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White House Dismisses Concerns About Biden's Neurological Health; Congressional Democrats Split on Biden's Future; Russian Strike Targeted Children's Hospital in Kyiv; Beryl Barrels Through Texas with High Winds, Heavy Rain; Hung Parliament in France After Left-Wing Alliance's Win; New Israeli Military Strikes and Evacuations in Gaza City. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 09, 2024 - 04:00   ET




KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Has the president been treated for Parkinson's? No. Is he being treated for Parkinson's? No. He's not. Is he taking medication for Parkinson's? No.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This president is fit and prepared to continue to serve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Nothing is good.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The polls are trending the exact wrong way in a hurry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I plead with you to shelter in place. Do not put our first responders in further danger.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a very difficult day today for Ukrainian people. Since the morning it's very difficult to read the news and just to go on the court, it's extremely tough.


ANNOUNCER: Live from London, this is CNN NEWSROOM with Max Foster.

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, warm welcome to our viewers joining us from around the world. I'm Max Foster. It is Tuesday the 9th of July, 9 a.m. here in London, 4 a.m. in Washington where the White House is trying to calm fears about President Biden's neurological health after reports that a Parkinson's disease specialist has visited the White House eight times in the past year.

Biden's physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor, released a letter late on Monday saying many military personnel who serve at the White House experience neurological issues and the neurologist visits regularly. O'Connor says the President has not seen a neurologist outside of his annual physical. Mr. Biden faces a key test today when the Congressional Democratic

Caucus meets for the first time since his debate with Donald Trump. In the meantime, he's getting support from two key leaders in the House.


REP. STEVEN HORSFORD (D-NV), CHAIR, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: This President is fit and prepared to continue to serve. He's civil and he's experienced. The opposite side offers us nothing but chaos and extremism.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY), U.S. HOUSE DEMOCRATIC LEADER: Yes, I made clear the day after the debate publicly that I support President Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket. My position has not changed.


FOSTER: More now from CNN's senior White House correspondent, MJ Lee.


MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A defiant President Biden going on offense.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're not going anywhere. I am not going anywhere.

LEE (voice-over): The President increasingly under siege after his disastrous debate performance last month, calling in live to MSNBC amid the furious speculation and criticism about his age and fitness for office.

BIDEN: I wouldn't be running if I didn't absolutely believe that I am the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in 2024. We had a Democratic nominating process where the voters spoke clearly.

LEE (voice-over): Biden asked about one particular statement he made last week that alarmed and angered many Democrats.

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: 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 feel as long as I gave it my all and I did the good a job as I know I can do. That's what this is about.

LEE (voice-over): The President playing cleanup, making clear losing is not an option.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What would you say to those who are concerned by that answer?

BIDEN: It's not an option and I'm not lost. I haven't lost. I beat him last time. I'll beat him this time.

LEE (voice-over): But new questions about the president's health dogging the White House after the New York Times reported that an expert on Parkinson's disease from Walter Reed had visited the White House eight times in eight months. CNN confirming that the neurologist met earlier this year at the White House with the president's physician. The White House refusing to say if that specialist was consulting about the president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's a very basic direct question.

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Hold on. Wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a second.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Eight times or at least once in regards to the president specifically.

JEAN-PIERRE: Wait, hold on a second.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You should be able to answer by this point.

JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no, no, no, no. No, wait a minute. Ed, please. A little respect here, please.

So every year around the president's physical examination, he sees a neurologist. That's three times. Right.

LEE (voice-over): This as the Biden campaign and its top surrogates are trying to calm the nerves of voters, lawmakers and donors.


JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: For all the talk out there about this race, Joe has made it clear that he's all in.

LEE (voice-over): The president calling into a meeting of donors on Monday, pledging to attack Trump much more aggressively in their next debate.

And in a new letter to Democratic lawmakers, Biden refusing to back down, writing that he is firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end and to beating Donald Trump.


FOSTER: CNN's MJ Lee there.

Congressman Adam Smith from Washington state, the latest Democrat to call on President Biden to end his reelection bid. Several others say if Mr. Biden stays in the race, voters need to see more of him.


REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): We're desperate to win this election and we've got to make sure we have the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump. Right now, we're behind in the polls, especially in the key swing states. The president needs to carry this election and those polls got worse after the debate. So we need to see a change in course, you know, not just not just one pre-taped interview over seven days, over a week after the disastrous debate, but a real new plan to turn this around. Because when your strategy isn't working, you can't just double down on the same strategy. You have to have a new strategy. You have to have a new plan. We haven't heard that yet from the White House.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): I was told this was a bad night and everything's good. No, it's a horrible night and nothing is good. The polls are trending the exact wrong way in a hurry.

A robust candidate would have a hard time turning this around. We have donors walking away at an absolutely critical time. You know, what I said at the beginning was I'm worried about not just who controls the White House, but who controls the House and the Senate.


FOSTER: Well, the political uncertainty in Washington will be looming over this week's NATO summit, which kicks off Tuesday evening in the U.S. Capitol. The leaders of NATO's 37 -- 32 rather, member countries, along with other EU heads of state and NATO's partner countries, will be marking the 75th anniversary of the world's largest security alliance. But any celebratory mood will be clouded not just by questions surrounding the future of the U.S. presidency, but also the resurgence of right wing populism in parts of Europe and, of course, Russia's ongoing war in Ukraine, which is raging right on NATO's doorstep.

The White House, though, is eager to shut down any suggestion that President Biden will have to reassure NATO allies over his fitness to lead.


JOHN KIRBY, U.S. NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON: I think the question presupposes the notion that they need to be reassured of American leadership and President Biden's commitment. And I don't believe that's the case. We're not picking up any signs of that from our allies at all. Quite the contrary.

The conversations that we're having with them in advance, they're excited about this summit. They're excited about the possibilities and the things that we're going to be doing together specifically to help Ukraine.


FOSTER: Well, indeed, helping Ukraine is high on NATO's agenda this week. And the alliance believes that Ukraine's path to membership is irreversible. That word is in a few draft texts or a draft text, rather, of NATO's joint communique, according to three sources familiar with the document.

One of them is a U.S. official who says the White House approves of that language. As long as the document demands that Ukraine continues its work on democratic reforms. This could signal an end to the long running debate about Ukraine's future membership and send a strong message to both Kyiv and to Moscow.

The U.N. Security Council will hold a special meeting in the coming hours to discuss Russia's deadly attack on a children's hospital in Kyiv.

The missile strike was part of a series of daytime air assaults across Ukraine during the Monday morning rush hour. Crews are desperately combing the rubble in several Ukrainian cities, hoping to find survivors still trapped amongst the destruction there. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy says dozens of men, women, children were killed, at least 190 others injured. Among the victims, at least two were killed and 16 wounded at the children's hospital in Kyiv.

Clare Sebastian joins me right now. Have we had any, I mean, what is Russia saying about this? Because it was a missile that could be quite, you know, precisely targeted.

CLARE SEBASTIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. So, look, we have video that's emerged on social media that shows the missile sort of, as we understand it, based on the geolocation that we've been able to do of these videos, heading directly and quite calmly. There doesn't seem to be any veering, of course, towards this hospital.

Russia, Russia's Ministry of Defense said this yesterday, and the Kremlin has just repeated it this morning. They are claiming that that is a Ukrainian stray missile, defense missile, and that Russia does not hit civilian targets and only military ones.

Of course, we've had that from Russia before, and we've had several weapons experts look at the footage of that missile falling, and they say it's consistent with a cruise missile, which is, of course, what Ukraine is saying happened.

Look, we're getting a sense still of the scale of this attack. Search and rescue operations are still ongoing, as of this morning, in a number of different locations.


Dozens of people are still in hospital. President Zelenskyy just put out an update saying the death toll has risen to 38. And there will be long-term consequences as well, because this is, of course, the biggest and most important children's hospital in Ukraine. 600 patients have had to be evacuated.

It's not just about their care now. It's about the long-term care of patients who would have needed it. Oncology wards are among the units that were damaged, a dialysis unit. The country's only oncology and hematology laboratory has been lost, according to Kyiv city officials.

Now, in terms of what President Zelenskyy had promised on Monday, in terms of a powerful response, we did see quite a large-scale drone attack on Russia, five different regions. Russia claims to have shot down 38 drones, which, incidentally, is the same number of missiles that were fired at Ukraine on Monday.

Ukraine, of course, can do this with drones, right? But what they are now asking for from their allies is to be able to do things like that, to hit Russian weapons sites, missile storage facilities inside Russia with the donated Western weapons. Take a listen to President Zelenskyy on that.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): In addition to air defense, and I think we have raised this issue more than once, it is the possibility of using our partners' weapons to target the particular military bases and sites that Russia uses to launch attacks on Ukraine. I think this is a decision we would like to see from our partners. Or do they still want to see attacks, you know, like this terrible TV series, more attacks on hospitals, schools and universities?


SEBASTIAN: So he's not mincing his words there. And, of course, we have seen in the past some limited restrictions on how these donated weapons can be used, being lifted when it comes, for example, to averting a major offensive on Kharkiv. The White House asked about this on Monday, said that as of now their policy hasn't changed, but they are trailing several big announcements when it comes to support for Ukraine.

FOSTER: OK, Clare, thank you.

What was Hurricane Beryl has now weakened to a tropical depression as it moves through the United States, but conditions are still very dangerous. Tornadoes, heavy rain, flash flooding are expected as the system heads north this week.

At least five storm-related deaths have been reported from Beryl in the U.S. so far. Houston, Texas, saw severe flooding as Beryl moved through the region. The city's mayor urged residents to stay home to avoid putting first responders at risk.


JOHN WHITMIRE, HOUSTON, TEXAS MAYOR: All I want to do is urge everyone, I plead with you, to shelter in place. Do not put our first responders in further danger. We have a lot to do when we assess things in future days, but right now it's life safety. All we need to worry about right now is protecting lives.


FOSTER: Well, CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam is in Texas where the storm made landfall early on Monday with more on the damage it's caused.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST (voice-over): Deadly Hurricane Beryl, making landfall along the Gulf Coast, battering Texas with hurricane- force winds whipping up to 94 miles per hour, rising waters leading to dramatic rescues in Houston. Surging wind and rainfall, flooding roadways, blowing down trees, and slamming residents along its path, including this woman in Jamaica Beach, Texas.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I looked up and my roof was gone. Stuff started flying off the walls, zinging around the house.

VAN DAM (voice-over): In Houston, shortly after landfall, hurricane- force wind gusts up to 84 miles per hour, causing roofs to collapse, and heavy rain, more than a month's worth in one day.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: All that rain came down and boom, it fell right on my neck.

VAN DAM (voice-over): The rain and storm surge leading to dangerous roads.

WHITMIRE: It's important for everyone to remember the primary drainage mechanism throughout the city is our streets, for better or worse.

VAN DAM (voice-over): The National Weather Service warning people to stay off of high-rise balconies and away from windows as the eye of the storm passes through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We've had hours and hours and hours of extremely high winds, high water. We've got tree limbs, a tremendous amount of debris that's on the road, waters covering the roadways.

VAN DAM (voice-over): The high winds canceling flights across Texas. At one point, knocking out power for almost 3 million people throughout the state, straining an already-stretched power grid overwhelmed by extreme weather.

VAN DAM: Here in Houston, the floodwaters have receded, but going forward, the millions of people without power are going to struggle in the building heat in the coming days.

CNN meteorologist Derek Van Dam, Houston, Texas.


FOSTER: Well, now to meteorologist Chad Myers for more on Beryl's path and the U.S. forecast.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, we still have gusty winds even at this hour, winds across parts of Arkansas into Missouri. And then later on today, this rain is going to run right on through Indiana, Illinois, and then on up to Windsor, Ontario by the time we get to this point tomorrow.

[04:15:03] Heavy rainfall, 2 to 4 inches of rain spreading itself out, not 12 inches all in one spot, that's the good news. We did get some gusty winds. These are the wind gusts, Freeport, Texas, 97.

Now, if that was a sustained wind, that would be a Category 2 hurricane, but it was not sustained, it was a gust, and that just doesn't count. So 97 was the highest gust that we could find on the map.

The problem is we still have millions of people right now without power, millions of customers without power.

And we're going to have a heat index today of over 100 degrees, so certainly in the 41, 42 degrees Celsius range, and not a fan to even blow the air around. It's going to be a dangerous day across parts of south Texas for later on today.

Heat across the west as well with advisories and warnings going on, 100 record highs possible over the next few days out here. But temperatures are not supposed to be like this in Portland, at 104 later on today. For Reading, 110. Even that 120 we saw in Vegas on Sunday afternoon, that was just a perturbation that we'll hopefully never see again. But today, 117. That's close enough. And even down toward Palm Springs, making a run at 120 later on today.


FOSTER: Still to come, a political deadlock in France after no party wins a majority of the parliamentary elections. We'll look at what's next for the deeply divided country.

Plus, Israel's new military operation in Gaza City and its impact on Palestinians there.

And later, how a robot guide dog in China is helping those who are visually impaired.



FOSTER: France has been plunged into political uncertainty after no party won an outright majority in the snap parliamentary elections. A source tells CNN negotiations are underway to form a new government, but it's not clear if there'll be a new prime minister by the time the Paris Olympics start in three weeks.

The stunning election result put the left-wing coalition, the New Popular Front, on top with 182 seats. President Emmanuel Macron's centrist alliance was second with 163 seats, and the far-right National Rally and its allies won 143 seats.

Meanwhile, President Macron didn't accept Prime Minister Gabriel Attal's resignation on Monday and asked him to stay on for now for the, quote, stability of the country. Meanwhile, although there were celebrations amongst leftists after

their win, without an absolute majority, efforts to form a new government may be complicated, as CNN's Melissa Bell reports.


MELISSA BELL, CNN SENIOR PARIS CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Disbelief and joy on the streets of Paris as news of the far-right's defeat was announced.

JEAN-LUC MELENCHON, LEADER OF THE FRANCE UNBOWED PARTY (through translator): The united left has shown that it has risen to this historical occasion.

BELL (voice-over): Even that unified left seemed astonished by its own success, an improbable coalition of ecologists, socialists and communists that was only created a month ago.

FRANCOIS HOLLANDE, FORMER FRENCH PRESIDENT AND SOCIALIST (through translator): I am indeed a leftist, and I probably wouldn't have won if the left hadn't come together, and I'm well aware of that.

BELL (voice-over): As Paris celebrated the coalition's victory, there were already questions, though, about how such a varied group of parties will actually govern.

CAMILLE, FRENCH VOTER: We are quite happy because the left is getting a majority to the parliament, but we're a bit scared as well because the union is not really solid, so maybe there will be betrayal, but tonight we're celebrating.

BELL: The biggest disappointment of all, of course, for Marine Le Pen. She had hoped that her National Rally Party would finally be able to govern. In fact, it came in third, but still recorded the party's best ever electoral success.

BELL (voice-over): Doubling the number of its parliamentary seats, with the far-left doing well too, the radical party's gains largely made at the expense of present Macron's centrists. A reflection of growing anger, much of it outside of Paris. Like here in Normandy, where the National Rally won outright in the first round.

JEAN-PAUL RIBIERE, TALMONTIERS, FRANCE DEPUTY MAYOR (through translator): The vote here is more of a disapproval of what's happening in Paris compared to what's happening in the rural world, which is that no-one listens to us, no-one hears us.

BELL (voice-over): Yet the images of the far-right celebrating their first-round success appear to have focused the minds and the votes of those who wanted more than anything else to keep them away from power for now.

Melissa Bell, CNN, Paris.

(END VIDEOTAPE) FOSTER: Meanwhile, Britain's new Prime Minister is pledging to have a better relationship with the European Union. Keir Starmer is also promising to get a better deal on post-Brexit trading rules.


KEIR STARMER, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: We want to improve relations with the EU. We think we can get a better deal than the botched deal that Boris Johnson brought home, and we will work on that, understanding the work that needs to be done and the nature of the challenge, but yes, we do want to improve that relationship. We're not going to be able to get a better relationship unless we demonstrate a commitment to the relationship and the agreements that have already been put in place.

So we'll be doing both of those things, but we do that with a very strong mandate now, a very strong mandate for change, for a different relationship with the EU.


FOSTER: Israel conducting new strikes in parts of Gaza City after ordering civilians to evacuate. The Israeli military says the new operation is targeting what it says is terrorist infrastructure in the city.

On Sunday, the IDF ordered civilians to leave. The Gaza civil defense spokesman says people are still fleeing and there are now wounded and dead in the streets and medical crews are having a hard time getting to them.

Meanwhile, the United Nations says the number of displaced Palestinians in Gaza is now 1.9 million. That's about 90 percent of the people who live there.


Salma's with me, and we've been here before. It feels like the same story.

SALMA ABDELAZIZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It does, but this bombardment seems to be some of the worst that Gaza City has seen. One eyewitness described just the bombs raining down, the artillery, the missiles as hell from a volcano. I mean, it really paints a picture of this apocalyptic escape where the Israeli military says that it has renewed yet another assault, if you will, a counter-offensive, it says, that's being carried out in Gaza City.

This is in addition to a ground operation that had already been pushing through Gaza City, so you have tanks closing in, as well as, again, that bombardment from the skies. And all of this takes place as families are yet again on the move, desperate to find safety, desperate to find shelter. Just in the last couple of days, evacuation orders have been issued for tens of thousands of people.

I want to go to a key number here, Max, again, that might paint the picture for you. Nine out of ten Gazans, nine out of ten Gazans has been ordered to evacuate, has been forced out of their homes, some of them multiple times. So with these latest evacuation orders, again, for Gaza City, aid groups describing families that were simply sleeping out in the open, no access to food, no access to water, no access to sanitation.

Think again about the wounded, the sick that are piling up, those patients that need help. Well, the medical system, already on the brink, now being pushed even further because one of the evacuation orders was for Al-Ahli Arab Hospital, one of the main hospitals in Gaza City. So you have this suffering that's just being compounded on the ground.

And one of the other impacts is something that's a little bit further out there, and that is what's happening in Doha. So you have talks, negotiations that are ongoing in Doha right now. There had been hope for a breakthrough, but Hamas saying that these latest attacks could threaten, could bring back the talks to square one. So more suffering on the ground, less and less hope for resolution.

FOSTER: In terms of those talks, we don't know about the delay yet, but there did seem to be -- I think he key players are involved, aren't they? So there's some positivity in that sense.

ABDELAZIZ: Yes, so let's take a step back and just remember what these talks are. They had stalled for months, really. There is a three-phase deal that's on the table that had been proposed by President Biden.

But the first part is what we're talking about here, and that is a six-week ceasefire. That's on the table, six-week ceasefire, where we would see the exchange of hostages, the most vulnerable women, elderly, in exchange for Palestinian prisoners. There was a major breakthrough, President Biden says, around the language that Hamas and Israel had disagreed on that allowed for these talks to take place in Doha this week.

But when you look at what's happening on the ground, there's two sides to it, really. You have Hamas saying, this threatens talks. Israel doing this assault at this time is a threat to these negotiations.

On the other side, we have seen in the past, when it comes to these negotiations, when it comes to these talks, Israel strengthening its hand by increasing the attacks on the ground.

FOSTER: OK, Salma, thank you so much.

The U.S. Republican Party has unveiled a new platform ahead of its convention. What the party's presumptive nominee has to say about that just ahead.

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