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White House Cannot Confirm Why Parkinson's Specialist Met With White House Physician Earlier This Year; Interview With Rep. Glenn Ivey (D-MD): Biden's Commitment To Stay In The Race; Trump Looks To Reclaim Spotlight With VP Rollout, GOP Convention. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 15:30   ET



KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Look, in the past 10 days, the President has gone to six states. He has. He's gone to North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Georgia, Pennsylvania.

I know that's a Commonwealth, but he's been to six. And in that time, he has engaged directly, directly with the American public. And you've seen the enthusiasm, you've seen the energy.

He's been able to talk to them directly and talk about his goals for the future, talk about what he's done in the past three and a half years. And they have heard specifically from him on even his health, even the debate. And I think that's important too.

And you just heard me lay out the next two weeks. So the President's going to continue to go out there. He's going to continue to be present in the communities. He's going to continue to hear directly from the American people. And that's the best way to do this. That's the best way to get out there. That's the best way to make sure that you have your finger on the pulse and that the American gets -- people get to see you for themselves.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Since you all speak to the Republican convention, what about the Democratic convention?

JEAN-PIERRE: I can't speak to the Democratic convention either. I can't speak to that. That's for the ...

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But how do you know?

JEAN-PIERRE: No, but you're asking me to speak to two things that I can't speak to from here, that is something that the campaign and the convention can speak to very, very --


JEAN-PIERRE: April, you may not like my answer, but I'm telling you, the President's going to continue to go out there. We just -- I just shared with you at the top, a robust plan that the President has to be out there, whether it is in Vegas, whether it's in Texas. And let's not forget the other states that he's visited in the last 10 days. In the last 10 days. There's a stark difference from what we've been doing and what the other side is doing, stark difference.

And so the President is committed, he's going to continue to do that. He wants to engage, engage directly with the American people. 600 people at the church yesterday, 600 people at the event in Harrisburg, that's a pretty good start. And that's just a continuation. That's actually not a start, that's a continuation. Go ahead, Josh. I know, I'm getting...

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is it still the administration's policy that physicals are done annually?

JEAN-PIERRE: Yes, that is. Just like every other President has done before this President, we're going to continue to uphold that.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So it would be fair to us to assume that as of now, his next expected physical would be next year?

JEAN-PIERRE: It would be next year. The last one was in February.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you clarify for us, forgive me, I might have missed it, but by design, he will, he won't go to Tel Aviv?

JEAN-PIERRE: Say that one more time?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He will or he won't go to Tel Aviv?

JEAN-PIERRE: Oh, I don't have any engagement to share.

As you know, NATO is front of mind, that's what he's focused on. You saw that letter that came out from the President. He's going to be focusing on the more than 30 world leaders that are coming here for the 75th anniversary of NATO, continuing to show the strength of our alliance.

I think it is -- I think it is something that the President is very much looking forward to. And you'll certainly hear from the President on Thursday when he gives his press conference, his big boy press conference, as your colleague Justin has stated many times. Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We shouldn't expect, then, some sort of big outreach push to member Democrats?

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, we have shared, I just shared that he has done dozens of calls, not just calls, but also face-to-face as he did in Pennsylvania. His team, campaign side, they're going to do their thing, we're going to do our thing on our side. And he respects tremendously Congress. And so he's in regular contact with them. And that's what you're going to continue to see. All right.

Thanks, everybody. Thanks, everyone.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: We have been listening to White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre in the press room. At times, a fiery press conference engaging in contentious moments with reporters who were asking mostly about a recent report that CNN was able to confirm regarding a top Parkinson's disease specialist holding a meeting with President Joe Biden's physician at the White House earlier this year. This is according to records that are public, though the circumstances of that meeting remain unclear.

There, Karine Jean-Pierre was asked about the circumstances, even just to confirm that that specialist met with the president's physician or, as The New York Times has it, that he visited the White House and the residents eight times in as many months. She essentially said that for security reasons, she could not confirm why that doctor met with staff at the White House. She did point out that the president has been examined three times, cognitive exams, over the last three years.

She says that those reports, as each report stated, the examinations found no sign of Parkinson's, adding that the president is also not receiving any kind of treatment for that illness.


Let's discuss all of this and more with a member of the Congressional Black Caucus. Democratic Congressman Glenn Ivey of Maryland has patiently been waiting through that press briefing. I should point out the Congressional Black Caucus has come out in favor of President Biden staying atop the Democratic ticket.

Sorry, I don't plan to ask you to speculate on why that Parkinson's specialist was visiting the White House, though I am curious about the approach from a communication standpoint, because I wonder if the White House would put all of this to rest if the president was able to take a cognitive test and just put the results out there. Would you support that idea?

REP. GLENN IVEY, (D-MD): I think what I just heard was the doctor who had been monitoring the president said it wasn't necessary at this time. And I went to law school, not med school, so I don't want to try and preempt what a doctor would say on that front.

But I will say this. I mean, I think there's a lot of speculation, frankly, that's kind of running a little bit of muck on a lot of these things. I think we've seen him in action. Yes, he had a terrible night on the debate, but North Carolina was great the next day.

And as you just heard on the press conference, I saw clips of him in Philadelphia at the church. I thought he was outstanding. And, you know, he really seems to be back on stride.

So I, you know, I think it's important for people to monitor this. And, you know, there are questions that have to be answered. But I think we have to get to a point where certainly from the Democratic Party standpoint, we sort of move on and recognize that he's performing well.

He's got a great track record to run on. The doctors seem to be fine with where he is now. Let's move forward.

SANCHEZ: I think some of the frustration from members of your party when you say that he's performing well, that he's returned to stride, is that the moments that you've mentioned have been somewhat limited in scope in terms of him answering questions the way that he would at a debate. The ABC interview was about 20 minutes long. The speeches that he's given at rallies have been about 20 minutes long with a teleprompter.

The event in Philadelphia was relatively limited in his discourse and his ability to talk about different topics. We are seeing him speak to the press later at the end of the NATO summit. But I'm wondering, do you think the White House or the campaign should have approached this more aggressively from the start to tamper down any frustrations or questions, those coming from some of your Democratic colleagues?

IVEY: Well, I think this mushroomed certainly more than I was expecting it to. Again, like I said, he had a bad night at the debate. But I did think he really got back on stride pretty quickly.

And so, I understand I've got colleagues out there, reporters, columnists and the like, got a lot of questions. Voters have questions too. And I think he needs to continue to answer those. And I think he has been doing that. But the best way to answer it is to do what he's doing.

He's gotten back on the campaign trail. He's out interacting with the public. It's a little unfair from my perspective because I've had a chance to interact with him in private recently, the first trip to Philadelphia a few weeks ago. And he was really, you know, I thought he was doing great.

So I think it's just a question of making sure that the public gets to see that. But then the key part, I think, is that we've got to get back. We've got a campaign to win in November.

And, you know, before all this popped up, you know, we were out there, the Democrats, the president, making the points about the great things that he's done in this presidency so far. I think the first two years of his tenure were probably about as good as you can see, maybe since a president like LBJ and the Great Societies. There's a lot of great things to point to, 15 million jobs, you know, holding down on the prescription drug costs, infrastructure improvements, roads, bridges and the like. And there's a lot of positive things. We've got to make sure we get him out there.

And the other big thing I think we have to make sure we do is it can't just be macroeconomic descriptions of what he's done. We have to explain to people so that they know how it's affecting their pocketbook or will affect their pocketbook and personalize it in that way. And I think he's going not just to the battleground states, but around the country to try and make those points.

SANCHEZ: The president and obviously those who are standing by him have zeroed in on his record and the things that he's achieved. But I think a lot of voters are concerned about the future and his ability to serve out another four years. And that has been reflected in polling that we've seen that has seen a dip in the numbers and support for President Biden since the debate.

Is there anything in those numbers that concerns you? IVEY: Well, we obviously want the numbers to be going in the opposite direction. But the dip in the numbers that you point to, you know, he's actually starting to bounce back from in the polls I've seen. The Axios polls a few days ago, I want to say Saturday, maybe, you know, I believe he was ahead.

This just focused on the battleground states. A lot of his margin to error, I think he was ahead.


I want to say Michigan if I recall correctly.

But, you know, at the end of the day, we're several months out. If we can get back to the campaign trail and start addressing these issues, that's how you close the gap and get ahead. And that's what we need to do.

SANCHEZ: Do you think he is the only leading Democrat that could beat Donald Trump in November?

IVEY: Well, he's certainly the only Democrat who has beaten Donald Trump. And he's the only candidate of either party that's ever beaten Donald Trump. And, you know, there's been a lot of speculation about other names, especially, you know, governors and senators and the like.

My gripe with that has been that there's been no analysis of the mechanics. You know, for example, I think it's like 220 million or so that's in the Biden-Harris campaign. If you pick a new standard bearer, the money doesn't just shift over.

So you'd have somebody starting from scratch to raise the money. The campaign apparatus, the computers, the offices, the leases, all that stuff, that doesn't just shift over automatically either. The new campaign would have to pay for that at fair market value.

And then you're talking about people very talented out there. I think the Democrats have a great bench. But, you know, many of them are like single-digit name recognition outside of their particular state or region.

Is it really fair to expect somebody, no matter how talented, to build a national campaign, build national name recognition, reestablish the type of campaign funding you need to run a national campaign, and do all of it in less than three months? I think that's a very tall order. And by the way, the good campaign things that I just mentioned that the Biden-Harris team can run on, they don't necessarily have that national record that he's got.

I think it's, there's a lot of assets with the Biden campaign that we've been overlooking for the last 10 days or so. I think it's time, certainly for Democrats, I'm hoping we can get back to focusing on that in the near future.

SANCHEZ: There's no question it would be a tall order given the way that the campaign has been laid out. The primaries is effectively over. I am wondering, though, what you say to your colleagues who have called for him to step aside.

Do you think that they're panicking? Do you see why they're concerned?

IVEY: Well, let me say this. I mean, you know, different people are in different states. You know, when I go home to my district in Prince George's County, Maryland, the support for him is just as strong as ever, maybe a little stronger.

I think there's some resentment at the way he's been attacked, especially from seniors. And the support for Kamala Harris, I think is really strong as well, because I think there's been a lot of somewhat disrespect with respect to her and her record. And I think, you know, that's the backbone of the political party is the African-American vote.

So I think we need to be very careful about overlooking that. I've got colleagues running their districts that aren't predominantly African- American. So I want to respect where they are.

But the points I just mentioned about the mechanics, the logistics of somebody else coming in and taking over, those are universals. Those are constants. I haven't heard anybody really addressing those.

And, you know, when I open up the newspapers and I see editors calling for him to step down or they're throwing out other names out there, none of them have spoken on this issue, which is, I think, a fundamental piece. If you can't explain how somebody else can come in and put together a campaign that's actually got a better chance of winning than the Biden-Harris team, I think you need to rethink your position.

SANCHEZ: Our reporting had indicated that Democrats were taking steps, sort of planning a worst case scenario if the president decided to step aside that would have Vice President Harris step into that role. Nevertheless, I want to ask you more broadly, quickly, because they actually told me I had to wrap a few minutes ago and I know my producer might get mad at me, I apologize. But if President Biden doesn't step aside and Democrats lose the White House and they lose control of the Senate and they don't regain the House, what do you think Joe Biden's legacy would be ultimately?

IVEY: I'm not at the legacy point yet. I think, you know, we really have to try and focus on winning the White House. I think we're in a great position to win the House for sure.

Senate's going to be more touch and go, but I think they were in a good position to win that race too. Angela Alsobrooks, the Democrat running in Maryland, I think is, you know, ahead in the polls that I've seen. I think she is running a strong campaign there.

I think we really have the potential to win these races and maintain our positions in the White House, the Senate, and regain the majority in the House. But we're not going to do it if we keep fighting with each other over these kinds of things, you know, up to the Democratic convention and beyond.

We've got to -- we have to play together as a team. We've got to be on the same page of the playbook sooner rather than later.

SANCHEZ: Congressman Glenn Ivey, we appreciate your perspective and your patience as well. That briefing went longer than we expected. Thank you, sir.

IVEY: Thank you.

SANCHEZ: Of course -- Jessica.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: Thanks so much. And CNN's Kayla Tausche is joining us now from the White House. And Kayla, you were in that briefing asking questions.


We saw the back and forth between so many press corps and Karine Jean- Pierre. What were your main takeaways?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: What was an extremely contentious mood in the room with frustration evident among the press corps for how hard it was to get very basic answers about whether the president had been seen any more than three times by this specialist, who this specialist, who has specialist in neurology, but also expertise in Parkinson's, and who they had been treating.

I asked specifically about the role of Megan Nasworthy, who is listed in the White House visitors log as the person that Dr. Cannard, the specialist from Walter Reed, was visiting on the White House complex a handful of times. He was also listed as having visited Dr. Kevin O'Connor, who's the president's personal physician.

Karine Jean-Pierre, the press secretary, noted that he's also the head of the White House medical unit, so it could be plausible that he was treating other people.

But when asked specifically for yes or no answers on whether the president was seen on any other occasions by this specialist, there was no answer on that. And that was, I think, one of the most frustrating responses to the press corps and one of the reasons why you saw a few correspondents erupt there.

And so there are still many more questions than answers on this front, especially when it comes to the president's medical records, which he said on television this morning that he had released in full. And that's still something that hasn't happened. So we await more information from the president and the White House.

But where the president's political future lies, it's been clear that he's been working the phones with Democrats, with leadership. The White House could not say whether he had spoken with Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries since Jeffries convened that call with senior Democrats yesterday, and at least a handful of them called for Biden to step aside. But they did rattle off a number of Democrats who do support the president, suggesting that, you know, that it was a relative few who held that view, and that as far as any Democrats who might have misgivings about the president's acuity and age, that certainly the White House had not told them to say otherwise -- Jess.

DEAN: All right. Senior White House correspondent Kayla Tausche for us. Thanks so much for that reporting, Kayla.

And still ahead here, tropical storm Beryl turning roads into rivers and knocking out power for millions along the Texas coast. We have those stories and much more coming up right here on CNN NEWS CENTRAL.



SANCHEZ: All of the drama surrounding President Biden has left Donald Trump in an unfamiliar spot. And that's out of the spotlight during a critical time in the race for the White House.

DEAN: CNN's Holmes is following the Trump campaign. And Kristen, how is the former president preparing for his big moment? We're one week away from the convention.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and Jess, it's not just the convention. It's the fact that he still hasn't named his vice presidential pick as well.

This was supposed to be a really critical two weeks for former president Donald Trump. You're going to have the rollout of his vice presidential pick followed by that convention in Milwaukee. At one point there was actually going to be the sentencing as well on Thursday, but obviously because of that Supreme court ruling that got pushed to a later date.

So he was supposed to be really taking control of the media narrative. And instead he has been largely out of the spotlight. And as you noted, that's not a familiar place for the former president.

Now, people close to Donald Trump say it's not going to impact the timing of his announcement, but as somebody who has covered Trump for a long time, he is somebody who pays very close attention to what is on the news. What is the center of the media narrative? And it seems unlikely with all of this focus on Joe Biden, particularly around the fact that Thursday, for example, Joe Biden will be giving that press conference.

Obviously, everyone will be tuning in that that would be a time that he would announce his vice presidential pick. Now, according to his team, they've given themselves a deadline of Monday, but one source said it could come as late as Monday morning at the actual convention. Before that, he does have two rallies, one here in Miami at Esmeralda resort where we are, as well as one in Pennsylvania on Saturday.

And right now just remains unclear when that vice presidential announcement is actually going to come, but they are building up a lot of suspense around it. Donald Trump himself. And when I talked to the people who are even the closest to him, they say they still aren't entirely sure who he is going to choose.

SANCHEZ: Kristen Holmes from Miami. Thanks so much for the reporting. Stay with CNN. We'll be right back.



DEAN: Let's take a look now at some of these other headlines we've been watching.

Alec Baldwin appearing in a New Mexico courtroom ahead of his involuntary manslaughter trial. The judge considered several motions from prosecutors and defense attorneys during a pre-trial hearing.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin tomorrow, and it comes almost three years after cinematographer Helena Hutchins was shot and killed while filming the movie Rust.

Plus, second gentleman Doug Emhoff testing positive for COVID after experiencing mild symptoms. Vice President Kamala Harris testing negative and remains asymptomatic. The couple was on the balcony with President Biden and First Lady Jill Biden during the Fourth of July celebrations. CNN has reached out to the White House to ask if the president is being tested.

SANCHEZ: And three million passengers passed through TSA checkpoints nationwide over the holiday weekend, setting a new record for the agency. Flyers crowding airports returning from July 4th holiday travel helped set that record, but air travel has not gone smoothly. Disruptions from Hurricane Beryl canceled more than 1,400 flights today alone.

One smallish step for these folks, potentially one huge giant leap for mankind. A crew of NASA scientists have emerged from a simulation of Mars after over a year in a faux red planet. You're watching the four- member crew exit the 17,000-square-foot 3D-printed habitat, walking straight into a news conference.

DEAN: So natural.

SANCHEZ: Yes, right? The mission was the first of a NASA program that aims to collect data on human health and performance within the parameters of the limited resources on Mars.

DEAN: The four volunteers entered the fake Mars on June 25th of 2023. Nathan Jones, the mission's medical officer, said the 378 days in the habitat, quote, went by quickly.


The crew worked through challenges future astronauts could face on a manned mission, including Mars walks, communication delays, and growing and harvesting vegetables.

There are two more missions like this scheduled by NASA. SANCHEZ: Yes, that's tough.

DEAN: That's a real commitment to science. You know, you have to tip your hat to them, because that's not easy.

SANCHEZ: You may not get along with everybody that's there, the food, the veggies and stuff.

DEAN: And you're not even on Mars but thank God they did it. I mean, we appreciate it.

SANCHEZ: Yes. Well, hey, thanks so much for joining us this afternoon, Jessica. Great to be with you as always. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.