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CNN This Morning
Gaza's Largest Hospital Caught in Middle of Fighting; Israel Denies Targeting Al-Shifa Hospital, Says Hospital Is Not Under Siege; Arab and Islamic Leaders Accuse Israel of War Crimes; Government Will Shut Down Friday If No Deal Is Reached; Third-Party Candidates Could Shake Up Presidential Election; Robert F. Kennedy Jr. Leading Polls For Independent Voters; Trump Attempts To Tighten Race Early With Focus On Early Voting States; Trump's Civil Fraud Trial Enters Seventh Week Of Testimony; Biden Narrowly Leads Trump Among Latino Voters; Man Receives World's First Entire Eye Transplant; Megan Rapinoe Exits Farewell Game Early With Injury. Aired 6-7a ET
Aired November 12, 2023 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING, Sunday, November 12th. I'm Victor Blackwell.
AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Amara Walker. Thank you so much for being with us. Here's what we are watching for you this morning. An evacuation corridor is open near al-Shifa Hospital right now as intense fighting continues in and around the area. And Israeli prime minister vows the war with Hamas will continue -- quote -- "with full force."
BLACKWELL: House Speaker Mike Johnson unveiled his play to keep the government open. But will it get enough support to avoid a shut down? The next critical step in the process and why some Republicans are already saying that they will not support the plan.
WALKER: Former President Trump addressed his slew of legal battles head on during a rally in New Hampshire yesterday. His message to voters and why he wants his federal election subversion trial televised.
BLACKWELL: Plus, an amazing medical breakthrough. An Arkansas man receives a complete eye and partial face transplant. More on the first-of-its-kind surgery.
WALKER: We start in Gaza this morning where Israeli forces continue their ground assault against Hamas targets. The IDF says much of the fighting has been focused on locating and destroying the maze of tunnels that Hamas has built underneath Gaza.
BLACKWELL: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected growing international calls for a ceasefire in Gaza. In a televised speech, Netanyahu double down and he said that the battle against Hamas will continue with all our force, with all our might.
Authorities are expected to open the Rafah Crossing today as to allow foreign nationals to leave Gaza. Officials say more than 6,000 foreign nationals were in Gaza at the start of the month and since then as many as 2,000 of them have left.
The Hamas-controlled health ministry in Gaza said that three newborn babies have died at al-Shifa Hospital since Friday night. That's when nearby shelling knocked out a generator. The IDF says it has been engaged in heavy fighting with Hamas nearby but it denies that the hospital is you under siege.
WALKER: CNN's Ed Lavandera joining us now. Ed, I mean, it's really hard to get a sense of what exactly is happening in and around al- Shifa Hospital. This morning the IDF says it has offered to evacuate infants and other patients from Gaza's largest hospital. What do we know is happening there?
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right. It has been described by health officials who are inside that hospital and have since evacuated in the last 12 to 15 hours as a catastrophic and a dire situation. But it is not exactly clear if this transfer that the Israeli Defense Force is offering to move the babies inside al-Shifa Hospital to a safer place has happened.
IDF officials said Saturday night that they would work on transferring those babies inside that hospital after the Hamas-controlled health ministry said that three babies there had died yesterday. This area around the hospital has been the focus of intense fighting in a lot of -- it's unclear as to where exactly the fighting has taken place. People inside the hospital say that Israeli forces had laid siege to the hospital, surrounding it. Israel's Defense Force says that is not happening, but that there is intense and ongoing fighting in the areas around there.
And it's important because this is the hospital that has been the focus for years of Israeli military saying that Hamas military fighters used this area underneath the al-Shifa Hospital, which is the largest in Gaza City, as one of its main focal points of its military operations and that's why there is such intense fighting there. And all this comes as a collection of Arab nations -- leaders that had gathered yesterday essentially accusing Israel of committing war crimes in this military operation in Gaza. But despite that, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is remaining defiant, saying that there will be no ceasefire and that Israel will continue with full military force until Hamas is eliminated.
WALKER: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you very much. On Saturday, Saudi Arabia hosted what it called the Joint Arab-Islamic Extraordinary Summit in Riyadh where dozens of leaders issued strong condemnation of Israel's actions in Gaza.
BLACKWELL: Eleni Giokos joins us now. Eleni, as Ed just mentioned, they accused Israel of committing war crimes in Gaza.
[06:05:02] Tell us more about this summit.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And very strong words. I mean, they are making it absolutely clear that not only Arab League, but also the Muslim leaders from the region are watching Israel's actions very closely and they have described it as war crimes. They are calling it barbaric and inhumane and that the war must stop immediately. They are condemning the occupation in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Now, this is a show of force. These multiple leaders coming together in a very rare meeting usually they don't meet together. They came up with this resolution which has around 31 points full with condemnations as well as demands.
But in the lead up to this meeting, there was hope specifically from the Arab world that there would be some kind of real tangible action, multilateral pressure that would be put on Israel, and also the United States, which they have categorically said is complicit in many ways in terms of Israel's actions in Gaza. They also mentioned the countries that are selling arms to Gaza, making very clear that any country right now that is supporting Israel and not -- and being silent about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza, not calling for a ceasefire, also holds responsibility.
Now, what we're seeing on the ground in Gaza plays a very big role in terms of the diplomatic discussions that are currently on the go. We know at the Rafah Border Crossing here in Egypt that we are anticipating that foreign nationals will be evacuated, is a breakthrough deal that has been going on for a week and a half. Qataris led that conversation. Many conversations happening here as well.
Hamas leadership was in town on Thursday, the same day the CIA chief was here as well. But in all of this, it's the humanitarian scenarios, the catastrophe that is on the minds of all leadership. I want you to take a listen to what the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MOHAMMED BIN SALMAN, SAUDI CROWN PRINCE (through translator): We are witnessing a humanitarian catastrophe that demonstrates the failure of the Security Council and the international community to put an end to the flagrant Israeli violation as of international laws and norms and international humanitarian law. It confirms the double standards and selectivity in its application of these laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GIOKOS: So, Arab and Muslim leaders calling on the U.N. Security Council to have a binding resolution, calling for the ICC to investigate what they call war crimes which the ICC says they plan to do when they have access to Gaza.
But also importantly, Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi said on Saudi soil for the first time. It's the first time Iranian president has been in Saudi Arabia in over 11 years. He is back in the important Arab fold making his voice very heard. We know it's a red line for the United States if Iran becomes involved in this war which we know Iran is backing Hezbollah as well as Hamas.
And the question now becomes, will we see sanctions? Will we see diplomatic pressure being exerted by the region on Israel and perhaps the United States as well? I spoke to one expert here that says this united front, the show of force by leadership in the region, is a very important and clear message. But there is disappointment that we didn't see tangible action from the leadership that met in Saudi Arabia on Saturday.
BLACKWELL: Eleni Giokos for us there in Cairo. Eleni, thank you so much. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will join "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning. That's at 9:00 a.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
WALKER: Newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson revealed a GOP backed plan to avoid the looming government shut down. Here is how this two- step plan will work.
Bill number one, it will extend funding until January 19th but it will only fund specific programs like Veterans Affairs, transportation and housing. The second bill will fund the rest of the government until February 2nd and neither includes money for Ukraine or Israel's war efforts. So, this plan is getting a lot of push back already on both sides of the aisle with White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre calling it a recipe for more Republican chaos.
Joining us now for analysis, Mica Soellner with "Punchbowl News." Good morning to you, Mica. Good to see you.
So, tell me -- I mean, this has never been tried before. It's never been implemented, a two-tiered funding plan like this. What is the point of having these two separate funding, I guess, deadlines, because now you're -- now you have the potential for repeated shut downs as well?
MICA SOELLNER, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, PUNCHBOWL NEWS: Yes. Good morning, Amara. So, basically this two-tiered CR approach is an attempt by Speaker Johnson to appease the right flank of his conference. The irony in this is that this is very much a clean CR thus kind of giving House Republicans delay in order to pass appropriations bills which is exactly what ousted former Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the first place.
We have already seen some members say that they are not going to vote for this because it funds government agencies at the same level that it's currently at. The only thing this does is kind of buy some more time in order for House Republicans to be able to pass a few more appropriations bills but it's very much a laddered clean CR.
WALKER: Right. And like you said, I mean, there is no funding for Israel and Ukraine as, you know, President Biden has been pushing for and there has been -- there are no spending cuts as Republicans want. And we know that some Republicans like right-wingers like Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene came out and said that she would not vote for this clean CR. What is the sense of support though within the Republican conference?
SOELLNER: Yes, there has been some members that have already come publicly, you know, against this. We saw -- we also saw -- you just mentioned Marjorie Taylor Greene. Also, Chip Roy from Texas, who is, obviously, the number two in the House Freedom Caucus. Congressman Warren Davidson of Ohio, another Freedom Caucus member, said that he will not be supporting the CR.
And then clearly on the Democrats, the White House does not take this proposal seriously. As well as House Democrats said that they would not do anything other than just, you know, a full normal clean CR. So right now, Speaker Johnson will have to buy Republican votes on this. But it's going to be a very difficult process given that there is already been a handful of members who are saying that they (INAUDIBLE).
WALKER: And looking ahead to 2024, I mean, just last week more members of Congress announced that they would be retiring or not seeking re- election. And the one announcement that seem to get the most attention was the one from moderate Democrat Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
We know that West Virginia is a deeply red state. So, obviously, that will likely go to a Republican contender. You also wrote about a Wisconsin -- about in Wisconsin and how that is the potential pickup opportunity for Republicans as well.
SOELLNER: Yes, absolutely. So, I think we are seeing a lot of these retirements are coming from, you know, states and these members who are more pragmatic members than some of these firebrand senators and lawmakers in deep water, deep blue seats. You know, Wisconsin is really vying for businessman Eric Hovde to take on Tammy Baldwin, who is known as kind of a pragmatic dealmaker, a mid-western Democrat.
So, you know, I think that seems in play for Republicans but they're going to have a challenge given the fact he has not yet announced and time is kind of running out here in terms of when it comes to election time and campaign season. So, we'll be watching those closely.
WALKER: Would you say that the congressional map for 2024 is looking much more favorable for the Republicans?
SOELLNER: I certainly think that there are a number of states in play for Republicans, particularly when it comes to the Senate. It should a very favorable map for the GOP. On the House, I think that the forecast is more so leaning towards Democrats, especially kind of given, you know, how the House GOP majority has played out.
I think it's also going to be dependent on the top of the ticket here with Trump and Biden as well as the state of the economy and how Biden's going to be doing as well when it comes to Democrats and then how Trump is going to impact the races for Republicans.
WALKER: Obviously, regarding Joe Manchin, I mean, there are questions that remain about whether or not he will launch a third-party presidential bid with No Labels. So far there are three third-party candidates, Jill Stein, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and Cornel West. Is there -- how strong is the possibility that these third-party candidates will be spoilers, major spoilers for either party?
SOELLNER: Yes, it's interesting to see these developments happen. I really don't think that any of these candidates would be viable to take out, you know, either the Republican or the Democrat. But I think that it does show a sense of frustration among a lot of the electorate and maybe the demands of people saying that, you know, both sides are becoming too ideologically extreme. And people are really hungry for, you know, more of a pragmatic middle of the road candidate.
I think that a lot of the country has lost in the last decade or so, you know, before leading up to the Trump presidency and the divisions that we are seeing now play out in both parties. So, I think people are very hungry for that. I don't know how viable it would be in terms of going all the way. But it's definitely showing a sign that, yes, like that there is a need for this.
WALKER: Yes, it's remarkable and notable. And when you look at the recent polling from Quinnipiac University Robert Kennedy Jr. polling at 22 percent right now, which is, obviously, underscoring the state of discontent in this country with all of the candidates. Mica Soellner, thank you very much.
BLACKWELL: Still ahead, what we will be watching for tomorrow when Donald Trump Jr. testifies again this time as the first defense witness in the New York civil trial against the Trump organization.
And after a life changing accident, an Arkansas man receives the world's first whole eye transplant. That story ahead.
I will take you back to the Middle East. A live look here out of Gaza, where we saw plumes of smoke rising above the skyline there just a few minutes ago. More from the region ahead on CNN THIS MORNING.
BLACKWELL: Donald Trump was on stage in New Hampshire last night. His campaign has put that state in focus part of a strategy to get Republican rivals out of the race early and shore up support from donors.
WALKER: Trump focused his attacks on President Biden, but he also weighed in on his mounting legal troubles.
CNN's Alayna Treene has the details. ALAYNA TREENE, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, good morning, Victor and Amara. Donald Trump returned to the Granite State this weekend after a week of bouncing between courtroom and the campaign trail. His rally this weekend came on the heels of his testimony in his New York City fraud trial earlier in the week, and this is something that Donald Trump talked about a lot during his speech.
He brought up his legal battles. But specifically, he talked about something that his legal team is trying do in one of his cases, the federal election subversion case. They are asking for that trial which is supposed to come early next year to be televised. Trump himself said that he wants a camera in every inch of the courtroom. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want everybody to see all of the horrible things that took place, all of the horrible charges and all of the things that were done with respect to a very corrupt election, and let's let the public decide because I want cameras in every inch of that courthouse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TREENE: Now, Victor and Amara, Donald Trump's visit to Claremont is one of several trips he will be making to New Hampshire in the weeks ahead. His team tells me that even though Donald Trump is doing very well in the polls right now, he is leading his primary challengers, they also recognize that he can't get complacent, especially because they want to win not only the primaries but they want to win them big. They want to have momentum build enough that can carry them into a potential general election fight with Joe Biden.
And that is something as well that we heard a lot from Donald Trump this weekend. He spoke about the president's handling of the Israel/Hamas war, said that he thinks he would do a better job of bringing peace to the country during this time, and really set this up as if it were a general election rematch between himself and Joe Biden. Not between himself and his primary challengers. Back to you.
BLACKWELL: Thank you very much, Alayna Treene. Now, as Alayna noted, Trump is, as you know, facing major legal headwinds. Tomorrow in New York his son Don Jr. is expected to take the stand again as Donald Trump's attorneys begin their defense in his civil fraud trial.
We are joined now by Joey Jackson, criminal defense attorney and CNN legal analyst. Joey, good morning to you.
All right. So, Don Jr., Eric, Donald Trump, former president, they have already testified when the assistant A.G. called them. Don Jr. is going to be up first. What is the goal and what do you expect?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. Good morning, Victor. So, I think the overall narrative will be as follows. There was not an intent to defraud any bank at all. The fact is that the banks made money. The banks had their due diligence obligations. They didn't raise complaints. They didn't see that there was anything amiss with respect to financial statements and the valuation as it relates to properties are subjective and there will be expert witnesses in that regard.
I think in, you know, in the trials, in any trial, there is something called primacy and recency. What does that mean? It means you start off strong. You end strong.
And I think to put the son back on the stand, there will continue to be the notion that, look, we have the best accountants, we have the best lawyers, we relied upon everybody. This is victimless and what are we doing here? And I think that's the narrative that will be propagated to begin out the gate by his son tomorrow.
BLACKWELL: On expert witnesses, the assistant A.G. said that some of the expert witnesses that the Trump team, that they want to call, I think it was four of them, said that there is no reason to call them again. This is about valuation and accounting practices.
The assistant A.G. says it's irrelevant. The judge said, no, let the Trump team have all their witnesses because I don't want this to be reversed. What do you think about the judge's decision there considering how long Trump's defense expects this to go on?
JACKSON: So, I think it's a good move. That there is the answer to the question because you have to give people their due process. What does that mean? It means, you know, they have an opportunity to be heard.
You may disagree, even if you're the judge, with respect to what the experts might say. The subjectivity of the evaluations, how they were conducted, whether they were conducted properly, the best accountant practices, the best business practices, the protocols of the company.
You may not if you are the judge as the fact finder, because it's a bench trial, not a jury, you may not be in accord with what the expert witnesses say, but when you start limiting testimony and say that I only want to hear from certain people, even if you are right. And we have these arguments all the time, Victor, in terms of whether an expert should be permitted to testify or not.
But I think the judge is being, you know, very cautious with respect to allowing all the evidence in to say that the Trump team was not hampered in given any defense. And so, when a final ruling is made, not that it can't be appealed, but it limits the appealable issues.
BLACKWELL: One more element of the civil fraud trial, this disclaimer clause that has been mentioned.
Trump himself, Donald Trump Sr., former president, mentioned it when he was on the stand saying that this is the responsibility of the banks to do their due diligence, to determine if these numbers are accurate. How much of a defense is that? How much is that worth to this team? JACKSON: So, listen, the bottom line is I know that that has been tanked and it has been noted that, you know, that clause is meaningless. It has value, yes. I mean, obviously, that everyone who participates in a deal, right, buyer beware, has to do their due diligence. No one should go into it blindly.
If you are a bank, have an obligation to protect yourself, to protect people who bank with you, to make sure that everything is upfront and onboard. At the same time, it's not a license to engage in fraud.
And so, yes, while it is important and it does put the other party on notice, who you are negotiating with to do your own homework, it doesn't mean that you can do or say anything in a bank statement. You could mislead in a bank statement. You could put what you want in any of the statements and say, oh, but I have a clause there that says forgive me. And so, that's not how it should be or could be used and I think that was the judicial determination as well.
BLACKWELL: Classified documents trial now. The judge there says this is scheduled to begin in May of 2024, puts it right in the middle of the campaign season. If this does not go in former President Trump's favor, does the timing play into a potential appeal argument? I guess, you know, attorneys can appeal on any grounds, but is that a credible one?
JACKSON: It's not a credible one. The reality is, is that justice has to come first. And so, the justice system is really not concerned about your campaign schedule. They are not concerned about other things that may be of importance in your life, right?
It's concerned about the notions of justice. Are your attorneys prepared? Have they been given all the discovery? Has there been adequate opportunity to evaluate, scrutinize that discovery? Have all the parties engaged fairly?
Those --and that is the analysis not whether or not it impedes or interferes with your ability to campaign. And so, I don't think that alone would be a credible argument at all with respect to an appealable issue.
BLACKWELL: Election subversion case now. And Alayna mentioned this in her report, the question of cameras in the courtroom. And I interviewed the -- one of the founders of Court TV who said that the American people will believe the verdict, the outcome of that case if they get to see it. I don't know that over the last eight years or so there has been a lot of evidence of people believing what they see.
But what's your view on the potential of cameras being in a federal courtroom? Do you think that's plausible, it's going to happen?
JACKSON: I do, Victor. I think the time has come. We have to be in a system where there is full transparency. And I know that, you know, there are many arguments against it. I think there are arguments for it.
You know, will attorneys showboat, will it become drama, et cetera, say what you want. But I think people should be focused in and decide whether this is a political prosecution or whether it has merit, right?
What is our system all about? It's about giving people a fair hearing. It's about doing things in the light of day. It's about a public trial such that no one gets railroaded.
And I think that if ever there was an opportunity to change the dynamic, to invite people in, to prosecutors, let people know this is about evidentiary value, this is about fraud, this is about subversion, whatever it is, you decide. And so, I think that this may change the dynamic forevermore, and I believe that this would be a valuable opportunity and lesson for the public and I think the time has finally come.
BLACKWELL; Joey Jackson, thank you for joining us. Enjoy this Sunday.
WALKER: Still ahead, new CNN polling this week reveals the challenges President Biden faces among Latino voters heading into next year's election. What this could mean for Biden's re-election bid.
WALKER: One year out from Election Day, President Joe Biden narrowly leads Donald Trump among Latino voters. While Biden beat Trump among Latinos in 2020 by more than 30 points, our new polling shows that Latino voters now favor Biden over Trump by only four points.
BLACKWELL: Latino voters share their concerns heading into 2024 with CNN Senior National Correspondent Miguel Marquez.
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Are you happy with your vote for Joe Biden?
GABRIELA MARTINEZ, GEORGIA VOTER: Well, I didn't see something like really change. Like, I didn't see changes and so I was expecting something.
MARQUEZ (voiceover): Gabriela Martinez was expecting better. Both she and her husband work. They have one child, 6-year-old Roman. Every month, a struggle.
MARTINEZ: Right now, I work in three jobs because I have to like, pay more things. Like, my house is more expensive.
MARQUEZ (voiceover): Dalton, Georgia bills itself, the carpet capital of the world, much of the labor here, Latino immigrants living paycheck to paycheck. Many now view the Trump years as better for their bottom line. JUAN MANUEL FERREIRA ZAMORA, GEORGIA VOTER: Latino community say when
Trump was a president, we don't have high gas or inflation of their foot.
ZAMORA: So, this is the truth.
MARQUEZ (voiceover): Pocketbook concerns, top of the mind in the support of this fast-growing voting bloc critical in key battleground states. Joe Biden won Georgia and its 16 electoral votes in 2020 by just 11,779 votes. That year, Latinos in the state back Biden by a 25- point margin. While they were just seven percent of the Georgia electorate, a small shift could affect the outcome in a tight race.
A recent New York Times/Siena College see in a college poll across six battleground states, including Georgia, found Trump running just eight points behind Biden among Latinos.
MARQUEZ: Do you think Latino votes in Georgia are up for grabs from either party in 2024?
ANDRES PARRA, PROGRAM MANAGER, GALEO IMPACT FUND: Absolutely. I think they're up for grabs from both parties -- I think for many parties, really. And I think there's a lot of frustration and a lot of broken promises.
MARQUEZ (voiceover): GALEO advocates for and works with Latinos statewide. Andres Parra says Latino concerns mirror the country. Their biggest issues --
PARRA: Inflation and job pay, rent prices and health care.
MARQUEZ (voiceover): Juan Jose and Soyla Patino, 63 years married, they raise seven kids. Now in their 80s, they still show up to work every day at their Atlanta snack shop.
What's important for most people living in Georgia, he says, is work. Patino says he's a Democrat but worries about the economy and crime.
Here in Atlanta, he says, many people are thinking bad things about murder and crime.
Diego Monsalve has lived in Atlanta and cut hair for 17 years. The candidate who will get his vote, the one he believes will improve both the economy and bring down crime.
MARQUEZ: Do you have a candidate in mind or are you in the media or in the middle?
DIEGO MONSALVE, GEORGIA VOTER: (Speaking Foreign Language)
MARQUEZ: So, you're open to Democrat or Republican.
MARQUEZ (on camera): Look, it is not just Joe Biden who's going to have a hard time winning over Latino votes here in Georgia. We did speak to some Republican Latinos and moderates. They didn't want to go on camera, but look, they said they'd like the Republican Party, they want to own businesses. They'd like the business sense of the Republican Party, but they did say they'd have a hard time voting for Donald Trump.
It seems no matter who the candidate is or the party, they are going to have to work hard for Latino votes here in the Peach State. Back to you.
WALKER: Miguel Marquez, thank you.
Still ahead, the world's first whole eye transplant and partial face transplant is giving an Arkansas man new hope and a new lease on life.
BLACKWELL: Some new hope through a medical breakthrough for a man in Arkansas. He suffered extensive injuries when he touched a live wire two years ago.
WALKER: Now, a surgical team in New York has successfully performed an entire eye and partial face transplant on the 46-year-old, the first ever in the world. CNN's Omar Jimenez has the story.
OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Aaron James was working as a high voltage lineman in 2021 when his face accidentally touched a live wire. He lost an arm and parts of his face. James' new reality left him nearly unrecognizable. With no memory of what happened, he was sent to a hospital in Texas not long after.
AARON JAMES, RECEIVED FIRST EYE AND PARTIAL FACE TRANSPLANT: Basically, I got up, went to work, and woke up six weeks later in Dallas, Texas.
JIMENEZ (voiceover): Doctors at New York University soon got wind of his case and saw a possibility. Less than two years after the accident, they performed a successful partial face and whole eye transplant, the first time that's ever been done in history. And this is what James looks like now. The new eye is still not open, but receiving blood flow, his doctors say.
JIMENEZ: When you walk by the mirror, do you ever stop yourself and go, wow?
A. JAMES: Oh, yes. Every time I see a mirror, I'll stop. It's unbelievable.
MEAGAN JAMES, WIFE OF AARON JAMES: In the very beginning, it was a poor outlook. They were basically preparing me for his death.
JIMENEZ: Did you ever lose hope?
M. JAMES: No.
JIMENEZ: Why is that?
M. JAMES: Because he was fighting.
JIMENEZ (voiceover): Their daughter, Ali, wasn't sure what he would look like. But that's not what she cared about.
ALI JAMES, DAUGHTER OF AARON JAMES: Most of my worries was just how he was going to be when he was awake and aware.
JIMENEZ: Did you ever think you were going to lose him?
ALI JAMES: Yes.
A. JAMES: I think I'm still a little in shock. It's wonderful. I don't know where else -- I'm just happy to see them.
JIMENEZ (voiceover): The 21-hour procedure was intricate at every level.
JIMENEZ: Why is adding an eye to a face transplant much more complicated than the already complicated face transplant?
DR. EDUARDO RODRIGUEZ, CHAIR, DEPARTMENT OF PLASTIC SURGERY, NYU LANGONE: It's completely uncharted territory.
JIMENEZ (voiceover): Dr. Eduardo Rodriguez helped lead the historic surgery. In one of two operating rooms, he dissected the face that James would soon receive, including an eye.
RODRIGUEZ: We disconnected from the donor, and the race begins. At this point, the face and the eye are not receiving any blood supply. The amount of time that it's not receiving blood is critical. The eye could die. So, I take the face from the donor room to Aaron's room, and I begin all those connections.
JIMENEZ (voiceover): Having to use a microscope to connect nerves no more than a millimeter wide to connect the eye.
JIMENEZ: Is there a possibility that he will see in the future?
RODRIGUEZ: At this point, he does not see, but the fact that the eye is there, we've already made one huge step forward.
A. JAMES: Wow. This was James seeing himself for the first time post- surgery.
JIMENEZ: You don't look at this as a finish line. This is more of a starting point. RODRIGUEZ: Absolutely.
JIMENEZ (voiceover): Through it all, James sees a purpose greater than his own.
A JAMES: That's really my biggest hope out of this deal. I mean, if I can see out of it, that's great. But a good old kickstart, the next path in the medical field is on all court.
BLACKWELL: Wow. Omar Jimenez, thank you for that story.
California has the highest rate of homelessness in the country, and often living among the thousands of unsheltered people are their beloved pets. Top 10 CNN hero, Kwane Stewart, has made it his mission to offer veterinary care at no cost on the streets of California. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KWANE STEWART, TOP 10 CNN HERO: I've seen people give up their last meal for their pets, and people who have $3.00 for their name, and after I'm done with the treatment, they will try and give me that $3.00.
This is your partner, obviously.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, this is my best friend.
STEWART: They see me with my stethoscope and my bag.
Yes, yes, you look good.
This little dog was days away from dying.
And then they start sharing stories about their dog and the history.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He makes me feel good, and he loves me. And I know he loves me.
STEWART: I can treat about 80 percent of the cases I see out of a really small bag.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, you do vaccines, too? Oh, that's really cool.
STEWART: It's antibiotics. It's anti-inflammatories, flea and tick, heartworm prevention. It's all there. It's at no cost to them. It's free. I'm building a network of trusted volunteers, technicians, but hospitals and clinics we can go to, we can call on.
Let me take a listen here.
It doesn't matter what your situation is or what your background or past is. I see a pet in need, and I see a person who cares for them dearly who just needs some help. (END VIDEO CLIP)
WALKER: So, soccer star Megan Rapinoe suffered a painful end to her final professional game.
BLACKWELL: CNN Sports Anchor Coy Wire is with us now. I mean, it's a terrible way to end her career.
COY WIRE, CNN ANCHOR: Man, two-time World Cup winner Megan Rapinoe, her fans, her teammates, they're all looking for this storybook ending to her story career. Her OL Reign taken on -- excuse me -- Gotham FC in the championship game. And there's just a couple of minutes in. Rapinoe slips. She said it felt like someone kicked her. You can see her look back. She said she felt a huge pop. She said she's pretty sure she tore her Achilles.
Rapinoe got a standing ovation, though, as she walked off the field saying afterwards, this was the worst possible outcome. She's done playing, but she will still be involved with the game. Now, Gotham FC would go on to win. Spain's World Cup winner, Esther Gonzalez, heading in the eventual game-winner. And another U.S. soccer star, Ali Krieger, goes out on a high. This was her final game of her career as well. Gotham FC win 2-1, their first-ever NWSL title after they finished last place last season.
76ers guard, Kelly Oubre, is expected to miss significant time after being hit by a vehicle while walking near his home in downtown Philadelphia on Saturday. The 27-year-old was taken to the hospital and released a few hours later. Philadelphia police are saying to CNN that there is an active investigation into the incident.
College football now, number 10 Penn State hosting third-ranked Michigan without head coach Jim Harbaugh, suspended by the Big Ten Conference on Friday for an assigned stealing accusations involved under investigation by the NCAA. Offensive coordinator there, Sherrone Moore, he's taken over hoping to keep their playoff hopes alive. And the Wolverines, they came through 227 rushing yards in this 24-15 win.
Now, Michigan improves to a perfect 10-0 on the season. Afterwards, Moore broke down talking about the previous 24 hours and all the emotions involved. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHERRONE MOORE, ACTING HEAD COACH, MICHIGAN WOLVERINES: Oh, I thank the Lord. Oh, thank Coach Harbaugh. I love you, man. (BLEEP) you, man. This is for you, for this university, the president, our A.D. We got the best players, best university, best alumni in the country. I love you guys. These (BLEEP) guys right here. These guys right here, man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WIRE: I bleeping love you, Victor.
Meantime, number two Georgia, they're making a case for that top spot in the top 10 match up with number nine Ole Miss, demolishing them under the Saturday night lights. The Bulldogs lighting up the scoreboard, 52 to 17. Georgia clinching the SEC East for the third straight year, earning the day with Bama in the conference championship game next month. But the Rebels, they did provide the play of the day. Look at this one-handed catch by Dayton Wade, stretching out like pantyhose on hippos. My goodness.
WIRE: What? Exactly, Amara.
WIRE: Finally, the New York Giants starting quarterback lives with his mom and dad. Yes, Tommy DeVito, he is only a 12-minute commute each day from his childhood home in Jersey to the practice facility where he plays for his hometown team. 25 years old says he doesn't have to worry about laundry or what's for dinner. And now, his mom still makes his bed. His teammate Justin Pugh said, this is genius to save money. Mom helps out and no distractions. He says it's smart.
BLACKWELL: It went a little too far with making the bed though.
WALKER: Yes, you think?
BLACKWELL: A little bit.
WIRE: He has no shame.
WALKER: You were on a roll this morning, Coy.
WIRE: Well, thank you. Thank you.
WALKER: I don't know if he's appreciating it, but I am.
BLACKWELL: I mean, a corny joke, recipient loves it. He was telling him during the break.
WALKER: I bleeping love your jokes.
WIRE: Bad jokes.
WALKER: Coy Wire, thank you.
WIRE: Thank you.
WALKER: Back after this.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) BLACKWELL: It is a sign that the holiday season has begun. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has arrived in New York City.
WALKER: So has your Christmas tree, Victor Blackwell.
BLACKWELL: Yes, it has.
WALKER: So this tree here, the 12-ton, 80-foot tall Norway Spruce arrived at 30 Rock on Sunday. The 80-year-old tree comes from Vestal, New York. It will be strung with tens of thousands of LED lights and topped with a giant Swarovski Star. The tree lighting takes place on November 29th.
BLACKWELL: And if you want to start putting up your decorations while you're getting ready for Thanksgiving, do that. According to a new study by the Journal of Environmental Psychology, researchers believe that an early display of holiday spirit might actually bring you more happiness.
WALKER: The study also found the use of holiday decorations on your home conveys friendliness in the sense of unity among neighbors. Participants in the study rated residents based only on photographs of their home and front yard.
Why do we need studies for this? I think it makes sense.
BLACKWELL: I don't know. I put my tree up November 7th.
WALKER: Is that why you've been in such a good mood lately?
BLACKWELL: Yes, that's why.
WALKER: You have been nice to me?
BLACKWELL: I put the tree up but I didn't put a single -- I put one ornament on it and said I don't feel like doing this tonight. And now, there are like ten on it. So, I will get it done eventually.
WALKER: OK. So, by December 25th, you will have your last ornament?
BLACKWELL: All done. All done.
WALKER: The next hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts now.