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Isa Soares Tonight
Israel Intensifies Attacks On Gaza As It Pushes Deeper Into South; Navalny's Team Says The Jailed Opposition Leader Is Missing From Prison; Special Counsel Seeks Supreme Court Review On Trump Case; U.S. President Biden To Host Ukraine's President Zelensky; Ukraine Accuses Hungary Of Delaying Accession; MEPs Have Previously Called For Humanitarian Pause In Gaza. 2-3p ET
Aired December 11, 2023 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ISA SOARES, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: A very warm welcome to the show everyone, I'm Isa Soares. Tonight, Israel intensifies attacks on Gaza,
pushing even further south. We'll have the very latest on the conflict from Tel Aviv. Then, concern grows for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny
as his team says he's gone missing from jail.
Plus, the special counsel investigating Donald Trump goes directly to the Supreme Court to resolve whether he has immunity from prosecution. We'll
explain of course what that means in just a moment. But first, as dire as the situation is in Gaza with no end in sight to Israel's war on Hamas,
U.N. officials say they expect things to get much worse for Palestinian civilians warning that hunger is prevailing as epidemic diseases unfold.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Meantime, Israel is intensifying attacks from the air, and on ground today. You heard a massive explosion there as the night skies light
up over northern Gaza. Fierce street battles are reported in several cities, that includes Khan Yunis. These body bags, a testament to the
growing death toll.
The Hamas-run Health Ministry says that more than 18,000 people have been killed, more than half of them, women and children. The head of the U.N.
agency for Palestinian refugees says more and more people in Gaza haven't eaten in days. He met with a dozen envoys from the U.N. Security Council
today on the Egyptian side of the border, briefing them on what he calls an implosion of civil order. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PHILIPPE LAZZARINI, COMMISSIONER-GENERAL, UNRWA: People are just sleeping on the concrete. Winter is here, we have sewage water, they're struggling
to find clean water, they're struggling to have food, and that was two weeks ago before the offensive into south. Since my colleagues report,
there have been tens of thousands of people have been wounded. They cannot go in the shelter anymore, so basically, they are in the open air. They are
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Very dire picture, Philippe Lazzarini is painting here. CNN's chief international investigative correspondent Nima Elbagir joins me now from
Tel Aviv. And Nima, as we've just outlined there for our viewers, the IDF clearly going deeper into Gaza and telling residents of Khan Yunis to
evacuate to the coast. What kind of infrastructure or facilities even, are there for the people fleeing this violence?
NIMA ELBAGIR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's the incredibly concerning thing, Isa. As we see those images of dead
bodies piling up in Khan Yunis, and the expansion of Israel's ground offensive, it's important to remember that Khan Yunis and southern Gaza was
where the IDF initially called upon Gazans to evacuate to.
And now, for many people, despite what limited facilities there are in Khan Yunis, the IDF is asking that they evacuate yet again to a coastal area
called Al-Mawasi. And many U.N. agencies, many of those attempting to tend to Gazans in these areas say that they are really worried, Isa, because if
Khan Yunis has limited facilities, if agencies are concerned about the state of families in Khan Yunis, they are even more concerned about what
will face them in Al-Mawasi.
SOARES: Yes, and that's exactly the dire picture that we heard there, painted from Philippe Lazzarini of -- in terms of facility, in terms of the
dire lack of water as well as food. Now important to point out to our viewers, and a reminder here as well, that Hamas still holds 137 hostages.
You've been looking, Nima, at the funding for Hamas, and the allegations that Netanyahu has been propping up Hamas to keep Palestinians divided.
What have you found?
ELBAGIR: This is something that has continued to bubble up right from the beginning of the conflict. This criticism of Prime Minister Netanyahu,
because for years, he allowed Hamas to receive cash donations from the Qatar government in suitcases of cash even as we have learned, in
collaboration with the Shomrim; Israeli investigative network, that those within his own cabinet and within the Israeli security infrastructure were
raising their concerns, Isa, take a look at this.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Israel's mourning continues, even as the clamor around Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu grows, questioning whether
his policies helped prop up Hamas. In a series of interviews with key Israeli players, CNN and the Israeli investigative platform Shomrim were
told how Netanyahu allowed Qatari cash donations to Hamas for years without supervision, despite concerns from within his own government.
AMOS GILAD, FORMER ISRAELI SENIOR DEFENSE & INTELLIGENCE OFFICIAL: Thirty million dollar per --
ELBAGIR (on camera): Month --
GILAD: Per month.
GILAD: Three hundred and sixty million dollars, it's more than a billion chicken. That's simple mathematics.
ELBAGIR: It's a lot of money.
GILAD: A lot of money. Dollars in Gaza is like $20 in the U.S., for them, it was like a relief, it was like oxygen. Can you live without oxygen? No.
So it's dramatic, historic mistake.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): Former Israeli Prime Minister and former Defense Minister Naftali Bennett says he was among those repeatedly raising
concerns to Netanyahu. When Bennett became prime minister in 2021, he put a stop to the suitcases of cash to Hamas, moving the transfer of financial
support to Hamas from cash to a U.N. mechanism.
NAFTALI BENNETT, FORMER ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: I stopped the cash suitcases because I believe that horrendous mistake to allow Hamas to have
all these suitcases full of cash, that goes directly to re-arm themselves against Israelis. Why would we feed them cash to kill us.
ELBAGIR: The cash deliveries were supposed to help, among other humanitarian needs, pay Gaza's civil servants. And pictures in 2018 showed
workers lining up to receive $100 bills. Israel approved the deal in a security cabinet meeting in August 2018 during a previous Netanyahu tenure
as prime minister.
An Israeli official defended Netanyahu's decision, telling CNN, "successive Israeli governments enabled money to go to Gaza, not in order to strengthen
Hamas, but to prevent a humanitarian crisis. That's true. But no one else approved it in cash." Former Prime Minister Bennett says that Netanyahu
BENNETT: I think the approach towards Hamas was one of sort of a nuisance- type terror organization that can shoot rockets, can cause a bit of havoc here and there, but not much more than that.
ELBAGIR (on camera): So underestimated?
BENNETT: Absolutely. And in that sense, we've learned a lesson. We have to believe our enemies.
ELBAGIR (voice-over): This lesson has become a turning point for Israel. One even long time Netanyahu allies like Zvika Hauser acknowledged.
ZVIKA HAUSER, FORMER CHAIR, KNESSET DEFENSE & FOREIGN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE: That was a strategic lesson for the Israeli society that you can talk a lot
about peace, you can try to do a lot of things, you can come to the White House, to the -- and get some -- noble prizes, but in some point, enough is
enough. And if you ask me, what symbolize October 7th? October 7th mostly symbolize the Israeli society no more take risks.
ELBAGIR: Risks such as this, heating the toll of human suffering and international calls to slow the pummeling of Gaza before Israel is
satisfied, Hamas has been destroyed, whatever the cost.
ELBAGIR: And as we see those images, Isa, emerging from Khan Yunis. That fear is reiterated to us by so many in the international community. At what
cost will Prime Minister Netanyahu and this Israeli government course correct? Isa?
SOARES: Nima Elbagir there with that reporting, thanks very much, Nima, appreciate it. Well, enough is enough. That's what China's U.N. ambassador
reportedly said after traveling to the region with other Security Council envoys for that briefing we mentioned earlier on in Gaza. Ecuador's
ambassadors told reporters the reality is even worse than what words can speak.
Our Clarissa World -- Ward, pardon me, got rare access to the Egyptian side of the border and witnessed the delegation's visit firsthand. Have a look
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (on camera): We're here at the Rafah Border Crossing, with a delegation of member states of
the United Nations Security Council. There are 15 representatives from the -- from 12 of the current members and three incumbent members.
This isn't event -- a day of events that has been hosted by the United Arab Emirates really trying after that veto of the humanitarian ceasefire
resolution that was put forward on Friday, to ignite some urgency into the international community's dealings with the humanitarian emergency going on
And if you turn, that's obviously the border crossing right behind me, but if we swing around this way a little bit, you can probably see a lot of
media and a lot of security and a lot of diplomats who have all made the trip, many of them have come from New York City to meet here, to be here,
they have been listening to testimony from aid workers, they heard from the head of UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency that operates
Philippe Lazzarini was actually on his way back into Gaza, essentially sketching out why this is such a desperate situation. Saying that, really,
essentially, the entire humanitarian apparatus -- the work that humanitarian workers are doing in there is on the brink of collapse now.
He talked about more than a 100,000 Gazans massing at this border. And we've heard from the UAE, ambassador to the U.N., Ambassador Lana
Nusseibeh, about the importance of getting another resolution going, that will try to improve the amount of aid getting in, that will also
potentially turn over the Rafah Border Crossing from the Egyptian Red Crescent to the U.N., to try to help facilitate more density and intensity
of movement, getting that aid inside.
One very notable exception, who is not here today, the U.S. They have said that they are already actively engaged in diplomacy in the region, in aid
efforts in the region, and you have the sense that for many of these ambassadors that -- who spent most of their time on the ground in New York
acting, you know, at meetings and intensive diplomacy, that to actually be here on the ground, to hear the firsthand accounts of aid workers, to visit
a hospital and see some of the injured, that it has may be injected some sense of urgency and emotion into this whole situation.
SOARES: Our thanks there to Clarissa Ward. Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny appears to be missing. His team said on the platform
formerly known as Twitter earlier, they don't know where he is. Navalny's spokesperson says they've tried to reach him at two separate penal
colonies, but they were informed that Navalny isn't located at either one.
It's now been six days since they last knew his whereabouts. Our Fred Pleitgen joins us now from Berlin with more. And Fred, I'm just looking at
my phone because I see here the U.S. State Department has now come out and said --
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wow --
SOARES: They are deeply concerned about Navalny as well as his well-being. But they do not -- the State Department does not know where Navalny is.
What else are you learning?
PLEITGEN: You know, they certainly don't. The State Department just came out with that, you're absolutely right, Isa. The National Security Council
of the United States also came out with something similar as well, saying, look, they don't know where Navalny is, they say he never should have been
imprisoned in the first place, and they're calling once again on Russia to let him free.
Nevertheless, of course, there is that massive concern among the organizations of Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption foundation, of course,
among his family as well. I saw that his wife, actually, earlier today, she also posted an image, saying Alexei Navalny is missing.
Now, the way all this unfolded is quite interesting, because Alexei Navalny was remotely supposed to take part in a hearing with the court today, but
he was supposed to do that from the Penal Colony that he's in -- has been in so far, called IK6, which is about 150 miles east of Moscow.
He didn't show up for that hearing. His lawyers were then told that there was apparently a power issue, however, when they then continued to ask
questions, they were then told that he's actually no longer on the list of being inside that Penal Colony.
They then made a bunch of phone calls to other jailed, sort of, in that vicinity of that area, and also couldn't find him anywhere. So as of this
point right now, he is as they put it, missing. That of course, is something that is cause for grave concern. One of the things that we need
to point out though, Isa, is that he was apparently supposed to be transferred out of the Penal Colony that he's been in so far, which is a
very harsh one, to one that's actually even harsher, with an even harsher regime.
And one of the things that does tend to happen in Russia when prisoners are transferred is that, they sort of go off the radar for a couple of days.
When they're in their transfer period, they really don't have communications with the outside world, if you will. That's something that's
similar that happened when Alexei Navalny was put into the IK6 prison, in the first place.
So that's something that could be the case. Nevertheless, Alexei Navalny's spokeswoman also said that he has been having some health issues. He
recently, apparently, fainted inside his jail cell, had to be put on an IV. He has of course, had some pretty harsh treatment in that jail, been in
solitary confinement a lot of times.
And again, now supposed to be moved to even harsher treatment. But his organization say, as of right now, they simply have absolutely no idea
where he is. Isa.
SOARES: Yes, very concerning, indeed. I know you'll stay across this, Fred Pleitgen for us there in Berlin. Thanks, Fred. And still to come tonight,
the U.S. Supreme Court called on to answer a big question, can the former president even be prosecuted? That is next. Plus, Donald Trump leading Joe
Biden in a possible matchup for the White House in at least two critical states. Our latest polls just ahead. You are watching CNN.
SOARES: And breaking news out of Washington. The special counsel investigating former U.S. President Donald Trump, is now going directly to
the Supreme Court to resolve a key question. Whether Trump is protected from federal prosecution by way of presidential immunity. Jack Smith's
probe into Trump's alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election was bound to pull in some arcane aspects of presidential law.
But with the trial scheduled for March of next year, right in the thick, of course, of the 2024 campaign, the answer could prove vitally important to
the outcome of the case. CNN senior Supreme Court analyst Joan Biskupic joins us now from Washington. Joan, great to see you. This is a pretty
extraordinary request by the special counsel. Just what does this mean?
JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SENIOR SUPREME COURT ANALYST: It's very significant, yes. What he's trying to do is jump over an intermediate court to go to the
court that really will have the ultimate answer, here, whether former President Donald Trump is immune from these charges that have been brought
against him for election subversion, for trying to overturn the results from the 2020 election.
And as you know, President -- former President Trump has said he should be immune from any kind of proceeding like this, because whatever actions he
took at that time in 2020 were part of his official actions. District court judge said no, and the Trump team has now appealed that, but what Jack
Smith has done is to come in, and today, take what you rightly described as an extraordinary step --
SOARES: Yes --
BISKUPIC: To say to the U.S. Supreme Court, please decide this, and decide this quickly because of the looming March 4th trial on these charges.
SOARES: So, this is, in other words, Jack Smith basically taking the reins. How long, how quickly, Joan, could this be resolved here?
BISKUPIC: I can tell you -- I'll tell you what precedent Jack Smith pointed to --
SOARES: Yes --
BISKUPIC: And it's one that you'll be familiar with. The Watergate episode, back from 1974, what he said was, back then when there was a similar
weighty question about the privileges and immunity, then of a sitting president, Richard Nixon, this time as a former president, the Supreme
Court was able to hold oral arguments and decide that case within 16 days.
So, what special counsel Jack Smith has said is, you, Supreme Court, please, impose an expedited briefing schedule, hear this case as soon as
possible and resolve it, so we know once and for all, whether former President Donald Trump can claim immunity from these serious charges.
SOARES: And any reaction, Joan, I'm wondering from the former President Trump?
BISKUPIC: Not quite yet, but I can tell you that they've asked what he's already appealed what the lower court has done to the intermediate court,
that Jack Smith is trying to jump over, and I'm sure that he will try to keep this from the U.S. Supreme Court, because his basic ammo through all
of this litigation has been delay. And --
SOARES: Yes --
BISKUPIC: You know, obviously, he says that he has a legitimate legal justification for opposing, for claiming immunity, but it is also dragging
these proceedings out, something that Jack Smith is now trying to put a stop to.
SOARES: Joan, appreciate it, thanks for breaking it all down for us.
BISKUPIC: Sure, thank you --
SOARES: Latest -- let's look at the latest new CNN polls, I should say, as the two most recent occupants of the White House appear the most likely
nominees for their parties in 2024. As of right now, Donald Trump has the upper hand over President Joe Biden in two battleground states. That is
Michigan and Georgia.
In Michigan, which President Biden won by huge margin, by the way, in 2020, Trump is leading 50 percent to 40 percent. But 10 percent of voters said
they wouldn't support either candidate in the hypothetical matchup. In Georgia, meanwhile --
Excuse me, which President Biden carried by a sliver, voters also said they prefer Trump for the presidency, 49 percent to 44 percent as you can see
there. And the main reason here, people in both states say they're unhappy with the sitting president's job performance, his agenda, and yet again,
here we are, his stamina.
I want to bring in Isaac Dovere who -- for much more. And Isaac, it does seem from our conversation with Joan here, and the polls we've just put
out, but Trump's legal woes don't seem to be hurting him at all, at least, not in these two battleground states. Just talk us through the polling here
and what it reveals.
ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Well, look, first of all, as you point out, in Michigan, Joe Biden won in 2020. But in 2016, Donald Trump won
Michigan by just under 11,000 votes. In 2020, Joe Biden won Georgia by around 12,000 votes. So these are states with a history of being quite
To see the president -- see President Biden that far behind Donald Trump --
SOARES: Yes --
DOVERE: To -- is to a lot of Democrats very concerning. To the Biden campaign, what they say about polls like this is, the campaign hasn't
started yet, people haven't really focused on the prospect of Donald Trump coming back into the White House, and to that point, the -- all of the
legal issues and the trials that are going to be a big part of next year have not really been present things for most voters to think about yet.
That's their argument --
SOARES: Yes, but I was looking -- that's their argument, because I was looking at the numbers, seeing Joe Biden trails in Georgia by 5 points,
Michigan by 10, but also it may just slide as well here, Isaac, among young voters.
DOVERE: Yes --
SOARES: Surely, this is concerning?
DOVERE: Well, look, young voters are one of those groups that every election cycle we wonder, are they going to turn out like they did the
SOARES: Yes --
DOVERE: In 2008, there was a big turnout for Barack Obama, and going into Obama's re-election in 2012, there were many of these same questions. In
the end, young people did turn out for Obama. Biden is a different president, it's a different campaign, but young people were there in large
numbers for him in 2020, there are a number of things that seem like they are leading to young people at least questioning whether they're going to
be there for Biden, and for many of them, for now saying maybe they're just not going to vote, if not vote for Trump.
SOARES: So why not? I mean, unhappy with job performance, his agenda, and yet again, here we are talking about stamina. Age difference between both
candidates is not that wide.
DOVERE: No, it's not. Joe Biden turned 81 a few weeks ago, Donald Trump is 77 years old, neither of them do a lot of events in public, these are --
each one of them would be the oldest president ever by the end of their terms, if Donald Trump won a second term now or if Joe Biden did.
So, this question of stamina is in part one of perception, to the Biden White House and the Biden campaign, they believe that this is an unfair
look at the president. They think that he is doing a lot all the time, a lot of it behind the scenes. But because it's behind the scenes, and
because the public schedule is not much, it has fed this idea that he is not up --
SOARES: Yes --
DOVERE: To it. Again, there's a -- something close to about 98 percent of the job of being president happens out of view of what people --
SOARES: Yes --
DOVERE: Can see. And Donald Trump doesn't do a lot other than campaign, we don't have any kind of a public schedule from him or a private schedule.
It's not like he is running the country when he's not out on the campaign trail.
SOARES: So, talk to the challenges there for President Biden? How does he turn these numbers around, given, you know, what you just laid out?
DOVERE: Well, it's a huge challenge, and it's something that the president's team says to me and says to anybody I ask about this, they have
known from the start this was going to be a tough campaign and a tight campaign. Look, Joe Biden won by 7 million votes in the popular vote, in
2020. But he almost lost the electoral college, despite that.
Switched 44,000 votes between four states, and Donald Trump would have won the electoral college again, and would have been brought into a second
term. So, this is an ongoing battle that we're going to see, and -- but it is a real question of whether Biden cannot just convince people to vote for
him, but devoted all, and to draw out among young people, among black voters, groups that have consistently over the last few years been saying
and showing that they are not so enthused and not really feeling it for Joe Biden.
That being said, this was also a real concern for Democrats going into the Midterms in 2022, and in the end, they did better than expected and won a
lot of governors races. But of course, better than expected wasn't quite winning, and that's what they need --
SOARES: Yes --
DOVERE: To do next year.
SOARES: Isaac, really appreciate you breaking it all down for us. Thank you.
DOVERE: Thank you --
SOARES: And still to come tonight, U.S. President Biden is hosting Ukraine's President Zelenskyy this week, as the two try to secure more U.S.
aid to help Ukraine. And then later, German member of the European Parliament will join us. We'll take a look at the challenges Ukraine faces
in its push to join the EU. That's after this.
SOARES: Welcome back, everyone. U.S. President Joe Biden will host Ukraine's president Volodymyr Zelenskyy at the White House this week. This
visit comes as Ukraine's military fought off a barrage of attacks by Russia over the weekend. Both presidents will make a renewed push for U.S.
lawmakers to pass a new round of aid to Ukraine.
On Tuesday, President Zelenskyy will speak directly to senators about this. But it won't be easy. Republican lawmakers in the U.S. want any new aid to
Ukraine tied to immigration reform and border security.
Joining us now, the previous CNN Senior White House Correspondent, MJ Lee. MJ, I mean, this trip by President Zelenskyy clearly about convincing or
persuading rather congressional lawmakers, a personal appeal, are they listening? Just talk to the mood and the chances of this passing here.
MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. You know, this is a visit that we are told came together at the last minute, was really only
finalized within the last few days. And this would of course mark the second time that Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy is visiting the
White House. And it comes at such a critical moment for the war itself, where officials say the war appears to be at best at a stalemate.
U.S. officials have said that Ukrainian forces have not made the kinds of advances that it had said it hoped to make. And, of course, there is the
issue of additional U.S. funding that Capitol Hill and some lawmakers would very much like to be approved. But that stands at a total impasse right now
as Democrats and Republicans are fighting over the very sensitive political issue here in the United States of immigration and border policy.
One U.S. official I was speaking to saying that this is actually an issue that they believe Vladimir Putin is watching very closely. You know, they
took note of the fact that last week when a vote to advance this package actually failed in the Senate, there were celebratory messages that they
were seeing on Russian state media TV. So, that is something that they are pointing to as just a sign of how closely Russia is actually watching this.
And then they're speaking to sort of the broader message that all of this would send, not just to the Ukrainians who are very much wanting this extra
funding and saying that they desperately need it, but also just the -- speaking to the strength of the international coalition, not to mention the
would-be aggressors, I am told, who are taking their cues from this basically if there are sort of the bad actors that are waiting to see what
If they get the message that it's basically OK to invade another country, that the U.S. and other coalition countries wouldn't have the country like
Ukraine's back, then what message does that send to some of these would-be aggressors, again, that are very much sort of watching everything that is
unfolding. So, for so many reasons tomorrow is going to be very heavy on symbolism, but in terms of the actual effects on the war itself, obviously
the ramifications are incredibly huge.
SOARES: Indeed, MJ Lee there with the very latest. Thanks very much, MJ.
Well, Ukraine isn't just dealing with dwindling U.S. support, but also new fractures within the European Union. Hungary continues to resist the
possibility of future Ukrainian membership in the E.U., which has Ukraine's foreign minister accusing Budapest of delaying tactics. Have a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DMYTRO KULEBA, UKRAINE FOREIGN MINISTER: I cannot imagine, I don't even want to talk about the devastating consequences that will occur shall the
Council fail to make this decision. Not only with regard to Ukraine, but in a broader sense on the issue of enlargement as a whole.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Joining us now is Manfred Weber, German member with the European Parliament, President of the European People's Party.
Well-known face here on the show. Manfred, great to see you. Thank you very much for taking the time to join us.
Let me pick up, if I may, from what we've just heard from MJ Lee in the White House, those concerns, first of all, over the possible dwindling U.S.
funding. How worried, Manfred, are European leaders about this?
MANFRED WEBER, PRESIDENT OF THE EUROPEAN PEOPLE'S PARTY: Well, we are democratic societies. We are discussing issues and that's our nature.
That's our DNA. That's why to have a debate about how can we support Ukraine and what money or money resources are necessary is a legitimate
We have this also in the European Union in the member states. That's why politics, in this moment of time, must show leadership and must tell people
that if we cannot support, if we would not support anymore Ukraine, then Putin would win and will win and that would make a fundamental geopolitical
change. I think we all must recognize that behind Russia there is China and that would be a major success for this Russian-Chinese cooperation. It will
fundamentally change the world of tomorrow. That's why all we can do is to support now Ukraine as the best possible means.
SOARES: Right, I hear you. But if the U.S., Manfred, is unable to provide the funding, can Europe go at alone? Can Europe fully replace U.S. support
WEBER: Well, this week, we have a European Council, the leaders of Europe will meet and we speak about the budget support for the Ukrainians, about
50 billion Euro provided by the European taxpayers and additionally 20 billion Euro for additional weapons to be delivered to Ukraine. Our
commitment is there on the table and we want to do this together. I don't want to speculate about supporting Ukraine without the Americans because I
cannot imagine that America finally is not on the side of freedom of democracy, those whore are fighting for rule of law. So that is -- that was
always the nature of America and I think it would be also a major change of the perception of America if there would be too much distance towards
That's why together we are strong. Together we can win with our Ukrainian friends and they pay the highest price and that is they pay with the life
of their citizens. That's why we must support Ukraine.
SOARES: We must support Ukraine but I mean, would it be impossible, how hard would it be here, Manfred, for --if the U.S. does -- if there's no
U.S. funding? What would this mean not just for the people of Ukraine but also in terms of E.U. support, E.U. funding?
WEBER: The European Union is close to Ukraine. Ukraine is a European country so we are offering also this week not only money, we are offering
also an entrance to join the European Union. That Zelenskyy was asking us here in this European Parliament, is it averse to fight? Please tell us,
please European friends, is it averse to fight for freedom and democracy? Can we also join? Can we also be member of this European club? And I say
yes, absolutely. You are welcome because you are fighting currently for our European way of life, for our values, that's why this is a major message.
And I don't want to speculate about the negative outcome in America because I believe still that the American friends in the Congress and Senate. They
know what is at stake. They know that also American interests are highly at stake, having again Chinese influence in this development in mind.
SOARES: On that point, Manfred, I want to just play a little clip from Secretary Blinken on the importance of funding for Ukraine. Have a listen
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: This is a time to really step up because if we don't, we know what happens. Putin will be able to move
forward with impunity and we know he won't stop in Ukraine and he may well end up going after a NATO country. That would bring us in, given our
obligations to our NATO allies. So here, an ounce of prevention is really worth 10 pounds of cure.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: So Manfred, if you were, I mean, to address Republican or American lawmakers on the Republican side of the aisle, those who are raising
concerns about this funding, what would you tell them?
WEBER: Look to what is happening currently already in Europe. The Prime Minister of Finland was closing the borders, land borders to Russia. Why?
Because Putin is now again using migrants as a political weapon to attack us and to destabilize European Union so we are protecting ourselves and
closing the borders.
I'll give you another example, our colleagues in the Baltic countries facing every day attacks against the digital infrastructure of their
countries, where obviously everybody knows Russia is behind. And in Slovakia, with fake news, he also changed the public opinion in a way to
also make it possible for pro-Putin parties to be successful on the democratic side. So, the attack from Russia against Europe, against NATO
countries is already real, probably not with a hard and brutal war like in Ukraine. But he's testing us every day. That's why my message to the
Republican friends is, please, let's show our strengths, let's show our unity. Europe is ready to move with our financial contribution. So, we are
not alone with this burden, but together we can win it.
We can win it with our Ukrainian friends.
SOARES: In the last hour, I'm going to turn to Gaza if I may, Manfred. In the last hour, CNN has seen a letter signed by four European leaders.
That's the Prime Minister of Spain, Malta, Belgium and Ireland. And in this letter, they are demanding, as humanitarian, in the last thing,
humanitarian ceasefire, I've got the letter in front of me, they say, "We have reached a moment in which the European Union must go further on three
issues. First, and above all, they say, we must call urgently for the parties -- for all the parties to declare a lasting humanitarian ceasefire
that can lead to an end of hostilities."
Do you think the rest of Europe will join this call? Because the last time leaders met, it was only a call for humanitarian pauses.
WEBER: I think it's not wise now to add additional letters and to show a little bit the split we are facing in today's European Union. And there is
also a party political split because on the center-right side, I'm representing the center-right in Europe. We have a clear understanding that
the attack started by Hamas was brutal, terror attacks against peaceful, celebrating young people in festivals. They were killed by terror from
And Israel has the right to defend itself. That is our position as the European People's Party, as a center-right party, as the biggest party of
Europe. On the other hand, we are clear that this must be in the framework of international law. And the humanitarian help must also arrive on the --
on the ground. But again, the starting point is a self-defense right of Israel. And that's why, again, also in this conflict, those who are
defending freedoms, those who are defending democracy, rule of law, and that is in the region of Israel, they have -- they have the support they
get from the European Union, and that must be the principle behind.
So, I invite the leaders to keep the unity inside of the European Union in support of Israel.
SOARES: Manfred Weber, appreciate you taking the time to speak to us. Thank you, sir.
And still to come tonight, Harvard's president apologizes for what she said about anti-Semitism on campus, but she's resisting force to resign. What
students and faculty are saying about her future. That's coming up.
SOARES: The Israel-Hamas war is stoking divisions across the globe. Reports of anti-Semitism, anti-Arab and anti-Muslim bias are surging at an
The Anti-Defamation League reports anti-Semitic incidents have spiked more than 330 percent and that, by the way, is just in the United States. And
the Council on American Islamic Relations says it's tracking a similarly troubling rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Arab bias. It says it's had more
than 2,000 reports, you can see, 2,171 reports of bias since the attacks on October 7th.
This spike in reported hate incidents is fostering climate or fear for many Jews, Muslims, as well as Arabs living in the United States. Many of those
incidents have unfolded as you've been following here on CNN on college campuses at some of the most elite universities in the world like Yale
University. Video has emerged showing a person climbing a menorah and placing a Palestinian flag on it. The university has condemned what they
call the desecration of the menorah.
Last week, three Ivy League presidents testified at a congressional hearing on anti-Semitism, sparking major backlash in what one executive called,
"One of the most despicable moments in the history of U.S. academia."
University of Pennsylvania President, Liz Magill, ultimately resigned after this testimony to lawmakers.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELISE STEFANIK, U.S. HOUSE REPUBLICAN: Does calling for the genocide of Jews violate Penn's rules or code of conduct, yes or no?
LIZ MAGILL, THEN-UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA PRESIDENT: If the speech turns into conduct, it can be harassment. Yes.
STEFANIK: I am asking specifically calling for the genocide of Jews, does that constitute bullying or harassment?
MAGILL: If it is directed and severe or pervasive, it is harassment.
STEFANIK: I So the answer is yes.
MAGILL: It is a context-dependent decision.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Now the focus is on Harvard. President Claudine Gay is under pressure to resign. Hundreds of Harvard faculty members are supporting her
in a petition.
Our reporter, Matt Egan joins me now from New York. And Matt, from what I was seeing, more than 600 faculty members at Harvard have signed a letter,
urging that Gay stay. Just tell us what they're saying and why they're supporting Claudine Gay.
MATT EGAN, CNN REPORTER: Well, Isa, last week there was this intense backlash against Claudine Gay. We heard from CEOs and donors and lawmakers
demanding that Harvard cut ties with its president. Now, though, we are seeing significant support coming from members of the Harvard community.
In just the last few hours, we've seen multiple statements of support backing Claudine Gay. More than 800 signatures were gathered by Black
Harvard alumni, again supporting Gay, arguing that no one understands that Harvard needs to state against hate more than Claudine Gay, who is the
daughter of Haitian immigrants. And the Harvard Alumni Association's executive committee put out a very strong statement saying that they,
"Unanimously and unequivocally support Gay," adding that they have full confidence in her leadership during what they call a difficult time.
And all this is on top of the now more than 700 Harvard faculty members who are urging university officials not cave to political pressure by partying
with Gay. And what's interesting is that some of the people who've signed this petition, they've actually been quite critical of Claudine Gay and the
hearing last week. That includes noted Harvard legal scholar Lawrence Tribe, who was very critical. He slammed Claudine Gay last week, calling
her testimony before Congress, deeply troubling.
But he did sign this petition. So, I asked him why. And he told me in a statement, "Once external pressures, whether from ultra wealthy donors or
from politicians pursuing their ideological agendas, override the internal decision-making processes of universities, we are on the road to tyranny."
And Tribe added that he fears that history could be repeating itself here.
I also spoke to another Harvard faculty member who said Claudine Gay doesn't have any problem on campus. He said, "She has no problem managing
the campus. Her problem is managing the donors." So will all of this be enough to save Claudine Gay's job? It's too early to say. But what is clear
is that unlike Liz Magill at Penn, Claudine Gay has a notable amount of support internally, just when she needs it the most.
SOARES: Matt Egan there for the very latest. Thanks very much, Matt. Appreciate it.
And still to come tonight, Barbenheimer leads the way as the nominations for next year's Golden Globes are announced. We'll break it all down with
SOARES: Well, the years two biggest cinematic events have dominated the nominations for the 81st Golden Globes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RYAN GOSLING AS KEN, ACTOR, BARBIE: Barbie, can I come to your house tonight?
MARGOT ROBBIE AS BARBIE, ACTOR, BARBIE: Sure. I don't know have anything big planned. Just a giant blowout party with all the Barbies, and planned
choreography, and a bespoke song.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SOARES: Barbie, which grossed 1.4 billion dollars at the box office, leads the way with nine nominations. I still have not had a chance to see it.
Apologies. Well, Oppenheimer, which I have seen, which famously opened on the same weekend has received eight nods.
Elizabeth Wagmeister, CNN's Entertainment Correspondent, she is in Los Angeles. And first of all, welcome to the team. Welcome to the show. Great
to see you. Look, let's talk about these nominees. Not a surprise these two, right? Much of the year we spent and the summer at least spent talking
about them, right?
ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. Thank you for having me. I am so thrilled to be here. And first of all, I will
see Barbie again with you because you've got to see it. I love it.
SOARES: I really want to see it. I really want to. Go ahead.
WAGMEISTER: And clearly, the world loved it as shown by the box office. It made over 1.4 billion dollars worldwide and now leading the Globes with
nine nominations. What is exciting about this in addition to films like Oppenheimer getting so many nominations is this means that viewers very
much may turn out to watch the Globes. We know that there is a trend of declining viewership among award shows, not just the Globes. The Oscars,
the Emmys, the SAG Awards. Now when you have films with huge stars that people saw in theaters, that means that they're going to turn on their TV
and want to see if they win these awards.
SOARES: And not only wanting to watch the stars, but also those who may be presenting those awards, right? At the moment it doesn't seem they have a
host for the January event. What's going on?
WAGMEISTER: Right now, they do not have a host. This was some exclusive reporting that I got this past weekend. The Golden Globes have gone out to
a number of A-list talent, including Chris Rock and Ali Wong. They both were actually nominated this morning.
But they have declined the offer to host the Golden Globes. Now before we get too concerned about this, the show will go on and this is not totally
abnormal. This is really seen as a thankless job in Hollywood, and as crazy as that might sound at home, this is a lot of work to prep for any award
show not just the Globes and there's little reward in this age of social media. You get instant feedback, often negative. You're tasked with
deciding how to tackle all of the world events. What do you joke about? What do you not?
So believe it or not, a lot of big talent in Hollywood, they don't want the gig of hosting an award show.
SOARES: Negative feedback on social media. I think we know a thing or two, right? What else, right? Thank you very much. I appreciate you joining us.
WAGMEISTER: Thank you.
SOARES: And that does it for us. Thanks very much for joining. Do stay right here. It's Quest Means Business up next. I shall be with you