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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Israel Indicates Ground Invasion In Is Imminent; Biden Pleads For Israel, Ukraine Aid, Democracy At Stake; U.N. Warns Of Dire Conditions In Gaza As Food, Water Runs Low; Israel Greenlights Ground Invasion Versus Hamas; Americans Received Mixed Reactions On President Biden's Handling On The War In Israel; Former Trump Attorney's Guilty Plea May Send A Trouble For The nFormer President. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired October 19, 2023 - 22:00   ET




KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Before we go tonight, just a quick note on those who have been so incredibly amazing to share their stories with us, people like Tali (ph) and others who have told us what it was like to live in that horrific day. And it's something that's had an impact on all of you. We've heard so many things, so much feedback from people on the impact of these personal stories and people asking how they can help, what they can do.

CNN's Impact Your World team has updated its list of organizations that are vetted, that are safe to donate to. And if you want to do so tonight, you can go to or you can just text the word RELIEF to 707070. It's a safe way to donate in a way that so many people have asked about.

I want to thank you so much for joining us as we are live here in Tel Aviv. We'll be back here tomorrow night with more important stories on the ground and reporting.

CNN NEWSNIGHT with Abby Phillip starts right now.

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN ANCHOR: A presidential plea on what feels like the eve of a deadly ground invasion of Gaza from Israeli forces. That's tonight on NEWSNIGHT.

Good evening, I'm Abby Phillip.

Israel, giving its forces the green light for a likely ground invasion 12 days after Hamas attacked and terrorized their nation.

And fresh from his trip to the war zone, during what is only the second Oval Office address of his presidency, President Biden tonight is calling on Congress to provide aid for the wars in both Israel and in Ukraine, describing it as inflection point for the world.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: When terrorists don't pay a price for their terror, when dictators don't pay a price for their aggression, they cause more chaos and death and more destruction. They keep going. And the cost and the threats to America and the world keep rising.

I know we have our divisions at home. We have to get past them. We can't let petty partisan angry politics get in the way of our responsibilities as a great nation. We cannot and will not let terrorists like Hamas and tyrants like Putin win. I refuse to let that happen. And moments like these, we have to remind, we have to remember who we are. We're the United States of America.


PHILLIP: But it's a tall task to convince a skeptical nation. In the last two decades, the U.S. spent more than $2 trillion in Afghanistan, nearly $3 trillion in Iraq, and so far, more than $113 billion has gone to Ukraine. And in a recent CNN poll, the majority of Americans are against sending more aid to Ukraine.

But Biden is banking on the gravity of the message that if Ukraine falls and Israel suffers, the consequences to global democracies will be catastrophic, that an even more unstable Middle East is a threat to the homeland, and that autocracies will be empowered, whether it's Putin with Ukraine or China's Xi with Taiwan. But the question is, do Americans believe in that message, the messenger, and also the price tag.

In just moments, Anderson Cooper joins me from Israel, along with retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling, plus reaction from Biden's speech from former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides, and Republican Presidential Candidate Tim Scott.

But, first, we want to begin with some major developments on the ground.

Let's go right away to CNN's own Anderson Cooper. He is in Tel Aviv for us. Anderson, today, the Israeli defense minister is saying that troops will soon see Gaza from the inside. That appears to signal that a ground invasion, which we've all been talking about, could really be imminent. What are you hearing and seeing on the ground today?

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: You know, first of all, people have been using the word imminent for almost two weeks now. So, I'm always skeptical when I hear the word imminent, but that does not mean it is not perhaps imminent. I mean, it's certainly only a matter of time. Everything points to, you know, you have more than 300,000, more than 350,000 troops amassed on borders here in Israel, also on the border with Lebanon.

You know, Nic Robertson was down in Sderot over the course of just tonight. He's been hearing machine gun fire, seeing flares. That's something which you don't hear all the time. You know, rockets, yes, explosions, yes, but machine gun fire is a little different.

I talked to a colonel from the IDF who said, you know, Israel has done a number of, whether you call them probes, or a number of cross-border operations in Gaza to try to gather information and target specific Hamas individuals.


Nobody will say -- nobody is going to telegraph exactly when something is going to happen, but, certainly, this region is on the cusp of something and I think everybody here is just -- it's a matter of when and maybe weather and other events on the ground.

PHILLIP: Yes, this is always going to be a dual story, the military story and also the human story. And on that second part, we're learning tonight that the Rafah crossing, which leads from Gaza to Egypt, is expected to open tomorrow but -- it is not expected to open tomorrow, I'm sorry, but it could open this weekend.

What do we know about the status of this critical humanitarian aid mission that President Biden has pushed really hard to get going here?

COOPER: Yes. I mean, people have been talking about this opening for days. Egyptian state media yesterday, Thursday, was reporting it was going to open Friday, some other officials there sort of indicated maybe it would open Friday as well.

Now, the word is it's not going to open Friday. One U.S. official said to CNN that they hope maybe Saturday, but it is what they describe as a very fluid situation.

There's a lot of competing interest and a lot of concerns. Israel is very concerned about who is examining these trucks, the content of these trucks, what is actually being shipped across the border, how is it going to be distributed. Israel is very concerned, as is the U.S., about this humanitarian assistance not falling into the hands or being stolen by Hamas. They say they're going to be watching that very closely and that will affect future aid shipments.

Humanitarian workers are very concerned about the controls at the border. Is the road secure enough and is the road repaired enough? There's been literally road construction on the Egyptian side to carry the weight of these heavy trucks and with potholes and everything, which sounds very, you know, kind of basic, but it is a factor.

But also, there's a great concern among humanitarian relief officials who are very experienced with this sort of thing about if you send in 20 trucks and hundreds of thousand people who are in the south think it's only going to be 20 trucks, there could be pandemonium of people trying to get what is in those 20 trucks, whereas if the message is, you know, it's going to be 20 trucks today, it's going to be another 50 trucks tomorrow, it's going to be 100 trucks the next day and it's going to be a steady flow, then distribution can go more easily and more calmly.

That is something that we are hearing also from humanitarian officials and just about the logistics of this, which may sound boring and may sound, you know, slow, but it is crucially important because the last thing you want is a human catastrophe of people which we have seen in relief situations over the decades, people panicked and people desperate for relief. PHILLIP: Yes, it is, in fact, life or death for hundreds of thousands, if not millions of Gazans right now who are trying to get out of the way of what could be a growing war.

Anderson, as always, thank you so much for joining us tonight.

COOPER: Thanks, Abby.

PHILLIP: And joining me now to discuss the unfolding crisis in the Middle East is former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides. And we have to disclose that he is married to a CNN executive vice president. Tom, good to have you here.

We have -- as Anderson has been saying, we've been talking about this potential ground invasion now for basically the 12 days since this attack. But I'm wondering, is it possible for Israel to do what it says it wants to do, which is basically eradicate Hamas without, in fact, completely destroying Gaza and a cost in civilian lives that could be significant?

TOM NIDES, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL: Well, as we all watch tonight, the president's comments were clear to me, which is he was building the case for the importance of protecting the state of Israel, obviously discussing the Ukraine war as well, but protecting the state of Israel, and also making sure that we are concerned and focused on the humanitarian costs as well for the innocent Palestinians that are in Gaza.

Make no mistake, we got here because of Hamas' behavior. Hamas isn't liked in Gaza. They don't care about the Palestinian people. They're encouraging Palestinians to stay in their homes in Northern Gaza, in Gaza City. This is what they have created. They're reigning terror on their own people.

And as obviously none of us, as I spent enormous amount of time on the Palestinian issue when I was in Israel, you have to be compassionate. You have to feel, as the president articulated on T.V. today, his concern for that, which is why he insisted on having to making sure that the Egyptians open the border of humanitarian abilities and giving goods and services to the Palestinian people that are living in Southern Gaza, and that's very important.


PHILLIP: Yes. And I do want to get back to that issue of the Rafah crossing in Egypt in just a moment but President Biden this week, as he was coming back -- as he was in Israel, actually, issued a warning basically to America's friend essentially, don't let the rage consume you. Do you have an understanding of what he is warning about and do you share the concern that Israel could potentially go farther than even it wants to go?

NIDES: I think what the president has been very clear about this, he has Israel's back. He understands Hamas is a terrorist organization. But also the president, I believe, has a moral compass as well, and that's what you see. You saw that tonight on television when he talked about the importance of protecting Israel and protecting innocent lives.

So, he will step in and talk to the Israelis, as friends do, but he has a moral authority, which he talked about tonight, and he will be talking to the prime minister and the leadership of Israel as this proceeds. But make no mistake, Hamas is the enemy here and Israel needs to do what it needs to do to stop the terror in which they're raining upon the Israeli people.

PHILLIP: So, on the humanitarian front, as you pointed out, the president came up with an agreement with Israel between Israel and basically Egypt $100 million in humanitarian aid going into Southern Gaza. But one of the concerns from the U.N. groups is that it's just simply not safe to even administer that aid.

When you look at what we could be facing with a ground invasion, do you think it's necessary for there to be a true kind of safe humanitarian zone where humanitarian aid can not only come in but it can actually get to the people who need it?

NIDES: Absolutely. I think the president has articulated, the vice president has articulated this, I think the national -- Secretary Blinken has been in the region, has been working this behind the scene on a daily basis. We need the ability for Israel to do what they need to do to eliminate the threat against Israeli people at the same time to provide humanitarian abilities for those innocent Palestinians that want nothing to do with this, who are just basically bystanders living there and being pushed out of their homes and trying to save their lives.

So, yes, the reality is whatever way we can, working with the Egyptians and working with our allies to provide them the abilities to have that protection.

PHILLIP: And on the Egyptians, just the final thing, I mean, Arab countries have been reticent to take in Gazan refugees. First of all, nobody is really leaving right now. But if they were to leave, one of the reasons might be because they're concerned that they would not be let back into Gaza by the Israelis. Do you think there needs to be some assurances there to give people the possibility of being able to just escape the violence and then come back to their homes?

NIDES: I think there's a lot of ways to try to do this. I think the most important message that you heard tonight from the president, you've heard from many people that around this administration, both Democrats and Republicans, that we have to have humanity, that we have to protect people. At the same time, we have to do what it needs to do to protect the state of Israel.

And, by the way, one of the messages that the president said today is those other enemies out there, those in Lebanon, Hezbollah or Iran, we're watching you. Don't get involved in this, and the strong message to those countries as well. So, ultimately, the importance of this is to protect the state of Israel, try to do whatever they can to eliminate the threat, as well as try to protect the people, the innocent people that live in Gaza as best we can.

PHILLIP: All right. Tom Nides, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

NIDES: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And up next for us, more on the looming invasion of Gaza. Lieutenant General Mark Hertling is here to tell us what to watch for.

Plus, Presidential Candidate Tim Scott joins me on set to respond to the president's address tonight and why he doesn't support aid going into Gaza.

We're also getting word that a U.S. Navy warship has intercepted missiles near Yemen that sources believe were heading to Israel.

Stand by for that.



PHILLIP: We are watching the skies over Gaza tonight as Israel green lights a ground war against Hamas. And moments ago President Biden made the case for wartime aid to Israel and to Ukraine.


BIDEN: American leadership is what holds the world together. American alliances will keep us, America safe. American values are what make us a partner that other nations want to work with. To put all that at risk, if we walk away from Ukraine, if we turn our backs on Israel, it's just not worth it.


PHILLIP: And joining me to discuss President Biden's Oval Office address is Republican Presidential Candidate, Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina. Senator Scott, I appreciate you joining us here.

So, President Biden, as you know, today he asked for $100 billion for Israel, for Ukraine, for the border, and for Taiwan. Would you support that legislation of $100 billion?

SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, thank you for the question. I'd certainly say I was frustrated by this speech. Terrorists bombed our ally, Israel. And we heard more about Ukraine than we did our ally, Israel. And the package itself has more money for Ukraine than it does for Israel. I think we would be better off having a single focus on Israel, giving them the resources they need to win this war, and then move on to other topics.

PHILLIP: So, do you disagree with the way that he connected these conflicts? He said that turning your back on Ukraine and on Israel is just not worth it. He says it's an investment in keeping U.S. troops out of future conflicts. You disagree?

SCOTT: I think we should definitely keep our troops at home. We can do that by making sure that our allies have the resources that they need. The one thing we know without question, with great certainty, is that Israel is in the beginning of a war. They need our single-minded focus on their conflict, and then we can pivot back to Ukraine.

We can do both at the same time, by the way, but it will first start with having the resources in the hands of Israel.

PHILLIP: Some have said that Putin would actually love that if Congress decided that we can't deal with Ukraine right now, we've got to focus on Israel, taking our eye off the ball in Ukraine might be just exactly what Vladimir Putin wants.


SCOTT: I think we can walk in chew gum. We've got $100 billion invested.

PHILLIP: I think that's what President Biden was asking to do this at the same time

SCOTT: We have $100 billion in Ukraine. We have provided, so far, nothing to Israel other than our annual appropriations. If we want to focus on being successful in Israel, we need to focus on two things. Number one, making sure Israel has all the resources that they need, and, number two, making sure that Iran pays a very high price for the challenges that they've brought into the Middle East, to include freezing the $6 billion that President Biden gave to Iran that helps support and fund terrorism.

He said to himself, for the first time so far, since the conflict started, he said, Iran funds terrorism, Hamas. Hamas says, thank you for the money. Freezing those assets should have happened before. Actually, he should never have given the assets.

PHILLIP: Well, just to be clear, that money has not been spent, and it's not money that's directly going to Iran.

SCOTT: Money is fungible.

PHILLIP: I understand the point you're making.

SCOTT: But perhaps we don't, because --

PHILLIP: Just as a factual matter for our audience understands, the money has not been spent.

SCOTT: Let me speak to your audience, the bottom line is simply this, that your president gave $6 billion to pay for hostages. He gave it to the number one state sponsor of terrorism. As a result of that, $6 billion, a price on every American head went high, and there's a price to be paid for that.

PHILLIP: Just to circle back to it.

SCOTT: I want to make sure that we get this point right, because I am not misleading your audience. So, let's make sure they understand.

PHILLIP: I just want to --

SCOTT: $6 billion is really a high price that causes more terrorism.

PHILLIP: I just want to clarify the question that I asked initially, which is, if $100 billion for all those priorities that the president listed came to the floor of the Senate, would you vote in support of it?

SCOTT: Well, certainly, it matters how it's broken down, but, number one --

PHILLIP: If it's a package for all of those things, would you vote in support of it?

SCOTT: The details matter. So, let me give you the breakdown of the details as we understand them. $60 billion for Ukraine, and only $10 billion for Israel, means that the president does not have his eye on the ball.

PHILLIP: Let's leave it there for now. I want to ask you about $100 million that is aid that is being sent to Gaza. You've said recently that you oppose that.


PHILLIP: But I wonder, just putting aside some of the kind of political rhetoric around this.

SCOTT: Absolutely.

PHILLIP: How is making life more miserable for Gazans something that helps Israel?

SCOTT: I'm glad you asked that question. Let's take a look at how this thing started on October the 7th. We saw babies decapitated. We saw babies burned. We saw women raped. We saw grandmothers taken. And Israel's response is to make sure that never happens again. To provide complete and total support for Israel, means giving them the resources and the flexibility they need to engage in.

PHILLIP: I understand, but I'm talking about humanitarian aid, which Israel, by the way, has agreed to.

SCOTT: The way you get there the fastest is making sure that every single support system that needs to be in place is there. And, number two, I don't want a dime, a nickel, a penny ending up in the hands of Hamas. We know that at the end of the day, in the Gaza Strip, Hamas controls every penny.

PHILLIP: This is not -- what I'm talking about here and what this aid is, is not cash. It's we're talking about access to water, food, medical care.

SCOTT: Who's driving the trucks? Who's driving who's driving them in?

PHILLIP: I guess what I'm saying, Senator, is if Israel has agreed with the United States to allow $100 million of humanitarian aid into Southern Gaza, where they have asked for civilians to go to, why would you oppose that aid being provided?

SCOTT: Well, number one, I believe that making sure that every penny that America spends anywhere does not end up in the hands of terrorist organizations is my responsibility.

PHILLIP: One of the other issues here is about the Americans who are in Gaza. And, presumptively, some of this aid would benefit them too. There are probably about 500 to 600 of them there. Do you think that they ought to be fending for themselves?

SCOTT: Well, I'll just say what I've said earlier, not on this show. Israel has provided those residents living in Gaza an opportunity to leave the vulnerable areas. And as a result of that --

PHILLIP: And that's where this aid is going, by the way.

SCOTT: As a result of that, they find themselves in a position to get out of harm's way. By doing that, we accelerate the path to victory for Israel, which then eliminates the need for a conflict.

PHILLIP: One of the things that you've done today is introduce a piece of legislation that would pull back federal student aid for schools that, in your view, facilitate or promote events with an anti- Semitic message. You say that this hits them where it hurts, their pocketbooks.


But I wonder, I mean, there are a lot of students who are beneficiaries of federal student aid who have nothing to do with these pro-Palestinian protests. Wouldn't this just hurt them?

SCOTT: Well, let's take a look, back. In 2017, I introduced legislation for the definition of anti-Semitism to be codified on college campuses in the same way that we use it in state departments. What we've seen on college campuses since October 7th is people, kids protesting, that's their constitutional right, asking for genocide of Jews, murdering of Jews, supporting terrorism.

For those universities and colleges that do nothing to stomp out or stamp out that kind of racism, discrimination, and, frankly, the support of genocide, that is a problem with American tax dollars.

PHILLIP: But, again, doesn't that just penalize people who may have had absolutely nothing to do with it? That's a very small minority of anybody who's on these college campuses. And beyond that, I mean, people have raised questions about -- you've described it a certain way.

SCOTT: Well, actually, it's a way that it is. Just take a look at the videos.

PHILLIP: I'm just going to -- it's fine how you've described it. That's your view of it. SCOTT: Yes, ma'am.

PHILLIP: Some of the protesters would say that we might be penalized simply for advocating for Palestinians. Doesn't this risk infringing on their freedom of speech?

SCOTT: No. Actually, the first thing I said was their freedom of speech is protected. You do not have the freedom to encourage genocide. You don't have the freedom to say, let's murder people in our country. You don't have the freedom to say, we are going to support terrorism, and, frankly, supporting terrorism means supporting the death of Americans and others.

I think with my tax dollars, that is a part of the federal spending, that the colleges and universities are not willing to push back on hate on their college campuses, not to the expression of disagreements, but saying let's murder people. That leadership should be punished.

PHILLIP: Leadership should be punished, but I think you would agree that students would be as well.

SCOTT: I would say -- here's -- let us, let us be clear here. The universities are responsible for the actions on their campuses. The president himself said, we should root out hate, but he didn't talk about the squad. He didn't talk about the universities where we find the hate being fomented.

PHILLIP: I want to ask you about your presidential campaign. We're in the middle of this cycle. Just today, The New York Times is reporting that your super PAC is pulling millions of dollars in ads this fall. And according to a memo obtained by The Times, the chairman of the super PAC wrote to its donors saying, we aren't going to waste our money when the electorate isn't focused or ready for a Trump alternative. Do you agree that the electorate isn't ready for a Trump alternative?

SCOTT: Well, I don't run the super PAC, so I can't tell you exactly what that memo meant, but what I can tell you that it focuses on is reserving our resources until later in the campaign so that as we get close to the January 15th date of the Iowa caucus, we have the resources to spend effectively. And this current news cycle, breaking through this current news cycle seems to be impossible. So, any alternative to the former president will not have actual opportunity to showcase why they should be the alternative.

PHILLIP: And there's a presidential debate coming up. Will you be on the debate stage?

SCOTT: I will be on the debate stage.

PHILLIP: You've got the requirements?

SCOTT: Indeed.

PHILLIP: If your campaign doesn't gain more momentum in the coming weeks, would you consider dropping out?

SCOTT: Of course not. We believe that America is ready for an optimistic, positive messenger who is anchored in consistently conservative values.

PHILLIP: I want to ask you about one more thing. This is an audio message that was received by the wife of one of your colleagues in the House as a result of all of this rancor over the House speaker vote. I'm going to play it for you.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (BLEEP) warmongering piece of shit. So, listen, you're going to keep getting calls and emails. I'm putting all your information over the internet now, everybody else is and you will not be left alone because your (BLEEP) husband. Jim Jordan or more conservative or you're going to be (BLEEP) molested like you can't ever imagine, and again, nonviolently.


PHILLIP: What do you make of that?

SCOTT: Well, unfortunately, it's disgusting and reprehensible and unfortunately consistent with dozens of messages that I get on a consistent basis. I will say that public officials and their spouses and their families are greater targets than we've ever been. It's not only unfortunate, it's criminal.

PHILLIP: All right. Senator Tim Scott, thank you so much for joining us. We really appreciate you giving us some time today.

SCOTT: Yes, ma'am. Good to be with you.

PHILLIP: Thank you.

SCOTT: Absolutely.

PHILLIP: An American warship shooting down missiles that may have been intended for Israel, a live analysis next.


Plus, Lieutenant General Mark Hertling joins me at the map on what to expect in this looming ground invasion.

This is CNN's live special coverage.


PHILLIP: Israel is inching closer to launching a ground invasion into Gaza, and one official says that the army has been given a quote, "green light to wipe out Hamas." I'm joined here at the wall by CNN military analyst and retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. General Hertling, this ground invasion that is coming, we expect it to be up here in this northern area of Gaza. But when we talk about a ground invasion, what-- What can we expect? Are we talking about door-to- door, hand-to-hand combat? And based on what we've seen, what indications do you get about how Israel's prepared?

LT. GEN. MARK HERTLING (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: You see in this film, Abby, a lot of tanks. That's a Merkava tank. It's a specific kind of Israeli tank. Israel has called up 300,000 soldiers. A lot of armored equipment. They're going to be fighting street-to-street, in buildings, high-rises, but most importantly, they're also going to be fighting underground.


PHILLIP: Yeah, in these times here.

HERTLING: Hamas, yeah. Hamas has expanded these tunnels since 2014, and we'll talk about that in just a second. But there is almost 300 miles of these tunnels, and as you can see, walking through one of them, this is typical. It's not a subway tunnel. You have to go through these single files. They go off in different directions. It's exceedingly tough as an infantryman to fight in here.

PHILLIP: And some of them are not even as sophisticated as this. We've had guests on who say that some of them are basically in mud.

HERTLING: Yeah, there are some that you literally have to crawl into to get in there. But it is in here where we're seeing some of the hostages and human shields being taken.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I want to get to one of the other developments today, which is that the U.S. says that they basically have intercepted some missiles coming from Yemen that were believed to be headed toward Israel. What can you tell us about what's going on here, especially when it comes to this question of a wider conflict?

HERTLING: Yemen became the subject de jure today because they did fire a couple of drones and missiles. Here's Yemen right here.

That probably occurred -- there you go. That probably occurred close to the Gulf of Aden. What you saw, what a Navy ship saw as it was going up into the Gulf, was two drones, couple of missiles. They engaged them, they shot them down. But this is just one of many things that occurred today.

Things going on in Hezbollah in southern Lebanon. We had two Israelis killed in Egypt in the Sinai. We had several of the professional military fronts in both Syria, Iraq, and Iran rising up. These are those professional militias, if you will, that have received a call to fight on behalf of the Palestinians.

So what we're seeing is a prediction that the supreme leader of Iran had was, rise up, help your Muslim brotherhood.

PHILLIP: And so far, more or less isolated, but the U.S. military clearly watching this very closely.

HERTLING: Yeah, absolutely. Based on the uprisings the other night after the hospital event, you're seeing a lot of people very upset about what Israel is about to do in the Gaza.

PHILLIP: All right, General Mark Hertling, thank you as always for breaking all of that down for us.

And up next, we'll talk about the irony of a Democratic president asking Americans to help fund two wars.

Plus a stunning twist in the election interference case in Georgia. Sidney Powell pleading guilty on the eve of her trial, which may signal trouble for Donald Trump. Gabriel Sterling joins me to react, along with Geraldo Rivera and Ana Navarro.



PHILLIP: We're showing you here live pictures of Gaza where Israel is expected to launch an imminent ground invasion. And new polls tonight show that there are mixed reviews for President Biden's handling of this crisis in Israel and the Hamas conflict so far. 44 percent of Americans approving. That's identical to his ratings for the Russia -- the Russia's -- Russia's war in Ukraine.

And joining me now is former Fox News host, Geraldo Rivera, and also CNN political commentator, Ana Navarro. This was an important speech for the president because he rarely does Oval Office addresses and clearly did it for a reason because he felt he had to sell this moment to the American people. Do you think that he was able to do that? I mean, he may need to sell this to his own party, by the way, who's typically not interested in funding wars.

GERALDO RIVERA, FORMER FOX NEWS HOST: Well, I'm not sure how much the political parties have to do with it, Abby. Because when I started as a young reporter covering the Yom Kippur War, October 1973, Richard Nixon, a Republican, was still the president.

And he came through, or the United States came through, the arsenal of democracy came through as Israel faced an existential crisis. Now, if we don't screw this up with this nonsense over the Speaker of the House and this coup attempt, another coup attempt by radical Republicans in the House of Representatives, then I think Israel will manage to get through this worst crime they've suffered since the Holocaust. I mean, the rapes, the mutilations, you've talked about it, we've all talked about it so much.

I think that we will come step up to the moment and deliver what Israel needs to defend itself.

PHILIP: How do you think he did?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought this was a very important speech and very significant speech. This whole week has been incredibly significant when it comes to Biden. He has shown tremendous moral clarity at a moment when there is such chaos in Congress and when there is such disagreement and discord in America. And I think Joe Biden has been unwavering in America's support of

Israel, the special relationship, but also has been unwavering in reminding Americans that we are not a place where there is hatred, that we are not a place that fosters anti-Semitism or Islamophobia.

And I thought it was incredibly important today that he spoke about American values. He thought about what America means to the world. He also spoke about the little boy, the six-year-old boy who got stabbed to death, the little Muslim boy who got stabbed to death by the wacko man.

And I think it's important to weave all those things in because this is a very difficult moment for Israel, of course, for Gaza, of course, but also for us here in America. We are all very affected.

PHILLIP: I mean, from a political perspective, though, he has some potential roadblocks to get around, and one of them is the left. I want to just play for you what Rashida Tlaib said this week. A lot of pain and anger in this clip. Just listen.



REP. RASHIDA TLAIB (D-MI): President Biden, I don't know how America's with you on this one. And you need to wake up and understand that. We are literally, literally watching people commit true genocide and killing the vast majority just like this, and we still stand by and say nothing. We won't remember this.


PHILLIP: In his words, you hear him talking about Palestinians and their plight and pushing for humanitarian aid, but I can tell you, I mean, I've gotten emails from democratic groups attacking Biden tonight for not doing enough on Palestinians.

RIVERA: I think first of all, Rashida Tlaib is Palestinian origin. If it was Puerto Rico that was being bombed, I would have, you know, deep emotional investment in it also. I feel awful for everybody on both sides. You know, it's one thing to say Israel is protecting itself against this awful crime that was committed against the Jewish people.

But it's another thing when your kinsmen, your lensmen, are being bombed as Israel tries to get Hamas, get the mass murderers. There are 1,500 mass murderers that are hiding in the tunnels under Gaza. So I feel for her. I feel the anguish of her and others similarly situated.

But this is a terrible, terrible crisis Israel is facing, the Palestinian people also. What happens when Israel sends the forces into the tunnels to get those hostages out? Will the hostages survive the worst hostage crisis in Israel's history? You know, how many civilians will die in the process? Can America stomach the blood that will necessarily be spilled?

This is, you know, one thing I talk about, my long experience in the region. If you think this is bad, it's going to get worse. Pessimism always prevails. The pessimist is always right. And when you add it, again, I come back with the lunatic fringe of the Republican Party depriving the United States of an effective House of Representatives. You know, I think that we're in for a rocky ride.

NAVARRO: But you know, and you know what else are depriving the United States of, which I think is really important to mention? It is unbelievable that at a time when we are in this situation, when there's two aircraft carriers in the region, when there is a Marine contingency, at the Strait of Hormuz, there are 350 appointments to the military that cannot get confirmed because there is one man, Tommy Tuberville of Alabama, holding all those appointments up. This is not a time for that.

And I really wish all Republicans in the Senate, his colleagues, Mitch McConnell, all his colleagues would speak up on this because we need all hands-on deck. And this is irresponsible. Irresponsible for nothing other than performance.

PHILLIP: It's an important point. The dysfunction is actually in both chambers. But just in, tonight, Senator Mitt Romney, talking about his own party, talking about some of this phenomenon, he says Fox News is partly responsible. He says it's hard to imagine, but Tucker Carlson is turning the GOP into the pro-Russian, pro-authoritarian party. And that's not what it used to be. This is in a forthcoming book by McKay Coppins about Romney. Is he right?

RIVERA: I think that Mitt Romney is the most honorable man in the United States Senate. I think that his politics and mine are exactly in sync. When he says that about Tucker Carlson, I don't know what Tucker Carlson believes. He says one thing in secret text messages then he says on the air.

So I don't know really what is in his mind. In terms of the Republican Party and authoritarianism and all the rest of that, you know, we need some sober, moderate patriotic people to put aside their own malignant narcissism and get going with the business of the nation. Now two existential crises.

Ukraine invaded by Russia, has to fight off the, you know, against the hugely superior foe. And then of course in Israel where you have so much going on that you need the country to be united, not have Matt Gaetz run off with the government.

NAVARRO: I have to say this about Mitt Romney, who I've known for a long time and is a friend of mine. Criticism doesn't come naturally to him. He's a very nice, civil man. And so, but I think he's free to speak truth. And I think he feels the need to do it because he feels that the Republican Party needs to be rescued from itself.

PHILLIP: Yeah, not running for reelection. He can certainly speak his mind. Anna Navarro and Geraldo Rivera, both of you. Thank you.

And up ahead, we've got a lot more to talk about, including the Trump guy who peddled these outlandish lies about the last election, pleading guilty in the Georgia election interference case. Will Sidney Powell now testify against Donald Trump? That's next.



PHILLIP: A stunning twist tonight in the Georgia election interference case against Donald Trump and his allies. One of his co-defendants pleading guilty for her role in the breach of Georgia's election systems. And as part of the plea, Sidney Powell now faces years of probation and she must testify against her co-defendants.

Now remember, she was one of Donald Trump's most outspoken lawyers who pushed these outlandish conspiracies and flat out lies.


SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: What we are dealing with here and uncovering more by the day is the massive influence of communist money through Venezuela, Cuba, and likely China.

I think the Justice Department has known about this issue for a long time and turned a blind eye to it.

The software that goes in other computerized voting systems here as well, not just Dominion, were created in Venezuela at the direction of Hugo Chavez.

As far as I know, this is the first case of abject fraud and obtaining a coup of the United States of America.

I wonder how much the CIA actually had a role in starting this kind of program to begin with.

President Trump won by a landslide. We are going to prove it.

It should be that he can simply be reinstated, that a new inauguration data set and Biden is told to move out of the White House. And President Trump should be moved back in.



PHILLIP: As part of that plea deal, prosecutors want Powell to write a letter of apology to the citizens of Georgia. And I asked Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer at the Georgia Secretary of State's office, what he thought about all of that.


GABRIEL STERLING, CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER, GEORGIA SECRETARY OF STATE'S OFFICE: It needs to be a full accounting. I just don't want to proform or, hey, I'm sorry. I mean, this caused real and lasting damage to our Republic.

And like I said, to families, I don't know how you measure the impact of this because of what it's done to the American people and the faith in elections. And I mean, the voters have rejected election denialism across the board. And every time we have one of these kinds of cases comes up, it should be another leg getting knocked off of that because it just shows it wasn't based on facts or truth. It was based on a grift and a lie.


PHILLIP: And you can watch my full interview with Gabriel Sterling on X, also known as Twitter.

And much more ahead on the war between Israel and Hamas, including the Israeli government giving the green light for a likely ground invasion.