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NATO Summit Continues; Interview With Rep. Debbie Dingell (D- MI); Growing Calls For Biden to Step Aside. Aired 1-1:30p ET

Aired July 10, 2024 - 13:00   ET



BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN HOST: When Nancy Pelosi speaks, Democrats listen. But will Joe Biden? The former speaker, says the president needs to make a decision about his run for the White House. There's just one problem. He's been saying for days that his mind's already made up.

We're going to see President Biden this hour from the NATO summit.

And opening statements today in the manslaughter trial of Alec Baldwin. He faces up to 18 months in prison. The film's armorer has already been found guilty. We're covering every development.

JESSICA DEAN, CNN HOST: And two astronauts are talking for the first time about their unexpected time on the International Space Station, when they could return to Earth, despite their malfunctioning spacecraft.

We're following these major developing stories and many more, all coming in right here to CNN NEWS CENTRAL.

SANCHEZ: From Hollywood to the halls of Congress, growing calls from within the Democratic Party for President Biden to step aside. But the White House says the president's focus is elsewhere.

It's on the NATO summit happening here in Washington, because as he works to convince world leaders that he's up for the job, one of his closest allies, former Speaker Nancy Pelosi, appears to be questioning the decision that he's already made to stay in the race. Listen.


REP. NANCY PELOSI (D-CA): It's up to the president to decide if he is going to run. We're all encouraging him to make that decision.

I want him to do whatever he decides to do. And that's the way it is.


SANCHEZ: At the same time, Biden is facing new calls from two prominent Democrats to get out, Hollywood icons George Clooney and Rob Reiner, two major voices and major fund-raisers as well.

We're covering all the angles of this story. Let's get you out to the White House with CNN senior White House

correspondent Kayla Tausche.

Kayla, the Biden campaign is trying to move on even with this growing group of nervous Democrats.

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Boris, within the halls of the White House and within the Biden campaign, there is a desire to move on from the debate and get back to what one official called business as usual.

But it is hardly business as usual for Democrats, with dominoes continuing to fall and support continuing to erode from some powerful corners of the party even now, 13 days after the debate, where many Democrats walked away from that unsure of how Biden would proceed as the nominee.

And just today, George Clooney writing in The New York Times about his change of heart toward President Biden, writing this: "It's devastating to say it, but the Joe Biden I was with three weeks ago at the fund-raiser was not the Joe 'Big Effing Deal' Biden of 2010. He wasn't even the Joe Biden of 2020. He was the same man we all witnessed at the debate."

Clooney, who co-hosted that fund-raiser that raised $14 million in Los Angeles three weeks ago, says that what Biden does not have on his side is time and that's something that cannot be reversed.

And for his part, Rob Reiner saying this: "My friend George Clooney has clearly expressed what many of us have been saying. We love and respect Joe Biden. We acknowledge all he has done for our country, but democracy is facing an existential threat. We need someone younger to fight back. Joe Biden must step aside."

And then, this morning, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Connecticut, saying to reporters that he is deeply concerned about Biden's prospect of winning in November after just in recent days saying that Joe Biden is the nominee and the Biden campaign putting that in a press release this morning.

And, Boris, I have just learned from my own sources that organizers for a convention lunch in Chicago that would feature high-dollar donors, they have decided to scrap that event.

It was a relatively small event in the grand scheme of things, but it captures the mood of the donor class right now, which is flashing bright red warning signs, especially in the deep blue part of the country, that many of these donors do not feel comfortable tapping their networks and asking them to max out when enthusiasm is waning and they're not sure what the convention will look like -- Boris.

SANCHEZ: Important nugget there from Kayla Tausche at the White House. Thank you so much.

Let's go ahead and listen to President Biden, who's at NATO right now.



JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: With regard to defense production, they have -- they're significantly ramping up their production of weapons, munitions, and vehicles.

And they're doing it with the help of China, North Korea, and Iran. We cannot, in my view, we cannot allow the alliance to fall behind. The fact is that so many of my -- let me put it this way. I'm very pleased that, today, all NATO members are making the pledge to expand our industrial base and our industrial capacity, like our defense spending commitment.

This is a critical step to maintaining our security, the first time ever every NATO nation is pledging to develop plans for defense production at home. That means, as an alliance, we will become more innovative and competitive.

And we're able to produce more critical defense equipment more quickly than -- and we should, that we may need it. You know, we will not be surpassed, we cannot be surpassed by anyone when it comes to our readiness.

Here at home, Americans have seen the power of investments like these. In my administration, we have already invested $30 billion in defense manufacturing to restart or expand production across 35 of our states. We're investing billions more, the result, stronger supply chains, a stronger economy, a stronger military, and a stronger nation.

Let me close with this. This new pledge sends an unmistakable message to the world that every NATO member is committed to doing their part to keep the alliance strong. We can and will defend every inch of NATO territory, and we will do it together.

And that -- we're investing in our future strength to ensure NATO will always be ready for whatever threats we will face should be a clear message we're making to the -- sending to the world.

So I want to thank you, every NATO member, for your commitment, for our shared security.

And I will now ask the press to depart so we can get started.

JENS STOLTENBERG, NATO SECRETARY-GENERAL: Thank you very much, President Biden, for those remarks.

SANCHEZ: We've been listening to President Joe Biden speaking at the 75th anniversary of NATO, world leaders convening in the nation's capital to talk about the future of the alliance and the ongoing threat from Russia in its invasion in Ukraine, the president saying the alliance can and will defend every inch of NATO territory, boasting about investments in the alliance by the United States and members of the group, saying, we cannot allow the alliance to fall behind. At one point, the president seemed to try to get away from the script

and very quickly changed his mind and veered right back into it. Obviously, this comes as there are a lot of questions about the president's mental acuity even from within his own party.

So let's get the latest from CNN congressional correspondent Lauren Fox, who's with us on Capitol Hill, because, Lauren, today an eighth Democrat came forward essentially calling for the president to remove himself from the top of the ticket for the White House in November.

LAUREN FOX, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this has been a slow drip all week.

I think that the White House had hoped that, by Tuesday evening, that they had put this episode behind them. Instead, what you are seeing is Democrats very carefully coming out, one by one, stating their position on the president.

And, look, there is a minority, obviously, of Democrats who have outright come out and said that Biden needs to remove himself from the top of the ticket. There's also not that many Democrats who are just forcefully saying that Biden is the best person to beat Donald Trump.

What you are finding is much more solidly in the middle ground, many Democrats making the case that Biden needs to make up his mind. What's interesting about that, of course, is the fact that Biden and his campaign have made clear that they have already chosen to stay in this race.

But I think this is an interesting tap dance. I actually just talked with Senator Peter Welch of Vermont as I was walking over here and asked him. "It seems like you keep saying you hope that Biden makes the right choice, but he's already stated what his position is."

And here's what Welch said to me just moments ago -- quote -- "I'm hoping the concerns that are being expressed are being heard, even if not yet acknowledged. I want him to look at the evidence and make a hard decision. He's earned that."

And I think the last piece is really key here, because a lot of Democrats, they like Joe Biden, they believe in Joe Biden, they are proud of what they have been able to accomplish with Joe Biden. But here's Senator Joe Manchin laying out his view.


FOX: Do you see a world in which the president would change his mind at this point, though?

SEN. JOE MANCHIN (D-WV): I have always said this. If you can't change your mind, you can't change anything.


Everyone, if they see facts and they feel that the right decision is the right decision, and they want to make that right decision, even though they have made some overtures other than that, I have always believed rational people do the right thing.


FOX: And I think that is the challenge right now for the Biden campaign, is that this just doesn't seem to be going away. These questions are not being answered.

And a lot of Democrats continue to say on Capitol Hill that they have concerns. Now, do more members come outright and say that they want Biden to remove himself from the top of the ticket? We will see. Time will tell.

SANCHEZ: Lauren Fox, live for us on Capitol Hill, thanks so much for the latest -- Jessica.

DEAN: And joining us now is Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Dingell of Michigan.

Congresswoman, always great to have you on. Thanks for making time today.

I want to ask you first about former Speaker Pelosi's remarks this morning on MSNBC, when she told fellow Democrats to -- quote -- "just hold off until we see how this goes" and says she's been -- she wants Biden to do what he believes he should do.

You have been very supportive of the president, but you say he needs to go out and show the American people he's up for another term. I'm curious, Congresswoman, do you agree with Speaker Pelosi -- with former Speaker Pelosi's comments this morning?

REP. DEBBIE DINGELL (D-MI): Well, I haven't actually seen the actual comments or talked to her this morning, but my understanding of what she said was, Joe Biden's got to make the decision.

And I am in total agreement. There's one person that can make this decision. That is Joe Biden. He's got to show the American people he's got the stamina, he's up to the job, and go out and do it.

And I also think, from what I have heard, but in conversations, for 13 days, Donald Trump and the Republicans have loved watching every minute of this discussion, and we have got to get back, as a party, as leaders, talking about what's at stake in November, and doing the contrast in positions and what could happen if we do elect Donald Trump as president.

And we have got to get back to that dialogue. The Republican Convention is next week. I can't -- their theme on Monday is make America wealthy again. I cannot wait to talk about the cuts he wants to give to the billionaire class and how he doesn't want to do anything for working men and women in this country.

And that's what we need to be talking about.

DEAN: And yet, Congresswoman, there are members of your own party, your colleagues, House Democrats, who are calling for him to step aside publicly.

We had Senator Michael Bennet saying that he has deep, deep concerns about a GOP landslide with Biden at the top of the ticket. We heard from Ritchie Torres, a member of the Congressional Black Caucus, which has supported and voiced its support for the president.

He released a statement saying there must be a -- quote -- "serious reckoning" on the effect that Biden could have on downballot races and in swing states like your own. Do you think that the president is still the strongest person to be at the top of the ticket?

DINGELL: So, I'm going to answer the beginning part of this question first, which is, Congress is a representative body.

And what you're hearing from different colleagues is exactly what you're hearing across America. I have been yelled at by more people on all sides. I have colleagues -- colleagues and constituents that are screaming on all sides.

But I equally have a number. You presented one side. I have a lot of constituents that are telling me you're going to disenfranchise millions of voters. You need to have Joe Biden's back. He shouldn't be forced out.

There's a lot of different opinions about this. But as long as we keep wringing our hands and letting this drama continue and not talking about the issues that are at stake and the future of this country for the next four years, that's what we have got to do, get back to talking about the substance.

Joe Biden has said what he's going to do. If that's what he's truly going to do, he needs to put this to rest with leadership of the Congress, with the caucus. He needs to talk to everybody. That's what it is. And we have got to start working on winning in November, because I believe this country will be in real trouble if we elect Donald Trump.

DEAN: And, Congresswoman, to that end, leadership, the leader of House Democrats, Hakeem Jeffries, has said that these conversations will continue throughout the week, this is a family discussion, that people need to say and speak their peace, essentially.

At what point do you think and do you think he and other members of leadership need to say, that's enough, get behind the candidate, or say Joe Biden needs to move aside, essentially pick a side?

DINGELL: I believe that -- I have not talked to Senator Schumer, but I have talked to our leader every day this week, talked to him today. He's talked to people.

He wants to make sure he is listening to everybody. Everybody's had their chance to be heard. And you know what? If you have talked -- you know, if you're talking to members, there are some caucuses that have some very strong feelings and have been making those feelings known very strongly that he needs to stay, by the way.


People are saying -- I mean, our caucus is representative. There's a lot of strong feelings. I think we're going to go home for 10 days. The break is coming up, that I know he knows we got to bring people together in whatever direction we're going to go, and that our leadership is going to try to keep people together.

Our strength is our unity. We got to have our message. And when we -- by the end of this week, I think everybody knows, when we go into the Republican Convention next week, we can't keep doing what we have been doing for the last 13 days.

DEAN: And just quickly, Congresswoman, before I let you go, just because you do live in that very important swing state of Michigan, I do just want to ask you again if you think President Biden is the strongest person at the top of the ticket to win Michigan in the fall?

DINGELL: He's the candidate right now. And these are "Do you beat your wife?" kind of questions.

Who is the strong -- everybody said, Hillary Clinton is the strongest candidate, she's going to win. And I told you all in 2015, 2016 Donald Trump was going to win. I loved Hillary, but she wasn't the strongest candidate.

What we got to do is go out and talk the issues. And we got to make sure we talk about what Joe Biden's accomplished, what the vision is, what Democrats stand for, that -- what -- I mean, Roe v. Wade, they take credit for overturning it. They don't believe a woman has the right to make her own decisions.

They're now, in Project 2025, wanting to cut Social Security and Medicare. Those are the issues we need to be out there talking about. And that's what I want to do.

DEAN: All right, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell, we really appreciate it. Thank you.

DINGELL: Thank you.

DEAN: And as the Biden campaign tries to move on from the debate and this particular moment in time, former President Trump is challenging him to another debate. What last night's rally revealed about Trump's evolving strategy. We will have details on that ahead.

Plus, the future of NATO in focus right here in Washington, D.C., where President Biden seeks to reassure world leaders of the strength of his leadership and of the alliance. We're live at the NATO summit.

And you plan for the unexpected on big trips, but what about a few extra weeks in space? What the Starliner astronauts are saying about their delay back to Earth.


[13:21:15] SANCHEZ: Happening now, President Biden back on the world stage.

He's participating in the first working session of the NATO Summit, posing alongside other leaders in the alliance moments ago for the family photo marking 75 years of the military defense pact.

But many of those leaders are now worried about the years ahead for NATO as questions continue to swirl about President Biden's fitness for office and Donald Trump's possible return to the White House.

Speaking on the sidelines of the summit, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says, don't wait. He's calling for immediate aid for his war-torn country, as he's warning that all eyes are on the 2024 race, including Vladimir Putin's.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: Now everyone is waiting for November. Americans are waiting for November. And Europe, Middle East, and the Pacific, the whole world is looking to autumn, looking to November.

And, truly speaking, Putin awaits November too.


SANCHEZ: Let's get the latest from the summit with CNN chief national security analyst Jim Sciutto.

Jim, obviously, Ukraine a huge focus of this meeting.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Boris, the distinct feeling among senior NATO officials I have spoken with over the last several days is that anything that is agreed to here, stated, publicly advocated for or otherwise has a shelf life of about four months.

The focus is on what the impact will be of the U.S. election in the fall. They look at the two options on the ballot as having a very different view of the U.S. role in this alliance, but also the U.S. role in the world, in Europe as relates to Russia, in Asia as relates to Taiwan, and China.

They are looking at this election as an inflection point. And I will tell you that I heard quite the same going up to several months ago, right, even prior to the presidential debate, as they saw an election that was, at a minimum, quite tight.

Now, in the wake of that debate, many folks in this room now increasingly doubt the chances that President Biden is reelected. So they're bracing for the possibility of an enormous change in the U.S. role in this alliance.

Now, you will hear different views as to how big that change will be, whether, for instance, Trump might attempt to pull the U.S. out of NATO or just reduce its role. But big change is coming they see with this election. And that's why what you're seeing here really is a waiting game for what the effects of the election will be.

SANCHEZ: And, Jim, going back months, as you noted, those same leaders have seemed to try to find ways to sort of Trump-proof the alliance, right, to install securities that would be in place even beyond November's election.

SCIUTTO: Yes. Absolutely. You see that in a number of ways.

For instance, the most recent U.S. aid, military aid to Ukraine, it's a lot of money, with the intention being it could last longer than just the several months until the election, perhaps even after a -- potentially Donald Trump comes into office, but other steps as well.

You have the U.S. Congress acting so that a U.S. president could not make a unilateral decision to leave the alliance, and other language, for instance, in the communiques, both at this summit but also at previous summits that put into writing NATO's commitment at least to the idea of Ukraine's membership long term, so all these attempts at what's been described at me in the simplest terms as Trump-proofing the alliance and these many steps.


But they know that you cannot proof against the commander in chief of the largest member of NATO, with the largest military in the world, the largest budget, et cetera. Whoever is elected has enormous power to determine the role of this alliance going forward in Ukraine and elsewhere.

So they can Trump-proof to a degree, but they can't Trump-proof everything. And, as you know, Boris, you know I have talked about this, I have spoken to former senior officials in Trump's own administration from the previous administration who said that, under Trump, he might very well pull out of the alliance, as well as at least reduce America's commitment to other defense alliances, not just in Europe, but with South Korea, Japan and elsewhere.

I mean, they really are bracing for the possibility of big change.

SANCHEZ: Yes, he certainly has not ruled that out when he's been asked.

Jim Sciutto live from the summit.

Thank you so much, Jim.


SANCHEZ: Still ahead: Opening statements have wrapped in the trial of Alec Baldwin. Prosecutors are accusing the actor of breaking a cardinal rule of firearm safety, while the defense says this was all just a tragic accident. What more we're hearing from inside the courtroom.

Plus, the Boeing Starliner crew speaking out from the International Space Station about their unplanned extended stay in space. See why they're confident that Boeing's space capsule can return them back to Earth safely.