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Special Counsel Now Using California Grand Jury In Hunter Biden Probe, Indicates New Charges Possible; House Ethics Chair Introduces Resolution To Expel Santos; Sources: In Hostage Negotiations, Hamas Demands Israel Stop Flying Surveillance Drones Over Gaza; Sean "Diddy" Combs Accused Of Rape By Ex-Girlfriend; Iceland On Edge, Volcanic Eruption May Be Imminent. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 17, 2023 - 13:30   ET



ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And so it's a common crime. And certainly, obviously, there are financial irregularities that he might be charged with here.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Why would the grand jury want to hear from President Biden's brother, James?

WILLIAMS: It's just hard to know what they have and what they have access to.

As a general matter, when building a case, individuals that someone might have dealt with on a professional or personal level and can speak to their conversations or contact with the defendant, or the target, pardon me, will have something to say.

You know, we haven't seen what grand jury has seen --


WILLIAMS: -- and what they're -- were they in some sort of financial relationship with each other or is it merely just describing the inside of Hunter Biden's house? Which is what you could call somebody to do in a grand jury. I don't have the answer.

BROWN: It is significant because this is the president's brother --


BROWN: -- and his son, right?


BROWN: I mean, it's not every day that this happens.

WILLIAMS: It's not every day that this happens. I mean, there's no indication to suggest that the president himself is involved in any of this.

But look, as a human matter, as a political matter, as a personal matter, whenever individuals around somebody are brought into a grand jury, it's cause for alarm.

And this was to Evan's point. In order to even get into there, there has to be at least some evidence of some kind. That doesn't mean you can convict the individual or charge them with a crime ultimately. But it is alarming.

BROWN: Right. With a grand jury, it's not hard to bring an indictment.

WILLIAMS: Not hard to bring an indictment. And again, once you bring an indictment, you still have to get it to a jury and prove that beyond a reasonable doubt, which is a high burden.

All it means is they have evidence. People are still innocent or at least not guilty until charged and convicted of a crime. And you just have to let the process play out, Pamela.

BROWN: That's some very important context.

All right, thank you so much, Elliot. Appreciate it.


BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Disgraced Congressman George Santos is one step closer to being kicked out of Congress. Today, the House Ethics chairman introducing a resolution to expel the New York Republican.

And this is coming one day after the Ethics Committee released a damming report on its investigation into Santos, concluding that he sought to fraudulently exploit every aspect of his House candidacy for his own personal financial profit.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is live for us on Capitol Hill.

All right, explain the significance of this because it is pretty significant. And also the timeline we might be seeing here.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes. George Santos is at a real risk of being removed from Congress, which would be unprecedented. It would be a dramatic step and very rare here on Capitol Hill.

Past efforts to expel him have failed. Those were led by Democrats and then led by a group of vulnerable New York Republicans.

But now, having the weight of the House Ethics Committee and also the damming report behind it signals this is actually going to grow momentum, which we have already seen.

Meanwhile, the new speaker, Mike Johnson, is essentially giving members the green light to vote their conscience on this vote.

I want to read you part of the statement from Johnson's spokesman.

He said, "The speaker has reviewed the report and its very troubling findings. "As members from both parties, members of the Ethics Committee and

Representative Santos return to Congress after this Thanksgiving break, Speaker Johnson encourages all involved to consider the best interest of the institution as this matter is addressed further."

We are expecting action sometime after the Thanksgiving break. And like I said, we have already seen signs of support growing inside the GOP for this effort.

Since the report was released yesterday, we have already seen over a dozen new Republicans come out and say they would back expulsion after previously voting against it. And we could see more to come -- Brianna?

KEILAR: All right, Melanie Zanona, with the very latest there on the Hill, thank you for that.


And still to come, a former girlfriend of Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Cassie, is suing the musician, accusing him of rape and abuse. We'll have more on that and his response just ahead.



BROWN: This just into CNN. Sources tell CNN that Hamas has demanded that Israel stop flying surveillance drones over Gaza as part of Hamas' request that Israel pause its operations in exchange for freeing hostages.

CNN chief national security correspondent, Alex Marquardt, joins us now.

What are we learning about this?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pam, these are, obviously, incredibly intense negotiations. We're trying to figure out how close another release of hostages could be.

And one of the things we've just learned, one of the demands that Hamas has for the Israeli side is that, as part of a pause -- they're looking for a multiday pause in the military operations -- and as part of that pause, that Israel would agree to stop flying drones over Gaza.

Every hour of every day, Israel has countless surveillance drones flying all over the Gaza Strip. They fly really low. For people on the ground, you can hear them buzzing above.

And they're absolutely critical to Israel's operations because they are able to track Hamas militants. They're trying to see whatever they can to find out where some of these hostages are being held.

In fact, the U.S. has also contributed drones as a part of that same effort.

So this is a big demand by Hamas. It is unlikely that Israel would give up that capacity because it is very significant.

So this plays into the parameters of these hostage negotiations as we understand them. And the way -- where it stands, Pam, is we understand the Israelis want a large group of these hostages to be released, somewhere around the order of 50, we understand.

And Hamas, they also want people released from Israeli prisons but they also want a multiday pause, a stop to this fighting.


And this is the latest thing that we've learned, that Hamas is also asking these drones stop flying above the Gaza Strip. It's unclear whether Israel has rejected that demand or whether it's still on the table.

BROWN: Right. Because, for Israel's part, we know there's a lot of concern that if there was a ceasefire, that Hamas has acted not in good faith in the past with ceasefires, right?

And so the idea of pulling drones, if there was a short ceasefire, as Netanyahu said he would be open to, would probably be --

MARQUARDT: The major worry by Israel is that if Hamas is given too much time, they can rest, recuperate, get ready for the next round of fighting.

What Israel has been saying is, in order to give you these days of pause, you really need to release a large number of prisoners.

There are also other factors that Hamas has been asking for, not just the release of Palestinians. And this is primarily, Pam, on both sides, women and children that we're talking about, not men and not fighters.

But Hamas has also been asking for things like more trucks of aid, more fuel to go into Gaza. So there are all kinds of elements that are playing into these incredibly intense negotiations.

BROWN: And now it's even more tense with, you have two hostages recently found dead.


BROWN: A newborn now according to the first lady of Israel to Joe Biden, saying a hostage gave birth. So I mean, it's just -- it's getting more complicated by the day.

But thanks for bringing this new reporting to us, Alex.

We'll be right back.



KEILAR: All right. Rap mogul and grammy award-winning artist, Sean Combs, known as "Diddy," formerly known as "P. Diddy," is facing sexual assault and rape allegations in a lawsuit filed by a former girlfriend, a long-time girlfriend.

Cassandra Ventura, an R&B singer that goes by "Cassie," alleges Combs used his power and influence over her throughout her professional and -- throughout their professional and personal relationship and subjected her to years of sexual abuse and violence.

His attorney calls the lawsuit baseless and says that Combs vehemently denies her allegations.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live with more details on this.

Omar, tell us what we know.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. What we're learning is actually the New York Police Department says they don't have an active investigation against Diddy. And that's important because that would potentially give us clues into any criminal investigation here.

These accusations that are coming from his former girlfriend are on the civil side and at the federal level. And they are very serious allegations.

Among them, she says that Diddy was physically violent toward her, controlled all aspects of her life. Also forced her into sex trafficking acts.

And that when she tried to leave him in 2018, he forced his way into her home and raped her. Those are part of her allegations.

Now you're showing just a little bit of some of the statement that she's put out to this point.

But she said that, "After years in silence and darkness, I am 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, as you can imagine, folks from Diddy's camp, lawyers in particular, saying that these claims are just completely outrageous.

And as part of their statement, they said that:

"For the past six months, Mr. Combs, Diddy, 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 they first met back in 2005 when she was 19, and he was 37. She says it wasn't long after that, that she was introduced, as she says, through Diddy, to a lifestyle that included substance abuse, excessive drinking, effects of which she still feels today.

So we're talking about more than a decade from that period over to 2018 that she feels like, based on what she says happened, Diddy should be held accountable for.

KEILAR: Yes. She's alleging a tremendous amount of sexual and physical abuse.

And the timing here is important, Omar. There is a window that is closing for alleged victims to come forward there. Tell us about that.

JIMENEZ: That's right. So this is a statute, or an issue that came through from Governor Kathy Hochul in New York last year, and it is the New York Adult Survivor's Act.

Essentially, what that did was that it opened it up for adult survivors of abuse to come forward with their stories, regardless of any statute of limitations that may have affected their case.

That went into effect last year but it was a year total. So next week is when that act expires. And so, in that regard, getting this out there was incredibly crucial when you look at that timeline.

KEILAR: Yes, and she says that in the filing as well, as she's talking about this.

Omar, thank you for the very latest. We appreciate it.


And when we come back, on edge in Iceland. Some residents there being allowed back in their homes for only essential items as they brace for a possible volcanic eruption that's already causing roads to buckle. Stay with us.


BROWN: Well, the earth is literally cracking apart in Iceland. In the southwestern part of the country, there have been tens of thousands of earthquakes since late October.

So the question is, why is that? A nine-mile-long river of underground magma. The big question, when and will that magma make an appearance above the earth's surface?

CNN's Chad Myers is covering this for us.

Walk us through exactly what's happening here, Chad. CHAD MYERS, AMS CERTIFIED METEOROLOGIST: Yes. You know what? For the

same reason that we have an Iceland in the first place, which is the magma underground coming to the surface, making the islands where they are. Now we're beginning to tear it apart.


The magma is still moving here, moving toward the ocean. And Grindavik, the town there, is truly in the way. Up and down motion here from Grindavik. This is what it looks like here. Almost three feet of rise on one side of the city and then more, down to the bottom, lowering on the other side of the city.

Here's the magma flow right through the city itself. That's why residents here have been going back and forth with police escorts every once in a while when things calm down to go get personal items.

It's right along a fault line, just as you would expect. This is why this is happening at all.

Thousands of earthquakes as you said, tens of thousands since the beginning. Many so small you can't feel them.

But if you go on to YouTube and type in "Iceland Multiview," you can actually see four different screens of four different pictures of Iceland live and sometimes you see those cameras shaking. Sometimes it's wind but many of the times it's not.

There is no change to the hazard right now. Even, though, we've had tens of thousands of earthquakes, only three in the past hour.

Are things settling down or kind of getting pressurized? There's no way to tell. The assessment has not changed. There is nothing here to the hazard assessment that says we're good, because really we're not good.

Here's what's happened. Part of Grindavik has gone up and part of Grindavik has gone down. The red area you see here on the east side of Grindavik itself has gone up about two feet, but the blue side over here has gone down about two feet.

And this is the problem. That whole city is beginning to shift one way or the other, and this is happening simply because the magma is moving underground.

Something else that could happen is that it could shoot all the way out into the ocean and that eruption or that lava flow could be underwater.

A lot of things, a lot of moving parts. Really, the people are just waiting it out. I've seen quotes saying, "This is like watching a really boring movie, but we're not in our houses to do it."

BROWN: No. That's quite the analogy.

All right, Chad Myers, thanks so much. We'll be right back.