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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Hostages Reunited With Families; Hamas Leader's Son Wants Justice For Israel; U.S. Considers Hostages Held By Hamas; No Happy Birthday For Kid Kidnapped By Hamas; Sources: Hamas Releases Two Israeli Hostages; Palestinian Father On Air Strike That Killed His 14- Year-Old Daughter; Soon: GOP Holds Candidate Forum To Pick Next Speaker Nominee. Aired 5-6p ET

Aired October 23, 2023 - 17:00   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: They were met by paramedics and taken away in ambulances, they become the third and fourth hostages released by Hamas after two Americans were released on Friday.

Israel has also told the U.S. that they believe some of the American hostages still held by Hamas are alive, but the fate of many other hostages remains unknown. Hamas kidnapped 222 innocent people during its deadly heinous invasion on October 7th, 222 it is believed.

And negotiating the release of these remaining hostages is one of the big reasons the U.S. wants Israel to delay its ground incursion into Gaza. The Israeli defense minister saying an operation by air, ground and sea will be coming, quote, "soon." The IDF today said Israeli soldiers are taking part in training exercises to improve their capabilities for future ground operations.

The other reason the U.S. wants Israel to delay any ground offensive is to make sure that more humanitarian aid can get into Gaza to help the innocents, the innocent Palestinians. As of now, 54 aid trucks have entered Gaza, but relief groups warn much, much more help is necessary.

To put this into context, the area normally gets about 455 aid trucks every day since October 7th. Gaza is more than 7,000 truckloads short of normal standards. But a senior Israeli official told CNN there will be no ceasefire. The IDF says it hit more than 320 targets overnight. Those strikes killed at least 436 people, including 182 children. That is according to the Palestinian Health Ministry, which we should note is controlled by Hamas. So, take that claim for what it's worth.

Let's get right to CNN's Nic Robertson in Sderot, which is outside of Gaza, and CNN's Alex Marquardt in Washington, D.C.

Nic, we are now seeing this new video of these latest two release hostages. Walk us through this video. What exactly are we seeing?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, what we're seeing them is them being released at the Rafah crossing at the south of the Gaza Strip into Egypt. Remembering at the weekend or late Friday night, we saw the other two American hostages released at the Kerem Shalom border crossing out of Gaza into Israel.

So, these two have been released into Egypt. We've seen them there at the border getting some medical treatment, rudimentary medical treatment in ambulances there before being transferred on expected for their journey back into Israel shortly.

TAPPER: Alex, what we're hearing that one of the daughters of one of the hostages made a statement?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jake, the daughter of Yocheved Lifshitz Sharon has made a statement confirming some of the details that we had learned from sources, but also, of course, expressing joy at the release of her mother, who goes by Yoche, we are told, as well as Nurit Cooper, who is 79 years old. Yocheved Lifshitz, 85 years old.

The statement says, while I cannot put into words the relief that she is now safe, I will remain focused on securing the release of my father and all those some 200 innocents who remain hostage in Gaza. So her father along with her mother were both hostages. Her mother has now been released.

As Nic noted, we are still waiting to hear when the two women will be handed over to Israeli authorities. We can imagine that they will then be taken into military custody perhaps for more medical checkups. This is the same format, essentially, the broad strokes, at least, that we saw with Judith and Natalie Raanan on Friday when they were released by Hamas.

Jake, this begs all kinds of questions about what happens next. There are certainly going to be some questions for the prime minister's office because he had dismissed as false propaganda a Hamas statement over the weekend that they were ready to release two more of their hostages.

And of course, this is going to put a lot more pressure on Israel to delay that ground incursion so that there can be more time for more of these hostages to come out and more aid to go in to Gaza, Jake.

TAPPER: Nic, how are the IDF's preparations for any ground incursion going?

ROBERTSON: According to the army chief of general staff just a few hours ago, he said we're ready. Everything's ready for a ground -- a ground incursion in the south, meaning around Gaza. And from what we've seen, the troops are there, the heavy battle armor is there, the tanks that you would expect to be at the forefront of an incursion are there, the heavy armored fighting vehicles that you'd expect for the infantry to be following the tanks in are there.


And also, the heavy up-armored mechanical diggers that would go ahead of the tanks to help clear the route, clear the route through the walls, through the fence and through the areas where it's possible Hamas, Palestinian and Islamic Jihad could have been laying booby traps, IEDs, planning ambushes, all those sorts of things. They're going to be the immediate danger for the troops as they go into the Gaza Strip.

But from everything we've seen the preparations have been laid, the troops are there, soldiers we've talked to have said, look, we've been stood up, stood down. Commanders we've talked to have said we're using this time for training, it's helped us in the past, in previous battles. So the army seems very ready and at this moment absolutely intent.

TAPPER: Nic, I wanted to ask you, we've been talking on the show about urban warfare, urban combat, because you know, obviously Gaza is very densely populated, and specifically General Kimmitt compared Gaza to the bloody battle of Fallujah in 2004. We've talked about it with Petraeus, we've talked about it with Kimmitt. You covered it. Talk about that and how tough that was and how tougher this could be.

ROBERTSON: Yes, I think this fight in going into Gaza will be orders of magnitude tougher for the IDF. They've been in before. They know the terrain, but this is also Hamas's own turf, so they will have laid plenty of booby traps.

There are differences between Fallujah, significant differences between Fallujah and Gaza. I've been in the Gaza as well. The roads there are so narrow, it's very densely populated. There are a lot of big tall buildings. Fallujah as I remember with the marines on the streets there, we were running down streets but they were wider, they were more like boulevards, there were bigger villas, there was less, if you will, of urban infrastructure and less places for, you know, terrorists to hide out and ambush the troops as they were going in.

And that was a very dangerous environment and several times we got pulled into firefights. I remember being in the middle of a firefight when we were supposed to be dropped off from a Bradley fighting vehicle, it got diverted, pulled into a firefight.

So, there are all sorts of things that are going to happen on the ground that are not part of the original plan. But the other thing, I think that's a significant difference, other than really this is a well-dug in and well-prepared force. Hamas have been in Gaza for years, decades.

Al-Qaeda in Falluja really, although some of them were indigenous, they'd only really been stood up as a fighting force for about a year and it was easy for them to fall back out of the town environment the urban fight and into the farm, into the farm lands and escape the fight. Here the enemy is going to be contained and constrained in an area of essentially where they can pick and direct the fight. It's going to be tough.

TAPPER: CNN's Nic Robertson and Alex Marquardt. thank you so much.

Joining us now, Mosab Hassan Yousef. He is the son of a Hamas founding father and later become -- became one of Israel's top informants. He went undercover with Hamas from 1997 until 2007 on behalf of Israel's Shin Bet security services and he now lives in an undisclosed location.

Mosab, Yousef, thank you so much for joining us. What did you see and experience that made you turn on Hamas and help Israel?

MOSAB HASSAN YOUSEF, SON OF HAMAS FOUNDING LEADER: You know, since I was a child, I always complained to my father about Hamas' abuse of power and their brutality. You know, they're very strict and they're very religious. They're fanatics. But I did not think at some point, you know, they would cause all this global trouble.

You know, they are, we saw their brutality. I witness their brutality firsthand when I was in prison, when they tortured so many Palestinian people for suspicion of collaborating with Israel. And this is basically when I start questioning Hamas movement.

TAPPER: Did the barbarity and the cruelty of what Hamas did to innocent civilians on October 7th, did that surprise you?


YOUSEF: Well, you know, they surprised me as they surprised everybody by the scale of the attack. You know. we did not see that coming but their brutality, their nature, it did not surprise me. You know, back in 1996, they killed so many people, they torture so many people. Our, you know, prison mates, basically, people I knew personally, they did all type of crazy things, you know. They put needles under people's fingernails, you know, and I witnessed that firsthand.

So, I'm not surprised to what extent Hamas can go. But the scale of the attack on October 7th that was surprise, I think for everybody, including Hamas themselves.

TAPPER: Were you surprised at the failure of Israeli intelligence on October 7th?

YOUSEF: Listen, there was a failure, but this is not the time to blame anybody. There is corruption, there is failure, there is lack of leadership, but this is not the time now to blame anybody. This is the time to get unified. You know, the United States need to give Israel the necessary cover to uproot Hamas.

You know, Hamas -- Israel is fighting on behalf of America, Israel is fighting on behalf of the Palestinian people, Israel now is fighting on behalf of the free world. This is not political propaganda.

I, as an ex-Hamas member, the son of the founder of Hamas organization, and today as an American citizen, I ask the president of the United States to give Israel the necessary cover, the necessary supply, whatever it takes to uproot Hamas. Otherwise, the next war is going to be deadlier.

TAPPER: I know that you think that Hamas is the enemy of not just Israel, but the Palestinian people. Strategically, do you think it is wise for the Israeli Defense Forces to stage a ground incursion into Gaza to uproot Hamas? Do you think that's a smart thing to do? YOUSEF: Well, you know, now it's a wartime, unfortunately. And this

war, Israel did not start. Hamas started this war. And Hamas, in fact, in this equation, blood for money, they start a war every few years whenever they want money. You know, they shed children's blood. This is their game. And this has to stop. This has to come to an end.

And unfortunately, the price is not going to be cheap. In fact, I feel very sorry for Israel that they have to go into Gaza, where there are booby traps all over the place and tunnels all over the place. I don't know how many Israeli soldiers have to die in order to destroy Hamas.

This is the most complicated mission a modern army has in our -- in our modern day. Now what I suggest, you know, to the Israelis that they wait, they take their time, they collect intelligence. And what I need from the United States to give enough support, in fact, I would like to see the Navy SEALs taking part in this. I know this sounds horrible, but again, I speak as a taxpayer, as an American today, that we need to be unified. We need to give Israel the support. We need to free Palestinians and free Gaza from Hamas ruling.

TAPPER: You were embedded with Hamas before you were, well first you were with Hamas and then you were embedded with Hamas on behalf of the Shin Bet. What can you tell us about what motivates these people? What are they like? What are the leaders of Hamas like? What do they want?

YOUSEF: Well, they are a religious movement. And this is what everybody's afraid to say. If Hamas was a political movement, then we can satisfy their political ambition. But Hamas is a religious movement that does not believe in political borders.

You know, they want to establish an Islamic state on the rubble of the state of Israel. They want to annihilate the Jewish people and the Jewish state. They want to kill everybody who supports Israel, then establish an Islamic state. But this is not the end because their ambition is global. They want to establish eventually an Islamic state, a global state.


So, this is what's on their mind. And we know that we cannot satisfy their ambition. And the more power, you know, we give them, the more aggressive they are going to be. Hence, we cannot give Hamas what they want. We cannot give them what they are asking for, whatever it takes. You know, in war, people die. And we need to prepare public. You know, I say that this is an ugly war. Israel did not start it, but Israel will end it.

TAPPER: So the United States insists that the aid being provided for civilians in Gaza will not go to Hamas. Do you believe that the aid will not go to Hamas? Do you believe that the aid will only go to the innocent Palestinians?

YOUSEF: You know, the United States and Europe have been very generous with the Palestinian people. But their leadership steal the money all the time. They steal the aid. So much aid came into Gaza. Hamas used all that aid to build tunnels under the ground. And now look at the chaos they are creating.

Aid is great, but not right now. I suggest that we open the border for the Palestinian innocent people including women children and elders to leave the Gaza Strip or to go into a safe zone. In the meantime, we have to enforce unbreachable siege on Hamas. Otherwise, we are not able to deplete them.

They are under the ground. They have hostages. We have to cut power. We cannot give them food. We cannot give them water and we have to deplete them for long weeks before we can even go in, you know, Otherwise, we cannot win this war against this brutal enemy, enemy of humanity.

TAPPER: Mosab Yousef, thank you so much for your time. Really, really appreciate your insights.

YOUSEF: You're welcome. Thank you. Thank you for having me.

TAPPER: Israel believes that more than 20 of the hostages currently being held by Hamas are children, one of them a young boy who should be, right now, celebrating his birthday. His family will join me next.



TAPPER: On October 7th, 8-year-old Ohad Munder Zachary and his mother were visiting his grandparents when Hamas invaded and brutally attacked their Kibbutz, burning their home to the ground. Ohad, his mother Karen, and his grandparents were all kidnapped. Today is Ohad's birthday. He turns nine years old. Instead of celebrating with his friends and family, he's a prisoner of a terrorist group.

And two members of this family join me right now, Merav and Itay Raviv. Thank you so much for being here. And I can't even imagine what's going through your head. How is the family marking Ohad's ninth birthday?

MERAV RAVIV, FAMILY TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: Actually, we had an idea of having a campaign of celebrating his birthday, not celebrating, but mention his birthday today. So we asked via all media for everyone in Israel to hang a balloon for --


TAPPER: That's why you have the balloon --

M. RAVIV: Yes.

TAPPER: -- for his birthday.

M. RAVIV: The balloon is red since Ohad, his uncle liked Liverpool, which is red, and his team in Israel, their color is also red. Ohad and his mother leaves in Kefar Sava. They just came to visit, as you said, to visit in Nir Oz. So today all Kefar Sava all their town was filled with balloons and all over children flew balloons and wrote letters. And it was amazing to see that all the Israelis, and also abroad.

In London we had videos from London and from San Francisco that kids tried to have, you know, to kind of celebrate his birthday.

TAPPER: Itay, not how a nine-year-old should be celebrating his birthday.

ITAY RAVIV, FAMILY TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: No, definitely not. I think kids should not be in Hamas's hands. Kids should not be inside captivity of a terror organization. We also saw what Hamas is capable of. Two weeks ago, we saw the atrocities, how they raped, murdered, burned to the ground people alive, kids with their parents.

And you know, there's almost 30 kids now in the hands of Hamas and they should all be free. Now they should all be released as soon as possible. If we talk about humanitarian aid, we talk about humanity, kids inside of Hamas's hands is inhumane in any way possible. There's kids there who lost their --


M. RAVIV: From the age nine months, from Nir Oz, there is a baby who is nine months old and we don't know if he has his formulas, if he has his diapers.

I. RAVIV: There's even, there's kids there without their parents. Their parents got murdered on --


M. RAVIV: In front of them.

I. RAVIV: -- in front of them and they were taken into Gaza by Hamas. We have to remember that Hamas is ISIS and they're a vicious terror organization and all kids should be released immediately. Immediately.

TAPPER: How did you find out that this happened?

M. RAVIV: First of all, first thing in Saturday morning, there was a -- we knew that there are bombs, that there are missiles from Gaza. We used to it, because my aunt and uncle -- my aunt and uncle lived there from the early 60s. OK.


And the last 20 or 15 years they are bombing all the time. So, we got used to it. And we have the WhatsApp group of the family and we ask them, how are you? And I didn't know that Karen, my cousin and her son went to Nir Oz that weekend. You know, we are good cousins, but I don't know each day what she's doing.

So around 11, I text her, what's going on with your parents, since we knew that we didn't have a connection with her parents. And unfortunately, on 11 a.m., she was already in Gaza with her parents and her son. It took time to understand what's going on. At the beginning, we

thought there's no electricity, there's no connection with the -- there's no Wi-Fi. That's why they don't call us. But then from the marvelous, nice Kibbutz, they left only 150 people out of 400.

So only on Saturday night, someone that I asked her, that I knew her and I knew that her parents live in Nir Oz, I called her and she said, listen, they're not on the survival list and they are not on the dead list, meaning they're probably kidnapped. And then the army came and told us that they have their reason to believe that they kidnapped them.

TAPPER: So, the government has been in touch with you, because we've talked to other families that the government wasn't in touch.

I. RAVIV: Yes, so it took some time. At the beginning there was a lot of chaos. Nobody knew what exactly is going -- was going on. But after a few days we had contact from the government telling us that they know that our family is inside Gaza. At the beginning we also thought that Roi (Ph), who was murdered, was also with them. But it was just due to the time it took to figure out his body.

You know, Hamas, they didn't just settle for killing and murdering everyone. They also burned their bodies and just beheaded people's heads. And it was so difficult for the government and all the authorities to match the DNA that the families gave them with the bodies that they found.

So, like we told you, only yesterday there was the funeral of Roi (Ph) who was murdered more than two weeks ago.

M. RAVIV: There are two -- more than 200 bodies that are not recognized yet because of the conditions of the body. Roi (Ph), my cousin's house, is burned. I can show you the film. Someone came there and took the video. It's burned. You see nothing. Nothing.

TAPPER: What do you want to say to the people who have -- who have your family right now? What, if you could -- if they're watching right now what would you say to them?

I. RAVIV: Let them go. They're innocent. They're innocent civilians.

TAPPER: What would you say to the leaders of Turkey or Qatar or Egypt?

I. RAVIV: If you -- if you actually care about people and you want to seem humane and you want to connect with the West and present yourself as liberal and loving mankind, you should do everything to release all civilians.

M. RAVIV: Listen, we and all the Kibbutz next to the Gaza border are peace-lovers. You know, my uncle lived there for more than 60 years. He used, with his friends, he used to take people from, and kids from Gaza, to health care in Israeli hospitals, because they didn't have good hospitals in Israel.

We had lots of programs. The Kibbutz made a lot of -- peace programs. They had things with kids, exchange kids, showing, --


M. RAVIV: -- talking with kids, explaining kids what peace is, trying to be good neighbors. And, you know, the Hamas, instead of taking the money that the Qatar gives them to educate the people, to build big the hospitals, to build university or places to work, they use it with weapons against us. And what else we discovered? That we gave people to come to work in Israel, since we wanted them to have money. And we wanted them to have salary. And instead of that, you know, they had maps of all the kibbutz's, they had maps, each family where do they live, you know.


In Nir Oz, the first couple who were shot that they just went jogging on Saturday morning, they called the ambulance driver and they told -- they call him on the phone and they told him, someone shot us. So the ambulance driver went out of his house, and he saw that the ambulance was on fire. So everything was planned. They have a factory in Nir Oz. It's all burned. They just did it, you know, to destroy everything in the kibbutz. It's like the Holocaust. Believe me. I know stories. I live here for 60 years in Israel. I heard a lot of evidence for -- from survivals from the Holocaust, same stories.

TAPPER: Intricately planned and strategized, absolutely. Itay and Merav, thank you so much for being here.

RAVIV: Thank you.

TAPPER: I hope we can come back next year and celebrate the 10th birthday, celebrate the 10th birthday.

New information just coming in on those two hostages were released this evening by Hamas what we're learning about how they were taken. And some of their family members that Israel says are still being held. Stay with us.



TAPPER: Welcome back to The Lead. I'm Jake Tapper live in Tel Aviv. And we are getting some new information about the two hostages that were just released by Hamas earlier this evening. The Israeli Prime Minister's Office says that 79-year-old, Nurit Cooper and 85-year-old Yocheved Lifshitz are headed down to a medical center in Israel where they will be reunited with family. Israeli officials say that their husbands who were kidnapped are still being held by Hamas. CNN's Matthew Chance is with me here in Tel Aviv. Matthew, we know that Hamas did not release these two old ladies, these two elderly ladies for humanitarian reasons they're not -- they don't do anything for humanitarian reasons. So why did they do it?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I mean, it's difficult to say, isn't it? But we can say that Hamas had been releasing, these are the second group of two hostages they've released the last group were on Friday.

TAPPER: The last two were Americans. That seems significant.

CHANCE: Yes. But they're doing it sort of almost on the eve of when expectations rise for that land defenses, that offensive that we're all expecting. So it's almost said they're sort of, you know, kind of showing the Israelis or, you know, sort of telling the Israelis, you know, don't go in right now, there are more hostages that could come out and sort of --

TAPPER: Or signaling even to the Americans kind of right, like oh, look your son.

CHANCE: Yes, you know, because the strategy, maybe it's working, because, you know, we now know that the U.S. has been putting pressure on Israel asking them to delay this military offensive to allow for humanitarian aid to go in, but also to allow for this process of hostage negotiations, which is taking place between the United States and Qatar are in touch directly with Hamas to actually yield results, you know what, it is yielding some results in the sense that these two people came out to date, two people came out on Friday.

And yes, it's a slow process, and may drag on for weeks and weeks and weeks. You know, but you know, these people are coming out alive. If people -- if the Israeli army go in, you know, with all those hostages, more than 200 of them not released, their fate is, you know, is very, very uncertain indeed, so please (ph).

TAPPER: So we're also seeing this increase in crossfire in the north, near the Israel-Lebanon border. And you've been reporting from the area. It's not just Hamas that Israel is fighting, quite obviously, especially with fighting in the north.

CHANCE: No. It's Hamas, its other Palestinian militant groups in southern Lebanon. But of course, it's mainly Hezbollah, the Iranian- backed militia that controls most of the territory, all of the territory in southern Lebanon, there's been sort of a daily ramping up of, you know, anti-tank missiles fired to, you know, Israeli positions, the other side of the border, that when I was there, there were a couple of infiltrations of Hezbollah fighters inside Israel.

One of them actually got into Israel, and they had to hunt him down for half a day. So incredibly frightening given what happened a couple of weeks ago, obviously. I mean, look, what the Israelis say is that they will not strike hard into Lebanon, unless they're -- this really escalates beyond where we are now. And they said, we're not at that point yet.

But, you know, a lot of the civilians you talked to out there in northern Israel say they're not going to go back to their homes. Remember, they've all been evacuated, tens of thousands of people, they're not going to go back while the Hezbollah threat is still live just across the border. And, you know, behind the scenes, Israeli officials are telling me that they will no longer tolerate the status quo on that northern border with Hezbollah fighters, literally just over the fence threatening Israelis and they'd know what they're going to do yet. But the status quo they're saying will not be allowed to last.

TAPPER: Matthew Chance, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

A man's play to the Biden administration after an Israeli airstrike hit his family home in Gaza. We're back in a moment.



TAPPER: Welcome back to The Lead, live from Tel Aviv, Israel. As many as 600 Americans are trapped in Gaza, according to the U.S. State Department. One is Yousof Abu Shaban, a U.S. citizen who lives in Gaza. An Israeli airstrike hit his home and killed his 14-year-old sister. Before I traveled here to Israel, I spoke over the phone with Yousof's father, Abdelaziz Anwar, who told me about that tragic moment.


TAPPER: Thank you so much for joining us, sir. I am so, so sorry to hear about your daughter. That's so unspeakably horrible. Can you tell us what happened?


ABDELAZIZ ANWAR, DAUGHTER KILLED & SON: Yes. Actually after, after six days of the start of the war, the Israelis sent messages to the phone who live in Gaza and the northern Gaza (inaudible) strip to leave to go to the southern part of Gaza strip.

But my problem, as well as a lot of Gazan people, I don't have any place to go and I decided to stay in my home, thinking that it will be safe. We find that, suddenly, a rocket hit our place in the basement and killed my daughter and hurt me and my all -- and my wife, my son, Yousof and my other daughter.

And I have break in my arm and I have some problems with, I lost part of my arm and that's the same, the same case happened with my daughter as well. And Yousof has problems with his jaws and he needs special treatment. And as you see, Al Shifa hospital is overcrowded with injuries and there is no equipment to deal with a huge of injuries.

TAPPER: So you're not a you're not a U.S. citizen Abdelaziz but your son Yousof is -- he is -- your son, Yousof is a U.S. citizen. He was he was born in Michigan.


TAPPER: We're showing some pictures taken of Yousof taken Al Jazeera. He's showing a U.S. passport. CNN has not confirmed the citizenship but in the pictures he's been showing his passport. Have you been able to get in touch with the U.S. Embassy and what would you like to say to U.S. officials?

ANWAR: Actually, I appeal to the American government represented by the American consulate to evacuate us from Gaza strip as soon as possible. You know, Yousof has a lot of -- he has problems in his face and, you know, and all my family are in very bad situation.

I am very afraid of their security because they live in Gaza City (inaudible) and the Israelis bomb everywhere, everywhere you can't imagine everywhere.

TAPPER: Abdelaziz Anwar, we hope that you and your family get out of harm's way very soon. Thank you for talking to us.


TAPPER: That was on Friday. Yesterday, a CNN producer spoke with Yousof, Abdelaziz son, they are still at the hospital, waiting to see if his father needs follow up surgery. We will keep tabs on them and keep bringing you their story. Our coverage here from Tel Aviv continues in a moment.



TAPPER: Turning to our Politics Lead, in less than an hour, House Republicans will meet behind closed doors to hear from the nine candidates who want to be considered for Speaker of the House. Nine candidates, nine, nine, nine, they've all announced they're running. The big question remains after the party failed to rally behind Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan over the past 20 days after failing their previous speaker, Kevin McCarthy. Will any of these nine be able to get to 217 votes on the House floor? Any of them? CNN's Manu Raju is with me from Capitol Hill. Manu, what are the Republicans hoping to hear from the candidates tonight? What's next after this? And will this ever, ever be over?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's really uncertain whether or not any of these candidates can get the 217 votes that they would need on the House floor to be elected. But they are hoping to convince their colleagues that it's finally time to put this ugly episode behind them. This leadership crisis that has left the House completely paralyzed, unable to act on any legislation pressing national and international issues. The House can't do anything in the aftermath of the ouster of Speaker McCarthy and also any other -- any -- in these two candidates who were trying to replace him whose nominations were sunk amid opposition.

Jake, tonight, there'll be a candidate forum where these members will make their pitch to the conference. Then tomorrow morning will be a leadership election where they'll nominate their candidate. But the nomination doesn't mean that they're going to get the 217 votes to be elected speaker. So that is going to be the big test for whoever wins the nomination. Jake?

TAPPER: And Manu, several of the candidates said they spoke to former President Trump. What is Trump's involvement in all this chaos?

RAJU: Yes, they did. In fact, Trump has called up some of these members individually to talk to them about the race. But in talking to some of these Republican candidates, they are saying that the former president is indicating that he's plans to stay out of the race.


RAJU: And former President Trump has spoken with some of the candidates who are running. Have you spoken to him since you announced?


RAJU: And what was that conversation like?

HERN: Well, he just want to know what was going on the race. Obviously, nine people get in the race. He knew some of us at different degrees and levels. So I think when you look at this now he's going to let this play out. It's going to happen pretty quickly tomorrow. So let's see where it goes.

REP. PETE SESSIONS (R-TX): He called me and we had a polite conversation. And I believe that the President is, is interested in having somebody he can work with and I think I'm one of those people.

RAJU: Did he say he'd support you?

SESSIONS: I did not ask for that. What I -- he and I want to have a clear understanding about why I'm running and what I intend to do.


RAJU: And he also had a conversation over the weekend with GOP whip, Tom Emmer, one of the candidates in the race and Trump himself while he was in New Hampshire today suggested he potentially could not try to tip the scales in this race. He did back of course, Jim Jordan previously to be Speaker of the House and of course, Jim Jordan did not get the votes to be elected Speaker. Jake?


TAPPER: Yes, big question about Trump's juice. Manu Raju, thanks so much. We'll be right back.


TAPPER: Back in the United States, Detroit police say that they have identified persons of interest but not a suspect, yes -- yet, in the murder of a president of the board of a synagogue. Samantha Woll was found dead with multiple stab wounds outside her home early Saturday morning after returning home from a wedding Friday night. Police say they do not believe the murderer was motivated by anti-Semitism. They also believe the suspect acted alone and the community is not at risk.


Here in the Middle East as the casualties of war continue to compound, many of you watching I know feel compelled to try to help with humanitarian relief efforts for the innocent victims here in Israel and also in Gaza. You can head to, CNN has a list of vetted organizations on the ground responding. That's

Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in the Situation Room. I will see you tomorrow, again, live from Tel Aviv.