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State of the Union

Interview With Fmr. Gov. Chris Christie (D-NJ); Interview With Sen. James Lankford (R-OK); Interview With U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan. Aired 9-10a ET

Aired October 29, 2023 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): On the ground. Israel expands its ground operations in Gaza.

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): We're going to fight in the air, ground and sea.

TAPPER: What does the escalation mean for the region's future and for the hostages trapped there by Hamas? National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan joins me live next, and then Intelligence Committee Republican Senator James Lankford.

Plus: blackout. As Israel's barrage picked up, Gaza went dark, with communication services cut.

ANTONY BLINKEN, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: Palestinian civilians must be protected.

TAPPER: Now, with communications partly restored, what is the latest inside Gaza?

And new beginnings? Finally, the U.S. House elects a speaker, one more sign of Republicans' embrace of Donald Trump. Another?

MIKE PENCE, FORMER VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have decided to suspend my campaign for president.

TAPPER: GOP candidate Chris Christie on what it all means coming up.


TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Tel Aviv, where Israeli bombardments of Gaza lit up the sky overnight.

CNN teams here are hearing constant explosions and some machine gun fire. With drones, helicopters and Israeli fighter jets circling the skies, Israel says the next phase of its war against the terrorist group Hamas has begun, with Israeli leaders confirming their troops are inside Gaza and prepared for a -- quote -- "long and difficult fight." We're just now getting our first looks at the damage inside Gaza, as lines of communication to the area are slowly coming back online after they were cut days ago, prompting increasingly dire warnings from aid workers about the conditions for civilians there. There's 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza in Israel.

That concern is shared by the families of Hamas hostages still trapped in Gaza. They fear the barrage of Israeli attacks make it less likely their loved ones will ever return home.

And, this morning, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is apologizing after tweeting blame at his military and security service leaders, accusing them of being unprepared for the October 7 Hamas attack. That tweet received widespread criticism and prompted a rare deletion of the tweet and apology from Netanyahu.

Joining us now from Cairo, CNN's Melissa Bell.

And, Melissa, we're learning that a small number of aid trucks have entered Gaza this morning. Tell us more.


It is 10 aid trucks. That's according to the Palestinian Red Crescent. It brings the total number of trucks, Jake, that have managed to get through the Rafah Crossing and into Gaza to 94 since this escalation began three weeks ago, since this conflict began three weeks ago.

And I give you an idea, to put that in some perspective, there are more than two million inhabitants of Gaza are dependent on what the U.N. estimates would be 100 truckloads per day of aid getting in. So the fact that there have been 94 so far gives you an idea of how depleted the resources are inside the Gaza Strip.

And I think one important measure of that is what we have seen over the course of the last night, which is desperate civilians raiding the U.N. warehouses to try and get their hands on wheat, on flour, on hygiene supplies, on everything they need to try and survive.

So, those latest 10 trucks clearly a bit of relief, nowhere near what is needed for the civilians trapped inside. We're hearing -- very difficult for us to get to the Rafah Crossing, but we're hearing from an Egyptian stringer that we managed to get up there that they are seeing now 40 other trucks that are on the other side of the Rafah Crossing from Egyptian authorities and waiting to get through.

The difficulty is the checks that are being imposed on those convoys by Israeli authorities. Now, we have been hearing also from the Israeli military over the course of the weekend saying -- the course of the last few hours, Jake -- I'm sorry -- saying, look, we're going to hope to get more aid trucks in, but it's extremely slow, and we're wanting to check every aid truck that's going in, because we're concerned about what is getting into the Gaza Strip.

And I think that gives you an idea of why this process is so painstakingly slow, Jake. TAPPER: All right, Melissa, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss, President Biden's national security adviser, Jake Sullivan.

Jake, thanks so much for coming. We really appreciate it.

The IDF says that they are -- quote -- "expanding" ground operations in the Gaza Strip. Netanyahu is calling this the second phase of the war. Is this the ground invasion we have been expecting?


And I know that the Biden White House believes that Israel has the right to do this, but my question is, do you think what Israel is doing in Gaza is wise? Do you think what they're doing is the smart thing to do?

JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Well, first, as to what exactly is happening here, I will let the Israeli Defense Forces characterize their operations and how it fits into their larger plan.

I will say that they're the ones making the decisions. They're the ones conducting the operations, and they -- they're best positioned to speak to it.

Over the course of the past three weeks, Jake, we have had numerous conversations from the prime minister and the president on down and certainly among military leaders and their counterparts about Israeli military objectives and about the steps that they have taken and intend to take to achieve those objectives.

And we have asked them hard questions, the same hard questions that we would ask ourselves if we were seeking to conduct an operation to take out a terrorist threat. And we have pressed them on questions like objectives and matching means to objectives, about both tactical and strategic issues associated with this operation.

But we have done all of that behind closed doors. So I'm not going to characterize here today the specific nature of those conversations.

What I will say is this. Hamas is making life extremely difficult for Israel by taking civilians as human shields and by putting their rocket infrastructure and terrorist infrastructure among civilians. That creates an added burden for Israel, but it does not lessen Israel's responsibility, under international humanitarian law, to distinguish between terrorists and civilians and to protect the lives of innocent people.

And that is the overwhelming majority of the people in Gaza. Those are innocent people whose lives should be protected.

TAPPER: Right. And that's really what I'm asking, because, so far, Israel says they have killed about 32 Hamas commanders. And we also know that thousands of Palestinians have died. I don't know what the exact number is, but we know it's thousands. And, look, you're in a much better position to analyze the specific

targets Israel is striking than I am or the armchair critics on social media. Based on what you're looking at, based on your analysis, is Israel making limited, targeted-specific, discrete attacks, or are they carpet-bombing? Is it indiscriminate?

What's your take? What's your analysis?

SULLIVAN: Well, as you said, Jake -- and we have said this ourselves from the White House podium -- we do believe that thousands of Palestinian civilians have been killed in this bombardment.

And every single one of those deaths is a tragedy. Every human life is sacred, whether it's Palestinian, Israeli, American, or any life. And we stand firmly for the proposition that all measures should be taken that are reasonable and responsible to protect the lives of civilians.

As I said before, Hamas is going out of its way to make this more difficult. They are hiding among, integrating among those civilians and turning those civilians into human shields.

But that does not lessen Israel's responsibility in this regard. And we have had conversations privately, as well as our public pronouncements, private conversations with Israel about the need to protect innocent civilians and to be targeted in their military operations, so that it's focused on the terrorists and not on innocent people whose lives deserve to be protected.


Look, I'm not pretending I have the answers. I get it. Israel -- look, I mean, we can go back however many years people want, whether they want to start in the Hashemite Kingdom, or the Ottoman Empire, or 1948, or 1968, or 1973, or 2000, or 2008, whenever they want to start the conversation, we can start.

But if we want to start on October 7, we can start on October 7, and the bottom line is, as long as -- as far as the IDF is concerned, the government of the country next door invaded, killed 1,400 of their citizens and went back, and they have a right to take out that government. That's how the IDF sees it.

And I get that the Biden administration is on board. My question is, is the IDF going out -- going -- going about this the right way? Do you think they're going about this the right way?

SULLIVAN: What we believe is that every hour, every day of this military operation, the IDF, the Israeli government should be taking every possible means available to them to distinguish between Hamas...

TAPPER: And are they?

SULLIVAN: ... terrorists, who are legitimate military targets, and civilians, who are not.

And I'm not going to react to every strike, every move that they make. What I'm going to say is, that is our principle. That is our advice to them. That is what we are communicating. And we continue to do that at the highest levels.


The president will speak again with the prime minister in a few hours' time today, and he will continue to reiterate the United States' position this issue. It is clear, it is straightforward, and we believe that it is rooted in the fundamental laws of war.

TAPPER: So, there's a lot of fear among the families that have hostages in Gaza right now that what the IDF is doing is guaranteeing that they're never going to see those hostages again, they're never going to see their loved ones again.

I want you to take a listen to what Yael Alexander had to say about her son, who was kidnapped by Hamas, 19-year-old Edan, an American who grew up in New Jersey who went to volunteer for the IDF.


YAEL ALEXANDER, MOTHER OF MISSING HOSTAGE: They told us that he's alive and he's over there at Gaza, and we're just hoping for him to come back home. I told him: "I love you, be safe, be brave, and I'm still here. Like, let's be in touch."

And that's it. We finished the phone call. And then I text him again and again and again, and nothing came through since then.


TAPPER: I know that President Biden is trying to help. I know the NSC is trying to help.

What's the latest on negotiations for the hostages?

SULLIVAN: Well, negotiations are ongoing, and I have to be careful about what I can share publicly on this subject because of the sensitive and delicate nature of those negotiations.

But we are in almost hourly contact with regional partners and with Israel to try to get to a point where there is a deal to have the hostages released. It is difficult. It is challenging. The Hamas terrorists have not been forthcoming about allowing these hostages to go.

But we believe that there can be still be a pathway to get their release, and we are going to work tirelessly to make that happen. And even though we have started to see Israel move in on the ground, that has not changed our basic view that this has to remain a paramount priority, that we have to keep working at it.

And those negotiations are ongoing. And I would just say, Jake, listening to that mother, I sat with President Biden as he spoke to the families of the American hostages. And it is difficult to hear the hurt and pain in their voice. It's impossible to understand what they're going through not knowing the fate of their loved ones.

And it's something that weighs on us emotionally, but we are trying to stay as focused and clear-eyed as possible on achieving the objective of bringing people home.

TAPPER: Meanwhile, in Gaza, as many as 600 Americans are still trapped in Gaza. They have not been evacuated. They have not been allowed to exit into Egypt. They're facing bombings from the Israelis, a worsening humanitarian crisis.

Earlier this week, I talked with Abood Okal. He's from Massachusetts. Take a listen to what he told CNN just a couple days ago.


ABOOD OKAL, AMERICAN TRAPPED IN GAZA: All it takes is one missile, one airstrike to miss its target, or be too close to where you are.

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.


TAPPER: I know you can't just send in SEAL Team Six to get the hostages in the Hamas tunnels, because, first of all, you don't even know where they are.

But this is hundreds of American citizens by the Jaffa gate -- I'm sorry -- by the Rafah gate. They're stuck too. They can't get out. Two weeks ago, I asked you about them, and you said it was Hamas who wouldn't let them out, but the Israelis were ready, the Egyptians were ready.

What's going on? When can they get out?

SULLIVAN: So, just as there is ongoing discussions and negotiations over the hostages, we are facing a similar situation with the American citizens and other foreign nationals who are trapped in Gaza.

It is true the Egyptians are prepared to allow American citizens and foreign nationals to come through the Rafah gate into Egypt. The Israelis have no issue with that. Hamas has been preventing their departure and making a series of demands. I can't go through those demands in public, but that is the subject of the discussions and the negotiations that are ongoing.

We are trying to work through those to get to a point where we have secured the safe passage of any American in Gaza who wants to leave. We are in contact with them on a near-daily basis. We will continue to stay focused on this.

This is an equal priority to us as getting the hostages out. It equally requires us to get to a point where Hamas will permit their safe passage. And we are working hard at that every day. TAPPER: Meanwhile, "Haaretz" is reporting that an Israeli settler

shot and killed a Palestinian civilian in the West Bank just yesterday.


This comes after President Biden made a point of warning Netanyahu about the extremist settlers in the West Bank, saying, it has to stop. These continued attacks suggest to me that Netanyahu didn't take President Biden's warning very seriously.

Even though President Biden elevated that warning to a public warning, Palestinians are literally being killed on the West Bank by these extremist settlers, who put out leaflets warning of another Nakba. Palestinians were literally chased out of a town in the West Bank because there's no one there to protect them.

Why do you think Netanyahu didn't take the warning seriously?

SULLIVAN: Well, we believe that Prime Minister Netanyahu does have a responsibility to rein in the extremist settlers on the West Bank, who are, as President Biden put it a few days ago, pouring fuel on the fire.

And it is totally unacceptable to have extremist settler violence against innocent people in the West Bank. That is something that we will continue to press on.

This is not a one-day, one-issue event. This is an ongoing challenge. It is going to require ongoing and intensifying effort by the Israeli government. That's a point the president made publicly. It's a point we will make continuously privately. And we expect, over time, to see the Israeli government step up on this.

And I'd go further, because the present used the word accountability, that there be accountability for those extremist settlers who are engaged in this kind of violence.

TAPPER: Good luck, Jake. This is quite a challenge you have. I appreciate your time today.

SULLIVAN: Thanks, Jake.

TAPPER: As the war in Gaza escalates, are Republican senators in line with the new House speaker's views on U.S. aid to Israel and Ukraine? I'm going to ask one of them next.

And with the Republican presidential field shrinking once again, who will emerge as the top alternative to Donald Trump?

2024 hopeful Chris Christie joins me live.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper in Tel Aviv, Israel.

After weeks of utter dysfunction among House Republicans, they have finally chosen a new leader. And Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana is already laying out his priorities, one of the most pressing issues on his plate, aid for Israel.

Our next guest is on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma.

Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

So, the U.S. has been encouraging Israel to delay a full ground invasion in order to make an effort to get all 230, I think it is, hostages out. Israel has, of course, announced the second phase of the war and is launching more attacks in the Gaza Strip from air and also from land.

Does the intelligence suggest that a delay would hurt Israel's goals to destroy Hamas?

SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): Yes, obviously, I can't get into the actual intelligence documents itself, but it is a very complicated issue, where Hamas has about 500 miles' worth of tunnels underneath all of the area in Gaza.

So it's a very complicated environment to be able to hide hostages. Right now, Israel is trying to be able to bombard some of those areas. They know where there is Hamas fighters, where there are leadership, and where there are key whether ammunition depot, missile storage, or, obviously, where their military typically functions underground.

But going after hostages is incredibly difficult in an urban environment, because no one knows where they are. Hamas is obviously trickling them out, trying to prevent anyone. But if you stop right now and if you pause, it gives opportunity for Hamas to dig in more and to be able to lay more booby traps.

So it is a judgment call that has to be made on the ground based on intelligence right now. It also has to be an issue of the United States positioning more and more missile defense systems, as we have already seen the Houthis actually launch guided precision missiles from Yemen towards Israel that our forces were able to take out on their way in.

So we have seen that. This is an ongoing issue, not only to preposition more missile defense, but also to watch out for hostages.

TAPPER: A lot of the families of the hostages are very worried that the ground incursion might result in them never seeing their loved ones again.

Is that a reasonable concern, do you think?

LANKFORD: Yes, that's a reasonable concern for anyone.

The folks that are the families and the friends of these hostages, everyone has great compassion for them and pain for them. These are folks that were just at their homes, at music events, at other places where they were snatched away and kidnapped. So everyone is very concerned for them.

The challenge is, what's the right way to be able to go get them? How do you actually go do that? How long are they going to be used as a pawn? What is Hamas going to do? We have already seen their ruthlessness. What are they going to do in the meantime to those individuals?

So, there's a priority to go after those individuals, to make sure they can get to them and to be able to rescue them, which, obviously, Israel has done many times, to go rescue hostages. But there's a priority to also make sure Hamas doesn't come back on the ground forces, as you have seen their on the ground, multiple missile attacks from Gaza every single moment, where they continue to be able to attack Israel over and over again.

So it's not as if they have paused. They certainly continue to be able to fight.

TAPPER: The U.S. carried out airstrikes targeting two facilities linked to Iranian-backed militias in Eastern Syria this week in response to attacks on U.S. service members.

You have been calling on the Biden administration to stand up to Iran and Iranian-backed militias more strongly. Are you satisfied with the response, or do you think President Biden needs to do more?

LANKFORD: I think President Biden is very focused on not trying to escalate the war. That's a good thing, to not escalate the war into a regional conflict.

But the problem is, Iran only understands force. Iran has attacked the United States 19 times in just the last two weeks. And I think most Americans don't know that, that Iranian forces, Shia militants, whether it be the Houthis from Yemen or whether it be in Iraq or in Syria, they're finding ways to go attack American forces.


We have had multiple of our forces that have been injured in those attacks. The United States is finally pushing back on those Shia militants and on Iran to be able to make it clear we are going to stand up for ourselves in this to be able to stop it.

I know the administration is trying to be able to keep this separate. Unfortunately, there's no way to actually separate Iran attacking the United States while Iran is also facilitating the attack of Israel as well at the same time. They are connected.

TAPPER: The Israeli government and the Israel Defense Forces claim that Hamas puts command-and-control centers underneath hospitals.

Specifically, they're talking about Gaza's biggest hospital. No one disputes that the hospitals have in them patients, doctors, nurses, and individuals seeking shelter.

Have you seen intelligence suggesting that that is true, that Hamas uses these hospitals, including Gaza's largest hospital, as command- and-control centers, either in the hospitals or underneath them? Is that something that you believe to be true?

LANKFORD: Actually, again, I can't go into the actual intelligence documents that are out there, but it's long been noted that Hamas uses schools, they use mosques, they use hospitals to actually hide underneath.

They have tunnel systems that are underneath these different facilities, where they can hide fighters, they can hide weapons systems, or ammunition stashes, because they know they can use people in these locations as human shields and as locations that they can use for propaganda to be able to hide out.

They know the Israelis will fight morally, though they are -- Hamas is not fighting morally. Hamas can step in and can slaughter 1,400 people while they're sleeping in their beds, and they hold Israel to a higher standard to say, you won't go after a hospital.

And even when Hamas itself actually launched out rockets and actually struck one of their own hospitals, they blamed Israel for that, which has been well-documented now that that was actually a rocket that was actually fired from within Gaza that hit one of the their own hospitals. But, again, they will blame Israel for any of that.

Israel needs to be restrained in going after Hamas and protecting civilians, as they have been, but Hamas needs to separate their weapons systems from civilian locations.

TAPPER: Congress is now facing the question as to whether to pass President Biden's request for $150 billion in support for Israel, for Ukraine, for Taiwan, the Southern border, and some other issues.

The new House speaker, Mike Johnson, has repeatedly voted against aid for Ukraine. Donald Trump said last night that Ukraine aid and Israel aid should be uncoupled. Would you be OK with that, or do you think it should all remain tied together?

LANKFORD: I would take it either way that we can actually get it at this point if Israel aid comes over initially. We have still got larger debates that have got to happen on the issue of our own Southern border.

Quite frankly, the Biden administration, they sent over some additional requests for funding for our Southern border because so many of us have said, hey, we're working on defending other nations. We're vulnerable in our nation.

We have had 70,000 people in the last two years that have crossed our Southern border that have been released in to the United States that the administration calls special interest aliens. These are individuals, most of them fighting-age men from Iran, from Iraq, from Syria, from other war-torn areas that have crossed into our border and have been released.

We continue to be able to challenge to say, we have got to do more than just identify these individuals and release them into the country. They can't be just released. So, the administration has asked for additional funding.

Unfortunately, the funding that they have asked for actually facilitates faster movement across the border, rather than actually deterring people. So we have got to actually have a change in policy on how we're going to handle parole, how we're going to handle asylum, the most basic elements to deter people, not facilitate faster movement.

So there's a lot to still be done in that time. Israel, we have got to be able to respond quickly on. The other areas, we have got to be able to resolve to make sure we're securing the United States, while we're also securing other countries as well.

TAPPER: All right, Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, thank you so much, sir. Appreciate your time.

LANKFORD: You bet. Thanks.

TAPPER: The last Republican vice president, Mike Pence, has just suspended his presidential campaign. What does that say about his party?

Presidential hopeful Chris Christie joins me next.




FMR. GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R-NJ), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Mike Pence stood for the Constitution.


CHRISTIE: And he deserves not grudging credit. He deserves our thanks as Americans for putting his oath of office and the Constitution of the United States before personal, political and unfair pressure.


TAPPER: A surprise announcement from former Vice President Mike Pence yesterday and another sign that, at least for the GOP, at least at this moment, this is Trump's world, and we're just living in it.

For more, I'm joined by Republican presidential candidate Chris Christie, who you heard just there in a previous debate praising Vice President Pence at a time that very few others on that stage were willing to do so.

So, Governor Christie just this week, House Republicans elected one of the top election deniers as House speaker, Mike Pence dropped out of the race with low single-digit support and not a lot of financial support, Donald Trump is still, in the polls, far and away the leader. But no one's voted yet.

What does this say about the state of your party right now?

CHRISTIE: Well, look, with Mike Pence, I want to say that Mike ran a tough race, a good race. It was very difficult for him.

I think he made the right decision for he and his family to get out of the race. And, look, I think, and, in the end, it just means this race is narrowing, which everyone said that it would. It never goes as fast as some folks would like, but it is narrowing. It'll narrow more, I suspect, when we get to the debate stage in Miami.


And I'm going to be ready to take on Donald Trump when people actually do start to vote in New Hampshire in particular.

TAPPER: Some other candidates, such as Senator Tim Scott, Governor Asa Hutchinson, are polling behind you nationally. Do you think the field needs to consolidate even more?

CHRISTIE: I think the field will consolidate, Jake.

And -- but it's not my place to tell people when to get out. The fact is that we have run a very aggressive campaign. We're the only campaign that's going right at Donald Trump from the day we got in and never varied.

There's other people who want to have it both ways. They want to support him and raise their hands even, if he's a convicted felon. On the other hand, they want to go after him. And every time they say one little criticism, the national media gets all crazy.

We have been consistent and strong. And that's the kind of leadership America needs right now, someone who's a truth-teller consistently every day.

TAPPER: Let's turn to the war in Israel.

President Biden has proposed a $105 billion foreign aid package, which includes support to both Israel and Ukraine and some other -- other priorities. Donald Trump said yesterday that Ukraine aid and Israel aid should be separate, it should be decoupled.

What do you think?

CHRISTIE: Well, this is Donald Trump's, you know, bad world view.

Look, he wants to do it and separates them because he wants to continue to coddle Putin, as he's done from the minute he became president of the United States and then going forward from there. These -- this aid is connected, because these attacks are connected.

There's no doubt that Russia, China, and Iran, and North Korea are all working together to try to disrupt the world and create violence. We need to support Israel, and support them strongly, and we need to support our friends in Ukraine as well.

Remember, Jake, we made a promise to them in 1992, when they removed nuclear missiles and returned them to Russia, that we would protect them if Russia attacked. We need to keep our promises.

TAPPER: Donald Trump tried to do some cleanup last night at the Republican Jewish Coalition Conference in Las Vegas after he made comments criticizing Israel, criticizing Netanyahu, criticizing the defense minister, Gallant, praising Hezbollah.

He blamed Netanyahu purportedly for failing to help with the Soleimani strike, although a lot of people interpreted it because -- as criticizing Netanyahu for congratulating Biden after he won the presidency.

You were there last night. You made comments as well. Did you think that he did sufficient cleanup?

CHRISTIE: Look, the support that Donald Trump feels at the Republican Jewish Coalition is based upon things that he did when he was president, which he does deserve credit for. Moving the embassy to Jerusalem, the Abraham Accords are all things that were good things that he accomplished.

But what he's done and what a second Trump presidency will look like will be much, much different. This is a guy who said: I will be your vindication. I will be -- he will take vengeance against anyone who he thinks has done him wrong.

And it's clear that he thinks that Benjamin Netanyahu has done him wrong and that certain elements that support Israel have done him wrong politically. So I wouldn't count on anything from Donald Trump, except for one thing which you can always count on. He will lie to get himself ahead, and he will always put himself first before any interests and certainly before our country and Israel.

TAPPER: One of the things about Donald Trump's approach to the Middle East was, in the Abraham Accords, he was focused, and Netanyahu was also, on what they called the outside-in approach, which is, have Israel make peace with Bahrain and UAE and Saudi Arabia and others, and then, after they -- Israel had done that, then they could focus on peace with the Palestinians.

That didn't work, obviously. And Trump ignored the Israel-Palestinian peace process, as did, obviously, Netanyahu. As much as the Abraham Accords were a success, they weren't a success when it comes to ignoring the festering problem of peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

CHRISTIE: Well, Jake, I think they were steps in the right direction. And -- but, look, you're right, in that Donald Trump never finishes

what he started. He said he was going to build a wall across the entire border of the United States of Mexico. He built 52 miles of new wall in four years. He said he was going to balance the budget. He added $7.8 trillion in debt. And the same way he said he was going to bring peace to the Middle East, he did not do that, because he didn't finish the job, as you said.


And so, look, if he couldn't do it in the first term with good people around him, imagine what he would do in a second term with the clowns and rogues' gallery he would have around him in a second Trump term, because that's the only people that would actually work for him.

And so we need to keep focused on one thing. Donald Trump is not going to be able to beat Joe Biden from a courtroom in Washington, D.C., while he's fighting his indictment on the January 6 case. And let me tell you, that indictment got much tougher for him to beat when his own chief of staff has now accepted immunity and will testify against him about the lies he told in the aftermath of January 6 and what he was told by his own people about the fact that he had lost the election.

This is going to be a big problem for our party, and we need to cut it off at the pass, get rid of Donald Trump, and move on to honest, strong leadership that will tell the truth.

TAPPER: Governor Chris Christie, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

What exactly does the next stage of the war against Hamas look like? And what does it mean for the civilians trapped in Gaza?

We're back in Tel Aviv in moments.



TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION live from Tel Aviv.

Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his country's next phase of war against Hamas has started CNN.

CNN's Sara Sidner is here.

And, Sara, our colleagues near the border with Gaza have seen tanks and helicopters and fighter jets, but it's not really clear if this is the start of the long-anticipated full ground invasion. What are you hearing?

SARA SIDNER, CNN HOST: Yes, we're not seeing the full ground invasion. We are seeing small -- a smaller ground invasion. That is happening.

There are Israeli troops in Gaza as we speak. They went in a couple of different times, and we heard from Netanyahu that the next phase of the war -- and the next phase of the war could mean that you see the buildup here, you see small groups going in.

The big problem, as you know, Jake is getting out, one, trying to get the hostages out, two. And then, if they do decide to do a large ground invasion, then what? Do you try and take over Gaza and be the governance of Gaza? That is not something that Israel wants to do, from all the context that I have had with people here.

TAPPER: And one thing that I think is interesting that probably people at home don't really understand or maybe even pay attention to is that the degree to which Gaza and Hamas in Gaza and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza are constantly firing rockets into Israel...


TAPPER: ... not just during wartime, but all the time...


TAPPER: ... just not successfully because of the Iron Dome defense system, but two or three times a day even here in Tel Aviv.

And they're aiming at population centers, not military targets.

SIDNER: Yes, I mean, it happens quite regularly.

When you heard people coming from, for example, that music festival on the border with Gaza, they said, well, we thought it was just like the normal rockets that come over, not like something that it turned out to be.

So it does happen quite often. Mostly, you see it there in places like Sderot, very close to Gaza. You see it in Ashkelon. You see it in Ashdod. But what is unusual is that you are seeing it here every single day. Tel Aviv, it doesn't happen all the time. Now, since the war started, you are seeing it every single day.

Just an hour-and-a-half or so ago, we saw rockets intercepted here again. And you get it very, very -- so, it's why the population here is extremely worried. Tel Aviv looks nothing like it would normally look. It is usually filled with people, everyone's on the beach, especially on a weekend, on a Sunday.

You would see people everywhere. You're not seeing that, because people are afraid, and they have gone into their homes, near their safe rooms. And that's just -- it sort of looks like what COVID looked like when COVID first started.


No, it doesn't look like Gaza City.

SIDNER: No, not even close.

TAPPER: But it's not for lack of trying, is my point. SIDNER: Yes, there are a lot of rockets that have been fired. And

without the Iron Dome, we would see a very different scene, although you would never see anything quite like what is going on in Gaza, because they do not have the airpower.

The Israeli military has just been hammering Gaza with airstrikes. And you're seeing this sort of humanitarian crisis build and build and build. But, certainly, if there was no Iron Dome, you would see a heck of a lot more damage and a lot of people who would be injured or killed.

TAPPER: Yes, absolutely.

All right, Sara Sidner, thanks so much.

Up next: It's a life-or-death situation on the ground in Israel and in Gaza, but, in the U.S., some lawmakers are -- seem to be just trying to score political points.

That's next.



TAPPER: The degree to which some folks only pretend to care about antisemitism when they can weaponize it never ceases to amaze.

Allow me to tell you about a brand-new House Republican resolution to censure Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib of Michigan, the first Palestinian-American woman in Congress. Now, accusations of anti- Israel and antisemitic statements from Tlaib are not exactly new, and I'm just talking about from her fellow House Democrats.

Attention on Tlaib refocused after the explosion at the Baptist Hospital in Gaza a week-and-a-half ago. The Hamas-run Palestinian Ministry of Health immediately blamed Israel for what they called a strike, while Israeli and eventually U.S. intelligence ultimately suggested it was more likely from a misfired Palestinian rocket.

Despite all the new evidence, Tlaib waited more than a week to add a clarification to her tweet that others have raised doubts about the claim. She did leave her original tweet up. She got a lot of criticism from fellow Democrats.

And you might be sitting there thinking, OK, I can see why that might bother, even outrage people. But are House Republicans really in a position to censure Tlaib? I mean, the leading Republican presidential nominee, Donald Trump, I mean, he dined with Holocaust deniers.

Donald Trump posted a screed accusing liberal Jews of -- quote -- "voting to destroy America and Israel" last Rosh Hashanah, to nary a peep from any House Republican leaders.

I mean, let's just take as an example, oh, I don't know, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia. I mean, Greene spoke at the white supremacist conference run by Holocaust denier, racist, antisemite Nick Fuentes, who participated in that hateful 2017 Charlottesville rally.

Now, Greene later said she didn't know Fuentes' views, although they were pretty well-known. This is the same Marjorie Taylor Greene who has pushed the Great Replacement Theory in videos, the deranged notion that rich Jews are trying to replace white Americans and Westerners with blacks and brown Muslims, not to mention, of course, her Jewish space laser conspiracy, that a consortium, including, yes, wealthy Jews, were using lasers on satellites to start forest fires.


Here in Israel, Greene has gotten some attention for belittling the Holocaust by tweeting -- quote -- "Joe Biden is Hitler" with the hashtag #NaziJoehasgottogo, and for saying that then Speaker Nancy Pelosi's House floor mask mandate was an abuse, just like how Jews were -- quote -- "put in trains and taken to gas chambers in Nazi Germany."

Under fire, Greene visited the Holocaust Museum and apologized.

So, let me tell you something. You're never going to believe who the Republican offering this motion to censure Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib is. I want you to take a guess. Go ahead. Take a guess. That's right. It's Marjorie Taylor Greene.

And it gets worse, because, when you read Greene's resolution, you realize it is, A, written by someone who seems to have learned about the Arab-Israeli conflict maybe 10 minutes before who maybe didn't even have access to Wikipedia.

And, B, while there are plenty of valid criticisms of Congresswoman Tlaib, this resolution twists a bunch of things that she said beyond recognition. And, C, the resolution seems much more focused on January 6 than it does on October 7.

Throughout its pages, Marjorie Taylor Greene describes this act of civil disobedience from a bunch of left-wing Jewish groups that are critical of Israel's government, this act as an insurrection.

This is not an insurrection. It might be a bunch of folks with whom you disagree. It might be a bunch of people you think are misguided acting in a way you don't like. But this is not an insurrection.

Antisemitism is not a cudgel to be used against people for political points, nor is Islamophobia or racism or anti-gay behavior or misogyny or any other kind of bigotry.

Just over three weeks ago, 1,400 people, mostly Jews, mostly civilians, were slaughtered here in some of the cruelest and most unimaginable ways in the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust.

This shit is not a game.

Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us. "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts next.