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Biden Warns Immunity Ruling Sets Dangerous Precedent; Beryl Strengthens to a Category 5 Atlantic Hurricane; 30 Hurt After Severe Turbulence Hits Air Europa Boeing Flight. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 02, 2024 - 07:00   ET


DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: This larger -- the smaller Washington conversation, they're focused on what's going on in their lives, and they're not happy with the direction of the country.


A big problem for Joe Biden.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: but I think that goes to this point that the conversation that is happening in the country may be very different than the conversation we've been having since last Thursday here in Washington, and we ought to hear what people have to say.

KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: Yes. I mean, it's -- and that's what, of course, we're going to wait for those numbers, because as you heard Mike Quigley say, it's probably the only thing out there that might change President Biden's mind.

All right, thanks to our panel, thanks to all of you for joining us this morning. I'm Kasie Hunt. Don't go anywhere. CNN News Central starts right now.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: And now the fallout, after the Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity, Donald Trump makes his first move to toss his New York criminal conviction.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: There are no kings in America, President Biden issuing a forceful warning in the wake of that ruling about the dangers of a second Donald Trump presidency, how his campaign is using the Supreme Court's decision to try to rally voters.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: They thought they were going to die. That is what passengers are saying and describing the terrifying moments they experienced on board a flight that hit severe turbulence, injuring at least 30 people.

I'm Kate Bolduan with Sarah Sidner and John Berman. This is CNN New Central.

BERMAN: Brand new this morning, what can a president get away with? It might not be the exact framing the Supreme Court was after in its blockbuster ruling providing an expansive view of presidential immunity, but it is a question highlighted this morning in new legal filings, new campaign statements, and new political threats. This was President Biden's warning.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: This nation was founded on the principle that there are no kings in America. Each of us is equal before the law. No one is above the law, not even the president of the United States.


BERMAN: In fact, the ruling casts a new light on statements endorsed by Trump on social media calling to try and jail political opponents.

Chief Justice John Roberts says courts cannot question discussions a president has with his Justice Department, arguably at all. This concerns what a president might do. As for what a former president is already doing, Donald Trump is trying to trying to get his New York criminal conviction thrown out just days before sentencing.

Our Katelyn Polantz is here with the latest on that. Kaitlin, what can you tell us? John, they're going to take this Supreme Court opinion and they are going to run with it in any way that they can in any of the cases that Donald Trump has against him still pending. So, he is convicted in New York by a jury, but it's not final yet because there's a sentencing on the calendar.

And so what Donald Trump's legal team is saying now in a letter that they have filed over with the court up there in New York, they're saying that they want to challenge this conviction because there were things that happened in trial that the judge allowed in presidential tweets or tweets that they say were part of the presidency and should be protected, and also some testimony from Hope Hicks, who was a top adviser. She testified against Trump at that trial. His team is going to challenge that and say that shouldn't have been part of the trial and the whole thing should get tossed. And the sentencing perhaps should be delayed as well.

Here's a little bit more of that argument from Trump's attorney, Will Scharf, speaking with Kaitlan Collins last night.


WILL SCHARF, ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: What we have in New York is a situation where a substantial number of official acts of the presidency, things that we believe are official acts, were used as evidence to support the charges in that New York trial. We believe that that corrupts that trial, that that indicates that that jury verdict needs to be overturned. And at the very least, we deserve a new trial where those immune acts will not come into evidence.


POLANTZ: So remember, this is a state court. The judge up there is going to have to look at this. There will very likely be some responses that push back on this coming in from the district attorney's office in New York.

But this is just a glimpse into what the strategy is now going to be going forward. They got a little bit out of the Supreme Court here on getting presidential immunity, and they're going to try and use that any way they can in every court. John?

BERMAN: Yes, just the beginning. Katelyn Polantz, thanks so much. Great to see you this morning. Sara?

SIDNER: All right. So, that was the legal follow-up. Let's now turn to the political retribution Donald Trump seems to be referencing.

CNN's Alayna Treene joining us now. Alayna, Trump was very active on social media following this decision, praising the court, being very happy about it. Is he offering a preview of what's to come?



Look, I mean, you're totally right. Yesterday, following this decision, we did see Donald Trump really ramp up his rhetoric calling for retribution against his political opponents. And, of course, I think the big thing to keep in mind here is what this means in light of that Supreme Court ruling. Now that the Supreme Court has ruled that essentially presidents have absolute immunity for official acts, many critics are worried about whether this means that, frankly, Donald Trump could be untouchable if he is back in the White House.

Take a listen to what the former president said about Steve Bannon reporting to federal prison yesterday for contempt of contempt of Congress. He said that he thinks Biden is going to pay a big price for it. Take a listen.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: What they've done in this country is unthinkable. And Biden is going to pay a big price for it, I believe, because I think that the people are going to say, well, wow, you've opened up a Pandora's Box. It's a terrible thing that they've opened up. They've unleashed this.

This is for third world countries. No, they've wanted to silence Steve Bannon. And the only way they could do it was by putting him in jail.


TREENE: Now, Sarah, look, this language from Donald Trump isn't exactly new. We have heard him call for months that he would potentially seek to prosecute his political opponents if he is back in the White House. And just last week on the debate stage, he was asked about this by our colleagues and he said, look, I think my revenge will be success. But then he went on to say that potentially Biden could be convicted on felony counts once he leaves the White House. Remember last month, he told Dr. Phil in an interview that he thinks retribution is justified. And so I think in light of the Supreme Court's decision, it has a lot of people, particularly Democrats on edge about what this could mean, and if he is re-elected, what did this would mean if he could be going after his political opponents? Would he seek or see any sort of pushback from the court of law? It's still a question that I think many people are grappling with. Sara?

SIDNER: It is interesting because this presidential immunity case came up because of Donald Trump, but it means presidential immunity for official acts for all presidents. That would include, you would think, President Biden. So, we will see what happens when it comes to the retribution.

Alayna Treene, thank you so much for your reporting. I appreciate it. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Hurricane Beryl is headed right now for Jamaica and the Cayman Islands. It's a Category 5 storm, and we're getting new images of the devastation that it has already left behind. We will bring that to you.

And turbulence so violent, one man was thrown into the plane's overhead compartment. The details on what passengers are saying now and what all led to the emergency landing.

And a mistrial in a murder case that sparked a flood of conspiracy theories. What happens now for the defendant who is accused of killing her police officer boyfriend?



BOLDUAN: Right now, Category 5 Hurricane Beryl is headed toward Jamaica with winds of 165 miles per hour. This is a record-breaking storm, and it's also not only dangerous, it's huge. It's the strongest hurricane to pass through the eastern part of the Caribbean since 1851. Storms already left a trail of destruction across the islands of Grenada, St. Vincent, the Grenadines, where power is still knocked out in many places this morning.

CNN's Elisa Raffa and Patrick Oppmann, they're tracking this all for us. Elisa, where is the storm right now?

ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Finally exiting some of those Windward Islands that it just devastated yesterday continues to look like a healthy, strong storm. You have that huge crystal clear eye that's perfectly symmetrical signs of a monster Category 5 hurricane, over 165-mile-per-hour winds. It's still sitting about 600 to 700 miles east of Jamaica. And it's been able to rapidly intensify multiple times because these ocean temperatures are in the middle and upper 80s, acting like late August, early September. That's why, you know, we're in the early July, we're kind of acting like it's peak hurricane season.

As Beryl continues to work its way east, it will run into some dust, which could eat away at some of that intensity as we go into the day- to-day, but it's still going to remain a major hurricane as it heads towards Jamaica. You've got hurricane warnings in effect where hurricane-force conditions will start as we go into Wednesday, looking at storm surge up to three to five feet. You've got watches in effect for the Cayman Islands, and then eventually it will get towards Mexico, as we get towards the end of the week. We're looking at rainfall totals of three to six inches, maybe even up to a foot in parts of Jamaica, especially in those higher elevations.

Like I mentioned, we're looking at hurricane force winds in Jamaica, but tropical storm force winds will scrape Haiti, the Dominican Republic, again, worried about hurricane force conditions in the Cayman Islands.

What happens after all of this? Well, it really depends on this area of high pressure that's bringing some heat to the south in the U.S. Depending on how weak or strong this high pressure is will determine if this thing continues to work its way east, and if it kind of nudges north or south, something you'll have to watch closely in the next couple of days, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Elisa. Thank you so much. Patrick, what kind of damage are we talking about that we've already seen in these islands that the storms already passed over?

PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, we're still just getting in some of the first images because, of course, these islands, Windward Islands, were hit so hard.


Hopefully, airports will begin to reopen today, which allow people who were trapped there to leave, also allows aid to start coming in. We know at least one person died in the islands of St. Vincent, and you see trees down, you see roofs that are damaged, power is out, many people were left without water.

And, of course, the concern is, as this incredibly powerful hurricane heads towards Jamaica, that is the most populated island that is hit so far. And so the potential for damage is just so much greater as a result of that. And, of course, from there, it'll head on to Yucatan in Mexico, where you can expect significant flooding.

But, you know, of course, you know, it's only a B storm, second storm, first hurricane so far this season, and a powerful Category 5. It does not bode well for the rest of hurricane season. We have a long way to go, and certainly to see a storm this powerful so early is pretty much unprecedented.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And if anyone knows you, Patrick, you have covered many a storm over the years we've known each other. So, this starting out like this, it's going to be a long hurricane season, it could be a long season for you. It's good to see you.

OPPMANN: Keeping dry this time.

BOLDUAN: Yes, exactly, this time. It's good to see you. Thank you so much. John?

BERMAN: All right, a hastily called nighttime statement from President Biden on the Supreme Court ruling. Did he look and sound different from his shaky debate?

And then fractures to the arms, legs, and face, dozens of passengers injured when a packed flight hits violent turbulence.



SIDNER: This morning, they thought they were going to die. Dozens of passengers are recovering from injuries after a terrifying incident on an Air Europa flight. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner was flying from Madrid to Uruguay yesterday. When it was hit by severe turbulence over the Atlantic, it had to make an emergency landing in Brazil. Some passengers were thrown into the ceiling. You can see blood on some of the seats, at least 30 people injured. Some reportedly suffered broken bones and neck fractures.


STEVAN, AIR EUROPA PASSENGER: There are passengers with fractures and injuries to their arms, faces and legs. There are about 30 people injured. It was a pretty horrible feeling. We thought we were going to die there, but thank God it didn't happen.


SIDNER: Oh, terrifying moments. Joining me now, CNN Transportation Analyst and former Inspector General for the Department of Transportation Mary Schiavo. We have to disclose you. You work for a law firm that it's pending litigation against Boeing. And, of course, you've represented families of airline crash victims in the past. Mary, welcome to you this morning.

30 people injured because of strong turbulence. Are these incidents happening more frequently or are we just hearing about them more?

MARY SCHIAVO, CNN TRANSPORTATION ANALYST: Well, probably a combination of both. There have been some studies that have come out that has shown that over the years from about 1979 until now that the incidents has risen. One British University said it has risen in those years about 55 percent. But there's also better reporting, more mandatory reporting.

So, the jury's still out. But certainly this year, and especially because of the weather, there have been a lot more incidents. That is for sure.

SIDNER: You know, I've always wondered this and should have asked a long time ago when you're on a flight and you're looking out your window and it's perfectly clear and everything's fine, and the pilot says, make sure you put your seatbelts on, we're going to be experiencing some turbulence, how did they figure that out? What is it that they're looking at that tells them, hey, you might not be seeing it, but we're about to hit a pocket of turbulence?

SCHIAVO: And that is a great question and the best point of all, because at the level of this plane and several other aircraft were flying at above 15,000 feet, usually about 30,000, 40,000 feet, often the problem with what's called clear air turbulence. And it's often the effects of movement between two jet streams or air masses, and you can't see it coming. And when you hit it, it's wind shear, but very high up in the air and it's like you've hit a trough.

And often the only way pilots can know about that is reports from other pilots that have hit it, you know, further ahead, other flights that have hit it. And so they rely a lot on reports from other pilots because the equipment isn't there at this point to detect clear air turbulence because it's clear.

Thunderstorm, convective activity, other things, your weather radar, your airline's radar and the radar on the plane, they'll get that. They'll pick that up and you can be warned. And on this flight, the one that happened yesterday, they'd actually had a warning and they had been through some rough weather. And just when they thought they were going to relax, that's when this big drop hit and they were injured.

So, clear air turbulence and you have to rely on controllers to tell you what other pilots have said.

SIDNER: Yes. So, it sounds like this was basically a weather issue, not a pilot issue. But there's been a lot of talk about Boeing. There has been a lot of criticism about Boeing, even Boeing criticizing itself when the CEO was on Capitol Hill answering questions. Is there anything about this plane, the 787 Dreamliner, that, you know, would have helped make this worse?

SCHIAVO: Well, you know, I think that's one thing that the investigators need to be looking at. And because people were injured and there was damage to the plane, this will be counted as yet another accident, although caused by turbulence. And they need to look at that, because there have been reports. So, so this year, we've had a 777, Boeing 777, a couple of 787s last year. There were also reports, a 777, a 787 et cetera. But when you go back and look at other reports, there are also reports of Airbus, even smaller planes, but it's a good point.


If this plane for some reason responds differently to the turbulence or to the drop and the recovery from a drop in altitude, that is something the investigators will look at.

So, at this point you, we can't really say that that has anything to do with it, but I think the investigators will want to know, does the Boeing respond differently, especially in autopilot when you encounter this wind shear at these flight levels? And that's a good question. They will probably want to answer the same thing for other aircraft models too, so we know what to expect. And the pilots most importantly know what to expect when you hit this very high level wind shear that can cause these, you know, severe turbulence injuries to passengers on board.

SIDNER: Yes, it's really scary because you don't see it coming and it just happens. But you have always said, I don't even have to ask you this question, wear your seatbelt, wear your seatbelt, wear your seatbelt as much as you can. And maybe we as passengers have to start thinking about not getting up as much as we'd like to on some of these flights because you just don't know, right?

SCHIAVO: Right, especially, you know, when there's weather about you don't have to be in it to have the effects because, you know, it's just giant streams of temperature differences and wind differences. And so, absolutely, you may not see it, but it could be there and your seatbelt's friend on the plane.

SIDNER: All right. Thank you so much. And I'm glad you got the memo about wearing blue, Mary Schiavo. We are a matching set this morning. I appreciate you. John?

BERMAN: So, what do the constitutional lawyers think? After the Supreme Court ruling, will Donald Trump get his New York conviction tossed? Some of the best in the business weigh in.

And mistrial, a hung jury, in a case that caught the nation's attention, Karen Read accused of killing her police officer boyfriend. New reporting on whether she will be tried again.