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State of the Race with Kasie Hunt
Freed Hostage Speaks Out about Kidnapping & Captivity; Former Trump Campaign Lawyer Jenna Ellis Pleads Guilty in Georgia Election Subversion Case; Ex-Trump Attorney Ellis Pleads Guilty in Georgia Election Case; Republicans Meeting to Select Speaker Nominee; Blinken: Two-State Solution is only Path to Peace; U.S. Republicans Work to Pick New Speaker Nominee. Aired 11a-12p ET
Aired October 24, 2023 - 11:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
KAISE HUNT, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE RACE: Hello, everyone, I'm Kasie Hunt. Welcome to our viewers watching in the United States and around the world.
It is Tuesday, October 24, 11 am here in Washington, where right now House Republicans are meeting behind closed doors to try to pick their latest
nominee for Speaker.
It has been three weeks since the House had a Speaker and in those three weeks the House has accomplished exactly nothing. We're watching that story
and we will bring you live to Capitol Hill with the latest but we are going to start our coverage today in the Middle East.
Right now, new details from the harrowing ordeal have been an Israeli hostage released by Hamas went through. 85 year old Yocheved Lifshitz was
one of two hostages freed on Monday. Today, she described in vivid detail, the terrifying moments of her abduction.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
YOCHEVED LIFSHITZ, RELEASED ISRAELI HOSTAGE: It was a painful act. They brought us into a hatch of a tunnel on the way I was laying on the side on
the motorbike, legs to one side body to the other. The Shabaab were hitting me so they didn't break my ribs but it was very painful and made it
difficult for me to breathe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: You'll have Lifshitz's daughter speaking for her mother said she was moved into a huge network of tunnels. She says that her captors treated her
well and offered her medical attention. Today new questions about whether Israel may delay a ground invasion of Gaza in hopes of getting more
President Joe Biden says all the hostages should be released before the start of ceasefire negotiations, this morning, Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu with this warning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Hamas is responsible for civilian casualties, but we will do every effort to avoid them. And to
fight this war as speedily and as rapidly as we can, but it could be a long war.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Alright, let's dive into this with today's panel. CNN Political and National Security Analyst David Sanger, also National Security
Correspondent for The New York Times, Seth Jones, Senior Vice President and Director of the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic
and International Studies and Susan Page, the Washington Bureau Chief for USA today.
Thank you all for being here. And, you know, Seth, I want to start with you, because it obviously was a very dramatic news conference this morning.
I watched it live actually in the 5 am, hour. And the reality was the she's 85 years old, right. And she was talking both about the security failures
on the part of the Israelis.
And I'll play in a second where she criticized the IDF. But she also talked about the terrifying moments when she was taken and then the way she was
treated when she was in the hands of Hamas. And she did say that they were almost friendly at one point.
And you know I spoke with some people in the immediate aftermath who suggested that this was something that was a remarkable, almost PR move by
Hamas. You are somebody who I mean you've been to Gaza. You've been in all sorts of stressful situations in the region. What were your takeaways from
watching this unfold this morning?
SETH JONES, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT AT CENTER FOR STRATEGIC & INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: Well, there were a couple of things. First, is I mean, at the core
of this, it's a terrible situation, just the killing of individuals and the taking of hostages. I don't think we can lose sight of the fact that Hamas
did a terrible barbaric activity here.
The second thing is, you know, this is not entirely unusual for hostage situations where individuals when they come into captivity are given
medical attention. Those that are going to be released, I mean, in this case, are treated reasonably well. And there is an effort by groups like
And we've seen others do this to treat this as a public relations stunt. So it might affect people's perception of them. But again, go back to my first
point I think it's really important not to lose sight of just the terrible action that Hamas took to do this.
HUNT: No, of course. And I you know, I think kind of watching her and you're really very struck by just the human element. I mean, David Sanger,
it sounds like, you know, as we kind of learn more, and we watched the Israelis continue to hold off on the operation into Gaza.
Can you help us understand a little bit about what's going on behind the scenes in your reporting in terms of the conversations the Israelis are
having with the Americans about the timing of this and how it relates to the hostages?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, Kasie, at every stage here, the administration has tried to move to slow the Israelis
down and get them to answer a series of questions. Get them to answer them because they didn't want to be seen to be telling them what to do.
Obviously given the horror that, Seth, just described here and what we've heard from the released hostages. Israel has a right here to retaliate to
go deal with Hamas. But as you heard Secretary Blinken say repeatedly when he was in the region last week, how they do it is important.
So the questions have all been about how they do it. And those questions have been have you thought through how you're going to avoid getting into
the kind of urban warfare that we saw in Mosul and Fallujah? Have you thought through if you were successful, how you would rule the Gaza?
Because Israel left there 16 years ago for a reason, right? They didn't want to be running it. Who would run it? Have you thought through how
you're going to deal with the hostages, because the moment the ground action begins, all negotiations to get hostages out ends? So these were all
really tough questions.
And then what you've seen the administration do is make sure that there was an American or one of the key allies in Israel at all times pressing these
issues every day. So first, it was Secretary Blinken, three times. The Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin was there, the President was there.
You saw the commander of U.S. Central Command, which is responsible for the Middle East, was there. And so they're just trying to make sure that every
single day, they're engaging the Israelis on this. And I think that's been successful in slowing them down eventually, I don't see an option other
than going in.
Because I don't think they can achieve their strategic objective here, which is eliminated Hamas just by doing sort of guerrilla actions or
individuals Special Operations Act.
HUNT: Right. And Susan Page, I mean, where does the administration line up or not line up with Netanyahu in terms of that overall strategic objective
that elimination of Hamas mean, obviously, we know, they're working very hard behind the scenes to try to free these hostages?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF FOR USA TODAY: So better relations with Netanyahu than we've had in the past. This is drawn the United States and
President Biden in alignment with Netanyahu in a way that he often has not been before. And you don't see daylight between them.
Now, what Netanyahu thinks behind the scenes about the U.S. constantly giving us consistent advice to take it slow to think it through, to learn
from our own lessons? You know, one way I think that the United States has tried to make this advice easier to take his right, casting it as mistakes
we have made in the past.
You know, I was struck in President Biden speech when he talked about the mistakes of 9/11 of going too far of blaming people who were not
responsible for that terrible terrorist attack. And so this is a way for us to be pretty close. We're pretty close. American support continues to be
pretty strong for Israel as well.
HUNT: Yes, know, incredibly so, let me play a little bit more of what the 85 year old woman who was held hostage, Ms. Lifshitz said about what she
saw. Remember, she lived in Southern Israel where all of this took place. Warning signs that she believed were missed. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LIFSHITZ: Lack of awareness by Shin Bet and IDF heard just a lot. They warned us three weeks beforehand, they burnt. It feels they sent fire
balloons and IDF did not treat it seriously.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Seth, what do you make of what she said there? These three weeks beforehand? They were worn she clearly feel some anger around this to
mention it. It's such a high profile setting.
JONES: Look, the Israelis have phenomenal intelligence. But I think the fact of the matter is that they missed this one and Shin Bet which has
responsibility for Gaza. And the West Bank will sod the external intelligence agency. And then Israeli Defense Intelligence, not just the
Israelis, the Americans missed this, too.
I mean, we the CIA collects NSA collects on Gaza and the West Bank. So I think there's some big questions on a, how was this missed? What changes
need to take place in how Israel the U.S. and others collect intelligence here? And you know what other steps I've heard, for example, that Iran
provided some help to Hamas on cyber defense.
So to what degree has Hamas learned on its operational security and other aspects as well? So I think there are some big lessons that need to come
out. We have 9/11 report that came out after 9/11. Israel's going to need to come out with something along those lines.
HUNT: Yes. I mean, David, what do you make of how the comments that she made are going to hit in Israel?
SANGER: You know what she's saying is whatever Israeli who you talk to who's pretty familiar with this will say it was for all the reasons, Seth,
just described a huge intelligence failure. It will be a while before they start up that investigation because they still have their military
HUNT: -- to do.
SANGER: Yes, it was a while before the United States started the 9/11 commission. It was a good deal of time before they cut back to that, the
moment will come. And parts of that are going to be all the questions about the intelligence agencies that Seth raised.
And a good part of that it's also going to be a political analysis of what Prime Minister Netanyahu missed during this time, he was focused intently
on the judicial reform, which was viewed widely as an effort to try to set the judiciary aside and give him and his government more powers.
They were focused on the settlements. They were thinking much more about the West Bank than they were thinking about Gaza. And the question will
come up did they take their eye off the ball? And, you know, at the end of the day, this happened on Prime Minister Netanyahu's watch.
And it will forever change the way his very long time as Prime Ministers come in different spirits will be viewed by history?
HUNT: Yes, Seth, very briefly. I mean, how do you think, you know, for Benjamin Netanyahu, the public sentiment is changing or not around the
imperative to go into Gaza, because immediately afterward there was this massive political imperative. Now there does seem to be more focus on we
need to do whatever it takes to get the hostages out. How do you think that's playing on the ground?
JONES: Well, having talked to a range of Israelis, including some IDF recently, I think the public sentiment is still to do David mentioned this
before, destroy Hamas actually don't think that's achievable. Frankly, Hamas has plenty of operatives well outside of Gaza, and the West Bank for
But still, for them to achieve anything close to that they have to put forces on the ground and do something inside of the tunnels, whether it's
operatives or explosives in those areas. You cannot conduct a war like this with such deep underground bunkers, what people call the Gaza Metro from
HUNT: Right, absolutely impossible. We heard I mean the spider web of tunnels, which was how the released hostage put it today. Alright, David,
Seth, thank you both very much for being here today. Susan is going to stay with us. And when we come back, we are going to switch gears and look at a
potentially big development in the Georgia election subversion case.
A guilty plea from Former Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis what it could mean for the Former President as the case pushes forward.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JENNA ELLIS, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: I believe in and I value election integrity, if I knew then what I know now, I would have declined
to represent Donald Trump in these post-election challenges. I look back on this whole experience with deep remorse.
For those failures of mine your Honor, I have taken responsibility already before the Colorado bar who censured me and I now take responsibility
before this court and apologize to people --
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: An emotional Jenna Ellis, the Former Campaign Lawyer for Donald Trump apologizing for her role in the Georgia election subversion case. She pled
guilty earlier today to aiding and abetting false statements. That's a felony, and she acknowledged her actions were intentional.
This comes on the heels of back to back guilty pleas from two other Trump associates charged in the election interference case. Let's bring in CNN,
Nick Valencia in Atlanta who had a significant scoop here. Nick we're the only reporter in the courtroom is my understanding. Can you just read us
into a little bit what it felt to be like there? What was the mood in the room?
Yes, it was tense and it was also very quiet. Kasie, you mentioned we were the only reporting team in the courtroom. Myself and two other producers
and that were because this was an impromptu unscheduled hearing. And you know Jenna Ellis was in the courtroom. I was seated right behind her.
And it was interesting because initially, it appeared as though she was being very dismissive of the accusations being read against her as -- with
the DHS office was standing in front of the court reading those off, and then in an unprecedented move, she got up and addressed open court.
And it was clear before she even opened her mouth that it was going to be an emotional apology, a very tearful statement, whatever she was going to
read to the court and that's exactly what happened. We don't know exactly the details of how this deal came together.
We had heard rumors last week that her team or defense team was in discussions with the district attorney's office as other co-defendants have
been since Sidney Powell and Ken Chesebro. And Scott Hall all took deals here. Those three co-defendants now, Jenna Ellis makes four and with every
deal that is cut.
It is a bombshell to the Defense of the Former President Donald Trump as it appears the walls of his defense appear to be crumbling with every deal cut
with the DHS office, huge win for the District Attorney's office here Fani Willis. And as part of her plea deal, Jenna Ellis like others who have
pleaded guilty here, she's going to avoid jail.
First of all, she's going to do five years of probation. She's going to have to pay a $5,000 fine, $100 of community service. But most importantly
here is that she is going to have to testify in any future proceedings or trials against any of the remaining co-defendants and that includes Former
President Donald Trump, Kasie.
HUNT: Yes, pretty remarkable. And I think we keep talking about dominoes falling this morning seems to be the metaphor of choice. This was
significant one, CNN's, Nick Valencia in Atlanta, great reporting, as always, my friend. Thank you very much for being here.
And let's dive into this with today's political panel. Susan Page is back with us. We also have David Urban, a Republican Strategist and Former Trump
Campaign Adviser to Donald Trump, as well as Kate Bedingfield, the Former Communications Director for the Biden White House.
We also have CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson, who is with us. Joey, let me just start with you briefly. Can you help us understand how Jenna Ellis
fits into the bigger picture here? And what may happen next?
JOEY JACKSON, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so Kasie, it's a significant development for the following reason, remember big picture is that this is
one of Donald Trump's lawyers. And we can't look at her play in isolation. Remember going back with picture RICO, Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt
What was that about? It was about a criminal enterprise prosecutors allege which was part of the effort to really undo democracy, that criminal
enterprise had many component parts. Look at the Jenna Ellis play in the context of the other please what context the two other lawyers will start
as we look at her there pleading guilty tearfully today in court.
But we'll start of course, as it relates to Chesebro, and then, you know, certainly his play, as in terms of the fake elective scheme. That was a
pretty big deal. And then we go to Sidney Powell issue, and that was the misdemeanors as far as breaking into the election systems.
And now we have her in terms of aiding and abetting these false statements. All of this goes to the issue of people conspiring to subvert an election,
not just any people but people who were close to and tied to Mr. Trump.
You're advising him and so larger piece here is that you have lawyers who were acting on behalf of the President to undo a democratic election. And
so I think what you'll see next is it puts a lot of pressure on others who are associated with this scheme to plead guilty. Why, because the stakes
are quite high?
If you get convicted for RICO, we know that you're going to jail for decades, no one wants to do that. And in the event, prosecutors have a case
which they believe strongly they do. We know it's not a witch hunt, you don't plead guilty to witch hunt and you plead guilty to crimes.
And so I think what we'll see next is the prosecutors continuing to get other people lining up to potentially play that tightens the noose around
the person, really, they're alleging prosecutors is a big mastermind, and that is President Trump himself. And so this is a significant development
to be clear.
It's something that's adverse to the President, Former President to be clear, and we'll see what happens in light of who else pleads guilty moving
HUNT: Right. So David Urban, you have worked in and around many of these people. I'm sure you expected me to ask you about -- .
DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I know -- about this.
HUNT: I mean it's really quite a cast of characters, quite frankly. But I was really struck by how emotional Jenna Ellis was there. I mean, what was
going through your mind when you watch that?
URBAN: Yes so just to go back to what, Joey was talking about. Look, I do think it's significant because Jenna Ellis was kind of in the room, right,
when all this was going down. I think it's important to note she didn't plead guilty to the larger RICO kind of charges, right?
She pled guilty to some lesser charges to kind of get the legal monkey off her back, and she's obviously hemorrhaging money, she's made a look, she's
alluded to this before about how much it's costing, or how far she's going in debt, right? You know, it was kind of, you know, really watching her get
emotional like that.
You know, in her inner mug shot, she's kind of smiling, a little more flippant. She was kind of defined at these press conferences early on. And
then, when the stark reality of I guess her actions kind of hit upon her, she was -- , she was very tearful and sorrowful and said, listen, I relied
on other people, right?
And, you know, you have to shake your head and say, well, you know, you're lawyer, when all the real lawyers left. And Sidney Powell and some other
folks who may have not been that credible, you might have thought, probably I should leave at this point, too. She didn't do that.
HUNT: Maybe they -- should have been in --
KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: -- reality of her actions, or was it the consequences that she was suddenly realizing she was going to
have -- ?
URBAN: I think you're right. I think it's the consequence. I think that she was, you know, thinking about like, I'm a member of the -- and censured
already. Now, I'm going to I stand here in front of the court, right. So we're probably not lost on her how badly she screwed up at this point.
HUNT: Yes. I mean, the reality is the Former President is taking he has his own position, you know, and fame and status as a former president, and he's
taken a lot of people down with him. Let's take a look at how Jenna Ellis, she exactly what David was what was excuse me what David was referring to.
Here's her talking about her role.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ELLIS: In the wake of the 2020 presidential election. I believe that challenging the results on behalf of President Trump should be pursued in a
just and legal way. I endeavored to represent my client to the best of my ability I relied on others, including lawyers with many more years of
experience than I to provide me with true and reliable information.
Especially since my role involves to speaking to the media and to legislators in various states. What I did not do but should have done, Your
Honor, was to make sure that the facts the other lawyers alleged to be true were in fact true.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HUNT: Susan Page.
PAGE: Yes, like if your kid told you that this excuse, you know, I relied on older children who knew more, and maybe I should have been more careful.
I'm not sure you would accept that as an excuse. But I got to say this is a vindication of Fani Willis's strategy of indicting everyone and their
Because she is getting a series of people to flip people who were in the room, people who knew what was going on people can do real damage to Donald
Trump. And the blessing that we were getting from these plea deals is if you want to stay out of jail. You want to cut one of these.
URBAN: It early on do, right?
HUNT: Right. Yes, exactly and you want to be one of the first ones, Kate Bedingfield. I mean, look this for Democrats looking at this. These legal
challenges have not hurt President Trump in the Republican primary electorate at all, right? We have seen the way the numbers are going on
Frankly, the general election polling is not great for President Biden right now. Do you think having something on tape like what we saw from
Jenna Ellis actually helps Democrats with independent voters and underscoring like, hey, there actually was stuff it's done here like
President Trump's lying to you, or do you think it doesn't matter?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, I do think it matters, but maybe for a slightly different reason, which is that it just underscores the ongoing sense of
chaos and it sucks oxygen out of the Republicans ability to talk about anything that they're doing to actually help the American people.
So I think what we've seen which is demoralizing perhaps is that the crimes that Donald Trump and his cohort have committed don't seem to have had a
lot of political impact that I think we could have a three hour discussion about that. But I do think that it does have a real tangible political
cost, which is that it prevents them from being able to talk about the future from being able to talk about what they're going to do.
And that does have an impact on the campaign, especially as you know, we're still a year out from the election, we have a year where Biden in the
Democrats going to be making their case.
BEDINGFIELD: And so I think having that oxygen sucked out in this backdrop of chaos and criminality, frankly, it's not good for them.
URBAN: -- it sucks, right? Exactly right. It would really matter if the Republicans were actually doing something good -- . The world hasn't
noticed everyone's locked in a room trying to figure out who's going to be the Speaker for the past couple of weeks.
URBAN: So if we weren't moving the ball forward in some measurable fashion, I would say that you're exactly on, but Kate is exactly correct, right? And
this sideshow detracts from us, talking from Republicans talking about the economy, immigration, things that concern people in America, kitchen table
issues, no one's talking about, they're talking about all this sideshow stuff, which is not helpful for Republicans.
HUNT: Yes, I mean, the one thing I keep coming back to also, Susan, is that the President himself seems to be more preoccupied with the case that's
going on in New York where he doesn't actually have any criminal liability. I find that confusing.
PAGE: Well, it has some personal resonance with it, because it could cost him the businesses on which he is built his name the big tower in New York
that he is so proud of. So maybe if there's a prospect of jail time and some other court case that will grab his attention, but I can understand
why this is the thing that means the most to him right at the moment.
HUNT: Yes, know, I've been its fair enough. But man, we got a whole year of this. We're going to take a quick break.
URBAN: We'll be back -- .
HUNT: -- got a lot more to talk about because House Republicans are meeting behind closed doors right now slowly narrowing down the field of candidates
for Speaker of the House. We'll see if any one of them can figure out how to get the gavel, that's next?
HUNT: Welcome back to "State of the Race". I'm Kasie Hunt. We're live in Washington. The U.S. House now hit the three week mark without a speaker
effectively paralyzing had effectively completely paralyzing one of the two chambers of Congress.
Republicans are voting behind closed doors this morning on which of the now four candidates will be their new speaker designate, and it's not clear.
It's so far from clear that any of them has a path to 217 votes. Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill up for us. Lauren, we've been dropping speaker
candidates like flies since we came on the air. What is the latest? It seems like Tom Emmer is out front.
LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Tom Emmer is certainly leading the pack. He just clinched 100 votes in that closed door meeting,
of course that is far from the 217 that he would need to win on the floor. It also is not yet a majority that he would need to become the speaker
designee behind closed doors. Still in the race with him are Kevin Hern, Byron Donalds and Mike Johnson.
Those are the candidates that remain; those are the choices that members can continue voting for by secret ballot. We are now in our fourth round of
voting Kasie. But there is no guarantee that any of these men are going to be able to clinch the nomination on the floor, which is why I have talked
to a number of Republicans who say it is their belief, their hope and their expectation that behind closed doors today, they are going to have some
kind of referendum vote.
Once they actually have a candidate to see if that person can get 217 votes in the room so that they do not have the embarrassing display that they had
last week, when repeatedly Jim Jordan went to the floor and was unable to get the speaker's gavel time after time and as he continued to refuse to
So there's certainly a lot of feeling right now that this is the time to coalesce to come together to vote for someone, but it's just not clear who
that person is going to be at this point, Kasie.
HUNT: All right, Lauren Fox, thank you for that. And we are going to take a moment to check in on the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken who's
speaking now with the UN Security Council. Let's listen in.
ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: We're grateful for your leadership in this incredibly challenging time, particularly in helping get
humanitarian aid to civilians in Gaza. And to the entire UN team, their incredible bravery, their dedication, all of those who continue to serve in
some of the most difficult circumstances imaginable.
We express our gratitude and our admiration. I'm here today because the United States believes that the United Nations and this council in
particular has a crucial role to play in addressing this crisis. Indeed, we put forward a resolution that sets out practical steps that we can take
together toward that end.
The resolution builds on many elements of the text that Brazil put forward last week. It incorporates substantive feedback that we receive from fellow
council members over recent days. It also draws heavily on the views that I heard firsthand, from partners across the region, after Hamas is appalling
attack on October 7 views that the United States shares.
First, we all recognize the right and indeed the imperative of states to defend themselves against terrorism. That's why we must unequivocally
condemn Hamas's barbaric terrorist attack against Israel. Babies riddled with bullets. Young people hunted down and gunned down with glee.
People, young people beheaded. Families burned alive in a final embrace. Parents executed in front of their children, children executed in front of
their parents and so many taken hostage in Gaza. We have to ask indeed, it must be asked. Where's the outrage? Where's the revulsion? Where's the --
HUNT: Alright, we're going to keep listening to Antony Blinken there and bring you any news that he may have. But I want to go now to Capitol Hill
because waiting for us is Congressman Ralph Norman. He's a Republican from South Carolina. Congressman, thank you very much for being with us.
REP. RALPH NORMAN (R-SC): My pleasure.
HUNT: So sir, there's much interest in where you and fellow members of the Freedom Caucus are on what is going on right now. Congressman Emmer just
broke 100 votes in the latest ballot for speaker here. Do you think you would be comfortable getting behind Mr. Emmer?
NORMAN: Well, Byron Donalds is who I voted for, for three rounds. Whoever ends up getting the majority of our conference today with the freedom
congress wants to sit down with and ask the tough questions of any of them.
Are you committed to raising this debt deficit? Are you committed to a strong military? Are you committed to basically do what you say? And during
the whole process, trust has come up the one word, more than any other word. Trust is something people looking for. Tom's honest. Now his voting
record is something we got to look at.
But you know he's honest; I think he's a straight shooter. Byron Donalds would be a great speaker. You know, I know, Mike Johnson came in second at
his latest round. So we'll continue voting till we have one and whoever that person is. We want to get commitments. Now, what they go to do and
what they're not going to do, and I think the candidates will do that.
HUNT: Sir, how would you describe the mood in the room as this voting is ongoing? Do you feel like you and your colleagues are tired enough of being
in a situation without a speaker that you are ready to choose someone and give them 217 votes, perhaps bias -- today?
NORMAN: No, I don't feel that pressure. Look, this is the most important position. That important vote that we take, the Speaker of the House is 30
-- line for president. The Speaker of the House determines the direction for the conference. The Speaker of the House will be a lead spokesman for
our nominee, whoever that is for president next November, which is all important.
We have got to get this administration out of office not -- so no, I don't feel like I've actually spent a good process. And only, I mean, I know the
media is incensed about this. But I will tell you that the American people if you ask him what their problems are, it's what they pay in at the gas
pump its problems at the border, its crime.
HUNT: Fair enough. But I will say some of your own colleagues came back from the weekend in their home district saying people are fed up with us,
people are fed up with the fact that we can't pick a leader. You didn't hear that when you were at home?
NORMAN: Well, yes, but as it ranks and concerns, as that's not the highest concern that in my district, they were upset about Jim Jordan not getting
it. I mean, Jim Jordan would have been best for this country in the best five conference and the best spokesman that there was, but that didn't
happen. So we're off to pick another one.
And I think we will, whether it's today or tomorrow, I don't know. But we want to have discussions with whoever the nominee is to make sure they're
going to do what they say.
HUNT: Congressman Emmer voted to certify the 2020 election that has been become something of a bone of contention between him and the front runner
for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump. How do you think about at Tom Emmer's vote to certify the election? Do you think the vote that he took
disqualifies him to be speaker in your mind?
NORMAN: Look, you know, all these votes go into the equation. But Tom is an honest man, he's direct. He's straightforward. No, I don't agree with that
vote. I didn't agree with a lot of his votes. But be that as it is, is there a lot of ingredients that go into picking a speaker.
And as we move forward, we've got to have somebody we can trust somebody, somebody who don't just spout off words, they need them, and they believe
at him. And we'll get to that when whoever, whether it's Emmer or whether it's Mike Johnson or whether it's Byron Donald's we'll find out who that
person is and how they're going to do it they say.
HUNT: Sir, do you think there's any way you could support someone who said that they were going to put Ukraine aid and Israel aid together on the
House floor? Is that something you would be willing to get behind? Or would you oppose anyone who said that they were going to do what the
administration requested on that?
NORMAN: We will express our concern. There's got to be two separate votes. Ukraine's got to be in one vote. And the Israel vote has the dollars to go
to Israel has to be able to -- not everybody's on the same page. And that would be expressed when we meet with.
HUNT: OK, so, also, before I let you go sir, do you think or do you want Republicans to agree that whoever gets 200 whoever you select behind closed
doors needs to get 217 on the floor? Do you think Republicans can afford another public display of division?
NORMAN: The goal is to behind closed doors, come up with a vote of 270 rather than uncover our differences, whether it takes a day, two days, come
-- our differences behind the closed doors, and then know what we're going into we go to the House floor.
I don't think anybody would stand up behind the closed doors and say one thing and then do another. Now secret ballot they may do that, but not roll
call vote which we will have behind closed doors.
And then those who just never, let's say they're never Byron Donalds. They're going to, we're going to get together, try to have a huddle and
come to a meeting of the minds.
HUNT: All right, Congressman Norman, thank you very much for your time today, I really appreciate it.
NORMAN: My pleasure. Thank you.
HUNT: All right, we're continuing our very newsy day here. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken still speaking at the UN Security Council on the
Israel Hamas war, let's listen.
BLINKEN: This goes to the principal responsibility of the Security Council, maintaining international peace and security. The broader conflict would be
devastating, not only for Palestinians and Israelis, but for people across the region and indeed around the world.
To that end, we call on all member states to send a firm united message to any state or non-state actor that is considering opening another front in
this conflict against Israel, or who may target Israel's partners, including the United States don't, don't throw fuel on the fire.
Members of this council and permanent members in particular have a special responsibility to prevent this conflict from spreading. I look forward to
continuing to work with my counterpart from the People's Republic of China to do precisely that, when he visits Washington later this week.
Now, it is no secret to anyone in this room or on this council that for years Iran has supported Hamas, Hezbollah, the Houthis and other groups
that continue to carry out attacks on Israel. Iranian leaders have routinely threatened to wipe Israel off the map.
In recent weeks, Iran's proxies have repeatedly attacked U.S. personnel in Iraq and Syria, whose mission is to prevent ISIS from renewing its rampage.
So let me say this before this council. And let me say what we've consistently said to Iranian officials, through other channels, the United
States does not seek conflict with Iran.
We do not want this war to widen. But if Iran or its proxies attack U.S. personnel anywhere, make no mistake. We will defend our people. We will
defend our security swiftly and decisively. To all the members of this council, if you like the United States, want to prevent this conflict from
spreading and tell Iran tell its proxies in public, in private through every means.
Do not open another front against Israel in this conflict; do not attack Israel as partners. And U.S. members to go a step further make clear that
if Iran or its proxies widen this conflict and put more civilians at risk, you will hold them accountable. Act as if the security and stability of the
entire region and beyond is on the line, because it is.
Fourth and finally, even as we address this immediate crisis, we all agree that we must redouble our collective efforts to build an enduring political
solution to the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians. The only road to lasting peace and security in the region, the only way to break out of
this horrific cycle of violence is through two states for two peoples.
As President Biden is underscore from day one, Palestinians deserve equal measures of security, of freedom, of justice, of opportunity, of dignity.
And Palestinians have a right to self-determination and a status of their own. Now we have no illusions about how hard it will be to achieve a two
But as President Biden has said, we cannot give up on peace. Indeed, it's precisely in the darkest moments like this one, that we have to fight the
hardest, preserve an alternative path to show people making it real, improving their lives in tangible ways is possible. Indeed, it's necessary.
We've heard many countries especially important recent weeks for a durable political solution. Our message today is this. Help us build that solution.
Help us prevent the spread of war that will make two states and broader peace and security of the region even harder to achieve.
Members of this council, we stand at a crossroads. Two paths lie before us. The difference between them could not be more stark. What is the path
offered by Hamas, we know where it leads, death, destruction, suffering, darkness.
The other is the path toward greater peace, greater stability, greater opportunity, greater normalization and integration. A path toward people
across the region being able to live, to work, to worship, to learn, side by side, a path toward Palestinians realizing their legitimate right to
self-determination and a state of their own.
Nothing would be a greater victory for Hamas than allowing its brutality to send us down its path of terrorism and nihilism. We must not let it; Hamas
does not get to choose for us. The United States stands ready to work with anyone, ready to forge a more peaceful and secure future for the region,
the future as people yearn for and so deserve. Thank you, Mr. President.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I thank His Excellency, Mr. Blinken for his statements. Now I give the floor to Her Excellency, Mrs. Catherine Colonna, Minister
for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France.
HUNT: All right, we've been listening to Secretary of State Antony Blinken at the UN Security Council. He of course has wrapped up his speech. We're
going to take a quick break and then our panel rejoins me. That's next.
HUNT: All right. Welcome back. We've had a very busy news hour here. We heard from the Secretary of State Antony Blinken that 33 Americans were
killed by Hamas. And we learned earlier that there were 10 Americans who remain unaccounted for, but that 33 number killed one higher than we
And of course, as that is unfolding, Republicans are behind closed doors, trying to pick the next person who they are going to designate to try to
become their Speaker of the House. Tom Emmer has cracked the 100 vote threshold. There are four members of congress for Republicans still in the
running to potentially win that.
So let's get back to our panel. David Urban and Kate Bedingfield are with us now. We're still hoping Susan Page will be able to rejoin us shortly.
But David urban, let me just get your reaction to, we heard from Congressman Ralph Norman of South Carolina, who of course, is a member of
the Freedom Caucus. He seemed an absolutely no hurry to get this resolved, despite the increasing exasperation of many of his colleagues.
HUNT: It sounds like David might not be able hear me. Go ahead.
URBAN: Oh, no, no, I've got, I got we're going to hear sound from him. Listen, it was not a ringing endorsement of Tom Emmer as you heard. And you
know, he said he's a decent man. He's an honorable man. But he fell short of saying he'd vote for him.
And so I think what's going to be interesting is, let's see how this plays out. You know, we saw Jim Jordan got a big number of votes that you get to
the floor, and he couldn't close the deal. Let's see what happens with Tom Emmer.
I think that, you know Republicans are hearing from constituents at home, that they are fed; their constituents are fed up with this. And it's, it's
time for these men and women in congress to do their jobs elect the speaker. And let's get back to doing the people's work.
HUNT: Kate Bedingfield, you know, I take David's point in terms of Emmer having some issues here, especially on the Israel or Ukraine funding
question. He seemed, you know, less interested in discussing the election certification piece of this.
But there have been questions all along about what Democrats were going to do. And it does seem like Tom Emmer may be somebody that they're, you know,
how should I say.
More OK with than some of the other Republican options certainly, then Jim Jordan. Now of course, that may ultimately sink Emmer in the eyes of
Republicans as we know. But where do you think you know Democrats come down at this point? Because you know we showed a calendar earlier. And I think
we could probably put it back up.
It sort of underscores the stark reality of the inability to govern here. Because look at this, that's when they voted out McCarthy on the third. All
these days have been completely wasted. The House has been unable to do anything.
As you can see, there's only about three more weeks left here for any of this to sort itself out before the government runs out of money. I mean, if
you're Hakeem Jeffries and Democrats in this situation, what are you thinking?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, you know, look, I got to be honest. I don't know that there's huge incentive for Democrats to throw the Republicans a lifeline
here. In part because they've shown at least you know, over the course of this congress that, you know, they're not always able to govern and willing
to be partners in government in good faith.
So if you're a Democrat, what is the incentive for you to kind of to step in and throw a lifeline? But I think I will say even that is sort of all
hypothetical, right. And you kind of just touched on why. Any candidate, any candidate who is seen as cutting a deal with Democrats or able to work
with the Democrats is not palatable to the Republican caucus, they've made that very, very clear.
It's why we've been essentially locked in this standstill for three weeks. I mean, don't forget, we're not, this is not like chaos for chaos sake.
This is chaos, because a fraction of the Republican caucus doesn't believe the Republican leadership is hardline enough and is extreme enough.
So you know I'm not sure that even you know, I think this is all a little bit hypothetical. And again, you know, I understand why speaker -- there
you go. I understand why leader Jeffries is saying, you know, that he's open to some sort of power sharing agreement, of course.
But I think deep down, I'm not sure there's a whole lot of incentive to be totally brutally honest here, for Democrats to throw a lifeline to
Republicans who can't get there, get themselves in line.
HUNT: Well, certainly, it underscores the, you know, what's going to be a general election message of your chaos that Republicans would bring in the
form of former President Trump. You know, here's your example A, if you will, in a campaign ad.
Susan Page, let me bring you in here. We got a little bit of breaking news off the hill. Ballot number five is beginning. There are only two
candidates now, on the ballot, Tom Emmer of Minnesota has been the front runner and Mike Johnson of Louisiana. You watch the interview that we did
with Congressman Norman. What were your takeaways about the next moves here?
SUSAN PAGE, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, USA TODAY: It did not sound to me like they're anywhere close to getting this done, because Congressman Norman
wasn't willing to say he'd vote for Tom Emmer. He all but said he wouldn't. He also said he didn't feel that much urgency.
I don't know what three weeks without a speaker doesn't, how that doesn't build some sense of urgency. But for him, it didn't. So it does not look to
me, I see no signs that this is heading toward a conclusion.
HUNT: David Urban, what does that, I mean, what are your take away from that? Because I mean, I honestly, every time I think that oh, well, we've
definitely reached rock bottom like it turns out that we have not.
URBAN: Well Kasie, you know what's interesting is that, that calendar you put up there, right, that as of November 17, with a big circle around it.
You know, that's a date that we need to focus on, because whoever gets elected speaker is going to need to probably reach across the aisle and get
some votes from Democrats to pass a bill to keep the government open, right.
I mean, just would Kevin McCarthy would have done. And so interestingly, Republicans have not taken away that they've not changed the rules that a
single member can call for, you know, a motion to vacate the chair, like happened in with Speaker McCarthy.
So it'll be interesting. You may get a speaker Emmer who will get elected. And then on November 17, we'll cut a deal that some members find
unpalatable. And one member could go back to the floor and put a motion to vacate the chair, we could be back and it's all again.
So it's really, it's really going to be a very, you know, interesting next few weeks and precarious situation for whoever the speaker is going to be
because they're going to have to cut a deal with Democrats.
HUNT: Yes, I mean, and Kate Bedingfield, I mean, what do you think that ultimately looks like any potential deal with Democrats?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, look, I mean, I think Democrats have been clear that they are willing to work together that they want to work together. They
have significant priorities, which, you know, you saw President Biden give nothing less significant than an Oval Office address in primetime this
week, laying out his belief that we need to continue to provide aid to Ukraine and need to provide aid to Israel.
So Democrats I think are making the case for these key priorities, whether Republicans will, will ultimately determine that being able to go home to
their constituents and say, you know, we were able to move forward on something that matters to the United States. We're able to put partisan
differences aside and move forward.
It doesn't feel like it doesn't feel like that's going to happen. So you know, I don't know. I don't know what sort of pressure to the point that
you know, Congressman Norman saying he doesn't feel any pressure having not had a speaker through for three weeks. I'm not sure how much political
pressure will be necessary for Republicans to decide that they need to cut a deal.
But the administration has been very clear. They want to see bipartisan support on these national security initiatives on these aid packages.
Historically that has been an issue where we as a country have been able to find bipartisan support. So you know, perhaps we get there. I don't see
anything happening right now that suggests that we will, but hope springs eternal, I guess.
URBAN: It will all come together on the 16th, it will all come together on the 16th.
HUNT: Yes, right. Yes. One day before government funding runs out. All right, David Urban, Kate Bedingfield, Susan Page, thanks to all of you for
joining me here today.
URBAN: Thank you.
HUNT: And as we said, there are only two candidates left in the Speaker's race, Tom Emmer and Mike Johnson. That means Byron Donalds is out. Kevin
Hern is out. We're tracking the story through the afternoon. I'm Kasie Hunt. That's the "State of the Race" for today, Tuesday, October 24.
You can always follow me on Instagram and the platform formerly known as Twitter, but don't go anywhere. "One World" is up next.