candidates are preparing to get asked about all of that, the third Republican primary debate is just a few hours away. And for the third time, the clear leader in that race by head and shoulders, Donald Trump, will not be on the stage.

Let's discuss all the angles with CNN Steve Contorno who's live for us in Miami and Manu Raju who's on Capitol Hill for us.

Steve, what are you hearing about the candidate's strategies and their expectations for tonight?


STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Boris, there's no question that these candidates have been sharpening their attacks going into this debate tonight. And we have seen them signal that they are ready to challenge each other tonight on the stage far more than they have in previous debates. That is especially the case between Gov. Ron DeSantis and former governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley.

These two have been essentially on a collision course for weeks now. Haley has seen her stature rise in the polls. She has a bit of momentum at her back. Gov. DeSantis, though, has been struggling to maintain his support and hold on to that advantage as the number two in this race. So I expect to see those two really go at it tonight. And then Tim Scott has been saying that he wants to get in it a little bit more. He is someone who is known for having a nice demeanor. Well, he has been saying he's going to take the gloves off tonight and really go after DeSantis and Haley and try to claw himself back - his way back into this race. Of course, we've heard that from him before and that hasn't materialized yet in previous debates, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes. We'll see if he potentially breaks through. No doubt, Steve, they're going to be asked about abortion. Talk to us about the other issues that could define the night.

CONTORNO: Well certainly the war that's going on between Israel and Hamas right now is an issue that is driving a lot of conversation in the Republican race right now. I think you'll also see them try to make a case for why last night's results happened, why they were so bad, why they should be blamed on the former president and why they are the best candidates to potentially lead the party going forward and give them the best chance to not only win in 2024 but potentially carry some of these down ballot races.

And Republicans have struggled with last night, can someone other than Donald Trump, be the nominee and help people win their Senate races, their house races, their local city council races. So I think they're going to be trying to make the case that they are the future of the party. They are someone that can take the mantle from the GOP, take it away from Donald Trump and give the Republicans a chance in 2024 not just for the White House before the chance to win back the Senate as well.

SANCHEZ: Manu, on Steve's point about a lackluster performance by Republicans last night, you were hearing from key lawmakers on Capitol Hill who are frustrated.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes and uncertain about how to proceed. In fact, there is still a debate - division within the Republican Party about how exactly to deal with some of these key social issues, namely abortion in the aftermath of last night's losses, in the aftermath of under performance in last year's midterm elections and how to deal with that in the months and days ahead, whether to change their messaging and whether to avoid this topic altogether.

And some of them flatly concerned about the underperformance among suburban voters who, of course, will be key again in 2024.


SEN. THOM TILLIS (R-NC): These were races that Democrats didn't win or Republicans lost. We didn't show up. We've got to do a better job. Yesterday to me was complete failure.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): When we're talking about people's lives, we win. When we're talking about some social issues, they could become highly divisive and we end up not doing as well as we could have.

SEN. JOHN THUNE (R-SD): We have to have a compelling message that appeals to the suburban voters, no question about that.


RAJU: And some members actually asked, calling for federal action on abortion to force Republicans to talk about a federal legislation. That's what JD Vance who comes from the state of Ohio, the senator from that state after seeing voters there are constitutionalized abortion race - abortion rights saying that Congress should act and approve a 15-week abortion ban so that Republicans should rally behind that idea in order to have something to run on, something to campaign on.

But talking to a number of Republican senators, they are simply not unified on that question. Many discrepancies on how Republicans would respond on the issues such as abortion like - or whether they actually vote for something like that.

So it just shows you the debate that is ongoing within the GOP about how to proceed amid another lackluster performance at the polls, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Notably that 15-week time frame didn't really motivate or at least it didn't appear to motivate voters toward Republicans in Virginia last night.

Manu, the government is shutting down in nine days unless Congress acts. But Speaker Mike Johnson hasn't really elaborated on his plans. Where do things stand right now? Has there been any progress?

RAJU: There hasn't been. In fact, there's still uncertainty about how the new speaker will proceed here. We do expect him to lay out his plans over the next day or so about how to avoid a government shutdown, but he needs to get it through the House, he needs to get agreement from Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans and get it to the White House and it's uncertain whether they can get there.

I just spoke to the House Democratic Leader, Hakeem Jeffries, about this. He said that Republicans tried to advance a short-term spending bill that includes spending cuts or other provisions. They simply will not accept it. He said that they will not accept a "ransom note."


He said it must be a clean stopgap measure, meaning to extend current funding levels for a short period of time. But a number of Republicans want to impose spending cuts. But that is a nonstarter with Democrats.

So what Mike Johnson decides to do here? If he decides to move forward with a Republican-only plan that could prompt a fight with Democrats, potentially that could lead to another government shutdown fight sometime next week. But if he decides to go with the way the Democrats want that can open him up to criticism from the right flank. The same right flank that pushed out Speaker McCarthy when he did the same thing just almost 45 days ago at this point.

So just a lot of questions about whether they can avoid another shutdown or whether or not there will be another shutdown fear as we head into the deadline of by midnight next Friday, Boris?

SANCHEZ: And the clock keeps ticking away.

Manu Raju, Steve Contorno, thank you both so much.

Coming up, Israel says that Gaza City has been encircled. Its forces now targeting Hamas infrastructure and commanders there. What that means for civilians who are still in the enclave.

And later, why the Justice Department is opening a civil rights investigation into a Mississippi police department. Details on that just moments away.



SANCHEZ: The Israeli military now saying it's destroyed 230 Hamas tunnel shafts in Gaza since the start of its war one month ago. It also says 239 hostages are still being held by the terror group. Right now, Israel continues to mount an aggressive ground offensive in Gaza despite growing calls for a humanitarian pause.

At the G7 meeting in Tokyo today, Secretary of State Antony Blinken reiterated a U.S. objection to an immediate ceasefire but he also reinforced the Biden administration's position that Israel should not reoccupy Gaza.

Let's take you now live to Tel Aviv with CNN's Jeremy Diamond.

Jeremy, thousands of Palestinians are now arriving in southern Gaza after fleeing the North through an evacuation corridor. Bring us up to speed on that process.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's right, Boris. Thousands of Palestinians have been able to flee during - over using these evacuation corridors established by the Israeli military over the last several days. They've been given four to five hour windows of time to be able to escape northern Gaza where the heaviest fighting and bombing by the Israeli military is taking place and heading south.

But of course we know that this is coming only weeks after Israel has been relentlessly bombing that part of Gaza and we know that Israel is continuing to bomb parts of southern Gaza as well. There are growing calls for a humanitarian pause or a ceasefire as the humanitarian situation in Gaza grows worse. Hospitals are running out of fuel to conduct their operations and also there are medical supplies that are running out at some of these hospitals.

But the Israeli military is carrying forward with its military operation and its stated desire to destroy Hamas. Israeli forces have encircled Gaza City and today Israel's defense minister now saying that his forces are operating inside in the heart of Gaza City. It is very difficult for us to confirm exactly where in Gaza City that is given our limited vantage point. But it is clear that Hamas forces are increasingly engaging in the kind of dense and very dangerous business of urban combat in some of Gaza's most densely populated areas. The Israeli military says that they have struck over 14,000 targets over the last month and they are now saying today that they have destroyed 130 tunnel shafts.

But it's very clear to me in my conversations with Israeli officials that they know that many, many more tunnels remains. There are dozens of miles of tunnels beneath Gaza that Hamas fighters use to evade but also to ambush those Israeli forces that are advancing.

And I also today, Boris, spoke with a senior Israeli official who told me that the current tempo of fighting is expected to continue for weeks if not months force, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Jeremy Diamond, live from Tel Aviv thanks for the update. Pam?

BROWN: All right. Boris, thanks so much.

Joining us now is CNN National Security Analyst Beth Sanner the former deputy director of National Intelligence. So look, there's still so many unknowns, right, so many what-ifs. But now you have Netanyahu's saying after the war Israel would have responsibility for security in Gaza for an indefinite period. Of course that is assuming it's able to accomplish what it says it's going to accomplish and that is to overthrow Hamas.

Secretary of State Blinken is saying Israel cannot occupy Gaza but there may be a need for some transition period at the end of the conflict. What does that look like realistically?

BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that's the big problem is that no one really knows what this will look like and it's hard to formulate a plan. CIA Director Burns was in Egypt just today and trying to work out a plan for Egypt to be part of a peacekeeping - peace whatever force inside Gaza and el-Sisi not surprising at all to me completely rejected that and there is just no way in my view.

I mean, we have to try. But the Egyptians are not going to play that role so the question is who can and who will the Palestinian Authority won't be ready. And so this is the conundrum, it's so complicated, it's been so complicated and the answers are not obvious.

BROWN: And the security presence that Netanyahu is putting out there, does that mean Israel rebuilds the buildings and infrastructure damage during this ground offensive? Does Israel set of conditions for elections in Gaza since Hamas is currently the ruling authority? I mean so many questions around that.

SANNER: Exactly, so the Arab leaders say, we can't talk at all about reconstruction yet, like that is so far in the future, we need to talk about a humanitarian pause right now. We need to talk about what to do Palestinian civilians.

[15:25:01] And I will just say, I don't think we want to hold elections in Gaza right now if we didn't want Hamas to win.

BROWN: Right.

SANNER: Because, I mean, honestly that's where we are. Trauma ...

BROWN: I think that's an important point.

SANNER: ... traumatized people.

BROWN: Yes, traumatized people. And then, of course, the big looming question is, can you really eradicate Hamas from Gaza, right? I mean, much of Hamas' political leadership is in Qatar, not Gaza. There's Hamas operatives in the U.S.

I mean, is that even a feasible goal here? I mean, we've seen what happened when the U.S. tried to eradicate al-Qaeda and ISIS, right? You can't just wipe them off the map.

SANNER: You can't. There's no way to do that. And my big concern is that all these efforts by Israel is actually making Hamas more popular. That's what I was alluding to with having elections now. It's actually - there was an interview with Hezbollah's deputy today. And in that interview, he said, this has been a big victory for Hamas, because they are garnering all of this support from Palestinians and from the wider Arab world.

And I don't - some of that's bluster, but I think that right now a lot of that is true. And it's heartbreaking when you look at both sides of this picture. But on the other hand, right now in parts of the Arab world, the American flag and the Israeli flag are being burned together. And this is the other dilemma here for us, is that our rhetoric of saying these things, we're pushing out a different rhetoric now and we're talking much more about protecting civilians, but where's the beef? Where is the actual improvement on the ground?

BROWN: Right.

SANNER: No one in the Arab world was seeing that.

BROWN: Right. And you have to go back to October 7th, remember how this all started, right, with the Hamas attack on Israel. But also fast forward several weeks and all the civilians that have died, right, in Gaza. Is that why it seems as though Hamas could be getting more support because of all the civilian deaths that we've seen in Gaza?

SANNER: Because of all the civilian deaths and also because Iran and Hamas and other parts of the Arab world and now Russia and China are - were very prepared in pushing out - I mean, you don't have to have disinformation, really, but there's been so much disinformation that has amplified the situation.

They were ready on that public relations front, Israel was not. And so that has amplified the feelings that were already there. BROWN: Is this basically what Hamas wanted from Israel for this reaction to - for Israel's reaction to the attack on October 7th to garner this kind of support?

SANNER: Yes. That's what a terrorist group does. It doesn't matter the cost and the more outrageous the act it actually turns around in their favor. I mean, I said on Saturday with Jake Tapper and the evening after this all started that Hamas' plan was to use those hostages to draw the Israeli forces in and to create all of this very, very forceful and violent response.

And - I mean, it would have been enough to kill 1,400 people, but those hostages also just complicates things. But I think the whole plan has been to have this overwhelming force by Israel that that they can then look like the victims.

BROWN: Beth Sanner, really interesting to hear your analysis as we are more than a month in, thanks so much.

SANNER: Thank you, Pamela.

BROWN: Well, tensions are boiling over within the Democratic Party over this war. We're going to explain next.