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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Biden Vows To Stay In Race Despite Pressure From Some Dems; Legal Experts: Presidential Immunity Won't Extend To White House Staffers; U.K. Polls Close In Minutes In Momentous Election; New Phase In Israel-Hamas Ceasefire Negotiations; "Dangerous & Lethal" Heat Wave Turns California Into Inferno; Whistleblower Claims Boeing Knowingly Used Defective Plane Parts. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 16:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Grilled summer delight, mustards, golden embrace glows, juices drip with sun, street corner sizzle, onions, dance and smoky air, ketchups, sweet farewell.

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: Picnic blanket spread, children's laughter fills the park, hot dog gaze linger.

Cheers, Boris. I cannot believe you're eating. The chili dog's rough. Happy --

SANCHEZ: Here's to all who celebrate the Fourth.

KEILAR: Happy Fourth.



ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: President Biden says he needs more sleep, but is that the right message to calm growing doubts about his campaign?

THE LEAD starts right now.

Preparing for prime time, the White House gearing up for an interview the Biden campaign is banking on as we learn new details about just what the president told Democratic governors behind closed doors when they express concerns about his ability win in November.

Plus, chaos is our friend. That from a person close to Donald Trump on how the former presidents campaign is taking in the Biden crisis. But behind the scenes, just how worried is team Trump about the possibility that Biden drops out?

And weather extremes in the forecast. This holiday weekend, the latest on whether Hurricane Beryl will impact parts of the U.S., while tens of millions suffer under heat alerts, with conditions so intense, they're making wildfires even more destructive.

(MUSIC) HILL: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Erica Hill, in for Jake Tapper on this Fourth of July.

We start today with our 2024 lead. In just a few hours, we'll hear from President Biden, who admits he, quote, screwed up during last week's presidential debate, but insist, quote, we're going to win this election.

Those comments from Biden comes as a growing number of Democrats are publicly raising questions about his ability to beat Donald Trump in November.

Here's Democratic Congressman Jared Huffman on CNN earlier today.


REP. JARED HUFFMAN (D-CA): We need a reset. We need a course correction. We've got to acknowledge that this was not just one bad night. This is a pretty pervasive and widespread perception that's been dragging President Biden down in the polls for many months.


HILL: Concerns that aren't just being expressed on TV, but to the president himself. Maine Governor Janet Mills telling CNN, she told Mr. Biden that some voters and her state have, quote, anxiety over whether he could win.

CNN's Priscilla Alvarez starts off our coverage from the White House with more details on what President Biden is saying behind the scenes about his political future.


PRISCILLA ALVAREZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a White House on cleanup duty as President Joe Biden struggles to convince Democrats that he's staying in the race.

HUFFMAN: We've got to be honest about that. So we need a reset, we need a course correction. We've got to acknowledge that this was not just one bad night.

ALVAREZ: Biden even telling Democratic governors gathered at the White House Wednesday, his plan is to stop scheduling events after 8:00 p.m., so he can get more sleep. That comment, according to sources, leaving some governors privately frustrated despite public support.

GOV. WES MOORE (D), MARYLAND: The president is our nominee. The president is our party leader and the president has told us and he was very clear back there that he is in this to win this.

ALVAREZ: The White House's evolving reasons for Biden's bad debate is also raising eyebrows. Officials now contradicting the White House press secretary saying Biden was seen by his doctor days after the debate. KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: He did not get checked out by the doctor. It's a cold, guys, it's a cold. And I know that it affects everybody differently. We've all had colds and so, though, he was not checked by the doctor.

ALVAREZ: A White House official tells CNN Biden had a, quote, brief check, not a physical after the debate.

In private, Biden has acknowledged that the next few days are critical, packed with a high-profile interview and two stops in battleground states, now, appealing directly to Black voters in a pair of new interviews.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a bad night, and the fact of the matter is that, you know, it was -- I screwed up. I made a mistake. That's 90 minutes on stage. Look, what I've done in 3.5 years.


ALVAREZ (on camera): Now, we will see President Biden here at the White House tonight for the July 4th celebrations. And, of course, the president will also be joined by Vice President Kamala Harris and her team has really stayed the course, continuing to back President Biden and make it clear that they are just spelling playing replacement theories and also staying very close to the president himself.

HILL: Priscilla, there's also, as I understand it been a big change for President Biden's first major interview since the debate. What is that?

ALVAREZ: That's right. ABC is going to now play this debate in full Friday evening.


That, of course, a bit of a change from their previous roll-out plans, but it is an important interview and the campaign is really putting a lot of pressure and eyes on it. They want to show and this is what advisors had been contemplating before this was scheduled, that the president is energized, but that North Carolina rally that happened after the debate, that it wasn't a fluke.

And so, this will be an opportunity for the president to show that in this prime time interview. Of course, all eyes will be on it, including those of many Democrats who are still raising a lot of questions as to whether it makes sense to have them as the nominee in this very heated election season -- Erica.

HILL: Yeah. Democrats, many voters, a lot of eyeballs as you point out.

Priscilla, appreciate it. Thank you.

Well, former New York Democratic Congressman Max Rose joins me now, along with CNN political commentator Scott Jennings. Happy Fourth to both of you, my friends. Good to have you here.

Let's look at where we are on this July 4th, the day before that big interview, this new reporting that we have that President Biden, Max, told governors he's going to stop doing events after 8:00 because he wants to be able to get more sleep. That may be exactly what the president needs to do. It certainly does not though telegraph vigor.

Are you surprised at all that he is saying that out loud, especially actually in such an important meeting?

MAX ROSE (D), FORMER U.S. REPRESENTATIVE, NEW YORK: No, no, I'm not surprised about that. I mean, if anything, we've seen a massive staff failure on the part of the Biden team. Part and parcel of that has been pushing the president too hard. In many ways, they've taken their Obama playbook and just applied it to a man who's 81-years-old.

But you know, when you take a step back here everybody wants one thing from President Biden as it pertains to the Democratic camp because they all, everyone myself included desperately wants him to be the nominee because we're so proud of his record and his service and believe in his leadership. We just need him to show that he is not in some type of irreversible cognitive decline, and any effort that he can make in terms of engaging with the press corps, with voters, with stakeholders, whatever it might be, that's what people are yearning for.

Nobody cares what time he goes to bed. It has zero impact on any of this.

HILL: Well, I just want to follow up with you here because there's also some additional reporting from the New York time about that meeting. Governor Josh Green of Hawaii, who is also physician, asked Mr. Biden questions about the status of his health. Mr. Biden replying his health was fine. It's just my brain, he added, a remarked some of the room took as a joke, but at least one governor did not and was puzzled by it.

Jen O'Malley Dillon, Mr. Biden's campaign chair, saying in a statement that he had said, all kidding aside, a recollection confirmed by another person who was briefed on that meeting. She went on to say he was clearly making a joke.

I mean, I live by this. Sometimes you just got to laugh at things, but does it concern you at all that there seems to be -- look, Joe Biden's known for his gaffes on the campaign trail that can endear him to voters. This may not be the moment for it.

ROSE: No, I don't think that that's a gaffe. It's just a joke that doesn't translate as it pertains to using governors as your intermediaries. But this does get to the crux of the problem. That it has been six days-ish since the debate, and the American people, as well as stakeholders in the Democratic Party are really yearning for Joe Biden to communicate directly with the American people, not because we all do not want him to be the nominee, but because of exactly the opposite. And where you're seeing the most sense of urgency here is actually from the group of elected officials exactly opposite that of the incumbent Democratic governors, that are members of Congress and difficult districts who are up in a few short months.

Now, these governors, they're dilettantes at this point from a political sense of the word data. They don't have to stand for election for years to come. They're not feeling that sense of urgency, but members of Congress in those tough races, they need Joe Biden to speak directly to the American people and that shouldn't be too much to ask because again, they want him to succeed and desperately want him to be the nominee.

HILL: Scott, I want to bring you on this. And let's -- let's do me a favor, my friend, put the partisan hat aside for a minute.

You are a comms guy here. There is so much riding on this interview tomorrow with ABC, and I would argue to the White House and the campaign have really added to that pressure that they're putting on themselves. So in terms of prepping the president for this interview, how would you do that? What do you think he needs to accomplish tomorrow night?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I don't think he can accomplish in one interview everything that he needs to accomplish because everything we now know with the debate last Thursday and all the reporting that's come out, you can't put this toothpaste back in the tube.


This was not one bad night. This was not an anomaly. This was not a mistake, as Joe Biden has called it. He is obviously in cognitive decline.

There's reporting from Olivia Nuzzi at "New York Magazine" today, our friend here, Olivia, people are walking away from interactions with the president wondering, is he currently the acting president? And shocked, shocked if the condition he's in.

So tomorrow in an interview, what he needs to be able to do is to coherently answer questions without notes and sort of a back-and-forth fashion in the way that we're doing right now. He has not been able to do this for a long time. The White House wouldn't even put him up for the Super Bowl interview this year because obviously now we know why, because he can't.

So I don't know that there is actually anything he can do to reverse what we've already learned from the reporting, which is that the president may not be up to the job today. All these Democrats, by the way, who think he should drop out of the race. What they're actually saying is if they stop and think about it, he really ought to resign the office because if he's not competent to run and be president in January, he's not competent to do it today.

So, comms -- this is not a comms problem, Erica. I'm sorry to say because when you're a hammer, the whole world's a nail. This is not a comms problem.

This is a candidate problem and it is a presidential problem right now.

HILL: Let me ask you quickly on this. Congressman Jared Huffman, who was on earlier today on CNN, he also noted that at this point, and I'm paraphrasing here, that this should not be -- he was urging Democrats to take a step back, that this is not a moment to be sentimental, that this is not about proving loyalty to someone that this is bigger than one person in this moment.

Is it your sense that more Democrats are starting to feel that same way as Congressman Huffman, that this is not really about Joe Biden, this is about a much bigger issue?

JENNINGS: Well, I think there are Democrats who have lots of feelings.

Number one, there probably are some that are worried about the country and worried about whether Joe Biden is running the White House right now. And if he's not, who is? Legitimate question to have no matter whether you're Republican or a Democrat.

Number two, I'm sure they're politically self-interested. The latest polling across the board has Joe Biden down six points to Donald Trump. That's landslide territory.

He'll get wiped out. The House will get wiped out. The Senate will get wiped out. And I'm sure there's a bunch of Democrats out there that don't want to go down with his ship.

So I think it's legitimate to have concerns about the state of the government today, who's running it? Can he continue to serve?

And also to worry about your own skin. I mean, there are politicians after all. It's what they do best.

So I think they're having both -- both fears right now.

HILL: Max, you told me last thing that every day they don't do something clearly that an obvious that is repeated, right? That they don't have the president out there, that they don't show he can handle these events. It could look like they are lying or hiding something.

Do you think that message is getting through to the White House, to the campaign?

ROSE: Oh, gosh, if it's not getting through to them at this point, they all need to quit their jobs.

HILL: But do you see evidence that it's getting through?

ROSE: Yeah. Look, I think that you see evidence with the George Stephanopoulos interview coming up. You see evidence with the announcement of additional campaign stops.

But I think everyone collectively knows that it's -- you know, it's not happening fast enough or quick enough. You know, the Democrats universally feel at this point, yes, there's -- there's nervousness about Joe Biden situation, but there's also a really sincere anger at the fact that we are not talking about Donald Trump and MAGA extremism, Donald Trump's incredibly poor and sickening performance during this debate.

And all of that is a consequence of the president's performance. And we just want to bring the conversation back to where that needs to be, this existential threat to the future of the United States of America. And the only way to do that is to markedly change the conversation, turn the page and they're only going to do that with a change in campaign tactics.

HILL: Well, we will see if that happens.

Former Congressman Max Rose, Scott Jennings, nice to see you both. Thank you.

JENNINGS: Thank you.

ROSE: Happy Fourth.

HILL: You, too.

Just ahead here, an honest assessment of the Biden campaign from a Democratic congressman. Does he share the fears that we have heard from some of his colleagues over the last few days?

Plus, Hurricane Beryl downgraded today as it moves toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Could it also be on track to impact parts of the U.S. Gulf Coast in a matter of days? We have that latest track for you.



HILL: We are back with our 2024 lead and the Biden campaign's preparations for a high-stakes primetime interview, which they're hoping will begin to allay concerns following the president's poor debate performance.

Joining me now to discuss, Democratic Congressman Ami Bera of California.

Sir, good to have you with us on this Fourth of July.

I know you said your advice to concern Democrats is a little bit of patience. Let's wait a few weeks, let's see what happens. What specifically are you looking for? What do you need to see from President Biden in those weeks?

REP. AMI BERA (D-CA): Well, thanks, Erica. And Happy Fourth of July as well.

You know, I mean, there's a bit of urgency. I heard Max Rose talk about the importance of President Biden getting out there, allaying fears, concerns. I think the interviewee tomorrow is incredibly important. I think the Biden administration, you know, this has been a great president. So, this isn't about his ability to govern a country.

That said, running for office is different and we should be talking about Donald Trump right now. And what you said in the debate. But unfortunately we're not.

So I think President Biden's got to get out there. He's got to do campaign events. He's got to do interviews. He should come on CNN and other networks and answer all these questions because if he doesn't do that, I think it becomes really hard to win this election.

HILL: I will say -- you said it's not about running the country. For some voters, what we are hearing, and even I will say from some donors that I have spoken to and even some Democrats in the last few days, in part, it is about running the country. It is not for them simply about can he win in November, but can he then govern for another four years?

BERA: Well, if I look at his record over the past three-and-a-half years, this has been a really substantial president. He's intervened when he needed to.


He got the security supplemental done. He's passed the must do legislation through Congress, on October 3rd -- April 13th, when Israel what was attacked by Iran, you know, he didn't hesitate, he did what he had to do to protect Israel. He's holding a coalition together against Ukraine. He's helping try to prevent a war in Asia.

So I don't have any concerns about how he's governing the country and helping protect the world. That said, that is different than running a campaign. And he has to go out there and inspire folks.

It can't just be about voting against Donald Trump. It's got to be about saying, yeah, you know what Joe Biden can do this for another four years.

HILL: Some of those concerns have been expressed to me are less about how he has governing and what he has accomplished, but whether he is fit to continue doing the job of president. And to that point, both CNN and "The Washington Post" are reporting some donors are actually growing concerned at the president's increased use of teleprompter at small events, small fundraising events with maybe just a couple of dozen people.

Does that concern you at all?

BERA: Yeah. I don't think that's the best look. And again, if he's not out there on its feet answering questions will watch the interview tomorrow, I think it is hard to win. What is going to already was going to be a very close election without doing big rallies, getting out there campaigning and showing the vigor that is necessary to run this country.

So, you know, I think he's got to do that if chooses to run.

HILL: You're up for reelection this year. Are you concerned that President Biden at the top of the ticket could have a negative impact on your race?

BERA: I'm not. And actually for a lot of the frontline Democrats, they were already going to run and saying, look, Donald Trump could get elected. We need to win the House of Representatives and you're seeing donors and others really understand that argument much more acutely now.

You've got to have a check Donald Trump, should he get elected. That said, we've got to win the White House. I don't want to go through another second Trump term.

HILL: If for some reason, President Biden decided to step aside, do you believe that spot at the top of the ticket should automatically go to the vice president or should there be as has been proposed by some folks, almost a truncated primary?

BERA: Yeah. I know the vice president very well. We're about Californians. I think she's ready to do the job and uncertainly, I think is very capable of doing the job.

She does have a lot of natural advantages because she steps in and picks up the whole Biden-Harris campaign apparatus. That said, you know, there are a lot of other legitimate candidates that are out there.

It could get messy though. This is uncharted territory. So the easiest thing is take the candidate that's qualified and Vice President Harris and build on that. But again, that's something that has to be discussed after President Biden decided what he's going to do.

HILL: As we wait for this interview, as we wait to see how things play out, just really quickly, I want to get your take.

Congressman Huffman also said earlier today on CNN that you need to step back and look at this. It shouldn't be about sentimentality, it shouldn't be about just one person and maybe loyalty that this is bigger than Joe Biden. This really needs to be about the party.

Do you feel that's where your party is at in this moment?

BERA: I agree with what my colleague Jared Huffman said. This is not about Joe Biden. This is about the country. This is about a democracy, and this is the who gives us the best chance to continue doing the work that we've been doing the last 3-1/2 years, but also to protect us from what would be chaos in a Donald Trump presidency.

HILL: Democratic Congressman Ami Bera of California, good to have you here. Thank you. Happy Fourth.

BERA: Great. Thank you. Happy Fourth.

HILL: Well, Donald Trump maybe feeling a little bit better about his legal future after the Supreme Court's decision on immunity this week, what about his former aides though, and staffers who we're also facing charges in numerous cases. Could that decision impact them? That's next.



HILL: While the recent Supreme Court decision on immunity may be very beneficial to former President Trump, his advisers, it turns out, may not be so lucky.

In fact, legal experts warn that down, the road the ruling could create a pretty awkward dynamic between a president and the president's staff.

CNN's Zach Cohen is in Washington with more.

So, Zach, in theory here, if a president were to ask, so what on the staff to, say, set up a phone call, to plan a military strike on an opponent, the president in that case might be safe. But the staff could potentially face some real legal jeopardy.

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN REPORTER: Yeah. Erica, legal experts are saying that they're -- the Supreme Court ruling offered no added protections for those advisors who carry out a president's directive, which could really complicate the relationship between a future president who now enjoys a broad immunity from criminal conviction and or criminal prosecution. And his staff who have to actually go about doing the things that he orders and the hypothetical that you mentioned about a military strike is actually something that the liberal justices on the Supreme Court raised specifically and raised concerns about in their dissent.

Justice Sotomayor wrote in her dissent, quote, when he uses the official powers in any way under the majority's reasoning, he now will be insulated from criminal prosecution, orders the Navy SEAL Team Six to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune.

And, of course, she's referring to a future president there. But Chief Justice Roberts, who wrote for the majority in his opinion, really dismissed those concerns. He wrote the dissent's positions in the end boil down to ignoring the Constitution's separation of powers, and the court's precedent. And instead, fearmongering on the basis of extreme hypotheticals about a future or the president feels, quote, empowered to violate federal criminal law.

COHEN: So, Justice Robert's clearly writing his opinion with an eye towards, you know, the situation we faced with Donald Trump and a president facing criminal prosecution, wouldn't happen in the future.


The liberal justice is not so sure.

HILL: Zach Cohen, appreciate it. Thank you.

Also with me this hour, Tom Dupree. He was, of course, the former principal deputy assistant attorney general under President George W. Bush.

Tom, good to see you.

So, walk me through here, the kind of legal protections that aides to the president do have.

TOM DUPREE, FORMER PRINCIPAL DEPUTY ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL, GEORGE W. BUSH ADMINISTRATION: Right. Well, I think the report is right. And that the Supreme Court made very clear that the immunity extends to the president into the president alone. So I do think that the staff or anyone who is hypothetically order to carry out some sort of criminal activity would not have the same sort of protection.

The Supreme Court -- it was very clear that the president occupies a unique role in our constitutional structure. And so, I think in a future presidency, if you were a staff member who is presented with legal order, either, you would not follow it, or you could also seek guidance from various lawyers within either the Justice Department or the White House, who often can and do counsel staff members about the legality of conduct. They're proposed plans of action.

HILL: There's also this question of evidence which has come up so much since the ruling here. So would this then limit the scope of evidence that prosecutors could use if in fact they were trying White House aides, because if the president was involved in that evidence, how does it work?

DUPREE: Yeah, it's a good question, but I don't quite see the Supreme Court's ruling reaching that far. In other words, I don't see it as saying if you had a prosecution of a White House official who carried out some illegal act at the presidents orders that you couldn't get in evidenced of the president's illegal acts. I think that the protection again is really confined to the president, and in that hypothetical, I think you probably could get in evidence the presidents official acts if you're using it to prosecute a staff member.

HILL: All right. Well, let's see whether or not it needs to be used.

Tom Dupree, good to see you. Happy Fourth.

DUPREE: Thanks.

HILL: Thanks.

We're following a number of major headlines around the globe today.

Let's kick things off in the UK where polls are about to close in what is a highly consequential election, one that is likely to reshape British politics. We're going to take you to London, next.

Plus, a significant new phase in ceasefire negotiations between Israel and Hamas. What Israel's prime minister did today to move talks forward?



HILL: In our world lead, as America celebrates its independence from Britain, the United Kingdom is in the midst of what could be a seismic political shift. In moments, voting centers will close across the UK. Polls show British voters are likely to boot the conservative party from their 14-year spot at top the British political thrown.

CNN's Matthew Chance is outside number 10 Downing Street.

So, Matthew, what are voters saying today?

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN CHIEF GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, I think that voters, actually as they go to the polls in these elections, which likely to be the seismic and momentous lights lead to a big shift in power in British politics are pretty far tired and fed up with the conservative party. It's been in power for the past 14 years and the opinion polls going into this election, pretty much reflect that.

We're talking about predictions of a landslide victory for the opposition Labour Party, a victory so big, just give you some context, it wouldn't just be the biggest of Labour Party, but the biggest for any single party in the modern, so the modern period for the last 200 years or so.

And so we're talking about a seismic shift to the left, the Labour Party is left of center party in British politics. Remember, Erica, its been a very turbulent period in Britain over the past 14 years. There's been five prime ministers, which is a lot for that period. There's been a Scottish referendum which almost tore the country apart. There's been Brexit, which force Britain to leave the European Union. There's been the COVID, pandemic has been a cost-of-living crisis. And British people are pretty disillusioned with actually with both the main political, both the conservative party and the Labour Party in this country, which is why I think some of the smaller parties as well, the Liberal Democrats, the Reform Party, the Green Party, they're likely to see increased share of the national vote as well. So that could complicate the election calculus at the end of this.

But yeah, a very momentous election all the opinion polls pointing to a landslide victory for the opposition Labour Party and a catastrophic defeat frankly, for the ruling conservatives.

HILL: So, ultimately, if this all goes as we're hearing it will, what does this transfer of power look like?

CHANCE: It's going to be very quick. I mean, in Britain, it happens at a dizzying pace. I mean, once the votes are all counted and we're talking about over the hours over tonight, so by tomorrow morning here, local time by Friday, you know, we'll have a new prime minister in this office. Number 10 Downing Street behind me is official residence.

So what will happen is that the Rishi Sunak, current prime minister, loses. He'll come out here early in the morning. He'll make a quick speech to the reporters. And then he'll go off to Buckingham Palace to offer his resignation.

Then, the -- you know, if Labour Party leader wins, Keir Starmer, he'll go to Buckingham palace, be asked by the king to form a new government. He will come back here by the end of the morning, we'll have a new prime minister here at Number 10.

HILL: It is a dizzying speed. We certainly don't move that quickly here in the U.S., do we?

Matthew Chance, outside Number 10 for us, thank you.

Also in our world lead, significant movement today in ceasefire and hostage release talks between Israel and Hamas. An Israeli source telling CNN the two sides do appear to be on the brink of a framework agreement for a deal.

CNN's Jeremy Diamond is in Jerusalem at this hour.

So, Jeremy, walk us through this new phase of negotiations and what more we know about what could be coming?


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erica, this is extremely significant. I mean, for months now, these two sides have been negotiating on the framework of an agreement, trying to reach that framework agreement before moving on to discussing the details of this agreement. The sequencing of the actual implementation of this deal, the number and the types of Palestinian prisoners, the identities of those prisoners who would be released in change for the hostages.

Until now, they have left those details aside, but now, today, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, agreeing to send a delegation led by the Mossad Director David Barnea to Doha, Qatar, to begin engaging in those detailed negotiations.

And what that tells us is that it appears that Israel and Hamas now appear to be in a place where they have reached a basics sense of agreements on a framework to move forward and actually try and strike a final deal. We know that this evening, the Israeli Prime Minister and President Biden spoke on the phone, and in the words of the White House following that call they say that these, this next phase of negotiations will be an effort to, quote/unquote, close out the deal.

And so, that is really where we are now. The two sides are going to try over the next its two to three weeks according to a source who I spoke with to work out the details of this negotiate, the implementation of it, and to see if indeed they can get to a final agreement. So we could very much -- very well be in a situation in just a matter of a few weeks, where Israel and Hamas are able to actually agree to a final ceasefire and hostage release deal.

But that is a big if because the details that they are going to have to negotiate, the implementation of this deal, the devil will indeed be in the details. And so while this is certainly the most progress, the furthest that we have seen these two sides get since the last ceasefire agreement fell apart last December, there certainly remains a lot of work to be done and we cannot say yet that this deal is finalized, nor that the outcome of these negotiations to come over the next couple of weeks is guaranteed -- Erica.

HILL: We know how delicate this has been, even just getting to this point.

I'm curious, Jeremy, what would this mean for Israel's actions outside of Gaza? I'm talking specifically about activity in West Bank, for example.

DIAMOND: Well, there's no question that this will have massive ramifications. Actually before the West Bank, I would point you to the north of Israel where Israel and Hezbollah have been trading increasingly hostile acts -- barrages of rocket fire coming from Hezbollah today, more than 200 missiles being fired at the Golan Heights in the north, Israel -- firing launching a series of airstrikes in southern Lebanon today and last night all of this coming as Israel hit a senior Hezbollah commander yesterday in Lebanon.

So, certainly, there is a ratcheting up of tensions once again between those two sides. And indeed a Gaza ceasefire agreement could be what unlocks an agreement between Israel and Hezbollah because Hezbollah has been saying they're firing these rockets, firing these missiles and drones because of this war that is going on in Gaza, they began firing rockets into Israel on October 8th.

And so, certainly, if there is a ceasefire in Gaza, that could open the way for calm across the region, at least for now -- Erica.

HILL: A really important developments.

Jeremy, I appreciate it. Thank you.

Fireworks are as much a part of July 4th. That is flags and maybe hot dogs. But the extreme heat so many Americans are experiencing on this Independence Day could add extra concern to those fireworks, and the threat to spark even more wildfires. More on that just ahead.



HILL: In our world lead, a record-setting Hurricane Beryl continuing to war across the Caribbean today, it's already been blamed for at least nine deaths. Officials in Grenada say 98 percent of the buildings on that island were damaged or destroyed. Now the storm has recently been downgraded to a category two. That means winds up to 110 miles per hour. It is, of course, now heading, you see the path there, heading toward Mexico. As for the mainland U.S., it isn't expected to be severely impacted, but beachgoers should remain cautious, remain on guard for rip currents through the holiday weekend.

Wildfires, meantime, in the U.S. continuing to spread across northern California as that state is just sweltering under extreme temperatures. The Weather Service calling this an exceptionally dangerous and lethal heat wave. It's poised to set hundreds of records.

And there's no end in sight. We're talking about temperatures of 100 to 120 degrees. That wasn't because of Californians remain actually evacuated because of the wildfire concerns.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Oroville, California. Officials there canceled the town's fireworks celebration.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Burned down homes and cars left in the wake of a fast-moving wildfire in Oroville, California.

The Thompson Fire has burned thousands of acres as of Thursday, with about 12,000 people still under evacuation orders.

The fire raging by night, then smoldering and flaring up under triple- digit temperatures.

Eleven firefighters were hurt fighting the blaze, three when a fire truck rolled over, the rest from the heat, all are expected to recover.

NICK SCHULER, CAL FIRE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: It's a difficult condition that they face.

ELAM: Four structures, at least two of them houses, have been destroyed by the fire, more than 12,000 remain at risk and high winds and the damage can be random. In this neighborhood, homes like this one still standing, while feet away, fire scorched ground, crews still putting out hotspots.

This fire season has been exceptional. More than 130,000 acres burned, 1,600 percent increase from last year.

SCHULER: This winter, we had a significant amount of rain, but with rain brings growth.


And the challenge with that is that fuels and vegetation continues to dry out.

ELAM: What's helping California firefighters? New technology, allowing helicopters to fight the fires at night.

SCHULER: The ability to battle fires at night allows us to gain the upper hand when normal conditions fire activity decreases at night.

ELAM: Now, the concern, fireworks. This video showing how a firework started a three-acre fire in San Francisco in a matter of minutes.


ELAM: That is why officials are asking people to not pop off any fireworks at all because it's just too dry, too hot, and it's not just the air temperature, it's also the ground. Those Cal Fire officials told me that tarmac there, 150 degrees at one point earlier this week, just dangerous.

HILL: Wow, yeah, it really is. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Be sure to stay with CNN. We are actually waiting to hear from President Biden set to speak at the White House to mark the Fourth of July holiday.

We'll be right back.



HILL: A CNN exclusive report revealing damning documents and hearing from a key whistleblower for the first time on television. So this centers on Boeing at a critical time for the aviation giant, and highlights concerns over the safety of airplane parts.

Pete Muntean reports now that the whistleblower claims Boeing employees actually pulled plane parts from the scrap heap, potentially endangering passengers and flight staff safety to meet the tight production schedules, and turn higher profits.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Everett, Washington is a Boeing company town, then Merle Meyers was a company man. A 30- year veteran of Boeing, Meyers says his job as a quality control manager put his kids through college.

It is a family tradition. His late mother was a Boeing inspector, able to unilaterally decide if a new airplane just off the factory line was fit to fly.

What would she think about what is happening at Boeing?

MERLE MEYERS, BOEING WHISTLEBLOWER: She'd be absolutely livid.

MUNTEAN: Meyers new allegations detailed an elaborate off-the-books practice centering on parts deemed not safe to put in new airplanes. He is the latest whistleblower to come forward with claims of quality control lapses at Boeing.

This is his first TV interview inspired by the January 5th door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9. Spray painted red, bad parts deemed not up to Boeing's standards are taken from Boeing's Everett plant and sent to its scrap facility in Auburn.

But then one day, in 2015, Meyers says a crate of bad parts were improperly sent back from Auburn to Boeing's Everett factory.

Meyers alleges the practice continued for years, telling that more than 50,000 parts escaped Boeing quality control.

Fifty-thousand parts?

MEYERS: That's what we counted at the time.

MUNTEAN: It seems like a heck of a lot.

MEYERS: It is a heck of a lot, indeed.

MUNTEAN: What does that say to you?

MEYERS: Well, that says it puts people's lives at risk, not just passengers, but flight crews. And a lot of these are flight critical parts that made it back into the production system.

MUNTEAN: Company emails show Meyers repeatedly flagged the issue to Boeing's corporate investigations team, pointing out what he says were repeat violations of Boeing's safety rules. But Meyers insists investigators routinely failed to enforce those rules.

In a 2022 email, he wrote that Boeing investigators "ignored eyewitness observations and the hard work done to ensure the safety of future passengers and crew."

Why would they do this?

MEYERS: Schedule, the schedule.

MUNTEAN: To get planes out the door, to make money.


MUNTEAN: Meyers believes he was forced out of Boeing last year and is concerned there are still problems at the company.

MEYERS: Well, I think they need to punish, they need to fire people that blatantly violate the process and endanger the flying public. That's a huge problem. And a core requirement of a quality system is to keep bad parts and good parts apart.

MUNTEAN: In a statement, Boeing says it "encourages employees to speak up and that, to ensure the safety, quality and conformance of our products, we investigate all allegations of improper behavior, such as unauthorized movement of parts or mishandling of documents. We then work diligently to address them and make improvements."

Meyers says he is coming forward now because of the pride he has in Boeing. He goes so far as to call it a wonderful company, one he says has been going astray and is in desperate need of change.

MEYERS: But you have to care. Leadership has to care to do that. But if you can't even keep parts segregated from good parts, what else aren't you doing right?


MUNTEAN (on camera): Now, CNN has not been able to independently verify the allegations made by Meyers. In its statement, Boeing did not address his claims specifically.

One mystery here is that we do not have an exact accounting of where these parts may have ended up. Meyers says they ranged from superficial to safety critical, all the way to the way wing flaps required for landing. A whistleblower worries that those junk parts ended up on new planes that were delivered to airlines over the last decade or so. That and the recent issues at Boeing is why a whistleblower is speaking up now -- Erica.

HILL: Yeah, that is really something.

Pete, appreciate the reporting. Thank you.

Well, on a much lighter note for you, there's a new hot dog eating champion this July 4th. Patrick Bertoletti won the annual Nathans contest at Coney Island, scarfing down 58 hot dogs and buns in just ten minutes. This is Bertoletti's first win in nine tries, may have been helped perhaps by the absence of the 16th time champ Joey Chestnut, who, of course, was barred from competing this year after he signed a deal with a plant-based foods company, Impossible Foods.

On the women's side today, Miki Sudo won, setting a new world record, eating 51 hot dogs and buns.

Tonight, you want to avoid the big crowds and the heat, stay inside, join us right here on CNN. "The fourth in America" coming your way lives starting at 7:00. We have fireworks from across the country, major musical performances, Bebe Rexha, T-Pain, The Killers, Ashanti and more. It all starts at 7:00 Eastern right here.

Happy Fourth.

The news continues right now on CNN with Pamela Brown in for Wolf Blitzer in "THE SITUATION ROOM".