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Interview With Fmr. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI); House Speaker to Rely on Democrats to Avoid Government Shutdown?; March For Israel Rally in D.C.; Kevin McCarthy Accused of Sucker Punching Fellow Republican. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired November 14, 2023 - 13:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Happening now: Tens of thousands of people are on the National Mall here in D.C. to rally in support of Israel and condemn antisemitism. Security is at the highest level, as tensions over the Israel-Hamas war surge.

And, in the meantime, President Biden expressing some new optimism about the hostages that Hamas is holding. He says a deal is going to happen. We have new details on the negotiations.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: And we know they throw insults, right, but now elbows? One congressman accusing former Speaker McCarthy of just that, all of this three days before the government shuts down.

We are following these major developing stories and many more all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

KEILAR: For 239 hostages being held in Gaza, today is day 39 in captivity. A short time ago, President Biden said a deal to release them is -- quote -- "going to happen."

A senior U.S. official telling CNN Israel and Hamas are moving close to the war to a deal for release, which could include a days-long pause in fighting. Right now, in Washington, thousands are gathered on the National Mall demanding the hostages be freed while condemning antisemitism.

Washington's mayor has ramped up the police presence in the face of potential counterprotests or threats. And Homeland Security has given the event the highest possible security designation.

CNN's Gabe Cohen is at the National Mall for us. He's there on the National Mall, I should say.

All right, Gabe, tell us about the turnout so far and what you're seeing and hearing.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, up to this point, it is massive as we're waiting for these speeches to get under way any minute.

I am looking at a sea of people across the section of the National Mall. They were expecting potentially tens of thousands of them packed into this area about a mile-long, all fenced in at this point. Organizers said they expected this to be the largest gathering of American Jewish communities in recent history, and it appears they may have accomplished that.

And, look, organizers, they told me they were very intentional about the speakers they selected, the language that they used as they were planning this event, because they really wanted to create a big tent of unity and support, an event that could unify Jews and Jewish organizations across the political spectrum.

They said there are really three points of focus here, one showing solidarity with Israel and the Israeli people, two, combating antisemitism across the country and across the world, and, three, calling for the release of the hostages that are still in Gaza.

And, look, when I was out in that crowd a few minutes ago, I met people from across the country, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, Florida, California, and I met a young woman who's a student at the University of Maryland who said she went to high school with Omer Neutra.

He's a Long Island native, an Israeli soldier who is now being held in Gaza. Here's what she told me about why she came down here today.


SARA BLAU, FORMER CLASSMATE OF HOSTAGE: We went to high school together, and we were very good friends. He is an incredible guy. Everyone loves him. He's funny. He's kind, charismatic. He's a natural-born leader, and everyone's really being impacted really heavily by this.

I wanted to show my support for Israel. I'm a proud Zionist, a proud Jew, and I wanted to be here to support my community.


COHEN: And, Brianna, we expect that message of unity to be mirrored in some of the speakers that are scheduled.

We know the new House speaker, Republican Mike Johnson, is set to speak, the Democratic minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, Chuck Schumer, Joni Ernst. So it's leaders from across the political aisle who will speak here. It'll be interesting to see if their rhetoric matches that message of unity as these speeches get under way any minute now.

KEILAR: Yes, certainly, they have the ear of many folks here in Washington.

Gabe Cohen, thank you for that report.

We also have CNN senior crime and justice correspondent Shimon Prokupecz covering this rally.


Shimon, obviously a big security concern here. Tell us what you have learned.


One of the biggest, certainly, that Washington, D.C., has seen in quite some time, Every law enforcement agency assisting here, from the D.C. Metro Police, to the Capitol Police, the Park Police, Secret Service, the FBI.

So, basically, you have got every law enforcement agency here working behind the scenes on the ground. We have National Guard troops just up the block, blocking off the streets. So, just most of this area around here, you can see the streets are open, but they have closed them to traffic, to vehicle traffic.

But I'm at the area here, Bri, where people who are entering this event at the security checkpoint that they have to go through, and as we get closer to the start of this event, many of the people have been entering inside. And so they have to go through security, magnetometers. You're not allowed to bring bags in.

So there's really tight security. There's a lot of concern, obviously, with all the antisemitism that we have seen across the country and just what's going on overseas. And so, as a result, there are all these extra security measures. And as this day goes on, we're certainly expecting to see even more of a law enforcement presence, because there is concern over counterdemonstrations.

And so law enforcement is looking out for that. We have not seen much of that out here today, but, obviously, everyone here on high alert.

KEILAR: Yes, they certainly are, and for good reason.

Shimon, thank you for that report -- Pam.

BROWN: Thanks, Brianna.

So now we have more on that encouraging statement from President Biden, telling reporters at the White House today that a deal to free the hostages is going to happen.

CNN's Nic Robertson is in Sderot, Israel, with more on this.

So what more can you tell us about these negotiations, Nic?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, it's been understood that the negotiations could involve the release of up to 100 women and children who are being held by Hamas and perhaps one of the other main groups holding people there, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

It's not quite clear how that group fits into the conversations that are being had. These are not direct conversations. Of course, we know that the Hamas speaks with the Egyptian intelligence, and they, in turn, will speak with the officials in Doha, the Qatari officials there, who've been the main intermediaries here as well, who obviously have access to Hamas officials. But in that grouping of potentially 100 women and children, the

understanding is that their release could be a sort of a rolling release, a few at first, a small group, and then another group. But it would, of course, be dependent on a cease-fire.

And the questions have been about how long the cease-fire would be and would you have a series of cease-fires. And Israel has been so clear until now, no complete cease-fire until all the hostages are freed. And I was speaking to hostages over the weekend -- or families, at least, of hostages.

And they were telling me they're concerned that, while this deal appears at the moment to prioritize women and children, and they say rightly so, there's a concern that men, particularly men of military age, may get left behind in this deal.

So there are concerns among the families of hostages about this. But it does appear as if there is a possibility for movement. But what we keep getting cautioned about here, of course, is that this can all get derailed very quickly.

And I have to say no sign of cease-fire in Gaza today, which is what we have seen before the other couple of hostage releases that we had several weeks back now, Pam.

BROWN: Right, we have seen -- we have had hopeful signs in the past, and then it got derailed. So I think that's an appropriate caution, for sure.

I want to ask you about Gaza's health care system. It is on the brink of collapse, as we know. The U.N. says that one hospital in Northern Gaza is operational. And you traveled with the IDF into Gaza. What did you see?

ROBERTSON: Yes, 35 hospitals in Gaza, the vast majority are now completely out of service and, as you say, only one operating now inside of Gaza.

And the IDF very clearly wants to get access to that hospital, because they say that they believe Hamas has a network of tunnels there. This is something that hospital officials dismiss. But, yesterday, we were taken to see the Al-Rantisi children's hospital in the north of Gaza.

It was an active combat zone when we were there, but the IDF spokesman, Admiral Hagari, who took us in there, I asked him why there was damage getting into the hospital, why the building was damaged and about the reason that they'd taken us there and what they were finding and what conclusions they were drawing from what they were finding.


ROBERTSON: By bringing us here to this hospital and showing us the connection that you believe exists between the terrorists and the possibly hostages, what does this say about the other hospitals here in Gaza?


REAR ADM. DANIEL HAGARI, IDF SPOKESPERSON: Cynically, Shifa Hospital is known, by facts, by intelligence, to be a terrorist hub. And, also, it's suspicious also in holding hostages.

This is the best shelter for the terror war machine of Hamas.

ROBERTSON: But the hospital authorities said they have no knowledge of Hamas or other groups inside the hospitals. Is that possible?

HAGARI: I think it's not possible for a hospital to have this kind of an infrastructure. We knew the terrorists were here. We knew.

ROBERTSON: How do you know?

HAGARI: We knew by intelligence. And, also, we got some fire from this area.

ROBERTSON: From this area or this building?

HAGARI: From this area. And we were right to fire, because what we found, an armory.

ROBERTSON: But so much damage all around here.

HAGARI: Yes, there is damage all around here, because Hamas made it impossible for us to fight him. He built all this infrastructure in tunnels and in hospital, around areas populated.


ROBERTSON: Well, hospital and health officials inside Gaza continue to deny any connection between the hospitals themselves and Hamas.

And this is something that they have said from the very beginning. But it seems very clear that Israel is -- based on its beliefs, is determined to take control of the hospitals, because they say that they're going after Hamas. And they also believe that there's a possible connection to hospitals and hostages. And the other thing they say they're trying to get is all the hostages.

So it does seem that Israel is on a course to try to take control of the hospitals.

BROWN: All right, Nic Robertson, thanks so much -- Brianna.

KEILAR: Well, Israeli forces have confirmed that an IDF soldier Hamas had taken as a hostage has now died.

The IDF says Noa Marciano was shown in a video that Hamas posted on Monday. CNN is not showing any of that footage. Hamas claims Marciano was killed during an Israeli airstrike. And while the IDF has confirmed Marciano's death, they did not specify how it happened.

Joining us now is Gershon Baskin. He is a former hostage negotiator and also the Middle East director for the International Communities Organization.

Gershon, thank you for being with us.

Clearly, the need to get these hostages out before they're killed is imperative. President Biden says a hostage deal is -- quote -- "going to happen." Obviously, Hamas wants a cease-fire for as long as they can get it and to release as few hostages as possible to get it. And Israel wants the opposite.

What is Israel's responsibility when it comes to finding an agreement?

GERSHON BASKIN, ISRAELI HOSTAGE NEGOTIATOR: Well, first of all, I think it's important to understand that there's no deal until there's a deal. There's always a lot of talk about deals around these negotiations.

All the talk around the negotiations are part of the negotiations themselves. I usually relate to them as noise aimed at influencing the negotiators. What Israel wants is all the hostages to be released immediately. That's not in the cards. Hamas has demanded that Israel release all the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.

Israel is not going to do that. That's some 7,000 prisoners, including 559 serving life sentences for murdering Israelis and another 130 who were caught inside of Israel after they committed terrorism, terrorist murders on October 7. So that's not possible.

What is being talked about is what was reported, a deal for the women the children and the elderly. We can't forget that they have hostages who are in their 70s and 80s, some of them requiring immediate medical care. And this is the most important thing for Israel to do to get those hostages out. And Israel is willing to make a compromise of cease-fire for several days and even to release some Palestinian prisoners for that to be done.

But we must be aware that a cease-fire is not just stopping the shooting. It also requires a redeployment on the part of Israel, moving back to positions where they would be secure, so they're not sitting ducks in the middle of the city of Gaza, where Hamas would be able to target them easily.

KEILAR: So -- and so that -- you see that happening, a several-day cease-fire and a release of a large number of hostages, but obviously not all of them?

BASKIN: I think it's very possible. I think there are intensive negotiations going on both in Cairo and in Doha.

I think the Egyptians are playing a crucial role here because they have direct line to the Hamas underground leadership, the military command of Hamas, as well as the Islamic Jihad. The Hamas leaders in Qatar, I think, are much less connected to what's going on, on the ground. So there may be this communication going between Cairo and Doha as well.

The American hostage experts are playing an important role and are advising the Israelis and pushing the Qataris to put pressure on Hamas. And it has to happen soon, or it's not going to happen. There's just a matter of time before the Israelis go at that hospital, the Shifa Hospital.

I hope that the Israelis have substantial evidence to prove that it is a military target, because it is the largest and most important hospital in Gaza. And I think it's also important to know that the Israelis are not going to wait forever. They're going to send their special forces on search-and-rescue missions to find the hostages.



BASKIN: And when that happens, the chances of negotiations are much, much smaller.

KEILAR: And highly dangerous missions, obviously, if they were to do that.

BASKIN: Definitely.

KEILAR: How do you see Netanyahu balancing the demands of Israelis and his stated desire for retribution for October 7 and the need to negotiate, to give something to get these hostages back?

BASKIN: I think that even Netanyahu is disconnected to the people of Israel today. And I think the people of Israel will make him pay the price for his failures at the end of this war.

Even Netanyahu understands that Israel has a moral responsibility to bring the hostages home. Israel failed to protect these communities along the Gaza border. Israel failed to prevent Hamas from entering Israel so easily in breaching Israel's border, and it was the government of Netanyahu that has been in power for most of the last 15 years.

He has no excuses. He has to take responsibility, and, therefore, he has to uphold the moral responsibility of the state of Israel to return these hostages to their families.

KEILAR: Gershon, it is great to get your insights. Obviously, you have very unique and important ones. Thank you so much for being with us.

BASKIN: Thank you.

KEILAR: And a clean shot to the kidneys. We are not talking about a boxing match. We are talking about a physical altercation between Kevin McCarthy and one of the Republicans who voted him out as House speaker.

Republican Congressman Tim Burchett says McCarthy elbowed him hard in the back. But what does McCarthy say?

Plus, some good news ahead of the holiday season, the Dow soaring, as the new inflation report shows prices are getting less painful, but is it enough for the Fed to end those rate hikes?



KEILAR: Well, we are one day closer to a government shutdown, and House Speaker Mike Johnson is staring down his first clash with GOP hard-liners.

So how tense are the dynamics right now? Well, today, we heard about another kind of clash on Capitol Hill. Congressman Tim Burchett says former House Speaker Kevin McCarthy elbowed and shoved him. Burchett is one of the eight House Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy.

And he spoke to CNN's Manu Raju this morning.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, Congressman, explain to us what happened with you and Kevin McCarthy.

REP. TIM BURCHETT (R-TN): Well, I was doing an interview with Claudia from NPR, a lovely lady. And she was asking me a question.

And at that time, I got elbowed in the back, and it kind of caught me off guard, because it was a clean shot to the kidneys. And I turned back, and there was -- there was Kevin. And I -- for a minute, I was kind of, what the heck just happened?

And then I chased after him, of course. He's a -- as I have stated many times, he's a bully with $17 million in a security detail. He's the type of guy that, when you're a kid, would throw a rock over the fence and run home and hide behind his mama's skirt.

And he just -- he -- he -- from behind, that kind of stuff, it -- that's not the way we handle things in East Tennessee. We -- if we have a problem with somebody, I'm going to look them in the eye and talk to them.

RAJU: OK, so he walked down the hallway, hit you in his -- with his elbow? And then...

BURCHETT: Yes, you can -- you can go on Claudia's Twitter account. It pretty much -- or X account.

RAJU: Right.

BURCHETT: It's very accurate.

RAJU: OK. So, then just explain.

So you chased him? What do you mean you chased him?

BURCHETT: Well, I just ran after him. I was like: "What the heck? Why'd you do that?" Because it was -- like I said, if you have ever been hit in the kidneys, it's a little different. You don't have to hit very hard to cause a little bit of pain, a lot of pain. And so I -- and he just -- of course, as he always did, does, he just denies it or blames somebody else or something, you know?

And it was just a little heated, but I just backed off, because there wasn't any -- I saw no reason. I wasn't gaining anything from it.


BURCHETT: And, then, everybody saw it, so it didn't really matter.

RAJU: But he responded to you?

BURCHETT: Yes. Yes, he just acted like, what are you talking about, you know, who are you to -- that kind of thing.

And it's just -- I think that's symptomatic of the problems that he's had in his short tenure as speaker.

RAJU: And were you face-to-face when you had this interaction?

BURCHETT: Yes. Yes. But there's security detail, and I get it. They had to -- they were doing their job, so it wasn't exactly like -- he didn't -- he wouldn't turn around and face me. He kept scurrying, trying to keep people between me and him.

RAJU: And then so, what did he -- were you...

BURCHETT: And I just let it go at that point. It wasn't...

RAJU: Were you yelling?

BURCHETT: He was -- yes, I raised my voice to him. I thought it was appropriate.

And I -- you just don't expect a guy who was at one time three steps away from the White House to sucker -- hit you with a sucker punch in the hallway.

RAJU: And did he raise his voice back to you?

BURCHETT: Yes, just that high-pitched kind of thing, I believe, and that was about it.


BROWN: McCarthy denies the incident, saying -- quote -- "I didn't shove or elbow him. It's a tight hallway."

But this comes just hours before the House is set to vote on Johnson's two-step plan to keep the federal government running past Friday. And without enough Republican support, Johnson has moved to sidestep them and lean on Democrats to get a bill passed.

CNN's Lauren Fox is on Capitol Hill.

So, Lauren, some House Democrats are signaling that they will support Johnson's plan to avoid a government shutdown. Where do things stand right now?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we were outside of the House Democratic Caucus meeting this morning. That is where members were discussing how they should proceed moving forward.

And what became very clear is that, while this plan is not exactly what Democrats had hoped for, they don't like the fact that there are two separate deadlines for when government funding is going to run out, with some agencies running short on funding on January 19, others running short on funding on February 2, their underlying argument was, this is a win for Democrats, because it doesn't include any poison pills and it doesn't include any spending cuts.


But Democratic leaders are still playing a little bit coy with how Democrats are going to proceed on the floor in just a few short hours.

Here's Jeffries to me earlier:


REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): We continue to express concerns with the bifurcated deadlines that seem to be somewhat unprecedented, and we're evaluating the potential adverse impact of that on the American people.

FOX: So, at this point, you guys are just evaluating whether or not you can live with the bifurcated dates or not? It sounds like you haven't found any poison pills, correct?

JEFFRIES: That is correct.

FOX: Is Speaker Johnson just going to have to wait and see what happens on the floor?

JEFFRIES: I expect that we will have one or two more conversations in the next few hours.


FOX: And, of course, Democrats don't want to see a government shutdown, Pam.

And this deadline is coming up so quickly on Friday. And given what you have seen over tensions running high in the House of Representatives, members are ready to get out of Washington. Members are ready to get back to their families. Members are ready to start and begin celebrating the Thanksgiving holiday.

Likely, this is going to pass today out of the House of Representatives. But, like we noted, this has to be passed with Democratic votes, something that former Speaker Kevin McCarthy did and then something he was ousted for -- Pam.

BROWN: That's right.

Lauren Fox live on Capitol Hill, thanks so much.

So, let's discuss now with former Republican Congressman from Michigan Fred Upton.

Thank you so much for joining us.

I first want to ask you about this clash that apparently happened on the Hill today. You heard Congressman Burchett saying that he got into an altercation with the former House speaker. The former speaker denies any mal intent, but what do you make of this alleged altercation?

FMR. REP. FRED UPTON (R-MI): Well, politics is always a little rough- and-tumble. It's not exactly like what we see sometimes in Japan or Korea or maybe the Philippines, when these guys are going at each other and crawling over everybody.

But it's not a very wide hallway. I don't -- my guess is, it was -- and I wasn't there, but I don't think it was a serious jab. Kevin probably wishes maybe he'd put horns behind his head to do this interview. Who knows?

But I think it's just -- and Burchett, he's likely going to oppose the -- keeping the government open this afternoon when they have that vote. But, yes, I wouldn't make any big thing out of it. It's just a little push, probably wouldn't even get an interference call in an NHL game.

BROWN: Burchett, for his part, though, didn't seem to experience that. I mean, he says he was still hurting when he talked to Manu.

But when you look at the big picture here and the tensions rising, I mean, this altercation is seemingly symptomatic of the conflict that we have seen within the House Republican Caucus as of late. How worried are you about the tensions rising among House Republican lawmakers as we look ahead to the future and this potential government shutdown?


Well, I think they are going to have the votes to pass. At least, that's all the indications, because the Democrats are going to be on board, at least a good number of them, to make up for the folks who will always be voting no.

But it's a very close margin, four votes. Likely, I think, that Santos is gone after this week. So, after this week, it'll be just a three- vote margin. But it's a poisonous, toxic time, particularly now that we're less than a year away from the big election next November.

But you have got this festering, for sure, among, as they call, the crazy eight. Kevin, in my view, dug his own hole quite a bit in terms of some of the changes that he was successful in making in the House rules that rewarded him with his speakership.

But it's time to look to the future. We don't want a shutdown. It's terribly unsettling for federal employees, whether it be a TSA or USDA or anyplace else. I think they're going to have the votes to keep it open. But you know what? Then they have to work.

Congress, a week ago, they had Halloween off. They had the -- they didn't get anything done during the three weeks where they had no speaker. They had all of August off. And now, of course, this next deadline is January.

I sure hope that, after Thanksgiving, when they come back, that they actually may get some of -- I hope that they can get some of these bills done in a bipartisan basis, because that's what you're going to have to do to get Biden, the president, to sign it and get 60 votes done in the Senate.

But we're beyond the end of the fiscal year. It's now time to get that work done. And I think Johnson may have -- Speaker Johnson has found maybe a magic moment here to reset things, but the onus is going to be on them to actually pass a bill in both January and February to keep the government open and to really do something about spending.

BROWN: All right, Fred Upton, thank you so much.

Well, stocks soaring.