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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Visits Israel After Devastating Blast at Gaza Hospital; Protests Erupt After Deadly Gaza Hospital Blast; Biden Speaks with Reporters Aboard Air Force One; Jordan Loses Second Vote for House Speaker. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired October 18, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: And welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

President Biden arrived in Israel hours after a devastating explosion in the courtyard of a Baptist hospital in Gaza, a deadly tragedy that the U.S. is now asserting, the U.S. believes Israel is not responsible for. Rather, President Biden said earlier today, it was damage that the Palestinians may have caused. The images emerging are devastating and the descriptions of the deadly aftermath are rather graphic.

Here's what a volunteer who went to help clear the remains said.


VOLUNTEER (through translator): I came at 8:00 a.m. as a volunteer thinking I would help with minor thing, but I was shocked to see unimaginable things like children's corpses, elderly corpses, bodies of dead women scattered, human hands, legs, intestines, and many human bodies.


TAPPER: The Hamas-controlled Palestinian health ministry immediately blamed the Israeli military yesterday. And that accusation flew around the world. But after investigating the matter, Israel says that have evidence that the cause of the blast was actually a failed rocket launch from Islamic Jihad, an Islamic militant group. Israeli officials say the damage does not suggest it was from an Israeli missile.

And earlier today, a spokesman for the Israeli defense forces told me, the failed rocket was caught live on al Jazeera.


IDF SPOKESMAN: They were broadcasting it live. I actually have an image here of the launch of the broadcast. This is a screen caption of what they did. You can see, this is just 6:59, you see the al Jazeera emblem. And that's the rocket that actually fell into the hospital.


TAPPER: The Israelis also released audio of individuals whom they claim are with Hamas, discussing the incident in the audio. They acknowledge reports that it was Islamic Jihad that launched the rocket, and that failed rocket fell on the hospital.

President Biden today in Tel Aviv said that the intelligence he has seen matches with Israeli intelligence.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was outraged and saddened by the enormous loss of life yesterday in the hospital in Gaza. Based on the information we've seen today, it appears the result of errant rocket fire by a terrorist group in Gaza.


TAPPER: A sentiment echoed, not surprisingly, by his own U.S. national security council, which issued the statement released this morning. Quote, while we continue to collect information, our current assessment, based on analysis of overhead imagery, intercepts and open source information, is that Israel is not responsible for the explosion at the hospital in Gaza yesterday, unquote.

But Palestinian officials maintain that it was Israel, and either way, there are claims are the ones being believed by Arab leaders in the Arab street. Jordanian leaders and the Palestinians canceled planned meetings with President Biden because of the hospital tragedy, and the claims that leaders in Gaza were making about it.

And those claims, regardless of the facts, have ignited protests on the streets across the Arab world. Frustrations, no doubt, also because of Israel's bombardment of Gaza, and frankly, Israel's very existence, and President Biden's reaffirmation of support for the Jewish state.

The president stressing the need today for Hamas to release all of the hundreds of hostages that they took.


BIDEN: Let me assure you, for me, as the American president, there is no higher priority than releasing safe return of all these hostages. To those who are grieving, a child, a parent, a spouse, a sibling, a friend, I know it feels like there's a black hole in the middle of your chest. You feel like you're being sucked into it. The survivor's remorse, the anger, the questions of faith in your soul, starting, staring at that empty chair, sitting in Shiva. First Sabbath without them, the everyday things, the small things, that you missed the most.


TAPPER: Another priority pushed by President Biden during his visit to Israel, is for the U.S. to push Israel to secure safe passage, along the southern Gaza border with Egypt for supplies, for food, for water, for medicine, for fuel, to get into Gaza.


The humanitarian crisis in Gaza is getting worse and worse. And also, for the civilians, including some U.S. citizens, Palestinian Americans and others, desperately wanting to get out of Gaza. At this moment, President Biden is on the plane back to Washington, D.C., and that border, the Rafah gate, the Rafah crossing, that remains closed.

The crisis for innocent civilians in Gaza right now, it's only growing more dire.

Let's get right to CNN's Clarissa Ward, who is north of Gaza. She's in Ashkelon, Israel.

And, Clarissa, the U.N. just confirmed there's, quote, no update on if and when any aid will start crossing from Egypt into Gaza, or any innocent Palestinian Americans or others can get out of Gaza.

What are you hearing from Israeli officials?

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. The U.N. basically saying, no set timeline here, Jake.

We also heard today from the Egyptian leader, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi. He said that this was because of shelling and strikes, Israeli strikes near the border crossing. We -- CNN journalists did observe several explosions near the crossing during the day.

The Israelis have said, echoing what President Biden announced, they are now willing to allow aid through the Rafah crossing, provided that it does not get diverted to Hamas. They said they will not open up any aid to come through this side of the border, until all of the hostages are released.

We know there has been a flurry of diplomacy, desperate attempts to try to get these dozens of trucks that have been waiting now, Jake, on the Egyptian side of the border, since very early on Tuesday morning, to get some of that aid inside to the southern part of Gaza, where according to the U.N., some 600,000 more people have arrived, just in the past few days.

But this is a very tricky, complex mechanism to put together, because there are so many different parties involved, because the tensions are so high, because the strikes continue. And as you mentioned, the situation inside Gaza, growing more dire by the minute, food running out, no water, no electricity. No real safe space for people to seek refuge or respite, and no end in sight to this crisis -- Jake.

TAPPER: And, Clarissa, is the new information, intelligence being provided by Israel, on this hospital blast, is it moving the needle at all in the Middle East? Obviously, some of them releasing publicly. Some of it is private. Is it having any impact at all on how people are perceiving what happened?

WARD: It's not, Jake, and I think there's a number of reasons for that. This is obviously become incredibly emotionally charged. We have seen this outpouring across the Arab world, across the Muslim world, people feel horrified when they see what's happening in Gaza.

And so, I don't think this has changed any minds. And also, the news is moving so quickly, the continued strikes today, the images of President Biden hugging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the news that the U.S. vetoed a U.N. Security Council resolution to call for humanitarian pause. This all just continues to pour fuel on the fire.

And then you compound that with the vast barrage of misinformation and disinformation that is really all pervasive across social media platforms, and that just factors and cycles into this sense of outrage, the sense of indignation. And no sense, I would say at this stage, that is going to change, Jake.

TAPPER: Clarissa Ward, just north of Gaza in Ashkelon, Israel, thank you so much.

I want to bring in CNN anchor Kaitlan Collins in Tel Aviv.

Kaitlan, how much did President Biden, from the line you think, with his strong defense of Israel not so much domestically in the U.S., but international?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, he certainly came to a region that was already seething, Jake. They were already on edge and angry over what was reported initially about that explosion that happened at that hospital in Gaza, that Clarissa was just talking about there, of course. You initially saw the IDF come out and say it was not them. They did believe it was from a group, emanating within Gaza, where that strike came from.

But that is something that a lot of leaders in the area did not take the IDF at their word. You did see, that was one of the biggest statements that President Biden made, in a few hours that he was on the ground here in Tel Aviv, saying he did believe Israel's denials.


And he did believe they were not responsible, and he later said that wasn't just because the Israeli Defense Forces were telling him that, he said he was citing his own Pentagon data. And we saw later on, the National Security Council explained that it did had to do with satellite data, infrared light they were looking at, as well as open source information that helps them make that assessment.

Now, they said it's just their current assessment. It's not this 100 percent full-proof assessment. But it was pretty clear-cut where the president stood on that today.

But I think the larger point of all this coming, Jake, also, seeing what the president was saying, where he is expressing this full stop solidarity with Israel. You saw him saying repeatedly today, talking about the United States going to back Israel up. But there's also a moment in his final remarks here in Tel Aviv, Jake,

where he did offer a word of caution. He talked about 9/11, and what the U.S. was feeling after 9/11 happened, and saying that is amplified even here. This is what he said.


BIDEN: Yu can't look at what has happened here, to your mothers, your fathers, your grandparents, sons, daughters, children, even babies, and not scream out for justice. Justice must be done. But I caution this while you feel that rage, don't be consumed by it. After 9/11, we were enraged in the United States. While we sought justice and got justice, we also made mistakes.


COLLINS: Saying there that the United States made mistakes following 9/11.

I should note, Jake, I talked to the U.S. ambassador to Israel, the Israeli ambassador to the U.S. about that comment, and they talked about how there is the sense of palpable anger. And, obviously, people want to see a response. Of course, that response is expected to come in the form of a ground invasion. But the scale of what that looks like, of course, remains to be seen.

TAPPER: Yeah, I was just talking about that same exact issue with General Petraeus, and the idea of whether waiting in strategizing is smarter than just reacting and punching back immediately. It's a difficult one to discuss.

President Biden was also going to meet with Arab leaders in Amman, from Egypt, Jordan in the West Bank, and that was -- that was canceled, that was supposed to be a crucial part of this trip. What comes after Israel gets rid of Hamas, assuming that this happened, is also a very important part of this equation.

And that can't really be done without the cooperation, if not a leadership, of Abbas and the leaders of Egypt and Jordan.

COLLINS: Yeah, or the humanitarian aid. I mean, that was one of the biggest tangible achievements that President Biden walked away with. There weren't a lot of them coming out of this trip, but pointing to what he said was Israel allowing that humanitarian aid to go from Egypt into Gaza. We have not heard from Egypt yet on that. They haven't issued any sort of sort of full confirmation saying yes, this is the agreement.

There are still questions about the timing of that. That was something the White House had hoped they were going to figure out during this trip. When President Biden's meeting face to face with the president of Egypt, with the leader of Jordan, with these leaders in real life. And instead, he's settling for a phone call, because they canceled on him.

And, Jake, that is just remarkable, that for the president to come over here to the Middle East to have this meeting in Israel and to have these other world leaders politely declined to meet with him is really remarkable in and of itself. And it certainly a setback for the White House, and it factors into what that humanitarian aid going into Gaza is going to look like if they are able to set up a safe zone corridor.

But, also, you're right, Jake, what the future of this looks like because the White House said Biden had tough questions for Netanyahu about that plan. They didn't reveal those questions were publicly. But, certainly, having that conversation with these other world leaders, who have been more critical of Israel, or certainly, not outright condemning Hamas in the same way that you've seen some other nations do, that's all a big part of this. And all, obviously, something the President Biden is a challenge he still taken with him back to the night states tonight.

TAPPER: Especially if those -- that visit -- that summit was canceled because of what especially that summit was canceled because of what happened at the hospital. If that incident was because of an Islamic jihad rocket and not the Israelis, to have that canceled? I mean, that doesn't even make any sense.

Kaitlan Collins in Tel Aviv, thanks so much.

A new warning today from Israel about its plans to deal with Hamas. I'm going to talk to a senior Israeli government official next.

And we want to show you this scene right now from the inside Cannon House Office Building of the U.S. Capitol. Protesters with several Jewish American organizations are demonstrating in support of a ceasefire in the Israel-Hamas war. Dozens of demonstrators have been arrested there in the past hour. But as you can, see dozens continue to stage a sit in.

We're back in a moment.



TAPPER: A top Israeli military official warned Israeli soldiers today that the war with Hamas, quote, will not be short, especially if any other country get involved. Meanwhile, after the U.S. assessed that Israel is, quote, not responsible for the Gaza hospital blast, a senior United Nations official called for an independent investigation. While other countries such as South Africa are simply not buying Israel's claim that Israel is not responsible, and accused Israel of war crimes.

Joining us now is Israeli government spokesperson Eylon Levy.

Thank you so much for joining.

So, earlier today, I spoke with the IDF's Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner and he told me last night that Israeli officials came to the conclusion the IDF was not responsible, that the final termination and evidence was presented several hours after the blast.

And one of the questions I had is, doesn't the IDF know where it is aiming its munitions? And where they are landing? Why did you take that long to definitively determine what had happened?

EYLON LEVY, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT SPOKESPERSON: Thank you for having me on the show, Jake.

Indeed, as time moves, on it's clear that what happened last night is not a murder mystery but really an open shut case. The evidence is really incontrovertible that it was a Palestinian Islamic jihad rocket misfired from inside the Gaza Strip, and landed in the parking lot of that hospital. It wasn't an Israeli airstrike. The hospital was not destroyed as the initial claims came out from Hamas yesterday, and as many international media parroted immediately.


But look, when such an allegation is made, the IDF does exactly what you would expect of the professional army of a democratic state, which is that the spokesperson's office needs to check the allegations, needs to bring all the evidence, instead of just issuing a blanket denial.

The only reason that the international media has been trapped in this he said/she said over the last 24 hours is that Hamas, that's what the Gaza health ministry is, it's Hamas, which is as bad as ISIS if not worse, made an outrageous allegation immediately. And Israel said, look, we need a few hours in order to issue a preliminary investigation.

And that evidence now is overwhelming. That what took place yesterday was a horrific war crime perpetrated by Palestinian Islamic Jihad that we're trying to fire a rocket at our people to kill us, and they ended up murdering their own.

TAPPER: Prime minister's office confirmed with CNN that Israel will allow humanitarian aid into Gaza from Egypt. But it will not allow supplies into Gaza from Israel's territory until Hamas releases all hostages.

And that effectively punishes all Palestinians, even those wounded and sick and desperate, because of Hamas. Even though your government acknowledges that Palestinians in many cases are victims of Hamas. Why not let supplies in to help the people that are suffering because of Hamas?

LEVY: At the moment, Israel is in the state for with Hamas inside the Gaza strip. It's a war that we were dragged into as a result of the October 7th massacre, and the gruesome brutalities that are really only just beginning to come to light.

Now, it is important to understand what happened in Israel's crossings, the Eres crossing for example through which so many Palestinian workers went to work in Israel every day, it was completely destroyed by the Hamas death squads when they invaded on the morning of the 7th of October. The village of Kerem Shalom as well was another village near the crossing where they went door to door, massacring, torturing and murdering people. And Israel have made very clear that we are at war with Hamas, we therefore will not allow our crossings to be used in order to conduct trade and business as usual while they are holding 200 of our people, men, women, children, some babies, elderly people, in captivity.

We have no objection to Egypt allowing its border to be used to nourish deliver humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza. And we want humanitarian aid to reach the people of Gaza in the safe zone in the south. For the people who have heeded Israel's warning to temporarily evacuate from the north of Gaza to areas where it will be safer away from intense fighting.

And we have a simple demand, that we make sure that the aid actually reach to the people of Gaza, and then it not be stolen requisition by Hamas. Just as we saw two days ago when the United Nations admitted that Hamas had stolen fuel and medicine that was intended for humanitarian purposes inside the Gaza Strip. They then quickly deleted that tweet, but Hamas stole 24,000 leaders a fuel, donated with taxpayer dollars, taxpayer years, taxpayer pounds, and we insist that if they aid is going to go into the Gaza strip, it should reach the people it is supposed to reach, and not reach the Hamas war and death machine as it continues to perpetrate atrocities and rockets to our cities.

TAPPER: So as of this hour right now, the Rafah crossing on Egypt's border is still not open. What's your understanding as to why aid is not moving into Gaza?

We've heard conflicting information on a Sunday, Jake Sullivan told me the national security adviser for U.S. told me that there had been an agreement with Israel and Egypt to let Palestinian Americans leave Gaza, but Hamas was stopping it. There have also been all sorts of pointing fingers. There was a time that Egypt was blaming Israel.

What is going on in terms of aid getting in from Egypt and Palestinian Americans getting out of Gaza?

LEVY: Exactly. That's important to understand just as a basic point of geography, that the border between Egypt and Gaza is controlled by the Arab Republic of Egypt and Hamas terror authorities inside the Gaza Strip. It is not a border that Israel controls. And indeed, just a few days ago, the arrangements were in place for foreign nationals to be able to leave the Gaza Strip, and it was Hamas that stopped them, effectively turning those foreign nationals into hostages. In addition to the 200 Israeli hostages that they have been holding there since the October 7th massacre.

I repeat, this is a war that Israel is fighting against Hamas, not against Gaza, not against the people of Gaza. We don't want to see more civilian casualties. We don't want to see any suffering, and that's why Israel is taking every necessary step to try to minimize civilian casualties, warning people to get out of the way and indicating we have no objection to humanitarian aid moving through Egypt in order to reach the people in need. And we hope that in the days to come, we know the fighting is going to

be difficult and it is going to be hard, but we're only just beginning in our efforts to destroy the Hamas machine.


We hope that we are going to be able to target the Hamas terror infrastructure inside the Gaza Strip with minimal harm to civilians who, you know, despite the scenes of jubilation that we saw on the streets of Gaza when Hamas returned with Israeli hostages, returning from the massacre and despite those images that really nauseated everyone in Israel, we don't want civilians to be heard. And Israel, we don't want civilians to be hurt, and Israel has no objection to the humanitarian aid reaching them through Egypt.

TAPPER: All right. Eylon Levy, thank you so much for your time today. Really appreciate your time.

LEVY: Thank you.

TAPPER: Several Israeli soldiers were killed obviously on the day of the Hamas attack. Up next, the mother of one of those soldiers reflects on her son's life.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: President Biden on Air Force One talking to reporters about his trip to Israel. Let's listen.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Virtually, every mass shooting, every circumstance where a large number of people have been victimized and lost (INAUDIBLE) I learned a long time ago, you already knew it, when someone is going through something that is beyond their comprehension, that they ever thought (INAUDIBLE), they see someone who they think understands or maybe going through something, not the same but similar. It gives them some sense of hope.

And I always get criticized sometimes by my staff because I go to these events and stay three or four hours and answer all the questions. But it matters. It matters a lot.

And -- and, look, I am talking to some of you that have gone through a heck of a lot more than I have gone through, and a lot more than other people have gone through. And you understand (INAUDIBLE) people are looking for something to grab, something that gives them sense -- a sense of hope, and that's -- if I can get a little bit of that, it's, you know, it's worth doing for me.


REPORTER: Do you think it was necessary for you to come here to get this in person diplomacy really important here? BIDEN: What do you think? I'll let you answer that.

REPORTER: Your view of the House. Do you have any view of Jim Jordan and his predicament?

BIDEN: My view of what?

REPORTER: Do you have a view of Jim Jordan's current predicament, unable to secure the speakership?



BIDEN: Zero, none, none.

REPORTER: Mr. President, people all over the region are upset about the hospital and don't necessarily believe you or the Israelis that they didn't have anything to do with it. Do you have a message to the people on the streets right now?

BIDEN: Well, I can understand why in a certain sense, they wouldn't believe it. I can understand that. I would not (INAUDIBLE) I did not say things like that unless I have faith in the source from which I've gotten it. Our Defense Department says it is highly unlikely that it wasn't Israeli, and different footprint, and intercepts -- anyway. And so that's why you notice, I didn't say (INAUDIBLE) and I want to make sure -- look, I'm not suggesting that Hamas deliberately did it either.

(INAUDIBLE) and it's not the first time Hamas has launched something and it malfunctioned. So I don't know all the details, but I do know the people at the defense department who I respect, it's highly improbable but Israel did this.

REPORTER: Mr. President, are the Israelis operating within the rules of war that you talked about last week being so important?

BIDEN: Good talking to you.

REPORTER: Thank you so much, sir.

BIDEN: Appreciate it.

TAPPER: We have President Biden returning from his trip to Israel, he had hoped to meet with more leaders than just Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Let's bring in MJ Lee at the White House.

And, MJ, obviously, Prime Netanyahu, the president had a good meeting with him, reaffirmed the alliance with the United States and Israel, but obviously had to have been disappointing. He really wanted to meet with the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as the leaders of Jordan and Egypt. That was canceled in the wake of the tragedy at the hospital in Gaza, a tragedy that the U.S. and Israel was are asserting it was not done by Israel. But that did not seem to matter to the Arab leaders. MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and Jake, it is

really unusual for the president to come back to the back of the plane to have this kind of moment, taking questions from reporters.


My read off the bat is that that is a president who wanted to sort of emphasize the reason that he decided to go ahead with this trip anyway, even after that Jordan portion of the trip was canceled. It was a little bit hard to hear obviously over the engine noise, but he did say initially that he felt that it was important that when you have the opportunity to alleviate the pain of people that you should do it. That you should seize that opportunity, obviously he is talking about the great suffering that has taken place in the region since last weekend.

A couple of other things worth noting, he was asked a couple of times about the issue of the humanitarian aid. And he said repeatedly that he got no pushback. He said virtually, none from all of the partners on the issue of getting humanitarian aid into Gaza. Obviously, after his trip has concluded, even though the president did say that Israel had agreed to let this aid through to Gaza, they are still out fielding questions as to how that is going to happen, and on what timeline.

He also made a comment about how hopefully we will get some Americans out as well. I assume that he was talking about some of these unaccounted Americans in Gaza. We still believe that there are a handful of Americans that have been typhoon hostage by Hamas, but the information about that situation has been very scant as well.

We don't know anything still about the conditions of those American hostages and where they are. Exactly what the number is. So these are all the questions that he is still confronting as he leaves from this trip, as he has concluded this trip to Israel, even though, you know, U.S. officials, Jake, have been saying all along that it was so important for him to go to Israel anyways to show this sort of resoundingly solidarity by the U.S. for the government of Israel, for Benjamin Netanyahu, for the people of Israel, there are just going to be some questions asked as to what tangible sort of positives he was able to get from this trip, this remarkable trip to a war zone area.

And I think you make a good point about how so much of that ended up being scrambled in the end because of this hospital blasting Gaza, and the fact that he really wasn't able to have those face to face meetings with a number of the Arab leaders that he very much wished to have seen. He could have seen them in person and talked to them in the room.

So, yeah, again, I think this was a president that wanted to take the opportunity to directly talk to the reporters on Air Force One to try to explain with his own words why he believed this trip was worth making after all.

TAPPER: All right. MJ Lee, thanks so much.

We're going to take a quick break. We'll be right back.



TAPPER: Many Israeli soldiers were killed as they responded to Hamas's terrorist attack on October 7th. Yannai Kaminka was one of them, a dual Israeli-American citizen. He was killed on the frontlines, in southern Israel near Gaza, as he and other soldiers kept Hamas from attacking a nearby kibbutz.

And joining us now is Yannai's other, Elana Kaminka.

Elana, I'm so sorry. We talk to you under the circumstances about the loss of your son. You were supposed to visit him at the base where he was stationed on the day of the attack.

Do you think about what might have happened if you had actually been there that day? Is that something you consider?

ELANA KAMINKA, MOTHER OF ISRAELI-AMERICAN SOLDIER KILLED IN OCT. 7 ATTACK: I can't even start. We couldn't even imagine, that I don't think anyone in Israel could've imagined in their worst nightmares imagined what happened on October 7th. My son was in a search and rescue unit. And they were dedicated to helping civilians in disaster situations like earthquakes and protecting civilians. And I never, ever could imagine what happened on October 7th, my very worst nightmare.

TAPPER: Tell us about him, because you've said that your son blossomed in the role of helping other people?

KAMINKA: Yeah, he was 20 years old, but he had an extremely strong personal ethos. And I think that's so rare for a 20-year-old to have. He held his cards close and we didn't know everything about it until now when we are starting to hear from his soldiers who are coming to visit us.

But he believed in seeing that humanity in every single person, and that's -- he did that as a counselor for scouts when he was in high school. He did it in his ear of civilian service. And he did in the military, which is a really, really hard framework in which to see the humanity of other people. But he worked at that. And that was his personal ideology.

And he would sit with his soldiers. He told me several times that he doesn't want to earn their respect by his rank and his seniority or his authority, but by showing them that he cares about them. And he would spend his free time walking around to see his soldiers in different guard posts, and just engaging them and talking to them about their families and their interests and their goals and their pain, and trying to understand their psyche and trying to get it to their mind.

Several people said to us, they felt like he had X-ray eyes that could just look into -- into your soul and see who you were. And that's -- that's what he, that's what motivated him. That's kind of human connection. And I think, you know, that was something that was kind of a connection through everything he did throughout his life.

TAPPER: Sounds like a really special guy.

You also have said that the idea of more lives being lost terrors you apart. But what do you make of where the war is now? And how the government of Israel has responded so far?


KAMINKA: I don't have any expertise, I'm a mother. I don't know anything about -- I can't give -- I can't even imagine being in the position of decision-makers in the government. I can say that October 7th was a horrific day.

There's nobody who has come to console us -- come to visit us in the last week and a half who haven't been to numerous other funerals of friends, family, children, old people, whole families that were lost. It's like a tear through the Israeli psyche. I've been active in coalition, peace, and my son was the same way. We believe in those things.

But I don't see how, you know, massacres of babies in their beds advanced that, and I hope that whoever makes the decisions. And again, I'm not -- I don't have any idea, I'm not a military professional, I don't have to make these decisions, but I hope that it's with the thought process of how we can all heal from this terrible tragedy, and how we can build our lives, back both Israelis and Palestinians who aren't Hamas members.

Because I think that what Hamas did end up hurting everyone, both Palestinians and Israelis. It wasn't to anyone's benefit on either side.

TAPPER: No, obviously not, and there's so many people that were killed that day that we're actually active members of the peace movement. You know, people that did a lot to try to bring about a two- state solution and people protested Netanyahu, people who protested the oppression of Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank.

Did you -- did you listen to anything President Biden --


TAPPER: Go ahead, I'm sorry.

KAMINKA: Yeah, I mean, we believe deeply in peace, and coexistence, and that's what we worked at. And unite, again, he put his life on the line, keeping other people safe. It wasn't nonaggression, it wasn't -- he knew civilians were at his back, he saw his trainees, he was an officer. And even though he was only 20 years old, he saw his trainees as his children. And he was involved in their lives.

And as a parent, you put your life on the line to protect your children. And he literally put his body, and not only him, him and his other commanders, they didn't send their trainees to the front, they sent their trains to the back, to the bomb shelters. And they stood up to protect them.

And it was because they knew that if the Hamas terrorists were able to get, inside there were massacres in bases, just random massacres. And he didn't -- he was not an aggressive person, he was a person who believed in peace and coexistence, and it was truly putting his life on the line to protect others, which is so much of who he was.

TAPPER: Yeah, he sounds like a wonderful, wonderful guy.

Elana, thank you so much. And may Yannai's memory be a blessing. Thank you so much for talking to us today.

KAMINKA: Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up, the House will not hold another vote for speaker tonight, after Congressman Jim Jordan failed to muster the adequate number of votes to clinch the job earlier today -- again.

Coming up next, I'm going to talk to one congressman who is fervently against Jordan's speaker bid. I'm going to ask him about the pressure tactics that are not only being used against him, but against his wife.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: Big story here in Washington, D.C. is the fight or struggle to select a new House speaker.

Today, Congressman Jim Jordan failed to clinch enough votes to win the job, again. The House is set to vote again, that will be a third time, tomorrow at noon.

This comes as CNN is learning that Jordan's opponents have been deploying an interesting strategy on how to pressure the Ohio Republicans to drop out. They are drawing straws for who will vote against Jordan on each ballot so that the opposition to his candidacy appears to grow. The house is now been without a speaker for two weeks after Kevin McCarthy was ousted.

With us now to discuss, Republican Congressman Don Bacon of Nebraska. He voted against Jim Jordan for speaker on both ballots.

Congressman, thanks so much for joining us.

REP. DON BACON (R-NE): Thank you, Jake.

TAPPER: So we've seen what some would call a pressure campaign, others are calling a bullying campaign against individuals who are not on the Jordan train. Sadly, your wife got some ugly anonymous text messages warning her to

convince you to back Jordan in a speaker vote. One of them read, quote, why is your husband causing chaos, by not supporting Jim Jordan? I thought he was a team player.

Your wife responds, who is this? And, then oh, now you have nothing to. Say this person text again, your husband will not hold any political office ever again, what a disappointment and failure he is.

People are really tough when they are anonymous.

But that's pretty ugly stuff to send to your wife, I see from your vote today they obviously did not have the desired effect.

BACON: You know, I'm a 30-year Air Force guy, a retired general, commanded five times, deployed four times, led a flying squad in a combat. So if they think a pressure campaign or bullying campaign is going to work with me it's not.

In fact, it's angered me. It's angered my good friend Steve Womack who is a retired colonel, for example, and Mario Diaz-Balart, he's angered. The way to get to assist through intellectual discussion, and to work through the concerns that we have.

But to threaten us with primaries, threaten us with the shenanigans and sending anonymous texts and phone calls, they were calling my wife anonymously, as she has recorded some of them. So it's wrong.

Some folks are so mad they don't mind what boundaries they cross. But it's not right. We can like each other and still disagree. But some people don't have that ability.

TAPPER: Has that ever happened to you before? Your wife getting nasty phone calls and texts like that?

BACON: No, one time, they had people -- people screaming at her in the neighborhood. So she didn't like that. I guess I am used to it's more. So she does get a little bit. But, obviously, I get the 98 or 99 percent of that.

But it's not right to take it out on family. Like I said, she was not angry, bless her, she just shared with me and said send it to me, because it's not right. So I released it and I appreciate you covering it.

We've got to do better in our country. We can debate politics and still not treat each other terribly and wrongfully. We should be able to be respectful in our debate.

TAPPER: So, in fact, Jordan is doing worse than he did yesterday. He had fewer votes than he did yesterday. A spokesman for Jordan said that he's not dropping out, we're going to keep, quote, going.

Do you see Jordan getting to 217 anytime soon? Or do you think he's going to keep doing worse and worse? BACON: I believe he's done. He needs to say -- he needs to withdraw

from this. He is going to lose more votes tomorrow, I know it already have. I know who is going to cross over and change.

He doesn't have any pathway for the 217. And there's two different reasons why. There's some groups that have worked with him going back ten years, and they've worked with him on appropriations. More senior folks are -- he's caught creating a lot of chaos.

I am in the other camp where I don't like how he got here, right? He got here with a small number of Jordan backers who, eight of them, for example, seven of them backed him. There was eight total. That was vacated the chart Kevin McCarthy.

Our rule state in the Republican conference, you're going to have 112, right? And they came in with eight. It violated our rules. They filed the rules, you have to have 112.

And then we voted for Steve Scalise. He got the majority vote. And then we had five Jordan backers say they would never vote for Steve, right? But only would vote for Jim Jordan right after Steve won.

And also at the same time, Jim Jordan told everybody that he would only get behind Steven if he had 217 votes. That is not our rules. What is, in our rules, if you get the majority, you get behind that person, whoever has the majority you vote together on the floor.

And so, that was a straw that broke my camel's back there. When those five Jordan folks said they would never vote for Steve, right after the election. But voted for Jim. And Steve was there and he didn't speak up, which means that he is somewhat complicit.

You can't play a game where I am the only guy playing by the rules and the other guy is not. It's not American, we believe in fairness and that the law applies to everybody. And that wasn't the case with a small group of individuals here.

TAPPER: But I have to ask you, I mean, I hear what you are saying about all of this, but Jim Jordan was part of the effort to overturn the presidential election. I mean, you know, did that bother you?

BACON: Well, I disagree with it. Obviously, I voted to certify the election. But truth be told, about half of our conference had in some of those states didn't vote to --

TAPPER: Two thirds of your conference.

BACON: Yeah, right. I'm not one. I'm not one of those guys who did. I thought it was our constitutional duty to do that. But yes, it bothered me. But our rules would be that if we debate and we put all of it together, once you get a majority, you should get behind him.

I didn't vote for Jim Jordan. I voted for Kevin McCarthy. I voted for Steve Scalise. But our rules are that you support the winner of this. In this case, we were never respected in that. At every turn, a small group went against the majority, they were able

to take out McCarthy and block Steve. And so, at that point you can't -- you can't play an unlevel playing field, that was what was going on.

TAPPER: So, who's going to be your speaker? Is Patrick McHenry going to get it by default do you think?

BACON: I think he's one of the most likely guys to do it. He's reluctant, which makes them one of the best. He has the respect from everybody in the conference. I think Kevin McCarthy still has a good chance to be our next speaker, frankly.

There's other people, Tom Cole, great guy for Oklahoma, wildly respected. We have younger folks like Congressman Green from Tennessee or Congressman Hern from Oklahoma. We have folks that can win 218 votes.

What happened here is you have two people that the Jordan team, not Jordan himself necessarily, but the undermined of him, which gave Jim Jordan a lot of baggage because we are all angry about how the other two are treated. And that's -- I think we should clean the slate and start anew.

TAPPER: All right. Congressman Don Bacon, from Nebraska, good to see you, sir, always -- always a pleasure.

BACON: Thank you.

TAPPER: THE LEAD will continue right now.

President Biden on Air Force One flying home from Israel. His trip to call for peace was complicated by that deadly blast at a Gaza hospital that killed 100 reportedly. President Biden said in Israel that he has seen intelligence that the cause of the hospital explosion was a misfired rocket from Islamic Jihad and Islamic militant group in Gaza.