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President Biden Holds Press Conference after Meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping; President Biden Announces Resumed Military to Military Contact between U.S. and China; President Biden States He is Mildly Hopeful for Success of Some Hostage Release Negotiations between Israel and Hamas. Aired 8-8:30a ET
Aired November 16, 2023 - 08:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FRANCES HAUGEN, FACEBOOK WHISTLEBLOWER: Algorithmic transparency is right now our adversaries are studying how information is distributed on these systems. And they, by trial and error, find the weak spots. But we the public never get to chime in and say, hey, let's get more eyes on this. Let's make this a safer system overall. And when we all work together, we generally develop better solutions than when we work in isolation.
POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Frances Haugen, thank you for joining us this morning.
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PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: And CNN THIS MORNING continues right now.
HARLOW: Good morning, everyone. Top of the hour, 8:00 a.m. on the east coast. And President Biden is giving a rare press conference, he gave it last night, talking about his high stakes meeting with China's Xi Jinping and signaling a hostage deal could be coming soon in the Israel-Hamas war. Biden says he has been deeply involved in the negotiations and is now, quote, mildly hopeful that we will see that. We'll be joined this hour by the family of a three-year-old who is being held hostage in Gaza right now.
MATTINGLY: And CNN's Kaitlan Collins speaking with Senator Joe Manchin about his political future and if he will launch a third party bid for president next year. She is going to join us ahead with all the details from that interview.
HARLOW: Also, the Pentagon's UFO chief is resigning after 18 months on the job. He says there are UFO sightings that could be the acts of foreign adversaries or even aliens. We will get into it.
This hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts now.
And new this morning, a shooting attack near Jerusalem. Israeli police say six Israeli security personnel were injured when three people drove up and opened fire at a security checkpoint. The three attackers were shot and killed, according to police. MATTINGLY: Meanwhile, we're getting a better picture of why the Israel Defense Forces decided to execute that, quote, targeted operation at al Shifa hospital. The Pentagon says the U.S. has nearly declassified intelligence that claims to show Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad were using hospitals including al Shifa as a way to conceal their military operations and hold hostages. While no hostages were found during the operations, President Biden last night seemed optimistic the release of some people being held by Hamas could be coming soon. Biden even had to catch himself from divulging too much at that press conference last night.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What I meant was I am doing everything in my power to get you out. Coming to help you get you out. I don't mean sending military in to get them. Is that what you thought I might mean? No, no, no, I was not talking about the military. I am getting into too much detail. I know, Mr. Secretary, I'm going to stop. But I am mildly hopeful.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Tension over the war in Gaza spilling into the streets of Washington, D.C. That's what you're looking at, protesters last night demanding a ceasefire. They clashed with police outside of the DNC's headquarters. Top lawmakers who were inside the building had to be evacuated.
With us this morning, Gershon Baskin, Middle East director of International Communities Organization. He also, of course, helped negotiate the release of an Israeli hostage captured by Hamas in 2011. Gershon, thanks for coming back to the program. When you hear this series of what sounded like hopeful remarks from the White House, whether it's John Kirby just talking to Phil, whether it's the president in that press conference last night, does it say anything to you that we're closer to this?
GERSHON BASKIN, NEGOTIATED RELEASE OF HOSTAGE CAPTURED BY HAMAS IN 2011: I hope so. But I've learned over the years that hope isn't enough. We have to be very careful about these statements and what we know from them. There will be a deal when there's a deal. And even when there is a deal, until it's implemented, we can't be 100 sure that there is a deal. It is so tricky and so sensitive now and being handled at the highest levels. There are demands that both sides are making. They are impossible for both sides to get everything they want.
For Israel, there must be a deal that includes a significant amount of hostages because it will include concessions by Israel such as a pause in the fighting or a ceasefire, which will require a redeployment of forces to more safe locations. It will probably require them to release prisoners from Israel, some of them designated as perhaps dangerous prisoners. The easy parts are adding more humanitarian aid and fuel and other things. But these are very, very sensitive.
And Hamas, of course, wants to hold on to as many hostages as possible and drag out the release as long as possible in the hope that international pressure will build on Israel to end the war with Hamas still in power.
MATTINGLY: As we're speaking right, we are showing pictures, or we have been showing pictures on the screen of the march that has been ongoing. Families of hostages, supporters of hostages. Our reporter Oren Liebermann had been marching with them yesterday. The public pressure here, how much of an effect, having been in kind of the very complex and difficult, pressure-packed situation that negotiators are in right now, how much does the public pressure matter?
BASKIN: It's building, and it matters a lot because Israeli politicians, at the end of the day, are politicians. And even if it seems they are detached from the people most of the time, they have to see the pressure of these families. Their message is compelling. They are on television all the time, on radio telling the stories of infants, of babies, of children, of elderly people, of women being held hostage, 238 people. And it's just unbearable to hear their stories and to know the pain that they are going through. And it impresses upon the politicians.
But what Hamas is asking for, I am afraid there are very few politicians who would agree to deliver what they are asking for. They are asking to empty the Israeli prisons of all Palestinian prisoners, including some very dangerous people who have killed many Israelis.
HARLOW: Including, look at who was released as part of the release you helped negotiate, right? To speak to people about how that agreement over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, including a leader of Hamas to get one Israeli soldier, Gershon, informs what is feasible now for hundreds.
BASKIN: Yes, look, at the time that Gilad Shalit was freed in 2011, more than 80 percent of the public supported the deal, and 26 members of Netanyahu's government voted for it. But it's very different today, because those very same people who released are the ones who led the operation, the terrorist attack against Israel on October 7th. They are the leaders of Hamas.
Unfortunately, both the Israelis and the Palestinians were not wise enough to exploit the opportunity of releasing an Israeli soldier from Gaza at the time to change the nature of relations, and everything that has gone on since then has just led to the explosion that happened on October 7th. And there is nothing that can excuse the terrorism that Hamas committed October 7th, but we have a reality here with two people living in this land who are fighting a battle for their lives, for their right to exist. And when we don't resolve that conflict, we end up with horrific violence that we have seen today.
HARLOW: Gershon Baskin, thank you, as always, for being with us.
BASKIN: Thank you.
MATTINGLY: President Biden meeting face to face with China's leader Xi Jinping at a time of multiple global crises. The world' biggest superpowers trying to ease tensions between themselves and prevent conflict with each other as wars rage in Ukraine and Gaza. Here is a breakdown from the highlights from Biden's news conference after that summit.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are reassuming military-to-military contact, direct contacts. As a lot of you press know who follow this, that's been cut off. It's been worrisome. That's how accidents happen, misunderstandings. So we are back to direct, open, clear, direct communication.
We are restarting cooperation between the United States and PRC and counternarcotics.
So today, with this new understanding, we are taking action to significantly reduce the flow of precursor chemicals and pill presses from China to the western hemisphere.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, after today, would you still refer to President Xi as a dictator, a term that you used earlier this year.
BIDEN: Look, he is. I mean, he is a dictator in the sense that he is a guy who runs a country that is a communist country that is based on a form of government totally different than ours.
Trust but verify, as the old saying goes, that's where I am.
We maintain the agreement that there is a One China policy, and that -- I'm not going to change that. That's not going to change.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Any sort of deadline or timeframe for how long you are willing to support Israel in this operation?
BIDEN: I think it's going to stop when the -- when Hamas no longer maintains the capacity to murder and abuse and just do a horrific things to the Israelis.
You have a circumstance where the first war crime is being committed by Hamas by having their headquarters, their military hidden under a hospital. And that's a fact. That's what's happened.
I'm working on how I can be helpful in getting the hostages released and have a period of time where there is a pause long enough to let that happen.
I can't tell you how long it's going to last. But I can tell you, I don't think it ends until there is a two-state solution. I made it clear to the Israelis I think it's a big mistake for them to think they are going to occupy Gaza and maintain Gaza.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HARLOW: Joining us now, CNN political and national security analyst David Sanger. David, it's good to have you. We talked to you yesterday leading up to this, and a lot of folks have said, and the headlines this morning are sort of it's good they at least talked and that our countries' military to military are talking again.
Big picture, what you took out of it? I thought it was interesting you noted in your piece this morning that Xi said planet earth is big enough for both superpowers. But is there an asterisk to that?
DAVID SANGER, CNN POLITICAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: The asterisk may be, it's big enough, but the two sides are going to be fighting for larger parts of the planet. But you know, Poppy, it was a really fascinating day out there at this mansion in south of San Francisco because it really showed the changing power dynamic.
You know, for 30 years when American presidents have been meeting Chinese presidents, the Chinese have had the benefit of six, seven, eight percent growth. They were clearly on the rise. And now all of a sudden President Biden was dealing with President Xi at a time of considerable if perhaps just short-term weakness in China.
President Xi needed something. He needed to show everybody back home that he could manage what's the biggest relationship for China as well. And so you heard him complaining to President Biden about the effectiveness of some of the technology cutoffs.
You heard him make the case that the United States and China needed to get along well enough that investment from American companies could continue. And he made that case even stronger when he went to see chief executives of American companies at a big dinner here in San Francisco immediately after the summit. So all of a sudden Xi Jinping seemed a little bit on his back foot.
MATTINGLY: To that point, he also, according to U.S. officials, complained about perceptions of China in the U.S., how it's covered, how lawmakers talk about it. Which, again, to your point, it seemed a little sensitive for a world leader of a -- the number two power in the globe with a very large nuclear arsenal. I guess my question is, does this for show, or do U.S. officials that you're talking to believe that, to your point, their theory of case is right. They have problems now, they are really shifting on this?
SANGER: So, Phil, I don't think it's for show. I think it's for real. I think the real question is, is it lasting, right? What we've seen happen in the past few months is the Chinese have suddenly can't wanted to re-engage. They have had the Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen over. They have had Secretary of State Blinken, who was there yesterday, along with Yellen. They've had the Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo there. Now they are going to begin to have the militaries talk again. They feel a need to show that they are reengaging.
I think the bigger question is, has this just bought some time and that after their economy is recovered, are we back in contentious issues on Taiwan, on the South China Sea, on technology? I think one of the most hopeful things may be if they begin to discuss a bit, and they are inching that way, the increase in nuclear arsenals and artificial intelligence. We didn't see as much there, but there is at least a channel that's opening up.
MATTINGLY: Yes, you flagged that yesterday. They seemed to allude to it yesterday without a lot of detail, which I guess to some degree is understandable. We will just wait for your reporting on it. David Sanger, we appreciate you, as always, my friend. Thank you.
SANGER: Great to see you guys.
HARLOW: In Gaza, we continue to see deaths, that is according to the head of the U.N. Humanitarian Agency on Wednesday. The U.N. Security Council adopted a resolution calling for a series of humanitarian pauses in Gaza. We should note the United States, United Kingdom, and Russia all on the Security Council abstained from that vote.
Many hospitals in Gaza, though, have run out of fuel. So far, just over 6,000 gallons of fuel have been allowed into Gaza through the Rafah crossing delivered to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency. This is the first known delivery of fall since the siege on Gaza, and they say it is only nine percent of what is needed daily.
For more information about how you can help, go to CNN.com/impact or text "Relief" to 707070 to donate.
MATTINGLY: Senator Joe Manchin telling our Kaitlan Collins that he is absolutely considering a run for president next year. Why he says he won't be a spoiler if he chooses to run.
HARLOW: And new video shows Alec Baldwin on the set of "Rust" before the deadly shooting that killed the film's cinematographer. What it could mean for potential new charges in the case.
MATTINGLY: And live pictures out of Boston. A group of protesters demanding a ceasefire in Gaza are trying to block rush hour traffic. We're told they're specifically demanding that Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren use her influence to push for a stop to the fighting. More coverage after this.
MATTINGLY: One week after announcing he will not be seeking reelection, Senator Joe Manchin won't say if he plans to leave the Democratic Party, all as he weighs a Presidential run.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN ANCHOR, THE SOURCE WITH KAITLAN COLLINS: Are you going to leave the Democratic Party?
SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I've never considered myself a Washington Democrat. I've been a very independent person, and I don't really think -
COLLINS: That sounds like you're leaving.
MANCHIN: Well, no. You have a D or an R by your name or an I by your name. It shouldn't identify who you are. If you change who you are because you have a D, then you have an R or you have an I, people go back and forth. It's more for the person's politics, I think, than more for who the person is.
No matter what I have by me, I'm an independent thinker. I vote independently, and I've always done that for 40 years. So, we'll see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
MATTINGLY: Join us now has seen the anchor of the source who spoke to Manchin directly and I think twisted him up a little bit there to some degree, Kaitlan Collins. It was a fascinating interview, not just his views on the Democratic Party and its current state are fairly well known, whether or not he would stay.
In the party was a great question that, I think he had some difficulty responding to and was thinking through in real time. But in terms of a third-party run after this conversation, what's your read?
COLLINS: It's not clear that he's made up his mind, but everyone seems to take away from those answers. A non-answer sometimes is just as revealing as a direct answer that it is certainly something that he is considering. And he talked about the timeline of that, He talked about knowing around March, around Super Tuesday, whether or not, if there's viability for that, if there is viability for a third-party run.
But I think what struck me the most was he is very concerned about a Donald Trump reelection. He says it would be the end of democracy as we know it. He talked about Trump not respecting elections and the results of them unless he wins them.
But the point that we made to him was that that's exactly the White House's concern, is that if he does run, that it does help Donald Trump because Trump has a really firm base of support. Obviously, President Biden has a much squishier base of support and the concern that votes would go to Joe Manchin.
MATTINGLY: We actually play that real quick, we have that sound teed up.
COLLINS: Yeah, it's a fascinating part.
MATTINGLY: Yeah, listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MANCHIN: I think we 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.
COLLINS: But that's the White House argument, as well as to why they don't believe you should run because they believe that if you did take votes from Biden and help reelect 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 extreme.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COLLINS: That is a genuine concern of his. He does believe the parties, as you know, Phil, from being on the hill for several years, have become too polarized. And that is an argument when you look at the poll numbers. People don't want a rematch between Trump and Biden.
I think the question is where Joe Manchin fits into this and what he does next, given he obviously was facing a really challenging reelection, if he was going to run in West Virginia, and decided not to pursue that, there wasn't really an avenue for him to stay there.
And so that is a genuine concern of his. The question is what he's going to do about it.
HARLOW: Why is he so sure that if he does get in, it would not help Trump?
COLLINS: Conventional wisdom, and certainly, what you hear from the White House and President Biden's allies is they believe very certainly that it would be. Trump's team even believes that, and one thing we talked about that was fascinating as well, was Senator McConnell as part of his argument and his ally's argument as to why Trump should endorse Jim Justice.
Who is going to be his most formidable challenger in West Virginia, was that it would lead Manchin to likely get out of the race and not run, and then he'd potentially launch a run and help Trump in the election. So, Republicans think this, too.
And I asked him actually, for all his talk about bipartisanship on the hill and Senator McConnell praising Senator Manchin for saving the filibuster, Senator McConnell flew to West Virginia and directly recruited his challenger here, therefore making him kind of make this so, you know, he said that's politics.
But clearly, I mean, he is someone who prizes those relationships that he has in the Senate.
MATTINGLY: You mentioned the timeline for a potential third-party candidacy. If he doesn't do that, do you have any sense of what's he thinking? You made such a great point where you say he doesn't really know what his place is right now, and didn't really have a path necessarily to win his Senate race thinking about running for President.
If he doesn't, do we have any idea what he's going to do?
COLLINS: The White House's hope Is that he would help get out there with this argument to mobilize the middle, to help people who he believes are kind of the silent majority, to help know, and support President Biden. I think the question is if he does get into the race and he spends a few months and he realizes it could help Trump and he gets out.
He's just spent several months on the campaign trail making an argument why Joe Biden should not be reelected. So, I genuinely think it's an open question of what his future is, and what he does next. He has a nonprofit that he started with his daughter that's focused on mobilizing the middle, they say.
I do think there are real questions, what does that look like in practice? And who are those centrists that are out there to mobilize?
MATTINGLY: The best part about the interview, you see that he's thinking through this in real-time. He's not as calculated as some politicians -
COLLINS: Which are the best interviews?
MATTINGLY: Yes, no, I know, that's why it's so great.
COLLINS: It's not sticking to their talking.
COLLINS: And they're genuinely, the Democrat one, I mean it seems pretty clear that he could potentially leave the Democratic Party because he kind of laughed and he didn't answer and he said, well, you know, I've never really been a Washington Democrat.
I mean, he has been a Democrat in Washington for decades. But it does seem a real moment for him of where he's going next and what party he's affiliated with.
MATTINGLY: Kaitlan Collins, she's okay.
HARLOW: I would just say we call that getting Collins on you when you're like coining it. Collins when you're like, "Ah, how do I answer this?" great interview. This is a new video, look at this, just obtained by NBC News. It shows Alec Baldwin during the filming of Rust days before that deadly on-set shooting that killed the cinematographer, Halyna Hutchins.
This video shows Baldwin walking through a shooting scene, speaking with the film crew about safety.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ALEC BALDWIN, HOLLYWOOD ACTOR: Now wait a second, I'm going to shoot, right? Do you want to go on the other side of the camera? I don't want to shoot toward you.
(END VIDEO CLIP) HARLOW: So involuntary charges against Baldwin, you'll remember, were dismissed a couple of months ago. But in New Mexico, the grand jury is expected to decide soon whether charges should be refiled. Joining us now is Bob Bianchi, Criminal Defense Attorney and host of the Law and Crime Network, good to see you.
So, this is something that would be admitted to the grand jury and what impact would it have?
ROBERT BIANCHI, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Well, let's start with the fact that as a former homicide prosecutor, I have never seen a case as tortured, twisted, and bizarre as two years later. We're back in the grand jury again, we have charges, we have charges dismissed, we're back in the grand jury again.
So, from a prosecutorial standpoint, this is very sloppy. To your point, the prosecutors are going to argue that the fact that he knows that in this particular clip that you're showing to get people out of the way, not to point the gun in the direction, even if he thinks it's blanked, shows a level of recklessness by not doing it on the day that the victim is shot.
On the other hand, defense attorneys are going to be arguing that the prosecutor's theme for the last two years as we've gone through this circuitous twisted route of prosecution, is that he was not concerned about safety, but that this clip actually shows that he is, in fact, concerned about safety.
To support his theory that the gun misfired and that he did not pull the trigger, this shows that the defense will argue that he was being cautious about this. So, guys, the bottom line to this entire thing, again, from a prosecutorial standpoint, is why are we, two years later, two years later, with all the investigative resources and powers that we have as prosecutors, finding a video that was right on a camera?
Why wasn't this information given to the prosecutors? Why did they not seek it earlier on? It's a complete amateur hour. And just from the standpoint of justice and fairness, this prosecution is really a mess.
MATTINGLY: Honestly, that was my question. Why is it such a mess? Is there, like, a short version of why this has been such a mess?
BIANCHI: Well, let's start with the fact that one prosecutor had to get thrown off the case because there was a conflict of interest that they were in the legislature and acting as a prosecutor, which is a no. Then you start with the idea that they go in with the grand jury and charge him with a charge that had not been law until after the incident.
So, you can't charge somebody with a new law. So, I really can't tell you guys, I did this for half of a career as a prosecutor and ran a prosecutorial agency. I have never seen prosecutors go into a grand jury and indict somebody for a charge that didn't even exist at the time of the incident. And two years later, now we're getting information that's basic things
that you would have gotten on day one. That is the film that we're looking at right now. I just think it's complete and absolute malfeasance, and I think defense attorneys are going to have a field day if this case gets indicted in front of a jury.
They're not only going to have a very good case to argue here, but they're going to make the prosecutors look like complete fools.
HARLOW: Bob Bianchi, thank you.
BIANCHI: My pleasure.
HARLOW: Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbot expected to sign a bill that would make it a state crime for entering Texas illegally, we have a live report on that ahead.
MATTINGLY: And live pictures happening right now on one side of the screen, families of hostages held in Gaza marching in central Israel towards Jerusalem. And here at home, demonstrators blocking rush hour traffic in Boston demanding a ceasefire. We'll have more, stay with us.