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Erin Burnett Outfront

Now: Israel In House-To-House Battles In Southern Gaza; Sources: U.S. Thinks Israel's Ground Invasion Could End By January; Shouting Match In Senate Amid Fight Over Ukraine Funding; Ukrainian Official: Russia Opened 2 New Fronts In Avdiivka, Site Of Fiercest Battles Right Now; Biden: "If Trump Wasn't Running, I'm Not Sure I'd Be Running"; Senator Cruz: "I Condemn Nothing That The Israeli Government Is Doing"; Kim Jong Un Cries While Pleading With Women To Have Kids. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired December 05, 2023 - 19:00   ET




House-to-house combat. The fighting in Gaza's second largest city ramping up tonight and civilian casualties are mounting this hour.

Plus, President Biden revealing he wouldn't be running for reelection, except for one thing.

This as voters open up about why they are giving DeSantis another look over Trump. That is the latest in our voters OUTFRONT series.

And George Santos's second act, making new cameos tonight. The price, guess what, has gone up. That's the old supply/demand, and people are paying up.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, surrounded. Israel says its forces have now encircled Gaza's second largest city. There's now fierce fighting inside Khan Younis. That is where the civilian population actually has ballooned over the past two months, as people have been told to go from northern Gaza south towards Khan Younis and so many cases, and now reports of house-to-house battles there. According to an Israeli commander, quote, we are in the midst of most intense day-to-day since the beginning of the ground operations in terms of terrorists killed, the number of firefights and the use of firepower from the land and air.

And this ground operation now posing a serious threat to displaced Palestinian civilians, as I said, so many had come from further north here. Many of them now lining the narrow streets after being forced from their homes.

And just north of Khan Younis, new video appears to show artillery fire near two Red Crescent ambulances. Again, appears, but you can see this playing out on your screen right now.

And earlier, I spoke to a spokesman for the Red Cross, Hisham Mhanna, who is in Gaza, spoken to him many times over these past couple of months. I asked him today what he's actually experiencing in these past hours that the IDF says are the most intense.

Here's what he said.


HISHAM MHANNA, RED CROSS SPOKESMAN: It's chaotic, it's panic, it's constant fear, and it's this self-entrapment that is prevailing now.


BURNETT: Chaos, entrapment -- and he's choosing to be there, choosing to be there to continue with his job. His wife has left. He has not met his newborn son.

Now, Israel claims it's trying to ease all of those fears by dropping leaflets like what you're looking at on the screen with the QR code that directs people where to go to the safe areas. I asked Mhanna if it's working and he had seen the leaflets, and he said, yes, he absolutely has seen them, and the reality he says is that they are not working because there's no 3G or 4G cell service as he has seen. There's barely 2G, in many cases, which means it's impossible to actually scan the QR code in those cases.

And he said that even if people can open the link to the IDF evacuation map, the map doesn't show a person, where they are on the map, how to get anywhere near the evacuation map -- area, just literally shows this.

Of course, this puts more lives at risk. And last night, I asked a spokesman for the IDF about a report that two civilians have been killed for every Hamas militant. The IDF later tried to clarify saying that it's likely less than two civilians for every Hamas militant. They didn't elaborate on the details here, though, but I asked about this report and what level of civilian suffering he is seeing right now.


MHANNA: We still have two of our own staff members who were killed in air strikes with members of their families weeks ago, and they have not yet been found, buried. So I would not be so sure about this equation 2-1. This is not acceptable by all means when we address and respect the rules of war.


BURNETT: A war that the United States now says may end in a few weeks time. Officials telling CNN that the Gaza ground operation could end by January and that is where Alex Marquardt begins our coverage tonight OUTFRONT live in Tel Aviv.

I mean, Alex, the fight inside Khan Younis, the second biggest city in Gaza, escalating tonight, fierce, house-to-house battles.


You had so many civilians who had fled there.

What more are you learning?

ALEXANDER MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, Israel's top general says that the country has now entered the third phase of this conflict. Israel's military trying to secure the gains that they have made in the north before moving on to the south.

Prime Minister Netanyahu was also very blunt in comments that he made. He said that tonight, the ground shook in Khan Younis and Jabalia. Khan Younis, of course, the biggest city in the south. Jabalia is a refugee camp in the northern part of the strip that Israel says has been a holdout for Hamas.

Meanwhile, Erin, we are hearing some pointed criticism from the Biden administration, from the State Department. A spokesperson for the State Department saying that they do not believe that Israel is doing enough to help get aid into Gaza, aid like fuel, food and water that's so desperately needed especially as so many people are fleeing even farther south.


ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): Israeli strikes tonight in southern Gaza as Israel expands its campaign. New satellite images show dozens of Israel's armored vehicles near the main road heading to southern Gaza's biggest city, Khan Younis. Israel's top general said Tuesday that the military's operating, quote, in the heart of Khan Younis where Israeli officials have said Hamas's top leadership has dug in.

According to a journalist who filmed this video, IDF troops moving south fired on civilians and journalists. Airstrikes have been seen near the city. Chaos as the wounded are rushed to the hospital, and the dead are counted.

Amid the renewed fighting, hospitals continue to overflow.

We are facing a huge problem this doctor in Khan Younis says. God forbid if we get more patients, there's no space for them at all.

Many in Khan Younis have gone there from northern Gaza after Israel told more than 1 million people to evacuate. Now they're being told to move again, to so-called safe zones, though humanitarian officials and civilians say that nowhere is safe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we need the war to stop, cease fire. I wish because nobody would win in this war.

MARQUARDT: A senior U.N. official says the civilian death toll is rapidly increasing. Overall, according to the Hamas-controlled ministry of health, almost 16,000 people in Gaza have been killed since October 7th.

In an interview with OUTFRONT, an IDF spokesperson conceded that the majority of deaths could be civilians, saying that if two Palestinian civilians are killed for every Hamas militant, that ratio would be, quote, tremendously positive.

LT. COL. JONATHAN CONRICUS, IDF SPOKESMAN: If you compare that ratio to any other conflict in urban terrain, between a military and a terrorist organization using civilians as their human shields and embedded in the civilian population, you will find that that ratio is tremendous, tremendously positive and perhaps unique in the world.

MARQUARDT: Spokesperson Jonathan Conricus later admitted he should have chosen his words more carefully.

Amid the onslaught in Gaza, Hamas today claimed a barrage of rockets fired at Tel Aviv. Despite the Iron Dome intercepts, the large black smoke of an impact was seen north of the city, and shrapnel plunged to the ground, here, narrowly missing two people walking on the sidewalk.


MARQUARDT (on camera): And, Erin, a major question is how much longer can these Israeli military operations last at the scale and level that we're seeing now around Khan Younis.

Officials, both American and Israeli, tell my colleagues and me that they do expect that high intensity operations will continue for several more weeks before there's a transition to what they call low intensity operations. Those more low intensity, more tactical operations could happen on a very localized scale, for example, going after specific Hamas commanders.

Now, what that means for the time frame is we could see high intensity operations lasting through the end of the calendar year before that transition happens in January, but that sort of more and low intensity phase, Erin, could last for quite some time.

There has been private pressure from the United States on Israel to scale back their military operations, the U.S. is also telling that they cannot replicate in the south what they did in the north, and just frankly, telling Israel that they are quickly losing international support.

Now, in terms of what Israel's response was to this message, a senior administration official tells my colleague, MJ Lee, they wouldn't call it receptive -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Alex Marquardt.

I want to go to Barak Ravid now, our global and political affairs analyst.

So -- you just heard Alex say that the U.S. expects the ground war to end by January, and he's also talking about the pressure that they have been putting on Israel and that the response as MJ Lee was reporting was not receptive from the Israeli side.


What are you learning?


I think that what I heard from several U.S. officials in recent days was that, again, they would want to see this high intensity phase end as soon as possible, but they admit at the same time that they do not see Joe Biden telling the Israelis that they need to stop now immediately or call for a cease fire anytime soon. So I think what is left for the Biden administration to do, if that's the case, is to basically try and influence what Israel is doing on the ground and actually, they managed to do some things quite successfully.

BURNETT: All right. So your focus tonight, I know, very specifically on something that didn't get a lot of attention, and it's important for people watching to understand. An announcement from the Biden administration that you believe says a lot about where the U.S. stands on Israel right now, a very powerful message, and one that we haven't seen maybe forever, if not in decades. What is it?

RAVID: Well, Erin, one of the things that happened today, and not a lot of people noticed, is that the Biden administration imposed sanctions today on Israeli settlers in the West Bank. And this is sanctions that were focused on Israeli settlers who were involved or are involved in attacks against Palestinian civilians in the -- in the West Bank.

The sanctions are mostly travel bans against those people, at first stage, this is several dozen people, so while this might be or might sound small, this is the first time any U.S. administration is doing this since the mid-'90s when the Clinton administration did a similar thing. And when you have an Israeli government, that parts of it are basically the political wing of those people who attack Palestinians in the West Bank, that's quite significant message by the Biden administration.

BURNETT: And crucial that you raise it, because as you point out, it seems small. Many wouldn't notice it. Sometimes it is the small things that matter so much.

Now, in Khan Younis right now, where you have had so many Palestinian civilians, right, initially flee, right, and now the Israeli military said they encircled Khan Younis. It's a known base for the military wing of Hamas, the hometown of the Hamas leader, Yahya Sinwar, who is known to be the mastermind of October 7th.

Does Israel believe that Sinwar is actually there now, that he's still there?

RAVID: Everything I hear from Israeli officials in recent weeks is that they believe Yahya Sinwar and Hamas military wing commander, Mohammed Deif, the second mastermind of the October 7th attacks, both of them and several other officials are in Khan Younis, basically since the beginning of the war.

And this is the aim of this operation. If there's one thing Israel wants to achieve during this operation in Khan Younis is to capture Sinwar, and Mohammed Deif, dead or alive. And Israel wants to do it not only because they are the masterminds of October 7th but because they believe that once they take them out, it will be much easier to destroy Hamas.

BURNETT: All right. Barak, thank you very much. As always, appreciate your incredible reporting.

OUTFRONT now, the Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton. He serves on the House Armed Services Committee, and he's a veteran who served in Iraq.

So I appreciate your time, Congressman.

So the U.S. expects, and you heard kind of the context around this from both Barak and Alex, right? They expect this heavy ground operation to end in January. There's a lot of desire from the U.S. for that to happen.

Have you been briefed at all about the timeline?

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): Not specifically. I mean, let's be clear. We want Israel to succeed in eradicating Hamas. Neither Palestinians nor Israelis can be safe and secure if Hamas still exists, but our concern is that Israel's tactics right now risks not just failing to eradicate Hamas, but actually strengthening its base of support, and this is a fundamental principle of counterinsurgency that you can not create more terrorists than you kill. And that's what Israel risks doing when they have such high civilian casualty numbers.

BURNETT: All right. And to that front, I spoke last night with the IDF spokesperson, Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, and I asked about the AFP reporting that Israel has killed two civilians for every one Hamas fighter in Gaza. And he said if that ratio is confirmed, and the way he laid it out last night, he seemed to think it would be, but he characterized that ratio as tremendously positive.


Two civilians dead for every Hamas militant.

Do you agree that that is a tremendously positive ratio?

MOULTON: No, I think it's dead wrong. I think it's dead wrong based on our experience. Look, we looked at this very carefully when we recognized in Iraq and

Afghanistan that we were not in a traditional force on force military battle. We were fighting a counterinsurgency. And the same general, U.S. general, Stanley McChrystal, actually commissioned a study on this.

He determined for every one civilian you kill, it serves to recruit about ten terrorists. I mean, by that number, Israel so far has killed about 5,000 Hamas terrorists, but in the process, they've recruited about 100,000 new adherents. And this is really bad news for Israel. It's bad news just in terms of their potential for military success here, which we do want them to achieve.

You know, we're talking about 10,000 negligent civilians so far are killed right now, and that just -- I mean, that's a bad situation in a place that actually when the war began, there was a poll just before October 7th that showed that 6 out of 10 residents of the Gaza Strip did not support Hamas.

So Israel was actually going into a favorable situation where most of the Palestinians were against Hamas as well. And the concern is that they have actually turned most of the Palestinians against Israel.

BURNETT: That would be unbelievable.

All right. Thank you very much, Congressman. I appreciate your time, Seth Moulton.

And next, a shouting match today in the Senate, an incredible thing. There was a briefing about U.S. aid to Ukraine, which is hanging by a thread as I speak.

And then the Ukrainian President Zelenskyy mysteriously cancels a briefing to Congress at the very last minute, suddenly didn't happen, even though it was drafted and ready to go, we understand. Live tonight OUTFRONT in Ukraine and on Capitol Hill.

Plus, our voters OUTFRONT series. Tonight, you'll hear from Iowa voters who once were solidly for Trump with a huge lead, now taking a look at the other candidates.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I like what Nikki Haley is doing. I like DeSantis, too.


BURNETT: And tonight, Kim Jong Un breaking down in tears. You'll see, and we'll tell you why.



BURNETT: New tonight, a shouting match in the Senate as American support for Ukraine is hanging by a thread. It was a classified briefing on Ukraine, and it just completely went off the rails. Senators started shouting at each other, shouting about border security. Republicans are demanding that any aid to Ukraine be tied to border security on the southern border.

And as the shouting match goes down, President Zelenskyy of Ukraine, who was scheduled to make an urgent appeal to senators, in that same classified briefing, right, he's been patched in, had everything prepared, mysteriously cancels due to a, quote, last minute matter. No further explanation was given.

We're covering the story from Washington and Ukraine tonight.

So let's begin first with Manu OUTFRONT on Capitol Hill.

So, Manu, you have the shouting match over this aid. It completely devolves, we understand people are yelling and screaming, and Zelenskyy cancels his appearance all of a sudden. I'm not saying those two things don't appear to be related. This is what happened, a lot of intrigue, ahead of what is a crucial vote tomorrow.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, look, this briefing was meant to convince senators that it was time to move on aid to Ukraine or risk seeing Russia take over Ukraine, seeing Ukraine collapse, if U.S. aid does not continue, but the debate over immigration and tightening border security really has been taking front and center this whole fight, publicly. Also took place privately.

Republicans say there need to be changes, tighter restrictions on border policies at the southern border before they agree to moving forward on aid to Ukraine, as well as aid to Israel. That's why things broke down behind closed doors, as Chuck Schumer said it was Mitch McConnell who initially, quote, hijacked the briefing when he kicked it over to a Republican senator who laid out their border concerns.


SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MAJORITY LEADER: It was immediately hijacked by Leader McConnell. Even one of them started -- it was disrespectful and started screaming at one of the generals, and challenging him why he didn't go to the border.

SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): We want to have Ukraine and Israel, but we've got to have the Democrats recognize that the trade here, the deal is we stop the open border. They don't want to do that. So Republicans are just walking out of the briefing because the people there are not willing to actually discuss what it takes to get a deal done.


RAJU: And, Erin, tomorrow, Senate Democrats are teeing up a key procedural vote to try to move ahead on a package, but since there's no deal on border security, Republicans expected to block it, which means Israel and Ukraine aid continues to hang in the balance at this critical time -- Erin.

BURNETT: It certainly does -- and, of course, the Pentagon warning today that without more funding allocated, they could have to really stop providing Ukraine what it needs.

All right. Thank you very much, Manu.

And as this crucial aid to Ukraine as hangs in the balance at this hour, the head of Avdiivka in eastern Ukraine, where some of the fiercest fighting is happening, says Russian forces have opened up two new fronts in their ongoing assault in the town that has become the epicenter of the battle in the east.

Anna Coren is OUTFRONT.


ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): At a warehouse stocked with humanitarian aid, 23-year-old police officer Dmytro Solovii picks up supplies. Food, water, hygiene products and a generator are on the list.

He's part of the White Angels Unit, and they're heading to his hometown of Avdiivka, in the Donetsk region on the eastern front where one of the most fierce and bloody battles is being waged in the war in Ukraine.

I was born in this town, he tells me. My neighbors are there. My relatives, my friends. It's my duty to help them. We are their hope.

But getting to Avdiivka is a death trap. Shortly after leaving us with his GoPro rolling, he spots Russian shelling. Look, the bomb has hand, report incoming of an ugly bastard, and there's another one, he tells his colleague.

Russian artillery, mortars and drones target the road, and yet Dmytro remains calm.


This perilous journey has become routine despite multiple close calls.

Driving past the sign that proudly states Avdiivka is Ukraine, the town of once 30,000 residents is now deserted, devoid of the living, as almost every single building has been shelled.

But surprisingly, some people still live here, including Dr. Vitaliy Sytnyk, head of the local hospital.

Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he's decided he's not going anywhere.

We have a job and we do it, he complains.

He called the White Angels to evacuate a man who had just been injured from shrapnel. As they load him into the van, the idle chatter is interrupted.

Incoming, it's a mortar, explains the doctor. Sometimes it rustles and then bang, that would be a tank.

As the explosions get louder, it's time to go. This is the road to Avdiivka. There is one way in, one way out. We are not allowed to travel to the town, which is 17 kilometers away. The military has banned all media, saying it's just too dangerous.

But for the White Angels, they travel on this road multiple times a week, risking their lives to support the less than 1,300 people still living in the town.

As the White Angels begin the dangerous drive out, Dmytro reflects. It's very sad what's happening to my town, but one day we'll rebuild, and I will live there with my grandchildren. We just need to believe.

A belief that keeps this community among the ruins alive.


COREN (on camera): Erin, this war is approaching the end of its second year, and U.S. aid is absolutely critical. It cannot be underestimated, and yet people here in Ukraine know that that's under threat. If it dries up, it will be absolutely devastating.

President Zelenskyy, as you mentioned, was supposed to hold a last ditch appeal with the House and the Senate. That was cancelled at the very last minute, which seemed very strange considering what is at stake. We contacted the president's office and got no response.

What we can tell you, Erin, is we spent time with soldiers on the eastern front, fighting that battle in Avdiivka. They say this is difficult. Sacrifices are being made. Blood and treasure is being spent, but they are willing to fight. They just need the weapons.

BURNETT: All right. Anna, thank you very much.

And, of course, President Zelenskyy cancelling that speech, hugely significant, and as I said, we just simply don't know the reason for it. But it is very unexpected move to say the least.

Anna Coren from Kyiv, thank you so much.

And next, President Biden making a stunning admission. He says if it weren't for one thing, he wouldn't be running for president this time around. Will he regret those words?

Plus, disgraced former Congressman George Santos is now charging even more and successfully charging more for videos like this.


FORMER REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I know you were trouble when you walked in -- that's me. Bye!


BURNETT: And people are paying.



BURNETT: Tonight, President Biden saying this, and this is the first time that he has said this publicly, quote, if Trump wasn't running, I'm not sure I'd be running, but we cannot let him win.

It comes as Trump is making his second visit to Iowa in less than a week. Here he is in Davenport, Iowa, and the real question here is whether the voters are still with him. Are they giving the other candidates a second look ahead of voting which begins now in just weeks.

Jeff Zeleny reports from Iowa for our series "Voters OUTFRONT".


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Sally Hofmann has been thinking and praying about the Republican presidential race.

SALLY HOFMANN, IOWA VOTER: I pray for the direction this country is going, and I pray for the candidates.

ZELENY: As candidates have descended on Iowa, Hofmann has watched with an open mind. When we first met earlier this year, she had high praise for Donald Trump and curiosity for two of his rivals.

HOFMANN: I like what Trump has done. To me, it's huge to have three U.S. Supreme Court justices during his term, and that, I'm a big pro- life proponent. I like what Nikki Haley is doing. I like DeSantis, too. So, kind of in that range.

ZELENY: Now, as Republican hopefuls scramble for support, six weeks before the Iowa caucuses in the 2024 campaign, Hofmann is among those looking for a fresh start.

HOFMANN: I'm thankful for what Trump did while he was in office. But I've been a little bit disappointed in Trump lately. I'm just veering away from him, and leaning towards DeSantis. He seems like a man, who when he believes something, he'll stand by it. That's what I appreciate about him.

ZELENY: As fall turns to winter in Iowa, it's a season of choosing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you guys Iowa or Illinois residents?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Perfect. Have you filled out one of our commit to caucus cards?

ZELENY: And a critical moment for Ron DeSantis and Nikki Haley to show that the Republican primary is still a contest, not a coronation.

ROGER DVORAK, IOWA VOTER: I'm very impressed with Nikki Haley, and I just hope she gets the nomination.

ZELENY: Roger Dvorak (ph) voted for Trump, but believes his criminal cases are a distraction.

DVORAK: Whether he's guilty or not, we'll have to wait and see, I just don't think he can be effective as a leader of the country.

ZELENY: There's no doubt Trump remains a driving force in the campaign.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: We're going to win the Iowa caucuses.

ZELENY: He's in Iowa again tonight, the second time in four days, to try and maintain his dominance.

Yet exhaustion with the former president once whispered easily comes alive in conversations with Republicans like Karen Hannah (ph) who also voted for Trump but is weighing an alternative.

What is it that gives you pause about President Trump?

KAREN HANNAH, IOWA VOTER: I think all that's going on and I think Ron DeSantis is a little bit more solid and less drama. And just all the things that Trump's going through the courts, so unsure about that.


But, no, I like Ron DeSantis, what he stands for.

ZELENY: The question is how many Iowans are inclined to go against the grain of the Trump-controlled GOP, as they make their final decisions.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm looking at Nikki Haley, and, of course, DeSantis, and Vivek and Trump if --

ZELENY: Ann Walpert's (ph) laughter underscores the impressions of many Republicans, a reluctance to be with Trump now but a pledge to be with him in the end.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If he's the nominee, I will vote for him.

ZELENY: That sentiment resonates on the Hofmann Farm outside Cedar Rapids, where Sally said she, too, will support Trump if he's the party's choice. But for now, he's not her choice, and she hopes Iowa can spark a new direction for the country.

HOFMANN: I think it's more of a wide open race.

ZELENY: It's more of a wide open race. HOFMANN: I think -- right. I think it won't surprise me if Trump gets it. It won't surprise me if he isn't the nominee. And I'm just hoping that DeSantis might be the one. But I think it's more wide open.


ZELENY (on camera): So the former president is in Iowa tonight, Erin, and he just responded to those comments that President Biden made earlier this evening, saying he wouldn't be running if Trump wasn't in the race. Trump, we are told, said I doubt that. And he said, they don't want me to be running.

But, Erin, the interesting thing is Trump still in Iowa, he really is trying to hold on to his lead there, but there are many voters who have many open minds and our days of conversations there, but they are turning their attention here to Alabama, because that is where the Republican presidential debate is tomorrow night. All of Trump's rivals coming here, of course, to voters in Iowa, New Hampshire, other early voting states, watching this debate very carefully -- Erin.

BURNETT: That's right. And, of course, you know, he's not there.

All right. Thank you very much, Jeff Zeleny.

Harry Enten is here to go beyond the numbers.

So, Harry, Trump right now in terms of the polls that we got, right, he got more than 20 point-lead.


BURNETT: Gigantic, okay? Over --

ENTEN: Huge.

BURNETT: Yeah, as some might say, without an H. Over the Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, over South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley. You know both of whom have had momentum. They are the closest for second in Iowa.

So, how many candidates have come back from that sort of a deficit to actually succeed?

ENTEN: Only two at this point since 1980, George H.W. Bush in 1980. Dick Gephardt in 1988. And, of course, we've had a ton of caucuses, a dozen or so on the Democratic and Republican side. So at this particular point, look, there's a chance that either DeSantis or Haley could come back, but it's a long shot based on history.

BURNETT: Right. And, of course, there is this whole thing that right now, the thing that might cause that to happen is something we don't know, right.

ENTEN: Right, unknown, unknown.

BURNETT: Right. It's the black swan, a black swan event.

OK. So how important is winning Iowa?

ENTEN: Yeah. I mean, look, on the Republican side, there have only been two nominees who actually won Iowa. Bob Dole in '96, George W. Bush in 2000.

On the Democratic side, there's actually been a slew, most recently, of course, Hillary Clinton in 2016. It's more predictive on the Democratic side than the Republican side. But, of course, the fact is, we're looking at a Republican caucus in this particular case.

BURNETT: All right. So, if DeSantis comes from behind and wins, and obviously, if the polls don't change dramatically, that would also cause a real shaking of confidence in what some of the predictive numbers are in states that are further out.

ENTEN: Sure.

BURNETT: But how much of an uphill climb would he have in some of those earlier states where frankly he has struggled.

ENTEN: He has definitely struggled in New Hampshire. He's, you know, in 4th place. He's only about 10 percent of the vote. South Carolina, he's in the third place behind Nikki Haley in both states. Behind Chris Christie in the state of New Hampshire.

The fact is, given the history of Iowa, winning there I don't think is enough for Ron DeSantis. In fact, just looking at the data, Nikki Haley, if she outperforms in Iowa, is in much better position in the states going forward than DeSantis is, to challenge Trump ultimately for the position.

BURNETT: All right. Harry, thank you very much.

ENTEN: Thank you.

BURNETT: And next, taking on Ted Cruz, I'm going to speak to a reporter who just confronted the Republican senator because of comments like this.


SEN. TED CRUZ (R-TX): I condemn nothing that the Israeli government is doing.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BURNETT: Plus, George Santos getting so many requests for personalized videos that he is jacking up the price. And guess what? People are paying it.



BURNETT: Tonight, Ted Cruz called out. The Republican senator coming under fire over his unequivocal support of Israel's actions in its war against Hamas in Gaza.

Here is part of his exchange with journalist Ryan Grim.


CRUZ: Members of the Squad have tweeted out from the river to the sea, but the answer, I'd allow them to say it but I wouldn't sit there quietly, I would point out that you are calling for once again the extermination of millions of Jews.

RYAN GRIM, JOURNALIST: As I'm sure you know, in Likud's platform, it says from the river to the sea there would only be Israeli sovereignty. Are they suggesting genocide of all Palestinians?

CRUZ: Of course not.

GRIM: Exactly. So, if they're not why is the other suggesting genocide?

CRUZ: Because that's what Hamas supports.

GRIM: We've had Defense Minister Gallant, we will eliminate everything. An IDF spokesperson, our focus is on damage, not on precision. Former Knesset member, there's one solution, which is to completely destroy Gaza before invading it. I mean destruction like what happened in Dresden and Hiroshima, without nuclear weapons.

Would you join us in condemning that as well?

CRUZ: So I condemn nothing the Israeli government is doing. I stand with the people of Israel.


BURNETT: Ryan Grim is now OUTFRONT. He's the Washington bureau chief for "The Intercept". He's also the author of "The Squad: AOC and the Hope for a Political Revolution", a new book which is out today.

And, Ryan, I want to ask you about something crucial you say in there, but first, that interview with Senator Cruz, and I hope people watch the whole thing. It's really a fascinating exchange. At the end, you heard his unequivocal support there, right?

[19:45:01] That he refused to condemn any actions of Israel, or the rhetoric that you quoted. Talk to me about that moment. What did that say to you what you were having that exchange with him?

GRIM: I thought at least he would condemn some of the things that the Israel government would condemn. But you don't have to get in front of them, like, for instance, the minister who floated the idea of nuking Gaza, was roundly like rebuked by other members of the Netanyahu cabinet. So it was striking to me that Cruz couldn't even go as far as members of the very far right Netanyahu cabinet.

And I was just trying to, in that interview, find some common moral plane because, you know, anytime you have anybody on who's remotely critical of Israel, the interview starts with, you know, will you condemn what Hamas did on October 7? Today is December 5th. We're still having news cycles organized around that question from two months ago.

So, then, it follows that let's also get on the same moral level and condemn the kind of collective punishment of Palestinians as well. And then we can talk about a way forward, but he wouldn't go there, and that was kind of, once he didn't, you're like, okay, well, if you condemn nothing, there's nothing I can tell you that's going to move you.

BURNETT: I mean, it really was -- I hope everyone will watch it. It was a fascinating exchange.

Part of the issue with October 7th, there has been a hesitancy among some unwillingness to condemn what happened on that -- on that day. And it's interesting, just a short time ago, I don't know if you saw it, Ryan, but the Democratic Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal, who is the chair of the progressive caucus, put out a statement, and it says in part, quote, let me be completely clear that I unequivocally condemn Hamas's use of rape and sexual violence as an act of war. This is horrific, we must stand with our sisters, families, and survivors of rape and sexual assault everywhere to condemn this violence and hold perpetrators accountable.

Now, Ryan, the reason she's making the statement as you know is because she faced criticism for these remarks on Sunday, and it harkens back to October 7th today to Dana bash.


REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): I have condemned what Hamas has done. I've condemned all of the actions --

DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Specifically against women?

JAYAPAL: Absolutely. The rape, of course, but I think we have to remember that Israel is a democracy, that is why they are a strong ally of ours, and if they do not comply with international humanitarian law, they are bringing themselves to a place that makes it much more difficult strategically for them to be able to build the kinds of allies, to keep public opinion with them, and frankly, morally, I think we cannot say that one war crime deserves another. That is not what international humanitarian law says.

BASH: Okay. With respect, I was just asking about the women and you turned it back to Israel. I'm asking you about Hamas, in fact --

JAYAPAL: I already answered your question, Dana. I said it's horrific, and I think that rape is horrific, sexual assault is horrific. I think that it happens in war situations. Terrorist organizations like Hamas obviously are using these as tools. However, I think we have to be balanced about bringing in the outrages against Palestinians.


BURNETT: So then, subsequent to that, she had come under a lot of criticism. She has now put out that statement. I'm wondering, that statement she has put out may indicate she's under pressure and may put her at odds with the most progressive members of her party, which is a crucial part of your book about the squad where you say 2024 could be a do or die moment for their political futures.

And you know, when you talk about the Squad and Jamaal Bowman, and AOC, Rashida Tlaib, Cori Bush, why is this such a crucial moment?

GRIM: Well, I think this will be one of the key moments that we look back on, you know, years from now, and say, remember when Representative Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, was made to put out multiple statements reaffirming the fact that she condemns sexual violence? I think that will be a window into how warped this has gotten.

Like I said, December 5th, we're talking about October 7th, and what has happened between October 7th and December 5th is, I think, what history is really going to remember from this time, and will look at moments like this as ways that it was rationalized and allowed to continue.

I don't actually think she's going to face any criticism from the Squad. There's nobody in the squad, you know, or I hope anywhere in the world who wouldn't also just unequivocally condemn sexual violence by anybody at any time.

BURNETT: But you do think at this moment, this is a turning point for the Squad itself?

BURNETT: For sure. So you've seen as I write about in 2022, AIPAC and Democratic majority for Israel spent between $40 million and $50 million, kind of purging critics of Israel from the party, trying to kind of minimize the size of the Squad and also get Squad-like members to kind of moderate their position on Israel and Palestine, Democratic majority of Israel founded January 2019.


In direct response to Ilhan Omar and Rashid Tlaib and the rest of the Squad being sworn into Congress, not in response to anything necessarily said. Just the mere fact there are going to be two Muslim women serving in Congress. Now, AIPAC is saying there might be up to $100 million in this next cycle.


GRIM: And so, we had Summer Lee on CNN earlier. So, we're going to -- this is -- the question is being called and whether, which direction they take will be determined I think by this upcoming clash with AIPAC.

BURNETT: Just amazing to put it down into the frames of this event, Israel, and what has become a powerful part of the Democratic Party. Ryan, thank you very much.

And I want everyone to know, again, "The Squad: AOC and the Hope of a Political Revolution," Ryan's book is out today.

And next, we have new details tonight on just how much George Santos is now charging for personalized videos.


SANTOS (singing): Happy birthday to you.


BURNETT: And Kim Jong Un tonight crying, breaking down in front of thousands of women.


BURNETT: Tonight, George Santos' second act. OUTFRONT is learning the disgraced former congressman is receives hundreds and hundreds of requests to record videos on the website, Cameo. His fee has now jumped to $350 up from $250 just this morning.

And Santos is loving it. He's recording his latest videos, including one of him singing his favorite Taylor Swift song for a customer.


SANTOS: My favorite TS song is definitely going to be "Trouble".


I know you were trouble when you walked in. That's me. Bye!


BURNETT: Sunlen Serfaty is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) SANTOS: Happy, happy birthday or I can just do the -- happy birthday to you --

SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Former Congressman George Santos basking in the glow of the spotlight.

SANTOS: Merry Christmas, have a fantastic new year. Mwah! Love you all.

SERFATY: Wearing his new status like a badge of honor.

SANTOS: I was a whole congressman up until last Friday.

SERFATY: As he amplifies and cashes in on his expulsion from Congress.

SANTOS: Hey, look. It is what it is. I'm no longer a congressman.

SERFATY: Santos becoming an overnight star on Cameo, leading to a private lunch with the CEO of the celebrity video message platform today in New York. Demand for a personalized video from Santos so great, his latest fee was $350. Nearly four times what it originally was just two days ago.

SANTOS: Let's talk about best dressed worst dressed, right? Look, Glenn Grothman from the state of Wisconsin and you'll understand what I'm saying when I talk about worst dressed in Congress.

SERFATY: And even as he actively solicits more, a source with knowledge tells CNN that Santos is receiving hundreds and hundreds of requests a day including from his former colleague, Senator John Fetterman, purchasing a video to troll Senator Menendez, who is also under federal indictment.

SANTOS: Hey, Bobby. Look, I don't think I need to tell you, but these people that want to make you get in trouble and want to kick you out and make you run away, you make them put up or shut up.

SERFATY: Santos is quest to blaze his own path, ripping a page out of Trump's own playbook.

SANTOS: You have haters. Let them hate. But just do you, girl. Screw the haters.

SERFATY: Brazen.

SANTOS: To hell with the --

SERFATY: Defiant.

SANTOS: I'm going to make a funny post about roasting Mr. I Am Former Principal and I thought fire alarms opened doors, Jamaal Bowman, which I think should be expelled from Congress next.

SERFATY: And bitter. Threatening to name names and taken down some of his former congressional colleagues with him.

SANTOS: Now, if the House wants to start different precedent and expel me, that is going to be the undoing of a lot of members of this body because this will haunt them in the future.

SERFATY: Santos going after four House members since his departure from Congress, threatening to file ethics complaints against him. All this as Santos leans into the mockery.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everyone, stop assaulting me. I'm being assaulted. This entire country has been bullying me just because I'm a proud, gay thief.


SERFATY: And Santos now as a former congressman, is no longer subject to campaign finance laws and a source tells me he is making a great deal of money off Cameo and he's trying to capitalize it. He was up until 2:00 a.m. last night taping video messages of himself trying to meet the big demand of all these requests -- Erin.

BURNETT: It's actually amazing sometimes you know we do feel like we're living in some sort of a weird world.

All right. Sunlen, thank you very much -- Sunlen Serfaty.

And next, Kim Jong Un, talk about a weird world, caught crying in public, making a desperate plea to the women in his country.


BURNETT: So Kim Jong Un publicly in tears. The North Korea dictator caught crying as he pleaded with women in his country to have more children. At one point, dabbing his eye with a white handkerchief, as he addressed the nation's falling birthrate.

As for Kim himself, South Korean intelligence says he has three children, including a reported 10-year-old daughter we found out about from Dennis Rodman.

Thanks for joining us. Anderson starts now.