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CNN International: Director: Catastrophic Conditions Inside Al- Shifa Hospital; Hamas Accused of Operating Command Center Below Hospital; Donald Trump Jr. Takes the Stand Again in Civil Fraud Trial; David Cameron Returns to Politics as British Foreign Secretary; Possible Government Shutdown Looms Over Washington; China Intimidating Critics in U.S. Via Online Campaign. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired November 14, 2023 - 04:00   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello and a warm welcome to our viewers joining us in the U.S. and all around the world. I'm Maxwell in London. Bianca is off this week. But just ahead on CNN NEWSROOM.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Gaza's largest hospital collapsing under the weight of war.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The hospital must be protected.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump junior was the first witness to take the stand in his family's defense for the New York Attorney General civil fraud allegations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They wanted to set the tone today in order to persuade the judge that this was the quintessential American business success story.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In his first major decision as Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson's moving to essentially pick a fight with his right flank over government funding.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think it's a failure. I'm not voting for a clean CR.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster and Bianca Nobilo.

FOSTER: Well, it's Tuesday, November the 14th, 9:00 a.m. here in London and 11:00 a.m. in Gaza, where the healthcare system appears to be on the brink of collapse. That's after weeks of intense fighting and life threatening shortages. The director of Gaza's largest hospitals, Al-Shifa, called the conditions catastrophic. For not only patients, but also the thousands of people sheltering inside and outside the facility. He says there's no more water, food or milk for babies and no fuel to power generators.

Both Israel and a U.S. official claim that Hamas runs its operations from below the hospital, but the militant group and doctors have denied that. Gaza's second biggest hospital Al-Quds, doesn't have electricity either. The Israeli military says it killed more than 20 Hamas fighters who fired on Israeli troops from the entrance to Al- Quds while embedded with civilians.

Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is warning that Israel will see the war to its end, but Gaza's hospitals are getting caught in the crossfire. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has more. A warning that this report does contain graphic images.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gaza's largest hospital collapsing under the weight of war, doctors at Al-Shifa Hospital scrambling to keep patients alive amid power outages and severe shortages. Including these premature babies, wrapped in foil and blankets in a desperate attempt to keep them alive out of their incubator.

In the hospital's yard, dozens of dead bodies slowly decay, unable to be buried. The hospital's complex has been struck repeatedly amid nearby fighting with Hamas militants. The Israeli military now closing in, accusing Hamas of operating an underground command and control center beneath the sprawling multi block medical facility.

REAR ADMIRAL DANIEL HAGARI, ISRAELI DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: It is here in Al-Shifa hospital where Hamas operates some of its command control cells. This is where the direct rocket attacks command Hamas forces.

DIAMOND (voice-over): But the Israeli military says this image, which CNN cannot independently verify, shows the location of those underground facilities. And now, as Israeli forces encircle the hospital, a U.S. official backing up Israel's allegations, saying Hamas has a command center under the hospital. Uses its fuel intended for the hospital and positions its fighters inside and around the hospital complex.

Tonight, the Israeli military says it found this cache of weapons in the basement of another hospital, Al-Rantisi Children's Hospital, which was evacuated this weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's a body vest for terrorists to explode on forces among hospitals, among patients.

DIAMOND (voice-over): The Israeli military also uncovering this tunnel entrance, which the IDF says is next to a school and about 200 yards from the same hospital.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A woman's clothes and a rope.

DIAMOND (voice-over): And saying they found signs that Israeli hostages may have been held in the hospital's basement. Today, the Israeli military also says it opened fire on Hamas militants who were embedded among civilians at the entrance of Al-Quds Hospital, where this man with a rocket propelled grenade can be seen in drone footage released by the IDF.

Hamas denies it operates in hospitals. There is some past evidence linking Hamas to the hospital.

The human rights group Amnesty International, writing that in 2014, Hamas interrogated and tortured alleged Israeli collaborators in a disused outpatient clinic within the grounds of Gaza City's main Al- Shifa hospital.


The Israeli military has opened corridors to evacuate people in and around Al-Shifa Hospital, but medical officials there say there is no way to evacuate many of their 700 patients.

How do we get 700 patients out on stretchers and beds? The director general of the Hamas run Health Ministry tells CNN. Some of them are in intensive care and some of them are amputees. How do they want them to leave? For now, many are simply trapped.

Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Ashkelon, Israel.


FOSTER: Clare Sebastian with us taking a closer look at what's going on in Gaza as our governments around the world and they're increasing pressure, aren't they, for a softer touch. I don't know how would you describe it?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A softer touch, in some cases a ceasefire, and there is an acknowledgement now from the Foreign Minister in Israel that that pressure is increasing. Eli Cohen saying on Monday that he believes they have two to three weeks before that pressure really intensifies.

And I think, you know, that time scale is up for debate, right, because we are already seeing it intensifying. We're seeing calls from aid agencies for a ceasefire, the collective Arab and. Islamic call over the weekend. We've seen the French President, Emmanuel Macron, come out and say that there's, you know, an immediate need for a pause, going to a ceasefire.

As for Israel, though, the Foreign Minister is saying that even when you get to that two to three-week point, that doesn't necessarily mean that Israel will change course in the war. And we definitely are still hearing that same sentiment from the Prime Minister. Take a listen to his comments on Monday.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): This is neither an operation nor a round, but a war to the end. It is important to me that you know this. This is not lip service, but from the heart and mind. If we do not finish them, it will come back.


SEBASTIAN: You know, obviously the big question as well as the United States, which is Israel's most powerful biggest backer. They are, I think still some distance away from actually calling for a ceasefire, even though we are seeing more nuance creep into the rhetoric, certainly from Secretary Blinken. On Monday we had President Biden really choosing his words very carefully but saying, you know, that he hopes there will be less intrusive action around the hospitals. The hospitals should be protected. It's a -- there's a cost to this, right, for the U.S., too. Diplomatically they are seeing protests at home. They're seeing increasing calls from certain quarters to push more on Israel.

You know, there's a protest in London over the weekend that culminated at the U.S. Embassy. And we're seeing internal strife within some government departments in the U.S. as well. And the State Department, Secretary Blinken sending a letter to staff, saying that he understands certain people disagree with what's going on. We've seen it in the White House and. USAID, I think. You know the view when it comes to the U.S. is even if people don't explicitly blame them for what's happening in Gaza, they do feel that the U.S. has the power to put the most pressure on Israel.

FOSTER: OK, Clare, thank you.

Donald Trump Jr., back in the witness stand on Monday. It was his second appearance in his father's $250 million civil fraud case. But this time he was testifying for the defense. Don Jr. walked through the court through a fawning video presentation of various Trump properties aimed at refuting claims that his father and others lied about the value of Trump properties to get better rates with banks. Kara Scannell has more.


KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Donald Trump junior was the first witness to take the stand in his family's defense to the New York Attorney General civil fraud allegations. His testimony was like a promotional pitch. He described his father as a visionary, someone who was an artist. He said he had taken dilapidated buildings and turned them into spectacular estates. Said he transformed swampland in Florida into a spectacular golf course. And said that the old post office building in Washington, DC was a war zone when they acquired it and that his father turned it into one of the finest hotels in all the world.

And he also took umbrage, he said, at the valuation of Mar-a-Lago, which a tax assessment had placed at $18 million. This has been something that his father has railed about outside of the courtroom, Don Jr., saying that the atrium in that estate alone would take more than $18,000,000 to build today. He spoke to reporters after court. Here's what he said.

DONALD TRUMP JR., DONAL TRUMP'S SON: I think they understand that they have nothing as it relates to a case other than, I guess, an overzealous attorney general who would destroy all of New York business by going after transactions where there are no victims. It's a disgrace that this is happening right now.

SCANNELL: The judge gave the Trump side more leeway today, denying the attorney general's objections over showing the PowerPoint presentation of the Trump properties telling the attorney general's team that they had six weeks to put on their case. He was going to let the Trump side but on theirs. Next up will be a number of expert witnesses, some former Trump organization executives, bankers and Eric Trump himself. The team said that Trump made himself even be called back to the stand.

Kara Scannell, CNN New York.


FOSTER: The prosecution push to block Donald Trump Jr.'s presentation, arguing that it was self-promoting and inaccurate. But the judge allowed it.


We asked the former U.S. deputy assistant attorney general if he was surprised to see the former president's son treated so gently in the courtroom.


TOM DUPREE, FORMER U.S. DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: I think from the judges perspective, his attitude is he needs to give the defense ample leeway. He gave the prosecutors a lot of leeway. And this is a judge who knows very well that any decision he renders in this case is going up on appeal. And so he wants to insulate his decision from arguments on appeal that he didn't let the defense put on their case. In fact, there were several points today where he emphasized that he was going to let the Trump defense team put all on this -- put on this evidence, put on this testimony. It didn't mean he found that elegance -- relevant or persuasive, but he nonetheless wanted to allow them to have their day in court and have their say.


FOSTER: Well, I'm all -- amid all of this legal problems, Donald Trump senior turning up the hate speech on the campaign trail. The former president spent the weekend echoing the kind of language used by Hitler and Mussolini, much to the delight of his supporters. Kristen Holmes has more.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump ramping up his inflammatory rhetoric.

DONALD TRUMP, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within.

HOLMES (voice-over): Denigrating his political opponents on the left as quote, vermin, during a Veterans Day speech in New Hampshire.

TRUMP: We will root out The communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.

HOLMES (voice-over): The White House condemning Trump's remarks, likening them to language used by authoritarian leaders.

Quote: Using terms like that about dissent would be unrecognizable to our founders, but horrifyingly recognizable to American veterans who put on their country's uniform in the 1940s.

White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.

As the former president commands the GOP primary with his combative rhetoric, his allies are already planning an agenda for a potential second term. The proposals include leveraging the Department of Justice to go after his political rivals.

TRUMP: I mean, if somebody, if I happen to be president and I see somebody who's doing well and beating me very badly, I say, go down and indict them.

HOLMES (voice-over): A Trump 2025 agenda would also expand the hardline immigration policies Trump pursued during his first term in office.

TRUMP: We will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.

HOLMES (voice-over): With the mass detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants.

TRUMP: I will shut down this travesty, terminate all work permits for illegal aliens in demand that Congress send me a bill outlawing all welfare payments to illegal migrants of any kind.

HOLMES (voice-over): It's part of an escalation in anti-immigrant language by the former president.

TRUMP: It's poisoning the blood of our country. It's so bad and people are coming in with disease. People are coming in with every possible thing that you can have.

HOLMES (voice-over): Trump's darkening political rhetoric appears to resonate with Republicans. As South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who campaigned on a more optimistic message, suddenly ended his presidential bid Sunday after failing to gain traction in the polls.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I think the voters who are the most remarkable people on the planet have been really clear that they're telling me not now, Tim. HOLMES: And the Trump 2025 agenda as it's been laid out here is really just the tip of the iceberg. We have also heard about Trump allies who are building a database of loyalists, people who would go and serve the president from day one.

We've also heard about allies working with lawyers, trying to draft executive orders so that these policies can be implemented, that Donald Trump can sign off on them as soon as he gets into office should he be elected.

Kristen Holmes, CNN, Washington.


FOSTER: And next, they returned to frontline politics after a 7 year absence. Former British Prime Minister David Cameron heading back to government service in this first cabinet today.

And the new U.S. House Speaker is being put to the test days away from a looming government shutdown.

Plus, CNN uncovers a vast campaign of intimidation by the Chinese government targeting people on U.S. soil. Details of the investigation coming up.



FOSTER: A surprised cabinet reshuffle here in the U.K., leading to a stunning return to politics for former British Prime Minister David Cameron. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced on Monday that he had sacked Home Secretary Suella Braverman after her inflammatory comments about the policing of pro-Palestinian protests in London. Sunak then announced he would be bringing back Cameron as the Foreign Secretary. He replaces James Cleverly, who became Home secretary after Braverman was fired. Among the other moves, Victoria Atkins has been appointed Health Secretary, replacing Steve Barclay, who became Britain's Environment Secretary. Cameron, who resigned as Prime Minister in 2016, says he has gladly accepted his new role.


DAVID CAMERON, BRITISH FOREIGN SECRETARY: Well, I know it's not usual for a Prime Minister to come back in this way, but I believe in public service. The Prime Minister asked me to do this job and it's a time where we have some daunting challenges as a country. The conflict in the Middle East, the war in Ukraine. And of course, I hope that six years as Prime Minister, 11 years leading the Conservative Party gives me some useful experience and contacts and relationships and knowledge that I can help the Prime Minister.


FOSTER: U.S. House members have until Friday to reach a budget agreement or a continuing resolution at least to avoid a government shutdown. A new House Speaker, Mike Johnson, has unveiled a two part funding proposal, but he's already getting pushback from members of his own party. CNN's Manu Raju is in Washington with the details.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: In his first major decision as Speaker of the House, Mike Johnson moving to essentially pick a fight with his right flank over government funding. Deciding not to include spending cuts. Democrats said they would not accept a government funding plan that included cuts. Johnson essentially acknowledging that trying to move on a proposal to avoid a government shutdown by the end of Friday.


The question is, will he have the votes and how can he maneuver around the opposition that is growing among his right flank? Recall that Kevin McCarthy have kept the government open, pushed a plan to keep the government open for roughly 45 days or so that did not include spending cuts and they would needed the support of Democrats. Republicans who are critical of him essentially pushed him out. And that was one big reason why.

Now, Speaker Johnson's doing essentially the same thing, except splitting up into two separate parts, extending government funding for some agencies until mid January, other agencies until early February. And that has caused significant concern on the right flank, including from those same Republicans who pushed out McCarthy.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, Speaker Johnson's been on the job for what, 2-3 weeks now. And he -- it's like throwing in a quarterback in the fourth quarter and expecting him to make up for 3/4 of failure and you're behind 35-nothing. So you know, again, I don't support the bill.

RAJU: Was it though toppling McCarthy given you --


RAJU: The same bill?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Worth it every day and twice on Sunday. At least he doesn't lie to us.

RAJU: Are you disappointed at Speaker Johnson's first decision here to advance this plan without spending cuts?

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE (R-GA): I think it's a failure. I'm not voting for a clean CR.

RAJU: Now the question at the moment is how many Democrats will ultimately vote for this plan. Because of this opposition on the right, it's a narrowly divided chamber, It would require support from Democrats, given the opposition that is building in the House GOP conference over this plan. We do expect the Senate to get behind it, even as the White House has pushed back and criticized his plan over the weekend. The Senate Majority Leader, the Democrat from New York, Chuck Schumer indicating openness and potential support for this plan because it does not include spending cuts. Which is the belief if this gets out of the House, it will pass the Senate, averting a shutdown for now but a bumpy ride is expected from here until Friday.

Manu Raju, CNN, Capitol Hill.


FOSTER: After a series of embarrassing news stories involving some of the justices, the U.S. Supreme Court has announced a code of conduct. It follows months of reporting by the media outlet ProPublica, detailing undisclosed gifts to some Supreme Court justices from wealthy political donors. The eight page code is derived from one that applies to lower courts.

It says: Justices should not be a speaker or guest of honors at a fundraising event. And that they should, quote, make a reasonable effort to stay informed about the financial interests in themselves and their household. But the code lists no specific restrictions on gifts, travel, or real estate deals. And it doesn't explain how it will be enforced, nor by whom. Still, some analysts say it is a start.


JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: We've finally got at least a written code. So it is the first step in what members of the public, Senate Democrats, watchdog groups, you know, a host of media commentators had been pushing for. So it is a first step. And you know, the Chief Justice John Roberts had really been struggling behind the scenes. First even get a majority to do something, and in the end he was able to get unanimity. And I think it's because of the kind of atmosphere you just referred to there in terms of the news stories, the constant drum beat of can't they have some sort of written rules the way lower court judge have?

But the key thing is exactly as you said, there are no enforcement mechanisms in what they've presented. And also, no way for anyone in the public on The Hill or elsewhere to try to lodge a complaint and have it actually aired in some way. So it's again, the justices saying, you know, trust us. But I do want to say that at least they've taken this first step.


FOSTER: The White House says U.S. President Joe Biden has kicked off a significant week of high level diplomacy, starting with his Monday meeting with Indonesia's President Joko Widodo, the leader of the world's largest Muslim Majority Nation, travelled to the White House for talks where he called for a ceasefire in Gaza. In the Oval Office, Mr. Biden touted steps the U.S. and Indonesia are taking to boost cooperation. But he didn't respond to Widodo's comments on Gaza.

On Wednesday, Mr. Biden will sit down with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping in California to discuss a number of issues, including bilateral relations between the two countries. And as the two leaders prepare to meet, a CNN review has found the

Chinese government has built the world's largest known online disinformation operation to harass its critics in the U.S. CNN's Donie O'Sullivan has the details.



CHEN POKONG, ACTIVIST AND U.S. CITIZEN: They use hateful words or threatening words.

JIAYANG FAN, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORKER": They will make life very uncomfortable for those who speak ill of China.

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): They are here on American soil thousands of miles from Beijing, but still being hounded and harassed by the Chinese government.


FAN: I was instantly flooded with messages asking me to kill myself.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Her name is Jiayang Fan, a writer for "The New Yorker." She's been targeted with a wave of online harassment since she covered pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong four years ago. More than 12,000 tweets calling her a traitor.

FAN: I was caught so off guard and I wasn't sure if it was a coordinated effort.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): It is a coordinated effort of fake and anonymous accounts, and it's called spamouflage.

DARREN LINVILL, PROFESSOR, MEDIA FORENSICS HUB, CLEMSON UNIVERSITY: Depending on how you measure it. It's the biggest disinformation campaign the world's ever seen.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Professor Darren Linvill from Clemson's media forensics hub has tracked spamouflage for years. But it's only now been revealed that the vast disinformation campaign is tied to the Chinese government.

LINVILL: Thousands and thousands of messages repeated over and over again.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): A CNN review of court documents, social media reports and interviews with victims reveals a massive, relentless campaign of intimidation by the Chinese government targeting people on U.S. soil.

QIU: They told me they will kill me if I don't delete my YouTube.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Jiajun Qiu posts pro-democracy YouTube videos criticizing the Chinese government from his office here at this church in Virginia. To hit back, the Chinese trolls post thousands of messages attacking him.

QIU: They cover people's eyes so the Chinese people cannot see the reality.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): A vast campaign of intimidation that even employs artists to create original illustrations to mock and harass its victims.

O'SULLIVAN: It's not just some guy in his basement.

LINVILL: No. I think it's clearly a very sophisticated effort. I'm often staggered at the number of platforms where we come across their content.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Some of the people behind spamouflage are these Chinese police officers, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The DOJ charged 34 Chinese police officers for using social media accounts to threaten, harass and intimidate specific victims in the United States. The indictment is full of pictures allegedly taken from inside the special trolling unit, showing laptops, phones and other equipment used as part of the operation.

A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy in Washington, D.C. said the DOJ's allegations are politically motivated and have no factual evidence or legal basis.

POKONG: Yeah, they tried to shut me up. They tried to silence me, you know, to minimize my voice.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): Chen Pokong spent nearly five years in a Chinese prison for his pro-democracy work. Now, he's an American citizen and campaigns from here.

POKONG: They started to make noises, yelling, shouting.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): At the height of COVID in 2021, he organized a Zoom meeting for pro-Chinese democracy activists in the U.S. But Chinese police officers, part of spamouflage, broke into the Zoom and shut it down.

POKONG: At that time I was myself even shocked. I said, what? The CCP don't even allow us to have a meeting -- overseas meeting.

O'SULLIVAN (voice-over): The U.S. State Department has warned that the Chinese government is spending billions of dollars annually on foreign information manipulation efforts. And if it goes unchecked, it will reshape the global information landscape.

JAMES RUBIN, SPECIAL ENVOY AND COORDINATOR, U.S. STATE DEPARTMENT: A Communist Party's bloodstream is propaganda, repeating it over and over again and trying to get everyone to repeat that same point of view and reject alternatives. That's in the DNA of communist parties.


FOSTER: Still to come, as Gaza faces an acute fuel shortage, the U.N. is warning it can't deliver desperately needed aid today. Details just ahead.

Plus, we're learning new details about the federal investigation into the New York City mayor's campaign finances. Now that's just ahead.