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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip
CNN Reporter Embeds With Israeli Forces In Gaza; Ronna McDaniel Says RNC Will Back Trump Even If Convicted; Four Days Until The Government Shuts Down; New Details Surface On The Federal Investigation Centered On New York's Mayor Eric Adams. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired November 13, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN HOST: We'll stay on top of that story and continue to monitor it. I want to thank you so much for joining us tonight.
CNN Newsnight with Abby Phillips starts right now.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: CNN goes inside Gaza and rolls the tape from the tip of the Israeli spear. That's tonight on Newsnight.
Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip in New York. And tonight, new and heart-stopping video from the front lines of the Israel Hamas War.
CNN's Nick Robertson and his crew got an up-close view of the ash, the bullets, the trail of absolute destruction. The rare inside look at how the IDF is fighting comes at a consequential moment in this war, as the American president says that the strip's main hospital must be protected.
Now, Israel says the very same facility houses a Hamas command complex below it. And CNN reported the story that you're about to see under Israeli Defense Force escort at all times, but CNN did not submit its script or its footage to the IDF. And CNN retained editorial control over the final report that you'll see now.
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR (voice over): Driving into Gaza with the Israeli forces. It's a war zone. The conditions of our access only show officers, no faces of soldiers and don't show sensitive equipment.
We are passing mile after mile of destruction, buildings blown, collapsed, nothing untouched for the fury of Israel's hunt for Hamas. Streets here crushed, back to sand.
Shops, everything that we see, no sign of any civilians here. And the soldiers have been telling us that even inside the stores, they've been finding things like rocket-propelled grenades ready to use against them as they were advancing through this area.
A few miles in, we pull up at a command post, soldiers living in blown apartment buildings.
Every building I'm looking at here, wherever you turn, it's destroyed, it's shot up. Hard to imagine how civilians endured the bombardment here.
Our next journey, much deeper into Gaza, we arrive 100 meters from a battle with Hamas.
Tanks blasting targets in nearby buildings. The IDF's top spokesperson waiting for us.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are now conducting an operation inside Gaza next to Rantisi Hospital.
ROBERTSON: Israel is facing massive international pressure over the destruction of homes, the shockingly high civilian death toll, and in the last few days, over its apparently heavy-handed tactics at hospitals.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are searching the tunnels with the bulldozers to reveal the tunnels that we suspect that are underneath the hospital.
ROBERTSON: Hagari has brought us here to show the connection he says exists between Hamas and the Rantisi Children's Hospital.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are now here in an area between a hospital, a school and a terrorist house.
ROBERTSON: A Hamas commander, he says, lived there. He points out the solar panels on the roof.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is a tunnel that was sliding, like this, the floor. You can see here.
ROBERTSON: This is the ladder going down?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is the ladder going down.
ROBERTSON: I see the ladder going down.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay. This is a 20-meter tunnel. And look at here. Look at the tunnel. Be careful here. But look down here. The cables are going down to the tunnel. Okay?
ROBERTSON: So they're hardwired into the tunnel?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So, why wanted I show you the solar panels on the terrorist house provide electricity directly to the tunnel. We've entered a robot inside the tunnel, and the robot saw a massive door, a door that is on the direction of the hospital.
ROBERTSON: We're in what is an active fire zone here. You can hear the small arms fire. The IDF say they're still clearing this area out. We're getting down here. Just taking a bit of cover, because they say we're still taking fire.
But over here, we were able to smell what smelled like rotting flesh, bodies perhaps, buried underneath the rubble.
No, no. No, don't go up.
Don't expose yourself.
As we move off to the hospital, 100 meters away, we're still taking fire.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're still conducting an operation, operation conducted by a special unit. The Israeli Navy SEALs are researching the hospital.
ROBERTSON: Hagari later tells us he took a big risk, bringing us into such a combat zone. It is clear he wants this story told.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're searching here to see the connection of the tunnel to the hospital, okay? Don't fall here.
ROBERTSON: So, this is where the connection --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are looking for the connection.
ROBERTSON: As we finally reach the hospital, it is already getting dark. A huge hole has been blasted through the walls into the basement.
Why is the hospital so damaged?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We'll talk about why is the hospital so damaged? I'll explain. It's an important question.
ROBERTSON: Yes, it is.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We came to this hospital five days ago. There were still patients inside the hospital. We did not enter into the hospital.
ROBERTSON: He claims since then all patients were evacuated by hospital staff.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We assist this evacuation, of course, to make it a safe pass for all the patients in the hospital. We do not know that the hospital is entirely clean. We do not know. We only entered to this area, which was suspected because we were being fired.
ROBERTSON: Hagari leads us through a warren of basement corridors to this room.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This was the armory, okay?
ROBERTSON: This was the Hamas armory.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes. ROBERTSON: He shows us a few rusting guns and some explosives. These guns alone have potentially huge implications for Gaza's hospitals and Israel's apparent push to take control of them.
The International Committee for the Red Cross say that hospitals are given special protection under international humanitarian law in a time of war. But if militants store weapons there or use them as a base of fire, then that protection falls away.
In other rooms, he shows us a motorbike with a bullet hole in it that he suspects was used by Hamas attackers October 7th, and nearby, possible evidence hostages could have been held here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are now in the basement in the same area yards from the motorcycle. We see here a chair, we see here a rope. We see here a woman's clothes or a woman's something covering woman.
ROBERTSON: So, you think a woman was tied up in this chair?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: this is an assumption going to be checked by DNA.
ROBERTSON: More evidence, Hagari says, points towards Hamas and possible hostage presence below the hospital.
And by bringing us here to this hospital and showing us the connection that you believe exists between the terrorists and the possibly hostages, what does this say about the other hospitals here in Gaza?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Cynically, Shifa Hospital is known by facts, by intelligence to be a terrorist hub and also it's suspicious also in holding hostages. This is the best shelter for the terror war machine of Hamas.
ROBERTSON: But the hospital authorities said they have no knowledge of Hamas or other groups inside the hospitals. Is that possible?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think it's not possible for a hospital to have this kind of an infrastructure. We knew the terrorists were here. We knew. We knew, by intelligence and also we got some fire from this area.
ROBERTSON: From this area, this building?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: From this area. And we were right to fire because what we found an armory.
ROBERTSON: But so much damage all around here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, there is damage all around here because Hamas made it impossible for us to fight him. He built all these infrastructure in tunnels and in hospital, around areas populated.
ROBERTSON: As we exit the hospital, it is already dark.
We're just getting ready to leave right now. The firefight is still going on, still intense, bullets fired, explosions going on up the street there.
This war and the controversies surrounding it far from resolved.
Nic Robertson, CNN, Gaza.
PHILLIP: Some extraordinary footage there from on the ground in Gaza. I want to now go right to Veteran Foreign Affairs Correspondent Reena Ninen.
Reena, you've been to Gaza. The thing that is really striking, as we see that piece start, is this video here, Nic on this armored vehicle driving in to complete and total desolation. Have you ever seen Gaza look like this?
REENA NINAN, VETERAN FOREIGN AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: No. I mean, it is incredibly shocking also because of the fact whenever I've gone into Gaza, even the U.S. military was surprised at how precise they're able to be, the Israeli military, in targeting particular buildings. But you see entire towns completely wiped out in this video.
PHILLIP: Yes, I mean, it looks like there's just nothing there, no sign of civilians anywhere.
One of the other factors that were in this piece is the tunnels. You've also been inside of those tunnels. We saw some images of a solar panel on a rooftop bringing wiring into tunnels that looked incredibly sophisticated in some ways.
Hamas seems to have really built up these systems for this very moment.
NINAN: You're absolutely right, Abby. You nailed that point. Because when I went in, it was the start of when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip. And, essentially, what it was, was almost like underground sand castles. They got smarter. They got wiser.
At one point when the Israelis allowed more aid in 2010. The Egyptians didn't want these tunnels on their border. So, they poured water down the tunnels and all of that hard work was completely dissolved. Hamas got smarter. They brought in cement. They brought in proper engineering to construct what you're seeing.
And what Nic Robinson's incredible reporting going down into these areas, you can see the weapons and you can see exactly, as the Israeli military has allowed foreign reporters to go in, exactly how they've been using these areas.
PHILLIP: You also just recently got back from the region, from Morocco, in the Arab world. What is the mood right now? There's so much tension and anger. It almost feels combustible.
NINAN: That's a great way of putting it. And I got a chance to speak to college students, to people in government, to people in the business community. And over and over, Abby, the message that kept coming to me was, what does it mean to eradicate Hamas, Abby? What does that mean? They keep saying that these young boys who have lost all their family members, who have experienced war, death and destruction, isn't it only a matter of time before they uprise and come under some other name? It might not be Hamas. What do you do about this next generation where, overwhelmingly, they are young and under 30?
PHILLIP: Yes. Over a million people, it seems right now, on the run, no homes, nothing really around them, and as we saw with that desolation.
Reena Ninan, always great to have you on the show. Thank you.
And up next for us, is the GOP still the party of law and order? Well, not according to some recent statements.
Plus, we have new video that shows one of Donald Trump's co-defendants describing a scenario in which Trump would never have left the White House.
And with just four days until a government shutdown, hardliners are speaking out against their new speaker's plan to keep it running. Is Congressman Matt Gaetz one of them? Well, he'll join me live.
PHILLIP: Can the Republican Party still brand itself as the party of law and order? Well, apparently it depends on which crime and who's accused.
Donald Trump is facing four indictments, 91 felony counts, potentially three trials in the election year, and the head of the Republican National Committee just said this about her party's frontrunner.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: If you end up having Donald Trump as your nominee and if he is convicted of a crime, do you believe that he would be the appropriate nominee for the Republican Party?
RONNA MCDANIEL, CHAIR, REPUBLICAN NATIONAL COMMITTEE: Whoever the voters choose is the appropriate nominee.
BASH: Even if he's a convicted criminal?
MCDANIEL: I know this is newsworthy, but as party chair, I'm going to support who the voters choose. And, yes, if they choose Donald Trump, the voters are looking at this and they think there is a two-tiered system of justice. They don't believe a lot of the things that are coming out in this, and they're making these decisions and you're seeing that reflected in the polls.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: The confidence there, being A-okay with a convicted felon, not only leading her party, but also the country is interesting, especially since Ronna McDaniel has said this about the rule of law.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MCDANIEL: Trump voters, Republican voters, we want safety. Democrats are pro-crime, pro-criminal, pro-fentanyl party right now. Their policies have shown that. We're common sense. They're chaos and pro- criminal.
President Trump is talking about law and order, and that really resonates with suburban women like myself.
Well, here's what the Democrats are. They are inflation deniers. They are crime deniers. They're education deniers.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is literally.
MCDANIEL: Okay. But I do think one of the overwhelming issues we're seeing that's bringing them back right now in the suburbs is law and order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: That's quite the about-face, and it's just one example of how Republicans seem to be incredibly selective on the definition of crime. For instance, if the former president or his family is accused of a crime, whether it's hoarding government secrets or committing fraud, the law is weaponized. If it involves Hunter Biden or a Democrat, the law is either fine or not strong enough.
Here's another example. If the crime happens to be about big cities and urban areas, Republicans tend to call for the full weight of the law, but especially if those cities are run by Democrats.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: My administration will stop mob violence and will stop it cold. The mobs are devastating the life's work of good people and destroying their dreams.
Civilization must be cherished, defended and protected.
We cannot and must not allow a small group of criminals and vandals to wreck our cities and lay waste to our communities.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: But if the mobs attack the Capitol, the center of American democracy, those defendants are considered political prisoners.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I call them the J6 hostages, not prisoners. I call them the hostages, what's happened, and it's a shame.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was no insurrection, and to call it an insurrection, in my opinion, is a bold face line.
If you didn't know the T.V. footage was a video from January the 6th, you would actually think it was a normal tourist visit.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: So, in liberal cities, they're rioters, vandals, anarchists, and in the Capitol under attack, they are hostages and tourists.
Now, this all comes as ABC News releases some new video from the plea deals of two of Trump's co-defendants in that case in Georgia. Now, as you watch this video, keep in mind that the conversation that Jenna Ellis is describing here, this happened after most of Trump's election challenges had failed repeatedly in the courts.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNA ELLIS, FORMER TRUMP ATTORNEY: He said to me, you know, kind of excited tone, well, we don't care and we're not going to leave. And I said, what do you mean? And he said, well, the boss, meaning President Trump, and everyone understood the boss, that's what we all called him, he said, the boss is not going to leave under any circumstances. We are just going to stay in power.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Now, tonight, Trump's attorney in this case says, in part, this is irrelevant because Trump indeed left the White House.
Joining me now to discuss all of this, CNN Political Commentator Margaret Hoover and also Sarah Krissoff, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Sarah, I'll start with you and Jenna Ellis, Jenna Ellis, who tearfully had so much remorse about this. But in this tape, you hear her say that one of Trump's top aides in the White House at the time said he wasn't going to leave. How significant is that?
SARAH KRISSOFF, FORMER U.S. PROSECUTOR, SDNY: Listen, I think this is going to be pretty powerful evidence in this trial. And everybody is watching it. The Trump team is looking at it, thinking about how they're going to try to skirt around this evidence of the trial.
But those words, I think, will be pretty evident, pretty powerful evidence when she comes to testify at the trial.
PHILLIP: Is this about his mindset, his intent here?
KRISSOFF: Yes. I mean, I think her -- what we've seen so far on the video is it really does go to his intent and that's going to be sort of the crux of, you know, can they show his intent? Can they connect him to the actions of all of these others that were involved in the election interference?
PHILLIP: Margaret, I mean, Jenna Ellis, it's so amazing how much of an about-face she personally has made. But so many people who have been a part of this house of cards are -- they're getting out of the game and the house of cards is falling apart, and yet it seems that some people are just completely unmoved.
MARGARET HOOVER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, when you're looking down the barrel of jail time, of massive, really debilitating legal fees that, by the way, are not paid for by Donald Trump, who said he would pay for them.
Look, the gears of justice grind slowly, but when they grind, they're also -- they hurt, okay? The justice system is really doing its job and it is sinking its proverbial teeth into some of these witnesses who, you know, initially continued to align themselves with Donald Trump but are crippling under the weight of the system as it's working, as it's doing its job.
PHILLIP: And, by the way, I mean, the system is supposed to deter people, and that includes that you don't want to get involved in crimes because it's painful.
HOOVER: I defer to the lawyers about whether deterrence actually works or not.
PHILLIP: That's what it's supposed to do.
I mean, I'm going to play this, actually, Sarah, from Sidney Powell. This is her proffer as well.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was President Trump's reaction when, I guess, this cadre of advisers would say, you lost?
SIDNEY POWELL, COOPERATING WITNESS AGAINST FORMER PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: It was like, well, they would say that, and then they'd walk out and he'd go, see, this is what I deal with all the time.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Okay. So, I hear there, Trump heard in her presence that he lost. What do prosecutors do with that?
KRISSOFF: Listen, I think that will undermine his argument that he had a reasonable belief that he had not lost, that these were fights that he could continue to fight in the courts and through appropriate channels. And I think they're going to undercut that argument with statements like that by Powell.
PHILLIP: Margaret, do you think -- I mean, this is a perennial question, voters, this is all out there. This information is going to become very salient in the coming months as these trials begin. Will voters start to grow tired of these bogus conspiracies that have been totally and completely ruled -- completely made up? HOOVER: Yes. I mean, this is -- to your point, it's a perennial question. There's a question of, you know, at what point do voters start to cripple under the weight of the process of the justice system in the same way that some of these witnesses have who had previously been aligned with Donald Trump? I actually think they do.
And I think we saw that. We saw a glimmer of that in The New York Times/Siena poll last week. Recall, all the way at the bottom of the poll was this question, if Donald Trump is convicted and sentenced to jail, will you voters in these six key swing states, critical battleground states, continue to support Donald Trump over Joe Biden? And in every single one of them, the answer was no and by significant margins.
So, if you're looking at the suburban voters, just like Ronna Romney- McDaniel identified herself, you know, they are going to fall away.
And, by the way, another point, this is all happening in Georgia. Georgia is a state where Republican primary voters, while they self- identify as Republican, you can't just assume they're Trumpy. They re- elected Brad Raffensperger. They re-elected Brian Kemp.
PHILLIP: And they rejected Trump.
HOOVER: And by doing that, I mean, Trump -- they were proxies for being anti-Trump and they were re-elected very, very heartily. All of this drip, drip, drip is happening in Georgia local news, as in addition to national news. And so I think that affects the Georgia voters specifically, and Georgia is battleground state.
So, I do think this all has an impact, both at sort of a microstate level and macro.
PHILLIP: And we will see how Ronna McDaniel's answer to that very important question changes as those numbers become much more salient going into deeper into this primary and the general election.
Margaret and Sarah, thank you both very much for joining us tonight.
Now, I want to bring in former Republican Congressman Denver Riggleman. Congressman, thanks for joining us.
Look, Republicans have claimed for a long time that they are the party of law and order, but you just heard there the RNC chairwoman, Ronna McDaniel, saying that she would support a convicted criminal if he were the party's nominee. What happened?
FMR. REP. DENVER RIGGLEMAN (R-VA): I think if you think about Ronna McDaniel and the GOP, you know, they still have the tweet up where they have Sidney Powell talking about the stolen election back in November from 2020. So, I think you got to look at what they do and not what they say.
And what we've seen from the GOP since really November of 2020 going through January 6th is the fact that they say that they're party of rule and law, but they support really what happened on January 6th based on action.
So, for me, Abby, I just think it's ridiculous with the data we've seen, with the analysis we've done, with the facts-based insights we looked at on January 6th, that we have an individual who said that she is for law and order and that the party is for law and order, that they would support somebody like Donald Trump, who has been indicted, what is it now, Abby, 91 times. It's just unbelievable to me that they still think that people don't see right through what they're doing.
PHILLIP: And, look, Congressman just over the weekend, Trump, once again, back at it, calling his opponents on the left, vermin, in a speech on Veterans Day, no less, in New Hampshire. Just take a listen to that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: 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.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Live like vermin. You are a former congressman whose district included Charlottesville, where we know what happened there with those deadly riots. You also know what this kind of rhetoric can unleash. Is this Trump escalating again?
RIGGLEMAN: It is, I think. Honestly, Abby, I think January 6th was really just a test case. When you talk about what happened before that, we saw the data with the language. And it was dehumanizing language. It was language to try to divide.
And when you're talking about somebody using the word, vermin, and I know so many people talked about that it seems to copy some of the mannerisms of what happened in Germany with Hitler and sort of this language of separating people and this language of really heightened radicalization.
You can weaponize language. You can weaponize conspiracy theories. And I think that's what you're seeing. You're seeing weaponizing language to dehumanize other individuals. And it really is a path to violence.
And I think that's what scares so many that have been in the domestic or counterterrorism arena, who have looked at radicalization, like I have, is that that kind of language is really awful because what it does is it identifies people as the enemy and it really plays to that apocalyptic, messianic, you know, sort of belief system that it is good against evil.
And if you're fighting vermin and you're actually identifying them as vermin, what would you do to them in order to save your country? And I'll put that in quotes. I think that's why it's just devastatingly bad. And I think we need to look at January 6th really as something that is really light compared to what could happen with this kind of language and this kind of escalation. You're correct.
PHILLIP: And, of course, from a political perspective, we just came off of a off-year election in your home state of Virginia, where Republicans failed to meet even their benchmarks. Republicans generally have seen a net loss of seats in the House and the Senate and in governorships all since Trump was elected.
So, what will it take for Republicans? What will it take for the RNC chairwoman, whose job is to secure the electoral prospects of your party, to say that this is not worth it anymore?
RIGGLEMAN: It would take courage. It would take valuing the American people over a grifter and a scheister like Donald Trump. It would take actually caring about what happens to this country in the future instead of caring about polling and fundraising and crosstabs. And that's the issue.
Trump can't really win a whole lot at the local election level, but he can certainly help people lose, and he's counting on that. So, you have a party that's really held hostage by somebody who understands that his power is in the base. And, again, she has to do what she has to do in order to continue to be in power herself.
So, really, it's a simple fact that she cares more about a party with an R behind it than she does about the American people, and it's also the fact that she can't tell the truth. She can't tell the truth how she feels or she's not going to be the actual party leader anymore.
And that's really what it comes down to, Abby. It comes down to power, it comes down to money, it comes down to influence. And that's more important to people like Ronna McDaniel than the American people.
PHILLIP: And some self-preservation in there as well.
Former Congressman Denver Riggleman, we appreciate you, thank you.
RIGGLEMAN: Thank you, ma'am.
PHILLIP: Four days until the government shuts down. New House Speaker Mike Johnson will likely need bipartisan support to keep it open. That's what's got previous Speaker Kevin McCarthy removed from his job. We'll speak with one of the lawmakers who led the charge to get rid of McCarthy. That's Congressman Matt Gaetz. He's up next.
PHILLIP: Tonight, the Republican House Speaker looks like he does not have enough Republican votes to pass his plan to fund the government. That's just three days now before the government's bills come due. And again, the Speaker may have to rely on Democrats. It's the exact scenario that cost Kevin McCarthy his job.
Joining me now is Republican Congressman from Florida, Matt Gaetz. Congressman Gaetz, thanks for coming back to the show. MATT GAETZ (R-FL), REPRESENTATIVE: Thanks for having me.
PHILLIP: So, first of all, will you vote yes on a clean CR this week?
GAETZ: I will not because it does not address our spending challenges. We sit atop a $33 trillion debt. We're facing $2.2 trillion annual deficits. Our interest on the national debt is about to eclipse $900 billion.
And just days ago, Moody's downgraded the United States from stable to negative, specifically citing our inability under both Republican and Democrat administrations to deal with these fiscal challenges and just the lack of governance over the enhanced spending that's diluting the American dollar and driving inflation.
PHILLIP: Are you losing confidence now in your pick for the speaker, Mike Johnson?
GAETZ: I'm not. I understand that Mike Johnson is looking for about 75 days of breathing room here. I don't think that we made the right choices. The country's with us on the border. Seventy-five percent of the country believes Washington spends too much money.
I think we should have chosen one of those high hills to fight on. Instead, Speaker Johnson has chosen to have that battle in divided government tens of days from now. I hope he's successful. I'm going to work to see that he's successful in that regard.
But there's a fundamental difference here between Johnson and McCarthy. McCarthy had seven months. Johnson's only had a few weeks, and so we'll see what he does with a full, you know, amount of time under his belt.
PHILLIP: I mean, that's interesting that you would say that this is a question of how much time that they've had. I do want to play for you what you told me back on September 22nd when McCarthy was speaker at the time. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: If Speaker McCarthy puts a continuing resolution on the floor to keep the government open for 30 days, is that enough in your mind to force a vote to kick him out of his job?
GAETZ: I agree with many of my colleagues who say that if Speaker McCarthy embraces a clean continuing resolution to continue the spending policies of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden, that would most likely trigger a motion to vacate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: Isn't Speaker Johnson also doing the same thing -- GAETZ: No.
PHILLIP: -- pursuing a continuing resolution that continues the policies, in your words, of Nancy Pelosi and Joe Biden? Why would that not cost him his job?
GAETZ: As I said before you played that clip, it's all a function of time. You see, Mike Johnson and Kevin McCarthy both promised us a path to single-subject spending bills. In seven months of Kevin McCarthy being Speaker, he only delivered one of them. If Mike Johnson is only able to deliver, you know, one of them over seven months, then he would likely face a motion to vacate, too, but he has done far better than that.
PHILLIP: Well, Mike Johnson is asking for -- he's asking for 75 days at current spending levels. You said that was continuing the spending levels and governing by CR, you said was a deal breaker for McCarthy, and on top of that, we're learning tonight that he'll --yeah --
GAETZ: Right. But Abby, you're not hearing me. Hold on, you're not hearing me though. If McCarthy had endeavored upon those single- subject spending bills for the seven months he had been Speaker, he would not have faced a motion to vacate. It's that he pushed us back up against the wall and tried to leverage shut down politics to get us to do what the lobbyists and special interests in the swamp always want to do, and that is avoid itemized review.
Mike Johnson is working to get us in a posture to be able to do the very work that I've been calling for. So, it's not comparable.
PHILLIP: I guess I hear what you're saying, but it sounds to me like you're talking about just some procedural issues and I think you would want --
GAETZ: It's seven months. You don't see the distinction?
PHILLIP: I guess here's what I'm -- well, let me -- let me just say, Congressman, I mean, you've been on the show, you want to talk about the policy here, right? Which is the level of spending that the government is doing. At the end of the day, McCarthy was going to give you what you wanted, which was to take up these individual spending bills. You kicked him out of his job because of a procedural thing, which is the same procedural thing --
PHILLIP: -- that Mike Johnson is doing right now. And Mike Johnson is also going to be relying on Democrats in order to pass the rule to get this onto the floor.
GAETZ: But it's a matter of trust.
PHILLIP: Why are you not holding him to a different standard?
GAETZ: No, I'm not. Again, if we are seven months into the Mike Johnson speakership and we've only moved, you know, a single subject spending bill, then Mike Johnson would likely face a similar fate. But in Mike Johnson's first week as Speaker, he was moving bill after bill.
So, he has shown a commitment and a sincerity in this process that was totally absent under Kevin McCarthy. And the distinction is easily explainable when you look at the amount of time he just had. I think Mike Johnson deserves the opportunity to have some runway to execute his vision.
Now, I'm not going to join in any vision that's a continuing resolution at current policies and current spending levels, but I don't think it warrants an ouster unless that is a theory of governance that predominates over some term of months.
PHILLIP: So, former Speaker McCarthy, just over the weekend, he spoke to our colleague Manu Raju, and he said that he believed that you would throw the country away. Those are his words, in order to protect yourself, and that your chief concern is about shutting down an Ethics Committee investigation into you. Do you have a response to that?
GAETZ: I watched Manu's discussion with the former speaker and it seemed more like a therapy session than an interview. I don't know if Manu's going to be sending a bill. Maybe Sequoia Capital will pay for it. But I'm the most investigated man in all of Congress. I've been cleared by the FBI, the DOG -- J, even the Federal Elections Commission.
So, McCarthy is trying to use this to try to explain away his own failures.
But what is not explained is that in the penultimate vote before Mike Johnson was designated speaker by our conference, Kevin McCarthy had whittled down to only 43 supporters continuing to write his name in.
So, I don't think we can assume that all 150 plus other members who were wanting to move past Kevin McCarthy had ethics problems -- seems more like projection to me, someone whose own inability to tell the truth to either Republicans or Democrats ultimately resulted in his ouster.
PHILLIP: And just quickly before you go, Congressman, what is your red line for the current speaker? Is there anything that he can do that would cause him to lose your confidence?
GAETZ: He's got to release the January 6 tapes. He said that'll be coming out in tranches. I know him to be a man of his word. I expect him to do that. It was the only promise he made other than a desire to get back to our single subject spending bills. And he's got to do that. And I think he will.
Also, we already saw the subpoena go out to the -- to Hunter Biden and also one to Frank Biden. So, I think that shows a more rigorous commitment to our oversight agenda than we ever had under Kevin McCarthy. PHILLIP: All right, Congressman Matt Gaetz, thanks for joining us
GAETZ: Thanks, Abby.
PHILLIP: And Americans are saying that they're not feeling the benefits from Biden's economic plans. Is the so-called Biden economics helping Americans? And can anyone even define it? We'll debate that next.
PHILLIP: No question President Biden is facing a tough road ahead in his 2024 reelection campaign. Latino voters, a key group for Democrats, are telling CNN now that they are not satisfied with what they've seen from Biden, specifically when it comes to the economy. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Are you happy with your vote for Joe Biden?
GABRIELE MARTINEZ, GEORGIA VOTER: Well, I didn't see something like really change. Like, I didn't see changes. And so, I was expecting something.
UNKNOWN: Every month, a struggle.
MARTINEZ: Right now, I work in three jobs because I have to like pay more things. Like my house is more expensive.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
PHILLIP: A similar sentiment is being shared among Democratic voters just more broadly. Look at this, recent polling showing that only 23 percent say that they are better off financially than they were before Biden became president, with 15 percent saying they're not as well off and 60 percent saying they're about the same.
PHILLIP: Joining me now is Kevin O'Leary, Chairman of O'Leary Ventures, along with CNN Economics and Political Commentator, Catherine Rampell. She's also a "Washington Post" Opinion Columnist. Catherine, you hear there with that voter and you see there in the polling, people, even the ones inclined to support President Biden, just don't feel solid and comfortable with their financial situation. That's got to be a huge issue for the President.
CATHERINE RAMPELL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It absolutely is. If you look at Biden's ratings, in fact, if you look at the approval ratings of pretty much every political leader that has presided around the world over a bout of extended inflation, they are all in the toilet right now. The economy is definitely dragging on Biden's poll numbers.
And look, in some ways on paper, the economy looks relatively good. If you look at unemployment, you look at job growth, you look at GDP growth, on paper, the economy looks quite resilient, particularly relative to the alternative. You know, there was a lot of fear of recession, for example, following that high bout of inflation. But voters just aren't feeling it, right?
PHILLIP: But how do they run on the economy? They're signaling that they are going to be running on this economy.
KEVIN O'LEARY, CHAIRMAN, O'LEARY VENTURES: Economy is actually quite good. I agree with that statement. However, the problem is, Bidenomics is now branded with inflation, particularly around housing, energy, and protein food.
And so, these are things you deal with every day as a voter. And if you look at history over a long period of time, regardless of what side of the aisle you're on, when you're fighting the fight for your second mandate in inflationary times, the other side always makes it very easy to point out that you failed on keeping the cost of living constant, and it's a very tough mandate to beat.
You just say, what did it cost you to fill up your car? How much is that steak or that hamburger you're buying? And what about that price of your house? Are you going to sell it and pay seven, eight, nine percent for your mortgage? This is going to be a remarkable outcome in this election. It's going to be decided by, I think, Bidenomics, which is now a negative brand, not a positive one.
PHILLIP: What -- okay, Catherine, what is the definition of Bidenomics?
RAMPELL: Oh, I'm so glad you asked. Bidenomics is whatever you want it to be. If you are Joe Biden, Bidenomics is anything good happening in the economy. It's job growth. It's wage gains at the bottom of the income distribution. If you are a political adversary of Joe Biden's, Bidenomics is anything bad happening in the economy, particularly inflation.
PHILLIP: That seems like a recipe for a very bad campaign slogan.
RAMPELL: Yes, well, it's partly because there isn't --
O'LEARY: Can he drop it now? Can he drop that brand now?
RAMPELL: No, because he still wants to --
O'LEARY: With 11 months left?
RAMPELL: He still wants to take credit for the good things that are going on. I mean --
O'LEARY: What good things?
RAMPELL: There has been very strong job growth. We have avoided, to date, a recession, despite the fact that historically following an extended period of inflation, the economy has fallen into recession. That's where we had all of these calls for a downturn last year. O'LEARY: That's coming to a theater near you soon. That's the point.
RAMPELL: No, if you look at the forecast for recession going forward, they've actually come way down.
PHILLIP: And look, gas prices --
RAMPELL: The median forecast is not for recession next year.
PHILLIP: To your point, I mean, look, we were just talking about this. A hundred and fifty thousand jobs created in October. GDP, 4.9 percent, really kind of beating a lot of the rest of the developed world dealing with some of the same issues. Gas prices are $3.37.
O'LEARY: But inflation remains at 3.6 percent. And there's $2 trillion of free money coming in the Chips and Science Act and the Inflation Reduction Act.
That's extraordinary inflationary. Not a cent has been spent yet. So, the risk Bidenomics has, if you want to tie those two programs to Bidenomics, and you have to, those are his programs, is when you turn that crank of free money from the helicopter. You get that inflation back at you right in the middle of the campaign next year.
Which is why I think, it's my own personal forecast, another 50 basis points rate hikes from the Fed. Getting the terminal rate to six. Your mortgage will be nine, your car loan will be 10. That is really going to hurt you in the polls.
And I'm just an observer. I'm trying to be completely agnostic to party on this. It's tough to tell people, sorry, that car that cost you five percent 24 months ago, costs you nine percent now. That mortgage, that's 8.5. Sorry, that's Bidenomics.
RAMPELL: Yeah. I think it's unlikely that the industrial policy programs, which I have been critical of to be clear, are going to be super inflation.
O'LEARY: Haven't even started yet.
RAMPELL: They're over a longer time period. I think it's very unlikely that they're going to have a material effect on inflation in the next year, heading into the election. I'll just put it that way. That doesn't mean that the beast of inflation has been vanquished.
And I think at this point, what Americans are maddest about is the price growth we have already seen to date. They don't want slower inflation, which is what the Fed is aiming for, right? They don't want three percent inflation. They want deflation. They want prices to go back to what they were in 2019 and 2020, which should not happen.
O'LEARY: You can't -- you can't -- that's not going to happen before the election. RAMPELL: No, it shouldn't happen ever. If that happens, that's the
sign of an economy in crisis. If prices overall are going down, that's how you got the Great Depression.
O'LEARY: How do you win with Bidenomics? Where's the win?
RAMPELL: I think it's very challenging. I think Biden has been dealt -- Biden has made some mistakes, but he's also been dealt a very difficult set of cards, which is that consumers want something that is not going to happen that we should not want to happen. We should not want the overall price level to go down, to be clear.
And he kind of can't message his way out of that. There are things he could do on the margin to make their lives a little bit better, to bring down some prices. I mean, I've talked about them before. There are things like repealing some of the tariffs that he stuck, that he kept around, that he had criticized when Biden put them into place -- excuse me -- when Trump had put them into place.
There are some things he can do on the margin, but the overall challenge that he faces is that prices have gone up quite a lot and they're not going to go back down and until wages rise commensurately with those price increases, voters are going to be mad.
O'LEARY: The best outcome would be that there's no rate increases from the fed in Jan-Feb-March when you're really in the campaign and you're saying, look, we've tamed the beast. We're sitting at three and a half percent, but it's going to come down and the fed is staying higher for longer, but not raising rates. Because I think the tripping point is on housing, on food, on energy.
PHILLIP: Yeah, I think that's what people are. You heard her there. She said, the cost of my house is going up.
O'LEARY: I rest my case, your honor.
PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, I think that, again, like, inflation may be stabilizing to some extent, but the way people feel it when they go to the grocery store, when they pay their rent or their mortgage, when they try to buy a house and they can't, that's what's hard for the Biden White House and campaign to deal with.
Kevin O'Leary, Catherine Rampell, interesting conversation, debate between the two of you. Thank you. And up next for us, news on New York City Mayor Eric Adams' investigation into his fundraising.
PHILLIP: Tonight, there are new details on the federal investigation centered on New York's Mayor Eric Adams. Top officials briefed on the probe tell CNN it's about campaign money, favors and possible foreign influence from Turkey. Laura Coates has more coming up in a moment.