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Official: Russia Likely To Conduct Further Large-Scale Attacks On Ukraine During NATO Summit; Interview With Rep. Robert Garcia (D- CA): House Democrats Remain Divided On Biden After Meeting; Jury Selection Begins In Alec Baldwin "Rust" Trial; Beryl Brings Possible Flooding, Tornadoes To Midwest. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired July 09, 2024 - 15:30   ET



MAJ. GEN. JAMES "SPIDER" MARKS (RET.), CNN MILITARY ANALYST: All those capabilities to work in a synchronized, kind of a three-dimensional way that really brings what's known as air-land battle, kind of this three-dimensional bubble that's completely synchronized in terms of logistics, intelligence gathering, long-range fires, etc.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: And obviously, it appears it's part of this plan to bring Ukraine into the alliance, right? This draft communique that was put out ahead of the summit says that Ukraine's path to join NATO is irreversible. Obviously, that's a non-negotiable for the Kremlin.

How do you think any kind of ceasefire might take shape if that isn't on the table? How does the West accomplish that?

MARKS: That is the question. Underline that twice in red. That has to be answered.

The United States and all of the NATO partners realize very clearly that if there is not some sanctioned, acknowledged, recognized ceasefire moving into the direction of some type of a nuanced solution to what we see right now. In other words, if Russians remain in Ukraine, but the fighting has stopped, then it's acknowledged that that part of terrain that the Russians are in right now that previously belonged to Ukraine -- now bear in mind this has been since 2014, not just since 2022, that the United States would have to be, if those forces remain and there isn't a ceasefire that's recognized, the United States and NATO immediately, if Ukraine suddenly acknowledged as a member on a fast track, those forces from NATO are going to have to show up per charter, per the charter of NATO article five, they're going to have to show up in Ukraine.

Russia knows that and the United States knows that as do all those partners. That's the question. How do you get us? How do you get a recognized ceasefire and a solution of some port? Some type of a resolution has to be in place before any of those discussions on membership of Ukraine.

SANCHEZ: Major General Spider Marks, always great to get your perspective. Thanks. MARKS: Thank you, Boris.

SANCHEZ: Still had big meetings on the Hill today. A support for President Biden's campaign is in flux. We're following the latest.



JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: Just moments ago, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer told our Manu Raju, quote, I'm with Joe. On the House side, we heard last hour from Democratic Caucus Chair Pete Aguilar, who took slightly different tone. Congressman Aguilar saying his fellow Democrats will be watching Biden's moves for the rest of the week, including a key press conference he's scheduled to hold on Thursday.

Aguilar going on to say, 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.

Let's talk more about this with Democratic Congressman Robert Garcia of California. He is a member of the Biden Campaign National Advisory Board. Congressman, thanks so much for being here with us. We appreciate it.

I want to start first with what a source told our colleagues on The Hill team, that there was a sense of sadness amongst your Democratic colleagues in today's caucus meeting. What did you think the mood was like behind closed doors?

REP. ROBERT GARCIA (D-CA): Look, I think some folks are going to have their perspective, and I respect actually all of my colleagues' opinions on this issue. We all want to defeat Donald Trump, and I think that's the most important thing. I walked out of that caucus with a deep sense that the party is uniting behind Joe Biden, and certainly there are folks, and I respect, who have concerns.

I think that what you're seeing today and throughout the last few days, whether it was with our leader, Hakeem Jeffries, whether it was the leader in the Senate with Chuck Schumer, whether it's been with members coming out in force, especially within the Black Caucus and the Hispanic Caucus, this party is united behind our nominee. We're going to work every single day to get Joe Biden and Kamala Harris elected, and we're going to put the focus back where it belongs, which is on Donald Trump.

And I think what you'll hear from everyone, regardless of what their position is, might be on the president, is that everyone wants to beat Donald Trump, and folks are going to work really hard to ensure that we beat Donald Trump in the fall, and that we elect Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

DEAN: And the House Democratic leader, Hakeem Jeffries, said earlier today that these, he's calling, these are his words, candid and comprehensive conversations will continue throughout the week. Why not just come out and say, if you're the House Democratic leader, look, it's Joe Biden, that's it, the end. We're putting an end to this, we're putting it to bed. This has been enough. If we want to win, we have to move forward and unify. Why not just say that today?

GARCIA: Well, I think he has said he was with Joe Biden before the debate, and that he continues to be with Joe Biden and support him. I think that the leader has been very clear about his support for the president and for the vice president. I think what he's referring to, which I think is important, is, you know, as a party, we're a diverse party.

People are going to have different perspectives, and as someone that is a strong supporter of the president and the vice president, and that continues to be, I respect and understand people's conversations that they're hearing with their constituents across the country.

But I think what you're seeing in the grassroots, for example, take a look at the fundraising. The Biden campaign has had some of the best grassroots fundraising after the debate that they've had the entire cycle.

You're seeing energy on the ground. We were hearing from colleagues of where the president has been in the last few days in Pennsylvania, in Wisconsin, in North Carolina, that people are fired up.


In fact, I'm hearing from folks back home that there are folks that are even more fired up now because they understand the threat of Donald Trump. They understand how dangerous he is. They understand what Project 2025 means in rolling back the rights that we have earned and gained over the last 50 years.

And so everything that happened in this last week, it has been a difficult moment for Democrats and certainly the president, and he recognizes that. It's also hardening support and making this choice crystal clear. We must defeat Donald Trump and ensure that he's nowhere near the White House again.

DEAN: I want to look at one key voting block. That's independent voters. And they were a piece of the coalition that won Joe Biden the presidency back in 2020. He was able to win independent voters. And if you look at -- we have a graphic of this. If you look -- there it is right there.

And you may not be able to see it, congressman, so I'll just, I'll talk it out for you. But back in August of last year, Joe Biden was leading Donald Trump with independent voters. And over the months to now, it's now Donald Trump leading 44 percent to Joe Biden's 34 percent among independent voters. Again, a key indicator, especially in these swing states that are likely going to decide this election.

How do you convince these independent voters that Joe Biden is the candidate for them? Because clearly he's lost support with him, not just because of this debate, but just as a trend line over the last several months. GARCIA: Well, I think what we need to do is something that we have not been doing the last 10 days or so, which is actually talk about Donald Trump's record. We've got to get back out there and remind folks that there is a choice, that Donald Trump is in favor of rolling back women's rights, that Donald Trump does not support the LGBTQ plus community, that Donald Trump wants to slash environmental protections for clean air and water, and does not support working class people, but instead wants to give tax cuts to billionaires and large corporations in this country. So those are the types of contrasts that we have not been making, I think as a country and as a party over the last few days. And so now it's time to move forward.

Joe Biden is our nominee. He has reassured everyone that he is in this race to win it. And we've all got to ensure that we spend every day taking on Donald Trump and the extremists in his party that are guiding his agenda.

He is now out there. We're about to go into the Republican National Convention. It is going to be a love fest, the most extreme people in this country that are all obsessed with taking away the rights of women and their access to abortion, that are obsessed with taking down working class people.

And I think that's the contrast that we've got to make. And I can promise you that Democrats are going to go into this next week and this convention reminding voters every day of what's at stake. And so those independent voters that you talked about, they're going to many of them, they're going to start moving back to Joe Biden and we're going to win those voters come November.

DEAN: All right, we will see how it all plays out. Congressman Robert Garcia, thanks so much. We appreciate it.

Still ahead, jury selection in Alec Baldwin's involuntary manslaughter trial is now underway. The judge's decision that's already considered a major win for Baldwin's defense team.



SANCHEZ: Jury selection is underway in the involuntary manslaughter trial of actor Alec Baldwin for his role in the fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins in 2021 on the Rust movie set. Prosecutors say the actor was negligent and reckless in his handling of a prop gun when it fired a live round. He's pleaded not guilty.

A court spokesperson tells CNN that a pool of 70 jurors could be questioned today with a goal of seating 12 plus an additional four alternates. CNN's Elizabeth Wagmeister joins us now. So Elizabeth, where in the process are we right now?

ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: So just moments ago, Boris, the prosecution finished their questioning of prospective jurors, and now they are on a short break. Now, some of the questions that came up to these prospective jurors is, are you a gun owner and do you feel strongly about guns in any way? Also, of course, they wanted to check whether they can be fair and impartial towards Alec Baldwin, given his notoriety as a celebrity, but also this case in the immense coverage that it has gotten in the media.

Many of the jurors, prospective jurors rather, saying that the coverage has been unavoidable.

Now, just yesterday, before jury selection began, Boris, there were pre-trial hearings and there was a significant victory for Baldwin and his team. The judge ruled that Baldwin's role as a producer cannot come up during the trial, so he will solely be seen as an actor. Let's take a look at what the judge had to say yesterday.


JUDGE MARY MARLOWE SOMMER, FIRST DISTRICT COURT OF NEW MEXICO: One of the reasons why I think I'm having a hard time wrapping my hand around it, to be able to say, Mr. Baldwin, because he was a producer and he was the boss, looking at those contracts, he couldn't do a thing without running it by, including hiring somebody, without running it by whatever that entity is in the contract. So I'm denying evidence of his status as a producer.


WAGMEISTER: Now, the reason why this is significant is because the prosecution had said that they planned to explain to the jury that since Baldwin was a producer and not just an actor, that he would have held more responsibility for the safety on the set. Now, again, he will just be seen as an actor.

Now, remember, Baldwin has repeatedly said that he did not pull the trigger. Of course, that is going to be a key part of this case. And this trial, Boris, is expected to last about two weeks.

SANCHEZ: Elizabeth Wagmeister, thanks so much for that update.


Still ahead, Hurricane Beryl slamming Texas, knocking out power to millions. But the severe weather threat is not yet over as a brutal heat wave settles in over the state.


DEAN: Just in, President Biden has approved disaster assistance for parts of Texas affected by Hurricane Beryl. The storm left more than 2 million people without power and those outages are raising major concerns as extreme heat makes a comeback. CNN meteorologist Chad Myers is here.

Chad, what more are you learning this is extreme heat at the worst time in the worst circumstances.

CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is. No question about it. It feels like 105 degrees in Houston right now. 102, 105 depending on what part of town you're in. And so many people do not have any power. Not even for a fan.

So something else that's going on here. The remnants of Beryl have moved on up to the north. Heavy rainfall there in St. Louis. But this area right through here will be the area for tornadoes today. We had a dozen of them yesterday. I suspect we'll probably see a similar number.


Tornado watch is in effect and some of these storms have been spinning. You're not going to get 20 minutes notice. These things spin for 5 minutes and they're done. So if you hear a siren, if you hear your phone go off, you need to react very, very quickly. Now the tornado is going to last 10 minutes, tops. But it doesn't matter if it's in your neighborhood.

Watch what happens here. Watch how this color just lights up right through Indiana, Ohio and then even into Ontario overnight tonight.

But it's the rain that's going to be to the west and the storms that are going to be to the east. The storm has already been in Houston 2.1 million customers without power. That's pushing probably six million people.

Heat advisory 105 today and that's going to be the case. It was already 103 last hour. Nice to just have a cloud come in every once in a while wouldn't it?

And the heat is on in the west. Heat is on in the east too. Temperatures even here for Philadelphia today all the way to 94 but not like the west. The west is really, really ground zero for all of this heat where 100 record highs are going to be set over the next couple of days -- Jessica.

DEAN: All right, hopefully people can find some reprieve from this. All right, Chad Myers for us in the Weather Center. Thanks so much. We'll be right back.


SANCHEZ: Welcome back to CNN NEWS CENTRAL. I'm Boris Sanchez. On this day, 20 years ago, Anchorman came into our lives.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let's go to Brian Fantana on the scene with a Channel four news exclusive, Brian.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Had to watch. The mood is tense. I have been on some serious, serious reports, but nothing quite like this.


SANCHEZ: And the timing is impeccable because today the San Diego Zoo is revealing the country's newest pandas.

DEAN: Yes, these are the first pictures of Yun Chuan and Xin Bao. They are the first giant pandas to enter the United States in more than two decades, and we're told they'll spend several weeks acclimating to their new home. Zoo officials describe Xin as gentle and well behaved and Yun is smart and lively.

SANCHEZ: They're like miniature buddhas covered in hair.

"THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.