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Now: Biden Meets With China's Xi In Effort To Ease Tensions; Israel Raids Gaza's Largest Hospital; UN, W.H.O. Condemn Israel Operation At Gaza Hospital; Biden Faces Warning Sign From Critical Young Voters. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 15, 2023 - 15:00   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Happening right now, a rare face-to-face that could change the world order. President Biden and China's Xi Jinping meeting in California. Biden saying he wants to get the two world powers back on a "normal course" after a rocky year. We'll go there live.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Plus, Israeli troops raid Gaza's largest hospital after accusing Hamas of operating in the tunnels beneath it. Meantime, the conditions in the hospital are deteriorating fast. Its director saying that their newborn babies are in "severe danger."

And controversial border bill would make it a state crime to cross into Texas illegally. Opponents are concerned Latinos will be racially profiled. Well, it's now heading to Gov. Abbott's desk.

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

KEILAR: Happening now, the leaders of the two largest economies are sitting face-to-face as the world faces some of the most turbulent issues in modern times. President Biden now speaking with China's Xi Jinping in a historic estate south of San Francisco and their conversation is expected to last for hours in a meeting that took months of preparation to set up.

President Biden offered words of welcome to Xi just moments ago. Both men acknowledging how critical cooperation is between these two global powers.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We also have a responsibility to our people and the work - and the world to work together when we see it in our interest to do so.

And the critical global challenges we face, from climate change to counternarcotics to artificial intelligence, demand our joint efforts.

So, I look forward to beginning this discussion. And I welcome you. (END VIDEO CLIP)

KEILAR: All right. Let's go now to CNN's MJ Lee. She is in California traveling along with this critical trip. MJ, give us some more details about this highly anticipated meeting.

MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brianna, what was pretty remarkable there as the two leaders sat down to head into their series of bilateral meetings was hearing the two leaders really speak in agreement, at least in concept, about this notion of the two countries needing to avoid unnecessary conflict.

You heard the President's comments there; he also said that he doesn't watch misconceptions or miscommunication. And President Xi very much echoing that sentiment; he said conflict and confrontation between the two countries has unbearable consequences. This is more of what President Xi had to say.


XI JINPING, PRESIDENT OF CHINA (through interpreter): One's success is an opportunity for the other. It is an objective fact that China and the United States are different in history, culture, social system and development path. However, as long as they respect each other, coexist in peace, and pursue win-win cooperation, they will be fully capable of rising above differences and find the right way for the two major countries to get along with each other. I firmly believe in the promising future of the bilateral relationship.


LEE: And we heard President Biden saying that he believes there's simply no substitute for a face-to-face meeting of this kind. And as you said, this meeting that we are seeing take place is really the culmination of months of behind-the-scenes efforts by U.S. officials really to try to convince their Chinese counterparts on the need for something to change.


And what we were told in the days leading up to the summit is that U.S. officials got a good amount of reluctance from their Chinese counterparts on some aspects of what they were trying to convince them on, including on the issue of reestablishing that military-to-military communication. But we were also interestingly told that in the big picture, they did sort of start to sense a growing recognition from Beijing that something did need to change in terms of the U.S.-China relations.

Now, we'll see coming out of this meeting later today whether there are specific deliverables that come out of this summit. Of course, U.S. officials have very much been managing the expectations. But one key question that a senior U.S. official raised this week was whether China's engagement in this summit this week represents sort of their short-term view or whether we are seeing Beijing's interest in there being a permanent and long-term change to U.S.-China relations. KEILAR: Yes, very, very important. We'll be waiting to see. It's so important to find out.

MJ Lee, live for us from California, thank you. Pamela?

BROWN: Brianna, we are tracking a day's long raid - a day-long raid, we should say, at the biggest hospital in Gaza. Israel says the controversial military operation at al-Shifa has provided them with "concrete evidence" that Hamas was using the hospital as a command center. As images of damage and panic inside the hospital emerge, the Israel Defense Forces have begun presenting their case in the face of harsh condemnation from the U.N., the World Health Organization, and medical officials in Gaza.

Earlier today, Hamas said the hospital complex is now fully in Israel's hands. The WHO said it has lost contact with the facility.

Let's bring in CNN's Nada Bashir in Jerusalem.

Nada, any more details about the evidence the IDF claims it has?

NADA BASHIR, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, the IDF has long held that they believe a Hamas command and control center was positioned in the basement of the al-Shifa Hospital. Following that overnight raid, Israeli defense officials have released further details around the evidence they believe they have uncovered at the al-Shifa Hospital.

They say they found evidence of weapons, of military equipment, as well as technological assets which they have attributed to Hamas. And, of course, it is important to underscore that CNN has been unable to independently verify these claims to Hamas. And doctors on the ground at al-Shifa have long rejected allegations of a Hamas presence at the al-Shifa Hospital.

And as we know, of course, there is a huge amount of concern over the safety and security of patients inside the hospital as this raid takes place. As we know, of course, the Israeli Defense Force has said that it is focused on uncovering Hamas positions. It is focused on prioritizing the safety of civilians.

But as we have seen over the last few days and particularly today amid that ongoing raid, we have seen Israeli bombardment edging closer to the premises of the al-Shifa Hospital complex. One doctor speaking to CNN overnight, describing the shelling as edging closer and closer to the hospital, shaking the walls of the hospital complex. You could hear the gunfire in his voice recording as well. So there is a huge amount of concern.

You mentioned there the condemnation from the United Nations. We've heard from the U.N.'s humanitarian relief coordinator describing the military raid as appalling, saying that hospitals should not be turned into battlegrounds, and calling on both sides to prioritize the safety and security of patients and civilians, as well as medical staff inside the hospital.

As we know, there are some 1,500 patients and medical staff in the hospital right now, believed to be, according to officials, on the ground, as well as hundreds of other civilians who are taking shelter on the hospital complex. And there have been calls for civilians to evacuate. But the warning, the message that we've been hearing from doctors, from hospital officials, is that it is near impossible to evacuate patients and civilians in the current conditions.

With the current bombardment around the al-Shifa complex, it simply isn't secure enough for civilians. Doctors from Doctors Without Borders have described sniper fire being experienced as people are trying to move between different buildings on the very large al-Shifa complex. And as we know, many of those patients require specialist medical care. And the humanitarian situation has been deteriorating. They are now unable to provide the care that is necessary.

And of course, in order to evacuate many of these patients, they require specialist medical evacuations, which have not been offered with no safe guarantees either for that evacuation. Pamela?

BROWN: Nada Bashir, thank you.

Let's go to Ed Lavandera in Tel Aviv.

Ed, yesterday, there was chatter from the White House about Israel and Hamas inching closer to a deal to release hostages.


Where do you think stand on that front?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we haven't heard any clear movement to the good news of hostages being released alive, even though President Biden did express some optimism yesterday that a deal would be done. But exactly what that deal would look like isn't entirely clear for what we have learned from various sources here in Israel and in the U.S. as well, that the broad parameters of this negotiation could involve the exchange of a large number, of hostages being held by Hamas, not all of them, but a large number in exchange for a day's long ceasefire. But the specific details simply haven't been revealed.

And all of this is unfolding as the families of these hostages continue to try to mount pressure from around the world to get the focus back on these hostages, to get them released safely. There is a long march from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem that is currently taking place with the families of hostage members, so a great deal of concern there.

We also learned, just to kind of add more details to just how simply distressing this is for so many of these families, in a letter that the first lady of Israel, Sara Netanyahu, wrote to first lady in the U.S., Jill Biden. In that letter it was included the details that Israel has learned of a hostage that has given birth to a baby while in custody there in Gaza.

So clearly the urgency of this moment is not lost on the hundreds of family members who are desperately waiting for news as to how all of this will unfold. But the negotiations are moving painstakingly slow. And it's not exactly clear, given the military operations that are unfolding inside of Gaza, how this will play out in the days ahead. Pamela?

BROWN: Pamela Madera, thank you.

For more on the humanitarian crisis that's unfolding, we are joined by the Executive Director of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in the U.S., Mara Kronenfeld.

Mara, thanks for coming on.

There has been so much talk about the state of hospitals in Gaza. Obviously, there was this raid there at the hospital that started yesterday, so it's a day long raid. Can you tell us about the conditions there, what the patients and medical staff, how they're doing? As we heard Nada Bashir say, there are about 1,500 patients and medical staff at that hospital.

MARA KRONENFELD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, UNRWA USA: Yes. The conditions, I mean, in Gaza generally and across the Strip and particularly at this hospital, Shifa, are deplorable conditions. And I have heard some of the folks you've interviewed talk about the conditions. What I'd like to add to this is that communication is cut off. So truthfully, we don't know what's going on inside the hospital, except through the lens of the Israeli soldiers there.

Their - that communication cutoff has both been probably because communication is cut off by those soldiers entering, but also there's a lack of fuel. So al-Shifa Hospital has been running on fuel-powered generators because the electricity has been cut off in the siege. And we know in the last 24 hours, very little communication has gotten through.

Yes, there are patients, hundreds of patients, doctors and there are many people who sought shelter there ahead of this raid. And we know that, as was indicated, again, by those you've interviewed, there have been sniper shots at those who've been trying to leave or go between buildings.

This is not just over the last 24 hours. This is over the last couple of days. And that there are so many bodies to bury that they can't safely take away from the hospital. So they've been forced to bury these bodies in the hospital compound, which we all know is an incredibly - is very unsafe for the spread of disease. This is deplorable conditions that we cannot even imagine here sitting in our homes.

BROWN: You mentioned the fuel. Earlier today, a truck was able to deliver fuel from Egypt to UNRWA, but its use has been restricted by Israeli authorities because of fears that would - the fuel would be used by Hamas. What can you tell us about the delivery of humanitarian aid in the region?

KRONENFELD: Yes, so that fuel is very limited. We know we need 160,000 liters of fuel to power the desalination plants that now have either stopped running or will be stopped running very soon, and to power hospitals and to power bakeries, to let bakeries bake bread. We are at a catastrophic situation in terms of fuel. The only fuel that's let in that UNRWA has access to is for the trucks that UNRWA uses to deliver humanitarian aid, which actually the aid coming in, it's approximately an average of 35 trucks a day is a drop of aid in an ocean of need.


There were previous to this conflict, 500 trucks going into Gaza with needed goods and humanitarian food, medicine and other supplies. Approximately 35 trucks a day is not enough to serve the need. Something really spoke to me in your previous interview. Somebody said with concern, which I agree with, that one of the hostages is giving - has given birth or is giving birth right now and that it's horrific to think about.

And I also want to add that it's horrific to think about 50,000 pregnant women in the Gaza Strip right now, 180 on average are giving birth a day under conditions which, again, are catastrophic and in which water is running out. By today, tomorrow, there will be a lack of water for 270,000 internally displaced humans in Gaza.

BROWN: Yes, I can't imagine. As a pregnant woman myself, I just - I can't imagine the conditions for these women who are giving birth there. And speaking of the babies that are being born, there's a big concern about - especially transporting some of these premature babies, right? Incubators getting in, respirators getting in, being delivered by Israel.

Can you give us an update on that, whether those resources have been delivered to help these babies?

KRONENFELD: Yes, I don't know and I do know - I don't know if any of those instruments are able to get in or not. God, I hope they can. I do know that without electricity, we can't - incubators cannot be run and we've all seen images of babies at al-Shifa Hospital out of incubators with aluminum foil and other sort of temporary means to protect them. It is just unfathomable to think of what folks are going through right now, what civilians are facing.

And I worry very much this - al-Shifa is one of the oldest and largest hospitals in Gaza and was one of the few functioning hospitals after electricity has been cut and fuel has run out. People have nowhere left to go. If they tried to get out of that hospital, they're getting out in unsafe conditions. Even 102 of my colleagues at UNRWA have been killed, 70 percent of those below the Wadi Gaza line in the south.

We have over 50 UNRWA installations have been hit, have been damaged. There is no safe place in Gaza right now. And hitting any U.N. installation is a violation of international humanitarian law. UNRWA's guest house, the U.N. guest house in the south of Gaza was hit directly the day before yesterday. International human - international law is not being upheld right now.

BROWN: Mara Kronenfeld, thank you for coming on.

KRONENFELD: Thank you.

BROWN: Still to come this hour, more warning signs for President Biden's reelection campaign. He may be losing support among young voters.

And closing arguments in the trial of the man who is charged with attacking Paul Pelosi with a hammer.

You're watching CNN NEWS CENTRAL and we're going to be right back.



KEILAR: In the race for 2024, President Biden is facing an uphill battle with a block of voters that was critical to putting him in the White House, talking about young voters in Georgia.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny asked some of them why they're less inclined to support Biden this time.



KERRY SINGLETON, STUDENT, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: People may not vote because they all say, well, this happened under the Biden-Harris administration.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice over): As Kerry Singleton looks ahead to the next presidential election, he's thinking back to the promises he heard President Biden and Vice President Harris deliver on a visit to Atlanta.


BIDEN: Pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Pass it now.


ZELENY (voice over): On that winter day, the president was closing in on his first year in office. Hopes were high for Singleton and other students on the grounds of Clark Atlanta University and Morehouse College. Since then, voting rights legislation stalled. The Supreme Court rejected a student loan forgiveness plan and high prices from food to housing are fueling economic anxieties.


SINGLETON: I do think that everyone is willing to hold the administration accountable for some of those promises that were made. And if they don't happen, I think it's going to be a scary election.

(END VIDEO CLIP) ZELENY (voice over): For all of the warning signs facing the president a year before the election, the skepticism and apathy of young voters rank high.


SEN. NABILAH ISLAM PARKES (D-GA): Folks just feel poorer right now than they did two years ago. There is going to have to be a lot of conversations about how we feel like our issues are being heard.


ZELENY (voice over): Nabilah Islam Parkes is the young woman to win a seat in the Georgia Senate. In 2020, she went door-to-door in the Atlanta suburbs, joining a coalition to help Biden turn the state blue. That coalition, she said, could fracture by the president's handling of the Israel-Hamas War.


PARKES: I think that young voters recognize you can't bomb your way to peace and security. And so we do feel uncomfortable with that.


ZELENY (voiceover): Rachael Carroll's (ph) first vote for president went to Biden. She said she doesn't regret it given the alternative, but finds herself disappointed by some priorities of the White House.


RACHAEL CARROLL, GEORGIA VOTER: If they can fund a war, they can fund the money to pay off our student loans.


ZELENY (voice over): Young voters were a critical component of the president's victory, particularly here in Georgia, where Biden defeated Donald Trump by only 11,779 votes out of nearly 5 million cast. Exit polls in 2020 show that voters 18 to 29 made up 20 percent of the Georgia electorate, the only state of the top six battlegrounds where the percentage of young voters exceeded the national share of 17 percent.

Biden won young Georgia voters by 13 points, according to exit polls. But now, a year before the 2024 election, surveys show a far closer race with voters under the age of 30 here in Georgia split 46 percent for Trump and 44 percent for Biden, according to a New York Times/Siena College poll.



AYLON GIPSON, STUDENT, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: The excitement is not as high as it was last time. (END VIDEO CLIP)

ZELENY (voice over): Aylon Gipson and some of his classmates wish they had more inspirational and generational choices.


GIPSON: We have to pick between two different people who are very, very old and up in age.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We would like to see Biden pass the baton.


ZELENY: The vice president, whose college tour brought her back on campus this fall, resonates more.


CHRISTOPHER LAMBRY, STUDENT, MOREHOUSE COLLEGE: I think she sparks that energy. She's like - when she came to Morehouse, it was fun. I felt her passion.


ZELENY (voice over): But with Biden at the top of the ticket, potentially facing a rematch of the 2020 race, voters say the burden rests on him to deliver on his promises and not take their support for granted.


SINGLETON: Just as well as we hold Trump accountable, we have to hold Biden accountable.



ZELENY (on camera): And some of the biggest achievements of the Biden administration, the infrastructure law, the Inflation Reduction Act, even lowering prescription drugs, simply do not resonate as loudly with the younger voters we talk to, Brianna. There's no doubt the Biden campaign realizes that it has its work cut out for them. They said that it's a deeply consequential elections for younger Americans, and they will work to show that contrast between what they call the MAGA agenda and President Biden.

Again, if Trump becomes the Republican nominee, they look forward to that contrast. But some voters, we spoke to look forward to hearing more and seeing more from President Biden. Brianna?

KEILAR: Jeff Zeleny, thanks for that report. Pamela?

BROWN: Well, hearing just ended in Atlanta that sought to seal evidence in a case where Donald Trump would not be able to pardon himself. Fulton County, Georgia D.A. Fani Willis has accused the former president and 19 others of racketeering and 2020 election interference. Willis is reacting to the leak of footage showing defendants who cut deals, speaking to investigators, they are known as proffer videos, and they were part of a plea deal for attorneys Jenna Ellis, Sidney Powell, Kenneth Chesebro and bail bondsman Scott Hall.

CNN's Nick Valencia is right outside the courthouse in Atlanta.

So, Nick, the hearing just ended. What happened?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, prosecutors and defense attorneys have agreed in principle to a protective order where prosecutors will have to designate what they believe is sensitive materials in this pretrial discovery material, and defense attorneys will have 14 days to respond.

I should mention the judge here, Judge McAfee, he hasn't yet made a ruling from the bench, and today was no different. But listen to him talk about what a protective order could look like in this case.


JUDGE SCOTT MCAFEE, FULTON COUNTY, GA SUPERIOR COURT: The state originally had proposed what I would characterize as a blanket umbrella protective order with just essentially anything and everything that's turned over that wasn't already public or wasn't already part of the defense file was going to be held under seal. Whereas my reading of the - Mr. Shafer's proposed order, is that there's going to be this intermediary designation of something's going to be sensitive, and then that's going to be what's not allowed to be turned over, so it's not everything. Is that a fair read of that, Mr. Wade (ph)?

WADE: It is, Judge.


VALENCIA: This case has been, in one word, bizarre, with a lot of twists and turns, and today was another chapter in that. The attorney for Misty Hampton, one of the co-defendants in this, admitted to being the source of the leak of the videos to the media. Of course, Misty Hampton, one of those co-defendants, is alleged to have helped Trump operatives illegally access voting equipment in rural Coffee County.

Her attorney, Jonathan Miller, saying in open court that he was the source of the videos, saying that the public has a right to know. That argument, though, was not enough to sway the judge in this, indicating that he is going to put a protective order in case this case has really dragged on, and Fani Willis seemed to predict that it will continue to drag on, saying it will go into the 2024 election cycle and perhaps well into 2025.

It is worth noting, Pamela, that there still is not a trial date scheduled for the former president in this case. Pamela?

BROWN: All right. Nick Valencia, thanks so much. Well, a Texas border bill that makes it a state crime to enter illegally is now heading to Gov. Abbott's desk for his signature. Critics say it will lead to racial profiling of Latinos. We are live in Houston, up next.