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3-Year-Old American Among The Hundreds Of Hamas Hostages; Palestinian Red Crescent Says Major Hospitals In Gaza City Out Of Service; Kevin McCarthy Rails Against "Crazy Eight" As Government Shutdown Looms; Trump Makes Series Of Gaffes During Speeches; Trump Attacks Special Counsel Jack Smith's Family; Former Hollywood Agent's Son Arrested, Suspected Of Murder; The Difficulty Of Covering The Israel-Hamas Conflict. Aired 6-7p ET
Aired November 12, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. Good evening. We start this hour with the breaking news.
The White House says a toddler, a 3-year-old toddler is among one of the nine Americans and 200 others currently being held hostage by Hamas following that deadly attack more than a month ago in Israel.
Let's go straight to CNN senior White House reporter Kevin Liptak in Delaware.
Kevin, this is just a heartbreaking development. What more can you tell us?
KEVIN LIPTAK, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This news coming from the White House in a readout of a phone call that President Biden held with the Emir of Qatar.
And, Jim, you'll remember, Qatar has been acting as a broker in these talks to get these hostages released. The president conveyed his unequivocal condemnation of the holding of hostages in Gaza, including this 3-year-old American toddler, whose parents were killed in the Hamas attacks in Israel on October 7th.
So we don't know many details about this child, but he is one of potentially as many as 10 Americans who are being held in Gaza. The White House said earlier today that there are nine American citizens and one green cardholder who are unaccounted for. Many of them could be hostages.
We heard from the National Security adviser Jake Sullivan that active discussions are under way about securing the release of those hostages, and the U.S. is part of those discussions. And so revealing this news now certainly does add pressure onto those talks and onto the parties who are involved in them, including the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who President Biden has been pressuring for these longer pauses that could potentially secure the release of hostages. And we heard from President Biden just earlier this week that he had
pressed for a halt in the fighting, potentially longer than three days, to allow the release of hostages because what American officials have said is that a large release of hundreds of hostages would require a significant break in the fighting, potentially many days.
So far only a select few hostages have been released, including two Americans, that mother and daughter. Officials have said that that was kind of a pilot case for securing the release of these additional hostages. They said that that went well, and they want to expand that to include the more than 200 hostages who are currently being held. So certainly the pressure is building on all the sides here.
We did see in Israel just this weekend a large protest by people who were calling on Netanyahu to do more to secure the release of these hostages. There have been all kinds of scenarios floated around, including potentially releasing women and children, potentially exchanging hostages for Palestinians who are being held in Israel. So all of these talks sort of ongoing as President Biden speaks with the Emir of Qatar -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right. Kevin Liptak, please stay on top of it. Let us know if there are any new developments on all of this. We appreciate it. Thank you very much.
The World Health Organization and UNICEF are among groups calling for urgent international action to, quote, "end the ongoing Israeli attacks on hospitals in Gaza," end quote. In a statement, these organizations say there have been at least 137 attacks on health facilities in Gaza, killing more than 500 people, many of them children.
CNN's Nada Bashir has more on what's being called a dire situation inside these hospitals.
NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: These are the sounds of the final gasp from Gaza's collapsing healthcare system. Medical staff in Gaza City working under near relentless Israeli bombardment for over a month.
But now this chorus of frantic voices seen here working under torch light tells its own gut-wrenching story. The Al Quds Hospital, the second largest in Gaza, has now collapsed. The hospital no longer operational according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society.
But these scenes are all too familiar across the besieged Gaza Strip. The vast majority of hospitals here are already completely out of service, the Palestinian Health Ministry in Ramallah says, and those remaining now on a cliff edge.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There was a direct injury in the head. Internal bleeding.
[18:05:02] And we can't do surgeries, no surgeries, no oxygen, no electricity. We work manually. We are using a manual resuscitator. It is a clear injury. It needs an urgent surgery, a life-saving one. He's less than a year old.
BASHIR: Remarkably, this baby survived, but his father who was in the very same building when an Israeli air strike hit did not.
At Gaza's largest hospital Al Shifa, officials say newborn babies had to be moved and that at least three babies in the neonatal unit died after a generator-powering incubator was damaged in an Israeli strike.
CNN has reached out to the Israeli military for comment. The IDF regularly says it is targeting Hamas, but doctors here say the hospital is now completely surrounded.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The situation overall is difficult according to our colleague there. There is no water, no electricity, they cannot communicate between each other. There is a lot of targeting around the hospital.
BASHIR: Under a constant barrage of air strikes it is impossible for both patients and staff to safely evacuate. Doctors are overwhelmed, morgues now long beyond capacity. And with communications frequently cut off, contact between medical teams on the ground and with the outside world is growing increasingly difficult.
Hospital officials say thousands of displaced civilians are still thought to be in the compound, taking shelter in what once was thought to be a sanctuary in the midst of this seemingly unending nightmare.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): We thought the hospital was a safe place, but it wasn't. If we had stayed another five minutes we would have been killed. They started to bomb us and we ran away from Al Shifa.
BASHIR: The Israeli military says it is now enabling passage from three hospitals in northern Gaza with an additional route said to have been open to allow civilians to evacuate southward.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): This is another form of torture. We have about six kilometers to go. No less. She got a stroke that caused her brain damage. She can't speak and is paralyzed.
BASHIR: But the United Nations itself has moved out over the so-called safe zones outlined by Israel, warning that nowhere inside Gaza is safe for civilians anymore. And for those too injured, too sick, evacuation is impossible. Many doctors on the ground vowing to stay beside their patients no matter what.
BASHIR (on-camera): And, look, the situation at the Al Shifa Hospital seems to be deteriorating by the hour. We have now learned from officials at the hospital that all operating rooms, all operating theaters at Al Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital, are now out of service. Doctors there saying that when they are receiving wounded patients, they are only able to provide first aid.
There is, of course, serious concern for the premature and newborn babies there in the neonatal unit, which has of course already experienced issues with not being able to provide oxygen in their neonatal units. And of course as we have seen that bombardment by air strikes is edging closer and closer to this hospital, the vast majority of Gaza's hospitals already out of service.
And as we know, it is not just patients and medical staff that are at these hospitals, but there are thousands of Palestinian civilians seeking sanctuary around these hospitals, many of them unable to evacuate from northern Gaza to southern Gaza. We've heard those warnings from the U.N.'s humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths who's described any attack on these hospitals as reprehensible and has called for an end to these attacks.
But as we have seen it is both an issue of the continued and relentless bombardment but also now the rapidly deteriorating humanitarian situation on the ground -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right, Nada Bashir, thank you very much for that report. We appreciate it.
I want to bring in the spokesman for the Israeli Defense Forces, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner.
Colonel, I do want to ask you about the situation on those hospitals in Gaza in a moment. But first, we have learned in the last hour or so from the White House that a 3-year-old American is among those being held captive, held hostage by Hamas. We know that there are other children being held as well. But what is being done to get these hostages out?
LT. COL. PETER LERNER, IDF SPOKESMAN: Jim, thank you. Indeed, as you pointed out, that is one story of a family torn to pieces by Hamas' brutal massacre. Baby Kfir is 10 months old and is being held by Hamas. And there are elderly. There are women. There are children. This is the terrorist organization. This is the terrorist army we're up against. This is a terrorist organization that on the 7th of October decided a strategic decision to launch a war on Israel.
The issue of hostages is a top priority of the military.
We are utilizing all the tools at our disposal in order to try and identify where they are, how they're being kept. Obviously for obvious reasons, I can't elaborate beyond that. But I would say it is a priority, a national priority of the IDF. We've demanded that the International Committee of the Red Cross have access in order to assess the well-being of the hostages. Unfortunately I can't report that that's happened at this time.
Now I can't imagine the families, what they are going through now, 239 hostages being held. This is the reality, a reality we didn't ask for, but a reality nevertheless. ACOSTA: And do you have any sense as to how the hostages are doing, in
particular the children and the elderly?
LERNER: No, unfortunately I don't. I can't report anything unfortunately. We wish that we could celebrate their homecoming as well. Unfortunately, Hamas are still holding these children. I think it's around 40 children actually being held hostage by Hamas. Imagine what that is.
ACOSTA: It's absolutely terrible is what it is. And we know talks have been ongoing with several nations regarding these hostages. How are those talks going, and is there a period of time that you could have a pause that might, I guess, be acceptable to Hamas in order to get these hostages out? Is there a way to -- I know you don't want to do any kind of deals with Hamas. You want to take them out.
But knowing that there is a lot of importance being placed on the safety and well-being of those hostages, is there any way a pause or a cease-fire or something along those lines could be undertaken in order to get the hostages out?
LERNER: So obviously I can't elaborate on what the diplomats are doing. The diplomats will -- the diplomacy we'll leave for the diplomats. The military operation, the war on Hamas has two goals. First of all, to dismantle and destroy Hamas. The second goal is to bring back the hostages, to bring them back. So, indeed, we are utilizing as I said all of the tools that we have in order to find, seek, and if possible also rescue.
We've already rescued one hostage, Ori Megidish, it was just at the beginning, but -- and it's just one out of what is now left 239. But that is what we're trying to do, and we're confident that we can advance with this, and the diplomacy will continue by the diplomats.
ACOSTA: And as this intense fighting continues near the hospitals, does the IDF believe that there are hostages inside, under, around any of these hospital complexes, in these tunnels under the complexes, around these medical centers? What do you know about that?
LERNER: So obviously I can't go into specifics about hostages and the hostage situation because of the sensitivity of the issue. We are fighting against Hamas extensively now on the ground for over a week, seeking them out, rooting them out, engaging them in the tunnels, in their command centers. We've overrun over 11 of their command positions in the northern Gaza Strip, and we are engaging extensively this group of terror organization that has intentionally positioned all of its military capabilities within the civilian arena, whether it be at schools.
Your reporters have covered extensively here on the ground how and where Hamas have been putting these rocket launchers and command and control positions and drone capabilities. All of these are within the civilian arena, which creates a huge challenge for us. Of course we are moving forward, and we're pursuing Hamas. And we intend to defeat them and make sure that they never, ever wield the sword of death above our heads again. ACOSTA: All right. IDF Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, thank you very
much for your time. We appreciate it.
LERNER: Good day.
ACOSTA: All right, in the meantime, we are getting closer here in Washington to the chance of a government shutdown, and the former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy has some harsh words for the Republicans who ousted him. But are they making any progress inside that Republican conference toward avoiding a shutdown? That's next.
ACOSTA: Tonight chaos and finger-pointing among House Republicans as the U.S. barrels towards another spending deadline. Lawmakers have just five days to fund the government and avoid a shutdown. Last time Congress faced this kind of fiscal cliff, it cost then Speaker Kevin McCarthy his job. He's now railing against the members of his own party who ousted him, accusing them of not being conservative.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): This really shows the conference is not united. We're going to have to heal ourselves to be able to serve the people. I'm a conservative who loves to govern. I don't believe them to be conservative.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: The former speaker reserving his harshest criticism for Nancy Mace and Matt Gaetz who led the charge to depose him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: I don't believe she wins re-election. I don't think she'll probably have earned the right to get re-elected. People have to earn the right to be here. He doesn't have a conservative bent in his philosophy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: As for Gaetz, he seemingly shrugged off the attack, sending McCarthy thoughts and prayers as he works through his grief. But has the former speaker had enough after being the most powerful Republican in Washington? The now rank and file congressman suggested he may not seek re-election.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: I got the holidays. I'll talk to my family about the ideas of what going forward, and then I'll make a decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ACOSTA: Here with us now to discuss that and more, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist Maria Cardona, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist Alice Stewart, and Democratic strategist and senior adviser to Bernie Sanders 2020 presidential campaign Chuck Rocha.
We've got a big table here. We got everybody here.
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Love it.
ACOSTA: I love all the company I have on a Sunday evening. Appreciate it.
Alice, let me go to you first. What's going on with Kevin McCarthy and these comments that he made to our Manu Raju? He does not sound like a happy camper.
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: No. He's very frustrated. And unfortunately this is a situation that he put himself in. You know, when you make a deal with the devil, someone like Matt Gaetz, then this is what happens. You say it takes one person to kick me out of my position. That's what happens. And Matt Gaetz has a personal grievance against Kevin McCarthy, and he raised his hand and got all of his vocal hardline Republicans to speak out against Kevin McCarthy. And he is now out of his position.
But at the same time, I think McCarthy is right. Matt Gaetz wants to be a TV congressman. He likes going on conservative news outlets. He likes going on conservative radio because he likes to be the center of attention, and he knows this helps his brand and his image, and he raises a heck of a lot of money off of this. So this is about Matt Gaetz fundraising for himself and not governing for the people of this country.
ACOSTA: And Maria, McCarthy is going after Nancy Pelosi in all of this. Let's listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCCARTHY: In December before I was elected, I started having problems with getting the votes, which she did as well. And I told her the issue was bringing back this motion to vacate. The first thing she said, just give it to them. Just give it to them. We'd never allow that. It's not good for the House.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now Pelosi's spokesperson called McCarthy's comments nonsense. But what do you make of McCarthy blaming the Democrats? I mean, McCarthy put himself in this position.
CARDONA: Yes. You know, it is all part of not understanding how he got into it, which again to Alice's point, this was of his own doing. He's completely frustrated because he was once the most powerful Republican in Congress, and he is now rank and file, right? No one looks at him and says, this is a guy with power. No one looks at him and says he is the future of the Republican Party.
In fact, I think people kind of look at him and say they have regret for the ridiculousness that the Republican Party has had to go through, the ridiculousness of what the country has had to go through because of the position that he put himself in. But I do think that in some ways, Republicans are kind of looking at his fundraising prowess, and they're saying that's something that we actually do miss because Speaker Johnson certainly does not have that prowess, does not have the connections, does not have the donors.
I think Kevin McCarthy is going to try to squeeze everything he can before he leaves office.
ACOSTA: And, Chuck, let me ask you, I mean, I want to switch to the 2024 campaign because Trump had this rally up in New Hampshire yesterday. And one of the things that we've heard from Republicans up until this point about President Biden, they say he doesn't have the mental acuity to be president and so on. But we have been noticing that Donald Trump has had a lot of gaffes of his own, verbal slipups, mental lapses and so on. Let's listen to this and talk about it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The head of Hungary, a very tough, strong, guy, Viktor Orban. They were interviewing him two weeks ago, and they said, what would you advise President Obama? The whole world seems to be exploding.
We did with Obama, we won an election that everyone said couldn't be won. Kim Jong-un leads 1.4 billion people, and there's no doubt about who the boss is. And they want me to say he's not an intelligent man.
There's a man Viktor Orban. Did anyone ever hear of him? He's probably like one of the strongest leaders anywhere in the world. He's the leader of -- right? He's the leader of Turkey.
We would be in World War II very quickly.
When I came here, everyone thought Bush was going to win. If they thought Bush because Bush supposedly was a military person. Great. You know what he was -- he got us into the -- he got us into the Middle East. How did that work out, right?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, Chuck, the Biden campaign is starting to point to this. Even the DeSantis campaign has been pointing to this, trying to get some traction. Isn't this an issue for Trump, too?
CHUCK ROCHA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Absolutely. I just need to know if that was really his music playing there behind him or did you all put that in there?
ACOSTA: We did not put that in there. ROCHA: That's good and crazy is what that is right there.
ACOSTA: Doesn't help.
ROCHA: I think that there's a reason why. People said that Trump is not showing up at these debates because he's so far ahead and there's no way he could lose. I honestly believe his handlers don't have him there for this exact reason, so they can wait and roll him out at the very end and try to control him as much as possible, if you can control Trump.
Look, I've said this, me and Maria has talked about this. In focus groups, when you ask people about Joe Biden, folks do say he's old. But when you ask about Donald Trump, they say he's old and crazy, and I think that's what you just proved.
STEWART: I think our CNN poll says it best on this issue in terms of the stamina to be president of the United States. Only 25 percent of those polled said that President Biden has the stamina to serve as president again. 53 percent said Donald Trump has the stamina. Not great numbers for either one of them, but Donald Trump has twice the confidence by people that we polled to have the stamina to be president.
CARDONA: But this is exactly why the Biden campaign is now starting to really underscore this and to point this out because what Chuck said, Trump is not in these debates. And I completely agree. I think he's not in these debates because his handlers know that this is what people will see. And the more that we remind people what Trump not just did for four years but who he will be and what he will do if he's allowed in the Oval Office again, that is going to scare voters.
And that is going to allow for the Biden campaign to make the contrast between him and a crazy Trump, a racist Trump, a xenophobic Trump, an out-of-control Trump, which is exactly what the American people resoundingly rejected in 2020.
ACOSTA: But, Chuck, do you think the Biden campaign has done enough to really draw these contrasts with Donald Trump, to really go after him? They've been sort of waiting for these other Republican rivals to do it. They really haven't done it.
ROCHA: Look, everybody knows that I ran against Joe Biden in the primary, and I give Biden props when I need to give him props, and I'm critical when I need to be critical. I've run campaigns for a living. The campaign has just now started. When you start spending real money to go talk to folks, and we've seen the repercussions. We have talked about on this program. He's created 14 million jobs? If you go ask somebody about that, they don't really know what he's done.
But now to Maria's point, they've started running the ads. You've seen them even up in Spanish in places like Arizona and Nevada because they know they have softness there. And that's when the campaign really starts, when you start seeing money being spent to go talk to people. When you just showed the person in New Hampshire talking to folks is crazy, that's when the campaign really starts.
STEWART: I think it's pretty bad when you don't want to talk about the issues. You don't want to talk about how bad the economy is or how bad crime is or how bad you're handling foreign policy. You just look at the gaffes and factual inaccuracies that your opponent says. I think that's pretty pathetic.
CARDONA: We'll talk issues. We'll talk reproductive rights, we'll talk freedom, we'll talk liberty. And when that's the contrast, Democrats will win.
ACOSTA: All right, guys, thanks very much. The table was big. There are a lot of issues to talk about. And we didn't get them all in there. We'll try next time.
Chuck, Alice, Maria, thanks very much.
Don't go too far. We have even more perspectives coming up from someone you might recognize. Geraldo Rivera joins us in just a few moments to talk about whether or not the former president has gone too far by attacking the family of Special Counsel Jack Smith. There's Geraldo right there. He'll join the discussion in just a moment. Be right back.
ACOSTA: We're following the breaking news out of Israel, including word from the White House that a 3-year-old American child is among the many hostages being held in Gaza. We will have much more on that in a moment.
But first this weekend Donald Trump is giving voters a preview of what a second term in the White House would look like. More insults, attacks on democracy, and cozying up to dictators.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We have deranged Jack Smith. His wife and family despise me much more than he does. And he decides -- I think he's about a 10. They're about a 15 on a scale of 10.
President Xi is just like central casting. There's nobody in Hollywood that could play the role of President Xi, the look, the strength, the voice. It's good to have a good relationship with Putin and Xi and all these people. They have lots of nuclear weapons. And Kim Jong-un, I have a good relationship with. He's a tough, smart guy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Joining us now to discuss is journalist and former FOX News host Geraldo Rivera. Geraldo, great to see you again as always. Thank you so much.
GERALDO RIVERA, JOURNALIST: Hey, Jim. You too.
ACOSTA: You know, Trump said a lot of stuff this weekend, but one of the things I did want to ask you about is his continuing to go after the special counsel, Jack Smith. And this time around, I'm sure you saw this at that rally in New Hampshire, he went after the special counsel's family. What, if anything, can be done about that? Should the judge be looking at really going after Trump for these comments?
RIVERA: You know, the gag orders are tough, and right now I think they are suspended basically. So he can say whatever he feels, you know, he needs to say however unfortunate. Jack Smith, though, Jim, doesn't seem to me to be particularly fragile. The guy reminds me, you know, I look at him, I would think about Dracula coming after you. He's got Trump, it seems to me, by the privates in a couple of these cases. The documents case and the January 6th case.
What is, I think, more unusual is when former President Trump goes after the family. Jack Smith's wife, I don't -- I think her name is Katy Chevigny, a film documentarian. She made an award-winning film about Michelle Obama. She also is a big donor, gave $2,000 to the Biden campaign. So he's got a beef in terms of, you know, the personal prejudice of the family.
Going after families, though, generally speaking has classically been thought of as rotten, as below the belt, as very unseemly and unnecessary.
ACOSTA: Yes, but what is the political leanings of the family have to do with --
RIVERA: But with Donald Trump everything, everything --
ACOSTA: Yes. No, and I hear you. But what does the political leanings of the family or a wife, spouse of the special counsel have to do with anything, have to do with the special counsel? And isn't there something dangerous, Geraldo, because you know this. You've known Donald Trump for a long time. You saw what happened during his presidency. When he goes after people, it riles up his base. It riles up people out there who might be unstable and could pose a threat.
RIVERA: Well, I think that that is always a grim possibility that some freak will go too far. But in terms of Trump being, you know, triumph the insult dog, I don't think that that's particularly surprising. And I have to say in fairness, just one thing that might mitigate. I remember as an attorney, when I got before a judge, someone who I knew was sympathetic to my way of life and my, you know, knew him from playing football or that or this, you know, I was relieved when it was someone who is a hard ass who is tough on defendants.
[18:35:02] I was always -- you know, I said, oh, no, we've got a tough judge here. So I think in Trump's case, particularly the Alvin Bragg case, the Stormy Daniels case, and the -- the money case. The --
ACOSTA: The hush money case.
RIVERA: The overvaluation of his property cases.
RIVERA: You know, he's got very tough venues. Maybe it's inevitable given his flamboyant and probably in cases unlawful lifestyle, but it is -- I understand what motivates him, and he has been very successful. Look what he did. I was thinking with some friends the other day about what he did with Hillary Clinton. How he managed to take this stellar candidate, senator, secretary of state and so forth, and reduce her to lock her up and, you know, all these other pejoratives and shrunk her basically.
RIVERA: He's very good at that. And then going after Jack Smith, who scares him to death, is not surprising.
ACOSTA: Well, I mean, two different things, right? One is a political candidate. One is your rival for the presidency. The other is the special counsel. But I want to ask you about something else, Geraldo, and that is over the weekend, we saw Trump offering a preview of the actions he would take if he becomes president again. A source telling CNN, this is also reported in the "New York Times" Trump plans to round up undocumented immigrants living in the U.S. and place them in detention camps.
He'd also re-implement his so-called Muslim ban, use Title 42 to turn away asylum seekers, speed up mass deportations. Trump is also saying he'd indict his political opponents if he's re-elected. What's your reaction when you hear this kind of stuff about what Trump would do in a second term?
RIVERA: Well, I think that Trump sees -- he sees immigration, Jim, as his abortion in the sense that this is something that he believes can appeal to his base and beyond. Biden's kindness has had a toxic impact. It has had exactly the opposite to the intended impact. It's been a welcome mat, and as a result, the southern border has been overrun and has given Trump --
ACOSTA: But detention camps?
RIVERA: -- and the Republicans an issue to run on.
ACOSTA: But, Geraldo, detention camps?
RIVERA: And he will do -- I believe that with Stephen Miller is Doctor Evil -- ACOSTA: You think he would do that? You think he's serious?
RIVERA: Dr. Evil in charge, I believe he is serious. I believe that in his mind, he sees a very simplistic answer to this problem, you know, brutality. He will deport. He will hold as many as he can, deport as many as he can as fast as he can. He'll undo the Dreamers. He'll make the Dreamers into nightmares. He will scare the bejesus out of potential immigrants, and I think it will have a positive impact on the southern border.
However cruel he is, the more cruel he is, I think the more -- the lower illegal immigration will be. It is sad to say that. I hate that there is a cause and effect. But Trump's tough guy demeanor last time around, even threatening the president of Mexico with cutting off trade and all the other draconian threats he made had a result to reduce undocumented immigration.
He will be cruel. He doesn't care. And the sad thing is it will appeal to his base in ways that I think will be very disappointing to those of us who want a pluralistic, inclusive society.
ACOSTA: But, Geraldo, is that smart politics for the former president? We've seen him do this before, demonize immigrants in a way that really alienates independent voters, female voters in swing states and so on. And as we're seeing polls showing Trump making inroads in the Latino community, this doesn't sound like very smart politics, I think, to a lot of folks.
RIVERA: I don't think the Latino community is monolithic. There are many, many in south Texas and Florida and so forth that have become, you know, middle class and deplore the disorder. Now, I'm not speaking for myself. I'm saying that I know for a fact that in New York, in Chicago, in many northern cities that have received busloads of undocumented immigrants, there is real bitterness toward the immigrants.
Vagrant and on the sidewalks and disrupting lifestyles and so on and so forth. I am a big believer in immigration. I think the United States is stronger as a result of our immigrants. But I do believe that there is now some real disquiet. There is now some real unease about the anarchy that some -- that unbridled immigration has brought, and I think Trump senses that. He's like a dog after red meat.
He will take that issue. Putting Steven Miller in charge is the signal. He's put Dr. Evil in charge of his immigration policy.
RIVERA: You will see the camps, and the crackdown will be so draconian, that it will ultimately, I believe, rebound against Trump and may work against him. But as of right now, he's smart to use it. He's scared to death about the abortion issue. But he's reveling in the fact that the rivals, the five rivals that he has left in the game are not making a dent in his overwhelming lead. And his lead also over Joe Biden in the swing states as you know, Jim.
ACOSTA: Yes. All right. Geraldo, I knew it would be a lively discussion. Great to see you as always. Thanks a lot.
RIVERA: My pleasure.
ACOSTA: Good to see you, sir. We'll be right back.
ACOSTA: A gruesome discovery in Southern California has led to the arrest of the son of a once powerful celebrity agent.
Samuel Haskell was arrested on suspicion of murder after a woman's body part was found inside a dumpster. Now police are searching for the suspect's wife and in-laws.
CNN's Camila Bernal joins us from Los Angeles.
Camila, gruesome story. What's the latest?
CAMILA BERNAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It truly is. And it's a community that right now is terrified just hearing the details of what happened here. You mentioned 35-year-old Samuel Haskell. He was arrested on suspicion of murder. And this was after someone who was out in the neighborhood in Los Angeles looking around in dumpster bins found a bag with a woman's torso inside.
Of course that person called police. Authorities went and investigated. They say that so far, they do not know who that torso belongs to. They say the identification process takes a long time, especially because of the way that this was found and the manner in which that body part was in. And so, again, this is complicated, and it will take some time. But right now what authorities are doing is trying to find exactly what happened here.
They say that the evidence in the crime scene led them to Samuel Haskell's house, and he shared a home with his wife, with three children, and the in-laws. Right now we know the children are safe. They're with family members. But still his wife and in-laws are missing.
Now, the "L.A. Times" is reporting that the torso is assumed to be his wife's. But, again, we still have three people missing. And here's what authorities said after they found the human remains.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DETECTIVE EFREN GUITIEREZ, LAPD: The remains are of an unidentified female. Her arms and other parts of her body are missing, including the head. A murder suspect is dismembering a body, it's to delay identification. So that, by implication, would mean that they may have been known to each other.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BERNAL: Now, it's unclear if Samuel Haskell has an attorney. We have also reached out to his father who, as you mentioned, Jim, is a prominent person here in Hollywood who was an agent and an Emmy- winning producer. We have not heard back. But we will be in court tomorrow at 8:30 in the morning when he makes that court appearance -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right. Such an awful story. Camila Bernal, thank you very much.
In the meantime, Israel is being accused of cracking down on free speech. What's happening and why speech advocates are worried about that. That's next.
ACOSTA: The Israel-Hamas war has taken a severe toll on journalists in complicated news gathering. First, there is the danger we witnessed of reporters suddenly coming under attack and having to flee for their lives. The Committee to Protect Journalists reports 40 journalists and media workers have been killed so far. Add to that the pressure of verifying as quickly as possible what happened when sources can be unreliable and facts are few.
CNN's Oliver Darcy is closely watching the situation.
Oliver, I mean, I think this is particularly a problem in Gaza right now. There's just not a whole lot of independent media operating inside of Gaza where we can see what is taking place on the ground. So we're having to piece together what we hear from the Israelis, what we're hearing from the Palestinians inside Gaza. It's just extremely difficult to cover this time around.
What's your sense of it?
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jim, there are a number of obstacles and the big one, of course, being that it's impossible for newsrooms right now to get journalists inside Gaza. So they're relying primarily on people who are already inside the Gaza Strip prior to the October 7th terror attack against Israel, and so that's the big issue. You're not going to see U.S. television anchors anchoring shows from inside Gaza.
There are no U.S. television correspondents there. Instead, you're primarily seeing newsrooms rely on freelancers and some producers who are on the ground there. And, of course, those people who are in the region are experiencing their own issues. Of course, power has been going on and off inside Gaza. But basic supplies like food and water, we're seeing shortages of those. And so the people who are trying to report are battling problems of their own created by this war.
And then of course, Jim, as you mentioned, the extreme physical danger these people are being put in as they try to get information out to the rest of the world. As you mentioned, the Committee to Protect Journalists which is monitoring and tracking deaths since the onset of this war now reports that 40 journalists have lost their lives, primarily from within the Gaza Strip as they try to get information out to the rest of the world. And so newsrooms are facing a number of problems here.
ACOSTA: Yes. And there are reports of Israel cracking down on free speech. What do you know about that?
DARCY: This is alarming a lot of free expression advocates, Jim. There have been reports where the Israeli police have showed up to different residents, primarily Palestinian residents who are living inside Israel or citizens of Israel, and they have been arrested in some cases for apparently sharing things in solidarity with the Palestinian people inside Gaza.
Now the Israelis have said to "The Washington Post," a story published today, that they're only going after people who are identifying with terrorists or expressing support of terrorism, but a number of people, you know, some who have talked to CNN have expressed shock that they were targeted by authorities saying that they were just expressing support for the Palestinian people inside Gaza -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right. It's an extremely complicated story to cover right now and very difficult, very dangerous.
Oliver Darcy, really appreciate you taking some time with us this evening to break this down. Thank you so much for that.
And to sign up for Oliver's "Reliable Sources" newsletter, go to CNN.com/ReliableSources.
Coming up next, the latest on the news that a 3-year-old American child is among the hostages Hamas is holding right now. Plus, new U.S. air strikes tonight against Iranian-affiliated targets. We'll have more on that in just a few moments as well. Stay with us.
ACOSTA: You are live in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Jim Acosta in Washington. Good evening. We are beginning this hour with the breaking news. We are learning new details about some of the hostages taken from Israel by Hamas.
The White House says one of the Americans being held captive is a 3- year-old child.