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CNN This Morning

Now: First Polls Open in Virginia and Parts of Kentucky; Trump Rips Judge, NY AG During Civil Fraud Testimony; Netanyahu: Israel Will Have "Overall Security Responsibility" for Gaza After Hamas War Ends. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 07, 2023 - 06:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. Glad you're with us.

It is election day. There's a lot of news to get to.

Let's start with five things to know for this Tuesday, November 7th. It is 6:00 here on the East Coast.

Polls are now open in Virginia and parts of Kentucky. Key races on the ballot, two governorships and abortion access measures, and control of Virginia state legislature.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And Donald Trump brings his campaign bombast to the witness stand in the New York civil fraud trial. But there was some substance, the former president acknowledged mistakes in some of his financial statements.

And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says his country needs to oversee security in the Gaza Strip for, quote, an indefinitely period of time after the ongoing war. This comes as the Hamas- controlled health ministry says more than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza.

HARLOW: A Jewish a man is dead this morning after he suffered a head injury in dueling pro-Israel, pro-Palestinian demonstrations in southern California. The medical examiner ruling this a homicide.

MATTINGLY: And new this morning, WeWork has filed for bankruptcy after years of struggling. The co-working startup was once valued at $47 billion.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.


HARLOW: Well, it's Election Day in America. Glad you're with us.

We're about to get a crucial preview of where voters stand on critical issues ahead of the 2024 election. Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, a Democrat, is fighting for reelection in a red state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump in 2020. In Mississippi, Republican Governor Tate Reeves facing a tougher than

expected challenge from Elvis Presley's cousin.

MATTINGLY: In Ohio, abortion is on the ballot, voters will decide if abortion access becomes a right under the state constitution.

And in Virginia, the legislature is up for grabs. If Republicans flip the state Senate, and hold on to the House, they would have full control of the state government as the governor, Glenn Youngkin, pushes for a 15-week abortion ban.

CNN's Jessica Dean is live for us in Richmond, Virginia.

Jessica, abortion has been a dominant issue in this off-year election. What are you watching for today as the results come in?


Often when we're covering politics, we say we don't have a crystal ball. We have to wait until voters go to the polls and then we will know. Well, today, we still don't have a crystal ball unfortunately, but we do -- we're going to have some data points after this election. And you maybe staying at home and you don't live in Virginia and you say, well, why do we really care what happens in the Virginia legislature?

Well, these are valuable data points because so often, what happens in the Virginia legislature in these off-year elections correlates with what happens in the next year in these federal elections.

So, just to give you a couple of examples. Back in 2019, Democrats flipped both the House and the Senate here in Virginia, and then, of course in 2020, Joe Biden won nationally. He also won Virginia by 10 points.

Then in 2021, Republicans -- they took back the House here in Virginia. In 2022, Republicans took back the House of Representatives in Congress in Washington, D.C.

So that is why we like to keep our eye on Virginia to kind of see how things go here looking ahead to the next year. And, Phil, you mentioned the issue of abortion, of course, last year in the midterms that drove so much of what we saw that was such a key issue. And so, the question remains, how key of an issue is that for voters?

Virginia is the only state in the South that has not pushed forward further restrictions on abortion since Roe versus Wade was overturned in 2022. The state's governor, Glenn Youngkin, had pushed for a 15- week ban. Currently, it sits at about 26 weeks here in Virginia, and that was stopped by the Democrats in the Senate.

So, currently, just to give everyone the state of play, Democrats hold the state Senate here. Republicans hold the House. Of course, Republicans want to flip the Senate and keep the House and get full control over all of the state government. And it would really be a stamp of approval for Governor Glenn Youngkin and his brand of politics, which is conservative, and not full MAGA.

And that is what a lot of people in the country are looking to. Can he get that done? Of course, Democrats certainly hoping to vote on the Senate and even flip the House. That's what they're hoping to do today -- Phil and Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Jessica Dean, thanks so much for the reporting.

MATTINGLY: And joining us now, CNN senior political analyst, John Avlon.


All right, John Avlon --



MATTINGLY: D.C. folks, I'm not one of them anymore so I can, you know --


HARLOW: I don't think -- I don't think you get to shed that so quickly.

AVLON: Yeah, exactly.

MATTINGLY: They are laser-focused on Virginia, and the state legislature and what happens there. And they will certainly extrapolate based on tonight's results about any number of things and what it means for 2024.

What are you watching for today? Because there's a lot more than just the Virginia legislature.

AVLON: There's a lot more than Virginia, just because it's the beltway backyard, I understand it's getting a lot of attention. Look, I'm paying attention to Ohio, you know, fellow Buckeye State, a thing happening there.

Look, two referendums just coming up for the ballot initiatives, one, legalizing marijuana, and more on a bid to preserve abortion rights in the state constitution. This is a huge deal. It's a rebuke in many ways to Dobbs.

We've seen seven states put forward attempts to restrict abortion in the wake of Dobbs, and then reject it, even in deep red states. So, there's a lot of eyes on this. Republicans really trying to say this goes too far. Democrats focusing on turnout, and really saying the people should determine what's in the state constitution. So, Ohio, big race today.

HARLOW: In Ohio, it's interesting, "The Times" says the abortion issue defines it or you can define in your campaign. That's what Youngkin is trying to do in Virginia, but he's trying to sort of thread the needle.

Not 26 weeks, 15. Not 6, like Florida, the question is, what are voters going to say? Because the polling does show a majority of Americans are not in line with a 15-week ban.

AVLON: Look, I mean, look, originally, Roe was about preserving first trimester, lest we forget. Youngkin is trying to thread the needle, trying to middle ground on abortion, what Nikki Haley has talked about on the debate stage. But most Republicans have been trying to go pretty draconian in terms of strong restrictions, a la Ron DeSantis's six-week restriction.

So, this is -- this is where there's a really fundamental fight going on in the country. There is probably a middle ground to be found. You know I can believe that. What's interesting is that Republicans in this race, and you're seeing it in Glenn Youngkin are trying to say, in Ohio, trying to say, the Democrats position is what really extreme. Not us. So, it's blaming the other guys.

HARLOW: Do Democrats have a problem, those Democratic lawmakers who will not say what the limit is because there are some?

AVLON: Yeah, there should be. There are reasonable restrictions for the vast majority of Americans.

HARLOW: Leave them to --


AVLON: And, by the way, you mean the Ohio bill says, open the door to restrictions. They're reasonable restrictions. And this sort of demonization and creating this extreme optionality to fearmonger, frankly, doesn't really fit.

But it's not just Ohio, I will say. I know time is tight, but we've got big governor's races in Kentucky and Mississippi that I wouldn't sleep on.

You know, Kentucky, you know, bucks the national trend, deep red state, voted for Donald Trump, but a Democrat incumbent governor, fighting against Daniel Cameron, the attorney general of the state who would not only be potentially the first Black governor in Kentucky's history but the first Black governor who is a Republican in the nation's history.

So this is a very high stakes fight. And Andy Beshear, the incumbent, is trying to preserve this sort of limited tradition of red state Democrats, rural Democrats, something they need to tap into a lot more going forward.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, in a moment of nationalization of every single race, Beshear's ability to keep that as a local, state-based race, it will determine the result, but it's also been fascinating to watch.

John Avlon, we appreciate you. Thank you.

AVLON: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: So, a combative scene, that's an understatement, in court yesterday, as Trump testified for nearly four hours. We've got the key takeaways for you this morning.

MATTINGLY: And Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rang in on who should control Gaza one month after the war against Hamas began.

Stay with us.




JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": Speaking of Trump, today he testified in his New York civil fraud trial and he blew up on the witness stand, arguing with the judge and attacking the New York attorney general. Yeah, Trump spent the entire day in court arguing and calling people names, so it's basic just another Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, for him, for him.


MATTINGLY: That was, of course, Jimmy Fallon talking about Donald Trump's bombastic testimony Monday, in his high stakes civil fraud trial.

It was tense, so tense, Judge Arthur Engoron had to tell Trump's lawyer to, quote, control your client, probably not the first.

At times, it seemed like Trump was bringing his campaign to the courtroom as he used his time on the stand to attack both the judge and the New York Attorney General who brought the case. The judge even threatened to have Trump removed.

CNN's Kara Scannell joins us now.

All right. Kara, to the best of your ability break down all four hours and exactly what it means going forward. What did you see yesterday in the courtroom?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Phil, it was really remarkable seeing the former president on the stand defending his business reputation, and in typical Trump fashion, he answered some questions directly. He went on tangents but he became most heated when he was asked if he was a fraud, and that is when he brought politics into the courtroom.


SCANNELL (voice-over): Donald Trump publicly blasting a New York judge and the state's attorney general capping off a marathon day of testimony at the civil fraud trial centered around his sprawling global business empire.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: This is a case that should have never been brought. It's a case that should be dismissed immediately. The fraud was on behalf of the court. The court was the fraudster in this case.

SCANNELL: Trump answered questions under oath for just under four hours, repeatedly sparring with Judge Arthur Engoron on the stand, testifying he ruled against me and he said I was a fraud before he knew anything about me.

And at one point, leaning into the microphone and saying this is a very unfair trial, very, very, and I hope the public is watching.

The judge held firm, threatening to end his testimony, speaking directly to Trump's attorney, Chris Kise.

Mr. Kise, that was a simple yes-or-no question. We got a speech. I beseech you to control him if you can. If you can't, I will. I will excuse him and draw everyone negative inference that I can.

Do you understand that?

MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: The second they started to talk about his finances, his net worth, and they put, you know, they put him into a corner, that the only thing he knows how to do is to lash out. And that's exactly what he did. He knows he lost this matter already. It's just a matter of how much.

SCANNELL: Despite Trump's combative and long winded speeches, he did admit to some crucial facts. He testified he did look over the financial statements and acknowledge some property values on them were incorrect, agreeing that his triplex apartment at Trump Tower was overvalued one year. But others were undervalued, including Mar-a- Lago.

Engoron cited a Florida tax assessment valuing Mar-a-Lago at just $18 million. Trump responded it's much more valuable, I think between a billion and billion five.


Still, Trump said the statements were not important and had worthless clauses, warning bankers not to rely on them. He added, it was the responsibility of internal and external accountants to put together the statements, but he did acknowledge that the banks reviewed them.

Trump's attorney argues New York Attorney General Letitia James has no case.

ALINA HABBA, TRUMP ATTORNEY: When we get a chance to speak, the truth is not pretty for them. It's honest, it's fair. They're a great company that worth a lot more than the statements of financial conditions. And it's not good for her politics, and great for his. And that's the truth, the truth hurts.

SCANNELL: James responding to those claims directly.

LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: They continue to persistently engage in fraud. The numbers don't lie. I will not be bullied. I will not be harassed.


SCANNELL (on camera): There's no court today for Election Day. Tomorrow, Ivanka Trump will be on the stand. Once her testimony is completed, the New York attorney general will rest their case. Trump's lawyer is expected to begin their defense on Monday. They say their case could go into mid-December -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: All right. Kara Scannell, thank you.

HARLOW: And joining us now, former federal prosecutor Kristy Greenberg, who was a courtroom yesterday, and our legal analyst Joey Jackson here.

So, you went. You thought it was important to be there. You heard a lot. We only get a transcript of it.

What do you think Trump did for this case yesterday?

KRISTY GREENBERG, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: Well, I mean, he did a lot of the standard, deny, deny, deny. I'm -- he denied that there were any real major inaccuracies. He said some were high. Some were low in valuations, but overall, you know, this is really not inaccurate, if anything he was worth more than the net worth that was reflected on his statements.

And he said, regardless, I -- he denied that the statements really meant anything because he said the bankers and insurance companies didn't really rely on them, which isn't really what those disclaimers say at all. The disclaimers say the accountants didn't do a full audit. They didn't review everything and actually the responsibility is on the Trump organization.

And the last thing that he did was really seek to blame the CFO, the controller, you know, really his outside accountants, anybody that didn't have the last name Trump for any inaccuracies there were in the statements.

MATTINGLY: Joey, it's striking when you listen to Kara's piece, Trump's lawyer said wait until you hear our side of this, wait until you hear our side.

His lawyers didn't cross examine the former president. I think there's some expectation they will cross examine Ivanka Trump when she testifies on Wednesday. What is their side on this?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So, a couple of things. First of all, in terms of Trump's testimony, he's a disrupter, we know that, but, you know, there's a difference between campaigning and actually testifying, and we have to remember there's no jury here, and so the narrative, switching to your question, is going to be interesting. What is that narrative? If you have a jury trial, Poppy and Phil, the

narrative, it's a witch hunt. Everyone is out to get me. This is unfair. It's incredibly ridiculous.

They mentioned in her campaign, that is the attorney general, that she was going to get me, and here we are. That may connect with a jury. Guess what? There's no jury to be had here. You're playing with a judge who's making a factual determination.

And so, what's the narrative that they have here? If the narrative was, look, we run a company. It's a major company. We have properties everywhere, we do our best, and sometimes when you act in good faith, there are mistakes that are made.

These not -- these are not mistakes that are fraudulent. They're mistakes that anybody could make because, you know, perfection alludes us all. But I don't think we're going to have that narrative. I think we'll have the narrative that we have been having that the judge has rejected.

And that is that, look, there is subjectivity to an extent. There is subjectivity as it relates to branding, as it relates to properties. But is it 30,000, right, in terms of the square footage or is it 11,000? Are the units rent controlled such that you're limited by charging them for rent controlled rent or is it fair market?

There's a distinction. Are the units constructed such that you can charge for them and build them in or are they not constructed? So, what is of interest to me, Poppy, Phil, Kristy, is whether or not, right, what's the narrative going to be? Is it going to be the good faith narrative? Is it going to be, we're subjective, we did the best we can, et cetera, et cetera, and I just don't think he's disciplined enough.

The other, the last and final point, is that I don't think the president takes anybody's counsel. I think he really tells his lawyers what to do, and the reason I say that is because look at all of his lawyers that are in trouble, right? They're in trouble because they have decided to follow his direction as opposed to the client following your direction, and that's problematic.

HARLOW: Do you think there were some doors left open on appeal here that could be helpful for Trump's defense if he doesn't prevail in this case?

GREENBERG: Look, they were laying the record for an appeal with a lot of these defenses. Nobody -- these weren't material misstatements. Nobody relied on the misstatements. That's one of their main defenses.

Again, I think, legally they're not on solid ground there. Again, this idea of good faith, we acted in good faith. That will be something else that they raise on appeal. The problem is, as you said, a lot of these examples are egregious.

This isn't a matter of, well, there's some wiggle room here.


Like if you -- if anybody were to go in and seek a loan from their bank and say, well, my house or my apartment is worth -- is three times the size of what it is, and 400 percent valued higher than what it is, like, that's fraud. That's not, oh, we got some of the accounting principles wrong. That's just plain fraud, and so, I don't think he really is going to have much room to succeed on appeal.

HARLOW: I will say, the bank sends, we all know this, someone to your house for an appraisal. So there is onus on the banks, too, which is one of the core arguments here, no?

GREENBERG: So, he says the banks do their own due diligence, and that's true. However, at the end of the day, that doesn't absolve you from any liability for making knowingly false statements on the statements you're making to the bank.

HARLOW: Fair enough.

Thank you, Kristy. Thank you, Joey.

MATTINGLY: Well, new overnight, Israeli forces claim to have taken control of a Hamas military stronghold in northern Gaza.

HARLOW: Also, a man dies after Palestinian and Israeli demonstrations in California, and his death this morning ruled a homicide. Those details, ahead.



HARLOW: Take a look. This is new video just into CNN, and it shows explosions near the Al Jazeera offices in Gaza City. This is during a live broadcast. Watch.


See the proximity there. And this comes as the IDF claims overnight, it took control of a Hamas military stronghold in northern Gaza.

MATTINGLY: Today marks the one month anniversary since Hamas militants attacked Israel, taking 1,400 people, taking 240 hostages. Since October 7th, 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza. That's according to the Hamas controlled Palestinian ministry of health in Ramallah, and the head of the U.N. warns that Gaza is, quote, becoming a graveyard for children.

In a new interview with ABC, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked who should control Gaza after the war is over. Here's what he said.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I think Israel will for an indefinite period have the overall security responsibility because we've seen what happens when we don't have it.


MATTINGLY: CNN's Jim Sciutto joins us live from Tel Aviv.

Jim, the U.S. President Biden have been very clear. They believe occupation at the end of the war would be a mistake. What does indefinite mean in terms of time line?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: We don't know. I mean, that's one of the many unanswered questions, and it's not clear exactly how they would maintain security. Is that an Israeli force on the ground inside Gaza in numbers, for what length of time you've had other ideas floated? Secretary Blinken and others have at least floated the idea of an international presence over time. But even that has not been defined by who would take part in what way and for what length of time.

And that is one of the many unanswered questions right now, and the more immediate ones being things that folks inside this country and outside this country are currently negotiating the possibility of a pause, what is a pause, how long does it last? Does it mean an end to all Israeli military operations during the pause or just airstrikes?

There's a clear difference on that, and there's also a difference on what is required before any pause. You've heard the Israeli prime minister talk about the release of all hostages prior, and that's just not something that is seen as a realistic possibility in the near term. There have been discussions of releasing women and children, but all hostages, if that's what's necessary to deliver on any sort of pause in military action that, again, it's another issue where there remains a very wide gap between the players here in Israel and outside the country.

MATTINGLY: It's a great point. I think that's what David Muir was trying to get into this interview with Netanyahu last night, Jim. Let's play that part where David keeps asking, well, about what about a ceasefire or a pause? Here it is.



NETANYAHU: Well, there will be ceasefire, general ceasefire in Gaza without the release of our hostages. As far as tactical little pauses, an hour here, an hour there, we've had them before. I suppose, we'll check the circumstances in order to enable the goods, humanitarian goods to come in or hostages, individual hostages to leave. But I don't think there's going to be a general ceasefire.


HARLOW: He said, Jim, unless, you know, it's to let all of those hostages out.

SCIUTTO: Listen, there's just such a wide chasm right now, so it shows why progress has been so slow. But Blinken came here this weekend. He came from Israel, he went to Oman, he went to turkey looking to get progress on at least some hostages being released and while there have been some hopeful comments in recent days and weeks, we just haven't seen that happen, except for the very small number that we saw early on in this.

And I'll tell you, Poppy and Phil as you noted coming into this. It's one month to the day since the October 7th attacks. The feeling inside this country is just very different from what you might encounter outside this country.

There was another memorial today here in downtown Tel Aviv. When I speak to Israelis, while there is enormous criticism outside the country of the conduct of the military operations there and the number of civilian casualties, and listen, there are people who are certainly sympathetic to that. But they felt deeply attacked on October 7th in a way that requires from their perspective military operations that we just haven't seen before.

And just one more measure because I spent a good deal of the last couple of weeks on the northern border -- after military action is finished in Gaza, you have many Israeli soldiers, members of the public, officials who say, well, the next step is going to be military action in southern Lebanon against Hezbollah. So one month out from the October 7th attacks, you have a great deal of resolve here about what's necessary to make Israel safe, and a great difference between what is acceptable inside this country, and outside this country, even with some of Israel's close allies. That shows the difficulty of progress going forward.

HARLOW: It's a really great point, Jim, because prior to a month ago, this was a nation divided politically, right?