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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

IDF: Israeli Troops Kill Dozens Of Hamas Operatives; Mike Pence Suspends Campaign For President; "Friends" Star Matthew Perry Dead At 54. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired October 30, 2023 - 05:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: The IDF says dozens of Hamas operatives who had barricaded themselves in buildings and tunnels were killed overnight. It says an Israeli aircraft guided by ground troops hit a Hamas staging post with more than 20 militants inside. The IDF says a guided fighter jet also struck near a university where troops have identified armed terrorists and an anti-tank missile launching post.

Let's bring back CNN's Rafael Romo in Tel Aviv. Rafael, a CNN analysis has found Israeli troops have advanced more than two miles into Gaza as part of the second stage of this war against Hamas. What do you expect in the coming hours and days?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. What I can tell you is what the IDF spokesman Daniel Hagari said just about 30 minutes ago. And what he said is that this is only going to intensify. They're going to bring in more troop -- more troops and additional forces that will enter the Gaza Strip, and they did so overnight. And the activity will only grow more intense in the coming hours and days.

Let me read a statement of what he said. He said, "We are operating an expanded ground operation moving toward the terrorists. While the terrorists were centralized at compounds and then we attack from the air. This is how we attack dozens of terrorists. We move from the ground and then we attack from the air." That's what he said. So that gives you a good idea of what they are talking about here.

But let me tell you, over the last 24 hours or so, the IDF said that they have targeted over 600 terror targets, including weapon depots and dozens of anti-tank missile launching positions, as well as hideouts and staging grounds used by Hamas.

Israeli troops have advanced more -- as you said before, more than two miles -- that's about three kilometers -- into Gaza in their expanding ground operation. This is according to a CNN analysis -- something that continued overnight. And the IDF said that they killed dozens of terrorists who had barricaded themselves in buildings and tunnels, and who, at points, tried to attack Israeli soldiers in charge of the offensive.

And just to give you an idea Kasie about how the offensive is being carried out on the ground, the Israel Defense Forces says aircraft guided by troops on land struck a staging post with over 20 Hamas militants inside. And did the same at Al-Aqsa University in Gaza where, according to the IDF, the militant Islamist organization had an anti-tank missile launching post.

Over the last several days now, we have seen signs that instead of an all-out ground invasion, the Israel Defense Forces may have chosen to do targeted raids into Gaza followed by gradual incursions of troops.

A big concern here in the Middle East, of course, is that this conflict may boil over. Earlier today, the Israeli military said that its aircraft struck military infrastructure in Syrian territory in response to launches toward Israel coming from the country.

And national security adviser Jake Sullivan said in an interview on Sunday that the U.S. sees an elevated risk of a spillover conflict in the region as the Iranian proxies continue targeting American troops stationed here in the Middle East.

So, as you can --

HUNT: Yeah.

ROMO: -- see, Kasie, a very volatile mix of situations here on the ground.

Back to you.

HUNT: All right, Rafael Romo. Thank you very much for that report.

And joining us now is Avi Mayer, the editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post. Avi, it's very nice to see you as always.

I want to ask you about the second phase of this war here and particularly, how it intersects with getting the hostages out of Gaza. How are the hostage -- the families of the hostages reacting as this unfolds?

AVI MAYER, EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, JERUSALEM POST (via Skype): Well, look, as you can understand, the families of the hostages are in a tremendous state of anxiety. They have been for several weeks now. Of course, there had been concern that Hamas would follow through on its initial threat to execute hostages if Israel pressed forward with its military campaign. We don't whether or not that has happened.

The prime minister did relate to this question in his press conference two nights ago. He said that there's no contradiction between this military campaign, which is targeted at Hamas to ensure that it doesn't have the capacity to carry out a massacre like October 7 ever again, and efforts to return the hostages home.

There are various analysts who suggest that this campaign will apply pressure on Hamas, which will push them to loosen their demands and perhaps release those hostages sooner, but we don't know exactly what's going to happen.

Of course, the families are very much in a state of anxiety and great concern at this time. HUNT: No, of course.

Avi, let's talk about what's going on around the world because there, frankly, have been a series of disturbing incidents, the most intense of which was in recent hours was the crowd that stormed the Dagestan airport in Russia after the arrival of a flight from Tel Aviv. I mean, this mob seemed to descend on obviously, Israelis coming to Russia from Tel Aviv.


There also have been some incidents here at American Universities. At Cornell, the closure of a kosher dining hall.

I mean, what -- you're watching this video. I mean, how do -- how does that -- I just -- I'm a little astonished this is where we are, but I want to know kind of what you feel and what you see as you watch that.

MAYER: Look, it's horrifying. What we've seen in the past few weeks is a wave of anti-Semitism coursing through the world -- through European capitals, through American college campuses, and as you said, now in this airport in Russia.

This is simply the manifestation of antizionism and anti-Semitism. That's what we've known was the truth all along that Israel is a pretext for efforts to attack Jews and their identity, and that's what we see happening in these places.

When you have crowds -- mobs going to an airport and looking airplane- to-airplane and saying where are the Jews, as we have seen them being documented saying; when you have, as you said, a kosher dining hall in Cornell that was shut down with a police cordon because there death threats against Jewish students; when you have college campuses where Jews are simply afraid to leave their dorms and have been told to minimize their Jewish identifying characteristics and Jewish stars and like, this is an extremely worrisome situation.

And, of course, we urge all authorities to do whatever they can to ensure that the Jewish communities are safe at this time.

HUNT: Yeah, really very, very difficult.

Let's turn back to your sort of domestic politics. Politics may not be exactly the right word. But the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, faced some criticism after he singled out the intelligence agencies for criticism, saying he wasn't warned about what happened.

What's the backstory there?

MAYER: Look, for several weeks now, there have been calls for the prime minister to take responsibility as the leaders of the military have already done. There have been a succession of military leaders, both present and past, who have said yes, we bear some responsibility for the tremendous failures that led to the October 7 Hamas massacre.

But the prime minister has, thus far, refused to take responsibility. He was asked point-blank at that press conference two nights ago whether he would take responsibility. He said well, that's something that we'll deal with after this campaign is over.

Then, of course, in the middle of the night, he put out this tweet basically, as you said, blaming the leaders of Israel's military intelligence for the failure. He then deleted that tweet and apologized for it.

There's a lot of frustration in Israel that the prime minister, the leader of this country, has been the one individual who has failed to take responsibility for his role in October 7. I suspect that we're going to see a reckoning when all the warfare finally concludes.

HUNT: Yeah, it's certainly -- history would show that previous Israeli prime ministers who oversaw situations that may bear some similarity have not faired well in the wake once the accounting has happened after the hostilities have ceased.

Avi Mayer, editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post. Thank you very much for being with us. I really appreciate it.

MAYER: Thank you for having me.

HUNT: And coming up here for us, Mike Pence drops out of the 2024 presidential race. How that reshapes or doesn't reshape the field.

And remembering Matthew Perry.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How would you like to be remembered?

MATTHEW PERRY, ACTOR: I would like to be remembered as somebody who lived well, loved well, was a seeker, and his paramount thing is that he wants to help people. That's what I want.




COLIN JOST, CAST MEMBERS, NBC "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE": Earlier today, Mike Pence officially ended his presidential campaign. He made the decision after he consulted with God and God said, "Dude, you're embarrassing both of us."


HUNT: That was "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE" poking a little fun at the former vice president after he announced he is dropping out of the 2024 race.

He suspended his campaign in the face of low poll numbers and financial challenges, unsure if he was going to qualify for the third debate. Pence spoke this weekend in Las Vegas vowing to help elect, quote, "principled Republican leaders."

Joining us now is Tia Mitchell, Washington correspondent for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Tia, good morning to you.

Mike Pence dropping out. He clearly faced mounting financial challenges. Honestly, that's often the first thing that pushes candidates like this out of the race.

But his story arc -- from the one who stood next to Donald Trump, often gazing up at him in a way that invited ridicule on shows like "SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE," to the man who certified the election in the wake of January 6 -- held fast there -- that ultimately led to rejection from Republican voters.

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION (via Webex by Cisco): Yeah, and it was just so interesting. First of all, good morning to you as well. But this was so interesting -- the lane that Mike Pence tried to create for himself.

Yes, he did distance himself from former President Trump at times on policy, at times on January 6, but it's not like he was in the same lane as Chris Christie as a clearly anti-Trump candidate. He still spoke fondly, for example, of his four years serving as Trump's vice president.

So it just became really difficult for him on one hand to tie himself to Trump in a lot of ways, but then distance himself from Trump but not in a full-throated measure all the time.


And I think Republican voters just -- quite frankly, because the party still aligned with Trump still, that put Vice President -- former Vice President Pence out of step with the party base in a lot of ways.

HUNT: Yeah. I mean, I think it's worth reminding everyone that the mob that stormed the Capitol on January 6 was chanting "Hang Mike Pence" -- and it says a lot about the state of the Republican Party, shall we say.

But look, speaking of Trump, I want to ask you about a couple of things he has going -- namely, trials -- because that's occupying a lot of the former president's time right now.

First, the gag order in the -- in the case here in Washington -- the federal case against him -- was reinstated over the weekend. We're still trying to get the details exactly of it. But we know that Trump has already reacted, saying it's unconstitutional. But it is there and we've seen some repercussions of his ignoring the gag order in the New York civil case.

Do we expect him to actually follow this? And what might happen if he doesn't?

MITCHELL: Well, yes, he has faced a couple of fines in the New York civil case. But I would argue that where the gag orders exist, or in the case in Fulton County where there are limitations on what he can say as a -- as a condition of his bail release, it has at least caused the former president to consider the ramifications of some of the things he says. And I think there is evidence that he changes his tone somewhat when these orders are in place.

Now, again, what we've seen is some of the courts -- particularly, the one in New York -- haven't always considered him 100 percent compliant. But I think, again, in the case of the federal case where when the gag order was suspended he wasn't saying some of the things, and then when there was a suspension for that week or so he kind of went back to his older way. Now we'll see what happens now that his attorneys have let him know it's back in place.

Yes, he's criticized the order but will that cause him to stop some of the criticisms that could violate the gag order itself?

HUNT: Yeah.

The other thing that's going today is the bench trial out in Colorado is going to get started. This is actually -- you know, it's a key test around the 14th Amendment, which is the ballot disqualification possibility. Anyone who engaged in insurrection barred from appearing on the ballot.

What are you watching for out of that trial, and do you think this could ripple across the country?

MITCHELL: Yeah. I'm watching -- I actually covered something similar because there's a group that brought similar concerns about Marjorie Taylor Greene in hopes of keeping her off the ballot in 2022. The judge basically ruled that there wasn't enough evidence and threw the case out.

So what we'll be looking for is whether the judge decides to engage. Because even before you get to whether what Trump's actions were -- could be considered aiding an insurrection -- the judges will decide if you can even apply the law in this way to Trump as a candidate.

It's very interesting constitutional issues that were raised. A lot of people believe that ultimately, this will end up at the U.S. Supreme Court.

But again, in Marjorie Taylor Greene's case, she made some of the same arguments Trump made -- that she was just challenging her thoughts on the election, her First Amendment rights, but that she, herself, did not contribute to the violence of that day.

So we'll see the arguments that the former president makes and we'll see whether the court decides to engage on the issue at all.

HUNT: All right.

Tia Mitchell of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Thank you very much for being with us this morning. I appreciate it. All right. In New York, fans have been seen paying respects to the late Matthew Perry, leaving flowers and other mementos outside the apartment building from "FRIENDS." The beloved actor died in an apparent drowning accident at his Los Angeles home on Saturday, according to the L.A. Times. A law enforcement source tells CNN there's no foul play suspected but Perry's death is under investigation.

Let's bring in Elisabeth Garber-Paul, the culture editor at Rolling Stone. Elisabeth, good morning.

So many of us came of age -- grew up with this show, with Matthew Perry -- with Chandler Bing, honestly, is who he is forever in my head as.

What did he mean for you?

ELISABETH GARBER-PAUL, CULTURE EDITOR, ROLLING STONE (via Webex by Cisco): I mean, yeah, he was just such an icon as part of "FRIENDS." I think the entire group -- you know, growing up watching them. He was -- he was the comedic heart of the show.


As Alan Sepinwall wrote in Rolling Stone over the weekend, without him this show could kind of slide into being overly sentimental.

But he was always the one kind of bringing it back to the center. And he was the one that you could rely on for a quick joke. And he was just such the heart of it. And to lose him so young is just devastating.

HUNT: I know -- 54 years old. And, of course, Perry was extraordinarily candid about his struggles with addiction. He told People magazine last year that he was surprised by his own resilience and that there are other people who -- he was -- he was almost amazed to be alive, is kind of how I think he put it.

What do you think that meant to others who were struggling with similar challenges?

GARBER-PAUL: I mean, I think having somebody just being, like you said, so candid about his struggles was really inspirational, and to see him be so resilient and to go through rehab so many times. I think he joked that he spent $9 million trying to get sober. And the fact that he was able to be so honest about those struggles, I think for other people going through the same thing that meant a lot.

And he -- you know, I think that will be part of his legacy is that he really wanted to help others and spent his time, his celebrity, his money trying to get others the same kind of help that he was able to get for himself.

HUNT: Yeah.

The Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, was actually a childhood classmate of Matthew Perry. He wrote, quote, "I'll never forget the schoolyard games we used to play. And I know people around the world are never going to forget the joy that he brought them."

I mean, Matthew Perry really is someone -- I mean, not just a cultural touchstone here in the U.S.

GARBER-PAUL: No, definitely. I think he's going to be remembered worldwide. I know that "FRIENDS" has been on syndication not just in the U.S. but globally, and many people grew up watching it across the world and learned to speak English by watching it. And I think that he's going to be remembered across the globe and not just in the U.S. and not just in Canada.

HUNT: Yeah.

All right, Elisabeth Garber-Paul. Thank you very much for being up early with us. I really appreciate your time.

GARBER-PAUL: Thank you so much. Have a good one.

HUNT: All right. Morgan Fairchild, who played Chandler's mom on "FRIENDS," is going to be on "CNN THIS MORNING" in the 8:00 a.m. hour. Don't miss that.

We'll be right back.



HUNT: Welcome back.

It was a rough Sunday to be an NFL quarterback. Five teams lost their starting QBs to injury yesterday.

Coy Wire has this morning's Bleacher Report. Coy, good morning.

COY WIRE, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Hey, good morning, Kasie. Good to see you.

Twenty-twenty-three has not been kind to quarterbacks, starting with the Jets losing Aaron Rodgers to a torn Achilles in their season opener.

Yesterday, the Falcons, Giants, Rams, and Steelers all seeing their quarterbacks knocked out. But the most devasting blow belonging to the Vikings and Kirk Cousins. The four-time Pro Bowler leaving the game on this play midway through the fourth quarter against the Packers with multiple reports that he, too, suffered a season-ending torn Achilles.

Just as Minnesota is starting to hit their stride, too. Yesterday's win gave them three straight after starting 1-4.

But Cousins' future now in question. He's 35 years old, in the final year of his contract. And very few athletes, Kasie, have been able to return to the same level of play after an Achilles injury. Titans rookie quarterback Will Levis filling in for the injured Ryan

Tannehill, and he went off in his NFL debut. The second-round pick out of Kentucky had four touchdown passes against the Falcons, three of them to five-time Pro Bowl receiver DeAndre Hopkins, as Tennessee holds on to win 28-23 in their Houston Oilers throwback uniforms.

The Bengals' defense made Brock Purdy's game purdy ugly. The 49ers QB's two second-half interceptions overshadowing Christian McCaffrey's NFL record-tying 17 straight games with a TD.

And Joe Burrow is back. Career-high 18 straight completions at one point. Three touchdown passes, including this one that had Ja'Marr Chase flipping out, as Cincinnati slams San Francisco 31-17. The Bengals have now won three straight; the 49ers have lost three straight.

The Broncos putting an end to their mile-high misery against the Chiefs. Denver's defense wreaking havoc on the Chiefs' Patrick Mahomes -- three sacks, five turnovers. While Russell Wilson -- he threw for three touchdowns as the Broncos sink the Swifties 24-9 for their first win against the Chiefs since 2015.

And there will not be an 0-17 team for the first time in NFL history. Carolina's Byrce Young and Houston's C.J. Stroud the top two picks in the draft facing off. But it came down to the kicker. The Panthers' Eddy Pineiro hitting a 23-yard field goal as time expires. And then watch this, Kasie -- giddy up. Pineiro riding Johnny Ackerman in celebration. The rest of the team gets in on the loving. Carolina getting their first win of the season 15-3.


Finally, Jackson State's Leilani Armenta became the first woman to score points in a division one HBCU game when she kicked not one, not two, but a perfect three for three on her extra point attempts in a 40-14 win over Arkansas Pine Bluff.

Leilani is just a freshman. She's from Ventura, California. She also plays on JSU's soccer team. She was added to the roster, Kasie, about a month ago and she has taken full advantage making history.

Her mom said -- Kasie, get this -- they had no idea -- she had no idea that she was going to be kicking in that game and there she was doing her thing.

HUNT: That's amazing, Coy Wire. I love it.

And obviously, the Chiefs lost because Taylor didn't show up, right? Can we all agree on that?

WIRE: That's exactly right. You got it.

HUNT: All right. Thanks very much, Coy.

WIRE: All right.

HUNT: And thanks to all of you for joining us. I'm Kasie Hunt. Don't go anywhere. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.