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The Situation Room

Supreme Court Lets Texas Enforce Aggressive Immigration Law For Now; Ex-Trump White House Adviser Peter Navarro Reports To Prison In Miami; Trump Tonight Says, Democrats Very Opposed To Jewish People And Israel; New Princess Kate Sighting Amid Health Questions, Photo Controversy; Sudan's Paramilitary Forces Unleash Terror To Enlist Men And Boys. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired March 19, 2024 - 18:00   ET



EGYPT SHERROD, REAL ESTATE BROKER: They're going to want to sue the NAR, we're going want sue sellers.

And I think the real headline should be the cost of housing scheme markets for buyers now, or it should be U.S. housing sales drop because first time home buyers can no longer afford.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: All right, Egypt. Thank you so much, I really appreciate it.

Join me Sunday night for the special we are going to have on C.J. Rice and also a brand new episode of United States of Scandal. We are going to dig into the leaking of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame by Bush administration officials you might think you know the whole story but you probably don't. It's Sunday night at 9:00 Eastern, Pacific here on CNN.

The news continues only at CNN.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news the state of Texas is now allowed to enforce a very aggressive and controversial immigration law after the United States Supreme Court did an about- face and lifted a hold on the measure for now. We're tracking the impact at the southern border where many migrants may now be at risk of getting arrested.

Also tonight, former White House adviser Peter Navarro just became the latest Trump ally to wind up behind bars. CNN was there as Navarro reported to prison for his contempt of Congress conviction and railed against judges, jurors and Democrats.

Plus, Donald Trump is doubling down tonight on his efforts to drive a wedge between American Jewish voters and Democrats as he continues to feed into ugly anti-Semitic views and stereotypes. We're breaking down what he's now saying and why it's so dangerous.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room. And let's get right to the breaking news, the new ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court allowing a controversial Texas immigration law to be enforced while it's still being appealed.

CNN's Rosa Flores has more on the law and the intense opposition to it.


ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Hundreds of protesters in Austin, El Paso, Brownsville and other cities across Texas have raised their voices against SB4. The new state law that the U.S. Supreme Court ruled today can go into effect pending the ongoing case in a lower court, which poses a direct threat to the federal government's dominant powers over immigration enforcement.


FLORES: SB4 creates a state crime for the illegal entry into Texas or an individual's, quote, illegal presence in the state and gives local law enforcement the power to arrest and judges the powers to remove violators.

Human rights groups warn it will lead to racial profiling of Latinos who make up 40 percent of the state's population.

GARCIA: We're fighting against racism, xenophobia, and white supremacy.

FLORES: This new state crime will mostly be adjudicated in county courts.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will clog our courts.

FLORES: Adam Haynes from the Texas Conference of Urban Counties lobbied against SB4 on behalf of these 34 Democratic and Republican- led counties and says that the 6,000 to 7,000 county jail beds across the state could fill up in days.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Senate Bill 4 is finally passed.

FLORES: The law, which was passed by the Republican-led Texas legislature and signed by Republican Governor Greg Abbott last year did not include funding.

DAVID STOUT, EL PASO COUNTY COMMISSIONER: There are going to be at lots of negative impacts, lots more racial profiling.

FLORES: El Paso County Commissioner David Stout estimates a new jail in his county could cost $250 million to build and $40 to $50 million annually to operate.

STOUT: This will be the single largest unfunded mandate that we have seen. FLORES: Stout led the charge in his county to sue Texas over SB4 and says he's in talks with a district attorney and local law enforcement about interpreting the law narrowly to lessen its impact on county resources.

Are you hoping that local police and the sheriff's office focus on violent crime and not on targeting migrants?

STOUT: Yes, I mean that's I think what they typically do.

FLORES: Abbott maintains Texas has constitutional authority to enforce SB4 and that it will not lead to racial profiling.

GOV. GREG ABBOTT (R-TX): Officers understand, and that is wrong to profile.

FLORES: Civil rights groups are hosting know your rights workshops in cities hundreds of miles away from the border, like Houston, to educate Hispanics, like Helazu Velasquez (ph), an undocumented mechanic, who has lived here for 25 years.

He says that the objective of SB4 is to terrorize the undocumented communities.

But unlike many undocumented immigrants, Velasquez says he's not afraid. He finds solace in the better life he is building for his three U.S. citizen children.


BLITZER: A special thanks to Rosa Flores for that report.

I want to bring in CNN White House Correspondent Priscilla Alvarez right now.


She's done extensive reporting on the entire immigration crisis for us. Priscilla, what is the Biden administration's response, first of all, to this U.S. Supreme Court decision?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, we'll put simply, the White House say that they, quote, fundamentally disagree with this ruling. In a statement this afternoon, the White House saying that SB4 will not only make communities in Texas less safe, it will also burden law enforcement and sow chaos and confusion at our southern border.

Of course, this is a significant development in the ongoing feud between President Biden and Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who has slammed the administration over their border policies. The White House, meanwhile, has pushed back, criticizing the Texas governor for politicizing this issue and previously calling this law, quote, extreme.

Now, as far as the substance of the law, the Justice Department has said that it violates the Constitution and would interfere with federal law enforcement operations. So, on that front, this could cause an operational headache.

And in talking to Homeland Security officials, they are monitoring the situation on the ground to see how it's implemented, and, of course, only time will tell to see exactly how exactly it interferes, if at all, with what the federal law enforcement is doing on the ground.

BLITZER: Priscilla Alvarez at the White House for us, thank you very much.

Joining us now, a key negotiator on a now-failed bipartisan border deal, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut. Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

First of all, what's your reaction to this U.S. Supreme Court decision today, allowing this very controversial Texas law to go into effect?

SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): It's going to create a mess at the border. You can't have two different immigration enforcement systems, one run by the federal government, one run by state government. It is going cause disorder, it's going to cause conflict.

And what is wild to me is that Governor Abbott is one of the primary opponents of the bipartisan border security bill. If passed, it would have allowed us to secure the border. It would put $20 billion of new resources on the board. It would have allowed President Biden to shut down portions of the borders when crossings get too high.

And so the very Republicans who are cheering this ruling today are the ones that have been creating the disorder at the borderline by opposing bipartisan, tough border security measures here in Congress.

So, this is going to make the situation worse, not better at the border. And I hope Republicans come to their senses and stop listening to Donald Trump, who wants to oppose this legislation, because he's rooting for a mess at a border, and instead join Democrats to pass historic, tough border security legislation.

BLITZER: Texas Lawmakers, they blame President Biden for failing to protect the board. They say they have been forced to take these steps to secure it. Should states be able to act if the federal government doesn't?

MURPHY: But President Biden negotiated the toughest border security bill with Republicans in 40 years. It included $20 billion of new resources at the border. It gave the president the authority with federal resources to control the flow of people at the border. It was Republicans, Texas Republicans that submarined that effort.

So, there is an ability for Republicans and Democrats to come together to be able to allow the federal government to control the border. It is Republicans that are stopping the federal government from having the resources available to control border. To the extent that there's disorder at the border right now, it is Republicans that have themselves to blame for opposing the bipartisan bill that they asked for and they helped negotiate. BLITZER: Critics say this Texas law will lead to increased racial profiling of Latinos. And it comes as Trump used rather dehumanizing language about migrants, calling them at one point animals. What concerns do you have about that?

MURPHY: Well let's be very clear. The people that are coming to the United States are fleeing terror and torture. Yes, sometimes destitute poverty. They are looking for a better life inside the United States.

Republicans make up this narrative about a migrant crime surge. Violent crime is going down in the United States. Migrants to the United State commit crimes at a rate lower than those who were born here in the United States.

So, we need to be very vocal in pushing back against this narrative that migrants pose a unique threat to safety here in the US. No, we can't manage 10,000 people crossing the border on a daily basis, but the way to do better is to pass the bipartisan border bill and to get Donald Trump and Republicans off the sideline and support that legislation that would make a big difference.

BLITZER: While I have you, Senator, I want to quickly turn to this House hearing today, a very important hearing, on the chaotic withdrawal, U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan. I want you to listen to how two of the top now retired U.S. generals responsible for that withdrawal tried to shift blame for those blunders earlier today.


Listen to this.


GEN. MARK MILLEY (RET.), FORMER JOINT CHIEFS CHAIRMAN: The general consensus of the military up through and including the secretary of defense was that the embassy should be coming out roughly speaking at the same time we should be coming out.

GEN. KENNETH MCKENZIE (RET.), FORMER CENTCOM COMMANDER: The president's decision was to maintain an embassy, to not require our citizens to leave and of course to not expedite the extraction of at- risk Afghans. This was not a military decision. It remains my opinion that if there is culpability in this attack, it lies in policy decisions that created the environment of August 2021 in Kabul.


BLITZER: So, Senator, what responsibility do you think the Biden administration bears for what happened?

MURPHY: So, I think it is absolutely unrealistic to believe that in the face of the unplanned, unanticipated overnight collapse of the Afghan government and the Afghan military, that we were going to be able to withdraw American forces, American personnel, and friends of America in an orderly manner. I weep at the scenes from that withdrawal. I still grieve for the Americans that we lost. But after the Afghan government abandoned post virtually overnight, there was going to be no way for us to conduct that withdrawal in a means that didn't involve some amount of chaos.

And so I think the president made the right decision. I think the bulk of my constituents agree that it's better off that the United States is now still not mired in Afghanistan. And while there are certainly things that could have gone better, this belief that many critics of the president have is that with a few policy tweaks here and there, we could have orderly evacuated all of our assets without a cooperating Afghan government I just think is unrealistic.

BLITZER: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you very much for joining us.

MURPHY: Thank you.

BLITZER: Just ahead, a new filing from Donald Trump pleading with the U.S. Supreme Court to grant him presidential immunity in his election subversion case.



BLITZER: Tonight, a one-time member of Donald Trump's White House team is beginning a truly historic prison sentence. Former Trump adviser Peter Navarro is now doing time for defying a congressional subpoena in the January 6th select committee investigation.

CNN's Randi Kaye was there as Navarro surrendered in Miami.


RANDI KAYE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): That's former Trump White House adviser Peter Navarro minutes before he turned himself in to federal prison in Miami as the first former White House official to be imprisoned for a contempt of Congress conviction.

PETER NAVARRO, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE ADVISER: When I walk in that prison today, the justice system, such as it is, will have done a crippling blow to the constitutional separation of powers and executive privilege.

KAYE: Navarro was convicted in September of contempt of Congress after refusing to comply with a subpoena from the House select committee, which investigated the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol. Liz Cheney, who was vice chair of the panel, said Navarro would have been a witness.

FMR. REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): In America, no one is above the law.

Every citizen has a duty to comply with a subpoena.

KAYE: Navarro argues he was bound by executive privilege, a defense that's been rejected in court. Do you wish you had shown up for testimony and asserted privilege in person?

NAVARRO: If I had gone to Congress and played the piecemeal game with them, I would have done damage to the separation of powers and I would not have been doing my duty, I would not have been obeying my oath of office.

KAYE: Before he turned himself in, Navarro continued to paint himself as a victim.

NAVARRO: I'm pissed. That's what I'm feeling right now. Every person who has taken me on this road to that prison is a freaking Democrat and a Trump hater.

KAYE: Just last week, Navarro asked the Supreme Court to intervene and allow him to remain free while he challenged his conviction. The high court rejected his last-minute bid on Monday. Navarro has never been able to show that executive privilege would have applied in his case.

The prison where Navarro will serve his time is one of the oldest prison camps in the country. While Navarro has complained about financial problems, the prison consultant he hired to make his time more comfortable inside told CNN that the 74-year-old will be housed in an air-conditioned dormitory for elderly male inmates.

The consultant said Navarro will have access to television, email and be able to make phone calls, and he'll be expected to take classes and get a job. He'll likely also be able to hear the roar of the lions from the zoo next door.

As Peter Navarro headed off to officially turn himself in, he left us with this.

NAVARRO: God bless you all. I'll see you on the other side.


KAYE (on camera): And, Wolf, it's also worth noting that Navarro's prison consultant has told CNN that he has two other clients, a doctor and someone engaged in politics, who are going to work with Navarro and help him acclimate on the inside. Wolf?

BLITZER: We'll see how he does in there. All right, Randi Kaye reporting for us, thank you very much.

I want to bring in CNN Senior Legal Analyst Elie Honig right now. Elie, what do you make of Navarro, a former Trump White House official, going to prison now for refusing to cooperate with Congress' January 6th investigation, while Trump himself continues to evade any sort of accountability?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, it's an interesting question about what does it mean to really see accountability in this country. The reason Peter Navarro is behind bars right now is because he refused to give testimony that could have been damaging to Donald Trump. And he joins a long list of Donald Trump's advisers and enablers who have seen meaningful criminal consequences.

Steve Bannon has been sentenced to four to four months for the same crime.


He's on appeal right now. Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, George Papadopoulos, all of them convicted for federal crimes did time. And then you get to Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, all of them, both of them were convicted and then pardoned.

So, these are all people around Donald Trump who face meaningful criminal consequences. Whether Donald Trump himself will join that list, we will see in the months ahead.

BLITZER: All this comes, as you know, Elie, as Trump has just filed his brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule he has absolute presidential immunity. What are his key arguments?

HONIG: So, two main arguments in the brief that was just filed, Wolf. First of all, Donald Trump argues that he has immunity for any of his official acts that he engaged in as part of the presidency. Donald Trump, of course, argues that the presidency has very broad parameters.

Now, DOJ is going to respond by that by saying, no, you were well outside the bounds of the presidency. You were trying to steal an election.

The second argument that Donald Trump makes in his brief is that a president or former president can only be criminally indicted if he has first been impeached by the House of Representatives and then convicted by the U.S. Senate. That is an inventive argument, I'll say politely. It's not one that seems to have much basis in the Constitution or the law, but Donald Trump does offer it up in this brief.

BLITZER: Elie Honig giving us excellent analysis, as usual, thank you very much.

Coming up, Donald Trump is unleashing new attacks on Democrats tonight claiming they're opposed to the Jewish people and to Israel.



BLITZER: Right now, polls in Ohio are just about an hour away from closing. The key race on the ballot tonight, the Republican Senate primary contest.

Let me get an update right now from CNN's Jeff Zeleny. He's in Columbus, Ohio for us. Jeff, who are the candidates and what are we learning from some of these exit polls that have just been released?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, as you know, Ohio, a longtime presidential battleground tonight is a Senate race battleground. All eyes are on this Republican Senate primary. Three candidates locked in a race to challenge Senator Sherrod Brown, the Democratic senator, in November. It will be one of the closest Senate contests of the year.

There are three candidates, as you said. State Senator Matt Dolan. He is endorsed by the establishment Republican wing here, if you will, Governor Mike DeWine, former Senator Rob Portman. He is in a tight challenge with Trump-backed candidate Bernie Moreno, a Cleveland businessman. The Ohio secretary of state, Franklin Rose, also on the ballot. So, these three men vying for not only the winner to challenge Sherrod Brown, but also for the direction of the Republican Party.

Well, this could be one of the last gasps of the establishment versus the MAGA movement, if you will. But we are getting a look at those exit polls tonight. Let's take a look at some of these preliminary numbers.

These were conducted by conversations and interviews with voters as they went to polling places across Ohio today, as well as early voting in the last couple of weeks, some interesting findings here, Wolf.

When asked about the opinion of Trump when he was president, 58 percent said they strongly approve. 20 percent said they somewhat approve. 7 percent somewhat disapprove. 13 percent strongly disapprove.

Wolf, those numbers tell us a couple of things. One, this is a very Trump friendly electorate, a very MAGA electorate, if you will, perhaps not surprisingly, of course, in Ohio, a state that was carried by eight points by Trump in 2020.

Going on to look at these numbers, do you think Biden legitimately won in 2020? 32 percent said yes, 62 percent said no. Also interesting, some six in ten voters, Republican voters, saying that Joe Biden did not legitimately win the election, again, similar to what we've seen in other states.

And finally, just a vision and view of the Republican Party, when asked, the Republican Party is about right, 40 percent said that. Not conservative enough, 37 percent responded in that way. And 20 percent said too conservative.

So Wolf, again, these preliminary numbers offer a snapshot into the electorate today. And it certainly would seem that Bernie Moreno, the Trump-backed candidate in this race, we know he had strong support going in. The former president rallied here over the weekend, certainly a friendly electorate to him. But as well, talking to Republicans across the board here, Matt Dolan also had strong support going in.

So, about an hour left of voting here in Ohio. This race, the importance of it, though, will be in November, when the winner of tonight's race takes on Senator Sherrod Brown in the fall, Wolf.

BLITZER: We'll see what happens tonight and then we'll see what happens in November. Thanks very, very much, Jeff Zeleny, reporting from Columbus, Ohio.

I want to turn now to Donald Trump. The presumptive Republican presidential nominee is expanding on his offensive, very offensive new attacks involving Democrats, American Jewish voters and Israel.

CNN's Brian Todd is working the story for us. Brian Trump is doubling down tonight on a familiar strategy of playing into various anti- Semitic views and stereotypes.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: He is, Wolf, as he's done before and it seems to be somewhat of a political calculation. Either way, the former president is taking serious heat tonight for all of his comments about Jewish voters.


TODD (voice over): Disturbing comments from the former president on American Jewish voters. On a podcast, Donald Trump was asked about recent criticism of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that had come from the Biden administration and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer. Trump said those people, quote, hate Israel. Then --

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Any Jewish person that votes for Democrats hates their religion, they hate everything about Israel, and they should be ashamed of themselves, because Israel will be destroyed.

TODD: Pressed on that today, Trump didn't back down.

TRUMP: I think that the Democrats have been very, very opposed to Jewish people, that's true, and to Israel.


TODD: It's all drawn a sharp response from the Anti-Defamation League.

JONATHAN GREENBLATT, ANTI-DEFAMATION LEAGUE: It's prejudicial, it's patently false, and we have to push back.

Whether you vote blue or red has not necessarily been an indicator of your passion or your support for Israel.

TODD: Trump's comments also brought immediate condemnation from the Biden White House, which said Trump spread, quote, toxic, false stereotypes that threaten fellow citizens.

This isn't the first time Trump has been criticized for trafficking in anti-Semitic tropes, or having his respect for Jewish people called into question. In a 2016 interview with CNN, he refused to condemn former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.

TAPPER: Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke?

TRUMP: I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists.

TODD: Trump later claimed he had disavowed Duke.

In his new book, The Return of Great Powers, CNN's Jim Sciutto quotes retired General John Kelly, Trump's former White House chief of staff, as saying that Trump once praised Adolf Hitler.

Kelly saying, quote, he said, well, but Hitler did some good things. I said, well, what? And he said, well, Hitler rebuilt the economy. I said, sir, you can never say anything good about the guy, nothing.

In 2021, a spokeswoman for Trump denied that he had praised Hitler. As president, Trump also failed to counter anti-Semitic hatred, like after white supremacist violent rallies in Charlottesville.

TRUMP: You also had people that were very fine people on both sides.

TODD: But as president, Trump did take actions that were very beneficial to Israel, like moving the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. And he's often spoken glowingly about his daughter, Ivanka, who converted to Judaism, and his Jewish grandchildren.

Why would he make those comments about Jewish voters now?

MARGARET TALEV, SENIOR CONTRIBUTOR, AXIOS: The bet is that the Jewish vote has been so resoundingly pro-Biden and pro-Democratic that even weakening it just a little bit in a really close election could make a difference.


TODD (on camera): Today, second gentleman Doug Emhoff, according to Bloomberg, called Trump's comments, quote, disgusting and toxic. But Trump's campaign remains defiant, saying in a statement, quote, the Democrat Party has turned into a full-blown anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, pro-terrorist cabal, end quote. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd, thanks for that report, Brian Todd, reporting for us.

I'm joined now by CNN Anchor and Chief Political Correspondent Dana Bash and CNN Senior Political Analyst Gloria Borger.

Dana, as Trump doubles down on playing into these rather ugly anti- Semitic views, leading Republicans are avoiding commenting on all of this. What kind of impact could that have on Trump?

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Well, I think the biggest impact that it could have on Trump is that he clearly has a goal to try to siphon some votes from the Jewish community in America that traditionally go to the Democrats over to him because of some of the things that he did do when he was in office, moving the embassy, but also, maybe most importantly, the Abraham Accords, which did allow for a broader peace. That is very much not happening right now, obviously, because of what happened with Hamas, the war between Gaza and Israel.

The question is whether or not, by the former president saying what he said on the radio show, doubling down, as you heard in Brian's piece today, whether or not it's going to have the opposite effect, that American Jews who may not be thrilled with the way that the Biden administration is right now approaching Israel might look at Trump and say, I'm sorry, you're not going to tell me what I feel and what I believe as a Jew.

And just, anecdotally, I've certainly heard some of that. Never mind, Wolf, what we need to underscore, which is what he said is an age-old anti-Semitic trope questioning the loyalty of Jews in the country that they're living in, asking if they believe more in their religion or if they're patriotic to the country that they live in. It's a false choice.


GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And who is Donald Trump, by the way, to raise this issue? I mean, he is effectively telling Jews in America what they ought to believe, and that if they vote for Democrats, and, by the way, there was a recent poll which showed that 71 percent of Jews do vote for Democrats, that they're being disloyal to Israel.

And it is absurd, it's defamatory, and it's just a patent play, as Dana was saying, to siphon off some of those voters that he thinks may be available to him. But it's absolutely ridiculous.

He did it when he was in the Oval Office in 2019.


Brian's piece talked about Charlottesville, good people on both sides. This isn't something new we're hearing from Donald Trump, but still it's sort of stunning every time you hear it.

BLITZER: It's interesting, Dana, because these latest Trump comments come as our own Jim Sciutto reveals in his brand new book that Trump privately praised Hitler saying, and I'm quoting him now, he did some good things.

You and I have seen firsthand what unchecked anti-Semitism can do when we were both at Auschwitz last year. Talk a little bit about that.

BASH: Yes, it was almost a year ago that you and I went to Poland and went out to Auschwitz in particular and did see what uncheck anti- Semitism can lead to, and that is an entire society ending up supporting the notion of mass killings, concentration camps, and the goal of extermination of the Jewish people.

And that's why silence is not an option. And that's why explaining what these tropes are and what their origins are, what they have ended up doing in various societies, not just in World War II, but at other times in human history is critical.

BORGER: You know, and what Donald Trump is doing is dividing. This is what he does best. This how he earns his keep every day, which is to divide the electorate in different slices. And what he's trying to do here is divide Jewish community, which is, of course, struggling with what is going on in Gaza and happened during the terror attack.

And he's further trying to divide a community and just, you know, play for some votes. It's actually deplorable.

BLITZER: It certainly is. All right, Gloria Borger, Dana Bash, to both of you, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, my interview with a key UNICEF official who is on the ground in Gaza right now, as the United Nations issues very dire warnings about imminent famine there.

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



BLITZER: Right now, the United Nations is sounding the alarm in Gaza as the threat of famine grows worse by the day. According to UNICEF Spokesman James Elder, desperately needed relief is just across the border but is not getting in.


JAMES ELDER, UNICEF SPOKESPERSON: Outrageous how many life-saving supplies are so desperately close to those who need them, food, water, medicines, life-saving supplies, because we know just across there in the border children have died of malnutrition, children have died of dehydration. These are the supplies that so urgently need to get across into the civilians of Gaza.


BLITZER: And James Elder is joining us now live from Rafah in Gaza. James, thank you very much for joining us.

You say that Gaza is terrifyingly close to famine. Walk us through what you actually saw in Rafah today, the impact of this aid being held up.

ELDER: Yes, a couple of things. One is simply that you see in the face of -- see now that you (INAUDIBLE). You see the stress and anxiety on families that are spending days looking for food that Rafah was also (INAUDIBLE) which is next door, which is probably the most ever stagnant place I've seen in my years of the United (INAUDIBLE), annihilation, the hospital there was providing health for children. That's simply no more. (INAUDIBLE) most hospitals in Gaza. It's a graver time and somehow, Wolf, it is getting worse.

BLITZER: The U.N.'s top human rights official is now warning that Israel could be committing a war crime. Starvation, he points out, is a weapon of war. Do you see evidence of that on the ground?

ELDER: We've seen children starve. We have seen children (INAUDIBLE) malnutrition. That's a terrible thing to see. Malnutrition is a killer, but it's normally an underlying (INAUDIBLE). They will have (INAUDIBLE) ammonia to poison girls.

Malnutrition means that a hydration (INAUDIBLE) is in a hospital. They (INAUDIBLE) so much that a doctor can't get into a vein. This is what we're starting to see. We are seeing catastrophic levels of malnutrition higher than we've ever seen in the last 23 years in a particular country.

But what do the numbers that people see on the ground to the most dire situation for poisoning (INAUDIBLE), and that's nutrition alongside disease, which is about 20 percent of children of some type of infectious disease. These two things together can be just as (INAUDIBLE) problems from the (INAUDIBLE).

BLITZER: We're showing our viewers some of the videos of the complete destruction, your videos, complete destruction of Khan Younis. What are you seeing and hearing about the toll this war is taking on families, especially on the children?

ELDER: Yes, it's a great question. All families are just utterly exhausted. Several times today, I had mothers that should hold my hand and break into tears, hoping somehow it would help them protect their children.

We know (INAUDIBLE) but they know the power has been taken from them. They know they have the power to restore protection for their children from starvation, from air attacks. This is that level before people are now starting to accept that the urgency is so (INAUDIBLE).

Now, we know that, as I say, there are trucks across the border (INAUDIBLE) the way. Get a ceasefire, a temporary ceasefire.


ELDER: When we're talking children, there is still children somewhere here who are held hostage. For goodness' sake, let (ph) the pain for them and their families in Israel and get those children home.

All these things -- all these things happened, Wolf, with a ceasefire. Somehow, we are a long way away from that, in-between, a long time since anyone here has been (INAUDIBLE) please.

BLITZER: James Elder of UNICEF, thank you so much for joining us. Stay safe over there.

And we'll be right back.


BLITZER: Right now, we have an update on the health questions and the photo controversy that are swirling around the princess of Wales and the British royal family.

CNN's Max Foster reports on a new sighting of the princess as another Photoshop royal image was revealed.

[18:50:01] (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MAX FOSTER, CNN ROYAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Smiling, happy, and seemingly healthy. New video not sanctioned by the palace, but reassuring royalists that the couple are well.

British tabloids also celebrating Kate's re-emergence, an apparent recovery from surgery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it's good to see that she's back and hopefully she's doing well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm sure that it'd be quite nice for her to walk around, do some shopping with her husband.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I didn't really have any doubts. Just weird one, ain't it?

FOSTER: Weird because of the conspiracy theories that have swamped social media in recent weeks, filling a void of information from the palace.

And the video did nothing to quell them as it was accused of being fake, trusting any royal imagery undermined in part by Kensington Palace itself, after it sent out, not one but two doctored photos to the news media, both taken by the princess. Kate's edited Mother's Day photo manipulated in several places and now this one released last year, which Getty images is now labeled digitally enhanced.

CNN found inconsistencies in several spots, such as a misalignment on the queen's skirt and blanket, strands of Princess Charlotte's hair appear to have been cloned, and Prince Louis shoulder is blurred, overlapping the background.

Getty told CNN in a statement it's reviewing all so-called royal handout images and placing where relevant an editor's note saying it could have been digitally enhanced.

KATE WILLIAMS, CNN ROYAL COMMENTATOR: William and Kate, Kensington palace was so trusted, at Christmas, and now three months later, we have a situation in which whatever photo is put out, people don't believe it.

FOSTER: The lack of information coming from the palace about the princess has created conspiracy theories, often wild, which get worse when the palace has been found to be manipulating images.

WILLIAMS: Either they should have said nothing and kept with that just as they said, they were not going to say anything until there was significant updates or they should have put out a few little statements, perhaps a little statement from Kate's saying, thank you for the lovely cards, and kept people updated to a degree.

FOSTER: Seemingly unfazed and in good spirits, royals refusing to be distracted in public.

Prince William making a long planned visit to a homelessness project in Sheffield

No lack of support there, or from the papers as the rumors continue online.


FOSTER (on camera): More stories in the papers tonight here, Wolf, more speculation online, more rumors. It's difficult to see at ending until we actually see the princess out at an official engagement, which are not expecting for another two weeks.

BLITZER: Max Foster reporting, thank you very much.

And we'll be right back.



BLITZER: We're following chilling developments in Sudan.

CNN's Nima Elbagir has more.


NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Propaganda video from the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces, the RSF.

For much of the last year, they have slashed and burned their way through the country.

This video shows them triumphant and entrenched in the very heart of Sudan, Aljazeera state (ph).

And they are recruiting local men in the hundreds.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated): I declare joining the RSF.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated): I declare joining the RSF.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (translated): I declare joining the RSF.

ELBAGIR: But it's impossible to tell who here is a willing soldier and who has been forcibly conscripted.

Eyewitnesses have told CNN that RSF soldiers are giving civilians and ultimatum, enlist or stop.

Our investigation shows how almost 700 men and 65 children have been forcibly recruited to swell RSF ranks and that's just what we've been able to verify in Jazeera.

Across Sudan, reports and images like this one are (INAUDIBLE), children in RSF uniform.

As across Sudan, millions forced from their homes by violence now face famine.

CNN spoke to three dozen eyewitnesses, survivors and the families of victims. The RSF, they say is weaponizing hunger, denying food to those who won't join.

Aid groups say almost 4 million children in Sudan are already malnourished as the country faces mass starvation.

If aid agencies can't get food to those in need almost a quarter of 1 million children could die

Jazeera is Sudan's breadbasket. It's heartland to control this part of Sudan is to exert control over who lives and who dies. The RSF deny they are responsible for the hunger gripping the country.

Yet they control every aspect of farming this land. They control the warehouses of food and aid meant to support the most vulnerable. They control the seed supplies, fertilizer, pesticides agricultural machine scenery and irrigation channels.

And its not just the infrastructure. Farmers are being targeted, brutalized, degraded, and even killed, not just to control food, but to force allegiance.

You hear shots off camera as six of the men are executed according to survivors, who spoke to CNN those who were spared, say the RSF threatened to starve their families if they didn't join

The RSF sit in the heart of Sudan, hoarding food meant for (INAUDIBLE). From here, they can wait out, starve out Sudan's people and its army.

Fear, uncertainty, despair, cascade as the months of war dragged on. And the world looks away.


ELBAGIR: The RSF didn't respond to our request for comment. We also, those shared our findings with the U.N. special rapporteur for contemporary slavery who told us that the evidence we uncovered, the evidence, you just saw there is tantamount to contemporary slavery -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Thanks very much to CNN's Nima Elbagir.

And to our viewers, thanks for watching.

The news continues on CNN.