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Interview With Naftali Bennett, Former Israeli Prime Minister; Coast Guard Leaders Concealed Report For Nearly A Decade That Documented Racism, Hazing, Assault; Tuberville May Be Backing Down On Most Military Holds; The Fed's Favorite Inflation Gauge Hits A Two- Year Low. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 30, 2023 - 13:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: How do you have them move north if 40 percent to 50 percent of the structures there have been damaged? Where do they go? Where do they stay?

NAFTALI BENNETT, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: It doesn't have to be necessarily to the north. In southern Gaza, there's enough areas that we can declare safe havens where we won't attack and can send people temporarily to those safe havens.

I'm not going to pretend that it's pleasant down there in Gaza. It's not. There's massive destruction in Gaza, as a direct result of Hamas' unprovoked attack October 7th.

KEILAR: Secretary of State Antony Blinken here in the U.S. said far too many Palestinians have been killed. Allies of Israel, strong allies, the strongest of allies, are questioning the legitimacy of how Israel is executing its war. Even as, of course, they are appalled by what happened on October 7th.

Should that impact Israel's actions? Should you take that into consideration?

BENNETT: There's no secret sauce or secret way to tweezer terrorists out of civilians, if they use the civilians as human shields.

In the reserve service, I served for decades as a commander of missile rocket hunter actions. I was very good at it.

And I can tell you after decades of doing it, it's impossible. There's no way to tweezer out and just hit the terrorists, if the terrorists are determined to kill their own Gaza citizens as a result of it.

So, we're going to have to do what we need to do. We're doing it as best as we can to minimize casualties. But there's no magic wand. And if anyone has a magic wand, let us know and we'll use it.

KEILAR: That may be true, I mean, that Hamas uses human shields and that's a war crime. But that doesn't absolve Israel of its duty under international law.

BENNETT: And we're abiding by international law.

KEILAR: So as you look, though, at public opinion of how Israel is executing this and you have strong allies, there is a debate about aid to Israel, attaching conditions.

So many concerns here of Americans, including American taxpayers who have a say in this, how this is being executed.

What do you say to them? Because they hear you saying that you are abiding, in your opinion, by international law. But they also hear other experts saying that you are not and they do not feel it is up to the standard they would require.

BENNETT: Well, I would say we're fighting your war. Because the West is next. And if we don't defeat Hamas, you're going to face Hamas-like organizations in the United States.

It happened before. When suicide terrorists started in the Middle East. It happened. I was there on September 11th, 2001.

We're at the forefront fighting radical Islam terrorism. It's going to hit London, Paris, Madrid. How do I know? Because that's exactly what happened the last time.

Therefore, it's in American taxpayers' interests to back us fighting the war. We're not asking to you send soldiers. And we're not asking to you fight our war.

But I do think it should be appreciated that we're fighting the global war on radical Islamic terror.

KEILAR: Naftali Bennett, we do appreciate your time today. Thank you so much for being with us.

BENNETT: Thank you.


And up next, a report that Coast Guard leaders didn't want you to see. CNN just obtained it. We'll have that, next.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Coast Guard leaders concealing a damning report that exposed racism, hazing, discrimination and sexual assault. CNN exclusive reporting found that the report was kept hidden for eight years.

CNN chief investigative reporter, Pamela Brown, joins us now.

Pam, you got a copy of the report. What did it show and how was it concealed?

PAMELA BROWN, CNN CHIEF INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Boris, for nearly a decade, U.S. Coast Guard leaders concealed yet another report critical of the Coast Guard. This one exposed racism, hazing, discrimination and sexual assault across the agency.

The so-called Culture of Respect report obtained by CNN was based on interviews of hundreds of Coast Guard employees and shows anything but a culture of respect.

Among the alarming conclusions, Coast Guard personnel accepted behavior accepted this behavior as status quo. And the Coast Guard does not have measures to prevent sexual assault.

Coast Guard personnel have been discriminated against and sexually harassed. C.G. indicates, "We will not tolerate discrimination." Yet, even when found guilty of these, there are no consequences.

One Coast Guard employee said the attitude is, "I got through it, so can you, and the culture was boys will be boys."

So even though this report was from 2015, CNN spoke to dozens of Coast Guard employees who say the culture hasn't changed. And in many ways, that's no surprise if it's kept concealed.

SANCHEZ: Well, this report is new, but it's yet another report that's been hidden --


SANCHEZ: -- by Coast Guard officials. And CNN has been doing extensive reporting on the Coast Guard, right?


BROWN: Yes. That's right. There's a pattern emerging, Boris. And our reporters, our team, Blake Ellis, Melanie Hicken (ph), who did our first story about a coverup in July when CNN found that a damning report about sexual assault at the Coast Guard Academy was purposely buried for years.

After our story, there was a congressional hearing. The Coast Guard Commandant Linda Fagan promised transparency. Yet, this report, which also focused on racism and bullying, was not released.

SANCHEZ: So it seems like the Coast Guard goes through the trouble of doing these investigations --

BROWN: Right.

SANCHEZ: -- figuring out what's wrong but then conceals the results of the report.

BROWN: Right. That's a key question in all of this, right?

We talked to so many people who are survivors of sexual assault in the Coast Guard, hazing, racial discrimination, sexism.

And they believe that if these reports were made public, perhaps, Boris, the culture would have changed and what happened to them might have been prevented, which is so sad to think about that.

SANCHEZ: Yes. So what's the official response from the Coast Guard on this new report?

BROWN: So, the Coast Guard is going to release this report to the public next week when tell releases the results of a 90-day review that was ordered after CNN's first story.

A spokesperson said the agency has already addressed nearly half of the recommendations to resolve issues that this latest Culture of Respect report outlines -- Boris?

SANCHEZ: Yes. Really important reporting and clearly making a difference.

Pam Brown, thanks so much.

BROWN: Thank you so much.

SANCHEZ: Still to come on NEWS CENTRAL, after blocking some 400 military promotions, Senator Tommy Tuberville may be backing down. We have details when we come back.



KEILAR: Just in, Republican Senator Tommy Tuberville is signaling that he'll back off of his hold on top military nominees as soon as next week. Instead, he says he'll refocus his blockade on a smaller number of what he calls "Woke" nominees.

CNN's Manu Raju is following this for us.

Manu, what does Tuberville say?

MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's indicating that he is expected to back down as soon as next week.

After this 10-month blockade that's led to now 450 military nomination officials from getting their promotions, all over Tuberville's demand that the Pentagon scrap its policy providing reimbursement for military servicemembers who travel out of state for reproductive services, including abortions.

He's not giving that demand. The Pentagon has not moved on that. But he's facing relentless pressure, including from his own party, to back off.

He's now indicating he will, as soon as next week, instead, focus on a smaller number of nominees he considers "Woke," even if he did not get what he wanted over the abortion policy.


SEN. TOMMY TUBERVILLE (R-AL): Now, we're working towards getting, which I've been very much for, getting the promotions over with. We need to get them promoted.

I don't know what they're going to do with the resolution. But we're going through all of the people that are up for promotion. We will promote people in the very near future. This is people that are running our military.

I think that we need to make sure that people that are our generals and admirals should be vetted to some degree. But also, understand that we need to get these people promoted. It's been a long time for some of them.


RAJU: The reality here is that Tuberville was poised to get roiled by a bipartisan supermajority in the Senate. There was discussion that was ongoing about changes in procedures to essentially allow these the nominees to be confirmed in essentially one fell swoop, rather than going one by one.

Which is what the Democratic leaders had not wanted to do because of the floor time it would consume. So they were planning to change procedures and they would need Republican support to do that. And it was expected, Brianna, that they would get the Republican support.

But Tuberville apparently seeing the writing on the wall here indicating that he would finally back down from this unprecedented stand as soon as next week, leading to the confirmation of all of these confirmations waiting for the promotions -- Brianna?

KEILAR: Manu, he said a number of questionable things. I mean, he's talking about they need to be vetted. They're constantly vetted, right? This is a job where they're vetted consistently and at every turn for promotion.

And he said these are the people running our military. It's actually civilians who are overseeing the running of the military. Is he just trying to save face here?

RAJU: In a lot of ways, this is really what he's trying to do. You're absolutely right. These nominations are vetted through a confirmation process here.

And ultimately, recognizing that he needed to say he got something out of it. It's unclear what that something actually is -- Brianna?

KEILAR: All right, we'll be watching. This is a huge move.

Manu, thank you so much for bringing that to us.


Coming up, what the latest inflation data shows about the health of the U.S. economy. We'll have that.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) SANCHEZ: A key gauge bringing good news on the economy. U.S. inflation cooling to its lowest level in more than two years. This takes more pressure off the Fed and could mean an end to its rate-hike spree.

Joining us now is CNN reporter, Matt Egan, to break down the latest details.

Matt, what's in the new report?

MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Boris, when you think about why voters give this economy such poor marks, so much of it comes down to cost of living, right -- food, gasoline, housing. But the reality is there is growing evidence that inflation is cooling off.

Today's report, the PCE Index. It's the Fed's favorite inflation indicator. It shows that prices were up 3 percent year over year in October. Normally, that's nothing to celebrate.

But as you can see on the chart, this is a big improvement. Last summer, we were looking at 7 percent inflation on this metric. This is the lowest level in two and a half years.

And when you zoon in, month over month, prices were actually unchanged between September and October. We've not seen a zero reading for this metric since the depths of Covid crisis.


And this reflects the fact that gasoline prices have tumbled. Prices at the supermarket and restaurants have also eased.

So when you put all this together, it doesn't mean that inflation is defeated. It doesn't necessarily mean that voters will love this economy. But it does show some real progress and we shouldn't dismiss this.

Over on Wall Street, investors are very pleased with the latest numbers because this does add to some confidence that the Fed is going to be able to keep its war on inflation on hold.

In fact, investors are betting the next move from the Fed is not going to be a rate hike. It's actually going to be a rate cut sometime next year.

Boris, that would be great news for consumers, too, because it would mean cheaper borrowing costs.

SANCHEZ: Yes, that would be a huge deal. The rare occasion when cooling is actually a really good sign.

Matt Egan, thanks so much for that report.

Still to come, in just minutes, Secretary of State Antony Blinken will speak after meeting with key leaders in Israel and Gaza. We'll bring that to you live, with the extended truce between Israel and Hamas set to expire in just a few hours. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)