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CNN This Morning

Now, Polls Open in Virginia, Ohio and Kentucky; Trump Rips Judge, New York A.G. During Civil Fraud Testimony; Now, Large Smoke Plume Over Gaza. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired November 07, 2023 - 07:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: What happens on Election Day could say much about how voters will see key issues next year.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Abortion and guns, those are two big things. I don't think they're going in the way that I believe in.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have never been this torn before, this whole political atmosphere that we have right now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Under oath and off the rails.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: the judge said to Trump's attorney, if you can't rein him in, I will.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Adding this is not a political rally.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I think it went very well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Prime Minister Netanyahu saying Israel will indefinitely have the overall security responsibility for Gaza when the war is over.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Because we have seen what happens when we don't have it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There are concerns as to what happens once this war ends, whether that's in a few days, weeks or months.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning and welcome. Right now, polls are open in Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio on a consequential off-year Election Day. We're about to find out where voters stand ahead of 2024. Abortion has been a dominant issue.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We are watching key races for governor in Kentucky, where a Democrat is fighting for re-election in that deep red state that voted overwhelmingly for Trump, and in Mississippi, where the Republican incumbent is facing a tougher than expected challenge from Elvis' cousin.

Voters in Ohio will decide if abortion becomes a right in the state's Constitution, and Virginia's state legislature up for grabs. Republicans seeking full control as Governor Glenn Youngkin pushes to restrict abortions after 15 weeks of pregnancy. We heard from him moments ago at a polling site.


GOV. GLENN YOUNGKIN (R-VA): We're delivering, and I think results matter. And so now it's time to put it in the hands of the voters to ask them to send a team to Richmond that can work with me and not against me.

I think we can have a fantastic next two years if we can hold our House, flip our Senate.


MATTINGLY: So, let's take a closer look at some of the races and some of the issues at stake. Now, you're looking at this right now. That's 2020. A lot has happened since then, no question about it. But this is a good home base as we look towards what is going to happen today.

And we're going to start right here, with the state of Virginia. Joe Biden back in 2020 winning this race by more than ten points. It's the largest margin of victory for a Democrat since 1944. And yet when you move to 2021 in the governor's race, Glenn Youngkin ending up upsetting Terry McAuliffe.

This is why this day is so important, whether or not Republicans are actually able to secure not just the governor's mansion but also the state Senate and the state House. That is up for grabs.

What else is a big issue here? Abortion. Youngkin has tried to flip the script a little bit after a number of Democratic wins of abortion rights advocates wins throughout the country. He has tried to embrace the issue of a 15-week abortion ban, trying to thread the needle a little bit and go on offense on the issue. This will certainly be a test of that.

Obviously, what happens in the suburbs here, which has been a strong point for Democrats year after year after year in the state of Virginia will be something that everybody is watching.

Now, you want to switch over to the governor's races right now. You have two, and they're both in red states, two states that Joe Biden lost and lost handily in Kentucky and Mississippi. Why are we watching these deep red states? Well, right now, when you look at the state of Kentucky, it has a Democratic governor. You see there are no results in here. This will start to fill in.

Andy Beshear actually has a pretty high favorability rating for a Democrat in the state, despite where Joe Biden's approval sits, which is very, very low. Daniel Cameron, considered a rising star in the Republican Party. Whether Beshear is able to hang on, he's right now favored a little bit, that will be an open question.

Mississippi, as Poppy noted, it is still considered a lean Republican race. Elvis' second cousin is involved in the race. But Democrats right now saying if turnout goes their way, particularly in the African-American community, perhaps there's a chance of an upset.

The last thing we are looking at, if you go back to 2020 in the presidential race, is the state of Ohio. It is a red state. There is no question about that. But this could be yet another example of red state after red state after red state in the wake of the Dobbs decision and the Supreme Court voting with abortion rights advocates. That will be on the ballot. It will be another opportunity, another key issue we'll be watching throughout the course of the day. Poppy?

HARLOW: All right. So, let's bring in CNN Political Analyst and Senior Political Correspondent for The New York Times Maggie Haberman. Also joining us, CNN Political Commentator, former Special Adviser to President Obama Van Jones.

Welcome, guys, good to have you, Election Day in America.

Maggie, I want to start with Virginia and Glenn Youngkin, hoping that, obviously, they're going to take it all, and take the legislature, but really pinning so much on 15 weeks, trying to thread the needle on the abortion topic. What are you looking for out of Virginia on that?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, what I'm looking for is what happens with the state legislature. I'm looking for whether they are able to flip it at the Senate level, how many seats they get and does Youngkin use that not just on the 15-week ban, which is obviously less restrictive than the 6-week ban we've seen in some states, like Florida and Iowa, but does that fulfill the fantasy that a number of Republican donors have that Youngkin can become some kind of a late stage national candidate in the presidential race.


So, that is really what I'm watching there is the body language out of that. If not, Youngkin is setting himself up, I think, for a pretty good position in 2028, when, presumably, there would not be what is the closest thing to two front runners running against each other.

MATTINGLY: How realistic is the fantasy?


MATTINGLY: In a candid, non-donor recitation of what's actually happening right now?

HABERMAN: I am very skeptical of late stage candidacies on whom -- and I'm sure Van has thoughts on this too, on whom donors pin their hopes. We have seen it not work any number of times. Either the person doesn't run or they do run and it turns out you actually need more than about eight weeks in a presidential race to get your sea legs. And Youngkin has won one race. He's term limited in Virginia. He can't run again. There are a number of Republicans who would like to see this happen.

If you're Glenn Youngkin and you're looking at Donald Trump's lead and you're looking at whether Ron DeSantis can get some traction after Kim Reynolds, the Iowa governor, endorsed him. I think you don't necessarily make the calculation that diving in head first is the best choice, but we'll see.

HARLOW: And you're young, you can wait.

HABERMAN: And you're wealthy, and you can wait.

HARLOW: Yes, good point.

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I mean, it's somewhere between a fantasy and a fairy tale. I mean, it's not going to happen. But what could happen is a nightmare for women. When you have a one party GOP control these days, no matter how moderate Youngkin appears, once you have one party control in these states, they lurch way right on everything.

And so right now, in Virginia, people will have to make a decision. They say 15 weeks, fine, but on every other issue, it's going to get worse and worse, more and more conservative. And so Youngkin is a smart guy, he's not going to jump into this thing. Trump is a runaway train. That's fantasy. It's a fairy tale, but the nightmare is for women in that state.

HARLOW: What about Andy Beshear, popular, very popular, Democratic governor in a red state? Can he hang on?

JONES: He might be able to maybe because you got a black guy running for governor that all the black people are mad at. Because you've got Cameron, who is on the wrong side of every police reform issues, on the wrong side of a black woman who was killed in her bed by police, he's never done anything about any of those type of issues. And so you have a doubly motivated African-American community. They really like one candidate and they don't really like Cameron.

MATTINGLY: And watching walk the line on teachers has been fascinating, particularly in that state.

Maggie, what is interesting about today, particularly in the wake of the last two days is there's a chance that Democrats come out of this maybe even flipping a chamber in Virginia, winning on abortion in Ohio, holding on to a Democratic governorship in a red state in Kentucky, and saying this is just more evidence that despite what the top line says about Joe Biden, we're doing great. We're winning specials. Winning in off-years, we should be fine.

HABERMAN: That is what Democrats are looking for. There's no question. And to your point, the issue of abortion has had Republicans on the defensive for a year, a year-and-a-half. And the expectation is that at least in some places, this is going to be yet another issue on which Democrats fare well. It's a big issue in Kentucky. It's one of the issues in which Andy Beshear has repeatedly talked about Cameron as extreme. Whether that is going to be enough for Biden to reassemble his coalition next year I think is an open question. We are a year out. If you talk to everybody either around Biden or in the Democratic Party, they will all privately tell you that all of the polls that they are all dismissing is not real, actually are directionally accurate. But that does not mean they are going to be accurate in 12 months.

A lot can happen. Abortion is going to be a big issue for Democrats heading into next year. Concerns about democracy and the stability of it are going to be a big issue for next year. And then the question becomes what turnout is and whether voters are motivated.

MATTINGLY: Yes. And it's why campaigns have money and operate. It will be interesting to see, fascinating day ahead. Guys, stay with us. Maggie Haberman and Van Jones, we'll be back to you shortly.

And ahead, Donald Trump's contentious testimony in court, what did he reveal about his financial disclosures, did he help or hurt his actual case?

HARLOW: Also a Palestinian and Israeli demonstration in California turns deadly. A Jewish man suffering a head injury, his death ruled a homicide. Those details, ahead.




TRUMP: I think it went very well. I think you were there and you listened and you see what a scam this is. This is a case that should have never been brought. It's a case that should be dismissed immediately. The fraudster is on the end of court. The court was the fraudster in this case.


HARLOW: That was Donald Trump after testifying in his civil fraud case against him and his business right here in New York during about hour fours of testimony. Trump clashed with the judge, Arthur Engoron, who told Trump's lawyers to, quote, control your client.

The case brought by New York's Attorney General Letitia James is seeking $250 million in damages and trying to bar the former president from doing business at all in the state of New York, something that could spell the end of his business empire.

Elie Honig with us with a lot more. A big takeaway outside of the bluster, the big takeaway legally yesterday.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Let's cut through the noise because there were some really important legal, substantive developments. For me, the first one had to go with the valuation. That's what this case is all about, the Trump Organization's alleged overvaluations of their properties. And the question I had is, is Donald Trump going to sign on to those or is he going to try to disavow them? Well, he gave us a definitive answer. He not only is signing on to these, he's upping the ante.

Let's take a quick look at Mar-a-Lago. Mar-a-Lago, according to the A.G. and the judge, was valued by a neutral valuer at about $20 million, give or take a few. Now, the judge said it's actually worth 500 million. The A.G. said that. And Donald Trump comes in yesterday and he literally doubles down on that. He says, actually, I think it's worth between $1 billion and a $1.5 billion.

So, now, Donald Trump is signed on to this. And keep in mind, by the way, the judge has already ruled that this number, $500 million, was, to quote the judge, a fantasy world.


So, Donald Trump, true to Donald Trump form, has sort of said not only was it what I said before but it's even more than that. And now his team is going to have to support that. Are they going to be able to produce a valid, legitimate, credible expert to support these higher numbers?

HARLOW: Well, they can bring their experts in. What's an expert takeaway?

HONIG: So, the key financial documents is here is what's called the statement of financial condition. Last week when the Trump children testified, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr., they basically pushed the blame down. They said, not us. Donald Trump echoed that theme. He said yesterday, because we're bringing in the bankers, very big bankers, presumably he's talking about his accountants from Mazars there. We'll see if on the defense case, they bring in people to say, we prepared these and it was valid. That's going to be important.

And that leads to the sort of third big point. This was a really important moment. I think a concession by Donald Trump. He was pressed, he tried to dodge, but eventually he said, I would look at them, meaning the financial statements. I would look at them, I would see them, and I would maybe, on occasion, have some suggestions.

If I'm the A.G.'s office, I am seizing on this quote. He saw them and he saw them and he reviewed them in enough depth that he had some substantive impact. That ties Donald Trump to those statements. He's going to have a hard time getting away from that.

HARLOW: So, some knowledge. Okay, what about what's ahead? We hear from Ivanka Trump tomorrow when court reopens.

HONIG: Yes, court is closed today because it's Election Day. Ivanka Trump will take the stand. She is no longer a defendant in this case. She got dismissed as a defendant because the allegations against her were too old, tried to fight her testimony. She will be testifying. I think it's going to be much narrower, focused on specific financial transactions than Donald Trump's yesterday.

The second thing to watch for is after Ivanka Trump finishes testifying, the A.G. is going to arrest their case, meaning we're done. And then the defense, Donald Trump and Trump Organization, they get a chance to put on their case. Their lawyers have said that's going to take into December, maybe a month or more. I think we're going to hear from accountants. I think we're going to hear from experts who will try to validate the numbers that Donald Trump offered up, but that's going to be a substantial defense case.

And then finally at the end of it all, we will have a verdict. Now, the judge has already ruled for the A.G. and against Donald Trump on one claim. There are six other claims. And then, ultimately, the judge will determine damages. The A.G. is seeking up to $250 million. That's the third big thing to watch for, Poppy.

HARLOW: Elie Honig, thank you. We'll get back to you soon. Phil?

MATTINGLY: Well, Maggie Haberman and Van Jones are back with us. Maggie, I want to start with Ivanka Trump. We saw Trump do, I think to some degree, what we all expected in the courtroom and then after the courtroom, kind of swaggering out with the bombastic take on things. What is the expectation for Ivanka Trump? Tried not to have to testify, appealed, isn't technically involved in the case. Do we know what she's been doing to prepare?

HABERMAN: I want to just disagree on one note. I didn't actually expect Trump to take ownership of those statements the way that he did. I didn't expect him to attach himself and not distance himself the way his sons did. So, that was surprising to me.

In terms of Ivanka Trump, she is going to try to get in and out with as little damage as possible. I know that there has been some prep going on. She has been very reluctant to do this. The fact that she was dropped from the case, but also got her own lawyer separate from Trump lawyers, has been a bone of contention.

In Trump's circle, I expect that she is going to try to do as little as possible to inflame her father, but also to distance herself from any questions that the A.G. would have.

MATTINGLY: To take a step back on what you just said about the former president. Why do you think he took ownership?

HABERMAN: I think sometimes he says things under oath that he doesn't either mean to say or that he has been coached not to say. Now, I think that the performance that we saw in terms of him attacking Letitia James, attacking the judge, describing it all in very political terms, that was all very planned. There is no question about that. And he is -- to be clear, he is very, very angry about this case. That is real. That I was not surprised by. But I was surprised by some of what he said that will be used against him as damages are being assessed in this case.

Now, look, Engoron, the judge, clearly has an opinion of Trump already. I don't think that there's any real question about that, has been questioning his credibility repeatedly, questioned his behavior yesterday. But this will all factor into what happens next. And then the hope from the Trump team is, did Engoron do things that they can argue on appeal, means it should be overturned? Now, they feel pretty good about that, but we have to see how that plays out.

HARLOW: That's a good question. You're a lawyer too. I mean, on appeal, if he doesn't prevail and if he's found civilly liable, do you think Engoron, the judge, has given, and Letitia James with her statements, prior of the trial, just tweeting yesterday, basically calling Trump a liar before his testimony, do you think that those give Trump's legal team room for either injunctive relief or an argument against excessive damages?

JONES: Sure. All this stuff will play itself out. But here's the reality. Most people can't follow this stuff. They just can't. And so what all this adds up to for a lot of people is Trump is strong as hell.


Because most people with 91 counts and all the sort of stuff, they would be crumbling. I don't want any counts. I don't want a traffic ticket. And so I think what we have to understand is there's something happening in the country where someone who acts this way, who's completely disrespectful, who would flunk out of kindergarten just based on his attitude, is gaining altitude in this country.

And it's because nobody can follow all this stuff and all they see is somebody who looks strong. And when you have an omni-Christ, this is what everybody's dealing with, financially, geopolitically, whatever, a lot of people would rather have strong and wrong than weak and right. And that's the big picture here.

MATTINGLY: Maggie, to this point, you, I think, with Jonathan Swan and I'm forgetting --

HABERMAN: Charlie Savage.

MATTINGLY: And Charlie, on the idea that if he is convicted, I mean, the polls shift dramatically.

HABERMAN: Oh, Charlie was not on the --

MATTINGLY: Charlie was on the, what would happen in a Trump presidency. That series has also been completely fascinating and very underappreciated for what it means going forward. But the idea that if he's convicted, all of a sudden everybody is going to shift. Biden goes from four or five down and a lot of the swing states to up 8, 9, 10, 11. Do you believe that?

HABERMAN: Well, it's not everybody. It's actually a very narrow slice. It's only six percent of people said that they would flip.

MATTINGLY: Which is enough to change the dynamic?

HABERMAN: Which is enough in a couple of states to change the dynamic. But we are talking about, and Van knows this much better than I do, we are talking about very close presidential races over the last two cycles where, you know, one was settled by 80,000 votes in three states, another was settled by 40,000 votes in three states. So, anything that is marginal can have a real impact.

Do I believe that there are some people who would be troubled by seeing Trump convicted and sentenced to prison? That was the question that was asked in the poll. Yes, I do. Do I believe that people might feel differently in that actuality depending on what else is happening in the world? Yes, I do. I think we are in such totally uncharted territory.

And I think to Van's point, what people are seeing with Trump, and this is part of what Trump was doing with this performance, this was very much about the headlines. His folks felt very good about yesterday, and I don't actually think that that was bluster. Because if you look at basically all of the coverage, it's Trump lashes out, Trump comes out swinging. It's not Trump, you know, acknowledges that he had some impact on these statements. And that's what they're looking for, politically.

JONES: The big surprise yesterday, blue tie. Everything else, totally predictable.

MATTINGLY: In a way that unsettled you or in a way that made face (ph) about what's ahead?

JONES: I agree, I'd expect him to take responsibility for anything, but the only surprise yesterday, he wore a blue tie. Other than that, it's the same Trump show over and over again. And the reason why, it's continuing to work for him politically.

MATTINGLY: All right. Van Jones, Maggie, we appreciate it guys. Thank you.

Well a 69-year-old man has died after a pro-Palestinian and pro- Israeli demonstrations in California, his death ruled a homicide. New reporting on what happened, next.

HARLOW: Also, rising anti-Semitism has many American Jews fearing for their lives. And more of them are buying guns. That reporting, next.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The reality is people don't seem to want us around. And it's hard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you feel that now more than ever?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Now more than ever. It's suffocating, actually.



[07:25:00] HARLOW: These are live pictures. It's the middle of the afternoon in Gaza. You see a plume of dark smoke rising over Gaza City. The Israel Defense Forces say they have secured a Hamas stronghold, a military stronghold in Northern Gaza. The IDF said in a statement, fighter jets working with troops on the ground struck a cell of about ten terrorists and an anti -tank missile cell.

In an interview last night, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told ABC about his post-war plans for Gaza.


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


HARLOW: And he also said the enclave should be governed by, quote, those who don't want to continue the way of Hamas. He also commented on the pressure coming internationally for a ceasefire.


NETANYAHU: Well, there will be no ceasefire, general ceasefire in Gaza without the release of our hostages.


HARLOW: The Hamas-controlled Palestinian Ministry of Health in Ramallah says more than 10,000 people have been killed in Gaza since Israel launched its counterattack after the Hamas terror attacks a month ago.

The U.N. chief has warned that Gaza is, quote, becoming a graveyard for children. And last night, the U.N. Security Council failed to reach consensus on a draft resolution aimed at bolting the conflict.

MATTINGLY: Well, new overnight, people in Ventura County, California, holding a vigil where a 69-year-old man suffered a head injury and died during a pro-Palestinian and pro-Israel demonstration. Police are investigating the death and the medical examiner is ruling it a homicide.

CNN's David Culver is live for us in Los Angeles. David, I want to start on this story. What's the latest from the police on the investigation?

DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, this all happened, Phil, Sunday in Thousand Oaks, that's just north of where we are here in L.A. The 69-year-old has been identified as Paul Kessler. He died of some sort of encounter at a rally where you had both pro- Israel and pro-Palestine demonstrators really at the same intersection there in Ventura County.

Now, overnight, folks from various Jewish groups, as you pointed out in that video, they were gathering actually at the same spot. They had a candlelight vigil. They were singing in Hebrew, and they were holding Israeli flags.

Now, the medical examiner labeling this cause of death a blunt force head trauma. We're not getting a lot of details beyond that. The Ventura County Sheriff's Office investigating this, as you point out, a homicide. But here's the thing, there's no details this morning on any arrests or any suspects at this hour. And as you can imagine, that's getting a lot of attention on social media.

And so you have folks, including a local rabbi here, who's warning, look, there's a lot of conflicting information at this hour, given how sensitive this climate is right now. He's asking for folks just let authorities investigate, not to inflame the situation, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yes, it's an important message, I think one we're following, too.


When we have the information, we will report it.

And separate from that, at least at the moment, we have been documenting just quite often the rise of anti-Semitism in America.