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CNN This Morning

President Biden to Meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping at Economic Summit; News Agencies Seeking More Access to Gaza to Cover Israeli Invasion; IDF Spokesman Shows Journalist Weapons Storage Unit Near Hospital in Gaza; NYC Mayor to Address FBI Probe into his Campaign, Car Theft is Up 98 Percent in Washington D.C. since Last Year, Johnson Faces Speakership Test with Vote to Avert Shutdown. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired November 14, 2023 - 08:00   ET



JOSH BARRO, WRITER, "VERY SERIOUS" NEWSLETTER: A lot of people who were for Ron DeSantis are not there because they desperately want anything other than Trump, and if they're forced to choose between Trump and Haley, they're going to choose. Trump. Vice Versa, you have a lot of voters like that on Haley's side. So I think it remains extremely difficult to consolidate.

ASTEAD HERNDON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Nikki Haley needs Donald Trump's voters if she wants to have any shot at becoming a serious alternative to him. She has to start peeling some of those people off. There simply aren't enough left of the kind of original GOP establishment, and the base took real pride in the kind of working class switch that Donald Trump brought. There is real kind of serious, I think, things she would have to speak to if that community. But there is not enough typical Haley voters for a traditional path there. That's why she's not talking about Trump like that, because she needs his vote.



MATTINGLY: It's the top of the hour. We could actually keep talking about this, and I hope we do soon. Alyssa, Josh, Astead, thanks, guys, appreciate it.

And CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning, everyone. It is the top of the hour. We are so glad you're with us on this Tuesday. Let's get right to it.

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 big economic summit with other global leaders. We are already learning of a potential U.S./China deal on fentanyl. MATTINGLY: It comes as President Biden is juggling his support of

Israel's war against Hamas with the growing peril around Gaza's hospitals. The president --

HARLOW: -- and the government he leads is now just three days away from a potential shutdown. That's right. A vote to avert it is set for today, but the measure proposed includes no funding for either the war in Ukraine or Israel's war against Hamas.

This hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

Let's begin here right now. The families of hostages being held in Gaza are marching from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They are demanding action.




HARLOW: They are calling on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to secure the release of their loved ones.

MATTINGLY: Here in the U.S. tens of thousands of people are expected to gather this morning on the National Mall to rally in support of Israel and the release of hostages. This all comes as Israeli airstrikes continue to pummel Gaza and the relentless ground assault grinds on. President Biden is urging restraint as Israeli troops and tanks surround Gaza's largest hospital. It's just one of the huge foreign policy crises he is dealing with as he prepares to leave D.C. and fly to the west coast where he will be meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping tomorrow.

Arlette Saenz is live for us at the White House. Arlette, you put the convergence of all of these significant geopolitical issues at the same exact time. What are the expectations on this trip?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Phil, President Biden is certainly juggling a host of foreign issues right now, including the conflict in Israel, and also preparing for this meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. If you can hear the music behind me right now, there is actually a group of pro-Israeli volunteers just outside the White House right now trying to raise awareness to those 240 hostages being held by Hamas. This group has been out here for several hours now, and it comes, as you noted, there will be those protests, demonstrations here in Washington in support of Israel.

But as the president is preparing to head out to San Francisco for this critical meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, he is expected to bring up both the conflicts between Russia and Ukraine and the conflict between Israel and Hamas in this meeting. Officials say that the president is hoping to lean on Chinese President Xi Jinping and his relationship with Iran to try to push Iran not to try to escalate this war any further, from preventing it taking actions to potentially widen the conflict. That is something the president is planning to bring up in his meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

This meeting is all about trying to stabilize the relationship between the two countries at a time when there have been moments of tension and strain over the course of the past year between the U.S. and China. Another issue Biden is expected to press Xi on is trying to restore the military-to-military communications. That is something that China pulled the plug on last year after former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. They wanted to try to restore that communication to prevent any surprises from occurring.

There are also expected to be a major agreement announced when it comes to the fentanyl crisis, something that the Biden administration has been working towards for quite some time. But this meeting will be watched very closely as the president is trying to find a way to maintain this relationship without preventing it from deteriorating any further.

MATTINGLY: Arlette Saenz live for us on the north lawn, thank you.

HARLOW: Six weeks into the Israel-Hamas war, the conflict is taking a severe toll on journalists. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, 42 journalists and media workers have been killed covering this war, 37 of them are Palestinian, 14 are Israeli, one is Lebanese. And the CPJ says the first month of the war was the deadliest month for reporters since it started collecting data back in 1992.


On top of that, nine journalists have been injured, three have been reported missing, 13 arrested. Despite all of that danger that journalists face in the region, news organizations are now asking for more access to the Gaza Strip to cover the ongoing war. In a new letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, 11 news organizations, that includes CNN, highlight the need for more journalists on the ground in Gaza to document what's happening there.

MATTINGLY: The organization is writing in part, "We understand the risks that reporting on the ground at a time of conflict entails, but we also know that factual and partial information is vital to enable the world to understand this crisis." There are a small number of journalists already reporting from inside Gaza, but in the midst of the fighting consistent reporting has been a significant challenge. Without significant journalistic presence on the ground, news organizations are unable to verify competing claims from the Hamas and IDF.

As you are about to see, the IDF has allowed some journalists to embed with them on missions in Gaza, but those come with certain conditions, including being escorted by the IDF. Israel has focused its operations in and around Gaza's hospitals is growing more intense as the IDF alleges parts of the basement of this children's medical center was a, quote, Hamas command center.

CNN's Nic Robertson, a foreign correspondent who has covered conflict for more than 30 years, is embedded with the IDF in Gaza. He says it's the worst destruction he's ever seen, and he joins us now from just east of the Gaza border. Nic, tell us what you saw.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, this was a level and a scale of destruction that was worse than I previously have seen in Gaza following the 2014 incursion, and perhaps I think some of the worst destruction on such a big scale than I have ever seen across my whole career. Just looking over my shoulder here, John Torego (ph) is just going to zoom in there. You're looking at the Jabalia area, smoke rising from it inside of Gaza. That, and these images we are about to show you, that's where the IDF took us yesterday.


ROBERTSON: Driving into Gaza with the Israeli forces, it's a war zone. The conditions of our access only show officers, no faces of soldiers, and don't show sensitive equipment. We are passing mile after mile of destruction, buildings blown, collapsed, nothing untouched by the fury of Israel's hunt for Hamas. Streets here crushed back to sand.

Shops, everything that we see, no sign of any civilians here.

A few miles in, we pull up at a command post. Soldiers living in blown apartment buildings.

Hard to imagine how civilians endured the bombardment here.

Our next journey, much deeper into Gaza. We arrive 100 meters from a battle with Hamas. Tanks blasting targets and nearby buildings. The IDF's top spokesperson waiting for us.

BRIG. GEN. DANIEL HAGARI, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES SPOKESPERSON: You know we are conducting an operation inside Gaza next to a hospital.

ROBERTSON: Israel is facing massive international pressure over the destruction of homes, the shockingly high civilian death toll, and in the last few days, over its apparently heavy-handed tactics at hospitals. They have brought us here to show the connection he says exists between Hamas and the children's hospital.

HAGARI: We are here in with bulldozers to reveal the tunnels that we suspect are underneath the hospital.

ROBERTSON: Hagari has brought us here to show the connection he says exists between Hamas and the Rantisi Children's Hospital.

HAGARI: We are now here in an area between a hospital, a school, and a terrorist's house.

ROBERTSON: A Hamas commander, he says, lived there. He points out the solar panels on the roof.

HAGARI: This is a tunnel. You can see here.

ROBERTSON: This is the ladder going down? HAGARI: You see the ladder going down.

ROBERTSON: I see the ladder going down.

HAGARI: OK, this is a 20-meter tunnel. Look it here. Look at the -- look at the tunnel. Be careful here. Look down here. Cables are going down to the tunnel, OK?

ROBERTSON: So they are hardwired into the tunnel?

HAGARI: What I wanted to show you, the solar panels on the terrorist house provide electricity directly to the tunnel.

ROBERTSON: We are in what is an active fire zone here. You can hear the small arms fire. The IDF say they are still clearing this area out. We are getting definitely -- we are taking a bit of cover, because they say we are still taking fire.


But over here, we were able to smell what smelled like rotting flesh, bodies perhaps buried underneath the rubble.

Hagari later tells us he took a big risk bringing us into such a combat zone. It is clear he wants this story told.

As we finally reach the hospital, it is already getting dark. A huge hole has been blasted through the walls into the basement.

Why is the hospital so damaged?

HAGARI: Why is hospital so damaged?


HAGARI: It's an important question. We came to this hospital five days ago. There was still patients inside the hospital. We did not enter into the hospital.

ROBERTSON: He claims since then, all patients were evacuated by hospital staff.

HAGARI: We assist this evacuation, of course, to make it a safe path for all the patients in the hospital. We do not know that the hospital is entirely clear. We do not know. We only entered to this area which was suspected because we are being fired.

ROBERTSON: Hagari leads us through a warren of basement corridor to this room.

HAGARI: This was the armory, OK?

ROBERTSON: This was the Hamas armory?

HAGARI: Yes. ROBERTSON: He shows us a few rusting guns and some explosives. These

guns alone have potentially huge implications for Gaza's hospitals and Israel's apparent push to take control of them.

The International Committee for the Red Cross say that hospitals are given special protection under international humanitarian law in a time of war. But if militants store weapons there or use them as a base of fire, then that protection falls away.

In other rooms, he shows us a motorbike with a bullet hole in it that he suspects was used by Hamas attackers October 7th. And nearby, possible evidence, hostages could have been held here.

HAGARI: We are now in the basement in the same area yards from the motorcycle. We see a chair. We see a rope. This here, a woman's clothes, a woman's -- something covering a woman.

ROBERTSON: You think a woman was tied up in this chair?

HAGARI: This is an assumption. Going to be checked by DNA.

ROBERTSON: More evidence, Hagari says, points towards Hamas and possible hostage presence below the hospital.

And by bringing us to this hospital and showing us the connection that you believe exists between the terrorists and the possibly hostages, what does this say about the other hospitals here in Gaza?

HAGARI: Cynically, Shifa hospital is known to by fact, by intelligence, to be a terrorist hub. And also it's suspicious also in holding hostages. This is the best shelter for the terror war machine of Hamas.

ROBERTSON: But the hospital authority said they have no knowledge of Hamas or the groups inside the hospitals. Is that possible?

HAGARI: I think it's not possible for a hospital to have this kind of infrastructure. We knew the terrorists were here. We knew --

ROBERTSON: How did you know?

HAGARI: We knew by intelligence. Also, we got some fire from this area.

ROBERTSON: But this area or this building?

HAGARI: From this area. And we were right to fire, because what we found, an armory.

ROBERTSON: But so much damage all around here.

HAGARI: There is damage all around here because Hamas made it impossible for us to fight it. They build all this infrastructure in tunnels and in hospital, around areas populated.

ROBERTSON: As we exit the hospital, it is already dark. We are just getting ready to leave now. The firefight is still going

on, still intense. Bullets fired, explosions up the street there.

This war and the controversy surrounding it far from resolved.


HARLOW: Nic, that is extraordinary how close you were to the ongoing fighting, how you got into those buildings and asked the critically important questions of the IDF. When we saw near the end of your piece what they point as possible evidence that hostage was held there, did they show you and talk to you about how they are navigating this ongoing fighting that you were so close to with trying to find the hostages? Because the real fear is from the families, could our loved ones die in the middle of this fighting?

ROBERTSON: They are. And it's not something that the IDF really seems to want to speak a lot about. They don't want to get into detail about it. But it was very clear they had a huge emphasis on discovering everything they could about the tunnels. Not just, I think, to prove to us and the world that they believe that there is this connection between tunnels and hospitals and other Hamas activities. Not that. I think because it's a real live part of their investigation into the whereabouts of the hostages. Whatever they can try to figure out from that location and learn from that location can potentially apply to other -- to other hospitals. And there is a sense among the IDF that when the hospitals have been evacuated, if, and I say if because that's only -- that is as far as they will go in describing this, if there were hostages there, then they think that perhaps they could have been moved away from the hospitals when the hospitals were evacuated.


And that's not something that they were able to check on at the time and it's something that's very difficult for them to check on going forward. But that is a concern, and I think when you see people literally digging in huge holes of dirt at the side of the road in an active combat zone, no military commander would ever send his troops into danger to try to dig up a tunnel unless there was a hugely important reason.

And again, I don't believe that is only to prove to the world the connection, but it is to find out more information about possible whereabouts of hostages.

MATTINGLY: Nic Robertson, the proximity and the depth of your reporting, extremely valuable. Thank you.

HARLOW: New York City Mayor Eric Adams will take questions from reporters today as the FBI investigates his campaign's alleged ties to Turkey.

MATTINGLY: And a secret service agent on President Biden's granddaughter's security detail fired shots of people attempting to break into a government vehicle. Why this matches a disturbing trend in the nation's capital, that's next.


HARLOW: Welcome back, so in just a couple of hours, New York City Mayor Eric Adams will take questions about the FBI's investigation into his campaign financing and possible foreign influence. These agents reportedly trying to determine whether the Turkish Government benefited from donations to Adams' 2021 Mayoral Campaign.

Federal Agents, as we've reported, seized Adams phones and his iPad early last week. Important to note, he has not been accused of any wrongdoing. Gloria Pazmino is following all of this. This is crucial because after they took the phones, he was in front of reporters last week and didn't bring it up and no one knew, so they couldn't ask.

Now, it was going to be a flurry of questions.


GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: We didn't actually learn it for several days, we learned it last Friday that the FBI had seized his phones, his electronics. And I think we need to start there, right? There are two big things that have happened in the last few days.

The mayor's electronics were seized, and we're learning more about what federal authorities are looking into, both the potential influence of foreign donors, foreign nationals who made donations to his campaign, and whether or not the mayor used his office, his authority, his influence to help some of those donors, specifically around the issue of fire safety permits that were needed at the Turkish Consulate.

That's what our law enforcement sources have been telling us. We know that the mayor, before he took office, when he was still Brook and Borough President, sent some text messages to fire officials asking them to take a look into something that the consulate needed help with.

He has argued that that was just part of doing his job. He was looking out for his constituents and that there's nothing to see there. But I think today there's going to be a lot of questions for the mayor, who, as you said, has not been accused of any wrongdoing and has said that he has nothing to hide.

But here you have the FBI issuing a warrant, which means that they presented probable cause that there was evidence of a crime on those electronics. It may not mean that the mayor committed the crime, but they're

looking for something.

And for whatever reason, they told the judge they needed to hold on to these electronics and that a warrant was necessary to do that.

HARLOW: And there's no telling when the FBI may come forward with anything. Right. I mean, this could go on for a long time without us knowing much from officials.

PAZMINO: Correct, and as that develops, this is going to be something that the mayor is going to continue to have to answer questions about. And, of course, he is trying to run the city. There are several problems and issues that he is trying to solve right now, namely the migrant crisis, arguably one of the biggest issues affecting the city right now.

And this is taking a lot of his time and attention and focus. So it may take a while, we've seen similar cases before, and I guess we'll see how long it takes.

HARLOW: Well, remember, he was pulled back from that important meeting at the White House to deal with a matter.

Now we know what the matter is. Thank you, Gloria, for the reporting, Phil.

MATTINGLY: The DC Metropolitan Police Department and Secret Service, are this morning, investigating an agent on President Biden's Granddaughter's security detail. The Federal Agent fired shots at people he saw trying to break into a government vehicle.

This comes as a disturbing trend shows vehicle theft in Washington DC has nearly doubled in the past year. Harry Enten is here to break down the numbers. Harry, start with this seems to be a national trend to some degree, right?

HARRY ENTEN, CNN SENIOR DATA: It absolutely does, Phil. And when we look at car thefts nationally, this is in the first half of 2023 across 37 cities. Look at how high it is compared to pre-pandemic, up over 100 percent. You look at within the last year nationally, look at this, still up 34 percent.

There's been a lot of crime that's been dropping, but car theft in fact has been going up. You mentioned Washington, so let's take a look at Washington. Well, apparently, we're not taking a look at Washington because this screen just went blank.

MATTINGLY: That's right up.

ENTEN: There we go, we got it right back.

MATTINGLY: Call it out, it'll come back to you, Harry.

ENTEN: Beautiful, okay, car thefts in 2023 versus 2022. Look, Washington nearly up 100 percent, up 98 percent. That is the largest in sort of the major city. Chicago up 56 percent, here in New York City, it's up 18 percent. Los Angeles is actually down 2 percent. So, we do see differing rates across the country.

Overall car thefts are up, some cities are down, but Washington is very much on the upper end of the spectrum, up nearly 100 percent this year versus last year, year-to-date.

MATTINGLY: A district resident as of like three months ago, I can vouch. It is a major, major issue, when you look at overall crime, how it compares, where things actually stand right now, what do you see?

ENTEN: Yeah, so first, what I want to point out is it's not just that we're seeing the change in rates going up, it's that the rates are really high. So, in 2023, these are the car thefts per 100,000 cars among residents. Look at how high Washington is over 2000 per 100,000 cars.

Compare that to New York City where it's just 670. So, it's not just that the rates are increasing, it's that they were already high to begin with. Here's the other thing about Washington, though. You were mentioning it, Phil, which is the overall crime rate in 2023 versus 2022, it is up.

In Washington DC, it's up 27 percent. So, a lot of people aren't feeling safe there. Compare that to a place like New York where crime is actually down by a percent. So the fact is Washington, DC, has higher vehicle theft, and it's part

of a larger trend of overall crime growing overall.

So it's a big reason why I think a lot of people in Washington, DC don't exactly feel really safe these days.

MATTINGLY: Yeah, that's a great point. That's fascinating numbers, Harry, as always, my friend thanks you.

ENTEN: Thank you. Poppy.

HARLOW; All right, just three days to go until the government could shut down. Will Democrats get behind a Republican led two tier solution?


MATTINGLY: And eight Republicans joining Democrats in blocking an impeachment vote for Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas. We're going to speak with the Congressman who voted for the impeachment, that's next.



REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): This new innovation, the latter CR, the two stage CR is an important innovation. It's a paradigm shift. So, breaking it up, doing part of the bills in early January, part by February 2, allows Congress to do its job.

And so this will have to be a bipartisan measure to prevent the government from shutting down. Because I guarantee you the government shut down, you know who they would blame? They'd blame the House Republicans.


MATTINGLY: That was Speaker Mike Johnson just moments ago on Fox News. You can tell by the clock behind me it's crunch time. And while you may be numb to us saying that in relation to government funding, we're here again just three days left to avoid a government shutdown.

House Republicans currently pursuing what you've just heard from the speaker, a two-step plan, a staggered plan to fund the government. Neither of those new deadlines have anything to do with additional aid for Israel or Ukraine. Meanwhile, eight Republicans voted with Democrats on Monday to block an impeachment vote for Homeland Security Alejandro Mayorkas.

Instead, the House referred it to an impeachment resolution to the Homeland Security Committee. Now, since retaking the House majority, Republicans have sought to impeach Mayorkas over his handling of the migrant crisis at the US-Mexico border.

Joining us now is South Dakota Congressman Dusty Johnson. Sir, we appreciate your time. I want to start with, and I know you are not a spokesperson for the House Democratic Caucus, nor will you be in their closed door meeting in about 30 minutes. But have you gotten any signals that they will help your conference get this over the finish line today?