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State Of Emergency Declared By Kentucky Governor Following Train Crash That Leaks Molten Sulfur; Eric Adams, Mayor Of New York City, Accused Of Sexual Assault; 2015 Sexual Assault Against Jamie Foxx By Unnamed Woman; Former Model Accuses Axl Rose Of Sexual Assault In 1989; In Southern Lebanon, Israeli Military Hits Hezbollah Targets; IDF Retaliates With Strikes After Hezbollah Targets Israeli Military Installation In Northern Israel; Houthi Assault Drones Taken Down By U.S. Warship In Red Sea; While Gag Order In Effect, Trump Criticizes New York Judge And Clerk. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 23, 2023 - 15:30:00   ET




BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN NEW DAY WEEKEND ANCHOR: An update now to a story we've been watching closely. Residents in a central Kentucky town are being urged to evacuate after more than a dozen freight train cars derailed, spilling molten sulfur and sparking a fire.

Officials say, that fire is now 50 percent contained, but the toxic smoke that's in the air is actually the biggest threat, because when molten sulfur burns, it releases sulfur dioxide, and that gas has a very strong scent. It could cause irritation to the eyes, nose, and throat as well. CSX, the train's operator, says that specialized equipment is now being used to monitor air quality in that area. Kentucky's governor, Andy Beshear, has issued a state of emergency.

We're also following major breaking news out of New York. New York City Mayor Eric Adams is being accused of sexual assault. According to a new court filing, this happened 30 years ago in 1930 -- in 1993, I should say, and the plaintiff is seeking $5 million in damages.

CNN's Jean Casarez has been tracking this story, including how the mayor is responding. So, Jean, what's the latest?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, the latest is he's come out immediately to refute this, but this is all because of the Adult Survivors Act. And this was put into law, signed into law by the New York governor in 19 -- in 2022, one year ago, gave that one year window for adult survivors of a sexual assault, alleging that to come forward.

And this is one of many, there's been a flurry, I'm sure in general, but against high-profile defendants in the last few days. And the allegation against Mayor Adams is that she was a city employee back in 1993, so long ago, but that he sexually assaulted her. There was battery, employment discrimination, there was retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress. She is also suing the New York Police Department and the City of New York. Now, listen to the mayor this morning, just hours ago, when he was giving his Thanksgiving remarks.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D-NY): My career speaks for itself and just really -- it's just something absolutely that has never happened. And I don't even recall ever meeting the person who made the -- this allegation.


CASAREZ: Next, Jamie Foxx. There's a complaint that's been filed, Civil Court, New York Supreme Court, alleging that there was unlawful touching back in 2015 at a New York City restaurant. We have just gotten a response from Jamie Foxx representatives that says, this alleged incident, it never happened. In 2020, this individual filed a nearly identical lawsuit in Brooklyn. That case was dismissed shortly thereafter. We are confident this will be dismissed again.

And then we get to Axl Rose and -- the lead singer for Guns N' Roses. A very high-profile plaintiff has filed this suit.


A former Penthouse Pet by the name of Sheila Kennedy. And she is alleging that he violently sexually assaulted her in a New York hotel room back in 1989. Axl Rose's attorney has come forward telling CNN, simply put, this incident never happened. Though he doesn't deny the possibility of a fan photo taken in passing, Mr. Rose has no recollection of ever meeting or speaking to the plaintiff and has never heard about these fictional allegations prior to today.

So, at this point, all of these will proceed in civil court and there will be answers filed by the defendants refuting the claims that are being made. Boris.

SANCHEZ: Jean Casarez, thank you so much for the update.

We have new details about the threats received by the New York judge that's overseeing Former President Donald Trump's civil fraud trial and his law clerk as well.

But still to come, a U.S. warship shooting down multiple attack drones over the Red Sea. We have the very latest on that as soon as we come back. Stay with us.



WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR AND "SITUATION ROOM" HOST: Welcome back. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Tel Aviv.

With just hours until the Israel Hamas truce goes into effect, we are now learning there has been an exchange of attacks between Hezbollah in Lebanon and Israel. Israeli forces say, they struck Hezbollah infrastructure and rocket sites in Lebanon after the terrorist group launched nearly 50 rockets targeting an Israeli military base.

CNN Senior International Correspondent Ben Wedeman is joining us live from Beirut. Ben, what more are you learning about these latest rounds of attacks? This sounds very serious.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, really. Today, was intense on the border between Lebanon and Israel. Last night, an Israeli airstrike hit a house in which there were five Hezbollah fighters, including the son of the leader of Hezbollah's parliamentary block. And what we saw today was perhaps some of the most intense exchanges so far since the 8th of October. Now, you were referring to that incident where Hezbollah fired 48 Katyusha rocket at this Israeli base, and that was just one of the many volleys that were fired today.

Now, Hezbollah is claiming that they killed four Israeli soldiers in the course of the day. However, we have yet to hear any comment on that from the Israelis. Now, also significantly, today the Foreign Minister of Iran was visiting Beirut. He met with Hassan Nasrallah, the Secretary General of Hezbollah. And they talked about bringing the Israeli war in Gaza to an end.

Now, also today, the Iranian foreign minister had an interview on Mayadeen, which is a local Lebanese satellite channel. And he said that if the truce does not hold in Gaza, the scope of the war will expand. Now, Hezbollah is not part of obviously this agreement between Israel and Hamas for a four-day pause, but a Hezbollah source spoke to "Al Jazeera Arabic" and told them that they do plan to abide by the truce and hold their fire unless, of course, Israel fires at Hezbollah, Wolf.

BLITZER: We will see what happens. A very tense situation. Ben Wedeman in Beirut for us, thank you very much.

Be sure to join me later today, 5:00 p.m. Eastern, 5:00 -- 8:00 p.m. for a special three-hour edition of the "Situation Room" as we follow the very latest developments with the an -- incoming -- upcoming truce between Israel and Hamas. In the meantime, Boris, back to you.

SANCHEZ: Wolf, we will certainly tune in for that. Thank you so much.

Ben was just talking about Hezbollah and the threat that they pose. They're just one group threatening to turn this war into a broader regional conflict. Another, the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. And today we learned that a U.S. warship patrolling the Red Sea shot down multiple attack drones launched from the area that they control in Yemen.

CNN's Alex Marquardt has been tracking this. So, Alex, what do we know about this engagement?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, this is obviously very concerning. It really plays into the fears of an escalating conflict, a one that U.S. forces could be drawn into. Now, what we've learned, and this is from Central Command, which is in charge of the Middle East for the Pentagon, they say that Houthi rebels in Yemen, Thursday morning, fired multiple one-way attack drones, as they called them. There was no damage to the personnel on board. The ship that took them down, which is a U.S. destroyer called the Thomas Hudner which was patrolling in the Red Sea. There were no U.S. personnel who were hurt.

It is unclear right now, Boris, what the actual target was. But this really is part of a pattern by these Houthi rebels who are backed by Iran, who are extremely well equipped in terms of the efforts to potentially escalate. We saw them a couple of weeks ago firing ballistic missiles and drones in the direction of Israel. It took several hours for another U.S. destroyer to take those down. A couple of days ago, over the weekend, Houthi rebels commandeered and hijacked a cargo ship.

So, there really is concern about what these Houthi rebels are up to, or what they may still do as we've just been, you know, we were talking about Hezbollah.


Hezbollah and the Houthis really are the most formidable proxy groups that Iran controls in the Middle East.

SANCHEZ: Yes. And, and of course they're not the only ones, right? There are these other offshoot groups. This would be at least the 67th, I believe, attack by Iranian-backed militias on U.S. and coalition forces in the area since October 7th. We've seen the U.S. carry out some measure of response, right?

MARQUARDT: Yes, we're getting close to 70 attacks on U.S. and coalition forces across the region. One of the latest ones was -- arguably the most dramatic against the U.S. Al-Asad Airbase in Iraq. It was on Monday, and a group called Kata'ib Hezbollah, not to be confused with Lebanese Hezbollah, this is an Iraqi group, they fired short range, close range ballistic missiles. That's really significant. This was -- there was the first time that since these -- the spike in attacks since October 17th.

You're right, there have been almost 70 of these, mainly in Iraq and Syria against U.S. and coalition forces. The U.S. responded to this one by targeting two facilities related to Kata'ib Hezbollah, that was the first time the U.S. has responded in Iraq. However, there have been three different sets of airstrikes in Syria against facilities that are connected to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, as well as these Iran-backed proxy groups. Essentially, U.S. telling Iran and its proxy groups to knock it off. But Boris, these attacks continue.

SANCHEZ: Yes, even as this truce between Israel and Hamas is just a few hours away, that doesn't mean that hostilities across the region will slow down overall. Alex Marquardt, thank you so much.

Still plenty more to come on CNN NEWS CENTRAL. A New York judge and his law clerk facing hundreds of credible threats in connection with their roles in the civil fraud trial against former President Donald Trump, we have the details straight ahead.



SANCHEZ: Donald Trump is going on the attack again. Targeting the judge, overseeing his New York civil fraud trial and others. The former president lashing out on "Truth Social" earlier today, calling the judge a psycho and accusing him and his top clerk of political bias and corruption. This comes just a week after an appeals court put a pause on the judge's gag order, restricting the former president's comments, and after we learned the judge and his staff has received hundreds of harassing messages that court security has deemed serious and credible threats.

Joining now to discuss all of this is CNN Legal Analyst Norm Eisen. Norm, thank you so much for being here on Thanksgiving. We do appreciate it. So, obviously last week that appellate judge undoing the gag order, given the fact that these threats have been deemed credible, do you anticipate it might be put back on the former president?

NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER HOUSE JUDICIARY SPECIAL COUNSEL IN TRUMP'S FIRST IMPEACHMENT TRIAL, AND FORMER WHITE HOUSE ETHICS CZAR: It should be turned back on, Boris, because while we have strong First Amendment protections under the constitution, the courts have held, including the Supreme Court, that those protections must yield to the administration of justice during active cases. We have an open trial here with targeted restrictions.

And when you see this latest filing by New York explaining how when the gag order was lifted, these threats against the judge and the judge's law clerk shot up, that really makes the case for the gag order to be perhaps narrowed but reinstated.

SANCHEZ: Even when the gag order was in place, though, Donald Trump violated it numerous times. He was fined with $15,000 by the judge. If it's put back on, to what extent do you see Judge Arthur Engoron going and trying to limit what the former president is tweeting about or social truthing about?

EISEN: Well, I think that the judge has made clear that when the gag order is in place, he is going to respond to violations of the order. Particularly, this is really the core of it, the out of court attacks on the judge's law clerk. That is a place where while there has been a temporary lifting of the gag order, while the appellate court considers what to do, that's really in the core of what these kinds of orders are intended to prevent.

And when you look at the filings that the court has made and the threats, really horrific antisemitic threats, assassination, death threats, I will kill you, I'm coming for you. When you look at that and the sheer volume that this law clerk is getting on her social media, her e-mail, on her cell phone, that information has gotten out. I think the courts are going to allow those narrow protections. SANCHEZ: Trump's team, obviously, set to respond on Monday. What we've heard from them previously is that he -- he's a candidate for president. This is political speech. Have you ever seen the system tested this way with a defendant that says, I'm protected not only by the First Amendment, but by the fact that I'm running for office? And that I'm allowed to make my pitch to voters.

EISEN: We have not had a former president running to return to the White House --


EISEN: -- with so many active legal matters, both civil, fraud, as we have here, four active criminal cases. There's also a gag order dispute going on at the moment in the federal criminal case that Judge Chutkan is overseeing. No, the system has not been tested in this way, but the First Amendment has been tested over and over again in the history of our country.


And this balance where yes, speech, political speech is allowed, but it must stop where personnel of the courts, judges, or witnesses, or jurors are being threatened. Here you have court personnel being threatened. The law, if it's applied, should allow a narrow gag order.

Now, there's things that may be trimmed away. Speech in court by the judge's lawyers objecting to the law clerk. That's a little different. The court of -- courts of appeals may say, no, you can't do that. But the out of court statements, I think ultimately those are going to be limited.

SANCHEZ: Yes, it is fascinating to watch unfold. Grover Cleveland, when he was running for re-election, didn't go through any of this, did he?

EISEN: Not Grover Cleveland, nor any of the other prior 44 presidents.

SANCHEZ: Norm Eisen, thank you so much for the time. Appreciate it.

EISEN: Thanks, Boris. Happy Thanksgiving.

SANCHEZ: Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

So, just hours from now, this truce between Israel and Hamas, it is expected to start. Israel says, the families of the first hostages to be released have been notified. We've got special coverage on CNN, stay with us.