Return to Transcripts main page

Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Senator Tim Scott Drops Out of Presidential Race; Dean Phillips Challenges Biden in Primary; Israeli Troops Advance in Gaza Where the W.H.O. Says the Largest Hospital isn't Even Functioning. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 13, 2023 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, ANCHOR, EARLY START: Right now on EARLY START, dropping out. Senator Tim Scott suspending his race for president. Plus --


REP. DEAN PHILLIPS (D-MN): Bidenomics is not working.


HUNT: My one-on-one interview with Dean Phillips who's defying fellow Democrats by challenging President Biden in the primary. And Israeli forces going deeper. Troops advance in Gaza where the W.H.O. says the largest hospital isn't even functioning.

Good morning to our viewers in the United States and around the world, I'm Kasie Hunt. It's Monday, November 13th, and it's 5:00 a.m. here in Washington, also 5:00 a.m. in South Carolina where last night, Senator Tim Scott stunned Republicans and "Fox" host Trey Gowdy by abruptly announcing he was suspending his presidential campaign.

The timing took many of Scott's aides and donors by complete surprise. But it's been pretty clear since last month when a Super PAC supporting Scott canceled a multi-million dollar slate of TV ads. As Scott struggle to be in traction, and fears -- and fiercely negative race, his team worried about whether he'd even qualify for the fourth GOP debate next month.

Scott told "Fox" that he's not going to back another Republican in the race, but that he would try to advance the message about the kind of person that voters should pick.


SEN. TIM SCOTT (R-SC): I am going to remain as committed to making sure that this country chooses the right person. I think what our country is going through right now is a very challenging time, and our goal should be to unite this country and not take advantage of the divisions of this country.

(END VIDEO CLIP) HUNT: Scott also told "Fox", he has no intention of accepting a vice

presidential nomination, reaffirming the position he took on the campaign trail. There are reasons why that he probably wouldn't be offered it, but fair enough.

And Democratic Congressman Dean Phillips is escalating his long-shot challenge to President Biden for the Democratic Party's nomination. Democrats have frankly overwhelmingly rejected Phillips' quixotic campaign. He told me he believes he likely torpedoed his own political career, but he says that Biden's approval numbers are historically low, and that the president is in grave danger of losing to Donald Trump next year.


PHILLIPS: He won by 40,000 votes in 2020 in about three states. I mean, think about that. And I would use a Reagan-esque term, you know, do you think that the president is better positioned now than he was four years ago? Forty thousand votes. I know the answer is no. Most people know the answer is no. So why not have a thoughtful competition to determine who is best positioned?


HUNT: So, basically, Phillips told me that someone with courage had to step up. He has the advantage of having a personal fortune to back it up. We'll have more on that in just a bit. But with less than five days to go before a potential federal government shutdown, house Republicans are working on a two-step plan to try to avert it.

New House Speaker Mike Johnson announced a plan on a GOP conference call, Saturday, saying, quote, "I wasn't the architect of the mess we are in." That's according to a source on the call. The first bill would extend funding until January 19th at the same levels including money for military construction, the VA, Transportation, Housing and the Energy Department.

The second bill would extend funding until February 2nd for the remainder of the government. Neither bill includes additional aid for Ukraine or Israel. All right, let's bring in Farnoush Amiri; she's congressional reporter for "The Associated Press". Farnoush, I guess the good news on the shutdown thing is that we should be clear for the holidays if they can actually manage to get it done.

Let's start there though, how is Speaker Johnson threading the needle on this? Because he's clearly giving in to hardliners on this two-step situation. Is this something the Senate can buy?

FARNOUSH AMIRI, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: I think it's really interesting what he's doing right. He's trying to appease this very -- you know, difficult right-flank of his party by making sure that he's -- you know, it was -- it was a house freedom caucus idea to do this staggering deadline. And so he's able to give them that while still ensuring that if he wants Democrat votes on this, it's a clean CR. You know, it's Nancy Pelosi-era funding for the government. And so, it

would continue all of their priorities, obviously they really wanted to include Israel aid, they really wanted to include Ukraine aid.


But a clean CR is seemingly the only thing that many in the house, both Republican and Democrats can get on board with at this point.

HUNT: Yes, I mean, one thing about the timing here, Farnoush, is that it does, if it passes, it would put it right in the middle of the Republican primary season. Is anybody thinking about that? Does it matter in this context?

AMIRI: I think it's interesting in the way that House Republicans operate. I mean, I don't think that they're thinking about that, and especially because that their priorities will be, you know, funded through that time, and they'll see it as a win for them, right?

If they put the staggering deadlines, they'll be like we forced Democrats, we forced the establishment of Congress to go away from this idea of this massive omnibus around Christmas, which is how they've operated for several years. And this is the kind of establishment Washington behavior that they want to stray-away from.

HUNT: Yes, one thing that I think might be hard for people who unlike you and I don't, you know, know the sort of very specific ins and outs of Congress is, why would hard-line conservatives care that they used this latter way of doing things? Like why does it matter that they would split it into two if the funding levels are just going to stay the same?

I mean, what is the argument from the hard-line conservatives' perspective for why that matters? Or are they just trying to put any kind of points on the board?

AMIRI: I think there is the argument for them as, you know, the way the freedom caucus proposed this is that if you force separate deadlines for obviously really pivotal, I mean, you'll notice that defense is in the latter deadline, which is obviously going to help, you know, a lot of Democrats to be able to support this deal.

But I think the argument for House Freedom Caucus in proposing this was that, you know, we force the ability to passing little subject appropriation bills. That's been there, you know, objective since January. That's why McCarthy was ousted from his job. He was ousted for the exact thing that Mike Johnson is trying to do now, which is pass a clean CR.

But I think the difference this time is that Mike Johnson told them he would have to pass a CR. That he would propose a CR, and that it would have to pass the floor for them to be able to do single subject bills. So, what -- you know, they do after that, I think after that February 2nd deadline is going to be what's interesting.

HUNT: Nothing like objecting to governance by crisis by creating an additional governance crisis which now of course, they have to solve and do exactly the same thing that they fired Kevin McCarthy for. All right, Farnoush Amiri, the "AP", thank you very much for being here. Please come back.

AMIRI: I will.

HUNT: All right, up next, the U.S. carrying out a new round of airstrikes against targets in Syria. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin says the strikes directed by President Biden targeted a training facility and a safe house. The U.S. believes Iran Islamic's -- Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard is responsible for at least 46 rocket and drone launches against U.S. troops in Iraq and Syria since October 17th.

Meanwhile, Israeli troops advanced their ground operation deeper into Gaza. The IDF says the area is now completely encircled and troops are destroying Hamas terror infrastructure. Israel also says 20 Hamas operatives have been arrested including what they call terrorists involved in the October 7th attack. Let's bring in Lieutenant Ben Hodges, former Commander of U.S. Army Forces -- I'm sorry, Lieutenant General Hodges, former Commander of the U.S. Army Forces in Europe.

General, thank you very much for being with us this morning. What message is Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps trying to send with these attacks on U.S. forces? Are they escalating? Are they trying to start a war with the U.S.?

BEN HODGES, FORMER COMMANDER, U.S. ARMY FORCES IN EUROPE: I don't think, Kasie, that they want to start a war with the United States, but I do believe that they are testing, probing to see, you know, where is that point where we will strike back. And so, this gives them some opportunity to demonstrate strength in the face of U.S. deterrence efforts, but I think Secretary Austin and the president have been showing restraint thus far, but they will cross that line pretty soon.

HUNT: Let's talk a little bit about the ground operation that's going on in Gaza as well, because this obviously, as pressure for a ceasefire has mounted, increasingly difficult pictures coming out of the Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza as the medical system is falling apart. But what the Israelis have been doing, you know, there are these tunnels underneath Gaza, including underneath some of these kinds of infrastructure that civilians use. Are they striking the right balance, and how do you think this evolves from here?

HODGES: Well, this is a very difficult situation, but there is no balance. I mean, you can't justify destroying a tunnel and killing dozens or however many innocent people. I mean, the burden is still on Israel just like it would be on U.S. forces or other allied forces to protect civilians even in a case when the enemy, a terrorist organization is using a hospital or humans, innocent people as a shield.


That's -- that is the law and that's who we are, and that's who Israel is going to have to be. And I think the president and Secretary Blinken have been communicating to the Israeli government that, yes, every member of Hamas needs to be killed, of course, but the way that this is being done is not helping make progress towards the real desired end state, which is a peaceful co-existence between Israel and its Arab neighbors.

HUNT: All right, General Ben Hodges, thank you very much for being with us this morning. I hope you'll come back, sir.

HODGES: Thank you for the privilege.

HUNT: All right, coming up here, Don Jr. back in a New York courtroom testifying, this time for the defense. Plus, President Biden and Xi set to meet this week in San Francisco. The stakes are so high for the two leaders. And just in to CNN, a familiar face makes a comeback after a U.K. cabinet shake-up.



HUNT: Welcome back. Just in at this hour, former British Prime Minister David Cameron has been named the new Foreign Secretary in the U.K., this part of a cabinet reshuffle after the Home Secretary was fired just hours ago. Let's bring in Max Foster live in London. Max, good morning, it's always wonderful to see you, can you please explain -- I think I've heard -- you know, David Cameron is a familiar figure to those of us here.

But this reshuffle is very significant in terms of the Israel-Hamas war and the reasons for the firing of the Home Secretary are pretty explosive. What's going on?

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so, this all happened in the last hour, and it's pretty surprising stuff, I have to say if what's being slightly called out particularly by this man, David Cameron coming back as Foreign Secretary. He of course, led the remain campaign as prime minister to stop Britain leaving the European Union, and he lost and he ended up leaving.

But now he's back as Foreign Secretary, quite well respected, I think on the international stage. There was a lobbying scandal though here in the U.K. he was caught up with. So we'll wait to hear what he says about that, and what the reason was that Rishi Sunak hired him again. He's been talking about representing change, Rishi Sunak, and I think David Cameron really doesn't represent any sort of change.

But this came out of -- happened at reshuffle, and the early headline was the Home Secretary Suella Braverman had been fired. A very controversial divisive figure, not just in the U.K., but also in the Conservative Party. Her least -- her most recent controversy was leading up to the weekend protest, the Palestinian protest. She accused the police of being biased in the way they police these protests, and not clamping down on Palestinian protestors in the same way as they did on right-wing protesters. The Labor Party accused her of inciting protests over the weekend and

violence and protests. The police refused to change their policing, and they were vindicated really over the weekend when there were big protests, and there were generally peaceful with only a few arrests over the weekend.

So, a big change here, just to add the previous Foreign Secretary is now the current Home Secretary, that is Mr. Cleverly, of course. So, a big shift here and quite surprising I have to say.

HUNT: Indeed, thank you for -- I mean, this has all been -- you know, our viewers can't see that we've been scrambling on this for the last half an hour. So, we really appreciate you being on top of the breaking news. Max, while I have you, I want to ask you about something our Dana Bash pressed Netanyahu on over the weekend.

She -- you know, really tried to talk to him about whether he would take any responsibility for what happened in the October 7th attacks. That reckoning has been kind of looming out there. It's been put on hold a little bit while the Israelis have waged this war. But he really was not willing to take any of it on. Take a look at how Netanyahu answered her questions.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER, ISRAEL: I've already addressed that many times, and I said this whole question will be addressed after the war. Just as people would --


NETANYAHU: Ask -- well, did people ask Franklin Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor that question? Did people ask George Bush after the surprise attack of November 11th? Look, it's a question that needs to be asked. And these questions will be asked --

BASH: I think those questions were asked --

NETANYAHU: And we're going to answer all these questions, including me, I'm going to be asked tough questions. Right now, I think what we have to do is unite the country for one purpose, one purpose alone, and that is to achieve victory.


HUNT: It's been a minute, honestly, since the attacks of October 7th, and to Dana's point, a lot of these questions were asked, at least, I know here in the United States in the wake of September 11th. What do you make of what he had to say?

FOSTER: Well, I don't think he's got much option. If you look at the polling within Israel, there is support for the invasion, as a lot of support for the IDF, the military, very little support for Benjamin Netanyahu. His polling numbers are very low, and they were really low before the war as well. He knows that he is on borrowed time politically. That's what a lot of the analysts I'm speaking to are saying within

Israel. So, he has to put off this reckoning as you described it, and that's the only way he can do it. So, let's talk about the intelligence failures later on. He's also got to come up with some answers for it, because he was the prime minister during these Intelligence failures.

But he's also suggested that he wasn't warned at all. It was the Intelligence agencies that failed on this. So, at some point, he's going to have to address it, but he's just trying to put it off, I think that's the headline here, that's my interpretation anyway.

HUNT: Yes, and he's had to kind of walk back some of those comments he's made about the Intelligence agencies. You -- and you and I have talked extensively about how, you know, intelligence can also be reflective of political decision-making, that basically, the political government had focused its intelligence services on it, was paying attention to a different area in the West Bank instead of Gaza, that's -- you know, not just to the people that are actually gathering the information. Max Foster, thank you very much my friend, always great to have you --

FOSTER: Thanks, Kasie.


HUNT: See you tomorrow. All right, more ahead on Tim Scott suspending his presidential campaign. The timing came as a big surprise to some key people.


HUNT: Welcome back. Quick hits across America now. Donald Trump Jr. will be the first defense witness to take the stand today in the New York civil fraud case against his family and their businesses. He's denied any role in preparing financial statements when called by the prosecution earlier this month.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams says he'll work with investigators after a "New York Times" article revealed he's under a federal corruption probe. And issue is whether Adams pressured officials to open Turkey's new consulate despite safety concerns.


It's part of a broader investigation into campaign fundraising and foreign money. And the man known as the QAnon Shaman wants to be a congressman. Jacob Chansley, the horn-hatted symbol of a Capitol riot has filed paperwork to run for Arizona's 8th District as a libertarian. He was sentenced to 41 months in prison for his role on January 6th, he was released to a halfway house in March.

All right, heavy rain battling the house -- the Gulf Coast, a region that has experienced significant drought this Fall. Let's get straight to our weather man Derek Van Dam. Derek, happy Monday to you. What's the latest out there? DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, to say that the Gulf Coast needs

rain is the understatement of the year. This place is parched, arid, it is bone dry, it is thirsty, thank you Webster dictionary for all the synonyms this morning. But this is really putting it in context. New Orleans, you're running nearly 30 inches of rain under your normal year-to-date rainfall.

More of the same for like Charles, Jackson, Birmingham and Nashville, Impressive rainfall deficits across this area, and guess what? We've got a drought buster on the way. Rain is moving in across these parched regions of the Gulf Coast, across Louisiana where much of the state is steeped within this exceptional drought. Something we haven't seen in decades.

Heavy rain, flash flooding, maybe a little bit too much of a good thing though. This rain will continue through the course of the morning, cause the problems on i10. And look at the moisture, just kind of streaming into the southeast as well in the coming days. So perhaps, bringing some rainfall into Pensacola, all the way to Atlanta eventually, into the Florida Panhandle as well.

And our rainfall totals here as Kasie just mentioned, anywhere from 4 to upwards of 6 inches locally. Now, on a broader picture, we have a beautiful start to the work week across the central parts of the country. A bit of light rain through the northeast, particularly into northern New England, and I want to get you a quick look at your temperatures to start your Monday just right, will be in the upper 40s to lower 50s along the East Coast, slightly warmer along the south coast. And there's the temperatures in the Middle 60s across the nation's mid section. Kasie?

HUNT: I will say I woke up to Winter this morning here in Washington. So, for those of --

VAN DAM: Oh, there you go --

HUNT: For those of -- those of you who are heading out, I would recommend a coat. Weatherman Derek Van Dam, thank you very much from me --

VAN DAM: You're welcome.

HUNT: See you tomorrow my friend, all right, cheers.

VAN DAM: All right --

HUNT: Up next, a 3-year-old American being held hostage by Hamas. We've got details on the latest hostage talks. And what President Biden's latest Democratic challenger says about his campaign for 2024.