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Secret Service Open Fire on Suspect; Gaza's Health System Crumbling; Dr. Margaret Harris is Interviewed about the Health System in Gaza; Trump Jr. Back on the Stand. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 13, 2023 - 09:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL. And we do begin with breaking news this hour.

At least three suspects are at large after Secret Service agents opened fire on suspects that they say were breaking into an unmarked government vehicle. This happened late last night.

Let's get straight over to the White House. Priscilla Alvarez is standing by for us with more.

And, Priscilla, you're picking up some more details about what is actually happening here. Tell us.

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: That's right. This is a detail for Naomi Biden. It was an agent that was involved in this incident. Now, according to - that according to a source familiar.

Now, in this statement from the Secret Service they said the following, "on November 12th, around 11:58 p.m., in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C., Secret Service agents encountered possibly three individuals breaking a window on a parked and unoccupied government vehicle." This statement goes on to say, "during this encounter, a federal agent discharged a service weapon, and it is believed no one was struck." Again, according to a source familiar, this was an agent involved with Naomi Biden, the president's granddaughter's detail.

Now they, in addition, note that the suspects fled in a red vehicle, and there is a regional lookout that has been issued. That is all the details that we have right now, but it appears, again, that this happened in the late hours of Sunday, and we're learning details by the minute.

BOLDUAN: And, again, Priscilla, was Naomi Biden in the vicinity when this was happening? I mean this is - this - I mean if they -- with them opening fire, this is very serious.

ALVAREZ: Well, this is something that we are waiting to get more details on from Secret Service. Just based on this statement, it went on to say that there was no threat to any protectees, and the incident is being investigated by the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and the Secret Service. So, it appears from the statement that there was no threat, again, to the protectees, but we'll learn more in the hours to come.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Thank you, Priscilla, so much for jumping on for us. We're going to continue following this breaking news and bring you any more that we get when it comes in.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, we'll watch that very carefully all morning long.

Also this morning, a standoff at Gaza's busiest hospital. This is the al Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza, right here. A hospital official tells CNN that all operating rooms are out of service, and that with oxygen levels running low, no neonatal units are now working. They've all been shut down.

The Israel Defense Forces say it attempted to deliver fuel to the hospital overnight. You can see this video of them delivering the fuel, they say. Israel also says that Hamas terrorists are using the hospital to hide a terror tunnel complex underneath. The hospital director says the staff there were too afraid to leave to retrieve this fuel that you're seeing the IDF put down right now.

There is other video, this obtained by Reuters, which shows this. It shows babies taken out of incubators, placed into beds. Doctors say the only way to keep the infants warm and alive is to wrap them in foil and place them next to bowls of hot water.

For its part, Israel says now the 239 people are still being held hostage inside Gaza, including a three-year-old American citizen. The White House says the toddler was taken on October 7th after his parents were killed by Hamas.

CNN's Nada Bashir is in Jerusalem with the very latest.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, John, the situation at the al Shifa Hospital, Gaza's largest hospital, has been deteriorating for some time now. But we have heard today from the hospital's director describing the situation as catastrophic. And as you mentioned there, the operating rooms are completely out of service. As we know, the neonatal unit has faced difficulties in such that there is no oxygen available for premature newborn babies there.

And, of course, as we know it, we're not just talking about patients and medical staff at the al Shifa Hospital, which total around 1,500 according to officials there, but also thousands of civilians you have flocked to the al Shifa Hospital, and like other hospitals across Gaza, in search of sanctuary.

Now, we heard yesterday from the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, telling CNN that there is no reason why people - why civilians at the al Shifa Hospital should not be able to evacuate. We know that the IDF says it has established evacuation routes on the eastern side of the hospital.


But as we have heard from medial officials on the ground, from doctors -- from Doctors Without Borders, they have described the bombardment on the vicinity of the al Shifa Hospital as being near constant. And we have also heard reports from medical staff on the ground that any civilians attempting to move between the different buildings on the hospital complex have faced live fire.

Now, of course, the IDF has denied targeting civilians on the complex, though they have acknowledged that there is ongoing ground fighting between the IDF and Hamas at the vicinity.

And, of course, the ongoing fighting there is a huge concern. We have heard appeals from hospital staff for the International Committee of the Red Cross, for other aid groups to be able to be allowed access to facilitate safe evacuations. That clearly is not the case. The Committee for the Red Cross saying that they haven't seen these evacuations being possible so far.

But, of course, the situation in the hospital is also deteriorating by the hour. As you mentioned, we did see those reports yesterday, video from the IDF, showing the IDF deploying - distributing, rather, some fuel. Some 300 liters of fuel to the entrance of the al Shifa Hospital according to the IDF.

We have again heard from hospital officials at al Shifa. They say this fuel, important to know, would only really power generators at the hospital for about 30 minutes, that's 300 liters. They are asking for 600 liters for each hour in order to power the hospital. So, that certainly wouldn't be enough for the dire situation that the hospital is facing now. And as you mentioned, hospital staff have been too afraid to go outside and get that fuel. The IDF claims Hamas has prevented them. But as we've heard from the hospital's director, who has said that this hospital is now surrounded, completely besieged by tanks on the ground, by ongoing fighting, many are too afraid to leave the hospital.

And, of course, when it comes to that evacuation route, we know that there have been windows established for civilians to make that move from northern Gaza to south, including those stranded at the hospital. But we have heard the warnings from the U.N.'s own humanitarian chief that there is nowhere safe for civilians in Gaza. That while we are seeing civilians moving southward, including video emerging in fact today of a grandmother attempting to make that evacuation route with a newborn baby, just six hours old according to journalists on the ground.

There are many people who cannot evacuate, either because they are elderly, disabled, because they cannot leave the medical care that they are receiving in these hospitals in northern Gaza. And, of course, the roads are heavily damaged. So, that is a huge point of concern.


BERMAN: All right, Nada Bashir for us in Jerusalem. Nada, thank you so much for that report.


BOLDUAN: The World Health Organization has issued a statement about al Shifa Hospital on Sunday saying it has, quote, "grave concerns for the safety of the health workers, hundreds of sick and injured patients, including babies on life support and displaced people who remain inside the hospital."

Joining us now for more on this is Dr. Margaret Harris. She's a spokesperson for the World Health Organization.

Dr. Harris, thank you for joining me.


BOLDUAN: The director general of the World Health Organization said in a statement on Sunday regrettably the hospital is not functioning as a hospital anymore, which is a scary statement. What is it functioning as then?

HARRIS: It's just trying to keep things together. It still has up to 600 healthcare workers in there, and they are looking after hundreds of patients who, as your correspondent so graphically described, cannot be moved. And the babies aren't on life support anymore. Their life support stopped because the electricity stopped. And -- the reason the things the babies need to survive is, indeed, warmth, because they're premature, they can't regulate their own body temperatures, but they also need oxygen because their lungs are immature. They don't breathe normally like a normal baby does.

So, there is so little time, and so much need. And it -- we want to make it clear to the world, hospitals should be safe havens, but they're being transformed in Gaza into scenes of death, devastation, and despair.

BOLDUAN: And, the -- you know, in the -- another -- an additional complicating factor in all of this is that Israel, as well as U.S. intelligence, as Israel maintains that Hamas has positioned its headquarters underneath al Shifa, underneath other hospitals which is complicating all of it.

On the need of -- for fuel at al Shifa and beyond, which gets to this issue of trying to protect and keep these especially newborns and other severely ill patients alive, Israeli officials from Benjamin Netanyahu to his senior advisor, they say that Israel had offered fuel and that the IDF left fuel near the hospital. I want to play for you what Mark Regev told CNN last night.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: We've already brought fuel to the hospital to make sure they've got enough fuel to run their generators so - so they can -- the hospital can continue to function.


But I have to tell you, Hamas has refused the hospital staff to take the fuel that the IDF left for them. So, we are, we're making a maximum effort to protect the hospitals, and that's why we allowed fuel to go to the Shifa Hospital.


BOLDUAN: But the hospital director, as our correspondent was talking about, told CNN that the staff was too scared to go get it. CNN doesn't have clarity on some of the aspects of this. What are you hearing about this? Do you - do you -- does the World Health Organization have visibility into this?

HARRIS: We are hearing the same thing as your correspondent reported, that the staff, they can hardly move in the corridors for fear of being shot. They aren't able to bury the bodies in the courtyard. They even describe things like dogs arriving and eating the bodies because they cannot go out into the car park to bury the bodies for fear of being shot.

The fuel - and, of course, welcome, was, unfortunately, only enough to keep the generators going for half an hour. There had been talk of much bigger amounts being provided. What we need is the end of the blockade all together. But really the only way we'll even get the supplies that the hospitals need, the full supplies, is a cessation of hostilities, is for both sides to stop fighting, release the hostages, and let's all be humans again.

BOLDUAN: Unless and until that happens, this war continues.

Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday that he's - he's pushing for more field hospitals to be built to help alleviate the strain on the hospitals in northern Gaza specifically. Last week we saw an announcement from Italy that it was sending a Navy hospital ship to the Gaza coast to help. Does the World Health Organization see these aspects as a solution or a way to help alleviate the suffering of civilians during this war?

HARRIS: So, there are hospitals, as I said, they function, they provide health care, except they're not being permitted to right now because they're not being permitted to have fuel, they're not being permitted to have food, their staff are not safe because they're being shot at. So, any of these other things, ultimately once the hostilities stop, it will be useful to have a surge in of aid and assistance. But the only thing that's going to save the people in the hospitals right now is the end of the hostilities, a cease-fire.

Now, this is a man-made crisis. This is not an earthquake. This is not a fire. This is not a flood. This is made by humans for humans. So, we can solve it as humans by stopping the hostility. This should be easy, not difficult.

BOLDUAN: It seems nothing easy about what we're seeing coming out since October 7th, that's for sure.

Dr. Margaret Harris, thank you for coming in.

HARRIS: thank you.


FREDRIKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right, there are extensive concerns throughout the entire region. New developments now this morning out of eastern Syria, where U.S. forces have carried out another set of strikes. The targets are grouped -- are affiliated with Iran's Revolutionary Guard forces. It is the third time in three weeks the U.S. launched strikes in the region.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is at the Pentagon for us.

Natasha, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin confirmed the strikes. What is he saying?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Fred, so he called these precision strikes and he said that it was intended to send a message to these Iranian groups that the U.S. is going to take all necessary measures to protect U.S. forces.

Now, as you said, it is the third strike that the U.S. military has carried out in just three weeks against Iran and these Iran-backed groups and their facilities in eastern Syria. The strike last night targeted a training facility, as well as a safe house, according to the Pentagon, that U.S. officials believe was being used by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its Iranian proxies.

Now, it's important to note that this all comes in response to more than 46 attacks that these Iranian proxy groups have launched on U.S. and coalition military bases in Iraq and Syria since October 17th. Just a really dramatic spike in the number of these attacks, many of which have caused several injuries among U.S. personnel, including more than two dozen cases of traumatic brain injury. In total, about 56 U.S. troops have been injured as a result of these attacks.

So, these air strikes that the U.S. is carrying out in Syria, they're meant as a deterrent, and they're also meant to try to degrade the infrastructure and the weapons capability that these groups have to carry out these attacks. But it is worth noting that so far these Iranian proxy groups have not been deterred. The U.S. has carried out a number of these strikes in recent weeks and the attacks have kept coming.


And so the question now for the administration is whether this approach is sustainable, and whether it is actually going to deter these groups from attacking again in the future.


WHITFIELD: All right, Natasha Bertrand, thank you so much.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, Donald Trump Jr. back on the stand today. Why the defense team is calling him as their first witness.

Plus, House Republicans staring down another government shutdown. The new House speaker is trying what seems to be an entirely new approach that involves two steps. When one step has been hard enough in the past to avoid a government shutdown, how is this one going to work out?

And the FBI seized his phones and his iPad. Why federal investigators are looking into New York City's mayor.

We'll be back.



BOLDUAN: Any moment now Donald Trump Jr. will be back on the stand. The defense team calling Trump's oldest son and co-defendant as their first witness. This in the $250 million civil fraud trial being brought by the state of New York against his family's business.

CNN's Kara Scannell is outside the courthouse. She's joining us now.

Kara, what is expected to happen today?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kate, so Don Jr. arrived just a few moments ago where he will be the first witness for the Trump's defense. And they're defending against allegations that they made fraudulent financial statements by inflating the value of assets. These are the properties that they own. And then giving those financial statements to banks and insurers to get better rates and terms.

So, he'll be the first one up. He already testified for the state. And the difference here is that as a defense witness they will be able to shape the narrative. They will be able to ask him the questions that they want, and he will have a lot more leeway in the answers that he gives.

Now, he had previously testified that he had nothing to do with the financial statements. He was not involved in their preparation. And then he said he signed off on them only after he was consulting with accountants and lawyers, so distancing himself from them.

But they -- today he will have more of an opportunity to lay out the defense, which is that they didn't intend to defraud anyone and that the banks were not victims, that they were not harmed in this, and that many of them continued to do business with them. So, he'll be the first of the witnesses. His testimony is expected to

go all day. It could carry over into tomorrow because the state will have a chance to cross-examine him as well. And then Trump's team is expected to call a number of expert witnesses. These are people who will testify about how the real estate industry works, valuing properties. And then they eventually will call some banks. We expect their defense to continue for several weeks.


BOLDUAN: All right, thanks so much, Kara. We'll see how it plays out today.


WHITFIELD: All right, Kate, with us now is CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

Good to see you, Elie.

OK, so, Don Jr., this will be the second time on the witness stands. The first time, you know, the AG called him. Two weeks ago he said I signed off on a document that our accountants prepared with intimate knowledge, and as a trustee I have an obligation to listen to those who are experts, who have an expertise of these things.

So, that was his statement then.


WHITFIELD: Is this likely to be an opportunity to add to that, or at the same time run the risk of potentially undermining his preface testimony?

HONIG: So, I think both of those things are happening, Fred. And, no, our viewers, you're not seeing double. He is back. This is the same Donald Trump Jr. who testified a couple weeks ago. The difference, as Kara said, is, now he's being called by his own lawyers, by his own defense team. So, they will have broader latitude to question him. And I think that quote sort of isolates what one of the key defenses will be, and has been, which is, look, I'm running this organization at a very high level, as executive vice president, and I'm relying on our accountants to do what accountants do.

But here's the problem with that defense, the weakness with that defense is, is the defendants in this civil case are the Trumps individually, but also the whole organization. And so if you're just pointing blame to somewhere else in the organization or some contractor for the organization, that's not really going to help you as a defense.

WHITFIELD: Right. And the first go round we saw him as a very combative eyewitness.

HONIG: Yes. WHITFIELD: Well, now he's being called by the defense. Are we going to see the same kind of demeanor? Or is there a greater willingness to cooperate?

HONIG: Well, I think the demeanor will be quite different because the tables are turned. Last time he was being questioned by the AG's office. Now he'll start off being questioned by his own lawyers.

Now, they're only supposed to ask what we call open-ended questions on direct examination, who, what, when, why, not leading questions. But it will get more interesting when that part is done because the AG's office is then going to get to come back, maybe later today, maybe tomorrow morning, and cross-examine Donald Trump Jr. So, it will be a rematch of sorts.

But typically on direct, witnesses are much more friendly, much more garrulous and on cross things get a bit more contentious.

WHITFIELD: Right. And so the cross-examination, I mean that's where things will get to -- contentious. We just heard Kara say, he gets to, you know, control the narrative, but not on cross-examination.

So, what likely are going to be the questions that the AG will want to press on?

HONIG: So, I think they're going to express doubt about Donald Trump Jr.'s likely testimony that he didn't know what was going on, that he left it to others. They're going to talk about, you're the VP, you have a background in business, you graduated from Wharton and all that.

The other thing that I think Donald Trump Jr. is going to argue here is, as Kara said, there's no real victim, he will claim. These are sophisticated lenders. These are banks. Deutsche Bank. They know what they're doing. They reviewed our financials. They did their own diligence. They made the loans. We paid them back with interest.

Now, I think the response to that is, the facts are what they are. But the response here is largely legal, which is, it doesn't matter to some of the claims in this case, including the one claim that judges already ruled in favor of the AG, that's what we call materiality, whether anyone relied on it or not, doesn't matter for that claim, but it does matter for some of the other claims.


WHITFIELD: All right. We will be watching for the fireworks, because they're likely to come.

HONIG: Yes, for sure. Lots to watch.

WHITFIELD: Elie Honig, thanks so much.

HONIG: All right, Fred, thanks.

WHITFIELD: Good to see you. Appreciate it. John.

BERMAN: So, can House Speaker Mike Johnson rally Republicans to avoid a shutdown in just five days? And why Democrats might not hate his proposal.

A landmark study shows a popular weight loss drug also cut the risk of serious heart problems.


BERMAN: All right, breaking overnight, down goes Tim Scott. A new look this morning to the Republican presidential field. The South Carolina senator surprised even his own campaign staff and announced he is suspending his campaign.



SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): But when I go back to Iowa.