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Appeals Court Hearing on Trump Gag Order in Election Case; 28Babies Evacuated from Al-Shifa Arrive in Egypt; Tributes, Remembrances Pour in for Rosalynn Carter. Aired 10-10:30a ET

Aired November 20, 2023 - 10:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: This hour, a violation of free speech or necessary protections for potential witnesses, that's the question now at a hearing over the gag order in the Trump's federal election subversion case.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN ANCHOR: And some of the smallest victims of war are now safe in Egypt as Israel takes CNN to the embattled hospital in Gaza they were evacuated from.

BOLDUAN: Remembering Rosalynn Carter, the first lady who redefined the role and a love story that spanned nearly eight decades.

I'm Kate Bolduan with Omar Jimenez. John and Sara are off today. This is CNN News Central.

So, will Donald Trump soon be allowed to say a whole lot more about the crimes that he is charged with? That is a central question in the fight playing out today in an appeals court over the gag order against Trump in the federal elections subversion case.

Trump's legal team is saying and arguing in court that this gag order violates his First Amendment rights and hurts his ability to campaign for president. But the judge in this case has said that Trump can't say just whatever he wants, especially when it comes to targeting court staff, potential witnesses and Special Counsel Jack Smith.

CNN's Evan Perez is outside of the courthouse. He is joining us once again. Evan, what are we going to see playing out? What arguments are they going to be making?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, right now, Donald Trump's attorney, John Sauer is having a bit of a hard time with this three-judge panel who are pushing back on some of the arguments that he is making.

Look, right now, the Trump team has argued that the fact that he is a political candidate, the fact that he is frankly leading in the polls means that his speech should not be curtailed by the judge, by the government ahead of the trial, which is supposed to take place here at this federal courthouse in March. And so they are challenging this gag order from Judge Tanya Chutkan on the premise that his First Amendment speech trumps anything else that might be a concern from prosecutors and the court.

But right now, Sauer in court kind of diverted from his argument. He, in answers to some questions from the judges, has said that it shouldn't matter whether he is a political candidate, that the First Amendment really protects all of his political speech. So, whether he had declared for his candidacy for president should not matter.

As a matter fact, he is also pointing out, he is also saying that the judge made a mistake, because some of the threats that are associated with Donald Trump's speech, some of the things that he does, his attacks on people, those are three years old. He's saying there's nothing recent to really call for the judge to have this restriction.

Of course, that is not true. We know that just in August, for instance, there was a man who was charged with making threats to the federal judge in this case. We have seen additional security at this courthouse for prosecutors, for the judge in this case, specifically because of the former president's penchant for making attacks against people associated with these cases.

So, what Sauer is arguing right now is facing a very tough test from these judges who seem skeptical that they can't have any restriction on the former president simply because he is running for office.

Right now, I should point out that restriction is lifted because the court, the appeals court is hearing this argument, and we have seen just in the last few days, Kate, that the former president has taken full advantage of that. He has spent the weekend making attacks against Jack Smith and his family at his political rallies.



BOLDUAN: All right. Evan, keep us updated. Things are playing out, as we speak.

JIMENEZ: So, let's talk more about how this could play out. Elie Honig is a CNN senior legal analyst and former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

Elie, obviously, this hearing is ongoing right now. And Trump's attorney thinks the gag order would be unconstitutional. And the judge seems to be hitting on a dynamic that's important here. The judge saying you think the outcome should be exactly the same whether or not there's a political campaign underway, to which Trump's attorney replied, yes. So, bottom line, all that, do you think this is getting upheld here?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: I do, if I have to predict. I think the court of appeals will uphold the gag order, because it's really important to understand this is not just a yes or no. This is not just can Donald Trump talk about the case or not. The actual gag order that's in dispute here is quite narrow. The district judge, the trial judge, Judge Chutkan, I think, wisely rejected DOJ's original proposal. DOJ originally came to her and said, we want to prevent Donald Trump from saying anything disparaging about anyone with anything to do with the case. That's too broad.

And the district judge properly recognized that. Instead, she's issued a very narrow ruling that just says, you can't talk about court staff. You can't talk about the specific attorneys and their staff. And you can't talk about, in a way, that targets a potential witness in this case. But anything else, according to the gag order, is okay. You can criticize DOJ. You can criticize the Biden administration. You can say you're innocent. You can say these charges are bogus.

And so I think when the court of appeals looks at that, they're going to say it properly balances the First Amendment interest Donald Trump has with the need to protect the proceedings.

JIMENEZ: And in the Trump case universe right now on the state civil side here in New York, the judge initially issued a gag order that was lifted in some ways by the appeals court. Obviously, state civil different than federal criminal, but does that decision inform anything that we could see here?

HONIG: Well, this one in the New York State case is even more narrow. This one, all the judge has said is, you can't talk about my staff. You can't talk about the clerk. So, to me, it's even more narrow, and I think that one is likely to survive as well. But, again, it's the same considerations.

But Donald Trump does have a right to speak and to speak in a negative way about the charges against him. You can criticize the judge. You can criticize a prosecutor. I was criticized in public by people who had prosecuted plenty of times. Sometimes you have to just take it. But the most important thing to guard here are victims, witnesses, your jury pool, and your staff.

JIMENEZ: And I want to talk about something that is separate but related because there are legal efforts. We saw in jurisdictions across the country attempts to use the 14th Amendment, which essentially bars an elected official who participated in an insurrection from serving in office. We've seen those efforts fail. Do you think it's done damage or just bring me in here?

HONIG: I think the people who have been pushing for Trump to be barred under the 14th Amendment need to acknowledge that it's over. It's just over. They're not going to win. They've now lost court cases in five different states. They've lost when they tried to get every secretary of state of individual states to throw Trump off the ballot on the 14th Amendment.

The fundamental problem here is, yes, the 14th Amendment says if someone engages in an insurrection, they're disqualified. The problem is we don't have a procedure. The amendment itself says Congress has to pass laws to tell us how this works. In 150 years, Congress has not passed any such laws. And what's not working is this effort to make up some procedure now and then apply it backwards. And that's why I think we've seen Democratic secretaries of state, Jocelyn Benson in Michigan, Republican secretaries of state, Brad Raffensberger in Georgia, a guy knows something about insurrection, he's been on the short end of an insurrection, they've all said, no, sorry, we can't do it.

Then the 14th Amendment, people tried to go to the courts. They've now lost these five cases. I think they're doing more harm than good to their effort here, because, in a way, they're playing right into Trump's hands, they're playing right into this narrative of they're trying to knock me out through the courts, they're trying to deprive people of a chance to even vote for me at the ballot box.

JIMENEZ: And one of the things we've seen Trump arguing is that he has a constitutional right to defend himself of sorts. Really quickly before we go, where is that line between being a defendant and actually being a candidate who's running for president?

HONIG: Yes. So, Trump isn't saying that -- back to the gag orders here. He's saying, well, because I'm running for president, I sort of have an extra right to political speech. And the Constitution does give highest priority to what we call political speech, whether it's people protesting at the Supreme Court, protesting in Congress, and candidates themselves. I actually think he's right that, as a candidate, and this applies to any candidate, not just Donald Trump, but you do have a heightened First Amendment right. But still, I think the gag orders, both of them that we've been talking about, are narrow enough that they still respect that right.

JIMENEZ: Well, this hearing ongoing, we're going to see what comes out of it. Elie Honig thinks, as always. Good to see you.

BOLDUAN: This morning, the first group of newborn babies who were evacuated from Gaza are now receiving care in Egypt. We're showing you now video of them arriving in Egypt, dozens of ambulances and medical staff, the incubators ready at the Rafah crossing to transport them.

It's been a difficult and dangerous evacuation. According to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, several babies died before aid workers were able to evacuate them.


JIMENEZ: Now, the IDF this morning is releasing new video footage they say shows two Hamas hostages arriving at this same hospital on October 7th, the day of the terror attacks. And CNN just spent about six hours here getting a firsthand look at the tunnel shaft Israel says proves Hamas was running operations there.

CNN's Oren Liebermann joins us now in Tel Aviv. So, Oren, tell us about your trip. You traveled to Al-Shifa. But what did you see?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, as you point out, we had six hours inside of Gaza. We crossed the border fence at about 9:00 at night and didn't come out until 3:00 in the morning. So, the entire time we were there, it was obviously the darkness of night, but also the darkness of Gaza City, which was the focus of our visit, not having power.

The main purpose was to see the exposed tunnel shaft that the IDF had unveiled only a day or two earlier, see what we could see with our own eyes and learn or try to understand what was underneath. Take a look.


LIEBERMANN (voice over): We go in under cover of darkness. And as we cross the border fence, it's lights out across the Gaza Strip. Escorted by a tank, we switch into an armored personnel carrier for the final stretch. Even through a night vision screen, you can see the magnitude of the destruction on the streets of Gaza City.

We offload at the Al-Shifa Hospital, pick our way along Ibn Sina Street, or what's left of it. We have to keep our lights off most of the time or risk exposing our position.

CNN reported from Gaza under Israel Defense Forces escort at all times. As a condition for journalists to join this embed with the IDF, media outlets must submit footage filmed in Gaza to the Israeli military censors for review.

Now, at the hospital compound, we wait inside a structure to make sure the area is secure before moving the short distance to the exposed tunnel shaft.

And here is the entrance. You can see what looks like a ladder access into it. And as I step over here, it's very difficult to see how far down it goes but it looks like there's almost a central shaft for a staircase and then the shaft of it disappears then down into the darkness.

We move around the opening for a better look at the shaft itself. What's clear from here is this is meant to go deep underground.

Which direction does the tunnel go?

MAJ. NIR DINAR, SPOKESPERSON, IDF: We assume that the tunnel goes out and it has another corridor to this way.

LIEBERMANN: Towards the hospital?

DINAR: Towards the hospital. Meaning it connects the hospital to outside, which implies with the way that Hamas is working. Hamas is going out somewhere, shooting at our forces and going back inside to a safe place.

LIEBERMANN: We weren't allowed to enter the shaft, but the Israeli military sent special gear down to see where this leads. Inside, the video shows a spiral staircase, and as the camera orients itself, it moves forward into a tunnel. The tunnel makes a sharp left turn and at the end of another path, with concrete walls and an arched concrete top, a metal door they say they have not yet opened because they fear it's booby-trapped. IDF spokesman Admiral Daniel Hagari says some of the Israeli hostages

taken on October 7th were also brought through the hospital. He says the body of Noa Marciano was discovered 50 meters from the compound.

REAR ADM. DANIEL HAGARI, SPOKESPERSON, IDF: We have evidence that they were holding hostages in Rantisi, but also we have evidence that they were bringing them to Shifa Hospital. We're still looking for the places they might have held them.

This is not proof of a Hamas command center or headquarters underneath the hospital but Israel continues trying to build its case that Hamas uses the sanctuary of the hospital for cover, which Hamas and hospital officials have denied.

The IDF's ability to continue its operation in Gaza and the credibility of Israel are at stake here as the number killed in the fighting surpasses 12,000, according to the Hamas-run Ministry of Health. The IDF says one of its missions is to destroy Hamas. But with international criticism mounting, Israel has to show the terror organization is using Gaza's civilians and infrastructure as cover to justify an ongoing war.


LIEBERMANN (on camera): Now, we couldn't see how deep the tunnel shaft itself went. It was simply too dark. And there wasn't a great angle to see the depth of the shaft. But the IDF says it goes down 10 meters, so about 33 feet or so, and then the tunnel itself continues for another 55 meters, more than 150 feet, before it reaches that metal door. Kate, obviously an incredibly important question, what's on the other side of that door, and are there more tunnels down there? If so, how many, and where do they lead?

JIMENEZ: And, of course, or even with what you saw there, still so many questions, as you mentioned, as you phrase it, as they continue to build their case there. Oren Lieberman, thank you.

BOLDUAN: Now, for more on that first group of newborns we've talked to you about evacuated from Al-Shifa Hospital and now in Egypt getting care, let's get over to CNN's Eleni Giokos. She's more detail on this from Cairo.

Eleni, how are the babies doing now? What's the very latest that you're hearing?

ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, you see the images of how they delicately move to the Rafah border and onto the Egyptian side, to the ambulances, where they have incubators and ventilators to get the medical attention that they need.


But before that, it was absolute chaos. We just heard the reports in terms of what's going on in and around Al-Shifa Hospital. That's where they were essentially trapped, and then making the move down to the Emirati Hospital in Rafah to get stabilized and then finally through into Egypt.

The WHO says that 11 of the babies are critical, that they're all fighting infection, because of just the harrowing critical conditions that they were dealing with in Al-Shifa Hospital with no oxygen, with no medical supplies, no clean water, we're hearing no milk. One of the mothers that spoke to us said that the conditions were so bad that there was no milk and that her premature baby was basically taken back to what she calls zero (ph), in other words, very difficult conditions. And she also says that these babies were trapped and just caught in the middle of this war, that they are innocent.

They received emergency care to stabilize them at the Emirati Hospital before they were moved into Egypt. Look, the Egyptians have been waiting for over a week now for the babies to enter the country, and they've been waiting with a lot of supplies at the border, and they'd be disappointed every single day when the babies weren't arriving because it was just so difficult to create that safe passage out of Al-Shifa.

In terms of where they are right now, we understand that they've been moved to hospitals inside of Egypt. Some of the most critical conditions will be moved here to Cairo and then we also know that so many of them are underweight.

When we say 28 babies case, only 4 parents were accompanying those 28 babies and 6 nurses. So now the questions arise. Where are the parents and the family members? What have become of them and what is the fate of these children? I guess that their lives have been so defined by this war.

But priority is to try and get them stabilized and healthy and they're here in Egypt to get that medical attention.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Eleni, thank you so much for the update.

JIMENEZ: Coming up, we are remembering the incredible life and legacy of Rosalynn Carter as the world mourn its loss of the former first lady.

Plus, President Biden turns 81 years old today. Politically, how big of an issue is age for him among voters? We've got new poll members.

And Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin makes a surprise visit to Ukraine. What's behind the move, ahead.



BOLDUAN: A great humanitarian and a woman of dignity and strength. This is just some of the ways that former First Lady Rosalynn Carter is being remembered this morning. She passed away yesterday at the age of 96.

Today, new details are being revealed of the funeral and memorial plans to honor her all set to take place next week. The public will be able to pay their respects at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library in Atlanta before Mrs. Carter is laid to rest in Plains, Georgia.

Let's talk more about what the legacy and that decades-long love story now with Stanly Godbold. He's the author most recently of Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter, Power and Human Rights, 1975-2020. It's great to have you here.

You've studied the lives of the Carters for over two decades. Can you tell me the impact that you see that they've had together as a couple and also that Rosalynn herself had specifically?

E. STANLY GODBOLD JR., AUTHOR, JIMMY AND ROSALYNN CARTER, POWER AND HUMAN RIGHTS, 1975-2020: Yes, thank you for that question, because it's the best question to try to understand Rosalynn Carter. When I started my research in 1988, I was going to write a short essay about Carter as a writer (ph). Then I realized that the more I worked on Carter, that Rosalynn was everywhere. I could not study Carter without studying Rosalynn. They are equal partners, as they have said many times.

Their marriage was almost a teenage marriage. She was 18, he was 21. She was very bright, both of them were. She was very bright, valedictorian in her class. She was ambitious. In high school, she looked at maps. She read travel books. And interestingly enough, on one occasion when she was a teenager, she dreamed of becoming an airline pilot. Obviously, she had ambitions to get far beyond planes.

This is an interesting love story. The love story part of it, of course, is very real, a teenage marriage that lasted for 77 years. But theirs is also a professional relationship that is probably unique, especially among presidents and first ladies.

She married him when he was still in the Navy, immediately left planes, became a young Navy wife. She had to be independent. When he was out to sea, she ran the family budget. She made her friends. She raised three young sons often by herself when he was away. So, she developed a fierce sense of independence.

And when they went into politics, she always supported him. She was a great politician. She said she loved politics.


She was a great campaigner. She spent a lot of time on the trail, both when he ran for governor and especially when he ran for president. She supported him, she helped him, but she always maintained her independence.

And in all of those interviews they gave when they had their 75th wedding anniversary, he and she both said the usual things about marrying the right person, being in love and so forth, but she always added that the secret to their good long marriage was space. She had her own space. She needed her own space, Carter encouraged it. He recognized it.

And so what happened with her, she had two careers. She had a career as the candidate spouse, the president spouse, and at the same time, she was a liberated woman with her own career.

As we know much of it became an advocate for mental health, both in the governor's mansion and in the White House and in the post- presidency. But so much of that she did on her own. She frequently traveled on her own, independent of him. On one famous occasion, of course, she was his ambassador to Latin America with the authority of the president.

And I'm trying to add a few things.

BOLDUAN: No. But, I mean, you are an encyclopedia of knowledge when it comes to the Carters. It's truly -- she's becoming more fascinating and amazing the more I hear you speak.

With everything that she did, the love story so documented and so real, as you say, and the fact that it seems very clear that President Carter would not have been President Carter without Rosalynn by his side, did she -- we know she loved the man. Did she like the job? Did she like the time? Did she like being catapulted to this -- you know, to this post, this role, this position that she created to make really her own?

GODBOLD: He loved it. She said she loved it. She said she loved politics. She liked the job. She came alive on the trail. And sometimes she pushed him. She didn't think he was as good a politician as she wanted him to be, but she loved it.

And in the post-presidency, when they founded the Carter Center, she is co-chair, and he is co-chair. They're legally equal partners in the Carter Center to promote democracy, negotiate conflicts around the world, cure diseases, all those many things, which it's doing successfully all over the world.

But what often falls through the cracks, she also established her own institution known as the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers. It's at America's Georgia at the Alma Mater. It has her name only. She's the sole founder of it. And it's a very thriving institution.

BOLDUAN: Yes. And, Stanly, that aspect of her life and that aspect of the post-presidency and what she took on and championed is so -- is one that is so fascinating to me. We're actually going to have someone on from the institute in the next hour to talk about that aspect of Rosalynn Carter's life.

And true, we use the word legacy so often for those bold names who pass. When you talk about legacy, Rosalynn Carter truly, truly leaves one of her own.

It's great to have you here Stanly. Thank you so much for your time. Omar?

JIMENEZ: Coming up, Vice President Kamala Harris says she and President Biden have to earn their re-elect as they struggle with voters of color.

And as President Biden turns 81 today, new poll numbers suggest his age is becoming a bigger issue for him politically.