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Biden and Xi Meet in California; Pelosi's Accused Attacker Takes Stand; Georgia Election Trial May not End Until 2025. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 15, 2023 - 06:30   ET



PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: I'm sorry that's just funny to some degree.


MATTINGLY: But it's not exactly decorum for the world's greatest deliberative body.

A quick note here, and I do think this is important to add, Markwayne Mullin is not just a United states senator. He's probably the last guy you'd want to pick a fight with on Capitol Hill. He's in the Oklahoma Wrestling Hall of Fame. He's also a trained mixed martial arts fighter. He actually has a 5-0 professional MMA record. So.

HARLOW: You wonder if Sean O'Brien knew that before, you know.

MATTINGLY: Oh, I think he did.

HARLOW: Yes. Ok. There's that. But this isn't it. There's more.

MATTINGLY: No. No, there's -- there's a third, because we have to have three to have a trend.

HARLOW: Just a Tuesday in Congress.

MATTINGLY: It wouldn't be high school, Poppy, without the cutting, very petty, in class personal invectives, right. Well, for that, I present to you House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer and Florida Democratic Congressman Jared Moskowitz.

Now, Moskowitz has been going after Comer about his investigation into the Biden family on the House Oversight Committee in increasingly personal ways over the course of the last couple weeks. On Tuesday, apparently, the defacto Democratic attack dog fully triggered the chairman.


REP. JAMES COMER (R-KY): You and Goldman (ph), who is Mr. Trust Fund, continue to try to discredit -

REP. JARED MOSKOWITZ (D-FL): I reclaim - reclaiming my time for - for -

COMER: No, I'm not going to give you your time back. We can stop the clock.

You all continue to -- you look like a Smurf, here, just going around and all this stuff. Now, listen -

MOSKOWITZ: Mr. Chairman, you have -

COMER: No, no, I'm going to tell you something -

MOSKOWITZ: You - no, no, hold on. If we're -

COMER: You continue to spew this disinformation.

MOSKOWITZ: If we're not on time, we - you - you --


HARLOW: First of all, love the Smurfs.


HARLOW: Second of all, you were there for more than a decade covering Congress.


HARLOW: Why is this happening now?


HARLOW: There are three things.


HARLOW: In one day.

MATTINGLY: Smurf is new. The near physical altercation in a hearing, not something I've expected or have seen. But, to be clear, I'm oddly passionate about Congress, about the institution. I take covering it extremely seriously, as I think you know well. But if they're going to act like clowns, I think on some level, at least in this moment, we should cover it like the circus.

There is an actual explanation here. I think it's important to note this. The last two months on Capitol Hill have been an absolute mess.


MATTINGLY: We've been covering it every step of the way. That means lawmakers have been in Washington a lot. Most don't have their families in town. There hasn't actually been much legislating or getting anything done. House Republicans have been engaged in a months long nuclear interparty war with themselves. People are annoyed. People are tired. People are irritable. As one House Republican texted me last night, everyone hates everyone right now.


MATTINGLY: That doesn't seem great. And that's why the new House speaker said this about the soon to come holiday recess.


REP. MIKE JOHNSON (R-LA): This will allow everyone to go home for a couple of days for Thanksgiving. Everybody cool off. Members have been here for, as Leader Scalise said, for ten weeks. This place is a pressure cooker. And so I think everybody can go home, we can come back reset.

HARLOW: So, let's hope.

MATTINGLY: Let's hope.

HARLOW: Let's hope that they do some yoga and get some zen.

MATTINGLY: Deep breath.

HARLOW: Take deep breaths.

MATTINGLY: Go home. See their families. I would note, it is not rare -- this is an actual strategy the leaders take, send their guys home -


MATTINGLY: Because they understand people kind of hit their brink after three to five weeks. They were at ten weeks. I'm not excusing this by any means. This is ridiculous. But people are fed up.

HARLOW: Yes. They need a break, clearly.


HARLOW: We're going to be joined, as I said, by Tim Burchett. He's going to be with us on CNN THIS MORNING a little bit later in the program. We'll ask him all about what transpired there.

Also this ahead, President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping, they'll sit down face to face in California today. It's a big deal with big consequences for the world. David Sanger with us ahead on all of that.

MATTINGLY: And we are continuing to monitor the IDF'S military operation inside Gaza's largest hospital. We have live reports from the Middle East throughout the morning and we will talk to an IDF spokesperson in the 8:00 a.m. hour.

Stay with us.


[06:37:39] MATTINGLY: Well, just hours from now in California, a rare, high- stakes sit-down between the leaders of the U.S. and China. President Biden will be meeting with President Xi Jinping near San Francisco in their first face to face meeting in a year. Now, the summit is aimed at diffusing spiraling relations between the two countries. One CNN reporter describing them as, quote, a distrustful couple on the verge of divorce. That's not great.

Let's bring in CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger.

David, we're going to start with that low bar. U.S. officials have not exactly tried to raise it over the course of the last couple of days intentionally. What is the goal here when you talk to administration officials? What do they want to take out of this?

DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think the main goal really is to just keep these two sides talking. And that doesn't sound like much, Phil, because in the U.S./China talks that I've covered over the past, I don't know, three decades, they usually focused a lot on things you could work on jointly, whether it was climate or whether it was North Korea or containing Iran or in 2008-2009 jointly moving in to basically rescue the global economy. There's none of that on the agenda here.

There was a very modest climate agreement reached by John Kerry and his counterpart in the days ahead of this, but it doesn't actually require the Chinese to back off on their burning of coal. And you'll see a series of other relatively minor agreements with the exception that probably the Chinese will commit to cracking down on the export of the precursors for fentanyl, which has obviously been a very big issue.

HARLOW: One of the -- they did commit to that too though with Trump and we didn't see it happen.

SANGER: That's right.

HARLOW: But you also have some interesting reporting, David, on artificial intelligence, as it pertains to China's increasing nuclear abilities and weaponry. What would that be? What would that look like?

SANGER: Well, Poppy, this is really fascinating. So, the U.S. and China have never had arms control talks. Remember, the Chinese, until a few years ago, kept what they called a minimum deterrent, a couple hundred nuclear weapons, while we and first the Soviets and then the Russians had arsenals of thousands.


And we're now down to 1,550 each.

The Chinese are building up. And the U.S. has been trying for years to get, including during the Trump administration, to get the Chinese into arms control talks. They say absolutely not. You know, when we have the same numbers you and Russia do, then let's talk. Until then, go away.

But now they seem to actually be a little bit concerned about the potential uses of artificial intelligence. And in quiet talks between Jake Sullivan and his counterpart, Juan Yi (ph), the leading foreign affairs official within China, they have begun to discuss the - the sort of very basic agreement that you would not allow artificial intelligence programs to be making decisions in your nuclear command and control. It sounds simple. It sounds pretty sensible. Probably more complicated than it looks. But I think you will see them come out of this with a joint panel that will begin to examine this. It's really a wage into arms control.

MATTINGLY: David, as you know quite well, we often get the most candid assessment of this administration from President Biden in fundraisers where cameras are not allowed.


MATTINGLY: A couple of times over the course of the last couple of months he's cited China and talked about what I believe he's illuding to are their economic issues, right? And he did it again last night, saying they've got some real problems. U.S. officials seem to think that gives them some space. What does that actually mean now?

SANGER: They sure do, Phil. And, you know, obviously, China, in the years that we've been dealing with them in the past, has been growing at 7, 8, 9 percent. And their overall attitude has been, you Americans are in terminal decline.

Well now, all of a sudden, they're dealing with growth rates that are probably below what we think the U.S. is going to end up growing at this year. There are a lot of American official who think this buys a little bit of time on Tiawan. A country that is growing that slowly probably would not take the risk of the economic sanctions that would follow if they actually moved against Taiwan.

And so you just keep hearing President Biden, time and again, refer to this. I don't know if he's trying to rattle the Chinese. I don't know if he's just making an observation that the power dynamics have changed. But it's the first time the U.S. has dealt with a slow growing China. And actually some believe that a slow-growing China is more dangerous because Xi may decide that he really needs to sort of stoke nationalism more.

HARLOW: David Sanger, thank you so much given all of the years you've covered China. We'll be watching what happens today. Great reporting.

SANGER: Thank you.

HARLOW: Also this, eight Las Vegas teenagers now facing murder charges in the death of their classmate. And the attacks was caught on video. We have those details, next.

MATTINGLY: And the man accused of attacking Nancy Pelosi's husband testifying at his own trial yesterday. What he told the court and who else he said he targeted. That's ahead. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


MATTINGLY: Well, this morning, eight Las Vegas juveniles are facing murder charges in the beating death of a 17-year-old classmate earlier this month. Police say there was a fight in an alley near the school over a pair of wireless headphones and a vape pen.


UNDERSHERIFF ANDREW WALSH, LAS VEGAS METROPOLITAN POLICE: In the videos that we have mentioned throughout this investigation, and that you've seen reported in the media, they're extremely disturbing. And this should be a reminder to all of us to have those difficult conversations with our children and remind them that their actions have consequences. Their actions have lasting consequences. Their actions have life-altering consequences.


MATTINGLY: The suspects here are 13 to 17 years old. Police and school officials are not giving details about what led up to the fight, but the victim's father tells CNN his son was trying to help a smaller friend who was being bullied.

HARLOW: Well, tearful testimony packed with conspiracies from the man accused of attacking former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's husband in their home in San Francisco. David DePape spoke for more than an hour, spewing a barrage of conspiracy theories, many involving former President Trump.

And this all comes more than a year after the 82-year-old Paul Pelosi was hit in the head with a hammer as police arrived on the scene.

Our Veronica Miracle is following the trial and reports.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What's going on, man?

VERONICA MIRACLE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): The man accused of attacking Paul Pelosi in his home tearfully took the stand in his own defense on Tuesday. David DePape testified when he brutally attacked Pelosi one year ago -

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Drop the hammer.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hey. Hey, hey, hey.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is going on right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), I'm not getting an answer on call back. MIRACLE: He was, in fact, looking for then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. A remorseful DePape apologized for hurting Pelosi and said he feared for the then 82-year-old's life after hitting him in the head with a hammer, saying, quote, "I actually thought he was dead until saw the charges against me and saw it was attempted murder."

DePape's testimony revealed a man consumed by conspiracy theories. He started sobbing while claiming the media spread lies about former President Donald Trump and talked about believing one of his targets was promoting pedophilia. DePape also repeated to the jury what he told investigators about his true intentions behind his visit to then Speaker Nancy Pelosi's house.

DEPAPE: Well, I was going to basically hold her hostage and I was going to talk to her and basically tell her what I'd do. And if she told the truth, I'd let her go scott free.


DEPAPE: If she (EXPLETIVE DELETED) lied, then I was going to break her kneecaps.

MIRACLE: Other targets on his list included Representative Adam Schiff, actor Tom Hanks, former U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and a university professor referred to only as target one during the trial for her protection.


MIRACLE: Paul Pelosi testified Monday his recovery after the attack is ongoing.


One year later, he said he's managed to relearn how to walk, but still regularly gets headaches due to his skull fracture.

DePape's defense team says he did attack Pelosi, a crime caught on police body cameras, but says prosecutors are wrong about DePape's motive, which they say is unrelated to Pelosi's official duties.

This trial is on federal charges of assault on the immediate family member of a federal official and attempted kidnapping of a federal official. DePape faces decades in prison if convicted. The state case against him on charges of attempted murder, burglary and assault is expected to start later this month.

Veronica Miracle, CNN, San Francisco.


MATTINGLY: Well, the Fulton County DA signaling a new timeline in the Georgia election subversion case. What that means for Donald Trump and his allies. HARLOW: Also, the IDF entering the al Shifa Hospital in Gaza. There

are reports of tanks and active fire fights inside that complex. We have the latest on the operation straight ahead.




FANI WILLIS, FULTON COUNTY, GEORGIA DISTRICT ATTORNEY: I believe in that case there will be a trial. I believe the trial will take many months. And I don't expect that we will conclude until the winter or the very early part of 2025.


MATTINGLY: That was Fulton County's Georgia DA Fani Willis warning it could take more than a year until her election racketeering case against the former president and some of his allies could wrap up. Now, if you're keeping track at home, that would be after the presidential election. So, what does that actually mean for the case, what does it mean for Trump's presidential aspirations?

Back with us to discuss, John Avlon and Sarah Feinberg.

We talk constantly about the calendar and how often he's going to be in court versus how often he's going to be on the trail and whether or not there will be any resolution to any of these things. What's your take on what we heard last night?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: I think it ignores the practical reality that Donald Trump is running for president, in last part, to say out of prison. I think we need to say that stuff out loud. The thing about the number of people clustered around him who would benefit from pardons from a siting president, including potentially himself and his family. All the January folks he's pledged to pardon. So, when all of a sudden you say that, you know, this racketeering, you know, investigation into an attempt to overthrow our election won't be done until after the next presidential election, that has all sorts of assumptions baked in. One of which is that he's not the nominees and he doesn't win. Because otherwise, even though it's a state case, a lot of this stuff gets complicated in (INAUDIBLE).

HARLOW: But you bring that state (ph) case for a reason because a sitting president can't pardon in a state case.

AVLON: Correct.

HARLOW: So, this was the one that a lot of people were looking - and New York, the Bragg, but a different level case, that, you know, there is a different bar there in terms of pardoning. The fact that she came out and said that, it would track with how hard it has been for them - was for them to even seat a jury in the other racketeering case that she's been pursuing in Georgia. SARAH FEINBERG, FORMER NY STATE OFFICIAL: That's right. And I think - I think John makes a really good point, you have to say the part out loud, which is that like the whole point here is, he's just trying to keep himself out of jail, right? And, you know, I think that's one of the reasons that we're seeing his behavior deteriorate beyond even what we've seen in the past, right? Like, it's almost like there's an underlying panic now, whether it's vermin, whether it's these cases. It just sort of continues to spiral.

MATTINGLY: Can I swing back to Capitol Hill for a minute just because -

AVLON: Your old haunts?

MATTINGLY: I - I love it and I also -- I have a fellow Hill rat at the table, again, that's not a pejorative, that's -

HARLOW: Who you calling a rat, Mattingly?

FEINBERG: No, it's a compliment. It's a compliment. It's a compliment, yes. Yes, yes, yes.

MATTINGLY: It's a compliment.

AVLON: We were talking about vermin earlier.

MATTINGLY: Veteran of the Senate and the House.


MATTINGLY: And I can't imagine you've ever seen it get that bad before. Is that a fair assessment of things?

FEINBERG: You mean two near fistfights yesterday alone?


FEINBERG: No. No, I've never seen it get that bad. Yes.

MATTINGLY: Why? Why do you think it - is that like the politics now? Is it just because they'd been there for so many weeks in a row?

FEINBERG: I think it's - I saw this stuff about, they've been there for too long and, like, you know, four weeks is the max and everyone needs to go home and take a break. I mean, give me a break. This felt -- it was just so performative. And I feel like if everyone could just walk into the United States Capitol every day or into their office on Capitol Hill and remind themselves, it's not about you. It's actually about your constituents. It's not about looking like a man in the Senate committee hearing. It's not about, you know, threatening to beat somebody up. It's actually just about getting stuff done for your constituents. And we've completely lost that. It's so performative. It's embarrassing.

AVLON: Yes. I mean, I think there is a lot of playing to the cheap seats and kind of to get -- to get that addiction to attention. But it's also the downstream effect of Donald Trump, right? It's - it's about, you know, the new normal, particularly, you know, among some folks is threats, intimidation, trying to act like a tough guy and get a lot of attention and presumably, you know, base love for that kind of base activity, but it totally ignores the fact that, act like a U.S. senator because, guess what, you are one.

It's not a bar at 4:00 in the morning. It's the Senate chamber at 11:00 in the morning. Don't threaten to beat - you know, I don't blame the teamster for pushing back, I blame the U.S. senator for acting like a total chump.

And the same thing that in this, you know, of all - alleged altercation and kidney punches between two sitting congressmen where one accuses the other of, you know, being a bully who hides behind skirts, what the hell are we talking about here? Grow up. Act like someone who is a public servant who has the public trust, who has the honor of serving in Congress under the Capitol dome, which is a civically sacred place. But instead we've seen this sort of defining deviancy down this degradation of our democracy and they directly contributed to it.

HARLOW: Yes. And do they pay any consequence? It doesn't appear it -

FEINBERG: No, of course not. Nothing.

MATTINGLY: They probably raise more money.

HARLOW: Yes, I was just going to say -

FEINBERG: That's right. That's right. And while those arguments were going on, on The Hill, and they're acting like children, there's almost 300,000 people on the mall marching because they feel like the political tone is getting to a point where it feels like the 1940s.

AVLON: Great point.

HARLOW: That is a great point.

FEINBERG: At the exact same time.

HARLOW: That's the juxtaposition.



HARLOW: That's the split screen yesterday.

FEINBERG: Mortifying.



HARLOW: Sarah, thank you so much. Good to have you.

MATTINGLY: Thanks, guys.

HARLOW: John Avlon, as always.

CNN THIS MORNING continues now.