Return to Transcripts main page

The Source with Kaitlan Collins

Judge: Trump Engaged In Insurrection But Stays On Ballot; Trump GA Trial May Begin Three Months Before Election Day; Elon Musk Endorses Anti-Semitic Conspiracy Theory. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired November 17, 2023 - 21:00   ET




NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): As the sun sets, our situation becomes more precarious.

ELBAGIR (on camera): We've just been held at every, almost every single checkpoint, despite all the assurances we were given. It's now 10 o'clock, at night. And we're still hour and a half before our destination.

Every moment that we are delayed, it gets more and more dangerous.

ELBAGIR (voice-over): And delayed again, and again, and again.

Luckily, we managed to get in touch, with a distant cousin, of my father's, who allows us to bed down, in her new not-yet-furnished home. The team is exhausted. We need to get some sleep.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST, ANDERSON COOPER 360: Well "THE WHOLE STORY," this Sunday, 9 PM Eastern Pacific, right here, on CNN.

The news continues. THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS starts now.


Breaking news, as a Colorado judge has ruled Donald Trump can be on the ballot, but also says that he engaged in the January 6th insurrection.

Plus, Georgia prosecutors now want Trump in court, less than three weeks after the Republican National Convention, and just three months before the 2024 election. Of course, a reminder, that is a trial that will be televised.

Also, tonight, advertisers are fleeing from Elon Musk's X, as he himself is now facing backlash, over his anti-Semitic posts, from many of the biggest companies in America.

I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE. Tonight, Donald Trump has survived what was the most serious attempt, to force him off the ballot, in the primaries. A Colorado judge says that he can stay on the ballot there. This is also the first time that a judge has determined that Donald Trump, the former President, engaged in insurrection.

I want to read you the exact language of this ruling that just came out, a few moments ago. The judge says that "Trump acted with the specific intent to incite political violence and direct it at the Capitol with the purpose of disrupting the electoral certification."

So, why did Denver District Court Judge, Sarah Wallace, keep him on the ballot? Because of that quote that you just heard there. She said that's because the Constitution's insurrectionist ban doesn't apply to presidents.

Tonight, the Trump campaign is applauding this decision, not to remove him from the ballot. But no mention yet about the extension there. There's hundreds of pages that the judge had, tying the former President to January 6th.

I am joined now, by the attorney, who represented Donald Trump, in this case, and also is Colorado's former Republican Secretary of State, Scott Gessler.

Scott, thank you for being here, tonight.

Have you spoken with the former President? What was his reaction to this ruling?

SCOTT GESSLER, TRUMP ATTORNEY IN COLORADO, (R) FORMER COLORADO SECRETARY OF STATE: So, I have not spoken with him. But obviously, we've spoken with the legal team. And we're pretty satisfied with the outcome.

COLLINS: And is this something you expect? I mean, the other side, we do expect the plaintiffs to appeal it here. If that happens, what's your argument going to be, to the Colorado Supreme Court?

GESSLER: Well, I'm almost certain that the plaintiffs are going to appeal this case.

We'll argue to the Colorado Supreme Court a lot of the same arguments we made before, which is, the textual and historical analysis of the 14th Amendment, especially, considering the fact that the way our Constitution is set up, the way our Republic is set up, is people get to choose, who gets to be their president. We shouldn't have courts striking people from the ballot.

We're also going to fully take on the court's erroneous argument that President Trump engaged, in an insurrection. We think that's just flat-out wrong, certainly, contrary to the evidence. It was a little bit unusual for her to spend a lot of time, talking about that, and then, at the end, rule that the 14th Amendment didn't apply. Normally courts --

COLLINS: Why do you think she did have that?

GESSLER: Well first --

COLLINS: Why do you think, Scott, that she did, the judge here, did add those 100 pages of her, going into detail, about the role that she believes your client played, in January 6th?

GESSLER: Well, I think, pretty clearly, she's not a fan of President Trump.

But to be honest with you, normally, courts will rule on the jurisdictional issues, will rule whether the law applies, before going into all of that. So, it's really sort of a backwards way of going into it, compared to how courts normally do it. Maybe she just wanted to be able to say that. I don't really know her motivations, along those lines.

But at the end of the day, it's, the voters of Colorado are going to be able to make the choice, not a court. And we're thankful that she respected the role of voters, and stopped the sort of efforts, or at least the effort in Colorado, which is anti-democratic, trying to strike President Trump off the ballot.


COLLINS: But given the fact that she does go into such detail, and is now the first judge, to ever say that Donald Trump engaged in an insurrection, do you still really view this as a win here?

GESSLER: We can't stop the judge, from saying things, like that and still ruling in our favor.

But I will tell you, she also said that the First Amendment protections don't apply to President Trump, the way they do to everyone else. And we think that's flat wrong. So, there are a lot of problems with that analysis. Maybe that will -- we'll wind up contesting it, maybe not, depending on how the appeal comes out.

But at the end of the day, she ruled for us, and properly so. And this is her opinion on what happened. But it has no legal authority at all, because of her ruling, and the way she did.

COLLINS: But I guess some people would read this, and see where she says that he acted with specific intent, to incite political violence, directed at the Capitol, that he not only knew, about the potential, for violence, but that he actively promoted it, and incited it, on January 6th, 2021.

And they'll say, "OK, yes, he is staying on the ballot. But the judge also is tying him, to all of this activity, saying that he was responsible for what happened that day," and ask how this is a victory for the Trump team?

GESSLER: Look, part of the problem, with that analysis, is that what she did is she took the January 6th report, which was a wholly one- sided approach, used to attack President Trump, directly and politically. And she imported that whole thing into the case itself. She viewed that as reliable, which is, I think, most reasonable people would view that as absurd. And so, she relied upon that to make some of those decisions.

COLLINS: But there are people, who would not agree with that.

GESSLER: And so, the foundation of that is rotten.

COLLINS: Right, Scott?

GESSLER: I'm sorry?

COLLINS: There are people, yes, there are some people who do not like the January 6 report. There are a lot of people, who believe its findings. I mean, I saw you making this argument, in court, saying that you didn't believe that should be something that the other side was basing their argument on here.

But is there anything, any of the -- is there anything, I guess, in the facts that she's laying out here, in the statements that she's laying out here, that you dispute about Trump's behavior, on that day?

GESSLER: Absolutely. He did not act with intent or specific intent at all. We thought the evidence was very clear that he made efforts, to ensure he authorized the National Guard, to make sure that they were available, to prevent this type of violence. If you look at his actual tweets, and speeches, and statements?

COLLINS: He didn't authorize the National Guard, on that day.

GESSLER: He did. He did.

COLLINS: Well Kash Patel, his former aide, testified that and --

GESSLER: And we think that evidence was pretty strong in court.

COLLINS: Kash Patel, his former aide, testified that, as one of your witnesses here. But when he was asked for any documentation, or any evidence, that Trump had done that he didn't provide any.

GESSLER: Yes, well, there were two other -- there was the second corroborative witness, Katrina Pierson. And in fact, the plaintiffs, they're called petitioners, brought in a tweet themselves from one of --

COLLINS: But Katrina Pierson didn't work in the White House.

GESSLER: Let me -- let me finish. Allow me -- allow me to finish. One, a tweet from an adviser to President Trump, who -- that actually referenced President Trump's efforts, to make sure that the National -- to authorize the National Guard. I mean, it was their own evidence that they brought in that referenced that.

So, I don't think it's appropriate to say that he never authorized. That's just not fair. And I don't think the evidence leans in that direction. I thought we put on pretty strong evidence. And she can say she doesn't believe people. But just because there's not a specific written document, doesn't mean that it didn't happen.

And frankly, part of the problem, with this entire hearing, was that we didn't even have the time, or the ability, to send out subpoenas, and get this types of -- type of witness testimony, and look at other types of documents, to be able to make our case. So, we were very limited on what we were able to do.

So, to be able to say, "Well, you didn't have enough or enough documents," part of that was the truncated or compressed process, the lack of our ability, to compel people, to talk to us, the lack of our ability, to actually get documents, unless someone volunteered them to us. So, there are some real problems, along those lines --

COLLINS: Well I haven't seen any.

GESSLER: -- in terms of process itself.

COLLINS: I mean, this has been a whole thing --

GESSLER: We thought there was very strong evidence.

COLLINS: This has been investigated, time and time again, including by this committee. And I mean, Donald Trump himself did not testify here. He blames Nancy Pelosi, for calling the National Guard that day, even though it was in his authority.

But I do, you know, I looked at what you said on the first day of this trial. You said you believe the judge was biased, and that she should recuse herself. Do you feel differently now, based on this outcome, tonight?

GESSLER: Well, I mean, what I said initially, she had contributed money, to an organization, that was specifically dedicated, towards removing politicians, that they claimed that this group claimed, engaged in an insurrection. So, the very purpose of the organization she contributed to was, had already made a decision that showed her support.

COLLINS: Before she was on the bench though, right?


GESSLER: Well, not quite. She was -- she had already applied. And I believe she had been nominated, but not yet appointed.

Plus, it was within the past year. So, whether you're on the bench or not, if you do that within the past year, usually attorneys sort of look at a year, as a rough deadline, for sort of viewing things in the past. And it was still pretty fresh. And so, we had deep concerns about that.

I'm not necessarily here to re-litigate that about the judge. At the end of the day, we're respectful that the judge made the right decision. I understand, she threw a lot of shade, on President Trump. And we're not happy about that. And we disagree with it. But at the end of the day, she at least --

COLLINS: But, I guess, my question is?

GESSLER: -- and we're respectful of this that she's respecting the democratic processes.

COLLINS: Are you saying that you accept the ruling, but you're rejecting her findings here? It seems like you're having it one way, and also the other?

GESSLER: Not at all. I mean, we accept her jurisdictional, her conclusion that the 14th Amendment doesn't apply, to the presidency, based on its plain text, in the history as well. We certainly accept that.

The other stuff she wrote in there, frankly, is not germane, to her decision. Courts, you know, attorneys will call that dicta. In other words, it's just sort of superfluous excess language that didn't really make a determination, on how she ruled. So, at the end of the day, she said that. We disagree strongly with that.

But she also ruled in our favor. And, at the end of the day, that's what we're satisfied about, that President Trump will have the opportunity, like everyone else, to make his case, and that voters will be able to have the opportunity, to vote for him, if they want to. And that's what democracy is about. And the judge respected that. And we appreciate it.

COLLINS: Yes, still quite a scathing ruling saying that he acted with intent, to cite political -- incite political violence.

Scott Gessler, the attorney, in this case, thank you so much, for your time, tonight.

GESSLER: Thank you for having me.

COLLINS: Also, here tonight, on this breaking news, is Ben Ginsberg, a top Republican attorney, who has represented four Republican presidential candidates, and played a central role in the 2000 Florida recount. So, he knows a thing or two about elections.

Ben, I'm so glad, to have you here, tonight.

What do you make of what you just heard, from --


COLLINS: -- from Trump's attorney, in this case, on, they accept the ruling itself that Trump can stay on the ballot, but not the 100 pages, of what the judge says here, that Trump engaged in an insurrection?

GINSBERG: Well, Scott is not the first lawyer, to take the things he likes, in an opinion, and say it's gold, and to reject what he doesn't like, as pure garbage. I mean, that's kind of the way lawyers work. But what's interesting about this case, is the overall perspective that it brings. You now have one judge, finding that Trump was guilty of Insurrection. You've had cases, in a couple of other states, where they've not reached that.

But what this tells you is that it's an ongoing issue that will be brought up, between now and the election, and maybe even after the election. And there is a need, for some sort of definitive ruling, I think, by the U.S. Supreme Court, to bring some closure to this.

COLLINS: Do you think it ultimately -- I mean, even Scott Gessler, himself, said there that they do believe that the other side will appeal this. It could go to the Colorado State Supreme Court, and then potentially the Supreme Court. Do you think it ultimately goes there?

GINSBERG: Well, I do. And I think it needs to. My guess is the way that it's going to go up is not a case, like the Colorado case, but where Donald Trump is actually denied a spot on the ballot. And that will be the posture of the case that it goes to the Supreme Court.

It's worth noting that in primaries, parties have a great deal of discretion, under legal precedent, to pit their nominees, the way they want to. It gets different, for a general election. As I say, I think a court, keeping Trump, from a position on the ballot, is a case that does have to go to the Supreme Court.

COLLINS: Yes. Just remarkable, to see that she found his actions unlawful, in this court ruling, the first time we've seen a judge do that.

Ben Ginsberg, as always, thank you, for your time, tonight.

GINSBERG: Thanks, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And we'll have more, on this breaking news, a judge saying that Trump can stay on the ballot, in Colorado, but did engage in insurrection, the first time that we have ever seen that.

Also, a new trial request date is in, on another Trump case. The Fulton County District Attorney wants his Georgia trial, to start only months before the election.

Plus, Elon Musk, no stranger to controversy. But tonight could be a turning point. We'll tell you more, next.



COLLINS: Donald Trump will be on the ballot, in Colorado. But a court did just find that the Republican presidential front-runner quote, "Engaged in an insurrection," and tried to hang on to power, through unlawful means.

This is the first time that any court has determined that Trump engaged in insurrection. The impact of this ruling obviously goes far beyond just the printing of a primary ballot, in a state that no Republican has won, since 2004.

I'm joined, tonight, by a pair of political veterans. Jamal Simmons, who worked with President Biden and Vice President Harris; and Scott Jennings, who worked with former President George W. Bush.

Scott, thanks for being here tonight.

As Ben was pointing out, every attorney takes part of a ruling that they like, and runs with it, and the other part that they don't like, not necessarily. But how do you make, a judge finding your client, inciting an insurrection a win, given he's the front-runner to be the next potentially Republican candidate for president?


By the way, I think, Democrats also dodged a huge bullet. Had they thrown Donald Trump off the ballot? Had a single judge done that tonight? Donald Trump, Republicans, even his opponents would have probably be going crazy, tonight, and doing what they do, whenever one of these legal issues occur. So, I actually think the Democrats dodged a huge bullet.

But the reality is, on the insurrection talk, and on the January 6th talk, most voters have heard it all before. We heard it from the January 6 committee. They watched it with their own eyes. They know what they know. They believe what they believe. So, I'm not sure what a judge has to say, about it, is going to add much to what people already know, or change too many opinions.


So, if I were the Trump people, I'd probably be happy. And secretly, I suspect the Democrats are probably happy about this too.

COLLINS: Jamal, are Democrats happy about this?

JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN, FORMER COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR FOR VP HARRIS: Listen, I don't know if Democrats are happy about it, writ large. But I got to tell you, I think Scott may actually be right about this point.

We sit at a precipice, as a country, where you have these forces of folks, who really don't have confidence, in the system, don't have confidence in the institutions. And I do feel like if we deprive Donald Trump, of being on the ballot, at this moment, it would just be more fuel, for their attacks.

Now, we're about to have a campaign, where I think we're going to litigate all of this. The President's going to litigate it. Outside groups are going to litigate it. We're going to see the -- President Trump, on trial, for a big chunk of his campaign.

I think there are going to be a lot of things that highlight what's wrong with the Trump form of government, and with the MAGA movement. I'm just not sure as making the kind of a clerical decision would be the way to go.

COLLINS: Scott, though, I mean, when you look at this, and the fact that he is going to still be on the ballot? This is not the first time we've seen this attempt.

But in other states, where this has happened, and then groups, other groups, not the one that sued here, in Colorado, but other groups have tried to do this? And the cases were just dismissed, or the court said, "We're not addressing that."

This was actually a trial, where the judge heard from, the defense, but also, both sides testimony, from January 6 officers. What do you make of the fact that she did include so much of what he did, on that day, in this ruling?

JENNINGS: Well, obviously, she's looking ahead to possible appellate work here. I mean, maybe this does wind up, in the Supreme Court. Maybe the Supreme Court winds up sort of clarifying the meaning of the 14th Amendment here. And maybe we need that because obviously, it's never been tested, and we don't really have a process for this.

I ultimately think though, the right place for this, to be decided, is at the ballot box. I mean, Donald Trump did what he did. And you can either think that that was good, or you can think that was bad, or you could think it's been overblown, or you can think it's not been blown up enough.

But the American people will get a chance to decide this. The Democrats are banking, that it's going to help Joe Biden win re- election. And the Republicans are banking, that they're going to be vindicated here.

But ultimately, I think throwing him off the ballot, even if you've got a long paper trail, as you point out, Kaitlan, would make Republicans feel like they were deprived, of the opportunity, and Democrats also deprived --


JENNINGS: -- of the opportunity to make the ultimate political decision.

COLLINS: Well, I mean, Jamal, if you were inside the White House, would you advise them, to be using this, what the judge has found here, in these 100 pages?

SIMMONS: Well, there's a lot of fuel here, for the fire, right? And so, the judge put a lot of things in there.

It's important for us to have a record of this, not just going into the campaign, but as a society, that there were people, who stood up and said, "What Donald Trump did was wrong," not calling the Guard in, letting this go on, for so long, the Capitol Police being in trouble, and not helping and being assaulted, not helping, I think it's incredibly important. So the White House, I don't know if, I would say breathe a sigh of relief, as Scott just said. But I think we've got a lot of work to do, as Democrats, and as a country, to make sure this doesn't happen again.

COLLINS: Yes. Jamal Simmons, Scott Jennings, as always, thank you both, but especially on a Friday night.

I should note prosecutors, in Georgia, have just submitted August 5th, 2024, another campaign, potentially updating how this could affect the upcoming election. They say August 5th, 2024, is when prosecutors, in Georgia, want Donald Trump's election interference trial, there, to start.

Of course, August 5th is exactly three months, before the election kicks off. It's also two and a half weeks, after the Republican Nominating Convention, where Trump could very well be anointed his party's presidential nominee. We don't know yet.

Fulton County District Attorney, Fani Willis, has already said that this trial could go on, for a very long time.


FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY, GA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I believe the trial will take many months. And I don't expect that we will conclude until the winter or the very early part of 2025.


COLLINS: Of course, this is also a trial that is expected to be televised because it's happening in state court, not in federal court. Trump's lawyers, tonight, say they are going to oppose this date.

I'm joined now by the former U.S. Attorney, for the Middle District of Georgia, Michael Moore.

Michael, thank you for being here.


COLLINS: Obviously, this is all up to the Fulton County Judge, Scott McAfee. God bless him. We'll see what he decides here, to set this trial date. Does it seem like a reasonable timeframe, to you, to start in August, in a trial, in a case that is as expansive as this one?

MOORE: Well, I'm glad to be with you.

I will just say, I think it's probably one of the most unreasonable requests that I've seen, lately, coming from the D.A.'s office, in this case. Now, there is a lot of noise, around trying to have a case that's not political. And I've heard the D.A. say that, they don't take the politics, into play, others (ph). That's just not reality.

[21:25:00] And to somehow try to take this case, a case which they have acknowledged will last some five months or more, and the judge thinks maybe eight months, and to pull the Republican candidate off the campaign trail, or required to sit in trial, basically rushing his case, compared to other defendants, who have been sitting in jail, waiting on trials, in Fulton County? I think, stinks kind of politics.

I'm not saying this that the public doesn't have a right, or an interest, in seeing the case done. But I just think it's unlikely.

Given the trial schedule that's already set, in courts, all over the country now? I think there're three or four trials set next year, already. And to somehow suggest this state trial should be horseshoed in, and shoehorned in rather, into the count, right, I just, think is not serious.

And I don't think it was a serious recommendation, any more than I thought taking 19 co-defendants to trial, at one time, was a serious recommendation. I think it's a lot of puffery. I think it maybe does good for people, who want to cheer on the local prosecutor in this thing.

But I don't believe it was a serious recommendation. And I just have to believe in my heart of hearts, surely, they knew that, when they asked the judge, to set the trial in August.

COLLINS: Well, his attorney, they don't agree. There, obviously Steve Sadow says they want to make their argument, against this date, in- person.


COLLINS: Why do you think it's important to them to do so in-person in front of Judge Scott McAfee?

MOORE: This kind of action falls right into Trump's trap. And I think the state fell into his trap here. And that is to make it look like it's a political persecution.

So, think about the optics of trying to make him sit, in a courtroom, while you're letting the Democratic presidential candidate, run around the country, and campaign, and talk about how bad the former President was. So, it plays into his optics. And he has seen, most of these trials, as much campaign as he has courtroom.

And so, I think they want to get out in front of it. They want to talk publicly about it. And they want to sort of make that argument, to the public, especially since these hearings are televised, in the state court. So, it gives them basically free media, all over the world, to talk about how he's been mistreated.

And that has been we've seen, at least based on the polling, or otherwise, we've seen that's been red meat, for his supporters. So, this is just a chance for them to throw him a big steak.

COLLINS: Yes. I was texting with a former Trump cabinet member, who no longer is a big fan of his, who said that it would only help him. We'll see what the judge decides here.

Michael Moore, thank you, for your time.

MOORE: It's great to be with you.

COLLINS: Elon Musk, tonight, is facing major blowback, for some of his site's -- from some of his site's biggest advertisers, after he posted an anti-Semitic conspiracy. Disney, Paramount, IBM, many others. The White House is even weighing in, and condemning the post. That story, right after a quick break.



COLLINS: An anti-Semitic conspiracy theory that inspired the deadliest attack, against Jewish people, here in the U.S., has now been publicly endorsed, by Elon Musk, a man with one of the biggest megaphones on the planet.

He shared the message, on Twitter, with more than 160 million of his followers, prompting some of the world's biggest companies, to tell the social media platform, tonight, that they have had enough.

Musk, on Wednesday, wrote this, quote, "You have said the actual truth." That was in response to a post that claimed Jewish communities support, and I'm quoting now, "hatred against whites." That same conspiracy theory inspired the Tree of Life massacre. That was the one, where a gunman murdered 11 people, as they were praying, at that synagogue, in Pittsburgh, back in 2018.

Now tonight, after that post, Disney, Warner Brothers Discovery, which owns CNN, and Paramount Global, have all announced that they are suspending their advertising, on the site. That comes as well as prominent movie studio, Lionsgate and IBM.

All of this is happening as the Anti-Defamation League says the anti- Semitic incidents have risen nearly 400 percent, since Hamas attacked Israel, on October 7th.

Here tonight, CNN's Senior Media Reporter, Oliver Darcy.

Oliver, you've been covering Elon Musk, and his takeover of Twitter, for a long time. Does this feel different to you?

OLIVER DARCY, CNN SENIOR MEDIA REPORTER: Yes. This feels a lot different. I mean, it seems like there's an exodus, if you will, over this extreme rhetoric that you're seeing, from Elon Musk, endorsing this anti-Semitic conspiracy theory, this really frankly, dangerous conspiracy theory. As you said, it's led to actual real-world violence. And so, you're seeing that.

And then, you're also seeing the separate report that came out, this week, from the progressive media watchdog, Media Matters, where it showed that blue-chip advertisers, like Disney, like Apple, were seeing their ads, adjacent to actual neo-Nazi content, on X that's really saturated, the platform, since Elon Musk took over and removed all the guardrails.

And so, this confluence of events has really created an environment, where advertisers don't want to touch this place, with a 10-foot pole. They think -- they want out. And you're seeing now, on a Friday night, of course, all these advertisers come out, big brands, what they really need, saying they've had enough. They're getting their advertisements off X.

COLLINS: Our friend, Kara Swisher, posted a list of infamous anti- Semites, and wrote, "There's no genius that excuses this endless parade of toxic anti-Semitic nonsense."

This isn't the first time we've seen Elon Musk post things, like this, amplify conspiracies, like this, especially about Jewish people. I mean, do you think that he's gotten away with it for so long, because of who he is?

DARCY: I'm not actually sure why he's gotten away with it, to be quite honest. I mean, he has posted, frankly, some of the most conspiratorial, deranged, unhinged rhetoric and conspiracy theories on X. And advertisers have, quite frankly, they've been silent for a long time.

I mean, earlier this year, he was attacking George Soros, a man who is of Jewish descent, and has been attacked for that. And he wrote on Twitter, at the time, that George Soros wants to quote, "Erode the very fabric of civilization. Soros hates humanity." And that was condemned by the Anti-Defamation League, at the time.

COLLINS: And he's also in this huge fight with the ADL.

DARCY: Right, with the ADL. He's smeared the ADL. He demonized the ADL, really threatened them, in a number of ways, for just pointing out that hate speech has risen, on the platform, since he took over, a finding that a lot of other groups have also come to the same conclusion as well.

And so, I'm not sure why advertisers have taken this long. But finally, I think maybe Elon Musk, with that tweet, this week, where he endorsed this theory himself, he really took the mask off. And, I think, at this point, it's very untenable --

COLLINS: And he seemed to --

DARCY: -- for them to have this relationship.


COLLINS: -- respond to it, a bit tonight, about all of this, saying that he's suspending anyone, from X, as it's now called, from -- that advocates the genocide, of any group. I mean, that is not addressing the post that he said that "You speak the truth," basically, pouring gasoline, as we're already seeing a rise in anti-Semitism, in the U.S.

DARCY: It's just gross. And, experts have warned, of course, that this, these anti-Semitic rise could lead to real-world violence. It has, in the past. And you have Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, endorsing it. And let's not forget, too, that not only has he endorsed this theory, but he has allowed white supremacists, actual bigots, back on the platform.

Under previous ownership, there were rules that suspended and banned these people. He's allowed them back on the platform, welcomed them back. And the platform is now really drenched, in a lot of hate speech. And you're seeing Elon Musk, as well, promote this hate speech. We're also seeing this, on the platform.

And so, it's a terrible environment. It's obviously very dangerous. And the posts he's posting, tonight, really don't account for it at all. I mean, it's just simply not enough.

COLLINS: Yes. No responsibility.


COLLINS: Oliver Darcy, thank you very much.

Also, tonight, we are on the ground, in Israel, where families of hostages, who were kidnapped, by Hamas, are marching, from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, with supporters in tow, as they demand that the Israeli government do more, to get their loved ones home.

I'm going to speak to a member of Israel's Knesset, on where those negotiations stand, right after this.



COLLINS: As Israel is preparing to potentially expand its military operation, to southern Gaza, there's a growing concern, tonight, among the civilians about where if anywhere is safe.

There are some 900 U.S. citizens, legal residents, and their families, who are currently in Gaza.

We know that 750 or so have escaped through the Rafah Crossing, into Egypt. That includes Zakaria Alarayshi, and his wife, Laila, who arrived back, in the United States, just last week.

And Zakaria is here with me tonight.

I just want to say, I'm so grateful that you and your wife are safe, and that you're joining me, tonight. I know that you -- the two of you went to Gaza, to visit family. And then, all of a sudden you're trapped, in the middle of a war. Can you just describe what you saw?

ZAKARIA ALARAYSHI, ESCAPED GAZA WITH HIS WIFE: I see all -- I see stuff I never seen my life. I see -- I see bomb. I see people die. I see building down. I see, everything is bad. That's what I see.

And when I was home? I have home, back home. And they ask us to move, to different place. And I moved to different place. And it still is not safe. It was next to my -- somebody house, when I go, my wife's cousin brother, this was big noise and bomb next to us. And it scared us. It scared the kids. I -- you will not believe how strong was the noise.

COLLINS: I mean?

ALARAYSHI: And I speak up (ph) today. I was connected with my embassy, in Jerusalem, and they take all my information, and they told me, "We'll call you back." I don't know what's happened. They never called me back. And I tried to call my son here, Yahya (ph), and he called -- he find out, to call Rashida, or anybody, can help us, to get out. And Rashida worked for us, or Rashida Tlaib. She helped us.

COLLINS: Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, yes.

ALARAYSHI: Yes. And take little bit time. It was bad situation. No water. No food. No -- nothing. I was buy water, from the store. And I go buy more, there is no more water. No more food.

COLLINS: So, how did you --

ALARAYSHI: I used to leave to --

COLLINS: How did you eventually get out?

ALARAYSHI: Tlaib contacted with the -- with -- with the Congress. They called me from Washington, D.C. They called me, "You have to go to the border." And I go like five times. I spent all day over there, was the border closed. And she worked. She add my name, in the list.

COLLINS: I know you still have family, in Gaza, two of your children, seven of your grandchildren, tonight.


COLLINS: Are you able to even -- have you heard from them?

ALARAYSHI: That's why I want to, talking now about my kids, my daughter kids, and my son kids. They over there, I tried to call him, like 10 times. They answer one time, like I see what's happening.

They're crying every day for me, "Take us. Take us. Please take us, Dad." And I say, "I try to do my best." And I try to find somebody to help me now, because it's not safe. There is no food, no water. And I cry every day, for my kids. And I need my kids to, please, here very soon.

COLLINS: I can't even imagine the pain that you must feel over that, and the helplessness to a degree.

And Zakaria, I'm so sorry, for what you've been through, for what you and your family have been through.

ALARAYSHI: Thank you.

COLLINS: And we'll stay in touch with you, to hear about your kids and as you are still trying to get them out of Gaza. Thank you, for your time, tonight.

ALARAYSHI: No problem. You are welcome. Thank you.

COLLINS: His family, in Gaza, also the hostages, as their families deeply worried about them tonight. We'll get an update, from an Israeli official, right after this.



COLLINS: Tonight, CNN is told that negotiations are still ongoing, to free the more than 200 hostages, that are still being held, by Hamas. Sources tell us that one demand that Hamas has made, is for Israel to stop flying those surveillance drones, over Gaza, during what would be a break, in the fighting, should they agree to one.

Among the hostages is Emily Hand. Today, a new billboard went up, in Times Square, showing this heartbreaking message that "Today is Emily's 9th birthday," and her 41st "as a hostage."

Joining me, tonight, is a member of Israel's Knesset, and a former Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon.

Ambassador, thank you, for being here.

Obviously, people, like Emily Hand's father, a lot of other families, who are still worried about their loved ones, tonight. What is the biggest sticking point, in the negotiations, right now?

AMB. DANNY DANON, FORMER ISRAELI DEPUTY DEFENSE MINISTER: Kaitlan, we are dealing with a very cynical organization that is being led by a psychopath. Yahya Sinwar, he doesn't care about the kids, the children in Gaza, or all the children he is keeping there, from the hostages.

The people of Israel are watching very carefully. The families that are marching to Jerusalem, they will arrive to Jerusalem, tomorrow.

And every time we think we have some kind of agreement, they come up with new demands.

I think, for us, the most crucial part is that we bring back the children, and the mothers. And today, we hear that Hamas is not willing to bring back the entire families. I'll give you an example. Two -- twin sisters, 3-year-old Emma and Yuli, we cannot leave one of them behind, and bring one of the sisters back to Israel.


So, those kinds of issues are being raised all the time. And he knows, Yahya Sinwar that for us it's very important. But at the same time, we cannot accept the fact that he wants to play with our emotions.

COLLINS: So, you're saying Hamas wants to split up some of the families, not necessarily give Israel back the list that it gives to Hamas. The other thing we're told that Hamas wants is for Israel to not fly those drones, over Gaza, if there's a pause. Is that something Israel is open to considering stopping?

DANON: Well, I cannot go into specifics. But we're willing to do a lot, to bring back home, the kidnapped hostages, 40 days in prison, in the tunnels. Every day, we see videos.

COLLINS: But are you willing to do that?

DANON: So, we are negotiating a lot of things we are not happy with. I cannot give you the details of what we agree or don't agree. But we are willing to pay a heavy price, including releasing prisoners, here in Israel, who committed horrible crimes, against the Israelis. But every time, we think there is like a breakthrough, they come up with new demands.

COLLINS: OK. So, Israel is willing to release some of those prisoners that are being held in Israel, Hamas prisoners.

The other thing that Israel announced today is that they're allowing limited fuel deliveries, into the Gaza Strip. We saw the first two go in. But we've now heard, Israeli government ministers want to meet, they want to talk about that decision. Some people in the cabinet were unhappy about it.

Do you have any expectation that it will be reversed? Or do you think that will stay in place?

DANON: Well, there is serious debate about it, because we feel that we give all day long, and we don't receive anything in return. And we hear a lot about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza. But we don't deal anything about the humanitarian crisis, in Israel, mainly regarding the families, of those that are being held in Gaza, today.

So, the government decided, the cabinet decided to allow fuel to go in. And we know that it will not go to hospitals. We know that Hamas, whatever is coming into Gaza, they are taking it. So, it's a challenge, because they will use the fuel to re-fuel the rockets that they will send them into Israel. They will use it for ventilation of the tunnel, where they're hiding.

So, it's a debate. I don't think it could be reversed. But I think we should expect to receive something, even a Red Cross visit to the hostages, or videos, proof of life. We haven't got anything.

COLLINS: Well that's something that you believe the Prime Minister should have -- I mean, the fuel has already gone in, at least part of it. It's supposed to be daily deliveries. Should he have gotten that in return, before they sent the fuel in, is your argument?

DANON: There should be no free lunch for those terrorists. And those countries, who are pushing us, including our allies, in the U.S. and Europe? When they come to us, we should tell them "Yes, we are willing to do it. But we have to get something in return." So, I would expect them, the negotiators, to apply more pressure, on Hamas, and not to apply light pressure, only on Israel.

COLLINS: Ambassador, one central issue here has been what we have seen, what the world has seen, from Israel, as far as allegations it's made, about the Al-Shifa Hospital, saying that there is a sprawling command center, initially, under there. There was a massive 3D briefing that the IDF did.

So far, they have shown one tunnel entrance. We're showing it here. It's a tunnel shaft that they say, it's about 100 meters or so, from the -- or 30 meters or so, from the hospital.

Is Israel going to release evidence, to back up its claims, that there is this sprawling command center, underneath the Al-Shifa Hospital?

DANON: Well, first, Kaitlan, I beg to differ with you. I think we proved already that Al-Shifa, it's not a hospital. It's a military base. I never saw a hospital, where you have tunnels, beneath the hospital, or you have in the cupboards, you have AK-47, or in that MRI room, you find grenades, so.

And then, I can tell you something more than that, that we have evidence that we haven't revealed yet that many hostages were brought into Al-Shifa Hospital. And it was not that they came there, to receive medical treatment. So, it was headquarter of Hamas. That's why they're trying to stop us, from conducting the investigation. And the more we look into it, we find more evidence.

COLLINS: And so, where are those hostages? Because so far, all we've learned is that the IDF has found the bodies of two hostages, since they've gone into that Al-Shifa complex. Where are the other hostages that you say Hamas took there?

DANON: Well, I would assume that they were transferred through the tunnels, to another location.


Because we took the time? We spoke with the hospital, before we came in. We asked them what they need. They knew that we are coming in, and that allowed them to transfer the hostages, and unfortunately, to kill the -- you know, we see every day, horrible videos that Hamas is releasing, where you see people that are being killed, by the hand of Hamas, who were held in the area of Al-Shifa Hospital.

COLLINS: Ambassador Danon, thank you, for staying up late, for us. Appreciate your time, tonight.

DANON: Thank you very much, Kaitlan.

COLLINS: And we'll be back, in just a moment.


COLLINS: Tonight, CNN is learning that Rosalynn Carter has now entered hospice care, at her home, in Georgia. In May, we learned that the 96- year-old former first lady had been diagnosed, with dementia. In a new statement, from the Carter Center, we found out that she, and her husband, former President Jimmy Carter, are spending time, with each other, and their families.

Former President, Jimmy Carter, of course is 99. He transitioned to hospice care, nine months ago.

The Carters have been married for 77 years. They are the longest married presidential couple, in U.S. history. We are thinking of them, and their family, tonight.

Thank you so much, for joining us, each and every night, this week.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST, CNN NEWSNIGHT WITH ABBY PHILLIP: Did a judge just suggest that Donald Trump is actually above the law? That's tonight, on "NEWSNIGHT."

Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip, in Washington.