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Inside Politics

Biden Says Deal To Free Hostages Held By Hamas Is "Going To Happen"; Thousands Gather At National Mall To Support Israel; Security Officials On High Alert For Pro-Israel Rally In D.C.; GOP Rep. Claims Kevin McCarthy Elbowed Him After Meeting; Rep. Burchett: McCarthy Elbowed Me With "Clean Shot To The Kidneys"; Democrats Signal Openness To Johnson Plan To Avert Shutdown; Trump Campaign Downplays Reports On Controversial Plans; Trump Campaign Pushes Back On Reports About Plans For 2nd Term. Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 14, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, a big development on hostage negotiations. President Biden said, a deal to free the more than 200 hostages held by Hamas is "going to happen." This comes as a senior U.S. official familiar with the talks tells CNN that Israel and Hamas are moving closer to a deal.

I want to get straight to CNN's MJ Lee, who was in San Francisco, with the president, waiting for him at least. What did the president say and put this into the context along with other reporting that you and our colleagues have?

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dana. You heard from President Biden who is making his way now here to San Francisco for his summit with Xi Jinping, expressing a sense of optimism that a deal could be reached to get the hostages out of Gaza.

And this was echoed in part by a U.S. senior official that I was speaking with earlier, who said that Israel and Hamas are moving closer to a deal to secure the release of these hostages. But this official, it's important to note caution that it's closer, but it's not done, essentially saying closer does not mean that they are necessarily close.

Now in terms of the broad parameters of the deal that we are talking about. We're talking about a large group of hostages being released out of Gaza in exchange for a number of Palestinian prisoners that Israel is holding. And while all of this is going on, there would presumably be a sustained pause in fighting that I am told could last as long as five days. But a lot of these details are still being worked out.

And Dana, just to give you a sense of the potential sticking points and really how fraught these negotiations have been. We are told that Israel had at one point requested that one hundred hostages be released. And then we saw, of course, Hamas's military wing saying that what they're discussing is the possible release of some 70 women and children. So, one Israeli official sort of summing this up as Hamas is pushing to release as few hostages as possible for the longest ceasefire possible. There have, of course, also been serious concerns about how to actually execute this in a safe way, given that Gaza is under constant bombardment.

And that is just one of the many things that these parties that have been negotiating over the potential release of these hostages that they have been working on day-to-day for the past couple of weeks. But again, just sensing a little bit of optimism, at least from the American side, including from the president himself. Dana?

BASH: Yes. I mean when the president says, "going to happen." That's a big deal to hear from the president of the United States. But you are, of course, right to put some caution out there, as we report this, given the fact that you have been doing reporting.

I've been talking to sources as have many of our colleagues since these hostages were taken, in particular, the last couple of weeks, as the talks have heated up, where they thought that they were close. I thought that they were almost there, and then the negotiations fall apart. So, we do have to keep that very much in mind. But you're right, there are so many important and specific and complicated aspects to this.

First and foremost, is how many Hamas is going to agree to release we hope, just for humankind, that they release all of the hostages. But also, how physically that would happen, and how long Israel would agree to a "pause" for that to happen, because all of those are factors that are going to have to be discussed and finalized before anything takes place.

LEE: Yes. And I think, Dana, you make a really good point. This is a kind of refrain that we have heard over and over again in the last few weeks from sources that are familiar with these talks, but they have been close before. But a deal obviously has not been struck yet. And just to give you one more sense of why these talks have been so incredibly complicated.

The pure aspect of actually communicating with Hamas has been incredibly challenging. This is not some regular negotiating actor and partner that you were talking about, even just getting messages to Hamas has been very complicated. We know. That is why the Qataris in particular have been playing a lead role in all of this trying to sort of play the mediating role, so that they understand exactly what's going on.


There's also just the question of, can Hamas be even a trusted partner in all of this. I think U.S. officials have shown a lot of skepticism that at any moment any information that they're getting from Hamas, any assurances that they essentially can't be trusted. So that is just another sense of why these talks have been incredibly fraught.

Of course, U.S. officials, again, had been working around the clock, a little bit of optimism that we're hearing from the President. But again, officials really caution until a deal is made. And until they see hostages physically get out, they're not going to be signing any sign relief, until they really see that these hostages are physically out of Gaza.

BASH: Yes. And so much of what has been going on behind the scenes has kind of been playing out some of the posturing that we have seen publicly from the prime minister, from members of his team and also from others in the Arab world about how to kind of play this because you're exactly right, MJ, there is absolutely no trusting in Hamas in particular.

I mean, they're quite literally terrorists. So that notion of negotiating with terrorists is what we're talking about here, which is why the Qataris and others who do have a line even in case of Qatar, they have senior Hamas leaders who are living in their country. And so, this is certainly potentially a moment and we're going to keep on it.

Thank you so much for that reporting. Thank you so much. Appreciate it, MJ. And I wanted to turn to it very much related story here in Washington, and that is tens of thousands of Americans who are gathering on the National Mall. Right now, you're looking at live pictures from the rally for Israel. More than five weeks after 1200 innocent civilians were brutally massacred by Hamas terrorists.

I wanted to go to Gabe Cohen who was there on the mall. And Gabe, another part of the reason why this rally is happening today, Gabe, is A, to push back on antisemitism that is rising, but B, to remind the world that these hostages are still being held by Hamas, and there are family members, many of them who flew to the United States and are where you are on the mall. They came from Israel in order to make sure that the world doesn't forget that their loved ones are being held by Hamas still.

GABE COHEN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dana. That's right. They're just on this. They're just part of this long list of speakers that we're going to see when this program gets underway at one o'clock. And we're still seeing the massive crowds pouring onto this huge section of the mall about a mile long now, fenced off of people coming from all over the country. And as you mentioned all over the world.

I've met people from Ohio, from Georgia, Massachusetts, Florida, California, who all wanted to be here to take part in this event. Organizers think it is going to be the largest gathering of Jewish American communities in recent history.

And they were really intentional and strategic with their language and that list of speakers as they were putting this event together, really toning down the rhetoric, trying to create as they put it a really a wide tent, a big tent of unity and support trying to bring together Jewish organizations from across the political spectrum.

They said there are really three points of focus here. One is showing solidarity with Israel and the Israeli people. One is, as you mentioned, combating antisemitism and the incidents that we have seen in recent weeks across the country and really across the world. And third, to call for a release of the Israeli hostages still being held in Gaza.

And just a few minutes ago, I met a woman in the crowd who says she went to school, to high school with Omer Neutra, Long Island native who is now being held in Gaza. Here's what she said about why she came down today.

OK. Looks like we don't have that sound, Dana, but she talked about Omer and his impact on her and who he was as a person, and she felt that she should be here to support her community. And we know that there is a lot of concern about security here. And we will see, as this gets underway of that same message of unity, that rhetoric is matched by the speakers on that stage.

BASH: Yes. I mean, it's such an important point. I know we didn't get to hear from the, Omar, that who you talk to, but the fact that so many people in the United States and around the world are either know somebody who was killed or is held or know somebody who knows somebody. I mean, the community is -- the Jewish community is quite small. Not just in the U.S., but around the world.


Gabe, thank you so much for that reporting, appreciated. And Gabe mentioned the security concerns, the understandable concerns that law enforcement was focused on as they were preparing for this very large rally here in Washington today.

I want to go to Shimon Prokupecz, who is also there focused on security. What are you seeing and hearing at this moment? What are you hearing from your law enforcement sources, Shimon?

SHIMON PROKUPECZ, CNN CRIME AND JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Look, you know, there are certainly some concerns, right, given the event, given us what's going on across the country as it relates to the protests and antisemitism. So, there's a lot of concern, because you're going to have so many people here gathered in one area.

I mean, we could see up to 100,000 people here. So, for law enforcement, this is a major concern. They're on the highest alerts here. As you can see behind me here, I want to show you. The national guard is even here. They've placed national guard troops at some of these intersections to deal with traffic, but also the security, they're also using these dumpster trucks.

So that, you know, in case some cars wanted to come through here, so they have that extra layer of security, Dana. But I also want to show you here, this is where people are going in. You can see, this is where people who are attending the rally here, this event, this is where they're streaming in.

And then once they go down here, there's a security area. They have to go through magnetometers. They can't bring anything backpacks, anything else. Anything that you would sort of expect at a large event like a Super Bowl, New Year's Eve, and Time Square, same security measures here.

For now, everything's been safe. Everything's been pretty good. Law enforcement is out here. There's a lot of them here. And they're going to continue to be out here on this as this adventure get on the way here around one o'clock.

BASH: OK. Thank you so much. Obviously, it's nice that they're treating it like a Super Bowl, unlike a Super Bowl. This is a group of people who are being threatened by not just rallies by aggressive protests and violence across the world. Thank you so much for that, Shimon.

Now, we're going to go elsewhere in Washington up to Capitol Hill, a very different kind of story, one that I never thought we would be reporting on. But we're talking about a fight, not just a rhetorical fight, a political fight, an actual alleged fight with elbowing and shoving and one member of Congress chasing over after a former speaker of the House.

That is what Congressman Tim Burchett is accusing the former Speaker Kevin McCarthy of doing. What he's accusing McCarthy of doing is of elbowing him in the kidney. Now remember, Burchett is one of eight House Republicans who voted to oust McCarthy from his speakership last month.

CNN's Manu Raju is live on Capitol Hill. Manu, you spoke with Burchett not long after this incident. What's going on?

MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Pretty surreal moment. I mean, all unprecedented moments we're seeing here in the United States Capitol, of course, first starting with the ouster of Kevin McCarthy, something that never happened before, but it's happened more than a month ago. But the tension is still lingering within the Republican conference.

You heard Kevin McCarthy just a few days ago, telling me that he is still angry at several those members and apparently taking it out in physical ways, at least according to Tim Burchett, who said that who is one of those eight Republicans who voted to douse Kevin McCarthy.

And in the hallways of the Capitol accusing McCarthy of taking a shot to his kidneys. A sucker punch, then chasing him down the hallway and engaging in a heated confrontation with the former speaker, suddenly this former speaker denies, but Burchett, says it happened.


RAJU: Explain to us what happened with you and Kevin McCarthy?

REP. TIM BURCHETT, (R-TN): Well, I was doing an interview with Claudia from NPR, a lovely lady. And when she was asking me a question, and at that time I got elbowed in the back. And it kind of caught me off guard because it was a clean shot to the kidneys, and I turned back and there was Kevin. And for a minute that was kind of what had just happened. And then, you know, I chased after him. Of course, he's a -- as I've stated many times, he's a bully with $17 million in a security detail.

And, you know, he's the type of guy that, when you're a kid would throw a rock over the fence then run home and hide behind his mamma's skirt, and he just, you know, from behind that kind of stuff. That's not the way we handle things in East Tennessee. We have a problem with somebody, I'm going to look them in the eye and talk to them.

RAJU: OK. So, he walked down the hallway, hit you with his elbow.

BURCHETT: Yes. You can go on Claudia's Twitter account, it pretty much her X account. It's very accurate.

RAJU: OK. So, then just explain, so you chased him or what do you mean you chased him?

BURCHETT: Well, I just ran after him. I was like, what the heck, you know, why did you do that? You know, because it was, like I said, if you ever been hitting the kidneys, it's a little different. You don't have to hit very hard to cause a little bit of pain, a lot of pain.


And so, and he just, of course, as he always did -- does, he just denies it or blame somebody else or something, you know, and it was just a little heated. But I just backed off because there wasn't -- I saw no reason I wasn't gaining anything from it, and I think everybody saw it, so it didn't really matter.

RAJU: But he responded to?

BURCHETT: Yes. He just acted like, you know, what are you talking about? You know, who are you to, you know, that kind of thing. And it's just, you know, I think that's symptomatic of the problems that he's had in his short tenure as speaker.

RAJU: And were you face-to-face when you have this interaction?

BURCHETT: Yes, but there's security detail, and I get it. They were doing their job. So, it wasn't exactly like he didn't. He went and turned around and face me. He kept scurrying and trying to keep people between me and him.

RAJU: And then so, what did he -- -

BURCHETT: I just let it go at that point. It wasn't -- -

RAJU: Yelling?

BURCHETT: He was, yes, I raised my voice to him. I thought it was appropriate. And I use don't expect a guy who was at one time three steps away from the White House to sucker, hit you with a sucker punch in the hallway.

RAJU: And did he raise his voice back to you?

BURCHETT: Yes, just that high pitched, kind of thing, I believe, and that was a bad idea (Ph)

RAJU: And did he walk into his office? How did this end?

BURCHETT: No, I just kept on walking down the hall. I don't know where his office is now.


RAJU: And he went on to say that he is still in pain from what he calls a "a sucker punch." Now, Kevin McCarthy denies this in a conversation with our colleague, Melanie Zanona, saying that, "I didn't shove or elbow him, it's a tight hallway." And I just asked the speaker of the House, Mike Johnson, about whether he witnessed it or whether he has any comment. He said he didn't see it and declined to comment. Dana?

BASH: I mean, I'm just reading some of he talked about Claudia Grisales, who's an excellent reporter at NPR. She has the quotes because she was there, Burchett said, you got no guts. What kind of chicken move is that? You're pathetic, man. You're so pathetic. And then said when McCarthy started to walk away. He said to the reporter, Claudia, what a jerk. You need security Kevin, screaming after the former speaker. I mean, wow.

Meanwhile, that happened, but there actually is some important business that is going on in those halls where you are, which is keeping the government open or at least trying. Give us a report on that, Manu?

RAJU: Yes. And look, this all ties back to Kevin McCarthy. Remember that he pushed through a measure to keep the government open to not have spending cuts. He needed Democrats to get it over the finish line, that led to his ouster, led by Congressman Matt Gaetz. And people like Tim Burchett, as well as other seven, say a total Republicans voting with Democrats to do just that.

The new Speaker Mike Johnson, essentially doing the same tactic, actually putting forward a bill on the floor to keep the government open. No spending cuts attached to it, needs Democratic support to get it over the finish line. And but doing something a little bit different that some of the federal agencies will be extended until mid-January, others till February, but no spending cuts that has prompted significant pushback from those right flank.

But Dana, we do expect Democrats to eventually carry this over the finish line later today is expected to pass the Senate before they head home for Friday. But Mike Johnson told me, he is not concerned about the security of his speakership in the aftermath of this move. Dana?

BASH: I mean, I wish there's so much to unpack with all of this, but the news is definitely out there. And Manu, appreciate you giving it all to us, and of course grabbing a Congress member Burchett there to get his rendition of what happened. Thank you.

RAJU: Thanks, Dana. BASH: And coming up, Donald Trump's campaign pushes back on reporting about the radical immigration policies. A second term would allegedly bring three words they aren't saying, it's not true. We'll explain after a break.



BASH: Donald Trump's campaign is trying to downplay reports of some controversial plans for a potential second Trump term. The New York Times first reported these details, which CNN confirmed about Trump's 2025 immigration plans, should he be president again. That included large scale and arrests of undocumented immigrants, detention camps and travel bans.

And a statement issued last night, the Trump campaign says, reports about personnel and policies that are specific to a second Trump administration are purely speculative and theoretical, unless the second term priority is articulated by President Trump himself or is officially communicated by the campaign. It is not authorized in any way.

Here to share their reporting and insights, Seung Min Kim of the Associated Press, Leigh Ann Caldwell of The Washington Post, CNN's Eva McKend, along with CNN legal and national security analyst Carrie Cordero. Hello, everybody. Nice to see you.

Well, this is a very interesting development to me because in covering Donald Trump's campaign, and then his presidency, and then his post presidency, and then his campaign. It's not very often that they come out even in the most controversial of stories about what his policies or potential policies would be, and say, no, no, no, that's not true. And again, they didn't say it's not true here. But the pushback on what we're talking about is noteworthy, because they don't do that very often.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, right. And I will point out, particularly with the immigration details, which you just mentioned. Stephen Miller, his former White House adviser and widely seen as the architect of these draconian immigration policies, was quoted in The Times articles saying that, the President Trump will unleash the vast arsenal of federal powers to enact these immigration policies.

I think what's happening here in part is actually a classic Trump trait. He doesn't kind of like it when other people feed off him and kind of profit or benefit from him. So, I think some of it is his him and his people saying, we don't want kind of these outside groups coming in and trying to take advantage of us. I think that's part of it.


BASH: That's such a good point because there are a lot of outside groups who are writing, position papers and policy papers and you know sort of chomping at the bit for Trump to get back into office, so that they can continue to push some of these really draconian notions.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yes. I mean, it's not all that surprising some of these policies because when the former president was in office, he stressed our institutions, he telegraphed that he wanted to do a lot of this. And we know that there were essentially bureaucrats in the way, you know, now there are entities like the America First Policy Institute, filled with folks after ready to be deployed if he is to be reelected.

BASH: OK. But Carrie, let's listen to Donald Trump in his own words. And this is him talking both in November, so this month, and then earlier this fall in September.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: We will begin the largest domestic deportation operation in American history. It's poisoning the blood of our country. It's so bad and people are coming in with disease, people are coming in with every possible thing that you can have.


BASH: Poisoning the blood of our country?

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right. OK. So, first of all, let's separate out and just acknowledge the nature of that kind of language, which is xenophobic, which is in line with the types of policies that he tried to do last time with respect to the Muslim ban and keeping out just certain kinds of people because that he thinks appeals politically, and that is the type of policy that he wants to implement.

So, setting that piece aside, substantively, this is very similar to the types of things he tried to do before. And the pattern that he used was to do things through executive order. He has wide authority, when he is the executive to be able to issue orders, implement these types of policies, and then see how far back the court will push him. And so, that's what we saw during his first term, is that pattern about the courts.

BASH: What's the answer?

CORDERO: And so, in some circumstances, the courts will push back to a certain degree. And really, if we look over the past several years through the Trump administration, it really is the judiciary that was able to hold the line and protect institutions more than the executive branch really, in many circumstances was able to protect itself.

BASH: And now the judiciary has more Trump appointees. It doesn't necessarily mean that they're going to agree with him or act. We've seen on issue after issue that they haven't, but it is a difference.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. He, Donald Trump did a very good job confirming a record number of appointees to the judicial system. It's been court on down. But Donald Trump, in his first term, had people who were stopping him and pushing back. You had his chief of staff, you had Attorney General Bill Barr.

And Trump has said that he made a mistake in his first term by appointing people who did not agree with him and allow him to do whatever he wanted wholeheartedly. And so, now if he is elected, perhaps he's going to take a very different route and hire people and appoint people who won't push back and will engage and allow him to do whatever he wants to do.

BASH: And that's going to be a huge part of the conversation if he does, in fact, get the nomination and there's a general election campaign every match. Thanks, everybody. Standby, because today, President Biden is traveling to California. We heard that at the top of the hour. He's going for a high stakes meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Ahead, we have some new reporting on a potential breakthrough between those two leaders on a key issue. Stay with us.