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Dem Leaders Speaker After Meeting On Biden's Future; White House Briefing After Dems Meet About Biden Support. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired July 09, 2024 - 14:30   ET



REP. PETE AGUILAR (D-CA): Yes, I'm not going to get into, you know, campaign tactics and all the private conversations I have with candidates running.

What I can tell you that I relate is running. The vice chair and I both got elected in 2014. I flipped a Republican-held seat in a really rough year in 2014.

I share with them my story. I share with them what was happening at the top of the ticket, what was happening in the country at the time. And I try to encourage them to just continue to press ahead. And that this is incredibly important.

And that is what they are doing, the job they are doing, campaigning, sacrificing through their families, giving up things. Those are things that aren't lost on any of us. And it will make it -- when they win, it will make it sweeter. It will make it better.

Because of the work that we're going to do together. Because, day one, we can pass a bill to codify Roe because we can help address the runaway Supreme Court. Because we can help working families.

Those are the things that matter to the candidates that I've been talking to.

Last one.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: I was going to ask, with eight Democrats who've either publicly called on the president to step down from the race or said as much to your colleagues to your openly saying that Trump will win the election, and scores -- I can guarantee you every reporter in this room has had a conversation with a Democrat who is publicly supporting the president but privately extremely concerned.

Is he doing enough to assuage concerns among the caucus about his ability to win against Trump in November?

AGUILAR: I think this is -- the president has said himself that he -- he's going to be out there, right? This is about campaigning and hustling. My answer is, we'll see.

Like, let's see -- let's see the press conference. Let's see the campaign stops. Let's see all of this. Because all of it is going to be necessary.

The president knows that he did not have a good debate performance. He knows that he has to be out there in people's districts, out in the communities, out in these tough states. He knows that. And that's what -- that's what we'll see in the days and weeks ahead.

Thank you so much.



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: We've been listening to the two chairs of the Democratic Caucus as they answer questions from reporters, mostly focused on this meeting that Democrats had earlier today, a listening session about concerns over President Joe Biden at the top of the Democratic ticket and his efforts for reelection.

We heard mentions of their anger toward what they describe as an activist Supreme Court, their promises to codify Roe v. Wade if Democrats take control of Congress.

We also heard him mention of Jeffrey Epstein during that press briefing. We didn't hear a lot in the vein of support for Joe Biden personally, not a lot of boasting about his abilities.

I believe Chair Aguilar said we'll see what Biden does on these campaign stops. He did acknowledge, we've heard a lot of things, theories and cases about the top of the ticket.

But it sounds like acceptance from these Democrats that Joe Biden is going to be the nominee come November.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: We just heard a lot of spin. That is what you just heard through. They do not want to be the -- Gloria in Jeff, they did not want to talk about Joe Biden.


DEAN: They did not want to talk about his mental capacity or his ability to be president. They wanted to talk about what Democrats are trying to do to win in November, which is understandable if you're trying to win in November. You want to make this a choice between Donald Trump and what the Democrats and Joe Biden have done.

But, Gloria, he says, let's see. They don't have a lot of time on their hands.

BORGER: No, they don't. And the whole purpose of the meeting was to talk about what they've been going through as a result of that debate that Joe Biden had. And the whole purpose of the meeting was to talk about their own political futures and how that's intertwined with Joe Biden's political future.

Instead, they we're trying desperately to turn the page. And it almost sounded -- and I don't know if you agree with me. It almost sounded like they we're running in a leaderless way. It

wasn't like, you know, it depends on the top of the ticket. It was, this is what we would do if we got control of the House again. Right?

And it wasn't talking about Joe Biden's second term. It just wasn't talking about that. And I think that's because they did not come to any hard and fast conclusion among Democrats about what ought to occur.

And they're in a pickle because Joe Biden isn't going anywhere.



ZELENY: If you talk to members privately and their advisors, they're worried desperately --


ZELENY: -- what the top of the ticket will do to them.

But you heard sort of the outlines of their strategy here to try and make it all about Donald Trump. We will see. There's a potential that could work.

Next week, a big test comes in Wisconsin, key House races but a big Senate race there. This will be the center of the Trump nomination. He'll pick his vice president.


And how does that play in a battleground state? You know, what do the Democrats there do? There's no doubt the Democrats are eager to try and block Trump. The question is, will they be spending more time defending Biden, talking about his latest thing or not?

So I'm not sure we made any progress really on the Hill this week. But let's see what Senator Schumer says.

One thing, as we sort of wrap up here, what Patty Murray said last night, longtime Senator from Washington State. She was very clear, and she's in a blue state and she's worried about the direction with Biden at the top of the ticket here.

So I'm not sure this is done, but it seems like for now at least it's stop some of the bleeding for President Biden.


BORGER: You know? There's -- there's -- there seems to be little movement. And people privately want there to be movement because they realize the clock is ticking. But they can't get their act together one way or another. And so they have a couple hour-long therapy session that resolves

absolutely nothing, except for the fact that, gee, they all want to beat Donald Trump.

DEAN: Yes, some paralysis of sorts.

I think we're going to go to the White House now where Karine Jean- Pierre is briefing the press. Let's listen in on that.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: -- working around the clock for the past two days to ensure Texas has the resources and tools needed to respond to Beryl and keep Americans safe.

Officials from the U.S. Coast Guard and FEMA have been on the ground and senior White House officials have been in constant contact with their counterparts.

While the storm has passed, our greatest concern right now is power outages and extreme heat. So we want to encourage residents to remain vigilant as temperatures rise, especially older adults and those with underlying health conditions.

Fortunately, 800,000 have had power restored overnight. And we expect another one million to have their power restored today. The federal government has also offered generators to help reduce the impact of the power outages.

The president continues to take decisive action to help the people of Texas recover. And he looks forward to working with the state to get more critical resources to the people that need them.

I also want to share one additional scheduling item with all of you as well at the top.

In addition to many NATO meetings, we announced yesterday on Thursday afternoon, President Biden will meet with President Zelenskyy of Ukraine to discuss our unwavering support for Ukraine as it continues to defend itself from Russian aggression.

That meeting will be at 1:30 p.m. at the convention center, which, as you all know, is where the NATO sessions are being held. And it will well take place just before the NATO Ukraine Council meeting.

This will be the third meeting between both presidents in recent weeks following their sit-down in France, and also a sit down at the G-7 in Italy. And it will further demonstrate the strength of the partnership between our countries.

And finally, just a personal note here. I want to say a few words about Sam Michel here, who served as acting deputy press secretary for the part of the -- for a good part of this year. We're sad that today is, indeed, his last day, but we are so grateful for his service.

And he has been an incredible colleague. He is - we're lucky to have him on our team, on our press team. His sharpness, his ability to stay calm under pressure, and his strategic thinking has been a real asset to us all.

Sam, you will be greatly missed. Thank you so much for being on the team and stepping in when -- stepping in when we really needed you.

OK. All right, Seung Min?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Thank you. (INAUDIBLE) on a letter that was sent last night --


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- from Dr. O'Connor. And correct me if I'm wrong, but it didn't seem to explicitly describe the nature of Dr. Cannard meeting with Dr. O'Connor. Can you say whether that one meeting was related to care for the president himself?

JEAN-PIERRE: I can say that it was not.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Great. Thanks. I want to ask why that information that was released last night, this wasn't said at the briefing?

JEAN-PIERRE: No. Actually, a lot of what is in the letter was said at the briefing to be very, very clear. I said many of the things that we're laid out in the letter, which was actually repeated right here behind this lectern at this podium yesterday.

It was said that --


JEAN-PIERRE: Well, I said many of the things, many of the things. And we got clarification, obviously, from Dr. O'Connor. But it was in line with what I said when I said only three, right? I said only three visits that this particular doctor had. I said a neurologist.


What I was not able to confirm is the name. And the reason why is because we do not share private information. That is something that we respect. And we wanted to make sure that we protected our consultants here that work with the White House Medical Unit, their security as well.

And so that is the one thing that I was not able to confirm. Obviously, Doctor O'Connor's letter confirms that. But we have to get permission from Dr. Cannard and also the president in order to put that information.

And it is not normal. And that also states that in Dr. O'Connor. But many of the things that I said right here at this podium is in the letter.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can I just also ask a little -- this is the second time in less than a week where the briefing had prompted a need for greater clarification on questions about the president's health. I was wondering if you could speak to --

JEAN-PIERRE: So I disagree. I disagree, Seung Mine. It's not. Yesterday, a lot of the things that I said right here in this briefing -- I know you we're not in the briefing room -- I actually -- in the letter. It was in the letter.

It was being incorrectly assumed and insinuated that the president had seen Dr. Cannard more than three times. I said that it was only three times that the president has seen a neurologist. I didn't confirm the name. But I did say it was only three times.

It was being incorrectly assumed and insinuated that the president was being treated for Parkinsons. I said right here that the president was not being treated for Parkinsons. I actually went a step further and said he wasn't taking medication for Parkinsons. I said that right here.

It was also being assumed and insinuated that Dr. Cannard was someone who only worked on Parkinsons when, in fact, he's a general neurologist. That was something that Dr. O'Connor was actually able to confirm that he was a general neurologist. And, in fact, a general neurologist.

And we also wanted to set the -- we just wanted to set the record straight. And so it is important -- we believe it is important to all of you. I actually even said here at the podium, if there was more information that we could provide, we would do that, we would do that. And we did.

But many of the things that I said right here is in the letter, is in the letter.

Go ahead.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: It feel like he's beating back this effort to force him to step aside?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, you know, you heard the president yesterday when he called into "Morning Joe," did about 18 minutes of Q&A yesterday morning. He spoke very, I think, forcefully, passionately about where he stands, about how he sees things moving forward.

And we also have said many times, we respect -- we respect members of Congress. We respect their view. But I also want to say there's a long -- also a long list of congressional members who have been very clear and in support of this president.

Whether it's the CDC, who gave a full -- full support, the Congressional Black Caucus for folks who are watching and are not sure what CBC is. They were very much supportive.

They said we think that -- this is Representative Joyce Beatty, to be clear -- We think that the call went extremely well. The president was very responsive. Representative Troy Carter, who's also a member of the CBC, he was elated to hear directly from the president and that he is all in. And we are all in with him.

You heard from -- we've got a Congressional Hispanic Caucus. They put out a statement in full support of this president. And there are others.

And so, look, he is going to focus on continuing to work on behalf of the American people, continuing to build on an unprecedented record that he's been able to get done, with many of these congressional members that he's proud to be -- to have worked with.

But that's his focus right now. That's his focus.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is he still talking to more people, more -- more --

JEAN-PIERRE: He's going to continue to engage as you saw him in Pennsylvania when he was on -- you know, when he was in the commonwealth on the road. He had two of the Senators, two of the congressional members with him, the House members with him.

He's going to be traveling later in the week. He's going to be engaging. I've mentioned -- I mentioned yesterday his robust schedule for the next two weeks. When he's in state, he certainly would continue to engage.

I don't have list of additional -- additional calls to read out, but he did CBC last night, Congressional Black Caucus. And he's going to continue and engage as he has been.

Go ahead, Mary.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Jus to follow up on that, the president has made clear he's done talking about the debate, it is time to move on.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: But some of his allies have made clear they're very much still in this wait-and-see mode. Senator Patty Murray said he must do more to demonstrate he can campaign strong enough to beat Trump. Dick Durbin said he's concerned whether this was just a one-off or a larger issue.

So, I guess, you know -- how worried is the president that despite his best efforts, he's not going to be able to close the book on these concerns?

JEAN-PIERRE: And, Mary, I appreciate the question, but as you know, there are hundreds of members in Congress, hundreds. And I laid out a list of folks who have supported him.


We've heard from Senator Coons. We've heard from Senator Fetterman. There is support there as well for him. And so just want to make sure that we put that out there as well.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Is the party united --


JEAN-PIERRE: Absolutely. Absolutely. And look, Representative Gregory Meeks said, coming out of the congressional Democrat's meeting, said that they're united. And you just saw the Dem caucus leadership take questions from some of your colleagues over at the capitol. So that is important as well to note.

But look, he had a bad night. We've talked about it. He understands people's concerns. We have been out there, as we have been in previous months, but out there, obviously, in the past 10 days, more than 10 days now, since -- since the debate.

And you see for him, his engagement with everyday people on the ground. You see him with congressional members having -- who are showing their support, speaking on behalf of this president while we're on the ground in -- in that respective state or commonwealth, being where we we're in Pennsylvania on Sunday.

So we're just going to continue that. But look, what we can say, what I can say is, look, we respect -- we respect people's opinion.

These are -- you just mentioned two Senators that we we're very proud working with over the past three and a half years to get historic, such historic legislation done. And that's what we want to focus on.

You're right. We do want to turn the page. You heard me say this last week. We want to get to the other side of this. We want to continue doing the work, and that's what the president is going to do.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Just be clear, does he have plans to talk with leadership against him?

JEAN-PIERRE: I don't have any calls -- we don't have calls to read out or to preview. He is going to continue to engage. I just don't have anything right now to share at this moment.

He talked to CBC, again, the Congressional Black Caucus, because members, yesterday, they had a very, very good call. And so he's going to continue to engage.

M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Karine, the White House is obviously fielding a lot of questions in recent days about the president's health, whether the White House has been -- we're coming -- we're not about that issue.

And I just wondered, have the last 12 days made you reconsider any specific statement that you might have made in recent months on -- on that --


JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I appreciate the question. I really do, and the opportunity. I think there has been moments here when I have said, and especially in the gaggle, I think and actually yesterday, if I -- if I have said -- misled in something that I've said or haven't had the full information, I actually own up to that.

And I actually say I will do my best to get you the information. Hence the letter. Hence the letter for Dr. O'Connor. Right? And so I will -- I've always said I've always been committed to doing the best I can to give you the information that we have. That is a commitment from the team.

It has been an unprecedented time. I think you guys could admit that, right? It is an unprecedented time. And so we are meeting the moment, a new moment that has never really existed before. And so we want to make sure that we get you all the information that we have.

And when we don't have it, we do try our best to provide that information. And so that is something that I'm going to continue to do. And I've always said it is an honor and a privilege to be standing in front of you every day exercising in the freedom of the press.

This is -- this is a briefing that is watched around the world because we lead in democracy, right? We lead in the freedom of the press and what that looks like. Honor and privilege.

And I will continue to do my best to do just that.

LEE: And we certainly understand, you know, you speak on behalf of the president and you defend him, his actions, his positions and policy positions included.

Can I just ask you about one example, just going back, that comes to mind? September in the past --

JEAN-PIERRE: We're talking about the last 12 days?

LEE: I'm talking about the --


JEAN-PIERRE: No, you just said recently it's been -- you know, we've been going back and forth and so, in the last 12 days or so, that was - I believe that's how you asked me --

LEE: Yes, I was talking generally.


LEE: But if I could do because ask you about one example,

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, if you're going to ask me about something from months ago, it probably would be fair for me to -- I probably won't be able to answer that right away, whatever it is you're going to say to me.

LEE: I can come back for that. JEAN-PIERRE: I'm happy to do that. But -- but it's also to say, hey, from September of whenever year, right? That is that is something that I probably should give a little space to kind of see exactly what you're speaking.

LEE: OK. That's fine.


LEE: I do --


JEAN-PIERRE: I just want to make sure that we kind of give some context here.

LEE: Yes. And you'll remember this. This was an event where the president called out Congresswoman Jackie Walorski, looked for her in the room, even though she had recently died.

You told multiple reporters at the time -- and this was asked multiple --

JEAN-PIERRE: She was top of mind.

LEE: Right. Because she was top of mind for the president. I mean, would you -- on that example, would you offer a different explanation?


JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no. Because, honestly, I spoke to the president right before coming out that day and that is what the president told me.

It's not something that came from me. That is something that came from the president.

LEE: So he was saying, even if he was --


LEE: -- in the moment, it wasn't that --


JEAN-PIERRE: She was talking.


JEAN-PIERRE: That is coming -- as you just said in your question, I speak for the president. I speak on behalf of him. That was coming from him. And I was delivering directly from the president what he was thinking at the time.

LEE: Great. A very different kind of example and this is more recent.

JEAN-PIERRE: Sure. Sure.

LEE: When the president was in Italy for the G-7, and you remember he skipped one of the leaders dinner, which was a major event for the summit. And I remember you we're asked by reporters, and you said, you know, we shouldn't read too much into the fact that he's skipping one dinner and --


LEE: I mean, would the explanation actually have been that he was tired and that he needed --


JEAN-PIERRE: My answer stays the same. I wouldn't read too much into it. It's not the first time that he has. He has a really busy schedule and there's a lot going on, as you know, when the president is abroad.

He has continued to do domestic stuff as well as -- as well as meeting with global leaders. And so I truly would not read too much into it. And I will leave it there.

LEE: OK, my very final question on the annual --


JEAN-PIERRE: Sure. Sure.

LEE: -- letter from Dr. O'Connor. He said that, "The president continues to be fit for duty and fully executes all of his responsibilities without any exemptions or accommodations."

Just because it's been a couple of months, do you know if that statement is still accurate?

JEAN-PIERRE: It's still accurate.

LEE: So no exceptions, no accommodations?

JEAN-PIERRE: No exemptions, no accommodations.

LEE: Thank you.

JEAN-PIERRE: Thank you.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Karine, there was an announcement from the Department of Justice today about a crack-down effort to interrupt a Russian state-sponsored bot operation, AI-fueled operation to denigrate politicians in the United States and elsewhere.

Have you -- have you -- do you have any concerns right now that this is the leading edge of any part of a Russian effort to interfere in the election. As the president been briefed on this. And have you seen any evidence that the Russians or other foreign powers have tried to seize on the debate performance, repeat some of the president's most embarrassing moments?

JEAN-PIERRE: So that's a very good question. I would have to talk to our team about those particular questions that you just asked. There were multiple questions in your statement there.

I would leave it to the Department of Justice as what they announced. Obviously, that's for them to speak to.

Look, AI has always been a concern. That's why the president made some announcements recently, an executive -- to take executive action on how we can deal with AI.

We want to see more -- more action, more fulsome action legislatively from Congress. And that is something -- it is a -- it is a technology, a cutting-edge technology that we need to get our hands on and make -- get a better -- you know, better understanding of what it could potentially do.

And so that is something that the president is certainly is looking -- is looking to make sure that we deal with this in the full whole-of- government way.

On those particular questions, I would have to check in with our -- with our team here. And obviously what's -- whatever's related to the Department of Justice in that -- in that statement, I would refer you to them.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Karine, you said, just a minute ago, that the president wants to turn the page on the last couple of weeks and get to the other side of this or the White House wants to.

You know, has President Biden seen enough support over the last 36 hours from fellow progressives or from fellow Democrats in Congress to now start turning the page and look ahead?

I mean, what has his reaction been to what -- what he's seen since Congress has gotten back?

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, it's very similar to how I answered the question to one of your colleagues. He's very much focused on what's -- what's ahead, right? He's very much focused. He has a fulsome, robust schedule the next two weeks that we laid out for all of you. He wants to focus on that.

The messages that he wants to come out when he goes to Texas next week, when he goes to Vegas next week. He's going to going to be on the road on Friday as well.

I also want to say, you know, he is proud of the Congressional Black Caucus who said they have -- he has their support. The Congressional Hispanic Caucus did the same. And other -- and other members of Congress obviously. And so, look, he wants to move forward, as your colleague said, definitely unite the -- unite the -- unite the party, continuing to unite the party.

We heard from Representative Meeks who said that Democrats, the congressional Democrats came out of the meeting today united. I think that's important to note.


But the president is going to move forward. He's going to move forward and he's going to continue to go out there, engage, engage with the American public, like you saw him do in Pennsylvania. And he's going to stay focused on that.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does he feel like he's weathered this storm, so to speak?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I think that he is more determined than ever to continue to get the job done, to continue to build an economy that works for all.

To continue to make sure that we have a middle-class, right, that is -- that is strong, that we don't have a trickle-down economy, but an economy that's built from the bottom, up, middle out. That's what he wants to continue to do.

I think this week, with the NATO summit, the 75th year of NATO. Let's not forget NATO has helped to protect Americans and for -- and also protect the world and what it's been able to do for the past 75 years.

You're going to see the president engaging with 32 leaders of this alliance. I think that it's really important. That's yet, on behalf of the American people. So he wants to do that.

He has a lot on his mind and as it deals with making sure we deliver for the American people. That's what he's going to focus on.

Peter? I know we had our chat yesterday.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Yes. Thanks very much.


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Does President Biden commit to serving a full second term if reelected?



We know the president says that his health is fine, that it's just his brain and that he is sharp as before --


JEAN-PIERRE: He was joking, by the way. I just want to make sure that that's out there.

And people


JEAN-PIERRE: And people -- he was making a lighthearted joke, as he was speaking off --


JEAN-PIERRE: He was peaky speaking off the cuff and was making a joke. You know the president. He likes to joke a lot. He's the same guy who said, I know. I look 40, right? So he likes to make jokes.


JEAN-PIERRE: It is a joke.


JEAN-PIERRE: I think people laughed when he said it.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Well, you know, you say --

JEAN-PIERRE: It's a joke.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- he's sharp as before 8:00 p.m. So, say that the Pentagon, at some point, picks up an incoming nuke. It's 11:00 p.m. Who do you call? The first lady?

JEAN-PIERRE: He has a team that lets him know of any -- of any news that is pertinent and important to the American people. He has someone -- or that is decided, obviously, with his National Security Council on who gets to tell him that news.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So Kevin McCarthy just said that when he was the speaker, many times when he had meetings in the Oval Office, Jill was there as well. When the first lady is in these meetings, is she making decisions or --


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: -- is she advising the president?

JEAN-PIERRE: No. The president is the president of the United States. He makes decisions.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: OK. And other family members? President Biden has told me before he and his sons don't have any business dealings together. So what is Hunter Biden doing in White House meetings?

JEAN-PIERRE: Are you talking about the meeting where they came together from Camp David and the two of them walked to the president's meeting and he was there?

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: There is a report that aides were struck by his presence during their discussions.

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I can't -- I'm certainly not going to get into private conversations that occur.

What I can say is -- and I talked to this -- I spoke to this before -- is that, when they came back from Camp David, the president spent a couple of days at Camp David with his family.

He is very close to his family, as you know. It was the week of Fourth of July, which is why his family members were here last week. They walked together and they walked together into the meeting.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Can you say if Hunter Biden has access to classified information?


UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: And are you guys just not, since February, testing President Biden for Parkinson's or dementia because, if he gets a bad result, it's all over that day?

JEAN-PIERRE: Again, as I've said many times before, the president has had a fulsome comprehensive -- what we said, what we shared with you was comprehensive, but he's had a full physical.

We've -- we've shown the results of those physicals these past three years. We showed it just four months ago. And it is in line with what we have done similar to President Obama, similar to George W. Bush.

We are committed to continue to be transparent. We are committed to continue to show the results of those -- of those physicals.

And look, it's the president's medical team that makes a decision. We are not -- with all due respect, you are not a doctor. I'm not a doctor. It is the president's medical unit that makes a decision on what the president needs.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Not a doctor, just play one on TV.

What I know -



But I know that, especially as adults going into their 80s, health conditions can pop up more than just once a year when he's getting his physical.


I think if my wife saw me on TV misspeaking for or saying the wrong thing or seeing a change in my appearance, she would probably say, let's go to a doctor just to make sure that you are OK.