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Laura Coates Live

CNN Covers War In Israel; Scalise Wins GOP Nod For Speaker But Fate On Floor Uncertain. Aired 11p-12a ET

Aired October 11, 2023 - 23:00   ET



UNKNOWN (voice-over): The family have allowed us to show this so that everyone understands what it is like.


ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Your heart just -- it's like a rock in the pit of your stomach to watch something like that. And that's really -- Laura, you know that so many families are experiencing that. This death toll keeps going up. And the number of missing keeps going up. And it's a story that I think so many of us don't understand, but people are living through this right now.

LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: I mean, you and I, we both have children. We think about the emotions that are running. The hope that you have when you have a newborn, to raise your child together with the person that you love, and to have that news come in that way after what has happened, it is unimaginable. And that they were able to share that really just -- it underscores the real cruel reality of what we're in right now, Abby.

PHILLIP: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, the brutality, but there's also so much hope, and I just want to end on that note before you get started. There's a lot of hope still out there. So, we'll end with that.

COATES: Abby, thank you so much. And speaking of what could be tomorrow, it is actually already tomorrow in Israel. But the sunlight is actually not bringing more answers on the fifth day of a brutal war. And I don't know about you, but every time I see the death toll rise, my mind, it immediately goes to the hostages. I wonder, where are they? How many are they? Where might they be? Is there any way to get them out safely?

And as you've heard, some of these hostages are also Americans. So, the question then turns to this country of, what will President Biden do about it? Well, what can he do about it? What should we do about it? And right now, it feels like we at home, all we can do maybe is bear witness.

And I don't know, but something about that feels truly really difficult. I mean, normally, we've heard that the government is talking about bringing an American home. It's through the normal albeit difficult channels of diplomacy. Those channels that we've normally seen, they aren't obvious here if they even exist at all with Hamas.

So, what now? I mean, I am just like all of you. I want answers, and I want them now. And it's a very bitter pill to swallow when you know that that won't happen here. That is one of the other cruel realities of war.

And watching from here, we're riveted, we're horrified about what we're hearing from our reporters who were in the war zone getting the information that we desperately seek, and the people in Gaza and Israel who are suffering in the middle of almost incomprehensible brutality.

Even my kids, they're asking questions. They want answer. I mean, the second that they heard that there were children who were involved, their little minds just started racing, and so did mine. I was trying to figure out what to tell them.

And here is what we know tonight. The Israel Defense Forces say that they are currently connecting what they call a large-scale strike on terror targets belonging to Hamas in Gaza. I'm going to tell you more about that in a moment.

We also know that there is a humanitarian crisis in Israel and in Gaza. The death toll stands at least 1,200 people in Israel and at least 1,100 people in Gaza. We know that Israel is mobilizing ground troops at the border, and we know Secretary of State Antony Blinken is arriving in Israel, and along with him, he's bringing the top U.S. official on hostages. And the U.S. is in discussions about ensuring a safe passage for Americans and other desperate civilians who are trying to get out of Gaza.

And the White House, they're still trying to wrap their mind around the concrete details about the condition of the handful of Americans who are believed to have been taken hostage by Hamas, including exactly how many may be held captive in Gaza, or if they're being held together in one place or are they in different places, and what next?

But among the missing, Adrianne Neta, assumed kidnapped by Hamas attackers from a kibbutz on Saturday. She was on the phone with her children, who were trying to calm the 66-year-old as she heard gunfire outside of her home. Her eldest son told reporters this.



NAHAR NETA, MOTHER ADRIENNE NETA MISSING AFTAR HAMAS ATTACK: My mom used the little bit of Arabic that she picked up working as a nurse in the hospital in Soroca (ph) for 20 years to calm down the terrorists. And it is our hope, which is a bit ridiculous at this stage, to say that the optimistic scenario is that she's held hostage in Gaza and not dead on the street of the kibbutz where we grew up.


COATES: Also missing, 23-year-old American Hersh Goldberg-Polin, who was at the music festival that was attacked. His parents, Rachel Goldberg and John Polin, told CNN that they last heard from their son on Saturday morning when they received two WhatsApp messages in the same minute. They read "I love you" and "I'm sorry."


RACHEL GOLDBERG, SON HERSH GOLDBERG-POLIN MISSING AFTER HAMAS ATTACK: I immediately tried to call him and it just rang and rang. And I sent him a text saying, are you okay? And there was no reply. And 10 minutes later, I said, let me know you're okay. And he didn't reply. And 10 minutes later, I said, I'm leaving my phone on, tell me you're okay. But we have never heard from him again from after 8, 11 from those texts.


COATES: And how many parents out there can relate to that moment when they're trying to reach their child and waiting for that confirmation? And then there's Sagui Dekel-Chen, the father of two girls whose wife is pregnant with a third daughter. He and others tried to repel attackers from their Kibbutz home. And I spoke to his father just last night.


JONATHAN DEKEL-CHEN, SON SAGUI DEKEL-CHEN MISSING AFTER HAMAS ATTACK: They woke or were awoken around 6 a.m. on Saturday morning by something that can only be described as a pogrom. You know, the terrible images that most of us would have thought could not possibly reappear in the 21st century took place in my home over the course of about six hours.


COATES: But as much as we know some information, we need to know so much more. You know, tonight, here with me is James Clapper. He is a former director of national intelligence. He is a man who knows more than just about anybody about what's likely happening behind the scenes in that very region and what could happen next. Now, he's going to be on set with me all night tonight. We're going to dig in to all of these questions and try to understand what we know, what we don't know, and what still can be discovered.

But I want to begin first with Abbey Onn. Now she is an American who has been living in Israel for eight years, and she says that five of her family members were kidnapped from their communal settlement known as a kibbutz, including her 80-year-old cousin who is a dual U.S. Israeli citizen.

Abbey, thank you for being here. We are so sorry that your family members are still in this horrible situation. I'm wondering, have you had any updates from the U.S. or Israeli officials about any of them?

ABBEY ONN, FAMILY KIDNAPPED BY HAMAS: Um, first of all, I want to say thank you for having me and thank you so much for saying everyone's names. I think it's really important you're humanizing this. I think it's really important, so thank you.

Um, we are working really closely with the U.S. government. We have had very transparent and forthcoming communication from them, from the Department of State and hostage support. And we have hope that we will meet today with Secretary Blinken. And we really look forward to the opportunity to speak with him and to share our story and to see what the next steps are.

COATES: You are right, Secretary Blinken is arriving and he is bringing with him one of the top U.S. officials on hostages. Based on what you have heard and seen so far from the public comments, do you feel that the United States is doing enough to help free your family?

ONN: I can tell you that the speech that the president gave at this point in Israel a day and a half ago was the only ray of light we've had in the last five days.

As an American and an Israeli, I can tell you that citizens of both countries here said it was the best thing that happened, that they felt that he was unequivocal in what he said, standing against terror. And I know that there are meetings happening to try to make change on our behalf. And I am grateful to the American government for that.

COATES: Do you have any messages for President Biden or Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, in the event that you meet with them or do not? What will you say?

ONN: I want them to do whatever possible, to open whatever communication possible, to bring Red Cross into the hostages, and to make sure that we get women and children and elderly released immediately.


I have said this whole time that what Hamas did is a terror attack against civilians, that this is not an issue of the American-Israeli political challenge. This is humanitarian, and we will beg for humanitarian aid for the Red Cross to be let in and for children and elderly to be released.

COATES: You know, so many people are learning a great deal more than they maybe knew even before Saturday about Israel, about the kibbutz, about all of the significance attached to it, and the ideal communal nature in particular of one, and perhaps even heightens how serious and significant these attacks are on those particular communities. What is the kibbutz like now in the aftermath? And have you been there since the attack?

ONN: I haven't been there. Um, we know that it was physically burned to the ground, so the physical (INAUDIBLE) doesn't exist anymore. Um, we don't have exact numbers, but we know that close to half of the people were slaughtered. Um, it's unthinkable. I mean, we all grew up in a neighborhood somewhere, not a kibbutz but a neighborhood, and if you can think of your own neighborhood losing its physical being or half of the people, it's something you can't imagine, it's inhumane.

COATES: Abbey Onn, thank you so much. We will continue to search for the answers I know you are desperately seeking as well. Thank you.

ONN: Thank you.

COATES: I want to go to CNN correspondent Elliott Gotkine with the latest on Israel's large-scale strikes on Hamas. Elliott, you know, we're learning that the IDF is saying that they have now begun what they're calling large-scale strikes. What can you tell us about what that means?

ELLIOTT GOTKINE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Laura, I think it means more of the same that it has been, ever since Hamas's attack in the early hours of Saturday morning, here became clear Israel has been striking targets. It says whether they're infrastructure targets belonging to Hamas, weapon storage facilities or even leadership among the Hamas militant group, this is what they've been doing for the past few days.

And as you say, they say they're carrying out large-scale strikes, which is now what the early hours of the morning in Israel. They say that there will be more details to follow. So, as soon as we get those, we will bring them to you.

What we can say is that in airstrikes that happened earlier in the morning on Thursday in Israel, that there were 51 people killed in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

So, the death toll inside the Gaza Strip from Israel's retaliatory airstrikes rising now to 1,200, which coincidentally, I guess, is around about the same number of people inside of Israel who were killed in that attack launched by Hamas in the early hours of Saturday morning. Laura?

COATES: Elliott, thank you so much. I want to bring in the best person to help explain just how difficult this prospect of freeing hostages in Gaza may just be. James Clapper is here with me. He's a CNN national security analyst and, of course, the former director of National Intelligence.

You know, Director Clapper, when we're seeing and hearing about the fact that there are hostages, that they might be in Gaza, we don't know if they are in one area or otherwise, Secretary Anthony Blinken is there, going to arrive with a top U.S. official who deals with hostage situations, when you're looking at this, what sticks out to you about why this might be very different than what most Americans have come to understand about hostage scenarios?

JAMES CLAPPER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, for one -- well, first, Laura, I don't know when I felt more inadequate after your opening here and the heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching statements of family members, and I think anybody in my position, and I certainly do feel pretty inadequate after that to speak to this.

Um, the first thing with -- well, your comment about, you know, this is not normal, no, it isn't, because the typical way we try to affect the release of hostages is negotiation, diplomacy. So, we appoint special envoys that focus specifically on that. As in the recent case of Iran, at least then you're dealing with a nation state. A pariah nation state, yes, but nevertheless a nation state. Well, now, we're dealing with a non-nation state, an outlaw entity, in my view. So, diplomacy is not out of the question since there are contact, mutual contacts, informal though they may be, in the Mideast.


The Qataris, (INAUDIBLE) have served in that capacity before as interlocutors with the Iranians. I'm sure those channels are being used again, and I'm sure that's something that Secretary Tony Blinken will be attending to.

Then apart from that, from an intelligence perspective, you can't think about -- if it gets to the point where you've got to physically rescue them --

COATES: Uh-hmm.

CLAPPER: -- you can't do a rescue unless you know where they are. That sounds like an obvious statement, and that location is absolutely crucial. And --

COATES: So how do you go about getting that information?

CLAPPER: Well, I'm sure that both Israeli intelligence, which is quite capable, and our intelligence community is turning out all the stops. Any morsel, the slightest morsel of information that might cast light on location and certainly the status, the condition of the hostages, well, they'll dredge it up if it's there to be had.

What concerns me is the operational security that Hamas used in the run-up to the attack where there was no warning. No warning to speak of. Certainly, none that was evident to the Israelis. So, for Hamas, the location of where they keep these hostages is going to be for them a very --

COATES: That's gold.

CLAPPER: -- sensitive piece of information which they're going to protect by sustaining the operational security, the communication security that they evinced before the attack.

So, this is, I don't want to say it's hopeless, but it is a very, very daunting task since negotiation is I still think the best hope right now. But if it comes to a physical rescue, it's going to be a very, very challenging proposition.

COATES: Dr. Clapper, please stay around. We're going to be talking more about this and really diving deep into what we know, what President Biden has said about a number of these issues, and the complexity of the landscape, the population density, the densely- populated area, all that when we come back as well.

We also know that Israeli troops are amassing at the border after some 300,000 reservists were called up. So, what is all of this going to mean in the coming days? I'm trying to answer it. And the FBI and Homeland Security, they are warning now the potential for attacks right here in the United States.



COATES: Well, tonight, as war is escalating in Israel and Gaza, there is actually concern about safety right here in the United States. From New York to Los Angeles, police are ramping up security. They are patrolling at synagogues and other religious institutions.

And my next guest has extensive knowledge about the threats that we face and how to keep us safe right here at home. CNN national security analyst Juliette Kayyem and former director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, is also back with me.

Let's begin with you, Juliette, because I'm sure you've seen the police cars outside of synagogues, and I've heard about increased police presence in other areas and concerns even from -- I have friends whose students, whose children are at synagogues and schools who are getting alerts saying what they're doing to try to alleviate the threats. What are law enforcement officials saying in terms of domestic attacks?

JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yeah, so, there are two areas of particular concern. The first is obviously given the intelligence failures related to both Israel's knowledge of what Hamas was clearly amassing to perform the terror attack and whether we had any knowledge or not would suggest that our intelligence gathering efforts as relates to a certain kind of terrorism -- I should not be relied upon, and I agree with that, I think we have no idea what is going on.

This goes to James's point about the challenges of getting hostages. You have to know where they are. And our ground game or Israel's ground game was exposed as not being as strong as it is. So, you have that fear, which is going to heighten your concerns as a country like ours about what else can be out there and whether we have any information about it.

The second, of course, is targeted communities, the targeted community, the Jewish community, synagogues and others. I've been through this through and helped synagogues in terms of their preparation. They are targeted. There is -- there is elevated passions and tensions that are focusing on particular individuals that they have to be protected.

And I think that there is something to the United States and its law enforcement apparatus saying to the outside world, these are institutions that we defend and protect here in the United States as well. Those include synagogues and places of Jewish worship. That's an absolutely appropriate use of public safety regardless of whether there's a specific threat against a particular synagogue. COATES: And Dr. Clapper, I mean, according to the FBI's own hate crime statistics report, Jewish people face more than 50% of religiously- motivated hate crimes in our country. So, talk to me about the increased security effort that would take place since Saturday's attack.


What would that look like now?

CLAPPER: Well, I think the FBI would be very much involved in this, Department of Homeland Security, and through -- principally through, I think, the joint fusion centers, some 78 or so of those in the United States. There'd be a heightened alert on the part of all, and that in turn would generate liaison with state and local and tribal law enforcement authorities because of this threat.

So, I think people are leaning forward on the foxhole, so to speak. And, of course, heightened patrols, as Juliette mentioned, of synagogues or other religious institutions which could be the target of some sort of -- some form of an attack. It's kind of a regrettable commentary that we have to worry about this in the United States.

COATES: And to that point, I mean, one of the reasons we are talking about it here, Juliette, because often amid the fog of war or very fast- moving fluid information, people are getting it from various means. A lot of unverified claims might be made especially, of course, on the internet, and people are getting that information, almost drinking through a fire hose. How does that complicate an already tense situation?

KAYYEM: Oh, so, there's lots of complications right now. I mean, the first is obviously a terrorist group, Hamas, using it as a way to terrorize people again. The use of social media to post some of these just horrific videos, even if not authenticated, it doesn't matter, it is showing up in people's feeds. So that's the first. That's the second form of terrorism.

The second is people seeking a political agenda by creating fake news or manipulating intelligence that's out there. And that's why journalists and others who absorb the news have to be super careful about what we are claiming. So, in particular, there is lots of reports about Iran's direct involvement with this attack. That's a huge thing to claim and it could -- it could make countries move in ways that we don't necessarily want them to move right now.

And so, I noticed that the Biden administration was very, very fast in pushing back against that narrative because if this unverified news reports about specific knowledge as compared to Iran's historic support of Hamas became a political lightning rod based on not accurate information, you could get countries reacting in ways in which -- that are not based on information. We've been there before, not based on appropriate information.

So those are two ways in which there's a sort of worrisome fog of war. The fog of war is becoming foggier because there's -- you know, Twitter, for example, is just completely unreliable now. Other platforms haven't sort of gotten to the maturity that Twitter was at. And people are abusing these platforms to promote political agendas at this stage.

COATES: I want to ask you another question because you teach at Harvard.


COATES: Certainly, people may have been hearing more about this. There was a coalition of 34 student organizations at Harvard. They released a letter that said that they hold the Israeli regime -- quote --


COATES: "entirely responsible" -- unquote -- for the unfolding violence. And the university's president issued a statement condemning Hamas and said that no student group speaks for Harvard.

KAYYEM: Exactly.

COATES: You are a professor there. What do you think about what's happening there?

KAYYEM: So, I think it's being reflected in a lot of universities. And it's exactly true, no student group speaks for the university. And even that statement, various members of those groups didn't know what was coming out. The statement is horrific. It wasn't factually accurate at various moments.

But more importantly, this is a terrorist attack. We don't need qualifications. This was a horrible attack, period. Full stop. Everyone realizes that.

Second point, universities exist for free speech, for the kind of debates that are occurring in Israel right now. We should give ourselves a little bit of credit that we can handle the same debates that are happening in Israel right now. And it also exists to ensure the safety and security of their students.

To the extent that these university debates have gotten everyone picking sides and individually going after students, it's not just happening at Harvard, elsewhere, that is inconsistent with what universities are about. So, people who think they're doing the university a favor are not. The grownups should act as grownups and recognize that universities actually can help resolve these centuries- long fights that are going on.


Our knowledge of history and religion and violence and peace can be helpful. I just think adults should try to be helpful in these institutions rather than bring the masses on the outside to target student groups that we may disagree with or individuals that we may not like.

COATES: The information, I think we can all agree, is what needs to drive the conversations.


COATES: And we're trying to get it in real time. It's kind of like building an airplane while you're flying in it and hoping it will land safely. We are in the midst of the reality of war, and that is what happens as well. Juliette Kayyem, thank you. Director Clapper, stand by. We will continue to unpack so much more of this.

We're also knowing tonight that Israeli tanks, they are amassing at the Gaza border in preparation for a possible ground incursion. When could it happen? What would it look like? What is even meant by the possible ground incursion? A top general breaks it all down at the magic wall, next.



COATES: Well, the Israel Defense Forces say that they are currently conducting what they're calling a large-scale strike on terror targets belonging to Hamas and Gaza. That as the top U.S. diplomat is in Israel and the aircraft carrier Gerald Ford has now moved into the region.

Israel forced their mask along the border with Gaza and there's so many questions now happening of what comes next. And the real question is, how could the next phase of this conflict unfold?

I want to bring in CNN military analyst and retired Air Force Colonel Cedric Layton. Also, Director James Clapper is also back. He's a retired Air Force lieutenant general.

Colonel Leighton, I'll begin with you because I'm trying to understand, what do we know about where the Israeli troops are moving and then what might be coming?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: Yeah, Laura, that's a great question. Tonight, we have about 300,000 Israeli reservists that are actually deployed on the border. And so, where they are actually? Well, this is probably a pretty good indication. Right around all of these areas right here is where you will find Israeli troops concentrated.

And what are they concentrating with? Well, equipment. Like these tanks right here, they have tanks, armored personnel carriers, and other equipment that they can potentially use to go into Gaza, and that I think is going to make a big difference in what they could potentially do with some kind of ground incursion on their part.

COATES: It's hard for most people to imagine just how densely populated Gaza is. I mean, we've heard about it, we've been hearing about comparisons that are drawn. Tell me about the impact of that on the next phase of a potential ground incursion.

LEIGHTON: Yeah, that's a very interesting area as well, Laura, because the most densely populated part of Gaza is the city of Gaza itself. So that's this part right here. That has over 25,000 people per square mile. Other areas like North Gaza, Deir al-Balah, Khan Yunis, which is a major refugee camp, and Rafah have less population densities. But still, everything in Gaza is basically, with a little bit of an exception, 10,000 people or more per square mile. So, you think of a lot of people that are packed into a very small area.

And just by comparison, there are places that have higher population density per square mile around the world, but Gaza has more population density per square mile, about 21,000 people per square mile in the urban areas compared to Tel Aviv, Los Angeles or here in the Washington, D.C. area.

COATES: Wow, when you look at that comparison, it really drives home the point of just how densely populated and also what would take place if you had troops moving into those areas. This is civilians we're talking about in those areas in particular. So, the U.S. has moved assets into the region. What role could U.S. firepower play, if any, going forward?

LEIGHTON: Well, there are a lot of things that we would have to contend with here, and one of them are the dense streets. So, you look at how narrow things are. This is what General Clapper and I would call battle damage assessment. Perfect video for that. You see what damage has been done here. But look how cavernous all of this is. Look at all the different buildings and look at how difficult it would be to maneuver something through each and every one of these streets.

So, a lot of things that would be coming into the area include deliveries of munitions, like you see here from this Israeli cargo jet. You have the USS Gerald R. Ford. with its aircraft, 70 to 90 aircraft, depending on how they did the carrier battle group. And you've got them coming into the Eastern Mediterranean along with Air Force F-35s and F-15s as well as A-10s.

All of those play a huge part in putting the U.S. presence in this area and making sure that this conflict doesn't go any further than it really has already.

COATES: Colonel Leighton, it's so important to think about and just seeing all that. Director Clapper, I want to ask you about what we've been seeing from Colonel Leighton because that population density, there are hostages likely in Gaza. You don't know where they are. You see what is ahead in trying to move ground troops into that area. What strikes you as the most difficult aspect of trying to get people out and stop?

CLAPPER: Well, a very compressed geography, very crowded, urbanized terrain, urban terrain.


And so, you wonder how -- given that sort of situation, how are they going to move all that heavy equipment, those tanks down these very narrow streets that are in the Gaza. So, the question that comes to my mind is, what rules of engagement is the Israeli Ministry of Defense and the IDF chief instructing or providing to these troops? How exactly do they conduct themselves if and when they actually enter into the Gaza?

They've got so many things to consider here. A very difficult terrain to start with. They operate equipment even in a passive environment or benign environment, which this is not. They've got to contend with booby traps, IEDs, snipers, plus the presence of a very dense civilian population.

And also, to be considered are the location of the hostages, probably dispersed widely, probably underground. So, what I wonder about is the operations order that is being issued to or will be issued to the Israeli attacking force and what the rules of engagement are on how they are to conduct those operations, mindful of all these factors.

COATES: There's so much to consider and we're going to continue to unpack. Colonel Cedric Leighton, thank you so much. Director Clapper, stay with me. There is a lot more to get to and to really lean into, and a lot more to come on the conflict between Israel and Gaza, but also what's happening on Capitol Hill. Republicans have picked their nominee for speaker, but it doesn't appear that who they've chosen has enough votes for the gavel. So where does the party go from here?



COATES: Israeli troops amassing on the Gaza border tonight, and we've got more to come on all of that. But here at home in Washington, D.C., specifically, Congressman Steve Scalise of Louisiana winning the Republican nod for speaker today, yet still facing holdouts within his own party. So, will the House vote even happen tomorrow? It didn't happen today, as planned. Temporary House Speaker Congressman Patrick McHenry telling CNN, that's the hope.

Joining me now to discuss, a man who knows the ins and outs of all of this, Ron Brownstein, CNN's senior political analyst and senior editor of "The Atlantic." You're shaking your head about the ins and outs, but is it because it's not normally longer?


RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yeah. I mean, it's unbelievable watching, you know. Mitch McConnell likes to say there's no education in the second kick of a mule. And given that, I think most people looking at this from the outside would assume that cooler heads would prevail and Republicans would not put themselves and the country through a repeat of what we saw in January with the 15 ballots and then the removal of McCarthy, you know, last week.

And now, here we are again where despite Scalise winning the internal, you know, closed-door vote, you have more than enough members suggesting they're not going to vote for him on the floor.

Kind of the perfect cap to this craziness is George Santos, of all people, tweeting just a little while ago that Steve Scalise has not paid enough attention to me, therefore I will not vote for him.

And so, Republican dysfunction could be abundantly on display again tomorrow or later this week, or who knows how many days it may take for them to come to a resolution.

COATES: It might take an hour for us to even unpack that Santos tweet. So, let's just go to what Congressman Nancy Mace had to say. She told Jim Tapper this earlier on whether she would support Scalia as first speaker and it wasn't about whether he had given her any attention. Listen to this.


REP. NANCY MACE (R-SC): I would not. I plan on voting for Jim Jordan on the floor. I've been very vocal about this over the last couple of days. I personally cannot in good conscience vote for someone who attended a white supremacist conference and compared himself to David Duke. I would be doing an enormous disservice to the voters that I represent in South Carolina.


COATES: So, how do you see this going? Some within their own party, including House of Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, urging the need for a speaker, with questions over aid for Israel all looming, and this is one of the reasons not to vote, she's saying.

BROWNSTEIN: Right. And just consider what she's saying there, that the alternative to Steve, because Steve Scalise is too extreme with this kind of baggage in his background, likening himself to David Duke, her alternative is the member of the House, Jim Jordan, who the January 6th Committee felt was as involved as any single member of Congress in Donald Trump's efforts to overturn the 2020 election. And that is really a kind of a reminder of what we are looking at here.

There are two choices on the table, both of whom are ideologically to the right, well to the right of Kevin McCarthy, whose greatest ideological mission really was, you know, his own personal advancement. He was more kind of a back slapper and fundraiser than he was an ideologue. Scalise is very conservative. And Jordan is very much in kind of the MAGA Trump mold.


And either way, particularly with the prospect of Trump as the nominee, it points toward the Republican Party going into the 2024 election with a staunchly conservative and polarizing face at a time when there's a lot of opportunity for them among voters in the center of the electorate because Biden is facing -- President Biden is facing low approval ratings among independent and swing voters.

But Republicans at the moment are kind of driving away from that opportunity toward a politics very much revolving around the priorities and grievances of their base.

COATES: And neither seems to have that 217 votes as of yet. BROWNSTEIN: Absolutely.

COATES: Tomorrow is going to be an interesting day. Ron Brownstein, thank you as always.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

COATES: So, what does the Israeli-Hamas war mean for our allies around the world? What about Ukraine? Will we have enough resources to support them? James Clapper is back with me to discuss, next.



COATES: Hundreds of thousands of Israeli troops amassing on the border with Gaza as the U.S. sends diplomats to the region. How far is our attention being stretched, though?

Back with me now, Director James Clapper. You know, there's a lot of questions about the U.S. providing now munitions to Israel. There's also aid being provided to Ukraine. Is there a concern about our resources being so stretched?

CLAPPER: Well, I'm sure there is. I think this is a real challenge for the Pentagon right now, how to support two wars. We've been kind of stressed from a supply chain standpoint with providing munitions, particularly at the rate they're being used in Ukraine.

Now, we have, I think, a similar voracious appetite for munitions probably in Israel and the Gaza, and we have our own requirements to manage. So, I think our stocks and manner of supply is going to be stretched. I'm sure the Pentagon is struggling with that right now.

COATES: Well, we'll see where things go from there. Director Clapper, thank you for being by my side this evening, helping to impact so much. It really was important to have you here.

And thank you all for watching. Our live coverage continues after a short break.