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Jim Jordan Falls Short In Speaker Bid; Uncertainty Grips House Republicans; Gaza Hospital Hit In Apparent War Crime As Israel-Gaza Conflict Intensifies; House Dysfunctional Amid Global Crisis. Aired 2- 2:30p ET

Aired October 17, 2023 - 14:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Well, I guess my first question is, do you really want Tom Emmer to be Speaker?

REP. KEN BUCK (R): No, I don't. I don't like Tom Emmer. I figured this would be the worst job in America. Mike Rowe would not want to do this for his TV show. This is a terrible job.

BASH: Okay, so just to underscore that, you voted for somebody because you don't like them.

BUCK: I voted for somebody because I wasn't going to vote for Jim Jordan.

BASH: Yeah, but you don't, it's not because you want him to be Speaker. Okay, well, that says a lot about where we are right now. Let's look at what's next. I should just say, so our viewers know, that you were one of the eight who voted to vacate.

BUCK: Vacate

BASH: and kick Kevin McCarthy out of the Speaker's chair. You just heard Congressman Jimenez talking to Jake, saying that he does want McCarthy back. Is there any chance that you will have a change of heart?

BUCK: I'm not going to vote for Kevin McCarthy. As Carlos also said, we have 220 members, 221 members. We're going to find somebody to agree to and move forward, even if it's for a temporary basis, but we will find somebody so that we can get our work done.

BASH: What happens now?

BUCK: Yeah, well, right now, folks are going to go into conference. There's going to be a lot of yelling and screaming. I will go into conference after they, nerves settle down a little bit. And I think we get, we come up with either the 30-day plan, or Jim wants to go back to the floor for a second vote. If we get a second vote, Jim is going to lose some votes that he got on the first vote, and he's going to gain some votes. But I anticipate that the vote will still be in that 15 to 25 range.

BASH: Was the 20 votes effectively against Jim Jordan a surprise to you?

BUCK: No, no, it wasn't a surprise to me. I was surprised at some of the whip counts that were floating around on social media had it down to six or seven. I think that was just wishful thinking on some of the staffers parts. This is a, there is a group of people on really widespread across the conference that do not want to see Jim Jordan as speaker.

BASH: Well, yeah, when this happened with Kevin McCarthy, and he eventually did get the votes back in January, the people he was trying to convince were mostly from the Trump wing. I think it's probably, I know that's generalizing, but it's not the kind of people that Jim Jordan is trying to lobby right now, which are largely the moderates present company excluded. What does he have to do? Talk about the challenges and the desires and the pressure points that he's under. I know for you in particular, it's multiple issues, right? It's spending, it's about Ukraine, it's also about election denialism.

BUCK: Absolutely, yeah, I had a nice 30, 40-minute conversation with Jim last night. It is not personal, I have a lot of respect for Jim, and we both have sort of risen in the conservative movement and share many of the values of the conservative movement. I think that what Jim Jordan needs to do is to stop talking about defunding the Department of Justice. We pride ourselves on being a party of the rule of law.

You can't defund the Department of Justice or defund a special counsel's office in the Department of Justice and talk about the value that we share. So, there are a number of different issues related to the election and some not related to the election.

BASH: You are a hard no? I mean, is there anything that he can do, anything that he can promise, any change that he can make to get your vote?

BUCK: I will not vote for Jim Jordan.

BASH: No way?

BUCK: Yeah, no way.

BASH: Okay. And you talked about the 30-day plan. If Jim Jordan decides that he, either he decides he's gonna go back and do a second vote, even a third vote, and doesn't ever get the votes, the idea that you're talking about here is to give Patrick McHenry, who is the temporary speaker right now, more power?

BUCK: So, he's a temporary speaker without any powers. He cannot bring a bill to the floor and pass a bill. So, it would be to make him a speaker with full power for a limited period of time so that we can go into conference and find a speaker and at the same time run the House the way the House should be run. I frankly think it would be a bipartisan vote to make something like that happen.

BASH: You think so?

BUCK: I do. BASH: You think Democrats would support that?

BUCK: I do, and I think, while Patrick has said that he is not interested, he evidently had some calls about, would you vote for, run for speaker and we would support you, he's not interested in a coalition government, but I think it would send a very strong message to America and the world if both parties came together for a 30-day speaker.

BASH: Well, you just mentioned sending a message to the party and the world. What message do you think that they're getting right now? Two weeks in, no speaker, the Middle East is on fire, Ukraine is a problem, there's talk of, that's not even to mention, China and other issues globally.

BUCK: What do I think the message is?

BASH: What the message is, yeah.

BUCK: Yeah, I think the message is quite plain and simple, that the House is not running right now. I think that the fact that we have not received a supplemental request from the White House I think the message is quite plain and simple, that the House is not running right now. I think that the fact that we have not received a supplemental request from the White House at this point means there is not an emergency. It's urgent, it's important, and we will get it done. But I don't think anybody in the world looks at our House or Parliament or any other legislative body and expects to see everything neat and tidy.


BASH: This is not neat and tidy.

BUCK: Well, this is far from neat and tidy. I think it is chaos, but if it wasn't, I'd be more concerned about our democracy.

BASH: Congressman Ken Buck, thank you so much, appreciate it. Jake, back to you.

JAKE TAPPER: CNN HOST: Thanks, Dana. Let's go to a major story developing right now in Gaza, what the Palestinian government is calling a war crime. The government in Gaza says the Israeli Defense Forces struck a hospital in the centre of Gaza City, Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital. Preliminary estimates from the government in Gaza put the number of killed in the strike somewhere between 200 and 300. We expect there are many more innocent people still trapped under the rubble. The IDF says they're looking into reports of the incident and remains unclear to them right now, they say, if the hospital was struck by Israeli warplanes or by a failed Hamas rocket launch. Let's go straight to CNN's Clarissa Ward, who is in Israel, in the town of Ashkelon. Clarissa.

CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake, we have heard nonstop sirens basically for the last few hours that in response to this horrifying strike on this Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital, that is a hospital in Gaza City that is in the northern part of the enclave. Thousands of people were taking shelter there from the continued violence. Many people were being treated there. Some of them couldn't be moved despite evacuation orders that have been in place. And as you mentioned, we are hearing initial estimates of at least two to three hundred people killed in that strike and many, many, many more feared dead.

Now, Hamas is calling this a genocide. Hamas has vowed to avenge it. As I mentioned before, I'm wearing my body armor again because we have had a series of sirens and rockets coming into not just here where I am in Ashkelon, but in other parts of Israel as well. But certainly, a dramatic and horrific intensification of violence, Jake, right on the eve of President Biden's visit here. Not clear where this goes from here. You mentioned IDF said that they are looking into the incident, that it could potentially have been a Hamas misfire, if you like, of a rocket. We've had a look at a couple of videos that we're not ready to share online yet, but certainly it looked like an enormous blast. Hard to see how that would have been a misfire rocket. But certainly, we are waiting to get more clarity on this and fearing that it's going to be a very long night ahead with many more rockets and much more violence in the wake of this awful strike. Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Thank you so much, Clarissa. Let's bring in Anderson Cooper, who I believe is in Tel Aviv with the latest, Anderson.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jake, yeah, we are just hearing more about this, as you've been hearing from Clarissa. I don't have much more information than what she has said. The spokesperson for the IDF, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari has said that the IDF is looking into what happened. Obviously, you've heard the statement that Hamas has made, calling it a genocide, calling for other nations. Let me give you the exact wording. I'm not going to read the full statement. It says the international community, Arab and Islamic countries must bear the responsibility and intervene immediately now and not tomorrow to stop the aggression and the fascist army of the occupation and hold them accountable.

So, obviously more remains to be seen. Some sort of an explosion at this hospital, according, the death toll is high, hundreds killed according to Hamas officials on the ground. What we have seen certainly in the past is either an Israeli strike or an accidental strike, intentional or accidental, or a Hamas rocket launch that then falls short and lands killing civilians, which we have also seen in past conflicts. So, at this point it is still very early. We're trying to gain more information on the ground, Jake.

TAPPER: Yeah, no, I mean, this is always a very difficult situation because right now we have reports of hundreds killed and there's no reason to doubt that. But we don't know what caused it. We don't know who caused it. We don't know the situation under which this happened. And we're trying to bring the best information we can under the worst circumstances there are. So, we will bring that as we can. Obviously reporting from Gaza is all but impossible right now for for most most news organizations because it is under constant bombardment.


COOPER: That's right and -- and look you know there are many examples of Hamas rockets firing, falling short, killing civilians that then gets blamed on Israel. There are also many examples of you know of civilian deaths caused directly by Israel there's no doubt about it. The bombings that we have seen in Gaza have been at a level that we have not seen certainly in all the time that I've been covering the conflict here going back into the 90s. So again, we don't have the information on the ground. It remains to be seen exactly what occurred but it seems a huge civilian loss of life as a huge loss of life in this hospital. Hundreds according to Hamas officials and again trying to gather more information.

TAPPER: Yeah, absolutely let's go to Clarissa Ward. Clarissa, tell us about the location of this place Gaza City the Al-Mamadani Hospital in Gaza.

WARD: So, it's - it's the Al-Ahli Baptist Hospital. Mamadani just means Baptist. It's right in Gaza City. This is in the northern part of Gaza, right Jake. This is the area that Israeli forces had urged Gazans living in to evacuate and we have seen over the course of the last few days according to the UN some 600,000 people in the north of Gaza move into the south. Now today what happened is that there were a number of strikes in the south in Khan Yunis, also in Rafah which is right by the border crossing with Egypt and what that did for many people is who were in the north who were planning or trying to get to the south it made them basically stop, right. Because they were scared that it isn't safe in the south, they were also concerned about the dire humanitarian situation in the south and so a lot of people who we've been speaking to today are just too afraid to leave their homes and many of them are living in shelters.

It appears that in this Al-Ahli hospital you had a lot of families who were basically sheltering who had been displaced from their homes or who were fearful that their homes were in potentially dangerous places, and this is something you see a lot in Gaza people flock to hotels, hospitals, any foundation that they basically think will be a safe place. We don't know exactly how many people were there. There is you know obviously a lot of numbers coming in and what Anderson has said is true. It is very difficult to determine, especially in the early hours, after an event like this what exactly is happening.

It is particularly difficult when there's no electricity, when there's limited fuel, food, things of that nature and it's a very chaotic situation on top of it so even with regards to knowing precisely how many people were killed, is that estimate based on how many people were in the building? Is it based on how many people have actually been identified? These are questions that we will be asking, and we will just be getting answers to in the coming hours going forward Jake.

COOPER: Yeah, and Clarissa, it's Anderson in Tel Aviv. Let's talk a little bit about the situation in the south of Gaza because we have seen hundreds of thousands of residents of Gaza City and elsewhere in the north moving further south. Heating warnings by the IDF which took place several days ago they'd given a 24-hour warning. That sort of time limit has certainly passed but we have seen continued flow of people down into the south but the situation as you've mentioned for them is very precarious still in the south. There are still airstrikes going on in the south. It's not as if that is not a zone in which there are not still areas being targeted correct?

WARD: Well and I think that's a big part of the problem Anderson because if you're trying to kind of market the south as a place of refuge where people should evacuate to but there are continued strikes and there is no aid coming in. You're essentially taking away people's incentive to try and move to the south. As I mentioned the UN said 600,000 have already moved. I mean to give our viewers some perspective I think the population of Oakland California is roughly 400,000. That is a huge amount of people in a very tiny area. The UN has said that they're completely overwhelmed at this stage that all the shops in Gaza have enough food for maybe four or five days. The hospitals now have said that they are no longer able to operate effectively.


We have heard from doctors who say that they are performing operations with no painkillers they are running out of drugs. The water is such a critical issue Anderson. There's no water. We are again hearing reports from our own producer on the of people taking water from the toilets and boiling it so that they can give it to their families. This is clearly not a sustainable situation and yet here we are 10 days in and there is no consensus yet on trying to open that Rafah border crossing to allow the free passage of aid. The Egyptians are blaming the Israelis and saying it's because of the strikes. The Israelis are blaming Hamas. Hamas is blaming Israel and, in the meantime, as is so often the case hundreds of thousands of civilians are suffering in absolutely dire situation and perhaps more importantly as well, it is stopping the flow of people out of northern Gaza because they see what's happening in the south.

They see that it's not safe, they see that there is no respite for them there, and so they are choosing to stay in their homes which then leads you to a situation where you have more high-casualty catastrophic events possibly like the one we have seen take place at the Al-Ahli hospital.

COOPER: And Clarissa, the situation for Americans who had been told days ago to go down to the south to hang out. Go as close as possible to the Rafah border crossing, if in case and when it opens up. It's quite remarkable that we're now more than a week into this and there are still hundreds of Americans trapped in Gaza.

WARD: So, by the U.S. Embassy in Cairo's count, they are in touch with 253 Americans who are desperately trying to get out of Gaza and I think you can be assured that the numbers probably even higher than that. CNN has spoken to some of them they have been pleading and imploring anyone who will listen to help them try to get out. And as you point out again the problem is that many are heading down to areas like Rafah, right near the border crossing to try to be in place to leave as soon as there is an opportunity and this morning you had a series of strikes there. And so, that only contributes to even more chaos even more confusion even more fear Americans say that they've been trying to get more information on where they should go, when they might be able to cross? We know Anderson, of course, that the flurry of diplomatic activity has been intensive behind the scenes. Secretary of State Antony Blinken flying around the region sitting down with everyone trying to build consensus around the establishment of some kind of a humanitarian corridor. Yesterday coming out after his 7-plus hours meeting with the Israeli war cabinet and saying that attentive plan have been agreed upon to basically construct some kind of a humanitarian zone in the south.

But then you look at the events of today, you look at the crippling paralysis of the international community to resolve this issue. And you have to wonder Anderson, when realistically such a humanitarian zone could possibly be constructed and under what sort of circumstances Anderson.

COOPER: And just to sum up -- Hamas officials in Gaza saying 200 to 300 people have died in a strike on a Gaza hospital. They're blaming Israel. Israel has said that they are looking into what occurred raising questions about whether it was in fact some sort of potential Israeli strike errant, Israeli strike or something to do with Hamas error in a rocket being fired out in a shortfall of the rocket which we've seen the past week. We cannot say for sure what exactly has caused this but according to officials, Hamas officials policy and health officials on the ground, 200 -300 people believed to be dead at this stage that we're just learning about. Will gather more information, bring it to you when we can Jake.

TAPPER: Thanks, Anderson Cooper. Appreciated. Anderson Cooper in Tel Aviv and Clarissa Ward in Ashkelon. We will do more reporting on the ground in Gaza and in Israel and report back to you when we know more. In the meantime, let us turn back the big story here in Washington DC. The race for a speaker as you may recall. Jim Jordan challenged his fellow republicans to vote. He came up short Getting only 200 votes, when he needed 217. Let's go back to Manu Raju on Capitol Hill who has the latest. Manu, my understanding is that Congressman Jordan is going to push for a second ballot and pressuring people who voted against him, to vote for him. What -- what's the latest?


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: I'm told by multiple republicans that Jim Jordan is in fact meeting privately with some of those holdouts right now. Trying to allay their concerns trying to convince them to vote for him or vote present which could change the threshold and can make it easier for him to be elected speaker. Those conversations are ongoing. But Jake I've talked to several republicans in the hallway here who voted against him adjust moments ago and they're making clear that they don't plan to vote for him on the second ballot as well. One Congressman John Rutherford just talked to a colleague Sam Fossum. He said I am where I am. He said I'm not going to change his position.

The same with Mario Diaz Bilart who's a Florida republican, who voted for Steve Scalise. He also is indicating that he is not moving off his opposition. Carlos Gimenez who you spoke with also indicating that he's not -- gonna move from supporting Kevin McCarthy. That it right there. Just 3 votes there. There are more that are expected to vote against Kevin, Kevin, Jim Jordan on the second ballot as well. There was some positive news from Jim Jordan. One congressman Doug LaMalfa who did not vote for Jordan on that first ballot indicated he would on the second ballot.

So, maybe move some movement in direction but not enough movement. So, there's just a lot of questions about the timing of everything. I've talked to a bunch of republicans they're not sure if there's gonna be a conference-wide meeting or if they will go to a second ballot. They've just closed the doors of the house chamber so don't expect a second ballot to happen imminently. Even if it does happen at some point, it may not happen for some time later today but Jordan is still working behind the scenes. Trying to convince members to come his way but this number, this margin, 20 republicans voting against him. That is much worse than they anticipated.

They thought they were within striking distance Jordan allies even thought they were within 10 votes of the speakership they thought they were better than -- McCarthy did in January when he lost 19 republicans on that first ballot. Twenty republicans is a significant deficit for him to make up but they're still trying to push ahead. Still planning at the moment to have that second ballot election and he still has some support from his allies including Kevin McCarthy himself who told me Jordan should not drop out at this point.

So, Jake a lot of questions as Jordan tries to get the votes convince his members to come along and decide when to pull the trigger for that second ballot but at the moment he doesn't have the votes to be elected speaker.

TAPPR: All right Manu Raju, thank you so much. Kasie Hunt let start with you here in studio and then I want to bring in a former congressman Rodney Davis. He's gonna push forward, I'm sure he'll be able to pick up a couple votes but once again I -- I do think it's pretty clear and I don't mean this to sound harsh but it's just a mess.



HUNT: Nope.

TAPPER: -- if you don't have the vote. I mean this -- we have not seen this before

HUNT: Nope.

TAPPER: -- because normally the person who was going to be the leader of the party has the votes lined up long before they call the vote and you don't see this sloppiness. HUNT: Yeah. It's -- I'm glad that you sort of hit on the -- the big picture historic nature of what we're seeing because this is now two weeks without a speaker, second in line to the presidency of the United States. Two wars as you've noted and no one able to send any American money to help despite the fact we're sending the U.S. president Israel tomorrow to address it and republicans cannot get on the same page. And honestly it's the end of a story that we have been covering in slow motion for the last five years or honestly 10 years since the tea party first came to Washington 13 years in 2010.

You know this is something where there is now a faction of the electorate that is voting for chaos and these members, there is an incentive system that is set up for them inside the conservative media that makes it, you know, impossible for a certain set of them to oppose that MEGA base and then you have a handful still the ones that make up the majority who are in districts where their voters actually want them to govern and they cannot find common ground. I mean Jake, you've -- how many times have you said this in this afternoon? Right now how do you find common ground on who won the election, who didn't, right? It's like this or that. It's not in the middle.

TAPPER: Former Congressman Davis what's going on with your party? That -- I mean, this is just aberrant behaviour, this is not this is not normal. You know, I mean they should just be able to be -- I mean what's wrong with Tom Emmer? What's wrong with Steve Womack? What's wrong with Tom Cole? These are all conservative republicans that should just be able to like -- I mean if you can't if you can rally around Kevin McCarthy just pick one of these guys.

RODNEY DAVIS, FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE: well look this started a few months ago when i was with you through 15 rounds of votes and really what you're seeing is people within the republican party within the republican conference in the house have decided enough's enough. They watched 8 individuals decide to take down Kevin McCarthy and I actually right now Jake, I think Jim Jordan's making a tactical error in trying to talk to these -- these no votes one-on-one. He needs to get every member of that House Republican conference into the room because his best supporter and his best sales pitch is coming from the guy in the room everybody stands up and listens to when he gets to the microphone.


And that's Kevin McCarthy and other supporters like Patrick McHenry. He needs to use them to try and get these no votes to change. And if he doesn't do that, I don't know how he's going to get any more votes in the second round and may lose a few more.

TAPPER: All right, Congressman Rodney Davis, thanks so much. This hour, we're closely following two major stories, uncertainty in the House after Republicans say no to yet another speaker candidate. This time it's Jim Jordan. And in Israel, what the government in Gaza is calling a war crime, a hospital devastated with the number killed believed to be in the hundreds. We'll have more breaking news after this.


TAPPER: Welcome back. We're following two major stories here, neither of them particularly comforting. Here in the United States, a House divided again amidst continued House Republican divisions. Congressman Jim Jordan tried and failed to secure the speakership on the first ballot. We'll have more on that in a few minutes.