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Biden Staying In The Race; Biden Pushes Back On Concerns For His Health; Reformer Masoud Pezeshkian Wins Iran's Presidential Runoff, Calls For Unity; France Set For High-Stakes Parliamentary Vote On Sunday; Dems Fret Over Presidential Candidacy; Israel Says Gaps Remain After Ceasefire Talks In Doha; Hungarian Prime Minister Facing Blowback After Talks With Putin; Larry The Cat Still On The Prowl At 10 Downing; Crimean Painter Dives Deep For His Art. Aired 4-5a ET

Aired July 06, 2024 - 04:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to all of our viewers watching from around the world. I'm Eleni Giokos.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, Joe Biden remaining defiant in his first televised interview following a disastrous debate, performance. But were hearing new calls from within the Democratic Party for him to end his candidacy.

We'll get the latest on tropical storm Beryl as it takes aim at Texas, bringing powerful wind and rain to the Lone Star State.

And the recent firing of two high ranking Chinese officials has many wondering how ready its military is for battle.


GIOKOS: After a momentous one on one interviews, some Democrats are still calling on U.S. President Joe Biden to drop out of the 2024 race or rethink his candidacy. But Mr. Biden is vowing to fight on.

He sat for an exclusive interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos. And it came as the president faces sharp criticism of his performance in last weeks debate with Donald Trump. And he says, he's talked to some people who are apparently considering asking him to step aside.


JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If the Lord Almighty came down and said, "Joe, get out of the race," I'd get out of the race. The Lord Almighty's not coming down. I mean, these hypotheticals, George, if, I mean, if all --

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: It's not that hypothetical anymore. I grant that the -- they have not requested a meeting but it's been reported -- BIDEN: I met with them. I met with a lot of these people. I talk with them regularly. I had an hour conversation with Hakeem. I had more time than that with Jim Clyburn. I spent time with -- many hours off and on in the last little bit with Chuck Schumer. It's not like -- I had all the governors -- all the governors.


GIOKOS: ABC says the 22 minute long taped interview was broadcast in full and unedited. It included questions about Biden's mental fitness for the job.


STEPHANOPOULOS: But what has all that work over the last 3.5 years cost you physically, mentally, emotionally?

BIDEN: Well, I just think it cost me a really bad night, bad run.


GIOKOS: U.S. senator Mark Warner is said to be leading an effort to get other 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 tomorrow. 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.


GIOKOS: But the president does have supporters. Pennsylvania senator John Fetterman says, Biden is the right man to take on Donald Trump as the only person to have beaten Trump in an election.


Fetterman told CNN that, despite the polls, he expects the 2024 race between them to be tight.


SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): I've been having this same conversation for eight years. In 2016 in Western Pennsylvania, it was very clear that Trump could win and he actually beat Clinton, unfortunately, though a lot of these experts say that Clinton can't be beaten.

and then I knew it was going to be very close in 2020 and the polls actually show Biden was up by several points and I knew that wasn't going to be accurate.

And right now in 2024, it's that same dynamic and it's going to be very close.



GIOKOS: Thomas Gift is the director of the Centre on U.S. Politics at University College London. And he joins me now from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Sir, very good morning to you. Thanks for getting up early for this conversation, an important one to have.

What did you make of the interview with ABC last night?

And do believe it was enough to undo the damage after the debate?

THOMAS GIFT, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE LONDON: Well, thanks so much for having me.

It's great to be with you. I think that there was nothing disqualifying about the interview with George Stephanopoulos. But the concerns are so great right now on Capitol Hill among donors, et cetera, et cetera, it's going to take more, I think, than one short performance to calm the nerves of Democrats.

If you want it to be critical, you say that Biden still looked frail, that he displayed a distinct lack of awareness of the urgency of this situation.

Biden's down to Trump nationally and he's down to Trump in virtually every swing state; 72 percent of Americans, 72 percent say that Biden isn't (INAUDIBLE) or mentally equipped to be president.

I think the problem for Biden is that Americans can't unsee what they saw at last weeks debate. Every single element now of his campaign is going be scrutinized through the lens of what it means about the presidents acuity.

So one rambling sentence, one incoherent phrase, one lapse of memory is going to be exaggerated.

GIOKOS: Yes, he's definitely under the spotlight.

Look, we've seen a chorus of Democrats that are saying that he should step aside. There are people showing support as well.

But would ultimately Democrats not support a sitting president?

Their very candidate.

And has this ever happened before?

GIFT: Well, certainly this has really never happened before and it's unprecedented.

I think a lot has to do with how Biden performs going forward. So far, Biden has been digging in his heels and he has to do that unless he's out of the race.

You know, if he intends to see this through, then he can't be seen as equivocating. But where I do think Biden has erred very severely is in his post-debate spin. Messaging really matters and I think he and his staff have turned in sort of one excuse after another that hasn't really reassured Americans as well as lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

Saying that he had a cold, that he had jet-lag 11 days after he returned to D.C. But he's OK between the hours of 10:00 am to 4:00 pm and just needs to get more sleep. This is not serious political messaging.

And I usually try not to hyperbolize these things but I really think that Biden's press office displayed a distinct kind of tone deafness to the critiques that are out there.

GIOKOS: Yes. We know that President Biden said that he's not going anywhere.

He's in this for the long term. We don't know what's happening behind closed doors. But there's a lot of concerns that are emerging.

What happens with the funders if they start pulling away funding and backing of President Biden?

Is that what will break the camels back?

GIFT: Yes, it's a really great question because a modern presidential candidate can't run nationally without the money.

And "The New York Times" ran a piece saying that many of these donors are looking like they're having cold feet at this point. At the same time, I think if Biden can just get through the next week or two, gain a little bit of momentum, he might be able to get some of that confidence back.

Now really if you're a Democratic donor, there's only one vehicle through which to get to the White House right now. That's Biden's one game in town. So I'm not entirely convinced that all the money is just going to flow out.

And that's what's going to stop Biden's campaign. I think he's going to make the determination based on the polls, based on what palmakers (ph) are telling him and particularly what those in his inner circle are advising.

GIOKOS: Do you think that he should do a cognitive test and be transparent about it?

He says he doesn't want to take one. But we are seeing a lot of people saying, well, this is one way to finally put fears to rest.

GIFT: I mean, some people say that this is kind of unnecessary. I think if Biden -- the fact that Biden doesn't want to take it I think suggests something. And, you know, transparency is really important. I really don't know if it's a good decision or not.

I mean, if he could pass it with flying colors then I would say why not. But I think the concern is maybe he couldn't and then that absolutely takes him out of the running.


So yes. A lot depends on what he thinks about that prospect.

GIOKOS: All right. Thomas Gift, great to have you on. Thank you so much for your insights.


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


GIOKOS: The only moderate in Iran's presidential race pulls off a victory. Still ahead you'll hear some of his first appeals to voters after the results were announced.

And political uncertainty in France ahead of a high-stakes parliamentary election on Sunday, when we come back.





GIOKOS: Iran's president-elect is calling for unity and support following his victory, announced a few hours ago. Masoud Pezeshkian is a reformist lawmaker who faced ultraconservative Saeed Jalili in a presidential runoff.

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


GIOKOS: For more now, we're joined by Vali Nasr, a professor at the School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University and he's speaking to us from Paris.

So great to see you today. Thank you so much for taking the time. This is really quite an important day, for not only Masoud Pezeshkian but also for everyone that voted for him. He's viewed as a reformist, a moderate.

What policies made him popular?

DR. VALI NASR, JOHNS HOPKINS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL STUDIES: I mean, first of all, his whole approach, his tone, the fact that he stood for a certain degree of change in Iran and also preventing the conservatives from consolidating further power, putting more strictures on the population and closing Iran completely to the world.

Those who voted for him did in the end, in -- under the banner of no to sanctions, no to war and no to Talibanism. And in fact, that really captures why people voted for him.

GIOKOS: Yes, it's very direct and important policy that you mentioned. They will talk about foreign policy in just a moment. But I want to talk about him being quite outspoken during the protests in Iran and specifically after Mahsa Amini's death.

Given the very hard stance of Iran's former government toward women, will he have any power to effect any social change?

Does he want to effect any social change?

NASR: Yes, he will, because the laws are on the books. And the laws are not easy to change. But it's up to the Iranian president as the person and his cabinet who oversee day-to-day implementation of laws.

How do they approach those laws?

It was Raisi's decision to send a morality police into the streets to forcibly enforce hijab in a very strict hijab on women, which caused the Mahsa Amini protests. His predecessor, President Rouhani, didn't do that. Pezeshkian can actually not enforce laws as they're on the books.

He said that he's not going to pressure women on hijab and he is also not going to do something else which is very controversial in Iran, which is to cut off Iran from the internet, from the global internet, which Jalili, his opponent, had promised he would do.

That he would cut off Iran from internet completely. And so on these tactical issues, it does matter to the Iranians.

It's not so much enthusiasm for radical change that led people to vote for Jalili but to prevent radical change in the opposite direction under, -- sorry -- to vote for Pezeshkian rather than the radical change that Jalili was promising to impose on the Iranians.


GIOKOS: Let's talk about foreign policy, whether he can influence foreign policy, the U.S. relations, relations with Israel as well, and as you say, he was talking about no war, no sanctions. That's what the people of Iran want.

But does he have the ultimate power to do that, given that he still has to look to the supreme leader and his overarching authority?

NASR: He doesn't have the ultimate power to shift Iran's foreign policy completely.

But Iran's presidents can shift -- can have an influence on how foreign policy is conducted. It does matter when you have a president who says Iran's primary goal is to remove sanctions to improve peoples lives on a daily lives.

And if that's the starting approach, it means that he's open to negotiations in seeing what can be achieved with the West. The Iranian relations with the West, the conclusion of a nuclear deal was possible under a moderate President Rouhani. It was not possible under radical Iranians.

And also Western countries will find engaging Pezeshkian much more easy than engaging Jalili. So I think Pezeshkian has some room to actually engage the U.S., engage Europeans in a positive way to see what is possible. So that's not radical change on Iran's foreign policy.

But it is welcome change for many Iranians because, even certain degree of improvement of relations with the West will have an impact on their daily lives. It will deescalate tensions. It might remove fear of war and it might actually give certain

sanctions in exchange for some things that Pezeshkian will push the regime and push the supreme leader to agree to.

GIOKOS: You're so right, Vali Nasr. This is also barred, what's happening domestically on the economic front and the impact of sanctions on Iranians. Thank you so much for your time today.


GIOKOS: New British prime minister Keir Starmer has had a hectic day Friday after Labour's landslide victory in national elections. Mr. Starmer began forming a new government and named his cabinet. It includes the U.K.'s first female Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The new prime minister takes office as Labour enjoys its biggest parliamentary majority in decades. On Friday, he promised a reset for the U.K. after 14 years of conservative rule.

Rishi Sunak resigned as prime minister and says he will step down as leader of the Conservative Party. Now the Tories lost around two- thirds of their MPs and many key leaders lost their seats.

Meanwhile, Nigel Farage is now a member of Parliament after gains by his populist Reform U.K. party. It won five seats in Thursday's vote.

Tensions are running high in France in the meantime, a day ahead of the second round of legislative elections. The government says it will deploy an additional 30,000 police Sunday night when the runoff results are announced.

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.



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.


GIOKOS: Well, British voters weren't the only ones going to the polls this week. France votes for its parliament on Sunday. You can join us for special coverage of all the results. That's 8 pm in Paris, 2 in the afternoon in New York.

Former U.S. president Donald Trump is distancing himself from a controversial conservative platform. Still ahead, why he believes some of its ideas are ridiculous, even though the project is run by some of his former officials.

Plus negotiations get underway on the specific details of a Gaza ceasefire and hostage deal. Israeli officials give an update on the state of talks. Stay with us.



GIOKOS: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and all around the world.

I'm Eleni Giokos and you're watching 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.

The taped, unedited interview is seen as a key moment for Mr. Biden's political survival as he battles questions of his age and stamina. In the exclusive interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, he addressed the idea of his cognitive tests.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Would you be willing to undergo an independent medical evaluation that included neurological and cognitive tests and release the results to the American people?

BIDEN: Look, I have a cognitive test every single day. Every day I have that test.


GIOKOS: All right.

So CNN's chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is a brain specialist. And he has reached a conclusion after watching Biden's debate performance. He says it's time for President Biden to undergo detailed cognitive and neurological testing and share his results. Here's more now from Sanjay.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, obviously it's certainly up to the president and frankly, any patient, whether or not they want to have this sort of testing.

But I should point out that the testing shouldn't be thought of as something that would embarrass or malign but rather maybe provide some answers to what is driving some of the signs and symptoms we've seen with President Biden and maybe even provide an opportunity for some early treatment.

It could provide a baseline, something that can be tracked and followed over time so that you could find early signs of any kind of deficit, maybe even before the person themselves recognized it. Or sometimes it's testing just provides peace of mind. There is

nothing to worry about. I should also point out that, in the United States, there is a cognitive exam that is usually recommended for anyone over the age of 65 as part of their annual wellness checkup.

Anyone over the age of 65 going through about an hour's worth of cognitive testing, physical exam, patient history to try and figure out, are there cognitive deficits that can be addressed early.

What I think has been driving some of the concerns since the debate among my many of my colleagues in medicine was some of the things they saw for a sustained and projected time during the debate: the differences in speech, the halting of speech, the confused, rambling sometimes that occurred.

But also what they saw when President Biden seem to not have any facial expression, I think it's why so many people have said cognitive testing as well as movement disorder testing could be potentially beneficial.

As you've certainly heard by now, the White House said, look, it was a bad night. That's basically what it was. It was a bad night. He was jet-lagged to some extent. He had had not been getting enough sleep and he had a cold.

And those things certainly can cause episodes like we saw. But again, the question is, is this episodic or is this reflective of something that is more significant?

We do know finally that he did have a fairly complete exam back in February. But a cognitive test was not part of that exam. They ruled out things like stroke, like multiple sclerosis and they made note that he did not have Parkinson's disease.

But there are other things that can cause Parkinsonism besides Parkinson's disease. And they didn't really mention that. So I think there are still a lot of unanswered questions but, again, it is up to the president, and any patient, whether or not they want to have this sort of testing. But there are many reasons it could be beneficial.


GIOKOS: Well, in an effort to put the debate behind them, the Biden campaign is looking to schedule the president for more casual, unscripted events.

Here he is, answering questions from the press before getting on Air Force One.

Take a listen.



BIDEN: I'm completely ruling that out. QUESTION: Mr. President, how can you present your case, that democracy is at risk, that you are the best candidate to beat Donald Trump?

BIDEN: Because I've beat him before and I've gotten more done than any president has.

QUESTION: Have you spoken to members of Congress?


BIDEN: No, wait. You've been wrong about everything so far. You were wrong about 2020. You were wrong about 2022. We were going to get wiped out.

Remember, the red wave?

You were wrong about 2023. You said all the tough races, we won them all but two.

So look, we'll see.

QUESTION: Have you spoken to members of Congress?

BIDEN: I have.

QUESTION: How many have you spoken to?

BIDEN: At least 20.

QUESTION: What are they telling you?

What are they telling you, sir?

BIDEN: They're telling me to stay in the race.

REPORTER: What about the people who (INAUDIBLE) gathering together and saying (INAUDIBLE) to step aside, Senator Mark Warner (INAUDIBLE)?

BIDEN: Well, Mark Warner, among senators, is the only one considering that. No one else has called me.




BIDEN: I hope they'll debate me. I wouldn't be surprised --


QUESTION: And if he's in, will you commit to debating him?

BIDEN: I'm committing now, absolutely, whether he's in or not.

QUESTION: Do you value the thoughts of members of your own party when it comes to your decision to stay in the race?

BIDEN: Sure, I do. That's why they've said -- you guys saw the governors. Everyone of them in that room, all those governors said, stay in the race.

QUESTION: Maura Healey?

BIDEN: Maura Healey didn't say anything when I was in the room.


QUESTION: Sir, will you make changes to your campaign staff at all after the debate?

BIDEN: We're adding -- look, we just added another 120 staffers. We have the most extensive staff operation in the States.

QUESTION: And are you pleased with your advisers on how they're seeing you through this moment throughout the campaign?

BIDEN: Any mistake made is my fault.

Thank you.

QUESTION: Are you concerned that you can serve another four years?

BIDEN: I'm positive.

QUESTION: President Biden, you have always talked to young people. You've (INAUDIBLE) talking to young people.

Why not let someone younger take the country forward?

I just have to ask.

Why not let -- every CEO has a succession plan.

BIDEN: Well, by the way, we do have succession plans.

But what do I need a succession plan for now?

And, by the way, you know, I mean -- anyway.

QUESTION: No, no, no. Go ahead.

BIDEN: Thank you.


GIOKOS: Meanwhile, former president Donald Trump is trying to insulate himself from a controversial conservative platform called Project 2025. He posted on social media that he has nothing to do with it and called some of its ideas ridiculous and abysmal.

Among other things, the project is pushing for a ban on pornography while making abortion polls and men's contraceptives harder to obtain. But when it comes to Mr. Biden, Trump is doing something he rarely does: keeping quiet. CNN's Steve Contorno reports.


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.


GIOKOS: Well, still ahead, China reveals new information about two former defense ministers months after they vanished from the public eye. We've got details on that story when we come back.





GIOKOS: Welcome back.

The leader of Hezbollah has met with a Hamas delegation in Lebanon to discuss the war in Gaza. A statement from the Lebanese militant group says they discussed the potential ceasefire as well as a hostage deal on the table with Israel. And they reaffirmed their commitment to achieving their objectives elsewhere in the region.

The Palestine Red Crescent says an Israeli military operation in the West Bank killed seven Palestinians. The IDF says the operation was targeting terrorists it holds responsible for the killing of an Israeli soldier in the city of Jenin last week.

Meanwhile, Israel continues operations in several parts of Gaza, including Shejaiya in the north and Rafah in the south. The IDF says it has killed 100, quote, "terrorists" in Shejaiya as it tries to prevent Hamas from reestablishing itself there.

Now the fresh fighting comes as hundreds of protesters joined a mothers' march in Tel Aviv on Friday to demand the release of hostages held in Gaza.

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.


GIOKOS: Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban is facing political blowback after talks in Moscow. He met Russian president Vladimir Putin on Friday.


Discussing ways to end the war in Ukraine. Mr. Orban is the Kremlin's closest ally in the E.U. His country just took over the rotating presidency of the E.U. Council. European Commission president Ursula van der Leyen slammed the visit, saying appeasement will not stop Putin.

The U.S. ambassador in Hungary said the trip is not about peace but about profits while Kyiv said there can be no peace deals without Ukraine at the negotiating table.

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.


GIOKOS: Well, you've heard of watercolors.

But what about underwater colors?

A painter in Crimea is bringing new depth to his art and he's doing it with scuba gear under the sea. That's when we come back. Stay with CNN.





GIOKOS: The U.S. labor market is staying mostly steady with job gains cooling slightly but overall, employment is stable. The economy added 206,000 jobs in June with unemployment rate up for the first time since November 2021 but only from 4 percent to 4.1 percent.

And with interest rates at a 23-year high, economists say a bit of cooling should help reduce inflation.

There's been a changing of the guard at Number 10 Downing Street in London. But one of its residents is staying put. Larry the cat was seen on Friday, waiting for the new prime minister Keir Starmer to move in.

Larry's more than a pet. The former stray prowls Number 10's grounds as a kind of very cute security guard.

His official title, Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office, Larry is now on his sixth prime minister. So Downing Street must be a pretty good place to catch some lunch.

Petr Dotsenko is a Crimean painter with an unusual technique. He works in oils underwater, in scuba gear. CNN's Michael Holmes found out about the man and his art. Take a look at what he's doing in the depths of the sea.


MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Outline in hand, each stroke depicts what Petr Dotsenko is able to see underwater. Spotting an anchor, he uses oil paints to execute his vision.

Above the water, Dotsenko is ready to show his creation.

PETR DOTSENKO, ARTIST (through translator): Everything went wonderfully. I was painting at the depth of six meters of 75 minutes. I've found a subject, the tanker. Here is how I portrayed it.

HOLMES (voice-over): Inspired by the late Andre Laban, known as the father of underwater art, Dotsenko reveals he is aiming to add his own twist to his canvases.

DOTSENKO (through translator): Andre Laban's paintings are in a very dense blue color and whitened. But they're almost entirely monochrome. This is very cool but I've decided for myself to use the colors that I see underwater and those I see on my palette.

Underwater, we get what we see there in that colors and then, when we bring paintings out of the sea, it becomes very bright. That's what I like.

HOLMES (voice-over): Reuters (ph) filmed the underwater artist in southeastern Crimea, an area annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.


And which Ukraine seeks to reclaim. Every dive is done with caution.

DOTSENKO (through translator): I usually take assistants with me because safe diving is a minimum of two people in a pair. Again, when we film video and photo, it is easier when another person does it. He also prompts how much time I have left and looks at my tank because you can still get distracted involuntarily in the process of creation.

And when you create a picture, you are all in it and in nature, which surrounds you. HOLMES (voice-over): Beginning his work this past February, Dotsenko has captured a variety of underwater life, seascapes and objects. His work now on display at an exhibition in Sebastopol.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm stunned because I see this type of painting for the first time.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): The paintings are bright, beautiful, unusual. I liked the sea in motion, as if you are standing sitting on the shore and you have such a light breeze from these waves, which crash into the shore.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): I really like this exhibition. It's an unusual underwater technique, up to 10 meters depth. This is very cool.

HOLMES (voice-over): Dotsenko's unusual goal, to one day create an underwater museum named after himself -- Michael Holmes, CNN.


GIOKOS: Well, residents and tourists in Italy are taking in the spectacular scenes as the Mt. Stromboli volcano spews this large ash cloud into the sky. The eruption is raising concerns local civil protection has hyped warnings from orange to the highest level read. The volcano is an island north of Sicily, whose Etna volcano is also erupting.

Thermal imaging showing Stromboli's powerful flow of lava, ash and gas pouring into the sea. The ash for Sicily to close the Katanya airport on Friday as authorities warned the situation could deteriorate.

Well, I'm Eleni Giokos. Thank you so much for your company. I'll be back in just a moment with more CNN NEWSROOM.