On this “Face the Nation” broadcast, moderated by Margaret Brennan:
- House Intelligence Committee chair Rep. Mike Turner, Republican of Ohio
- Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer
- Dina Kawar, Jordanian Ambassador to the U.S.
- Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Democrat of Maryland
- Reps. Mike Gallagher, Republican of Wisconsin, and Raja Krishnamoorthi, Democrat of Illinois
Clickto browse full transcripts of “Fac the Nation.”
MARGARET BRENNAN: I’m Margaret Brennan in Washington.
And this week on Face the Nation: From the Middle East to the Pacific rim, America’s influence is being tested around the world. The deadly conflict between Israel and Hamas has entered week seven, with no clear end in sight, as Israeli forces intensify efforts to eliminate Hamas in Gaza.
Caught in the crossfire, Palestinian civilians and a society on the brink of collapse. Are we any closer to rescuing more than 200 hostages, some Americans, still held by Hamas?
We will check in with some key players from the Biden administration, Capitol Hill, and around the world.
Then: After President Biden’s long-anticipated face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, what’s next for America’s relationship with its biggest rival? We will hear from the bipartisan leaders of Congress’ China Committee.
Finally, as tempers flare here in Washington…
REPRESENTATIVE MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-Oklahoma): Well, stand your butt up then.
SEAN O’BRIEN (General President, Teamsters): You stand your butt up.
SENATOR BERNIE SANDERS (I-Vermont): Oh, hold it. No, hold – stop it.
MARGARET BRENNAN: … thoughts on the importance of restoring civility in our public discourse.
It’s all just ahead on Face the Nation.
Good morning, and welcome to Face the Nation.
We begin with the deteriorating conditions in Gaza and new warnings by the United Nations that disease is a growing concern, as civilians shelter in crowded spaces with scarce food and water.
Meanwhile, it appears a deal with Hamas to release some hostages in exchange for Israel allowing in some aid to Gaza is taking shape. Qatar’s prime minister, who is involved with mediating the talks, said today that an agreement is within reach.
Imtiaz Tyab is in Jerusalem with the latest.
IMTIAZ TYAB (voice-over): They walked for days from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in their thousands to demand the hostages being held in Gaza be released…
PROTESTERS: Free them all now!
IMTIAZ TYAB: … and to vent their fury at Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s failure to meet regularly with the families of captives.
PROTESTER: Our government isn’t talking to them, doesn’t – isn’t telling them what’s going on, what’s on the – what’s on the table, what are the offers, what are the reasons for and against, nothing. Nobody’s talking to them.
(MAN SPEAKING IN FOREIGN LANGUAGE)
IMTIAZ TYAB: Multiple parties, including the U.S., have been negotiating for the release of captives, potentially in exchange for a five-day pause in fighting and a major increase in humanitarian aid.
The negotiations remain ongoing as Israel appears to be expanding its offensive against Hamas from Northern Gaza to the south, where hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were told to flee for their safety. But nowhere, it seems, is safe. Massive Israeli airstrikes across Gaza over the past 24 hours have killed dozens of civilians.
Many of the victims are children, whose tiny bodies were wrapped in white cloth before being taken for burial, as loved ones try to make sense of the incomprehensible.
But it’s the Al Shifa Hospital in Gaza City which is being called a death zone. The World Health Organization were able to access it after Israeli forces took control of the main health center earlier this week and are working to evacuate the remaining medical staff and patients, including 32 babies in critical condition.
The Israeli military took us to the sprawling hospital complex on a late- night visit to show us what they say is evidence of a Hamas command center that was operating underground, which includes this apparent sand-filled tunnel opening and these weapons.
The existence of the apparent Hamas command center, which the U.S. has said it also has intelligence on, has been central to Israel’s justification for its assault on the hospital and beyond.
There’s been so much damage, so much devastation to this hospital because this hospital was described as a command center for Hamas. Did you find a command center?
MAN #1: Oh, yes, we found a few.
IMTIAZ TYAB: What does that mean, a few?
MAN #1: OK, I will talk about it. But what you see here is a fraction of the…
MAN #2: Equipment.
MAN #1: … equipment we found.
IMTIAZ TYAB: And since our visit, the Israeli military has made multiple statements about the so-far underwhelming evidence of the apparent Hamas command center at Al Shifa, saying we were only shown – quote – “preliminary findings” and that more details would be shared soon.
Hospitals, of course, have protected status under international law, Margaret, but Israel insists its assault on Gaza’s largest and most important medical facility falls within those boundaries.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Great reporting from Imtiaz Tyab in Jerusalem.
We go now to the Republican chair of the House Intelligence Committee Mike Turner.
Good to have you back with us, sir.
REPRESENTATIVE MIKE TURNER (R-Ohio): Thank you, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: You’ve said that that absolutely brutal and horrific attack on October 7 by Hamas was a huge intelligence failure.
Things were missed. And then there were operational failures, as we know, once that attack was under way. Given those massive blind spots, can the U.S. actually be confident in Israeli intelligence now when it says that what it’s doing is with full accuracy?
MIKE TURNER: Well, I think there certainly is a gap that was unexpected with respect to Israel’s intelligence gathering.
You know, when we saw the failures of October 7, where they failed to see the – the emerging horrendous Hamas attack and the taking of hostages that resulted in what you’re reporting, we wondered whether or not it was a lack of focus.
But now that the United States is actually working with Israel, and trying to assist in locating Hamas and understanding Hamas’ structure, we’re actually understanding that – that Israel has a gap in also capabilities.
Now, of the operational aspects, as you related, because we saw a lack of response after the Hamas attack began to unfold, there also were concerns as to whether Israel was going to get to go into Gaza and to be able to locate and to dismantle Hamas.
But I think everyone’s seeing it. They’re progressing at a much faster rate than – than anyone had expected. But, still, as we see now, the reports that are coming out of Gaza, as Israel reports, what they’re accomplishing, there certainly is – is concern and doubt.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Do you believe it is militarily potentially successful goal to eliminate Hamas?
MIKE TURNER: Well, certainly, with any terrorist group and organization, it’s not just the individuals that are operating it that you have to look at. It’s also its function, its structure, its finances, its weapons systems, its command-and-control.
Those are things that certainly Israel has the ability and they are prosecuting the war to that, so they can significantly diminish Hamas’ ability to conduct attacks on Israel, and also give the Palestinians an opportunity to – to bridge to some other form of government in Gaza.
You know, the Palestinians in Gaza are just as much a prisoner and certainly victims of Hamas as – as we’re seeing with the effects on Israel.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about threats here at home.
But, very quickly, have you seen intelligence to back up some of the reporting that says some of these Hamas attackers, who were just so brutal that they were actually on an amphetamine called Captagon?
I know some of your Republican colleagues are trying to take action. Was that a factor here?
MIKE TURNER: We don’t have – I have not seen intelligence specifically about that.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
MIKE TURNER: Like you, I have seen the news reporting. And it’s certainly very troubling, because it certainly shows the viciousness of the attack.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Here at home, the FBI director, I know, recently testified that foreign terrorist groups, including Al Qaeda, have issued specific calls to attack the U.S.
How do you understand the threat to the homeland now?
MIKE TURNER: You know, this is very – very unusual for the FBI director to so publicly make these statements.
And, certainly, in his conversations with the Intelligence Committee, they’ve been on an unclassified basis. So we have the ability to talk about it. It certainly shows the extent to which these threats are troubling the director.
And what he’s indicated specifically is that, more than a decade, the increase in terrorist threats to the United States inside the United States is at its highest ever. And he cites the – the chaotic withdrawal of Afghanistan and our loss of intelligence gathering there. He cites the Southern border and individuals who are allied with international terrorist organizations that have crossed the border.
Those are two Biden administration policies. So, for the FBI director to cite those, where the – as threats…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
MIKE TURNER: … where the threats are emanating certainly shows you how important these statements are.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
So what would it take to get you on board with supporting some sort of overhaul of border policy? I know that, in the Senate, they’re talking about trying to bundle together some of these initiatives?
MIKE TURNER: Well, I think they – I think they should be boarded together.
And I have been at the White House several times talking about what we call sort of the quad national security package, where they’re looking at Ukraine, Taiwan, East Asia, but border. Border has to be a part of it, and not just funding for the border. It needs to be policy changes. Our border needs to be secure.
The FBI director has specifically cited that individuals who come across that border allied with international terrorist organizations are a threat internal to the United States.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, Congress went home for the next few weeks. And you have got a lot of work to do before the end of the year.
One of those things, potentially, is reauthorizing Section 702, which allows agencies to gather data like phone calls and text messages from foreign nationals abroad. Some of your Republican colleagues like Jim Jordan and Matt Gaetz have said they – they don’t like Section 702.
Is the Republican controlled House going to reauthorize this, and when?
MIKE TURNER: Absolutely.
The problem is, there’s a bunch of misinformation out there. What you just said is absolutely correct that 702 allows the collection of foreigners outside the United States who pose a national security threat to the United States.
We have to continue to collect that data and information. It’s from which we are able to keep our country secure. And, certainly, in that, we also capture those inside the United States like those terrorists who have come across the southern border that the FBI talks about as being a threat here, their communications outside the United States with those terrorist groups and organizations, so we can track them down and prevent those attacks.
This is absolutely essential. This is our post-9/11 structure. As our national security threat increases, we have to make certain that we maintain the tools that have kept us safe.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And just to clarify here, I know that Border Patrol has said there are people who’ve come across the border whose names match the terror watch list, but that doesn’t necessarily represent a terrorist or a suspected terrorist, just for anyone who’s concerned there.
MIKE TURNER: But the FBI director has specifically said that there are individuals that are allied with international terrorist organizations who have come across the border that pose a threat.
That’s – that’s the part of what his last two weeks of public statements have been.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I want to ask you about classified documents, because CBS has been reporting that special counsel Robert Hur is near the end of his investigation into President Biden and his alleged mishandling of classified info.
If there are indeed no charges brought, which is what we are reporting, what do you think the signal will be to the national security world?
MIKE TURNER: Well, it – this will be certainly devastating, continuing to be devastating for the Department of Justice into the Biden administration with their two-tier system of justice.
You know, Biden has been found to be a serial classified document hoarder. Over a 10-year period, he’s been taking classified documents, some of the most sensitive that threaten our national security, home, without any protection, and certainly able to – for others to be able to access them.
There needs to be consequences. The fact that Hillary Clinton, who had over 100 classified documents at home when she was secretary of state and Vice President Biden, both under Obama at the same time, were taking classified documents home, and certainly had them be vulnerable, with no consequences, shows the Department of Justice is not pursuing Democrats.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, as you know, there is a difference with the case against President Trump, who refused to hand over documents fully and violated the Espionage Act, that’s the charge against him, because he didn’t work with the government to hand those over.
MIKE TURNER: Well, as you know, Margaret, Biden – Biden – Biden had these documents for over 10 years.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
MIKE TURNER: You can’t hoard documents in your home for a 10 – a decade- long period, concealing them, taking them home as a senator, vice president, and then suddenly say, hey, two weeks while I was president, I – – I cooperated and, therefore, it doesn’t count that I spent 10 years as a serial classified document hoarder.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes, all right.
Well, we’re going to have to leave it there for today. Thanks, as always, for joining us.
MIKE TURNER: Thank you, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to the deputy national security adviser, Jon Finer.
JON FINER (White House Principal Deputy National Security Adviser): Good morning, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I know hostage diplomacy is extremely delicate. We’ve been close to a big breakthrough before and then fallen apart.
But, this morning, Qatar’s prime minister says we are close enough to reach a deal and the differences are just logistical at this point. Does the U.S. share that assessment?
PRINCIPAL DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JON FINER: What I can say at this point is we share the assessment that many areas of difference that previous – previously existed have been narrowed, that we believe we are closer than we have been to reaching a final agreement, but that, on an issue as sensitive as this and as challenging is this, the mantra that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed really does apply.
And we do not yet have an agreement in place. And so, until that is the case, you know, we’re not going to lay out all the details in public.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, Israel’s prime minister said on CBS recently that they had intelligence indicating that there were hostages at Al Shifa Hospital, but none were found. There were two bodies found nearby.
Did the U.S. share the assessment that hostages were being held at – at the hospital? Because there was a release suggesting that from declassified intelligence the U.S. shared. Was the U.S. assessment wrong?
PRINCIPAL DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JON FINER: So, what I am going to tell you is what we have put out in terms of intelligence that we have been able to share and that we’ve been able to downgrade on Al Shifa.
And, look, this is a microcosm of the challenges associated with this entire conflict, because this is obviously a hospital, where there are patients who were being treated, the most advanced hospital in Gaza, also a place where innocent civilians have gathered during the course this conflict.
And all of those innocent lives are sacred to us, are equal in value to lives anywhere that are innocent. We’ve also said and been quite clear that we have intelligence information, not just Israeli intelligence, but American intelligence, that Hamas has used this facility to build terrorist infrastructure, to do command and control for combat operations.
And we’ve been quite clear about that. But we’ve also said that none of that authorizes, in our view, direct military strikes from the air or on the ground against that hospital. So that is the complicated knot that the Israeli Defense Forces find themselves in. And that is how we are advising them to proceed at this point.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
The downgraded assessment shared by the White House said the U.S. believes that there could be, in Al Shifa Hospital, a command node and tunnels underneath and that, in the past, these hospitals have been used to hold hostages. That’s why I was asking you, since none were found there, if the U.S. actually thought there would be hostages there.
There has been no command…
PRINCIPAL DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JON FINER: One thing I would say about that, Margaret, is…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
PRINCIPAL DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JON FINER: … is that that facility is still being exploited by the Israeli Defense Forces.
I expect you’ll see more information in the coming days. I think we feel confident in the information that we’ve put out. And let’s see what their investigation reveals and where it leads.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Israel’s prime minister was on this network this week and told my colleague Norah O’Donnell, that they are trying to cause minimal civilian casualties, but – quote – “Unfortunately, we’re not successful.”
Given that acknowledgement by Israel, I wonder if the administration is applying the Leahy Act here that would allow for the United States to restrict some military equipment based on human rights basis.
Is Israel exempt from that? Given what’s happened and what Israel is acknowledging, do you need to change that?
PRINCIPAL DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JON FINER: No countries are, obviously, exempt from laws of armed conflict or from U.S. statutory restrictions, but, beyond that, I’m not going to say more.
What I will say, though is – is, we have been quite clear that Israel has every right to defend itself against the threat that it faces. That includes, by the way, the right to go after Hamas leadership, who they say now have fled to the southern part of Gaza and have sought refuge there.
So, in the – in the event that we believe that Israel is likely to – to embark on combat operations, including in the south, we believe both that they have the right to do that, but that there is a real concern, because hundreds of thousands of residents of Gaza have fled now from the north to the south, at Israel’s request.
And we think that their operations should not go forward until those people – those additional civilians, have been accounted for in their – in their military planning. And so we will be conveying that directly to them and have been conveying that directly to them.
They should draw lessons from how the operation proceeded in the north, including lessons that lead to greater and enhanced protections for civilian life, things like narrowing the area of – of active combat, clarifying where civilians can seek refuge from the fighting.
But I will also reiterate that Hamas takes no such precautions, in fact, openly and wantonly flouts and almost brags about its desire to perpetrate war crimes. And so this is an adversary that does not hold itself to the standard that we and others believe is essential.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. Hamas is extremely brutal.
I want to quickly ask you about President Biden’s op-ed that he published in “The Washington Post.” He said the U.S. is prepared to issue visa bans against extremists. He was referring to Israeli settlers moving into the West Bank.
Does that threat have teeth, given that there are estimates that American citizens make up as much as 15 percent of the settler population?
PRINCIPAL DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER JON FINER: Look, the president has been extremely clear, I think far beyond even what many of his predecessors said, about our concerns about developments on the West Bank, and, in particular, our concerns about violence perpetrated against innocent Palestinians by extreme settlers.
He said that in public speeches. He said that in an op-ed that he has published just this weekend. And, as he indicated, and as we are now moving to operationalize, that could include consequences that the U.S. would impose on people associated with violence against innocents in the West Bank, including a ban on them being able to travel to the United States on visas.
And we’re moving in that direction, and we’ll have more to say about that, I’m sure, in the coming days.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood.
Jon Finer, thank you very much for your time this morning.
And Face the Nation will be back in a minute, so stay with us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’re now joined by Maryland Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen.
It’s good to have you here in person.
SENATOR CHRIS VAN HOLLEN (D-Maryland): It’s good to be with you, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: A lot to talk to you about today. But I want to quickly just ask you, since Congress just went home for the better part of two weeks, they haven’t reauthorized a lot of things. And they haven’t passed the supplemental for Israel, for Ukraine, Taiwan.
Is that going to get done before the end of the year?
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN We have to get it done by the end of the year.
We have to pass the supplemental request, which includes, as you say, desperately needed military assistance for Ukraine, support for Israel, humanitarian assistance, as well as support for our partners in the Indo- Pacific region.
One of the issues, as I’m sure you know, that’s being discussed is trying to get something done with respect to border security and immigration reform. And there are ongoing, bipartisan discussions as we speak.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I understand that’s happening through the recess…
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN That’s true. That is.
MARGARET BRENNAN: … for the border.
Do you know – I mean, is it really realistic, though, that – that’s a very hard issue – that that’s going to get done before 2023’s up?
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN Well, there are good-faith negotiations going on. Whether they get done or not, I don’t know.
But let me just say, it seems to me that, given the desperate situation in Ukraine…
MARGARET BRENNAN: Mm-hmm.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN … it is irresponsible for people to say that we’re going to allow Putin to continue his assault on Ukraine and only going to provide that assistance if we get a deal on something else.
I want to get a deal on immigration reform, but it doesn’t make sense to me to connect the two.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So you wrote a letter this month endorsing more funding for Israel, but also pressing the Biden administration on its assessment of whether these military goals are actually achievable and how that country is protecting civilians.
Are you satisfied with what the White House has told you?
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN We’re still awaiting a public response from the Biden administration.
We’ve not received that public response yet. We have had outreach at the highest levels. And we’ve been offered, those of us who signed the letter, to meet with the president’s top national security and foreign policy team to discuss some of those issues.
But – but we are still awaiting an answer to the letter, because we asked a lot of questions that we think are important to get answers to.
MARGARET BRENNAN: This is hurting the president with his fellow Democrats, isn’t it?
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN Well, I don’t know if it’s hurting the president with fellow Democrats.
I do think it’s important that the president speak out more clearly on this issue. Let me say this. In the aftermath of the horrific Hamas attacks of October 7, you have, I think, virtually every senator supporting Israel’s objective of going after Hamas and neutralizing them from a military perspective, no more October 7s.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN But we also need to do, as Secretary Blinken said, see – how Israel conducts this operation is important.
And so many of us were concerned, just a few weeks ago, when one of the White House National Security spokesperson was asked if the United States has any red lines.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN And the answer was no, which means anything goes.
And – and that cannot be consistent with American interests and American values. So, that’s why we’re asking these questions.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It can’t be consistent, because that’s not the policy for any other country that the United States provides military aid to.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN Look, that – that’s right.
Look, we – we have a – a policy of trying to make sure that our funds are used in a manner that advances our interest and our values. And if you look at what’s happening right now in Gaza, the desperate humanitarian crisis, clearly, that’s more that can be done.
And if you look at the level of civilian casualties, Secretary Blinken himself has acknowledged that there are additional measures that the Netanyahu government can take to reduce the high level of civilian casualties, two-thirds of them children.
So, this is why we’re asking the president questions. We want to work with the president to get more assurances that our interests and values will be protected.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK, we have to take a break, but I want you to stay here with us for more Face the Nation.
And all of you stay with us too.
MARGARET BRENNAN: For the very latest on the presidential elections, go to the CBS News YouTube page. Our senior White House and political correspondent, Ed O’Keefe, is hosting a new weekly review of the latest developments in the 2024 race for the White House.
We will be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Welcome back to FACE THE NATION.
And we have more questions now for Senator Chris van Hollen.
Senator, I want to pick up on something you’ve been raising concerns about for a while. Going back to July, I found a letter where you were saying to the White House you had concerns about the more than 3 billion in security assistance to Israel because you thought taxpayer money should not shield settlers who are attacking and burning Palestinian villages with immunity.
Last night the president started very publicly saying he’s going to start trying to crack down. What do you think of this plan to restrict visas?
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: I was pleased to hear the president say what he – he said. And I fully support the president’s plan to restrict visas from people who have a record of violence against innocent people. So, I think that’s an important first step.
As you know, extreme settler violence against Palestinians has been an issue for a very long time. We’ve seen a huge spike in extremist settler violence since the – the Gaza war started as people have been focused on the war there. A 500 percent increase.
The Palestinians have been killed by extremist settlers, their houses burned down, pushed out of villages, olive orchards chopped down in the middle of olive season, which is the number one income producing time for a lot of these villagers. So, this is a big, big problem.
Remember, in the Netanyahu coalition you have some very extreme members. Smotrich, Ben-Gvir, one of them, you know, belongs to the successor party, to the Kahanism (ph) party, a party that was on the U.S. terrorist watch list.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: So, this is why it’s very important for the United States to weigh in and weigh in strongly. I’m glad to see the president do what he did.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And they were in the government well before October the 7th.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: That’s right.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Just quickly, you’ve made some statements that being pro- Israeli doesn’t require being anti-Palestinian and vice versa. Why do you think that that’s a controversial statement?
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Well, it shouldn’t be, right?
MARGARET BRENNAN: Right.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Because you can be both pro-Israel, as I am, and also pro-Palestinian and support Palestinian rights and aspirations to self- determination and a homeland of their own. In fact, the president’s vision, when he sees some light maybe at the end of this dark tunnel, has been a two-state solution. Israel living securely with a Palestinian state as a neighbor, where Palestinians have equal dignity and full rights.
And one of the problems with what’s happening on the West Bank right now is when you push the Palestinians off of their lands, you make it even harder to have a two-state solution. You strengthen Hamas, you weaken the Palestinian Authority, and you make it harder.
So, I was disappointed to see Prime Minister Netanyahu smack down President Biden’s call for a two-state solution.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: This is going to mean that the president, President Biden, has to do even more to put forward a clear vision of how we’re going to emerge from this very dark tunnel into a bright future.
MARGARET BRENNAN: I think we all hope for a brighter future.
Senator, thank you very much for your time today.
CHRIS VAN HOLLEN: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: And we’re going to turn now to Jordan’s ambassador to the United States, Dina Kawar.
Ambassador, good to have you here in person.
DINA KAWAR (Jordanian Ambassador to the United States): Thank you very much, Margaret.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, before the war there were more be than 2 million children in Gaza. Estimated 4,600 have been killed in the past few weeks. And for those who do survive, many of them are disabled.
I wonder what you think this does to the security of the region to have these next generations so impacted?
DINA KAWAR: Margaret, the images we’re seeing out of Gaza are not the same images that the United States is seeing on the mainstream media. We’re watching our social media and everybody in the Arab world is doing the same. The images are flabbergasting and very, very sad.
When you see parenting looking for their – the remains of their dead kids in – in supermarket bags, or you’re seeing children looking for parents or any familiar face because they’re left alone in this world.
Now, out of the 11,500 dead, the majority are women and children for sure. And this is asking ourselves, like 17,000 to 18,000 children are going to be orphans. What do we do with that? Some studies have shown that some of the Hamas – the majority of Hamas fighters were orphans.
So, our call here is for a cease-fire. The Jordanian government is asking for a cease-fire. And his majesty has spoken about the importance of going to a cease-fire, not because we – we want to think differently from the rest of the world, but because we feel that with the Arab countries and with the Islamic countries, this is the only way forward to stop this war and to sit around the table and go back to negotiations.
The humanitarian situation in the West Bank is beyond. And right now what is worrying us is the UNRWA reports that are coming out of Gaza –
MARGARET BRENNAN: The U.N. reports.
DINA KAWAR: Yes. UNRWA is the one on the – on the ground. And they’ve lost 103 people out of them.
You’ve – you’ve lost 49 colleagues as journalists. We’ve lost 200 people from the medical health system. And UNRWA is worried about out of the 154 centers they have in – in the West Bank – in the – in Gaza, sorry –
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
DINA KAWAR: They are inundated with around 830,000 IDPs. These IDPs came from the north to the south because they were asked –
MARGARET BRENNAN: (INAUDIBLE) people, right.
DINA KAWAR: Yes. And these displaced people were asked to leave the north in no time to go to the south and now they’re asked to leave the south. Didn’t – didn’t anybody think that if Hamas is in the north they would go to the south? Didn’t anybody think that this military strategy is going to work? So, our worry is that this violence is going just to breed violence and it’s putting pressure in the region.
And if you cannot talk to the moral compass of the world, nor to the humanitarian feelings, let’s talk strategic – strategic thinking. And that’s where we’re going.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Well, and I want to go there with you as well.
We should say that estimated 4,600 children, that’s from the Gaza Health Ministry, but no one has an accurate assessment, including the United States government, because they can’t actually get in there and count bodies.
DINA KAWAR: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But it is a tremendous amount of death.
Your government has had to airdrop in medical aid to some of the personnel you do have on the ground there. I understand there was an attack against a field hospital.
DINA KAWAR: Yes.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Who carried it out? What happened?
DINA KAWAR: OK. We have the hospital, a military hospital, south of Gaza City. And now we’re going to have a second one in the south of Gaza.
Now, the one that was struck was – there was – there’s a mosque next to the hospital and the Israeli military bombarded that mosque and people were running because they were injured, running to the hospital. And as our military people came out to help them, they got also hit. So, we had seven injured, and now they’re OK. They’ve been taken care of.
But we do not find it normal that – that all the hospitals are attacked. We do not find it normal that we’re attacking civilians and – and a collective punishment. This cannot go on, Margaret. This cannot go on. It’s not solving the problem. So, now – and now there’s a third hospital in the West Bank as well.
Also, concerning the West Bank because we’re talking about Gaza a lot. Just one word about the fuel shortage in Gaza. It is getting so complicated that we – that we are worried about the health hazard in – in – in Gaza. The WHO, the World Health Organization, is warning that if there is no fuel coming in, it’s going to be a problem for the sewage system, for the water pumping desalination.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
DINA KAWAR: And dogs are eating bodies if you – because they have – not everybody is able to – to put people into – into burial morgues (ph). So, we need to worry about this because otherwise we will have diseases that we didn’t have before.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
DINA KAWAR: We need to get more openings and our charity, the (INAUDIBLE) charity organization, is working a lot on – on getting this aid. And we’re calling upon the – the world that is wanting to help to either help UNRWA, that is on the ground, or buy items that are in the country, whether in Egypt or Jordan, to help to send to – to Gaza.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Let me ask you because Jordan has had a peace treaty with Israel for 30 years. You have trade. You have all sorts of contact with them. Do you worry that the next generation of Jordanians, or the surrounding countries, will not be able to maintain the peace that they have had for decades because of what’s happening now?
DINA KAWAR: Well, there’s a lot of pressure –
MARGARET BRENNAN: Is it destabilizing?
DINA KAWAR: It – I wouldn’t say the word destabilizing, but it is putting a lot of pressure on – on his majesty and on the government because people are angry. They see the images every day. I mean we’re all angry. It’s very humiliating. It’s very hurtful and it’s – it’s inhuman. And we’re just wondering, how far is this going to go? We’re calling for a ceasefire. We’re calling to go back to negotiations.
And as the senator said, we do not to be – you do – you – the only way to be pro-Israeli is to ask for peace. And the only way to be pro-Palestinian is to ask for peace. And this is common grounds for both of us.
MARGARET BRENNAN: OK.
DINA KAWAR: So, we need to go further on that. And on the settlers. Just as a word in the West Bank. The settlers are going haywire, unhinged and are not caring about the law and nobody’s able to stop them. Every day there are eight (ph) attacks on Palestinians and they are mistreating them, humiliating them, sending videos all over social media of them naked and in – in situations that are unacceptable. They are attacking also the Armenian quarters, they’re attacking Christian worshipers in Jerusalem. So, we’re wondering how much more do they need to do to be stopped?
So, I was very happy and we were very happy to see the op-ed of – of the president. We’re very grateful that he mentions the issue of the settlements and that they need to – to think about the civilians and stopping of the killing.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll see – we’ll see if there’s more on that this coming week as the White House has promised.
Thank you, Ambassador.
DINA KAWAR: Thank you.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: We go now to the chairman and ranking member of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, Republican Mike Gallagher and Democrat Raja Krishnamoorthi.
Good morning to you both.
Gentlemen, we like bipartisan conversations on this program, so welcome back.
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI, (D-IL): Good morning.
REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): Thank you. Great to be here.
MARGARET BRENNAN: So, I want to put it to you both then, can you work together to pass this, what, $4 billion President Biden is asking for, for Taiwan and Asian allies before the end of the year?
Congressman Gallagher, Republicans are in control, so I’ll go to you first.
MIKE GALLAGHER: I think we can. And I want to salute the ranking member for his leadership in setting the serious tone that our committee has been operating under. The rest of Congress has been descending into what looks like a high school reality TV program, but we’ve been able to work together. And so that gives me a lot of optimism, particularly in light of the growing threat to Taiwan.
One thing that went almost unreported amidst Biden and Xi’s summit is that Xi tripled down on his threats to Taiwan. He reportedly said to the president in their meeting that peace and stability in the region are less important than solving the Taiwan question. The CCP’s official statement afterwards said that we need to stop arming Taiwan and support the reunification effort.
So, all of this should remind us that no amount of relentless diplomacy will make a difference if we don’t fix the fundamental problem, which is that the balance of hard power across the strait and throughout the Indo- Pacific region is eroding and with it the risk of war is increasing, which is why we need to act before it’s too late.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
Congressman Krishnamoorthi, you’re confident before the end of 2023 this is going to pass?
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: We have no choice. We have to pass this. The president’s absolutely correct to ask for this funding, not only for Taiwan, but for Ukraine, as well as Israel, and other priorities. They’re all inextricably linked. We have to make sure that we send the right message to Xi Jinping.
Now, a recent survey showed that a majority of voters believe that a war is possible in the next ten years. And they’re very concerned about it. Three quarters of Democrats and Republicans want us to prevent war. And the best way to do that is to make sure that we deter aggression by equipping Taiwan with what it needs to prevent aggression, but also to tone down the rhetoric and make sure that we have diplomacy with the highest levels of the CCP.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Tone down the rhetoric. In an election year no less.
Congressman Gallagher, I read that you want to subpoena potentially the main sponsors of a dinner that Xi Jinping attended with some of the biggest CEOs in the United States. CEOs from Blackstone, KKR, Pfizer, Boeing, FedEx, Apple, BlackRock. What do you seek to achieve there? Don’t you know the names of everyone who bought tickets?
MIKE GALLAGHER: Well, I never mentioned a subpoena, so I don’t know where that report is coming from.
MARGARET BRENNAN: It was in “Bloomberg.”
MIKE GALLAGHER: I’ll comment broadly on the dinner, which I thought was disgusting.
Well, “Bloomberg” got it wrong in this case. $40,000 to eat coffee-rubbed flank steak and sip cake bread, Sovereign Blanc with Xi Jinping. And what’s worse than that is the fact that they gave him a standing ovation. This a communist dictator who’s committed a genocide in Xinjiang, who’s committing a cultural genocide in Tibet, who has completely destroyed civil society in Hong Kong, who’s risking, as we just talked about, provoking World War III. To give him a standing ovation. And what’s even worse than that is, it wasn’t just the people you’d expect, like Tim Cook from Apple or BlackRock, it was American defense contractors. All the more reason why Congress, I think, needs to step up to cut off the flow of U.S. capital to Chinese military companies, to specify the appropriate level of de-risking or diversification so we have a healthier economic relationship to modernize our military because corporate America and Wall Street have proven time and again they’re willing to sell out American interests in order to make money in China.
MARGARET BRENNAN: But the two economies are so incredibly intertwined. I mean the very fact that Rahm Emanuel –
MIKE GALLAGHER: Absolutely.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The president’s ambassador to Japan, said, “the CEOs literally have their R&D, their intellectual property stolen from them and they gave Xi Jinping a standing ovation.” Doesn’t that just tell you that China’s great – greatest leverage here is financial and the reality is that it’s not going to be unwound?
MIKE GALLAGHER: Well, it has to be unwound, at least in part. I’m not arguing for a total decoupling.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: I personally think it has to be.
MIKE GALLAGHER: Go ahead, Raja. Sorry.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Go ahead.
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: No, I was just saying that I think that our – even without any U.S. government action, I’m – I’m heartened that a lot of companies in the private sector are de-risking, are reducing their exposure in China. That particular dinner left a bad taste in my mouth. I don’t think that people were paying $40,000 for the coffee-crusted steaks. They were paying for access.
I hope that they also brought up some of our concerns with regard to economic aggression that the CCP is routinely practicing against American entities. For our part on the Select Committee I want to just say, I’m very glad to be working with Mike on ways to work with the Biden administration to reduce our investments in entities in China that are fueling the PLA’s military modernization and human rights abuses. Thankfully, the Federal Thrift Savings Plan listened to us recently when they decided to remove investments in precisely those entities. So I think what we’re doing on the committee is having a difference.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi, I want to ask you about what you thought was achieved at the summit because expectations were set very low, right? Just answering the phone, military to military, and getting China to enforce some of its existing policies to cut down on the flow of fentanyl precursor chemicals.
So, do you both think this was a success just to simply have the two leaders face to face?
GALLAGHER: Well, I welcome the establishment of a crisis communication channel in so much as it reduces the risk of miscommunication leading to war. I’m skeptical of the fentanyl agreement, I have to confess, only because we’ve seen this movie before, but certainly I – anything to reduce the devastating effects of – that fentanyl is causing all across America would be welcomed.
My concern more broadly, and while I think it’s too early to characterize this one way or the other, is that whenever we have summits like this, we tend to pay cash up front, but for the CCP the check is always in the mail. And as I said before, the most important form of communication is the investments we make in our own hard powered posture in the Indo-Pacific. And not we’re simply not just moving hard enough. We’ve had two administrations now of different parties that have failed to implement a deterrence by denial posture in the Pacific.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congressman Krishnamoorthi, was it a success?
RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI: I – well, I think it was very promising. I think that their agreement with (INAUDIBLE) cooperation on fentanyl is a good first step. I also like the establishment of the military-to-military communications channels. I – quite frankly, I like the fact that Xi Jinping was pandering and he’s going to send a few pandas to the United States and increase commercial flights both ways.
What I would have liked to have seen a little more is talk about the human rights abuses and the crackdown on Uyghurs, Tibetans and dissidents in China. I’m hopeful that we can see more action on that particular score.
But look, Margaret, their expectations for the summit were super low. You know, as long as a Chinese spy balloon isn’t flying over the U.S. now following the latest meeting, I think that it’s probably going to be viewed as having met expectations and exceeded them probably.
MARGARET BRENNAN: The comments from Xi on the pandas was a little squishy too. It wasn’t a hard commitment that everyone’s getting their pandas back here.
But, Congressman, on the – the one thing that you have, as I understand it, subpoenaed was in regard to an illegal bio lab in California. Your committee took this on. What did you discover and what’s your message to the administration?
MIKE GALLAGHER: Well, local officials in Reedley discovered this illegal bio lab where there were transgenic mice, there was all sorts of equipment, there were vials containing Ebola, HIV, dangerous pathogens. And when they called the CDC and the FBI, they refused to investigate. The CDC hung up on them in many cases.
We also discovered that the owner of the biolab, Jesse Shu, was a fugitive. He was here illegally. He was fleeing a $330 million IP judgment against him and he was receiving all sorts of unexplained wire transfers to the total of $2 million from China. He was a Chinese national.
Bottom line is, we just don’t have appropriate trip wires in place. You can buy some of this stuff illegally online. We need to have a more robust defense in depth for biolabs like this. We can’t allow this to happen again. And we need to support local officials –
MARGARET BRENNAN: Yes.
MIKE GALLAGHER: Not hang up on them when they call the federal government.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Understood. More to talk about with you both. Thank you for your time today. We’re going to have to leave it there.
We’ll be back in a moment.
MARGARET BRENNAN: Congress has not been the friendliest place of late, but even by today’s diminished standards we were struck by the lapse in decorum on Capitol Hill last week.
MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): Since Election Day on November 7th, more than a half dozen members of Congress have announced plans to retire, resign or seek another job.
This past week’s stunning lack of civility on Capitol Hill may offer a glimpse as to why.
A U.S. senator, Oklahoma Republican Markwayne Mullin, challenged a testifying witness, a teamster’s boss, to a fight.
SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-OK): Well, stand your butt up then.
SEAN O’BRIEN (President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters): You stand your butt up, big guy.
SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I-VT): Oh, hold it – hold – stop it. All right, hold it.
MARKWAYNE MULLEN: Is that your solution to every problem?
BERNIE SANDERS: No, no, sit down.
MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): Americans have enough contempt for Congress, Senator Sanders said. Let’s not make it worse.
The former speaker of the House denied intentionally hitting one of the members who voted to oust him.
REP. KEVIN MCCARTHY (R-CA): No, I did not elbow him. No, I would not elbow him.
REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): I mean it was just a clean shot to the kidneys.
MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): This breakdown in discourse sparked comparison to the 1850s when pro-slavery Democratic House member Preston Brooks beat anti-slavery Republican Senator Charles Sumner unconscious. The nation was on the cusp of civil war then. It isn’t clear what we’re on the cusp of now.
Former president and leading Republican candidate, Donald Trump.
DONALD TRUMP (Former U.S. President and 2024 Presidential Candidate): We will root out the communists, Marxist, fascist and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country.
MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): On stage at rallies, on TV, and on social media, inflammatory language is common. Rival Chris Christie derided it as TV tough guy talk.
CHRIS CHRISTIE (R, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE): When Ron DeSantis thinks it sounds tough, by saying he’s going to slit the throats of bureaucrats, or shoot immigrants stone cold dead at the border, this is fundamentally unserious.
MARGARET BRENNAN (voice over): The FBI warned again this week of a heightened threat environment in the U.S. These protesters claimed to be in favor of Middle East peace, but they injured six Capitol Hill police officers outside Democratic committee headquarters.
Violence the new Republican speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, condemned as he defended the officers. It isn’t clear how the safety of those very same officers will be impacted by his Friday release of the explicit security footage of the January 6th assault on the Capitol.
A year out from a heated presidential race, let’s all bring some civility back to our politics. The serious issues facing our country require it.
MARGARET BRENNAN (on camera): We’ll be right back.
MARGARET BRENNAN: That’s it for us today. Thank you all for watching. Until next week, for FACE THE NATION, I’m Margaret Brennan.