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Israel-Hamas War; Police Seek Person Of Interest After I-10 Fire; Companies Suspend Advertising On X After Musk Publicly Embraces Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory; 261 Georgia Congregations Leave United Methodist Church Over Divide On LGBTQ Issues. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired November 19, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: Hi everyone. And thanks so much for joining me. I'm Jessica Dean, in for Fredricka Whitfield.
And we begin with some breaking news.
The focus of Israel's war in Gaza has become al Shifa hospital and Israel has long said that Hamas uses that hospital to cover up what it says is an extensive terror network underground.
It's something Hamas and hospital officials deny but clearly Israel believes it is building its case with the exposure of what it says is a tunnel shaft on the hospital's grounds.
CNN's Oren Liebermann entered Gaza with the Israeli Defense Forces Saturday night to see the tunnel shaft and what lies beneath.
CNN reported from Gaza under IDF escort at all times. And as a condition for journalists who join that embed, media outlets have to submit footage filmed in Gaza to the Israeli military for its review.
I'll let you watch.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We go in under cover of darkness. And as we cross the border, it's lights out across the Gaza Strip. Escorted by a tank, we switch into an armored personnel carrier for the final stretch.
Even through a night vision screen you can see the magnitude of the destruction on the streets of Gaza City.
We offload at the al-Shifa hospital, pick our way along even center street (ph) nor what's left. We have to keep our lights off most of the time or risk exposing our position.
CNN reported from Gaza under Israel Defense Forces escort at all times. As a condition for journalists who join this embed with IDF, media outlets must submit footage filmed in Gaza to the Israeli military censors for review.
Now at the hospital compound, we wait inside a structure to make sure the area is secure before moving the short distance to the exposed tunnel shaft.
And here is the entrance. You can see what looks like a ladder accessing to it. And as I step over here, it's very difficult to see how far down it goes. But it looks like there's almost a central shaft or a staircase, and then the shaft disappears then down into the darkness.
We move around the opening for a better look at the shaft itself. It's clear from here that this is meant to go deep underground.
Which direction does the tunnel go?
MAJ. NIR DINAR, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: We assume the tunnel goes out and has another corridor to this way.
LIEBERMANN: Towards the hospital?
DINAR: Towards the hospital.
It connects to the hospital to outside which implies (ph) with the way that Hamas is working, Hamas is going out somewhere, shooting at our forces and going back inside to a safe place.
LIEBERMANN: We weren't allowed to enter the shaft. But the Israeli military spent special gear down to see where this leads. Inside, the video shows a spiral staircase and as the camera orients itself, it moves forward into a tunnel. The tunnel makes a sharp left turn, and at the end of another path a concrete wall and an arched concrete top, a metal door they say they have not yet opened because they fear it's booby-trapped.
IDF spokesman, Admiral Daniel Hagari says some of the Israeli hostages taken on October 7th were also brought through the hospital. He says the body of Noa Marciano was discovered 50 meters from the compound.
ADM. DANIEL HAGARI, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCE SPOKESPERSON: We have evidence that they were holding hostages in Rantisi, but also, we have evidence that they were bringing them to Shifa Hospital. We've been looking for the places they might have held them.
LIEBERMANN: This is not proof of a Hamas command center or headquarters underneath the hospital, but Israel continues trying to build its case that Hamas uses the sanctuary of the hospital for cover which Hamas and hospital officials have denied.
The IDF's ability to continue its operation in Gaza and the credibility of Israel are at stake here as the number killed in the fighting surpasses 12,000 according to the Hamas-run ministry of health.
The IDF says one of its missions is to destroy Hamas. But with international criticism mounting, Israel has to show the terror organization is using Gaza's civilians and infrastructure as cover to justify an ongoing war.
DEAN: And let's bring in CNN's Oren Liebermann who we just saw in that piece there.
And Oren, the IDF is releasing this video as we discussed after this mounting pressure from the international community to prove its claims about the hospital.
DEAN: And it's coming after a U.S. official with knowledge of American intelligence told CNN last week that Hamas does have a command center under al Shifa Hospital.
Do you think we're likely to see more video like this coming out from the IDF?
LIEBERMANN: I think it's safe to say absolutely, yes. They began with a little bit of evidence when they moved into Shifa Hospital. And that was ammunition, vests and other weaponry found inside the hospital.
CNN was later able to confirm that some of that had been moved around. So there were serious questions about that. But then they exposed the tunnel shaft itself. And we got a chance during a six-hour visit to Gaza to see the opening of the shaft and the video showing what's inside there.
It is clear that this is arguably the most compelling evidence yet that the IDF presented that there is a tunnel network below Gaza and below the al Shifa complex. It's important to note, we've known for years, for more than a decade that there are tunnels crisscrossing under Gaza. But the key question here: is it under the al Shifa Hospital? Because that's been Israel's claim and that's where Israel focused much of its effort.
Does the one tunnel we see video of and where we visited the entrance prove the existence of a network? No. But again, it is the most compelling evidence we have seen and the IDF has promised there is more to come. They have not yet really gone into tunnels, not this one and not others because of the dangers of doing so. That is very much where Hamas has a serious advantage.
So that's one of the challenges the IDF is trying to figure out. How do you map what's under there and see what's under there? And if your goal is to prove it's a command center as it clearly is, how do you do that?
And that's something the IDF is trying to grapple with, again, as you point out, as the international pressure mounts here to show, yes, in fact, there is a command center or some sort of significant Hamas structure underneath Gaza's largest medical center.
DEAN: Yes. And Oren, the IDF is briefing right now. And we know they're showing images of what they say are hostages taken to al Shifa. What more do you know about that as it pertains to the hostages?
LIEBERMANN: So in this case, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari is putting out information on three specific hostages.
First is 19-year-old Corporal Noa Marciano. He said in his briefing that according to an independent pathological investigation, they know that Marciano was brought into Gaza alive and that her captor was killed in the fighting, although she was only injured.
They then say they had intelligence that she was taken to Shifa hospital and murdered by Hamas there. We had been previously told that she had been murdered by Hamas but these are more detailed about that.
Now, what we don't know is how or whom carried out the independent pathological investigation or what that intelligence is. But the IDF says they now have this intelligence. Her body was brought out of Gaza only several days ago.
Then the IDF says they also have video that shows that a Nepali hostage and a Thai hostage from Israel were taken through the hospital as well. And the reason they were working in southern Israel at the time as many Nepalis and Thais come as essentially migrant farmworkers and some were taken as hostage.
So we're learning more, at least according to what the IDF says, about how Shifa hospital was used in the days after the October 7th attack.
DEAN: It sounds like more to come on that.
Oren Liebermann for us. Thank you so much for that reporting.
And any moment now President Biden will depart from the airport outside of Wilmington, Delaware en route to Norfolk, Virginia where he's going to meet with service members and their families ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday.
CNN's White House reporter Priscilla Alvarez is joining us now, live from Wilmington. And Priscilla, is the president or the White House saying anything about these new videos that Oren just showed us?
PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the president didn't answer any questions as he was boarding Air Force One. But the White House, when I asked about this, did point to comments made by deputy national security adviser Jon Finer this morning.
And what he said is that U.S. intelligence, not only Israeli intelligence, had suggested that Hamas was operating in the al Shifa Hospital in what he called an unconscionable way.
Now that does not mean, Finer said, that Israel should conduct air strikes on the hospital or launch any type of assault, but it does underscore the challenges that Israel faces and how complicated this conflict is on the ground.
Now, there have been ongoing conversations between Israel and the U.S., and there are moments in which President Biden raises concerns with the prime minister, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when there are incidents that result in the death of innocent civilians.
But all of that, still, the president saying in an op-ed just yesterday in "The Washington Post" that he is rejecting calls for a cease-fire. That has been the position for this administration. Instead pushing for those humanitarian pauses to get more aid into Gaza as well as for the release of hostages.
Now, the president made two other important points in that op-ed. He said, one, there will be -- could be visa bans on extremists that are attacking civilians in the West Bank. That has been an area of concern for the White House.
ALVAREZ: But he also called again for a two-state solution. That is an idea that he has long endorsed and it is one that he called for again in this robust op-ed where he goes on to say, quote, "A two-state solution, two peoples living side-by-side with equal measures of freedom, opportunity and dignity is where the road to peace must lead. He goes on to say, "Reaching it will take commitment from Israelis and Palestinians as well as from the United States, our allies and partners."
The president also went on to say that Israel needs to respect humanitarian law and protect innocent civilians. But what is clear today, both from the president's op-ed yesterday as well as from national security officials today is that this is a very complicated conflict and requires the intelligence-gathering to try to understand where Hamas is operating and why these strikes just become all the more difficult.
DEAN: And Priscilla, you mentioned Jon Finer from the NSA. He was talking on some of the shows earlier this morning. And he also talked about the potential of getting back and getting these hostages released. What more do we know about where that stands right now?
ALVAREZ: Well, notably he said that they are at the closest point that they have been since these negotiations began weeks ago. Take a listen.
JON FINER, WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: What I can say about this at this time is we think that we are closer than we have been perhaps at any point since these negotiations began weeks ago, that there are areas of difference and disagreement that have been narrowed, if not closed out entirely, but that the mantra that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed certainly applies here to such a sensitive negotiation, and there is no deal currently in place.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ALVAREZ: So important to note there. He said that there is no deal. But clearly there have been inroads in the hours and days.
Now he also did not dive into any details. He noted that they don't have a clear sense of how many hostages we're talking about here, co clear numbers. But it is a priority for this administration and it is something that they are still working around the clock on.
But notable that he said they are the closest they've been so far.
DEAN: Yes. Notable, and no doubt about that.
And also made prominent place in President Biden's op-ed yesterday talking about what they're trying to do to get those hostages back.
All right. Priscilla Alvarez for us in Wilmington, Delaware following the president today. Thanks so much.
And I want to bring in CNN global affairs analyst Kim Dozier, also CNN military analyst Retired Major General James "Spider" Marks and former CIA operative Bob Baer.
With all of you here, I think we've got a lot of these angles covered. General, I want to talk first with you. Let's go back to this new IDF video that Oren Liebermann was just showing us a few minutes.
Israel says it shows this Hamas tunnel at the al Shifa Hospital. What do you make of that and what you're seeing as you're watching that?
MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: We shouldn't be surprised that there's been the discovery of this tunnel access. The fact that it is on the al Shifa Hospital grounds, I think that's what's most significant.
And clearly the IDF has some additional work to do to see where it's connected and where it leads. Clearly, it's part of that larger labyrinth of tunnels that exists.
And I think what's really important is that at this stage of the military operation, this becomes an incredibly precise and very slow methodical operation on the part of the IDF. The pressure, however, is from the international community to show evidence.
And so there will be this clamoring of immediate identification of what type of access that Hamas has had to these tunnels. What have they been using with these tunnels. And I think in many cases that's simply additional information.
The fact of the matter is, they've got this tunnel complex and they used this thing quite aggressively in order to facilitate their movement so that they can then pop up, conduct operations, get back down in these tunnels into some level of sanctuary.
So I think the IDF understands the pressure from the international community. They've got to respond, but we have to be able to understand that this is an operation that's going to take some time.
DEAN: Right. It's going to take a minute. And Bob, I want to ask you in terms of what you think about this video squaring with what the U.S. intelligence knows about the Hamas terrorist infrastructure in Gaza and just a reminder to everyone we have reporting that American intelligence does indicate that they have a command center there under the hospital.
How do you think this video falls in with that?
ROBERT BAER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, we need to see what's behind that door because people are talking about a command center. So far, the Israelis have not shown proof of that. And that would be communications, water, fuel, generators and the rest. We just haven't seen that.
BAER: As far as American intelligence goes, the best we can do, we don't have assets in Gaza or in Hamas, that's very clear.
So we can listen to intercepts, people on cell phones. We can use drone feeds to see what's happening. But it's very much a question of interpretation.
I would not call it a smoking gun. And I totally agree with General Marks that we have to wait to see how this plays out. We need forensic evidence.
But in the meantime, Israel is in a race about public opinion because it's not going well for them. And the reason is it does not have precise intelligence about where Hamas is.
As General Marks said, they're down in tunnels, they're moving around. The Israelis don't have maps of these tunnels. They're mined. We're talking about months, if not years, before we figure out precisely 7 October.
And who's -- even who's in charge of Hamas at this point. That is not at all clear. It's a closed organization. Very hard to get into.
DEAN: And Kim, we're listening to Bob talking about, he says that you know, talking about this international pressure on the IDF and Israel to back up this claim that Hamas is using al Shifa Hospital as a command center. that that's why -- that it can justify its actions that it's taken there.
And of course, this conflict is playing out in the age of social media and immediate news when people can have all of this stuff at their fingertips very quickly.
How important is it for the IDF to continue to provide this sort of evidence, and even evidence beyond what they've shown so far?
KIM DOZIER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, as both the panelists on with me know, it takes a while to exploit intelligence that you're gathering. In order to build this case, one of the pieces of evidence that the Israelis have just released or claimed to say represents two hostages taken within the Shifa hospital grounds.
I know that CNN hasn't yet been able to geolocate that video or prove that it's legitimate but that meant they got inside the hospital, examined hundreds, thousands of hours of footage since October 7th to find those frames that would make the case.
What they're also doing is going into these tunnels with robot drones and other means that keep soldiers out of harm's way, and they're also examining all of the go-pro video evidence that either got uploaded by the Hamas terrorists themselves or taken off the bodies of the Hamas fighters that they were able to capture.
All of that is being analyzed to get the names of the operatives and to figure out who to track down. In some cases Israeli military officials tell me they know where these people are, but they're so embedded in the population including in southern Gaza, that that's why it has to go so slowly.
DEAN: Right. And Bob, back to you. I do want to touch on the hostages for a second before you all go. The White House, as we heard Priscilla report, saying today we may be closer than ever to reaching this deal to releasing hostages held by Hamas.
What do you make of them talking about this publicly? They've been very careful to not say too much. The president has been very careful to not say too much and we've had some false starts here. Obviously, this was a deal that could fall apart in a second.
Do you think we will potentially see something soon?
BAER: I think we will. When you hear so much about this at this point, I think that Hamas is ready to look for good news in terms of international opinion, and they'll release, for instance, children, elderly and women and the rest of it.
But I don't think they're ever going to give up the soldiers until there's really, truly some sort of truce agreement.
So I think we're -- but I'd like to say one thing. Don't forget vis-a- vis the hospitals, that Hamas owns Gaza Strip. You don't go into these hospitals, you don't leave them without somehow getting the permission of Hamas. They're everywhere.
So this is what the problem for the Israelis are. They've got so many targets to hit. They can use algorithms, they can use drones. But at the end of the day it's a popular insurgency, a guerilla war.
DEAN: And they're just so embedded there, as you just explained.
All right. General Spider Marks who unfortunately we lost, Kim Dozier, Bob Baer, thank you to all of you. We appreciate it.
And still to come, the major media companies taking a stand against anti-Semitism and new images of a person of interest in the massive fire that shut down Interstate 10 in Los Angeles. We'll tell you what we're learning about that. That's next.
DEAN: We have new details this afternoon on the I-10 freeway in the heart of Los Angeles that was damaged in a massive fire last weekend.
Cal Fire releasing new images of a person of interest captured on video near the time and location of that fire.
And this morning Governor Gavin Newsom saying officials received helpful information after that image was released. He also announced the interstate will reopen before tomorrow's rush hour traffic. That's far ahead of initial estimates.
Let's bring in CNN's Mike Valerio for more. Mike what's the latest you're hearing there?
MIKE VALERIO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well Jessica, you know, I think the best way to answer that question is to tell you that we are hearing joy, not just here in the City of Angels but spread throughout southern California.
VALERIO: Because Jessica, earlier today the governor and mayor of Los Angeles confirmed there was the potential when this happened about a week ago that this stretch of vital highway, Interstate 10 through the heart of Los Angeles, there was a potential that it would have possibly been closed not just for a few days or a few weeks, but for the possibility of it being shut down through Memorial Day into next year about six months from now.
So there's elation that the headline here is that this is reopening at some point tonight.
And in terms of, Jessica, why this matters, why this is a big story for people who are outside of Los Angeles, this will, authorities say, make the Thanksgiving drive so much easier for people who are going to be coming into California for the Thanksgiving holiday and all throughout the week because of the chain reaction of this freeway being shut down, what it did to the civic fabric.
And also there's the human dimension that is coming into greater focus of not just a couple, but hundreds of carpenters, engineers, electricians, pile drivers working on overdrive to make this happen.
We heard from the vice president of the United States and the governor talking about all those things. Here is what they said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: And you know, we can give the fancy speeches all day long, but we're able to stand here and do this because they did this work on the ground. In many cases working as many as 14 hours a day.
GOV. GAVIN NEWSOM (D-CA): Eight days to get this thing open and operational. and that means, if you're doing the math, that this thing opens tonight. It will be fully operational tomorrow.
(END VIDEO CLIP) VALERIO: Ok. So where do we go from here? You know, this is not just crime against concrete. There's a criminal investigation that is still happening to try to find the person who intentionally set this fire.
So on that front authorities released two images yesterday. And you know, they're hard to see. They are surveillance pictures. But there are some interesting characteristics. Authorities saying that the man believed to be responsible here in his 30s, around six foot, but also has a knee brace on his right knee, a possible burn on his left leg.
So you know, you hear authorities who are talking on the radio, local news, all throughout the city asking families to say, all right, you got a son, do you have a brother who wears a knee brace on his right knee who has an unexplained burn on his left leg? Start asking some questions because this doesn't just impact a few people.
There are 600 businesses that were damaged because of this, but certainly an encouraging chapter as we all move forward here, Jessica.
DEAN: Yes. A lot of southern Californians very happy, especially with thanksgiving coming up.
Mike Valerio in Los Angeles. Thanks so much for that update.
And coming up, major media brands are suspending advertising on Elon Musk's platform X. How they're taking a stand against anti-Semitism. That's next.
DEAN: A growing number of prominent brands are suspending their advertising on X, formerly known as Twitter, after Elon Musk publicly embraced an antisemitic conspiracy theory that's favored by white supremacists. Among the companies pulling their ads -- Disney, Paramount, NBC Universal, Comcast, Lionsgate and Warner Bros. Discovery, that's the parent of CNN. IBM pulled its ads after some of them appeared alongside pro-Nazi content on the site.
As CNN's Oliver Darcy reports, Elon Musk isn't the only one who's spreading these conspiracy theories.
OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER (voice-over): Antisemitic rhetoric is finding a home in right-wing media. Since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war, a handful of influential talk show hosts has spread antisemitic tropes to their millions of followers. One the main charges, the disgraceful notion that a spike in antisemitism is merely Jewish people getting a taste of their own medicine, after supposedly supporting anti-white sentiment, a reprehensible conspiracy theory that has been denounced by the Anti-Defamation League.
Take Elon Musk, one of the world's richest men, who has supported a host of right-wing conspiracy theories. Musk replied to a user online, publicly endorsing that notion, writing this week, you have said the actual truth.
It's not just limited to Musk. Right wing media figures Tucker Carlson, Candace Owens, and Charlie Kirk have also peddled this idea.
CHARLIE KIRK, TALK SHOW HOST: It is true that some of the largest financiers of left-wing anti-white causes have been Jewish Americans.
DARCY: Kirk has also floated the conspiracy theory that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu knew about the October 7th terror attack but chose to do nothing.
KIRK: I'm not -- I'm not willing to say, to go so far that saying that Netanyahu knew or there was intelligence here. But I think some questions need to be asked. Was there a stand down order? Was there stand down order? Six hours? I don't believe it.
DARCY: Meanwhile, Carlson and Owens have criticized Harvard donors for supposedly supporting anti-white racism, framing them as hypocrites for now being upset over antisemitism.
TUCKER CARLSON, TALK SHOW HOST: Wait a second, if the biggest donors, let's say Harvard, have said we're going to shut it down now, where were you the last 10 years ago promoting white genocide. You are allowing this. And then I found myself really hating those people.
CANDACE OWENS, TALK SHOW HOST: People were asking the question is, where were you --
OWENS: -- as we have endured all of this?
CARLSON: You are paying for it, actually.
CARLSON: You are paying for it.
OWENS: You are paying for it. You were okay with it.
CARLSON: As you are calling my children immoral for their skin color, you paid for that. So why shouldn't I be mad at you? I don't understand.
DARCY: Some conservatives have pushed back against the antisemitic rhetoric being spread by their peers. Ben Shapiro, cofounder of "The Daily Wire", which employs Candace Owens, ripped her earlier commentary as disgraceful, during a recent speech.
BEN SHAPIRO, CO-FOUNDER, THE DAILY WIRE: The question was about Candace Owns. I think here behavior during this has been disgraceful. Without a doubt.
Yeah. She still works for my company. And I think she's been absolutely disgraceful. I think that her faux sophistication on these particular issues have been ridiculous. DARCY: Owens appeared to fire back in a response trouncing (ph)
antisemitism, suggesting Shapiro had opted for wealth over virtue, quoting a Bible verse saying you can not serve both God and money. CNN reached out to "The Daily Wire" for comment and has not gotten a reply.
The rhetoric comes as antisemitic attacks are surging across the U.S., and around the world.
Jonathan Greenblatt, that head of the ADL, spoke out against the commentary coursing through right-wing media, responding to Musk, Greenblatt said: At a time when antisemitism is exploding in America, and surging around the world, it is indisputably dangerous to use once influenced to validate and promote antisemitic theories.
Oliver Darcy, CNN, New York.
DEAN: And let's talk a little bit more about this. Joining me now is Ashley Gold. She's a technology policy reporter for "Axios".
Ashley, great to have you on. Thanks for making time.
I want to ask you first, what are some of these companies saying, as they're explaining their decisions to suspend their advertising here?
DEAN: Okay, unfortunately, we can't hear Ashley. Let's take a quick break. We're going to see if we can get her back.
We'll be right back.
DEAN: And welcome back.
Joining me now is Ashley Gold.
She's a technology reporter for "Axios".
And, Ashley, we're glad to have you back. We lost you a little bit before the break.
We were talking about some of these biggest companies that have suspended their advertising on this platform known as X, used to be Twitter, after Elon Musk has embraced this antisemitic conspiracy theory that's been supported by white supremacists.
So, when I wanted to ask you, it's what some of these companies are now saying as they're walking people through and explaining their decision to suspend their advertising here?
ASHLEY GOLD, TECHNOLOGY POLICY REPORTER, AXIOS: So, these companies are explaining that they have zero tolerance for discrimination and antisemitism. They don't want their brand to be anywhere near it, and they're going to suspend all their ads until they can be sure that their ads are not going to appear alongside such content on X.
So, it's basically this message of, we have no tolerance for this, and we won't risk having our brand be associated with this, until maybe this stops.
DEAN: Yeah. And are these boycotts likely to happen have an impact on X's bottom line?
GOLD: Absolutely. They will have an impact on X's bottom line. X very largely relies on revenue from advertising to stay afloat. They are trying to do subscription products, and other add-ons, that users pay for monthly to sort of buoy that. But so far, they have not had a lot of uptake on those projects, and it's been mostly advertising. So yes, I think this will hurt.
DEAN: Yeah. And X's CEO said on a post Friday, there is no place for antisemitism anywhere in the world. How does she square that though with Elon Musk? Because he did, right it there, in black and white, you are speaking truth, and really, you know, going along with these antisemitic conspiracy theories.
GOLD: Absolutely. She is constantly in a very difficult position, Linda Yaccarino, the CEO of X. She sort of his left to clean up his mess every time something like this happens, and it's sort of impossible to really, really square.
She says the right thing. She puts out a nice message that sounds good, but ultimately, the buck stops with Elon. So, there's only so much impact it has.
DEAN: And I'm curious, too, because obviously he's taken over. It's no longer Twitter. It's X.
Now, he has seeming -- he has condoned antisemitic conspiracy various. This used to be a place where a lot of people would go, businesses, as you're speaking about, journalists, that sort of thing.
What does this mean for the company, moving forward, if he's behaving like this?
GOLD: This is just part of the slow degradation of X, formerly known as Twitter, that we've seen since Musk came along as owner. The quality of the content has gotten worse. More hateful content is surfacing in peoples timelines. You see a lot of tweets of people you don't even follow. It's been a slow burn of the experience for users just getting worse and worse, and less relevant, and I think that's going to continue to pan out.
DEAN: Uh-huh. And earlier today on CNN, we had Congressman Jamie Raskin on, and he's the ranking member on House Oversight. And he called Musk's actions dangerous. He said Congress would be taking action. We're going to listen to that first.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): We'll be taking action with colleagues this week, to write to him, to ask him to renounce those comments, and to clean up his act.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
DEAN: And so, Ashley, we heard what the plan is. With other rules to see Congress played here, beyond that?
GOLD: So, Congress can write letters, like Congressman Raskin said, they can call in Musk and other X executives for a hearing, where they publicly lambasted for their inaction on antisemitism. But ultimately, if they want things to change, they have to pass laws, and for social media and Congress, it's proven very difficult to actually pass laws, despite how much rhetoric we hear about how the tech companies need to change their behavior.
The First Amendment also makes things difficult, when you try to sort of regulate content on the Internet. So, I'm not expecting a lot more, honestly, than some letters, some hearings, this is the cycle of how things happen.
DEAN: Yeah. And this is certainly been an issue that has vexed Congress. They've not been able, as you said, to do a lot on it.
All right. Ashley Gold, thanks so much. We appreciate it.
GOLD: Thank you.
DEAN: Hundreds of congregations have broken from the United Methodist Church due to a divide over LGBTQ issues. The north Georgia Methodist Conference accepted this affiliation decisions from 261 out of its 700 churches yesterday. And it's coming after the church strengthened its ban on partnered LGBTQ clergy, and same-sex marriage, back in 2019.
As of early August of 2023 this year, more than 6,000 congregations of just under 30,000 in the U.S. have been approved for just disaffiliation since 2019.
CNN's Rafael Romo is joining us now live from Atlanta.
Rafael, tell us more about this deep divide within the Methodist Church?
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Jessica.
Well, this deep divide has been going on for years, and it's not exclusive, we need to say, to the United Methodist Church. Several other Protestant denominations have gone through similar splits for the same reasons. What happened this weekend was that the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church met on Saturday to vote on whether to accept the decision of hundreds of its churches to leave the denomination.
And in the end, Jessica, the conference voted in favor of allowing 261 churches to leave the denomination, among the main points of contention are the role of LGBTQ clergy, and same-sex marriage. The official plans to break away, as you mentioned before, started in 2019, after the National United Methodist Church made a decision to allow those congregations to leave by December 31st of this year.
The 261 congregations who want to leave represent more than a third of the nearly 700 churches that are under the north Georgia conference of the UNC.
After the vote, but the leadership and the lay members of the denomination expressed deep sadness. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BISHOP ROBIN DEASE, NORTH GEORGIA CONFERENCE LEADER/UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: I realize how sad this time is, for so many, including myself. I just hate that those who are leaving us, will not have the opportunity to meet or be with. May God's peace be with you.
BOB DIXON, LAY MEMBER, NORTH GEORGIA CONFERENCE LEADER/UNITED METHODIST CHURCH: The ones that hurt the most are the ones in the crosshairs. People that are workers in the church are not necessarily trying to win an argument. These folks, they feel like they lost their identity. They lost their identity of the United Methodist Church, and it feels helpless.
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ROMO: In a statement published after the vote, the United Methodist Church said the following, in December, approximately 440 North Georgia conference churches will continue to work of fulfilling the mission of the United Methodist Church, in our communities and beyond.
The affiliation of the two and 61 count congregations will go into effect, Jessica, at the end of this month, an additional 193 congregations who used to belong to the UMC splits from the denomination back in May.
Now back to you.
DEAN: All right. Rafael Romo for us, thanks so much.
And coming up, former President Donald Trump is in Texas, campaigning near the U.S. Mexico border, as he escalates is anti-immigration rhetoric. We have a team there, and we'll talk to them. That's next.
DEAN: Former President Donald Trump is in Texas where he's giving a speech near the southern border. His visit comes as he's escalating his anti-immigrant rhetoric, and campaigns on the hard line immigration proposals.
CNN's Kristen Holmes is covering this for us.
Kristen, you're there, what can you tell us about Trump's campaign stop there near the border?
KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jessica. Well, the campaign stop came with an endorsement from Texas Governor Greg Abbott. We do believe it came together kind of last minute, this wasn't on his schedule originally, and this is a boon for the former president.
Abbott and Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are seen as close, but you have communicated, both of them have been involved in shipping migrants from their states up into the blue states, as part of their efforts to raise awareness to immigration. So it is a win for former President Donald Trump, in that sense.
However this also comes as we have learned so much more about Trump's proposal for a 2025 agenda, particularly when it comes to immigration. As you noted, his rhetoric has been ramped up, anti-immigrant, and we also learned about what he plans to do if you look winds in other term in office, and that includes mass deportation and detentions. His plan would essentially call for building detention camps, for migrants who are rounded up around the country to be held at until they are deported.
This is an extreme escalation from what we saw in 2016. That's something that he's clearly doubling down on. Even today, he mentioned the border, talking about how Biden has created a situation where we have won the most unsecure borders in the world.
This is something that they believe is going to help him win in a 2024 general election, against Joe Biden. And you just have to see how that plays out. But again, today, a win for Donald Trump with this endorsement, and coming at a time where we just really trying to piece together what it will look like if he wins in another term.
DEAN: That's right. And very, very important information, as you piece all that together.
Kristen Holmes, all right, thanks you so much, for us in Texas.
And still ahead as RSV cases spike in the U.S., thousands of vaccines are now going to be expedited for release.
CNN NEWSROOM continues after this break.
DEAN: Amid a sharp rise in reported antisemitic incidents all across the country, a Jewish World War II hero is using his story to educate young people and combat antisemitism. Hilbert Margol was one of the first Americans to uncover the atrocities of the Dachau concentration camp. And now, nearly 80 years later, he says he believes antisemitism is as bad as it's ever been in this country.
CNN's Gary Tuchman has the story.
GARY TUCHMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Hilbert Margol, who lives in Atlanta, is three months away from his 100th birthday. Just before his 21st birthday Army Private First Class Hilbert Margol, a Jewish soldier, was deployed to fight the Nazis in World War II.
HILBERT MARGOL, WORLD WAR II VETERAN: And when the Battle of the Bulge broke out, they rushed three infantry regiments as fast as they could get them over there.
TUCHMAN: The Battle of the Bulge was ending as Hilbert on the right, and his late identical twin brother Howard on the left arrived in occupied France. The two gunners in their 42nd Rainbow Infantry Division ended up in combat and headed across the border to Germany.
MARGOL: We couldn't be more than three yards away from howitzer, because we could get fire missions morning, noon or night.
TUCHMAN: On April 29th, 1945 the brothers Margol investigated a horrible order they smelled. After about 15 minutes walking through the woods, they saw an open train boxcar in the German city of Dachau.
What did you see in a boxcar?
MARGOL: Nothing but deceased bodies. We had a little brownie box camera that we had liberated a couple weeks earlier.