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CNN This Morning

Biden Urges Restraint as IDF Surrounds Gaza's Main Hospital; Families of Hostages Protest to Demand Action; Former Trump Lawyer: He Was 'Not Going to Leave' White House Despite Loss; U.S. Officials Finalizing Deal with China on Fentanyl Crackdown. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired November 14, 2023 - 06:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. We're so glad you're with us. A lot to get to on this Tuesday, November 14th.

President Biden's foreign policy set to face yet another major test as he departs today for a high-stakes meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. They will be meeting on the sidelines of a major economic summit with other global leaders.

We're already learning of a potential U.S.-China deal on Fentanyl.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: It all comes as President Biden is juggling his support of Israel's war against Hamas with growing peril around Gaza's hospital. The president is now urging that those facilities, quote, "must be protected."

And Biden's government is now just three days away from a potential shutdown. A vote to avert it set for today. But the measure includes no funding for either of the two wars his administration is supporting.

HARLOW: Public pressure for Biden to maintain his support for Israel will be on full, literal display today. A huge rally at the National Mall planned, with tens of thousands expected to attend.

Meanwhile, concern is building around Donald Trump's rhetoric about a potential second term as president. One of his former Georgia confidants says she was told Trump never intended to leave the White House after his 2020 loss.

We have all these stories and angles covered with our team of reporters around the world and analysts right here in studio.

CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

Just hours from now President Biden will leave Washington and fly to the West Coast, where he will be meeting face-to-face with Chinese President Xi Jinping. That will happen tomorrow. It's just one of the huge foreign policy tests that he is facing right now on so many fronts. He is grappling with the dire humanitarian crisis in Gaza, calling for the protection of hospitals as street fighting intensifies and Israeli troops surround Gaza's largest hospital, al-Shifa. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The hospitals in Gaza, have you expressed any specific concerns to Israel on that, sir?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you know, I have not been reluctant in expressing my concerns what's going on. And it's my hope and expectation that there will be less intrusive action relative to the hospital. The hospital must be protected.


MATTINGLY: The al-Shifa Hospital director says conditions inside are, quote, "catastrophic." There's no food, no water, no milk for children and babies.

And we've seen heartbreaking images of newborns taken out of incubators due to the lack of electricity.

A U.S. official tells CNN it's believed Hamas has a command post underneath the hospital. The Israeli military has accused of Hamas of storing weapons in hospitals and using them as command centers.

HARLOW: The IDF brought our own colleague, Nic Robertson, to the basement of a children's hospital in Gaza, where they say Hamas kept guns, explosives and also possibly hostages.

We have two reporters covering the story this morning. Let's start with Arlette Saenz at the White House. She joins us now.

Tell us more about the White House response to what we're seeing in Gaza. Because we did see John Kirby from the White House come out after the president made those remarks we just played to try to explain them more.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes. And the White House is watching these situations happening at the hospitals in Gaza. And is aware of the humanitarian impact, the concerns of the state of those hospitals.

But President Biden there really issued a word of caution to Israel as they are conducting their operations around the hospitals. He said that he believes that these hospitals must be protected, that he wants to see less intrusive operations on the ground there in the areas of the hospital.

That is something that was echoed by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan yesterday, when he said the president does not want to see firefights in the hospital.

Now the White House National Security Council spokesperson, John Kirby, also yesterday tried to explain that there is a high burden that the Israeli Defense Forces have at this time as they're trying to go after those Hamas forces, but also need to balance the concerns about the civilians and the impact that the fighting around that hospital could have on the situation on the ground there. But this all comes as you've heard the Biden administration really

ramp up their warnings, their concerns about the loss of Palestinian lives in Gaza. You heard that from Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who has said that far too many Palestinians have died in this conflict.


But the White House right now is really trying to strike this balancing act, as they are not only trying to support Israel's right to defend itself, go after Hamas, but also balance those humanitarian concerns, including around the dire consequences, a situation that has been happening at many of those hospitals.

MATTINGLY: Jomana Karadsheh, over to you. Let's touch on what's happening on the ground in Gaza.

We're hearing that the two largest hospitals are no longer operating. What more do we know at this point?

JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Phil, as we've seen over the past few weeks, you've seen hospital after hospital going out of service, going dark in Gaza.

More than half of the medical facilities that are desperately needed right now have essentially collapsed.

The latest that we're hearing, the two largest medical facilities, al- Shifa Hospital and al-Quds Hospital, have -- are no longer functioning.

Now, when it comes to al-Shifa Hospital, as you mentioned, we heard that they have no power. They have no fuel to run their generators. And they have been saying for days right now that they are struggling to keep patients alive. They say that they have lost several patients, including three neonatal babies, because they no longer can run their incubators.

You've got the Israelis on the other side saying, well, they believe and they have intelligence, they say, that there is a Hamas command and control center underneath that hospital. That they're not targeting these hospitals; that they are going after Hamas.

You've got the Palestinian officials. You've got Hamas. You've got doctors all denying that and saying that an international independent organization should be able send -- or should send missions to investigate these allegations.

And then you've got al-Quds Hospital, also a really catastrophic situation there. They have, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent, that runs that hospital, 300 patients, their family members and medical staff inside that hospital. They say that they are surrounded, that they are being targeted, they say, by the Israeli military.

The Israelis have denied this, saying that they have come under attack by Hamas militants outside that hospital. Again, something denied by the Palestinian Red Crescent, saying there's no armed persons inside that hospital, that there's been no shots fired out of the hospital.

They are calling for an urgent evacuation. They are trying to get those patients and their families, Phil, who include an American teen, a family that we have spoken to in recent days. They want to get them out of the hospital, but they just can't right now.

HARLOW: Yes. Jomana Karadsheh, Arlette Saenz, thank you so much for the reporting.

And one of the big issues is the lack of ability for many journalists to be inside Gaza. We're going to see from our colleague Nic Robertson later, he got in with the IDF.

But when you don't have a lot of independent journalists in there, it's hard to see what's going on at these hospitals.

MATTINGLY: Yes. No question. One side versus the other.


MATTINGLY: And there's still a lot of gray area right now.

Well, also, as we mentioned, today tens of thousands of people are expected to gather on the National Mall for, quote, "march to" -- "March for Israel" rally in Washington, D.C.

Nearly 6,000 miles away, in Israel, families of hostages being held by Hamas are marching from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, calling on their leaders to do more to bring their loved ones home.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is there live.

Oren, this march in Israel, is there a singular message here? What are they trying to convey to the Israeli leadership?

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Do whatever it takes to bring the hostages home. That is what we've heard from so so many here, both in the statements they made and talking to them on the side.

You can see a group here behind me. This is the march just beginning. It's starting here. It will go a few miles today, and then it will make its way all the way to Jerusalem over the course of the last several days.

The families of the hostages have been in Hostage Square here for the last 11 or 12 days, trying to get answers from the defense ministry on the other side of me, where the war cabinet has met repeatedly.

But they feel like they're not being heard. They feel like their message isn't getting through, and they're demanding more, asking why the hostages aren't home yet; why a deal hasn't been made yet.

For them, the priority isn't destroying Hamas; it is bringing the hostages home. And the march here reminiscent of another march, if we have this video, from 2010. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was captured in 2006, his family marched from Northern Israel to Jerusalem. By the time they arrived, there were thousands of people with them, putting tremendous pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the time to make a deal.

And that's exactly the point here as they demand answers. Here is the mother of one of those who was kidnapped.


SHELLY SHEM TOV, SON KIDNAPPED: I want to ask all the cabinet in our country, I demand that you will come. We are going to Jerusalem, but you will come and talk to us, and we want answers. We want answers.



LIEBERMANN: That sense of frustration palpable here as they demand not only some sort of meeting but progress on hostage negotiations. One of those we spoke with trying to keep the hope that he might see his girlfriend, who was kidnapped, within a week.

MATTINGLY: All right. Oren Liebermann, please keep us posted. Thank you.

HARLOW: All right. In newly-obtained video, a former Trump loyalist who pleaded guilty in Georgia reveal conversations about alleged efforts to reverse the 2020 election. What they're claiming. And what does that mean for Trump's upcoming trial?

MATTINGLY: And for the very first time, the Supreme Court puts new ethics rules into place, but the big question: who's actually going to enforce it? We'll have more next.


MATTINGLY: This morning, new videos obtained by ABC and "The Washington Post" reveal conversations between former Trump loyalists about efforts to subvert the 2020 election.

Here is former Trump campaign lawyer Jenna Ellis, telling Georgia prosecutors about a conversation with top Trump aide Dan Scavino in late 2020.


JENNA ELLIS, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN LAWYER: He said to me, in a kind of excited tone, Well, we don't care, and we're not going to leave.

And I said, What do you mean?

And he said, Well, the boss, meaning President Trump and everyone understood "the boss." That's what we all called him. He said, The boss is not going to leave under any circumstances. We are just going to stay in power.

And I said to him, Well, it doesn't quite work that way, you realize.

And he said, We don't care.



HARLOW: This private interview with investigators took place on October 23rd. That's the reporting from ABC. The next day, Ellis pleaded guilty to one count of aiding and abetting false statements in the aftermath of the 2020 election.

Let's bring in CNN senior political analyst and anchor, John Avlon; CNN senior legal analyst Elie Honig.

Great to have you guys here. Elie, how does this proffer statement -- and then we'll get to Sidney Powell, because there's that one, as well.


HARLOW: I think in the court of public opinion, it's kind of like, wow. But what about in the courtroom?

HONIG: So first of all, so people understand what this is. When we say a proffer statement. This is Jenna Ellis with her attorney present, giving a statement to prosecutors, saying, Here's what I have to offer.

My big takeaway is Jenna Ellis does appear to be a viable, useful witness for prosecutors. She appears to have come clean about both election fraud and the claim of election fraud being a lie. And her own participation in sort of sort of furthering that.

This particular piece of testimony that she gives, that she has this conversation with Dan Scavino, where Dan Scavino says, Trump told me he's not going to leave, is really interesting. It's really important. I'm not sure it's actually admissible at a criminal trial.

HARLOW: Really?

HONIG: It's hearsay. It's Jenna -- It's Jenna Ellis taking the stand, saying, Here's something Dan Scavino told me Donald Trump told him.

Now, there are some exceptions -- I'm not going to turn this into an evidence class -- that may apply here. But you're going to have a real battle on your hands to get this statement in actual evidence at a trial.

MATTINGLY: I would attend that class, just to start.

I want to ask you, though, about Sidney Powell, not just because she acknowledges that she knew absolutely nothing about election law --

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST/ANCHOR: yes. MATTINGLY: -- which is rich on so many levels. But she also talked about White House lawyers repeatedly telling Trump that he lost the election and then his response to that. Take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What was President Trump's reaction when, I guess, this cadre of advisers would say, "You lost"?

SIDNEY POWELL, FORMER ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: It was like, well, they would say that, and then they would walk out. And he'd go, See? This is what I deal with all the time.


AVLON: See, this is what I have to deal with all the time. The practiced gesture, not the articulation, but I think indicating that the people who are giving him real information were seen as being on team normal, not sufficiently in support of Donald Trum and his aims to overturn the election. And that's where you bring in the sycophants.

It's interesting Sidney Powell sort of cosplaying normal after all the kraken comments.

But I think what's really significant is -- is -- I want to go back to the Jenna Ellis thing, because it's so stark to me. This is her -- one of the president's chief lawyers. talking about a conversation with Dan Scavino, who was tight as anybody with Donald Trump. I mean, you know, social media, but almost a body man in terms of how much he travels and is close to the president.

I want to use this word advisedly, but from a civic sense, what she is saying, Scavino is saying, We're not going to leave; we don't care. We're not going to give up power, is in a civic sense, evil. It shows contempt for our democracy on a fundamental level.

And let me connect the dots here. It also is a foreshadowing for what we're seeing now in terms of the campaign Donald Trump is running, which is essentially a promising an authoritarian -- more authoritarian, autocratic-type campaign, as a matter of policy and rhetoric.

Contempt for democracy. Contempt for democratic norms. That's the way they're campaigning. And that was their mindset at the end of the office when they said, we'll just not -- we'll just refuse to leave power on the basis of no evidence, after losing all the cases. That's contempt for our democracy.

HARLOW: You know, John brings up a really important point, because it couples with the "vermin" comment that Trump made this weekend about political opposition in his speech around Veterans Day.

It couples with the reporting over the past two weeks from "The Washington Post" and "The New York Times" about Trump's plans for what he would do at DOJ, going after political opponents; what he would do to the administrative state; what kind of lawyers he would surround himself with.

HONIG: Yes. Believe him. Take him seriously. Take it at face value when he says this. He's saying it out loud, and it couldn't be more important.

I mean, Phil turned to me last week when this came out. And I've sort of -- We hear all these things from Donald Trump, and they tend to roll off your back. You get numb to it. And Phil turned to me on our show Friday, and said, That's insane.

And I said, Yes, you're right. I mean, that's the best way to put it. And I stand by that.

And even if it's repetitive. Even if he does it over and over, it has to be called out and named every single time. It's so dangerous to weaponize prosecutorial power. I mean, I held that power in a very, very small sense, as one prosecutor. You don't realize how powerful it is, how much power you have to ruin someone's life, even as a low- level prosecutor like I was.

Never mind weaponizing the entire Justice Department. It's scary, legitimately scary. I don't scare easily. It's legitimately scary. Needs to be called out.

MATTINGLY: John, last night Trump's top two campaign advisers put out a statement related to a lot of the stories about the policies --


MATTINGLY: -- of a next Trump administration. Kind of saying, Oh, hang on, we haven't -- we haven't said -- don't take -- just wait. If it doesn't come out of the president's mouth or it's not from the campaign, that's not what he has planned.

Go on the website. The vast majority of what the "Times" and the "Post" and CNN have been reporting about what Trump wants to do in 2025, what you're alluding to in your first answer, it's there. It's nothing made up.


AVLON: It's there on the website. Often it comes out of the president's [SIC] mouth, or the mouth of people who are advising the campaign on policy, who are being floated for serious administration jobs.

I mean, you know, Steve Bannon, you know, on "The Circus," his final episode said, you know, that one of the people who's saying that we're going to deport 10 million people is a front-runner to be attorney general.

And it always has to be put through that troll filter when you're dealing with him.

But no, this attempt by -- you know, this is part of the spin the Trump admin -- the Trump campaign keeps trying to do to folks. Which is that, look, you know, we're -- don't believe all the hype. We're going to be -- This is a more mature, disciplined campaign, tempered by the experience of having run an administration before. We're moderates in the context of --

HARLOW: Tempered?

AVLON: This is the pitch they're making and some people keep buying. And it's utter B.S. It's Maya Angelou: When people tell you who they are --

HARLOW: Believe them.

AVLON: -- listen, believe them.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Let us --

AVLON: -- when they keep telling us.

MATTINGLY: Let us ditch the whole "seriously but not literally" thing --

AVLON: Correct.

MATTINGLY: -- in the trash can for eternity. John Avlon, Elie Honig, appreciate it.

HARLOW: President Biden and Xi Jinping expected to announce a big crackdown at fentanyl at their highly-anticipated meeting that's going to happen tomorrow in California. We have new reporting ahead.

MATTINGLY: And new reporting on the FBI probe into New York Mayor Eric Adams and his campaign. What sources are telling us about what exactly is being looked into here. Stay with us.



HARLOW: All right. This just in. Hours before President Biden's highly-anticipated face-to-face meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping -- that's going to happen tomorrow in San Francisco -- there is a potential breakthrough on one key issue. Phil, you have some really important, meaningful new reporting on fentanyl.

MATTINGLY: Yes, Poppy. Over the course of the last several weeks, U.S. officials, Chinese officials have been trying to hammer out agreements on a set of issues that the two leaders can talk about.

Obviously, the two leaders, the two most powerful countries in the world. This is a critical, highly-consequential bilateral meeting, the second that the two have had in person since President Biden has been in office.

And one of the areas where they are on the brink of agreement, I am told, according to two people familiar with the matter, is on the issue of fentanyl. Obviously, this is a major issue inside the U.S. It's a major issue for inside the Biden administration.

And one of the issues that they have been trying to deal with, trying to grapple with are the precursor chemicals that can be put together in Mexico to actually make fentanyl.

China has cracked down, at the administration's request, on actual fentanyl itself, but the precursor chemicals are still being shipped, as you see here from this map, on a regular basis, which are then put together for the fentanyl that has been so deadly inside the United States.

How deadly? Well, if you look at this map -- of this chart in terms of how overdoses have risen over the course of the last several years, 112,000 overdoses in the U.S. back between May of 2022 and May of 2023; 77,000 of them were due to synthetic opioids or the fentanyl- related crisis.

This has been a top issue from a domestic political perspective. Republicans asking President Biden to take this issue on when he meets face-to-face with President Xi on Wednesday.

But also, globally. This is something the administration has been trying to key on. What the agreement would entail -- and it's not finalized yet -- but it essentially is that the Chinese would agree to crack down on the companies that make these chemicals and export those chemicals.

The U.S. would be giving them something in return. We'll have to see the details when it's announced. But one of several issues that the presidents will be talking about.

These leaders talking about a great power competition -- there's no question about that -- one of which has from a relationship perspective in a very, very low place over the course of the last year or so.

One of the critical issues, one of the critical agreements that U.S. officials say they absolutely want to secure, along with fentanyl, is on restoring military-to-military communication, basically broke off all together after Speaker Nancy Pelosi -- then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi traveled to Taiwan back in August of 2022, trying to restore that, finally, at this meeting.

Also the issue of Taiwan, always a hot-button issue between these two countries. Climate change, an area where U.S. officials say they can make real progress and have agreements with on China.

And trying to mitigate conflicts. At least manage them, understand where both sides stand. That, more than anything else, at this stage with this type of tension around the globe, not just between China and the United States but in the Middle East, obviously in Europe, as well, that relationship, the ability just to communicate, that more than anything else is what U.S. officials are seeking.

I want to bring in CNN's Marc Stewart, who joins us live from Beijing right now. And Marc, what's your sense of -- we have some idea of what the U.S.

wants in terms of deliverables. What does President Xi want out of this bilateral meeting?

MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, let's first talk about these military issues that you raised, Phil, because certainly they are top of mind.

And I think that we will see Xi really emphasize to President Biden that Taiwan is theirs. He also will likely raise some objections to some of the aerial surveillance that we've seen from the United States over the Straits of Taiwan, over the South China Sea.

I was talking to one analyst recently, and he pointed out the fact that this relationship between the U.S. and China is one that could quickly spin out of control. And China, in particular, does realize that that would be a very bad thing, if that were to happen.

So we're going to definitely see this emphasis on guardrails and red lines that cannot be crossed between these two nations.

There are going to be some areas, though, where there is going to be fruitful conversation. I'm going to focus on economics.

Right now, the Chinese economy is slow-growing. It's seen a lot of struggles. There's a real-estate crisis here. Young people are having a hard time finding a job.

So expect President Xi to tell President Biden that China is open for business. We want foreign dollars. There has been a lot of regulation in the past, but perhaps we can make things easier.

Also, expect to see President Xi really emphasize the fact of a successful trade relationship between the United States and China. This is a money-making venture for both countries. Lots of exports on both sides of the Pacific. So expect to hear that.

But there's going to be some caution, as we've heard Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen say, this is all about de-risking and not de- coupling, Phil.

MATTINGLY: Yes. That's the phrase.