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Massive Blast Hits Gaza Refugee Camp for the Second Day in a Row; New Speaker Starts Tenure Amid Turmoil in the House; Indicted Senator Menendez Defends Attending Classified Briefings; Supreme Court to Consider "Trump Too Small" Trademark. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 01, 2023 - 12:30   ET



MAJOR DORON SPIELMAN, SPOKESPERSON, IDF: In this case, you're looking at a person who is the leader of the entire area of the Gaza Strip. He's the battalion leader that sent in the forces into Israel to massacre.


Our evaluation is that he is planning on doing this again. They have the exact same will. We hear a Hamas spokesman saying the exact same thing. Therefore, you have them in a certain area, and based on the intelligence that you have, you try to strike them with as little collateral damage as possible.

The question is, and I would ask the question to you, is, what is the proportional response to a mass murderer who is about to murder your country again? This is a very complicated and difficult decision to make. But at the end of the day, we know if we do not eliminate this person, the next 1,500 families, God forbid, are right around the corner.

What are we going to look at them in the eyes and say, we didn't take out the terrorists? The first --


DANA BASH, CNN HOST: No, I'm not saying it's not complicated at all. I mean, I can't even begin to understand how complicated it is.

A doctor at the Indonesia Hospital that CNN interviewed said hundreds were killed or injured in that blast yesterday. Is that accurate?

SPIELMAN: We -- at this point, every number that is put out by these doctors, with all due respect, and the Health Ministry which is --

BASH: What does the IDF believe?

SPIELMAN: -- completely controlled by Hamas -- we have seen -- we don't have exact numbers yet. But what we have seen is that when we find numbers that are announced today (ph) by whatever governmental legitimate international bodies, they are usually a fraction of what Hamas says. We don't take anything that Hamas says for granted. What I can tell you is from our perspective, there should not be a

single Gazan civilian in this area. (Inaudible).


BASH: So, you don't have exact numbers?


BASH: I know it just happened yesterday. But do you have an estimate? And will you have an estimate?

SPIELMAN: We don't have it. Eventually, we will. But we do everything with checks and balances. And we're not inside counting all of the different areas, like Hamas is supposed to be, like the international community is supposed to be.

But I can take you back to the Al-Ahli Hospital, where they said there were 500 people killed, and it was committed by the IDF.

BASH: Yeah.

SPIELMAN: It wasn't committed by the IDF. And post numbers were between 20 and 40 killed. Now, even one person should not have been killed (inaudible) because we have been saying for two weeks to all of Gazan civilians in Northern Gaza, leave this area and move out of the way.

BASH: Yeah.

SPIELMAN: The question is, why is Hamas keeping them there? What is the motive? They only have one motive, because they are hoping the civilians die, so you and I will have this conversation.

BASH: Yeah.

SPIELMAN: That's Hamas's motive, at the end of the day.

BASH: It is very crass, but there's also a reality that there are civilians dying, which is very much impacting the way that the world sees this.

We're going to have to leave it there. Hopefully, you'll come back on and talk more about that last point. Thank you so much. Major Doron Spielman, appreciate it.

SPIELMAN: Thank you, Dana.

BASH: Up next, the new speaker's first full week and he starts with his own battle to unbundle the Israel and Ukraine aid. Why is he doing that? What does it mean? Plus, George Santos is facing a vote to expel him from the House. Will he survive? The latest on Congressman Santos' future.



BASH: The House is back in session and newly minted Speaker Mike Johnson is facing his first week of business with big challenges looming. He's trying to chart a course for aid to Israel. He's also having to deal with an expulsion vote and two center voters coming up tonight for a member of his conference. CNN Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill. The first one is a member of this conference, that expulsion voter. Doesn't seem like much of a honeymoon for Mike Johnson.

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, he's facing pressure. He can't even avoid this vote because a member can force a vote to expel a member of Congress by the way they draft it and the way the New York Republican freshman -- the vulnerable Republican freshman did is they are essentially forcing this vote, trying to go after one of their own because of the charges that George Santos has faced. Charges Santos has pleaded not guilty despite facing this federal indictment.

Nevertheless, the vote is expected later tonight. And in order for this to succeed, it would require a support of two-thirds of the full House. We do expect all house Democrats to vote to expel George Santos. The question is going to be how many Republicans would vote for it. We expect that to be, if they need to succeed, about 77 House Republicans to side with their New York Republican freshman to kick George Santos out of the House.

At the moment, the expectation is that they will fall short of that because the House Ethics Committee announced just yesterday that they are still investigating the matter, that they will not make a final decision about what their recommendation is until November 17th or perhaps earlier. So a lot of Republicans will say, let's wait for the House Ethics Committee to make its decision, then we will decide about whether to kick out George Santos.

But, Dana, make no mistake about it, this is a very serious moment for Santos, for the Republican majority, for a seat that could flip to the Democratic side of the aisle because if the House Ethics recommends expulsion, almost certainly more and more Republicans will seek to kick him out. And that could happen in a matter of just a couple of weeks here. So, this vote here will be telling to see how close they get to that two-thirds majority. Dana?

BASH: Manu, thank you so much for that reporting. And my colleagues are back here with me. Kasie, I want to talk to both of you about not just Santos, but where the new speaker is right now, and how he's approaching the challenges that he has.


And I think it's interesting that maybe as we speak, he's going to walk from the House side to the Senate side, engage in a discussion with his fellow Republicans in the Senate during their lunch about this aid where he says, "Let's separate it out, just Israel, have it paid for with money that was going to the IRS." You have Mitch McConnell and other Republicans in the senate saying, "No, we don't want to do it that way."


KASIE HUNT, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: Don't want to do it that way. I mean, I think in some ways his inexperience is showing. And it makes sense that it would because he is the most inexperienced speaker in decades. And he is going to have a learning curve to figure out -- he has got to move from the political ecosphere he lived in when he was a conservative congressman from Louisiana and all he had to worry about his was his constituents and conservative media bubble to someone who has a job that is a lot bigger and a lot different than that. And it's going to take some time.

He doesn't have the staff; he doesn't have the background. He doesn't have, I mean, you know Dana from covering politics for a long time, you start to develop a feel for where the pitfalls are, the land mines are, the things you have to avoid, the things you have to work on. He has to develop an entirely new sensibility for that in this new job. And quite frankly, I mean, it's going to take time. And he doesn't have a lot of it, especially since government funding runs out, which is the next thing after this, in like two weeks.


BASH: Oh, yes, there is that. I didn't even mention that.


BASH: (Inaudible).

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR: There is that (ph). I think that also, yes, he does lack experience, but he is doing what the majority of his conference wants him to do, which is the hardliners got someone in the speakership that is even more in line with them than Kevin McCarthy was, than Steve Scalise potentially would have been.

Someone who aligns himself with them on a host of issues and on this, right now, the base, the Republican base, those Republican congressmen are saying that they don't want to support Ukraine anymore.

That they don't -- and that apparently also in this bill, it doesn't have any humanitarian aid for Gaza as well, which was in the president's initial request. So yes, he's at odds with Senate Republicans, although there is some waffling among some Senate Republicans also in their support for Ukraine. But you're going to see him have to come face to face with Mitch McConnell as well as Senate Democrats who consider this a totally unserious proposal, because of the fact that it's not something that any Democrats would support and you have to have Democratic votes for it to get to the president's desk.

BASH: I always want to be a fly on the wall in those lunches. This is one I definitely wouldn't want to (inaudible) listen to.

HUNT: Yeah, I know, all of us. BASH: Thanks. You guys are amazing.

BARRON-LOPEZ: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: This just in. Senator Bob Menendez is defending his right to view classified information after being indicted on federal corruption charges. All the details on this when we come back.



BASH: Just into CNN, Senator Bob Menendez, the New Jersey Democrat facing charges of acting as a foreign agent for Egypt is defending himself after attending a classified briefing on Ukraine this morning. Manu Raju is the one who saw him going into that briefing or maybe he was coming out. Manu, what happened when you talked to him?

RAJU: Yeah. Look, he has been facing very serious federal charges alleging that he's conspiring to act as a foreign agent to help the government of Egypt. Now, he has pleaded not guilty to that, but he also did not attend a classified briefing in October over Israel, over concerns about these allegations that have been raised. But this time was different. He walked into a classified briefing room to talk about the issues of Ukraine. And I asked him why he should be attending such a sensitive briefing that gives sensitive security information to senators?


RAJU: You weren't able to go to the last classified briefing because Schumer didn't let you. Why are you going to this classified briefing?

SEN. BOB MENENDEZ, (D) NEW JERSEY: First of all, you're wrong about that. He didn't say you can't go. He didn't not let me.

RAJU: So that's just a wrong assumption? So why did you go to this classified briefing?

MENENDEZ: Because getting an update on Ukraine is something that's worthy as we consider the supplemental.

RAJU: But you're being accused of aiding a foreign government. Why is that appropriate to go to a classified briefing?

MENENDEZ: You know, Manu, I know you've got to make news. Bottom line is I'm a United States Senator. I have my security credentials. And an accusation is just that, it's not proof of anything.


RAJU: So, I asked the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ben Cardin if he was OK with him attending this. He said he's still a United States Senator, but he would not call on him to resign. Others have called on him to resign. Others uncomfortable at his attendance today, including Senator Chris Murphy, who told me they would have ongoing discussions about Bob Menendez. And Tim Kaine just simply told me, yes, he has concerns about Bob Menendez being at such as classified briefing amid these allegations and I asked why, Dana, and he declined to comment. Dana?

BASH: Wow, Manu, that was quite a moment. Thank you for bringing that to us. Appreciate it, Manu.

RAJU: Thanks.

BASH: Coming up, can a California lawyer trademark the phrase "Trump Too Small?" We're going to tell you about a kind of a bizarre case facing the Supreme Court, after a short break.



BASH: It started out as a crude joke, has made its way to the Supreme Court.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R) FLORIDA: And you know what they say about men with small hands...


RUBIO: can't trust them.

DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: To my hands, if they're small, something else must be small. I guarantee you, there's no problem. I guarantee you.



BASH: I still can't believe that actually happened. But it did. Florida Senator Marco Rubio took a jab at then Republican rival Donald Trump, characterizing as you just heard his hands as small.


And Trump took a swipe back during a 2016 Republican debate. If you can believe it, it is now the centerpiece of a Supreme Court case on whether a California lawyer can trademark the phrase, "Trump Too Small." The Supreme Court hears arguments today.

Political activist Steve Elster wants to use the phrase without Trump's permission on these T-shirts. Elster says he wants to spread a message that, "Some features of President Trump and his policies are diminutive."

He wants to include the phrase on the front of T-shirts, with the title "Trump's Package Is Too Small" on the back, followed by a list of policy areas that he says fit that characterization. Elster tried to register the trademark in 2018 but was rejected on the grounds that it would require written approval from Trump himself. A decision is expected next year.

Thank you so much for joining "Inside Politics." "CNN News Central" starts after the break.