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Israel, Hamas Renew Fighting After Truce Collapses; Trump Tries To Flip Script, Claim Biden Threat To Democracy; Trump Vows To End Obamacare Despite Its Popularity; Johnson Tries To Corral Hardliners Amid Chaos In GOP; Santos Expulsion Reveals Divides Among House Republicans. Aired 11a-12p ET

Aired December 03, 2023 - 11:00   ET



MANU RAJU, CNN HOST: On the attack.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Joe Biden is not the defender of American democracy. Joe Biden is the destroyer of American democracy.

RAJU: As Trump faces legal trouble, presidential candidates descend an Iowa.

NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If you will join with me in this fight, I promise you that our best days are yet to come.

RAJU: But is it too little, too late?

Plus, under pressure, fighting picks up in Gaza. The U.S. ramps up warnings on Israel.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed.

RAJU: Democrats call for a shift. Can President Biden contain the political fallout?

And growing tensions, the Speaker of the House struggles to keep Republican hardliners happy.

What grade would you give him as speaker right now?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A D minus. I mean, I've lost a lot of faith.

RAJU: New reporting on George Santos and Marjorie Taylor Greene. Can the Speaker overcome the chaos?

Inside Politics, the best reporting from inside the quarters of power starts now.

Good morning, and welcome to INSIDE POLITICS SUNDAY. I'm Manu Raju.

This morning, the Biden administration issuing fresh warnings to Israel over civilian casualties in Gaza as the war enters a new phase. Israel continues to pound the Gaza Strip with heavy airstrikes, including in the south where it says Hamas leaders are taking refuge and where many civilians have fled.

It's the third day of fighting since the truce collapsed. Hamas has launched scores of rockets into Israel. And as many in the president's own party criticize his handling of the war, the vice president and secretary of defense ratcheting up the pressure on Israel.


HARRIS: Too many innocent Palestinians have been killed. Frankly, the scale of civilian suffering and the images and videos coming from Gaza are devastating.

LLOYD AUSTIN, DEFENSE SECRETARY OF THE UNITED STATES: And so I personally pushed Israeli leaders to avoid civilian casualties and to shun irresponsible rhetoric and to prevent violence by settlers in the West Bank and to dramatically expand access to humanitarian aid.


RAJU: It's been nearly two months since Hamas' October 7th attack that killed about 1,200 people in Israel. And the conflict has posed not just a diplomatic challenge for Biden, but it's created a complicated political dynamic as well.

So let's break this all down with our great panel this morning, Seung Min Kim from the Associated Press. CNN's David Chalian, Bloomberg's Nancy Cook, CNN's Melanie Zanona.

Good morning, everybody. Thank you for joining in this consequential busy and very newsy morning.

Seung Min, you are at the White House. Every day, you've been reporting about this debate within the Democratic Party about how exactly to deal with this aid that the Congress is trying to approve for Israel. There was some debate about whether it's the condition should be placed on this aid to Israel, as you can see from your headline on the screens.

Just divisions within the Democratic Party. You reported that the White House essentially told senators they would not favor of conditions for Israel. But you're also seeing this uptick in warnings to Israel as we enter this new phase in the war.

What do you make of the way they're navigating this?

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right. If you talk to Senate Democrats, the more and more devastation that they are seeing coming out of Gaza, the more and more concerns that you're hearing. And the more and more criticism that you're hearing from them and more considerations about them potentially adding conditions onto Israel aid that the Biden administration, that Congress, largely, you know, Congress write-large wants to send to Israel, you know, expeditiously. And it's been really interesting to see how the Biden administration has been navigating this issue. They -- and President Biden, when he was traveling in Nantucket, when asked about this, said it was a worthwhile thought to talk about putting these strings attached on Israel aid.

But then pointed out that, I don't think I would have gotten as far as we have done, considering the hostage deal that they helped kind of facilitate, if those kinds of conditions are out there. If he had been kind of been out there loudly kind of banging the drum for this.


And, you know, I reported that national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, told a private -- told Democrats in a private meeting earlier this week that the White House is not asking for conditions. Like no matter what President Biden said, this is not something that we are requesting of you guys.

So it's a really -- it's been -- it's been for, you know, weeks, for months now, a very tricky line for the White House to handle.

RAJU: And you can hear it just from talking to members in the Capitol about just where the party is at this critical juncture for the war. And the progressives, they've been out front for some time calling for a ceasefire. They're trying to get the president behind them. Several of them made clear that they are disappointed with the president's handling of this so far.


REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): I'm disappointed that we have not had a ceasefire. We need something that is permanent in order to save lives.

REP. CORI BUS (D-MO): When the people that elected our president to this seat, elected him, believing that he was the most humane. We did that because we wanted to make sure that if something like this was to occur, wherever in the world, that that most humane voice would be the one speaking the loudest.


RAJU: So that it's not united on the left. There are many Democrats who are supportive of the way the president's handling, including John Fetterman who is no moderate by any means.


SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): I can't believe we're talking about a ceasefire long term until Hamas is destroyed. I'm actually proud of the president and the job he's done throughout this. And I can't even imagine, you know, the chaos what it would have been if it was a president Trump in that situation.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: Melanie, you're on the Hill every day talking to Democrats about this issue. What are you hearing about their -- what -- how they view the president's handling?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, it's definitely a mixed bag. You have progressives in the left who are increasingly calling out the president expressing disappointment with how he's handled this far. But there are plenty of Democrats who are staunchly in his corner.

And, privately, a lot of them say that, you know, they are a little bit worried about how this could impact the president's standing with younger voters, progressive voters, Muslim voters, but the hope is that some of this anger will cool off by next year and that when the stakes of the election really come into view and it's a choice between Biden and Donald Trump who let's not forget institutes a Muslim ban, one of the first things he did as president.

They believe that voters will eventually come around, but he cannot afford any cracks in his coalition right now and there are certainly signs that it is fraying.

RAJU: Yes. Go ahead.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I was just going to say, if you talk to folks in the White House, imagine the counterfactual for a moment. Imagine if Joe Biden had come out in the immediate aftermath of the terrorist attack and was expressing real concern and sympathy of what Israel's actions may take in immediately starting to warn them.

Imagine the -- step away from the diplomacy of this for a moment and result of foreign policy, but the politics of that, the president would have come in for withering criticism, not just from Republicans, the media narrative, it would have been an entirely different scenario.

So they are pretty committed to it as a strategy. Joe Biden believes he's doing the right thing by continuing to hug Israel close because he thinks that's how he has the most influence. This is something he has thought for a long time in his career of the way to deal with Israel, but also on the politics of it to your point the strategy inside the White House.

And the Biden campaign is one that they believe firmly that having some diminishment of support among progressives or young voters of their coalition that they believe that they're going to have an easier time bringing those pieces back into the fold once the full contrast campaign with Trump is engaged.

RAJU: and, look, there's always a question about voter apathy, right? That is the thing that the president is going to have to deal with heading into next year not just about this issue, but a range of issues whether it's about his age or liberals or progressive voters don't think he gave them everything that they wanted. One of the congressmen, Jared Moskowitz, told me this week he said, you don't have to love everything Joe Biden does. But you know what, if they stay home or they want to vote for a third-party candidate, then Donald Trump will be president.

Is that a message you think enough for the Democratic -- for the White House -- should they embrace that message and tell that to these younger voters who were with them last time but may not be with them this time?

NANCY COOK, BLOOMBERG SENIOR NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: That is basically the White House' whole strategy for Biden's reelection campaign. And we saw that repeatedly this week with them trying to draw contrast with Republicans on health care a lot. They have tried to do that with abortion. They have tried to do that with, you know, foreign policy.

Like, what would happen if Trump was in the White House, for instance, and this Israel-Hamas war would be happening? I think that the question is like, you know, how far does that -- does that go particularly when, you know, Trump is definitely the frontrunner, but the Republican primaries are not totally settled, yet. And so I think that they're -- because that's still up in the air, there are this time for there to be cracks in the Democratic coalition.

RAJU: Yes. I mean, but Biden has -- had said some major domestic legislative achievements through the -- in the first two years, well, there's infrastructure, the Inflation Reduction Act. They complain that they're not getting enough credit for that from voters, as we'll see how voters ultimately say.


But, look, foreign policy is in many ways downgraded his time in office. So what -- for you is you -- is you here at the White House, how do they try to balance that as they message us to voters?

KIM: Well, I think that, you know, going along with what David said in terms of how President Biden approaches foreign policy, he knows -- he feels that he is the one who has had the experience over decades.

And he -- and he seems sort of like tune out the noise when they hear, for example, all these -- all this kind of pushback from progressives and the left, but they just know that they have to kind of message things in a different way.

You know, you saw the kind of shift over, since the October 7th attack, from his staunch vocal support of Israel to highlighting more of the humanitarian concerns. Kind of making it clear that he was pushing, you know, Bibi behind the scenes about making sure that they are minimizing civilian casualties.

But the -- but the kind of his broad approach remains. And that's not going to change. He thinks this quiet diplomacy, not kind of responding to the everyday noise coming from Capitol Hill or his critics is not the way to go when it comes to really navigating delicate national security concerns like this.

RAJU: And the question, as this drags on, how do they change their approach? Clearly seeing a bit of a shift in the rhetoric, well, that intensifies this gets worse, we'll see.

All right. Coming up next, as he faces an array of legal troubles, Trump tries to flip the script and calls President Biden a threat to democracy. How Trump is working to lock down the nomination as his rivals struggle to catch up.



RAJU: Former President Trump, maybe the one who was indicted for efforts to overturn the 2020 election, but according to him, it's actually President Biden who poses the greatest threat to democracy.


TRUMP: But Joe Biden is not the defender of American democracy. Joe Biden is the destroyer of American democracy. And it's him and his people. They're the wreckers of the American dream. The American dream is dead with them in office.

So if Joe Biden wants to make this raise a question of which candidate will defend our democracy and protect our freedoms, and I say to Crooked Joe and he's crooked, the most corrupt president we've ever had, we will win that fight and we're going to win it very big.


RAJU: Now, Trump's attempt to flip the script was part of a broader attack on Biden, an attempt to paint the election as a two-man race. And it comes amid a tough week for Trump legally speaking. In appeals court rules, he could be sued for damages and civil lawsuits related to January 6.

Another judge concluded he does not have presidential immunity in his criminal case concerning the 2020 election and in New York, a court reinstated a gag order in his civil fraud case, an order that has already cost him $15,000 in fines.

But when it comes to politics, he continues to dominate the primary race. And although his team is not taking the early voting states for granted, they're actually ramping up spending to six figures weekly on ads in Iowa and New Hampshire. Those ads are also largely focused on Biden. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: America learned having a weak leader can tragically lead to American deaths, which is why America needs strength now more than ever.

(END VIDEO CLIP) RAJU: So, David, just about Trump's line of attack on Biden. This is what Trump does. When he has -- when he has something that is his vulnerability --

CHALIAN: Correct.

RAJU: -- he tries to take it again.

CHALIAN: Correct.

RAJU: Joe Biden.

CHALIAN: Let's gives some examples. So if your vulnerability is that your team sort of crooked and untrustworthy, you make Hillary Clinton crooked, right? And he rebrands it. That's part of his branding exercise.

If you believe that you are vulnerable on this charge of election interference, you describe everything that the Justice Department is doing against you as election interference. This is classic Trump.

So now on threat to democracy, which Donald Trump has proven himself clearly to be a threat to American democracy. You see him trying to flip the script here again. And, obviously, it doesn't apply to Joe Biden. There's no factual pattern to suggest that Joe Biden is a threat to American democracy.

But the question is, does this have the potential to be successful branding for Trump? And I say that because, you know, I watched this week, Tucker Carlson sat down with Roseanne Barr, two big Trump supporters talking about his support for Trump.

And they are, in that conversation, you hear one of the reasons that Tucker Carlson is so committed to Donald Trump that he said, is because when the Feds went in to Mar-a-Lago, that for him was an unthinkable thing and seemed totally like a political strategy from Joe Biden using the Justice Department and the law enforcement to go after his political opponent.

Again, there's no evidence of that, but it's not just Donald Trump doing a branding exercise here. There are tens of millions of Americans and supporters who are committed to this belief that Joe Biden is somehow tinkering with this.

And just look at our most recent polling, Manu, election integrity and voting rights, that's like second most important issue to people, to the economy, equally important to Republicans and Democrats.

So from where you sit, it's not one part of the other that they both see problems with this and Donald Trump is playing into that.

RAJU: And he hopes that, you know, voters who may be in the middle say, well, they both are threat to democracy and kind of -- kind of write out, kind of muddy the waters where he does.

What he also tried to muddy the waters on was the issue of Obamacare. He sort of stepped in it this week. He put out a post on Truth Social saying he wants to get rid of Obamacare. He wants to replace it with much better healthcare.

Yes, that used to be the Republican message several years ago. It now backed off of this amid blowback and I mean, Obamacare's rise in popularity.

But what was remarkable is yesterday, he gave a curious explanation about all this, trying to -- sort of seem to clean up what he said from earlier. And then suggested perhaps it was him who saved Obamacare.



TRUMP: We're also going to fight to give much better healthcare than what you have right now. This is a newer subject, but Obamacare is a disaster. And I said, we're going to -- we're going to do something about it.

I saved Obamacare when we got John McCain's negative vote. You know, he voted against it after campaigning for many, many years. He said, uh, thumbs down.


RAJU: So he saved Obamacare after John McCain voted against repealing part of Obamacare. And why did John McCain vote against it? Because they didn't have a replacement for Obamacare. They never came up with a replacement. But, yet, Trump clearly sees that what he said, perhaps he shouldn't have said.

COOK: Trump's message on Obamacare really took his advisers by surprise when he made that. That was something that is largely seen as settled in the Republican Party just because they fought for years to try to repeal it and they were not able to. And so it was an embarrassment and one that no one wants to touch now and everyone wants to leave alone.

ZANONA: And they thought it lost them the majority in 2018.

COOK: One hundred percent. And what's interesting to me is, you know, just the way that he tries to rewrite the narrative on Obamacare, he has been trying to do the same thing with abortion on the campaign trail.

He has said, you know, Republicans need to not be so extreme on abortion. This is an issue you have to be very careful with. But he is the one that appointed three Supreme Court justices that overturned a woman's right to an abortion.

And he acts like there's some great distance from that that he really has nothing to do with it. Granted there are a bunch of Republican governors who have passed more restrictive, you know, state bans since then. But he was really the one that led the charge to that. And so it's been interesting to see him try to walk these fine lines on policies that he was intimately involved in when he was president.

RAJU: And, you know, this all comes as the rise of Obamacare is growing in popularity among voters from the time it was enacted in 2010 till 2023, 59 percent of all adults had a favorable opinion of the Affordable Care Act in May of this year. Twenty-six percent of Republicans though have a favorable opinion, 89 percent of Democrats.

And then the question that NBC News posed in a recent poll about which party does a better job on health care. Register voters say Democrats, 45 percent, Republicans, 22 percent. Perhaps not surprisingly the Biden campaign, which hasn't done a lot of this in the campaign season so far, sees this, and sees the Trump comment and turn it into a campaign ad.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The last administration's policies were so troubling. The Biden administration lowered the cost of prescription drugs and passed laws to make health care more affordable. The idea that we could go back to the policies that helped the rich get richer and left so many people behind, I don't want to go back.


RAJU: This is what a lot of Democrats wanted to hear from, just to show this contrast more. And this ad, national ad running in seven key media markets clearly part of this uptick in strategy by the Biden campaign.

KIM: Right, right. I mean, for the longest time, you really didn't hear the word Trump come out of even the Biden campaign's mouth. But now you see they see more and more as a potential two-person race. And you hear the chorus of Democrats who want -- how want President Biden and who want his campaign to go after much harder on the former president. You're seeing these contrasts through ads. You're seeing, you know, what -- you know, what the president says himself. I think you're going to see an uptick in that -- much more of an uptick on that going forward.

RAJU: And, you know, this all comes as this race for second place continues to take place. We saw the Koch (PH) network putting money behind, say they were putting money behind Nikki Haley. Haley's running a campaign ad.

But first, actually, in Iowa and New Hampshire. The question is, can that make a difference?

And there's also the question about Ron DeSantis. What his strategy is in all of this. We've seen campaign officials with a super PAC step aside. He's visited all 99 counties. He insists, though, in the 99 countries in Iowa. He seems to be putting all of his eggs in the Iowa basket. But he said this morning he will not drop out even if he loses in Iowa.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So just to be clear, you are committed to staying in the race through the caucuses. Is Iowa do or die for you, Governor?

GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): We're going to win Iowa. I think it's going to help propel us to the nomination. But I think we'll have a lot of work that we'll have to do beyond that.


RAJU: But if he doesn't win Iowa, can he stay in this race?

ZANONA: There's a reason why his team has put all of their eggs in the Iowa basket, as you said. And, you know, theoretically, he has done everything that a candidate would need to do to win Iowa. He visited all 99 counties in the state -- in a state where retail politicking is very important. He has the endorsement of the governor who's really popular. He has the endorsement of a faith leader in the state who's really popular.

And, yet, he appears to be in the same position he was before he started that 99-county tour. In fact, in some ways, he's probably worse off because now he has Nikki Haley nipping at his heels.

So it does feel like time is running out. It's a question of who is going to be the second place contender. But a lot of skepticism about whether anyone can really beat Trump at this point.

RAJU: Yes. And real quickly, if you want to say.

COOK: Yes. Donors are going to stop giving him money if he doesn't win Iowa, which seems unlikely. And so he may want to stay in the race, but he will just not have the money to do it.


RAJU: Yes. Sometimes the decision may be for you. All right.

Coming up, new reporting on George Santos who got the SNL treatment last night along with our friend, Wolf Blitzer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have breaking news at the Capitol. Where disgraced and now expelled, Congressman George Santos.


Is giving his final press conference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK. Enough, enough, enough. Everyone, stop assaulting me. I'm being assaulted.


(COMMERCIAL BREAK) RAJU: Tempers flared among House Republicans yet again this past week as members of Congress took an unprecedented vote to expel one of their own.

Now, I have brand-new information from the man at the center of it all. George Santos who reached out to me and in a 2:47 A.M. text message just hours after his ouster.


But first, let's talk about Speaker Mike Johnson and his new struggles to lead a conference that oftentimes simply does not want to be led. Our new reporting from Melanie Zanona and agreeing for me this morning dives into the tumultuous relationship with some of his key dissidents, including Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, who has been blasting her fellow Republicans in increasingly personal terms when they break from her.


RAJU: Has this stranger relationship with your conference?

REP. MARJORIE TAYLOR GREENE, (R) GEORGIA: Well, again, I'll remind everyone that I didn't come here to make friends. I came here to do a job. And I represent my district. And I unapologetically represent the American people. And that means my -- my focus is on our country, not everyone else's country. And in doing so, I think that has upset other members in our conference. And I think that has to do maybe with them more than it does with me.


RAJU: Now, she's sort of emblematic of the challenges here, first, Speaker Johnson, she had a very close relationship with Kevin McCarthy, doesn't have one with Speaker Johnson. She's tried to force a number of votes, including on impeachment of Cabinet officials that have not gotten overwhelmed with some members of her party. She's taking shots at some of them. And now we're hearing about this new meeting that she tried to have with the Speaker ultimately did, what happened?

ZANONA: Yeah, so I was talking to Marjorie Taylor Greene and she said that she was really frustrated before the Thanksgiving recess, a about that failed vote to force an impeachment vote on Alejandro Mayorkas. But he also said she had a, quote, "very serious situation" with another unnamed male Republican member in the conference. And she was concerned about it and she went to Johnson, who was supposed to call her, according to Greene, never did before Thanksgiving.

Finally, he decided to connect with her just ahead of this second vote that she was going to force on impeaching Mayorkas, you know, she said he heard her out, gave her assurances that impeachment would move through committee and onto the floor, address the other matter as well. But it just -- and she did agree to pull that so she did not force the vote in the end. But it just goes to show that he's learning some lessons the hard way

on the job about just how difficult it is to manage some of these hardliners in the conference. And it's not just Greene, Max Miller, you and I both talked to on Capitol Hill. He's been really outspoken and critical of the new Speaker. And after he was really publicly critical, the Speaker tried to arrange a meeting with him according to our colleague Annie Grayer, and so far, Miller is rebuffing those requests, said he's still very upset about it.

RAJU: And you mentioned Max Miller, I spoke to him about Speaker Johnson on Friday, and he's been critical about Johnson's decision on Israel aid to tie to cuts to the IRS, is Miller who is Jewish, thinks that that was a real problem, because now it's not it's stalled. Although Johnson has a lot of support from the Republican conference and large on that issue. But Miller didn't hold back when I asked him about it.


RAJU: What grade would you give him a speaker, right?

REP. MAX MILLER, (R) OHIO: A D minus, I mean, I've lost a lot of faith and said he was an anti-CR guy and anti-Omni guy and anti-money guy, and anti-MAGA guy, and anti-Ukraine guy and anti-FISA (ph) off guy. And now he's all pro that, which is fine. And I'm glad he is, like I said, but it shows me that he was never morally convicted in his values to begin with since the six years he's been here as a member. So is that someone that I'm going to follow into the gates of hell and trust to go conference with the Senate? Absolutely not.


RAJU: I mean, look, Johnson's just been on the job for very short period of time, and a lot of the members do support what he's doing. But as Kevin McCarthy learned, one member could cause a lot of problems.

CHALIAN: And this is -- this is the reality, right? This also gets to the difference in personality of McCarthy and of Johnson in the relationships on the hill, but the fundamentals are the same. And therefore, as you're saying, Melanie, he has to learn a lot of the same lessons that McCarthy learned -- you guys talked about McCarthy being close with MTG, with Marjorie Taylor Greene, that wasn't initially so, right? That was an effort that McCarthy put into place understanding the math of his conference, and the factions he needed to bring together and -- and Speaker Johnson is going to have to learn the very same lessons and you see him embarking upon that.

RAJU: Yeah, and look, there's -- you're seeing him placate some of the hardliners. He released the January 6 tapes, and some of the hardliners had won, and he's also making clear that they're moving forward on an impeachment inquiry vote. That is something that Kevin McCarthy did not do, because it had concerns with some of the moderate members, didn't want to actually have to cast a vote to officially authorize an impeachment inquiry that they've been doing now for months. And I talked to some of those moderate members in swing districts. They're not saying yet if they are on board.


REP. MARC MOLINARO, (R) NEW YORK: I didn't come here to expel or impeach anyone. We're going to continue to digest the information in the course of the next couple of days and weeks.

REP. ANTHONY D'ESPOSITO, (R) NEW YORK: I want to make sure that the information in there is, you know, the basics that we've discussed. So I'll give it a read and we'll go from there.


RAJU: But this is the challenge is you placate the hardliners. Then you may alienate some of the folks in the middle, even if they go further with the impeachment inquiry, if they move forward Articles of Impeachment would be a much more significant vote. Those members will be the middle of that.

COOK: Exactly, and the moderates are looking ahead to 2024 and you know this is going to be a close election regardless of how it turns out. And I think that people don't necessarily want to, you know, moderate Republicans in districts that Biden may have won do not want to side with the far right of their party on the hill or go after impeachment things. They want to be seen doing things that voters say they care about, like dealing with the economy, dealing with immigration, crime, like those are the things that are important to voters. We don't see impeaching Biden coming up in survey after survey.


RAJU: And Johnson is going to be -- he has to deal with these key issues, funding the government in January and February because he the short-term increase, dealing with Ukraine. Now, he's suggested an openness to dealing with Ukraine as long as it's tied to border security. But the challenge is, what is enough to get Johnson support on immigration that can also get the support of someone like Chuck Schumer in the Senate.

MIN KIM: Right.

RAJU: That seems -- that puts all this stuff in jeopardy.

MIN KIM: Which was why his meeting with Senate Republicans this past week on Capitol Hill was really fascinating. So senators in that meeting told me and told all you guys that Johnson's message on the border was to get as much of H.R. 2 as possible in whatever compromise package emerged in the Senate. Now, H.R. 2 is that very hardline immigration package that is favored by House Republicans, but that package is not going anywhere in the Senate, which is led by Democrats. So what kind of a package can get? You know, 20 -- you know, 25 members of Senate Republicans, a majority of Senate Democrats and get enough House Republicans. That is a math equation. I'm not sure anyone has figured out and this comes at a time when the White House is beating the drum louder on how urgent it is to pass Ukraine funding.

I don't -- it was really significant when John Kirby, the National Security spokesman said this week that we have until the end of the year. This is the first kind of timeframe that the White House has put on the need for Ukraine funding. He said, we have until about the end of the year that it becomes really, really difficult to help Ukraine. And it is a crisis there and that's what the White House is begging for at this point.

RAJU: And Johnson has a small majority now, thanks to the expulsion of George Santos. Now, there's three seats -- three members you can lose at any party line vote, it used to be for that's a challenge. So just about George Santos. So after he was expelled in the early morning on Saturday morning at 2:47a.m. I got a text message from him responding to an accusation that we were talking about from Max Miller and the Congressman from Ohio, has accused Santos of defrauding him, saying that he was one of those people that was defrauded as a campaign donor. He said that George Santos swiped him and his mother's card for thousands more extra dollars and he spent thousands of dollars with attorneys trying to deal with the aftermath of that say cost him roughly 30k.

George Sanders didn't respond. We asked for comment after we made these allegations. Miller sent a letter to all of his colleagues moments before that vote. And George Santos responded to that in that text message to me. He said I never had access to his card, or his mother's. That was the last-minute lie they came up with two swing voters. He thought that this is totally Santos with this, quote, "moved minds."

He thinks that this could have cost him his expulsion, this last hour. This final allegation maybe was the straw that broke the camel's back. So -- but Miller is standing by this completely. I talked to him about this yesterday. He said show me one thing that George Santos has told the truth about since he run for office. George denies everything. But the evidence speaks for itself. You are tracking this vote very, very close.


RAJU: Do you think that it has had an impact? In the final analysis?

ZANONA: I do actually. The morning of the vote, it looked like momentum was starting to shift because the Speaker, all the leadership were lining up in support of Santos. And a lot of people were kind of on the fence, didn't know what to do. But then they saw this letter, and they were reminded of how much this is impacting people, even though he's not been convicted in a court of law, which I know some people were concerned about. They said the evidence is overwhelming and damning. So I do think it moved votes. But, you know, it was an overwhelming vote. So even if it only moved a few I'm not sure it was the determining factor. There's a whole list of other reasons why Republicans wanted him out. But I mean, you're so right to point out that now the majority is even smaller. And that was another concern that members at least privately were talking about as they were weighing this consequential vote. RAJU: The Democrats wasted no time saying that they would have spent a ton of money in this special election that will happen sometime next year. I mean, how hard it will be for Republicans to hold on to this seat?

CHALIAN: It is going to be a tough seat. It is a Biden district, but obviously Republicans won it in '22. But it is emblematic, of course, of the whole battle for control of the House. All these New York districts, they were the majority makers for House Republicans. So having this guy expelled, having a special election where by the way, the Democratic candidate could be the popular former congressman in the district that made it vacant initially for George Santos to come in and win. He's coming back to runs Tom Suozzi. And so if he wins the special, he'd be running as an incumbent and this could really upend a lot of the house math for Republicans to maintain their majority.

RAJU: Yeah, no question about it. Tight majority absolute rest but maybe they can pick up the Senate that map is much better from there.


All right thank you guys. Coming up, my exclusive interview with four of the most powerful men in college sports, why they came to Washington and why they say they need help from Congress.


RAJU: College football fans filled the stands this weekend for championship games across the country. But if just a few days before, four of the most powerful men in college sports found themselves not on the sidelines, but on Capitol Hill. Their goal, war lawmakers that urgent actions needed to enact a national law governing how student athletes profit off of their work. Now the Supreme Court ruled in 2021 in a landmark decision that student athletes could actually make money from their name, image and likeness was referred to as NIL and students have started to cash in with paid photographs signed autograph, signings sponsored social media posts and even TV campaigns.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hayley Williams has transferred to Wendy's for the new loaded nacho cheese burger.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This burger is my inspiration. And I just hope to inspire you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't you ever forget your bed by choice as of late has been naked juice, there's no question strawberry, banana is my favorite flavor because it's like 110% done.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like a good neighbor State Farm is there.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: State Farm is there for you and can help with your insurance needs.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Hey, Jenny, I got to get back to the game.


RAJU: Now, in an exclusive interview, I sat down with the commissioners of the four power conferences, the SEC, ACC, Big 10, and Big 12, who say the athletes in schools deserve a more level playing field in their first ever joint interview.


RAJU: Thank you guys for all sitting down with me. I mean, this has been two years since it's been greenlighted that college athletes can profit on their name, image, and likeness. What impact has this had on college sports so far?

GREG SANKEY, SEC COMMISSIONER: Well, I think first impact is it has created a disparity among states, where legislators are now changing their laws for competitive purposes. It certainly has created economic opportunity for young people, but it has introduced an unregulated marketplace.

RAJU: So why -- because there have been these different standards across the states, what -- how does that impact different schools, different -- each of your conferences?

JIM PHILLIPS, ACC COMMISSIONER: Well, we've had, you know, for over 100 years, laws and rules that have allowed competition to be done fairly. And if you're going to have inter and intra state competition, there has to be a uniformity in what you can and can't do. These are students and they're going to have a chance to monetize their name, image, and likeness. But they're -- it's not an employee-employer relationship.

RAJU: I know you guys favor an image and likeness, but how much is it impacted by what you're seeing within your respective conferences?

TONY PETITTI, BIG 10 COMMISSIONER: You've got a system where it's just -- it becomes very transactional, right? In terms of how student athletes are moving, and you see it on -- on the field, right? The grass isn't always greener, there isn't always a deal that comes through, right?

RAJU: And it's causing instability within these programs.

PETITTI: Yeah, I mean, programs can rise and fall very quickly, right, in some cases, but -- but even that system still benefits with traditional power schools are still going to do better in those areas, right? It's just -- it doesn't really overcome a lot of that.


RAJU: Now, the commissioner say recruiters are taking advantage of the uneven playing field, and some athletes end up chasing the money. Senators have come up with a slew of proposals with at least three bills on the table. Their ideas include regulating the groups that actually pay the athletes, addressing the issue of revenue sharing, and even pay penalizing early transfers. But Congress has its plates full and its future of this legislation is uncertain. Ted Cruz, who's working on one of the NIL bills told my colleague Ted Barrett, quote, "I am cautiously optimistic. I think the prospects of passing NIL legislation are about 60/40."

And Democratic Senator Cory Booker, who's also working on this effort told me, I think everybody who has a football or basketball player in their state is interested in getting it done. The Commissioners, they say they're open to compromise.


RAJU: Did Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer's expressed openness and interest in this when you met with them?

SANKEY: They're both very much interested. And, in fact, both reflected on each other the importance of having conversations on both sides of the aisle and --

RAJU: Do you think it's actually going to come to the floor? I mean, it's hard to get?

SANKEY: Oh, it's, you know, my high school civics teacher would be enormously proud of, that I finally learned what I was being taught back then. And it's -- there's nothing easy. I think we have a responsibility to try.

RAJU: There's always a debate among -- politically among Republicans about setting national standards versus doing it on the state level, most Republicans that philosophically view it as we should deal with the state by state and not set national standards. So you found any resistance in the push for a national standard, given their approach on this -- these kinds of issues?

SANKEY: Sure. Questions about that like, why -- why is this necessary? Now, our federal government does have a role in interstate commerce. That's a reality.

BRETT YORMARK, BIG 12 COMMISSIONER: I think there's an openness Manu. That's why we're here.

RAJU: Yeah.

YORMARK: Everyone's willing to engage and have the conversation. And there's going to be given take, like anything, but there's a real openness to try to move this forward.

RAJU: If this gets punted, though, as Congress typically does on complicated issues upon stepping into the next Congress, what's the risk?

SANKEY: The risk is we see states further build walls around their recruiting grounds, thinking that that somehow provides a competitive advantage. The risk is that more and more young people sign agreements that they don't understand. The risk is we move further and further from the academic nature of college sports.


PHILLIPS: I'd say the risk is permanent damage to an enterprise that has meant an awful lot to our country and to those that have benefited from the experiences.


RAJU: I also ask the commissioners who would win the college football championship, but for that check out Inside Politics on X, and they may not be Wisconsin and football this year. But watch out on the basketball court for Wisconsin, especially after that big win against Marquette yesterday on Wisconsin.

All right, coming up, a barrage of House members are calling it quits, what's behind their decisions.


RAJU: When it comes to surviving a toxic workplace, sometimes the only solution is to call it quits. That seems to be the case and the House of Representatives at least, 30 members say -- so far say they will not seek reelection in 2024. That's more than at this point in the last Congress and more could be considering bowing out soon ahead of their deadlines to file for reelection.


Even former Speaker Kevin McCarthy could join the list with his filing deadline on Friday. He told me a few weeks ago that he's taking the holidays to talk with his family about whether to continue in Congress. And many members are simply tired of the chaos and unpredictability of Congress from lurching from crisis to crisis. I kind of with Michigan -- Michigan, Congressman Dan Kildee whose cancer diagnosis is a primary reason for his retirement. But he told me, that was not the only reason for that decision.


REP. DAN KILDEE, (D) MICHIGAN: It's hard to leave the House on one day and tell my wife, I'll be home Thursday, or maybe Friday or maybe in 10 days, and then not come home, having moved something meaningful through the Congress could affect somebody's life in a positive way. I got other ways to make a difference. And that's what I'm going to focus on.


RAJU: And that's it for Inside Politics Sunday. Up next, State of the Union with Jake Tapper and Dana Bash. Dana will be speaking with Senator Lindsey Graham and Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal. Thanks again for sharing your Sunday morning with us. We'll see you next time.