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Biden Staying In The Race; Trump Distancing Himself From Controversial "Project 2025"; Reformer Masoud Pezeshkian Wins Iran's Presidential Runoff, Calls For Unity; Israel Says Gaps Remain After Ceasefire Talks In Doha; Sports Highlights. Aired 5-6a ET

Aired July 06, 2024 - 05:00   ET




ELENI GIOKOS, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and all around the world. I'm Eleni Giokos.

Ahead on CNN NEWSROOM, Joe Biden making it clear just what it will take for him to drop out of the U.S. presidential race. Details coming up.

Plus what else came out of his first on-air interview since his disastrous debate performance.

Iran has a new president-elect. We will look at whether a moderate leader could mean new relations with the United States.

Plus a nationwide heat wave is putting millions of Americans under excessive heat warnings. We will bring you the latest forecast along with the toll of wildfires and what they're doing to California.


GIOKOS: More Democrats are calling on U.S. President Joe Biden to drop out of the 2024 race or rethink his candidacy, even after his exclusive interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos on Friday.

Biden's performance at last week's debate with Donald Trump has raised questions about his mental fitness for the job. But in that interview, Mr. Biden said he won't quit.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC HOST: The American people 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?

JOE BIDEN (D), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: 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.

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.


GIOKOS: While Biden is adamant that he's staying in the race, one member of Congress tells CNN that minority leader Hakeem Jeffries has scheduled a meeting with Democratic House leaders 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.


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


SEN. JOHN FETTERMAN (D-PA): He is our president. He's our leader and he's been a great president. And he has a career of 50 years. And I refuse to throw that away because of 90 minutes of a rough debate.



GIOKOS: Well, Fetterman says questions about Biden's mental fitness are part of a thermonuclear meltdown in reaction to the debate.


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: Donald Trump has shared little public reaction to Democratic calls for Biden to step down. In fact, he appears to be letting the Biden story take the spotlight. One person close to the former president said, quote, "Kelse (ph) is our friend."

Meanwhile, Trump is denying any knowledge of the controversial conservative plan called Project 2025 in a social media post.


Trump wrote that he knows nothing about Project 2025.

One part of the plan calls for replacing Korean government officials with Trump loyalists. It was crafted by the Heritage Foundation and is run by several former members of the Trump administration.

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

State officials are urging counties that are along Beryl's path to prepare for what would be the first storm of the 2024 Atlantic season to make a direct hit into the United States.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of people are having fun right now. And that's a good thing. And it's good luck to continue to do that. But we also want them to prepare. We need a prepared community, not a panicked community.


GIOKOS: Well, hurricane watch is in effect for parts of the northeastern coast of Mexico as well. Beryl made landfall on the Yucatan Peninsula Friday, impacting popular tourist destinations, Tulum, Cancun and Cozumel, though the areas did not receive major damage.

More than 110 million people across the United States are under heat alerts today with the Western U.S. under particular threat. Temperatures in parts of California and the Southwest could be 25 degrees Fahrenheit higher than normal for this time of the year. And the effects can be devastating. 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.


GIOKOS: Still ahead, negotiations get underway on the specific details of a Gaza ceasefire and a hostage deal. Israeli officials give an update on the state of talks.

Plus we'll have more on Joe Biden's first TV interview following his disastrous debate performance.

Is he putting his interests ahead of the nation?

That's later in the hour. Stay with CNN.





GIOKOS: Iran's president-elect is making his first appeals to voters following his victory announced just hours ago. Masoud Pezeshkian is a reformist lawmaker who faced ultraconservative Saeed Jalili in the presidential runoff.

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. We will have a live report on the election outcome from our Fred Pleitgen, who was in Tehran for the first round of the election.

Now there is growing pressure on Israel's government to reach a ceasefire deal with Hamas and bring home the hostages held in Gaza.

Former war cabinet minister Benny Gantz says he spoke with the prime minister and he urged him to, quote, "show commitment, determination and sincerity of intentions to reach a deal with Hamas."

And it comes as a former military spokesperson criticized the governments handling of the war in Gaza, saying it caused Israel to lose trust from the international community. 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: Let's go now live to Tel Aviv and Ronen Bergman, staff writer for "The New York Times Magazine" joins us. He is also the author of the book, "Rise and Kill First: The Secret History of Israel's Targeted Assassinations."

Good to see you, Ronen, an important time to have this conversation. As we know, in terms of what we've been hearing from the United States, that's been describing this as a breakthrough in terms of establishing this framework for a deal, the basis for a deal.

Is there a sense that these negotiations are entering a new phase that could result in a proper outcome down the line?

RONEN BERGMAN, STAFF WRITER, "THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE": Well, first of all, as your report that just indicated the cheaper facade came back after resuming the negotiations, with the Qatari officials basically resuming the negotiation.

So this is the start of a new phase after the negotiation got stuck more than a month ago. It's clear that Hamas, with a new amendment to the Israeli proposal that was adopted by President Biden and by the Security Council of the United Nations, have made some progress.

But there is -- is it the details?

And also there is a striking contradiction between the targets of -- both the main targets of both sides, which is sort of a mirror image. Hamas has put the cessation of the Israeli attacks, the end of the war and Israeli evacuation from Gaza, as its first priority.

And the release of the prisoners, Hamas (INAUDIBLE), Palestinian prisoners of Israeli days (ph) that were always the top of Hamas priority are now the second. Israel did the same, doing the same but the other way around, has put the interests or the ability to go back to fight the -- to leave itself --



BERGMAN: -- with the exit to go back to the fighting after the first stage. But it's possible in the second place. And this is not fully --


GIOKOS: -- so as you say, I mean, you've got different priorities that are moving in different directions.

But Benjamin Netanyahu has been very clear that he doesn't want the war to end until Hamas is eliminated. Many have questioned that, whether that's even achievable.

Is Netanyahu open to a permanent ceasefire?

I mean, this is -- this is one of the big questions, I guess, as they head into the negotiating room.

BERGMAN: Well, first of all, Netanyahu has answered that question. But few times but gave different answers. In an interview to Israeli television Channel 14.


He said, I'm willing only to a party winning the first stage and not the second stage. Then taking after pressure from the defense establishment and from the United States, then later on the podium of the Knesset, Israeli parliament, he said that he is committed to the Israeli proposal that was adopted by the Security Council.

So it's confusing and it's complicated. I think that the whole of many people very serious in Israeli defense establishment as well, as the mediating (ph) countries is that, once the first stage -- not the permanent ceasefire; another release of all prisoners, all Israeli hostages.

Once that start, everybody, including Prime Minister Netanyahu, will go into something of the corallis (ph) that would not allow them -- probably point of view of the public from the point of view of future voters from the point of view of the world, would not allow them, even if the choice is written in the (INAUDIBLE) agreement but it would not allow them to go back to fight it.

It will have as a different data. The problem is --


BERGMAN: -- how to stop --

GIOKOS: -- Netanyahu is about political survival -- yes, its implementation for Benjamin Netanyahu, it's about political survival for the hostages. That's nine months in to this.

For the people in Gaza, seeing almost 40,000 people that have been killed, are you -- very quickly -- are you confident that this might actually result into something? (LAUGHTER)

BERGMAN: I -- sometimes my optimism distorts my ability to assess the future, so I would not do anything.

Will not say anything about the future. There is -- I would say this. I think we are in the closest point to a deal since the explosion of the previous delay, the 29 of November, seven months ago. That's really unimaginable that those hostages have been there and the war has been going on since then.

We are at the closest point to a deal since then. But that point is not yet close enough to assess that this is a road that will take both sides to a final deal, the cessation of hostilities, the end of the war, and the -- hopefully the beginning of rebuilding of both countries.

GIOKOS: All right. Ronen Bergman, good to have you on. Thank you so much for joining us.


GIOKOS: And some news just coming in to CNN. The United Nations estimates that an additional 80,000 people in Gaza have been displaced in the past week. This follows an evacuation order issued by the Israel Defense Forces on June 27th. That would put the total number of displaced Palestinians at almost 2 million.

The Palestine Red Crescent says an Israeli military operation in the West Bank killed seven Palestinians Friday. The militant group Islamic Jihad says at least six of its fighters were killed.

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.

After the break, while Biden faces revolt from within his own party, his actual opponent is lying low. More on that coming up in just a moment.





GIOKOS: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and all around the world. I'm Eleni Giokos and this is CNN NEWSROOM. An embattled Joe Biden is vowing to stay in the U.S. presidential race

as he dismisses calls to step aside by some of his members in his own party.


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.


GIOKOS: In his first televised interview since his jarring debate performance with Donald Trump, 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. And in the exclusive interview with ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos, Biden was asked if he was putting self before country.


STEPHANOPOULOS: Just when you look at the reality, though, Mr. President, I mean, you won the popular vote in 2020 but it was still deadly close in the Electoral College --

BIDEN: By 7 million votes.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Yes. But you're behind now in the popular vote.

BIDEN: I don't -- I don't buy that.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Is it worth the risk?

BIDEN: I don't think anybody's more qualified to be president or win this race than me.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the heart of your case against Donald Trump is that he's only out for himself, putting his personal interests ahead of the national interest.

How do you respond to critics who say that, by staying in the race, you're doing the same thing?

BIDEN: Oh, come on.

Well, I don't think those critics know what they're talking about.

STEPHANOPOULOS: They're just wrong?

BIDEN: They're just wrong. Look, Trump is a pathological liar.


GIOKOS: Well, as the debate 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.


GIOKOS: So U.S. markets closed out the week in positive territory with the S&P 500 and the Nasdaq both hitting new record highs.

All three major indices were up at the end of a trading week shortened by the 4th of July holiday. The Nasdaq has surged more than 22 percent this year and the S&P has gained nearly 17 percent. That's an incredible performance.

As analysts say, at least parts of the market surge was sparked by hope that the Federal Reserve could soon cut interest rates. That speculation was driven by new U.S. government data showing marginally slower job growth in June. But even with job gains cooling, overall employment activity remains stable.

CNN's Paula Newton has that information for us.


PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR AND CORRESPONDENT: This really was quite a strong jobs report, especially when you put it in the context of more than 3.5 years of sustained jobs growth but it also didn't come in too hot, which also gave people a lot of relief, which I'll explain in a minute.

But first to the numbers. OK. So 206,000 new jobs created. That's a little bit less than May but still incredibly robust. What's interesting here is that the unemployment rate did increase to 4.1 percent. Now it's still not a high unemployment rate. It has to be said.

But as you can see, it is starting to tack up a bit. And why is this so important, though, it's because Fed chair Jerome Powell, who's in charge of setting those all important interest rates, has said repeatedly that he is watching this jobs report, all this kind of data very carefully.

I want you to listen now to what he said before this jobs number came in to talk about how important this figure would be for him. Listen.


JEROME POWELL, CHAIRMAN, FEDERAL RESERVE: The labor market is, you know, cooling off appropriately so, and we're watching it very carefully, but it doesn't look like that's -- it doesn't look like it's heating up or presenting a big problem for inflation going forward.

Indeed, it looks like it's doing just what you would want it to do, which is to cool off over time, not quickly, not suddenly, not steeply. It's kind of what we've been hoping to see, and have been seeing.


NEWTON: So all of this translates into the fact that likely Chair Powell will have more confidence to perhaps lower interest rates, likely only a quarter percent in September. But that is still incredibly good news for American consumers because it will hopefully bring down mortgage rates, car loans, credit card interest rates.

And still though, at this point in time, it seems that no one is concerned, that although the labor market is weakening, no one seems to be concerned about any kind of a recession, just a progressive slowdown in the economy. Which everyone is welcoming because it means there will also be a

sustained lowering of the inflation rate -- Paula Newton, CNN, New York.


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





GIOKOS: Unity and support: two things Iran's president-elect is calling for after his victory was announced just hours ago. Reformist Masoud Pezeshkian beat ultraconservative Saeed Jalili by almost 3 million votes.

Pezeshkian was the only moderate candidate allowed to run after Iran's guardian council banned dozens of others from even entering the race. The election was held after a helicopter crash that killed previous president Ebrahim Raisi in May.

Russian and Saudi leaders have congratulated Pezeshkian on his victory. For more now, we've got Fred Pleitgen, joining us from Berlin.

Fred, good to see you. So the results are in.

The big question is, what is Pezeshkian going to do from a policy perspective?

The first moves and how much power he'll ultimately have in a country that has a lot of hardliners could, that could potentially block him, especially if he's looking at enacting social changes.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, a lot of hardliners, of course, and also a lot of pretty hard line entities as farewell that could block a lot of his policies should they go down a road that they don't want to go down, you're absolutely right.

Those are definitely decisive questions. But first of all, of course, I think one of the things that is pretty surprising to a lot of people is how decisive the victory for Masoud Pezeshkian has been.

He certainly managed to get a lot more votes than Saeed Jalili, the conservative candidate. One of the things, of course, that we were looking at before the second round of the election took place is that, in the first round, Pezeshkian also managed to get most of the votes.

But if we took the total of the six candidates who were in that race at that point, then more people certainly voted conservative than voted moderate. One of the other interesting things that I we also think that we need to be looking at is the fact that the voter turnout was a lot higher than it was in the first round of the election.

It was around 40 percent. Now it's at around 50 percent, yet it is still quite low for presidential elections in Iran. And yet the moderates managed to get more votes. That's something that's pretty unusual.

Usually, we think that, when the voter turnout is low, that the conservatives tend to get a better result. Nevertheless, Masoud Pezeshkian is now the president-elect. And one of the things, of course, that he wants is better relations with countries in the region and better relations with the West as well.

And he wants all of -- all Iranians to latch onto that. He put out a pretty interesting tweet. I want to read to you some of it.

He said, "Dear people of Iran, the elections are over and this is just the beginning of our support/work. The difficult path ahead of us all will not be paved except with your support, empathy and trust.


"I extend my hand to you and swear my dignity."

So he certainly is thanking his supporters but also trying to get those who did not vote for him on board as well. But you're absolutely right. He is -- the president in Iran does have a considerable amount of power.

But of course, all of that power rests within the system of the Islamic Republic, where, of course, anything that happened there needs to be signed off on by the supreme leader. And, of course, by the strong military entities, like, for instance, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as well.

GIOKOS: Yes, it sounds very bureaucratic.

Fred, give us a sense of the international reaction to this. I think that everyone's watching on, seeing a moderate candidate winning the election. And they -- and they are wondering whether he'll be able to create change on the foreign policy front.

PLEITGEN: You know what?

And I think one of the interesting things about that as well is of course, right now, Iran really has a huge role. If you look at the Middle East but not just yet, for instance, Iranian relations with Russia, with Vladimir Putin, have really peaked over the last couple of months.

Iran is very important to Russia and, of course, also to Vladimir Putin's war efforts in Ukraine as well.

So certainly a lot of countries are looking at this and I think it's quite interesting to see who has congratulated Masoud Pezeshkian already. One of the first ones being Vladimir Putin, who once again said that he hoped to expand relations with Russia. You also had Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia as well.

That of course, also is going to be very interesting to see how relations between those two countries develop. We have seen a bit of a detente recently between Saudi Arabia and Iran. That was something that also happened under the Raisi government.

And certainly something where we expect that that might continue as well, we haven't yet heard much of, is in the way of Western reactions to this, Western leaders possibly congratulating Pezeshkian as well.

But definitely right now with all the turmoil that's going on in the Middle East, with all the turmoil that's going on in Europe as well, with the war going on in Ukraine, it's going to be very interesting to see where the chips fall.

On the foreign policy front --


GIOKOS: Absolutely.

PLEITGEN: -- the president has a lot less power to try and exact any change there. So we're going to have to wait and see how that plays out.

GIOKOS: Yes. It's so important. Just like what kind of relationship the world can have with Iran's new president and how much power he actually has.

Very quickly on him being very vocal around Mahsa Amini's death, something that's very close to what Iran's voters are feeling right now, their ability to have freedoms, especially for women.

Anything that you're hearing on that front, Fred?

PLEITGEN: Well, certainly, first of all, you're absolutely right. He was very vocal on that. He said that the authorities need to take responsibility for all the things that happened there. He in fact himself said that he believed that he was also to blame as someone who is a very -- or was a prominent -- or is a prominent figure in Iran as well.

And that in general he felt that the crackdown that followed, that was way too hard. That's going to be a very, very interesting thing to watch in Iran as well.

In fact, recently we have had the supreme leader, for instance, double down on the very strict hijab laws and saying that they needed to be enforced by everybody in society. But we know that Masoud Pezeshkian takes a very different path in that as well.

That's going to be one of the ones that we're definitely going to watch. And certainly something that does seem to be very important also for at least the moderate voters, at least from what we saw, we did go to one Pezeshkian rally before he was elected. And that was definitely one of the things that was certainly on the minds of the voters.

GIOKOS: All right, Fred Pleitgen, always great to speak to you. Thank you.

We're going to a very short break. We'll be right back after this.





GIOKOS: Canada is now just one win away from the Copa America final after a thrilling penalty shootout. Andy Scholes is going to break it down for us. So joining us to give us a reason as to why this is an improbable run for the Canadians.

What's happening?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORT CORRESPONDENT: Well, Canada, it's making its debut in the tournament and was the lowest ranked team in all of group A with a coach that totally pedaled the job since May.

But they've defied all the odds to reach the semi finals. But a tough moment for the Canadians in the 64th minute of this game.

Solomon Randon (ph) beats the defender to this ball and he catches the goal too far out and scores from just beyond midfield. Pretty incredible. Venezuela mobs Randon (ph) to celebrate. Now the match, it would stay tied at 1. We'd go all the way to penalties and it would be Canada that ends up celebrating as they win the shootout 4-3.

Canada is now going to move on to face Messi and Argentina on Tuesday in the Copa semifinals.

France, meanwhile, making Euro history, reaching the semifinals without scoring a goal in open play. Five games so far in the tournament, all of France's goals have come either on own goals or penalty kicks.

They edged out Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal 5-3 in penalties yesterday. And this could have been Ronaldo's last big international game ever for his country.

Spain and Euro host Germany, meanwhile, played a thriller down one in the 89th minute, Germany's Florian Wurtz finds the equalizer, sending the home crowd into a frenzy.

Then we add some controversy in this 105th minute. This certainly looked like a hand ball on Spain but none was given. Germany couldn't believe it. And just moments before this match is going to go to penalties, Spain's Mikkel Moreno heads this one.

Spain stuns Germany 2-1. They're not going to face France in the semifinals.

Carlos Alcaraz, he was certainly celebrating Spain's win after he was able to rally to beat American Francis Teeoffo (ph). But it wasn't easy. Teeoffo (ph) was just two points away from getting the chance to serve for the win. But Alcaraz mounted an epic rally.

The 21-year-old Spaniard is now on to the fourth round as he tries to win his fourth grand slam.

All right, Angel Reese, meanwhile, having her best game as a pro. She poured in a career high 27 points to go with 10 rebounds as the Sky beat the Storm 88-84.


Last night, Reese extending her record, double-double streak to 12 games now.

All right. In baseball, in Pittsburgh, the Pirates got a franchise record hitting seven home runs Rowdy to Lenz and Brian Reynolds, both homered twice in this game and get. This The team had so many home runs that they tweeted that they ran out of fireworks to shoot off to the home runs.

Pirates beat the Mets in 14-2. And finally this may be the catch of the year. Astros twins, eighth inning. Joey Loperfito (ph), going after this ball, he leaps to make the catch. Watch this, it comes out of his glove but then he makes it catch bare handed, falling to the ground.

Now the umpires thought, no way he caught that. They originally called it no catch but a palmar view, they overturned it, ruled it an out.

Astros, they gave up seven runs in the ninth inning of this game but still ended up winning 13-12. So that bare handed catch, their by Loperfito (ph) turned out to actually be a pretty big moment because they needed all the --


SCHOLES: -- by one.

GIOKOS: I leaned in to -- I'm like, incredible catch. I mean, that's some talent there, Andy. Good to have you with us. Have a great weekend. Thank you.

All right. So we have a lot of things to worry about. Here's one more thing that perhaps is going to create a bit more anxiety. The Earth's core has slowed down so much that it's moving backwards.

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.

And the findings also proved that the changes in rotational speed follow a 70-year cycle. Exactly how this is to slow down might affect our world is still unclear.

Well, that wraps this hour of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Eleni Giokos. For our viewers in North America, "CNN THIS MORNING" is next. For the rest of the world, it's "AFRICAN VOICES: CHANGEMAKERS." Have a great weekend.