Return to Transcripts main page
CNN News Central
House Votes To Expel George Santos 311-114; GOP Rep. Accuses Santos Of Stealing Money From Him & His Mother; Concerns Rise Over Antibiotic-Resistant Infections; Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor Has Died. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired December 01, 2023 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: "It is over" -- words from the now-ousted congressman, George Santos, as he had left Capitol Hill, departing even before the gavel fell on the final vote.
BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: And in a historic moment, the House overwhelmingly voting to expel Santos from his seat. A majority vote, 311-114. They needed two-thirds. This wasn't a simple majority. This came after a litany of alleged wrongdoings.
Let's talk with Melanie Zanona who is on Capitol Hill.
Melanie, get us up to speed here.
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, this was an absolutely historic and stunning moment here on Capitol Hill. Ahead of the vote, no one really knew what the outcome was going to be.
In fact, there was some positive signs this morning for Santos after all top Republican leaders said they were going to vote against expelling him.
But we're learning about a new development that occurred this morning that helped impact some votes and flipped them to support expelling George Santos.
Max Miller, an Ohio Republican, informed his colleagues in a letter this morning that Santos stole from him and his family.
So Max Miller decided to donate to Santos when he was a congressional candidate. Miller is Jewish and said he thought at the time he was supporting another Jewish candidate. Because as you remember, Santos lied about being Jewish.
But earlier this year, Miller learned that Santos had charged his credit card and his mother's credit card above the legal limit, thousands of dollars more than what they authorized and without their knowledge.
And Miller had to spend thousands of dollars in legal fees clearing it up.
Our Manu Raju caught up with Miller after the vote. Here's what he had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MAX MILLER (R-OH): This was just another example of a Republican who can't lead. And that's really shameful. The speaker and everyone in leadership knows that this man is a crook.
Mr. Santos took not only my credit card personally, he took my mother's credit card personally, and he swiped them both for an additional $5,000 marking it as an over-donation. I have it by the FEC. And I have the document in my office.
And what I can tell you, within that document -- I won't disclose any other names -- but he defrauded over 350 people for hundreds of thousands of dollars on undisclosed amounts.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ZANONA: So just one example of the deceitful and fraudulent behavior that Santos is alleged to have engaged in.
And it's just why you saw 105 Republicans ultimately vote with Democrats to expel him, bringing the Santos saga to an end, at least here on Capitol Hill -- guys?
SANCHEZ: Really a stunning development there from Congressman Miller.
Melanie Zanona, thank you so much for that.
Let's get some analysis now with Gloria Borger.
Gloria, Santos argued, and his defenders argued, that this sets a dangerous precedent. Does it though?
GLORIA BORDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, the beauty is in the eye of beholder. Right? I mean, look, I think that there was enough evidence against Santos to vote to expel him.
As Max Miller was just saying, people on Capitol Hill knew that the guy was a crook. He had defrauded his constituents. And was going to have to pay for it in court because he's got some indictments he has to deal with.
So I think this was a particular case where Santos did not make many friends on the way out. He's saying the hell with this place. And he's saying I've got the receipts on people. He's very vindictive.
So I think, in addition to the list of things that the committee, the Ethics Committee came up with, there was also a sense that this guy doesn't belong in Congress. Aside from that, that he wasn't exactly popular, let me put it that way. KEILAR: So, I mean, he's promising a lot --
KEILAR: -- on the way out the door. I think even Republicans who didn't support his ouster are hoping that maybe this means they are going to hear a little less about and from George Santos. But it's a little unclear if that's the case.
Do you think he is really going to scorched earth on people? Or is this just --
BORGER: Dancing with the Stars?
KEILAR: I mean, god help us.
KEILAR: Is this just another -- George Santos overpromising stuff he never delivers?
BORGER: Well, I don't pretend to know him, so it's hard to say whether he's saying this to be ungracious as he's been going out the door. But you never know what someone like Santos is going to do.
Now he says he's got names, receipts, et cetera about the terrible way members of Congress behave. The American public already believes that members of Congress don't behave well, but the popularity is like 13 percent.
But I think they want to get rid of him. And we'll see how much press he gets, how much attention he gets.
There's going to be a race for his seat. That's going to be held in the not-too-distant future.
And the big question, is it going to be a Democrat this time because Biden won the district by nine points so he could also cost the Republicans that . Let's see what he does.
SANCHEZ: It strikes me that so many the Republicans voted to oust him, yet many of them support a different lawmaker, you could say, that's facing 90-plus charges, including civil lawsuits as well as sexual assault, over fraud, and they are supporting that candidate for the White House.
BORGER: You're talking about Donald Trump?
BORGER: Yes, they are. They are. He doesn't serve in Congress, but they are supporting him.
In the Senate, you have the same issue with Senator Menendez, who has been indicted. The Senate hasn't voted to throw him out.
I think what made the difference here was that this was an arduous task taken on by the internal House Ethics Committee. It's bipartisan.
When they came up with the bill of particulars, in a lengthy report, that was something a lot of members paid attention to.
They understand they didn't want to set the precedent of expelling someone before he's been convicted and all the rest of it.
When their own internal watchdog came out with this incredible report, a lot of members said that's what I was waiting for. I don't think we can have him in this body anymore.
SANCHEZ: And apparently, evidence that he was defrauding members of that body as well.
BORGER: I think Max Miller made that case in a letter to colleagues. I think that made a difference.
KEILAR: Curious who hundreds of others are, that he referenced. He said he wouldn't reveal other names.
SANCHEZ: At least 350 names.
BORGER: I don't think we have heard the end of this.
SANCHEZ: Gloria Borger, thanks so much.
SANCHEZ: We look forward to having you back when we hear more.
SANCHEZ: The next chapter in the soap opera.
Still to come on CNN NEWS CENTRAL, fighting super bugs. The new approach researchers are taking to combat germs that have evolved to resist antibiotics.
KEILAR: An alarming number of bacteria are not responding to antibiotics and it's led to a spike in deadly infections and it's forced scientists to find other ways to fight them.
CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, spoke with researchers who are looking to nature in the fight against super bugs.
STEFFANIE STRATHDEE, EPIDEMIOLOGIST: Oh, there's some really good stuff here, though.
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Today, epidemiologist, Stephanie Strathdee, is taking me on a hunt for what are known as phages.
They are naturally occurring viruses but have a special quality. They eat bacteria. In many ways, they are perfect predators.
STRATHDEE: I drop it in and then try to collect some water from a deep spot. OK, there's a little bit.
GUPTA: And although they can be found almost anywhere, when it comes to phages, the dirtier the location the better.
(on camera): Any idea, like, how many phages would potentially be in there?
STRATHDEE: Well, one drop of water can have up to a trillion phages in it.
GUPTA (voice-over): Just one of which could be used to treat a bacteria for which we currently have no antibiotics.
STRATHDEE: You can tell it's kind of frothy.
GUPTA (on camera): I think anybody who's watching this is going to have a different perspective on looking at what they would typically ignore -- waste that they think has no value.
GUPTA: And instead, the idea that it could be medicine.
STRATHDEE: Very good.
GUPTA (voice-over): Now, you've probably never heard of phages and neither did Stephanie. But eight years ago, they became a deeply personal mission for her.
(on camera): What happened? How did you take a major interest in this?
STRATHDEE: Well, it certainly is something I kind of fell into.
GUPTA (voice-over): While on vacation together in Egypt, her husband, Tom, became very sick. STRATHDEE: The clinic diagnosed pancreatitis. It was caused by a gallstone that blocked his bile duct and caused a giant abscess to form.
But that wasn't the worst of it because that abscess made a nice little apartment for this superbug to move into.
GUPTA: Superbugs are strains of bacteria, viruses, fungi that have developed antimicrobial resistance. That means medications designed to treat them no longer work.
This is what Tom's superbug looked like, Acinetobacter baumannii. It's considered one of the impossible ones.
STRATHDEE: I put the keywords like the name of his superbug and alternative treatments, and up popped a paper that had, buried in it, phage therapy.
GUPTA: It was a start, but with trillions upon trillions of phages in the world, finding the right phage for a specific infection is the real challenge. Think of it as an endless number of keys for just one lock.
And to make things even more complicated, despite being around for more than 100 years, phage therapy has never been widely used in the West.
STRATHDEE: When they were really embraced by the former Soviet Union, that was seen as something that was Soviet science, Soviet medicine, and what the enemy was using.
GUPTA: Stephanie and Tom, however, did not care about that. He was dying and she, along with her colleagues at the University of California San Diego, were now on a mission to save his life.
GUPTA (on camera): So what are we looking at here?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where you see that the bacteria are being killed, like here and here, you know that you've got a phage from that wastewater that's killing that bacteria.
GUPTA: So when you see a plaque like that develop that's a very good sign then?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's a very good sign. It gets us excited.
GUPTA (voice-over): Now, there were few labs in the United States that were actually studying phages but scientists at the Navy and Texas A&M University stepped in to help Stephanie scour the world, and it worked.
Here's where they found the phages for Tom -- sewage treatment plants, barnyards, all containing naturally occurring phages that could do what no modern medicine could. STRATHDEE: As soon as they were ready, Dr. Schooley said, look, we've got to go because he's really close.
GUPTA (on camera): He's really close to dying, so --
STRATHDEE: Yes, yes.
After we injected phages into his bloodstream, even though he was in multistage organ failure, he woke up from his coma, lifted his head off the pillow, and kissed his daughter's hand a couple of days later.
GUPTA: That gives me goosebumps.
THOMAS PATTERSON, CURED WITH PHAGE THERAPY: Stephanie saved my life, without a doubt.
As hard as it is to believe, spending nine months in the hospital, it was worth it.
STRATHDEE: It's your legacy.
PATTERSON: No, it's your legacy.
STRATHDEE: Our legacy.
GUPTA: There you go.
(voice-over): A legacy born of this Mother Earth, providing medicines for so much of what ails us if we just take the time to stop, listen and look.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, CNN, San Diego.
KEILAR: What a report from our Dr. Sanjay Gupta.
Sandra Day O'Connor has died at the age of 93. How the nation is remembering this trailblazer who made history as the first woman to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.
SANCHEZ: She ushered in a new era for the United States Supreme Court, inspiring generations of women to join the legal profession. Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor passed away today at the age of 93.
CNN Supreme Court analyst, Joan Biskupic, joins us now with more.
Joan, it's hard to overstate the influence that Sandra Day O'Connor had.
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: It really is. In the law, for years, we all lived under her rulings, her influence. Especially in abortion rights, it was really felt.
But she had a very distinctive personality. I think that's reflected some of the statements that are coming that I'll read to you.
Here's what former President Barack Obama said today.
"When a young Sandra Day graduated from Stanford Law School near the top of her class, she was offered just one job in the private sector. Her perspective employer asked her how well she typed and told him there might be work for her as a legal secretary."
"Fortunately for us," Obama goes on, "she set her sights a little higher becoming the first woman to serve on the Supreme Court."
She defined can-do, as well as how to pragmatically influence the law that we all lived under until recently.
And now let me tell you what former President George W. Bush said. Now his father happened to be vice president when Ronald Reagan selected Sandra Day O'Connor in 1981.
This is what he said.
"She was determined and honest, modest and contract, dependable and self-reliant. She was also fun and funny with a wonderful sense of humor."
You know, she grew up on a ranch. She was very down to earth. She had a direct way of dealing with someone. She used to tell her clerks, one of her mantras was, "Don't get cute."
BISKUPIC: You know, so I can't overstate her influence on the law. And her influence with the other justices and lawyers across the country, which is why people are responding this way.
SANCHEZ: And notably, Joan, back in 2009, she was at a legal conference. This is well before the reversal of Roe v. Wade. She complained that some of her decisions were being dismantled.
BISKUPIC: Yes. In fact, I was the one who asked her the question about how she thought. And this was before what I'm going to tell about that was so significant. She said, "Well, how would you feel, Joan?" Well --
BISKUPIC: And that's how she spoke.
But since then, Boris, the Supreme Court has reversed what she wrote upholding abortion rights with its 2022 decision on Dobbs.
It just this year reversed her milestone opinion on racial affirmative action on campuses. And it has rolled back her decisions on the separation of church and state.
Our country's law is much different now than when Sandra Day O'Connor retired and had such an imprint on the law.
SANCHEZ: Yes, her influence, nevertheless, still felt across the country.
BISKUPIC: Very much.
SANCHEZ: Sanra Day O'Conner passing away at 93 years old.
SANCHEZ: Joan Biskupic, thank you so much.
BISKUPIC: Thank you.
SANCHEZ: Stay tuned to CNN. We'll be back in just moments.