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Biden Urges Israel To "Be More Careful" With Civilian Lives; Eight Arrested In Europe For Alleged Terror Plots Against Jews; Christie Ad: Trump Is Unfit, But Other Candidates Won't Say It. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired December 15, 2023 - 05:30   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Thanks for being up early with us. I'm Kasie Hunt. Just before 5:30 here on the East Coast.

The public rift between the U.S. and Israel reaching a boiling point with President Biden under mounting pressure as the death toll in Gaza reaches new heights. Biden urging Israel to protect civilian lives.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I want them to be focused on how to save civilian lives. Not stop going after Hamas but be more careful.


HUNT: Those remarks just days after accusing Israel of quote "indiscriminate bombing" -- an accusation that, if true, would be a violation of international humanitarian law.

This is the sensitive backdrop for National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan as he met with Israel Prime Minister Netanyahu last night and President Isaac Herzog this morning. The White House hopes that Israel might scale back its huge ground operation. Sullivan said today he discussed that with Israeli officials.


JAKE SULLIVAN, U.S. NATIONAL SECURTY ADVISER: We had a very construction conversation yesterday about the transition from the high-intensity phase forward and we expect that will occur in the future. When exactly that happens and under exactly what conditions will be a continuing and intensive discussion between the United States and Israel.


HUNT: All right, let's bring in New York Times White House correspondent Zolan Kanno-Youngs to talk more about this. Zolan, good morning. Thank you so much for being here. First, let's just talk about what Sullivan had to say this morning

after his meeting with President Herzog in Israel. How do you interpret kind of the way he positioned the U.S. here, especially considering Biden's remarks yesterday?

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES (via Webex by Cisco): It all amounts to a little bit of a shift in tone, if not a shift in the administration's policy priorities here. Look, the Biden administration and the White House throughout this week has still said and it is still consistent it completely supports Israel's military assault at this point. But you're starting to see a little bit of a shift when it came to the president's tone as well as top aides around questioning what the timeline for this military assault, as well as the way that it goes about trying to ensure that there's accountability for civilian lives that are lost in Gaza.

That amounted to the president's comment. Let's remember that after he made that comment about international support possibly being at risk here for Israel, that came after facing pressure both from the outside and from the inside the administration as well when it comes to this military assault.

So, all amounting to just a bit of a shift in tone.

HUNT: Yeah.

Zolan, clearly, there's a lot of international pressure on the United States around this, but there is also domestic political pressure on the president coming from inside his own party.

How much of what -- of the change that we're seeing in tone, as you note, how much of that is coming in reaction to the domestic pressure versus the international pressure?

KANNO-YOUNGS: I think it's got to be both at this point. I mean, we know that there's an increasing number of Americans as well that are asking questions. We know that there is domestic pressure here on the president. I mean, I've talked to Democrats as well that are wondering about how this conflict could impact the forthcoming election. And we also know that allies around the world have also questioned the number of civilian lives that have been lost.

So it's a combination at this point when it comes to concerns, both internationally and domestically.

HUNT: Yeah, fair enough.

So let's talk about the other major -- it's an international issue but it's been tied up due to, honestly, voluntary decisions from our lawmakers here in the United States with border security, and that's the Ukraine aid.

The president has been increasingly warning that not getting this out the door would hand Putin a victory there. But basically, what he's done is tell Republicans here in the -- in the final hours as they scramble to get a deal on this that he's willing to make significant changes to immigration policies, some of which harken back to the Trump era, in order to get this Ukraine aid out the door.

And he's facing backlash from progressives on it. But I have to say everybody that I talk to -- Democrats that I talk to on the Hill feel like it's actually a pretty necessary political move in the context of a general election.

How do you see the trade-offs that the president is willing to make here?

KANNO-YOUNGS: That's fascinating -- no, that's fascinating. I've been reporting on these negotiations and I've been hearing the same thing Kasie from some Democrats.

Look, make no mistake. The list of proposals that are being considered when you talk about nationwide expansion and expedited removal, and possibly a new authority that would allow the government to rapidly turn away migrants at the border, changing the standard of which asylum that a migrant can pass the initial bar for some, these would be substantial changes to the asylum system.


However, I have talked to Democrats that have said look, right now, you have the convergence of one of the main political vulnerabilities of the White House with also, its foreign policy achievement -- that being uniting the West against Ukraine.

And if you can walk away with showing that not only did you get aid for Ukraine but also, you made a deal on something as elusive to Congress as compromise as the border, I have talked to some Democrats who have seen the benefit of that. But make no mistake, it would be a seismic change in the immigration system as well as the asylum system in America.

And I've also talked to Democrats who have said there's risk there, especially if a forthcoming administration is different from the Biden administration or to have the groundwork of those policies.

HUNT: No, fair enough.

How likely do you think it is that they get a deal across the finish line in the final weeks, or are we definitely kicking this into the new year at this point?

KANNO-YOUNGS: We know that members of Congress and the lead negotiators are staying through the weekend at this point to continue to negotiate on this.

But, I mean, right now, one of the policies that's also being debated is what's known as parole. It's a temporary emergency protection for migrants. That is what the Biden administration has hinged so many immigration policies on --allowing Afghanistans -- excuse me -- Afghans to come to the U.S. and allowing Ukrainian refugees as well.

If that is on the list I think we're in for -- I mean, based off what I'm told and based off the reporting, we're in for a couple more weeks of negotiating here, but we'll see.

HUNT: Yeah, fair enough.

All right. Zolan Kanno-Youngs of The New York Times. Thank you very much for being on the show. It's great to have you. I hope you'll come back.

KANNO-YOUNGS: Oh, thanks so much, Kasie.

HUNT: See you soon.

All right. Eight people suspected of planning attacks on Jewish institutions have been arrested in Europe. Officials say three people were arrested in Denmark, three in Germany, and two in the Netherlands during anti-terrorism raids. Authorities say these arrests are unrelated but there are striking similarities among them.

CNN's Melissa Bell joins us from Paris. Melissa, good morning. What do we know about these arrests that all happened, of course, so close together?

MELISSA BELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: So close together but two separate series of arrests.

First of all, there were those that were announced by German and Dutch authorities. Three people arrested in Germany and one person in the Netherlands suspected of being members, Kasie, of Hamas. And what we're hearing from authorities is that these four people have been involved in Hamas operations abroad in the past and that they were believed to be actively looking for a weapons cache inside Europe with a view to carrying out an attack.

Now, even as we heard about those four arrests, we also learned of a series of arrests by Danish authorities. This time, three people arrested in Denmark and one person arrested in the Netherlands -- unconnected, we hear, to the announcement made by the German the Dutch authorities. Now these four people, we understand, were arrested for terror-related offenses although there was no direct link made explicitly to Hamas by Danish authorities.

The Danish prime minister speaking about the arrests referenced the situation in the Middle East. And we'd also had earlier a statement from Israel linking those arrests by Danish authorities to the war against Hamas, but Danish authorities steering clear of that for now. Simply, that there were terrorists and that there was an awareness about the sensitivity of Jewish sites.

And this is something European states and authorities have been warning about for some time. France also now on high alert for these kinds of activities, Kasie.

HUNT: All right, Melissa Bell for us in Paris. Melissa, thank you very much for that report.

Just ahead here, Chris Christie doubling down on his direct attacks on Trump. Also, what does Nikki Haley's relationship look like with women voters?



HUNT: Welcome back.

The jury resumes deliberations today in the defamation case against former Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani. They're going be deciding how much he'll pay two former Georgia election workers, Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. The two women are suing him for spreading conspiracies about them after the 2020 election -- lies they say led to a barrage of violent racist threats.

On Thursday, during closing statements, their attorney said that Giuliani didn't see the two women as human beings but rather, as expendable.

Let's bring in criminal defense attorney and former prosecutor Kisha Hebbon. Kisha, good morning. It's wonderful to have you on the show.

So the jury heard some of these violent threats earlier this week and I want to play a little bit of it for our viewers to give everyone a sense of just how bad some of these things were. And we do want to give everyone a warning it's disturbing. Take a look.


Eat sh*t and die, you f**cking racist c*nt. You are f**king done you f**king whore.

We're going to burn your store down.


HUNT: And there's a lot more where that came from. These were played for jurors during the trial.

I mean, how powerful do you think this evidence is?

(Audio trouble)

All right, I'm not (AUDIBLE) figuring out how to get her back with us at this point.

Giuliani, of course, did reverse course in his -- in his trial and decided not to testify. I can't imagine why.

All right, let's go to the 2024 campaign trail now. Chris Christie is doubling down in New Hampshire with a new six-figure ad buy that his campaign says is the first Republican candidate ad of the cycle that goes at Donald Trump directly. Take a look at it.


(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Nikki Haley, down by 26 in her home state to Trump, attacks DeSantis.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's only one candidate trying to stop Trump. Chris Christie is the only one who can beat Trump because he's the only one trying to beat Trump.

CHRIS CHRISTIE, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I'm in this race because the truth needs to be spoken. He is unfit.


HUNT: All right, let's bring in Semafor reporter Shelby Talcott. Shelby, good morning.

I want to get your reaction to this ad. It is a significant play that he is making in New Hampshire against Trump. Of course, the person he's honestly running against right now probably is Nikki Haley as well.


And this has been the entire basis of Chris Christie's campaign as he is going hard against Trump and he is arguing that he deserves to be president, in part, because he's the only one who is going to directly attack the frontrunner.

And what I will say is interesting is in the last debate, I talked to a number of DeSantis supporters and donors and one of their arguments that I heard consistently was that they were a little bit frustrated that Ron DeSantis was going after Nikki Haley and thought that he should be going after Donald Trump more.

Now, on the flip side, when I'm out on the campaign trail it's a very tough balance for these candidates to make. Chris Christie is certainly not trying to garner that Trump or Trump sympathetic voter. He's garnering the voters who do not like Trump, and that's sort of a different base from where Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis are trying to be.

HUNT: Right. Because at the end of the day, New Hampshire is also unique in that you can register to -- in the primary even if you are of a different party as long as you change it that day.

And so, CNN's John King spent some time with women Republican voters in Iowa and he talked to them specifically about Nikki Haley. I thought -- I think it's an interesting window into what some of the people are thinking right now.

Take a look at what one woman had to say about Haley.


SHANEN EBERSOLE, IOWA REPUBLICAN VOTER: I think I would lean towards Haley. I think that in the face of people calling names, in the face of people yelling and screaming in front of her, she held her composure. I think that she has the demeanor and the life experience that is more connected to actual Americans.


HUNT: Talk about a campaign trail scene there that John King set up, but let's talk about what she said there.

What do you think is it about -- is it about Haley that is resonating with women?

TALCOTT: I think exactly what that woman right there said. And it's that she projects this kind of different attitude than we're seeing with a lot of the candidates, particularly the frontrunner, Donald Trump. She has a -- she has a different demeanor. She's a little bit more sensitive on some of these social issues. She has the foreign policy background.

And so, a lot of female voters are -- particularly, the ones who are growing increasingly frustrated with Trump or just flat out don't want Donald Trump on the campaign trail, find that a really attractive quality.

HUNT: Shelby, one thing she has been willing to do is take on Vivek Ramaswamy. And she doesn't talk so much about her gender necessarily. She makes some references to it -- her high heels. She -- we played a clip earlier of her saying that we need a badass woman in the White House.

But Vivek Ramaswamy was on the trail yesterday in Atlantic, Iowa and he said this about single mothers. Quote, "Our own taxpayer money is going to pay single mothers in the inner city or elsewhere more money not to have a man of the house than to have a man of the house." And he was asked to explain this rather eyebrow-raising comment on the trail at a different event. Take a look at what he said.


VIVEK RAMASWAMY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I just don't think we should create a government incentive not to be married. I just don't think -- I think a lot of this aid is not helping the people who it's supposed to help. I don't blame these women for responding to incentives created by the federal government.


HUNT: So, of course, this is newer than what Nikki Haley has than the clip I want to show about -- Haley was talking about him earlier in the -- in the cycle because this has been a recurring thing. Take a look at what Haley had to say about Ramaswamy ahead of one of the earlier debates.


NIKKI HALEY, (R) PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He comes out of the gate. He hits the female chair of the party. He hits the female anchor on the platform. And then he hits me, and I'm not saying anything.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I ain't saying, I'm just saying.

HALEY: Well, he might have a girl problem.



HUNT: What is going on here with Ramaswamy?

TALCOTT: That's a good question. And I will say there's certainly no love lost between Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley. And, in fact, I would argue most of the candidates and Vivek Ramaswamy.


But, Vivek Ramaswamy represents this sort of new faction of the Republican Party. The kind of America first equals America only. The side of the party who really wants to hone back into some of these more traditional values that -- in significant ways. Some would argue they are good; many would argue they are bad. And so, he's sort of representing that base of the party. Whereas, Nikki Haley is coming out a little bit more as the moderate of the -- of the primary right now.

HUNT: Yeah. And I think it's also -- it's also very directed at male voters, in particular.

TALCOTT: For sure.

HUNT: Shelby Talcott, we've got just a month until the Iowa caucuses. We really are finally -- it is no longer too early to be talking about it. Thank you very much for being with us this morning. I really appreciate it.

TALCOTT: Thanks.

HUNT: And a quick programming note on the 2024 race. Later today, I'm going to be interviewing Independent presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on my 11:00 a.m. Eastern show "STATE OF THE RACE." It airs on CNN Max and on CNN International. He is, of course, mounting an Independent bid for president and recent polls show him with as many -- much as 20 percent of the vote. I'm sure looking forward to the conversation.

Coming up next on "CNN THIS MORNING" the EU is not giving any more money to Ukraine right now. Will the U.S. still be providing support? And what the IDF is saying about three Israeli bodies recovered from Gaza. Stay with us.



HUNT: All right, time now for sports. Sin City is win city as the Las Vegas Raiders scored nine touchdowns in a historic rout against the Chargers.

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

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

I guess the Raiders decided last weekend -- you know what, let's save all our scoring for primetime on Thursday because they scored zero Sunday against the Vikings but then put up a franchise-record 63 points last night. This was an absolute rout from the start.

Aidan O'Connell just throwing TDs all over the field. He threw four of them. The Raiders were up 42-0 at halftime. That was three short of the NFL record, which was set by Tom Brady and the Patriots back in 2009.

They didn't let up in the second half either, running a little trickery there -- Jakobi Meyers and Davante Adams. They then added two defensive touchdowns to win this game 63-21. It was the most points ever given up by the Chargers.

And their head coach, Brandon Staley, was asked afterwards if he expects to be the coach today.



REPORTER: Do you think you should be?



STALEY: I know that what I've done here for three years and I know what I've put into this. And I know that we're capable of going. I know the type of coach that I am and I believe in myself.


SCHOLES: All right. Warriors coach, Steve Kerr, meanwhile, addressing Draymond Green's indefinite suspension before their game last night. Kerr said the league's decision makes sense and he's hoping that Draymond will work on himself then change his ways.


STEVE KERR, HEAD COACH, GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS: This is not just about an outburst on the court. This is about his life. This is about someone who I believe in. Someone who I have known for a decade who I love for his loyalty, his commitment, his passion. His love for his teammates, his friends, his family. I'm trying to help that guy because the one who grabbed Rudy -- that choked Rudy, the one who took a wild flail at Jusef, the one who punched Jordan last year, that's the guy who has to change.

(END VIDEO CLIP) SCHOLES: Yeah. The Warriors lost to the Clippers last night.

All right. And finally, Shohei Ohtani is now officially a Dodger. He put on the new jersey for the first time at a news conference in L.A. last night. And we know he signed a record-setting 10-year, $700 million deal but what we did not know was the name of Ohtani's dog that became a viral sensation when he accepted his American League MVP award. But that question was answered last night.


SHOHEI OHTANI, LOS ANGELES DODGERS DESIGNATED HITTER (through translator): So his name is Dekopin. That's a Japanese name and I figured it would be hard for American people to pronounce it, so he has an American name and it's Decoy. So yeah, you can call him Decoy or Dekopin.


SCHOLES: In Japanese, Dekopin means flicking someone's forward with a finger -- which why would you name a dog that, Kasie, I'm not sure because nobody enjoys getting flicked in the forehead with a finger.

HUNT: Yeah. I feel like there's something lost in translation there. I'm just going to have to figure out what that is.

SCHOLES: I guess so. Cute dog, though. I love that dog.

HUNT: Yeah, very cute. I love -- I love -- I love a dog in a -- in a -- in a photograph like that -- or a moment like that.

Andy, thank you very much, my friend.

SCHOLES: All right.

HUNT: Have a great weekend.

All right, we're going to end our week with this. She's Time magazine's Person of the Year. She is the most-played artist globally on Spotify. And now, Taylor Swift can add another notch to her belt.

Pennsylvania, Taylor's home state, is officially in its Taylor Swift Era. Lawmakers passed a resolution on Wednesday recognizing 2023 as "Swift's Era." While the resolution had its naysayers, who votes against this? It passed 103-100 -- so, actually, pretty narrowly. But as Swift says, the haters can --




HUNT: That resolution passed on her 34th birthday. Happy birthday, Taylor.

Thanks to all of you for joining us. I'm Kasie Hunt. Have a wonderful weekend. Don't go anywhere. "CNN THIS MORNING" starts right now.