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State of the Union

Interview With Former CIA Director David Petraeus; Interview With Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL); Interview With Sen. John Fetterman (D- PA); Interview With Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH). Aired 9-10a ET

Aired April 14, 2024 - 09:00   ET




JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST (voice-over): Unprecedented attack. Iran fires hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel, risking a regional war.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Israel's enemies right now want to destroy Israel.

TAPPER: With Israel already fighting on two fronts, how will it respond? Florida Senator Marco Rubio joins me live.

Plus: urgent push. In the wake of Iran's attack, Congress moves on aid to Israel after Republicans block the foreign aid package over Ukraine.

SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): Israel is being held hostage for Ukraine.

TAPPER: Will Iran's attack sway their votes? Ohio Senator J.D. Vance is here exclusively.

And fine line. President Biden condemns Iran's assault, but is walking a fine line of helping an ally...

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're going to do all we can to protect Israel's security.

TAPPER: ... without getting pulled in deeper. Can the U.S. help stave off further conflict?

Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman is next.


ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

TAPPER: Hello. I'm Jake Tapper in Washington, where the state of our union is on edge.

We are continuing to follow the news out of the Middle East. This morning, Israeli war cabinet officials are meeting right now to decide on a response to Iran's unprecedented overnight assault on Israel. That's according to an Israeli official. Israel says Iran fired around 170 attack drones, more than 30 cruise missiles, and more than 120 ballistic missiles on Israel from Iran during an attack that was about five hours' long.

President Biden is set to convene an emergency meeting of the G7 today, and the United Nations Security Council is also holding an emergency meeting this afternoon, after meeting with his national security team late into the night.

Biden telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Israel should consider this a win, since there were no major fatalities caused by the Iranian strikes, and Biden also telling Netanyahu that the United States would not participate in any offensive operations against Iran. That's according to a senior Biden administration official.

Iran, for its part, says it was retaliating for a strike in Syria earlier this month in which several top Iranian military officials were killed. What comes next? Will the United States be able to prevent further escalation?

Let's start our coverage right now with CNN correspondent Jeremy Diamond, who's in Northern Israel.

Jeremy, what's the latest where you are?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, over the course of the morning, we have seen, as Hezbollah fired dozens of rockets in the direction of Northern Israel and the Golan Heights, Israel today responding with multiple airstrikes.

Of course, this all came hours after Iran over the course of five hours fired over 300 drones and missiles targeting Israel, although very few of those actually made it through. Only a few ballistic missiles, according to the Israeli military, actually hit the Nevatim Air Base in Southern Israel, calling what the Israeli military has described as minor damage.

But now, of course, Jake, the question poses itself as to how exactly Israel will respond. I spoke with an Israeli official this afternoon who told me that Israel will respond. The question now is exactly how and how big of a response there is.

In the words of this official, the choice is between breaking the dishes, as they described it, going all out, shifting the paradigm fully in terms of these Iran-Israel -- this long-simmering proxy war between these two sides that has now significantly escalated, or perhaps a more measured response that would also reflect the fact that, despite the large-scale nature of this attack by Iran, that very few of those missiles actually made it through Israel and other countries' defense systems.

So, the Israeli war cabinet, which is comprised of the Israeli prime minister, his -- the former defense minister, Benny Gantz, his top political adversary, as well as the defense minister, Yoav Gallant, and several other observers in that war cabinet, they're currently meeting right now. And this, of course, is the center of that discussion, exactly how to

respond to this large-scale attack by Iran, and, of course, when that might happen.

TAPPER: All right, Jeremy Diamond in Northern Israel, thank you so much.

Joining us now to discuss, Republican Senator from Florida Marco Rubio. He's the vice chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

Senator Rubio, thanks so much for joining us.

You are the vice chair of Senate intelligence. What are you hearing about this attack? And what is your assessment of Iran's goal here?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Well, Iran's goal has always been the same, and that is to make Israel an unlivable place.

Iran does not believe that it can -- Iran knows it cannot beat Israel militarily, but what it does aspire to do is make Israel an impossible place to live and a place no one wants to visit.


I hear a lot of talk right now about how this was a performative attack and how none of them got through. And this is all great. It's good that those strikes did not get through and harm anybody. But what do you think the tourism numbers are today in Israel and in the next couple weeks? How -- what do we think the business numbers are going to look like?

This is -- all of this is harmful to the Jewish state, because that is the goal of Iran, ultimately. And that's why they want us out of Iraq. That's why they want us out of Syria. That's why they want to overthrow the king in Jordan.

And that's why they want to continue to surround Israel from Gaza, from Lebanon, they aspire one day from Jordan, from Syria, from Iraq, have all these proxies that are able -- and then from Iran now -- able to attack Israel and make it an unlivable place, so that the Jewish state will collapse from within economically and socially.

That is their goal. That is their aspiration. That is why many of those drones had lights on, so you could see them coming in and the terror aspect of that. And that's what we need to understand here is that -- as at the core of all of this is not simply to respond to the death of an IRGC killer, but it is also to continue to move forward on this plan to make Israel an unlivable place.

TAPPER: We're waiting to see how Israel responds to this attack. Iran is already warning that any Israeli retaliation will be met with a more severe response from Iran.

You called this the most dangerous moment for the Middle East since 1973. What do you think Israel should do? RUBIO: Well, I'm not going to tell Israel what to do because I'm not

the one that was attacked by 300 rockets and missiles and drones.

I do know that Israel has a very clear military doctrine, and that is that they respond to attacks by responding to those with something much more severe. It is how they have survived. This is a country, a Jewish state, that on its very first hour of existence was attacked in multiple directions by multiple countries, and it has not stopped since then.

They have faced constant existential threats to their existence on a repeated basis throughout their history. In fact, their history is defined by that. And so they have made the decision and their military doctrine that they respond to attacks on Israel disproportionately.

And it is the reason why we have not had another 1973 or 1967 situation. Now, look, this is -- I imagine that Israel does not want a full-scale war either. And one of the ways they have prevented it in the past is through the kind of deterrence that comes from firm attack.

So, I expect that they will respond. I don't think they're going to ask us nor do they need us to help them in that regard. Ours has been largely a defensive posture. What I don't understand is why Joe Biden and the administration would leak to the media the contents of a conversation in which he tells Netanyahu he doesn't think Netanyahu should respond at all.

It is the continuing part of this public game that they are playing which, frankly, encourages Iran and Hezbollah, which we haven't even talked about, and the Houthis and all these other elements that are targeting Israel.

TAPPER: Your leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, says the first order of business in Congress is for the House to pass that foreign aid supplemental bill that passed the Senate months ago, which includes funding for Israel, as well as Ukraine in Taiwan. Do you agree?

RUBIO: Well, I know, when it comes to Israel, the House has on I think two occasions now passed Israel funding. It sits languishing on the floor of the Senate. I know there was an effort by Senator Roger Marshall to pass Israel aid. This was a couple months ago. It was blocked by the Democrats.

So, yes, we could go on Monday to Washington, D.C., and we can pass aid to Israel right away.

TAPPER: What about the House acting? You're -- I mean, that's the...

RUBIO: The House has already acted, and I imagine, if the Senate -- if the House were to send -- if the Senate were to send the House an Israel aid bill on Monday, the House will pass it. I have little doubt about it because they have done it already before.

TAPPER: You don't support tying it to the Ukraine aid? RUBIO: Well, the problem with tying it to the Ukraine aid is that, as

we have said very clearly in -- I don't think there's any mystery here, we will -- I'm -- I, for one, not everybody, but I, for one, am prepared to help Ukraine, but I want to see us deal with the southern border.

And that was the negotiation. That was the talk. That was the agreement. That is what was going to happen. And it didn't happen. What they came up with was unacceptable when it came to the border. But I remain a supporter of helping Ukraine, but I'm a big supporter and even bigger supporter of helping America. I'm an American senator.

And so I hope those two things can happen in conjunction. But when it comes to Israel, this is something that has long enjoyed strong bipartisan support. We can vote on it on Monday. It should be able to pass unanimously. If not, we should take votes on it. And I am confident the House will pass it very quickly thereafter because they have done so already.

TAPPER: Iran says this attack, and you already alluded to this, was in response to the alleged Israeli strike on the Iranian embassy complex in Damascus, Syria, in which at least seven Iranian military officials were killed, including a senior IRGC official.

What do you say to those who wonder if Israel crossed the line by targeting an embassy? And what do you say to those who say that that gave Iran no choice but to respond?


RUBIO: Well, first, I think that they're misinformed.

What Israel -- what was hit was an annex building next to a consulate. It was an annex building occupied by IRGC agents who are target -- they are on the ground in Lebanon every single day coordinating and helping Hezbollah and others in the region attack Israel.

I think lost in all of this -- we talk about the 300 launches against Israel yesterday. The night before, just the night before, 30 to 50 rockets were launched from Lebanon by Hezbollah against Israel. There are close to 90,000 currently internally displaced Israelis that cannot return to their homes in Northern Israel because it is under constant bombardment from Hezbollah.

How is Hezbollah attacking them? They are using the targeting information being provided by those IRGC agents, the weapons being provided to them and these long-range missiles rockets and precision- strike weapons being provided to them by those IRGC officials. This is almost a daily occurrence.

It almost is like, oh, yes, there was another 50 rockets yesterday. Those are the guys running that. And those guys are legitimate military targets, and they were struck in an annex building that was near the consulate. That's what that was -- so, yes, I mean, you're attacking Israel, and we're just going to let those guys sit there behind some desk and continue to coordinate the delivery of weapons and intelligence information, so that Israelis cannot live in the north?

It is part of the strategy. And this idea -- it's just like the Soleimani stuff, where all these people are around crying because Soleimani was killed. They called it an assassination. This guy, his hands were drenched in the blood of Americans because of the IEDs that they helped provide in Iraq during that conflict.

These people are legitimate military targets.

TAPPER: Your colleague Senator Marsha Blackburn at Tennessee called on President Biden to -- quote -- "move quickly and launch aggressive retaliatory strikes on Iran" -- unquote.

Do you support U.S. strikes on Iran? And, if not, how do you think the Biden administration should respond?

RUBIO: Well, I support defending American troops in the region. We have people stationed in the region in multiple countries, and we sent them there, whether people like them being there or not.

The bottom line is, we sent these young Americans there, and our job is to protect them. So I'm in favor of doing anything you can to protect them and prevent them from being attacked. But Israel is not asking us to launch attacks on Iran. I am not -- have ever heard the Israelis come to us and say, will you help us or will you attack Iran or go in after Iran?

They're not asking for that. They're not asking for it. But I think we go from that to the other extreme, which is Joe Biden telling Netanyahu, take the win, don't do anything, and then his people leaking it to the media, leaking it to the press.

And what it sets up is they know that Israel is going to respond. They know this for a fact. So why would the White House leak it? There's only one reason they leaked that, and that is that so, when Israel does respond, the White House can say, we told them not to do it, and at least somehow, in some way appease the so-called peace activists, by the way, the so -- cease-fire now people, who were out yesterday cheering the launch of hundreds of rockets and drones and missiles against Israel.

People that are out there cheering military attacks of this scale and scope are not peace activists. These are antisemites, anti-Israel, pro-terrorist elements out there, and we need to stop calling them peace activists. They are not peace activists.

You don't -- peace activists do not cheer massive attacks against other countries, which is what they were doing yesterday. So I guess this is part of the White House's effort to appease them by putting this out there proactively.

TAPPER: Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, thank you so much, sir, for coming on today.

RUBIO: Thank you. TAPPER: Coming up: hundreds of drones and missiles intercepted.

President Biden tells Israel, take the win, stand down. Will Israel do that? What role should the U.S. play?

Senators John Fetterman of Pennsylvania and J.D. Vance of Ohio will both join me live. That's next.




TAPPER: And welcome back to this expanded live edition of STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper.

Quote: "Together we shall win." That is the message from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in his very first public comments hours after Iran aimed hundreds of missiles and drones at Israel in an unprecedented attack.

Joining us now to discuss, Democratic Senator John Fetterman from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Senator, what is your reaction to Iran's attack on Israel, and how worried are you that this is the beginning of an open war between the two countries?

SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): Well, a couple of things, actually.

I think it really demonstrates how it's astonishing that we are not standing firmly with Israel, and there should never be any kinds of conditions and all that. When a nation can launch hundreds of drones towards Israel, I'm not going to be talking about conditions ever.

And, second, I think that also was Iran had to have some fireworks after Israel smoked that Iranian general. And I am here for that. And I think it's just a matter of theater, part of it as well, too. And, finally, it demonstrates how unstable things are and why we need to lean in and stand with Israel.

TAPPER: How do you think Israel should respond? Should Israel strike within Iranian territory, or are you concerned that that might only escalate matters further?

FETTERMAN: Well, I'm not going to suggest what Israel should or shouldn't do on that, but I also do think that Iran is pleased with -- they have enough money on the table with all of its proxies all around in the region as well too.

And Iran certainly can't take on Israel, and certainly not us. So I think they would just like to keep things as they go. And then, after they made a point back, I think they could go pretty quiet and go back to just using their proxies.

TAPPER: A senior administration official tells CNN that President Biden told Prime Minister Netanyahu that the U.S. will not participate in any offensive operations against Iran.


Do you think that's the right call, or should direct U.S. military action, as some of your colleagues and the Senate are suggesting, should that be on the table?

FETTERMAN: I don't agree with that.

And I just think we should follow and have Israel's back in this situation. I don't agree with the president. That doesn't change anything that he's a fantastic president. I'm proud to stand with him and campaign for him and vote for him.

TAPPER: Marco Rubio was just on the show, and he said the White House leaking the fact that Biden told Netanyahu not to directly respond, to "take the win" -- quote unquote -- was offensive to him because it seemed to suggest that it's Biden trying to appease the far left in his party. What's your response?

FETTERMAN: I don't know.

I mean, the president is entitled to his own views and whatever he decides to do. But I would never capitulate to the fringe. I will never pander to that as well. In fact, that helps -- that empowers Hamas. And Hamas is -- they're actually convinced that they are winning the P.R. war, and they're never going to negotiate at this point.

They think they're going to hold on to the very end. And I know why they're not willing to provide any kind of proof of life. And I don't know why there's not more of that conversation in the media. Like, what about the hostages? What's happened to them? Where are they now? And let's just bring them home.

And then all of the harsh words should be directed at Hamas, which started this and now continues to hold all of over 100 Israeli hostages.

TAPPER: Well, why do you think there isn't more criticism of Hamas and acknowledgement of the fact that they are holding however many are still alive, dozens, perhaps, hostages from Israel in tunnels in Gaza and elsewhere?

FETTERMAN: Well, of course, Hamas, they're just -- they're cowards, they're rapists, and they attack civilians, and they are now hiding in those tunnels.

And it's really true. The president couldn't end this war today. Netanyahu couldn't read this -- end this today. But Hamas could end this today right now and all the devastation and the death and all of that if they just released all the hostages and surrendered.

And, of course, they won't do that. And that's why we're in this situation. TAPPER: Former President Trump was in Pennsylvania last night,

Schnecksville, Pennsylvania. He said that President Biden's -- quote -- "weakness" was to blame for the attack on Israel and said it would never have attacked -- have happened if he was still president.

What's your response to that? And are you worried about Trump's strength, according to polls, in Pennsylvania?

FETTERMAN: Yes, well, I got 99 things, and what Trump's saying isn't one of them.

And I really -- my advice for him is, he should really be focusing on his time in court tomorrow.

TAPPER: He will be in court tomorrow in the first criminal trial. Are you worried about Trump winning Pennsylvania?

FETTERMAN: Well, no. I mean, it's going to be close. And Trump isn't -- of course, he's very popular here.

I have been saying that same thing eight years ago in 2016. And I was concerned. And now I'd like to point out that Joe Biden is the only American that ever beat Trump politically. And he's going to do it again. And he's going to carry Pennsylvania. And it's going to be close, but that that also requires that he's going to put in the work.

And he's doing that. In fact, this upcoming week, he's going to do just that.

TAPPER: The minority leader of the Senate, Mitch McConnell, said that the speaker of the House should put forward that foreign aid package and pass that bill as soon as possible. It includes aid to Israel, but also aid to Ukraine and Taiwan.

I asked Senator Rubio what he thought about that. And he said that -- he seemed to be suggesting that aid to Israel could pass the Senate tomorrow, that it had already passed the House on its own, and that aid to Ukraine should not be attached to that. What's your view?

FETTERMAN: Well, that's appalling. And I will never understand that.

When I was growing up, we all agreed that Russia is the evil empire, and we have got to stand with that. We're all in that same fight. And we all need to stand with all these democracies, Israel, Ukraine, and Taiwan as well too. And I understand my colleague is coming up after me.

And I don't understand where my colleague Vance has about Ukraine as well too. In fact, he owns, in my opinion, the dumbest thing I have ever heard about Ukraine, where he claims, to some effect, that he doesn't care what happens in Ukraine.


And that's astonishing to me. And I don't understand the motivation to that as well too, but all I can conclude is that that aligns with what Donald Trump says. And I don't understand why Donald Trump seems to love Putin as well too.

But it's a disgrace if we don't deliver this aid. I voted for it, and we need to deliver that and stand with our allies and stand with democracy.

TAPPER: All right, Senator John Fetterman from the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, thank you so much. I really appreciate it.

FETTERMAN: Thanks for having me on.

TAPPER: And as you just heard from Senator Fetterman, we also have with us the Republican senator from Ohio, close ally of Donald Trump, Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of Ohio.

So I will get to the Middle East in a second, but he just put the Ukraine issue on the fore. And what is your response?

SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): Well, first, Jake, the idea that Putin loves Donald Trump or Donald Trump loves Putin is absolutely absurd.

Putin was actually pretty well-behaved during the Trump administration. He invaded another country during the Biden administration. So, for these guys to say that Putin prefers Donald Trump is -- completely ignores the underlying realities on the ground here.

We actually had some real security deterrence when Donald Trump was president. And, of course, it's not just in Ukraine. So, again, what Fetterman is saying is preposterous. Reality shows Putin didn't like when Donald Trump was president and was a lot better behaved. And I think to accuse Donald Trump of being pro-Putin completely ignores the reality on the ground.

TAPPER: Well, what Fetterman might say were he here is that Putin was getting a lot of things that he wanted out of Donald Trump, so he didn't need to be as hostile.

Donald Trump was clearly more friendly to him than other presidents have been, one way or the other. But, also, Donald Trump was more hostile to NATO.

VANCE: I don't think that's right, Jake.

What I think Donald Trump did, is he engaged in strategic deterrence. You have to negotiate sometimes even with bad people, even with your enemies. But you have to deter those people. And if you engage in smart deterrence, like Donald Trump did, he doesn't invade countries like Ukraine. So I don't buy that argument.

But I understand why Democrats repeat that talking point.

TAPPER: Well, let me ask you about Ukraine.

VANCE: Sure.

TAPPER: Because you wrote an op-ed in "The New York Times" saying that you don't think it makes sense, the Biden pitch for aid to Ukraine.

You have been accused of appeasement.

VANCE: Sure.

TAPPER: You have been accused of surrender. Even "The National Review" had a column about that. And, again, I'm going to get to Iran in Israel, which I know is a big, pressing story.

But I do want you to address that, because "The National Review" is basically saying that your solution to the problem of Russia invading a sovereign nation, Ukraine, is to just surrender. Are they wrong?

VANCE: No, look, my solution to the problem is to rebuild our own country.

The reason that we're in this position, Jake, is because we're stretched way too thin. We're stretched way too thin in the number of weapons systems that we need, that Ukraine needs, that Taiwan needs, that Israel needs. And we can't do all of these things at once.

So, when you're stretched too thin, you have got to focus, and you have got to rebuild your own country. Let's take just one of those weapons systems that we're talking about, 155-millimeter artillery shells. The Russians currently have a 5-1 advantage over the Ukrainians. The Israelis will need this stuff. The Taiwanese need this stuff.

And, of course, America needs this stuff. Can we possibly build a country that will possibly fight all of those conflicts at once? No. The math just doesn't make sense. So what we should be doing is with Ukraine encouraging them to take a defensive posture, not these -- disastrous counteroffensive the Biden administration has been promoting. And we should begin focusing on our problems.

TAPPER: The counteroffensive is within Ukraine, though. The counteroffensive is within Ukraine. They're not seeking land from Russia.

And, in fact, just today...

VANCE: No, I'm not passing judgment on the morality of what they're doing.


VANCE: Of course, it's their territory, Jake. But you have to acknowledge military reality on the ground.

If they're going to waste a ton of money, a ton of lives, and a ton of ammunition on a counteroffensive strategy, but a defensive strategy might actually work, we have got to choose the strategy that might actually work.


VANCE: ... strategy.

TAPPER: The counteroffensive is within Ukrainian territory.

Just today, Zelenskyy was suggesting that the strike by Iran on Israel should serve as a wake-up call in terms of this greater battle -- and maybe you disagree with people who see it this way -- between autocracies and democracies, Israel being a democracy, as is Ukraine, Iran and Russia being autocracies.

What do you say to that?

VANCE: Well, I think foreign policy is not a nursery rhyme, and it should serve as a wake-up call, but it should serve as a wake-up call that we have to rebuild our own industrial base.

Let's take another weapons system that's really important. The Patriot interceptor system definitely -- almost definitely saved a lot of Israeli lives last night. The Ukrainians want thousands of those per year. Do you know how many we manufacture in a year, Jake? Five hundred and fifty.

We cannot possibly -- I have repeated this for years now. We cannot possibly support Ukraine and Israel and our own defense needs in the way that these guys demand. So I think we should focus. I think Israel is a much closer ally. It's a much more core American national security interest. And, of course, we have got to focus on ourselves.


That means encouraging the Ukrainians to take a defensive strategy. I -- this is really important, Jake, because you're going to hear a lot of calls across Washington, D.C., that we now have to pass the supplemental.

TAPPER: Right.

VANCE: But if we pass the Ukraine and Israel supplemental and send a ton of weapons to Ukraine that the Israelis need, we're actually weakening Israel in the name of helping them. It doesn't make any sense. It ignores mathematical reality.

TAPPER: Well, the supplemental -- the supplemental, which your leader, Senator McConnell, has called on the House to pass, the supplemental contains money for Israel and Ukraine and Taiwan. So it's not a question of either/or. It's a question of both.

VANCE: I think it is a question of either/or, Jake, because it's not about the money. Again, it's about the weapons.

If we pass the supplemental, we go from making 550 Patriot interceptors to 650. That's 100 more, and the world needs thousands of these things. So, really, it goes back to the basic math of this. If you don't make enough weapons to fight three wars, you have got to figure out how to focus.

And my proposal is, we focus on ourselves and we focus on our closest allies.

TAPPER: So let's talk about that. What do you think Israel should do, what do you think the U.S. should do in response to Iran's unprecedented attack on Israel?

VANCE: Yes, well, look, first of all, we condemn the Iranian attack. It's great to actually see bipartisan leadership from across the aisle saying that. We certainly stand with our friends in Israel.

I'm not going to pretend to counsel Israel on their strategic response to this. I think the most important thing for the United States here is to, one, prevent this from becoming a broader regional conflict, because we're already stretched very thin, and, two, to support our Israeli allies. I'm sure they're talking to the Iranians through back channels.

I'm sure they know a lot more than a senator in Washington, D.C., and I think we should defer to their strategic wisdom, because it's their country, and they should call the shots.

TAPPER: What about those who fear that Israel escalating -- and, again, I'm not expressing my opinion on this.

VANCE: Of course.

TAPPER: But what about those who fear that Israel escalating risks a greater war? I mean, and you heard -- we have heard -- Senator Coons was on the show earlier saying everyone needs to take a breath.

And then you heard John Bolton the show saying that this is an example of what deterrence has got us and there needs to be a much more muscular response.

VANCE: Well, look, I certainly think there is a real fear of escalation. Senator Coons is right about that.

Part of the reason why we have a fear of escalation, Jake, is because our deterrence is so weak. And why is it so weak? Because the world sees a United States that is stretched so thin. I think if we want to reestablish deterrence, the most important thing is not how we or Israel respond to this attack. It's how we focus on the long term, on rebuilding our country.

People aren't worried that we're not thumping our chest enough. I know that's the John Bolton response to this. People think that the United States is a paper tiger right now. We have got to rebuild our manufacturing capacity. We have got to rebuild our capacity to support our own troops and our allies with weapons systems. That is what will reestablish deterrence.

And that's, unfortunately, why I think this supplemental actually spreads us even further and even thinner, instead of focusing. Focus is what's going to create deterrence.

TAPPER: So you would -- you would agree with what Senator Rubio said earlier in the show, that the Senate should just pick up the aid bill for Israel, just discretely for Israel, that the House passed?

VANCE: What's important, Jake, to remember, what Senator Rubio said, as I understand it, is exactly right.

The Senate could pass an Israel supplemental tomorrow in the United States Senate. The House has taken it up already. The Senate's already taken up a couple different versions that Senate Democrats have blocked. So we could get this out of the U.S. Congress tomorrow if Democrats didn't block it.

And, again, we have got to focus on our core problems. I think Israel is much more important to the United States than Ukraine is.

TAPPER: All right, Senator J.D. Vance, Republican of Ohio, please come back again soon. Thanks so much.

Coming up next: An emergency G7 meeting, the world pushing for restraint, what does this all mean for America's role and American troops in the Middle East?

Former CIA Director David Petraeus joins us next.



TAPPER: Welcome back to a breaking news-packed special edition of STATE OF THE UNION. I'm Jake Tapper. It's live and expanded, and we are here this morning.

Israel is weighing right now how to respond to that Iranian aerial attack, a response that President Biden told Prime Minister Netanyahu will have to happen without American assistance.

Joining us now live from London, CNN chief international anchor Christiane Amanpour.

Christiane, this was such an overt course of action from Iran after so many years of this shadow war between Iran and Israel, more than 300 drones and missiles fired directly from Iranian territory to Israel. Can you put this in perspective, what it means for the way Israel and Iran might interact in the future?

CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, interact is only through this kind of way.

They don't have diplomatic interactions, and there are many people who will say that, actually, one of the things that has emboldened Iran and actually taken away some of the constraints, at least, was Netanyahu and Mohammed bin Salman, and former President Trump dragging the United States out of the nuclear deal and essentially having that collapse.

It was at least some kind of arms control mechanism. But, right now, this shadow war that Israel has been waging and Iran has been waging for the last several years, with a lot more activity by Israel inside of Iran, has drawn finally this response.

And it is a Rubicon that Iran has crossed, both physically, militarily and also psychologically. And so I was actually interested that the head of the Revolutionary Guards today said that this changes the equation, that, from now on, if we are attacked by Israel, we will attack back, essentially intimating that it wouldn't just be left up to the proxies, it would be from Iran again.

And this really does escalate things in a very, very, very negative way. And I think it's going to take a huge amount of creative leadership to try to figure out how to de-escalate and de-conflict, because maybe -- obviously, Israel and the United States are -- heavily overwhelm Iran in terms of military prowess.


But it doesn't mean to say that any war with Iran would be easy. And you just have to go back to the other wars that have been fought, and they are not easy.

TAPPER: What's interesting about this is, Iran is claiming this is in response to that attack that is believed to have been by Israel on Iranian military leaders in an annex in a consulate in Damascus, Syria.

Whatever one thinks about that attack, it is targeted at military leaders. This, of course, would expand -- it is a response, Iran says, but an expanse of 300 missiles and drones, not focused only on an Israeli military base.

AMANPOUR: Well, I mean, I have yet to see the battle damage assessment and the actual readouts from that. They say they tried to target or did target the base from which Israel did that launch.

And by all accounts -- and, again, this is by the military spokespeople, who've been saying that the vast majority of the Iranian drones and missiles were shot down outside of Israeli airspace. They didn't get into Israeli airspace even.

So I think that shows you that there is a massive deterrent. Israel has a very, very sophisticated and strong Iron Dome and all the other things. The United States helping, other allies in the air, I think that was incredibly important.

TAPPER: All right, Christiane Amanpour, thank you so much for your perspective, as always.

I want to bring in someone who has had a lengthy career of planning for scenarios exactly like this one, former CIA Director and retired Four-Star General David Petraeus. He also served as commander of U.S. Central Command, which includes part of the Middle East.

Director Petraeus, thanks for joining us.

What's your assessment of the attack by Iran? Was this a genuine attempt to retaliate, to overwhelm Israel's defenses, to cause mass damage, or was this a show of force for Iran, but indicating that they don't want actually to escalate further?

GEN. DAVID PETRAEUS (RET.), FORMER CIA DIRECTOR: I think it was probably a bit more of the latter than the former.

Clearly, it was unprecedented. There never has been an attack that came from Iranian soil. And, of course, these attacks also included some of the proxies in Iraq, Syria and Southern Lebanon. There's never been something like this in the past.

But it seemed a little bit less than what they might have thrown if they were really serious. In fact, it was probably a good bit less than if they really wanted to cause massive damage. It struck me as a little bit like that attack the Iranians did after the U.S. killed Qasem Soleimani in Baghdad that time.

They telegraphed it well in advance and, again, no casualties out of that one. And in this case, at most, it appears that there was one Arab-Israeli girl who was seriously injured and may have died. So there's a tiny bit of this Goldilocks aspect to this, I think, although, again, a very significant attack.

TAPPER: Iran and Israel have been fighting this shadow war in the Middle East for decades now. This is the first time that Iran has directly attacked Israel from inside Iranian territory not using proxies like Hamas or Hezbollah or the Houthis.

Just how significant a moment is this for the Middle East?

PETRAEUS: Well, it is significant. It's a very big deal. And I think Israel will have to take some action in response.

I think it's very clear that the U.S. would like to see that be as limited as is possible. Keep in mind that the real issue here, in addition to Israel's security, of course, which is first and foremost, but it's also about freedom of navigation from the Gulf or the oil and gas that come from the Gulf and fuel much of the global economy.

That's the biggest issue here. And Iran, I don't think, wants to have that disrupted either, because they export about 1.6 or 1.7 million barrels a day themselves. So, keep your eye on that. Brent crude is already above $90 a barrel, and it would really spike if there was something that interfered with freedom of navigation.

In, fact we need to figure out what's going on. Iran did take a ship the other day that they claimed was in some way dealing with Israel. But this is another step up the rung of escalation. I think it's in the interest of everyone to stop the increasing escalation. But we will have to see what Israel decides to do in this case.

TAPPER: President Biden told Prime Minister Netanyahu that the United States will not participate in any offensive strikes by Israel against Iran.

How would you advise Israel to respond to this? How worried are you that any response will only throw fuel on the fire?

PETRAEUS: Well, that has to be a concern. And I'm sure they're conscious of that, Jake.

There's a -- the whole menu of actions that they can take, not all of which are necessarily overt. They can pursue covert. They can pursue asymmetric attacks, cyberspace and so forth.


And keep in mind that, of course, Washington is meeting with the other G7 countries to determine what kind of diplomatic and economic responses should follow in a coordinated effort as well.

Can't really take your eye off Gaza, though. At the end of the day, got to get those hostages back and I believe still do need to destroy Hamas. You don't send the fire department to extinguish 80 percent of the fire. They still have work to do there.

TAPPER: All right, General Petraeus, always good to see you. Thank you so much for your insights.

Joining us now, CNN political and global analyst Barak Ravid, who writes for Axios, and Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, a former spokesman for the IDF.

Barak, good to see you.

The U.S. and others are calling for all parties to exercise restraint after this attack. Israel's war cabinet is meeting right now on a potential response. What do you expect Israel will do next?


Well, I think if you asked the Israelis on Friday after the cabinet, the war cabinet meeting on Friday, the plan was to execute and conduct an immediate response to any Iranian attack.

But then the Iranian attack took place, and the war cabinet convened, and no response yet. So at least it seems that the Israelis decided to take a breather and think for a while before they make any decisions. And I think just shortly -- a short while ago, the member of the war cabinet Benny Gantz issued a statement where he said that Israel will respond in the time and place of the choosing, which is sort of a code name for, we're not going to do anything immediately.

TAPPER: And Israel's national security minister, Jonathan, says that Israel should go crazy in response.

Do you think Netanyahu will listen to the national security minister?


No, I think that the -- what influences most the speed of a response is the amount of casualties. And since the attack, the Iranian unprecedented attack against Israel fell pretty flat on its nose, and they didn't cause any significant casualties -- there was reports of an Israeli girl that was wounded in Southern Israel, but, other than that, 300 missiles and drones fired and very little damage in Israel, 99 percent of those things fired intercepted.

That's not a successful strike. And that gives the Israeli government and the cabinet a lot of time to think, have a glass of water or something else that cools the mind, and then think of a good strategy, and perhaps, most importantly, coordinate it with the U.S. and with other partners, so that it wouldn't be something that is detrimental to Israeli interests, but actually promotes them.

And I agree with General Petraeus. The first order of day still is Gaza. We still have to finish Hamas in Gaza. We have to get our hostages home, 133 of them that are still in Hamas captivity 192 days there. That needs to be settled and dealt with.

And since the tactical achievement here against Iranian offenses was so successful, and we basically proved our concept of operating, we can now go back to focus on a very urgent matter, and that is Hamas in Gaza. They're not going anywhere. Our hostages are not yet home, and we need to focus on that.

TAPPER: And, Barak Ravid, Prime Minister Netanyahu is under a lot of pressure himself within Israel for domestic reasons, domestic politics. Israel is, of course, still fighting in Gaza, still fighting on the border with Hezbollah in Lebanon.

How might everything weighing on Netanyahu right now shape his response?

RAVID: I got to say that, at least for now -- I mean, it's still early -- but it doesn't seem that Israeli public opinion as a whole is pressing the government to do something immediately.

We saw in the last few hours in a TV channel in Israel that is Netanyahu's mouthpiece, we saw several of the commentators there calling for a swift and strong response. But I think that what matters is that, yesterday, when the security cabinet convened, it authorized Netanyahu, Minister of Defense Gallant and the minister in the cabinet, in the war cabinet, Gantz to take any decisions about a response.

And there were two ministers who voted against this decision. And those were the minister of national security that you mentioned, Ben- Gvir, and the ultranationalist finance minister, Bezalel Smotrich, because they knew that, if they are going to authorize those three ministers to take a decision, they will not have any influence on the result, and then the result might be that there's not going to be an immediate response.

And I think this is what matters. Right now, the more radical elements in this Israeli cabinet are irrelevant to the decision-making.


TAPPER: Jonathan, what's the significance of Iran carrying out this massive attack from its home territory, as opposed to through proxies in Lebanon or Gaza?

You posted on X, this marks day one of a possible new Middle East.

CONRICUS: Yes, I think it is so.

And I think that once we get beyond the talk of what -- which minister said what in the Cabinet, I think that this is a watershed moment. Iran came out of the shadows and, for the first time, didn't use the convenience and the deniability of any of its many proxies that they have built very well and very cleverly around Israel over the years.

And they actually came out and fought. And I think that Israel, in the basic laws of warfare, if you're attacked, you need to retaliate. Otherwise, you invite additional attacks. So I think it is a significant moment. I think that the Iranians were very much aware of what would follow, what would happen afterwards.

And if they attack from Iranian soil, then Israel will be forced to or tempted to, to retaliate on Iranian soil. And I think that the most important thing is, OK, what does Israel really want to achieve? What's the strategy here?

Do we want to just respond in a knee-jerk fashion against Iranian targets? We can hit many targets. We can really make them feel the pain. And our strike would be much more effective than their attempt. Or do we have a plan? Do we want to curtail their regional terrorist activities that they have been doing very successfully for the last 30 or 40 years?

Or does Israel want to take the opportunity...


CONRICUS: ... and address the nuclear program?

TAPPER: Interesting.

Jonathan, Barak, thanks so much. Really appreciate your time.

We will be right back.



TAPPER: And join me tomorrow morning for CNN's special live coverage, as Donald Trump faces his first criminal trial, the New York hush money cover-up case.

CNN's special coverage begins at 9:00 a.m. Eastern, and I will be here for that.

I will also be back in one hour, at 11:00 a.m. Eastern, for another live, extended two-hour STATE OF THE UNION looking at the crisis in the Middle East.

Fareed Zakaria picks up our coverage next.