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Isa Soares Tonight

ISIS Claims Responsibility For Deadly Bombings In Iran; Thousands Attend Funeral Of Top Hamas Official Killed In Beirut; Police Say There Are Multiple Victims After Iowa School Shooting; Jeffrey Epstein Documents Unsealed, Associates Made Public; Japan Airlines Collision; Japan Earthquake Death Toll At 84. Aired 2-3p ET

Aired January 04, 2024 - 14:00   ET



ISA SOARES, HOST, ISA SOARES TONIGHT: A very warm welcome to the show, everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, ISIS claims responsibility for the

deadly blast in Iran which reportedly killed more than 80 people. We'll have the very latest for you on that. Then, an extremely tense situation in

Lebanon as mourners attend a funeral for a top Hamas leader who was killed, if you remember, in Beirut.

Plus, police say there are multiple victims after a school shooting in the U.S. state of Iowa. We'll have the very latest on that developing story.

But first this evening, we begin tonight with a chaotic day right across the Middle East as a threat of a wider regional conflict looks even more


ISIS is now claiming responsibility for a pair of explosions that happened at a memorial for Iranian General, Qasem Soleimani on Wednesday. More than

80 people were killed in a major attack that could ripple throughout the entire region. And that's just one of several bursts of violence in Iran.

Let me line it up for you there. The U.S. says it targeted a commander of an Iranian proxy group in a strike in the nation's capital on Thursday.

Over in Lebanon, thousands are gathering in Beirut to mourn the death of the senior Hamas official who was killed in a suspected Israeli airstrike

there on Tuesday.

And this is all going on while intense fighting, of course, continues in Gaza on top of the attacks in the Red sea by the Houthis. CNN's

international diplomatic editor Nic Robertson joins me now for more on all these strands. And Nic, let's start off with the very latest lines and

claims of responsibility here, because some Iranian leaders in the last 24 to 48 hours initially appeared to blame Israel for those twin attacks

inside Iran, but now we have a claim of responsibility coming from ISIS. Just explain why, Nic, ISIS would target Iran and why now? What does it get

out of it?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, and I think one of the sort of things to say here is that possibly, because ISIS has

claimed this, it takes a little bit of heat out of the very heated situation in the Middle East right now, because it is not Israel that was

behind this.

It never looked like it, and now ISIS has taken responsibility for it, despite what Iran said, its president said just yesterday, that Israel was

responsible and would pay a heavy price. Why would ISIS target Soleimani's commemoration? Because they see him as responsible for targeting ISIS.

They see Iran as being part of a coalition of forces that tried to -- tried to kill off ISIS in Iraq and other places. So, that would be their

rationale. ISIS says that they claim that they killed what they call 300 mono-atheists. Now, that's what -- a word they use when they talk about

Shia -- Shias.

Now, ISIS is a Sunni Muslim organization, an extremist, but they do target Shias. They have targeted Shias in Iran before. They have targeted large

gatherings of civilians. They do have a track record of killing innocent people. So, the M.O. fits their M.O. There are some discrepancies in the

information that they've given in their claim of responsibility.

They say 300 dead, the Iranian leadership has said that it was only 84 dead. But it's not a typical of ISIS to overstate their claims. The other

difference is that ISIS said it were two brothers who were the suicide bombers behind the attack, but the Iranians yesterday said that one of the

bombs was in a suitcase that was detonated remotely.

So, again, ISIS maybe has its narrative wrong. They haven't put up evidence so far, but also, not a typical for ISIS to claim something potentially

very really big behind it, but overstate it and get some of the facts wrong intentionally or unintentionally.

SOARES: Our Nic Robertson there on the ground for us with the very latest from Tel Aviv. Thanks very much, Nic. Well, amid the concerns about a wider

regional conflict that Nic was talking about there, Israel is pressing ahead with its war on Hamas, launching deadly new strikes in Gaza. Fighting

is intensifying in central as well as southern Gaza, including the major city of Khan Yunis.


The Palestinian Red Crescent says its headquarters was hit. Palestinian civilians have repeatedly said nowhere, if you remember, is safe in Gaza.

And today, the Hamas-run Health Ministry says a strike hit Al-Mawasi; an area that had previously been designated a safe zone.

The Ministry says 14 people were killed including nine children. Witnesses say some of the dead were shot during intense -- after fleeing their homes.

Far from the fighting in Gaza, the most senior Hamas leader to be killed since the Israel-Hamas war began was buried today.

Mourners gathered for the funeral of Saleh al-Arouri in Beirut. Hamas had blamed Israel, which hasn't confirmed or denied it played a role. Hezbollah

Chief Hassan Nasrallah calls it, quote, "a dangerous crime, vowing retaliation". Let's bring in our Nada Bashir in Beirut for us this hour.

So Nada, let's pick up with the events, really, that took place where you are in Beirut, the funeral of al-Arouri. What was the mood like there

today? Give us a sense of the pulse in Beirut.

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, Isa, we saw thousands turning out to mark the passing of Saleh al-Arouri, turning up for that funeral pair

that took place a little earlier today. And of course, we did see that funeral procession as thousands marched towards what is the martyrs

cemetery in Shatila now.

For Shatila is a refugee camp established after hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to be displaced after the 1948 Arab-Israeli war.

This is an area in Beirut where the sentiment is one of deep support for the Palestinian cause. And there were certainly deep reverence for Saleh

al-Arouri, for many of those people who had gathered today, they viewed him as a symbol of Palestinian resistance.

He was, of course, number two in Hamas' political bureau. He was considered one of the founders of the Al-Qassam Brigades; Hamas' military wing, but

that is exactly why he was also considered a primary target for Israel. We have previously heard those warnings from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

that Israel would target senior Hamas leaders wherever they are located.

Now, of course, no denial, no claim of responsibility just yet from Israel. A U.S. official, however, has said and told CNN that Israel is believed to

have been responsible for that strike that we saw in the southern suburbs of Beirut on Tuesday night. But again, there is mounting concern that this

could trigger a broader escalation between Lebanon and between Israel.

And more particular -- in particular, between Hezbollah and Lebanon. We heard yesterday, that reiteration of a warning from Hezbollah Secretary-

General, Hassan Nasrallah. He spoke yesterday, warning that if Israel seeks to wage war on Lebanon, if it carries out any strikes on Lebanese

territory, the response from Hezbollah, in his words, would be limitless.

SOARES: And Nada, I want to pick your brain and get a sense of what is happening in Gaza in just a moment. Before we go to that, the mood on the

ground there, because it's clear the many -- that this attack took many by surprise in Beirut. What are you hearing on the streets of Beirut, in

cafes? What kind of response do the Lebanese want, either from their government or from Hezbollah here?

BASHIR: Look, Isa, there has been a clear line of difference between the response we're hearing from Hezbollah and the response we're hearing from

the Lebanese government. Many here do not want to see a war break out. But again, of course, there is a deep history between Lebanon and Israel.

We heard from the Lebanese Foreign Minister yesterday, who said that Lebanon isn't seeking a war with Israel, that they are trying to convince

Hezbollah not to wage war with Israel, and that they want peace on their southern borders. And of course, for the civilians who live around the

southern borders of Beirut -- of Lebanon, there have been escalated tensions.

We have seen at the outset of this war seen that near-daily exchange of fire between Israel and Hezbollah. We've seen civilians killed on either

side. We have seen journalists killed on the Lebanese side of the border while they were reporting on those escalating tensions, on the exchange of

fire. For many in Lebanon, there is also mounting concern that this country could be pulled into a new phase of confrontation with Israel.

Many feel that the country simply isn't in a place to see a war break out. Already dealing with its own issues and crises from the economy, from

poverty, for many. So, this certainly isn't something that many people in Lebanon wish to see, despite --

SOARES: Yes --

BASHIR: The deep support there is across Lebanon for the Palestinian cause.

SOARES: Meanwhile, Nada, in Gaza, as we lay down just before coming to you, attacks are escalating around, particularly Khan Yunis. And aid -- I

mean, aid continues to be a trickle. Why are we not seeing an increase in aid? What's leading to the slowdown in aid getting in?

BASHIR: Look, Isa, we've been hearing those repeated warnings from the United Nations, from other aid agencies. They need the security guarantees,

particularly in southern Gaza around the Rafah area, that is that crucial gateway for aid to get in via Egypt into the Gaza Strip.

They need security guarantees in order to allow aid to get in. We've heard from the U.N. Secretary-General describing Israel is facing massive

obstacles in the way of getting aid in. And of course, as we have seen, the Israeli military is now shifting its focus very much on the southern Gaza

where nearly 2 million Palestinians are now displaced, living in these tent cities.


And of course, it's not just a matter of getting aid in, but there are also calls for the situation to be calmed in order to allow for those who are

injured to get out of Gaza. Now, we have seen a small fraction of those injured over the course of this conflict being able to be evacuated from

Gaza via Egypt to nearby field hospitals.

And we actually have the opportunity to take a look at one of these field hospitals just a few kilometers away from that border between Egypt and

Gaza, set up by the French military. Take a look.


BASHIR (voice-over): The familiar, innocence schools of a child. But this child has been through the unimaginable. One of nearly a 100 patients

evacuated from Gaza to the Dixmude; a French helicopter carrier-turned hospital ship kitted out with specialist medical facilities. Doctors here

say they have already carried out 130 operations in just over a month.

With patients as young as three and injuries spanning from severe burns to amputations. "We were going to bed at night, I remember I covered my face

with my blanket", ten-year-old Manaf(ph) says. "Then suddenly, I found myself in the hospital, I don't know what happened."


BASHIR: Like many his age, Manaf's(ph) dream was to become a footballer. The aftermath of the airstrike still painful in Manaf's(ph) memory. Twenty

two-year-old Mohammed(ph) was also evacuated in December after his leg was severely injured.

His aunt says that Mohammed's(ph) learning difficulties mean he's unable to fully grasp the horror they have left behind. "When we call our relatives

in Gaza, there are always airstrikes around them', this civilian says. "They've been displaced over and over again. They keep being told to move

to safe areas, but there isn't a single safe place left in Gaza anymore.

The photos of family members killed seem endless. Nieces and nephews and children seen in this video all killed", she says, "when their shelter, a

U.N.-run school was struck. I hope I can return to Gaza to be with whatever family I have left. I just hope they will be OK. That's all we can hope for

in this life."

Holding on to that hope grows more difficult with each passing day. And while the medical team here does its best to heal the physical wounds of

its patients, it's clear that the emotional scars of this war run deep. "When the patients arrive here, they all have this look in their eyes. One

which makes you feel they have come out of something very difficult", Dr. Huber(ph) says.

"It's a bit shocking for us. We're not used to seeing this look, especially from children." Inside Gaza, death seems near impossible to escape. And for

the thousands wounded, there is no respite. The vast majority of hospitals in the Strip are no longer operational. Doctors forced to work under

Israel's unrelenting airstrikes with limited medical supplies.

Only a small handful of more wounded have so far been evacuated. Facilities like this are few. The evacuation process, precarious. And while the

shattered bodies of these survivors are now slowly on the mend, some have turned their minds to remolding the fragments of their lives back home.

"Gaza is my home. Even if I die, I want to die in Gaza", Abdul-Rahim(ph) says. "We'll rebuild everything, even if we have to start from zero."


BASHIR: And look, Isa, with many hospitals, the vast majority inside Gaza are not operational, the U.N. is warning that the humanitarian situation is

only getting worse by the hour. They are now warning of the spread of diseases and infections. And of course, as we know, the vast majority of

Gazans population now facing an acute hunger crisis.

SOARES: Yes, starvation, that is what the U.N. has been concerned about, I mean, warning about for some time. Nada Bashir there for us with the very

latest from Beirut, thanks, Nada. Well, top U.S. diplomat Antony Blinken will head to the Middle East in the coming hours.

He's planning to meet with key players in the war that sparked this latest surge in violence, the conflict between, of course, Israel and Hamas. As we

mentioned to you just in the last 40 minutes or so, the trip comes right on the heels of a deadly U.S. strike in Iraq.

An American official tells CNN, the attack in Baghdad targeted a commander of a pro-Iranian militia with, quote, U.S. blood on his hands. CNN's chief

national security correspondent Alex Marquardt joins me now with the very latest.


Alex, good to see you. Let's start off with this visit then by Secretary Blinken. His fourth, I think, to the region since October the 7th. And it

comes as we've just really outlined for our viewers in the last 14 minutes or so, at a time of heightened tensions. And we were just looking at a map

right now on our screen, Alex, of really all the facets of the tensions in the region.

We've got the Red Sea where the Houthis have been attacking commercial shipping. We've got this dual attack in Iran, and that attack, of course,

by Hamas leader in Beirut. It does feel very much when I was speaking to analysts in the last 48 hours like a tinderbox. And the fear here, Alex, is

of escalation. What is the aim, then, of this visit by Secretary Blinken? What is going to be his focus?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: I mean, Isa, just to add to that, of course, the rocket fire and the fighting we're

seeing between --

SOARES: Yes --

MARQUARDT: Israel and Hezbollah along Israel's northern border, so you're absolutely right, it is a tinderbox. This is the fourth visit to the region

since October 7th. It is arguably Secretary Blinken's most important yet, and that is reflected in the number of stops that he's going to make.

A very long list of countries all across the region in which he will be discussing not just the conflict between Israel and Hamas, but of course,

the broader implications of that strike in Baghdad today. You can -- you've seen that the U.S. is trying to strike this balance of retaliating against

groups that are targeting U.S. forces and coalition forces, but at the same time, trying to make sure that this conflict doesn't really expand.

And so, what Blinken is going to be doing with the leaders in these regional allies is really to try to enlist them to help tamp down the

tensions, communicate to groups, to communicate to Iran as best they can, to make sure that this conflict does not expand more than it already is.

But as you noted, there are a number of hotspots all across the region. But of course, at the top of the priority list, Isa, is going to be what Israel

-- what Secretary Blinken does in Israel. You know, Blinken is just the latest in a string of top U.S. officials to go and see Israeli officials,

it's clear that the administration wants to keep top administration officials in the Israelis face.

The secretary -- the State Department said earlier today that it is clear that Israel needs to do more when it comes to protecting civilians in Gaza,

to getting that humanitarian aid that you and Nada were just talking about into Gaza. And perhaps most importantly, Isa, the pressure from the United

States is going to be applied by Blinken to transition this fight from what has been called a high intensity phase, what we've seen for the past three

months, to a lower intensity phase in which Israel would carry out more targeted operations.

The U.S. has been very careful to not try to make it look like they're telling Israel what to do, but no doubt about it, they are applying

significant pressure.

SOARES: On that point, I mean, we heard just before Christmas, I remember you and I talking about this, that the U.S. calling for this low intensity

face to start. What is Israel -- how is Israel responding? How like -- how soon will this -- will this start, Alex?

MARQUARDT: Well, the expectation is it could happen in the coming days and weeks. We've already heard from the Israelis talking about pulling soldiers

out of Gaza. Now, one of the big reasons that they may want to do that is for economic reasons. You have hundreds of thousands of reservists who

aren't working at the same time as they're fighting.

But at the same time, Israel has been coming under not just American pressure, but extraordinary global pressure. You know, you have -- you've

had these numerous votes at the United Nations about calling for an immediate ceasefire, which, of course, the U.S. has voted against.

But the U.S. has been applying this pressure as Israel's closest ally, to make this transition. So, the Israelis have been saying for a long time,

this war is going to go on for quite some time. But the hope, certainly by the United States and the Europeans, for example, is that it won't continue

as we've been seeing it now with this extraordinary death toll, where you have --

SOARES: Yes --

MARQUARDT: So many Gazans displaced, so many Gazans who don't have access to just the most basic services and medicine and food. And so, the

expectation is that, that transition will happen soon. But again, the U.S. does not want to be seen as telling Israel what to do. They say it's a

conditions-based approach. What those conditions exactly are, we don't know. But it is expected to happen in the coming weeks, Isa.

SOARES: And I know you'll stay across Secretary Blinken's visit. Alex, great to see you as always. Thank you. And still to come tonight, running

low on weapons, ammunition, soldiers. How Ukraine is trying to keep its war effort alive. We are live in Ukraine with our Fred Pleitgen.



SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. In Ukraine, officials are facing the harsh reality of what could be another year of brutal fighting. Lawmakers are now

discussing plans to change Ukraine's mobilization laws, including proposals to lower the conscription age. It comes amid reports that Ukraine's

military leaders are calling for the mobilization of hundreds of thousands of more troops.

CNN's Fred Pleitgen is in Kyiv for us this hour. So, I'm supposed to say Fred, I was going to call you Kyiv for a second there. So Fred, just talk

us through these plans, this mobilization law and what this could potentially mean here.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it certainly seems as though the Ukrainians understand that they're going to

need a lot of people to continue fighting this war, and I think one of the reasons is what you were alluding to, is that this could be a very

protracted affair for the Ukrainians.

And I think that we've seen them gearing up for that over the past couple of weeks as well, with for instance, the President Volodymyr Zelenskyy

saying they want to produce around a million drones just for their war effort. But then also saying that they need more forces. Now, some of the

measures that they want to take or that are being discussed right now are things like, for instance, lowering the draft age for people who could be

actually sent to the front line from 27 to 25.

But it's also a lot of new restrictions, finds, and other penalties for people who failed to report or for people who fail to report for medical

exams or fail to have their draft documents with them or don't have those ready. So, a lot of that is being discussed. All of these measures here in

the society, Isa, are quite controversial. There are a lot of people --

SOARES: Yes --

PLEITGEN: Who believe that a lot of the measures that are being discussed right now are too invasive, and therefore, they are deeply unpopular among

a lot of people. However, the Ukrainians understand that right now, the Russians on the battlefield have a manpower advantage.

And certainly, if we listen to the top general here in this country, Valerii Zaluzhnyi, he says that he needs more people that can go to the

frontline. He's talking about between 450,000 and 500,000 additional people that this country wants to mobilize.

And he also said the mobilization system needs to get more efficient. But there is one big factor that's at play here as well. It's that after almost

two years of war here in Ukraine, there are a lot of people on the frontlines right now fighting very heavy battles who have been at war for

almost those entire two years.

A lot of those people are very exhausted, and a lot of the families of those people are exhausted as well. You've already had smaller protests

that happened here in Kyiv, where the families of soldiers who have been on the frontlines have said, other people now also need to step up as well.

And there are talks in this new draft bill, and one of the new draft bills that's up for discussion, about people being demobilized also at some

point. For instance, after having served for 36 months, there are a lot of people -- and you can't overstate this enough, Isa, who have fought some of

the worst battles that this continent has seen since World War II.

If you look at Bakhmut, if you look at some of the things in the southern front that happened this past Summer, if you look at places now like

Avdiivka, Kreminna or Kupiansk, those are some very tough battles in very tough conditions.


Right now, the Russians certainly have an edge as far as the personnel is concerned. The Ukrainians say it again and again, that they keep seeing

these waves of people that come towards them on the frontlines. They know they need more manpower, but a lot of people here are quiet exhausted as

well, Isa.

SOARES: Yes, and totally understand, resolve, of course, not waning, but clearly, people are very tired after all these years of war. Fred Pleitgen

there for us in Kyiv, appreciate it, Fred. Well, strong storms are moving through Europe, bringing record cold and flooding.

Parts of Germany were hit with heavy rain and floods. Chancellor Olaf Scholz visited some areas impacted by the flooding. We are seeing a similar

situation in northern France. Now under red alert for flooding, authorities are telling residents to stay out of their basements and avoid unnecessary


Joining us now for the very latest is Allison Chinchar from -- meteorologist. Allison, it is very wet, very windy, even here in the U.K.

How long is this bad weather, this cold snap expected to last?

ALLISON CHINCHAR, METEOROLOGIST: It's a good question and a good point to make to it. This isn't just impacting Germany. There are a lot of countries

that have been impacted by this incredibly heavy rainfall and the colder air as well.

This video here from northern France, again, you can see those streets just entirely under water. And it's not an isolated thing. You've had this

problem across much of northern Europe. It's the low pressure system that has since moved through, but we have this secondary one, it's bringing that

additional rain.

And even though the secondary system doesn't have nearly the amount of rain that the first one did, it's that exacerbation. It's that the ground is

already saturated, and now you're adding more rain on top of it. But as we go through the next few days, that system will gradually move out, finally,

providing those drier conditions.

We still have several areas looking at medium and high weather alerts across areas of France as well as Germany and numerous other countries

until that system can finally make its way out. And it will. It's eventually going to push all of that remaining moisture down south into the


So, more of the heavy rain will now be focused more across Italy and Greece as we finish out the rest of the weekend, finally allowing things to dry

back out. You can see the forecast overall, very dry conditions across northern France and areas of Germany.

The heaviest rain here going to be along the Adriatic Sea. Now, another concern we've been talking about is the incredibly cold air across many of

the Scandinavian countries. Taking a look at some of these numbers, now all of these cities are located inside the Arctic Circle.

But even for them, these temperatures are extreme. All of them reaching colder than minus 40 degrees. And again, for some of these areas, it's

been multiple days of these temperatures well below average. Even farther south, places like Oslo and Helsinki, not in the Arctic Circle, but still

well below average even for this time of year.

We are going to finally start to see that frigid air begin to move out, but it's slowly going to exit. So, you're still likely going to have several

more days of these bitter cold temperatures before we start to see things rebound. Take, for example, Oslo, even through the weekend, these

temperatures well below average.

Talking minus 18 Saturday, minus 16 on Sunday. It's going to be next week, Isa, before we finally start to see those temperatures getting back closer

to where they should be this time of year.

SOARES: Allison, appreciate it, thank you very much. And still to come tonight, police respond to a shooting at a school in a small U.S. town.

What law enforcement officials say they have uncovered. And then later, a new report shows countries like China spent a lot of money at Trump

properties while Donald Trump was still president. We'll have a live report next.




SOARES: Welcome back.

Authorities say there were multiple gunshot victims following a school shooting in the U.S. town of Perry in Iowa. They add that the shooter is

dead and there is no further danger to the public. It is unclear how many people were hurt. CNN's Aaron Pellish is there in Perry, Iowa.

So what more are we learning happened here?

And what we know, at this stage, about the shooter?

We know he's dead but what else are we learning here?

AARON PELLISH, CNN PRODUCER: Well, Isa, there is not a lot that we know currently at the moment. What we do know is that, at 7:37 this morning,

local time, law enforcement officers received a call about a shooting incident at the Perry High School, just over my shoulder, and responded to

the scene.

Law enforcement from all around the central Iowa area responded to Perry, a small town just about 45 minutes northwest of Des Moines. We are learning

that multiple gunshot victims are being treated in Des Moines area hospitals.

As you mentioned, we do know that the shooter is dead. Obviously, a very intense, scary scene for a lot of families in the area. One of our

affiliates, KCCI in Iowa, spoke to the stepmother of a student who said that he was grazed by a bullet at the shooting earlier today. Let's take a



QUESTION: What happened here?

JODY KURTH, VICTIM'S STEPMOTHER: I just know he got grazed by a bullet. That's all I know. I just found out. I didn't know.

QUESTION: Is this your son?

KURTH: No, it's my stepson, basically.

QUESTION: Your stepson. OK. Did he show you the wound?

KURTH: He did. He just showed it to me. I just saw it. And it started bleeding again and we just want to get him checked out.

QUESTION: OK. And -- but this is a nightmare, right?

KURTH: It is absolutely a nightmare.


PELLISH: Absolutely a nightmare. You hear her say it. Now classes at Perry High School, obviously, have been canceled for the rest of the day. They're

also being canceled tomorrow. That postpones what was supposed to be the start of their school semester today.

Now we will be learning more details. We expect to learn more details later this afternoon at 4:00 Eastern time, 3:00 local time, when lot enforcement

officers brief reporters here in Perry.

And we do expect Governor Kim Reynolds to be attending that briefing. She offered prayers to the community here in Perry this afternoon on social


SOARES: Very, very scary, indeed, Aaron. There was a press conference earlier from local officials there. Like you said, there will be another

press conference in about an hour or so.

Did they give any indication here of a motive?

PELLISH: Yes, again, we are still very, very slim on details. So we don't want to jump out and speculate about who exactly was involved or what was

the motive behind this shooting.


But again, we do know that the shooter has been identified, as you mentioned. The Dallas County Sheriff's Department identified at the press

conference earlier today that they know who the shooter was.

And CNN has learned that the shooter is dead. But we still have yet to determine what caused the shooting in the first place. And a couple of

other key details, including how many people exactly were hurt or shot in this shooting and what their status is at those hospitals in Des Moines,


SOARES: I know you will stay across this for us, Aaron. Appreciate it.

Aaron Pellish there for us in Iowa.

The Chinese government and state controlled entity spent more than $5 million at properties owned by Donald Trump while he was U.S. president.

That is according to a report from U.S. House Democrats that has been released today.

Financial documents show the payments were made from the Chinese embassy, a state owned bank and others. The report also shows China was one of 20

countries that made payments to businesses and properties owned by Trump while he was a sitting president.

Joining us now, CNN's Annie Grayer for more.

So just talk us through exactly what House Democrats have found and what this potentially can mean here, if anything, for the former president.

ANNIE GRAYER, CNN CAPITOL HILL CORRESPONDENT: Well, their report out today shows that 20 countries spent over $7.8 million at Trump owned properties

while Donald Trump was serving as president.

I'm looking at, you know, this list; in addition to China, which he said you mentioned is $5.5 million, that in addition to China, some other

countries spending money at Trump properties include Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, India, Malaysia, Afghanistan.

The list goes on. And these are based on documents that House Democrats received from Donald Trump's former accounting firm, Mazars. This is only a

small clip. It only covers two years while Trump was in office. It does not give us the full picture.

But these are showing, for the first time, just how much Donald Trump's companies were making while he was in office.

And of course, the questions that stem from here is whether or not Trump was influenced while he was shaping U.S. foreign policy and dealing with

all of these governments and his businesses were receiving all of this money.

So that is the question that Democrats are posing with this report. Of course, the Constitution has, you know, strict measures about what public

officials and the president can and cannot receive from foreign governments and entities while they are in office.

But you know, the enforcement of someone who breaks those laws, that is kind of the hole that needs to be filled in what Democrats say new

legislation needs to fill.

SOARES: Annie, appreciate it, thank you very much.

Meanwhile, Donald Trump is asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a ruling removing him from Colorado's Republican primary ballot. It is not

clear whether the justices will agree to take up the case.

But if they do, it could have a major impact on the 2024 presidential election. The Republican front-runner was taken off Colorado's ballot for

his alleged role in the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.

His attorney argued he, in no way, engaged in insurrection.

The Iowa caucuses are less than two weeks away. Donald Trump continues to have a huge lead over his rivals, Florida governor, Ron DeSantis, is

pulling second in Iowa and making a big campaign push in the final days.

Former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, is currently in third place and seems to be focusing on New Hampshire, telling voters there to fix what

Iowa gets wrong.

And be sure to stay with CNN tonight for back-to-back town halls live from Des Moines, Iowa. First up, Ron DeSantis. Then Nikki Haley. It starts

tonight at 9 pm Eastern, right here on CNN.

And still to come tonight, unsealed court documents naming some of the famous people connected to convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein.

Plus, new findings on what may have led to the runway plane collision in Japan earlier this week.

Both of those stories, after this short break. You are watching CNN.





SOARES: Bill Clinton, Donald Trump and Britain's Prince Andrew are among the names appearing in newly unsealed documents in the Jeffrey Epstein

case. He's the multimillionaire accused of sex trafficking before suicide in 2019.

And it's important to note the inclusion of someone's name is not an indication of wrongdoing. More now from CNN's Shimon Prokupecz.


SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Long awaited documents finally released. The first batch of sealed court

filings pertaining to the late sex offender Jeffrey Epstein were made public Wednesday. The document stemmed from a civil defamation lawsuit

brought in 2015 against Epstein's Former Girlfriend Ghislaine Maxwell.

Prominent figures including Prince Andrew and Former Presidents Bill Clinton and Donald Trump, included in a 2016 deposition of Johanna Sjoberg,

a former employee of Epstein. She says in the document that she and Epstein had a conversation and quote, he said one time that Clinton likes them

young, referring to girls.

When asked if Clinton was a friend of Epstein, she said she understood Epstein had quote, dealings with Clinton. Clinton has not been accused of

any crimes or wrongdoing related to Epstein and has denied any kind of criminal activity. But in 2019, he admits to having flown on Epstein's

private plane but knew nothing of the financiers quote, terrible crimes.

Sjoberg also recalled a time she was with Epstein on one of his planes and pilots said he needed to land in Atlantic City. Jeffrey said, great, we'll

call up Trump and we'll go to, I don't recall the name of the casino but we'll go to the casino. She says in the deposition, she never gave him a

massage to Trump. This is the first reference to Donald Trump but he is not accused of any wrongdoing.

LISA BRYANT, DIRECTOR, "JEFFREY EPSTEIN: FILTHY RICH": Right now the only person who has been prosecuted is a woman; Ghislaine Maxwell who certainly

you know should be behind bars. But it's interesting in this you know network of all these men who've been trafficking young women and underage

women for decades and yet the only person that's been prosecuted you know it's a woman. There are many, many other people that you know should be

held accountable as well.

PROKUPECZ (voice-over): The documents also contain excerpts of depositions taking a Virginia Roberts Giuffre, who previously reached an out of court

settlement in her sexual abuse lawsuit against Prince Andrew. Giuffre alleged in her deposition, that Maxwell directed her to have sexual contact

with people including former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, Prince Andrew and tech guru Marvin Minsky.

Attorneys for Ghislaine Maxwell said in a statement on Wednesday, she has consistently and vehemently maintained her innocence. This is the first set

of documents to be unsealed under a December 18 court order, with more expected in the coming weeks. The documents are expected to include nearly

200 names including some of Epstein's accusers, prominent business people and politicians.


SOARES: And that was Shimon Prokupecz reporting there.

Well, let's get more information for these unsealed documents. CNN's Kara Scannell joins me now.

Kara, good to see.


So I mean, 900 pages of documents.

What did we learn from this initial charge that we didn't know before?

Was it a big take away, in your view?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, I think what we're seeing is more of this universe. People kind of telling their story in their own

words, from what we had previously heard. Some of these stories, some of these allegations but as the women have given them to news organizations.

This time, this is their testimony under oath. Shimon's piece highlighted some of the newer, specific pieces of information, because we have known

these names before. So just, you know, the references of Epstein making reference to Donald Trump and Donald Trump has, you know, publicly said

back in a 2002 interview with "New York" magazine, that he thought Epstein was a terrific guy.

Then he later said that he had thrown Epstein out of Mar-a-Lago, his social club. So these connections were known. But this just provides a little bit

more detail that kind of gives you a sense of the relationship between some of these men.

You know, this is just the first tranche. It was 40 documents. We were expecting, you know, dozens more. You know, the names that came out in

these documents, they are the names that we've heard of, the prominent men.

So I'm really going to be looking to see if we see any new names that come out through the subsequent release in this kind of rolling release of

documents. You know, a lot of these documents, you know, it's lawyers' legal papers.

So a lot of it is kind of technical motions. We have to comb through it all to look for the actual documents that provide a little bit more


I think that's also something that maybe there will be something about this case and how it -- it was a civil lawsuit but how it was ensued (sic), what

people were doing to fight subpoenas or not fight subpoenas, just to shed a little bit more light on that world.

SOARES: Do we know when we're going to get the next, likely to get the next tranche?

SCANNELL: We think it could be as soon as today, when the judge issued the order last month, she said that she wanted these documents posted publicly

on the docket after 14 days if there were no objections.

That started late yesterday afternoon New York time. We are told it's going to be a rolling production, so we expect to see some more today. When that

happens, it is unclear. They always take a little bit longer to post than you like.

And whether it all comes today or if this bleeds into Friday, that's also a possibility. This is a huge volume of material. Even if we're not

necessarily learning any kind of bombshells from it, it's still this breadth of material that was obtained through the course of this


SOARES: Kara, appreciate it, thanks very much.

A new courtroom video shows just how dangerous it can be to hand out justice in the United States. Just watch this.




SOARES (voice-over): A judge in Nevada had just denied the man's request for probation on charges of attempted battery and substantial bodily harm.

The court says the judge and one of the marshals who came to her defense were injured. The defender is now facing three additional counts of battery

on a protected person.


SOARES: And still to come tonight, it's been days since a deadly earthquake in Japan. We will look at how the rescue efforts are being

complicated by challenging conditions.





SOARES: We are learning more about the moments leading up to the runway collision at a Tokyo airport that killed five people on a Coast Guard

plane. Records show runway warning lights had been out of service for days, failing to stop the Coast Guard aircraft from taxiing onto the runway on


There are also new details on the amazing evacuations. State broadcaster NHK says Japan Airlines evacuated all 379 passengers within 18 minutes of

the collision. Passengers escaped down chutes from three emergency exits.

Well, emergency crews are still hard at work, trying to find survivors of Monday's 7.5 magnitude earthquake in Japan. We want to show you video of a

rescue that took place earlier. A warning: some may find this video difficult to watch.


SOARES (voice-over): In it, you will see emergency crews managing to save a man who was trapped under a house. He'd been pulled from the rubble as

his family members watch on.

Officials say poor weather conditions, impassable roads and frequent aftershocks are making the search for other survivors difficult. Here's

CNN's Hanako Montgomery with more.



HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Once an idyllic sea- side town, in just minutes, parts of Wajima reduced to rubble. The life Kyoko built, gone in an instant.

KYOKO IZUMI, LIQUOR SHOP OWNER (through translator): It's hell. I've never seen anything like this. it's my first time experiencing something like


MONTGOMERY (voice-over): With phone lines down, Kyoko can only hope her friends are alive, as she recons with her new reality.

IZUMI (through translator): The aftershocks are really scary. They happen multiple times throughout the night. Last night was really intense.

MONTGOMERY: What happened last night?

(Speaking in foreign language).

IZUMI (through translator): Last night I think there were two magnitude five aftershocks and it felt like the entire ground was getting pushed up

beneath me.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): Some in Kyoko's hometown remain stuck under their collapsed homes.

MONTGOMERY: Just behind me, dozens of police officers are trying to pull a woman they believe is stuck under the rubble of her house. The police are

from Ichia (ph), a prefecture over 300 kilometers away, which just goes to show the scale of rescue operations in Ishikawa prefecture.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): Racing against time, emergency personnel work into the night. The constant aftershocks and fires hamper rescue

operations, making it take days. Dozens still missing in Ishikawa prefecture. Entire communities cut off by landslides, fallen trees and

broken roads.

MONTGOMERY: This is just one of the many roads that have been completely destroyed in Wajima City, making it nearly impossible for aid to get in.

MONTGOMERY (voice-over): For us the journey to Wajima took all day, as we navigated these roadblocks alongside the dozens of fire and aide trucks on

their way, while bypassing fallen debris.

But what little help does get through is far from enough. Water, food and blankets are in short supply. Essential goods Japan says must get to


At evacuation centers, reports of people dying according to city hall officials.

FUMIO KISHIDA, JAPANESE PRIME MINISTER (through translator): The situation is terribly challenging. But until those 72 hours crucial for saving lives

pass, we must do our utmost to save and rescue as many people as possible with everything we have on the ground.


MONTGOMERY (voice-over): But the full scale of devastation still unknown. Those who had the means to flee their hometowns have gone, while others try

to find remnants of their lives scattered among the rubble.


SOARES: Of course, we will stay across that story for you.

And finally tonight, for Elvis Presley fans, there's a new chance to watch the king of rock 'n' roll thanks to virtual reality.


SOARES (voice-over): Thousands of the star's personal photos and hours of home videos are being used to create new performances, generated by AI. The

immersive show called "Elvis Evolution" starts in London this November and will then travel to cities, including Las Vegas, Tokyo and Berlin.


SOARES: What a comeback for Elvis and for those, of course, who love him.

That does it for us for this hour. Thanks very much for your company. Do stay right here, "QUEST MEANS BUSINESS" with Richard Quest is up next. We

shall see you tomorrow, bye-bye.