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Biden Faces Backlash Within State Department Over War; Hamas Accused of Operating Command Center Below Hospital; Biden & Xi to Meet for Talks Tomorrow. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired November 14, 2023 - 05:00   ET




Joe Biden in a bind. People inside the State Department speaking out about the president's support for Israel.

Plus, hospitals on the frontlines. Israel says Hamas used one to stash weapons and at one point to hide hostages.

And, new speaker, same dilemma. The House's GOP leader might need Democrats -- will need Democrats to help stave off a government shutdown in just days.

Good morning to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's Tuesday, November 14th, 5:00 a.m. here in Washington, where President Biden wakes up to growing backlash within his own State Department over his staunch backing of Israel with hospitals in the line of fire in Gaza.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken acknowledged Monday that the hospital crisis in Gaza is sparking anger and dissent not only from staff at the State Department, but from within the broader Biden administration.

Here's the president on Monday.


REPORTER: The hospitals in Gaza, have you expressed anywhere specific concerns to Israel on that, sir?

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, you know I've not been reluctant in expressing my concern with what's going on. And it's my hope and expectation that there will be less intrusive action relative to the hospital. The hospital must be protected.


HUNT: National Security Council spokesman John Kirby later clarified Biden's comments to say the president was really discussing how hard Hamas has made it for Israel.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL COORDINATOR FOR STRATEGIC COMMUNICATIONS: When you bury those targets inside civilian infrastructure, particularly a hospital where there's innocent patients and little kids who have severe issues that need looking after, it makes it much harder for any military force to go after those targets because the hospital itself, ought to be, as the president, ought to be protected. So he's really talking about this incredibly difficult conundrum that Israeli military forces are facing right now.


HUNT: A U.S. official with knowledge of American intelligence says Hamas does have a headquarters under the hospital. Hamas and hospital officials deny the accusation that the hospital is being used as a command center.

But new video from the IDF shows what it says is a terrorist carrying a rocket propelled grenade launcher at the entrance to the hospital.

CNN's Clare Sebastian live in London with more.

Clare, good morning.

How is Israel handling this? What is actually going on under, inside the hospital?


Israel is certainly stepping up efforts to try to show that it is doing everything it can within its power to protect civilians. We've seen that they have been talking about evacuation specifically from al-Shifa and several other hospitals in the north while they continue these daily pauses, with evacuations from the north to the south of Gaza.

They released video over the weekend which they claim showed Israeli soldiers delivering fuel to the Al-Shifa hospital. There are disputed accounts over why that fuel didn't get to the hospital. That was an image released by the IDF this morning, which they claimed there are arrangements is to transfer incubators to Gaza even though we haven't actually heard any evidence or reports from inside Gaza that they have a lack of incubators, just a lack of fuel to power them.

So, they are doing all of that. Meanwhile, they're trying to show again the evidence of why they say the fighting has to be so close to these hospitals which is, of course, because they say Hamas is embedded within them, in the case of Al-Shifa. They say there is a control and command under the hospital, something backed up by a U.S. official, even taking Western journalists into Gaza, including our own Nic Robertson, to show them evidence of these tunnels close to hospitals.

So they are really stepping up this messaging. But certainly the reports that we're getting out of Gaza suggest that specifically in the case of Al-Shifa, these evacuation orders simply cannot be heeded. The head of the Hamas-run health ministry said that there are some 700 patients within that hospital that simply cannot leave, they are too vulnerable, that image of newborn babies on the table now, one of the sort of touchstone images of this conflict. And doctors are having to stay, he said, to look after these patients.

So, the situation even though hospitals are saying that they had to stop operations essentially is still worsening -- Kasie.


HUNT: Indeed. All right. Clare Sebastian, thank you very much for that report.

All right. Let's bring in now Akayla Gardner. She's White House correspondent at "Bloomberg News" to talk more about this.

Akayla, good morning to you. Thank you so much for being here.


HUNT: How is the White House thinking about this right now? Obviously, the president spoke about it and then John Kirby had to clean up of -- clean up his remarks just a little bit.

GARDNER: Well, the White House is saying right now, at least publicly, they can't confirm whether or not Hamas is under or operating under any specific hospitals. But they are saying that Hamas does have a habit of surrounding itself around civilians, using them essentially as human shields and that is a habit that they have been told from Israeli intelligence.

But I think what we're seeing really is the White House sort of changing this into how they defend Israel. There's been growing calls, including as you mentioned, from inside the administration, particularly at State Department and USAID about how the administration has continued to defend Israel, especially in light of the sheer amount of deaths. Gaza, the health minister there, even though the U.S. does not know for sure whether those numbers are verifiable, but they had said that over 11,000 people have died and those -- because of those sheer numbers, there has been growing dissent. We've obviously seen protests several weeks ago.

And so, the administration is definitely taking a harder stance when it comes to protecting civilian life. Publicly, there was a time where the administration said it was obvious to them that Israel was protecting civilian life. That is something that we're no longer hearing them necessarily say and they're still holding a stronger line to Israel for this specifically.

HUNT: Akayla, let's talk about pressure around calling for a ceasefire. I mean, the administration has been very clear they're not going to, but there does seem to be increasing pressure not just from publics in the Arab world but also from the G7?

GARDNER: That's right. Exactly. Prime Minister or excuse me -- President Emmanuel Macron recently became the first G7 leader to call for a ceasefire. And that is hugely significant because the G7 has really rallied around Israel. They had a joint statement affirming their support of Israel in this war.

And so, that was very significant for him to come out and say this just recently. And just yesterday, you had the president of Indonesia in the Oval Office very publicly in the press break calling for a ceasefire. And that was very intentional especially because the press leaves in just a few minutes and they have several minutes to be together privately.

And so, there is definitely increasing pressure from world leaders. And that is significantly different than Ukraine. We've seen most countries on the same page when it comes to supporting Ukraine, except for very small hand few of countries. And this feels starkly different.

And again, I do think it's because the shear number of deaths that we've seen. People have been questioning Israel's military (INAUDIBLE).

HUNT: All right. Akayla Gardner, thank you very much for starting us off this morning. I really appreciate your time.

All right. Coming up here, Presidents Biden and Xi set to meet near San Francisco this week. We're going to get a live report from Beijing.

Plus, the countdown ticking to another government shutdown.

And later a deep dive with a Democratic Congressman Jake Auchincloss from Massachusetts.



HUNT: Welcome back.

A CNN review of court documents, social media reports and victim interviews has revealed a massive, relentless campaign of intimidation by the Chinese government targeting U.S. residents. Known as spamouflage, victims are sent thousands of posts or emails harassing them or name-calling them, using racist slurs.

The State Department says it's part of a broader effort to silence critics of Beijing.

CNN's Max Foster joins us live now from London.

Max, good morning. Always good to see you.

These kinds of coordinated attacks or trying to discredit U.S. politicians and journalists and also disparage American companies, what do we know about this and how does it potentially affect this big meeting between Presidents Biden and Xi tomorrow? MAX FOSTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, it does seem to be very

specific, so it's trying to silence, as you say, China's critics and doing so with this intimidation campaign which effectively scares people into silence. And we saw from Donie's reporting how powerful this can be. So even using images to disparage the people who are critics of China in the United States.

So, it is very specific, not necessarily anti-American, you could argue, but when you are promoting Chinese values, that sometimes undermines U.S. values. And it's a huge problem, how do you manage this. You have to work with the social media companies, but one of the biggest, of course, is Chinese. So, it is something which is a big problem because it does undermine U.S. interests to a large extent and overtime could be seen to be doing more.

So, Biden would be expected to mention it, but it's very difficult to see Xi admitting to it if it is something that he could admit to or indeed doing anything about it.

HUNT: Right. What's the view? I mean, Biden will take off from Washington later on today to head out to California for these meetings with President Xi, a pretty significant step. How is the broader global community looking at this meeting between America and China, and what are the stakes?

FOSTER: I think everyone is just looking at it hoping it doesn't go badly. These are the two superpowers in the world. There's a huge amount of worry around the world about the tension between the two.


The military tension particularly in the South China Sea, combined with what we've got going on in Ukraine and Middle East. There's a huge sense of, you know, fear that this could all sort of blow up in some way.

And these are the two guys really at the center of it and could potentially calm things down because if there is a World War III, a lot of people fear it would be between the United States and China, not to do with Ukraine or indeed Middle East, although they may play into it. So I think people just hope it will go well. We don't often get much sort of, you know, material progress coming out of these meetings, but we just want to see that they're getting on well, and the tensions don't increase pretty generally.

HUNT: Yeah. Let's talk about it in the context of the Israel-Hamas war because obviously Chinese and Russians have been getting closer. The Russians are obviously very tied in with Iran. And I'm curious, how do increased potential Chinese ties with Iran, to the extent that they exist, play into all of this?

FOSTER: So China, broadly saying, that there needs to be some sort of peace deal, there needs to be some sort of resolution to this, but not actually offering solutions. Russia being much more vocal and they tend to fall behind China on these sorts of issues. This is all about undermining the U.S. isn't it, and creating this new world order if you like.

So, China -- so Russia pretty much taking the side of the Palestinians and the Arab world and dropping the sort of relationships they had been building up with Israel. So we can only assume that China is looking at this and saying, until it works against its interests, it's just not going to get involved. So it's not currently a big issue for China. Whether or not he addresses it with President Biden, we'll have to see. I think they will just pretty much say we need to find a resolution to this and America is far more involved so over to them to find that.

HUNT: Right, indeed. OK. Max Foster, thank you very much. Always good to have you.

FOSTER: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: See you tomorrow.

FOSTER: All right. Just ahead here, a new code of conduct for the Supreme Court. What it does and does not have.

Ad CNN catches up with Senator Mitt Romney. Is he planning another White House run?



FOSTER: Quick hits across America now.

Donald Trump Jr. praising his father's business acumen and investments when he took the stand in the New York civil fraud trial on Monday. His testimony was an attempt by the defense to show Trump properties were actually undervalued in financial statements. Eric Trump, his brother, expected to testify later this week.

The Supreme Court adopting its first code of conduct after months of public criticism after undisclosed trips and gifts to some justices from wealthy benefactors. But critics say the code has no teeth and even the court acknowledged it may need more review.

And Republican Senator Mitt Romney has ruled out a third party bid with Joe Manchin. His comments come after both men announced they would not be seeking re-election and a Boston-based group formed a committee to push for a joint ticket.

All right. More drenching rains along the Gulf Coast could alleviate Louisiana's worst drought on record. We've been talking about this whole week.

Here to explain how the rain could make up crucial ground, our weatherman, Derek Van Dam.

Derek, good morning. What do you got?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Good morning, Kasie. Yeah, we're going to have a little bit of honesty on this Tuesday

morning, okay? I was a little disappointed when I saw the rainfall totals coming out of Louisiana. We need rain. Everyone knows it. We're not getting the big numbers that we had really hoped for.

A lot of the rain -- heaviest rainfall at least has been focused across the southern Texas coastline. This is radar estimated rainfall. So, the radar has the ability to kind of accumulate the rain and pick up on how much in terms of inches has fallen into the region. So that shading of green roughly one to two inches, some pockets of two to four with the yellow, but look across southern Louisiana where we desperately need the rainfall most, really only one to two inches.

This is the highest rainfall totals that we could find. Check out, Corpus Christi, just under 4-1/2 inches. Yes, Texas needs rain, but it's really Louisiana we focus in on because this area, you can see the band of precipitation that's really from New Orleans southward. We'll take what we can get, yes, but we want the rain to shift further north across the region.

But just look, the exceptional drought that continues to plague the gulf coast states, even into parts of Mississippi and Alabama as well. Can't forget them, we need that rain. This is future forecast radar, so we're going forward in time about 36 hours and that band of rainfall really only makes it as far north as let's say Macon, Georgia, into Birmingham, Atlanta. I'd be surprised if you see any rain out of this system.

The bulk of the precipitation going to fall tomorrow and Thursday for Miami-Dade County region. Check this out, rainfall totals here could exceed five inches. So, we're going to look out for some localized flooding as we head into the rest of the workweek across southeastern sections of Florida.

So, just looking at the deficit of rainfall we have going on for the season, that is since September 1, you can see how far below average we are. Atlanta, Jackson, Chattanooga, Charlotte, look at New Orleans, 4-1/2 inches, Alexandria and Lake Charles, also from about five to seven inches below average for the season. Now, there's the rainfall across the southeast, beautiful day across the east coast, mild through the central interior.

And we've been watching this storm system off the West Coast. We were hopeful for rainfall but really only light showers from San Francisco southward into Los Angeles.


Here's a broad look at your temperatures. Hey, for you, Kasie, you'll reach 58 today. So you can call it a nice autumn day.

HUNT: Yeah, it's a beautiful autumn day. We've got some nice -- leaves still on the trees here, enjoying some fall foliage.

VAN DAM: Yeah, that's true.

HUNT: All right. Weatherman Derek Van Dam, thank you, my friend. I'll see you tomorrow.

VAN DAM: Appreciate you. Okay.

HUNT: All right. Up next here, Israel's military says it found signs hostages were held in a Gaza children's hospital. We'll have the latest details.

And new leader, same house. A fractured conference and a looming government shutdown.


HUNT: Good morning. Thank you for being up early with us. I'm grateful to have you. I'm Kasie Hunt.

Stop me if you've heard this before. There are just a few days to go before another possible government shutdown. Speaker Mike Johnson is new to the job, but he's got all the same problems as his predecessor Kevin McCarthy, how to pass a funding bill in a fractured conference. While Speaker Johnson's two-step continuing plan could head for a critical procedural vote today.