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White House Press Secretary Joins CNN This Morning; FAA Approves Path For Boeing 737 MAX 9s To Return To Skies; Audio Allegedly Captures Netanyahu Criticizing Qatar. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired January 25, 2024 - 07:30   ET



KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: And so, we have been very clear. We want to make sure we get something done at the border. That's why we've been having these conversations with Senate Republicans and Democrats for the past several weeks to come up with a bipartisan agreement --


JEAN-PIERRE: -- to deal with the border.

And look, if that -- the governor's not interested in that. Governor Abbott is not interested in that. He wants to politicize an issue and he's not helping communities. He actually isn't. And he's actually putting border patrol agents in harm's way by doing what he's doing.

I'm not going to speak to any actions that the president --


JEAN-PIERRE: -- might take and may not take, but we have been very clear on this.

MATTINGLY: The economy.


MATTINGLY: I've asked you probably six million questions about the economy when I sat in the briefing room.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes. By the way, I miss you in the briefing room.

MATTINGLY: I miss being in the briefing room.

The -- New York's nice, too. This is a nice place.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, I'm from New York, so I love New York, yeah.

MATTINGLY: This is your hometown.

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, this is my hometown.

MATTINGLY: The consumer sentiment numbers -- JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah.

MATTINGLY: -- have been on a trendline upwards.

JEAN-PIERRE: It's been amazing, yeah.

MATTINGLY: The latest one I think surprised just about everybody.


MATTINGLY: My question for you as he goes into this big moment --


MATTINGLY: -- and Wisconsin, in the speech, the UAW endorsement. For months, you guys have been frustrated that there's not been a correlation with public sentiment from the topline numbers --


MATTINGLY: -- that all defied expectations.

Do you feel like the corner is being turned right now? That people are getting it?


MATTINGLY: That it's landing, in that not only will this not be a drag heading into a campaign season; this is actually going to be a benefit --


MATTINGLY: -- for the president.

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I'm going to be careful about the campaign season, but what I can speak to is you just said it -- consumer sentiments. People are feeling what the economy is doing. And we have to remember this didn't happen by accident. What we're seeing with the trends -- the economic trends, it's because of what this president has done.

He has put -- he has put equity at the center of everything that he's talked about when it comes to the economy. Fourteen million jobs created. Last year, 2.7 million jobs created. Unemployment under four percent. Wages are up. That matters.

He's going to talk about that today in Wisconsin, which he's excited to go to. He's going to talk specifically about a bridge called the Blatnik Bridge, right?


JEAN-PIERRE: That bridge -- if we had not invested in that bridge -- the $1 billion that's going to go to that bridge because of the bipartisan infrastructure legislation -- it would have shut down by 2030. Now, jobs are going to be created. It is an artery connecting Wisconsin to Minnesota -- to Minnesota. It is so critical and important. Obviously, the president is going to talk more about this later today.

MATTINGLY: You had the big Brent Spence Bridge --


MATTINGLY: -- in Kentucky event as well --


MATTINGLY: -- with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.


MATTINGLY: I know you've got to go but one last one.

You've been doing this for 20 months. It's a grind of a job in any administration --

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, yeah.

MATTINGLY: -- regardless of party.

JEAN-PIERRE: You're keeping track. Are you keeping track?

MATTINGLY: Are still around for --

JEAN-PIERRE: You're tracking 21 --

MATTINGLY: I used to cover the White House, Karrine. I was there on your first day officially on the job.

JEAN-PIERRE: I am going to stick -- I am going to --

MATTINGLY: Are you sticking around for eternity?

JEAN-PIERRE: I am -- no. Well, as long as the president wants me in the job I will be here. I'm not going anywhere. I love my job. I love my job. I get to get to know folks like you. I get to speak on behalf of the President of the United States.

And it is important -- it is important what we're trying to do -- trying to bring back the economy. Trying to do things that's going to affect generations to come that invest in America that you hear the president talk about. There is no other place that I would want to be right now than speaking for President Biden.

MATTINGLY: I appreciate you coming up here and speaking with us. Karrine Jean-Pierre, thank you --


MATTINGLY: -- very much.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you so much. POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Great to have you in the studio. Come back.

JEAN-PIERRE: Hey -- hey, Poppy.

HARLOW: We like having you here.

JEAN-PIERRE: Good to see you. I will. I'll come back.

HARLOW: We know you don't get to sleep --

JEAN-PIERRE: And look --

HARLOW: -- but thank you for coming today.

JEAN-PIERRE: -- we're matching today.

HARLOW: And you're not getting Phil back. Just -- he's not coming back to the briefing room, so don't try. Thank you --


HARLOW: -- Karrine, very much. We appreciate it.

Also, this developing this morning. Boeing's 737 MAX 9 jets could be flying soon -- maybe even this weekend -- nearly a month after that door plug blew off a plane mid-flight.

MATTINGLY: And just in, leaked audio allegedly captured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticizing the Gulf nation of Qatar, a key intermediary in the Israel-Hamas war. We have that leaked recording and we'll play it next.



HARLOW: Boeing's 737 MAX 9 jets could be flying again as soon as this weekend. That is according to Alaska and United Airlines, the two big U.S. carriers that fly these planes. The planes have been grounded since that door plug blew out of an Alaska Airlines flight earlier this month. It left a hole the size of a refrigerator in the side of the aircraft mid-flight.

And look at this video obtained by CNN from one row behind. It is one row behind where that door plug blew off. Fortunately, the pilots still managed a very safe landing.

MATTINGLY: The New York Times citing a persona familiar with the matter reports that about a month before this MAX 9 was delivered to Alaska Airlines in October, that door plug was opened and later reinstalled by workers in a Boeing factory at the request of Spirit AeroSystems because work needed to be done on the rivets.

Yesterday, the FAA cleared the way for the planes to return to service if they pass a set of inspections. CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean is joining us now from Washington. Pete, the FAA telling airlines they can fly Boeing 737 MAX 9s again. Look, if you're a normal person and you're watching this, you're saying why? How?

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, a lot of people are concerned about whether or not it is safe and I asked the FAA administrator about that. We'll get to it in a second.

The latest is the FAA has done its part. It has ended the 19-day-long emergency grounding of the 737 MAX 9. It reviewed the data from Boeing, from airlines, and about a quarter of the fleet that's out there in the U.S. So, the MAX 9 can fly again but not before airlines do final checks of each of the planes.

Here's what the FAA is calling for. A detailed visual inspection of the door plug. That's the part that violently shot off Alaska 1282 three weeks ago. The FAA also wants checks of bolts and guides that hold the door plug on the plane, and any abnormal conditions to be corrected. Remember, both airlines that operate these planes in the U.S. found loose door plug bolts.

Alaska Airlines has 65 MAX 9s. They say inspections will take about 12 hours, meaning the first few MAX 9s for Alaska Airlines will be flying as soon as Friday. United Airlines has 79 MAX 9s. United says its planes will be flying by Sunday.

Airlines cannot wait to end this chapter after being forced to cancel thousands of flights. Even still, the question a lot of people have is are these planes truly safe? Important to note the NTSB has not finished its investigation. And this week I asked that question to FAA administrator Mike Whitaker.


MUNTEAN: Should the flying public feel safe being on a MAX 9 when it is ultimately ungrounded?

MIKE WHITAKER, ADMINISTRATOR, FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATOR: If the aircraft is ungrounded that means that we believe it's airworthy. And if it's airworthy, the aircraft is safe. I can tell you that we're not going to let that aircraft back in the air until we're convinced that issue has been taken care of.


MUNTEAN: One other big piece of news from the FAA. It says it will deny requests by Boeing to expand MAX production. That is while the FAA is doing an audit of Boeing's quality control.


The FAA chief also told me inspectors are on the ground now at Boeing's plant in Renton, Washington where Boeing is halting production for the day today as it does a quality standdown and hears from workers about where things can be improved. HARLOW: Yeah, and a big day for Dave Calhoun, the CEO of Boeing, on the Hill yesterday saying in that gaggle our planes are safe to fly.

Pete, thanks for your excellent reporting.

MATTINGLY: Well, this just in. A leaked audio recording allegedly captured Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticizing the Gulf nation of Qatar, which has been a critical intermediary in the Israel-Hama war. A voice believed to be Netanyahu's calls Qatar's, quote -- Qatar, quote, "problematic" and says it is not doing enough to pressure Hamas to free more hostages. There was also criticism towards the U.S. for a military deal with Qatar.

The recording aired on Israeli television last night. Take a listen.


BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (through translator): For me, Qatar is now different, in essence, from the U.N. It is no different, in essence, from the Red Cross. And in a certain sense, it is even --


NETANYAHU: -- more problematic.

I was very angry recently -- and I didn't hide it -- from the Americans that they renewed the contract on the military base they have with Qatar.


HARLOW: Qatar's Foreign Ministry called those remarks appalling but not, quote, "surprising."

Nic Robertson joins us from Tel Aviv. Nic, can you talk about this? I should note CNN cannot verify for sure that is Netanyahu's voice. He hasn't come out with a denial of that. Talk about the significance of that in this moment.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, and we can certainly verify the barbed nature of Qatar's response. They really feel hurt by this, they said -- if, of course, this audio is verified as being the prime minister. So they have that caveat as well.

Look, just go back a couple of days here. The Qataris, who are the intermediaries between Israel and Hamas, were saying everything's working. Both sides are taking the situation seriously. Communications are going backwards and forwards. And, of course, back in November, the Qataris were central to the release of about 100 Israeli hostages held by Hamas in that short pause in the fighting back then.

So this is huge right now. So the Qataris are saying right at the moment where this effort to get the remaining hostages freed is underway -- they are saying this is obstructive. It's undermining. They say it's a responsible -- they're very, very critical. This is strong diplomatic language to be using against the Israeli prime minister.

And they're also saying -- and this is where it gets particularly barbed -- that they're questioning whether or not Prime Minister Netanyahu, in a Machiavellian way, is putting his own political interests ahead of the interests of the hostages.

Because what they're implying is the destruction and trust that this does to the talks to get the hostages out essentially slows that process. And many people recognize that if there's a pause in fighting -- a long one that would be expected to go with the release of hostages -- that may be the end to -- end to the -- end to the war in Gaza in real terms. And that can also trigger, therefore, the questions about Prime Minister Netanyahu's political leadership in the country.

So that is what the Qataris are saying. This is very tough diplomatic language.

HARLOW: Yeah. Those questions he has punted on answering, he said, until the war is over.

Nic, thank you -- in Tel Aviv for us.

Well, fresh off his win in New Hampshire, Donald Trump heading back here to New York City. He'll be in a courtroom as the trial resumes in E. Jean Carroll's defamation case against him.

MATTINGLY: And we all know politics can be polarizing, but are political divisions at an all-time high? An expert in social polarization joins us next.



MATTINGLY: We hear it all the time. America, right now, is more divided and more polarized than ever before. Consider this from a 2022 poll from Pew. Seventy-two percent of Republicans said Democrats are more immoral than other Americans, up from 47 percent in 2016. Sixty- three percent of Democrats said the same about Republicans, up from 35 percent in 2016.

The question is why? Why do these political divisions appear to intensify?

HARLOW: Social polarization expert Lilliana Mason offered this answer to The Washington Post. Quote, "It's polarization that's based on our feelings for each other, not based on extremely divergent policy preferences."

And she joins us this morning. She is a political science professor at Johns Hopkins, and also the co-author of "Radical American Partisanship: Mapping Violent Hostility, Its Causes, and the Consequences for Democracy."

We were chatting with you in the break saying this is the kitchen table topic. Outside of affordability and the economy, people are so mad and families around America are trying to figure out why.

How -- I think we know how we got here. How do you diagnose this American disease? Fair to call it that?


HARLOW: A puzzle.

MASON: A few -- basically, 10 to 15 years ago, we started noticing -- political scientists started noticing that Americans, on average, actually don't have extreme policy preferences and they -- and the preferences of Democrats and Republicans are pretty overlapping even still. But what has really changed is that Democrats and Republicans really hate each other a lot more and that -- and that level of hate and animosity is really increasing.

And so, that was the puzzle for us -- was why is it that we have relatively overlapping policy preferences but we hate each other? And the answer to that puzzle, at this point, is that we have these different identities between the two parties that make us feel really different from one another.

And so, Democrat -- racially, and religiously, and culturally, and geographically, Democrats and Republicans are divided more than they really have been in decades. And that is making it possible for us to kind of dehumanize --

HARLOW: Right.

MASON: -- each other and think of each other as enemies --

HARLOW: Can I --

MASON: -- more than opponents.

HARLOW: Can I just push back on that with -- I mean, when I look at people's views on abortion, for example, and immigration right now, these -- those policy issues seemed wildly divergent. But you are saying it's not that. It's driven by the feeling? The emotion?

MASON: No, not entirely. It's that the policies are -- I mean, we all hold multiple policy preferences and these measures are sort of an average of all of them.

What has changed is that our political leaders -- and, in particular, Donald Trump has changed the salience of particular issues. So where people maybe didn't think about immigration when they were going into the voting booth 20 years ago, they're thinking a lot more about it now. So their preference about immigration policies hasn't changed. It's the weight that they give it when they're making their political decisions.

MATTINGLY: Is this moment -- have we had moments like this in the past? You know, you talk to some people, Republicans and Democrats, who say look, this country has gone through a lot of really, really, difficult, complex, borderline awful moments in the past.


Is this different? And if so, why?

MASON: So, we've had many times of social upheaval in the country. Like, thinking about the 1960s, the 1970s. There was plenty of social upheaval but it wasn't organized around party lines. And that's really what has changed today is that our partisan decisions are connected with these ideas about who we are as a country. Which groups of people are winning and losing.

And so, the idea of the -- these social divides becoming connected with what we vote for in the voting booth -- that's really what has become much more important in Americans' minds.

HARLOW: One of our favorite guests on the show is a pollster, Lee Carter. Here's what she says. "We're not rational beings who are occasionally emotional. We're emotional beings who are occasionally rational."

Do you agree?

MASON: Right, and that -- yeah, that's correct.

And actually, we have good evidence that our partisanship really influences our policy preferences a lot more than vice versa. At least historically, over time, that's been true.

That's not to say that we don't have real conflicts between the parties today, though. And, in fact, currently, the Republicans who hate the Democrats the most are the people who are the most resentful against Black Americans. And Democrats who hate Republicans the most are the ones who are least resentful of Black Americans.

And so, there are some real divides that are driving our animosity towards each other and real issues that really affect us. But overall, it's pretty easy to find a Democrat and a Republican in the electorate who have a lot in common, according to what they think the role of government should be, for example.

It's just that on these -- on these really divisive issues they have become -- those divisive issues have become the core of our political debate rather than something we sort of push back when we think about who to vote for.

MATTINGLY: It's such an interesting conversation that, to Poppy's point, everyone seems to be having --


MATTINGLY: -- at this point

Lilliana Mason, thank you very much. MASON: My pleasure.

MATTINGLY: Well, as January begins to wrap up, so does a month of sobriety for many Americans. Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us to discuss why this sober curious mindset might be here to stay.




JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JIMMY FALLON": These are great. Tariq, you got one of these Alexa things?

TARIQ TROTTER, FOUNDER, THE ROOTS: I do. I have a couple of them.

FALLON: Yeah. It's fun because you ask the question and it will give you the answer. Like, you go "Alexa, what's the goal of Dry January?"

ALEXA: To let everyone on social media know that you're doing Dry January.

FALLON: There you go. That's the -- that's the goal.


HARLOW: No truer words, by the way. The end of Dry January is fast approaching, which means many Americans will soon have to decide whether to crack open a cold one or keep the sobriety going.

For more on how these choices affect your health let's bring in chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. Sanjay, good morning.


HARLOW: The question -- that's a personal question everyone is going to have to answer themselves. I think I was surprised when I saw -- like, you're not supposed to have I think more than one drink for women, right, or two drinks for men a day. How does our health relate to all of this?

GUPTA: Yeah. Well, this -- excuse me -- this is interesting and it has changed I think from a medical consensus standpoint over the last 100 years -- really, since the time of prohibition.

The general consensus now is that there is no amount of alcohol that is good for your health.


GUPTA: I know that's not what people necessarily want to hear.

But let me back up for a second. You go back to the 1920s. Take a look at this graph. Just sort of focus on this for a second. This was kind of what started off our thinking about alcohol and health. Again, this is about 100 years ago.

This is basically looking at how many drinks per day, going from zero to five. And what they found was that the people who had zero drinks actually had higher mortality than if you started to slowly increase alcohol. And when you got to two drinks per day or so, you still had lower than average mortality, OK, than the general population. Once you started to get more than that, then your mortality started to go up.

But this is called the J-curve, and this J-curve in statistics is what really started our thinking about alcohol and health. Now, that was 100 years ago, so over the last 100 years things have changed. But that was sort of the conventional wisdom for a long time -- you know, for several decades.

In the '80s is when you started to get some of these studies that first started to question alcohol's benefit on health. The links to breast cancer, for example. Links to stroke.

But then, in the early '90s, about 30 years ago, there was something known as the French paradox that came about. You guys may have heard of this.

HARLOW: Um-hum.

GUPTA: But it was this question saying hey, look, the French -- they eat all this saturated fat. They smoke. They still have lower mortality. What gives? And they pointed to wine, potentially -- red wine as being something that was helpful at that point.

But over the last decade or so, I think the evidence has really started to mount that there is no amount of alcohol that is good for your overall health. So that's where the medical community sort of stands on this today.

Now, having said that I'll share one thing with you. And I found this interesting. I dug it up last night. But if you look at Americans over the last 100 years -- really, since sort of the end of prohibition -- our -- whether you drink or not, that has stayed relatively the same -- the same.

About two-thirds of Americans say that they do drink. Now, differing amounts, obviously, for different people. But this was compared to people who abstained completely, which is about a third of Americans who say they absolutely don't drink not just the month of January but all year -- all year long.

MATTINGLY: Sanjay, aside from virtue signaling on social media, proponents of Dry January seem to claim that it has significant health benefits. Does it?

GUPTA: Yeah. Yeah, you know, Phil, it's interesting.