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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Campaign Chair To Democrats: This Will Pass; Supreme Court: Trump Entitled To Some Immunity In January 6 Case; Biden Campaign Fends Off Calls To Drop Out Of Race; Bannon Surrenders, Calls Himself A "Political Prisoner". Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 01, 2024 - 16:00   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The 16-year-old will compete in the four by 400 meter relay in Paris, just before he begins his junior year of high school, he posted on his Instagram simply: we go to the Olympics.


KEILAR: Yes, you are.

BROWN: And we're going to be cheering you on and I loved the Biles comeback. It would be epic. I knew she would do it. I knew it.

KEILAR: Who takes -- you just take years off, I mean, for a very good reason, but then you just get back in the game. It's amazing.

BROWN: That's amazing.

KEILAR: Amazing.

BROWN: Wow. We're rooting for her, too.

THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER starts right now.


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: A week of historical significance.

THE LEAD starts right now.

The huge decision earlier today from the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, that former President Donald Trump has limited immunity from criminal prosecution for official acts. He took as president, including possibly some related to the effort to overturn the election. What this ruling means for pending cases against the former president.

Plus, how Trump's team intends to use today's opinion to challenge the verdict in the New York hush money cover-up case where Trump is set to be sentenced next week.

All of this at the same time that official Democrats in D.C. and across the country are panicking, stressing, freaking out over whether they can continue with President Biden at the top of their ticket given his, shall we say, troubling behavior during last week's debate.


REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): There are very honest and serious and rigorous conversations taking place at every level of our party.


TAPPER: On his conversations with journalists and Democrats about Biden's abilities coming up on the lead.

And moment of extreme as Steve Bannon, former Trump chief strategist, reports to prison.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP CHIEF STRATEGIST: My voice is going to be heard every day and more importantly, their voices are going to be heard.



TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And yes, we're going to start with our 2024 lead where we find two colossal events that could pave Donald Trump's road back to the White House. Today on the very last day of its term, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that former President Trump does have immunity for some official actions during his presidency, possibly including attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

But the justices did not specify exactly which actions that includes which sets up another lower court battle in the January 6 case and making it incredibly unlikely that Trump will actually face that trial before the November election.

On the other side of the ballot in just hours, President Biden will return to Washington, D.C. undoubtedly a weaker candidate than he was at this point last week. President Biden huddled at Camp David over the weekend with his family, which sources say encouraged him to stay in the race. His family reportedly blaming Biden's stunningly flawed debate performance on his top aides and advisors.

Today, Biden divisors tells CNN's Jeff Zeleny that the president is considering sitting down for a high-profile interview in the coming days in an attempt to reassure voters about his fitness for office. Biden campaign chair Jen O'Malley Dillon holding a car with -- call with party leaders earlier today telling them this too shall pass.

There is a pattern, discernible pattern of Democratic officials seemingly trying to convince you, the public, to not believe what you saw and what you heard with your eyes and with your ears on Thursday night.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Having to do with -- the COVID, excuse me, with dealing with everything we have to do with -- look, if -- we finally beat Medicare.

The total initiative relative to what we can do with more border patrol and more asylum officers.

TAPPER: President Trump?

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I really don't know what he said at the end of this sentence. I don't think he knows what he said either.


TAPPER: Democratic officials have tried to spin this in many ways. They said President Biden just had a cold. They said it was just one off night, akin to when President Obama in 2012 was rusty and seemed a little huffy.

But behind the scenes, make no mistake: most Democratic officials witnessed the same shocking spectacle that you did. The difficulty that the presumptive Democratic nominee, the current president of the United States, had just articulating his basic thoughts during the 90 minutes of the debate. The spinning is all very reminiscent of the George Orwell quote from the book "1984" that I invoked five years ago for a different situation in a different president.

It's relevant again today, quote: The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final most essential command.


We're not going to do that today on THE LEAD. We're going to talk honestly and frankly about all of this with a number of individuals who see it for what it is. We're going to talk to some journalists and some Democrats, none of whom wish President Biden ill, all of whom apparently are more willing to speak freely, honestly and candidly about the candidate and the people running the Biden campaign, the people close to President Biden, and frankly, most Democratic officials its across the country.

Lets bring Democratic strategist, James Carville, the former lead strategist for Bill Clinton's 1992 campaign.

James, can President Biden win reelection this November?

JAMES CARVILLE, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: It doesn't -- that's not the real question here. The real question here is a Supreme Court that's bought and paid for by RVs and fishing (INAUDIBLE).

We have a country that's 72 percent want something different. If the Democratic Party can't produce something different that 72 percent people want, then why do we exist? What are we here for? I mean, the country is clamoring for change and what are we going to offer them? The same stuff? It doesn't make any sense, Jake.

Give people what they want, vox populi. They want something different. Let's give it to 'em.

I mean, I just don't get the whole thing. I'll be honest with you. I'm from boxing (ph). You know, everybody saw what they saw Thursday night.

I don't take any pleasure in this, and this was a year ago. I'm going to be 80 in October. You can't fight this stuff. It's just there.

TAPPER: So what happens? What do you think the Democrats should do?

CARVILLE: Something different, all right? In -- I don't know. It'll be messy. It'll be -- it'll be a mess. You know, that's where change is.

But if the Democratic Party is so committed to the status quo, and so committed to sticking with something that three quarters of the country doesn't want, then we have to say, why do exist? What are we here for?

And in mine -- and we are here to change civil rights. We will here to bring change in Medicare and do great things and family and medical leave and expanding health care. And great things that are part of my party.

And while I love it, but if we can't bring something that people want, I have to doubt our rationale for being here. I really do.

TAPPER: Biden huddled with his family over the weekend at Camp David and we're told that his family thinks he should stay in the race. What's your response?

CARVILLE: You know, I've been in 50-year and people say, James, I -- my family loves me and people like you and you all just looking for the next scalp, next (INAUDIBLE) to make the next (INAUDIBLE), maybe we do in, maybe they love you, but their judgment is clouded by love.

I mean, I really like President Biden, but, man, the country wants something new. Let them have it. Why are we fighting this inevitable desire on (INAUDIBLE) deliver it (ph). I mean, Trump is going to be sentenced on July 11. Supreme Court is like, come on, we don't even want to discuss this, but give the people a shot. Let them look at who's in the party and I believe there's staggering calendar, Democratic Party, get out the way and let 1,000 flowers bloom.


TAPPER: But do you thin they should have -- do you think Democrats -- do you think Democrats should have an open convention? Do you think that they should announce, we're having primaries the next four weeks and then we'll take it -- I mean, how would you even go about doing this? CARVILLE: You know, I go about it by saying, you know, it's -- let everybody decide. I have four forums around the country. I don't know, have people address the convention. But just sit there, do something. People want something different.

I mean, you go back and you look at American history and, you know, after Pearl Harbor, Nimitz was the head of the bureau navigation, you know what he did? He went in (ph) and he took action.

Martin Luther King was comfortable preacher at a church in Montgomery. He didn't just sit there, he did something.


CARVILLE: That's now our history and people say, well, a process and this and that -- I don't know, but do something to open this process up, and all of the people are asking for is something different and why not give it to 'em? Why did we fight with 'em and arguing whether he had a bad night or cold, or the staff overworked him, or all of the nonsense that we're hearing.

And President Biden a great guy, and I'm a great guy too. I don't have any business running campaigns anymore. That's where it is.

TAPPER: President Clinton -- and President Clinton and President Obama have both given statements in support of President Biden. Is that how they really feel do you think?


CARVILLE: You know, they have I think a reverential view of what ex- president should do, and I don't think it's their job to do that. I think it's their job to salute the flag, to salute nominee. I don't expect them to get involved in this.

What I expect is people are elected in office that have influenced and have power to say we're sitting here in letting this country deteriorate right in front of our very eyes. And the only hope for this, for the United States of America is the Democratic Party. That's it.

I hate to break the news, everybody, but the whole country is looking to us and all they're asking for is something different. And let's give it to 'em.


TAPPER: Who do you think would be stronger? Which Democrats -- which Democrat that you think would be stronger -- we've heard so many names. Governor Newsom of California --


TAPPER: Governor Whitmer, Governor Shapiro in Pennsylvania, obviously, Senator Warnock, Pete Buttigieg, Vice President Harris. Who do you think has the best chance of beating Trump? CARVILLE: Yeah. Let -- let Democrat decide.

All of these people are marvelously talented people that you and I know about but 99 percent of the country doesn't know about.

And you know what people will do? They will pay attention, they will listen to what Senator Warnock has to say, or, Governor Newsom, or Vice President Harris, or anybody else? I don't want to give names because but let them all go out and make their case.

And I think to country is concerned enough engaged enough its 72 percent are, I know that that number ill stick with the hole, this whole interview and let them decide. This is our democracy -- this is our country, it's our future. Don't -- just don't sit, do something, man. Move it.

TAPPER: James Carville, thank you for your candor. Always good to have you on. Appreciate it.


TAPPER: Coming up, what Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer says about her name being floated as a possible replacement for Biden. Plus, her colorful choice of words today for people who don't believe her.

The other big story of the day, the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that Donald Trump is entitled to immunity for official acts. The strong lines from justices who dissented in today's decision. We'll tell you about that.

Plus, the larger impact on cases that Trump's still faces. We're back in a moment.



TAPPER: The other big story in our show today is in our law and justice lead. The U.S. Supreme Court earlier today ruled that Donald Trump is entitled to some immunity from criminal prosecution for acts he took -- official acts when he was president. And now, the lower courts must decide which acts are official which are not, which means that Trump's January 6 case is unlikely to happen before November's election if at all.

CNN's Paula Reid has more on how we got to today's ruling.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT & 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Presidents have to be given total immunity. They have to be allowed to do their job.

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Supreme Court partially siding with former President Donald Trump in his ongoing January 6 case, ruling that former Presidents are entitled to some immunity from prosecution for official actions, but not for private conduct.

In the 6-3 opinion, Chief Justice John Roberts writing for the majority: At least with respect to the president's exercise of his core constitutional powers. This immunity must be absolute. The president enjoys no immunity for his unofficial acts and not everything the president does is official. The president it is not above the law.

The high court though, leaving it up to lower courts to determine which actions are official and therefore immune. Roberts writing: Other allegations -- such as those involving Trump's interactions with the vice president, state officials, and certain private parties and his comments to the general public present more difficult questions, meaning District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, who is overseeing Trump's January 6 case, will need to decide whether Trump's pressure campaign to get Vice President Pence --

TRUMP: If Mike Pence does the right thing, we win the election.

REID: -- Georgia state officials --

TRUMP: I just want to find 11,780 votes, which is one more than we have, because we won the state.

REID: -- and others to overturn the 2020 election results were official acts.

Trump's celebrating the decision on social media, posting: Big win for our Constitution and democracy.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor dissenting from the majority opinion, writing the relationship between the president and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably in every use of official power. The president is now a king above the law, something she and other liberal justices warned about during oral arguments in April.

JUSTICE KETANJI BROWN JACKSON, U.S. SUPREME COURT: I'm trying to understand what the disk incentive is from turning the oval office into the seat of criminal activity in this country.

REID: The decision today likely to hamstrings special counsel Jack Smith's election subversion case.

JACK SMITH, SPECIAL COUNSEL: Charging Donald J. Trump with conspiring to defraud the United States, conspiring to disenfranchise voters, and conspiring and attempting to obstruct an official proceeding.

REID: Roberts making clear in his majority opinion that Trump's discussions with Justice Department officials and his official conversations with the then vice president are immune.

And in another blow for Smith, Robert says, Trump's official acts cannot be considered even as evidence at trial -- a trial in this case so now highly unlikely before the November election.

(END VIDEOTAPE) REID (on camera): But, of course, the former president has many other legal cases he is facing. And the next event on his legal calendar is next week, a sentencing in the New York criminal case. Now sources tell me we can expect Trump's legal team who use today's Supreme Court opinion to attack that conviction. Specifically, they're going to use this opinion to try to get thrown out portions of Hope Hick's testimony as well as some tweets that are introduced as evidence.

Now, it's unclear if this opinion will be enough to upend that case, but clearly, Jake, today's Supreme Court opinion giving Trump's lawyers a lot to work with over the next few months.


TAPPER: All right. Paula Reid outside the court, thank you so much.

Let's bring in my legal panel.

Tim Parlatore, let me start with you. What was your reaction to today's Supreme Court ruling?

TIM PARLATORE, CNN LEGAL COMMENTATOR: It's very similar to what I expected. I wasn't necessarily expect them to cut it into the three pieces as they did of the absolute immunity presumptively immune, and then not immune but I think it does make sense to me based on how it is developed that they were going to find some form of immunity and then define contours and then kick it back down to the district court. Actually have a hearing and figure out how does this rule apply to this case.

TAPPER: Victoria, what did you think?

VICTORIA NOURSE, FORMER CHIEF COUNSEL, VP JOE BIDEN: Well, I was saddened because they didn't start out the same way they did in the Clinton case, in the Nixon tapes case with a very powerful statement that no one is above the law. They left that until the end. And the court created a lot of doctrine that is entirely new that's not judicially restrained in my view, and that the district courts going to have to deal with as to the division between and your -- your listeners are going to know about official versus unofficial acts, what is private, what isn't no one thought.

That he if someone doesn't official statement or if Obama sends drones that he can be, you know, criminally prosecuted for that. But what about SEAL Team Six?

TAPPER: Right.

NOURSE: What about that hypothetical by Judge Pan in the D.C. circuit.

So he ordered seal team six to assassinate a political rival. Is that official or is it that private?


Tim, how quickly do you think there could be an evidentiary hearing on this matter about what is official, what is not official, what can Trump be prosecuted for? What can he not? How quickly could they call Vice President Pence or Mark Meadows or anyone to the stand to get out this information, grand jury testimony and evidence?

PARLATORE: I think they could do it pretty quickly and that's the kind of the interesting thing about this decision debate. Setting aside the legal precedent of how this is going to affect future administrations, as applied to Donald Trump, both sides are going to get what they want because they can have a pretrial hearing right now and she could do very quickly. They already have all the discovery they just need to get a conference together with the judge and figure out a schedule.

Because it's going to be before the judge instead of a jury, you can do it on non nonconsecutive days, so you could do it three days here, two days there? And also because it's a pretrial hearing, rules of evidence don't apply, so they can bring in, you know, agents to kind of summarize the evidence. They can bring him Mike Pence, they can bring in Mark Meadows, they can bring all these people.

So everything that people are saying, well, we want the American people to know this before the election, that can all be brought out in the pretrial hearing. So everybody who wants it out, they can get what they want and people that don't want there to be a trial before the election, they get what they want.

TAPPER: What do you think of that?

NOURSE: I think it's fascinating and I think we are going to see Judge Chutkan be asked by Jack Smith to move very quickly. Judges can move quickly the Nixon Supreme Court decided in two weeks.

I think that if she -- the will, they have the will to do that. They can bring in a lot of the evidence other than official acts and it will -- because this was an attempt to steal an election through fraudulent electors. Those cases are still pending in the state courts. That is all private as Justice Barrett said in the argument.

So they could bring in all of that evidence and so in that case, in that sense, the case is still alive and interestingly enough, whether it was intended or not by the chief, there will be a very big hearing, I assume.

TAPPER: Tim, part of Justice Sotomayor's scathing dissent today says, quote, and every use of official power. The president is now a king above the law, orders the Navy SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival, immune, organizes them a little military coup to hold onto power, immune takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon immune, immune, immune, immune.

Is that accurate?

PARLATORE: I don't think so. I mean, I think that that may be a little bit more political rhetoric there, there is what they've done in laying out the things that are absolutely immune versus presumptively immune. I think that a lot of those things will fall onto the presumptive where they prosecutors can present evidence that it was not for the proper purpose.

And also, I don't think that there's anything in this decision that would impact the ability to impeach the president.


PARLATORE: And so the impeachment wouldn't be affected here at all. And so then they're kind of the inverse of what Trump's attorneys argue with the impeachment judgment rule. If they impeach him for having a SEAL Team assassinated opponent, does that remove the immunity entirely?

TAPPER: And, Victoria, Justice Amy Coney Barrett, she sided with the majority and the ultimate decision, which was 6-3, but she did take issue with how the court ruled that evidence from Trump's officials acts should be excluded from trial. She didn't like how they intervened and said what was evidenced in what was not evidence.

TAPPER: Could -- could this have an effect on what happens back forward?


TAPPER: It could have an effect on what's going on below, because there are a lot of ambiguities in this opinion. What's amazing is how difficult its going to be to parse this, and the other opinions that have been coming down in the last week.

They're all creating a fair amount of uncertainty in the areas of law. So you're going to see arguments in the evidentiary hearing about whether certain things can come into evidence are not using her theory.

There's a whole set of questions behind this, and I want to get too technical that will also be raised if the nature of the statute she raised this. There's an argument that if you don't say president in the statute, that in fact you cannot actually indict under that.

So there's all sorts of things that are going to come up in this new hearing and, you know, we'll see how it goes. I think Chutkan probably is going to have a very different view of some of these things more along the lines of the dissenters. So we'll see what happens.

TAPPER: All right. Thanks to both you for being here really appreciate it.

I want to bring in to guests watching the 2024 race closely between today's Supreme Court decision and all the talk about Biden's debate performance. Where do they see the race now? Plus, what could Biden do in the coming days to change the narrative if anything?



TAPPER: We're back with more on today's major U.S Supreme Court ruling.

Donald Trump is entitled to some immunity for official actions during the last days of his presidency, which theoretically means is January 6 cases unlikely to happen before November's election.

CNN's Jeff Zeleny and Jamie Gangel join me now.

Jamie, Kasie Hunt, our colleague can put it bluntly earlier if Donald Trump wins in November, he won it over the course of the last five days, she said. The decision today and the debate performance by Biden last Thursday.

Do you agree?

JAMIE GANGEL, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. No question. This has been a great week for Donald Trump and a disaster for Joe Biden. The debate was a disaster. No question about it. You cannot unsee it.

And this immunity decision today, I've spoken to senior Democrats who say this makes Trump even more dangerous if he becomes president. That said, we have for months to go. I know the President Biden has circled the wagons and is saying that he does not want to step aside, but there is also a move among senior Democrats to try to convince him otherwise.

TAPPER: You heard James Carville earlier in the show saying 72 percent of the American people, according to polls, say Joe Biden, should not be in the White House, should not be running for president. Why not give them what they want?

And yet apparently, people in the Biden campaign and the Biden White House don't see it that way at all.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Look, I mean, this is a presidential decision. Only he and his wife, Jill Biden, can make the decision.

Right now, people are giving them space. Some people are giving them space. It was interesting on Friday when former President Barack Obama, initially was not going to say anything by midday, he came out with a supportive statement. So that's what they are trying to do. People who are trying to be supportive of him personally, but there are deep questions politically.

But I'm told that right now. Are there are plans underway to have president Biden appear in a live interview, a high-profile interview to show that he --


ZELENY: -- can do -- unclear about that.


TAPPER: We would love to -- we would love to have you guys. President Biden, if you want to come, sit down here. We'll ask you lots of questions. Maybe some of the ones I asked you last Thursday.

ZELENY: But look, the question is, is he -- you know, his aides point to that North Carolina rally on Friday. But can he do that --

TAPPER: In a teleprompter, in a teleprompter last week.

ZELENY: I'm told it's -- the families inclination is to ride this out. That's by a senior adviser.

However, there are many Democratic donors, many elected officials who are worried about his drag on the Democratic ticket.

TAPPER: He already was a drag.

ZELENY: So, there -- well, they are doing some research to see how this is going in battleground states.

Also, look at this, if Virginia and Minnesota become true battlegrounds because of this information will be taken to him and to see if that sort of offers a change of mind or not. But as of now, he is in this race largely because if not him than who? It opens up a whole Pandora's box, but some people are willing to take that risk.

TAPPER: That's a pretty messianic view of the president. As if not -- I mean, there's lots of people that could run. I mean, I know its short, but I hear a lot of Democratic officials saying they are not confident that they -- whatever lack of confidence they may have had in a Whitmer, Newsom, whatever for or even Vice President Harris that pales in comparison to their fears right now about precedent Biden, they say.

GANGEL: The last 48 hours, I've talked to very senior Democratic sources, allies of Joe Biden, major donors they do not believe he can win against Donald Trump anymore because of the debate. And they are willing to take a risk on who's behind door number two.

TAPPER: So this is a different situation than we've had like for instance, during the bill Clinton administration when there was impeachment. Al Gore was a popular vice president. President Biden for all his flaws is more popular than his vice president, even among African-American voters he's more popular than his vice president.

Would Vice President Harris have enough support within the party and the public to go forward if he were to step down?

ZELENY: That's the central question. One thing she would have those the campaign apparatus and the money. She is part of this ticket. This is not Joe Biden's. This is Joe Biden's and Kamala Harris's.

So she would have a big head start should he decide to say, which again, we have no indication of that, but should he say, look, I'm going to step aside. She would start with this infrastructure and that is one big hurdle for some of the other candidates. So the DNC would get the money that it has raised a separately but the vast majority is the Biden-Harris campaign.


But as for her support, it is a risk. There's no doubt about it, but is it a bigger risk than sticking with Biden? I don't know. She's very popular among African-American women who were the life blood of the Democratic Party.

She'll be appearing at events this weekend and next week where African-American women are at the center of this reproductive rights is her sort of key issue here. That's a central issue for Democrats in the campaign.

So, sure it's a risk. Her popularity I think there has not been quite tested because she's been the vice president. She's not been tested as a presidential candidate.

TAPPER: Thanks to both you. Appreciate it.

One blunt headline in "The New York Times" this weekend read, quote: This isn't all Joe Biden's fault. The journalists behind that headline has been getting -- giving a reality check on the 2024 race for months, and he will join us next.


TAPPER: Continuing with our 2024 lead. A flood of calls pouring in for replacement nominee after President Biden's meandering debate performance last week.

My next guest has been sounding the alarm about whether or not President Biden should be the nominee long before he took the debate stage in Atlanta last week.


Columnist for "The New York Times", Ezra Klein, joins us. He's also host of a very popular and excellent podcast called "The Ezra Klein Show" that we recommend here at the lead.

Ezra, thanks for joining us.

Today, the first lady's defending her husband, the president, in an interview with "Vogue" magazine saying, quote: We will not let those 90 minutes define the four years he's been president. We will continue to fight, unquote.

But you've been making this argument long before those 90 minutes back in February, you wrote a call about it that Democrats have better options. Tell us why you think President Biden should step aside?

EZRA KLEIN, COLUMNIST, NYT OPINION: This is a fallacy that it's about 90 minutes. We've seen that Joe Biden many times before.

Look, I'm not a Joe Biden hater. I like Joe Biden. I do think he's been a good president, though, this tendency to personalize everything that has happened in his presidency, as if he wrote the Inflation Reduction Act by hand with a fountain pen is a little bit ridiculous. But Biden it has been performing poorly in front of cameras for some

time now, right? There was a big course around this when he gave the press conference after the special counsel report, but right around that same time, people now forget it a bit. But if something that was on my mind, but I did that piece in February.

They skipped the Super Bowl interview. Why did they do that? He's been getting fewer interviews and any other president in recent history. He's been getting fewer press conferences than any other recent president in history.

There has been a clear way in which they have not trusted him to be out there in improvised settings off of the teleprompter responding to be given take when things could turn antagonistic. Then in the single biggest showing that we've seen the debate, he fell apart.

There's an issue here whether or not he is capable of performing the job of the presidency, right, performing get in front of cameras on the campaign, and also a question of actual capacity. I mean, the idea this is all completely separate from the job of the presidency, from what he might be like evoking up in the middle of the night in an emergency, it doesn't make sense.

And the fatalism the Democratic Party has fallen into where they're giving the American people, let me keep saying democracies on the ballot, a choice for the American people say, well, we think this person is too old to serve as president, I do believe democracy is on the ballot and this is not important. And you got to find the right person or not.

But this is not -- it's been a very high risk gamble to run him again from the beginning. And now, we're seeing now that risk is playing out.

TAPPER: Yeah, and there was something leaked to, I think, "Axios" over the weekend about, oh, he's -- he's great between 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. as if, you know, al Qaeda and Putin keep Wilmington bankers hours. It's a strange thing to say.

I want to play something from your podcast in February. Let's roll that clip.


KLEIN: I cannot point you, even now, to a moment where Biden faltered in the presidency because his age had slowed him. But here's the thing. I can point you to moments where he's faltering in his campaign for the presidency because his age is slowing him.


TAPPER: And you just talked about this a second ago, but like there are questions now about how capable the president is in doing the job of presidency. Forget whether or not he can win in November and forget the campaign and how good an order he is when he has a teleprompter in front of him. That was a very troubling 90 minutes. KLEIN: This is a very hard thing to parse because like a lot of reporters who is not in the meetings with Joe Biden, I kind of have to go on what people in the White House were protective of him tell me.

But it's also then difficult to see -- well, what is him and what is not ham, right? I mean, the precedent commands a vast architecture, of excellent policy people, of chiefs of staff, of deputy chiefs of staff, I know these people. They are fantastic. They're smart, they're hard-working.

It's going to say it's very hard for me to point to something that -- where he has gone wrong. I don't have full visibility. I'm told by people, the White House, he's good in meetings, although I've also heard some to the contrary, when I ask people who served there have they seen this Joe Biden, the debate Joe Biden before. They told me, of course they have

And, frankly, we've seen that guy in public. So when I say I can point to a huge misstep in the presidency what I mean is that I think this presidency has by and large gone well. I mean, I have my disagreements with it on policy terms, well, with anybody, but I think they've made good decisions.

But the presidency is a they (ph). The thing is the president isn't a "they". That's a person, right? It's one person on a ballot line.

And I don't think it is at this point that while plausible for them to say to people, there was no connection between the Joe Biden may often see in public when he's not on teleprompter, and the Joe Biden, the presidency.

Look, it's not just debate when he gave -- he's getting very few interviews when he gave the interview to Erin Burnett on CNN a couple of months ago, I watched that and it wasn't terrible by any means, wasn't as bad as the debate, but it wasn't strong either. It wasn't clear. He didn't have a strong message on the economy.

At some point, I mean, this is a very hard job, is nothing against Joe Biden to say that it may not be time for him to keep doing that. And then at any rate, their way of testing that out was the debate. That was their -- that was their argument. Nobody made them to negotiate out a June debate.

They did it because they wanted it to change dynamics of the race where he was already losing, already behind and he needed to do something to shake it up. They have their big shot here, right? And he was not able to come through on it.


So somebody got to keep saying it's 90 minutes, everybody knows it's not true.

TAPPER: Yeah. So, you're -- I don't want to insult you by calling you a wonk, but you're a brainy guy. How do you envision --

KLEIN: I don't take it as an insult.

TAPPER: Okay. Good. Well, I meant the word wonk, but what anyway, how do you envision -- but let's say that the President Biden came to you and said, I'm going to announce it, I'm not running for reelection.

What do you recommend is the best way we pick a new nominee and pick a new vice presidential nominee? Have -- and have a successful convention and go on and win in November. What would you tell him?

KLEIN: It's unlikely he's going to come to me for advice.

TAPPER: I doubt it.

KLEIN: But look, I've done -- I think that's --

TAPPER: Less likely he'll come to me, but to you, yes. Go.

KLEIN: Yeah, right. The real argument I made back in February, which I thought was useful was not that he should step aside. Other people have said something like that. The argument I was making and it made a lot of detail is it a convention process is not a crazy or unknown thing for the Democratic Party to go through, that until the early '70s, that was held almost every presidential nominee from roughly the 1860s on was chosen.

It's how Abraham Lincoln was chosen, how FDR was chosen, how JFK was chosen, right? Convention processes or thing we have done for a very long time in American history. Frankly, a lot less unprecedented and running and 81-year-old who is behind in the polls and just got demolished in the debate for reelection.

And so, I did along pockets, Kay Mark (ph), who's an expert on convention rules on this. People go look at, look it up. We also republished it on Tuesday.

But the basic thing is they would have to be a different kind of campaign if he said so I did step aside tomorrow. What would have to happen as it there'd be a lot of town halls in the media with different Democratic candidates would be a lot of meetings at the convention.

And the convention delegates would have to decide who they thought was best suited to run in November. You have to trust the party, which is how this used to work. It is not a huge leap into the unknown.

TAPPER: Fantastic stuff. Ezra Klein, thank you so much. Appreciate it. Thanks for coming on. And be sure to -- when that podcast drops will push it out, too, so our viewers can come check it out as well. Thanks again.

Coming up next, what reporting to prison looks like for at least one MAGA podcaster today. It was Steve Bannon what was his message to Donald Trump as he turned himself in in Danbury, Connecticut, stay with us.


TAPPER: In our law and justice lead, Steve Bannon reported to prison today to begin serving a four-month prison sentence for defying a congressional subpoena.

CNN's Sara Murray was outside the prison in Danbury, Connecticut, earlier today when Bannon arrived and reports that he did not go softly into that good prison.


STEVE BANNON, FORMER TRUMP AIDE: It's time -- it's time for me to surrender up at Danbury.

SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Steve Bannon reporting to federal prison in Connecticut with his usual extremist fanfare.

BANNON: I have not only no regrets I'm actually proud of what I did. I felt terrible if I didn't do it.


BANNON: Yes. I don't mind going to prison today.

MURRAY: The far-right podcast host.

BANNON: You're hosted tonight by federal prisoner number 05635509, formally Stephen K. Bannon.

MURRAY: Joined by a smattering of Trumps supporters, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene, and his daughter, Maureen, in his final send off ahead of his four-month sentence.

MAUREEN BANNON, STEVE BANNON'S DAUGHTER: Steve Bannon's voice will not be silenced while he's in there.

MURRAY: The onetime White House chief strategist was convicted in 2022 of two counts of contempt of Congress, after defying a subpoena from the House committee that investigated the January 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

FORMER REP. LIZ CHENEY (R-WY): He said, all hell would break loose on January 6, and he was right. Ask the over 140 Capitol police officers who fought for hours and were injured.

MURRAY: Bannon tried and failed to postpone his sentence while he appeals his conviction. Now, he's the second former Trump aide to head to prison for contempt of Congress after Peter Navarro began serving his four-month sentence earlier this year.

But now, Bannon is banking on Trump to get reelected in November.

BANNON: The message to President Trump is very simple: fight on.

MURRAY: And promising revenge.

BANNON: I don't give too (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about going to Danbury prison. Okay?


BANNON: Here's what I give (EXPLETIVE DELETED) about, we're going to take down Merrick Garland and Lisa Monaco and the corrupt DOJ and the FBI and all of it.

MURRAY: In custody, Bannon was expected to endure the same treatment as any other prisoner, passing through a metal detector, undergoing a strip search and reporting to his housing unit.

ERIK PRINCE, BANNON SUPPORTER: We will be here in four months to collect him in good health, maybe a little thinner.

MURRAY: But Bannon's universe is shrinking. He won't have access to internet and he'll have a limited number of phone minutes each month. To use in 15 minute increments on a wall mounted phone.

BANNON: I'm totally prepared mentally, physically, everything for prison.

MURRAY: Preparing to turn himself in, Bannon projected an era of defiance insisting his show would go on even though he will be barred from running the business from prison.

BANNON: It's man up. They can't stop this. This is our power. Our power is right here.


MURRAY: Now, Bannon may have rolled in with his most faithful supporters, former New York City Police Commissioner Bernie Kerik, Erik Prince, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. But of course, there are plenty of people here who believed that Steve Bannon is serving justice that is overdue after his conviction, two years ago -- Jake.

TAPPER: Sara Murray in Danbury, Connecticut, thanks so much.

Is President Biden seriously considering any of the calls to move aside and let another Democrat take the top of his party's ticket?


We're back with a person who may be one of the closest to the president outside his family.


TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

This hour, the immunity decision from the U.S. Supreme Court ahead.