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Biden Digs in Against Calls to Step Aside in New Interview; Trump Caught on Video Insulting Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. Aired 9- 9:30a ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 09:00   ET



ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Extremes today. Deadly Hurricane Beryl now battering the Cayman Islands as an intense heat wave hits millions of people across the U.S. this Fourth of July weekend.

Plus Sean "Diddy" Combs again accused of sex trafficking and sexual assault. Details on the embattled music mogul's ninth lawsuit.

I'm Alisyn Camerota with Fredricka Whitfield. John, Sara, and Kate are out this Fourth of July. This is CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Happy Fourth, everyone. Happening right now, an Independence Day in America like no other as the current leader of the land of the free seeks to gain independence from a reelection nightmare.

In a brand new taped radio interview, President Biden again digging in against calls for him to step aside.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is there any reason for the American people to be concerned?



BIDEN: I had a bad debate. But 90 minutes on stage is, does not erase what I've done for three and a half years. I'm proud of the record. And we just got to keep moving.


WHITFIELD: All right. Biden this morning has the backing from several Democratic governors after a critical sit-down. Governor Walz of Minnesota saying he's fit for office and from California's Gavin Newsom, quote, "He's all in and so am I."

But is the top House Democrat all in? Leader Hakeem Jeffries reportedly did not share his current assessment of Biden's future on a call last night. This as two sitting House Democrats are now calling for Biden to step aside and as Netflix co-founder Reed Hastings becomes the biggest Democratic donor to agree.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is outside the White House for us.

So, Arlette, how is the president viewing the next few days?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, President Biden is one week out from that debate and he still has yet to fully assuage the concerns of Democrats who are concerned about keeping him at the top of the Democratic ticket in November.

As you mentioned, at least two House Democrats have publicly called for the president to step aside, and we're told that in a private call last night with top leadership, Democratic leadership in the House, some Democrats express their belief that it is time for President Biden to step down from the Democratic ticket while others argued and worried about what kind of a frenzy there would be if Biden were to step aside and leave a vacuum on the Democratic ticket.

Now President Biden himself gathered Democratic governors from across the country, some attending in person, some virtually, to hear out their concerns and also try to argue that he is ready for a second term. You saw some public expressions from some of those governors saying that they fully support the president. But there were some concerns raised with him in that meeting here at the White House last night.

Now President Biden yesterday also called into a campaign staff call where he insisted that he is remaining in this race until the end, and he will not be pushed out. But privately, the president has acknowledged to at least one key ally how consequential the coming days in his campaign will be. He's trying to take his message directly to voters sitting down for a major interview with ABC News tomorrow.

And he'll also be hitting battleground states like Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. A part of his campaign to reach out to voters also included a pair of interviews with black radio hosts from across the country that he taped yesterday and started to air this morning. And in one of those interviews, the president warned about what a Trump presidency could hold if he's reelected. Take a listen.


BIDEN: He's made it harder for people to vote. He did everything from -- and he still hasn't admitted that he lost the 2020 election. And now he's saying if he loses in 2024, there'll be a bloodbath. Can you imagine the president saying that? A bloodbath?


SAENZ: Now President Biden is at the White House today. I'm told by some sources that the president is expected to actually speak with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later this morning to talk about some developments relating to a hostage and ceasefire framework between Israel and Hamas. The president also will be participating in Fourth of July festivities on the South Lawn later in the day. Biden is welcoming members of the military and their family here for

the celebrations. Of course, President Biden will be surrounded by his family today, who I'm told remains all in on him staying at the 2024 race.

WHITFIELD: And Arlette, thank you so much. I think we're out of time on that. I wanted to ask you -- OK. No, I do have time. OK. I do want to ask you, you know, so the White House is now saying that apparently President Biden did see his doctor, meet with his doctor following the debate. What was said?


SAENZ: Yes, there's been some conflicting information in the last 24 hours. Yesterday our colleague MJ Lee asked White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre if the president had had any medical exams since his physical in February. She answered no, but this morning, the White House is saying that the president was in fact examined by his doctors is after that debate performance last Thursday.

The White House had long said that the president was experiencing a cold on that night. And a spokesperson saying that several days later, the president was seen to check on his cold and was recovering well. Still questions why we're getting this conflicting information at a time when so many Americans have questions about the president's health and his ability to serve the full second term.

WHITFIELD: All right. Arlette Saenz at the White House, thank you so much.

And a quick note, next hour CNN will speak with the radio host who conducted the latest interview with President Biden. Alisyn?

CAMEROTA: OK, Fred, Donald Trump is bashing President Biden. His harsh words were secretly recorded while Trump was talking to supporters on a golf course. No surprise, Donald Trump is also insulting Vice President Kamala Harris.

CNN's Steve Contorno joins me now.

Steve, beyond saying nasty things, how is the Trump campaign handling all of the questions swirling around President Biden?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Alisyn, for the most part, they've remained remarkably subdued throughout the past week. Now that is partially by design. They have been more than happy to let Joe Biden's debate performance stay in the spotlight, as well as all the Democratic hand-wringing that's taken place over the past few days.

However, there is also just the situation and the reality that they're watching this unfold just as much as the rest of the country. And there is little certainty about how this will end. You know, they -- even though Donald Trump has been saying for more than a year that he doesn't think Joe Biden would get to the November election, they have not necessarily been planning any sort of contingencies for if Biden were to step down.

Now we did see them for the first time publicly acknowledged all these scenarios and the speculation about who might replace Joe Biden on the ticket if that should come to pass and they put out this statement yesterday, quote, "Joe Biden is weak, failed, dishonest and not fit for the White House. Every one of them has lied about Joe Biden's cognitive state and supported his disastrous policies over the past four years especially Cackling Copilot Kamala Harris."

Now that comments and that attack on the Democratic field as well as Vice President Harris comes amid all these questions about who might replace President Biden on the ballot if that were to come to pass. I am told, though, that this -- that within Trump's camp, they believe that it's not likely to happen because of all the hurdles to removing Joe Biden at this time, also because of his own defiance here.

And as I talked to one Republican pollster, they said that they'd probably prefer it that way because the devil you know is better than the devil you don't know.

CAMEROTA: Steve Contorno, thank you. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's bring in two Democratic strategists now to discuss Biden's path forward, Joe Trippy and Matt Bennett.

Good to see -- hopefully I could see you soon. Both of you. All right.

So, Joe, to you first, I mean, this is a growing tidal wave that seems very uncomfortable not just for the president, the White House, but -- there you are. OK. I'm like, am I just talking to myself? OK. To a whole lot of people, you know, the White House, the American people. So, you know, why do you believe President Biden deserves the benefit of the doubt that he will make a decision best for country?

JOE TRIPPI, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, first of all, I don't think anybody I think take the president as word. No one is going to force him out. If he decides that to make some changes, it'll be his own decision. And I think it goes down to what we've been talking about a lot this morning, 248 years ago, we threw out a king.

We -- you know, we don't pay fealty to our leader. There is no -- there's no party -- we're not a party that after 34 felony convictions still no one says you should get out of the race for the good of the country. In fact only I think the "Philadelphia Inquirer" whose editorial was saying that about President Trump.

I think what we're seeing is healthy. This is democracy, this is how it works. A party that isn't afraid to ask the tough questions, sees reality, looks at what happened at that debate, and yes, the president -- and questions him. And you're seeing that across the board in our party that you would never ever see in the party where now the Supreme Court has said, hey, you can do anything he wants. He's got immunity when he comes back in.

So, one, I think Joe Biden has always, in my view, done what's best for the country. That's what -- he will make that decision. He's the only one who will make it.


And if he decides to stay in this party will unite and fight. If he decides that he is -- that in the best interest to save democracy, which is what he is, I think will go down in history for doing in 2020 and again, for whatever decision he makes now I think that the party will unite around whoever emerges from that.

But this is all in Joe Biden's hands and no one else's. And -- but I do think what you're seeing is healthy. It's a party that understands what's at stake here and wants to do what's right as Joe Biden will.

WHITFIELD: OK. So, Matt, healthy or do you see danger in this kind of cacophony of pressure for Biden to step down, you know, that -- do you concern yourself that it potentially undermines, you know, not just his leadership, but, you know, America's stand on the world stage even?

MATT BENNETT, EXECUTIVE VP OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND CO-FOUNDER, THIRD WAY: I'm not particularly worried about America's stand on the world stage. The president is going to lead us into the NATO summit next week and he's going to do so capably. He always does. He's been a tremendously effective president. And the reason there is so much upset in Democratic politics right now is because nobody wants this.

Every Democrat deeply respects and admires and has great affection for Joe Biden. He, as Joe Trippi said, has really saved democracy in 2020 by beating Trump. He has been incredibly effective, even with very narrow margins in Congress and passed huge pieces of very important legislation. So Democrats love and admire Joe Biden, and we know that he can lead us on the world stage going forward.

But we are very worried about what we saw last week. And I think the thing that worries many of us is that it's been almost a week since and really all we've seen from the president is two speeches that he gave with teleprompters. So if he is to go forward, and as Joe said, only he can make that decision, he needs to show that he can do a lot more than that. He can do town hall meetings. You can do press conferences, you can do off-the-cuff remarks, and if he can, then everyone will unite behind him. And if he can't, we trust that he'll do the right thing.

WHITFIELD: And I mean, Joe, the clock is ticking. I mean, we're talking about just four months until election day. So, OK, it's been a week since that debate. But as the president contemplates and as you underscore, it's his decision to make, can it get too late to step aside or be replaced if that ends up being his decision?

TRIPPI: Look, I think the July 4th weekend, part of what's happening here is all these members of Congress, senators, are going to be home in their districts. They're going to be talking to the American people. I mean, it'd be in these parades today and other things. I think that there's a period when they all come back where the president will I think have some time and still, you know, can be out there and do the things that Matt has talked about that he needs to get out and do.

But I also think that president is going to listen to those voices when they come back, and tell them what they're hearing, and that's where I think, look, he -- I truly believe that Joe Biden deep down knows that Donald Trump -- it's his whole being right now, the soul of the nation, fighting for that and stopping Donald Trump. And he's going to do what needs to be done to put the nation and call on Republicans, independents, and Democrats who care about our precious democracy and what we've held for 248 years.

He's going to do that. I don't think there's a lot of time. I don't think there's weeks. But he will do what's right. And I would expect shortly after the July 4th this weekend when people come back next week that he'll have a sound idea of what he needs to do and will do it.

WHITFIELD: OK. We'll leave it there. Joe Trippi, Matt Bennett, great to see both of you. Thank you so much.

All right. Hurricane Beryl right now slamming the Cayman Islands after leaving a path of destruction across Jamaica where this deadly storm is headed next. Plus a summer scorcher fueling wildfires in California. Thousands of people evacuated as hundreds of firefighters battle flames and exceptionally dangerous heat. And Sean "Diddy" Combs sued by another woman directly accusing him of sexual assault and sex trafficking. The new allegations in the ninth lawsuit against the music mogul since November.



WHITFIELD: All right. Music mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs is facing his ninth lawsuit, this one filed by a former adult film actress. Adria English says she worked for Combs between 2004 and 2009, and during that time, she accuses him of sex trafficking and sexual assault. An attorney for Combs denies the allegations.

CNN entertainment reporter Lisa France is following this for us.

So, Lisa, this court filing is some 114 pages long. What do we know about the allegations?


LISA RESPERS FRANCE, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: Well, what we know and what's incredibly interesting to people is that she says that Sean "Diddy" Combs used her as a, quote-unquote, "sexual pawn" for the gratification of others at his white parties. These white parties, by the way, are famous. They kicked off in 1998. They ran from 1998 2009, and they were held around Labor Day.

They were a who's who of people in the entertainment world, the business world, it was Diddy's attempt to fuse hip-hop with old money. And it was extremely successful. So because the suit involves white parties, it's really capturing a lot of attention because people remember those parties. He was so well-known for them. And for her to say that she was sex trafficked and that he forced her into prostitution as she alleges, is a really major deal.

Now, of course. Diddy's attorney, one of his attorneys says that no matter how many lawsuits are filed, it does not change the fact that his client is innocent. They say that Diddy never sex trafficked anyone, never sexually assaulted anyone, and that, you know, they also went on to say that unfortunately we live in a country where people can just make up anything and can file a lawsuit for any reason and without any proof.

And so they're fighting back against the allegation. And as you pointed out, this is the ninth lawsuit since November when Cassie Ventura, who was a former girlfriend of Diddy's filed, that suit against him and that's the only one that's been settled thus far.

WHITFIELD: Yes. And a major deal not because, you know, of the allegations now being imposed on him, but I think you're also underscoring the white parties brought in so many people, you know, from business elite to, you know, celebrities. So it could have far- reaching implications for a lot of people.

FRANCE: Absolutely.

WHITFIELD: Lisa France, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

FRANCE: Thank you, Fred.

WHITFIELD: Thank you.

All right, Hurricane Beryl now lashing the Cayman Islands, bringing strong winds and the potential for four foot-storm surges. Plus a dangerous heat wave is sweeping across the country this holiday weekend. Plus how the Dodgers' star pitcher is transforming tourism in Los Angeles.



CAMEROTA: Hurricane Beryl is soaking the Cayman Islands at this hour. The category three storm now whipping winds of 120 miles per hour. Beryl pounded Jamaica's southern coast yesterday, 12 hours of unrelenting torrential rain.

Let's get to meteorologist Elisa Raffa.

So, Elisa, where does it head next?

ELISA RAFFA, AMS METEOROLOGIST: We're setting our eyes on Mexico next as we go into tomorrow. Right now, we're still looking at tropical storm-force conditions in the Cayman Islands. They are expecting some flash flooding as well, from several inches of rain that they've already gotten, and still a major category three hurricane with 120- mile-per-hour winds with that center sitting 50 miles to the southwest of Grand Cayman. They've had gusts this morning, over 55 miles per hour and Grand

Cayman Island right now are still finding gusts over 40 miles per hour with some storm surge up to four feet. Now, as we go through the next day, we could find some additional weakening because there's this big area of wind shear right ahead of Beryl. Wind shear is that wind energy upstairs in the atmosphere and hurricanes hate it. It really chops away at some of the intensity, which is why we have found this kind of slowly coming down since it hit Jamaica.

But it will continue to maintain hurricane strength as it gets towards Mexico going into tomorrow, looking at another landfall here somewhere on the Yucatan Peninsula, could find that storm surge there up to four to six feet and you can see that I, again, continues to stay with hurricane strength near Cancun and Cozumel. And then we're looking at getting back into the Gulf of Mexico where it's got warm waters again and can intensify for another time.

We have rain forecast. We're looking at some four to six inches of rain across the Yucatan Peninsula, even some totals up to 10 inches are possible. And that could cause some flash flooding concerns. So here's that official track. You find it maintaining hurricane strength. That's why you've got the hurricane warnings in effect along the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, then it gets back into the Gulf where it could intensify again, maybe make another landfall as a hurricane somewhere on the border of Texas.

And we'll have to watch this closely to see where the heaviest rain and storm surge could set up as we go into the weekend. We're really watching this dome of high pressure that's causing heat across the south to see if this weakens any, if it can make that turn to the north into Texas as we go into the weekend and going into early next week. So something to watch pretty closely, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: OK. Elisa, thank you very much for all of that.

For more information about how you can help Hurricane Beryl victims, you can go to or you can text Beryl, B-E-R-Y-L to 707070 to donate. Fred?

WHITFIELD: All right. The West Coast feeling the heat today. Extremely high temperatures reaching above 110 degrees in some areas. The high temperatures not helping fire officials as they battle a dangerous wildfire. The Thompson Fire now only 7 percent contained according to CalFire. Officials say it has scorched nearly 4,000 acres.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is joining us live now from California.

Stephanie, what's the latest?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's just way too many things all together at one time, Fred, because you've got these scorching temperatures along with that heat. You've got this blaze, we've seen fires popping up across the state over the last couple of days in this, and this is all leading to very dangerous conditions for those firefighters.