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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Tonight: Flares, Rockets, Explosions As Gaza Bombarded; House Passes Israel Aid Bill, Setting Up Senate Showdown; NY Times: Trump Allies Searching For More Aggressive Lawyers To Fill Key Positions If Trump Wins 2024 Election. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 02, 2023 - 21:00   ET




ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: For information on how to help the humanitarian efforts, in Israel and Gaza, CNN's Impact Your World has gathered a list of vetted organizations, on the ground, responding to the crisis. You can go to You can also text the word, RELIEF, to the number, 707070.

That's it for us. The news continues. THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS starts now.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Good evening. This is THE SOURCE. And I'm Kaitlan Collins.

An extraordinary new Israeli offensive is underway, in the skies of Gaza, tonight. Much of it is playing out, right before our very eyes.


COLLINS: CNN cameras captured these images, that you're seeing here, scenes of flares, raining down, over the night sky, in Gaza. There appears to be a smokescreen that is covering the ground, potentially suggesting the possible movement of troops, in that area. The Israeli Military says that it has completely surrounded Gaza City, tonight.

All of this is coming as Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, appeared with Israeli troops, earlier today, saying, and I'm quoting him now, "Nothing will stop us."

That despite the fact that Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, is flying over to Israel, right now, in part, to press for a pause, at least a brief one, in the fighting, so that hostages can get out, and aid can potentially get in.

All of this is coming as Hamas is still firing on Israel, tonight. They have been doing so, repeatedly, since those October 7th attacks. Those rockets are being intercepted, I should note, by the Iron Dome.

And given that, I want to get straight to CNN's Ed Lavandera, who is live, in Tel Aviv, Israel. Ed, what are you hearing, tonight, about this real uptick in activity that we are seeing, over the skies of Gaza, tonight?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it was intense, for several hours, just a few hours ago, there, in the northeastern part of Gaza, not far from where our colleague, Nic Robertson, has been reporting, throughout the afternoon and evening. But this is some of the most intense firefighting, we have seen, over the last couple of days.

But we know that the ground operation, inside of Gaza, has intensified, quite a bit, throughout the day. Israeli officials, saying today that they have surrounded Gaza City. They say that their intent, right now, is to dismantle the Hamas Military operation, there, in Gaza.

And of course, all of this complicated by the very fact that Hamas Military runs out of these elaborate tunnel systems that stretch for dozens of miles, all around northern Gaza, in particular. And that complicates things, especially because these tunnels are built under civilian populations. And that's why Israel has come under a great deal of criticism, because of the civilian casualties, in this operation.

But that has continued to intensify. You saw the firefight erupting there, just a few hours ago, in northeastern Gaza. The objective and exactly what was accomplished here, this evening, is not clear, at this point. Perhaps, that will change, tomorrow, as we learn more about exactly what the Israeli operation was about, what they had hoped to achieve there.

But we have not real clear details, on exactly what was achieved there, tonight. But dramatic images and obviously a very intense firefight that we saw unfold, for quite some time, tonight.

COLLINS: Yes, it's much more intense than what we've seen any of the days, over the last several weeks.

But given what we saw there, and Israeli forces now surrounding Gaza City, Ed, is there a sense of how much the ground invasion is ramping up, given that pressure that Israel is clearly facing, its growing pressure too, for at least some kind of pause, in the fighting?

LAVANDERA: Well, as calls from around the world are calling on Israel, to either pause, or call for a ceasefire? It's clear from Israeli officials, tonight, that that is not -- doesn't appear that that's something that's going to happen.

Israeli officials saying, that they are trying to inflict maximum pressure, on the Hamas Military operation. And as we mentioned, they say they have the Gaza City surrounded. And that will change things dramatically. The President, Netanyahu, as you mentioned there, off the top, saying today that "Nothing will stop us."

So, we're not getting any clear indication that Israeli forces are intent of slowing down their operation, into Gaza, anytime soon, especially here in the days ahead.

COLLINS: Yes. Ed Lavandera, in Tel Aviv, thank you.

For analysis on what is unfolding, what this could be, joining me, tonight, is Lieutenant General Mark Schwartz, a retired Special Ops Commander, who served as the U.S. Security Coordinator for Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He's also a Senior Fellow at the RAND Corporation, I should note; along with CNN Military Analyst, retired Army Major General, Spider Marks, is also here.

So glad to have both of you.


General Schwartz, let me start with you, because, of course, as we are seeing this intense activity, not long after Israel did confirm that they had encircled this city, what's your read on what Israel is doing, tonight?

LT. GEN. MARK SCHWARTZ (RET.), FORMER SECURITY COORDINATOR FOR ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY, U.S. ARMY SPECIAL FORCES (RET.), SENIOR FELLOW, RAND CORPORATION: Well, I think, Nic, earlier, characterized it very well, and as you just did, before Spider and I came on.

So the use of the flares, and the significant smoke, you saw, combined with the aerial interdiction that was going on? Typically, that happens when ground forces are reinforcing, or repositioning forces. So, they want to use the smoke, to conceal their movements, obviously. And then, use the flares, primarily, to make sure that the smoke that they're putting down and, as well as the other fires that they were putting down, are effective.

So, I think, it's correct that you're probably going to see, in the next 24 hours, when the sun comes up here that a significant reinforcement, of Israeli ground forces, did occur, over, this past evening, as well as they're continuing to cordon off, as was reported, Gaza City. That's my read of what's taken place, the last 12 to 18 hours today.

COLLINS: And given that, General Marks, if that's what Israel is doing here, kind of trying to create this smokescreen, on the ground, so they can move those forces, what does that signal to you, about what's next, for this ground operation, as Israel's referring to it? They won't call it a ground invasion. But, I mean, we can see what's happening on the ground.


And as Mark has described, when the smoke clears, tomorrow, if you flew a drone, on top of Gaza City, you would see that there would be strong points, around the city, that create this outer cordon, around the city. And then, you would see operations taking place, within an inner cordon. Outer cordon, to protect what's taking place inside. So, you've got ingress and egress that you want to try to control, because you realize that the urban operation, which has to concentrate, on trying to recover hostages? And that requires incredible, very deliberate, very patient operations, because of the tunnel network that's been described by everyone, which is really internecine, it's got the hostages probably moving around in there, under the control of Hamas.

And you have very precise operations, by the Israelis, to go after political and Military leadership, of Hamas, to try to kill or capture. Mostly, this is going to be a kill mission. So, realizing that this is urban terrain, this will suck up, man (ph). You need to clear areas, and then you have to hold those areas, or Hamas will simply roll back in.

So, you're going to see very deliberate operations, on the part of the Israelis. And it's going to be an acknowledgement, on their part, that they're going to be there. This isn't a quick operation in, and a quick operation out. They will have to clear, and they're going to have to hold, until they're satisfied that their objective has been met.

COLLINS: Well, given that description, General Schwartz, I mean, you have deep expertise, in this area. And obviously, the sense of what is awaiting these Israeli forces, in Gaza City, seems to be quite brutal, to say the least, this kind of urban warfare.

Do you believe that the Israeli forces, these that are going in, certainly some of them, but is the vast majority prepared for what they're going to be facing? I mean, they're going to have to differentiate between civilians, Hamas fighters. We know that they use civilians as shields. What's that going to look like for them?

SCHWARTZ: Yes, Kaitlan, you're correct. The Israelis have some specialized forces, and special operations forces, specialized forces that are dealing, in underground warfare. And their special operations forces, and some of their infantry, have done extensive training, in urban combat operations.

But as Spider rightfully points out, these types of operations, and the size of Gaza City that has to be deliberately cleared, very methodically, is going to absorb a significant amount of ground force, I think, in the thousands.

And I know, from experience, that the majority of Israeli Defense Forces are not trained, to the degree, that you would want to be, going into a fight like this, which will also, I think, set the tempo for the operations.

And certainly, as I would also highlight, split-second decisions are going to be made, by very young soldiers, as they're clearing these rooms, and being caught under fire. And so, as a result, the Palestinian civilians that have not been able to leave, there's a likelihood that we're going to have, killed and wounded as a result of that.

COLLINS: Yes, and we know there's still a lot of them, who didn't evacuate, who weren't able to go.

But given that, given the concerns, we're hearing so much outrage, that's growing, in the international community, about that civilian death toll.


And General Marks, we're seeing Secretary Blinken, on his way, to Israel, right now, to meet with the Prime Minister. Part of what he said, about what this trip is going to look like, here's how he described it, before taking off.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: We've seen, in recent days, Palestinian civilians continuing to bear the brunt of this action. And it's important that the United States is committed to making sure everything possible is done to protect civilians.


COLLINS: So, they're pushing for, what they're calling a humanitarian pause, not an all-out ceasefire, because they say that would give Hamas time to regroup. A pause. I mean, is there a real distinction there, General Marks?

MARKS: Well, I would tell the Secretary, and he understands this. But the first conversation that we need to have is with Hamas, and say, "Stop holding the Palestinians hostage. Stop using them as human shields."

But this is not a video game. And the narrative increasingly becomes that this becomes an antiseptic type of an engagement, where we can delineate very precisely civilians, and we go after Hamas.

This is an incredible, messy battlefield that needs to be able to have humanitarian assistance come in, and be used, for the purpose, of taking care of the Palestinians.

But, at the same time, there is no tactically feasible way, for the IDF to stop what they are doing, right now, and take a pause. They become targets. They give up the advantage that they've achieved, on the ground. And they're not about to do that.

So, both can occur. Both, humanitarian assistance can occur, and Military operations can occur simultaneously. That's what needs to have to happen. But we've got to get away from this notion that it can be a very clean, very neatly-sliced type of a battlefield. That's not possible.

COLLINS: General Spider Marks, General Mark Schwartz, thank you both. I'm sure we'll be speaking to you both, a lot, over the coming days. I appreciate your time.

MARKS: Thank you, Kaitlan.

SCHWARTZ: Thank you.

COLLINS: A member of Israel's government is going to join us here, next, with our questions.

Of course, President Biden, and his top aides, they have been warning Israel about that growing outcry, over the suffering that is happening in Gaza.

Also tonight, the U.S. promised help for Israel. But the House just passed a funding bill that's facing a veto threat, from President Biden, and a no-thanks, from the Senate. So, what now?



COLLINS: We're keeping a close eye, on the skies, over Gaza, tonight, following that dramatic intensification of bombardment, by the Israel Defense Forces.

This is all playing out, as Secretary of State, Blinken, is on his way, to Israel, right now. When he was pressed on whether or not he believes Israel is showing restraint, when it comes to this offensive, he reiterated that Israel has a right to defend itself, and also, and I'm quoting Blinken now, the "responsibility to do everything possible to protect civilians."

Airstrikes, on United Nations refugee camps, like Jabalya, have prompted concerns, about the war crimes, from the United Nations. Israel says that Hamas is using those places, and those civilians, as human shields, covering its terrorist bunkers and tunnels that it's using to wage this war.

I want to bring in former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, who is also an influential member of parliament, for the Likud Party, led by Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.

Ambassador, thank you, for being here, tonight.

Can you tell us what is happening, in Gaza, tonight? Are we going to wake up tomorrow, and see that Israeli ground forces have reinforced themselves inside Gaza?


Our goals are still the same goals. To eradicate Hamas, and to bring back home the hostages. It's almost a month, when we have 30 babies, in the hands of Hamas, and many families, in the hands of Hamas. So, we continue.

We still try to convince the population to move south. And I think mostly -- 90 percent of the civilian population left northern Gaza.

So, we are fighting with Hamas. But actually, it's very difficult to fight with them, because they are cowards. When they had to kill babies and women, in Israel, they fought with them. But today, when we are coming in, they're hiding in the tunnels, and they are waiting for our troops. So, it's going to take time, until we find them, and kill them.

COLLINS: So but why now? Why are we seeing such an intense bombardment play out over the skies of Gaza?

DANON: So basically, that's part of the ground operation. You see the air force, working together with the ground forces moving very slowly, very carefully. When we locate, when we have the Intel, about the location of a Hamas headquarter, we attack. And it's, we paid a heavy price. We had casualties, unfortunately. But we are committed to go all the way, until we finish the job.

COLLINS: Was this attacking a Hamas headquarters, tonight? Is that what that activity was?

DANON: So basically, either we attack Hamas headquarters, and that's what we did in the last hours. And mainly when we know about those places, when you see the explosives, usually it's mean that there was something there, a storage of explosives, or we found like a place, where they were hiding the rockets. That's why you see big explosives.

COLLINS: OK. So, you're attacking Hamas targets?

DANON: Absolutely. Absolutely.


DANON: And we have thousands of targets, in Gaza. Gaza became a hub for terror. They took all the weapons, and funds, they could achieve. And today, what we find there unfortunately, they build a terrorist state in Gaza.

COLLINS: Secretary Blinken is on his way, to you, right now, to Israel, to meet with the Prime Minister. He wants to call for a pause, in the fighting. They would like for hostages to be able to get out, for aid to be able to get in.

Is Israel open to having another pause?

DANON: So, I don't get it. Why would you need to speak about a pause or a ceasefire? We had one. Until October 7th, we had a ceasefire with Hamas. And they broke it. They came in, massacred 1,400 Israelis. So now, it's the time that we will eliminate them.


So, if there will be a pause, in order to release hostages? We can discuss that. But to have a ceasefire, what will happen then? They will regroup. They will be ready to attack us again. It will be a mistake. And we're going to pay a heavy price. Every hour, you give them to regroup, it means more casualties to our troops.

COLLINS: OK. But you do -- you are saying that Israel is open to a temporary pause. How many hostages would Hamas need to be prepared to release, in order for Israel, to agree to a temporary pause? Is there a number?

DANON: No. We are not conducting negotiations there, like that with them. But we know that they are trying to play with us. If they will release hostages, we will allow it to happen, and we will make sure it will happen safely, for both sides.

But we will not let them maneuver the war with the hostages. We are committed to achieve both goals, to defeat them and release the hostages. It's complicated. It creates a lot of dilemmas to our troops. But I am confident we can achieve it.

COLLINS: Secretary Blinken also made clear that what he is concerned about is what happens, after Israel is done, with this operation, in Gaza.

When he arrives there, in just a matter of hours, does Israel have a plan, now, for what comes next?

DANON: First, I think it's very smart to start the discussion about the day after, who will be running Gaza. We know that Hamas will not be there. They'll either surrender or will die. And I think it's a legitimate debate. And I think we should involve regional players about the day after.

And we are open to listen to his ideas, to discuss it. We want to live peacefully, here. We have no intention to stay in Gaza. We don't want to run the lives of the Palestinians, there. So, I think, it's an important discussion. And I think it should involve not only Israel, but also other countries in the region.

COLLINS: OK. So, what I'm hearing is that there's not a plan yet, but you are prepared to start discussing one. Is that right, Ambassador?

DANON: That is correct. We are talking about it. We have internal discussions.

And I think the Secretary's visit is important, because it will require other players to be involved. And I think he's capable of putting everything together. Even though now, we are focused on the Military action, but at the same time, we are open to discuss it with our partners.

COLLINS: OK. Ambassador Danny Danon, thank you for staying up. I know it's very late, there. Appreciate your time, tonight.

DANON: Thank you very much, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: Billions of dollars, in aid for Israel, was just pushed through, on Capitol Hill, by the Republican-led House, but only for Israel. Not any money for Ukraine. This is setting up a major clash, with both the Senate and the White House.

Two congressmen, who voted to pass that bill, from different sides of the aisle, are here, next. [21:25:00]


COLLINS: The House of Representatives passed $14.3 billion, in emergency aid, for Israel, tonight, with the newly elected House Speaker, tying that aid, to cuts in other government spending.

But that bill is not going anywhere, after Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer, said that they will not be taking it up in the Senate, where there is a bipartisan support that is building, for combining assistance, to Israel, with Ukraine.

I'm joined tonight by Republican congressman, Mike Lawler, and Democratic congressman, Jared Moskowitz, both of whom voted for that bill, tonight.

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

Congressman Lawler, let me start with you. Because a standalone bill, sending aid to Israel, with no spending cuts, probably would have passed. Why didn't Republicans do that?

REP. MIKE LAWLER (R-NY): Look, the Speaker made a determination, obviously, to advance aid to Israel, $14.3 billion. But we need to pay for it.

I know a lot of my Democratic colleagues are saying this is about conditioning aid, for Israel, for the first time. It's not conditioning it. We're going to support Israel. We're going to pass legislation that provides Israel with all the support that they need, financially and militarily. But we have to pay for it.

We're dealing with a existential crisis, in this country, approaching $34 trillion in debt. Only in the United States Congress would showing how you're going to pay for this be a problem.

COLLINS: But it does add to the deficit, does it not? If this had passed, as is, with the IRS spending cuts, does that not add to the deficit, Congressman Lawler?

LAWLER: With all due respect, the CBO scoring has often been wrong. And the reality is that cutting spending is not going to add to the deficit here.

We have a responsibility to pass aid to Israel. The Speaker put that forth, on the floor, today. It garnered bipartisan support. Obviously, the Senate has their idea of what they're going to do. And we're going to negotiate and go from there.

But I don't really, frankly, understand all the hubbub about this. At the end of the day, we're still going to have to pay for this, one way or the other, whether it's included as a standalone bill, or if we show the pay-for, in the bill.

COLLINS: Yes. Well I -- LAWLER: So, we're going to have to get there somehow.

COLLINS: I should note, everyone always criticizes the CBO, when they say something that they don't like. Both parties do.

LAWLER: Well with all due --

COLLINS: So, Congressman Moskowitz?

LAWLER: With all due respect, Kaitlan, the CBO has continually revised their estimates, time and again. So, it's not a function of criticizing it, when you don't like it.

COLLINS: But it's a pretty --

LAWLER: It's a reality of the CBO.

COLLINS: It's a pretty big number they would add to the deficit. It's not like it's within the margin of error.

But Congressman Moskowitz, you are obviously a Democrat. Democratic leaders did not want you to vote for this bill. But you did anyway, despite having called it a political trap. Tell me why.

REP. JARED MOSKOWITZ (D-FL): Well, first of all, it was a political trap. And you don't have to ask me. You can just ask the NRCC, who the very day, they came out with this bill, posted, Democrats are going to have to choose between Israel and the IRS. And so, that's why I was calling that out.

I don't think that the Speaker should have done this. I mean, this is the Speaker's first full week. He's talked about trying to bring the House together.


We're having these international issues. Obviously, this is a national security issue. Israel's our number one ally.

There was no reason to condition aid. There was no reason to make this political. There was no reason to divide the House. It could have been a real unifying moment. But instead, he chose the other way.

I voted for it because my grandmother's part of the Kindertransport, out of Germany, as a child. She told me about these things that are happening in the world, right now. And it sounded like something that happened a long time ago.

You go to the Holocaust Museum. You see these pictures. You hear these stories. You see people tattooed with numbers on their arms, and you think, "This could never happen."

And we saw the largest amount of Jews killed, in a single day, on October 7th. And since then, we have seen anti-Semitism, around the world, Jews -- "Gas the Jews," "Kill the Jews," "Exterminate the Jews," in protests around, around this country and cities, and other cities around the world. On university campuses, Jews can't even walk to class without getting accosted.

And so, for me, this was a personal vote. It's unfortunate that they made it political. I'm happy that Chuck Schumer will not be taking this bill up.

As you pointed out, and I know sometimes that we like to politicize the CBO around here. But obviously, the CBO said, it won't offset the cost of this.

Listen, I'm for spending less, the American family, spending less. I'm happy for government to spend less. We also should have tax parity in this country. I'm happy the Speaker is going to do a budget commission. But this wasn't the time to do that. Not on Israel, not in their time of need.

COLLINS: Congressman Lawler, what's your response to that?

LAWLER: Look, I respect my colleague, from Florida. Obviously, we have a bill, tomorrow, that we have worked on together, the SHIP Act, which will increase secondary sanctions, on Iranian petroleum. So, we'll agree to disagree on this, insofar as the spending offsets.

The reality is, the White House has asked for over $100 billion, in supplemental aid. It's going to have to be paid for. So, whether it's included in the bill, or figured out down the road, the reality is it has to be paid for. No municipality or state in America could just put a bill forward without showing how you're going to pay for it.

What the Speaker is saying is, look, we have nearly $34 trillion, in debt, in this country. This administration has spent over $5 trillion in new money, over the last two years. It's unsustainable. It is the reason that we had record inflation. We have to rein in spending. That's why we're going through the appropriations process.

We support aid to Israel. It is bipartisan. There is broad support for it.


LAWLER: We can disagree on how we're going to pay for it. The reality is we have to pay for it. And I think anybody acting as though, showing that you need to pay for it in a bill is somehow a major crisis, I think, just highlights the problem in Washington, where people think you don't need to pay for things. You can just spend unlimited.

COLLINS: Yes. Well --

MOSKOWITZ: Well, Kaitlan, if I may? Let me add some to that though, and.

COLLINS: Go ahead.

MOSKOWITZ: And listen, the Congressman and I agree a lot more than we disagree. We have a number of bills we're working on together.

But one of the precedents here that the Speaker is starting that I think is extremely dangerous -- is dangerous.

And look, we do need to learn how to pay for things around here. I don't disagree with my colleague on that.

But the next time there's a hurricane, in Florida, and we needed a supplemental? The next time there's Superstorm Sandy, in New York, New Jersey? The next time there's Hurricane Harvey in Texas? The next time there's an earthquake or fire in California? The next time there's a fire in Hawaii? The next time there's something in Guam? The next time there's something in the Virgin Islands or in Puerto Rico? Are we going to have to demand at that point that we do pay-fors, on emergency supplementals, in community times of need?

That's the real question, and that's the real concern that many of my colleagues and myself share.

COLLINS: Yes. And, of course, these pay-fors, I should note, they're not going to happen. I mean, they got passed in the House today. But it's not actually going to go anywhere, because the Senate is not taking it up. The White House has said they would veto it. But I understand the point of principle.

LAWLER: Well, with all due --

COLLINS: But I do want to talk about --

LAWLER: With all due respect, Kaitlan, the Senate Majority Leader has said that before, and the White House has said that before. And yet, they passed the D.C. crime bill that we put forth in the House after their comments about that.

COLLINS: But Democrats had overwhelmingly started to support that.

LAWLER: So, it does --

COLLINS: But let's talk about why you're both here, tonight.

LAWLER: It does happen quite often every now and then (ph).

COLLINS: Because you don't often see a Republican and a Democrat standing side by side, doing an interview. The two of you have introduced this bipartisan legislation.

And Congressman Lawler, as you mentioned, it imposes new sanctions, targeting Iranian oil imports.

How confident are you, Congressman Moskowitz, that this is actually going, if it passes the House, that it actually is going to be -- to become law?

MOSKOWITZ: Well, listen, I think you're going to see bi -- extreme bipartisan support, tomorrow, on this piece of legislation.

It has almost 90 Democrats that have co-sponsored this. I expect an overwhelming majority of Republicans to vote for it as well. So, it's going to get the two-thirds, it needs, to pass on suspension. And so, I think the Senate should take this up.

I think we need to send a strong message to Iran, and the world, that we're not going to tolerate the world's largest sponsor of terror, getting around current sanctions, making monies, by selling their oil to China, and then funding Hezbollah, and Hamas, and other destabilizing forces, around the world.


There is no doubt, right now, that Hamas, Russia, China, North Korea, are all talking to each other. And so, this is extremely important. We have to cut off all sorts of financing. And this is one way to do that.

COLLINS: Congressman Lawler, do you think -- what's your message to the Senate, on getting this done?

LAWLER: Look, China is the biggest purchaser, of Iranian petroleum. And Iranian petroleum sales are up 59 percent, over the last three years. They are using these funds, to fund terrorism, to fund Hamas, to fund Hezbollah, to fund other terrorist organizations, with the sole purpose of wiping Israel, off the face of the earth.

We need to impose stricter sanctions, on the buyers of Iranian petroleum, starting with China. These secondary sanctions are critically important.

And so, I think, it is time, for Congress, to act, to make it very clear, to China, to Russia, to Iran, that we will not tolerate, their malign influence, in the world and the conduct that they have engaged in, that has undermined and destabilized the Free World, and especially, with the most recent terrorist attacks, on the State of Israel, and the attempt to annihilate the Jewish people.

We will not tolerate it. We will not stand for it. And that's why it's imperative that Congress passed the SHIP Act, and the Biden administration sign it into law.

COLLINS: Congressman Mike Lawler, Congressman Jared Moskowitz, thank you both, for joining, tonight.

LAWLER: Thank you.

MOSKOWITZ: Thank you.

COLLINS: Up next, both of Donald Trump's adult sons were on stand -- on the stand, today, I should say, at a trial centering around fraud that threatens his entire empire. At first, Eric Trump claimed that he had nothing to do with documents, at the heart of the case. But then, he was shown emails, by prosecutors, suggesting otherwise.

Everything that happened, that's next.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) COLLINS: Moments ago, a court just denied Ivanka Trump's latest request, to avoid testifying, in the Trump Organization's civil fraud trial that is happening here, in New York.

This on the same day that Donald Trump's two adult sons, sat for hours, inside of a courtroom. Both Donald Trump Jr. and Eric Trump, as you can see here, took the stand. They are both accused, along with their father, of falsely inflating the value of company properties.

And while the former President has been on a social media brunch (ph), not necessarily new, claiming among other things, that his adult children are being persecuted. It is important to remember who it was, of course, that made a point of putting them in charge of the company, just days before he was inaugurated.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: My two sons, who are right here, Don, and Eric, are going to be running the company. They are going to be running it in a very professional manner.


COLLINS: I'm joined now by Maggie Haberman, CNN Political Analyst, and Senior Political Correspondent, for The New York Times.

We'll talk about the Ivanka development, in a moment.

But I mean, just that moment there, I was thinking about it, all day today, as I was seeing Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. in court. I mean, that was almost seven years ago, which is kind of hard to believe.


COLLINS: And as they are on the stand, talking about their roles, can you just walk everyone through, what their roles? I mean, their whole career has kind of been defined by the Trump Organization.

HABERMAN: Yes. And before Trump had put them in charge, he was grooming his children, including Ivanka Trump, to take over this company. That had been going on for several years. They were trustees of the company. That was the official title. I think they had some kind of Vice Presidential title, as well prior to that, and I think after that. But basically, they were running the company.

I will say, in reality, according to everyone I have ever spoken with, Don Jr. was far less involved in the day-to-day, than his brother, Eric. Eric really became the person, who was running the company. And I think, Kaitlan, that was reflected in part, in how much more combative Eric Trump's testimony was, in court, today. Don Jr.'s was relatively less so.

COLLINS: Yes. I mean, it got increasingly combative, over emails, even dating back to 2010, where he was saying, "I wasn't involved in that." And then she, the Attorney General, says that, essentially, that they provided these false valuations, of even the family's estate. I mean, she noted at one point that Donald Trump Jr. had personally certified the financial statements.

But they were saying, "Well, I was just doing this. It was based on the valuations of others, not necessarily me."

HABERMAN: Right. And there was an effort, to distance themselves, from things that they signed, or from decisions that were made. And we have seen that over and over.

And that's also something we've seen Donald Trump do, about his own company, something we saw him do, in his presidency, "I was acting on advice of whomever." I suspect you will see that in his upcoming trial on charges of trying to overturn the election results, in 2020, advice of counsel. It is often that someone else was making these decisions.

I don't think for the purpose of the outcome of this trial, that any of this testimony matters, significantly, because the outcome is fairly predetermined.


HABERMAN: Judge Engoron has already issued a partial summary judgment, suggests that Trump -- Trump Sr. is going to face some problems, in trying to keep his company together.

But in terms of just having to lay out the guts of their company, I think that this was uncomfortable for both sons. They both had some stumbles. At the end of the day, I don't think either one of either -- neither one had an earth-shattering moment, on the stand.

COLLINS: Yes. And just before we came on air tonight, we got this news, that at least part of the appeal that Ivanka Trump's attorneys, filed today, trying to pause the whole trial, while they figure out whether or not she has to testify, has been denied. Right now, she's still set to testify to next week.

She's been fighting it in part saying that it would be undue hardship, because it's Wednesday. It's in the middle of a school week that she'd have to come to New York to do that. What's your sense of why she is fighting, testifying?

HABERMAN: I think there are a couple of reasons. Among them that I think that just the whole Trump ethos is "Fight, fight, fight. Delay, delay, delay."

Don't forget that Ivanka Trump's testimony, before the House Select Committee, that was investigating January 6th, was played at a public hearing, I think more than one. It infuriated former President Trump. I think this creates the potential for some moments that would be, again, very uncomfortable for Ivanka Trump.

[21:45:00] Now, I think lots of parents have children. She has three children. I think lots of parents with three children still are forced to go to court, and don't end up, just in various cases, describe it as an undue hardship, especially somebody with the means that she has. But I think that it is not surprising to see her trying to delay.

COLLINS: And your latest reporting, all of this is fits into this bigger picture, of -- and I should note, Donald Trump is also going to be on the stand -- this bigger picture of a second Trump term, and what that's going to look like. And I do think that's not something that's talked about enough.

HABERMAN: I agree.

COLLINS: Because, right now, it's so clear that Trump is going to be the nominee. We don't know for sure. Of course, anything could happen. But right now, if it was tomorrow, he would be.

And the idea of him potentially having another term, he would kind of just be unrestrained. What's your reporting on what that would look like?

HABERMAN: Yes. I mean, so look, you are correct, that elections aren't over until they're over. But, at the moment, he has an overwhelming lead, in the national polling. And even in Iowa, he is well ahead. And in all the early States, he's well ahead.

And so, there's reason to look at what a second administration would look like. My colleagues, Jonathan Swan, and Charlie Savage, and I have been trying to do just that.

And we focus, this week, on a piece about efforts, by two key Trump allies, Stephen Miller and Johnny McEntee. Stephen Miller, his policy adviser, I think, probably very known to this audience; Johnny McEntee, less so. He took over to the personnel office, in 2020, with a mandate to purge the government of people, who were seen as opposed to Trump, or trying to stop his agenda.

They are trying to find lawyers, who could staff a second Trump administration, lawyers who would fill agencies, not just White House Counsel. Lawyers who would find ways to get him to, "Yes," on the kinds of policies that he wants to enact. And he has actually laid out several of them, on his campaign website, in some detail. It's a pretty radical agenda.

COLLINS: And it would be so notable, because lawyers defined the first four years of Trump, to a degree.

HABERMAN: Correct.

COLLINS: Because they were kind of the seat belts, if you want to put it that way.

HABERMAN: The guardrails phrase gets used a lot. Look, lawyers, very conservative lawyers, many of them.

COLLINS: Incredibly conservative.

HABERMAN: Correct, were telling -- were saying "No," on things that Trump wanted to push through, particularly on matters related to immigration. I mean, that's always going to be a big driver with Trump.

And so, you are now seeing a push, to try to get lawyers, who will not raise those kinds of objections, who will try to find ways that he can accomplish what he wants. And we'll see what that looks like, if he becomes President, again.

COLLINS: Maggie Haberman, great reporting, as always, thank you.

HABERMAN: Thank you.

COLLINS: We'll be back in a moment. There is breaking news, tonight, on another major verdict, happening here, in a courtroom, in New York. That's next.



COLLINS: Tonight, a verdict, for the fallen Crypto King, Sam Bankman- Fried. The 31-year-old Founder of FTX has now been found guilty, on all seven counts of fraud, and conspiracy, now convicted of stealing billions of dollars, from his own cryptocurrency customers, one of the biggest white-collar verdicts that we have seen, since Bernie Madoff was sent to prison.

More now with CNN National Correspondent, Jason Carroll.

Jason, how long did the jury deliberate, before for -- before coming to this guilty verdict, tonight?

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kaitlan, deliberated for just about four hours. And, as you say, convicted on all seven counts, including wire fraud, securities fraud, commodities fraud.

And I have to say, anyone, who was watching this trial, over the past month or so, really not surprised by this outcome, given the overwhelming amount of evidence, that prosecutors presented, throughout the course of this trial, including financial documents, which showed fake balance sheets, showing that they tried to show that they had more money, than they actually did.

Incriminating conversations between Bankman-Fried, and some of his former executives, and testimony from some of his former executives, who say he very well knew that he was stealing, from his customers, and using that money for whatever else that he wanted.

Throughout this trial, Kaitlan, prosecutors really portrayed this man, as someone, who was obsessed with greed, someone who was overly ambitious, a man who thought he could be President, one day.

And what they say basically happen is that he secretly used FTX, this cryptocurrency exchange, that he founded, secretly used customers' money for whatever he wanted. It could have been to contribute to a political campaign, to buy property, or as they also said, to really prop up Alameda Research, this trading business, that he had also founded, which was struggling financially.

One of the star witnesses that court-watchers were -- that saw, during the course of this trial, his ex-girlfriend, Caroline Ellison. She's a former CEO, from Alameda Research. And she said that he very well knew that they were stealing money, from customers, funneling it to other places that they lied to investors. She said that they lied to auditors.

And, of course, the man testified himself. Bankman-Fried testified, and really tried to present himself, his own narrative, showing that he was someone, who was trying to make as much money as possible, to try to give as much money away, to good causes.

But he really didn't do himself any favors, because upon, on cross- examination, when he was asked, over and over, about specific details, about his business, he said, "I can't recall," or "I can't remember." He said that more than 100 times. Jurors just simply didn't buy it, Kaitlan.

And, at the end of the day, what you're looking at here, $8 billion gone, lost. That's money that people had for investment, money that people were going to use for their savings, all of that money gone, prosecutors say --


CARROLL: -- because of this man's greed.

Just want to point out that the U.S. Attorney came outside court, just tonight, and said the following about this. They said the government has "no patience" for fraud and corruption.

He will be sentenced on March 28th.


COLLINS: And Jason, just before you go, I mean, given he was at the top, I mean, he was the pinnacle of cryptocurrency?


COLLINS: What was his reaction, in court, today, when they read that guilty verdict?

CARROLL: Well, he was clearly nervous. Before earlier, during the evening, when he was standing in front of the court, he was tapping his foot.


And a number of court observers, we -- again, no surprise here, given the overwhelming amount of evidence that was presented here, and everyone was wondering what could possibly be the defense here. And again, at one point, the defense sense, he told jurors, "If a mistake was made, it doesn't mean it's a crime." It was clear he was nervous.

Given the amount of time, that jurors had, to make their decision, just four hours, they, in all likelihood knew what the outcome was going to be.


COLLINS: Quite a downfall.

Jason Carroll, thank you for that report.

In this time of global crisis, one senator's blockade of crucial Military promotions is not led up. He has made clear today that's still the case. But now, members of Senator Tommy Tuberville's own party are clashing with him. More on that, next.


COLLINS: Boiling point against one of their own colleagues, Republican senators, mad at Alabama senator, Tommy Tuberville, and his defiant blockade that has been going on, for months now, of nearly 400 Military promotions, because he says he's doing that, in protest of the Pentagon's policy, on reproductive rights.



SEN. DAN SULLIVAN (R-AK): These were the people, who were kicking in doors in Fallujah, shooting terrorists in the face.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): We need this guy, like yesterday.

We want this guy. Coach, we need this guy. We're in a fight. We need the best people on the field.

SEN. TODD YOUNG (R-IN): Undermine the safety and security of the American people during this perilous time, just doesn't make any sense to me.


COLLINS: Those football metaphors do not appear to have worked.

What we do know is three new confirmations were pushed through, today. That means, for the first time, since July, the Joint Chiefs, do have a full slate, of Senate-confirmed officers. That includes Lisa Franchetti, now the first woman, to ever serve, on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

But Tuberville, tonight, saying that he is standing by, this blockade, which means they'll have to continue to do them, one by one by one. We'll keep an eye on that.

Thank you so much, for joining us.

"CNN NEWSNIGHT" with Abby Phillip starts, right now.