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Biden Says Gaza Hospital Must Be Protected Amid Israeli Strikes; CNN Goes Inside Gaza With Israeli Forces; Donald Trump Jr. Wraps Defense Testimony In Civil Fraud Trial; Speaker Mike Johnson Facing Critical Test Ahead Of Shutdown Deadline On Friday; NYC Mayor To Face Reporters Tomorrow Amid Federal Probe. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 13, 2023 - 18:00   ET


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: H-F-O-T, Homes for Our Troops. H-F-O-T.


Some of the items, you can visit the set of Mythic Quest or Severance. You can zoom with John Stewart or Ahmad Rashad or Elizabeth Banks or Eric Stone Street. You can have lunch with me and Paul Rudd. I know Paul is the attraction, I get it. Or lunch with Erin Brockovich or lunch with Kevin Pollock. So much more, it's all there, it's all ending and like the next hour or so. All proceeds go to build specially designed homes for the most severely wounded U.S. veterans., Homes for Our Troops.

Thank you so much. Wolf Blitzer picks it up right now in The Situation Room. See you tomorrow.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, President Biden says Gaza's largest hospital should be, should be protected as Israel insists it's striking medical centers Hamas is using as cover. Hospital officials reported catastrophic conditions and increasingly desperate measures to try to keep premature babies and other patients alive.

Also this hour, we're following CNN goes inside Gaza with Israeli forces getting an up-close look at the enormous scope of the destruction. The IDF showing tunnels, it says, were used by Hamas, including beneath a children's hospital.

And Donald Trump Jr. wraps up the testimony for the defense in the $250 million civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization. Trump Jr. praising his father as a real estate artist, even as the case threatens the family's entire business empire.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

We begin this hour with the health system in Gaza nearing total collapse. New hospital horror stories emerging as Israel defends attacks in and around medical facilities where it says Hamas has dug in.

Let's go to CNN's Oren Liebermann. He's joining us from Tel Aviv right now. Oren, how dire are these conditions? What are you learning? OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, much of the health system in Gaza has effectively collapsed at this point. The fighting has focused around Al-Shifa Hospital. That's the largest hospital in Gaza, as there are intense bombardments from Israel around that area and strikes. Israel says Hamas has dug in and they're fighting them there, as Hamas uses the hospital to try to defend itself and has long accused Hamas of having a facility under the hospital. That has led to essentially the hospital being cut off.

Officials from the hospital said that all essential units have closed down already, that as other hospitals, many of them across Gaza Strip, have already shut down.

Inside Shifa Hospital itself, the neonatal intensive care unit had to take babies out of the incubators because the generators no longer had the fuel or the ability to power them. That, according to officials there, has led to six babies dying as they try to keep the others alive by wrapping them in foil and keeping them near hot water.

Meanwhile, Doctors Without Borders says there are bodies piling up in the hospital complex, and we have seen video of that. They fear it is too dangerous to get the bodies out of there and try to get them away from people who are still being treated. The hospital had some 650 patients and thousands of people sheltering inside. It is a symptom of a larger health system that is far beyond the capacity to treat what is demanded.

President Joe Biden warned Israel or cautioned Israel, I should say, that the hospital itself and civilians need to be protected. Here he is earlier today.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: It is my hope and expectation that there will be less intrusive action relative to the hospital. The hospital must be protected.


LIEBERMANN: Now, the strategic communications coordinator for the National Security Council, John Kirby, later added to those comments saying he was talking about the added burden placed upon Israel to make sure it's defending civilians and trying to avoid damaging the hospital itself.

He said it is Hamas that cynically uses the hospital and tries to use -- find its own shelter under that, using it as a command node. So, the U.S. standing behind Israel's accusation that Hamas has dug in a shelter, and under the hospital there.

Meanwhile, Israel says it tried to deliver 300 liters of fuel to the hospital, but it was Hamas that prevented that from being delivered. Hospital officials say that is not, in fact, the case, that they asked the fuel to be delivered through the Red Cross, and that hospital staff were too afraid to go out to bring that fuel in.

Either way, Wolf, 300 liters of fuel is barely enough to power the hospital for 30 minutes.

BLITZER: Oren Liebermann and Tel Aviv for us. Thank you, Oren, for that report.

And now we're getting a very powerful new look at the destruction in Gaza. CNN's Nic Robertson is back in Israel right now for going into Gaza, embedded with the Israel Defense Forces. So what did you see, Nic?


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Wolf. We went about five miles into Gaza. The restrictions that were on our trip, no photographs of regular soldiers' faces, officers were fined to film and no filming of sensitive equipment that was in some of the vehicles.

I have to say in 30 years of experience of covering combat zones and wars, the level and extensive nature of the damage that we passed on the drive-in passing blown up buildings, we were driving along the coastline, along the Mediterranean coastline, to get closer to Gaza City, we were down past the Jabalya refugee camp. The number of buildings that were completely blown up and destroyed was huge and significant in many areas. All the buildings have been damaged, either collapsed or heavily damaged by fire or rocket or partially blown apart.

We got to a command post where we changed out of the soft skin vehicle and into an armored personnel carrier to go very deep into the Jabalya refugee camp area to the Al-Rantisi Children's Hospital. When we got there, the IDF top spokesperson, Admiral Daniel Hagari, was there. He wanted to show us what he said were the things that they were finding, that the IDF was finding, that was showing to them a connection between Hamas hospitals and schools.

So, he showed us a Hamas commander's house, showed us how the wiring on the rooftop solar panels from that house were being fed down into a tunnel of networks. We could see that very clearly. He said that that network stretched towards the hospital, that they were investigating that stretch of tunnel going in the direction of the hospital. A hundred yards away, he took us to the hospital.

I have to say that in that part of town, there was still a very, very intense, intense, intense fire fight going on, tanks firing, gun battles, bullets whizzing around. So, we got a real sense of just how the street by street fighting is going.

We did not see a single civilian on that trip at all, no people in Gaza. Every building that we saw either damaged, collapsed, but no civilians.

And when we did go into the hospital, what Admiral Hagari wanted to show us was a weapons cache that he said belonged to Hamas. He took us into the basement of the hospital and he showed us the weapons cache. He also showed us what he said he believed was a motorbike used by Hamas that had a bullet hole in it, used by Hamas during the October 7th attacks.

And then he showed us what he said was going to be investigated, DNA analysis by forensic teams of women's clothing by a chair and what appeared to be rope around the legs of the chair. perhaps indicating that a hostage had been held there. He showed us a rudimentary toilet that had been set up in the basement behind curtains. He found that all very suspicious pointing towards Hamas potentially, potentially using the area for keeping hostages.

And he also showed us a room that he thought was a guard room that had a list of guard duties that he said began on the 7th of October and ran all the dates, were ticked off all the way to the 3rd of October when the hospital began to be evacuated.

Now, he said the hospital, when they first got there, still had staff in it. That was five days ago inpatients. He said over the past five days, the hospital staff evacuated all the patients from there. And that's when the IDF blew their way in. And he said, when they got inside in the basement, that's when they realized their suspicions of the connection of this building to Hamas.

And under the International Committee for the Red Cross' assessment of international humanitarian law during a wartime, if a hospital is used for storing weapons, then that takes it off, if you will, a protected building status. Wolf?

BLITZER: Nic Robertson reporting for us, Nic, thank you very much. Glad you're back safe and sound.

I want to get some more on all of these major developments. Joining us now, a member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democrat Chris Murphy. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

Have you seen intelligence to back up Israel's claims about how Hamas operates around these hospitals and from these hospitals? Does that justify the catastrophic impact of Israel's operations that are going out in the impact on innocent patients?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): Well, I am absolutely confident that part of Hamas's strategy is to use human beings, the people of Gaza, as human shields. That has been their method of operation from the very beginning. They have long embedded themselves and their weapons in and underneath hospitals, schools, mosques, religious centers.


And so to the extent that there are very high numbers of civilian casualties, the primary responsibility for that lies with Hamas. Let's be 100 percent clear about this. And as you heard Nic Robertson just report when Hamas makes that decision, to put large weapons caches in these buildings, well, then the Israeli military does have an obligation to try to go after those significant stores of weapons that are going to be used eventually against Israel.

Now, Wolf as you know I think the civilian casualty count has been far too high I have advised that Israel be much more targeted and surgical in its strikes. I ultimately think the number of civilians dying, it has a moral cost, but it also has a long-term strategic cost to Israel. But I also continue to lay the primary responsibility for everything that is happening today at the feet of Hamas.

BLITZER: President Biden says he wants what he calls less intrusive operations around these Gaza hospitals. What tangible steps, Senator, do you want to see Israel take to target Hamas, yes, while protecting the innocent patients, doctors and civilians who are sheltering inside those hospitals?

MURPHY: Well, every time you make a decision about an airstrike or ground operation, you have to weigh the value of the target that you're going after and the number of civilians that are going to be harmed. And I would hope that Israel is going to place a high, maybe higher level of importance on the number of civilians that are affected by these operations.

But, second, hospitals need fuel in order to run, they need medical supplies, and right now we are still, from what I have heard from humanitarian operators on the ground, we are not getting enough fuel in particular into Gaza right now. There are responsible operators that can make sure that it doesn't land in the hands of Hamas. The World Food Program is one of those potential partners. And we've got to see in the next 48 hours more fuel get into Gaza.

Of course, Hamas has plenty of fuel. Hamas could choose to give the fuel they have to civilians but that's not what Hamas does. Hamas is willing to let all these civilians die. The United States and Israel are not and should not be willing to.

BLITZER: I want to get your thoughts on another sensitive issue that seems to be exploding right now. American forces, U.S. forces in Syria, Senator, as you well know, have come under attack at least four times since the U.S. carried out airstrikes on Iranian proxy targets there in Syria. That was last night. Why have U.S. retaliatory strikes failed to deter these Iranian-backed aggressors?

MURPHY: Well, as you know, these Iranian-backed aggressors are a dispersed force without a central command structure. They certainly get a permission slip from Iran but they are often acting alone. And so we may hit one group and then get attacked the next day by another group.

And, you know, to me, you know, this begs the long-term question, are we sure that the United States is getting more benefit than risk from the large number of somewhat unprotected forces that we have in the region? I have long called for the United States to downsize its military and security footprint in places like Syria and Iraq, in part, because we end up being targets for a lot of these militia groups.

And, ultimately, you know, we could be in a situation where a large number of Americans get killed, perhaps by an Iranian backed militia. And then we are in a very different scenario, perhaps with the necessity of delivering a strike at Iran itself. None of us want to be in that position. And so we've got to have a long-term conversation about how our forces are deployed in the region.

BLITZER: Yes, important point. Senator Chris Murphy, thanks, as usual, for joining us.

MURPHY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead. Donald Trump takes the stand -- Donald Trump, Jr. takes the stand at a second time in a trial that could determine the future of Trump's businesses.

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



BLITZER: Donald Trump Jr. wrapping up his testimony today as the first witness for his father's defense team in the $250 million civil fraud trial they're facing in New York. The former president's eldest son returning to the stand in the case that potentially could determine the future of the family business.

CNN's Kara Scannell has details for us. Kara, so what did Donald Trump Jr. have to say?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, Donald Trump Jr.'s testimony was very much like a promotional pitch. He walked through a number of their properties more than a dozen with glossy photos being projected onto the screen inside the courtroom. And he was describing what he said with his father as a visionary, saying that he was an artist, had he had transformed dilapidated buildings into spectacular estates and had transformed a swamp land into a spectacular golf course and transformed the old post office building in Washington, D.C., that he described as a war zone into one of the finest hotels in the world.

He used spectacular, I counted at least 15 times to try to describe the value that the Trump Organization adds to the properties that they take over. He was on the stand for about three hours and one specific property that he said he took umbrage with was the $18 million valuation placed on Mar-a-Lago. He testified that the atrium alone would cost more than $18 million to construct today.

Now, after he left court, he spoke to reporters. Here's what he said about the attorney general's case.


DONALD TRUMP JR., DEFENDANT: I think they understand that they have nothing as it relates to a case other than, I guess, an overzealous attorney general who would destroy all of New York business by going after transactions where there are no victims.

It's a disgrace that this is happening right now.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCANNELL: Now, the judge had given more leeway to Trump's side today. The attorney general's office was objecting to even the whole use of this presentation, but the judge said that he had given the state six weeks to put on their case. So, he was giving the Trump side time to put on theirs. Wolf?

BLITZER: So, based on your reporting, Kara, how will the defense unfold from here?

SCANNELL: So, what we're expecting now is that they will call some expert witnesses over the next couple of days.


Then they're going to call back some Trump Organization executives who will be testifying. They've also said they will call back Eric Trump and put him back on the stand. And it's very likely that the former president himself will be called to testify. They say they expect to wrap their case by the middle of next month. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right. Kara, stay with us. I also want to bring in Tom Dupree, former deputy assistant attorney general. We'll break down today's testimony.

Tom, so what do you make of how the defense's case seemed to be shaping up at least so far?

TOM DUPREE, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Yes. Today, Wolf, was really the curtain raiser. This is the Trump defense team putting out Donald Jr. to paint a very different picture of the Trump Organization than the one the attorney general had set out. They wanted to start today big, paint in broad strokes, explain in Donald Jr.'s words how his father was a visionary and an artist in the area of real estate.

I think they wanted to set the tone today, Wolf, in order to persuade the judge that this was the quintessential American business success story. And then as Kara reported in the days to come, they're going to get more granular, getting into the accounting details in order to defend themselves from the attorney general's charges.

BLITZER: And, Kara, I'm curious, what did Don Jr. say about the implications of the 2024 election on the family business?

SCANNELL: Well, he was asked, what was the future of the Trump Organization since they had put a lot of their expansion on hold when his father became president. So, he said it will depend a lot on the election in November, but he said he would not be surprised if they will probably have to put this on hold for a little while, any future development. And he also said that he expects that they will be sued into oblivion for the foreseeable future, so, certainly saying that if his father does win re-election, they expect the company's business to be in a holding pattern. Of course, a lot of that will depend on the outcome of this case.

BLITZER: Tom, were you surprised to see the judge in this case strike a friendlier tone with Donald Trump Jr. compared to his tension with the former president when he took the stand?

DUPREE: You know, I really wasn't. I think from the judge's perspective, his attitude is he needs to give the defense ample leeway. He gave the prosecutors a lot of leeway. And this is a judge who knows very well that any decision he renders in this case is going up on appeal. And so he wants to insulate his decision from arguments on appeal that he didn't let the defense put on their case.

In fact, there were several points today where he emphasized that he was going to let the Trump defense team put all on this put on this evidence, but on this testimony, it didn't mean he found that relevant or persuasive, but he nonetheless wanted to allow them to have their day in court and have their say.

BLITZER: And, Tom, do you expect the former president to take the stand again? And how would that impact the defense's case?

DUPREE: I do think he'll come back. I think, to me, I think there's more that he needs to say. I think there's more he wants to say. He's somewhat, I think, irrepressible and that he wants to have his voice heard in court.

And, look, I think that this will give his defense team an opportunity to push a little harder on the valuations, the reasons for why he approved these or why he signed off on these in an attempt to persuade the judge to back off his initial conclusion that these valuations weren't made in good faith. So, yes, I do think we're going to see a repeat appearance from the former president before the dust settles.

BLITZER: And, Kara, how is the attorney general's office reading today, reacting to all of this?

SCANNELL: I mean, there were a number of objections during the presentation today, but, essentially, the judge had said, I'm going to give them the opportunity, the Trump side, to put on their case. So, he was sending them the message that they needed to let this happen.

Of course, the A.G.'s office is expected to cross-examine a number of these witnesses. They're going to have experts coming on to testify. And it will go to these issues of valuations, as well as what the roles were of individuals at the Trump Organization and their knowledge.

So, we can expect there to be an active cross-examination of several of the witnesses, particularly the ones that haven't been called yet for the A.G.'s office to challenge them on their findings and their rationale for coming up with the valuations and defending how the Trump Organization had factored into their decision on those financial statements.

BLITZER: This could go on for a while. Kara Scannell, Tom Dupree, to both of you, thank you very much.

Coming up, we'll hear from a young U.S. citizen hold up inside one of Gaza's hospitals, devastated by more than a month of war.



BLITZER: We're getting another grim look inside a Gaza hospital in a state of collapse as Israel's war against Hamas rages. CNN's Jomana Karadsheh reports on conditions at the Al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City, where some civilians, including U.S. citizens, have been sheltering.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Darkness has descended on yet another Gaza medical facility, Al-Quds Hospital, where they've been trying to save lives with the very little they had left, but it's become nearly impossible.

This was Al-Quds just hours before Gaza's second largest hospital was declared out of service on Sunday. Like other hospitals in the north, the fighting has been closing in on Al-Quds where thousands of displaced had been sheltering alongside the injured.

Among them are at least two U.S. citizens, Farah Abuolba and her mother, Nuha.

FARAH ABUOLBA, INJURED AMERICAN IN GAZA: I want to feel like, oh, I can move my fingers. My fingers are gone now.

KARADSHEH: Farah says she was injured in an attack on their bus on the road south as they tried to make their way for a third time to the Rafah crossing with Egypt.


The family blames Israel, whose military denied to CNN that they struck that street on that day.

F. ABUOLBA: I walked from the beach. Like it was probably three miles from the beach to the hospital. I could have given up. I felt like all my blood -- all my blood dripped all over me. How I felt when I saw my hand falling or how I felt my skin just -- and my bones breaking and how I saw my wrist just turned blue, I knew that my hand was gone.

KARADSHEH: This interview with Farah was filmed a few days ago by a journalist working for CNN on the eve of her 17th birthday before the hospital was almost completely cut off from the outside world.

F. ABUOLBA: When I sleep, I dream of what happened to me.

I can hear the rockets when they hit me, and my sister and my mom just screaming when they saw my hand fall.

KARADSHEH: This is a scene just outside the hospital. This video released by the Israeli military captures a militant carrying a rocket-propelled grenade they say was part of a group that attacked their forces. Palestinians deny anyone armed is inside. Israeli military is surrounding and targeting the hospital. Israel says it's targeting Hamas. Farah was born in Gaza and left with her family when she was three. They were back to visit family when the war broke out. For her father, Karam Abuolba in Pennsylvania, the past few weeks have been hell, desperately trying to get his wife and daughters back home, exchanging almost daily emails and calls with the State Department.

KARAM ABUOLBA, FATHER AND HUSBAND OF AMERICANS IN GAZA: I'm asking, is there a class A, class B from the U.S. citizen, for all the U.S. citizen? I pay tax for the United States of America to support the Israel, to shoot and to bomb my daughter and my wife.

I need the president. I need Mr. Blinken to listen to this message. We are a U.S. citizen. We are loyal to this country. Send the Red Cross. Send them to support the U.S. citizen. They are outside. They are not hostage with Hamas.

KARADSHEH: A father's desperation to make his family suffering heard, but like so many thousands, he feels no one is hearing Gaza's cries for help.

K. ABUOLBA: I feel everything hopeless. I feel like I'm dead.

KARADSHEH: Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


BLITZER: Thank you, Jomana Kardsheh, for that report.

Just ahead, Donald Trump calling his political enemies' names that harken back to World War II as his team plans to get revenge on his critics.



BLITZER: Former President Donald Trump is now promising to root out, his words, root out his political opponents if he wins back the White House, and is calling his political enemies vermin. The term critics say parallels the inflammatory language used by authoritarian leaders in the past.

But as seen as Kristen Holmes reports, Trump's rhetoric appears to be resonating with Republicans.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Former President Donald Trump ramping up his inflammatory rhetoric.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within.

HOLMES: Denigrating his political opponents on the left as, quote, vermin during a Veterans Day speech in New Hampshire. TRUMP: We will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.

HOLMES: The White House condemning Trump's remarks, likening them to language used by authoritarian leaders, quote, using terms like that about dissent would be unrecognizable to our founders, but horrifyingly recognizable to American veterans who put on their country's uniform in the 1940s, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement.

As the former president commands the GOP primary with his combative rhetoric, his allies are already planning an agenda for a potential second term. The proposals include leveraging the Department of Justice to go after his political rivals.

TRUMP: I mean, if somebody -- if I happen to be president and I see somebody who's doing well and beating me very badly, I say go down and indict them.

HOLMES: A Trump 2025 agenda would also expand the hard line immigration policies Trump pursued during his first term in office.

TRUMP: We will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.

HOLMES: With the mass detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants.

TRUMP: I will shut down this travesty, terminate all work permits for illegal aliens in demand that Congress send me a bill outlawing all welfare payments to illegal migrants of any kind.

HOLMES: It's part of an escalation in anti-immigrant language by the former president.

TRUMP: It's poisoning the blood of our country. It's so bad. And people are coming in with disease. People are coming in with every possible thing that you can have.

HOLMES: Trump's darkening political rhetoric appears to resonate with Republicans, as South Carolina Senator Tim Scott, who campaigned on a more optimistic message, suddenly ended his presidential bid Sunday after failing to gain traction in the polls.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), FMR. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I think the voters, who are the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear that they're telling me not to name, Tim.


HOLMES (on camera): And, Wolf, perhaps unsurprisingly, RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel was asked about this over the weekend and refused to weigh in on those vermin comments. However, she did say that she would support whoever the Republican nominee is, and that of course includes Donald Trump. Wolf? BLITZER: Kristen Holmes reporting for us, thank you very much.

I want to get some analysis from our political experts, and, Gloria Borger, I'll start with you.


Trump's use of this word vermin in describing his political opponents, Democrats we're talking about, what's your reaction to that?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, I think first of all, it's disgraceful and I think it's dangerous. And I think it is the language of an autocrat. And I think what Trump is trying to do, and it's something he's always tried to do, is be provocative.

He needs enemies to survive. Enemies are his oxygen. And I think that's what he needs to have someone to rail against. And so this kind of language is all about riling up his base. And I think it's dangerous if you look at what happened on January 6th.

BLITZER: It seems to be succeeding in that effort to rile up his base.

Let me get Marc Short's reaction to this. Specifically, I want to get your reaction to what former Republican Congresswoman Liz Cheney said about Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, when she was asked, Ron McDaniel, about Trump's statements, his comments, his remarks. This is what Liz Cheney said.

When GOP chairwoman refuses to condemn the GOP's leading candidate for using the same Nazi propaganda that mobilized the 1930s and 40s Germany to evil, it's fair to assume she's collaborating.

MARC SHORT, ADVISER TO MIKE PENCE: Look, I don't think that Donald Trump is Nazi. I think he has, as you know, a son-in-law who's Jewish. He's embraced the Jewish faith.

Having said that, Wolf, I think that for any limited government conservative, it's anathema to the notion of using the government to go after your political opponents. In fact, when he uses the same lines, it talks about communists and socialists. For many in the conservative movement, they started in opposition to what was happening across the globe behind the Iron Curtain in communist socialist countries.

So, for any Republican candidate to adopt the language, we're going to use the government to go after our political opponents, I think that's counter to what we've considered to be --

BLITZER: Well, I guess the question mark is why aren't Republicans speaking out when Trump calls his political opponents vermin? That's what the Nazis called the Jews leading up to the Holocaust.

SHORT: I understand, Wolf. But I think the reality is that the Republicans are probably tired of feeling like they have to always respond to Donald Trump. And I think that he often -- as Gloria said, I think he often does this to be provocative, to get more coverage than he otherwise would be getting.

BLITZER: What do you think, Ashley?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, you have to respond to Donald Trump if he's going to be your party's nominee. You can't ignore. He's running, he's leading in the polls. And if you don't respond to him, it's somewhat enabling him.

I don't like to call people names, but I mean, if we go back to Charlottesville when Donald Trump says there are very good people on both sides and some of the people on one side were holding Tiki torches and saying terrible anti-Semitic things about Jewish people.

BLITZER: Jews will not replace us.

ALLISON: That's right. So, I mean, if you think that that is a very good person, then that is somewhat siding with people like Nazis.

SHORT: And likewise, the left has been pretty quiet about people on college campuses today, uttering quite anti-Semitic notions and actually attacking Jews on campus as well.

ALLISON: Well, I can be really -- anti-Semitism has no place in this country. It has no place with people holding political office and college students should not be doing anti-Semitic things. But the Republican frontrunner should not either.

SHORT: Well, Democrats should be calling out college students as well.

BORGER: Well, you know, I agree with you on that. But I think you know how many times when Donald Trump was president and tweeted outrageous things and we were asking members of Congress to respond. Did they say oh I haven't read that tweet. I haven't seen the news, no, I'm not going to, and they're avoiding it now because, of course, he's the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination. And that's why Ronna McDaniel didn't want to talk about it and she said, you know, she's not involved in anyone's messaging. What kind of messaging is that?

BLITZER: She could have at least said that she deplores that kind of rhetoric.

SHORT: Wolf, you heard me, I said I think it's anathema that we as limited government conservatives believe. I think it's wrong.


BLITZER: Let me get to another issue, a sensitive issue, Gloria. We're learning more about Trump's plans to tackle the issue of immigration if he were elected president. Again, among the things he's suggesting, large-scale arrests of undocumented immigrants, detention camps for migrants awaiting deportation and an expansion of the so-called Muslim ban.

BORGER: Trump 2.0, I think there are no guardrails anymore. And I think this is what Democrats, by the way, ought to be talking about. But if you look at those things you know he tried the Muslim ban. There's a lot of legal issues involved in what he's talking about, not to mention constitutional issues.

But, again, he's trying to be provocative. This is what you're going to hear during the campaign. And there aren't people who want to rein him in. This was read on a teleprompter. You know, there are people planning for this now in great detail who are still very loyal to Donald Trump.

And, you know, I think that this is going to be a bone of contention, or should be, for every Democrat who is running everywhere in 2024.


BLITZER: Go ahead, Marc.

MARC SHORT, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: Well, I think, it's, again, he's putting out a position to negotiate in public. That's what he does. I think the reality is we're not mass deportation when he was president.

BORGER: Right.

BLITZER: I think the answer is not a Muslim ban.

But, having said that, I think of the conversation about border security, his administration is far more effective at securing the border that the Biden administration which has been an absolute failure. And so, I think if the topic of conversation, if it comes on cable news constantly as a conversation about border security, Donald Trump is winning.

ALLISON: I don't know. I just I think that when Donald Trump is running in 2016, he said pretty derogatory things. And one of the first things he did do was put on a Muslim ban. He's telling us the platform that he will run on. He separated children from their parents on the border. That is what he saying he will do, only he will send them back now.

I am open to have a policy debates, but he is saying pretty terrible things, and it should be a wake up call to Republicans. But to your point, to the Democrats, we have to stop him, and he cannot get in the White House again.

BORGER: I think he's grown more radical since -- since you were in the White House. I do, I think he's been radicalized. I think he's being encouraged in this. And as you know very well, a lot of his will have to go to court and, you know, would be unconstitutional, would Congress approve? So, there's a lot of distance between what he's talking about and what could actually come out.

BLITZER: We shall see.

All right. Guys, thank you very much.

Coming up, a huge test of the new House Speaker Mike Johnston is unfolding right now up on Capitol Hill as the deadline for a government shutdown is first approaching. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BLITZER: Tonight, the new House Speaker Mike Johnson is trying to sell fellow Republicans and all of Congress on his plan to avoid a government shutdown. The deadline to pass a funding bill is just four days from now.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is joining us from Capitol Hill.

Melanie, what's the latest?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Well, it is becoming increasingly clear, Wolf, that Speaker Mike Johnson is going to have to rely on Democratic votes, not only to pass the underlying bill, but also to overcome a key procedural hurdle. Typically, these procedural votes are done along party lines, but several conservative Republicans have signaled they're willing to vote against that rule which would prevent it from coming to the House floor. Just listen.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): I'm disappointed in this bill. And I certainly hope that this bill is not going to proceed as it's currently structured.

REP. ANDY OGLES (R-TN): Clearly, I'm a lean no. Just another clean CR that our guy continues the status quo is not going to be acceptable.


ZANONA: Now, I am told that GOP leadership is weighing a new strategy that would allow them to circumvent that GOP opposition to the procedural vote. So, what they're considering here is bringing up this government funding plan under an expedited process, known as a suspension vote, which would allow them to bring the bill immediately to the floor and essentially skip that procedural vote altogether.

But, it would require two-thirds majority in order to pass. So, a much higher bar and when that would require a significant amount of Democratic support.

Now, Democratic leaders haven't exactly took their hot hand about how they plan to vote, but they are sounding open to backing this government funding plan. Hakeem Jeffries, the House Democratic leader said they are evaluating the plan carefully. And meanwhile, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Democratic leader said it might not be perfect, but it is appearing to move in their direction.

As a reminder, this government funding plan, it does not include Israel aid or Ukraine aid, but also does not include significant spending cuts as some on the hard right were demanding. So, that might be ultimately why Democrats decide to swallow this government funding plan. But we'll get a much better sense tomorrow, that is when the house its

goal to make its first and perhaps only vote on the government funding plan and what is going to be a major test of the new speaker and his abilities to govern here, Wolf.

BLITZER: The ramifications for American public enormous right now as far as the spending bill is concerned.

Melanie Zanona up on Capitol Hill, thank you.

Coming up, the New York City Mayor Eric Adams facing tough questions after his cell phone were seized by the FBI. New reporting now emerging about what the feds may be looking for.



BLITZER: New York City Mayor Eric Adams is expected to face reporters tomorrow, as new information is emerging about a federal campaign finance investigation that prompted the FBI to seize his electronic devices.

Brian Todd is working the story for us.

Brian, there are certainly a lot of questions for Mayor Adams.


Tonight, Mayor Adams is under increasing pressure, and the federal investigation of him seems to be widening. The mayor for his part says he's got nothing to hide, and he's cooperating.


TODD (voice-over): Tonight, new information on why FBI agents publicly seized the phones and iPad recently of New York City Mayor Eric Adams. "The New York Times" reports federal investigators are looking into whether Adams pressured the city fire department to sign off on Turkish officials being able to occupy their new $300 million high- rise consulate in New York, despite safety concerns with the Manhattan building.

This was allegedly done weeks before items election, two years ago, while he was still the borough president of Brooklyn.

ELLIOTT WILLIAMS, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Law enforcement prosecutors are going to have to look closely at whether these were actions carried out by an elected official, or if they were, you know, bad acts committed by someone who was -- who was exchanging favors for action.

TODD: Analysts say just the act of trying to cut through red tape to pave the way for Turkish officials to move into the building is not necessarily a violation of anything. Adams, in a statement said, quote, as a borough president, part of my routine role was to notify government agencies of issues on behalf of constituents and constituencies. I will continue to cooperate with investigators.

But "The Times" reports there's a broader public corruption investigation at play here, that investigators are looking into whether Adams's 2021 campaign conspired with the Turkish government to funnel money from foreign nationals to his campaign, which is illegal.

JOHN MILLER, CNN CHIEF LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE ANALYST: They have also sources tell us, obtained financial records showing that those people who made the contributions were paid back in full for the contributions. That makes them straw donors, and that brings up the allegation of campaign finance fraud, not just creating straw donors, but getting matching funds for the campaign from the city.

TODD: CNN's John Miller was deputy commissioner of the New York Police Department and served under Mayor Adams. Mueller left the department in July 2022.

Mayor Adams has denied any wrongdoing, and says he has nothing to hide. Adams's phones and iPad were seized in public last week, just days after the FBI raided the home of his chief fund-raiser.

MILLER: Later, after the FBI took those phones, the mayor's office reached out to them and said there are other phones in his possession. That he would like to voluntarily turn over to make sure that you've gone through everything.


TODD (on camera): Neither Mayor Adams nor any members of his campaign have yet been accused of any wrongdoing. And as of now, no charges are publicly known to have been filed in connection with this investigation.

Adams will publicly address all of this with the media tomorrow, Wolf, and we'll know more of that.

BLITZER: We certainly will. Brian Todd reporting for us, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.