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Bodies of Two Hostages Returned to Israel; Tunnel and Weapons Found at Hospital; Nebal Farsakh is Interviewed about Telecommunication Troubles in Gaza; Judge Lifts Gag Order in Trump's Civil Fraud Trial; New Audio of Trump Released. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired November 17, 2023 - 09:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Two Israeli hostages found dead. Their bodies recovered overnight by the IDF. And the IDF giving a first look at some of the infrastructure they say Hamas has built in, around and under al Shifa Hospital.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Donald Trump says he would have been, quote, "very well received" by the January 6th mob at the Capitol. The newly released audio from just after the insurrection.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: And music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs sued by his ex-girlfriend where she accuses him of rape. We'll walk you through the allegations and how Diddy's camp is responding.

I'm Sara Sidner, with John Berman and Kate Bolduan. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

BOLDUAN: The IDF says it's an operational tunnel shaft on the grounds of al Shifa Hospital. We're going to show you video that the Israeli military released of what they say they have found. Israel has long said Hamas has used Gaza's largest hospital to hide a command center underneath. U.S. intelligence backs up these claims.

Today, Israeli sources are still searching the grounds and buildings of this vast medical complex. They also released new images of weapons and ammunition they said they have found there.

Tragically, also found, the bodies of two Israeli hostages, 65-year- old Yehudit Weiss, and 19-year-old Noa Marciano, a corporal in the IDF. Both of them transferred back to Israel now we know as of this morning.

With this the IDF is revising its estimate of the number of hostages still being held by Hamas in Gaza, and now they can say, it has to be an estimate at this point, at least 237.

CNN's Oren Liebermann leads us off. He's joining us from Tel Aviv this morning.

Oren, the IDF said now, since they've recovered the body of that second hostage, what more do you know?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we learned several days ago that 19-year-old Noa Marciano had died an Israeli hostage who was killed in Gaza. Now the IDF says they have recovered her body from near the al Shifa Hospital complex and returned it back into Israel where there can be held a proper burial.

We actually heard from Noa Marciano's mother just within the past day or so here because the march of the families of the hostages that -- on its way to Jerusalem is expected to get to the prime minister's office tomorrow, stopped at the Marciano household where her mother demanded answers from the government and demanded that the government come to a deal to bring the hostages home.

Listen to this.


ADI MARCIANO, MOTHER OF ISRAELI HOSTAGE FOUND DEAD (through translator): Bring Noa and everyone else home now. We will not stop fighting until Noa and all of the hostages and everyone will return home now, now, now.


LIEBERMANN: Noa Marciano's father also expressed a tremendous amount of frustration at the lack of information he says has been given to him or not been given to him as the case may be from the war cabinet and the prime minister's office on the state of negotiations.

Now, Noa Marciano is the second Israeli hostage killed in Gaza. We learned a short time before that that 65-year-old grandmother Yehudit Weiss, from kibbutz Be'eri, also died in Gaza, although the IDF didn't provide specifics on her cause of death. The spokesperson says she had been murdered by Hamas. She, too, was found near the al Shifa Hospital complex, they say, along with AK-47s and rocket propelled grenades in that area as well.

BOLDUAN: Oren, what more also are you hearing about the tunnel that the IDF says that it found, and also what is happening with the operations still ongoing at al Shifa today?

LIEBERMANN: So, the operation continues as it has in the complex itself for the past several days. The focus of that effort undercovering - undercover - under -- coming to find essentially more of the underground infrastructure. The first bit of evidence the IDF had released was from inside the hospital itself and showed some weapons and ammunition. Not even close to proving the assertion that Hamas has a network of tunnels underneath. Now they've put out images and video of a tunnel entrance within the complex itself. CNN has geolocated it to within the hospital complex. The key question is, what's inside that tunnel shaft?


We're not on the ground there. We're not able to verify that or confirm that or, frankly, see inside that. The U.N. also wants an independent commission or investigation to find out what's in that hospital as the IDF keeps operating to uncover what they say is the terror infrastructure that Hamas has used and placed below the hospital.

The U.S., of course, President Joe Biden, very much backing them up there - backing them up there. Doctors and officials at the hospital in the Hamas-run enclave have denied those accusations. Hamas even called them baseless lies.

BOLDUAN: That coming from Hamas, of course.

It's good to see you. Thank you so much. Oren Liebermann in Tel Aviv.


BERMAN: All right, with us now, CNN military analyst, retired Air Force colonel, Cedric Leighton.

Colonel, right here is the satellite view of the al Shifa Hospital complex. This is the new footage released by the IDF of what they say is a tunnel they found there. I'm going to freeze it. What do you see in this picture?


Yes, what it looks like there is, you know, basically a tunnel entrance. Now, there are a lot of possibilities here, and you have to kind of look at this from a construction engineer's viewpoint a little bit to see if this, in fact, is something that was added on to the facility at al Shifa Hospital or was it something that was part of original construction effort. So that would then give you a clue as to whether or not this actually is a tunnel that, you know, could potentially be part of Hamas's network of tunnels or if it's something else.

It does look like it is, you know, just from this initial look, it does look like it is an initial part of a tunnel entrance. And that could then lead to other areas. And when you see this, you know, clearly it's been -- it looks like it's been damaged to some extent, probably by bombardment, but that is, you know, something that would have to be examined, and as they go through this, you know, how far does the tunnel extend, where does it go, what kinds of rooms or cavernous areas does it - does it, you know, have within it. But it does look like it is an external part of a tunnel system, kind of an entrance area, separate from the actual hospital building that we saw on the right there as the camera panned that way.

BERMAN: And the IDF put out more pictures this time of some of the weapons, an additional cache of weapons they say they found inside al Shifa. That's on top of the weapons - the photo of the weapons that they released yesterday.

Colonel, the U.S. has said it believes there is a Hamas terror command node inside or underneath al Shifa. What does that mean exactly, and do we know what that would look like if it was discovered?

LEIGHTON: Well, we tend to mirror image. So, when we look at, you know, we make assertions about the different types of command centers that these kinds of organizations would have, you look at, you know, the way in which they've built this. And one of the things that we have to think about is that they may not have the same communications capabilities that, say, a U.S. military would have or that the Israeli military would have. So, this may be simply a cell phone and a bunch of cell phones together.

I do know that Hamas uses radios, kind of like walkie talkies, in their efforts. So probably some kind of a base station for the walkie talkies would be a clue that they would be a command center there. But it would not indicate definitively that it was used for that purpose. But it could certainly be an indicator that it was part of that effort.

So, that's one of the things to look for. You know, obviously computer screens, a computer network, a lot of electrical power going to a certain place could all be indicators. But we have to remember, their command center might look different than what we have.

BERMAN: And just to be clear, again, this is a picture of the tunnel that the IDF released, the video of this. They would not let cameras go down and look underneath. The IDF says it has not yet engaged in operations, our reporting is, inside these tunnels.

Why might they be hesitant to go down there? They've sent some drones down there, they say, but why not just send people down there right away?

LEIGHTON: Well, one of the key things, John, to worry about is IEDs and booby traps. So, if you're looking, you know, to go in a place like this, it's highly likely that it's been booby trapped. Whether there's some kind of an explosive device that could be triggered by some person going in there. So, it's better if the Israelis use robotics, use drones or another kind of robot to go in there and actually assess the situation and try to trip off any kind of explosive device that might have been planted there by Hamas or anybody else.

BERMAN: Colonel Cedric Leighton, great to have you on this morning. Thank you very much.


LEIGHTON: You bet.

SIDNER: That was really informative from the colonel there.

All right, right now, communication services are still out in Gaza after the U.N. says a fuel shortage spurred a blackout nearly 24 hours ago. The U.N. is also warning this morning that Gaza's entire population is at risk of starvation.

[09:10:04] Joining us now is Nebal Farsakh. She's a spokesperson for the Palestine Red Crescent Society.

Thank you so much for coming on. I know this is a really difficult time and a hard thing to wrap your head around.

Since telecommunications have gone down, how are your medics even communicating to get to people who have been injured?

All right, I think that either we have you accidentally on mute or you may be on mute. Can you - can you check again just to see? We're not hearing you. We can't see you very clearly, but we're just - we're not able to hear you. I was like, this technology gets me every time.


SIDNER: Now we've got you. Thank you so much, Nebal.

We'll start again about the telecommunications. How - how are medics communicating with each other so that they can get to people who are injured?

FARSAKH: Hi, Sara. Thank you so much for having me.

Basically, we're having great difficulties reaching to our colleagues in Gaza. We have lost connection with most of our colleagues in Gaza Strip due to the forced (ph) communication and blackout.

However, I'm still able to connect with one of our paramedics who are essentially (ph) trapped at al Ahi (ph) Hospital. Since yesterday, two ambulances and the 12 Palestine or the Crescent paramedics are still trapped at al Ahi (ph) Hospital because the hospital was seized by Israeli tanks. They are hearing heavy bombardment, as well as gunfire. The situation there is extremely dangerous and, unfortunately, our teams there are unable to go out of the hospital to respond to any of the calls for people in Gaza, patients, wounded people or whatsoever to reach them and transport them to hospitals.

My colleague (ph) even telling me was extreme painful. He - he can see dozens of people who are killed. Others who are injured. Only 30 meters away from him. And our colleagues, in the front of the hospital. But, unfortunately, they cannot do anything. They feel helpless. They even -- he even mentioned with great pain he watched many injured people, bleeding for a couple of hours, without being able to reach those people and save their lives until they die. The situation is extremely dangerous.

Now, if you live in Gaza, you don't have even a hospital to treat you because all hospitals in Gaza City went out of service. If you're a patient or a wounded people, you don't have any hospital to receive your case, along with the difficulties, as you mentioned, for the ambulances because of the communication blackout. So now we -- there is no way you could call an ambulance and receive an ambulance service. So, this puts the lives of hundreds of people at risk of losing their life without even being able to have an ambulance. And this is basically also the situation. It's challenging for our

paramedics there because the past few days we are having dozens of phone calls for people who are trapped at their homes without being able to reach them because it's military areas and our ambulances are prevented access to those areas.

So, we simply feel helpless. We can't respond to dozens of phone calls who are just seeking an ambulance to deal with injured people or others who are killed.

SIDNER: And -- and that is when you were able to get those phone calls. And just the idea of seeing someone not very many meters away from you and being unable to help them as they are bleeding out is just horrific.

I do want to ask you about the situation with food and with water. We are hearing reports both the U.N. and others saying that there is starvation -- on the brink of starvation, not just at the hospitals but all around Gaza. What are you hearing about the availability of food and clean water?

FARSAKH: Basically almost no left food or clean water, whether in Gaza and the north and the south as well. The situation is disastrous. Now people are struggling to have only water or some food, even in the south after hundreds of thousands of people were -- fled to the south. Now it's a challenge to find a food or a piece of bread or whatsoever, or even water for your family or your children. Even our hospital, which is an (INAUDIBLE) hospital, which is, by the way, in Khan Younis, in the south, this is the fifth day for the hospital with no power, no electricity, as well as no water because have already ran out of the fuel. So, the situation is disastrous, whether you live in Gaza, in the north, or even the south.

Now over 2 million civilians are literally with almost no food, no water, no power, no medicine, nothing.


And they soon will be without even medical services, as well as emergency medical services, because now only nine hospitals out of 35 still operating in Gaza Strip. Operating under conditions that can't be described. Even from those nine, some -- they are still working with power outage. So, you can't imagine being a doctor or a nurse using a flashlight or your mobile phone even to have just a light to try to conduct your life saving services for patients and wounded people who are in critical conditions and need your help.

SIDNER: And this is why so many people are asking for a cease fire to try and deal with this absolute disaster, humanitarian crisis.

Nebal Farsakh, thank you so much for explaining those very difficult things, and the medics there are truly heroes because they too don't have the food and water and access that they need as well. I appreciate you coming on and explaining everything to us.

John. BERMAN: All right, new audio of Donald Trump recorded just weeks after January 6th. Why he said the Secret Service kept refusing to let him go to the Capitol.

And new developments this morning after hip hop mogul Sean Combs is accused of sex trafficking and rape by an ex-girlfriend.

And a deadly vacation disaster. The terrifying moment a tourist ferry began sinking in paradise.



BOLDUAN: New audio of Donald Trump in his own words saying quite clearly he wanted to join the crowds at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th. He says, and suggests, to calm down what we know now became a violent mob. Why Trump did not do that. He blames the Secret Service. Now, this is coming from Jonathan Karl of ABC News. When Trump spoke with Karl two months after the insurrection.

Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: If you look at the real size of that crowd, it was never reported correctly. There were -- it's the biggest crowd I've spoken in front of by far.


TRUMP: By far. That went down to the Washington - that went back to the Washington Monument.

KARL: You told them you were going to go up to the Capitol. Were you just --

TRUMP: I was - no, I was going to, and the Secret Service said you can't. And then by the time -- I would have. And then when I got back I saw -- I wanted to go back. I was thinking about going back during the problem to stop the problem, doing it myself. Secret Service didn't like that idea too much.

KARL: So - so what - so -

TRUMP: And I could have done that. And, you know what, I would have been very well received. Don't forget, the people that went to Washington that day, in my opinion, they went because they thought the election was rigged. That's why they went.


BOLDUAN: So, this is important, not just for yesterday, but for today as well, as Trump is set to go on trial in March on federal charges for his actions to overturn the 2020 election. And, Sara, some legal analysts and experts are already anticipating

that this audio, this conversation with Jonathan Karl will play a part in that trial.

SIDNER: You could probably bet money on that.



All right, thank you, Kate.

A New York appeals court judge has temporarily, by the way, lifted the gag order on Donald Trump and his lawyers in his civil fraud trial here in New York. Trial Judge Arthur Engoron had barred the former president and his lawyers from talking about his judicial staff. At an emergency hearing this week, Trump's legal team argued that infringed on his free speech rights. Once the gag order was lifted, it didn't take very long for Donald Trump to start bashing the judge and his law clerk on his Truth Social platform, calling the judge's clerk biased and Trump hatting and calling the gag order ridiculous.

CNN's Kara Scannell is joining us now from outside of that courtroom where there has been plenty of drama over the time that this has gone on.

The trial is going to resume again this morning. What do we know about this gag order that has been lifted and ultimately it just means he can say whatever he wants?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Sara. I mean for now there are no restrictions on what the former president can say about this case or about the judge's staff. You know, this came because Trump had gone to the appeals court and asked in an emergency motion for this temporary lifting of the gag order. And there was a brief hearing yesterday where the judge heard arguments from all the parties and he decided to lift the gag order saying that there are constitutional rights at issue. So that means that Trump is free to say what he wants.

And as you said, the judge imposed this gag order in the first place because Trump had made claims on social media about the judge's law clerk, and then the judge extended that to Trump's attorneys because they had also raised questions of bias because of note passing between the judge's clerk and the judge. She sits just a few feet from him on the bench.

You know, but once this gag order was lifted, Trump wasted no time. As you said, he made those statements about -- on social media about the judge's law clerk. He also continued to attack the judge and the New York attorney general. They had not been subject to this gag order. But he has continued to attack them, saying that they have colluded in this case to lower the values of his properties. That's because the attorney general has sued Trump saying he inflated the values of properties. And the judge, before this trial began, had agreed, finding that these financial statements were inflated. And he also has called this investigation a hoax and a PR disaster for New York state.

So, you know, we are now in the 31st day of this trial. This is the end of the first week of Trump's defense. They started with Donald Trump Jr. on the stand talking about how spectacular and incredible all of their assets are, and the value that the Trumps added to them. We've since heard a number of expert witnesses who are testifying for the defense that these financial statements did comply with U.S. accounting laws and that there are various different ways to value these properties.


SIDNER: Yes, and with his win in the appeals court about the gag order, you can be sure that whatever happened in this court, there will be an appeal by Trump and his lawyers.


Thank you so much, Kara Scannell. I appreciate your time.


BERMAN: All right, with us now, CNN legal analysts and former federal prosecutor Jennifer Rodgers.

Counselor, great to see you.

I want to go back to the Jonathan Karl tape of Donald Trump talking about January 6th just a short time after. Kate suggested that this could play in the March federal trial involving Donald Trump. How so? What was important there?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, so they've charged him, of course, with this vast conspiracy to effectively steal the election. They didn't charge him with the insurrection itself per se. But this is all evidence of that conspiracy, right, because the insurrection, of course, was the last-ditch effort to stop Congress from certifying the vote. So, the fact that he's recorded saying basically, I knew that these were my supporters. They were there to do what I wanted them to do, to stop the certification, is good evidence of his participation in (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: He really seemed to know what was going on up at the Capitol on January 6th. And then even suggested that he could have gone up there and calmed them down. Now, I don't know that that has any legal importance here, but maybe some political impact.

RODGERS: Yes, I mean, the notion that he sat on his hands while watching TV and did absolutely nothing, knowing that they were there to do what he wanted them to do and he didn't do anything to stop the violence that was going on at the time is a pretty persuasive point about his bad actions in this case.

BERMAN: Could you get that in front of a jury?

RODGERS: Absolutely, because, again, it's all part of this conspiracy about what he was trying to get them there to do, which was to stop the certification.

BERMAN: All right, now, on the New York civil trial, this gag order has been temporarily lifted, not on the merits, right, on procedural grounds, at least for now?

RODGERS: Well, it's a stay.

BERMAN: Right.

RODGERS: It's to leave the parties in the positions they were before it was imposed while the judges consider the merits (INAUDIBLE).

BERMAN: What about the fact that every time there's a stay or the gag order is not in place, you know, within minutes or hours, Donald Trump spouts off again. What impact might that have on the appeals court?

RODGERS: Well, as the judge -- the judges sit there and think about, you know, should we gag him or not. One thing that they know is, if they don't, he will speak about it, right? So the harm that the judge is trying to avoid will happen. So, I think it pushes them in the direction of imposing a gag order because it's so narrow in scope that it doesn't really impinge on his rights and the potential harm to the law clerk who have been receiving threats is great.

BERMAN: There's a difference though between Donald Trump and Donald Trump's lawyers in this case, in your view. Why?

RODGERS: Because his is so narrowly drawn, right? He still can make all the complaints he wants to about the judge, the process, the Biden administration, the attorney general and so on. The lawyers, though, do have an obligation to make legal arguments on his behalf. And they did so in this mistrial motion the other day. And their main argument is that there's bias here, and the law clerk's actions demonstrate that bias. So, it's one thing to say they're constrained First Amendment-wise from spouting off about anything, but you do have to allow lawyers to make legal arguments on behalf of their clients. And so that's where I think the court may tinker with it a little bit just to make sure that the lawyers can defend him properly.

BERMAN: And then just lastly, all of this case right now is in front of a judge, not a jury. This judge has to rule on the civil trial. It's already found Donald Trump and the company liable for fraud. Now he's got to basically pick an amount he's going to fine them here.

Does this have any impact, all this swirling discussion about the gag order and everything else that's going on, have an impact on how he could rule?

RODGERS: I don't think it has an impact on how he will rule on the merits. I mean, of course, it impacts him in the sense that he's waiting on an appellate court to kind of opine whether he was right or wrong. And so he might think about being more conservative to the extent he wants to impose additional restrictions and that sort of thing. But he's listening carefully to the evidence, and so he'll make his decisions based on that.

BERMAN: Jennifer Rodgers, great to see you. Thank you very much.

RODGERS: Thanks.


BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a CNN exclusive. The Department of Education now investigating seven universities over complaints of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. What it could mean for those campuses and far beyond.

And also, this just in, a motion to expel Republican Congressman George Santos has now been filed after that devastating ethics report. This is moving fast. So, where is this going to end?

We'll be right back.