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The Lead with Jake Tapper
Biden Meets With China's Xi In Effort To Ease Tensions; Rep. Mike Gallagher, (R-WI), Is Interviewed About Biden Xi Meeting; Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi, (D-IL), Is Interviewed About Biden Xi Meeting; China CMTE Releases Report On Clandestine Biolab In U.S.; New Hampshire Primary Set For January 23; Manchin Says He'd "Absolutely" Consider Presidential Run; Sen. Mullin Fundraising Off Confrontation Hearing Witness; Extreme Speech From Israeli Cabinet Members Inflames Tensions; Parents Of American Held Hostage By Hamas Plead For His Release; New Border Bill In Texas Could Cost Taxpayers Millions. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 15, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Will the Biden administration step in? Could this go all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court?
And leading this hour, President Biden and Xi Jinping may be all smiles in front of the cameras but there is simmering tension behind the scenes from spy balloons to cyberattacks to military showdowns and trade wars. Friction as leaders of these two worlds superpowers meets. The White House just announced the Biden Xi meeting has wrapped up. And CNN's David Culver joins us now from California.
David, are you hearing anything about how this meeting went? The meeting started, obviously, with reasonably optimistic statements and smiles by both leaders.
DAVID CULVER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It did. It felt like it started on a positive tone, Jake. Bit surprised, actually, that it went over just a little over two hours, as I look at the clock here wrapped up around 1:35 local time. I think we all saw that long list of issues between the two countries and you expected it to perhaps even go over the four hours that were allotted. But we should also point out, they are still together.
It's moved on now to a second portion of this summit, and that's essentially a working lunch. The two will dine together, no doubt, continued discussions. But you mentioned that optimistic tone starting things off. And we expected that from President Biden, there's a bit more transparency on the U.S. side going into this. Of course, they wanted to cool some of those tensions.
It's another issue off his plate if he can essentially stabilize things between the U.S. and China. What surprised me was President Xi, in his opening remarks, he actually even spoke a little bit longer than President Biden. Here's a little bit of what they had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES; We have to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict. And we also have to manage it responsibly, that competition.
PRES. XI JINPING, CHINA (through translator): It is an objective fact that China and the United States are different in history, culture, social system and development path. However, as long as they respect each other, coexist in peace and pursue win-win cooperation, they will be fully capable of rising above differences.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CULVER: President Xi went on to say that the U.S. and China have a 50 year plus relationship. It's not always been smooth sailing. There have been twists and turns. Yet the key and all of it is it has continued to move forward. Kind words, Jake, but we'll see if the substance follows here.
TAPPER: And, David, how is President Xi's visit to the U.S. playing in China?
CULVER: This has really surprised me, Jake. I mean, the three years that I live there, of course, it was around the time of the pandemic as well. But the portrayal of the U.S. from state media in China was rarely positive. And what we have seen in the past 24 hours are glowing headlines and remarks, cherishing people to people, exchanges between the U.S. and China, revisiting President Xi's past trips in a almost romanticizing way, and seemingly very hopeful. And that's important because, obviously, we know it's heavily controlled by the CCP.
So it's, in many ways, an indication of what the sentiment is from the leadership. But the one headline, and you can see the underwater (ph) call, it goes on to say that flying across the Pacific and feeling the warmth, current of people to people exchange between China and the United States. Jake, those are not words that you see very often in what is normally a very combative tone from state media there.
TAPPER: And what's ahead for President Biden after this meeting?
CULVER: Yes, so the other main event is the venue where I'm standing at right now, it's APEC. And so, you've got 21 Asia Pacific economies coming together to discuss many of the regional issues. U.S. China is huge in all of that. Of course, those economies are looking at the U.S. and China relationship and trying to figure out how that's going to shake out and how that, in turn, will trickle down to impact them. So they're very much clued in as to what's happening at this summit.
And then the President will meet with the president of Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and that's expected on Friday. The topics there, Jake, immigration and fentanyl.
TAPPER: All right, David Culver in San Francisco, thanks so much.
President Biden is scheduled to answer reporters' questions about today's meeting at 7:30 p.m. Eastern. CNN will of course, provide live coverage.
With us now to discuss, the chairman and the ranking Democrat of the House Select Committee on the Chinese Communist Party, Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin, Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois.
I'm curious as to what both of you want or are looking for out of today's meeting between Presidents Biden and Xi? Gallagher and Krishnamoorthi, in that order, if you could respond.
REP. MIKE GALLAGHER (R-WI): I think the best thing that could come out of this is potentially the reestablishment of a crisis communication channel. Think a military to military phone that exists to minimize the potential for a miscommunication or to deal with if there's an accidental collision in and around the first island chain, that would be a productive step going forward. That by self will not be sufficient to avoid a war, we need to determine by now posture, but it can be constructive.
The worst case scenario would be if we relieve sanctions or 301 tariffs in return for a promise of future cooperation. Time and again, we've seen with the CCP, we pay cash up front, their check is always in the mail. So we just need to make sure we don't fall into that trap again.
REP. RAJA KRISHNAMOORTHI (D-IL): I think that I would echo the sentiment about reopening the military to military communications channel. I'd also like to see a progress with regard to reducing fentanyl precursors coming out of China going into Mexico and then flooding our markets -- flooding our country through the Sinaloa Cartel. I think that the CCP could control that a lot better and reduce that flow of fentanyl, ultimately reaching our country.
TAPPER: So, you're also here to release details of an investigation by your committee in brief last December, a local official in the small town of Reedley in central California near Fresno, warning, some of this is graphic, that official stumbled on a clandestine lab in what was supposed to be a vacant warehouse. The lab contain 1000s of vials of biological substances and mice used for testing subsequent inspections, determined labels on some of the vials said in Mandarin and encode that they contain infectious pathogens, including the AIDS virus and COVID and tuberculosis and the deadliest known form of malaria. One freezer was labeled Ebola.
All of that's frightening enough. The lack of response from the U.S. government seems alarming.
Chairman Gallagher, what's going on?
GALLAGHER: Well, we're not for the work of local officials who saw a essentially a pipe coming out of the building that didn't belong we may not have discovered this. And when they tried to contact federal government entities like the CDC, in some cases, they were hung up on. So, I think what this investigation has revealed is that we don't have in place adequate tripwires to detect and prevent biolabs like this from being established. And in many cases, you're able to buy these pathogens and some of this material online. That's unacceptable.
And the individual in question was a criminal with a long criminal record, with dubious ties to the PRC. This was a massive problem. And we're hoping this will spur productive legislative action going forward to prevent this from happening again.
TAPPER: Right. The committee found that the lab was owned by a fugitive, a Chinese fugitive from Canada. He entered the U.S. illegally. He was getting payments from Chinese banks according to your report. He was arrested last month for allegedly reselling counterfeit medical testing kits.
Congressman Krishnamoorthi, do we think that -- do you think that the Chinese government knew what he was doing? Do we have any idea what exactly he was doing?
KRISHNAMOORTHI: No, we haven't seen evidence of that. However, I would go back to two things that Mike pointed out. One is, anybody whether it's a fugitive, whether it's a fraudster, whether it's a domestic terrorists can purchase very dangerous pathogens online without very little vetting, if any vetting at all. I mean, you need an identification, a driver's license to get Sudafed in a local pharmacy, but you don't need even that to get Ebola online. The second thing is we need to equip the CDC and other agencies with the tools and authorities to proactively prevent this type of situation from arising in the first place.
TAPPER: So, Congressman Chairman Gallagher, what should happen now, do you think?
GALLAGHER: Well, right now, we're actually holding a quasi-hearing on the event. We have biosecurity experts, we have the local officials, and we're hoping that out of this conversation comes an agenda for bipartisan steps we can take in this Congress to prevent this type of thing.
At a broader level, I think the committee is going to be turning in the next year to this issue of synthetic biotechnology in general and the competition in that cutting edge technology with the CCP. I would also say I think our intelligence community needs to develop a more sophisticated understanding of the very opaque connections between PRC nationals, you know, businesses, United Front Work Department organizations, it can be very complicated to unpack that at times. And I'm not convinced we have the requisite expertise, even in the IC to understand what's happening right here in America.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: I'm glad, Jake, if I could jump in.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: One thing I'm really glad about our cooperation is that we were able to establish facts in this report and dispel some of the really horrible conspiracy theories that are out there, that this was some kind of Asian virus lab or something like that. We got to stop that kind of talk and rhetoric and just talk about the facts.
TAPPER: No, it's great to see and as always, it's great to see bipartisanship and evidence based work. So, kudos to both of you and thanks for coming on. And thanks for the work you do.
GALLAGHER: Thank you.
KRISHNAMOORTHI: Thank you, Jake.
TAPPER: Coming up the decision today that defies President Biden's wish, New Hampshire bucking Biden, keeping him off the state's primary every ballot. What could this mean for the 2024 race? Biden needs to win New Hampshire to become the president again. Stay with us.
TAPPER: Our 2024 lead, cue the music. Yes, seriously. Other than Dave Matthew is the best sounds I've ever heard. New Hampshire announced today the state will hold its primary on January 23. That's one week after the Iowa Republican caucuses on January 15 and a week before, before the South Carolina Democratic primary in February 3.
Under state law, New Hampshire must hold its primary at least one week before any other state primary. However, this puts the state at odds with a new plan proposed by the Democratic Party and backed by President Biden who loves South Carolina, that call for South Carolina to hold the party's first primary. The move from New Hampshire today will likely cost the state of New Hampshire delegates at the Democratic convention next summer.
With us now to discuss former Republican Congressman Joe Walsh from Illinois, former White House Communications Director for the Biden administration, Kate Bedingfield.
Kate, I know it's only four electoral votes. But you know, it often comes down to -- it's often very close and often the Democrats are relying on those for electoral votes. Biden won them, Hillary won them, Obama won them. Are you ready to just like, toss aside those four electoral votes because Joe Biden just decided to change it all because he likes South Carolina better?
KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, let's be clear what Biden -- the Biden team were doing here was trying to lift diversity in the primary process. I mean, New Hampshire --
TAPPER: He lost New Hampshire. He lost New Hampshire and he won South Carolina. That's what happened.
BEDINGFIELD: But New Hampshire is it is a very homogenous state, South Carolina is a much more diverse state, Michigan, which is moving up in the primary process is a much more diverse state. So for President Biden and the Biden team, this is about trying to bring in voters of color into the process earlier who ultimately wind up deciding the -- who the nominee is.
Look, I think at the end of the day, is this going to have an impact. I'm not so sure. I mean, you saw the Democratic -- the chair of the Democratic Party in New Hampshire come out today and say Biden will still win New Hampshire, likely through a write in campaign. At the end of the day, I think, again, what the Biden team has done is just further embolden diverse voters in the process. That's a good thing.
And look, the general election, to your point, general election, is it going to be close? Yes, it is. The general election is going to be close. The Biden campaign is going to be fighting in every state. But I don't think that these moves are going to ultimately be the thing that determines who wins the president. Who wins the presidency next November?
TAPPER: I want to get your reaction. But I just want to say, the Biden campaign is not going to be fighting in every state. And you know one state you're not going to win? South Carolina. Anyway, go ahead.
JOE WALSH, (R) FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, ILLINOIS: Turn it into an opportunity. The Biden campaign needs kind of a shot in the arm --
WALSH: -- and active right in campaign. I agree with Kate, it would -- I think it would be fun and a story if he won New Hampshire via the writer (ph). Do it.
BEDINGFIELD: Absolutely. And I think it certainly -- and I think it's certainly possible.
BEDINGFIELD: I think at the end of the day voters in New Hampshire are broadly supportive of the Biden agenda. I think, understandably, leadership in New Hampshire is frustrated about the movement of the primary. That's fine. That's a different beast than voters in New Hampshire coming out to say, I'd rather Joe Biden be the president than Donald Trump. Those are sort of two -- those are two different, there's an inside game here and then there's --
TAPPER: What are you going to headline that the Congressman Dean Phillips wins the Democratic primary New Hampshire? What are you going to do?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, then we keep moving on to the next -- to the next primaries where Joe Biden will win.
WALSH: Will win South Carolina.
BEDINGFIELD: At the end of the day, if Dean Phillips wins, he's not going to -- as you just said, as you laid out at the top here, Dean Phillips isn't going to get delegates out of this, even if he does win in New Hampshire. But look, I think the Biden campaign feels good about the right end. And again, I would say you saw the chair of the Democratic Party in New Hampshire today say, Joe Biden will still win the New Hampshire via (inaudible).
TAPPER: Well, speaking of threats to Biden, listen to what West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said, Joe, when asked if he would consider a third party run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KRISTEN WELKER, NBC NEWS ANCHOR: Are you considering running for president?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I will do anything I can to help my country.
WELKER: Is that a yes?
MANCHIN: And you're saying, does that mean you would consider? Absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Absolutely, he says. Would you consider it? Absolutely.
WALSH: Jake, this makes no sense. And he also said, absolutely, Donald Trump getting reelected scares him to death. So that makes no sense. If you're scared to death of a Trump presidency, then you have to do whatever you can to help support the Democratic nominee. I'm so tired of this cutesy game that Joe Manchin is playing. And I wish the media would call him on it.
TAPPER: Well, I haven't -- just for the record, I haven't interviewed him lately. But go ahead.
WALSH: I can't wait till you do, Jake.
BEDINGFIELD: Look, that I barely disagree with.
TAPPER: Kaitlan Collins is interviewing him tonight. Just a little plug for Kaitlan on the show --
WALSH: Come on, Kaitlan.
TAPPER: -- 9:00 tonight. But what --
BEDINGFIELD: But listen, look, Joe Manchin is in the wooing phase. He's in the phase of this where he's, you know, he's being told by people that maybe there's a space for him.
TAPPER: Maybe there is.
BEDINGFIELD: Maybe he can carve out some middle --
TAPPER: But maybe there is.
BEDINGFIELD: OK. But let's --
TAPPER: Both Biden and Trump are unpopular. Most people in the country say they don't want either one of them there. BEDINGFIELD: But let's look -- OK, but fine. But let's look at the GOP primary as a test case here. The -- across the board, Donald Trump is running away with the Republican primary.
BEDINGFIELD: So the idea that there is an appetite amongst Republicans for some sort of more moderate voice that Joe Manchin is going to be able to provide that, for example, Nikki Haley, a registered Republican isn't providing, doesn't make a whole lot of sense. We're not seeing that.
WALSH: Look, in 2024, the next president is going to be the Democratic nominee or the Republican nominee, that's it. Manchin knows that. And so, if he really is that scared of Donald Trump, he's got to quit playing this game.
TAPPER: Why do you think it is that so many voters complain about the choices, but then, there has never been a successful third party run ever? Even like Teddy Roosevelt, one of the greatest presidents we've ever had, didn't have a successful third party.
WALSH: Because both political parties structurally, state by state, have made it damn impossible almost to do it.
BEDINGFIELD: And it's expensive to run for president. And the infrastructure required to run for president costs money. And for the major parties they are raising that money, they're helping build that infrastructure. It is incredibly difficult as an independent without that financial backing from the party to build an infrastructure.
TAPPER: Ross Perot had the money.
BEDINGFIELD: We should have --
BEDINGFIELD: Look, I -- we should have a conversation about that.
WALSH: The Rock could win as an independent if he run. It would have to be somebody huge like that.
TAPPER: So, speaking of The Rock, there was some really ugly fighting going on and threats of fighting. Kevin McCarthy denies it. But Kevin McCarthy --
TAPPER: -- doesn't always tell the truth, as I think is a fair statement. You can start with the 2020 election, and I don't -- it's only a two hour show, so I can't go into every light. Kevin McCarthy's told. But apparently he hit Kevin -- I mean, Congressman Burchett in the kidneys. And then Senator Markwayne Mullin called out and wanted to fight a union president. Here's what Senator Mullin had to say about it today.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. MARKWAYNE MULLIN (R-OK): First thing I thought of when I stood up, I thought, I'm going to break my hand on this guy's face, I'm going to take my wedding ring off. Because when you're fighting, and you learn how to punch correctly, you really shouldn't break your hand. But when you're aren't doing it with wraps --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you actually thought you were going to come to blows in that moment?
MULLIN: I had full intentions of doing that. Absolutely.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: We should know he's an MMA fighter.
TAPPER: So he actually knows. What the hell's going on to your party, man?
WALSH: This is Trump's party.
TAPPER: But like they actually -- like they're actually hitting each other or threatening to hit each other. And like -- and he's fundraising. All right. And look, I don't -- I personally, like enjoy watching the fight like in a ring, you know, I don't even mind a bar fight. I personally don't even mind a bar fight. But like, what is this?
WALSH: They -- Jake, they promise us that if they took over the House, they'd give us two years of chaos and dysfunction. They're doing it. It's not a surprise that they're fighting with each other now. This is Trump's party, and they all try to emulate him.
WALSH: It's ugly. It's ugly.
TAPPER: What's your take?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, my first question is, are men too emotional to lead? Because I'm just really wondering if this was it shows us is that --
WALSH: I can't fight that.
BEDINGFIELD: -- men are too driven by their emotions to lead. Look, I agree completely with Joe. This is Trump's party. This is for, you know, if you're the average voter and you're looking to what you've seen in Washington over the last few weeks, you've seen chaos with the speaker's raised, then you've seen threats of a shutdown, you've seen inability to work together, and now you're seeing your -- members of Congress threatening to come to blows on the floor. TAPPER: Well, not only threatening. Kevin McCarthy shot an elbow to the kidney.
BEDINGFIELD: Yes. Or you know, kidney punches in the hallway, that doesn't --
WALSH: Jake, we laugh. I think it'll get worse. I really do.
WALSH: I think publicly we'll see them go at each other.
TAPPER: Well, that's the thing, that normalization of violence has been going on --
TAPPER: -- for quite some time. And now it's actually happened.
TAPPER: Really ugly. Thanks both of you. I appreciate it. And thank you for not elbowing me in the kidneys. I know you've wanted to.
BEDINGFIELD: Show is not over yet.
TAPPER: I know you've wanted to.
BEDINGFIELD: Show is not over yet.
TAPPER: Coming up, some of the words behind the war between Israel and Hamas and some ugly speech from inside the Netanyahu government that is not helping matters. Stay with us.
TAPPER: New video today appears to show Israel's targeted rate inside Gaza's largest hospital. You can see medics still inside Al-Shifa Hospital evacuating patients as dust surrounds them. Israel calls this a, quote, "precise and targeted operation" looking for Hamas possibly hiding in tunnels under the hospital complex. The IDF released this video claiming to show where Hamas terrorists hid and stash their weapons. We should note, this is video being released by the IDF, the Israeli military, we cannot independently verify the contents as CNN is not on the ground there. Al-Shifa hospital officials have not yet commented on this.
What is clear, conditions in this hospital are horrendous. Doctors are trying to keep the hospital running. They are running out of fuel and supplies. Not to mention, there are reports of being interrogated by the IDF. Given the risk to civilian safety, Israel is under pressure to show proof of whether there has been any indication of terrorists or hostages held there.
Earlier this week, I asked the former deputy director of national intelligence in the U.S., Beth Sanner, what she thought President Biden could be doing differently regarding Israel.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BETH SANNER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think that one of the things we can certainly do is lay down very, very firmly what Israel cannot do in the West Bank, because that is the thing that's going to blow up in our faces and that makes a two state solution impossible.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Sanner's point is important, because with the world focused on Gaza, key members of the Netanyahu cabinet, the coalition government that he formed, key members of that cabinet are throwing fire on the flames in the West Bank and in Israel.
In the Israeli newspaper Haaretz on Monday of this week, columnist Odeh Bisharat called out two of the members of the Netanyahu cabinet for taking advantage of the Hamas attacks, taking advantage and using the attacks to advance their racist anti-Arab agenda. Let's start in the West Bank, as Sanner suggested we should with Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich. Smotrich is a hateful, anti-Arab bigot. He's a far right politician in the Netanyahu coalition, and he has broad powers over civilian issues in the West Bank. Haaretz reports that since October 7, more than 170 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israelis across the West Bank. Now, way back in 2005, when Israel was withdrawing from Gaza, Smotrich was arrested by the Israeli Security Services, the Shin Bet. Smotrich was arrested under suspicion of planning terrorist attacks. He was held by the Shin Bet for three weeks.
He was suspected of planning to block major public roads and damage infrastructure. That's according to Yedioth Ahronoth, a major Israeli newspaper. In 2019, the former deputy head of the Shin Bet, called Smotrich a, quote, Jewish terrorist. That's according to Israel's Channel 13. Now Smotrich denies those claims. He stated he was proud of his role in opposing Israel's expulsion from Gaza, quote, noting that he was freed without any charges being filed against him, according to a report from "The Times" of Israel.
Now Bisharat writes in Haaretz, on Monday of this week, that Smotrich, quote, sees the disaster that has befallen the country as an opportunity to plunder the West Bank. The settlers, who share his messianic ideology, have begun to carry out their plans to purge the area of its Palestinian population, unquote.
As with this scene, you see, of armed Israeli settlers, zealots, extremists harassing Palestinians, wreaking havoc in the West Bank. And then there's the Minister of National Security, Itamar Ben-Gvir, quote, immediately upon hearing of the criminal Hamas attacks, Bisharat writes, Ben-Gvir was calling for a sequel to the 2021 Arab- Jewish riots in order to devour what is left at Israeli democracy, unquote.
This includes armed militias, subordinate to Ben-Gvir, wandering the streets of Tel Aviv. And quote, the thought police hard at work arresting civics teacher, Dr. Meir Baruchin, for posts on Facebook, opposing the Israelis, army's operations in Gaza and for showing compassion for Palestinian suffering, unquote.
Of course, Ben-Gvir's first targets, he writes, Israel's Arab citizens who have been harassed, indicted, and arrested, quote, not only is the blood of human beings being spilled, so is the blood of Israeli democracy or what is left of it. Around it, a crazed band is dancing joyfully. Ben-Gvir, quote, has declared war on the Arab community, and not a single word of criticism has been uttered by the Israeli mainstream against this shameful spectacle, unquote.
Yesterday, Ben-Gvir posted this video, bragging about how Hamas terrorists are receiving, quote, the most stringent conditions. Eight handcuffed terrorists in a dark cell, iron beds, toilets in a hole in the floor to which Israeli citizen Gil Dickman tweeted to Minister Ben-Gvir, quote, Itamar, I'm begging. My cousin is now in the hands of Hamas, who's kidnapped his cousin. Your words about the dark dungeon, the hole in the floor, the handcuffs and the humiliation put her in real danger. Your every tweet is a match that burns the hearts of our families. I'm begging Itamar. There are Israelis there whose life and death are in the hands of your tongue, please stop, unquote.
But thinking about such things does not really seem to be Ben-Gvir's way. He is an openly racist, anti-Arab, a member of a far, far, far right party that Netanyahu joined with to form his coalition. Ben- Gvir's vile views we should know are no surprise. Until 2020, Ben-Gvir had a portrait in his home of Baruch Goldstein. Baruch Goldstein is a Jewish terrorist who murdered 29 Palestinian worshippers in the 1994 Cave of the Patriarchs massacre.
In 2015, Ben-Gvir attended a notorious, quote, wedding of hate in the West Bank. At this wedding of hate, the murder of Palestinians was celebrated, including the murder of the Palestinian infant. It's sick. Now in January, it seems like 100 years ago but it only 10 months ago, I asked Prime Minister Netanyahu about these two anti-Arab racists, these extremists in his government.
TAPPER: You have appointed some individuals, controversial figures, not part of your party, including ultra-nationalists Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: They joined the liquid, I didn't join them.
NETANYAHU: And I direct policy. And I've got my two hands on the wheel and believe me, it's going to be a good direction. TAPPER: Smotrich just called himself a fascist homophobe. He's suggested same sex marriage is like incest, the former deputy director of Shin Bet said, he was a Jewish terrorist that he tried to stage an event when the Gaza pull out was going on. And the other day he was saying that he was putting out these horrible conspiracy theories, you must have seen this, about the Shin Bet and the assassination of Rabin. I mean, these seem like rather extreme individuals.
NETANYAHU: Yes. Well, a lot of people say a lot of things when they're not empower. They sort of temper themselves when they get into power. And that's certainly the case here. Look, I'm controlling the government, and I'm responsible for its policies and the policies are sensible, and they're responsible continue to be that.
TAPPER: They didn't tamper themselves once they got into power. They didn't. And if Netanyahu's hands are on the wheel, the question for Netanyahu is, does he stand by the extremism of these two cabinet ministers? Because it's not just the presence of Smotrich and Ben-Gvir in the Israeli government, it is the policies that they are enforcing in the West Bank and in Israel, that are clearly inconsistent with the image Israel is portraying to the Western world at this crucial moment in Israel's existence that needs to be challenged.
Coming up next, I'm going to talk with the parents of an American man kidnapped and being held prisoner and hostage by the terrorists of Hamas.
TAPPER: The grandson of Holocaust survivors, 22-year-old Omer Neutra grew up on Long Island. He put off attending college to spend time in Israel. He eventually joined the Israel Defense Forces. He was serving as a tank commander when Hamas attacked on October 7th. His parents were notified days later by Israeli officials that their son had been taken hostage. Yesterday, they spoke in front of thousands in front of U.S. Capitol to play for his release.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ORNA NEUTRA, SON TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: There is power in showing him the same love and compassion. He has spent his young life showing everyone he meets. We all must use the power that we have to help bring Omer and all of the hostages home now.
RONEN NEUTRA, SON TAKEN HOSTAGE BY HAMAS: Bring them home. Bring them home.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: And Omer's parents Ronen and Orna Neutra join me now. Thank you both for being here. I'm sorry, it's under such horrible circumstances. First, I just want to note that the -- that Omer is the descendant of Holocaust survivors and related to people who perished in the Holocaust, which I'm just wondering, that connective tissue between that horror and this horror and thank God, Omer is alive but the deadliest day for Jews since the Holocaust, if you think about that at all.
O. NEUTRA: Yes, of course we do. I mean, Omer's decision to be a protector of Israel, and join the IDF stems a lot from his understanding of the nis -- that it's necessary to have a strong Jewish state. His grandparents on both sides were survivors of the Holocaust. And they luckily made their way to Israel, and were the founders of the country.
R. NEUTRA: Omer was born on -- in New York City, grew up on Long Island. But he always had the sense of this dual citizenship belonging and the knowledge that a lot of his family are in Israel. And they're all representing generations that had to have the independence of Israel, on their mind as a key factor for the Jewish people.
TAPPER: Yes. And this is -- people think about this as ancient history. Your grandmother, she lost nine of her brothers and sisters killed in the Holocaust.
R. NEUTRA: That's right.
TAPPER: This is not ancient history to a lot of people.
R. NEUTRA: It's not at all.
TAPPER: Yesterday, President Biden was asked if he had a message for families such as yours, and he said, hang in -- hang on. We're coming. You've been waiting now for 40 days. Is there anything you would say to President Biden, if you could?
R. NEUTRA: We definitely see his leadership. We definitely see his commitment and his administration. We like to see our kid and the rest of the hostages come back. We know that the U.S. government has an obligation to bring the American hostages back. We want to see it.
TAPPER: For people who can't understand what you're going through. And I don't think anybody can, except for people who have had loved ones as hostages. What is it like especially not knowing?
O. NEUTRA: We were trying to be patient, but it's been excruciating and exhausting. We don't know anything like Ronen said it's been 40 days. We don't know whether they're alive. We don't know if they're alive and what conditions they're being kept. If they're being tortured. It's unimaginable. It's hard to describe.
TAPPER: And you last spoke to your son, the night before October 7th. How did he sound that night?
O. NEUTRA: He actually sounded very relaxed. It was the end of a stretch of the Jewish holidays and they were working really hard to protect the border. There had been a lot of riots on the border and things throughout the holidays. And in the two days preceding, the events, it was kind of quiet. And this was a Friday night. So it was Shabbat in Israel. And we spoke to him seven hours behind New York time. And he sounded pretty relaxed. And he said, I'm really looking forward to a quiet weekend.
R. NEUTRA: As we were going to sleep, we started to see missiles going by on red alerts on our phones.
TAPPER: Oh, you have the -- you have the app.
R. NEUTRA: Yes, we're looking at the newspaper just before we go to sleep. And all of a sudden, we see that there is also a ground invasion. That's not something that happens. And we knew that our son is there. Immediately I call him, hey, Omer. What's going on? Are you OK? And we never heard back.
O. NEUTRA: He didn't answer. He didn't answer to our texts. I was -- as though -- of course, we didn't sleep that night. And as the hours went by, we realized that something really bad was happening, because he's usually very responsive.
TAPPER: What would you like people to know about Omer?
O. NEUTRA: Well, Omer was born in New York City. I was nine months pregnant with him on 9/11. So he just recently celebrated his 22nd birthday, he's in captivity. He's this big guy. Always a big smile. You know, happy and with a good sense of humor, and kind of naturally people attract to him, you know, they listen to him. He's always taking the extra step. He loves sports.
So he not only is a good athlete, but he wants to be the captain of the sports team. I was very involved in his youth group, and grew to be the regional president of New York area. And, you know, we're getting a million messages from people that were -- that knew him, that were impacted by him and how inclusive he was. And he made sure that everyone felt, you know, that they had a place and that they were seeing and all the events and all of that. So it's a really good guy.
R. NEUTRA: Like any American kid is interested in the NBA, the NFL, hip hop music, just normal, but he knows all the stats. We always said why do you care so much? He said, I love it. He meets all the numbers.
TAPPER: But we're going to keep covering the hostages. We're going to keep covering it. Keep making sure that the American people --
R. NEUTRA: We got to tell their stories.
R. NEUTRA: It's 40 days. It can take time, we understand. But we need them back.
TAPPER: We're going to keep focusing on it. And we'll keep praying for Omer. Thank you for being here. Really appreciate it.
R. NEUTRA: Thank you very much. TAPPER: Orna and Ronen Neutra, appreciate it.
R. NEUTRA: Thank you.
TAPPER: We'll be right back.
TAPPER: In our National Lead, crossing illegally into Texas from Mexico could become a state crime. A bill the Texas Governor Greg Abbott, a Republican, is expected to sign would give law enforcement in Texas the power to arrest in order migrants to leave the United States. A related bill devotes more than a billion dollars to build a border wall which according to state lawmakers would largely be paid for by the taxpayers of Texas there. CNN's Rosa Flores is in Houston. And Rosa, there are questions about the constitutionality of this legislation. Is it constitutional?
ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, Jake, 30 judges, 30 former immigration judges issued a statement saying, that this bill is unconstitutional, because immigration is a federal power. And these former judges point to a specific portion of this bill that gives the power to state judges to issue orders to remove individuals from the state of Texas. That's a really fancy way of saying giving them the power of deportation to deport individuals.
Now there's a real concern that this bill will lead to the racial profiling of Latinos in the state of Texas. Latinos make up 40 percent of the population of this state. And there's a real concern because this bill gives all law enforcement including local law enforcement, the ability, the power to enforce this bill, which gives them the power to arrest.
Now, this was one of the issues that was discussed heavily during debate for this bill. I want to take you inside the Texas House, take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. ANN JOHNSON (D-TX): Let's say Mary and I are walking together near the border. Are they going to look at her skin color versus mine and make a determination? Surely she needs to be investigated for potentially crossing?
REP. DAVID SPILLER (R-TX): Well, I think clearly the officers are going to make it, they're going to look at the entirety.
JOHNSON: Look, and this is not funny because my wife is Hispanic. And there is a difference when I'm driving a car. I see an officer and I wave. There is a difference for people. Chairman Wally said it. We don't live in their skin. (END VIDEO CLIP)
FLORES: And, Jake, the author of the bill maintains that this will not lead to racial profiling in the state of Texas. And as you know, Governor Abbott is expected to sign this bill.
TAPPER: How much would this cost taxpayers in Texas?
FLORES: That's a great question, Jake, because I listen to hours of testimony both on the House floor and the Senate floor and in House and Senate Committees. And that question was asked over and over of the author of this bill and multiple versions of this bill and they couldn't answer the question because the state of Texas right now lawmakers the author of this bill doesn't know -- doesn't have an estimation of the number of individuals who would be arrested under this bill.
Now there's several layers to the cost here, counties, county governments are very concerned about the cost of this bill because as you know, they run jails and they're worried about their already packed jails. And Jake, you know, that due process doesn't take just jails. They need judges. They need translators. They need other personnel within the justice system. And they're very worried including county governments, that this is going to be very expensive for the Texas taxpayer. Jake?
TAPPER: Rosa Flores in Houston, thank you.
Coming up in about 90 minutes, a news conference with President Biden, this right after his meeting today with Chinese President Xi Jinping with the White House now confirms they did discuss areas of difference. Keep it here on CNN for coverage. We'll be right back after this quick break.
TAPPER: In our Money Lead, attention shoppers, something to be thankful for this year, Thanksgiving should be a bit cheaper and you have the turkeys to thank for that. You could grab a whole bird for less than 30 bucks. That's you urinates down 5.6 percent from last year. Unfortunately things still are not as cheap as they were before the pandemic but at least some reprieve according to the USDA, Thanksgiving discounts could make some prices even lower.
Our coverage continues now with one Mr. Wolf Blitzer in The Situation Room. I will see you tomorrow. Have a good night.