Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Biden and Xi Tout Renewing Communications; Fareed Zakaria is Interviewed about U.S.-China Relations; Evidence Locked Down in Georgia Case; Manchin on 2024 Plans; Trump and Opponents View of 2024 Election. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 16, 2023 - 06:30   ET




PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: Well, President Biden says the U.S. and China are moving back toward clear, direct communications after his high stakes meeting with Chinese Leader Xi Jinping. It comes after the two leaders didn't speak for a year, stoking fears that their countries were on a path toward direct conflict. But after spending four hours together, the leaders agreed to start the process for restoring military communications and be able to call one another directly whenever needed. Xi now says the lines of communications have been reopened and will stay that way


PRESIDENT XI JINPING, PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA (through translator): It is the reaching out to each other by our peoples that has time and again brought China-U.S. relations from a low app (ph) back onto the right track. I'm convinced that once open, the door of China-U.S. relations cannot be shut again.


MATTINGLY: CNN's Marc Stewart is live for us in Beijing with more.

Marc, I have been completely fascinated over the course of the last couple of weeks and then since the summit about how state media has been covering it. How they've been covering it in the lead up. How they've been covering it in the after. Very positive tone talking about relations all the way back to the flying tigers to some degree.

Is this real? Have things really moved in a very positive direction here?

MARC STEWART, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, keep in mind, state media is really the government's messenger service. So, we are seeing very positive response. In fact, the coverage in the last 24 hours or so has been very much focused on Xi Jinping, not so much Joe Biden.

[06:35:07] In fact, China calling these talks positive and comprehensive. Also a lot of themes about Xi Jinping showing strength, telling Joe Biden what's not negotiable. That being Taiwan. Also a headline that caught our attention today, bringing up the fact that Xi Jinping let Joe Biden know that he should not necessarily be meddling or getting involved in Chinese affairs. That's some of the messaging, Phil, that we are seeing today. It's just a taste. But, again, this is coming from state media, which is the very much the vehicle, the mouthpiece of the Chinese government.

MATTINGLY: Marc, on the Taiwan issue, look, this is always going to be an intractable issue and very delicate issue between these two countries within this bilateral relationship. Was there any message from Xi last night that either caught your ear or caught your attention about what the path forward is there?

STEWART: Well, I think that going into these talks, there's always this agreement that there are just going to be areas where we're going to have to agree to disagree. I mean there is no philosophical shift on either side about it. So, that's still going to be a little bit murky, but Xi Jinping certainly making it clear that in his view Taiwan is theirs, being China.

MATTINGLY: Yes, they've been unequivocal about that. The ambiguity, to some degree, on the policy is the point.

Marc, we appreciate it, as always. Thank you.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right, let's talk about all of this with CNN host Fareed Zakaria, host of "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS," Sunday's at 10:00 a.m.

Fareed, no better voice to have on all of this.

The optics were, you know, pretty good, right, all around for stability, I suppose. But, you know, Biden still did say to our MJ Lee that, yes, Xi Jinping is a dictator and they are still far apart on some key things, like Taiwan. What was accomplished for world stability yesterday?

FAREED ZAKARIA, CNN HOST, "FAREED ZAKARIA GPS": Well, I think it actually was a big step forward. As you say, there are lots of complications, lots of tensions, but that's precisely why you need to get this relationship in a manageable, working mode so that there's frequent contact, frequent communication. You know, you don't have misunderstandings, so you don't have accidents and things like that.

And if you think about U.S.-China relations over the last two or three years under the Biden administration, it starts out very rancorous (ph). Both the secretary of state and the national security adviser go to Anchorage and they essentially read out a kind of riot act to the Chinese, who then respond very forcefully. That was the mode of the relationship. Very little contact. What contact there was ended up being public posturing and then there was a series of things that the United States did, like the chip ban and things like that, that enraged the Chinese. So, you know, things were not in a great place. And now I think where

we are getting to is a much more stable relationship where the Chinese understand, the United States is going to do certain things that limit China's access to high-end technology and things like that. The U.S. is going to continue to build alliances around Asia to deter China. But the United States does not want war. The United States wants a working relationship. It wants to have trade. It wants to engage as much as it can in -- within this competitive framework.

And Xi Jinping seems to have changed. The big shift, and I agree, the state media is very interesting on - in this front. But the big shift here is that Xi has decided to kind of reign in the wolf warrior diplomacy, make nice, speak about how there are a thousand reasons why U.S.-China relations should be better and not one reason why it should be worse, which is what he said to Chuck Schumer.

So, the big shift here is China, not the U.S.

MATTINGLY: And I think that raises the big question. I now U.S. officials believe it's primarily economy related, but the why, because you -- you go back to Anchorage. It's a great citation of this relationship. That was a slap in the face, I think, of reality to some degree for administration officials, the kind of wolf warrior diplomacy, how they were going to operate, that was going to be the way. And it's not anymore, right?

ZAKARIA: Yes, I think you're right, that some part of it is the economy. The Chinese economy is not in great shape. They need to boost it. Good relations, good economics relations with the U.S. would help them. By the way, the nature of economics, it would also help the U.S. You know, we worry about inflation. One of the reasons we were able to keep prices so low for the last 20 or 30 years has been that China has been a kind of deflations machine in the world economy.

But the second part of it is China's wolf warrior diplomacy hasn't worked very well. It alienated Japan.


It alienated India. It alienated Australia. It's alienated Vietnam and the Philippines. So, the Chinese are realizing that, you know, they're in an unusual position. They're not like the United States. We sit, you know, with our neighbors, two vast oceans, the Pacific Ocean and the Atlantic Ocean, and two friendly neighbors, Canada and Mexico. The -- China is rising to power in a very crowded neighborhood. And every time it rises with a certain degree of assertion and arrogance, it - you know, it - it annoys, it makes anxious all its neighbors. And so perhaps what you're seeing is a course correction that is more meaningful. We don't know yet. It may - there maybe this is just PR. But it's certainly very different PR from what we've seen for the last few years.

HARLOW: Fareed, turning to Israel's war with Hamas. Really interesting reporting this week from Barak Ravid (ph) (INAUDIBLE) that the U.S. Defense secretary has been warning his counterpart in Israel, Yoav Gallant, against Israel trying to escalate any tension with Lebanon in the north of Israel, Hezbollah.

But you wrote about the lessons Israel should learn from 1982, going in, trying to take out the PLO, you know, achieving that objective, but the price they paid was enormous, helping sort of birth Hezbollah.

Do you believe that Israel is listening to any of that or heeding any of that experience or U.S. warning?

ZAKARIA: So far what has been striking is that the Biden administration's strategy towards Israel has been, let's hug them close, let's demonstrate enormous solidarity and build political capital that we can use to restrain them. That was (INAUDIBLE) - you know, Biden went right away, the only world leader to go to Israel and, you know, a real bear hug for Bibi Netanyahu, somebody he's had difficulty with.

One would have to say, so far the strategy is not paying off. The Israeli government, Netanyahu's government, is pocketing the support and resisting the pressure. The Biden administration council, as best we can tell, that they should not do an all-out ground invasion. It should have been more targeted incursions. They should have focused really narrowly on Hamas and the 30,000 or 40,000 militants in Hamas rather than this sweeping destruction.

I think the Israeli government feels that it needs to do something big and dramatic to demonstrate that it can respond to what happened. In a way, you know, exactly what the United States felt after 9/11. There were - I remember talking to administration officials at the time, Bush administration officials, who almost were saying, you know, Afghanistan is too small. We're not -- we have to demonstrate that we can - we can use a 2 by 4 and, you know, and -- and get people's attention in the Middle East. And you wonder whether something very similar is happening in Israel. And the danger, of course, is, you know, you can cause a lot of damage, you can - you can have a dramatic show, a lot of sound and fury, but what do you leave in the wake of that, you know, a lot of disruption, a lot of alienation.

As I pointed out in that article, the '82 invasion of Lebanon ended up creating Hezbollah, which has been a 35-year thorn in Israel's side. Let's hope something like that doesn't come out of this.

MATTINGLY: Fareed Zakaria, we always appreciate your time. Thank you.

ZAKARIA: A pleasure.

MATTINGLY: Well, a Fulton County judge says he will bar the release of, quote, "sensitive evidence" in the 2020 election subversion case after a key video was leaked. The details on that, next.

HARLOW: We do have a CNN exclusive report this morning. When Hamas militants broke through the border fence and began their terror attack on October 7th. Many of them were wearing these GoPro cameras. And we will bring you some of that footage, ahead.



HARLOW: Welcome back.

Now to the Georgia election subversion case facing Donald Trump and some of his allies. The Fulton County superior court judge now says he plans to lock down and bar the public release of sensitive evidence. This is after some video evidence was leaked this week.

Nick Valencia has the reporting. He joins us from Atlanta.

How is the judge going to do that? And do we know who leaked it?


The judge didn't issue a ruling from the bench yesterday but seemed to indicate that he's going to ask prosecutors to designate what's sensitive in these discovery files and then give defense attorneys 14 days to respond. That was one headline from what happened in court yesterday.

The others was who was behind the leak. Jonathan Miller is a defense attorney for one of the co-defendants in this case, Misty Hampton, and in open court Miller admitted to being the one that sent the videos to media outlets. He said he believed that the public had a right to know what was in those proffer videos, or the videos that were recorded by the former co-defendants that took plea deals in this case. The judge, though, didn't appear to be swayed by that argument and seemed to indicate that he's going to issue a written ruling in the coming days.


HARLOW: I also think it's so interesting that the DA there, Fani Willis, has, I think for the first time, moved to revoke someone's bond.

VALENCIA: That's right. This is the first time that she's tried to do this in this case. She wants to send Harrison Floyd back to jail because of his alleged actions to intimidate witnesses and potential co-defendants - or co - I should say witnesses in this case. She's pointed to more than a dozen social media posts by Floyd in which he names Georgia election officials that are likely going to be called as witnesses in this case. It is worth noting that Floyd is alleged to have -- try to intimidate one of the election workers in this case. And it appears as though, from what has been said in open court from his defense attorneys, that his defense's strategy is to relitigate the election results of the 2020 election.


HARLOW: OK, Nick Valencia, thanks for all that reporting. Appreciate it.


MATTINGLY: Well, Senator Joe Manchin telling our Kaitlan Collins that he is absolutely considering running for president next year. Why he says he won't be a spoiler, though, if he does choose to run. That's next.


HARLOW: And top House Democrats evacuated from DNC headquarters after police clashed with protesters calling for a cease-fire in Gaza. That reporting, ahead.


MATTINGLY: Well, in a brand new interview with CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Senator Joe Manchin is warning against a second Trump presidency as he explores a potential presidential run himself.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): Well, I think we'll lose democracy as we know it, because he has no regard whatsoever for the rule of law, who we are as a country. Basically, the orderly transfer of power. And I just -

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR: But that's the White House argument as well as to why they don't believe you should run -

MANCHIN: Well, but the bottom line -

COLLINS: Because they believe that if you did, you'd take votes from Biden and help re-elect Donald Trump.


MANCHIN: Let me just tell you, I'm not going to be a spoiler. I'm not looking for any spoilers. But I'm looking for basically how we're going to govern this country, Kaitlan, from the middle. You cannot run your life from the extremes.


MATTINGLY: Back at the table, "Semafor" reporter Shelby Talcott, political video reporter for "The Washington Post," Joyce Koh, and CNN's senior political analyst and anchor, John Avlon. He co-founded the political group No Labels but is no longer involved with the organization.


MATTINGLY: Why are you laughing?

JOHN AVLON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST AND ANCHOR: I just - I appreciate the very detailed disclaimer.

MATTINGLY: You know, we feel like your resume matters.


MATTINGLY: And we want to highlight everything you've done. Also a speech writer. He's written a bunch of books. In all seriousness, though, and I thought this was why Kaitlan's

interview was so great. What Manchin said would tell you he's not going to run.



AVLON: Yes. But he obviously is making noises -

MATTINGLY: Thinking about it. Right.

AVLON: Like he is running and has been pretty consistent about this.

Look, I think Joe Manchin is sincere. And I think folks on the far left who demonize him now are blatantly (ph) waking up to why Joe Manchin was important to the Democratic Party. Essential to getting the Biden agenda passed, but also why you need red state and rural Democrats who might not agree with you on every issue.

On the issue of running for president, you know, I couldn't agree more when he talks about the risks of electing Donald Trump to our democratic republic. But he seems to believe that he won't be a spoiler. There's little evidence for that.

Now, if you put a Republican at the top of that hypothetical No Labels ticket, that might detract. But we've never had an election with potentially four independent candidates. It's impossible to say how that will play out. But many of them are on the Democratic side of the aisle, or to the left of certainly Donald Trump. And that means hard- core support from Donald Trump is more likely to translate to winning a plurality of votes and/or no one getting a 270, kicking it to the House, where Republicans have a majority of congressional delegations right now.

So, it's a dangerous game to play. And that's, I think, the concern that a lot of folks have. It's not the sincerity, or, frankly, from my perspective, the need to show more ability to govern from the middle to reunite the nation.


HARLOW: You know what else Kaitlan did in that interview, in the way that she brilliantly does, is she stumped him on, are you going to leave the Democratic Party? And that was key.

AVLON: Right.

HARLOW: And we'll have her on to talk a lot about that a little bit later in the show.

But you've got new reporting, Shelby, on how Trump's team, and his opponents, by the way on the Republican side, because Manchin's sure that he would pull from there -- I don't think everyone's so sure of that -- see everything lining up for '24. SHELBY TALCOTT, REPORTER, "SEMAFOR": Yes, it's been really

interesting. So, Trump's team has admitted that - well, it's not really an admission, this is a positive thing for them -- that things are just lining up for them. And anti-Trump Republicans are also admitting that it's really hard this cycle to beat Trump. You have the Republicans leading Democrats on trust and handling the economy, immigration, crime, support for a border wall, his -- has changed since 2015. The indictments are not really making an impact as of now. And so it seems like even though Trump has all of these legal issues, it -- everything else is sort of lining up for him. People are unhappy with Joe Biden. And, at the same time, even outside groups who are trying to elect somebody who isn't Trump, there's been one or two who have bowed out of the primary because they have found that what they are doing and their efforts are just not making an impact.

MATTINGLY: Joyce, to Shelby's great reporting, that is unequivocally the case in the Republican primary. The argument you will hear is, that's not going to a carry over into a general. And even from the Biden team says, wait until it's one-on-one and then the game starts to change. Do you think that's true?


MATTINGLY: In terms of what they're confident about right now, the durability of that is very much an open question.

KOHN: Yes, and I think that that's why you see other polls being done right now too, seeing how Biden matches up against not just Trump but other candidates, like Nikki Haley, because if Trump wins this nomination, it does not necessarily mean that he's going to win the general election against Biden. They already had that matchup back in 2020. And we saw the results of the election there. And I think that is one of the main cruxes of the Biden administration or the Biden campaign going forward saying that he won in 2020, he can beat him again in 2024, especially with these indictments and this very lengthy and robust legal schedule that Trump faces going into this election year.

HARLOW: Some other interesting reporting you have, Shelby, on Trump's team's reaction to the blowback they've gotten from him using the term "vermin" to describe his political opponents.

TALCOTT: Yes, it's been really interesting because Biden's team has obviously jumped on this. And not just jumped on the vermin comment, but jumped on the various reporting we've seen about Trump's potential policy plans for the next administration. And I think that's where team Biden thinks they're going to be really effective is reminding voters this is who Trump is, this is what he plans to do.

But on Trump's side, his aides have privately admitted that it is obviously not a positive for him to be in the same headline as Hitler and - and - and these types of dictators.

AVLON: It's a great perception (ph) of reality.

MATTINGLY: Astute. astute, political observation.


TALCOTT: But they also have argued that -- I had one person say to me that they saw hundreds of chyrons over the past few days.