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Laura Coates Live
Hamas Releases Two Israeli Hostages; Fears Of Regional War Intensify; Israeli-American IDF Soldier From Maryland Killed In Missile Attack Near Lebanon Border; Can GOP Elect A Speaker Before The Deadline To Fund The Government On November 17?; Off-Duty Pilot Allegedly Tries To Shut Down Engines Of Plane. Aired 11p-12a ET
Aired October 23, 2023 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
MCKAY COPPINS, AUTHOR: And he thinks that, you know, he looks at this book and I look at this book as a warning for Americans that all the theatrics, this isn't just, you know, performance art, this isn't just drama, this is a symptom of a deeply dysfunctional government and a sick democracy. And we as Americans need to take that more seriously.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: It's hard to even see how it gets healed if the analogy is a sick patient. I don't know where the cure is coming from. It doesn't seem to be -- the patient doesn't seem to be all that interested in being cured. McKay Coppins, thank you so much for this. And the book is called "Romney: A Reckoning."
And I want to thank you also for watching us tonight on "NewsNight." Laura Coates is up next. "Laura Coates Live" starts right now. Hey, Laura.
LAURA COATES, CNN HOST: Hey, Abby. Thank you so much. A great show as always. I'll read that book for sure. We'll see you again here tomorrow night, okay?
PHILLIP: I'm sure you can.
COATES: All my free time.
There are two more hostages that are now free. But what about those who are still being held? There are more than 200 of them, and they are somewhere in Gaza. Tonight on "Laura Coates Live."
Well, the news tonight is bittersweet. Seeing the footage of 79-year- old Nurit Cooper and 85-year-old Yocheved Lifschitz being helped (ph) out of an ambulance is an image that none of us will soon forget. Their frailty, their age, all of us trying to imagine how they were treated the day they were taken, what happened in those moments, let alone what they must have endured in the interim.
Well, now, both women are free. They've been released by Hamas after more than two weeks in captivity. Medics from an Egyptian State- affiliated media outlet say that both were in stable condition. They are in a Tel Aviv hospital tonight. But their husbands, who were kidnapped with them, are still being held by Hamas. Daniel Lifschitz talked to Anderson Cooper just a little while ago after seeing his grandmother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DANIEL LIFSCHITZ, GRANDSON OF FREED HOSTAGE: And I'm telling you, we have to be fast. Seeing my grandma like that, and from one side, so happy, but from the other side, I see in her eyes what she has been through. And I know that the timeline -- the clock is ticking. And making everything to bring all those hostages back is so evident now. And it's the top mission now for everybody.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: We now know that four hostages have been released, but the authorities in Israel said that over the weekend, they believe 210 people are still being held by Hamas. That's 210 people held captive somewhere in Gaza. When will their families see them again? Will they be free? And really, how do you get any or all of them out? Or are they all at somehow the mercy of Hamas in a slow drip of hostages going to be released at Hamas's sole discretion?
And meanwhile, back in the USA, the Capitol chaos is continuing. First, McCarthy was ousted. Then, Steve Scalise dropped out even before a vote was on the floor. Then, Jim Jordan dropped out after three failed floor votes and then a secret ballot to say, he should not be the nominee. Now, dropping out for even a vote once again. And tonight, it's Congressman Dan Meuser who is dropping out of the speaker's race.
And now, that leaves eight. Count them, eight others still in the running so far. We've got to wonder how much any of them maybe really want that job.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): Do you think we're going to have a speaker tomorrow night?
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): We could. We might.
UNKNOWN: They think all of us are incapable. So, we've got to stay here until we get it done.
UNKNOWN: I think people just want government to function. And this is not. This is dysfunctional.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: You think? Remember, this job isn't actually ceremonial. The House actually needs a speaker to do the job, whether it's using that power of the purse we all heard about for aid or to fund the government. And of course, funding is set to run out on November 17th. That's just 25 days away until another government shutdown. Will it be averted narrowly or otherwise at all? But even if they can't elect a speaker or if they can, are all of us paying a pretty high price this evening?
I want to bring in and begin tonight with the two Israeli women who were freed by Hamas. We have with us CNN's Alex Marquardt, who is here with the latest on the freed hostages. Alex, a man who does not sleep --
-- and I'm glad that you're not these days because there's so much information coming in. What do we know about these two women who were released and about what went into securing their freedom?
ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we are learning a lot more. And there are two families tonight who are extraordinarily happy to see these two women back safe and free. They have just arrived a couple hours ago at that Tel Aviv hospital, airlifted from Southern Israel.
We understand that they had taken a similar path out of Gaza as the two Americans who were released on Friday. They were released by Hamas in the afternoon. We got news this afternoon here local time. They were handed over to the Red Cross, which, you know, is as independent as an organization can be in Gaza, which then took them south. They went through the Rafah border crossing in Southwest Gaza, handed over to Egyptian paramedics. We have seen them being transferred from the Red Cross ambulances to the Egyptian ambulances. And then at some point, they were handed over to the Israelis, as you said, in stable condition.
So, these are two Israeli women. They come out after two American women were released. It's unclear what the reasoning was behind this, whether it's because they are older, because they're frail, but, you know, by all accounts, they seem to be in pretty good shape.
But this does come, Laura, at a time when the U.S. is pressuring Israel, we have learned, to delay the start of their ground invasion so that there can be more time for more hostages to be able to get out, for more aid to be able to get in. The Israelis do not want to make it look like they are getting orders from the U.S. and the U.S. doesn't want to give that impression either.
But we have heard repeatedly from the White House, from the Biden administration, that their top priority is to get more of these American hostages home, and we know there are at least a handful, according to the White House.
COATES: You know, it strikes me, so many people, seeing those images come in, the questions of why them, why now, what has happened, and how many others are of the same age. You have young, young people, little children who also have been taken as well. So, how do you get them out? And it speaks to really the gravitas of all of this and the strategy.
But there's also, you know, there's the questions that we all have as perhaps cynics, and there's the optimist's view. This is a light in what has been weeks of darkness, to have now four hostages freed. Speak to me about what that has been like for the families who are learning about all of this.
MARQUARDT: Well, when you look at these two women who were released tonight, you can't help but think that they look just like your mother or your grandmother, they're just regular people, and you're reminded of the fact that these were people from all walks of life who were just snatched from their homes, dragged across the border by this terrorist organization into Gaza. Young children, older adults, men. Yes, there are some Israeli soldiers in there as well.
MARQUARDT: And so, this has been absolutely heartbreaking for those families. And these two women, though their families are happy, obviously, that they're out tonight, their husbands are still inside. They were -- the two couples were both kidnapped.
And so, we did hear from the daughter of Yocheved Lifschitz, the 85- year-old who was released earlier today. She flew in from London to Tel Aviv. And she spoke with our colleague, Anderson Cooper, saying that she is relieved, but she still, of course, is thinking about those who are still being held, including her father. Let's take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SHARONE LIFSCHITZ, MOTHER RELEASED BY HAMAS: It's impossible to describe. My mom, I think she has a good smile. I don't know. I'm so delighted. But my heart is with -- you know, this is a small ray of light in a big story that is still unfolding. My father is there. There are so many other people. We are waiting for good news about everyone.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MARQUARDT: And Laura, like you, she was saying that this is a sign of things moving in the right direction, but there clearly is pressure on Hamas to stop doing this sort of two by two trickle of releases and really release a much bigger group of people.
Hamas may have demands if they're going to do that, things like a ceasefire, more aid into Gaza. And Israel has already rejected the notion of a ceasefire and said that they really have to maintain the pressure on Hamas.
COATES: Unbelievable. Alex Marquardt, thank you so much as always. I can't imagine what that discussion was like, to leave their husbands behind.
I want to bring in a former hostage negotiator and Navy SEAL commander, Daniel O'Shea. Daniel, I think you're the perfect person to field these questions because so many of us have them. You've got two elderly women now released today. The question, aside from the joy people have about the progress, so to speak, is, what goes on behind the scenes to choose them in particular? What do you think Hamas is trying to accomplish by this release?
DANIEL O'SHEA, FORMER NAVY SEAL COMMANDER: Well, of course, the fact that they've released two Israelis gives heart to every family in Israel right now that is desperate for news about the 212 or 220 hostages taken and held by Hamas in Gaza. So that's a positive step.
But at the end of the day, if this was truly a humanitarian gesture, why wouldn't they have released these two women with their husbands? So, you're still keeping this family in terror and suspense. And again, obviously, they're chosen because of their age.
I mean, the whole world has stood up about the fact that the majority of these hostages are civilians, including grandparents, grandmothers, like that were released today, and children, women and children. So, that's part of it. And it's a fight -- it's a propaganda move. They are trying to get an order, world opinion, world support for things like a ceasefire for the IDF offensive to not go forward because there's now -- has been tremendous pressure behind the scenes by the U.S. and others to limit --
O'SHEA: -- the response that Israel is intended to take, and that's exactly why Hamas did it and why they chose these two women.
COATES: You know, I don't ever want to lose sight of this. I know, as we're talking about, the fact that there are hostages released and there is an element of joy, obviously, with it. I don't want to make it seem as though Hamas has done some grand magnanimous gesture out of pure goodwill. I know you're not saying that. But just to remind people, they would not be released had they not been hostages, had they not been taken in the first place, and, of course, all the things that have come along with it.
You spent two years in Iraq dealing with, I think, over 400 kidnapping cases. And so, you've been watching this over the years and as it unfolded, as these civilians are emerging from their captivity. Can you just walk us through a little bit about what this debriefing must look like? You know, they were with the paramedics today, but then what happened? What's the next couple days like for them?
O'SHEA: Well, first and foremost is to get a medical check. That's the first part of what's called the repatriation process. First and foremost, make sure their health is taken care of. But there -- even if they weren't shot or wounded in the -- in the initial kidnapping or their captivity, they are going to have mental scars.
Um, the shock of coming out -- I -- we had very few successful emissions in Iraq over my two years. But -- but I was able to do some repatriation debriefs and be a part of watching these, uh, these hostages come out of a -- in one case, Jill Carroll had been held for 83 days in captivity and it is shellshock. And they're going through a psychology. It's probably that -- debrief is probably ongoing right now. But they're still terrified. Their husbands are still behind. So, these women have a long road ahead of them for recovering and (INAUDIBLE) mental health.
COATES: In a way, it almost reminds me of and for different reasons of being a prosecutor and interviewing a witness who on the one hand, you want them to give you the information that you need possibly to prevent other things from happening, and also balancing that emotional turmoil that the person is really facing.
You know, there are Israeli hostages who are believed to be underground. These hostages who have been repatriated, as you're talking about, might be able to give information about their surroundings through their sensory experience. But what kind of a challenge does Gaza present to a rescue effort for the rest?
O'SHEA: Gaza presents a challenge for hostage rescue forces, unlike anything I've seen in 20 odd years. We have pulled off host rescue missions over the last 20 years. We have the greatest special operations forces on the planet. But the difference between, say, Gaza and Iraq and Afghanistan, we own the night. We had, you know, forward operating bases everywhere. We could fly at night, so to hear helicopters at night was common.
So, the critical thing for host rescue is a couple things. Number one, proof of life. You don't want to send hostage rescue forces in to go after a dead body. Obviously, put their lives at risk.
Second, attend as a grid. You want to know exactly where those hostages are held because the element of surprise is critical. A group like Hamas, you can assume these are armed gunmen. They're standing watch. And the moment they hear something, the first objective for them would probably be to kill the hostages. So, that stealthy insertion is critical.
In a place like Gaza, one of the most densely-packed places on the Earth, you've got apartments that are 10, 12 stories high, the hostage could be held at any floor in any room, and you want to know exactly what room and what floor in that apartment building is, or in these, you know, cavern systems and underneath the city in the -- in the maze of these supposed tunnels. Uh, if they're held there, it's going to even make a rescue even more challenging. Uh, and they've got the (INAUDIBLE).
COATES: Daniel O'Shea, certainly the work cut out for me to describe, it's kind of mind boggling to think about what could take place next. And obviously, this is real life in wartime. Daniel O'Shea, thank you so much.
Here with me now, CNN global affairs analyst Kim Dozier, who has reported extensively from the region, and former CBS News foreign correspondent Dan Raviv.
You know, it sounds kind of a chill up your spine as you hear the complexity of trying to get hostages released, even amid the great news that four have already been released. But that moment that we've seen, I want to take a look for a second at that really emotional moment of seeing these two women be released. Take a look at this.
Do we have --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: (SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE).
COATES: So, just watching this right now unfold and seeing the images of them come out, I mean, these are older women, one is being hugged by a member of the paramedics. Kim, the emotional impact surely could be contemplated when you think about the release, and Hamas truly knew that it would be taped in some way. What's the goal here?
KIMBERLY DOZIER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: To drag this out as long as possible. Hamas, we hear, has been pushing for fuel to be brought in now that there are humanitarian purposes for that. But the longer that they can keep the releases going on, the longer they hope to delay any sort of ground operation. That said, the Israelis have been trying to make it work for them, continuing with targeted airstrikes.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
And we've also heard from the Israeli Defense Forces today targeted raids. So that tells the Israeli population who's worried about all the hostages who haven't yet been released that they are moving ahead. They are doing something. They're not just sitting at the border of Gaza waiting.
COATES: So, how does that play in terms of sort of the public opinion of all this? Because you describe, as Kim said, the kind of a psychological warfare going on and trying to ensure that there's maybe delayed tactics of human beings. But how does this play for public opinion?
DAN RAVIV, FORMER CBS NEWS FOREIGN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, and I've been listening to the Israeli media in detail almost every hour since that Saturday, October 7th, and, well, the Israelis are angry, more enraged than I've ever heard them at all.
It's clear that public opinion is calling for a major incursion into Gaza to eliminate Hamas once and for all. The people who lived in the communities that were attacked by Hamas, they say they won't come back. And Israel is very concerned about that. They want, of course, people to live in peace and security if possible. Just all in all, the pressure on the Israeli government is to go in.
But they've been holding off. It's already Tuesday morning. It's 17 days since the atrocity, as the Israelis put it. I think they're able to hold off.
Apparently, there has been pressure from the United States to keep delaying to give a chance for some hostages to be released. That might again be by negotiation through Qatar. In this case, apparently, through Qatar and Egypt. So, negotiation would be fine. And if the Israelis get more intelligence and can try a raid or two to rescue some people, they would try that. So, I don't think a delay is that bad. But after a while, public opinion will say, hey, you got to move in.
COATES: That's an important point. And Kim, when you think about just the complexity, there's the military strategy, there's the public opinion, and then there's the aspect of the so-called moral high ground, right? The juxtaposition of 200 plus hostages and the humanitarian crisis sprang out of control for those living in the Gaza Strip. How do you balance it?
DOZIER: Well, I think one of the hardest things to understand from the outside looking at this is like it's a border. Why isn't Egypt letting all of the aid just flow into the Palestinians? Why aren't these tent camps being set up? Why isn't Israel agreeing not to bomb certain areas? It's because of so many different complexities.
Hamas uses civilian areas. The moment there are tent camps, you can pretty much guarantee Hamas will be traveling through those areas because those are areas then -- they become areas of safety.
Egypt has billions in aid -- billions in loans that it would love to see forgiven for doing the international community, doing the U.S. the favor of allowing a number of Palestinians through that checkpoint. And Hamas is a Sunni militant group related to the Muslim Brotherhood, which the current Egyptian leader overthrew. They don't want to see Hamas strengthened either. So, they want to police everything that goes in.
And that's why from all these different perspectives, when you see what looks like a simple problem, all these different audiences have different things to gain and lose from every move.
RAVIV: But Kim, maybe you'd agree, in the big picture, there's some optimism in that. I see a coalition. No one will say it in public, that people, governments want Hamas to lose. Hamas did something terrible, crossing into Israel, massacring those people, taking all the hostages.
So, Egypt is against Hamas. There's no Arab brotherhood saying that they want to support Hamas in any way. The Israelis are trying to underline all the time in their information that Hamas is not the Palestinian people. If you want an independent Palestinian state, you don't want Hamas. Maybe we'll find a coalition.
COATES: Both of you, thank you so much. Really important, and the conversation will, of course, continue for obvious reasons. Thank you both.
Tonight, there are fears. As we discussed a little bit here, there are fears of a regional spillover from the Israel-Hamas war, and they're growing, those concerns, as militia groups have launched multiple drone attacks on the United States Forces in Iraq and also Syria.
Joining us at the magic wall, we've got retired Brigadier General Steve Anderson to help make sense of a lot of this. General, look, all eyes are on Gaza, and you have long been stressing that Israel needs to take their time in the expected military ground operation. But there's a lot of concern this could really spiral. So, how easily could this become a wider conflict?
STEVE ANDERSON, RETIRED U.S. ARMY BRIGADIER GENERAL: Very easily, Laura. Very easily. And here's why. I mean, if you look at the numbers that are involved here, look at Israel over here, 10 million people, essentially in this area here, surrounded by a lot of neighbors that really would like to see them go.
Let me put a number up here for you, Laura. 30 to one. That is how the Israelis are outnumbered in this region by Muslim countries that surround them.
And in particular, I'd like to point out a couple. Of course, most of the activity is Iranian. The Iranians are sponsoring militias all over the region. All of them are designed essentially to do everything they can to take Israel down. They've got militias in Iraq. Of course, they're backing the Syrians, the Lebanese, Hezbollah, and of course, down here in Yemen.
And all of these countries have militaries that are capable of inflicting a lot of pain, in particular, missiles. The missile threat is huge. This is a very dangerous region, and Israel is living in a very rough neighborhood.
COATES: I mean, just how you have mapped it out there, just seeing what is surrounding, I think, gives such perspective to people who are not as familiar with the region and the why. There's also, as you know, there's been an uptick in targeted attacks on U.S. forces. U.S. intelligence, as you mentioned briefly there, forces are showing that Iranian-backed militias are actually ready to ramp up their attacks in the Middle East.
Are you expecting more kind of proxy attacks? I mean, how does the U.S. defend itself against something like that?
ANDERSON: Laura, I'm absolutely expecting that. We've seen a number of attacks already. We've seen attacks to Al-Asad Airbase out here in Iraq, Balad Airbase, and all the way up here in Nabil. We got about 2,500 American soldiers that are living there.
Also seen attacks here in Syria. Nine hundred soldiers from the 10th Mountain Division. I was just out in Jordan, and they're living in tents out there. I mean, they're dramatically exposed.
I'd also like to point out that we've got soldiers down here in Al Udeid Air Base. Airmen, soldiers. Our largest air base outside the continental United States is down here in Al Udeid. And, of course, we've got 7,500 soldiers here in Kuwait still with a brigade set of equipment ready to launch.
So, we've got a lot of exposure in this theater, and we got to do everything we can to protect all of our assets in this theater, because the risk of escalation is going to grow dramatically if American soldiers get killed in this theater by Iran or any of their proxies. COATES: General Steve Anderson, thank you so much for breaking that all down. Very important for us to see.
When we come back, the U.S.-Israeli citizen who went straight from high school to serving in the Israel Defense Forces. And now, he has lost his life in this war. His very best friend remembers him, next.
COATES: Maryland is mourning the death of a native son thousands of miles away in Israel. Twenty-two-year-old Omer Balva, a dual U.S.- Israeli citizen who was born and raised in Maryland, was so drawn to his Israeli heritage he chose to serve in the Israel Defense Forces right out of high school.
He was actually on vacation in the United States when Hamas attacked Israel on October 7, shocking the entire world. He was called up as a reservist. One of 360,000, roughly the same as the number of reservists across the entire United States military. Within days, sadly, Omer Balva was dead, killed just last Friday by an anti-tank missile along Israel's northern border with Lebanon.
His lifelong friend, Ethan Missner, says Omer planned to propose to his girlfriend soon. And Ethan Missner joins me now. Ethan, thank you so much for being here. I'm just so sorry to hear about your friend. I know you were extremely close. In fact, you and Omer had spoken almost every day for your entire lives, except when he was training with the Israeli Military. Can you tell me about your friendship and what it was like to know this beautiful person?
ETHAN MISSNER, RESERVIST KILLED FIGHTING FOR ISRAEL: Yeah, of course. Thank you for having me. I feel very grateful that I knew Omer and that he got to share some of his light with me. I feel that a large part of me is Omer, and a large part of me will always continue to have him live on through me and the people that he has touched, his family, his friends, his girlfriend that he was soon to be engaged with.
He was the sweetest person in the entire world. I've known him since I was six years old. We've never had one fight. And I think, you know, there are parts of him that transcend what it means to be human. I don't know many people that can have a friend for that long and never fight with them. I truly believe that a part of him was part angel. I miss him a lot.
COATES: An angel in your relationship. I can only imagine, since you were six years old, what a beautiful friendship you must have had. He was actually on vacation here when he was called up to fight in Israel.
What did he think about what had happened on October 7th? He wanted to go, obviously, and fight, but what did he think about all of it? MISSNER: There was no stopping Omer. He immediately was called to action. Internally, he knew that he had to go and fight alongside his brothers, his sisters, his cousins, his family, his friends, and fight for Israel. That was his first thought and it was immediate. There was no question about it. He knew he had to fight. He said to his father on the drive up to the north, if I'm not going to go fight, who is? And that's who Omer was.
COATES: If not me, then who? Unbelievable testimony to who he was as a person. And the hope is romantic in me. Ethan is thinking about what you shared with the world, that he was planning to propose to his girlfriend of four years. Have you heard from her and about how she's even handling this devastation?
MISSNER: Unfortunately, the only things I've heard from her is crying on the phone. There haven't been many words. I think for her, it's completely devastating. They were going to start a family very soon, get engaged. That was Omer's dream. That's what he wrote me. He wrote a letter to me before he went to the Army that I have here.
And a part of the letter is explaining the dreams he has going forward and his dream of imagining us with families and wives and children that we love and can support, on a beach somewhere, just sitting in our backyard, and kicking around the soccer ball.
And he writes, we're just a couple of years away. He wasn't thinking he was going to, you know, have a family at 35. His goal was to have a family at 24 or 25. And those were the numbers he put on the page and that would have been his reality.
COATES: Would you mind, I hope I'm not being intrusive, but would you mind sharing some of that letter with us and what he said?
MISSNER: Yeah, I can read that portion. He said to me, I want you to know that every time I'm sad, I go to this one thought of me and you at the age of 24, 25 with our families on vacation. The thought of us with wives and children we love and are able to support always brings a big smile to my face. Love you more than anything. Love you and whenever you need me and I'm on a mission, just read this letter. Love you dude and remember, we're only a few years away from being at our dream.
COATES: Ethan, I'm so sorry to think about what that and those words must feel like to you and all who love him. Thank you for sharing this part of your life with us. And we'll think about him and his family forever. Thank you so much.
MISSNER: Thank you.
COATES: We'll be right back.
[23:36:51] COATES: All right, so, tonight, Republicans are meeting behind closed doors to hear from eight candidates who want to be the speaker of the House. The big question is, who can get the 217 votes needed to win that old gavel? The House has been paralyzed without a speaker for nearly three weeks now.
I want to break it all down with CNN senior political writer and analyst Harry Enten. Yep, he's in Washington, D.C. And CNN political commentator Scott Jennings, who's not in Kentucky, and of course, he's a former special assistant to President George W. Bush. And also here is editor of the "National Review," Ramesh Ponnuru, who is always in D.C., but I'm glad you're here right now. Break this down for me, Harry, because these eight candidates, what do you know about them?
HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL WRITER AND ANALYST: What we know is just two of the eight actually voted to certify the 2020 election. Those are Tom Emmer and Austin Scott. We also know that only four of the eight actually voted to avoid the government shutdown that obviously we just barely avoided last month.
So, the idea essentially that, you know, this is going to be somebody who is going to come in and make things totally different than it used to be, at least among the candidates right now, it pretty much looks like the same Republican Party that we've seen in the House so far this year.
COATES: Doesn't bode very well for the 217. Who gets there?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hard to say because a lot of these guys have the same credentials as the people who came before them. If you like somebody who's in the flavor of Jim Jordan, well, you got Byron Donalds. He couldn't get there. If you like somebody like Steve Scalise, well, you got Tom Emmer. Scalise couldn't get there.
JENNINGS: And a lot of these guys you've never even heard of. And so, it's unclear. I do think this -- I think they're all hearing an earful from their voters. They -- people who desperately wanted there to be a republican majority. Right now, they're embarrassed that the party looks like it can't organize a two-car funeral.
And so, I think back home, folks are like, you guys are the leg of the stool that we have. Remember, Democrats control the Senate and the White House. They need the Republican Party to be functioning at the table. We don't have it right now.
COATES: So, I mean, McCaul (ph) and McCarthy both called it embarrassing as well. I mean, the voters look at this and, as to Scott's point, about that third leg. How does this bode well for Republicans trying to hold on to that majority?
RAMESH PONNURU, EDITOR, NATIONAL REVIEW INSTITUTE: Well, I think that if it gets resolved soon and it doesn't lead to real world consequences like a government shutdown, then I think you can go into the 2024 election and there'll be plenty of new fiascos for people to concentrate on.
COATES: But aren't we already just picking up in real world? I mean, consequences already? You know, aid to Ukraine, Israel, other things are going on.
PONNURU: There is no forcing event yet that is requiring House Republicans. We look at them and we think they've hit bottom. They haven't hit bottom yet. They obviously don't feel compelled, at least not 217 of them, to take an action.
That might change. That might change if there is something that they actually have to do. I think when there's legislation that they actually feel necessary to vote, then they may have to do something like just decide they're going to keep Speaker Pro Tempore Patrick McHenry and try to operate the House that way.
COATES: Can that work?
PONNURU: I don't think they feel the urgency yet.
COATES: Can that work? I mean, are there rules where you -- I mean, pro tempore can't be everything yet.
ENTEN: Look, we're in uncharted territory here. But I will say, look, you can have committee work that's done.
But at least according to most constitutional scholars, you can't actually pass legislation. Now, what you could do is you could change the House rules. The majority could decide to change the House rules and empower him more. But the fact is, you still need to get to that 217 votes to empower him more, and that number 217 seems awfully difficult.
JENNINGS: And a lot of Republicans do have a fit (ph) about that plan, by the way.
JENNINGS: I mean -- and honestly, if you want to empower somebody with the duties of the speaker, why not just make him the speaker? I mean, why are we playing this assistant to the regional manager game here?
I mean, let's just make him the speaker of the House.
COATES: Wait, I'm sorry, I want to appreciate the Dwight Schrute reference that happened just now from the office here. I appreciate that. Thank you very much.
PONNURU: But the alternative is let us -- you move a bill. There's a point of order raised against it. Unless you've got 217 people who actually want to take that down --
PONNURU: -- in which case it's not passing anyway, you can go ahead. The House makes its own rules.
COATES: I'm concerned about the next question I have to ask because I'm a little bit scared. What exactly does rock bottom look like then if we're not here in terms of public perception of Congress and beyond?
ENTEN: I just wonder, could it really get any worse? We've passed fewer laws this Congress that were actually signed into law than any in at least the last 50 years. We --
COATES: Is that right?
ENTEN: That is right. We've had, you know. --
JENNINGS: Don't threaten me with a good time.
ENTEN: I know. There you go.
JENNINGS: Come on, keep talking.
ENTEN: I keep talking. You know, we've had --
PONNURU: But with the House this closely divided, there's not much that's going to get past regardless of who's speaking.
ENTEN: But, yeah, but come on, we've had -- we've had close houses before. Look, at the end of the day, we've had 20 days, 20 days since we've had a speaker, and that's mid-session. That is the longest stretch ever. The longest previous stretch was two days, back in 1820. I mean, we're in historic territory. Who knows what's going to happen? The bottom, we'll just keep on digging. Maybe we'll find our way on the other side of the world.
COATES: Give me the good time Charlie moment. Go ahead.
JENNINGS: I mean, aid packages aside, the activating moment here is mid-November when the government runs out of money. That happens whether they have a speaker of the House or not.
And so, my suspicion is, is that if we keep dragging this out and dragging this out, it may come a moment where Democrats say, okay, uncle, uncle, and maybe enough vote present to help somebody get over the line. But hopefully, the Republican Party can show some organization this week, elect a speaker, and start looking at these national security issues, which are real and present dangers to the free world right now, and look like a responsible governing party.
COATES: You know what I heard just now? If, maybe, perhaps.
JENNINGS: Yeah. If you have some bucks for candy and nuts, every day will be Christmas. COATES: We all have a happy Christmas. I don't know why you're my kindred spirit right now. I'm afraid and terrified and love it all at once. Everyone, Harry, Scott, Ramesh, thank you all so much.
There is chaos not only on Capitol Hill, but it's in the skies after an off-duty pilot allegedly tried to take control of an Alaska Airlines flight. Have you heard this? Including attempting to shut off the engines of the airplane. Now, he is charged with 83 counts of attempted murder. Two passengers are going to tell me what happened, next.
COATES: It's what many of us imagine as really the worst-case scenario on a flight. A struggle in the cockpit as someone is trying to take over the plane. That allegedly happened on an Alaska Airlines flight just this weekend. The airline saying that an off-duty pilot riding in the flight deck jump seat was forcefully subdued by the crew. Why? He was trying to shut off the engines by pulling the engine fire extinguisher handles. Here is what the actual pilot told air traffic control after it all went down.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN (voice-over): We've got the guy that tried to shut the engines down out of the cockpit, and he doesn't sound like he's causing any issues in the back right now. I think he's subdued. Other than that, we want law enforcement as soon as we get on the ground and are parked.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: Unbelievable. This is possible, by the way. The suspect is now charged with 83 felony counts of attempted murder, 83 counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of endangering an aircraft. Now, imagine what it must have been like to be on that plane.
Well, joining me now, two people who were there as it happened, Aubrey Gavello and Alex Wood. Glad to have you both here. I mean, I cannot imagine what that must have felt like on that plane. I'm thinking this is like a horror movie. Aubrey, when did you know something was wrong?
AUBREY GAVELLO, ON FLIGHT ALLEGEDLY DISRUPTED BY OFF-DUTY PILOT: I didn't know anything was wrong until the flight attendant came on the loud speaker and said that we had a situation and we needed to land the plane immediately. We didn't know where we were landing and we didn't know what was wrong, but she assured us we were safe.
COATES: Alex, I mean, just hearing that, I would -- I would have a million questions in that moment in time. I'm sure you guys did as well. The audio from the pilot said he was subdued and put in the back of the plane. Did you actually see him being put back there? ALEX WOOD, ON FLIGHT ALLEGEDLY DISRUPTED BY OFF-DUTY PILOT: Yeah. So, the funny part of this story, if you can pull one funny thing out of it, is that I fell asleep. I had headphones in. I was in 1A, so I was right by the cockpit. But nothing -- nothing woke me up, nothing was loud enough, nothing was rambunctious enough to wake me up. And according to Aubrey, they just kind of walked him down the aisle. He seemed calm, he seemed with it, but he did seem a little in shock.
COATES: This is the problem with noise cancellation headphones, by the way. You can't actually see it. We have to have the transparent mode on. Alex, we have to have the story here. Oh, this happens all the time. Turn it to transparent.
Aubrey, tell me what the flight attendant said. I mean, they said what happened, and you saw this unfold. What happened once you landed the actual plane?
GAVELLO: After we landed, about five police officers came on and escorted the gentleman from the back of the plane. He was in zip ties. And the whole situation the entire time was very calm.
He was cooperative and, you know, props to the Alaska crew for keeping everyone calm and, you know --
WOOD: Kind of out of the loop, to be honest.
GAVELLO: Kind of out of a loop, yeah.
WOOD: We knew that we had to emergency land. We knew that we had to emergency land, but we didn't know it was a security threat until about five minutes before landing, when the pilot came on and said, we have to land in Portland, and I was awake at this point, and --
-- we have to land in Portland, and there was a disturbance in the cockpit. So that rang a few alarm bells, but everyone stayed calm. There were some whispers and some murmurs, but nothing -- nothing crazy. No yelling, no screaming, no standing up, and it was all handled super well.
COATES: I mean, shout out to the flight attendants who were able to keep everyone calm and having that pilot voice that comes over that makes you very -- kind of the Morgan Freeman voice. I always said that comes over the airwaves in that moment. But now that you know what happened, what goes through your mind and what could have happened to you?
GAVELLO: I mean, we were learning about it in real time with everyone else. I'm honestly grateful that we didn't know anything when they rebooked us and got us on a second plane. I don't know if I would have felt comfortable doing that if we had all the information. So, we woke up this morning and read about it with everyone else and we're in disbelief.
COATES: Well, Alex, Aubrey, I'm so glad that you're with us to talk about this. I cannot believe this. Alex, have you learned your lesson about the noise cancellation headphones? Yeah, we are going to put transparent mode on, right?
WOOD: Yeah, transparent mode and coffee before every flight. I'm staying awake with laser focus from now on.
GAVELLO: And we're sitting together moving forward.
COATES: Oh, well, I wasn't going to mention that part. Alex, Aubrey, thank you both so much.
WOOD: Yeah, thank you.
COATES: You know, coming up next, we've got more on the war between Israel and Hamas in just a moment. And also, how you can help with humanitarian relief efforts.
COATES: You know, with the number of casualties that are mounting in the Israel-Hamas war, many of you watching have been asking how you can help with humanitarian relief efforts. Well, you can head to cnn.com/impact. CNN has a list of vetted organizations on the ground who are responding. That's cnn.com/impact or you can text RELIEF to 707070 to donate.
Thank you all for watching. Our live coverage continues in just a moment.