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CNN This Morning

McCarthy, House GOP to Meet & Plot Impeachment Inquiry; Biden to Deliver Address on Economic Next Steps; Hurricane & Tropical Storm Watches Issued for New England; South Korea: Weapons Provided by North Korea are Used by Russia in Ukraine War; Former Generals Implore House to Approve Ukraine Aid. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired September 14, 2023 - 06:00   ET


PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thanks for joining us. Let's get things started with "Five Things to Know" for this Thursday, September 14.


In just hours, Speaker Kevin McCarthy is expected to meet behind closed doors with House Republicans, including the three committee chairmen who have been tapped to lead the impeachment inquiry into President Biden.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: New this morning, President Biden talks for the first time about the probe, saying Republicans want to impeach him, because they want to shut down the government. But he says he's got a job to do.

Eighteen hours from now, autoworkers in Detroit could strike against the Big Three. The union president says, We're likely going to have to take action. He's talking about a targeted strike.

MATTINGLY: And new details on the capture of the escaped killer in Pennsylvania. He survived for days on just watermelon and stream water. He was planning to escape to Canada.

HARLOW: We are also keeping a very close eye on Hurricane Lee as new watches are issued for coastal New England.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

I know you're counting. How many days away are we from a potential shutdown?

MATTINGLY: You're putting me on the spot like this?

HARLOW: You're just always -- am I right? Seventeen?

MATTINGLY: Sixteen. Sixteen. Sixteen.

HARLOW: He's got a lot of experience.

MATTINGLY: Shutdown, impeachment inquiry, Mitt Romney, wow.


MATTINGLY: We have a lot to talk about as it relates to the former presidential candidate and current Republican senator.

HARLOW: Talk about candid.


HARLOW: We're going to get into all of that. We're glad you're with us. Here's where we start this morning.

A government shutdown looming as Republicans, instead of focusing on their impeachment inquiry of President Biden just a couple hours from now, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy is set to meet with Republican lawmakers. This will happen behind doors as they plot their next steps, even though some Republicans have admitted there doesn't seem to be any hard evidence at this point that the president did anything illegal regarding his son.

Meanwhile, President Biden is moving on, set to give a speech about the economy today. Reporters tried to ask him about this impeachment inquiry yesterday. Here's what he said.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President, response to impeachment inquiry? Response to impeachment?


MATTINGLY: You'll notice, there was no response there; has been wanting to weigh in publicly. But later, off-camera at a fundraiser, where he is often a little bit more candid, President Biden told supporters, quote, "I get up every day not focused on impeachment. I've got a job to do. I don't know quite why, but they" -- Republicans -- "just knew they wanted to impeach me. Now, best as I can tell, they want to impeach me, because they want to shut down the government."

Also, as we were discussing, Senator Mitt Romney blasted what he called the Trump wing of the GOP after announcing he would not seek re-election. Romney was the only Republican senator to vote to convict Donald Trump in both of his impeachment trials. He says there doesn't appear to be a case against Biden in his inquiry.


SEN. MITT ROMNEY (R-UT): Well, there's no question but the Republican Party today is -- is in the shadow of Donald Trump. He is the leader of the greatest portion of the Republican Party. Look, I represent a small wing of the party. If you will, I call it the wise wing of the Republican Party.

My wing of the party talks about policy. And about issues that will make a difference to the lives of the American people. The Trump wing of the party talks about resentments of various kind and getting even and settling scores. (END VIDEO CLIP)

MATTINGLY: We have team coverage of the split screen that's really going to define the next 14 months, heading into the 2024 election.

CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz is standing by in the North Hall of the White House. And CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox is live in the Capitol.

Lauren, this meeting, I think, everybody has been pushing toward it, between Speaker McCarthy and Republicans, behind closed doors, what's the expectation here?

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the expectation, Phil, is that this is about trying to unify the Republican Party around the announcement that Kevin McCarthy made on Tuesday.

There are some Republican members who still are not thinking that this was the best idea to unlaunch [SIC] -- to launch this impeachment inquiry.

You also are starting to see from Republicans that they are coalescing around what the next steps should be.

But a lot of decisions have yet to be made in how to pursue this impeachment inquiry. The three chairmen that have been tasked with leading this, they've been working together for months. But they still have questions about what witnesses they might want to hear from, when and if to issue subpoenas for some of those high-profile witnesses, someone like Hunter Biden, perhaps.

Those are discussions that are still very much ongoing. And while their teams have been talking for months, you can expect that those conversations have been ramping up.

I talked to Jim Jordan yesterday as he left the Republican Senate lunch, and I asked him specifically how long is this going to go? What is your time line? And he declined to give one. He said that right now, the plan is just to keep going.

He also told me that he had just signed three subpoenas yesterday. When we pushed him on who those subpoenas were going to, he said we were just going to have to wait and find out.


But that gives you a sense, Phil, that this is very much moving in, as an action, just as it has been for several months now; only now under the umbrella of an impeachment inquiry.

HARLOW: Can we talk also about Mitt Romney and the fact that not only is he not going to run again, but he chose to say pretty much everything, Lauren?

And he is someone who, through his actions and his votes, has stood up against many in his party for what he thinks is right. But I was just so struck with what he said yesterday. What do the American people need to know as they wake up this morning?

FOX: Yes, Mitt Romney not running for re-election, but making it clear what he thinks the direction of the country should be.

He was going after everyone: Republicans in his party who he say -- he says are too closely aligned with the former president, as well as Joe Biden. Here's what he said about the presidential election.


ROMNEY: I think it would be a great thing if both President Biden and former President Trump were to stand aside and let their respective party pick someone in the next generation. President Trump -- excuse me, President Biden when he was running said he was a transitional figure to the next generation. Well, time to transition.


FOX: And he wasted no time criticizing some Republican senators who he's going to have to serve with over the next year.

Republican Senate lunches happen multiple times a week. There's going to be one today. But he went after people like J.D. Vance, Josh Hawley, Ted Cruz, saying that, you know, Josh Hawley was one of the smartest people he knew in the Senate, and Ted Cruz was a close second.

But he argued, they knew better than some of the arguments that they make publicly when it comes to the Constitution.

Really, really fascinating way to sort of announce that you're retiring from the Senate, given the fact that he really unveiled and pulled back the curtain on what's transpired over his time.

HARLOW: Yes. And interesting, too, he said he's not leaving the party, and he's not going to sit on the sidelines or on the beach, I think he said. So it's going to be really interesting to watch when he's not in the Senate, how does he influence the future of the Republican Party.?

Lauren, thank you -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, Poppy. We're going to take you just down the road to Pennsylvania Avenue, from a very chaotic Capitol building to a very different scene altogether.

White House officials preparing for what they're calling the next chapter in Bidenomics. President Biden is traveling to Maryland today to deliver what's being called a major economic address, contrasting his vision with Republicans', as White House officials call it, trickle-down economic plan, which his administration says has, quote, "failed working families every time."

But CNN polling data shows 58 percent of Americans feel Biden has made the economic conditions worse. CNN's Arlette Saenz is live for us at the White House with more. The split screen is so striking. It's also been kind of defining for

this White House for the entirety of their time in the West Wing. What do we expect today from these remarks from the president?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Phil. President Biden will be heading out to Maryland to try to enter into this new phase of selling his economic vision to the American people, which remains very wary about the state of the economy.

Now, the White House says they will be doing today is trying to draw more of an explicit contrast with Republican policies. You often hear President Biden talk about Bidenomics. Well, today he will be trying to contrast that against MAGAnomics.

This is an effort to try to sell the president's vision a bit more to the American people.

Now, one of the president's top advisers, Anita Dunn, wrote a memo that was released this morning, highlighting some of the facts that the president will be leaning into.

He will be drawing from the Republican study committee's budget, released over the summer, to argue that Republicans want to raise [SIC] taxes for wealthy Americans and also make cuts to Medicare and Social Security. That's something we've often heard President Biden talk about on the campaign trail.

And this all comes as there has been these internal debates and, really, a budget standoff up on Capitol hill as that September 30th government shutdown deadline looms.

But the really big question is whether Biden could actually move the needle with Americans' perceptions on the economy. As you mentioned, recent polling has shown that the majority of Americans believe that the president's economic policies have worsened economic conditions for them. Even as there are some bright spots in the economy, people still just aren't feeling this at home.

The White House has acknowledged it will take time for a lot of this to settle in, but they are trying to ramp up that messaging, especially as that 2024 election looms.

MATTINGLY: All right. Arlette Saenz for us. The correlation between landscaping and live shots on the North Lawn, it never fails to impress. Arlette, great work, as always -- Poppy.

HARLOW: I have never personally experienced that, but I know all of you have, and it makes your job a little bit more difficult. Arlette always handles it so gracefully.

All right. To world news. In day two of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un's visit to Russia, South Korea is warning that it looks like he is still pursuing, quote, "some kind of military deal."

[06:10:06] MATTINGLY: And we'll have the latest forecast on Hurricane Lee. Meteorologist Derek van Dam will break down where New England could see dangerous storm surge, starting tomorrow. Stay with us.


HARLOW: Hurricane and tropical storm watches in effect this morning for coastal New England. This as Hurricane Lee, now a Category 2 storm, threatens that region and parts of Canada over the next several days.

Our meteorologist Derek van Dam keeping a very close eye on it. I think, here in Canada, it was a little bit surprising. Are they in for it?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. You know, that Bay of Fundy, that's where we have some of the largest tidal swings in the world. And they could get a direct impact from this storm.

But the storm is going to be so large that we'll feel impacts across the Eastern sections of New England, no doubt. You've got another 36 hours to prepare your property, let's say for Cape Cod into Portland, all the way towards the border of the U.S. and Canada.

This storm system is massive. We talked about how it is ballooning in size. It literally covers 850 miles, in terms of that cloud shields. That's the same as traveling from Miami to our nation's capital.

Still a Category 2 right now. And I want to emphasize that the impacts from this storm will be felt well outside of that official forecast cone, which you see highlighted with those two white lines.

The tropical-storm-force winds, as it stands, actually travel out about 300 miles from the center. So we're going to feel the impacts of those tropical-storm-force winds Friday night into Saturday across, let's say, coastal Massachusetts into coastal areas of Maine, as well.


Here's a look at the latest tropical storm watches and is a look at the latest tropical storm watches and hurricane watches. No warnings just yet. We still have another 48 to 72 hours before the system makes landfall.

But I want to focus in on Cape Cod. Two to four feet, the official storm surge forecast. That's because the winds on the back side of the system will push in some of that water from the Bay of Maine. And that is going to bring that potential for storm surge into that area.

A very inundated region. This has seen above average rainfall this summer. So the potential exists for flash flooding across the region. And power outages, as well.

HARLOW: OK. Thanks for keeping an eye on it, Derek.

VAN DAM: Sure thing -- Poppy. MATTINGLY: Lawmakers have two weeks, 16 days, to act to prevent a

government shutdown. One plan would cut funding to Ukraine. Next, we'll speak to a former general who just penned a letter to lawmakers, urging to continue supporting that war-torn country.

HARLOW: Also, did the turf Aaron Rodgers played on contribute to his season-ending injury? You're going to hear from the NFL commissioner and players as the league debates real versus artificial grass.



MATTINGLY: We have this just into CNN. The office of South Korea's president says, quote, "The kinds of weapons provided by North are being used by Russia in Ukraine."

This comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is in Russia for a second, very consequential day of meetings.

CNN's Paula Hancocks is live for us in Seoul. And Paula, we know that there was a meeting yesterday, a very lengthy face-to-face between President Putin and Kim Jong-un. What do we expect today? What happens going forward?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Phil, we know that -- that Kim Jong-un is still in Russia, that he has got an extensive schedule. He's going off to a factory that's making military and civilian products, according to Vladimir Putin. He's going to have a demonstration by the Russian military, as well, although we haven't seen any kind of footage or indication of what that would look like.

But we are hearing from the South Korean side, as you say, that the unification minister, saying that they're very concerned, that they appear to be pursuing some kind of military deal.

And then the presidential office coming out with this line that they believe that certain kinds of weapons that North Korea has given to Russia have already been used in Ukraine on the battlefield, saying that "We've long confirmed that certain kinds of weapons have been used in the battlefield."

So certainly, this is of concern. We've heard from the Biden administration before that they believe North Korea had already given infantry rockets and missiles to the Russian mercenary group, Wagner, last year.

But this goes one step further. The South Korean presidential office saying they believe those weapons are already on the ground and have been used.

We're also hearing elsewhere in the region from Japan, the new foreign minister saying she's very concerned and worried about what exactly this kind of deal would mean for any kind of sanctions, U.N. Security Council resolutions, for example. Very problematic, though, of course, because Russia and China are

Security Council members. And they certainly have the veto for any new sanctions.

So it is difficult. We're hearing from many in the region how to prevent or deter this kind of deal -- Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yes, as the world continues to wait for another nuclear test from North Korea. Paula Hancocks, appreciate it. Thank you.

HARLOW: Two weeks. That is how much time House Republicans have to keep the government from shutting down. Now they are considering shelving a significant defense bill and focusing instead on approving a short-term stopgap bill.

To do that, Speaker McCarthy says he intends to end assistance to Ukraine, all while the White House is requesting $24 billion in additional aid in this legislation.

Now, two former generals are imploring House Republicans to put politics aside and approve the aid. They wrote a letter that reads, in part, quote, "Now is not the time to allow partisan politics to get in the way of supporting an ally that is fighting for freedom, as well as their own existence. Ukrainians need our help, and they needed it yesterday. Ukraine's victory in the war is a strategic -- is in America's strategic interests."

And one of those retired generals who decided it was so critical to write that letter is with us now, former NATO supreme allied commander, retired General Philip Breedlove.

We really appreciate your time this morning. Did you feel that you needed to write this letter, not only because of what is happening in Washington and these efforts to strip this right now, but because of the sentiment of the majority of American people, who do not at this point support more new funding?

GEN. PHILIP BREEDLOVE (RET.), FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, first of all, good morning and thank you for having me on your show.

The timing is important. As we approach the presidential elections, you know, now what is happening is politics is having much more influence on what we are doing and what we should be doing for Ukraine.

And part of our letter was to urge that we set aside those sort of current politics and refocus on the strategic nature of what's happening in Ukraine.

And there is so much economically that Ukraine affects us here in America and the world. There's so much in the manner of food and grain that Ukraine affects in the world.

And frankly, I think we need to remember that we need to stand up against Mr. Putin's illegal, immoral war that he's been carrying on for almost nine years now in Ukraine.

MATTINGLY: General, after 18 months, do you understand why some Americans are saying, Look, we get it, we understand the strategic nature of this, but there are a lot of concerns at home, as well, we'd prefer domestic funding to be focused on?

BREEDLOVE: There's no doubt that there is a competition for these scarce resources. I personally think America is big enough to do both. This is not an if/or. It is yes, and let's move forward.


And so I think that, you know, if we look at what we're giving, it is a lot. But if you look at it on a per GDP basis, 11 nations in NATO are giving more than America is.

And so we are doing the right thing. We need to be thankful to our taxpayers and our lawmakers. But I think there's more we should do.

HARLOW: Just if you could respond to the reporting that we just had from our Paula Hancocks in Seoul that it is the belief of the South Korean president's office that North Korean weapons are already on the ground in some capacity in Ukraine. What does that mean to you, if that is indeed the case?

BREEDLOVE: Well, first and foremost, Mr. Putin's army and his logistics systems are failing him on the ground in Ukraine.

And what we see is that Mr. Putin's war of intimidation and this war of words or, in military parlance, his deterrence is working. So he's failing militarily. But his deterrence is working.

What you see with North Korea is much the same as I think overtures to China and others. Iran. And that is to supply the weapons that Mr. Putin has not been able to supply to his troops.

MATTINGLY: General, given the scale of the support up to this point and the fact that Vladimir Putin is continuing to find resources despite the massive sanctions regime that has been put in place by Western allies, do you feel the United States and its allies need to do more in terms of weapons systems, the capacity and capability, so this doesn't end up being multiyear, never-ending type of fight?

BREEDLOVE: I absolutely do. You know that our senior-most leaders have made a couple of promises consistently through this war. We say we're going to be with them as long as it takes. And we say that we're going to give them everything they need.

And we have done a lot. Again, we need to be thankful. But we have not, I think, fulfilled those promises. We have not given them everything they need.

If our forces were on the ground fighting in Ukraine, we would be doing it under battlefield air superiority. We have not provided Ukraine the ability to establish battlefield air superiority. And their troops are suffering because of it. We would never go to war without our long-range artillery. And we are

-- how far are we into this war now? And Ukraine still does not have long-range artillery.

HARLOW: So -- yes, so then is it your assessment that, had the United States provided to Ukraine up front, in the first couple of months, what we've now -- what the U.S. has now provided to Ukraine, Ukraine could have prevailed by this point?

BREEDLOVE: I -- I don't want to venture that -- that sort of guess. It wouldn't be scientific, and I doesn't -- I don't think it helps your -- your viewers.

What I do know is that Ukraine -- we have been giving them less than what they need when it comes to technology and capability. And they have strategically defeated Russia on the North side of the Kyiv. They've strategically defeated Russia on the North and Northwest side of Kharkiv. And they're in the middle of an operational defeat of Russia in the South.

I just would say that, had we given them everything they needed like we promised them, they would probably be much further along into liberating their country.

HARLOW: Retired General Philip Breedlove, thank you for joining us this morning.

BREEDLOVE: Thank you.

MATTINGLY: Well, tonight at midnight, thousands of members of the United Auto Workers union could walk off the job. The union just laid out a strike plan against the big three automakers. We're going to take you live to Detroit, outside of General Motors headquarters.

HARLOW: We also have big takeaways from yesterday's closed-door meeting with lawmakers and tech leaders on artificial intelligence.


ELON MUSK, LEADS TESLA, SPACEX AND X: I think something good will come of this. This -- I think meeting may go down in history as being very important for the future of civilization.