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House Set to Vote on Officially Launching the Biden Impeachment Inquiry Today; Hunter Biden Defies House Republicans, Refuses to Testify Behind Closed Doors; Families of American-Israeli Hostages Meet With President Biden. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired December 13, 2023 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR OF 'INSIDE POLITICS': You and I are both Gen Xers as well. So, the Motley Crew, Guns N' Roses reference, we also got that. Everybody else, hopefully you got it too. Thank you, Jeff, appreciate it.

And tonight, Republican presidential hopeful Vivek Ramaswamy joins our Abby Phillip for a CNN Presidential Town Hall live from Iowa at 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN.

Coming up, back in Washington, House Republicans are set to take a big step forward in their Biden impeachment probe. There's still no proof of wrong doing by President Biden. The question is whether it will backfire on Republicans politically.


BASH: Hunter Biden is defying House Republicans, refusing to sit down for a closed-door deposition today. Instead, he wants to testify publicly and offered the House GOP, they are not taking that. They are refusing that. And in fact, this morning, outside the Capitol, Hunter Biden was there and said this entire investigation is about trying to embarrass and damage his father.


HUNTER BIDEN, PRESIDENT BIDEN'S SON: I'm here today to acknowledge that I've made mistakes in my life, and wasted opportunities and privileges I was afforded. In the depths of my addiction, I was extremely irresponsible with my finances.


H. BIDEN: But to suggest that is grounds for an impeachment inquiry is beyond the absurd, it's shameless. There's no evidence to support the allegations that my father was financially involved in my business because it did not happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BASH: House Republicans disagree and are now initiating contempt proceedings against the president's son, saying everyone must comply with a congressional subpoena.


REP. JAMES COMER, (R-KY): This is an investigation about public corruption at the highest level. We have accumulated mountains of evidence that's concerning to an overwhelming majority of Americans.

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): Look, Congress asked you to come, you are supposed come and testify.


BASH: We should point out that Congressman Jim Jordan himself defied a subpoena from the January 6th Committee. Let's bring in our political panel, Astead Herndon of "The New York Times" and Leigh Ann Caldwell of "The Washington Post." Leigh Ann, I'll start with you. That's kind of rich coming from Jim Jordan, who again did not comply with a subpoena from his own colleagues about the attack the Capitol on January 6th. When is your sense of how far this is going to go? Once it starts, it's kind of hard to stop an impeachment inquiry, right?

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yeah, absolutely. Not only did Jim Jordan defy a subpoena, the entire -- the Trump Administration set a new precedent during his years in complying with Congress. They refused to repeatedly, over and over again, and it mostly went to the court system. But, yes, it's extremely hard if an impeachment inquiry is opened for them not to impeach because you know what's going to happen then, Dana, is that then there will be headlines saying if they don't move to impeachment saying Biden exonerated. And that's probably not something that Republicans want in the middle of a presidential election.

But, I will say that this is politically tricky for Republicans. And that's why it took them several months to actually hold this formal vote on the House floor. There's a lot of vulnerable Republicans, he didn't want to do it. Now, sources tell me that as long as these Republicans focus on gathering more information that this is just an inquiry, they just need to find the truth, then it becomes more politically manageable, Dana.

BASH: And Astead, I want you to listen to something else that Jim Jordan said. This is about what Hunter Biden said today and the Congressman from Ohio parsing those words. Let's listen.


JORDAN: I think he made an interesting statement, he said his father was not financially involved in the business. And I think that qualifier, the word "financially" is important because, once again, it shows another change, another change in the story. First, it was no involvement. Then I never talked to anyone. And then we find out about the dinners, the meetings, the phone calls and everything else. Now, it's -- he wasn't involved in the business financially. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BASH: What do you make of that, Astead?

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: Yeah. I mean, I think this is the argument that Republicans have been trying to put together for the better part of the last couple of years. The idea that Hunter was trading on his father's influence and also that there could be a specter of involvement from the president. I think it's important to say that they have not produced any real evidence on this front. And this impeachment inquiry is another attempt for them to try to use the levers of government to gather that evidence rather than what we typically see, which is the opposite, and that evidence actually informing how the lawmakers act.

And so, I think what we hear from Jim Jordan here is a continuance of kind of banging that drum. But the evidence kind of politically is that this has only really been a motivating factor for the Republican base. The Republicans have tried to make this kind of a flattened corruption argument between Democrats and Republicans, or make Biden the same as Trump. And voters haven't really bought that. What is true though is that there's a Republican majority among their own electorate that is driving the new speaker and is really pushing them to get aligned on this inquiry vote.

BASH: And Leigh Ann, I see you on Capitol Hill. It looks to me like you're in a place where you're just steps from the House floor. What do we expect with this vote coming up?

CALDWELL: We expect this vote to pass. Of course, Republicans only have a three-vote margin today on if this is going to pass or not. All Republicans are expected to vote for it except perhaps maybe Representative Ken Buck of Colorado. He's been really concerned about it, but he's now saying that he now has some concerns with Hunter not showing and the Administration not complying on a couple of the requests that Republicans have made.


CALDWELL: So, it's going to be an overwhelming vote by the Republicans. And Jim Jordan has indicated that he's going to hold Hunter Biden in contempt because he did not show up for that closed- door deposition today. But one last thing is that some Republicans are warning that this really could backfire politically. They note that during the first impeachment of Donald Trump, in the middle of that, Donald Trump saw his highest approval ratings of his presidency because the public did not like that he was getting impeached. They didn't want an impeachment. They didn't want the chaos. And so, that's something the Republicans are concerned about. But, they are acting very aggressively right now, Dana.

BASH: Yeah. It's all about the base, as always, in the House of Representatives these days. Astead and Leigh Ann, thank you so much for that. Appreciate your reporting, both of you. And ahead is CNN exclusive, new information about Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election, details about a pivotal Oval Office meeting just days before January 6th.



BASH: Family members of American hostages who are still being held by Hamas in Gaza were meeting with President Biden at the White House and they just walked out to speak to cameras. Let's listen.


JONATHAN DEKEL-CHEN, FATHER OF ISRAELI HOSTAGE WITH HAMAS: Thank you. My name is Jonathan Dekel-Chen. I'm the father of Sagui Dekel-Chen, a 35-year-old father. He was abducted on Kibbutz Nir Oz on October 7th. We met today with President Biden and other people from the Administration. It was a terrific, terrific meeting and conversation. I think we all came away feeling that as families of hostages of American-Israeli hostages, which are eight out of total of 138 hostages, we felt that -- we felt before and we were only reinforced in seeing and believing that we could have no better friend in Washington or in the White House than President Biden himself and his Administration.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pope Francis today called for an immediate release of all the hostages. Do you believe the Vatican can help bring your loved ones home?

LIZ NAFTALI, GREAT AUNT OF ABIGAIL EDAN, FORMER ISRAELI HOSTAGE: I'll add -- I'm Liz Hirsh Naftali. I'm Abigail Edan Mor's great aunt and we are blessed because she is back with her family after she was a hostage for 50 days and witnessed her parents being murdered on October 7th. And what I can tell you is that Abigail is a miracle. She's a light in this very dark time. And metaphorically, a lot of our families that are here today, we are all one big family looking to get all of these people's sons and fathers and mothers out, that we are here because the president and his team have been bringing out light in this dark time.

And Abigail, who is a four-year-old, is a symbol of that light. As we come to the Christmas holiday, I hope that the Pope continues to speak and others around the world not only pray, but pray for us, pray for our families, pray for our leaders, pray for the president and that the Pope and all that he can do is to push. We love a Christmas miracle. We would love all our loved ones to come back and be with us for Christmas. So when you talk about the Pope, our hope is that he and others like himself will influence these people in the Middle East that are all actors in this part of getting these hostages out. And that is all of our hope for a Christmas miracle.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you talk about what kind of communication you have been getting? You are getting updates on a daily basis. What kind of the communication you are getting from the White House? And thank you, of course, for talking with us. DEKEL-CHEN: Yeah. Well, I can say this. Since a day or two after the massacre on October 7th and the mass hostage taking by Hamas, we all began to be contacted by representatives of the United States government, the Embassy and Israel State Department, Secretary Blinken, and within just a few short days, President Biden was on a video call with us. And since that time, we have been in frequent and very transparent contact with administration officials and we have also really benefitted, I think, and most importantly, our sons, daughters, fathers, sisters, brothers, mothers have also really seen how in a very divided time, members of Congress, members of the Senate from wall to wall have shown solidarity with us.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you still waiting for word on your loved ones and their release? Was the president able to share anything about their condition, about where they are?

DEKEL-CHEN: We are going to keep the content of the conversation private. It was a private meeting between representatives of the eight families still, and a ninth family or two other families whose loved have been released already. But we are going to keep the private conversations private.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Obviously, the world witnessed a great miracle, as you indicated, when some of the hostages were freed as a function of the temporary ceasefire. What specifically are you requesting of the U.S.


BASH: And we have been listening to family members of hostages who are still inside Gaza, 68 days now after October 7th. These are American citizens being held.

This is -- that is Jonathan Dekel-Chen, it is the Chen family, the Neutra family, the Alexander family after meeting with President Biden saying that he is trying to be helpful, but obviously, there have been no hostages released for several weeks now.

We are going to take a quick. We'll be right back.



BASH: Thank you for joining us today, live from New Hampshire on "Inside Politics." Be sure to tune in tonight for a CNN Town Hall with Vivek Ramaswamy, our Abby Phillip is going to moderating that live from Iowa at 9:00 Eastern, right here on CNN. "CNN News Central" starts after the break.