Why Israel may be delaying a ground invasion and a fourth contender for speaker: Morning Rundown


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Hospitals in Gaza are failing as fuel supplies run out. A fourth GOP speaker nominee goes for the gavel. And more is revealed about the off-duty pilot accused of trying to shut down a plane mid-flight. 

Here’s what to know today.

Why Netanyahu may be delaying an Israeli ground invasion

The silence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is deafening as the world waits for a potential ground offensive in Gaza.

After Hamas militants terrorized Israelis —murdering families and concertgoers and taking hundreds of hostages — on Oct. 7, Israel declared war on Hamas and began pummeling Gaza with deadly airstrikes. Netanyahu formed a unity war Cabinet, called up 360,000 Israel Defense Forces reservists and lined up thousands of tanks and armored vehicles along the Gaza border. Then, a “hurry up and wait” mentality spread around the world. 

Netanyahu has not settled on an exit plan for how and when Israeli forces would leave Gaza, which is complicating matters. Officials are also under pressure to save as many of the 220 Israeli and foreign hostages held in Hamas’ underground tunnels. American officials have put pressure on Israeli leaders to minimize civilian casualties, and a ground invasion would also pose a danger to Israel’s own soldiers, who could be stepping into what a former Israeli senior security official called a ‘’dangerous trap.’’ Senior producer Anna Schecter explains these and other reasons for the delay

More on the Israel-Hamas war:

  • Gaza’s health care system is failing, and the U.N. warned it may be forced to halt operations today as fuel runs out. Israeli airstrikes led to the deadliest day yet in the besieged enclave, Palestinian officials said. Follow live updates here.
  • A new assessment by U.S. intelligence agencies says the blast last week at a Gaza hospital was caused by a Palestinian rocket that broke apart after an engine failure. However, officials have “low confidence” that Palestine Islamic Jihad was responsible for the rocket launch, as U.S. officials had previously indicated.
  • Yocheved Lifshitz, one of the Israeli hostages captured by Hamas, says she went through hell. But she offered a handshake, and a word of peace, to her captor as she was freed.
  • The Palestinian American woman whose 6-year-old son was fatally stabbed in what authorities say was a hate crime said in her first public comments since the attack that she harbors no hatred and urges people to “pray for peace.”

The GOP’s fourth House speaker nominee: Mike Johnson

As early as this afternoon, Rep. Mike Johnson of Louisiana will try to achieve what three other House speaker nominees before him couldn’t and get the 217 Republican votes needed to win the leadership role. The relatively little-known and low-ranking member of the GOP leadership team was nominated in a vote last night, hours after Majority Whip Tom Emmer was nominated — only to quickly drop his bid after he couldn’t secure enough support. Emmer’s failed bid follows Reps. Steve Scalise and Jim Jordan’s attempts to become speaker. There were some indications last night that Johnson picked up momentum.

Without a speaker, the House is unable to vote on funding bills ahead of a looming Nov. 17 deadline or weigh in on the Biden administration’s request for a $105 billion package that includes aid to Israel, new funding for Ukraine and more. All the while, the chaos has produced mistrust and fresh grudges.

The prolonged impasse has also spurred others to pitch different solutions. Yesterday, Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who was ousted more than three weeks ago, floated a plan that would reinstall him as House speaker and make Rep. Jordan assistant speaker, three sources familiar with the matter said.

And no women within the GOP’s ranks have run for speaker of the House. Why? One Republican strategist suggests there’s a “glass ceiling.”

Off-duty pilot admitted to taking ‘magic mushrooms’ before allegedly trying to shut down plane’s engines

The off-duty pilot accused of trying to bring down an Alaska Airlines flight pleaded not guilty yesterday to more than 80 counts of attempted murder, and the FBI is investigating whether he was under the influence during the Sunday flight from Washington state to San Francisco.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Oregon, 44-year-old Joseph Emerson said he took magic mushrooms two days before the flight, that he had not slept in about 40 hours and that his depression may have been worsened by the recent death of a friend. In the state complaint, filed yesterday, pilots also in the cockpit during the flight said the plane was “seconds away” from its engines being cut off. Here’s what else we learned.

Drone attacks on U.S. bases in Iraq, Syria injure 24 military personnel

Two dozen American military personnel were wounded last week in a series of drone attacks at bases in Iraq and Syria, U.S. Central Command told NBC News. The Pentagon confirmed the attacks last week, but the number of U.S. casualties had not been previously disclosed.

According to CENTCOM, 20 American personnel suffered minor injuries last Wednesday when at least two one-way attack drones targeted al-Tanf military base in southern Syria. Another four American personnel suffered minor injuries on the same day during two separate drone attacks against U.S. and coalition forces stationed at al-Asad base in western Iraq. The attacks came amid rising tensions in the region over the conflict in Israel.

Chuck Todd: Sen. Mitt Romney contemplates Trump’s rise

There are three people alive today who probably do more “what if” thinking about former President Donald Trump’s rise than anyone else: Barack Obama (Trump’s predecessor), Hillary Clinton (Trump’s 2016 general election foe) and Mitt Romney (the last GOP nominee before Trump). It’s rare we’ll ever know what they really thought, but a new book from Romney, “Romney: A Reckoning,” gets close, Chuck Todd, NBC News’ chief political analyst and former moderator of “Meet The Press,” writes in an analysis. 

“Obviously, the heart of the book is his chronicling of the end of the modern Republican Party,” Todd writes. “And it’s clear Romney is trying to figure out how that happened.” Read the full analysis here. 

Today’s Talker: About 22 minutes of exercise per day negates…

… the harmful effects of prolonged sitting, according to new research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine. Activities like a brisk walk or gardening for a few minutes a day are all it takes, but the risk of dying prematurely from any cause goes down the more you exercise, the study found. If you’re wondering how to fit a few minutes of exercise into your busy day scientists say there are some easy ways to get moving.

Politics in Brief 

2024 election: President Joe Biden will not be on the primary ballot in New Hampshire this election cycle.

Trump fraud trial: Michael Cohen, Donald Trump’s former lawyer, came face to face with his old boss for the first time in five years as a witness in his civil fraud trial. Cohen claimed in court that Trump “arbitrarily” came up with his own net worth estimations, and during cross-examination, Cohen said he lied when he pleaded guilty to charges in 2018. Read more highlights from yesterday’s testimony.

Georgia election interference case: Former Trump lawyer Jenna Ellis became the fourth co-defendant to accept a plea deal in the Georgia election interference case instead of going to trial. Ellis pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting false statements and writings.

Biden off the N.H. ballot: Biden will not be on the New Hampshire primary ballot this election, as part of the Democratic National Committee’s effort to make South Carolina the first official contest of the cycle.

Staff Pick: The internet’s crush on a 200-year-old vampire

Meet Astarion. He has silver hair, pale skin, a chiseled body and a sassy sense of humor. He’s also a video game character. Reporter Kalhan Rosenblatt’s look at the internet’s obsession with the video game vampire goes beyond his looks and the choose-your-own-adventure style of the game and reveals that Astarion’s own traumatic background actually helps abuse survivors feel seen. — Elizabeth Robinson, newsletter editor

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