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28 Babies Evacuated From Al-Shifa Arrive In Egypt; IDF Releases Video From Inside Tunnel Shaft On Al-Shifa Hospital Compound; Trump Legal Team Fights Gag Order In Election Subversion Case. Aired 11- 11:30a ET
Aired November 20, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN HOST: Happening now, new hope in Egypt, the mother of one of these newborns just evacuated out of Gaza and now sharing her emotional journey.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN HOST: Unconstitutional or needed to protect witnesses in court staff? Right now, a hearing is underway to decide whether or not Donald Trump's gag order in his federal election case will be lifted.
BOLDUAN: And the life, the impact and one incredible love story for remembering former First Lady Rosalynn Carter today. I'm Kate Bolduan with Omar Jimenez. John and Sara are off. This is CNN News Central.
BOLDUAN: This morning, a mother of one of the newborns evacuated from Gaza into Egypt. She's speaking out. Her baby among the 28 newborns who are now receiving care in Egypt after evacuating from Al-Shifa -- the Al-Shifa Hospital in northern Gaza. Do want to warn you, some of the images coming out, they're tough to watch. Their evacuation and journey, a dangerous one, medics seen standing by at the Rafah crossing, to care for and transport these babies to safety.
CNN's Eleni Giokos is joining us from Cairo. She's got much more on this. Eleni, what is the mother who was also able to get out along with her baby saying?
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, she was part of the group that was stuck at Al-Shifa Hospital. And we know that there was war raging on around the hospital and inside the complex as well. And she describes a very harrowing situation. She says a baby was born prematurely. And then they just ran out of oxygen. They ran out of milk. She describes and explains those conditions and just how absolutely petrifying it was for her. But she also talks about the evacuation into Egypt.
Now, I know you mentioned moving from Al-Shifa Hospital and then into Egypt, but actually there was a stop first at the Emirati Hospital. It was so difficult to get out of Al-Shifa, getting that safe corridor, which of course we needed a lot of assistance from various parties and then the Emirati Hospital where they stabilize the babies and then into Egypt. But I want you to listen to what she had to say. Her name is Lubna El-Seik. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
LUBNA EL-SEIK, MOTHER OF NEWBORN EVACUATED FROM GAZA (through translator): Thankfully the coordination was very good. They called us yesterday to come to the hospital. I was one of the displaced. Within hours, we came over here and we were well received. Egypt is the best place on earth.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: And she also says that she wants to remind the world that the babies that were trapped at Al-Shifa are innocent, and they have nothing to do with this war. She describes how her house was bombed, and then she went to Al-Shifa Hospital, where there she was trapped as well. Look, the Egyptians have been waiting at the border for over a week, Kate, with ambulances and incubators, ventilators waiting and ready for the babies.
They were waiting for 36 babies and only 28 arrived. Doctors in Al- Shifa said that five babies lost their lives because they didn't have the medical capabilities to treat them and to of course, care for them. The Egyptians on the other hand, were ready and waiting. All they needed to do was move across that Rafah border. But we know logistics are difficult. We know that it is a dangerous journey.
In the meantime, hospitals are running out of fuel. And these are the stories that we're hearing as Egypt takes on more injured Palestinians as the days go on but this perhaps one of the most important evacuations that we've seen.
BOLDUAN: Yes. We've seen to date for sure. Eleni, thank you for bringing us the update.
JIMENEZ: And obviously a lot of dynamics here. We want to go to the new video of hostages released by the IDF. Israel says it shows two hostages being taken to Al-Shifa Hospital on October 7th, one appearing to enter by force, the other on a stretcher. CNN's Oren Liebermann traveled to the Al-Shifa compound and has more from Tel Aviv.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We spent about six hours inside of Gaza with an IDF media embed. We crossed into Gaza through the border fence at about 9 o'clock at night, and didn't come out until 3:00 in the morning. It's important to note that it was dark at all times, of course, because it was night but also, Gaza city hasn't had power in days now and that made it even harder to see, as we picked our way across the streets of Gaza City near the Al-Shifa Hospital complex until we arrived at the complex itself.
We came to see one very specific thing, and that is the newly exposed tunnel shaft that the IDF had revealed only days earlier. From what we were able to see, and again, it's important to emphasize that first it was nearly pitch black and second when we were allowed to turn on lights. It was very dim lights for only a very brief period. We were able to see a structure going down into the ground itself on the complex of the hospital. It was apparent to me that the structure itself was substantial. It was built of concrete and look like in its middle it had a pole that was the center of a spiral staircase. The IDF then gave us and revealed video they had from camera on a special asset they had sent down.
And that showed not only the tunnel shaft going what they say is 10 meters or about 33 feet down within the tunnel itself, running for some 55 meters or more than 150 feet. At the end of that tunnel in which you see a sharp left turn, there was a metal door that the IDF says they have not opened, because they fear it may be booby trap is this definitive proof that the IDF has uncovered a tunnel network under the hospital that Hamas uses it as a command and control headquarters as Israel has asserted? No. But it is part of a case the IDF and Israel are trying to build here to show that that's the case.
And this is arguably the most compelling evidence they have yet put forward. Important to note they are still operating at the hospital. And their mission is to try to uncover more hospital shafts and a larger tunnel network. Hamas as well as hospital officials who have spoken with CNN have repeatedly denied there is such a network. And the stakes here are critical for the IDF to be able to continue its operations there that especially as international criticism mounts with the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza rising. It needs to be able to prove that there is a structure underneath the hospital. And that is what they're trying to do here. We saw a part of the case they're trying to build.
Oren Liebermann, CNN in Tel Aviv.
JIMENEZ: Oren Liebermann, thank you.
BOLDUAN: So a deal to get a potentially dozens of hostages released maybe as close as ever. Senior White House officials are expressing cautious optimism this morning over getting some of the 200 plus hostages release from Hamas. They've been held by Hamas terrorists since October 7th. Now sources say a recent draft of a potential agreement proposes a four to five day pause in the fighting to release some.
Over the weekend deputy national security adviser Jon Finer, he did not get into the details of what's being worked out in this potential deal. But he did say this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JON FINER, DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We think that we are closer than we have been perhaps at any point since these negotiations began weeks ago, that there are areas of difference in disagreement that had been narrowed, if not closed out entirely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Joining me now to talk more about this, CNN's global affairs analyst Kim Dozier. Kim, talk to me about what your sense is of these hostage negotiations. All the reporting that we're hearing is that they're closer than ever, there still isn't a deal. And you also always have to wonder what the impact is of just talk about the deal being closer than ever, who that impacts the most in terms of these negotiations. What do you see in this?
KIM DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Well, the first rule of reporting on negotiations is when it goes quiet on all sides. That's when it's serious, and something might be about to be resolved. But when you're hearing from Qatari officials, both publicly and I've heard from them privately, that they're this close to a deal that smacks of awe, they think someone in this arrangement is spoiling what they think should go through. In this case, one regional official had told me that Netanyahu's government has balked at some of the aspects that Hamas is demanding. They don't like the five-day pause, they're afraid that will give Hamas time to regroup.
And Bibi Netanyahu needs time to get his own coalition on board to agree to this. And every time there's some sort of complication or revelation in public that it's almost done, that's almost sure to delay it a few more days.
BOLDUAN: This really important perspective and all this the talk around it is also can be seen as a part of you know, a part of the process of negotiation as well which is important and so hard for these families to also have to be dealing with at the same time. I want to ask you also about the video, Oren Liebermann was talking about, the videos of the tunnel shaft that the IDF has released, the underground tunnel, the security footage also that they've released that they found from Al-Shifa Hospital that happened on October 7th of what it appears to mean they say is some of these hostages being brought through the hospital.
It appears evidence of Hamas working in and around the hospital, though proof of an extensive Hamas command center under the hospital. It has not yet been revealed, not yet satisfying to many folks. Do you think they need to provide more evidence?
DOZIER: Yes, looking at this evidence that's been provided so far, how you receive it depends on where you are in the spectrum of onlookers to this conflict. From the Israeli perspective, they've shown what they think is definitive proof that there is an entrance to tunnel network on Shifa grounds. They've showed security footage that they say they've gleaned from the hospital systems themselves -- itself, showing that two hostages were being treated there just after they were taken. And they also found the bodies of two hostages in nearby buildings.
For them, that should prove it. For the international community, it's as if we want to see something that looks like a command center from the movies, hardwired with phones, stacks of ammunition, when the fact of the matter is Hamas had time to move equipment out of the area as the Israelis approached above ground. So I don't think anyone's going to be satisfied from either side.
BOLDUAN: It's a good point. Biden, Jon Finer, we played a little bit from him from interviews this weekend. He also made clear yesterday and interviews that he did in the rounds that the United States believes that Hamas leadership has now fled to southern Gaza. Let me play this in how he said it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
FINER: What I will say, though, is we have been quite clear that Israel has every right to defend itself against the threat that it faces. That includes, by the way, the right to go after Hamas leadership, who they say now have fled to the southern part of Gaza and have sought refuge there.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BOLDUAN: Kim, what happens and is going to happen as Israel makes a push to the south? What are you hearing about that? And kind of what message -- what the message is going to be or need to be or how they're going to have to deal with that, when that's exactly where they've told so many civilians in Gaza to go as well?
DOZIER: Well, the problem is there is no safe zone for these Palestinian civilians. The Israelis had talked in the beginning about setting up some area where they could all retreat to but that would have had to be in cooperation with the United Nations. And so far, some massive tent camp in an area that's free from bombing hasn't materialized.
And in the meantime, of course, Hamas leaders would have fled to the south so they can continue this fight, so they can fight another day. And Israel is always signaled that it's going to go through the whole Gaza territory to find them. So that means every time the Gazans flee, they've got to wait for notification that, OK, we're coming your way now and find a new safe place to hide. It is painful to watch. And it also, from the international community's perspective, their hands are tied because everyone has limited access to Gaza territory.
It's painful to watch, though, if you've watched Israel over the years respond to crises, they can normally bring supplies in. But in this case, with every step, they also face danger and threats.
BOLDUAN: Yes. In a very -- on a level that they haven't before, that's for sure. Thanks for coming in, Kim. It's great to see you.
JIMENEZ: Coming up for us, one of the appeals court judges taking a look at Donald Trump's gag order just insisted the former president's first amendment rights are not broadly under attack, the latest from inside the courtroom.
Plus, new details this morning about the funeral service for former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, as we remember the life and incredible legacy she leaves behind.
And no big birthday celebration for President Biden's 81st birthday today. But there are big worries among Democrats about how his age is affecting his standing with young voters. The latest polls, next.
BOLDUAN: Right now, one of the judges set to decide the fate of Donald Trump's gag order already insisting this morning that his first amendment rights are not broadly under attack with it. Trump's legal team is fighting in court today to get that gag order lifted in the federal election subversion case. Their main argument is really just that that it's unconstitutional, they say, and also hurting his ability to campaign for president. CNN's Evan Perez outside the courthouse with -- for us once again. Evan, what are you hearing so far?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, you're hearing a lot of pushback from these judges, three judges on this appeals court panel. They're pushing back on the concept that just because Donald Trump is a political candidate is the leading candidate right now, in some of the polling that that means there can't be any restrictions on his speech ahead of this criminal trial that is set to start here in Washington in March.
We are hearing from John Sauer who is also, you know, taking a little bit of a departure from some of the arguments that they've made if they've been pushing this idea that the former president is a political candidate, and that it is unconstitutional for a judge to try to filter the speech that he can make while he's out on the campaign trail. But in his arguments in court here today, he's also had to temper that a little bit saying that it doesn't matter that Donald Trump is a political candidate. But here's John Sauer describing what he says the unprecedented nature of this restriction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
D. JOHN SAUER, LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: The order is unprecedented, and it sets a terrible precedent for a future restrictions on core political speech. This is a radical departure from the only cases that have considered this particular form of restriction that restriction on a criminal defendant who was also campaigning for public office. And it does so in the context of a hotly contested campaign for the highest office in the United States of America.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PEREZ: And Kate, what we're hearing now, though, is the judges also pushing back a little bit on the government's argument that this restriction is necessary. And the way it is worded is appropriate. One of the things that that John and Sara is having a little more success on is the idea that the judge's order in this case is perhaps a little more vague than it should be that because she talks about the targeting of members of the special counsel team that perhaps there could be a better wording of that restriction. Kate? BOLDUAN: Yes. And with this unprecedented kind of setup, you have Donald Trump a current in front running candidate for president, once again, it just sets up -- this is a really fascinating appeals court setup. I'm really interested to see how this whole discussion goes. It's good to see, Evan, thank you.
JIMENEZ: And we got a lot of fascinating things to talk about. That's why I got former U.S. prosecutor with the Southern District of New York, Sarah Krissoff here. Great to see you. I want to start with -- I want to take a listen to a snippet of what we've heard, because I think it hits at the crux of what's being argued here sort of this fight between political -- what is political speech, versus what is potentially damaging to the judicial process. And this exchange is between Trump's defense attorney and one of the judges in the appellate panel deciding here.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SAUER: Criminal speech, obviously is subject to the restrictions.
JUDGE PATRICIA MILLETT, U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR DC DISTRICT: Then that's -- OK so.
SAUER: But core political speech that is core political speech, that's part of campaign speech, that will --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think that -- I don't -- I think that kind of calling labeling it core political speech begs the question of whether it is in fact political speech, or whether it is political speech aimed at derailing or corrupting the criminal justice process. You can't simply label it that and conclude your balancing test that way. We have to balance.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JIMENEZ: So what is your reaction to what we just heard there?
SARAH KRISSOFF, FORMER U.S. PROSECUTOR, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NY: So I think the issue for Trump's team here the problem for them with that argument is that the law is pretty well established that the court has the ability to temper speech in certain ways, right? His right to free speech is not unlimited, the court can temper that speech to for safety for security, to ensure the Fair Administration of Justice. So I think that's the wall that Trump's team is hitting here with that argument.
JIMENEZ: And obviously, this case is not happening in a vacuum. And that's part of why we're having this hearing because Trump is running for president here. And if you look at the calendar, just of his hearings versus his actual campaign events, and even some primary elections, a lot of times they're sometimes back to back. And so clearly, this is a dynamic that we're going to see here.
So to that point, what is the balance between someone's first amendment right to speak as a citizen, but also as a candidate for president, and doing so in a way that may be harmful to a judicial process?
KRISSOFF: So I mean, the judge has to tell her the gag order very narrowly here, and she tried to do that. But I think there is -- so I think the Trump's team, their argument is better with regard to sort of is this -- is the gag order clear? Is it narrow enough? Does it really make it clear to the former president what he can say what he can or cannot say?
And I think the Trump's team is getting a little traction with a court on that issue. And it may be the court may come out that way, may say, OK, you can -- we can impose a gag here, but maybe the gag order needs to be a little bit differently worded.
JIMENEZ: And that's a critical point here that the gag order in question right now is not for the ability to never talk about anything close to this case. It's more narrow in scope.
KRISSOFF: That's right. I mean, the gag order that is in place, where it's actually suspended now while this appeal is pending, but it prohibits language out of the President and his team that targets the witnesses in the case that targets the prosecutors in the case in court personnel related to case.
JIMENEZ: And you and I were talking a little bit beforehand with this appeals panel, and they're really forging into what's mostly uncharted territory here as far as these types of cases go. Do you think it'll be upheld? But also just when you talk about this process, what is so significant about this process we're seeing here?
KRISSOFF: So I think it's probably interesting for them as a from a legal standpoint, right? It is -- intriguing to them to make new law because I have a whole history of law, case law on this to go by. But this is -- they're really in new territory here. They're going to have the chance to make new law and frankly know that that law is probably going to go up to the Supreme Court, for the Supreme Court to take a look at it.
JIMENEZ: While this hearing is ongoing, we're going to see what happens. But based on the snippets that have come out so far, it does seem the Trump side of things has run into a bit of a wall, but long hearing. And we'll see what happens. Thank you so much, Sarah Krissoff.
KRISSOFF: Thank you.
BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, President Biden turn 81 years old today. Ahead, what new poll numbers are saying about his age as an issue now for voters heading into 2024?
Plus, we have new details coming out about the ceremony's plan to celebrate the life of former First Lady Rosalynn Carter. We'll be right back.