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Laura Coates Live
Israel And Hamas Clash In Northern Gaza, Violating Fragile Truce; From Death To Captivity To Freedom, A Child's Return Home; Liz Cheney Blasts GOP As Trump Enablers And Collaborators; Americans For Prosperity Endorses Nikki Haley; House Speaker Encourages George Santos To Consider Resigning; Hunter Biden Willing To Testify Up On Capitol Hill. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired November 28, 2023 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
AMY CARTER, DAUGHTER OF JIMMY AND ROSALYNN CARTER: I have been thrilled when I returned to discover just how wonderful you are.
While I am away, I try to convince myself that you really are not, could not be, as sweet and beautiful as I remember. But when I see you, I fall in love with you all over again. Does that seem strange to you? It doesn't to me.
Goodbye, darling, until tomorrow, Jimmy.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: Theirs was quite a bond. Thank you so much for joining us here in Tel Aviv tonight.
Laura Coates Live starts right now.
LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the special two-hour edition of Laura Coates Live. Abby has the night off.
Does a clear violation of a shaky truce between Israel and Hamas maybe spell its end? Both sides of the war confront this choice, to choose between peace or to renew violence.
And there are two very different stories emerging this very evening from the very same incident. Clashes in Northern Gaza that both sides say mark a breach of an already touch and go truce. Both sides are pointing fingers and laying the blame on the other for skirmishes reportedly involving explosive devices.
Now, it is truly a classic fog of war incident. And yet, at least for now, both sides are choosing to look past it. We already know and witnessed a now nightly routine. The Israeli government says it's received and is then going to review a list of hostages that Hamas says it will hand over tomorrow.
Today, a starkly different view of the war not from the frontline of the fighting but from the choreographed handover of Israelis. This view comes courtesy of Agency France Press. And it shows hundreds lined up around Red Cross vehicles cheering, shouting, Allahu Akbar, God is great. The look and feel, it is very different than the slickly produced slaughter of Israelis the world watched on October 7th. At one point, you're going to see masked terrorists escort a person in a wheelchair to the Red Cross.
Now, I want to bring in former Pentagon Counterterrorism Official, excuse me, Alex Plitsas. I'm so glad that you are here with us tonight.
And looking at all that we're seeing, first of all, this idea of a very clear violation of what's happening, but they're looking past it. The hostages are still going to be released. What are you seeing when you think about how this is all unfolding?
ALEX PLITSAS, FORMER PENTAGON COUNTERTERRORISM OFFICIAL: That's a great question. And when the incidents unfolded a little earlier today, I was very concerned that this was going to escalate and potentially derail the ongoing transfer of hostages and the temporary ceasefire that's been established through the negotiations that have taken place.
But it seems, as you mentioned, that it was an isolated couple of incidents that are there. And whether it was fog of war, as you mentioned earlier, which is a very realistic potential, or whether or not this was a couple of actors who were trying to derail the process, it's clear that both sides do not see that as something that they want to move forward with, and they're going to look past it right now.
COATES: And when you're saying, what is happening, you're talking about the areas of evacuation. Gaza, and of course, line with all of the hospitals, the two main roads used for evacuating evacuation. You know, of course, the different border and countries, and yet this Rafah crossing, everyone has been looking at and pointing to, where did all this take place? Do we have an idea of these skirmishes?
PLITSAS: Yes. So, the skirmishes, I mean, the Israeli forces are operating mainly in the north, as you mentioned here, and you see Wadi Gaza, which is the line that the Israelis have given and saying everyone needs to evacuate south of there to try to clear civilians off the battlefield.
So, there were a number of explosions that took place, and there was three all together, if I'm not mistaken, and some machine gun fire that had kind of turned into a bit of a skirmish. I think it was the word used earlier. It was an accurate description of what took place.
COATES: And we know, of course, the CIA director has been back in the area, and so we know, so far, of all the people released, we're talking about women and children, there are still many others, now the conversation's around potential for releasing men as well. What's happening there?
PLITSAS: Great question. And Bill Burns is a fantastic CIA director, and he has a very unique skill set instead of experiences where he was a diplomat for a long time and an ambassador. He spent more time with Vladimir Putin than anybody else in the administration. It was at a dinner with him about a month ago where a former CIA director, Tenet, talked about being on the phone with him as they were crafting an agreement with Arafat back in the day.
He's got a boatload of experience. He knows how to negotiate. He knows how to deal with tough characters. And he's somebody that the administration has relied on, on a regular basis, to deliver sensitive diplomatic notes or discussions behind closed doors when things need to get there. So, he's the right guy for the job right now.
COATES: When you look at what we're learning, and we're hearing about the stories of so many and many more -- I mean, these were free just today. These human beings, these people, these loved ones. We're learning about some who had to endure watching the horrific videos of the slaughter.
Does that tell you anything about the psychological warfare at play here?
PLITSAS: Yes, I think so. And there's a couple of potential reasons why they would do that, right? So whether it's just pure continuation of the torture that they endured, there were somebody who may be particularly enjoyed it. We've known from the videos that were captured by GoPro that some of the Hamas members were laughing. There was maniacal laughter in the backgrounds. There were some people who enjoyed what happened, which is what makes us even more sick, or whether or not it's potentially a warning, because a lot of the folks that released had another, at least one family member who remained captured, who they were co-located with for quite some time.
And so they may have wanted to prevent them from giving details about where they were captured or locations specifically to avoid that situation and giving up the information, and so to do so continuously reminding them of the repercussions of what could happen and to scare them into basically being quiet.
COATES: Yes, that's a really important point, the idea of trying to use this, not only as a way of showing this maniacal moment but also trying to deter them from saying, here who else is right here. So, we don't even know what we don't know at this point. And all the debriefings that must be taking place. Really, really powerful to think about all this and unbelievable for so many reasons.
Alex Plitsas, thank you so much for joining us today.
Now even the youngest hostages once released are having to return to lives that they have drastically changed.
CNN's Clarissa Ward spoke to Thomas Hand. This is the father of the nine-year-old Emily Hand. Now, Emily had been at a sleepover, a sleepover on October 7th, when Hamas attacked.
Now, he initially thought that his beautiful little girl was dead. But he found out later that she'd been kidnapped by Hamas. Now, she was released on Saturday. And Thomas Hand says she's only just starting to even explain what she experienced.
THOMAS HAND, NINE-YEAR-OLD DAUGHTER RELEASED BY HAMAS: She said, she'll be here in a couple of minutes. I was like, oh, I don't believe it. And all of a sudden, the door opened up and she just ran. It was beautiful, just like I imagined it, running together.
I squeezed. I probably squeezed too hard.
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It was a moment Thomas Hand thought would never come, told his nine-year- old daughter, Emily, had been killed in the October 7th attacks, then that she was believed to be held hostage in Gaza. Finally, reunited with her family after 50 days in captivity, free, but visibly haunted by her ordeal.
HAND: Certainly, when she stepped back a little, I could see her face was chiseled like mine, whereas before she left it was, you know, chubby, curly, young kid, face.
The other and the most shocking, disturbing part of meeting was she was just whispering. I couldn't hear here. I had to put my ear on her lips, like this close, and say, what did you say? And she was like, I thought you were kidnapped.
WARD: She said, I thought you were kidnapped?
HAND: She thought I was in captivity.
WARD: And what has she told you about what she's gone through?
HAND: I thought she was in the tunnels, but she wasn't in the tunnels. They were actually fleeing from house to house. She doesn't like it. She preferred to as casa, she says, the kufsa, the box. So, you have to say, like how long were you in the box, the kufsa? She said a year.
And apart from the whispering, that was like a punch in the gut.
WARD: There's that one photograph right after your reunion, and you're holding her. And there is this sort of seriousness to her facial expression.
HAND: Yes, she's almost staring, isn't she? A little bit of a disconnect with everything going on around her.
WARD: Has she cried?
HAND: Oh, yes. Last night, she cried until her face was red and blotchy. She couldn't stop. She didn't want any comfort. I guess she's forgotten how to be comforted. I just had to wait until she came out of it by herself.
[22:10:00] And she knows how to do that. She's a very determined little girl, very strong. I knew that her spirit would get her through it.
WARD: There have been glimpses of the old Emily, her first request to listen to Beyonce and play with the family dog. But many moments of pain, like when Thomas was forced to break the news to her that his ex-wife, Narkis, had been killed.
Does Emily understand what happened on October 7th?
HAND: Yes, yes, yes, unfortunately she does. And how do you tell her, you know, your second mum is dead, killed, shot. When we got back to the hospital, I asked the psychiatrist, you know, what do I do, what should I do? She said, you've just got to tell her straight, that's the best way.
Okay, yes. That was very hard because we told her and her little eyes glazed up and she just went -- took a sharp breath and take a breath, a terrible thing to tell a child. And they recommend that you have to close the book.
It sounds cruel, but you have to stop that hope. So, you've got to stop that. It has to be final. Narkis is dead.
WARD: And so what is the next step now? How long do you stay here? How do you start a new life?
HAND: The future is obviously to get Emily back to health, and we will do that along the way. But the next thing is along the way is that we have to get older children, obviously, all the women, all the men, all the hostages have to come back. They have to be brought back.
COATES: Clarissa Ward, thank you so much. I mean that was just gut- wrenching. You guys know that I have a nine-year-old daughter. And the entire time I'm listening to that, I'm thinking about what that must have been like and what the nine-year-old little girl's mind is like right now to think that she'd been gone for 50 days believing that it was now a year, not being able to accept comfort, learning that her father had not been in captivity but she's seeing him now, this disconnect.
I mean, when we look at the release and return of these hostages, I know I'm keeping in mind, and I know many of you are as well, about the road that must be ahead for these families who think they're going to be receiving who left 50 days ago, and perhaps the innocence, that pure innocence is not coming back, and it is devastating to think about.
And I'm not sure at times how you can put one foot in front of the other, but as they say, my mother always tells me, life must go on. I forget sometimes just why.
Up next, another CNN exclusive, Liz Cheney blasting her Republican colleagues and revealing their conversations about Donald Trump, including why Kevin McCarthy made that infamous trip to Mar-a-Lago. Her fellow Republican on the January 6th committee is going to join me live.
Plus, a major moment in the 2024 race tonight, the influential and well-funded Koch Network, they have backed someone, and it's Nikki Haley, in an attempt to take Donald Trump down in the primary. Jonathan Karl is here.
COATES: Tonight, there's a warning and a portrait of Republican cowardice from a former Congresswoman who says she witnessed it right up close. CNN has new and exclusive details from Liz Cheney's new book, titled Oath and Honor, and it's due out next week. But lo and behold, CNN got a hold of a copy.
Cheney's chronicles various episodes showing how Republicans bent every which way to try to appease the former president, Donald Trump.
Here to talk about it, former Congressman and January 6th Select Committee Member Adam Kinzinger and the reporter who broke this CNN exclusive, Special Correspondent Jamie Gangel. I'm so glad that you're here.
I can tell you, I want to like take the book out of your hands and like, oh thank you, I want to read it cover to cover. I'll hold it right here for a second. But she's not holding back in this book at all. Tell me about it.
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. So, Liz Cheney is painting a scathing portrait of her Republican colleagues, of the party, for what she calls, she calls them enablers, collaborators. She says they appeased him and she talks about their cowardice. I just want to read you a couple of quotes from the book. She says, quote, Donald Trump cannot succeed alone and they are enabling him.
I think what's important is she has the receipts. She names names. The book is based on text messages, emails, personal conversations, meetings, and it's really filled with revelations about what was going on behind the scenes.
So, she talks about her relationship, her unlikely alliance with Nancy Pelosi. But here is an extraordinary scene from the book. It is January 6th. It's the GOP cloakroom and Republican Congressman Mark Green of Tennessee is signing his name to object to electoral vote. They all know, as she writes in the book, that it's a farce.
And she overhears him say the following, quote, as he moved down the line, signing his name to the pieces of paper, Green said sheepishly to no one in particular, the things we do for Orange Jesus.
COATES: Well, that's a new nickname, the Orange Jesus. Obviously, she's talking about Donald Trump's here.
GANGEL: He's talking about Donald Trump. So, you know, in public, they're supporting him, in private, this is -- you're hearing what they really say.
COATES: You know, in a way, we suspected a new part of that from the reporting over the years. People behind the scenes would talk about something and then in front of the cameras.
But there's also this moment that I think everyone wondered about, and that was one former speaker, Kevin McCarthy, who was hoping to become the speaker of the House, obviously. It was a short-lived venture. But about his trip to Mar-a-Lago, and this book talks about Liz Cheney's question to him as to why he was in this picture, why he went down there. Here's the picture we're talking about. What did she say?
GANGEL: So, first of all, when she saw that picture, she thought it was a fake. She couldn't believe it. This is just three weeks after January 6th, and he secretly goes down to Mar-a-Lago. And when he comes back, she confronts him.
And this is the conversation that they have. Cheney says -- sorry, let me get it here -- Mar-a-Lago, what the hell, Kevin? Kevin McCarthy says, they're really worried Trump's not eating, so they asked me to come see him. Cheney, what? You went to Mar-a-Lago because Trump's not eating? McCarthy, yes, he's really depressed.
COATES: Seriously, Jamie? I mean, you really can't script this. If this had been an actual show, it would have jumped the shark, as I say a long time ago. That's what -- let me bring in here for a second, though, and think about these moments before we bring in the former congressman, Kinzinger, who lived this and saw this. Is that seriously what his motivation was for going down to Mar-a-Lago?
GANGEL: No, no. He was going because in the three weeks between January 6th when, for 15 minutes, the Republicans all said the right thing, they condemned the January 6th attack, they said Trump was responsible, all of a sudden, Kevin McCarthy can't raise money anymore. Kevin McCarthy wants to be speaker of the House. And I'm sure Congressman Kinzinger can speak to this much better than I do but he goes running back to Trump because he thinks he needs Trump's help to get money and to become speaker.
COATES: Congressman Kinzinger, let me going to bring you in here because, you know, you have to wonder knowing that we've all seen how this all played out as in being the speaker of the House was that photograph in those moments actually worth it. But you've lived this both on January 6th and then, of course, you worked on the committee. When you're hearing all of this from this soon to be released book by your fellow congresswoman and member of that same committee, what is your reaction?
ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I mean, it's zero surprise on any of this. Like I -- so you asked me, was it worth it? Look, if you have no -- how do I say this, like somewhat professionally, if you have no moral center and your whole goal is just to attain some kind of a position, which is Kevin McCarthy, then, yes, it was worth it because he became speaker, and he will forever be known as Speaker Kevin McCarthy.
Now, was it worth it for the country? Was it worth it for the cost to your own personal soul? I guess. I don't think so because look, it's funny because, you know, when, as Jamie's talking about him saying, well, you know, he's not eating, first off, the idea of like Kevin going down there and feeding Donald Trump in his mouth, it's like -- it's just blows me away. We got to be a cartoon for it. But, secondly --
COATES: I'm too visual for that. Please, I'm too visual for that image right now. I can't, go ahead.
KINZINGER: But, secondly -- so, I know Kevin well and I can hear him saying it. Because what Kevin does, every time he talks to you, he takes your side. So, when Liz calls him, he thinks it's going to be good to say like he's depressed and not eating, to Liz, like Liz is going to care. And then like, to me, it was basically, well, you know, he's -- I was down there fundraising and they invited me over, and you're not going to say no to the former president. And I'm sure when some of the Freedom Club members called him, he's like, yes, cause I'm all in on Donald Trump. I mean, he doesn't -- there's no like core to him.
The reality is, I think, if the speaker's race had been four years away, you would have seen Kevin McCarthy do something different because he could have thought about it and said, over four years, I may be able to take on this Trump base and kind of get the party back to, quote/unquote, normal. Instead -- and he's right, he could not have done that in two years.
So, he had to make a decision for the country or for the title of speaker. And I got to tell you, history will judge that Kevin McCarthy -- I've said this since I guess, since the day it happened, Kevin McCarthy is the guy, the guy that resurrected Donald Trump.
COATES: Wow. I mean, you and Liz Cheney, I mean, you both want to turn the party toward a different future, likely for that very reason. And the resurrection, so to speak, of what was the name of one of the members talking in the book, the Orange Jesus, I think it was.
We are seeing some high donors trying to do the same thing with the Koch brothers. Obviously, now they're backing Nikki Haley, not Trump, not DeSantis either, which I'm going to talk about more in my next segment. But do you think this influx of cash to different candidates will make a difference and maybe suppress that so-called resurrection?
KINZINGER: Well, look, it always makes a difference because, again, anything is just momentum. So, giving people permission right now, and this is what's weird when you have like kind of the almost cult structure that exists in the GOP around Donald Trump, because, listen, Liz's stories about hearing people say something different. I had people come up to me on the floor all the time and tell me, thank you for doing the January 6th committee stuff and then saying, I mean, I can't do it because of my district. I'm like, have you seen my district?
So, all of these things give people a permission structure to walk away and we're kind of at that point -- I mean, Trump's got to lose a lot to lose the primary, let's be clear. So, I think probably smart money is on Donald Trump gets it. But you look at Nikki Haley, you look at Chris Christie surging in New Hampshire.
I think there is a possibility, especially if Donald Trump ends up going to trial in the spring, that it's somebody else. But, again, if I was in Vegas playing Vegas odds, I probably wouldn't put any money on that.
COATES: Well, I mean, Jamie, the Koch team has, what, $70 million war chest. I don't know about smart money, but a lot of money comes into this.
But I want to ask you about the name and the title of the book. It's called Oath and Honor. And I am going to steal this from you. I'm not giving it back. Sorry about that. It's a memoir and a warning. And don't spoil it for me or the audience, but what's the nature of the warning?
GANGEL: Look, I think this is taking -- Liz Cheney has said that Donald Trump is the most dangerous person to have ever been in the Oval Office. And she concludes the book, and I'm not giving it away, there's more, but with really this chilling warning, and that is that if he's allowed to be president again, the checks and balances of our country will not hold this time, that there will not be any guardrails.
And it's really a call to action, not just Republicans, Democrats, Independents, and Republicans, to come together and make sure he's never president again.
COATES: Well, I'm going to flip through the pages and figure out, Adam Kinzinger, Jamie Gangel, to see if there's an announcement from the former congresswoman, Liz Cheney. I'm not saying it's in there, but I'm curious to see if maybe she has somebody else in mind that she'd like to run and if it has her own last name. Thank you both of you for joining me tonight.
Now, as I mentioned, new signs that influential Republicans are putting their money where their mouths are who are looking for possible alternatives to Trump. And Nikki Haley getting a huge endorsement from the key Republican group today. Jonathan Karl joins me next.
COATES: Money, money, money. It's what every presidential candidate wants. Shout out to ABBA, by the way. And what one of them is getting here, just in time for Christmas and the stretch run to the early voting states, Nikki Haley, today picking up one of the most significant endorsements of the campaign so far. The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity announced today that it's going to support Haley's bid to stop Donald Trump.
Joining me now, ABC's chief Washington correspondent, Jonathan Karl. He's the author of "The New York Times" bestseller, "Tired of Winning: Donald Trump And The End Of The Grand Old Party". Jonathan Karl, so nice to see you tonight. Thanks for stopping by. There is a lot to talk about with you in particular. But let's begin with this sound bite I have because you've got to hear this snippet from Americans For Prosperity. That, of course, is the Koch-backed group that's now endorsing one Nikki Haley. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNKNOWN: Joe Biden and Donald Trump had their chance. They can't fix what's broken. America, with the right leaders, we faced adversity and risen to victory. Now, it's our time to turn the page and choose a new leader. Nikki Haley, a true fiscal conservative, a positive vision for the future.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COATES: I'll set aside, of course, the obvious goonies comparison with it's our time. I use it myself in college for a campaign I was running at that point, but that's the message right now. They had their time. Both the candidates are essentially relics. Will this be persuasive to this new set of voters?
JONATHAN KARL, ABC NEWS CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Well, I don't know, but there is a significant thing here happening. Americans for Prosperity, which is Charles Koch's group, it's the Koch Network, has a lot of money behind it.
As of June of this year, those are the most recent numbers, they had raised $70 million. You can be sure it's an order of magnitude greater than that. And they are now saying that they will spend heavily to defeat Donald Trump in the Republican primary. They're backing Nikki Haley as they believe having the best chance.
But they have said that they are doing this because they have done extensive research in the early primary states, and they believe that there is a significant chunk, a majority of the Republican primary electorate that is either open to or wants an alternative to Donald Trump. Now, it doesn't look that way when you look at the polls.
He's got this huge lead, but his lead is less in those early primary states. And we'll see what happens now. They're going to go in, not just advertising, but they've got a grassroots network. And we'll see how it plays out. Remember, the Kochs did not engage in 2016 or in any other presidential primary. This is the first time that they have done this.
COATES: Why would this effort be different, do you think?
KARL: Well, they stayed out of it. You know, I had an interview with Charles Koch as the primaries were wrapping up. Trump had essentially clinched knot. It was before the convention. He hadn't totally clinched it but he had essentially clinched it. I went out to Wichita, you know, he almost never does interviews. And he told me during that interview that the choice between Trump and Hillary Clinton -- he might well vote for Hillary Clinton.
That's how much he said he despised Donald Trump. But they waited until way too late to even express that viewpoint, and they never spent any money against him. So now, you know, they claim to be their free marketers, that they did this now because they believe they're not throwing their money away. They believe it can make a difference. That's the judgment they've made.
Again, there's not a lot of empirical evidence out there right now that Trump is beatable in the Republican primary, but Laura, you and I have followed these races. You know, before Iowa and New Hampshire have a tendency to surprise. I think it's -- it was a big mistake in 2016 to think Trump couldn't win, obviously. I think it may be a mistake now to think that there's no way he can lose a Republican primary.
COATES: But at Iowa, of course, in particular, I mean, you've got someone named Governor Ron DeSantis who thought that he would be a shoe-in there. He's got endorsements out of Iowa in particular. He has been really invested in trying to get the support and be able to be a strong contender. So with this endorsement of Nikki Haley, instead of, I might add, Governor Ron DeSantis -- is this kind of the death knell for his campaign?
KARL: I mean, it certainly doesn't help. And Ron DeSantis' campaign has been in a slow spiral down. I mean, if you go back to polls about a year ago, December of 2022, January of 2023, Ron DeSantis was actually leading in the national polls, leading, he had a significant lead. There was a Wall Street Journal poll in December of 2022 that had Ron DeSantis with a nearly 20 point lead over Donald Trump. So, he's been, you know, kind of spiraling down for some time.
COATES: There's one person who definitely will not be a part of this race. His name is the former vice president, Mike Pence, and you and your colleagues broke some very significant reporting today about what Mike Pence told the special counsel investigators.
The sources say the former vice president described the attorneys that were around Trump as, in their words, "cranks", and they pushed the country toward what they called a constitutional crisis that he's sure that Trump had no evidence of stolen votes. How significant is all of this given you've got Jack Smith and the special counsel hot on a trail?
KARL: Well, and also this is almost certainly going to be the first actual trial. You know, the trial date in this federal election interference case is set for early March. It shows that, first of all, Pence has put all the cards on the table in sworn testimony before Jack Smith, and that he will do that in a public trial. He will be on the witness stand.
COATES: You think so?
KARL: He will be a key witness. Much of this, I think so. I mean, he has said much of this before, but there were a couple of things that were new in here. And one of them is, you know, they have his contemporaneous notes. He took notes throughout this period.
They got those notes from the National Archives. They questioned, according to our sources, they questioned Pence about a particular set of notes where Pence in late December wrote that he had decided not to preside over the electoral count on January 6th.
Too many questions, too many issues. I don't want to hurt my friend. These are notes that Pence wrote to himself. Obviously, he ultimately changed his mind and presided over January 6th, but it's a window into the intense pressure that he was under, that he was actually thinking of skipping it.
I mean, Laura, vice presidents have been presiding over the electoral count since Thomas Jefferson did it in 1801. There have been a couple of occasions where they didn't, but it's extremely rare. And he was under so much pressure that he was thinking of just, you know, turning it over to Chuck Grassley and not doing it.
COATES: Jonathan Karl, thank you so much. Nice talking to you.
KARL: Thank you, Laura. Great talking to you.
COATES: And there's new defiance tonight from embattled Republican Congressman George Santos. I'll speak with a House Democrat who just filed a motion to expel him. That's next.
COATES: A House divided as Republicans try to solve their George Santos problem. Tonight, the House Speaker encouraged the embattled congressman to consider resigning instead of forcing his colleagues to vote on a resolution to expel him. The resolution was filed today by Democratic Congressman Robert Garcia of California, and he'll join me in just a moment.
But not everyone is in support of ousting Santos. Tonight, GOP Congressman Cory Mills telling CNN that he is against expulsion, calling it a slippery slope without due process.
Joining me now is Democratic Congressman Robert Garcia. Congressman, thank you so much for joining me this evening. What a night. I mean, the House now has two days to take up and vote on your motion. Do you have enough Republican votes?
ROBERT GARCIA (D-CA), HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE: I mean, I think we really do. I think that Republicans and Democrats are united on ensuring that we restore integrity to the House. When we filed this resolution almost nine months ago, when Republicans decided to save Santos then, they made the decision to have this ethics investigation and send this to Committee.
That investigation is done. He has clearly violated so much of his oath and still has to face, of course, a courtroom for his 32 counts. We're going to expel him this week. It is time for George Santos to go and time for him to focus on his case that he has in the future.
COATES: You know, you mentioned the idea of the Republicans saving him before. They would tell you that the reason they did not want to support it is because of a potential slippery slope or the idea of expulsion without due process or a conviction.
Now, of course, you do have that receipts-laden ethics report. Is that going to be enough, you think, to push those who are otherwise skeptical of getting them over the edge to say, enough's enough?
GARCIA: Look, he has defrauded the taxpayers, he's defrauded his campaign donors, he's lied on his forms, he has fabricated his entire life story. He has taken donations and spent them at Ferragamo and for Botox and at Sephora. If you can't expel a member of Congress for the crimes and the dishonesty that he has done, what do we even have an expulsion process for?
And so, it is time for George Santos to be expelled from this body. I think we're going to have a united Democratic caucus on board. And I think you're going to have a vast group of Republicans, hopefully a majority, also with the expulsion. And I'll say this also, the speaker, our new speaker, Mike Johnson, should come out and strongly support this expulsion. It is time for them to do the right thing.
COATES: He recently said it remains to be seen whether that will happen this week. But George Santos, the congressman, at least for now, is going after this report. He is calling it slanderous. He also, by the way, went after his own House colleague. Listen to what he had to say.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY), HOUSE REPRESENTATIVE: They all act like they are on ivory towers with white pointy hats and they're untouchable. I mean, within the ranks of the United States Congress, there's felons galore, there's people with all sorts of shy-sty backgrounds, and all of a sudden, George Santos is the Mary Magdalene of United States Congress.
I'm not running for re-election not because this was a damning report. I'm not running for re-election because I don't want to work with a bunch of hypocrites. It's gross. I have colleagues who are more worried about getting drunk every night with the next lobbyists that they're going to screw and pretend like none of us know what's going on and sell off the American people, not show up to vote because they're too hungover or whatever the reason is.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
COATES: I mean, On the one hand, his reason for saying he's not running for re-election might seem very convenient. On the other hand, he's intimating a lot of different details. Do you read his comments to think that he might be exposing the allegations he seems to be saying now?
GARCIA: I mean, look, he's obviously talking about himself as well. I mean, this is someone that has done nothing but lie to everyone, fabricated his entire life story. And so, George Santos is not in reality right now. He's got to be serious and take this moment seriously and focus on what actually is happening to him. He's going to be expelled from the U.S. House and he has a very serious 32 count indictment and criminal case in front of him where he should put all of his energy.
If he was doing the right thing, he would resign tonight. George Santos should resign tonight. He should apologize to the American people. He should apologize to his constituents and if he doesn't do so, he's going to get expelled this week.
COATES: And will a Democrat take his seat?
GARCIA: I mean, we'll see, but surely I hope so. I think that's obviously that's a seat, by the way, that's a Democratic leaning. So, there'll be an election there and we'll see what happens out of that. The important thing is to focus right now on Santos and all of his lies and the ethics report that's come out against him.
COATES: We will see what happens. Democratic Congressman Robert Garcia of California, thank you so much.
GARCIA: Thank you.
COATES: Well, Hunter Biden telling House Republicans he will answer questions in their long-running investigation of his behavior. But there is a catch. I'll tell you what it is, next.
COATES: Well, the President's son who was currently the subject of an investigation led by Republicans in the House Oversight Committee, says that he is willing to testify up on Capitol Hill and answer all the lawmakers' questions potentially, but he has just one stipulation. It must be public and not behind closed doors.
Jamil Jaffer is the former associate White House counsel to President George W. Bush and the founder of the National Security Institute at George Mason University. Jamil, that's quite a caveat. One may not be able to blame him because I'm sure he wants to have it out in the open so no one can sort of twist what he says and tell their own version in front of some podium.
JAMIL JAFFER, FORMER ASSOCIATE WH COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: Yeah, I mean, look, this is a hard one because House Republicans are saying this is an investigation. We get a deposition. We get to hear what you have to say first. And Hunter Biden says, you want to hear what I have to say? I'll do it in public. Let's double down.
COATES: Well, they're saying they don't want this to happen, right? The House Republicans say, no, we want this behind closed doors, which might be incalculable to a lot of people. You say you want him to answer questions. Fine, here he is. What would be the reason they'd want to say, let's first have it behind closed doors, then you can talk openly?
JAFFER: Right. I mean, that's what's on the table, right? This is like an investigation when you're like, I want to know what's going on. I wonder if there's something there, there. And then we'll have a trial, a hearing, whatever. And by the way, now I've got you on the record, so if you say anything different, I can impeach you with the deposition I've got in front of me.
Standard investigation, not typical for Congress, other than in an investigative capacity. Hunter Biden playing, making a smart political move and saying, hey, you want to hear from me? Let's do it in public. Let the American people judge.
Now, Hunter Biden, given what we know about him, may not be the best witness for himself, kind of like Donald Trump, so maybe they should call him and just call buffen and say, all right, let's do it and see how it goes.
COATES: It really is a game of chicken in a way. But you know, you're right when you talk about this not being unlike what normally happens in maybe litigation.
You've got a deposition, then a trial, or you've got a grand jury behind closed doors, and then an open trial for the impeachment about someone's credibility. But do you really think that he's like a Donald Trump and that he'd be his own worst enemy? I mean, Trump can't be contained in many ways and wants to be the person to advocate. Hunter Biden knows perhaps he has a shorter leash, maybe.
JAFFER: I mean, maybe, but this is also a guy, we've got a video doing all sorts of crazy things, using all sorts of drugs. I mean, he's clearly not, you know, in a good place. And so, you know, Republicans might say, hey, look, let's take our chances, bring him in front of the American public, ask him some hard questions, and see how this thing goes. It's a high-risk play, but maybe one they go for.
COATES: A really high-risk play. I mean, he is somebody who has talked about his battle with addiction but in no terms are we aware that he is currently somebody who is using, that is actually part of the topic and the nature of the most recent charges about checking a box and being a gun owner. So, I wonder if that will actually be played. That might be why though he's so vocal in saying, I'm calling your bluff. You want to hear from me? Bring it on.
JAFFER: Yeah, I'm clean and sober, let's have it.
COATES: I wonder what will ultimately take place here. But you know, Washington D.C., sometimes they just can't take yes for an answer. Jamil Jaffer, thank you so much. And just in to CNN, there's new reporting that officials in Doha are in consensus that they want to work to extend the current pause in the Israel-Hamas war to get more hostages out of Gaza. We'll have more on that next.