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IDF: Troops Will Advance Anywhere Hamas Is Found; AAA: 55M Plus Americans Expected To Travel For Thanksgiving. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired November 18, 2023 - 15:00   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: All right, hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me this Saturday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.

And we begin in Israel where families are desperate for the return of the 237 hostages who have now been held by Hamas for six weeks. Right now families and supporters of those hostages are gathered in Tel Aviv. They're calling on Israel's government to do everything they can to bring them home safely. And it comes as Israel Defense Forces continue their battle in Gaza. Officials now vowing to advance anywhere Hamas is found with increasing indications that could mean IDF forces expanding ground operations into southern Gaza.

Meanwhile, the humanitarian crisis is growing across the enclave. Following evacuations at Al-Shifa Hospital, one official says six doctors remain to care for the remaining 120 patients, too vulnerable to move. The Palestinian authorities Ministry of Health says only nine of Gaza's 35 hospitals are still operating. Fuel tankers and other aid entering Gaza through the Rafah border crossing today, the Israeli war cabinet agreeing to allow two fuel trucks to enter daily. But the U.N. says the limited supply is far from enough to meet Gaza's urgent needs.

Let's go now to CNN's Jeremy Diamond live for us at that hostage rally in Tel Aviv. And it actually just ended but, Jeremy, what have people been telling you?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well tonight, Fredricka 10s of 1000s of Israelis gathering here in Tel Aviv as well as in Jerusalem, to demand not only the release of these hostages, but also to put pressure on the Israeli government in order for them to reach a deal to secure the release of at least some of these hostages. For weeks now, we know that the Israeli government has been negotiating with Hamas via the Qatari government with the assistance of the United States. There appears to be a deal on the table that is being negotiated that could see dozens of women and children released in exchange for a multiday pause in fighting, but it is unclear if the Israeli government will take that deal. And so tonight, Israelis demanding with chants of now, now, now for those hostages to be released.

I spoke with the cousin of one of those hostages tonight. This woman had been taken hostage with her husband and her daughter. But she sacrificed herself when there was a moment of opportunity to get away. Her husband and her daughter were able to get away but she has been held hostage in Gaza for 42 days. Her cousin tells me that she is anxious and frustrated.


MIA ROMAN, COUSIN OF HOSTAGE YARDEN ROMAN: Of course, I'm frustrated. I, again, I don't know if I can blame anyone. I don't know what's going on behind the scenes. This is a terrorist organization. I'm not -- whatever.

I wouldn't know how to do this kind of negotiation. But I do know on a very basic level that my cousin, an innocent woman was taken from her home over 40 days ago, and she's still not home. So for me, yes, of course, I'm frustrated. I want to see them all now that the -our ability to wait is nonexistent.


DIAMOND: And she also told me that she has to believe that the Israeli government will reach a deal for these hostages. She hopes that her faith in them is not misplaced. But those families of hostages will have an opportunity on Monday now to meet with the Israeli prime minister and his cabinet directly. The news of that coming tonight after 10s of 1000s of people rallied in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. So at least it appears that their pressure resulted in some gains here, although there's still some uncertainty about whether or not the Israeli government will actually agree to a deal to free those hostages. Fred.

WHITFIELD: All right. Jeremy Diamond in Tel Aviv, thank you.

All right, let's get more now on today's developments in Gaza. Joining me right now is former CIA operative, Bob Baer.

Bob, good to see you. So, in your view, does it seem inevitable at this point that Israel will move its offensive into South Gaza? And if so, how do they avoid massive civilian casualties?

ROBERT BAER, FORMER CIA OPERATIVE: Well, Fred, I think they're going to go into the south with a very good reason is they haven't caught the leadership, the military leadership or the political leadership. They haven't found the hostages. Their intelligence is, frankly, they're blind in what's going on in Gaza. And Bibi Netanyahu is determined to release the hostages and to get rid of Hamas. And to do that, he has to go all the way south.

The problem is there's no return address for Hamas. There's no command centers. I don't care what anybody says, they move around, there's just no way to find them until you take all of Gaza. And so I think that's what the Israelis are forced to do.

Fred, we have to be honest, they don't enjoy, you know, knocking these apartment buildings down. It's just they don't know how to get rid of Hamas unless they reoccupy Gaza. [15:05:04]

WHITFIELD: But -- well, that's interesting to hear because part of the IDF is defense about taking out particular structures is that they are doing precision strikes, which would then say they know where some of the operatives are. But now it sounds like you're saying that there has -- there have not been enough indicators that their strategy is working, and that moving further south means they're still looking for these operatives. They don't know where they are and essentially, they're just targeting all of these structures in hopes of taking out some kind of one an operative here or there?

BAER: Well, what they're depending on is intercepts. Occasionally, they'll go on up on Push to Talk radios, cell phones, and they'll go after those cell phones. But the problem is Hamas knows how the Israelis fight. And they've been preparing for this for 20 years, almost, you know, this kind of war street by street. And with Shifa we've seen there was no command center.

If there had been, the Israelis would have shown us pictures of it. And that doesn't, you know, addresses the question. Even they need command centers. It's a guerrilla group.

WHITFIELD: And, in fact, do you feel that the pressure is mounting on the IDF to reveal more evidence of its directive on its strategy, that it's not enough to just say, we believe, you know, this was a node, we believe this is activity where there was Hamas arsenal and that's why we took this out. That it's time to reveal more evidence of what their Intel is?

BAER: I don't think they have the evidence. That's why they're losing the public relations war around the world, day by day. And if they could produce, you know, actually capturing Hamas leadership or killing them, they would do it. If there had been a command center under Shifa Hospital, I think we would have seen pictures by now. I could be wrong but you know, it's been two or three days and we've seen no evidence of a command center there.

WHITFIELD: So then what does this do for the argument of so many globally who have said, war crimes are at issue here? If there isn't evidence that's going to be provided at this juncture, then when do you believe the tide will turn where there will be, I guess, a greater mounting accusations of war crimes that Israel is carrying out by not producing evidence of their strikes?

BAER: Well, Israel is in the same bind we were in Fallujah. In urban warfare, you have to use heavy weapons, you inevitably kill civilians, there's no choice and there's no way to kick out the leadership. So you can call it war crimes, if you like, but at the end of the day, the Israelis is going to have to flatten Gaza to remove Hamas. It's a movement it's integrated into society supported, democratically elected, and there's no indication that Palestinians are moving away from it at this point. So it's really a horrible situation with no easy out.

WHITFIELD: You said it. Bob Baer, thank you so much. BAER: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right, too dangerous to stay and only 30 minutes to leave. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has the harrowing story of one family and their desperate escape from Northern Gaza. And a warning some of the images and the content that we're about to show you are very graphic.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Gaza City, two year old Relit (ph) distracted through his family's most difficult night of the war so far.

With daybreak, the Israeli military calls with an order. You have 30 minutes to get out. It was 9:30am on November the 10th with makeshift white flags, they say the military told them to hold up, they prepare to move.

RAMI ABU JAMUS, RECORDED FAMILY AS THEY FLED TO SAFETY IN GAZA (through translator): We stay together, we don't rush. If there are strikes or shooting, it's not at us. We walk slowly. Slowly together. No rush.

The Israeli army knows, and I am recording because the army knows.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): With a little they can carry, they head out and into the unknown. Some too frail to walk.

ABU JAMUS (through translator): Carry him. Carry him. Put him in your back.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Journalist Rami Abu Jamus is filming the forced evacuation of his family along with more than 30 of their neighbors. His phone in his right hand and in the other, his son will Relit. He speaks French with his son looking for his wife ahead.



KARADSHEH (voice-over): While waiting for other elderly neighbors struggling to catch up.

ABU JAMUS (voice-over): Carry him, Eyad. Put him on your back.

Don't be scared. Stay on the right. Don't be scared. Be careful around this spot.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): That constant buzz you hear is Israeli drones overhead. It's been the soundtrack of Gaza for years. As they get to the other side of the street, Rami spots his neighbor, Abu Ahmad, something's not right.

ABU JAMUS (through translator): What's going on Abu Ahmad? What's wrong? It's all in God's hands. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My son Ahmad.

ABU JAMUS (through translator): It's all in God's hands. It's all in God's hands.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I told you, let's stay at home, my son. I told him, let's at home.

ABU JAMUS (through translator): Let's carry him. Let's carry him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I told you, let's stay at home, my son. I told him, let's at home, my son.

ABU JAMUS (through translator): Let's go. Let's go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): If only we had stayed at home, God. Ahmad? Ahmad. Are you breathing my son?

ABU JAMUS (through translator): Yes, he is breathing. He is breathing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Breathing? Let's carry him.

ABU JAMUS (through translator): Yes, yes. Carry him. Pray to God. Pray to God. He is still alive. There's breathing.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Ahmad was shot in the head, he didn't make it. And around the corner two others, a man and a woman also shot. It's ascertain who opened fire on the group. CNN geo located these videos and trace this deadly journey out of Central Gaza City. We provided the Israeli military with details of this incident and these coordinates, but they did not respond to our request for comment.


KARADSHEH: Hello, Rami.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): We reached Rami now in the south.

ABU JAMUS (through translator): There were no ambulances.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Like most here, they were on their own. They got to Shifa hospital, but so did the war.

ABU JAMUS (through translator): Total panic at Shifa hospital. Look at the dead bodies. Not even a morgue. Gaza has fallen.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Witness to it all, two year old Relit.

ABU JAMUS (through translator): I kept trying to make sure he's not scared and make him feel like what he's seeing around us as a circus or an amusement park. I don't know if I succeeded. Even the journey of humiliation where you take a donkey here and a horse there, I was trying to make that entertaining for him.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): I asked Rami why he decided to film. ABU JAMUS (through translator): I just want this to get to the world so they know the injustice that we're facing. They cast doubt on everything we do. They're stronger in every way. Not just militarily, but with the information that comes out, the narrative that comes out, the news that comes out. What they say is the truth and our words are lies.

Please just deliver our message. I don't want anything else. I don't want all those who have been killed to have died in vain.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Rami doesn't know what they'll do now, but says he will only leave his homeland forced at gunpoint or dead.

ABU JAMUS (through translator): My dear, my dear. Give me a kiss.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


WHITFIELD: Jomana, thank you so much.

Israel says it has tried to call people in Gaza to evacuate areas where military operations are underway to minimize civilian casualties. But there has been worldwide criticism on the number of deaths in Gaza. The Hamas government press office now puts the death toll in Gaza and more than 12,000, including about 5,000 children.

Still ahead, New York Mayor Eric Adams is setting up a legal defense fund in the wake of the public corruption investigation into his 2021 campaign. We'll talk about what that means next.



WHITFIELD: All right, we're learning new details about a sweeping criminal investigation involving New York City Mayor Eric Adams. A source tells CNN FBI agents searched the homes of another Adams aide and the home of a former Turkish airline official. Federal agents are reportedly trying to determine whether the Turkish government benefited from donations to Adams 2021 mayoral campaign. CNN's Polo Sandoval joining us now with more.

What can you tell us about these new developments, Polo?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And Fred in the face of this sweeping investigation, Mayor Adams and his campaign now setting up a fund that would essentially assist them in paying any mounting legal fees in the face of this whole investigation. In fact, here from city hall, I can read you an excerpt of an affidavit that the mayor himself signed, basically agreeing to certain regulations that would be in place as he moves forward with this fundraising per that affidavit. The Adams legal defense trust is, quote, "Necessitated by and intended to defray legal expenses in connection with inquiries by the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York related to the operations of the Adams 2021 mayoral campaign committee." Now to be clear, city employees are allowed to set up these kinds of funds to assist them with any legal bills. However, they have to adhere to very strict parameters. You may be able to see some of those on the screen. And I'll break down some of those for you including some of those donations, individual donations, they cannot exceed $5,000. The expenses for those legal fees, they have to be disclosed.


Adams cannot solicit any form of donation from any subordinates or anybody that has business with the city. And also they cannot accept any donations from any corporations that are in business with the city. So, those regulations are going to basically dictate who can donate to the mayor's fees, and exactly how much. In the meantime, mayor insists that he has still not been accused of any wrongdoing and that they continue to cooperate with some federal -- with this federal investigation. And this comes just days after we have learned that two additional people with direct ties to the Adams campaign have had their homes searched by federal authorities, including a second aid to Adams and an official with Turkish Airlines.

All of this part of a massive sweeping investigation, basically looking into the possibility that the 2021 campaign of the mayor received funds from the Turkish government, essentially through straw contributors, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Polo Sandoval in New York, thank you so much.

Still ahead of the border crisis from the perspective of San Diego County residents who are seeing a constant stream of migrants crossing the southern border onto their properties. What they're saying after a quick break.



WHITFIELD: President Biden and Mexico's president are vowing to work together to address the historic levels of migration along the border. Mexico's leader praised Biden for his immigration policy, but many American landowners along the southern border feel differently. They tell CNN that their lives are complicated by the influx of migrants crossing into the U.S. through their properties. CNN's David Culver went to Southern California to investigate.




CULVER (voice-over): Where the border wall ends --

J. SHUSTER: This is where they walk through.

CULVER: And that's Mexico?

J. SHUSTER: That's Mexico right there.

CULVER (voice-over): -- is where the nightmare begins for Jerry Shuster.

J. SHUSTER: One after the other Taman just walk alongside of defense and out in America.

CULVER (voice-over): Many of the migrants then set up camp here in San Diego County. In Shuster's backyard, We find trash tents and fires fueled by Shuster's trees.

J. SHUSTER: They chop them up and they put them on the fire.

CULVER (voice-over): We find other landowners along California southern border, equally frustrated. Five miles west of Shuster's property, we plan to meet Brian Silvas. But before he gets there --


CULVER: The Honduras?

Pretty simple, cross over into the U.S. And like that family, it's not that hard. They just step in, and they're here.

CULVER (voice-over): The group hurries on as Silvas arrives.

BRIAN, SILVAS, SAN DIEGO COUNTY RESIDENT: This is pretty much the edge.

CULVER: What do you want on your property?

SILVAS: Not my property. The United States. I don't want them to come in illegally.

Why did they got to come all the way -- why did they got to come here? Why don't we post up Border Patrol right here or right here. It is a no? You guys ain't coming in.

CULVER: But that doesn't happen. And what if you were --

SILVAS: Come on, you seen whatever on over there, what's going on.

CULVER (voice-over): Over there is less than half a mile away, we find Customs and Border Protection agents leading small groups of migrants to CBP vans. And medical volunteers doing what they can.

DR. DIANA CANTU, UC SAN DIEGO: We did see some COVID down in one of the other areas we stopped.

CULVER: I hear coughs as we're --

CANTU: Everybody.

SAM SCHULTZ, FEEDS MIGRANTS: I was not aware that there was this many people out here until this morning.

CULVER (voice-over): Helping to feed them, Sam Schultz. He's turned this nearby youth center into his makeshift kitchen.

SCHULTZ: I cannot abide as a Christian to see people hungry and thirsty. Now, I can understand why people are angry about these people coming across because it's a very strange and unusual and technically and completely illegal.

CULVER (voice-over): That doesn't stop Schultz from helping. We follow him to his next stop and find a crowd so big that border patrol needs buses.

For years migrants who crossed illegally would run from law enforcement, terrified to be caught. Here we watch them run to them, eager to be processed knowing they'll be released in a few days to await court dates that could be years away. It all seems so orderly. They're given a tag for their carry on, line up to show their documents which are then scanned using an app. The men handcuffed to each other before boarding.

After what can be several days in CBP custody, the migrants are then bused north into San Diego. Each day, several 100 are released at this makeshift logistics hub funded by San Diego County. It's here nonprofits help coordinate travel to other cities.

JIM DESMOND, SAN DIEGO COUNTY SUPERVISOR: But now our San Diego county tax dollars it should be going to issues that we have here in San Diego County are going to a migrant in immigration issues which should be managed and handled by the federal government.

CULVER (voice-over): A senior CBP official tells me that they work to ensure releases are done in a safe location and that they give the migrants essential support. The strain on local resources, one of many challenges. As I find out, communication is another, Spanish and English no longer enough.

CULVER: Kazakhstan?


CULVER: Uzbekistan.




CULVER: Uzbekistan.



CULVER: China. MARIA SHUSTER, SAN DIEGO COUNTY RESIDENT: The government should do something to stop this illegal immigration. Stop it because they don't help us. They're destroying us.

CULVER (voice-over): Shuster and his wife Maria say they support lawful immigration.

CULVER: You're from where originally?

J. SHUSTER: Yugoslavia.

CULVER: From Yugoslavia.


CULVER: And Maria?

M. SHUSTER: I'm from Mexico.

CULVER (voice-over): Title 42, a public health measure invoked during the pandemic used to allow authorities to turn away migrants at the border. But that expired in May.


And the Shusters tell me in the last six months, the surge of migrants onto their property has become unbearable.

CULVER: You're not allowed to tell them to get off your property?

J. SHUSTER: No. I cannot move, I cannot tell.

CULVER: Who told you that?

SHUSTER: The border patrol and sheriffs.

CULVER (voice-over): A senior CBP official tells me that stopping people from entering private property or arresting people for trespassing, that's a local law enforcement responsibility. So I asked the San Diego County Sheriff's Department about that, and they told me that the migrants would likely just be cited and released a short distance away. And this would scatter asylum seekers and further complicate CBPs response efforts.

BRIAN, SILVAS, SAN DIEGO COUNTY RESIDENT: The border patrol agents I know they didn't sign up to be Uber, because that's all they are right now. It's Uber. I understand hey, this country was built on immigration. I'm fine with that. But not like this. This is ridiculous.

CULVER (voice-over): Silvas suggest we stay through the night and see for ourselves. So we do. We capture this from my camera we set up and another part of Silvas' property. Look at this massive group crossing and see the headlights on the Mexican side, likely a smuggler who dropped them off.

As the sun comes up, we find Shuster already awake looking onto his yard as yet another bus has been loaded up.

CULVER: When you look at that what goes through your mind?

SHUSTER: I think this needs to stop. It's just not good for our country though. This needs to really stop.

CULVER (voice-over): David Culver, CNN, San Diego, California.


WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.



WHITFIELD: All right, with Thanksgiving quickly approaching, one of the biggest meal giveaways is underway right now in Atlanta, where a charity that has been feeding Metro residents for decades, is holding a drive thru turkey giveaway. CNN's Rafael Romo is there.

So, Rafael, what's the turnout been like?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's been incredible. Fred, let me tell you, we started promptly at 11:00 this morning, the line you can still see it, it's still solid. They have already distributed enough food for 800 families. And they just brought some more here, more hams, I see a couple of Turkeys there. And they told us that when you think about the need, this is something that they wanted to do, because in spite of the fact that the economy is doing better, the need from the families that depend on this kind of effort is great.

There was this truck that was full of turkeys earlier today, only a few left as I showed you before. And these wonderful volunteers have also been distributing all their staples for Thanksgiving, things like rice, green beans, cranberry, a lot of things that people would need for that kind of a meal. The organizers here describe this as enough food to have a modest Thanksgiving dinner.

And let me tell you, this is not only about supplying the needs for family for a single day this year, this is more about helping families that are in needs because they lost their jobs. They're recovering from the pandemic and facing other situations. Let's take a listen to what the President of Hosea Helps told us earlier today.


ELISABETH OMILAMI, PRESIDENT, HOSEA HELPS: The food is just the portal into the family. That's just the way we get them in the building. Then they meet with our case managers, and we find out oh, domestic violence is in this family. There's death, there's medical needs, there's children that are absent from school, et ceter.

GWEN HARRIS, PICKING UP THANKSGIVING MEAL: Making a big difference. We will have a happy Thanksgiving. And don't have to worry about what we're going to eat the meal from. TONIA BRYANT, PICKING UP THANKSGIVING MEAL: You know, thinking about not even cooking on Thanksgiving, but now I have opportunity to do so. And I'm so grateful. I'm so, so grateful.


ROMO: And that's what we've been hearing, Fred, a deep sense of gratitude. Because even if the economy is doing a little bit better than last year, for many families, it's still very hard to make ends meet. And just to give you an idea, yes, food prices have gone down a little bit. Just to give you an idea, let me tell you, for example, that a 16 pound turkey is $27.35 right now, that's a little less than 6 percent, down as compared to last year. A Thanksgiving meal is $61 which is 4.5 percent less than last year.

But listen to this, and this is a key 25 percent higher than in 2019. How long will this line go on? They went to get even more food to be able to help more people. But the reality is that these people lined up for hours and hours and hours and everybody's eager to get some sort of help. But let me tell you this to finish, Fred, I have been hearing happy Thanksgiving here so often that I feel like it's the holidays already.

WHITFIELD: Oh, it is indeed. I mean, I can feel the joy coming through the television screen. People are very grateful. And it goes both ways, right? Really grateful to receive and you can tell those who are giving also feel so very good.

All right, Rafael Romo, thank you so much.

All right. So buckle up, it is going to be a very busy week for travelers across the U.S. According to AAA, more than 55 million Americans will travel 50 miles or more for Thanksgiving, making it the third busiest since AAA began tracking holiday travel. Here to help us navigate what this means for you, Senior Vice President for Travel for AAA, Paula Twidale.

Paula, great to see you.


PAULA TWIDALE, SENIOR VP OF TRAVEL, AAA: Pleasure to be here. Thank you.

WHITFIELD: Well, everyone expects that traveling, getting around is going to be tough. Does it seem like, however, it is busier this year, whether you're on the road or, you know, hitting the railways or even airways?

TWIDALE: Absolutely. You know, 55 million is not an insignificant number. And, you know, two and a half percent higher than last year, third highest volumes as you did say. And most of those people are going to be driving, 49 million of them are going to be driving and taking to the roads. So, with gas prices, averaging about 336 a gallon, 50 cents lower than last year, it makes it more affordable. So, a lot of people are on the road. And the other 4.7 hitting the air, that's six over six and a half percent higher than last year and the highest we've seen since 2005 and surpassing pre pandemic numbers. So, it's going to be busy.

WHITFIELD: Oh my goodness. OK. So if you are not driving, and instead, you're driving to the airport, because you're going to be flying, what kind of advice might you have for people? Because, you know, invariably, the lines for TSA are warranted be very long although I know some airports have tried to pledge, you know that it's going to be within a certain timeframe. But what's your advice to people who will be heading to the airport.

TWIDALE: Well, let's keep in mind and put in perspective most of the people are going to be traveling, the most concentrated number is going to be Tuesday and Wednesday. And those will still work days for some people. So, you're mixing with the commuters and trying to get to an airport, which is usually an urban area. So, all of that's going to mean high traffic. So we need to leave early.

And hopefully you're planning to make that reservation for parking your vehicle at the airport in advance because parking spaces will fill up, even the remote off airport parking. So leave early. I think there'll be enough certainly TSA and employees at the airport but there will be lines and you've got to anticipate that leave earlier than normal.

WHITFIELD: Yes, these busy days Tuesday and Wednesday, you say, are really kind of peak for getting there in time for Turkey Day. I guess the advantage has been for the outbound traffic is they've been able to sprinkle it through the weekdays, as you mentioned. But then coming home, almost everybody wants to come home on Sunday. How do you brace yourselves?

TWIDALE: Well, Saturday and Sunday going to be busy days. You know, certainly if you're driving between 03:00 and 05:00, that's going to be a busy time. That's going to be the worst time to be traveling. That's to go before noon time. So if you can go early in the morning or later in the evening, and listen people are going to pepper in their return times Monday and even Tuesday.

Tuesday is absolutely the best time to come back if you've can afford to take some time off. And with people working hybrid schedules, I think there's more flexibility and leaving earlier or perhaps extending a trip and coming back a little later as well.

WHITFIELD: Oh my goodness. Well, Happy Thanksgiving to you. What are your plans are going to be? Will you be hitting the road, the railways, the highways, or airways?

TWIDALE: Well, I did a little bit of both. I drove 200 miles to be home with my family and I'm already here on the weekend and I will spend time with my loving family. And I'm going to make sure that we take all those precautions. One thing we always want to tell people certainly in AAA is, if you're on the roads, have patients, slow down and move over for those first responders to keep everyone safe on the roads.

But Happy Thanksgiving to you, too. This as a family and friends holiday. And enjoy.

WHITFIELD: Oh, thank you so much. Yes, and be courteous out there people. You know, be courteous when you're on the roadway or, you know, stuck in line at the airport, all that. It goes a long way. Paula Twidale, thank you so much. Happy holidays.

TWIDALE: Thank you. Bye.

WHITFIELD: All right, coming up next, town halls and tailgates. Republican presidential candidates are in Iowa this weekend. We'll bring you the latest live from the Hawkeye State.



WHITFIELD: Former President Trump is in Iowa today. His visit to the Hawkeye State comes just eight weeks before the Iowa Republican caucuses are held. Trump and several other GOP presidential candidates are hitting the state hard to court voters. CNN's Alayna Treene joining us now from Fort Dodge, Iowa.

Alayna, yesterday a Colorado judge, you know, ruled Trump can remain on the state's 2024 presidential primary ballot even though the judge says Trump engage in an insurrection January 6. Do we expect that Trump will talk about that today?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: We do, Fred. We actually got a copy of Donald Trump's prepared remarks for this speech in Iowa. And he is going to bring it up. He's supposed to bring it up actually at the top of his speech, he's going to applaud the ruling and say, quote, "their campaign won a gigantic court victory in Colorado where we demolished and defeated their outrageous attempt to disenfranchise millions of voters by getting us thrown off the ballot."

And this was a big victory for them. I think many of people in the campaign I spoke with, some of his advisers as is my colleague Kristen Holmes, and they told us that they weren't sure how that decision would ultimately be handed down yesterday. And so, I know that his team and the former president himself were very happy when they saw that the judge ultimately ruled in his favor to keep him on the ballot.

Now, also though, just top of mind for Donald Trump and Iowa today is that the Iowa caucuses are so close. He's really been aggressively hitting the state in recent weeks to try and continue to build momentum here. His campaign really does believe that if he could do well in Iowa, that momentum will carry him through the rest of the primary states.


But as you mentioned, Fred, the other candidates are also relentlessly hitting the ground here. Bunch of them gathered last night in Des Moines for an event, a Thanksgiving forum, they called it with evangelical Christians. And Donald Trump actually wasn't there. He chose -- he was invited, but he ultimately chose to skip it and hold this event today. And because of that, we did hear some of the candidates take shots at him, Ron DeSantis, in particular, you know, calling him a high risk, low reward candidate. And I think you can expect Donald Trump to take some shots back at the Florida Governor today as well, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Yes, the fireworks will ensue. All right, Alayna Treene, thank you so much.

All right there was both success and failure for SpaceX Starship this morning. The rocket took off as intended, making it roughly eight minutes into flight before SpaceX confirmed it had to intentionally explode this spacecraft as it flew over the ocean. We'll explain why.



WHITFIELD: The most powerful rocket ever built, SpaceX's Starship exploding right there this morning and it was lost over the Gulf of Mexico during its second test launch. But it's not all bad news, scientists say this time the rocket hit new milestones traveling much further than its first launch attempt back in April. CNN's Kristin Fisher joining us now from South Padre Island, Texas.

Kristin, why are scientists so optimistic here?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SPACE AND DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fredricka, the Starship rocket made it all the way up to the very edge of space. It traveled more than 90 miles up from the surface of the Earth well above the Karman Line, which is the International demarcation line for when it becomes outer space. So it traveled much farther than it did during that first test flight back in April. It also successfully separated, the spacecraft separated from the top stage and then the bottom booster, that was a success. All 33 Raptor engines successfully fired and worked in coordination with one another.

And then finally, the launch pad actually survived this time, but it was totally destroyed during that first launch attempt. So those were the successes. But then of course, ultimately the rocket and this spacecraft did fail. There were two explosions or rapid unscheduled disassemblies as SpaceX likes to call it, because the ultimate goal of this mission was to -- for the spacecraft, the starship spacecraft to splashdown in this Pacific Ocean after completing almost a near full lap of the earth. So, SpaceX calling it a success.

But the FAA has launched a mishap investigation to figure out all the little things that went wrong, what went wrong before they can give SpaceX the green light to try again. Fred.

WHITFIELD: And then -- yes, Kristin, has Elon Musk said anything?

FISHER: He has. I mean, this is -- Starship is Elon Musk's baby, after all, all of the projects that he does this, perhaps maybe the one that he cares about the most. And he was in Mission Control for this launch. He's described it as a magnificent rocket. And you know, the reason I describe it as his baby is because this is the rocket that he hopes to colonize Mars with.

Starship can carry up to 100 people, ultimately. And so, this is the rocket that would be used to achieve his company, SpaceX's ultimate goal, which is to make humanity a multiplanetary. So some very lofty goals here, Fred. But first, NASA needs the starship spacecraft to land NASA astronauts on the moon. It is the centerpiece of NASA's Artemis program.

And if they don't figure out how to get this thing flying reliably and landing on the surface of the moon, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson has said that he's really worried that China could beat U.S. astronauts back to the moon. But for now, the NASA administrator congratulating SpaceX and saying that today's test flight marks tremendous progress, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Oh, and in addition to trying to get it off the ground safely, what would be the next thing for that program?

FISHER: Well, so first, they have to get it almost to orbit. It needs to make almost a full lap of planet Earth, then they need to prove that they can refuel this thing in orbit, which is unbelievably difficult.


FISHER: Never been done before. And then they have to actually land it on the surface of the moon, Fred, before you can put NASA astronauts on board.

WHITFIELD: A lot of steps there, but crucial and important.

FISHER: There are. There are.

WHITFIELD: Kristin Fisher, thank you so much.

All right. Let's take a look at some of our other headlines today. Sean "Diddy" Combs and his former girlfriend, Cassie Ventura have reached a settlement after she accused the music mogul of rape and physical abuse. Ventura who is also a singer claims she was lured into a, quote, "fast paced and drug fueled lifestyle" after she was signed to his record label Bad Boy. In a statement obtained by CNN Combs now says quote, "We have decided to resolve this matter amicably. I wish Cassie and her family all the best. Love."

Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter is now in hospice care at her home in Plains Georgia. The 96 year old was diagnosed with dementia back in May. The Carter Center released this statement saying, quote.