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House Introduces Santos Expulsion Resolution; Investigation into Hate in Schools; Ex-Girlfriend Sues Sean "Diddy" Combs; American Tourist Dead after Ferry Sinks. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired November 17, 2023 - 09:30   ET




SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: We have a bit of breaking news for you now from Capitol Hill. The House Ethics chairman has officially filed a resolution to expel Republican Congressman George Santos from the House of Representatives.

CNN's Lauren Fox is joining us now from Capitol Hill.

This morning they promised that that was going to happen, and now here we are. What more can you tell us?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and obviously it was really noteworthy yesterday when the report came out and the committee did not make any recommendations about whether or not Santos should be expelled. But this move today does show that there are many Republicans who may have voted in the past against this effort to expel George Santos and now are finding themselves in a position where they believe that that is the right course of action.

You also saw a statement yesterday from Raj Shah, who is a spokesperson for the new House speaker, Mike Johnson. And in that statement Shah argued that Johnson is encouraging everyone to come back to Capitol Hill after Thanksgiving and really think about what the best course of action is after reading what he described as a troubling account of what George Santos had done.

We do expect that Santos will hold a press conference on November 30th, after the Thanksgiving recess. But obviously, there are a number of Republicans, a dozen by CNN's count, who now are saying that they are willing to support that resolution to expel George Santos.


We expected that it could come up as soon as right after that Thanksgiving recess.


SIDNER: All right, Lauren Fox, thank you so much. Kate, you know what George Santos has been able to do that no one else

has been able to do, bring Democrats and Republicans together. You're welcome.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: I was waiting for it. I can always tell when you're raising your eyebrows like that, that something's about to come at me.

SIDNER: Something naughty (ph) is about to come out.

BOLDUAN: Yes, a rare form of bipartisanship.

SIDNER: I mean, there you are.

BOLDUAN: Just have a devastating ethics report against you.

SIDNER: That's the one problem, correct (ph).

BOLDUAN: Right on top of that rose.

Let's talk about the - let's talk about the idea of expulsion though, because expulsions from the House chamber are rare. This move is also really seen as the harshest form of punishment in the House of Representatives. Only five members of the House have been expelled, kicked out of the body in more than its two centuries of history. And three of those happened during the Civil War. You remember John Clark, John Reid, Henry Burnett, they were kicked out for siding against the union and fighting for the confederacy. Only two House members have been expelled since then in modern times, both of them convicted of crimes. Pennsylvania Democrat Michael Myers in 1980 after FBI agents caught him taking a $50,000 bribe, and Jim Traficant, the Democrat from Ohio was expelled after being convicted of ten felonies, including for bribery, fraud, tax evasion.

So, if George Santos is expelled, he would be the first House member in modern times to be kicked out without being convicted of a crime.

There you have it, John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Without being convicted maybe yet. Maybe before being convicted of a crime, but we'll have to wait and see on that.

This morning, a CNN exclusive. New investigation into claims of hate in schools. An Education Department official says the agency is looking into seven schools after complaints of alleged anti-Semitic and Islamophobic incidents. They're the first investigations of this kind by the department since the Hamas terror attack on Israel. That's state federal funding if the schools do not comply with the recommendations made at the end of the probes.

Our CNN's Rene Marsh broke this story and is with us now.

Rene, what have you learned here?

RENE MARSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, you know, as you said, John, this is significant because these are the first investigations since that October 7th attack. But it's also significant to have this many hate investigations happening simultaneously at the Education Department. But it really speaks to the unprecedented level of hate and anti- Semitism essentially boiling over on school campuses.

Now, the school -- seven schools being investigated include six universities and one k-12 school in Kansas. They received word of these investigations all within the last 48 hours. And this morning the education secretary, Miguel Cardona, was on CNN and he had this message for parents with students at colleges and schools across the country.


MIGUEL CARDONA, EDUCATION SECRETARY: Your child should be unapologetic about who they are, expressing who they are. They shouldn't have to hide their identity to learn on campus or in a k-12 institution. And that is our responsibility to protect them. And we're doing everything in our power to enforce that. And if we see that there are places that are not doing it, we're going to open up an investigation, we're going to provide support, but we're going to open up an investigation to make sure that we're doing our job as educators.


MARSH: And Cardona says that he has actually never seen this level of intensity of hate on campuses across the country. He does expect to see even more investigations launched by the Department of Education. Of the seven investigations that are happening at all those schools that you see on your screen, five of them are cases of anti-Semitism, two of them cases of Islamophobia.

The way this will work is that the Department of Ed will investigate. They'll make recommendations to these schools. If the schools do not comply, then they risk losing federal funding. And it is their legal obligation under the law, according to the Department of Education, to protect students from this sort of discrimination and harassment. So, aggressive moves happening from the Department of Education, John.

BERMAN: It will really be interesting to see how this all unfolds and whether the schools comply and whether these new actions have teeth.

Rene Marsh, as I said, you broke this story. Thanks so much for bringing it to us now.


MARSH: Thanks.

SIDNER: Accusations of rape and years of abuse. The lawsuit filed against Sean "Diddy" Combs by his former girlfriend, and his response, his denial.

And, let the drag show go on. Why the Supreme Court blocked Florida state's law aimed at limiting those performances. We'll have all of that coming up. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


SIDNER: Sean "Diddy" Combs is being sued by his ex-girlfriend who's accusing him of rape, years of physical abuse, and even sex trafficking. Singer Cassie Ventura filed a federal lawsuit in court claiming that Combs used his power and influence to control her life. His attorney - Sean "Diddy" Combs' attorney calls the lawsuit baseless.

CNN correspondent Omar Jimenez is joining us with more.

There's a lot in this complaint. What else is said in this complaint? And this is in civil court, correct?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Civil court as of now. And look, there are a lot of allegations here. One, that she alleges he was physically violent toward her, that he controlled all aspects of her life, that at one point when she tried to break up with him in 2018, she says that he forced his way into her home and raped her. Also, she alleges he made her perform sex trafficking acts. So there's a -- there's a lot here.

And that they first met back in '05, when she was 19, he was 37, and she says back then it began a lifestyle of heavy drinking and drug use that she says she was brought in by Diddy, the effects of which she feels today.


Now, I want to read you part of the statement that she's put out so far.


JIMENEZ: She said that, "after years in silence and darkness, I'm finally ready to tell my story and to speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships."

Now, timing-wise, her statement also mentions the New York Adult Survivors Act, which went into effect last year, and allowed adult survivors of sexual abuse to come forward with their stories, even if it was past the statute of limitations. That act is set to expire next week. So, in that regard, the timing is especially crucial.

SIDNER: Do we know if she's gone to police to put that forward before it expires or that -- we're not sure if that's happened or not (ph)?

JIMENEZ: That's what we're trying to figure out at this point.

SIDNER: Trying to figure it out.


SIDNER: OK. I do want to ask you what the response has been from Sean "Diddy" Combs, or his lawyers, or both.

JIMENEZ: Yes, well, at this point, as you can imagine, he is completely denying all of these claims and what his attorneys have called outrageous. And I want to read you part of their statement.


JIMENEZ: Because they say that, "for the past six months, Mr. Combs has been subjected to Ms. Ventura's persistent demand of $30 million, under the threat of writing a damaging book about their relationship, which was unequivocally rejected as blatant blackmail. Despite withdrawing her initial threat, Ms. Ventura has now resorted to filing a lawsuit riddled with baseless and outrageous lies, aiming to tarnish Mr. Combs' reputation and seeking a pay day."

Now, she is seeking unspecified monetary damages as part of this. But, obviously, this is a wide scope of allegations here that span over a decade. And, at the very least, based on what she says happened, she feels that she believes "Diddy" should be held accountable for what she says happened over that time period.

SIDNER: As this is going through, they will have responses, and we'll be able to read all of that as well. But very disturbing allegations for sure.

Omar Jimenez, thank you so much for bringing that to us.

JIMENEZ: Of course.

SIDNER: All right, John.

BERMAN: All right, vacation horror. Terrifying video of a deadly ferry disaster. We have some new reporting on the investigation.



BOLDUAN: Also on our radar this hour, the FDA and the CDC are releasing more than 77,000 additional doses of the RSV vaccine for children amid a frustrating ongoing shortage of the shot. The dosages will be going to hospitals and doctors' offices most in need as the country is headed into what of course is traditionally peak respiratory virus season. This vaccine is proven key in protecting infants especially. RSV is the leading cause of hospitalizations among infants.

The Supreme Court announced the show can go on in Florida. This is over a Florida law trying to limit drag shows in the state, which was -- the law was signed into Law in May by Governor Ron DeSantis. Florida had asked the Supreme Court to narrow a lower court's injunction that had stopped the law altogether from being enforced statewide. The 6-3 majority on the high court declined to do so, thus allowing shows to continue, and the legal battle to continue as well.

The former "Rust" armorer now facing a new separate gun charge. This is an unrelated incident. One that happened weeks before the film's cinematographer was fatally shot on the set of "Rust." Hannah Gutierrez was indicted yesterday in New Mexico for unlawfully carrying a firearm in a licensed liquor establishment in 2021. Her attorney calls this new charge baseless, and she has, as you'll remember, pleaded not guilty to involuntary manslaughter charges linked to the shooting on "Rust" that killed Halyna Hutchins.

"The New York Times" now reporting the FBI searched the New Jersey homes of an aide to the New York City mayor. It's all part of this ongoing investigation into the mayor's campaign finances and possible foreign influence. Mayor Eric Adams has not been accused of wrongdoing. His lawyer says he's cooperating with the investigation. This aide, though, worked as the mayor's - as the mayor's director of protocol for international affairs and has been accused by the mayor's legal team of acting improperly.


BERMAN: All right, this morning, an investigation is underway after an American tourist died when a ferry she was on sank in the Bahamas. This double decker ferry left Paradise Island for Blue Lagoon Island with nearly 140 passengers. Thirty minutes into the trip, it started taking on water and it capsized. There is video taken by the passenger.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Our boat is sinking. So that's fun.


BERMAN: The ferry service is now suspended. Two people were hospitalized.

CNN's Carlos Suarez is covering this for us this morning.

Carlos, what have you learned?

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, talk about a dramatic and a frightening experience. The scene played out earlier this week just north of Nassau. According to Bahamian officials out there, the ferry departed, as you said, New Providence, and was making its way to a private island when this double-decker catamaran began taking on water. As you noted, cell phone video from one of the passengers really captured the scene on board this boat. You can see the ferry is listing to one side. Passengers have gathered on the other side. Almost everyone is wearing a life vest or they're in the process of putting on a life vest.

We also see the moment when a lot of these passengers made the decision to go ahead and jump ship. Eventually, nearly all 140 passengers had to jump into the ocean. They had to be rescued.

Here now are some of the passengers describing what it was like during this entire ordeal and what it was like waiting for other boaters in the area to come out the rescue them. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KELLY SCHISSEL, PASSENGER ON FERRY THAT CAPSIZED: So, we all jump in and it was actually pretty rough waves. So, a lot of people didn't - they were just trying to stay above water, even with their life vests on.

MARK KAZEMIER, PASSENGER ON FERRY THAT CAPSIZED: Either the captain of the boat wasn't trained properly or he didn't - he didn't know what to do once the - once he took on water.

To me they had enough life vests, but they were all small. I mean they -- when I had mine on, it - it was barely enough to keep me floating above water.


SUAREZ: All right, so I spoke to Kelley yesterday, who told me that she is doing OK.


John, a 74-year-old woman from Colorado we're told was found unresponsive. She was pulled out of the ocean. And Bahamian officials said that she died. We're told that two other passengers were also taken to a hospital in the Bahamas and that they're expected to be OK. It is still unclear at this hour exactly why this ferry began taking on water. Again, this journey began on one of these islands, was making its way to a private island when all of this happened. But as you noted, Bahamian officials have essentially suspended this - the commercial licensing - the license for this ferry system considering the investigation that has to play out now.

BERMAN: Yes, look, what a tragedy. And how terrifying that video is as you can see just the boat listing into the water there.

All right, Carlos Suarez, thank you very much for that.


SIDNER: All right, thank you, John.

We're following breaking news for you at this hour. A motion to expel Republican Congressman George Santos has now been filed. Where will it end?

We will be right back.