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CNN This Morning
Tim Scott Drops Out of Presidential Race; Johnson Pitches Plan with 4 Days to Avert Shutdown; Gaza's Health System Crumbling as Fighting Rages Nearby; Trump Team to Begin Defense in Civil Fraud Case; 1,000 Earthquakes Reported in Iceland in 12 Hours. Aired 6-6:30a ET
Aired November 13, 2023 - 06:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Monday morning. We're so glad you're with us. Hope you had a good weekend. We have a lot of news to get to this morning. Let's start with "Five Things to Know" for this Monday, November 13th.
Breaking overnight, Senator Tim Scott has dropped out of the Republican presidential primary. The sudden announcement stunning some of his own staff and donors.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And Gaza's largest hospital says it's in crisis, out of fuel and no longer operational, with at least three newborns dying as a result. Israel says it offered to evacuate babies and to provide fuel, but says that Hamas blocked the delivery.
Also the Pentagon says it carried out new deadly airstrikes against Iranian-backed facilities in Syria. The strikes in retaliation for recent attacks on U.S. personnel in the region.
HARLOW: Donald Trump's legal team set to begin its defense today in that high-stakes civil fraud trial right here in New York. First to the witness stand, Donald Trump Jr.
MATTINGLY: And House lawmakers returning to D.C. to consider Mike Johnson's two-step plan to avert a government shutdown. Major questions remain with just four days left until funding runs out.
CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.
HARLOW: Here's where we begin. This breaking overnight. Certainly, a surprise when I woke up. Senator Tim Scott suspending his run for president.
He made the announcement during a live television interview. And we're told it caught many of his own staff members and donors by surprise. You can see it caught this TV host off-guard, too.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), FORMER PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: When I go back to Iowa, it will not be as a presidential candidate. I'm suspending my campaign. I think the voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear that they're telling me not now, Tim. I don't think they are saying, Trey, no, but I do think they're saying not now.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: I just want to frame Trey Gowdy's face. To be clear, they're very good friends. Gowdy, a former South Carolina Republican, as well.
Here's a look at the GOP field now. Scott is dropping out just two months before those Iowa caucuses. Sources close to his campaign tell CNN his team was worried about qualifying for next month's debate and that leaving the race now allows him to return to the Senate without an embarrassing finish in Iowa.
Let's bring in Eva McKend. The timing was a surprise, clearly, to Trey Gowdy, including some on his staff. Why did it happen now?
EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: A surprise to many of us, Phil. You know, I was speaking to those close to the campaign last night, and they said they were finding out on television just like we were.
But the surprise of the announcement, not so much that -- that it happened it came. Because his team had been worried about qualifying for the fourth Republican debate next month.
He was the last candidate to meet the donor and polling thresholds to make last week -- week's debate, and that really spelled trouble.
You know, the thought is by leaving the race now, people close to his campaign say that he can return to the Senate without a potentially embarrassing finish in Iowa. He preserves the possibility of a future political run and leaves without getting in the crosshairs of the former president. So that seems to be what -- what went into the calculation.
HARLOW: But he's not going to endorse, right? Which is interesting.
MCKEND: Yes. It seems like he doesn't think that that is going to be particularly helpful at this time. Let's listen to his reasoning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCOTT: I'm going to recommend that the voters study each candidate and their candidacies and, frankly, their past. And make the best decision for the future of the country. The best way for me to be helpful is to not weigh in on who they should endorse.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCKEND: So what's interesting now is to see where all of Scott's donors go. I was speaking to prominent Scott donor and meta mogul Andy Sabin last night. And he told me he's disappointed, not surprised. Just to give you a sense, I spoke to him on Friday just a few days
ago, and at that point, he said that the team was telling him that they were all in on Iowa.
So he was really, really surprised at how quickly things changed. But he did also tell me that now he is shifting his resources to Nikki Haley. And it seems as though other donors are going in the same direction.
HARLOW: So not an explicit endorsement. But -- but that. Eva, thanks very much for the reporting for us.
All right. Your favorite thing.
MATTINGLY: Bring it up. Bring up the clock.
HARLOW: Bring up the clock, guys. There you go. Four days. Four days left to prevent a government shutdown.
Apparently, we didn't get very far this weekend. The new House speaker, Mike Johnson, pitching a two-step plan to fund part of the government until January 19th. The second part would fund it until February 2nd.
Neither includes additional aid, by the way, for Ukraine or Israel. Johnson already has his work cut out for him. Some Republicans have already stepped out against this bill.
Lauren Fox joins us on the Hill with an update. Good morning.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Poppy.
Yes, this is really now a question for what House Democrats are going to do. And that is because there are already a number of conservatives who do not like the plan that Johnson unveiled on Saturday on a private conference call with his members.
And that is because there are no spending cuts in either short-term spending bill. This would be basically a two-part staggered, short- term spending process. Something kind of unlike anything we've seen in Washington before.
A lot of Democrats see it as kind of gimmicky. They argue that it overcomplicates something that could be much simpler. And yet, one notable thing over the weekend, where so many Democrats were holding back their fire, remaining sort of open to the idea, in part because there aren't spending cuts included. And that was a red line for many Democrats.
So we're going to be keeping our eye on how House Democrats proceed over the next couple of days.
The first test for Johnson is going to be passing what is known as a rule. This is a procedural step that dictates the rules of the House floor for any legislation that comes before that body.
And it's really important, because typically, it's the majority party that gets the rule over the finish line. But it's very possible that conservatives could vote against that rule. And that would obviously be a major problem for Johnson, because then he either has to turn to Democrats to help with the rule or he has to try to pass this bill under a suspension of the rule, which means you need two-thirds majority. That's a larger threshold with Democrats he would need to pass this.
So there's just a lot of remaining questions for how Johnson gets this over the finish line.
MATTINGLY: Yes, Lauren. You zeroed in on the key here. Where are Democrats on this? There are no spending cuts, and defense was moved to the second rung. It's that far off from what they wanted. We'll have to see.
Lauren Fox, thank you.
And new overnight the U.S. carrying out a new round of airstrikes against Iran-backed targets in Eastern Syria. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says the strikes targeted a training facility and a safe house.
Officials believe Iran is responsible for at least 46 rocket and drone launches against U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria since October 17, at least Iran's proxies. The U.S. has been trying to send a message of deterrence to Iran through strikes -- through strikes like these and the military presence in the region. But the attacks have persisted.
At least 56 U.S. troops have been hurt, ranging from minor to traumatic brain injuries.
HARLOW: Well, fighting continues in Gaza where the medical system is literally collapsing. We want to warn you: some of these images we're about to play are very disturbing.
Hospitals across Gaza running out of fuel and supplies. Doctors are just overwhelmed as thousands of people pack into these medical centers seeking refuge from those Israeli airstrikes.
A hospital director says newborn babies have been taken off incubators, kept in foil, and placed next to hot water to keep them alive.
MATTINGLY: At Gaza's largest hospital, Al-Shifa, patients and staff report being trapped inside because of fighting nearby. The hospital director telling CNN that, quote, "all essential units have collapsed," saying, quote, "There's no more water, food, milk for children and babies. The situation in the hospital is catastrophic."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says the hospital is being used as a command center for Hamas, something Hamas has denied.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: There's no reason why we just can't take the patients out of there instead of letting Hamas use it as a command center for terrorism. Even though Hamas has tried to prevent the civilians from leaving, hundreds of thousands have left.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Let's go straight to CNN's Nada Bashir, live in Jerusalem. And Nada, the very pressing and urgent question right now: is there any pathway to get assistance to the hospital that will work?
NADA BASHIR, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, we've been hearing from the medics on the ground. We've heard from the hospital's director, who has described the situation there as catastrophic. This is amongst the latest of Gaza's hospitals, which are facing collapse.
This is Gaza's largest hospital. As you mentioned, and as we've been hearing from teams on the ground, they are running out of supplies. They are running out of medication.
Of course, crucially, they are running out of fuel in order to be able to provide that care; in order to be able to operate on patients.
The hospital's director saying over the weekend that now, when they are receiving wounded patients, they are only able to provide first aid. All the operating rooms there are now out of service.
And of course, as we know, there are hundreds of patients inside al- Shifa, altogether with the medical staff. We're talking about an estimated 1,500 people.
And that's in addition to the thousands of estimated 7,000, according to hospital officials, of civilians who have flocked to al-Shifa, in the hope that this will be some sort of sanctuary amid the ongoing airstrikes and on-the-ground fighting.
We have heard from medical teams on the ground, who have urged for more fuel supplies. We've been hearing from one doctor who has been describing the devastating situation. A warning to our viewers: some of this footage is extremely distressing. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There was a direct injury in the head, internal bleeding. And we can't do surgeries. No surgeries, no oxygen, no electricity. We work manually. We are using a manual resuscitator. It is a clear injury. It needs an urgent surgery, a life-saving one. He is less than a year old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BASHIR: And of course, as you mentioned, we heard from the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, yesterday saying there is no reason for people to not be able to evacuate. They have established an evacuation on the Eastern side of the hospital.
But doctors on the ground have been telling us, including doctors from Doctors Without Borders, that it is near impossible for patients, for staff, for civilians, to evacuate this hospital safely because of the near-constant --
BASHIR: -- bombardment they have described.
HARLOW: I mean, even to the fact that some of the fuel that Israel said it delivered and left outside the hospital, Nada, right, some of the doctors were too concerned to even go outside to get it, given what is happening. Thank you for the reporting from Jerusalem.
MATTINGLY: Just hours from now, Donald Trump's legal team is set to launch their defense in the New York civil fraud trial. First up, Don Jr. getting ready to take the stand, with his family's business empire at stake.
HARLOW: Also, New York City Mayor Eric Adams saying he will cooperate with the FBI after his phones were seized and details is have emerged about what federal investigators are looking at.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JAMES AUSTIN JOHNSON, CAST MEMBER, NBC'S "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": I couldn't be at at the debate, because I'm very, very busy. I'm going from trial to trial. I'm basically doing "House Hunters," but with courtrooms.
But how about these trials, making all my children testify against me, my sweet little middle-aged criminal children. So awful to bring in the family. It will be very sad when I pin it all on one of them. Probably Eric.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: It's funny, because it's true. Donald Trump's -- I'm kidding -- Donald Trump's legal battles getting the "Saturday Night Live" treatment this weekend.
In just a few hours, Trump's legal team will be launching its defense in the New York civil fraud trial. Attorney General Letitia James's office rested its case last week.
Now, it's the defense's turn. The first witness: Donald Trump jr. Prosecutors called him to the stand earlier this month. He denied, under oath, having any role in preparation of his father's financial statements and said he consulted with lawyers and accountants before he signed off on them and certified their accuracy every year.
Joining us now to discuss, CNN political commentator Errol Louis and CNN senior legal analyst, Elie Honig.
All right. From the legal perspective, we've been talking a lot about what the defense might look like. Why do you bring in Don Jr. first?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So it's interesting. I think he's going to be essentially a spokesperson. I think he's going to be a lead-off hitter for the defense.
I think they want to come out strong. I think they want attention. They want our cameras on what's happening today. If they led off with, let's say, some accountant who is going to justify their accounting method, someone from the banks who is going to justify the loans, I don't think it gets as much attention; I don't think as much of a splash.
So I think this is a conscious, strategic decision to call Don Jr. first. And I think what he's going to try to do is, one, maybe to some extent justify the valuations, the over-valuations. But I think he's also going to try to explain the way that they do business and explain why the banks were willing partners here and not victims.
HARLOW: But it just seemed to me about Elie's answer that the lawyer is talking about the political and the public opinion argument, not the legal argument. This is a bench trial. So you could argue that the judge would rather hear first a defense from the accountants, from the banks.
ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, absolutely. Look, the judge had made clear that he's going to kind of let them sort of make a political case. You know?
He's already ruled on much of what I expect to hear from Donald Trump Jr. today. I mean, what he's likely to say is that this is the way we do things. The valuation of, say, Mar-a-Lago, it's clearly worth a billion dollars, and nobody got hurt.
HARLOW: Maybe a billion five, Errol.
LOUIS: At least, right? And so the judge has already ruled on all of these things. You know?
So -- but he also doesn't want to get reversed. He doesn't want to feel like he's being unfair to them. He's going to give them every opportunity to do this. And so I think we're going to hear this over and over and over again.
And Elie's exactly right. From -- from my organization, from Spectrum News, we've really only given it good TV coverage when there's a Trump in the witness stand. Right? Not -- not because, you know, there's some accountant there or some insurance specialist and so forth.
So yes, they are clearly going to be talking outside of the courtroom, where it's important, again, to emphasize they've already lost a lot of this case.
MATTINGLY: Just really bumming out accountants right now in terms of their self-worth there.
HARLOW: They will get their day on the stand.
MATTINGLY: I want to get to you on this in a second. To start with you, what we've seen with the mayor of New York, Eric Adams, what happened on Friday, explain to people because when I saw it, I don't know that there's much, if any, precedent for what happened and what it means.
HONIG: It's a big deal to execute a search warrant on the sitting mayor of the city where you operate. This is being run by the Southern District of New York, my former office. This is the feds. This is the United States Department of Justice.
Here's the textbook version of it, and then I'll give you a little beyond the textbook.
Textbook says in order to get a search warrant, you need probable cause, lower than proof beyond a reasonable doubt, but probable cause that a crime was committed and that you will find evidence of that crime in whatever it is you're seizing.
In this case, Eric Adams' cell phones.
Here's the sort of behind the scenes at DOJ. You're always careful when you do a search warrant, but you are extra careful when you sign off on a search warrant as the U.S. attorney, as main Justice, on the sitting mayor of New York.
Worth noting, though, a federal judge also has to agree. So a federal judge signed off on this, too.
HARLOW: But it doesn't have to be that person's crime.
HONIG: That's true. Technically, if I robbed a bank and buried the money in Errol's backyard, they could do a search warrant on Errol's backyard. It wouldn't mean Errol's in trouble; it would mean I'm in trouble.
HARLOW: Please never frame Errol for us.
HARLOW: He's a former police chief. He says --
LOUIS: Police captain.
HARLOW: Police captain. Sorry. He goes so far above and beyond to be ethical and to follow the rules that he says some of his staff calls it annoying, how much he talks about it. That's sort of the context here.
LOUIS: Well, look, that's what he says. Right? I mean, and of course, you know, being -- I've covered the last five mayors of New York, right?
If he says, I tell them every day, don't break the law, don't break the law, at some point you say, why do you have to tell them every day?
HARLOW: Doth protest too much?
LOUIS: Are they forgetting that you told them on Tuesday, that they shouldn't do it on Wednesday?
So -- so he's -- he's got a real serious problem here. But frankly, his reaction to it has, I think, really sort of engendered a lot more curiosity about this. This has never happened before, that they took his phones.
It happened on Monday. He didn't tell anybody about it. Even though he had a full 45-minute televised press conference that was supposed to be dedicated to this subject, he never breathed a word about it.
Now, he doesn't have to do that, obviously, but by the time it came out on Friday, you're thinking, Well, gee, you know, you were OK with this? You just thought it was kind of normal that you just gave over your phones, and they had all your electronic devices for a couple of days? And -- and you have nothing else to I say about it?
And so we're very curious to hear what he has to say about it. The story is involving. Subsequent reporting from the "New York Times" really is kind of painting a picture here of something that, frankly, sounds plausible. And it's this very murky dividing line between a constituent, even a donor, who's a constituent, asked you to do something on the government side, and you do that for them.
It's very fact specific. If you do it and say, I'll only do this if you give me money for my campaign, then you've probably broken the law.
If you're just doing it because there's a coincidence -- they happen to be a constituent and a donor, and they happen to have a legitimate need that you helped them with, the same way you would with, you know, anybody else, then it's probably not. So it's -- it's a murky, sticky situation.
HARLOW: He was Brooklyn borough president at the time, though.
LOUIS: Yes, you know what?
HARLOW: We're talking about a Manhattan big Turkish $300 million building.
LOUIS: But this is --
HARLOW: But I know what --
LOUIS: It was the election year. And once you become the Democratic nominee, you're basically the mayor-elect. MATTINGLY: It's worth noting, the mayor has not been accused of any
wrongdoing. He says he has not done anything wrong. We'll wait and see what happens. I wake up with the baseline implicitly of, Don't break laws today. I don't feel like you have to say it, but I'm not the mayor of New York.
Elie, Errol, we appreciate you.
HARLOW: You'd be a good one, though, Mattingly.
MATTINGLY: Thank you.
HARLOW: Yes. The notoriously bad -- You would. You would. You'd be great. Not yet, though. Don't go away.
HARLOW: Notoriously bad traffic in Los Angeles is about to be a lot worse. Look at that. This is just a huge fire. It shut down part of the city's busiest freeway.
MATTINGLY: And a volcanic eruption near Iceland's Blue Lagoon looks more and more likely after nearly 1,000 mini-earthquakes were reported in just 12 hours. We're going to have a live report, ahead.
MATTINGLY: A state of emergency in Iceland this morning as officials warn there is, quote, "significant likelihood" of a volcanic eruption near the world-famous Blue Lagoon.
HARLOW: So police officials now urging residents to evacuate after about a thousand earthquakes -- that's right, a thousand earthquakes -- have been reported in the region in the last 12 hours.
Meteorologist Derek van Dam is following all this. I always dream -- I've always wanted to go there. A thousand earthquakes? What's the risk?
DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, Blue Lagoon is actually closed to anyone, so that's not an option right now, Poppy.
VAN DAM: But Icelandic authorities, they actually believe that an eruption is imminent. Not in a matter of days. We're talking about hours. It could happen at any time.
Take, for instance, the town of Grindavik, which is currently evacuated. This is located in Southwestern Iceland, where this flurry of earthquakes caused the damage here that you see on the screen behind me.
And that is from what people believe, the authorities and researchers believe, that is called a magma corridor that could be floating directly underneath the town of Grindavik. And that's causing some of the damage here and the flurry of activity.
Of course, if we do get an eruption, there's concerns for the worldwide aviation industry, not just for Southwestern Iceland. So that's a broader scope than just this.
But the thousands of earthquakes that have occurred since Friday, some of which have been noted offshore, there has been a brief lull in the past six to 12 hours.
But what is concerning scientists and researchers is that the earthquake activity is very near the surface. A very shallow earthquake represents this magma corridor, magma intrusion, that is getting closer and closer to the surface of the earth.
So concerns growing with the fact that this magma could spew out, causing the volcanic eruption. And we don't want to see that become explosive, because that volcanic ash does not mix well with jet engines and actually stalling, cause it to fall out of the sky.
MATTINGLY: Derek, keep us posted. This is very serious, potentially. Thank you.
HARLOW: One of Tim Scott's top donors already lining up behind a new candidate after the South Carolina senator dropped out of the Republican primary.
MATTINGLY: And Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips vows to spend as much of his multi-million-dollar fortune as it takes in his long-shot primary challenge to President Biden, but he claims it won't be necessary.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Do you have a top-dollar figure that you're willing to invest?
REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: No, because this is so important. Again, I will not be self-financing my campaign. I won't need to, because we are drawing wonderful support from around the country. I certainly start my day every day with $5 donor calls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)