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House GOP Takes up Mayorkas Impeachment; Biden Faces Pressure over Drone Attack; Women Rise in Kim Jong-un's Circle; Musk Startup Installs Brain Implant. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired January 30, 2024 - 06:30   ET



ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Really have a path forward to talk about the economy because the economy's kind of improving. They don't really have much to talk about when it comes to prescription drug prices or any of the other complicated things.

They're trying, you know, once again to repeal the Affordable Care Act or something like that. So - but they've settled on this. It seem to bring together the coalition. It seems to bring together the voters. It gives them something that they can raise money around. And so they specifically don't want a solution. But you're exactly right, you know, to try and attack the very person who's going to implement the things that they say that they want is counterproductive from a substantive standpoint.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Not just attack but try to oust him.

LOUIS: Yes, but, I mean, that's not going to happen. It hasn't - you know, but what was it, the secretary of war under Ulysses S. Grant was the last cabinet secretary to be removed.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes.

LOUIS: It's just not going to happen. And it's dead on arrival in the Senate, as Lauren pointed out. So, no, it's not really about that. They're looking for an issue.

McClintock's concern, I think, is less about - is less serious about, you know, sort of degrading the whole process forever and ever and ever because most people -

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN ANCHOR: I think we're already there.

LOUIS: Well, we're - we're not -- I don't think we're quite there. I don't - I can't see a future Congress unless they're under the specific kind of pressures that this Republican majority is under, resorting to something that cheap and flimsy and obviously non- substantive.

MICHELLE PRICE, NATIONAL POLITICS REPORTER, "THE ASSOCIATED PRESS": It's a political way to look like you're doing something about the border without actually doing something about the border. MATTINGLY: Well, it's - there was a Republican I was talking to last

week who said, this is a pressure release valve for us. We can do this instead of impeaching Biden. We can do this instead of any other thing.

PRICE: Or a bipartisan deal.

MATTINGLY: Yes. Yes, exactly. Exactly.

I -- my cynicism, I think, comes through a little bit here.


MATTINGLY: And I appreciate that Errol still has faith and hope for the U.S. Congress.

Can we switch over, though, to another, I think, critical fight that's going on right now. Donald Trump against Shawn Fain, who fought for his union and won against the big three, just recently endorsed President Biden. And Trump is going after him with major intensity. And Fain has responded.

Take a listen.


SHAWN FAIN, PRESIDENT, UNITED AUTO WORKERS: I don't care what Donald Trump says about me. I don't care what he thinks about me. I care about facts. And the facts are very clear for the large majority of Americans. The working-class people have been left behind by Trump's billionaire class, the billionaire buddies, and the economy that only works for the benefit - for the wealthy.


RIGUEUR: Yes, this is - this is not a fight that Donald Trump wants. And we all know Donald Trump loves to fight. We also know that Donald Trump loves to fight with labor. In fact, one of his first acts when he came into office in 2016-2017 was to pick a fight with a bunch of different labor leaders. And as we all saw then, it turned out quite poorly for them.

I think the -- one of the underlying reasons that this is so powerful and it's happening right now is because of the state of play of Michigan, right? So, this isn't Donald Trump yelling about, oh, you know, organized labor is against me and, you know, saying stuff about China, including an argument about China that is completely undermined by his entire policy on tariffs, which economists have said will, you know, actually drive up costs and competition and wage warfare with China.

But, I think this is about putting Michigan in play and the power that organized labor has in Michigan, but also in Wisconsin, in Pennsylvania, in all of these broader states. So, what we see is Donald Trump raging against a larger institution that has essentially said, you know what, Joe Biden did the work, Joe Biden is who we're going to endorse, Joe Biden's -- who we're getting against.

And I think for somebody like Biden, this is a key moment, right? We saw that he jumped into the fray. He called Trump a scab. If you don't know, that's a - you know, an age-old kind of labor -- labor talk. Someone who's a strike-breaker, who goes against the union, an all- around jerk.

But we know that this is critical for Biden because Michigan is in play and Biden is also struggling a little bit with Arab Americans in Michigan, black voters in Michigan, and young voters in Michigan. So, this is an entryway into keeping him competitive in a very, very competitive race.

HARLOW: Yes, we're going to see Trump meet with the head of the teamsters union. They've got, you know, more than a million members. And he's going to do that this week.

Guys, stick around. We've got a lot more ahead.

Top Democrats drowned out by protesters calling for a ceasefire at recent campaign stops. How the Biden team is trying to navigate these political headwinds.

MATTINGLY: Plus, why Nancy Pelosi is claiming Russia and China are behind some of those protests. We'll try and explain. That's ahead.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats want the ceasefire.




JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESMAN: The commander in chief is not looking at polling or considering the electoral calendar when he's defending --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) how they feel about the war on Gaza?

KIRBY: Now can I answer the question? He's not looking at political calculations or the polling or the electoral calendar as he works to protect our troops ashore and our ships at sea.


MATTINGLY: That was National Security Council Spokesman John Kirby sparring with an al Jazeera reporter over whether the Biden administration is responsive to public opinion of Israel's war in Gaza and the wider conflict in the Middle East.

HARLOW: A poll from December shows a low opinion of Biden's foreign policy, especially among young people. Look at this number, just 16 percent of those who responded to the poll between 18 years old and 34 years old, only 16 percent approve of the job he's doing on that front.

MATTINGLY: Joining us now, former spokesperson for the U.S. mission to the United Nations, Hagar Chemali. Errol Louis and Leah Wright Rigueur are back with us.

Look, that may be true, and I respect and understand Kirby's kind of affront to the question itself. That said, the White House has a political operation and they're very cognizant of these poll numbers, which I think, combined with what you heard Tony Blinken say yesterday about what this moment is, and I want to play it again. We played it earlier in the show. I want to play it again because I think people need to really grab onto this.



ANTONY BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE: This is an incredibly volatile time in the Middle East. I would argue that we've not seen a situation as dangerous as the one we're facing now across the region since at least 1973.


MATTINGLY: Hagar, it is happening in an election year. They are cognizant of the electoral dynamics. But on the policy side of things right now, to hear the secretary of state say that, do you agree? Is it - is it that tenuous of a moment?

HAGAR CHEMALI, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, U.S. MISSION TO THE U.N.: I agree it is that tenuous of a moment in the Middle East, but I would - I would also say that if you look at it in the world, I mean, if you look at the threat we're facing from Russia's invasion of Ukraine, China, artificial intelligence, we are at a really scary time in general when it comes to international peace and security, including the Middle East.


But for the Middle East specifically, one of the scariest times since then. Yes, I agree with him.

MATTINGLY: In terms of - sorry, go ahead.

HARLOW: No, no.

MATTINGLY: No, I was just going to - to pull that threat a little bit further, for this administration, in this moment, how should they be responding, and what should -- what do they need to change right now compared to what they've done up to this point?

CHEMALI: Well, the U.S., you can see they're trying to test every step that they're taking. That's why, for example, when they were facing attacks from these Iran-backed militias across the region, they were responding with limited and controlled strikes in kind. The same went for the Houthi militants, they were responding very measured, they were monitoring the Red Sea and then they went on the offense. They had to go more on the offense to get that to stop. And now you're going to see that even more because of the strike that happened in Jordan, where three soldiers were injured and 40 were injured. That, for the United States, of course, is a read line. And that is not because of Israel Gaza. That is a very - that is a common misconception. That's because these groups take advantage of instability when it breaks across the region because it gives them legitimacy to attack U.S. presence, to try and goad the United States into a response. It allows them to recruit and fundraise and so on.

But that said, the U.S., it's normal in national security crises to change the policy as you go on. You have to because the number one priority the U.S. is trying to do is to prevent war from escalating further. And that's - so they're trying -- you can see them testing, all right, how can we respond, get them to stop, without making this blowing up into a further escalation? And the same goes with their communications toward Israel.

HARLOW: Democrats almost every -- at almost every stop, whether it's the vice president or the president, Errol, are having to face protesters that want this president and this administration to call for a ceasefire. But it goes back - I mean this video was just released by another media outlet -- it's from October -- outside Nancy Pelosi's home. I want you to listen very closely to these protesters.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Your constituents block the sidewalk. Stop - stop the genocide! Stop the holocaust!

REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): Go back to China.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Democrats want the ceasefire. The Democrats want the ceasefire.

PELOSI: Go back to China where you headquarters is.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The Democrats want the ceasefire.


HARLOW: The last thing the speaker said there is, "go back to China where your headquarters is. The reason I bring this up now is it just was released, but also it follows her claiming on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Dana Bash on Sunday morning that some of the protesters were Russian plants. Dana asked her to clarify. You know, she didn't have any evidence of that.

LOUIS: Look, I think the evidence sort of speaks for itself. I think she's probably right in a general sense. I don't know if there are individual plants who are human beings, who are trying to sort of foment descent. But as a general proposition, the idea that, say, TikTok and other social media and the hackers and bots are trying to divide this country, not because of the substance of any particular issue, but just because tearing apart and weakening the United States is their goal, I think she's absolutely right, that that is something that we should be aware of.

HARLOW: But that is different than saying Russian plants and go back to China.

LOUIS: Well, I mean, but it - I'm not sure -

HARLOW: But you're saying the gist of what she's getting to is the point?

LOUIS: I think that's a clear and present danger that this country needs to sort of put on the table and talk about more openly rather than treat this as a one-off.


LOUIS: Like, oh, gee, you know, he's, like, not polling well with young people. OK, yes, that's true, but there's something else that's going on here.

HARLOW: Like the why.

LOUIS: And we don't want to - we don't want to wake up after the fact, the way we did after the 2016 elections, and say, gee, these people were hacking our election all along and we either didn't see it or didn't want to believe that it was happening. I would tend to believe that it's happening.

MATTINGLY: Can I go straight to you to pull all of this together into one neat, little bow, which is, everything that Hagar is laying out in terms of the complexity of this moment on foreign policy, in an election year where without question there are people trying to fuel instability within this country. How does this administration -- is there an analog for them to pull on? Historically, what are they looking at right now to try and get through this moment?

RIGUEUR: So, they have actually - they actually have, I think, a lot of historical data to pull on. And I think the most apt comparison, actually, and that I would be deeply concerned about, is the Johnson administration, 1960s. Johnson coming in as a one-term, one and a half term president in a conflict, in a foreign country, that is deeply unpopular with the American people. And, you know, I think ultimately, for someone who had an agenda, who had a legislative agenda, domestic agenda that was really quite strong, the conflict in Vietnam ultimately hurt his chances at re-election and forced him to step down at a key point in time, right?

So, this idea that foreign policy could be divorced from domestic policy is actually completely wrong. And, in fact, perhaps -- this is one of the things I think the Biden administration needs to do, which is to look at how the American public is connecting what's going on in the foreign arena with these questions about domestic policy.


So, in many of these marches (ph), many of these protests, you hear people talking about, why do we have money and really not really understanding kind of the U.S. foreign policy approach right now, but saying, why do we have money for all of these foreign interventions, foreign wars (ph), protecting the world, whatever we're doing, but we don't have money for things like college education, college debt relief, inflation, right, paying my bills? And so I think the administration really has to do a good job of differentiating between the two, while also simultaneously understanding the generational divide that really does exist between older Democrats and younger Democrats, including younger Democrats who are completely, I think, fed up with this idea -- as we saw with the polling, fed up with this idea that in order for -- that U.S. foreign policy means intervening in these larger regional and geopolitical conflicts.

HARLOW: Appreciate it, all of you.

We have a lot ahead, including who are the powerful women seen standing behind North Korea Leader Kim Jong-un and why they're outlasting the men in Kim's orbit. We have a closer look at that.



HARLOW: Well, new overnight, North Korea fired multiple cruise missiles into the waters off the Korean peninsula. This is according to South Korea. And it's the third time in less than a week this has happened. At some of the launches, Kim Jong-un is pictured surrounded by the women in his inner circle. Our Will Ripley reports.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice over): North Korea's most powerful man making an emotional appeal to women. Kim Jong-un, wiping away tears, urging moms to have more babies to boost the plunging birth rate. Pyongyang's patriarchy persists, observers say, but things may be changing in Kim's Korea.

The North Korean leader bringing powerful women into his orbit. Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui, who recently met with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, a close aide and trusted confidante, famous for fiery speeches and this dramatic demolition of the inter-Korean liaison office. The younger Kim's meteoric rise likely fueled by her close brotherly bond and powerful Kim family bloodline. The family photo that shook the world, the supreme leader revealing his daughter, believed to be Kim Ju-ae, at a missile launch in late 2022, the first in a series of carefully staged father/daughter photo ops, elevating the profile of Kim's elementary- age child, raising questions about succession.

LEE SUNG-YOON, WILSON CENTER FELLOW/AUTHOR, "THE SISTER": Kim Jong-un is saying, by appearing in public with his daughter, my nukes are here to stay, and my power will be handed down to my progeny or maybe someone else, his sibling.

RIPLEY (voice over): For three generations the men of the Kim family ruling North Korea with an iron fist. Now many wonder, could a woman be next in line? Could Kim be grooming his own daughter to some day take command of North Korea's growing nuclear arsenal.

SUNG-YOON: The power will be kept, this absolute power will maintain -- will be maintained in the family.

RIPLEY (voice over): A family where the women seem to be faring better than the men.

Kim's own uncle, Jang Song Take, seen half-heartedly clapping when Kim came to power, South Korean lawmakers said he was executed by antiaircraft guns, and possibly decapitated former President Trump claimed. Kim's exiled older half brother, Kim Jong-nam, assassinated by poison at a Malaysia airport.

Whoever the next North Korean leader is, man or women, Kim's top priority, analysts say, protecting his family's fortune and power.

RIPLEY: Historians on both sides of the political spectrum, left and right, agree that North Korea has essentially perfected the model of the totalitarian state. They have near total control of information, very heavy propaganda. They surveil the population. It a recipe, experts say, for success for the next North Korean leader, whether they be a man or woman, especially given the size of Kim Jong-un's nuclear arsenal.

Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


MATTINGLY: A fascinating piece from Will right there.


MATTINGLY: Well, Elon Musk says his company, Neuralink, has implanted a brain chip into its first human patient. We're going to break down what that all means, next.



HARLOW: Elon Musk says his company, Neuralink, has implanted a brain chip into its first human patient and that the initial results are pretty good. They show, quote, according to him, "promising neuron spiked detection." Elon Musk says the chip will let people control computers, their phones, just through what they think. And he says, quote, "imagine if Stephen Hawking could communicate faster than a speed typist or an auctioneer. That is the goal."

I'm completely fascinated by this. It gives me a lot of hope.

Our senior media analyst and "Axios" senior media reporter Sara Fischer is here.

Should I be as excited about this as I am?

SARA FISCHER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA ANALYST: You should. This is a huge breakthrough, Poppy. The fact that people who are paralyzed might potentially be able to operate something like a keyboard, like Elon Musk said, could be a huge advantage.

But, of course, there's a lot of risks. And that's something that lawmakers are looking into currently with Neuralink.

HARLOW: Can you talk about those risks?

FISCHER: Yes. I mean, for one, whether or not you're going to have safety issues with patients, trial patients. So, they just got some approvals last year to be able to start doing human trials. They were trialing on monkeys. But you want to insure that these are safe human trials.

Now, Elon Musk said that no monkey has died so far. Doesn't believe that any humans will. But, of course, lawmakers are scared about some of the side effects, which could include things like paralysis or even seizures.

MATTINGLY: And we're - I think we're playing the video right now of a monkey playing Pong. I am not as fascinated or excited about this as Poppy is. I like the idea of what it could be. I'm also slightly terrified of technology like tis from a functionality perspective. Does the kind of grand hope, will it match, will it actually come to fruition here?

FISCHER: I mean, your guess is as good as mine, Phil, but these test results seem pretty promising according to Elon Musk and according to Neuralink. But the big picture here is that every time Elon Musk does something new or innovative, people are skeptical over safety. They're skeptical he'll get there. You know, whether it's driverless cars or it's putting rockets in space. And Elon Musk, despite all of his crazy antics, has proven time and time again that he's willing to put the criticism aside and make it work.


FISCHER: And so I'm actually hopeful this could be something that's viable in the future.

HARLOW: And just to do this trial, it had to go through FDA approval, which I'm not saying is full proof. They have their flaws for sure. Every agency does. But every step of the way here they're going to have to go through different regulatory approvals, right?

FISCHER: That's absolutely right.


And, by the way, Poppy, we're going to see X, which is one of Twitter's other -- Elon Musk's other companies, in front of Congress this week. Its new CEO, Linda Yaccarino, will testify.