Return to Transcripts main page

CNN Live Event/Special

Future of Israel Aid Unclear Amid House Speaker Fight. Aired 09:55-10:30a ET

Aired October 20, 2023 - 09:55   ET



JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: I am Jake Tapper in Washington. Today, two skylines, a world away, defined by a shared sense of uncertainty and urgency and crisis, here in Washington, D.C., a presidential challenge to fund wars for democratic allies running into a Congress and House Republicans who just cannot get their act together. In Gaza, an anxious wait for what many fear is coming, an IDF invasion, to weed out the terrorist group, Hamas.

I'm Jake Tapper in Washington.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: And I'm Dana Bash on Capitol Hill, where, in minutes, Jim Jordan hopes he can -- but that hope might be misplaced. It certainly seems to be headed that way. Because at this moment, there is very little reason to believe that a third vote on giving Jordan the speaker's gavel will end any differently than the first two, in defeat. Jordan can only afford three Republican defections. On the second vote, he lost 22.

ERIN BURNETT, ANCHOR: Not close. And I'm Erin Burnett in Israel.

Here and inside Gaza, everyone is waiting on edge, waiting for what comes next. Humanitarian trucks carrying medicine, food, desperately needed water remain on the Egyptian side of the Rafah border crossing of Southern Gaza. Every moment they are stuck brings doctors in Gaza hospitals one minute closer to operating without virtually anything they need. Again, we hear it, they need water, water, water.

And hundreds of thousands of Israeli reservists are waiting for a green light to invade, more than 300,000 amassed along that border, as major protests ricochet.


Today, in Yemen, look at this picture. This is happening in Yemen right now. People packed shoulder to shoulder, as far as the eye can see, thousands upon thousands upon thousands of them in Sana'a in the south, Jake.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: And as we look at those pictures, let's start here in D.C. today with our coverage at the U.S. Capitol, where any minute we expect action on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. CNN's Manu Raju is there, as he usually is. Manu, I've been talking to House Republicans all morning, as I know you have. I am not expecting a different result. Is Congressman Jim Jordan?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's probably going to go poorly for him in just a matter of moments here, Jake. We expect the Republican opposition, in fact, to grow. Remember, the first ballot vote, he lost 20 Republicans. The second ballot, he lost 22 Republicans. I'm talking to Republicans who are opposed to him.

They expect that number to be potentially close to 30 Republicans on this third ballot. One predicted it would be 29 Republicans. We'll see if that's the case. But no one expects him to get the votes needed to become elected speaker today.

And he can only afford to lose three on the floor because one of his supporters is in Israel right now, bringing down the total of what he ultimately needs, raising so many questions, so much anger within the GOP ranks about how to get out of this crisis that they themselves caused.

If Jim Jordan does not get the votes, which is widely expected, then there will be some decisions to make. Does he continue on with another round of ballots, which he can do as a speaker nominee, continue to call for votes, trying to get people to come his way? His supporters are urging him to do it. Jordan is threatening to continue to keep this going through the course of the weekend, or he could bow out. If he bows out, that could lead the way to another speaker's race from other candidates Republicans were considering putting their name in the ring.

Now, on the others -- the other thing that has been discussed has been trying to prop up the interim speaker, Patrick McHenry, have a vote on the floor, to give him more powers than he currently has. But Republicans are widely opposed to that idea. Democrats support that idea for the most part, and the Republicans are badly divided over this and have shelved the idea of temporarily propping up Patrick McHenry, which leads to so many more questions about how are they going to get out of this, and if they can't figure out of their way out of this, that means all these huge issues that Congress has to deal with, namely aid that's being pushed hard by the president, trying to avoid another government shutdown, cannot be acted upon until the House Republicans can get behind a speaker and find a way out of this leadership crisis.

And at the moment, Jake, there is no way out. So, we can see one ballot here fail for Jim Jordan, after another, after another, as frustration and anger mounts within the House GOP.

TAPPER: All right. Manu Raju, we will be coming back to you many times today, I suspect.

On to the high drama on the Capitol at even higher stakes, last night, President Biden said the world is at an inflection point, and the American answer to instability abroad, in his view, is $100 billion in new money to fund support for the government and military of Israel and Ukraine.

Of course, Congress cannot even consider President Biden's request unless and until they pick a House speaker.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House for us. Arlette, what is President Biden and the White House, what are they hoping for today from Congress?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, good morning -- to submit that official request for additional funding for both Ukraine and Israel to Congress.

Now, we expect those details to come out very shortly. But two sources who are briefed on the matter say that the proposal is expected to top about $150 billion of national security funding, $60 billion of that going to Ukraine and another $14 billion going to Israel.

Those figures are expected to last for a longer -- for a one-year period in order to avoid any of those incremental fights that have been going on when it comes to funding these types of issues. The administration's also expected to provide a request about $10 million in humanitarian aid. There's also a $14 billion request for border security, that is something Republicans have pushed for for quite some time. And there's also additional funding for the Indo-Pacific and Taiwan, about $7 billion.

Now, while the White House believes they have bipartisan support for aid for Ukraine and Israel, the reality is that securing that funding on Capitol Hill will be very, very difficult. There's polling that has shown that Americans are unsure how much the U.S. should be involved in the war in Israel, and there is waning support for providing additional assistance to Ukraine. That is a sentiment that is shared by the majority of the American people, as well as some hard line conservatives up in the House.

But then there is the issue of the broader paralysis -- representatives at this moment.


So, they are unable to consider or pass any type of legislation, putting into real question about how soon the administration could get this type of aid for both Ukraine and Israel across the finish line.

TAPPER: All right. Arlette, thanks so much.

And while the acting speaker, Patrick McHenry, begins the morning with a prayer, let's talk with my panel. And, Jamie Gangel, there are no signs, no signs, that Jim Jordan can get to 217 votes. In fact, he might even fall even shorter today than he did yesterday, which was even shorter than he was the day before. And yet, we are in matters -- of moments of crisis in Ukraine and Israel. There are not only innocent people dying in Gaza, in Israel, in Ukraine, these are American allies, there are Americans dying in these places. What is this, if not, a narcissistic act of self-regard? JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: I don't mean to laugh about this, but it is just unimaginable that this is day 17. You know, to say it's Groundhog's Day is really too light.

But, look, one of the things that I'm told, two of my Republican sources just texted me and said, more knows, it's going in the wrong direction for him.

The other thing that I think is important to point out, and I have said this a couple of times over the last couple of days, is Kevin McCarthy. His name, if you go, he would not let the architect of the Capitol take his name off the door. So, when you go to the speaker's office, there you go. It still says Kevin McCarthy. He is not the speaker of the House. He is not the speaker pro tempore of the House.

TAPPER: Well, how does he have the power to tell the architect to not take it off? I mean, how does he even have that power? I mean, he's no more speaker than I am.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Probably Patrick McHenry has that power, who is a Kevin McCarthy ally, and it's not looking to take it down.

GANGEL: And it's not just that if you go on it still also says that Kevin McCarthy is the speaker of the House.


TAPPER: Right, you --

GANGEL: Look, over the -- to Gloria just point, over the last couple of days, people have texted me and said maybe his name will be thrown back in. And after all, he only lost by eight votes. But the reality is, as long as there is no one else as speaker, Kevin McCarthy is, to your point, David really controlling Patrick McHenry, who he put in this job.

TAPPER: Go ahead.

BORGER: I just -- it's sort of hard to figure out. Jordan had a press conference this morning and he tried to literally fly above, you know, 30,000 feet by talking about the Wright Brothers and you know he's clearly trying to raise the level of the discussion here and remake himself into kind of a statesman. And we all need to unite. And you can scratch your head and say, is this the Jim Jordan that I've watched for the last umpty-umpth years, who has never been the prime sponsor of a piece of legislation that's passed the Congress?

And we all know that John Boehner called him a legislative terrorist, et cetera, et cetera. I think now he's trying to kind of change the tenor of the debate.

JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: This is their problem. They don't know who they are, so they keep changing who they are. Kevin McCarthy was a chamber of commerce, Central California Republican. Then he became a Trumpy. Then he tries to make friends at the Tea Party. Now, Jim Jordan is trying to present himself as a guy who can cut deals and make compromises and make friends. You can't lead if you don't know who you are. They don't know who they are.

TAPPER: So, right now, just for people watching at home on the left side of your screen, they are just -- it's a quorum call. It's basically they're just taking attendance, so they know how many people are there, who is there. The speaker vote will require a majority of those there, so they need to know how many people are there to see if they need 216 votes or 217 votes to win the speakership.

I will say that however much Jim Jordan might try to present himself as a statesman by invoking the Wright Brothers from his beloved home state of Ohio, when he was asked whether the 2020 election was stolen, which, of course, it was definitively not stolen, this was the answer that Congressman Jim Jordan gave today, proving once again that he is an election liar/denier.


REPORTER: Do you believe that 2020 elections was stolen?

REP. JIM JORDAN (R-OH): I think there were all kinds of problems with the 2020 election. I've been clear about that.


TAPPER: And a reminder that his name is all over the select House committees. Investigation into January 6th was a major conspirator, according to the vice chair, conservative Republican Liz Cheney, and defied a congressional subpoena. So, if he does win, which it does not look like he will, he will be the first House speaker in history to defy a subpoena issued by the very same House of Representatives that he wants to lead.


KING: And he's a constitutional officer in the United States. He's not just the leader of House Republicans if you're the speaker. You're third in line to the presidency there. You make a key point.

To me, the question really is, so Jim Jordan has 19 or 20 people voting against him so far, that tells you everything you need to know about today's Republican Party. Why aren't there more? Why aren't there more? Why don't more of them have the courage to step up and say, we need to break from this? Donald Trump lost the election. Joe Biden was duly elected.

We need to look the American people in the eye and say, maybe we didn't like the way Pennsylvania did it, or Wisconsin did it, but it was all upheld in the courts. It was all upheld after recounts. When the referee blows the whistle, the game is over. When you go to court and lose, the game is over. They refuse to say game over.

And so why aren't more Republicans standing up and saying we need to break from this, we need to move on? This is really another defining crossroads. Normally, parties set their agenda in their direction through presidential primaries. There's one of those playing out right now, and Trump doesn't have -- changes.

This is another test for the Republican Party. Who are we? We're going to stay there into the 2020 election, or are we going to have the courage to move on?

CHALIAN: And it's break -- sorry, I just want to say it's break from this Trumpism. But the other option is to just stand up for democracy, which he refuses to do, right? I mean, he gave some lip service, Jake. Yesterday or two days ago, he was asked that question, he was silent and just allowed the elevator doors to shut. He wouldn't even engage at all.

And, remember, Donald Trump, in secret, in a private ceremony, awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor you can get in this country. He was a recipient of that five days after January in the White House.

BORGER: And don't forget, he was willing, at one point, to go to -- to let Patrick Henry become the temporary speaker until his own Republicans in a private caucus knocked it down, holding up the Constitution, and saying, this is not the way democracy works. We can't put him in because, it would be awful if we actually had to work with, oh my God, Democrats on the other side of the aisle, which is one of the reasons, of course, that they threw out McCarthy because he dared compromise.

TAPPER: You know, it's interesting, when you were talking about what the Republicans not standing up to Donald Trump and it occurred to me what Jim Jordan is doing right now, putting the country through this, dragging the country through this, dragging the caucus through this at the conference, rather the Republican conference, just refusing to accept the fact that he doesn't have the votes is a mini version of what Donald Trump is still doing for the country. He refuses to accept that he lost.

KING: Right. He predates Trump, remember, the Tea Party guys, but they've adopted his tactics, which is bully, bully, bully.

TAPPER: But he's refusing to accept that. And regardless of what's best for the Republican conference, regardless of what's best for the House of Representatives, regardless of what's best for the United States of America and the world, because of his brittle ego, he is putting the United States of America through this.

There are other Republicans who can do the job. Patrick McHenry, Steve Womack, Tom Emmer, Tom Cole. There are plenty of Republicans who can do this job, conservative Republicans, fiscal conservatives, people who will do individual appropriations bills. But it is so important to him that he's putting us all through this, just like Donald Trump did with the election loss that we all still are going through.

We're continuing to watch the House floor forum call ahead of Jim Jordan's third attempt to be elected speaker.

Up next, CNN's Erin Burnett is going to join us from Israel where tensions are high ahead of an expected ground incursion into Gaza. We're watching angry protests in the West Bank and beyond.

Stay with us.



TAPPER: And you're looking at the floor of the House of Representatives as we await Congressman Jim Jordan's third attempt to be elected speaker of the House right now. Members are in a quorum call vote that's basically an attendance vote. The House needs a speaker before lawmakers can vote on any new aid for Israel's war against Hamas or Ukraine's war against Russia.

The Israel war is sparking tension all across the Middle East and beyond, of course. My colleague, Erin Burnett, is in Tel Aviv.

And, Erin, this has been a day of angry protests by Palestinians in the West Bank.

BURNETT: Yes, Palestinians in the West Bank. We've seen them in Sana'a and Yemen and Cairo, around the region, as people Got out of mosque earlier this afternoon.

Our Sara Sidner has been in the West Bank, Jake, in the city of Ramallah. There's been a large and angry demonstration where she is as people left the mosque, and Sara is with me now.

Sara, you know, there was a moment, you, know someone came up right in your face and said, we don't we don't want you here. You are not welcome here Can you tell us exactly what it is that you're seeing?

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: Sure. Look, the tension -- as I understand this, the tension is beyond high. There isn't a word for it because of the images that people are seeing coming out of Gaza, coming out from all over the Gaza Strip, of children being killed, of families being wiped out, of the bombings that have been happening, the airstrikes that have been happening from Israel. Their anger is very, very high. They do not like the coverage that is being done by us or other international stations often.

But there is this sense that there needs to be a place for people to explode their rage because what can they do otherwise, where can they go otherwise to try and deal with the traumas that they're seeing of their people. Some of them have family members who live in Gaza.


Some of them are experiencing this on a very different scale than the rest of the world who is just looking in on this tragedy that is happening.

There is also a sense, you know, from the Israeli side of this perspective, that they are also dealing with a huge tragedy that needs to be recognized by the world. And this existential fight that they have been having with Hamas for as long as Hamas has been around as long as Israel has existed.

And so this is a natural course of things. Did I get caught in the middle of it? Sometimes it happens with journalists. Other journalists there were watching all of it happen. And to be fair to them, they actually were the ones that sort of pulled me towards them and a little bit out of the fray.

But it's completely understandable. You're talking about 3,000-plus people who have been killed in Gaza. You're talking about tens -- more than 10,000 people injured, right, and there's a humanitarian crisis. So, I think this was just the explosion of anger, and it came at me, and it happens sometimes, Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Thank you very much, Sara, who was in Ramallah and those protests earlier today.

And Nic Robertson is now in Sderot, Israel, near the Gaza border. The Israeli military, of course, has been using that area and all the way up along the Gaza Strip as a staging ground for the expected military incursion into Gaza. And I know, Nic, the last time that we were in a position anywhere remotely close to this, some of the first action happened exactly where you are. So, what is the situation right now?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, the military is poised and ready to go. According to politicians, they have a green light. The military has a green light. It's up to them when they choose to go in. But it's been an uncanny and odd kind of day here.

I have to say, Erin, it's been, I would say, the quietest day we've experienced since the 7th of October. Very, very few fighter jets, if any, even the drones have gone silent and the drones a big, there's often a lot of them, they're often low, they make a lot, a lot of noise like a lawn mower 100 feet in the sky above you. You really know they're there. It's been quiet, very, very, very few detonations that we've heard coming from Gaza today.

I don't think we've taken -- oh, there was actually a couple of incoming rockets earlier on this morning, but that was isolated. It has been a very quiet day. And it sort of gives the impression that while the military is poised for action, behind the scenes, you would believe that there is some sort of diplomacy or talking ongoing about the hostages, about the humanitarian aid that's poised potentially to come in.

So, you get this feeling that the situation is poised here. But I know from a military perspective, when they have those troops forward deployed, they can't keep them out there forever. They have to make a decision about them.

BURNETT: Right, they absolutely do. But as Nic points out, and everyone should be aware, right, we found out from the IDF just a few hours ago that the majority of the hostages are alive. To be able to say that and to be able to put out a statement saying that is extremely significant, and to Nic's point, may indicate that there's more going on right now than we know. But quietest day for Nic, where it has been so busy, and the quietest day that we've seen either as well.

So, I'm joined now by a spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces, Major Libby Weiss. And, Major, do we read anything into what has been from what we see and our team see the quietest day so far?

MAJ. LIBBY WEISS, SPOKESPERSON, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: I don't know that there's anything to read into that. I can say that Israelis who are still under rocket fire, Israelis who are still concerned about the well-being of their family members, Israelis who are still in mourning right now. I don't know to say that they necessarily are reading into that.

And from a military perspective, we are, of course, increasing our preparedness in terms of operational planning, in terms of training, and await final decisions from the government.

BURNETT: And the protests are going on as you and I speak. In Yemen, I mean, just looking at the pictures, in Sana'a, tens of thousands. In Cairo today, there were protests, of course, as well. And the chants across were down with Israel, no displacement or re-homing, which, of course, is a reference to the fact that they do not want refugees from Gaza coming to Egypt. We see them in Amman. You saw what happened in the West Bank. Are you concerned? I mean, is it legitimate to fear what these escalating protests may bring to this conflict?

WEISS: Of course, we're monitoring everything that is happening. But I have to say, we are -- we have no choice but to make sure that Hamas can ever do this again. I don't know what to tell you, and I don't think it will tell you. I certainly leave this to the diplomatic level of how it will impact our activity. But the IDF has no choice at this stage. We have to make sure that Hamas will never have the ability of launching terror and using the Gaza Strip as a launching ground for that terror against Israel.


BURNETT: So, I want to ask you about those hostages because you did say earlier today that the majority of them are believed to be alive. We've talked to a few of them and they hadn't heard that we were actually, when we called them, how they found this information out. We do know from the IDF as well that at least 20 of the hostages are children.

Are there any current negotiations going on? I understand you're not going to tell us anything about the status or anything like that, but are there conversations going on between Israel and anybody in Hamas or proxy for Hamas about the hostages?

WEISS: I will let the diplomats do their very important work and I'm not in a position to comment on that. What I can say is that, of course, we know Hamas is a terror organization that is entirely committed to wiping Israel off the map. They say it themselves, of course. So, it is something that we have to consider. But I will let those who are in a better position to comment on negotiations.

BURNETT: Is there any hesitation at all by Israel? We hear from in Gaza fear and terror from civilians, shortages, dire shortages of everything, but everybody that we speak to that I've spoken to, it is water. They are drinking toilet water. They do not have water.

Do you, as Israel, fail any responsibility for that, for ameliorating that or alleviating that before you go ahead with any ground incursion?

WEISS: Well, certainly any decision around humanitarian aid that's coming in is, again, something that will be decided and the IDF will implement whatever decision is made. But I would also emphasize the fact that Hamas is the sovereign power within the Gaza Strip. Hamas is responsible for taking care of its civilian population. And we understand that they have spent more than a decade, taking resources that are going or intended to civilians using it for their own purposes.

We have called this out. We have set it on every possible platform that this is something they are doing. We have raised that flag. And I think, once again, we understand that Hamas has a responsibility to care for the people within the Gaza Strip. And, of course, we will implement the decision the government makes here about humanitarian aid.

BURNETT: All right. Major Weiss, I appreciate your time very much late this afternoon here in Tel Aviv, of course, the morning of more dysfunction going on in the U.S. government in Washington, we will have much more in the situation in Israel and Gaza here coming back.

But right now, let's go back to this Washington morning and the House Speaker debacle that continues. Jake?

TAPPER: Thanks so much, Erin.

With me now, Texas Republican Congressman Dan Crenshaw. He's also a member of the House select committee on Intelligence. Congressman Crenshaw, good to see you.

I'm not sure why we're having this next vote, this third vote. Congressman Jim Jordan does not appear to be gaining many more votes. In fact, from our whip counts on our own, he seems to be losing them. Do you think he can win this next vote?

REP. DAN CRENSHAW (R-TX): No, the next votes, he's not going to win it. Your whip count is correct. I'm going to vote for him. I'm sickler for process. Like whoever wins our majority in conference, it's like a primary. And then you go to the general election and vote for your guy. That's what we're doing. But there are no votes, those no votes are not changing.

And you and I talked a week ago, a week-and-a-half ago, and I told you that if Jordan's allies, a lot of these online influencers, they're often paid, nobody should think that they are principled people with their own opinions, these attacks have become extremely vicious. They're different, right? I've been a subject of a lot of attacks from the far, right? These are different, and they have entrenched the opposition. They're not moving. So, those are the facts as they are. Those are the facts as they are right now. It's really questionable whether there should be more votes after this through the weekend. That would definitely backfire. You would definitely lose votes, in my opinion. But I'm going to advise Jordan not to do that.

I think the conference needs a reset. The reset was proposed yesterday, frankly, which is to empower Speaker Pro Tempore McHenry with temporary powers to simply bring bills to the floor, which is the main role of the speaker. Some would argue he already has that power, according to our rules, the way they're written. That would allow us to reset.

Stop yelling at each other. Stop pretending that it's the people's work when you're just in a room yelling at each other about who's the most popular. That's not the people's work. The people's work is what we do on committees. We legislate. We vote bills out of committees. It goes through the Rules Committee. It goes to the floor. The speaker is just there to manage that process. The process already exists. That's the real work.

Too many people up here seem to think that the real work is yelling at each other about their personal grievances about who should be speaker.


It's not the real work.

TAPPER: You better watch out. You're making too much sense. I don't know how much of a future you have in this business.

CRENSHAW: Yes, thanks.