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Inside Gaza Combat Zone with Israel Military; Biden Says Hospitals in Gaza Must Be Protected; Consumer Inflation Continued to Ease in October; New Videos Show Ex-Trump Lawyers Telling Georgia Prosecutors about Efforts to Overturn Election. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 14, 2023 - 09:00   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: -- Freedom Caucus to go along with it. They need Democrats. Democrats are meeting in 30 seconds. Johnson says they'll get there.


MATTINGLY: Thanksgiving matters.

HARLOW: Fingers crossed, but then you won't get your --

MATTINGLY: We will. In January and in February.

HARLOW: OK. True. Sad but true.

Thank you so much for starting your day with us. We'll see you right back here tomorrow.


KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: CNN goes inside the children's hospital in northern Gaza. One of the hospitals Israel says Hamas is using to shield its, quote-unquote, "war machine." What our correspondent sees when he goes in.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: And only three days left until a possible U.S. government shutdown, and the new House speaker is facing the same GOP problem that caused the former speaker his job. Can Speaker Mike Johnson get the deal done?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The FBI investigating the New York City mayor for possible foreign influence. We will hear from the mayor for the first time this morning since new details of the probe have emerged.

I'm John Berman with Kate Bolduan, Fredricka Whitfield is in for Sara Sidner. CNN NEWS CENTRAL starts now.

BOLDUAN: This morning, only one hospital remains operational and is still receiving patients in northern Gaza according to a new report from the United Nations. Gaza's two largest hospitals are effectively shut down, they say, after saying that they have run out of fuel to power generators, which also, of course, powers important medical supplies like breathing machines. Israel has been calling for these hospitals to evacuate as the IDF pushes further in to Gaza.

The World Health Organization says evacuating critically ill patients now would be a, quote, "death sentence," though. Here's President Biden's take yesterday.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was my hope and expectation that there will be less intrusive action relative to the hospital. The hospital must be protected.


BOLDUAN: After that the White House did come out to clarify the president's remarks. Spokesperson John Kirby saying that the president was referring to the, quote, "extra burden that faces the IDF to preserve civilian life."

Complicating this is the reality that Israel along with U.S. intelligence officials maintain Hamas uses hospitals like Al Shifa Hospital to shelter their military operations, even positioning a command center, they say, under the Al Shifa medical complex.

New here, the Israeli military says that they've found a stash of weapons and signs of hostages being held below northern Gaza's only children's hospital. The hospital director there denies this. But, again, U.S. intelligence supports Israel's assessment that Hamas uses hospitals to hide their operations.

CNN's Nic Robertson embedded with the IDF to see some of this on the ground inside Gaza in a way journalists really have not been able to access during this war. Nic is now in Sderot, Israel, and he's joining us now.

Nic, what did you see and what more are you learning about, look, the sensitive and precarious situation around the hospitals in Gaza?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, I think just for a second I'll step out of the way and let John show you a picture there towards Gaza, the area that we were in. We're seeing a number of heavy strikes in that area. We were at the Al Rantisi Children's Hospital in the north of Gaza.

We were at that -- just spare me one second. I think we're having a problem with our audio here at the moment. We'll just get this fixed, just organizing the audio here. We're having some technical issues this morning. I think you may be able to hear me better now.

So the area that you're looking at now is into Gaza, into the area where we were taken by the IDF to the Al Rantisi Children's Hospital. It's near Jabaliya Camp. It's five miles deep into Gaza. To get there you witnessed, we saw a lot of destruction, many, many, many houses, apartment buildings, hotels, demolished, crushed, bombed, burned out. We didn't see any civilians at all while we were there.

The hospital itself was very close to the frontline of a firefight between the IDF and whom they thought were Hamas. It could have been another Islamist group there in Gaza. But inside the hospital, the IDF showed us what they said was a weapons cache.


They said these were Hamas weapons that Hamas was storing in the basement inside of the hospital there. They showed us a motorbike that they said that they believed Hamas had used in the October 7th attack. It had a bullet hole in it, and very significantly, they showed us evidence of what they said may indicate, may indicate that hostages were being held in the basement of that hospital.

There was a makeshift toilet area. There was a room with a calendar that the IDF said had been marked up and they believed it was being used as a guard room. There was a knife in that guard room. But there was also an area they showed us there was a chair with some women's clothes in it, with a rope around where the legs of the chair were. There was a baby's bottle nearby, and I asked, is this evidence, hard evidence that you believe the hostages were held here, and they said, look, we can't say that definitively but we're going to do DNA analysis on the rope, on the clothing, on the child's bottle, on a woman's hair tie that was found there as well.

So the IDF seemed very sure that this was a place Hamas had used to store weapons, and I talked as well to the IDF head spokesman Admiral Hagari about why he had brought us there to the hospital.


ROBERTSON: By bringing us here to this hospital and showing us the connection that you believe exist between the terrorists and possibly hostages, what does this say about the other hospitals here in Gaza?

REAR ADMIRAL DANIEL HAGARI, IDF SPOKESPERSON: Cynically, Shifa Hospital is known by facts, by intelligence, to be a terrorist hub. And also it's suspicious also in holding hostages. This is the best shelter for the terror war machine of Hamas.

ROBERTSON: But the hospital authority said they have no knowledge of Hamas or other groups inside the hospitals. Is that possible?

HAGARI: I think it's not possible for a hospital to have this kind of infrastructure. We knew the terrorists were here. We knew.

ROBERTSON: How did you know?

HAGARI: We knew. By intelligence, and also we got some fire from this area.

ROBERTSON: From this area? This building?

HAGARI: From this area. And we were right to fire because what we found, an armory.

ROBERTSON: But so much damage all around here. HAGARI: There is damage all around here because Hamas made it

impossible for us to fight them. They built all this infrastructure in tunnels and in hospitals, around areas populated.


ROBERTSON: Now, one of the reasons the IDF wanted to take us in there because they recognize they run a huge international pressure because they believe Hamas has connections to so many other hospitals inside of Gaza. They know they're taking a lot of heat internationally for this, and I think this is why they wanted to show us what they believed were all these emerging evidence of Hamas connections to these hospitals.

BOLDUAN: Nic, thank you so much for reporting. We're going to have much pore on what Nic saw on the ground when he was able to embed with IDF and get in there. We'll have much more of that later in the show. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Thanks so much, Kate.

All right, again, President Biden has called for those hospitals to be protected as Israeli troops try to root out Hamas.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is outside the White House.

Arlette, tell us more about the White House's latest response to what's happening in Gaza?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the White House is grappling with concerns about the dire conditions in many of the hospitals in Gaza and President Biden has issued a word of caution to Israel as they are conducting their operations around these hospitals.

Yesterday the president telling reporters that he wants to see a less intrusive operation and that he believes that hospitals need to be protected. That is something that was backed up by the White House National Security adviser Jake Sullivan, who told reporters that the president does not want to see fighting in these hospitals.

But it does come at a time as officials have warned that Hamas uses these types of hospitals as cover, uses civilian infrastructure as grounds at time to run their operations. Now White House National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby yesterday explained a bit more of the president's thinking saying that Israel has a high burden as they're trying to not just root out Hamas but also ensure the safety of civilians. Take a listen.


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: When you bury those targets inside civilian infrastructure, particularly a hospital, where there's innocent patients and little kids who have severe issues that need looking after, it makes it much harder for any military force to go after those targets because the hospital itself ought to be, as the president said, ought to be protected.

So he's really talking about this incredibly difficult conundrum that Israeli military forces are facing right now.


SAENZ: So that speaks to the balancing act that the White House is trying to engage in at this moment. They're not just trying to support Israel's campaign to root out Hamas, but also trying to raise those concerns about civilians. And it comes at a time when there has been some frustration and dissent within the Biden administration about the path forward in Gaza.


There have been letters calling for cease-fire, for instance, from the USAID. There's reports of dissent cables within the State Department. Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged some of these differences and concerns that people have but it does come at a time when you have heard the administration more forcefully speak out about the need to protect civilian lives, though at the time they have not called for a cease-fire, simply saying that there needs to be those humanitarian pauses to make sure civilians are safe.

WHITFIELD: All right, Arlette Saenz, at the White House, thank you so much. John.

BERMAN: All right, thanks so much, Fred.

With us now is retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Steve Anderson.

General, thank you so much. We have pictures. This is what Nic Robertson saw in the basement of the Rantisi Children's Hospital. Weapons. How does the presence of these weapons inside a children's hospital change the status of that hospital as a potential legitimate target?

BRIG. GEN. STEVE ANDERSON (RET.), U.S. ARMY: Well, thank you, John. Well, first of all, congratulations to Nic for his amazing reporting. His video evidence now and photo evidence that absolutely gives credibility to the Israelis that they -- Hamas is using civilians as human shields and they're putting headquarters and weapons caches underneath hospitals.

This is also evidence of a war crime, and someday this video evidence might very well be used in that to try Hamas leadership. But, look, it shows the difficulty in the situation. You can't have -- obviously you can't respond by bombing the hospital, so it shows the importance of putting boots on the ground. That's really the only way that you can root this out.

The tunnels, the weapons caches, everything that's around the vicinity of hospitals, you've got to put boots on the ground. And that's why I commend the Israelis for the slow methodical shaping campaign that they're conducting. They're coming down the coastline now from the north towards that hospital, and they seem to be able to I think take it and root those people out once and for all. That's the only way you can do is use special operations and infantry troops to root them physically out of their hiding spots.

BERMAN: All right. Just so people know from a geographic standpoint here, the Rantisi Children's Hospital is right there. The Al Shifa Hospital, which has received a great deal of attention the last few days, a little bit south of that, the Al Shifa hospital is where U.S. intelligence says that Hamas has a command node underneath.

So, General, look, there are people who will say, OK, Hamas has weapons there. We see the weapons in the basement of the Rantisi Children's Hospital. Israel still needs to be careful. Israel still shouldn't do what they're doing around those hospitals. What do you say to that?

ANDERSON: Well, there is some credence to that. I mean, they've got to go slow. I mean, that's why I encourage Israel to continue to do this methodical campaign that they're conducting right now to shape the battlefield. Take their time, continue to surround, and continue to apply pressure on this stranglehold they have over Hamas, and conduct precision strikes, precision strikes that minimize civilian casualties and maximize the potential.

They've got time. There's no reason to go rushing in there and -- there's no reason to do indiscriminate bombing. So every time that they do that, they kill excessive amounts of civilians. Of course that plays right into the Hamas and the Iranian narrative.

BERMAN: Right.

ANDERSON: And it essentially keeps Israel bogged down in a war, very, very difficult urban war when they should be just standing back, taking their time using precision strikes to shape the battlefield.

BERMAN: Let me be clear, the issue around these hospitals isn't so much direct bombing or contact, it's the lack of fuel, food, and medical supplies. We have pictures of a tunnel. This is from past conflicts. This is from 2018. We don't know what the tunnels look like now, but one can presume they look something like this. We haven't quite seen pictures like this yet.

The IDF took Nic to the basement of the Rantisi hospital, shows him tunnel entrances, but it's not as if there are tours of the tunnels yet. How careful does that IDF need to be? How dangerous is it to go into these tunnels even when you think they're clear?

ANDERSON: Well, it's very, very dangerous obviously. I mean, they've been working on this for 15 years so there's supposedly hundreds of miles of these tunnels that are in there. And, again, the only way you can do that is put boots on the ground, or I would say there's probably some technology they can use.

The problem with the tunnels is that it probably have hostages in the tunnels, and so everything that you do, if you wanted to flood the tunnels, for instance, or wanted to use some kind of -- some other technique, you know, shut off their air supply, you could be putting the hostages in danger. So the only way to do that is, unfortunately, use special forces, people that are trained in how to root out tunnels.


And they've got to go in there, you know, section by section, foot for foot, into the tunnels to root them out using boots on the ground. Really that's the only way they can do this effectively and not put the hostages at risk.

BERMAN: You mentioned the hostages. Israel says 239 hostages being held in Gaza. This would be their 39th day in captivity.

General, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it. Kate?

BOLDUAN: We have some new data in this morning and some potential good signs for the economy. October's Consumer Price Index, the key inflation gauge that the Federal Reserve leans on so heavily.

CNN's Rahel Solomon has more details as this is just coming in.

So what is it showing us now?

RAHEL SOLOMON, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so this is another sign of inflation colling, of inflation moderating, and it's certainly being received on Wall Street as a good sign. So this is a report that sent the markets up 300 points as soon as it crossed. And so if you take a look on an annual basis, we're talking about at the headline level, 3.2 percent increase, but on a month over month basis, headline inflation remained unchanged. So that is --

BOLDUAN: Great news.

SOLOMON: Exactly. That is certainly some good news. Now a big part of this, though, is energy prices. Energy prices have fallen quite significantly month over month. If you've gone to the gas station recently you know that gas prices right now are averaging about $3.35 a gallon. That is lower than the month prior. It is also certainly lower than a year prior. So you see gas prices falling about -- energy prices, gas prices falling roughly about 5 percent on a month-over- month basis, but there are some areas where you continue to see prices increase.

BOLDUAN: Food and shelter has been stubborn.

SOLOMON: It has been stubborn. And that's exactly the word that economists have been using. So I should say that food prices are a bit volatile, right? They could be impacted by a drought. They could be impacted by weather, but shelter prices, which is a huge component of inflation, that has also been stubborn, but it shows if you can believe it an actual moderation. So that is still a glimmer of good news. Not exactly if they're looking for rent right now.

But the big question in terms of all of this, well, what does it mean for the Fed? I talked to Mark Zandi, the chief economist of Moody's just about 10, 15 minutes ago and I asked what he thought, and he said, I actually find it very encouraging. It suggests that inflation is trending in the right direction and should make the Federal Reserve comfortable with their current policy and it's that part right there that the markets love, keep rates unchanged.

We'll see in a few weeks.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. It's good to see you. Thanks for coming in.

SOLOMON: Likewise.

BERMAN: I like the underlining right there. The physical underlining.

BOLDUAN: I wish we had like a virtual highlight function.

BERMAN: That would be good.

SOLOMON: Here I am.

BOLDUAN: And you are right. I like virtual Rahel.

BERMAN: Instead of the human highlight reel, the human highlighter.

Rahel Solomon, thank you.

All right, the boss is not going to leave. Former Trump attorney Jenna Ellis telling prosecutors investigating efforts to overturn the 2020 elections, she was informed the president did not plan to leave the White House, quote, "under any circumstances."

The new House speaker needs help from Democrats to avoid a shutdown. Will he get it?

And New York City Mayor Eric Adams now at the center of an FBI investigation set to answer questions from reporters this morning.



BOLDUAN: Former Trump allies in their own words, revealing new details of what they knew, did, and heard even throughout the broad effort to overturn the 2020 election, and also keep Donald Trump in power.

Video clips obtained by ABC News and "The Washington Post" reveal some of what attorneys like Sidney Powell and Jenna Ellis told prosecutors after they agreed to cooperate with the case against Trump and others coming out of Fulton County, Georgia.

Ellis in one clip talks about a conversation that she had in late 2020 with Dan Scavino, a top Trump aide. Scavino allegedly telling Ellis, the boss is not going to leave under any circumstance. Listen to this.


JENNA ELLIS, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: He said to me in a kind of excited tone, well, we don't care and we're not going to leave. And I said, what do you mean? And he said, well, the boss, meaning President Trump, and everyone understood the boss, that's what we all called him. He said the boss is not going to leave under any circumstances. We are just going to stay in power. And I said to him, well, it doesn't quite work that way, you realize, and he said, we don't care.


BOLDUAN: That video recorded on October 23rd. The next day Ellis pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting false statements. Neither Scavino nor his attorney have commented on this.

As for Powell who pushed some of the most fringe conspiracy legal theories after the election, she described encounters with Trump after he was told by White House attorneys that he had actually lost the election. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was President Trump's reaction when faced this cadre of advisers would say you lost?

SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: It was like, well, they would say that, and then they'd walk out, and he'd go, see, this is what I deal with all the time.


BOLDUAN: In exchange for her cooperation, Powell pleaded guilty to six lesser misdemeanors of conspiracy to intentionally interfere with the performance of election duties.

But what does this now mean going forward? Joining me now is CNN legal analyst Norm Eisen.

It's good to see you, Norm. Let's take this in pieces, if we can, Norm. Ellis, Jenna Ellis saying to Dan Scavino that Dan Scavino told her that the boss did not plan to leave the White House under any circumstances. A lot of talk about this one in particular? Is this admissible in your mind, do you think? What is the fight going to be over this?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I do think it's admissible under the Georgia rules of evidence. If the prosecutors show to the court that Scavino was a co-conspirator.


There's a lot of evidence in the public record suggesting that he was extremely active, so I think prosecutors will meet that threshold, and when they do, Kate, boy, this is a bombshell, because it summarizes exactly what was wrong. Not just as a matter of law, but in a way that anyone can understand, that the jury will be able to understand.

We're not going to leave the White House no matter what. The message is, the votes of the people are irrelevant. No wonder we have the first nonpeaceful transition of power in American history. That is a devastating blow for the former president. It's one thing for prosecutors to argue it to the jury, but to have a witness who was directly involved to say it, very, very strong evidence.

BOLDUAN: Trump's team very clearly, it sounds like they would say, you know, object saying it's hearsay because just taking a look at the statement coming from Trump's lead attorney in Georgia they put out this statement to ABC News about specifically what Jenna Ellis is saying and here's part of what they've said. "The only salient fact to this nonsense line of inquiry is," they say, "is that President Trump left the White House on January 20th, 2021 and returned to Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida."

His point being is that all of this is meaningless, he says, because Donald Trump did leave the White House. How strong is that argument in court?

EISEN: It's weak. First of all, on the hearsay question, prosecutors will be able to overcome that. This evidence very likely will come in. And secondly, you can't erase the horror of January 6th, the damage, the destruction, even the death that came out of that day, and the alleged role of the former president by pointing to what happened after January 20th.

So, I think that, you know, Kate, what are they going to say? They have to say something, but respectfully disagree.

BOLDUAN: We always love respectful. "The Washington Post" also has this, I want to ask you a little bit more about Sidney Powell. "The Washington Post" saying asked why Trump relied on her advice over White House counsel and others, Powell replied with this. "Because we were the only ones willing to support his effort to sustain the White House. I mean, everybody else was telling him to pack up and go." What does this provide?

EISEN: Well, the overall Powell proffer is not as strong as the Ellis proffer because Powell doesn't as conclusively repudiate the events of the run-up to January 6th, but her -- but, still, there are points of value in her -- and this is one, why? Donald Trump has already signaled he wants to defend himself by saying, I relied on the lawyers. That is a technical legal defense, but only if you're taking the advice of the lawyers in good faith.

If you're picking and choosing your lawyers based upon the outcome you want, you don't get to use that defense, and so this shows that she's a firsthand direct witness to the conversation with Trump. It kind of goes back to the Scavino point. We're not going to leave no matter what, and I'm going to pick the lawyers who will give me the advice to let me stay. So in context also a very damaging moment in the disclosures of the video proffers.

BOLDUAN: It is interesting, because you also make the point -- and we got to go -- that hers might be seen as a weaker testimony to provide because at one point "The Washington Post" says at one point in the Powell interview, she said that Trump really did believe that he had won which could be part of the Trump defense. Regardless, it's all going to be very interesting as this goes forward, and a wild window into what the prosecutors have and what they were able to secure in order to offer -- in offering these plea deals.

It's good to see you, Norm. Thank you. Fredricka?

WHITFIELD: Right now House Speaker Mike Johnson is preparing for his first major fight on the House floor. GOP hardliners are forcing him to turn to Democrats to avert a U.S. government shutdown. But will he get the votes? We're live from Capitol Hill.

And today, New York Mayor Eric Adams takes questions for the first time about a sprawling FBI investigation. Coming up, the incidents that they are looking into.