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State of the Union
Interview With U.S. Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer; Interview With Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL); Interview With Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD). Aired 9-10a ET
Aired November 19, 2023 - 09:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): All in. With two months until voters weigh in, a new Iowa rivalry heats up.
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I delivered on 100 percent of my promises.
NIKKI HALEY (R), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: All this vendetta stuff, we can't go down that.
TAPPER: Florida's governor is all in on Iowa. Will it pay off?
DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (R) AND CURRENT U.S. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: We have to send a great signal, and then maybe these people just say, OK, it's over then.
TAPPER: Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis is here for an exclusive interview next.
Plus: Choose your opponent. Facing political headwinds...
JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Come on, man.
TAPPER: ... President Biden ramps up his attacks on former President Donald Trump. Will that be enough to sway swing voters? Our panel is here to discuss.
And under pressure. Amid outcry over Gaza deaths, President Biden rejects calls for a cease-fire, while his administration says they're working on a deal to bring back the hostages held by Hamas. Are they close?
Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer is here.
And Maryland Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin joins me exclusively.
TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, D.C., where the state of our union is praying for peace and praying for an end to this conflict as soon as possible. Pro-Palestinian protesters took to the streets all over the United
States this weekend, as President Biden tried to defend his support for Israel, amid a growing divide in his party over Israel's war against Hamas, which has led to the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians and the death of thousands of civilians in Gaza.
The World Health Organization says the Al Shifa Hospital, targeted by Israel as a Hamas headquarters, is now -- quote -- "a death zone." And hours ago, 31 neonatal babies finally were evacuated from inside the hospital.
Also in Northern Gaza -- and I want to warn you this footage that I'm about to show you, it's very disturbing. A horrifying new video showed dozens of bodies, including women and children, lying amid wreckage and covered in dust after a blast rocked a U.N. school that was, according to U.N. authorities, being used as a shelter.
The U.N. said it did not know who was responsible for the incident. The Israeli military said it was reviewing what happened.
On Saturday, President Biden again rejected calls for a cease-fire in the war, President Biden writing in "The Washington Post" that -- quote -- "A cease-fire is not peace." He underlined his support for a two-state solution in the long term, as his administration is working hard to strike a deal between Hamas and Israel to release the hundreds of hostages still being held in Gaza in exchange for some form of pause in the hostilities.
And joining me now is the U.S. deputy national security adviser, Jon Finer.
Jon, thanks for joining us.
So what is the state of negotiations as of this morning? Is there a deal imminent?
JON FINER, U.S. PRINCIPAL DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: Thanks, Jake.
So I think you heard probably the prime minister of Qatar speak to this earlier today. They have been extremely close, obviously, to these negotiations, as we have. The United States has been following this minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour up to the level of the president, for whom this is a major overriding priority, obviously, in part because there are a number of Americans who are in this horrific situation.
What I can say about this at this time is, we think that we are closer than we have been perhaps at any point since these negotiations began weeks ago, that there are areas of difference and disagreement that have been narrowed, if not closed out entirely, but that the mantra that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed certainly applies here to such a sensitive negotiation.
And there is no deal currently in place. We are going to keep at this intensively over the course of the coming hours and days. We believe it is imperative, given how dangerous the situation is in Gaza, to get these people home as soon as we possibly can, but we are not across the line and we are going to stay on top of it.
TAPPER: I assume, from the remark you just made, that it is a requirement for President Biden that any Americans being held by Hamas must be included in any deal, must be released?
FINER: So I'm not going to get into any of the substance of these conversations, in part because we only have really one imperative here, which is to get the deal done.
There will be a time and a place to lay out more detail about exactly what was agreed, if we get to an agreement, and exactly how this came about. But that time isn't now, when we are still in the throes of a lot of back-and-forth to try to finish this deal.
What I will say is, President Biden feels no higher obligation, no higher priority than the safety and security of Americans, all Americans here in the homeland, Americans overseas, but certainly Americans who are held in such a horrific and dangerous condition as those who are being held hostage in Gaza right now.
TAPPER: We know at least three of the hostages kidnapped on October 7 have been killed. The remains of one and the bodies of two have been found.
How many hostages do you believe are still alive?
FINER: So, Jake, we don't have exact numbers. I mean, one of the challenges associated with this is, is, we're not on the ground in Gaza, the United States. We are not in direct contact with Hamas. We do that only through intermediaries.
And so we don't have perfect fidelity about exact numbers of hostages, including numbers who are still alive. But we do believe that there is a significant number of Americans being held, that those Americans are our highest priority, the president's highest priority. They include, by the way, a 3-year-old girl who is an orphan because her parents were murdered by Hamas on October 7.
And so, again, I think you can see and understand exactly why this is such an acute concern, why I'm being a bit careful in terms of laying out detailed information, because, really, first and foremost, we just want to get this deal done.
TAPPER: Meanwhile, the devastation in Gaza continues as the IDF targets Hamas.
The U.N. says one of its schools in Northern Gaza was struck yesterday. The school was being used as a shelter, they say. Video from the scene does seem to show dozens of dead bodies, including the bodies of women and children.
What do you know about this strike? Does the administration believe this was the result of an Israeli strike?
FINER: So, we are still gathering information about this incident that just happened yesterday. We have been in direct contact with UNRWA, the U.N. agency on the ground in Gaza, which, by the way, has lost more than 100 members of its own staff, people who are going around distributing assistance inside Gaza.
I met virtually with the head of UNRWA just a couple of days ago. What I can say at this point -- and we're also in touch with the Israelis to try to find out what they know about what happened -- is that, if harm was done to innocent civilians sheltering at a U.N. site, that would be totally unacceptable.
And so we're going to continue to try to look into what happened in this incident. When we know more, we will share it.
TAPPER: President Biden, when he traveled to Israel after Hamas attacked on October 7 and killed roughly 1,200 Israelis, President Biden warned Israel not to make the same mistakes that America did after 9/11, not to allow rage to consume them, not to allow rage to guide their response.
You, more than those of us watching the show right now and more than me, know how much the Israeli military is actually targeting Hamas, whether the Israelis are actually doing everything they possibly can to avoid civilian casualties, how bad the civilian death toll actually is, as opposed to what the Hamas-run Palestinian Health Ministry claims, how widespread the destruction actually is in Gaza.
Do you think the Israelis took Biden's advice about not allowing retaliation to be driven by rage?
FINER: What I can say about this is, it's not an assessment that can be made based on a snapshot at a particular moment. This is an ongoing conversation between the United States and the government of Israel.
And when there are incidents that take place like the one that you just mentioned that raise concerns, that suggest possibly that there has not been enough care taken about innocent Palestinian lives, which, in our view, are equal to innocent lives anywhere, that should go without saying, we raise those concerns directly with the government of Israel.
The president has raised those concerns directly with the prime minister. So, for us, it is less about a real-time assessment and much more about an ongoing process to try to steer things in the best possible direction, including for whatever combat remains during the course of this conflict.
We believe the government of Israel can draw, should draw lessons based on how the operations in the north have gone and apply those lessons to wherever it takes this conflict going forward.
TAPPER: A growing number of House and Senate Democrats are pushing for the administration to put conditions on the aid that continues to go to Israel. Senator Bernie Sanders, for example, says that any U.S. aid must be
contingent on Israel ending what he calls indiscriminate bombing in Gaza, committing to not reoccupy Gaza, reentering peace negotiations for a future two-state solution.
What do you think about that? What do you think about conditions on future aid?
FINER: Well, I guess what I would say about that, Jake, at this point is, no assistance that the United States provides to any country is unconditional.
It comes with a requirement that that aid be used consistent with international law, consistent with the law of armed conflict. And I want to also be clear that the president has said that Israel has every right to defend itself against the horrific attacks that took place on October 7.
That is every country's right. That is certainly Israel's right. And we are not only supporting that right rhetorically. We as -- we are, as you said, providing assistance to Israel, so that it can do that in the most effective possible way.
But to the points that we were talking about just earlier in this same conversation, those rights come with obligations. And that obligation includes conducting this conflict in a way that distinguishes civilians from noncombatants in a way that is proportional.
All of the requirements associated with international humanitarian law are applicable here. The last thing I will say on this, though, and it's important to bear in mind, is that Israel is fighting an adversary that not only does not hold itself to these same standards; it openly boasts about flouting them and about its violations, flagrant violations of international law.
That is -- does not diminish Israel's obligations, but it is a facet of this conflict that makes the challenge extremely daunting.
TAPPER: Jonathan Finer, thanks so much for your time today.
FINER: Thank you.
TAPPER: President Trump is asking Iowans to give him a decisive victory in January at the Iowa caucus.
My next guest says he is the best chance to stop that, that he's going to win the Iowa caucus. Republican candidate Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida is here exclusively next.
Plus, a big birthday for President Biden. My panel breaks down his new campaign strategy. That's coming up.
TAPPER: And welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.
We're less than two months out from the Iowa caucuses, believe it or not. And, last night, former President Trump urged his supporters in Iowa to help him seal up the nomination in mid-January.
But with the fierce battle under way between two of his rivals, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis says he is still the one that has the best chance to challenge and defeat Donald Trump. And he says Trump's attacks against him prove it.
Joining us now from Iowa is Republican presidential candidate Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida.
Thanks so much, Governor.
I want to start on Israel. President Biden is out with a new op-ed this week. He calls for a two-state solution, ultimately. Even before the October 7 attacks, you have cast doubt on President Biden's calls for a two-state solution.
How do you think this should end, then, for the Palestinians? Do you think Israel should occupy the Gaza Strip? What's your view of what comes after Hamas is defeated?
DESANTIS: Well, I think the fatal flaw with the push for a so-called two-state solution is that the Palestinian Arabs have never embraced Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state.
I mean, that ultimately, when Israel's made offers in the past, that was the sticking point. And so you don't want a two-state that ends up just being a stepping-stone to the destruction of Israel. I don't think that that should be contingent on any aid that they pursue that.
And I would also note, Jake, for many, many decades, people in D.C. said, you're never going to be able to have relations in the Middle East between Israel and any other country unless you had that. And yet we saw under the Trump administration the Abraham Accords, where they were able to make peace with many countries in the Middle East and probably would have ended up being able to do it with Saudi Arabia had we not had the October 7 attack.
Now, going forward, I think Israel needs to do what it's going to -- what is best to defend themselves. I would note Gaza was not under Israeli occupation. They pulled out in 2006. They uprooted thousands of their own Israeli citizens and forced them to leave the Gaza Strip. And the idea was, give the Arabs down there an opportunity to make something of it.
And, unfortunately, they turned to Hamas. And Hamas used money to build a big terrorist infrastructure and ultimately wage attacks for many years, and then the devastating October 7 attack. Israel cannot allow history to repeat itself.
TAPPER: Right, but what comes next? I mean, I think that you would agree probably that Israel occupying Gaza is not going to result in peace in the region. Do you think that there should be a Palestinian state where Gaza is?
DESANTIS: Oh, I mean, I think that that would end up becoming a hotbed of terrorism.
I think we need to let Israel win this war. We should support them publicly and privately to actually finish the job, because, if you just do some glancing blows, Hamas reconstitute itself, we're going to end up in this same cycle going forward.
And Israel is in a situation where they suffered the biggest attack on Jews since the Holocaust. You have an organization in Hamas that wants to wipe Israel totally off the map. This is not just some minor dispute. This is an existential threat to the survival of the world's only Jewish state.
So I think they have to do whatever they can to protect their people and to make sure that this never happens again.
TAPPER: Something happened the other day that I wondered what you thought about, because you launched your campaign on Twitter, now known as X.
And, right now, major companies such as Apple and Disney are pulling their ads from X because Elon Musk openly endorsed this antisemitic conspiracy theory that Jews are conspiring to replace white Americans with minority immigrants.
I wondered if you saw the comment and if you condemn it.
DESANTIS: I did not see the comment.
And so I know that Elon has had a target on his back ever since he purchased Twitter, because I think he's taking it in a direction that a lot of people who are used to controlling the narrative don't like. So I was a big supporter of him purchasing Twitter. I think that they're obviously still working some stuff out, but I did not see those comments.
TAPPER: All right, well, let me just show you.
So here's a post claiming that Jews are pushing dialectical hatred against whites and are flooding the country with hordes of minorities. And Elon Musk replies: "You have said the actual truth." He goes on to say that he's talking about the ADL and other Jewish groups are pushing replacements of whites.
It's a lot of condemnation for singling out a specific religious group during this time of rapidly rising antisemitism. I know you're very -- you have been very out front when you see antisemitism on the left. Is antisemitism on the right something that concerns you as well?
DESANTIS: Across the board.
And, actually, I think, in the advent of these attacks, the amount of antisemitism that we have seen has really surprised me. And I'm somebody that signed major legislation in Florida to combat antisemitism on college campuses. And yet what you have seen come out since then -- and you have seen it on both sides.
But I would say this. The difference is, is that, on the left, that tends to be attached to some major institutional power, like some of our most august universities, whereas I think, on the right, it tends to be more fringe voices that are doing it.
But it's wrong no matter what. And I don't think that we have seen antisemitism this bad in the world probably since the Second World War.
TAPPER: I don't know how fringe the voices are, to be completely frank. I mean, Elon Musk is the wealthiest man in the world.
And we have seen some major conservative media figures, Charlie Kirk, Candace Owens, and others, pushing really, really hateful stuff, backing these nonsensical theories of white genocide, White Replacement Theory. And I would ask that major Republican figures like you use your voices as well to stand against it.
But let's turn on -- turn to another topic.
DESANTIS: Yes, but, Jake, with all due respect...
TAPPER: Go ahead.
DESANTIS: But with all -- with all due respect on that, I mean, to have somebody who's, like, blogging and doing stuff like that, OK, that's an issue.
But to compare that for how some of these most powerful universities in the country have responded to this, we have Jewish students fleeing for their lives because you have angry mobs. And yet they have not done what they need to do to protect the safety and well-being of those students.
I have constituents in Florida whose kids don't even want to go to campus in the advent of this because of such a hostile environment. So I do think, on the institutional side, you have seen this become part of a left-wing movement, a very significant pro-Hamas movement, and it is backed by institutional power.
TAPPER: Yes, absolutely. Jewish students, just like Muslim students, black students, gay students, any -- all students should feel safe on campuses, and the concern Jewish students have right now is very serious.
I'm just saying, Elon Musk is a pretty powerful guy, and he's out there endorsing some pretty hideous antisemitic conspiracy theories. And I still haven't heard you condemn it.
DESANTIS: Well, because I haven't seen it. I know you tried to read it. I have no idea what the context is.
I know Elon Musk. I have never seen him do anything. I think he's a guy that believes in America. I have never seen him indulge in any of that. So it's surprising, if that's true, but I have not seen it. So I don't want to sit there and pass judgment on the fly.
TAPPER: Let's turn to President Biden this week at his Chinese -- at his summit, the Pacific summit.
He referred to Chinese President Xi Jinping as a dictator. Now, yesterday, you agreed with that, but you also criticized personal diplomacy more generally. You said -- quote -- "You're not going to win these guys over with personal charm. I mean, these guys are killers" -- unquote.
Just to be clear, you're calling Xi Jinping a killer?
DESANTIS: Well, look, what's been happening to the Uyghurs? What's been happening in so many places in China? Of course he's an authoritarian. Of course he's a dictator.
He's ruling the country with an iron fist. And I think that the summit was a big win for Xi in terms of the propaganda. You had American business leaders paying $40,000 to be able to sit with him at dinner. He got a rousing ovation from a lot of American CEOs.
I know that's already being played in China as an example of China basically being America's equal on the world stage. I don't think Joe Biden got anything of note out of this. I mean, they talk about cooperating for fentanyl, as if China doesn't know the fentanyl is being sent to Mexico and into the United States. Of course they know.
This is part of their national strategy to hurt this country. So I think it was a bust from Biden's perspective and I think it was a win for Xi.
TAPPER: You also attacked Governor Nikki Haley this week over her response to the death of George Floyd. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
DESANTIS: She was tweeting that it needed to be personal and painful for every single person. And I'm thinking to myself, why does that need to be personal and painful for you or me? We had nothing to do with it.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
TAPPER: So, the officer who knelt on George Floyd's back for almost 10 agonizing minutes, which we saw because that young girl filmed it, he was ultimately convicted of murder. I'm sure you saw the video.
I guess what I -- what I think Nikki Haley was -- was talking about... (CROSSTALK)
DESANTIS: Yes, look, that's fine, Jake. And he should be held accountable.
TAPPER: Let me just -- let me just...
TAPPER: Yes, yes. Let me just ask my question.
I think what Governor Haley was going for -- and I don't speak for her -- but I think what she was going for is, like, watching the video is painful for Americans to see. And do you not think that empathy is an important quality for a U.S. president?
DESANTIS: Of course it is. Nobody's saying that.
But to say that the actions of one police officer means that Americans in Iowa or Texas or Florida, that it should be painful for them, when they had nothing to do with it, that does not make any sense. And so that individual was arrested. He went through a criminal process. But that is not emblematic of police officers in general, much less the American public in general.
And I would note that was said at the time when we started to see the unrest in this country. And you had massive riots that have destroyed cities like Minneapolis. It's going to take decades for Minneapolis to be able to recover.
So the response to that was totally out of bounds. We didn't let that happen in Florida. I called out the National Guard. But that rioting was an absolute disgrace. And it hurt this country.
TAPPER: Your campaign keeps a running list and keeps tweeting a running list of Donald Trump's fumbles and accidents and confused moments -- that's what they call them -- saying this is why his handlers won't let him debate, noting times that Trump has forgotten what state he's in, times that Trump has confused Obama and Biden, times he's confused Nikki Haley and Kristi Noem, and on and on.
What exactly are you saying about Donald Trump's mental fitness? Do you think he's too old to be president?
DESANTIS: So I have said publicly the presidency's not a job for an 80-year-old, that Donald Trump would actually be older on January 20, 2025, than Biden was on January 20, 2021.
But I think it's part of a larger issue that this is not the same guy as the Trump in 2015 and '16. That Trump would show up on the debate stage. He'd barnstorm. Yes, he was off-color, he was edgy, but it was all part of an idea that he was really going to shake things up.
Now he's wedded to the teleprompter. He's not willing to debate. And he's running on many of the same things he promised to do in 2016 and didn't deliver. For example, he said he was going to build a wall and have Mexico pay for it.
Jake, he didn't build the wall, and Mexico sure didn't pay for it, because you would not have been able to have eight million people come in illegally if we had a fully constructed wall. He also said he would drain the swamp, and yet the swamp is more powerful than ever. So, he didn't do it the first time. I don't know what makes you think he's going to do it this time.
But he should show up to debate, prove that he can sit on that stage for two hours, defend his record, defend his decisions, and tell people why he should be the choice going forward, because what I have made the point is simple. Donald Trump's a high-risk proposition as a nominee, because I think the chance of him getting elected is small.
But it's a low reward, because he's going to be a lame-duck on day one even if he could get elected. He would not be able to attract the type of talent to work in his administration, and he'd be saddled with all these distractions, that it would be virtually impossible to get the job done.
TAPPER: But is -- are you and your campaign saying that he has lost his sharpness, his mental acuity, and are you saying he will lose to Joe Biden?
DESANTIS: Well, I wouldn't be running unless I thought that the Democrats would beat Trump if he were the nominee.
I mean, they're going very easy on him right now. I mean, they're not saying much. The minute -- if he were to be the nominee, I mean, you're going to see scorched earth. You're going to see all the stuff brought up from the past. And the whole election will end up being a referendum on Donald Trump, and Biden will be able to hang out in the basement.
And I think he will be able to get away with it again. Look, when you get to this point -- the presidency is not a job for somebody that's pushing 80 years old. I just think that that's something that has been shown with Joe Biden. Father time is undefeated. Donald Trump is not exempt from any of that.
I think, with somebody like me, you go in, I'm in the prime of my life. I go in day one. I will serve two terms, deliver big results, and get the country moving again. That's what Republican voters want to see.
TAPPER: You also noted in an interview in Iowa that, instead of focusing on his first day in office on building the wall, that Donald Trump was obsessed with crowd sizes at his inaugural, he was distracted with that.
Why do you think he gets distracted with things like that? What is it about him that makes him get distracted with things like that, do you think?
DESANTIS: I don't know.
But if you go back to that, when he took office, we had just come off eight years of Obama. Republicans had a lot of pent-up demand to see some change. He was the vehicle for that. He made some big promises. And then it just seemed like every little controversy would bubble up and he would get distracted by going down those rabbit holes.
I just think it's important that you focus on true north. Why are you there? Every single day, the narrative, the chatter is going to try to divert you off course. And you just need to have focus and you need to have discipline that you're going to be able to get the job done and wade through all the choppy seas.
Why he cared about the crowd size, I don't know. But I can tell you this. If I had been in his shoes, I would have declared the border to be a national emergency on day one and I would have begun the mobilization to make sure that we secure it and build the wall. That did not happen under his administration.
And now the situation is as worse as it's ever been.
TAPPER: All right, Governor Ron DeSantis in Iowa, thanks so much. Appreciate you being here today.
DESANTIS: Thank you.
TAPPER: A growing split in the Democratic Party.
I'm going to ask Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin of Maryland about the latest flash point.
Plus, a judge saying -- saying Trump engaged in insurrection -- that's next.
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION. I remain Jake Tapper.
Donald Trump celebrated last night after a Colorado judge rejected an attempt to remove him from the state's primary ballot. But the judge's ruling also offered a searing condemnation of Trump's actions, saying he -- quote -- "engaged in an insurrection" on January 6, 2021.
Joining me now, Democratic Congressman Jamie Raskin in Maryland. He was the lead manager of Trump's second impeachment.
And, Congressman, I will get to that ruling in a moment. I also want to start -- I want to talk about Israel.
But you wanted to weigh in on the interview I just did with Governor DeSantis, specifically about Elon Musk. What did you want to say?
REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, the guys running for president, and Elon Musk did that on Wednesday. It's Sunday, so this is four days later. And he has not had the chance to read what Elon Musk wrote?
That is very hard for me to believe. In any event, you showed it to him, and he still refused to condemn it.
So, if you're serious about condemning and confronting antisemitism and racism and these bigotries which are the gateway to destruction of liberal democracy, you have got to be explicit and open and full- throated about it, and you have got to denounce antisemitism and racism across the board.
TAPPER: What was your reactions of what Elon -- Elon Musk's...
RASKIN: I thought it was outrageous and dangerous.
And we will be taking action with colleagues this week to write to him, to ask him to renounce those comments and to clean up his act.
I mean, the thing about the White Replacement Theory -- and I have got a lot of other topics I want to talk about -- White Replacement Theory and the white genocide, all that nonsense, is, like, that stuff gets people killed at the Tree of Life Synagogue shooting, the El Paso shooting.
RASKIN: The Buffalo...
TAPPER: The Buffalo shooting.
So, anyway, moving on with -- let's start with Israel, because you called for the immediate release of all hostages and immediate cessation of hostilities against any civilian targets and a mutually- agreed-upon cease fire.
Now, first, let's -- let's unpack that. Israel denies that they're targeting any civilian targets. They say they're going after Hamas, and Hamas embeds in civilian -- within the civilian populace.
So, I'm wondering, are you -- when you call for immediate cessation of hostilities against any civilian targets, are you saying the Israelis are not telling the truth? What are you suggesting?
RASKIN: Well, we know that there have been more than 11,000 casualties on the Palestinian side.
TAPPER: So you believe the Palestinian Ministry of Health figures?
RASKIN: I mean, if it were half of that, it is still an absolute tragedy.
TAPPER: Absolutely. RASKIN: But -- so, I'm not interested in the game of playing with
numbers. I mean, if you just open your eyes, you can see there are terrible casualties taking place.
The hostages must be released. That is a humanitarian crisis in itself. There is a humanitarian crisis within Gaza. The world is demanding that there be action, so that there be humanitarian relief. And I'm glad that Israel, the administration, and people negotiating on the other side appear to be on the precipice of release of dozens of hostages, probably women and children, and also a break in the fighting for five or six days, is what we have been hearing.
So that moves it in the right direction.
TAPPER: Do you want a cease-fire?
RASKIN: But another point that I made was, we need to have the removal of the terrorist death cult Hamas from operational control in Gaza.
But who does that?
TAPPER: If Israel doesn't do that, who does that?
RASKIN: Well, we are in a place where we need every actor and everybody in the world to be concentrated on that. Hamas has got to go.
TAPPER: But they have been there since 2006, 2007. Egypt's there.
TAPPER: They set up a blockade.
TAPPER: Jordan's there. Syria's there. Lebanon's there. The UAE's there. Saudi Arabia is there. Bahrain's there.
Nobody has done anything to get rid of Hamas there.
RASKIN: Including Prime Minister Netanyahu, who thought that he could lean towards Hamas...
RASKIN: ... and use that as part of a divide-and-conquer strategy. And the world has got to get beyond that kind of absurd power
politics. It is a terrorist, medieval death cult, which just assassinated more than 1,200 Israelis. And...
TAPPER: So, you think there should be a cease-fire, and, in exchange for the cease-fire, the Israelis get back their hostages and Hamas goes?
RASKIN: The underlying -- yes, that is part of it.
TAPPER: Well, that -- of course.
RASKIN: That is part of it.
But the underlying political dynamic is that there must be a recognition of the interest of the people in Gaza to democracy, to freedom, and their rights. So there's got to be a democratic Palestinian state that emerges from this nightmare...
RASKIN: ... that is safe and secure, and we have a safe and secure Israel to go with it.
Otherwise, we're going to keep reenacting this cycle of bloody violence and revenge forever. So, this is an opportunity -- and I think that President Biden and Secretary Blinken and people all over the world see it -- to get beyond this kind of madness.
I mean, I saw the tape that was made of the slashing, homicidal, terrorist attacks that took place in Israel.
RASKIN: And it's like we have 21st century technology, but 14th century brains. And we have got to be a lot smarter about where we are now.
TAPPER: Let me tell you, there's worse stuff than that. That stuff is awful, but there's actually worse stuff than that.
But I want to ask you about the video this week of the pro-Palestinian protest outside the DNC that turned violent, outside the Democratic headquarters.
TAPPER: And there were members in there, not all of them, but some of them were with the Democratic Socialists of America, the New York branch, which celebrated on October 7, saying that it was legitimate resistance.
At another rally just down the street from here at Union Station, crowds were chanting: "From the river to the sea. Long live the intifada."
What do you make of this, as a Jewish American, a proud progressive, a Democrat? There's antisemitism in the Democratic Party these days.
RASKIN: Well, I mean, there's antisemitism everywhere these days, as we were discussing with Elon Musk.
RASKIN: And, I mean, we're talking about a problem that goes back thousands of years, obviously.
I was very disappointed to see what happened over at the DNC the other day. I mean, I'm glad that there are young people who are taking an interest in peace and social justice. And those people, I encourage.
But for those who are somehow tempted to engage in pushing and shoving, like Kevin McCarthy in Congress, but doing it outside, I'm totally opposed to that. They should study the history of nonviolent movements in America, like the women's movement, the civil rights movement, the LGBTQ movement, the environmental movement, that have been the great civilizing movements of our time and of American history that have transformed things.
And that does work better than violence.
Speaking of violence, on Friday, a Colorado judge rejected an effort to leave Trump off the 2024 ballot using the 14th Amendment. But I want to read from the ruling -- quote -- "The court concludes Trump acted with the specific intent to incite political violence and direct it at the Capitol with the purpose of disrupting the electoral certification. Consequently, the court finds that the petitioners have established Trump engaged in an insurrection on January 6, 2021."
Is that legally significant?
RASKIN: Of course it is. And they found exactly what the House of Representatives found when we impeached Donald Trump for inciting insurrection against the Constitution and against the union.
It's what 57 of 100 senators found in voting to convict Trump on those same charges. And that is the paradigm act of domestic violence of our time, which Republicans like DeSantis will never reject or renounce or denounce. So, everything else that they say about it is phony, because that goes right to the heart of our union.
Now, the Colorado court's decision was amazing, because it said there's no doubt that Donald Trump incited insurrection against the union within the meaning of the 14th Amendment Section 3. But the court said it doubted whether or not the president is actually covered by that language, whether the president is a civil or military officer of the United States.
I mean, that, to me, is preposterous. In fact, the judge herself said it sounds preposterous. And I think that that's the issue now that we're going to zero in on. Does the 14th Amendment apply to everybody who holds office in America, or does it apply to everybody except for the president of the United States, the one person who would be best positioned to try to overthrow the government, as we saw in January of 2021?
TAPPER: Congressman Raskin, thank you so much for being here.
And, for anybody wondering at home, I already asked him, and his cancer is in remission, which is wonderful news.
Have a great Thanksgiving with your family.
RASKIN: Thanks for having me, Jake.
TAPPER: Thank you for being here.
Is there a growing chance that a Republican not named Donald Trump could win in a key elect -- early voting state?
Our panel will break it down next.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DESANTIS: Donald Trump's a high-risk proposition as a nominee, because I think the chance of him getting elected is small.
But it's a low reward, because he's going to be a lame-duck on day one even if he could get elected. He would not be able to attract the type of talent to work in his administration, and he'd be saddled with all these distractions, that it would be virtually impossible to get the job done.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Welcome back to STATE OF THE UNION.
Ron DeSantis there, Florida governor, taking some shots at the Republican front-runner.
Is it enough?
Let's talk about it with my panel.
Alyssa Farah, what did you think of Governor DeSantis on the show this morning?
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Some of the tougher comments he's made against the former president.
Where I do take issue with his argument is that Donald Trump would be a lame-duck president. No, in fact, he wouldn't be constrained by the barriers that come with having to run for reelection. So what I mean is, he'd be a very dangerous president. He would be willing to do things and stretch the executive branch and how he runs our government in a way that I think would test American democracy in a great way.
So, I disagree with him on that. Listen, Ron DeSantis has an Iowa-or- bust strategy. He got the endorsement of Kim Reynolds. That's great. I don't see it being enough to pull through. My eyes are on New Hampshire, where Nikki Haley is moving up, and I think we should look at where the governor, Governor Chris Sununu, ends up going.
Does he end up backing in Nikki Haley? Because that could be enough to put her within striking distance.
TAPPER: What do you think of what the governor had to say on the show today?
ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I found it interesting that he wouldn't just call out Elon Musk for his antisemitic comments.
TAPPER: You don't believe that he didn't see the tweet?
ALLISON: No, I don't believe -- no. He launched his campaign on the platform. And he said he was good friends with Elon and he knows Elon. So, I would assume he would probably be monitoring what he's saying on Twitter, including his antisemitic remark.
So, there's no place for antisemitism anywhere. And I would hope, as a president -- someone wants to be president, he would have been a little more steadfast on it.
TAPPER: What did you make of it?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I thought he was pretty good on most of the questions.
Obviously, he's making a strategic argument, which is, Trump's the most likely one of us to lose. But the problem with that argument is, is that you have all this national polling coming out showing Trump beating Joe Biden, maybe by not as much as, say, Nikki Haley or others, but he's still winning.
And even NBC this morning has him ahead. And so that strategic argument, to me, whether you're DeSantis or Haley or anyone else, I think the steam has come out of that. And I think...
TAPPER: Although all the polls consistently show Haley as the strongest candidate...
TAPPER: ... against Biden over and over and over.
JENNINGS: And she hasn't faced any attacks from Trump yet. She hasn't faced that... TAPPER: Well, he calls her birdbrain.
JENNINGS: No, how much -- how much -- how much money has been spent against Ron DeSantis? How much time has been spent by the national press putting him through the grinder?
Democrats have focused on Ron DeSantis for the last year-and-a-half. Haley hasn't faced that. I assume she will soon, for the reason Alyssa just said, because she is moving up right now. So, when she begins to face that scrutiny, I expect there to be some normalization of that.
I think a lot of chips are going in Iowa right now. Vander Plaats looks like he may be headed to DeSantis. He's got Kim Reynolds. Haley got a big endorsement from the Right to Life former executive director the other day. You can see that I think New Hampshire is interesting.
To me, though, this has always been about Iowa. Can anyone get within spitting distance from Trump? They're not there yet, but you can see the -- they're furiously trying.
KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: But you also didn't hear anything from Ron DeSantis in that interview about how he's going to get over this problem Republicans have with abortion.
And I think, until -- until there is a grappling with that, until...
TAPPER: That's my fault. I didn't ask him about it, by the way.
I had questions about it. I didn't -- we didn't get...
ALLISON: But we know where he stands, six weeks. So...
BEDINGFIELD: I think -- I think -- well, right, exactly.
BEDINGFIELD: And so I think, as long as we're discussing these other issues, which, of course, are significant, what we have seen time and again at the ballot box is that the Republican position, the embrace of a national ban in Florida, a six-week ban, is not palatable to voters.
And so until he grapples with that, until they all grapple with that, I think they are going to continue to run into a buzz saw at the ballot box.
TAPPER: How much do you think that that's going to be a factor for whoever is the Republican nominee?
FARAH GRIFFIN: I think it could end up being one of the top five most important issues in the election.
And I think there are some candidates who have laid out a nuanced, thoughtful take that represents where the vast majority of the country is. I don't mean to pump Nikki Haley's tires too much, but 15 weeks, that models most of Europe. It's 69 percent of Americans right, left, and center support somewhere around there with exceptions at all times.
I think it's much harder to make a case of something like a six weeks. I think that's radioactive in a general election. But what is interesting to me is the Donald Trump factor. No living person is more responsible for Roe coming down than Donald Trump.
But, for some reason, there seems to be a cognitive disconnect with voters that they don't really equate it to him. They don't associate it as much with him. Yes, he does well with evangelicals and on the right, but there's -- his numbers with independents are actually quite good at this point, based on this latest polling.
ALLISON: But I can just say, Nikki Haley has not always been where she is saying now. And I think that will come back to bite her later.
And I think that Democrats will have to hold her feet to the fire. Sure, you can change your position, but she's been very clear. This is a new "I want to win the Republican nominee."
BEDINGFIELD: She said this week -- wait, wait, wait. But she said this week she'd sign a six-week ban if it came to her desk. She said that this week.
FARAH GRIFFIN: And that is not getting to anyone's desk, for the record.
JENNINGS: This is all -- I mean, this is -- yes, it's going to be a big issue, because it's all they have. I mean, look at Biden's numbers on the economy. Look at the concerns about his mental acuity.
Look at the concerns all voters, including Democrat voters, have about his handling of foreign policy. It's literally all they have.
TAPPER: Speaking of Biden's numbers, tomorrow, Biden turns 81. Happy birthday, Joe Biden.
BEDINGFIELD: Happy birthday.
TAPPER: If you're watching, happy birthday, Joe Biden.
ALLISON: Happy birthday.
TAPPER: You're turning 81. And that's a milestone that is unlikely to quiet the persistent concerns within his party about his age, although you heard Ron DeSantis talk about Donald Trump's age this morning, which was interesting.
America's oldest president, and his team say age is just a number. But Obama adviser David Axelrod says they need to face reality -- quote -- "I think he has a 50/50 shot here, but no better than that, maybe a little worse," he says, he told Maureen Dowd.
"He thinks he can cheat nature here, and it's really risky. They have got a real problem if they're counting on Trump to win it for them, I remember Hillary doing that too."
Well, Donald Trump's birthday is June 14, and he will turn 78. So I do think, at the end of the day, once this campaign has started in earnest, this discussion of age is going to sort of move to the side. It doesn't mean that voters aren't concerned. Of course they are. We see that in the polling.
The president has acknowledged that. The president's team has acknowledged that. But at the end of the day, people vote based on what the person is going to do for them, for their lives.
And so when the conversation is what is Joe Biden's agenda of protecting freedoms, of expanding power for the middle class, of raising wages, how does that compare to Donald Trump's consistent effort to take away your freedom to vote, to take away your right to get an abortion, that conversation is going to be a different conversation than the one we're having right now.
It doesn't mean the campaign's ignoring age.
BEDINGFIELD: But it means, at the end of the day, voters go to the ballot box based on what the president's going to do for them.
FARAH GRIFFIN: I think Democrats may be sleeping on a generational issue that could be significant in the election, which is the support for the Israel-Hamas war.
When you look at the numbers of where young progressives are or anyone young and left of center, it is not where Joe Biden is. I'm close to where Joe Biden is on the issue. That could be something that could either leave young voters home or could actually get them rallying against him in a significant way.
And I don't think that that's...
ALLISON: Can I just say, my last job in the Biden campaign was to actually engage young voters, black voters, building the coalition. This time four years ago, Joe Biden was almost at the exact same
position. Most people in the Democratic Party did not want him to be the Democratic nominee. The job of the campaign, and now he is governing, is to go out and meet voters where they are.
You are right. A lot of young progressives are not happy. But we also had the deputy security director on today talking about how they are going and working with and doing negotiations to, one, get the hostages back and to pause the atrocities that are not just happening on October 7, but are also happening in Palestine right now.
So, I think you are seeing the Biden administration listening to its base...
ALLISON: ... listening -- it might not get all the way there, but that is what you're supposed to do as a campaign.
TAPPER: Scott, 15 seconds.
JENNINGS: What's more likely, that Donald Trump can hold his core base together or that Joe Biden, with his problems with African- American voters, with his problems with young voters, with his problems with people who just think he hasn't kept his promises, can hold his base together?
I think it's far more likely that Trump can hold his.
BEDINGFIELD: But Trump's base isn't enough alone.
BEDINGFIELD: And Trump can't speak to the middle the way Joe Biden can. So the numbers -- under your scenario, the numbers don't get Trump there.
TAPPER: All right, have a wonderful...
FARAH GRIFFIN: And there needs to be a New Hampshire miracle.
TAPPER: ... wonderful Thanksgiving to all of you. I hope you have a wonderful and loving and delicious Thanksgiving to all of you.
Thank you for spending your Sunday morning with us. Same to you. Same to you on Thanksgiving.
"FAREED ZAKARIA GPS" starts right now.