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Top Trump Allies Say Trump Will Do What He Says He'll Do; Hostage Negotiations Ongoing 207 Days After Brutal October 7 Attack; Anti-Semitism in U.S. Rages While College Protests Intensify. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired May 01, 2024 - 12:30   ET



DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT AND ANCHOR OF 'INSIDE POLITICS': He was asked, do you see why so many Americans see language like that, you know, dictator for a day, suspending the Constitution -- Trump responded, I think a lot of people like that. Eric Cortellessa is the reporter who did that interview and joins the discussion now. Thank you so much for being here. Wow, take us inside of this conversation and what you think the takeaway should be for voters.

ERIC CORTELLESSA, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, TIME: Well, I interviewed Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago on the Friday before he was set to become the first former and possibly future president to go on criminal trial, and what really struck me from these interviews was that Donald Trump is planning to seize power in a way that he wasn't able to in the first term. He has a team of disciplined, conservative advisors who are drawing up plans to consolidate power in the office of the presidency and remove the guardrails that hindered his ability to carry out his agenda in full in the first term.

BASH: And Jeff Zeleny, the other part of this is not just from hearing it from the candidate's own words, which is obviously the most important, but also some of his advisers. Kellyanne Conway, I don't think it is a big mystery what is agenda would be. Steve Bannon, I keep telling people, watch the speeches, when you look at the content of what he is putting out there, he couldn't telegraph this any more clearly.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: I mean, as we've long seen, he says the quiet part out loud, a phrase we've used ad nauseam since he came into politics. His rallies and speeches are often so long and cluttered with a bunch of different things, it is easy to overlook this, but he has been saying this directly. But to say it directly in an interview is also more striking because he knows the valued real estate of the Time Magazine cover and this is what he believes is a selling point. He believes this is a strong point and now just amplified by what he calls a need for strong leadership, I think it is even more poignant what we are seeing this week.

BASH: And Jackie, I just -- I am going to put up on the screen more information that you got from the former president, candidate for president, what a second term would look like, which just starts with allowing states to prosecute women who violate abortion bans. We talked about immigrants, U.S. attorneys, January 6, it all goes down to refusing. This is a big one, to come to the aid of NATO allies who don't "pay up."

JACKIE KUCINICH, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE BOSTON GLOBE: This is -- so I think one of the differences between what we know -- knew Trump in his first term, and what could potentially be his second term. He knows where the levers of power are in the federal government and he has people working to figure out how to bypass those and how to relax some of these things. So he can do what he wants to do. Everything you saw there, I don't think other than -- because Roe was still in place, other than punishing women who receive abortions in states where they are not allowed, a lot of that he tried to do during the first term. And so, this would be very much a continuation is what he is talking about here.

BASH: And he had guardrails of people who said don't do it.

KUCINICH: Exactly.

BASH: And most of those people have either no interest or would not be allowed to go back in. I mean, that was another thing that you've got. He said that he would make it a litmus test. If somebody said that they thought the 2020 election was fair and Joe Biden won, they would not work in his administration. But I also want to ask you about abortion because you have the current president and vice president out very strongly talking about abortion. They believe that that is what is going to rally Democrats to vote. And privately, Donald Trump doesn't disagree agree with them.

Having said that, when you asked about whether states should monitor women's pregnancies, so they know if they've gotten abortion. He said, I think they might do that, again, you have to speak to the individual states. What was his sort of the vibe that you got from him on this issue?

CORTELLESSA: Well, he knows it is extremely delicate. He knows it is a potential vulnerability for him. He takes credit on the one hand for installing three supreme court justices who had a major hand in overturning Roe, but doesn't want to alienate the vast majority of American voters who think that abortion rights should be protected. Donald Trump is right now staking out a position where he thinks this is a state's rights issue and he is going to try and leave it at that as much as he can.

When I asked him, sir, are you comfortable with red states monitoring women's bodies to know if they've gotten an abortion past the ban? He said they might do that. When I said, are you comfortable with states punishing women who've gotten abortions after the ban? He said, it is irrelevant what I think because it is up to the states and their determinations. He didn't say he wanted states to do that, but basically said he would allow each state to make their own policies vis-a-vis abortion. And I think that is the ground he is going to try and beyond for the coming months before the election.

BASH: And Jackie, the comments that he made to Eric that, as you said, we've heard a lot about it and he tried some of it that I think any objective way to look at it would be borderline authoritarianism. How much are voters tuned into this, particularly when poll after poll sees that looking at the Trump four years in the rearview mirror, there are some rose-colored glasses there?


KUCINICH: I think when you are talking about the economy, there isn't rose-colored glasses when it comes to Trump. But I think the open question and what you are hearing a lot from the Biden campaign, they are definitely pointing to this as what could potentially be the future.

Now, who is going to win out? We'll have to wait and see. I think voters are -- I think the summer is usually when people start plugging in. This is a different race because it is the same two people, but certainly, Democrats are going to be elevating comments like that over and over and over again.

BASH: Thank you all for being here. Eric, especially you, really important issue and the fact that Donald Trump has another Time Magazine cover, I am sure we are going to see that at all of his golf courses, on the wall, it is definitely one of his favorite things we know. Thank you.

CORTELLESSA: Thanks for having me.

BASH: After six months since October 7, more than 100 hostages remain captive, including several Americans. One family praying every day for the safe return of their son will be right here in the studio next.



BASH: As pro-Palestinian protests engulf college campuses around the U.S. and the humanitarian catastrophe in Gaza gets worse, we cannot forget why this war began and why it continues. October 7, the day Hamas terrorists murdered more than 1,000 innocent people in Israel and took nearly 250 more as hostages. And today, 207 days later, 129 people are still believed to be held captive in Gaza.

That includes Sagui Dekel-Chen, a 35-year-old American-Israeli citizen and father of three children, the youngest was born after Sagui was kidnapped. Joining me now is Sagui's father, Jonathan Dekel-Chen and stepmother Gillian Kaye. Thank you so much for being here, both of you.


BASH: I mean, it is impossible for any parent, any human to fathom what you all have been going through 207 days and it's been such a roller coaster with negotiations going and coming and going and coming. Can you tell us your understanding without obviously threatening any sensitive conversation of what's happening right now with those talks? DEKEL-CHEN: Well, to the degree that we understand it any more than the media, what I think is quite certain is that this is a watershed moment. It is the moment when Hamas leadership is going to decide whether it wants to move towards some kind of resolution here by way of a hostage deal or whether it wants to condemn and not just the hostages, to what might be a horrible end, but also a million citizens of Gaza, more to continue bloodshed, continued suffering.

The only way for a better tomorrow, obviously, for our loved ones who are still in captivity, but also for the people of Gaza who have been through horrific, horrific months of conflict is to move forward on this hostage deal. And that, right now, is in Hamas' court. We all await their answer.

BASH: And Gillian, the Israeli prime minister has said repeatedly, the IDF will enter Rafah and eliminate Hamas battalions there with or without a deal. We've seen protests grow inside Israel by people who are saying, you've got to focus more on getting hostages, including your son, out before going into Rafah and eliminating Hamas. What are your thoughts on that?

GILLIAN KAYE, STEPMOTHER OF ISRAELI-AMERICAN HOSTAGE: Yeah. It is what I think. I mean, we've been saying it since the beginning. Whatever it takes, we need until (ph) now, just get the hostages out. Nothing is more important. Nothing is more of a priority. And we've said it many times that the country itself cannot continue. It will be broken if the hostages don't come back, whatever the other things that are on the table.

BASH: Israel?

KAYE: Absolutely, there is no question. The hostages need to come home. That is that; nothing else matters. We need that deal now, that's it.

BASH: Yeah and inside Israel, part of the argument of pushing Rafah saying that he is going to go into Rafah is putting pressure on Hamas. It is sort of a political maybe leverage and also perhaps trying to appease Netanyahu's right flank in his coalition. Are you getting any indication at all from the Israeli government, just turning it back to your son, that they have any idea where he is?

DEKEL-CHEN: The only thing we know and many other families know for sure is through proof of life. In our case, the last proof of life was in late November, early December by way of testimonies from the hundred or so hostages who came out at that time, during that first tranche of negotiation. And we know he was alive, wounded but alive at that time. We do not -- and most, the vast majority of hostage families still do not know if their loved ones are alive.

We have gotten notifications from our kibbutz, Kibbutz Nir Oz, that of the 39 remaining hostages from our community alone, at least 12 are dead. They were murdered either on October 7th, their bodies taken by Hamas into Gaza, or they died as a consequence of October 7th.

[12:45:00] DEKEL-CHEN: So, we do not know. And hence, it is clear that there is no time to waste, conditions are horrific. We've always known that. And look, we recognize that not just for Israel, for the region and perhaps the world, Hamas needs to be destroyed. There is no question. I don't think that you will find someone in Israel that would argue that point, but it cannot come at the sacrifice of these what remain alive of the 133 hostages and those who have already passed and their bodies need to be returned to their families.

BASH: We were talking before coming on about the fact that you are a professor inside Israel. You are very well aware of the culture of college campuses. Obviously Israel, not the U.S. You were a student activist.

KAYE: I was.

BASH: In the '80s, you said, at Barnard, fighting against apartheid in South Africa.

KAYE: I occupied Hamilton Hall.

BASH: You did?

KAYE: I did.

BASH: You are hearing calls and accusations that Israel is an apartheid government. Since you know about apartheid, can you give a fact check here?

KAYE: You know, I am going to hedge a little bit on it because we were fighting an avowedly racist government that talked about a system called apartheid.

BASH: Yeah.

KAYE: That it was using to oppress the majority black population --

BASH: And that is not --

KAYE: -- in South Africa.

BASH: -- what is happening in --

KAYE: Certainly, not what we are looking at and Israel. But the issue is, as we were saying, it is complicated because there, every day playing out on our TVs is destruction and starvation and horrific images coming from Gaza.

BASH: Yep.

KAYE: And the Gazan people are oppressed.

BASH: I mean.

KAYE: There is no question about it. Hamas is oppressing the Gazan people. BASH: All of these things can be true at once and --

KAYE: Yes.

BASH: And I appreciate you both coming on. And most importantly, keeping the focus on your son and the father of your grandchildren, Sagui Dekel-Chen and we do, of course, pray for his safe return.

KAYE: Thank you so much.

DEKEL-CHEN: Thank you so much.

BASH: We'll be right back.



BASH: Anti-Semitism, Jew hate is nearly as old as time. There are fewer than 16 million Jews in the world. That's about 0.2 percent of the world's population. Here in the U.S., the home to approximately 6 million Jews, Jews are the targets of about 60 percent of religious based hate crime. So where does this hate come from? And how is it connected to the pro-Palestinian protests we see raging on college campuses?

Joining me now are Noa Tishby and Emmanuel Acho. They are the co- authors of a new fascinating and very important book, "Uncomfortable Conversations with a Jew." Thank you, both of you for being here. Noa, you spent much of this book explaining the roots of anti-Semitism, how it shows up in nearly every day rhetoric. And we are now seeing a lot of that language on college campuses. I am guessing you're not surprised by that.

NOA TISHBY, CO-AUTHOR, "UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW": No, sadly, I am not surprised by that because we have been talking about the connection between anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism for a very long time. The thing to understand is that anti-Semitism is not a simply racism. It is a shape-shifting conspiracy theory and it shifts every few generations to something new. And now, it shifted to anti-Israeli rhetoric.

So, I do believe that this book couldn't have come at a more appropriate moment in our culture. Because sadly, it is very uncomfortable to be a Jew these days and I'm so thrilled that Emmanuel reached out to me, wanting to write this book together and be a true ally to the Jewish community. We can't do it alone.

BASH: And Emmanuel, this book was born out of two people, the two of you with very different life experiences, showing up to have a difficult conversation, multiple conversation about Jews, Judaism and Jew hate. Now, right after October 7, Noa's message to you was to check in on your Jewish friends. Talk about the impact that that had on you and your view of anti-Semitism and "anti-Zionism"?

EMMANUEL ACHO, CO-AUTHOR, "UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW": Yeah, Dana. Well, I believe that proximity, it breeds care; and distance, it breeds fear. And a large part of the problem in the society right now is we are not close enough to one another. How could I be empathetic towards my Jewish brothers and sisters if I wasn't educated on what broke their heart? How could I be empathetic towards my Palestinian brothers and sisters if I was not educated on what broke their heart?

And so, really the purpose of the book was to educate myself, what does anti-Semitism even mean? Is there a Semite group that you can be anti? No, there is not. So, if I don't know what anti-Semitism is, how can I avoid being anti-Semitic? So the purpose of the book, the purpose of Noa and I's conversation was to be a reflection to society about what we can do to bring fourth peace, bring forth unity, bring forth love, educate yourself, have an uncomfortable conversation and with education can come empathy.

BASH: And Noa, did you both talk about some of the pain that I am hearing from Jewish liberals that they marched not only in the '60s with African-Americans, but even a couple of years ago during -- after George Floyd, that they don't feel that same camaraderie necessarily today?

TISHBY: Yeah, the Jewish community feels very isolated and very much alone.


TISHBY: And both Emmanuel and I are very concerned about the schism that has been created between the black and the Jewish community. The unity and the partnership between the blacks and the Jews is unparalleled in American history and the history of the world. The things that we were able to achieve together are extraordinary. And neither Emmanuel nor I are willing to let that schism continue.

So, this is really first step in re-creating that relationship, re- imagining that relationship, because when two marginalized communities are pitted against one another, the powers that be win. So, we can't let that continue anymore and that is one of the greatest commitments that we want to achieve from this book, is this black and Jewish unity yet again in America.

BASH: Emmanuel, do you have a quick add to that before we go to break?

ACHO: I will add very quickly. I will quote James Baldwin in an 1968 article of The New York Times when he said, "The crisis in the heart and minds of black people anywhere, everywhere, is not caused by the star of David, but rather the old, rugged Roman cross on whom Christendom's most prized Jew was murdered. And not by Jews." As a son of a pastor myself, I found that quote to be the most profound as it pertains to the dilemma right now, between the black and Jewish community.

BASH: Emmanuel and Noa, thank you both. The three of us are going to continue this conversation. We'll be posting it this afternoon online. Thank you both. Thank you for watching "Inside Politics". "CNN News Central" starts after the break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)