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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Biden: "I Think We Need A Pause" In Gaza To Get Prisoners Out; Rep. George Santos (R-NY) Survives Vote To Expel Him From Congress; Texas Rangers Claim First World Series Title. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 02, 2023 - 05:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Those who came through on Wednesday -- they were the first non-hostages to exit Gaza since the war began more than three weeks ago.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: American citizens were able to exit today as part of the first group of probably over 1,000. We'll see more of this process going on in the coming days. We're working nonstop to get Americans out of Gaza as soon and as safely as possible.


HUNT: Joining us now, Clare Sebastian live in London. Clare, good morning to you.

What is the latest in the region with this Rafah Crossing, especially ahead of the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken visiting on Friday?

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Kasie. So on top of the 361 people -- those foreign passport holders that were able to leave Gaza on Wednesday -- we do expect to see more coming through today just sort of figuring out exactly how that's going to work. This is a very fluid situation. Things have not proceeded exactly as expected.

For example, on Wednesday, they were not expecting any Americans to be able to leave, but a couple were able to. And the U.S. has said it does expect to see more foreign passport holders leaving in the coming days. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry has said that it is working to try to get 7,000 foreign passport holders from more than 60 countries out of Gaza. So this -- I think we've just seen the very early stages of what is a very big operation and a very tightly controlled one.

Egypt is vetting everyone who comes through. There are concerns, obviously, that Hamas had originally demanded that its own fighters be included in the injured Palestinians that were coming out. That demand was rejected. And, of course, Egypt, in the backdrop to all of this, is their concerns about a potential influx of refugees. But I will say although this is a major diplomatic breakthrough and we hadn't seen, as you say, anyone apart from a handful of hostages exit the Gaza Strip in the 3 1/2 weeks since this conflict started, it does not really do anything to alleviate the humanitarian disaster that is unfolding in Gaza. Aid trucks are coming in but at such a slow rate that aid agencies are warning that the situation continues to spiral.

The Palestinian Red Crescent said 55 trucks came in on Wednesday but only some 270 so far, which is less than Gaza used to get before this conflict in a single day, Kasie. So you get a sense of the difficulties there.

HUNT: Yeah, just a remarkable split. And honestly, the humanitarian situation helps explain why the president here in the U.S. was confronted by a rabbi protesting at what was going on.

Clare Sebastian, thank you very much for your report. I really appreciate it.

And here at home, Donald Trump Jr. will be back in a New York courtroom today for a second day of testimony in the civil fraud trial against the family and Trump Organization. The lawsuit accuses Trump Jr. and his brother Eric of a scheme to inflate their father's net worth. The aim, to gain benefits like better loan and insurance terms. Eric Trump is set to take the stand today.

Let's bring in former Manhattan prosecutor Jeremy Saland. Jeremy, thank you very much for being here.

So what did we hear from Donald Trump Jr. yesterday? I mean, apparently, he told the court he was never involved in the preparation of his father's financial statements even after he became a trustee of business affairs for Trump Organization. He said, quote, "The accountants worked on it. That's what we pay them for."

Does this defense seem like it might work?

JEREMY SALAND, FORMER MANHATTAN PROSECUTOR (via Webex by Cisco): Well, I expect them all to sort of have this same theme, which I've said repeatedly and I'll say it again here -- is Donald Trump Jr. is basically admitting what he can't deny and denying what he can't admit. \\

He has to say I signed off on these documents. I attested to the financial conditions of the company. But at the same time, what I have to say or deny or is that I am responsible and I was knowledgeable. I was relying on Weisselberg. I was relying on the accountants.

So I expect this line of testimony. Whether, ultimately, the judge finds it credible -- this isn't a jury that's going to be easily bamboozled. I'm not saying, in fact, that's what's going on -- the judge will decide that. But certainly, there will be credibility issues that judge is going to make a decision about.

HUNT: Yeah. Let's talk about Ivanka for a second, too, because clearly, her father does not want her to have to testify here and she is appealing the judge's ruling that she has to, even though she's not -- she's not a defendant anymore. The claims were apparently too old. She hasn't lived in New York since 2017.

Do you think she's got any hope of staying off the witness stand?

SALAND: I think she's a material witness and she's someone that the court is going to want to hear from and rightfully should hear from.

Donald Trump is concerned the more his children or anyone testifies there's a risk of inconsistencies. There's a risk of something being exposed if true. So there is a real concern that intimate knowledge or an intimate relationship with their father and with the Trump Organization will be exposed potentially. So he absolutely wants her off.


Do I think that's going to be successful? I would expect that, like her siblings, she will ultimately testify.

HUNT: Yes. Certainly going to be an interesting couple of days in that courtroom.

Let's go out West though for a second, Jeremy, because the other thing that's been unfolding on a legal front -- on the Trump legal front, I should say, this week is that 14th Amendment case in Colorado to try to keep Trump off the ballot because of the constitutional ban on insurrections -- insurrectionists holding office.

There was an expert that testified basically saying that this is a very broad claim in the 14th Amendment and that it should be enough to keep Trump off the ballot.

Trump's lawyers, though, say that he -- this is all just ordinary political speech. Take a look at what they had to say.


SCOTT GESSLER, TRUMP ATTORNEY: There is no call to violence. And everything that Trump says -- "fight" is a common, common political metaphor meaning it's a political fight.


HUNT: So, who has the winning argument here in your view?

SALAND: Well, there's a -- there's a case that's called Brandenburg v. Ohio. There's a -- there's a -- is there an imminent threat or likelihood that what the -- in this case, the former president said that would incite this insurrection and violence? That's the real threshold question.

You heard from experts who said it doesn't have to be the actual physical violence that occurs. There has been the history of $100 gift if you will to a child during the Civil War in the South. There has been a letter to the editor -- again, these are 100 years ago -- more than 100 years ago -- reflecting this incitement.

So I think it's a hard -- a hard thing to get to. I think that it's likely not going to happen -- to be kept off the ballot. But it's obviously sort of a test for the first time because you rarely see these things happening at all, at least not in terms of the former President of the United States. But he would likely qualify and should qualify.

I don't think it ultimately reaches that threshold even if people can have a moral or a -- or a physical, or an unfortunate response to what occurred. It's a -- it's a difficult test. It's a difficult test to pass.

HUNT: All right, Jeremy Saland. Thank you very much for being up early with us to give us your insights. I really appreciate it. I hope you'll come back.

SALAND: My pleasure.

HUNT: And now this. George Santos will remain Congressman Santos, at least for now. The embattled New York Republican survived a House vote to expel him on Wednesday night. The final vote tally, 179-213, falling short of the two-third supermajority that would have been needed to kick him out.

Santos is facing a wide range of criminal charges from conspiracy and wire fraud to falsification of records. He has pleaded not guilty to all of them.

Here's what Santos had to say after this vote.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): I'm not claiming a victory, I'm just saying that this is a victory for the process. Due process won today; not George Santos.

Do you have a question?

REPORTER: I mean, you accuse those who are trying to expel you of lying. You lied to your constituents. Why not resign?

SANTOS: Well, I'm not resigning because I was duly elected. And as far as -- unless you're the ultimate end-all-be-all arbitrator of truth, then I -- I'm not debating this in the press.


HUNT: All right, let's bring in Mychael Schnell. She's a congressional reporter for The Hill. Mychael, good -- thank you for being here this morning.

There's a lot here. I think the most interesting part of what's going on with Santos right now is that it wasn't just Democrats -- it wasn't a situation where Democrats were trying to throw him out of Congress. I mean, look, if anything, Democrats are happy to have him sit in that seat and cause problems for Republicans so they can maybe win it back. And that's really what happened here. It was Republicans in New York who are also trying to hold onto competitive seats who want this guy gone because he's a massive political problem for them.

MYCHAEL SCHNELL, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, THE HILL: Yeah, Kasie, that's exactly right. Look, it's worth noting that this was the second attempt to expel George Santos this year.

Back in May, the House weighed in on a similar resolution. A large difference between the two, though, was that the May resolution was led by a Democrat. As you mentioned, this resolution was led by a group of New York Republicans -- freshman New York Republicans -- the closest colleagues to George Santos in terms of class and state.

And that brought in a larger significance to it and it translated to the final vote tally as opposed to, in May, when no Republicans supported an effort to -- no Republicans opposed an effort to quash that Santos resolution. We actually saw a contingent of Republicans support this resolution and this effort to oust Santos this time around.

You talk about the political implications. I spoke to one congressman yesterday -- one of those New York Republicans, Congressman Nick LaLota. And he sort of explained it as a natural disaster. That individuals who are close to the natural disaster -- who the state legislature -- where the state is having a natural disaster -- they feel that more and their constituents of neighboring districts are calling about it more.


TEXT: Rep. Anthony D'Esposito, Rep. Nick LaLota, Rep. Marc Molinaro, Rep. Brandon Williams, Rep. Mike Lawler.

SCHNELL: They're essentially saying that they are uniquely impacted by this situation with Santos -- the scrutiny that Santos has received up on Capitol Hill -- which is why they found and believed that it was their responsibility now and why they decided to go ahead and launch this effort to try to expel him.

HUNT: So we did hear from Santos talking basically about those five that we just showed on the screen -- the group that were behind this resolution. Take a look at what Santos had to say about his group.


SANTOS: My colleagues in New York did this because it is politically expedient for them. They have an election coming up.


HUNT: Uh, so -- I mean, he is acknowledging reality, it seems, there. My question, too, for you I think is he -- these Republicans say that

this is a moral issue, not just a political issue. They pushed back on Santos for that. The new Speaker of the House -- part of me wonders if he isn't more inclined to ultimately back efforts to get Santos out of Congress than Kevin McCarthy was.

I'm wondering what your reporting is along those lines.

SCHNELL: Well, I think that there's a really significant factor here Kasie, and that's the fact that the Ethics Committee is very close to announcing an update in its monthslong investigation into Santos, which many folks believe, including those New York Republicans who I spoke with yesterday -- they think that's going to be the final report of their investigation and they're expecting it to be very damning.

So, when you were dealing with Kevin McCarthy and when he was faced with this same predicament of an expulsion resolution against George Santos, he motioned to table it. And he had deferred to that Ethic Committee, saying that the legal process should play out.

Now, of course, we have Mike Johnson, newly-minted speaker. Within his first week on the job, the Ethics Committee came out and said we're going to announce the next -- the next course of action in our investigation by November 17, roughly two weeks away. Again, a lot of folks are expecting that to be a damning final report.

So Johnson is sort of in a different situation because it seems like there's a light at the end of this Santos tunnel, right? It seems like there is an answer to the question many folks are wondering. Did he actually commit crimes here? Is he actually responsible for any wrongdoing here?

And unlike McCarthy, where it was unclear where we could get that answer to those questions, it seems like we're going to have an answer very quickly, which could make matters more clear for Mike Johnson.

HUNT: All right, that's -- November 17 -- that's also a funding deadline I think, so I guess we're going to have --

SCHNELL: That's true.

HUNT: -- have a lot of trauma that week.

SCHNELL: Big day. Big day.

HUNT: Mychael Schnell, of The Hill. Thank you very much for being with us this morning. I really appreciate it.

All right. Up next here, President Biden telling supporters that he favors a pause in Gaza. More on what that could mean, up next.

And Nikki Haley tunes up for next week -- next week's debate. She visits "THE DAILY SHOW." We'll show you some of that.



HUNT: Welcome back.

A remarkable moment overnight at a closed-door fundraiser in Minneapolis. President Biden was interrupted by an audience member.


RABBI JESSICA ROSENBERG: Mr. President, if you cared about Jewish people, as a rabbi, I need you to call for a ceasefire right now.




HUNT: The group behind that posted that video on X overnight. Some of it was hard to hear. She shouted, quote, "As a rabbi, I need you to call for a ceasefire right now." The group is called Jewish Voice for Peace.

Inside the fundraiser, Mr. -- President Biden replied this way. Quote, "I think we need a pause. A pause means give time to get the prisoners out."

Let's bring in Catherine Lucey, White House reporter at The Wall Street Journal. Catherine, good morning. It's always great to have you here.

This moment, I think, distills pretty succinctly the pressure that the president is under right now.

CATHERINE LUCEY, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL (via Webex by Cisco): Absolutely, and you could really feel even in that short video the emotion in that room, Kasie.

And yes, the president spoke about a humanitarian pause. Administration officials have said a pause like that would basically allow hostages to get out of Gaza safely and humanitarian aid to get in.

Obviously, the context here is the president has been very clear about his support for Israel's right to defend itself and the White House has said they won't tell Israel how to conduct military operations. But he is under rising pressure from human rights groups and some members of his own party to talk about and to address the -- you know, the rising humanitarian crisis here.

And you heard some other comments from yesterday. He has talked about getting aid into Gaza, a two-state solution. And yesterday, he did say, as well, this is complicated for the Israelis and the Muslim world, and again said he supports a two-state solution.

HUNT: Right. And, I mean, we have been hearing some things along these lines from the administration almost from the beginning, where they initially went in -- when they -- when they sent officials to Israel. The president himself visited Israel. And the message was Israel is going to follow the laws of war, unlike Hamas in their terror attack -- and this was very important.

They are sending Antony Blinken back to the region. He'll be there on Friday in Israel.

I mean, what's your reporting around what his message is going to be to the Israelis?

LUCEY: I mean, I think they are continuing to try and walk this line of support while really calling for the ability to get aid in, get hostages, and get Americans and other folks out of Gaza.

You know, we saw the president last week met at the White House with Muslim-American leaders, which was an interesting moment, as he's trying to address this. A lot of those folks think that the response so far on civilian casualties has been inadequate.


Our reporting on that meeting was that leaders really pressed Biden on showing more empathy. They spoke about calling for a ceasefire. We reported that he was receptive but, obviously, he has made no commitments on a ceasefire and that's not something we're hearing from them.

HUNT: Right. I mean, the distinction between ceasefire and pause may seem semantic but it's a critical one in terms of how the administration is trying to show that they support the Israelis.

Very briefly, Catherine, how is this playing politically in terms of, honestly, progressives in his party? I mean, the president has had challenges with them kind of all the way along.

LUCEY: No, I -- that's a really important and interesting question. Just purely politically, he's seen a lot of (INAUDIBLE) from progressives. And that includes, as you know, a lot of younger people.

And specifically, there's some polling suggesting his support is dropping among Arab-Americans. There was a poll out yesterday by the Arab American Institute, which showed his support had fallen 17 percent. And obviously, that's a key voting group in some important battleground states like Michigan, for example.

HUNT: Yeah, very much so.

All right, Catherine Lucey of The Wall Street Journal. Thank you very much as always, my friend. I really appreciate you being here.

LUCEY: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Up next here, the death of a sports legend. Bobby Knight remembered.



HUNT: Welcome back.

Republican presidential hopeful on the rise, Nikki Haley, getting in on the debate over Ron DeSantis' choice of footwear. During an appearance on "THE DAILY SHOW" last night, the former U.N. ambassador asked by guest host Charlamagne tha God about a possible strategy going to -- into next week's debate in Miami.


CHARLAMAGNE THA GOD, GUEST HOST, "THE DAILY SHOW": Are you wearing higher heels than Ron DeSantis next week at the debate so you can look taller than him on the stage?

NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: (Laughing) I don't know. We'll have to -- we'll have to figure that out. I can tell you I've always talked about my high heels. I've never hid that from anybody. I've always said don't wear them if you can't run in them. So we'll see if he can run in them.


HUNT: "We'll see if he can run in them."

Of course, Haley is nipping at DeSantis' heels and some polling shows her even with him in early states.

DeSantis still taking some heat for wearing white boots last year during a visit to check on Hurricane Ian damage. We might be able to show you those. But most recently, it's actually been about the height of the heels of his cowboy boots. He claims that they're off-the-rack Lucchese. But if you want to dig up those photos, Google it. You decide for yourself if there's risers in those boots.

All right, to sports now. Baseball's second-longest title drought is over. The Texas Rangers are World Series champions for the first time.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Hey, Andy.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, Kasie. You know -- so I was at the 2011 World Series where the Rangers were one strike away from winning their first World Series title and then infamously blew it, and that was certainly devastating. But those Texans fans who lived through that heartbreak can finally rejoice as they are champions for the first time in their history.

The Rangers, though -- they're actually being a no-hit by Zac Gallen through six innings last night. But in the seventh, Corey Seager -- just one of the most clutch postseason performers of all time -- comes through with the single there. He would score two batters later.

Then the Rangers breaking it open in the ninth. Marcus Semien, the two-run home run. He had a great series. That made it 5-0. And that would be the final score as the Rangers would rejoice after recording the final out. They win the series in five.

And just what a turnaround. Texas lost 94 games last year -- the worst record ever for a team the season before winning it all.

Seager would be your World Series MVP -- the second time in his career he's done that.

And manager Bruce Bochy, coming out of retirement, wins his fourth World Series title in his first year with the Rangers.


BRUCE BOCHY, FOURTH WORLD SERIES TITLE, FIRST WITH TEXAS: It's special. I'm not going to lie, it's special. To come here in my first year with a team that was determined to play winning baseball and had never won a championship. But as far as me, that's a byproduct of what those guys did out there and what the front office did. I was along for the ride, trust me.

COREY SEAGER, 2023 WORLD SERIES MVP: It truly is incredible. But it's not just me, man. What this team did and how we competed, and all of the guys in there rallying. We don't really have one leader. That whole clubhouse is the leadership. They're all professionals in there and we all knew we had a job and a task at hand and we competed and we did. It's pretty cool.


SCHOLES: Yeah. And the party is going to keep on rolling right into the weekend. Arlington is going to throw a championship parade for the team at 12:15 Central tomorrow afternoon.

All right, the sports world, meanwhile, mourning the loss of legendary basketball coach Bobby Knight. According to his family, Knight passed away at his home in Bloomington yesterday surrounded by loved ones.

The General, as he was called, began his coaching career at Army before leading the Hoosiers to five Final Fours and three national titles, including a perfect 32-0 season in 1976, which remains the last undefeated season in men's college hoops. He also led Team USA to Olympic gold in 1984 coaching Michael Jordan.

Knight's tactics as coach often went over the edge, ultimately leading to his dismissal from Indiana in 2000. He would end his career at Texas Tech, finishing with 902 wins, the sixth-most of all time.

Fellow Hall of Fame Coach Mike Krzyzewski, who played under Knight at Army, releasing a statement saying, in part, that Knight had a profound impact on his life and career and was clearly one of a kind.


Bob Knight was 83 years old.

And Kasie, I worked -- I worked in Lubbock, Texas right after Knight retired, but he was still around. And I'll tell you what, anytime you saw Bob Knight in person you were just in awe. He had such a powerful presence.

HUNT: He did. Controversial at times but also legendary.


HUNT: All right, Andy Scholes. Thank you very much for that.

And thanks to all of you for joining us this morning. I'm Kasie Hunt. Don't go anywhere. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.