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Nearly $150 Million Verdict Against Rudy Giuliani In Defamation Damages Trial; Protest In Tel Aviv After Hostages Mistakenly Killed By IDF; Highly Classified Intel On Russia Vanished In Final Days Of Trump Administration; Giuliani's Financial Mess Worsens After $148+ Million Damages Verdict; Autopsy Report: "Friends" Star Matthew Perry Died As Result Of "Acute Effects Of Ketamine" And Drownings. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired December 15, 2023 - 18:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: CNN's Abby Phillip will have the report on an all new episode of The Whole Story with Anderson Cooper. That's an entire hour with one whole story. That's Sunday night, 9:00 P.M. Eastern and Pacific, only on CNN.

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Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer. He's in a place I like to call THE SITUATION ROOM, right next door. I will see you Sunday morning. Until then, have a great weekend.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Rudy Giuliani is ordered by a jury to pay nearly $150 million in damages to two Georgia election workers he defamed. We're breaking down the huge verdict against the former Trump lawyer tied to his lies about the 2020 presidential election. And I'll speak live with an attorney for the two election workers this hour.

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

And we begin this hour with a major breaking story. The former Trump lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, ordered to pay an enormous price for falsely accusing two Georgia election workers of fraud.

CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider is outside the courthouse here in Washington. Jessica, this nearly $150 million verdict is vastly more than the attorneys for the election workers even asked for.

JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: It is Wolf. It's about $100 million more than their attorneys asked for, $75 million in punitive damages, essentially to punish Rudy Giuliani for those statements he made against Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, and then another $70-plus million for emotional distress and reputational damage. But even tonight, even after that massive verdict faced with paying millions of dollars, Rudy Giuliani is still not backing down.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I will appeal. The absurdity of the number merely underscores the absurdity of the entire proceeding.

SCHNEIDER (voice over): Rudy Giuliani defiant after his trial to determine defamation damages. Tonight, the eight-member jury awarding the two Georgia election workers Giuliani slandered a staggering sum, nearly $150 million, between compensatory damages for both defamation and for emotional distress and punitive damages.

The verdict is meant to compensate Ruby Freeman and her daughter, Shaye Moss, for the years of threats, harassment and fallout from Rudy Giuliani's words after the 2020 election to a Georgia State Senate committee investigating the unfounded fraud.

GIULIANI: There's a tape earlier in the day of Ruby Freeman and Shaye Freeman-Moss and one other gentleman. I mean, it's obvious to anyone who's a criminal investigator or prosecutor, they are engaged in surreptitiously illegal activity, again, that day.

SCHNEIDER: Both women detailed in hours of emotional testimony on the stand how these false allegations upended their lives. They received death threats.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eat (BLEEP) and die, you (BLEEP) racist. (BLEEP) and your fat (BLEEP) daughter.

SCHNEIDER: Giuliani saying tonight he was not to blame for those.

GIULIANI: The comments they received, I had nothing to do with. Those comments are abominable, they're deplorable. My comments had no connection at all to those. There were thousands of things in the press about this, of which mine were a small amount.

SCHNEIDER: The plaintiffs also said they were forced into hiding and had been turned down for jobs.

SHAYE MOSS, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: The past few years has been devastating. The flame that Giuliani lit with those lies and passed to so many others to keep that flame blazing changed every aspect of our lives, our homes, our family, our work, our sense of safety, our mental health, and we're still working to rebuild.

RUBY FREEMAN, FORMER GEORGIA ELECTION WORKER: I can never move back into the house that I called home. I will always have to be careful about where I go and who I choose to share my name with.

SCHNEIDER: The judge had already ruled that Giuliani is liable. Their lawyers pointed to these comments from Giuliani outside court this week to prove that Giuliani still is not remorseful.

GIULIANI: They were engaged in changing votes. REPORTER: There's no proof in it.

GIULIANI: Well, you're damn right there is. Stay tuned.

SCHNEIDER: His comments years after his rampage that the 2020 election was rigged.

GIULIANI: It's enough to overturn any election. It's disgraceful what happened.

SCHNEIDER: And Giuliani refusing to back down from the lies even now.

GIULIANI: I have no doubt that my comments were made and they were supportable and are supportable today.


SCHNEIDER (on camera): Now, Giuliani's legal team didn't mount much of a defense, and Rudy Giuliani actually was set to testify. He promised that he would, but then at the last minute he backed down.


So, now, the big question is how or will Rudy Giuliani actually pay? Lawyers in other cases that he's been confronting have been pretty forthcoming, saying that Giuliani is so broke he can't even pay his legal bills.

So, now, Wolf, the focus will really shift to Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss trying to figure out and work with their attorneys on how they'll actually get Rudy Giuliani to pay this $148 million verdict. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right Jessica, thank you very much, Jessica Schneider reporting for us.

I want to dig deeper right now and we got our experts to discuss. Joey Jackson, I'll start with you. What message does today's verdict actually send?

JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: That lies are unacceptable, that they have consequences, that they alter, affect and impair people's lives. To hear Mr. Giuliani talk about absurdity, I think the jury, in speaking with their verdict, said that what was absurd was his conduct, where the statements that he made.

To hear him further speak about him having nothing to do with the vile things that were said, I mean, that's comparable to lighting a match starting a forest fire and saying, I just lit the match, the forest burned on its own.

The fact of the matter is, is that in this day and age, where people are so free to speak and say whatever they think they want to say, they need to know that things like this are not protected, that jury spoke loudly and clearly, Wolf, and I think they got it right today.

BLITZER: Yes. Maggie Haberman, what do you make of Giuliani's facing this resounding punishment, yes still being defiant, still repeating his baseless lies?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that he is very much echoing his former client, Wolf, and he has -- and he always had a piece of this in him when he was mayor and when I was covering him in his second term. He would never admit that he was wrong about something, he would never back down.

And so I'm not surprised that this is what he is doing, but he is facing very real-world circumstances here and very real-world consequences of what he has said, and he has a long habit of targeting people and attacking them and making comments that other people seized on. This is something fundamentally different. And the world got to hear, the jury got to hear these women talk about having their lives ruined.

And he is you know acting somewhat remorseful that they faced attacks that they did, but distancing himself from them and I just don't see how that's going to be a sustainable stance, but he's going to try it for a while.

BLITZER: It certainly will.

Andrew Kirtzman, you wrote an important biography on Giuliani and it's been a years-long stunning fall from grace for the man who was once called America's mayor. We all remember that. What's going through your mind right now?

ANDREW KIRTZMAN, AUTHOR, GIULIANI, THE RISE AND TRAGIC FALL OF AMERICA'S MAYOR: Well, it's an epic disaster for a man whose life has been marked by epic disasters and also epic victories. I mean, this is a man who, at one point in his career, was judged more popular than the Pope, according to a poll of the public.

He -- I was with him on 9/11, you know, we all know what happened after that. And one of the things that happened is he became staggeringly wealthy. I mean, Giuliani has had one of the most stunning rise and falls of any figure in our history. But he has fallen so low, so low that right now he is near bankrupt, he is facing jail, right? He's been sued in ten civil suits. He's basically more or less been disbarred in two states. He's the subject of a sexual harassment suit. So, this is not even bottom for Giuliani. But what a stunning, stunning fall this is for him.

BLITZER: I want to bring in Karen Friedman Agnifilo, our legal analyst. Giuliani, Karen, as you know, said he had no connection to the avalanche of threats that Shaye Moss and Ruby Friedman actually faced. But let's remember some of the racist, hateful lies he told. Listen to this.


GIULIANI: How can they say there's no fraud? Look at that woman. Look at her taking those ballots out. Look at them scurrying around with the ballots, nobody in the room hiding around. They look like this. They look like they're passing out dope, not just ballots. It is quite clear they're stealing votes. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BLITZER: So, given the volume of evidence against Giuliani right now, how do you think he will attempt his appeal to go forward? He says he wants his lawyers to appeal this case.

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, let's remember, in order to appeal this case, because it's civil, he will have to put a substantial sum of money into a bond. And so -- which means he has to put that money in the bank, and that will have to be held in order for him to even get to an appeal. And, usually, it's the amount of the verdict, sometimes more. So, I don't know how he's going to do that if, at the same time, he thinks he's broke.

And I also don't think he has a viable appeal here. I mean, this was a stunning rebuke by eight United States citizens, not anybody who's in politics, not any partisan person who absolutely heard the evidence and had not only rejected it, but decided to punish him significantly for it.


So, I don't see a way out of this for him.

BLITZER: Yes, Important point. Joey, I want you and our viewers to listen once again to Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman speaking after the verdict today. Listen to this.


MOSS: Our greatest wish is that no one, no election worker or voter or school board member or anyone else ever experiences anything like what we went through.

FREEMAN: Today is not the end of the road. We still have work to do. Rudy Giuliani was not the only one who spread lies about us, and others must be held accountable, too.

I will always have to be careful about where I go and who I choose to share my name with. I miss my home, I miss my neighbors and I miss my name.


BLITZER: So, Joey, what does the road ahead look like for these two women to actually receive the money they've been awarded?

JACKSON: So, Wolf, that may be challenging given the financial circumstances of Mr. Giuliani, but it is a complete vindication of know. When you have people who sometimes, and many times think, that there's a system of justice that doesn't work, it can't work, but then you have a message that that system sends, that certain conduct is unacceptable, it's empowering, and it does show what courts mean and what courts can do.

And so, yes, while there could be an issue with respect to the collection because of the amount of the verdict and the resources of the individual who has to pay it, at the end of the day, there are many mechanisms in place where maybe you don't get all, maybe you don't get even the vast majority, but I think they will get significant payment based upon the resources he does have. And at the end of the day, what they do get is what they spoke to is a measure of their reputation back that was taken from them.

BLITZER: And that is so, so important.

All right, everybody, stand by. There's a lot more we need to discuss about this truly staggering verdict, what it means for Rudy Giuliani and possibly, possibly looking forward for Donald Trump.

Our breaking news coverage will continue right after this quick break.



BLITZER: We're following the breaking news, a bombshell verdict against Rudy Giuliani. A jury ordering the former Trump lawyer to pay a whopping amount, nearly $150 million, to two Georgia election workers he clearly defamed.

And, Joey, let me get back to you. Let's remember the human impact of this case. Shaye Moss testified, she was actually scared her son would find her hanging from a tree with a noose. People showed up to Ruby Freeman's house. Listen to some of the threatening voicemails these women received. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eat (BLEEP) and die, you (BLEEP) racist, you are (BLEEP) done you (BLEEP).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to burn your store down.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Have a nice life, what's left of it you have.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're all going to (BLEEP) jail, you piece of (BLEEP).


BLITZER: So, Joey, how much do you think those voicemails actually played into the jury's verdict?

JACKSON: Yes, Wolf, it was quite significant, there's no question about. You know, when people have platforms, and those platforms can really get into people's living rooms, they get into their heads and they get into their modus operandi and what potentially they can do, what they believe and the perspective that they really have and they harbor. And so you could see, based upon the anger laced those voicemail messages, what was done.

This is the consequence of indicating things to people that are lies. This is the consequence of what can happen when you spread falsehoods that injure people's reputations, that damage people emotionally and that have factors and facts that can actually harm people.

And so I think by the verdict, the jury was saying that this is unacceptable in this climate, in any climate. We all, Wolf, may have opinions, we have made thoughts, we may have beliefs, but to do what he did, Mr. Giuliani and this platform, knowing it was not true, just remarkably unacceptable. And I think that's what the jury said today.

BLITZER: And a bigger picture, Maggie, how does today's case fit into the broader problem of disinformation and election lies coming from so many within the Republican Party?

HABERMAN: Well, look, Wolf, I think we're going to see what kind of a long-term impact it has. But if you look at this as somewhat analogous to something we have seen over the course of the past year, as former President Trump has been indicted four times on two of those occasions, he's very explicitly asked for people to come protest, specifically, really in Manhattan when he was indicted the first time. And there was a lot of concern that there would be a replay of what we saw on January 6, 2021, in terms of violence.

That didn't happen because there have been so many arrests of people who invaded the Capitol, who attacked the Capitol, who rioted at the Capitol, and who were disruptive to an official proceeding. And a lot of people saw that as a deterrent from future behavior. So, this does raise the question of will this be something of a deterrent from people spreading disinformation, spreading lies about people?

These were not public figures. These were two women who got targeted and had their lives completely turned upside down. So, that is where the monetary figure really does matter.

BLITZER: It certainly does. Karen, I want you to listen to Giuliani's reaction today outside the courtroom. Listen to this.


GIULIANI: I have no doubt that my comments were made and they were supportable and are supportable today. I just did not have an opportunity to present the evidence that we offered.


BLITZER: We should note, Karen, that Giuliani, as you remember, and I remember, he was once the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York. He clearly knows the contours of the law. Can you fact check his arguments outside the courtroom today?

AGNIFILO: Yes. Look, as you said, he was a very well-respected lawyer. Arguably, not only was he the U.S. attorney, he was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which many would say the most prestigious law job in the country, okay?


So, he knows the law.

But even if you don't know the law, the judge gave him an opportunity to testify. He even promised that he was going to testify and present evidence. He chose not to. That was his choice.

BLITZER: And, Andrew, Giuliani is also facing, as we all know, a separate criminal case in Georgia right now. How do you expect Giuliani will grapple with his increasing legal and indeed financial peril?

KIRTZMAN: Well, I mean, Giuliani always believes he's right. I don't think he's going to kind of throw himself on the mercy of the court any more than he did in this trial. I mean, this is all kind of very much a piece of the Giuliani playbook. He causes these like huge calamities around him, and he's standing in the middle claiming he was right about everything. And I think that's going to happen going forward.

I mean, this is a man who has this sense of moral certitude that he's right, everyone else is wrong, and he's kind of the same morality cop that he was when he was a prosecutor, as you said, back in the 1980s. The problem is that now he's nearing 80 years old, he's going to be penniless very soon, he could end up in jail.

And the story of Rudy Giuliani, in hindsight, is going to include the fact that he caused two impeachments, got handed a verdict of $150 million for defaming people and could end up in prison. It's quite a trajectory.

BLITZER: Yes, quite a fall for the man once known as America's mayor.

All right, guys, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, I'll speak with a lawyer for the two George election workers who now stand to gain millions, millions of dollars for the lies Rudy Giuliani told about them.



BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news. Rudy Giuliani is vowing to appeal a staggering verdict against him. A jury ordering the former Trump lawyer to pay nearly $150 million for defaming two Georgia election workers he falsely accused of committing fraud.


GIULIANI: I certainly will appeal. The absurdity of the number merely underscores the absurdity of the entire proceeding.

REPORTER: Do you have any regrets about some of the comments that the women received?

GIULIANI: Well, of course, the comments they received, I had nothing to do with. Those comments are abominable, they're deplorable, no defense to it, but I receive comments like that every day.


BLITZER: And now former election workers Shaye Moss and Ruby Freeman also spoke out after the verdict was announced here in Washington just a little while ago.


MOSS: The flame that Giuliani lit with those lies and passed to so many others to keep that flame blazing changed every aspect of our lives, our homes, our family, our work, our sense of safety, our mental health.

FREEMAN: I want people to understand this money will never solve all of my problems. I can never move back into the house that I called home. I will always have to be careful about where I go and who I choose to share my name with.


BLITZER: And joining me now here in THE SITUATION ROOM is Rachel Goodman. She's one of the attorneys who represented Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss in their defamation case against Rudy Giuliani. Rachel, thanks very much for coming in.

I know you're happy about this verdict. How are your clients feeling right now about this truly staggering $148 million verdict against Giuliani for defaming them?

RACHEL GOODMAN, COUNSEL, PROTECT DEMOCRACY: As Lady Ruby would put it, it's a good day. Wolf, it's one step on a long journey for them toward accountability and toward trying to rebuild their lives, but today was a good day for them.

BLITZER: What do you make of Giuliani sticking by his awful lies and his comments about your two clients?

GOODMAN: For me, it really highlights the importance of this kind of accountability. We're quite hopeful that this verdict will make a difference there, and we're going to continue to pursue that verdict.

BLITZER: You know what surprised me, the verdict actually was, what, about $100 million more than your clients had originally asked for, right?

GOODMAN: The total was $148 million and across the three categories of damages, some of which we had put numbers on for the jury and some of which we sort of leave the jury to come up with numbers on their own, and I think they were moved by the client's testimony. BLITZER: Did it surprise you that, at the last minute, after repeated

insistence that he would testify, he decided not to show up and testify?

GOODMAN: Yes and no. I think Mr. Giuliani and his colleagues are fond of saying they're about to produce the evidence, Wolf. And when push comes to shove, of course, they don't have any evidence. And so his declining to testify, I felt, in a pattern with that.

BLITZER: We all know he's got some significant financial problems of his own right now. He doesn't have $140 million, by all accounts. Do you expect your clients to actually get significant sums of money from him?

GOODMAN: Well, we are going to pursue the verdict and do everything we can to make sure they get as much of it as possible. So, we'll see. Although, of course, nothing can make them whole, and they would trade all of it to get back to their lives before all of this started.

BLITZER: Because they were receiving, your two clients, their lives were basically overturned as a result of the lies that he was delivering.


But others were making similar lies against these two women as well. And they said they want to go forward and perhaps launch cases against them, maybe including Trump himself. Is that what you're thinking of doing?

GOODMAN: Well, Trump was a co-conspirator in this case, as the court held. So, this verdict is also a forum of vulnerability there. And I want to make clear they are continuing. Their lives haven't sort of gone back to normal and the threats haven't ended. They're still dealing with that today. And so we're going to do everything we can to make them whole, however we can.

BLITZER: But Trump is not financially liable right now, is he?

GOODMAN: This verdict is against Giuliani.

BLITZER: Yes, just Giuliani, okay.

Rachel Goodman, congratulate your two clients for us. Thank you very much.

GOODMAN: Pass it on. Thanks for having me.

BLITZER: Thank you very much.

Still ahead, another breaking story we're following right now, Three Israeli hostages mistakenly killed by IDF forces in Gaza. I'll get reaction from key White House Official John Kirby.

And a CNN exclusive, highly classified U.S. intelligence on Russian interference in the 2016 election mysteriously vanished during the final days of Donald Trump's presidency.



BLITZER: In Israel tonight, protests in Tel Aviv after the Israeli military revealed its forces mistakenly shot and killed three hostages held in Gaza.

CNN's Alex Marquardt is joining us live from Tel Aviv right now. Alex, tell us more about the death of these hostages and how Israelis are reacting.

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, this is a deeply painful moment for this country. And as soon as this news came of these three deaths, a call was put out for a protest here in Tel Aviv that has just ended in the past few moments. For the past three hours, hundreds and hundreds of people have been snaking their way through the streets of Tel Aviv, starting at the defense ministry, essentially Tel Aviv's Pentagon.

And what we learned from the IDF earlier today was that three hostages, three young men who have been kidnapped on October 7th were killed in Northeastern Gaza, in the area called Shejaiya, where the IDF has been fighting against Hamas militants. Their names are Yotam Haim, Alon Shimriz and Samir Talalka. All of them, I believe, in their 20s. The IDF called this a sad and painful incident.

What happened is these men were near a group of IDF soldiers who saw them, who thought that they were militants, who thought they might have been terrorists. They were fired upon. The soldiers then went over. They saw the bodies. They grew suspicious. They then confirmed in Israel that these were the bodies of hostages.

Wolf, there's an investigation underway. There are all kinds of questions. Did the men have their hands up? Were they speaking in Hebrew? The IDF did speculate that perhaps they had been released or escaped from captivity, that maybe the militants had left them behind because they had been pushed out.

But in either case, it is obviously a profound tragedy that they were on the cusp of getting rescued after more than two months in captivity, and instead they were shot and killed. Wolf?

BLITZER: How much more pressure, Alex, does this put on Prime Minister Netanyahu right now?

MARQUARDT: I think a significant amount. There already was a lot of pressure from these families, from everyone in Israel who wants to see these people come home. And this tragedy will ratchet that up even more.

The people I've been speaking to tonight have essentially been saying we don't want a ceasefire. We don't necessarily want the war in Gaza to end. The IDF can keep going after Hamas, but what is needed now is a new deal. A deal needs to be struck. Maybe there needs to be a pause, some kind of exchange with Hamas.

I spoke with a former general, Noam Tibon, who told me, whatever it takes to bring them home. I said, even if it's the worst Hamas prisoners in Israeli prisons, he said, whatever it takes, this country needs to bring these people home.

But for the time being, Wolf, our understanding is that these talks over the hostages are at a standstill. I reported a couple of days ago that Israel actually canceled a trip by its main negotiator to go back to Qatar to keep negotiating. Prime Minister Netanyahu has called this a priority. The people I met tonight want it to be the priority. Wolf?

BLITZER: Let's hope they come home soon, as we keep saying. Alex Marquardt in Tel Aviv, thank you very, very much.

I'm joined now by John Kirby. He's the National Security Council coordinator for strategic communications over at the White House. John, thanks very much for joining us.

I want to get to the IDF mistakenly killing three Israeli hostages. Can Israel be relied on to protect hostages during its full scale assault on Gaza, based on what has just been reported?

JOHN KIRBY, COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL: We should be careful of drawing too many firm conclusions here about what tragically happened today, which the Israelis, of course, acknowledged right away that they were responsible for this. It's tragic, heartbreaking news for now, three families that are just going to be getting the worst, worst possible news that any family can get. And we grieve with them, we mourn with them, we'll pray for them.

And I'm sure that the Israelis will do the forensics on this. They'll work through how this happened and how to learn lessons from it so it doesn't happen again. They, too, just like us, they share a strong desire to get every single one of those hostages back home with their families safe and sound, where they belong, and we're going to continue to do what we can to help them achieve that. We still believe that it's possible to get a pause in place to get another exchange of hostages, and we're working on that by the hour.

BLITZER: I'm glad to hear that. What is your message, John, to the families of the American hostages still being held in Gaza, who may be understandably even more fearful right now?

KIRBY: Well, it's the same message that President Biden relayed to them when he met him right here in the White House earlier this week. We are not going to forget your loved ones. They are Americans and we want to get them home to you as quickly as possible and that we are working, as I said to you before, by the hour.


The other thing he promised them was that he would keep them informed, and we have, and we'll continue to do so, as we learn more.

They have been a terrific source, not just of inspiration for us, but also information, helping us glean a little bit more about their loved ones, because it's hard to get perfect data on exactly where they are, what their condition is, where they're being kept and with whom they're being kept and who has them, quite frankly. And we're working really hard to get our arms around that. We want to get them all home just as soon as possible. BLITZER: The three hostages who were killed were in an active combat zone in Northern Gaza. How does this fit into the U.S. understanding of where the hostages are being held?

KIRBY: Again, difficult to make any firm, broad conclusions based on this one event, but it is certainly not contrary to our concerns that Hamas is probably holding them in various groups, not all together, certainly putting them in harm's way, willingly putting them in harm's way, and potentially in crossfire. Again, without speaking to the specifics of this event, Hamas absolutely wants to hide behind innocent humans, including hostages.

So, it's just a reminder. It underscores the very difficult challenge that the Israeli Defense Forces have before them as they go after these leaders of Hamas. It's not like they can separate the battlefield innocence to terrorists. It's all commingled because Hamas wants it to be commingled, because they want to make it more difficult for the Israelis to go after that leadership network.

So, again, it's a terrible, terrible day, but it is a reminder of just how much more difficult this fight is for Israeli Defense Forces.

BLITZER: And as you know, John, this comes as a strike in southern Gaza, killed children sheltering at a school and an Al Jazeera cameraman. When you see strikes like these, can you really say Israel is listening to the U.S. urging everyone to protect civilians?

KIRBY: Well, without speaking to the specifics of this particular strike, and, again, our deepest condolences go out to Al Jazeera Network and to everyone associated with that journalist doing his job, just out there doing his job, reporting on a conflict as well as any other innocence that could have been killed or wounded in this attack.

We have communicated to the Israelis, and Jake Sullivan is just wrapping up a trip to Israel and the West bank today, matter of fact, and conveyed this message, as the president has. We want them to be as careful and deliberate as possible and to take additional steps to reduce harm to civilians.

They have been receptive to that message. They have made some changes in the way they have approached tactical operations. That doesn't mean that more can't be done. Certainly more can be done to protect innocent life. And we're going to continue to urge and work with our Israeli counterparts to that end.

BLITZER: John Kirby, thanks so much for joining us.

KIRBY: Yes, sir.

BLITZER: And now we have exclusive new CNN reporting on the mysterious disappearance of highly classified U. S. intelligence on Russia. The information was brought in a binder to the White House in the final days of the Trump administration, and then it vanished.

CNN Senior Justice Correspondent Evan Perez is here. He's got details for us. Evan, how sensitive was the intelligence in this binder and how did it go missing?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRSEPONDENT: Well, this is a very sensitive piece of intelligence. This is some of the raw intelligence that really underpinned the finding by the intelligence community that Vladimir Putin wanted Donald Trump to win the 2016 election. And it is something that Donald Trump and some of his allies were absolutely obsessed with. They wanted to try to get some of this information out because he believed, Donald Trump believed that the Russia investigation was a hoax, and he believed putting that information out would help prove his case.

One of the problems was, Wolf, that some of this intelligence was so sensitive that it threatened to expose the sources and methods, the ways that the U.S. intelligence community and some of the NATO allies collected some of its most sensitive information on Russia. And so that's one reason why there was so much pushback on trying to get some of this information out.

Now, we know that the last time some of this information, this binder of documents was found -- was seen, rather, was in the closing days of the White House, where Donald Trump had asked for this information to be brought in so that he could declassify it. And we know that, in the end, the former president did actually sign a declassification order. It was never actually released publicly. And so that's one reason why there's a mystery as to what happened to this binder.

We know there is one theory that Cassidy Hutchinson, who worked with Mark Meadows, the former chief of staff, she had a theory on where some of this might have gone. Listen.

CASSIDY HUTCHINSON, FORMER AIDE TO FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF MARK MEADOWS: I watched him climb into the limo, noticing the original Crossfire Hurricane binder tucked under his arm.


I did not have time to ask what he planned to do with it as he drove away. What the hell is Mark doing with the unredacted Crossfire Hurricane binder?


PEREZ: Wolf, that's a reference to Crossfire Hurricane, the name of the federal investigation that was looking into the efforts by Russia to try to meddle in the 2016 election.

BLITZER: Evan, how is Meadows responding?

PEREZ: Well, Mark Meadows' attorney George Terwilliger pushed back strongly against any implication from Cassidy Hutchinson, from her book there that Meadows mishandled intelligence. I will read you a part of what he said in a statement to CNN.

He said: Mr. Meadows was keenly aware of and adhered to requirements for the proper handling of classified material. Any such material that he handled or was in possession of had been treated accordingly. He said that any implication that Mark Meadows had anything to do with the missing binder, of course, is wrong, Wolf.

But we know that the mystery remains. We know that the -- certainly, the FBI, the intelligence community was so concerned about this that they briefed members of the intelligence committee, the senior leadership of the intelligence committee in the Senate about this very thing -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Evan Perez, thank you very much for that report.

Coming up, inside Rudy Giuliani's financial mess as he's now on the hook to pay nearly $150 million in damages for his 2020 election lies.

And the results of the autopsy on "Friends" star Matthew Perry have just been revealed.



BLITZER: More now on today's massive verdict against Rudy Giuliani. The nearly $150 million judgment is just the latest blow to the former Trump attorney's finances.

CNN's Brian Todd is taking a closer look.


RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: I know crimes. I can smell them.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The man once known as America's mayor lauded for his integrity and leadership during and after 9/11 is tonight on the losing end of a nearly $150 million judgment in the Georgia civil defamation case.

Rudy Giuliani is already out of cash and under a mountain of legal bills and sanctions.

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: I don't think we're grasping how significant the bills are for Rudy Giuliani.

TODD: CNN's Katelyn Polantz has done extensive reporting on Giuliani's financial problems. In addition to this latest judgment, he owes more than $1 million to defense attorneys prompting them to sue them. He was behind on nearly $60,000 for unpaid phone bills.

And this summer, he traveled to Mar-a-Lago to make a personal appeal to Donald Trump to help him pay his legal bills.

POLANTZ: The amount of money it costs to fight a lawsuit let alone almost a dozen lawsuits over the last two years, couple years, is -- it is really mind-boggling, those numbers. TODD: In court, Giuliani's attorneys said he's facing 11 lawsuits and

investigations. He's also been criminally indicted in Georgia related to the efforts by him, Donald Trump and others to overturn the 2020 election results in that state. He could face criminal charges in the special counsel's federal election interference case. And he's facing disbarment in New York and Washington.

MICHAEL MOORE, FORMER U.S. ATTORNEY: He's attacked both in his professional arena, he's attacked in the civil court and now in the criminal court as well. And that is a -- that's a heavy load to carry.

TODD: And Giuliani has admitted he's not been carrying it, at least not financially. During this definition trial, Giuliani's lawyer called the proceedings the civil equivalent of the death penalty. They're trying to end Mr. Giuliani.

To deal with the money crunch, Giuliani is trying to sell his three- bedroom Manhattan apartment for $6.1 million and he was at one point offering to record video greetings for strangers on the website Cameo.

GIULIANI: I could do a happy birthday greeting.

JON AVLON, FORMER CHIEF SPEECHWRITER FOR MAYOR RUDY GIULIANI: You know, he's always loved opera, but this is a tragic opera, make no mistake, and it's self-inflicted at this stage. It's heartbreaking to see.

TODD: The man who took down the New York mafia, who turned around New York City's fortunes as mayor and who did at one time hold considerable personal wealth seems to have squandered it all for one man.

AVLON: He's destroyed his reputation and his independent financial foundation, all to help Donald Trump lie about an election. He threw it all away.


TODD (on camera): A spokesman for Giuliani declined to comment today on his current financial state. It's not clear at the moment if he'll be able to shield himself from some of the damages in this latest judgment against him by declaring bankruptcy -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting -- Brian, thank you.

And coming up, the "Friends" star Matthew Perry's cause of death.



BLITZER: There's more breaking news. The Los Angeles County Medical examiner concluding "Friends" Matthew Perry died as a result of the acute effects of ketamine and subsequent drowning.

CNN'S chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is joining us right now.

Sanjay, what do you make of this finding?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: It's a sad story, Wolf. I read through the 30-page report. Basically the headline is exactly what you said. It sounds like Matthew Perry had taken ketamine. They found trace elements of it in his stomach. So, it sounds like this was something that he swallowed, and he was in a pool.

Ketamine is a dissociative drug. It can cause people to have difficulties with breathing and stuff. But what seemed to have happened here, is that he became dissociative being in a poll, he subsequently drowned, Wolf. So, really sad.

One medical examiner that we spoke to about this specifically, just put a fine point on it. They said it's probably not the ketamine specifically that led to his death, but made it possible for him to drown, Wolf.

BLITZER: And we're told that --

GUPTA: So, just a sad story.

BLITZER: Yeah, very sad. We're told that Perry was taking ketamine for depression, right?

GUPTA: Yeah. Yes, he was. But I think that reading the report, this was a little bit unrelated to that. He was getting infusions of ketamine, but the last time he had received that was a week and a half earlier. To give you context, Wolf, the half life is a few hours.

So, this -- it can be a legitimate therapy for depression and anxiety, but this was not related to that. It sounds like he was taking it as well on his own, recreationally. It sounds like he swallowed pills because it was trace elements found in his stomach and that seems to have led to his becoming disassociated while he was in the pool and then sadly leading to his drowning.

BLITZER: What other -- some of the other contributing factors, what stands out to you?

GUPTA: I think those are the main things, wolf. One thing -- you know, when I first heard this and heard that the ketamine was involved, I was curious, were there other medications involved? Because typically, ketamine alone does not lead to someone dying. It's rare. It can happen and he was -- he did take fairly high doses. But even at those doses, it's unusual for that to lead to death.

So, what really stood out was the fact that he took the ketamine but that he was in a pool. Had he not been in a pool, Wolf, it's not likely he would have died.

BLITZER: All right. Sanjay, thank you very much for that report.

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

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.