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The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Judge Overseeing Trump Fraud Trial Expands Gag Order; GOP Rep. Santos: "Absolutely" Running In 2024 Even If Expelled From Congress & Despite Federal Charges; Biden Calls For "Responsible" Gun Control Measures. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 03, 2023 - 21:00   ET





A New York judge, expanding a gag order, to include Donald Trump's attorneys, now warning them to stop talking about court staff, as a quote, "fired up" former President is set to take the stand, on Monday.

Plus, Israel rejecting new U.S. calls, for a humanitarian pause, in Gaza, then taking responsibility, for a deadly strike, outside the largest hospital there.

And CNN, going one-on-one, with indicted congressman, George Santos. His response, after surviving a second attempt, to expel him from Congress.

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

Tonight, there is high drama, in a New York courtroom, just before Donald Trump is set to take the stand, on Monday. The former President is preparing to testify, before the judge, who has already found him liable, for fraud, in the civil trial that is threatening his entire empire and, really, his whole identity.

Trump is quote, "Fired up," ahead of that testimony. That's according to his son, Eric Trump, who I should note also just wrapped up his own testimony, after his brother, Donald Trump Jr., was also forced to testify, this week.

Technically, this will be Trump's second time, going on the stand, here in New York. And it's going to be a highly anticipated moment. There are a lot of legal issues, surrounding Trump. Of course, it's easy to get them all confused.

But remember that this is the same judge, who told Trump, that he was not quote, "credible," after he was on the witness stand for about three minutes, and then, fined him $10,000. The judge said that was because Trump violated his gag order that barred him from speaking, about court staff. He's been criticizing one clerk, in particular. And now, there's another chapter in that saga. That limited gag order has now expanded to include Trump's own lawyers, Christopher Kise, Clifford Robert, and Alina Habba. All three are now banned, from making statements, about confidential communications, between the judge and his staff. At the heart of this is that same clerk.

Judge Engoron, today, admonished those three attorneys, saying that they, and, I'm quoting the judge now, "made... repeated... inappropriate remarks about my Principal Law Clerk, falsely accusing her of bias against them."

And this gag order is widening, another gag order in Washington, that's in that federal election interference case there, has just now been temporarily frozen, tonight, for the former President. More on what that means in a moment.

But I'm joined now by the former Superior Court Judge, LaDoris Hazzard Cordell.

Judge, I'm so glad you're here, tonight, because I'd love for you to just start by explaining, how unusual is it, for a gag order, to be expanded, to include the attorneys?

LADORIS HAZZARD CORDELL, FORMER CALIFORNIA SUPERIOR COURT JUDGE, AUTHOR, "HER HONOR": Well, Kaitlan, I wouldn't characterize it as a gag order at all.

I'd categorize it as the judge giving a reminder, to the lawyers, in the courtroom, to abide by courtroom protocol. Mature adults do not call out, name-call, say lies about the judge's staff.

I was on the bench, for nearly 20 years, and presided over hearings, and motions, and trials, thousands of them, and never once did I ever have a lawyer call out my staff.

And I'm especially concerned, about the lawyers, because every person, before they become a lawyer, has to take a bar exam and pass it. And part of the bar exam is the professional responsibility section, which deals with ethics, and which deals with conduct, of an attorney, in the courtroom and outside of the courtroom. So, when a lawyer does this, as in this case, this lawyer needs to have a refresher course on that.

So, the thing that comes up to me though is why would a lawyer do this, and so aggravate a judge, where the judge is the sole decider, of the Trump's fate, and then the fate of the alleged empire. And all I can come up with is that it is a strategy.

It is a strategy that they're using, when they know they're losing, and losing badly, when their ship is sinking. So, they need to disrupt. They need to find a way that this trial can either be interrupted, or can be reversed on appeal. And maybe that's by so aggravating, and irritating the judge, that the judge loses it and shows bias.

COLLINS: Well, oh, that's interesting. So, you think they're trying to provoke him, basically?


HAZZARD CORDELL: Absolutely. There's no other rational reason for them to do this.

And so, the judge could, for example, start saying things, or even using body motions that show the irritation, and the bias, that he's building, against the other side. And that can be sufficient for a reversible error.

But I do believe this judge, because he's been on the bench, a long time, and has likely had lawyers, and litigants, in his courtroom, that have been obstreperous and have been juvenile or immature? And he's apparently found a way to deal with them. So, I don't think this strategy is going to work for them.

Trial judges, basically, the good ones, basically have a mantra that they follow. And it is be long of fuse and thick of skin. And, I think, this judge is following that mantra.

COLLINS: Long of fuse and thick of skin.

I mean, if you looked at what was happening today, it was just remarkable, because what they were so upset about, and what they were complaining about, was the judge talking to his clerk. They're passing notes to one another, on the bench.

But, I mean, you're a judge. Is any of that unusual, for a judge, to be communicating, with their principal clerk, who's seated right next to them?

HAZZARD CORDELL: Right. So, trial lawyers -- excuse me, trial judges, many of them, and including me, had law clerks. And these are lawyers. They're very, very good lawyers. That's why they are there, assisting a judge. And their role is to research cases, to advise, give opinions, regarding their various legal issues that come up.

So, is it unusual, for a judge, to have a law clerk that is giving information to the judge, when the judge requests it? Absolutely not. These are hard-working lawyers. And actually, to get to this position, you have to be highly qualified, to even be there. So no, there's nothing unusual about it. And law clerks are an important part of the life of a trial court judge.

COLLINS: And I should note, I mean, the judge, what's clearly bothering him, is that he's worried about the safety of his clerk, and the other staff. He said that they've been inundated with threats, since all of this trial began.

But I do want to ask you, Judge, before we let you go, about the other gag order, related to the former President, tonight.

And that's because a federal appeals court has temporarily frozen that one, in Washington, D.C., which essentially means, I believe, until the oral arguments, and tell me if I'm wrong, that Trump is now free to criticize potential witnesses, in this case.

HAZZARD CORDELL: That's right. So, with the appellate court saying, "We're going to just stay that gag order that Judge Chutkan issued," they're basically saying there is no gag order.

And what the judge issued there, is more of a gag order, and that is saying, you cannot -- she is saying, you cannot talk about or say things about witnesses. Because we know when Trump says things, it's dog-whistle, not very well disguised, to his followers, to go after these people.

So, I'm really bothered by the fact that there is a stay that was issued. But when it is issued, it means there is no gag order. He is free to continue doing what he was doing before then, which is to call out people, call names out and, I believe, endanger the lives of these people that he is talking about.

COLLINS: Yes. Mark Meadows, Bill Barr, I mean, you just see it regularly, on Truth Social.


COLLINS: We'll see what happens, in those oral arguments.

Judge LaDoris Hazzard Cordell, as always, thank you.


COLLINS: The former President is set to follow his two oldest -- his two adult sons, and take the stand, here in New York, on Monday.

For more on what that could look like, here with me is former Senior Investigative Counsel, for the January 6 Select Committee, Temidayo Aganga-Williams.

And, I mean, so all of this drama that happened, today, kind of overshadowed Eric Trump's testimony, actually happening in court today. But I was so interested by it, because he basically was accusing the Attorney General of using Eric Trump, and his siblings, as collateral damage, trying to sensationalize the case.

But it really does matter what his role was in the Trump Org, because in a deposition, Trump said, he was much more involved with than Trump personally was. I mean, how does that square with what Eric Trump testified, today?


We've seen it with Don Jr., Eric, Jr., and we've seen it in the deposition testimony of the former President. Everyone is pointing at someone else. Everyone's saying, "Yes, these may be false, these statements about the value of properties and whatnot. But it wasn't me." So, when the former President is saying it's his sons, his sons are saying it was the accountants. And the judge is going to have to parse out, are any of them credible? Or is it basically everyone's going down together? That's going to be up to the judge to decide.


COLLINS: Can you explain to those of us, who are not maybe super- familiar with why this would be happening? Why it was Donald Trump Jr., then Eric Trump, then Donald Trump is testifying, on Monday, but his daughter Ivanka Trump is not? Why wouldn't they save Donald Trump, for last, basically?

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: Well, I think, part of that is Ivanka Trump was challenging, whether or not she would testify. She raised an objection, and actually be -- citing her young children. That was why she would be unable to get away, it would be a hardship. So that's why she may be out of order here, as opposed to the natural build-up.

Why you would have these folks testify? I mean, this case was really about the intent behind the fraud. As you know, the judge has already found, in this what's called a summary judgment motion, which is basically a finding before trial, that there was fraud, repeated fraud, based on the documents.

Now, the question is, was there intent behind the fraud, with these additional causes of action? Did Don Jr. did Eric, and did the former President intent to defraud individuals, whether it came down to loans, or the like? And that's what really this is about here.

All these folks are on the stand, also, because it's a civil case. If this were a criminal case, you couldn't force the defendants, to get on the stand. Here, in a civil case, where unless they plead the Fifth, there's not criminal exposure, you can get them all on the stand. And that's why they're all there now.

COLLINS: Well, and Donald Trump, I mean, himself is going on Monday. I don't think he's -- he was on the witness stand for three minutes, as I mentioned here.


COLLINS: But he hasn't been on the witness stand in over a decade. I mean, what do you think that's going to -- his son's claiming he's fired up? But do you think he'll actually be fired up, when he's under oath and on the witness stand?

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: Well, we've seen two testifying Donald Trumps in the past. And by the -- oh, I should say, public Donald Trump.

We've seen the Donald Trump of the rallies, who is boisterous, who is offensive, who is aggressive.

And then, we've seen a Donald Trump, in deposition testimony, who was a little bit actually more controlled, about his words, who gets a little slightly more soft-spoken. I don't know which Trump we're going to see. I think that depends, in part, on their strategy.

If they think that all is lost with the judge? Because again, this is a judge trial, not a jury trial, so only one person deciding the President's fate.

If they think all is lost, they may decide to go in a more aggressive, public-facing strategy, where it's not about what's happening with the verdict. But they're trying to either elicit a response from the judge. They're playing to the media. They're playing to the base. They're looking for political backlash.


AGANGA-WILLIAMS: Something else besides the merits.

COLLINS: I have to ask you about something else that happened, today, which kind of dumbfounded a lot of people.

Mark Meadows obviously wrote a book, Trump's former Chief of Staff. Now, the publisher of that book is suing him, accusing him of violating the terms of their agreement, because in the book, he obviously includes false statements, about the 2020 election.

I'm confused by this is happening now. I mean, part of the -- one chapter opens with a sentence in all-caps. "I KNEW HE DIDN'T LOSE." We knew that this was out there. They obviously knew that he was going to make these claims, in this book. Why are they suing him now? And, I mean, do they have an argument?

AGANGA-WILLIAMS: Well, I think what's odd about this lawsuit is that it's based on public reporting, that Mark Meadows has taken a different posture, in private, with the Special Counsel. It's not based on anything that this publisher can actually prove yet.

But I think, frankly, it's everything coming home to roost for both sides. Mark Meadows' lies were clear, when this book was written and published. And the publisher nonetheless decided they were going forward with it.

Mark Meadows now is having to face up to the lies that he told, meaning he's got to decide, in responding to this lawsuit, is he going to say, "I was lying in the book," or "Now, I'm lying to Jack Smith," and what he's told, presumably under oath, if the reporting is right.

So, I think, frankly, you have a publisher, who was willing to accept lies up-front. And you had a writer, in Mark Meadows, who was willing to tell those lies. And they're both now paying the consequences.

COLLINS: Temidayo Aganga-Williams, luckily, we have you here, to try to sort it all out.


COLLINS: Thank you. From Donald Trump to George Santos, who spoke to CNN, exclusively, tonight, about his plan, to run again, in 2024, and obviously pressed, on the lies, about his biography.


MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Acknowledge though, fabricating large portions of your life. So, why did that -- everyone -- people want to know why.


RAJU: Why did you do it?

SANTOS: Manu, we've gone through this.


COLLINS: Up next, though, Israel is firmly defending a deadly strike, on an ambulance, outside of the largest hospital, in Gaza City. They're also saying no ceasefire, until all the hostages are released.

We'll speak to a member of Congress, calling for a ceasefire, also, the only person, who voted against going to war, in Afghanistan and Iraq, after 9/11. That's in a moment.



COLLINS: Tonight, Israel is defending itself, while also claiming responsibility, for a deadly strike, on an ambulance, outside of the largest hospital, in Gaza City.

I want you to know that some of the images, that you're about to see, are disturbing. But this is the scene, where witnesses say dozens of people were killed, and injured, outside the Al-Shifa hospital. It's the largest medical facility there. We've spoken to doctors, who're operating inside of that hospital, on this show. The aftermath is grim and chaotic.

But Israeli officials are claiming that those ambulances, like the one that was hit today, are being used, to transfer weapons, and Hamas fighters. They've also accused Hamas, of having a command and control center, under the hospital. Of course, Palestinians have said that is not true.

The timing here though, is notable, because this strike came not long after Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, was on the ground, in Israel, for about 10 hours, pressing the government there, to do more, to protect civilians, in Gaza.


ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: Hamas doesn't care one second or one iota for the welfare, for the well-being, of the Palestinian people.

But civilians should not suffer the consequences for its inhumanity and its brutality.

We've provided Israel advice that only the best of friends can offer, on how to minimize civilian deaths, while still achieving its objectives, of finding and finishing Hamas terrorists, and their infrastructure of violence.


COLLINS: Jeremy Diamond is in Ashkelon, Israel, with the latest, on that strike that happened, in Gaza, earlier today.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, tonight, the Israeli Military is confirming that it did carry out a strike, on an ambulance, in Gaza City.


Now, this ambulance was part of a convoy of ambulances, traveling outside Al-Shifa hospital, in Gaza City. The Israeli Military says that Hamas militants were inside this ambulance, and that they were killed, in this strike.

But Palestinian health authorities paints a very different picture. They say that this convoy of ambulances was carrying injured Palestinians, being evacuated, via that Rafah Crossing, with Egypt, where we know that several Palestinians, injured Palestinians have been allowed to leave.

Now, the Israeli Military says that Hamas has used ambulances, in the past, to carry not only Hamas militants, but also weapons. And they've also pointed to Al-Shifa hospital, saying that Hamas operates an underground command and control center, beneath that hospital. It has not provided evidence that we can verify though, to back up those claims.

But Palestinian health authorities say that 15 people were killed in this strike. 50 others were wounded. And this is, of course, raising more questions, about Israel's Military tactics, in these three and a half, nearly four weeks of war that have happened thus far.

This strike comes just days after Israel targeted that densely- populated Jabalya refugee camp, saying that there was also an underground Hamas command and control center, beneath residential buildings there. But international law experts, raising questions about whether these strikes are appropriate, and whether they amount to war crimes.

Now meanwhile, amid all of this, Kaitlan, Hamas militants continue to target Israeli cities and towns, with rockets. They are firing them indiscriminately, targeting civilian areas.

And earlier today, my team was near, where one of those rockets made it through that Iron Dome missile defense system, hitting about 100 meters away, from where many journalists were posted, in Sderot, to watch the activity happening, inside of Gaza.

I want you to listen to the power of those rockets coming in.




DIAMOND: And one of those two rockets actually landed in the courtyard of a kindergarten, in, Sderot. Of course, there were no children, at the time. The school is not in session, in Sderot.

But this just serves as a powerful reminder, of course, as you look at some of the damage, of these vehicles, in the area, and that school, that while the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepts the overwhelming majority of these rockets, fired by Hamas, some of them still make it through.


COLLINS: Jeremy Diamond, thank you, for that report.

More tonight, I want to bring in Congresswoman Barbara Lee, of California, who is perhaps most notably remembered, for her calls for restraint, after 9/11. At the time, she was the sole member of Congress, in either chamber, to oppose the 2001 authorization of force, Military force, used to authorize the U.S. invasion, into Afghanistan and Iraq. Currently running for Dianne Feinstein's former Senate seat, in California.

And thank you, Congresswoman, for joining me, tonight. I'm really glad that you're here.

Obviously, on this strike, Israel is confirming that it hit an ambulance, tonight, in Gaza, claiming it was being used, by Hamas, after that request, by Secretary Blinken, saying that Israel needs to try to protect Palestinian civilians. What's your reaction to that?

REP. BARBARA LEE (D-CA): Kaitlan, thank you for inviting me, to be with you.

First of all, I have called for a ceasefire. And this should not be mistaken, for the lack of support for, and protection and safety, for Israelis and Palestinians.

And I'm calling for the end of all hostilities. And this means, also Hamas. It means Islamic -- the Islamic Jihad. It means Hezbollah. All of the hostilities needs to cease. Because a couple of things are happening.

First of all, we see now probably over 9,000 civilians that have been killed, 3,500 children. The cessation of violence, and hostilities, is crucial, to the release of hostages, it's crucial to making sure that a regional war does not erupt. We know that that's on the brink. We're on the brink. So, we've got to have a ceasefire, and have a ceasefire immediately.

COLLINS: You called for that ceasefire right after the attack, by Hamas, on Israel.

And the White House, at the time, said that calls for a ceasefire were repugnant and disgraceful. Now, the White House is asking for a humanitarian pause.

Does that go far enough, in your view?

LEE: It does not go far enough, in my view, because we have to have a cessation of all hostilities, and a ceasefire. Otherwise, we're going to possibly end up losing the support of Arab States.

The only way that we're going to see peace and security and justice, for the Israelis and the Palestinian people, is through a political and diplomatic solution. You cannot do that in the midst of a war.


And so, we have to not have a pause, I don't believe. Because what happens after a pause? Yes, we must deliver the humanitarian aid. But after the humanitarian aid is delivered, then bombs and the hostilities will begin, again.

And so, I believe, yes --

COLLINS: What about Congresswoman, though --

LEE: -- in the security of Israel.

COLLINS: What about Israeli officials that I've --

LEE: Go ahead, I'm sorry.

COLLINS: -- that I've talked to about these calls, for a ceasefire? They say, "That just gives Hamas time to regroup. We can't do a ceasefire." That's what their argument is.

LEE: What I say is -- and Mr. Pape, who was an adviser to President Bush, no (ph) progressive, his point was that the longer this takes place, the longer the hostilities occur.

And the longer this war takes place, you're going to have more violence, you're going to have more Palestinians relating to Hamas. And we're going to create another cycle of terrorists and violence. And so, we've got to stop this, from what this happens.

Because we know what is taking place, now. We know the anger and the hostilities. And we know that this is not going to end well, unless we call for a ceasefire, and begin a diplomatic and peaceful pathway, to security, and peace, and security --

COLLINS: I'll just note.

LEE: -- for the Palestinians and the Israelis. COLLINS: Former Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, said people who are calling for a ceasefire, they don't understand Hamas, was the way she framed it.

But I do also want to ask you, Congresswoman, about your Democratic colleague, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who is the only Palestinian American, in Congress. Tonight, she put out a new video, accusing President Biden, of supporting, and I'm quoting from the video now, the "genocide of the Palestinian people."

Do you agree with that sentiment?

LEE: I have not seen the video. And I know Congresswoman Tlaib, her grandmother, and her family. They are in Ramallah. And I understand the personal aspects of this, and the trauma, and the fear that she has.

And so, every member has their own points of views. Every member understands what is important, and what believes will lead to a path to peace.

I have stated this over and over and over again, that even though those in Israel, and in Palestine, many, do not support a two-state solution, it is the policy of the Biden administration, to support a two-state solution. And I think we need to look at beyond these, this war and these hostilities, what next? What will be the United States' role, in trying to bring some --

COLLINS: But do you -- do you think President Biden --

LEE: -- some permanency to peace and security.

COLLINS: Do you think President Biden is supporting the genocide of the Palestinian people? Those are harsh words, from a Democrat, for a Democratic president. Do you support them?

LEE: First, let me say, I think the President needs to speak very clearly about a ceasefire. That's my position, with regard to the Administration.

Recognizing that we support Israel's security, we support their rights to defend themselves. And in fact, we know that Hamas is a terrorist organization. And we know that they do not -- Hamas does not reflect the majority of the Palestinian people.

And so, the President is trying to thread that needle. But I hope that he calls for a ceasefire within the context of supporting Israel and its security.

COLLINS: OK. But you're not going to say whether you agree with Congresswoman Tlaib's comments that he's supporting the genocide of the Palestinian people?

LEE: What I am saying is I will tell you, what I say.

And Congresswoman Tlaib, once again, you've got to understand Congresswoman Tlaib's points of views, and her personal history, with her family, and her grandmother, in Ramallah.

And also, understand that there are many of us, who have points of views. But we all come together, when we know that we want to stop this killing of civilians, and children, and women, and want to call, and we are calling, for a ceasefire.

COLLINS: Congresswoman Barbara Lee, thank you, for your time, tonight.

LEE: Thank you.

COLLINS: We're also learning, tonight, about how U.S. officials are anticipating a new phase, of Israel's war, against Hamas, in the coming days. The question is what does that shift look like? We'll talk about that next.



COLLINS: Tonight, U.S. officials tell CNN that they are anticipating a new phase of Israel's war, with Hamas, in the coming days, one, that we are beginning to see in a video, like this one.

The Israeli forces, marching through the streets, dug in, on the ground, inside Gaza, tanks, heavy equipment, moving through the streets. It's a sign that this phase of the battle is in full swing. At the same time, aerial strikes have continued to rain down, with fighter jets overhead and ships off the coast.

On the other end of these strikes, like this one, are scenes like this, a strike on the Al-Maghazi refugee camp in Gaza.

For more, on these ground movements, and what is potentially to come, I want to bring in CNN Military Analyst, and retired Air Force Colonel, Cedric Leighton.

And Colonel Leighton, I'm so glad you're here, tonight.

As we talk about, from a Military perspective, what they're actually doing, on the ground, what do we expect this new phase, of Israel's efforts, to look like?

COL. CEDRIC LEIGHTON (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST, U.S. AIR FORCE (RET.): Well, Kaitlan, good evening. It's good to be with you.

The big thing here to note is that when they first started the air campaign, which was really the first phase, of all of this, all of these operations, they really concentrated their bombing runs, in the north, with a little bit of activity, in the South. So, this was mainly to soften up everything that was going to be happening next.

And that next phase, which we're basically finishing, right now, it looks like is for the Israeli forces, to move into the northern and northeastern parts, and then also go into the central part.

So, we were talking Gaza City here. They say they've surrounded Gaza City, the Israelis have. And the idea is to move all these forces forward, in a way that will encircle the Hamas fighters. So, this is where they're at now. At the moment, it's kind of a combination between the air campaign, and the ground campaign.


But what you saw, earlier, in those videos is what the next phase is going to look like. And it's going to be a combination of these things, plus a bit of a more concentrated area of activity, here in the North. And then, there's going -- also going to be some movement, down in the central part, and potentially moving down to the South.

But basically, what they've done is they've cut the country, or the territory, in two, and they're concentrating their Military operations, right here in the North.

COLLINS: OK. So, if the ground campaign is ramping up, does that mean that air campaign, and the assaults that we've been seeing, from the skies? I mean, last night, Gaza was completely lit up. Does that mean that that decreases? Or do both happen at the same time? Is that likely?

LEIGHTON: Either one is possible. What will probably happen is there'll be a combination of both, and they'll determine the level of effort, between the two.

But one thing that they have to be very careful of, Kaitlan, is to make sure that the ground forces don't conflict with what the air forces are doing. So they have to make sure that they don't have what they call fratricide, which means killing your own, in a case like this.

So, what they're trying to do is they're trying to de-conflict things. But they're trying to use both air power and ground artillery and tank units, and infantry, of course, in combination. And that's how they're going to be working that.

COLLINS: We've talked a lot about these tunnels, and that complex system, that is underneath Gaza, that Hamas uses, for its Military purposes. I mean, what does that tell you about what these ground forces, those troops that you just saw, going into Gaza, what they are going to be dealing with, in the coming days?

LEIGHTON: Think of narrow, confined spaces all over the place. We have basically about 300 miles of tunnels, in these areas, really concentrated, here in the North. We have a lot of the main effort of tunnels. We also have some right here in the South, in the area around Khan Yunis.

Each of these tunnels, some of them are very narrow, some of them are a bit wider. The entrances are all over the place. And what the Hamas fighters are doing is they're using these to pop up, and cause ambush -- initiate ambushes, and place IEDs, and do things like that. So, what they're doing is they're using these tunnels to greater effect.

But what the Israelis are trying to do is they're trying to, in essence, cut each of these tunnels, as best they can, to prevent as many of these Hamas fighters, from utilizing the tunnels, like they have, in the past.

COLLINS: Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you, for laying all of that out for us.

LEIGHTON: You bet.

COLLINS: Up next, you're going to hear, directly, from indicted congressman, George Santos. He's speaking exclusively, with CNN, tonight, explaining why he told all those lies, about his biography. He's defiant though. He's not stepping away from his job. He's actually vowing to run again, he says, no matter what.


RAJU: So, if they expel you, and then they put someone else in the seat. You're going to run in 2024?

SANTOS: Absolutely.

RAJU: Uh-huh. Can you win a primary, given all these things --


RAJU: -- are lined up against you?


RAJU: And the general election?




COLLINS: George Santos is facing 23 federal charges, including identity theft, wire fraud and money laundering. He's also under investigation, by the House Ethics Committee.

And yet, the indicted Republican congressman, from New York, says that he is still going to run, for his seat, in 2024, even if he's been expelled from Congress. He also told my colleague, Manu Raju, that he believes he could win.


RAJU: So, if they expel you, and then they put someone else in the seat. You're going to run in 2024?

SANTOS: Absolutely.

RAJU: Uh-huh. Can you win a primary, given all these things --

SANTOS: Yes. RAJU: -- are lined up against you?


RAJU: And the general election? This is a Biden-leaning district.

SANTOS: Look, could --

RAJU: And you have all these issues against you.

SANTOS: Could I have won the general election last time? Nobody said I could. But I survived.

RAJU: It was a different situation.

SANTOS: No, I understand. But elections are tricky. And there's no predetermined outcome.


COLLINS: Of course, litany of lies is now attached to George Santos' name, ranging from alleged criminal schemes, to made-up claims, about his background.

He's not Jewish. His grandparents were not Holocaust survivors. His mother was not at the World Trade Center, on 9/11. And he also did not attend the Baruch College, or play on its volleyball team. The list really does go on.


RAJU: Your voters thought they were electing one person.

SANTOS: Manu, nobody elected me.

RAJU: And that wasn't true.

SANTOS: Nobody elected me because I played volleyball or not. Nobody elected me because I graduated college or not.

People elected me because I said I'd come here to fight the swamp.

Nobody knew my biography. Nobody opened my biography, who voted for me in the campaign.


COLLINS: That may be his perspective.

But look at what the voters, in the real world, are saying about this. Earlier this year, 78 percent of voters, in George Santos' district said that he should resign. That includes 71 percent of Republicans.

And while Santos did survive an effort, to expel him, from the House, just this week, he may not be so fortunate once the Ethics Committee is releasing its findings, which it's set to do, in just a matter of weeks.

Joining me now here, in the real world, is my colleague, John Avlon.

John, I mean, it's hard to know kind of where to start with this, when you look at the charges that he's facing.


COLLINS: Yet the defiance that he's displaying in that interview with Manu.

AVLON: Well, I think he learned it from Donald Trump.

I mean, the defiance on top of the denial and the lies, I think, this is a case of what the former New York Senator, Daniel Moynihan, said was defining deviancy down.

The fact that he's going to -- he thinks he can win a primary, and win a general, when those poll numbers, out of his own district, show that the voters want him gone? When his congressional colleagues, from New York Republican Party, want him gone? That's just about shamelessness.

That's just about -- the shamelessness that Donald Trump has turned into a superpower, politically? Except in the figure of George Santos, it seems as absurd and pathetic as it really is.

COLLINS: But he says no one elected him, because he lied about playing, on the college volleyball team?


COLLINS: Which is, I mean, sure, I doubt that's not something that a voter had in mind --

AVLON: Probably not.

COLLINS: -- when they went to the polls, that Election Day. But voters, typically, when you look at the past, they don't like serial liars, as their representative, in Congress.

And as Manu rightly pointed out, this is a Biden-leaning district. There are a bevy of people, lining up, to try to primary him. I mean, what do you think the voters, how they are viewing that kind of shamelessness, as you put it, in his answers there?

AVLON: I think they view him with contempt. He's a punch line. He's a self-inflicted joke. But he's a joke on them. And that's what I think people are not likely to forgive.


It wasn't known that, you know, there's no -- there's no Baruch volleyball contingent that voted for him, last time, in the district. But people did think that he'd gone to Goldman Sachs. They did think he was a successful businessman. And then, but the insulting aspects, the lying about his heritage, and the Holocaust, and his mother being, in the Trade Center, on 9/11? That's something this district takes very personally. And it should.

But if people, who know you the best, his congressional colleagues, from New York, hate you the most? You got a problem. And that's because he makes them look bad. He's a stain on them. And it's an issue for the New York Republican Party, right now, because they elevated this guy, not once, but twice. I don't know that they'll do it a third time.

But again, that, he talked his way into Congress. So, I guess, he thinks he's got nothing to lose. We'll see what happens, when the Ethics Committee report comes out.

COLLINS: Do you think that Ethics Committee report will -- I mean, sometimes it's treated, maybe a lot of the time, it's treated as a joke, on Capitol Hill. People don't take it seriously. Don't feel like it really has a lot of teeth. Do you think it's different, for George Santos, though?

AVLON: I do, because I think the details will be damning. We obviously have the allegations. We have the indictments. Those details are pretty damning. And they go well beyond the lies he told in the campaign, but, and to alleged financial impropriety.

But I think it's the -- that's part of the due process that folks who said, "Look, I think he's a lousy guy and should resign, but we shouldn't kick him out because process matters." And part of that process is the Ethics Committee.

The last two members of Congress, who were kicked out, most recently, Jim Traficant, of Youngstown, Ohio, 20 years ago, was bribery.

This is something different. This is something we haven't quite seen before. But I do think the Ethics Committee report could be determinative.


AVLON: We'll see.

COLLINS: I mean, his charges are conspiracy, wire fraud, false statements, falsification of records, and the list goes on.

AVLON: What do you got?

COLLINS: John Avlon, with all that, thank you very much.

AVLON: Thank you, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And, of course, you can watch all, of Manu's full interview, with George Santos. It's going to air, on "INSIDE POLITICS," this Sunday, 11 AM. I promise you're going to want to see it.

Meanwhile, tonight, President Biden, he was in Lewiston, Maine, comforting the grieving families, and the first responders, after last week's mass shootings that killed 18 people. He reiterated his call for action, on gun violence. We'll tell you what he said, on the ground, next.



COLLINS: Today, President Biden was on the ground, in Lewiston, Maine, a community that is still in shock and mourning, where he issued a call for action, on gun violence.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: This is about commonsense, reasonable, responsible measures to protect our children, our families, our communities. Because regardless of our politics, this is about protecting our freedom, to go to a bowling alley, a restaurant, a school, a church, without being shot and killed.


COLLINS: The President was honoring the 18 people, who were killed, in last week's massacre. He spoke at one of the two shooting sites that were there. He met with first responders, nurses, the families, of those 18 victims. He even walked hand-in-hand, at one point, with the Governor of Maine, Janet Mills.

Earlier, the President and first lady, stood for a moment of silence, at that second shooting location.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is on the ground, in Lewiston, covering the President's visit.

Omar, I was just thinking about how many times we've seen this President, but really multiple Presidents, in this setting, at the scene of a mass shooting. I mean, you think about Uvalde, Monterey Park, Buffalo, Atlanta. Now, another one is on the list of places that President Biden has gone.

But Omar, given what he mentioned today, is there any discussion, happening there, about changing the gun laws, in Maine?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, he -- and those were all places that President Biden listed, over the course of his brief remarks, here as well.

And yes, there have been conversations, especially at the State level. Maine's governor, Janet Mills, has talked about how in the recent -- in the coming weeks, she wants to bring together legislative leaders, public safety officials, those in the medical field, as well, to have a quote, "robust conversation," on gun violence, because she believes action is needed.

And part of the scrutiny here is around Maine's so-called Yellow Flag laws, which essentially says that law enforcement can't take someone's weapons, without a court order, or the input of a medical professional that says someone is an extreme risk, to themselves or others.

That said, over the months, leading up to these shootings, we know that there were multiple occasions, where concerns were reported, to law enforcement, about this shooter's mental health; including a soldier, reporting that they had concerns, that the shooter, in this case, an Army Reservist, would, quote, "snap and commit a mass shooting;" including the shooter's family, reporting to law enforcement, they were concerned about his well-being, and that he had access to firearms.

So, it's part of why Maine's governor announced they will be forming a commission, to investigate law enforcement's handling of some of those mental health concerns, and whether more should have been done.

COLLINS: Yes. A lot of questions, for those families that need answers here.

Omar Jimenez, thank you.

As the country is still reeling, from that mass shooting, in Maine, the President said today he does still believe consensus is possible. In fact, one measure that his administration has backed is that Trump- era ban on bump stocks. But today, the Supreme Court said that they have agreed to reconsider overturning that federal ban.

Bump stocks are these attachments that go on semi-automatic rifles that essentially allow shooters to fire hundreds of bullets, in just mere minutes.

They were banned, under former President Trump. He had ordered a review of the device, after it was used, in the Las Vegas shooting, in 2017. That massacre was the deadliest in American history, killing some 60 people, and wounding hundreds more. The gunman's rifle, amplified by a bump stock.

Up next, we're going to talk about a story, that's really important, people who were thrown in jail, simply for doing their jobs. I'll explain right after this.



COLLINS: An important story, about a small town, before we go, tonight. The publisher, of an Alabama newspaper, and one of her reporters have been arrested, simply for doing their jobs.

Sherry Ann Digmon, and Don Fletcher, of the Atmore News, were taken into custody, last week. The District Attorney, filing felony charges, following the paper's October 25th article, investigating the use of COVID relief funds, within the school district, accusing them of publishing evidence from a grand jury investigation, in that article.

Press advocates are pushing back, and rightfully so. One prominent First Amendment advocate spoke to the New York Times, and I'm quoting now, saying, "If the Nixon Administration couldn't imprison journalists who printed the Pentagon Papers, the Alabama D.A. can't imprison journalists for writing stories about the Atmore, Alabama school board."

I should note that in 2001, the Supreme Court reaffirmed, if the information is truthful, and newsworthy, news organizations have a constitutionally-protected right, to publish it.

Of course, it may happen -- be happening in a small town. It is certainly of great importance.

I want to thank you so much, for joining us, tonight, and every night this week.

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

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST, CNN NEWS NIGHT: Israel's war hits an inflection point, and the global status quo may be on the brink of one too. That's tonight, on NEWS NIGHT.

Good evening.