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Will Hamas-Israel Truce Be Extended?; Will Congress Expel George Santos?; Interview With Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-NY). Aired 11- 11:30a ET

Aired November 30, 2023 - 11:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN HOST: Republican George Santos might have less than 24 hours left in Congress. This morning, he hints he has dirt on the people who might vote to expel him.

SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: And the fragile truce between Israel and Hamas is expected to be extended. We are now in day seven. More hostages are expected to be released this hour, as Secretary of State Tony Blinken is meeting with top U.S. officials and he is meeting with folks in the West Bank and Tel Aviv. But a shooting attack in Jerusalem may complicate efforts to extend the truce.

BERMAN: So, how to win back advertisers. Tell them to go blank themselves. That is what Elon Musk just did, so how's it working for him so far?

I'm John Berman with Sara Sidner. Kate is on assignment. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

This morning, on what could be the last full day in Congress for George Santos, the New York Republican slammed his colleagues for -- quote -- "bullying" him. He faces an expulsion vote tomorrow. It comes in the wake of a damning ethics report that found he ripped off campaign donors and used the money for himself.

Santos has also pleaded not guilty to a slew of federal charges.

CNN's Lauren Fox and Manu Raju both covering this on Capitol Hill this morning.

Let's begin with Manu on what you are hearing, Manu.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, I have talked to a lot of lawmakers this morning about exactly the situation involving George Santos, and it's very clear Republicans are deeply divided about whether or not to expel George Santos from the House of Representatives.

Some of them say that they're flatly torn about whether or not to vote for his expulsion. That's what Congressman Darrell Issa told me just this morning. Also, others said that it's time for him to go. Two New York congressmen, Brandon Williams and Marc Molinaro, called him a con man who needs to be out of this body. But some others, including Congressman Jim Jordan, who's the House

district committee chairman, indicated to me that he, in fact, is going to oppose this expulsion resolution, because he said it is up to the voters of his district.

Some of them are just, frankly, are concerned here about the precedent that would be set. This would be the first time ever in American history that a congressman would be expelled from the House without being convicted and without being a member of the Confederacy. There are five Republican -- only five other times in history had the expulsion happen.

But if you listen to Congressman Jim Jordan in particular, he is influential with a lot of members in his conference, including with the Republican leadership. He told me earlier today that it's up to the voters in his district, not Republican members, to kick him out of the House.


REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I think we're all concerned about those things, but that's a call for the voters. I'm not going to support that.


RAJU: But the math here is going to be the issue. It requires two- thirds majority support in the full House to eject him from this chamber.

Right now, we expect they would need about 53 Republicans who voted against expelling George Santos the last time to flip the voting to yes. At the moment, we're counting about 18 who have said that they would go there, a lot of them still undecided. So this could be a razor-thin vote tomorrow, as Republican leadership has concerns.

Congressman Jim Jordan has concerns. Others, though, say it's time for him to go.

BERMAN: Yes, the House speaker, Mike Johnson, seemed to slow the momentum, so now it really does seem less clear if this expulsion vote will get through.

Lauren Fox, to you now. If it is passed, if the vote to expel him is passed, how does the process work?


And as Manu pointed out, this is still very much an open question right now. But if he were to be expelled, it is simply a normal vote in the House of Representatives. Unlike, if he were censured, he doesn't have to stand in the well of the House and be reprimanded by his colleagues.

It is a simple up-or-down vote from his colleagues. They would need two-thirds in order to expel him. And then, if he were expelled, the House of Representatives clerk would take over his office actions. She would decide how and when he would be expected to get his things out of his office.

Essentially, it would be dealt with like a vacancy or a death in the House of Representatives. We also know that it would be up to the New York governor. She would have 10 days to set the date for a special election within 70 to 80 days.


So, that just gives you a sense of how quickly this all could move if Santos is expelled. But it would also create a bit of a problem for the speaker, Mike Johnson, because, suddenly, his very narrow majority would become even more narrow for a period of several months.

And we should just point out he has two important spending deadlines coming up in January and February. There's also a series of other issues that have to be dealt with before the end of the year. So, it would make the job of the speaker just more difficult in getting that Republican majority, which is already very narrow, to be united -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Lauren Fox, Manu Raju, thanks to both of you.

With us now, CNN senior political analyst John Avlon, and CNN political commentator Margaret Hoover, host of "Firing Line" on PBS.

As Manu put it, John, George Santos would be the first person who was not a member of the Confederacy or convicted of a crime or both to be expelled from the House. This could be a moment.


And that does speak to the very high standards that have been applied and why there was a lot of concern about precedent, particularly before we had the House Ethics Committee report, which was so damning, on top of the details of the indictment. And what you have got here is really competing priorities within the Republican Conference, both rooted in self-interest.

Mike Johnson concerned his margins are going to get narrower, New York and Northeast Republicans and people who just recognize the absurd shamelessness of the situation being like, he's actually a drag on our brand.


AVLON: But where are you going to start applying standards? If lying is a problem, if grifting is a problem, at some point, you're going to have to look at the Donald. A lot of folks don't want to do that.

SIDNER: Oh, that is a really interesting point.

I did want to bring up a couple of other things. You have got two people surrounding him that pled guilty. You have got Samuel Miele, who pled guilty to admitting to using some of these cards from donors and charging personal things. And then you have his former campaign treasurer, Nancy Marks, pleading guilty and saying that he was involved.

When that happens, obviously, he has not been convicted in a court of law, but isn't that enough? Doesn't that give Congress enough to say, enough?

HOOVER: You're saying, where there's smoke, there's fire?


SIDNER: I'm saying -- I'm saying...

BERMAN: Where there's fire, there's fire.

SIDNER: Where there's fire...

HOOVER: Or where there's fire, there's fire.

SIDNER: And he's already admitted to lying. I mean, that's...

AVLON: Sure.

HOOVER: Look, I think what you're getting at is actually a really important point, which is that Republicans -- and this is where I'm really proud of the Republicans in New York who have stood up and said, absolutely, it's time for him to go, not just because it looks bad on us, but it's because apples -- this is not apples to apples.

I mean, I recognize that there is this argument that the speaker is making that this would be a breach of precedent. But you know what? Sometimes, it's appropriate to have a breach of precedent, because, sometimes, people have done things that are so insidiously bad, not just in the context of breaking the law, but in the context of degrading the institution of which they are part and which they are leading.

SIDNER: Isn't that why there's an Ethics investigative committee? Like, isn't Ethics -- we're not talking about breaking the law here, even though he is charged with 23 crimes.

We are talking about ethics. That's their job.

HOOVER: That is their job. And their job is also to uphold the integrity of the institution that they are leading. And so it is time for Republicans to do the difficult thing that John Avlon points out.

They are at cross-purposes here. They want that majority bad. But you know what? They need dignity and respect as a party, to the extent that they can claw some of it back.


HOOVER: And you know what? Maybe you could just draw -- draw a line with George Santos and be on the right side. That's OK. You could do that. You can do that. BERMAN: I think maybe -- I don't know if it's a surprise people. It

surprised a few people that Mike Johnson seemed to slow the roll this week. This seemed headed to a certain expulsion tomorrow.

And House Speaker Mike Johnson came out and said he has real reservations about this all. What's the difference between a four-vote margin in the House, which he has now and what could be a three-vote margin in the House?

AVLON: Well, one vote.


BERMAN: That's it. Thank you.

HOOVER: The math.

SIDNER: The math is mathing.

BERMAN: That is the answer that question deserved, among other things.

AVLON: Look, I mean, he's got a thin needle to thread. And yet his conference has given him a lot of slack.

I mean, they're just making a deal, it looks like, for what they kicked McCarthy out for. I mean, so, look, I think the issue is, is that George Santos is just such a stain on anything resembling integrity in the House that at some point you take a stand.

And I do think it's important. He's playing the victim, right?


AVLON: Which is, of course, what people do.


AVLON: And there's a tendency to call him a fabulist. No, he's a liar.

HOOVER: That's right.

AVLON: And so let's not -- he's a uniquely American figure, self- created.

No, he defrauded the voters of his district on every detail of his life from day one. And you should be held to a higher standard in Congress, not a lower one. I know it's an unfashionable opinion.


AVLON: But it seems common sense to me.

HOOVER: Let's not put sparkles on the pony here.


SIDNER: Can you tell they're married, ladies and gentlemen?


SIDNER: You brought this up.

The Republican delegation in New York, which -- some of the first as a group to say he has got to go...



SIDNER: ... even when other Republicans were saying, I don't know, let's wait until the Ethics Committee comes up.

So they have come out in front. But is that because they know that if they leave him in there that the possibility of another Republican getting that seat back when it comes time may be really hurt by that, if people see that they -- they're...

HOOVER: Yes, I mean, if you're really in the details of the New York congressional district lines...


HOOVER: ... that that seat is never going to be held by a Republican and again, anyway, so you might as well keep your dignity and at least be on the right side of history.

I don't think there's a Republican that's going to get that seat back. I think it's going to get picked up by a Democrat.

SIDNER: You think it's going Democrat.


And I think that's just -- I mean, New York is redrawing its lines right now. Its lines are in court. They will be coming out within the next few weeks. But I think most people who are looking at New York congressional lines will tell you that Santos' seat is never going to be held by a Republican again.

AVLON: Well, the speaker is actually coming to New York to try to prop up some of these folks in marginal districts or districts that Biden won, because they're in trouble.

And I think, let's be honest, the reason they're pushing for Santos to get kicked out is it makes them look bad. I mean, this is -- condemning George Santos when it's in your self-evident self-interest is great, but it's also table stakes. It's not a profile in courage.

BERMAN: Glitter on the pony.

AVLON: On the pony. (CROSSTALK)

AVLON: That's what Margaret brings.

BERMAN: That's what Margaret brings.


SIDNER: You can back again tomorrow.


HOOVER: Thank you.

BERMAN: I like sparkly things.


BERMAN: All right, Margaret, John thank you very much.

SIDNER: Thank you both.

All right, coming up next: day seven of a truce in Gaza. It's a very fragile one, but now the Biden administration in talks with Israel over how to best protect thousands of Palestinian civilians who have been forced to flee their homes. We will have that in a bit.

Plus: Young Thug on trial, day two of the racketeering case against the Grammy-winning rapper and several other defendants. The latest on that case ahead.

Also, Elon Musk is using the F-word against those advertisers that are, you know, paying for X. We will talk about why that happened and what might be the fallout ahead.



SIDNER: Hamas has now begun freeing hostages for the seventh day in a row.

Two Israeli hostages have just arrived in Israeli territory with the Red Cross, according to the Israeli military, their names just released in the last hour. They are 40-year-old Amit Soussana and 21- year-old Mia Schem.

Several more hostages are expected to be freed later tonight, but an Israeli official says today's release will look a bit different. It will come in batches, because these hostages were being held actually in different locations. Of course, this comes as the U.S. is pushing for an extended pause in fighting beyond just the seventh day, which is expiring tonight.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is making the rounds in Israel and in the West Bank right now. He's also focused on aid and how Israel should be allowing aid and proceeding at letting aid in, but also what's going to happen when they start fighting again, which seems inevitable, according to the prime minister.

Multiple sources confirm me to CNN the U.S. is putting pressure on Israel to change their tactics, be more precise and to protect civilians in Gaza. One possible solution, as Israeli troops move south, is sending Palestinians back to the north. That's on the table. There is a huge problem with that.

This is what the north looks like. Take a look at that. There is nothing to go back to. Much of it, 50 percent of the structures are said to be damaged. It's not clear right now if Israel has agreed to any of this, but some U.S. officials say Israel seems to be at least receptive to considering the ideas -- John.

BERMAN: All right, with me now is Congressman Gregory Meeks, a Democrat from New York.

Congressman Meeks, thank you so much for being with us.

What happens to Hamas if this pause continues?

REP. GREGORY MEEKS (D-NY): Well, look, we know that Hamas is trying to relocate and reload and move different locations and change and move those things.

So, Hamas' infrastructure has to be destroyed. I think that's what you hear Prime Minister Netanyahu -- and when I went to Israel, talking to the defense minister and the IDF, is, how do you get in and destroy the infrastructure, those tunnels that's under various institutions, so that Hamas does not exist?

And I think that what happens there is, the ground forces that you have just talked about goes in and there is more targeted focusing. And I think that what Israel has done right before the humanitarian pause was to allow reporters to be embedded with them, so that you can report exactly what you see, and you can see what Hamas is doing and the tunnels and those kinds of things.

So I think that if and when the war resumes, it is to get at the infrastructure of Hamas, so that they are no longer in control in Gaza and have the opportunity to do what they say they're going to do, is to continue to attack again and again and to try to wipe out the state of Israel.

BERMAN: You are the ranking member on the House of Foreign Affairs Committee. Is it your opinion that Israel needs to resume the offensive operations, particularly in the south?


MEEKS: Well, I think that what has to happen is, first, we need to get all the hostages out.

I was at a panel with the subcommittee on the Middle East, and we were meeting with a number of the relatives of those still being held hostage. And what their cry is and what I felt, heartfelt, we must get all of the hostages out. And we know that there's at least 150 that are still there.

We need to get proof of life of that. But we also need to start talking about males who have not been released that's there. And there are some elderly males that were taken hostage that we don't know what their health conditions are.

So I think that, and I think that the president of the United States and the secretary of state is doing the right thing, hoping that we can have a continued pause as we continue to try to get more hostages out and back home to their families. That's really important.

And then what would end a lot of this real quickly is if Hamas would just surrender. We know that Hamas has utilized the Palestinians as shields, et cetera. But what could stop the violence completely is Hamas to surrender. They are the ones that started this and violated the cease-fire on October the 7th.

They should be -- if they really care about the Palestinian people, they should surrender. And that would end that. And then we can need to talk about and start figuring what happens post the war and/or their surrender. And that's where working with other neighbors continues to be really important.

And I think that the president of the United States is doing a tremendous job at engaging others in the region also, which is really important.

BERMAN: Just to be clear -- and, again, you are the ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, sir. Opinion on this matters.

When Israel's operation continues -- it seems more like when than if -- do you feel that Israel needs to change its tactics?

MEEKS: Yes, as I said, I think that they need to do more of an urban warfare, as opposed to the dropping of the bombs.

You see, when you drop the bombs from the sky, there's more collateral damage that takes place and unintended consequences that kills individuals. But now that if you're on the ground, you have focus, you can see and make sure that you're going after Hamas, and reduce the amount of collateral damage to other Palestinians.

I have seen some tapes where you went in and a bomb coming from the sky, it may hit the target underneath, but infrastructure around there then ends up falling and collapsing also, where you have depth. So there's another mechanism of which you can do this on the ground.

And I think the tanks rolling in and moving forward, that that is the way to move forward.

BERMAN: Yes, you in the next 24 hours may very well have a chance to vote on whether to expel your New York colleague Republican George Santos from Congress.

You are a yes-vote on expulsion?

MEEKS: I am.

BERMAN: And...

MEEKS: I have voted yes previously. And I will vote yes again.

BERMAN: What do you think of Republicans, including the House speaker, who've expressed reservations on expelling Santos?

MEEKS: Well, I think some of what they're is guided by is their extremism and dysfunction, of which I think Santos is a symbol of.

Look, they have not been able to get anything or to do anything at all since they have been in charge. They have not done anything to benefit the American people. They have been more mauled -- mobbed down in their own dysfunction.

Santos is a symbol of just that. And, to me, that would open up a seat and a possibility, a hard-fought race would ensue, that Democrats could win that seat back, reducing their number. But they are not able to function with a four- or five-seat majority. How would they function with a two- or three-seat?

I think that's what some of the Republicans are concerned about. So, they're concerned about the politics of it, and so just to continue the extreme dysfunctioning of the Republican Party, which invariably comes back to haunt the American people.

BERMAN: Congressman Gregory Meeks, ranking member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, great to have you on this morning. Thank you -- Sara.

MEEKS: Thank you.

SIDNER: Thank you, John.

Record label or dangerous gang? That's the questions jurors are facing, as one of the most high-profile trials in the country is finally under way in the state of Georgia. A former defense lawyer weighs in on the racketeering trial for rappers Young Thug and Yak Gotti.

Also, it was literally like experiencing a nightmare, one of the Palestinian students shot in Vermont recalling the moment of the attack. He even drew a diagram for police.

We will have all that coming up.



SIDNER: This information just into CNN.

A New York appellate court has reinstated a gag order prohibiting former President Donald Trump from making public statements about the court's staff in the ongoing trial, the civil fraud trial that is here in New York.

Judge Arthur Engoron originally issued the order after Donald Trump made numerous comments about his clerk, who Trump accused of being biased against him. Trump appealed the ruling, and the appeals court put it on pause temporarily, let him speak his mind.