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Biden Rejects Mounting Calls For A Ceasefire In Gaza; Growing Indications Ground Offensive May Be Imminent In South Gaza; Families Of Hostages March To Jerusalem And Tel Aviv; Interview With Representative Robert Garcia (D-CA) About George Santos And January 6th Footage; Arne Duncan, Former Education Secretary, Discusses Rising Anti-Semitism, Islamophobia On College Campuses; "Impact Your World": Saving Coral Reefs & Reef Sharks; Most Powerful Rocket Ever Built Explodes In Test Flight; "Going Home: The War In Sudan" Airs Sunday Night At 9P ET/PT. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 18, 2023 - 16:00   ET



FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN HOST: At her homes in Plains, Georgia. The 96-year-old was diagnosed with dementia back in May. The Carter Center released this statement saying, quote, "Jimmy Carter and his wife of 77 years are spending time with each other and their family," end quote.

The former president also began home hospice care in February after a series of short hospital stays. He is 99 years old.

Thanks so much for joining me today. I'm Fredricka Whitfield. The "CNN NEWSROOM" continues right now.

PAULA REID, CNN HOST: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Reid in Washington.

We begin with breaking news. President Biden has written an op-ed in "The Washington Post" where he rejects calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez is with the president in Wilmington.

Priscilla, what is the president's message tonight?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Paula, this op-ed covers a few things related to both the Israel conflict as well as Ukraine. To start, the president does reject those calls for a ceasefire. Those have been mounting both domestically and abroad, and he writes, quote, "As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, a ceasefire is not peace. To Hamas' members, every ceasefire is time they exploit to rebuild their stockpile of rockets, reposition fighters, and restart the killing by attacking innocents again."

Now this is in line with the administration's position, which is that there shouldn't be a ceasefire. Instead, they have been advocating for pauses in the fighting to get those hostages released that are held by Hamas, as well as to get aid into Gaza. But this op-ed also covers other key points. That includes calling for Israel to respect humanitarian law and protect innocent civilians. It also goes on to issue a warning saying that the U.S. is prepared to issue visa bans to extremists who are attacking civilians in the West Bank.

This has been a key area of concern for the Biden administration. It also goes on to stress a two-state solution. President Biden spoke to that earlier this week, an idea that he has long endorsed. Again, mentioning it as the solution to the Israel-Hamas conflict. And of course, the president mentioning that his administration is still working feverishly for those hostages to be released by Hamas.

But overall, in addition to talking about Israel, the president's message here is that the conflicts abroad, in Israel and Ukraine, do affect U.S. national security. He's reminding Americans of that in this op-ed. It's something that he did in a primetime address in October when his administration asked for billions of dollars in supplemental funding.

Congress has not provided that funding as of yet. It continues to be a push by this administration. The president taking to an op-ed to remind Americans why all of that is necessary in this key moment -- Paula.

REID: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you.

I want to go now to CNN international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson live in Sderot, Israel.

Nic, there are growing signs that a ground offensive into the southern parts of Gaza could be imminent and we're learning of new air strikes today from Israel. What are you seeing on the ground there?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, in the last two minutes, we had to take shelter because there was an incoming rocket attack here in Sderot. It's not uncommon, but as you would and our viewers would know that we're three weeks into the war now and despite the very heavy and significant bombardment that continues, and it's going on right now, not only here in the north of Gaza where commanders are saying this evening that they're expanding their operations from the west at the northern tip of Gaza.

That's along the Mediterranean coast further inland, and that would bring them much closer to behind us. We're about a mile from the border fence on the eastern side of Gaza here so they're expanding there as well. They are still continuing to strike in the south. There is every indication that the IDF will move to the south. They've told civilians to seek safer areas. Safety areas that they're aware of.

These appear to be areas that the IDF and the Israeli government have designated along the Mediterranean coast in the very southwest part of the Gaza Strip. But what humanitarian facilities are available for the hundreds of thousands of people there really isn't clear at the moment. But as far as going into the south, we've heard it from the prime minister. We've heard it from defense officials. That continues to be their intent. The prime minister this evening, Benjamin Netanyahu, very clearly that

they will go after Hamas completely, and that requires going into the south of Gaza where there's now almost a double density population if you will because more than a million or estimated close to a million people have fled the north to the south.


REID: Nic, the Al-Shifa Hospital continues to be the epicenter of fighting in Gaza as Israel claims Hamas is conducting military operations there. But of course we've seen this pressure from the international community to show more evidence for that claim. What can you tell us?

ROBERTSON: Yes, so far, the IDF has not been able to substantiate it and the government's claims that there is a complex bunker system beneath the Al-Shifa Hospital. So far they've shown a tunnel entrance and they say it's their intention and they will, they say, continue to investigate it further. It may take days, may take weeks, but they say that they will show the full extent of the tunnel network underneath the Shifa hospital that they say is there. But we haven't seen it yet.

And so the proof of what the IDF said having arrived at the hospital three days ago isn't there. The spokesman for the IDF, Rear Admiral Hagari, this evening said that the IDF had helped hospital officials evacuate patients from the hospital. That's not what the doctors at the hospital are saying. They're saying that this was in essence a forced evacuation. The IDF is saying that the doctors asked them for the evacuation.

We've heard from the Hamas-led government's health minister saying that all the hospitals in Gaza now are completely out of service and not working, and in reference to the Al-Shifa Hospital, he said that people were dying there for a lack of medicines. That the people had infections and the doctors quite simply don't have the equipment to treat them. And they say that there are many casualties there who quite simply cannot be evacuated for medical reasons. Their conditions are just too precarious.

So even what's happening in and around the Shifa hospital is very, very hard for CNN to verify. The phone lines into Gaza are intermittent at best and most of the time cut. We don't have independent access there ourselves on a regular basis where we can have independent access to see what's happening there. So again verifying what's happening in Al-Shifa Hospital is difficult, and also across all of Gaza right now.

It's incredibly difficult. And I think it's worth noting that, although the Shifa hospital is an epicenter for some of the fighting, there's plenty of it going on in other parts of Gaza. The northern part we're hearing behind us, heavy machine gunfire right now. Jets dropping a bomb before. There's been plenty of tank fire going in there as well. So very much a lot of Gaza is a very, very active combat zone right now.

REID: Nic Robertson, thank you. And the families of some hostages being held in Gaza are gathered in

Tel Aviv. They're pleading with the Israeli government to ensure their loved ones' safe return.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is there with more.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, 42 days after hundreds of people were taken hostage by Hamas in Israel and brought to the Gaza Strip, thousands of Israelis rallying tonight in Tel Aviv and also in Jerusalem to demand the release of these hostages. They're also putting pressure on the Israeli government to reach a deal to secure the release of those hostages.

For weeks now, there have been intense negotiations between Israel and Hamas negotiated by the Qatari government with the assistance of the United States to secure the release of perhaps dozens of women and children being held hostage by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. So far, those negotiations have yet to actually reach a deal for their freedom. But tonight, the pressure is being brought to bear on the Israeli government.

I spoke tonight with Mia Roman, the cousin of Yarden Roman, one of those estimated 237 hostages. I asked her what her message is to the Israeli prime minister and his cabinet. Here's her answer.


MIA ROMAN, COUSIN OG HOSTAGE YARDEN ROMAN: I mean our message to them which we have also, you know, communicated to them directly, is we think there should be a deal now. And we understand there are very -- you know, there are things we don't know, there are considerations we can't be told about. We believe in you. Yarden's daughter Geffen believes in us. She always tells us that she knows we're working to get her mom back.

She sees us all working there all the time. And she knows we're all doing it to get her back. So kind of in the same way, I have to believe that they're doing everything to get her back. And our faith, you know, I hope that you can prove our faith was not wrongly given and that you can prove us right, and make sure that they start coming back home because the families need it. The families need it desperately.


DIAMOND: Now it's unclear whether these marches tonight in Israel have yielded the kind of pressure for the Israeli government to reach a deal with Hamas for the release of some of these hostages. But at least for now, it is yielding some results and that is that the Israeli prime minister tonight has agreed to meet with the families of these hostages on Monday night here in Tel Aviv.


We know that that would be a very important moment. He hasn't met with these families for some weeks now and it comes as these negotiations are reaching a critical stage and these families at least will have the chance to deliver their message directly to him and his cabinet -- Paula.

REID: Jeremy Diamond, thank you.

And for more on the ongoing hostage crisis, I want to bring in our next guest. Gershon Baskin is an Israeli hostage negotiator, author and Middle East director for the International Communities Organization.

Thank you so much for being with us. I want to talk to you about that report we just heard from Jeremy Diamond. He's talking about the thousands of people who turned up at the rally in Tel Aviv. They're demanding that the Israeli government do more.

Based on your experience, does pressure like this make a difference?

GERSHON BASKIN, MIDDLE EAST DIRECTOR, INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITIES ORGANIZATION: Pressure like this makes a big difference and that's why they marched for five days from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. I was at the rally in Jerusalem before they went back to Tel Aviv to meet with some of the members of War Cabinet.

There is growing pressure in Israel and the society to make a deal quickly, but yet there's a lot of hesitance on the part of the government to enter into a deal now. There's very much the sense from what I've been talking to people in the government about that Hamas is dictating the terms, and as long as Hamas is dictating the terms, they will see it as a victory and that's why the Israelis believe that they need to step up the military pressure on Hamas so that Israel will dictate the terms of any hostage release.

REID: Now, this just happened in the past few minutes, but President Biden has actually written an op-ed and in it, in part, he rejects calls for a ceasefire in Gaza.

Do you expect that could have a significant impact on these negotiations?

BASKIN: I think the Israelis have known all along that President Biden is backing the Israeli decision to dismantle Hamas' ability to ever govern Gaza again. The Israelis have been clear that there would be a ceasefire if there's a hostage release. We don't know how long a ceasefire would be. It's clear that Hamas wants to prolong any ceasefire as long as possible with the hope that international pressure obviously would grow to put an end to the war while Hamas is still governing Gaza. That's a very unlikely scenario.

REID: So, as you know, there have been these ongoing negotiations with the U.S. calling for more humanitarian pauses to allow hostages to be released, but now Hamas is demanding Israel stop flying surveillance drones over Gaza as part of these negotiations. Now, Israeli officials say that would complicate their tracking efforts.

Do you think at this point, everything has to be on the table in order to get these hostages out? BASKIN: I think that Israel needs to do everything possible to bring

as many hostages out as quickly as possible. In particular, the women, the children, the infants, the elderly, the sick and the wounded. And Israel needs to make compromises to do so including a ceasefire, including holding off the completion of the war until as many hostages can be brought out as possible.

It's an inhuman situation to imagine what these hostages are going through. We've already seen hostages who have been killed after they were taken into Gaza. Just the other night, Hamas released another video of an elderly man who apparently died while being a hostage, and I'm afraid that we're going to see more of this the longer we wait. The lives of the hostages are at risk every day there's not a deal to bring them back home.

REID: And in light of that, how do you see the U.S.'s role in these negotiations? Especially with Americans being held there including a 3-year-old?

BASKIN: Well, I think the Americans need to be a lot more serious with Qatar. The Americans need to put much more pressure on Qatar to put more pressure on Hamas even though I'm not sure that would be effective, but still, the Hamas leadership that sits in luxury in Doha with protection from Qatari bodyguards and funding by the Qatari government needs to be told by the Americans that this cannot go on.

Qatar is a state that supports terrorism, and the U.S. has great interest there because the largest military base in the region is in Qatar. But nonetheless, President Biden needs to be telling the leaders of Qatar that they need to do more to put pressure on Hamas and even threaten to expel them from Doha. That should be the American stick that's being held up to Hamas right now.

REID: Well, a Hamas video claimed one of the hostages were killed during Israeli air strikes. Is there a concern that hostages could be in harm's way amid the continued fighting between Israeli forces and Hamas?


BASKIN: There certainly is concern. I saw that video and it looked to me as if the young woman was hit in the head with a blunt object, not that she was killed from the Israeli bombing. We don't really know, the public doesn't know, perhaps the Israelis know, because they recovered her body. But the danger to the hostages is there every day.

Israel has two conflicting goals here. One is to dismantle Hamas' ability to rule and to kill all of its neighbors, at the same time to return all the hostages. There is no victory for Israel in this war if they don't return the hostages. And that should be clear to everyone.

REID: Gershon Baskin, thank you so much for sharing your expertise and your experience with us.

BASKIN: Thank you. REID: And still ahead, how much longer will George Santos be in

Congress? A congressman who led a charge to expel him earlier this year joins us next. Plus, the Department of Education's investigation into seven colleges over antisemitism and Islamophobia. Also, SpaceX's latest test launch ends with a bang as a rocket explodes. Ahead why some say it's still a win.

You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.



REID: Embattled Republican Congressman George Santos' brief but turbulent congressional career could be cut short. The GOP chairman of the House Ethics Committee filed a resolution on Friday to expel Santos from the House. This comes after the bipartisan panel released a scathing new report documenting violations of House rules and campaign fraud by Santos. Already, 13 Republicans who previously voted against ousting Santos are now lining up to expel him and that number could grow.

Joinings us now to discuss is Democratic Congressman Robert Garcia of California.

Congressman, thank you for joining us.

REP. ROBERT GARCIA (D-CA): Happy to be here.

REID: Now, earlier this year, you led the charge to expel Congressman Santos even before this report came out. What made you make that move so early on?

GARCIA: I mean, look, nine months ago, we already knew that he was a liar, a fraud, and completely essentially created his entire life story he's been elected to Congress and he had actually already admitted to fraud and to a conviction in Brazil. And so he nine months ago I believe was ready to be expelled from Congress. He is a complete, complete fraudster.

Of course back then Republicans blocked that resolution that we put forward, and instead they moved this whole case to the Ethics Commission. And so the committee, the commission looked at the work. They looked at tons and tons of witness statements and they finally put out this report. I mean, the report is incredibly damning. It confirms everything that we already knew.

He essentially created an enormous slush fund using all of his campaign donors to essentially fund his private life, his clothing, all sorts of crazy shopping trips across the country. And now he's got to be held accountable for what he's done. We are going to expel George Santos. Finally his time is up.

REID: It did confirm some of the suspicions that people have but there were a lot of specifics in here that were surprising. This report found that he was using campaign funds on anything from Botox to luxury shopping sprees to the adult site Only Fans.

What were your reactions to some of these new specific findings?

GARCIA: I mean, you can't -- you know, you can't make this stuff up. I mean, it's totally crazy what George Santos has done. I mean, essentially spend his campaign donors and their hard-earned money on pornography and on shopping trips to Ferragamo is crazy. And the fact that Republicans have been trying to protect him for these last nine months. I'm glad that finally we now have so many House Republicans that are stepping up and they're finally agreeing that it's time for him to go.

And so we know the Democrats are going to be united with this expulsion coming up. We're going to file expulsion papers the first day we're back. Republicans are going to do the same thing. That's great. The more people that file, the better. And I think every day more and more Republicans are announcing their intention of how they're going to vote. And it's time for him to go and to restore some integrity to the House of Representatives.

REID: Well, not everyone is a convert. Even after the report came out, GOP Congressman Warren Davidson told CNN he was still undecided about expelling Santos. So what do you say to fellow lawmakers who were still on the fence even after this report?

GARCIA: I mean, what else does he have to do? What else does George Santos have to do to prove to us that he's unfit to be in the U.S. Congress? I mean, to essentially steal, cheat, lie, lie under oath, falsify all his documents, his campaign documents, his oath of office, which he's defiled. So I think a lot of Republicans are going to have a wake-up call over the course of the next week and a half or so.

When this comes forward, I think you're going to see a wave of Republican support this expulsion. I will be surprised and honestly I'll be stunned if the speaker doesn't vote to expel George Santos. He has done everything possible to prove that he is worthy of this vote. He also remember has to face a court and he has 23 additional counts, criminal counts. It's not just what's going to happen here in Congress, but he's going to have to face a conviction.

I mean, the future is not looking great for him and he now has to not only face his community, but he's going to have to face all the folks back home who voted for essentially a falsification of a person.

REID: That will be quite a trial. I want to turn to a different topic now. House Speaker Mike Johnson says that he plans to publicly release thousands of hours of security footage from the January 6th attack on the Capitol.


Now he released a statement saying, quote, "This decision will provide millions of Americans criminal defendants, public interest organizations and the media an ability to see for themselves what happened that day rather than having to rely upon the interpretation of a small group of government officials." Likely they are referring to January 6th Committee.

Do you agree with this decision?

GARCIA: Well, what I know is that the speaker, along with the House majority, don't believe that there was any type of insurrection or attack that happened on January 6th. And it's shameful they continue to politicize what was an attack on our government and our nation's Capitol. They want to release more information. They want to release more info. Fine. Release information that can create a broader picture, but we've all seen the video.

We've all seen the tapes. We've all seen the reporting done by you and so many other news organizations. We know that there was a violent attack on the Capitol egged on by Donald Trump and now enabled by this Republican majority and the speaker, by the way, as part of his leadership and the reason why he's in office is because of his defense of Donald Trump. His defense of Donald Trump even though Donald Trump created this enormous, I believe, attack on our nation's Capitol.

And so I think that the speaker has an agenda. He clearly has had one since he's been defending Donald Trump. And so we'll see what he ends up releasing. I believe -- I'm sure anything he releases will be politicized. Let's just be honest about what happened that day. There was an attack on our Capitol. Insurrectionists need to be held accountable for what they did.

REID: As someone who works at the Capitol, do you have any security concerns about releasing this footage?

GARCIA: Absolutely. And that's why we don't know what he's going to release. I mean, you know, he says he's going to release footage. We don't know what that means. What we've been saying is anything that gets released should be vetted by National Security officials, certainly Capitol Police. And just to release footage without any type of security measures in place I think is dangerous and irresponsible.

So we'll see. I mean, we all want obviously more information out. I don't mind to have more footage out there. I just hope it was done in a way that's responsible.

REID: Congressman Garcia, thank you.

GARCIA: Thank you.

REID: And next, mounting tensions over the Israeli-Hamas war is dividing college campuses across the U.S. Seven colleges are now under investigation amid complaints of antisemitism and Islamophobia. What can be done about this? We'll discuss that next with the former Education secretary Arne Duncan. We'll be right back.



REID: The Department of Education is investigating hate at seven U.S. campuses after receiving complaints about alleged incidents of both anti-Semitism and Islamophobia since the start of the Israel-Hamas war.

Five cases involve hate against Jewish students and two involve Muslims. And all fall under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act, which says, "Schools have a duty to provide all students with a safe environment free from discrimination."

Arne Duncan is with us now. He was the secretary of education in the Obama administration.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Let's jump right in. How significant is this move by the Department of Education?

ARNE DUNCAN, FORMER EDUCATION SECRETARY: Well, it's really important. And the secretary of education now, the head of the Office of Civil Rights are absolutely committed to whatever they have to do to protect students to keep them safe from hate, discrimination, and harassment. They will do that.

Ultimate, this is the responsibility of universities. They have a legal responsibility.

And if I could say very candidly, Paula, for me, protecting students, that's like a low bar. That's the minimum they should be doing.

Universities really need to do a better job of training young people how to disagree, maybe disagree vehemently, but do it in a civil and respectful way.

That's sort of the point of education is to open your mind. Our democracy struggles when we can't hear opposing viewpoints.

So the Department of Education will do what it needs to do. It's the backstop but, for me, that's not the goal. The goal is. can universities move differently going forward?

REID: So how do you do that? We're talking about some of America's top-ranked universities, Columbia University, Cornell, University of Pennsylvania. It appears these schools are failing to do just that.

How do they fix that? How do you begin to train students in that way.

DUNCAN: Obviously, we don't know if they're failing or not. They're being investigated.

I may be biased. But I live on the campus of the University of Chicago. My dad taught here for 40 years.

The University of Chicago has been a bastion of free speech forever. And it's not just talking about the importance of free speech. It's teaching young people why free speech is so important.

It's part of your orientation. It's part of a new center at the university coming in. It's part of how the president leads. We have to hear opposing arguments. You have to hear from folks we

vehemently disagree with. That's the point of going to college. It's not to have all of your open thoughts re own thoughts reinforced.

So University of Chicago is a fantastic example of where this is built into the culture.

And Universities do lot of things. They are training students not to play with drugs. They train students not to harass others on campus.

But are they really training young people to engage in vigorous debate and dialogue and exercise your free speech but also to listen respectfully to those you disagree with?

And for me, this is really bigger. It's a very, very important issues. This is really about our democracy. Our democracy is based on whether we can find some common ground, whether we can respectfully disagree and continue to work together.


If universities aren't training our future leaders to do that well, our democracy's at stake. And our democracy is struggling right now, in part, because of the conflicts and people yelling at each other for sound bites and clicks, being incredibly disrespectful.

REID: The University of Chicago is an outstanding institution, but it's also an outlier in many ways in elite higher education.

I want to ask you about your alma mater, Harvard, where 100 members of the faculty signed an open letter claiming a lack of open dialogue on campus about the Israel-Hamas war.

Where's the line between protecting students and freedom of thought?

DUNCAN: It's a great question. I'm not a legal scholar here. But it's pretty simple that it's very important we have free speech and folks can express their views very clearly.

The line is when it becomes hateful, the line is when it becomes discriminatory, the line is when it becomes harassment.

And it's not just free speech. You have folks being threatened on campus.

And so you can have very, very different -- you know, differences of opinion, strong disagreement. But that's very different from being hateful or harassing and discriminatory. That's the line which we cannot cross.

REID: Based on your experience running the Department of Education, what you have seen, do you think schools are doing enough to protect students to allow them to take risks and express their views but also keep them safe?

DUNCAN: I think this is across nations, quite frankly. For me, it says a lot more about higher education than it does about our young people who are feeling so passionately now.

I do think many, many universities have to start to train their students, our nation's future leaders, on how to engage in free speech, how to disagree civilly, respectfully.

This has to be baked into the essence of what the universities are. It's almost like the North Star should be disagreement, respectful disagreement. You should not hide or run from it.

You have to start being more comfortable in uncomfortable spaces. For me, that's the point of higher education, is to stretch your thinking, to take you places where you haven't been, and hearing ideas you haven't heard about.

I think maybe the majority, maybe the vast majority of the universities around our country, are -- by the way, are the envy of the world. They have to start to take this responsibility much, much more seriously.

Again, not because of this issue, but because our democracy depends upon it.

REID: Arne Duncan, thank you.

DUNCAN: Thank you so much.

REID: In the ocean right now, reef sharks are disappearing as the coral reefs where they live die off, hurt by overfishing and climate change.

In today's "IMPACT YOUR WORLD," how a team of scientists are working to bring back endangered sea life.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Coral reefs are actually the center of Marine biodiversity. And a big part of that is sharks doing their job in the ecosystem.

DEMIAN CHAPMAN, MOTE MARINE LABORATORY: The five main reef shark species, they have declined somewhere between 60 and 73 percent each. And what we find is that's because of people fishing them too hard.

I think we can get people to reduce fishing overall but what we need is the coral reefs to still be there because these sharks need habitat.

Around the globe, unfortunately, we're seeing coral reefs degrade. Here in Florida, we've lost somewhere on the order of 90 to 95 percent of our living coral.

We're in the Florida Keys at the Elizabeth Moore International Center for Coral Reef Research and Restoration. It's the largest land-based coral nursery in the United States at the moment.

These corals are grown out in a farm setting and then moved into an offshore nursery. And ultimately, all of those corals are out-planted directly on to the reef.

Mote has, to date, out-planted to date just over 210,000 fragments of coral. We're seeing very high survival of individual fragments at one month and one year.

We're actively making differences that are documented. We can see, we can measure, we can feel the difference on the reef.



REID: For more information on how you can help, go to


REID: It's the most powerful rocket ever built but an explosion ended its second test flight.

The rocket and spacecraft lifted successfully off the pad in south Texas. Then there was the expected separation from the booster rocket and the Starship pushed away.

But what happened next is being called a failure by some and a success by others.

The perfect person to help us referee this is my favorite space expert, Kristin Fisher. She joins us now.

All right, Kristin, what happened?

KRISTIN FISHER, CNN SCIENCE & DEFENSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Paula, that is what engineers at SpaceX are going to spend the next several days and weeks trying to figure out.

But remember, this is what SpaceX does. They like to push their rockets and spacecrafts right up to the point of failure. It's what they've done with their successful rockets and spacecrafts that are already flying.


And now they're trying to do it with Starship, the biggest, most powerful rocket to ever fly that has the ultimate goal of carrying 100 humans at the time to the surface of Mars.

They want to colonize the red planet. And Elon Musk's ultimate goal to make humanity multiplanetary. But first, they have to get this thing into orbit.

And so the people who say that today's test flight, the second test flight was a success, they're saying that because all 33 raptor engines fired up at the same time. The launch pad remained intact. It did not blow up like last time.

There was successful stage separation between the booster and craft on top. Then the spacecraft itself made it all the way up to the edge of space, flying much farther than it did in April.

So in all those ways, it was a success. But it was also a failure in that there were two explosions.

Both the booster and spacecraft ultimately ended in an explosion, or a rapid unscheduled disassembly, as SpaceX likes to call it.

Because the flight path ended with the spacecraft splashing down into the Pacific Ocean instead of completing a full lap around planet earth. It did not do that.

So it's now triggered an FAA mishap investigation. That's what the FAA calls what happened today, a mishap.

It's an investigation that will be led by SpaceX. But ultimately, the FAA is going to have to give SpaceX the greenlight to fly another test flight once again.

But, Paula, you know, the NASA administrator, Bill Nelson, he was watching today. This is a critical central piece for NASA's Artemis program, which wants to land NASA astronauts on the surface of the moon for the first time since the Apollo program.

The Starship's spacecraft is the landing system designed to do. So NASA needs it and the administrator today congratulating SpaceX, saying that today's test flight represents big progress -- Paula?

REID: Kristin Fisher, thank you.

More news in a moment.



REID: For months now, a brutal war has been raging in Sudan. New reports of potential war crimes.

CNN's chief international investigative correspondent, Nima Elbagir, is from Sudan and she's reporting on some of these accusations against the paramilitary group, RSF, firsthand.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): One by one, survivors come forward wanting to share, to document what has happened to them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translation): I held my 5-year-old brother and ran with him to the mosque. The RSF chased us, shooting at us. A bullet hit my brother's head.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The RSF said, leave these ones. We will find better ones to sell. These ones, let's rape them.

ELBAGIR: Textbook ethnic cleansing. These are the hallmarks of genocide.

We interviewed over a dozen survivors and eyewitnesses, who witnessed the abduction of at least 200 other girls.

Through their testimony, we were able to pinpoint key neighborhoods in Al Geneina where civilians were targeted and where women were being sold from slave houses.

Places like Eljick (ph) and Hayla (ph) and a Alzana (ph) dormitory where survivors say they counted 75 girls abducted in one fell swoop.

There is nowhere safe in Al Geneina.


REID: Nima is sharing this deeply personal investigation this Sunday on "THE WHOLE STORY" with Anderson Cooper.

And she's with us now.

Nima, thank you so much for being with us.

I want to ask you, here, you're returning to your home country, which has effectively become a war zone. What was that like?

ELBAGIR: Reporting on conflicts anywhere is tough, right? And part of our job is to find that commonality with people.

But I think it did feel difficult to have memories and happy ones often attached to these places that we were seeing be occupied and destroyed. My family home is still occupied by RSF forces.

But I think, on the other hand, perhaps what it gives you as a journalist is a very necessary reminder that the choices we make around the ways we interview people, the protections we put in place, especially for those of us in investigations, it comes home very quickly to you.

We were all very aware, the team were wonderful. The questions we were asking, the stories we were uncovering would have ramifications for people I loved very closely.

And my uncle actually was able to come out and see us and he was in the documentary. But he could only come out to see me because the previous investigations we had done.

If I had gone to him, I would have endangered him. I'm really grateful they were still willing to speak with us and to take those risks.

Because I think everybody cares so much about getting this story out to the world. And it will be wonderful to have a whole hour dedicated to Sudan tomorrow night -- Paula?

REID: Nima, as always, thank you for your incredible reporting.

[16:55:00] And again, "THE WHOLE STORY" airs tomorrow night at 9:00.

The Iowa caucuses are less than two months away and the GOP presidential candidates are flocking to the state, including Donald Trump. What they're saying and how it's playing, ahead on the CNN NEWSROOM.


REID: You are in the CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Paula Reid in Washington.


And we begin this hour with Donald Trump's return to Iowa. Right now, the former president is mounting an aggressive campaign in the state as he intends to fend off challenges from his Republican rivals.

His push comes less than two months before Iowa's all-important caucus kicks off the race for the Republican presidential nomination.