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New Blasts Over Gaza As IDF Vows To Go Anywhere Hamas If Found; Soon, Colorado Judge To Rule On Barring Trump From Ballot; Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) Releasing Nearly All Jan. 6 Security Footage; NY Woman Fighting To Free Her Six Cousins Held Hostage By Hamas; 96-Year-Old Rosalynn Carter Now Receiving Hospice Care At Home Along With 99-Year- Old Jimmy Carter. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired November 17, 2023 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We showed you a clip of this earlier in the week, but I really do recommend that you watch the entire piece.

Going Home, The War in Sudan, watch it, follow Nima's emotional journey to her family home this Sunday at 9:00 P.M. only here on CNN.

Sunday morning, I'll be on State of the Union. The guest, 2024 Republican presidential candidate, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis. That's Sunday morning at 9:00 Eastern, and again at noon here on CNN. I will see you Sunday morning.

Our coverage continues now with one. Mr. Wolf Blitzer, he is in THE SITUATION ROOM. See you Sunday morning.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, new explosions over Gaza as the Israeli military vows will advance anywhere Hamas is found, sending new signals a wider offensive in the south may be imminent.

Also tonight, we're awaiting a judge's ruling on whether to bar Donald Trump from the ballot in Colorado. Trump opponents hoping this case gives them a shot at getting the former president disqualified under the 14th Amendment's insurrectionist ban.

And House Speaker Mike Johnson is promising to release nearly all of the January 6th video security footage at the U.S. Capitol. Will it accomplish his goal of pleasing right wing lawmakers?

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.

We begin this hour near the Israeli-Gaza border with a new round of explosions in Israel's war against Hamas.

CNN's Nic Robertson is joining us now live from Sderot, in Israel, not far from Gaza. Nic, tell us what you've been seeing and hearing at your location.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, Wolf. I'm just looking over my shoulder here at the moment because we were watching tracer fire along the horizon there. Nothing to see there at the moment, but explosion have been continuing. John has just panning around to take a look.

But this evening, we've been hearing significantly heavy explosions in this strip of Northern Gaza behind us. You see a flare up in the sky there. That's where we were seeing the trace of fire just a few minutes ago, very heavy detonations. It makes it look here right now as if there was renewed offensive on a number of objectives across a wide area in the north of Gaza.

But it's also been a very sad day for several families in Israel who've received some devastating news, their loved ones who were hostages, their bodies have been recovered. I sat down with one of those families, Yehudit Waiss' family. They have learned the terrible, sad news just

in the past 24 hours.


ROBERTSON (voice over): Yehudit Waiss is the first Israeli hostage discovered by the IDF since their full incursion began almost three weeks ago. The dearly loved 65-year-old grandmother, a mother of five, was already dead.

OMER WAISS, SON OF YEHUDIT WAISS: Yesterday, we were heartbroken for the second time in a stronger way. When they told us about father, there was still hope that mother would return. And yesterday, we were told that we will not see our mother and grandmother again.

ROBERTSON: Her husband, Omer's father, Shmul, was killed October 7th when Hamas stormed their home in Be'eri Kibbutz, but even now, her death a mystery. The IDF claimed she was murdered by terrorists.

Has the IDF been able to tell you how she died?

WAISS: They could only tell us she wasn't killed on the day of the attempted rescue. They don't know if she was murdered in Gaza or her remains taken into Gaza.

ROBERTSON: Early Friday, the body of a second hostage was recovered. 19-year-old IDF Corporal Noa Marciano discovered like Yehudit by the IDF in a building near the Shifa Hospital. A Hamas propaganda video released this week that CNN is not showing claimed she died as a result of an Israeli airstrike. Omer is sure his mother did not.

ROBERTSON: You said you knew for sure that she wasn't killed in an airstrike. How do you know that?

WAISS: I can't talk about it.

ROBERTSON: But you know it.

WAISS: Yes. We have to trust in military and we trust they do everything to free them without harming them.

ROBERTSON: As fighting continues around the Al-Shifa Hospital and across Northern Gaza, the IDF estimates another 237 hostages are still missing and are vowing to continue their search and fight in the south.

REAR ADM. DANIEL HAGARI, SPOKESPERSON, IDF: We're determined to keep advancing. This will happen anywhere Hamas is found. And they're also in the southern strip.

ROBERTSON: For Omer Waiss and his family, a new type of suffering now, hope and fear, replaced by loss.


WAISS: We waited for mom for 40 days. For mom, it's too late. We need to try everything we can in order for the hostages to be returned, all of them, as quickly as possible.

ROBERTSON: For Corporal Noa Marciano's family too, a closure of sorts at her funeral in a war of abundant loss, heartbreak is never that far away.


ROBERTSON (on camera): And as we've been listening to that report, we've been seeing more trace of fire over my shoulder, hearing the sounds of gunfire picking up there, Wolf.

Hamas has made a demand for the release of the other hostages. They're saying that the IDF should remove all their drones from over Gaza. We hear these drones a lot, they are there looking on the ground for where hostages may be, of course, looking out for Hamas and looking out to make sure that the troops on the ground are safe and that strikes are intended to avoid civilians.

So, these drones are an every minute part of the battle scene here, Wolf. Hamas saying that they have to go if the hostages are to be released. Wolf?

BLITZER: Nic Robertson in Sderot, Israel for us, stay safe over there, Nic, thank you very much.

A United Nations relief official says international law has been, quote, turned on its head in Gaza as the humanitarian crisis grows more dire by the hour.

CNN's Nada Bashir has more on the danger and the desperation for the civilians on the ground. A warning, some of the images you're about to see are disturbing.


NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER (voice over): In the Central Gaza City of Deir al-Balah, heavily bombarded by Israeli airstrikes for weeks now, the Najee (ph) family is forced to live amid the ruins of what once was their home.

Khaled (ph) and his wife were rescued from beneath the rubble. Miraculously, they survived. But now, with nowhere to go, this family must make do with what little they have left.

When we saw the catastrophe before us, we tried to find shelter at a school or anywhere safe, but it was already too crowded, Khaled says.

There isn't anywhere safe to go here. As you can see, it's been raining and there is no aid getting in. I just want somewhere to shelter my family, my children.

The U.N. has warned that some 70 percent of people in Gaza are now forced to drink contaminated water. Raw sewage said to be flowing through the streets in some areas. And while the Israeli government says it will now allow two fuel tankers a day to enter Gaza to support water and sewage systems, the entire strip is set to be facing the immediate possibility of starvation, according to the U.N. World Food Program.

There is no electricity and no running water here. And as temperatures drop, this family has no choice but to sleep in the cold. Khaled's daughter says she put this sheet of nylon to protect her from the wind and the rain at night. These blankets all the family has left to keep them warm. The rest of their belongings tangled and buried amid scorched, blackened rubble.

Across Northern and Central Gaza, scenes of destruction are all that remain. Civilians told to evacuate southwards. The Israeli military says it is targeting Hamas and allowing for evacuation corridors. But even in the south, there is no escape from this punishing war.

The ruins you see here are homes in the southern city of Khan Younis. Amid the destruction, members of the Abu Zanad (ph) family standing helpless. Loved ones still buried under the rubble.

Every second of every minute there's another massacre, Hany (ph) says. Where are the humanitarian ceasefires? Displaced people, women and children, our family members are here buried underneath this home. They escaped the massacres and war in Northern Gaza. They told us that the south would be safe.

On the grounds of Southern Gaza's Nasser Hospital, another funeral prayer is held, closed with a message of peace, amid unfathomable loss. With fears growing of an expanded ground incursion said to be targeting Hamas in the south, after Israeli forces dropped leaflets near Khan Younis warning people to move to known shelters on Thursday.

But with some 1.5 million people already displaced, there is nowhere safe to turn. And as each hour ticks by, there is only more uncertainty and more tragedy.

The wounded rushed through the hospital's crowded halls, children battered and bloody, sharing whatever space is left in this panic- filled emergency room.


But as doctors in the south race to rescue the wounded, survivors further north, just like Khaled and his family, struggle to come to terms with this now shattered reality. Khaled says neighbors thought he was dead when they pulled him from the rubble. Now, he says, he wishes he too had been killed in the airstrike. In Gaza, only the dead are at peace.


BASHIR (on camera): And, look, Wolf, as we know, the United Nations Humanitarian Office has been pushing for longer humanitarian pauses to be established and guaranteed in order to allow for a crucial, essential humanitarian aid to get into Gaza. As we know, the vast majority of hospitals in Gaza are either inoperable or simply overrun.

And now, of course, there are mounting fears that we could begin to see the situation in Southern Gaza deteriorating further. And as you heard there from Nic's reporting, those airstrikes are still intensifying. Wolf?

BLITZER: Nada Bashir reporting from Jerusalem for us, thank you, Nada, very much.

Joining us now with a firsthand account of the situation in Gaza, the executive director of UNICEF, Catherine Russell. Catherine, thank you so much for joining us.

I know you had a chance to visit Southern Gaza on Tuesday, and you said you saw, and I'm quoting you now, grave violations against children there. Can you describe, Catherine, what you saw? Were there any stories that stood out to you?

CATHERINE RUSSELL, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNICEF: Well, thank you, Wolf. And I was in Khan Younis, and that was just mentioned in the report that preceded me. And I think it was such a horrifying scene to see, honestly.

And I think especially for UNICEF, everything we do is about children. So, if you imagine this scene through the eyes of children, it's just been constant bombardments. They have no electricity. They often don't have water.

They don't have enough food to eat. Their parents, the adults are around them were terrified, buildings are crumbled, I saw piles and piles of trash. I mean it was just -- it's really heart wrenching to see it.

And I think, you know, I met one young woman who was in the hospital, she was a patient in the hospital, she was 16, she lived next door to a home that had been struck by some sort of a mortar and she was paralyzed for life, you know, 16 years old.

So, I think it's just -- you know, there's just so much misery to go around. And when you imagine what that experience is like for children, it's hard to see how they ever get past what's happening to them right now.

BLITZER: Israel says two fuel tankers actually entered Southern Gaza today and it has approved plans to send more daily tankers into Gaza, mainly for water and sewage purposes. But will that be enough, do you believe, to alleviate the suffering there and prevent a health epidemic?

RUSSELL: Well, first, it is great that some fuel is starting to go in. I have to say that. That has been a daily challenge for us to get fuel in there. And I think, as you say, it's important because we need it for generators, for hospitals, so the incubators are keeping these babies alive, rely on fuel. We also need it for the water treatment. And as the report said, we're so worried about people getting waterborne diseases. They don't have access to clean water.

But the other piece of this that's important is that for humanitarian workers, we need fuel to be able to get around, right? Our teams, UNICEF teams are there. Other humanitarian workers are there. But if they don't have fuel, they can't get to the communities that need help. So, it's critical that the fuel continue and that increases.

I mean, it's a drop in the bucket, but at least it's something. So, I'm so grateful some starting to go, but we need to get more in, for sure.

BLITZER: I know, Catherine, you had to cut your trip short after a car accident. We wish you well in your recovery, of course.

You are still planning, I understand, to go to Israel to speak with families of hostages. What are your concerns about the conditions of the hostages being held by Hamas and Gaza, especially the children, one turning only nine years old today, another born in captivity just a couple of days ago?

RUSSELL: Well, it's true. I did have to curtail my trip. Unfortunately, the car I was in flipped over. It was not a pleasant experience, but, thankfully, everyone survived it. And I'm definitely going to go back in the next couple of weeks.

I think that the challenges that these hostages are facing are really almost impossible to imagine, right? We hear reports that they're in tunnels and being kept there. I mean, we don't really know. We haven't been able to contact them, which is really a terrible situation.

And I just cannot imagine how harrowing that is for their families, not to know what's happening, not to know if they're okay. And, obviously, from our perspective, again, for children, no child should be abducted. Nobody should have, certainly, but certainly a child separated from their parents, separated from the only people they know who take care of them, who love them. It's not right.

And I very much want to meet with the families and hear about what they're experiencing.


And, you know, hopefully we can get to the point where they'll be released and UNICEF can help, you know, with the psychosocial support that these children will definitely need.

BLITZER: Well, thanks to UNICEF and thanks for all you're doing, Catherine. I appreciate it very much.

RUSSELL: Thanks, Wolf.

BLITZER: And just ahead, Georgia prosecutors have just revealed their preferred trial date for Donald Trump's election subversion case. We're going to tell you what they're asking from the judge.

Stay with us. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.


BLITZER: All right. Just into CNN, prosecutors in Georgia are asking a judge to set a date for Donald Trump's state level election subversion trial.

Let's get the latest details from CNN's Jessica Schneider who is working the story for us. Jessica, what dates are Fulton County prosecutors asking for?

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, the Fulton County D.A. is asking for this trial to start August 5th, 2024. That would actually be just days after the Republican Convention and three months before the general election.

So, prosecutors have already said they expect Trump's Georgia trial to last several months. So, that would mean if they, in fact, start in early August, it could extend past Election Day.

And this request would also mean that all four of Trump's criminal trials could be slated to start in 2024, two of them starting in March, one in May, and then this Georgia case in August, if that goes forward.


Trump's team tonight already firing back. They're saying they oppose that August start date, and they've asked the judge in that case to set a hearing on this trial start date issue. So, Wolf, it's ultimately the judge who will make the final decision here.

And, Jessica, I understand we're also awaiting a major ruling from a Colorado judge on an effort to remove Trump from the 2024 presidential ballot in Colorado. What can you tell us?

SCHNEIDER: We're actually Wolf expecting a ruling by 7:45 Eastern Time tonight out of Colorado. The challengers in this case, they want a court order that would block the Secretary of State in Colorado from putting Trump's name on the ballot in that state.

And what they're citing is Section 3 of the 14th Amendment. It bans anyone from holding office if they have, quote, engaged in insurrection or rebellion. And the people bringing this suit say that applies to Trump for his actions on January 6th.

The problem is this section has actually never been applied to a candidate for president and, in fact, it's only been applied a couple of times since the 1800s.

Also recently, several judges in Michigan, New Hampshire and Minnesota, they've rejected similar lawsuits by groups who have tried to take Trump's name off the ballot there. In those cases, the judges have said, you know, it's either too early to decide that in the election cycle, or in one case, they ruled it was really a political question that needed to be decided by Congress and not the courts.

But either way, Wolf, it does seem like that this is an issue, no matter the ruling tonight from Colorado. This could likely get to the Supreme Court, possibly in the next few months. Wolf?

We will await and watch. Thank you very much, Jessica Schneider for that.

I want to get some analysis from our legal and political experts right now. Jennifer Rodgers, I'll start with you. Is this August 5th start date for the Georgia election subversion case at all realistic?

JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I don't think it's going to happen, Wolf. I mean, I don't envy the judge having to decide this. There are 16 other -- and he is not officially the nominee yet. But that said, he has all these other trials scheduled. The polls have him way ahead. He's very likely to be the nominee. And there's just no way that the nominee for president can be put on trial through the election itself and potentially into the year that he might take office if he wins. So, I suspect prosecutors will not get what they want here and the judge will schedule it for after the election.

BLITZER: Let me bring Elie Honig into this conversation. Elie, the D.A., Fani Willis, knows that date would mean the trial is going on during the heart of the presidential election season. So, why is her office suggesting this?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, I think it's a completely unrealistic request by the D.A.'s office here. If we do this simple math here, if we start a trial in August, the D.A.'s office itself has said they believe it will take four months to try this case. The judge actually said, he believes it will take double that, but let's just use four months. That means we'll be on trial August, September, October and through November during the election.

And keep in mind, because this is a criminal trial, Donald Trump has to be physically present. So, what the D.A. is proposing to do is to physically remove Donald Trump from the campaign trail, from the convention, through the election.

I don't see any realistic way the state judge in Georgia allows that. And if he does, it's unprecedented, but it wouldn't shock me if the federal court stepped in and said, you simply cannot do this. I don't think it's at all realistic.

BLITZER: Gloria Borger is with us as well. Gloria, does this August 5th proposed date play into Trump's hands as he rails against this prosecution, calling it politically motivated? GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, of course it does. I mean, you know, as, as Elie was just outlining, this runs right into the election. He'd be in and out of an Atlanta courtroom during the heat of election season, even, you know, potentially past Election Day.

I mean, so I think it's very unrealistic, but it allows Donald Trump and his attorneys to claim that the reason she set this date is political and that it's not arbitrary, it is political and that she wants this to go on during the, during the election. So, I suspect that'll be part of their argument.

Elie, let's get back to the Colorado judge. He's let this case get much further along than similar cases in other states, this Constitution's 14th Amendment, so-called insurrectionist case. What does that signal to you about how she might rule?

HONIG: Yes, Wolf. So, there's a chance that this judge does rule against Donald Trump in the coming minutes and hours precisely for that reason, because this judge has allowed this case to go much farther than anyone else has before.

So far, we've seen essentially appeals made to various secretaries of state, Republicans and Democrats alike, who have uniformly rejected this, said it's not up to us to unilaterally remove someone from the ballot. And we've seen judges in at least three other states, Michigan, Minnesota and New Hampshire, also dismissed these cases.


Now, this judge in Colorado did hold a full trial, which suggests to me there's a reasonable, perhaps better than reasonable chance that the Colorado judge does rule against Donald Trump. But if that happens, it will absolutely be appealed. And I think there's a very good chance it gets reversed.

BLITZER: Jennifer, if she does decide against Trump on this issue, how likely is it this decision will be overturned, let's say, by the Supreme Court?

RODGERS: Yes. Well, that's hard to say, Wolf, because there's just no precedent at all on this. We don't even know whether this lawsuit is the proper mechanism for trying to enforce this provision of the Constitution.

So, while the plaintiffs actually have a pretty compelling legal argument, if you just look at the constitutional language and you look at the historical record, it's just so out of the box as far as what we've seen in litigation. It's just hard to see even this judge, much less any sort of appellate court, agreeing to take out a leading candidate for president. I think they would just decide to let the voters do it ultimately in the ballot box.

BLITZER: So, from a political standpoint, Gloria, would the judge actually be doing Trump a favor by ruling to keep him off the ballot? BORGER: Well, I don't know that the judge would be doing Trump a favor. I mean, nobody wants to be ruled that you can't be on the ballot when you're a contender for the presidency. And don't forget, of course, if this were to continue, there are electoral votes at stake here.

But I do agree with my colleagues here that they would appeal this all the way to the Supreme Court and you see whether the court wants to get involved in putting people on ballots or not. And I think this judge listened to the arguments clearly, but I think if she rules against him, it won't be the last time this is in court.

BLITZER: Important point indeed. Everyone, thank you very much.

Coming up, the House speaker, Mike Johnson, says he's releasing thousands of hours of security footage from January 6th, 2021. I'll speak with a key member of the committee that spent months and months investigating the insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.



BLITZER: Tonight, House Speaker Mike Johnson says he's releasing nearly all the security footage from the January 6, 2021 riot at the U.S. Capitol.

CNN's Melanie Zanona is joining us from the Capitol right now. She's got details. Melanie, what can you tell us about this decision to release the video and the politics around it?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes. Well, this is a very clear sign that the new speaker, Mike Johnson, is catering to his right flank. Trump supporters have been calling for the release of this January 6 footage all year. In fact, it was part of the deal that some Republicans like Matt Gaetz made with Kevin McCarthy to make him speaker. But Kevin McCarthy didn't fully release the tapes out of security concerns. He only made them available for the media.

So, now, Johnson is giving the right exactly what they want. And it comes, perhaps not so coincidentally, the same week that he angered his right flank after putting a clean stopgap spending bill on the House floor.

But I want to read you part of the statement that Johnson released after this decision. He said, this decision will provide millions of Americans, criminal defendants, public interest organizations and the media an ability to see for themselves what happened that day, rather than having to rely upon the interpretation of a small group of government officials.

And, unsurprisingly, Trump supporters are cheering this move. They believe it will somehow vindicate the former president and his role on that day. But as a reminder here, the DOJ has said that he has charged over 1,000 individuals with illegally breaching the Capitol on January 6th. And of those, over 400 of those people were charged with either assaulting or impeding law enforcement. So, unclear exactly what Republicans are looking for, but, no doubt, this was not a peaceful protest, as some on the right have claimed, Wolf.

BLITZER: Melanie Zanona reporting from Capitol Hill, thank you very much.

I want to get reaction now from Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland. He served on the January 6th Select Committee. Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

As you know, this is footage that your committee decided not to release. So, what's your reaction to the speaker, Speaker Johnson, deciding to do so and why do you think he's doing it?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, on the latter question, Speaker Johnson is clearly on the run from the MAGA, the extreme MAGA caucus, Chip Roy and the strongest pro-Trump elements. I mean, you know, he was only able to get through his continuing resolution proposal because of Democratic votes. And I think they're saying he's got two strikes of three they're going to give him. So, he's already looking at a motion to vacate. So, this was clearly an effort to placate the right wing, which has been making this absurd demand for a very long time.

And so now we have on a totally unilateral partisan basis, the Republicans caving in. And, you know, opening up to the world what they allowed Tucker Carlson to come see. Obviously, Tucker Carlson did his best to torture out of tens of thousands of hours of footage, some kind of concocted story, which, of course, went nowhere.

We went through all of that. We had more than a thousand witnesses come and talk to the January 6th Committee, all of it on a bipartisan basis in search of the truth, not in search of lies. And most of the witnesses, of course, were Republicans, people in the Trump administration, people in the Trump family, and we delivered a complete report.


Beyond the partisan nature of it, it's truly a security risk what they're doing. The reason why the Capitol Police have opposed releasing tens of thousands of hours from every House office building, every Senate office building, every part of the Capitol is because it's like giving a diagram to future insurrectionists and terrorists and anybody who wants to invade our body.

So, if the speaker thinks it can be done safely or securely, why doesn't he rely on the Capitol Police to determine what should be given out and what shouldn't be given out, because that's the principal concern here, which is security.

BLITZER: I want to get your reaction while I have you, Congressman, to part of an interview Donald Trump gave to ABC News' Jonathan Karl for his book, Tired of Winning, which took place about two months after January 6th. Listen to this clip.


REPORTER: You told them you were going to go up to the Capitol. Were you just --

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: No, I was going to and that Secret Service said, you can't. And then by the time I would have, and then when I get back I saw -- I wanted to go back. I was thinking about going back during the problem to stop the problem, doing it myself. Secret Service didn't like that idea too much.

REPORTER: So what --

TRUMP: And I could have done that, and, you know what, I would have been very well-received.

Don't forget, the people that went to Washington that day, in my opinion, they went because they thought the election was rigged, and that's why they went.


BLITZER: Of course, we know, Congressman, that Trump did very little to actually stop the violence that day. So, what do you make of this recording?

RASKIN: I mean, for hours, he refused to go on T.V. to call off the forces he'd unleashed against the Capitol and against the Congress and against the vice president. He never got in touch with the Army. He never got in touch with the National Guard. He did nothing to stop it.

And, of course, he did dream of going up to the Capitol like Mussolini riding with the mob to be restored to power. That was the vision that he had. He thought he was going to be reinstated as he seized the presidency against the constitutional order.

So, you know, that's an outrageous thing that Mike Johnson is doing right now to pander to the extreme right. We got Marjorie Taylor Greene and Lauren Boebert and others out there calling people who have been convicted by a jury beyond a reasonable doubt of having assaulted police officers, hospitalizing officers, bloodying police officers, breaking their noses, breaking their ribs and so on, calling these people political prisoners, or even these days, they're calling them hostages, if you can believe that.

And then Mike Johnson says he's releasing this for criminal defendants. It's hard to think of a message more antithetical to law enforcement and certainly the Capitol Police who have been telling us not to do precisely what he and another Republican speaker did in sharing this information with Tucker Carlson or trying to put it into the hands of the right wing.

You know, if somebody robs a bank and they're convicted of robbing a bank, the fact that you can show a picture of them peacefully eating lunch in the park six hours before is irrelevant to it. And so I don't know what they think they're doing for people who have been convicted of all of these offenses. BLITZER: Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland, thank you very much for joining us.

RASKIN: You bet.

BLITZER: And just ahead, President Biden ready to take the gloves off as he sharpens his attacks on Donald Trump.



BLITZER: Tonight, CNN has an exclusive new poll of voters in New Hampshire, showing Democrats see President Biden as their best chance to hold on to the White House in 2024. The survey underscores the President's advantages and challenges in a potential rematch with Donald Trump. New Hampshire voters widely favor President Biden's temperament, honesty and integrity over Trump's. But when asked about Biden and Trump's physical and mental fitness, granted state voters gave Trump higher marks. All this comes as President Biden is clearly sharpening his attacks on Trump right now.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is over at the White House with more on this development. Arlette, what are you learning about President Biden's evolving campaign strategy?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, President Biden has clearly been intensifying his attacks against former President Donald Trump as a potential rematch between the two men loom. And it comes as some Democrats have anxiety over recent polling showing the former president leading Biden on the national level and in some key swing states.

But President Biden has really been sharpening his criticism against Trump, whether it's in speeches from the White House, talking about policy, or in private fundraisers with donors. And I'm told he specifically wanted to speak out after former President Trump made this comment.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.


SAENZ: And the president told fundraisers at a fundraiser in San Francisco this week that, quote, it echoes language you heard in Nazi Germany in the 30s, and he also added, there's a lot of reasons to be against Donald Trump, but damn, he shouldn't be president.

And on the campaign side, they've also been eager to really shine a spotlight on some of the policy contrast with Trump trying to point out to voters what they believe a Trump presidency would look like as some of his policies have come a little bit more into focus. BLITZER: Arlette, when will we actually see President Biden making this case out there on the campaign trail?

SAENZ: Yes. For now, a lot of these fiery comments, they're coming in fundraisers.


These are his sole political events at this moment.

But advisers say that campaign mode will start to pick up heading into next year, but there are allies of the president who have wanted to see him taking a more forceful approach now. One telling me, quote, Joe's going to take the gloves off and start to engage with facts instead of BS. They've got to be more forceful, a little bit more in the electorate space, and take these guys on.

BLITZER: Arlette Saenz over at the White House, thank you very much.

Coming up, we'll check on a New York woman's fight to win the release of her six cousins who were kidnapped by Hamas.


BLITZER: Tonight, a New York woman whose six cousins were kidnapped by Hamas, she's pressing on with her fight for their freedom. Alana Zeitchik spoke at the march for Israel rally here in Washington this week. Listen to this.


ALANA ZEITCHIK, SIX FAMILY MEMBERS KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: The pain I have experienced since they were taken has been so sharp, it follows my every breath.


I wake up each morning to remember this truth. My family is being held hostage by terrorists.


BLITZER: Alana Zeitchik is joining us now.

Alana, thank you so much for joining us. This is a return visit for you here in THE SITUATION ROOM.

I know you've been advocating very forcefully, especially at this march at the United Nations and interviews in your op-ed entitled six members of my family are hostages in Gaza. Does anyone care?

Are you hopefully starting to feel more care now, more support from others?

ZEITCHIK: I think, in general, yes, I do feel more support. I think the rally itself, there are a lot of people there, very peacefully supporting me and my cause, and the other hostage families. So was certainly very comforting to be in that -- in that environment.

BLITZER: I know your aunt join today's march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, to urge for more action to free the hostages. She actually showed the Israeli War Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz a picture of your cousin.

Are the Israeli and U.S. governments in your opinion, Alana, doing enough to try to free your loved ones?

ZEITCHIK: It's really hard to say. I can't say until I see them out. It's been over 40 days now. So I'm not sure. We don't have enough information either or intel for me to form really a good opinion on that.

BLITZER: You said you hung posters of your kidnapped cousins in your neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. And almost all of them were quickly ripped down. What went through your mind, Alana, when that went down?

ZEITCHIK: I just can't make sense of it. It's so hateful and senseless, and careless. And I can't comprehend why anybody would take down a photo of children who have been kidnapped. It just doesn't make sense to me.

BLITZER: I agree. You asked an important question in your op-ed and let me read it to our viewers. Is it really possible, you write, to hold these two truths at the same time, that both Israeli and Palestinian civilians are suffering at great cost?

Alana, are you hopeful the world can hold space for both Israeli and Palestinian civilians?

ZEITCHIK: I am hopeful. I am. I feel that perhaps the loudest voices are perhaps not the majority. So I do feel hopeful that they're more people out there that can hold these two truths together.

BLITZER: What is your message, Alana, that you really want to be heard tonight?

ZEITCHIK: My message is just that I want people to come together, the hatefulness is not getting us anywhere. We have to do things differently than we have done before. So I really feel that it's important that we as a society come together to release the hostages and work to end this war as quickly as possible.

BLITZER: But it's so sad, I wish we were meeting, Alana, under different circumstances. It's now been, what, some six weeks. How worried are you as this war goes on?

ZEITCHIK: I mean, every day, I am fearful. Every day, I'm worried constantly. It's like a dark cloud that hangs over my head every single day, same with, you know, all of my family, it's agonizing. And as it continues on, it gets scarier and scarier.

BLITZER: Alana Zeitchik, good luck to you. Good luck to all the families of these hostages. I hope all of them are free immediately, as quickly as possible. Thanks so much for joining us.

ZEITCHIK: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, an update on the health of the former first lady of the United States, Rosalynn Carter, as she now enters hospice care in Georgia.



BLITZER: Tonight, America's oldest living former First Lady Rosalynn Carter is now in hospice care. Let's get some more on the treatment she's receiving.

CNN's Rafael Romo is just outside the Carter Center in Atlanta, which just made the announcement.

Rafael, what are you learning?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, we don't know at this point specifically what triggered the need for hospice care or whether this is a progression of the diagnosis of dementia that the lady had -- the former first lady had back in May. What many of our viewers know is that the former first lady, Rosalynn Carter, is 96 years old. She was diagnosed with dementia and the former first president Jimmy Carter was at the Carter Center here announced back in February that he was receiving hospice care at home here in Georgia.

And let me tell you, the Carter Center issued a statement, Wolf, earlier today, specifically talking about the former first lady, saying the following: Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter has entered hospice care at home. She and President Carter are spending time with each other and their family. The Carter family continues to ask for privacy, and remains grateful for the outpouring of love and support.

And, Wolf, in an interview with CNN back in September, Jason Carter, the couple's grandson said this is what he had to say about his grandparents. Let's take a listen.


JASON CARTER, GRANDSON OF FORMER PRESIDENT JIMMY CARTER: One of the things that I know for sure is that they are in their home, they are together every day. They are living out these last days in the way that I think you could -- the best way you could possibly hope which is with each other, with this deep and abiding faith, and an understanding that as they face the end, they're doing it, knowing where they've been and knowing where they're going.


ROMO: And, Wolf, our very own Dr. Sanjay Gupta was telling us earlier that hospice care doesn't necessarily mean that we're talking about the end of life. He told us that health professionals this is what they do to make sure the patient is as comfortable as possible. Wolf, back to you.

BLITZER: We hope both of them will be as comfortable as possible.

Rafael Romo reporting from Atlanta for us, thank you very much.

And to our viewers, thanks very much for watching. I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. You can always follow me on X, formerly known as Twitter, and Instagram, @wolfblitzer. You cant tweet the show @CNNSitRoom. THE SITUATION ROOM is also available as a podcast wherever you get your podcasts.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.