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Inside Politics

Four Hamas Hostages Freed, 200 Plus Still Being Held Captive; House GOP Picks Rep. Tom Emmer As Its Speaker Nominee; Ex-Trump Lawyer Jenna Ellis Pleads Guilty In GA Election Case; Michael Cohen To Testifying Against Trump In NY Fraud Trial. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired October 24, 2023 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Four hostages, two American and two Israeli, have now been released by Hamas. But Israel says there are at least 200 more hostages still being held in Gaza. I'm joined now by Uri Rawitz, whose mother, Elma Avram (ph), is believed to be one of them. She was kidnapped from her kibbutz Nahal Oz.

Uri, thank you so much for joining me. I really appreciate it. When I --

URI RAWITZ, FAMILY MEMBERS MISSING: Thank you for having me.

BASH: Thank you. When I see these -- the images and hear the words of the 85-year-old who was released, of course, I go to people -- it's wonderful, but then I go to people like your mother who again is about her age, 84 years old --

RAWITZ: Exactly. Yes.

BASH: -- what goes through your mind at this moment?

RAWITZ: Well, I'm very worried about my mom and I'm very afraid. I know she was taken from her house more than two weeks ago without medicine. I don't know what is her condition. Obviously, we don't have any connection. We don't have any knowledge what's going on with her.

We just saw an image, a photo of her two and a half weeks ago, sitting on a motorcycle with two Hamas terrorist people who put guns against her, guns against her, and we are really, really worried about it. We don't know what's going on there, and it's a horror.

BASH: We're showing our viewers that picture that you just discussed. I mean --


BASH: -- for anybody to imagine seeing their elderly parent being taken away on a motorcycle by terrorists is just unimaginable.

RAWITZ: Yes. BASH: The fact that we --

RAWITZ: It is unimaginable.

BASH: The fact that you did see somebody about your mother's age released and she did say that she --


BASH: -- was cared for, if you want to use that term, does that give you hope for your mother?

RAWITZ: Well, I don't know that woman who released had a husband, who the Hamas give them there already. So obviously, she is a still hostage. I mean, she's released, but her husband is still there and she was says as well that she was beaten. She was taking through kilometers under the -- in the tunnel, under the earth in Gaza.

And so I was very, very worried about my mom and how she's dealing with that situation, if she was beating or taking, walking because my mother, she couldn't walk. She has a very bad condition in her leg. She's suffering from a disease who hurt her legs. So I'm very, very worried about it.

And, well, obviously that woman said that the Hamas will take care of them, but I'm not sure if she can really get a real -- how should I say it, a very clear testimony about the condition. They keep her husband there.


BASH: Yes. I know what you're saying.

RAWITZ: That's all I suggest.

BASH: Yes.

RAWITZ: So, I don't know. If they don't tell her, we'll tell the world that we take care --

BASH: Yes.

RAWITZ: -- of the people there. But if you don't, you know what I mean.

BASH: Understand. Absolutely. And we certainly don't want to shed doubt on her account of what happened, but keeping in mind that they still have her husband and she wants her husband to be treated well and survive --

RAWITZ: Exactly.

BASH: -- is very, very important.

RAWITZ: Exactly. Exactly.

BASH: An important factor to keep in mind. What have you heard --

RAWITZ: The Hamas want to give to someone the humanitarian image from the world, but, you know, I don't know what's going on there exactly.

BASH: What have you heard, if anything, from Israeli officials about the status at all of your mother? Do they have any information that they have been able to share with you?

OK, we're having some connection issues from Yuri. We will try to get that re-established. We're going to take a quick break, and we'll be right back.



BASH: Welcome back to CNN's Inside Politics. I want to get straight back to Manu Raju, who is on Capitol Hill. Manu, what happened with that vote we were just discussing for Tom Emmer?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, a problem for Tom Emmer on the House floor. He does not have the 217 votes to be elected speaker. There is an ongoing vote at the moment, a roll call vote in which members are saying whether or not they will vote for Tom Emmer, who is the Republican nominee to be speaker.

He just won that nomination contest. But now the question is, will they vote for him on the House floor in a straight party line vote. He can only afford to lose four votes, but we are told that he has lost about 10 right now. That is according to Congressman Dan Meuser. He's a Pennsylvania Republican and initially had run for speaker. He dropped out himself.

But Meuser just told me and a bunch of reporters just moments ago that about 10 members have said that they will actually vote against Emmer on the floor. He said they're not just the hard-right members, the House Freedom Caucus members, the ones who do ended Kevin McCarthy's speakership.

He said there are a whole different range of members, perhaps have a different range of issues. Some of them had told me prior to this that they have concerns about some of his votes on spending, on codifying same sex marriage. We'll see if that's the reason why.

But ultimately here, this is the issue for Emmer. He does not have the votes at the moment, which raises questions. Can he get the votes? What assurances can he give the members to get the 217 votes? How long will it take to go to the floor and try to reopen the House? All huge questions as we get into yet another period of uncertainty for the House Republicans.

Even though Tom Emmer is close to becoming speaker, simply not there yet given enough opposition in the narrowly divided Republican House, indicating that Emmer is still short around 10 votes or so to becoming speaker of the House. We'll see if he ultimately gets there and how the rest of the day plays out here now, Dana. BASH: And just to underscore what you're saying, when you were on a short while ago, we were talking about whether they would do a secret ballot behind closed doors to see if Congressman Emmer can get that to 17. It turns out that they're doing what's known as a roll call vote. So they're doing kind of what we saw happen in public over and over again, just with Republicans to test in a way that they didn't do before. And he doesn't have it.

RAJU: Yes.

BASH: So, we, as a country, at this moment, despite having yet another nominee by Republicans to be speaker of the House are still in limbo three weeks in.

RAJU: Yes. That's exactly right. And they're doing this as a reason to pressure those members instead of doing by secret ballot and they wouldn't know who's opposing Tom Emmer. They're making it very publicly behind closed doors so the -- Emmer will know which members he has to go to flip.

If he has around 10 or so, that means he has to flip about six to come his directions. But what assurance is going to give them? Will he get there on issues such as demands that some of these members have made on spending issues and the like? That could take some time to play out.

And all the while, all those huge, pressing national issues, whether it's aid to Israel, aid to Ukraine, taking steps to avoid a mid- November government shutdown, none of that can get done until the Republicans are able to figure out and -- this leadership crisis that was started at the hands of one of their members.

Can they get there? Such a huge question at this moment. Is Tom Emmer still short the 217 votes? We'll see what his next steps are as they still meet and huddle behind closed doors here, Dana.

BASH: Three weeks in, no speaker. They're on their four -- excuse me, their third nominee post, Kevin McCarthy and TBD on whether he can get the votes.

Manu, you're amazing, as always. Thank you so much. We'll be right back.



BASH: Another stunning development today in the Georgia case against former President Donald Trump. Ex-Trump Attorney Jenna Ellis pleaded guilty for her role in the scheme to overturn the state's 2020 election results.

CNN's Nick Valencia is live outside the Fulton County Courthouse. Nick, what happened?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Jenna, this deal came together very, very quickly, just like other deals in this case have. There was rumors last week that Jenna Ellis's defense attorneys were in discussions with the district attorney's office here in Fulton County. But we never were able to get confirmation.

And then this morning during a stakeout, we saw one of the lead prosecutors for the D.A.'s office entered the courtroom alongside Jenna Ellis's defense attorneys. All these similar trappings of past plea deals. So we had an indication that's exactly what was going to happen.

I was the only correspondent in court to hear Jenna Ellis's tearful apology. It was unprecedented. The first time that we heard from one of these co-defendants in this case speak in open court. And before she opened her mouth, we could tell it was going to be emotional.


JENNA ELLIS, TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: What I did not do, but should have done, Your Honor, was to make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true. I believe in and I value election integrity. If I knew then what I know now, I would have declined to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges. I look back on this whole experience with deep remorse.



VALENCIA: Jenna Ellis implicated the former attorney for Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani in her plea deal saying that she helped him give false statements to Georgia lawmakers when they met on three different occasions after Trump's 2020 election loss.

As part of this plea deal, Jenna Ellis is just like the others who have taken plea deals from the district attorney's office, going to have to write a letter of apology, do some community service about 100 hours, pay a $5,000 fine. But most importantly, just like the others, she's going to have to be a witness for the state here in future trials and proceedings.

And just one very quick note, we did reach out to Rudy Giuliani to see if he had any reaction to Jenna Ellis's plea agreement. He did not respond, but he has said previously that he is not guilty to the accusations against him. Dana?

BASH: Thank you so much for that reporting, Nick.

I want to go now to New York, where former Trump attorney and fixer Michael Cohen is testifying in a different case, a New York civil fraud trial against his former boss. This is the first time in five years that Cohen and Trump are in the same room together.

Let's go to Brynn Gingras who is live outside that courthouse. Brynn?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Dana. Yes, Michael Cohen on the stand as we speak. And the New York Attorney General's Office has started its line of questioning, starting with Cohen's 2018 federal convictions. Clearly a strategy there, as we've seen in public, Trump's team sort of go after the fact that Cohen is a convicted felon, questioning his credibility as it pertains to this case.

But next up, Cohen has been talking about what he did for the Trump Organization, saying of course, as we know, that he was Trump's personal attorney, that he was in the room with him all the time, having discussions, making decisions, resolving any issues that brought Trump ire.

And this is what's going to be pivotal to this case for the New York Attorney General's Office because they say he's had many conversations, Cohen, with Trump about his net worth, about of fudging financials for Trump. And so this is what is really at the center of this case, but certainly a dramatic moment as these two men have not been in the same room in five years, Dana.

Of course, we've seen them go at each other in public, whether it be social media or in interviews, but certainly, this is the first time they are face to face with Michael Cohen on the stand and turning against his former boss. Dana?

BASH: High drama where you are, Brynn. Thank you so much for that.

Now, we want to go back to the breaking news we've been bringing you this hour, that House Republicans have picked Congressman Tom Emmer to be their speaker nominee. The question is, can he get enough votes from the whole House, the majority of the votes there, to be the actual speaker?

I want to bring in Steve Womack, Republican of Arkansas. Thank you so much, sir, for being here. You just had a vote behind closed doors. What happened there?

REP. STEVE WOMACK (R-AR): Had a lot of votes. And so, what happened was we had nine last night that made presentations to the full caucus, our Republican Conference. One dropped out during that time frame, Dan Meuser of Pennsylvania.

Then we came back this morning. We had eight and then they made their presentations and then we started voting. And one by one, the person who got the least amount of votes in that round would be dropped out.

BASH: Right.

WOMACK: And then, as we got a little bit closer, there were a couple of others that threw their weight behind Mr. Emmer and -- for the good of the Conference and decided to end their candidacies. And then Mike Johnson, who finished as the runner up, basically conceded to Mr. Emmer and threw his support behind Mr. Emmer.

And then Mr. Emmer requested a roll call vote so that the members present, no longer by secret ballot but by name, were called out and had to disclose which way they were voting. And Mr. Emmer, who is clearly our speaker designee, came up significantly short of the requisite 217 votes to be able to become the speaker of the House. And that's what happened just a few minutes ago.


BASH: So what's next?

WOMACK: So what's next? I think Mr. Emmer has the right and certainly should meet with the people who were not supporting him in a private conference by roll call vote. Get an opportunity to kind of hear them out. See where they are. See if there's something that can be done or said that could bring those individuals into his camp and get us closer to the requisite 217. Because if you don't have 217 votes out of the whole House, you're simply not going to make it.

BASH: Congressman, how urgent is it, three weeks in, to get this behind you?

WOMACK: Well, look, I think that's in the eyes of the beholder, you know.

BASH: What do you think?

WOMACK: For a lot -- for a lot of us, we -- we'd like to get this put to bed. We'd like to get this behind us. We'd like to get the House open and functioning. There's a lot of things going on around the world. There are issues that we have right here at home that need to be addressed, and that simply cannot happen if the House of Representatives is not functioning.


But we have some pretty hardnosed, dug-in people on our side of the aisle that are standing in the way of Mr. Emmer getting 217 votes.

So he's got a lot of work to do in the next hour or two perhaps. And maybe if he could shore up some of those -- or if, in fact, some of those votes were just merely protest votes, just to be able to call out Mr. Emmer, then shore that up, find out what the real accurate count is, and then make a calculated decision as to whether we come to the House floor and open the floor and have the roll call vote among all the House.

BASH: It doesn't sound like the chaos that has been oozing out of that side of the Capitol has -- you mentioned earlier in the week, maybe it was last week that whether -- that you hope that Republicans have learned your lessons.

Unfortunately, we're out of time, but it doesn't sound like as of this moment that has happened, but maybe in the next couple of hours that will change.


WOMACK: I think that's an accurate portrayal of where we stand. Yes.

BASH: Congressman, thank you so much.

WOMACK: You bet.

BASH: I appreciate you coming on.

And thank you so much for watching Inside Politics. CNN News Central is up next.