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Trump Aims To Carry Debate Momentum Into Critical Campaign Stretch; Pressure On Biden To Drop Out After Shaky Debate Performance; U.S. Military Bases Across Europe On Heightened Alert. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 01, 2024 - 07:30   ET




JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: This morning, with so much focus and, frankly, drama surrounding President Biden's political future, how is the Trump campaign handling it?

CNN's Alayna Treene is with us now. What are you hearing this morning, Alayna?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, John, look, there were actually several conversations heading into the debate last week among Trump's team about how to manage potential fallout from the debate should Donald Trump do not as well as they were hoping. Of course, the opposite happened.

And now, Donald Trump's campaign is really trying to keep as much attention as possible on Biden's lackluster debate performance and capitalize on it, including both politically and financially, as they head into a critical next few weeks.

And look, we kind of saw this play out over the weekend. Many of Donald Trump's top surrogates were spanning the airwaves trying to keep the momentum up from the debate. It was actually a pretty stark contrast to watching Democrats who were trying to dismiss and explain away some of what happened with Biden's performance over the weekend.

Take a listen to what Trump surrogates were saying.


SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R-SC): He's a decent man. He's a failed president. He is compromised. That's the storyline here.

DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: The president --

GRAHAM: That's what the world saw.

BASH: Yeah.

GRAHAM: A compromised president. SEN. J.D. VANCE (R-OH): There was -- there was this 24-hour period where effectively, everyone honest that there was an incredible contrast between Donald Trump's energy and command of the facts and Joe Biden's obvious inability to do the job as president. And now, of course, we've trained this new media cycle where folks are trying to run cover.

GOV. DOUG BURGUM, (R) NORTH DAKOTA: And then, all of America saw it. And you know who else saw it?


BURGUM: Our adversaries saw it.


BURGUM: Putin saw it. Xi saw it.

WELKER: Well --

BURGUM: The ayatollah saw it.


TREENE: Now, John, as you can see, many Republicans -- particularly, those backing Trump and his fiercest defenders -- were relishing the criticism being aimed at Biden's team and around Biden's performance.

But look, this celebratory language is likely to change as early as today. At 10:00 a.m. we're going to see the Supreme Court deliver their final rulings of this period, including this massive blockbuster decision on whether or not Donald Trump had "full immunity" while president. That's likely to very much upend this rhetoric around how wonderful Donald Trump did at the debate.

We're also, of course, looking ahead to next week. He has his sentencing on July 11 -- another crucial date that could really change a lot of his candidacy. And then, of course, also, he has the convention later this month.

But hanging around all of this is also when Donald Trump is going to announce who his vice-presidential pick is, and that's something that I'm told Donald Trump's team is kind of reserving to -- a card they're going to play when they know they need another distraction as well. All of these moments are also key fundraising moments for them as well.

So this is likely to change as early as today -- this celebratory rhetoric from the Republicans -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Alayna Treene. Thank you very much for that.

So this morning, new Republican -- new reporting, I should say, that elected Democrats are taking the calls for President Biden to give up his campaign. They're taking that discussion seriously.

Listen to what Congressman Jamie Raskin said about this.



REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): There are very honest and serious and rigorous conversations taking place at every level of our party. We're having a serious conversation about what to do.


BERMAN: With us now, Sarah Matthews, former deputy press secretary for the Trump administration. Matt Bennett, former White House deputy assistant for the Clinton administration. And, Matt Gorman, former senior adviser for Tim Scott's presidential campaign.

Matt Bennett, I'm going to start with you because among the four of us, you're the guy who matters here because the activity is within the Democratic Party -- what Democrats are going to do now. You just heard Congressman -- no, Matt Bennett, not Matt Gorman. You just heard Congressman Jamie Raskin talking about the fact there are serious discussions going on. What discussions? Give us a window as to the discussions that are happening right now among members and among serious Democrats this morning.

MATT BENNETT, EXECUTIVE VICE PRESIDENT OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND CO- FOUNDER, THIRD WAY, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST, FORMER WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY ASSISTANT, CLINTON ADMINISTRATION (via Webex by Cisco): Well, it's just undeniable. We've been hearing it all weekend that people are really worried because the debate performance was obviously extraordinarily bad. All first -- all presidents have bad first debates -- all of them going way back -- but this was about the worst that we can remember.

And so, it did trigger a lot of discussion. Obviously, a lot in the press and then a lot private among Democrats about what to do.

If the president continues, I think there is unanimity among Democrats that he needs to be extraordinarily aggressive -- much more aggressive than he has been by getting out in front of the public. Doing town hall meetings with voters. Doing sit-downs with reports. Doing television interviews. Doing press conferences.

He needs to prove that was one bad night and not a pattern. And so far, at least, we just don't know which it is. And I think that is what is triggering a lot of conversation among Democrats today.

BERMAN: And Matt Bennett, just to be clear here, blaming the press or blaming the pundits, saying this isn't what voters are talking about. You guys are all focused on the wrong thing. Does that really address the issue, Matt?

BENNETT: No. It -- they may be right. I mean, there is some snap polling that shows that there's a lot more chatter among people like us than there is among normal voters. And it may be that the debate did not move the needle very much for ordinary voters, and that will be a significant finding if that turns out to be true.

But look, they can't deny what we all saw. It was a very, very bad debate and it played to Biden's weakness. So he has got to get out there and prove that it was a one-off bad night and not what -- the kind of thing we're going to see going forward.

BERMAN: You know, Sarah Matthews, all three of you have been staffers before in various offices, whether it be the White House, or Senate, or House, or campaign offices.

So, Sarah, over the last few days when you've heard people publicly saying oh, the president was ill-prepared, it was Ron Klain, it was Bob Bear (sic), it was others who let him down -- Bauer, I should say -- let him down in the preparation, how does that strike you?

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: Yeah, it seems like right now Democrats are just trying to throw any excuse at the wall and see what will stick. They've said that it was because Biden had a cold or he was overprepared. They blamed the staff.

But at the end of the day, the buck stops with the president. There's no one to blame other than President Biden for his poor debate performance. It wasn't just one bad night. I think that this follows a trend that we've seen of his diminishing decline. And it was obvious to the millions of voters who tuned in, which is unfortunate because obviously, the Biden campaign were the people who asked for this debate because they wanted to switch that narrative. And it seems like they might have done irreversible damage by having the debate.

BERMAN: Matt Gorman, sorry for the false start there before. So many Matts --


BERMAN: -- on this panel this morning.

Nikki Haley was -- talked to The Wall Street Journal this morning. She -- first of all, it was news to me. She called Donald Trump, I guess, a week and a half ago to talk about the fact that she had said that she was voting for him. We didn't learn much more about that conversation.

But one of the things Nikki Haley told The Wall Street Journal was to Republicans, be careful what you wish for here. You might get a younger opponent for Donald Trump to run against and that's going to be bad for you -- Republicans.

What do you think about that, Matt?

GORMAN: I think, first of all, to your point before, the voters are kind of on the leading edge of this. They saw this I think before many in the media and pundits were willing to admit this. And I think going into last Thursday night they kind of weren't as surprised by this. And I think the other point -- look, realistically, there is no other option besides Kamala Harris if Joe Biden were to step aside. Breezed (PH) on complications, but when you talk about certainly the money that the Biden campaign raised, the only person that can legally go to is Kamala Harris.

And also, in this Democratic Party, there's no way you're going to bypass an African American -- the first woman to hold that job for some white male governor like Gavin Newsom. It's just simply not going to happen. The idea that white knight, no pun intended, is going to come out of nowhere is just fallacy.


BERMAN: So, Matt Bennett, what about what Matt Gorman is saying right there?

BENNETT: Well, it is true that there are some very significant logistical hurdles to anyone else becoming the nominee. It can be done, and the money can be spent to support another candidate, but the time is very short. Remember, we don't have all the to the convention. There's going to be a roll call vote of the delegates in early August because there's a glitch with the Ohio ballot. So it is -- it would be an extraordinary political feat to try to get in the race and figure out how to shove aside the vice president in just a couple of weeks.

And the other I think that's important to remember is we -- political obsessives -- people who watch this show every morning -- of course, they know who all these other candidates are, but a lot of voters don't. The vice president has universal name I.D. and I think there would be a really strong move to just consolidate behind her if the president decides to step aside.

BERMAN: Don't call our viewers names. They're very thoughtful, sensitive people who weigh everything very, very carefully.

BENNETT: No, no -- your viewers know. It's a lot of other people.



BERMAN: I understand. I understand.

Sarah Matthews, first of all, I dispute the notion that it's only pundits and the press talking about this. I mean, I saw and heard from actual human beings over the last three days, and I know we all have. And this is something that everyone is talking about.

But there is an interesting phenomenon here. While you do hear I think universal concern and shock about President Biden's debate performance, it's not clear to me that there is this wave of people saying and also, Donald Trump was great or also I'm switching to Trump because of this. It's not clear to me exactly where or if or how he gains. MATTHEWS: I think that a lot of voters watched that debate and were just even more depressed about the current state of affairs because they are not happy with their options. People did not want this rematch. I think the only people who probably wanted this rematch are Joe Biden and Donald Trump's teams because I think that they believe that they can defeat the other opponent because they I think respectively know that other candidates are each pretty weak.

And so, as I've talked with voters who are just everyday Americans who maybe aren't tuning in and watching the news 24/7, and they were pretty alarmed when they saw what Biden's appearance looked like on that debate stage. I think everyone knows that he's old, but just to see him on that debate stage struggling, it was sad for a lot of people.

And I do think that the couch caucus grew much larger after that debate performance because I think there are going to be a lot of people who think I can't vote for either of these guys. Because they watched Trump go up there and just lie as often as he breathes and refused three times to say that he would accept the results of the 2024 election. And they think a) I can't vote for that guy. But then they watched Joe Biden and thought um, he might not be up to the job of serving another four years.

And so, I think there are going to be a lot of people who leave the top of their ballots blank and who maybe just sit at home and don't even take part in the election after last -- after last Thursday.

BERMAN: Sarah Matthews, Matt Bennett, and Matt Gorman -- all Matthew, all the time -- going to the mat right here this morning on CNN NEWS CENTRAL. Appreciate you all being with us -- Sara.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: John Berman with all the puns.

All right. Right now, U.S. military bases across Europe are on heightened alert because of new concerns over possible terrorist attacks.

CNN's Natasha Bertrand is at the Pentagon for us. What do these alerts mean for the troops there?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND POLITICS CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Sara. So the force protection condition of a lot of these military bases in Europe, including Ramstein in Germany as well as the U.S. Army Garrison at Stuttgart -- they have been raised to force protection level "Charlie" up from "Bravo."

And what does that mean? Well, that essentially means that some kind of intelligence has been received indicating that a terrorist threat targeting U.S. military personnel or U.S. military facilities has been received. That there is likely going to be a terrorist attack. And the U.S. Army uses that word "likely."

So they have received some kind of pretty alarming intelligence here that has caused all of these bases, really, to remain on high alert pretty much indefinitely. We don't know when that status is going to change here.

But one U.S. official who is stationed at a base in Europe, just to kind of underscore how important this is, says that he has not seen this kind of level change in about 10 years now. And he said that it usually means the military has received "an active, reliable threat."

Now, we did ask a spokesperson for U.S. European Command for comment and they would not delve into the specifics of that force protection change other than to say that sometimes thing happen where they feel the need to alert U.S. military personnel overseas that they need to remain very vigilant, doing things like not going off base in their uniforms, for example, and just being very aware of their surroundings at all times.


Obviously, the bases that are on this higher alert are going to be more vigilant about cars coming in. They are going to be searches. There are going to be perhaps patrols on some of these bases.

But the bottom line here is that while we don't know exactly what intelligence was received indicating a possible terrorist threat, it is a very significant move indicating that these personnel, if they don't stay aware of their surroundings, could be in danger, Sara.

SIDNER: Natasha Bertrand, thank you so much for that reporting for us this morning -- John.

BERMAN: All right. Happening now, hurricane warnings are in effect for parts of the Caribbean, including Barbados, St. Lucia, and the Grenadines. Hurricane Beryl is now a powerful category 3 storm.

Let's get right to CNN's Elisa Raffa with the latest on this. What are you seeing?

ELISA RAFFA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We are watching this eye very closely because the only reason why it came down to a category 3 intensity overnight is because we were going through something called the eyewall replacement cycle. The structure is changing just a little bit.

And you can see where it got a little bit cloudy overnight, but it's starting to clear up again. And that's telling us that it's gaining intensity and could come back up to the category 4 status. We are watching it closely.

Either way, you have outer bands already lashing parts of Barbados, and Grenada as well -- some of these islands. Category 3 as it stands right now with 120 mile per hour winds, sitting 125 miles east and southeast of Grenada. Again, we're already seeing some of these outer bands. We've been watching some of these showers clip parts of Barbados and some of these islands as well -- some of the Windward Islands on this radar.

And you can see there's that eyewall -- how intense that is. And that looks like that eyewall heads towards St. Vincent and Grenada as we go through the day today. Barbados already looking at 43 mile per hour sustained winds. Gusts have already been up to 60 miles per hour.

So this will continue as we go through the day today. Again, you've got hurricane warnings because we're looking at some catastrophic damage possible from those intense winds in the eyewall. We are also looking at some six to nine feet of storm surge possible.

There it is with the intensity coming back up to a four, like I mentioned. And then we continue to scrape the Caribbean Sea. A lot of these island, like Jamaica, already have some watches in effect for parts of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. And then eventually, headed up towards Mexico by the end of the week.

The reason we're talking about such an incredibly strong storm so early in the season is because these ocean temperatures are in the middle and upper 80s. This is the first time we've ever had a category four hurricane in June this early in the season.

It underwent rapid intensification over the weekend. It took less than 24 hours for it to go from a tropical storm to a category four hurricane. And they find that trend getting extremely stronger faster more recently because of climate change and our warming oceans -- John.

BERMAN: We are talking about Beryl -- Hurricane Beryl. There's another tropical storm you're looking at?

RAFFA: Yeah. We are also watching Chris. That is also a depression right now. So there's Beryl. There's another chance of development right behind it. Chris made landfall in Mexico overnight. Just in the latest last couple of minutes it's down to a depression but could still soak them with some rain. A couple of inches of rain possible in the next couple of days -- John.

BERMAN: All right, Elisa Raffa. Thank you very much for all of that -- Sara.

SIDNER: All right, from bad to worse. First, wildfires, now major flooding strikes a small New Mexico town. An update just ahead.

And Coldplay's tribute to the man they say inspired bands coming together. You've got to see this performance from Michael J. Fox.


CHRIS MARTIN, SINGER, SONGWRITER, MUSICIAN, COLDPLAY: And I'm especially thanking to the main reason why we're in a band is because of watching "Back to the Future." So thank you to our hero forever and one of the most amazing people on Earth, Mr. Michael J. Fox. Thanks so much, Michael.



[07:53:20] SIDNER: Right now, former Trump adviser Steve Bannon is getting ready to go to a Connecticut prison for defying subpoenas from a January 6 select committee. The Supreme Court rejected a last-minute effort by Bannon to delay his four-month sentence. Bannon was found guilty on two counts of contempt of Congress nearly two years ago.

And a New Mexico community hit by destructive wildfires is now dealing with flooding. The National Guard had to rescue at least 45 people from the floodwaters in Ruidoso yesterday. Video also shows floodwaters rushing over roads like you're seeing behind me here -- a truck being moved by the force of the water and dumpster floating away. At least two areas in Ruidoso had to evacuate due to the flash flooding.

Eleven people were injured after an escalator malfunctioned at a Brewers game in Milwaukee. It happened after Saturday's game at the ballpark. After it ended, as people were leaving, a bunch of folks injured. They describe the terrifying moments.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got about halfway down the slope and we felt a shake. There was, like, a loud noise and a shake. And everybody on the escalator kind of got scared for a second. And then seconds later, it just completely took off and ran down the tracks and it -- like, everybody just started toppling over on top of each other, including a few elderly ladies.


SIDNER: Geez. Out of the 11 people injured, five were treated at the ballpark and six were transferred to nearby hospitals.

All right -- and a moment you just have to see to believe.



MARTIN AND MICHAEL J. FOX, ACTOR: Performing on stage together at Glastonbury Festival in England.


SIDNER: That was Coldplay bringing out the legendary Michael J. Fox to absolutely rock the stage with them at Glastonbury Music Festival this weekend. Chris Martin's "Go, Johnny Go" -- a reference to Fox's role back in "Back to the Future." We all remember it -- a performance that would go on to change movies and music forever.

Fox took to Instagram to thank the band for the unforgettable night, saying, "Oh, yeah. In case you're wondering, it was f-ing mind- blowing."

There were tears. It was -- that was such a beautiful moment. All right. She said she'd be back, and she is in a big way. Gymnast Simone Biles dominated, as we would expect her to do, at the U.S. Olympic trials in Minneapolis, easily securing her spot at the 2024 Games in Paris later this month. It will be the 27-year-old's third Olympics.

Also on the team, Suni Lee, Jordan Chiles, Jade Carey, and 16-year-old Hezly Rivera. Did I get that right?


SIDNER: Rivera.

MANNO: Yeah.

SIDNER: Joining us now, Carolyn Manno. Wow -- I love watching the trials for the Olympics, but Simone Biles blows you away every single time.

MANNO: She does. She has been a picture of consistency really this entire year, and she looks really good physically, Sara. Mentally, she sounds really good too, which is so important.

This is going to be the first time, if you think about it, that two former all-around champions are going to compete for the same country in the Games. And Biles, the oldest American gymnast since the '50s at the age of 27. And she is just as dominant as ever, winning by more than five points.

And you think about what Suni Lee has been through, overcoming serious struggles. Battling two forms of kidney disease, which forced her to step away from the sport, still somehow managing to earn this spot in Paris. She posted the highest score of the event on the bars, which has long been her signature.

And the selection committee takes into consideration both the performance at the trials and also past experience, and this group has plenty of the latter as they head to Paris. It's a group of women that has continued to mature, Sara.

And I'm just so struck by not only the things that Simone is doing and saying, but also the way that Suni Lee has stepped into this moment. At one point in time, she couldn't practice. She had significant weight gain. She didn't know if she was ever going to be able to compete again. It was a life-altering illness for her. And so, for both of these women to be back on the stage, it's absolutely remarkable.

SIDNER: It's remarkable and it is such a story of, like, perseverance --


SIDNER: -- beyond anything that we can imagine.

MANNO: Yeah.

SIDNER: I do want to talk -- speaking of perseverance, Angel Reese.


SIDNER: Holy smokes. She is on fire at the WNBA.

MANNO: She is. What I love about all these female athletes, what they say is they're doing things for themselves. That's what we heard Simone Biles echo at the trials. She was like we have to do this for us.

And Angel Reese also fits that portrait perfectly. She just -- she goes out there etching her name into the record book setting a single season record with her 10th straight double-double on Sunday. She put up 10 points. She pulled down 16 boards against the Lynx. Unfortunately, the Lynx really, really good. But just a great performance for her.

SIDNER: That's a double-double. I mean, you watch them play. She's playing against the best of the best and she is a rookie.

MANNO: She is.

SIDNER: I cannot imagine what she's going to do going forward.

Thank you so much, Carolyn Manno. It's lovely to have you.

MANNO: You, too.


BERMAN: All right. This morning, protesters in France flooding the streets after the results of the fist round of Parliamentary elections were announced. France's far-right party is on track to win the most seats in the National Assembly, which is a major blow to President Emmanual Macron.

CNN's Max Foster live in Paris with the latest this morning. Good morning, Max.

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Yeah, John, you'll remember there were some European Parliament elections and there was a surge in support for the right in the major economies of Europe. One of them was France. President Macron thought he would test it and call a French Parliamentary election, and it's backfired spectacularly. He's gone from first to third position. And the far-right has surged to pole position in this first round of the election.

And I've been speaking to members of President Macron's party, and they feel betrayed by him off the record, saying it was a terrible decision to hold this snap election. We're not in a situation where France could have a far-right prime minister who the president will have to work with. It will cause deadlock in Parliament and that is going to be a disaster for French politics, at the very least.

But it's still going to play out. There's another round next weekend in this election. But if things carry on then this could be the next prime minister of France and he's just 28 years old.


JORDAN BARDELLA, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL RALLY PARTY (through translator): They delivered a clear verdict and confirmed their clear aspirations for change.