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One World with Zain Asher

U.S. Secretary Of State Antony Blinken Visits Tel Aviv For The Fifth Time Since Beginning Of Conflict; Alaska Airlines Boeing 737 MAX-9 Door Plug Flies Off Just After Takeoff; U.S. Defense Secretary Goes Missing For Days; President Biden President Biden Speaks At The AME Church In Charleston, South Carolina. Aired 12-1p ET

Aired January 08, 2024 - 12:00   ET




ZAIN ASHER, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: All right, Palestinian officials say that one percent --one percent of the population in Gaza have been killed

in the past three months alone.

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: "One World" starts right now. In the next hour, Antony Blinken will be wheels up on his way to Tel Aviv for

the fifth time since the conflict began. He says the situation in the region could easily metastasize.

ASHER: Also ahead, one week away, one of the most important days in American politics is so close -- it is so close you can literally feel it.

While Donald Trump says, he's got the whole thing in the bag.

GOLODRYGA: Plus, an aviation nightmare and a miracle. How and why passengers made it to safety after a chunk of their aircraft fell to the

ground. Hello everyone, live from New York, I'm Bianna Golodryga.

ASHER: And I'm Zain Asher. You are indeed watching "One World". Three months into its war against Hamas, Israel's military officials say they're

beginning this new sort of less intense phase in terms of their war in Gaza. The spokesperson for the IDF also noting that Israel would continue

to reduce the number of its troops in Gaza.


ASHER: This happening, as Israeli officials continue to send a very ominous warning to all of Israel's regional adversaries, telling them not to get

involved --not to get involved. A lot of people are concerned about this conflict potentially spreading. The Israeli defense minister says that his

forces are, quote, "fighting an axis, not a single enemy."

GOLODRYGA: And earlier, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited IDF troops stationed near the northern border and told them that Hezbollah is

underestimating Israel. Now, it comes as a Lebanese security source tells CNN that a senior Hezbollah commander was killed by an Israeli drone strike

on his car.

It is the second attack on Lebanese soil in six days, though Israel has not claimed responsibility for last week's Beirut strike. And it's raising

fears of the potential for a major escalation of the war in Gaza.

Meantime, the U.S. Secretary of State is back in the Middle East trying to prevent that from happening. Antony Blinken is set to depart from Saudi

Arabia for Israel in the next hour.


ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Palestinian civilians must be able to return home as soon as conditions allow. They cannot. They must not be

pressed to leave Gaza. This is a conflict that could easily metastasize, causing even more insecurity and even more suffering.


ASHER: We're covering all of the angles of this story. We've got Nada Bashir for you who's joining us from Beirut. We've also got Jennifer

Hansler from the Washington, D.C., Bureau.

GOLODRYGA: Let's begin with you, Jennifer, at the State Department. This is, as we noted, Anthony Blinken's fifth visit to the region since the war

began. It began in Turkey this time around. Now, he's landing in Tel Aviv any moment. What is the White House's plan in terms of making sure, at

least from their perspective, this war does not metastasize, to quote Secretary Blinken?

JENNIFER HANSLER, CNN STATE DEPARTMENT REPORTER: Well, Bianna, we have Blinken back in the region for these key meetings, face-to-face meetings

with the regional leaders to try to press that very message. He is calling on those who have leverage with Iran, for example, to use that leverage to

stop this from blowing out of control.

This is a key concern for them as he is dispatched back to the region for these meetings. He's right now meeting with the Crown Prince of Saudi

Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, to press him on the war in Gaza and the need to stop this from spreading. And of course, all eyes are on the meetings in

Tel Aviv that we expect to take place tomorrow.

Blinken is expected to meet with the Prime Minister Netanyahu. He is expected to meet with the war cabinet as he had at every other meeting and

he will be pressing them to do more to protect civilians in Gaza, to allow more aid into Gaza and he is also going to be pushing them to see this full

transition into a new phase of the war.

He said this is something he thinks will allow for more aid to come in, will allow civilians to be maybe further protected. However, he is also

pushing back pretty strongly against comments we're hearing from far-right Israeli officials that you heard a little while ago calling for

Palestinians in Gaza to be resettled outside of Gaza. He said that is unacceptable. They need to be allowed to return home.


But the question of when and how and if that's going to happen remains large because as we heard from the U.N. on Friday, Gaza is inhospitable.


GOLODRYGA: Jennifer Hansler, thanks so much.

ASHER: I want to bring in Nada Bashir, joining us live now from Beirut. Palestinian officials saying that one percent -- one percent of the

population of Gaza have been killed in the past three months alone. Let's talk about what's happening at the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital, in particular.

That is in central Gaza and we're hearing that there are a lot of patients that appear to sort of gone missing amid a period of intense airstrikes and

bombardment. Just what can you tell us about that?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look Zain, we have seen that intensification of Israeli bombardment around parts of central and now

southern Gaza. And what we have seen over the last few days are renewed warnings now from the Israeli military telling civilians in this area,

particularly around the Al-Aqsa hospital, to evacuate, to move, to save spaces, because that fighting, those airstrikes aren't set to intensify.

And, of course, we have heard those repeated warnings now from aid agencies, from the United Nations humanitarian office, that there simply

isn't anywhere safe to turn anymore.

And, in fact, we've been hearing from U.N. Human Rights Office officials on the ground in Gaza around the Al Aqsa Hospital who have been raising

concern over the fact that now many international NGOs who have been providing medical support at this hospital and across many hospitals are

now having to evacuate for their safety, meaning there simply aren't enough medical teams on the ground, particularly at this hospital, one of the few

still functioning in Gaza.

There aren't enough resources left to treat patients who are desperately in need of this care. And what is happening at Al Aqsa, as well as many other

hospitals in Gaza, those that are still functional, of course the vast majority are no longer operational, but what is happening is there are

countless patients going without that urgent treatment.

We've heard from doctors without borders saying that they're seeing an average of about 150 to 200 patients a day. Some days they are seeing more

dead than wounded. Now, of course, there is mounting concern over the impact that this intensified bombardment is having on civilians and also of

course mounting concern over the situation being faced by Palestinian journalists in Gaza.

Of course, we saw yet another journalist, two journalists, and he's killed just yesterday. We've been hearing now from the U.N. Human Rights Office

saying that it is extremely concerned, calling for an urgent and thorough independent investigation.

But of course, this is an on-going situation. This has been the case from the outset of the war. And as you'll see in this report, which I have to

warn some of our viewers may find the videos in this report quite distressing, there is little hope for civilians as they can continue to

face bombardment. Take a look.


BASHIR (voice-over): A final, painful goodbye. Not the first for revered Palestinian reporter Wael al-Dahdouh. His eldest son, Hamza, a fellow "Al

Jazeera" journalist, killed in an Israeli airstrike in the southern region of Khan Younis on Sunday. Laid to rest just a few short months after his

mother, brother, sister and nephew were killed in a strike on Gaza's Nusayrat refugee camp.

This family's utter despair seems impossible to put into words. And yet, day after day, through so much loss, it is Wael al-Dahdouh words that have

given crucial testimony to the reality faced by all in Gaza.

WAEL AL-DAHDOUH, "AL JAZEERA GAZA BUREAU CHIEF (through translator): The world should see through its own two eyes what is happening to the

Palestinian people, not through Israel's eyes. What did Hamza do to the Israelis? What did my family do to them? What did the civilians do to them?

They did nothing. But the world has closed its eyes to what is happening in the Gaza Strip.

BASHIR (voice-over): On Monday, the Israeli military confirmed that it had carried out the airstrike which killed Hamza and fellow "Al Jazeera"

journalist Mustafa Thuraya, saying they had, quote, "struck a terrorist". They're declining to provide further details.

Israel says categorically that it doesn't target journalists, maintaining that the IDF is targeting Hamas in retaliation for the October 7th attack.

But it is hard to reconcile Israel's expressed intentions with the overwhelming number of civilians killed in its military's airstrikes.

In Jabalia, bodies lay tangled in the rubble of this residential building. At least 70 were killed here, survivors say. Struck overnight, as many were


EYAD ABU ELLIBEH, AIRSTRIKE SURVIVOR (through translator): My mother, my father, my brothers and sisters -- all of them. My whole family has been

part of the civil register. There were nothing here. They're fighters.


BASHIR: Such grief is felt across Gaza. In the central region of Deir el- Balah, there is little hope left, as men did with their bare hands in a desperate search for survivors. At the nearby Al-Aqsa hospital, the only

emergency care center left functioning in the area, medical teams are dangerously overwhelmed. Now, fresh warnings from the Israeli military have

forced doctors from several international NGOs to evacuate. Their patients left with nowhere else to turn.

GEMMA CONNELL, OCHA GAZA TEAM LEADER: What I'm seeing today inside of the hospital is an absolute shame on humanity. I've seen children lying in

their own blood. I've seen a child who was hit by shrapnel and doesn't know where his family is.

I've seen a woman who was hit in the face by a strike who has waited six days -- six whole days to access health care, because the fighting around

her was so ferocious. So, what I've seen inside this hospital has to end. The war has to end.

BASHIR: As calls for a ceasefire continue to go unheated, the humanitarian situation in Gaza grows more desperate. It is a reality painstakingly

documented by Gaza's journalists, while al-Dahdouh back on air just hours after his son Hamza was buried, a symbol of resilience for many, but also

one of determination for the world to see and acknowledge exactly what is happening inside Gaza.

BASHIR: Of course, that humanitarian situation unfolding in Gaza is growing more dire with each passing day. The U.N. now saying that some 90 percent

of Palestinians inside the Gaza Strip are displaced.

Of course, there are growing concerns over the risk of a public health disaster as U.N. agencies have termed it, the spread of diseases and of

course, the very real threat of starvation as limited aid continues to struggle to get into the Gaza Strip.

ASHER: Nada Bashir, live for us there. Thank you so much.

GOLODRYGA: Turning back to the U.S., investigators are trying to figure out how a powerful wind tore a gaping hole through an Alaska Airlines plane

mid-flight. Take a look at these dramatic pictures shot by a passenger on board that Boeing 737 MAX-9. The door plug flew off just after takeoff,

blew off just after takeoff from Portland, Oregon on Friday. It has since been found in someone's backyard.

ASHER: Can I just say, I can, I literally cannot imagine anything more terrifying than that. We're also learning, by the way, that there were

other safety issues with this plane, as well.

We've learned that the cockpit light that's supposed to let the pilot know that there's a problem with cabin pressure, that light actually has

malfunctioned at least three times over the past month, including the day before this terrifying incident. It is so serious that the plane is

actually barred from flying over water because of that. U.S. aviation officials are not exactly sure whether or not there's a connection. Take a



UNKNOWN: But if there's a precaution on where a plane can fly, should that plane be flying anywhere?

JENNIFER HOMENDY, CHAIR, NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD: And that's what we're looking at. It is something that is a concern for us, so we're

going to look. But again, I would just caution, it may have absolutely nothing to do with what occurred on that date.


ASHER: All right, CNN Aviation Correspondent, Pete Muntean has more on the investigation.


HOMENDY: It was very violent when the rapid decompression in the door was expelled out of the plane.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): New images from the National Transportation Safety Board show the force of the failure on board Alaska

Airlines flight 1282. Damaged and contorted seats from a 400 mile per hour rush of air through a refrigerator sized hole ripped in the side of the


HOMENDY: The head rests on 25 A and 26 A were gone. The extra oxygen mask was sheared off.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy now says even the cockpit door flew open.

HOMENDY: The time there is a bang, the door flies open. It did eventually shut, but it did blow open during the explosive decompression.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Amazingly, no passengers were seriously hurt.

EMMA VU, PASSENGER ON ALASKA AIR FLIGHT 1282: I woke up to the plane just falling, and I knew it was not just normal turbulence because the masks

came down, and that's when the panic definitely started to set in.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): The flight departed Portland International Airport at 5:07 P.M. on Friday. Six minutes in, climbing through 16,000 feet,

passengers described multiple bangs and the loud rush of air, audible as pilots radioed air traffic control to make an emergency landing back in



The plane, a Boeing 737 MAX-9, only months old, it took its first flight on October 15th and flew only 150 flights for Alaska Airlines. Investigators

say a pressurization warning light came on three previous times including the day before this incident and prompting Alaska Airlines to restrict the

plane from over water flights.

HOMENDY: It's certainly a concern and it's one that we want to dig into.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): The Federal Aviation Administration has now grounded Max nines until airlines can make new inspections, but the incident has

once again thrust Boeing under the microscope. Two fatal crashes grounded the 737 Max for 20 months in the U.S.


ASHER: All right, the race for the White House has shifted.

GOLODRYGA: So excited. You're really selling that animation. Let's go.

ASHER: Maybe I am excited.

GOLODRYGA: It is exciting. It is election year.

ASHER: Well, it has shifted into high gear. Joe Biden is actually set to speak in South Carolina this hour. And he's expected again, of course, to

blast former President Donald Trump as a threat to an American democracy. He did the same thing over the weekend on the anniversary of January 6. We

will, of course, bring you Mr. Biden's comment live. By the way, I am excited about that, too.

GOLODRYGA: Meanwhile, the Republicans hoping to derail former President Trump in the battle for the Republican nomination are focused on Iowa, just

seven days away. Exactly one week, voters there will be the first in the nation to register their picks among the GOP candidates. Here's a look at

what the major candidates have been saying.


NIKKI HALEY, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: This is how we feel the country should go. And all eyes are now on Iowa.

RON DESANTIS, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have a great shot to win if we frame the issues about the problems facing the country.

DONALD TRUMP, U.S. REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: These caucuses -- were going to finish the job bigger and better and stronger than ever


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: As we began this election year, we must be clear, democracy is on the ballot. Your freedom is on the ballot.


GOLODRYGA: CNN's Eva McKend on the ground in Iowa, and she joins us live. So Eva, if we are to believe the polls, despite the resurgence that we have

seen as of late from other Republicans, namely Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, you still have former President Trump miles ahead of them in


EVA MCKEND, CNN U.S. NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: He is, but as President Biden often likes to say, polls don't vote, people vote. But the

big story today, Bianna, on the campaign trail is this weather. It is expected to snow in Iowa heavily in just a few hours. Nikki Haley forced to

cancel a campaign event today. Vivek Ramaswamy forced a shift, as well. Surrogates for former President Donald Trump, who were supposed to be

flying in today, they can't make it.

And this really presents a challenge for these candidates because here in Iowa, it is all about the retail politics, having candidates shake as many

hands, meet as many Iowans as possible to convince them to come out and caucus for them next week. But the looming snow is presenting a challenge.

They were all out though in full force over the weekend. Governor DeSantis, Nikki Haley -- what we're hearing from them is really a shift in strategy.

They are really sharpening their attacks against the front-runner, former President Donald Trump, leaning into an electability argument, trying to

convince Iowans that they would be better suited to go up against President Biden in the fall.

For his part, though, Trump's saying to his supporters, don't take these polls, too seriously. Don't put too much stock in them. I still need you to

get out there next week in what could be frigid temperatures and get out in caucus for me. So, that is the latest from here on the ground.

GOLODRYGA: Eva, I just looked at the windchill. It is 26 degrees outside there in Des Moines. Get inside as soon as you can. Thank you for stepping

out for us. Thank you so much.

ASHER: All right, still to come. The U.S. Defense Secretary went missing for days, and three people knew exactly where he was, not even the

President. Growing outrage about Lloyd Austin's undisclosed hospitalization when we come back.



GOLODRYGA: Well, the Pentagon is facing major backlash this morning after failing to disclose the U.S. Defense Secretary's recent stay in hospital.

ASHER: Yeah, that's right. Lloyd Austin was hospitalized on New Year's Day after complications after he had an elective surgery. But President Joe

Biden, lawmakers and even his own deputy were kept in the dark about what exactly happened to him until three days later.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah, the U.S. Secretary of Defense sits one below the President in the U.S. military's chain of command.

ASHER: And that is why there is so much outrage when it comes to the lack of transparency. Here is CNN's National Security Reporter -- Natasha

Bertrand is joining us live now at the Pentagon.

So, it's a lack of transparency, but also a lack of transparency at a time when there is heightened global tensions. You think about what's happening

in Ukraine. You think about what's happening in Israel. What is the Pentagon saying about why everybody was kept in the dark?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Well, not much, Zain. We really haven't gotten very satisfying answers from the Pentagon over the

last few days. The reason that they are giving as of right now for why Senior National Security Officials and the White House were not notified

until Thursday of last week, three days into Secretary Austin's hospital stay, is because the person who would be charged with doing so, Secretary

Austin's Chief of Staff, was actually out sick.

Now, we have asked repeatedly whether there was no one else available in Austin's inner circle who could have made this notification and he does not

only have a staff of one, as everyone knows, and so we are awaiting response from the Pentagon on that question.

But broadly, this is really creating a lot of frustration inside the Pentagon with officials calling it an unforced error. The secrecy

surrounding this hospitalization was simply not necessary, according to many current and former officials we have spoken to. Secretary Austin is a

deeply private person, and he, of course, has the right to keep his medical conditions private, including the original surgery that he had done on

December 22nd that led to these complications. But where officials say the problems kind of arose here is when he entered the hospital on January 1st.

And you can see the timeline there, and he was taken to the intensive care unit and still no one was notified, not even his Deputy Secretary of

Defense, who had to assume some of his responsibilities while she was actually not even in Washington, D.C. She was out -- she was in Puerto Rico

on vacation. And she was not notified until January 4th that he was actually in the hospital.

So, there are just so many questions now about why the secrecy, whether some processes need to change surrounding the notification process to up

the chain of command, of course, to the President himself who did not find out until days later. And the Pentagon and the White House now say that

they are reviewing all of them.

ASHER: Natasha Bertrand, live for us there. Thank you so much. The fact that the Secretary's Deputy wasn't even aware of what was going on - it's

quite stunning.

ASHER: Right. And had to work while she was in Puerto Rico, not knowing what was going on.

GOLODRYGA: -- on vacation. Well, let's bring in CNN Military Analyst and retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling to talk about this and other

issues in the region there in the Middle East. Thank you so much for joining us.


Let me ask you about Secretary Austin in this controversy. "Politico", which broke the story initially, I believe, is reporting that President

Biden would not accept a resignation letter even if one were offered from the Defense Secretary at this point. Is that the right call?

MARK HERTLING, RETIRED LIEUTENANT GENERAL, CNN MILITARY ANALYST: I believe it is, Bianna. And Happy New Year to both you and Zain. First thing I need

to say, I have to give a disclosure. I'm a West Point classmate of Secretary Austin. He was my commander in combat, and I consider him a

friend, and I think he considers me that way, too.

He is an extremely private person, as your reporter just said. But what I'd also say is very introverted. He does not like to bother people with his

concerns, with his problems. He's been, in my view, a great Secretary of Defense, and he's done exceedingly well at the job.

This was a blunder on his part. Any Commander knows that they should let their boss know if something's happening. But I think he is probably going

to pull the Pentagon Press Corps together as soon as he's released from the hospital and tell them exactly what happened.

He is not going to discuss his procedure or what happened, but he is going to tell them, take responsibility, he will take responsibility for the

actions and explain some of the details that there's a lot of speculation about right now.

In my view, I'm one of those who thinks this has been blown way out of proportion. I've been seeing a lot of people suggest different things, that

he should be fired, that he should resign. In my view, that's a little bit over the top. The Secretary made a mistake. He admitted he made the

mistake. But also, he has the right to privacy. So, there's that balancing act between the two things.

ASHER: Yeah, and I think that when you are Secretary of Defense, you know, yes, of course, you have the right to be an introvert. You have the right

to privacy. But of course, you have to know that with a job like that, there is so much at stake.

I do want to talk about Hezbollah, because we just got word that a major, sort of senior commander within Hezbollah was killed -- Jawad. This is the

sort of second strike strike on Lebanese soil in about six days. I mean, this is really significant. And there has been a lot of concern that this

could end up leading to wider escalation when it comes to this war in the Middle East. What's your take on that?

HERTLING: Yeah, I tell you Zain, that senior Hezbollah commander, his name is Wasim Tawil, is one of the main leaders within Hezbollah in the north,

in Lebanon. The interesting thing about the killing of that individual is - - it's come -- I've been watching the conflict very closely over the last several months, and while our focus has been drawn to Gaza, the amount of

activity that's going on in southern Lebanon, and the amount of fire across the border, north and south of the border has been pretty extensive.

And Prime Minister Netanyahu is visiting the troops in Lebanon today, and he made a statement that's being reported in Israeli newspapers, quote, "We

will do anything to bring security back to the North." He says that Hezbollah thinks that Israel is weakened since 2006, and he says we will

show them that's not the case. That's troubling in my view, but I think Israel has certainly faced their enemy on a two-front war over the last

several months. It's just that we've mostly been focused on what's been happening in Gaza.

And in fact, those frontages are not just Gaza and southern Lebanon, but it's also as we've seen missile strikes and rockets coming in from other

areas, like Iranian Popular Mobilization Fronts and the Houthi rebels, as we've seen out of Yemen.

GOLODRYGA: And something not getting a lot of attention is that you have a quarter of a million Israeli residents have been relocated, if you combine

the south after the October 7th attacks in Gaza and then the north now, where 80,000 residents have been relocated. You don't even see something

like that in 2006, the last war with Hezbollah.

I do want to ask you about the news from the IDF Chief today, stating that the war shifted a stage and has become a new and less intense phase. I

mean, just moments ago, we saw reports of seven rockets launched by Hamas from Gaza into Israel. What does this lesser stage of the war look like,

and what should some of the objectives of the IDF in your view be now?

HERTLING: Well, I think the Israeli Defense Force have found a lot of intelligence over the last three months, especially in the north, in

northern Gaza. As they continue to advance their operations into the central Khan Younus, and other areas within the Gaza Strip, they have a lot

more intelligence that will guide their operations.


It was a very intense kinetic fight over the first two months. There was a lot of seeking intelligence that would help drive future operations. But I

think, based on the number of prisoners that the Israelis have taken from Hamas, based on the fact that they've also gone into many of the tunnels

and see how operations were on-going in some of those tunnel systems, having more capability to know when to strike next and where and with how

much firepower, is going to guide the operations in the South.

It's been a very intense fight. As we see, and you just brought it up, Bianna. You know, again, we have focused on Israeli actions, but what we

haven't focused as much on is the fact that at every opportunity, Hamas continues to fire rockets by the dozens into Israel. So, they are not only

fighting to destroy this terrorist network, they're also attempting to prevent continued attacks on their citizens in Israel.

So, it's going to be, in my view, it's going to continue to be a very difficult and kinetic fight. It will lessen a little bit from what we've

seen over the first two months, where in some cases there were 300 attacks a day by the Israeli Defense Forces. But they're still going to continue

attempting to weed out the main leaders of the Hamas organization. And I think they're also going to face a whole lot more fighting from the

northern regions from Hezbollah out of Lebanon.

ASHER: All right, CNN Military Analyst Mark Hurtling, appreciate you being with us. Thank you so much. All right, still to come, we are going to take

a deeper dive into the Republican race to face Joe Biden this fall. And of course, with one week to go to the Iowa caucuses, Donald Trump is sounding

very confident. When is he ever not?

GOLODRYGA: What a video.


TRUMP: You know, backstage they say to me sometimes, Sir, don't tell them that they're going to vote for you. That sounds so demeaning. I got them

$28 billion. Of course I'm going to win.




ASHER: All right, welcome back to "One World". I'm Zain Asher.

GOLODRYGA: And I'm Bianna Golodryga. We are waiting at any moment for President Joe Biden to deliver remarks in South Carolina as he begins to

ramp up his campaign to win another term in the White House.

ASHER: Yes, South Carolina was key, you remember, back in 2020 to Biden's nomination four years ago. It was the first state to give him a primary

win, and it catapulted him to the Democratic nomination.

GOLODRYGA: I can't over state what a game changer that was for him. And he's hoping for it again in that support. Well, for the Republicans,

meantime, the focus is on Iowa, a mostly rural state with very conservative voters that will hold caucuses, if you can believe it, in exactly one week.

It is sometimes said that Iowa cannot win you the nomination, but it can lose it for you.

Ron DeSantis has staked his campaign on a strong showing in Iowa. He needs to be at least somewhat competitive with Donald Trump there, but the former

president seems very confident that won't happen.


TRUMP: You know, backstage they say to me sometimes, Sir, don't tell them that they're going to vote for you. That sounds so demeaning. I said, I got

them $28 billion for their farmers. Of course, they're going to vote. We're going to win Iowa so big. I got them $28 billion. Of course I'm going to



ASHER: Trump ignited some new controversy over the weekend when he repeatedly referred to people who had been jailed for their role in the

January 6th riots as hostages. He called them hostages, even though they were convicted in a court of law.


TRUMP: You have the hostages -- the J6 hostages, I call them. Nobody's been treated ever in history so, badly as those people. But those J6 hostages --

going to jail for 20 years --18 years, and it'll go down as one of the saddest things in the history of our country. By the way, there was Antifa,

and there was FBI. There were a lot of other people there, too, leading the charge.


ASHER: All right, time now for The Exchange. Joining us live now is CNN's Senior Political Commentator, Adam Kinzinger. Always good to have you on

the show, Adam.


ASHER: He's a former Republican member of Congress who stood up to Donald Trump by joining the January 6th Committee that investigated the former

president. So, here's the thing. Donald Trump has set me, he's so confident at this point in time, clearly and understandably.

But he set the expectation and he set the bar so high at this point in time, that it's not just about whether or not he wins Iowa. So, I think we

accept that he likely will. It's also about how much he wins by. Adam, give us your take on that.

KINZINGER: Yeah, I mean, look. He's like immune in the Republican Party from any expectation he sets. He can set the bar to space. And even if he

falls short of that, as long as he wins, that's all that matters. Because I mean, to be honest with you, it's a cult. I mean, it's -- he's the leader

and there's nothing wrong that he can do. He can stand up and say John McCain, you know, can't raise his arm.

He can say that he would have negotiated. I mean, the silliest thing, he would say, if he was the President in the Civil War, he would have

negotiated an end to the Civil War. I mean, he's a clown, but the problem is, is his base just takes everything he says is gospel.

And so, I don't think there's going to be any surprises out of Iowa, probably not out of New Hampshire. The big thing is just having to make

sure he does not win in November. And that looks like that's going to be where the battlefield is.

GOLODRYGA: Adam, I just want to forewarn you that if we have to interrupt you, we are waiting to hear from President Biden speaking in Charleston.

So, just be aware of that. But I do want to get your take on something our Stephen Collinson wrote in his analysis this morning. And it's this.

"No other presidential candidate has spent the days leading up to the critical first nominating contest in courtrooms as the defendant in two

separate trials. His strategy of anchoring his campaign on his falsehood that he won the 2020 election, which is all at the heart of two of his four

looming criminal trials, and his explicit calls for retribution have helped him make him the strongest front-runner for a presidential nomination in


As somebody who sat there and was part of the January 6th Committee, just days after that anniversary, are you surprised by the amount of support

he's continued to wield focusing on this main issue?

KINZINGER: Yeah, I guess I'm surprised, but I understand it because every other Republican leader is just going along with him.


So, if you're a Republican voter, there's two kinds of people you look at for influence. The former president, he's like the most influential, but

then every other member of Congress, every other leader in the party, and they're all too scared to take him on. So, they're reaffirming everything

he says.

You know, he's a professional victim, and he's done a good job of being like the weakest, whiniest, victimized person ever. And he was the most

powerful man in the world for four years, by the way, but everything is just against him.

And unfortunately, when you have other leaders in the Republican party, reaffirming that he's a victim, that everything's coming, you know, the

deep states coming after him and he's just, you know, poor him, he's standing in the gap between you and this out of control government.

It's, it's not a shock for me. Like I'm surprised that we're still here, but I'm more just surprised that other leaders haven't had the courage to

say the truth to their voters. And that's why we find ourselves in this moment. Again, it's -- I don't think it's going to help him in the general

election, but it looks like he's going to win the nomination running away.

ASHER: Let's talk about the other candidates that are vying to win in Iowa. I mean, Ron DeSantis has literally put in so much effort, time and energy

in Iowa. My guess is that he comes second place here, but if he doesn't do well, and by not doing well, I mean that he is a distant second. It's

perhaps much more of a distant second than he anticipated. What's next -- Ron DeSantis after Iowa?

KINZINGER: Well, I think he's going to drop out. I mean, look, who's even talking about him anymore? To be honest with you, when you mentioned, let's

talk about the other candidates, who was the last person?

ASHER: Why do they matter? Why? Nikki, who?

KINZINGER: It's like, wait, Ron, is he still in this thing? I mean, look, he went from like $500 gajillion in the bank to hoping to finish second in

Iowa. I really -- here's the problem that he started to run, it wasn't a bad theory. He started to run as mini-Trump with the assumption that Trump

would get charged with these crimes and that he would fall apart in the primary. And if he did that, I mean, honestly, Ron probably would have been

in a good place to kind of take that mantle, but that didn't happen. And so, just --

ASHER: All right, Adam, Adam.


ASHER: We've got to go. I'm sorry.

KINZINGER: All right.

ASHER: President Biden is speaking now -- speaking in Charleston, South Carolina at the AME Church. Let's listen in.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Thank you. I rest my case. Thank you. Please. Thank you.


Four more years. Four more years.

BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you. It's going to go to my head. Please. Thank you. Jim? You know, just say -- one thing about what Jim has been talking

about that confuses me about our Republican friends sometimes, the MAGA Republicans -- no, I mean this. I'm being sincere.

Every one of the things that Jim mentioned saves the American taxpayer billions of dollars. You realize if you have a prescription drug from any

major drug company in America, I can take you to Toronto, Canada, London, Rome, any major capital in the world and buy the same exact drug for

sometimes half the price that you get here.

Look, folks. When the federal government, through Medicare, doesn't have to pay out as much money, it means taxpayers pay less money. Because you fund

the federal government. You fund Medicare. Go down every one of these things. So, they always confuse me. They talk about being rational. It's

just about excess profit.

But anyway, I don't want to get off on that. I'll get carried away. I don't quite get these guys. Thank you, Jim, for your friendship and, above all,

for your fellowship. And, Bishop Green, thank you for those kind words. I mean that sincerely. And thank you, Reverend Manning, for, you know, the

Shepherd of this House to allow me to stand in this podium once again. And to all the faithful of Mother Emanuel and distinguished guests.

I was talking downstairs. I've spent more time in the Bethlehem Church in Wilmington, Delaware than I have than most people I know, black or white,

have spent in that church. Because that's why I started - no, I'm serious. I started civil rights movement. I used to go to 7:30 mass, then I'd go to

10 o'clock service with the Reverend who was then running the church, who's now the bishop.


She's a bishop and I'm told your bishop had been there before in South Africa. That's where he is right now. The point is that I've been blessed

to worship here before, as well. You know, it's at moments of joy and great joy, and moments of great pain, moments of unbearable loss.

On June 17, 2015, the beautiful souls, five survivors and five survivors, invited a stranger into this church to pray with them. The word of God was

pierced by bullets and hate and rage, propelled by not just gun powder, but by a poison -- a poison that has for too long haunted this nation. What is

that poison? White supremacy. Oh, it is. It's a poison.

Throughout our history, it's ripped this nation apart. It has no place in America. Not today, tomorrow, or ever. From that day, this nation saw this

congregation, this community -- demonstrate one of the greatest acts of strength I have ever seen. The act of forgiveness. The act of grace.

It was as President Obama sang from here, amazing grace. It changed hearts. You did something that may not have happened but for your courage. You

brought down the Confederate flag in South Carolina. You brought it down. No, you did. And you helped the nation heal. You showed what America can

overcome, what we can be when we want to be something.

I'm deeply humbled to speak from this same pulpit my friend, and he was a friend, Reverend Pincney spoke from. We all miss him, none more than his

family and this congregation. But just as all the families of the Emanuel Nine miss the pieces of their soul that they lost that day, we also have

been together at moments of unbearable loss for my family.

Two days after the service of Reverend Pincney, my son and I -- my surviving son and I came back. My family worshiped with you. Here's

Sunday's service to show our solidarity. But my family also needed to be healed. We didn't even realize how badly.

Just 22 days before we had buried my son, Bo, a veteran who exposed and died because of those burn pits in Iraq for a year. We were -- we were more

pain than we knew. We came here to offer comfort. I received comfort from you. No, I'm serious.

As I listened in the pews, spent time with the families, visited Reverend Pincney's office, visited the memorial for the victims outside, I grew

stronger. My son, my family grew stronger. We prayed together. We grieved together. We found hope together for real -- for real.

And it reminds me that through our pain, each of us, each of us must find purpose. For me, that purpose is to live a life worthy of my son Bo. And I

mean it sincerely. For you, that purpose is for the lives worthy of loved ones lost to make them proud.

So, many of you were there for us during that loss, including my dear friend Jim and Emily. Miss Emily, I miss people of deep faith. Jim, a great

public servant, the best friend you could ever have. Jim, I'm thinking Emily today. We've talked about it downstairs a little bit. I know you do

every single solitary day. She was special, and that bond you share was something to behold.

As many of you know, Jim is a teacher and a student of history. He knows the power of history. He knows the power of truth and the power of lies. He

knows what happens when people are allowed to whitewash history, erase history, bury history. He knows what the Bible teaches. We shall know the

truth and the truth shall set us free.


But the truth -- the truth is under assault in America. As a consequence, so is our freedom, our democracy, our very country, because without the

truth, there's no light. Without light there's no path from this darkness.

UNKNOWN: If you really care about the lives lost here, then you should honor the lives lost and call for a ceasefire in Palestine. Ceasefire now.

Ceasefire now.

BIDEN: That's all right. That's alright.


Four more years. Four more years.

BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you. I understand -- I understand their passion and I've been quietly working -- been quietly working with the Israeli

government to get them to reduce and significantly get out of Gaza. I'm using all that I can do. But I understand the passion. Look, folks, after

the Civil --

UNKNOWN: You are an understanding person. They don't realize that. You're a good man.

BIDEN: Thank you. Thank you. Look, after the Civil War, the defeated Confederates couldn't accept the verdict of the war they had lost. So, they

say, they embraced what's known as the lost cause, a self-serving lie that the Civil War is not about slavery, but about states' rights. They've

called that the noble cause. That was a lie -- a lie that had not just a lie but had terrible consequences. It brought on Jim Crow.

So, let me be clear for those who don't seem to know, slavery was the cause of the Civil War. There's no negotiation about that. Now, now we're living

in an era of a second lost cause. Once again, there are some in this country trying to turn a loss into a lie --a lie which if allowed to live

will once again bring terrible damage to this country.

This time, the lie is about the 2020 election, the election which you made, your voices heard, and your power known. Just two days ago, we mark the

third anniversary of the dark, one of the darkest days in American history, January the 6th.The day which this insurrection has stormed the United

States Capitol, trying for the first time in American history to stop the peaceful transfer of power in the country.

We all saw with our own eyes the truth of what happened. That violent mob was whipped up by lies from a defeated former president, smashing windows,

smearing blood on statues, ransacking offices. Outside, insurrectionists erected gallows chanting, "Hang Mike Pence". Inside, they hunted for Nancy

Pelosi, chanting, "Where's Nancy?"

We saw something on January 6th we'd never seen before, even during the Civil War. Insurrectionists waving Confederate flags inside the halls of

Congress built by enslaved Americans. A mob attacked and called black officers, black veterans, defending the nation, those vile of racist names.

And yet, an extreme movement in America, the MAGA Republicans, led by a defeated president, is trying to steal history now. They tried to steal an

election, now they're trying to steal history, telling us that violent mob was, and I quote, "a peaceful protest".

That insurrection, those insurrectionists were, is his words, patriots. That there was, quote, a lot of love that day. In fact, the rest of the

nation and the world saw a lot of hate and violence.


For hours, the defeated former president sat in a private dining room off of the Oval Office and did nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing. His

actions were among the worst derelictions of duty by any President in American history. An attempt --an attempt to overturn a free and fair

election by force and violence.

Let me say what others cannot. We must reject political violence in America. Always, not sometimes, always. It's never appropriate. The

violence of January 6th was an extension of an old playbook from the threats and violence and intimidation. In Atlanta, Georgia, two brave black

women, mother and daughter, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.

They had their lives upended just doing their jobs, menacing calls, death threats, forcing them to literally flee their homes. Those pushing the big

lie have a conspiracy theory among conspiracy theories that outweighs them all. That there's what, but here's the fact. There's where we don't have

facts. Their whole theory has no facts, has no proof, has no evidence.

That's why, tell me again, they lost in every court of law that challenged results, 60 losses in courts of America. There's one thing they don't have.

They don't have respect for the 81 million people who voted the other way, voted for my candidacy. And voted to end the presidency.

In their world, these Americans, including you, don't count. But that's not the real world. That's not democracy. That's not America. In America, we

all count. In America, we witness to serve all those who, in fact, participate. And losers are taught to concede when they lose. And he's a


Then we all came together to put the country before ourselves. The lies that led to January 6th are part of a broader attack on the truth of

America today that we all have seen before. The same movement that throughout the mob of the United States capitalism is just trying to

rewrite history, January 6th, they're trying to determine to erase history and your future. Banning books, denying your right to vote and have it

counted, destroying diversity, equality, inclusion all across America, harboring hate and replacing hope with anger and resentment and dangerous

view of America.

That narrow view of America, zero-sum view of America that says, if you win, I lose. If you succeed, it must be I fail. If you get ahead, I fall

behind. And maybe worst of all, if I hold you down, I lift myself up. That's not new in America. Every stride forward has often been met with

ferocious backlashes from those who fear the progress, from those who exploit that fear for their own personal gain, from those who traffic in

lies, toll for profit and power.

But here in Charleston, you know the power of truth. Less than a mile from here was once a port where almost half of all enslaved Africans were

trafficked to North America and forced on our shores. And now you have a world-class museum there to tell the truth about the original sin.

I want to thank former mayor Jim Riley for his leadership who saw to it the museum was built, and for all of you who made that happen. And with your

help, I made Juneteenth the first federal holiday since Dr. Martin Luther King's Day. Why? Because the truth matters. The truth matters.

With your help, we established the National Monument in honor of Mamie and Emmett Till. Because we heard Mrs. Till's call, the mother of a 14-year-old

son who was lynched and whose body was mutilated. But the mother insisted on an open cast of this journal because she said, let the world see what I

saw. The truth matters.