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IDF: Tunnel Shaft And Weapons Found At Al-Shifa Hospital; Ex- Girlfriend Accuses Combs Of Rape And Abuse In Lawsuit; Education Department Opens Seven School Probes After Alleged Antisemitism And Islamophobia Incidents. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired November 17, 2023 - 07:30   ET



DAVID HARDEN, FORMER USAID DIRECTOR FOR WEST BANK AND GAZA MISSION: -- kind of look at the evidence and to probe it and to push it.

I will say kind of -- you know, a small set of arms and one MRI element is not -- is not enough. It's got to be a very big use of the -- of the hospital complex in order to allow for the proportionate attack --


HARDEN: -- that we just saw.

One other thing I will say. The Israelis have an obligation and a duty for our care to all the patients that are there and the medical staff. And so, they, in essence, own this hospital now --


HARDEN: -- and they have to provide the fuel and the -- and the water, and the meds, and the services that the patients need.

HARLOW: That's a really good point because we're hearing from doctors there that the babies don't even have enough milk.

David Harden, thank you, given all your expertise in the region. Thanks very much.

HARDEN: Thank you, Poppy.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, after reports of antisemitism at America's universities, the Department of Education is taking action. Ahead, the new federal investigation launched into several colleges.

HARLOW: Also, Sean "Diddy" Combs accused of rape and years of abuse. Details of the lawsuit filed by his former girlfriend, Cassie, and also his denial, ahead.


[07:35:05] MATTINGLY: The former girlfriend of Sean "Diddy" Combs is suing him, alleging the music mogul raped and physically abused her over a number of years. In a complaint obtained by CNN, Casandra Ventura claims she was lured into a quote "fast-paced and drug-fueled lifestyle" after she was signed to his record label, Bad Boy.

CNN's Omar Jimenez joins us now. You would know her from her stage name -- her performing name is Cassie.


MATTINGLY: She's very famous. She's very talented.

This complaint is stunning when you read it. What do you make of it?

JIMENEZ: I mean, these are some pretty big allegations. I mean, that Diddy was violent toward her -- physically violent toward her. That he controlled all aspects of her life. Forced her into sex trafficking acts. And that allegedly, when she tried to leave him in 2018, he forced his way into her home and raped her.

Now, they met back in 2005 when she was 19; he was 37. And that was when their -- she describes a lifestyle of heavy drug abuse and alcohol began -- effects of which she still feels today.

And I want to read you a little bit of her statement that she put out here that "After years in silence and darkness, I am finally able to tell my story and to speak up on behalf of myself and for the benefit of other women who face violence and abuse in their relationships."

And I should also mention it comes ahead of a crucial deadline. Last year, the New York Adult Survivors Act was put into effect and so it allowed adult survivors to come through -- come forward, even if the statute of limitations had passed. Now, that act is set to expire next week, so getting it out now was very crucial in that regard.

MATTINGLY: Diddy's lawyers did respond. What are they saying? Do we know what's next here?

JIMENEZ: Yeah. So as you can imagine, they are completely denying what they're calling outrageous claims.

And I want to read you part of their statement that says, "For the past six months, Mr. Combs [Diddy] has been subjected to Ms. Ventura's persistent demand of $30 million, under the threat of writing a damaging book about their relationship, which was unequivocally rejected as blatant blackmail. Despite withdrawing her initial threat, Ms. Ventura has now resorted to filing a lawsuit riddled with baseless and outrageous lies, aiming to tarnish Mr. Combs' reputation and seeking a pay day."

Now, she is seeking unspecified monetary damages as part of this. But also, the range and scope of these allegations clearly detailed an experience that she says she had over the course of what was more than a decade at this point and basically, a time period that she wants Diddy held accountable for. MATTINGLY: Yeah. We'll have to keep a very close eye on this.

Omar Jimenez, thank you.

JIMENEZ: Of course.

HARLOW: Well, protesters in the United States taking their calls for a ceasefire in Gaza to the streets. Demonstrations from coast to coast. That's the Bay Bridge in San Francisco.

MATTINGLY: And running a marathon is hard -- seriously -- hard enough as it is but it's even harder when you have 30 pounds of body gear. Later this hour, the inspiring story of a Chicago police officer's tribute run. Stay with us.



HARLOW: There are more protests expected today here in New York City calling for a ceasefire in Gaza, and this comes after several demonstrations yesterday from Boston to San Francisco. The protesters urging lawmakers to push for Israel to stop its war in Gaza.

We have also learned that President Biden's campaign staff at the Democratic National Committee in D.C. after a day of violent protests erupted outside there. We're told the president thanked his staff and praised law enforcement for keeping everyone safe.

Joining us now is our friend and colleague, CNN's Victor Blackwell. Also, host of a great new show, "FIRST OF ALL WITH VICTOR BLACKWELL." That is 8:00 a.m. Eastern time on Saturdays right here. Victor, it's good to see you.

We're seeing so much of that and there is interesting polling that sort of backs some of this up. A new NPR/PBS poll shows 38 percent of Americans feel Israel's response has been too much. That's up more than 10 points from just October.

What are you seeing here?

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: We're seeing 56 percent of Democrats who say that what the IDF has done in Gaza is too much.

Listen, as this war goes on, to state the obvious, this becomes more difficult for the president. You saw two dozen members in the House -- Democrats -- send this letter to the president urging for this ceasefire to be negotiated. And some of them had never publicly supported a ceasefire.

They cite the numbers affecting children. According to the U.N., 4,500 killed, 1,700 missing. More than 7,600 injured. They say that there must be some cessation of hostilities here.

You point out the protest outside the DNC headquarters -- HARLOW: Um-hum.

BLACKWELL: -- on Wednesday. One of the members inside, California Congressman Brad Sherman, posted on X that there were anti-Israel pro- terrorist supporters outside. Now, there was this clash -- six officers demonstrated, but journalists outside didn't see or hear anything that they report was pro-terrorist. I mean, this is coming down to obviously, the split there in Congress.

But what does this mean for the president from the voters? Increasingly, we're seeing that the rhetorical shifts that we have seen from the president and from Sec. Blinken, they deem as insufficient.

And I've had on the show -- correspondents have interviewed the same people who protested in 2015 President Trump's proposed Muslim ban and showed up and mobilized people at airports in 2017 when there was the restriction placed on people coming into the country are condemning the president's handling of this.

Now, one was about immigration; another is about life and death. Where will these voters go in November of 2024? That still is to be seen. But as we have discussed, the polls show that this is really politically fraught for the --


BLACKWELL: -- president. And maybe beyond the president, does this extend into some of those crucial House and Senate races based on what comes down the pike from funding?

MATTINGLY: Yeah. They represent critical elements of the president and Democratic coalitions.

Victor, you're also going to have on civil rights attorney Ben Crump, I believe, to talk about the death of Dexter Wade in Mississippi. What are the pressing questions you have?

BLACKWELL: Well listen, Dexter Wade, a 37-year-old man in Jackson, Mississippi -- he will be buried on Monday. But that will be his second burial because back in March of this year, his mother reported him missing on March 14.


Five -- nine days earlier on March 5, he was actually struck by an off-duty Jackson police officer and killed. They identified him from something in his pocket. They tried to contact her, they say, but his mother, Bettersten Wade, says she never got any contact. They buried him without notification to his family in a pauper's grave.


BLACKWELL: Not until August was she notified. So remember, she had given them information about him days after they'd identified him. She didn't find out until August. We have Ben Crump. We have his mother on to talk about what those months were like. What they want from the police officers. And how this could have happened that they had an identified person and also a missing person report matching Dexter Wade and they could not give notification before they buried him.

There is not an independent autopsy, Ben Crump says that he's ordered, that reveals some really disappointing findings for the family. So we're going to try to get to the bottom of this -- how did it happen? The police department says they're already putting in some changes to make sure they'd be better about notification.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, critical questions on a very important story.

Victor Blackwell, we'll watch every Saturday. Thanks for joining us as always on a Friday.

BLACKWELL: Thanks, guys.

MATTINGLY: Be sure to catch "FIRST OF ALL WITH VICTOR BLACKWELL" at 8:00 a.m. tomorrow right here on CNN.

And in today's Beyond the Call, Chicago police officer James Mendoza had never run a marathon, let alone running a marathon wearing 30 pounds of tactical gear. But he did just that to help families of fellow officers who were killed or injured on the job.

CNN's Whitney Wild has the story.


WHITNEY WILD, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When Chicago native and adventure photographer Dean Tatooles snapped this photo he had no idea what he'd captured.

DEAN TATOOLES, PHOTOGRAPHER: I was like that's kind of odd there's a police -- a Chicago police officer in the middle of the runners.

WILD (voice-over): The man in the picture, Chicago police officer James Mendoza. That day, he wasn't running security; he was running in solidarity.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go! Let's go!

TATOOLES: And then I saw he was wearing a bib. And then I saw he was wearing all the tactical gear. And I was like this is unbelievable.


WILD (on camera): Weren't you nervous?

MENDOZA: Yes, very nervous. Actually, it was like something -- I was like oh. I was like am I going to finish? WILD (voice-over): Doubt makes sense. Before October 8, Officer

Mendoza had never run a marathon, let alone in 30 pounds of police gear.

MENDOZA: It was a challenge so I was like you know what, I'm going to do it.

WILD (voice-over): Mendoza raced to raise money for the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation, an organization that helps families of Chicago police officers killed or severely injured on the job.

MENDOZA: His name is Paul Bauer.

WILD (voice-over): Commander Paul Bauer was one of Mendoza's first bosses at CPD. In February 2018, Bauer was shot and killed on duty. His death left a mark on Mendoza.

WILD (on camera): What do you miss the most about him?

MENDOZA: Oh, his leadership. His smile. His -- everything that -- you know, he encouraged everyone.

Whenever an officer gets killed in the line of duty everybody mourns. We treat everybody like a family. So I wanted to do it -- like I said, a tribute to them.

WILD (on camera): Take care of yourself this year. We need you next year.

WILD (voice-over): The former CPD commander Maureen Biggane now works for the foundation and calls Mendoza an inspiration.

MAUREEN BIGGANE, FORMER COMMANDER, CHICAGO POLICE DEPARTMENT: It's truly just heartwarming. It shows how proud he is to be a Chicago police officer. He showed up and represented in a very, very powerful way.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Smile, bro. Come on.

WILD (voice-over): Altogether, Mendoza raised more than $2,000. He says remembering those who gave it all, a heavy load hardly felt like a burden.

WILD (on camera): How did you feel when you crossed the finish line?

MENDOZA: I was -- it was amazing. One of the biggest accomplishments I've done in my life.

WILD (voice-over): Whitney Wild, CNN, Chicago.


HARLOW: Wonderful to see that.

Ahead, an alarming rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia at America's schools. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona joins us live about what the federal government is now doing.

MATTINGLY: And the IDF presenting new video of what it says is a Hamas tunnel opening at the Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza. We're going to be live in Israel ahead. Stay with us.



MATTINGLY: We have exclusive new reporting this morning. The Department of Education has launched investigations into seven schools after receiving complaints about alleged incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia. That is according to an administration official. The investigations include five antisemitism cases and two Islamophobia cases. Among the schools, a K-12 school in Kansas and six colleges, including Cornell, Columbia, and the University of Pennsylvania.

College campuses have seen a rise in tension over the Israel-Hamas war.

Joining us now to discuss all of this, Education Sec. Miguel Cardona. We appreciate your time, sir. Thanks for coming here.

I know you've said in the past that there was an uptick in basically, the filing of concerns about this. How many investigations do you think that will lead to? We already have these initial batches. Are more coming?

MIGUEL CARDONA, EDUCATION SECRETARY: Yeah, I anticipate more are coming. Look, thank you for having me here, Phil.

First of all, we take the responsibility very seriously to protect students' freedom to learn in an environment that's free of hate and the feeling of threatening. We've spoken to students at different universities. We've been in over five different states and listened to parents and students who feel under attack and threatened of learning, and we take that very seriously. We're a civil rights agency and we're protecting the rights of students to learn.

MATTINGLY: The I think kind of ultimate hammer that you guys have in your toolkit is to --


MATTINGLY: -- cut off funding -- federal funding. There are steps before that.


MATTINGLY: What would lead you to cut off funding from one of these places?

CARDONA: Look, if an institution refuses to follow the law, to protect students, we would withhold dollars.

That said, as you mentioned, I haven't spoken to a college leader that doesn't want to do everything they can. Right now, what we're doing is helping -- giving them resources. We have a repository of resources we put together. We're making it accessible on our website. We want to be very open and transparent with the process of providing support.


I have met with college leaders. I've met with superintendents. Later today, I have a meeting here in New York with another group of leaders. The goal is to help build their capacity but be very direct that that's a responsibility as a leader to protect students.

MATTINGLY: You've been in education your entire career. You've been traveling the country the last several weeks as of this moment, which I think is extraordinarily complex but also very tense. Have you ever seen it like this before?

CARDONA: No. It's -- the level of intensity is really high and I think we need to match it with a level of response that meets the moment. We need to be listening to our students. We need to let them know that they will be safe in our schools. That we're not going to tolerate hate or threats on campus.

So it is intense but we are committed to making sure that they feel safe and that their parents feel supported making sure that their children are safe. Many of these students are 200, 300 miles away from their parents.

I talked to a student at Towson University recently who broke down emotionally. Just -- she's far away from home, and I'm thinking if that were my kid.

I want all parents to feel that their kids are safe and that we're doing everything in our power to protect them.

MATTINGLY: That's what I was going to ask -- if you could expand on that. What is the message to parents right now because to your point, I can't imagine having a kid in college right now. It'd be terrifying.


MATTINGLY: What do you say to them?

CARDONA: That your child should be unapologetic about who they are -- expressing who they are. They shouldn't have to hide their identity to learn on campus or in a K-12 institution. And that it's our responsibility to protect them and we're doing everything in our power to enforce that. And if we see that there are places that are not doing it we're going to open up an investigation. We're going to provide support but we're going to open up an investigation to make sure that we're doing our job as educators.

MATTINGLY: How do you find the balance here in the sense of free speech versus discrimination? It's been a gray area forever. It's certainly not getting easier to figure out right now. You have actual tools and enforcement power here.

What is the balance? Is there a threshold?

CARDONA: Yeah. You know, and we're bringing together college leaders and K-12 leaders and we're getting great examples.

Colleges should be places where students could express themselves and it's OK to have different beliefs and it's OK to express those different beliefs. But when it becomes a threat to students or when students can't feel safe walking from their dorm to their classroom because they're afraid that they're going to get harmed, that's unacceptable. We must protect students at all costs.

MATTINGLY: I want to ask you -- and I think this actually all ties together. But there's been a bunch of stories about the viral nature of a TikTok video of people reading the letter from Osama bin Laden. It's stunning to those of us who were alive during 9/11 and yet, millions upon millions of people have viewed it.

Does that say something about the education system, about social media platforms, about algorithms?


MATTINGLY: How do you view that as the Education Secretary?

CARDONA: You're right, Phil, it is stunning. I was a school principal when that happened and that impacted how we taught students and how we protected students that day.

I do believe it is a lot -- there is a lot of misinformation and we have a responsibility collectively to make sure we're guiding students on how to look for misinformation and how to be educated consumers of information. But I also think we need to continue to work with parents to make sure that they're aware of what tools they have at their disposal to limit misinformation from students and protect their students.

MATTINGLY: Last one before I let you go. We've talked about the number of complaints being filed.


MATTINGLY: There's been an uptick. You've seen the launch of the investigations.

What do universities need to know to avoid something like this? And I assume you are in constant conversations --


MATTINGLY: -- with them. But in this moment, I guess, what's the threshold for the investigations that have been launched? What triggered them?

CARDONA: Well, what they need to know is number one, they have to be open and honest about what's happening on their campus. Communicate with students and communicate with families regularly. Be visible and recognize that while students do have the right to express themselves, there's a threshold that has to be communicated very clearly what they can't do.

The resources that we have online are available to them. Our offices are available for technical assistance. We want to support them in this work but at the end of the day, they should know that if they're not protecting students we are going to investigate. And if we have to, we will withhold dollars.

MATTINGLY: And your point being that it is very clear they know the line. You guys lay out the line. You have detailed the line. And if they cross the line or the line gets crossed they should be aware of it.

CARDONA: There is a line. We can work with them to make sure that based on their situation they're getting the support that they need, but they need to be clear.

MATTINGLY: Secretary Miguel Cardona, we appreciate it. Thank you, sir.

CARDONA: Thank you.

HARLOW: So, a jury has unanimously found David DePape guilty of attacking Paul Pelosi, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband. DePape was convicted of assault and attempted kidnapping of a federal official. He hit the 83-year-old in the head with a hammer in October of last year, leaving Mr. Pelosi hospitalized for six days with a fractured skull and other injuries.

DePape testified in his own defense on Tuesday. He apologized and explained some of the conspiracy theories that had motivated his actions. And he now faces up to 50 years in prison.

MATTINGLY: Well, a judge has declared a mistrial for the former Louisville police officer charged in connection with the fatal shooting of Breonna Taylor. Prosecutors allege Brett Hankison --