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Inside Politics

Biden Heads To California For Summit With Xi Jinping; Antisemitic Incidents Spike As Israel-Hamas War Rages; Thousands Gather In D.C. To March In Support Of Israel; NYC Mayor Says He Is "Fully Cooperating" With FBI Probe. Aired 12:30-1p ET

Aired November 14, 2023 - 12:30   ET




DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Welcome back to Inside Politics. Just a few moments ago, President Biden left the White House to head to California where he'll meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. The trip comes at a key time for both world leaders hoping to repair a very frayed relationship between China and the U.S. The U.S. is hoping to at least come away with an agreement to crack down on the export of chemicals used to make fentanyl.

I want to bring back my panel to discuss this. And Eva, I just want people to look at something that may be surprising to some, maybe not to others, the latest CNN poll about who's the best or most effective world leader versus Trump versus Bush -- excuse me, Trump versus Biden. I was just talking about Bush in the break. Look at that, Trump does pretty well compared to Joe Biden.

EVA MCKEND, CNN NATIONAL POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: He does according to that data point. This is a very tricky area for the President because he has to appear tough, I think, to appease some of the Republican criticism, but at the same time not exacerbate tensions with China. He already has enough on his plate when it comes to international issues, whether it's Ukraine or Israel.

But the tough talk from Republicans on China is extreme like just go out on the campaign trail. It wasn't long ago when Senator Scott who has now dropped out suggested at an event that Chinese students studying here should receive an extra layer of surveillance because they could be reporting back to the government.

So that is what President Biden is up against and trying to combat what Republicans are sort of putting him in this corner on this issue.


BASH: Yes, that's such a good point. I had Bush on my brain because we were talking during the break about when I covered the 43rd President George W. Bush. And I remember when he would meet with Chinese leaders, there was an effort to kind of show them how it's done with the press and sort of show what free democracy and free press is. This is something that David's saying, our friend over the New York Times reported about what's going to happen with this trip. He said, "When President Biden meets with President Xi Jinping on Wednesday, China's diplomats want to know what Mr. Xi will be looking at, and to make sure the scenery does not include protesters.

Nearly every minute they spend together, from the number of steps it will take Mr. Xi to reach a chair when he enters the room to the specific timing of their handshake, will be part of a highly choreographed diplomatic dance, one designed to give them the space to try to defuse a year of bubbling tensions." That last part of that last sentence is key, Carrie.

CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL & NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, you see here the tensions between someone a leader who's coming from an authoritarian country where he can dictate the way every single thing occurs, versus what happens in a somewhat messy democracy from time to time.

And so the idea of having protesters behind there would -- behind them would be something that would, you know, never happen in China. And so, to the extent as David's reporting seems to be inferring that the administration is going to try to accommodate in some ways, maybe different than when you were covering a prior administration, they are going to try to make this a productive conversation.

And the goal is not to get hung up on details that might make it harder, but instead try to really make it a productive conversation, because the environment has been so tense.

SEUNG MIN KIM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And that story from David is really interesting. I covered President Biden's last meeting with President Xi in Bali and everything really is like this perfect little dance, like every step has a purpose. You have President Biden coming from this store at this time, and then President Xi coming out, there's the handshake.

We -- I -- all of this is very intentional for a very specific reason. So it'll be really interesting to see how all that transpires tomorrow. And I want to go back to Eva's point about just kind of the tough on tone that we've been hearing from the broader Republican Party, not just on the campaign trail but on Capitol Hill.

There is one exception to that, and that is the former president. I mean, he was out there praising Xi Jinping. This is something that he has done throughout his first term in office. And he does take a different tone then what primary voters are asking for.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: About the meeting specifically tomorrow, what's really interesting is all the reporting has said that they are really trying to lower expectations despite in White House on what's going to come out of it. Because really the goal is actually to ensure that there is no escalation of tensions which has been extremely high. And so non- escalation rather than actually accomplishing something or two very different things. BASH: Although the national security adviser did say that want to just do something basic, like restore communication between militaries --


BASH: -- which is a huge, huge --


BASH: -- deal. Guys, thank you so much.

And as we mentioned earlier in the program, right now, tens of thousands are gathered on the National Mall to march in support for Israel.

Coming up next, I'll speak to Israel's Special Envoy for antisemitism about the fight against hate across the world, including here in the United States.



BASH: Since the Hamas brutal terrorist attack on October 7, antisemitic incidents and rhetoric have exploded worldwide. From Vienna, Austria where a Jewish section of a cemetery was set on fire and desecrated with swastikas to a Jewish school in Montreal that was hit by gunfire twice in one week.

What may have started as criticism of the Israeli government's policies has turned into blatant antisemitic acts that have Jews, around the world, very afraid. Right now, thousands are here in Washington marching in support of Israel and against antisemitism.

Joining me now is Michal Cotler-Wunsh, Israel's Special Envoy for antisemitism. Thank you so much for being here. You know, it's definitely a march in support of Israel, but this is a show called Inside Politics, so let's just be sort of blunt about it.

Part of the challenge for the Biden administration is the very big divide and the growing divide inside his own party and how to handle Israel. And a lot of the undercurrent there, sorry, the undercard, it's out in the open is antisemitism. And how much of that is playing into what we're seeing on the mall.

MICHAL COTLER-WUNSH, ISRAEL'S SPECIAL ENVOY FOR ANTISEMITISM: So I want to be really clear, 10/7 has nothing to do with politics. It has nothing to do with land. It has nothing to do with a dispute with the Palestinians. 10/7 was a day of reminder for all of us for what it was that the atrocities of the Holocaust held. Burning, mutilating, raping, abducting thousands of civilians. That's what happened on 10/7, like 9/11.

This is not about politics. What we see at that rally today is not only about Israel and the imperative to enable a democratic country like the United States after 9/11 to defend its civilians. [12:45:08]

It's not only about Jews around the world that are now being attacked, as you've just shown, it's actually about the foundational principles of life, and of liberty. Anybody that cannot condemn 10/7 unequivocally does not understand that it is a war that was waged not just on Israel, not just on Jews, but actually on our shared civilization, on our shared humanity.

The atrocities of that day, that magnitude of the atrocities can't be overlooked and can't be forgotten.

BASH: No question, and they should not be forgotten. And you're right. I mean, we should all remember that from the river to the sea is in Hamas charter. And what they mean is, among other things, to eradicate, not just Israel but Jews. And that is a really important thing.

The problem is that, let's just talk about what's happened here in the United States. That is not understood, a. And, b, because of that, there is, I mean, you're seeing the pressure, the political pressure on President Biden, who I know, most people in Israel are so thankful for, for his support.

And so, how do you kind of square that when you look at the fundamental fear that Jews do have around the world and your mission to address that?

COTLER-WUNSH: So what's really important and the reason that I'm on this third emergency trip to North America, is what's really important is to understand that the very same antisemitism that fueled the atrocities of 10/7 that we just spoke of, is the same antisemitism that fuels the responses to 10/7 that deny, that justify, that support, that then in their wake attack Jews around the world.

And when I say that very same antisemitism, we have to be very clear. As an ancient hatred, the current mutated, modern mainstream strain of antisemitism, that of anti-Zionism, or the denial of Israel's right to exist in any borders. And you just said it, right, from the river to the sea, for anybody who looks at the map is the entire thing.

That's a call to annihilate the State of Israel and murder its Jews. That is not what's known as a two-state solution. And the importance of understanding that right now is part of the urgency that I think that all democracies have to understand, including the United States that has seen on campuses across this country, in demonstrations on streets, and let us not forget Paul Kessler, who was murdered in a demonstration holding an Israeli flag in L.A.

This is a critical moment for all democracies, and we have to speak up and speak out against the various places in which this war has been raging for decades that turns Zionism into racism, excuse me. And Israel into an apartheid state and worse, in the most Wellington (ph) version, Israel into the perpetrator of Holocaust and genocide. When on 10/7 the makings of a genocide were perpetrated against Israelis. BASH: Speak up, speak out. Silences is not an option. Silence is complicity. And that is such an important message that I've learned in setting this and I'm so glad that you came on to do this. I know you've got to go over to the march to give a speech but thank you for coming on.

COTLER-WUNSH: Thank you, Dana. And just to remind everybody that never again is right now.

BASH: Thank you. Appreciate you.

Moments ago, in New York City, Mayor Eric Adams addressed allegations that his campaign misused funds linked to possible favors and foreign influence. What he had to say, next.



BASH: Moments ago, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said that he is fully cooperating as the FBI investigates whether his office misused campaign money and possible foreign influence.


MAYOR ERIC ADAMS (D), NEW YORK: This is an ongoing review. And as a former member of law enforcement, it is always my view -- is always my belief, don't interfere with ongoing review and don't try to do these reviews, you know, to depress.

You know, we are fully cooperating with whatever the reviewers are looking for. We are fully cooperating with it and my role is to allow them to do their job without interference. And I have to do my job of continuing to make sure this city navigate the various issues that we are facing.


BASH: CNN's Gloria Pazmino has been following this and joins us live outside of City Hall. Gloria, what's the latest?

GLORIA PAZMINO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, it was actually quite surprising just to see how many times the mayor avoided answering any questions today. And in many ways, we are learning more about how this is unfolding. By the way, he responded to the press today.

He was asked over and over today about the investigation and the city's chief counsel multiple times stepping in to answer on his behalf. There were two key questions that the mayor did not answer today. And that is whether he has been interviewed as part of this investigation and whether or not anyone else in his administration has been interviewed.

He also would not say if anyone else's electronic devices have been seized by the FBI. We know the mayor's electronic devices were seized as part of this investigation last week.


Dana, there was one thing that the mayor did say today, and he acknowledged that he had reached out to the Fire Commissioner back in September of 2021. At this point, he wasn't mayor yet, but he was the Democratic nominee and might as well have been the mayor.

He admitted that he had reached out to the commissioner to get him to help and fast track a fire safety certificate for the Turkish consulate. But he said that that is just routine, what officials do and are expected to do.

So like I said, the way he didn't answer questions is quite telling, telling my colleague Mark Morales at one point, that we were getting ahead of ourselves by asking if he would resign, should he be charged with any crime. And certainly just again, repeating that he is trying to avoid interfering in the investigation.

BASH: So interesting. Thank you so much for that reporting, Gloria. Appreciate it.

And thank you so much for joining Inside Politics. CNN News Central starts after the break.