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Ex-Girlfriend Sues "Diddy" Combs, Says She Was Raped & Abused; Refugees Detail Ethnic Cleansing In Darfur; SpaceX Delays Second Starship Test Launch. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 17, 2023 - 11:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, CNN has learned that the NYPD, the New York Police Department, is not actively investigating Hip Hop mogul Sean Combs after an ex-girlfriend accused him of rape, sex trafficking, and years of abuse. R&B singer Cassie Ventura has filed a federal lawsuit against Combs saying he controlled her personal life, forced her to have sex with other men, among other things. Combs' attorney calls the lawsuit baseless and says his client vehemently denies the accusations.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is here reporting on this. Omar, what are you hearing?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, at this point, as you mentioned, the NYPD not actively investigating Diddy, as far as we know. According to two law enforcement sources, they just don't have a complaint on file again, as of now. And this complaint that we're talking about is a federal civil complaint. And in this, this is when Cassie alleges that over the more than a -- over a more than a decade period that he was physically abusive. That he would force her into sex trafficking act. Controlled every aspect of her life.


Even in 2018, she alleges that when she tried to break up with him, did he force his way into her home and raped her. Now, they first met in 2005. She was 19. He was 37.

And she says it was around then that she became engrossed, again she alleges because of him in this lifestyle of heavy drug use and alcohol use that she says she still feels the effects of today. And I want to read you a little bit of a statement that she put out saying 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.

BERMAN: How's Combs responding to all of this?

JIMENEZ: Well, as you can imagine, they are completely denying what has come out so far. Even going so far as to call these claims outrageous. And to give you an idea, I'll read part of their statement that for the past six months, Mr. Combs has been subjected to Miss 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, Miss Ventura has now resorted to filing a lawsuit riddled with baseless and outrageous lies aiming to tarnish Mr. Combs' reputation and seeking a payday.

Now, she is seeking unspecified monetary damages as part of this. But when you look at just the scope and the breadth of the allegations that are here, she clearly feels that based on what she says happened, she wants Diddy to be held accountable.

BERMAN: He denies over their shocking allegations.


BERMAN: Omar Jimenez, thank you very much. Kate?

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: A new warning from authorities in Iceland today about the real and probable threat of a volcanic eruption. Thousands of tremors have already shaken the region. Officials are right now allowing residents of one evacuated town in the south to quickly return home, but only to retrieve belongings before having to get out once again.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is tracking this one for us. He joins us now. Derek, what are you hearing about the probability of the risk, and you can see what these tremors have done already there in those towns?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, those many earthquakes are actually a direct result of a corridor of magma that is flowing underneath the town of Grindavik in Southwestern Iceland. And get this. It has dropped portions of the town by upwards of three feet or one meter.

You can see that in this imagery below. But it really begs the question. Why in the world would, as magma pushes towards the surface of the earth, actually allow for the ground to drop like that?

Well, it turns out that as the magma flows underneath the town of Grindavik, it is actually approaching the surface and stretching the Earth's crust. And as a result, the ground above actually thins. And eventually, we start to get that sinking motion in the ground, known as a ground deformation or a drop by upwards of three feet.

And it's just incredible to see that. And what's even more incredible is that satellites have actually been able to detect this from as far away as space. You're looking at a satellite image.

This is actually the town of Grindavik here. You can see the street grid there. And that shading of purple indicates anywhere from one meter or more, roughly three feet, of a drop in the ground.

This is just absolutely incredible. You line it up, you can see that corridor of magma flowing right under the tunnel Grindavik. They are worried that lava will start to spew out of that particular brock -- breaking the ground, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Wow. It's great to see you, Derek.


BERMAN: Thank you for that. Sara?

VAN DAM: Yes. Thank you.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Well, that's terrifying. All right, the countdown for lunch is on. These are live pictures of SpaceX. It is set to make a second attempt to launch its Starship tomorrow morning. Details on why this mission is so critical for both SpaceX, and it turns out for NASA as well. We'll be back.



SIDNER: You don't hear much about this. But for months now, a brutal war has been raging in Sudan. And with it, reports of potential war crimes.

CNN's chief international investigative correspondent, Nima Elbagir is from Sudan. And she's hearing some of these accusations against the paramilitary group known as RSF, firsthand. Here is some of her incredible exclusive reporting.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): One by one, survivors come forward wanting to share to document what has happened to them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I held my 5-year-old brother and ran with him to the mosque. The RSF chased us shooting at us. A bullet hit my brother's head.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The RSF said, leave these ones. We will find better ones to sell. These ones let's rape them.

ELBAGIR (voiceover): Textbook ethnic cleansing. These are the hallmarks of genocide. We interviewed over a dozen survivors and eyewitnesses who witnessed the abduction of at least 200 other girls. Through their testimony, we were able to pinpoint key neighborhoods in Al Geneina, where civilians were targeted and where women were being sold from slave houses. Places like El Jebel, El Hilah and Al Jazirah dormitory where survivors say they counted 75 girls abducted in one fell swoop. There is no way safe in Al Geneina.


SIDNER: That is just a portion of the incredible reporting that we have been seeing from Nima Elbagir. This Sunday, this will air on the "WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER," her special. She is with us now. You -- this is so deeply personal, in part because this is your birthplace. But to hear these stories, can you give us some examples of just how you got to people because it's dangerous in and of itself going in?


ELBAGIR (on camera): We actually crossed into Sudan from South Sudan, which meant that we were crossing essentially the entire width of the country. And unfortunately, complicating matters further was the fact that our previous investigation which implicated the RSF, with Russia's Wagner group in exploiting Sudan's gold resources had resulted in an indictment against me. So, it was -- it was challenging.

I wouldn't recommend it necessarily. But we were able to get so much out of that. And then we essentially had to fly out and fly to Chad because, in Darfur where those survivors are from, the RSF has -- have essentially besieged it. And the ones that you -- that you saw in that clip were the lucky few who had been able to escape with their lives.

And I have to say. I've been doing this for so long. You have as well. You have so many awful stories, but the descriptions that the survivors gave us about the humiliation and the enslavement and the devastation, I -- yes, they were -- they were very difficult to hear. And I imagine infinitely more difficult to actually experience.

SIDNER: And you heard stories of ethnic cleansing that has been going on. Can you give us some sense of really what has stuck with you?

ELBAGIR: The -- just the fact that this current situation in Darfur it has all the hallmarks of genocide, but it will -- it will be if it is proven to be genocide, the second genocide to happen to same people in the same region just within this century. And I guess you have to ask, who is to blame? And I think it is the world for looking away.

SIDNER: You know, I was going to bring that up that this is -- you know, we talk a lot at nausea about Ukraine, and, of course, the Israeli-Hamas war that has just exploded. But we don't -- and this is somewhat our fault. We don't talk enough about what has been happening for so long in Sudan. I know that you also got a chance to speak with your family. What happened there? What were you hearing from them?

ELBAGIR: So, my family -- my parents actually were caught in a district very close to the Nile. So, very strategic for the RSF and for the battle for Khartoum. And complicating matters further.

Initially, they absolutely refused to evacuate because they themselves are journalists. And the idea of leaving their country in this current circumstance, we eventually got them to agree, and they are in Cairo now.


ELBAGIR: And you know, we talk so much about the -- about the stories, about refugees, about displacement, but really, I think until you have lived it with your family, that sense of uncertainty, the lack of a home, a place. Now, my father was saying to me, how long do you think this will take? Because where will you bury us if we die here? And I think those are the things that eat away at you, to be forced from your home, and to not know when you can come back.

SIDNER: But I tell you what. Seeing you and your family laugh, and knowing the work that you've been doing, it was such a beautiful moment in this horrible chaos. To see that was beautiful, but they must be incredibly proud of you. I know we are. We cannot wait to see the special. Thank you so much, Nima.

ELBAGIR: Thank you, Sara.

SIDNER: All right. Kate.

BOLDUAN: Coming up still for us. SpaceX is getting a second chance at a big launch. But this is just as the company's owner is now being condemned by the White House, and many more for promoting an antisemitic conspiracy theory.

And later, there's new reporting on President Biden's campaign strategy. How he plans to take on Donald Trump now and why it's being described to CNN as the gloves are coming off? We'll be back.



BERMAN: All right, just in. The White House says that Elon Musk's tweet endorsing an antisemitic conspiracy theory is "unacceptable" and "of horrid promotion of antisemitic and racist hate." Musk forwarded a white supremacist's theory that Jewish communities push hatred against whites.

So, while that's going on, Musk's test launch of the SpaceX Starship Rocket has been pushed back at least one day. Back in April, the first test launch -- test launch it exploded. It just blew up as the whole world watched.

CNN's space and defense correspondent Kristin Fisher is with us now with the latest on this. So, push back a day, Kristin. What does that mean? What's it going up?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE & DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it was delayed a day due to a piece of the rocket that's called the grid-thin actuator. It's a part of the rocket that's used to kind of steer the rocket booster as it makes its way back down to Earth. No official word from the company yet that it has indeed been fixed. But if you can see the rocket behind me, you can see it is now in its fully stacked configuration, which is the configuration that is needed for it to fly. So, all signs are pointing to a launch -- a second test flight of the Starship Rocket tomorrow morning at 8:00 a.m. Eastern Time.

And as you mentioned, this is going to be the second test flight. The first one back in April ended in an explosion as we all saw. And John, I got to say, there is a very real chance that this test flight tomorrow is going to end in an explosion too.

Because this is what SpaceX likes to do. They like to push their rocket to the very limit to see how it responds, see how it reacts. That's how they will learn. It's part of what they call their iterative design process. So, we'll see.


But that first explosion back in April caused some major concerns with the FAA's safety concerns about the flight termination system. It triggered a Fish and Wildlife Service investigation due to possible dangers to endangered species that live in the area. That investigation wrapped up just two days ago. So, this launch now happening seven months after that first test flight.

And when this rocket lifts off, remember, it is the biggest, most powerful rocket ever to fly, SpaceX is going to be watching to see if its improvements and designs have worked. And then of course, John, NASA is going to be watching to see how it does because this rocket is absolutely critical to NASA's Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon in 2025. And there's a real concern if this doesn't work, that China could beat NASA back to the lunar surface, John.

BERMAN: Yes, they do need rockets that will not blow up. Kristin Fisher, thank you so much for being there for us.

SIDNER: Too much when you have to have to be like, oh, I'm losing. I'm going to blow it up. I know it's going to blow up on its flight.

BERMAN: It's a little bit of P.R. saying oh, no, we want it to blow up.

SIDNER: I think you were right. You're right -- you're right. You were right.

BERMAN: I think, generally speaking, not a good thing when a rocket blows up.

SIDNER: OK. All right. "INSIDE POLITICS" is up next.