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Early Start with John Berman and Zoraida Sambolin

Speaker Mike Johnson Facing Critical Test Ahead Of Government Shutdown Deadline On Friday; Israeli Military: Weapons Found In Gaza Children's Hospital Basement; Rep. Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) On Biden's West Coast Summit With Xi Jinping. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired November 14, 2023 - 05:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: To pass a funding bill in a fractured conference.

While Speaker Johnson's two-step continuing resolution plan could head for a critical procedural vote today there is, of course, the usual pushback from the hardline members of his own party.


REP. CHIP ROY (R-TX): I'm disappointed in this bill and I certainly hope that this bill is not going to proceed as it's currently structured.

REP. ANDY OGLES (R-TN): Apparently, I'm a (INAUDIBLE) just another clean C.R. that continuing this -- continues the status quo is not going to be acceptable.

REP. MAJORIE TAYLOR GREEN (R-GA): I think it's a failure. I am not voting for a clean C.R. I'm not carrying on Nancy Pelosi's budget.


HUNT: So this is going to come down to the Democrats. They have been, so far, waiting in the wings to watch it all unfold.

Let's bring in Leigh Ann Caldwell. She's the author of The Washington Post's "Early 202" newsletter. Leigh Ann, it's always great to see you. Thanks for being here.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST'S "THE EARLY 202" NEWSLETTER (via Webex by Cisco): Thanks for having me, Kasie.

HUNT: So let's talk about where things stand on the Hill right now because it seems like they are going to move forward with a plan that's basically going to require two-thirds of the entire House to move forward with keeping the government open. That means that the speaker will need Democrats to get it done. And this is basically the same move that Kevin McCarthy made that got him thrown out, no?

CALDWELL: Yeah, it's exactly the same move. That's what Kevin McCarthy did on the day that the government was supposed to shut down in September, just about six weeks ago. And ultimately, three days later, that cost him his job.

Now, we have to have the caveat that Kevin McCarthy had a lot of personal differences with some members and no love lost between many of them, so that didn't help McCarthy either. But the fact is that they put in a new leader and he is doing the exact same thing.

It's fascinating though because Mike Johnson is concerned someone who is much more conservative than Kevin McCarthy, who is steeped in conservative policy. And so, when faced with a choice of either shutting down the government and appeasing the far-right of his conference or moving forward in a bipartisan fashion with Democrats or needed Democratic support, he has chosen the latter.

And it's just a fascinating moment that also shows how difficult Republicans -- how difficult it is for Republicans to pass anything along party lines when, of course, there's a Democratic Senate and Democratic president.

HUNT: Indeed, there is.

What's your sense of what Democrats in the House are going to do about this?

CALDWELL: So my sources are telling me that they are going to wait to make a decision until leaders talk with their entire caucus this morning at their weekly closed-door caucus meeting.

But I will say these are the things that they are discussing -- they are weighing. They don't like this two-step process. They think it sets up two chances for a government shutdown in the near year. They are worried that they lose their leverage for Ukraine aid. And they want, potentially, something out of providing, once again, Republicans their votes for a Republican plan.

But all signs, Kasie, are pointing to the fact that Democrats don't want the government to shut down and so they're likely to provide the votes. Remember last time when McCarthy did it, it got the support of 127 Republicans and 209 Democrats.

HUNT: Right. So this obviously could be a path forward again.

Leigh Ann, while I have you, we mentioned this briefly earlier in the show but I was interested in what Mitt Romney had to say about -- to CNN about whether or not he was planning on running for president. He basically slammed the door to it and said no, I'm not doing that. There had been this group formed to try to encourage him to run with Joe Manchin on a third-party ticket. And sort of the consensus in Washington is sort of like all that would do is hand Donald Trump the presidency.

And Romney was quoted extensively in this McKay Coppins book as talking about some of these possibilities and basically saying that a Trump presidency would be a complete disaster for the country.

I mean, what do you make of Romney saying this? And what's the chatter on the Hill about what's next for Manchin?

CALDWELL: Yeah. So, I mean, it seems -- after you write a -- or allow someone to write a tell-all book about you and your career and what you think about members of your own party, it seems like it would be hard for him to run for president.

But I think that all eyes should be on Joe Manchin. His exit video did not look like he was going to go back home to West Virginia and throw rocks into the streams and hang out with his family. It was a very presidential-looking video with American flags in the background. So he hasn't closed the door to it. So I think that Joe Manchin is where we need to be watching what happens next.


HUNT: Yeah, although I guess what we learned is that Manchin's running mate will not be Mitt Romney. That's what we took away --

CALDWELL: Right, yeah.

HUNT: -- from yesterday.

All right. Leigh Ann Caldwell, thank you very much. I always appreciate you getting up early for us.


HUNT: Thank you.

CALDWELL: Thanks, Kasie.

HUNT: All right, now this. The Israeli military says they discovered weapons in a basement underneath a children's hospital in Gaza. The IDF says there were suicide bomb vests, grenades, AK-47 assault rifles, explosive devices, and more. They also found signs that Hamas may have held hostages there.

Let's bring in CNN military analyst, Col. Cedric Leighton. Colonel, always grateful to have you here in the mornings.

I want to talk about this hospital, what the Israelis have said, and what we know. What do we know about what's underneath that hospital and how Hamas is using infrastructure like the Al Shifa hospital?

CEDRIC LEIGHTON, CNN MILITARY ANALYST, FORMER MEMBER OF JOINT STAFF AT PENTAGON (via Webex by Cisco): Yeah, good morning, Kasie. It's always great to be with you.

The big thing that I think we can take away from this is that it looks like what the Israelis have said that there are military facilities related to the Hamas organization underneath these hospitals, I think that may very well be true.

The -- of course, you always want to have a neutral observer look at this stuff. But the big thing is that they are putting military hardware, control nodes -- all of those kinds of things right underneath civilian -- protected civilian institutions such as hospitals. And what that does is it complicates the targeting process for the Israelis. In some ways, it's an ingenious way for Hamas to do this.

But what it does is it is also, in essence, committing a war crime if all of this bears out. And the reason it would be a war crime is because as a combatant, you cannot put others in danger. You cannot put civilians deliberately in danger because of your actions.

HUNT: Colonel, what is your sense of the balance between the ongoing airstrikes that the Israelis are conducting and these ground operations in Gaza? Because clearly, the Americans have been trying to send the Israelis a message, like, you're losing the public. You are losing public opinion. The French President Macron called for a ceasefire, the first member of the G7 to do so.

Do you think that they could be adjusting their tactics to try to accommodate this or not?

LEIGHTON: Yeah, I think the Israelis are trying to adjust their tactics. You see much more movement in terms of humanitarian corridors or humanitarian pauses -- not a ceasefire because a pause is much shorter. But the basic idea is that the Israelis are actually trying to shorten the windows in which they operate their combat -- their combat missions.

So the Israelis have a problem here. On the one hand, the dilemma is that they are going in from a military perspective and they have a justified reason to go in there because of the October 7 attacks. The problem that they have is that their targeting process is absolutely complicated by the fact that Hamas is using civilian institutions as basically a cover for their actions.

So what it means then for the Israelis is yes, they are adjusting their tactics. They are adjusting their public posture. And they are trying to come back on the public information sphere to try to fight that battle itself, which is very important in warfare.

HUNT: Yeah, for sure.

All right, Colonel Cedric Leighton, CNN military analyst. Very grateful to have you on the show, sir. I hope to see you soon.

LEIGHTON: You bet, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. President Biden heading to California today ahead of tomorrow's meeting with China's President Xi Jinping. What to expect from that highly anticipated summit up next.

And coming up in just minutes, Congressman Jake Auchincloss joins me live.



HUNT: Welcome back.

President Biden leaving for San Francisco later this morning where tomorrow he's set to hold a highly anticipated bilateral with China's President Xi Jinping. The face-to-face meeting between the leaders of the world's two biggest economies comes as tensions remain high over trade, sanctions, and the future of Taiwan.

CNN's Marc Stewart joins us live from Beijing. Marc, what is the goal of this bilat for the United States and for China?


Well, let's just first of all acknowledge the fact that the fact these two men are meeting is actually very significant because over the last year or so, there have been so many hiccups along the way in this relationship, including that incident with the balloon over U.S. airspace that was shot down. But we have seen a lot of back-and-forth and so now these talks are on track.

Really, two areas of focus.

First of all, let's talk about military. Expect China to reaffirm that Taiwan is theirs and it may perhaps even give a warning to the United States about some of its recent surveillance flights it's been doing near the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.

You know, one analyst was saying to me the point of all this -- perhaps a big point is to prevent this relationship from spiraling out of control. Because I think Max brought up earlier there are so many other conflicts around the world right now -- Ukraine, and then Israel and Hamas. China does not want to be entangled in something else.

And then, number two is this idea of an economic relationship. Right now, China's economy is dealing with some very slow growth. It's very -- it's very much a big issue here. Youth unemployment. There's a real estate crisis. This is a chance for China to say to the U.S. we are back open for business.

Post-pandemic, we have seen a really strong relationship between the United States and China, especially when it comes to trade. Americans buy a lot of merchandise from China. China buys a lot from the United States. It's a big moneymaker.


That's why, Kasie, we hear many people in the administration, especially Janet Yellen, talking about this idea of de-risking and not decoupling.

So those are some of the big issues. Other things may come up as well but this is going to be pretty scripted and pretty choreographed, which I think is pretty typical for a meeting like this.

HUNT: Indeed.

All right, Marc Stewart for us in Beijing. Marc, thank you. Always good to see you.

Let's dive deeper into this meeting and what else is going on on Capitol Hill and around the country with Democratic Congressman Jake Auchincloss of Massachusetts. Congressman, I'm so grateful to have you up early.

And let's start there with what Marc was reporting on -- this meeting between Presidents Biden and Xi in San Francisco. There are obviously specific objectives for this meeting, including apparently, restoring military-to-military ties between the new nations -- the two nations.

How do you view this in the context of global security, first of all? But second of all, China has become very much a political question on the campaign trail and I'm interested in your thoughts on how the Biden administration is handling that piece of it.

REP. JAKE AUCHINCLOSS (D-MA): Good morning, Kasie.

First, the context for this meeting. The United States is in a stronger position relative to China than when last President Biden and Xi Jinping met. And that relative positional change is important because it gives the United States stronger terrain.

And the United States should always be strong and smart in every engagement with China. I think it'll be important for the president to demonstrate strength by condemning China's human rights abuses in Xinjiang province and being clear that the United States will be unflinching in standing with our allies in Taiwan, in Hong Kong, in Israel, in Ukraine.

And we can be smart also by looking for tighter Chinese export controls on fentanyl, which is helping to drive the opioid crisis in the United States. And by restoring military-to-military communication channels that we don't have an accidental escalation.

But strength is going to be the determining factor here. Congress can strengthen the president's hand by preventing a government shutdown and by passing the supplemental security package to show that the United States is going to support democracy, whether it's fighting against totalitarianism, or tyranny, or terror. And that will allow the president to speak more forcefully and credibly.

HUNT: Yeah, Congressman, I'm glad you raised that because Democrats are facing a critical question about how to handle Republican attempts to keep the government funded. They are, it looks like, going to need Democratic votes to get this done.

Do you think Democrats should be prepared to vote with Republicans on this continuing resolution, or do you have concerns about that?

AUCHINCLOSS: Democrats want to govern and we want to support democracy here at home and overseas. Last Congress, when Democrats had the same majority that Republicans have this Congress, we invested in infrastructure. We invested in domestic manufacturing. We empowered Medicare to negotiate drug prices to lower health care costs. And we did some of that with Republican votes. So we want to govern in a bipartisan fashion but right now, the House Republicans are mired in dysfunction and chaos. Last time they filed a C.R., at the end of September, I said it was the last time I was going to support a continuing resolution without clear, credible, and concrete steps to support our allies overseas -- Ukraine, then, and Ukraine and Israel now. So if House Republicans cannot demonstrate that they have credible and concrete plans for how they're going to support our allies overseas, I think Democrats need to -- need to draw a tough line.

HUNT: Congressman, is there anything that you would support negotiating with Republicans on to ensure that particularly, Ukraine is funded?

AUCHINCLOSS: Border security. I know that the Senate, right now, is in negotiations on changing border security policy in order to unlock Ukraine aid. That's a win-win.

We have two challenges right now. One is how to get the House and Senate Republicans on board with funding Ukraine for another year as they fight on the front lines of the free world. And another is that the border is not secure and that we need improvements both to security and to the due process that immigrants and asylum seekers encounter here in the United States. We should be able to negotiate on that and make concessions that the big middle can get behind.

HUNT: Congressman, I want to ask you about the presidential race. I talked to your colleague in the House, Dean Phillips, on the campaign trail in New Hampshire earlier this week. He, of course, has been widely rejected by colleagues in the House and seems to be reacting to that by insisting he's going to put more money into this.

And separately, there has been kind of a fever pitch reached around concerns about how the Biden campaign is or isn't prepared to take on Donald Trump adequately.


Do you have concerns about the president's campaign and the aggressiveness with which they are treating the threat that Democrats believe Donald Trump poses to this country?

AUCHINCLOSS: I can remember the last election cycle when Joe Biden was declared politically dead going into New Hampshire. This is going to be a close election and it's a high-stakes election. It's going to come down to thousands of votes in Pennsylvania, and Michigan, and Arizona, and Nevada. I think the president's campaign knows that and certainly, Democrats know that.

And it's incumbent on not just the presidential campaign but Democrats across the country, including members of Congress, to go out there and 1) communicate what the president and Democrats have accomplished -- investing in infrastructure, investing in the American economy and domestic manufacturing, lowering health care costs, standing for democracy the world over. And also, to draw a stark choice. The president has been a capable steward of our democracy in a

turbulent time. His likely opponent, Donald Trump, is under indictment for conspiring against the Constitution. We are going to be unrelenting in making that a sharp distinction and that is going to resonate with voters.

HUNT: All right. Congressman Jake Auchincloss, very grateful to have you up early in the morning with us. I do hope you'll come back.


HUNT: All right. Thank you very much, sir.

All right. Thousands of people set to flood the National Mall in Washington today. What to expect during the march for Israel ahead.

And new video reveals a Trump aide told a former campaign lawyer that Trump planned to stay in power, win or lose. How this could help Trump prosecutors, coming up on "CNN THIS MORNING."



HUNT: Welcome back.

The Broncos beat the Bills as the clock hit zero Monday night, capping off a wild and record-setting week of NFL games.

Andy Scholes has this morning's Bleacher Report. Andy, good morning.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yeah, good morning, Kasie.

You know, we had six games decided on the final play of regulation this week, so that's the most ever for any single week in NFL history.

And if you are a Bills fan this morning it might be time to hit that panic button because this was another brutal loss on "MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL." So the Bills had four turnovers in the game against the Broncos, including the very first play of the game. Buffalo now with 18 turnovers this season -- the second-most in the NFL.

And the Broncos taking advantage. Second quarter, Russell Wilson here -- going to roll out. He's made a pretty pass and look at this incredible catch by Courtland Sutton. Drags the foot as he makes the catch with no space to spare right there. That touchdown put Denver up 9-0.

The Bills, though, still able to battle back. They took a one-point lead after that Josh Allen touchdown right there but penalties would doom the Bills. A pass interference got the Broncos in position for a game-winning field goal. They missed it. But Buffalo had 12 men on the field. Allen couldn't believe it. So the Broncos -- another chance and this time Wil Lutz makes it.

The Broncos win 24-22. The Bills now drop to 5-5 on the season. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOSH ALLEN, BUFFALO BILLS QUARTERBACK: It sucks. We shouldn't have been in that position in the first place. It's a lot of bad football -- a lot of bad football. Yeah, I'm still confident but it's no secret the clock's ticking, you know. We've got to have some urgency now.


SCHOLES: All right. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, meanwhile, joining "THE MANNINGCAST" where Peyton and Eli asked him about the rumor that he wears the same pair of red underwear to every game.


PATRICK MAHOMES, KANSAS CITY CHIEFS QUARTERBACK: Well first, my wife Brittany got them for me, so I had to -- I'm not throwing you all down but I have to wear them, you know. But at the same time, I threw them on that first season. We had a pretty good season that season. I only wear them for game day, though, so I can't get -- they're not too worn down. They're not like these, like, nasty underwear. I clean them.


MAHOMES: I do. I wash them. I wash them every once in a while, at least.

MANNING: It is a thong? Is it a G-string? What is it?

MAHOMES: I mean, if we're -- if we're on a hot streak I can't wash them, you know? Like, I've got to just keep them -- keep it rolling. So, you know, as long as I'm winning football games I'll keep the superstition going.


SCHOLES: Yeah, it's working thus far.

All right. And for the third straight season, "HARD KNOCKS" is coming back for the playoff push.




SCHOLES: Oh, that looks good. You're going to get to follow Tua Tagovailoa, Mike McDaniel, and AFC East-leading Miami Dolphins as they try to win the franchise's first Super Bowl in almost 50 years. The series premieres next Tuesday on HBO. It's going to be streaming on MAX.

All right. And finally, Michigan football coach Jim Harbaugh speaking with reporters for the first time since the Big 10 suspended him for the rest of the regular season in response to the sign-stealing scandal involving a former staffer. Harbaugh says he plans to attend the appeal hearing on Friday and is looking forward to giving his side. He also said -- had an interesting new name for his team after watching them beat Penn State.


JIM HARBAUGH, MICHIGAN HEAD COACH: Yeah, watching that, I would have to say -- I mean, to everybody -- it's got to be America's team. It's got to be America's team. America loves a team that beats the odds, beats the adversity, overcomes what the naysayers and critics -- so- called experts think. That's my favorite kind of team.


SCHOLES: Yeah. So Michigan is trying to get a restraining order to allow Harbaugh to be on the field Saturday at Maryland. He can still coach during the week during his suspension, Kasie. But America's team -- interesting choice for a nickname for his squad with everything kind of surrounding the program right now.


HUNT: Yeah, I know. You know, I'm a huge Michigan fan. I think we would all still be disappointed if some of this turns out to be true.

But Andy, can I go back to the earlier story because that is way more than I ever needed to know about Patrick Mahomes' underwear? Oh my God.

SCHOLES: Yeah. Well, Michael Jordan wore the same North Carolina shorts for all of his games. This is kind of the same thing.

HUNT: Did he talk -- well, shorts. Short are -- I mean, did he talk as much about it? I'm sorry.

Anyway -- all right. Andy, thank you.

SCHOLES: All right.

HUNT: I'll see you later.

Thank you all for joining us. I'm Kasie Hunt. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.