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CIA Dir To Meet Israeli & Egyptian Intel Chiefs On Hostages; Axios: Biden Tells Netanyahu He's Not In It For A Year Of War In Gaza; Families Of The American Hostages In Gaza Release Statement Ahead Of Intel. Holocaust Remembrance Day; Texas Defies Supreme Court Ruling On Border; Trump Calls For "All Willing States" To Deploy National Guard Troops To Texas. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired January 26, 2024 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: CIA Director Bill Burns will go to Europe to try to broker a deal between Israel and Hamas terrorists. His goal is to bring home all remaining hostages kidnapped during the October 7th terror attack in exchange for a prolonged pause of fighting in Gaza. Now, Burns is expected to meet with the intelligence chiefs for Israel and Egypt along with Qatar's prime minister.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez joins me now live from the White House. Priscilla, how optimistic are your sources in the White House about a deal coming together?

PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, whether a deal can come together is still a really big question mark going into the weekend. But the flurry of activity over recent weeks does amount to the most intensive effort we've seen so far on trying to reach a deal since last November.

And that's important here and notable with the CIA Director Bill Burns heading to Europe to engage in these multi-party negotiations talks about the parameters of a deal that would include a cessation in fighting and the release of additional hostages.

Now, people in the table here include also Egypt and Qatar. Both have been key players in brokering with Hamas, including last November, when we saw the release of hostages. And Burns then was also crucial in bringing this deal together. Now, of course, we should note these talks are often very sensitive and delicate. So whether they can come to an agreement, still very much unclear.

But U.S. officials have been pushing for a potential pause in fighting to not only get hostages out, but also get more aid in. This is part of a broader conversation that is happening with all of the different parties that are trying to get these hostages released from Hamas, who are in Gaza.

And again, this has all been very delicate leading up to this moment. These are going to be very important talks that are happening in Europe over the course of the weekend. How that manifests in the coming days, still unclear. But as the White House said yesterday, these are sober, conversations when they're taking very seriously.

BASH: OK, Priscilla, thank you so much.

I want to now bring in Axios Reporter Barak Ravid. He is also a CNN Political and Global Affairs Analyst. Thank you so much for being here. What are you hearing about these talks with Bill Burns and others?

BARAK RAVID, CNN POLITICAL AND GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think the main goal of those talks is not to broker a deal. We're not there yet. But there is a preliminary stage, and this is how to coordinate between the U.S. and Israel and the Qatari and Egyptian mediators so that each side will do what it needs to do to try and reach some sort of a breakthrough.

And this means, especially the Qataris and Egyptians, that the U.S. and Israel want them not only to be a facilitator, but an actual mediator that goes into the details and try now to put forward some sort of creative solutions that will enable to break the deadlock.

BASH: Barak, I want to ask you about your new great reporting about the phone call between President Biden and Prime Minister Netanyahu. Look, for by all accounts, for a very long time, President Biden was completely and totally let Israel do what Israel needs to do.

His patience is clearly running thin, not just because of what he's seeing on the ground there, but also we know the political reality that he's facing. We see protesters every single time, practically, that he speaks in front of an audience. Tell us about your reporting.

RAVID: Well, I think that's exactly it. That it's not only that Biden's patience is running out, is that the presidential campaign is started. And the clock for November 24 is -- this is what's running out. And Biden's people, several of them told me, that they want to do everything to make sure that when we get closer to the elections, what dominates the news is not the war in Gaza because it hurts Biden, especially among young voters. And this is his weak spot and they want to somehow find a solution.


So last Friday, when he spoke to Prime Minister Netanyahu, he really pressed them on how to scale down the idea of operations in Gaza. And he told them, listen, Bibi, I'm not in it for a year of war in Gaza. If this war started in October, then a year is October 24, several weeks before the election.

BASH: And of course, Prime Minister Netanyahu has his own domestic political realities that he needs to face. Not the least of which is that it's hard to -- hard for anybody to imagine that he's going to easily stay in power after this war is over, right?

RAVID: Exactly, and his only way to stay in power is if he sticks to his radical right wing coalition partners. And his radical right wing coalition partners don't really care what President Biden wants or what he needs, and they have no intention of allowing Netanyahu to end the war and just sit idly by and do nothing.

BASH: Before I let you go, I want to ask about the International Court of Justice, also known as the U.N.'s top court. It ruled Israel must act immediately to ensure its forces prevent genocide in Gaza. What do you make of that decision?

RAVID: Well, I think there are several points here. First, unlike what South Africa wanted and that many people expected to happen, the court did not issue an order calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. I think this is very meaningful because when you look at the operational side of what the court said and what his -- its order said is that it's mostly -- I don't want to say symbolic, but it's not really operational.

The only operational point is to allow more humanitarian aid into Gaza. So this is sort of a warning sign for Israel, a very serious warning sign because the court also says that within 30 days, it expects Israel to report what it did to prevent acts of genocide in Gaza.

So basically, it gives Israel 30 days to somehow show that it's changing its policy. The policy is not going to change. We might see another order in 30 days.

BASH: Barak, thank you so much for coming on and sharing your excellent reporting. Nice to talk to you as always.

RAVID: Thank you.

BASH: And on the eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day, families of the American hostages still held captive in Gaza by Hamas terrorists are pleading for the release of their loved ones. And they've released a statement that says, in part, "On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, we must reflect on the atrocities inflicted on the Jewish people 70 years ago as a reminder of what can happen in silence.

It has been 112 days since Hamas stole our loved ones, many with life- threatening injuries. They've endured extreme abuse, sexual violence and torture. We have no proof of life and there has been no medical intervention from international organizations. We need a deal to bring everyone, our mothers, fathers, daughters and sons, home now."

We'll be right back.



BASH: Texas is ignoring the highest court in the land. This week, the Supreme Court ruled that the Biden administration has the legal authority to remove razor wire along the southern border. But the Lone Star State governor doesn't care and is blocking federal agents from accessing it. And CNN even saw more wire after being -- after the ruling came down. Rosa Flores was there, was part of the reporting team talking and -- about this, looking at this extensively. Rosa, tell our viewers exactly what you saw.

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we're seeing is that the state of Texas is in defiance. They are deploying more razor wire and more anti-climbing fence. But Dana, really, it's migrants who are caught in the middle of this border battle between Texas and federal authorities.

And we have video to show you this. Because what you see -- and I'm hoping that we're rolling this video -- it's a migrant couple from Venezuela. They fled the Maduro regime, and they spent two days on the U.S. banks of the Rio Grande, right by the razor wire.

They had no food, they had no water, and they were cut by the razor wire. They had razor wire wounds. And they waited there for two days. Now we witnessed as they jumped the border barrier and then they were apprehended by Texas authorities.

Now here's what's so extraordinary about this. Under normal circumstances, it would be the federal government, federal law enforcement agents, border patrol agents who would take those individuals into custody as soon as they get onto U.S. territory. It wouldn't be -- they wouldn't be waiting there for two days with no food and no water.

What's extraordinary about this is that because the state of Texas has taken over 2.5 miles of river and of the Shelby park area, these migrants are having to wait. Now a few points to make given the conversations that are happening in Washington, D.C. over the border and about the border, is that those border barriers, they're not stopping illegal immigration with smugglers are doing is they're just simply taking the migrants for either further north or further south from those border barriers and crossing them anyway.

And the other point is that both Governor Greg Abbott and Republicans are accusing the Biden administration of not enforcing federal law on the border.


Well, as you saw from that video of that couple, Dana, it's impossible for border patrol agents to enforce federal law in that area because they don't have access to that area, because it's Texas who has command and control of the area and it's blocking Border Patrol from entering.

And I talked to a law enforcement source this morning and they still don't have access. Dana?

BASH: Incredible. Thank you so much for bringing us what you saw down there with your own eyes and our cameras. Appreciate it, Rosa.

And my panel is back with us. Kasie, Daniel and Carrie are here. I just want to emphasize that Greg Abbott made the move. It's his state, it's his border, but he has the support of 25 of the 26 Republican governors, all wrote a letter saying, go Greg Abbott. We completely support you.

And let me just play some of what his fellow Republican governors have said about his move.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R), FLORIDA: You have Texas here that's holding its ground. They have every right to fortify the border vis-a-vis an invasion.

GOV. KRISTI NOEM (R), SOUTH DAKOTA: Governor Abbott has done the exact right thing, and I'll drive him more razor wire from South Dakota if I have to.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Donald Trump has suggested to all the Republican governors out there, send members of your state's National Guard. In your case, Governor, it would be the Oklahoma National Guard. Send them down to Texas to help Greg Abbott. Are you going to do that?



BASH: So, this is the U.S. Supreme Court including one of the three justices who Donald Trump appointed, Amy Coney Barrett, siding with a majority that said, you can't do this. And all of these Republican governors, starting with Greg Abbott, are saying, well, we're going to do it anyway.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: It creates this incredible difficult situation in real life. But as a matter of the law, what's interesting here, Dana, is there's over 150 years worth of law that exists that really establishes the primacy of the federal government when it comes to border authorities and immigration authorities.

So this is actually an area of law that has been pretty well settled for a really long time that the federal government has the stronger authorities here. National Guard authorities are an interesting intersection between state authority and the federal authority. And what I'm really worried about here, Dana, is that they create a situation.

Rosa's reporting talked about the threats that migrants are dealing with in terms of their physical safety in this situation. I'm worried about a scenario in addition to that where we have an actual, you know, potential risk of physical altercation or standoff between state National Guard authorities and the Federal Border Patrol.

I mean, there really is a risk if you think about how would they actually enforce what the Supreme Court has said with respect to the razor wire in particular. We don't want to create a situation, politicians shouldn't want to create a situation where they are pitting state and federal authorities against each other. BASH: Can you imagine something like that happening and you're saying it's not that far-fetched from our imagination. Hopefully that doesn't happen.


BASH: But my mind is going back like a hundred more years when, you know, the fights between people at the state level and people at the federal level weren't just rhetorical.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR, EARLY START: No, for sure. You know, I mean, I think, hopefully we're still a couple steps away from what you outline, although certainly it's of enormous concern. I think that what it tells you is that the politics of this issue are so incredibly inflammatory that for that, you know, for the governor of Oklahoma, there is no other answer --

BASH: Yes.

HUNT: -- to a question on Fox News. Are you going to send your National Guard to the border? I mean, there's -- politically, there's no other option for him to say this. So, you have a situation where politics and the law are colliding. And, you know, I think the reality, too, for the Biden administration, I mean, the politics of this might actually be such that it would be better for them to just leave the wire up.

But they're not doing that because of, you know, they're following the law. I mean, this is such -- you know, there's a reason this problem has bedeviled our politics for decades now. Like, I mean, Dana, when you were covering the Hill, they were trying to -- they've been trying to do this since, what, 2005?

BASH: Decades. Yes.

HUNT: With George W. Bush, and they just can't do it and it always devolves, and it's going to get worse before it gets better.

BASH: And they're, I mean, trying to get a deal done as we speak, a not comprehensive immigration reform, but sort of a narrow deal to at least deal with some issues with regard to immigration policy that have -- that are totally at, you know, antiquated, which is why we have these problems. And Donald Trump is saying, don't do it.


DANIEL STRAUSS, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Right. And it's an -- look, for Republican politics, this is an issue that the party feels is one of their best bets of retaining control -- or regaining control of the White House and regaining full control of Congress. Because you have, we're at a point where there are mayors in -- Democratic mayors in cities that are also saying that immigration --

BASH: Yes.

STRAUSS: -- and the overflow of migrants to the country is something we can't handle anymore. And for immigration hawks in the Republican Party, this is the moment that they feel that they can use this as a catapult to have electoral wins.

BASH: I think the technical term for what is going on is, it is a total mess. Total and complete mess.

HUNT: I mean, I think you could use a word that doesn't --

BASH: Yes.

HUNT: -- you can't say on television.

BASH: Yes, yes, no, family friendly.

Thanks everybody. Much more after the break. Stay with us.



BASH: Please join me this Sunday for State of the Union. Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi will be my guest, along with South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem. I hope to see you this Sunday morning, 9:00 a.m. Eastern, right here on CNN.

Thank you so much for joining INSIDE POLITICS. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts after a quick break.