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Threats, Insults Erupt In Congress After Weeks Of Tension; Wray: FBI Seeing A Rise In Antisemitic Threats; Study: Microplastics Found In Clouds Could Impact Weather. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired November 15, 2023 - 11:30   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: New this hour. The Senate could vote today on a funding bill to avert a government shutdown. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is saying that he wants "no drama, no delay, and no shutdown." That sounds great. But there was plenty of drama on display yesterday. Kevin McCarthy accused of elbowing another Republican, a House hearing turning into a shouting match between two lawmakers, and in the Senate, one senator even asking a witness to fight him during a hearing.

CNN's Manu Raju on Capitol Hill with more on this. What are you hearing from lawmakers today about all of the nonsense that transpired yesterday?

MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR & CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Well, look, the Senate is trying to clear that bill to keep the government open until early next year. But that doesn't mean that the drama is done. In fact, there's still a lot of tension, particularly on the House GOP side at this moment.

Given the fact that this bill was passed yesterday, did not include spending because it relied on mostly democratic support and more democratic vote. Democrats voted for it than Republicans. And that angered a number of Republican members, including Congressman Chip Roy, who just told me moments ago, this is strike one and strike two against Speaker Johnson and warned that strike three, will be moving on to Ukraine aid package if there's not sufficient in his view, tighter immigration policies. Now, that is that one aspect.

Then there are all these personality conflicts whether it was the former Speaker of the House allegedly kidding the -- Congressman Tim Burchett in the kidney, something that McCarthy denied. And also, Markwayne Mullin, the Oklahoma Senator threatening a witness to fight and asking for him to actually have a physical altercation in a committee hearing. Something that he said he would -- was only calling out that witness for suggesting that they should fight over social media. I just asked the number three Senate Republican about Markwayne Mullin's threat, and he defended Markwayne Mullin.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) SEN. JOHN BARRASSO (R-WY): I wouldn't want to mess with Markwayne Mullin. He's tough. But it seems that the witness, who has this long history of taunting him with tweets. And that's completely unnecessary, and then Bernie Sanders keeps inviting him in. Bernie knew this was going to happen.

RAJU: Do you think that you have any concerns with what Mullin said at all?

BARRASSO: No. Markwayne -- you know, you saw the video. He read tweets from that witness, from that labor leader -- union leader.

He read the tweets and he said, look, you have challenged me. Here you are. Do you stand for it or not? So, it just seemed like the witness was a bully, and he was called out on it.



RAJU: But this marks about 10 weeks of intense time during this Congressional session. A lot of members are eager to get out of town. The House could be out of session as soon as tonight. The Senate potentially tonight or tomorrow as members are eager to get out of Washington amid a very, very difficult tense, and tumultuous period in the Capitol, Kate.

BOLDUAN: I'm actually really surprised about what -- how Barrasso was defending Markwayne Mullin. I mean, it's -- they're -- you can def -- you can defend a fellow Senator, Manu, and not defend the actions of that one Senator because like, what is for us we're talking about like, I wouldn't want to mess with Markwayne Mullin? Like, what's our -- it would -- we like getting back to the age where like, that's how you define being manly, is if you can get into fistfights. Like, come on. We are -- this -- what?

RAJU: Yes. And look, Markwayne Mullin defended his comments as well, saying that that's the way he was raised and he's a guy from Oklahoma, Kate.

BOLDUAN: But I'm a girl from Indiana. I mean, like, what are we doing? OK. Thank you, Manu. It's great to see you. John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: I mean, for the record, we almost never threatened to fight with any of our guests on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

BOLDUAN: Almost never.

BERMAN: Almost never.

BOLDUAN: Again, I'm a girl from Indiana. So, do you really want to mess with the girl -- I mean, come on. Thanks, John.

BERMAN: All right. A crucial summit kicks off shortly. President Biden and China's President Xi Jinping hold critical talks. They are in California. This is their first face-to-face meeting in a year. With me is Thomas Fingar, former Deputy Director of National Intelligence under President Obama. Thank you so much for being with us. What is the most important message for President Biden to deliver today?

THOMAS FINGAR, FORMER DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF NATIONAL INTELLIGENCE: Well, I think he's got multiple messages in multiple audiences, that he will have a long list of issues that he will raise with Xi, and Xi will raise with him because it's important to report back that these concerns were articulated. I think the most important message of all is to the broader audience, and that is that the United States and China are capable of managing a relationship that is widely depicted. As in freefall on the verge of some type of conflict, and incapable of cooperation in any areas. And to simply disprove these worst-case interpretations of the relationship.


BERMAN: As we mentioned, it's been a year since the two leaders met face-to-face. How do you think China's view -- Xi's view of the United States has changed in the last year?

FINGAR: I doubt that his view of the United States has changed. But I think his appreciation for the importance of the United States to his ability to deal with the multiplicity of challenges that he has internally, mostly relating to the economy, add perceptions that the U.S.-China relationship is of such parlous straits, that investment is drying up, contracts are going elsewhere, supply chains are reorienting. And I think the realization of the perils the hazards of a go-along challenges the United States on every point of policy, it just not meeting his objectives.

BERMAN: All right, Thomas Fingar, we appreciate you being with us. As we said, a very important meeting the first in a year. Thanks, Tom. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, providing a boost to President Biden. More than a hundred former White House officials -- Obama-Biden administration officials penning a letter praising President Biden over his support for Israel. We're going to speak with one of them next.



BOLDUAN: This morning, FBI Director Chris Wray. He had a warning for Congress that the agency has received, in his words, a large number of tips and leads related specifically to Hamas and radicalization and recruitment since October 7. This comes as more of one -- more than a hundred former Biden and Obama officials sent a letter to President Biden applauding his support of Israel since the attacks, and also sending a message to those with differing views. Let me read a part of the letter.

To those blaming Israel alone for this violence and excusing the atrocities including rape and beheading as resistance, we want to be very clear, there is no moral equivalence between Israel and Hamas, a designated terrorist organization. It also continues this. No aspect of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict justifies Hamas's unconscionable war crimes on October 7, and the destruction it has caused in Gaza in the weeks before and since.

One of the top former officials in that letter, former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. And he joins us now. Secretary, thank you for being here. Why is this show of support needed right now? Why did you sign on?

We're trying -- I think we're having an audio issue. There he is.

LARRY SUMMERS, FORMER TREASURY SECRETARY: And I wanted to support it. Support what it is that he -- OK.

BOLDUAN: Secretary, let's start again because there was an audio issue -- there was an audio issue at the very top. Talk to me again. I'm sorry -- I'm sorry, Secretary, with these technical glitches. Talk to me about why your need for -- your -- the reason you supported the need for support -- showing the support is now.

SUMMERS: Kate, I signed the letter -- I signed the letter because I thought it said something important. It supported President Biden when he's done something very bright and very -- (INAUDIBLE) It supported President Biden in a very important moral issue of our time, which is standing with Israel.

I'm not defending every decision Israel has made over the last 20 years, God knows. But what Hamas did, the sponsored terror and killing of innocents, that is not justified by any error of policy or diplomacy along the way, Hamas is evil. Evil needs to be confronted in today's world.

BOLDUAN: You have been connected to Harvard for decades. And you have been outspoken in your disappointment as well in how the school responded after the Hamas attacks. And you've -- and you just actually put a piece out about kind of what the antisemitism has meant and what it is -- what has happened on campuses since October 7. In your view, why did Harvard get this wrong, and what's the lessons here?

SUMMERS: Kate, I think the lesson is we have to hate and oppose all prejudice. And universities need to respond to antisemitism in the same way they respond to racism, in the same way they respond to misogyny. And that is not what we've seen from universities.

That is not what we've been seeing for years from DEI offices. And that's something that has to change if we're to be just and to have the right kind of responses, and for all our students to feel safe. I'm glad to see that with some delay at Harvard and on a number of campuses, there have been increasingly strong statements made recognizing the importance of antisemitism.


And I applaud the most recent statement that our president, President Gay has made. But these kinds of statements really only have the impact they need to have if they come promptly, and if they don't look like their response to pressure.

BOLDUAN: It's a good point. When -- this letter that you signed on to went to -- it went to Biden yesterday, the same day the New York Times is reporting a separate letter was delivered to Biden. This one from hundreds of people described by The New York Times as political appointees throughout the government signing this letter anonymously and protesting Biden's support for Israel. When you -- this divide that seems to be coming so exposed within the Democratic -- within, you know, amongst Democrats, if you will, over Biden's support of Israel. Has it surprised you?

SUMMERS: Well, first of all, Kate, I would say that the merits of this issue apart, I always regard very differently the views of people who are prepared to sign their names to their views, and the views of people who insist on providing their views only with anonymity. Second, I'd say there's a long tradition of people who, for whatever reason, have just decided to be anti-Israeli, and who -- and again, I'm not one of those people who thinks that everything Israel does is right. I spoke out very vigorously earlier this year against some of Prime Minister Netanyahu's policies in my area of economics.

But there are people who somehow don't see what's happening in Darfur, don't see what's happening in -- with the Uyghurs, don't see what's happening in Saudi Arabia, where things happen to journalists, and only focus on Israel. And I think that is deeply problematic. So, I have to say no, I was not completely surprised, even though I was very disappointed to see what happened.

I think this -- I don't know whether antisemitism is exactly the right word for it, but this virulent anti-Israeli sense, that is disproportionate to whatever mistakes that Israel has made, and that leads people into seeing moral equivalence with state-supported terrorists who slit the throats of babies. That is something that whether it's present on a college campus or whether it's present in a political gathering seems to me to be very, very wrong. I was disappointed that more of my fellow Democrats did not join in the censure of the Congresswoman who had engaged in what I thought was either at or over the line of antisemitic speech.

BOLDUAN: Treasury -- Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers, thanks for coming on. It's really great to talk to you.

SUMMERS: Thank you.


SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: From the dumpster to the skies. Up next, we'll break down the new study that shows how discarded plastic might be changing the weather. That's ahead.


[11:53:23] SIDNER: This is crazy. This is new this morning. Your trash might be changing the weather. I know it sounds slightly insane, a bit wild, but a new study found that microplastics are turning up in more and more places. They're found in your drinking water, food, air, and now clouds.

Let's get more from CNN's Derek Van Dam to break down this study. Derek, this is --


SIDNER: The last time I saw you was in a hurricane. And now you're talking about this. This is terrifying, actually.

VAN DAM: I know, Sara. Microplastics, they're everywhere, right? I mean, we knew about the oceans. That's a given it seems like these days.

But now to find out that they potentially are in our clouds, altering our weather patterns, well, that's saying something. But that of course is if you believe what's actually coming out of these scientific reports. There's a lot of science behind this. But let me break it down for you.

What happens when we form a cloud? Well, we need some sort of hydrophilic which means attracting particles in the atmosphere. And we have those. In any given day, we have the dust, salt, ash, but now we can add, according to the study, microplastics.

So, what that does is it creates the surface for water vapor to kind of -- kind of form a reaction. Eventually, condensating onto this particle, creating a water particle. Eventually, condensating enough to create a cloud -- a larger cloud.

Now as these coalesce and get larger and larger, according to not just the dust and the -- dust and the ash, but the microplastics in the atmosphere. Well, could it be altering our rain, or how about the addition of more cloud cover? Perhaps cooling our temperatures as well. Well, that's the big question mark that to be determined.


One thing's for sure. Plastics -- microplastics are everywhere. Where do they come from? Well, it originates with unfortunately, your plastic bottles that you and I use.

Check it out. It breaks down over time. Eventually, it will end up in our oceans and of course in our atmosphere. Now. we're starting to find that out as well, potentially altering our weather patterns.

And these things are tiny. They are smaller than a sesame seed. They're even, on some occasions, smaller than the width of an average human hair. So, they are microscopic on the levels of microns.

And yes, check it out. Greater population densities have these larger densities of microplastics as one would expect because of more demand for plastic. Sara, fascinating, right?

SIDNER: It is fascinating -- it's terrifying and fascinating.


SIDNER: Derek Van Dam, thank you so much.

VAN DAM: Agreed.

SIDNER: I am going -- I'm really trying to cut back on the -- on the water bottle but he called me out because he saw me drinking from one.


BERMAN: Well, he had me a hydrophilic, right?


BERMAN: As soon as --

BOLDUAN: I saw you're going to pick up bottled water.

BERMAN: As soon as he started talking about that.

SIDNER: Of course.

BERMAN: He was serious.

SIDNER: Of course, that's what we're talking.

BERMAN: Thank you --

BOLDUAN: Can they condensation?

BERMAN: Thank you all -- you are so condensation.

BOLDUAN: Yes, and so got it.

BERMAN: Thank you all for joining us. This has been CNN NEWS CENTRAL. "INSIDE POLITICS" is up next.