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IDF: Two Released Hostages Are Now In Israeli Territory; Hamas, Israel Extended Truce Moments Before It Was To Expire; IDF: Two Israeli Hostages Released By Hamas; Embattled Congressman Santos Speaks Ahead Of Expulsion Vote; Speaker Johnson Expresses Concerns About Expelling Santos; GOP Rep.: Vote On Expelling Santos Could Be Close; Tomorrow: Haley Campaign Launches Its First TV Ad. Aired 12- 12:30p ET

Aired November 30, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on INSIDE POLITICS, hours left in a fragile troops. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is on the ground in Israel right now trying to extend the pause as both Israel and Hamas say, they're gearing up ready to resume combat at a moment's notice.

Plus, bullying and theater. That's how George Santos is describing tomorrow's vote to kick him out of Congress. Will his fellow Republicans keep him in his seat, so they can keep the majority? And fu, that's what Kevin McCarthy allegedly told Donald Trump after he refused to condemn the push to oust him as speaker. The reporter with that scoop is here with all the details.

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at INSIDE POLITICS.

We start with breaking news out of the Middle East. Two hostages were just released from Hamas captivity. 21-year-old Mia Schem and 40-year- old Amit Soussana are finally free and safe in Israeli territory, that's according to the IDF. We are expecting more women and children to be freed from that terror group's captivity today.

I want to go straight to CNN's Oren Liebermann, who is covering all of the developments from Tel Aviv. Oren?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Dana, interesting that today's release began fairly early in the evening. We have seen it play out much later generally. But this one at least the first part of it with the release of 21-year-old Mia Schem and 40-year-old Amit Soussana, occurring even before 4 pm. As we wait for the release of more Israeli women and children from Hamas captivity.

Shortly after that we expect to see as we have over the course of the past six nights, the release of Palestinian prisoners, women and children held in Israeli jails. The key question here at this point with Secretary of State Antony Blinken here, can this truce be extended anymore?

Are there enough women and children left in captivity to extend it for 24, 48 more hours? Or does this require an entirely new agreement to release elderly men as well as soldiers, both men and women from Hamas captivity. That might be a much larger lift. One where there may not be enough time to get that into place.

It's also worth noting that today's release was took place in Palestine Square in Gaza City, which is a symbolic square for Gaza and for Hamas. It also shows apparently or is a way of showing by Hamas that Israel doesn't completely control Gaza City and northern Gaza as the IDF has claimed.

Now we'll look to see what has come out of these meetings between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. One of the key focuses for Blinken was making sure Israel knew that the U.S. had its back and was defending its right to defend itself.

But also, on the importance of abiding by international law in war and the need for urgent humanitarian aid to continue flowing into Gaza. Even if the truce itself falls apart. There was a resumption in fighting there.

Blinken also met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. There he emphasized the need or the danger posed by extremist Israeli settlers in the occupied West Bank, and the threat they pose not only to Palestinians but also to security in general. Dana, it is a very sensitive night as they try to extend this truce. We will absolutely keep you posted on the movements here.

BASH: Such important reporting, especially the notion of releasing these latest two hostages inside Gaza City and the symbolism from the perspective of Hamas of that. Thank you so much for all that reporting, Oren.

Let's now go to the White House where MJ Lee is going to give us her latest information about the administration's push to extend this truce. MJ, what are you hearing?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, we already gathered that the negotiations to get another day of an extension in the pause had been very messy, very fraught, and really had come down to the wire. And we are now learning more about the list of hostages to be released today. The proposal that the Israeli government accepted yesterday we are told by sources includes eight new women and children to be released today.

And then together with two Israeli Russian hostages that were released yesterday would make in total the 10 hostages that would be released today are counted towards the 10 that would be released today. This is all pretty unusual given that the deal specifically says that every day of the truce 10 new hostages would have to be released.


So, we are seeing some moving around of numbers here. We are also learning that yesterday during the negotiations that were incredibly tense, Hamas had made a number of other proposals that were just unacceptable to the Israeli government, including the idea of seven women and children plus three bodies, seven women and children plus three elderly people, presumably they were men.

Now, what are we to make of all of this? Well, basically, as we see, negotiating with Hamas has been incredibly challenging. And that means that the status of this pause in the fighting is incredibly precarious right now. We may really be nearing the point where Hamas isn't able to produce any more women and children. And that means that there could be a restarting in the fighting of restarting in the war in the coming days as early as this weekend. Dana?

BASH: OK. MJ, thank you so much for all of that reporting. And as we've been mentioning, just hours left in the current negotiated extended truce. So, I want to talk about this with IDF spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner. Thank you so much for being here.

Let's just pick up where MJ left off. Is there any sense from inside Israel at this hour that Hamas will be willing to extend one more day under the current guidelines, which would mean 10 more Israeli hostages in exchange for 24 more hours of a pause in fighting?

LT. COL. PETER LERNER, IDF SPOKESMAN: Thanks, Dana. What I can say is that we are taking it one day at a time. We're looking at how we are progressing, how we are achieving our goal of releasing hostages and bringing people home. The sense in Israel today.

And I can tell you for several hours already, like every night for the last seven days is Israelis glued to the televisions, glued to their sets, watching in anticipation to see who comes home, what their situation is, and seeing how the IDF and the health services are accompanying them from the border area to the initial medical assessment and through to the hospital services that are later picking up and continuing to embrace those families.

Indeed, this is a reality, we are instructed by the government to hold our fire to conduct and implement an operational pause, an operational pause that actually enables the freeing of the hostages by Hamas.

BASH: Right. And so, the question is, will that continue? And there are obviously, discussions going on as there have been for several days -- each day as this has been extended day-by-day. We've only seen women and children so far that those are under the parameters of the current deal. Do you see any possibility of men being -- male hostages being part of anything that could happen in the near future?

LERNER: So, it's only 7 pm here in Israel. So, we still have a few hours to conclude the implementation of today's hostage release. As you rightly pointed out, two have been released and we have to see what happens throughout the course of the evening. As you rightly pointed out, this morning was very -- I was touch and go for some and a sense that maybe it won't happen.

The IDF is preparing itself for the next stages of the war. We have two goals in this war to bring home the hostages, every last one of them, but also to dismantle and destroy and make sure Hamas never has the power to attack us, to butcher, to come into our kibbutzim, our homes and abduct people. So, these two do operate hand in hand. And I would say that we wouldn't be in a situation where Hamas is actually releasing hostages. We're not for the military power that we have used.

BASH: Well, let's talk about that. Then just assuming since there is no answer understandably to whether this is going to be extended -- this truce will be extended assuming that it is not the military operation resumes. Will southern Gaza be the IDF's first focus?

LERNER: So, I don't know if it will be a first, obviously Hamas are present in north of Gaza and in the south of Gaza. We are to dismantle their system, to dismantle their infrastructure, it is systematic and has to take place strategically. And it has to take place, I would say step-by-step and more importantly strike-by-strike.

I wouldn't rush into any conclusions, and I would not determine that we are going to go here or there. We are and we have approved our operational plans for the next stages. But the ultimate goal is to make sure that Hamas never govern the Gaza Strip again as a staging ground for terrorisms.



LERNER: Every decent person that is seeing the images of the -- you know, the Bibas babies, the ginger -- these beautiful ginger babies, boys, Kfir and Ariel that were abducted into Gaza on the 7th of October. Understands that Hamas, they have this responsibility. They initiated this attack, this ruthless merciless attack against us and Hamas has to go.

BASH: You brought up the Bibas family, Hamas as you know, they're claiming that the family including those babies were killed in Israeli airstrike. Can you rule that out as a possibility?

LERNER: We are looking into these claims. We have to be cautious in how Hamas is trying to manipulate public perception.


BASH: What is the IDF think?

LERNER: We are looking into it. We are looking into it with our intelligence services. And I would just say caution -- first of all caution with regard to what Hamas is saying. Of course, it is concerning. The Bibas family are symbolic of everything that we've enjoyed from Hamas since the 7th of October. And that's why I brought it to the front.

These babies that were abducted, their mother Shiri, they have no place in being in Gaza to begin with. Hamas intentionally abducted men, women and children, babies, elderly, they have to come home. We have to bring them home. That is what we're doing.

BASH: Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, thank you so much for your time. Appreciate it.

LERNER: Good day, Dana.

BASH: Coming up back here in the United States, he's trying to make his case.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): If I leave, they win. If I leave, the bullies take place. This is bullying.


BASH: Scandal plagued New York Congressman George Santos, speaking from the Capitol steps right outside the Capitol. Moments ago, he says he isn't packing his bags just yet. Another expulsion vote hangs over him now. We'll talk about that after a break.




BASH: Congressman George Santos is speaking out on the eve of a vote to expel him after a damning ethics committee report, detailing extensive fraud allegations. Santos was defiant vowing not to resign and accusing the Ethics Committee of bullying.


SANTOS: So, they go ahead and release this reports -- littered in hyperbole, littered in opinion that would have no decent cop would bring this to a prosecutor or a D.A. and say here's our report, go ahead and charge him. Because if I leave, they win. If I leave, the bullies take place. This is bullying.

The reality of it is it's all theater. It's theater for the cameras, it's theater for the microphones, it's theater for the American people. At the expense of the American people because no real works getting done. You guys like digging up stuff on me. Why don't you go dig up on other members? There are so many. It's out in the open.


BASH: CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill with the latest on the efforts to oust him. I think, one of my favorite details of this morning's event was him rolling up in a Jaguar in Ferragamo shoes. But you can take it from there, Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, that's right. I mean, look, it is still an open question about whether there are enough votes to expel George Santos. Even in his face of all these allegations and evidence and findings that they have bipartisan House Ethics Committee found alleging fraud that Santos was involved with during his campaign, as well as all the criminal indictments and charges that he is facing.

Despite pleading not guilty and despite the concerns about his conduct, getting to 290 votes for his expendables is still a tall order in large part because the speaker of the House indicated he has quote, a real reservations about the present he would set. Now, speaking to Republicans this morning. The ones who are supporting expulsion, basically say that it is time for him to go, calling him a con man.


REP. MARC MOLINARO (R-NY): George Santos is doing whatever he con man and four-year-old does, which is to ignore the truth, take no responsibility and pointed others and suggests they're worst. There was a bipartisan, comprehensive ethics report. That is his due process. It is concluded. It is comprehensive. And it proves that he's a con man, a fraud and a criminal and he shouldn't be a member of Congress.

RAJU: Having him here is unbecoming of the House?

REP. DUSTY JOHNSON (R-SD): And frankly, if Republicans aren't willing to police their own, how can we possibly look at the American people in the eye and tell them that we're willing to police folks on the other side of the aisle as well.


RAJU: But it is still a question about whether they can get there in part because a lot of Republicans say that they don't want to set the new precedent here. This will be the first time ever someone has been kicked out of his seat, even despite not being convicted of a crime.

The other ones who were expelled, the three others were members of the confederacy. So, he would be just a sixth member ever. And of course, Dana, not lost on many Republicans is a fact, if he is kicked out that will narrow -- they're already very tight majority in a district that Joe Biden carried.

BASH: That's sure what. Thank you so much, Manu. I appreciate that reporting. And here to share their reporting, Seung Min Kim of The Associated Press, CNN's Jeff Zeleny, Leigh Ann Caldwell of The Washington Post. Nice to see all of you.

Let's start by adding to the reporting that our esteemed colleague, Manu did from Capitol Hill and play what Mike Johnson, the speaker said out, whether or not this is a vote that people in the Republican conference should take.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): There are people who say, you have to uphold the rule of law and allow for someone to be convicted in a criminal court. There are others who say, well, upholding the rule of law requires us to take this step now because some of the things that he's alleged to have done. The House Ethics Committee haven't done their job or infractions against the House itself.


And so, what we've said as the leadership team is we're going to allow people to vote their conscience. I personally have real reservations about doing this. I'm concerned about a precedent that may be set for that.


BASH: So, vote your conscience but here is my view.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, trying to tip the scales there a little bit. Look, I mean, it will be -- if he is expelled, it will be a short-term challenge for the speaker. So, you have to think that that sort of under -- its underlying some of this because the votes will be so few.

But it's likely a longer-term advantage because George Santos would no longer be an issue in House races next year in New York, which were so critical to building this narrow House majority. But look, this is one of those votes where -- you're not exactly sure how it's going to go because there are so many other dynamics at play, but it is just extraordinary.

You mentioned the Jaguar and Ferragamo I mean, for all of the ridiculousness that's been sort of happening in the house in recent years. I mean, this really, members are embarrassed by it. And they're just ready for him to be off the stage.

BASH: Well, you've mentioned how tough it is to figure out where the votes are assuming that this happens tomorrow. One of his fellow Republicans from New York, Nick LaLota yesterday, said that he thought 150 Republicans will vote to expel him. Here's what he is now saying.

He said people are telling us different things as to where they think the vote count is -- the vote count is out. I've spoken with a decent amount of people, and I feel like we'll get to two-thirds, but it might be close. Translation they have no idea.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah. I think that's right. And I think that the precedent setting is something that Speaker Johnson mentioned and is causing some members heartburn. As Manu said, no one has been kicked out of the House before they have been convicted, of course, Santos is charged with 23 federal crimes, but he hasn't been convicted yet.

So, we'll see. We know that Democrats are going to vote. We know that the New Yorkers are going to vote to kick them out. They want to not be associated with him anymore. But it could be a close vote. And it is happening. The day that Speaker Johnson is heading to New York for a major weekend of fundraising. He's introducing himself to all these big New York donors. So, there could be some -- might be good news for him to go there with George Santos no longer a Congress.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. No, this has just been -- I mean, I don't know. I think we've kind of run out of words to describe how this episode has progressed. I do think it's lucky for Mike Johnson that the speaker of the House doesn't actually traditionally vote on legislation. So, he can kind of say what he wants at a press conference. But he doesn't have to actually take a position.

So that's why you see kind of him trying to acknowledge obviously, the concerns that he's getting from his moderate Republicans and many Republicans in the conference. We're just sick of this guy and want him to leave the Congress but also acknowledging the concerns from conservatives.

We have Clay Higgins a fellow Louisianan, point out the precedent issue in a detailed letter to his colleagues. He's trying to appeal to those -- appeal to that part of the conference as well. Because the one thing that Johnson and other Republicans can't ignore that for George Santos for all his drama, he has been a very reliable conservative vote. He's not necessarily someone that who gives leadership a heartache when it comes to these really close votes.

BASH: OK. Everybody standby. We're going to go back to politics -- the 2024 politics of it all. And there of course, was a big, big endorsement -- several big endorsements for Nikki Haley. This week, she just launched her first television ad from inside her campaign. Plus, Donald Trump is once again setting his sights on Obama care. But are the former president's allies happy with his latest target? I'll give you a hint that is two words. New reporting next.




BASH: Nikki Haley's presidential campaign is launching its first television ad of the Republican primary season. The 32nd spot called moral clarity is part of the candidates massive $10 million ad campaign that will air in New Hampshire and Iowa. Listen to part of it.


Our Panel is back here with us. And Jeff Zeleny, you have been out in the campaign trail. You have been talking to voters and you've been on the trail even this week with Nikki Haley. It seems as though our friend David Chalian said, we all wish we had a week like Nikki Haley is having this week. And she certainly is feeling the wind at her back. The question is, what she is going to do with it? This is one of the first answers.

ZELENY: Right. And she'll be happy to have a good week in January, not in November. I mean, so that's the whole point of this. What does it matter? But it matters in the sense that she's certainly getting hot at the right moment when people are paying attention. And we're sort of sitting around her thinking. How can this be her first TV ad? It's almost December. But look, she has struggled throughout the year, and they've been very careful spending money. Now is the time when voters in Iowa, New Hampshire are paying attention, so she's introducing herself. I'm struck by one thing at a few of her events this week. She asks people in her rooms in her rallies.

How many of you are seeing me for the first time? And more than half of the crowd raise their hand. I was struck by that in Derry, New Hampshire just on Tuesday evening at the Opera House. So, we've all been to so many events over the years. So, people are just tuning in. So, she's trying to introduce herself through this ad.