Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Israel Forces Rescue Two Hostages in Southern Gaza; U.S Allies Criticize Trump's Threats Not to Defend NATO; Chiefs Win NFL Title in Overtime Thriller. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired February 12, 2024 - 07:00   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Plans for how to evacuate the civilian population.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Those who say that under no circumstances should we enter Rafah are basically saying, lose the war.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: You didn't pay, you're delinquent. No, I would not protect you.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Trump saying he would encourage Russia to attack American allies if they hadn't met their financial commitments to NATO.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Donald Trump's potential return to the White House could mean the broader American retreat from the continent.

PATRICK MAHOMES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QUARTERBACK: Just know that the Kansas City Chiefs are never underdogs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl over the San Francisco 49ers in just thrilling fashion.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's magic there. When he must do it, he doesn't over and over again.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get a chance to do it three times in a row.


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, good morning, everyone, where I'll be reminded all day, my 49ers lost the Super Bowl, which is awesome. I'm Phil Mattingly with Poppy Harlow in New York.

We are following big breaking news overnight, the Israeli military rescuing two hostages from Southern Gaza in a Special Forces operation. We're going to show you video of the two men reuniting with their families at a hospital in Israel after 128 days in captivity.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: The IDF says that they were rescued from a building in the heart of Rafah after a very intense gun battle with their captors. We are told Israeli Special Forces hugged and protected those hostages with their own bodies as they came under heavy fire.

MATTINGLY: Israeli airstrikes pounded targets during the rescue operation. Hamas claims the overnight strikes in Rafah killed more than 100 people. The city is now home to more than half of Gaza's population.

HARLOW: Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been seeking refuge there with nowhere else to go and there is mounting concern this morning that an Israeli ground offensive could soon be coming.

Let's begin with Nic Robertson. He is live at the hospital where those two hostages were taken. Let's just begin, Nic, with how they're doing this morning.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, they're doing well. Both men were brought here in the very early hours of the morning, about 3:30 in the morning. Their families were informed as well, and their families came here to see them. Fernando Marman, he is 60 years old, and Louis Har, he's 70 years old.

The families say both men have lost weight. The hospital says they're going to give them a full range of checkups. They say psychological welfare is the most important thing, whether they do blood tests, do all sorts of other tests to make sure that they're well. And the IDF say that their medical condition to them appears good. But I did catch up with a couple of their family members right after it all happened.


GEFFEN SIGAL ILAN, RESCUED HOSTAGE'S NIECE: They are a little thin, a little different.

ROBERTSON: They lost some weight.

ILAN: They lost a little weight.

IDAN BEZERANO, RESCUED HOSTAGE'S SON-IN-LAW: Very thin, walking at least, so I can say that they are walking. But I believe that they are still on high adrenaline, and we will see how physically good or bad they are, or how mentally good or bad they are, only when their days will come.


ROBERTSON: So, high adrenaline because quite literally they were plucked out of Rafah from where they've been held in a house for 128 days. And less than two hours after the operation began, they were here in the hospital.

The way the IDF describes how that operation unfolded, covert special forces, 1:49 in the morning, going into a house, getting to the second floor of the house where the two men were being held, getting into an intense firefight with Hamas who were holding the two men hostage there. And as you were describing, some of the Special Forces literally protecting the hostages with their bodies. And within a minute then, that rescue mission, the rescue team, we're told, that the IDF, Air Force was coming in, the Israeli Air Force were coming in, they were hitting targets right around the location, and they had to extract the hostages within a minute of the operation beginning.

They took the two hostages out of the building, took them, they say to a safe place, still under fire, and this appears to account for this heavy intense bombardment around there, took them away to what they describe as the safe area, gave them a quick medical check, and then brought them here to the hospital where they had this -- were reunited with their families. So, it's such an emotional, emotional scene here in the early hours of the day.

MATTINGLY: Yes, understandably so, a remarkable operation. Nic Robertson, thank you for that reporting.

And we'll be speaking to a spokesperson for the Israeli government in just a few moments.

HARLOW: Also new fallout this morning after Donald Trump's stunning comments that he will not abide by the collective defense agreement that is at the heart of the NATO alliance if he's elected president, and he went further.


Listen to this carefully.


TRUMP: The president of a big country stood up and said, well, sir, if we don't pay and we're attacked by Russia, will you protect us? I said, you didn't pay, you're delinquent? He said, yes. Let's say that happened, no, I would not protect you. In fact, I would encourage them to do whatever the hell they want. You got to pay.


MATTINGLY: That's important to know. We're in year eight or nine of Trump not understanding how NATO funding actually works. Each country does have a target minimum spend of 2 percent GDP on defense. That's not a binding contract. There's no (inaudible) where everybody drops their cash in.

Now, U.S. allies are criticizing Trump's remarks and posting messages with NATO's motto, one for all and all for one.

CNN's Jim Sciutto joins us now.

Jim, what's the sense you're getting from international partners about whether Trump is serious about this?

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Listen, this is not just talk. I know it's been dismissed that way by some Republican senators, Marco Rubio, et cetera. We know it's not just talk for a couple reasons. One, Trump has a track record as president. His own advisers have said that he nearly pulled the U.S. out of NATO at the NATO Summit in 2019. At the end of his term, one of his final moves was to reduce the U.S. troop presence in Germany. He spoke about the lack of a need for the U.S. to come to South Korea's defense, questioning U.S. troop deployments on the Korean Peninsula.

So, he has a track record as president where he didn't just talk about these things, but he took steps, right? I mean, there was even a time when he wanted to withdraw from the U.S. commitment to its Kurdish partners in Syria against ISIS. So, there's a track record there.

His own senior advisers have told me that in a second term, they believe he would go further to attempt, at least, to take formal steps to take the U.S. out of NATO. He has questioned the U.S. need to or desire to or interest in protecting Taiwan from China as well. They foresee in a second Trump term that this would not just be talk, that these would be concrete steps taking the U.S. away from formal commitments of mutual defense, as with NATO and Europe, and other ones that may not meet that Article 5 standard, but are long-term, decades- long U.S. commitments, for instance, to South Korea, to Taiwan, and other partners.

That's from his own advisers who have told me that, not just from outsiders speculating.

HARLOW: Jim, Phil and I were really stunned by the statement that the NATO secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, put out yesterday with such explicit language, basically condemning what Trump said, saying that it undermines all of our security, including the U.S., and American and European soldiers are at increased risk. I wonder about other leaders around the world and their response.

SCIUTTO: Listen, it's clear when you look at these responses that they're taking this seriously as well. When Jens Stoltenberg, you and I, we've talked to him many times, this is a very dour, serious, unemotional man. The language in his statement shows that he takes this threat seriously.

And the other point, to be clear, is that defense agreements, deterrence aren't just about what's written on paper, they're about credibility. Do your adversaries, does Russia believe that Trump would come to NATO, NATO's defense, Eastern NATO partners' defense in the event that it attacks? Based on the former president's own comments, Russia might calculate, well, maybe they're not going to do that.

And that's why you're seeing such a consistent and serious response. I want to read as well from the European Council president's statement. He says, they do not bring more security or peace to the world. On the contrary, he's talking about Russia, they re-emphasize the need for the E.U. to urgently further develop its strategic autonomy and invest in its defense.

Why is that important? That is Europe saying, in so many words, we can no longer rely on the U.S. under a potential Trump second term to come to our defense. That's a remarkable thing to hear from your own allies.

HARLOW: It absolutely is, Jim, thank you very much.

Senator Chris Murphy from the Foreign Relations Committee will join us in a few minutes to talk about a lot including his reaction to what we just heard from Trump.

MATTINGLY: Well, also this morning, the Kansas City Chiefs have crushed my soul.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Four-man front, receiver in motion, low snap. He runs and he throws, caught, touched down. It's caught. Hardman caught the ball. The Chiefs have won. The Chiefs have won.


MATTINGLY: For the record I'm not being dramatic. The back-to-back Super Bowl champions took down my 49ers, this stunning touchdown drive in overtime. It was their third Super Bowl victory in five years.

HARLOW: It could have been skill, sheer determination, or maybe it was the Taylor Swift effect. Taylor, of course, was in a box with her friends cheering on the Chiefs and her boyfriend, Travis Kelce. After a quiet first half, Kelce exploded in the fourth quarter and so did fans. Look at this video from a watch party in Kansas City.


MATTINGLY: Our Coy Wire is up early, if he slept at all, in Las Vegas. Coy, it was a sensational game despite the ending. The halftime performance was everything I wanted it to be and more. What was your take away?

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: That was awesome. And I should rip this shirt off. It was all-in, baby. That's when the Chiefs started their comeback. There's been very few events on television, had the gravitational pull of the Super Bowl, most watched program and has been for decades.

And this year's rendition in the party city of Vegas put on a Super Bowl show like we have never seen before.


WIRE (voice over): In the first ever Super Bowl in Las Vegas, Taylor Swift was all of us screaming, cheering, maybe chugging a drink, biting their nails as the defending champion chiefs were down three with 75 yards in front of them in just the second ever overtime in Super Bowl history.

MAHOMES: Just know that the Kansas City Chiefs are never underdogs. Just know that.

WIRE: Patrick Mahomes putting the team on his shoulders found a way to win again, dissecting the defense with his favorite target, Travis Kelce 333 yards passing on the night, two touchdowns including the game winner.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He runs and he throws, caught, touchdown, it's caught. Hardman caught the ball. The Chiefs have won. The Chiefs have won.

WIRE: A party for the ages in Kansas City. At just 28 years old, Mahomes is now a three-time Super Bowl MVP, just the fifth quarterback ever to win three titles.

MAHOMES: I can't ask for anything better than this. And we're Super Bowl champs, Kansas City, I'll see y'all at the parade. Let's do it, baby.

ISIAH PACHECO, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS RUNNING BACK: It's a brotherhood. It's family. Forgive all me. I love you. Showing that you sacrificed.

RASHEE RICE, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS WIDE RECEIVER: We bought it into everything. And, I mean, it's confetti on the floor. I got a nice hat.

WIRE: Andy Reid. 11 years as the Chief's head coach, ten playoff burst, three Super Bowl wins, tied for the third most ever, and Big Red isn't done.

And what's going to be your celebratory meal, coach?

ANDY REID, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS HEAD COACH: You know it, cheeseburgers maybe.

WIRE: Dynasty, complete, a 25-22 win, Kansas City gets their third title in five years. They're the first back-to-back champs in nearly 20 years.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We get a chance to do it three times in a row.

WIRE: Travis Kelce getting a celebratory kiss from Taylor Swift, while Brother Jason and Mama Donna stuffed confetti in their pockets. The most hyped Super Bowl delivers, from Usher's half-time performance through the Hollywood ending that couldn't have been scripted. Anyways, it seems like nothing can stop the Chiefs and their Super Bowl eras tour.


WIRE (on camera): How many Super Bowl titles can the Kansas City Swifties, Patrick Mahomes and this dynasty put together? I guess that would be the next question. And for some, maybe the question is, will Taylor Swift make it to the Chiefs' parade, which is on Wednesday in Kansas City? Next stop on our Eras tour is in Australia on Friday. So, it's going to be tight. But maybe if anyone can do it, she can.

MATTINGLY: Coy, there were two videos that I was kind of obsessed with throughout the night. One was Jason Kelce meeting Ice Spice, which I would love to have been a fly on the wall for that conversation. The other though happened during the game, where Travis Kelce just about ran over his head coach.

And as a player, do we have any idea what was happening there? Because I feel like any other player would be in huge trouble for that.

WIRE: So, I'll tell you what Travis Kelce said. He said, I just ran over to tell him I love him. Of course, we know that's definitely not the case. His coach, Andy Reid, said that he ran over and he was telling him, I wanted to be on the field. Why wasn't I on the field? And he said, that is what I love about Travis Kelce and the biggest moments on the biggest stages, he wants to be in the mix and he wants the ball in his hands.

HARLOW: I love you. I want to be on the field, all right. Congrats to them. Sorry, Phil. Coy Wire.

So, the Senate moving one step closer to passing a $95 billion foreign aid package with crucial assistance for Ukraine and Israel despite Donald Trump's opposition to that as well. Will it make it through the House? Senator Chris Murphy joins us next.

MATTINGLY: And two people were injured, including a child, when a woman opened fire at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston. We're going to have new details coming in, next.


MATTINGLY: Well, the Kansas City Chiefs are back-to-back Super Bowl winners after this nail-biting finish. Wide Receiver Mecole Hardman was the Chiefs; secret weapon catching this final touchdown. Take a look.


MAHOMES: I thought it was a touchdown to this dude at the end of the game and he looked at me, I said he had no idea. I said, dude, we just won the Super Bowl. And he no idea (INAUDIBLE), he didn't even celebrate at the beginning. I'm like, what are we doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey, when I say you were talking about (INAUDIBLE), that's how to celebrate now.


MATTINGLY: Joining us now from the Fountain Blue in Las Vegas is wide receiver for the Chiefs and Super Bowl champion Mecole Hardman.

I want to give you a chance to correct the record because I feel like Pat threw you under the bus a little bit there and didn't give the full story. Tell me what happened when you caught that ball.

MECOLE HARDMAN, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS WIDE RECEIVER: Man, well, he had -- he was right. I blacked out, and I blacked out.


I didn't know what was going on until he came up running. He was like, you're a champion. We just won. I'm like, oh, you're right. We did. And we started celebrating after that. But I definitely blacked out, for sure.

HARLOW: Congratulations, by the way. And for you, first of all, first Super Bowl I've ever watched with my kids, they were totally rooting for you. And it was so much fun to see their reaction when you caught the ball.

You overcame so much this season. You come near the end of the season- ish. You overcome an injury. What did that all feel like when you realized you guys had won the Super Bowl?

HARDMAN: I'm just, you know, overwhelmed with emotions, man. Definitely, you know, coming from the Jets and coming from the injury, like you just said, and just a rollercoaster of emotions. And for the end like this and this magnitude, you know, I think it's just -- you know, everything happened like it's supposed to. So, I'm definitely happy for that.

MATTINGLY: Mecole, it's fascinating because I was watching Hard Knocks with my two older boys in the summer. And it was like, oh, he's perfect for that team. Like, he's a glue guy, he's going to be a great receiver for Aaron Rodgers. And then you end up back with the Chiefs. You catch a 52 on a Niners fan, catch a 52-yard pass to break my heart in the first half. You officially break my heart at the end of the game.

Poppy asked you about the journey. I'm talking about the atmosphere of the team. Like, you came back to a team that was just in a very different place. One, they weren't playing very well, but two, they had kind of a Taylor Swift thing too. What was the atmosphere like?

HARDMAN: You know what, it was okay. You know, I'm kind of -- I got to come back with a lot of energy and I've been there my whole career. So, but it definitely was a good locker room like it always is. Now, you got guys like Pat, Trav in there kind of bring everybody together.

So, when I got back, it was just more so just -- I just kind of fit right in with all the guys. You know, some of the guys that still been there that was there last year. So, it wasn't too bad. Just I tried to just bring the energy and play my role. So --

HARLOW: Can you take us into the locker room at halftime? You guys are down. Who said what?

HARDMAN: Well, Travis say everything. I just say he definitely had a good little speech to get everybody going, put fuel to the fire. And we came out the second half and we're like a totally different team.

MATTINGLY: Mecole, before we let you go, one, I don't want how you're awake right now, and I give you an enormous amount of credit for that. Two, my six-year-old is inconsolable. Unfortunately, he became a Niners fan because I forced him to. I was wondering if you know if he's watching this morning before he goes to school, he's wearing his poster jersey last night. He's probably lighting it on fire this morning. What would you tell him about why he should he should be keeping his head up this morning?

HARDMAN: About being a 49ers fan?

MATTINGLY: No, I don't think there's anything good you can say about that this morning, just generally.

HARDMAN: Oh no, man, just be happy that you're up and that you can be going to school. You know what I mean? That's why I can say about that one.

MATTINGLY: Mecole Hardman, can I just say one last one, in the locker room afterwards, when you were done blacking out -- did we lose him? Okay, the locker room afterwards when you were done blacking out and came to, what was about -- what's your favorite memory in the locker room afterwards with the team when we couldn't see you?

HARDMAN: I think it was Coach Reid who came up and just, you know -- and just got everybody together and just everybody together just celebrate that moment all together. I think that's just the best moment in there, man, and popping the champagne. It just don't get no better than that.

MATTINGLY: Well, I do hope they let you sleep at some point. I know the parade is going to be absolutely insane. Mecole Hardman, thank you so much. Congratulations. You're an awesome story. It was awesome to watch you last night.

HARDMAN: I appreciate it, thank you.

HARLOW: Yes. And shout out to Andy Reid. What a coach. What a coach.

Also this update, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is in critical care at Walter Reed Medical Center this morning. His duties have been handed over to his deputy. We have the latest on his condition, ahead.




JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH: Of course, we're devastated. I mean, we've been here 65 years and have somebody shooting in your church. But, you know, we don't understand why all these things happen but we know God is in control.


HARLOW: That was Pastor Joel Osteen after two people were injured, including a child in a shocking and terrifying incident at his Houston mega church. Police say a woman entered the building with a child at her side and a rifle and started shooting.

Authorities say two off-duty law enforcement officers in the church fired back. The woman was killed, but the child and another person struck were wounded. Ed Lavandera joins us now live from the scene. Good morning.

Tragedy and almost shocking that more people were not killed, what do we know this morning?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is a shock to see that only two people injured, given the number of people who were here. But investigators and church officials say that perhaps the timing is what spared many lives here.

This happened in between services, just before the Spanish language service was scheduled to start here at Lakewood Church, the prominent mega church here in Houston, Texas.


LAVANDERA (voice over): A terrifying scene at one of America's biggest churches.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I started screaming, there's a shooter, there's a shooter, there's a shooter.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We hid about ten of us, ten adults, in a closet, and there was one child in there. And no vent, but we were all praying.

LAVANDERA: An armed woman entered Pastor Joel Osteen's mega church in Houston on Sunday afternoon and opened fire.

CHIEF TROY FINNER, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: She was armed with a long rifle and a trench coat with a backpack accompanied by a small child approximately four to five years old.

LAVANDERA: Houston's police chief, Troy Finner, says two off-duty law enforcement agents working security at the church confronted the woman getting the situation under control.

FINNER: She's deceased here on the scene. I want to commend those officers. She had a long gun and it could have been a lot worse. But they stepped up and they did their job. And I want to thank them for that.

LAVANDERA: However, the child who came to the church with the woman was also shot.


FINNER: Unfortunately, a five-year-old kid was hit and is in critical condition at our local hospital.

LAVANDERA: The chief says it is unclear who fired.