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New York Judge Fines Trump $10,000 for Violating Gag Order; GOP's Rep. Mike Johnson (R-LA) Elected House Speaker After Weeks Of Chaos; Netanyahu Says, All Hamas Terrorists Are Dead Men Walking; House Republicans Finally End Weeks Of Chaos, Elect GOP Rep. Mike Johnson As New Speaker; Netanyahu Signals Gaza Ground Assault Still On Track Even As U.S. Warns Israelis Against Rushing Operation. Aired 6- 7p ET
Aired October 25, 2023 - 18:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: I know a lot of you want to help the people who are suffering in Gaza and Israel. CNN has a list of vetted organizations that are helping with humanitarian relief. You can head to cnn.com/impact for information on how you can get involved and you can help. So, please check it out. I'm going to have more from Tel Aviv on The Lead tomorrow.
Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. Stay safe.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news, a fuming Donald Trump has slapped with a $10,000 fine in his civil fraud trial in New York for violating a gag order again. The judge saying he didn't believe what Trump told him under oath, this as at least six were Trump co -defendants in the Georgia election subversion case have talked with prosecutors about a potential plea deal. Stand by for details on CNN's exclusive new reporting.
Also breaking, the U.S. House of Representatives has a new speaker at last. Louisiana Republican Mike Johnson managing to pull a splinter party together to win the job breaking a three-week deadlock. But how will he meet the huge challenges ahead?
And as new rocket fire from Gaza hits an apartment building near Tel Aviv, Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issues a new warning that all Hamas terrorists are, and I'm quoting him now, dead men walking.
Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer and you're in the Situation Room.
We're following two major breaking stories here in the United States. In New York, Donald Trump takes the stand, the stand at his civil fraud trial as the judge hits him with a $10,000 fine for violating his gag order again. And here in Washington, Republicans finally put an end to weeks of chaos, electing Congressman Mike Johnson as the new speaker of the House. We will get to all the drama on Capitol Hill in just a moment.
But, first, let's go to New York where CNN's Brynn Gingras is standing by outside the courthouse. Brynn, this is another major rebuke of Trump. How did all this unfold?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, for a quick refresher on that gag order, if you remember, the judge put that in place telling Trump he could not speak ill of anyone on his court staff. This is the second time that, according to this judge, he has violated that gag order.
I want you to hear what Trump said that put him in this position where he now owes $10,000.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: I don't get a jury. This was a trial should have never been brought, but if we had a jury, it would have been fair, at least even if it was a somewhat negative jury, because no negative jury would vote against me. But this judge will, because this judge is a very partisan judge, with a person who's very partisan sitting alongside him, perhaps even much more partisan than he is.
So, we are doing very well. The facts are speaking very loud. He's a totally discredited witness. And you haven't seen anything yet.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GINGRAS: The person sitting next to him is very partisan. Those are the key words that you need to listen to, because that's what angered the judge.
Quick picture for you, the way this courtroom looks, the judge is sitting to his right is his court clerk, and directly to his left is the witness box.
Once we got back from the lunch break today at the civil trial, the judge made Trump take the stand, and under oath he asked him, who was he talking about when he said the person next to him was very partisan. Trump said he was a very partisan judge. And he was talking about Michael Cohen.
When he left the witness box, the judge basically said, I don't believe you, and put in place that $10,000 fine. Now, this was argued by Trump's attorneys, but the ruling still stood.
Let me tell you why the judge put this fine in place. He says, I am very protective of my staff, as I believe I should be. I don't want anyone killed. And he said the ruling stands, even though there was an argument from the defense team, don't do it again, or it will be worse. Wolf?
BLITZER: And, Brynn, what can you tell us about that dramatic moment when Trump actually stormed out of this trial? GINGRAS: Yes. This all happened within an hour, Wolf. So, it was a very tense situation in that courtroom within that hour. So, this was happening of a cross-examination of Michael Cohen. Essentially, it was all in relation to a 2019 congressional hearing, where Cohen testified that Trump, or he didn't recall Trump telling him to basically manipulate the financial statements to reflect the net worth that Trump wanted. Well, that was brought up yesterday -- rather when he was being directed by the state's attorneys, where he essentially laid out
He laid out how he wouldn't manipulate those numbers and Trump wanted him to.
Well, in cross-examination, they brought back up that 2019 testimony and asked essentially did you lie, were you lying to Congress? And he stood, Michael Cohen, by his testimony in 2019.
Well, for Trump's camp, they think this is a big lie. He's flip- flopping his statements. And they asked the judge to basically throw out this trial because this is at the heart of why this civil trial is happening.
Well, the judge said no. He said it twice, definitely no. And, essentially, we will now continue to court. Michael Cohen is no longer on the stand, but they did try to get this trial thrown out just based off of Michael Cohen's testimony over the last two days. Wolf?
BLITZER: Very interesting. Brynn Gingras, thank you very much for that report.
Now to an exclusive CNN reporting on Georgia's election subversion case against Donald Trump. Our Senior Crime and Justice Reporter Katelyn Polantz has been working her sources for us. Katelyn, what are you learning?
KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Wolf, as we're piecing together what's happening with all 19 defendants in Fulton County, this 2020 election case, around Donald Trump, with Donald Trump at the top of the list of defendants, Wolf, we now know that at least six co-defendants of Donald Trump have had plea deals put on the table before them, and we're waiting to see what they do.
So, right now, 19 defendants, four of them, already took plea deals. Those four people all agreed to cooperate. That includes some top lawyers. And with those initial plea deals, Sidney Powell's, Jenna Ellis', Scott Hall's, and Ken Cheseboro's, the dominoes then start to fall. And so prosecutors go reach out to others, these six others, at least six other co-defendants, to see if they want to take deals. Those are people like a campaign official, another pro-Trump lawyer. And so we're going to wait and see what happens with them.
And when you're looking at these, the prosecutors, as they're trying to get people to plead guilty and take deals, it's good for them because it helps them focus their case against Trump. The more defendants they can pick off from going to trial, they can get these cooperators, get more information. And the defendants, you don't want to be last in line standing. You don't want to be the last one standing going to trial because you can get a deal that means no jail time. You can get a lot of benefits out of taking a plea deal if you choose to do it early.
And so right now, that's where we stand in this case. But we do know from our team of reporters that there are four people right now who haven't been offered plea deals in this case that are on the table from Fulton County, Georgia. Those are some of the biggest names in this case, Mark Meadows, Rudy Giuliani, John Eastman, and, of course, Donald Trump himself. So, no offers of guilty pleas for those four from the Georgia prosecutors at this time. Wolf?
BLITZER: All right. Katelyn, stay with us. We've got some more questions for you.
I also want to bring in our Legal Analysts Norm Eisen and Joey Jackson.
Norm, what's your reaction to this pretty stunning development of Trump taking the stand today in New York, the civil fraud trial? What's your reaction to the latest developments?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, Wolf, we've been watching how Donald Trump has struggled with the gag order. He was already fined once. Now, you had this statement again with the judge, and it is humiliating for the former president, putting Donald Trump on the stand.
Donald Trump claims he was talking about Michael Cohen, but, Wolf, Michael Cohen was not sitting alongside the judge. Cohen was sitting a distance away and below the judge. That was clearly a reference to the judge's clerk, and the judge found that Trump was not credible.
This is going to be a continuing problem. We have a gag order issue going on in the D.C. federal case as well. Donald Trump's own words could continue to land him in deeper and deeper trouble.
BLITZER: Joey, what do you make of the fact that the judge found Trump's denial under oath not credible?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Wolf, I make that it's not surprising at all, right? There are consequences to behaviors that run afoul of the judge's order. It's not that complicated. The gag order specified and was not even broad pertaining to the issues of my staff. And so when you make a reference to someone who was partisan, the person sitting right next to you, and as Norm indicated, Michael Cohen wasn't there. Who else are you referring to?
And so it's not surprising that the judge viewed that as credible and it's equally not surprising that the judge demanded accountability. And I think what the judge is also doing is looking at deterrence. I mean business. You're not to do this. This is my order. Don't do it again. If you do, I'm going to hit you where it hurts, and that's your pocketbook. And that's what the judge did. BLITZER: Let me bring Katelyn back into this conversation. Katelyn, the judge warned Trump today, and I'm quoting him now, don't do it again or it will be worse, end quote. What sort of penalty is Trump looking at if he were to break this gag order again?
POLANTZ: Well, right now it does look, like it is just hitting him in the pocket book, $15,000 total that he's being fined. He could be fined more by the judge.
But, of course, when a judge draws a line, you often don't want to cross it because you could be held in contempt of court. There could always be the penalty of having your bail revoked, meaning you could be put on house arrest or put in jail.
Now, that doesn't seem to be something that's been on the table in this case. This case is about holding Trump accountable on the money side of things, but at the same time, as both the other panelists mentioned here, there are other debates over gag orders, specifically, there's a judge in Washington, D.C., a federal judge looking at a gag order has already imposed it on Donald Trump, has it on hold right now, and the debate is ongoing.
We're waiting to hear if the Justice Department, even today, wants to flag what has happened in court in New York to that judge in Washington, D.C. And so each of these cases, all of the judges are watching what is happening with Donald Trump on a day-to-day basis, what he's saying publicly, and determining how they should respond.
BLITZER: And if he continues to violate gag orders, he could be fined, not just fined, but he could wind up actually behind bars as well.
Norm, in the Georgia case, how worried should Trump be about prosecutors discussing potential plea deals now with at least six additional co-defendants?
EISEN: He should be very worried, Wolf, and so should the other individuals who are at the very top of the caption of this indictment, Meadows, Giuliani, Eastman, because with the three plea deals that we have from lawyers who are involved already, they are powerful witnesses against Trump and the others, and now, six more. Fani Willis is masterfully working her way, as we say, up the food chain to the big fish. It should be very anxiety-provoking.
And I'm looking for the next plea deal to be in the area of those threats and intimidation against the election workers. We haven't seen somebody flip there yet. That may be one of the other unnamed targets of a plea deal to build this case out.
BLITZER: Good point for Trump. These plea deals are really, really bad news, legal news for him.
Joey, of the remaining co-defendants in Georgia who have yet to take a plea deal, whose testimony do you think could potentially be the most damaging to Trump? JACKSON: Yes. I think, Wolf, if I have to put that on the people who did, right? And that is, if you're the attorneys for Donald Trump that are spinning the narrative, we've seen a plea of guilty, right, by Sidney Powell as it relates to breaking into the systems to determine whether there's fraud. None was determined to exist. You see the issue of Cheseboro as it relates to the fact fraudulent elector scheme, that's compelling. And then, of course, we saw Jenna Ellis.
Why do I raise them? No, they're not remaining, but those are the attorneys, right? And those attorneys are people who were propagating a narrative. Remember at the outset, this is about RICO, Racketeering Influence Corruptor Organization Act. And so to establish that, not that that's what they pled guilty to, but you're talking about an enterprise, and that enterprise existing for the purposes of sustaining power.
So, I think prosecutors have a compelling case with them. And I think if the other parties don't get on board with regard to a plea deal, of course, the consequences elevate and those consequences could mean, unlike these three, jail. And that would certainly be highly problematic.
BLITZER: Yes, very important.
Katelyn, how could these potential additional plea deals impact Special Counsel Jack Smith's federal election subversion case?
POLANTZ: Well, if that case is charged. It is the prosecutors, the Justice Department, the United States against Donald Trump, and they are ready to go to trial. And so the possibility that the plea deals play into that trial as it stands set to go to trial in March, and the judge is saying that's not moving. It doesn't look like it's going to have that much effect there.
But if the Special Counsel's office continues to investigate, which we believe they are doing and they had continued to do after Trump was charged in federal court in D.C. related to the 2020 election, as they continue to investigate, this could build out more of what they know, especially if those people provide more information in Georgia that they never shared before.
BLITZER: Yes, excellent points from all of you guys. Thank you very, very much.
Just ahead, the House finally elects a new speaker after weeks of Republican infighting. What it means for the looming government shutdown, stand by.
Plus, we'll get a live update from Israel, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signals a ground invasion of Gaza by Israeli troops is still on track despite U.S. concerns.
[18:18:40] BLITZER: Tonight, the new speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, has his work certainly cut out for him after doing what three other nominees for the job failed to do that would be win over all of his fellow House Republicans. We're following all the breaking news on Johnson's election just a little while ago and what happens next.
CNN's Melanie Zanona is joining us live from Capitol Hill right now. Melanie, this was, what, 22 days in the making and it seems like Speaker Johnson got right down to business.
MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, that's right, Wolf. Republicans were really trying to show that the House is back up and running. And one of Speaker Johnson's first act as speaker was to put a bipartisan resolution on the floor to condemn Hamas and express support for Israel.
And all lawmakers, except for nine Democrats and one Republican, voted in support of that resolution, which did pass, so an easy victory under Johnson's belt here.
But he is going to face a number of immediate challenges now that he has stepped into the speakership role. That includes government funding, which expires on November 17th and bedeviled his predecessor Kevin McCarthy. He is going to have to heal the deep wounds inside the GOP, which are still very real. And he is also going to have to deal with the White House request to package Ukraine aid with Israel aid.
I caught up with Johnson a little bit ago and asked him whether he supports Ukraine aid, something that has been very divisive in the GOP. And he said he does support it but it needs to have conditions and they need to have accountability.
He declined to say exactly what that would look like. So, we'll see how he handles that issue.
But it's clear he's going to have to navigate the same tricky, political headwinds that Kevin McCarthy did, but Johnson so far expressing optimism about the path ahead.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): You're going to see an aggressive schedule in the days and weeks ahead. You're going to see Congress working as hard as it's ever worked. And we are going to deliver for the American people.
We're in the majority right now. We've gone through a little bit of suffering. We've gone through a little bit of character building. And you know what it's produced? More strength, more perseverance and a lot of hope. And that's what we're about to deliver to the American people.
(END VIDEO CLIP) ZANONA: Now in a positive sign for Johnson, some of those hard line Republicans who ousted Kevin McCarthy are now signaling they would actually be okay with a stopgap short-term funding bill, a sign that they are going to give a much longer leash for Speaker Johnson to govern, at least for now, Wolf.
BLITZER: Melanie Zanona, thank you very much.
Let's get some more on all of this with our political experts, and I want to start with you, Gloria. It took 22 days for the Republicans finally to get their act together and elect a new speaker of the House. Why did Johnson succeed when three of his other Republican speaker designees failed?
GLORIA BORGER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: And let's just say that yesterday he had all of 34 votes. And today, he ran unopposed in the Republican Party.
Look, first of all, I think we have to be honest and say that Republicans were exhausted by this and they were completely embarrassed by this. They also chose someone who had no big national profile. And in a way, I think that that worked to his advantage. And also people didn't hate him. They didn't have grudges against him because he didn't have a long career.
And I think one thing we saw in this race was put very well by Mitt Romney today, who said, apparently, experience isn't necessary for the speaker job. We're down to folks who haven't had leadership or chairmanship roles, which means their administration of the House will be a new experience for them. I would second that.
BLITZER: He's only been in the House for six years. He got elected in 2017.
BORGER: Hasn't been a committee chairman either.
BLITZER: Yes, so he doesn't have a whole lot of experience.
You know, Jamie, he was the chief architect, one of the chief architects in the House to try to overturn the presidential election in 2020. Trump gave Johnson a seal of approval, as you know. So, how does this impact what's going on among Republicans in the House?
JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: In fact, Steve Bannon tonight just tweeted about how important the new speaker was to trying to overturn the election. Look, the message here is Donald Trump is still in charge. Emmer, who was not an election denier, went down yesterday. Speaker Johnson, as we've said, is not just any election denier. He was driving the bus.
One of the questions you have to ask is what does this mean politically. He is now third in line in succession to be president of the United States. A lot of people are going to be asking him will he ever say that Joe Biden was elected president in a fair election.
BLITZER: Charlie Dent, that you were in the House of Representatives for a while. I assume you know this new speaker.
CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I served with him for two years. Look, he's a very smart, very conservative guy. He's got a nice disposition. But he's -- again, he's very conservative. And I suspect though that he's going to run in some hard challenges with the spending bills.
I mean, it's interesting that the folks who took down Kevin McCarthy are going to allow him to vote for to bring a continuing resolution to the floor. But they're talking about kicking this thing out in the January hour as far as April. They're going to find out faster some place called the U.S. Senate. And they might have a different opinion on that.
So, you know, he's probably going to be given that long leash. But, you know, they're going to -- he's a blank slate as far as most of the American public is concerned. And I suspect the Democrats are going to spend a lot of time trying to define him over the next few months. If Republicans are smart, they're going to try to introduce him to the American people because nobody really knows him.
GANGEL: Can I just add to that, Wolf, they're already defining him. You can bet the Democrats are focused on two things, holding on to the White House in 2024, taking back the House as well. We can count the minutes until the attacks and the fundraising start.
And to your point, he is unknown now, but he is so conservative on abortion, on gay rights, on climate change. This is -- in a certain way, it's a gift to the Democrats.
BORGER: And on democracy too and on the question of --
GANGEL: And as an election denier.
BORGER: Exactly. And I already got a text today from a Democrat saying to me, this is what we're going to do, this is how we're going to talk about it.
DENT: There's a deeper problem here. When Emmer finished ahead of Johnson, Scalise finished ahead of Jordan, a rump minority tries to impose its will on the majority, that is they don't accept the outcome. On Ukraine funding, there's a strong majority for Ukraine funding, but a rump minority tries to prevent it. If you don't like the election result in 2020, try to decertify. here's a pattern here. And that's been upsetting to me.
BORGER: Well, there's no interest in governing. I mean, that's, you know, you come from a part of the Republican Party that wanted to govern and I think a lot of these members have no interest in governing. hey want to make points, right?
GANGEL: Or blow it up.
BORGER: Or blow it up, exactly. DENT: But they're in the majority and a divided government. Some of them are going to have to govern and the speaker is going to find out.
BLITZER: Gloria, I want to get your reaction to something, Congressman Matt Gaetz, one of the eight Republicans who ousted Kevin McCarthy as speaker --
BORGER: They were just talking about, right?
BLITZER: -- what he said about Johnson's election. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MATT GAETZ (R-FL): MAGA is ascendant. And if you don't think the movement from Kevin McCarthy to MAGA Mike Johnson shows the ascendance of this movement and where the power in the Republican Party truly lies, then you're not paying attention.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BORGER: I think Matt Gaetz has a point there. I think that this Mike Johnson is incredibly conservative. He was an election denier. He's not for abortion rights. You know, there's a part of the party, a large part of the Trump part of the party, as you were saying, which is a majority of the Republican Party that he leads.
And I think that Gaetz is very proud of himself for, in a way, getting the conference to get to Mike Johnson. And maybe one of the reasons that happened is because he wasn't so well-known and they were just tired.
BLITZER: And we'll see if MAGA is ascendant in the House of Representatives among Republicans. All right, guys, thank you very, very much.
Coming up we'll take a closer look at the brand new speaker of the House plus our live report on Israel's war against Hamas. CNN, of course, is on the ground in the Middle East and we'll be right back.
BLITZER: Turning now of the breaking news out of the Middle East that Israel's war against Hamas, the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, bluntly warning the group, and I'm quoting him now, all Hamas terrorists are dead men walking.
Let's bring in CNN's Anderson Cooper. He's on the ground for us at Tel Aviv. Tonight, Anderson, these are very strong words from the prime minister ahead of what all of us anticipate is a likely ground in the Middle East.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There are some reports from the prime minister, Wolf, on this night that there was a rocket attack in a town about ten miles south of Tel Aviv. Nobody was killed in that rocket attack though, thankfully.
The prime minister talked about this, framing this war as a fight for the very existence of Israel. And he talked about two main goals for the war, both the destruction of Hamas and doing everything possible to try to get Israeli captives and American captives and others back from Hamas. Those two goals, not necessarily the same. He later went on to talk about one goal which is essentially moving forward to victory as fast as possible.
There's another comment that he made, I think that's gotten a lot of attention here in Israel, Wolf, which is that he talked about the -- that there will be an inquiry into what went wrong in terms of the military intelligence failures leading up to the October 7th attack. He said that everybody will have to answer questions and give answers, including himself.
There's a lot of Israelis who feel he has not accepted any responsibility for the attack on October 7th, whereas the members of the military leadership, the intelligence leadership have accepted a level of responsibility. He has not publicly said that or apologized. Many people want him to do that. So, him sort of giving a head nod saying that he will answer questions, but after the war is completed, Wolf.
BLITZER: Anderson, I also understand that later tonight on your show, you're going to be speaking to a community activist who has actually spoken to Hamas representatives about freeing the hostages. Tell us about that.
COOPER: Yes. This is a person who was involved in kind of behind the scenes ways early on in the negotiations over Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who was held for many years, and ultimately exchanged for more than a thousand Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. He talked about just the incredibly complex nature of the ongoing negotiations now that's taking place involving Qatar, involving Egypt, involving obviously Israel and the United States. It's a complexity that really nobody has seen before given the large number of hostages.
And the other thing he's pointing out, which is interesting, is he's sort of confirming what many here have pointed to the likelihood that some of these hostages may not be held directly by Hamas or even Islamic Jihad. They may have been taken by individual families in Gaza. People who crossed over the border in the wake of the Hamas gunmen going over and grab people, which we've seen in the past and ultimately those people get ransom for money, they get money for that and, ultimately, they end up in the hands of Hamas.
So, there may be -- Hamas may not know at this moment exactly where all of the 220 or so people believed to be held hostage, where they are, and that's one of the complicating factors here.
BLITZER: Yes, one of many complicating factors. Anderson, thank you very much.
And we're going to see Anderson later tonight on AC 360, 8:00 P.M. Eastern. I look forward to it, Anderson. Thanks very much.
Meanwhile, the United Nations is warning aid delivery to Gaza could be suspended within hours as a fuel shortage cripples relief operations.
Our Chief International Correspondent Clarissa Ward is joining us from Cairo, Egypt, right now. She has more on the story. Clarissa, what happens when Gaza runs out of fuel?
CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is what everybody is waiting to see and it could happen any moment now. We just don't know exactly, but hospitals have been warning that their generators will stop, ventilators will stop, incubators will stop, much needed desalination plants, which are providing the only drinkable water, will stop. People have been forced, according to doctors, to drink brackish water. They're seeing all sorts of health problems associated with that, including a spike in preeclampsia in pregnant women.
And as you mentioned, the U.N. -- the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, which is the agency inside of Gaza, is saying that, basically, they will not be able to carry out their full services if they don't get fuel tonight or tomorrow.
Now, yesterday, they had said that they would be forced to suspend their operations tonight. So, it appears that there's a little more fuel in order to give them that extra bit of wiggle room. But everyone we have spoken to, from humanitarian organizations to ordinary civilians on the ground, is saying that this really is at a crisis point now, not to mention the fact that ordinary aid is not getting in. Last night just eight trucks, nothing today.
So, fuel is the primary consideration, but, still, food, water, medical equipment, and all of this taking place against the backdrop of the heaviest, most intense and most punishing bombardment that Gaza has ever seen, Wolf.
BLITZER: As you know, Clarissa, IDF officials insist Hamas is holding thousands and thousands of gallons of fuel in Gaza. Is there any way to verify that?
WARD: It's very difficult to verify those claims. The IDF has also said in the past that Hamas has stolen fuel from UNRWA, the U.N. agency I was referring to. We went to the spokesperson for that U.N. agency and asked them if, to their knowledge, Hamas had ever stolen fuel from any of their various warehouses. They said that, to the best of their knowledge, that has never happened before.
But also, Wolf, I just think it's important to give you some perspective. Before this war, three weeks ago, more than 480,000 liters of fuel was required every day to keep Gaza running. The U.N. is saying it would require at least 160,000 liters of fuel a day.
So, even if Hamas did have or does have a few hundred thousand liters of fuel a day, you are still not talking about quantities that can be used to continue to power the generators of Gaza that are keeping people alive right now for any reasonable period of time, Wolf. BLITZER: All right. Clarissa, thank you very much, Clarissa Ward, reporting from Cairo for us.
Just ahead, we'll have a closer look at the new House speaker, Mike Johnson, including his very conservative and sometimes very controversial background.
BLITZER: We're back with the breaking news right now. President Biden has called the new House speaker, Mike Johnson, to congratulate him on his election. House Republicans picked the Louisiana conservative for the position after weeks of infighting and paralysis.
Brian Todd, taking a closer look into his background, his record. And, Brian, what have you learned about the new speaker?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, he's not a household name, but Mike Johnson is known in Republican circles for being an ardent supporter of Donald Trump, who rejected the 2020 election results, for being a fervent opponent of abortion rights, and someone whose views on LGBTQ rights make even some Republicans uncomfortable.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Frankly, we did win this election.
TODD (voice over): In those contentious days after the 2020 election, when then President Trump was desperately maneuvering to hold on to power, Mike Johnson was one of Trump's most zealous supporters in Congress.
JOHNSON: The system is set up for massive fraud and error and irregularity, and we cannot have that in our election system.
TODD: The Republican from Louisiana led a group of conservative lawmakers who signed a court filing, which tried to nullify Electoral College votes in several states won by Joe Biden, a legal effort that was soundly rejected by the Supreme Court.
MARGARET TALEV, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think all of that is partly what makes him a favorable candidate for Donald Trump. You can expect Democrats to be looking to highlight this stuff.
TODD: Just after the 2020 election was called for Joe Biden, Johnson posted on X, then known as Twitter, quote, I have just called President Trump to say this, stay strong and keep fighting, sir, the nation is depending upon your resolve.
Today, the former president complimented the congressman.
TRUMP: As far as the speaker is concerned, he is a fantastic gentleman and I think he's going to do a great job. TODD: But if you think the former conservative radio talk show host came out of nowhere to win the speakership, you might not be alone. Longtime Senator Susan Collins from Johnson's own party said, quote, I was going to Google him this morning.
TALEV: A lot of people don't know him, which means he doesn't have a lot of enemies.
TODD: First elected to Congress in 2016, Johnson staunchly opposes abortion and celebrated the Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe versus Wade, calling it a, quote, great, joyous occasion.
JOHNSON: The Founders, the ones who put this country together recognize that life was sacred because it is given to us by our creator, by God.
TODD: Johnson has also been a fierce opponent of LGBTQ rights. In the mid-2000s, he wrote in an op-ed in "The Shreveport Times" that homosexuality is, quote, an inherently unnatural and dangerous lifestyle that would lead to legalized pedophilia.
The 51-year-old Johnson, according to "Politico", is the least experienced speaker elected in 140 years. Is he in over his head?
DOUG HEYE, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: The speaker job is an on the job training situation. Nobody is prepared for that role unless they've already been in it.
TODD (on camera): Analysts say Mike Johnson won't have much of a honeymoon period as House speaker. One of his first big tests will come in the days leading up to the November 17 government shutdown deadline, a test to see if he can work with Democrats to keep the government funded and if he can navigate the treacherous waters of hard line Republicans who tossed Kevin McCarthy from power -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Brian reporting. Good report. Thank you very much.
Coming up, we'll go back to Israel for reaction to all the latest developments. We'll speak to a senior adviser to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and get his response to U.S. concerns over a likely Israeli ground invasion of Gaza.
BLITZER: Let's get back to our breaking news coverage of the war in the Middle East. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says operations in Gaza, and I'm quoting him now, are just the beginning, and that his military is preparing a ground incursion into Gaza.
Joining us now from Tel Aviv is Mark Regev. He's a senior adviser to Prime Minister Netanyahu.
Mark, thanks very much for joining us.
As you probably know, CNN has learned the U.S., the Biden administration, is advising Israel against -- against an all-out ground invasion into Gaza. Is it possible to eradicate Hamas with targeted special operation raids along with airstrikes?
MARK REGEV, SENIOR ADVISER TO ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Our expectation is that we will have to send ground forces into Gaza because the goal of the operation is to dismantle Hamas' military machine. And a lot of that machine is underground. One of the hostages who was recently released reported that she felt she was in a network like a spider web of underground tunnels. And if we're going to seriously dismantle that military structure of Hamas, we're going to have to be there physically on the ground.
BLITZER: So, when is that move into Gaza going to start?
REGEV: I can't be specific on timing for obvious reasons. We don't want to give Hamas any advanced warning of when the attack will come. But it will come.
BLITZER: And do you think it'll come soon without giving us a specific date?
REGEV: I'm not going to give a specific date, and you can -- obviously you understand why. But the goal of this operation is not just to give Hamas a blow so they'll be deterred. We tried that, it didn't work. We need a new reality -- a reality in which Israel is no longer threatened by this terrorist enclave on our border.
Just a quick fix, just a lot of people think why can't we just ceasefire? A quick fix is a return to where we were on the morning of October 7th where Hamas can just attack our people and massacre us again.
We won't stand for that. We won't live with Hamas as a neighbor. The goal of our operation is to destroy Hamas' military machine and to destroy their political structure in Gaza. There will be a new reality when this is over.
BLITZER: All right. Mark, in Gaza, as you know, hospitals, the water system, they are on the brink of collapse with fuel running out. You blame Hamas for withholding fuel. But doesn't Israel have an obligation, if it can, to address this humanitarian crisis?
REGEV: Well, a few days ago, it was reported on CNN, six tankers entered the Gaza strip with fuel, and it was taken to U.N. bases. And we know for a fact that it was stolen by Hamas. There was actually a tweet which said armed gunman from the Hamas government came and requisitioned the fuel.
Later they deleted the tweet and we understand why. They have to work under the framework of a repressive, authoritarian and very brutal Hamas regime. But the truth is, there is plenty of fuel in the Gaza Strip. That fuel is in Hamas' hands. Hamas wants to save that fuel for its military machine, for its rockets, for its underground network of tunnels.
We have no interest in Hamas having more fuel. If the people of Gaza need fuel, the fuel is in Gaza. And the finger has to be pointed at Hamas that is denying the people of Gaza those hospitals, those generators the fuel. It's there for them to take.
BLITZER: I should point out, Mark, that the U.N. relief agency today said Hamas has never stolen fuel from their warehouses, to the best of their knowledge. Are there any circumstances under which Israel would allow more fuel into Gaza?
REGEV: We'd have to have very ironclad guarantees that that fuel is only going to be used for civilian purposes. And it's very difficult for anyone serious to give that guarantee because Hamas has a pattern of behavior of requisitioning or stealing, you choose the word, Wolf, humanitarian supplies that come into the Gaza Strip.
And if you don't mind saying, it was the U.N. itself that tweeted that people with weapons that come and taken the fuel and then they deleted the tweet. Now, they said it was a mistake, it was a misunderstanding. I don't think anyone seriously believes that.
Everyone knows that all the humanitarian groups working in Gaza work in the framework of a very authoritarian and brutal regime. The people of Gaza know that better than anyone else.
BLITZER: Mark Regev, thanks so much for joining us.
REGEV: My pleasure, Wolf.
BLITZER: We'll be right back with more news.
BLITZER: Finally, an update from a Palestinian-American trapped in Gaza whom I spoke with this week. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
ABOOD OKAL, PALESTINIAN-AMERICAN TRAPPED IN GAZA WITH WIFE AND 1-YEAR- OLD SON: Airstrikes have intensified the last few days and especially last night. It's become constant all night for and most of the day. My son was not able to sleep, Yousef.
We've been trying to soothe him as much as possible and keep him shielded from the wrath of the war. Unfortunately, yesterday, we ran out of milk for him. We opened the last box and basically tonight, we will be completely out. It would be his first night ever in his entire life to go to sleep without having milk.
All it takes is one missile, one airstrike to miss its target or be too close to where you are, and that has happened before where we are staying. And that would be it.
We're trying to stay strong, but we cannot help but feel hopeless and abandoned given it's been 18 days and yet no concrete help from the State Department to get us out of Gaza. We are staying in Rafah, about ten minutes away from the borders with Egypt. This way we are prepared for initial notice by the State Department to head towards Rafah crossing where we can cross to Egypt and exit Gaza.
We are hopeful that we'll live another day to see that happen.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BLITZER: And we, of course, wish Abood Okal and his family safety and hope they get out soon.
Thanks very much for watching.
"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.