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Biden Staying In The Race; Dems Fret Over Presidential Candidacy; Reformer Masoud Pezeshkian Wins Iran's Presidential Runoff, Calls For Unity; Biden Congratulates New British Prime Minister Keir Starmer; France Set For High-Stakes Parliamentary Vote On Sunday; Biden Pushes Back On Concerns For His Health; Tv Interviews Can Make Or Break Campaigns; Israel Says Gaps Remain After Ceasefire Talks in Doha; China Ousts Two Defense Ministers as Xi Seeks Loyalty; Wisconsin Dam Under Threat After Heavy Rains; Soaring Temperatures Torment Western U.S. Aired 3-4a ET

Aired July 06, 2024 - 03:00   ET




KIM BRUNHUBER, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to all of you here in the United States, Canada and all around the world, I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

Regroup, rally and refuse to quit the race. Joe Biden holds onto his candidacy, calling his debate performance, "a bad night." Some Democrats say the president is in denial. But this could be Biden's make or break moment. We look at other times presidents have tried to make a comeback from a bad performance.

And later, China's military may not be as battle ready as it appears. What's behind the latest purge in leadership.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (voice-over): Live from Atlanta this is CNN NEWSROOM with Kim Brunhuber.

BRUNHUBER: U.S. President Joe Biden says he will only drop out of the 2024 race or rethink his candidacy if, quote, "the Lord Almighty comes down and tells him to," calling his debate performance, "a bad night."

He says it's not a reason for him to step aside. Biden sat for an exclusive interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos and he said his performance was no one's fault but his.

But he also pointed a finger at former president Donald Trump, here he is.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I was having a bad night when I realized that, even when I was answering a question, even if they turned his mic off, he was still shouting and I let it distract me.

I'm not blaming it on that. But I realized that I just wasn't in control.


BRUNHUBER: Biden says no one said he needed to have a cognitive test. He also said the job of president puts him through a full neurological test every day.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: The American people have been watching, yet their concerns about your age and your health are growing. So that's why I'm asking, to reassure them, would you be willing to have the independent medical evaluation?

BIDEN: Watch me between -- there's a lot of time left in this campaign. There's over 125 days.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So the answer--


BIDEN: They'll make a decision.

STEPHANOPOULOS: -- right. The answer right now is, no, you -- you don't want to do that right now.

BIDEN: Well, I've already done it.


BRUNHUBER: Now many polls, including CNN's latest poll, show Trump leading in the race and a new Reuters Ipsos poll shows Biden's approval rating at just 37 percent, which could be a bad sign, of course, for his reelection hopes.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Mr. President, I've never seen a president with 36 percent approval get reelected.

BIDEN: Well, I don't believe that's my approval rating. That's not what our polls show.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And if you stay in and Trump is elected and everything you're warning about comes to pass, how will you feel in January?

BIDEN: I'll feel as long as I gave it my all and I did the good job as I know I can do, that's what this is about.


BRUNHUBER: Biden addressed supporters in the battleground state of Wisconsin on Friday. He told them he's staying in the race and compared his debate performance to Donald Trump's gaffes.


BIDEN: By the way, if you wonder whether Trump has it all together, did you ever hear how he explained the 4th of July when he was president?

No, I'm serious. It's true.

His explanation how America won the Revolutionary War -- I'm not making this up. He said in his 4th of July speech five years ago, he said, "George Washington's army won the revolution by taking control of the airports from the British."


BIDEN: I'm talking about me, Miss Piggy. Airports and the British in 1776?


BIDEN: It's true. He is a stable genius.


BRUNHUBER: Some Democratic allies remained unconvinced by Biden's arguments.

The first Democratic congressman to call on the president to withdraw from the race says he heard nothing in Biden's interview to make him reconsider his position. Texas representative Lloyd Doggett now says that time is of the essence.


REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): We may not be the Lord Almighty calling from on high.

But from Maine to Washington tonight, from Chicago, from Arizona, from people all over the country saying, Mr. President, the risk of a Trump presidency to destroy our democracy, to give us -- to take over the government and never give it back again is so great that we have to have our strongest candidate.

Now, I know -- I hear from some of the Biden supporters. They're like a constituent who sent me a one-line message that I loved and treasured for a decade.

He said, "You're my horse and I'm with you if you never win another race."

And Biden has some supporters like that.


But we can't afford to lose this race. And that's why we have to pick the strongest candidate possible. And every day he delays in making that decision makes it more difficult.


BRUNHUBER: U.S. senator Mark Warner is said to be leading an effort to get Democratic senators on board with replacing Joe Biden. Sources tell CNN that Warner's planning to meet with other senators on Monday.

Meanwhile, a House lawmaker tells CNN that minority leader Hakeem Jeffries has scheduled a meeting with party leaders there for Sunday. Our Sunlen Serfaty has more.


SUNLEN SERFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: The concern among Democrats on Capitol Hill is only intensifying. A handful of House Democrats now saying they believe it is time for President Joe Biden to step aside. Here's Illinois Congressman Mike Quigley.


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): What we need right now and I think what takes us fine is to step aside and recognize the President of the United States doesn't have the vigor necessary to overcome the deficit here and it's going to affect us all.


SERFATY: And privately, many additional members are expressing their concern about President Biden's viability behind closed doors. On Sunday, House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries has called a virtual meeting for Democratic committee ranking members. That will be a key meeting for leadership to get a sense of how their members are feeling.

The House and Senate will be back in Washington on Monday and Tuesday and sources telling CNN that will be something of an inflection point of sorts. Members have been home. They've been hearing from their constituents and they will bring those concerns back with them here to Washington.

Certainly, a consequential moment for Democrats here in Washington, House Democrats attempting to retake control of the House. And certainly, even as he digs in and recommits to the race, a consequential moment for President Biden -- Sunlen Serfaty, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: So President Biden will have a couple of chances next week to show that he can handle another four years in the White House. Our Jeff Zeleny explains.


JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF U.S. NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Next week is a very big week for his day job for the presidency. The NATO leaders, the NATO summit is here. And that is going to -- once upon a time, that was one of his biggest strengths.

For a variety of reasons now just where this campaign is, foreign affairs are not at the forefront of this election.

But for him, they could be. It could be a moment for him to show that he is in command and in control. He has said that he will have a press conference next week. So that offers another opportunity. Or it could be a moment to show the opposite.

There have been concerns. We've all talked with officials who have said, privately, in meetings, he's not as sharp as he was. So next week will be an example and a way to see that. And it's pretty -- there are going to be a lot of opinions next week in Washington, from Capitol Hill to NATO leaders. So it will be a good chance to sort of size things up.



BRUNHUBER: Natasha Lindstaedt is a professor of government at the University of Essex and she joins us now from Winchester, England.

Good to see you again.

So it seemed as though the media had set a really high bar for this ABC interview, as if, you know, one interview could magically wipe away the fears. How do you think President Biden did?

NATASHA LINDSTAEDT, PROFESSOR OF GOVERNMENT, UNIVERSITY OF ESSEX: He did OK. I don't think it's going to be enough to undo the damage that was done on Thursday night. And now we're over a week from that debate.

And that's all we've been talking about is that debate and how he did. And there's been growing concern from democratic donors and more rumors of people saying that they want to pressure Biden to step out.

Of course, he was very resolute and defiant in the interview but I don't know if he did enough to allay concerns about his age.

And since that debate, we've had some polls that have come out that haven't been particularly good for Biden. A "New York Times" poll and a "Wall Street Journal" poll. And they both had Trump ahead of Biden by six points. And among registered voters in the New York Times poll, Trump was ahead by eight points.

But another startling statistic was in that Wall Street Journal poll, 80 percent of those surveyed felt that Biden was too old.


LINDSTAEDT: So Biden has just a huge mountain to overcome here.

BRUNHUBER: Well, exactly. On that 80 percent poll, you know, aside from what we saw in the debate with our own eyes, I mean, there have been more leaks about his decline in cognitive performance.

In that interview, Biden basically said he wouldn't take a cognitive test and release it. I mean, do you think he should?

Would that perhaps allay some of those concerns that he might be too old for the next four years?

LINDSTAEDT: I think that would be helpful. I can see why he doesn't want to subject himself to these types of things but he's really fighting to prove that he's mentally and physically fit.


And there are only so many more opportunities that he can do that. He has that opportunity. He's obviously going to be on the campaign trail and there'll be another debate in September.

But the whole situation has gotten very dire and very urgent, meaning whatever the Democrats are going to do, they got to figure this out in the next two weeks, not months.


LINDSTAEDT: And there just isn't unity. They are completely fragmented. Meanwhile, the other side, Trump, has complete support and the support has remained around 46 percent. It hasn't wavered, no matter if he is a convicted felon, no matter what he does. And he's been legitimized recently by the Supreme Court rule.

BRUNHUBER: On the support for Biden, I mean, we are seeing that fracture every day. We're seeing, you know, past the torch signs now. So there's more pressure from the outside than from within the party. We're learning of more efforts to gather support behind an effort to ask Biden to leave the race.

I mean, do you get the sense that the mutiny is growing?

LINDSTAEDT: It definitely is growing. You're hearing, as you already mentioned, that donors might withhold money, millions of dollars of money.

And they wouldn't give it to Biden if he stayed in the race and instead would give it to other Democratic candidates, that there is going to be just amount of pressure on him to step down and to try to do so with dignity.

But I also think that the Democrats have to find another candidate before they tell him that he's got to go. Because actually, when you look at the polling, when you look at other candidates going head to head against Trump -- and I should mention that we don't have great polling here.

But what we find is that Biden actually does better than some of the other candidates versus Trump, with the exception of Kamala Harris.

But all of them would lose to Trump in a head to head battle. So I mean, the Democrats have so much work to do here, not just trying to nudge him to step down, if that's what they want to do but also to find a suitable alternative in the meantime.

BRUNHUBER: I mean, it's all a dream scenario for Donald Trump and he continues to basically stay off the front pages. I mean, that seems to be the right strategy here. Just watch the Democrats implode.

LINDSTAEDT: Right. And that's perfect for him because then he doesn't have the attention on him and all of his liabilities. Of course, you know, he, you saw him golfing and he was kind of enjoying himself.

And his team doesn't even want to release who his vice president is going to because they know that's going to take the story off of Biden.

All the headlines have been about Biden and that typically hasn't been the way the campaign cycle has been.

It's been mostly on Trump and his criminal trials and various legal issues but this is a perfect situation for Trump. He can just go on the campaign trial. He can continue to repeat some of the gaps of Biden. And all the attention is on Biden's age. And that's exactly what the Democrats don't want.

BRUNHUBER: yes, we'll have to leave it there. But I always appreciate your analysis. Natasha Lindstaedt, thank you so much for joining us.

LINDSTAEDT: Thanks for having me.


BRUNHUBER: Building on what we just spoke about there, as the debates about Biden's future plays out, his Republican opponent, Donald Trump, is doing something he rarely does: keeping quiet.

CNN's Steve Contorno has more.


STEVE CONTORNO, CNN REPORTER: Donald Trump spent Friday lying low at his Bedminster resort in New Jersey, continuing a remarkably quiet week for the former president, at least by his standards.

His campaign has been content to allow the spotlight to remain on President Joe Biden's debate performance and the Democratic hand wringing over what to do about their presidential nominee.

At the same time, they are preparing potential contingencies in the extraordinary event that the president of the United States decides ultimately not to run for President after all.

They have been poring over briefing books, looking at some of the potential Democratic contenders who may emerge as a replacement for Joe Biden, including Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, Arizona Senator Mark Kelly, Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro and California Governor Gavin Newsom. At the same time, we're seeing a bit of a strategy change from the Trump campaign and his allies when it comes to Vice President Kamala Harris.

Both the Trump campaign and an aligned Super PAC, called MAGA Inc., have attacked Harris in recent days. They are suggesting that she would carry as much of the burden from the past 4 years as Joe Biden would and they would attack her equally on crime, inflation and immigration.

We've also heard an interesting line of attack from a Trump advisor who said that they would probably try to knock Harris down by suggesting that she was hiding information from the public about Joe Biden's mental acuity and his physical decline -- Steve Contorno, St. Petersburg, Florida, CNN.


BRUNHUBER: The U.K. has a new prime minister after Labour's landslide election victory. More on that after the break, along with the challenges Keir Starmer faces as he takes the reins of power.

Plus the only moderate in Iran's presidential race comes out on top.


We'll hear some of his first appeals to voters after the results were announced. Stay with us.




BRUNHUBER: Iran's president-elect is calling for unity and support following his victory announced a few hours ago. Masoud Pezeshkian is a reformer who faced ultraconservative Saeed Jalili.

Pezeshkian says, the people's trust and support is needed to navigate the difficult road ahead. Analysts say he's unlikely to bring major changes because most key decisions are made by Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

But he could push for more dialogue with the West and possibly introduce some social changes at home.


KEIR STARMER, U.K. PRIME MINISTER: With respect and humility, I invite you all to join this government of service in the mission of national renewal. Our work is urgent. And we begin it today. Thank you very much.


BRUNHUBER: The U.K.'s prime minister had a hectic day Friday after the Labour Party's landslide victory in British elections.


Keir Starmer fielded calls from world leaders on Friday, including President Joe Biden. The men spoke by phone and will meet next week during the NATO summit in Washington, D.C.

Starmer also named his new cabinet, including the U.K.'s first female finance secretary. Labour won its biggest parliamentary majority in decades on Thursday, while many key conservative leaders lost their seats.

France is preparing to vote in its second and final round of parliamentary elections on Sunday. The far-right National Rally came out on top in the first round, taking it closer to the gates of power than ever before.

But left-wing and centrist parties have previously united to block them from taking office. CNN's Saskya Vandoorne has more on what's at stake.



SASKYA VANDOORNE, CNN PRODUCER (voice-over): A dramatic move no one saw coming.

MACRON: (Speaking French).

VANDOORNE (voice-over): Following his party's stinging defeat in the European parliamentary elections last month, French president Emmanuel Macron said he had no choice but to call snap elections.

The stakes for the second round on Sunday could not be higher.

The far right anti-immigration National Rally party and its allies came out on top in the first round. Eurosceptic and Russia-friendly, its doyenne, Marine Le Pen, claims to have detoxified the party whose early ranks included members of an SS military unit commanded by the Nazis.

The left-wing new Popular Front bloc came second, leaving President Macron's centrist alliance trailing in third place. National Rally leader and aspiring prime minister Jordan Bardella has leaned heavily on identity politics.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Think that the very (INAUDIBLE) are very tired of Macron power during seven years of (INAUDIBLE), of increasing immigration, increasing taxes.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): The 28-year-old has vowed to reduce immigration and free medical assistance for undocumented people and strip citizenship rights from those born to foreign parents on French soil.

VANDOORNE: After the first round, an unprecedented number of candidates qualified to move forward.

Worried this would split the vote, two-thirds of the contestants from Macron's champ and the left-wing alliance have dropped out. Their goal: to block the National Rally from getting the 289 seats they need to form an absolute majority.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): Fearful of the paralysis that would come from a hung parliament, Bardella said he would refuse to govern unless he commands such a majority.

KEVIN ARCENEAUX, POLITICAL ANALYST, SCIENCES PO: One of the things or one of the big concerns that I think we should all have is that, looming over all of this, is a presidential election in 2027. And one possibility is that, in anticipation of those elections, all of the parties in the parliament will see reasons to block each other, elect -- that they will get electoral advantage for doing so.

VANDOORNE (voice-over): Le Pen, meanwhile, has made a historic advance though it's yet unclear if that road will lead her all the way to the presidency in 2027 -- Saskya Vandoorne, CNN, Paris.



BRUNHUBER: And to discuss the political shifts happening in Europe we're joined by Matthew Karnitschnig. He's the chief Europe correspondent for Politico and joins us from Berlin.

Thank you so much for being here with us. So just, I want to look at the U.K. to start off with here.

Are you surprised by the strong showing by Nigel Farage?

And what do you think it says about the political undercurrents in the U.K. right now?

MATTHEW KARNITSCHNIG, CHIEF EUROPE CORRESPONDENT, POLITICO: Actually was surprised by how strong he was, compared to the last election in 2019, where his party got about 2 percent of the total vote. Now they're up to over 40 percent. So that's a massive, massive jump.

It is in line with what we've seen elsewhere in Europe, however, so it shouldn't be that surprising but I think the magnitude of his success there is really, is really eye-catching.

BRUNHUBER: Yes. And for viewers, not familiar, he is, of course, a more of a far right political operator who was responsible for Brexit. So you talked about the wider context here in Europe.

If we, if we widen that lens, the right-wing surge that we're seeing in France, in the European Parliament elections and other countries in Europe like Germany and Austria, I mean, what's, what's driving the surge to the Right? KARNITSCHNIG: I think it's pretty clear that the common thread between all of these far-right successes that we've seen, as you said, from France to Germany, Austria, Italy and so on, is migration because all of these countries have seen a significant influx in migrants over the past decade, let's say.


Last year, I believe there were record number of asylum applications in France, pushing 150,000. There were more than double that rate in Germany.

And this is the issue, the main issue that these far-right parties have seized on, to attack the political establishment, to say they're letting in all of these migrants. These migrants are taking our jobs or they are destroying our cultural identity, et cetera.

And this has been very fertile ground for these far right parties. And to be honest, were seeing something similar in the U.S. with Trump -- or have seen that over the past year. So this is an issue that really resonates around the Western world.

BRUNHUBER: Yes, I'm wondering why it resonates so much.

Is it fair to say that these right-wing parties are where a growing number of voters are on these issues?

KARNITSCHNIG: I think the other important factor to remember here is that Europe is seeing a period of economic stagnation, as we've heard in some of the previous reports. The U.K. economy is not doing particularly well at the moment. Germany has been stagnating for five or six years; France is not doing very well. You're seeing high inflation.

So when you have an economic sort of soft patch, like Europe is seeing right now, this is really the opportunity for these far right parties to come in and blame foreigners for tanking the economy effectively; coming in, sapping public resources.

There's not enough housing in a lot of places. So this is a familiar pattern in a lot of countries that we've seen over past decades.

BRUNHUBER: So how are we seeing the more centrist parties then respond to this push from the Right?

KARNITSCHNIG: Well, in fact, they themselves are being pushed to the Right, especially on this question of migration.

If you look at Germany, for example, where I am now, even the center left party, the Social Democrats, who are leading the coalition here, have been making much stronger noises recently about getting tough on asylum, about deporting more people and so forth.

And this is the kind of language that we would not have heard as recently as one or two years ago. But they can see the polls. They can see how concerned voters are about this issue. And they're responding to it.

And that's also true of center-right parties across the continent. The problem is, is that in the past, this kind of sort of, I'm going to follow that far-right lead hasn't really worked because voters typically go to the party that has been pushing for these policies from the beginning rather than to the ones that are just copying them.

BRUNHUBER: Interesting. Nothing in politics is permanent.

So do you think that this is political weather or climate?

Is it a short-lived phenomenon or part of a longer-term trend?

KARNITSCHNIG: I think unfortunately that it is climate. If you look over the past decade, once the Syrian civil war happened and you started seeing a strong surge of migrants heading toward Europe, this is a trend that has been pretty much uninterrupted since then.

It is the main political challenge, I think, for the European Union at the moment, to try and bring this issue under control. Part of the problem in Europe is that many countries, especially in Eastern Europe, aren't really willing to take in refugees.

So it has a lopsided effect in that most of the refugees end up in a handful of countries. And there it is really shifting the political systems to the far right in some cases. So this is a problem that's going to be around for a long time to come.

BRUNHUBER: Interesting to see what happens if Donald Trump is reelected here in the U.S. and what repercussions that will have across Europe. Matthew Karnitschnig, thank you so much for speaking with us. Really appreciate it.



BRUNHUBER: All right. After the break, a big moment for Biden as he sits for his first television interview following his disastrous debate performance. But this isn't the first make or break interview in U.S. history. We'll have more on that next. Please stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Welcome back to all you watching us here in the United States and Canada, I'm Kim Brunhuber. This is CNN NEWSROOM.

An embattled Joe Biden is vowing to stay in the presidential race as he dismisses concerns from some members of his own party. In his first televised interview since his jarring debate performance,

the U.S. President tells ABC News that he is the most qualified person to defeat Donald Trump. And he says he'll drop out of the race only if, quote, "the Lord Almighty" tells him to.


STEPHANOPOULOS: I agree that the Lord Almighty is not going to come down.

But if, if you are told reliably from your allies, from your friends and supporters in the Democratic Party in the House and the Senate that they are concerned, you're going to lose the House and the Senate if you stay in, what will you do?

BIDEN: I'm not going to answer that question. It's not going to happen.


BRUNHUBER: (INAUDIBLE) that interview is seen as a key moment for Biden's political survival as he battles questions over his age and stamina. CNN political commentator Van Jones felt the interview will help the president's cause or, as he puts it, "stop the bleeding." Here he is.


VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: There's chunks for the iceberg falling off now because people are afraid that not only is he going to lose, he may pull the whole party down and Trump may get a trifecta. That's what's going on.

But I tell you what, Biden was savvy in this interview. He used the opportunity to point out stuff in his record that are positive, that people are not talking about. He talked about the 200,000 jobs that were created. So he's actually now doing what people said.

People said, put yourself in the catbird seat or in the hot seat and answer some questions. He did; he didn't do anything to hurt himself. He actually underscored some stuff that people haven't been talking about.

So his back's against the wall; he doesn't throw his staff or overboard, he doesn't hurt himself today and he started to remind people about what he's achieved. I think on the whole, this is going to help him. It's not going to reverse the damage but it should begin to stop some of the bleeding.


BRUNHUBER: CNN's Brian Todd looks at how other candidates have handled make or break moments like this.



BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): January 1992: there was no doubt how high the stakes were when Bill and Hillary Clinton sat down with CBS' "60 Minutes" for an interview that aired right after the Super Bowl.

Clinton's presidential candidacy was in peril after a lounge singer named Jennifer Flowers told a tabloid about a longstanding affair she said she'd had with him. Clinton denied the affair, though he acknowledged causing pain in his marriage. But it was what Hillary Clinton said that jarred American voters.

HILLARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE: You know, I'm not sitting here as some little woman standing by my man like Tammy Wynette.

I'm sitting here because I love him and I respect him and I honor what he's been through and what we've been through together. And, you know, if that's not enough for people, then heck, don't vote for him.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Without a doubt, saved Bill Clinton's presidential campaign in that year. They didn't put to rest the question of whether or not Bill Clinton had one or multiple affairs. They just said to the American people, it doesn't matter to us and it shouldn't matter to you.

TODD: Just how much of a gamble are these make-or-break interviews like Joe Biden's with ABC?

NAFTALI: It depends on the depth of the scandal. Joe Biden faces a crisis of confidence about his ability to lead the country over the next four years.

TODD: Some of the most momentous interviews were ones that were not planned to deal with a crisis but which still drastically changed perceptions of a politician.

When she was John McCain's Republican running mate in 2008, Sarah Palin did an interview with ABC's "Nightline" in her home state of Alaska and was asked what insight into Russia did the proximity of her state give her.

SARAH PALIN, REPUBLICAN VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: They're our next door neighbors and you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska, from an island in Alaska.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What insight does that give you into what they're doing in Georgia?


Well, I'm giving you that perspective of how small our world is.

TODD: Palin was skewered for it, most acutely by Tina Fey in a "Saturday Night Live" skit.

AMY POEHLER, COMEDIAN, "HILLARY CLINTON": I believe that diplomacy should be the cornerstone of any foreign policy.

TINA FEY, COMEDIAN, "SARAH PALIN": And I can see Russia from my house.

TODD: Unlike Palin, George W. Bush, in 1999, was not significantly damaged for coming across as weak on foreign policy when a reporter quizzed him on world leaders.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Can you name the president of Chechnya?


Can you?

TODD: Jimmy Carter, a devout Southern Baptist, shocked Americans in a 1976 interview with "Playboy" magazine when he said, quote, "I've looked on a lot of women with lust. I've committed adultery in my heart many times."

NAFTALI: His willingness to be honest, coldly, almost clinically honest, it would serve him.

Well, and also hurt him as a president.

TODD: Historian Tim Naftali says, sometimes these interviews have been given to deal with a crisis that's overblown, one which the media and others might exaggerate but that American voters don't make a big deal out of. He says the Biden interview is not one of those moments. This crisis, he says, is genuine -- Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


BRUNHUBER: All right, still ahead, negotiations get underway on the specific details of the Gaza ceasefire and hostage deal. Israeli officials give an update on the state of talks.

Plus China says two former defense ministers are under investigation months after they vanished from the public eye. We'll have that story and more still ahead, please stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Israel says gaps still remain in a proposed ceasefire and hostage deal with Hamas. An Israeli delegation is set to return to Doha next week after meeting with mediators in Qatar on Friday. CNN's Jeremy Diamond has the latest from Jerusalem.


JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT: Mossad Director David Barnea flying to Doha, Qatar, and back on Friday to begin this next phase of negotiations with Hamas via those Egyptian and Qatari mediators for a potential ceasefire and hostage release deal.

He flew there at a critical time as it appears that Israel and Hamas now have a basic understanding around a framework for that potential deal.

For months now they have been negotiating, trying to reach that framework and a senior administration official in Washington now saying that it appears that there is indeed a framework agreement in place.

And so now they're entering this phase of detailed negotiations, Barnea traveling to Doha, Qatar, on Friday but an Israeli negotiating team will head back next week to continue those negotiations, a positive sign that there is momentum behind this.

Now these detailed negotiations are going to focus on the implementation of the ceasefire agreement, the sequencing of the release of the hostages and the Palestinian prisoners, as.

Well, as the identities of those Palestinian prisoners. These are all very thorny issues.

And so it should be stated that, even as it appears that Israel and Hamas are further along now in these negotiations than they have been since the last truce collapsed at the beginning of last December, it should be noted that the outcome of these detailed negotiations, which are expected to take several weeks, is far from assured.

The devil will certainly be in the details as Israel and Hamas appear to be trying to now close out a deal, as the White House has said -- Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Jerusalem.


BRUNHUBER: The top E.U. diplomat says Hungary's prime minister didn't speak for the union when he held talks at the Kremlin on Friday. Viktor Orban met Russian president Vladimir Putin, saying they discussed ways to end the war in Ukraine.

Orban is Putin's closest ally in the E.U. He made the trip just days after his country assumed the rotating presidency of the E.U. Council. The U.S., Ukraine and other European leaders also slammed the visit.

The wife of a jailed Russian opposition figure claims her husband was transferred to a prison hospital. Vladimir Kara-Murza was sentenced to 25 years in prison after publicly condemning Russia's war in Ukraine.

In a series of social media posts on Friday, Kara-Murza's wife says her husband was moved from a maximum security penal colony to a prison hospital in a different district. She says his lawyers haven't been allowed to see him, adding that her husband suffers from a disease caused by two severe poisonings.

Well, after months of international speculation, China has finally confirmed that two of its former defense ministers who vanished from public view last year had been under investigation for corruption. CNN's Will Ripley reports.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): China's People's Liberation Army, under strongman leader Xi Jinping, projects power, pouring billions into rapid-fire military modernization, some say the world's biggest build-up in a century.

The dramatic downfall of two former defense ministers purged from China's Communist Party for alleged corruption.


Along with about a dozen other high-ranking officials has some wondering just how battle-ready the PLA really is.

Li Shangfu and Wei Fenghe also stripped of their rank as senior generals, "seriously polluted the political and industrial atmosphere in the field of military equipment," Chinese state media says, calling their actions "extremely serious."

Both handpicked by Xi himself.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The armed forces the PLA has to be very loyal to the Communist Party.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Loyalty and corruption widespread and the Chinese military says Taiwan's former defense minister Andrew Yang.

ANDREW YANG, FORMER TAIWANESE DEFENSE MINISTER: I will say it's really beauty into the Communist Party system. Therefore, he has to introduce very heavy punishments.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The latest bombshells, exposing the limits of Xi's anti-corruption campaign. Both disgraced defense ministers linked to China's elite rocket force.

PETER LAYTON, ASIA ANALYST: This will not be helping them from a warfighting viewpoint.

RIPLEY (voice-over): Long time Asia analyst Peter Layton said systemic corruption challenges China's ambition to grow into a world-class military power in a matter of years.

LAYTON: He's constantly pushing it to get, to get better and better. As you say, to be able to fight wars and to win wars.

RIPLEY (voice-over): From the South China Sea to Democratic Taiwan, to Cuba where CSIS says China may be expanding spy bases less than 100 miles from the Florida coast.

China calling that pure fantasy, saying the bases never existed. The U.S. and the world watching closely.

RIPLEY: Watching not just China's military moves but also the fallout from this latest scandal. Li and Wei, like most dismissed over the last year, have been tied to the rocket force from military equipment.

And earlier this year, the vice chair of China's central military commission said that they would be cracking down on what he called "fake combat capabilities," leading some analysts to raise the question.

Is China's signaling they may not be ready for war? -- Will Ripley, CNN, Taipei.


BRUNHUBER: A tornado has ripped through a town in China's eastern Shandong province. Officials say it left a trail of destruction, killing five people and injuring at least 88 others. Have a look.

Dramatic video on social media shows how the twister tore roofs off houses and uprooted trees as debris was thrown in the air. More than 2,800 homes were damaged. Authorities immediately started an emergency response and are currently conducting a cleanup operation.

Hurricane and storm surge watches have now been extended eastward along the Texas coast as tropical storm Beryl heads over the southern Gulf of Mexico. It's expected to strengthen back into a hurricane on Sunday, with landfall expected sometime late Sunday or Monday, probably along the south Texas coast.

The government of Texas has issued a severe weather disaster declaration for 40 counties ahead of the storm's arrival.

And the Western United States is suffering from the harsh effects of extreme heat and temperatures are still rising, as dozens of wildfires are burning. More on that when we come back. Stay with us.





BRUNHUBER: Have a look at this dramatic footage from North Dakota. Several train cars carrying hazardous material are on fire and that's after 25 to 30 of the cars derailed early Friday morning.

Authorities think the hazardous materials can be contained around the tracks but they're monitoring air quality close to the incident. The cause of the derailment is still under investigation.

A sigh of relief after a dam on the Little Wolf River in Manawa, Wisconsin, came under threat from heavy rains on Friday, with floodwaters spilling over and rushing around the dam.

The city asked residents downriver to evacuate. Hours later, the police chief said the dam appears to be intact. Residents can return to their homes. Now there was flooding throughout the city, with vehicles awash and roads, motor stranded and a number of roads closed.

Manawa is a town of about 1,400 located 50 miles west of Green Bay.

The night sky just outside Yosemite National Park was aglow Thursday night as the French fire took hold in Mariposa County, California, triggering evacuation orders for more than 1,000 residents. The wildfire has grown to more than 900 acres and is at 20 percent containment.

Three firefighters have been injured. At least four structures have been destroyed. The state has secured federal assistance to help fight the fire, Governor Newsom's office announced on Friday. And soaring temperatures in the Western United States are causing

discomfort, danger and even death. Plus they're increasing the threat and ferocity of the dozens of wildfires burning in the West. CNN's Natasha Chen reports from Los Angeles.


NATASHA CHEN, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The West Coast is racing toward dangerous record breaking heat this weekend.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's hot and we have to stay cool.

CHEN (voice-over): It's about 100 degrees at this pool in northern Los Angeles County where people are waiting in line to cool off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We got here like at 10:50 and the lines are already really long and so that way to go.

CHEN (voice-over): Government agencies mark this spot as a major heat risk area in red on this map but several counties slightly more inland are in extreme heat risk, purple, meaning likely significant increases in ER visits and power outages. The homeless are among the most vulnerable to heat related injury.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I've got water here and I'm freezing the other pops. We're literally trying to keep people alive.

CHEN (voice-over): A 69-year-old man living on the streets has died due to extreme heat in San Jose, California.

MAYOR MATT MAHAN (D-CA), SAN JOSE: I want everybody in our community to be safe. And not all deaths are preventable. This one was.

CHEN (voice-over): In Arizona, a 10-year-old boy died from a heat related emergency while on a hike. The heat is also stoking dangerous wildfires.

Near Yosemite National Park, the French fire erupted on July 4th, prompting mandatory evacuations for more than 1,000 residents. Evacuations are also underway in Central Washington State where fire officials say fireworks sparked a Friday morning blaze.


JANELLE KINSKI, BUSINESS OWNER: We were extremely anxious that night because we could see the fire out here coming over the ridge.

CHEN (voice-over): The Thompson fire north of Sacramento is now almost half contained.

ASST. CHIEF TIM RICHER, CAL FIRE: Down here in Branch 15, every resident outside of the fire perimeter has been repopulated.

CHEN (voice-over): But the speed of flames initially rushing through was terrifying.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We seen the fire coming from the west. And it was coming fast.

NANCY CHRISTANSEN, THOMPSON FIRE EVACUEE: It's the most scariest thing in the world. But being right here, this community has come together and it's helped everybody out here unbelievably.

CHEN: It's about 100 degrees at this pool in the north part of Los Angeles right now, which is why you're seeing so many people trying to cool off. And we're expecting more than 1,000 people at this aquatic center today.

The temperature can swing upward, though. And just a short distance, 30 minutes north of here, we're already seeing temperatures of 114. Going eastward in the state to Death Valley, we're seeing temperatures that could reach 125 by Sunday or Monday.

So authorities are concerned but it's not just the high temperatures but also the duration of this heat wave going into next week, which could create more dangerous situations -- Natasha Chen, CNN, Los Angeles.


BRUNHUBER: Well, finally, the Earth's core has slowed down so much that it's actually moving backwards. Now deep inside the Earth is a solid metal ball rotating independently of the rest of our spinning planet.

Scientists say the latest evidence shows the rotation of that inner core has slowed down as part of a pattern for decades. The findings also prove that changes in rotation speed follow a 70-year cycle. Now exactly how this slowdown might affect our world is still unclear.

All right, thanks so much for joining me here on CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Kim Brunhuber. NEWSROOM with Eleni Giokos is next.