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Premature Babies From Gaza Moved To Egypt; Prime Minister Netanyahu Meets With Families Of The Hostages; IDF Release Video Of Tunnel Found At Al-Shifa Hospital; Trump Fighting To Stop Gag Order; Rep. Jason Crow (D-CO), Is Interviewed About Ukraine's Funding; Biden Marks 81st Birthday Amid Voter Concerns Over Age; ChatGPT Parent Company OpenAI Fires CEO. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired November 20, 2023 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN HOST: Well, if you ever miss an episode of "The Lead" you can listen to the show wherever you get your podcast. Our coverage continues now in "The Situation Room."
PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Happening now, new hope for struggling newborns evacuated from Gaza's Al-Shifa hospital, they are now in Egypt receiving life-saving care. This as Israel was trying to bolster its case that Hamas used Al-Shifa as a command center after releasing video from a tunnel shaft on the hospital grounds.
Also tonight, an appeals court signals it may restore Donald Trump's gag order in the federal election subversion case, but loosen some restrictions. We're going to tell you why the former president could get a green light for some public attacks on Special Counsel Jack Smith. Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. Wolf Blitzer is off today. I'm Pamela Brown and you're in "The Situation Room."
As we begin this hour in Israel, the families of hostages held by Hamas just made an urgent appeal to the Netanyahu government pushing for action to bring their relatives home. CNN's Nic Robertson is following all the new developments from his position overlooking Gaza. Nic, what is the latest?
NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, there does seem to be some optimism around the hostages, but the reality is, and every sort of hostage family that I've talked to here, reminds me when I speak about, you know, the possibility of getting their loved one's home, and they say you have to recognize and understand that Hamas is not a state actor, it is not a rational organization. It's exploitative, it uses propaganda.
The families don't feel that they can trust anything that Hamas says and they recognize the reality therefore of what their government is dealing with, that any potential deal that feels close could easily slip and ebb away at any moment. While those negotiations are going on, of course the fight in Gaza is still underway. The IDF this evening is saying they are now right in the heart of Gaza City.
ROBSERTSON (voice-over): Hopes on the rise again for a potential hostage release as many of the kidnapped families gathered to press the prime minister to get a deal done.
UNKNOWN (through translation): It's very difficult and embarrassing that I need to stand in front of the camera and then I need to go meet them in order to receive answers.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Even so, Qatari negotiators say their confidence levels are increasing.
MOHAMMED BIN ABDULRAHMAN AL-THANI, QATARI PRIME MINISTER: The sticking points, honestly, at this stage are more practical, logistical, not really something to represent the core of the deal.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): But the reality on the battlefield is different. No sign of a deal securing ceasefire yet. Another hospital under fire. This time the Indonesian hospital near the Jabalia refugee camp. The IDF say they were returning fire against shots fired from within the hospital. Twelve people were killed according to the Ministry of Health in the area.
Indeed, Israel is continuing to press its offensive across much of northern Gaza, including showcasing tunnels it unearthed at the Al- Shifa hospital, alleging they are part of a wider Hamas command and control system that they've yet to show, that they say gives them legitimacy to take the hospital. CNN does not have independent access to the Al-Shifa where a handful of doctors remain treating more than 100 patients too badly injured to move.
Over the weekend, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared emboldened by U.S. President Joe Biden's backing that a ceasefire too soon could benefit Hamas, implying such a defense against global critics will buy future gains against Hamas.
BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, PRIME MINISTER OF ISRAEL (through translation): The third thing that has brought the achievement is a diplomatic iron dome that allows us to continue fighting until victory.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): Despite Netanyahu's confidence, pushback is growing from Israel's Arab neighbors and the U.N.
ANTONIO GUTERRES, UNITED NATIONS SECRETARY-GENERAL: What is clear is that we have had in a few weeks thousands of children killed. So, this is what matters. We are witnessing a killing of civilians that is unparalleled and unprecedented in any conflict since I am secretary general.
ROBERTSON (voice-over): On top of the dangers from shelling and missiles, another looming problem for Gazans. The weather is worsening. For many of the more than one million displaced, flimsy plastic sheeting, all they have between them and the coming winter.
ROBERTSON (on camera): You know, and for now it really does here feel like it's the guns on the ground that still do the speaking. We've had a couple of jets overhead, seen some flashes on the horizon towards the Jabalia refugee camp area in the Gaza City area. And earlier today, missiles coming out of Gaza or a salvo of five missiles over this town. We haven't seen that number in a single salvo for a few days. So, Hamas clearly able to use their rocket systems and they fired north as well towards central Israel, towards Tel Aviv also today.
So, you get the impression on the battlefield. If it's going to take a ceasefire to get the hostages released, when you stand here listen to it all day as we do, you just don't feel that that ceasefire is close and therefore, but hope for a hostage release.
BROWN: Yeah, and you're one of the few people, Nic Robertson. You can provide that perspective right there overlooking Gaza and Sderot, Israel. Thank you so much, Nic.
And tonight, more than two dozen newborns evacuated from Al-Shifa Hospital in Gaza are now in Egypt receiving desperately needed treatment. CNN's Eleni Giokos has more on their escape from the war zone and their conditions now.
ELENI GIOKOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Wheeled to safety as they make their way from chaos to calm, finally in Egypt. A race against time to get them out, but a delicate process to move them. The journey to bring them here, long and arduous. Cries for help from the war's tiniest victims. Their first stop, the Al-Helal Al-Emirati Hospital in Rafah -- 28 babies made the grueling journey from Gaza. Their condition, doctors say, delicate and difficult.
MOHAMMAD SALAMAH, AL-HELAL AL-EMIRATI MATERNITY HOSPITA: We're conducting tests on all of those babies, and they were given fluids and needed medication according to their condition. For now, they are in a difficult, stable condition, but this condition might deteriorate.
GIOKOS (voice-over): Now, the WHO says many of them are in critical condition and all are fighting infections. They've endured life- threatening ordeals trapped inside Al-Shifa hospital in Gaza city as the war raged around the hospital complex last week. Al-Shifa ran out of oxygen, clean water and fuel, moved by hand and laid on these beds, no incubators and placed next to hot water bottles to stay warm.
Doctors say five of the babies didn't make it, conditions too harsh for such vulnerable patients. But ultimately, it was the war in and around Al-Shifa that made their evacuation complex and dangerous. The Egyptians, waiting for over a week at the border, disappointed day after day knowing that every minute counted. But the decision out of their hands to get these babies to safety.
Only four mothers and six nurses accompanied the 28 babies. Lubna Al- Seikh (ph) describes her nightmare.
UNKNOWN (through translation): During the siege there was no milk. Her condition worsened. She went back to zero and she relied solely on artificial oxygen.
GIOKOS (voice-over): As for the others, it is unknown where their parents and family are. or if they're still alive. Now, in the hands of the Egyptians, their life's still fragile, their future forever defined by this war.
GIOKOS (on camera): And Pamela, a war not of their making. You know, the mother we just heard from, she also said these are innocent babies and they are not to blame. And yet, they bear the brunt of the war. The most desperate need they had was oxygen and care. In any other situation, these would be the most vulnerable of patients. They would be looked after. But the conditions around Al-Shifa made it completely impossible. It was all about getting a route to safety from that hospital down to the Egyptian border.
The Egyptians were waiting for 36 babies. Five of them lost their lives. Tragically, two of those died on the cusp of the evacuation on Saturday night, according to the World Health Organization. In terms of their status right now, they have been moved to hospitals around Egypt and the whole priority is to get them stable and healthy.
BROWN: Thank goodness. The ones that did make it across, they are getting the care that they deserve. As you say, they are so vulnerable and they are innocent. This is not of their making, Eleni Giokos, thank you so much.
And joining us now is Israeli journalist Barack Ravid, a political and foreign policy reporter for "Axios." So first off, what are you hearing about the status of the negotiations for the release of hostages throughout this war? We've been hearing, you know, it's close and then it's not. This seems to be more real, is it not?
BARAK RAVID, POLITICAL & FOREIGN POLICY REPORTER, AXIOS: Good evening. I think we're still not there yet, okay. I don't think we should -- we should look at it as if you know, a deal is a done thing and that is just a matter of time until they announce it. We're still not there. There are still several things that are still open, but you know, it's sort of like watching, you know, paint dry.
It's very, very, very, very slow but at the certain moment it will be a deal. And I think that that's the sort of consensus among all the people that are dealing with this thing is that it this is on the track for happening unless again something happens on the ground that once again scuttles the whole thing, some you know, incident in Gaza or something else. But if not, I think we're on a path that would be within a few days to a possible deal.
BROWN: In a few days. So, what are the main sticking points then right now?
RAVID: It's things that -- it's not the sticking points as the whole package, meaning you need certain things to come together which is the number of days that of a ceasefire that Israel will agree, the number of hostages that Hamas will agree to release on stage one of the deal and on stage two of the deal, and also to others smaller issues like the number of trucks that will come into Gaza or whether Hamas will give a list of all the hostages in Gaza, and you need all of those things to come together.
I'll give you another example of something that is really, again, not the main issue in the deal but the deal will not happen without it. Hamas demands that every day during the pause Israel will stop flying drones above Gaza for six hours every day. For now, Israel does not agree to six hours. It agrees to maybe less or maybe some other arrangements. And until they will find the solution to all those small things, there's not gonna be a deal.
BROWN: As you say, it's like watching paint dry. At some point it comes together, it dries. It's a matter of time, but there's so much pressure that Netanyahu is facing right now. I mean, he met with the families of many of the hostages today and they relate to him, you know, their frustration of all this time with their loved ones being held hostage.
RAVID: Yes, and you know, one of the things that I think was apparent in that meeting is that -- and the meeting wasn't only with Netanyahu, it was with the whole war cabinet. And what members of -- family members who came out of the meeting said was that Netanyahu and his minister of defense have one position when it comes to the hostages' issue and Benny Gantz and Gadi Eizenkot, two other members of the war cabinet, have another opinion.
Netanyahu sees the release of the hostages as important as the destruction of Hamas. While Gantz thinks that's the release of the hostages is the top priority before the destruction of Hamas. And this might seem like a nuance, but when -- if Hamas will come back with the decision to go for a deal and it will not be exactly like the parameters Netanyahu wants, then we can see a real difficulty within the Israeli war cabinet to take a decision.
BROWN: Thank you for helping us better understand the complexities. As you say, there are a lot of factors, different viewpoints within that war cabinet, and Netanyahu himself. Barak Ravid, thank you.
Coming up, judges sound skeptical about Donald Trump's free speech defense as he fights a gag order in the federal election interference case. Will the appeals court try to muzzle Trump's attacks on the campaign trail?
BROWN: A D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals appears inclined to restore a limited gag order against Donald Trump in the former president's federal election subversion case. A three-judge panel held a hearing today as Trump's legal team argued the gag order is violating his free speech, an argument one of the judges refuted.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
PATRICIA MILLETT, JUDGE, D.C. CIRCUIT COURT: First of all, we're not shutting down everyone who speaks -- we're only -- this is only affect -- no one shutting down and everyone -- This is only affecting speech temporarily during a criminal trial process by someone who has been indicted as a felon. No one here is threatening the First Amendment broadly.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BROWN: With us now is CNN senior justice correspondent Evan Perez. So, Evan tells us what issues are the judges considering here?
EVAN PEREZ, CNN SENIOR JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well Pamela, you heard from that soundbite you just played, some of the skepticism from these judges. Look, they're grappling with a very, frankly, an unprecedented issue, right? The issue is, you know, how do you preserve and make sure that there's a fair trial for Donald Trump when he goes on trial here in the election subversion case next March versus, you know, his - protecting his right as a defendant, as a criminal defendant to be able to defend himself and speak freely especially because he is a leading presidential candidate. He is leading in a lot of the polls.
So, that's what the judges were grappling with over two and a half hours. This was a hearing that went much longer than we anticipated and they've covered a lot of issues including protecting jurors, the issue of protecting jurors if their information gets out there, they get doxed. How do you prevent threats against the judge, Judge Chutkan, who's already been on the receiving end of some of these threats?
But listen to one particular exchange about the hypothetical about someone we expect to be a witness, and that's Mike Pence, the former vice president. Listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
MILLETT: Let's assume former Vice President Mike Pence is going to testify. And it's the night before his testimony. Could the defendant tweet out, "Mike Pence can still fix this. Mike Pence can still do the right thing, if he says the right stuff tomorrow." First of all, is that communicating with the witness?
D. JOHN SAUER, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: If it's just broadcasting a statement of core political speech on social media, likely not.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
PEREZ: And that's a very, very real hypothetical, of course, because you know Mike Pence, Pamela, was on the receiving end of a lot of pressure from the former president during that period in 2020. We don't know when the judges in this court will rule. We expect it to come in the next couple of weeks.
BROWN: Yeah, that was really, really interesting that she used that example, given what happened January 6. Evan Perez, thank you so much. Let's bring in Norm Eisen and Alyssa Farah Griffin to discuss all of this. So, you know, Norm, Evan really laid out what these judges have to grapple with. How do the judges go about striking that tricky balance between, you know, a leading presidential candidate's First Amendment rights, but also protecting court officials and Jack Smith's team from his rhetoric and avoid tainting a potential jury pool?
NORM EISEN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the way that the judges are going to strike that balance is by looking to precedent the cases that have been decided in similar criminal situations. And the Supreme Court has held that time and again, when it comes to the judge and court personnel, to witnesses, we heard a lot about that today, to others who are involved in the process, that they must be protected. So, the balance will fall on the side of protecting the administration of justice.
BROWN: And we also know, we heard from the judge, look, you know, the First Amendment protections, they are not absolute, right? And so that is part of this. But again, he is running for presidential office. He is the leading Republican candidate. Alyssa, I want to play this moment for you when Trump's lawyers argued about political speech. Take a listen.
(BEGIN AUDIO CLIP)
SAUER: Criminal speech, obviously, is subject to the restrictions. But core political speech -- that is core political speech, that's part of campaign speech, that raises the question of problem.
MILLETT: I think that -- I think that kind of calling, labeling it core political speech begs the question of whether it is in fact political speech or whether it is political speech aimed at derailing or corrupting the criminal justice process.
(END AUDIO CLIP)
BROWN: I'm wondering what you think of that exchange, Alyssa, given what you know about former President Trump and how he operates.
ALYSSA FARAH GRIFFIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, can we just take a step back and think about how remarkable it is that this discussion is even being had. This is kind of testing our laws in a way that they never have before in the sense that you have likely the Republican nominee, you know, indicted on felony charges and actively in a courtroom while he's campaigning for president.
So, there's -- these are kind of questions that haven't legally been challenged. But I completely understand what Donald Trump's attorney is trying to do here. Trump is -- his only option this campaign cycle is basically to campaign from the courtroom. With the multiple cases that he has, it's going to keep him off of the campaign trail in many court dates. I mean, some of these are actually going to line up right ahead of Super Tuesday. So, he needs to be able to use his social media, talk about things in a way and define, you know, the enemy being the judge, being those who are coming against him in these cases.
But he also needs to use it to look strong and to appear strong. So, this is something that he knows being silenced in these cases is a death knell for him. He needs to be heard. He needs to appear strong to his supporters and like he's going to win this when it's unclear if he will.
BROWN: Right. And we've seen him fundraise off this and so forth. I mean, he's been trying to use it to his advantage. So, Norm, the judges, they seem ready to reinstate the gag order, but with some leeway for Trump to attack Jack Smith. What do you make of that?
EISEN: Well, we've known all along that while the law favors the gag order, the place where the toughest judgments have to be made is with criticizing the Biden administration and the Department of Justice. And Jack Smith, of course, although he's a special counsel, he's very independent, he is a part of the Department of Justice.
I think that those kinds of accommodations are reasonable. Above all, we have to protect the judge, we have to protect the witnesses, and we have to protect the jury.
So, if the order has to yield a little bit there, that is a reasonable compromise to make sure that justice can operate smoothly in this case.
BROWN: And we just heard the exchange about, you know, core political speech versus criminal speech. The judges raised, Alyssa today, the potential for Trump to rhetoric to cause violence. They brought up the death threats against the D.C. judge, Tonya Chutkan, the doxing of potential jurors. How real is this threat?
GRIFFIN: Well, listen, we live in a moment of heightened political violence. We know that from January 6. We know that from situations that preceded that. But I think that's a very real concern. And the other piece is what you played earlier, this kind of soft witness intimidation. We kind of have a sense of who the players are who are gonna be likely called to testify in this case.
Mike Pence, case in point, somebody who saying something as vague as, you know, I hope he does the right thing. He knows that tens of millions of his supporters are listening to that and they're going to put pressure in whatever way they may on Mike Pence. And we saw how that culminated on January 6th.
BROWN: Yeah, we all did when they were chanting, "Hang Mike Pence." Norm Eisen, Alyssa Farah Griffin, thank you.
GRIFFIN: Thank you.
BROWN: Up next, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin makes a surprise visit to Ukraine. Stay with us. You're in "The Situation Room."
BROWN: Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin just made a surprise visit to Ukraine, his second trip to the warzone since the Russian invasion. And it comes as the Pentagon unveiled another $100 million in military aid. CNN's Anna Coren has the latest from the war from Kyiv.
ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Meandering through the marshlands of Kherson region in southern Ukraine is the mighty Dnipro River, now the new front line in Ukraine's war against Russia. In recent weeks, Marines have managed to cross this expanse of water using inflatable boats, establishing a tenuous foothold on the left bank of the river.
Hey, am I in Vietnam, asked this soldier sarcastically rushing past tall grasses. A reference to another bloody conflict that ended before most of the soldiers were even born. According to Ukrainian armed forces, they've pushed back the Russians three to eight kilometers, two to five miles from the riverfront, making it difficult for the enemy to fire mortars to positions on the right bank.
However, Russian drones artillery and aerial glided bombs are still landing and constantly. In exclusive access with drone pilot, Serhly, his night mission had just been aborted because the Russians had identified his units position on the right bank. Hunkered down in his pickup hiding under trees from Russian birds above, the 32-year-old former journalist tells me they're under constant bombardment.
COREN: What are you hearing?
SERHLY OSTAPENKO, SOLDIER OF DRONE UNIT "SONS OF THUNDER" (through translator): Explosions. Now there is an attack on the place where I am. There are kamikaze drones I think it Shaheds, rockets most likely Grunts (ph), mortars and tanks. It's always like that here. Today, they're using guided aerial bombs. Do you hear it too? That's another one. I think it was a rocket.
COREN (voice-over): The job of his aerial reconnaissance unit is to provide cover for Marines crossing the river and to watch the enemy on the other side.
COREN: Do you feel safe where you are?
OSTAPENKO (through translator): No. It's dangerous here. Where we live and where we work. Every time I enter the zone. I say goodbye to my life. But I realized that my life can be ended at any moment. You get used to it but it's unpleasant.
COREN (voice-over): The reason this left bank operation is so important for Ukraine is to open the road to Russian occupied Crimea and to protect the nearby city of Kherson. A year ago, the Russians withdrew from Kherson using the Dnipro River as a defendable natural barrier between the two sides. But in the last month, attacks on Kherson have intensified to the point where the region's military governor told me there was 700 incoming rounds in one day.
This is revenge and now it's felt more, he says, because our soldiers are already on the left bank, and our civilians are feeling his revenge. Three hundred thousand residents used to live in Kherson, now less than a quarter remain, including 56-year-old, Inna. She cares for invalid mother and her four-year-old grandson.
Twenty-four hours a day, it's scary. When it's quiet, it's even scarier than when there is shelling. She says she lived through eight months of Russian occupation and will endure this as well. Our main task is to survive, she explains, that was the priority during the occupation. And it's the same thing now we have to survive. A daily struggle for a population that's being constantly terrorized.
Anna Coren, CNN, Kyiv.
BROWN: Anna Coren, thank you. Let's get more from Democratic Congressman Jason Crow. He sits on the House Foreign Affairs and Intelligence Committee. So congressman, this new security assistance package for Ukraine it is one of the smallest yet. How concerned are you that the U.S. is not doing enough to support Ukraine's fight against Russia?
REP. JASON CROW (D-CO), INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE: Well, Pamela, as your last piece points out, time is a critical factor here. You know, getting the right weapons and equipment, support to Ukraine is important. But getting it at the right time is just as important because you can get the right things but if they're too late it's not going to matter for the Ukrainians. So that's why the clock is ticking we've got to push this security supplemental through. It's in the best interest of the American people.
This is not charity. This is something that's a national security imperative for the United States to protect our 100,000 troops in Europe, to protect our largest trading partners throughout Europe, to make sure there's peace and stability on the European continent, to protect the free flow of food to the entire world, including the United States. This is something we have to get done.
BROWN: So then how confident are you that additional Ukraine funding will pass the House despite growing opposition from many of your Republican colleagues?
CROW: Well, I've learned not to take anything for granted in the United States Congress, in my time is a member of the House, that's for sure. You know, I've spent a lot of time the last week in particular with some of my Republican friends, including we just took a bipartisan congressional trip on behalf of the United States Congress to the Halifax International Security Forum spoke with a lot of my colleagues. We are still optimistic. We're cautiously optimistic for sure that we can get this done. Because the issue is not the vote, there's still overwhelming support within the United States Congress and with your own America, frankly, for Ukraine support.
The problem is getting to the vote, because you still have the Freedom Caucus that's holding up the process of getting this to the floor, so if we got to a vote, it would pass overwhelmingly. We just have to get to that point.
BROWN: All right, I want to turn to Israel's war against Hamas. The IDF has released footage, which it says proves Hamas was using that hospital, Al-Shifa, as cover for terror infrastructure underneath. Are you satisfied with the evidence Israel has released so far on this?
CROW: Well, I'm going to wait to see you when I get back to Washington to get the full classified briefing as a member of the Intelligence Committee to see what information we have. But one thing that I know for certain over our 20 year war on terrorism, because United States has a lot of lessons here that we learned. We spent 20 years, $3.5 trillion, over 6,000 American troops were killed, tens of thousands civilians died during our 20-year war on terror to destroy al-Qaeda and ISIS.
And guess what, al-Qaeda and ISIS are not destroyed. In fact, in many places throughout the world, they continue to grow and expand. The lesson of that is that you cannot destroy terrorism with military means alone. The military can only shape and contain and set the conditions for what it must ultimately be a political and humanitarian resolution. That's why the protection of civilians in conflict zones everywhere but particularly in Gaza and this instance, has to be front and center, we have to make sure that everybody is doing everything possible to protect civilians, and that we actually create the conditions for ultimately, the Palestinian people to be safe and secure, and for the Israeli people to be safe and secure.
BROWN: Well, then let me follow up on that because now you have Israeli officials saying that they're focusing more on Southern Gaza now for its military offensive. That is, of course, where it has been telling Palestinians to go for shelter as it was attacking the North. Do you think Israel is doing enough to protect civilians?
CROW: Well, I've been pushing very hard on every front, the administration to the Israelis because what we know for sure, is that Hamas will do nothing, right? Hamas is a terrorist organization. They actually intentionally kill civilians, they use human shields, they built their command infrastructure and their military infrastructure, under schools, under daycares, under hospitals, they -- as a matter of their practice, tried to kill civilians.
So that, there's no false equivalence here by any stretch, but I'm going to push all of those that will listen and will engage in our concerned about mitigating civilian casualties to do more. One thing I know is this is a terrible crisis. It's getting worse. We're on the verge of starvation for many Palestinians in Gaza, and we have to do more, and we have to do it quicker.
BROWN: All right, Congressman Jason Crow, thank you.
CROW: Thank you.
BROWN: Just ahead, new polling on a potential rematch between President Biden and former President Trump. What's on voter's minds with less than a year until the election?
BROWN: Well, tonight, the White House is trying to tamp down concerns over President Biden's age as he turns 81. The President even cracking a joke about it at today's annual Turkey pardoning. So let's get some analysis now from Scott Jennings and Kate Bedingfield, hi to you both. So Kate, what do you think? Is it a good move for President Biden to directly address Perhaps his greatest campaign liability, his age, like he did today, cracking a joke?
KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, I do think so. I think it puts people at ease. It shows that, you know, that he gets it, which he has said many times. He understands that this is a concern for people. But addressing it this way, gives him a chance to put people at ease and then also move the conversation to where he wants it to go, which is about his record, and also about the contrast with his presumed opponent, Donald Trump, who, you know, by the way, is also going to have a birthday. His birthday is June 14th. So we'll look forward to him turning 78.
Age is going to be a piece of this conversation if Donald Trump's the nominee, no question about it. But I think for Joe Biden to show that he is comfortable, that he understands a lot of people's concerns, but ultimately this race is going to be decided based on what he's done as president, what Donald Trump would do as president. And that's where he can take the conversation if he heads off the age thing like he did today.
BROWN: Yes. And you point out Trump's age. I'm going to ask you about that after I talked to Scott about what Trump released today. Interesting timing, Scott, this letter from his doctor who knows that the former president lost weight, says his cognitive exams were exceptional. And claims Trump is in excellent health. Of course there is no supporting documentation, but what do you make of the timing of this release coming on President Biden's 81st birthday?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well they've obviously got smart folks running their campaign this time around because they knew the conversation today in American politics was going to be about Joe Biden's age. And they wanted to take advantage of what the polling already shows, which is that the American people have deep concerns about Joe Biden's mental acuity and his fitness to hold this office for another term.
So it wasn't surprised to see this come out today. I thought it was a pretty shrewd political move. And, you know, when you look at it, head to head and a lot of the polling, people do believe Donald Trump is in far better shape and has a far better fitness level for holding the office of president than Joe Biden. So I expect the Trump campaign to continue to try to use this as much as any other issue in the race to make the case for another term.
BROWN: But why do you think that is, Scott, and I'll get to you in a second on that Kate. But why do you think that is that voters are less concerned with Trump's age than Biden's?
JENNINGS: Because they have eyes and ears. I mean, they see Joe Biden, they listen to Joe Biden, they watch Joe Biden, they see Donald Trump and, you know, I think the American people perceive a difference between the two. I recognize that just a couple of years. But this is not just a judgment being made by Republicans, it's across the board, Republicans, Democrats and Independents watch these two guys. And that's the judgment that they're telling pollsters that they've made. It could change, I guess, over the next year, but that's where the public opinion stands right now.
BROWN: Well, let's get to what Ron DeSantis for his part said about Trump's age. And then Kate, I promised to get you in after because I saw your reaction to what Scott said. So let's listen to DeSantis.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
GOV. RON DESANTIS (R-FL), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: The presidency is not a job for somebody that's pushing 80 years old. I just think that that's something that has been shown with Joe Biden. Father time is undefeated. Donald Trump is not exempt from any of that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BROWN: So Kate, your thoughts?
BEDINGFIELD: Well, look, I would say, you know, part of the reason that people don't carry the same concern with Trump, at least right now, is don't under -- first, don't underestimate the impact of the consistent right wing echo chamber criticizing Joe Biden and that narrative flooding into the press. I think, you know, people have heard over and over and over again, because it has been a topic of fascination with the press, Joe Biden's age for a year now, because we're still a year out from the election.
These are the kinds of things that get talked about a year out from the election when the campaign hasn't started in earnest. But, you know, the other thing I would say is, I think, what hasn't -- there hasn't been enough focus on the substance of what Trump is saying. So, you know, when you're hearing Donald Trump say things like I'm going to weaponize the government against my enemies, if I come back into office, that's something that needs to be taken seriously, that needs to be given as much focus and attention, I would argue more focus and attention but at least as much focus and attention as the fact that Biden is demonstrably 81 years old. So I think as the campaign moves forward, and these issues come into focus, we're going to see the landscape of the discussion shift a little bit. BROWN: All right, thanks to you both. I had many more questions. I wish we had more time. Kate Bedingfield and Scott Jennings, appreciate it.
And coming up for you, why there is a major shakeup by one of the companies pioneering the field of Artificial Intelligence.
BROWN: Well, there is uncertainty at one of the biggest artificial intelligence companies in the tech industry after the parent company of the program ChatGPT fired its CEO. And now there are questions about the future of OpenAI. Brian Todd is following this story. And Brian there was a lot of employees at OpenAI that are not too happy today.
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right Pamela. There are serious questions snide about whether OpenAI can even survive at this point. It all centers around the surprising ouster of the company's charismatic CEO, Sam Altman, and the cascading effect that the move created.
TODD (voice-over): Chaos at the top of the tech world, the company OpenAI, one of the top players in artificial intelligence thrown into disarray. Today, more than 500 OpenAI employees sent a letter to the company's board threatening to quit over the board's abrupt firing of OpenAI's popular CEO, Sam Altman.
KARA SWISHER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: They might have had disagreements, but this is not how to run one of the most important companies of the AI age at least.
TODD (voice-over): Since his ouster on Friday, Altman has been hired by Microsoft, which was OpenAI's biggest investor to run Microsoft's Artificial Intelligence Division, a shakeup that leaves OpenAI's future in doubt.
SWISHER: It was valued at $80 billion. And this is something the employees have now lost. You know, in that regard, it's the leading AI company.
TODD (voice-over): A company that created ChatGPT, a program that can draft a letter, write a novel or generate answers to questions by drawing on millions of previous examples. Why was Altman fired by OpenAI's board? Industry watchers say it was a split between his vision for the future of artificial intelligence and the boards.
JON SARLIN, CNN DIGITAL PRODUCER: Those divisions were raging within OpenAI. Some people saw this incredibly valuable product and wanted to push forward. Others were more cautious saying that they had to, you know, be responsible for humanity. TODD (voice-over): And Altman sometimes seemed to straddle both camps. Analysts say inside OpenAI, some board members viewed him as too aggressive, wanting to market artificial intelligence and push it forward. But he also told Congress earlier this year about the dangers of AI.
SAM ALTMAN, CEO, OPENAI: I think if this technology goes wrong, it can go quite wrong. We are quite concerned about the impact this can have on elections.
TODD (voice-over): The potential for AI to create misinformation like fabricated comments from candidates or fake news reports is a huge concern going into 2024. Other worries --
BRIAN FUNG, CNN TECHNOLOGY REPORTER: Potentially job loss and, you know, people being displaced from the economy. Over the long term however, I think there are a lot of people in the AI industry in particular, who are concerned about the rise of what's called Artificial General Intelligence, you know, these kind of doomsday scenarios where, you know, an AI takes over the world.
TODD (voice-over): But analysts say that's balanced against the potentially positive things that AI can do, like helping to address climate change and improving our health.
FUNG: What artificial intelligence does is find patterns and, you know, a technology that's very good at finding patterns can help, you know, do things like diagnose diseases or develop vaccines.
TODD (on camera): Is the federal government ready to regulate artificial intelligence and can it? Analyst Brian Fung says there is a strong desire among leaders of Congress to regulate AI but he says they're not sure which rules to write for it yet, because they're still learning so much about it. Pamela?
BROWN: And that is why it is such a big deal who runs OpenAI such, such a big and powerful company that could shape our futures.
BROWN: Brian Todd, thank you so much.
Well, coming up, a federal appeals court appears poised to restore at least some parts of a gag order on Donald Trump, what it means for the case against the former president. That's next.
BROWN: Happening now, Donald Trump's newest fight against the gag order is met with skepticism by an appeals court.