Return to Transcripts main page

Inside Politics

28 Babies Evacuated From Al-Shifa Arrive In Egypt; Sources: Negotiators Nearing Deal For Gaza Hostages; Biden Calls For Support For Ukraine, Israel In Op-Ed; Biden's Approach To Israel Alienates Young Voters; NBC Poll: 62 Percent Disapprove Of Biden's Handling Of Israel-Hamas War; Biden Marks 81st Birthday As Aides Downplay Age Concerns; Trump Legal Team Fights Gag Order In 2020 Case; DeSantis On Trump's Age "Father Time Is Undefeated"; Elon Musk Elevates Antisemitic Conspiracy Theory . Aired 12-12:30p ET

Aired November 20, 2023 - 12:00   ET



DANA BASH, CNN HOST: Today on Inside Politics, hope for the hostages. Negotiators say they're nearing a deal to release some of the 237 people being held captive by Hamas terrorists. Plus, President Biden turns 81 today. He's keeping a pretty low key with the White House hoping to minimize concerns about his age, as he fights for reelection.

And an equal partner in everything I ever accomplished. That's how former President Jimmy Carter is remembering his wife of 77 years. Rosalynn Carter died yesterday at the age of 96. Tributes are pouring in highlighting her incredible legacy as first lady, mental health activist and humanitarian.

I'm Dana Bash. Let's go behind the headlines at Inside Politics.

We start today in the Middle East where more than two dozen newborns are now safe from war. The first group of Palestinian babies evacuated by Israeli forces from Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza arrived in Egypt this morning, dozens of ambulances help transfer the babies to where they're now receiving medical care.

It comes as Israelis are trying to show the world that they value life and also what the IDF says is proof that Hamas terrorists were running operations under the exact hospital where those babies were being targeted -- excuse me, were being treated.

And new footage that the IDF says, show Israeli hostages taken by Hamas arriving at the hospital. CNN cannot confirm the individuals in this video or their affiliation but the timestamp on it is critical, October 7, the same day of the barbaric Hamas attacks inside Israel.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is covering all of these developments out of Sderot. First, Jeremy, what can you tell us about that that footage that is coming from the hospital?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that footage that Israeli military release of that tunnel under Al-Shifa Hospital is certainly the most concrete evidence that the IDF has presented so far about its claims that there is a vast tunnel network below the Al- Shifa Hospital medical complex.

So, you can see in it what appears to be a drone going down into the tunnel along a spiral staircase. And then inside that tunnel itself, you can see over several meters, some kind of asset, whether it is a robot with a camera or perhaps an animal with the camera going down this tunnel.

You can see the kind of signature curved ceiling that is typical of Hamas tunnels in Gaza. And then it arrives at a door which the Israeli military says is a door that they have yet to open because they fear that it may be booby trap.

Now, what we haven't seen yet is the evidence that there is some kind of a massive underground command and control center of Hamas, but Israeli officials maintain that it does exist, and that eventually they will be able to provide that kind of evidence down the line.

Now meanwhile, we know the negotiations are still ongoing between Israel and Hamas mediated by Qatar, with the assistance of the United States on a deal to potentially free dozens of women and children being held hostage in the Gaza Strip. So far, a draft of a potential agreement suggests that there could be a four to five day pause in fighting in exchange for the release of at least 50 hostages.

But I can tell you from speaking with officials today that these negotiations are very much still ongoing. There has been a lot of optimism, of course in the last 48 hours. But these negotiations remain extremely complex, extremely sensitive, and could of course still unravel.

BASH: Thank you so much, Jeremy, appreciate that. And negotiators working to free dozens of Israeli hostages taken into Gaza on October 7. As Jeremy was mentioning could be close to a deal sources are telling CNN that senior Biden administration officials are speaking to officials from Israel and Hamas with Qatar mediating.

Let's bring in CNN's Arlette Saenz from the White House. Arlette, you just heard Jeremy's reporting from the region. What are you hearing from White House officials?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, optimism that the administration could be reaching a deal, extends all the way to President Biden himself. Just moments ago, he told reporters out on the south lawn that he believes they are nearing a deal to secure the release of these hostages. It comes as administration officials along with the Qatari officials that they are working with have really been working around the clock and trying to secure the release of these hostages.


Now as Jeremy noted, there is that draft proposal that has proposed potential four to five day pause in fighting in order to secure the release of about 50 hostages. That's according to sources familiar with the talks, but there are still a number of details that need to be fine-tuned. For instance, while Israel has publicly been calling for the release of all hostages, there is a source who has said that Israel has presented a list of about 100 hostages that they want to see freed.

So far, Hamas has simply teetered around that 50 number in these talks. But there are a host of other issues, including questions about how to implement this deal if one is struck. There is concern about the humanitarian aid that would be going into Gaza. How many trucks of aids that would include, how they would inspect these trucks, and how they could ensure that that aid is also going to civilians instead of Hamas fighters.

But you have heard the administration in recent days have this uptick in this cautious optimism, while noting that there are still a number of ways that this detail could potentially not come together. There have been fits and starts throughout the negotiation process. And President Biden has publicly been calling for these pauses for humanitarian aid, as well as trying to get hostages out.

But so far, he has resisted calls for a ceasefire, something that he again resisted over the weekend in a Washington post op-ed, where he said a ceasefire is not the way to peace that would simply allow Hamas to give them time to restock and replenish their capacities to continue waging this fight. But the president also uses that op-ed to try to make the case not just for support for Israel, but also for Ukraine, as Russia continues their campaign in that country.

He wrote in that op-ed saying, "both Putin and Hamas hope to collapse broader regional stability and integration and take advantage of the ensuing disorder. America cannot and will not let that happen. For our own national security interests and for the good of the entire world."

So, President Biden there trying to speak about the need for American involvement, American support for both Israel and Ukraine. But of course, right now, top of mind for officials here at the White House is trying to secure the release of those hostages. And there has been some optimism that that could soon happen.

BASH: No. Well, let's keep crossing all of our fingers and toes about that. Thank you so much. Arlette, appreciate it. Let's bring in our panel of great reporters, Seung Min Kim of the Associated Press, CNN's Alayna Treene and The Washington Post's Leigh Ann Caldwell. How are you? Nice to see you all.

Let's start with what we saw come out over the weekend. There was a new poll. And it just kind of reinforces a lot of what we have been talking about with regard to President Biden and the political sort of conundrum that he's in. Is that a TV word? It is now that he's in with regard to his own party and how he's approaching the Israel-Hamas war. He has been pretty steadfast, really steadfast in his support for Israel's right to defend itself, but to have some caution.

Let's look at how Democratic voters see that, approve 51 percent, disapprove 41 percent. So, he still has the majority of support, but it's considering that his fellow Democrats, it's not as high as maybe he would like. Let's look at the young voters now. This is what is the most stark. The question about young voters on Biden's handling at the war between Israel and Hamas. Approve 20 percent, disapprove 70 percent. young voters as we've talked about a lot on the show. They're a very important part of his coalition for reelection.

SEUNG MIN KIM, WHITE HOUSE REPORTER, ASSOCIATED PRESS: Certainly, and that's why it's certainly the -- his handling of the war -- the Israel-Hamas war that's led to an overall decline and his disapproval rating among young voters. If you look at the general approval rating of President Biden, people 18 to 34, in September 46 percent approval rate among those voters provided, now 31 percent. That's a pretty significant drop in a demographic in just a couple of months. And certainly, it's attributed to his handling of the war.

The thing about Joe Biden is his staunch supporter of Israel is not something that's going to change. It is really ingrained in his political personality, his broader experiences in foreign policy. He talks a lot about his time meeting Golda Meir, the first female Israeli prime minister.

So, but you see -- so that's not going to change. But you see how the White House and the president himself is really trying to emphasize the other parts of their policy towards the war in terms of emphasizing the humanitarian issues at play and the careful diplomacy that they're doing. But this is a really tricky issue for the president right now.

BASH: And the fact that in that op-ed, which is really interesting that -- first of all, that the president of the United States writes an op-ed. But that in there he talked, Leigh Ann, about the extremists in the West Bank, Israelis in the West Bank and threatened to punish them diplomatically if they continue to do that.


So, if there is no question that this is something that the president politically is thinking about. Nevermind that he -- I'm sure fundamentally believes in everything that you just said and everything that he said in that op-ed.

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. It's really fascinating because the president has been pushed from the left on the issue of Israel and Gaza, and his opening to address the violence in the West Bank among the settlers acknowledges that as you mentioned. Getting back to well -- let me say one thing on that first, and also -- you're also seeing from the left members of Congress who are asking for conditions to be placed on aid for Israel. They're going to address that when they returned from the Thanksgiving break.

And then looking more broadly at young voters specifically because it's so fascinating. Biden won young voters with 59 percent of the vote in 2020 against Donald Trump. These are the first numbers that we've gotten since the dissatisfaction over the Israel-Gaza war.

But also, when you talk to young voters is much broader. It's about student loans. It's about entering an economy that where inflation was high, and they just are feeling extremely nervous about their own situation.

BASH: Well, let's dig deeper on that. Because in this new poll, there was a matchup question between Joe Biden and Donald Trump because one of the questions has been, OK, so young voter who has voted for Joe Biden before is not really enthused about him now.

The question is, is that voter going to stay home? Or is that voter going to go out and vote for the Republican, no matter who it is? So, let's this hypothetical matchup between Donald Trump and Joe Biden among young voters. Look at this, I mean, it's incredibly close, it is within the margin of error. Now, we don't know in this subset what exactly the margin of error is. We haven't gotten it from NBC yet, but it's close we know that.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: No, exactly. I think it's really interesting to see the erosion, as you mentioned Leigh Ann among his own party. And I do think that this is something -- I know that just from covering Donald Trump's campaign that they're very much thinking about and they're celebrating these poll numbers from NBC.

And look, I do think just in the broader context of his handling of foreign policy and Biden's handling of the Israel-Hamas war. The fact that so many Democrats are divided is a really problematic thing from of course, were -- you know, about a year out from the election. Just a little under that, there's a lot that can change from now and then.

But I do think that when -- even looking at Congress, the division in Congress of Democrats, it's something that's going to be difficult for him to deal with, even with his support -- you know, being his support, you know, for Israel being very consistent.

BASH: Very consistent. One of the things that the president cannot change is the fact that he is 81 years old. Happy birthday Mr. President. And this is obviously feed's writing to the conversation that we're having, particularly among young voters.

And this is an issue where the president is still trying to figure out how to address it. And when we have historical examples of people who were old for their time, Ronald Reagan, among them sort of using humor. So, he tries to do that. Let's listen to some examples.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: I've never been more optimistic about America's future than me today. And I know I only look like I'm 30, but I've been around a long time. It's OK. Want to press? No, that wasn't me.


BASH: I mean, the last part kind of landed?

KIM: Yes. I mean, it works for what he's trying to do because you're right, you can't magically become younger. President Biden at 81 today. He will continue to be older. And that is going to be -- continued to be an issue going forward for the Biden campaign. And what -- going back to young voters, I had talked to voters in the past who had participated in the AP poll, just kind of their perceptions about President Biden.

And what you hear oftentimes when you talk to young voters is not only just kind of dissatisfaction of what hasn't been done, like the student loans issue that Leigh Ann mentioned. But there's an understanding that he doesn't really understand their problems just because he's of a different generation and I don't know how Biden raises that issue.

BASH: Yes. And he talks a lot about how he connects with his grandkids. So maybe we'll see, I'm leaning into that a little bit more as well. Soon a D.C. appeals court will determine whether the former President Donald Trump will have to stay quiet in his election subversion case. We're going to go live to the courthouse next. And later remembering Rosalynn Carter.

Our former CNN colleague Judy Woodruff has covered the Carters for decades and she's going to be here to talk about Mrs. Carter's legacy.



BASH: Today Donald Trump's legal team made the argument that a gag order in the federal election subversion case violates his First Amendment rights. Trump's lawyers are asking an appeals court panel to lift an order that would prevent him from publicly criticizing witnesses and prosecutors.

CNN's Evan Perez is following this for us outside the courthouse. Evan, what do we hear so far?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Dana, the hearing just wrapped up. And really the Trump team faced a lot of skepticism from this three judge panel on the idea that just because he's running for office, he's a presidential candidate that he should face no restrictions in what the things -- in the sort of thing that he's able to say on the campaign trail, of course, on his social media platforms and he got a lot of pushback.


John Sauer the lawyer for the former president. He got a lot of push back from the judges in particular, from Patricia Millett, one of the judges who heard this case. Here is how her pushback on his arguments.


PATRICIA MILLETT, CIRCUIT JUDGE (voiceover): "First of all, we're not shutting down everyone who speaks. We're only -- this is only effect -- no one is shutting down and everyone's -- this is only affecting the speech temporarily during a criminal trial process by someone who has been indicted as a felon. So that's a different category first. So, no one here is threatening the First Amendment broadly."


PEREZ: And Dana, it's clear. Obviously, you know, this is a court that does restrictions on people's speech before trial all the time. A lot of defendants' face restrictions on what they say of course, we've never had a defendant quite like Donald Trump, who's running for office, who's leading in the polls.

I will say though, the judges also had some trouble with the prosecution. And the way they tried -- they're trying to interpret these restrictions, the broadness of this order from the judge. The judge, especially -- again, Judge Millett had some concerns about how broadly you can apply this to the former president, given the fact that he is running for office. Dana?

BASH: So many unprecedented questions that are now setting precedent for the future, which now we'll see if we ever need those precedents in the future. Evan, thank you so much. Appreciate it. I want to bring the panel back here. Alayna, you cover the former president on the campaign trail. What are you hearing from team Trump about this?

TREENE: Well, look, I mean, I don't think this strategy is surprising at all. I mean, we've seen them push back heavily in New York City, several fraud trial with the gag order there. This is their strategy. They very much think that it is Donald Trump's right to be able to speak about his cases. And part of that is, they want this entire legal strategy to also be a political strategy.

And they do not want to fight these legal battles in the court of law or just a court of law, but in the court of public opinion. And by blocking some of his ability or limiting his speech because of this case, prevents him from doing that.

BASH: So, we have all of these cases and various sort of tangents of these cases. This is one example going on that the former president has been able to use as a big plus in his primary fight. You still have opponents trying to chip away, figuring out how to -- try to chip away at his lead. One of them is Ron DeSantis who was on with Jake yesterday on State of the Union.

Let's take a look at the way he tried to swing at him.


GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL): I've said publicly the presidency is not a job for an 80-year-old that Donald Trump would actually be older on January 20, 2025, than Biden was on January 20, 2021. But I think it's part of a larger issue that this is not the same guy as the Trump in 2015 and '16, that Trump would show up on the debate stage. He barnstorm -- even if somehow I'm wrong about the election, maybe Trump could squeak in. Being a lame duck president on day one, you're not going to be able to turn this country around.


BASH: Father time is undefeated is not a bad line. KIM: And I also love -- he's like, actually he will be older than Biden was that old guy in the Oval Office right now. And you're right, it is them trying to find any sort of which way to puncture Trump when he is standing so politically strong. It's obviously a tactic that actually the Biden campaign has taken in recent weeks with the former president, noting his mix up of where he is and the leaders of which countries and whatnot.

At the end of the day, I think I keep coming to this over and over -- you know, no one who has had a primary lead this large has blown it to be could not become the nominee. And I think few of us think that he is not going to become the Republican nominee at this point. But it is really interesting to see how his challengers in the primary are figuring out how to maneuver around and try to get at his vulnerabilities without offending the man himself without offending -- especially offending as voters.

BASH: I want to turn now to dangerous phenomenon that continues to grow in the United States and around the world, raging antisemitism, Jew hate, seemingly from both extremes of the political spectrum. It is increasing on Saturday, for example, a neo-Nazi demonstration in Madison, Wisconsin marched down the iconic state street with people waving Nazi flags.

And according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel chanting, "there will be blood." And on Friday, pro-Palestinian protesters at the University of Michigan occupied an administrative building, several of them were arrested. And at Harvard University people gathered to chant globalize the intifada, call for a global uprising against Israel and Jews.

And then there is Elon Musk, the owner of X formerly known as Twitter. He responded to a post last week that said Jewish communities push "dialectical hatred against whites." He replied, "you have said the actual truth."


I want to bring on our panel now because this is something that we are not going to stop talking about and it has been fascinating to see how people in public office, particularly candidates for president are reacting or not reacting.

We're talking about Ron DeSantis. He again was on with Jake on state of the union yesterday. He was very eager to criticize the hard left, which is a big part of the problem when it comes to Jewish hate, particularly at universities. But when it came to Elon Musk and what I just talked about, here is that exchange.


DESANTIS: Elon has had a target on his back ever since he purchased Twitter, because I think he's taking it into direction that a lot of people who are used to controlling the narrative don't like. I have no idea what the context is. I know Elon Musk. I've never seen him do anything. I think he's a guy that believes in America. I've never seen him indulge in any of that. So, it's surprising if that's true, but I have not seen it.


CALDWELL: It's hard to even comment on that. We all know what Elon Musk said last week on his social media platform. Going back, we have to remember that Elon Musk interviewed Ron DeSantis, when he launched his campaign on Twitter. So, they obviously do have a very good relationship.

But there is a far-left and a far-right problem on this. When Donald Trump was in office, there was antisemitic tropes that he would -- he would espouse as well. It seems like the gates have been opened very little before the war and now they have just completely flooded and it's seeping into our politics.

BASH: Elon Musk has 163 million followers on his platform. 163 million followers. If they were looking at his feed, saw that. Now, I will say that he subsequently put something out after he was -- he's in deep, you know, what because advertisers are pulling back for other reasons.

But he said something about from the river to the sea, which is an antisemitic chant, full stop, that when he sees that or when that is up there, it will be policed but he left this up there. And I'm not sure why it's hard for politicians to condemn that.

TREENE: You know, it's so interesting to watch. You talked about his 163 million followers. A lot of them gained since he took over Twitter and a lot of them -- Republicans. Republicans have completely embraced Elon Musk. You've seen him come to the Hill and go to Republican retreats, like with former Speaker Kevin McCarthy and they've really embraced him.

And I think a lot of people are afraid of alienating that part of the voter base -- of the Republican voter base that is very stringently for Elon Musk and a lot of the disgusting things that he's been saying on Twitter. And I think that's part of why you see Ron DeSantis not wanting to go after him. It's the same reason they are careful when Donald Trump says really inflammatory things because they don't want to blow that up politically. And I think that's continuing to play out in the public view on Twitter.

BASH: Well, I think that's very astute. We'll just leave it there. Up next. It's that time of year again. Millions of Americans are traveling for Thanksgiving. And we're going to talk to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg on what to expect ahead of the holiday. Stay with us.