GEOFF BENNETT: Good evening.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On the "NewsHour" tonight: Israeli forces close in on Gaza City and deadly airstrikes continue, while the secretary of state travels the region to try and prevent escalation.
GEOFF BENNETT: Former President Donald Trump testifies in the New York fraud trial that could upend his family business.
AMNA NAWAZ: And one of the first formerly incarcerated state legislators reflects on her life's unlikely path, including breaking down barriers for people like her.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS (D-WA): I'm normalizing it for other people who don't have to live in shame anymore about their past and can say, yes, I did those things and I have changed.
(BREAK) AMNA NAWAZ: Welcome to the "NewsHour."
A staggering milestone today in Gaza the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry says 10,000 Gazans, including 4,000 children, have been killed since the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel on October 7.
Israel says its ground operation has now cut off Gaza City in the north from the rest of the Gaza Strip.
GEOFF BENNETT: And Secretary of State Antony Blinken left the region today after rare public disagreements with America's closest Arab allies.
He described his efforts to secure a humanitarian pause and the release of hostages as a -- quote - - "work in progress."
Nick Schifrin starts our coverage with another day of funerals in Gaza.
Some of the images in this report are disturbing.
NICK SCHIFRIN: The body of a child, the body whose burden falls on four adult men.
Gazans say one month of war has spared no one.
The Hamas-controlled Ministry of Health number, 10,000, is unprecedented, even for a small strip of land that has suffered six words in 15 years.
The latest victims today, Israel said it was targeting a Hamas commander.
MOHAMMED, Gaza Strip Resident (through translator): It was night.
I was just sitting there when the bombing happened.
They pulled us out from under the rubble.
You can see the children, young boys and girls.
They were all martyred.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Israeli airstrikes continued today, including on a building inside the Al Shifa Hospital compound, among the victims, a desperate man trying to save a child.
Israel accuses Hamas of hiding in hospitals and released new footage today of tunnels next to and underneath Gaza in the north.
But Israel is increasingly focused on its ground operation, approaching closer to Gaza City.
Soldiers in Northern Gaza also captured what used to be a Scouts headquarters for kids, where they said Hamas launched rockets.
Israeli forces are trying to encircle Gaza City from three axes, the northeast into Beit Hanoun, the northwest along the Mediterranean Sea, and across Central Gaza, cutting the strip in two.
REAR ADM. DANIEL HAGARI, Spokesperson, Israeli Defense Forces (through translator): The forces on the ground are advancing according to the operational plan, moving forward, increasing the pressure deep in Gaza City.
NICK SCHIFRIN: But across the region, Israel's campaign is sparking widespread protest.
Today, it was in Ankara, Turkey, and included demonstrators with swastikas.
They followed Secretary of State Antony Blinken's meeting with Turkey's foreign minister and Blinken's attempts to convince the region the U.S. cares about Palestinians.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. Secretary of State: We know the deep concern here for the terrible toll that Gaza is taking on Palestinians, on men, women and children in Gaza, innocent civilians, a concern that we share and that we're working on every single day.
We have engaged the Israelis on steps that they can take to minimize civilian casualties.
NICK SCHIFRIN: His Turkey visit capped a four-day regional tour... Good to see you.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, Israeli Prime Minister: Good to see you.
NICK SCHIFRIN: That began on Friday in Tel Aviv, where his requests to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a pause... ANTONY BLINKEN: We see this as a way of further facilitating the ability to get assistance in.
NICK SCHIFRIN: ... were publicly rejected.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU (through translator): Israel refuses any temporary cease-fire that does not include the return of our kidnapped hostages.
NICK SCHIFRIN: In Ramallah, Blinken discussed having the Palestinian Authority take over Gaza after the war.
But Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called it impossible without a completed two-state solution.
And, in Amman, a rare public disagreement between the United States and two of its top allies in the region, Jordan and Egypt.
AYMAN SAFADI, Jordanian Foreign Minister (through translator): In the Arab countries, we demand an immediate cease-fire and end to this war and what results from it, killing innocent people, destruction, and we reject its description as a self-defense.
ANTONY BLINKEN: A cease-fire now would simply leave Hamas in place, able to regroup and repeat what it did on October 7.
MARWAN MUASHER, Former Jordanian Foreign Minister: The United States needs to understand that it is being seen in the region as complicit in the killing.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Marwan Muasher is Jordan's former foreign minister.
He acknowledges that Arab leaders' public anger does not match their private diplomatic messaging.
But he says the space between private diplomacy and public rage is shrinking.
MARWAN MUASHER: And so the call for a cease-fire is not just to please public opinion.
It is real.
And it stems out of the fact that, if a cease-fire is not effected soon, and if conditions of war allow Israel to transfer Palestinians into Egypt or into Jordan, that is a real concern for Jordan and Egypt.
NICK SCHIFRIN: Israel denies any plan to transfer population.
But, today, in the area of Southern Gaza that Israel promised would be safer, Gazans say the bombs do not stop and that nowhere feels safe.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Nick Schifrin.
AMNA NAWAZ: In the day's other headlines Ukraine's southern port of Odesa came under heavy new Russian attacks overnight.
Local officials said drones and at least one missile targeted the city's grain warehouses and trucks.
An art museum that's part of a UNESCO World Heritage Site was also hit.
But officials said the collections were unharmed.
KYRYLO LIPATOV, Odesa National Fine Arts Museum (through translator): Some rooms close to the facade side of the building didn't hold up to the explosion.
The ceilings and walls sustained damage.
Fortunately, none of our exhibits were damaged.
The windows were covered from the inside with shutters and additional shields.
AMNA NAWAZ: Russia has ramped up attacks on Ukrainian ports since ending an agreement on grain shipments in July.
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Narges Mohammadi began a hunger strike in Iran today.
The women's rights advocate is in prison for allegedly spreading propaganda against the Islamic Republic.
An activist news agency reports she is protesting a lack of medical care.
It says she was denied heart and lung treatment for refusing to wear a headscarf.
In Northwest Nepal, aid is slowly reaching areas flattened by an earthquake Friday night that killed more than 150 people.
The epicenter was in a mountainous district 400 miles northwest of Kathmandu, where many villages are reachable only by foot.
Survivors spent another day clearing debris, despite a new aftershock.
Many were left without the most basic necessities.
NIRMALA SHARMA, Earthquake Survivor (through translator): Most of our belongings are under the rubble.
All our beds, clothes, whatever jewelry and money is all under there.
And we have not been able to get it out.
Finally, we got a tent and some food last night.
We had not had much to eat until then.
AMNA NAWAZ: Earthquakes are relatively common in Nepal.
One of the worst, in 2015, killed 9,000 people.
A second Denver area police officer has been acquitted of homicide and manslaughter in the death of Elijah McClain.
McClain in 2019 after being put in a neck hold by police and then injected with ketamine by paramedics.
A third officer was convicted of homicide in an earlier trial.
An Illinois man pleaded guilty to misdemeanors today after his son allegedly killed seven people at a Fourth of July parade.
Robert Crimo Jr. admitted to reckless conduct for getting the teenager a gun license, despite his threats of violence.
The younger Crimo is accused of opening fire at last year's Independence Day parade in Highland Park outside of Chicago.
He faces murder charges.
And on Wall Street, stocks made modest headway.
The Dow Jones industrial average gained 34 points to close at 34095.
The Nasdaq rose 40 points.
The S&P 500 added seven.
Still to come on the "NewsHour": young Gazans describe how the ongoing war has upended their lives; Tamara Keith and Amy Walter break down the latest political headlines; a war photographer discusses her new book, offering a personal look at the impact of conflicts; plus much more.
GEOFF BENNETT: A major player in Palestinian life is largely sidelined in this latest and bloodiest conflict, the Palestinian Authority.
Since it was evicted from Gaza by Hamas in 2007, the P.A.
has governed the parts of the West Bank it controls.
Leila Molana-Allen sat down with the Palestinian Authority prime minister for a rare interview, and asked him about the state of the Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH, Palestinian Prime Minister: Israel is launching a comprehensive war against the Palestinian people.
This war is not against Hamas.
This war is against children, women, university professors, priests, chefs, you name it.
Look at the list of Palestinians who have been killed.
They have names.
They have their mothers.
They have fathers.
They have dreams.
There are more than 1,000 Palestinians who are under the rubble.
In Gaza, we don't have the equipment.
We don't have the bulldozers to remove the rubble at this stage.
So it is a catastrophic situation.
And the Israelis are the occupiers.
So, when people speak about self-defense, a self -- an occupier is not in a self-defense situation.
An occupier is an attacker, an aggressor.
LEILA MOLANA-ALLEN: The Hamas leadership is sitting there saying there will be a second and a third and a fourth October 7.
How could Israel possibly step back and say, OK, we're going to lighten off on the invasion?
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH: I don't see things that way.
I see things in a totally different perspective.
The Israeli intentions has never been to really reach an agreement with the Palestinians.
So, the Palestinians are angry, frustrated.
They don't anymore believe in what Israel claims, that it is ready for peace.
Look what is happening today.
This Israeli government is the most aggressive government in the history of the conflict.
Some of them are thirsty for Palestinian blood, and they are calling for killing Palestinians.
LEILA MOLANA-ALLEN: Prime Minister Netanyahu has been very clear that, after this war, Israel has no interest in governing Gaza again.
They obviously are not willing to have Hamas in power in Gaza.
What's your attitude to that, to going in and taking control of Gaza?
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH: Palestinian Authority has never been away from Gaza.
We have been providing electricity.
We have been providing water.
We have been providing education material.
We pay the salaries for the teachers.
We pay the salaries for the doctors.
We have been in charge of every single day.
We issue the passports for Gaza.
So, our relationship with Gaza never stopped for the last 17 years.
Now, we are not going to go to Gaza on an Israeli military tank.
We are going to go to Gaza as part of a solution that deals with the question of Palestine, that deals with occupation.
So, for Mr. Netanyahu to say that he doesn't want to interfere or control Gaza, he is already controlling the West Bank, and he is already - - his army is in every village and every city and every refugee camp.
LEILA MOLANA-ALLEN: We have seen in the last few weeks since this war began a huge escalation in violence in the West Bank.
We're seeing daily raids into Palestinian towns, cities, camps by the Israeli Defense Forces, lots of young people dying, also a lot of violence with settlement communities as well.
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH: The main goal for Israel to achieve is to kill every future possibility of a Palestinian independent sovereign state.
That is the -- what Netanyahu wants and that is what the Israeli government wants.
So, the Israeli attack in the West Bank is in parallel with what has been happening in Gaza, i.e., putting Gaza under siege.
Land in Palestine, like in any other where, is a zero sum game, is a zero sum game.
Every single acre of land that the Israelis take is one acre of land that the Palestinians lose.
That is what -- the real suffering of people.
You have 68 different checkpoints.
They take our water.
They use our skies.
They kill our children; 5,200 Palestinians are in Israeli prison.
That is why the cycle of violence will repeat itself every day, every week, every month.
They need a solution.
LEILA MOLANA-ALLEN: There's always a call for something.
There's always a call for something to change, for an end to the occupation, for a future for a Palestinian state.
The calls don't go anywhere.
Whenever there's a U.N. resolution, people don't pay attention to them anymore.
What practically do you want from your Arab partners, from your other partners, to make something happen?
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH: You are right.
Palestinians are really fed up with the statements, and Palestinians are fed up with United Nations resolutions, more than 800 United Nations resolutions.
Not one single one has ever been implemented.
Now there is no room for more negotiations.
We are sick of these negotiations.
Palestinians, they want Israel to say that Israel is ready to end occupation that has occurred on the Palestinian territory and then put a time frame for ending this occupation.
And I think United States should not continue to give Israel the greenest of the green light to continue its colonization, to continue its atrocities, to continuous its genocide against the Palestinian people.
LEILA MOLANA-ALLEN: What should America's role be right now in this war and moving forward to any kind of peaceful solution after it ends?
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH: The only country that has leverage over Israel is the United States.
And I don't think that the United States is using that leverage.
The United States has to come up with a solution, have to come up with an initiative.
This American administration is the only administration that does not have a peace initiative.
Secretary Blinken is here, but that is not enough.
It just -- it's not only when you have bloodshed, then the whole international community come to Palestine and try to calm the situation.
And instead of us avoid another round of bloodshed, we need to end this conflict.
LEILA MOLANA-ALLEN: In between the immediate pain and chaos of this war and the long-term political goals of a solution is the everyday lives of Palestinians living here.
Gaza has one of the highest unemployment rates in the world.
In the West Bank, it's not that much better.
And when Palestinian workers can work, it's by these very limited permits given by Israel.
How can young Palestinians living every day cope in the meantime?
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH: My main concern since I took office was to gradually disengage from this colonial dependency, create jobs for our people, rather than them working in Israel.
Palestinians have the highest university graduates in the region.
Illiteracy rate in Palestine is zero.
Palestinians are successful entrepreneurs, very vibrant private sector.
All what they need is not to wake up in the morning and be faced with a checkpoint that does not allow their goods to move from Hebron to Gaza or from Hebron to Jerusalem.
LEILA MOLANA-ALLEN: The peace process has been stalled for nearly 20 years.
Not much has developed.
Everyone I speak to, the one thing they say is, out of this horror that's happening now, there has to be afterwards a solution, some progress.
Where are we in terms of the possibilities for a peace plan, for a Palestinian state with the realities on the ground?
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH: To be very realistic, things are extremely complicated, extremely difficult.
We are facing a situation in which two-state solution is fading away.
With this Israeli government, there is no solution.
So we don't have a partner.
Palestinians are eager.
We are the party to benefit most from any serious peaceful negotiations.
So, Israel has to face the following reality.
To kill us, they are doing that.
To deport us, they are trying to do that.
The only thing that Israelis are not trying is to live with us.
They are not trying that.
And I think, for them, not for us, the only thing that Israel should try is to make peace with us.
LEILA MOLANA-ALLEN: Prime Minister Shtayyeh, thank you so much.
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH: Thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: Before the Hamas terror attacks against our Israelis, life in Gaza was not easy.
Now it's immeasurably more difficult and deadly.
For the last two weeks, my colleague producer Zeba Warsi and I have been talking to people inside Gaza whose lives have been upended by this conflict.
We will hear now from several of them, some from whom we still receive messages and others whose whereabouts are now unknown.
That beautiful coastal city is Gaza, its charming port, peaceful beaches and life, both every day and extraordinary, pulsating through its people.
All that was before that war captured by 32-year-old Gazan photojournalist Motaz Al Aaraj.
That Gaza lives only on his Instagram now.
When his home was hit by an Israeli airstrike, Motaz lost his life's work.
MOTAZ AL AARAJ, Photojournalist, Project HOPE: I have thousands of shots for Gaza, for the sea, for the people, for the markets, for all thing.
I lost all thing.
I don't have anything to show people what Gaza like before.
AMNA NAWAZ: Now Motaz documents the war for D.C.-based charity group Project HOPE, the dire conditions in hospitals, the brutal impact of airstrikes, and the worsening humanitarian crisis.
MOTAZ AL AARAJ: I found Sara (ph) under the car, under car.
I have video for this.
AMNA NAWAZ: He's living through the same war he's documenting, last week, capturing his neighbors 16-year-old daughter trapped under a car after an airstrike.
MOTAZ AL AARAJ: I can't do anything for her.
This is in -- near my home.
AMNA NAWAZ: Motaz is sheltering with his extended family and 50 others who fled their homes.
Every day, he says, is a struggle to survive.
MOTAZ AL AARAJ: It is very hard.
Yes, not all days, I can found water and bread.
Maybe I join the line six hour or seven hour and don't take anything, go to home empty and no food.
RAWAN SHAHEEN, Student, University of Palestine: You're seeing so many people around you die, like every single day.
You hear about a person, your neighbor or your friend.
To be honest, I wonder a lot.
It's like, when is my turn going to be?
AMNA NAWAZ: That is 19-year-old Rawan Shaheen, Motaz's niece.
She's a second-year college student studying pharmacy at the University of Palestine in Gaza.
Before the war, her life revolved around her friends and school.
RAWAN SHAHEEN: I had a plan for this year laid out.
I had a plan for each module.
I think everyone had plans.
And all their plans were canceled, and none of us expected this.
My brother, Ibrahim (ph), is 12 years old.
And when he talks to me, he talks like -- he's kind of very sad at the moment, because he feels as if were not going to make it.
I think there is a feeling of numbness, that we don't feel like we are sharing our emotions that much, because, honestly, it's kind of sad.
But what's happening, it shouldn't be normal.
But because we're seeing so much death, it's almost becoming some sort of normal, which is not normal.
AMNA NAWAZ: We spoke to Rawan in a video chat last week when she had an Internet connection.
Since then, we can only text, and, even then, sporadically.
Her story is one of many.
PALESTINIAN: Completely disconnected from the outside world.
AMNA NAWAZ: Including 20-year-old Shaimaa Ahmed.
PALESTINIAN: This is what a Palestinian needs to go through to just buy bread.
AMNA NAWAZ: And her younger siblings, Malik (ph)... PALESTINIAN: And these are the last words of a grandmother for her grandchildren.
AMNA NAWAZ: ... and Dua (ph).
They live in North Gaza and have been posting about life in the war on Instagram under GazanVoices whenever they're able to get a connection.
SHAIMAA AHMED, Gaza Resident: To be honest, my biggest wish now isn't even to go back to my university to how it used to be, but for my professors and for my friends and the people I know to stay alive and for me to be able to see them after this whole chaos is over.
AMNA NAWAZ: With limited connectivity, Shaimaa and I have been messaging whenever she can.
On October 25.
WOMAN: "Our neighborhood is being severely bombed as I am texting you.
We were thinking of leaving, but we have no place to leave to."
AMNA NAWAZ: On October 29.
WOMAN: "My sister and I had recently saved up to redecorate our room.
My house has been reduced to rubble.
Every day is worse than the previous one."
AMNA NAWAZ: That night, Shaimaa recorded this audio of the Israeli bombings around her.
We've since lost contact with Shaimaa, her last messages to me from Tuesday, October 31.
WOMAN: "It feels terrible.
We hear so many sounds, but have no idea what is going on.
I get connected for exactly one minute, and then it cuts off.
The tanks are moving closer.
The living situations are unbearable now."
AMNA NAWAZ: We were able to confirm she and her family had fled south after this and were still alive as of November 3.
For these young Gazans, who've grown up online and connected to the rest of the world, they say all they want now is to be heard.
RAWAN SHAHEEN: I feel like its very important, especially if you're living outside of Gaza, outside of Palestine,your voice makes a huge difference to us, and it really helps us.
And, in fact, the reason they cut out our communications, Internet and electricity and all of that is because they don't want our voice to be reached out to the world.
But you have a voice, so you could use it to help us.
GEOFF BENNETT: Former President Trump took the stand in New York today defending himself in the $250 million civil fraud trial brought by state Attorney General Letitia James.
The former president wasted little time sparring with the judge, sounding off repeatedly from the witness stand.
The judge largely ignored the barbs directed his way, but warned the former president's attorneys to keep their client on topic, stating: "I beseech you to control him if you can.
If you can't, I will.
I will excuse him and draw every negative inference that I can."
Andrea Bernstein is the author of "American Oligarchs: The Kushners, the Trumps, and the Marriage of Money and Power."
She's been in the courtroom covering the trial for NPR, and she joins us now.
Andrea, it's great to see you.
So, Judge Engoron, he chided Donald Trump several times today, asked him to keep his remarks brief, at one point told him, this is not a political rally.
What was it like in the courtroom today?
ANDREA BERNSTEIN, NPR: So, it was not like a political rally.
We were, which was a big courtroom, but a much smaller room than most people probably see Donald Trump in, and one in which he did not control the discourse, where he had to stand when the clerk said "All Rise" and swear to tell the whole truth.
And this is something that we haven't seen from Donald Trump since he's been president, is him, since he was president, since he has not testified under oath in real time.
And that's what we got to see today.
GEOFF BENNETT: And the judge has already decided that the Trump Organization's financial statements were filled with fraud.
And that is central to this lawsuit that the New York attorney general, Letitia James, has brought.
And here's what she told reporters earlier today.
LETITIA JAMES, New York Attorney General: He rambled.
He hurled insults.
But we expected that.
At the end of the day, the documentary evidence demonstrated that, in fact, he falsely inflated his assets to basically enrich himself and his family.
He continued to persistently engage in fraud.
The numbers don't lie.
GEOFF BENNETT: So, how did Donald Trump explain and defend his business record in court today?
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Well, he did hurl insults.
He insulted both the attorney general.
He said at one point: "The fraud is her."
He repeatedly criticized the judge, who he said wasn't giving him a fair trial.
But when pressed on the contents of these statements of financial conditions, Donald Trump had a few responses.
One was that he barely remembered them because they were so old and so long ago.
But one thing he did remember clearly is that there was a -- what he called a worthless clause, a disclaimer, which he said meant the bank should be checking his works, that he was somehow not responsible for the content of these statements of financial condition.
And we have seen during the trial that they were laboriously put together.
So he was on the one hand saying they weren't important and also saying he had nothing to do with them, they were done by his accountants, for whom he wanted to make it clear they were very expensive, he paid a lot of money and they came at a high price.
GEOFF BENNETT: Well, Donald Trump also spoke to reporters upon exiting the court.
Here's what he had to say.
DONALD TRUMP, Former President of the United States (R) and Current U.S. Presidential Candidate: I think you saw what I had to say today, and it was very conclusive.
Everything we did was absolutely right.
To think that we're being sued and spending all this time and money, and you have people being killed all over the world that this country could stop, with inflation and all of the other problems that this country has, I think it's a disgrace.
GEOFF BENNETT: So he's effectively saying there are more important things to focus on.
How do his comments to the media, his behavior inside the courtroom today affect the eventual outcome?
Because this is a bench trial decided by a judge.
This is not a jury trial.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Right.
The judge has said Trump can say anything, other than criticizing his staff.
And he during the testimony today kept asking the attorney general if he wanted to just let Trump go on.
He wasn't answering questions yes or no.
He was answering them with these sort of mini-speeches in which he would go off on various things.
But we did get to a point where he was saying that the statements of financial conditions were something that he stood behind, sort of.
He also said that they were actually undervaluing his properties.
But when showed repeatedly by the attorney general his attestations that these were true and that they were used as the basis for big loans from Deutsche Bank, Trump said that, yes, that he stood by those statements.
And he also sort of threw in that the banks had done well.
Now, under New York law, it doesn't matter.
New York law says you cannot repeatedly lie in the course of doing business and that, if you do so, you can be forced to pay back the state.
That's what's at issue at the trial, how much the Trumps will have to pay back to New York.
The A.G. wants $250 million, a sizable amount for any person, especially Donald Trump, who doesn't like to pay anything that he doesn't feel that he is required to pay.
GEOFF BENNETT: Well, Andrea, how does Donald Trump's testimony today, how does that square with what his sons Don Jr. and Eric Trump told the court last week?
Because they were saying that they had no role, no idea what was happening, it was all the Trump Organization accountants and lawyers.
And Donald Trump, on the other hand, is saying that, yes, what was provided was accurate.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Well, he was -- Donald Trump - - I do want to say that Donald Trump did say that they were undercounts, undervalues.
His properties, he felt, were beautiful properties worth far more than came up in these appraisals.
But one of the things that was interesting is the way he pointed to his younger son Eric Trump, who was essentially running the company while he was president and has been doing so.
And he said Eric was making the decisions.
So there's a little bit of tension there, because Eric Trump was saying, well, this was on the accountants, it was on the lawyers.
That is also what Donald Trump Jr. said.
But somebody is running this international company.
Somebody is making the decisions.
And that is ultimately how the judge is going to have to determine it, whether there was a conspiracy by Donald Trump and his two older sons, as well as some other Trump employees, to create these repeated and persistent lies about the value of their assets over the years, which they then used to certify bank loans, to certify insurance claims.
That, under New York law, is what the law says you're not allowed to do.
GEOFF BENNETT: Andrea Bernstein, our eyes and ears inside the courtroom today, thanks so much.
ANDREA BERNSTEIN: Thank you.
AMNA NAWAZ: For analysis on the 2024 race for president, as well as some critical elections happening tomorrow, I'm joined by our Politics Monday team.
That is Amy Walter of The Cook Political Report With Amy Walter and Tamara Keith of NPR.
And it's great to see you both.
There is a lot happening on the 2024 front, so let's dig in there.
There's another Republican debate on Wednesday.
We know Florida Governor Ron DeSantis is picking up an endorsement from the Iowa governor.
It's a key endorsement there.
At the same time, I want to ask you about these poll numbers we just saw from The New York Times and Siena.
They show President Biden trailing former President Trump in five out of the six so-called battleground states.
You can see there Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada and Pennsylvania.
Mr. Biden still has a slight lead in Wisconsin.
Tam, just take a step back for a moment and put these numbers into context for us at this moment in time and what they mean for the Republican contest as well.
TAMARA KEITH, National Public Radio: Right.
So this moment in time is very early.
A lot is going to happen between now and the election.
Head-to-head polls aren't always the best.
And this far out, it can be challenging to - - this is a moment in time.
It is not a reflection of what's going to happen a year from now.
In terms of what this means for the Republicans, there are other polls out there.
There was an NBC poll out of Iowa that showed that caucus-goers really prioritize being able to beat Joe Biden.
They prioritize electability, much in the same way that Democratic primary voters prioritized electability in 2020.
And that's why Joe Biden is president of the United States right now.
So they prioritize electability.
This poll tells them, you don't have to worry.
Donald Trump is electable.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
TAMARA KEITH: And that's something certainly that the Trump people are going to be touting and already are.
And it creates a challenge for these other people who are going to be on stage this week sort of begging and pleading for attention and beating each other up, but sort of a sideshow to whatever Trump is doing.
It creates a challenge for them to be able to make the argument, oh, no, like, Trump isn't electable, you should pick one of us.
AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
Amy, what about that?
Nikki Haley, Tim Scott, they have all said: Trump can't beat Biden.
Does this undercut that?
AMY WALTER, The Cook Political Report: Yes, and as does that Iowa poll, which it -- caucus-goers said, not only its electability our number one issue, but by a significant margin, they picked Donald Trump as the one who they think could beat Joe Biden.
So, there, I think another important thing about these polls, to me, what it showed was the central challenge for 2024, which probably isn't going to change that much as long as it's Trump versus Biden, which is that Biden has an enthusiasm problem, especially among younger voters, voters of color.
And Donald Trump has a ceiling problem.
It's still -- even in those numbers, he's ahead, yes, technically, of Joe Biden, but his overall vote share, the percent of the vote he's getting right now is basically the same vote he got in 2020.
So he's not at 50 percent in any of those states, except for Nevada.
So it feels like what we're going into is basically a replay of 2020, where a few thousand votes in these very close states are going to determine who the president of the United States is.
AMNA NAWAZ: We have also seen -- yes, go ahead.
(CROSSTALK) TAMARA KEITH: I would just say that, while Biden world does not like this poll, totally disputes this poll, they also readily acknowledge that they have a lot of work to do with young voters, voters of color.
They are building an infrastructure to try to reach those voters.
And if you look at the campaign ads that they're running in a state like North Carolina, and they're running a lot of ads in North Carolina already, they are very much focused on Black voters and young Black voters.
AMNA NAWAZ: So I want to talk a little bit, of course, what's happening tomorrow, because we do have a number of key elections that could be indicators for what we see ahead in 2024.
There's a big test for Biden's record and the Kentucky governor's race, abortion on the ballot in Ohio.
And of all the races, Amy, what are you watching and why is it important?
AMY WALTER: Well, it helps that I am in Virginia.
So I do have a little preference for the Virginia legislative elections.
But, more than that, it's a test of a message.
And the message is this.
It's Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin, who is saying, you know what, Republicans, we have to stop running away from the abortion issue.
We did that in 2022.
We were defined by Democrats on this issue.
We need to do the defining.
And so he has come out, talked openly and actively, running ads saying, Republicans, if we are in charge, if we win back the Senate, we will have total control of the government.
And what we would like to do is have a 15-week ban.
This is a reasonable position, he says.
This is with exceptions.
And what Democrats want is unreasonable.
They want abortion until the very end.
That is not what Virginians want.
So, this is a real test for whether this message actually resonates, this idea of responsible - - being reasonable.
And I'm also looking at some of the districts based on whether they have a significant African American population, especially down in the Tidewater area, those folks, Hampton Roads.
Is the turnout issue something that Democrats do need to still be very concerned about?
AMNA NAWAZ: Turnout based on enthusiasm.
AMY WALTER: Exactly.
(CROSSTALK) AMNA NAWAZ: Yes.
Tam, what about you?
TAMARA KEITH: So, I have been reviewing ads that have been running in Virginia about abortion.
And what you find is, I found, like, basically one Republican candidate who was proactively running on this 15-week abortion ban.
And I found more Democrats than I can count who were running, saying, look what Republicans want to do.
Look at this Republican incumbent.
They voted for a total ban.
Now they want this 15-week ban.
So, Democrats clearly feel that this is an issue that they can run on.
A lot of the Republican ads focus on crime.
And so what -- in a lot of ways this feels like a replay of the 2022 midterms messaging, but it's also probably a preview of the 2024 presidential campaign messaging and all those congressional races.
I will just add, I am also watching Ohio, because this Issue 1 is a -- would enshrine a right to abortion access in the Ohio Constitution.
Ohio, it was a purple state, like, in 2004.
It is a red state now.
But this has been an animating issue in a number of red states.
This is a more proactive measure in support of abortion access than we have seen on -- in other initiatives up to now.
This is very much abortion the ballot in a red state.
So, we're further away from the Dobbs decision than we were the last time this was on the ballot.
But -- so this is something to watch, because, if Ohio ends up passing this Issue 1, then Democrats are going to be like, all right, we have got our message.
And, similarly, that's what they will be watching for with Virginia.
AMNA NAWAZ: This is fascinating, though.
You still -- I mean, we saw the impact the abortion issue had in the midterms in 2022.
You believe it will carry through as a mobilizing issue into '24?
AMY WALTER: That's the -- and that is... AMNA NAWAZ: That is the question.
AMY WALTER: Yes, that's what 2023 will help us, with the big, of course, asterisk, caveat, it is an off -- these are off-year elections.
So turnout is going to be much higher in a presidential, of course.
AMNA NAWAZ: Big caveats always, of course.
AMY WALTER: Of course.
AMNA NAWAZ: Important.
Amy Walter, Tamara Keith, always good to talk to you both.
Thank you so much.
AMY WALTER: You're welcome.
TAMARA KEITH: You're welcome.
GEOFF BENNETT: Tarra Simmons is the first formerly incarcerated state legislator in Washington state.
She went from teen mother to felon to lawyer, and now a state representative.
As special correspondent Cat Wise reports, she overcame barriers that she and many other people face after serving time in prison.
This story is part of our series Searching for Justice.
CAT WISE: In a courthouse in Kitsap County, across Puget Sound from Seattle, Tarra Simmons recently shed a title that's burdened her for more than two decades, convicted felon.
MAN: I have signed the orders vacating the felony convictions.
And so the relief you're seeking, Ms. Simmons, is granted.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS (D-WA): It is like true liberation.
Everything that I do in my life going forward is -- the opportunities I have are based on my own merit.
And I can't wait to have grandbabies, so I can volunteer in their schools.
CAT WISE: All of these things you couldn't do before.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: Yes.
This is my two boys.
CAT WISE: Today, Simmons is a state representative, a lawyer, mother of two adult children, and the founding director a nonprofit.
But her journey to this point was long and difficult.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: I was exposed to a lot of violence when I was young.
I was sexually abused.
I grew up in poverty.
And by the time I was 13 years old, I was - - dropped out of school completely.
I was homeless.
I was trafficked.
I ended up pregnant at 14.
CAT WISE: As a teen mom, Simmons was connected to social services, graduated from high school at 16, and enrolled in community college.
She went on to get a nursing degree.
But just a couple years later, Simmons pled guilty to second-degree assault for her involvement in an attack on a man she had been involved with.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: My first felony conviction was related to meeting a gentleman who sexually assaulted me.
And then, three days later, my friends and family beat him up.
And that really, really changed the course of my life.
CAT WISE: Years later, an injury from a fall led to a prescription for painkillers, which led to a substance use disorder and an addiction to meth.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: Within 10 months of trying the methamphetamine, I had been arrested three times, I had left my family and lived homeless, and was -- I completely ruined my entire life.
CAT WISE: Simmons was eventually charged with five felonies, including for theft, drugs, and having a gun in her car.
She served 20 months in prison.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: Incarceration really added another layer of trauma, because I already had no self-worth, no self-esteem.
CAT WISE: But it was in prison that Simmons decided to set out on a new path after being released, thanks to a group of volunteer law students who encouraged her to become a lawyer herself.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: I always thought that lawyers were these super elite, like, untouchable people.
But they reassured me.
They said, no, you can be like us, be like social justice lawyers.
I'm like, what?
CAT WISE: After being released, Simmons enrolled at Seattle University School of Law and graduated with honors in 2017, but soon after hit a major snag.
The Washington State Bar Association ruled that she couldn't take the exam to be a lawyer because of her criminal background.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: The volunteer Character and Fitness Board thought that I felt too entitled to take the bar exam and that I was too proud of my accomplishments.
CAT WISE: They actually said that?
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: They said those things, Yes.
CAT WISE: How did that feel?
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: Well, at the time, it felt completely traumatizing.
I had taken out over $200,000 in loans to go to school.
I had done everything right.
CAT WISE: Simmons appealed the Bar Association's decision to the state Supreme Court.
SHON HOPWOOD, Attorney: If rehabilitation is the touchstone of present character, which I think this court should hold, then Ms. Simmons really makes -- her record of rehabilitation an easy case for the court.
CAT WISE: She was represented by Shon Hopwood, himself a formerly incarcerated lawyer, and within hours of hearing the case, the court ruled in her favor.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: I just started crying.
I could not believe it.
And the fact that they did it so quickly and it was unanimous was really validating.
CAT WISE: Simmons became a fixture in Olympia, the state capital, as an advocate serving on the state Reentry Council and supporting legislation to ease barriers for formerly incarcerated people.
In 2020 she was elected to the state legislature.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: There always had to be one person that went first to break those ceilings, right, to make it more normal.
And so that's why I live my life so transparently, because I feel like I'm normalizing it for other people who don't have to live in shame anymore about their past and can say, yes, I did those things, and I have changed.
STATE SEN. DREW HANSEN (D-WA): It really matters to have at least one person in the room when you're making decisions who has lived the life.
CAT WISE: Senator Drew Hansen worked closely with Tarra Simmons when she was advocating for the very bill that allowed her to recently vacate her convictions.
JAY INSLEE (D-WA): I want to thank Representative Hansen and Tarra Simmons, who's here.
CAT WISE: They became colleagues in the state House after her victory.
STATE SEN. DREW HANSEN: Representative Simmons' perspective on drug treatment and drug policy is extraordinarily valuable, because she's in long-term recovery.
You're making a decision about what is going on in the prisons, while she spent time in prison.
It is transformative.
It changes the entire conversation.
CAT WISE: Simmons also continues to work with the nonprofit she co-founded in law school, Civil Survival, which supports people impacted by the criminal justice system, including helping vacate or clear past convictions.
Sarah Eichhorn is one of her clients.
They met in prison when Simmons was incarcerated and Eichhorn was volunteering to help people with substance use issues.
Eichhorn had been incarcerated herself after an altercation during a supervised visit with her son when she was a teenager, a time when she was battling drug addiction.
SARAH EICHHORN, Civil Survival Client: I got sent off to prison and was just there for like five or six months, not too long.
But, yes, so I got out.
And that's really hard to get a job.
CAT WISE: For the last 18 years, Eichhorn has not had any run-ins with the law, but her felony record has been a big obstacle.
SARAH EICHHORN: I feel like I have to kind of live on the fringe a little bit still.
I would love to not have to explain my worst day ever, my son's worst day ever to anyone again, you know?
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: I am hopeful that they're going to move it up.
CAT WISE: Simmons is helping her friend apply for a pardon to erase that record.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: You know, you make one bad decision, you make one mistake, and that does define you.
And it's unfortunate, because you can make hundreds, thousands, millions of good decisions since then, and still be discriminated against to meet your basic human needs.
CAT WISE: Eichhorn says she's still a bit amazed that she's seen her friend go from prison, to law school, to the state capital.
SARAH EICHHORN: I used to think they were all aliens.
(LAUGHTER) SARAH EICHHORN: You know what I mean?
Like, politicians and stuff.
But she really is a normal person.
And people don't know what they don't know.
CAT WISE: For Tarra Simmons, imparting what she knows to help others like herself has become her calling.
STATE REP. TARRA SIMMONS: Not everybody's going to get into law and politics like me or even into advocacy.
But I just want people to have the opportunities to do whatever it is that they want to do.
And, fortunately, my job today allows me to break down some of those barriers for them.
CAT WISE: Barriers that Simmons hopes will continue to fall in Washington state and around the country for formerly incarcerated people.
For the "PBS NewsHour," I'm Cat Wise in Bremerton, Washington.
AMNA NAWAZ: A new book of photography offers a unique lens on the impact of war on fighters and civilians alike.
The author, Corinne Dufka, formerly led the West Africa Division at Human Rights Watch, where she spent more than two decades documenting human rights abuses through victims testimonies.
But, before that, in the 1980s and 1990s, Dufka was a war photographer covering some of the world's most brutal conflicts.
Many of her photos are now being published for the first time in her new book "This is War."
I sat down with recently for our arts and culture series, Canvas.
Corinne Dufka, welcome to the "NewsHour."
Thanks for being here.
CORINNE DUFKA, Author, "This is War: A Decade of Conflict": Thank you very much.
It's a pleasure.
AMNA NAWAZ: Some of these photos are more than 20 years old now.
What made you want to go back into your archives and your negatives and look through these again?
And what was that process like?
CORINNE DUFKA: Well, it was a very dynamic process.
And like any book project, it's multilayered.
I wanted to do this book first as a personal journey to try to come to terms with and understand what I had seen decades ago, phenomenal brutality through the lens now of being a mother, through having studied policy.
Also, I wanted to add to the historical record of the conflicts covered, many of which were and continue to be quite undercovered, and to the role that women played in war photography.
But, more importantly, I wanted this book to spur conversation on the notion of conflict recidivism or relapse, because, in the process of editing, some of the pictures that I took 25 years ago could have been taken today, because those countries had relapsed into war.
AMNA NAWAZ: We're going to talk about some of these photos specifically.
I just want to do a quick warning for our viewers.
Some of these photos are quite graphic, and they may find them disturbing.
But each chapter basically covers one of the conflicts that you cover.
There's a real intimacy to them too.
Take me back to El Salvador.
There is a man there that you have met named Herbert Anaya.
He ran their human rights commission, I understand.
You were a social worker at the time.
He asked you to set up a photo documentation program.
And when he is tragically murdered, you are there to take this photo that ends up running in The New York Times.
What do you remember about this picture?
CORINNE DUFKA: Well, I remember getting a call early in the morning saying that he had been gunned down.
And this was in a very difficult moment in El Salvador's history.
I rushed out -- it must have been, I think, 7:00 or 8:00 in the morning -- and found Herbert lying on the ground in a pool of blood.
I took the picture.
And this is a person with whom I had come to know and respect and played a vital role in El Salvador in uncovering what were some really horrific human rights abuses.
AMNA NAWAZ: Does it change how you work when you know the person on the other side of the lens?
CORINNE DUFKA: Yes.
The pictures are very intimate.
It's very clear from the very beginning of this book as one starts to look at it that the vast majority of those pictured, the images that I have are of civilians, because, in the majority of conflicts that I covered, the armies, the militias had basically wage war against the civilian population.
They weren't fought in battlefields, rather, in the villages.
So I get very up close.
I'm grateful for civilians, for the combatants who opened up their houses and hospitals and battlefields and let me in so close to be able to communicate to the world what it was that they were experiencing.
AMNA NAWAZ: You write about a group of teenage fighters that you were following in Liberia and these photos that you took in the moment as they attacked an armed man in front of you, and they stripped him and they killed him.
And you wrote later that you felt sick as you were developing the negatives.
And you wrote in your book -- quote -- "I agonized over whether I could have prevented this random, unexpected killing."
How do you balance in the moment the mission to remain an observer -- that is your job - - but also the human impulse to help?
CORINNE DUFKA: Yes, it's interesting, because I didn't think that they were going to kill this man.
That's part of human nature, is to somehow deny that the worst could happen.
This group of fighters who I was tracking with my camera that morning came upon this man who was simply foraging for food.
So they just picked this man up because he happened to be from another ethnic group, dragged him through the streets, and then, within a moment, they stripped him and shot him.
And it was horrific knowing -- and this has happened a number of times in my career -- that you're photographing someone, you know that they have perished before their family does.
So, it was a horrific scene that was unfortunately repeated again and again in Liberia and in so many of the conflicts that I have covered.
AMNA NAWAZ: There's this line you write in the book that stuck with me.
You say: "What the eye sees, the brain records."
To bear witness to all of this in the many ways you did, and very young at the time, what kind of toll does that take?
CORINNE DUFKA: Well, it certainly leads to dehumanization, covering mass atrocities.
I went from El Salvador to Bosnia and then to -- my first conflict in Africa was the Rwandan genocide.
And one has to get a job done, because it is a journalist's responsibility to communicate to the outside world the horrific things that we're seeing.
But I think also one gets numb.
And that happened to me.
That's ultimately what led to my decision to leave the profession, is because I didn't recognize myself anymore.
AMNA NAWAZ: So many of these images are reminiscent of things we see today, as you mentioned, conflicts that rage on around the world.
What would you say to people about why it's both necessary to bear witness, to look at these kinds of photographs, to know what's happening on the ground, but how they can keep themselves from becoming numb to it all?
CORINNE DUFKA: Yes, it is a balance.
I mean, to a certain extent, not showing these images -- and I think, over time, what with the emergence of citizen journalism, when people just post whatever they want without it being edited for sensitivity, for content and so on, has in some ways intensified dehumanization.
But it's so important to stop the moment, especially with us being inundated with photographs, to stop the clock, to stop the chatter, to really reflect on the impact of war and the reasons for it.
AMNA NAWAZ: The photographs are so potent and so necessary.
So, thank you for bearing witness, so the rest of the world can too.
The book is "This Is War."
The author is Corinne Dufka.
CORINNE DUFKA: Thank you.
GEOFF BENNETT: And that is the "NewsHour" for tonight.
I'm Geoff Bennett.
AMNA NAWAZ: And I'm Amna Nawaz.
On behalf of the entire "NewsHour" team, thank you for joining us.