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Erin Burnett Outfront

Jury: Trump Must Pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 Million In Damages; White House Pushes for Hostage Deal, CIA Chief Deployed For Crucial Talks; Senators Cut Deal To Close Border If Migrant Surge Intensifies. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired January 26, 2024 - 19:00   ET




Breaking news. Trump hit with a more than $83 million verdict for his repeated attacks on E. Jean Carroll. Trump says he'll appeal. So, does he have a case?

Plus, as fighting intensifies in Gaza, you'll hear from an American doctor who has just returned from the area. Why he calls this conflict and what he saw on the ground? The worst he's ever seen.

And new tonight, a potential border shutdown. CNN learning a key group of senators have now agreed to close the southern border if illegal migrant crossings hit a specific number.

Let's go OUTFRONT.


HILL: Good evening. I'm Erica Hill, in for Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news, $83.3 million. That is what a jury says Donald Trump must pay E. Jean Carroll for defaming her while he was president.

This is the woman, of course, Trump was found liable for sexually abusing. $83.3 million is a massive number. There's no way getting around that. It was agreed upon after nearly three hours of deliberations.

Here's how that number breaks down: $7.3 million for emotional harm, $11 million for damaging Carroll's reputation. The bulk of that money, though, as you see, some $65 million is in punitive damages. That's money intended to stop the former president's ongoing attacks against E. Jean Carroll, attacks that he continued even today, firing off some two dozen social media posts after storming out of the court during closing arguments.

Now, many of those did mention E. Jean Carroll. Donald Trump was not in court when the verdict was read. He left shortly before the jury came to a decision. He had to get to an airport so he can get on a plane to get to a political event in Nevada. He did though respond to the decision on social media, calling it, quote, absolutely ridiculous, saying he fully disagrees with the decision and will be appealing.

There is a lot to get to here tonight. Let's begin with Brynn Gingras, who's outside the courthouse in New York, Kristen Holmes is in Washington.

So, Brynn, what happens now in this case?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erica, as you laid out there, it's a significant number, $83.3 million, eight times the amount that E. Jean Carroll was asking for in the initial lawsuit, and as you sort of underscore yourself, I want to sort of put fine point on that punitive damage number, $65 million, but it shows that the jurors really picked up here on what E. Jean Carroll's attorneys were saying in closing arguments, that the only way to stop Trump is to basically hit him where it hurts, which is his pocketbook. They said on those closing arguments that this verdict was meant to punish Trump for what he did, and continues to do, but all to send a larger message that rules apply to everyone, including Donald Trump.

Now, his attorneys said that he shouldn't have to pay for all the threats that E. Jean Carroll received, but, of course, jurors not buying that. As you said, they returned a verdict in just under three hours, a jury of seven men and two women. And while that verdict was read in court, E. Jean Carroll was holding the hands of both of her attorneys and then hugging them after realizing the amount that she will receive in damages.

And as for Trump, as you noted as well, he was not in the courtroom. He did tweet immediately after saying that, you know, this verdict was ridiculous and that he did plan to appeal. Now, what happens next is that the judge will make a final judgment in this case. We expect that to happen in the next few days. But, Erica, something to point out before he let the jurors go, he thanked them, and then he said that they don't have to speak publicly about serving on this jury and actually advised them that they don't -- Erica.

HILL: Which is such an important point. And he'd done that of course we'd heard about that at the beginning.

Kristen Holmes is also with us in Washington.

So, Kristen, you know, as we laid out, Donald Trump was not in the courtroom when this verdict was read. He did react on social media. What more are you hearing from his camp tonight?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erica, he was actually sitting on a tarmac in a plane in New York trying to get out of there going to Nevada for a political rally tomorrow. He was reacting as you said on social media, linking this to Joe Biden, linking this to political persecutions, something he has done time and time again. And just to be clear before I read this statement, there is absolutely no evidence that Joe Biden had anything to do with this case, of course. This is a defamation case in New York. So here's what he said: Absolutely ridiculous. I fully disagree with

both the verdicts and will be appealing this whole Biden directed witch hunt focused on me and the Republican Party. Our legal system is out of control and being used as a political weapon. They have taken away our First Amendment rights. This is not America.

One thing I do want to point out here is that one of the things Donald Trump has tried to do is use this in his favor while he's campaigning, running for president, and sometimes it is successful, not just with his base but also with Republicans who feel like the system is rigged, and those are the people that I talked to even though this has nothing to do with Joe Biden, he has managed to link everything together and then say it's political persecution.

HILL: He certainly has.

Kristen, stay with me if you will.

I also want to bring in tonight, Andrea Bernstein, award-winning investigative journalist for "ProPublica" and "NPR". She also, of course, is the co-host of the podcast "Trump Inc." and "We don't talk about Leonard". She has been in the courtroom throughout this trial.

Ryan Goodman is also with us tonight, former special counsel at the Department of Defense.

Good to have you both with us tonight.

Ryan, when you look at this Donald Trump and his attorney, we heard from her, Alina Habba outside court has vowed to appeal. What do you think are the potential grounds for appeal?

RYAN GOODMAN, FORMER SPECIAL COUNSEL AT DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: So if I were them I'd scrutinize especially the judge's rules what the judge said Donald Trump could or could not testify about. Now, I don't think they have ground at all on the idea he could not testify about the truth of the sexual assault because that had been settled by another jury. They found he was lying.

E. Jean Carroll --

HILL: That's not what this was about. This was about damages. Yes.

GOODMAN: Yeah, which is what just recently happened to Giuliani in his case. It's -- that's classic law, there's nothing really there. Maybe they could try to appeal he was able to testify about why he lied and that could go to punitive damages, so that he has this whopping punitive damage award of $65 million and he could say -- go I was going to talk about that, what was in my mind because that's about the jury's assessment of my mindset, and maybe there's something there, but it's not much. And I don't think they'll get that.

HILL: The number is, I mean, the number takes your breath away. You know, when I heard -- I was sitting in my office and everyone sort of gasp as we all heard this number, as we heard it from reporters live outside the courthouse, you have dug extensively into the finances of Donald Trump. Bottom line, is there $83 million available?

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, AWARD-WINNING INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALIST, PROPUBLICA, NPR: I mean, probably yes, because he does own assets. They're worth a good deal of money. I mean, one of the really interesting things is yesterday in the courtroom when it was wrapping up its case the plaintiffs played a deposition of Donald Trump from the business fraud trial, and what's at issue in that trial is how much money he has.

So, he was talking I have Mar-a-Lago worth $1.5 billion and the Doral Golf course is worth $2.5 billion and I have $400 million in cash. So they played the deposition in that case in this case where Donald Trump is saying I have $4 billion and $400 million in cash and he's saying he has a lot of money.

So he was sort of hoist on his own petard. He's made these claims and they were able to say to the jury he has this. Does he have that money? I think he could certainly come up with it, but, I mean, $83 million is real money for Donald Trump. He cares about small amounts of money. In his licensing deals, he would care about being paid for the robes and hotel rooms people purchased.

So, this is a very big verdict, and I think we all noticed that he didn't do what he's been doing every day, including until yesterday, which is essentially saying sometimes in the courtroom you can hear him saying, I didn't know the woman, I don't know her, or when he was watching a videotape of himself criticizing her, he said that's the truth.

I mean, he is talking out loud in the courtroom defaming her repeatedly there, and then sometimes after court he would give press conferences, defame her again, and that would become evidence the next day. So that's what the trial was like.

HILL: To that point, Kristen, we have seen so much of this play out, and we certainly have seen reactions to other legal issues that Donald Trump is facing on the campaign trail.

Is there any sense in camp Trump tonight that this will stop any of those potential attacks especially at a rally?

HOLMES: Well, surprisingly, Erica, look, you showed all of those posts back-to-back to back during the day, he is attacking E. Jean Carroll. Well, then when he issued two posts afterwards no mention of E. Jean Carroll, no attacks on her.

And one thing to keep in mind he wants to continue attacking her. He believes that he was wronged in this case, but perhaps the message that E. Jean Carroll's lawyers send, which was if you keep doing this, we will keep suing you or the message the jury sent the $83.3 million message is getting across to him. But there is going to be a large question what he will do when he's on the stump when he's speaking off-the-cuff.

And just to give you a little idea what we've heard recently take a listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I meet a woman outside of Bergdorf Goodman. I took upstairs to a changing booth.


It was all made up.

This is a person I have no idea until this happened obviously, I have no idea who she was, and nor could I care less. It's a rigged deal. It's a made up fabricated story.


HOLMES: So whether or not he can stay on message when he is speaking to a group of his supporters unfiltered and is as we know angry about this, that will remain to be seen.

HILL: Andrea, can you give us a sense -- you mentioned -- I believe it was just yesterday, right, there was this moment where the judge admonished Donald Trump because he spoke up when the judge and attorneys were having a conversation and the jury was in the room, in the courtroom at this point. But he said I never know that woman, I don't know her, right, he was admonished by the judge at that point.

When there were other comments made or even when part of his testimony was when the judge said you disregard everything after this, what was that reaction like in the courtroom in those moments?

BERNSTEIN: It was very interesting because Donald Trump obviously wanted to be able to get in front of the jury and say I didn't do the assault. I mean, what he was found liable for is very graphic. I mean forcibly throwing E. Jean up against a wall and forcing himself on her. And he really wanted to be able to say I didn't do it.

And the judge said very clearly, you don't get a do-over. You don't get -- you already had a chance to testify in another case, you chose not to. You're not allowed today come here and relitigate.

And he asked his lawyer, Alina Habba, have you personally told your client he's not allowed to say this? Before she could answer, Trump started to say, I don't know the woman and et cetera, et cetera, and all the things he keeps saying. And the judge only allowed her to ask him a yes or no question, which is did you say this to defend yourself from an acquisition? And it wasn't clear when he was thinking about coming to the courtroom yesterday whether he had in his mind he was going to say I didn't do it.

But by the time he got to the stand, the judge made it perfectly clear that he could not say these things. And one thing that was interesting is Trump's criminal lawyer in New York, the criminal lawyer for the hush money case was also in the courtroom, and there was a question about, you know, would he be violating any kind of criminal statute, maybe Ryan knows more about this, if he got up on the stand and said something a judge said you were not allowed today say. So, that was really what was at issue. After his three minutes of testimony, he did actually storm out. Today

was a quiet day. He didn't talk while he was leaving, but yesterday he did. And he said "this is not America" three times as he left the courtroom.

HILL: And interestingly, his former press secretary -- White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham --


BERNSTEIN: His phone went off.

HILL: Oh, his phone went off. Yesterday or today?

BERNSTEIN: Yesterday, yesterday.

HILL: As he was storming out?

BERNSTEIN: Before that I think.

HILL: OK. Well, it's interesting in her reaction to that last night was as she told me last night on this program was, you know, when she heard him say this is not America, she thought in her mind this is not Donald Trump's America because she saw that as it's not playing out as the way he wants it to.

Ryan, as we look to other things happening in court, Alina Habba, right, we heard some interesting things from her outside of court even today but not the first time. She really got under the judge's skin as well, and she was even threatened, I think he said to her, you're on the verge of spending some time in the lock up, now sit down.

How does the attorney's behavior and performance in the courtroom come into play here especially as we're potentially talking about an appeal?

GOODMAN: So, in this particular instance, I think she hurts herself on appeal because she's not coming up to the line, crossing the line the judge has said. What she's not allowed to say to the jury time and again and again. At a certain point, the judge has to say, I'm going to hold you contempt. You can't go further with this.

I think that's really bad on her part. I teach law students this would be class 101. This is what you should never do in a classroom because she's also in a sense dirtying herself in terms of credibility vis-a- vis the jury. The judge is probably the most credible person in the room. The jury doesn't just have a relationship with the two lawyers but it's also the judge. He's the trusted source.

So for him to tell her you keep violating this and also making false statements that I have to correct on her closing argument, which is little unusual, I think that's not good news for what she's doing in terms of trying to serve her client because the jury is seeing all of that happen.

HILL: Kristen, any word from -- we know they have said they want to appeal. Has anyone -- any of your sources and I know you have several, is there any further indication of what they're looking at tonight? Or is it too soon?

HOLMES: It's too soon but you can hear from what Alina Habba is saying one of the points they continue to try to make and this is something I've heard from his lawyers and not just in this case but also when you talk about the Alvin Bragg case, when you talk about anything that can happen in Washington, D.C. or New York, is this argument it can't possibly be a fair case because if the jury pool is selected from a place like New York, he will not be supported because he's a polarizing figure and it's a political -- a political place and that, you know, any jury of his peers won't actually be his peers.


Whether or not that holds up in any way, I am not a lawyer, I'm just hear to relay the message from the political team, which is that that's something they want to continue arguing in the court of public opinion and saying, of course, this is why it's not fair. And another thing I just want to note about Alina Jabba is that she's really talking to when she gets out there and does this, when she performs in the courtroom, she's really performing for an audience of one.

There's a reason that Donald Trump likes her so much. It is because he believes she's an aggressive fighter on his behalf, so, yes, probably strategically and again I'm not a lawyer, strategically it's not a good thing if you're going to an appeal, but if you're looking at politically and standing with Donald Trump and in Donald Trump's world, that is how you get ahead in Donald Trump's world is by pushing the line and saying, look at all the things I'm doing for you, I have your best interest at heart, I am fighting for you. And that's what he wants to hear, and she clearly knows how to play to that.

HILL: Look, she knows who the boss is, does she not?

Ryan, just really quickly to fact check, you know, as Kristen pointed out, this is -- this is what team Trump wants out there, right? This is travesty of justice because how could he possibly have a fair trial in New York. Just remind us again why this is happening in New York?

GOODMAN: It's happening in New York because the conduct, not the alleged conduct but the conduct of the sexual assault happened in Manhattan, so that's why we're in Manhattan.

HILL: Because it gets tried in the jurisdiction where something happened.

GOODMAN: Exactly.

HILL: Yeah, just to put that -- it seems simple but I think it's important sometimes to remind people that's exactly why it's happening here in New York.

All right, stay with us. Much more to come on this breaking news. OUTFRONT next, I'll speak with a former long time editor at "Elle Magazine" who worked with E. Jean Carroll, testified at her trial. Her reaction tonight to this massive verdict.

Plus, lucky to be alive. An Israeli soldier details in horrific detail what he faced inside Gaza's tunnels, and bullets ricocheting off the walls. The latest out of Israel.

And CNN learning tonight a key group of senators may have struck a deal to close the southern border if the surge in illegal crossings doesn't stop. But will it actually help? I'll ask the mayor of Laredo, Texas.



HILL: We're back with the breaking news tonight. Former President Donald Trump must pay more than $83 million in damages to E. Jean Carroll. A jury awarding that massive sum for Trump's defamatory statements disparaging Carroll and denying the allegations Trump had raped her in a department store in the 1990s.

Carroll is now responding and Brynn Gingras is OUTFRONT live in New York.

So, Brynn, she came out of the courthouse smiling, didn't say a word. What are we hearing now?

GINGRAS: Yeah, Erica, you're right. She had visible emotion inside the courthouse and didn't say anything to the press. But our colleague Kara Scannell getting a statement from her and saying in that statement: This is great victory for every woman that stands up when she's been knocked down and a huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down.

Her attorneys also releasing a statement saying essentially what they said in closing arguments, that you need to stand up to people like Donald Trump, and this is testament to it. And they said standing up to a bully takes courage and bravery.

So, very strong statements coming from E. Jean Carroll and her attorneys tonight -- Erica.

HILL: Brynn, appreciate it. Thank you.

Joining me now is Robbie Myers who testified in this case and knows E. Jean Carroll well. He's former editor in chief at "Elle Magazine". She also met Donald Trump about a decade ago when she appeared on "The Celebrity Apprentice".

Robbie, it's good to have you with us tonight. We just heard there from E. Jean Carroll in the wake of this $83.3 million decision. What is your reaction to that number tonight?

ROBBIE MYERS, FORMER EDITOR IN CHIEF, ELLE: Well, first of all, thank you. And second of all, I just want to say if E. Jean is watching, congratulations to her team. She's earned every penny. And I think that, you know, my reaction is one of relief and joy, and I mean what an incredible thing to happen twice.

But let's not forget about the woman at the center of this, which is E. Jean who carried a secret around for a very long time, right? And those things are painful, and we put a lot of emphasis on, you know, talking about the former president and the way he's behaved and sort of the issues in the courtroom. I was there, I saw some of it.

But I just want to remember that, you know, people forget that women didn't really talk about this much because they were -- they ended up being the victim of even sort of more problems from people like the president, you know, said that she was a liar. So, again, I just want to say I think she earned every penny.

HILL: You know, as I mentioned, you testified in this case just yesterday I believe. You spoke about her performance as an employee, how popular her column was. You talk about giving her a raise.

You also talk about Donald Trump saying he's kind and friendly when you met him when filming "The Celebrity Apprentice".

Did you see his reaction at all to your testimony?

MYERS: No, I didn't. I wasn't looking around the courtroom. I was focusing on the nice gentleman asking me questions and trying not to sort of scare the jury, right? So I -- I mean, of course, saw him there and he acknowledged me and I acknowledged him, and said hello to E. Jean. No, pretty much just focused on listening to the questions and answering them.

HILL: When you think of this verdict, $83.3 million, what do you think the message is that that sends?

MYERS: Well, I think the message is that the jury really believed her, really believed the testimony and that she had been harmed in a really significant way and, you know, should be compensated for that show she could get back to the life that she had. I think that was sort of the whole point, right, was to help her restore the reputation that I work would E. Jean for over 20 years and that she had and still has as far as I'm concerned a really solid place in sort of the journalism in writing but also a person with a lot of empathy who really wanted to help women, that's why she did this column.

So, you know, I think that she, again, really deserved this award and I'm glad the jury saw it. It was significantly higher.


I think that most people thought it was going to be, which I think is really important and very big statement.

HILL: Do you think it was will it will keep Donald Trump from continuing to speak about her?

MYERS: Do you? You've been covering for a long time, you know, as everyone has been. I -- I mean, he -- you know, he's a fighter. He always -- he hasn't been known to pay up in the past, but I do think -- I really think that this is different. I think it's -- I think she brought a lot of -- she had a lot to say, right?

And what I love is how much people are reacting in a positive way, saying, good. She's going to get compensated.

HILL: I don't know if this struck you, you were there in the courtroom, but the judge, you know, kept the jury anonymous. They had numbers and told them not to share names. The fact the judge said today a reminder and we hear this often it's okay for you to remain anonymous after this.

Give us a sense what it was like for you. It's one thing to be on the jury, another thing to be someone testifying in a case so high profile, that has so much attention, here we are talking about it tonight, did it give you pause at all to be a part of something that is so public, knowing some of the blowback that can come from perhaps some of the most odd places that you would never, ever imagine? Did that ever concern you?

MYERS: Well, I'm familiar with it having worked in the media for a long time. I wouldn't -- I was going to testify -- I mean I testified and I was going to testify again because I thought it was important, I thought it was the right thing to do, right? And I think -- and also I had some specific information about E. Jean and I understand her as a writer and a columnist and frankly, also a journalist, but I really thought it was important that I speak to that because I thought it was important to people understanding sort of what she had done but also what perhaps she had lost.

And so I wasn't going to not testify, but you sort of think about that but -- I mean, you're a high profile person, right? And, you know, you know how to take care of yourself.

HILL: Robbie, really appreciate your joining us tonight. Thank you.

MYERS: Well, thank you for having me. Appreciate it.

HILL: OUTFRONT next no burn care units, no tool for treating fractures. You'll hear from an American doctor who just returned from Gaza. He's done over 50 medical missions. Why he says Gaza is much different?

Plus, Biden takes on Trump over the bipartisan border deal and what the former president is now trying to kill.



HILL: Tonight, a new push for a hostage deal. The White House ramping up its efforts to secure the release of the remaining Israeli hostages in exchange for prolonged pause of fighting in Gaza. CIA Director Bill Burns set to meet this weekend with top officials from Egypt, Israel, and Qatar, a sign of ongoing progress as the U.S. seeks a deal.

And this actually comes on the same day that Hamas released video of three hostages. CNN has chosen not to show that video. This as the United Nations' top court ordered Israel to, quote, take all measures to prevent a genocide in Gaza. The court, though, stopped short of ordering a cease-fire.

Jeremy Diamond is OUTFRONT in Tel Aviv.

Jeremy, this is the most intensive effort in months to try to strike a deal here to release remaining hostages. What more do we know tonight?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: There's no question about it, Erica. This feels like the most momentum that we have seen since that last truce collapsed in early December. In terms of the key players all getting together in Europe this weekend, I mean, we're talking about the people who were able to craft that last deal that led to the release of dozens of hostages, a week long pause in the fighting and the entry of humanitarian aid into Gaza.

It's also because we're starting to see some of details emerge of the proposals being put on the table which include the longest ever pause in fighting that Israel has ever put on the table, up to two months of a pause in fighting, the phased release of hostages starting with the remaining women, elderly men, civilians effectively, and then moving onto soldiers as well as the bodies of some 28 Israeli hostages who were also being held as bargaining chips by Hamas.

But we also need to be clear these two sides are not yet at the point of a break through for agreement here. They still remain very far apart. Israel for its part will not agree as part of these negotiations up until now to a permanent cease-fire to see the release of all these hostages while Hamas is pushing for an end to this war altogether as part of this and also hoping to get its senior leaders to escape unscathed.

So a lot of progress being made, but certainly still a lot of work to be done.

HILL: Yeah, in terms of that work that remains to be done, too, as all this is unfolding, of course, we're seeing Israel not letting up in that fight to destroy Hamas and its tunnel network inside Gaza.

DIAMOND: Yeah, that's exactly right. I mean, these tunnels have completely changed the battlefield for Israel. When I talk to Israeli soldiers or Israeli officials, they all talk about the fact these tunnels are far more sophisticated than they expected, and they have really become -- changed the threat level for Israeli forces. They represent an enormous strategic challenge for the Israeli military.

But as so many Israeli soldiers are also finding out, it's also a way for Hamas to ambush them and the dangers that that represents.


MASTER SERGEANT OMRI ERENTAL (RES.), ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: The bullet went in the cheek, got inside my jaw, and took a piece of my jaw under a corner and went down over here to my neck and stayed there.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Master Sergeant Omri Erental is lucky to be alive.

ERENTAL: That's the bullet here.

DIAMOND: Kneeling on the edge of this tunnel shaft, he says he was shot by a Hamas militant hidden inside. A ricochet off the tunnel wall likely saving his life.

ERENTAL: When I turned my flashlight on I saw a gun light like flash -- yeah, a gun flash. And then I felt like 5 kilos hammer that was inside hot lava just like punched into my face.

DIAMOND: As he crawled away from the tunnel shaft, the soldiers in his combat engineering unit killed the gunman. But his brush with death speaks to the enormous challenge Hamas tunnels still present to the Israeli military after three months of war.

BRIG. GEN. NITZAN NURIEL (RES.), ISRAEL DEFENCE FORCES: There is the upper Gaza and lower Gaza. There is upper Khan Younis and lower Khan Younis. It's a very tough mission.

DIAMOND: General Nitzan Nuriel, a former member of Israel's national security council, estimates that Israel has only discovered about 60 percent of the hundreds of miles of tunnels below Gaza.

NURIEL: We blew up something like 20 percent, so a lot of work ahead of us. It's not something that can be finished within a few weeks. It's a question of months.

DIAMOND: Exposing and destroying these tunnels has been central to Israel's mission in Gaza where it has dropped enormous bunker busting bombs that penetrate deep underground leaving enormous craters and often causing heavy civilian casualties.

But there is also concern for Israeli hostages held underground.

NURIEL: We cannot just blew up all those tunnels assuming that -- that hostages aren't there, at least 50 percent of them. So we have to do it slowly, slowly.

DIAMOND: That means sending troops deep into booby trapped tunnels where Hamas fighters could be laying in wait before rigging and detonating them.

In the meantime, many Hamas fighters are surviving in sophisticated tunnels equipped with electricity, bathrooms and stocks of food and water. But for how much longer?

NURIEL: How long they can stay there it's a good question. Not for good. They will not be able to survive there because of all those conditions for, let's say, more than two more months.

DIAMOND: For now, at least, that means the battle rages on, both above and below the surface.

(END VIDEOTAPE) DIAMOND (on camera): And you heard General Nuriel tell me that Israel has only discovered about 60 percent of Hamas' tunnels in Gaza. That just shows you how enormous of a challenge this represents for Israeli forces still, and also when you consider the fact they still haven't killed or captured any of Hamas' senior leaders in the Gaza Strip, many of them believed to also be hiding in tunnels in Gaza -- Erica.

HILL: Jeremy, appreciate the reporting, thank you.

OUTFRONT now, Dr. Zaher Sahloul. He's a medical doctor who just returned from Gaza where he was treating patients for more than two weeks primarily in Rafah and Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

Doctor, it's good to have you with us tonight. I know you have travelled extensively. You've been in a number of war zones and responded to a number of humanitarian crises around the world. You say what you saw in Gaza over the last few weeks is worse than anything you have ever seen. Why?

DR. ZAHER SAHLOUL, U.S. DOCTOR SPENT WEEKS IN GAZA TREATING PATIENTS: Thank you for having me, Erica. I'm still processing what I have witnessed, but there are similarities between what's happening in Gaza and other crisis I've been part of whether it's Ukraine or Syria or Yemen or even after natural disasters.

Civilians are bearing the brunt of the war in Gaza. Many children are being killed. I witnessed myself, unfortunately, set scores of children who were killed after a mass casualty event in Khan Younis and they were brought injured from shrapnel. Some of them died on the spot, some of them died next day. What's more worrisome in Gaza these people have ways to leave the war or disaster.

In Syria, in Ukraine, other places, people had options to flee. In Gaza, they are stuck. They are stuck in a small area that keeps shrinking, keeps shrinking. So most of the people in Gaza are displaced to southern Gaza. My organization was providing health care in Rafah and Khan Younis, and this area is shrinking by the day. By the time we left, the area that 1.8 million -- close to 1.8 million people are living is also smaller because of a new wave because of the new fighting.

And because of that, the war is present everywhere. The victims are very close to the fighting, so no matter how accurate are the targeting or the bombs or the missiles, civilians will be killed because half of the population are children.


So, these are two differences between what's happening in Gaza and other crisis makes Gaza the worst crisis we've been witnessing since World War II.

HILL: I know you want to talk politics and I'm not asking this from a political perspective but I know you also told someone on our team you believe one of the things standing in the way of addressing a humanitarian crisis on the ground is just a lack of political will. Do you see anything that will change that?

SAHLOUL: CNN over the past three months have been always talking about improving humanitarian aid to Gaza, to the people in Gaza, to ease the humanitarian situation, to increase trucks through the border crossings. What we'll witness in Gaza is more shortage of food, of medicine, of clean, of medicine supplies, of fuel, lack of communication because of the destruction of communication.

So the aid is not getting through. There's about 100 trucks getting through Gaza every day. What is needed is about 1,000 trucks of all kinds of stuff. People are hungry. People don't have access to clean water. Patients in the hospitals are dying because of lack of simple supplies like blades and tools for fractures, antibiotics. Patients don't have insulin, there's no seizure medications, no common blood pressure medications.

These things should be happening, should be getting through the border, and what I've understood is that there's no political will from the parties involved, Israel, the neighboring countries and the United States of America to make sure that these supplies are getting through and people are getting some relief in Gaza. We know people die out of hunger and there are signs of hunger especially in the north.

We don't want people to die because of diabetes and patients with diabetes who will need insulin are dying because of lack of insulin. And these simple things are not happening for no clear reason besides the lack of political help.

So I hope that the Biden administration hear this plea and understand they can influence the situation and influence the parties in the region especially Israel, tto make sure that more trucks of aid are getting through Gaza and more aid is distributed so that way people can get some relief, some food, clean water to prevent outbreak, to prevent further suffering of the population.

HILL: Dr. Zaher Sahloul, really appreciate you taking the time to join us tonight for your work in this -- on this war zone and so many others. And thank you for coming to share your experience, which understandably you say you're still processing. Thank you.

SAHLOUL: Thank you.

HILL: OUTFRONT next, sources telling CNN key senators are now considering closing the southern border in an effort to stem the flow of migrants. The mayor of a Texas border city responds next.

And Colorado voters pleading with the Supreme Court to keep Donald Trump off their ballot, zeroing in on his threats of bedlam to make their case. Will it work?



HILL: Tonight, a potential border shutdown. Sources tell CNN key senators have agreed to close the southern border if illegal migrant crossings reach 4,000 a day. This is part of the ongoing border security negotiations on Capitol Hill. It's a deal Donald Trump is, of course, actively trying to kill. It's a deal Speaker Mike Johnson says is dead on arrival in the House.

President Biden meantime issuing a rare statement tonight, calling on lawmakers to pass a bill for, quote, tougher border control.

OUTFRONT now, the mayor of Laredo, Texas, Victor Trevino.

Mr. Mayor, it's good to have you with us.

I'd love to get your reaction to the new detail we're learning about this potential border deal. The DHS would be granted emergency authority to shutdown the border to slow the flow of migrants. Would that be effective in managing the crisis in your state?

MAYOR VICTOR TREVINO, LAREDO, TEXAS: Well, first of all, thank you for having me. You know, in the border community and we're seeing those situations, but we just can't close the border because our domestic commerce depends on our international trade with Mexico. We are the largest port of entry in the United States.

Over $800 billion worth, and about half of that comes to Laredo. So, that is reality we just can't ignore.

HILL: Do you think lawmakers get that part of the equation?

TREVINO: No, you know, you have to live and work here. You have to know what the reality is rather than the perception. As a border community, we have left to fend for ourselves because politics have consumed the narrative, what should be about fixing our immigration system and avoiding a humanitarian crisis.

HILL: Well, to that point about politics dictating the narrative at this point, as we had learned, there was a deal, right, far from a sure thing but still Congress was on the verge of getting something done. And now, the former president stepping in telling lawmakers not to pass it, he doesn't want Joe Biden to have a win. When you see politics playing out like that, how does it sit with you? What do you hear from your residents about that?

TREVINO: Well, if we're concerned, of course, because we need to be careful with the rhetoric we're seeing about disregarding federal law or ignoring Supreme Court rulings because some people are going to act on those words, and that is too similar to what we saw on January 6th, so we have to rely on the federal laws that are concerning with federal issues.

HILL: You know, you said before, too, in terms of the trade, right, and how important that is, and that is part of the equation, right, that perhaps lawmakers don't understand because in your words we need to live the. I'm paraphrasing what you just said but you have to live in the area to understand it.

We see so many lawmakers and see this in both parties come to border. They're there for a photo-op and talk about how terrible it is. What do they miss when they come down for those photo-ops?

TREVINO: Yeah, we're hearing thousands of migrants are coming over the border.


But how did they get here? Why are they coming here? Why are they coming here? Because they're finding jobs here and most of them are not even able to pay taxes, so let's fix the system, allow the workers we need and have them pay their fair share of taxes. This is the kind of immigration reform we need rather than just sending up walls and doing things that are not working. We know what works, we live here.

HILL: Do they listen to you? Do the folks in Washington ask for your input or listen? Because I hear it not just from folks on the border like yourself but from folks in Colorado as well hoping to find a way to allow migrants to work, to let them be there.

They need workers. There are ways to work things out. A number of mayors seem to have solutions, but they seem to be falling on deaf ears.

TREVINO: Yes, and regretfully that's a situation because it doesn't work if you just put walls or put a band-aid on everything, put barbed wire. That is not a solution because migrants will continue to come. Migration has always been a normal trend throughout the years. So we need to find out what would work, and they need to listen to people that are here and can give them solutions rather than doing solutions from over 1,000 miles away.

HILL: If this deal, would you be happy if there was a deal passed at this point? What would that say to you?

TREVINO: We need to have immigration reform, that's for sure. And we need to have both parties act on what's reasonable, what's humanitarian and what's right for the country.

We have to follow our laws. We're a country of laws, so we have laws that are right for our citizens and right for the country and right for humanitarian efforts at the same time.

HILL: Mayor Victor Trevino, really appreciate you taking the time to join us tonight, sir. Thank you.

TREVINO: Thank you for having me.

HILL: OUTFRONT next, more on our breaking news. A jury said Donald Trump must pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million. Of course this is just one of a number of mounting legal problems for the former president.



HILL: Back now with our breaking news. E. Jean Carroll just releasing a statement after a jury awarded her more than $83 million in damages in that verdict against Donald Trump. Carroll calling this a, quote, huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down.

Donald Trump's attorney has vowed to appeal. This of course, though, one of the many legal issues the former president is currently facing including efforts to keep him off the 2024 ballot for his role on January 6th.

Tonight, there's a new filing on that front urging the Supreme Court to keep Trump off the ballot in Colorado. Lawyers representing a group of voters in that state arguing, quote, the most violent attack on our nation's Capitol since the war of 1812, an attack which obstructed the peaceful transfer of presidential power for the first time in American history meet any plausible definition of insurrection against the Constitution.

Trump has asked the Supreme Court to keep him on the ballot saying the 14th Amendment's insurrectionist ban does not apply to presidents, and also warning that a move to ban him would, quote, unleash chaos and bedlam in the country.

Evan Perez is OUTFRONT tonight.

So, Evan, what more do we know about this new filing?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, these voters and lawyers for these voters really focused on the violence that happened on January 6th. And that's what they're driving -- they say should drive this decision by the court. They say that, you know, what happened on January 6th was an insurrection and Donald Trump was the one who caused it.

And so, I read just a part of what they say here. They say Section 3 of the 14th Amendment is designed precisely to avoid giving oath breaking insurrectionists like Trump the power to unleash such mayhem again. And they point out as you just noted that the former president in defending himself against the Colorado lawsuit, the president -- the former president has mentioned that if his name is kept off the ballot, there will be bedlam sort of again insinuating there might be violence if that happens.

HILL: It also comes as a Republican appointed judge in Washington is taking on GOP lawmakers, warning they are putting the country in further danger by trying to down-play what happened on January 6th. The judge saying, quote, in my 37 years on the bench, I cannot recall a time when such meritless justifications have gone mainstream. I've been shocked to watch public figures try to rewrite history, claiming rioters behaved in an ordinary fashion like ordinary tourists or martyrizing convicted January 6th defendants as political prisoners or incredibly hostages.

I mean, that language may sound familiar because we've heard it in a number of stump speeches from Donald Trump. How unusual is it for a judge to make a statement like this, Evan?

PEREZ: Well, Royce Lamberth, the judge who made that statement, is the longest serving judge on the federal bench here in Washington. He's a Reagan-appointed judge, and he's handled dozens of these cases, these January 6th cases. And so the fact he's speaking out really tells you what he's thinking, especially reacting to what you're hearing from the former president and his allies from the campaign trail.

Listen to the former president and some of his allies talking about this.


REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): I have concerns about the treatment of January 6th hostages.

TRUMP: When people who love our country protest on January 6th in Washington, D.C., they become hostages.


PEREZ: And the judge, Judge Lamberth, says that this is preposterous. He says that these people and this case he was resentencing a January 6th defendant who he says has shown no remorse whatsoever for what happened on January 6th, and that is encouraged by some of the words you're hearing from the campaign trail, from people in the Capitol.

Now, where this judge is sitting, right, you can see the Capitol. You can see the scene of the violence of January 6th. And because of where these judges sit, you know, they -- they've been grappling with all of these cases that have been coming before them, more than 1,200 of these cases, Erica. So they know first-hand what went on.

HILL: Yeah, absolutely. Evan, appreciate it as always. Thank you.

Thanks to all of you for joining us tonight.

"AC360" starts right now.