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Nation's Capital On High Alert Amid Anti-Semitism Rally In Washington, D.C; Desperation In Gaza As Hospitals Face Critical Shortages; Optimism For Hostage Release In Israel-Hamas Conflict; Massive Rally In Washington For March For Israel; Physical Altercation On Capitol Hill Between Republican Lawmakers; Justice Department Urges Gag Order In Trump's Federal Election Subversion Case; President Biden Unveils Alarming Climate Change Report. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired November 14, 2023 - 14:00   ET




PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: The nation's capital on high alert as tens of thousands rally against anti-Semitism in Washington, D.C., and as attacks on Jews and tensions over the Israel-Hamas war soar.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Plus, desperation in Gaza as hospitals go without life-saving supplies. Doctors frantically moving newborn babies out of the NICU in Gaza's largest hospital as oxygen there runs out, while Israel says it has offered to help. And a clean shot to the kidneys. Republican Congressman Tim Burchett accusing recently deposed House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of elbowing him in the back hard. McCarthy denying it. What is undeniable, we are three days away from a potential government shutdown. We're following these major developing stories and many more, all coming in right here to CNN News Central.

BROWN: The push to free hostages held by Hamas is picking up on multiple fronts today. Just a short time ago, President Biden said he believes a deal to free hostages in Gaza is going to happen. A senior U.S. official tells CNN that Israel and Hamas are inching closer to a deal, and Israel's Prime Minister just indicated that he thinks the ground offensive inside Gaza is increasing pressure on Hamas to negotiate.

Also today, demonstrators have taken to the streets demanding the hostages be released. Tens of thousands of people are in Washington at the March for Israel. The rally follows a troubling increase in anti- Semitic incidents across the U.S., and that's why law enforcement is on high alert today. In Israel, a similar demonstration is underway. Family members of hostages began a days-long march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Let's start here in Washington. CNN's Gabe Cohen is on the National Mall. Gabe, what are you seeing at this huge rally today?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, behind me, you'll see just a small section of this massive crowd here on the National Mall. We just heard from Isaac Herzog, Israel's president, who thanked President Biden and the U.S. Congress for their support during this conflict in recent weeks. And we also, just a little while ago, witnessed a really interesting moment when our own CNN political analyst, Van Jones, was speaking on that stage. He talked about hoping that both sides, that there could be an end to the attacks and the bombings on both sides, both Israel and Gaza. And the crowd really went quiet in that moment. And very quickly, we heard very loud chants, a start-up of no ceasefire, no ceasefire.

And it speaks to how politicized or polarized, I should say, this issue still is today. This rally happening 10 days after a similarly massive rally just about a mile down the road here in Washington that was pro-Palestinian calling for a ceasefire, very critical of President Biden. And look, as all of this is unfolding, there's a lot of concern about security here on the National Mall today. We know that local and national law enforcement, federal law enforcement are working together. The National Guard has been called in. There is fencing around this section of the National Mall, as well as blockades of police vehicles, city dump trucks just trying to protect people here.


And I spoke with some folks in the crowd attending this event about how safe they feel today and in general right now here in the U.S. Take a listen.


SHAWN WELL, BOSTON RESIDENT: You're always worried about safety when you're Jewish. Always. I'm worried about it in my own home. I'm worried about it in my city. Am I worried about it here? Yes. But there's a lot of security here.


COHEN: And look, we're still expecting to hear from congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle. The new Speaker of the House, Republican Mike Johnson, as well as the Democratic leader, Hakeem Jeffries and others. And we're expecting to also hear from family members of hostages who are still in Gaza being held. So, a lot of speeches, Pamela, and we'll be monitoring it throughout the afternoon.

BROWN: All right, Gabe Cohen, thanks so much. Now let's get you to the Middle East. CNN's Ed Lavandera in Tel Aviv. Right now, the focus is on the hospitals and the hostages in Gaza. Gaza's health care system, it's on the brink of collapse. What more can you tell us about that?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the catastrophic situation, as it's been described by many of the doctors and medical staff working inside those hospitals, continues tonight here in the Middle East. The latest news we have is the Al-Ahli Hospital, which is now the last operating hospital inside of Gaza City. And medical officials there describe the situation as dire, minimal staff caring for about 500 patients, many of those in critical condition, only 2 operating rooms and 3 surgeons left inside of that hospital.

And the Al-Shifa Hospital, which has been the focus of so much in the area around it, so much intense fighting over the last several days, that is a hospital that has collapsed. There were babies that were taken, premature babies that were taken to operating rooms where there were still some minimal oxygen supplies. Israeli defense forces have been offering to take incubators and other oxygen supplies to be able to care for those premature babies.

But really, all of this just speaks to the catastrophic conditions that are unfolding inside the hospitals. These are areas also, Pamela, as you well know, where many civilians have been seeking refuge from the ongoing fighting there in the streets of Gaza.

BROWN: And we're also, Ed, hearing some optimism from the White House today on the efforts to free hostages. Where do things stand with that?

LAVANDERA: Yes, and this comes as a day, as you mentioned off the top, that you saw the families of hostages beginning a days-long march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, hoping to bring more attention and efforts to get the hostages released. But we heard from President Biden just a short while ago expressing optimism that a deal could be reached soon. One Israeli official tells CNN that negotiations are ongoing and that the broad parameters of what is being discussed right now, and all of this is still very delicate, still not close to being nailed down, we understand, but it would involve an exchange of what would have to be a large number of hostages in exchange for Palestinian prisoners, as well as a days-long cease-fire.

So exactly where the details of all of this ends up is not clear. These are very delicate negotiations that are taking place, being handled by government officials in Qatar, as well as the CIA and the Israeli intelligence agency, the Mossad. So, all of that work kind of continues, and hundreds of families desperate for any kind of movement and good news in this area, which we have seen so very little of in more than a month now.

BROWN: Yeah, that is very true. Ed Lavandera, thank you so much. Brianna.

KEILAR: Well, today on Capitol Hill, on the House side, drama. What else, right? An actual fight, elbowing and shoving, that is what Republican Congressman Tim Burchett is accusing former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of. McCarthy is denying the incident. I want to go ahead and bring in our chief congressional correspondent, Manu Raju, who is covering all of this. And Manu, what's going on? There's some sort of ethics complaint now being filed?

MANU RAJU, CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's from Congressman Matt Gaetz. Of course, Gaetz led the charge to oust Kevin McCarthy as speaker. Tim Burchett, who alleges that Kevin McCarthy hit him in the kidneys, elbowed him in the back and hit his kidneys, also was one of the 8 who voted to oust Kevin McCarthy. All this tension has just been lingering, for now more than a month, in the aftermath of the historic and unprecedented ouster of the former speaker.

McCarthy himself just told me just a few days ago that he believes Matt Gaetz went after him in order to squash an ethics investigation that he is facing. And he also criticized Burchett as being only interested in press, which is why he sought to push out McCarthy from the speakership.


Now, what happened earlier today was that there was a meeting behind closed doors. House Republicans were discussing their plans for the day ahead. Then, afterwards, Burchett was talking to a reporter in a hallway in the basement of the Capitol. McCarthy allegedly elbowed him in the back. At that point, Burchett ran down the hallway, chased after him, and they got into a heated confrontation as McCarthy walked away. That's how Burchett at least describes it, even as Kevin McCarthy is denying it.


REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): I got elbowed in the back, and it kind of caught me off guard because it was a clean shot to the kidneys. And I turned back, and there was Kevin. And for a minute, I was kind of, what the heck just happened? And then I chased after him, of course. He's the type of guy that, when you're a kid, would throw a rock over the fence and run home and hide behind his mama's skirt.

RAJU: I mean, did it hurt?

BURCHETT: Yeah. Yeah. As a matter of fact, it still hurts because it was a shot to the kidneys. And it still hurts.


RAJU: Now, Burchett also would not go as far as accusing him of assault and said that he would not file an ethics complaint. But that is exactly what Kevin, with Matt Gaetz, is planning to do at this moment. Now, McCarthy did deny it. Our colleague Melanie Zanona did catch up with McCarthy, who just said that this was a narrow hallway, that they were walking down in the hallway. He didn't do it intentionally. And that's what McCarthy allegedly told Burchett, too, as they got into a back-and-forth confrontation.

One of the reporters who witnessed it said that Burchett said that McCarthy didn't have any guts and asked a question what he was doing. Burchett confirmed that he said that. So, as you can see, so much tension, Brianna, still exists in the aftermath of McCarthy's ouster. This is a house that's been in session for about 10 straight weeks. Typically, there are recesses in between, but they have scrapped those amid all this infighting and chaos on the GOP side. And perhaps they need a break as they head home for the exits at the end of this week,

KEILAR: Well, exactly. I mean, the drama. I'm thinking, as I see this tour group behind you there, you know, on that tour group, I know one of the things they talk about is, you know, way back when, when lawmakers on one occasion, one caned the other and actually caused quite a lot of damage. Do they realize how ridiculous they look that they are coming to a physical altercation here?

RAJU: Yeah. Look, the question is whether or not McCarthy recognized that anybody actually witnessed that. You know, he says again that he denies that it was intentional. No reporters who were there who I've talked to said that it appeared to be intentional. So, look, this just goes to show you where Kevin McCarthy is at this moment. He's not in a particularly good place. He has been very critical of those 8 who came after him, essentially believes he was pushed out unfairly. But I should just note again, he's saying that he did not do this intentionally. We'll see what he has to say if he decides to weigh in on this further later today.

KEILAR: Yeah. As you said, it's not just a he said, he said there is a reporter who witnessed this. And that's important to note. Manu, thank you for the latest as this drama balloons there on the House side of the Capitol.

And when we come back, the special counsel's office wanting a judge to keep former President Trump's gag order in place. We're going to talk about their reasons ahead and then later how fellow senators are hoping to break through Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville's blockade on military promotions. You're watching CNN News Central. We'll be right back.



KEILAR: President Biden unveiling an alarming new report today from more than a dozen federal agencies showing every corner of the U.S. is feeling the impact of climate change and that things will get worse in the next decade.


JOESEPH BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It shows that communities across America are taking more action than ever to reduce climate risk. It warns that more action is still badly needed. We can't be complacent. Let me say that again. We can't be complacent. We have to keep going. Above all, it shows us that climate action offers an opportunity for the nation to come together and do some really big things.


KEILAR: CNN chief climate correspondent Bill Weir is in Niagara Falls, New York. He has more about how Buffalo has become the sweet spot for climate change. He filed this report.


BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMAR CORRESPONDENT: There's an old joke that tells us there are only 2 seasons in Buffalo, winter and the 4th of July. But in the age of global warming, the city wants you to know that now their weather is going from punchline to lifeline. Thanks to its Goldilocks location amid the Great Lakes, Buffalo has never reached 100 degrees.

STEPHEN VERMETTE, CLIMATE SCIENTIST AND PROF. BUFFALO STATE UNIVERSITY: You get, on average, about three days in the summer get to be 90 degrees or higher. WEIR: Yeah.

VERMETTE: I mean, if you're in Phoenix, you're looking at that and saying, what the heck are you calling that a heat wave?

WEIR: Yeah, that's wild.

And when professor Stephen Vermette did a deep dive of the records, the Buffalo State climatologist was shocked to find no increase in droughts or floods. There was this epic snowstorm last winter.


WEIR: Really deadly and destructive. VERMETTE: Blizzard of 22.

WEIR: But that's not an indication that those are gonna get worse?

VERMETTE: No, because we had the blizzard of 77, the blizzard of 85, 81, blizzard of 36. I'm not saying that our severe weather's gonna disappear. It's still there.

WEIR: Yeah.

VERMETTE: In fact, snow amounts have remained steady in all of this. It doesn't seem to be getting worse. And that's the key here. We're still gonna have severe weather, like the wind and everything else, but it's not gonna get worse.

WEIR: I gotta say, it's pretty ironic in telling about the world we now live in, that a place sort of associated with cold jokes and Super Bowl losses could be a huge winner relative on a hotter planet.

MAYOR BRYRON BROWN (BUFFALO, NY-D): You know, that's --that's the way we look at it as well. There was a professor from Harvard that was talking about the effects of climate change and listed some cities that would be considered climate refuges in the future and Buffalo was one of the cities on the list and so we just leaned into it.

We are going to not only call ourselves a climate refuge city but do the kinds of things that are required to be welcoming with migration, with new Americans coming here, with seeing the first population growth in the city since the 1950 census.


WEIR: After Hurricane Maria, 3,000 Puerto Ricans became permanent Buffalonians.

ANTHONY MATTEI, TEACHERS AIDE: It was hard. When the hurricane start, what we do, we move from the second floor, we move to the first floor.

WEIR: Including Anthony Matei, who is now a teacher's assistant. MATTEI: I remember when I moved here, people told me, oh, you know where you're going? Because in Puerto Rico, it's always warm, it's hot and I said, no, and I moved here like in winter, but I like it, it's good.

WEIRL Did you consider other spots or what was it about this place that appealed to you the most?

PROF. HOLLY JEAN BUCK, UNIVERSITY OF BUFFALO: The Great Lakes, the fresh water, the projections of climate change look like Buffalo might have a climate more like New York, Philadelphia, towards the end of the century.

WEIR: Wildfire smoke helped drive Holly Jean Buck and her family out of Southern California. And as a climate scientist, she says she was welcomed with open arms and employment.

BUCK: But really the energy of the people, people who are really forward thinking in Western New York and New York State about what opportunities there might be in clean energy and clean tech and how to build those solutions in ways that are good for communities.

WEIR: So, it's not just the latitude, it's the attitude.

BUCK: Yeah, exactly.

WEIR: Right? And the welcoming spirit of a place, I suppose.

BUCK: The city of good neighbors, they call it.

WEIR: Oh, nice. Nice. And you found that to be the case?

BUCK: I have, totally.

WEIR: Yeah?

BUCK: Yeah.


KEILAR: Very interesting report. Thank you to Bill Weir for that. Pam.

BROWN: Well, this just in to CNN. The Justice Department is urging a Washington, D.C. appeals court to uphold the gag order against Donald Trump and his federal election subversion criminal case. CNN Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid joins us now. So, Paula, what is the government arguing?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: So, this brief comes ahead of an oral argument on Monday. On Monday, the government and Trump's lawyers are going to go before a 3-judge panel on the Court of Appeals to argue about whether Trump should be bound by this limited gag order that was put in place by the judge overseeing the January 6th trial. Now, in this brief, they're summarizing their arguments for why they believe that this gag order is necessary.

And they say that, look, there's never been a defendant who has been allowed to malign a prosecutor, his family, going on to threaten witnesses. And they say that these problems began at the beginning of the case. They say shortly after they filed their indictment against Trump, he threatened to, quote, if you go after me, I'm coming after you, and then used inflammatory language to target the district court, the special counsel, and trial witnesses who he knew were going to provide damaging evidence. And they also point out that this extends to as recently as this week.

On Saturday, the former president, at a campaign official, at a campaign event, launched several attacks against Smith and his family. So, the prosecutors are arguing that, look, these kinds of attacks and the threats and harassment that come to those who are targeted, this is part of a years-long pattern. And they believe that this gag order, it is narrowly tailored so as to protect his rights, but also protect the judicial process, and especially people who are just trying to do their jobs, show up to testify or show up to work.

BROWN: So, what is Trump saying about all this?

REID: So, his lawyers argue that he should not be bound by this gag order. They argue that it's overly broad, that it infringes on his First Amendment right and impedes his ability to campaign. Now, this gag order is currently on hold, and they want the Court of Appeals to overturn it and have him not be subject to these restrictions. Now, he tried this at the lower court level with the judge who imposed it. That didn't work out. But he has a chance here at the Court of Appeals as well.

BROWN: So, what happens next? And again, you know, what makes this also so interesting is he is the leading Republican presidential candidate, right?

BROWN: Absolutely. Look, Pamela, you and I, we're legal nerds, right? This is a big question, right? Because he is running for office. We've never been here before. I mean, the extent to which you can limit the speech of a defendant, that is something that has certainly been visited by the courts. But when that defendant is also the leading candidate for the Republican nomination for the presidency, you get into the realm of political speech. And his lawyers are really leaning into that, arguing that because anything he says is political speech, that it is entitled to a heightened level of protection.


So, this is a fascinating issue, as they try to balance his rights to free speech, but also trying to protect people from threats and harassment. It'll go before the Court of Appeals, depending on which way this goes. Something that folks could try to take if they lose to the Supreme Court.

BROWN: Yeah, it really is fascinating. Paula Reid, thanks so much. Fellow legal nerd here. Proud to be one. All right. Stay with CNN News Central. We're going to be right back.


KEILAR: It has now been 39 agonizing days since Hamas terrorists killed and captured innocent Israeli families. I'm joined now by Omri Almag (ph).