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Today, Biden Meets With Democratic Governors Asking for More Openness; Hurricane Beryl Churns Toward Jamaica, Landfall Expected Today; Washington Post Reports, Justice Department Plans to Pursue Trump Cases Past Election Day. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 03, 2024 - 07:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's a very, very good point, and we are, of course, in an incredibly consequential moment that reminds us of history. So, I want to say thank you to the panel, and I just want to leave you with one of the historical moments where we faced -- we had a president facing something like this.


HARRY TRUMAN, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT: Whoever the Democrats nominate for president this year, he will have this record to run upon. I shall not be a candidate for re-election. I have served my country long and I think efficiently and honestly. I shall not accept a renomination. I do not feel that it is my duty to spend another four years in the White House.


SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: A campaign in crisis and a demand for transparency. Some Democrats calling for Biden to get out of the race this week, and Biden campaign's damage control attempts seem to be making the problem worse. The White House staff being told they must get on an all-call today.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Already an historic deadly storm, Hurricane Beryl is just hours away from potentially catastrophic landfall. We have a brand new storm track.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: And the battle against Alzheimer's just gained a new weapon. What this now means in the fight against this terrible disease.

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

SIDNER: Happening now, we're giving you a live look at the White House where this morning President Biden is under new unprecedented pressure from top members of his own party to be more open about his health and mental state. Some Democrats being more blunt, demanding he get out of the race this week. And today, Democratic governors are meeting with Biden to discuss their concerns about his candidacy. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. J. B. PRITZKER (D-IL): I'd like to hear more from him. When you come off a bad debate, you need to remind people why you're the right guy to elect.

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): I don't think that there's anything wrong with asking the, the president to, to talk to the American people a little bit more about his health. We want to make sure he's doing okay. We all know him.


SIDNER: All of this as Biden's campaign enters day six of the post- debate crisis mode. And despite days of trying to calm party panic, damage control efforts this morning only seem to be causing more problems. Overnight, Biden said he almost fell asleep at the debate because of jet lag. Shortly, an all-staff White House call is reportedly happening.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is joining us outside the White House. What are you learning, Arlette, about this phone call that all the staff has been told they need to be on?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Sara, White House Chief of Staff Jeff Zients is expected to hold a call with staff in just a few hours. We're told that this is a call that's essentially touching base with the staff. But it comes at a time when President Biden, as you noted, is under significant pressure from within his own party, as there are starting to see some real serious cracks in support for the president following that debate performance.

Now, a part of President Biden's work for today, we'll be trying to reassure party leaders as well as hear out some of their concerns. A bit later this evening, the president will be meeting here at the White House with Democratic governors to hear some of their concerns and really try to shore up support within the Democratic Party. That's expected that some of these governors will also be joining the call virtually.

The president today is also expected to pick up the phone at various points of the day to speak with congressional leaders. A source told us that the President Biden did connect with the House minority leader, Hakeem Jeffries, just yesterday, but it comes as there has been at least one lot Democratic lawmaker who has publicly called for President Biden to step aside in this race. That is Congressman Lloyd Doggett. And, privately, many Democrats are expressing -- beginning to express concerns that the president needs to step aside for the good of the party but also for the good of the country.

Now, President Biden at that fundraiser last night in Virginia tried to offer a new explanation for his debate performance, saying that part of it was due to the fact that he was crossing the globe a few times for international travel with trips to Italy and France. He told those donors that he almost fell asleep on the debate stage, which garnered some laughter in the room, but it's unclear whether that explanation, in any way, would ease any concerns within the party about the president's performance and future in this race.

Now, that there are also growing calls for more transparency relating to the president's health as well as his mental acuity. That is an issue that was a major focus at the White House press briefing with Karine Jean-Pierre yesterday. This is what she said specifically when it came to the issue of mental acuity and whether the White House might provide more information on that front. Take a listen.



KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The medical team said it is not warranted in this case. We have put forward a thorough, transparent annual report on his health. So, they have said that is not warranted. It is not necessary. Again, we understand. We understand. We're not taking away from what you all saw or what the American people saw. We understand. It was a bad night.

REPORTER: Is anyone in the White House hiding information about the president's health or his ability to do the job day to day?

JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely not.


SAENZ: Now, all of this conversation comes as new CNN polling has found that President Biden's standing in the race after this debate, a stands pretty similar to where he was in polling prior to the debate. But one thing that is also notable in that polling that was released yesterday is about three quarters of Americans believe that Democrats would do better in the 2024 election without Biden at the top of the Democratic ticket.

Now, the Biden campaign continues to insist the president is remaining in this race today. They are starting their own messaging push, trying to turn the focus directly to former President Donald Trump by releasing a new ad focusing on that Supreme Court ruling on presidential immunity. So, for the Biden campaign, they're really trying to re-center this as a debate around Trump, while so many questions swirl within the Democratic Party about President Biden's future at the top of the Democratic ticket.

SIDNER: All right, Arlette Saenz, and we also should mention that the governors will be meeting with Biden today to try to allay their concerns. I appreciate your reporting there from outside the White House. John?

BERMAN: Yes. So, where do things stand this morning? Which way is the momentum flowing? We've got our best man on it. CNN's Isaac Dovere is with us now. Isaac, you woke up, and what was on your phone this morning, if you were lucky enough to sleep? What are you hearing from Democrats around the country?

EDWARD-ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR REPORTER: Not a lot of sleep for anybody these days, John. But what is going on here is a real mix of emotions and feelings about what should happen next. A lot of Democrats starting to get ever more concerned, pushing for a decision from Joe Biden to come quickly. Some wanted this week and the decision that they want is for him to step aside. The other Democrats saying that they are ready to try to move past this if they can. This is playing out.

Let's take a listen to what Lloyd Doggett, the Texas congressman, said yesterday, which got a lot of people both excited to have somebody step out, but others saying this is not what they need right now.


REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): I salute President Biden. I just feel that it's time for him to step aside if we were to be able to protect what he allowed us to gain in 2020. He delivered us from Trump then. He could be delivering us to Trump this year.


DOVERE: And, look, that's Lloyd Doggett, who is a congressman from not a swing district and not a too prominent figure in the party. Other more prominent people are talking publicly. And, look, there's also lots of unnamed Democrats at this moment, one telling CNN yesterday, we are deeply concerned about his trajectory and his ability to win. We want to give him space to make a decision, but we will be increasingly vocal about our concerns if he doesn't.

That is going to be the theme of the governors' meeting tonight. It's going to be the theme of everything happening today. People looking for reassurance from Joe, and noting that they still have not seen very much of him over the course of these days. He had that one fundraiser last night, one event during the day. We don't expect to see much of him today. And then there's Friday, this big interview that he has. That may be the watershed moment.

BERMAN: Prediction time, very quickly, Isaac. Do you think by the end of the day, more elected Democrats besides Lloyd Doggett come out and say they would like to see Joe Biden step aside?

DOVERE: The way that things are going, I think it is likely that you will see some more voices emerge, but we don't know exactly how this is going.

BERMAN: We know you're working the phones, Isaac. Get back to work. Let us know what you hear. Thanks so much for being with us this morning. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Well, there is new reporting that the Justice Department is planning to push ahead with the prosecution against Donald Trump, even after the election, and even if he wins.

And Hurricane Beryl headed for a direct hit on Jamaica today. How the country is preparing. And look at the destruction already left behind in the storm's wake.

And he had six number one hits. He just served 18 months in the military. And now one of the stars of the huge K-pop group, BTS, is set to be an Olympic torchbearer.



BOLDUAN: Right now, Jamaica is under a curfew and waiting for the monster storm Hurricane Beryl to arrive. Beryl is in line for a direct hit on the island as a powerful Category 4 storm. The core of Beryl is expected to impact Jamaica by midday, bringing winds around 140 miles per hour and generating life threatening storm surge as well. The island has not had a major hurricane come even within 50 miles of its shores since 2007, but already this storm has killed at least seven people across the Caribbean.

We're going to show you the view right there. That is the view from hurricane hunters flying above the storm yesterday.


Beryl quickly became the earliest ever Cat 5 hurricane in the Atlantic. Thankfully, it has weakened slightly, albeit again, slightly. It's still a Cat 4.

Meteorologist Elisa Raffa is in the CNN Weather Center for us. CNN's Rafael Romo is in Jamaica's capital city waiting for it all. Rafael, what are you seeing there? What's happening?

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kate, good morning. Well, here is a calm before the storm. We had rain about 30 minutes ago here where we're standing in Kingston, the capital. But the winds have died down. There's no more rain anymore, but this is going to drastically change in the next few hours. And overnight, we heard from a Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness, who said that his country must take this hurricane very seriously.

And the reality is that there's a great deal of anxiety among the population. People here have seen what happened in places like Barbados and Grenada and know the same kind of devastation can come their way in the next few hours. So, there's a lot of people who are very nervous right now, people who flock to the stores to get those necessities, food, water and other things.

Also, we have heard from a top government official here who told us the main concern for the government was that they needed to warn people who live in low lying areas to move to safer ground. Senator Andrew Samuda said that the government is making available more than 780 shelters for people who may need it.

And this is the earliest hurricane, a Category 5 hurricane, on record in the Atlantic, and it has already ripped through parts of the South Caribbean, killing at least seven people in three different countries. The prime minister also said that all government forces are going to be fully mobilized and they're going to assist in relief efforts and also to make sure they can maintain a public order once the hurricane has passed. This is what he had to say. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ANDREW HOLNESS, JAMAICAN PRIME MINISTER: If you live in a low lying area and the area is historically prone to flooding and landslide, or if you live on the banks of a river or a gully, I implore you to evacuate to a shelter or to safer ground.


ROMO: And, Kate, the path of the hurricane becomes less clear. Thursday night, it is expected to make a landfall somewhere alongside Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula and Northern Belize at some point between Thursday night and Friday morning. Now, back to you.

BOLDUAN: Rafael, thank you so much for that.

Let's talk more about the track, what Jamaica is about to see. Let's bring in Elisa Raffa now. Elisa, talk to me about the latest on the track, what Jamaica needs to be preparing for and what you're seeing.

ELISA RAFFA, CNN METEOROLOGIST: I mean, for Jamaica, this could be something that they haven't seen literally in decades. We're talking about a Category 4 hurricane, still with 145 mile-per-hour sustained winds. And look at the history that they've had with major hurricanes. This is going back to 1980. You can see a lot have made passes, but only one has made landfall. That was Gilbert in 1988. We're talking more than 40 years since they've dealt with possibly a direct hit like this.

We could see landfall on the southern part of the island. Even if that eye doesn't go on land, it will pass awfully close. We're talking about up to nine feet of storm surge, incredibly heavy rain for the island, and then it continues to pass as we get towards the end of the week, headed towards Mexico.

Now, when we talk about heavy rain, we're talking about up to a foot possible in parts of Jamaica because the way this moisture is coming in, tropical moisture rushing up the mountains, that will enhance some of the rainfall totals and get them closer to a foot, so really worried about landslides and flash flooding.

What we also need to watch is there is some wind shear or that wind energy that tries to kill hurricanes. It's nearby. So, we'll have to see if this can waiver that intensity at all. But we still have some record warm ocean temperatures as well. So we'll need to watch this very closely in the coming days. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Absolutely, Elise. Thank you so much. Jamaica in the crosshairs right now. Sarah?

SIDNER: It's terrifying, but it's so beautiful looking at those pictures of Santo Domingo as well.

What will the Department of Justice do about Donald Trump if he wins the presidency? What will they do about the remaining cases? We have details.

And a new tool to fight Alzheimer's, the promising clinical trial results of a newly approved FDA drug.



SIDNER: New for you this morning, the Justice Department is saying it plans to continue to pursue federal criminal cases against Donald Trump past Election Day, even if he is elected. That is according to The Washington Post.

CNN's Katelyn Polantz has more on this. How would this work?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, Sara, the Justice Department's longstanding policy dating back to the 1970s, the Nixon administration, is that a sitting president can't be prosecuted with federal crimes. But there are these two federal cases against Donald Trump that still have a ways to go in both in the 2020 election case in DC, where that immunity decision just came down, as well as in the classified documents case in Florida. And those cases, The Washington Post says, are very likely to continue to be pushed through the courts or to continue to process through the courts after Election Day if Donald Trump wins the presidency.

It's because the policies of the Justice Department, it is about a sitting president. That's different than the president-elect if Donald Trump were to win and be in a transition period.


All of this at the Justice Department is based on these longstanding policies. And one thing we know is the person who wrote a lot of those policies, he's on the special counsel's office team now, and has even been in court in the past couple weeks, Sara. So, there's a lot of thought going into this.

At the same time, Donald Trump is fighting all of these cases, of course. And one of the things that he is saying on his Trump Truth account, total exoneration, it is clear that the Supreme Court's brilliantly written and historic decision ends all of Crooked Joe Biden's witch hunts against me, including the White House and DOJ- inspired civil hoaxes in New York. With that sort of statement from Donald Trump, his lawyers are also fighting in court and want to reprieve from him being sentenced next week in the hush money case. There's going to be more discussion of how the immunity that the Supreme Court is allowing around the presidency could impact that case by the state prosecutors in New York. And now the sentencing is not set until September, if it even happens then. Sara?

SIDNER: All right. Katelyn Polantz, I know you're watching all of these varied cases all over several states. I appreciate your time this morning. John?

BERMAN: Everyone is freaking the F out. That is how one official described the mood in the White House this morning. And we have new reporting on how the Biden campaign hopes to prove his debate performance was an anomaly.

And breaking overnight, more than 13,000 people under evacuation orders as a fast moving wildfire barrels towards a neighborhood. We are standing by for updates on the damage this morning.