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House Ethics Chair Introduces Rep. George Santos (R-NY) Expulsion Resolution; Special Counsel Using California Grand Jury in Hunter Biden Probe; CNN Poll Shows Trump Holds Significant Lead in New Hampshire GOP Primary. Aired 10-10:30a ET
Aired November 17, 2023 - 10:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Question that George Santos is probably asking himself, can the Republican Congressman survive the expulsion vote this time around? The House Ethics Committee chairman just filed paperwork to oust him less than 24 hours after a scathing ethics report.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We have new reporting on the tunnel that Israel says it found on the grounds of a Gaza hospital.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Sean Diddy Combs accused of rape and a decade of physical abuse by R&B singer Cassie, the music mogul denying the accusations, the lawsuit he's now facing in federal court.
I'm Kate Bolduan with John Berman and Sara Sidner. This is CNN News Central.
SIDNER: This is just into CNN, the top Republican in the House Ethics Committee has formally filed a measure to kick Republican Congressman George Santos out of Congress. Santos has already survived one expulsion vote, but this time, things appear to be different. That is because the House Ethics Committee released a scathing report accusing Santos of stealing campaign money and using it for his own personal gain, and the details are extremely damning. Santos is accused of spending donors' money on luxury goods, Botox, Sephora hauls and OnlyFans subscriptions.
CNN's Lauren Fox is joining us now from Capitol Hill this morning. Lauren, what are you starting to hear from lawmakers? I know that there was this call for, yes, we're going to file this. Now they have filed it. What are you hearing from the lawmakers that have now learned about this really damaging Ethics Committee investigation?
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Sara. What you are hearing from members over the course of the last 24 hours is many of them who had voted against expelling George Santos from Congress in previous resolution votes, they are saying now that they are ready to get rid of George Santos and kick him out of Congress. It's an extremely high bar to kick a member out of the House of Representatives. It takes a two-thirds majority of the House of Representatives, but so far there are at least a dozen House Republicans who voted against expelling Santos before, who are now saying that they would be supportive of that measure.
And assuming that all of the Democrats voted to expel George Santos, you'd need around 50 Republicans to change their vote and support that resolution. So, they are well on their way.
Now, this resolution has officially been introduced. Once again, lawmakers will be on a Thanksgiving recess next week. We expect that when they return, that resolution could come to the floor for a vote.
We are also expecting on November 30th that George Santos will hold a press conference and speak to reporters about what his plans are. But obviously a lot of questions about whether or not George Santos will remain in Congress, either by his own volition or whether or not his colleagues may vote to kick him out. Sara?
SIDNER: Lauren Fox, thank you so much for all your reporting there. Kate?
BOLDUAN: A CNN exclusive now, the special counsel overseeing the investigation into the president's son, Hunter, is using a California grand jury, apparently to obtain more documents and get possible testimony from multiple witnesses. This is all according to people familiar with the investigation.
Also new CNN reporting is this. James Biden, the president's brother, has received a subpoena.
CNN's Katelyn Polantz has this new reporting. She's joining us now. Katelyn, tell us more about what you're learning here.
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Kate, what we're learning is that there is an ongoing, an active grand jury investigation out of California. So, the special counsel office of David Weiss, the prosecutor with the Justice Department, that has been investigating Hunter Biden for many years now, is using this grand jury, meaning there could be potential charges to come and indictment, perhaps, out of the grand jury in California against the president's son, Hunter Biden.
What we know about that grand jury investigation is we don't have a full idea of the scope of it, but we do know it is likely very much about the business dealings of Hunter Biden, perhaps the fact that he didn't pay some of his taxes in 2017 and 2018, something that he had already tried to have a plea deal at the misdemeanor level that fell apart on those charges in Delaware. And now the special counsel appears to be taking a look at that potential set of charges in California in this different grand jury, something that Weiss had signaled he would do before.
But the other thing that we know is this is subpoenas for documents and for testimony, including a subpoena to the brother of the president, James Biden, that's Hunter Biden's uncle, somebody who has some sort of insight into Hunter Biden's income and some of his other financial interests.
And so that is one of the reasons that James Biden may be brought in to that grand jury to testify.
Hunter Biden's legal team is very likely to fight anything that may arise out of this grand jury investigation in California. He's already fighting a separate gun charge where he was indicted in Delaware after his plea deal fell apart. They want to go to trial there. And they also want to claim that he's immune from any further charges because of the deal that he had made with Weiss' office previously.
But we're going to have to see exactly what happens. We just do know that Hunter Biden has some legal risk out there now because of this act of grand jury investigation in Los Angeles. Kate?
BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Great reporting, Katelyn, thank you. John?
BERMAN: We have some new CNN polling this morning on the state of the race, the Republican race for president in the key early voting state of New Hampshire. Donald Trump, way in front but Nikki Haley now in a comfortable second. And look who is not in third, Ron DeSantis now in fourth place and slipping.
With us now, CNN Senior Political Analyst and Senior Editor of The Atlantic Ron Brownstein. And I actually want to start with DeSantis because he's been running hard in Iowa. And we always couple Iowa, New Hampshire together, the first two states, but maybe it's a mistake to think of them as a duo.
RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: No, absolutely. Look, the last three Iowa winners in the Republican caucus all followed the same strategy that DeSantis is following now. We had Mike Huckabee in '08, Rick Santorum on '12, Ted Cruz in '16, some of whose advisers are advising DeSantis. They all ran the same way in Iowa. They burrowed in, built an organization and focus above all on mobilizing, consolidating Evangelical Christians. And they all won.
When they got to New Hampshire, they immediately careened into a snow bank. None of them got to even 12 percent of the vote. Evangelicals are half the share of the vote in New Hampshire as they are in Iowa. And what happened to Huckabee, Santorum and Cruz, is that once they got, in effect, stamped as the candidate of the religious right, of the social conservatives, they had very little audience in New Hampshire. And right now, Ron DeSantis looks like he is basically on that same road to nowhere.
BERMAN: Yes. And one of the things, those three candidates, they all won.
BROWNSTEIN: Yes, and he may not even win.
BERMAN: He may not even win in Iowa. BROWNSTEIN: Yes. Look, I mean, the big question in the Republican race, I think, for many people all the way through, is could you avoid the situation in 2016 where the voters who are resistant to Trump are still divided well into the process among multiple candidates. Can anyone get into a one-on-one race with Trump after the very first states.
And for most of this year, most Republicans thought if anyone could, it was going to be Ron DeSantis. But what this poll shows, and what polling in South Carolina shows, is that Nikki Haley may now have more runway to establish herself as the principal alternative to Trump after those early states than DeSantis does.
BERMAN: All right. Give me the glass half full version of the Nikki Haley candidacy if she wants to win here. You know, she could surge in New Hampshire then South Carolina, her home state, right after that.
BROWNSTEIN: Exactly right. So, three to one, right, I mean, that's the argument. If you, if she can finish a strong, at least third in Iowa, which now seems possible, can she parlay that into a strong finish in New Hampshire, a solid second, because New Hampshire is a pretty congenial electorate for her. It's more moderate, more college educated, a lot of independents vote, somewhere around 40 percent of the electorate, and then she goes home to South Carolina.
Now, you know, if she finishes second to Trump in South Carolina, that's probably it. I mean, you know, the winner of the South Carolina primary, as you know, has won the Republican nomination every time since 1980, except for 2012, when Gingrich had kind of this fluky win there.
But there is now a plausible pathway for her. The problem is, can she get enough momentum out of Iowa, especially now that DeSantis has been reinforced by the governor there, to finish strongly in New Hampshire, and can she finish strongly enough in New Hampshire to get momentum into South Carolina?
BERMAN: But there is, if you squint, you could begin to see a semi- plausible path, which was hard to see before. However, New Hampshire, there are people who can vote in New Hampshire who cannot participate in other states in their priorities.
BROWNSTEIN: Exactly. Independent voters are a big part of why Haley is so competitive in New Hampshire. And they are a big part of that Republican electorate, maybe as much as 40 percent, as I said.
BERMAN: In New Hampshire.
BROWNSTEIN: In New Hampshire.
Look, which she basically has had the opposite strategy of DeSantis. DeSantis tried to run at Trump from the right, right? And he -- in the process, he has not really dislodged that many Trump supporters, but he's alienated a lot of the more centrist parts of the party that are the most resistant to Trump. Haley is now consolidating those voters in New Hampshire. Clearly, that's what's happening. The vacuum that DeSantis left and her own strong performances are allowing her to get a lot of those moderate, college educated suburban Republicans.
But that ultimately is not enough. She is going to have to cut into that Trump constituency if she is ultimately going to be a serious threat to him.
BERMAN: You know, if you are a strategic Republican voter, if you look at the head-to-head matchups between all the Republican candidates and Joe Biden, Nikki Haley just palpably, statistically, significantly better than all the rest.
BROWNSTEIN: On among those same voters. I mean, the big difference between Haley or Trump and DeSantis versus Biden is that she performs much better with white collar voters, college-educated voters, who have moved away from the GOP systematically in the Trump era, who helped the Democrats in Virginia, for example, even as recently as Virginia State legislative races in 2022.
The principal reason why the red wave kind of fizzled out is how well Democrats did in white collar suburbs. Haley is running much better than Trump or DeSantis with those voters in a potential general election.
BERMAN: What we don't know is if Republican voters who are voting in the primaries care about that.
BROWNSTEIN: And we also know that those voters, those college- educated voters are shrinking as a share of the Republican primary electorate.
Trump is refashioning the GOP in his image. It's becoming more blue collar, more populist, and that, of course, makes him harder to beat.
BERMAN: Ron Brownstein, great to see you. The Republican race is shifting. I mean, there are things happening inside that race right now that do bear watching. Great to have you here.
BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.
SIDNER: I love it when Ron Brownstein comes to the set and hangs out with us. It's good stuff.
All right, coming up, Israel releases new video of what it says is an operational tunnel shaft used by Hamas in the Al-Shifa Hospital complex. This is as we learn new information about the number of hostages still missing in Gaza.
Also accusations of rape and sex trafficking, shocking details from the new lawsuit filed against hip hop mogul Sean Diddy Combs by his ex-girlfriend.
And 100 days after that devastating wildfire on Maui, officials are still searching for missing people. What they're doing to give those families some answers, all of that ahead.
BOLDUAN: The IDF operation at Al-Shifa Hospital in Northern Gaza continues this morning. And among what the IDF says they have discovered is the bodies of two Israeli hostages kidnapped by Hamas. They are 65 -year -old Yehudit Weiss and 19-year-old Noa Marciano. Noah is a corporal in the IDF. Their bodies have now been taken back to Israel.
Still, the IDF estimates around 237 hostages are still being held inside Gaza, now 42 days after the October 7th terror attack by Hamas.
Now, along with that grim news of this discovery, Israel has released what they say is a first look at the Hamas infrastructure that they say that they're finding at the hospital complex. The video showing what the IDF claims is an operational tunnel shaft, that's how they describe it, found feet away from the building at the hospital. And there's also video released of weapons and ammunition, as you saw right there, released by the IDF, they say they found it at the hospital.
Israel has long said Al-Shifa, Gaza's largest hospital is being used and has been used by Hamas to shield its operations. The Biden administration says that U.S. intelligence backs that up.
CNN's Oren Liebermann is tracking these new developments from Tel Aviv for us. He's back with us. Oren, talk to me about what is known and what is being said about the tunnels the IDF has released video of.
OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Kate, we've been able to geolocate the video released from the Israel Defense Forces too within the A -Shifa Hospital complex. The key question is, what is behind that tunnel door, what's inside the shaft that you see there. And that, of course, would go a long way to confirming what the IDF has long asserted, which is that Hamas uses the hospital complex above to shield and protect its infrastructure below.
We haven't seen into that infrastructure. We don't know if there are multiple shafts there or the large complex that the IDF has long said is there. But this is the beginning of what the IDF says is a process of releasing evidence to show that as they work their way through now on the fourth day or so through the hospital complex still searching, still looking for that underground infrastructure.
Again, as you pointed out, the U.S. has given its own backing. President Joe Biden says the U.S. has its own intelligence that also shows or says that Hamas has infrastructure below the complex itself. The IDF says they also found weapons and ammunition in the vicinity. Meanwhile, doctors and officials at the hospital have asserted that it is simply a medical complex, but this is a very black and white issue. There either is or is not Hamas infrastructure below the hospital. There isn't really a spectrum here. And that's why this is such a fundamental important claim for the credibility here of establishing that it is there or it isn't there.
The U.N. has said there needs to be an independent commission or an independent check to really go in and look at what's underneath the hospital itself as IDF operations continue there.
BOLDUAN: Oren, can you also talk to me -- tell us more about the hostages. These bodies were discovered and recovered by the IDF during this operation. What more are you hearing about them?
LIEBERMANN: Kate, as you pointed out, the total number of hostages, Israeli hostages believed to be held in Gaza at this point, according to the IDF, is 237. We learned more about two Israeli hostages who were killed in Gaza.
First, the IDF released a statement about 65-year-old grandmother Yehudit Weiss, who had been kidnapped from Kibbutz Be'eri, one of the kibbutzim that was hardest hit by the Hamas terror attack on October 7th. Her husband was killed in the attack. The Israeli military says her body was discovered near Al-Shifa in a building that also had AK- 47s and rocket-propelled grenades.
Then a fairly short time later, Israel came out and said they had discovered the body of Noa Marciano, a 19 year old Israeli soldier who had been killed.
Now, they found her body and brought her body out. At the same time, the father of Emily Hand, an Irish-Israeli girl who was being held by Hamas, he put her billboard up in Times Square and had this to say about his girl.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THOMAS HAND, DAUGHTER BELIEVED TO BE HOSTAGE OF HAMAS: She won't have a birthday. We were hoping that she would be back by now. That would have been now and prayers answered, but she's not. She's still down in the tunnels. And now we have to hope that she will be back for Christmas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIEBERMANN: He had been led to believe that she was killed in the attack, only to find out that it was then believed she was being held hostage.
Hostage negotiations ongoing, there have been some reports and rumors that something imminent, some sort of deal is close. But at least from where we're standing, that has yet to come to fruition, Kate.
BOLDUAN: And you see on the billboard that Mr. Hand put up, it says today is Emily's ninth birthday. Thank you, Oren. Sara?
SIDNER: That story is so crushing. That father is going through so much.
I want to update you all on what is happening in Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza. We are now hearing from a doctor there who says that the majority of the ICU patients who were on ventilators have now died.
Earlier this week, the hospital ran out of fuel and oxygen, forcing it, in effect, to close, although there are still people doing work. There are still doctors and nurses doing work there.
I'm joined now by the deputy program manager of Doctors Without Borders, Dr. Amber Alayyan. Thank you so much for taking the time with us.
First of all, what can you tell us about what is actually happening with your colleagues there on the ground inside of the hospital?
DR. AMBER ALAYYAN, DEPUTY PROGRAM MANAGER, DOCTORS WITHOUT BORDERS: So, we haven't heard from our -- we have a surgeon inside Shifa Hospital whom we haven't heard from in a couple of days actually. Just prior to losing communication with him, he had been telling us about having to do amputations on patients without anesthesia, that they were out of the (INAUDIBLE), and that they were fearing for their lives.
SIDNER: When you -- I mean, just the thought of doing an amputation or any surgery without anesthesia is just the most horrific thing that anybody would have to go through the patients, but also the staff there.
How is your staff handling all this? We are hearing shortages of food, shortages of clean water. They too are in the same position. How are they? How are they functioning?
ALAYYAN: They're traumatized and they're terrified. So, we have not only the staff that we had working in Shifa, many of whom -- so they were sheltering in our offices, which are not, are from Shifa Hospital. And they were sheltering there with their families because they felt safer living and sheltering in our offices than being in their own homes.
So, we have around 130 men, women and children of whom, include our staff and their families, in our offices. And some of them were going to Shifa Hospital to help out of their own volition prior to the latest situation in Shifa.
And it was very traumatizing for them. They were doing the best they could with very little means and then it got to be too dangerous to go. They left for their -- they finished their shifts and they were -- to get in because of sniper fire and attacks around and near the hospital.
Those same people, those same 130 are sheltering in our office, but they're terrified. The water tanks on one of the roofs of one of our buildings have been -- has exploded. They are out of food. They are out of water. The last we heard from them, they were doing shifts where the men were basically doing sort of Ramadan-style fasting so that they could spare the food for the women and children. And these are our staff. So, they're traumatized and so are we, frankly.
SIDNER: My God, it is just a disaster that keeps getting worse. It is a catastrophe at this point.
I do want to ask you about the fighting that's been going on. We've been hearing a lot of things about what is potentially going on outside of the hospital. You're talking about how they are too afraid to leave your office. We're also seeing some images from the Israeli military about a tunnel opening that they found within the hospital complex and some weapons that they have also found there. What is your message to both Hamas and to the Israeli military about what your demands are? What MSF, what the Medecins Sans Frontieres demands are as they are trying their very best to save people's lives every single day during all of this?
ALAYYAN: So, I can say that I was in Shifa Hospital around seven weeks ago.
I have never seen weapons there. I have never seen military personnel there. Our staff have never seen military personnel or weapons in the hospital. We work inside hospitals. We don't work under them. We have absolutely no evidence of what's being said.
Having said all of that, what we demand is a ceasefire. We have to be able to get aid to our patients. We have to be able to get fuel and water to the population. The people in danger are not only the people in hospitals but the civilian population who doesn't have access to clean water or food. There are huge epidemic diseases that are just ready to explode if we don't get proper support to this population.
So, for us, there's no, you know, a few hour pause that can guarantee what the population really needs in this time.
SIDNER: Yes. You're saying -- I think anyone can tell that. Like a few hours is not going to do the job at all, not even close.
There is a talk of several days ceasefire, which is being right now trying to negotiate that, but we just don't know where that stands.
I do want to say to you, thank you to the doctors who have been able to stay and who are still trying to do work in the most awful of conditions. And thank you to you for taking the time to come on and talk about this horrific situation that your doctors find themselves in as they try to save people there in Gaza. I appreciate your time, Doctor.
ALAYYAN: I agree your gratitude to them. They are really our heroes. Thank you and thank you for the opportunity.
SIDNER: You're welcome. All right, John. BERMAN: All right, shocking allegations of rape and abuse, the new lawsuit filed against Sean Combs.