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ABC News: Biden Interview Will Be A "Primetime Special" Tomorrow; Dangerous Heatwave Fueling Fires In California; Whistleblower Claims Boeing Knowingly Used Defective Plane Parts; San Luis Obispo, CA Is #5 On CNN's "Best Towns To Visit" List. Aired 1:30- 2p ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 13:30   ET



BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: If he doesn't do well, Jeffrey, our reporting indicates that he has confided in someone close to him that the conditions where he would consider stepping aside or if he's tanking in the polls, with donors, if he's performing poorly in interviews.

So if he does perform poorly in this interview, there we're going to just be so many more questions about whether he should continue in you as the nominee or not.

If he does step aside, what does history tell us about the potential outcome of this ticket?

JEFFREY ENGEL, PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: History doesn't have a lot to tell us, to be honest, because we've never had a convention, a Democrat or Republican, since 1950 to go past the first ballot.

And I would have to presume that if President Biden does decide to step down, that they would have to be re-balloted, obviously, at the -- at the convention, whether or not he says Kamala Harris should get his delegates or not.

But there's a sense in which I think sometimes Democrats, in particular, make this too complicated for themselves.

I mean, there's -- there's an old adage in baseball that you should never do what makes your opponent happy. You know, whether you should pull out a pitcher or not.

Well, in this case, it seems that Donald Trump's team really wants President Biden to stay in.

They think that he is the best chance that they have because of all the good work they've done in laying the groundwork of him being an elderly man that they have the best chance against him. And he is the best recipient of their attacks.

Well, if that's the case, I don't think the Democrats need to do anything that's going to make their opponent, especially one who they think is a threat to democracy, make their opponent happy with his opponent.

KEILAR: All right, we'll see.

Listen, this is going to be a week. We'll see how it goes.

Sara Fischer, Jeffrey Engel, thank you so much to both of you.

And coming up, millions of Americans across the U.S. really feeling the heat this Fourth of July, especially in California,

Stephanie Elam is in one of the Golden State's hotspots -- Stephanie?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Brianna. We are in northern California where we have some record-breaking heat and some dangerous wildfires that's forcing thousands to evacuate.

Coming up, I'm going to tell you what officials are asking people not to do here on this Fourth of July.

You're watching CNN.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Now the National Weather Service says this heatwave out west could rival anything they've seen nearly two decades. They're calling it exceptionally dangerous and lethal.

The triple-digit temps are also raising wildfire concerns. In northern California, thousands of people have already been evacuated as the Thompson Fire burns across more than 3,500 acres.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is live for us in Sacramento.

And, Stephanie, how are conditions there right now?

ELAM: Hot, Boris. If I could just wrap it up in one word, it is really hot. The sun is starting to bake here.

And that is part of the concern is this building heat that we're going to see here, especially for those people who are battling the fire, that Thompson Fire that you talked about, up by Lake Oroville, which happens to be the second-largest reservoir in the state.

That fire is churning through acres and it has thousands of people evacuated because of the conditions up there.

We've just learned right now that 11 firefighters have been injured while battling this blaze. Eight of those injuries are because of heat-related concerns. There getting cleared right now as we're learning from CalFire.

But this is turning out to be a very dangerous fire season. And part of the reason is because of the fact that we had wet winters.

In fact, take a listen to Nick Schuler here, from CalFire, explain why that is.


NICK SCHULER, CALFIRE DEPUTY DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS: This winter, we had a significant amount of rain. But, with rain, brings growth. And the challenge with that is that fuel in vegetation continues to dry out. And in California, that spells the next large wildfire.


ELAM: And what's also really important about this, what's important about this part here is the fact that, because, this year, we've already seen a 1,600 percent increase in the number of acres burned compared to this time last year.

So already burning through more than 130,000 acres in California, according to CalFire. So it shows you this is a much more active year as far as fires are concerned.

And that is why they're asking people, it's Fourth of July, but the last thing you need to do is set off any fireworks that can easily spark the blaze between the heat, the dry conditions, and also with the fires just being able to take off in these winds, they're asking people not to do that.

And they're also saying people should stay inside because the heat is going to be in some parts of this area above 110 degrees for several days. And in some places, 110 degrees is in the shade.

We have seen deaths already, one in San Jose, California. We've also seen some in Nevada as well or in Arizona near the Grand Canyon. Dangerous conditions, Boris.

And so this is one Fourth of July that staying inside would be your best plan of action.

SANCHEZ: And triple-digit temperatures in the shade.

Stephanie Elam, hope you're staying hydrated, my friend. Thanks so much.


Still to come on NEWS CENTRAL, a Boeing whistleblower claiming that production pressure was so great, scrap ports we're used on assembly lines. You're going to want to hear this interview, coming up next.


SANCHEZ: Yet another Boeing whistleblower is describing safety problems, alleging that the company knowingly used defective parts building its planes.

KEILAR: Another blow coming after Boeing has faced some serious questions about its safety record and just these multiple incidents now. They include two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019. And of course, that incident when a door plug blew off a plane, when

it was at 16,000 feet in the air earlier this year.

CNN aviation correspondent, Pete Muntean, sat down with this latest whistleblower.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Everett, Washington is a Boeing company town, then Merle Meyers was a company man. A 30- year veteran of Boeing, Meyers says his job as a quality control manager put his kids through college.

It is a family tradition. His late mother was a Boeing inspector, able to unilaterally decide if a new airplane just off the factory line was fit to fly.

MUNTEAN (on camera): What would she think about what is happening at Boeing?

MERLE MEYERS, BOEING WHISTLEBLOWER: She'd be absolutely livid.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Meyers new allegations detailed an elaborate off-the-books practice centering on parts deemed not safe to put in new airplanes. He is the latest whistleblower to come forward with claims of quality control lapses at Boeing.


This is his first TV interview inspired by the January 5th door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9.

Spray painted red, bad parts deemed not up to Boeing's standards are taken from Boeing's Everett plant and sent to its scrap facility in Auburn.

But then one day, in 2015, Meyers says a crate of bad parts were improperly sent back from Auburn to Boeing's Everett factory.

Meyers alleges the practice continued for years, telling that more than 50,000 parts escaped Boeing quality control.

MUNTEAN (on camera): Fifty-thousand parts?

MEYERS: That's what we counted at the time.

MUNTEAN: It seems like a heck of a lot.

MEYERS: It is a heck of a lot, indeed.

MUNTEAN: What does that say to you?

MEYERS: Well, that says it puts people's lives at risk, not just passengers, but flight crews. And a lot of these are flight critical parts that made it back into the production system. MUNTEAN (voice-over): Company emails show Meyers repeatedly flagged the issue to Boeing's corporate investigations team, pointing out what he says were repeat violations of Boeing's safety rules. But Meyers insists investigators routinely failed to enforce those rules.

In a 2022 email, he wrote that Boeing investigators "ignored eyewitness observations and the hard work done to ensure the safety of future passengers and crew."

MUNTEAN (on camera): Why would they do this?

MEYERS: Schedule, the schedule. To get planes out the door, to make money. Yes.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Meyers believes he was forced out of Boeing last year and is concerned there are still problems at the company.

MEYERS: Well, I think they need to punish, they need to fire people that blatantly violate the process and endanger the flying public. That's a huge problem. And a core requirement of a quality system is to keep bad parts and good parts apart.

MUNTEAN: In a statement, Boeing says it "encourages employees to speak up and that, to ensure the safety, quality and conformance of our products, we investigate all allegations of improper behavior, such as unauthorized movement of parts or mishandling of documents. We then work diligently to address them and make improvements."

Meyers says he is coming forward now because of the pride he has in Boeing. He goes so far as to call it a wonderful company, one he says has been going astray and is in desperate need of change.

MEYERS: But you have to care. Leadership has to care to do that. But if you can't even keep parts segregated from good parts, what else aren't you doing right?


MUNTEAN: You heard Boeing's statement, but it did not address specific allegations by Meyers.

One mystery here is that we do not have an exact accounting of where all these parts ended up. Meyers says they ranged from superficial parts, like fasteners, to parts on the critical wing flaps that are used for landing.

If these parts were not returned to the scrap yard, are whistleblowers worried that they ended up on new plans that were delivered to airlines over the last decade or so?

That and the recent issues at Boeing is why are whistleblower is speaking up right now.

SANCHEZ: Fifty-thousand parts and --

MUNTEAN: Right. SANCHEZ: -- that's what he counted, right?

MUNTEAN: Yes. That's what he counted. And that was his own sort of accounting of this to try and get to the bottom of this. Theoretically, there could be more. It could be something that we just don't know the full scope of.

SANCHEZ: Pete Muntean, thanks so much for that excellent report. Appreciate it.

Still to come, "No one is pushing me out." President Biden, defiant as Democrats remain divided over whether he should stay at the top of their ticket.

And it's become a July 4th tradition just like barbecues and fireworks. We're talking about the Nathan's Hot Dog Eating Contest. It wrapped last hour. Pete Muntean was closely watching.


SANCHEZ: We're going to have the details.

And this year's new winner is Patrick Bertoletti. He ate 58 hot dogs and buns in just 10 minutes. That was five more than the next closest competitor. The all-time men's record, 76, held by Joey Chestnut, who did not compete this year.

Miki Sudo won the women's competition earlier. She downed 51 dogs and buns, a new women's world record.

Make sure you don't miss CNN's "THE FOURTH IN AMERICA," a must-see musical performance -- or rather, I should say they're going to be must-see musical performances, live firework shows from across the country.

Hosted by myself and Dana Bash alongside Brianna Keilar, who is going to be there. Harry Enten is going to be there. There's going to be a hot dog eating competition --


SANCHEZ: -- between Harry and myself.



SANCHEZ: It all starts at 7:00 p.m. Do not miss it.



KEILAR: It can be a challenge finding a great place to stay when you're traveling. But did you know that San Luis Obispo is known as the birthplace of the motel SANCHEZ: We sent our Victor Blackwell to check out some of the most colorful places to rest your head.

Here's number five on our list of the best American towns to visit.


BLACKWELL (voice-over): Along California's central coast lies the town of San Luis Obispo, home to beautiful beaches, sprawling vineyards, and this, the world-famous Madonna Inn.


(on camera): This room looks like a good time.

(voice-over): Founded in 1958, the Madonna Inn is a sight to behold. Its eccentric decor is the brainchild of couple Phyllis and Alex Madonna, the construction mogul.


AMANDA RICH, MARKETING MANAGER, MADONNA INN: He traveled all over California. And he would stay at different places, and every place was like the same. So, he decided he wanted to create this magical place.

We have 110 different rooms, no two alike.

BLACKWELL: There's the Yahoo Room, the Just Heaven Suite and my favorite, the Traveler Suite.

(on camera): Hello.

(voice-over): The Madonna's did keep a few unifying themes in mind, from cherubs to rocks --

(on camera): I wonder how much it is to rig one of these up at home.

(voice-over): -- to the color pink.

RICH: So, Mr. Madonna loved the color pink. You'll see pink pretty much everywhere. You know, everybody looks good in pink.

BLACKWELL (on camera): Even the tennis balls are pink.

BLACKWELL (voice-over): And while it might seem random that a motel like the Madonna Inn found itself in San Luis Obispo, its location makes sense when you consider that the world's first motel was built just three miles away.

THOMAS KESSLER, HISTORY CENTER OF SAN LUIS OBISPO, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR: In the 1920s, it was just starting to become more common to have a car.

Geographically speaking, we are pretty much exactly halfway between Northern California and Southern California. The idea was, if you're driving, you're not going to make it in a day. That's where the Motel Inn came from.

BLACKWELL: A century later, San Luis Obispo is no longer just a stop along the way. It's a destination of its own.

KESSLER: We've got an amazing local wine scene, a local food scene. It's all backed up by a phenomenal downtown that's just a real pleasure to come through.



KEILAR: Victor Blackwell, thank you.

That was fun.

And you can learn more about San Luis Obispo and see the list of America's "Best Towns to Visit" online or by scanning the QR code right here.

Stay with us for which town took the top spot. We'll be right back.


Muntean, Victor Blackwell