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Experts Warn of Covid Spikes; Harris Struggles with Biden Relationship; Virtual Summit for Biden and Xi; Gordon Chang is Interviewed about the China Talks; Nora Princiotti is Interviewed about Adele's Interview. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired November 15, 2021 - 06:30   ET




BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN ANCHOR: Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations are starting to tick up across the country. And health experts are warning of a possible winter spike.

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen joining us with more.

OK, look, Elizabeth, we were hoping this was over, but now we are facing the prospect of another surge here.

ELIZABETH COHEN, CNN SENIOR MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that we're seeing really, Brianna, is numbers going up and down. Right now we are in the up stage. We're hoping that they go down. But, unfortunately, it doesn't look great because of the time of year that we're in. It's starting to get colder. People are spending more time indoors. The holidays are coming up. People will travel and gather together.

Let's take a look at what the country looks like right now.

So when you look at this map of the United States, what we want to see is a lot of green. We want to see all green. Green means the numbers are going down. Yellow means they're stable. Red means they're going up. Dark red means they're going up pretty steeply. So you see that in Nebraska and Indiana and Pennsylvania.

But in red, Brianna, that's 22 states in red. Twenty-two states where the rates are going up. So measures need to be put in place. Everyone's exhausted. Are people going to be good about masking? Are they going to be good about social distancing? Are unvaccinated people finally going to get vaccinated? That's what's going to have to happen in order to see a change in this map given, as I said, that we're going into colder weather and into the holidays.


KEILAR: Yes, come on, let's get those calming tones of green and yellow on that map. That's what we want to see.

COHEN: Right. Right.

KEILAR: Elizabeth Cohen, thank you so much for that report.

COHEN: Thanks.

KEILAR: It's a critical moment for U.S.-China relations. Why our next guest says President Biden should cancel tonight's virtual summit with President Xi.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Plus, just in, a new book reveals that Mitch McConnell planned to disinvite Donald Trump from the Biden inauguration.

And new reporting on why the White House is exasperated by Vice President Kamala Harris and what they see as mistakes.



KEILAR: We have some brand new CNN reporting about growing frustrations between aides for President Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris. Administration officials blame Harris' challenges on her staff's disfunction and lack of focus. As for Harris' team, one former high-level aide says, quote, they're consistently, meaning the White House, sending her out there on losing issues, in the wrong situations for her skill set.

CNN's Jasmine Wright and Edward Isaac Dovere are joining me now with more on this phenomenal reporting that you all have done. You're really pulling back the curtain.

And I have to say, as far as the White House must see this, it's not pretty.

And we just mentioned one source of yours, but you have folks on the record, for instance, the lieutenant general of California, Eleni Kounalakis, who says this, quote, she's very honored and very proud, meaning Kamala Harris, to be vice president of the United States, but going on to say, it is natural that those of us who know her know how much more helpful she can be than she is currently being asked to be. That's where the frustration is coming from. That's a big public admission.

EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: It is. And it speaks to this frustration among people who sincerely care about Kamala Harris and want her to do well and want her to have a bright political future, looking at this first year in office and saying, why isn't there more being done to prepare her and position her well in people's minds? You see the way that she has been suffering in the public perception and in polls, too.

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: And I think one thing is that it's no D.C. secret that there is often tension between the VP's office and the president's office. But there are two distinct things in this case. First, it is the president's age. By 2024 he will be in his early 80s. And though he has said both publicly and privately that he is intending to run, if that is not the case, that sets up the vice president as the heir-apparent of the Democratic nomination. Meaning that she has a political future that folks in her camp feel like the White House is responsible for uplifting her.

And then, of course, it is her race and her gender. She is the first woman, first black woman, first south Asian woman to hold this title. That is huge. And a lot of things come with that, including the implicit and, frankly, sometimes overt racism and sexism that is shaping every part of her job, which means that there needs to be a playbook for the White House, a lot of these folks are saying to us, that they are attacking both of those issues and really setting her up to be a potential candidate in the future if that time does come.


KEILAR: OK, let's talk about where the beef is here, right, from both sides of the White House. She's not being used, right? That seems to be what the folks in her corner are saying. And then the folks from the West Wing, in your story, seem to be saying her people aren't focused, there's no follow through.

What do you think about their -- about what their gripes are here?

WRIGHT: Well, I think a lot of times when you see the vice president, you see her acting as a dutiful number two. It's something that sources told us from the beginning of her administration. Even the transition that they -- that she was modeling her vice presidency after then then Vice President Biden's relationship with Obama, being the number two. We saw her often at the side of the president in these meetings and at these speeches really standing behind after introducing him.

That playbook has kind of changed. We've seen her kind of shrink from the public eye. And I think that that is one of the problems that a lot of folks in her camp are having is that she is not being visible after having a couple different stumbles, signaling that she is not supported by this White House. And on the other side, we have the West Wing.

KEILAR: And as you explore, those models might not be the best because she's in a unique situation of having less experience than the president coming in, which is not what we've seen with the last three presidents, right?

DOVERE: And, in fact, going back to Walter Mondale, basically, she's the first vice president of the modern area to come to Washington -- to the job with less Washington experience than the president. Usually the vice president has been the one who has sort of stabilized the president, been there as the ballast, with Mike Pence, with Joe Biden, with Dick Cheney, and you go back through it.

And she has been struggling to find her footing on the job, find where her place is. But, also, to work her way through all the different aspects of the Washington situation. Even negotiating with Congress. Look, we -- are just today going to get the bill signing for the infrastructure bill. All these negotiations. There was a feeling that she was not as involved as some might have expected her to be. But, of course, she doesn't have the decades, literally, of relationships that Joe Biden was calling on when he was doing those negotiations.

KEILAR: What is the White House saying about all of this?

DOVERE: Look, as one would expect, the White House reaction is to say, this is all crazy. There's nothing going on.

But what we are drawing on here is a lot of behind the scenes, insider talk of where things are. And it's gotten to a point where some people in the White House, certainly not all of them, have -- they've thrown up their hands in frustration of what they see as a lack of followthrough and continual staff dysfunction in the vice president's office.

KEILAR: What's the solution as they see it moving forward?

WRIGHT: Well, we have one quote from Donna Brazile, who is an outside adviser to Harris, and who really pushed for her to be on the ticket, and she says she needs to be let out. Let her out. They want to see Harris in environments that she thrives, right? We saw on the primary campaign, and even in the presidential campaign, we saw her being -- feeling -- being in situations where she felt comfortable, where she was able to kind of riff (ph) and be in a moment where she was connecting to people, face-to-face with people. They want to see her out on the trail touting voting rights issues in the states that are having problems. They want to see her taking that infrastructure plan and the BBB, Build Back Better plan, out into the country, really touting the successful things that this administration is doing in a lot more effort, a lot more times they want to see her out in the world. That's one of the solutions that have kind of been identified to us.

KEILAR: Well, it is bombshell reporting, you guys. Thank you so much.

DOVERE: Thank you.

KEILAR: Jasmine Wright, Edward-Isaac Dovere, appreciate it.

BERMAN: New concerns this morning about the health of Queen Elizabeth after she canceled another public appearance.

KEILAR: And an airline employee hospitalized after a passenger hit here. We'll have details on the latest incident of violence ahead.



KEILAR: It is highly anticipated and the stakes are also high. The virtual meeting between President Biden and Chinese President Xi is all set to take place this evening about the pandemic, security, trade and human rights as well. This is the first one since Biden became president.

So let's bring in David Culver, who is live for us in Beijing.

Both sides, David, say they want to lower the temperature here. DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And I think, Brianna, if this ends

with both sides saying, hey, let's keep in touch, that's success, because both sides really pushing back against any sort of major agreements that they're going to come to out of this. The really essence of it all is going to be continuing dialogue, making sure that they can avoid both intended and unintended conflict.

And you mentioned lowering the temperature, because we've been at a boiling point between these two nations, the world's two largest economies, going back and forth, going back to the Trump administration. Really, the relations are at an all-time low. They have spiraled down.

So, what are they going to talk about in what we anticipate to be several hours of a virtual back and forth? Well, I'll show you some of the points of contention. And there are a lot of them. First is going to be Taiwan, as well human rights, trade, technology, and threats to the international order. That, of course, is how the U.S. sees China acting.

Now, there are some points of agreement, perhaps. Maybe collaboration even. That would be climate change and health security.

The timing of this virtual back and forth, which, as you mentioned, is a first for the Biden presidency. They've met many times in person before he was President Biden.


But the timing is important because it comes for President Xi at a pivotal moment. Last week he was elevated to a huge position with a resolution here that essentially made him undisputed supreme ruler, opening the way for him to enter into a third term, puts him at the level of Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping, paramount leaders here. And so he's going into this against a President Biden who is really facing a lot of challenges back where you are in Washington. And so it's a lot of competence that President Xi is carrying on with this. And he's got a lot of nationalism backing him here.

Overall, though, if they're able to establish some guardrails, and that's how a senior administration official describes this talk, if they're able to come out with these guardrails, really create a sense of communication so that if there are any issues that might arise in the near future, and we know there are a lot that could, then they can perhaps mitigate those incidents before they happen and really just keep the line open.


KEILAR: All right, we'll see if they can do that.

David Culver from Beijing, thanks.

BERMAN: Joining us now, Gordon Chang, columnist at "Newsweek" and author of "The Coming Collapse of China."

Gordon, you think that the United States should cancel this all together, this virtual meeting today. Why?

GORDON CHANG, COLUMNIST, "THE DAILY BEAST": There are times to talk to China, but now is not one of them. There is nothing that Biden will ask that Xi Jinping will deliver. And there's nothing that Xi Jinping will ask that Biden should deliver.

You know, if after five decades of intensive diplomacy we're asking the Chinese not to kill Americans with fentanyl and coronavirus, if we're, you know, if we're asking them not to steal our intellectual property, not to foment violence on our streets, then something is really wrong with our general approach to China.

So, I believe that now is the point not to talk to the Chinese and basically to impose those costs to give them incentive in the future to talk to us in good faith

BERMAN: Why is it, do you think, that merely talking tonight is a victory for China?

CHANG: Well, because it, first of all, it bolsters Xi Jinping's interest. It's a time where he wants to talk. As David Culver just said, he's coming off of the six plenum (ph) that gave him a lot of wind at his back. And President Biden, right now, does have those challenges.

So you want to talk to the Chinese when they have an incentive to talk to you, not when they think that they can push you around. And Xi Jinping right now is very arrogant, very belligerent and indeed he's got a lot of reasons to think that he can do what he wants.

BERMAN: And you see China right now as a malevolent actor, not just directly against the United States and places that we see in the Pacific, but what's going on in Europe right now, on the board between Belarus and Poland. Why?

CHANG: Well, Russia and China coordinate their foreign policies. They've been doing that for a long time. And you have deterrents failing in east Asia and now you have Russia taking on a NATO member, Poland, which means deterrence is breaking down in Europe as well. So you could have conflicts at both ends of the Eurasian land mass, especially as Putin and Xi Jinping talk to each other. This is, I think, should be Biden's number one challenge is to deter both Russia and China because this could end up very ugly.

BERMAN: No small challenge. And I'll be very interested to see what language we get out of the meeting, the virtual meeting tonight.

Gordon --

CHANG: The Zoom call.

BERMAN: The Zoom call. I know.

CHANG: IT's the Zoom call.

BERMAN: In and of itself, the stakes of having it be a Zoom call reduce, I think, the stakes quite a bit because, look, you can Zoom anybody.


BERMAN: All right. Nice to see you.

CHANG: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: All right, Trump ally Steve Bannon set to surrender himself to authorities after stonewalling the January 6th investigation. We're live at the courthouse.

BERMAN: And why Adele told Oprah that she's divorcing herself. The revealing new interview is next.




ADELE (singing): How can one become so bounded by choices that somebody else makes? How can we both become a version of a person we don't even like? We're in love with the world, but the world just wants to bring us down by putting ideas in our heads that corrupt our hearts somehow.


KEILAR: All right, who didn't need that this morning, right? A first glimpse there at one of the most hotly anticipated albums of 2021, or maybe the decade.

Last night Adele held a special concert in Los Angeles to debut some new songs from her upcoming album "30," and she shared an exclusive look at the thought process also that made all of this come together in a corresponding interview with Oprah, it was really amazing here.

So let's talk about this now with music critic and the co-host of The Ringers podcast, "Every Single Album with Nora Princiotti."

Nora, this was amazing. Just hearing the songs and also what she said about the making of this album. What stood out the most to you?

NORA PRINCIOTTI, CO-HOST, "THE RINGER'S" "EVERY SINGLE ALBUM" PODCAST: Well, this is what Adele does, right? She gets up on stage and captivate us with her voice. But we're now seeing her merge that talent and the art of it with elements from her personal life, right?

So she gets up there and tells us a little bit about what she's been going through and that she's been putting it into song. And there's a real impact there, right? There's a proposal on stage that, to me, it hits so much heavier when we know that, you know, Adele has been through a divorce and she's been thinking really seriously about the relationships in her life and putting that into this new album that we're going to get this week.

BERMAN: Let's listen to a little bit more of what she says about how important families, whole families in her mind, were to her.


OPRAH WINFREY: So this whole album is dedicated to him.

ADELE, SINGER/SONGWRITER: Yes. Yes. And the whole album is not about him. It's about me. And I just wanted for him to hear me talking madly deeply about who I am and how I feel. Like, you know, and I don't know if I'd ever be able to have that conversation with him in real life. So, therefore, he can go and listen to it.


BERMAN: She's talking about her son there and saying that this is now -- about divorce, right, where she says in a way she's divorcing for herself but she wants to explain all of this to her son.

PRINCIOTTI: Who was in the audience last night. And there's a song on the new album, we didn't hear it last night, but there's a song that even has voice notes of difficult questions that he asked her when they were going through that, about, you know, her relationship with his father and she didn't feel like she could really explain it to him. And that was the genesis of the entire album, basically.

KEILAR: I want to also listen to something that she said when Oprah was asking about this being the divorce album because, you know, we haven't heard from Adele, I think very personally in an interview like this, or obviously musically, since she was divorced. And this is what she said when Oprah asked her about that.


ADELE: I've been obsessed with a nuclear family my whole life because I never came from one. I just, from a very young age, just, you know, promised myself that when I had kids that we'd stay together. We would be that united family.

WINFREY: So do you call this -- is this the divorce album?

ADELE: I think I'm divorcing myself on it.


KEILAR: I mean, wow, Nora, she says, I think I'm divorcing myself on it.

PRINCIOTTI: Right. And she does talk a lot about her own sort of personal journey, coming to terms with her childhood, her relationship with her father, how that's impacted the relationships later in her life.

It's funny, we've only heard four songs from the upcoming album. They're all pretty upbeat, right? This is not a get your glass of wine and cry in the shower type of record, at least from what we've heard so far. It feels more like what she might have wanted to hear, maybe what she wanted her son to hear going through a difficult time because it can bring you up.

KEILAR: Yes. And, Berman, as you mentioned, her son looming so large in all of this.


I thought it was really funny in the interview that, you know, he thinks Taylor Swift is a big deal and he kind of only is starting to realize his mom's a pretty big deal too.