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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Trump Calls Political Opponents "Vermin"; Donald Trump Jr. Finishes Testifying In Civil Fraud Trial; Gaza Fighting Focused Around Desperate Hospitals; Americans Among Those Trapped At Gaza Hospital; Biden: Gaza Hospitals "Must Be Protected"; Republicans Split On Stopgap Spending Plan As Deadline Looms. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired November 13, 2023 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: But they're not really fans, a lot of them in that town, of the fact that they are there in circuses.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: I mean, you do kind of think, maybe it just wanted to be free for a little bit. I don't know.

KEILAR: Yeah, he just wanted a break.

DEAN: He wanted to take a break from his job at the circus.

KEILAR: And you could take a break from us now with THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER which starts right now.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: You hear that? You hear it? Underneath the music? Very good, yeah.

Republican Party getting silent on remarks by Donald Trump. Shocking remarks.

THE LEAD starts right now.

Donald Trump on the 2024 campaign of vengeance and vile remarks, vowing to root out his political opponents if he's elected, belittling everyone who's against him as vermin, making some rather extreme plans to round up every undocumented immigrants in the U.S. and put them in camps.

Meanwhile, Donny Trump Jr., back on the stand, backing a joke (ph) about perjury, as the defense team begins their case in civil fraud.

Plus, CNN cameras going deeper into Gaza than any past reports, this time up close near Hamas tunnels under a hospital, running to the heart of the terrorist operation.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

You know, it's become cliche to ask Americans how they might respond to something Donald Trump has said, to ask if such a thing we're taking place in another country, what they might think. It's so cliche, in fact, that I've never asked you to engage in this exercise.

But his comments as of late have been so stark and so is shocking, that I am now going to ask you to remove yourself from what you may now have all become numb to, in terms of American politics, and trying to look at what we're all being subjected to from a different perspective, say, a top politician in, I don't know, Canada. And ask yourself, what would be your response? What would be a response if a candidate for Canadian prime minister started calling anyone in Canada who opposes him, who criticizes him, calling them vermin? Vermin that he would reach out and expunge from the fine nation of Canada? What would you say?

No doubt, you would be shocked. No doubt, he would be disgusted. No doubt, any major political candidate in Canada using language like that, language that recalls Mussolini and Hitler, you would be disgusted by.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.


TAPPER: What would you say if a potential prime minister in Canada, a leading candidate, to run that great country, said that he or she, after being elected, was going to use the government to exact revenge on anyone who had criticized him?


TAPPER: If I happen to be president, and I see somebody who's doing well and beating me very badly, I say, go down and indict them.


TAPPER: Okay. So you know this is not a theoretical exercise. "The Washington Post" has reported that Donald Trump has been mapping out specific plans to use specific parts of the federal government to punish his critics, to go after his opponents. And that according to people who have talked to Trump, Trump has said in private that he wants the Justice Department to investigate and possibly prosecute, among others, his former chief of staff, Marine General John Kelly, his former attorney general, Bill Barr, his former attorney, Ty Cobb, and former joint chiefs of staff, General Mark Milley.

Another plan that Donald Trump is being open about, rounding up the millions of undocumented immigrants in the United States, and putting them in camps, putting them in camps, detention camps, to await deportation. So, there is no candidate in Canada like that. You know that. And I'm sorry to my Canadian son brothers and sisters for even suggesting such a thing.

And there are, look, very conservative leaders all over the world, there's a conservative leader in the U.K. right now, there's a conservative leader in Italy, there's one in Greece. They don't sound anything like that. The only major Western leader who sounds like this is Donald Trump right here in the United States.


And his language, calling his opponents, quote, vermin, is shocking. And his proposals about using the Justice Department to go after critics, it's unfathomable. And it's anti-democratic.

Now, "The Washington Post" reached out to the Trump campaign to get a response to how his language, this vermin terminology, echoes that of previous dictators like Mussolini and Hitler. A spokesman for Mr. Trump said, quote: Those who try to make that ridiculous assertion are clearly snowflakes grasping for anything because they are suffering from Trump derangement syndrome, and their entire existence will be crushed when President Trump returns to the White House, unquote.

What better way to prove you do not have authoritarian instincts than by promising your critics entire existence will be crushed upon returning to the White House?

We're going to start today with CNN's Kristen Holmes, who's been following the increasingly harsh, dire, authoritarian language coming from Donald Trump and his campaign this weekend.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former President Donald Trump ramping up his inflammatory rhetoric.

TRUMP: The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous, and grave than the threat from within.

HOLMES: Denigrating his political opponents on the left as, quote, vermin during a Veterans Day speech in New Hampshire.

TRUMP: We will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.

HOLMES: The White House condemning Trump's remarks, likening them to language used by authoritarian leaders. Quote, using terms like that about dissent would be unrecognizable to our Founders, but horrifyingly recognizable to American veterans who put on their country's uniform in the 1940s, White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in the statement.

As the former president commands the GOP primary with his combative rhetoric, his allies are already planning an agenda for a potential second term. The proposals include leveraging the Department of Justice to go after his political rivals.

TRUMP: If they do this, they've already done it, but if they want to follow through on this, yeah, I could certainly happen in reverse.

HOLMES: The 2025 agenda would also expand the hard-line immigration policies Trump pursued during his first term in office.

TRUMP: We will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history.

HOLMES: With a mass detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants.

TRUMP: I will shut down this travesty, terminate all work permits for illegal aliens, and demand that Congress send me a bill outlawing all welfare payments to illegal migrants of any kind.

HOLMES: It's part of an escalation in anti-immigrant language by the former president.

TRUMP: It's poisoning the blood of our country. It's so bad, and people are coming in with disease, people are coming in with every possible thing that you could have.

HOLMES: Trump's darkening political rhetoric appears to resonate with Republicans. A South Carolina senator, Tim Scott, who campaigned on a more optimistic message, ended his presidential bid Sunday.

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I think the voters we are the most remarkable people on the planet, have been really clear that they're telling me, not now, Tim.


HOLMES (on camera): And, Jake, the Trump 2025 potential agenda that we've laid out here really is just the tip of the iceberg. We've heard from sources who say that Trump allies are building a database of loyalists. People who would want to serve Donald Trump and follow through with these policies on day one, as well as allies working with attorneys, who are crafting executive orders but the former president could sign on day one to put out those policies.

TAPPER: All right. Kristen Holmes, thanks so much.

I want to bring in Democratic strategist Nayyera Haq and CNN political commentator Jonah Goldberg.

Jonah, let me start with you and let me start with this word vermin, which is quite evocative. Here's how RNC chair Ronna McDaniel responded to Trump's remarks when asked about.


RONNA MCDANIEL, RNC CHAIRWOMAN: I'm not going to talk about candidates that are in a contested primary. That's -- you can talk to him about what he's saying --


DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Would you condemn that?

MCDANIEL: You can talk to him about what he's saying. (END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Former Congresswoman Liz Cheney slammed McDaniel on Twitter for not commenting, saying she, quote, refuses to condemn the GOP's leading candidate for using the same Nazi propaganda that mobilized 1930s, '40s Germany to evil. It's fair to assume she's collaborating.

What is the RNC chair's responsibility here, when Trump uses -- I mean, I don't think it's hyperbolic to say that is Mussolini, Hitler- like language.

JONAH GOLDBERG, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yeah. I mean, the first thing she can do is release the text of the speech in the original German --


GOLDBERG: Look, I kind of feel about the piling on of McDaniel the way I felt about Vivek Ramaswamy attacking her in a debate.


She's a symptom of a much larger problem. The party is not a thing. It's this paper tiger. She was appointed by Trump. She's a creature of Trump.

In a -- in a perfect world, not in a perfect world, in a better world, both parties would have a much more robust ability to screen candidates, to say, look, there are some things beyond the pale. You can't run under our label. But those days are behind us.

TAPER: Yeah, and, Nayyera, your guy, Joe Biden, could lose to this guy.

NAYYERA HAQ, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Isn't that horrifying, right? That the idea that somebody who has stood up for American values and talks about democracy on the world stage, somehow in the caricatures that have gone online and have been part of the public discourse -- he's not. He's neck and neck with that.

I will say, though, that Biden does have an opportunity here, given the war between Israel and Hamas, and given the challenges of China, that national security and the U.S. standing on the world stage is something that is becoming top of mind for Americans in a way that we have not seen for many years.

So in that context, talking about how the U.S. plays on the world stage, what does it mean to be American on the world stage, that certainly is an argument that favors Biden and not Trump.

TAPPER: And there's no secret here, Jonah, about Trump's potential second term plans. I mean, he will -- there won't be a John Kelly or a Bill Barr, you know, there won't be guardrails. I mean, people were very critical of John Kelly and Bill Barr, but at the end of the day, they had some idea of what guardrails should exist. And you know, like a Doug McGregor, who was a pentagon official in the

Trump administration, was criticized for antisemitic tropes. He's out there on X today saying that Israel support is only because of money, the same stuff that Ilhan Omar got criticized for, but nobody on the right is going to criticize Doug McGregor for it. You know, he could be a secretary of defense in the Trump administration because he's so loyal.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, I mean, this is -- this is one area where Ron DeSantis is actually right, he just doesn't press the case very much, which is that it's not the same Donald Trump anymore. He's now become, as weird as it is to say, far more of a caricature of Donald Trump than he was in 2016. And he's surrounded himself -- I mean, it's important to point out, like one of the bulwarks against a lot of this stuff will be Federalist Society Trump-appointed judges who want no part of it, which is why right now, the lawyers around Trump all want to reject Federalist Society people who think they're too lame to target -- it is a completely there -- it's an insurgent movement within the right that is not conservative.

I mean, Bannon said in an interview over the weekend that he says, look, Trump is a moderate in our movement. We've got guys in the magazine first thing calling for how America needs a new Pinochet. It's a hot mess on the right.

TAPPER: And, meanwhile, Democrats are shooting their own. You have -- you have Dean Phillips running against Joe Biden. You have people like Congresswoman Tlaib talking about how people should vote for Joe Biden because she doesn't like his support for Israel. There isn't the robust support for the Democratic Party from the Democratic Party.

HAQ: This happens every time you have an incumbent president. You have people who are looking for their own opportunities to advance themselves within the party's agenda, right? The idea that comments right now are going to permanently ding Biden when it comes to election day, when it comes -- becomes the one-on-one binary choice, I think those are a bit overblown, though there are some concerns about Biden and his ability to turn out voters in key districts, and what the map looks like.

Right now, you really have the Republican Party in disarray, and on display of how they're all competing for second place, and spending all this money and energy for second place, to somebody who is telling us, very clearly, he has no interest in upholding any of the norms of democracy, or ever being accountable to the people, to the public.

So that is the piece that you will not see any of the Democrats argue that they -- that they will at the end of the day support the Constitution of the United States.

GOLDBERG: I agree. The right is a hot mess. Donald Trump would be a disaster in another term in office. At the same time, to my point about weak parties, the GOP isn't the only weak party in the field. Joe Biden, according to most Democrats and most Americans, is too old for the job and not up for the job. Most Americans --

HAQ: Three years older than Donald Trump.

GOLDBERG: It's not the point. Yeah, it has to do with the mental acuity, it also has to --

TAPPER: The perception of the voters is what it is.

GOLDBERG: Yeah, and look, most Americans don't want either of these guys to run. And if you lived in a country with strong parties, neither would be the nominee. But instead, we have a Democratic Party that is too weak to find out an alternative, and a Republican Party that is too weak to stand up to Donald Trump. And it's a hot mess.

TAPPER: Okay. On that note, Jonah Goldberg and Nayyera Haq, thank you so much. Drinks are on me, about an hour and a half.

Donald Trump's oldest son, Donny Jr., just stepped off the witness stand. What he said about the future of the Trump family business under the threat of civil fraud case that could shut down the Trump Organization's operations in New York.


Plus, an American teenager shot and trapped in a hospital in Gaza. Her plea to the U.S. as the Israeli military accuses that hospital of housing Hamas.


TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, today, Donald Trump Jr. back on the stand today in $250 million civil fraud trial in New York against the Trump family business. Last week when he was called by the state of New York, Don Jr. testified that he had no direct involvement in the company's annual financial statements.

Today, Trump Jr. was called as the first witness by his father's defense team, and the son walk to court through a promotional PowerPoint of various Trump properties, calling his father, quote, an artist with real estate, unquote, pointing out details such as The Vault at 40 Wall Street, the inside of Mar-a-Lago, and the library at Seven Springs. This was an attempt to show that if anything, the Trump properties were undervalued in those financial statements.

Let's bring in former personal attorney and fixer for Donald Trump, author of the book "Revenge" and author of "Mea Culpa", Michael Cohen.

Michael, good to see you. What do you make of Don Jr. referring to his father as an artist when it comes to real estate?


MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER TRUMP LAWYER: Well, I am not so sure that I would call him an artist. In fact, if you look at the properties that Don Jr. put up on that PowerPoint, Donald is not the creator of any of those. He was the purchaser. Mar-a-Lago, obviously, he didn't build. That was Marjorie Merriweather Post. He didn't build Seven Strings, nor did he build, you know, for

example, Bedminster. That was the former DeLorean state. So -- and 40 Wall Street, obviously, as well. He acquired that property.

TAPPER: Details, details, Michael. When you testified last month --

COHEN: Yeah, it's always details.

TAPPER: -- you described how you manipulate Trump's financial statements. You described it as, quote, reverse engineering. Do you think that's what Don Jr. is doing kind of with his PowerPoint presentation today?

COHEN: Well, I think what Don is really doing here is holding the Trump line, which is what we were all supposed and required to do. In fact, they should probably change the name from MAGA to mega, M-E-G-A, which is make Engoron gag again, because I when I sat on that stand, I watched as Judge Engoron was just, you know, getting visibly nauseous from the lies that were being told by the Trump team, by Trump's counsel, by Don Jr. that he was merely a broker, that Eric Trump was merely a guy who laid concrete. And so, none of which, of course, anybody believes to be accurate or truthful.

TAPPER: When it comes to this or any other case, do you think Donald Trump deserves to go to jail?

COHEN: So, look, that's a question that's been posed to me. The answer is, he needs to be held accountable. And do I believe if it was anyone else thought that individual would already be in prison or jail? The answer is emphatically yes.

But, because he was the former president of the United States, and for four years, he was debriefed on a daily basis our national security secrets, I personally as an American citizen, I would be concerned, because Donald is the kind of guy that would sell any of that information for a bag of tuna, right, or a book of stamps. I do really mean that.

It's dangerous for America to have somebody like Donald Trump in an environment where he can share the information. Look, he's already shared it's already with members of Mar-a-Lago, as well as other individuals that came to visit. So, why would he not do it if it would benefit him somehow in some way in a prison situation?

TAPPER: So, what does accountability look like do you think?

COHEN: A very significant home confinement scenario, where he does not have people coming and going at leisure. He certainly is not going to be playing golf. He's going to have to fund the -- we'll call it prison bureaus to ensure that there is a guard that's there, watching the property. His phones would be monitored. There wouldn't be computer access -- the same exact life, other than the fact that he is not sharing a cell with somebody, he's sharing the house by himself.

TAPPER: What do you make of "The Washington Post" report that Trump and his allies are looking if he becomes president again to use the levers of government, the Justice Department to punish critics and opponents? And are you worried that he would target you?

COHEN: Well, 100 percent. First of all, he already did. December 14th I'm going before the appellate court on the case of Michael Cohen versus the United States government, where he and Bill Barr, Department of Justice, and the Bureau of Prisons, that they conspired to infringe upon my First Amendment constitutional rights, making me the very first political prisoner held by my own country, because I would not waive my First Amendment constitutional right, not published my book "Disloyal", not do television appearances, not do media, et cetera.

If anybody thinks that this is a one off, if Donald Trump becomes president of the United States again, it's not going to be me the very first person that this happened to, there is going to be a multitude of people. Possibly, you self included, Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, that has occurred to me. But in "The Washington Post" article, they talk about John Kelly, Bill Barr, Ty Cobb, and General Mark Milley.

COHEN: I mean, he talked about executing Mark Milley. Could you imagine the man, a general, who's given his life to serving and protecting this country as opposed to captain bone spur who avoided his, you know, his responsibility? That he wants to have this men executed because he is angry at him. And then, there still Americans that want to do, what? They want to support him financially and by voting?


I don't understand what's happening here.

TAPPER: Michael Cohen, good to see you, sir. Thank you so much for being with us.

COHEN: Good to see you, Jake.

TAPPER: Coming up next, CNN deeper inside Gaza, bullets flying, buildings leveled. We'll show you the footage just in from our crew.


TAPPER: The focus of the fighting in Gaza has become hospitals in and around them, which Israel insists Hamas is using to shield its fighters. A U.S. official with knowledge of the American intelligence tells me that Hamas specifically has a command node under the Al-Shifa Hospital, that Hamas uses fuel intended for that hospital, and that members of Hamas regularly cluster in and around that hospital.


And yet, of course, hundreds of patients remain at the hospital and others in Gaza trapped by the fighting.

CNN's Nic Robertson embedded with Israel Defense Forces. And, Nic, our viewers should know that CNN reported from Gaza under

IDF escort at all time. CNN did not see mid script or footage to IDF and has retained editorial control over the final report.

Where were you today? What did you see?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: We went to Al Rantisi Hospital. It's a children hospital, five miles into Gaza, beyond the Jabalia refugee camp close to Gaza city. It's a long way inside and on the journey there, we wrote an open top vehicles into Gaza itself, driving along the coast highway of what's left of it.

I have to say, I have never seen a scale and the level of destruction in more than 30 years of war reporting that we saw along the road in the drive in. Single story buildings demolished, blown up. Villas demolished, blown up. Stores demolished, blown up.

The soldiers you are with, the IDF troops with us said, look, we've been in those buildings, or at least some of those buildings we found rocket propelled grenades. This was an area that Hamas was using to attack the troops, because they went in. This is what they said they have discovered.

When I talked to the senior commander who is there with us about the level of destruction, he said, look, this is Hamas hiding among the people. We went on that coast road with missing all destruction. The road turned to dust, unchanged into an armored vehicle to go right into the center of the area around the hospital, the edge of Jabalia camp.

There was still intense fighting around the hospital, tanks firing. We have to take cover several times from gun fights going on. We went there to see the top IDF spokesman, Admiral Daniel Hagari. He wanted to show us the connection to the idea of believes there is what Hamas and hospitals and schools.

One of the first things he showed us was a tunnel entrance that was connected, he showed us, by power cables to solar powers on the top of the Hamas leaders house. We can see the solar panels, see the cables going down into the tunnel.

The tunnel was very close to the hospital. There are big diggers in the street, despite them trying to find the tunnel connection to the hospital. We said that was under investigation. When we got to the hospital, the back of Rantisi Hospital, he said they arrived there five days ago that it was still occupied. They negotiated with the hospital officials to evacuate all the patients and staff in the hospital. That happened.

But when they said they are going to get in the hospital, they were taking fire from Hamas. They blew their way into the back of the hospital, and he showed us in their weapon caches that they found in places, evidence that appeared to indicate ropes around chairs, women's clothing, and other things that indicated that Hamas may have been holding hostages there, including guard duty in this underground part of the hospital. That's breaking conventions of international humanitarian law when it

comes to protections of hospital. That's according to International Committee of the Red Cross.

TAPPER: Yeah, 240 hostages that Hamas has held them for more than a month now.

Nic Robertson, thank you so much.

Also today, the IDF sent a journalist, highly edited video apparently from a drone, showing what the IDF says is a man carrying a rocket propelled grenade launcher at the entrance of a different Gaza hospital, the Al-Quds hospital. The Israeli ministry today said it killed a group of Hamas fighters embedded within civilians at that hospital the Al-Quds hospital.

Separately, CNN's Jomana Karadsheh has been to the hospital and spoken with some of the patients trapped by the fighting, including an American teenager who was wounded trying to leave Gaza, and is desperately trying to get out. We want to warn you some of Jomana's report contains graphic content.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Darkness has descended on a northern Gaza medical facility, Al-Quds hospital, where they've been trying to save lives with very little they have left, but it's become nearly impossible.

This was Al-Quds just before Gaza's second largest hospital was declared out of service on Sunday. Like other hospitals in the north, the fighting has been closing in on Al-Quds, where thousands of displaced have been sheltering alongside the injured, amongst them are at least two U.S. citizens, Farah Abuolba, and her mother Noha (ph).


FARAH ABUOLBA, INJURED AMERICAN IN GAZA: I want to feel like, oh, I can move my fingers, my fingers are gone.

KARADSHEH: Farah says she was injured on an attack on their bus to the road south as they tried to make their way for a third time to the Rafah crossing with Egypt. The family blames Israel, whose military told CNN they struck the street on that day.

F. ABUOLBA: I walked from the beach, like it's probably three miles from the beach to the hospital. I could have given up, I felt like all my blood dripped all over me. I -- how I felt when I found my hands falling, or how I felt my skin just -- and my bones breaking, and how I saw my wrist just turned blue. I knew that my hand was gone.

KARADSHEH: This interview was filmed a few days ago with a journalist working for CNN on the eve of her 17th birthday, before the hospital was almost completely cut off from the outside world.

F. ABUOLBA: When I sleep, I dream of what's happened to me. I can hear the rockets when they hit me and my sister and my mom, just screaming when they saw my hands fall.

KARADSHEH: This is the scene just outside the hospital. This video released by Israeli military captures a militant carrying a rocket propelled grenade, they say, was part of a group that attacked their forces. Palestinians denied anybody armed inside. Israeli military is surrounded and targeting the hospital, Israel says it's targeting Hamas.

Farah was born in Gaza and left their family when she was three. They're back to visit family when the war broke out. For her father, Karam Abuolba, in Pennsylvania, the past two weeks have been held trying to get his wife and daughter's back home, exchanging almost daily emails and calls with the State Department.

KARAM ABUOLBA, FATHER AND HUSBAND OF AMERICANS IN GAZA: I am asking, is there a class A, class B from the U.S. citizens, for all the U.S. citizens? I pay taxes for the United States of America to support Israel, to shoot and to bomb my daughter and my wife. I need the president. I need Mr. Blinken to listen to this message. We are a U.S. citizen. We are loyal to this country.

Send the Red Cross. Send them to support the U.S. citizens. They are outside. They're not hostage with Hamas.

KARADSHEH: The father's desperation to make his family suffering heard. So many thousands, he feels no one's hearing Gaza's cry for help.

K. ABUOLBA: I feel hopeless. I feel like I'm dead.

KARADSHEH: Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, London.


TAPPER: And our thanks to Jomana Karadsheh for that report.

Without explanation today, President Biden said hospitals in Gaza must be protected. Up next, I'll ask John Kirby, the national security spokesman, exactly what he meant.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: This afternoon, President Biden said that the hospitals in Gaza, quote, must be protected, sure, obviously. But, it's not that easy necessarily, right? Because the U.S. official told me that American intelligence is backing Israel's intelligence, Hamas terrorists are using Al-Shifa hospital as a command center, and stealing fuel from the hospital.

Joining us now, retired rear admiral and National Security Council spokesman, John Kirby. So, Admiral, obviously, the innocent patients, innocent doctors,

innocent nurses, innocent people, in any hospital should be protected 100 percent. But U.S. intelligence, according to the sources who spoke with me says there's a command node under the hospital, Hamas command node under the hospital. Hamas people gather in the hospital.

So when he says the hospital must be protected, elaborate on that?

JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: He's referring to these extra burden that faces the IDF as they go into Gaza, because Hamas does shelter themselves behind civilian infrastructures, be at hospital schools, tunnels under houses, and apartment buildings. They deliberately put in place the people of Gaza at greater risk by how they -- by how they operate and conduct themselves. And so, it's a tough problem set for the Israeli defense forces.

Legitimate targets are terrorists and Hamas leaders, of course, and their ability to continue to conduct plant resource organizations are also legitimate targets. But, when you bury those targets inside civilian infrastructure, particularly a hospital, where there's innocent patients and little kids. You have severe issues that need looking after, it makes it much harder for any military force to go after those targets, because the hospital itself ought to be, as president said, ought to be protected.

So, he's really talking about this incredibly difficult conundrum that Israeli military forces are facing right now.

TAPPER: "Axios" reports on details of a possible deal in which 80 women and children kidnapped by Hamas on October 7th would be released in exchange for Palestinian women and teenagers who are currently being held in Israeli prisons. I know you can't comment on the details of an exchange, but as families of hostages held by Hamas come to D.C. tomorrow, are they going to be reassured that a deal may be on the horizon?

KIRBY: We have an opportunity to talk to leaders here in D.C., including Jake Sullivan, our national security adviser. He will let them know. He'll make sure they know, that's from the early hours, we've been doing everything we can, working with partners in the region, including those who have direct communications with Hamas that we don't to get those hostages released. All of them, not just the small number of Americans we know they're holding, but all of them. I don't think that we will be able to give them a whole lot of specific detail about the conversations and negotiations that are ongoing.


We don't want to jeopardize them or put it in any chance of going under. But, I do believe they will hear a strong commitment from Mr. Sullivan, from administration, that we're working on this problem set very hard.

TAPPER: I'm old enough to remember the Iranian hostage crisis in '79, '80. And you and I have talked about hostages and detainees for years now, Trevor Reed and others.

KIRBY: Yeah.

TAPPER: I am really struck by something in the last 30 or so days, especially as the White House earlier today confirmed that one of the estimated 240 hostages kidnapped by Hamas and other groups in Gaza, one of whom is a three-year-old American child.

There are people in the United States, loud voices, who've shown this crisis in which there are Americans and innocent people, innocent Israelis taken hostage, are actually rooting for the hostage takers. And we see these images seemingly every day of Americans ripping down posters of --

KIRBY: Yeah.

TAPPER: -- kidnapped kids, kidnapped children.

KIRBY: Yeah. Yeah.

TAPPER: What are your thoughts as you see this? Because I've never seen anything like this.

KIRBY: It's hard when I see images like that and hear those stories to think about this individual ripping this poster, going home and feeling good about what they did, feeling good about the dignity they robbed of a family, and humanity they robbed of a little baby, a little child being held hostage by a terrorist group. Frankly, they ought to be mourning the loss, the theft of their own dignity, their own integrity by doing something like that. I mean, these are -- these victims, these hostages -- they didn't ask for this, they were living their lives, a normal life, going to music festival and being at home with their families. They didn't ask to be taken hostage. But, they are.

And I think it's important for people to remember, Jake, that that was Hamas' plan all along, yes, to slaughter, and they did, to fairly well. But they also deliberately set out to take hostages, to use bargaining chips, and that's what they have been doing. It's reprehensible.

And I don't think anybody who thinks it should be okay to rip down posters of these individuals to go home and feel good about that. There's -- that's just theft -- theft of your own dignity, theft of your integrity, theft of their humanity.

TAPPER: Also, not the politics of the victims matter, but so many people that were killed or kidnapped were peace activists who are on the Israeli left, who were Netanyahu opponents, who wanted a two-state solution, who are working with Gazans, providing them with jobs. Again, that doesn't matter, but, anyway.

Admiral John Kirby, thank you so much for being with us.

KIRBY: Yes, sir. TAPPER: Off to Capitol Hill, next, for Speaker Mike Johnson is waging

a war among his own Republican conference to try to prevent a government shutdown, the perennial story. I feel like I cover this every couple months, doesn't it? Facing an uphill battle.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: In our politics lead, after a long holiday weekend, members of Congress drag themselves back to Washington, D.C., this afternoon to try and prevent a government shutdown at the end of the week. Again, I really -- how often do I do this story? I feel like they just put this in the teleprompter like every three months.

Anyways, back to this. House Speaker Mike Johnson released a two tiered spending plan that fund some government agencies until January, and others until February. Not because Johnson wants two more shutdown crisis, but he says it's to, quote, please House Republicans in the best position to fight for conservative victories.

CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill.

Speaker Johnson's plan does have a familiar problem, Manu. Let me guess what it is.


TAPPER: He doesn't have Republican votes. He doesn't have enough Republican votes.

RAJU: That's absolutely right. In fact, at the moment, Johnson trying to court his Republican colleagues. I just spoke to one of them, Andy Ogles, who walked out of speaker Johnson's office and said he plans to vote against his plan, also could vote against the first vote which the critical vote, the rule. That sets the parameters for the floor debate.

That rule must be adopted in order for the bill to get approved by a majority vote. Typically, members vote along party lines to support that rule. But, in this Congress, members of the hard right Freedom Caucus have voted to sink the rule when it does not align the legislative priorities. Well, in this case, that's a threat right now, being waged by a number of Republicans, including Congressman Chip Roy, who he sits on House rules committee and just told a group of reporters including myself just moments ago, that he plans to vote against that rule, leaving Johnson little margin for error.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): Right now, I oppose this measure. I think it's a mistake. I don't support the rule advancing it. And I think he should switch directions like he did last week with a very good move by putting Israel forward, paid for, out of the Israel -- out of the IRS expansion.


REPORTER: Do you believe that the spending bill is brought up under suspension?

ROY: Yeah, that would be a very bad idea.


RAJU: So, if the rule is not able to be passed, then there are two options. One of which is to, what's called suspending the rules, allowing the bill to be approved to avoid a shutdown by a two-thirds majority in the House.


You heard Chip Roy saying that would be a very bad idea.

Another thing would be to ask Democrats to help supply the votes to put the rule over the finish line. That is something that is -- would cause significant blow back for the new speaker amid his right flank.

And, Jake, this all comes as Democrats are noncommittal yet about supporting this plan. The House Democratic leaders say they are looking carefully at it. And the reason why, though, it is expected that Democrats will likely support this at the end of the day is it does not have spending cuts that Chip Roy and others had demanded. The speaker going this approach to avoid a fight with Democrats, put on the result, picking a fight with his own party that he's trying to resolve by tomorrow, Jake.

TAPPER: Manu, it's just you and me. No one's listening. Do you ever get tired of covering the same story over and -- seriously, no one -- no one else is watching.

RAJU: It does -- it is Groundhog Day up here, Jake. There's no question about it.

TAPPER: You can tell me later.

All right, thanks so much.

Coming up, an alarming spike in incidents of antisemitism and Islamophobia ignited by the war between Israel and Hamas. How much is this moment of global tension and rising antisemitism different from past conflicts?

Stay with us.