Return to Transcripts main page

The Source with Kaitlan Collins

President Biden To Visit Israel Wednesday; EMS Leader Describes Responding To Hamas Attack: "We Felt Like We Just Came Out Of The Holocaust"; Federal Judge Issues Limited Gag Order Against Trump Ahead Of Election Subversion Trial. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 16, 2023 - 21:00   ET



ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: We are just a couple of hours, from sunrise, here in Tel Aviv, on a day that's already brought significant developments, from new strikes, on southern Lebanon, to the first hostage video, to the announcement of President Biden's upcoming visit, here, just a couple days, from now.

These things and, no doubt, many more will all come to better focus, in the hours ahead, and perhaps further shape this war, in the days to come, which is why CNN's coverage continues from Israel.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Good evening. And welcome to THE SOURCE.

We start with breaking news, here tonight, as President Biden will be going to Israel, on Wednesday, a critical trip that comes at a critical time.

The major announcement was just made, by the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, following the nearly eight-hour long meeting that he had, with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and his Wartime Cabinet that he has recently formed.

This trip, for President Biden, is going to amount, to a massive show of support, for America's closest ally, in the Middle East. But it is also going to be extremely high stakes, both politically and security wise.

Secretary Blinken previewed part of what will be on President Biden's agenda, when he lands, in the grieving nation.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: He's coming here at a critical moment for Israel, for the region, and for the world.

The President will reaffirm the United States' solidarity with Israel and our ironclad commitment to its security.

President will hear from Israel what it needs to defend its people as we continue to work with Congress to meet those needs.

(END VIDEO CLIP) COLLINS: Aides have told CNN that the President expressed a strong interest, in making this trip, after he was invited, over the weekend, by Prime Minister, Netanyahu.

For more, on this breaking news, I want to go straight to CNN's Anderson Cooper, who is live, in Tel Aviv.

Anderson, obviously, this is a massive development, one that we knew the White House had been weighing. It will certainly be seen as a sign of solidarity. But it also comes as President Biden has been warning other groups, other countries, not to take advantage, of what is happening, on the ground, in Israel, right now.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, I don't think you can overstate the sign of support this is, for the people of Israel. And that's the way it's going to be interpreted here, by many, many people, speaking to families of those, who are being held hostage, today, and families, who have lost loved ones, today.

And they feel very much that Israel is isolated, on the world stage. And something like this will certainly harden many people, on the ground, here, and certainly sends a message to, Hezbollah, to Iran, about U.S. support. Obviously, also, the carrier groups that are heading to the region, and that are in the region as well, and a rapid reaction force will also bolster that message.

COLLINS: Yes, there's a lot of U.S. firepower that is being sent there.

I also want to bring in -- we have the former Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, here with us, tonight.

Director Clapper, I mean, security is going to be a key part, of this visit. It's actually the President's second visit, to a warzone, this year, if you can believe it. And we saw earlier, Secretary Blinken, he had to go and shelter in a bunker, because air raid sirens were going off, as he was trying to meet with the Prime Minister.

How risky is a visit, like this, in your eyes?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, it's clearly risky. It's not like going to a benign non-combat environment. So, there is that prospect. But Secret Service is very professional about this. And they will figure out ways and means, of minimizing a personal risk, to the President.

And I do think that this is, it's a powerful message, as Anderson outlined. But I also think it's an opportunity, for the President, to counsel Israelis, privately, about temperance in, as they consider a plan, an incursion, into Gaza.

COLLINS: Well, Director Clapper, when it comes to what seems to be an imminent? I mean, we keep using that word. The question is when it could actually happen. Do you think that this visit could change the timing of that? Could Israel potentially delay a ground invasion of Gaza, if they have one planned? CLAPPER: It certainly could. The visit, and as well as -- and I'm still trying to sort my way through Secretary of State Blinken's announcement, about safety zones and safety quarters. And I had trouble of reconciling the creation of those, and their operation, with an invasion, remembering what a compressed geographical area that is. So if this, that may be a good thing to delay an invasion for a while.


COLLINS: Yes, he seemed to be talking about a plan, to develop what could be a humanitarian area, a corridor, obviously, two things that we have not seen established yet, Anderson. I mean, those are something that we've heard from families, who are stuck at the Rafah Crossing, stuck at these exits, who are unable to get out of Gaza, so far. Those are desperately needed.

COOPER: Without a doubt.

CLAPPER: Yes. That's --

COOPER: As you know --

COLLINS: Go ahead, Anderson.

COOPER: Because the IDF had told people, in Gaza, to move to the south. Some, it's believed several 100,000 people have already heeded those warnings.

The question is, could some sort of zone be structured there, with tents, temporary shelters, food, water, access to, to medical care. I suppose that may be one prospect that they are looking at.

That would be something that would be coming up through Egypt, if Egypt was willing to open up that border. As you know, that President Biden is also going to be meeting with the President of the Egypt, El- Sisi, in Jordan. So, that could be one option, if Egypt is cooperative on that, and if that's something that the U.S. thinks it could put together.

COLLINS: Yes. And Anderson, as we were talking about the families, of the hostages, that you've been speaking with?

I mean, tonight, you spoke with the family, of a young French Israeli woman, Mia Schem. She is being held, we believe, in the Gaza Strip. She was in a video that Hamas released, tonight. I mean, obviously, this is going to be something that's brought up, as while President Biden is there.

What did you hear from her family, tonight?

COOPER: Yes, for her family, for her mom, Keren, her brothers, Ori (ph) and Eli (ph), this was the first proof of life, that they have had, that Mia is alive. They had not had any words. She was at the Supernova Music Festival. She had called, gotten a call, or text, to her mom. But I spoke to Keren, a short time ago, about how her daughter looked to her. Take a listen.


KEREN SCHARF SCHEM, MOTHER OF MIA SCHEM, WOMAN HELD HOSTAGE IN GAZA: She's been through pain -- she's in pain. And she's injured. She's injured. She looks a bit terrified. But she is alive and stable.

And she's very, very strong. That's why we all believed, in our hearts that she's alive, because we knew that she will never give up. I really knew it. The problem is that every time we open the TV, and I saw the numbers, it was very hard, to stick to this belief. But she's a survivor.


COOPER: And they are hopeful, today, in a way that perhaps they haven't been for, they at least know that she is alive.

COLLINS: Yes. And, of course, I'm sure, a visit by a U.S. President will only help bolster that hope.

But Director Clapper, when you look at how difficult it is, to get to these hostages? I mean, our reporting, tonight, is even obviously, there are Americans being held, among those nearly 200 hostages, that we believe Hamas is holding, in Gaza.

The U.S. has limited intelligence, on this hostage situation. I mean, how does that factor, into President Biden's visit, and what he's expected to potentially deliver, by the end of it?

CLAPPER: Well, I don't know that the visit will have any impact on -- it would be wonderful if it did. But I don't think there's going to be impact on locating the hostages, which is the key piece of intelligence information, you need. Sounds like an obvious point.

But you can't rescue a hostage, if you don't know where they are. And I suspect these hostages are underground and widely dispersed. And I also would suspect, there's precious little intelligence, on their location. Obviously, the intelligence community, both ours and Israelis, will be poring over this video, for any clues, the slightest clues of suggestions, as to location.

I think, in this regard, though, the President's visit is also a message, to the families of the hostages. I think it also reinforces and underscores his commitment to freeing them.

COLLINS: Yes. And he's certainly said that's a big priority.

Anderson Cooper, Director James Clapper, thank you both, for joining me, tonight.

Meanwhile, as Hamas is releasing this first video, of a hostage, that it captured, which I should note, we are not sharing for obvious reasons. We are not playing that video. We just showed you Mia Schem. That is the young woman, who is featured, in that video. And you heard from her family, what they told, that video meant to them, what they said to Anderson.

But families, across the globe, tonight, they're still desperate, for any news, about their loved ones who have been taken hostage.


And that includes the family of Judith Raanan, and her 17-year-old daughter, Natalie. They live in Evanston, Illinois. But they were in Israel. They were celebrating the 85th birthday, of Judith's mother, along with the Jewish holiday, Simchat Torah, when they were taken by Hamas.

Their family tells us, tonight, and this is a statement from them. They say, "We pray and hope that Judith and Natalie are well and healthy, kept captive together, and keep each other safe. We are people of peace; we seek the wellbeing of all people and denounce violence of any kind to any human being."

I'm joined now, tonight, by Judith and Natalie's Rabbi, Meir Hecht.

Thank you so much, Rabbi, for being here.

I mean, when you hear this breaking news, that President Biden is going to visit Israel, on Wednesday, I mean, does it make you -- does it give you more hope that Judith and Natalie can potentially be brought home?


It's definitely reassuring that the United States is so supportive, of Israel's right, to defend itself, and of the need, to rescue all these hostages. And of course, it's reassuring that the President is making a special trip to Israel.

I want to share, if you give me a moment, a little bit about Judith and Natalie. We are a synagogue, a small synagogue, in Evanston, Illinois.

Judith is one of our congregants. She would come to our congregation, every single Shabbos -- Sabbath, and spend time with the community, and hold our baby, in her hands, and parade around the house, with this glee, and joy, of just being part of a beautiful community, and part of our family.

And we are devastated, to be honest. I'm holding right in my hands, right here, a prayer book that is pink, because Judith came -- wanted to bring a gift for my 7-year-old daughter. And right before she left to Israel, she dropped off this pink prayer book. And in it, she inscribed a little note that states that "This is for your daughter, Hannah (ph), with love from both of us, Judith, and Natalie."

The fact that someone, who lives next door to us, and is a part of our community, is a hostage, in Israel, makes the devastation, and the pain, and the grief, that all Jews around the world are feeling, that much more real, and brings it home, in a way --


HECHT: -- that is so much more a part of our life here, even though we're on the other side of the world, in the United States.

COLLINS: Yes. And I know, Rabbi, I mean, you've been talking to Judith, and Natalie's family. How are they holding up? What have you heard from them lately?

HECHT: You could imagine that this is beyond devastation for them. This is news that they have to process, day by day. But more important than that, they're doing everything that they can, to try and bring their family members, their daughter, and daughter's mother back home.

And anything that they can do, to get the message out, they've requested that I help to get the message out that the world knows that these are honest people, that these are people that are citizens of the United States.

A mother and a daughter, a young woman, a young girl, who is innocent, and just visiting family, in Israel. They went to a trip, to Israel, for a trip to see friends, and to see family, and to spend the 85th birthday of Natalie's grandmother.

This is a travesty. This is devastation. These are -- the pain is just unimaginable. And the family is certainly going through the hardest time of their life.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, you can't even imagine what that feeling is like, especially, I mean, when we're seeing videos, like what we're seeing, tonight, being released by Hamas, these obviously propaganda videos.

Rabbi Meir Hecht, we are obviously thinking of all of them, and keeping all of their family, and our thoughts. Please pass that on.

Rabbi Meir Hecht, thank you, for your time, tonight.

HECHT: Kaitlan, if I may just share, just for another moment. I think it is of utmost importance, that all of your viewers understand that this is a war between goodness and evil. The savage murder, of young children, of babies, of burning people alive, and taking hostages, innocent people, to a foreign country? And this is terrorism versus civilization.

And when people understand what we're dealing with, what we're facing, I think the outrage needs to be something that every human being, of moral compass, should stand up, and should have a forceful voice, tell the world, "I am here to support goodness, I am here to bring light to the world."


And the Lubavitcher Rebbe, the foremost Jewish leader, of our times, has made a public plea, in times of -- in times, like this, that we bring goodness and light to the world that we ask everyone, to pray.

Please open a prayer book, and say a prayer that Judith, Natalie, and all of the hostages, and all the people of Israel, and all those that are suffering, should be safe. And I ask that Jewish men should put on the tefillin, and Jewish women, please light the Shabbat candles.

We see so many people asking to do good. Everyone can do good. Everyone can pray, because prayer makes a difference. And put up a mezuzah, on your home. These are the things that will bring light, to the world, against the darkness and the evil that we are facing. And the more light that we bring, this will make a transformative difference, for the world.

COLLINS: Rabbi, thank you for that. And thank you for that message.

HECHT: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Coming up, here on THE SOURCE, there is more, on the Military response, from the United States, and from Israel.

One of the biggest obstacles, for Israeli forces, is this maze of tunnels that lie beneath Gaza, where Hamas terrorists hide, plot, and move their weapons around. What could tunnel warfare potentially look like? We'll tell you next.


COLLINS: Tonight, we are learning that roughly 2,000 U.S. troops are preparing, to potentially deploy, to Israel. If they were to go, we are told, they would provide medical and logistics support. But that's it.


Also tonight, a U.S. Marine rapid response force, is heading towards Israel's Coast. Already, a strike group that is being led, by the Navy's most advanced aircraft carrier, is in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, with another carrier strike group, on the way.

Here, to talk about all of this, and where it could be headed, CNN Military Analyst, retired Lieutenant General, Mark Hertling.

Thank you, for being here, tonight.

I mean, in addition to what we just laid out, which is, obviously the U.S. doing that for deterrence. But we're also learning, tonight, Israel is striking what they say, are Hezbollah terrorist targets. I mean, what is your concern, about where this could be headed at, big picture?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: It could rapidly expand, Kaitlan. And that's the thing that concerns me, a little bit. There's a lot of forces, in the area, a lot of things going on.

Israel is looking in multiple directions. They focused on Gaza. But now, they're having to deal with terrorists, inside of southern Lebanon, which is a normal problem for them. That happens a lot. They've been fighting, in southern Lebanon, for several decades, actually. I mean, one of the big things that they do is just watch that area, because they do have settlements there.

The other thing is the West Bank. Palestinians are rising up, in that area.

And they also have to look to Syria.

All of this is being? Well, let's just say Iran is contributing to this.

But the U.S. forces, going into the area, two carrier battle groups, strike groups, that's a lot of ships. It's more than just what appears on the surface of the aircraft carrier, and the destroyers, and the cruisers. There's a lot more than that.


HERTLING: The Amphibious Readiness Group, coming from the Marine Corps, is something that's normally with a strike group. They provide a whole lot of mission capabilities, everything, from amphibious landings, to helping this -- this particular group is Special Operations-capable that all the way to non-combatant evacuation operations.

COLLINS: Yes. So, we see all of that getting ready. But, I mean, what seems the most imminent? And that's still a question of when is this potential Israeli ground invasion into Gaza?


COLLINS: And obviously, the last time Israel went into Gaza, that, was 2014. We saw how that went. But in that, that's when they learned more about this vast array of tunnels, that Gaza operates, or the Hamas operates, out of -- that is underneath Gaza. Obviously, this idea is that they will have only grown more sophisticated. You can see them here, since then.

I mean, how do they prepare for that? How does that factor into their plan of attack?

HERTLING: Well, let's go back to 2014. In that year, at Operation -- I can't remember the name of the operation. Israel mobilized 70,000 soldiers. They've now mobilized over 300,000.

During a 50-day period of time, in that operation, they took, Israel took 66 soldiers casualties, six civilian casualties. The Palestinians took about 2,100 casualties, during that period.

We're way beyond that already. And they haven't even started the ground operation. We've seen the Israeli Air Force doing significant damage, in northern Gaza. And that's only going to get worse, if the ground forces go in.

As you said, the tunnel complexes have expanded significantly. I mean, by a lot. They've also got more rockets. They have all kinds of anti- tank guided missiles. There is indicators that they have shoulder- launched anti-air missiles.

So, you're seeing Hamas just garner a great many more capabilities, than they had, a decade ago. And they've been practicing, whereas Israel took their eye off the ball, inside of Gaza.

COLLINS: Well, and you've seen -- I mean, we talked about this, about the difficulty of training, in other places, in the Middle East, of how to go into caves, where terrorist or terrorist groups are hiding.

I mean, how does -- are they prepared to go into this? Do they have enough intelligence and an understanding of what exactly this complex tunnel system, underneath Gaza, is going to look like?

HERTLING: Yes, I'm going to say -- I'm not going to say they don't. But knowing how difficult it is, to go into tunnel and shaft complexes, I would say, this is going to be really tough, really tough, because it takes just a couple people, to defend in a complex, like this, against literally hundreds. We saw that in Ukraine, at Mariupol.

Yes, this is going to be a tough operation. And they need intelligence, which right now they don't have.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, we saw that from the origin of the attack.

Lieutenant General, Mark Hertling, thank you, as always, for sharing your expertise with us.

HERTLING: Pleasure. Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Yes, absolutely.

Up next, tonight, some 2,000 U.S. forces that we were talking about have been put on notice, by the Pentagon, to prepare to deploy, potentially to Israel. That Marine rapid response force that General Hertling mentioned, they're already being ordered to the region.

The Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee will weigh in with his thoughts, right after this quick break.



COLLINS: As we see the first images, of any of the hostages, who have been taken, by Hamas, a U.S. official is telling CNN, tonight, that the Administration has little insight, into the status, of the American hostages, that we know are also being held, in Gaza.

And I'm joined now by the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Republican congressman, Michael McCaul.

Chairman, thank you, for being here, tonight.


COLLINS: On the American hostages, we know, obviously, Americans are part of this larger group that is being held, in Gaza, by Hamas. Have you learned anything new, about the Americans, who are being held, in Gaza, right now?

MCCAUL: Now that there are several of them. I know that. I just got off the phone with the Ambassador, from Qatar. Jordan's working on this, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, trying to get them out, trying to negotiate, with Hamas, to free these hostages. We know they will be used as human shields, when the IDF goes, on the ground, which I would anticipate any day or so.

COLLINS: And so, what are your concerns, for those hostages, if that is going to be -- I mean, we know that Hamas uses people, as human shields. If they're still there, and they have not gotten out by then, and this is imminent, what happens to them?

MCCAUL: Well, it's very disturbing. I mean, I've seen videos of some of the children that they've taken.

Remember, we saw the toddlers, in the cages. And I've seen pictures of Hamas, with these really, 2-year-old, 3-year-old toddlers, holding them, but knowing that they're going to threaten Israel for other conditions.

They want the release of a lot of Palestinian Hamas hostages, in Israel. But it's so sick that they use these little children, as pawns, in their terrorist fight.


COLLINS: Yes. And Chairman, in addition to those efforts, we've also learned, tonight, that the U.S. is moving a second aircraft carrier that way. CNN is also now reporting that a Marine Amphibious group is also headed towards Israel. Obviously, that's a lot of us firepower near a very hot conflict.

Are you concerned about direct U.S. Military involvement here?

MCCAUL: Well, of course. We don't want to see troops, on the ground, here.

But actually what the Administration is doing, in this case, I fully support. And that is deterrence. I think Iran needs to see this. And most importantly, Hezbollah, out of Lebanon, needs to see a showing of force, by the United States, both in terms of the destroyer ships, the two aircraft carriers.

And now, we're sending special operators to train, not boots on the ground, but to train the IDF, as they go into the second phase of the Military operation, which will be going door-to-door, to liberate hostages, and eliminate the terrorists. I think it's important that we show that force.

COLLINS: Well, my colleague, Oren Liebermann, over at the Pentagon, is also reporting that Secretary Austin is preparing, for the possibility, of deploying 2,000 troops, to Israel. We are told these would be in support roles, medical assistance, logistics.

Are you OK with that move? Do you think it requires congressional approval?

MCCAUL: No. Congressional approval would only apply if we are sending troops into combat.

Now, I'm very cognizant of what's going on. I had a briefing, in the Situation Room, with the National Security Council, about this very issue, and what would trigger a response, from the Congress about, a use of Military force.

And my committee, the Foreign Affairs Committee is a committee that is responsible, for either declaring a war, or an authorized use of Military force. So actually, I'm currently preparing a draft of that in the event, it is called upon and, as necessary, but most importantly, supported by the American people.

COLLINS: I mean, it's something that we're all watching closely.

Chairman, obviously, you're on Capitol Hill, right now. There is still no House Speaker. We've heard, from Jim Jordan, they plan to potentially have a vote, as soon as tomorrow.

I mean, given the fact that there is still no House Speaker, that it has gone on this long, without Republicans, being able to coalesce, around one of your colleagues, and therefore frozen the House, from being able to do anything, including passing aid to Israel? I mean, do you have confidence that Republicans are actually going to be able to get that done, this week?

MCCAUL: Well, I warned my colleagues, I did at the last conference that look (ph), this is a dangerous time. The world's on fire. And our enemies are emboldened. I mean, Chairman Xi talked about how democracy doesn't work. And I don't want to prove him right. And I think the longer we go, Kaitlan, without a Speaker, in the chair, we cannot govern.

So, I've got a resolution, bipartisan, signed by 420 members of Congress, condemning Hamas, supporting Israel. But I can't get that passed, until we have a Speaker, in the chair.

Same thing with the Israeli supplemental bill that we've been talking about that could include Ukraine, and Indo-Pacific and possibly border.


MCCAUL: We can't get that passed, unless we have a Speaker, in the chair. And we really can't play games anymore, with fire. And I think fire is already out there.

COLLINS: If Jim Jordan does become the next House Speaker, do you think the House will ever be able to pass aid to Ukraine, again? MCCAUL: I do. In fact, I talked to him, today. I think he's amenable, to a package, the one I talked about.

COLLINS: Really?

MCCAUL: Yes. I think the one that I talked about. He has to respect the will the Conference, right? This Conference can't be controlled by eight people. And Jim Jordan seems to have more control, over those eight than any. But I believe that there will be.

I was at the Situation Room, with the National Security Council, just two days ago talking to the White House, about a package, a national security package that is going to be absolutely necessary, to pass. So that every day that goes by, without a Speaker, is another very dangerous --

COLLINS: Well did --

MCCAUL: -- for the United States.

COLLINS: Did Jim Jordan make any assurances to you that he would pass more aid to Ukraine?

MCCAUL: He was open to the fact of joining both Ukraine aid to Israeli funding, which is absolutely necessary. I talked to the Israeli ambassador, last night. They need $10 billion, to sustain this war, and defend Israel.

COLLINS: Chairman Michael McCaul, thank you, for your time, tonight.

MCCAUL: Thanks, Kaitlan. I appreciate it.

COLLINS: And back to our breaking news, tonight. President Biden is going to be making an extraordinary wartime visit, to Israel, two days from now. We're live at the White House, with the details, behind the planning, for this big trip. That's next.



COLLINS: Tonight, President Biden is planning to make a historic wartime visit, to Israel, on Wednesday, amid concerns, about a wider war happening, in the region.

CNN's MJ Lee is at the White House, and joins me now.

MJ, obviously, this is going to be a message, clearly that the President is going to be taking with him, a sign of solidarity. But this is also to send a message, to the other adversaries, those he's been warning about, taking advantage of, what's been happening, in Israel, in recent days.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Kaitlan. I mean, needless to say, this was not a decision that was made lightly, by this White House. We are told that there was a lot of furious planning, to ensure first and foremost, that the President can make this trip, in a safe and secure way.

We know that the President had expressed a personal interest, in making this trip, ever since Prime Minister Netanyahu extended that invitation, last weekend, when the two men spoke on the phone. This is as forceful and dramatic a show of force that the U.S. can show to Israel.

But Kaitlan, really this is not just about showing that solidarity. It is already becoming clear that there are a number of deliverables, or goals, that the President clearly has in mind.

First and foremost is an attempt at opening that humanitarian corridor, so that aid can go into Gaza, so that people that want to leave can leave.


There is also the hostage situation. The President has talked about this a whole lot, over the last week or so. We know that there are believed to be at least a handful of American hostages, in the mix. We still don't know the condition of those hostages. The President has made very clear that that is a top priority for him.

And then, just sending this message of deterrence, to other regional actors, in the region, and basically sending the message that we don't want this war to become a wider, broader war.

It is also important to note that the President is going to be making a stop, in Jordan. And that is a space to watch very closely, because one of the leaders, that will be participating, in that meeting, is Egyptian President, Sisi. He really holds the key. That is a country that holds the key, to making sure that that humanitarian corridor can be opened, in Gaza.

So clearly, a decision has been made, that the President himself, showing up, in the region, making that physical visit is going to make a difference, in all of these scenarios.

And I can tell you that this is the second trip, as you know, very well, Kaitlan, that the President is making, into an active war zone. The President visited Ukraine, earlier this year. So very quickly, we are seeing just how overwhelmingly, events abroad can overtake the President's schedule, the President's agenda, just in a matter of days.

COLLINS: Yes. Certainly not something. They thought he was going to Colorado, today. Now, we know he's going to Israel.

MJ Lee, great reporting. Thank you.

And of course, as President Biden is planning, for this visit? And the White House obviously has so much going into this. We're learning more about what has been happening, on the ground, what he is going to learn more about, when he's there, the horrors of Hamas' attack, and the first responders, who were there, racing to help the victims, as that day unfolded. And joining me now is Eli Beer, the Founder and President of United Hatzalah, the largest emergency medical service, in Israel, whose volunteers were among the first people, to respond, to the attack, by Hamas.

Eli, I'm so grateful you're here, tonight, because you're personally there, you're responding to this. Can you just kind of describe to me what you've been seeing?

ELI BEER, FOUNDER & PRESIDENT, UNITED HATZALAH: Well, I'm involved with life-saving, for the last 35 years. I started volunteering on a back of an ambulance when I was 15-years-old. In my first terrorist attack, I was just a couple of days, after starting volunteering, it was a terrorist, stabbing people, in Jaffa Street in Jerusalem.

And if you take 35 years, and you put them all combined together, of the most horrific terrorist attacks, in the restaurants, in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, in the bus bombings, and all the other terrible tragedies that I saw, all combined together, it's nothing compared to what I saw, in the last 10 days.

And the first day was, it was horrific. Unfortunately, after being part of this, in the first day, and my wife, Gitty, who is a paramedic, and my daughters and my settlements (ph), were all there, rescuing people, seeing little babies chopped up to pieces, seeing how these terrorists, the Hamas terrorists, who are so evil, they just wanted to kill any Jewish person, no matter who they are, how old they are.

And they were going from babies, to the mothers, to the fathers, and grandparents, and then shooting the pets, shooting little parrots, just for fun, because they're owned by Jews.

And I remember seeing, hours later, when we were able to go into places, and seeing, in these little kibbutzes that were all peaceful, little villages, seeing a whole family, just murdered, and chopped, and the situation, the conditions that they were in.

It's when I went out of there, and my family, my wife went out of there, we felt like we just came out of the Holocaust. That's how we felt, after one day of seeing --


BEER: -- so many horrors. That's how we felt. That's how our volunteers felt.

COLLINS: I mean --

BEER: And it's something I'll never forget.

COLLINS: -- to hear you say that it felt like coming out of the Holocaust is, I mean, it's unfathomable.

And I know that one of the volunteers even, they were given -- one of your volunteers was given two children, two babies, whose parents had been killed, in the attack. Do you know how they're doing tonight? Who's taking care of them now?

BEER: Well, Shalom is a hero. One of my volunteers, Shalom, who is a young kid, he's only like 23-years-old. And he went in with the Special Forces, into Kfar Aza, which is 60 percent of the population were murdered, massacred. And he went in with them, putting his life in danger.

We were there, in the first moments, while the shooting was still above our heads. Missiles were flying in the air. And Shalom went in. He heard baby crying. And it was like, it was -- it wasn't real, like how do you hear a baby crying? Everyone's dead everywhere.


These terrorists, when they murdered the mother, who went out, to bring some milk, for her children, who were starving, in the shelter? The mother ran to the kitchen, just to get some milk, or some water, for the baby, to feed the baby. And the terrorists saw her. And they -- I don't even want to talk what they did to her, and the type of condition we found her there. And the mother was murdered afterwards.

And the father ran out to save his wife, who was a young lady. They just got married about two years ago. And the father was shot in his head and shot all over his body.

And then Shalom, when he came hours later, maybe 16 hours later? These babies were crying, for 16 hours. But because of the shooting, no one heard. And when the Special Forces, Israeli Special Forces came in, to the house, trying to clear it from terrorists, they heard the babies crying. And they took these little, tiny little babies, 6-months-old. They brought them out to the United Hatzalah volunteers, who were there.

Shalom was holding the baby, and he was crying, and he was looking at this baby that was starving. And he went into the kitchen, to get a little bottle of water, to just give water. The baby was dehydrated. He could hardly feel the pulse of the baby. The baby was crying, for 16 hours.

He felt -- he told me later, when I was hugging him, I said to Shalom, "I'm so proud of you." He said, "Eli, I felt like I was in 1944, 1943 in Europe, just saved little two Jewish babies. That's how I felt."

And I can't even describe the sorrow that we feel, as volunteers.


BEER: We are -- I had to go, to two families, of our volunteers, who, these two volunteers were murdered. I don't know if you realize, so many people in Israel know people who are either murdered, or kidnapped, or injured.

Two volunteers of United Hatzalah.

One is a Israeli Jew, from Kiryat Malha, was murdered right in the beginning. He went to save lives. And he was murdered, by these terrorists. And they shot him maybe 50 bullets in his body.

And the second one was an Arab volunteer, of United Hatzalah, Muslim, Arab volunteer from Nazareth. Nazareth, you all know from Bible. He was down there, because he was protecting these people, who were having, these young kids, who were having a fun time, in this festival. And he went to volunteer, to save, if someone gets hurt, if someone gets injured, he was there to help them.

And when he saw the massacre happening, he ran over, to evict them. Instead of running away, he was running over to stop bleeding of these young kids, not knowing that you're talking about hundreds of the most horrific, terrible terrorists in the world, ISIS, Hamas, and they attacked him.

And then, when they found out he was an Arab Muslim, and he was wearing the same exact vest, I'm wearing now, with the Israeli flag?

We're all proud. We have Jews and Arabs, working together here, in Israel, volunteers with United Hatzalah, 7,000 people are working together, Jews and Arabs, Christians will all work. No difference. We all love each other.

And he was running to save people. And they tortured him so much, when they heard he was a Muslim. They -- we found him only four or five days later. And it was terrible, to see his face, because we couldn't recognize anything.

COLLINS: Eli, I can't even imagine what you've been through, what your volunteers have been through. And I just -- please tell them all that we're thinking of them, that they were so quick, to respond, on that day, and what they've seen since then.

Eli Beer, thank you. We will continue to tell your stories. Thank you, for your time, tonight.

BEER: Yes. Thank you.

COLLINS: The war, in Israel, right now, is only adding to the pressure, that you see, on Capitol Hill, as Republicans are being asked, to potentially maybe finally settle, on a new House Speaker. There is supposed to be a vote, tomorrow. The question is whether or not there will be an actual House Speaker, tomorrow. Jim Jordan still whipping the votes.

We'll have the latest, on Capitol Hill, right after this.



COLLINS: House Republicans, who are without a House Speaker, tonight, are hoping to potentially change that tomorrow.

Jim Jordan won over some more members, today, who initially were not going to vote for him. But there are still several more holdouts, following a closed-door meeting, tonight. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Chairman, you have 217 locked in?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I hope so. I think so.


COLLINS: Of course, Jordan can only afford to lose four votes.

CNN's Manu Raju has been doing the math, on this, from Capitol Hill.

Manu, what's the latest on where this stands, and if Jim Jordan could actually become Speaker Jordan, tomorrow?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, he's still short the 217 votes, needed to be elected Speaker. But he's narrowing the gap, considerably.

Remember, on Friday, 55 Republicans voted against him, in a secret ballot election.

Then yesterday, I was told there are about 20 Republicans, who are ready to vote no. That is much smaller, now, after convincing some holdouts, making some insurances behind-the-scenes, particularly over spending levels, defense policy and the like. And now, it's much narrower.

But that doesn't mean that he's there yet. In fact, I spoke to several of these Republicans, going in. Some of them are still concerned about everything that happened, over the last two weeks. They don't want to reward the conservative hardliners, who pushed out Kevin McCarthy, and later sunk Steve Scalise, to replace McCarthy.

And others want some key clarity, from Jim Jordan, and including whether he believes the 2020 election was stolen.


REP. DON BACON (R-NE): You don't have a process where I play by the rules and these other people can't, and then they get what they want. That's not America. Americans want fair play.

REP. MARIO DIAZ-BALART (R-FL): So, if anybody's trying to get my vote, the last thing you want to do is try to intimidate or pressure me, because then I close out entirely.

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): If he's going to lead this Conference, during a presidential election cycle, he's going to have to be strong, and say, "Donald Trump didn't win the election."


RAJU: Now, Jordan had previously said, Kaitlan that he would not go to the floor, if he was short 217 votes. But he has changed that approach. He told me earlier today that he will in fact do that. [21:55:00]

And the expectation is that this could go multiple ballots, something he also did not rule out, only saying that, "Tomorrow, we will elect a Speaker of the House."


COLLINS: We'll see who that is.

Manu Raju, thank you, for that update.

Also, tonight, another development out of Washington. Of course, the First Amendment does not allow Donald Trump "to launch a pre-trial smear campaign." Those are the words, of the federal judge, overseeing his case, about what'd he say, regarding that trial. More on her decision, that's next.


COLLINS: Former President, Donald Trump, is a candidate, a defendant, and now under a limited gag order for the second time.

Today, the federal judge, who is overseeing the election subversion case, in Washington, barred him, from attacking the prosecutor, Jack Smith, which he has done, many times, the court, or potential witnesses, at the risk of facing sanctions.


Trump said that he would appeal that order, from Judge Tanya Chutkan. Not totally clear what the future of that looks like.

But I should note that the former President is also using this limited gag order, to fundraise, tonight, something that he has done, repeatedly.

Judge Chutkan said that she would assess any consequences, if and when Trump violates that order.

We'll keep you updated.

Thank you so much, for joining us.

Very excited to now hand it over to "NEWS NIGHT" with Abby Phillip, which starts right now.