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The Source with Kaitlan Collins
IDF On Civilian Toll From Strike On Gaza Refugee Camp: "Tragedy Of War"; FBI Chief: Israel-Hamas War Increased Threat Of Attack Against Americans; Trump And His Adult Children To Testify In NY Fraud Case. Aired 9-10p ET
Aired October 31, 2023 - 21:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: For information, on how to help the humanitarian efforts, in Israel and Gaza, CNN's Impact Your World has gathered a list of vetted organizations, on the ground, responding to the crisis. Go to CNN.com/Impact. You can also text the word, RELIEF, to the number 707070.
The news continues. "THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS" starts now.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to the source. I'm Jake Tapper, live, from Tel Aviv, in for Kaitlan Collins.
And tonight, Israel is further attempting, to defend to the massive strike, on the largest refugee camp, in Gaza, densely populated with civilians.
Israel saying it was targeting a top Hamas commander, who was quote, "Pivotal," to the planning and execution, of the October 7th terrorist attack, on Israel, someone who was, quote, "Actively coordinating," and leading combat activities against Israeli forces.
Israel says dozens of other Hamas terrorists were also killed, at the Jabaliya camp, in northern Gaza, the IDF saying they do not know how many civilians were killed. It says Palestinians were notified, to leave the area, through weeks of leaflets, social media and radio warnings.
Here's what a spokesman told my colleague, Wolf Blitzer, earlier today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LT. COL. RICHARD HECHT, IDF INTERNATIONAL SPOKESMAN: This is the tragedy of war, Wolf. I mean, we, as you know, we've been saying for days, "Move south."
We're doing everything we can to minimize, I'll tell -- I'll say again. Sadly, they're hiding themselves within civilian population.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: One eyewitness, telling CNN, quote, "It felt like the end of the world," unquote. You can see a giant crater, in the ground, there, and devastation.
This comes as the FBI Director, in the United States, warned Congress, today, that this war has raised the threat of an attack, in America, quote, to a whole other level. We'll have much more on that in a moment.
But first, I want to get straight to CNN's Nada Bashir, who's live in Jerusalem, for us, following this Israeli strike, on the Gaza refugee camp.
Nada, what more do we know, about civilian casualties, in this IDF strike?
NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, Jake, at this stage, they are, the authorities in Gaza, are still trying to confirm the extent of the civilian casualties, that we have seen, as a result of this Israeli airstrike, on the Jabaliya refugee camp.
We've heard from doctors, on the ground, who have been speaking, throughout the day, saying that they have seen hundreds of both dead and injured, being brought into hospitals, in the area. The scenes that have been described, the videos that have emerged, from the aftermath, of this attack, of this airstrike, have been horrifying, to say the least.
We've heard from one doctor, at the Indonesian Hospital, nearby the Jabaliya refugee camp, who has said that they have had bodies, corpses, being brought to the hospital, dismembered and charred, that children have been brought in, without their parents, wondering where they are.
And, of course, at this stage, they are still trying to confirm the extent of the death toll. There are many people, still buried beneath the rubble. It is important to note that authorities have said that at least 20 residential buildings, in the Jabaliya refugee camp were completely destroyed.
We've seen the videos, of the destruction, huge craters in the ground, buildings completely destroyed, rescue workers, working alongside civilians, trying to dig through the rubble, hopeful that they will find survivors. But as we know, as we have seen, for more than three weeks now, in these cases, there are fewer survivors.
And we have heard, from Doctors Without Borders, they have condemned this airstrike, by the IDF.
They have issued a testimony, from one of their nurses, working around the Jabaliya refugee camp, saying "Young children arrived at the hospital with deep wounds and severe burns. They came without their families. Many were screaming and asking for their parents. I stayed with them until we could find a place, as the hospital was full with patients."
Now, we have seen, of course, and heard from doctors, that these hospitals are simply at capacity. We've heard the warnings, from the United Nations. The hospitals, across the Gaza Strip, not just in the north, are, in their words, hanging on by a thread.
And we have seen those airstrikes, over the last week, edging closer and closer, towards at least four hospitals, in Gaza. So, there is significant concern, around the humanitarian situation, when it comes to Gaza's healthcare sector.
They are simply overwhelmed. And following this airstrike, on the Jabaliya refugee camp, we have seen corpses, lined up, shrouded bodies, outside the hospitals, because there is simply no room left, in the morgues.
TAPPER: And the IDF spokesperson held a news briefing, a few hours ago, attempting to defend the strike, saying that the goal was to kill a top Hamas commander.
Did the IDF explain why that strike had to be launched now?
BASHIR: Well, look, from the outset of this war, Jake, the IDF has said it is targeting Hamas positions, inside the Gaza Strip. We heard today, they confirmed that they carried out this airstrike.
They say they targeted successfully, in their words, a Hamas senior commander, that we heard, from Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, who spoke earlier, giving a statement, saying that this senior Hamas commander was, according to the IDF, orchestrating, leading planning a active combat, against the IDF, as that airstrike took place. That is the explanation that has been given, with regards to the timing.
Of course, as you mentioned there, the IDF has attempted to defend its actions. They say, they are targeting Military position, they are targeting Hamas targets. But as I have seen, for more than three weeks now, the civilian toll is immense, to say the least.
The IDF says it has warned civilians, in northern Gaza, to evacuate. We've heard those warnings now, for some time.
But as we know, according to people, on the ground, according to rights groups, according to medical staff, at hospitals, in northern Gaza, there are many people, who cannot evacuate southwards, as per the orders, the warnings, of the IDF.
And of course, as we know, those airstrikes are also continuing in southern Gaza. The safe spaces that have been designated, including U.N. schools, are simply at capacity. And for many families, in northern Gaza, they tell us there is nowhere to turn.
TAPPER: All right. Nada Bashir, thank you so much. Appreciate it.
Let's bring in, right now, retired Army General, Joseph Votel, former U.S. CENTCOM Commander. He oversaw Military operations, in the Middle East.
General, thanks so much, for joining us.
An IDF spokesperson, told Anderson Cooper, last hour, that the top Hamas commander was under the refugee camp, in his bunker complex, and that he is confirmed to have been killed.
Given how specific that information is, what does that tell you about Israel's intelligence capability, below ground? And does that justify, in your view, a strike on a refugee camp?
GEN. JOSEPH L. VOTEL (RET.), FORMER COMMANDER OF U.S. CENTRAL COMMAND: Well, thanks. It's great to be with you.
I think what it tells us is that Israel, as I think, we've known, has had a very good intelligence capability, over a number of years. And while there was a setback, here, on 7th of October, they seem to have -- they seem to be recovering from that. So clearly, they have a good understanding, of where Hamas is operating from, and are trying to target those locations.
Whether or not this is the value of striking this target, was worth the risk, to civilians, I think will be something that will have to be determined, in the hours and days ahead. Certainly, it doesn't look great. It doesn't help messaging for the Israelis. But all the details are not in, all the facts are not known. And I, and many others, look forward to hearing that, from the Israeli Defense Forces.
TAPPER: A different IDF spokesperson called civilian casualties, a tragedy of war. Wolf Blitzer pressed him on that. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST, THE SITUATION ROOM WITH WOLF BLITZER: You knew there were civilians there. You knew there were refugees, all sorts of refugees. But you decided to still drop a bomb, on that refugee camp, attempting to kill this Hamas commander.
By the way, was he killed?
HECHT: I can't confirm yet. There'll be more updated. He has -- we know that he was killed.
About the civilians there, we're doing everything we can to minimize, I'll tell -- I'll say again. Sadly, they're hiding themselves within civilian population. And again, we're doing this stage by stage. And we're going to go after every one of these terrorists, who was involved in that heinous attack, on the 7th of October.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: How does a Military make an assessment, as to whether civilian casualties are worth the target, when it comes to a high-value terrorist commander, in this case, somebody responsible, for the October 7th attacks, which obviously were so devastating, for this country?
The calculation by Israel, I understand, is the attacks were so devastating and so consequential, the government, the Military, of Israel, with tremendous public support, in Israel, has decided that they cannot allow Hamas, to ever do that again.
But how do you make -- how does a General make the calculation, these civilian casualties, while regrettable, are worth it, because we have to get Hamas?
L. VOTEL: Well, professional militaries, like the United States, Israel, many of our, all of our partners that we operate with, all operate under the Law of Armed Conflict.
And that requires that we adhere to certain principles, the Military necessity of the target, the distinctiveness of the target, and the proportionality of the means that are being used with this. And these always have to be put into careful consideration, as we look at targets.
And, of course, the overriding principle here is to avoid effects, on civilians. And though that can be accomplished, in a variety of different ways, as the Israeli spokesman mentioned, but it has to be a constant process. And there has to be extraordinary intelligence and surveillance, to make sure that you are going to accomplish the Military mission, without inflicting unnecessary civilian casualties, on this.
The determination on whether to accept the risk of civilian casualties, one, at least in our system, is often reserved, to our civilian leaders. And we go through a very deliberate process, for this. I would imagine the Israelis are doing the same thing. I hope that they are. I think that's what the situation requires.
But certainly, I think, this highlights the complexity, and the challenge, of operating, in this extraordinary environment that is Gaza, where you have an enemy, operating in a three-dimensional way, above the surface, on the surface, below the surface. You have -- they're integrated on among the population, in some cases, using the population, to cover and protect them. So, it just highlights the complexity and the challenge of this situation.
TAPPER: Obviously, when Hamas, which is the government of Gaza, we should remind our viewers, when they launched the attack, on October 7th, they had to have anticipated, that the IDF, that the Israeli government would retaliate.
In your experience, commanding U.S. forces, what is the degree to which, al Qaeda, ISIS, any other terrorist group that U.S. forces were fighting, what is the extent to which they embedded, in civilian populations, compared to the degree that Hamas does?
Because Hamas does it, quite a bit, to the degree that they actually have, not only according to Israeli intelligence, but U.S. intelligence, command and control centers, embedded in actual hospitals. L. VOTEL: Yes, I think, in this situation, certainly Hamas has had a number of years, or decades, to embed, among the population, in Gaza, intermarrying (ph), and being woven into the threads, of the society, the community, they're doing everything into this. So, they've certainly had a lot of opportunity, to get integrated into the civilian population.
We certainly saw this with ISIS. They didn't have as much time to do this. And I wouldn't characterize them, as a government, although they tried to think of themselves as a government. They didn't really represent the people, as I don't think Hamas does either.
And our operations were really focused against them, to dislodge them, to destroy their ability, to hold the caliphate that they had declared, and to render them, ineffective, as a Military force.
And this is what -- this is what Israel is trying to do as well. And, of course, it's so complex, by this extraordinary environment that we're seeing in Gaza.
TAPPER: General Votel, thank you so much, for your time, and expertise, this evening. We appreciate it.
Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, will return, here, to Israel, on Friday, for meetings, with members of the Israeli government. And he will make other unannounced stops, in the region.
His first visit came shortly after the attacks, three and a half weeks ago. Much has happened since then, sometimes a week's worth of news in just a day. So perhaps, it's understandable that some people have forgotten, just how vicious and shocking, the massacre was, by the terrorist group, Hamas, on innocent families.
Secretary of State Blinken, today, testifying today, about funding for Israel, arguing that no country, no country, in the world, in his view, would tolerate what Israel suffered, noting, quote, "Young people chased down and gunned down at a dance party... Children executed in front of their parents, parents executed in front of their children, families in a final embrace, burned alive, people beheaded."
And then, he shared one shocking story, of one family, from that day. And fair warning, it is a painful story to hear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: A family of four. A young boy and girl, 6- and 8-years-old, and their parents around the breakfast table. The father, his eye gouged out in front of his kids. The mother's breast cut off, the girl's foot amputated, the boy's fingers cut off before they were executed.
And then their executioner sat down and had a meal. That's what the society is dealing with.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Secretary Blinken then repeated himself that in his view, no nation, no nation, would tolerate that, while emphasizing that it is imperative to do everything possible, to protect civilians.
Blinken went on to stress that Hamas, quote, cynically and monstrously hides behind civilians, putting its own fighters, and weapons, and command centers, beneath places, such as schools and hospitals.
Blinken reiterating his position, and the position of the Biden administration, that quote, "Israel has not only the right, but the obligation to defend itself, and to try to take every possible step, to make sure this doesn't happen again," unquote.
Back home, very concerning warnings, about threats to America, since this war broke out. The FBI Director describing them as threats, on a, quote, "Whole other level," specifically warning about quote, "Historic levels," of anti-Semitism, in the U.S.
And yet another showdown, looming within the Republican Party, with the new Speaker of the House, vowing, to separate aid for Israel, from Ukraine aid, in a standalone bill, one that could be dead on arrival, in the Senate. That's ahead.
TAPPER: Breaking tonight, we're learning more, about that person in custody, in connection with the violent threats, against Jewish students, at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York.
The Justice Department says a 21-year-old junior, at Cornell, named Patrick Dai, was arrested, today, on a federal criminal complaint, and charged with posting threats, to kill or injure another, using interstate communications. According to the Feds, Dai threatened to shoot up a mainly kosher dining hall on campus, among other things. He is expected to make his initial appearance, in federal court, tomorrow.
This coming, as the FBI Director, Christopher Wray, issued a dire warning, telling Congress that the war between Israel and Hamas has raised the threat of an attack, against Americans, and the United States, to a whole other level.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, FBI DIRECTOR: Here in the United States, our most immediate concern is that violent extremists, individuals or small groups, will draw inspiration from the events in the Middle East to carry out attacks against Americans going about their daily lives.
It is a time to be concerned. We are in a dangerous period.
(END VIDEO CLIP) TAPPER: At home and abroad, FBI Director, Wray, said, the risk of violent extremism is higher, than at any point, since the rise of ISIS.
I want to bring in Michael Leiter, the former Director of the National Counterterrorism Center.
Michael, good to see you.
What about -- what do we know, about who these threats are coming from? And how did this war, between Hamas and Israel, exacerbate and fuel the situation?
MICHAEL LEITER, FORMER DIRECTOR, NATIONAL COUNTERTERRORISM CENTER: Thanks, Jake.
I think Chris Wray's use of words was very careful, today. And what he was really focused on is those that were, in his words, inspired by the conflict.
And that's important because the FBI and Homeland Security are not principally focused on either Hamas, or even Hezbollah based in Lebanon, launching some organized attack, in the United States.
But they do know that this conflict is absolutely setting fire, to what was already a rising tide, of anti-Semitism, and anti-Muslim sentiment, in the U.S. And over the past several years, anti-Semitic events, attacks, speech, physical attacks, have increased significantly.
And again, since October 7th, and the Hamas attack at Israel, and Israel's response, those threats, those acts of violence, they have increased not just here, in the United States, but really around the world.
TAPPER: So Director Wray says anti-Semitism is reaching historic levels. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WRAY: The reality is that the Jewish community is uniquely, uniquely targeted by pretty much every terrorist organization, across the spectrum.
And when you look at a group that makes up 2.4 percent roughly, of the American population, it should be jarring to everyone that that same population accounts for something like 60 percent of all religious- based hate crimes. And so, they need our help.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: How does the intelligence community even begin to take on these threats, which as Director Wray himself noted already existed, but are now on the rise seemingly left, right and center, when it comes to extremist groups? LEITER: This is a really hard task for them. And it's not that they haven't had to do this before. We've seen these attacks, whether it was Tree of Life, in Pittsburgh, or other attacks, around the country.
But what makes it so hard is the scale of this, especially on social media. So, the FBI, working with Homeland Security, and state and local law enforcement, really are focused on social media, because that's where you first see the indicators, of the violent speech.
And then, the hard part is to figure out who those people are, and try to link them, to real world people, and then to try to predict what speech might turn into action, like what we saw in Cornell, you just reported on. I think that's a very hard step to take.
So what I think the FBI is doing, and needs to do more of, is work extremely closely, with communities, both Jewish and Muslim communities, across the United States, so, they themselves can both keep their eyes out, but also harden their own targets.
Make sure that they do have proper security, make sure that local Police increase security patrols, around synagogues, and mosques, and community centers, because these have been historically and likely will be, again, the places that are most likely to be targeted, in the United States.
TAPPER: And a lot of these threats are obviously anonymous. And they're online, quite a few. And it can be tough to differentiate, between a serious situation, somebody who actually will act, and some twit, who's just working out whatever issues they already had, in the comfort of their mom's basement.
How worried should communities be, if they see something that seems like a threat? How worried should they be that it will actually become physical danger?
LEITER: This is such a hard part of intelligence and law enforcement, especially when it's focused here, in the United States, because, of course, people do have First Amendment speech rights, to say really stupid things. They don't have the right to threaten violence. And they certainly don't have the right to act on that violence.
But the volume, on social media, has gone up so much, since October 7th, it's getting increasingly hard, for officials, to actually track it all down. So, I think, the advice that Director Wray and others have given is exactly right. If communities see this, they shouldn't take the risk. They should report it right away.
Because being able to actually identify those who, as you said, are in the basement, and just feeling hate, and will act on it? And knowing who will pick up a gun or use a car or explosives, and try to hurt people? That's really, really hard.
And that's why we need law enforcement to be ticked off. But we also just need communities, to be very aware, and make -- really take that protection thing on, even if they don't see anything. They have to be ready, for these terrible situations.
Because unfortunately, we do know, and there's enough of this speech up there, it will eventually manifest itself into violence. And given what we see going on, in the ground, on Israel and Gaza, I don't think this is going to end anytime soon.
TAPPER: Michael Leiter, thank you so much. Good to see you, again.
Coming up, not only growing anti-Semitism, as Mike just mentioned, but also growing Islamophobia. My next guest writes American Muslims are now in a painful, familiar place, and says the lessons of 9/11 have apparently been forgotten, completely. Stay with us.
TAPPER: The nation's largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization says it has received nearly 800 complaints, of Islamophobic incidents, since Hamas' brutal attack, against Israel, on October 7.
In her latest New York Times Op-Ed, titled "American Muslims Are in a Painful, Familiar Place," my next guest writes, quote, "It seems the lessons of September 11th have been forgotten from college campuses to places of work, people are facing retribution for expressing support for Palestinians that is being misconstrued as anti-Israel or pro- Hamas," unquote.
And joining me now is Rozina Ali, a Contributing Writer, for the New York Times Magazine. She covers topics such as the War on Terror, Islamophobia, and the Middle East.
Rozina, thanks for joining us.
So, you referenced how the Muslim community was treated post 9/11, in the U.S. And you write the surveillance, the targeting and fear Muslim Americans experienced, was tied to what the U.S. was doing abroad.
Quote, "As the United States invaded first Afghanistan and then Iraq, both wars that wrought devastating civilian casualties and paved the way for political chaos, the public perception of Muslims in America plummeted to new lows," unquote.
What do you think are some of the lessons that the U.S. is forgetting about 9/11?
ROZINA ALI, JOURNALIST AND GUEST ESSAYIST, NEW YORK TIMES OPINION: Yes, well, thanks so much, for having me on, Jake.
I think there are a few things that happened after 9/11. One, there was an increase in violence, against Muslims. But two, there was a growing suspicion of Islam itself.
And the third is that there were government policies that, despite their best intentions, ended up discriminating against Muslims. There was a national registry in 2002. There was widespread FBI surveillance. And there is what people have been hearing is that there is a clamoring for more of that now.
TAPPER: There was a 6-year-old Palestinian American boy, horrible, horrible incident, Wadea Al-Fayoume, he was stabbed to death, on October 14th. The suspect has been charged with a hate crime, for his murder. It's a terrifying example. We know that the murderer listened to a lot of conservative talk radio, right-wing talk radio.
I know that you're concerned about members of the Muslim community. But not only about them, but how the Administration is handling this.
I think one of the big problems, and this goes to the, to anti- Semitism as well, is that so much communications, right now, whether it's online, or talk radio, or cable, frankly? Certain -- a certain channel that I'm thinking of, in particular, not this one. The incentive structure is for hate.
ALI: Yes. Yes, definitely. I mean, yes. I will also say, you know, that -- so, I decided to write this piece. And I'm coming at this, as a journalist, who's reported on the War on Terror, and Islamophobia, for years.
And I should say that the Muslim community is not the same as the Palestinian community. But there is a lot of overlap between these two groups. And the rhetoric about Palestine has had a palatable effect, on Muslim Americans.
So, I completely agree with you. There's a lot of rhetoric around hate. But there's also been a lot of rhetoric that has otherized Palestinians. And that has actually generated, brought fear and suspicion of both the Palestinian American community and the Muslim American community.
TAPPER: Yes. And what that horrible act, the guy, that, murdered the little boy, in Chicago, all that crazy rhetoric, about the Day of Rage?
TAPPER: He was convinced he had to act, because there was so much ignorance, and so much nonsense out there.
And again, the incentive structure for hate was out there. And in a feeble mind, that can really be very powerful.
ALI: Absolutely. And I think it really speaks to the need, for more nuanced voices, for different voices, for more nuanced reporting, and across the board, in media, but also, just kind of the rhetoric that's coming out, from policymakers, too.
I mean, in my interviews, with people, the thing that they kept telling me, over and over again, is that they feel isolated. They feel isolated, from the broader American community, but also because they're not necessarily seeing a level of understanding, or outreach, from politicians, or from this White House.
TAPPER: Rozina Ali, thank you so much, for coming on, tonight. Let's have you on more. Good to see you. Thank you so much.
ALI: Thank you.
TAPPER: Today, on Capitol Hill, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of Defense, pressed a divided Congress, to urgently pass, not only requested aid for Israel, but requested aid for Ukraine, and to do so, combined.
But the new Speaker of the House, Republican, Mike Johnson, now teeing up a showdown, with the Democratic-controlled Senate, leaving help for these two American allies, uncertain. And we're going to talk about that next.
TAPPER: Tonight, divisions in Congress are putting future aid to Israel at risk.
The new House Speaker, Mike Johnson, is working towards a vote, on a standalone aid package for Israel, later this week, worth $14.3 billion that would be paid for, with funding cuts to the IRS, a top target for many Republicans.
But it's what is being left out of Speaker Johnson's bill that makes it a non-starter, for Senate Democrats, and also some Senate Republicans, and that is additional aid for Ukraine.
Here to discuss the political battle is Jamal Simmons, a former Communications Director to Vice President Harris; and Scott Jennings, former Senior Adviser to Mitch McConnell.
Scott, even if this bill passes in the House, Senate Democrats, along with your old boss, Mitch McConnell, had basically said, it's dead on arrival, in the Senate.
Is Speaker Johnson wasting his time here? What's the end game?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, from the perspective of it's his first big thing to do, as the new Speaker? So, if you consider it like he's trying to do a team building exercise, and try to get the Republicans together, on something, even if it's just for messaging purposes? I guess it's not a useless exercise.
But your point is correct. It's not going to go anywhere in the Senate, because I suspect Schumer wouldn't put something on the floor that his own party doesn't support. And I think President Biden has even said he would veto that.
So, I think it's a starting position for Johnson. But the ending position here is a deal has to be cut. And there's a heck of a lot of Republicans, who want it all Israel, Ukraine, replenish American supplies, and also secure the border. And I suspect that's where we'll wind up.
But I'm not surprised, this is where Johnson started. Because it's what a lot of his Conference wants him to do.
TAPPER: And Jamal, even if the House were to ultimately buckle and include some Ukraine aid, with the Israel aid, it's possible they could keep the IRS cuts. What then would Democrats have to consider, the IRS cuts?
JAMAL SIMMONS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Jake, before our coming in here, tonight, I spent about an hour, with my kids, doing trick or treating, right? And then, I spent another bunch of minutes with them, explaining why they can't have all the candy, tonight, before they go to bed.
One of the tough parts about being a leader is getting the people, in your caucus, to understand that, your friends, allies, followers, that they can't have all the -- they can't have all the candy, even though they just won.
That is the challenge, for Speaker Johnson, now. He's got to sort of explain to them, as a statesman, what's important to do. And it's not just about the, small politics of getting elected Speaker. This is about the security and the future of the nation, our allies and our opponents, who are looking to see whether or not we're going to stand up against them.
So, as for the IRS, I do think that President Biden has already said, very clearly, he's not going to accept the package that Speaker Johnson put up, today. They had a statement of Administration policy, tonight. I think we're going to see a big fight -- or we're going to see a fight, from the White House, on this one.
TAPPER: Scott, in the Senate, Republicans are divided, about leaving Ukraine funding out. Listen to what we heard today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): They should be dealt with together.
SEN. ERIC SCHMITT (R-MO): We ought to separate it.
SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Not acceptable to abandon Ukraine.
SEN. RICK SCOTT (R-FL): Speaker Johnson's been clear. He is going to not put Ukraine aid together with aid for Israel. And I completely agree with him.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: How should Leader McConnell be handling these divisions, in his own party?
JENNINGS: Well, of course, he's not setting the agenda. It'll be Chuck Schumer, who decides what goes on to the floor. And even though Republicans may be divided, there's a strong bipartisan majority, in the Senate, to do everything, to help Ukraine, to help Israel, and maybe even to get some money, down to the border, which is in sore need of, of some attention down there.
So, when you look at it from that perspective, I think, McConnell's position is, "I don't know why we can't do it all. We're America. We're a big country. We can help our friends and help ourselves." There'll be some Republicans, who don't want to do that. I think there's more of them in the House than in the Senate.
But he's made quite clear he wants it all, border security, Ukraine, Israel, and some of the Ukraine obviously, is to replenish our own supplies. And so, I don't see him, Jake, wavering from that position.
Although, I do think they are watching the House vote on the Israel- only bill very closely. If that thing were to, fail narrowly, or pass narrowly, I don't think it would change Democrats' minds. But if it were to jailbreak, and a bunch of Democrats supported that, I could see that possibly shifting the political dynamic, in the Senate. But I find it unlikely.
TAPPER: Jamal, Democrats are dealing with their own riffs as well.
Congresswoman Cori Bush is facing criticism, after accusing Israel, of engaging in an "Ethnic cleansing campaign."
Democratic Minority Leader, Hakeem Jeffries, responded to her comment, on CNN, today, saying quote, "Israel is not conducting an ethnic cleansing campaign. Israel is not engaged in genocide," unquote.
What do you make of the tensions, and divisions, inside the Democratic caucus?
SIMMONS: There are real tensions and divisions inside the caucus, just like there are tensions and divisions, inside the country.
But the majority of Democrats, the majority of Democrats, and the elected Democrats in the House, obviously the White House, the Senate, are for supporting Israel, and for making sure that Israel is going to do what it takes to protect itself.
Now, at the same time, I think we saw this, from Secretary Blinken, today, they want to make sure Israel is following international law. They're protecting civilians, as much as possible.
So, it is possible. And this is a very important point for, I think, a lot of Democrats, who are feeling queasy about this, to me, that you can go after Hamas, and talk about Hamas. That does not mean that you are against Palestinians. At the same time -- so, Democrats have to begin to sort of make the point, very clearly, about who it is that's being targeted.
TAPPER: Jamal Simmons, and Scott Jennings, thanks to both you. Appreciate it.
Up next, Donald Trump Jr. expected to take the stand, tomorrow, at his father's civil fraud trial. He'll be followed by two of his siblings, and eventually by Donald Trump himself. What to expect from the Trumps, and the scramble to save their business empire? Stay with us.
TAPPER: Donald Trump Jr. is expected to take the stand, tomorrow, the first of the former President's adult children, to testify in the civil fraud trial, against the Trump Organization.
Over the next seven days, Don Jr., Eric Trump, Donald Trump himself, and Ivanka Trump, could all be pressed, on inflated financial statements that the company allegedly used, to obtain more favorable loans. The case could determine the future of Trump's New York businesses.
Joining us now, CNN's Senior Legal Analyst, Elie Honig, former Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Elie, first, do the Trump children have to testify?
ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: They do, Jake.
If this was a criminal case, a prosecutor can never force a defendant to testify.
But because this is a civil case, the plaintiff here, the New York State Attorney General, can issue a subpoena, which is mandatory, which requires a defendant in this case, Eric Trump's a defendant, Donald Trump Jr. is a defendant, to testify.
Their only other option though Jake, is they can take the Fifth. They can invoke the Fifth Amendment, and refuse to testify. But if they do that, under New York State law, the judge can consider that against them. The judge can essentially say, "I'm going to assume the worst about what your testimony would have done." So there's risk either way here.
TAPPER: So, they take the Fifth, the judge just assumes that they have incriminated themselves, to all sorts of crimes?
HONIG: Exactly. That's the way it could work, under New York State law. It's up to the judge. He can say, "I assume that your testimony would have been bad for you here in this civil case."
But the risk of testifying, in my view, is even greater, Jake, because if they take the stand, anything they do say, can be used against them, in any future criminal prosecution.
Now, yes, various prosecutors have looked at this case, and declined to charge it criminally. But the worry, from their point of view, is prosecutors can always revisit that, and hear something perhaps in testimony, and say, "Wait, let's reopen this." And to me, the biggest risk they're facing here is the potential of some sort of criminal liability.
TAPPER: What are prosecutors hoping to learn from Eric and from Don Jr., both of whom worked at the Trump Organization?
HONIG: So, with all the drama and personalities that are sort of coming in and out of this courtroom, the core issue here, in this lawsuit, is did the Trump Organization intentionally over-inflate the value of their assets, and use those overinflated numbers, to get loans and to get other benefits that they were not entitled to?
And so, when we're looking at what is the substance of the testimony, going to be? The A.G.'s office, who are the plaintiffs, are going to allege, "You, the Trump children, you are in on this. You intentionally overstated the value in order to help your business."
And I suspect their testimony is going to be "No, we did not." There is some subjectivity in the value of these assets. And there's some sort of inherent value in the brand name here.
Now, the judge has already rejected that, in part. He's already found that the inflations here were so vast, that they cannot be justified. But that's going to be the battleground, when the members of the Trump family take the stand.
TAPPER: So, I'm told there's kind of a different situation with Ivanka Trump, and her testimony. Why is that?
HONIG: So, she's trying to resist having to testify, because she says she was -- correctly, she has said, "I was dismissed out of this case as a defendant." She got herself removed from this case, because the allegations relating to her are too old in time. That's a big win for her.
But now Ivanka Trump's lawyers are arguing, "Well, she's not a defendant, she shouldn't have to testify." She's appealing that now. I think she's going to lose that appeal. Because being a defendant is different than being a witness.
The question as to whether Ivanka Trump has to be a witness is does she have relevant information here? The A.G.'s office alleges that Ivanka Trump was involved in a transaction, involving one of Donald Trump's hotels, in Washington, D.C., and they say she has relevant information.
So, I believe she's going to lose her appeal. And I believe she will be made to take the stand and testify.
TAPPER: So, there is this former Morgan Stanley executive, who testified today, that back when Trump was trying to buy the Buffalo Bills football team, he sends a letter, claiming that his net worth was $8 billion.
And then, in a meeting, with the Buffalo Bills management, Trump handed out a Forbes article, of the top-paid entertainers, to backup that claim.
Does this sort of testimony bolster what the prosecutors are alleging?
HONIG: It does, Jake. That's the heart of this case, that the inflations of value here, where not 10 percent, 20 percent, were not a matter of judgment. But were so over the top that they cannot be defended that they classify as fraud. And using a Forbes magazine, or any magazine article, to justify your net worth does not cut it, in a court case.
TAPPER: Elie Honig, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.
HONIG: Thanks, Jake.
TAPPER: Coming up next, the House returns from recess, tomorrow, with a load, on its plate. But the first order of business, some "Capitol" punishment. I'll explain, next.
TAPPER: Expect a busy day, on Capitol Hill, tomorrow, when the House of Representatives returns to business, but not with votes to help make America safer, or to prevent a government shutdown.
There is expected to be a trifecta of censure and expulsion resolutions, brought to the floor. For the second time, the House will consider expelling indicted Republican congressman, George Santos.
There's also the censure resolution against another Republican, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, of Georgia, to condemn her for alleged hate speech and posts.
And then, there is the one against Democrat, Rashida Tlaib, Congresswoman of Michigan, introduced by Marjorie Taylor Greene, to try to censure Tlaib, for remarks, about Israel, and her support for an anti-Israel protest.
Thank you for joining us.
"CNN NEWS NIGHT" with Abby Phillip starts now.