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Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT) On Senate Moving Closer To Passing Foreign Aid Package; Pentagon: Austin Taken To Hospital For "Bladder Issue"; IDF: Two Hostages Rescued In Gaza Operation. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired February 12, 2024 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): However, the child who came to the church with the woman was also shot.
CHIEF TROY FINNER, HOUSTON POLICE DEPARTMENT: Unfortunately, a 5- year-old kid was hit and is in critical condition at our local hospital.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): The chief says it is unclear who fired the shot that struck the child, and the child's relationship to the suspect is still unknown according to police.
The officers involved in the shooting told investigators the woman claimed to have a bomb, but an immediate search found nothing.
FINNER: We searched her vehicle -- our bomb squad -- and also the backpack and no explosives were found. But she was also spraying some type of substance on the ground.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Witnesses described a chaotic scene.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: My mom was screaming and then my mom said, "Come, come!" And we ducked because the -- while I called my mom, the bullets were still repetitive and they were still going. And the attacks were in the sanctuary.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): One bystander was injured.
FINNER: It was a 57-year-old man -- who didn't have anything to do with it, I don't think -- was shot in the leg. He's seeking treatment in the hospital -- Pastor.
LAVANDERA (voice-over): Pastor Osteen says he's thankful the shooting did not happen earlier in the day.
JOEL OSTEEN, PASTOR, LAKEWOOD CHURCH: I can only imagine if it would have happened during the 11:00 service. If there's anything good of it -- you know what? She didn't get in there and do a whole lot worse damage. LAVANDERA (voice-over): And he's left hoping the decades-old church will continue holding services without another scare like this.
OSTEEN: We're going to stay strong. We're going to continue to move forward. And there are forces of evil but the forces that are for us -- the forces of God are stronger than that.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Investigators are continuing to work the scene and on this case as well. No real information on what the motive behind the shooting was here at the Lakewood Church. The police chief said yesterday in the late afternoon press conference -- saying that it could be something that's just very difficult to determine in the days and weeks ahead -- Poppy.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Ed Lavandera, thank you for your reporting.
Now to this. Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell urging his colleagues to support a more than $95 billion emergency aid package for Israel and Ukraine -- listen.
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SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): I know it has become quite fashionable in some circles to disregard the global -- the global interests we have as a global power. To bemoan the responsibilities of global leadership. This is the idle work for idle minds and it has no place in the United States Senate.
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HARLOW: In the rare Sunday session the Senate moved one step closer to passing this critical foreign aid package following a bipartisan vote that kept it on track for final passage potentially this week. But the bill faces uncertainty in the House where many Republicans egged on by Donald Trump are opposed to more Ukraine aid. The Senate is moving forward with the aid bill after Republicans, last week, blocked a border bill -- part of it -- that was bipartisan.
The border deal was the product of months of negotiations with a trio of senators, including our next guest, Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy of Connecticut. He is a member of the Foreign Relations Committee. Thank you so much for being here.
You got past that hurdle yesterday in the Senate. But now, Trump is saying don't provide any foreign aid unless it's in the form of a loan.
Do you think this dies in the House?
SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I hope it does not. I mean, let's just be clear. Vladimir Putin is intent on defeating Ukraine and then he has made it clear he has plans to move on. So, NATO countries to Europe. That would draw the United States directly into a confrontation with Putin. Two nuclear powers at war for the first time in our lifetime. That would mean Americans dying on the battlefield and potential global cataclysm.
It would also incentivize China to start moving on Taiwan and other neighboring countries. We could be setting off World War III.
So this is a very worthwhile investment in global security. A worthwhile investment in preventing the loss of American lives.
Yes, it is true to Americans there are other things like controlling inflation, and border security, and health care prices that matter more, but this is as important as it gets as we try to preserve the World War II order where big countries are not allowed to invade small countries and get away with it.
HARLOW: After the failure of the bipartisan border deal -- part of this, last week -- you told Politico that one, you'd never seen an about-face from Republicans like you witnessed. But what you also said that was striking to me, Senator, is you called it inevitable -- saying, basically, nothing you would have put together would have passed.
Does that mean the American people should prepare for no border legislation -- no comprehensive immigration reform for years to come, given what you experienced?
MURPHY: Yeah. For four months, I negotiated with a very conservative Republican appointed by the Republican Conference, Sen. James Lankford. We achieved a pretty tough, in many ways, conservative compromise that would secure our border. It would give the president the ability to shut down parts of the border when presentations get too high.
It's what the American people wanted, right? They are not OK with 10,000 people crossing every day in a chaotic, unplanned manner.
But Republicans didn't even read the bill. Many of them came out and opposed it within hours of its release. Why? Because Donald Trump told Republicans that he would rather have the border chaotic for this upcoming election because he thinks it gets him political advantage instead of solving the border.
And it became very clear to me that the quick flight away from that bill by Republicans on Sunday -- we had probably 20 to 25 Republicans we thought would vote for it and by Monday we had four -- was the result of their decision that they don't want to fix the border. They don't actually care about border security. They just want to preserve the chaos at the border because they think it helps them politically.
That is heartbreaking, personally, as somebody who spent four months crafting that bipartisan border fix bill. But it's also heartbreaking if you're an American who doesn't see this as a political football -- who actually wants there to be more order at the southwest border. And it's not going to happen because Donald Trump says to his Republican friends don't pass any bipartisan legislation because I think it would hurt me politically. HARLOW: You know, you worked so closely with very conservative -- very conservative James Lankford on this and his speech was something I think everyone should watch on the floor after this failed. And he said -- you called him a lone, righteous man standing in the wind.
I wonder what you admire most about working with him and about him given this experience.
MURPHY: Well, James and I are very different people. We disagree vehemently on lots of issues. But, man, he did the right thing here. He came to the table knowing that it was likely Donald Trump, the leader of his party, was going to oppose the bill that he crafted.
The bill was a true compromise. Yes, it did get tougher at the border, allowing the president to close down the border. But it also had priorities for Democrats, including increasing the number of visas that people can get to come to the country through other pathways.
And when all of his Republican colleagues left him hanging out to dry, in many ways, he didn't back down from that bill. In the last 48 hours, went on conservative radio and TV and continued to try to sell it. He gave that very impressive speech in which he talked about the purpose of being a senator -- as to compromise and get things done, not just to do press conferences.
I just wish there were more senators like that focused on doing the right thing. That were focused on compromise and didn't see their job as just standing up and complaining about -- listen, you could -- you could complain about what's wrong with America from anywhere, but if you run to be a United States senator, isn't your job to actually find solutions and compromise even if it gets you in trouble with the base of your party?
MURPHY: That's why I was at the table.
HARLOW: Well, it --
MURPHY: And as it turned out, that's why James Lankford was at the table.
HARLOW: It is what you're paid to do by the American people.
Before I move on, I want you to weigh in on what Trump said about NATO over the weekend.
But I just thought it was interesting, very quickly, that you brought your 15-year-old son that day because you knew this was going down on Monday. So Tuesday, you told him to skip school. Why did you bring him with you?
MURPHY: It's a good question. Listen, I was -- we're all human beings. I gave up four months of my life to try to work on this bill. I knew on Monday night it was probably going to die on Sunday at the hands of Republicans who were abandoning it. And sometimes you just need a little emotional support as a United States senator.
And so on Monday night, I told my 15-year-old just come with me tomorrow, man. Just be with me. Sometimes you need your friends and your family by your side when something that you care deeply about --
MURPHY: -- is going very wrong. So it was important to me to have him there.
HARLOW: Yeah, it's important for him to be there to see what you dedicated those months to.
All right. So, I don't need to play it for people again. They've seen it many times already this morning. What Trump said about not abiding by Article 5 of the NATO agreement. And also saying that he would, quote, "Encourage them (being Russia) to do whatever the hell they want" -- that's a quote -- "to any country that didn't meet their obligation of two percent of GDP."
We heard Jens Stoltenberg, secretary-general of NATO, say over the weekend that puts American and European soldiers at risk. Do you agree?
MURPHY: Oh, of course. I mean, it's a direct message to Vladimir Putin. What Donald Trump is telling Russia is that if you invade Europe, the United States will not come to Europe's defense. Europe is yours if you want it. Now, Europe will put up a fight but it will be very difficult for them to defend some of their smaller states without the United States.
So what Donald Trump is doing is giving a green light to Russia, but also a green light to China as well. I mean, it's effectively an invitation for World War III.
But it's also important to remember that the only time that the NATO treaty has actually been exercised is not in defense of Europe but in defense of the United States. After 9/11, when we were attacked by al- Qaeda and we went into Afghanistan, we called our NATO allies to defend us. To step up and join us in Afghanistan.
So it's important to remember, as Donald Trump doesn't seem to, that the NATO treaty works both ways. Yes, we are going to defend Europe if they get attacked. But as we have experienced, our NATO countries are going to step up and defend the United States if we get attacked. And there is no certainty that the United States is not going to be the subject of attack either from state or non-state actors in the future.
HARLOW: Senator Chris Murphy, thank you. Appreciate your time this morning.
PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin in the critical care unit at Walter Reed Medical Center. His duties handed over to his deputy. New details on his condition. That's next. (COMMERCIAL)
MATTINGLY: Well, this morning, Defense Sec. Lloyd Austin still in the critical care unit at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. The Pentagon says he was taken there yesterday after -- yesterday afternoon for, quote, "an emergent bladder issue." He has since transferred the duties of his office to Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks. This comes after Austin was diagnosed with prostate cancer in early December.
Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta. And Sanjay, obviously, there is a lot of --
DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Good morning.
MATTINGLY: -- concern and there's certainly a lot of attention after what happened the last time the Secretary of Defense went to the hospital.
MATTINGLY: And there are a lot of questions about how, when, and why.
Can you, first of all, explain what exactly an emergent bladder issue is?
GUPTA: Yeah. I mean, it's basically just that. And we don't have more details on this but when you say emergent bladder issue, obviously, it's something related to the bladder. But also, the fact that they call it emergent is important. Something sudden, something unexpected. Something that warranted going to the hospital emergently.
After prostate cancer surgery we know, for example, people can have issues with the bladder, but that's typically an inability to control the bladder. Problematic but probably not emergent.
More likely when you talk about an emergent sort of issue like this it could be related to almost the opposite problem where you cannot -- the bladder sort of retains urine. It's called urinary retention. And as you might imagine, that's quite painful and very, very uncomfortable, but it can also cause other problems. People can drop their blood pressure as a result of that. They can have heart rate abnormalities as a result of that. And that could make it emergent.
He also, as you mentioned, Phil, had that infection back in January -- early January. Is this sort of a reinfection of some sort? We don't know the answers to that. But whatever it was it was serious enough to warrant all this.
And again, just a reminder -- the timeline up there on the screen. It was early December that the prostate cancer was identified. The initial hospitalization on December 22 sounds like it went fine for the operation. Then he came back for weeks, January 1 to January 15. At that point, they say it was this infection that was driving that. And again, yesterday, back in the hospital again.
HARLOW: And Sanjay, he has transferred his duties to his deputy once again. A very different situation because everything --
HARLOW: -- has been made public. Maybe even more details than would normally have been made public given what happened before.
What would symptoms be for something like this? What would treatment be like?
GUPTA: Yeah. You know, it is interesting.
So, typically, if you are dealing with, for example, a urinary retention issue -- the bladder simply is not working -- I could tell you, Poppy, it's probably been a tough road for him the last couple of days. I mean, this is really uncomfortable -- poor guy. You have a lot of pain in the abdomen as a result of this.
But again, I don't think people always realize it but when you have bladder distention -- you can't empty your bladder -- it can cause other problems. He's 70 years old. Was he having heart rate or blood pressure issues as a result of this? We don't know. But it was enough, again, to be an emergency and now to land him in the intensive care unit.
We've been told that they don't expect whatever is going on now to affect his long-term recovery of how optimistic they are about him, but whatever it is is still pretty concerning in the short term.
MATTINGLY: Yeah, no question about it.
Dr. Sanjay Gupta, as always, thank you.
Well, new overnight, two Israeli hostages rescued in Gaza, according to the IDF. We're getting new details on that operation.
HARLOW: Plus, more than 100 people were killed in airstrikes on Rafah in southern Gaza -- that is according to the Palestinian Red Crescent Society -- as Israel prepares for a military offensive there. We will be joined by an Israeli government spokesperson about what is being done on this front, ahead.
MATTINGLY: This morning, the Israeli military says two hostages are now free after a special operation in Rafah, in Gaza. They've been identified as 60-year-old Fernando Marman and 70-year-old Louis Har. Both were kidnapped during the October 7 Hamas attacks.
This news comes days after Israel signaled a new phase in its war on Hamas, which is expected to include a ground offensive in Rafah. That's in southern Gaza where the U.N. says more than one million civilians are taking shelter. It's raised concerns about the potential human toll of any operation. Those concerns extend to the White House.
President Biden spoke with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the phone for about 45 minutes yesterday. But the White House, in a readout after the call, saying that Biden, quote, "Reaffirmed his view that a military operation in Rafah should not proceed without a credible and executable plan for ensuring the safety of and support for the more than one million people sheltering there."
Joining us now with the latest, spokesperson for the Israeli government, Eylon Levy. We appreciate your time.
To start with, do we have any updates on the condition of the hostages? Obviously, big news -- very good news last night about the operation that secured their release. Do we have any news on their condition right now?
EYLON LEVY, SPOKESPERSON, ISRAELI GOVERNMENT (via Webex by Cisco): Both hostages are in good and stable condition. Everyone in Israel is waking up to the very welcome news that the Army, in a daring special forces mission, managed to rescue those two hostages from Rafah where they had been held in a common block inside Gaza where Hamas has been trying to use neighboring areas (PH) as human shields. They are home. That's two more home and another 134 to go.
MATTINGLY: Is there a sense that there are more hostages in that area -- in that vicinity -- and that more operations like this operation last night could commence soon?
LEVY: We know that we are now approaching an impending incursion into Rafah because the Israeli army has already dismantled most of Hamas' Rafah (INAUDIBLE). Hamas started this war with the October 7 massacre with 24 battalions. We've now destroyed 18 of those battalions and two more are on their last legs in Kahn Younis and another four in Rafah.
So we absolutely expect that Hamas will be holding hostages in the southern Gaza Strip, whether they're in the tunnels it has built under civilian areas or sitting in homes, as we were shocked to discover from the survivors of Hamas captivity. And we're going to continue applying military pressure to rescue those hostages and extract them by force where possible or otherwise, put military pressure necessary to get Hamas to release them.
MATTINGLY: This appeared to be an extensively planned and, as you noted, a daring mission of sorts.
If there is a largescale operation in Rafah what assurances can you provide hostage families that those hostages that could be there -- that are still there will be safe?
LEVY: We're taking every possible matter that we can to keep the hostages safe, but Hamas is brutally holding them in captivity. We fear they're being starved, and tortured, and raped.
And so, can we give assurances that the hostages are safe as long as they are in the hands of the terrorists that perpetrated the October 7 massacre? Of course not. The only assurances we can give is that we will continue fighting to put military pressure to bring them back home. Because only once they are safely back in Israeli territory in their families' homes can we guarantee their safety -- and that is what we are doing.
MATTINGLY: Eylon, will you provide or have you provided, I guess, behind the scenes a plan to the White House? The president made very clear in the readout of his call with the prime minister last night it has to be a credible and executable plan to ensure the safety of those that have moved from the north to the south before a largescale operation in Rafah commences.
LEVY: A very important conversation, by the way, between the prime minister and the president in which the White House made clear that we share a goal of seeing Hamas defeated and long-term security of Israel and its people.
Now, as the army goes into Rafah, the prime minister has asked the army to come up with a plan to help evacuate them. And in order to evacuate them we need help from the U.N. agencies on the ground. Unfortunately, until now, they have been resisting our efforts to get civilians to safety.
At every turn in this war, as we secure humanitarian corridors for civilians to evacuate, complying with our obligations under its national law, the U.N. has been accusing us of forced displacement for trying to help civilians get out of areas where terrorists are trying to use them as human shields.
And those U.N. agencies now have a fateful choice to make. Are they trying to save Hamas or are they trying to save civilians? Because they're not going to be able to keep Hamas' last four battalions on their feet but they can help us get civilians to safety so that Hamas terrorists cannot use them as human shields.
MATTINGLY: Eylon Levy, we appreciate your time. Thank you.
HARLOW: So this morning, Donald Trump is expected to attend a pretty high-stakes hearing. It's related to his alleged mishandling of classified documents. We'll take you live outside the courthouse in Florida.
MATTINGLY: And it was an overtime stunner in Sin City. The Kansas City Chiefs take the Super Bowl title again. And Usher -- well, he was just epic.
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USHER, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Singing "You Make Me Wanna..."
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