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Some Democrats Weighing Options to Replace Biden; Israel Studying Hamas Response to Ceasefire Proposal; Former Boeing Manager: Scrap Parts Ended Up on Assembly Lines. Aired 4:30-5a ET

Aired July 04, 2024 - 04:30   ET



MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster. If you're just joining us, some top stories today.

Hurricane Beryl has been downgraded to a Category 3 storm, pushing its way across the Caribbean. Beryl is currently passing by the Cayman Islands. It's expected to make landfall on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Friday.

Voting underway in the U.K., with polls set to close at 10 p.m. London time. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak heads the Conservatives, and the Labour Party, led by Keir Starmer, will have much more on that throughout the day.

And the U.S. president admits the next few days will be crucial in convincing Democrats he's their best candidate to beat Donald Trump. Joe Biden met with governors on Wednesday, who say despite his poor debate performance, the president is in it to win it. Some Democrats already gaming out potential ways to replace President Biden, though, 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, PROFESSOR, 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 intrigue. 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, SENIOR FELLOW, GOVERNANCE STUDIES, BROOKINGS: 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.


FOSTER: Israel and Hamas appear to be on the brink of a framework agreement for a cease-fire and a hostage deal. That is according to an Israeli source familiar with the negotiations. But the 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, quote, positively, and repeated its demand for a complete cease-fire 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.

Let's bring in CNN's Paula Hancocks who's following developments from Abu Dhabi. I feel like we've been here before, Paula, but where do you see the common ground -- Paula?

PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, that is the key point, Max. We have been here a number of times, believing there was going to be some kind of breakthrough and then the talks would stall. But this time around, we're not hearing an immediate response from Israeli officials or from Benjamin Netanyahu dismissing the Hamas counterproposal. So if you're looking for some sign of positivity, you could look at that. In the past, he's called Hamas counterproposals delusional.

What we know at this point is that the Israeli mediators will be talking with the top leadership in Israel over coming days.


Netanyahu himself will be the one who ultimately decides whether or not there is enough within this to be able to push through to a deal and whether they should move on to the next phase of negotiations. Now, we're hearing from this Israeli source familiar with the ongoing discussions that there will be difficult discussions ahead.

It could take several weeks still until there is an official deal. If that is the way that it ends up. They will have to decide, for example, which particular Palestinian prisoners have to be released in return for the 120 hostages still being held in Gaza. And, of course, the sequencing of the releases as well. So there are still details that have to be hammered out.

But Hamas, for its side, said that it looked at this deal positively. It is still insisting on a complete and permanent ceasefire and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza.

Now, the one thing, of course, Max, that has changed since the last time we were in this position is that Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, says that he is close to completing what he wanted to do in Rafah. So the plan that Netanyahu has is certainly further along. We know that the Rafah operation was in the way of previous negotiations, as the Israeli prime minister still wanted, as he said, to defeat the final Hamas battalions in that particular area.

So it's not a done deal at this point. We will wait to hear more. But certainly it's more positive than we've been hearing for recent weeks as these talks have been stalled -- Max.

FOSTER: In terms of the strike on Khan Younis, there was a U.N. school, wasn't there? And this is as the Israelis increase the areas they're evacuating?

HANCOCKS: Yes, this is a particular area where they've been trying to evacuate over recent days. And we are seeing intensified strikes in the area of Rafah, Khan Younis, as you say. And we have seen thousands of people.

And I should mention they are already displaced quite often, numerous times, moving around different areas trying to find safety. They are now moving on to other areas, as the Israeli military appears to be intensifying its strikes once again on Khan Younis. This is not the first time that they have been operating here. And they had already left that area, believing it to be cleared of Hamas militants.

But we did hear from one resident about just how difficult the situation has become.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I am imploring the world, from all the nations, to have mercy on us, have some compassion for us, to look and stand by us. They need to put pressure on everyone to stop this war and this hostility. What is happening to us is unjust and we cannot bear it. We can't.


HANCOCKS: Humanitarian aid groups saying that it is extremely difficult again for these people to be moved on. It is a desperate situation. The European Hospital is within the evacuation orders. So that was evacuated in recent days as well. Images of babies in incubators, of patients from ICU being pushed down the street to other hospitals, which themselves are completely inundated -- Max.

FOSTER: Paula Hancocks live in Abu Dhabi. Thank you.

We are now getting first-hand accounts of Russia's deadly strike on the Ukrainian city of Dnipro. Drones and missiles pummeled the city on Wednesday morning, killing at least six people and leaving several others injured. Ukraine says the attack destroyed a medical clinic and damaged other buildings, including schools and a children's hospital, while starting multiple fires. That's despite the fact that Ukraine says it shot down 11 drones and missiles.

Ukraine's president later said only two things can preserve strikes -- prevent, rather, strikes like these, modern air defenses and long- range capabilities for Ukraine to hit back.

More U.S. military hardware will soon be heading to Ukraine. Washington's announced a new batch of military aid worth about $2.3 billion. It includes artillery rounds, interceptor missiles and anti- tank weapons, which will be taken directly from U.S. military stocks. That's the fifth aid package since Congress approved about $61 billion in aid for Kyiv in April. The U.S. has provided close to $54 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the war began.

Now, when we return -- (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)



MUNTEAN: To get planes out the door.

MEYERS: Mm-hmm.

MUNTEAN: To make money.


FOSTER: A former Boeing manager turned whistleblower sits down with CNN to allege the plane manufacturer of routinely mishandling parts.

And weight-loss drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy are all the rage, but a new study shows they may be linked to a rare condition.



FOSTER: Google's quest to go green has hit a snag, thanks to AI. It seems those AI systems need a lot of computers to run them, resulting in Google's greenhouse gas emissions soaring 48 percent since 2019. The tech titan blames increased energy consumption and its data centers that run all of those power-hungry computers.

Google now calls its goal of having net zero emissions by 2030 extremely ambitious, warning that its emissions may rise before they fall. Google says it will invest in clean energy sources.

More legal trouble for rapper and businessman Sean Diddy Combs. A lawsuit filed on Wednesday in New York accuses the musician of sex trafficking and sexual assault. A former adult film actor says Combs forced her to engage in prostitution and sex work during his famous white parties. This is the ninth lawsuit against Combs since last November.

One of the previous eight was filed by his former girlfriend, singer Casey Ventura. She also accused Combs of sexual assault. That case was settled out of court.

A former quality control manager at Boeing is speaking out, alleging that the plane manufacturer routinely took unsafe parts from a scrapyard and put them onto factory assembly lines. In his first network TV interview, the 30-year veteran of the company told CNN an elaborate off-the-books practice was 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.

MUNTEAN: To get planes out the door, to make money.

MEYERS: Mm-hmm.

MUNTEAN: To make money.


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: The mystery here is that we do 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 scrapyard, our whistleblowers 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.


FOSTER: Popular weight loss and type 2 diabetes drugs like Ozempic and Wegovy have been linked to an increased risk of a rare form of blindness. And that's according to a new medical study published on Wednesday. The authors found that about 10 out of 100,000 people taking the medications may experience the problem.

It's a form of optic neuropathy that results in sudden painless vision loss in one eye. The risk was found to be greatest within the first year of taking the medication. The drugs manufacturer Novo Nordisk didn't respond to requests for comment on that study, though.

The U.S. has recorded its fourth case of the H5N1 bird flu amongst humans. The disease has spread amongst livestock in at least seven states. Officials say the latest case is a farm worker who was exposed to animals just like the three earlier patients, in fact. The worker had only mild symptoms and recovered after treatment with an antiviral medication. The CDC says the risk of bird flu for people remains low, but those who work with infected livestock should take precautions.

Judy Garland, James Dean, Burt Reynolds, no longer with us, but their voices are very much alive. When we return, how AI is bringing these stars back in a new way.



FOSTER: Cycling history being made at the Tour de France as Mark Cavendish set a new record by winning his 35th stage of the grueling race. The 39-year-old from the Isle of Man says he was in a bit of disbelief afterwards. He broke through a chaotic sprint finish to win Wednesday's stage, surpassing the long-standing record of legendary cyclist Eddy Merckx.

It's a remarkable comeback for Cavendish as he had reversed his decision to retire after crashing out of last year's race. And this year is likely to be his final appearance at the Tour.

It looks like LeBron James will finish out his NBA career with the Los Angeles Lakers. Reports say he signed a two-year, $104 million contract with the team. It includes a no-trade clause and a player option for a third season. CNN has reached out to the Lakers for confirmation and comment. If the deal goes through, James and his son Bronny would become the first father and son duo in league history to play together. The Lakers selected Bronny James as the 55th overall pick in the NBA draft.

Stories in the spotlight.

Judy Garland starred in the movie Wizard of Oz but never recorded the audiobook. Now you'll be able to hear the voice of the late singer read the beloved story. Or almost anything else.



JUDY GARLAND, AI VOICE: At that moment, Dorothy saw lying on the table the silver shoes that had belonged to the Witch of the East.


FOSTER: Garland is amongst several deceased actors including James Dean and Burt Reynolds who are now on the Reader app by the company Eleven Labs. It acquired the rights to their voices from their estates. Using artificial intelligence on the app, you can get the stars to read out loud your favorite texts, newsletters or books.

This comes two months after ChatGPT came under fire for using a synthetic voice similar to Scarlett Johansson's character in the film Her.

A Delta Airlines flight from Detroit to Amsterdam was diverted to New York's JFK airport early on Wednesday after several in-flight meals were found to be spoiled. Medical crews were on hand to treat any impacted passengers or crew. Delta apologized for any inconvenience and delays. The flight was scheduled to finally arrive in Amsterdam a few hours ago, more than 16 hours late.

A twice-stolen Renaissance painting which was once found 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's one of the earliest works of the Italian master Titian.

Measuring roughly 25 inches wide or 62 centimeters, the painting is tiny compared with some of the larger works for which the artist is known later. 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 recovered it inside a plastic bag at a London bus stop.

Christie said the $22 million-plus selling price is the highest amount paid at auction for a work by the artist.

Thanks for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Max Foster in London. CNN "THIS MORNING" is up next.