Return to Transcripts main page
CNN News Central
Israel Knew of Hamas' Plan; House Set to Vote on Santos; Sandra Day O'Connor Has Died. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired December 01, 2023 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Against Santos first or are moved to do so now. This is where they are. They want to get rid of George Santos, one, because he's a blight on the House, two, Republic -- the Republican Party has had a blight on itself that they would like to expel in some form, whether it's this one member or a larger issue that the Republicans have. But also keep in mind, there's been a lot of conversation of, why has this taken so long. I'd argue, having worked on House ethics issue in the House and outside of the House, this is actually moving fast for how the ethics process works in the House. And the speaker typically doesn't vote on your run of the mill bills, appropriation bills and so forth.
KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Right.
HEYE: They're not whipping this. But he's going to vote and he's going to vote no. That's sending a signal to his membership and it's one about a slim majority.
BOLDUAN: OK. Stick with us.
Let's go back to Manu on The Hill. He's got some more reporting coming out.
Manu, what are you hearing?
MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Speaker Mike Johnson, in fact, will vote against this expulsion resolution. This is according to a source who told our colleague Haley Talbot. And this is significant because the speaker typically, as Doug was saying there, doesn't typically vote on legislation unless he views it as significant. And clearly views this as a significant moment.
He foreshadowed earlier this week that that he had, quote, "real reservations" about the precedent that this would set when I asked him about this at a press conference but he had not formally takes an a position here.
This is a -- it is expected that the Republican leadership is going to vote against this. The number two Republican, Steve Scalise, has already announced that he is a no. we'll see the rest of the leadership team, where they ultimately come down. The leadership says they are not whipping it. They're not urging their members to vote one way or the other. But I can tell you, in talking to a lot of the members coming out, many of them are skeptical about voting to expel George Santos. One of them, Darrell Issa, I just caught up with, I asked him about this, he told me yesterday he was torn about it. He knew that George Santos' conduct was wrong and inappropriate, in his view. But he just told me he's leaning against expulsion. He believes there's more than a 50/50 that George Santos survives this vote. And even the proponents who are pushing for his expulsion are not saying they are confident yet that the votes will be there in large part because of the reservations from the Republican leadership and now the opposition from the speaker of the House, Mike Johnson.
So, ultimately we'll see what happens here because there are just so many members I am talking to who are not saying where they will ultimately come down. Seventy-seven Republicans, that is the magic number if all members are voting to get to this historic vote to oust George Santos from his seat, but can they get there? At the moment perhaps there's questions about whether they can given the opposition from the leadership, including the new speaker, Mike Johnson. If he loses George Santos, of course, that would lose a key seat that he needs in his narrow majority.
SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: OK, this is significant. This is hugely significant.
Manu, thank you so much for that.
You're seeing there, Speaker Johnson will not vote to expel Santos.
They may not be whipping the votes, Doug, but that right there tells the members what he would like them to do. And this is the speaker of the House. What is going on here?
HEYE: Well, typically the speaker doesn't vote.
HEYE: So, by voting he's breaking some sort of precedent here -
HEYE: Even if the argument is one of precedent. It's not whipping, but it's sending a message. And here's what's going to -
SIDNER: What kind of leadership -
BOLDUAN: How do you break precedent to hold precedent?
HEYE: And here's what's going to happen -
SIDNER: But, I mean, what does it say about leadership because he's not whipping the votes but he is - he is telling his speaker - is - is - is --
HEYE: It's not a - they've said in conference, this is a vote of conscience. You're going to vote your conscience.
HEYE: And this is my conscience is what the speaker and the majority leader are saying.
And here's what's going to happen on the House floor. When a roll call vote comes up, Kate, you've been there a million times, they're -- all the names of the members of Congress are on the paneling behind the press gallery. There's a red light if you vote no, a green light if you vote yes, some people vote present, it's a white light or something. That rarely happens.
But what we're going to see is a lot of members of Congress looking to see who's green and who's red and waiting to decide what side of the fence they're going to be on.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Just very quickly, Emily, this is now a story perhaps about House leadership and the House speaker saving George Santos. We came into this thinking, this might be a story about a congressman getting booted. This might be a story about leadership saving a guy who's under indictment.
NGO: Yes, and as this uncertainty plays out what I call to mind is as much as George Santos has been outed as a liar, as much as he's allegedly defrauded the American public, he seems to know politics. He has refused to resign. And he even said, put up or shut up.
BOLDUAN: The politics of today, right? Yes.
NGO: This political climate, this crazy political climate we all now live in.
BOLDUAN: Yes. Guys, stick with us. Let's see what's about to happen.
BOLDUAN: We're going to have a former - we're going to be joined by a former member of the - a former Republican member of the House to get their take on what is unfolding before us.
And we're going to be tracking this very closely because this vote could happen within the next couple hours, during the show. We're going to bring it all to you.
BOLDUAN: The truce between Israel and Hamas has expired. Fighting has resumed. There is also, though, now new reporting this morning about the types of evidence that Israel reportedly had in hand of Hamas' plan for more than a year before the October 7th attack. According to "The New York Times" and "Haaretz," Israeli military leaders and intelligence obtained Hamas' blueprint more than a year before the massacre. And the paper citing - the paper is citing emails, documents and interviews that it has reviewed showing the detail. But that officials considered when looking at the detail -- they considered that it - that - it would be impossible to -- for Hamas to pull off this level of an attack. But as we know what -- now well know, they could and did.
CNN's Scott McLean joining us now. He's got more detail on this new reporting.
Scott, what more are you hearing? What more detail is coming out in this new report?
SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Kate.
Yes, so the primary document that this "New York Times" reporting is based on is one that it says the Israelis had code named "Jericho Wall."
And it is essentially a 40-page blueprint of this attack that Hamas wanted to carry out. And it goes into some pretty striking detail.
This is not the first time, though, that Israel knew about this plan. "The New York Times" reports that there were previous versions of a similar plan that go back as far as 2016. This latest one, though, was a point-by-point plan of what Hamas planned. And this is what the newspaper reports. It says, quote, "Hamas followed the blueprint with shocking precision. The document called for a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, drones to knock out the security cameras and automated machine guns along the border, and gunmen to pour into Israel en masse in paragliders, on motorcycles and on foot, all of which happened on October 7th."
The plan also called for Hamas fighters to overrun and attack the Rheem (ph) military base, the one that houses the IDF's Gaza division responsible for the security of the border wall there. And that happened on October 7th.
The fundamental idea was to start with rockets, get everyone running into their shelters thinking this is just a regular rocket attack, and then use that time to get Hamas fighters across the wall, across the border.
And what's remarkable, and also concerning, is how much detail Hamas seemed to have about locations of Israeli military sites, communication sites, raising the possibility that some of this was leaked from inside of Israel.
So, why was this not taken more seriously? Well, in short, "The New York Times" says that they simply did not believe that Israel did not believe that Hamas was actually capable of this. Here is one of the journalists from "The Times" who broke the story.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RONEN BERGMAN, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Israel didn't believe that Hamas has the ability to send teams throughout the border.
This is a detailed, meticulous plan. And one cannot be not impressed by the extent of knowledge of the Hamas about Israel, all the preparations, all the surveillance devices on the border, they are all - and the automatic submachine guns, they are all strictly mapped.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MCLEAN: So, this plan, Kate, was widely circulated, according to "The Times," in military and intelligence circles. What is not clear, though, is whether it ever made it to the desk of the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu.
BOLDUAN: Scott, thank you so much for that reporting.
SIDNER: All right, the vote to decide George Santos' future in Congress expected in the next hour, but we just heard big news, the speaker of the House, Speaker Johnson, says he will vote not to expel. It's unusual for him to vote in the first place and it could shift the balance. Manu Raju is talking to members on The Hill. We are live with more details on that coming up next.
SIDNER: We are following our breaking news. We have plenty more to tell you because of our Manu Raju getting more information now.
What is next for Santos today if he is expelled? But it doesn't, at this point, Manu, look like that's going to happen, correct, after you spoke with the speaker of the House who says he is not going to vote to expel Santos.
MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR AND CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, I would say that it's still a bit uncertain. Just because of the fact that there is not a formal whip count, there is not what the leadership typically does on big votes is that they force their members, they urge their members, they twist arms, try to get them to vote one way or the other. They're not doing this. They're saying it is time -- you can vote your conscience, which means they don't have a list of how members will come down, which is why we expect this vote to be very close. We don't know how it's going to go down. But the momentum is certainly with George Santos at this moment, in large part because the speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, just told members behind closed doors that he will vote against expelling George Santos. And he had previously said when I asked him this week, he had real reservations about the precedent that this would set. Now, I talked to one of the proponents of the George Santos ouster,
Mark Molinaro, about this and about the impact that this could have on the vote. He indicated that Johnson told members that they could vote their conscience.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MARCUS MOLINARO (R-NY): Listen, I -- again, we all have to go home to our districts and explain. The voters who sent me here want me to be an independent voice on their behalf. And I believe that his criminal behavior, his fraudulent activity has met the threshold for me to establish and uphold a conduct that requires expulsion.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAJU: He said that -- according to Molinaro, he said that members should be able to vote the way their districts ultimately want.
And I just talked to a number of members who are walking out of this room, some of them who had previously suggested they might be open to expelling George Santos, are now saying that they are going to oppose expelling George Santos. One of them is a rank-and-file member, Mike Bost of Illinois, just told me that he's going to oppose it. Earlier this week he suggested he may be open to supporting the expulsion. And that is so significant because they need -- the numbers will tell the story. They need 77 votes in order to get the two-thirds majority to expel Santos from the House, Republican votes, if all members are voting and present. That's a big question right now. Right now we have about -- I think probably about around 45, maybe close to 50 or so.
Where do those other 20 to 30 members come down? Just so many members still say they don't know.
One of them, Jodey Arrington, who's the chairman of the House Budget Committee, I asked him, how are you going to vote? He says he doesn't know. The vote is in about an hour's time and he says he does not know. So those members, either they don't want to say how they're going to vote or they simply are grappling at what would be an unprecedented vote, taking out a member who has not been convicted yet, and also potentially narrowing that very tight Republican majority.
But no question about it, at this moment the -- George Santos could potentially survive this in large - in no small part because the speaker of the House's opposition to this measure.
BERMAN: So, Manu, on that point, is this fair to read this as a sort of last minute rescue effort from House Speaker Mike Johnson? I know they're not formally whipping but --
RAJU: Can I - yes.
Go ahead. Go ahead, John, I know you're asking a question.
I want to ask Mr. Burchett, you're a - you're opposed to expelling George Santos, is that right? And do you think that he's going to survive this vote?
REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): That's a great question. I -- yesterday I would have said, no, he isn't. But today the momentum seems to be changing a little bit. I hear more open talk about it. And I think people are on the fence. They waited for folks like myself and others to see where we were going to land. And - and, you know, there's security in numbers, and I get that.
RAJU: So what - just to be clear, you are going to oppose his expulsion, right?
BURCHETT: That's correct. That's correct.
RAJU: And so you expect right now that he's going to survive this vote?
BURCHETT: No, I don't expect - I don't know which way it's going. I know yesterday he wouldn't have, but today it seems to be moving in the other direction of keeping him.
RAJU: Of keeping him. And (INAUDIBLE) -- and how much do you think the speaker's opposition has to do with that?
BURCHETT: I don't know. All of a sudden, you know, I saw some tweets, somebody sent it to me, but it's not been any secret. He's talked - the speaker has clearly -- been very clear in what he said. He's, you know, innocent until proven guilty. This is setting a bad precedent. He's a legal-minded person and - and that's what the Democrats were saying up until they circled the wagons.
RAJU: Don't you have any concerns about his conduct. I mean all the allegations, the criminal charges, he's admitting to lying about so much of his life. I mean why should he be walking around here going to classified briefings and the like?
BURCHETT: To say that anybody in Congress can cast stone, I mean we're - we're a bunch of sinners. And that's basically what we all are.
RAJU: OK. Fair enough. Thank you, Congressman.
So, that's interesting because the congressman there, who's going to vote against expelling George Santos, thinks the momentum is on that side against the opposition. And that's really the sense that I am getting too at this key moment, but no one really knows the outcome, as I've been saying, and reporting here, just because of the fact that there's no list of how members will come down and many are still undecided here. But - but you heard from Congressman Burchett, he said, we're a bunch of sinners here.
RAJU: So, didn't seem to concerned of all those allegations that have piled up against the New York Republican.
BERMAN: Got it. So, Manu, again, the story seems to have shifted from the momentum being to boot him, to the momentum maybe being to save him. But that momentum didn't shift by itself. And may question is now, again, is this a story about Speaker Mike Johnson rescuing, to an extent, George Santos.
RAJU: Yes. And no question about it. Look, if the speaker came out and said George Santos needs to go, that he should not be a member of this body, the -- George Santos' days in Congress would be numbered. It would be very hard to actually come down to save him for a lot of those Republicans. That's typically the way these rank and file members, they vote. They listen to their membership. Many of them do. Not all of them do. Certainly, we've seen the Republicans, and particularly in the House, battling their leadership time and time again and not take marching orders. But, on big votes like this, they do tend to listen to their leadership.
And, so those - a lot of those on the fence wavering members will say, look, the speaker of the House opposes this. Maybe he's right. I will oppose this as well.
So, yes, no question, John, the decision by the speaker, one of his first big decisions in - since taking power, to say that he's going to oppose George Santos' expulsion could ensure that he still maintains a majority where he can still lose four Republican votes on any party line measure. Remember, if Santos is gone, that makes it just three Republican votes he could lose on any party line measure, making it that much harder to get his agenda through, much less keeping that seat, that swing district, in a special election. All questions that these Republicans are weighing at this key moment, guys.
BOLDUAN: And, Manu, the reason, you know, when it comes down to this, it's not just voting your conscience. Yes, that is for some. But it is this political calculation that you're pointing at, that this really gets down to. So, it comes down to a question of, what do they get in the end? What happens after this vote? It's either Republicans are stuck with George Santos in their party and in the House and they have to answer for that, or they kick him out and they've got an even worse numbers problem. And it seems like the numbers problem is winning out.
RAJU: Mr. Lawler - Mr. Lawler - Mr. Lawler, are you concerned about the speaker's opposition to this measure?
REP. MICHAEL LAWLER (R-NY): You're talking about Santos?
RAJU: Yes, yes, he's opposed to expelling George Santos.
LAWLER: Look, George Santos clearly broke the law. He clearly violated the ethics of the House. He defrauded the voters. He defrauded donors. The facts and the evidence are there. He has been afforded all due process with respect to serving in this body. The Constitution clearly allows the House to govern itself, to create the rules by which the House is governed and to handle, you know, members' conduct. And in this instance it is abundantly clear that George Santos is unfit to serve in public office, period, from dog catcher to Congress.
And so, you know, from my perspective, I think the chair of the Ethics Committee laid out a very compelling case yesterday on the House floor, and any member who watched it, listened to it, read the documents has more than enough information to act.
RAJU: But are you disappointed the speaker came out against it?
LAWLER: No, look, every - every member is going to have their perspective. The speaker is a constitutional attorney. That's his perspective on it.
RAJU: But it carries weight, does it is not?
LAWLER: That's his perspective. But I - I think ultimately, my hope is, there is enough votes to - to move forward.
Leaving this man in office for an extra year is just absurd. It's unfair to the voters of the 3rd congressional district of New York. It is clear he is incapable of doing the job. I mean just listen to his remarks yesterday. He's totally unfit.
RAJU: What message would this send to voters if you - Republicans save him here?
LAWLER: Look, last time you had 31 Democrats vote against expelling George Santos. Fifteen Democrats vote present and 11 Democrats not vote at all. So, the one thing I'll say on all of this, frankly, Hakeem Jeffries has been one of the most dishonest actors in this entire episode, attacking people like me who have called for George Santos to resign from the very beginning, who put an expulsion resolution on the floor, voted for it. There's a lot of people on both sides that had questions and concerns about due process. So, well, let's see -
RAJU: But today we expect Democrats to vote to expel.
LAWLER: Let's see what they will - let's see -
RAJU: And Republicans may save him.
LAWLER: Let's see what Democrats do today. Let's see what everybody does today. But, you know, I didn't see many of you criticizing the 31 Democrats --
BOLDUAN: All right, we're going to break in right now because we need to go to Washington, D.C., -- back to Washington, D.C., though, with some very different news.
We've just learned that Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman to sit on the Supreme Court, she has passed away.
Let's get over -- Joan Biskupic has more on this. Joan, she was such a trailblazer. Tell us more.
JOAN BISKUPIC, SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: She was. She was. She was the very first woman to ever sit on the nation's highest court. In 1981, Ronald Reagan made her his first choice for the high court. He had actually promised it when he was running for election in late 1980.
And Sandra Day O'Connor, what a trailblazer. Not only became the first woman on the court, she became the key vote on the U.S. Supreme Court in case after case from the late '80s, into the '90s, until - almost until the day she retired in late January 2006, succeeded by Samuel Alito. Her legacy was so deep during those year, Kate, and her importance as a figure in America, someone who was very inspiring to all three of the women - all four of the women justices who now sit on the Supreme Court, you know, it's hard to imagine what it was like back in the '80s.
The country had gone since, you know, the late 17 -- from 1790 to 1981 with only men on the court. And she came. She was a woman who had grown up on a ranch in Arizona, who had, I like to say that she came to the Supreme Court knowing how the count votes. I had written a biography on her and relied heavily on her legislative record out of the Arizona senate, where she had been the first woman state senate majority leader.
And she really knew how to work a room. She made a difference for our country in terms of abortion rights. She was one of the critical votes to uphold abortion rights all the way through to the 1990s. She was critical on racial remedies.
She wrote a very important decisions - she wrote very important decisions on women's rights, but also from her state experience, she really favored states -- state authority in the face of what was seen