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The Source with Kaitlan Collins
Hunter Biden Facing Nine Criminal Charges In Federal Tax Case; GOP Rivals Attack Haley, Leave Absent Trump Alone; Texas Judge Grants Emergency Abortion Despite State Ban. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired December 07, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: There was a moment of silence, at 7:55 AM, the moments the first bombs fell. More than 2,300 servicemen were killed, in the attack, a date that then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt, famously said, "Will live in infamy."
That's it for us. The news continues. THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS starts now. I'll see you, tomorrow.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: Tonight, straight from THE SOURCE.
Donald Trump, in court, today, as he prepares to take the stand again, as one of his own lawyers is acknowledging that she's telling him not to do it.
Plus, a judge, granting one woman an emergency abortion request, in Texas, the first case of its kind since the fall of Roe versus Wade. But tonight, the Texas Attorney General is threatening to go after her doctor.
Also, we're following dramatic new images that are coming out of Gaza, as Israel is rounding up what appears to be dozens, in a mass detention, all stripped, down to their underwear.
I'm Kaitlan Collins. And this is THE SOURCE.
We begin with the breaking news, tonight, as the Justice Department has now filed a new criminal case, against the President's son, Hunter Biden. We just got the details of this nine-count indictment, returned by a federal grand jury. According to the Special Counsel, David Weiss, the President's son engaged in a four-year tax scheme.
CNN's Evan Perez broke this story.
Evan, walk us through what we are seeing in these nine charges.
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kaitlan, this is a 56-page indictment that has been returned, by a grand jury, in Los Angeles, which is where Hunter Biden lives, just outside of Los Angeles.
We're talking about three felony counts, felony tax counts. Six of these counts are misdemeanor tax counts. And what prosecutors say is that Hunter Biden engaged in a four-year scheme, to evade taxes, not paying his taxes, from 2016 to 2019. There were about $1.4 million that he was supposed to have paid, and failed to pay, during that period.
Now, during this period, according to prosecutors, he was spending all this money, on luxury goods, on his personal expenses. He was using a company that he owned, to essentially take money out, and pay for things, including a very healthy habit, apparently, on adult entertainment.
He was spending 100 -- more than $188,000, according to prosecutors on adult entertainment, during this period. There are things here listed, tax deductions that he attempted to claim, for things like wages, which ended up going to women that he was involved in, including, for example, a $10,000 membership, in a sex club.
These are the things that prosecutors allege Hunter Biden used his money for, instead of paying these taxes.
Now this is, again, we're going through these documents that were filed, just this evening. We knew, Kaitlan that this was coming, obviously, because prosecutors, David Weiss, the Special Counsel had telegraphed that this was coming, after this plea deal had collapsed, several months ago.
But we also knew that he was collecting evidence, from witnesses. We knew that they had brought in witnesses, to testify and to provide evidence, to that grand jury, in Los Angeles, in the last few weeks. So today now, we finally see these charges.
COLLINS: Well, and Evan, you mentioned that plea deal that was supposed to happen that Hunter Biden walked into court that day, I believe, it was in August, thinking it was--
COLLINS: --it was going to be signed off on, by that judge.
But remind us just how we are still seeing the continued fallout, right now, from what happened that day in court.
PEREZ: Right. I mean, for Hunter Biden, this has to be one of the most frustrating parts of this experience.
Obviously, he was minutes, minutes away, from having this entire ordeal put behind him. And instead, he's now facing these charges, all because a judge asked some very frankly appropriate questions.
She simply asked whether Hunter Biden, and his lawyers, understood what the terms of these deals -- of this deal entailed. And everything sort of fell apart, after his lawyer said, essentially, "We don't have a deal anymore, Your Honor." And so, that's how we are here.
This was going to be put to bed with a simple, a misdemeanor deal, right? He was going to plead guilty to a misdemeanor.
And if you remember, he was also being investigated, for buying a gun, during a time that he was prohibited, according to the federal government. He is facing, Kaitlan, those separate charges still, in the State of Delaware, again, federal charges, for owning a gun, during the time he was prohibited.
COLLINS: Yes, I mean, two remarkable indictments here.
Evan, as you read through this lengthy document? I know you just -- it just came out. We just got this after you broke this story.
COLLINS: Is there anything? To be clear in here, because I know this is the next question that's going to be asked on Capitol Hill. Is there anything in here that ties back to the behavior of President Biden himself?
PEREZ: Right, there's nothing in this -- in these 56 pages that relate to the President of the United States.
All of this has to do with Hunter Biden, who was struggling with substance abuse. He has said himself that he was addicted to drugs, during this period, he was not paying attention to his personal affairs, obviously, had a very personal, very messy personal life, as detailed in these documents.
And none of this, though, goes to any of the allegations that Republicans have been making, that there was some kind of deal, between Hunter Biden, paying money that he was getting, from his business deals, overseas, to the President or, to the then-Vice President, and now the President of the United States, his father, right? There's nothing in here on that.
Of course, hey, Kaitlan, you and I know, this is not going to satisfy Republicans, who still have a lot of questions. And if you, of course, know, they have subpoenaed Hunter Biden, to appear, next week, here in Washington.
Hunter Biden has said he will appear, but only if he gets to testify publicly. They're asking for a behind-the-scenes deposition. So, there's a bit of a standoff over how that might go forward, in the next few days, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: We'll continue to track that.
Evan Perez, great reporting, thank you for that.
And for more on breaking down what's in this indictment, CNN's -- former federal prosecutor, and CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig, is here.
And Elie, I mean, this is just remarkable to think that the President's son could be on trial, next year, for two separate matters--
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY: Right.
COLLINS: --as his dad is running for reelection.
HONIG: Yes. And the stakes are much higher now, with this new indictment than they were before, on the tax counts, out of California.
The original deal or near-deal that they had that Evan just alluded to, that fell apart, only would have charged Hunter Biden, with failure to pay his taxes, which is a misdemeanor.
Now, we're into felonies. There's three felonies here, because of evasion and fraud. And the difference is, if you owe taxes, but you intentionally don't pay, just a misdemeanor, you're not going to jail, in all likelihood.
If you're convicted of a felony, because as this indictment alleges, there was specific fraud? They allege Hunter Biden intentionally took steps to try to fool essentially tax collectors. Now you're into felony territory. It's much more serious. If he gets convicted here, the guidelines will recommend a prison sentence of some nature.
COLLINS: Well, and you were looking through this. I mean, they break down--
COLLINS: --on the one page, the summary of the expenses. They look at his bank accounts. One of them that Evan was referencing, it says payments to various women. And it says that over, from 2016 to 2019, it totaled $683,000, adult entertainment over those -- that same time period, $188,000.
COLLINS: I mean, why is that something that they're looking at, when it comes to how he paid his taxes?
HONIG: Right, so, enormous figures, definitely going to gather some attention, because of the salacious nature.
But here's why it's legally relevant, because the allegation is he made these payments that had nothing to do with his business, and he tried to claim them as business expenses, which is a fairly common way that people commit tax fraud.
And so, the allegation here is that he did that to the tune of $1.4 million or so. And as a result, he's looking at vastly more serious charges, now in California, than he almost pled guilty to, couple months ago.
COLLINS: Just remarkable.
Elie, stick around, though.
COLLINS: Because we have a lot of legal developments that we're following tonight.
And speaking of courtrooms, it was appearance number nine, for Donald Trump, at his civil fraud trial, here in New York, today. All of this is what's leading up to what we believe will be his 10th appearance, on Monday. That is when the former President is expected to take the witness stand, once again.
His lawyer says that she is advising him, not to testify, given that gag order that has since been reinstated.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALINA HABBA, TRUMP ATTORNEY: He still wants to take the stand, even though my advice is, at this point, you should never take the stand with a gag order. But he is so firmly against what is happening in this court.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: But Donald Trump is Donald Trump, which means he often dispenses of the legal advice that he is given. His own former lawyers will tell you that.
This comes, especially now as he is on what he sees as a mission, to save his company, and really, his entire brand. We are told that he will take the stand, again, in his own defense, on Monday, as this civil trial is getting close to its end.
Trump watched today, as his legal team questioned its final expert witness.
And for someone, who watched all of that happen, CNN's Kara Scannell was in the courtroom.
Elie Honig, also back here with us.
Carrie -- Kara, I just want to see what, you know, Trump was obviously not on the witness stand, not talking, today. But he did a lot of talking, outside of court.
So, just for everyone, who wasn't watching the courthouse closely, today, this is what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: This whole case is a fraud. It's election interference. It's keeping me here instead of Iowa and New Hampshire.
And I should be, right now, in Iowa and New Hampshire, South Carolina. I shouldn't be sitting in a courthouse. And I don't have to sit here. I could just do whatever -- whatever I want to do. But I want to make sure that you get the true story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: To be clear, he did not have to be there. He was a spectator, today.
But, I mean, what happened in the courtroom?
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's interesting. He's attended nine days of this civil fraud trial. Today was the first day he attended any of the defense's case, so his own case that he was putting on.
And he chose to come when they put on their final expert witness, a professor of accounting, at New York University. And his testimony was probably the most unequivocal of any of the witnesses that Trump has put on, his strongest witness, in a sense.
And he testified without hesitation, he said, he reviewed all these documents, reviewed testimony, he said that there was no evidence whatsoever of accounting fraud. He said, there were no material or important misstatements, on the financial statements.
And these, again, are the ones that the judge has already found to be fraudulent. And so, the judge interrupted the questioning, and said to him, "Is your testimony that the Attorney General's case is without merit?" And he said, "Absolutely, that is what my opinion is." So, really favorable testimony to the former President. But, as you know, the judge has already found that these financial statements are fraudulent.
And what Trump is doing, in this case, they have been pretty open about it is that they're working toward laying the grounds, for an appeal, because they expect the judge will rule against them, on these remaining six claims. And they're initially appealing his original findings.
So, a good day of testimony, for Trump, to sit there, and listen to, and to come out, and be able to talk about, because it was squarely in his favor.
This person will be on the witness stand, again tomorrow.
COLLINS: Does the judge buy that? How does the judge see that testimony?
HONIG: So first of all, that piece of testimony, the expert saying there's no fraud? That's technically improper. That's the ultimate issue. That's up to the judge, or in some cases, not this one, the jury. What is proper, for an expert, like this, to say is "Well, they followed established accounting procedures."
But what do you do if you're the judge, and you have conflicting experts, like we do here? Some experts, for the A.G.'s office, said there's mass fraud. This guy's saying, there's no fraud. This is what fact-finders do. You have to decide who you're crediting, based on the person's qualifications, based on how plausible their testimony is, based on commonsense, based on the underlying support for it.
And so, I don't think it's much of a mystery how this judge is going to come out, because as Kara said, he's already found there was repetitive, pervasive fraud. So, I don't think he's going to -- maybe he was so persuaded by this witness that will completely change his mind. But it seems unlikely to me.
COLLINS: Well and the what -- the witness is also totally dismissing how the judge, or what the finding was, of the size of the Trump apartment, that was we all could see vastly inflated.
SCANNELL: Right. And, I mean, when Trump testified, he even admitted on the stand that that was a mistake, in their financial statements, because for several years, it said that it was three times the size, meaning three times the value than it actually was. So, Trump admitted that that was a mistake.
This witness saying that that was an error, but he said it wasn't fraudulent, because he said that errors like that happen. Because these are personal financial statements, they're not audited financial statements, he was trying to draw a distinction there, saying there are different accounting rules that govern those, than other ones. And that they all said all these disclaimers, a lot of these arguments, the judge has already rejected.
COLLINS: Kara Scannell, Elie Honig, legal drama, tonight. Thank you both for being here.
HONIG: More to come.
COLLINS: Also tonight, keep watching, because on "LAURA COATES LIVE," former Attorney General, Eric Holder, is going to be joining her, to discuss all of these big legal stories, and much more. That'll be at 11 PM Eastern.
In the meantime, there was a historic ruling, in a state that has one of the strictest abortion laws, in the nation, Texas. A pregnant woman, forced to sue for an emergency abortion, at 20 weeks, she won that case. But tonight, the Texas Attorney General is offering a new warning, to her doctor.
Plus, Israeli soldiers, detaining dozens of men, who were stripped to their underwear, in Gaza. More on what we are learning about this dramatic scene, right after this.
COLLINS: Fresh off of a $500,000 fundraiser, and pulling in some powerful endorsements, it's clear who 2024 Republican candidates see as a major threat, at least at this point, in the race, other than Donald Trump, of course.
Former South Carolina governor, Nikki Haley, found herself, at the center of attacks that she was fending off, or ignoring, in Vivek Ramaswamy's case, last night, during the debate.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
VIVEK RAMASWAMY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I don't have a woman problem. You have a corruption problem. And I think that that's what people need to know. Nikki is corrupt.
NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: It's not worth my time to respond to him.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Her donors, these Wall Street liberal donors, they make money in China. They are not going to let her be tough on China. And she will cave to the donors. She will not stand up for you.
HALEY: He's mad, because those Wall Street donors used to support him. And now, they support me.
I love all the attention, fellas. Thank you for that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Here tonight, to break down that fiery debate, two political veterans. Van Jones, a former Obama administration official; and David Urban, Republican strategist, and former Trump campaign adviser, both CNN Political Commentators.
David, let me start with you.
DAVID URBAN, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST & FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN ADVISER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure.
COLLINS: Because obviously, this is very clearly a big moment, for Nikki Haley. We're watching this. I think the question is even if she's having a good performance, at the debates, she's -- her numbers are obviously going up, I mean, she's still a distant second for Donald Trump. Where does that leave her?
URBAN: Yes, it leaves her a distant second from Donald Trump, unfortunately, right?
I was just reviewing kind of the past history, right? My good friend, Rick Santorum, in 2012, was in the single digits, and headed into Iowa, and surprised everybody with his upset win, over Mitt Romney.
And maybe she's hoping for some of that mojo, to kind of rub off, and move forward, and come from behind victory that short of something miraculous, like that, Donald Trump's going to be the victor here, in the Iowa caucuses, at least it appears that way, at this point. And then, he's going to head into New Hampshire, very strong, and he's going to head to South Carolina, very strong.
So, I think her performance, last night was exemplary. She should thank Vivek Ramaswamy and Ron DeSantis. They make her look tough. She gets to punch them in the nose, every debate, and look tougher. And her standing, they're going to continue to increase.
And listen, if something happens, if Trump stumbles along the way, she will be, you know, she's standing there ready to go. But short of a big stumble, Kaitlan, I don't know how she gets in front of him.
COLLINS: Yes, I think we're watching, also, to see what happens, in her home state.
And Van, at one point, in this debate, as we were watching this, you saw Chris Christie, who was standing to her left? We kind of saw this divide, in the stage. It was Ron DeSantis and Vivek Ramaswamy on this side. Nikki Haley and Chris Christie. And he stood up to defend her, at one point. He said this.
VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR, FORMER OBAMA ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL: Powerful, yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: And while we disagree about some issues, and we disagree about who should be President of the United States, what we don't disagree on is, this is a smart, accomplished woman. You should stop insulting her.
RAMASWAMY: So, I want to take this--
(AUDIENCE CHEERS & APPLAUSE)
RAMASWAMY: -- I want to take--
(END VIDEO CLIP)
JONES: And you saw the crowd reacting, because Vivek Ramaswamy is like kindergarten during COVID, no class, no class. And--
COLLINS: I was wondering where you were going with that.
JONES: Yes. And I thought Chris Christie was at his best, because he was standing up to the bully. And he was saying, "Leave her alone." Now, she didn't need to be rescued. She was holding her own.
But I don't think people like to see somebody, like a Vivek, who's never done anything -- never heard he -- ever voted for anybody, being personally insulting to someone, like her. She took it in a classy way. And I think that Chris Christie was -- it was a wonderful lesson.
COLLINS: Yes. And the question was, was it decency? Was it political strategy? But the other thing, David that, we saw last night, that was very clear, which was the attacks on Donald Trump. Obviously, that is Chris Christie's style. That was his modus operandi, when he got on the debate stage.
The question is for the others, who were not willing to go after Trump as directly. I mean, I think the furthest that Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis got was talking about the deficit.
How does -- how do you defeat the number one in the race if you don't talk about the number one in the race?
URBAN: Well that's Chris Christie's exact point, right? And so, DeSantis, and Nikki Haley and Ramaswamy, to the extent that he's going to, contend -- be a contender, they can't afford to alienate that base.
And so, they're very concerned about how far they can just push, because, obviously, Donald Trump's favorables, in the State of Iowa are very high. And if you speak ill of them, then you risk, getting blowback, on yourself. And so, it's a really tough tightrope to walk.
Chris Christie is alleging they're not even bothered to get on the tightrope, let alone walk across it. And so, he's the only one out there swinging, and swinging hard, and he's at 3 percent. So, I'm not quite sure that it's as an effective strategy, for him, or for anyone else.
So again, it's just a -- it's a tough thing, to see how somebody gets ahead of Donald Trump, at this point, at least in Iowa, in the early states.
COLLINS: Van, do you think that this ends up where we get a few months down the road, we get to the nomination, and there's regret, among those Republican candidates, who we saw in the 2016 field, they just thought that Trump would take care of himself, and so they didn't worry about attacking him.
COLLINS: And he got the nomination.
JONES: Well, listen, I mean, the Democratic Party, when the Establishment was facing down Bernie Sanders, they cleared the field. Once Biden won, everybody else got out.
Republicans just don't seem capable of doing that. Now, this is a more narrow field than you saw it in 2016. They've learned something. They haven't learned much.
And I think the other thing you see this rallying around Nikki, by the donor class, which they're trying to problematize? It's really the last gasp of the Establishment, trying to figure out some way, to hold this guy off. And Nikki is, she's got to appeal to the grassroots, but she's also got to appeal to them. Her fate is really the fate of the Establishment, in this party. COLLINS: Yes. And Donald Trump has been using that against her as well.
JONES: All of them.
COLLINS: Van Jones, as always, David Urban, thank you both, for being here.
URBAN: Thank you.
COLLINS: Up next, a House committee now launching an investigation, into Harvard, UPenn, MIT, after their presidents, under oath, and in front of the mics, failed to condemn anti-Semitism on college campuses. The backlash, mounting tonight.
COLLINS: Tonight, the presidents of three of the top universities, in the nation, find their schools, under a formal congressional investigation, after lawmakers said they weren't doing enough, to fight anti-Semitism, on their campuses.
All of them, now scrambling to save their jobs, potentially, after they were asked what seemed to be a pretty simple question, on Capitol Hill. Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate their school's Code of Conduct?
Seems easy enough to answer. But not for them, necessarily. Here's how they did respond to that question.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIZ MAGILL, UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA PRESIDENT: It is a context- dependent decision, Congresswoman.
REP. ELISE STEFANIK (R-NY): It's a context-dependent decision? That's your testimony today? Calling for the genocide of Jews is depending upon the context?
MAGILL: If it is -- if the speech becomes--
STEFANIK: Yes or no?
MAGILL: If the speech becomes conduct, it can be harassment, yes.
STEFANIK: Conduct meaning committing the act of genocide? The speech is not harassment?
MAGILL: It can be harassment.
STEFANIK: Dr. Gay, at Harvard, does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Harvard's rules of bullying and harassment? Yes or no?
CLAUDINE GAY, PRESIDENT OF HARVARD UNIVERSITY: It can be, depending on the context.
STEFANIK: What's the context?
GAY: Targeted as an individual -- targeted at an individual.
STEFANIK: It's targeted at Jewish students.
GAY: Harassment (ph).
STEFANIK: It does not depend on the context. The answer is yes. And this is why you should resign. These are unacceptable answers, across the board.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: Joining me, tonight, is the visiting scholar, at the Harvard Divinity School, Rabbi David Wolpe, who announced his resignation, today, from Harvard's Anti-Semitism Advisory Committee.
Rabbi, thank you, for being here, tonight.
RABBI DAVID WOLPE, VISITING SCHOLAR, HARVARD DIVINITY SCHOOL: Sure.
COLLINS: Just, can we just start with tell me why you've resigned.
WOLPE: I resigned because I came to the conclusion that I was not going to be able, to make the kinds of changes that I thought Harvard needed through that -- through the committee.
And, at a certain point, you realize that you have accountability without authority. That is, people are looking to you to say, "Look, why aren't these changes happening? You're on the committee." And if you don't think that you can actually make the changes, then the only honorable thing to do is to leave the committee.
COLLINS: And, I mean, following what we heard, just on Capitol Hill, this week?
COLLINS: You posted a long message about this.
What did you make of what the Harvard president had to say, in response to that straightforward question, from the lawmaker there?
WOLPE: I felt as though -- I watched hours of the committee hearing. I think that I probably watched more of it than most people did, for obvious reasons. And I thought that President Gay, and the other presidents, were constrained by a sort of legalese, and an equivocation that was difficult and painful to watch.
And that the kind of straightforward answer, that the person off the street would give, I think they felt unable to give, whether because the lawyers had told them they couldn't, or for some other reason. And so, I thought that this was going to be a bigger -- was just going
to be a bigger lift than I had imagined, I think, when I first came on the committee, and that there was a culture, at the universities, not only at Harvard, but at Harvard, in particular, which is where I was, on the committee, that was just not going to happen anytime soon.
I think that everybody, who watched the committee hearing, sort of, went like that as they listened to one after another after another, not be able to sort of straightforwardly condemn, what anybody in the street would straightforwardly condemn.
COLLINS: You wrote something that I thought was powerful, where you said, "Battling that combination of ideologies is the work of more than a committee or a single university. It is not going to be changed by hiring or firing a single person, or posting on X, or yelling at people who don't post as you wish when you wish, as though posting is the summation of one's moral character. This is the task of educating a generation, and also a vast unlearning."
COLLINS: What does that look like in practice?
WOLPE: So, in practice, that means that, like people who say, "Oh, obviously, to fix this, you just have to get rid of that person, or you just have to change this," they're underestimating the fact that this is a deep cultural pattern, the idea that there is a class of oppressors, and a class of oppressed, no matter where you go, or what you do. And therefore, you always know who's right and who's wrong in any conflict.
"And you can see Jews and Israelis, suffering, but they must be wrong, because after all, they're oppressors." This is a -- this is an ideology that pervades the universities, the elite universities, and many I would say, outside the university.
And they have to unlearn that ideology, and start to learn to see individuals as individuals, and understand that people have to be judged, the same way that they would wish to be judged. And that prejudice, on the left, is no better than prejudice, on the right, and that seeing a class of people as bad, no matter who they are, is intrinsically, intellectually lazy, and morally corrupt.
COLLINS: Rabbi David Wolpe, it was a powerful resignation statement. Thank you, for joining us, tonight. And Happy Hanukkah as well.
WOLPE: Happy Hanukkah.
COLLINS: Up next, as we noted, at the top of the hour, there's been a major abortion ruling, in a state that has almost totally banned the procedure. It's the first of its kind, since the fall of Roe versus Wade. But we're still hearing more, from the State's Attorney General, tonight. More on that in a moment.
COLLINS: Tonight, Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, is warning a doctor, who was authorized, by a judge, to perform an abortion that she could still face penalties for that.
The legal threat coming, after the judge ruled in favor of a pregnant woman, today, who had sued the state, to allow her doctor, to perform that abortion, despite the state's strict ban that has very few and narrow exceptions.
This is believed to be one of the first attempts, in the U.S., where someone is trying to get a court-ordered abortion, after the Supreme Court overturned Roe versus Wade.
In her lawsuit, Kate Cox, who was 20 weeks pregnant, said her unborn baby had been diagnosed with trisomy 18. It's a genetic abnormality that almost always has a fatality, means a fatality before birth, or soon after. Her doctor told her that her condition would not only put her life at risk, but also threaten her ability, to be able to have children, in the future.
Tonight, Kate Cox talked about what the judge's decision meant to her.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KATE COX, TEXAS WOMAN: It's a hard time, you know? Even with, you know, being hopeful with the decision that came from the hearing, this morning, there's -- there's still, we're going through the loss of a child. There's no outcome here that I take home, my healthy baby girl, you know? So, it's hard, you know?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: I'm joined now, by her attorney, Marc Hearron, who is the Senior Counsel for the Center for Reproductive Rights.
And, Marc, thank you, for being here, tonight.
I mean, you could hear just the emotion, in her voice there. What was her response, to what the judge ruled, today, after hearing the arguments from your side, and also obviously from the state, who was trying to block this from happening?
MARC HEARRON, SENIOR COUNSEL, CENTER FOR REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS: Well, first and foremost, relief, a relief that a judge heard what she is going through, and understood that Kate is someone, who very much wants to get pregnant, very much wants to expand her family, and wants to preserve her ability, to have kids, again, in the future.
And right now, the procedure that she needs, to be able to do so, is an abortion, because if she were to continue carrying her current pregnancy to term, and deliver, she is at significant risk of losing her future fertility. She is in -- she has health risks. Her life is at risk.
[21:40:00] And it was, you know, she's grateful that the court system heard that she needs an exception, under Texas law. Texas law is incredibly confusing. And the doctor's hands have been tied. And so, it's been incredibly frustrating for her, to go through this system, and now be told, as a lifelong Texan, that Texas law prevents you from getting the health care you need.
COLLINS: Yes. I saw where she said that she and her husband, they knew abortion was illegal. But they didn't know just how strict it was, when it came to the exceptions, until she needed one of those exceptions.
Marc, I wonder what you make of the Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, who came out, tonight, and was saying that the hospitals, the doctors, that they're not insulated, from civil and criminal liability, for violating that law, despite what the judge said, today, that this procedure can go forward.
HEARRON: Kaitlan, this is shameful.
The Attorney General, of the State of Texas, is telling everyone that that a judge's order, that a judge's injunction, is essentially meaningless, and that he's going to come after doctors and hospitals, and that they're exposing themselves to criminal liability, to the threat of lawsuits, to the loss of professional licenses, if they're following a judge's order.
We have a legal system in this country. We have rules. We have a rule of law. This is a democracy. And for the Attorney General, to come out and threaten hospitals, doctors and other people, for following a judge's order? It's shameful. I've never seen anything quite like it.
And to be honest, this is exactly why doctors, across the State of Texas, are terrified, of providing essential health care, to their patients. Because now suddenly, Ken Paxton is going to come along, and second-guess their decisions.
So now, what does every pregnant person, who needs an abortion, in the State of Texas, who needs to rely on the exceptions, going to come and ask Ken Paxton, "In your medical opinion, do I finally qualify for an abortion?" That's not how this system can work. It is unworkable. It is untenable. And the rule of law has got to be followed here.
COLLINS: Marc Hearron, what your client has been through here, it's just so painful. And to go through it, in such a public way is remarkable. Thank you, for coming on, tonight, to talk about that.
HEARRON: Thank you.
COLLINS: And for more perspective, on what women, in Texas, are facing, I'm joined here, by Dr. Megan Ranney, an ER doctor, and the Dean of the Yale School of Public Health.
It's not just women, in Texas. It's my home state of Alabama. It's a lot of states--
DR. MEGAN RANNEY, EMERGENCY PHYSICIAN, DEAN, YALE SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes.
COLLINS: --where they have these really strict exceptions.
What do you make of how the state, they're disputing her doctor, who found that she did need this, they believe, not just because the baby, but also for her own life, and her own future ability to conceive children.
RANNEY: Listen, at the end of the day, the choice to have an abortion is a medical decision, between a woman and a doctor.
In this case, in particular, you have a woman, who is a mom of two, who had a wanted pregnancy, who has been told that the fetus is not going to survive, or if it does survive, is going to die very soon after birth, and who has been told that her own health is at risk, by carrying this fetus to term.
She made a choice, with her doctor that the safest thing for her, and her family, is to terminate this pregnancy. And now, she's being told that she does not have autonomy over her body. And her physician is being told that they cannot follow their Hippocratic Oath to first, do no harm.
I will point out that lawyers are not doctors. Doctors are not lawyers. I don't play one ever, right? I will never try to make a legal decision. But I will help my patients make decisions about what's best for them, and then respect that choice. And in this case, neither the patient nor the physician is being allowed to do that.
COLLINS: And the state was arguing. I mean, there's a huge question of whether or not this forces the state to more clearly define what is allowed.
But the state was arguing, just last week, quote, "If a woman is bleeding or has amniotic fluid running down her leg, then the problem is not with the law. That is with the doctors... clearly [that] would qualify for the medical emergency exception. So, if she has to come to court to make that happen, that is not the state's fault."
That's from Paxton's office. What did you make of that?
RANNEY: As an ER doctor, I find that somewhat incredible.
I have taken care of countless women, who come in with ectopic pregnancies, who have pregnancy that's outside of their uterus that bursts and fills their abdomen with blood.
I have taken care of women, whose placenta have separated off from their uterus, they're literally bleeding out, threatening their own life.
COLLINS: They don't have time to go to court, is what you're saying?
RANNEY: They don't have time to go to court. And my job is to save their life. And to say that somehow we have to get a lawyer involved in that
moment, instead of doing what's necessary, to save her life, to protect her family, to protect her future ability to have children should she want it, is infuriating.
COLLINS: Dr. Ranney, I mean, it's just such a notable case here, and just the fact that she is actually pregnant, seeking this help. It's not a case, where we see where they go and ask for access. She's actually pregnant, and needs the help now.
Thank you, for helping us break it all down. Thank you for being here.
RANNEY: Thank you.
COLLINS: It's great to have you in-person.
RANNEY: It's a joy to be here.
And, of course, tonight, as we noted there, with the Rabbi, just a few minutes ago, Jews around the world are marking this first night of Hanukkah. It's a celebration of light, overcoming a lot of darkness that we're in right now. Hope shining in Israel, families of hostages lighting menorah candles, tonight.
Plus, we have big news, out of Gaza, really striking images, as this war against Hamas rages on. We'll tell you what you're looking at here, right after the break.
COLLINS: Tonight, exactly two months since the -- since Hamas viciously slaughtered Israelis, on October 7th. We're seeing stark new images from inside Gaza. This is in the southern city of Khan Yunis, people searching through the rubble, of a building, after an Israeli airstrike hit.
This fighting, in the war, is continuing to rage on, as these pictures emerged, today, of Israeli soldiers, standing over what appears to be a mass detention of men. You can see dozens of them were stripped to their underwear. They're kneeling on the street. They're all wearing blindfolds.
The exact circumstances, the dates of what is happening here, it's still unclear, tonight. We asked the Israel Defense Forces for comment. They have yet to respond to CNN, on what you're looking at, in these pictures.
I'm joined now by CNN Political and Foreign Policy Analyst, Barak Ravid, one of the best-sourced reporters, in the region. Barak, I should note, we geo-located these images. They are coming from northern Gaza. But what CNN is also hearing from, at least some of our sources that some of them are civilians, they have no known affiliation to a militant group.
What else have you learned about what we're seeing here?
BARAK RAVID, CNN POLITICAL & GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST, POLITICS & FOREIGN POLICY REPORTER, AXIOS: I think that's completely right, Kaitlan. And even, I think, the IDF is not saying that those are all Hamas militants that were arrested.
What happened, according to my understanding, is that this happened, as you said, in northern Gaza, where in parts of northern Gaza, there are still shelters, where civilians stay. And I think that what we see in those pictures are people that the IDF encountered in those areas, and looked at them as suspects.
And according to what I heard, from Israeli officials, some of them, who the IDF think have connections to Hamas, were taken, were arrested and taken into Israel. And the rest are still in Gaza. And it's unclear what exactly the IDF is going to do with them.
COLLINS: Yes. And they haven't said. But as we are seeing what's happening in the fighting, I mean, Barak, we did confirm today the son of a member, of the war cabinet, Israel's former top military commander, Lieutenant General Gadi Eizenkot, his son was killed, in northern Gaza.
I mean, one, it's a reminder of how most families in Israel either have or know soldiers, who are serving in the reserves, right now.
But what more are you learning, about the circumstances, around his death?
RAVID: What happened there was that his unit, which is a commando unit, was searching for tunnels, in the town of Jabalia, in northern Gaza. And when they encountered, the tunnel started excavating it, booby trapped, went off. And an IED went off. And he was badly hurt. He was taken with a helicopter to a hospital in Israel, but they couldn't save his life.
And one of the most tragic parts of this story was that his father, at the time, was at the headquarters, of Division 162. This is the division that his son's unit is part of that division. And while he was there, in the War Room, he got the update that his son was badly injured.
COLLINS: It's just -- and I should note, his name is Master Sergeant, Gal Eizenkot. And just obviously, speaks to how personal this is, for the people who are directing the war-fighting that you're seeing playing out.
And, speaking of the troops, Barak, we saw Prime Minister Netanyahu, visiting Israeli forces, today, on a call -- as he also had this call, his 16th, I should note, since October 7th, with President Biden. Had an incredibly long readout, talking about hostages, talking about protecting civilians in Gaza, talking about getting more aid to them.
What's your sense of why this is the first call that they had in a week and a half?
RAVID: Yes, I agree with you that it was -- when I -- when I heard -- when I first heard about this call, I said to myself, wow, that's -- they haven't spoken for several days now after that, in the first few weeks of the war, they spoke almost every day. And I think, now, it's been something like a week without them speaking.
I think the main reason that they spoke was the Israeli cabinet decision, yesterday, to increase the amount of fuel that Israel allows into Gaza. This came after quite strong pressure, from President Biden and his advisers.
And what was most interesting to me, in this readout that the White House put out, is that it said that Biden welcomed the Cabinet decision. But at the same time, he said, "This is not enough. We need to do much more."
And I think that the Biden administration understood that this is where it can go in, and have the most influence, on putting pressure on Israel, to get more humanitarian aid into Gaza, because it knows that the Israeli government knows that in order to get backing, from the Biden administration, it would have to do much more, on the humanitarian front.
COLLINS: Yes, which initially they resisted. But still, I mean, as we can see, from what's happening in Gaza, not even close to being enough.
Barak Ravid, thank you for that great reporting.
RAVID: Thank you, Kaitlan.
COLLINS: There's obviously a lot going on, in the world, tonight. We're continuing to track those updates.
There's also a lot of good happening in the world. Talk about CNN Heroes that you want to meet. That's right after a quick break.
COLLINS: For many of us, this time of year is about giving back. But for "CNN HEROES: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE" that salutes 10 extraordinary people, they put others first all year long.
The star-studded event appears live, this Sunday, at 8 PM Eastern, here on CNN. Here's a look of what you'll see.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sunday, on CNN.
ESTEFANIA REBELLON, YES WE CAN WORLD FOUNDATION: We provide bilingual education for migrant and refugee children, at the U.S.-Mexico border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Support the extraordinary people, making a difference in our world.
MIKE GOLDBERG, I.CARE: We are rebuilding the coral reefs here in the Florida Keys.
OSEI BOATENG, OKB HOPE FOUNDATION: I'm going to ensure that people in Ghana have access to health care.
DR. KWANE STEWART, PROJECT STREET VET: I see a pet in need, and a person who cares for them dearly.
ADAM PEARCE, LOVEYOURBRAIN: Trauma can be a pathway for growth.
ALVIN IRBY, BARBERSHOP BOOKS: We install child-friendly reading space in the Barbershop.
YASMINE ARRINGTON BROOKS, SCHOLARCHIPS: We all are connected because of the shared experience of having an incarcerated parent.
STACEY BUCKNER, OFF-ROAD OUTREACH: There should be no homeless vets. Period. None.
TESCHA HAWLEY, DAY EAGLE HOPE PROJECT: I don't want to be defined as a victim of my circumstances.
MAMA SHU, AVALON VILLAGE: I do want to make sure that they get all the attention and love that they deserve.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "CNN HEROES: AN ALL-STAR TRIBUTE" Sunday at 8 PM Eastern, on CNN.
COLLINS: It is going to be a great show, hosted by Anderson Cooper and Laura Coates. You don't want to miss it. I'm going to be there watching as well.
Thank you so much, for joining me, tonight. We'll be back, tomorrow night.
"CNN NEWSNIGHT WITH ABBY PHILLIP" starts, right now.