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George Santos Expelled From Congress; House Expels George Santos In Historic Vote; Santos After Expulsion Vote: "To Hell With This Place"; New Airstrikes In Israel & Gaza After Truce Collapses, Fate Of Hostages In Hamas Captivity Unknown; NYT: Israel Knew Hamas's Attack Plan More Than A Year Ago. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired December 01, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Today on Inside Politics, expelled, the House just voted to kick George Santos out of Congress. His response to the historic move, to hell with this place. We'll go live to Capitol Hill in moments.

Plus, airstrikes combat and bloodshed as the Israel-Hamas truce collapses and fighting resumes. This as an explosive new report is out about what Israel knew about the Hamas terror plot. More than a year before the attack and why did they dismiss those warnings?

I'm going to ask the reporters who broke the story. And remembering a trailblazer. Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female Supreme Court Justice died today at age 93. Tributes are pouring in, honoring her life and legacy both on and off the bench.

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

We start with that breaking news on Capitol Hill. George Santos just became the third lawmaker since the civil war to be kicked out of the House of Representatives by his peers. CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. Manu, wow?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. Historic, unprecedented and something that has caused deep divisions within the Republican ranks. Ultimately 105 Republicans voted for his ouster. They needed a 77 Republicans to vote for George Santos expulsion, so they clear that hurdle in the final vote 311 to 214, 290 ultimately, were needed for that two-thirds majority.

But never before in American history, have we seen someone who has been expelled from the House without being convicted of a crime. The others who were expelled were members of the confederacy, which is why a lot of Republicans had pause or concern.

The speaker of the House himself announcing his opposition behind closed doors this morning. He said that they use concerned about the precedent that would be set by an accusation made against a member not convicted of a crime, kicking him out of Congress.

But importantly, Johnson and his leadership team did not whip the vote and that tell their members how to vote. Johnson told them, they should vote their conscience and they should vote their districts. This effort led by New York Republican freshmen in particular who believe that Santos was unfit for office and been pushing for months for ultimately for him to get there.

And they now will contend with the fact that this narrow Republican majority has gone even narrower before, right Johnson could only lose four votes on any party line vote. Now he can only lose three Republican votes on any party line vote making this such a significant move.

And also, Dana, this seat will now be subject to a special election in a district that Joe Biden carrying, something that Republicans could lose, could see their Republican majority narrowed even further in wasting no time. The House Democratic super PAC just announced plans to spend a big in that district to try to turn it blue ahead of the special election.

So, the political ramifications so significant amid this historic and unprecedented vote that George Santos left the Capitol and left Congress, no longer a member of Congress. Now he has to worry about his trial date in the months ahead. Dana?

BASH: Manu, thank you so much for all that reporting. I want to bring in our panel with their reporting and their insights, CNN's David Chalian, CNN's Lauren Fox, CNN's Eva McKend and Laura Barron-Lopez with the PBS NewsHour.

Lauren, you are on Capitol Hill all day, every day. And I know you have encountered George Santos many, many times, and of course, have been following this vote. Did it surprise you?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. You know, I thought it was really interesting because it was kind of surprising some of the members who were in the room. I was in the chamber as the vote began. And you saw members sort of standing back, looking up at the board, counting the votes as they came in because it was going to be a close call.

You had Republican leadership saying behind closed doors and publicly that they had reservations and concerns about setting this precedent of ousting someone from Congress who hadn't been convicted of a crime. And I think that that was really part of the reason that it felt like maybe the momentum last night and this morning was going in Santos's favor.


But then again, you had so many members who were concerned about setting a precedent where you have someone who is accused of so many things in this scathing ethics report and gets to remain in Congress. I think that there would have been a precedent sent either way.

BASH: Yeah. That's a really good point. Tony Gonzales, his fellow Republican. He's out of Texas, tweeted this morning. Today is the day we shit-can Santos, is really subtle there. (CROSSTALK)

BASH: Yeah. Thank you for that translation, David Chalian, up in New Jersey. That obviously proved to be true, but it wasn't entirely clear as Lauren was saying going in.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Yeah. I mean, I think that what was really fascinating was watching the House Republican leadership on mass, decide at the end to vote against this measure and to save Santos. And it just seems that there was a last-minute attempt. I don't want to ascribe motives here, but to have their narrow majority not get narrower, like that that there was a thought there that that may be worth doing.

At least the finding of all the leaders, perhaps the most interesting because she's from New York and is surrounded with all those frontline vulnerable Republicans in these tough districts that delivered the majority to the House Republicans in '22.

And she also was saying no, no, Santos can stay when they've all been calling for him to go. It just seemed to be that they were together saying, hey, as the leaders here, we do think this becomes a larger problem. Maybe it's the president argument, but it's a larger political headache for them to have the narrower majority.

At the end of the day, though guys, like, what are we talking about here? I mean, this guy -- I mean, Santos was for a year, just a black mark on the institution, a black mark for the House Republican conference, and obviously had just worn out his time for any goodwill with enough of his fellow Republicans.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Just to David's point, the spectacle of Congressman Santos was really a natural outgrowth of the Trump era defined by chaos, alternative facts really stressing our institutions. And we saw today the House take a vote at least and say, listen, we have got to abide by somewhat of a minimum standard.

I also want to mention the constituents. So, there was this group, the concerned citizens of the district. And they have been organizing for months for this outcome, really putting pressure on the Republicans in Long Island to do all that they could to get rid of Congressman Santos. And a lot of what we saw today was a result of that as well.

BASH: Yeah. I just want to go back to what you were alluding to David, and that is that, despite the fact that the vote to expel him obviously succeeded. The last minute, sort of pushed by the leadership, including the House speaker, which we should note for people who don't know this. It is unusual for the speaker of the House to actually cast a vote.

The fact that he did and announced ahead of time that he would and then the other leaders in the Republican conference followed suit was very interesting. Let's listen to what Dave Joyce, a member of the Republican conference said going into this vote.


REP. DAVE JOYCE (R-OH): But he told us to vote our conscience. So that's what his conscience told him to do, I guess. But for me, it was a pretty simple case, having been there since the beginning. And one thing about, you know, 25 years of prosecutor before I got to this place. The good part about a numbers case or checks cases, I don't need anybody to explain it to me. The numbers speak for you by themselves.


BASH: And the numbers of course, the backstory, which I think all of our viewers probably know by now is he's not only in big trouble in the courts with the prosecutions but there was his damning ethics report that came out a few weeks ago.

LAURA BARRON-LOPEZ, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, PBS NEWSHOUR & CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. And that ethics report outline that he used campaign funds for trips -- for lavish trips, for Botox treatments, for you name it, clothes, I mean -- and he -- David Joyce also said, you know, this came down to theft that members who voted to oust him said that it was very clear based on the ethics report, based on what we've heard about the federal trial that Santos was stealing money from his campaign coffers.

And Congressman Max Miller sent out that email earlier today saying that he was stolen from by Santos's campaign, and that that appeared to also push Republican votes back against Santos. But I mean -- I think that the point that you made David, maybe it was at the core of this, which was that ultimately, they didn't want their majority to get smaller.

Speaker Johnson is having a hard time already with Republicans and just keeping support in line for him and what he wants to see passed and with another Republican out of the House, that's going to make him his job a lot better.

BASH: Sure. In the short term, of course, the question is whether making the majority smaller now by kicking him out will give them much a little bit more of a chance to hold on to it in the 2024 elections. I just want to go through a little bit of what we were just referring to Laura.


Campaign -- this is the ethics report. Campaign funds used on Botox, lavish hotels, Sephora, only fans, Hermes. Knowingly filed false or incomplete campaign finance reports. Substantial evidence of fraudulent campaign loan. So that's what he's been accused of in a bipartisan equally divided ethics committee.

This is what he said on the way out. He said it after the vote. It's over. The House spoke that's their vote. They just said new dangerous precedent for themselves. Why would I want to stay here? To hell with this place? FOX: Can I just also say that over the last 48 hours, reporters have repeatedly pressed Santos to explain those purchases, to explain line by line in the ethics report. If he says it's not fair, explain what's not fair about it. And time and time again, he said, I'm not going to go line by line. I don't want to go over that. There'll be a time and a place in the future.

Well, if you're a member of Congress and you're on the fence about whether or not you think Santos should stay, whether or not you think he did it. Then if the guy accused of doing something doesn't even want to explain that there is some kind of reason behind this ethics report that he wasn't guilty, then that would be the opportunity to do it. And he didn't take multiple opportunities. And I do think it's worth reminding viewers that he was given those chances to explain himself and he declined.

BASH: That's very important to put out there. He is saying not just to hell with this place, but he's going to try to take some of his now former Republican colleagues down. This is according to Politico. He said, I will have fun on my way out. Don't worry about it. And he said that he is going to name names. I have plenty of receipts.

MCKEND: Yeah. So, he's going to try the Madison Cawthorn route, it seems. Listen, I don't know how far that will get him. It won't get him his seat back, that's for sure. Something that sort of interests me is now that he has to pivot to really focusing on all of his criminal troubles is that he no longer has this titled sort of as a shield. There is a bargaining chip with prosecutors.

I've covered malfeasant elected officials in the past and something that they've been able to negotiate for lesser time is typically, OK, I will resign from my public office, and I won't run again. Now Congressman Santos doesn't have that.

BASH: That's such a good point. Let's look ahead to what we were alluding to, which is the fact that there is now an empty seat. And it's in the New York delegation. The New York Governor Kathy Hochul just put the following on social media. I'm prepared to undertake the solemn responsibility of filling the vacancy in New York's 3rd district. The people of Long Island deserve nothing less.

CHALIAN: We should be clear. I don't think she means she's going to fill the vacancy herself. But she's going to call for a special election as this is required by law for her to do so. But you heard when Speaker Johnson was presiding over the end of the vote and bringing the gavel down, he ordered the clerk of the House to inform the governor of New York of the now vacant seat because she has to call this special election.

There are no primaries in the special election. The party committees for fans of backroom deals, this is a good one. Party committees get together, and they decide who their nominees are going to be. So, it'll be interesting to see if indeed, people who have already declared their intention to run for the seat in November are selected and actually run in the special and get a jumpstart on their election because that's going to be coming up, you know, within the next 80 days or so. We're going to have a special election.

BASH: And remember, this was one of those seats that Republicans took out of democratic terrain, I should say. And let's just look at what that terrain is. In 2020, Joe Biden won the area that is now the 3rd district 53 percent to Donald Trump's 45 percent. That is where this special election is going to be held in -- would it for what is now a Republican seat.

BARRON-LOPEZ: That's right. And it was previously held by a Democrat Tom Suozzi of New York. And I actually just got information from a source that says, he's going to be meeting tonight with some NASA and Queens Democrats, you know, talking to chairs and potentially readying for a run in the special election.

So, Democrats would probably like it if he's someone who runs in this special election because of the fact that he has experienced in that district. He's a more moderate Democrat. They really do think that they lost that seat because the fact that he decided not to run. Last election cycle he went for the governorship and lost. So, this is one of those multiple seats in New York where Democrats are hoping that they can flip it back.

BASH: OK. Everybody standby, because next we're going to look at what's happening in Israel. The truce between Israel and Hamas is over and once again explosions are rocking Gaza. We're live on the ground next. Plus, we'll look at a damning report about what Israeli intelligence knew about Hamas's planned before it's barbaric murder of more than thousand Israelis on October 7.



BASH: Now to the Middle East where explosions are rocking the region. This video from moments ago shows flares over the Gaza skyline after the week-long pause expired. Also just into CNN video of Israel's Iron Dome intercepting incoming Hamas rockets near Tel Aviv today. There is growing fear about what all this means for the 137 hostages, Israel says, are still being held captive by Hamas terrorist.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is covering all of the developments from Tel Aviv. Oren, let's start with what is happening on the ground with the resumed military campaign.


OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Dana, Israel promised that it would resume in force its campaign in Gaza and that's exactly what we're seeing. Punishing strikes especially focused on Khan Yunis in southern Gaza and Rafah, which is the area of the border crossing. According to Israel, they've hit more than 200 what they call terror targets across those areas.

The challenge, of course, is that southern Gaza is exactly where Israel told Palestinians from northern Gaza to evacuate to earlier in this war. According to health authorities in Gaza, more than hundred Palestinians have been killed as a result of Israeli strikes, and that has put even more pressure on a health system that is already nearing the brink of collapse, with hospitals overflowing. The U.N. called the resumption of fighting catastrophic for Gaza.

Meanwhile, we saw launches towards central Tel Aviv interceptions we saw off our balcony where I'm standing right now, at least 10 Iron Dome interceptors launched at the rockets that were fired here. That's the first time we've seen rockets launched this far in more than two weeks. So, both sides, as they promised, certainly resuming fighting here. And there's no signs that this will lead up here as Israel continues in its goal of trying to destroy Hamas.

BASH: No sign that they're going to let up. But are there any kinds of negotiations going on to try to get these hostages out, which you would think would create another pause in that fighting you're talking about?

LIEBERMANN: So, there are ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas indirectly. Those are being led by Qatar as they have been, as well as Egypt and the United States. The goal here is to get back to the truce agreement, which had very specific guidelines or requirements for every 10 women and children Hamas released from Gaza. There would be another pause of 24 hours in fighting.

The question is, does Hamas and do other organizations in Gaza have 10 women and children to meet that requirement? Israel claims they do for at least one or two more days of pause. Hamas says they don't and that they wanted to talk to Israel about the release of elderly men, as well as men and women of fighting age, so younger men and women.

But they say Israel rejected all attempts at trying to have those discussions. A senior state department official said the negotiations are ongoing and expressed, I would say some level of optimism that they could get back to a truce perhaps even in the next day or two. But in terms of what we're seeing from the military there, there is no truce, the military and Hamas very much at war.

BASH: Yeah. And Israel, as you've heard many more times than I argue that the only reason those hostages were able to come out is because of the military campaign. So, we'll see what happens. Oren, thank you so much for your excellent reporting there.

And now we're going to go to a new bombshell report in The New York Times that Israeli officials knew Hamas attacks -- Hamas had an attack plan for October 7, more than a year before it happened. Here's part of what that story said. The approximately 40 -page document which Israeli authorities code-named Jericho Wall, outlined point by point, exactly the kind of devastating invasion that led to deaths of about 1,200 people.

Joining me now is one of the reporters of this blockbuster story Ronen Bergman. Thank you so much for being here. Ronen, first I just want to start by reading a little bit more about the report that you did with your colleague, Adam Goldman. It says in part, Hamas followed the blueprint with shocking precision. The document called for a barrage of rockets at the outset of the attack, drones to knock out the security cameras and automated machine guns along the border, and gunman to pour into Israel on masse in paragliders, on motorcycles and on foot, all of which happened on October 7. That is so chilling.

This was a report, as you said, 40-page report. How far up the chain did it get as far as you know, and why wasn't it -- why didn't anybody heed to this or think that it was actually possible in the highest levels of the Israeli government?

RONEN BERGMAN, STAFF WRITER, NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE: This document called the Jericho Wall was not neglected the country. Massive resources and efforts were put into the operation to get it. And then it was sent to the series of Israeli intelligence defense establishment, and to many analysts that work in data coming from Hamas from the overall efforts of Israeli intelligence to get as much as possible from Hamas from the Gaza Strip.

This war plan -- this attack plan is very sophisticated. I don't remember any document that I've read. It has so much secrets on Israeli preparation for war, the fortification of the wall, the cameras, the automatic machine guns that it was not written by Israeli defense establishment, at least suggest that sub parts of that plan coming not from open sources.


But besides that, Israeli intelligence saw this document, except for one analyst that thought differently. But Israeli intelligence, all the analysts that saw this document said, this is a roadmap. This is an aspiration (Ph). This is something they want to be but they're not now, they don't have the capacity or the sophistication to execute such a massive invasion into Israel.

BASH: Ronen, let me just jump in there. And your colleague and your co-author of this story, Adam Goldman is now on with us. And let me just add to what we just heard Adam from Ronen. This is also in your piece, underpinning all these failures with a single, fatally inaccurate belief that Hamas lacked the capability to attack and would not dare do so. That belief was so ingrained in the Israeli government, officials said, that they disregarded growing evidence to the contrary. Adam?

ADAM GOLDMAN, REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yeah, I think that's right. And one of the themes was that Israeli intelligence saw this document, in fact, I think it was a military official who said, this document was a compass. And this is where they wanted to head but they had not arrived there yet.

And you know that the Israeli government and the Israeli military -- while Ronen is right, they're deeply concerned about the document. They hadn't disregarded it. They put enormous amount of time and effort into trying to understand it and trying to understand Hamas's capabilities. You know, they came to this conclusion. And it's partly a failure of imagination that Hamas wasn't capable of carrying out such a sophisticated attack.

You know, I have to tell you, you know, I've reported on 9/11 and al- Qaeda and bin Laden, and there are extraordinary parallels to what happened in the weeks leading up to 9/11. And how our government reacted to having that information. You know, like the Israelis, we had collected an enormous amount of intelligence about what al-Qaeda intended to do. But at the end of the day, we failed to imagine.

BASH: I know, I just -- you brought that up. And I just actually want to pull up what the 9/11 commission said, it's exactly to the point that you're making. The most important failure was one of imagination. We do not believe leaders understood the gravity of the threat.

Top officials all told us that they understood the danger, we believe there was uncertainty among them as to whether this was just a new and especially venomous version of the ordinary terrorist threat in the United States had lived with for decades, or it was indeed radically new, posing a threat beyond any yet experienced. So, it's exactly as you just said.

But Ronen, the question is -- not to say that people in America don't take security threats seriously. They absolutely, of course, do. But the existential threat that Israel faces is just different, given the geography and everything else that we've known since 1948 about Israel. So, the question is still, why was there this disconnect between the people working so hard on this report, and the prepared level of preparedness or lack thereof, inside the Netanyahu government.

And I just want to remind our viewers of something that the prime minister put out there but then deleted. This was on October 28. So, this was a few weeks after the October 7 attack. At no point was a warning given to Prime Minister Netanyahu on Hamas's intention to start a war. On the contrary, all the defense officials, including the heads of Intelligence Directorate and Shin Bet, assessed that Hamas was deterred.

This was the assessment submitted time after time to the prime minister and the cabinet by all the entities in the defense and intelligence community right up until the war broke out. So, this is -- again, just a few weeks after the October 7 attack by Prime Minister Netanyahu's office. Ronen?

BERGMAN: Which he deleted afterwards but gave us -- gave the New York Times the same comment in English. This was tweeted in Hebrew the same day. Our colleague Mark Mazzetti from the District of New York (Ph), The New York Times and myself, we published another story where we lined all the different warnings that Prime Minister Netanyahu received, that the enemies of Israel, the members of the so-called Axis of Resistance.

I see Israel at its worst time the political crisis, following the so- called judicial reform that Netanyahu initiated. They said to him, they might take the opportunity. They see this as a window in which they can attack Israel.