Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

Biden, Xi Meet Face-To-Face In Attempt To Cool Tensions; Ceasefire Protests Turn Violent Outside DNC In Washington; Musk Says Truth That Jews Push Hatred Against Whites; NBA Team Owner Accused Of Threatening Pro-Palestinian Protesters; Univision Anchor Quits After Controversial Trump Interview; Pink Gives Away Banned Books To Fans In Her Concerts. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired November 15, 2023 - 22:00   ET




ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Face-to-face finally. The presidents of two superpowers play nice after a year of tough talk. That's tonight on Newsmight.

Good evening. I'm Abby Phillip in New York.

Tonight, what President Biden calls important progress between the United States and China, the specifics may seem small, but the American president calls the areas of agreement important on fentanyl, on keeping the phones open between militaries and on artificial intelligence.

Today, we watched carefully orchestrated diplomatic theater between these two superpowers, a handshake, a walk outside, a Hollywood mansion in Woodside, California, but the stakes are far more consequential than fiction, to take a tumultuous year and basically put it to the side.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: That you and I understand each other clearly leader to leader with no misconceptions or miscommunication. We have to ensure that competition does not veer into conflict.


PHILLIP: Just a short while ago at a rare press conference, the president called his discussions candid and straightforward. His tone was measured.


REPORTER: Would you say, Mr. President, that you trust President Xi?

BIDEN: Do I trust him? I trust but verify, as the old saying goes. That's where I am. I know the man, I know his modus operandi. He has been -- we have disagreements. He has a different view than I have on a lot of things, but he's been straight.


PHILLIP: Now, the president has always made sure to tell the public that he knows personally Xi Jinping.


BIDEN: I spent as much time with Xi Jinping as any world leader has.

I've spoken and spent time with Xi Jinping than any world leader has.

I probably spent more time with Xi Jinping, I'm told, than any world leader has because I had 24, 25 hours of private meetings with him when I was vice president, traveled 1,700 miles with him. I know him pretty well.

I know I'm coming in strong, but I don't need that. I know Xi Jinping. I've spent more time with him than any world leader. I know him well, he knows me. We have very little misunderstanding. We have just got to figure out where the red lines are and what are the most important things to each of us.


PHILLIP: But Biden has been clear, don't mistake their relationship history for a friendship.


BIDEN: Let's get something straight, we know each other well. We're not old friends. It's just pure business.


PHILLIP: Pure business.

Well, today was mostly about the rebuilding of the ABCs of how both the United States and China simply talked to each other. Xi made sure to say that Planet Earth is big enough for both Beijing and Washington, and it's notable because the president and the Chinese leader have spent the last year sounding like they're in the latest Top Gun movie. Flashback to July when President Biden said this to CNN's Fareed Zakaria about China's intentions.


FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST: Do you think he wants China to replace the United States as the leading power, the defining power?

BIDEN: Oh, yes, I think he does. I mean, I'm confident he wants to have the largest economy in the world and have the largest military capacity in the world. (END VIDEO CLIP)

PHILLIP: Or this from February after China flew a spy balloon over the continental United States and the American military shot it down.


BIDEN: I expect to be speaking with President Xi, and I hope we have -- we're going get to the bottom of this. But I make no apologies for taking down that balloon.


PHILLIP: Or this just last week, a campaign trail sounding promise to autoworkers in Illinois.


BIDEN: China has determined to dominate the electric vehicle market by using unfair trade practices, but I will not let them. I promise.


PHILLIP: That kind of talk was mostly absent today except for one moment when Biden responded to a shouted question with an answer that's guaranteed to get under Xi's skin.



REPORTER: Mr. President after today, would you still refer to President Xi as a dictator? This is a term that you used earlier this year.

BIDEN: Well, look, he is.


PHILLIP: And joining me now is Republican Candidate for President Vivek Ramaswamy. Mr. Ramaswamy, thanks for joining us tonight.


PHILLIP: And you tweeted earlier today that you wanted to see President Biden secure a commitment from China not to invade or to annex Taiwan. But you've previously suggested defending Taiwan from invasion is not something that you would commit to indefinitely. Is this a reversal from you?

RAMASWAMY: No. I have been crystal clear that I'm the only candidate that believes that strategic ambiguity is a mistake. The current policy of the U.S. government is to not state clearly whether the U.S. would or would not defend Taiwan. I think that's a mistake. And I have been very consistent on this, the correct policy is to say that we will defend Taiwan, at least until we have secured semiconductor independence in this country, at which point we can resume the current status quo of strategic ambiguity.

But I do want to say that I think China has been very strategic about when they've set up this meeting. Now when the U.S. is mired in wars in other parts of the world, like Ukraine, when there's war breaking and potentially in the Middle East, China then understands that there's a position of the leverage with the United States.

That's why I laid out if I was in that meeting, we'd be talking about accountability for COVID-19, we'd be talking about the same set of rules companies to play by with respect to data theft, intellectual property theft or otherwise. And I'm disappointed not to see those on the agenda in favor of climate-related agenda topics that Biden put on the agenda instead, and I think that's a mistake.

PHILLIP: Just to be clear, Mr. Ramaswamy, you said that when the United States achieves semiconductor independence, you would no longer care whether China invaded Taiwan, because you believe that that is the most important strategic interest.

RAMASWAMY: That's not true. I would say we'd resume our status quo of strategic ambiguity.

PHILLIP: Let's just play the sound bite so that our listeners can --



RAMASWAMY: We will defend Taiwan until we have semiconductor independence in this country, which is where I will lead us by the end of my first term in office. After which point our commitments, by definition, will and should change.


PHILLIP: So, what you're saying today actually is a little different. You're saying that the position of strategic -- you said in the quote we will defend Taiwan until -- until -- those are your words -- we have semiconductor independence. You've said that that will happen by the end of your first term, 2028. So, after that point, you said --

RAMASWAMY: At which point we'll resume strategic ambiguity.

PHILLIP: You said our commitments will change.

RAMASWAMY: Abby, I'm right here. I can tell you my view and it's the exact same thing I've said before. So, I don't know what kind of gotcha game you're trying to play, but we can get to the policy debate because it's actually pretty important on this subject. It's an important subject for the U.S.

Right now, the U.S. posture is strategic ambiguity. Both parties refuse to say whether the U.S. will defend Taiwan, so much so that you'll remember you all derided President Trump for even picking up a phone call from the Taiwanese president, for violating diplomatic protocol. I think that status quo is unacceptable. I think that the U.S. currently embraces the One China policy. So, that policy of strategic ambiguity now is not strong enough, so I would upgrade from that, be crystal clear that the U.S. will affirmatively defend Taiwan, something that no other politician is saying with clarity, until we achieve semiconductor independence, because we depend on Taiwan for those chips that power or modern way of life.

I don't want China having an economic gun to our head if they control that semiconductor supply chain. That will be a disaster for the U.S. So we will defend militarily. After we have achieved semiconductor independence, we resume the status quo of strategic ambiguity. Yes, that would be a change, a change now and a change later. And I think with that clarity, Xi Jinping would have to be foolish to invade Taiwan to sit on the semiconductor supply chain. That's how we advance principles that put our country first.

PHILLIP Just as a final point of clarity on this, once the United States achieves semiconductor independence, do you believe it will be in the United States' national interest to deter China from invading Taiwan?

RAMASWAMY: We will evaluate at that point in time. It will not be preferable for China to invade Taiwan even then.

PHILLIP: That's not an answer to my question.

RAMASWAMY: But we will then adopt what is our current --

PHILLIP: But you are not answering --

RAMASWAMY: Because that is in the future, Abby.

PHILLIP: You're not answering my question. Will it be in the United States' national interests to deter --


RAMASWAMY: Abby, do you actually know what strategic ambiguity means right now?

PHILLIP: I'm just asking you a simple question. Do you think that after --

RAMASWAMY: The current posture is strategic ambiguity.

PHILLIP: Mr. Ramaswamy, it's a yes or no answer.

RAMASWAMY: And I have a feeling you don't understand what that is.

PHILLIP: It's a yes or no answer.

RAMASWAMY: I'm happy to educate you if you're interested.

Strategic ambiguity will be what we resume. It's the current status quo, and that's what we will resume after we have achieved semiconductor independence. It's that simple. The status quo will be exactly what it obtains after we have achieved semiconductor independence.

And in the meantime, we have to be clear --

PHILLIP: A simple answer to that question would actually be a yes or no, but I do want to turn now to a different topic, to politics. Here's what your fellow Republican --

RAMASWAMY: The simple answer is geopolitics is a little more complicated than you're making it out to be, Abby. So, I'm happy to explain it to you if you're interested.

PHILLIP: Here's what your fellow Republican Nikki Haley said about you earlier today. Just listen.


NIKKI HALEY, REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What happens? He comes out of the gate. He hits the female chair of the party, he hits the female anchor on the platform, and then he hits me, and I'm not saying anything --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ain't saying I'm just --

HALEY: -- but he might have a girl problem. I'm just saying he might have a girl problem.


PHILLIP: Okay. She's laying out three different women that you've attacked. Why is she wrong?

RAMASWAMY: Well, she also left off that list Dick Cheney, Lindsey Graham, Karl Rove, John Bolton. The real issue there's an old neo-con wing of the Republican Party that I've been critical clear critical of. And what makes me crack up about Nikki Haley is that she claims to issue (ph) identity politics yet embraces it when it's convenient.

So, Yes, Ronna McDaniel, she's lost the last four elections after she took over as chairwoman of the RNC in 2017, and she lost in 2018 and 2020 and 2022 and 2023. I don't care if she's a man or woman. She deserves to be held accountable.

PHILLIP: Yes. But why don't you --

RAMASWAMY: If Nikki Haley came out of the U.N. in debt --

PHILLIP: But why don't you blame Donald Trump for that? He appointed Ronna McDaniel to that post. He's also, I think you would agree, the leader -- he's also the leader of the Republican Party when he was president. He claims to be the leader of the Republican Party right now.

RAMASWAMY: I'm ready to be the leader of the nation and leader of the Republican Party. My question is this, and, Abby, I have been on your show and others, I preached to the left crystal clear. I stand for meritocracy, the best person for the job. That's why I'm against affirmative action. Well, I can't preach that with good clarity if we're not practicing what we preach in the Republican Party itself.

So, is Ronna McDaniel the best qualified person to be leading the Republican Party on that record when her salary has tripled in the meantime? No, she's not, and I'm not going to apologize for that.

And I think it's a shame when those who claim to distance themselves from identity politics where identity politics when it's convenient for them. So, Kamala Harris probably isn't running for president. If you want to run in the party of identity politics, there might be a slot available there. But here, we're based in meritocracy, and I'm not going to apologized for that, man or woman, skin color, it doesn't matter. Speak the truth and we have to be willing to hold failure accountable. That's Kristen Welker and her lies that she's told about the Trump --

PHILLIP: Mr. Ramaswamy, I'm going to stop you right there because there's no reason to bring Kristen Welker into your dispute with Ronna McDaniel.

But I want you to listen to what Donald Trump said -- I want -- listen, I want you to you listen to --

RAMASWAMY: You literally paid tape of Nikki Haley talking about Kristen Welker, so I'm responding to the tape that you just played for your viewers.

PHILLIP: Well, the question that you were answering was about -- Mr. Ramaswamy, the question you were answering --

RAMASWAMY: The question I was answering was your allegation that somehow that there's a girl issue when she's talking about my statements about Ms. Welker.

PHILLIP: Are you going to let me finish that question or are you just going to continue talking?

I was asking you why you would blame Ronna McDaniel. She was appointed to her position by Donald Trump, the president at the time.

RAMASWAMY: She wasn't appointed by Donald Trump. She was elected by the chairpersons of the RNC.

PHILLIP: A lot of losses you blame her for happened under his watch and you won't blame him for that.

But putting that aside, Mr. Ramaswamy, just one final thing --

RAMASWAMY: 2018, 2020, 2022 and 2023. So, that spans multiple different administrations. I believe in facts, Abby.

PHILLIP: A final thing I want to ask you about before I let you go. Over the weekend, I just want to play this from what President Trump said to his supporters. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: We will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country. The threat from outside forces is far less sinister, dangerous and grave than the threat from within.


PHILLIP: That language, they live like vermin, do you believe that that is, as your Republican colleague Chris Christie has said, neo- Nazi rhetoric?


RAMASWAMY: This is a classic mainstream media move, pick some individual phrase of Donald Trump, focus on literally that word without actually interrogating the substance of what's at issue.

PHILLIP: The word was chosen for a reason.

RAMASWAMY: We're in a middle of a cultural war in this country. Well, you know what? It's actually describing a series of behaviors. You have Antifa and other related groups that have been burning down cities for the last three years in this country.

PHILLIP: Would you describe them as vermin?

RAMASWAMY: While they're violating the rule of law, we have an invasion on our southern border, we have millions of people crossing our southern border. Let's talk about the substance of why we have to recognize we're not in ordinary times.

So, the vocabulary of the vermin or not is not what's important.

PHILLIP: Would you use that language yourself?

RAMASWAMY: Well, I haven't used that language.

PHILLIP: So, would you?

RAMASWAMY: If you look at the track record on my campaign trail, I talk about the issues, we all talke about them differently. But what I'm not going to do is play some game of focusing on some word that somebody else said without ignoring entirely the substance of what we're actually talking about, a border crisis of historic proportion, economic stagnation we haven't seen in 50 years, a national identity crisis, and loss of national pride in the next generation that's potentially existential for this country.

Let's talk about our dependence on China today. We're actually talking about China's Xi Jinping. Picking on Donald Trump's word, vermin, to talk about that status quo. You know what's vermin? What's running around San Francisco on a given day before Gavin Newsom cleaned it up on a dime to roll up the red carpet for Xi Jinping. If he could do that for Xi Jinping, he could have done it on an ordinary day, and yet we're here sitting and talking not about the substance of that but on one word Donald Trump said in some speech in Miami.

This is what's wrong with the mainstream media. Focus on the substance and let's have an actual policy debate rather than talking to a presidential candidate instead of the policy substance of what's actually going on in the country. Picking on some word that Donald Trump said on a certain day and asking me for a comment, give me a break.

PHILLIP: Look, Mr. Ramaswamy, the former president is saying that people on the left live like vermin in this country. That's a pretty substantive thing, and the word choice was not accidental.

RAMASWAMY: Look at the way people are living in San Francisco normally.

PHILLIP: He chose it intentionally and repeated it in social media. And I think it's important for us to talk about. But we appreciate your time tonight. Thank you very much for joining us.

RAMASWAMY: I think it's important to talk about the substance of it. Thank you, Abby.

PHILLIP: And up next, a ceasefire protest turning violent tonight in Washington. I'll speak a lawmaker who was just evacuated from that building that you see there.

Plus, Elon Musk accused of anti-Semitism tonight over a post about whites and Jews. Kara Swisher and Cari Champion join me on that.

And critics say that the T.V. network Univision is shifting to the right after a controversial interview with former President Trump. We'll speak with the former Univision host about all of that.



PHILLIP: Tonight, a rally in Washington calling for a ceasefire in Gaza turning tense. Just take a look at this. It happened outside of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. And it looks like there hundreds of protesters in favor of a ceasefire pushing and shoving, coming face-to-face with U.S. Capitol Police and D.C. Metropolitan Police. Some members of Congress had to be evacuated from the building.

California Congressman Brad Sherman on X, which is formerly known as Twitter, that he was one of them and he joins me now. Congressman, thanks for joining me.

Can you tell us what happened when you were inside that building?

REP. BRAD SHERMAN (D-CA): Well, we were gathered together to meet candidates from all over the country that will be our candidates in swing districts. Our leadership was there, but they -- most of them had left, and there were many others there. We heard the demonstrators outside. They disrupted us a bit. And then we were told we were on lockdown and would not be allowed to leave, and then the police came in, the Capitol Police, who did an outstanding job, and evacuated us throughout the basement.

PHILLIP: And you said that there were members of leadership there. Which members were there and did they leave before the protesters turned violent?

SHERMAN: Hakeem Jeffries, Katherine Clark and Pete Aguilar, our three top leaders, were all there, of course, Suzan DelBene, the head of the DCCC. Also one of our top leaders was there at the -- when evacuation took place.

PHILLIP: We know that there were some arrests and the area is now open again. And Senator Schumer says there's going to be a vote tonight on the stopgap spending bill. How were you able to get out? And were you concerned at all for your safety as this was all going on?

SHERMAN: I have been doing this for 27 years. I don't get that concerned. Some other of my colleagues were much more concerned. We were evacuated in police vehicles to the Capitol and then went home from there.

The one point I want to make is, yesterday, there were over 2,000 pro- Israel demonstrators with a permit, entirely peaceful, and here you have a demonstration less than 1,000th as large that's also getting publicity. It's getting publicity because of their willingness to attack police, as they did with pepper spray, is a force multiplier, a few demonstrators willing to attack police, getting a fair amount of publicity, whereas the amount of publicity for 200,000 peaceful demonstrators, proportionately less.

PHILLIP: And I just want to make a note here that we don't know exactly who was responsible for the pepper spray, but as we continue to report on this story, we'll learn more.

Congressman Brad Sherman, I do thank you for joining us tonight.

SHERMAN: I believe the Capitol Police.

PHILLIP: All right. Thank you.

And tonight, Elon Musk is under fire after apparently signing on to an anti-Semitic racist rant on X, formerly known as Twitter. We've got Kara Swisher and Cari Champion with us next to discuss that.



PHILLIP: Elon Musk is once again making headlines for all the wrong reasons, Musk cosigning on an anti-Semitic and racist rant by a user on X, formerly known as Twitter. Now, this post accused western Jews of supporting, quote, hordes of minorities who essentially hate white people. Musk responding by replying to the post and saying, you have said the actual truth.

Now, here with me to discuss this is CNN's Contributors Cari Champion and Kara Swisher.

Kara, starting with you here, look, Musk calls himself a free speech absolutist, but the problem is that this is not the first time that he's actually used his own platform to amplify these hate messages. When is this going to actually have an impact? I mean, this is a business after all.

KARA SWISHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, it is having an impact. And I'm sure Linda -- the woman that --

PHILLIP: Yaccarino, yes.

SWISHER: Yaccarino, sorry, is having trouble right now dealing with advertisers. She's been going around trying to get more ads and trying to improve business, and then he does this all the time. He can't seem to help himself. And that's the issue, is he can't stop.

Now, sometimes people misspeak online, sometimes they make mistakes. Look, everyone is a little bit emotional and people have said stupid things or gotten overawed, et cetera, and that makes sense given the stakes that are happening here and the difficulties of watching a lot of this.


But in this case, it's a consistent behavior of him to do this and not just for a short time and then everybody's surprised that he does it. And so I don't know what to say is this is what he likes to do.

He wants to create controversy. He wants to create attention to himself. He's an attention sponge and he's saying sort of reprehensible things, especially in replies. That's where he does it. So he gets in less trouble, but everybody sees it.

PHILLIP: Everybody sees it. I mean, the other thing is, you talked about everybody being really overwrought or whatever. This is sort of pouring gasoline on a really hot fire right now. And the role of social media in whipping up anger in this particular story on the Israel-Hamas war is really a big part of this. I mean, do you think that, you know, Twitter or X or whatever right now is indifferent to its role in, you know, hyping up these kinds of rivalries on both sides.

SWISHER: I think anything that calls attention to him is what he wants to do. I don't think he differentiates between declaring a fight with Mark Zuckerberg and this. It's any kind of attention he can get. He's always in a permanent state of grievance. It's always about him. This has nothing to do with Elon Musk, but what he's doing is promoting hate.

And there is a difference between free speech and speech designed to hurt people. And this is precisely that, just like he did, you know, Paul Pelosi's trials going on in San Francisco around his attack, and he ginned up a fake conspiracy theory right after this poor man was beaten with a hammer.

He just wants attention, and he doesn't care how he gets it.

PHILLIP: And Cari, some of this has spilled into the sports world right now. You know, a civil rights group is calling for the suspension of Cleveland Cavaliers minority owner Gary Gilbert after he sent threatening messages to a pro-Palestinian group that was calling for a protest.

Here's what he wrote on Instagram. We will be armed and ready for you cowardly punks this Wednesday. He also wrote, we're armed and ready for you punks and we don't have any ounce of fear. He said these messages have been misconstrued, but man, what is the NBA gonna do about this, Cari?

CARI CHAMPION, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: You know, it's interesting that you bring that up because the NBA has a zero-tolerance policy. They have referred to issues such as hate groups or people. promoting hate is something that cannot be a part of their fraternity. In 2014, they made Donald Sterling sell the Clippers because of behavior that he said he didn't like black people and he didn't wanna be around them.

Most recently, Robert Sarver, who owned the Phoenix Suns, was also unfortunately forced to sell the Phoenix Suns because of his racist remarks and misogyny in the workplace. So there is precedent for the ADC to do this. However, the difference is -- is that Gary Gilbert is a minority owner. He doesn't really have, as the Cleveland Cavaliers have said today, a major role within the company. His brother, Dan Gilbert, owns the franchise.

So I do believe that the NBA will address this. I think they will take their time in response. But I also know that Adam Silver, the commissioner, has been very clear that there is no room for that in the NBA. And now the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves answering for just an Instagram post that a minority owner felt like he wanted to share because he was very emotional, understandably.

PHILLIP: And look, I mean, sports is typically a place where people try to go to kind of escape maybe the news of the day, escape the tensions and the infighting. But this is a story that has boiled into even that space. I mean, does that surprise you, Cari?

CHAMPION: You know, Abby, I would like to say that it does, but it doesn't. The intersection is so fragile. I think the common denominator is that because we're all humans and we all feel and we all want and we can't separate the two, not in this day and age, we can't separate the two.

I think the problem here is that most people use social platforms to express themselves. And this topic, while being so nuanced, isn't a place for however many characters or an emoji or an emotional outburst. And so no matter how right you feel you are in what you have to say, these conversations need time, they need to be massaged. And we're seeing extreme forms of people trying to express with their righteousness, if you will, on a platform that just doesn't allow for that.

PHILLIP: Yeah, I mean, social media has actually been such a toxic force in these conversations around something that is really complex and people shouldn't shy away from that. Cari Champion and Kara Swisher, great to have both of you on. Thank you.

CHAMPION: Abby, thank you.

PHILLIP: And TV network Univision is now under fire for a controversial interview with Donald Trump. I'll speak with a former anchor of that network next.



PHILLIP: Tonight, a major shakeup at one of the country's biggest Spanish-language media companies, Univision anchor Leon Krauze, among the most prominent voices in the U.S.-Latino community, abruptly announcing his exit from the company today. His departure comes just days after Univision's controversial interview with former President Donald Trump and a "Washington Post" article that revealed behind-the- scenes details about the network's shift on how it covers Trump.

Now, Krauze stressed in a social media post that his commitment to journalism that amplifies the voices and illuminates the stories of those who go unheard and unseen continues. And in a statement, the company thanked Krause for his service but did not divulge further details about the reason for his departure.


And joining me now is Maria Celeste Arraras, former anchor for Univision and Telemundo. Maria, thank you so much for being here. There's so much going on here, it seems, with this Univision situation. First, there's Trump's controversial interview, and then there is this high-profile exit of a top anchor. What do you think is going on?

MARIA CELESTE ARRARAS, CNN HOST: Well, there's a lot going on, as you said, Abby. Thank you for inviting me. I think this interview with Donald Trump a few days ago was a missed golden opportunity. I think the interview was sugar-coated. I think there were a lot of questions that needed to be asked that weren't asked.

And considering the fact that Donald Trump has not given any recent interviews and he has not been in any debates, this was an opportunity to ask many questions, especially questions that Hispanics needed to have the answers for.

That didn't happen and I think during the interview there were several assertions that were false that needed to be heavily challenged because there's ample evidence to prove the contrary and that didn't happen. And the question is why, and there's you know, there's this New situation in which Televisa which is a very powerful mega media company from Mexico has now great influence in Univision, which is a number one Hispanic television network and it helps shape the perception of the viewers and perception, as you will know, turns to turning to reality eventually. PHILLIP: So Televisa, as you just pointed out, and Univision merged in

2021, Trump also hosted several of the Univision executives at Mar-a- Lago during this hour-long interview. But one of the things that Democrats are pointing out are a couple of facts that have come out in the reporting, which is that Univision ad reps canceled Biden's campaign spots that were purchased to run during Trump's interview.

They said it's because they have a rule now against airing campaign ads during interviews like this. But do you think that there is an effort by Univision executives to get cozy with Trump? Is that what is causing this shift in what seems to be a shift, I should say, in the network's posture?

ARRARAS: Honestly, it seems to be that way. First of all, I think it's very unusual to have an interview with a former president and have the executive of your company present a few steps away. I cannot imagine the stress that this reporter, which is a good reporter, must have been through under those circumstances, knowing that, you know, Trump is buddy-buddy with his bosses and the bosses are especially good friends with the son-in-law.

And, you know, very few people can stand up to that. You know, there were several instances in which the reporter was smiling every time that Trump answered a question. I don't think that's correct. You know, I've conducted many interviews with former presidential candidates, and that's one thing that you don't do, because it seems like you agree with what they're saying, even if you don't. But, you know, it gives way to be misinterpreted.

And you know, what people have to understand is that Televisa and these executives, you are very powerful in Mexico. They're the biggest, they're a mega media giant which for decades influenced the programming to favor their political, you know, cronies and friends. And it had a lot of benefits in return because of that philosophy.

And what we don't want is to have a mega media company from another country influencing our due electoral process of electing a president. And that's something that we should be very worried about.

PHILLIP: That's interesting. And you're not the first person to sort of raise Televisa's reputation back in Mexico. But one other scenario here, though, is just the sheer politics of it all and the business of it all, even. There's a new CNN poll that shows that the former president only trails Biden by four points among Hispanic voters.

I think we all have seen Trump trying to gain inroads with Hispanic voters. Are Univision executives looking at that and saying, well, some of our viewers might be Trump fans, and maybe the network needs to make a shift? Do you think some of this is also just about politics and perhaps public opinion?

ARRARAS: No, I don't think so. I've been in both networks, as you well said, and I have worked for the networks and the command at all times when you're in the newsroom is you have to be objective, you have to be, you know, conscious of, you know, that you have to be in the middle and be very factual about things. However, when you have, like I said, a mega media company from Mexico,

who is used to do this kind of, you know, exert this kind of undue influence in their viewers through their programming.


The danger is that they try to do the same here. I mean, there's a reason why the FCC has always been so cautious about, you know, media company mergers, especially with one so powerful as Televisa, to make sure that they don't have undue influence in the American electorate.

PHILLIP: It is a very serious, I think, allegation and the questions that it raises. Maria, before you go, I want to ask you about one more thing. This week, Texas Governor Greg Abbott is expected to sign an immigration bill that would make illegal border crossings in that state a crime. It would also give local law enforcement the authority to arrest and deport migrants. Now, civil rights organizations are warning that this could lead to racial profiling. What impact do you think that this will have on that state where Latinos make up 40 percent of the population?

ARRARAS: Well, first of all, Abby, I think that there is a real problem in the border and action needs to be taken, but everything that happens in the border is going to be controversial, no matter what. And there's a lot of Latinos in Texas that agree with these kind of very strong laws, contrary to what most people would think.

However, the danger with this law that you just mentioned is very simple. It's allowing law enforcement at the local and state level to arrest people that they suspect, keyword suspect, to be migrants that have crossed the border illegally. And that's where the danger comes because suspecting is very subjective and can lead to, as you said, racial profiling of people that live in Texas, people that are going about their own business and may get into a lot of trouble while it gets, you know, sorted out just because they have brown skin, just to give you an example.

And also, what worries me is that this law does not contemplate funding anything for the education of the agents or making sure that they have knowledge of the immigration laws so that there's no issues that can affect an arrest. And you know how all the things that we've seen in the media throughout the years concerning, you know, law enforcement and immigration and migrants. So, you know, those are concerns that need to be raised and we're going to keep an eye on them.

PHILLIP: Yeah, we'll certainly keep an eye on this story. It's a very important one. Maria Celeste Arraras, thank you so much for joining us.

ARRARAS: Sure. Thank you so much, Abby. Good night.

PHILLIP: And pop singer Pink handing out thousands of banned books at her Florida concerts. CNN is at tonight's concert and we'll have the scene next.




PHILLIP: At tonight's Pink concert in Sunrise, Florida, fans are getting more than a huge concert with the high-flying pop star, Pink, is also giving away 2,000 banned books in partnership with the literacy and free expression group Pen America. She told her fans on Instagram why.


PINK, SINGER: I'm a voracious reader and I'm a mom of two kids who are also voracious readers. And I can't imagine my own parents telling me what my kids can and cannot read, let alone someone else's parents, let alone someone else that doesn't even have children that are deciding what my children can read.


PHILLIP: CNN's Carlos Suarez is outside of the Pink Concert at the Amarant Bank Arena. Carlos, tell us what it was like there earlier today.

CARLOS SUAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Abby, under a torrential downpour here in South Florida, all of the fans that we spoke to tonight told us they were excited to see Pink perform and they were excited to pick up some of these books that have been restricted or removed from school libraries across the state of Florida.

Pink gave away thousands of these books at both of hers -- both of her shows here in South Florida. Now, one of those books that were handed out here earlier tonight, was by Amanda Gorman, "The Hill We Climb." That is the poem that she read at Joe Biden's inauguration.

Now, earlier this year, that book -- access to that book was restricted at a school down in Miami-Dade County after a single parent, one parent complained that the poem had no educational value, had some hateful messages, and was indoctrinating students.

Now, Abby, at the time, when I reported on this story, I spoke to the parent, who made that complaint and she all but admitted to me that she had not read Amanda Gorman's book. She couldn't point to a part of the poem that she found the troubling and she really couldn't explain why she thought the book had been authored by Oprah Winfrey.

Now school districts across the state of Florida have been dealing with this issue for some time after a new state law went into effect banning the discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in the classroom. Supporters of these parental rights say that the law allows them to challenge these books and that a lot of these book titles, and we're talking about hundreds of them at this point, really are not age appropriate.

But critics of these book bans essentially say, look, this is really about silencing brown and black authors as well as authors from the LGBTQ-plus community.


Here now are some of the fans that we caught up with earlier tonight on the broader message out here.


TIFFANY MCCORMICK, PICKED UP BOOKS: One of the things I've heard her say is that when you have a platform this big, you have to be responsible with the message that you carry. So it's amazing to have someone like her always stay and support people like us.

TIFFANY BARONE, Reading is the best thing you can do, and I think this is just phenomenal what Pink is doing.

JODI CRESPI, PICKED UP BOOKS: Good for her for allowing the fans to represent, and I'm giving this to my grandkids. They should learn that everybody should be accepted.


SUAREZ: And so the concert is just wrapping up and Abby, 1,000 books were handed out here tonight and another 1,000 were given out at Pink's concert down in Miami. Abby?

PHILLIP: Well, so interesting. And you see they're young and old, picking up books and enjoying the Pink concert. Interesting decision from Pink and really great night for the people who get to take home a ton of books. Carlos Suarez, thank you so much for staying out in the rainforest.

And just into CNN, we have a new statement from U.S. Capitol Police giving an update on those tense protests we just told you about in Washington, D.C. in a statement that they say six officers were injured during that protest that you see there, including being pepper sprayed and being punched. We'll be right back.