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CNN NewsNight with Abby Phillip

White House Condemns Protest At Israeli Restaurant In Philadelphia; Trump, Indicted For Anti-Democracy Plots, Projects On Biden; Former House Speaker Issues A Warning To Moderate Republicans On The Biden Impeachment Deal; COP28 President Pronouncement On Fossil Fuel Ban Has No Scientific Evidence; Sylvester Stallone Wows A Nine- Year Old Kid Doing Rocky's Monologue. Aired 10-11p ET

Aired December 04, 2023 - 22:00   ET



ABBY PHILLIP, CNN HOST: Does the left have an anti-Semitism problem? That's tonight on Newsnight.

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

In a moment, a CNN exclusive, my wide-ranging interview with Pennsylvania Senator John Fetterman.

But first tonight, a mob marches through the heart of Fetterman's home state to send a message, Jews are not welcome. The protesters in Philadelphia veered from the political straight to the anti-Semitic when they swarmed Goldie.

That's a kosher restaurant owned by an American Israeli chef, Michael Solomonov. Pennsylvania's governor says that the motive here is clear.


GOV. JOSH SHAPIRO (R-PA): What we saw last night was not peaceful protest. What we saw last night, in my opinion, was blatant anti- Semitism.

The purposeful gathering of a mob outside of a restaurant simply because it is owned by a Jewish person? Well, that's anti-Semitism, plain and simple.


PHILLIP: Now, Governor Shapiro said the protests like this have a parallel, Kristallnacht, the Nazi riot that targeted Jewish businesses in 1938 and was a harbinger of the Holocaust that then exterminated millions of Jews.

The Goldies episode is just the latest in incidents like this of naked anti-Semitism across the country. In Gainesville, Florida, a Chabad Center in the University of Florida's campus, it was covered in anti- Semitic graffiti. Over in Brooklyn, Ohio, vandals painted red swastikas on graves in a Jewish cemetery. And on Friday night, right here on this show, we interviewed Congressman Adam Smith, whose home was marred by pro-Palestinian vandals.

Now, peaceful protests, even passionate protests, is an American right. But Smith told us that he sees an overlap between these tactics and that of another group.


REP. ADAM SMITH (D-WA): These are the same tactics that we saw in the most extreme form on January 6th.

These tactics are not accidental. They are an attempt to intimidate people into silence, an attempt to overthrow democratic norms.


PHILLIP: Today, there is outrage in some corners of the Democratic Party because of what some on the left won't do without hesitation, apparently, and that is condemn Hamas without then immediately mentioning Israel.

Listen to this exchange, for example, this Sunday between CNN's Dana Bash and Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: You said -- have you talked about it since October 7th?

REP. PRAMILA JAYAPAL (D-WA): Oh absolutely, and I've condemned what Hamas has done I've condemned all of the actions.

BASH: Specifically against women?

JAYAPAL: Absolutely, the rape -- of course.

But I think we have to remember that Israel is a democracy. That is why they are a strong ally of ours. And if they do not comply with international humanitarian law they are bringing themselves to a place that makes it much more difficult strategically for them to be able to build the kinds of allies to keep public opinion with them.

BASH: With respect, I was just asking about the women, and you turned it back to Israel. I'm asking you about Hamas. In fact --

JAYAPAL: I already answered your question, Dana. I said it's horrific.


PHILLIP: Now, it's Jayapal's own colleagues who say that what the Washington Democrat is seeing there gives both sides to sexual violence, at least when those victims are Israeli.

It's a chilling thought only exceeded by the reality of what Hamas actually did to these women and girls on October 7th. Hamas doesn't want the world to know what it did and how depraved their actions were. According to the State Department, it may be part of the reason why last week's fragile truths ultimately fell apart.


MATT MILLER, SPOKESPERSON, STATE DEPARTMENT: The fact that it seems one of the reasons they don't want to turn women over that they've been holding hostage and the reason this pause fell apart is they don't want those women to be able to talk about what happened to them during their time in custody.


PHILLIP: Tonight, CNN is telling some of those awful, awful stories and you're about to hear from a paramedic who talked to our own Jake Tapper and described in explicit, very difficult to hear terms what he saw.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: One is lying on the floor, one is lying on the bed. One on the floor, she's lying on her stomach. Her pants are pulled down towards her knees and there's a bullet wound on her -- the backside of her neck near her head and there's a puddle of blood around her head and there's remains of semen on the lower part of her back.



PHILLIP: Joining me now from Washington is the Democratic senator from Pennsylvania, John Fetterman. Senator, thank you for joining us tonight.

What is your reaction to the emergence of this anti-Semitic rally in the middle of Philadelphia?

SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): It's appalling. It's appalling. I mean, this is certainly not the first kind of episode of anti-Semitism here, and it's just run amuck. And I've spoken to a lot of different people from the Jewish community across Pennsylvania, and they are horrified, and they are actually feeling unsafe.

And now you have a mob attacking a Jewish restaurant in the middle of the afternoon in downtown Philadelphia. It's unacceptable.

PHILLIP: Senator, on a on a related note your colleague in the House, Congresswoman Pamela Jayapal, she was asked about the pervasive sexual violence that we have learned about that happened on October 7th committed by Hamas terrorists, and she deflected basically and talked about how Israel is fighting this war. I don't know if you were able to see her answer to that question, but did you think it was appropriate?

FETTERMAN: Well, I saw that and I certainly have a lot of respect for my colleague in the House. But we also -- I do believe it's important that we call it what it was. They systematically used rape as part of their war and they terrorized and brutalized Israeli women and especially young girls and raped them. And then after that, they actually would shoot them in the back of their head.

And I have a 12-year-old daughter, and those are the kinds of victims here in October 7th. And we got to call it out and we have to acknowledge that. And if why you wouldn't want to protest that versus attacking a Jewish restaurant, it's part of the point that I made on Twitter.

PHILLIP: In your party, on the left, this is something that it seems like people are really struggling with on the left. Is there a problem here? Does the left have a problem with anti-Semitism in its ranks?

FETTERMAN: Again, I don't speak for anybody in the Senate and certainly not in the House. I only speak to myself. And I've been very clear on what side I'm at as well too. And I absolutely do acknowledge that we must acknowledge the incredible loss of innocent life in Palestine as well.

And I've met with statewide Palestinian and Muslim and Arab communities all across Pennsylvania. They've all been incredibly thoughtful conversations as well too. And I agree we must have those kind of conversations and take those into account.

But I also believe that Israel has the right and they actually should destroy Hamas because that really is -- excuse me, Hamas is an anathema to peace and a true two-state solution.

PHILLIP: I do want to talk about exactly that because I mean we're talking here about how the protests are being carried out in the United States but there are some real questions about what's happening on the ground in Gaza, about the really extraordinary civilian death toll that has happened as a result of this war.

Do you believe that anything that Israel has done in these six weeks of fighting has amounted to a war crime?

FETTERMAN: Of course not. Of course not. And it's like -- let's not forget what Hamas started. They brought the first ceasefire and then they attacked Israel and murdered over 1,200 innocent women, children, babies, everything, and brutalized it in the most unspeakable kinds of ways.

And so that really is the ultimate criminal war kinds of -- this is absolutely an unequivocal attack to destroy Israel. And we must remember that that's how started all of this.

PHILLIP: But are you comfortable, Senator, with the number of Palestinians who have lost their lives, 7,000 children, 15,000 or 16,000 civilians dead? Do you believe Israel is doing enough to minimize civilian casualties?

FETTERMAN: You know, one death is too many. It's tragic. I don't value any Palestinian child life any more than -- or any less than my own child as well too. It's heartbreaking and it's awful. But I do fundamentally believe that Israel must destroy Hamas to achieve long- changing conditions that allow for peace to prosper.

PHILLIP: Quickly on the issue of Ukraine and other major conflict unfolding right now, funding is up in the air in the Congress and The Economist just a couple days ago ran this headline. Putin seems to be winning the war.


Do you think that Russia is now winning in Ukraine?

FETTERMAN: Well, I don't necessarily believe that Putin is winning. And if you mean my winning, meaning that he's had 300,000 to 400,000 soldiers killed, and Ukraine has fought back bravely. And I do believe that we absolutely have to step and stand with Ukraine. And I can never understand why my Republican colleagues in the Senate are trying to torpedo that.

And I must -- everybody, at least my own vote, is going to stand on the side of Israel and Ukraine, because both nations are in the kind of fight against these kind of evil nations. And we must be standing with our friends that stand with democracy, that stand with the kind of our values.

PHILLIP: I want to ask you now about something you've been pretty vocal about. This is your colleague in the Senate, New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez. Your team actually put out this video today, a Cameo of George Santos --

FETTERMAN: Oh, no. Oh, no.

PHILLIP: -- Sending a message to Bob Menendez.


REP. GEORGE SANTOS (R-NY): Hey, Bobby. Look, I don't think I need to tell you, but these people that want to make you get in trouble and want to kick you out and make you run away, you make them put up or shut up. You stand your ground, sir, and don't get bogged down by all the haters out there.

Stay strong, Merry Christmas.


PHILLIP: If Democrats don't expel him from the Senate, as you've been calling for, is your party forfeiting the moral high ground here when it comes to corruption?

FETTERMAN: I don't know. It's really strange to me. I'm not anti- Santos. I mean, it's just like, of course, he's done some really bizarre kind of lying and everything. But if you expel somebody like George Santos, how can you allow somebody like Senator Menendez remain in the Senate as well too? Because I promise you that one of the maim major differences between former Representative Santos and Senator Menendez is $300 million of munitions with Egypt as well too. And Santos has never accused of being a foreign agent as well.

There's a lot more serious kinds of issues here. And we really need to expel Menendez in order just to be fair.

PHILLIP: What was the idea behind getting Santos to do that Cameo?

FETTERMAN: Oh, I don't know. I don't know. We had so much fun during our campaign with Dr. Oz. It's ironic that now both of them seem to be around New Jersey. But, yes.

PHILLIP: Right. Senator Fetterman, stand by for me. I want to ask you about the presidential race and also about a possible second Trump term.

Plus, as the former president attacks Obamacare on the campaign trail, again, there is something that he should keep in mind.

And a former Republican House speaker warning moderate Republicans about voting against a Biden impeachment inquiry.



PHILLIP: In psychology, Sigmund Freud first coined a projection for when someone puts their feelings or impulses or insecurities onto someone else to avoid confronting or answering for them. It's a, quote, defense mechanism, attributing one's own unacceptable urges to another.

Now, since 2015, it's been common for Donald Trump to project onto others, especially his opponents. Now, he's done it with everything, from classified documents, to Ukraine, to Vladimir Putin, and Trump's 2024 campaign now is no different.

Here's how he's responding to accusations that he's the undemocratic candidate.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Joe Biden is not the defender of American democracy. Joe Biden is the destroyer of American democracy.


PHILLIP: Remember, Donald Trump is facing 4 indictments and 91 felony counts, some of which actually accused him of acting against American democracy. And it's also worth noting that when I spoke with one of the handful of former Trump cabinet members to actually support a second Trump term, this is what happened.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) PHILLIP: As someone who's endorsed him, can you point to anything that Donald Trump has done to defend American democracy?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't point to anything that he has done that is a threat to democracy.


PHILLIP: Now, in this next example, Donald Trump still, still does not have a health care plan. And so he's starting to project the lack of a plan onto Democrats, once again, vowing to repeal Obamacare. But remember, the last campaign, he also made the same promise in the same vague ways.


TRUMP: I will ask Congress to convene a special session so we can repeal and replace.

We're going to have a health care plan that's going to be second to none.

We have two plans coming out.

Coming out in a very short period of time.

A plan is coming out over the next four weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you tell me what the plan is?

TRUMP: Yes. Well, we'll be announcing that in about two months, maybe less.

It might be Sunday, but it's going to be very soon.


PHILLIP: It's been some years since some of those clips and still nothing, no plan, no proposal for Obamacare, and yet now the numbers show that Obamacare may even be more popular than ever. So, what exactly do the polls say?

CNN's Senior Data Reporter Harry Enten is here with me at the wall with more.

So, Harry, it used to be that Obamacare was like a political slur. Now what?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA REPORTER: Yes. You know, let's just take a look at a mini timeline, go back -- not all the way back, we'll go back when Trump was first elected, views on the Affordable Care Act.


Look at this, more voters viewed it negatively than positive. During that skinny repeal replace, remember that, that whole idea back in July of 2017, all of a sudden you started seeing the views shift a little bit, 50 percent positive.

Look at where we were in the last KFFF poll. Look at that, 59 percent positive versus just 40, just 40 percent negative. The views have shifted tremendously. The Affordable Care Act is about as popular as ever, Abby.

PHILLIP: Yes, and Democrats know it. I mean, how have they been using this to their advantage?

ENTEN: Yes. So, take a look at this party trust on this. Which party is trusted more on the affordable health care? Look at this, 19-point edge for Democrats. They would much rather be playing the 2024 campaign on health care than, say, on inflation rising costs. Look at that, where the GOP has a plus nine point advantage over the Democrats. This is where they want to be playing.

Democrats love this idea of Trump going after the Affordable Care Act, because the fact is they are far more trust on it than Republicans are.

PHILLIP: Yes. And, look, it was not always like this. Back in 2012 when Obama was running for re-election, it was potentially a liability. But will it be possible now -- here we are, it's going to be 2024 -- for this to be a political asset, again, for Democrats?

ENTEN: Yes. I think this is the question. Take a look at the most important issue for presidential candidates to talk about. The vast majority or the vast plurality of Americans say inflation. Look where healthcare is. It's down here at just 8 percent. So I think the real question, Abby, is can Democrats, in fact, get that healthcare boost up? They would much rather be that than inflation, because, again, look here, that 19 point edge Democrats have in healthcare versus that GOP plus nine point edge on inflation. And that right now is the most important issue. And that's part of the reason right now why Donald Trump is ahead.

PHILLIP: But also, by the way, it also explains why so many Republicans are scratching their head, like, why is he talking about this, because this is the most important issue to voters? In these midterm cycles, what have we seen about how healthcare has worked for Democrats in tough midterm cycles when they're not expected necessarily to do well?

ENTEN: Yes. I mean, I'll also tell you, Abby, I'm scratching my head. I don't know what the heck he's doing. I look at the polls, folks. I have no idea what he's doing. And you go back to 2018, remember, health care was the most important issue for 41 percent of voters. Democrats won this group by 52 points. This is where Democrats want to play. They don't want to be playing on inflation.

What Donald Trump right now is doing is political malpractice, in my mind, looking at the polls. Democrats are saying, please, please, please, please, let's talk about this because it's worked for them in the past. We'll see if it works for them, come 2024.

PHILLIP: And, of course, this was in the wake of Trump attempting to repeal Obamacare, but having no replacement, which did not ultimately work. Harry?

ENTEN: You'd think he'd learn his lesson, but apparently not.

PHILLIP: Apparently not. Good to have you here on the show. Thank you.

I want to now bring back in Senator Fetterman on, in a moment. But first today, a startling warning from former Congresswoman Liz Cheney about what happens if Donald Trump convinces Americans to put him right back into the White House.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you believe if Donald Trump were elected next year that he would try to stay in office beyond a second term, that he would never leave office?

FMR. REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): There's no question.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you think he would try to stay in power forever?

CHENEY: Absolutely.


PHILLIP: This could very well be a rematch between President Biden and Donald Trump.

Lots of questions now about what a second Donald Trump term would look like. Do you think that democracy will survive a second Trump term?

FETTERMAN: Gosh, I sure hope so. And I'll certainly be, if God forbid, if that does happen in the second term of Trump, I'll absolutely be using my platform and my position to fight back and push back against that, just as I did as lieutenant governor of Pennsylvania when they were lying and trying to malign our elections in Pennsylvania back in 2020.

But I don't believe we're going to have to face that. I really do fundamentally think that Joe Biden will absolutely win, and he'll definitely going to win in Pennsylvania. And I do believe anyone who wins Pennsylvania is going to be the next president as well too. And I'll make this call right here on this network that Joe Biden will absolutely win Pennsylvania. Trump cannot win Pennsylvania if President Biden is on the ballot.

PHILLIP: One of your colleagues in the House, Dean Phillips, disagrees with that. He has said he believes Joe Biden is the only Democrat Who's capable of losing to Trump in large part because he's 81 There's no part of you that's concerned that 81 is simply too old to perform the duties of president of the United States?


FETTERMAN: I don't know. I don't know if the gelato guy is really the expert, you know. And, you know, if you're really going to talk about age, you know, I think the president is rounding the bases on 78 and probably, what is he, maybe 265, 270, 275 in terms of health, pounds. So, I don't know. My money is going to go on Joe Biden and I think he is going to have a second term here as the president.

PHILLIP: But aren't you concerned by the polls that show other Republicans, if the nominee is not Trump even, beating President Biden? Does that concern you at all?

FETTERMAN: I'm not worried about those polls. Thankfully, the election is almost a year away. You know, the polls right in front of my election said that I was -- they called me as losing by two or three points to Dr. Oz. And we actually beat the brakes off them by five points.

So, I don't really put it much in the polls, but I do put everything into President Biden. I'm proud of him, he's done an amazing job as president, especially now the way he has handled the situation here in Israel. And I can't imagine what this would be going if Trump was actually the president in this kind of circumstances. And I'm proud to stand with him.

Truthfully, I want to add one more thing. I will never understand why any Democrats now are saying or being negative about President Biden. Again, I don't understand anything other than you want to help Trump win the presidency. And if you're going to say those kind of negative things, just write a check for Donald Trump. It will just be a lot easier.

PHILLIP: So, the White House is on the economy tried to coin the term Bidenomics, but the reporting is that right now House Democrats have basically abandoned that term, even though we should acknowledge the deep GDP report recently shows a 5 percent growth. Do you think that the term itself, Bidenomics, is not working for voters?

FETTERMAN: Again, I am president of Joe Biden and he's also addressed inflation. When you talk about how many millions of new jobs during his time, and he is gone through the pandemic, and he's handled now with Israel and all these other issues as well, too. He's done an amazing job and he's also a really tough guy.

You know, I've had an incredibly difficult race in 2022, and that put me to the wall. You know, but now he survived in 2020, and even after all those things, that incredible crucible, and, again, I genuinely admire him and he is going to win in this.

And, again, I am very proud to standing with him, just as I was proud to stand with him during my campaign in '22. People were saying, well, he's not popular. You should back away. And I'm like, absolutely not. In Pennsylvania, I'm proud to stand with the president.

PHILLIP: A final word on this, Senator. House Speaker Mike Johnson has said that Republicans have a duty to bring an impeachment vote to the floor. That would be an impeachment vote against President Biden. What is your response to the speaker?

FETTERMAN: Oh no, please. Please don't impeach him. Oh my God, that bad, bad man. Yes, it is so scary. Oh no. But whatever a weirdo says about that, it is like, go ahead.

PHILLIP: And you still think, ultimately, nothing will be found?

FETTERMAN: I don't. I don't.

PHILLIP: All right. Senator John Fetterman, thank you very much for joining us on all of that.

FETTERMAN: Thank you.

PHILLIP: And a warning from a prominent Republican over a potential Biden impeachment vote. Newt Gingrich says that if moderate House Republicans don't get in line, there will be a price to pay. We'll discuss that next.



PHILLIP: Get in line or face the consequences, that is the warning from former House speaker Newt Gingrich. And he has it for moderate Republicans as the House pushes to formalize an impeachment inquiry into President Biden. Listen.


NEWT GINGRICH (R-GA). FORMER HOUSE SPEAKER: If you're a Republican, do you really want to guarantee a primary opponent by voting against it, looking at it? This doesn't impeach him. This simply gives Congress additional power to force the White House to reveal documents and to force people to come and testify.


PHILLIP: And joining me now is CNN political commentator Ana Navarro and "Rolling Stone" columnist Jay Michelson. So, Anna, is that a threat or a statement of fact?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I actually think it's Newt Gingrich being Newt Gingrich being the political animal that he's always been.

PHILLIP: So it's right then.

NAVARRO: And he's basically saying, giving them the reason to vote for this and to do this inquiry and impeachment inquiry is not the merits. It's not the serious charges. It's not actual substance. It's politics. He basically said it out loud. This is all about politics. And if you don't get with the program, you Republicans are going to get a primary challenge.

PHILLIP: I mean, is he right though? I mean, the truth is that even though many members in the House do not think that there is much there, a lot of Republicans feel like they have no other choice here.

JAY MICHAELSON, CNN COMMENTATOR: But I consider this as someone, you know, on the more left side, I think this is good news because this is why Republicans lose elections. Because this rush to the hard right, moderate Republicans are moderate Republicans for a reason. They tend to represent moderate districts.

And for Newt Gingrich to say, oh, no, all moderates now need to pretend to be MAGA Republicans, that's just a great way to lose a general election. So for me, this kind of silly extremism, it is obviously a loss of principle, but it's also a great recipe for democratic victories.

NAVARRO: I actually could not agree more. And I think, I think they're going to, they do much more to make Joe Biden a sympathetic figure, a father going through things. Listen, one of the things they're coming out with is what? That Hunter Biden repaid his father for car payments because when he was a drug addict, he had bad credit and his father signed a car for him.


What parent has not signed a car or helped a child with bad credit going through things if they can?

PHILLIP: But even if you don't believe that Hunter Biden's a sympathetic figure, right? Where are the goods from James Cameron?

MICHAELSON: No, there's nothing. I agree.

PHILLIP: At this point, we're still waiting.

MICHAELSON: No, there is nothing. It's just like the Trump health plan. Like, we'll get it in 2017, '18, '19, and '23, but it never seems to materialize.

NAVARRO: But Hunter Biden may not be the sympathetic figure, but Joe Biden is. There's a ton of families in America dealing with a loved one going through drug addiction and trying to do everything in their power to get that loved one out of drug addiction. I've had it in my family.

And when you go to New Hampshire, when you go to some of these states, Ohio, everywhere you go, you meet up with a parent who's lost a child. You meet up with somebody whose child is in a hospital undergoing, I mean, this is an epidemic in America and I do think it makes Joe Biden relatable and sympathetic.

PHILLIP: So, Ana, earlier in the show, we had John Fetterman on a separate topic. He was talking about Bob Menendez and whether Democrats need to take a stand here George Santos is out, he's been kicked out of the house. What do you think? I mean, he's making the case that you can't kick out George Santos over Botox and Ferragamo shoes and not address Bob Menendez.

NAVARRO: Look, first of all, let me just say the caveat that I think when it comes to Bob Menendez, I have an unconscious bias. I've known the guy for almost 30 years. He's been my friend. He's done amazing things for the Latino community. He's such an advocate and a huge voice. He's going to leave a huge void. I am angry at him. I can't believe he's in this position a second time because we need him so much in the Senate. I am livid at this situation that he finds himself in again and at the things he's done to get himself in that situation.

That being said, I think there's a huge difference between Bob Menendez and George Santos. Bob Menendez has not had an ethics inquiry. He's not had, look, you know, there's gotta be some level of due process, particularly if you're looking at this from the Bob Menendez perspective, which is, I've been indicted before. You can indict a ham sandwich as the proverb goes, and I beat it before.

PHILLIP: But from a political perspective though, if you're a Democrat and you want to run against, basically an anti-corruption platform against Donald Trump even.

MICHAELSON: Although I really, I wonder if they're really running an anti-corruption platform. I mean, it doesn't feel like too many Americans are tuned into these, you know, we're tuned into George Santos because it's a hilarious story that we can watch George Santos videos on Cameo Now. That's why we're tuned in.

I'm not sure that Americans are taking the temperature of how much hypocrisy is on the Democratic side. I agree in principle. It does seem as though this is unequal, I take your point. Like there hasn't been the same kind of due process yet for a minute as that there was for the accusation.

NAVARRO: But I have a hard time thinking somebody's gonna cast a vote in, you know, Miami, Florida against a Congress person because they owe their senator.

PHILLIP: I think accusations -- I think Fetterman's point is also the accusations are actually much more severe.

MICHAELSON: That's right.

NAVARRO: That's true.

MICHAELSON: I agree. They are accusations. But I think the real point, I think part of the reason that this emphasis on the Biden impeachment is sort of a self-own for Republicans is that it's missing the emotional tenor of the country, where so many people are struggling with addiction, where so many people can relate to having family members.

Here, I agree on principle this is sort of a double standard. But I don't think this is really what is on a lot of Americans.

NAVARRO: What Fetterman should be calling for is if he wants to make an equivalency, is he should be calling for the Senate to do an ethics inquiry into Bob Menendez like the House did on George Santos. And once they come up with that report, but frankly by the time they come up with that report there's going to have been a primary election in New Jersey. Bob Menendez is up for re-election next year.

PHILLIP: And also potentially a criminal trial as well. NAVARRO: True.

PHILLIP: Anna and Jay, stick around for us. Coming up next, a former Trump administration staffer says that she thinks that Donald Trump is slowing down. We'll discuss what she said next.



PHILLIP: Welcome back to "Newsnight." As many raise questions about President Biden's age and mental competency, listen to one of Donald Trump's former staffers.


ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: It's kind of remarkable. I was watching some of the clips from Trump's visit to Iowa. I'm stunned having spent a lot of time with him in 2020 and years before. He is slowing down. There's a lack of sharpness in what he's saying and a lack of kind of clarity. There's another clip where he basically says he's going to overturn Obamacare, but then also says that he fixed it, just complete inconsistencies.

And for Republicans, our strongest case against Joe Biden is the age and the decline that some of us have seen. And if I'm being honest, head to head, I'm not sure which is struggling more.


PHILLIP: Ana Navarro and Jay Michelson are back with me.

I mean, I think I've heard about concerns about Donald Trump's mental competency for years. It led to him actually taking a, you know, mental stamina test when he was in the White House.

MICHAELSON: Which he, I'm sure, passed in Supreme House.

PHILLIP: Which one of his many doctors --

MICHAELSON: --said that he was the most mentally well-president ever in the history of America.

NAVARRO: Right. Wasn't it the one where there were like five words that he repeated, camera, T.V., rape, whatever.

MICHAELSON: This does feel like a next level thing, right? I mean, mixing up North Korea and China, saying there's 1.2 billion people living in North Korea, that is a factual error, saying that the president is President Obama. These are, you know, I've never seen Joe Biden slip up on a matter of national security, right?

I mean, partly, I think it's actually a really good point to see the difference between age and competency where first of all, they're only four years apart in age, but really where people are seeing some of these slip ups for Joe Biden, it's never approached this level with Donald Trump. But the real winner here has to be Nikki Haley, right?


If this gets out more, if Trump continues to decline prior to the spring season, the search for somebody who's not Trump has to --

PHILLIP: Which you're saying, I mean, look, first of all, I think it's important. There is age, there is also competency. They're not really necessarily the same thing, but voters, they just feel differently. I mean, when you ask them about all these different factors, respect for the rule of law, Biden does well. Honest and trustworthy, Biden does well. Effective world leader, Trump gets that one. And then look at how necessary stamina and sharpness, it's a huge gap between Trump and Biden and Trump is winning.

NAVARRO: I'm constantly amazed by that number. You know, so we, you and I were at the White House Christmas party on Friday night. I told Joe Biden, I have a campaign slogan for him. 81 versus 91. 81 years versus 91 counts. 81 million votes versus 91 counts. But look, I don't understand how people look at Donald Trump, who is, Joe Biden is in far better shape physically.

Joe Biden is physically active. He's on a bike. Yes, he might have fallen off of it, but he was on it in the first place. Donald Trump is in a golf cart. And, you know, at the Mar-a-Lago hamburger place, eating hamburgers with ketchup and signing caps. I don't understand how people view him as more, as younger.

PHILLIP: Could it be because he has kind of almost receded because into the background, he's not really out there as much every single day for the general public to see?

MICHAELSON: I just think we need the reality check, which is that Donald Trump is the candidate of rage, and he still taps in on an emotional level to the pain that Americans really are feeling and then converts it, in my view, into something incredibly dark.

But I think it's because he has this amazing, emotional, charismatic talent that, again, is quite dark, that people are willing to overlook all this stuff. And I think it's really interesting. I hope that the Democrats can find a way to actually connect emotionally, which I don't think Joe Biden does on the same level as Donald Trump, and really get some of that feeling.

NAVARRO: Listen, one of the things that Donald Trump has always benefited from is that he gets measured by a different stick than normal politicians, right?

MICHAELSON: That's right.

NAVARRO: When Joe Biden makes a mistake, it's a mistake. It's a gaffe. With Donald Trump, you never know whether he's lying, whether it's ignorance, because the man has not read many books. When have you ever heard him quote a philosopher or quote history?

MICHAELSON: Too quickly is his favorite book. NAVARRO: Or whether it's an actual mental decline gaffe. Like you,

I've been, you know, every time I heard him speak at CPAC years ago, I thought he was insane and in decline. What I do know is that if it's the two of them running against each other, I think the age issue becomes moot for Joe Biden.

PHILLIP: All right, Anna Navarro, Jay Michelson, thank you both as always.

And next, shock waves at the world's largest climate summit after comments by the group's president are caught on tape. CNN's Bill Weir is here and he'll have more on that next.



PHILLIP: Tonight, is there a climate skeptic in charge of the U.N. climate talks? Sultan Al-Jaber, the president of the COP28 summit, is now facing backlash for suggesting that there is no science behind phasing out fossil fuels to slow down global heating, and for suggesting that doing so would plunge the globe back into the dark ages.

Joining me now to discuss this controversy is CNN's climate chief climate correspondent, Bill Weir. So, Bill, today Al-Jaber defended his commitment to climate science, saying that he was misinterpreted. What's been the reaction in the scientific community to all of this?

BILL WEIR, CNN CHIEF CLIMATE CORRESPONDENT: Oh Abby, I've heard everything from deeply concerning to farcical from scientists including authors of the IPCC reports. These are the sweeping global thousands of scientists' consensus that informs the conference of the parties. This is the 28th COP that we've had.

And it wasn't until the 27th that the F words actually started being used. Fossil fuels, the source of man-made global warming. This COP is seen as a fierce debate over whether humanity will phase out dirty fuels that overcook the planet or phase down fuels over time, which is preferred by petro-states like the Emirates and Russia as well.

But these words that were actually captured in November in a discussion online with Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland, the sultan really condescending, off-camera sort of scolding her for being an alarmist right there. And this has sort of backed up the deep fears that this COP is being co-opted. I'll buy oil interests.

PHILLIP: This is so interesting. I mean, his appointment as leader of this climate summit was already pretty controversial. He's the CEO of the UAE's state-owned mega oil firm. And here's actually a reaction from former Vice President Al Gore to what Al Jaber had to say earlier today.


AL GORE, FORMER U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: This industry is way more effective at capturing politicians than they are at capturing emissions and they have captured the COP process itself now and overreached abusing the public's trust by naming the CEO of one of the largest and least responsible oil companies in the world as head of the COP.


PHILLIP: I mean honestly I think a lot of people would be really surprised to hear that. What is an oil executive doing at the head of a climate summit like this?


WEIR: That is a fantastic question. You know, they want a seat at the table. This is interesting. Christiana Figueres, who was the head of these COPs back in 2015 when the Paris Accords were signed, she was long a champion of, look, we need the big oil companies at the table. It will be much easier with their help.

She changed her tune just last year and said, look, they're not acting in good faith right now. They're trying to slow things down, obfuscate the process, until a big oil company, Saudi Aramco, or Adnok in Abu Dhabi, or ExxonMobil comes forward and says, here's a big oil reserve we found we're not going to exploit, then this is just going to keep going on, this conversation right now.

So, yes, the intrigue is high, the pressure is on, a lot of eyes trying to see what is the final decision coming out of this, but there's no doubt that oil interests are not going gently into a world without fossil fuels. This will be a real fight.

PHILLIP: That's really fascinating, Bill Weir. Thank you so much for joining us on that.

And next, see what happens when a kid gets up in Sylvester Stallone's face.



PHILLIP: Sylvester Stallone meet nine-year-old Ro Night in Philadelphia.


SYLVESTER STALLONE, PLAYED ROCKY BALBOA: Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows.

RO NIGHT, YOUNG WRESTLING FAN: It's a very mini and nasty place. And I don't care how old you are. It will beat you to your knees. And keep you there permanently if you let it. Me, you, or nobody can enter this artist's life. But it ain't about how hard you hit. It's about how hard you get hit. And keep moving forward. How much you get dazed. And keep moving forward.


PHILLIP: Ah, he was giving Stallone a run for his money, Laura. Handing it over to you now.

LAURA COATES, CNN ANCHOR: Oh, man, to be nine years old again and go toe-to-toe with Sly Stallone. That kid's got some wealth.

PHILLIP: Oh, yeah. Somebody get him a deal.

COATES: I'm sure he's on the way. It's coming right now. Thanks, Abby. Great show.