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Congress Has 8 Days Remaining to Avert Government Shutdown; Tentative Agreement to End Strike Reached by Hollywood Studios and Actors; DOJ Makes Arrests in "High-End Brothel Network". Aired 10:30- 11a ET

Aired November 09, 2023 - 10:30   ET




SARA SIDNER, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: All right. Eight days, that is how long Congress has to get the act together and come up with a plan to, yet again, avert a government shutdown. The November 17th deadline marks the first major test for new House Speaker Mike Johnson. On Wednesday, he reportedly met with Senator Susan Collins, the top Republican on the Senate Appropriations Committee. But as things stand at the moment, a deal is not close.

Let's bring in CNN Political Analyst Jackie Kucinich. She is also the Washington Bureau Chief for "The Boston Globe." Thank you so much, Jackie, for being here. I want to just start with the obvious question, why do the American people have to keep going through this? This is one of Congress' number one jobs, to keep the government running. Why are we here again?

JACKIE KUCINICH, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST AND WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, "THE BOSTON GLOBE": I mean, it has a lot to do with divided government, and I don't mean the House and the Senate. I mean, within the House Republican conference. They're having trouble even getting appropriation bills passed on the House floor. We're looking at, perhaps, a financial services, one being just pulled today.

So, while Speaker Johnson is new, believe it or not, he's only been there two weeks, that was two weeks ago.


He still has not found his footing here, and we are not sure what the plan is going to be to keep the government funded, as you said, in eight days.

SIDNER: Yes, it is hard for people to wrap their head around, that we are back here now a month after going through this before. I do want to talk to you about what we heard from Senator Chris Coons. This morning, we had a conversation about a bill proposed by Democrats which has funding for Israel, funding for Ukraine, funding for trying to deal with the issues at the southern border. And he says, look, you just need to pass this, we're not going to break things out. We're not going to remove, for example, Ukraine funding from our bill. Do you think that is going to fly here?

KUCINICH: It is going to be incredibly difficult for Speaker Johnson to get anything beyond Israel -- funding for Israel past that House of Republican conference. He will Democrat -- Democratic buy-in. He -- but it -- that is what, you know, hurt Kevin McCarthy, this willingness to compromise. His willingness to work bad times with Democrats if he needed to get things done, particularly when you're talking about the debt ceiling, it's one of the reasons he is no longer the speaker of the House. Ukraine is a hardline for a lot of the Republicans. And the Republican Party, you're seeing -- it's a port drop. They're looking at their constituents and saying, why are we doing this?

So, he already tried to force the Senate to pass something. The Israel funding with all -- paid for by defunding the IRS. That is dead on arrival. What his next move is, we will have to wait and see, Sara. It -- that is sort of where we are at right now in Washington, D.C.

SIDNER: You are often hearing people, Congress often has a very low approval rating just in general. You hear people, like, oh, Congress needs to get it together. But at this point in time, it doesn't matter what party you're in. It's the Republicans that are having the hardest time getting it together amongst themselves, correct?

KUCINICH: It's very true. And you know, we've seen -- we saw it live and in person during the various speaker debates. The, you know, leaderless Republican Party for some time. Now, Speaker Johnson has gotten a bit of grace, and -- but his grace period is quickly ending. And we always knew it was going to end around now because of this November 17th date. And it really just does not seem like his initial plan, trying to get appropriations bill passed one by one is going to fly.

I mean, there are some Republicans that just want to go to conference and just start talking to the Senate, maybe that is what where they will end up. But time is running short, Sara. And you're right, there are a lot of American people who don't want to be dealing or worrying about this over the holidays which is very -- growing ever closer.

SIDNER: Yes, I think that's the thing. It's like, everybody is worrying about the budgets personally, but they are taking care of it.


SIDNER: The government can't seem to do the same thing. And that is really frustrating for everyone. Jackie Kucinich, thank you so much for taking the time out today. And I love your shirt, butterflies, it's nice.


KUCINICH: Thank you, Sara. Thank you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN NEWS CENTRAL CO-ANCHOR: All right. A stunning bust, what the Justice Department is calling a high-end brothel network that included elected officials as clients. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


BERMAN: All right. Just in, we heard from President Biden, he is on the way to Illinois to meet with the UAW leader and also the governor of Illinois. But as he was departing, he answered a number of questions on some very pressing issues, including the situation on the ground in Gaza and a recent string of polling that has not looked good for him. Some very newsy answers here. Let's listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What of the talks of the Gaza ceasefire --

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: None, no possibility.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thought the hostages --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Any update on getting hostages out?

BIDEN: We're still optimistic.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Sir, the hostages in Gaza, you're message to their families --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's the delay in getting more hostages --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- your message to their families of the hostages in Gaza?

BIDEN: We're not going to stop until we get them out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How confident are you that you will get them out?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What has been the delay?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are retaliatory strikes working?

BIDEN: Yes. I mean, they're working in the sense that we're hitting the targets to the siege.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, Angola will celebrate the day of independence this Saturday. We are celebrating 48 years of independence. And you have been talking about Angola a lot. Would you like to send a message to the Angolan people?

BIDEN: Yes, it is -- very proud. Very, very proud. And we're going to build our main goal. It's going to be -- it's got more of the leaders (INAUDIBLE). You got to get these comments more up to speed.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And when are you meeting President Lourenco, because you have been talking about Angola, you want to help Angola but you didn't have the chance to meet President Lourenco yet. When are you meeting him?

BIDEN: I don't know the time yet, but I am sure I'll be meeting him.



BERMAN: All right. That was President Biden. There were some other questions that we didn't get in that clip when he was asked question about the current polling, we'll try to get that for you as well. But right there you heard he was asked about the possibilities of a ceasefire in Gaza. He said, no. There's no possibility.


He said he believes that strikes have been working. Retaliatory strikes against Iranian interests in Syria, he says, those have been working. As for his messages to the families of hostages being held in Gaza, he said his message is, we are continuing to work to get them freed.

As I said, there was even more there. We'll bring that to you in just a moment. He is on his way, as I said, the president is to Illinois for some meetings with union leaders. This, on the day when SAG-AFTRA reached a settlement with studios. The president sees himself as very active in the labor movement and the labor movement has had some success of late.


SIDNER: Thank you, John. After nearly four long months, there's a deal to end the actors' strike, finally, that brought Hollywood to a halt. We'll talk to union president, Fran Drescher, about the agreement that's being called historic, that's next.



BERMAN: This morning, the Justice Department says it arrested and charged three people accused of operating a, "High-end brothel network." The clients allegedly include politicians, military officers, and government contractors with security clearances.

Paula Reid joins us from Washington. There's a lot of wow in what I just read, Paula.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: A lot of wow indeed. Let's go back to 2020 when federal officials started investigating this organization. They were advertising on at least two websites. And what they advertised were sexual services with primarily Asian women. And if you were interested, you would receive a text message, giving you a list of women to choose from, sexual services available, and hourly rates and they range from $300-some-odd all the way to $600-some-odd. Now, if you wanted to avail yourselves of these services, you would then have to share quite a bit of personally identifying information. Including photos, your driver's license, information about your employer, and your credit card information, and you would then be charged a monthly fee.

Now, I can understand why some organizations of this type might want that information to protect the women and the people working there, but it also makes these clients quite vulnerable, particularly if they have -- oh, I don't know, a security clearance, or a very public job, or a high-ranking position in the military.

Now, they repeatedly referred to this brothel as high-end. And I wondered, well, why is that? What makes it high-end? And according to these investigators, they're pointing to the fact that the rooms, the apartments that were rented to conduct this activity, the monthly rents on these was up to $5,000 a month. They also point to the types of clients. And let's take a listen to the U.S. attorney describe exactly who was soliciting these services.


JOSHUA LEVY, ACTING U.S. ATTORNEY FOR MASSACHUSETTS: They are doctors. They are lawyers. They are accountants. They are elected officials. They are executives at high-tech companies and pharmaceutical companies. They are military officers. Government contractors, professors, scientists. Pick a profession, they're probably represented in this case.


REID: So far, they have not identified any of these clients and they insist that that is not to protect them, but because instead the investigation is ongoing. They say they still have search warrants that are going to be executed. They've interviewed about 20 of these clients so far, but they believe there could be hundreds more. But if you look at where exactly these operations were conducted, Tysons Corner, Virginia, right outside the beltway here in Washington, D.C. A lot of aerospace and defense, a lot of biotech companies not too far from our nation's capital. Also, Cambridge, Massachusetts, again, lots of biotech.

I think there are some questions about whether there might be more to this case, and that perhaps this could have been, the officials have not said this but I think it's a fair question, could have been more to this. Perhaps some sort of espionage or intelligence gathering going on here which could make it more difficult to identify some of these clients depending on who they are.

BERMAN: Literally every sentence of your report there made this more and more intriguing. It feels like there is a lot more to learn here. And there's a whole lot going on with this story.

All right. Paula Reid, thank you very much for that.

Sara. SIDNER: Yes, it used to be an October surprise, now it's a November surprise because there are some elected officials, Paula is reporting that are caught up in this.

All right. Speaking of elected officials, the president has made it to Andrews Air Force Base and has a lot more to say about the issues that are facing this country and abroad. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- Getting the hostages out?

BIDEN: We are hopeful. Things are moving along.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ask for a three-day pause to Netanyahu?

BIDEN: You know, I have been asking for a pause for a lot more than three days than this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you ask him to pause for three days to get the hostages out, for that length of time?

BIDEN: Yes, I have been asking for a longer pause for some of them.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, we're eight days from the shutdown --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you bringing that issue up in endorsement --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- the shutdown -- government shutdown, just eight days. Can you give us an update on what you're taking on how to move past that?

BIDEN: I wish they -- the House would just get to work. I am not being facetious, (INAUDIBLE). The idea we are playing games with the shutdown at this moment is just bizarre. And I think that we taught be able to combine Ukraine and Israel. We ought to be able -- and I'm open to discussions on the border. And I've already made some proposals. So, there is no need for any of this.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you be bringing up the issue of endorsement, Mr. President with Shawn Fain --

BIDEN: Pardon me. What's that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you be bringing up the issue of an endorsement with Shawn Fain when you meet him?

BIDEN: Will I bring up the endorsement?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Issue of an endorsement. He has -- the UAW hasn't endorsed you yet.


BIDEN: Oh, no. They're going to be fine. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, are you frustrated with Prime Minister Netanyahu that he is not listening to more to some of the things you have asked him to do?

BIDEN: It's taking a little longer than I hoped.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's taking a little bit longer?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you support that UAW's efforts to unionized Tesla and Toyota, Mr. President?

BIDEN: Absolutely. Thank you.


SIDNER: All right. You were just listening to the president there. He said that he has actually asked for a longer than a three-day pause for Israel to pause its bombing and ground incursion in Gaza because of, mostly, the hostage situation there, but also the humanitarian situation there. He's also told the House, basically, to get to work. That they can both fund Israel and Ukraine, that shouldn't be the big sticking point and issue. We will see going forward but those are words you were just hearing now that just happened from the president while he is at Andrews Air Force Base.

All right. Still ahead, how last night's Republican debate foreshadowed one critical focus for the GOP right now. And how much did the absent Donald Trump figure into that conversation? We'll take a look ahead.