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Humanitarian Group: Al-Quds Now Out Of Service; Crossfire On Israel Lebanon Border Intensifies; Netanyahu: Blame For Civilian Death Squarely On Hamas, Aired 3-4p ET

Aired November 12, 2023 - 15:00   ET



OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN HOST: Hey, everyone, thanks for joining me. I'm Omar Jimenez sitting in for Fredricka Whitfield.

We begin in Gaza where an urgent humanitarian crisis is worsening as Israel continues its ground war against Hamas. The situation is growing more desperate for Gaza's health care system. The Palestine Red Crescent Society said Gaza's second largest hospital Al-Quds is now out of service due to the depletion of fuel and power outages.

Many medical centers in Gaza have become shelters for thousands of people displaced by the fighting. Israel Defense Forces opened a seven-hour evacuation corridor at the Al-Shifa medical complex, Gaza's largest and for the first time since Thursday, foreign nationals were able to evacuate Gaza at the Rafah border crossing in Egypt. Those crossings, however limited to only a pre-approved list.

Nine Palestinian patients were also allowed into Egypt for treatment. CNN's Ed Lavandera and Ben Wedeman are monitoring the latest on the ground for us. Ed, I want to go to you first.

The IDF says it is trying to help Gaza's sick and injured get to safety, but what are you hearing?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, we had Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on CNN this morning saying that there is no reason why that shouldn't be able to happen. We so far have not had any confirmation that this offer by Israel Defense Forces to remove children and babies from the Al-Shifa Hospital, which is right there in the heart of Gaza City, whether or not that has come to fruition today. As you mentioned, there were a number of people who were allowed to leave through the Rafah crossing in southern Gaza into Egypt and that included nine Palestinians, which were four adults and five children that needed medical treatment.

That ups the number of Palestinians who have been able to leave Gaza into Egypt to 129 so far, but despite all of this, we know that intense fighting around that Al-Shifa Hospital has continued throughout the day. This has been an area of intense focus where the Israeli military says that the underground complex of tunnels in this area around Al-Shifa Hospital has been, and they've said this for years, they believe to be one of the primary areas where the Hamas military fighters are able to operate out of, and that is why they are focusing so much on this.

Now there is some question as to just how much of a siege has been laid to that hospital. Officials there at the hospital have told CNN over the last couple of days that the fighting in and around the hospital has been intense. The IDF here in Israel says that the hospital is not under siege, but that they have been engaged in serious fighting around that.

But this also comes at a time where there is growing skepticism as to whether or not the Israeli strategy of militarily going after Hamas with this kind of intensity is going to come at the expense of hostages. There's a large gathering of people here in Tel Aviv, Saturday, urging for more to be done to release the hostages, some groups and some representatives of families saying that victory in this war in Israel should not be measured by the assassination of Hamas leaders and military leaders there on the ground, but should be measured by the saving of the hostages that are in Hamas custody right now.

So you know, some growing skepticism that we've heard from families of these hostages -- family members of the of the hostages saying that they are concerned that this strategy could come at the expense of their loved ones.

JIMENEZ: Yes, and we've seen some protests saying or criticizing the Israeli government of not doing enough, so that's the situation we will continue to monitor there.

CNN's Ben Wedeman is in southern Lebanon for us, and Ben, when we spoke yesterday, you said you had heard signs of conflict, of rocket fire of sorts in the distance. How much of an escalation are you seeing there today?

BEN WEDEMAN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It's been a continuation, Omar, of the escalation that really began yesterday. Yesterday, according to the official news agency here in Lebanon was the most intense day since the eighth of October in when it comes to cross border exchanges of fire.


Today, we know that there were multiple Hezbollah strikes on Israeli military positions. Also Hamas, the military wing, their people based in Lebanon, claimed to have fired rockets in the direction of the Israeli town of Nahariya, the biggest town near the border and also to the city of Haifa.

Now, we actually heard some of that outgoing fire, and we saw several interceptions by the Iron Dome system. There was also a strike on some Israeli vehicles on the other side of the border where several civilians were injured. Also, reports of another strike that left several Israelis wounded.

So definitely, there does seem to be an escalation arising of the tensions, and there does seem to be an escalation in the Israeli rhetoric, threats of action. Yesterday, of course, I think I told you that Yoav Gallant, the Israeli Defense Minister was speaking to a group of soldiers on the other side of the border. He said that what we're doing in Gaza, we can also do in Beirut.

This evening, there was a briefing by the chief spokesman for the Israeli military. And he said, I'll just read this: That the IDF has operative plans to change the security situation in the north. The security situation will not remain such that residents of the north will not feel safe to return to their homes.

So this certainly sets the scene for something much more dramatic than what we've seen since the eighth of October, and for instance, earlier this evening, we were hearing for the first time, drones literally over our head in the city of Tyre, where it is about 20 kilometers, I think that's 13 miles from the border with Israel says there's definitely growing concern here that worse is yet to come -- Omar.

JIMENEZ: Ben Wedeman in southern Lebanon, Ed Lavandera in Tel Aviv, thank you so much.

I'm joined now by Chris Christie. He's a candidate for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination and the former governor of New Jersey.

Governor Christie, good to see you.

You met with Israeli President Isaac Herzog today, what can you tell us about your meeting and what was discussed?

CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, we discussed the current state of the war. We discussed American involvement and support. We discussed the situation with the hostages that are being held and we talked about the atrocities here that I've been able to see firsthand during my visit here today.

JIMENEZ: And you've also been meeting with, as I understand some survivors and family of those affected as well, right?

CHRISTIE: Yes, I met with -- I met with two survivors. One young woman, 23 years old shot in a bomb shelter who survived only because she was covered by other dead bodies.


CHRISTIE: I met with two families of hostages today. I have this dog tag for that 19-year-old young man who, whose family I met with tonight. His father has spent time in New Jersey, lived in New Jersey for a long time.

And you know, those folks are suffering. They've been suffering now for 37 days, not knowing if their loved ones are alive or dead, not knowing if they're being cared for. It's an extraordinary situation.

JIMENEZ: Yes, we just we just spoke to a brother of someone or someone who has a brother that is currently being held hostage, and he talked about how difficult it has been up to this point. Now, look, we're in the middle of this conflict in the fighting right now, but today on CNN, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as far as solutions for post-fighting, pushed back on the idea of the Palestinian Authority running Gaza, and said any solution, we need to have an overriding and overreaching Israeli military envelope.

Do you agree with Prime Minister Netanyahu's assessment there? I mean, what do you propose or think is going to happen here?

CHRISTIE: I think it's too early to make that determination, Omar. I understand that the Prime Minister is focused exclusively now on the war, on degrading Hamas' ability to ever do this, again; protecting the territorial integrity and the safety and security of the people of Israel.

But look, I don't see any long line of folks looking to volunteer to take over Gaza from Hamas. This is I think, going to be a diplomatic solution that's going to need to come to by all the interested parties, at a time when the war is finally concluded.

But first and foremost, you have to protect the safety and security of the people of Israel and you have to degrade Hamas because Hamas -- and believe me, I spent today spending 40 minutes watching a video of the atrocities that were committed by Hamas that day.


And I will tell you what struck me the most, Omar, it wasn't just the inhumanity of what they were doing -- chopping off heads, burning people alive, but it was the joy they took in it.

They have video of one terrorist, calling his mother saying your son killed 10 Jews with his own hands. Your son's a hero. As long as there are folks like that in Hamas who are focused on wiping Israel off the map and killing the Jewish people, a discussion of what happens in Gaza after the war has to take a backseat at the moment to eliminating Hamas' ability to threaten the lives of the people of Israel again.

And so, you know, the prime minister will have a lot of time to think about the post-war period when it comes. But I think right now, task one is making sure that Hamas' capability is degraded and protecting the safety and security of the Israeli people.

JIMENEZ: And that's among one of the multiple dynamics going on right now. Of course, there's a military campaign to weed out and eliminate Hamas on the side of the IDF, but also trying to rescue some of these hostages.

I want to go back to a little bit after October 7th, you said, a little less than two weeks after the October 7th attack, you said providing aid to civilians in Gaza was a very, very low priority and that the focus at that point needed to be on militarily and financially helping Israel.

Obviously, since then, we've seen a level of civilians killed by the thousands up to this point, do you still believe humanitarian aid is a low priority in comparison to the Israeli military's needs?

CHRISTIE: I still believe that, yes. I think if you're prioritizing those things, Omar, the most important thing is for us to provide financial assistance and military hardware to the Israelis, so they can do what they need to do in Gaza, regarding the terrorists who attacked them and killed over 1,200 of their civilians.

Now, no one likes civilian death of anyone, whether it's Israeli or Palestinian, but let's remember this, two things. First, there was a ceasefire on October 6th, Omar, and it was Hamas that broke that ceasefire with their attacks on October 7th.

And secondly, Israel has done much to try to get Palestinians moved from the area where the battling is going to be to the southern part of Gaza. It is Hamas that is refusing to let many of those people go to the southern part of Gaza because they want to use them as human shields.

I believe that Hamas cares less about Palestinian civilian life than Israel does. And so, you know, Hamas has to take responsibility for this, they can be helping their civilians significantly, and we saw a report just today that Israel sends fuel to run the Al-Shifa Hospital, and that Hamas refused to accept it.

You can't complain about not being able to run the incubators and the life support systems at a hospital and then turn down fuel that's being sent by the Israelis to be able to work those pieces of equipment.

So Hamas is the hypocrite here, and that is why I think, the top priority has to be aiding Israel so that we can put an end to this as quickly as possible.

JIMENEZ: And this topic was posed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he was on our air a little bit earlier today on the topic of whether they've been doing enough to protect some of the civilians that have been killed or at least minimize the civilians that were killed.

Take a listen to what he told Dana Bash.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER: Were trying to minimize civilian casualties. As a result of our ground action, I think the number of civilian casualties is actually being reduced because people are heeding our calls to leave the area and defying Hamas' attempt to keep them there, and we'll do everything in our power to do that.


JIMENEZ; Now, even with that, Secretary of State Antony Blinken has said far too many Palestinians have been killed. Do you agree with the secretary of State there?

CHRISTIE: Look, I think that any loss of civilian life is tragic, and should be avoided at all costs. But Omar, we need to make sure that Hamas cannot use these civilians as a shield to prevent them from having their military capabilities degraded.

They've shown on October 7th and the days afterwards, that they will use missiles, they will come by air, sea, and land in an attempt to kill Israeli citizens and we can't permit that to continue to happen, Omar.

So, you know, this is always very, very difficult, but I do believe that Israel is trying to do everything it can to avoid the loss of civilian life both in Gaza and in Israel.


JIMENEZ: Now here in the US, obviously, there is a budget fight that's really just beginning as we head towards a government shutdown, but as far as the plan that was released, the bills don't provide any funding for Israel or Ukraine, which you've also visited over the course of this past year.

What message do you believe, again, not the final version, but still, what message do you believe that these initial versions sends to our foreign allies?

CHRISTIE: Not a good one, Omar. And I think that candidly, we have to continue to play the role in the world we've always played, because if we don't, the evil foursome will fill in our vacuum that we leave, and I mean, China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

And let me tell you, when I went to a military installation today -- installation here today, I saw weapons that were from North Korea, weapons that were from Iran, and weapons that were from Russia. If leaders in Congress don't understand that all of these things are connected and that American dismissal of our role in any of these instances occur encourages more of them, not fewer of them, we need to send a very clear message by supporting Israel and supporting Ukraine.

And believe me, Vladimir Putin is happy about what is going on here in Israel and in Gaza, because he hopes that it will distract certain American leaders who believe that filling the moat and pulling up the drawbridge is the way that America should conduct itself.

I believe exactly the opposite. We have to be able to lead the free world. It is the price we pay for being the richest and freest country the world has ever known, and if we want to remain the richest and freest country the world's ever known, we have to engage with our allies around the world. That has always been the formula for American success both at home and abroad, and any suggestion to the contrary, made by anyone in Congress, or anywhere else in our political system, is damaging America's standing in the world, and damaging our future for success.

JIMENEZ: Now, you're running to be the Republican presidential nominee in a race where former President Trump has been the clear frontrunner up to this point. I want you to take a listen to what he said yesterday as he spoke to military veterans on Veterans Day. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: In honor of our great veterans on Veterans Day, we pledge to you that we will root out the communists, Marxists, fascists, and the radical left thugs that live like vermin within the confines of our country that lie and steal and cheat on elections.


JIMENEZ: Now, I know you haven't been shy about your relationship with Trump these days, but what does that say to you in a time like this about what a second Trump presidency would be about?

CHRISTIE: Well, I mean, look, I think it's quite frankly, laughable that Donald Trump would accuse anyone else of lying, stealing, and cheating. His entire conduct from election night 2020 forward has been about lying to the American people, trying to steal the election, and now being charged criminally with that, and cheating the American people out of our democracy. That's what he's doing.

So if he wants to talk about a liar, a thief, and a cheater; he is a liar, a thief, and a cheater, and that's what he is and the facts show that. And for everyone out there who is considering, you know, voting in the Republican primaries coming up, I want you to remember something, he is going to trial the day before Super Tuesday for his actions in trying to block and overturn the 2020 election results.

And now, he has got Mark Meadows, his former chief-of-staff, who has signed an immunity deal with the government to testify that Donald Trump committed crimes right before him, that Donald Trump was lying from election night forward, and knew he was lying.

This is not some rogue left-wing prosecutor. This is not some product of the two-tiered system of justice that Donald Trump complains and moans like a child about. This is the guy who is one of the founders of the Freedom Caucus from North Carolina. This is the guy who was his chief-of-staff and who he called the next James Baker.

Now I want to see when he is sitting 20 feet away from Donald Trump in a courtroom, how Donald Trump's going to respond to that, but let me tell you as someone who ran the fifth largest prosecuting office in this country for seven years, and had 130 and oh record of political corruption cases, Donald Trump is going to be convicted this spring of these crimes, and we cannot, as the Republican Party, have a felon as our nominee.

Nikki Haley, Ron DeSantis, Tim Scott, and Vivek Ramaswamy all raised their hand at the first debate and said they would support someone even if they were a convicted felon. I'm the only one left on the stage who did not because I believe our standards have to be much higher for the person who sits in the Oval Office.

[15:20:08] JIMENEZ: And as far as debates go, obviously, the threshold jumps to at least 80,000 unique donors along with a polling threshold of at least six percent in an early voting state. Have you all hit that donor threshold? I mean, are you confident that you'll be on the next debate stage?

CHRISTIE: I'm confident that you'll see me in Tuscaloosa, Alabama on the campus of the University of Alabama for the next debate.

JIMENEZ: Well, we will see. Keep us posted once you hit that donor threshold. Safe trip back and I'll see you out on the campaign trail.

Former Governor Chris Christie thanks so much.

CHRISTIE: Thank you for having me, Omar.

JIMENEZ: We'll be right back.


JIMENEZ: Tomorrow, Donald Trump will launch his defense in the civil fraud trial against him, his two adult sons, and his business. The Trumps are accused of defrauding lenders and insurers to enrich themselves. They will attempt to convince Judge Arthur Engoron that they didn't intend to do anything wrong and the judge will determine potential damages on a claim that he previously ruled was an act of fraud along with six other claims brought by New York's attorney general.


Judge Engoron will also determine whether to ban the Trump family from doing business in New York state.

So for more legal perspective on this, I'm joined now by Harry Litman, former US attorney and former deputy assistant attorney general.

So Harry, obviously, this is the beginning of the defense's chance to make their case. What does the defense need to do day one, as they call their first witness?

HARRY LITMAN, FORMER US ATTORNEY: Well, the first thing to keep in mind, Omar, is I think the defense has already concluded they're going to lose in front of Engoron, and so their lookout already, I believe, will be on appeal.

We have a very good idea just from what's happened to date about what they're going to say. They're going to say, hey, the banks got paid back or banks don't really care, or we have this little disclaimer that tells them don't listen to anything we say. But all of those, I think fall by the wayside, given that the New York charge here is making a false statement, and that's enough as long as you profited from it, which the Trump team did.

One other wildcard I think they'll try to play, they will try to get under Engoron's skin and as things go on and on, if they don't have other -- if they don't make other headway, I think you can really expect to see them, try to make him explode in a way that could serve up an issue on appeal that he was biased.

So I think that's what they'll see, but the important thing to keep in mind is they're looking already toward their rights on appeal.

JIMENEZ: So at this point, we know Donald Trump, Jr., the eldest son will be the first defense witness. He previously testified that he deferred to the company's accounting and legal departments for accuracy on financial statements.

So how might tomorrow be different in terms of testimony and demeanor essentially, as being called for as a witness for the defense as opposed to the state?

LITMAN: So just in general, the defense gets to ask him what they want to ask him. So they'll be able to really get him and they'll have prepared him to really round out the themes he wants of having no personal knowledge.

On the other hand, the AG will then be able to cross him and ask very pointed yes or no questions that he'll have to answer. So the testimony will differ on both sides, but I think what we'll see is more of what he said in the first time he testified, which is I didn't pay any attention to this, I didn't know anything, and I'm -- you know, I just relied on the accountants.

JIMENEZ: And you know, one thing you mentioned in your first answer about some of the strategies they may tend to go for, if they don't think that they're going to win here. Trump's lawyer has signaled this week that they intend to file a motion for a mistrial. How likely is it that that effort would actually succeed? Or do you just see this as another flail of sorts in what would be at this point a losing effort?

LITMAN: Right now, it's a flail of sorts. They are focusing in, Omar, on this issue with the judge's law clerk who they say is biased, but as certainly court judges on the court of appeals will know, you use law clerks however you like.

If however, you know, when Trump was testifying, and was absolutely savaging the judge himself, not to mention the AG and the lawyer, I think they were hoping maybe we would get a rise out of him that would make it more concrete, but what they have now, in terms of a mistrial, I think won't go anywhere. And it's just as you say, another thing to just flail at the best you can and hope for the best on appeal.

JIMENEZ: We will see what happens.

Harry Litman, don't go far. I'm sure we'll bring you back. Thank you so much.

LITMAN: Thanks, Omar.

JIMENEZ: Coming up, as new House Speaker Mike Johnson becomes the point person for passing trillions of dollars in government spending, his own personal finances are now in the spotlight. What we know after the break.



JIMENEZ: House Republicans are pursuing a two-step plan to avoid another government shutdown this week. The newly elected House Speaker Mike Johnson announced a proposal to his GOP conference on Saturday, which extends government funding at its current levels, but doesn't include aid for Ukraine.

The White House Calls Johnson's two-step approach "a recipe for more Republican chaos." This comes as Mike Johnson is facing questions about his personal finances. His most recent financial disclosures haven't reported any assets or even a checking account.

Actually, he reports no assets at all beyond his house.

CNN's Sunlen Serfaty has more.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Freshly minted Speaker of the House Mike Johnson facing questions over how he keeps his own financial house in order.

REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): Look, I'm a man of modest means.

SERFATY (voice over): CNN's review of Johnson's personal financial disclosures and campaign financial documents since coming to Congress in 2017 revealed that the new speaker appears to be living paycheck to paycheck.

Financial records show that Johnson like many Americans does not appear to have much of a safety net. For the past two years he has not reported any assets and has never even reported a checking account on financial disclosure forms.

The Speaker's Office says he has a personal bank account, which is exempt from House reporting rules because it is non-interest bearing, meaning he does not have to disclose this type of account under House rules.

While it's unknown how much is in that account, a source with knowledge of his financial situation tells CNN that account is not big enough to be leaving large sums of money in interest on the table.

All of this as Johnson's liabilities are plenty. A mortgage for his family home valued between $250,000.00 and $500,000.00.


A personal loan from 2016 between $15,000.00 and $50,000.00, and a home equity line of credit taken in 2019 for less than $50,000.00.

As a congressman, Johnson was making $174,000.00 a year. His salary will now jump to $223,500.00 as speaker, and he has made over $100,000.00 teaching online courses at Liberty University since 2018. Last year alone, Johnson collected nearly $30,000.00 from the college.

On Capitol Hill, to save money on steep DC rent, Johnson is one of the many members of Congress that sleep in their offices. A source with knowledge says the speaker will continue sleeping in his office for now, but did not know if that will always be the plan going forward.

JOHNSON: There are a lot of things on the minds of the American people.

SERFATY (voice over): Johnson's financial standing in stark contrast to many of his colleagues on Capitol Hill, with the median net worth of his colleagues in 2018, at just over $1 million. Some former speakers have done well, Nancy Pelosi is worth more than $110 million.

Before coming to Congress in 2017, Johnson was a lawyer. In 2016, he reported making over $200,000.00.

JOHNSON: I was a lawyer, but I did constitutional law and most of my career has been in the nonprofit sector.

SERFATY (voice over): And has said that much of his money goes to taking care of his large family.

JOHNSON: We have four kids, five now that are very active and have kids in graduate school, law school, undergraduate, we have a lot of expenses.

SERFATY (voice over): That financial reality not unlike most American families.

JOHNSON: I didn't grow up with great means, but I think that helps us to be a better leader because we can relate to every hardworking American family. That's who we are, and I think it governs and helps govern my decisions and how I lead.

SERFATY (on camera): Now we don't know much about Speaker Johnson's wife and her full financial picture, but we do know she's earning some income and it's coming from a few places, a Christian counseling company, her work with the Louisiana Right to Life Educational Committee, as well as a general listing on this disclosure forms for various clients.

Now lawmakers, they are not required to reveal the amount of money their spouses are earning, but Johnson actually does. In some of the earliest disclosure forms, he reveals that she's made about $45,000.00 to $50,000.00 a year, but he has not declared her salary since 2021.

Again, all this a very limited snapshot into her side of the earning for the family.

Sunlen Serfaty, CNN on Capitol Hill.


JIMENEZ: Sunlen Serfaty, thank you.

Coming up, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to meet face-to-face this week in California. More on the significance of this highly anticipated meeting.

And a quick program note now, can antisemitism be stopped? Dana Bash investigates the increasingly dire threat the Jewish community faces in America on "The Whole Story" with Anderson Cooper tonight at 9:00 PM on CNN.

We'll be right back.



JIMENEZ: As US relations with China remain deeply strained a face-to- face Summit between President Biden and China's President Xi is scheduled for Wednesday in the San Francisco Bay area. Now, the two haven't met in person since the G20 Summit back in 2022.

National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan told CNN earlier this morning that resetting military relations is at the top of the agenda for Biden.


JAKE SULLIVAN, WHITE HOUSE NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: When it comes to managing the relationship, ties and communications between our two militaries are critical. The Chinese have basically severed those communication links. President Biden would like to reestablish them, and he will look to this Summit as an opportunity to try to advance the ball on that.


JIMENEZ: Now, China and the US have been at odds over a number of high stakes issues, including Taiwan, tech exports, and security issues, including the incident where the US shot down a Chinese spy balloon.

So I want to bring in Michael Pillsbury, he is a former Defense official under Presidents Reagan and Bush. He was also an informal adviser to former President Donald Trump and is now a fellow at the Hudson Institute, I am not going to sell you short on your resume there.

Now, look, we just heard Sullivan say military communication was the top of the agenda. Can you walk us through why that's so important right now?

MICHAEL PILLSBURY, HUDSON INSTITUTE DIRECTOR OF THE CENTER ON CHINESE STRATEGY: Yes, there are two kinds of military communication. Jake Sullivan has already -- he already knows, the Chinese said last week, they're willing to have one kind, which is sort of like seminars where the two sides get together for two or three days. The more important kind is the crisis communication, the use of a hotline, where if there's an incident and one plane gets shot down by another, it's not an act of war, it is an accident, that kind of hotline is immediate communication to explain intentions. That one looks like the Chinese are not willing to restart it, and that is what I'm most worried about that the Summit could be a failure, because the really tough stuff that we need the Chinese to agree to, they are showing no inclination of doing that, Omar, instead, they've been talking about all the concessions Biden's made just to get this meeting.

So we're likely to see a three-hour meeting where both sides or each side has a different version of what took place in the meeting and how tough they were. I would not call that a success.

But as a general rule, crisis communications between the two militaries, yes, Jake Sullivan is right, it is extremely important. Whether China will agree to it, I'm less certain.

JIMENEZ: Now look, some of the tension between the United States and China has simply just been over positioning. China has been weighing in on the war between Israel, even sending a special envoy to the area. It has also maintained it is impartial in the war in Ukraine.



JIMENEZ: I mean, is China succeeding in trying to reinvent itself as a global power broker of sorts?

PILLSBURY: I think they are, because they're not focused on Europe or the United States. They're focused on what they call the Global South, the vast majority of the global population, and there, they are pushing that they are a peacemaker, but they also never condemn Hamas. They don't actually condemn Putin's invasion of Ukraine. But they imply that they're the peacemakers who are sort of available when the time comes and this is effective.

There has been no counter by the Biden administration. They don't want to offend China, then there would not be a Summit. But they're hesitant to call China out as really not helping. Obviously, China should condemn the Hamas attack, and China should condemn Putin's invasion, but they just won't do it because the global south is their game and pretending to be the world leader, while they claim we're in decline, Omar.

So this is their larger strategy. It has been going on for 15 to 20 years now, and I think it's working.

JIMENEZ: Now, obviously, at the grand scale is one thing, but specifically, I would say the greatest source of tension between the US and China, maybe over Taiwan and China's designs or integration, essentially of the island. I mean, what can the US do to reach a mutually agreeable stance on Taiwan, if there even is one? PILLSBURY: That's the biggest question of them all. Taiwan has elections coming up in two months. The elections will determine whether they're going to move toward independence or not. China is watching it very carefully.

China wants to keep up its program of intimidation, jet fighters, nuclear capable bombers, warships cruising around Taiwan pretty much every day. So the Biden administration wants that to stop. They will obviously raise it during the meeting. But we'll see soon thereafter, the world will see whether these Chinese intimidation missions are halted or not. My forecast is, I hate to be pessimistic, my forecast is they will not stop these and it will be kind of an embarrassment to the Biden approach.

As for China, there's just too much at stake in these elections in January and they want to keep up the intimidation until then at least.

JIMENEZ: Well, we will see what comes out of this meeting. Obviously, just the fact that they're face-to-face is something that does not happen too often and we will see if it is productive, or as you say, both sides come out with differing versions.

Michael Pillsbury, thanks so much.

PILLSBURY: Yes. Thanks, Omar.

JIMENEZ: Just ahead, the search for a missing woman and her parents is intensifying in Los Angeles. Now the son of a former Hollywood agent is facing murder charges. How police say they tracked him down, after the break.



JIMENEZ: More questions than answers after a woman's torso was found in a dumpster in a Los Angeles suburb.

Now, Samuel Haskell, the son of a Hollywood agent has been arrested on suspicion of murder and Haskell's wife along with his in-laws are all missing.

I'd like to bring in Camila Bernal from Los Angeles.

Camila, what are you learning here?


So Samuel Haskell is 35 years old and he was arrested on suspicion of murder after someone who was essentially dumpster diving, who was looking through dumpster bins found a bag with a human remain, a torso, exactly. And so authorities were immediately called and they say that they're still trying to identify the human remains at the moment, but also say that there was evidence here that let them to Samuel Haskell's home. This is a house that he shared with his wife, with three children, and with his in-laws. Now, we are being told by authorities that the children, they are okay. They are with family members, but his wife and the two in-laws are still missing.

So authorities trying to figure out exactly what happened to three people who are right now missing. This is a community obviously in shock and reacting to this gruesome crime.

Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't know what to say, you know, no human should die like that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: That woman that's missing, Grandma, I don't know, but we're praying for her to survive, to live, to know what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE:` I don't know what kind of a person can do something like that. Honestly, it's another human being whether you know him or not. It's a human being. And it's very scary.


BERNAL: Now police say they found blood and other evidence at the home that they searched, but our affiliate, KABC is reporting that investigators told them no other human remains were found at the house.

"The LA Times" also reporting that what they believe is that the torso belongs to his wife. Of course, more investigation there is needed as we await for authorities to give us that ID.

Now in the meantime, though, Haskell remains in jail. His bail is set at $2 million -- Omar.

JIMENEZ: With that bail, do you know -- do we have any word on when he will appear in court or what's next here?

BERNAL: Yes, so he will have a court appearance tomorrow here in Los Angeles at 8:30 in the morning. It's unclear if he has an attorney at the moment. We've also reached out to his father, who of course you mentioned is an Emmy-winning producer and a former Hollywood agent. We have yet to hear from him, but we'll of course see what happens tomorrow morning as we'll be there for court -- Omar.

JIMENEZ: Yes, a lot of updates to follow. Camila Bernal, thank you so much.


Any moment right now, California Governor Gavin Newsom and Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass will give an update on a Southern California stretch of Interstate that remains closed after a large fire. This is Interstate 10. Look at those images -- running through downtown Los Angeles on Saturday. Piles of wooden pallets caught fire underneath the highway, forcing the major artery to be closed and a state of emergency to be put in place.

Several vehicles were also destroyed in the fire, but the LA Fire Department said they were able to save three nearby commercial buildings.

Coming up, House Speaker Mike Johnson has unveiled his plan to keep the government open, but will it get enough support to avoid a shutdown? New details as CNN NEWSROOM continues.