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Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) On Israel Investigating Accounts Of Sexual Violence By Hamas On October 7; Rep. Anthony D'Esposito (R-NY) On Zelenskyy's Address To Senators Over Funding Request; New Study Suggests Traders Knew In Advance About Hamas Attacks. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired December 05, 2023 - 07:30   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: You make a really important point that the horror of using this as a weapon of war is widespread. It has been investigated. It has been part of perpetrating war crimes. And yet, you talk about the pushback you got, the criticism you got, the bullying you received. Why?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): You know, I think there was a meeting in Ann Arbor -- Ann Arbor City Council last night -- and one of the councilmembers brought it up and got widely booed.

It is wrong. It is morally wrong. And in many religions, it is morally wrong. So I think people want to think oh, no, it's wrong -- nobody could do it. Let me tell you something, it's a fact. It's happening.

And the stories -- I have talked to rape survivors now from some of these situations. Mothers that have been raped in front of their children. Stories of people from this most recent -- you've heard them. They're horrific. Knives put up women's -- I'm going to say this on television -- women's vaginas. Raping and shooting someone in the head at the same time. This kind of violence is unacceptable.

And I can't -- it was repeated this isn't true. Don't say it anymore. You're not telling the truth. We can't be silent. We have to speak. I think it's a shame --

MATTINGLY: But why? I mean, I think this is -- you know, we saw this with the United Nations and we've seen this with other -- separate and apart from the congresswoman, we've seen this repeatedly over the course of the last several weeks despite the reporting. Jake Tapper and Bianna Golodryga from our operation has been reporting extensively on this.

Why are people slow or unwilling to acknowledge it?

DINGELL: I think because it's a horrific crime. It's an absolutely horrific crime. It is violence against women and people should be shamed by it. It is morally wrong. There are many people who say they are people of faith because it is so wrong they don't want to admit that it's happened.

But it's happened over the course of many wars. We've seen it. The United Nations began to address it in the early '90s.

By the way, it's not just this Hamas is what we're talking about. What's happening with Russian soldiers in Ukraine today? We've got to speak up and be the voice for women who can't be the voice for themselves. That's what this resolution is about and this is a bipartisan resolution.

MATTINGLY: A resolution that you guys have been working on, as you noted.

I do want to ask -- the situation on the ground -- you talk about the horrors of war. Obviously, in Gaza, it has grown worse and worse by the day.

Martin Griffiths, of the United Nations, tweeted "Every time we think things cannot get any more apocalyptic in Gaza, they do. People are being ordered to move again with little to survive on, forced to make one impossible choice after another."

This has been a very complex situation for the Biden administration from day one. Do you believe they're doing enough to press Israel to protect civilians?

DINGELL: I believe the vice president has just returned over there and made very direct messages.

Look, I represent a lot of Arab-Americans, Muslims -- a lot of people that have Palestinian families. I've met with some. They've lost families.

People -- you are right about what it is right on the ground. They get told to move. To move where? Homes have been destructed. There is no water. There's no food. There's no medicine. There's no energy.

We have a nightmare apocalyptic -- you just used that word -- situation and something is going to have to happen. And the drips of humanitarian aid that went in last week have done -- they're not enough in any way, shape, or form. Something's got to happen and it's got to happen quickly.

We need a bilateral ceasefire here that is -- we -- Hamas has got to go. They are evil. Let me be really clear. Hamas is evil.

But what's happening to Palestinian people -- and people start finding are the numbers true? How many people have died? You know what? Too many people have died. Too many innocent people have died. And 6,000 to 8,00 of them -- there's no questioning this number -- are children. We've seen them.

MATTINGLY: Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, a very important conversation. Thank you for your time. I appreciate it.

DINGELL: Thank you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Very important and very powerful. Meantime, researchers at Columbia and New York University finding, quote, "significant" unusual trading spikes on Israeli companies days before the October 7 attack. What does that tell us, ahead.

MATTINGLY: And the shocking moments in Virginia where a home exploded overnight. CNN is on the scene. That's next.



HARLOW: Virginia police, this morning, investigating a home explosion that rocked a neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia last night. Officers were just trying to execute a search warrant on a suspect who is still inside after the man discharged a flare gun up to 40 times in the neighborhood earlier in the day. And the shear force of that blast blew the roof and several walls apart, causing the structure to collapse and prompting the evacuation of several homes nearby.

Gabe Cohen is live in Arlington on the scene. What happened?

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, I can tell you first off, it's still an active scene this morning. Police have this entire neighborhood locked down. Several streets are taped off.

If you look behind me, though, you can see the back of the house -- at least what's left of it this morning. The rubble here is still smoldering there at the scene. If you look up in the trees there is debris from the house. It looks like possibly shingles, although it's hard to tell from this distance.

And on the ground there, there is a big crew of people -- law enforcement -- working to figure out what exactly happened here.

I mean, this was a massive blast. It didn't just level the house, it shook the neighborhood. It blew out windows. People five miles down the road in D.C. could hear the blast. They could see smoke rising from the area.

And Poppy, we now know that this dramatic scene started four hours earlier. Police coming to this area to deal with the man who was living in that home. They say he was holed up in the home firing flares out into the street. He fired about 30 flares, they say.


Police got a search warrant around 8:30 p.m. local time. They tried to execute that search warrant and enter the house. Witnesses say the man inside then opened fire with a typical gun -- police retreating. And then just shortly after that, the house explodes.

Take a listen. Here's what witnesses described at the scene.


BOB MAYNES, NEIGHBOR: You could feel the sound concussion. You could -- you could -- it was -- it was impressive. I've been here for 50 years and I've never experienced anything like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It really did feel like something, like, was attacking us.


COHEN: And federal law enforcement now also assisting with the investigation. ATF, the FBI are helping local law enforcement try to piece together what exactly happened here.

We know that there were, as I mentioned, several officers who were outside the house just feet away when the home exploded. Miraculously, none of them had any serious injuries.

What we don't know this morning is whether or not the man who was inside the house survived the blast. We're hoping to get more information from police in the next few hours, Poppy.

MATTINGLY: All right, keep us posted.

Gabe Cohen for us, live on the scene. Thank you.

HARLOW: Ukrainian President Zelenskyy speaking with senators today after a blunt warning from the White House on Ukraine funding. Republican Congressman Anthony D'Esposito -- he's here next.




JAKE SULLIVAN, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Congress has to decide whether to continue to support the fight for freedom in Ukraine as part of the 50-nation coalition that President Biden has built, or whether Congress will ignore the lessons we've learned from history and let Putin prevail. We're running out of money and we are nearly out of time.


HARLOW: Running out of money and nearly out of time. The White House with that warning to Congress in stark terms about Ukraine funding that is almost gone and that delaying U.S. aid will, quote, "Kneecap Ukraine on the battlefield."

We are told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will make a direct appeal to senators today in a classified briefing in an attempt to help push through the aid that has been stalled in Congress.

Last night, Republican senators warned they are prepared to vote against advancing more than a $100 billion supplemental national security package unless it includes major border policy changes. And this is casting doubt on whether the aid will pass this year at all after border talks have hit an impasse.


SEN. JOHN CORNYN (R-TX): This side of the aisle has been clear that a security supplemental must include funding and policy reforms to address the crisis at the southern border. And if that doesn't happen, we will not proceed.

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I have all sorts of domestic priorities that I care about. I could demand that Republicans pass changes in our background checks laws as a condition of my vote for Ukraine, but I don't do that because Ukraine is too important. This is the future of the world.


HARLOW: Joining us now, Republican Congressman Anthony D'Esposito of New York. Congressman, good morning. It's great to have you.

Let's start on Israel because before Speaker Johnson's Israel aid bill passed by the House, you said the quickest way we can get aid to our great ally, Israel, is the way that we should do it.

Do you think a breakdown over border talks should prevent more funding for Ukraine and Israel this year?

REP. ANTHONY D'ESPOSITO (R-NY): Well, I think that the comment made from the security adviser that we're running out of time and we're running out of money -- I mean, that comment can be used for our national debt. It could be used for our southern border.

Right now, I think that there is a lack of vision and there's a lack of accountability of where the money that has been sent to Ukraine is going and what it's been used for. And I do believe that there's a lack of strategy moving forward.

And I think that when we have our southern border wide open and when we have states and cities all across the country becoming border states and border cities, I think that this is an opportunity. I mean, if we want to focus on time, Chuck Schumer has had the Secure the Border Act on his desk collecting dust for months now. And I think that is one of the greatest threats that we're seeing --

HARLOW: Right.

D'ESPOSITO: -- in this country. I mean, it's -- it captures every news network. And in my home state of New York -- I mean, you have Democrats that are saying that the border is wide open --

HARLOW: Um-hum.

D'ESPOSITO: -- and that changes need to be made. But yet, Chuck Schumer --

HARLOW: Including --

D'ESPOSITO: -- is sitting there with the legislation --


D'ESPOSITO: -- on his desk.

HARLOW: I don't argue with that, including the mayor of New York City where I live -- Mayor Adams.

But --

D'ESPOSITO: Absolutely.

HARLOW: -- this is what you said on C-SPAN in September about Ukraine.


D'ESPOSITO: I think that at all costs, we need to make sure that we need to keep Russia at bay. I also believe that there's got to be checks and balances. We just can't keep writing checks to foreign countries, like Ukraine, and not know where the money is being spent and what it's being spent on.


HARLOW: "At all costs, we must keep Russia at bay." Yesterday --


HARLOW: -- the White House said if you don't fund Ukraine more, this increases the likelihood of Russian military victories.

Is that acceptable to you?

D'ESPOSITO: Yeah. Well, I think the other part of my comment was the one that's most important. We need to know where the money is going and what it's being used for.

This isn't -- we often say Congress is funding, Congress is funding. This isn't Congress funding. This is about the American people and their tax money and it going to foreign countries. And we want to know what it's being used for and where it's going. And I think that's a realistic expectation.

HARLOW: Munitions, for example, for Ukraine -- are you holed up on I want more specifics or are you --

D'ESPOSITO: I want --

HARLOW: -- most concerned by the lack of faster progress in the counteroffensive by Ukraine? Because it sounds like you're backing away --

D'ESPOSITO: I think it's a little --

HARLOW: And it's fine if you're changing positions, but it does sound like --


HARLOW: -- you don't feel the way about Ukraine funding that you felt in September.


D'ESPOSITO: I think that is important. Obviously, Russia is a threat to us. But I also think that there needs to be a strategy in place and I do have concerns that there's a lack of strategy. I think that we have no plan -- or they have no plan that they've really given to us. And, you know, this is a lot of money.

And again, this is not Congress funding. This is the American people and their tax money and I think that we should hold that accountable.

HARLOW: Tell me about the hearing that you're holding today on immigration and the border.

D'ESPOSITO: Sure. So we're -- our Homeland Security Committee -- I'm the chairman of this subcommittee on Emergency Management and Technology, and we're hosting a hearing here this morning on Capitol Hill addressing the effects of the migrant situation on public safety throughout this country.

How it has affected the fire service, emergency management, law enforcement. How it has affected someone that runs a county of 1.4 million people and how their operations needed to have changed because of issues that they're facing, whether it's drugs, whether it's crimes being committed by migrants.

So I think that it's an issue that we've seen across this country. Sometimes, the agencies that are tasked with handling most of these migrant issues are unfortunately now, like we've seen in New York City -- those agencies are becoming -- their budgets are being cut drastically.

I mean, just the other day we have the -- we have the president of the FDNY UFA as one of our witnesses. I mean, now minimum manning has changed in certain firehouses because of budget cuts.

These are things that we need to address because we can't put the safety of the American people -- we can't put the safety of hardworking taxpayers in places like New York City -- we can't put that at risk because there is no plan in place for those so-called leaders who have embraced the sanctuary city but actually have no plan to make it a sanctuary.

HARLOW: Congressman, I'm interested, especially given that you were elected in a Biden, plus 14 district, what you think of what Liz Cheney -- former Republican congresswoman Liz Cheney has been saying recently.

Listen to two of her comments over the past couple of days warning about a second Trump term.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) LIZ CHENEY, FORMER REPUBLICAN CONGRESSWOMAN: One of the things that we see happening today is sort of a sleepwalking into a dictatorship in the United States.

A vote for Donald Trump may mean the last election that you ever get to vote in. And again, I don't say that lightly.

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE, NBC HOST, "TODAY": You think he would try to stay in power forever?

CHENEY: Absolutely.


HARLOW: Do you share any of those concerns?

D'ESPOSITO: I'm confident that the United States of America is the world's greatest democracy. I think Liz Cheney may be a little bit bitter.

Let's be honest. What we're focused on right now is Republicans are the failures of the Biden administration. And yes, I do run in a Biden, plus 14 district --

HARLOW: Um-hum.

D'ESPOSITO: -- or maybe even a little bit more.

HARLOW: Um-hum.

D'ESPOSITO: And the Republicans are on the right side of every issue as we've seen over the last three years in my home county of Nassau County. We now, after --

HARLOW: Well --

D'ESPOSITO: -- a couple of Tuesdays ago election, control every bit of government from the city line all the way out to Suffolk County.

HARLOW: So you're not concerned about what happened on January 6 and what could have happened if Mike Pence didn't do what he did in terms of certifying the vote? None of that concerns you? Just talk about it.

D'ESPOSITO: Right now, it --

HARLOW: Yeah, go ahead.

D'ESPOSITO: Yeah. Right now, it is -- right now, it is clear we have record debt, we have record spending. Our border is wide open. Communities are less safe than they were before. And it is -- it is very clear -- it is very clear --

HARLOW: I know. They're all issues but that's not what I asked you. I asked you about preserving democracy.

D'ESPOSITO: -- that Joe Biden is the President of the United States. And I am confident that the United States of America is the greatest democracy in the country and there will people -- there are people that will continue to fight for that democracy.

HARLOW: Congressman Anthony D'Esposito, we'll watch the hearing today. Thank you for joining us.

D'ESPOSITO: Thank you. Stay safe.

HARLOW: You, too.

MATTINGLY: Well, top U.N. officials warning of an apocalyptic situation in Gaza with, quote, "nowhere safe to go."

HARLOW: Also happening today, university presidents on Capitol Hill testifying to Congress about growing antisemitism on college campuses.



HARLOW: So there is new research that appears to show that stock traders -- some -- may have known in advance about the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel. I know that's hard to believe but law professors at NYU and Columbia University say preliminary data showed that, quote, "unusual and significant bets against the value of Israeli companies" -- so, shorting those companies -- "spiked in the five days before the attacks."

MATTINGLY: Well, they say those bets far exceeded short-selling activity and that traders profited from the stock sales.

Joining us now is CNN's Matt Egan. Stunning on its face when you dig into the research itself. Why do you think this happened?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, this research really is shocking. What happened is the professors here -- they sifted through a whole bunch of trade data in the days before the attacks and what they found is startling, right? A spike in bets against Israel -- specifically, what's known as short-selling, which is a way to bet that the price of something will go down.

Sort of like in "The Big Short," the Michael Lewis book and movie about the housing crash. Except in this case, they were not betting against housing. They were betting against, essentially, Israel not in one place but in multiple places, including a popular ETF -- a fund where you can bet on Israeli companies. They also found this in options trading and in dozens of Israeli companies that trade in Tel Aviv.

And what's so telling here is they went back in history and they saw nothing like this in recent history. Not during the 2020 COVID crisis. Not during the Israeli-Gaza war in 2014. This was actually the most short trading activity in 99.5 percent of all days since 2009.