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CNN This Morning

House Republicans Pursuing 2-Steph Plan to Fund Government; Gaza Announces Rafah Crossing to Open Today; Trump Attempts to Tighten Race Early with Focus on Early Voting States; Congress Has Until End of Friday to Pass Spending Bill; Speaker Mike Johnson's Finances Under Scrutiny; Volunteers Supporting Israeli Troops and Civilians; Source Confirms Dems Reached to "The Rock" about a WH Run; Megan Rapinoe Exits Farewell Game Early with Injury. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired November 12, 2023 - 08:00   ET



ALLISON CHINCHAR, AMS METEOROLOGIST: And that's going to a big concern all along the Gulf Coast region, so places like New Orleans, down to Brownsville, and even stretching over into portions of Florida where, again, we're talking about these incredibly high amounts of rain. It also means that the seven-day forecast is looking pretty soggy for places like New Orleans.

AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Allison Chinchar, thank you very much.

And CNN THIS MORNING starts now.


VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Hour three. We're glad you're with us for it. It's Sunday, November 12th. I'm Victor Blackwell.

WALKER: And I'm Amara Walker. Thank you so much for joining us.

Here's what we are watching for you.

BLACKWELL: House Speaker Mike Johnson unveiled his plan to keep the government open. But will it get enough support to avoid a shutdown? The next critical step in the process and why some Republicans are already saying they will not support the plan.

WALKER: And evacuation corridors open near Al Shifa Hospital as intense fighting is reported in the area. And Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing that the war with Hamas will continue, quote, full force.

BLACKWELL: Former President Trump addressed his slew of legal battles ahead, on -- during a trial -- during a rally, I should say, in New Hampshire yesterday. His message to voters and why he wants his federal election subversion televised.

WALKER: Plus , Dwayne Johnson or Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, pro- wrestler, actor, president? A revelation that has political circles all abuzz.

BLACKWELL: We're starting another countdown to a potential shutdown. We're less than a week now, from a government running out of money. But newly minted House Speaker Mike Johnson revealed a plan on Saturday to avoid a shutdown. This two-pronged approach would fund key infrastructure like housing, transportation first, before filling in the gaps with a second bill, and it only provides funding through February 2nd.

WALKER: Now, Johnson will need to get enough lawmakers on board with a plan, obviously. And he can only afford to lose approval from four Republicans.

Let's get to CNN's Manu Raju.

Okay. So, Manu, the plan is out. Now, the plan is -- does it go anywhere from here?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Look, the big question right now is, obviously, about the votes. We do expect a vote to happen early this week, probably on Tuesday, and the question is going to be, not just how many Republicans vote against it, but how many Democrats will vote for it? We're already hearing opposition from Speaker Johnson's right flank, in his first big decision as speaker to move forward on this plan, because it does not include spending cuts, that have been demanded from whole wide range of members on his right flank, really the same issue that led to the ouster of Kevin McCarthy, who advanced a bill without spending cuts to keep the government open, temporarily.

That's exactly what Speaker Johnson is doing, at this moment. He made that choice, to avoid a fight with Democrats. But he's also moving forward in these unconventional approach, funding some other government agencies through mid-January, other government agencies through only February, Democrats and the White House did not like that two-step approach. They call it a recipe for more chaos, but will they actually block this, and prevented from becoming law? That is going to be a huge question this week.

So, ultimately, will they get the vote on the House floor, where they have to rely on a significant number of Democrats to come along, or Democrats to extract anything. But one thing is very clear, time is of the afferent essence. This government will shut down at the end of the day, on Friday, if no deal is reached, if Democrats don't go long, if Republicans don't -- if Republicans can't agree with Democrats on a final way forward here, that's what will happen.

But Johnson, making a big decision on his first test as speaker, take on his right flank by not pushing forward spending cuts, but also irritating Democrats by his approach here, still the question is going to be, can the votes come together within the next few days. Get it out of the House, to the Democratic Senate and to the president's desk, not much margin for error at this critical moment, guys.

BLACKWELL: Manu, you spoke with now former Speaker Kevin McCarthy. What did he say about the now -- his successor, moving a bill without the big spending cuts? What this means for Johnson, potentially?

RAJU: Yeah, it was interesting, because I did ask him specifically about this. Will he -- does he believe that Speaker Johnson will actually have the same outcome that led to the ouster of McCarthy. The -- pushing this bill without spending cuts, will people come forward and actually seek his ouster.

He did not think so. In fact, he believe that is essentially been used up to the duration of this Congress, being able to call for this vote, because the people he believe has lost political capital. Now, at the same time, McCarthy was unsparing in his criticism on one member in particular, Congressman Matt Gaetz, who led the charge for his ouster, and said that he accused him of pushing for him out because of an ethics investigation he is facing, suggesting that Gaetz simply wanted to squash that ethics probe. And he made clear he has very little regard for the congressman from Florida.



REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): If you ever listen to Vern Buchanan when Matt came into office, Vern is the dean of Florida. And he went around with each person, what would you like to achieve to help him? And people talk about things in their district, things they wanted to achieve.

Matt's goal was, his goal was to be the TV congressman. They came back, and they kind of laughed. Is that seriously what you want to be? He said, yeah, the TV congressman. That's what he wants to be known for.

I think -- I think Congress is too important, and the issues are too big to focus on such thing small things that Matt tries to. It's more a division and it's focused on himself.


RAJU: So, in response, Gates simply said thoughts and prayers to the former speaker as he works through his grief.

But we talked about the other members who pushed him out, we also talked about his view of former President Donald Trump, at this time, in the Republican race, and the potential of him getting the nomination, and we discussed his own political future. The former speaker going for the most powerful Republican in Washington, to a rank-and-file member, who is not driving his party strategy, detailing all those things here about his thinking, as he adjust to this new role, guys.

WALKER: Fascinating stuff. Manu Raju, thank you for joining us.

And make sure to join Manu for "INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY". That's at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Let's turn now to Israel's war with Hamas. Patients in Gaza are facing dire conditions of some of the territories, the largest hospitals caught in the middle of the intense fighting. Israel says it will help evacuate babies from the pediatric unit, from Gaza's Al Shifa hospital.

The Hamas-controlled health ministry says three newborn babies have died since Friday night, when nearby shelling knocked out a generator. The IDF says it's been engaged in heavy fighting with Hamas nearby, but denies that the hospital is under siege.

BLACKWELL: The Palestine Red Crescent Society says al-Quds hospital, the second largest in Gaza, is no longer operational because of fuel shortages. The IDF says it is enabling safe passage from Al Shifa and to other hospitals in northern Gaza, and it has a open another route for civilians to evacuate through the south.

More foreign nationals have been allowed to leave Gaza through the Rafah Crossing. A journalist working for CNN saw several evacuees arrived in Egypt a short time ago. Officials say that more than 6,000 foreign nationals were in Gaza at the start of the month, and since then, as many as 2,000 have left.

CNN's Ed Lavandera is live with us from Tel Aviv, now.

Conditions in Gaza's hospital are deteriorating each day, and there are thousands of people going to them, it's not just places for a recovery and treatment, but for safety, because they are evacuating other parts of Gaza.

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Right, these were always going to be the pitfalls of engaging in this kind of urban combat warfare, they're inside of Gaza, and we're seeing situations described as catastrophic and dire, in particular at the al-Shifa hospital, that has really been the center point of so much attention in the last two days. Where Israeli officials are saying, they claim they are not engaged in seizing, and in siege of the hospital, but intense fighting around it.

There are other officials who say differently. But clearly, a great deal of fighting going on around there, in a very dangerous and deadly situation for Gazan civilians, that are inside that hospital. As you mentioned, this is one of those places where many civilians have sought refuge in these hospitals.

But this particular hospital has been of a focus of the Israeli military for years. They have said the Hamas military fighters of use this particular hospital as one of the center pieces underground where they launch much of their military operation, and that's why you're seeing such intense fighting around that area. And also this afternoon, clear signs that the fighting continues to intensify throughout the day, Israeli forces say they are reengaged in firefights just north of Gaza City, trying to weed out Hamas fighters that have been using buildings there, trying to create corridors for civilians to escape through, but that has become, you know, a very treacherous situation as well.

So, all of this continues, even as Arab countries have come together over the weekend to denounce what Israel is doing there on the ground, saying that because Israel is guilty of war crimes, but Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister here in Israel, says they will continue this military operation for full force.

WALKER: All right. Ed Lavandera, thank you.

We're joined now by Dr. Rick Brennan, regional emergency director at the World Health Organization Eastern Mediterranean Region.

Doctor, thank you so much for joining us.

You know, it's hard to get a sense of what's really going on on the ground. Right now, we've heard from the Hamas-controlled health ministry. They are claiming that Al Shifa hospital, which is the largest hospital in Gaza, is surrounded on all four sides, that they are under complete siege.


The IDF denies that, in fact they told -- a spokesperson told CNN that this east side of the hospital does remain open, and that they are allowing and helping coordinate for people to leave that hospital safely. I don't know when the last time you are able to be in contact with your staff on the ground, what are they saying about the situation?

RICHARD BRENNAN, REGIONAL OFFICE FOR THE EASTERN MEDITERRANEAN. W.H.O.: What they're saying is, it's a reporter said, the situation is catastrophic. We haven't had contact now for around 24 hours with our staff are on the ground. I can't speak to the siege, or the ease of evacuation.

But what I can tell you is, the situation in the hospital is appalling. It -- this is the largest health center in Gaza. It has until recently, served up to 1,200 in patients, but is supposed to be 750-bed hospital.

And I think that it's been handling huge numbers of civilian virally injured patients, with dwindling resources. We know that the needs, the health needs of the across, are soaring, just as our ability to address those needs is plummeting. So, more than half the hospitals now across the Gaza are non-functioning, and those that are functioning, are only partially functioning.

This is the time where we've had over 11,000 deaths over 29,000 injuries. It's a desperate situation.

BLACKWELL: Al Quds Hospital, according to the Palestine Red Crescent Society, is not operational, the second largest in Gaza, because they run out of fuel. And for those patients who rely on machines to keep them alive, you need the fuel to run the generators, what now for them? I mean, what happens to these people? Can they be transported?

BRENNAN: Well, it's -- they're very high risk of complications and even death. So what we've seen, for example, in Al Shifa Hospital, that 37 newborn babies that are in the neonatal intensive care unit, we had to move them out there, because they've run out of oxygen there, and take them to the operating rooms, where oxygenating is available, but a lot of them no longer there incubators.

So, that puts them at significant risk. It's the same for a patient that might be in, as you say, in a life support machine such as a ventilator, such as controlled intravenous treatment, and so on. Moving those patients, moving critically ill, or unstable patience, is always a tricky situation.

I'm an emergency physician. I've done a lot of the many medical evacuation in my career. Moving one patient requires specialized staff, equipment, supplies, a clear passage, and then you've got to have a hospital that can receive them at the other end. Hardly any of those conditions, we can safely say almost none of those conditions are adequately met right now, to transfer large numbers of critically ill, or unstable patients.

WALKER: The only I guess breakthrough, if you will, that we have seen in the humanitarian pauses, was this agreement that Israel agreed to, I think a four hour and, very targeted, specific, humanitarian pauses, for people to evacuate specific areas. When you hear the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu basically doubling down amidst, you know, the calls maybe longer, more meaningful pauses, and he says we're going to continue this war with all our force and might.

What are your thoughts, and what would your message be to him?

BRENNAN: I think it's heartbreaking. Look, there's been enough suffering on both sides. Unfortunately, a lot of hearts have been hardened over this conflict.

What we have to look at is the fact that two thirds of the deaths in Gaza have been amongst women and children. That's very unusual for conflict. Previous conflicts in Gaza, around 60, 70 percent of the deaths were amongst adult men. But over -- around two thirds now are women and children, think about that.

We've had over 100 deaths of humanitarian workers. That's unprecedented. We've had over 30 deaths of reporters. We've had over 50 percent of hospitals out of action, and many of them have been hit through this military campaign, and a lot of other vital infrastructure.

That is just not normal. It's not normal. And of course, what Hamas did, in early October, was just appalling, horrific. But there has to be a better way.

We've got to regain our humanity.


We have to address the hardening of hearts. We have to see what is happening to innocent women, children, and others, in Gaza, and find a better way. A cease-fire is absolutely vital. It's the only way to reduce the suffering, and well-meaning people have to find a path.

WALKER: We're going to have to leave it there, Dr. Rick Brennan with the WHO, thank you for your time.

And be sure to tune in to the "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will join Dana Bash at the top of the hour, that's at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here, on CNN.

BLACKWELL: Still ahead, what we'll be watching fort to tomorrow, when Donald Trump Jr. testifies as the first defense witness in a New York civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization.

WALKER: Plus, as newly minted Speaker of the House Mike Johnson pitches his plan to keep the government from running out of money, there are questions over his own personal finances.


BLACKWELL: Donald Trump took his campaign to New Hampshire last night, just one of what will be many visits to the early voting state as he intends to shore up that Republican nomination.


WALKER: The former president went after Joe Biden, issues of national security but, also spent times discussing his mounting legal battles.

CNN's Alayna Treene has the details.


ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, good morning, Victor and Amara.

Donald Trump returned to the Granite State this weekend, after a week of bouncing between courtrooms 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 to 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.

And Trump himself said that he wants a camera in every inch of the courtroom. Take a listen.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I want everybody to see all the horrible things that took place. All of the horrible charges and 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.

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, 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 the big, they want to have momentum built enough that they 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 general election rematch between himself and Joe Biden, not between himself and his primary challengers.

Back to you.


BLACKWELL: Thanks, Alayna.

Donald Trump Jr. is expected to take the stand tomorrow. He will be the first witness for the defense as the Trump Organization takes up the case in this civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization.

WALKER: So, the trial has been underway for six weeks. Tomorrow marks week seven, and it could go on for another month.

We're joined now by CNN legal analyst and former U.S. attorney, Michael Moore.

Michael, it's good to see you. Thank you so much for coming in.

MICHAEL MOORE, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good to see you this morning.

WALKER: OK. So, we're going to see Donald Trump Jr. take the stand for defense, and likely Eric Trump will be called as well. What do we expect to see?

MOORE: Well, I'm glad to be with you.

You know, we saw him called in the states case, and that's not unusual, a party has the right to call the adverse party to put their case on. So, now, we're going to hear the same set of facts but from a different perspective, and that is to tell the defensive side of the case. They want to tell it in a cohesive way, to not have that limited to yes or no questions, to be able to get out information they want to prove and using their defense.

I mean, so, if you think about reading a book, you may take, you know, the three little pigs. We heard the story from the wolf's perspectives, and then we're going to hear it from three little pigs' perspective. The same story, but a different tale.

So I expect we'll see that he's very controlled, it's not going to be a combative exercise we saw before. This will be something where he's trying to get information. They're just building a record right now.

The case -- the judge has already decided they committed fraud, whether or not that survived an appeal, we'll see. But right now, this is about putting information in the record for an appellate court to look at, after the case is over.

BLACKWELL: Former President Trump said that they're going to be bringing in very big bankers, right?

MOORE: Right.

BLACKWELL: But if they're not Mazars, who are the attorney for Mazars actually testified as part of the case by the assistant attorney general, what's the relevance of people who did not handle these documents, these evaluations to the case?

MOORE: I think a lot of this, for the former president, is about campaigning as much as it is about this trial. I mean, he's using this as a way to continue to say that he's been beat down by the system, that they're weaponize the criminal justice system, and the civil justice system in this case, against him. And so, he's talking about that.

So, they're -- again, they may not get the biggest bank in, but they will bring people in to talk about whether or not they lost money, whether or not they felt defrauded. You know, it's an interesting case because if we're going to start prosecuting everybody for inflating personal financial statements, there will be nothing else being prosecuted. That will be the extent of it.

And so, here he's making the argument that the bank didn't lose any money, they're very happy with me, I paid all the loans off, they looked at it, my accountants look at it, so he wants to put those blocks in his wall, to build a foundation for the rest of his case.

WALKER: Well, in terms of the substance of the defense, I mean, is it going to be about, there was no intent to commit fraud? There -- we've also heard, there were no victims, there were no victims. I mean, what are they going to argue?


MOORE: And I think that's probably one area of appeal in what they're trying to build into the record right now, and that is we didn't have any intent. Fraud is usually something that you have to prove that they had a wrongful purpose.

WALKER: But he's already ruled that they committed fraud.

MOORE: Well, that's it, but he ruled without a trial. He ruled on summary judgment without hearing from the -- and so, the judge has made a couple of rulings that I think will be --

WALKER: So, he can overrule himself?

MOORE: Well, an appellate court can. And again, all they're doing now is they're building the record out so they can take it to an appellate court. They're also interested in the court of public opinion, because they want to say there's no victims, nobody was harmed in this thing, everybody got their money back, the banks didn't care, they were happy because we are paying this money, who cares they gave us a lower interest rate, I'm Donald Trump, by the way.

That's what -- I mean, that's the defense, right? So this is not just about, have they proven fraud. This is about again, telling the American people I didn't do every anything wrong, telling the American people I really am who I said I was, my wealth is what I estimated, or announced it to be.

And he's playing to, to two audiences, in addition to now the appellate court, which is certainly going to get the case.

WALKER: What's your assessment of Christopher Kise and how he has conducted himself? Because when he came in as part of -- I think it was the defense in the classified documents case, and now he's got a serious attorney.

MOORE: Yeah.

WALKER: Former Florida solicitor general, this is someone who's in a seasoned attorney. But here in this case, in the testimony of the last week, he said, Trump is the best witness I've had in the 30 years. He made these allegations against the judge and a law clerk, told the other attorneys to go to Russia.

MOORE: Right.

WALKER: What do you make of how of this behavior?

MOORE: You now, I think he's trying to be a serious lawyer, but I think you also have to play that hand that you've been dealt. And he is trying to be an advocate. I may not agree with all the strategies that he's put out, or all the things he said, I think there's been a few unforced errors.

I think sometimes getting in a tit-for-tat with a judge does nothing to advance your case, but it might please your client, who's sitting there, I feel like we're getting hammered, let's throw some fireworks in ourself, you know? You may be seeing some of that going on right now.

So, he, I think, is probably very cognizant of the need to have a full record, and a sort of a fulsome picture of what was going on. And also to point out some things where the judge made some mistakes, for instance, some of the back and forth. We know the judge made a comment about a lot of -- I'm not here to listen, my job is not to listen to.

But that's his only job.


MOORE: Right? I mean, that is his job. And so, those --

WALKER: I think he let play out eventually.

MOORE: That is. But those kinds of comments on the record, might catch the attention of an appeals court, sort of like throwing a hook in the water, and we'll seeing if one of the judges buy it.

WALKER: So many questions, we'll do it during the commercial break.

Michael Moore, thank you very much.

Still ahead, growing questions over House Speaker Mike Johnson's own personal finances, as he works to try to stop the government from running out of money.



WALKER: Congress is once again running out of time to pass a federal spending bill which could result in a government shutdown. This would have a significant impact on all of us, especially some federal employees who may not get paid.

If lawmakers fail to act by the end of Friday, many government operations will stop, although essential services and certain payments such as Social Security benefits would continue.

Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has presented a plan to prevent a funding shortage, and a vote on the plan is expected as early as Tuesday.

BLACKWELL: And as the Speaker tries to get some support for that funding plan, he's also facing questions about his personal finances. His most recent financial disclosure showed that has no savings account, may not even have a retirement account.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has details.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Freshly-minted Speaker of the House Mike Johnson facing questions over how he keeps his own financial house in order.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA), SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE: Look, I'm a man of modest means.

SERFATY: CNN's review of Johnson's personal financial disclosures and campaign financial documents since coming to Congress in 2017, reveal that the new Speaker appears to be living paycheck to paycheck.

Financial records show that Johnson, like many Americans, does not appear to have much of a safety net. For the past two years he has not reported any assets and has never even reported a checking account on financial disclosure forms.

The Speaker's office says he has a personal bank account which is exempt from House reporting rules because it is non-interest bearing, meaning he does not have to disclose this type of account under House rules.

While it's unknown how much is in that account, a source with knowledge of his financial situation tells CNN that account is not big enough to be leaving large sums of money in interest on the table. All this as Johnson's liabilities are plenty. A mortgage for his

family home valued between $250,000 and $500,000; a personal loan from 2016 between $15,000 and $50,000; and a home equity line of credit taken in 2019 for less than $50,000.

As a congressman, Johnson was making $174,000 a year. His salary will now jump to $223,500 as Speaker. And he has made over $100,000 teaching online courses at Liberty University since 2018. Last year alone Johnson collected nearly $30,000 from the college.

On Capitol Hill, to save money on steep D.C. rent, Johnson is one of the many members of Congress that sleep in their offices. A source with knowledge says the Speaker will continue sleeping in his office for now but did not know if that will always be the plan going forward.

JOHNSON: There are a lot of things on the minds of American people --

SERFATY: Johnson's financial standing in stark contrast to many of his colleagues on Capitol Hill. With the median net worth of his colleagues in 2018 at just over $1 million.


SERFATY: Some former speakers have done well. Nancy Pelosi is worth more than $110 million.

Before coming to Congress in 2017, Johnson was a lawyer. In 2016 he reported making over $200,000.

JOHNSON: I was a lawyer, but I did constitutional law. And most of my career I spent in the non-profit sector.

SERFATY: And has said much of his money goes to taking care of his large family.

JOHNSON: We have four kids, five now that are very active. I have kids in graduate school, law school, undergraduate. We have a lot of expenses.

SERFATY: That financial reality not unlike most American families.

JOHNSON: I didn't grow up with great means, but I think that helps us be a better leader because we can relate to every hard-working American family. That's who we are.

And I think it governs and helps govern my decisions and how I lead.

SERFATY: Now, we don't know much about Speaker Johnson's wife and her full financial future but we do know she's earning some income and it's coming from a few places. A Christian counseling company, her work with a Louisiana right to life educational committee as well as a general listing on disclosure forms for various clients.

Now, lawmakers they are not required to reveal the amount of money their spouses are earning, but Johnson actually does. In some of the earliest disclosure forms he revealed she's made about $45,000 to $50,000 a year, but he has not declared her salary since 2021.

Again, all this a very limited snap shot into her side of the earnings of the family.

Sunlen Serfaty, CNN -- on Capitol Hill.


BLACKWELL: Still ahead, how volunteers in Israel are stepping up to help their troops and their neighbors after the October 7th attack by Hamas.



BLACKWELL: Volunteers in Israel are stepping in to support their troops and their neighbors after the Hamas attack on October 7th.

WALKER: One organizer it's help their sense of resiliency.

CNN's Nic Robertson has more.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: A few miles from the front lines, soldiers relax, enjoy free food and the support of their country.

REL NADEL, RESTAURANT OWNER: It's like everybody's in war, ok? People of Israel are in war, everybody wants and needs to contribute.

ROBERTSON: An army vet turned restaurateur, Rel Nadel stepped up immediately, cooking burgers.

NADEL: In the second Day of war with 1,000 burgers. Right now we deliver around 20,000.

ROBERTSON: And the soldiers, they just show up here and they --

NADEL: Yes, yes. People coming from all over the area.

ROBERTSON: It feels relaxed and anywhere else it might be, but so close to war it's therapy. And not just for the troops.

DUDI SHREM, VOLUNTEER: I continue to make us a good place to live here.

ROBERTSON: It's Dudi Shrem's first day volunteering, chopping onions for burgers. His only child, Liam, 28 years old, murdered by Hamas at the music festival.

SHREM: The weight and they start to shoot. Nobody stay in the car, three people. Three good friends.

ROBERTSON: And it's not just food that volunteers are stepping up to help out with. All across the country, people are doing what they can to support the soldiers and the civilian.

So you're building resiliency here.

RONI FLAMER: You build resiliency. You make sure that we are -- our mutual responsibility is in its best.

ROBERTSON: Roni Flamer has thousands of volunteers working for him.

ROBERTSON: This is the heart of the operation.

FLAMER: This is the heart of the operation, so it's starting to be hard and that's why we need to every day to rebuild the spirit.

ROBERTSON: In this room, one of dozens like it across the country, volunteers working 18-hour shifts, rescuing families from front lines, finding them places to live.

SEAN ETINGER, ONE HEART VOLUNTEER: It helps me keep busy so you know that the head doesn't get stuck on the war and all the atrocities that happened and keep happening.

ROBERTSON: Like everyone here, Sean Etinger, a 21-year-old student, sees the suffering on the other side too.

ETINGER: I do want for it to end, you know, completely, ok.

FLAMER: Here -- can see the statistics.

ROBERTSON: Flamer, a third generation Holocaust survivor, fought in the last incursion, wants to build back stronger.

FLAMER: We seek for peace. So the only thing that we know how to do is to help. It's to rebuild. We are going to bring 1 million people to live on the Gaza border.

ROBERTSON: For Dudi Shrem, who lost his son Liam, that building back has only just begun.

SHREM: My son, he liked very much the life. Therefore, he asked for my (INAUDIBLE) and tell us, continue the life, good life. And we pray for him.

ROBERTSON: Nic Robertson, CNN -- Gilad, Israel.


BLACKWELL: Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, former wrestler, movie star -- he's a lot of things. Could he one day be president? The revelation that had political insiders talking this week.


WALKER: Former pro wrestler, current movie star, future president? It turns out Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson was approached by Democrats about the idea of running for president. And that's according to sources familiar with the conversation. BLACKWELL: The confirmation came the day after Johnson had everybody

talking saying this on a podcast with Trevor Noah. Watch.


DWAYNE "THE ROCK" JOHNSON, ACTOR: The beginning of the year -- at the end of the year, rather, in 2022 I got a visit from the parties asking me if I was going to run and if I could run.


BLACKWELL: Johnson ruled out a run for now, but he did not dismiss a future run for the White House. And he would not be the first celebrity, of course, to choose to jump into the world of politics.

Here is CNN's Tom Foreman.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have two choices --

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Blasting into a president election in which polls say many voters don't like either main candidate, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, actor, wrestler, superstar is hinting at a run.

D. JOHNSON: If that's truly what the people want, then of course, I'll consider it.


FOREMAN: If he does, he'd follow former president Donald Trump and dozens of other celebrities who have considered, tried and sometimes succeeded in spinning their fame into political gold.

The one he might most want to study, Ronald Reagan who used his skills from film, TV and radio to pick off one political challenger after another, proving his actor's sense of timing --


FOREMAN: -- and humor --

REAGAN: I am not going to exploit for political purposes my opponent's youth and inexperience.

FOREMAN: -- could carry him all the way to the White House and with a robust agenda popular with his party to keep him there.

That pattern has been repeated at lower levels. Fred Grandy turned nine years on the love boat into eight years as a congressman from Iowa.

FOREMAN: Sonny Bono was a pop star, then a mayor, then a congressman from California until his untimely and accidental death.

AL FRANKEN (D), FORMER MINNESOTA SENATOR: But I don't think that's how it works.

FOREMAN: Which Minnesota senator started out as a comedian?

FRANKEN: That's right. Me, Al Franken.

FOREMAN: And of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger pressed his strong man persona into eight years as governor of California.

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER, FORMER GOVERNOR OF CALIFORNIA: I want to be the governor for the people. I want to represent everybody.

D. JOHNSON: What the hell is this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your strengths and weaknesses.

FOREMAN: So is "The Rock" ready to enter the political jungle? He's tipped his hat to a presidential run before, although always with hesitation.

D. JOHNSON: I love our country and everyone in it. I also love being a daddy. And that's the most important thing to me, is being a daddy.

FOREMAN: We don't know if he would be a good president. We usually don't know when any celebrity runs if they will be good at the job.

But political strategists know, if they're already famous, likable and generally considered trustworthy by the public, those are big steps toward being electable.

Tom Foreman, CNN -- Washington.


WALKER: I think we'd make a great ticket then. Kidding.


WALKER: You and I.


WALKER: That's the plan.


WALKER: U.S. soccer legend Megan Rapinoe took the field for the final time last night. But what should have been a celebration turned tragic just minutes into the game.

Coy Wire joins us with all the details next.



WALKER: Soccer star Megan Rapinoe suffered a painful end to her final professional game.

BLACKWELL: CNN sports anchor Coy Wire is with us now. Sad way to end.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes. Megan Rapinoe is a two-time World Cup champ. She's going to go down as one of the greatest to ever play it. And this was supposed to be a storybook ending to her storybook career.

Her OL Reign playing against in the championship game Gotham FC. Just a couple minutes in, Rapinoe -- you'll see her slip. She said it felt like someone kicked her. And you can actually see her look back.

She said she felt a huge pop. She said she's pretty sure that she tore her Achilles tendon. Rapinoe got a standing ovation as she walked off the pitch though. Saying afterwards that though this was the worst possible outcome and she's done playing, she will still be involved with the game.

Gotham FC will go on to win. Spain's World Cup winner Esther Gonzalez heading in the eventual game winner. And another U.S. soccer star, Ally Kreiger goes out on a high. This was the final game of her career as well. Gotham FC wins 2-1, their first ever NWSL title after finishing last place last season.

College football, number 10 Penn State hosting third rank Michigan who remember, without their head coach Jim Harbaugh, suspended by the Big 10 conference on Friday amid sign-stealing accusations, under investigation by the NCAA.

Offensive coordinator Sherrone Moore, he took over, hoping to keep their champion hopes alive and the Wolverines came through big time. Grounding out a 24-15 win, rushing for 227 yards. Michigan improving to a perfect 10-0 afterwards.

Here is Coach Moore talking about how emotional these last 24 hours have been.


SHERRONE MOORE, COACH, MICHIGAN: I want to thank the Lord. I want to thank Coach Harbaugh. (EXPLETIVE DELETED) I Love you man. Love the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) out of you, man. This is for you, for this university, the president, our A.D. We've got the best players, best university, best alumni in the country. Love you guys. These (EXPLETIVE DELETED) guys right here. These guys right here, man.


WIRE: I've got some MLS playoff action.

Houston Dynamo hosting Real Salt Lake. Houston up 1-0 but Bryan Oviedo crossed, redirected by Diego Luna to equalize. That would set the stage for a penalty shootout. Win or go home.

Game three, Houston's Griffin Dorsey nails it. The Dynamo dancing their way into the Western Conference semi-finals. They will face Sporting Kansas City next.

Finally some pop news. Taylor Swift has been to Chiefs game supporting her beau, Travis Kelce. Meeting his Mama Donna. Well, now it's Travis' turn. The two-time Super Bowl champ taking a 14-hour flight to Buenos Aires, Argentina on the team's bye week showing up at here second Eras tour with Tay Tay's dad. That's him there next to him, Mr. Scott.

After she wrapped her performance, she ran to the VIP tent and watch what happens -- big old smooch for Travis.


WIRE: And Taylor actually changed one of the lyrics in her song "Karma" to "Karma is the guy on the Chiefs coming straight home to me", instead of saying the words "scream" there, she put in Travis' team name.

WALKER: I love that.


WALKER: Right. Right, Victor? Are you so touched? I mean that was so sweet.

BLACKWELL: They are the doing the most. Ok, you're dating. Great.

WIRE: Celebrity couple. Super charged.

BLACKWELL: You've got to run off the stage and be all in your mother's face.

WALKER: She's a show woman. She has to put on a show.

BLACKWELL: It's her show.

WIRE: Travis will be worthless when he comes back from that bye week.


WIRE: Oh, come on.

WALKER: All right. Coy Wire, thank you.

WIRE: You've got it.

BLACKWELL: Thank you so much for joining us this morning.

WALKER: "STATE OF THE UNION" starts now. Have a great day.