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U.S. Currently Assesses Israel "Not Responsible" For Hospital Blast; Soon: House To Take Second Speaker Vote; Right Now: Nominating Speeches For Second Speaker Vote. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired October 18, 2023 - 11:30   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: President Biden, based on this misinformation from the Palestinian health authority, which as you know, is controlled by Hamas.

LT. COL. PETER LERNER, IDF SPOKESMAN: Yes. I mean, there are no differences from the North Korean Ministry of Health. This is precisely the problem when we are listening to what Hamas is saying. No matter how we feel about the tragedy that is happening to the people, taking any sort of information from Hamas is just part of their propaganda campaign.

When they distribute a video of Mia Schem, who was abducted in anticipation to try and share a humane perspective of Hamas, they're actually engaging in psychological warfare and psychological terrorism. So, this is just where they come from. That is what they're trying to do.

And we need to be very, very cautious about accepting anything they say. And I would -- you know, and I would say, there should not be a source of relevance for anybody in these crazy times. And we are taking our operation, and we are moving and now in day 12 now. At the end of day 12 here, we are moving forward and continuing to strike Hamas wherever they are. And it is a very, very challenging military operation.

TAPPER: Lieutenant Colonel Lerner, just one last question on the Rafah Crossing. Obviously, there has been a huge diplomatic effort to try to get people out, especially people -- Palestinian-Americans out of the Rafah -- out of Gaza through the Rafah crossing, and tried to get humanitarian supplies in from Egypt, through the Rafah Crossing. Has -- have there been any advances, any progress made in those efforts?

LERNER: I'm sorry, I was just getting information on a report that there are more rocket fires towards the center of Israel. I'm sorry for that. Regarding Rafah, I can't confirm that there's been any progress to my knowledge.

I know that diplomats are continuing to negotiate. You know the warriors, the war -- the warfighters are continuing in their operation to destroy Hamas. And the diplomats are doing theirs -- their job is diplomacy to try and find the right method of engaging on the issue of humanitarian efforts. Our role currently as the IDF is to try and differentiate between the civilian population and the non-combatants and the terrorist organization. That is what we're doing by engaging people. Telling them to get out of harm's way.

Move -- the Palestinians need to get out, need to listen to our instructions. That is what we're doing. We created -- today, we established a humanitarian zone in the Southwest of the Gaza Strip at Al-Mawasi and -- in order to try and create some confidence in the people. Of course, it's a very -- the area -- the south -- Southern Gaza Strip today is, of course, under stress because there was a huge influx of people into the Gaza -- into Southern Gaza.


LERNER: But from our perspective, we need to differentiate from the civilian population, contrary to what Hamas is doing trying to exasperate, and include civilians in -- on both sides of this conflict into casualties and fatalities. Now, there are 200 -- almost 200 Israelis being held hostage now by Hamas, and I would say there are two million Palestinians being held hostage by Hamas.

TAPPER: Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, thank you so much for your time today. I want to bring in our chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour. Christiane, President Biden spoke passionately in support of Israel in the last hour. What was your reaction to his comments in Tel Aviv?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, clearly, he went to support Israel. And he did speak very passionately, very personally, and anecdotally about the specific pain that these victims and their families and including the families of hostages, including the hostages. Made sure that everybody understood that also, 31 Americans had been killed, and some were being held hostage. He also did say that this idea which he was -- you know people in the region, certainly the Palestinians hope that he would be able to unlock the humanitarian blockade.

And this is a major problem. You've just been talking about it with the IDF spokesman. And we're going to be talking with the head of the UN operations in about an hour on my program. But this is a huge, huge issue.

And he did say, the president, that he had got some kind of commitment from the Netanyahu government that they would be working on it. But you heard the spokesman say nothing, as far as he knows, has been wrapped up. But this is something that was the very least of what people in the region expected him to be able to take away given that he was, you know, unable to meet with the Arab leaders because they canceled on him.

And that you know, is pretty unprecedented. You don't cancel on an American president ever until today. And so, the situation is massively charged and we are waiting to see in fact where it goes from here.

TAPPER: Yes. You call this visit an unmitigated disaster.


AMANPOUR: Well, actually, I didn't say that. I said it was an unmitigated disaster that he was walking into --


AMANPOUR: -- because of all that was around it. And the -- what was around it as he landed was the attack, the crisis the hit, the explosion on the hospital. Now, the U.S. itself says it has independent confirmation that it was a Palestinian Islamic Jihad misfired rocket, as the Israelis have. I think they've -- they base their opinion, their intelligence on the intercepts that the Israelis have made public.

And, of course, it's a disaster by any stretch of the imagination not to be able to meet face-to-face with leaders who matter. These are leaders who are not just allies of the United States, but of Israel, Jordan, Egypt, the Palestinian Authority President, how to try to figure out a way out of this, which there doesn't seem to be any effort to de-escalate, no room for it, no mood for it.

But what is the -- is the next step? What is the next phase? And we even heard from the Egyptians that they hoped that the president, Biden, in consultation could somehow you know hold out some kind of proposal or proposition that at the end of this, there is some kind of long-term solution to the big context of this, which is the ongoing unresolved issue between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

TAPPER: Yes. And if -- do you think that the -- that the leaders -- these Arab leaders canceled their trip because of what happened at the hospital in Gaza? And if --


TAPPER: You do? And if it is true that the Israelis were not responsible, then what does that say of the -- of the willingness of these Arab leaders to just automatically believe whatever the Palestinians say, even if what they're saying isn't accurate?

AMANPOUR: So, this is a really important conundrum. First and foremost, we know that it is because of that. Because the Jordanian ambassador to Washington last night basically said this is not the moment. And the Palestinian President said he could not go -- Mahmoud Abbas to any such meeting under these circumstances.

Now, the issue is, as you said, no matter what the Israelis say, and now what the U.S. says in the --in the beginning before there was any "investigate -- well, there was an investigation, and they came to their conclusions." It ignited the Arab world because this --


AMANPOUR: They've seen so many times. And because -- and I'm sorry to say this because in the past, the Israeli IDF has not been honest about what actually happened. Look at Shireen Abu Akleh.

I know that we keep talking about it, but it's one of the most recent denials, they accused Palestinian militants, and then finally they apologized for it and admitted that they might have done it. The same with deaths in Gaza recently, the same with the killing of an unarmed teenager on the West Bank, who they say was on. All of this stuff leads to a distrust in that world.

So, you know, this issue now the U.S. seems to have been confirmed. But before that and potentially, in what happens next, the tendency is for rage on the street when you can see Gaza which is full of civilians being essentially carpet bomb despite what the Israelis say and urge to you know try to make a difference between militants, terrorists, and civilians.

TAPPER: All right. Christiane Amanpour, thank you so much. Much more from Israel throughout this hour. But in Washington, we're about to find out just how much can or cannot change in 24 hours. Soon, Republican Congressman Jim Jordan will try again to secure the speaker's gavel. More special live coverage. Next.



DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: You are looking live at the House floor. Soon, we are going to see nominating speeches for the Speaker of the House. Jim Jordan still wants the gavel, ask his allies though, and they will say that they're split on whether he can actually muster enough votes to get that gavel. And they are divided on how long the Ohio Republican should keep trying to win it.

I want to go straight to Manu Raju who has been talking to members including one who had the gavel but was dethroned. That, of course, is Kevin McCarthy. What did he tell you, Manu?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, he's still very much angry at the members who voted him out from the speakership. Those eight Republicans were led by Congressman Matt Gaetz. Criticizing Gaetz in particular for fundraising off of everything that went down here.

And also, not saying explicitly about whether he would support the idea of approved -- voting for a resolution to empower the in-term speaker, Patrick McHenry, to oversee legislative business. That idea is now picking up steam. McCarthy suggests that McHenry has the power himself to do just that without the House -- the House taking action. But indicating that he still supports Jim Jordan for speaker even as he took a swipe at his critics.


REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): Think of the challenge of why we're here. Every single Democrat with the Crazy Eights who are led by Gaetz, put us in this mess. And then he was fundraising last night off of this. It was the Democrats who ran to the polls to make an argument right afterwards that this person would have no power. They want total chaos. I think that's wrong. I think you shouldn't have to do a resolution that McHenry can carry this on, as we elect Jim Jordan as our speaker.



RAJU: So, indicating there that he does -- not saying one way or the other if he will vote for that resolution to empower Patrick McHenry. But that seems where this could very well be heading. We expect this vote on the House floor, Jim Jordan to fail, falls short of the 217 votes he needs to be elected Speaker, potentially losing more than the 20 Republicans that he lost yesterday.

Jordan is indicating he could potentially go to a third ballot. Then we expect even more Republicans to vote against him if that were to happen. And then, Dana, what does Jim Jordan do? Does he step aside?

Jordan told us just a few moments ago earlier that he believes the House should vote on the idea of electing an interim speaker, Patrick McHenry, to put that question to a test within the GOP and the Democrats in the House. The question is that -- is that -- will -- where they will end up, or will a new candidate emerge if Jordan decides to withdraw? Dana.

BASH: Manu, thank you so much. And as you were talking to me, I was just told that our colleague Annie Grayer has spotted Jim Jordan and Patrick McHenry having a conversation on the House floor. Boy, we wish we had those cameras from before Kevin McCarthy was made speaker so we could really get a sense, and maybe do some lip-reading.

Here with me now to talk about all of this is Scott Jennings and Ashley Allison. Scott, I just want to kind of take a step back because if you're not familiar -- sort of almost intimately familiar with the ecosystem, not just of the Congress, but specifically of the House Republican Conference, you might be sort of scratching your head and asking what is going on even more than the people who are actually part of that conference.

And when I say that what I mean is that there has -- ever since I've been covering Congress, which has been a couple of decades, it's grown even more to the point which I'm going to make, which is that they have to get things out of their system, they have to get to the point where they see no other road. But the obvious road that all of us are seeing, which is at this point, Jim Jordan doesn't look like he's going to be speaker, and that perhaps the guy who actually has the gavel temporarily, Patrick McHenry, should have it. Can you -- can you talk about that, and why that isn't happening like this if that seems to be where this is headed?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: What's not in their nature, and I say their, it's not in the nature of the conservative wing of the conference to give up, you know. Their whole brand is, let's fight, let's fight about everything. And even when we've gotten fewer votes, let's keep fighting and keep trying to deny the reality. And what you wind up with is just another episode of monkeys getting amorous with football starring the House Republicans. And until you get tired of that show, you know, which is I think coming soon based on what I'm hearing, you're going to have to continue to go through this chaos.

This Patrick McHenry business is fascinating. He is one of McCarthy's top guys. He helped him get the speakership. And if this whole thing winds up with him as being named assistant to the regional manager, whatever title they're going to give him here, which is not in the Constitution, this will be like the biggest circle of jerks in the history of circles are jerks. I mean -- I mean, to have McCarthy's guy back in as a temporary speaker.

And if you're a conservative and you have followed Jim Jordan, you follow these guys in you -- and you want them to be right, remember, you're the mark here. There was no plan. They had no plan.

They threw McCarthy overboard without any plan whatsoever of what to do next. And so, when you think about what this means for the conservative cause, how are you going to beat Joe Biden without a plan? How are you going to advance our principles without a plan? They had no plan for this.


JENNINGS: Let alone the broader issues.

BASH: And I just want to be careful because we are going to see the actual vote.


BASH: The second vote soon. And we don't know what's going to happen until it happens. We are talking based on the House Republicans.

I know you're talking to that I'm talking to you about what their expectation is. Jim Jordan lost 20 Republicans yesterday. The fear among the Jordan camp is that he could lose more.

And so, the question is, when it comes down to it, as a Democrat, Ashley, what are the Democrats going to do? They made very clear it is not up to them to -- it wasn't up to them to save Kevin McCarthy. It is not up to them to elect a House Republican. But the question about these temporary powers, they could potentially vote to help give Republican Patrick McHenry those powers, right?

ALLISON: Absolutely. And I think when you look at what Hakeem Jeffries has said is they're not going to support a Jim Jordan as a speaker because he is at the complete opposite end of the spectrum in terms of conservatives and Democrats.


And they don't have that -- they don't have the responsibility. If the roles were flipped, Republicans wouldn't most likely do this for Democrats. However, what we -- I'm hearing from his office and he said publicly is that they are willing to work in a bipartisan manner.

And they have. They show that by keeping the government open. And that may be with empowering Congressman Patrick McHenry.

And I think it's because they trust him. If they're going to cross party lines, they want to do it with someone that they can I actually trust. That they say, if you give me your word -- we might not agree on every policy but when we talk about cutting deals, that you'll keep your end of the bargain.

The question, though, will still remain is that can the Republicans keep their act together, you know? And like hearing -- you talk Scott just now and you sound like my -- like we were Democrats together with your frustration with the Republicans.

JENNINGS: Don't put that evil on me.

BASH: You're in so much trouble, Scott.

JENNINGS: Don't put that evil on me.

BASH: I -- guys, I want to go to Adam Kinzinger, who of course, left the House of Representatives. Congressman, because as you made very clear again when we spoke yesterday, because of the kind of chaos that we're seeing, and because of the -- of the -- of the right part of your conference, who there -- from your perspective, I know that they're determined to continue the chaos.

You have been in these meetings. You have been in these conversations when people are trying to get votes for the speaker. Can you talk about the way you think this is going right now, and what we're going to see?

ADAM KINZINGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Oh, yes. It's not fun for anybody in there. I mean, I was in these meetings where I felt like we were about to go to fisticuffs. And that was like, four years ago before it was even as crazy as it was, and in some cases, before anybody heard of Donald Trump's name in a political context, so there is some intense anger.

And I don't -- I guess I don't understand Jim Jordan's reason. Maybe he needs to go to a second round. I don't understand his reason for going to a third or fourth especially if he's going to lose more people. Except that, they're going to continue to try to bully folks.

I think what you're -- what is a likely possible I guess, scenario here in this goat rodeo to continue Scott Jennings' analogies is that they give -- they give Patrick McHenry temporary powers until January 2. And then Jim Jordan or somebody just like him continues to pressure those 20 or 30 until that January 2 date. Until it gets to the point where everybody's been worn down and broken down.

I mean, this thing started, Dana, with 50 people saying they would never vote for Jim Jordan. And 30 of them -- I was very impressed we got to 20 yesterday, but 30 of them collapsed in a point of about 12 hours because, you know, Sean Hannity's booker reached out to them and asked them if they were planning to vote against Jim Jordan. That was the amount of pressure they could take.

So, they're going to be ticked off because even though they collapsed in a heap of fear, they're not happy they had to collapse in that heap. So, it'll be interesting to watch today. But if you -- if -- you know, you could have a camera in that room, that would be must-watch TV, that's for sure.

BASH: Yes. If you can work on that, let us know. I just want to let our viewers what they are seeing on their screen, and that is the House of Representatives still gathering, still doing a roll call, so that everybody is there. So, we have not yet seen the actual action begin.

And, Congressman Kinzinger, we are told that today the nominating speech for Jim Jordan will be Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma, who is a very conservative, but certainly a longtime friend of the leadership -- the old school leadership. In fact, to John Boehner. Actually, let's listen to the floor.


REP. PATRICK MCHENRY (R-NC): The question now occurs -- the question now recurs on the election of a speaker. The tellers will please come forward to take their seats.

BASH (voiceover): Temporary speaker. As we just heard Patrick McHenry, the temporary speaker, introduce what we expect to see. That expectation is that we are going to see a nominating speech, as I mentioned, for Jim Jordan once again to be a speaker.

MCHENRY: If the tellers will please come forward and take their seats? Tellers. The gentleman, Mr. Loudermilk. The gentlelady from Alabama, Michelle, prompt. Thank you, Mark.


BASH (voiceover): And then we of course expect --

MCHENRY: The nominations are now in order. The Chair recognizes the gentleman from Oklahoma, Mr. Cole.

REP. TOM COLE (R-OK): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, I rise for the purpose of placing in nomination the name of the honorable Jim Jordan for the position of Speaker of the House at the direction of the Republican Conference.

MCHENRY: The gentleman was recognized.

COLE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Mr. Speaker, two weeks and one day ago, I was on this House floor and in this chamber defending my very good friend and our former speaker, Mr. McCarthy, from an effort to vacate the chair. And in the course of that speech, I made the remark that those who did this, whether intentionally or unintentionally, were going to put the Congress in a state of chaos and the country into a state of uncertainty. I think the last two weeks have vindicated that observation.

But we have a chance today to end that chaos and to end that uncertainty. Now, when these races happen, there's always a lot of hard things said on both sides of the aisle. There's a lot of finger- pointing that goes on.

I don't intend to be involved in any of that today. I think the decision in front of us is far, far too important for that. But I am very proud, very proud to place in nomination the name of our good friend, my good friend, our Republican candidate for speaker, the Honorable Jim Jordan of Ohio.

I have had the privilege of knowing Jim Jordan for a long time. I've been in Congress for a long time. So, in his -- for his entire period in the House, I've had the honor of serving with my friend. Now, my friend is not exactly a shrinking violet. You don't win national championships in college, you don't come to this floor with a sincere set of beliefs and desire to make a change and be shy about it, and my friend is not a shy person.

But I've learned some things about him over the years. He's a person of absolute personal integrity. I have never once had to question something that he told me. He's an honorable man.

Also, I think we all know he's a pretty direct man too. I don't think anybody in here on any issue of any substance would have to guess where Jim Jordan is going to stand. He doesn't deceive. He doesn't dissemble. He simply tells you straight up.

This is what I believe. This is why I think it's the right thing to do for the country. And that's what I'm going to try and accomplish. And I'm going to work with you in any way that I can to do it.

Now, the other thing I think we found in the last couple of weeks is what it takes to be a speaker. And the one thing I know never having been one and never having aspired to be one, that it takes a bind of steel to do this job. My friend has that kind of determination, has that kind of character, has that kind of spine. And I think the next speaker is going to need that quality. And I know my friend has in great abundance.

Now, if you're a Republican, it ought to be a pretty easy decision, my friends, you know. This is somebody who believes what we believe and has fought for and shown that over and over again. You know when I first got to know him, a lot of his focus was on spending. That's exactly where the focus of this House ought to be.

Now, he's laid out a plan, not just a short-term plan as to how we deal with the appropriations process. I'm an appropriator. I think I know that that's not the root of the problem. But unlike any other speaker we've had, he's had the courage to talk about a long-term plan, and to get at the real drivers of debt.

And we all know what they are. We all know what's Social Security. We all know what's Medicare. We all know it's Medicaid.

No president of either side has been willing to deal with this. No speaker of either side has been willing to deal with this. My friend, our former colleague, John Delaney, and I offered a plan.