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Biden Tells Hill Democrats He Is Staying In The Race; Records Show Parkinson's Specialist Met With Biden's Physician At White House Earlier This Year; Boeing Takes Plea Deal To Avoid Criminal Trial Over 737 Max Crashes; Left-Wing Alliance Stages Stunning Upset In French Election. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 13:30   ET




JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: Any moment now, the White House will hold a briefing for the media for the first time in what has turned into a critical week for President Biden.

Already today, the president has aggressively pushed back against calls by several high-ranking members of his own party to give up his run for a second term.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm getting so frustrated by -- by the elite. Now I'm not talking about you guys, but talking about the elite in the party, who they know so much more.

But with any of these guys, I don't think -- should run against me. Go ahead. Annouce -- announce the president. Challenge me in the convention.


BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: Let's discuss with former New York Congressman Steve Israel. He's the former chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. He's now the director of the Cornell Jeb E. Brook School of Public Policy Institute of Politics and Global Affairs.

And also with us, former Biden White House communications director, Kate Bedingfield.

Thank you both for being with us.

Steve, first to you.

This statement from Biden -- and we actually heard it in your interview with Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz just a moment ago -- this reference to concern among the elites within the party being what's driving the second guessing about Biden being at the top of the ticket. Do you agree that that's where the concern is coming from?

STEVE ISRAEL, (D), FORMER U.S. CONGRESSMAN FOR NEW YORK & FORMER CHAIRMAN, DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSIONAL CAMPAIGN COMMITTEE: Well, yes, I do. Look, this difficulty, this problem is now transcending Joe Biden. It's beginning to split my party.

Jonathan Martin did a great piece in "Politico" just this morning about how now there's this emerging and growing split between Biden - President Biden's allies and the African-American community and his labor allies and donors.

And I've seen it, I have to say, firsthand. I just got a call from a significant donor telling me that he was going to withhold funds for President Biden. To me, that's tantamount to contributing to President Trump.

But the fact of the matter is there is a divide. And if we do not heal and repair this divide within the next week or so, it becomes an existential problem that could result in the election of Donald Trump.

DEAN: And, Kate, I want to ask you about what we're going to see on the Hill play out. So they're all back in Congress now, in session for the first time since this debate.

I just interviewed Debbie Wasserman Schultz. She said no, no, no, this is a handful of people that have come out publicly, which, to be fair, publicly, sure, but -- but others behind closed doors, our reporting indicates, do want him step aside are concerned about this moving forward.

And so we will watch for that to see what happens. But I'm curious. Where you stand on, really, who is making the statement. Because what we have not heard from or who we have not heard from is Hakeem Jeffries and Chuck Schumer. They have not called for him to step aside.

Are they the only ones that can move the needle?

KATE BEDINGFIELD, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, they are critically important, no question about it, in terms of Joe Biden's respect for them. And also obviously the command that they have over their caucuses, of course.

But I think it's also important to note that the CBC has stood strong with President Biden. We're seeing that key members of his coalition, the coalition that got him elected in 2020, are standing with him and the CBC has been unwavering.

And so I think, you know, if you're President Biden and his team looking at, where am I getting support from, that's important. Because if you look back at 2019, you look at 2020, that was how he got the Democratic nomination.

You know, African-American voters are the backbone of the Democratic Party. And that was part of how he won the White House in 2020. So I think that is very telling. Obviously, we've all heard for the

reporting that there's -- there is rumblings on Capitol Hill. We will see what happens over the course of this week.


You know, but I think President Biden has a really strong case to make that the core tenants of his coalition are holding.

And I certainly agree with what the congressman was just saying. This is a riff that is going to have to be healed as we move toward November if the ultimate goal is to defeat Donald Trump, which it is.

SANCHEZ: But, Kate, do you think -- I go back to the question I asked the congressman. Do you think that this is coming from concern within the grassroots, from constituents that are speaking to these lawmakers?

Or is it simply the media class, the elites, the pundits, as the congresswoman said to Jessica? Because it seems like, at least in the polling that we've seen since the debate -- and it's not a full picture just yet. In the coming days, I think we'll see more.

But it seems like there is some slipping in the numbers.

BEDINGFIELD: Well, look, I actually said this on the night of the debate, after the debate, that, you know, it was clear that this was going to steamroll amongst elites and that we needed to wait and see what voters we're going to do.

I think, again, if you're President Biden's campaign and you look at the polling picture, what you see is an extremely close race, one that was extremely close before the debate, where, within the margin of error in key swing states he has to win.

So I'm certainly not somebody who disputes that there's work for Joe Biden and his campaign to do here. But I don't think that the numbers are dramatically different, at least as we've seen as public poll after public poll comes out.

Not dramatically different than where they were before the debate. And I think it is indisputable that the loudest voices calling for him to step aside are amongst the elites, the media, the chattering class.

And so I think it's important for members to take a minute, to take a beat, to listen to their constituents. Let's watch the president at NATO this week.

He's going to have our NATO allies here in Washington. He's going to have on display a lot of the work that he's done to hold the West together against Putin's aggression. We're going to see some of the best of Joe Biden's leadership this week, I think.

And so I think that members should take that into account as they're making these decisions this week. DEAN: And, Steve, I want to ask you, too, if we zoom out and just look at this more broadly, Donald Trump has gotten to be very quiet these last few days, probably 10 days or so. He's just kind of letting this, in a lot one of ways, play out amongst Democrats internally.

How damaging do you think this episode is in the long term, even if it can kind of -- even if you can, as you're saying, if the healing can happen, how damaging do you think this is to Democrats?

ISRAEL: Well, the soon this gets resolved, the better shape we'll be in.

Look, the essence of any campaign, whether you're running for the local school board or president of the United States, is to define and not be defined.

Right now, Joe Biden is being defined, unfairly I believe. We've got to get back to defining Donald Trump, who just called for the members of the January 6th committee to be in jail, to be put in jail. We've got to go back on offense. You cannot win on defense alone.

The second thing you need is clarity for voters. And right now, Democrats are involved in like a fantasy football game where they're trying to figure out who should run if Biden doesn't.

As soon as these questions are answered -- and I agree with Kate. This needs to be answered shortly after the NATO meetings. We should give the president the chance he needs to be the commander-in-chief and lead.

But as soon as we resolve these questions, not much later than next week, the quickest the repair will occur. And then we can get back to doing what we need to do, which is to talk about the existential danger of Donald Trump.

SANCHEZ: Kate, I do want to ask you about some new reporting. And I'm not sure if you're familiar with it. CNN just confirmed what was originally in "The New York Times."

And I want to be as accurate as possible because, obviously, it's a sensitive issue. But CNN has learned that a top Parkinson's disease specialist held a meeting with President Biden's physician at the White House earlier this year.

This is according to records that are kept by the White House. The circumstances of the meeting are unclear. "The New York Times" had it that he visited the White House, I believe, eight times in as many months.

There's obviously a lot of scrutiny over President Biden's mental acuity and his health. Given this reporting, given the outstanding questions, as a comms person, would you have counseled the president to go forward with more cognitive testing and then just put those results out there for the American people?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I'm not a doctor. I wouldn't give him advice on whether or not he should have a cognitive test because I'm not a doctor. Doctors should make medical decisions. Communications staff should make communications decisions.

So, you know, I -- it wouldn't have been my place to say whether or not he should have a cognitive test.

I think the president has been very transparent with his medical records, certainly, far more transparent than Donald Trump, who was like having his doctor put forth a handwritten note that said Donald Trump's doing great.

You've had -- Joe Biden has put out every year, has put out his medical -- his annual physical and has made clear that those are the full results.

So I don't think -- I think there's a little bit of a -- you know, that's never going to be a bar that you can meet. You're never going to be able to satisfy. If people want to see a conspiracy, they're going to see one.

And I think that, from a communications perspective, being clear about, you know, putting forward the necessary medical information, doing it every single year, not hiding behind it, that is -- that's the right decision.


SANCHEZ: Perhaps it's not medical records, but do you think that Democrats on Capitol Hill would be more comforted if the president had come out that Friday or that weekend and done a full-blown press conference as opposed to a 20-minute speech off a teleprompter, a 20- minute interviewing, these sort of abridged appearances?

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I've definitely been a proponent of he should have been out quickly. He should have been out more. I think we're starting to see that. We saw him out this morning. We saw him yesterday campaigning in Pennsylvania, looking energetic, looking vigorous.

We're going to see him -- as I said, you're going to see him this week with NATO leaders. He's going to give a press conference this week.

So I am certainly of the mindset, from a communications perspective, that seeing him -- having seen him quickly, more quickly after the debate would've been a good thing. But I think he's making up that ground now.

You heard him this morning fighting, swinging. I think that's what he's got to continue to show people.

DEAN: Kate Bedingfield, thanks so much.

And former Congressman Steve Israel.

We appreciate both of you.

SANCHEZ: Still to come, Boeing agreeing to plead guilty to defrauding the federal government. But families of victims of two fatal crashes say the company got a sweetheart deal. Details next on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



SANCHEZ: There is outrage today over what's being described as a sweetheart deal for Boeing. The airplane manufacturer agreeing to plead guilty to conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government.

DEAN: Now, in exchange, Boeing avoids what could have been more serious consequences for two deadly 737 Max plane crashes. But the families of the 346 people killed in those crashes want Boeing to face a public trial.

CNN aviation correspondent, Pete Muntean, is here.

Pete, tell me for details about all of this.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: Well, remember, this goes back to the 737 Max 8 crashes, the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in 2018, the Ethiopian Air crash in 2019.

You mentioned 346 people killed in those crashes and their families say this deal simply does not go far enough.

Here are the terms, according to the Department of Justice. Boeing is being fined $487 million. The Department of Justice insist that is the maximum fine allowed by law.

The government will also be appointing an independent compliance monitor to oversee Boeing for the next three years. But attorneys point out that Boeing does actually have a say in selecting that monitor.

But the biggest part here is that Boeing is agreeing to plead guilty to defrauding the Federal Aviation Administration about the 737 Max 8. Boeing hid major design changes that lead to those two crashes.

I want you to listen now to Bob Clifford, who has been leading the civil case against Boeing.


BOB CLIFFORD, ATTORNEY REPRESENTING BOEING 737 MAX FAMILIES: The families call this a sweetheart deal. It's incomplete. Maybe someone high up -- I'm not sure who the high up is -- made a policy decision that Boeing needs to be able to suffer a bit. But not enough to cause them to be out of business or go out of business.


MUNTEAN: So the insistence by families is that this is not tough enough on Boeing. Remember, this case was essentially closed. But Boeing agreed to a settlement in the final days of the Trump administration. And it was also slapped then with three years of probation.

January's door plug blowout on a 737 Max 9 occurred only days before that probation was set to end. So that triggered the Department of Justice to look at the original deal again and ultimately lead to this new deal being announced today.

Something that's still an open question, will this lead to individuals being criminally charged, like executives at Boeing? The Department of Justice says this deal provides for that.

But attorneys insist that is not the case and Boeing executives still need to be held accountable. They're planning on an appeal in the Fifth Circuit Court.

SANCHEZ: Now, Pete, you mentioned DOJ saying that that's the maximum fine allowable by law. But how are they justifying the rest of the structure of this plea deal to the family?

MUNTEAN: Essentially, they say it's very tough on Boeing. And the families really wanted a $25 billion settlement from Boeing here. They simply just say it did not go far enough.

Although, the Department of Justice says they've been very -- very strong on Boeing from the start. And the fact that they opened this back up is simply a sign of that.

DEAN: All right. Pete Muntean, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Ahead for us, a surprise twist in France. The country now facing a new political limp -- political limbo after a left-wing coalition unexpectedly surged and the far-right party fell short of predictions. We'll talk more about it. That's next.



DEAN: New development following stunning final results in France's snap election. President Emmanuel Macron now asking Prime Minister Mr. Gabriel Attal to stay in his post, despite his attempt to resign after Sunday's votes were tallied.

Macron says he wants to, quote, "ensure the stability of the country."

Meantime, there were large celebrations in the streets of Paris after a left-wing alliance overcame France's far-right anti-immigrant party in those elections.

SANCHEZ: That right-wing group actually lead after the first round of voting and was expecting to claim a parliamentary majority for the first time since World War II.

CNN's Melissa Bell is live for us in Paris.

Melissa, how does the country move forward following these results? MELISSA BELL, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the

question on everybody's mind, and I include in that, Boris, all of France's political classes.

This evening, here in Paris, the National Assembly comes out of this much more divided and much more fragmented than even it was before the French president decided to dissolve it just a few weeks ago.

Just to remind our viewers, this was an election that was called after the huge success of the far-right in European elections. They trounced everybody else.

The French president felt he needed to dissolve parliament to give the voice that people see whether this one controversial party that seemed to suddenly manage to get the support of such a big part of the country deserved to rule. Hence, the parliamentary elections that we're held.

First round, they came in first. The far-left alliance that was cobbled together ago -- just a month ago, less than a month ago, to try and stop them, came in second. Emmanuel Macron's centrists in third.

And then this huge upset last night when that reversal. Just a week voting, two rounds in French parliamentary elections.

And it is said, Boris, that, in France, you vote with your heart for the first round, your second with your head. And that appears to have -- what been what's happened.

Lots of tactical voters voting. Many people went out to vote for this left-wing alliance. But again, cobbled together at the last minute. And that represents a wide variety of views.

The question this afternoon, this evening as we head into the next few weeks of uncertainty, after the celebrations of last night, yes, the far-right was kept out of power. The question is, what now becomes of France's political system? And nobody has the answer to that.


We've been hearing from a source close to President Macron, who said that it may well be that we head into the Olympics, which are just 18 days away, without a new government being formed.

So in any case, a period of substantial chaos and much more divided parliament than there was before. No far-right in government. But still this is a party that now is one of the biggest blocks in France's legislative assembly, the National Assembly here just behind me.

The main question for the political cost is now, and specifically, that left-wing alliance that won the day and now is the biggest block France's parliament, is how they're going to agree amongst themselves on who should be a candidate to be the next prime minister.

So weeks of chaos, weeks of deadlock ahead -- Boris?

SANCHEZ: A lot of questions still to be answered. A sign of the divided political times.

Melissa Bell, reporting from Paris, thank you so much.

Do you know who else has questions to answer? The White House. And they're set to take questions from the press room at any moment. The president going on the offensive, saying, "I am not going anywhere," as lawmakers in his own party are calling him for -- for him to step away from the campaign.

We're going to bring you the briefing once it begins. Stay with us.