Return to Transcripts main page

CNN News Central

Capitol Hill Democrats Divided on Biden's Future Ahead of Critical Meetings; Congressional Black Caucus United Behind Biden After Meeting; Beryl Claims Lives of Eight People in Texas and Louisiana. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 09, 2024 - 07:00   ET



JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: We are standing by for a meeting that will tell us President Biden's immediate future. In minutes, all House Democrats gather behind closed doors to discuss and debate if he should drop out of the presidential race, major developments overnight.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Millions of people are waking up this morning without power after hurricane barrels slammed into Texas, dumping record amounts of rain, and adding to the trouble today, sweltering temperatures are in the forecast.

SARA SIDNER, CNN ANCHOR: And this morning, the trial begins for Actor Alec Baldwin on trial for involuntary manslaughter in the fatal shooting on the set of the movie, Rust. It happened three years ago. We're live outside court as jury selection begins.

I'm Sara Sidner with Kate Bolduan and John Berman. This is CNN News Central.

BERMAN: We are standing by for two meetings, really, that could determine the future of the presidential race and the president himself. We will soon know if the aggressive pushback from President Biden has bought him a reprieve from calls to drop his campaign for re-election.

Very shortly, House Democrats hold an all caucus meeting. The handful of members who have publicly called from the dropout will be face to face with those who have voiced their support, including now, overnight, the Congressional Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus.

Later, Senate Democrats meet. So far, none have directly called for the president to step aside, but several have echoed concerns like these from Patty Murray, who said, quote, we need to see a much more forceful and energetic candidate.

Now, the president himself delivers a speech at the NATO summit in Washington. One BBC headline says it could, quote, save or sink Biden's candidacy.

CNN's Arlette Saenz is at the White House, shaping up to be quite a day, Arlette.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it is, John. And overnight, the White House is trying to offer some explanation for these reports that a top neurologist, who is a Parkinson's disease specialist, had visited the White House on several occasions.

Now, these visits by Dr. Kevin Cannard first came to light through White House visitors logs, which showed that the neurologist had visited with Biden's physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor here at the White House in January. These logs also show that the doctor had been here at least seven other times in recent years.

Now, overnight, the president's physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, released a very rare letter, explaining Cannard had been to the White House and saying that canard was the doctor who had examined Biden around his physical for that neurology test and that the president has not consulted or visited with other neurologists despite through his annual physicals.

Now, the explanation from the White House now is that Dr. Kevin Cannard was here for what neurology clinics for those active duty members of the military who are serving in and around the White House. Dr. Kevin O'Connor writing, many military personnel experience neurological issues related to their service. And Dr. Cannard regularly visits the White House medical unit as part of this general neurology practice.

Now, yesterday at the White House press briefing, White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre would not confirm these visits by Dr. Cannard. She faced multiple contentious questions about whether President Biden himself had been treated for Parkinson's disease. Take a listen.


KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Has the president been treated for Parkinson's? No. Is he being treated for Parkinson's? No. He's not. Is he taking medication for Parkinson's? No.


SAENZ: So, all of that comes as there are concerns among some voters about President Biden's age and health heading into this election.

Now, it is shaping up to be quite a consequential day for the president up on Capitol Hill. There will be some key meetings of Democrats both in the House and Senate at a time when there is a big debate amongst Biden should remain in this race. The House Democratic caucus will be meeting in the morning, and then Senate Democrats will be meeting around noon at their weekly luncheon.


It comes as President Biden had really engaged in this public pressure campaign yesterday to try to make clear that he has dug in, that he is remaining in this race. But you have heard a vocal group saying that the president should step aside. At the same time, he is still maintaining a lot of his support up on Capitol Hill. We think about the Congressional Black Caucus and other leaders as well. So, this is all a big test for President Biden, as he also has that NATO summit kicking off here in Washington later today.

BERMAN: Yes, we are standing by up on Capitol Hill to watch members enter that meeting. Arlette Saenz, thank you very much for that. Kate?

BOLDUAN: And as for Donald Trump tonight, he is holding a rally in Miami as speculation continues to swirl and linger over who he will pick as his running mate. Trump is now suggesting that he's waiting to see what actually happens with Biden before making his final choice.

CNN's Alayna Treene is in Washington tracking all of this for us. Alayna, what are you learning about this?

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: Well, look, Kate, I mean, Donald Trump for over a week now has really laid low. He had had no public events, really trying to keep the spotlight on all of the handwringing happening in the Democratic Party over whether or not they believe that President Joe Biden is fit to serve for another four years.

But we are seeing his return today with this rally in Miami, and it's interesting because Miami is where Marco Rubio is from, one of Donald Trump's top advisers. I am told that Rubio is going to be present at that rally later today. However, Donald Trump's advisers say not to read too much into that.

I also want to note that later this week, over the weekend, Donald Trump is going to be holding another rally in Butler, Pennsylvania. That's just on the border of Ohio, where we know Senator J.D. Vance, another top contender, is also his -- is his home.

And so there's a lot of questions over the location of these rallies and whether or not that means Donald Trump is ultimately going to make his vice presidential announcement. But Donald Trump said just as late as last night that he is still mulling this decision over. Take a listen to what he told Sean Hannity.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven't made final decision, but I have some ideas as to where we're going and a little bit, you know, we wanted to see what they're doing, to be honest, because, you know, it might make a difference. I don't know. I'm not sure that it would. But there are those that say Trump's waiting until he finds out what's going to happen with crooked Joe Biden, and we'll see what happens with Biden.


TREENE: Now, Kate, I will tell you from my conversations with Donald Trump's advisers that absolutely the questions over what will happen with Joe Biden, if he will ultimately step aside, is impacting Donald Trump's decision. But he has a self-imposed deadline of announcing his V.P. back by or at the Republican National Convention, which starts just a week from today in Milwaukee. And I'm told his decision could even come as late as that first day, July 15th. And so we're all waiting to see exactly what will happen here. Kate?

BOLDUAN: Yes, and the impact, if any, it will have on the rest of his candidacy. It's good to see you, Alayna. Thank you so much. Sara?

SIDNER: All right. Another big moment for President Biden, world leaders meeting for the NATO summit today in D.C. as Ukraine reels from Russia's deadly attack on a children's hospital in Kyiv. President Biden's upcoming meeting with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, a critical test as he faces intense scrutiny of his leadership at home.

And those signature tax cuts from Donald Trump's presidency set to expire very soon and becoming a critical election issue now. Who benefits if they're extended? The answer may or may not surprise you.

And the tower called, you lost a tire. It's happened again. Not what you want to hear from air traffic control as a flight takes off, details on this latest incident involving a Boeing plane.



SIDNER: In less than two hours, the White House Democratic Caucus is set to meet behind closed doors as a half dozen Democratic lawmakers have publicly called on President Biden to drop his re-election bid. The president is vowing, though, to stay in the race, and his strongest support comes from the Congressional Black Caucus, which remains united behind him after a virtual meeting with the president last night.

Joining us now Democratic Congressman of Maryland and Congressional Black Caucus member Glenn Ivey. Thank you, sir, so much for coming on. I appreciate your time this morning.

REP. GLENN IVEY (D-MD): Thanks for having me.

SIDNER: All right. So, the first question to you is what was the conversation like? Was it something that Biden had to convince the Congressional Black Caucus that he should stay in the race or were you solidly behind him before all of this?

IVEY: Well, you know, it's an off the record meeting, so I don't want to get into the particulars, but I think it's clear, not just from the meeting, but from the days leading up to it that the Congressional Black Caucus has been solidly behind the president. The Biden-Harris ticket is the way we want to move forward. And I think that was reflected previously and I think it will be going forward today.

SIDNER: I got to ask you, if polls are showing that a majority of Americans are concerned about President Biden's mental acuity, shouldn't you all be?

IVEY: Well, I think we've been looking at his performance and judging it on those grounds. You know, I saw the State of the Union more recently. We went with him.


A group of us in the CBC went with him to Philadelphia. He was outstanding there. He and the vice president spoke first. He spoke second. He did a great job there. After the debacle debate, he was great in North Carolina. I saw him in Philadelphia speaking to a church on Sunday and he was fine last night.

So, the track record's very strong and, you know, he's got another opportunity today at NATO, but I think he just needs to keep getting out and keep demonstrating that he's up to the job and, you know, starts talking again about the actual campaign, because I think that's where we need to go. We need to get back to explaining all of the positive things that were accomplished by the Biden-Harris team in the first two years and where he wants to take the country in the future.

SIDNER: What do you think President Biden needs to do to reassure the public? You all from the Congressional Black Caucus have made your decision. You are sticking by his side. The public may need some reassurance. What does he need to do to reassure them?

IVEY: I think he needs to keep doing what he's been doing in the past few days, you know, the call in to Morning Joe. You all have covered some of this, this morning. Again, the NATO speech today could be very significant. I think the speeches and the outreach he did over the weekend to, you know, campaign offices that was televised, the speech at the Philadelphia church, you know, more television appearances.

I think he needs to keep doing that, which is basic campaigning, but get back to talking not so much about, you know, all of these other issues, but really talk about the things the American people are focused on, especially how they can benefit from the economic gains that we've made as a nation, 15 million new jobs, lowest unemployment, all of that at the macro level were the envy of the free world. But he's got to also explain to people who haven't really gotten on board yet, how we can help them in the future with, you know, student debt relief and the like.

SIDNER: What would you like to say to several of your colleagues, at least six of them, who have come out publicly and called for Mr. Biden to step aside?

IVEY: Yes, we had conversations last night. I talked to a lot of my colleagues. This is my first time having a chance to see him since the 4th of July break. And, you know, we're going to have more conversations today. I respect their views. I mean, everybody's district is different than mine. So, they're smart people, they're talented people. And at the end of the day, we all want the same thing, which is to beat Donald Trump.

My view is that the best way to beat Donald Trump is moving forward with the Biden-Harris ticket. Certainly, a big swap out, you know, you bring in new talent, we've got a lot of deep bench there, I think. But the mechanics of it, like the $220 million-plus that's been raised by the Biden-Harris campaign would not really transfer over to a new ticket. The campaign apparatus they have in place, which is like a thousand offices across the country, that doesn't transfer either.

A new candidate would have to pay for it at fair market value. The list, the computers, the leases, all of that stuff, and the logistics of trying to put together a winning presidential campaign in three months, especially from someone who might be well known in their particular state, but would be single digit name recognition in other parts of the country, including battleground states. It's hard to see how that comes together.

So, I think our best shot is with the people who have a strong record. The Biden-Harris ticket has that. They've got the apparatus in place. They've got great fundraising capabilities. Yes, I think $38 million came in over the two days after the debate. We're in poise to win. Many of the polls are -- you know, we're behind in some of those, but many of them are margin of error.

So, I think we need to, you know, relax my view is stay the course. I know we've got colleagues that have different views. But let me say this to, you know, I'm old enough to remember conventions where we've come out where people were salty about their candidate not getting picked or had mixed feelings about the standard bearer. But Barack Obama won, Bill Clinton won, Joe Biden won, and we can do it again.

SIDNER: All right. Congressman Glenn Ivey, thank you so much for joining us this morning. I appreciate you.

IVEY: Thank you.


BERMAN: All right. This morning, millions are without power after Hurricane barrel devastated parts of the south, killing at least eight people.

And then students at one of the most prestigious medical schools will now be able to attend for free after a $1 billion donation.



BERMAN: All right. We do have breaking news. This morning we have learned that at least seven people were killed by Hurricane Beryl in Texas, with one additional death reported in Louisiana. More than 2 million customers are without power this morning. The outages could last days or weeks in some communities. This comes as a heat advisory is now in effect over Southeast Texas. And although Beryl has been downgraded to a tropical depression, it continues to threaten the Midwest with potential tornadoes and flooding.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is in Houston this morning. Derek, give us a sense of what you're seeing there.

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, John. Well, restoring power to a city like Houston after a storm like Beryl is obviously top priority, but it's also a massive task. And that is where these people come in handy. These actually had one of the dozen or so utility restoration staging areas in the greater Houston area, and their job is to bring back the power to the homes here. Harris County, for instance, has over 70 percent of people, customers without power. And let me tell you, driving in the dark in Downtown Houston after a hurricane is no easy feat, downed trees, downed power lines, in complete darkness.


It is treacherous. I experienced it this morning.

So, the staging crew that you see behind me, the utility workers, their job is to bring back the power and the utilities and it couldn't come at a moment sooner because the heat that is building today is going to be dangerous. Right now, we have 2.3 million customers just in the state of Texas without power, and we have a coinciding heat advisory from the National Weather Service.

Now, they wouldn't normally issue it for the heat criteria that it will be met today. It's just that so many people are without power. So, the potential here, as you clean up the debris from the hurricane, to exhaust yourselves, not be able to cool yourself down in air conditioning is real.

Look at the feels like temperature for Houston and the surrounding locations. We're talking triple-digit heat today. We're just kind of not looking forward to the sunrise here in the next coming hours because we know it's going to get brutally hot and everyone here in Houston knows that it's going to get hot today as well as they go into this recovery mode.

Not just Texas. Look what happened from Beryl in the state of Louisiana, just to our east. There was a record number of tornado warnings from the Shreveport National Weather Service office yesterday, 67, nearly doubling their previous record. That knocked out power across parts of that state as well. They're also contending with heat.

So, coinciding those together, it is going to be an uncomfortable day here across the Gulf Coast, especially for the people who will not be able to cool themselves down. It's the heat and humidity, those factors combining together. And then also we need to consider the fact that overnight lows aren't going to bring much relief as well.

So, when you anticipate or at least your body anticipates to cool down, you won't get that opportunity because intense tonight and the next couple of nights will stay well into the upper 70s, and the high humidity levels will make it feel absolutely horrible. John?

BERMAN: Not comfortable at all. Derek Van Dam in Houston, thanks so much, Derek. Kate?

BOLDUAN: So, a big moment in the case against Actor Alec Baldwin. Jury selection begins this morning. Baldwin's defense team already notching a win with the judge even before they start to lay out the case. We have that for you. And 20 years ago, a news legend was born.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love scotch. I love scotch. Scotchy, scotch, scotch. It goes down, down into my belly. That is good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're on the air.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you? You look awfully nice tonight. Maybe don't wear a bra next time.