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More Foreign Nationals Expected to Cross Rafah Border today; Protestor Interrupts Biden at Fundraiser Amid Calls for a Ceasefire; American Aid Worker Out of Gaza, Into Egypt; Don Jr. to Testify for 2nd Day in Fraud Trial; Bobby Knight Dead at 83. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 02, 2023 - 06:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Glad you're with us. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York with Phil Mattingly.

And there's a lot of news to get to this morning. Here are five things to know for this Thursday, November 2.

At any moment, hundreds of Americans could cross the border out of Gaza and into Egypt one day after the Rafah crossing opened to let some foreign nationals leave.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And Israel striking Gaza's largest refugee camp for the second day in a row. President Biden now saying, quote, "We need a pause" in order to get the prisoners out of the war zone.

HARLOW: Overnight Senate Republicans going after one of their own, taking to the Senate floor and slamming Senator Tommy Tuberville as he continues to hold up those military appointments.

MATTINGLY: Also, Donald Trump Jr. returning to the stand today, followed by his brother, Eric, as the $250 million civil fraud trial in New York continues.

HARLOW: And a much-needed win for a community in mourning. The high school football team from Lewiston, Maine, beating their rivals, with a roster of celebrities cheering them on.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

And this is a live look at the Rafah border crossing in Egypt, where hundreds of Americans could be leaving Gaza today, according to this new deal with Hamas.

They have been trapped inside the war zone for weeks as Israel continues its unrelenting air and ground assault on Gaza.

You are looking at the devastation from a secondary airstrike in two days on Gaza's largest refugee camp. The IDF says it was targeting Hamas's command center there, but the United Nations Human Rights Office is now warning the high number of civilian casualties from the strikes on the densely-populated Jabalya camp could amount to a war crime.

MATTINGLY: On the ground, the Israeli military says Hamas's defensive lines are collapsing, and militants are retreating into central Gaza.

This is the latest video from the IDF of Israeli tanks and soldiers advancing, as bombs rain down.

President Biden is now saying he supports a humanitarian pause in the war to save hostages who are still in Gaza. Those hostages, of course, include Americans.

At a campaign fundraiser last night, a protester -- you can see some of it here -- interrupted the president, calling for a cease-fire. According to the reporters in the room, he responded, quote, "I think we need a pause. A pause means give time to get the prisoners out."

We have live coverage all morning. Priscilla Alvarez is live for us at the White House. But let's start with Rafael Romo in Tel Aviv.

Rafael, I want to start with the Rafah border crossing. There's the expectation with U.S. officials that more Americans will be getting out today. What's the latest in terms of people getting across that border?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Phil and Poppy. Good morning.

The expectation is that more Americans, indeed, and more foreigners in general will be able to pass through. A U.S. State Department spokesman confirmed Wednesday that an initial group of foreign nationals, including U.S. citizens, had departed Gaza and had made it into Egypt, although he declined to give specifics on the numbers of U.S. citizens who were able to -- to leave Gaza, citing operational security concerns.

He did say, though, that more Americans would be able to leave today and in the next days and that the State Department had communicated directly with American citizens in Gaza so that they would be ready to go.

There was also confirmation from President Biden himself. He wrote Wednesday on X that the U.S. had secured safe passage for wounded Palestinians and for foreign nationals to exit Gaza.

And we're expecting some American citizens to exit right away, with more departing over the next coming days.

How many Americans were stuck in Gaza, you may ask? Well, at a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing, Secretary of State Blinken said there were approximately 400 plus their families, about a thousand people in total.

He also said that there are about 5,000 other third-country nationals in Gaza who want to get out, as well -- Poppy, Phil.

HARLOW: Ther has been a second strike, Rafael, since yesterday morning, since we were on with you last, on that refugee camp by Israel. How are they explaining it? How are they defending it, given they said the first strike took out the Hamas target they were going after?

ROMO: Yes, that's right. So an Israel Defense Forces commander last night say that the problem here is what they've been facing all along.


The problem is that Hamas is embedded in civilian communities, building their command centers, their infrastructure behind schools, hospitals, and other civic centers.

And it is very difficult to be able to target the commanders and the operatives without any -- any casualties. They -- he said that they're trying their best not to go -- not to harm any civilians, so that they do not intend to -- to injure any civilians, but it is a reality that they're facing in the ground.

They also reiterated what they said a couple of weeks ago, that they had asked the civilian population to leave those combat zones in the North and go South.

But again, what we're hearing from relief workers and doctors in the North is that many of these people cannot leave. Many of them are sick, are being treated in hospitals. We are talking about families with young children. It is just impossible for them to get through.

And then again, there is really no safe place in Gaza at this point, Poppy and Phil.

HARLOW: Rafael Romo, thank you for the reporting.

MATTINGLY: Let's go now to Priscilla Alvarez at the White House. Priscilla, let's show that video from the moment at this fundraiser last night in Minnesota, when a protester, who identified herself as Rabbi Jessica Rosenberg, interrupted President Biden and called for a cease-fire. Watch.


RABBI JESSICA ROSENBERG, PROTESTOR: Mr. President? If you care about Jewish people, as a rabbi, I need you to call for a cease-fire right now.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Sit down! Sit down!


MATTINGLY: Now, what's interesting is the president, even though she was being shushed and told to leave, he did actually stand and answer a couple questions. The president said he understood the emotion. He called for a humanitarian pause. But Priscilla, he was careful not to say "cease-fire." When you look at what he said, what does he mean here?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, this moment really captured the delicate nature of the conflict and the heightened emotions that this White House is trying to navigate.

So the president did acknowledge the protestor's remarks about a ceasefire, saying, quote, "I think we need a pause. A pause means give time to get the prisoners out." That referring to the hostages held by Hamas.

So the president really extending what U.S. officials have already said, which is that they would like to see Israel engage in a humanitarian pause to get aid into Gaza and also to get these hostages out of Gaza.

But they have always been very, very careful about using the term cease-fire, saying cease-fire, and even implying at all that they are telling Israel what to do and how to conduct its military operations.

So what President Biden said last night was really an extension of what we have been hearing from U.S. officials, but again, it underscores how politically difficult this is for the president. That happening at a campaign fundraiser in Minneapolis.

And also the president reminding the crowd that this is a complicated conflict, that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and also noting that he is the guy that got aid into Gaza.

So making quite a few points there: one, that this is all very fast- developing and ongoing. But also, that he is the person to talk to these loaders and try to arrange for aid to get into Gaza and also work to get those hostages out of Gaza.

But again, Phil, all of this just underscoring again how complicated and difficult it is as this White House proceeds.

HARLOW: Priscilla Alvarez, thank you very much for the reporting.

MATTINGLY: Well, today an American medical volunteer is resting at a hotel hours after she was finally able to cross the border out of Gaza.

Seventy-one-year-old Ramona Okumura, who lives in Seattle, volunteered in Gaza for seven years, creating prosthetics for children in Gaza for the Palestine Children's Relief Fund.

She was in sporadic contact with her family, who was, like many others, waiting anxiously for the news. They got it, starting at 8:26 a.m. in Gaza. She texted her brother, Miles: "Just waiting for the border to open."

An hour later, "Egyptian border staff have arrived." Then, "Gate opened. We wait for a go sign. And, "In the holding area, waiting for our name to be called."

Two hours later, quote, "In Palestinian holding area. Called whole group in." Four hours after that, the message her family had been waiting for: "Across border on shuttle to Egyptian border."

Here's her last message, after entering Egypt on the road to Cairo: "Pray for the people of Gaza, who now don't have us as shields from harm."

Ramona's brother, Miles Okumura, joins us now.

Miles, we appreciate your time. I can't imagine what the last several weeks have been like. I want to start with with last I heard, she was in a hotel. She was resting. Do you know how she's feeling right now?

MILES OKUMURA, BROTHER OF AID WORKER WHO IS NOW IN EGYPT: I'm disappointed. I haven't been able to speak to her. She's been kind of quiet on the text message app, as well. So it's cause for some concern.

I'm worried about her spiritual condition because of the -- the arduous conditions of the last few weeks, which have been pretty hellacious and frightening for us to be listening to and reading her text messages describing what's going on. But, you know, we weren't there listening to the bombs drop and the missiles launch.

So I'm a bit worried about her -- her condition, and I'm looking forward to speaking to her, at least text messaging her, and seeing her back here in -- in the states.

MATTINGLY: To that point, I think there's a natural assumption that, once you cross the border, that everybody just exhales and everything is wonderful.

But your concern here, do you feel like this is going to have a long- term effect just because of what she's been through?

OKUMURA: I -- I'm concerned about that. I'm pretty confident about her wellbeing in the long run, because she's a -- she's a tough woman. I mean, she's been going there visiting Gaza for so many years. And I was baffled when she first started doing it.

And -- but she's -- she's gritty, and she's used to dealing and helping people who have been wounded, especially children injured in wartime. So she's a tough cookie.

And she puts up a good front, and she's a very spiritual woman. She's got a really firm base there.

And so in the long run, I'm confident she'll come through this well. But I'm just worried, because I'm feeling it. You know, I'm -- I'm, you know, 6,000 or 12,000 miles away and reading her text messages about bombs falling around and staying awake at night with the building shaking. So it's bothered me.

And I've changed my perspective on this world and on this conflict, and thinking about all the thousands of people that are being killed there by accident or on purpose. And she could easily have been one of them.

You know, every life is precious, and hers is, too. But she was always pointing out so -- so are the lives of the kids that are getting killed every day there.

MATTINGLY: Talk about the feeling, your personal feeling when you got the text that she was across the border, finally.

OKUMURA: Oh, I -- I had a broad smile on my face, and I really exhaled. Those precious words. You know, when she said we're on the move, I knew -- I had confidence that their group was not going to move towards the border unless they had gotten some very clear and believable messages from the State Department, as well as the powers that be.

So when she says she was on the move, that's when I started really feeling happy. And then, when I read the test message that she was across the border, into Egypt and on her way to Cairo, that -- I was really happy then. I mean, I was satisfied then, that I knew it was over in terms of the -- the ordeal of being trapped in Gaza.

MATTINGLY: I can't imagine the relief. We're extraordinarily grateful for you and your family. Miles Okumura, thank you very much.

OKUMURA: Thanks a lot. Thanks for having me on. Thanks for supporting us.

HARLOW: This just in, 20 ambulances have now arrived at the Rafah border crossing to pick up wounded Palestinians. We will keep you posted on all the developments.

Back here at home, Donald Trump Jr. expected to take the stand again today in the civil fraud trial against his family and their business. What he told prosecutors and what his brother, Eric, could say next.

MATTINGLY: And Republican senators erupting in anger at fellow Republican, Tommy Tuberville, for blocking 61 military appointments.


SEN. DAN SULLIVAN (R-AK): We're not done. And if you're a flag officer, one or two-star, three-star, four-star general, we've got your back. We're going to work this. We're going to work it. You deserve it. And our nation has to have it.




HARLOW: Welcome back. Donald Trump Jr. Will be back in a New York courtroom today for a second day of testimony. This is in the civil fraud trial against the family and the Trump Org.

The lawsuit accuses Don Jr. and his brother, Eric, of a scheme to inflate their father's net worth to gain benefits like better loan terms and insurance agreements.

Eric Trump could also take the stand today.

Kara Scannell following it all, live outside the courthouse. Good morning to you. What was key from Don Jr.? And what else do they want from him today?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Phil and Poppy.

Don Jr. is the first of the Trumps who will be testifying at the civil fraud trial. And he was the one that was taking the stand yesterday, the first one up out of the gate in this trial, where it is a high- stakes for the family business.

He will be back on the stand today, but he testified for about an hour and a half yesterday, where he answered the questions head on and even injected a little levity into the proceedings.


SCANNELL (voice-over): Donald Trump Jr. taking the stand, testifying in the $250 million civil fraud case brought against his family's company in New York.

The lawsuit accuses Trump Jr. and his brother, Eric, of knowingly inflating the Trump Organization's assets and net worth to secure better loan and insurance policy terms.

Under oath, Trump Jr. denied any involvement in the preparation of his father's financial statements, testifying, "The accountants worked on it. That's what we pay them for."

Further claiming his role was that of a, quote, "real-estate broker" and feigning ignorance to Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any familiarity with an acronym GAAP, G-A-A-P?

DONALD TRUMP JR., SON OF DONALD TRUMP: Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. How did you become familiar with that acronym?

TRUMP JR.: Probably in Accounting 101 at Wharton.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK. And what do they teach you about Generally Accepted Accounting Principles in Wharton?

TRUMP JR.: Well, I'm not an accountant, but that they are generally accepted.


TRUMP JR.: That's pretty much what I remember from Accounting 101. So --

SCANNELL (voice-over): After winning the 2016 presidential election, the former president handed the reigns of the company over to his two eldest sons.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: My two sons, who are right here, Don and Eric, are going to be running the company.

SCANNELL (voice-over): Trump Jr. was pressed by the assistant attorney general about his alleged involvement in the 2017 financial statement, the first after his father took office, asking him if he gave the accountants the $246 million valuation attached to the company's licensing deals.


Trump Jr. says he may have discussed the deals with accountants but had no prior knowledge to those values being used in the financial statements, further testifying that his company's accountants had "an incredibly intimate knowledge, and I relied on them."

Despite Judge Engoron already finding Trump and his two sons liable for fraud, Trump Jr. was jovial during his 90-minute testimony, a departure from his previous comments, calling the trial a sham and a kangaroo court.

At one point, even joking with the judge about the pace of his answers, saying, quote, "I apologize, your honor. I moved to Florida, but I've kept the New York pace."

Trump Jr. was even seen hovering over the court sketch artist to see how he was illustrated before leaving court for the afternoon break.


SCANNELL: Now, Donald Trump [SIC] will be back on the stand this morning when court resumes around 10 a.m. His lawyers are not going to question him, so next up will be his brother Eric Trump. He was involved in the valuation of a number of golf courses, and he's expected to be on the stand for several hours -- Phil, Poppy.

HARLOW: A little bit of levity is right in that deposition tape. Kara Scannell, thank you very much.

MATTINGLY: Well, tributes are pouring in this morning for the General. We're remembering Hall of Fame college basketball coach Bobby Knight, his winning legacy, and his signature very short fuse.

HARLOW: Live pictures this morning from the Rafah crossing. One Egyptian official saying 7,000 foreign nationals could be released from Gaza into Egypt, potentially. Standby for new developments.



MATTINGLY: Welcome back. For the first time in franchise history, the Texas Rangers are World Series champions. The Rangers eliminated the Diamondbacks with a 5-0 win in game five last night to claim the best of 7 series.

Shortstop Corey Seager, who was an absolute monster all series, breaking up a no-hitter for Texas with a single in the seventh and would eventually score the night's first run.

Texas added four more runs in the 9th. Seager was named the series MVP.

The Rangers managed to win 11 straight games away from home in this post season. That's the longest road winning streak in MLB post season history.

Next up, a parade in Arlington, Texas, tomorrow for the World Series champs.

HARLOW: Wait until you see this. It will warm your heart.

High school football returning to Lewiston, Maine, for last time -- last night for the first time since the mass shootings that claimed the lives of 18 people.

It's the biggest game of the year. It's known as Battle of the Bridge between Lewiston High School and Edward Little High School. The town came together, of course, to honor their lost loved ones, as well as the first responders who risked their lives to find the gunman.


JAMES TAYLOR, MUSICIAN (singing): Oh, say can you see, by the dawn's early night. What so proudly --


HARLOW: That, of course, is the legendary James Taylor kicking off the game with his rendition of the national anthem. The team got some extra encouragement from the likes of Will Ferrell, Robert Kraft, and Rob Gronkowski.


WILL FERRELL, ACTOR/COMEDIAN: Today's the day. Showdown. Lewiston vs. Edward Little. Everyone is going to be watching. Everyone is going to be talking about it. So let's bring it on.

ROB GRONKOWSKI, FOUR-TIME SUPER BOWL CHAMPION: I have been thinking about everyone in Lewiston, Maine. And I'm sending my love. And I just want to say you guys are amazing, sticking together to stay strong through these tough times.

ROBERT KRAFT, OWNER, NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS: For all who are attending to the game tonight, we applaud you for supporting one another. And for all those playing in the game tonight, you already are champions.


HARLOW: Lewiston went on to beat Edward little, 34-18.

President Biden and the first lady will travel to Lewiston on Friday to pay their respects to all of those who tragically were killed. MATTINGLY: Well, tributes are pouring in this morning for the General.

Hall of Fame college basketball head coach and noted Ohio State University graduate Bobby Knight has died at the age of 83.

Knight won three national titles, 11 Big Ten conference titles and 662 games during his 29 seasons at Indiana, among many other achievements.

But his drive for winning was attached to a temper. He had little patience at times for players, referees, reporters, pretty much anyone who was standing in front of him.

CNN's Andy Scholes looks back at Knight's life and legacy.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Looky here. Bobby Knight just threw his chair clear across the free-throw lane.

SCHOLES (voice-over): Robert Montgomery Knight, nicknamed the General, was one of basketball's biggest and most polarizing personalities. A strict, no-nonsense coach on the court, Bob Knight didn't mince words off the court either.

BOBBY KNIGHT, HALL OF FAMER BASKETBALL COACH: I'll handle this the way I want to handle it, now that I'm here. You (EXPLETIVE DELETED) it up to begin with. Now, just sit there or leave. I don't give a (EXPLETIVE DELETED) what you do.

Now, back to the game.

SCHOLES (voice-over): After graduating from Ohio State University, Knight enlisted in the Army to help lead their basketball program. He was the Black Knights head coach for six seasons before accepting a job to coach at Indiana in 1971.

Under the General's leadership, the Hoosiers won three national championships, including the undefeated 1976 season, which remains the last men's college basketball team to not lose a game all season.

Knight also led the USA to a gold medal, coaching Michael Jordan and the rest of the men's basketball team at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles.

After 29 years, Knight's behavior on and off the court strained his relationship with the administration at Indiana University. In May of 2000, Knight was placed on a zero-tolerance policy after CNN aired a video of a practice, three years earlier, where it appeared Knight placed his hand on the neck of a player named Neil Reed.

But months later, Knight had an altercation with a freshman student on campus.

KENT HARVEY, FORMER INDIANA UNIVERSITY STUDENT: He grabbed my arm, and he kind of got in my face and just said a couple comments, like -- like I don't know. It was pretty wild.

KNIGHT: I would have to be an absolute moron, an absolute moron, with the things that have been laid down on me, to grab a kid in public.