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Secy. Blinken Meets With Qatari Prime Minister; Appeals Court Unanimously Rejects Trump Immunity Claim; At Least Two House Republicans Say They Will Vote Against Impeaching Mayorkas. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired February 06, 2024 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Let's get straight to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Doha.

ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: -- the last pause, the initial pause: 105 hostages out, a significant increase in humanitarian assistance getting in, the repair of critical infrastructure in Gaza, and more broadly, reduced regional tensions at the same time.

So together with Qatar and Egypt, we put forward, as you know, a serious proposal that was aimed at not simply repeating the previous agreement but expanding it. As the prime minister just said, Hamas responded tonight. We're reviewing that response now, and I'll be discussing it with the government of Israel tomorrow. There's still a lot of work to be done, but we continue to believe that an agreement is possible and, indeed, essential. And we will continue to work relentlessly to achieve it.

We had meetings already on this trip in Riyadh, in Cairo, now today in Doha, focused on ensuring as well that we can use any pause to continue to build out plans for the day after in Gaza -- the security, humanitarian, reconstruction, governance -- all bringing real challenges with them, but that's exactly why we are and need to be focused on them now.

We're also determined to use any pause to continue to pave a diplomatic path forward to a just and lasting peace and security for the region. That is the best way, the best way to ensure that October 7th and the tragic loss of life by Israelis and Palestinians is not repeated.

When I was last in the region a few weeks ago, I said then that there is a very powerful path that we can see before us to actually get to lasting peace and security, and it's coming ever more sharply into focus. An Israel that is integrated into the region with security guarantees from its neighbors and partners alongside a practical, timebound, irreversible path to a Palestinian state living side-by- side in peace with Israel, with the necessary security arrangements for both peoples. On this visit, one of our key objectives has been to continue to hammer out the substance and sequence of all the steps that would be necessary to enable us to move down that path. Now, that's one path. It's clear -- and you can see that it gets us to a destination that would benefit virtually everyone in the region and, as I said, bring lasting peace and security to Israelis and Palestinians alike.

But there are those who want to move the region in a different direction and take a different path and who are actively working to sabotage every effort to move towards lasting peace and security. Just look at what we've seen in the last couple of months and indeed in the last couple of weeks. Attacks in Syria and Iraq, attacks on Israel from Lebanon, attacks on international shipping in the Red Sea, attacks in Jordan that killed three U.S. service members, and of course, the attack on Israel on October 7th.

Each and every one carried out by groups trained, armed, funded, and formed by Iran. Iran and its proxies claim that they're carrying out these attacks somehow on behalf of the Palestinian people. That is absolutely wrong and it's a cover for their true intent.


Not a single one of these attacks has advanced the rights, the opportunities, the security, and the dignity of the Palestinians. They are all fundamentally about Iran's quest for power.

Since October 7th, we've been very clear in warning any actor that would try to take advantage of the conflict: Don't do it. We've been very clear that we do not want to see the conflict expanded, we don't want to see escalation. But we've also been clear that if our personnel, if our people are threatened, if they're attacked, we will respond. We will defend them.

We are responding to violence, not initiating it. We're seeking to prevent escalation, not fuel it. And as we do this, we will continue to use every tool available to us to reach an extended pause that gets hostages out, that gets more assistance in, that brings calm to Gaza's civilians, and that keeps diplomacy moving forward toward an integrated and more secure region.

In these efforts, we're very fortunate to have Qatar as a partner. Thank you.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We open the floor to questions. Saber Ayoub, Al Araby TV.

SABER AYOUB, AL ARABY TV: Saber Ayoub, Al Araby TV. My first question is addressed to his excellency Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs. What is the evaluation of Qatar for the regional developments?

BASH: OK, you've been listening to U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is in Doha, Qatar working feverishly with partners in Qatar and of course, Saudi Arabian leaders to try to find some kind of deal to get the remaining hostages, Israeli hostages, even some Americans. Six of them still who are inside Gaza believe to be there out.

I want to get straight to CNN's Alex Marquardt who has been reporting on the hostage negotiations. First, your sense of what was said, what wasn't said and also more importantly, what are you learning from your sources, Alex?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, this is clearly a step forward, but the deal is not there yet. So what Secretary Blinken and his Qatari counterpart are announcing just now is something that we've been waiting for for more than a week. And that is the Hamas response to what we've been calling a broad framework to get a hostage deal, a ceasefire deal in place.

This was something that was agreed to, by the U.S. with the CIA Director Bill Burns, his Israeli and Egyptian counterparts, as well as Prime Minister Al Thani, of Qatar, who you saw just there. Last -- the weekend before last in Paris, that deal was then presented to Hamas. They were not in attendance in Paris, of course. And so we have been waiting to see what they would say.

Now, in the meantime, Hamas had been given -- had been giving indications that they would not accept a deal that does not lead to the end of the war, that would not see Israeli soldiers leave the Gaza Strip and that is something that Israel so far has been refusing to do.

So what we've got here, Dana, is Hamas's response, which the Qatari Prime Minister said is generally positive. And Secretary Blinken saying it is something that they are reviewing that he will present to the Israeli government tomorrow. He's traveling from Qatar, to Israel, he'll meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu and others tomorrow.

And this is what we were expecting. Not a yes or no from Hamas, but a counterproposal. And right now, we don't have the details of that counterproposal. But it's clear that this is moving forward in a generally positive direction.

BASH: I mean, that's better than nothing, for sure. But, of course, there are so many families, the families of hundreds of people, more than 100 people, I should say, in Israel and around the world who have been waiting for well over 100 days to find out where their loved one is, and in the hopes that their loved one is still with us and will be able to be released.

Thank you so much, Alex, for that. I really appreciate putting it into context and giving us the reporting that you have.

MARQUARDT: Thank you.

BASH: And coming up, more developments on the big -- the other big story here in Washington. A federal appeals court says Donald Trump does not have immunity in the January 6 case. What does it mean as his courtroom and campaign calendars continue to collide? We'll look at that next.


BASH: Donald Trump is already fundraising off of federal appeals court rejecting his claim of immunity. Minutes after the ruling his campaign sent it an email asking for cash saying in part, "They won't stop until the MAGA movement is erased. They won't stop until they have complete control."

My reporter panel joins me now. CNN's Kristen Holmes, Toluse Olorunnipa -- I can get that right someday, Toluse -- of The Washington Post and CNN's Lauren Fox. I don't think it's a huge surprise that he's fundraising up particularly when you think about $50 million that --


BASH: -- all of the energy spent already of campaign cash on his legal fees. What more are you hearing from the campaign?

HOLMES: I think all of this is really them trying to figure out what this means for timing.


What we've seen them do in all of the various legal cases is tried to delay this past the 2024 election. And the one thing that they had been pleased with was last week, Judge Chutkan essentially taking this off the calendar. They thought that meant good things for them that could possibly be pushed even further.

And once it gets closer and closer to the election, there is a belief that it's possible that they won't bring the case at all. Now, that changes things. Because of this February 12 deadline that they've been given, there's questions about whether or not this moves up the timeline, whether or not you're going to see this trial earlier rather than later.

BASH: Yes. And then there's this trial, which is kind of one look at some of the Trump-related cases, some of the Trump-related cases and the Supreme Court. This Thursday, the Supreme Court is going to hear arguments in whether or not he should be banned from the ballot in Colorado, which would have an effect more broadly than Colorado.

Of course, we're waiting for the Supreme Court on now on January 6, on immunity and then later on the obstruction law. And then we have the federal gag order. So this is going to be, if he does become the nominee, the constant tail of the Trump campaign.

TOLUSE OLORUNNIPA, WHITE HOUSE BUREAU CHIEF, THE WASHINGTON POST: Certainly, and I'm sure former President Trump is happy that he put three justices on the Supreme Court at the moment like this, because he is going to be before them over and over again. He's going to have to take his case to the people that he appointed, as well as take a number of these key cases of constitutionality before the Supreme Court. And hopefully, in his mind, the people that he appointed have the same view that he does. Now, they haven't always agreed with him on every issue. And so the fact that he's going to be spending so much time on the campaign trail, dealing with the courts, dealing with a Supreme Court makes it harder for him to bring his message to the American people about what he would do in a second term.

BASH: Yes. And Lauren, because we have you here, I got to get your -- get you to dump out your notebook and everything that you're learning right now about what is going on on Capitol Hill where you spend most of your time.

First and foremost, I thought it was really interesting that Senator Lankford who negotiated this bill is leaving open the possibility that he might vote no on the procedural move tomorrow. He says, if it's clear that people want to talk, that's one thing, but if they just want to kill the bill, that's another thing. That would be amazing.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You had an incredible follow up to that too, which was how are you going to know the difference between those two things, because the reality is time is not making the situation better. Time has not made the situation better. For weeks, the right was assailing this bill, Trump was attacking this bill.

And the people who were negotiating it, for good reason wanted to keep it close hold, but the reality was more and more misinformation about what was in this bill was getting out there and it was becoming the narrative. And once the bill was released, it was already too late. It was minutes before you saw the speaker, the majority leader coming out saying this bill was not even going to get a vote in the House.

And now you have Republican senators, some of whom, like Tom Tillis were cheering Lankford on for the last several weeks saying they are not voting tomorrow to advance this bill in the Senate. I think things are in a really dire place. And if they have another week to talk about it, that is not going to help the vote count.

BASH: Time is never on the side of any deal like this. I mean, ever. Never mind the fact that that's happening, or not happening in the Senate and House Republicans who say we have to do more on the border. And this isn't it, are going to say probably later on. We'll see how the votes go.

We're going to impeach the Department of Homeland Security Secretary which he also suggested might not be the greatest idea, although he was careful. Senator Lankford not to go fully there in case he's a juror.

OK, everybody, standby. We are standing by to hear from President Biden. He's going to be speaking about what we were just discussing, this border bill which he supports. That's coming up.


[12:53:41] BASH: -- both planned for tonight in the House of Representatives, Republicans are attempting to impeach Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas, but the GOP's narrow majority complicates that effort.

I want to go straight to Manu Raju on Capitol Hill. I get asked this question of everything that you have before you and Congress has before them. But do they have the votes to impeach him?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's actually unclear at the moment because of the razor-thin Republican majority because of absences in the ranks, and because there are two Republican defections at the moment, depending on the attendance tonight. If one more Republican votes no, that could be enough to sink this measure.

Now at the moment, Republicans think they will get there but still there are concerns that they might not. I talked to one of those opponents Tom McClintock this morning and he warned about the damaging precedent his own party would set by making Mayorkas just the second Cabinet secretary in history to be impeached.


RAJU: Can you talk about the precedent do you think this vote would set?

REP. TOM MCCLINTOCK (R), CALIFORNIA: I think that it lowers the grounds of impeachment to a point where we can expect it to be leveled against every conservative Supreme Court justice, every future Republican president and Cabinet member the moment that Democrats take control. And there'll be nobody there to stop them because we will have been complicit in redefining the fundamental definition of impeachment that the American founders placed in our constitution.



RAJU: But again even if that passes tonight in the Senate, they are poised to kill it. And, Dana, we are in a remarkable moment where so many things are collapsing right now. There's an Israel aid package coming to the floor. We expect it to fail in the House.

We've been talking about the border package and national security package moving in the Senate. That's expected to be blocked tomorrow. But there's a recess coming up that both chambers will have and when they come back, they had to try to avoid a government shutdown by early March. Dana?

BASH: Your tax dollars at work. Thank you so much for that, Manu. Appreciate it.

RAJU: Thanks, Dana.

BASH: And thank you for joining Inside Politics. CNN News Central starts after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)