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FBI Seizes Electronic Devices of NYC Mayor Eric Adams; Antisemitism in America; Israeli Family Prays for Safe Return of Young Man Kidnapped By Hamas. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 10, 2023 - 18:00   ET




JIM ACOSTA, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, the New York City mayor's cell phones seized. The FBI and federal prosecutors ratcheting up a fundraising investigation bringing it directly to Mayor Eric Adams.

Also tonight, the skies over Gaza light up again. Israel declaring its war against Hamas is complex as the U.S. secretary of state is sharpening his criticism of the soaring civilian death toll.

And on the 2024 campaign trail, President Biden takes a jab at Donald Trump while Vice President Kamala Harris travels to South Carolina, her mission to try to rally black voters, as polls suggest, Biden support from that core constituency may be softening.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Jim Acosta and you're in The Situation Room.

A lot of news tonight, let's get right to the breaking news out of New York this hour, the mayor, Democrat, Eric Adams, drawn directly into a federal investigation of fund raising with his electronic devices seized by the FBI.

CNN Senior Crime and Justice Correspondent Shimon Prokupecz is on the story for us. Shimon, pretty dramatic development there in New York. What do you know about this probe and exactly what are investigators looking for, do you think?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Right. Well, Jim, the thing is that what is going on here is that there is an escalation in this investigation.


The FBI seizing his phones, a tablet, is our understanding, an iPad, this all happening on Monday. And we're learning about just today.

This all came after an event, a public event that the mayor had on Monday. And then the FBI showed up. According to The New York Times, they met him outside this event. They approached him. They approached the security detail, essentially told them to step aside and then served them with search warrants.

And in those search warrants contained information that they were looking for relating to his electronic devices, and according to The New York Times, they went inside of the SUV, took his phones and then just days later gave them back to him.

What we know about this investigation is that this all started last week during a search warrant of a key fundraiser in Brooklyn, and according to officials, the FBI conducting an investigation into whether campaign money was funneled through straw donors, Turkish government folks and straw donors. So, that is what sort of started all of this.

And then something clearly has happened. Something significant has happened here for the FBI to take this kind of step in this investigation to approach a sitting mayor, the New York City mayor, and to ask for his phones in this way is certainly very, very significant.

Now, the mayor and his folks through a lawyer, his lawyer telling us that basically the mayor is cooperating in this investigation and that he's going to continue to cooperate in this investigation.

But the question obviously is if he's cooperating, why did the FBI need to take this step in seizing his phones? And, Jim, this is something that is certainly very significant. The mayor's folks denying that he's done anything wrong and they say they're going to continue to cooperate in this investigation.

ACOSTA: Yes, some very big questions being raised this evening. Shimon Prokupecz, thank you very much for that. I suspect you'll be busy on this for some time.

Let's bring if our legal and political experts to discuss. Elie Honig, let me go to you first. Elie, to Shimon's point, what he was just saying a few moments ago, what do we know about prosecutors and what they have to establish in order to get a search warrant to go up to the mayor and ask for his devices, I mean, right on the spot? That is wild.

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Jim. So, in order to get a search warrant, prosecutors have to establish probable cause that a federal crime was committed and that they will find evidence of that crime on whatever devices, in this case the phones they're seizing.

So, in order to do that as a prosecutor, you have to actually write out a detailed affidavit setting for a probable cause. You have to then bring it across the street to the judge. The judge then has to review it and agree that you've shown probable cause.

It's important to note, probable cause is a substantial legal standard but it is also far below proof beyond a reasonable doubt, which you ultimately need to get a conviction.

So, it is a big step here. I assure you prosecutors would not serve a search warrant on the sitting mayor of New York City unless they felt they had very good reason. But that is what we know about what they've had to do legally to get to this point.

ACOSTA: Yes. Joey Jackson, what type of evidence could investigators be looking for on these devices?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes. So, they'll look through a lot of evidence. I would I would hasten to add saying that though, that here is the issue, not every obvious indictment -- excuse me, not every search warrant leads to an arrest, not every arrest leads to an indictment, not every indictment leads to a prosecution and conviction. And so we should be measured in speaking about it.

With respect to what they're looking at, they're looking at evidence to which he, Jim, might have been involved in any criminality, right? When you have a search warrant that is conducted, you pull out and you glean information with respect to a crime. Were there campaign finance violations, was there any involvement with the Turkish government, were there straw buyers, that is the people who didn't or who did exists but were not making these donations, to what extent was he directing any of that? Was there a conspiracy? Were any members of his campaign involved and did it reach his knowledge?

So, there is a lot of information to be gleaned from that. But, again I would just take a measured approach, federal government, as Elie will tell you, they investigate, investigate, investigate. And until they get the actual information to move forward, they will not. But we shouldn't at all suggest, not that anyone is, that the mayor is guilty of anything until or unless we know that that really develops into something of significance, which could lead to a criminal charge and an arrest and an indictment.

ACOSTA: No, that is an excellent point. Let's be cautious about this. No question about it.

John Avlon, this is not the first time, though, that Adams and his associates had faced legal scrutiny. How do you see this impacting his standing in the city?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, there has been a lot of smoke around Mayor Adams, shady associates, allegations of individuals, behaving in sort of dodgy ways, but it's never reached the mayor directly, himself a former New York City Police Department captain.


And you got to understand the mayor of New York travels around with an intense security detail. For the FBI to execute a search warrant against a mayor and separating them from his detail and taking his personal phones, that indicates that what they are investigating, this alleged straw donor scheme involving individuals from Turkey impacts the mayor directly and maybe the tip of a larger iceberg, maybe, I want to stress that. But it's extraordinary for it to go direct to level the mayor.

Mayor Adams has had a hard time fulfilling some campaign promises. A lot of the trends are moving in the right direction, succeeding in the popular mayor, but this is devastating to the authority of the mayor. It's been almost a hundred years since we've had a mayor removed. So, people shouldn't jump to that scenario. But a very bad day for City Hall, where I once worked, almost unimaginably.

ACOSTA: Yes. I mean, there's just no question about it. There's now a cloud hanging over the mayor and that's going to be there until we know what is going on here.

And, Elie, what is the relevance of the Southern District of New York, your former office, being involved in this search? That is also a big deal.

HONIG: Yes, Jim. So, first of all, that tells us this is a federal investigation. The Southern District of New York, of course, is a federal prosecutor's office, part of the United States Department of Justice.

I also can tell you for sure, if you look at the Justice Department's internal procedures, approval for the search warrant would have had to go down to the DOJ bosses in D.C. for a search warrant of this magnitude against a known public figure.

The other thing to keep in mind is the Southern District of New York has a long history of bringing public corruption investigations, and in some cases, prosecutions of high-ranking politicians of both parties, including in the last several years, the leading Democrat and Republican in the New York State Assembly and Senate.

Joey makes a very good point though. There is a history of the SDNY going after, prosecuting and convicting high-ranking public officials, but there's also a history of investigations swirling around high- ranking public officials that did not result in criminal charges. So, that's what we do know, but there's a lot we still have to wait and see.

ACOSTA: And, Joey, based on what we know so far, what federal crimes could investigators be looking at, do you think?

JACKSON: Yes, I think they're honing in on any relations to Turkey and any relation that the mayor may have had.

Apparently, when he was Brooklyn Borough president, he made a visit there. So, that doesn't mean anything of itself, but I think they're investigating whether there's any connection and whether that would result in any campaign finance violation.

And to the extent that it did, I think that they would pursue that. And they would pursue whether he had knowledge of it, whether he directed it, whether it was his campaign staff, whether he introduced anyone, again, all speculative because we don't know. But in reading the tea leaves with regard to what they're concerned about that is the authorities, Jim, it looks like that is what they're investigating. That's the basis of it.

And we should, last point, know that because they investigated his chief fundraiser and, of course, went to her home and executed a search warrant, what information was gleaned there? Was there any connection to the mayor from that information or did they simply need more? So, what's the nexus between that?

No investigation is done in isolation. You connect the dots and the pieces. And if they lead to the mayor, the chips will fall as they may. No indication that they do, but certainly the search warrant is telling if it was ultimately approved to go to him that, you know, something is of concern that authorities believe is worthy enough to investigate for it.

ACOSTA: All right, gentlemen, thank you very much. A lot of news tonight, got to get going. But, Elie Honig, Joey Jackson, John Avlon, thanks to all of you. We really appreciate it.

Just ahead, what the new bombardment of Gaza could signal about Israel's next military move. We're also learning more about negotiations aimed at freeing hostages held by Hamas.

Plus, the judge and Donald Trump's classified documents trial, nixes his request for a delay, at least for now.



ACOSTA: Tonight, CNN's crew on the ground in Israel has witnessed an intense new bombardment of Gaza.

Our Nic Robertson is on the scene reporting from Sderot, not far from Gaza. Nic, what are you seeing and hearing tonight? It looks like a lot of activity.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, it was a lot of activity earlier. I was still hearing a lot of detonations. There was another one just now coming from the Jabalya refugee camp area. That's right in the northern end of the Gaza Strip.

And what we were witnessing were flares being put in the sky. They kind of like hang there over the battlefield. There was like a smoke screen on the ground. And when you see that, you know the troops are going in for a battle.

They're illuminating the ground. They've got a smoke screen so the Hamas can't see them. And we saw a lot of rockets coming down on that position as well, rockets and maybe heavy machine gun fire from an Apache helicopter. But a lot of fire was put into that area, a lot of explosions. And this is what the IDF says they're doing. They're going into areas, isolating pockets of Hamas and then concentrating firepower on them.

But what is fascinating about seeing this tonight, two weeks now since the ground incursion began, the Jabalya refugee camp is only a few miles into Northern Gaza, yet the troops are still having a big battle flushing out Hamas there.

The whole of the Gaza Strip is 26 miles long. So, that gives you an idea. If a couple of miles in, two weeks still having big fights, gives you an idea of just how long it's going to take the IDF to get right to the south of Gaza, which is what they say they want to do.

And that gets you to the underlying tensions between the White House and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu right now.

ACOSTA: Exactly. And, Nic, how are Palestinians being impacted in Gaza by all of this? I would have to think just a heavy toll.



The IDF is creating the humanitarian corridor, so people can get from the north to the south. Tens of thousands went today, civilians.

But the situation for them isn't getting any better. The International Committee for the Red Cross said the healthcare system in Gaza is at a point of no return. There are tanks parked outside some of hospitals. We're hearing reports that hospitals are evacuating doctors and patients. The Hamas-run health authority in Gaza says that 193 health workers killed, 60 ambulances damaged, 21 out of 35 hospitals out of commission, 53 out of 72 healthcare centers are out of commission as well.

So, what's the picture? The picture is the IDF can go after Hamas, but the humanitarian situation is getting worse. Plus, all those folks now in the south of Gaza, you're doubling the density of the civilian population.

But the IDF is still going to continue to move into the south where you now have more people. And the issue is, again, how do you avoid civilian casualties, day after day after day, civilian casualties. We've seen it again today, Jim.

ACOSTA: All right. Nic Robertson on the scene for us, Nic, thank you very much. We appreciate it.

Right now, we're getting new information about efforts to free dozens of hostages held by Hamas in Gaza, including Americans.

CNN's M.J. Lee is at the White House with new information. M.J., what are you learning about a potential deal under discussion and what would it look like?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Jim, I am told by a senior U.S. official that the parties involved in the ongoing negotiations to try to secure the release of these hostages being held by Hamas in Gaza, that they are looking towards and working towards a deal that would entail a multiple sustained, days-long pause in fighting in exchange for a large group of these hostages being freed.

And that if a deal were struck, the hostages would leave Gaza in stages over the course of multiple days, and that the first priority would be given to the most vulnerable populations, including, of course, children and women. But just in a sign of how incredibly delicate and challenging these negotiations are, the senior U.S. official telling me that a deal has been closed before and that there's no certainty at all that a deal can ultimately be struck. I'm also told that there are many, many details that still need to be worked out, and that if a deal were to be struck, it would still be days before that fact came to fruition.

I'm also told that obviously we have seen Israel, and as Nic was just reporting, scenes of unrelenting Gaza offensive from the Israelis, and Israeli officials have sort of made it clear that they see an aggressive offensive in Gaza as being key to getting these hostages out.

CNN, of course, has also previously reported on the idea of the exchange of hostages in Gaza for Palestinian prisoners that are being held by the Israelis, being a central component of these negotiations.

Now, all of this comes as the Biden administration continues to say that they are alarmed about the Palestinian death toll and the humanitarian toll that this conflict is causing. We saw just today Secretary of State Antony Blinken saying in the bluntest terms that we have heard yet far too many Palestinians have been killed in this conflict. Jim?

ACOSTA: All right. M.J. Lee with some new reporting for us at the White House, M.J., thank you very much.

As Secretary of State Blinken sharpens his criticism of civilian deaths in Gaza, Israel's military's rules of engagement are under severe scrutiny, as CNN's as Jeremy Diamond reports.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The lifeless body in Mohammed Alaloul's arms is his child, killed in an Israeli airstrike on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp. But it takes three more small bodies to tell the story of this man's loss. Four of his five children were among the 47 people killed in that same strike.

A spokesman for the Israeli military would only say it struck military targets embedded in the residential neighborhood. This is a lie, Alaloul, a photojournalist, tells me. The Israeli army targets the safe civilians in their houses, targets children, women, evacuees. Where are the resistance fighters they are targeting?

At least 11,000 Palestinians have been killed in 34 days of war in Gaza. More than 4,500 are children, by definition, civilians. Altogether, women, children and the elderly account for nearly three quarters of the dead, according to the Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health.

The staggering death toll, catapulting international outcry and tepid American pressure to new levels.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Far too many Palestinians have been killed. Far too many have suffered these past weeks. DIAMOND: Israel says it abides by international law and aims to minimize civilian casualties, pointing warnings to civilians to flee south.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER: But I can tell you one thing, we're going out of our way to prevent civilian casualties.

DIAMOND: Israeli officials instead blame Hamas for using civilians as human shields.

NETANYAHU: This question should be placed on Hamas. And the more it's placed on Israel, the more you're going to see this repeated again and again and again.

DIAMOND: International law experts agree that Hamas is committing war crimes.

CLIVE BALDWIN, SENIOR LEGAL ADVISOR, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: It is unlawful under the laws of war to put civilians into harm's way. But even if Hamas are doing that, that does not remove Israel's obligations at all times to minimize the impact on civilians.

DIAMOND: Human Rights Watch hasn't formally accused Israel of war crimes in any individual strike, but they are raising serious concerns.

BALDWIN: The totality of civilian loss, including civilian destruction, raises a lot of very serious concerns about what Israel has done, whether the laws of war have been respected, and if they've been deliberate or reckless attacks that violate the laws of war, that that amounts to war crimes.

DIAMOND: The Israeli Human Rights Group, B'Tselem, is more blunt.

ROY YELLIN, DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC OUTREACH, B'TSELEM: Israel has committed war crimes. Israel has failed to provide us with proof in previous times, in previous rounds of war in Gaza, that the military advantage that it's going to get by striking those residential homes is going to outweigh the collateral damage.

DIAMOND: The Israeli military declined to make one of its commanders or lawyers available to answer these questions on camera. A senior IDF official insisted its strikes are proportionate. Those include strikes on Jabalya, which leveled entire buildings and killed at least 100 people in back-to-back strikes, according to doctors at the nearest hospital.

The target, a senior Hamas commander, multiple Hamas militants and an underground command center, according to the IDF.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: But you know that there are a lot of refugees, a lot of innocent civilians, men, women and children in that refugee camp as well, right? LT. COL. RICHARD HECHT, IDF SPOKESMAN: This is the tragedy of war, Wolf. I mean, we -- as you know, we've been staying for days, moved south.

DIAMOND: Six days after his children were killed, Mohammed Alaloul is back at work. But he won't ever feel the tug of his son, Qinan (ph), before he walks out the door.

Baba, stay at home so we see you (INAUDIBLE) follow the day of the airstrike, please stay, Baba. Don't go.


ACOSTA: And that was CNN's Jeremy Diamond reporting from Israel for us.

Coming up, President Biden deploys Vice President Kamala Harris to South Carolina as he tries to rebuild the coalition that sent him to the White House. What it says about is 2024 presidential campaign, that's next.



ACOSTA: As President Biden tries to shore up the shaky coalition behind his 2020 election victory, he's deploying Vice President Kamala Harris to South Carolina to rally African American voters, and CNN's Eva McKend has the latest.


EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Vice President Kamala Harris on the trail in South Carolina.

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Officially presented with our papers (ph).

MCKEND: Filing paperwork for the Biden-Harris team to appear on the state's Democratic primary ballot.

HARRIS: It was South Carolina that created the path to the White House for Joe Biden and me.

MCKEND: In 2020, Biden's decisive South Carolina primary victory helped propel him to the party's nomination.

HARRIS: I'm here to say thank you. I am here to say let's do it again.

MCKEND: Harris also taking a moment to celebrate big Democratic election wins this week.

HARRIS: We are here with the wind in our back because did anyone notice what happened on Tuesday?

MCKEND: President Biden also tired those wins at a Chicago fundraiser Thursday, blaming Donald Trump for the Republican losses, saying we haven't stopped winning and he hasn't stopped losing. The truth is this guy can't get tired of losing.

Tuesday's election results in Ohio, Kentucky and Virginia signaled abortion rights remain a galvanizing issue for Democrats, a point Biden emphasized during the fundraiser, saying they practically dared the women of America, while adding Trump is the only reason there are abortion bans in America.

Those comments coming amid a series of polls showing signs of cracks in Biden's coalition. Allies acknowledge there is still work to do.

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): There are some people that are not in sync with the campaign. And what we've got to do is make sure that people understand what we've done and why we did not do more.

MCKEND: Also complicating matters --


MCKEND: -- the field of third-party candidates growing with Jill Stein announcing her bid for the green party nomination, joining Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Cornell West running as independents.

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): What I will be doing is traveling the country and speaking out to see if there is an interest in creating a movement to mobilize the middle.

MCKEND: And West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin, stoking speculation about a White House bid after announcing he won't seek re-election, a challenge to Democratic hopes of maintaining control of the Senate.



MCKEND (on camera): And Biden facing another potential threat, No Labels. They are groups that brand themselves as a voice for America's commonsense majority. Well, they say they're still mulling over a so- called alternative unity presidential ticket. That group will hold media briefings next week. Jim?

ACOSTA: All right. Eva McKend, thank you so much for that report. We appreciate it.

Let's get more from our political experts. Gloria Borger, let me go to you first. President Biden going right after Donald Trump and these remarks at that fundraiser. What do you think of that?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think that Biden is looking at the polls and he's realizing that he can't just stay in the Rose Garden and pay no attention to Donald Trump. And so I think we're seeing gradually a bit of a shift in White House strategy.

I'm not saying that it's full blown, but I think that you're going to see Biden take the gloves off maybe one finger at a time here, but I think that's what we saw.

ACOSTA: And, Kate, what did you make of Jim Clyburn, who is an ally of the president, saying that there are some voters out there who are not in sync with the president?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, he's being honest. I mean, we've certainly seen a number of polls that show that the level of support amongst the core coalition of voters who got Joe Biden and Kamala Harris elected in 2020 isn't as strong right at this moment.

So, I think what he's saying is he's just -- he's calling it like it is. And he's essentially saying to people who would look at a Donald Trump presidency and say, I don't want that again. Well, then you got to turn out and vote. You got to come out.

And I think that the Biden campaign has a year to make the case for the things that they've done. I would certainly argue that they've made enormous strides in making people's lives better. And they've got a year to make that case and to make it also by drawing the strong contrast, which you heard President Biden do today with Donald Trump. The more this race is about the contrast between Joe Biden and Kamala Harris and Donald Trump, the better that is for Biden and Harris.

ACOSTA: And, Scott Jennings, Trump has tried to moderate his position on abortion more so than his 2024 GOP rivals. But we're seeing the Biden folks, the president himself reminding people Trump appointed the justices who overturned Roe. How do you see this playing out?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think Trump perceives that he's going to have to moderate because of what we're seeing happen in some of these elections. But that, of course, is complicated by his own record. And I'm sure the Democrats are happy to point this out.

I mean, the Democrats would rather have a referendum on this than a referendum on Joe Biden's performance on the economy. That's why his approval rating is low. That's why he's losing in the swing states right now to Donald Trump. And so changing the subject is the goal, I would think, of the White House, and you're seeing that out of them.

I just am not sure you're going to be able to do it because of the absolute anger and anxiety over the economy that exists broadly, and also the anxiety and concern about whether Joe Biden has the mental acuity to serve a second term and some swing state polls that have come out. You've seen people, Democrats, Republicans, independents all say we're just not sure he's up to it. And that's not really a policy problem that can be fixed.

ACOSTA: And, of course, there have been questions about that for Donald Trump as well.

Gloria, let me ask you this. Speaking of anger and anxiety, the federal government is set to shut down one week from today. Mike Johnson is facing his first big test as the speaker of the House. But we haven't seen any kind of a plan to keep the government going. What do you think?

BORGER: Well, I think it's a mess. And I think there's a new speaker, but there's not a new House Republican Party. And it's the same old questions that Kevin McCarthy had to deal with, which is how do you placate the moderates and placate the right wing of the party, and how do you get anything passed that's going to go anywhere in the Senate. So, same old problems, and I think he's compounding his problem by kind of keeping his plans secret.

Now, I know that Republicans are supposed to talk tomorrow, but it's not -- it's never a good idea to sort of spring something on a caucus this late in the game. And he has to put something on the record so they can vote on it by early next week. So, I think the honeymoon may be over and he's probably beginning to realize what Kevin McCarthy was going through.

ACOSTA: Yes. And, Kate, I mean, what do you think the view is over at the White House? Are they licking their chops over there, the new House speaker may let the government shut down?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, no, because I think they're frustrated that they don't have a functioning partner in government. I mean, they don't want to see the government shut down either.

Now, look, from a political perspective, is this something that the Republicans are going to have to own? Yes, of course it is. I mean, we're seeing -- as Gloria was saying, you're seeing a speaker who hasn't even been able to make public the plan that he intends to put forward to try to get his caucus to yes in order to get a bill that could hypothetically pass the Senate. I mean, they are in the tall grass. They are out in the weeds. So, politically, this is not good for the Republican Party.

But from the White House's perspective, they want a functioning governing partner.


They want to be able to get critical aid to Israel, critical aid to Ukraine, and a bill that funds the government that ensures that, for example, our military who are currently serving get paid.

So, they're definitely -- they're frustrated, and they're hoping that Republicans are going to be able to get their act together, put forward a bill, and then try to move this process along.

ACOSTA: Scott?

JENNINGS: Well, they're a little bit of a mess right now, but what they need to do is buy themselves some time and get a C.R. probably until January.

I do think getting aid to Israel is vital, and if I were in Johnson's position, I might dare the Democrats and the White House to turn away from or veto even a bill that funded the government and provided aid to Israel. That would put them in a little bit of a political box. I don't know if the Democrats want to go down that road or not, although half their party probably does. So, we'll see.

Johnson has got this plan. Maybe he'll unfurl it this weekend, and as Gloria said early next week, we'll head to the floor for more fun and games from the House Republicans.

ACOSTA: All right, let's hope.

BORGER: I can't wait.

ACOSTA: Not too many fun and games. We've done this way too many times. Everyone, thank you very much. No more government shutdowns, please.

All right, just ahead, there's a new development in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case against Donald Trump. We'll tell you what the judge's ruling means for the calendar.



ACOSTA: Tonight, a new blow to Donald Trump's efforts to avoid facing criminal trial until after the 2024 election. The judge in the classified documents case making a key scheduling decision today.

Let's bring in CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider. Jessica, tell us about this ruling from Judge Cannon.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jim, so the trial against Trump in Florida, it is still on track to start in May, at least right now.

So, we saw earlier this month Trump's attorneys pressing to get the trial pushed until after the 2024 election. But in the order today, Judge Aileen Cannon said that she is going to keep the May trial date, but she could reconsider that May trial date during arguments in the case that are scheduled for March 1st.

Now, what Judge Cannon did give Trump's team is a longer window on a number of upcoming deadlines in this case, in large part because she said of the volume of evidence that Trump's legal team needs to review here. That includes thousands of pages of classified documents that need to be reviewed in a specialized facility.

And also because Judge Cannon really acknowledged here that Trump's legal team, they are juggling a number of different legal cases. They've got the case in Florida, also the election subversion indictment right here in Washington. That trial date is currently set for March. And then, of course, the New York D.A. case against Trump for hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels, that trial also currently scheduled to start in March.

So, in the order today, Judge Cannon putting it this way, saying the schedules as they currently stand overlap substantially with the deadlines in this case, presenting additional challenges to ensuring Defendant Trump has adequate time to prepare for trial and to assist in his defense.

So, Jim, Judge Cannon here, she's leaving the door open to maybe moving the start of the trial date in May. It's an argument that Trump's team will be able to make again at a hearing March 1st. And Trump's spokesperson today saying that his legal team, in fact, does look forward to bringing up, once again, possibly moving the trial date when that next hearing in March happens, Jim. So, we'll see.

ACOSTA: They would certainly like to see that happen after the election next year. Jessica Schneider, thank you very much.

Let's dig a little deeper now into the judge's decision with David Weinstein, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Florida.

David, I want to get your read on this judge's ruling. How likely do you think it is that this trial date holds for next May? It sounds like from where Jessica Schneider was saying a few moments ago, she is leaving the door open.

DAVID WEINSTEIN, FORMER ASSISTAND U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF FLORIDA: She's left it wide open, Jim. I think a lot of it's going to depend on what happens in the case in D.C. and then the other case in New York and where those trial settings get pushed. She's given them an opportunity.

It's not an outright denial. She very much said without prejudice. So, they need to do the work they've been assigned to do between now and that March 1st hearing. And then they'll come back to Judge Cannon and say, well, we did the work, Judge, and we're still not ready. And we have many other conflicts and you need to move this case again. And at that point, she'll have to decide, is it going to stay in May or is it going to get pushed farther into 2024?

ACOSTA: And, David, this case has more than a million pages of discovery. 5,000 of them are classified documents. How does handling this much sensitive information impact this pretrial timeline?

WEINSTEIN: Well, she's given them deadlines to look at this information. She's given the government deadlines to tell her what should be kept out, what should be kept in, what should be disclosed.

One of the defendants, they don't want them to see any of these classified documents. I think, Jim, the thing that's getting lost on all of this is it's not so much what's in the documents. It's the fact that they were classified and that they were taken from a place where they should have been and put somewhere where they shouldn't have been.

That's what the crux is. The defense is entitled to look at what's in those documents and raise whatever issues there are with regard to the classification. But that's not really the crux of the issue.

The issue is, were they somewhere that they shouldn't have been?

ACOSTA: And you spend years at the Southern District of Florida as we learn more about how this trial is shaving up, including our reporting that the special counsel could call a Ma-a-Lago maid, plumber, and chauffeur to testify.

How are you thinking about what will be this unprecedented trial? How do you think it's going to play out?

WEINSTEIN: Well, I think it's going to be interesting to see if the courthouse in Fort Pierce is going to be able to handle, not just the trial itself, but the influx of media and everyone around the world who wants to follow this trial.

The case was filed in that part of the district. That's where the case should be tried. But can that courthouse handle this.


There have been a number of other cases in our district where there have been as much complications, and complicated facts, and secret documents, those have all been handled fine. But those have primarily been either in Miami, or in Fort Lauderdale. So, it'll be interesting to see is how can Fort Pierce handle this case?

ACOSTA: All right. It's going to be a heavy load I think.

David Weinstein, thank you very much for your time. We appreciate it.

Coming up, as antisemitic incidents at U.S. schools and synagogues rise following Hamas's horrific attack on Israel last month, CNN investigates if and how this trend can be stopped.

Stick around for a preview of CNN's "THE WHOLE STORY".


ACOSTA: On Sunday night, CNN's Dana Bash investigates why the Jewish community faces the highest threat in America on "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER". Here's a preview.



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Since the attack on Israel, on October 7th, how has your role become more vital?

DEBORAH LIPSTADT, SPECIAL ENVOY TO MONITOR AND COMBAT ANTISEMITISM: In the wake of the attack, we began to see, first a surge, and then a spike, then an explosion, and now a tsunami of antisemitism, worldwide, in Paris, in London, in Germany.

In Australia, it was gas the Jews, get rid of the Jews, let's have a Jew-free zone.

It's not about being pro-Hamas, or anti-Israel, it's about antisemitism.

BASH: Lipstadt was appointed ambassador because she is one of the world's foremost academic experts on antisemitism.

LIPSTADT: Do you know how, when the yellow light is flashing, antisemitism is that amber light. And what it's signaling is that antisemitism is coming, and it's a threat to democracy.


ACOSTA: And CNN's Dana Bash is with us now with just a remarkable, and disturbing whole story.

Dana, what are you hearing about the level of fear and concern right now in the Jewish community, since October 7th?

BASH: I mean, you know, if it's 1 to 10, it's not a 25. It is just, something, that frankly, I never thought that I would see in my lifetime, in the United States of America. And it is being felt, really, not only across the country, Jim, but across the world.

I thought what Deborah Lipstadt, which, by the way, she is the U.S. ambassador, her focus is on antisemitism, globally. And the fact that that even exist, and, of course, it existed before October 7th, that's quite telling. But she is also an academic expert, maybe the foremost expert on holocaust studies and on antisemitism.

And what she said is that, what antisemitism is, and we've seen this for millennia now, as it gets worse and worse, it's kind of a canary in a coal mine for democracies that are having serious trouble. And that's why this is not just a problem for the Jewish community, which it, is but it is a problem if you look at it through a historical lens for Democratic societies and governments.

ACOSTA: Yeah, and what's awful about all of this is that you -- you would think that after October 7th, there would be more sympathy for the Jewish community around the world. The opposite is happening, we see more and more rage and hostility. And it's just -- it's mind- boggling.

BASH: You know, that's the exact question I asked to several people who I talked to in this hour, that when we generally see a person or a group that is the victim of just terrorism in general, but something like this, which was so brutal, so barbaric, the world does tend to rally around that person or group. And in this case, just the opposite has happened.

That started, Jim, before Israel retaliated against Hamas in Gaza. It happened almost immediately. And part of the reason, because antisemitism was already growing. I first did an hour about this in 2022, because of the rise. And what happens is, when lane antisemitism is there they see an opportunity, maybe even a roadmap for other anger, and other threats. A lot of the online threats that are becoming more and more vocal, and apparent are threats that mimic what these terrorists did to innocent civilians. And, it's is really just atrocious.

The question is, how do we deal with it? Education, education, education. But also condemning it, and calling it out, on a government level, university level, on the corporate level.

ACOSTA: Absolutely. It's chilling, but also, you make the exact right point, which is, let's talk about. It let's get it out in the open, let's make sure that we are doing things, like what you're doing with the special.

Dana, thank you very much. Be sure to tune in. An all new episode on "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER", one whole hour, one whole story, it airs Sunday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.

Coming up, Wolf Blitzer sits down with an Israeli family forever changed on October 7th. Their 21-year-old son attended the Nova Music Festival that his family believes he is one of the hundreds held hostage by Hamas. We'll bring you that story, next.



ACOSTA: Finally, our Wolf Blitzer spoke with one family praying for the safe return of a young man kidnapped by Hamas.


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST (voice-over): This is a traditional Shabbat meal for the Meir family, but in the months since the Hamas terror attacks, an empty chair looms over the gathering, 21-year-old Almog Meir should be sitting at the head of the table.

ORIT MEIR, SON KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: Very happy guy, smart, with lots of friends.

BLITZER: But on the morning of October 7th, he was at the Nova music festival in the Israeli desert, near the Gaza border.

MEIR: He called me, he woke me up and said to me, mom, there are rockets all over, and shooting. I don't know what is going on. I'm hiding. I'll call you every half an hour. Mom, I love you.

BLITZER: Eventually, the Meir family found out Almog and his four friends tried to escape the terrorist by driving away.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They started to drive but the shooting of the Hamas stopped them. And they had to leave the car.

BLITZER: His uncle says, Almog is the only one of his four friends who survived. Since that last phone call, the family has not heard from him but they've seen Hamas video of him being held in Gaza.

MEIR: In the video clip, we recognized Almog. He was lying on the floor and Almog covered his face with his hands. He was looking frightened.

BLITZER: Now, the family focuses on getting Almog and the other hostages home.

MEIR: Everything changed. No sleeping, no eating. All the time, thinking about him. It's now my life.

BLITZER: Wolf Blitzer, CNN, Tel Aviv, Israel.


ACOSTA: And "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.