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White House: We Understand that It was a Bad Night at Debate; Trumps Sentencing in Hush Money Case Delayed Until September. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 02, 2024 - 15:30   ET



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He did events where he spoke from a teleprompter --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, let's just be correcting. I was scripted and spoken from a teleprompter, how are Americans supposed to get the sense that the President is fully engaged and capable and thinking off the cuff when he's reading from prepared remarks so often? And why can't he just come down here, the brief room is 30 seconds away, why can't he come down here and assure us and the American people that he's OK, and I have a follow-up.

JEAN-PIERRE: OK, first of all, it wasn't all, it was, you know, when he was speaking in front of the audience, but it wasn't all. When you think about the tarmac, when you think about engaging at the watch party and doing a very long rope line, and when he was at the tarmac, it was the middle of the night --

BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The White House briefing, which we have been listening to for some time now, a lot of critical questions about President Biden's health after his debate performance last week that even some Democrats who support him, who want for him to do well, have said was catastrophic.

So we just heard there from Karine Jean-Pierre, she's saying he had a cold, he had a bad night, and she kept reiterating that.

Let's bring in CNN political director David Chalian and Katie Rogers, White House correspondent for the New York Times. She is the author of American Woman, the Transformation of the Modern First Lady from Hillary Clinton to Jill Biden.

David, what did you think watching that press conference?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Well, the motivation behind that press conference was clear because Karine Jean-Pierre said it plainly, we want to turn the page. We want America to turn the page. We are hoping to turn the page. I mean, she said it three times. That was quite clear.

The page is not turning because there was a lack of answers to the critical fundamental question that was being asked, which is, what happened? What happened that all of America saw? So Karine Jean-Pierre kept saying, we're not trying to ignore reality. We understand and acknowledge what America saw and witnessed, and that that was a really bad night and that that was a bad debate. And we acknowledge that. But she does not offer one, one bit of evidence or reasoning or rationale for why. Why did America see what they saw that night?

And there were a lot of questions asked by the White House press corps. You know, can we get more medical records? Can you bring the doctor in here and make them available? You know, is it time to do a cognitive test? You didn't do one in the last. And there was just no, none acceptance of that kind of a premise.

It was just one bad night. We acknowledge that. But she's missing explaining to the country fundamentally why.

PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Americans are not dumb, right? I mean, they saw what they saw. And those who are concerned saw something that's not just a bad night. That's not just, oh, a cold, right?

And there is no further explanation. As David points out, she said, as it relates to a cognitive test, the president's medical team said it is not warranted. But there's no explanation.

Why? Why wouldn't it be warranted?

KATIE ROGERS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: You know what? Donors are not dumb either. It should be noted. And those are many of the exact questions that they have been asking the president's campaign team last night on a -- on a big call.

They want to know how there was such a breakdown between what they see from the president and what was shown on Thursday, much like you said. And that has been much of the focus in these last few days, which is on donors and not explaining to the American public on -- in his own voice what happened.

KEILAR: Katie also questions about what is he doing right now since the debate? Because we have learned that there is this press conference, which appears to be a solo press conference coming up. He does have an interview with George Stephanopoulos, which people will be watching very carefully.

But this question of outreach, which we are starting to see kind of take place to concerned Democratic governors and others, it feels like it's coming a little late. Right. It's been many days since this debate and he has not picked up the phone.

And I think anyone who's had a bad day at work where, you know, let's say you weren't fired knows what you do. You pick up the phone and you start assuaging concerns immediately. And that is not what we're seeing done here.

ROGERS: I think they've had to assuage concerns within their own White House, within their campaign. Again, the donor class, the family and the president's inner circle of advisers spent part of the weekend debating what he should do. So that was part of the delay is there is an actual discussion over what would be best how we can debating what he should do.

So that was part of the delay. Is -- there is an actual discussion over what would be best, how he best proves himself with the knowledge that he's not great an oppressor, not you know, they argue and debate over whether or not he should do interviews and who he should do interviews with. And that explains a lot of why we're seeing this on Tuesday, five days later.

BROWN: I want to ask you, too, because it seems like the White House just, you know, we heard there from the press secretary repeating time and time again, it was a bad night, cold, bad night, cold. But there's a trust issue here. Right.

I mean, I think a lot of Americans were shocked to see Joe Biden's performance at the debate. And they were like, why wasn't this set up for me? Why? Why am I seeing this for the first time? His advisers, White House officials, that the feeling is amongst many Americans weren't being honest, open, transparent, truthful, perhaps about what was going on with him. Why should Americans trust this now?

CHALIAN: Well, you heard the press secretary continually refer back to the February medical report that they shared as transparent. It was a six page summary, as you heard our reporter MJ Lee put in her question to the press secretary. Six page summary.

I know Karine Jean-Pierre is calling that comprehensive, but that is not comprehensive.

BROWN: Comparatively.

CHALIAN: Comparatively. And that that is true compared to Donald Trump. Not true compared to previous presidents. We've seen some more. And certainly not true to other nominees such as John McCain, when he brought in reporters like our Sanjay Gupta to spend an entire day combing through detailed medical reports when there were questions about John McCain's age.

So a six page summary she calls fully transparent and comprehensive, well, clearly not comprehensive enough because we still don't have a full understanding of why something like Thursday night may occur.

Now, to your point about the American people being shocked, Karine was asked, were you shocked? She said no. Or she didn't answer. I didn't hear her say she was shocked, but she said she's never seen this before in any of her interactions with the president.

I mean, I think it's we're going to start learning over time. Your story at The New York Times now gets into this. Who has seen some behavior like this from the president?

Who was it not the first time? When they saw Thursday night, they actually recognized something they had seen previously.

BROWN: Well, and it raises that question. Yes. ROGERS: I mean, just what is interesting about our reporting, too, is there is an element among, you know, we spoke to donors, elected officials, officials he interacted with on his trip abroad just before the debate. There's an element of this that speaks to the protective element around him, that these -- that allies of the White House who showed up at events were stunned at how he was just in a White House event.

They're so -- he's so sequestered that when he is in moments where he's with people who don't see him often, it is stunning to them that he's mixing up names, dates, facts and figures. And there's an element of this that the people closer to him have normalized it. You know, but there are people on the outside of this shell who see it periodically and are shocked.

CHALIAN: And by the way, the test is on now, right, because you heard from the press secretary. She's pointing to this interview he's going to do on ABC News on Friday afternoon. She's pointing to a press conference next week during the NATO summit.

These are instances, I guess, his opening remarks at a press conference might have a teleprompter, but certainly his answers to the questions will not be on teleprompter. So these are some high profile, big, unscripted moments, not that he won't rehearse for them, but unscripted moments for him. And I think his press secretary just, you know, put him front and center as, you know, you've got to deliver now before the American people Mr. President.

ROGERS: (INAUDIBLE) questions, the page doesn't get turned.

KEILAR: I also think we're looking back on events through a different prism.

ROGERS: Totally.

KEILAR: I know that I am. I'm looking back and I'm sorting events. Was it a prompter event? Was it during the day? Was it during a stressful time when he was tired? Versus doing something ad lib. Did he explain something to the fullest?

What about during his interview with Robert Herr for the special counsel? What about that? Because I will also tell you, having looked at the transcript of the debate the next day, it didn't actually read nearly as bad as watching it.

And so we've seen the transcript of that interview, but what does it sound like? These are different things.

ROGERS: That is why House Republicans are suing the administration for the audio. Right.

BROWN: And I also think what's important to note here is there is a difference between, you know, can he continue the job he's in right now? And is he going to be mentally, physically fit to do this job that is so incredibly demanding, the most powerful man in the world, arguably, for another four years? [15:40:00]

And she talks a lot about his record we just heard there, but I'm not sure there was a lot about, like, the fact that he's able to carry on at this level for another four years. He would be 86 by the end of another four years in office.

CHALIAN: This is why the Democratic Party is in this very intense internal conversation right now about figuring out if it is even viable as a candidacy for this president at this moment in time to be asking for a renewal of his contract for four more years to the American people, or if that's just not a viable prospect. That's what they're trying to figure out. We don't have any indication that pressure is being brought to bear directly to Joe Biden right now.

But you did hear her talk about these conversations that are coming with Democratic governors, with Democratic Senate and House leadership. He's going to be hearing from a lot of people who have a stake, I mean, all of America has a stake in the election, I suppose, but who have a political stake in this election. That they have a dependency on the top of the ticket and an urgency from their perspective to make sure Donald Trump doesn't get a second term in the White House. And they're concerned right now that Joe Biden at the top of the ticket makes perhaps a second Trump presidency all that much more likely.

And that, to your point, it is about the four additional years that is causing that conversation to take place right now.

KEILAR: And makes it more likely that if he wins, he may have as well the House and the Senate, which is Democrats view would be catastrophic for them.

CHALIAN: You mean Donald Trump.

KEILAR: Yes, that's right.

BROWN: Yes. All right. David Chalian, Katie Rogers. Thank you so much.

Breaking news coming in right here to the NEWSROOM. Donald Trump's sentencing and his hush money case has been formally postponed following the Supreme Court's ruling on presidential immunity.

KEILAR: We have CNN's Kara Scannell on this story. Kara, give us the latest here.

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So the judge has just issued his decision on this, delaying Trump's sentencing until September 18th. That is to give him time to consider Trump's effort to try to overturn the conviction in light of yesterday's Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity.

Trump's team had asked for a delay of the sentencing and a briefing schedule so they could make these legal arguments about presidential immunity, questioning some of the evidence that had been entered into the case, either testimony about Oval Office meetings, things that could potentially be considered official acts and that could be excluded or should have been excluded under this new Supreme Court decision.

Now, the prosecutors today said that they didn't oppose postponing the sentencing. The judge said that he would postpone it, now setting a date of September 18th instead of next Thursday. And he also agreed to a briefing schedule.

Now, he said that he would issue his opinion on presidential immunity on September 6th. And then he said that the sentencing would take place on the 18th. He set that date for the imposition of the sentence, if such is still necessary or any other proceedings.

So at this point now, we're looking at Donald Trump not facing a potential sentencing in this case until September. Of course, the issue before the judge will be presidential immunity, whether the Supreme Court's decision affects the conviction in this case in any way. Trump's team is asking for that to be overturned or a new trial. So depending on which way the judge rules, if he does find in favor of the prosecution, then Trump's sentencing will follow in September.

Trump's lawyers, of course, are planning to appeal all of this to New York's highest court -- Pam, Brianna.

BROWN: All right, Kara Scannell, thank you so much.

For more on this, let's bring in National Security Attorney Brad Moss. He's a partner in the law office of Mark Zaid.

So what do you make of the judge's decision here to postpone Donald Trump's sentencing?

BRADLEY MOSS, NATIONAL SECURITY ATTORNEY: Well, I think it was certainly just it had to be done at this point. This is a legitimate issue that had to be raised by Donald Trump now, given the Supreme Court's ruling on immunity. He had sort of tried to raise it at the last minute before the trial started in New York, saying that some of the evidence in the case, you know, tweets he had done, press remarks he had made during his time as president that were related to this issue, the stories that came out, should be excluded under the concept of immunity.

I don't think this ever goes anywhere. I don't see any reason to believe that even the furthest reach of the majority's opinion in the Trump ruling will require a new trial, would have excluded the evidence. But the judge wants to take it seriously.

That's fine. It should. It's a legitimate constitutional concern. Certainly is worthy of a full briefing and consideration.

But here's the one downside for Donald Trump. Now, if he gets sentenced, especially if he gets sentenced to jail time, that's coming down in September. That's six, seven weeks before voters go to the election booth. That's not July when they'll forget about it.

KEILAR: Well, let's talk about that timing right now. As you mentioned, sentencing is September, September 18th. Do you really think that's going to stick? Is that enough time for the judge to work through all of the legal issues that this new ruling brings?


MOSS: I certainly think it is. I mean, the Trump team is going to file their brief sometime next week. Alvin Bragg will file his by the end of July. That gives the judge more than a month to craft a ruling and analyzing how he's going to address it. Obviously, if he's going to declare the trial vacated and order a new trial based off the immunity ruling, that throws out any sentencing.

But assuming he rejects Trump's effort, that certainly gives him enough time to consider what the federal judge originally looked at this on when Donald Trump tried to have the case removed. The federal court certainly allows Judge Merchan to consider the extent to which effectively Donald Trump waived this issue at that federal removal action. If he can't bring it up now, there's more than enough time for him to issue that ruling.

BROWN: So we have Trump's lawyers who are saying, look, the Supreme Court ruling shows that, you know, if there is an official act, if a president is engaged in an official act, that it should be tossed out. Right. All the evidence under that should be tossed out.

How likely is that to actually happen in this case and for a conviction to be overturned?

MOSS: Yes. So they're sort of trying to turn that ruling from the Supreme Court a little broader than it actually is. All the majority opinion said was that if evidence or testimony, documents from part of the president's core exclusive authorities, things that are clearly outlined in Article 2 of the U.S. Constitution, part of the president's preclusive authority, that is not only something to which he has absolute immunity, but it is evidence that cannot be relied upon at trial as part of some other aspect of a separate charge for things beyond his core authorities. There is no part of Article 2 that deals with issuing press statements about a hush money payment or writing or signing checks while in the Oval Office tied to your private business as part of a hush money deal.

That would be at best for Donald Trump, part of the outer reach of his executive authority, if not just strictly personal activities. And so that preclusive effect of the evidence wouldn't seem to have any relevance here.

BROWN: All right, Brad Moss, thank you so much. We'll be right back.


KEILAR: Turning back to our top story concerns over Joe Biden's campaign after his debate performance last week. Earlier this afternoon, Congressman Lloyd Doggett of Texas became the first Democrat, sitting Democrat to call for Biden to step aside. And a House Democratic lawmaker just told me a moment -- moments ago that there's, quote, a large and increasing group of House Democrats concerned about the president's candidacy representing a broad swath of the caucus.

We are deeply concerned about his trajectory and his ability to win. We want to give him space to make a decision, meaning to step aside. But we will be increasingly vocal about our concerns if he doesn't.


Another to suggest that Biden's time is up is 2020 Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who's with us now. He's now co- chair of the Forward Party. Andrew, no indication right now, though, that Biden has any plans to step aside. I'm not sure if you just saw the White House press briefing, but it was certainly illuminating in that regard.

Would you ultimately support Biden if he is the candidate against Trump in November?

ANDREW YANG, 2020 DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Well, I think there are many conversations happening behind the scenes right now, Brianna, where objective people within the Democratic Party are evaluating the ticket and saying that if you want to defeat Trump in November, Joe Biden is not the right person at the top of the ticket. There are many swing district and swing state members who think that their jobs are going to be on the line based upon whether Joe Biden is still at the top of the ticket. And I think these conversations are heating up, not cooling down.

KEILAR: What do you think will happen? And I'm not just talking about the White House. I'm talking about Congress, the Senate, the House. I'm talking about in the states. What do you think would happen if Biden does not step aside?

YANG: I think the Democrats would lose the House and the Senate as well as the White House if Joe Biden was at the top of the ticket. It's one reason why I believe the right thing for him to do is to step aside for the good of the party and the country. I personally do not want to see Donald Trump return to the White House.

And I see that as essentially a certainty if Joe Biden is the nominee. And many Democrats, again, are drawing the same conclusions based upon the data that's coming out after the debate.

KEILAR: You backed a Democrat, Dean Phillips, against Biden. You are no longer a Democrat. You have this sort of a third party.

What would you say to Democrats who say, yes, but that guy, Andrew Yang, he's not even one of us. Why should we listen to him?

YANG: No, I ran against Donald Trump in 2020. I backed Dean Phillips, who I would say has demonstrated more courage and principle than the vast majority of other members of the Democratic Congress, where he saw what we're seeing right now. Months ago, back when there was a primary and he stepped up within the party, risked his career and made the case that Joe Biden is not the right nominee to face Donald Trump in November, based in large part upon his advancing age and the fact that his best days are behind him. How many other members are saying the exact same thing right now, Brianna? I am so glad that Dean Phillips stepped up. I was proud to support him. And he has been proven 100 percent correct. He's a man of principle and courage. And I hope other members of the party take a lesson from what Dean Phillips demonstrated those months ago.

KEILAR: Who would you like to see as an alternative to Biden? Noting that you did back Dean Phillips, but there are a lot of names being floated right now. Who would you like to see?

YANG: I want to see someone who's going to defeat Donald Trump, you know, and I'm a numbers person. And I'm happy to say there's no shortage of candidates who I think would be a much stronger opponent against Donald Trump in November as opposed to Joe Biden. Which is one reason why so many of us who don't want to see a Trump return want Joe Biden to step aside. He's done so much for the country, but this is the great service that he's being called upon to perform right now. And that's to see that --

KEILAR: Andrew, let me ask you, the newest CNN polling shows Kamala Harris with the best shot to beat Trump, that she's within the margin of error. Would you support her? I mean, is that something that catches your eye?

YANG: I think that Kamala Harris will be right there among the contenders to replace Joe after Joe does step aside, which I believe will happen. And I think that's a very healthy competition and conversation for the party to have. I wish that they'd had this competition in January and February and March when the primaries were scheduled. But they stifled that opportunity.

KEILAR: OK, but they -- but Andrew, they didn't. They didn't.

And that's why I'm just going to stop you because I have one more question. I want to ask. They didn't.

So that just is what it is. But let me ask you this, because at this point in time and granted, this is building hypothetical upon hypothetical. But if Joe Biden were to step aside, then it is how do you come to an alternative? Is it is it, you know, a contested convention? Doesn't seem like that is something that a lot of Democrats want to go through. Is it a brokered convention where there would be consensus around someone?

Maybe someone would be anointed by Biden land. In that case, if you had one person you could choose from among these names, who would that be?

YANG: No, I want to see the data as to who the best top of the ticket contender would be. My instinct is that having people who are from Michigan and Pennsylvania and the swing states that are going to decide this race would be a good move. But that's going to be up to the party and to me, the data to make the best case.

KEILAR: Andrew Yang, really interesting to get your insights here.


Obviously, a lot of people are having hypothetical conversations right now, and it's good to have one with you. Thanks for being with us.

YANG: Thanks for having me, Brianna.

KEILAR: All right, we'll be right back.


KEILAR: I love it.

BROWN: Well, it is not easy being great at a lot of things. A problem I certainly don't have, I don't think. But Tacoma, Washington has mastered the art from oysters the size of your head to a state of the art glass blowing experience. The city has so much to offer.

KEILAR: And that's why it's number three on our list of America's Best Towns to Visit. Victor Blackwell is here to tell us more -- Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Tacoma, Tacoma, Washington, it's where you can snowshoe, hike an island, blow glass, shuck those oysters the size of your head all in the same day. It's so far north that it has some of the longest days into the continental U.S. And as you said, it is number three on CNN's list of America's Best Towns to Visit. There is so much to pack in those daylight hours.

Derek Van Dam, it is best to try it all out. Watch.


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST AND EXTREME WEATHER FIELD REPORTER (voice-over): There's no shortage of things to do and see in Tacoma, Washington. And because it's so far north, there are nearly 16 hours of daylight in the summer to help you pack it all in.

My day begins on Mount Rainier. On this misty morning, I hike across a fresh dusting of snow. There are 26 glaciers on Rainier and over 35 square miles of the mountain is covered in snow and ice year round. But I can't stay long because I need to make the two hour journey back down to the Puget Sound.

VAN DAM: There'll be oysters in there.

VAN DAM (voice-over): From snowshoeing to shucking. That's right. Oysters.

VAN DAM: Look at that, it's the size of my head.

VAN DAM (voice-over): Mollusks thrive in these waters and the Minterbrook Oyster Company harvests thousands of oysters here every day.

KENT KINGMAN, OWNER, MINTERBROOK OYSTER COMPANY: When that water comes in through the Straits of Juan de Fuca and it flushes into the sound, it doesn't flush all the way back out. So what you have is real rich growth of algae for the oysters. It's the algae. It's what the oysters eat that makes it so awesome.

VAN DAM (voice-over): The Puget Sound also has an abundance of islands, including Vashon. After a short ferry trip, you can be transported to what feels like another world.

VAN DAM: Berries are going to start popping here pretty soon.

VAN DAM (voice-over): Hike along wooded trails, rocky beaches, but it's also home to nearly 11,000 full time residents. Some Tacoma residents, including Dale Chihuly, helped put the Northwest on the map as a mecca for glass art.

VAN DAM: I don't think I've ever seen somebody so comfortable with a flamethrower.

VAN DAM (voice-over): So I had to check out the Tacoma Museum of Glass, where new works of glass art are blown and molded in front of a live audience.

BENJAMIN COBB, HOT SHOP DIRECTOR AND LEAD GAFFER, MUSEUM OF GLASS: Most museums are historical and maybe the artists aren't alive anymore. Well, if you want to see world class artists working in a state of the art facility, then this is the place to come.


BLACKWELL: I feel like there's so much there to do that you can't get bored for as long as you're in Tacoma. And if you will learn more about Tacoma and the other towns on our list, you can do that at our website or by scanning the QR code on your screen right now -- Pamela, Brianna.

KEILAR: That looks awesome.


I love the oysters. That glass blowing looks unbelievable, Victor.


KEILAR: One of my favorite segment of the day.

BLACKWELL: Thank you very much. And I'm surprised that Derek didn't get in there with the glass blowing. He's been part of everything else.

BROWN: I think he figured out, Brianna, somewhere itinerary for travel.

KEILAR: Yes, he would normally. What did he do? He yodeled Jolene, I think, when he did the Dollywood one. That was great. Victor, thank you so much. Really love that.

BROWN: Love a lifetime. All right. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.