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Biden Campaign Fights For Survival; Democratic Governors Voice Strong Support For Biden; Netflix Founder, Major Donor, Urges Biden To Step Aside; Political Appointees Resign Over Biden Policy on Gaza; Researchers Fight Poaching by Making Rhino Horns Radioactive; Twice- stolen Titian Painting Sells for Record $22.3 Million; Biden Fights for His Political Life After Debate Debacle; Boeing Whistleblower Alleges Elaborate, Off-the-books Practice to Meet Deadlines; Thousands to Evacuate as Wildfire Spreads in California. Aired 2-3a ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 02:00   ET




ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello and welcome to our viewers joining us here in the United States around the world and streaming us on CNN Max. I'm Rosemary Church. Just ahead. A fight for survival. The Biden campaign races to reassure supporters that the U.S. president is still in it to win it, even as more Democrats publicly call for him to step aside.

And Hurricane Beryl continues its destructive and deadly path roaring through Jamaica now headed toward the Cayman Islands, as it turns toward Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula.

ANNOUNCER: Live from Atlanta, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Rosemary Church.

CHURCH: Good to have you with us. Well, U.S. President Joe Biden is fighting for his political life, as the latest New York Times poll shows him losing even more ground to Donald Trump. Donors, Democrats in Congress and even some in the White House are raising serious concerns about whether Mr. Biden can recover from his disastrous debate performance last week.

Arizona's Raul Grijalva is now the second house Democrat to call on the President to exit the race is also running for reelection himself. He says if Biden's the candidate, "I'm going to support him, but I think that this is an opportunity to look elsewhere." What he needs to do is shoulder the responsibility for keeping that seat and part of that responsibility is to get out of this race.

For his part, President Biden will take part in a prerecorded primetime interview with ABC News on Friday. On Wednesday, he spoke with several radio hosts.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I had a bad night. 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.


CHURCH: The White House insists Mr. Biden is absolutely not stepping aside, but it's struggling with other questions about the President's health. CNN's MJ Lee reports.


M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Joe Biden trying to save his teetering reelection campaign.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. President. Mr. President.

LEE (voice-over): After keeping a limited public schedule for days following his disastrous debate performance last week, the President emerging to try to reassure panicked supporters. Biden rallying his campaign staff on a call telling them "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 a 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: COVID -- excuse me. With -- dealing with everything we have to do with --

LEE (voice-over): The ally 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 (on camera): If now's not the time for full transparency, when 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. Jetlag 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 and campaign had previously blamed a cold.

JEAN-PIERRE: I was so focused on the -- 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 T.V. 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. A few of the governor's coming out afterwards to tell reporters that they had 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 Trump. 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.

M.J. Lee, CNN at the White House.

CHURCH: Ron Brownstein is CNN senior political analyst and the senior editor for The Atlantic. He joins me now from Los Angeles. Good to have you with us.

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Hi, Rosemary. So, President Joe Biden is fighting for his political survival after days of mounting pressure to step aside, following his dismal debate performance last Thursday. Calls from big donors and elected Democrats for Mr. Biden to be replaced to getting louder and more public. Can he survive this mounting pressure?

BROWNSTEIN: You know, there are a lot of Democrats, the Democrats skeptical of Biden who have been -- I guess, optimistic is the word that he cannot survive this pressure that ultimately, he will be convinced or compelled to make the choice to get out of the race. But that is not entirely clear. I mean, you know, his language today was surprisingly defiant. There are still very few Democrats in the inner circle of the party who are willing to say publicly what I think many, many of them believe, privately, which is that the President's performance in the debate is not something that he can recover from in part because he went into the debate trailing and needed to improve and instead lost ground significantly according to the polls.

But also, because the debate, you know, didn't come out of nowhere. It reaffirmed for many voters, one of their deepest concerns about Biden going forward, which is that he's too old for the job. I mean, in that New York Times poll today, not only did Donald Trump have his biggest lead ever, you know, in -- at any point, I think, since he became a national figure, but 74 percent said they thought Biden was too old to be president.

Eighty-four percent of people under 45 said he was too old, over 80 percent of the people voting for third party candidates which is presumably his best option for growing the votes or acquiring the votes of ease to overtake Trump. So, there are -- there is a lot of anxiety in the Democratic Party. Not everyone believes that Biden is doomed. But I think that is, you know, the dominant view is that it is almost impossible for him to recover from this. And people are still uncertain what he is going to do.

CHURCH: So, if President Biden fights on and survives these next few days, as he is saying he will do. Is the race for him essentially over? Has he already handed victory to his rival Donald Trump, if he decides to remain in the race?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, you know, look, I mean, Donald Trump survived the Access Hollywood tape in 2016. So, you know, it's hard to say in American politics that it's over until it's over. And in fact, part of the problem that Biden's critics have, is that when Donald Trump said he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue and not lose any votes, he wasn't really only speaking for himself. He was speaking to some extent for both parties.

We are so dug in at this point, that full scale collapse is, you know, not really a possibility anymore. That what Biden -- what the Democratic strategist and elected officials and donors and advocacy group heads who I've talked to in the last few days are concerned about is as I said, Biden went into this debate trailer, he was the one who needed to shake up the dynamic. Needed to change the trajectory of the race.

And if he stays in the race, it is hard to see what could allow him to not only overcome the new damage that he's done, but even if he does that, what is now going to give him the boost that the debate was supposed to do to overcome the initial deficit that he faced. Rosemary, I am aware of post-debate polling done by democratic or liberal groups in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin.

Three states that he almost certainly needs to sweep to win that has him down six to seven points this week. And, you know, that is a very, very big hill in a country as polarized as ours.

CHURCH: Yes. Those are tough numbers. And Ron, are one of the biggest democratic donors, Netflix cofounder Reed Hastings told The New York Times Wednesday that President Biden needs to step aside to allow a more vigorous Democratic leader to beat Trump. Is Kamala Harris that person if Mr. Biden does decide to step down or is there another candidate better placed perhaps to do that?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, this is a dynamic that I think is surprising and is moving very quickly, which is that I think if President Biden does step down there -- many of the same people who are worried about his viability are also concerned that Harris cannot win either.

[02:10:07] And then in particular, she would struggle to win enough white-working class voters to hold on to those three critical states in the Rust Belt, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. But despite those concerns, I think she has the opportunity if Biden steps down to consolidate this race much more quickly and comprehensively than would have seen possible. You know, there's a demand side -- there is an opening in theory, because I think as I said, there are a lot of Democratic strategists and activists who are concerned that she can win.

I'm not sure there's a supply side opposition to her in that. It may be that none of the other top tier candidates, potential top tier candidates, like the governors of Illinois and Michigan, Pennsylvania, and California will view it as viable for their own long-term future to run against the first woman of color who has been on a national ticket. What that would mean to their future relations with black and female constituencies in the Democratic Party.

So, it's possible and maybe even likely at this point that if Biden gets out, the party will consolidate behind her to a much greater extent than seen possible only a few days ago. That is something that has clearly moved quite a bit in the last few days.

CHURCH: Ron Brownstein in Los Angeles. Many thanks for your analysis. Appreciate it.

BROWNSTEIN: Thanks for having me.

CHURCH: Donald Trump's legal team is looking to use Monday's Supreme Court ruling to their advantage in his multiple criminal cases. The historic ruling says the former U.S. President enjoys absolute presidential immunity for his core constitutional powers. CNN's Paula Reid has details.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: After Monday's Supreme Court decision, a lot of attention was paid to what the justices said about when a former president cannot be charged criminally. What charges would be barred from absolute immunity, but less attention was paid to what the Justice has said about what kind of evidence you can use and how official acts can in most cases not be used as evidence to support charges.

Now, this was an unexpected gift for the Trump team and something they're really going to drill down on in the next few months. Now, when it comes to the federal cases, they believe that this provision in the opinion about evidence needing to be excluded if it's connected to official acts, they believe that can help them attack the Mar-a- Lago documents case, perhaps even more effectively than they can the January 6 case, which is of course, what kicked off the Supreme Court case.

Now in the Mar-a-Lago documents case, they will argue that they will be able to exclude any evidence related to how those documents came to be in Trump's possession, how they got packed in boxes at the White House. And that requires a pretty expansive view of the Supreme Court's opinion. But that will be the focus of litigation will likely happen even before they are able to start fighting in the January 6 case because that case is unlikely to begin proceedings until early August.

Now, the January 6 case, they're also going to be trying to exclude any conversations Trump had with top advisors while he was in the White House until they'll try to exclude anything that happened before Trump left the White House. Again, unclear if they'll be successful, but that is going to be their focus. When it comes to the state cases, we've already seen them really hone in on this idea that certain evidence related to official acts should be excluded.

In New York, they've already gotten Trump's sentencing for his conviction on hush money charges delayed as they will litigate how the Supreme Court opinion applies to that case, to that trial. They will specifically argue that testimony by Hope Hicks from times when she was in the White House with Trump, that that should have been excluded, as well as certain tweets that were entered in his evidence.

Again, not clear that's going to get them a new trial, but that's going to be their focus, and they've already successfully gotten a sentencing delayed until the fall. Now when it comes to the other state case down in Georgia, that case is currently paused. Now, if it resumes that will likely take long enough for that to happen, that they will have already seen how certain judges are interpreting the Supreme Court's opinion and they will likely have a roadmap of exactly how they can use the Supreme Court case to try to attack that case as well.

Paula Reid, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: U.S. forecasters say Hurricane Beryl is bearing down on the Cayman Islands with strong winds, dangerous storm surge and damaging waves. The center of the storm is by Grand Cayman Island, and it has just weakened to a category three with 125 miles per hour winds, about 205 kilometers per hour. But forecasters warn it's still very dangerous. So far Beryl has killed at least eight people across the Caribbean.

Hours ago, the hurricane pounded southern Jamaica with slightly stronger winds, torrential rains and storm surge of about nine feet. The storm knocked down trees and powerlines 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.

Rafael Romo filed this report on Wednesday while braving violent winds in Kingston, Jamaica.


RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICAN AFFAIRS EDITOR: Hurricane Beryl is now here in Jamaica and it's hitting the southern tip of the coastline with horrible smite. It's hard to remain stand because the winds are just very, very powerful. This is not over yet. We have seen lots of debris have been blown off in the last few minutes. And also, how the roof was blown off on top of that 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 last at least 10 feet. So, these are very dangerous conditions here in Kingston. And of course, authorities are asking people to remain in shelters. They tell us that nearly 500 people are in shelters right now. Again, this is only the beginning and you can tell how strong the winds are here in Kingston, Jamaica.

And people are wondering here. Why is this happening so early in the season? And after seeing what happened in Barbados and places like Grenada, they feel like it's possible that the same devastation seen there can be seen here as well.

Rafael Romo, CNN, Kingston, Jamaica.


CHURCH: When we return, after six weeks of campaigning, the polls are now open in Britain with voters casting their ballots across the country.



CHURCH: Just minutes ago, the polls open for Britain's high stakes general election and voting is now underway. You are looking at live images from a polling station in London, looking pretty quiet there. Voters will have until 10:00 p.m. local time to cast their ballots. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak's conservatives up against the Labour Party led by Kier Starmer.

CNN's Nic Robertson has details on how the voting will unfold and what it will take to form a government.

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Well, the polls open at 7:00 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 in 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 p.m. This is something that a lot of people here have been waiting quite some time for.

Nic Robertson, CNN, London.

CHURCH: And be sure to watch CNN 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 5:00 in the afternoon here on the U.S. East Coast.

Still to come. Protesting Gaza policies, U.S. government appointees who resigned from the Biden administration talked to me about their decision to step down.



CHURCH: 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 it's evaluating the latest response from Hamas after it was delivered by Qatari and Egyptian mediators. Hamas says it dealt with the proposal "positively and repeated its demand 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 negotiating 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.

A group of U.S. government employees who publicly resigned in protest of the Biden administration's Gaza policies released a joint statement explaining their decision this week. It says and I'm quoting, "both our individual and common experiences demonstrate an administration that has prioritized politics over just unfair policymaking profit over national security, falsehoods over facts, directives over debate, ideology over experience and special interest over the equal enforcement of the law."

The impact of these injustices has resulted in tens of thousands of innocent Palestinian lives taken. Reflecting a clearer picture to the world of whose lives matter. And they added, we encourage you to keep pushing there is strength in numbers and we urge you to not be complicit.

Lily Greenberg Call and Maryam Hassanein are former Biden administration appointees. Marianne resigned her position at the Department of the Interior Tuesday over the administration's policies in Gaza. And in May, Lily became the first Jewish-American appointee to resign and they join me now from Washington. Thank you both for being with us.

MARYAM HASSANEIN, FORMER BIDEN POLITICAL APPOINTEE: Thanks for having us. CHURCH: So Lily, I want to start with you. Why did you decide that you needed to sign an open letter along with other U.S. officials who resigned over the war in Gaza, especially given you are Jewish- American?

HASSANEIN: I think there's a lot of power as a collective and I chose to resign in part because I felt that the administration leadership was not listening to myself and my colleagues. Because there is widespread dissent from all levels and all agencies within the administration. And this group of resignees so far, the 12 of us who formed this collective and sign this letter, we are interagency. We are interfaith, interethnic.

You know, there's a variety of ages and levels of seniority. And I think that's really reflective of the widespread dissent within the administration.


CHURCH: And Maryam, why was it important to you to make your views known and to resign your government position over the Biden Administration's policies in Gaza?

HASSANEIN: I definitely think that we all have a responsibility to speak out against wrong. And ultimately, I really felt it necessary because I saw month after month, this horrible policy that truly was harming Palestinians in Palestine and also Palestinians at home through the administration's language and really the kind of perpetuation of dehumanizing tropes Palestinians at home were -- have been subject to hate crimes.

So really, I think there was just a lot on the line and ultimately, I really was inspired by the student movement, the students who really sacrificed a lot in the sense of their academic and professional careers. I was inspired by that and I took a look at what I can sacrifice and what I can do to advocate for Palestinians and to advocate for a better approach to alleviate this crisis.

CHURCH: And Lily, what is it that you would like to see the Biden Administration do when it comes to Israel and its war in Gaza? And do you recognize that there has already been some pushback against Benjamin Netanyahu, but clearly, you don't think that's sufficient.

GREENBERG CALL: No, I don't. I don't think that the administration is using all of the leverage at its disposal to bring about an immediate and permanent ceasefire, and a change in the status quo of apartheid on occupation that got us to this place of this cycle of violence that harms Palestinians and ultimately also harms Israelis. I think there, the ceasefire deal that is on the table is a good first step. But if the president is serious about a ceasefire then he also needs to stop the flow of offensive weapons to Israel.

He can't say that he is serious about peace and then continue giving Israel the weapons that multiple outlets, including CNN, have confirmed have been used to massacre innocence civilians, people in displaced persons camps, who've been displaced from their homes and other parts of Gaza and who are now in Rafah in these horrible conditions. So I think the first thing is to stop the offensive -- stop the flow offensive weapons to Israel, use all of the leverage that the U.S. has to push for an immediate and permanent ceasefire and hostage exchange.

And then, some of the things that we articulated in this letter include, you know, changing U.S. policy to include support for -- of the self-determination of Palestinian people and an end to military settlement and expansion in the West Bank, expansion of humanitarian aid and committing funds to rebuilding Gaza. I think that is a moral obligation of the United States after supplying the weapons that have been used to destroy Gaza. We want stronger oversight and accountability mechanisms within the executive branch.

And here at home, Maryam mentioned there have been hate crimes against Palestinians. There has been police brutality directed at student protesters. We want there to be a real focus on freedom of speech and assembly for people who are exercising their First Amendment rights and protesting the U.S. involvement in Israel's war crimes.

CHURCH: Lily Greenberg Call and Maryam Hassanein, and thank you so much for joining us. Appreciate it.

GREENBERG CALL: Thanks again for having us, take care.

CHURCH: And we'll be right back.



CHURCH: Welcome back everyone. Researchers are hoping a bold new strategy could help fight poaching in Africa. They are injecting radioactive material into rhino horns. Now, this would be picked up by radiation detectors already in place at national borders. If it proves successful, it could help save other animal species from the black market. CNN's Lynda Kinkade reports.


LYNDA KINKADE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): South African researchers are preparing to try something new to save rhinos from poaching. At a rhino orphanage in the Waterberg area of South Africa, vets and nuclear experts come together, tranquilizing the animal first, then drilling a hole in its horn to inject radioactive materials.

JAMES LARKIN, PROJECT DIRECTOR, THE RHISOTOPE PROJECT: What I've done is, I have just put in two tiny little radioactive chips into the horn. So the idea is to devalue the rhino horn in (inaudible) to make it a lot easier to track going through borders, international crossings, and things.

KINKADE (voice-over): The concept is to prevent these animals from being poached for their horns, which are in high demand in East Asia where they are used in traditional medicine and worth their weight in gold. Radiation detectors at national borders and airports will be able to detect the horns and help apprehend poachers and traffickers. 20 rhinos are being given the injection as part of a research project. These scientists say it won't harm them.

NITHAYA CHETTY, PROFESSOR AND DEAN OF SCIENCE, WITS UNIVERSITY: The dosage is at a fairly low level, low enough that it will not impact on the animal itself in any negative way.

KINKADE (voice-over): But it will make the horn itself useless for about five years.

CHETTY: So, it is not consumable by human beings, essentially poisonous for human consumption for whatever needs people use this for.

KINKADE (voice-over): According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the global rhino population was estimated at 500,000 in the beginning of the 20th century. That number has decreased to around 27,000 because of the continued demand from the black market. In February, South Africa's environment ministry reported that 499 of the large animals were killed in 2023, up from 448 in 2022. Scientists say radioactive injections are cheaper than dehorning an animal every 18 months and provide a long-term benefit.

JESSICA BABICH, COO, THE RHISOTOPE PROJECT: Final blood samples are taken. And then we can do all of the analyses that we need to show that these rhinos are going to be protected from now into the future.

KINKADE (voice-over): Researchers say they aim to replicate this process to protect other vulnerable wild species from poaching, such as elephants and pangolins.

Lynda Kinkade, CNN.


CHURCH: A twice-stolen renaissance painting, once recovered at a bus stop, just set a new record at auction. The 16th century piece is called " The Rest on the Flight into Egypt." It depicts a Baby Jesus with Mary and Joseph.


It is one of the earliest works of Italian master Titian, featuring or measuring roughly 25 inches wide or 62 centimeters. The painting is tiny compared with some of the larger works, for which the artist became known later in his life. It was looted by French troops in Vienna in 1809. Then in 1995, it was stolen again and vanished for seven years before a detective found it inside a plastic bag at a bus stop in London. Christie's said the $22 million plus selling price is the highest amount paid at auction for a work by the artist.

I'm Rosemary Church. For our international viewers, "World Sport" is coming up next. And for those of you here in the United States and in Canada, I'll be back with more "CNN Newsroom" after a short break. Do stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


CHURCH: A warm welcome back to our viewers in North America. I'm Rosemary Church. President Joe Biden will host a Fourth of July barbecue for members of the U.S. Military and their families in the day ahead. The Commander in Chief insists he is staying in the presidential race despite his disastrous debate performance. The latest "New York Times" poll shows Donald Trump pulling even further ahead of Mr. Biden, 49 percent to 43 percent.

The president hosted a group of Democratic governors at the White House on Wednesday, they say Mr. Biden was honest and open about his poor debate showing, but still fit for office.


GOV. KATHY HOCHUL, (D-NY): President Joe Biden is in it to win it. And all of us said we pledged our support to him because the stakes could not be higher.


CHURCH: Some Democrats are already gaming out potential ways to replace President Biden as the party's nominee. CNN's Brian Todd has that story.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If President Biden leaves the race, analysts say it would almost certainly have to be his decision to bow out voluntarily.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It is unlikely that if Joe Biden does not step down voluntarily, that there would be a different nominee at the top of the ticket.

TODD (voice-over): If he doesn't voluntarily leave, someone in the Democratic Party could try to replace him by introducing an open nomination process at the Democratic National Convention in August. But that scenario is unlikely. Still, even if the president decides on his own to quit the race, the process for replacing him is uncertain and somewhat messy.

LARRY SABATO, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: The primaries are over, the caucuses are over. You can't redo the primaries or caucuses. You can elect new delegates.

TODD (voice-over): If Biden steps aside before the convention, it could turn the convention itself into a free for all, or at least make it full of entry. Names of replacements would be put forward and the roughly 3,900 Democratic delegates from across the country would decide who to vote for as the nominee.

SABATO: Oh, it is up to the delegates. In the end, it is up to them. TODD (voice-over): President Biden won almost all of those 3,900 delegates in the primaries. But does he have control over who they support if he is out of the race?

KANNO-YOUNGS: It is not like Joe Biden can say, OK, I'm stepping down, all of you delegates that signed on for me have to now support this other candidate. That is not how it works. Those delegates would essentially be free to move the way they want.

TODD (voice-over): Like the days of old, backroom deals and lobbying could prevail at the convention as potential nominees try to convince the delegates to get behind them. In the end, how many of the 3,900 delegates would a candidate have to win at the convention to get the nomination?

ELAINE KAMARCK, DNC RULES AND BYLAWS COMMITTEE: Ultimately, they would have to convince somewhat -- somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000- plus Democratic delegates to vote for them on a roll call vote.

TODD (voice-over): If no candidate can convince roughly 2,000 delegates to vote for them in the first round, then additional so- called super-delegates, about 700 of them comprised of party insiders and elected officials, are also allowed to join in the voting. It would all mean a late start for any candidate, including in the money race. If Vice President Kamala Harris won the nomination, she would presumably be able to use Biden's campaign war chest because her name is on all the filings. But any other candidate may have to raise their own money.

TODD: What happens if President Biden for some reason leaves the race after the Democratic Convention? Experts say in that likely event, the Democratic National Committee would convene and select the Democratic nominee for president on its own.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


CHURCH: A series of highly publicized safety issues have rocked Boeing, leading to U.S. Congressional investigations of the company and its leadership. Now, a former quality control manager is speaking out, alleging the plane manufacturer routinely took unsafe parts from a scrap yard and put them onto factory assembly lines. In his first network TV interview, a 30-year veteran of the company told CNN what he says was an elaborate off-the-books practice used to meet production deadlines. CNN's Pete Muntean has more.


PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): If Everett, Washington is a Boeing company town, then Merle Meyers was a company man. A 30-year veteran of Boeing, Meyers says his job as a quality control manager put his kids through college. It is a family tradition. His late mother was a Boeing inspector, able to unilaterally decide if a new airplane just off the factory line was fit to fly. MUNTEAN: What would she think about what is happening at Boeing?


MERLE MEYERS, BOEING WHISTLEBLOWER: She'd be absolutely livid.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Meyers new allegations detail an elaborate off- the-books practice centering on parts deemed not safe to put in new airplanes. He is the latest whistleblower to come forward with claims of quality control lapses at Boeing. This is his first TV interview inspired by the January 5th door plug blowout on an Alaska Airlines 737 Max 9.

Spray painted red, bad parts deemed not up to Boeing's standards are taken from Boeing's Everett plant and sent to its scrap facility in Auburn. But then one day in 2015, Meyers says a crate of bad parts were improperly sent back from Auburn to Boeing's Everett factory. Meyers alleges the practice continued for years, telling that more than 50,000 parts escaped Boeing quality control.

MUNTEAN: 50,000 parts?

MEYERS: That's what we counted at the time.

MUNTEAN: It seems like a heck of a lot.

MEYERS: It is a heck of a lot indeed.

MUNTEAN: What does that say to you?

MEYERS: Well, that says it puts people's lives at risk, not just passengers, but flight crews. And a lot of these are flight-critical parts that made it back into the production system.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Company e-mails show Meyers repeatedly flagged the issue to Boeing's corporate investigations team, pointing out what he says were repeat violations of Boeing's safety rules. But Meyers insists investigators routinely failed to enforce those rules. In a 2022 e-mail, he wrote that Boeing investigators ignored eyewitness observations and the hard work done to ensure the safety of future passengers and crew.

MUNTEAN: Why would they do this?

MEYERS: Schedule, the schedule. To get planes out the door, to make money. Yeah.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): Meyers believes he was forced out of Boeing last year and is concerned there are still problems at the company.

MEYERS: Well, I think they need to punish. They need to fire people that blatantly violate the process and endanger the flying public. It's a huge problem. And a core requirement of a quality system is to keep bad parts and good parts apart.

MUNTEAN (voice-over): In a statement, Boeing says it encourages employees to speak up and that to ensure the safety, quality, and conformance of our products, we investigate all allegations of improper behavior such as unauthorized movement of parts or mishandling of documents. We then work diligently to address them and make improvements.

Meyers says he is coming forward now because of the pride he has in Boeing. He goes so far as to call it a wonderful company, one he says has been going astray and is in desperate need of change.

MEYERS: But you have to care, leadership has to care to do that. But if you can't even keep parts segregated from good parts, what else aren't you doing right?


MUNTEAN (on camera): The mystery here is that we did not have an exact accounting of where these parts are. They range from the superficial like fasteners to the critical wing flaps used for landing. If these parts weren't returned to the scrap yard, our whistleblower is worried that they ended up on new planes delivered to airlines and other customers in the last decade or so. How big a deal is that? Also hard to know, since we don't know exactly how or where they were used. But there is no question that these scrap parts should not have been put on planes.

Pete Muntean, CNN, Washington.

CHURCH: In Northern California, thousands have been ordered to evacuate as a large wildfire burns in Butte County. Soaring temperatures have dried the vegetation, providing fuel for the fire and those high temperatures are expected to continue into next week. California's Governor Gavin Newsom has declared a state of emergency. CAL FIRE reports the Thompson Fire has grown to roughly 3,500 acres and is only 7 percent contained. More than 1,400 firefighters are working to put out the blaze, four have been injured. CNN's Stephanie Elam is there.


STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing at Lake Oroville where the Thompson Fire is burning, where we've seen thousands of evacuations and thousands of acres burned. Let me step out of the way so you can see here how quickly this fire has burned down into this lakefront area here. It has also burned through some homes, but what you also may notice is just how windy it is and that is part of the issue here, spreading fires. We've seen some places where the fire has burned down a house and right next door, the house is totally fine.

What is also noteworthy is that here in California, according to CAL FIRE, we've seen a 1,600 percent increase in the number of acres burned so far this year versus last year. So you're talking about 7,500 acres burned at this time last year compared to more than 130,000 acres burned so far this year.

[02:55:00] Part of the issue is the last two years have been very, very wet and that means that has given a lot of growth of vegetation. That is the problem. In fact, take a listen to what CAL FIRE says this means for the fire here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This winter, we had a significant amount of rain, but with rain, brings growth and the challenge with that is that fuels and vegetation continues to dry out. And in California that spells the next large wildfire.

ELAM: Of course, with the Fourth of July, the concern is fireworks, but here in Oroville, they've canceled their Fourth of July firework shows. They are battling this blaze. And throughout the state where fireworks are mainly banned in most places, they are very concerned that they'll spark other wildfires. Take a look at this video from San Francisco which shows you how quickly this three-acre blaze blew up because of an ember from a firework that went off. So they are asking people not to blow up any fireworks at all.

The issue as well is the heat and it is going to be over 105 degrees in several places as we are roasting out here in much of the west, those dangerous temperatures, they're asking people to stay inside, to keep their pets inside as well. Stay cool. It is going to be roasting like this for several days and they're saying using the words that this is an unprecedented danger that we are facing. Back to you.

CHURCH: And thank you so much for your company this hour. I'm Rosemary Church. I'll be back with more "CNN Newsroom" in just a moment. Do stay with us.