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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

ABC News: Mark Meadows Received Immunity To Testify In Federal Election Interference Case; Parents Of 23-Year-Old American Kidnapped And Injured By Hamas Speaks To Kaitlan; Now: House GOP Holding Third Vote Today On Who Will Be Fourth Speaker Nominee In Three Weeks. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired October 24, 2023 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Matty, is there anything else you want people to know about your family situation, about your dad?

MATTY DANCYG, FATHER PRESUMED KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: My dad is sick. And he has medicine he should take. And he have trouble to sleep.

He gave his life all -- more than 50 years, he lived on the border, on the border, when the State of Israel wanted us, to live on the border. It wanted him to live on the border. And now, they should pay back, for all these years. Yes, it's like what I said. They just need to bring him back, and bring everybody back.

COOPER: Yes. Matty Dancyg, I'm so sorry, for what you're going through, and your family's going through. I wish you the best. And I hope they all come home soon.

DANCYG: Thank you.


COOPER: CNN's coverage, in Israel, continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Good evening. I'm Kaitlan Collins. Welcome to THE SOURCE.

We'll get a live update, on the latest, on the ground, in Israel, with Anderson Cooper, in just a moment.

But I want to start, tonight, with some ominous breaking news, for Donald Trump. I'm not even talking about how a third former lawyer of his, just took a plea deal, in the State of Georgia, earlier today, which Jenna Ellis did do, in a courtroom, through tears. We'll get more on that in a second.

But according to a new report, tonight, Special Counsel, Jack Smith, has secured what would be his most valuable witness yet, in the federal election interference case, against the former President. His final Chief of Staff, Mark Meadows.

ABC News is reporting, tonight, that Meadows has been granted immunity and has met with Smith's team, at least three times, this year alone, including once, before a federal grand jury, while he had that immunity.

According to ABC, Meadows allegedly told investigators, he did not believe the election was stolen, and that Trump was quote, being "Dishonest," when he claimed victory, after the polls closed, in November of 2020. His attorney told CBS News that that story was, in his words, largely inaccurate. He did not say what he believed was inaccurate.

But for more, on this breaking news, and what it could mean, I want to bring in CNN's Political Analyst, and the New York Times Senior Political Correspondent, Maggie Haberman; and also our CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig, who are both here with us.

And I should note, Maggie, CNN has not confirmed this reporting yet. This is from ABC News.

But if this is the case, if Mark Meadows did get this level of immunity, and he's there, testifying, how devastating do you think that would be for Donald Trump?

MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Look, based on the details, in the ABC story? And I tip my hat to them for getting the details of this testimony. They are explosive. They are interesting.

They show Mark Meadows disavowing his own book, which bluntly everyone else had disavowed, so he might as well too, under oath. And it tells you that he knows what he has to do, when he's in legal peril.

I don't know what it means, because I don't totally understand the description of the type of conditions, he was testifying under. I don't know, whether immunity is being used colloquially, or whether there is something that is more tailored, such as in a proffer offer. I just don't know. And I assume that that will become clearer as time goes on.

COLLINS: Well, Elie, walk us through, I mean, what does that mean?


COLLINS: What would be the difference in a proffer agreement? Full immunity? I mean, what are the other levels of this essentially?

HONIG: So, there are a lot of different flavors of cooperation, as Maggie was saying. Think of it as three different levels.

The sort of lowest level, the most informal is what we call a proffer agreement, which is where someone, a witness comes in, offers their testimony, and a prosecutor says, "We want to hear what you have to say. We're not going to use what you tell us here today against you." It's the feeling-out stage. The next level up is what we call immunity. That would be formal immunity, where you say, "OK. We prosecutors are interested in what you have to say. We think it's truthful. We think it's important. You've taken the Fifth," because you don't want to testify.

The way we overcome that is we say, as prosecutors, "OK, we're going to go to a court order -- and get an order from a judge, giving you immunity," meaning, "You will testify fully, and we will not use your testimony against you. And for all practical purposes, we will not prosecute you."

And then, the top level is if you think the person has participated, in a crime, and has to be charged accordingly, then you enter into what we know is a full cooperation agreement, meaning, again -- we're going to use you, Kaitlan, sorry. You're sitting right here.

COLLINS: Not committed any crimes, somewhere else (ph), so it's fine.

HONIG: I take your word for it.

You will plead guilty, to what we've charged you with, and we will enter into an agreement that you'll give full testimony. At the end of that, the prosecutors will write a letter, to your judge, saying, "She was a great cooperator. She deserves a huge break at sentencing."

COLLINS: OK. And so, what we don't know is what level --

HONIG: Right.

COLLINS: -- if he has gotten this immunity, what level that would be. If it was that second tier, I mean?


COLLINS: And there was a court order? I mean, what would that mean, for what he's telling them, if he's gone before Jack Smith's team, three times, this year and a federal grand jury?

HONIG: So, prosecutors do not hand out immunity agreements, like candy. You are very careful, because you're giving away a lot.



HONIG: What you're saying as a prosecutor is "We're going to give you a free pass here essentially, but two things. One, we believe this testimony. We think it's correct, true, credible. And two, we need it. We need it."

Because what you have to do is you actually have to do internal paperwork, at DOJ, first, and say, "Hey, we have this witness he's taken the Fifth. But we really need his testimony. Here's why it's worth giving him a pass." If they get that approved in DOJ, then you have to walk it across the street, to a judge, who signs it. Usually judges -- COLLINS: Is that something that Jack Smith approves, or that Attorney General, Merrick Garland, would approve it?

HONIG: So, Jack Smith, in the first instance. Would it go to main justice? Probably not.


HONIG: Jack Smith, as Special Counsel, is given enough independence that he could probably make that approval himself.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, and Maggie, we're hearing from a Trump spokesman, tonight.

I mean, they kind of issue the same statement, with different sentences, and different orders, on we have sponsored these stories.

They say wrongful, unethical leaks, underscore how detrimental these cases are to democracy, the system of justice.

But I mean, this has kind of been something that people, in Trump world, have suspected for a long time that Mark Meadows was doing something, with prosecutors, because his name wasn't on that indictment that came out of Washington.

HABERMAN: Correct. And there was very little of Mark Meadows actually, in that indictment that was clearly identifiably him.

My colleagues and I actually wrote about that, that he was walking this line, between sort of dealing with Jack Smith's team. I don't want to say cooperating, because I don't have reasonably that's what it is. But -- and dealing with Georgia, which he had clearly turned his back on, and where he was charged.

The fact that he was charged in Georgia? I mean, and Elie would know more than I do about this. But this raises, for me anyway, some questions, about just how much immunity he would be given, because he is already a problematic witness, in a lot of ways.

He wrote a whole book that he testified much the opposite to, right? And he gave a bunch of other public statements. He testified in Georgia. There's a lot of things that a defense lawyer could use, to try to poke holes at him. So, I don't know what that means, right.

HONIG: Right.

COLLINS: I'm glad you brought the book up. Because what ABC is reporting, tonight, is one of the quotes that Mark Meadows told to Jack Smith's team was "Obviously we didn't win" is what he says he told them in hindsight.

They also say that he told them that the election was "Stolen," and "Rigged," with help from "allies in the liberal media," who ignored "actual evidence of fraud."

Also, in his book, he says "The people who rigged this election, knew that eventually, these irregularities would come to light. So, they conducted the operation, then attacked anyone who dared ask questions, about what they had done."

I mean, if you're Jack Smith, if you're a grand jury, you see what he's testifying, now.


COLLINS: You saw what he wrote in his book that came out, after the election.

How do you take that?

HONIG: I'm having flashbacks here, to my prosecutor years, because a lot of times the reality is, in a perfect world, someone, like Mark Meadows, who's a key witness, would just come clean --


HONIG: -- right off the bat, and wouldn't have lied to the public, for three years, and written 320 pages of a book, filled with lies.

But the reality is you sometimes have to take your cooperators, as they come. And they always have baggage. Definitionally, if they're going to be on the inside of a crime?


HONIG: They did something bad, usually. And the question is A, do you believe that person has fully come clean? And B, can you put this person, in front of a jury, and explain to the jury why they were, in Mark Meadows' case, he was lying, in his book and for three years, but now he's made a 180? It's not always the easiest sell.

COLLINS: We're kind of getting into the weeds of this. And obviously, the three of us have followed this very closely.


COLLINS: But if you're sitting at home, and you've been trying, with a whiteboard, to keep track of all the Trump legal developments?

HABERMAN: Good luck with that. We've been doing that, yes.

COLLINS: Please. I hope you're having a glass of wine, while you're doing that.


COLLINS: But what do you -- I mean, why does this matter?


COLLINS: Why is this bad for Trump?

HABERMAN: Right. COLLINS: If this is accurate?

HONIG: Because now DOJ believes that they can use Mark Meadows' testimony. And Mark Meadows was Donald Trump's right hand, at his side, literally, throughout the key weeks, days and months, leading up to and during January 6 as well.

HABERMAN: Yes. And Mark Meadows is also somebody who, to the point of what, the things he said at various points -- we've talked about this before, on air. Mark Meadows is somebody, who was known for saying different things, to different audiences. He was known as trying to please whoever he was talking to. And I think this was the first example, we have seen, in detail.

Now look, again, he testified in Georgia, for several hours.


HABERMAN: So, there is examples there that are under oath, but or at least threat of perjury.

But this feels a little different, in terms of that some of the specifics, of what he is said to have said. And this really drills down on him, according to ABC, saying bluntly, "This wasn't stolen." He supposedly told Trump that they weren't proving this and that he had questions about it. That was the first time I had heard anything like that, instead.

COLLINS: Yes. I think people like Bill Barr, and Pat Cipollone, and all the people there --

HABERMAN: Yes. They all said it. Yes.

COLLINS: -- would have a lot of questions, if this was.

HABERMAN: And so, I think that we're going to hear more, right, about what he may or may not have said.

But there is no question, as Elie said. Mark Meadows was at the center of so much of this. He was talking to so many people. And he could speak to Trump's mindset, in a very specific way.

COLLINS: So, in the context of all of this? This report just came out, tonight.

But also, this morning, something happened, very quickly, to where only one CNN reporter was in the courtroom, actually, because it came together so quickly, in Georgia.


That is Jenna Ellis. She is the former Trump campaign attorney. Our viewers will know her, when they see her, here in just a moment. She accepted a plea deal. She pleaded not guilty -- or she pleaded guilty, today, in the State of Georgia, in that election of interference case.

I just want to remind our viewers who Jenna Ellis is, what she used to say previously, and we'll end with what she said, in court, today.


JENNA ELLIS, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ATTORNEY: This is an elite StrikeForce team that is working on behalf of the President and the campaign, to make sure that our Constitution is protected.

President Trump is right that there was widespread fraud.

The election was stolen, and President Trump won by a landslide.

We have this overwhelming evidence of fraud.

This election was fraudulent. It was corrupted.

All of these false and fraudulent results.

I endeavored to represent my client to the best of my ability. I relied on others, including lawyers, with many more years of experience than I, to provide me with true and reliable information.

If I knew then, what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump, in these post-election challenges. I look back, on this whole experience, with deep remorse.


COLLINS: I mean, Maggie, as someone who read her tweets, watched her appearances?


COLLINS: It's kind of stunning to hear the tears, today.

HABERMAN: I suspect she has deep regret, which is sort of a different thing than remorse.

But yes, what she was saying, for a very long time was that, Donald Trump was in the right, and that he was going to be shown right.

And there was a point, when she stopped saying that, in around 2021, and that was when Trump was starting to tell people, that he was going to be reinstated. And she had a break with him, around that.

But she was one of the biggest proponents around this. She was traveling with Rudy Giuliani, to these hearings.

And, there have been two other lawyer pleas, ahead of her, Sidney Powell and Kenneth Chesebro, in Georgia. She's the one, who actually really had the most contact with Trump. And she had the most contact with Giuliani. And so, I think that she is actually in a very different position, than they are, to talk about so much of this.

COLLINS: How bad is this for Donald Trump?

HONIG: Well, so I think Maggie hit on exactly the main point, I want to know, as a prosecutor is, which is, what was her dealings with Donald Trump?


HONIG: What were those conversations? We really don't have a great sense of that. I mean, it is notable to see her. She was so aggressive in pushing the election fraud lie. I think you can see the contrast in that clip. And it's notable that she's now saying, "That was BS. And I now know it."


HONIG: But the key to me? That's fine. That's interesting, atmospherically. But what were those one-on-one conversations with Trump?


HONIG: That's what I want to know.

COLLINS: Yes. Well, prosecutors may soon know that.


COLLINS: Elie Honig, Maggie Haberman, a lot of developments, tonight. Thank you both.

Up next, we are going to go back, live to the ground, in Israel. Anderson Cooper is there. As we were getting disturbing new audio that was played out loud, today, at the United Nations, of what appears to be a Hamas fighter, bragging to his parents, about killing Jews, in Israel.

The parents of an American hostage, who has been taken by Hamas, were also at the United Nations today. They're here with me, in studio, tonight, as they are desperately waiting, on word of their son. That's in a moment.



COLLINS: Tonight, CNN has obtained disturbing audio. And I'm not even sure disturbing goes enough -- far enough to describe what it is that you're about to hear.

It's of a Hamas terrorist, they say, who called his parents, to brag about how many Jews that he had killed, during that October 7th attack, on Israel. The terrorist in the audio claims to be calling from the phone of a woman that he had just murdered.

This audio was played today, by Israel's Foreign Minister, at the United Nations. I should note, CNN cannot confirm the veracity of the audio. But it is part of this push, by Israeli officials, to remind the world, of the heinous acts, that happened that day.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MAHMOUD (through translator): Look how Many I killed with my own hands. Your Son killed Jews. It's inside Mefalsim, dad.

DAD (through translator): May God protect you.

MAHMOUD (through translator): Dad, I'm talking to you from a Jewish woman's phone. I killed her, and I killed her husband.


COLLINS: Anderson Cooper joins me now live, in Tel Aviv.

Anderson, obviously, we've spoken to Israeli officials. What they are trying to do by playing that audio, out loud, is to remind everyone, of the atrocities, of what happened that day.

Something that of course, is this push that they're making, as people are waiting to see, what Israel is going to do, with the ground invasion, what that's going to look like, and kind of making their argument, for what happens next.

COOPER: Yes, I mean, look, it's been just 17 days, since the slaughter took place here.

And I think there's many people, here in Israel, who feel that much of the world has moved on, or no longer really wants to hear the stories, or -- and it is just now that we are really learning the full, and not even the full, we are just starting to learn the details of what happened on October 7th.

And those details, like that audio, are just sickening, and something in, it's something new. I mean, some of the things we saw here, it wasn't just the personal brutality, the looking people in the eyes, as they were slaughtered, or throwing a grenade, into a room full of people that were defenseless. It was the desire to videotape it, with your iPhone, and to call your parents about it, and brag about it, to your parents.

And when Bracha Levinson, in Nir Oz, a 75-year-old woman, was shot in her living room, the gunman gained access, to her Facebook account, and they live-streamed an image of her, with them standing over her, laying on the ground, in a pool of blood. And her friends and family got that Facebook alert, for them to log on and look at it. And that's how many people in her family. And that kind of personal terror is something that is something new.

And we're seeing just the documentation, the desire, for killers, to document, on a large scale, what they were doing, to use that, for propaganda purposes, to show off to their friends, to put online, and to make glossy terror porn videos. It's, this stuff is just now coming to light.

COLLINS: And, I mean, what I'm struck by with that is just the fact that it is everywhere.

[21:20:00] And when we were talking to parents, on the ground, in Israel? I mean, so many of these parents of children, their family members, their relatives, who are still being held hostage, they're having to look at a lot of these videos, that Hamas is posting, on Telegram channels, on other dark places of the internet, looking for any shred of information, about their loved ones, and having to see all of this.

COOPER: Yes. I mean, this is, there was such a lack of information, early on, and such chaos and confusion here, that there wasn't information, from the IDF. The IDF was trying to hunt down terrorists, who were still roaming around, along the border.

So, families -- and families still are looking through Jihadist videos, online, and looking through these videos, online, just for a glimpse, some word, of their loved one. And it is an indignity, on top of an indignity, on top of a horror.

COLLINS: Yes. It absolutely is.

Anderson, thank you, for being there, on the ground. We'll check back in with you later.

Right now, of course, as Anderson was noting, families of over 200 hostages, still desperate for information, about those loved ones that are being held by Hamas. The families, and their supporters, were in the streets of New York, today, outside of the United Nations.

That includes the family of 23-year-old American, Hersh Goldberg- Polin. They are demanding answers, about his condition, his whereabouts, after he was attacked and kidnapped by Hamas, at the site of that Nova music festival, on October 7th.

In that attack, Hersh's left hand, part of his arm, were severed from his body. You can see that in videos that has been posted by Hamas, online.

His parents, Rachel Goldberg, and Jon Polin, are here with me, in studio, tonight.

And I just want to thank you both, for being here. And that you had to listen to that audio, because I know that's not easy.

And, Rachel, something that you said that struck me today, was that you still have no answers.




COLLINS: Of your son?


COLLINS: How do you deal with that on a daily basis? GOLDBERG: Well, I've said this many times. We live in a parallel universe, from when this started to happen. So, we're like, in this other dimension, than people, who haven't had this kind of trauma happen. We talk to other families, with children, who are missing, or other loved ones, who are missing, who feel exactly the same.


GOLDBERG: For us, we try very hard, every day, to work, and work, to try to figure out other ways, to find out information, to help push the cause, of how do we get all of these hostages home. So, we stay very busy.

COLLINS: And I mean, what is the latest that you've heard, from either the U.S. government, the Israeli government, the United Nations? Anyone -- has anyone -- I mean, given any kind of update, or glimmer of hope, from these talks that are happening behind-the-scenes?

JON POLIN, SON HERSH GOLDBERG-POLIN CAPTURED BY HAMAS: No. We've got no information, no updates, and no specific reason to have a glimmer of hope, other than it's what we hold on to.

That is what keeps us going, is the hope that this is going to have an ending that is OK. But that's driven on by just focus on the mission. It's not based on anything we've heard or learned.

COLLINS: And I know one thing that has kind of been -- you've been piecing this information together yourself. You have a team at your home, in Jerusalem, working on trying to figure out more.

And I was struck by something you said that you learned, from a woman, who was in the shelter, with your son, as Hamas was attacking it, throwing grenades into there, that a Bedouin man came in, and did something really remarkable.

GOLDBERG: Right. It actually made me feel like this whisper of positivity, because she explained that when all the kids, from the music festival, went running, into this bomb shelter, there was a Bedouin man, who worked at the kibbutz, across the street, who also ran in for shelter.

And as Hamas was getting closer, he said to the kids, "Everybody, be quiet. I'm going to go outside and talk to them." And he went outside, and in Arabic, he explained, "I'm a Muslim. Everybody in there is Muslim. It's my family. You don't have to go check."

COLLINS: Trying to deter, essentially.

GOLDBERG: Trying to save them, because he knew, bad things would be happening, to them.

And he could have just gone out, and in Arabic, said, "I'm a Muslim." And maybe they would have said, "Oh, OK, great," and then they would have left him be.

But instead, because he was trying to protect these 29 Jewish kids, who were smushed in there, they beat him, brutally. And she, the witness who I spoke to, didn't know if he had lived or died, because then they went in, after beating him, and that's when the whole attack began.


But just that he had the courage, to do the right thing, and in a scary situation, to be really human, and in a place, and in a moment, where the whole world was upside-down, it really just made me feel hope that there is --

COLLINS: Which is something, I'm sure you haven't felt very much, of these days.

GOLDBERG: Right, that there's still really goodness in the world, especially when we're so bifurcated, and thinking it's an, us versus them. And it's not.

COLLINS: When you look at the video, that Anderson showed you, of your son? I know that was a really remarkable moment for you, to actually be able to see him. I mean, he's gravely wounded, though. And it's tough to even see that video.

When you know what kind of condition he's in, at least medically, that he needs real attention? And you see what's happening with these talks over, Hamas wants more fuel, they want a ceasefire, in order to let more hostages out? Do you think a ceasefire would be helpful, at this point?

POLIN: Look, our main interest is bring home Hersh, our son. We understand there's also a national interest. Although to be honest, through both of those lenses, I think we should be buying time. And so, I think --

COLLINS: You'd like more time?

POLIN: I'd like more time. Yes.

GOLDBERG: I think all the hostage families feel that way.

COLLINS: Really?

GOLDBERG: Anyone that I've spoken to? I mean, it's hard to say "No, go ahead, go in, and these, this vulnerable group of 200, and whatever's left, 218 (ph) people, let's make them even more vulnerable," just feels counterintuitive to someone who, if you are one of the relatives, of those loved ones.

But we'll see. We'll see what happens.

COLLINS: Do you fear that if Israel does move forward, with this ground invasion, that it makes the release of your son, just by practical terms, of how ugly? Everyone that we've spoken to, former defense officials, have said, that will be. Do you think it makes his release less likely? GOLDBERG: I mean, to be honest with you, I don't think that there's like a rational playbook here. So, I don't know what the intentions are, long-term, short-term, war, ceasefire, I don't -- I don't know, the psyche of the people, in charge who, in Hamas, who are deciding the fate of these 216, or 218. The number keeps changing.

COLLINS: Yes. Every day it seems to change.

GOLDBERG: And then, they've released a couple -- you know, four people. But then the number went up again. So, it's just a big unknown.

POLIN: It seems, from testimonies, from the four, who have been released a little bit that they're spread out, the hostages. They're separated. Many of them at least are apparently deep, deep underground, in hidden tunnels.

It's chaos already. As things escalate, that chaos is not going to be diminished.

COLLINS: I think there are a lot of people watching, right now, who are sitting at home, wondering how you have the strength, to even come on and speak in an interview, go to the United Nations, speak. Get out of bed.


COLLINS: What would you say to them?

GOLDBERG: I really think honestly -- we get a lot of very encouraging WhatsApps and emails. And I honestly think I don't know any parent who would not do what we're doing, to save their kid. I just don't.

So, I don't think what we're doing is unusual, for this situation. I just think this situation is really unusual. So, people aren't usually put in this situation. But there's no parent, who isn't going to run, to the end of the earth, to save their kid.

POLIN: I think that I've said there's no partial success here. It's not like we could be 50 percent successful or 98 percent successful.

Either we bring Hersh home alive, or we don't. When it's that black and white, there's no choice, but to just run, 20 hours a day, 21 hours a day, 22 hours a day, run around the world, hop on planes, hop off planes, to try to accomplish that mission.

COLLINS: Yes. We're all hoping that you're reunited with your son. And all the hostage families are.

GOLDBERG: Definitely.

COLLINS: I want to thank you, for coming on, and for being gracious enough, to come and speak with us, and obviously, just talk to us, about this very difficult issue.

GOLDBERG: Thanks, Kaitlan, yes. POLIN: Thank you.

COLLINS: Thank you, Rachel. Thank you, Jon.

And we'll be back in just a moment.



COLLINS: Tonight, we're getting more details, about the 2,000 U.S. forces, who have now been placed, on high alert, for potential deployment, to the Middle East. Among them, we are told, are experts in complex Military -- urban environments and Military explosives.

The Pentagon says that U.S. troops have been attacked at least 13 times, in just the last week, by Iranian-backed militias, in Iraq and Syria.

On top of that, the Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is warning, given those attacks, that the U.S., in his words, will "act swiftly and decisively" if it is attacked by Iran or those militias that Iran backs.

With me now, for perspective, on what the U.S. is doing, in response to this, is retired Lieutenant General, Mark Hertling.

Thank you so much for being here.

I mean, what does it tell you that these explosives experts are among those, who are being prepped, to potentially deploy, to the Middle East, given what we are seeing happen, not just in Israel, but on its borders, on the north and the south?

LT. GENERAL MARK HERTLING, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: First, Kaitlan, I'd say it's not a surprise, to have these kind of experts, EOD experts, Explosive Ordnance Detachment personnel. It's part of a bigger package.

And when you're talking about the Secretary of Defense, signing off, on a PTDO, a Prepare To Deploy Order, that tells me that they've put this package together, with all sorts of things, that could contribute, potentially, to helping Israel, in this kind of environment.


Specifically, the Explosive Ordnance Detachment, the EOD teams, those are going to be critically important, during an incursion, into Gaza. Because, I think, what we're going to see the Israelis face, are not only ambushes, defensive ambushes, for the kind of tanks that you're showing, on the screen, right now.

It's going to be a very tough environment, for those tanks, and personnel carriers, and bulldozers and engineers equipment, to move through areas. One of the things that will be emplaced along those routes are Improvised Explosive Devices, IED.

What I would also suggest you're going to start hearing a term called Explosively Formed Penetrators, EFP. Those are particularly designed, by Iranians. They've been given to their proxies. And they can actually sear through some of these armored vehicles.

They're very tough to diffuse, and they're very tough to define. They were a plague on U.S. soldiers, in Iraq. We know all about them. They are deadly. And I think the Israeli forces are going to see those, as they go into Gaza.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, that's kind of been, when we've talked about what these Israeli forces, a lot of them reservists, who have now been mobilized, are preparing to potentially confront, if they do go in, when they do go in.

I mean, that question is what is happening with the Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Obviously, he's someone we know, has been seen as being cautious, about Military operations.

I mean, given what you just laid out, what these soldiers may be facing, when they go into Gaza, is that part of why do you think there has been this delay, in why Israel has not gone into Gaza yet?

HERTLING: Certainly. It's a series of things, Kaitlan.

It's, first of all, the mobilization of 300,000. That's four times as many Israel has mobilized, in the last two decades.

Secondly, it's the fact, as you just said, these are young troopers, the majority of them. Now, Israel has a very good reserve force. And they're competent, and capable. But they haven't deployed into this kind of scenario that they're going to see their urban environment, which is Gaza.

The third thing is whenever you go into an operation, you just don't roll in, with all these tanks and personnel carriers. You have intelligence, drive your operations.

And because Israel truthfully has taken the eye off the ball, which is Gaza, for the last at least five years, they don't have as much as intelligence as they should, about the area. What do these forces go in to do? What are their objectives? What are their missions?


HERTLING: Where do they go?

And plus, you add the tunnel complexes to that, and that just exacerbates the issue.

COLLINS: Well, I'm glad you brought that up. Because before I let you go, I do want to ask you about the decision-making and the decision- makers.

Because, I mean, clearly, there's such signs of infighting that The New York Times noted that Netanyahu, his Defense Minister, who I should note, earlier this year, he fired him, and then unfired him, and the Military Chief of Staff, they had to put out this statement, kind of assuring the public, that they're working in close and full cooperation.

I think if you put that statement out, it doesn't make people feel that you actually are doing that.

If there is a disconnect among those three, how much does that affect, what could happen, on the ground, to these IDF soldiers?

HERTLING: Well, yes, there has certainly been a rift, between the Military and the government, over the last several years. That's been in open source reporting. It's been in the Israeli newspaper. Haaretz has reported that.

So, what we're talking about, is trying to get on the same sheet of music, when you're putting young Israelis, in harm's way. And when you have differences of opinions, of a Prime Minister versus his Defense Minister versus a coalition government?

Remember, the guy that Netanyahu brought in is Benny Gantz. He used to be the Chief of Staff, of the Israeli Military. He was not a big fan, of Mr. Netanyahu's.

So, there are certainly differences, between individuals. Personalities matter, in these kinds of things. And it will cause some challenges, in terms of getting a plan that's workable, that the Military can execute, and it can achieve success. And under these kinds of situations, it's going to be very difficult.


Lieutenant General, Mark Hertling, as always, thank you for joining me.

HERTLING: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Ahead, we're going to focus on what is happening in Gaza.

Eight (ph) trucks that were loaded with water, with food, with medicine, did make it into Gaza, today. But it's too little too late, for the six hospitals, in the region, that have now just closed, after they ran out of fuel.

We'll have the latest, on the crisis, that is unfolding, in Gaza, next.



COLLINS: In one of the most oil-rich parts of the planet, the lack of fuel is reaching a critical level, in Gaza, tonight.

Yet, of the 20 aid trucks that were supposed to go into Gaza, today, we are told only eight made it through the Rafah Crossing, just eight. That is according to a United Nations Relief Agency. None of those, of course, were carrying fuel. That has been a major dispute with Israel, tonight.

The World Health Organization says that six hospitals, in Gaza, have been forced to close, because they don't have any fuel. That's fuel that was powering the generators. It was giving these hospitals, power. Because of that, the lives of almost 130 preemie babies are at risk, tonight, as are nearly 1,000 dialysis patients.

Just to get a sense of what is happening, on the ground, what people are living through, I'm joined, tonight, by Dorgham Abusalim, who lives in Washington, D.C., but whose parents, as well as his little sister, and his big brother, are in still the Central Gaza Strip.

And Dorgham, I'm so glad you're here with me, tonight.

Your little sister is in Gaza. She sent a voice message, earlier, describing just their living situation. It's in Arabic. But we have translated it here. I'm really grateful that you shared that with us.

And I want our audience to just be able to listen to what she said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): There is no electricity, no water since 15 days. We drink salty water and we might store it also. The bread is becoming very rare. Medicine are over from everywhere and anyone who suffers from chronic diseases faces death at any moment.

We live moments in which we wait for death. Every day we go through is like a nightmare in Gaza. Even who has children, and has older people. There is no milk, there is no pampers, there is nothing that will let the child even live. Literally, the situation is getting worse than before.



COLLINS: She says, every day is like a nightmare, and that somehow the situation gets worse than it was before, which, I mean, it just, it's hard to imagine getting worse than what she just described, babies not having medicine, old people not having what they need.

I mean, what goes through your mind, when you think of what your family is living through, right now?

DORGHAM ABUSALIM, HAS FAMILY IN GAZA: I'm just absolutely horrified at what my family is going through, for no other reason than simply existing.

We are -- our home, the only home we've ever known. My father is 80- years-old. He's paralyzed. My mom is in her late 60s. She is blind. And as you mentioned, my younger sister -- our youngest sister is there, as well as our eldest brother. And the situation is just incredibly unbearable and overwhelming.

And now, this is a reality that I am also enduring, at a distance, 24/7. Just thinking of the circumstances that they're going through, is consuming and truly difficult, that we are having to go through this tragedy.

COLLINS: Your dad is paralyzed. And you say your mom is blind. Have you talked to -- have you been able to speak to them?

ABUSALIM: Not in the past few days. I've heard, from my sister, about the family, through the voice notes, one of which I've shared with you. But I have not had a chance to hear the voice of my parents, and they have not had a chance to hear my voice.

In the best of circumstances, these days, I might get a text message, with one or two words, depending on the bandwidths, of the internet connection, if it is available at all, that would simply say, "Alive."


ABUSALIM: This is how low the bar has become for us. And these days, I am simply time-stamping the last messages, I would receive, from my family, just in case it might in fact be the last message.

COLLINS: I mean that's unfathomable.

ABUSALIM: And this is a horrifying possibility.

COLLINS: That you're waiting on a text from your family that just says one word, and it's just "Alive."

ABUSALIM: Yes, I mean, that's the reality of our situation right now.

And the tragedy of it all is what we're seeing unfold, in the Gaza Strip, it seems to be worsening, with the blessing and support of most major powers.

And, for my parents, and for myself, we just have to wonder, why? What wrong have we done? What wrong have all the families and all the people that are going through this, have they done? Whole families have been completely exterminated. And every day, I'm wondering if my family is going to be next.

COLLINS: I mean, what is it even like to, to just be wondering that, I mean, as you're sitting here, and as we were just speaking with Lieutenant General Mark Hertling about what a ground invasion could look like? I mean, if the Israeli government was listening, what would you, want to say to them, about your family that's there.

ABUSALIM: I would simply say, I mean, not just to the Israeli government, but to every decision-maker that's involved in this, tragedy, and all the crimes that we are witnessing being committed against us? There is another way around us.

And it's interesting that you mentioned a segment that appeared right before mine, because I thought it was an interesting juxtaposition, of all the buildup, and all the violence that is in the pipeline, and then all the human beings, whose lives are being reduced to nothing, all while being vilified and dehumanized, for no other reason than simply existing.

I was talking to a friend of mine, earlier. And I said to him, the only way we could make sense of this, the only way we could rationalize it, is by accepting the awful presumption that Palestinians are not human. This is where we're at.

And we are appealing, for our humanity, and our very existence, beyond the politics, and beyond all the discussions and the debates that are taking place. This is very existential to us. And it's very, very scary.

COLLINS: It's terrifying. And you are human. And I'm so sorry about what your family is going through. But it's important for people to hear what your parents, what your little sister are living through.

And so, Dorgham Abusalim, thank you, for coming on, and being willing to do that tonight.

ABUSALIM: Thank you so much. Appreciate you for having me.

COLLINS: Yes, we'll stay in touch with you.

As this is such a critical time, globally, I mean, here at home, it just makes what is happening, on Capitol Hill look, even more ridiculous, than it already would.

The U.S. government is completely paralyzed.

You have been watching today as what's happening in Israel, what's happening in Gaza.

On Capitol Hill, a third Republican Speaker nominee has just dropped out of the race. That is hours after he was just nominated.

Right now, on Capitol Hill there is voting taking place. Of course, aid to Israel hangs in the balance, as well as to Ukraine, and to other places.

We'll be live and get an update, in just a moment.



COLLINS: Oh boy, if you are having trouble, keeping track of the dysfunction and chaos, and I'm putting it lightly, of House Republicans, right now? Imagine trying to lead them. Clearly, it's not a job anyone really wants. And maybe a lot of people want it. But they can't necessarily get it.

Right now, House Republicans are huddled, again, behind closed doors, trying to sort this out. This comes after another episode of internal chaos. The third nominee, for Speaker, has failed. And so, Tom Emmer, dropped out of the race.

And joining me now is CNN Capitol Hill Reporter, Melanie Zanona, who I'm imagining has crossed out a lot of names.

I mean, Melanie, some of the names that I'm looking at now, it's like "Wait, who, which one is this?" I mean, they've like run through the entire roster of House Republicans, it feels like.

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, scraping the bottom of the barrel here.

But look, this is the fourth time, Republicans are now trying to huddle behind closed doors, to select their nominee for Speaker, fourth time in three weeks, and just twice alone, today, I should point out.

Right now, there's five candidates, who were initially in the race. They've been whittling those candidates down through secret-ballot votes. It is down now to two candidates. That's Mike Johnson, a member of the House Judiciary Committee. And also Byron Donalds. He's a House Freedom Caucus member, from Florida.


But Kaitlan, there was a big warning sign, on the last ballot. And that is that 34 Republicans voted for someone, other than one of those candidates. So, that is a huge issue, for either of those candidates. And in fact, they made a motion, to figure out who those members were. 33 of them were for Kevin McCarthy. One of them was for Jim Jordan.


ZANONA: And just a sign of the enormous distrust, right now, in the ranks.

Some lawmakers are now suspecting that McCarthy, and his allies, are behind that move. So, just a massive amount of anger and frustration.

Let's listen to what some of those members had to say.


REP. VERN BUCHANAN (R-FL): It's outrageous. It really is. It's outrageous. We're very upset. The calls we're getting, and everything else. They just feel like we can't manage.

REP. MIKE GARCIA (R-CA): Just get it done. Like, honestly, at this point, it's been the same theme for a week.

REP. MICHAEL WALTZ (R-FL): This is beyond frustrating.

We need to get our act together, as we say, in the army, get our head out of our rear.

My fear is if we keep doing this, somebody is going to end up siding with the Democrats. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZANONA: And Kaitlan, as we were speaking, I'm actually learning that Mike Johnson, one of those members I was talking about, has just clinched the nomination, for Speaker. But, as we have seen, that does not mean that member is going to be able to get 217 votes, on the floor.

So, the next steps here, is that Republicans will huddle, once again tomorrow, here in Longworth, 9 AM, tomorrow. They're going to do some more roll call votes, to figure out, behind closed doors, whether Mike Johnson has 217.

But just a massive amount of uncertainty, and distrust, right now, in the Republican ranks.


COLLINS: Yes. Not only does it not mean they can get to 217. It has spelled doom, for everyone else. We'll see if it's different, for the congressman, from Louisiana.

Melanie Zanona, thank you, for that reporting.

Up next, we have new information that we're getting in, on how Hamas pulled off that surprise, brutal, barbaric attack, on Israel, on October 7th. That in a moment.



COLLINS: Tonight, we are learning more, about how the planning, for that deadly October 7th attack, by Hamas, on Israel, went undetected, for two years.

Sources tell CNN, tonight, that Hamas operatives were actually communicating, through a network, of landlines that were built, into those tunnels that we have discussed that are underneath Gaza.

We'll have more on that, tomorrow night.

Thank you so much, for joining us.

"CNN NEWS NIGHT" with Abby Phillip starts, right now.