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Trump Campaigns In Iowa As Caucuses Grow Closer; CNN Poll: Trump Leading In NH, Haley Moves Into Second Place; Biden Rejects Ceasefire Calls; Colorado Judge Rejects Bid To Keep Trump Off Primary Ballot; Biden Spells Out Case For Aid To Israel And Ukraine; Threatening Visa Bans Against "Extremists Attacking Civilians"; First Plane Carrying Children From Gaza With Urgent Medical Needs Arrives In UAE; NYC Mayor Sets Up Legal Defense Fund Amid FBI Investigation; Iceland Town Evacuates Ahead Of Possible Volcanic Eruption. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 18, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
PAULA REID, CNN HOST: 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 attempts 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.
CNN's Alayna Treene is in Fort Dodge, Iowa where Trump is currently speaking.
Alayna, what is Trump saying?
ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well Paula, as you mentioned, Trump is back in Iowa just 58 days to go until the Iowa caucuses. And even though he's polling far beyond his Republican rivals in the state, his team recognizes that he can't get complacent in this final stretch. And he wants to ensure he doesn't cede any ground to some of his rivals in the next eight weeks.
But listen, so far, his speech has focused heavily on attacking President Joe Biden and specifically his record on foreign policy.
At one point, Donald Trump was referring to the president's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier in the week and started to escalate his criticism calling Joe Biden a quote, "stupid person", and suggesting that he may be on medication. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our leader is a stupid person. Our leader -- our leader can't get off this stage. You see this stage?
When he's finished with a speech by the time whatever it is he's taken wears off and he's looking, ok, thank you. All right. Thank you.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TREENE: Now Paula, some of these remarks and what you just heard right there is in line with some of the increasingly vitriolic rhetoric that Donald Trump has been using on the trail (INAUDIBLE).
Remember last week while he was in New Hampshire, Donald Trump received a wave of backlash for calling the political left "vermin" and saying that he would root them out.
And So I think this is one thing that I know a lot of people are paying attention to during his remarks in Iowa today.
Now, just real quickly, Paula, I just want to point you to one other thing I found really interesting in his remarks.
At the top of his speech, he took a victory lap when discussing the ruling yesterday from a Colorado judge who decided to keep Donald Trump on the ballot. Donald Trump said it was a quote "gigantic victory".
And also, you know, took shots at the media for saying they had a meltdown when it came out.
And so, you know, a lot more happening right now behind me but we'll keep you posted on what we hear, Paula.
REID: Alayna Treene, thank you.
Now, let's discuss that some more with former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois and CNN political commentator, Karen Finney.
All right. Joe, I want to start with you. What do you think of Trump's push in Iowa? He's not even talking about his Republican rivals. He's going after President Biden. What do you make of that?
JOE WALSH, FORMER ILLINOIS REPUBLICAN CONGRESSMAN: Paula, I make the same thing of it I've made for the past year. This party sadly is his, and this nomination is his. And I know we're in the midst of a race for the nomination but it's really not a race for the nomination.
We're 58 days from the Iowa caucuses and the race is his. The nomination is his.
And none -- Paula, none of his opponents from the very beginning have been trying to beat him. They've all been trying to be the alternative in case something happens to Trump -- a heart attack or he ends up in jail.
But none of his opponents have been trying to beat him so he's very comfortably ahead. REID: Karen, I want to get your thoughts on something else that Alayna
has covered, which was this decision in Colorado. We know that other states are also contemplating trying to make this legal argument for why he shouldn't be on the ballot.
It hasn't worked in two other states. Colorado also late last night showed it wasn't going to work there. Should other states try this too, or just focus on 2024?
KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I would just say focus on 2024 for two reasons.
Number one, the more he talks and the more we're able to see it, the more Americans are reminded of the nastiness and the chaos.
I mean calling people "vermin", essentially saying our fellow Americans are our enemies and this sort of whole revenge narrative that he has.
You know, again, that reminds people what the choice really is. And we know it's just a small portion of Republican base that is locked in with him.
FINNEY: But number two, as we've seen and I GUESS it's a tricky legal argument, but it also plays into his narrative that he's the victim, right. Every one of these legal cases, you reported on this, that's what he does, right. It is more fodder for that argument.
So I'm a little reluctant to continue to feed that on cases where we're not talking about violations of national security. We're not talking about overturning the 2020 election.
Obviously, I know part of the argument in Colorado was to say that that effort should have made him ineligible for the ballot. But I think it's a hard legal argument to make. Better to stay focused on just beating him in 2024 outright.
REID: And I want to stay with you for a second.
Let's talk about what's going on in New Hampshire with Nikki Haley. We're seeing her rising in the polls. What is going on there? She's now in second place.
FINNEY: Yes, it's interesting. Nikki Haley has done an interesting job. Different than the men that she's been on stage with.
She's made good use of her time during the debates. She has actually taken on Donald Trump in a different way. Not the way that DeSantis and Chris Christie have been, but in you know, a more, I'm just going to tell you the facts kind of, you know, telling you the truth.
And that seems to be working. And in primaries, what tends to happen is when people start leaving and someone seems like they're getting momentum as we've seen reported, donors start to take another look. And that's what we're hearing.
So she's got a little bit of momentum around that. We'll see if she'll be able to hold that. And obviously for her, New Hampshire's quite interesting but I think for her, the key is going to be South Carolina. If she can't win the South Carolina primary, then she's in real big trouble.
REID: Joe, what do you make of the ascension of Nikki Haley?
WALSH: Look -- and Karen alluded to this -- it's the cruelty. It pains me to say this. But the base of my former political party loves the cruelty.
Donald Trump called his political opponents the left in this country "vermin". There was a backlash from much of the country, but not from the Republican Party base. They love that.
That's not Nikki Haley. That's Donald Trump. People thought it was Ron DeSantis, but that's Donald Trump.
So I just don't see Nikki Haley as a threat because the base of the party is so tied to Trump and his cruelty.
REID: So what does all of this mean for Ron DeSantis?
WALSH: I think he's done. And look, this isn't a surprise. And Paula, this is the big reason why Nikki Haley is the alternative. And many of us who know Ron DeSantis knew this would happen. The moment voters really began to take a look at him, they wouldn't like him. And they haven't. Month after month.
So he's no longer the alternative. She is.
REID: And Karen, we're seeing that voters in New Hampshire seem to think that President Biden is the Democrats' best shot. What does that tell you?
FINNEY: That basically supports the argument that the president and the campaign have been making, which is in the comparison between Joe Biden and Donald Trump, not between, you know, elusive, generic candidates, both of whom who have real records to run on, President Biden is going to come out on top. It supports that argument.
The challenge for us is that New Hampshire will not technically be the first state in the Democratic primary, it will actually be South Carolina. But that says to me all the better that he's doing well in New Hampshire, quite frankly.
REID: What are you watching for -- we're going to get to the holidays -- and then what are you watching for at the beginning of the New Year?
WALSH: Such a great question, Paula. I'm looking to see if the alternative, Nikki Haley, can at all close this gap. I don't expect her to because every stupid and mean and cruel thing Donald Trump says, and he'll say things like that every day between now and through the holidays, only attaches him even more closely with the base.
So can Nikki Haley shrink that gap? I doubt it but that's what I'm looking for.
REID: And Karen, do you expect in the beginning of the New Year that the president will continue to sharpen his attacks on former President Trump? We've seen that over the past few weeks. Do you expect that's going to continue into the New Year?
FINNEY: Absolutely. I think you're going to continue to see the campaign sharpen their attacks. They actually did a call in advance of former President Trump's visit to Texas to preview some of the harsh rhetoric and the sort of extremism we would hear and Trump is delivering as predicted.
So yes, and I think we're all -- and I also think we're going to hear Trump continue to be more unhinged. Remember, those court dates will be closing in as well and that amps up the pressure on him as well as voting will actually start.
FINNEY: So I think the confluence of those pressures you're going to hear more extremism from Trump, which is going to give more of an opportunity for President Biden to delineate the real choice and the comparison.
REID: Now, I want to ask both of you about this op-ed a short time ago published by President Biden in "The Washington Post" where he rejected calls for a ceasefire. Significant because we're seeing a growing number of young voter, particularly Democratic ones, calling for a ceasefire.
So Joe, do you think something like this could harm Biden in 2024?
WALSH: I do. I applaud President Biden. I got to tell you, Paula, I am just blown away and so happy with how strongly Joe Biden has stood by Israel but let's be real. The party, the Democratic Party, has a divide on Israel.
And you mentioned the problem with younger voters. Younger voters and some folks on the far left are antagonistic toward Israel. I hope and I believe Biden will stand strong with Israel but that's a divide and that could hurt him politically.
REID: Karen, what do you think?
FINNEY: I agree. I mean I think hopefully a lot of it will depend on where we are, let's say, four to six months from now. If people are seeing that perhaps some agreement is going forward, that the fighting has stopped. I think that could be very helpful.
But it's very true. The fracture, not just in the Democratic Party, but frankly throughout the country, particularly the more we're able to see the horrors of what actually happened to people in Gaza I think is really shocking to people. And so I think as that continues to shake itself out, we may have an
opportunity to -- for peace. And hopefully if that can happen, that may start to shift the opinion from those who have been very frustrated with President Biden.
But I agree. I think he's done a really good job in a very difficult circumstance.
REID: Well, you're both going to be very busy in 2024, a consequential year. Joe Walsh and Karen Finney -- thank you.
WALSH: You're welcome.
REID: And coming up, what we're learning about efforts to free hostages being held by Hamas. We'll have a live report.
Also, a Colorado judge says Donald Trump engaged in insurrection but rules he can still appear on the state's primary ballot.
And on wheels -- what residents are calling the situation in Iceland. A town is told to get out as the ground shakes and lava starts to flow.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
REID: A Colorado judge has rejected an attempt to remove Donald Trump from the state's 2024 primary ballot, marking the third state to do so. The lawsuit claimed Trump is barred from office because of the January 6th insurrection. But the judge ruled that the 14th Amendment, which bans insurrectionists from serving as U.S. Senators, representatives, and even presidential electors, does not apply to the commander in chief.
So, let's discuss with prominent Florida defense attorney, Tim Jansen. Tim, thank you so much for joining us.
Let's dive into this decision in Colorado. So here, the judge finds that Trump engaged in an insurrection, but he can stay on the ballot. If Trump was your client, would you call him after this and say we won? Is this a win?
TIM JANSEN, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well Paula, it's interesting. It took her 102 pages to rule that she didn't have authority to take him off the ballot. You know, this wasn't the first time. In the midterm elections, they tried this with various candidates and this disqualification under the 14th was unsuccessful.
For some reason, this judge felt she had to write a lengthy opinion and then had to rule that because it didn't apply to the president because he's never sworn an oath, that she couldn't disqualify him.
Now, Trump people are going to say she was wrong. He was never going to be disqualified. She purposely put all that bad language in there to mischaracterize him. But they're going to move forward just like every other state just move forward and he's not going to be taken off any ballots under the circumstances.
REID: Do you think it helps or hurts if the Supreme Court decided this weigh in on this issue eventually, assuming it's appealed?
JANSEN: Well, I think the Supreme Court's going to rule in his favor. Remember, he hasn't been charged with insurrection so we don't penalize and disqualify people just because we believe there. They have a right to their day in court. They have a right, if he's charged and found guilty of it, then I think they could try to remove him.
But it's a long away way from just saying it without a fair trial.
REID: I want to turn attention now to Hunter Biden. This week, CNN reported that a grand jury in Los Angeles is now hearing evidence connected to what appears to be his tax issue.
So if you have a client and you hear that, you know that there was a plea deal. It fell apart and now you hear that prosecutors are bringing evidence before a grand jury, what do you tell that client is likely to happen next?
JANSON: Well, I'd feel pretty good that the prosecutor is the same prosecutor that let the statute of limitations run on the money laundering. You're going to a jurisdiction in California, free liberal jurisdiction.
You know, they say a ham sandwich could be indicted by a grand jury. I find it hard pressed to see they're going to indict Hunter Biden on tax charges out there. Why he said they're looking at -- or it's leaked that they're looking at failure to register as a foreign agent and tax charges.
Paula, tax charges are pretty simple. They're document-driven cases. There's not a lot of innuendo. You have to prove that they intentionally didn't file the taxes or their fax tomorrow is wrong. So the numbers will speak for themselves.
JANSEN: The question really is why did it take so long to get here? Why are we going to California? This originally started in Delaware. Those are questions the general public has.
REID: I believe they're in California in part because that's where the taxes were paid. It's also where he lives. But if he is charged, I know his legal team is likely to point to the fact that look, these taxes were paid back and they've also argued that this was a very chaotic time in his life. He was struggling with substance abuse.
Would you use and how would you use either one of those points in a possible defense for a client in this situation?
JANSON: Well, paying the taxes back has no relevance to whether or not you failed to file or you didn't, or you improperly filed a tax return.
Whether he was going through a mental or drug induced stage where he didn't realize or didn't -- had no intent, that could go to intent. So a lawyer could defend it by saying he wasn't in the right state of mind. He signed these documents when he was under the influence of drugs, addiction. He didn't realize he earned this money.
That could be a viable defense in a federal case and that would be up to the jury to decide whether he knowingly intentionally failed to file taxes or failed to file a proper tax return.
REID: All right. Looking forward to this week, we know the court of appeals here in D.C. is going to hear arguments about one of the gag orders for former president Trump, the one here in Washington.
He was also subject to a gag order in New York civil case, specifically barred from talking about the judge's clerk. Both of those gag orders on hold but earlier today, he posted once again, we have the Truth Social post, attacking the judge's clerk.
Now, Tim, we know why the former president does this, right. He wants to undermine trust in the justice system.
But just based on your decades of experience, how unusual is it for a defendant to attack a member of the court's staff in this way?
JANSEN: Well, I've never had a client of mine both publicly attack the judge or publicly attack the judge's clerk. That would be unheard of.
But of course, I haven't represented a man running for president of the United States and he's in the middle of a campaign and apparently, he feels that he's being politically charged.
And one court says he does have a First Amendment right. The appellate court in New York said that the civil judge was wrong. We'll see what the D.C. Circuit does. But it's kind of unheard of.
But you know, we're in unprecedented times where you have a former president who's running for president who has defended in criminal cases and on one side, you say he's running for office. That's why he's doing this. And the other side, he's a defendant. He shouldn't be attacking the judiciary.
It's a balancing test for sure, Paula.
REID: But also fair to say it's different, attacking the Justice Department writ large or the attorney general of the United States as compared to attacking a judge's clerk who we know doesn't have large sway over how cases proceed.
JANSEN: Well, I disagree because I've never seen a judge allow a clerk to sit right next to him in a proceeding like that, pass notes back and forth, and it appears she's a secondary judge. And he's taken great deference to her.
You know, you can take breaks and they can pass notes, but this seems to be more like he's more reliant on her and she's like a quasi-second judge.
I've never seen anything like that before in a courtroom. Usually a clerk sits farther away or they're in the back and he takes a break, but I've never seen it like this, Paula.
REID: Also when I clerked in Wilmington after law school in a previous life, I sat right next to the judge. I don't remember us passing notes very often unless one of us was really hungry, but I definitely sat right next to the judge.
But we know, of course, It's the judge who has control over the courtroom.
Tim Jansen thank you so much for joining us. I appreciate it.
JANSEN: Thank you, Paula.
REID: And coming up, the majority of patients and staff are leaving Gaza's largest hospital. We'll bring you the latest.
You're in the CNN NEWSROOM.
REID: President Biden has a new op-ed in "The Washington Post" this evening where he makes the case for why America should be involved in protecting Israel and Ukraine. Biden says it is America's duty to lead and that he won't back down from the challenge of Putin either.
Priscilla Alvarez is with the president in Wilmington. Priscilla, what is the president hoping to achieve with this op-ed?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, the big picture here is that it serves as a reminder that these conflicts abroad, though they may be far away, do affect U.S. national security. That's been a message that the president has tried to send repeatedly as these two conflicts in Israel and Ukraine have continued to unfold.
But he also took the time in this op-ed to say that it is not a time for a ceasefire. There have been mounting calls here domestically and abroad for that to happen and the reasoning according to the president is this. Quote, "As long as Hamas clings to its ideology of destruction, a ceasefire is not peace."
He goes on to say 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," end quote there.
Now, what the administration has pushed for is humanitarian pauses, saying that would be a way to allow for the release of hostages held by Hamas as well as getting aid into Gaza.
[17:29:54] ALVAREZ: But in addition to that, and notably, the president warns of issuing visa bans against extremists attacking civilians in the West Bank. This has been a key area of concern for the administration and would mark an escalation if they are to take this step. And the president saying that they're preparing to do so if this violence does not end.
Then, of course, it goes on to stress a lot of what we've heard from the president before, that Israel needs to respect humanitarian law, protect innocent civilians.
He also stressed a two-state solution. That, the president says, is the only solution to the Israel-Hamas conflict.
And again, to take the 30,000 quote here, the president has asked Congress for a supplemental. That is billions of additional funding for the conflicts in Ukraine and Israel.
And this is yet another call for Americans shoring up support to make sure they understand that it is important to support these conflicts because, otherwise, they're ceding ground to Putin and Hamas.
So the president taking the time to acknowledge all of these points in this op-ed that ran in "The Washington Post" just earlier this afternoon -- Paula?
REID: Priscilla, as we read this op-ed, talks, of course, continue about releasing the hostages taken by Hamas. Is there any more clarity on how that's going and what role the U.S. is playing?
ALVAREZ: This is not easy and it is incredibly challenging for this administration and for all of those parties that are involved.
Now, Prime Minister Netanyahu said earlier today that there is no deal as of now.
This has been an ongoing process. Qatar is serving as mediator in these negotiations. And senior administration officials are working feverishly behind the clock.
President Biden saying that multiple times a day he is spending talking to his team about the situation.
And this week, twice, he talked to a leader of Qatar about this. Again, they are the mediator in these negotiations, a key role in all of this.
And the president speaking to him goes to show just how much of a priority it is for this administration and how much effort this has taken.
But as of now, Paula, there's no indication of a deal coming together anytime soon. Again, Israel's prime minister saying just today there is no deal.
REID: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you. Israel is allowing two tankers of fuel into Gaza, but experts say it's
not nearly enough to prevent people from dying.
Palestinian officials say it's far from enough to help run ambulances and provide clean water with critical ambulance and hospital needs.
Now, the Palestinian Authority's Ministry of Health says only nine of Gaza's 35 hospitals are still operating. This comes as the first plane carrying children from Gaza with urgent medical needs arrived in the UAE today.
Joining me now to discuss all of this, Tanya Haj-Hassan. She's the co- founder of Gaza Medic Voices and a pediatric intensive care doctor for Doctors Without Borders.
Thank you so much for joining us.
I want to ask what are you hearing from your organization on the situation in Gaza right now?
TANYA HAJ-HASSAN, CO-FOUNDER, GAZA MEDIC VOICES & PEDIATRIC INTENSIVE CARE DOCTOR, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: Hi, Paula. Thank you.
The situation is really intolerable. I feel like every day, all I can find is the worst possible words to describe what's happening then the next day, I wake up and something worse happens. And we're lost for words.
You know, we have MSF staff, Doctors Without Borders staff, at Al- Shifa Hospital, the hospital that's been targeted multiple times, as have the majority of hospitals in the Gaza Strip at this point.
We know they're still there trying to treat injured and sick patients. They were still there when Israeli forces entered several days ago.
And I haven't received an update since then. We are unable to contact them and are very, very worried about the rest of the staff and their families who are trapped in various places in the Gaza Strip.
In our last contact with the staff at Shifa Hospital, they described having no electricity, no food, no water. Scenes that are intolerable.
As you mentioned, I'm in contact with other medical professionals at the Gaza Strip through other work that I have done in that region. And they are completely, completely overwhelmed by an unbearable level of suffering they're witnessing.
They describe the hospitals, what's left of the hospitals, as being slaughterhouses. They describe being unable to articulate what they're seeing, calling them intolerable scenes, scenes that no creature can bear.
We have been warning about this for weeks. This is a systemic massacre of an entire population, a systemic destruction of an entire health care system, targeted destruction of the health care system. And I'm at a loss for words.
Then, you know, you probably heard that again, Al-Shifa has been again asked to evacuate what staff and patients are left. That's like an utterly impossible request. Sick patients cannot be evacuated across the Gaza Strip.
Even -- we know that these so-called corridors for evacuation have not been safe. Multiple people have been targeted on them.
And even if we were to assume they were safe, you have extreme, to transport a critical care physician, you need multiple staff members, we need equipment, we need safe passage.
And it takes hours. It takes a lot of advanced equipment. It's just utterly impossible.
We already know that many -- and we can't receive reports because we don't have contact.
But the last reports were that so many of these critical ill adults, children, and newborn infants have died as a consequence of being deprived of the basic care that medical professionals like myself are trying to provide for them.
REID: So, for those who cannot be evacuated, what can be done to help these patients with critical needs?
HAJ-HASSAN: I mean, everything that can be done to protect and keep patients alive is being systemically destroyed. So, access to life support equipment is impossible when you don't have electricity. And when it's destroyed by forces entering the hospital.
Access to water, access to medicines that we've been warning have run out and continue to run out of every type over the last several weeks.
And of course, access to safe spaces to operate within. We have health care staff at these hospitals that describe being killed through the windows as they pass down the corridors trying to do their duty to care for patients.
I'm sure you hear my frustration, but I -- I share, as a doctor who has worked in these hospitals and other humanitarian crisis, and as a doctor who has committed the Hippocratic Oath to care for my patients, I share the rage, the fear, the desperation, the immense sadness of medical professionals there.
And it's utterly indefensible to attack facilities and health care providers and patients. I'm talking on a health care level.
But then there's just -- you know, we can speak for hours about the impact and the impunity at which health care facilities and health care workers have been targeted over the last six -- where are we now, six weeks.
But there's also, you know, entire civilian congregations. Today, two United Nations schools were hit. There are reports of thousands of people, a couple hundred people at least being killed. Mostly women and children. This is, you know, utterly indefensible.
There have been so many violations of international law and these are crimes against humanity.
And I -- I am struggling to process how, as an international community, we allow this to happen with all of the systems and checks that we have in place to prevent these kinds of crimes against humanity.
And the fact we've been warning about them every single day for the last six weeks, I am struggling to process how are still living this reality.
REID: Doctor, I do clearly hear the frustration in your voice.
Thank you so much for joining us with your perspective. Thank you, Doctor.
HAJ-HASSAN: I'd like to just end by saying there is an urgent, urgent need for a ceasefire. I know you've heard these words from me and the majority of the humanitarian community for the last six weeks.
But they have been met with the deafening silence of the powers that are able to make that happen.
We have to have a ceasefire. We have to have the opening of humanitarian aid.
You have an entire population that's being bombarded indiscriminately, that has been stripped of their access to health care system, that is being driven to severe dehydration, thirst, lack of food.
And I'm worried about MSF staff, I'm worried about Palestinian families, and I'm worried about the very large civilian population of Gaza, at least half of whom are children. This has to stop.
REID: Thank you, again, for sharing your perspective.
We'll be right back.
REID: Disturbing video just into CNN. Earlier today, a group of about 20 Neo-Nazis marched to the state capital in Wisconsin waving Nazi flags.
The Wisconsin governor, Tony Evers, calling the march truly revolting, saying Neo-Nazis, anti-Semitism and white supremacy have no home in Wisconsin.
The capital is also the home to the University of Wisconsin, Madison. The university did not say whether the demonstrators were ever on campus but says it has tightened up security ahead of tonight's football game.
And New York City's Mayor Eric Adams has set up a legal defense fund. The move comes amid a wide-ranging public corruption investigation by the FBI and the U.S. attorney's office into Adams' 2021 campaign.
CNN's Polo Sandoval joins us now from city hall.
Polo, what is the latest?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So, Paula, here we are, well into this federal public corruption investigation you referenced and the mayor continues to maintain that he has not been accused of any wrongdoing.
He has also now moved to establish a defense fund, a pool of money the mayor can use now for any resulting legal fees.
Now, he is well within his ability to actually do that, well, within his right to do that. That's at least according to city code. But he would certainly have to act well within restrictions and requirements.
I want to list a couple of those. For example, according to city code, he would not be able to at least not receive any individual donations exceeding $5,000. He would have to disclose all of those legal expenses.
Also, he cannot receive any donations from subordinates anyone doing business with the city and also can't receive funding from any companies or corporations.
So there's certainly some guardrails in place here that are dictating who can give to the mayor's fund, but not exactly how much.
Again, at this point in time, he can do this as his investigation presses forward -- Paula?
REID: Polo Sandoval, thank you.
And tonight, we're introducing you to the top-10 CNN Heroes of the Year.
Yasmine Arrington was one of nearly the 1.5 million children in the U.S. navigating life with a parent in prison. She has dedicated herself to helping people just like her get into college.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YASMINE ARRINGTON, CNN HERO: What we're ultimately doing is ensuring that young people who have incarcerated parents are overcoming systemic barriers and also changing the trajectory of not only their lives but their family's lives and breaking the stereotypes and the stigma around having an incarcerated parent.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Getting ready for graduation.
ARRINGTON: Congratulations! I'm so excited! What keeps me going, it's that proud mama effect to see our scholars achieve, accomplish and over time, gain a sense of healthy confidence.
Just a little bit of support can go a very, very long way. It really is a snowball effect.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
REID: Go to CNNheroes.com right to vote for Yasmine for CNN Hero of the Year or choose your favorite top-10 hero.
We'll be right back.
REID: Tonight, a town in Iceland is under evacuation as geologists fear a nearby volcanic system is on the verge of erupting.
CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Iceland for us.
Fred, how dangerous could a possible eruption be?
FRED PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it can certainly be very dangerous for that town of Grindavik and in general for the south of Iceland.
Of course, one of the things we know, Paula, is what is a big volcanic eruption in Iceland can really affect the entire northern hemisphere.
Of course, about 10 years ago, 13 years ago, there was a big eruption of a volcano in Iceland that disrupted air travel for a long period of time.
I want to show you where I am actually. I'm at the last checkpoint we can get to before you get to that town you mentioned. It's called Grindavik. You can tell it is about 10 kilometers, so six and a half miles, from where we are right now.
Underneath that sign, the world-famous Blue Lagoon, those hot springs that, of course, are only there because of the volcanic activity in this part of Iceland.
All of that now cordoned off as the authorities here believe that it is highly likely that there is going to be a large eruption and that that large eruption could very well happen extremely soon.
Now, there's another dangerous factor in all of this as well, because between where I'm standing right now and the town of Grindavik, there is also a thermal power plant.
What the authorities here are doing, all night long, 24/7, is trying to dig a massive trench for when the lava comes, if the lava comes, to try to divert the lava away from that geothermal powerplant as well.
So certainly the authorities here in this part of Iceland very much on edge as they believe this could be a massive volcanic eruption.
You know, we saw some of the videos that have been coming out of Iceland over the past couple of days.
In that town of Grindavik, already, the magma that is under the earth right now is trying to make its way through the earth's crust and destroying a lot of the streets there.
Where you see the big cracks in the streets, steam coming out of those, large parts of that town are already very much affected. You know, you mentioned it. The place absolutely evacuated.
What the authorities are doing, because they had to evacuate it so quickly, is they are letting people into the town for a very short period of time during the days to pick up some of their stuff, but then they immediately have to leave again.
But they're also not sure how much longer they will be able to do that as the situation here continues to get more strained, continues to deteriorate.
Again, the authorities believe a massive eruption could be happening very, very soon -- Paula?
Fred Pleitgen, thank you for that reporting.
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