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Second Israeli Strike Rocks Gaza Refugee Camp; Gaza Border Opens For First Evacuations Since Start Of War; Don Jr. Testifies In One Trump Trial As Another May Be Delayed; Cornell University Student Arrested For Making Antisemitic Threats Makes First Court Appearance, Does Not Enter Plea; Legendary Basketball Coach Bob Knight Dies At 83. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 01, 2023 - 18:00   ET




WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, new devastation and fear at a Gaza refugee camp rocked by a second Israeli airstrike in two days, Israeli forces defending the attacks as key to the war against Hamas, as they're claiming significant new progress on the ground.

Also tonight, the first civilian evacuations from Gaza are now under way with Americans among the hundreds of people fleeing through the Rafah border crossing into Egypt. We'll get an update on who got out and who may escape the war zone next.

Plus, significant new developments in two cases against Donald Trump, his son, Donald Trump Jr., testifying in the civil fraud trial in New York, and in Florida, new indications that the Mar-a-Lago classified documents trial may be delayed.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around world. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Tel Aviv, Israel, and you're in The Situation Room.

We're live in Tel Aviv following all the breaking news on Israel's war against Hamas and urgent, urgent new efforts to get civilians out of danger in Gaza as bombs fall and ground troops advance.

Our correspondents are standing by with new information about the military operation and the evacuations. First, let's go to CNN's Jeremy Diamond. He is in Ashkelon, Israel for us.

Jeremy, on the heels of a secondary strike that rocked a Gaza refugee camp, Israel says it's making gains in the ground war. Give us the latest.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Wolf. Five days after Israel launched its ground offensive in Gaza, the Israeli military announcing that it has breached Hamas' northern defensive lines in Gaza. The country's military says that it has dropped more than -- sorry, struck more than 11,000 targets in just the last three and a half weeks. But amid those strikes, more questions tonight, Wolf, about how Israel is striking these targets and the civilian casualties that have also resulted.


DIAMOND (voice over): Tonight, a top Israeli commander says his forces are closing in on Gaza City, Hamas' stronghold in the Gaza strip.

BRIG. GEN. ITZIK COHEN, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: We are deep in the strip at the gates of Gaza city. In the last five days, we have dismantled a lot of the abilities of Hamas. We have attacked strategic positions, all the explosive abilities, its underground facilities and other systems.

DIAMOND: Five days after Israel launched its ground offensive in Gaza, Israeli forces are advancing towards Gaza City from three different directions. In the north, Israeli armor and infantry have been spotted advancing from both ends of the strip. Israeli tanks also appear to be closing in from the south, CNN geolocated this tank at the strategic Netzarim Junction, a main road into Gaza city.

Israel is also moving some of its artillery closer to Gaza.

Until recently, this field was filled with Israeli artillery positions. You can see these mounds where howitzer guns or other types of artillery would dig in. And now, as Israeli forces move closer into Gaza, those artillery positions are also moving closer to support the troops on the ground. Now, all that remains are these boxes of munitions, artillery fuses used by the forces that were here.

The question now is how deep Israeli forces will move into Gaza.

MIRI EISEN, INTERNATIONAL INSTITUTE FOR COUNTER-TERRORISM: The only way to get to what Hamas has built over a decade inside the Gaza Strip, the only way is through a ground operation.

DIAMOND: For now, at least, Israel's military relying on its devastating air power to strike in the heart of urban areas. For the second day in a row, Israeli jets striking the densely populated Jabalya refugee camp, flattening apartment buildings, killing tens of people and wounding hundreds, according to the director of the nearby Indonesian hospital. The IDF said it struck a Hamas command and control complex in Jabalya, killing Hamas militants. But civilians also clearly among the casualties, including children, rushed out of the rubble.



DIAMOND (on camera): And, Wolf, tonight, the director of the Indonesian hospital in Gaza tells CNN that many of the injured in that strike today in the Jabalya refugee camp are women and children. Israel, of course, maintains that Hamas is to blame for using civilians as human shields. And meanwhile, tonight, Wolf, we're also learning that 16 Israeli soldiers have died so far as a result of this ground incursion. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Jeremy Diamond in Ashkelon, Israel, for us, Jeremy, thanks for that report.

Right now, I want to go to the opening of the Egypt-Gaza border crossing that has now allowed hundreds of civilians to evacuate. This is very significant.

CNN's Melissa Bell is following this story for us. She's joining us from Cairo, Egypt. Melissa, bring us up to speed on these e evacuations and what happens next.

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Many hundreds of foreign and dual nationals already through the Rafah crossing, Wolf, as you said, here safe in Egypt, many of them on their way to Cairo. Even as we speak, amongst them, at least two American physicians that we understand were in Gaza to work with Palestinians. They found themselves on the wrong side of the border on October 7th. They are amongst those who have been allowed out.

But this is a comprehensive deal, we understand, from American officials, that will allow all the many thousands of foreign and dual nationals to get out over the course of the coming days.


BELL (voice over): A tired smile and a wave from one of the lucky few finally allowed to leave Gaza since the war began. These families just some of the first foreign and dual nationals finally permitted through the Rafah crossing into Egypt on Wednesday, the result of a deal brokered by Qatar between Israel, Hamas, Egypt and the United States that will allow all foreign and dual nationals to leave the besieged enclave.

Also allowed to leave under the deal, the first Palestinians, 81 of most severely wounded, those desperate enough for urgent surgical intervention taken one by one in a convoy of ambulances to a field hospital set up a few miles away and to other hospitals in Northern Egypt.

Large crowds of foreign nationals had been massing at the border after hearing at the start of the conflict that they would be allowed out. Families desperately checking to see if they were some of those lucky enough finally to get through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm an American living in Gaza. We heard that the crossing was open, but, unfortunately, we discovered that it was open for specific nationalities at the moment. And we had to turn back because the cellular network was down, and we weren't aware that there was a list. We hope to see our names on the list tomorrow or the next day.

BELL: As the only crossing from Gaza to anywhere other than Israel, all eyes have been on Rafah ever since the total siege of the strip was announced by Israel. It is the only way in and out now, and what's gone in has been painfully little. A further 20 trucks arriving on Wednesday, a drop in the ocean, say aid organizations, given the needs inside.

For some here, it's been days or even weeks of waiting and praying. With ever-dwindling supplies and under the constant fear of Israeli strikes, even here in the south where civilians had been told by the IDF to evacuate. Nowhere in Gaza is safe. So, finally, for a small few, a chance to leave and live again.


BELL (on camera): There are difficult days ahead, to be clear, Wolf, for all of those many foreign and dual nationals who remain trapped inside, not least because of the communications problems inside the Gaza strip, just finding out that you're eligible to get out, making your way to that Rafah crossing can be logistically difficult under the circumstances. And bear in mind that this is a part of the world that is under constant IDF bombardment.

This was, nonetheless, a huge breakthrough, the fruit of difficult negotiations that went on very much behind the scenes. It came as a huge surprise to everyone watching the Rafah crossing over the course of the last few days, but it does show us that those negotiations are happening and that they can bear their fruit, despite all the difficulties.

We understand that Hamas had wanted to get some of its wounded fighters out as a result of this deal. That was clearly a non-starter for Israel. We understand, also, that Egypt was extremely concerned about who was going to be coming on to its territory. It's been very wary of the idea of refugees coming into Egypt, also the idea that this conflict might be used as an excuse for the wholesale displacement of the Palestinian inhabitants of Gaza towards the Sinai. And yet, despite all of those objections and concerns about the screening process, it is happening, and it appears will continue to happen, Wolf, over the coming days.


BLITZER: Melissa bell reporting from Cairo, Egypt, for us, Melissa, thank you very much.

Joining us here in Tel Aviv, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, Michael Oren. Ambassador, thanks so much for joining us.

Israel is getting a lot of criticism for the bombings of this huge refugee camp in Gaza right now. Do you think it's really necessary, given the civilian casualties that are developing?

MICHAEL OREN, FORMER ISRAEL AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Always good to be with you, Wolf. I'm listening to all these reports, and they're heartbreaking. They are. No one wants to see innocent people suffer. And it's important to note that in addition that the foreign nationals are getting through the Rafah crossing, that's good, we think, but let's not forget, we got over 240 hostages in Gaza, and we don't -- many people don't even know -- their families don't even know where they are. Tomorrow, I'm visiting a gentleman down Gilad Cornburg (ph) down south in a kibbutz, and his son, his daughter, his two grandkids are hostages. He doesn't know where they are. We can't forget that. So, it's good that the foreign nationals are getting out of Gaza. What about our nationals? And they're still underground in the tunnels of Hamas.

As for the international repercussions, what can I say, it's to be expected. This happened every round of fighting we have had. We know that we get a little bit of symphony at the beginning -- sympathy at the beginning, if we're getting rocketed, there's a certain amount of sympathy. If we had 1,400 of our citizens massacred, we get a certain degree of sympathy.

At the end of the day, and it's not just a line, Wolf, when we say Hamas is responsible, Hamas is responsible. They talk about the densely populated Jabalya refugee camp, why is it densely populated? We've told the Palestinians to move to the south now three weeks ago. It's densely populated because Hamas wants it to be densely populated. It wants to use this population as a human shield. So, we get the precisely the type of condemnations that Israel is getting now.

It's using -- sort of it's using this human shield as a way of denying us the right to defend ourselves and to get international calls for a ceasefire. And I said to you before, ceasefire for us is death. Ceasefire means if we don't defeat Hamas decisively, really uproot it and defeat it, this city, this country can't exist. No one can go back to their homes. We're finished.

BLITZER: But the pictures that we're seeing and the devastation in this refugee camp, the kids, the elderly people, it's pretty devastating.

OREN: It's devastating, sure, it's devastating. But you have to ask yourself, okay, who is responsible for it? It's -- we asked these people to leave to get out of the way of fire. Hamas, we have had reports that they're being kept at gunpoint from running away. So, who bears that responsibility? If Hamas is in the Jabalya refugee camp, if it's under these neighborhoods, we have no choice but to attack in there.

And we hope that the Palestinian civilians can get out of the way. We hope that Hamas won't stop them from leaving. At the end of the day, this is about not just our national security. It's about our national survival.

BLITZER: But you know that Israel has told these Palestinians in Northern Gaza to get out and move to the south, but Israel is also bombing various locations in the south as well.

OREN: And I have looked into that. I'm not a spokesman for the government anymore. I was curious about it. What I found out was that Hamas is operating in the south as well and it's, again, hiding behind the civilian population. So, if Hamas is shooting from inside that population, again, we're going to have no choice but to go where Hamas is fighting us from. You were here today. We were hit by rockets today in Tel Aviv. We have to stop this. No country in the world would allow a million people behind us to be under rocket fire.

BLITZER: So, what I hear you saying is that maybe not a good idea for these people to go from the north to the south and leave their homes if this war is still developing in the south. They're not going to be safe there either.

OREN: Well, I think the safest place to be, relatively, is in the south, away from the north, because the major fighting is going to be in Gaza City. But it's true, all of Gaza is under the control of Hamas, and where Hamas is, Israel is going to have to defend itself against Hamas, and we will try our utmost, as we always try our utmost, to avoid civilian casualties. With leaflet, we give the text messages, we do the knock-knock system where you send little rocket on to the top of a house that doesn't explode but let's the people know that the house is going to be hit, get them away to the best degree possible.

It is a war. It is brutal. But again, we have no choice. We have to defend this country. If we don't defeat Hamas, we can't be sitting here, you and me.

BLITZER: Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, thanks so much for joining us.

OREN: Thank you.

BLITZER: I appreciate it very much.

And just ahead, there's more news we're following, all the latest developments on the ground in Israel, as the refugee camp hit yesterday during Israel's airstrike is struck once again today.

And other news we're following back in the United States, Donald Trump Jr. testifies as a defendant in a civil fraud trial. What he said under oath in court.

A lot more coming up right here in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: We'll have much more of the breaking news coming up right here from the Middle East. I'm in Israel. But, first, there's important news back in the United States as well. Donald Trump Jr. testified today under oath in the civil fraud trial against him, his family and their businesses.

The former president's eldest son is facing very serious questions about his involvement in the financial documents right at the center of this lawsuit.

CNN's Kara Scannell is outside the courthouse in New York City for us. Kara, so what did we hear from Donald Trump Jr.?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, Donald Trump Jr. took the stand late this afternoon, and he denied having any involvement in the preparation of the financial statements in this case. These are the same statements the judge has already found to be fraudulent.

So, Trump was asked specifically about this, his role, if he had any involvement in the preparation. He said, I did not, the accountants worked on that. That's what we pay them for.

Now, he was specifically asked about 2017. That's the year that he became the trustee of his father's trust when he became president. And that's the first time that Donald Trump Jr. signed the statement certifying that they were accurate. Trump Jr. testified that he may have provided information to the internal accountants who were working on these statements, but he said that he didn't know that what he gave them would be use the in the financial statements, so further distancing himself in any way from the preparation.


Now, during the about 90 minutes of testimony on the stand, he answered most questions directly. He even joked with the judge who asked him to slow down when he was answering question, Trump Jr. saying that, I apologize, your honor, I moved to Florida, but I kept the New York pace.

Now, he is expected to return to the stand tomorrow morning. His testimony will be followed by his brother, Eric Trump, and then former President Donald Trump is set to testify on Monday. The state expects to wrap its case on Wednesday following the testimony of Ivanka Trump. Wolf?

BLITZER: Kara Scannell reporting for us from New York, thank you very much for that update.

And joining us now, CNN Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid and CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig. To both of you, thanks so much for joining us.

Elie, what is the key issue prosecutors are trying to get at with Donald Trump Jr.? And is he taking a risk by testifying and not taking the Fifth Amendment?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: So, Wolf, the attorney general's core allegation here is that Donald Trump Jr. and some of his family members intentionally and knowingly overinflated the value of their assets. And what I think is really crucial to note about the testimony that Donald Trump Jr. just gave hours ago is he did not try to argue that these valuations were actually accurate, that they were legitimate. Instead, as Kara just said, he tried to argue, I didn't really know about them. I wasn't part of this. He tried to distance himself from the actual valuations.

Now, there certainly is a risk with taking the stand here. Donald Trump Jr. would have had the option of taking the Fifth Amendment. This is a civil case, but he still could say, I refuse to testify because my testimony could be used against me. He's decided not to do that. And so now, as a result, everything that he's testifying to is fair game for prosecutors to consider.

Now, prosecutors have looked at this case. They have chosen not to charge it as a criminal case thus far, but that could change based on Donald Trump Jr.'s testimony. So, there's an inherent risk in taking the stand here.

BLITZER: Yes, he is testifying under oath.

Paula Reid, Donald Trump's attorneys, by the way, were also in court in Florida today in that classified documents case trying to push back the start of the upcoming trial. Tell our viewers what happened.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, it appears that the judge overseeing that case, Trump-appointee Aileen Cannon, appears open to the idea of moving that case down in the calendar. Right now, he's scheduled to go to trial here in Washington, D.C., with the special counsel's first case covering election subversion in March of next year. And the classified documents case is scheduled to go to trial in May of next year.

And Trump's lawyers have argued, look, they need more time to prepare for a case like that. They are currently juggling the civil case in New York, you have the first criminal case, then they have this. They say they need more time. And the judge signaled today that she is open to possibly postponing this. And right now, the Trump legal team, this is their number one goal, to get this pushed back until after the 2024 election. So, this is a big test for the judge, and we're waiting for her ruling.

BLITZER: Elie, as Paula just said, this is potentially a big development if the start of this trial is pushed back, possibly until after the presidential election next year. Is there a good basis for Judge Cannon's concerns?

HONIG: Well, Wolf, I think there is. I understand that there's great interest in seeing Donald Trump tried in as many of these cases as possible before the election, among the public and certainly among prosecutors.

However, the judge also has to be aware of and protect any criminal defendant's constitutional rights to due process to fully prepare for trial. And if we look at the calendar, as Paula just laid out, the first federal case, the one in D.C., about election subversion, that's starting in March of 2024.

And I think Judge Cannon's concern in Florida is, you can't make a criminal defendant go right from one case that's going to take two full months and then immediately start this next case, because he does have a right to prepare separately for each case, which is unrelated to one another. It wouldn't surprise me to see judge cannon push her case back, given all the circumstances here.

Very interesting. Paula, turning back to this civil trial against the Trump Organization in New York, Ivanka Trump is appealing the order for her to testify in the case. What do we know about how this is likely to play out?

REID: Well, it will be interesting to see if she does end up taking the stand midway through next week. She's been trying to avoid having to testify in this case, noting that she is no longer a defendant in this case, and the fact that she left the Trump Organization and went to Washington before the conduct that has been alleged in this case.

But having the three older Trump children testify, Wolf, this is a reminder that even though this is mostly about penalties in a civil case, this is a case that, unlike the criminal prosecutions, has direct consequences for the former president's family, and it's just about as -- about what she would say on the stand as it is about how the former president will react. And when it comes to his three older children, it is likely Ivanka who could elicit the strongest reaction or outburst from the former president.

BLITZER: Interesting indeed.


Paula Reid, Elie Honig, guys, thank you very much.

The breaking news continues next here in the Middle East with another live report from our war correspondents covering this dramatic development after that second Israeli strike on a Gaza refugee camp.

You're watching The Situation Room. We're live from Tel Aviv.


BLITZER: This hour, the full scope of the deaths and destruction at a Gaza refugee camp remain unclear after Israel confirmed it was behind a blast that rocked the camp for a second time in two days. We're also following the evacuations out of Gaza into Egypt, the first civilians allowed to escape the fighting, including some Americans, lots going on.


CNN's Ben Wedeman is following all the breaking news. He's joining us from his post in Beirut, Lebanon, right now. So, Ben, what's the latest? Update our viewers.

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. As far as the Jabalya refugee camp goes, today, Israel struck for a second time after Tuesday. That refugee camp, the Israelis said that they struck a Hamas command and control center, but the director of the Indonesian hospital nearby reported to CNN that, as a result of that Israeli strike on the camp, at least 80 people were killed. He said most of the casualties in that strike were women and children. And the U.N. Human Rights Office is saying that the strikes on Jabalya, the most crowded of the eight refugee camps in Gaza, could amount to a war crime. Now, as far as the Israeli ground operation goes, the Israeli military is saying that they have breached the Hamas defenses in the northern part of the Gaza Strip. So far, 16 Israeli soldiers have been killed since the ground incursion began on Friday, but they are -- they do seem to be running into stiff resistance. They're basically gaining ground in the open area just on the northern edge of the Gaza Strip.

And what we're seeing is that Hamas is putting up stiff resistance. Hamas published today video of one of their drones dropping a bomb on a gathering of Israeli soldiers. In another video, you see them popping out of tunnels and ambushing a column of Israeli Army.

Now, we heard today, again, from the Iranian foreign minister who warned of possible action by the so-called axis of resistance, which Iran leads and includes Hezbollah, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Houthis and various militias in Syria and Iraq. He said if the war in Gaza continues, the resistance will make a decision on another surprise action. Not clear what that is. We may get an indication, however, on Friday when the head of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, makes a much anticipated speech. Wolf?

BLITZER: Ben Wedeman in Beirut, Lebanon, for us, Ben, thank you very much.

Joining us now, Democratic Congressman Jason Crow of Colorado. He's a key member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

As you know, the IDF says this second blast at the Jabalya refugee camp today was from an Israeli airstrike. Scores of innocent civilians, we are told, have been killed. The IDF says Hamas terrorists were hiding among them. What's your response to all of this?

REP. JASON CROW (D-CO): Wolf, we know that Hamas must be destroyed. It absolutely cannot be allowed to continue. The manner in which Hamas is destroyed is extremely important. If there's anything that I learned in 20 years of the global war on terror, fighting three times in Iraq and Afghanistan, is that you cannot destroy a terrorist organization with military means alone. So, the conduct of those operations becomes just as important as the goal itself.

So, a military objective, in this case, destroying a Hamas commander or command post, doesn't necessarily mean that you can strike that objective. The presence of civilians, the presence of refugees, of innocents, fundamentally will change in any given instance how you engage and even if you can engage a target.

When I was in Iraq and Afghanistan, we made that decision all the time. You could have a valid military objective, but you do not strike at that time and in a certain way because of the presence of civilians, and that's really fundamental here.

BLITZER: So, are you concerned, Congressman, that Israel isn't doing enough to avoid civilian casualties? CROW: I've been calling for a humanitarian pause here, because I think we need time to assess the right way to destroy Hamas, that I think we should establish humanitarian corridors. I think we should allow for the flow of refugees from North Gaza into South Gaza, and there should be a more sustained counterterrorist operation that will destroy Hamas, but make a priority the protection of innocent civilians in the -- over 2 million Palestinians who are also victims of Hamas and the situation.

So, I think we need more time to figure out how we do this the right way that actually can accomplish the goals of destroying Hamas without making the situation worse.

BLITZER: As you know, Congressman, for the first time, foreign nationals are finally making their way out of Gaza, including at least two Americans today. Do you think the Biden administration is acting quickly enough on this front?


CROW: I do. I think the Biden administration is working on every front. The intelligence front, the diplomatic front, engaging with our partners, engaging with our allies and doing everything possible to bring American nationals, American citizens to safety, which they have done since day one of this administration. This administration has actually done a remarkable job of bringing hostages back from Iran, of making a priority of repatriating American citizens, and this is certainly no exception here.

BLITZER: The new House speaker, Mike Johnson's Israel funding bill, as you know, gives $14.3 billion to Israel but rescinds that same amount of money from the IRS, Internal Revenue Service. You have indicated you will not support this. But what will you do if Republicans don't budge?

CROW: I'm not going to support this bill. It's a horrible bill. It's horrible for Israel because it actually doesn't have any humanitarian aid funding. So, like I've long said, there's no sole military solution to this. We have to couple humanitarian aid and protection of civilians with the military response. And if we don't do that, neither one of those will be a success.

So, there has to be humanitarian funding, but they have politicized this effort to support Israel in a way that is unacceptable. It sets a precedent that these national security supplementals will be subject to politics in a way that we never have subjected them to politics before, and I'm just not going to stand for it. I'm going to stand up and say, there's a bipartisan way of doing this in a way that we have always done in the past, and we're not going to allow this to be politicized.

BLITZER: Congressman Jason Crow, thanks so much for joining us.

CROW: Thank you.

BLITZER: And just ahead, why inflammatory language from Donald Trump has proven to be a double-edged sword for the former president, both in the courtroom and out there on the campaign trail.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: We're following the multiple court cases of America's most prominent defendant, Donald J. Trump, including his son's testimony in the civil fraud trial against their family business. Trump's legal proceedings are giving the nation a window into his mindset as he campaigns to return to the White House.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny has more on the important story for us. Jeff, in court and on the campaign trail, Trump is clearly on the attack.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, there's no question this has become a campaign of vengeance, much more sharper and violent language and rhetoric than we saw during his first presidential campaigns. It may be costing him in the courtroom, but on the campaign trail, it's anything but.


ZELENY (voice over): The inflammatory rhetoric that's gotten Donald Trump into hot water in the courtroom --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: This judge is a very partisan judge.

ZELENY: -- is the fuel of his political campaign.

TRUMP: You have to get out, and you have to fight like hell, because these are dirty players.

ZELENY: More than ever before, the former president is waging a campaign of vengeance, attacking judges, going after prosecutors, and raising the specter of violence.

TRUMP: We will immediately stop all of the pillaging and theft, very simply, if you rob a store, you can fully expect to be shot as you are leaving that store, shot.

ZELENY: In his third presidential bid, retribution has become a far louder rallying cry. He suggested Mark Milley, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, should be executed for treason. He's joked about the brutal attack on former Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband. He's implored supporters to drive away his enemies.

TRUMP: 2024 is our final battle. With you at my side, we will demolish the deep state. We will expel the warmongers, get them all out of our government.

ZELENY: While Trump's legal challenges are inexplicably linked with his presidential campaign, the disconnect is jarring. Even major court developments, like a tearful guilty plea from his former lawyer -- JENNA ELLIS, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump. I look back on this whole experience with deep remorse.

ZELENY: -- haven't changed the view of many loyal Trump supporters.

LORI SCROGGIN, TRUMP SUPPORTER IN IOWA: There's a lot more than you think that are in favor of Trump and felt that the last election was stolen, and we just want -- we just want what's ours.

ZELENY: Laurie Skrogens (ph) saw the former president this week in Iowa. She's unbothered by criticism and dismissive of his Republican rivals, whom she believes should step aside.

SCROGGIN: They're just nothing but a distraction and an annoyance, like a mosquito or a fly. You just want to, yes, poof them away, and let's get down to the meat, the real politics. Let's get down to what Trump has to say.

ZELENY: And Trump has a lot to say, stoking anger and rallying supporters to his defense.

TRUMP: I promise you this. If you put me back in the White House, their reign will be over, and America will be a free nation once again.


ZELENY (on camera): So, some of these violent comments and the rhetoric certainly comes into sharp review, Wolf, when some of the very merits of these court cases are about January 6th, and the rhetoric that led to that violence. Some of his supporters have acknowledged being led to the Capitol that day because of his orders.

Now, of course, most of Trump's supporters are not violent, but certainly some of these messages could cause concern. But, of course, his family is front and center in a different courtroom, this one in a New York for the civil case. He's expected next week. Wolf?

BLITZER: Jeff Zeleny reporting, excellent report. Thank you very much, Jeff, for that.

Coming up, a 21-year-old Cornell University student who was arrested for allegedly making anti-Semitic threats against the school's Jewish community makes his first court appearance.


We'll have details. That's next.


BLITZER: A man has been arrested in connection with a series of online antisemitic threats against Cornell University's Jewish community. The suspect who's a student at the Ivy League school made his first appearance in federal court today where he did not enter a plea. Meanwhile, the number of threats against Jewish, Muslim, and Arab-

American communities in the United States has been on the rise since the Hamas attacks against Israel.

CNN's Brian Todd is monitoring these developments for us.

Brian, what's the latest?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, tonight, officials from the U.S. attorney general, to the governor of Virginia and leaders across America, are collectively sounding an alarm. Antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents inside the U.S. specifically pegged to the Israel/Hamas war are simply getting out of control.



TODD (voice-over): After several days of fear gripping the Cornell University campus in Upstate New York, an arrest. A 21-year-old junior at Cornell, Patrick Dai, charged in connection with threatening to kill Jewish students. Prosecutors say in online posts, Dai threatened to bring an assault rifle to campus to shoot up a mainly kosher dining hall, to stab Jewish students, to throw them off cliffs.

LEVI SCHMUEL, JEWISH STUDENT AT CORNELL UNIVERSITY: I can't imagine what would go through the mind of someone like that. Just, first of all, you're making threats on, like, this random website. Like why would you do that?

SAM FRIEDMAN, JEWISH STUDENT AT CORNELL UNIVERSITY: I mean, I've seen general antisemitic sentiment to have a direct threat to a building I personally go to and eat at and see friends at. That was really scary, and it was bad.

TODD: Patrick Dai has not entered a plea. His parents told the "New York Post" they believe their son is innocent. They say he struggles with depression and never had a history of violence.

But in this climate, New York's governor is in no mood for leniency.

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D), NEW YORK: I want to make an example and say, as I said Monday when I told those students, if you do this, you will be caught and you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

TODD: Since the Israel/Hamas war began on October 7th, tensions have boiled across the U.S. -- on college campuses, at private homes, businesses, a dramatic spike, officials say, in antisemitic and Islamophobic incidents, including assaults, acts of harassment, and vandalism.

And one group says in cases of harassment against Muslims in America --

DINA SAYEDAHMED, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS, NEW JERSEY: Many cases do go unreported for fear of retaliation or backlash. The actual number is likely much higher.

TODD: Why have incidents spiked on college campuses since the start of the Israel/Hamas war?

LA'NITA JOHNSON, EXPERT ON EXTREMISM, AMERICAN UNIVERSITY: College campuses is where students are using their voices for the first time. They're politically active. Often they're ready to vote. And, so, this comes with the territory of university campuses. What we can say about this particular incident is folks are feeling touched on both sides due to their identities.

TODD: But it's seemingly everywhere. A swastika was spray-painted on a high school football field in Virginia, in Minnesota. And New York state, displays of pictures of Israelis taken hostage have been damaged or torn down.

A top Muslim advocacy group in New Jersey says the advocacy for Muslims there is reminiscent of the post-9/11 era.

SELAEDIN MAKSUT, COUNCIL ON AMERICAN-ISLAMIC RELATIONS, NEW JERSEY: Muslims have been fired from their jobs posting about Palestine. Hijabs have been pulled off in broad daylight here in New Jersey. Students have been called terrorists by public school teachers and parents.


TODD (on camera): And we have this just in. The Biden administration has just announced it will develop what it calls a national strategy to counter Islamophobia in the U.S., a White House statement saying, in part, that, quote, for too long, Muslims in America and those perceived to be Muslim have endured a disproportionate number of hate- fueled attacks -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us, Brian, thanks very much.

And we'll have more news right after this.



BLITZER: Breaking news, the legendary basketball coach Bob Knight has died. He was 83 years old.

Joining us on the phone right now is a "USA Today" columnist Christine Brennan.

Bob Knight was very, very successful, Christine, but also a little bit controversial.

Tell us about that.

CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST (via telephone): That's right, Wolf. He did win three national titles at Indiana. And that's really the program and the school that he is known for, an iconic career at Indiana, coaching the men's basketball team. They're the last team, by the way, the men's team to go undefeated 32-0, last D1, Division 1 men's team. That was back in '75 and '76.

But also the temper, the flares of emotion were legendary. And a lot of his fans loved that when he threw the chair across the floor against Perdue back in 1985, they cheered him on for his iconic temper and the way he handled things, a cult figure in every way at Indiana and the Big Ten, Wolf.

But then things got serious. There was a video of him choking a player, and then he allegedly grabbed a student on campus. In the fall of 2000, he was fired.

And, so, that same temper, that same violence, that propensity for alleged violence, the things that made him so appealing to so many, obviously, ended up ending his career at Indiana. But then he went on to Texas Tech and coached the men's team, won 138 games there, retiring for good in 2008, Wolf.

BLITZER: Truly a legendary basketball coach. And coached the U.S. Olympic team, and won the gold medal that time, as I remember, and I'm sure you do as well.

BRENNAN: That's right, 1984, Los Angeles. He's a great coach, a great tactician. The young man who played for him still stand by him, and most of them do, and swear by the way that he coached them, the love they have for him, the camaraderie. You know, Wolf, you follow sports as well as anyone, and that tough coaching technique that was especially in its heyday at this time that Bobby Knight was also at the peak of his career.

What coaches could get away with then that is not allowed now, scrutiny, of course, concerns about the mental health of athletes, the abuse of athletes.

But Bobby Knight was all that. He was able to be that old school coach, and also drive those beautiful life lessons to those young men. That was good. There was a lot of good there, even as he obviously was embroiled in controversy time and again. Coach Mike Krzyzewski, the great coaches and the names that he crossed paths with, Indiana, the great men that he coached there, even at Texas Tech.

So a legendary career, even, as we said, he was a very controversial figure.

BLITZER: Our deepest, deepest condolences to his family.

Christine Brennan, thank you very much for joining us.

And, to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in Tel Aviv, Israel.


"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.