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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

IDF: Jabalya "Not A Refugee Camp, It's A Hamas Stronghold"; Donald Trump Jr. Testifies In NY Fraud Trial; Biden Responds To Rabbi's Call For Ceasefire: "I Think We Need A Pause... Means Give Time To Get The Prisoners Out". Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 01, 2023 - 21:00   ET





A major breakthrough, as the first Americans, and other foreigners, are able to finally evacuate war-torn Gaza.

Plus, a second strike, on the largest refugee camp, there, for the second day in a row. We'll ask a top Israeli official, why the IDF hit the same area again.

And here at home, Donald Trump Jr., on the witness stand, at his family's fraud trial.

I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.

Moments ago, President Biden called for a pause, in Gaza, to allow for the release, of more hostages. This, after he was interrupted, by a protester, a rabbi, at a closed-door fundraiser, in Minneapolis, tonight.

But his administration has been clear, saying that they rule out the idea of endorsing a ceasefire, as you've seen some, in the international community call for one.

We'll have more, on President Biden's response, in a moment.

But all of this is coming, after the first evacuations, of people, from Gaza. More than 2 million people have been trapped. The conditions there have been described as nothing short of hellish. Deaths continuing to climb, there is little food or water to be found.

A small number of Americans were among the hundreds that were allowed to leave, through that Rafah Crossing, into Egypt today. President Biden says that's a result of intense diplomacy and that the White House is working, quote, "Non-stop" to get more Americans out.

Most civilians have remained trapped though, as Israeli ground forces have been moving in, and airstrikes over Gaza have continued.

That same refugee camp that you heard about yesterday, the Jabalya camp, that was hit, was hit again, today, 24 hours, after a large number of civilians there were killed, in addition, according to the IDF, to a top Hamas commander.

This is the before and after that area. You can see the devastation that has happened. Israel claims that it struck a Hamas command and control complex, and reiterates that they had been warning civilians, to leave this area.

This is what the IDF said about hitting that camp, again.


LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, IDF INTERNATIONAL SPOKESPERSON: You're referring to a second strike. I think a more correct depiction of it would be that there's ongoing fighting.

We're fighting an enemy that is embedded in each and every house. There's tunnels everywhere. And it's an active combat zone. This is a Hamas stronghold. It's not a refugee camp, it's a Hamas stronghold.


COLLINS: More on what Israel is doing in a moment.

Wolf Blitzer is live, on the ground, in Tel Aviv.

And Wolf, I understand that there is a lot of activity, some explosions that we are seeing, happening in Gaza, right now. What can you tell us?

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Well, you can see the skyline, over Gaza, right there. This is from our camera. That's not far from Gaza, in Sderot. And you can see the lights going on.

Clearly, the Israelis are not pausing, in their continuing airstrikes, against what they described as major Hamas sites, not only in elsewhere in Gaza, but including in those refugee camps, especially that major of the largest refugee camp, where there have been two major Israeli airstrikes, over the past two days alone.

The Israelis are not going to pause. They're not going to accept a ceasefire. They see this, as the Prime Minister said, a war that potentially could lead to Israel's extinction. And they're going to just try to do the best they can, to destroy Hamas. And they're going, again, full speed ahead.

COLLINS: Yes, Wolf. And I mean, you pressed the IDF, on this, yesterday, the idea that yes, they say that Hamas commanders were there that this is this command and control center. We can hear what's happening, in Gaza, just to let our viewers know. That's what they're looking at. This is exactly what is happening, at this moment.

It is 3 AM, there in Gaza. And you could hear the activity. What's clear, Wolf, is despite the growing criticism, of the civilians, that are being caught, in the middle of this, I mean, Israel does not appear to be slowing its activity, in Gaza, at all. BLITZER: No. They're not slowing it down at all. They're going to be moving quickly, on the ground, and from the air, and maybe even from the sea.

They've got a mission. And they're determined to try to succeed, and to eliminate Hamas, as a potential threat, down the road, to Israel, as a result of what happened, on October 7th.

They're moving -- they're moving quickly. And they're not going to accept either a ceasefire or even a so-called pause. They see that basically as the same thing. They want to get the job done. And they want to get it done as quickly as possible. If you speak to Israeli officials, as I have, they're making that abundantly clear.

COLLINS: Yes. And Wolf, I just want to pause for a moment, and let everyone see what is happening, in Gaza, and just listen to what we're hearing, right now.



COLLINS: And Wolf, I mean, this is coming as what we're seeing, not just these airstrikes happening, tonight, but also, what's shifting here, as we heard, from a senior Israeli official, today, in the Military, saying these forces are on the ground. They are approaching. They're at the gates of Gaza City, he said.

BLITZER: They're moving quickly on the ground. This is a major Israeli Military operation.

Remember, Kaitlan, the Israelis in the days, immediately after October 7th, the terror attack, in Israel, not far from Gaza, the Israeli Military mobilized more than 300,000 reservists. And they're now active-duty. They're on the ground, over there. Some are already inside Gaza. But many of them are waiting to move inside.

So, this is a full-scale Military operation that they're engaged in. And they see this as part of their effort, to destroy Hamas, and to protect Israel, from any future attacks that are similar to the one that occurred, on October 7th. So, they're not going to stop.

COLLINS: Yes. Wolf Blitzer, on the ground, in Tel Aviv. We'll continue to check back in with you, as there are updates.

With me here, in studio, Axios Reporter, Barak Ravid, who is deeply sourced, in the Middle East.

I mean, and what we're seeing in Gaza, happening, right now, I mean, it's 3 AM there. This is kind of what's been happening, every night. There is no pause happening, right now.

And I think it's notable given what President Biden said, tonight, at this closed-door fundraiser. He was being shouted down, from a rabbi, calling for a ceasefire. He talked about a pause. But I mean, it's not totally clear, if that will happen, what it will look like. BARAK RAVID, FOREIGN POLICY REPORTER, AXIOS: Yes, I think there's a -- we need to differentiate between a ceasefire, that this is basically, something which is pretty long, at least a few days, that might lead to a total cessation of hostilities. This is not in the cards, OK?

When Biden speaks about a pause, he speaks about something that the Israelis actually already doing, on the ground, without saying it. For example, today, when the ambulances came in, and took 80 wounded Palestinians, to Egypt? And every day when the trucks are coming in? There is an unofficial pause that Israel stops a lot of its Military operations, in southern Gaza, to allow that to happen.

But what Biden is talking about, I think, what the White House is trying to achieve is at least several-hour pause, in the entire Gaza Strip, that will create some sort of conditions, that will A, allow the departure of Americans, from Gaza, because a lot of them are still scattered, around the Gaza Strip. And may --

COLLINS: Hundreds.

RAVID: I think it's almost -- close to 1,000 people. And also create a sort of atmosphere that might allow some sort of a release of hostages. I'm not sure if that's possible. But that's what the White House is looking for.

COLLINS: And so, when he says, quote, and this is Biden, tonight, "I'm the guy that convinced Bibi," his nickname, "to call for a ceasefire to let the prisoners out. I'm the guy that talked to Sisi," the Egyptian president, "to convince him to open the door." You think that's what he's referencing on this?

RAVID: I think so. It's, I read the transcript of this. And it seems to me like Biden talking off the cuff. And so --

COLLINS: He never does that.

RAVID: He never. So, I wouldn't take like every word. For example, he uses the word, "Prisoners," when they're -- not the word, "Hostages," or things like that.

So again, I think, again, what the White House is trying to achieve, is a period of six hours, eight hours. That's a long enough period of time, again, to get Americans out, not only Americans, also foreign nationals. We saw a first tranche of this happening today. You can't get all those people out, if you don't have few hours of a pause.

COLLINS: And what we're seeing, happening on the ground, as far as Israel's clearly continuing to hit Gaza, tonight. We're looking at these live pictures, right now.

The Israeli commander saying our forces are at the gates of Gaza City. That is where we're expecting it to be, that real urban warfare that we've heard so many Israeli experts, and former officials there, say it's going to be ugly. It's going to be brutal.

They've already lost 16 IDF soldiers. I mean, how much more do you think they're bracing for?

RAVID: So, I think what we still don't see is exactly that. The ground operation, we see some pictures, some very short videos.

But, on the ground, right now, in Gaza, both in northern Gaza Strip, and in the center of Gaza Strip. So, from both sides, both from the north and the south, there are three armored infantry divisions of the IDF. That's more than 30,000 soldiers. That's --

COLLINS: So, they're surrounding it?

RAVID: They're surrounding it. It's hundreds of tanks, armored personnel vehicles, this is a huge thing. We still don't see it, because the Israelis are keeping it ambiguous, for all sorts of reasons.


But they are very close. As the Commander said, that they are at the gates of Gaza City, they're going to, I think, either tomorrow, the next day, to start getting into Gaza City. And this is where things get really difficult, because this is a densely urban area. And then, any -- from every house, from every corner, there can be anti-tank missiles, there could be IEDs. This is very, very dangerous.

COLLINS: And do you think they are fully, they're ready for it? I mean, they won't call it a ground invasion?

RAVID: Not yet. Not yet. But I think --

COLLINS: You think they will, eventually?

RAVID: I think eventually. I mean, I think, at a certain point, when you see something, and you see it's a ground invasion, it doesn't matter if you call it an invasion, if you don't call it an invasion. It's -- and this is not something that will take, like they're not there for few hours. They're not there for two or three days. This is going to be a long thing.

COLLINS: Yes. Barak Ravid, great reporting. We'll continue to bring that here, on THE SOURCE. Thank you for that.

RAVID: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Of course, the Rafah Crossing that I mentioned is this spot. It's a eight-mile fence. On one side, it's millions of people, who are trapped, in Gaza, tonight. On the other side is Egypt's Sinai desert, is now the only way in, for food, for water, for supplies. It's the only way out, for people, who do have another passport, to get them to another country.

And I'm joined now by a Senior Adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and the former Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, Mark Regev.

Thank you so much, Ambassador, for being here. Is Israel committed to making sure that the Rafah Crossing stays open, so these crossings can continue?

AMB. MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER NETANYAHU: We are indeed. And we're hopeful that we'll see more people be leaving in the coming days. Obviously, we're talking first and foremost, about the nationals, with two passports -- sorry, the dual nationals, who have a foreign passport.

And of course, now that the Egyptians have established a field hospital, on the Rafah side, on the Egyptian side of the Rafah Crossing, we're hopeful that people, who need that hospital attention, need health care, can go there, too. We're hopeful that other countries will be augmenting the Egyptians, and we'll see further field hospitals, there, on the Egyptian side of the crossing.

COLLINS: And our understanding was that Americans, in large part, I know there were a few people who got through today, doctors, will be crossing, on Thursday. Can you explain why that is? And is that your understanding as well that Americans, most of them, out of Gaza, will be allowed to leave, on Thursday?

REGEV: From our point of view, this should have been done, weeks ago, at the very beginning of the conflict. I remember this issue was first raised by Secretary Blinken, when he was here, on his first visit, and that was just a few days after the conflict had started.

So, from our point of view, this was something that we wanted to happen, a while ago. It took us a while to get make this happen, primarily because Hamas caused a lot of problems. Only because of pressure on Hamas, I think have they agreed now to -- for the exit of the people, with the foreign passports.

COLLINS: Well, Israel, of course, was part of those negotiations as well. There were some concerns, over when Israeli airstrikes, and where they were hitting.

But I do want to ask you because the IDF confirmed today that the Jabalya refugee camp has been hit, for a second time. Of course, that comes after yesterday, the IDF said a strike there killed a Hamas commander. But we also know it killed civilians as well.

Why did Israel strike again here? And do you know how many civilians have been killed, in this area, as a result of these strikes, yesterday and today?

REGEV: So, we know we've taken out a senior Hamas commander, who was directly involved, in the massacre, of October 7th.

As you will recall, there were rapes, there were beheading, that there were people burned alive, burned so badly, we, until today, we've got 130 bodies that we can't recognize, who they are. They're just ashes.

And anyone, who was involved, especially a commander of the operation, we have a duty to find them, and to bring them to justice. And we have meted out very, very speedy justice, with this individual. COLLINS: But to the question of why did Israel strike a second time, today? And do you have an estimate, of how many civilians were killed, as a result of these strikes, yesterday and today?

REGEV: So, I can't tell you. I know that we've hit senior Hamas commanders, and we've hit many Hamas terrorists. That's our goal.

In the Jabalya camp, subterranean -- your pictures are of only showing what's above ground, for obvious reasons. But underneath there, you have a spider-web, of tunnels, of bunkers, of fortifications, an underground city, which Hamas has built, over the years, of course, stealing the cement, and the electricity, and so forth, from the people of Gaza.

And in building those fortifications, that's an integral part of their Military machine. And we are about to destroy that Military machine. If we need to attack it again, we'll attack it again.

COLLINS: OK. But you're not acknowledging how many. I assume Israel does have an estimate of how many civilians were killed. I assume you have an estimate of how many civilians are there, when you make a calculus, on when to strike. Tell me if that's wrong.

But when you decide, on striking targets, that you say are Military targets, but are also where civilians are, I mean, how many civilian deaths does Israel believe are acceptable, in an airstrike, if it is a Military target?


REGEV: So obviously, we try to keep any collateral damage to a minimum, as minimum as possible. And the advantage, of this particular location, is that it has been largely, not totally, but largely evacuated, because we were telling people, there, two weeks ago longer, that they should evacuate that area, that there will be fighting.

And that whole area, around Gaza City, including the refugee camp, about 800,000 people have moved to the south, as we requested, and more so, in the last few days, as the ground operation started.

And so, we think there are, of course, are civilians, still in the area. We're making a great effort to distinguish between them and Hamas. But the good news is that the huge civilian population that used to be there has vacated.

COLLINS: But do you know how many were killed?

REGEV: I can't tell you exactly, because I don't know.

COLLINS: What about an estimate?

REGEV: Of course, the numbers that come out, from the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health are, of course, high. But we don't believe them.

COLLINS: So, what number do you believe, Ambassador? REGEV: And if you look at those statistics, we've never hit a single terrorist. We only hit civilians. That's, of course, obviously mendacious.

COLLINS: You don't believe their number. I obviously understand why. It's controlled by Hamas. It's putting out these figures. But what number? I haven't heard a number, from Israel. What number do you think?

REGEV: We don't have it. We can't give you a precise number. And I don't want to give a number, irresponsibly.

I can say the following. Most of the civilians left that location before we struck. I'm not denying there were a few there. But we've hit a primary Hamas target. We've taken out a Hamas leader. We've taken out many, many Hamas fighters. That was the goal of our operation.

And casualties, if there were civilian casualties, surely that has to be based on Hamas. Because the Geneva Convention is clear. If a combatant turns a civilian area into a war zone? In other words, if he's placed his Military machine, inside of civilian neighborhood, he has in fact endangering the civilians. Because, according to the Geneva Convention, the Additional Protocol, Article 13 --

COLLINS: I understand the --

REGEV: -- by doing so, he's made it a legitimate target.

Now, even though we have a legal right to do so, under the laws of war, to attack a legitimate Hamas target, we still made an effort, told all the civilians, "Please vacate the location." And I'm happy to tell you that the overwhelming majority of Gaza civilians, in that location, have in fact, left.


REGEV: The number of civilians left there are small.

COLLINS: I will say, Ambassador?

REGEV: We don't want to hurt them.

COLLINS: I will say, Ambassador, a lot of them feel like they don't have places to go, certainly it's not safe places.

But as far as what Israel is doing, on the ground, in Gaza? The Military said earlier today that Israeli ground forces, they have advanced, to the gates of Gaza City. Are Israeli forces inside Gaza City, right now?

REGEV: I can't answer that question. We're not giving those sort of operational details out, publicly, for obvious reasons, because Hamas is watching also CNN. And they want any information they can about where our forces are, and what operations are upcoming. We won't give that sort of information out, other than to say, we are committed to the mission.

We will destroy Hamas' Military machine. We'll do everything we can to get our hostages out. And we will push this through to its end. And the end is an end of Hamas rule, in Gaza, and the destruction of the Hamas Military machine.

We will not allow, Kaitlan, we will simply, we'll not allow, again, the sort of massacre that they perpetrated against Israel, on October 7th, never again. And we'll prevent that from happening by destroying their capacity, their capability, to inflict that sort of massacre, upon our people.

COLLINS: It's very clear that Israeli for -- I mean, your own Military saying that they are on the ground there. We've seen them going in, into Gaza, in this second phase of this campaign.

Can you explain why Israel is hesitant or just is not -- is refusing to call it a ground invasion?

REGEV: Well, we've obviously got ground forces, inside the Gaza Strip. I think what we call it is immaterial. If you want to call it an invasion, you can call it what you want.

But we are there, on the ground, to take on Hamas, to defeat Hamas, to end the rule of Hamas, in Gaza. And ultimately, our objective is, of course, good for Israel, because we're going to free the people of southern Israel, from this constant threat, of this ISIS-type terrorist organization.

But at the same time, I ultimately believe that it's good, for the people of Gaza, too, who deserve better. And for 16 years, Hamas has ruled Gaza. And what have they brought for the people of Gaza? Only suffering, pain and impoverishment. The people of Gaza deserve better, surely.

COLLINS: Ambassador Mark Regev, thank you, for your time, tonight.

REGEV: Thank you for having me.

COLLINS: One of the Americans, who was lucky, to make it out of Gaza, today, a Seattle doctor, a volunteer, who was making prosthetics, for children, in Gaza, is safe, tonight. Her nephew is here with me next.

Also today, here in New York, Donald Trump Jr. was on the stand, in the fraud trial that is threatening his father's business empire. What prosecutors wanted to know from him, and what he told them? That's also ahead.



COLLINS: Tonight, two American doctors, who were stranded, in Gaza, have safely been evacuated into Egypt.

One of them is 71-year-old Dr. Ramona Okumura, who left Gaza, through the Rafah border crossing, early this morning. She's a retired pediatric orthopedic specialist, from Seattle. She's been making prosthetics, for children, and teaching others, how to, make them, for the last seven years, as a volunteer.

Her nephew shared with us, her last text that she sent, just as she was arriving, into Egypt. It reads, quote, "Luv to everyone who helped me get out... Pray for the people of Gaza who now don't have us as shields from harm. Good night."

And her nephew, Nicholas Pang, joins me now.

Nick, I'm so glad that you're here. I mean, it must be such a relief to know that she's safe, that she's coming home, and that she was able to make it out.

NICHOLAS PANG, NEPHEW OF AMERICAN DOCTOR WHO MADE IT OUT OF GAZA: Yes, thank you, first, thank you for having me.

And, I mean, there's just this weight lifted off of me, this weight has been lifted off, from the entire family, that every single day, we've just been on bated breath, waiting for her next text message, to make sure that she's fine, and to know that she's finally through the border, and on to a safer place, in Cairo, now. It's just incredibly relieving.

COLLINS: Yes. And the last you heard from her was when she was on that shuttle bus?

PANG: Shuttle bus. And then we know that she arrived at a hotel in Cairo.


COLLINS: Yes, I mean, I imagine that contact has been so limited. Comms in Gaza had been disrupted. They are, we believe, disrupted tonight, disrupted several times.

What was she kind of describing what she was seeing, to you and your family?

PANG: I mean, I think what really struck us the most, was that at times she was -- she would do these audio messages, where she would just hold up her phone. And then, we'll just hear bombs, going off, whether Hamas rockets, or Israeli Military missiles. And just hearing it, and then having her explain that these were rattling the window shades, it was just very terrifying.

And that's on top of them having limited food, limited water, and just a lot of disease, illnesses going around.

COLLINS: And she's a doctor. She's there to help people. I know, she volunteered in Gaza a lot. She got a little disrupted, because of the Pandemic.

But obviously, you want her to be safe. But I imagine it's probably difficult for her to leave, given she was working with children, in Gaza, and what we're seeing happen, to those children, now.

PANG: Yes. I mean, she doesn't have any children. But in a sense, she has thousands of children.

I mean, I have, in the past life, I've gotten to go with her, to piano recitals, for children, that she's made prosthetics for. And that's just the type of medical specialist that she is. She doesn't want to just make a limb for a child. She wants to be part of their lives, to do what she can, to help them go to school, learn, play, and just be kids.

Because, I mean, whether that's a kid, in Seattle, or a kid, in Gaza, that's a kid that just wants to grow up and be happy.

COLLINS: She sounds like such a special person. We're glad that she's safe, and glad that you came to join us.

PANG: Yes.

COLLINS: So, keep us updated, when you do hear more from her.

PANG: Wonderful, thank you.

COLLINS: Thank you, Nicholas.

Dr. Ramona Okumura, we're wishing the best for her.

Of course, up next, we'll get more, on the ground, in Gaza, what's happening there.

Also tonight, the Trump family begins taking the stand, at the civil fraud trial that could ultimately derail the Trump Organization. First up was Donald Trump Jr. What he told prosecutors? And which of his siblings will be in that seat, next?



COLLINS: Donald Trump Jr., on the witness stand, in court, today, in the $250 million civil fraud trial that is threatening the very existence of his father's empire.

Donald Trump Jr. was pressed, by prosecutors, on the scope of his involvement, in the company's financial statements. He's not done testifying yet. But he also is not expected to be the last of his family members, to take the stand.

Joining me, tonight, CNN Legal Analyst, Karen Friedman Agnifilo, who is also the former Chief Assistant District Attorney, here in Manhattan.

And I'm so glad, you're here.

Because, I mean, this was just day one. We just got like a little bit of Donald Trump Jr., and what this looks like. He denied having involvement in these financial statements. But he did acknowledge that he had had conversations, with others, at the company that could have played a role into that.

How does that work? Is that suitable for what the judge is hearing, what others in the court are hearing?

KAREN FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, the judge has to decide whether they credit -- whether he credits what Don Jr. is saying.

I mean, don't forget, this is a man, who went to Wharton Business School, one of the best business schools. He was the President of the company. And so, either he is not qualified to run, and be an officer, of a large institution that deals with properties and money, et cetera. Or, he might not be telling the truth. According to the judge, depending on what they decide.

But it seems a little strange that he -- everyone's kind of saying, "It's not me. It's him. It's not me. It's him. It's not me. It's him." And with Don Jr., in particular, I think just given his educational background, and his level, at the company, I think it's a little bit straining, to think that he wasn't more involved.

COLLINS: So, when he says, Accounting 101, in the 90s, was kind of his like, grasp of experience with that, do you think that's something that they see as credible?

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: I don't think these are complex financial considerations that are going on here. These are pretty simple concepts, right?

These are things like, how big is the apartment? Is it 30,000 square feet? Or is it 10,000 square feet? Are you taking into consideration the fact that there are rent-controlled apartments? Or are they all at full market value apartments? I mean, just commonsense things that I think are things that he would know.


FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: Everybody knows. Everybody can understand that.

So again, either the lights were on, and nobody's home, or he's not telling the truth. It just makes no sense.

COLLINS: Well, and he's not the only of the former President's kids to be testifying.


COLLINS: I mean, he's back on the stand, tomorrow. His brother, Eric Trump is also going to be there. Ivanka Trump is supposed to be there. But she's scheduling, filing an appeal, to try to get out of her testimony.

I mean, what is looking at all of their testimony and Donald Trump himself's testimony, how does that all figure into what the results of this looks like?

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: I think at a certain point, if everybody's pointing the finger, at somebody else, but the buck doesn't stop anywhere? I think that's going to be one of the things that the judge, who's the fact-finder here? Because there's no jury, right? This is a bench trial. I think that could be one of the things he decides to look at, and say, "Does this make sense?"

I mean, don't forget, this is a very successful business operation. Donald Trump tells us every day how successful he has been in business. You don't get that way, without having some level of competence, I don't think.

So, I just think it'll be interesting to see who can finally take responsibility, for this. Somebody has to, right? Somebody made up these numbers, made up these figures, and valued things a certain way. And I think it'll be interesting to see who the judge credits, to determine who that will be.

COLLINS: And do you think Ivanka will win her appeal? Or what's your sense of that?

FRIEDMAN AGNIFILO: It's really interesting. I actually read the minutes from the hearing. And a lot of it's very technical, saying, "Look, you didn't serve me properly. I don't live in New York," et cetera.

But on the other hand, what they're saying is "No, you had relevant testimony. You have businesses in New York." And so, if there's relevant testimony to be had, and the judge finds that, I think she'll be testifying.

But they did give her a chance to appeal it, which is why her testimony isn't scheduled, until next Wednesday.

COLLINS: Yes. We'll see what ultimately happens there.

Donald Trump Jr. will be back on the stand, at 10 AM, tomorrow.


Karen, I know you'll be watching it closely, with the rest of us. So, thank you.


COLLINS: And, of course, tonight, we're also following big news, on Capitol Hill. Two more Republicans there, have just called it quits, from Congress, including one, who is going to be here, tonight, who is not mincing words, about his party, on the way out.

Congressman Ken Buck is next.


COLLINS: The House of Representatives is back in Washington, tonight, with big problems to address, on the agenda, keeping the government open, as well as helping Israel and Ukraine fight a pair of brutal wars.

All of that though, was immediately sidetracked, by a slew of resolutions, to punish other members of Congress. We watched that play out, on Capitol Hill, today.

My next guest though, is Republican congressman, Ken Buck, who made his own news, by announcing that he has had enough, and is not running for reelection.

Congressman, thank you, for joining me, tonight.

Tell me what is driving your decision here.

REP. KEN BUCK (R-CO): Well, really two things, Kaitlan.

One, I have been here, nine years, and Congress refuses to deal with the big issues that we need to deal with. We have not addressed the sustainability of Social Security and Medicare.

We haven't addressed the huge spending issue that we have. By the end of next year, we will have $36 trillion of debt. And that also is just unsustainable.

And so, we need to -- we really need to work on issues. There's no incentive structure here to do that.


And then, in addition to that, Republicans, who have answers to these issues, and are at least aware of them, and hopefully will work on them, someday, have a huge credibility problem.

Because, we continue to talk about, and lie about the 2020 election, as if it was stolen, as if Joe Biden wasn't the real winner of that election. We keep lying about January 6th, and the prisoners from January 6th, the defendants, who are not political prisoners, but rather committed crimes. They assaulted Police officers. They damaged government property.

And so, I don't think we can have the credibility, we need, with the American public, if we continue the lies that we're now telling.

COLLINS: When you hear those members of your own party that you're talking about, in the hallways, behind you, who try to claim the election was stolen, or talk about political prisoners, those who, from January 6th, do they say the same things privately? Or are most of them, do you believe, saying one thing publicly and another thing privately?

BUCK: I think it was a little bit of both there. I think some of them, in the back of their minds know Joe Biden won this election. "But I voted to decertify. So now, I need to figure this out." I think there's a little bit of that. COLLINS: Are you worried about what -- as you know, and your critics, on Capitol Hill, as well, you are often a lone voice, or maybe one of very few, who will criticize your own party, and their priorities, or lack of, as you say.

Are you worried about what the Republican Party, on Capitol Hill, looks like without a Congressman Ken Buck in it?

BUCK: No, I think there's a lot of young new congressmen that are here, that will take up that position.

And I honestly believe that as we get through this election cycle, the Republican Party is going to start to look different. And I hope that we have moved beyond the influences that are on the party, right now, that talk about, January 6 as an unguided tour, of the Capitol. I think that those things are in the past, hopefully in the past, and we'll see what the new Republican Party.

The new Republican Party, to me, Kaitlan, looks a lot like the old Republican Party, the Ronald Reagan Republican Party, the party that believed in the rule of law, the party that believes in a strong national defense.

COLLINS: When you say you think it'll look different after the election? Do you mean because either Republicans lose their House majority? Or Donald Trump, if he's the nominee loses? What do you mean?

BUCK: Well, I don't think Donald Trump will be our next president. And I don't think that the Republicans, in the House, will be bound to his ideology, and to his priorities. And I think that will free up a lot of people, to really get back to the roots of the Republican Party.

COLLINS: Senator Mitt Romney said something kind of similar, when he announced that he was not going to run for reelection. He said he thought right-wing populism would fail. We've heard that from other hopeful Republicans, for the last several years, including, when I covered the White House.

What happens to your party, if it doesn't, if those who are aligned so closely with Donald Trump, in election denialism and whatnot, succeed?

BUCK: I'm not sure if you're saying, if Donald Trump becomes the next President of the United States, what happens?

COLLINS: Sure. I mean, he's still -- even if he doesn't, he's still the undeniable leader of your party, at this time. Is he not?

BUCK: I think he is the leader of the party, at this time. I think if he does not win the presidency, then you will see people moving on. If he does win the presidency, you're going to see another four years, of much of the same of people, denying that election. I frankly think that some of his policies are stronger than President Biden's policies, in terms of how I see the world.

But I think integrity matters. And I think the American public really is going to demand integrity of the next President.

COLLINS: Do you think Republicans can hold on to their House majority, if their priorities are, as they are right now, which you say, aren't aligned with what your kind of Republicans believe they should be?

BUCK: I think the House and the Senate are both at play. I think, in the House, we've had some redistricting, in different States. And I think that's going to play a factor. I think who the nominee is, next year, is going to play a factor. So, I think there are a lot of things that are in play, right now.

We have two major conflicts going on in the world. We also have inflation. We have other issues that are going to be driving people, with pocketbook issues, to the polls. And it'll be interesting to see how they vote.

COLLINS: Congressman Ken Buck, who announced he is not running for reelection, today, thank you so much, for your time, tonight.

BUCK: Thank you.

COLLINS: Meanwhile, President Biden, in Minnesota, tonight, addressing the suffering, of Palestinian civilians, in a State, with a sizable Muslim population, amid criticism, about his response, to what's happening, in Gaza. And another election, around the corner, what it could mean for that. That's next.



COLLINS: Tonight, new remarks, from one of the most outspoken progressive Democrats, on Capitol Hill, on the Israeli airstrike, the second one, on the Jabalya refugee camp, in Gaza, today.

This is Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, saying that she believes it is a war crime. And she is urging President Biden, to push Israel, to honor human rights laws.


REP. ALEXANDRIA OCASIO-CORTEZ (D-NY): I believe bombing a refugee camp is a human rights violation. I believe it's a war crime.


COLLINS: All of this is coming, as President Biden is facing more pressure, to call for a ceasefire, in Gaza, something that the White House has not done. The President has not explicitly said that.

He did tell a protester, a rabbi, who was at a fundraiser, with him, tonight, in Minneapolis. And I'm quoting what President Biden told this protester, this. This is according to reporters, who were in the room. "I think we need a pause. A pause means give time to get the prisoners out," obviously referring to the hostages there. But that statement is unlikely to quell the outrage that we are hearing, from many Muslim Americans, who have threatened to withhold their support, from Biden's reelection. In fact, some Muslim leaders have announced, today, that they are done with Biden.





UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are not only not voting for him. But we will campaigning against him to lose the election 2024.


COLLINS: Muslim Americans overwhelmingly backed Biden's run, for the White House, in 2020. Losing their support could mean a lot. He won Minnesota, by single-digit percentages. Same with several swing States that also have sizable Muslim populations.

For more, on this, tonight, and the impact it could have, here now is Wa'el Alzayat, the CEO of Emgage, the largest U.S. group, I should note, focused on turning out Muslim American voters.

And Wa'el, I'm so glad that you're here, tonight.

I want to talk about just overall, this big picture of what this means. But on President Biden's comments, tonight, that he supports a pause, but as his administration has said no to a ceasefire. What did you make of that?

WA'EL ALZAYAT, CEO OF EMGAGE NATIONAL: Thank you so much for that.

I think, clearly the White House and the President is seeing and hearing the calls for a ceasefire, which are so much needed, given the mounting death toll, in Gaza, especially among children. Over 3,400 have been killed.

And so, therefore, the White House recognizes that this is really not sustainable. And I think you're starting to see now the President, perhaps others, start voicing statements, in that regards.

Secretary of State, Blinken, recently also supported a humanitarian pause, which the Administration was not support of, few weeks ago.

So I think you're seeing that public pressure working. But it may take some time for them to fully embrace the reality that is needed, which is an absolute ceasefire, in Gaza. COLLINS: Would you be OK, if there was just a humanitarian pause, and not a full-on ceasefire? Or do you believe that could turn into a ceasefire?

ALZAYAT: At the end of the day, people may call it different things. What's important, if there's a cessation of hostilities, that is suspending the bombing of civilians, of buildings, of homes, of schools, of hospitals, and killing children, right? If that can happen, I really don't care what you call it, as long it happens.

And U.N. agencies, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights said that the bombing of Jabalya, which has killed perhaps as many as 400 civilians, may be considered war crimes. This is serious matter, particularly because these are U.S. weapons at play here.

I'm a former U.S. official. I worked with the State Department, for 10 years. I worked on the Counter-ISIS campaign. I worked on the Syria conflict.

And really, what we're seeing, right now, are actions that perhaps Vladimir Putin, in Ukraine, or Assad, in Syria, would do. And not an ally of the United States, and certainly should not be conducted with U.S. material and diplomatic support.

COLLINS: I mean, that's -- I just want to note, given the comment that you just made that you were at the White House, that they had a meeting with Muslim American leaders, in recent days. I mean, given what you just said, and the gravity that you believe, of what has happened here, did you get a sense, from your view, that you believe President Biden understood that?

ALZAYAT: So, it really we went into the White House, with heavy hearts.

The community is devastated. It is being targeted, attacked here in the U.S. Anyone, who is daring to mention Palestinian rights, is being doxxed, is being intimidated, on campuses. We had a young Palestinian boy murdered in Illinois, a Palestinian American boy, 6-years-old.

And we went in there with a heavy heart, with a clear message, to the President, respectfully, the American Muslim community, the Arab community. And in fact, 80 percent of Democrats are supporting a ceasefire, in Gaza, 56 percent, of Republicans, according to recent polling.

We said, look, the American public does not need escalation in the Middle East. We do not need another war, in the Middle East. We need a ceasefire to allow for civilians to be treated, to be attended to. And also, really what we need is a more sustainable solution, to this conflict. There is no political answer -- there is no Military solution to this conflict. Only a political one.

COLLINS: As you know, obviously, President Biden is running for reelection. You heard others saying, if there is no ceasefire, they're not going to vote for him. If the race was tomorrow, it looks like he'd be running against former President Trump, who obviously has called for a Muslim ban.

Are you worried that if the Muslim American community doesn't support President Biden, sits on the sideline, that, it could help elect someone, who wants to have a Muslim ban in place?

ALZAYAT: I'm worried about a lot of things, right now, including that possibility.

Of course, Donald Trump was horrible, not just to the Muslim community. He was horrible to America, and American democracy. Which is why, in 2020, 85 percent of Muslim Americans, according to Emgage's data, voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. We're proud of that decision, because it was the right decision, at that moment.


But what we're seeing, right now, is not just greatly disappointing, but outright horrifying that the Administration that we helped turn out the vote for, is refusing to call for a ceasefire.

Now, we understand fully well, who Bibi Netanyahu is, and that Bibi Netanyahu, who is leading the most far-right government, in Israeli history, may not listen to the U.S. But at least we got to tell him. And we got to, in a way, stand for the values that this administration has campaigned on.

So, I am concerned. But, right now, the community is in great pain. They really don't want to think about the elections, despite some promises. I think they fully understand what's at stake.

And our organization will ensure that the Muslim community and allies do vote, which is very important. The question is for whom and why. And that remains to be determined.

COLLINS: It's very important perspective. And I'm really glad that you joined me, to share that with us, tonight.

ALZAYAT: Thank you so much.

COLLINS: So, thank you, Wa'el, for being here.

ALZAYAT: Thank you.

COLLINS: Ahead, indicted Republican congressman, George Santos, has just survived a push, from within his own party, to push him out of Congress. It's more complicated than that though, and it doesn't mean that it's over. We'll explain what happened, today, next.



COLLINS: House Republicans, voting to spare, embattled Republican congressman, and serial liar, George Santos.

A Republican-led resolution failed to expel him, from Congress, tonight. Of course, he is facing 23 federal charges, including wire fraud, and identity theft that he has pleaded not guilty, I should note. But that's what led to what you saw, happening, on the House floor, tonight.

Santos is still facing a House Ethics investigation. They have promised an update, coming, in the next two weeks or so. And House Republicans are waiting to see what happens there.

We'll keep you updated.

Thank you so much, for joining us.

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