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U.K. Voters Head To Polls For A Momentous Election; Beryl Nearing Cayman Islands After Slamming Jamaica; Democratic Governors Voice Support For Biden In 2024 Race; Trump Confidant: "Let Biden Twist"; Hurricane Beryl Approaching Cayman Islands; India Launches Probe Into Crowd Crush at Religious Event; Ukraine: Japan Releases New Yen Notes Sourced from Nepali Mountains. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 01:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to all of you watching us around the world. I'm Kim Brunhuber, this is CNN Newsroom.

Voters in the U.K. head to the polls soon in a crucial general election seen as a referendum on 14 years of conservative rule.

Hurricane Beryl is still a Category 4 storm now headed toward the Cayman Islands and the Yucatan Peninsula after lashing Jamaica.

And U.S. President Joe Biden admits the coming days are critical to allaying fears and salvaging his campaign for a second term.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Live from Atlanta. This is CNN Newsroom with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: Well, we are just 1 hour away from the start of Britain's general election polls will soon open across the U.K. as voters get ready to usher in a new political era. Now this election is widely expected to end 14 years of conservative rule. Labour has a huge lead in the polls, even earning the backing of The Sun tabloid which has endorsed only the Tories for nearly 20 years. The Sun's front page states it's time for a new manager.

Labour leader Keir Starmer says he hopes to help turn the page and rebuild the country after so many years of chaos and division. Here he is.


KEIR STARMER, BRITISH LABOUR PARTY LEADER: Because there are a lot of undecided voters, still lots of constituencies that will come down to a few hundred votes that make the difference. And people need convincing about the change that we need. They need convincing that change is possible and that they can vote for change.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER: Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Boris Johnson was out stumping for the Conservatives on Wednesday saying a landslide victory by Labour would be a disaster for the country. A sentiment of course, echoed by the current British prime minister.


RISHI SUNAK, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: Now Boris is right to say now is the time for all Conservatives to come together to deny Labour that super majority that Keir Starmer craves. We have 48 hours to save Britain from the danger of a Labour government.


BRUNHUBER: CNN's Nic Robertson has a closer look at how this crucial election is expected to unfold.


NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the polls open at 07:00 a.m. close at 10:00 p.m. local. It's a first past the post system. 650 different constituencies across the country, each electing one member of Parliament. So to get a majority and be the biggest party in Parliament, that is normally the one that forms the governing party. You need 326 for that majority. Of course, you don't need to have that number to actually form a government if you go into a coalition.

But this election is one that could be like previous affected by the weather, but the weather not looking particularly wet, rainy and Scotland, but the rest of the country looking dry, if a bit seasonally cooler than the average. But the election will be one that the British public have been waiting for. It is one that had to be called before the end of the year.

Each government can sit for five years, and the British public will begin to know the results once the polls close at 10:00 pm. This is something that a lot of people here have been waiting quite some time for. Nic Robertson, CNN, London.


BRUNHUBER: And Freddy Gray is the deputy editor of The Spectator, and he joins us now for more with, from London with more. So thanks so much for being here with us.

So polls predict a Labour landslide. So if you were, you know, let's say, a member of the conservative party, a supporter, would you have any reason for hope, any reason to think it won't be the crushing blow it's expected to be?

FREDDY GRAY, DEPUTY EDITOR, THE SPECTATOR: Well, in the last 48 hours, we've seen senior conservatives trying to drum up a late urgent message to stop Keir Starmer, the Labor leader, winning a supermajority. It sounds pretty desperate because it is. Labour are in a seriously strong position. There is no stopping their victory, it seems.


And I think you will see a tightening from even the latest polls. I think you will see a tightening because of the conservative party being historically the most powerful party in Britain. It is the most successful party in democratic history. It has that residual strength. That means it will do, I think, slightly better than polls are currently suggesting, but only slightly better. They are very unpopular.

And I'd say the thing that strikes me most about this election is most conservatives, and by that I mean conservative voters, want it to be over. They've had enough. They're tired. They're sick of 14 years of what they see as failure, broken promises and so on. And you can't win an election when people who normally vote for you don't want to vote for you.

BRUNHUBER: So do you think it's as simple as that? After 14 years in government, voters are more sick of the Tories than they are, let's say, excited about the Labour party or its leaders. Is that fair?

GRAY: I think that is fair. And, I mean, perhaps I'm biased on this, I'm no great fan of labor, but I do think that there's no real excitement about Keir Starmer. I think there might be, once he wins his majority and he can talk about change and so on, but he's not a very charismatic figure.

And I think the conservatives are, well, it would be very interesting to see what happens to them after the election. I mean, if they win only 100 seats, that might be just enough to sort of survive as the party that they always have been. If it's less than that, you know, they could -- we could start talking about them forming a kind of coalition government with reform, sorry, a coalition with reform, or possibly even being usurped by reform, which would be a huge moment in British politics, a very historic moment.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. Let's talk about reforms. Since you mentioned them, our viewers outside the U.K. will probably be familiar with the name of Nigel Farage, one of the chief architects behind Brexit. So what role might he and his reform party play in these elections, do you think?

GRAY: I think they will do very well in terms of vote share, but the way British politics works. We have this first past the post system, which means that a party can get many millions of votes but no seats. And so I think that depends which poll you read, but some people are predicting that reform will win four seats. I think it's more likely they will win one or two.

Nigel Farage will almost certainly, I think, win his seat, which is Clacton. He will be in parliament then, and so, therefore, he will be a prominent voice and he will be something that the conservative party have to deal with. But if they win a huge share of the vote and the Tories are eviscerated, then Farage will become a bigger, more important player. BRUNHUBER: If they are eviscerated, I mean, the Tories burned through,

what, five prime ministers? So it's hard to pin all of this one of them. But is there one that can or should be blamed if this is a historic victory for labor?

GRAY: Well, I think the blame's probably fairly evenly spread. And, I mean, much as though I like joining in the criticisms of the conservative party. This is something we're seeing for governments everywhere, all over the world. We see it in America, Joe Biden. We see it in Canada with Justin Trudeau. We see it in France with Emmanuel Macron.

In the post pandemic world, governments are very unpopular. A lot of the cost of living crisis that came out of the post-pandemic environment that we all had to live through, that has caused a lot of voter resentment. People call it inflation poison.

So the conservatives, not only did they have COVID, they had to get through Brexit, which, of course, was very tumultuous. Whatever one thinks of it, right or wrong, it was very difficult for the conservative party to get through that moment.

So they had Brexit, and they were just with Boris Johnson had this big victory in 2019, and they just seemed to be on the cusp of coming together and pushing on as a successful government when COVID struck. And then they had to go through all that. And it was COVID that got rid of Boris Johnson, who was probably the most charismatic. I mean, certainly the most charismatic, but probably the most successful of those prime ministers. But, of course, COVID did for him in all sorts of complicated ways.

BRUNHUBER: Listen, we don't have too much time left, but really, we should be talking about the man we expect to become the next prime minister, Keir Starmer, you mentioned minority (ph). Not the most charismatic, perhaps, but he has brought the party closer to the center on many issues.

Broadly speaking, what can the world expect from him should his party win? And I'm going to throw something in as well. You mentioned Brexit. Would anything change under Labour?


GRAY: I think he would struggle to rejoin the European Union for a number of reasons. I do think we might be looking at another deal with the European Union, possibly something similar to what Theresa May, one of those five conservative prime ministers tried to get, and perhaps a rapprochement between Britain and Europe on the political institutional front.

As for Starmer himself, he is dull, but he is efficient. He has been very good at maintaining party discipline in a party that is really struggling with party discipline and had a very radical left that he's brought into line in many ways. He will be Britain's first openly atheist prime minister, which I think is an interesting aspect not often talked about. I mean, 30 years ago it would have been impossible to think of an atheist British prime minister.

And now it's very interesting that nobody talks about it. But there are fears among some conservatives that he's much more radical than he's let on, radically left wing, I should say, and that to some extent he's been a submarine candidate who once he gets into power, will be far more left wing than probably most British people are comfortable with.

BRUNHUBER: Well, we shall soon find out as voting will start almost imminently. Freddy Gray in London, thank you so much for speaking with us. Really appreciate it.

GRAY: Great pleasure.

BRUNHUBER: All right. And be sure to watch CNN's special coverage of the U.K. election anchored by Isa Soares and Richard Quest. It starts just before 10:00 p.m. in London. That's just before five in the afternoon here on the U.S. east coast.

U.S. forecasters say Hurricane Beryl is now pulling away from Jamaica hours after slamming into the country with tremendous force. So far, the storm has killed at least eight people across the Caribbean. Beryl pounded southern Jamaica with 215 kilometer an hour winds, torrential rains and storm surge of almost three meters. The storm knocked down trees and power lines and damaged buildings, and Jamaica's prime minister says the country isn't out of the woods yet. He warns heavy rainfall from the passing storm will likely still cause flooding, landslides and road damage. Earlier, CNN's Rafael Romo filed this report from Kingston.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to remain standing because the winds are just very, very powerful and this is not over yet. We have seen how lots of debris have been blown off in the last few minutes and also how the roof was blown off on top of that building right there. And the big danger is that there's a possibility of the ocean getting into the street because the storm surge is supposed to rise at least 10 feet.


BRUNHUBER: Hurricane Beryl is expected to pass just south of the Cayman Islands in the coming hours before heading to Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula. Forecasters expect it to weaken a bit in the next day or two, but it's still an extremely dangerous majority hurricane, and we're starting to see the scale of the damage that Hurricane barrel left in Jamaica and across the Caribbean. Patrick Oppmann shows us.


PATRICK OPPMANN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hurricane barrel lashed Jamaica with intense winds and heavy rain as it passed to the south of the island. This is the strongest hurricane to hit Jamaica in years, and the island's government responded by declaring a seven day period where the island will essentially be a disaster area. They said that a curfew would be in place throughout the day on Wednesday.

And urged people to be off the streets and as well said that security forces would help maintain order as the island began to pick up following the storm's path. The images coming out of the Windward Islands where Beryl hit are just stunning. Roofs are gone throughout much of the islands there. People lost livelihoods, their boats, and the destruction is widespread.

The fear, of course, is that it's early in the season. Beryl is only the second named storm. And many people who have been hit by this storm will still be recovering when very likely more storms will be on the way. Beryl is the strongest storm developed, first Category 5 storm developed this early in a hurricane season, since hurricane seasons have been recorded and it really looks and feels like a storm that you would encounter later on in the season.

Beryl is not done yet. It is expected to continue impacting the Caribbean as it heads towards the Yucatan Peninsula and Mexico. So while this storm has already created a lot of destruction, unfortunately there is more to come. Patrick Oppmann, CNN, Havana.



BRUNHUBER: Earlier I spoke with Robert Pfeifer, an American tourist who wrote out the storm in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, and I asked him what he was seeing. Here he is.


ROBERT PFEIFER, AMERICAN TOURIST: We just saw. There's a lot of wind, the really heavy winds and rain. We're at Ocho Rios at the Sandals resort, so a lot of waves coming in, you know, a lot of water. There's several trees that are down on the property. And I think the property did really good. You know, they boarded up all the windows and provided extra food and water for all the guests.

BRUNHUBER: From what were just seeing from our reporter, I mean, the winds just looked incredible. I mean, how scary is it? Sort of both what you're seeing now, what you're hearing now, and sort of also that sense of foreboding that things could potentially get worse.

PFEIFER: Well, you know, we're -- after being through it and seeing it, you know, it came in really hard and heavy really quick. But, you know, now it seems like things are starting to calm down a little bit. I know they are talking about some more stuff picking back up, but, you know, right now it's, you know, we feel safe. The resorts made us feel really safe. Drawn out food. We got out, walked around in a little bit. There is a lot of trees down, a lot of limbs down, just debris kind of all over the place.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. I guess part of the danger might be if there's still more and more rain that we could see landslides and other problems like that. I mean, you're sticking it out there. You're not -- you didn't decide to head to a shelter. Why not? PFEIFER: No, we, you know, the resort that we're at sandals, you know,

they boarded everything up. They made us actually feel very safe here. They brought in extra food for everybody, extra water for everybody. So, you know, we feel actually very safe here at the resort where we're at. We knew we couldn't leave. The airports are closed, so there really wasn't much other place for us to go.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, that's exactly right. And I just want to let the viewers know we're actually showing some of your video that you shot while you were walking around, as you said. So you just talked about the airport being closed. I mean, any sense of how long you'll be stranded there?

PFEIFER: No, we haven't been told anything. You know, we did talk to a couple of, I guess, people who work here at the resort. Biggest thing is tomorrow morning, once it's daylight really assessing a bunch of the damage, seeing what all needs to be repaired and what needs to be done to get them back up and operational again.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, I guess, you know, sticking it out at a resort like that, you have a lot of advantages there. You know, having seen parts of the country, I expect you must be feeling for a lot of the people in much more fragile shelters who have been really hit by all those winds and possibly storm surge and so on elsewhere on the island.

PFEIFER: Oh, yes, definitely. You know, were watching. We watched the news. We've been lucky. We haven't lost any power. But, you know, so we've been able to watch and see other things that are going on in other places around Jamaica. And, I mean, were definitely glad for the area that were in, you know, that we got the amount of damage we did see and not any worse.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, that's right. In the meantime, sort of how is the mood there as people are trying to stick this out as best they can?

PFEIFER: I'd say the mood is pretty good. Like I said, sandals were dort (ph). I feel like they've done really good, you know, keeping everybody -- tried to keep everybody entertained, maybe their minds off of it. They had a buffet style lunch for everybody. They had a buffet style dinner. They really encouraged, you know, to go ahead and eat, and they kind of tried to keep everybody lively. You know, they -- right during the main part of the storm, they was really encouraging people to stay in your rooms or stay in the areas that they had all boarded up and prepared for everybody to stay in.

BRUNHUBER: Well, listen, you -- as I understand it, are there with your wife for your 25th anniversary. This hurricane, definitely not an omen of any kind. Are you taking this in good spirits there?

PFEIFER: Oh, yes. You know, I'm here with my wife. We've been, like you said, married 25 years, so it wasn't quite what were planning on our anniversary, but, you know, we've spent a little more time together, and I think it's been good for us.

BRUNHUBER: Well, there you go. Well, listen, you know, want to wish you a happy anniversary, but on a more serious note, wish that you and everybody there are safe as you continue to ride out this storm.


Robert Pfeifer in Ocho Rios, Jamaica, thank you so much for speaking with us. Really appreciate it.

ROBERT PFEIFER: Yes, sir. Thank you.


BRUNHUBER: So Joe Biden is getting support from democratic governors, but CNN is learning serious doubt is setting in, even in the White House about his chances for reelection. While details ahead and police India launch an investigation into the deadly crowd crush at a religious festival and accuse event organizers of being responsible. Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. President Joe Biden is getting a strong show of support from democratic governors as he fights to save his reelection bid. They met with the commander-in-chief at the White House Wednesday afternoon, declaring Biden was honest and open about his poor debate performance but still fit for office. Listen to this.


TIM WALZ, MINNESOTA GOVERNOR: All of us are trying to figure out and just want to make sure as governors we're on the front line of many of these things. We're in states, whether they're swing states or not, where folks care and are giving us feedback. And the feedback was we are all looking for the path to win. All the governors agree with that. President Biden agrees with that.

WES MOORE, MARYLAND GOVERNOR: We know we have work to do. We know that as we're standing right here, we're behind. But we also know that path, to be able to make sure that we can pull ahead in November is real and it's going to take all of us in order to make it happen and to make, and we are grateful to hear the level of excitement and the focus that the president, the vice president have about being victorious in November.


BRUNHUBER: President Biden will take part in a prerecorded interview with ABC News, which will air on Friday night. On Wednesday, he spoke with several radio hosts. Here he is.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I had a bad night. And the fact of the matter is that, you know, it was -- I screwed up. I made a mistake. That's 90 minutes on stage. Look at what I've done in 3.5 years.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BRUNHUBER: Meanwhile, there's growing concern that Biden could hurt his party in down ballot races come November. A second House Democrat is now calling on the president to end his campaign. Raul Grijalva of Arizona says, if Biden's the candidate, quote, I'm going to support him. But I think that this is an opportunity to look elsewhere. What he needs to do is shoulder responsibility for keeping that seat, and part of that responsibility is to get out of this race. The White House insists Biden is absolutely not stepping aside, but is struggling with other questions about the president's health. CNN's MJ Lee reports.


MJ LEE, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER (voice-over): President Joe Biden trying to save his teetering reelection campaign. After keeping a limited public schedule for days following his disastrous debate performance last week, the President emerging to try to reassure panicked borders.

Biden rallying his campaign staff on a call, telling them, quote, I'm running. I'm the nominee of the Democratic Party. No one's pushing me out. I'm not leaving. I'm in this race to the end.


But this, as CNN is learning that the president has privately acknowledged this week that the next stretch of days will be critical to whether he can save his candidacy. An ally who spoke with Biden on Tuesday telling CNN that the president was chastened and blamed himself, not his staff, for his poor debate performance.

BIDEN: With the COVID excuse me, with dealing with everything we have to do with --

LEE: The allies saying Biden is clear eyed about what it would look like if his efforts to save his campaign were to fail. The polls are plummeting, the fundraising is drying up, and the interviews are going badly. Meanwhile, the White House struggling to answer a barrage of questions about the president's health and medical records.

LEE: If now is not the time for full transparency, what is?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have been one of the most transparent administration when it comes to medical records.

LEE (voice-over): The White House also confronting questions about Biden's new explanation for his halting debate performance, jet lag and fatigue from two foreign trips despite having had nearly two weeks back in the states before the CNN debate.

JEAN-PIERRE: When he travels abroad, it's a pretty rigorous travel. We get tired looking at him doing his meetings and traveling.

LEE (voice-over): The White House ad campaign had previously blamed a cold. JEAN-PIERRE: I was so focused on the call -- on the cold, and that's

what I kind of leaned into and talked about. But yes, his schedule did have something to do with it. It was the schedule and the cold.

LEE (voice-over): One of Biden's first major tests coming on Friday when he sits down for an extended TV interview. Biden also beginning to call democratic leaders like Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries and Chris Coons.

LEE: And President Biden hosting a group of democratic governors here at the White House Wednesday night. Few of the governors coming out afterwards to tell reporters that they had honest conversations about the need to defeat Donald Trump and the path forward in the 2024 campaign.

And one of the governors, Tim Walz of Minnesota, said that the group was all in on pledging their support for President Biden. This was a large group of governors. So we will see whether that is in fact the case that every single one of the governors that met with the president Wednesday night is in fact all in. MJ Lee, CNN at the White House.


BRUNHUBER: And Caroline Heldman is a democratic strategist and professor at Occidental College. And she joins me now from Monterey, California. Thank you so much for being here with us.

So, he hear there from Biden and his camp, the mea culpas and the explanations. I had a bad night. He had a cold. He'd been doing too much travel. Will that reassure anyone at this point?

DR. CAROLINE HELDMAN, PROFFESOR, OCCIDENTAL COLLEGE: I don't think it's enough. The fact that the explanations continue to change means that there's a certain level of desperation here. It's kind of like, you know, what happened on January 6. We saw it with our own eyes. What happened at that debate? We saw it with our own eyes. You can't tell us something different happened.

And what's been revealed in the last couple of days from Carl Bernstein and other journalists is that there are as many as 15 to 20 of these episodes a year. So Biden has some serious work to do. He needs to be out reassuring voters that he is indeed fit for the office, especially when 72 percent of Americans do not believe he has the mental or physical fitness for the office.

He also needs to be convincing donors. And of course, these, you know, the prominent Democrats are going to support him because they have nothing to gain by going against the party. But he's in trouble. We look at the polls. We know that he's down six points. Biden has a big decision in front of him.

BRUNHUBER: Well, on that decision. All right, I want to get your reaction to two damning quotes. So anonymous senior Biden administration official told CNN, talking about the growing panic and loss of support, quote, first it's the donors and then it's elected officials. Now it's going to be polling. It just breaks down the resistance.

And then a democratic lawmaker told CNN that their assessment of Biden's candidacy is that, quote, it's over, we are just waiting for the announcement. He being Biden is not there yet. It'll take a bit to get there, but it's over. Is it over? I mean, do you buy these grim assessments coming from within the party?

HELDMAN: Well, I don't think it's over until we get some more polling this week. And the polling that Biden needs to look at, just thinking strategically, are these swing states, the key swing states. We know that in polls that were taken a round of polls a month ago that Trump was up in four out of five key swing states. Biden had a lot of ground to make up. We know recent polls, their national polls, CNN, the CNN poll, find that Trump is up six percentage points. That is a huge gap.

And I know polls this far out from the election, but that is a big gap to make up.


HELDMAN: But more importantly, did Biden lose ground in key swing states? if that's the case, then he needs to seriously look at what he is still doing in this race, given that so many other Democratic candidates do better in a head-to-head against Trump.


And obviously people will be poring all over all of those details but just from a wider lens, I guess, our latest polling that you -- that you mentioned there suggests that Biden went down a further 3 percent since the last poll before the debate.

So that's significant, as you say, but not catastrophic. I mean, the amount that were making this in the media and elsewhere -- are we kind of out of touch with voters, or is this just the snowball rolling downhill? It just kind of looks small right now.

HELDMAN: You know, that's a great question.

I would say as someone who's been a pollster for many years and worked as a data scientist, having a three-percentage point drop is massive.

So the overall number might not be catastrophic, but the pace at which that dropped it is significant, but beyond that, I think the bigger -- the bigger percentage to look at is, and I'm not trying to make a case here, I'm just thinking like if I'm Biden's advisers, I'm looking at the 72 percent of Americans who don't think he has a fitness. I'm looking at the 74 percent of Americans who think he shouldn't be on the race.

At this point in time, even though the Democratic bench is very deep and there are lots of folks who can step up to the plate who would do better than Biden, it's risky to do it last minute. It's risky in terms of fundraising and moving those funds over to a new candidate and selling that new candidate.

And this is not somebody who's been tested and Biden has been tested. So there are all of these reasons why maybe Biden should stay in the race and the biggest one maybe being that people in positions of power don't like to give up power that's why Donald Trump is running again.

But the end of the day, it looks bad for Biden. He started with very low approval ratings and those have only dropped and time is very short.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, it's interesting as you say, because the polling despite all the swings and the slings and arrows and everything has remained remarkably sort of stable. And then all of a sudden to have 3 percent, as you say it may not be numerically a huge number, but in comparison to what we've seen, it is big.

You were talking about the bench, the Democratic bench. I mean, CNN has been reporting that Democrats in the White House developing a succession plan for the presidential campaign, which involves shifting support to the vice president. Now the White House has denied this.

Do you think there is one? And if so is Harris the answer?

HELDMAN: Well, there are definitely many of these contingency plans floating around.

The question is whether or not they're coming from Biden's inner circle. There are certainly a lot of folks up who can step up. Obviously Kamala Harris would be the first pick. I will say as somebody who researches the presidency in gender and race, being a woman of color means that she will have some barriers with some voters that are non-Democratic.

But that's a fact. And so there are questions though about, ok, so let's say she's not the most competitive in the bench if you passed her over, do you disaffect black voters, do you disaffect voters of color in the Democratic coalition.

So that's a risky move. There are lots of kind of safer bets with, you know, white men who are not going to face those barriers, I think for example, like a Pete Buttigieg is going to face LGBTQ plus bias. Josh Shapiro is going to go in to face Jewish bias.

And if you're looking at this from a pure strategy perspective, you put a white dude in there who doesn't have any marginalized identities that might cause some voters to be turned off. But at the end of the day, if you, if you skip over Harris you get in a lot of trouble with the Democratic base.

BRUNHUBER: Fascinating.

Listen, thank you so much for your expertise breaking all down for us. Caroline Heldman, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

HELDMAN: Great to see you. Thank you. BRUNHUBER: For his part Donald Trump appears to be showing relative restraint as he watches President Bidens candidacy self-destruct. One Trump confidant tells CNN, quote, "Let Biden twist".

CNN's Kristen Holmes has more.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For the better part of a year, former President Trump's allies have been floating this idea without any merit, that Biden would not be at the top of the ticket, that eventually he would step down and be replaced by another candidate.

Now that they're actually facing a potential reality with this, they are trying to figure out what exactly that looks like and whether or not that's a good thing. And not everybody thinks it is.

I talked to one GOP pollster who said he'd rather go with the devil he knows than the devil he doesn't know. And along those lines, we know the campaign has spent millions of dollars in modeling advertisement, as well as data trying to create a campaign that runs against President Joe Biden and no one else.

But if you talk to the campaign, they say this is going to be decided on the issues, not on anything else, not on who the candidates are.


HOLMES: This was a direct quote from one of the senior advisers. They said, "The issues are the issues and that's what people care about. Every person on the potential list has been complicit in the decisions of the Biden administration."

Obviously, they're saying that whoever is at the top of the ticket, they will try and link to Biden's administration, particularly the economy, inflation, immigration, crime -- all things that Donald Trump polls ahead of Joe Biden in.

But it is certainly an interesting time. They say they're not going to change any of their strategy in terms of what they do for data modeling or starting anything new until they see how this plays out.

Kristen Holmes, CNN -- Washington.


BRUNHUBER: Missouri's attorney general is asking the U.S. Supreme Court's permission to file a complaint against the state of New York. He claims the gag order imposed on Donald Trump in his hush money trial infringes on the rights of voters to hear from the presidential candidate.

Andrew Bailey wants Trump's impending sentence delayed and the gag order lifted until after the presidential election in November. Jurors convicted the former president on 34 felony counts of falsifying business records related to his payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Trump is appealing the verdict.

All right. Still to come Hurricane Beryl approaches the Cayman Islands after leaving its mark on Jamaica.

We'll have the on where it's headed. That's coming up next. Stay with us.


BRUNHUBER: We're following Hurricane Beryl as it moves through the Caribbean.

The National Hurricane Center reports the storm is headed towards the Cayman Islands now after lashing Jamaica with high winds and heavy rain, their National Meteorological Service has called off the hurricane warning, but it issued a flash flood watch as severe weather and its effects are being felt across Jamaica's islands.

Anthony Lugg (ph) is with CNN affiliate TVJ, and he has more on the damage.


ANTHONY LUGG, TVJ REPORTER: This is what the situation is like here in east Portland. This roadway from Port Antonio leading to communities like (INAUDIBLE).

Now, I'd also like to point out that as (INAUDIBLE) of this downpour a number of areas in the vicinity is without electricity.


BRUNHUBER: And CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has more on Beryl's impact and its projected path.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. The center of the eye actually did not make landfall along the southern coast of Jamaica. But the eye wall itself did. And the eyewall has where all the winds are, has all the damage involved.

So we know that there were winds there somewhere about 160 kilometers per hour, at least on land. Not very many reporting stations out there to really get an idea of what happened.


MYERS: But we do know that there's been an awful lot of rain fall along the mountains, even some spots still going to pick up another hundred millimeters, maybe 150 millimeters of rain before it finally moves away.

Taking a look at the European ensemble -- sometimes we make these all different colors because they're all different models. This is actually one model, but changing just a few different things in the model to make it react differently.

The reason why they do that is to try to find where the center of the consensus is. So yes, there are some to the right that moved on up to the north into parts of the Gulf of Mexico and some to the left that go kind of squiggly and they all go the wrong way, just changing the wrong things in the model.

But still we get the same cone here in the middle. We still get landfall here likely as a category two along the Yucatan peninsula. And then somewhere up into northern Mexico or southern Texas.

Now overnight tonight we are seeing an awful lot of wind and waves in the Grand Cayman Islands from Cayman Brac all the way the Little Cayman and Grand Cayman itself.

So we'll have to see what kind of damage that creates as the sun comes up tomorrow.


BRUNHUBER: Police in India are investigating Tuesday's deadly crowd crush at a religious festival. It happened as female devotees rushed towards the stage to touch the feet of the preacher who led the event. That preacher is now being sought by police as part of a special investigation into the incident.

Police have accused event organizers of culpable homicide, attempting to cover up evidence and providing false information. The organizers haven't yet commented.

CNN's Ivan Watson has details. We just want to warn you, viewers may find some of the video in this report graphic.


IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: This wasn't supposed to happen. Victims wheeled past as grieving relatives arrive at hospitals looking for missing loved ones.

What was meant to be a time of prayer ended in tragedy in Northern India Tuesday afternoon after a religious gathering turned into a deadly crowd crush. It claimed more than a hundred lives.

Most of the victims, women and some children.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): As soon as the function ended, chaos ensued. Any person who fell could not get up. Everyone was crushed to death.

WATSON: Authorities say organizers issued permits for around 80,000 people to attend the event, but as many as 250,000 may have showed up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): There was a sudden commotion due to overcrowding and excessive humidity. WATSON: A government official said attendees may have fallen into an open sewer and on top of each other as they tried to reach the self- styled god-man, who led the prayer event.

A day after the disaster, Subhash Lal waits outside of main hospital, here to collect the body of his mother, 65-year-old Samdati Devi (ph).

"My son arrived first and said, Dad, your mother is no more," he says. "If there was no carelessness," he adds, "Then people would not have died like this."

Police are accusing the event organizers of culpable homicide and covering up evidence.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has expressed condolences to the victims' families.

but deadly incidents like this happen all too often in India. In January 2022, at least 12 people died in a crush at a shrine in Jammu in Northern India.

Authorities say they'll pay compensation to families of the victims of this week's tragedy, cold comfort for people who suffered a sudden and shocking loss.

Ivan Watson, CNN -- Hong Kong.


BRUNHUBER: All right. Still a head, a glimmer of hope for a ceasefire and hostage deal in Gaza. Hamas responds to an Israeli proposal. We'll have the latest on the negotiations. That's coming up next.

Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Israel and Hamas appear to be on the brink of a framework agreement for a ceasefire and hostage deal. That's according to an Israeli source familiar with the negotiations.

But a deal is still not finalized, nor is it assured. Israel says its evaluating the latest response from Hamas after it was delivered by Qatari and Egyptian mediators. Hamas says it dealt with the proposal, quote, "positively" and repeated its demands for a complete ceasefire and the withdrawal of Israeli forces from Gaza.

Israeli officials believe the latest response from Hamas will enable the two parties to begin negotiations. The specific details of a deal, Israeli negotiators are set to meet with the country's political leadership including the prime minister over the coming days to decide on next steps.

About 100 rockets were fired from Lebanon towards Israel on Wednesday, according to Israel's military. Now it's not clear how many rockets were intercepted and how many landed. The barrage comes after Israel killed a senior Hezbollah commander in southern Lebanon earlier in the day. The IDF says Mohammad Nasser (ph) was responsible for a number of attacks towards Israel, both before and during the war.

Hezbollah confirmed its senior commander was killed. Cross-border attacks between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah militants have ramped up rather in recent weeks.

Israel's defense minister gave this warning.


YOAV GALLANT, ISRAELI DEFENSE MINISTER (through translator): We will also reach a state of full readiness to do whatever action is required in Lebanon or to reach a settlement from a position of strength.

We prefer the settlement but if reality forces us, we will know how to fight.

We're now getting firsthand accounts of Russia's deadly strike on the Ukrainian city of Dnipro. Drones and missiles pummeled the city Wednesday morning, killing at least five people and leaving 34 other's injured.

Ukraine says the attack destroyed a medical clinic and damaged other buildings, including schools and a children's hospital while starting multiple fires.

Now, that's despite the fact that Ukraine says it shot down 11 drones and missiles, some survivors say they had close calls.

Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It was very scary when it started. There were very strong explosions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): the glass injured my face and my arm is broken.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I connect from the floor with my phone in my hand calling my wife just to tell her I love her. I thought these would be my last words.


BRUNHUBER: Ukraine's president later said only two things can prevent strikes like these. Modern air defenses and long-range capabilities for Ukraine to hit back.

All right. When we come back, Japan releases, its brand-new yen bank notes and there's something different about these bills.

We'll have that story coming up. Stay with us.



BRUNHUBER: Well its already being described as the wedding of the year, the son of Asia's richest man is set to marry his longtime girlfriend later this month. Now the wedding is set to take place from July 12 to the 14th.

The groom's mother blessed the couple ahead of the festivities.


NITA AMBANI, MUKESH AMBANI'S WIFE (through translator): Today marks the beginning of the festivities for our children Anant and Radhika's wedding. It is my good fortune to be here for this auspicious occasion.

Just seeing the children filled me with great joy. I pray to God for their happiness and well-being throughout their lives.

BRUNHUBER: The lavish pre-wedding celebrations have already created a media frenzy. In March, there was a three-day pre-wedding party that included a light show with more than 5,500 drones above a custom-built glass palace, where Rhianna performed. It was a attended by about 1,200 high-profile guests, including Mark Zuckerberg and Bill Gates.

The upcoming wedding is expected to follow Hindu tradition with a number of events over several days.

Japan's banks have been stocking their shiny new yen notes. They're sourced from a fairly unlikely source, the paperbush shrubs that grow on the Himalayan Mountains in Nepal.

Joining me now is CNN's Hanako Montgomery in Tokyo. So Hanako, it sounds as though they had to range fairly far afield in order to make these bills. What's behind this?

HANAKO MONTGOMERY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes Kim. Japan definitely had to travel quite a distance to get this paperbush.

So there's a lot of excitement here in Japan about these new bills. I have a few in my hands right now but you'll be surprised to know over 90 percent of these bills are made with materials sourced outside of the country, specifically Mitsumata or paper bush in other words.

It's a very, very key ingredient to making Japan's paper currency. But due to climate change, due to rural population shrinking, it can no longer be sourced domestically.

But luckily for Japan, in Nepal, there is an abundance of this specific plant, which is again being used to make this Japanese bills.

Take a look at how Mitsumata travels from the Nepal mountains to Japan's banks.


MONTGOMERY: Along the winding paths of Nepal's Himalayan peaks thrives a key cash crop for one of the world's wealthiest economies, Mitsumata.

This small yellow plant is essential for making Japan's bills. But shrinking farming populations and climate change means it can no longer be sourced locally.

Instead, it's found in abundance in Nepal's highland regions. A chance discovery made by Kanpou Incorporated, a company that produces paper for the Japanese government.

TADASHI MATSUBARA, PRESIDENT, KANPOU INC. (through translator): The profits from the Mitsumata are used to build elementary schools, to have better education to children and hair salons in the village.

MONTGOMERY: Tadashi Matsubara's company first went to Nepal for a charity program to help farmers dig wells. But after discovering Mitsumata in the mid-90s, growing wild as far as the eyes could see, they taught farmers how to cultivate the crop turned cash, transforming the local economy, Matsubara says.

MATSUBARA: I really think that Nepal contributed to Japan's economy. As cash is fundamental to Japanese economy, without Nepal Japan will not function.

MONTGOMERY: And as Japan unveils its first new bills in 20 years, the demand for the plant skyrockets.

These are Japan's brand-new bills. They're the first to have 3D holograms of historical figures to prevent counterfeiting and have tactile marks for the visually-impaired.

The new bills arrive as cash-loving Japan pushes for more digital payments. In 2023, nearly 40 percent of transactions in Japan were noncash, but it still trails far behind neighboring China, where it's almost completely cashless.

In Japan, where cash reigns king, this vital crop from the Himalayan hillside is key to filling its wallets.


MONTGOMERY: So Kim, I really want to emphasize here just how much the Japanese love their cash.


MONTGOMERY: Vending machines which are ubiquitous in Japan, some restaurants, even some clinics still only take cash.

So again, these new bills which I have here will be loved and cherished by the Japanese, Kim. BRUNHUBER: Yes, it's a fascinating story. Thanks for sharing that with

us. Hanako Montgomery in Tokyo, thanks so much.

While CNN has unveiled its top American towns to visit and at number two is Providence, Rhode Island. Some point to its vibrant arts and architecture, it's also known for its rich culinary history.

And there's something else that may look a bit out of place as our Derek Van Dam found out.


DEREK VAN DAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This scene may look familiar. I've been to Venice, right.

Clearly but like I feel like I'm in Italy. But were not on the grand canal in Venice. You know, the Riverwalk, I don't know if it was specifically designed to look Italian. But if you squint, you see Venice in Providence.

Providence, Rhode Ireland has long been a hub for Italian-American culture, tracing back to the waves of Italian immigrants that settled in Federal Hill. Now, one of the most iconic little Italys in the country.

Really spectacular to see the city from this perspective and this angle.

Perhaps it's no surprise then that on your visit to Providence, you can book a gondolier to serenade you while touring the city.

Sometimes were talking the entire time about history and other attractions and sometimes I might not do anything more than introduce myself and sing a couple of songs.

Bravo, Signore.

Next at our gondolier's recommendation, we headed to Al Forno, a restaurant famous for the unusual way they cook their pizza.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: So I stretch it here then it goes on the grill.

VAN DAM: According to Al Forno's owner Johanne Killeen, the idea for grilled pizza was inspired by another iconic Providence institution.

JOHANNE KILLEEN, OWNER, AL FORNO: Both my late husband and I are trained artists. We both went to Rhode Island School of Design and we approach cooking, instead of saying why, we say why not.

VAN DAM: Let's start painting my canvas here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We didn't have an oven in our kitchen so we had a grill and George said, well, let's try this. And that was the beginning of grilled pizza.

VAN DAM: David, I think we got something going on? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

VAN DAM: Let me know if you need any help back here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I do I'm looking for help.

KILLEEN: I'm trying to bring the magic of Italy to Providence.


BRUNHUBER: That is making me hungry, I have to tell you.

All right. Thanks for joining me.

I'm Kim --