Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Dr. Sanjay Gupta: Biden Should Undergo Cognitive Testing; New U.K. Prime Minister Keir Stamper Speaks; U.S. Investigating Doping Case Involving Chinese Swimmers. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 05, 2024 - 07:30   ET




FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. New this morning, CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is calling on President Joe Biden to undergo cognitive testing and share his results with the American people after what he calls "concerning behavior" at last week's presidential debate.

Sanjay Gupta is joining us right now. OK, so, Dr. Sanjay Gupta --


WHITFIELD: -- I mean, what provoked you to do this?

GUPTA: Well, Fred, good morning.

You know, first of all, this is not a political essay, it's a medical one. And I think a lot of the things that people saw at that debate weren't necessarily new, but they were sustained --


GUPTA: -- and I think more pronounced than what we had seen in the past. And I think that's what really provoked the essay.

I think that the question really being raised is have we been looking at episodes -- intermittent episodes or is this reflective of some sort of deeper underlying condition. And that's what I really wanted to get at.

I mean, let me tell you a few of the things that specifically jumped out. And I will also mention as you're looking at some of these specific signs that neurologists noted -- that after the debate, I got a lot of calls, texts, emails from my neurology and brain science colleagues from around the world, frankly, sort of highlighting some of these things.


But if you take a look, slow response time. I think we saw that, sort of, in a sustained fashion. Definitive word retrieval mix-ups -- rambling, sometimes confused speech. Reduced voice volume as well and reduced facial movements.

And these things can all be connected. We often think of cognition simply being memory, but if someone has an underlying movement disorder, for example, that can actually affect cognition in the sense that people may have more flattened affect face and not really be speaking as quicky or as loudly.

Now, if it were -- if he were my patient -- if he were my dad, frankly, I would want to get more testing done. Cognitive testing and more detailed movement disorder testing as well.

Now, you've heard, Fred, what the White House has said about this. They say look, it was essentially -- it was a bad night for him. He had late nights, he had jet lag, he had a cold. We heard he wasn't taking any medications for that. And those things can cause temporary brain fog if you will.


GUPTA: But again, this idea -- are we looking at episodes of something or is this a condition that should be more fully investigated? And it really seems to be more of the latter.

WHITFIELD: OK. So we understand his last examination was about four months ago -- full examination -- about four months ago.

GUPTA: Right.

WHITFIELD: So of these items that you're talking about, are these progressive? Do they sneak in? Are these characteristics that have been, I guess, rising to the surface for a while in which for neurologists to diagnose? I mean, help us assess --

GUPTA: Yeah.

WHITFIELD: -- whether this is a blip in a reel or if it's something that has progressively gotten this way.

GUPTA: Yeah, that -- I think that is the question. Again, this idea are we looking at episodes and are these --


GUPTA: -- episodes sort of progressively and linearly getting worse, or do they really just fluctuate and more easily attributed to other things? Again, a viral illness, or lack of sleep, or low blood sugar, or something like that.


GUPTA: What the -- what the medical report from February said -- and it was a six-page report. There were some 20 medical specialists that spent time with the president, including a neurologist, we are told, at that point.

And they ruled out specific things like stroke, like multiple sclerosis, but also Parkinson's disease, for example. They said he did not have these things. And I will point out Parkinson's disease is the most common cause of what is known as Parkinsonism, but there are other causes as well. And they weren't fully -- it didn't -- at least from the medical report, did not seem to be fully investigated.

And again, that's the sort of testing that we're talking about. If you want to distinguish if these are something that are more of these episodes versus a condition, you really do need that sort of testing.

And I'll point out as well that you've heard about these cognitive tests, such as the Montreal Cognitive Assessment. I think we have an image of that you can see. This is about a 10-to-20-minute exam that someone will do. And it's basically a blunt screening tool to try and figure out is there something to be more concerned about.

We were told President Trump has had that done twice. It did not appear, at least in the medical records, that President Biden had that done. And when the White House was asked about it, essentially, the response was the doctors say it's not necessary.

WHITFIELD: Hmm, interesting.

All right, Dr. Sanjay Gupta. We'll see if the president or the White House, or the doctors take your recommendation. Appreciate it. Interesting reading on your essay.

GUPTA: You got it.

WHITFIELD: All right, Erica.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: Well, joining me now, CNN political commentator and Democratic strategist, Maria Cardona. And former Trump administration official, Matt Mowers.

Maria, I just want to pick up where Fred and Sanjay just left off. Would it be in the president's interest to follow through on some of these tests? Could ask Donald Trump to the same thing. But do you think that would help?

MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I don't have a medical degree, Erica, so I'm going to leave this in the hands of the world- renown doctors that surround President Biden and I'm not going to delve into that at all.

HILL: I'm not asking you to make -- but you know I'm not asking you to -- I would never ask you to make a medical -- a medical decision. I wouldn't do it either. I just mean from a purely --

Let's talk about the strategy there, right? The communications this week have been not great to put it mildly. There's been a ton of cleanup --

CARDONA: Um-hum.

HILL: -- happening just as recently --


HILL: -- as yesterday after the president told that group of Democratic governors on Wednesday night he was going to schedule events before 8:00 p.m. so he could get more sleep. Sleep a little bit more. Work a little bit less.

Then shortly after that --


HILL: -- you had the White House coming out and saying oh, no -- we have this very vigorous travel schedule.

All I'm saying is, to Sanjay's point, would it be helpful -- and perhaps for both candidates -- to sit for more intense cognitive testing to show where they're at because voters, for months now, have had concern about the age of both candidates.


CARDONA: I think what would be helpful, Erica, is for both candidates to show that they can do that by being in front of audiences and by doing exactly what the campaign has announced President Biden is going to do.

And there's no question that so much is riding on the things that they have just announced that President Biden is going to do. The interview tonight with George Stephanopoulos. The events that he has coming up in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, all of the swing states. My understanding is he's going to sit down with additional journalists during those trips.

I think that is what is going to show the audience, and voters, and everyone who is watching and waiting with bated breath for the president to prove that he does have what it takes to not just move on with a successful campaign but to be able to carry out what it takes to be president for another four years. I think that's more important than showing us a cognitive test.

But what I also will say, Erica, is that as we are focused -- again, breathlessly reporting on every single thing that happens with President Biden -- let's not lose sight of the fact of the other guy that is in the running.

In The New York Times piece that was so detailed in what was going on with Joe Biden's health, there were a couple of very interesting paragraphs -- in-depth paragraphs about what is going on with Donald Trump's cognitive decline. And those are things that we cannot ignore.

And what I'm hearing from voters is let's take a breath. Let's give the campaign and President Biden time to prove what they have put out in terms of the schedule -- and they absolutely need to do that, and they probably took too much time to do that.

HILL: Um-hum. CARDONA: But now we understand what it is that they are planning to do. Let's give them some time because so many voters, Erica, regardless of what you're seeing in the polls, are all in to support Joe Biden if he's going to stay in because they understand the existential threat that is Donald Trump.

HILL: Matt --

CARDONA: And they will take Joe Biden on his worst day than somebody like Donald Trump who is going to be such a threat and such a danger to so many communities around the country.

HILL: Matt, we have been talking this week about how this has really -- this has been a gift for the Trump campaign. Donald Trump uncharacteristically quiet for much of the week, which has also been attributed to the professionals he has running his campaign this time around -- that he's actually listening to them.

But there is also rumbling -- and we've heard from our own reporters, and there's some additional reporting out from Axios as well this morning -- that there is some concern that if there were a change at the top of the ticket -- if Donald Trump were no longer running against Joe Biden -- if it was, for example, Kamala Harris -- that the vice president could really bring a lot of energy into this race and potentially excite voters.

Is she a more formidable threat to Donald Trump?

MATT MOWERS, FORMER TRUMP ADMINISTRATION OFFICIAL (via Webex by Cisco): Well, I think the challenge for the Democratic Party right now is they're stuck between an outcome that they know is going to fail, which is keeping Joe Biden, and an outcome that is likely to fail, which is replacing him with Kamala Harris.

And the reason you know that is take out even polling from this week. If you look at their favorable-unfavorable ratings, Joe Biden, up until this past week, was the second-least popular politician in America. The most unpopular was Kamala Harris.

Any time she's been in the limelight -- any time she's actually been under that spotlight you've seen her unfavorable numbers increase.

Not to mention the fact that she owns a number of the policy failures of the Biden administration, whether you're talking about immigration, which she was put in charge of early in the administration and clearly has failed on. And voters are not responding well to the record of the Biden-Harris administration on immigration.

But if you look at the stagflation continuing to come -- the inflation that we're seeing as result of these overspending that happened in the first two years -- she was right there in advance of that as well.

Not to mention the fact that she is much easier to draw as a traditional left-wing progressive activist type of president in a way that actually has been very hard to paint Joe Biden as. I mean, you even saw some comments from Jason Miller today saying that Joe Biden enables the left wing, but Kamala Harris it he left wing.

And I think that's the type of argument you'll see play out should she actually replace Joe Biden which, I'll be honest, I'm still skeptical of because I think there's too many Democratic strategists, not to mention Joe Biden himself, who also know that the moment it's Harris versus Trump, she 1) starts to race down as we've seen in every poll, and she hasn't really performed all that well every time the lights are on her.

HILL: I will say she may start the race down but in those head-to- head matchups in the most recent CNN polling she actually fares a little bit better than Joe Biden post-debate in that head-to-head matchup with Donald Trump.

Maria, let's look at the broader impact here, right? There is donors certainly become more and more vocal. The New York Times has reporting this morning that a number of donors are trying to raise $100 million to essentially put into an escrow fund if the president does not step aside. They figure they could then use that for down-ballot races. I have heard from a number of lawmakers this week who are concerned about those down-ballot races.


CARDONA: Um-hum.

HILL: Is enough of the --


HILL: -- impact being taken into account by the folks in the campaign?

CARDONA: I think time will tell. Again, Erica, there's no question that there is a lot of concern out there.

I think this week is going to be pivotal because all of the lawmakers that you are talking about that are concerned are going to be in their home districts, in their home states hearing from constituents. Hearing about what their voters want. Hearing about what the status of their races are.

And they're going to come back here next week, and they're going to let the campaign and let the White House know what is up with their races. I think that's critical.

Again, I think what happens tonight and what happens over the weekend with the president's events that he has coming up is going to inject a lot of knowledge into all of that. So let's take a beat. Let's take a moment.

All the polls that you mentioned are up and down. There are some polls that actually have Joe Biden ahead because Independents were so turned off about what Donald Trump said during the debate.

HILL: Maria Cardona, Matt Mowers, good to see you both. Thank you -- Fred.

CARDONA: Thank you, Erica.

WHITFIELD: All right, Erica, we're going to take you to London now -- this breaking news. The new U.K. Prime Minister Keir Starmer is speaking. His Labour Party's election landslide crushed the Conservative Party routing many of its top members from their seats in Parliament and ending 14 years of conservative rule -- a huge shift in power.

Let's listen in from 10 Downing.

KEIR STAMPER, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Nurses, builders, drivers, carers -- people doing the right thing, working harder every day, recognized at moments like this before yet as soon as the cameras stop rolling their lives are ignored. I want to say very clearly to those people not this time.

Changing a country is not like flicking a switch. The world is now a more volatile place. This will take a while. But have no doubt that the work of change begins immediately. Have no doubt that we will rebuild Britain with wealth created in every community.

Our NHS back on its feet facing the future. Secure borders. Safer streets. Everyone treated with dignity and respect at work. The opportunity of clean British power cutting your energy bills for good.

And brick-by-brick we will rebuild the infrastructure of opportunity. The world-class schools and colleges, and the affordable homes that I know are the ingredients of hope for working people. The security that working-class families like mine can build their lives around.

Because if I asked you now whether you believe that Britain will be better for your children, I know too many of you would say no. And so, my government will fight every day until you believe again. From now on, you have a government unburdened by doctrine, guided only by the determination to serve your interests. To defy quietly those who have written our country off.

You have given us a clear mandate and we will use it to deliver change. To restore service and respect to politics. End the era of noisy performance. Tread more lightly on your lives, and unite our country.

Four nations standing together again facing down, as we have so often in our past, the challenges of an insecure world, committed to a calm and patient rebuilding. So with respect and humility I invite you all to join this government of service in the mission of national renewal. Our work is urgent, and we begin it today.

Thank you very much.

WHITFIELD: All right. The U.K.'s new Prime Minister Keir Starmer promising to break the cycle of inflation.

All right. Now, in this country, still ahead, a criminal investigation launched after 11 Chinese swimmers who previously failed doping tests are being allowed to compete in the Paris Olympics.



WHITFIELD: The U.S. government has launched a criminal investigation into doping allegations involving nearly two dozen Chinese swimmers. They tested positive for a banned performance-enhancing substance just a few months before the Tokyo Olympics in 2021. Several of those swimmers won medals in Tokyo and 11 are set to compete in the Paris Olympics just three weeks away now.

The investigation follows mounting pressure from Congress and Olympic swimming icon Michael Phelps, who testified recently on Capitol Hill about the inconsistent application of doping tests.

Joining us right now, CNN sports analyst Christine Brennan. Christine, great to see you.

So, the Paris Olympics just around the corner. So what are the realistic expectations from this kind of investigation?


CHRISTINE BRENNAN, CNN SPORTS ANALYST (via Webex by Cisco): Fred, obviously, there's the legal side that will play out well after the Paris Olympics.

But what's realistic and what's going to happen is that a -- the scourge of drug -- of doping and cheating that has been going on in all sports -- but especially swimming -- for generations is now literally going to come right to the pool deck in Paris. The swimming competition starts three weeks from tomorrow.

And I think instead of maybe people would say oh, this is a bad thing, I think it's a great thing. Because for generations, U.S. swimmers, Western swimmers, and others that have been doing it right -- countries that have not been cheating, countries that have been punishing their cheaters if they do -- individual athletes do cheat -- those swimmers have been getting the raw end of the deal.

They have watched cheaters take medals -- gold, silver, bronze -- away from them and their teammates. It happened at the '76 Olympics in Montreal with the East Germans. It happened with the Chinese in the 1990s -- a swimmer named Michelle Smith. Ireland still has three gold medals even though she tested positive a year later after the Atlanta Olympics. On and on it goes.

The Russians cheating and now China, of course, as you mentioned. Eleven of these 23 athletes who were never punished -- 11 of them will be swimming in three weeks in Paris. And finally, the spotlight will be on them. The government -- the U.S., and the FBI, and the Justice Department, Fred, working on this -- shining a light on it.

It is fantastic because these athletes will then be able to say hey, I'm clean and is that person cheating? And I think the world will watch in a way and listen in a way it never has before.

WHITFIELD: So what can the U.S. government do that the Anti-Doping Agency -- Sports Anti-Doping Agencies and the USOC are not able to do? And if there are to be any kind of penalties imposed on these Chinese swimmers as a result of the U.S. investigation, what would those be?

BRENNAN: This is a criminal investigation. It's actually looking more at the organization's running the anti-doping world.

So the World Anti-Doping Agency, World Aquatics -- they have confirmed now that the swimming International Federation -- they have confirmed that their executive director has been served a subpoena while he was here in the U.S. covering -- or he was at the -- in Indianapolis at the Olympic swimming trials -- U.S. trials -- and he got a subpoena.

The World Anti-Doping Agency -- they slow walked the Kamila Valieva figure skating story. Those athletes -- the U.S. and Japan -- still don't have their gold medals and silver medals 2 1/2 years after the Beijing Olympics.

The -- just the inability of these organizations to function or whatever reason that they might not be working and getting rid of doping the way they should -- not there is the threat of criminal liability and actual subpoenas being served if they come into the United States. And, of course, almost all these people come into the United States because, of course, not only do we have major competitions but the L.A. Olympics in 2028.


BRENNAN: And so that's what we're looking at here. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee has been on the side of anti-doping. The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency -- the one that caught Lance Armstrong and Marion Jones -- they've been doing things the right way.

And in some other countries, like China, who never, never let anyone know that their 23 athletes tested positive -- something the U.S. would never do. These are the kinds of things that are now going to be exposed and caught.

And because there's so much business -- the U.S. obviously is funding the World Anti-Doping Agency more than any other country. That's where the meat of this is. That's where the power is, in addition to this Rodchenkov act, that allows the U.S. to criminalize these doping violations in other nations.

WHITFIELD: All right, Christine Brennan. It is hard to believe that for decades now we've been talking about this scourge of doping in sports, and especially in swimming. And here we are now just weeks away from the Olympic Games and it remains a problem.

Good to see you, Christine. Thank you so much -- Erica.

HILL: Well, on our radar this morning, a park ranger is injured following a July Fourth shooting at Yellowstone National Park near lodges known as Canyon Village. Authorities say they were responding to a call of a person making threats. When rangers did arrive, that suspect opened fire. The rangers fired back. Park officials say there is no active threat to the public at this hour.

Talk about some scary moments at a Fourth of July celebration in Utah when fireworks flew into the crowd. One person hit in the face and several others injured. This happened right after a jet flyover at the event. It was on the campus of Brigham Young University. The Jonas Brothers were headlining the event. Organizers say the pyrotechnics were thoroughly checked before the show and then rechecked after that incident.

And there is a new champion this morning in Nathan's famous Hot Dog Eating Contest. Patrick Bertoletti taking home that coveted mustard belt, scarfing down 58 hot dogs and buns in just 10 minutes yesterday.