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CNN International: Biden Set to Host NATO Leaders in Washington, D.C.; at Least 39 Killed in Russian Strikes Across Ukraine on Monday; Biden Under Pressure to Perform Well for European Allies; Indian Pm Wrapping Up Moscow Visit After Talks With Putin; Last Month Was Warmest June on Record; Beryl Battered Texas With High Winds, Heavy Rain; 50 Million People Under Heat Alerts Across the U.S.; Jury Selection Begins in Alec Baldwin's Rust Trial; Trump to Hold Rally in Miami Less Than a Week Before Start of GOP Convention; Fighting on Israel-Lebanon Border Sparks Fear of Wider War; Spain to Meet France in Euro 2024 Semifinals on Tuesday; Researchers in China Test Robot Guide Dogs for Visually Impaired; John Cena to Exit WWE in 2025. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired July 09, 2024 - 08:00   ET



KATE BOLDUAN, CNN CO-ANCHOR OF "CNN NEWS CENTRAL": -- of this terrible tragedy. And if these laws will go into effect nationwide.

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: And here in court yesterday, a significant win for Alec Baldwin, what prosecutors originally wanted to do was charge him not for his role as just the person holding the gun when it went off, but also for his role as a producer on this movie set, saying he was responsible for a culture of unsafe practices on the set. The judge ruling that he will not be focused on as a producer. Now, what the jurors will have to grapple with here, Kate, is one hand, it can still be criminal for someone to be engaged in an accident --

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR OF "CNN NEWSROOM": Hello and welcome to our viewers all around the world. I am Erica Hill; this is "CNN Newsroom." Just ahead this hour, one day after Russia carries out a deadly daytime bombardment of Ukraine, NATO leaders set to gather in Washington, where all eyes will be on U.S. President Joe Biden as his re-election campaign is under increasing pressure. We are live in Kyiv and at the White House this hour. Plus, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi getting a warm welcome in Moscow, but criticism from other world leaders for that visit. And Alec Baldwin on trial, jury selection about to get underway later this morning in the Hollywood actor's involuntary manslaughter trial.

We do begin this hour with some major developments and of course, all of this unfolding amid the political uncertainty here in the United States and so many questions about President Joe Biden and what will happen for him moving forward. This, as in Ukraine, the nationwide death toll from Monday's Russian attacks has now risen to 39, search and rescue operations still continuing. The U.N. Security Council is gearing up now for an emergency meeting, we are told that will happen soon, all of this of course, after the attack on a children's hospital in Kyiv.

This is some footage that you're looking at here, of the moment when that missile struck. The war in Ukraine expected to be top of the agenda, of course, as the NATO Summit begins in just a few hours in Washington, D.C. But of course, that is coming alongside intense scrutiny of U.S. President Joe Biden after his faltering debate performance against Donald Trump last month, which just triggered a slew of questions which have not abated in this country. Mr. Biden, of course, hosting the leaders of NATO's 32 member countries as they mark the 75th anniversary of the world's largest security alliance.

Let's take you straight to Kyiv now. CNN's Fred Pleitgen is on the scene there at that children's hospital. Massive damage behind you, Fred, bring us up to speed on where things stand this morning and what we know?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, you're absolutely right, Erica. It's massive damage, massive destruction that you can see behind me. In fact, I am going to get out of your way and asked for Cameraman Alex to come forward. You can see the full extent of what happened when that missile struck. I know you were just showing that video of that missile apparently coming in. What you see over there, that is where a building used to stand. That was a large part of the largest children's hospital here in Ukraine. But you can see it's just a wide gap there. This has just in the last couple of minutes actually turned into cleanup operations. There's no more search and rescue going on here.

The death toll from just this place alone here in Kyiv is two people killed and dozens of people wounded. Of course, we know that in all of Kyiv, 29 people were at least killed in that missile attack that took place. But there's certain things that when you look at them, Erica, you can see just how powerful that explosion was. You can see over there, that used to be a floor in that children's hospital which, obviously, completely collapsed. And if we pan down a little bit, you can see that there's a car right underneath that has been absolutely flattened by that debris that's been coming down. So it was definitely a very powerful explosion that took place here.

Some of the initial video that came out from that was the first responders on scene, but then also, the hospital staff who had actually gone into the bunker because there was an air raid alert, they immediately came out and started clearing debris with their bare hands, hoping to find survivors under it. Of course, the explosion itself, Erica, we are right in the middle of Kyiv, we are right in the middle of a big urban center, was so powerful that you can see another building, several other buildings actually, in this very large compound, also seeing massive destruction as well. There are all the windows blown out, large parts of the facade also destroyed.

The Ukrainians, of course, are saying that they will respond to this, but they also say that this once again showcases the fact that they need better and more air defense systems from their western partners, Erica.

HILL: And Fred, the timing is impossible to ignore. This attack coming just before the NATO Summit, of course, is about to kick off in Washington, D.C.

PLEITGEN: Yeah, just before the NATO Summit and just as the president of this country, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, who is already on his way to that NATO Summit, of course, stopping in Poland to speak to the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. But you're absolutely right. This is the time where NATO wants to showcase it's unity and also wants to showcase the fact that many of the NATO countries say that Ukraine has a future within NATO and that is exactly when this happened.


You could see once again the utter destruction that was wrought here, but this is also something that once again showcases I think, Erica, one of the main things that the president of Ukraine -- , you can see them here, actually taking down some of the debris right in front of us, those are some of the cleanup crews that are still working here. One of the main things that no doubt Volodymyr Zelenskyy will be showcasing to President Biden, to some of the other NATO allies as well, is the fact that the Ukrainians say they need more, especially of those very high-level Patriot surface-to-air missile systems. But of course, also a lot more interceptor rockets for those systems as well, to try and make sure something like this doesn't happen again.

We know that normally Kyiv has very strong air defenses, but this attack was also somewhat of an outlier in that it took place in broad daylight. Usually these attacks happen at night. One of the things we have to add is that the Russians continue to claim that it was actually a stray Ukrainian interceptor rocket that did this damage. The Ukrainians are having none of it, they are saying this was a deliberate attack on this hospital, on their health care system and on the children of Ukraine, Erica.

HILL: Fred, really good to have you there on the ground. Appreciate it. Thank you. Well, support for Ukraine and the future of the NATO alliance is, of course, front and center in Washington this week, as leaders of those NATO countries make their way to Washington to mark the alliance's 75th year. The milestone though really being overshadowed by the political storm swirling around the host of that Summit, President Joe Biden. We are covering all these angles for you. CNN's Nic Robertson is in London, Arlette Saenz is at the White House.

Arlette, let's begin with you. President Biden facing mounting pressure, multiple fronts here. NATO leaders in town, of course, the entire world is going to be watching his every move not just all the politicos and the voters, frankly, in this country. And there are large questions about how he can put world leaders at ease in addition to Americans this week, Arlette.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Erica, President Biden is really facing several major tests this week as he's not just only grappling with the concerns within his own Democratic Party of him remaining in the race, but also potentially grappling with the concerns of world leaders. Now, the president, this evening, will deliver remarks as the NATO Summit kicks off here in D.C. This is a summit intended to focus on a lot on the future of Ukraine, but also trying to deal with the prospect of a potential second Trump presidency if President Biden were to lose against him in November.

Now, the White House has defended President Biden, saying that he is up for serving not just the people of this country, but also on the world stage. That is something that White House Spokesperson John Kirby reiterated just moments ago on CNN, but the president's certainly every move, every speech at this summit will be watched by these world leaders. The president of course, is also set to hold a major solo news conference on Thursday, something that many of his allies have encouraged him to do, to try to the ease some of those concerns from American voters.

Now, while the president, a lot of his focus is this week will be on the NATO Summit, there's also some key meetings playing out on Capitol Hill as Democrats in the House and Senate are set to gather for the first time together since that debate. So, there really has been this fractious grouping when it comes to support for President Biden remaining in this race. You have a small contingent, about six House Democrats who have publicly called for the president to step aside. Many others expressing private concerns. But then there has been a bit of rallying support from some segments of Congressional lawmakers, including the Congressional Black Caucus.

So, we will see if President Biden conducts any further outreach. Now, at the same time, the White House continues to answer and face questions relating to the president's age and health. There was a lot of speculation that emerged in recent days after White House visitors logs revealed that a top neurologist who specializes in Parkinson's Disease had visited the White House on at least eight occasions in the last year. Yesterday, at the White House press briefing, the spokesperson would not confirm these visits.

But last night, the president's doctor took a rare step in releasing a letter to try to explain what that doctor had been doing here. The president's physician, Dr. Kevin O'Connor confirmed that Dr. Kevin Cannard, who is based at Walter Reed Medical Unit, had visited the White House, but he stressed that Cannard did evaluate the president as part of his annual physical, but that the president has only seen neurologist during those three physicals.

Instead, the White House physician here trying to explain that this neurologist visited the White House to have these clinics for active duty military members who are serving in and around the White House. They wrote that many military personnel experience neurological issues related to their service and Dr. Cannard has been here to hold these clinics to meet with them. But it does come at a time when the president and his team continue to face many questions about his age and health at a time when that's of concern to many voters in this race.


HILL: Nic, in terms of these NATO leaders from around the world, what is the feeling among them, especially given how much scrutiny there is on the president right now, the president of the United States?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yeah, I think there's two views on this, obviously, (inaudible) acutely aware of the domestic political interest that President Biden is experiencing right now over his health because they get similar types of scrutiny back home over all their moves. So there'll be very familiar with the predicament that he's in and the indications are that they will be to a degree sympathetic, certainly in personal conversations with him and that's the indication we've heard from Olaf Scholz, the German Chancellor, who saw President Biden at the G7 Summit in person just about a month ago now.

That summit -- fair to say, President Biden arrived half an hour late on both days, kept all the other leaders waiting for him and appeared almost to be sort of ticked off by the host, the Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni. So these leaders are familiar with him, familiar with the pressure that he's under. But I think the overarching thing for them is what is happening to the United States more broadly, is it tending to become more isolationist, which leaves the 30 members of NATO, 30 leaders of NATO who are from European countries, does it leave them look into themselves more to establish their own security rather than depend wholly on the Transatlantic Alliance, knowing that if Donald Trump was to win the presidency then that would be a bigger and more serious and perhaps more immediate question.

So, you have the British prime minister, first time that he'll be meeting with President Biden. They will be having a bilateral, his foreign secretary who's traveling with him has written about this quite recently saying, clearly, you know, the U.K. and Europe need to look to their own security as the United States -- it's attention becomes increasingly focused on the Indo-Pacific, and that will be a component of the NATO Summit. So I think that there's two levels.

But I don't think you're going to find any other leaders speaking publicly against President Biden at this time. They wouldn't expect visiting dignitaries to their own country to do that of them, whatever the domestic political pressures. But yes, for sure, those concerns are genuine and exist about the future the direction of the United States foreign policies.

HILL: Yeah, certainly. And concerns that may have shifted even since that debate and since the last time some of these leaders were together. Nic, Arlette, appreciate it. Thank you both.

U.S. National Security Council Spokesperson John Kirby appeared on CNN just a short time ago, speaking with my colleague Kate Bolduan about news of the day, including those horrific attacks on Ukraine. And she asked him specifically about Russia's claim, which Fred Pleitgen just mentioned, that the damage to the children's hospital in Kyiv was actually the result of a stray Ukrainian air defense missile. Here's his response.


JOHN KIRBY, UNITED STATES NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON: Just further evidence of Mr. Putin's utter brutality. It is a piece, sadly, of his playbook, which is to terrorize the Ukrainian people, to cause damage to civilian infrastructure, and to kill them in a wanton and indiscriminate way. That's part of what he's been trying to do for more than the last two years here. So sadly, this is just consistent with the kind of war that this brutal dictator is waging on the Ukrainian people. When we meet this week in Washington, you're going to see the NATO leaders really come around and unify over continued air defense capabilities for Ukraine. We've got to make sure that they have better means and more of it to defend themselves from these kinds of attacks.

BOLDUAN: When you see this destruction and knowing that it is "consistent with Putin's tactics," it is just terrifying, a terrifying reality. The new reporting that I've seen going into the NATO Summit is the joint message communicated coming from the summit will describe Ukraine's path to joining NATO as "irreversible." Can you confirm that?

KIRBY: I won't get ahead of the actual communique language. It's still being negotiated and worked on, as you might expect here, at the very beginning of the summit. But what I can tell you is that NATO is in Ukraine's future and the communique will state that very plainly and very clearly. As President Biden has maintained, NATO is in Ukraine's future, and there's going to be a path, what we call a bridge to NATO that the allies will talk about this coming week, to include the signing of bilateral security agreements which has already happened to make sure that they have long-term defense needs met for whenever and however this war ends.

But there'll be no mistaking that Ukraine will one day be a NATO member. There's just going to be -- have to be a path laid out for them to get there.



HILL: John Kirby there speaking with Kate Bolduan. India's Narendra Modi is wrapping up his two-day visit to Moscow with a call for peace and dialog to take the place of conflict. The prime minister's trip included official talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the Kremlin. The two leaders also visiting an exhibition center showcasing the nuclear industry. This high-profile visit meant to underline the deepening ties between the two countries, has been met with sharp criticism, most notably perhaps from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy who called it a "huge disappointment and a devastating blow to peace efforts."

CNN's Ivan Watson is live now in Hong Kong. So in terms of this criticism -- yes, direct criticism from Volodymyr Zelenskyy, but that is not the only criticism we are hearing in terms of Prime Minister Modi.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: No, it sure isn't and the split screen on Monday was really stark. You had Narendra Modi arriving at the steps of Vladimir Putin's residence outside of Moscow and these two leaders embracing each other warmly, talking about friendship between their countries that really goes back to the days of the Cold War and the Soviet Union. And on the same day, the Ukrainian government accusing Russia of firing a cruise missile at a children's hospital in Kyiv, and the damage that we saw Fred Pleitgen standing next to in downtown Kyiv.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian president, directly tweeting, saying how disappointed he was at seeing the leader of the world's largest democracy face-to-face with what he describes as a murderer, that is the Russian President Vladimir Putin. Well, this afternoon, there's been a fascinating exchange where the two delegations, the Indian and Russian ones with their leaders sitting side-by-side, Vladimir Putin makes a few cursory remarks about friendship and about deepening the relationship and then Narendra Modi spoke at length, perhaps three times as long as Putin did, covering a number of different issues. And then going on with what I would only describe really as a lecture about peace, about how heartbreaking it is to see innocent children killed, and then he went on and said this.


NARENDRA MODI, INDIAN PRIME MINISTER (through translator): As a friend, I have always said that peace is necessary for the prosperity of future generations. But I also know that on the battlefield, solutions aren't easy to come by between guns, bombs, and bullets. We have to adapt a path to peace through dialog.


WATSON: I think it's very clear that Modi was speaking to an audience, not just the Russian president sitting in front of him, but also to an international audience that has been watching very closely this summit between these two leaders. Erica?

HILL: Ivan, really appreciate it. Thank you.

Still ahead here this hour, a historic storm battering Texas, leaving millions without power. Look at the damage Beryl left in its wake and the extreme weather around the globe today. Plus jury selection set to begin for Actor Alec Baldwin. He's on trial for his role in the fatal shooting on the set of the movie "Rust." We are live in Mexico, after the break.



HILL: If you're feeling like it is a lot hotter than it has been, you're right. In fact, last month was the 12th in a row for the world's average temperature to be at least 1.5-degree Celsius warmer than during pre-industrial times. And that is the latest, frankly, alarming news from Copernicus, which is of course the European Union's Climate Monitoring Service. Scientists say the El Nino phenomenon contributed to that record heat, long-term climate change though has been the main driver of the rise in temperatures over the past year.

Warmer temperatures can mean more extreme storms and whether here in the U.S. We see that with Hurricane Beryl, which has now weakened to a tropical depression overnight, but the conditions still dangerous. As that storm moves through the mid-western United States today, tornadoes, heavy rain, flash, flooding, all expected as that system continues to head north. There have been at least eight storm related deaths reported from Beryl in the U.S. thus far.

CNN Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is in Texas where that storm made landfall 24 hours ago.


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 out the wall, zinging around my 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 (inaudible) boom, it fell right on my neck.

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

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is 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, tremendous amount of debris that is 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: The 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.


HILL: So, Derek just mentioned that heat there, of course, Texas just one of a number of U.S. states where people are suffering amid a punishing heat wave. More than 50 million people right now from Canada, down into Mexico, are under heat alerts. We saw record-high temperatures actually for a third day in a row in Las Vegas where it hit 46-degree Celsius, that's 115 Fahrenheit, and forecasters say many more Americans will be feeling this unprecedented heat. Temperature records set to be either met or broken in more than some 165 spots this week.

Happening today, jury selection begins in the involuntary manslaughter trial of Actor Alec Baldwin. Baldwin is accused of a fatal shooting on the set of the movie, "Rust." Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins died when the prop gun that Baldwin was holding went off and fired a round of live ammunition. CNN's Josh Campbell has more.


JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): October 2021, Alec Baldwin was rehearsing on the set of "Rust" in remote New Mexico, seemingly just another day in the life of a megastar with four decades in show business. He is handed a real revolver as a prop and told it is safe, then an unexpected gunshot.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One female shot in the chest.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Hours later, Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins was dead, another crew member injured, and the film's production in chaos. Baldwin's involvement in the shooting and alleged safety concerns on set suddenly thrust into the spotlight. Flash forward two- and-a-half years later -- guilty. The movie's armorer is sentenced to prison for involuntary manslaughter and Baldwin, who is an executive producer on the film, is facing the same charge. He has pleaded not guilty and, in a 2022 interview with CNN, denied any criminal liability.


ALEC BALDWIN, ACTOR: I never took a gun and pointed at somebody and clicked the heck of (ph) thing.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): He blames Armorer Hannah Gutierrez-Reed and Assistant Director David Halls for the live round that was loaded into the gun while his attorneys argue the shooting was an accident and Baldwin is not criminally liable.

MARY CARMACK-ALTWIES, NEW MEXICO FIRST JUDICIAL DISTRICT ATTORNEY: Just because it is an accident, doesn't mean that it is not criminal.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): The convoluted path to trial has itself all the makings of a Hollywood drama, months after being charged in 2023, Baldwin's case was suddenly dropped by New Mexico special prosecutors citing "new facts." But the actor was indicted in January with involuntary manslaughter, this time by a grand jury. His attorneys tried and failed at multiple attempts to get the case dismissed, at one point, alleging improper destruction of evidence, arguing the gun was virtually destroyed by FBI testing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'd love to do this one again. I'll do it again. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's do it again.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): The pre-trial hearings thus far marked by frequent clashes between attorneys from each side.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If a prosecutor is listening to testimony that a prosecutor knows is false, the prosecutor has an obligation to correct it. So this testimony that he is giving --



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Stop, stop, stop both of you.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Prosecutors also intend to highlight what they say is Baldwin's negligence while overseeing a set allegedly plagued by dangerous conduct.

CARMACK-ALTWIES: He didn't do any of the things that he was supposed to do to make sure that he was safe or that anyone around him was safe. And then he pointed the gun at Halyna Hutchins and he pulled the trigger.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): Beyond on Baldwin's approaching legal fate --

ELIZABETH WAGMEISTER, CNN ENTERTAINMENT CORRESPONDENT: The future of "Rust" is in limbo. There is no distribution partner, there is no release date.

CAMPBELL (voice-over): And beyond this one movie, a larger question remains, will the deadly accident on the set of "Rust" lead to new laws regulating safety practices across the film industry.

WAGMEISTER: There is a ton of production in other states like Georgia with Atlanta, also New Mexico and of course New York. So, it remains to be seen just the reach of this terrible tragedy and if these laws will go into effect nationwide.


HILL: And Josh Campbell joins me now live. So Josh, jury selection is set to begin, any sense of how long that selection could take and how long the trial itself is expected to last?

CAMPBELL (on camera): So, the judge wants to keep this going. We expect that jury selection will last a day. Opening arguments could begin as early as tomorrow, and we are looking at about a two-week trial here for Alec Baldwin and the jury will get the case. It is up to them how long it will go then for their deliberation. Interestingly, here in court yesterday, there was a significant development, a win of sorts for Actor Alec Baldwin. All along, prosecutors had not only wanted to focus on his role as the actor who was holding that gun when it went off killing the film's cinematographer, but also his role as a producer on the set, saying that there was this culture of unsafe practices that he should have been aware of.

The judges today ruling that, that producer role will not be part of this prosecution, so a significant loss there for the prosecution. One thing that we are going to be watching for as this goes on is what the judge does as she is trying to keep control between these two sides. We've seen in these pre-trial hearings a lot of frequent clashes between both sides. Interestingly, I think Erica, we are all used to watching trials and you'll hear a prosecutor or defense attorney object in court. The judge says that no, we are not going to have any that, that itself could be seen as theatrical. And so, if either of those attorneys have an issue, they'll have to approach the bench and then explain what that issue is, and the judge will rule. So she is going to keep a tight grip on both sides as this gets underway.

Again, jury selection starting here, just a short time then the trial itself. Alec Baldwin himself is -- if he is convicted, faces up to 18 months in prison, Erica.

HILL: Josh, really appreciate it. Good to have you there on the ground. Thank you.

Still to come here, Joe Biden hosting dozens of NATO allies today in Washington for an important summit marking 75 years of the alliance. The White House also hoping this may put an end to calls for Joe Biden to drop out of the presidential race. Stay with us for that. Plus Donald Trump holding his first big rally since the CNN debate, that happens tonight. Could the rally also include an announcement about his VP pick? That story when we return.



HILL: Joe Biden has spent the past week fighting for his political life. Today, his attention though may turn away from U.S. politics for a bit as he hosts European allies for the NATO Summit in Washington. The main topics of discussion include helping Ukraine and also containing Vladimir Putin's ambitions. The get-together though is also a chance, of course, for Mr. Biden to show he is still capable of taking the lead on the world stage. Here's more now from CNN's Brian Todd.


BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It wasn't long after he took office that President Biden was it's in Europe, reassuring America's allies that there was a new day dawning, following years of contentious European relations with his predecessor Donald Trump.

JOE BIDEN, (D) PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: At every point along the way, we are going to make it clear that the United States is back.

TODD (voice-over): But now, as NATO leaders gather in Washington for a summit marking 75 years of NATO, there seems to be renewed anxiety among the alliance's leaders over Biden's health and his ability to lead. In recent days, CNN's Jennifer Hansler, Kylie Atwood and Pamela Brown reported that diplomats around the world reacted with shock and concern over Biden's calamitous debate performance on June 27th and cited multiple diplomats as saying the president will be under enormous pressure to perform well at the NATO Summit.

ISAAC ARNSDORF, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: This is a huge test and actually, one of the rare instances where he is going to be interacting with a lot of people who don't work for him, right? So, foreign leaders and their staff, who are going to be seeing him in these unscripted, candid moments and making their own observations and impressions of how he is doing.

TODD (voice-over): Asked by Wolf Blitzer about what NATO allies are most concerned about, former U.S. Ambassador to NATO, Kurt Volker said this.

KURT VOLKER, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: It is the leadership of the United States in NATO, is it going to be President Biden? Is he capable of that? Is he going to run for re-election? Is he going to get elected? If so, what does that look like?

TODD (voice-over): Volker pointed out many allies were already concerned about the level of commitment the U.S. has to help Ukraine defeat Russia.


TODD (voice-over): CNN reports many NATO allies believe Donald Trump is a threat to the alliance if he is re-elected because of his repeated threats to draw back American support of NATO.

ARNSDORF: Right. It is not an exaggeration to say that the future of the Transatlantic Alliance is on the ballot in terms of how Biden approaches NATO versus how Trump approaches NATO, the war in Ukraine.

TODD (voice-over): The White House pushing back on the notion that the president will have to reassure his NATO allies of his fitness for office.

KIRBY: And we are not picking up any signs of that from her allies at all, quite the contrary. The conversations that we are having with them in advance is they are excited in about this summit. They are excited about the possibilities and the things that we are going to be doing together.

TODD (voice-over): And Biden himself, in his interview with ABC News last week, staking part of his comeback on highlighting his success with European allies.

BIDEN: I am the guy that put NATO together, a future, no one thought I could expand it. I am the guy that shut Putin down, no one thought it could happen.

TODD: Still, analysts and one former senior U.S. diplomat told CNN that those in attendance with President Biden at this summit will be looking closely at the physical signs, how he looks, how he moves around the room, and how he sounds when he interacts with fellow leaders, especially in unscripted moments.

Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


HILL: Joining us now for a bit more perspective, Clayton Allen, he covers politics and policy in Washington for the Eurasia Group. Clayton, good to have you with us. You know, as Brian just laid out and I think so many people are talking about, there will be intense scrutiny on President Biden -- what he says, how he moves, how he looks.


I'm curious, who else will you be watching outside of President Biden to see their reaction to how he is handling things?

CLAYTON ALLEN, U.S. DIRECTOR, THE EURASIA GROUP: Thank you for having me. I think the people to watch here are going to be Biden's contemporaries, the other world leaders in attendance, because right now, the sense that we are getting is that the consensus among other U.S. allies is that Biden is not the strongest candidate, that there's increasing pressure on him to consider making a change at the top of the ticket. I think the best signpost to watch will be how he is received in those bilateral meetings and more importantly, how many of them yet he is actually able to do.

HILL: It would be odd, to put it mildly.


HILL: To have much public commentary from these other leaders about the president specifically. But I would imagine there will be plenty of discussion privately, behind the scenes, because there's also little, right, even prior to the debate, there's little that President Biden can promise given the fact that the U.S. is in an election year and his opponent in a very tight race has a much different view of NATO and the U.S.'s role.

ALLEN: Absolutely. Look, Biden's age right now is not just making it hard for him to run for president, it is also overshadowing his ability to make promises and really secure commitments from other NATO partners at this summit. This is a really crucial time for NATO; it is the 75th anniversary. It is also a point where there's increasingly questions behind the scenes about what is the long-term western strategy in Ukraine. What's the future of European security independence, maybe a larger role for some of the European powers, and Biden's ability to keep the U.S. in that conversation is going to be hindered by these questions about his long-term political durability here at home.

HILL: It's really in many ways, as we look at this alliance, right, and this coalition, if we are talking about a coalition in this week, for Joe Biden, that is a coalition that is a domestic coalition of members within his own party, much less so about with other global leaders. ALLEN: Absolutely. Biden's game this week is all about defending his own fight (ph). There's not really a coordinated effort within the party right now, or at least among party leadership, to try and convince Biden to drop. And that's the one thing he is trying to prevent. You're seeing him go to some really important pillars of the Democratic coalition, Congressional Black Caucus, certain progressive members that have a significant profile, all in an effort to try and forestall or at least pre-empt a coordinated effort to try and push him out of the race.

No single member can convince him to drop. But if all leaders come out, that could change the calculus.

HILL: And there is a sense that there is a bit of a waiting game, right, given what is happening, of course, with NATO in Washington this week. I do want to get your take too on the timing of this attack in Kyiv yesterday, happening in the morning, happening during the rush hour, this hospital, of course, attacked. We have a number of fatalities and injuries. It is tough to ignore the timing of that attack as President Zelenskyy was making his way, of course, to the NATO summit and just ahead of this critical meeting for Ukraine.

ALLEN: Absolutely. I mean, this is one in an almost endless series of tragedies that have taken place in Ukraine. And I don't know that we can ascribe specific timing to the Russian decision to strike Kyiv. Certainly, it does highlight that this is a long-term, very bloody, very damaging conflict. I think that this is going to put increasing pressure not only on U.S. leaders, but also o Zelenskyy to define what a long-term path in this conflict looks like. And it certainly will put the onus on the West, especially the U.S. to try and find some long-term guarantee for military support.

HILL: Clayton Allen, really appreciate you being with us today. Good to have your perspective and your insight as well. Thank you.

ALLEN: Thank you for having me.

HILL: Just ahead here, CNN has a firsthand look at fighting along the Israel-Lebanon border amid fears of a growing regional conflict in the Middle East.



HILL: After more than a week out of the spotlight, Donald Trump will be back on stage tonight. He's holding a rally in Miami. It's his first big event since the CNN debate, which of course sent Biden's campaign into crisis mode, and it is possible he would announce his vice presidential pick at that prime-time rally, especially if he decides to pick Florida Senator Marco Rubio who, of course, grew up in Miami. A source telling CNN, Rubio will be at the event tonight.

CNN's Alayna Treene is tracking the Trump campaign, joins us now. So, there is the whole lot of speculation, of course, about what could happen tonight at that rally, what we could learn. This has been a pretty quiet ten days or so for the former president as he, I guess, let the chaos play out across the aisle among Democrats. But this kicks off a busy week, walk us through that.

ALAYNA TREENE, CNN REPORTER: It does, and you're absolutely right, Erica. Donald Trump has really been trying to lay low over the past week and let Joe Biden and the hand-wringing in the Democratic Party and the questions over whether or not they believe that the president is fit to serve for another four years really take center stage, but that is changing today with this rally at his Doral resort in Miami. Now, Miami is home to Senator Marco Rubio, it is where he is from.

And so, the location of this rally has definitely led to a lot of speculation that perhaps this will be his vice presidential announcement. Now, when I talked to Donald Trump's team, they say not to read too much into it, even though Senator Marco Rubio will be there. I am told he is the only top contender, and we know that there's three top contenders right now that Donald Trump is considering on his, what I'll call his shortlist, which is Rubio, but also Senator J.D. Vance and North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum.

Rubio is the only one of them those three who will be present at this rally. But look, even from Donald Trump himself, we heard him last night in an interview with Sean Hannity, say that he is still deciding and mulling this decision over. Take a listen to how he put it.


DONALD TRUMP, (R) FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I haven't made final decision, but I have some ideas as to where we are going and a little bit. We wanted to see what they're doing, to be honest, because you know, it might make a difference. I don't know, I'm not sure that it would, but there are those who say Trump's waiting until he finds out what is going to happen with crooked Joe Biden, and we'll see what happens with Biden.


TREENE: Now, Erica, as you could hear there, Donald Trump is alluding to the fact that the questions over whether Joe Biden will ultimately step aside is impacting his decision. I can tell you from my conversations with Donald Trump's top advisers that it, of course, is impacting who he may pick. But remember, Erica, Donald Trump set a self-imposed deadline of announcing who his running mate will be a little bit before or at the Republican National Convention next week. I starts just one week from today, and I am told as well that he could announce as late as July 15, the start of that week. And so we are still waiting to see.

I also think it's important to note that this weekend he has another rally. It's in Butler, Pennsylvania. It's essentially on the border of Pennsylvania and Ohio. And remember, Ohio is where Senator J.D. Vance is from, so that's leading to some questions as well. But from my conversations, Donald Trump is still thinking this over, as he told Hannity, and it's unclear when he will ultimately make that big announcement. HILL: We know he does enjoy sort of drawing it out too and keeping people waiting with bated breath to see. Alayna, we know you will let us know as soon as you hear anything. Thank you.

TREENE: Thank you.

HILL: Well, as the conflict in Gaza continues, there is also major international concern about hostilities on the Israel-Lebanon border where Hezbollah and Israeli forces, of course, are increasingly trading fire. CNN's Jeremy Diamond recently traveled to a village in northern Israel for a firsthand look at the impact of those hostilities and the situation there. Take a look at what he found.


LT. COL. JORDAN HERZBERG, ISRAEL DEFENSE FORCES: They are going to see us when we get up there and we have three minutes.

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN JERUSALEM CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Colonel Jordan Herzberg is talking about Hezbollah.


HERZBERG: After three minutes though, they can start to fire. So we are going to be very quick.

DIAMOND (voice-over): He is taking us to an Israeli community on the front lines of Israel's simmering conflict with the Lebanese militant group, up a winding mountain road, past a roadblock and a security fence and into the village of Shtula, which sits right on the Lebanese border.

DIAMOND: We just entered the village of Shtula. This is a community of about 300 people normally. For right now, it is just an absolute ghost town.

HERZBERG: Let's go quick.

DIAMOND (voice-over): This three-minute countdown starts as soon as we are within line of sight of southern Lebanon.

HERZBERG: Look how close we are to the border here.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Where Hezbollah militants armed with anti-tank missiles are closely watching the border, prepared to fire once again.

HERZBERG: This house was hit by an anti-tank missile right here, past the window.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Two homes, one next to the other, hit in the same attack according to the Israeli military.

DIAMOND: This is one of the most dangerous places in northern Israel right now. We are in Shtula and you can see the Lebanese border just right across there, across from those concrete barriers. We are just a few hundred feet and what that means is that we are within range of those anti-tank guided missiles, and that is exactly what has wrought this destruction on this civilian home.

DIAMOND (voice-over): The threat of anti-tank missiles is part of why Israel wants to push Hezbollah back to the Litani River, about 18 miles north of the border, outside the range of those missiles.

HERZBERG: OK, we have 35 seconds.

DIAMOND: We've been here for three minutes. The colonel has been watching his watch the entire time that we've been here. And now, he is telling us it is time to go.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Hezbollah has been firing rockets, missiles, and drones at northern Israel since October 8th. Israel has responded with airstrike after airstrike, devastating parts of southern Lebanon where more than 90,000 people have fled their homes since October.

In northern Israel, about 60,000 Israelis have been displaced, people like Ori Eliyahu and his nine dogs. His grandfather was among the first people Israel settled in Shtula in the late 1960s and after spending his summers there as a child, Ori decided to move there.

DIAMOND: Shtula is a special place for you?

ORI ELIYAHU, DISPLACED SHTULA RESIDENT: It is my house, to be honest.

DIAMOND: And if you could return to Shtula, you would?

ELIYAHU: Of course, I will return in the first moment I will be able to, yeah.

DIAMOND (voice-over): But he says that may not be the case for families with children.

ELIYAHU: I don't think that there is a condition that will make them come back because whenever they know that Hezbollah is like Hamas can do what they did on October 7th and attack them, they want to mirror them (ph). And there is no real solution because a big war might ruin everything.

DIAMOND (voice-over): A big war is exactly what the Israeli military is preparing for.

HERZBERG: Our division has been training for this war for a long, long time.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Whether that war materializes is unclear. But for Colonel Herzberg, the objective is obvious, get Israel's northern residents back into their homes.

HERZBERG: Whether that happens before a major ground operation or after ground operation, I can't tell you on a tactical level (inaudible) level or the policy level, but the people are to come back sooner than later.

DIAMOND (voice-over): Jeremy Diamond, CNN, Shtula, Israel.


HILL: And stay with us. "CNN Newsroom" continues after this short break.



HILL: Two giants of European football on a collision course Tuesday evening in Munich, Spain, and France, meeting at the semifinals of the Euro 2024 Championship. After Spain knocked out the host Germany, France qualified by beating Portugal and a penalty shootout after their quarter-final ended without a goal. CNN's Sebastian Shukla is in Munich, ahead of this big match. A little bit of excitement there on the ground.

SEBASTIAN SHUKLA, CNN PRODUCER: There is, the excitement is building, kickoff is going to be at 3 p.m. Eastern Time, which is local time 9:00 p.m. here. And I'm stood right in the center of Munich and you might be able to see from behind me that the fans are slowly gathering here and there has been a bit of a raucous atmosphere, as you can expect. If you were building the perfect day for a semifinal, it would be this -- Munich, 30 degrees, the home of German beer, it is almost perfect.

The bars all along here are full of fans who are looking to get their drinks in before the game starts and what will expect this evening will be France versus Spain, the team who have scored 11 goals from open play and the team who've scored zero goals in open play altogether. They have France (inaudible) have had to rely on two own goals at a penalty from Kylian Mbappe to get themselves this far.

But crucially, in football and in European football, in tournament football, is that you don't have to be prolific scores, but you do have to be able to the keep teams out and France have done that very well, but if they're going to need and if they want to get past Spain, their main man Kylian Mbappe is going to have to show up tonight and he's had struggles with that mask ever since he broke his nose in that first game. So we will have to see how France sets up and how Mbappe comes out and how Didier Deschamps, who said in his press conference earlier this week, that he didn't care if people thought that France's football was boring, you could watch something else.

As to Spain, it's their young boys you've done all of the hard work for them and upfront, in particular, Yamal and Nico Williams, in particular the two real youngsters and standout stars for the Spanish team. But, the Spanish team though has a solid core their Rodri, who is arguably one of the top players in the premier league this year. But they are missing two key players, key two defenders at the back. So, we will see if there is a way that France are able to exploit that and see if there will be victory and if the beer that's being consumed here by these French fans and Spanish fans may be turned to champagne. Erica?

HILL: Yes, an important question, Sebastian with the killer assignment for today, thank you and Allele Blue. Well, it is less free than a traditional companion, but it can navigate via cameras. It's got AI-enabled voice recognition capabilities and researchers in China hope that their robot guide dogs could actually one day help the visually impaired live more independently. CNN's Marc Stewart has this fascinating report.



STEWART (voice-over): Guide dogs are known for their alert eyes and life-saving potential, but now, they may be getting a new image. A Chinese research team is testing a six-legged robot dog on the streets in Shanghai to help visually impaired people. Li Fei and her husband are visually impaired and working with the Jiao Tong University research team to test these robots.

LI FEI, TESTING ROBOT GUIDE DOGS (through translator): For now, I can tell it where I'm going out via voice conversation. I can control the speed with this blind cane I have.

STEWART (voice-over): The robot dog navigates by using cameras and sensors, and recognizes traffic signals which guide dogs can't do. It can communicate with visually impaired people through AI technology and voice recognition and route planning, using listening and speaking capabilities. China has around 17 million visually impaired people according to the China Association of the Blind. 8 million are completely blind says the World Health Organization. But there are only 400 or so guide dogs in the country says the head of the research team.

GAO FENG, PROFESSOR, JIAO TONG UNIVERSITY, SHANGHAI (through translator): It is impossible to solve this problem with guide dogs. Robots are a lot like cars, and I can mass produce them in the same way as cars. It will become more affordable.

STEWART (voice-over): Affordability is a major issue for both dogs and robots. The vast majority of visually impaired people navigate the world without access to highly-trained guide dogs according to Guiding Eyes, a non-profit providing dogs to people with vision loss. Researchers say if these robots are successful and affordable, they could bring a new level of accessibility to visually impaired people. Critics say robots can't adjust to terrain and dangerous situations as easily as dogs can. But despite the pros and cons, researchers believe there is a future for both to exist in harmony.

Marc Stewart, CNN, Beijing.



HILL: John Cena set to say goodbye to the sport that made him a star. The 47-year-old wrestler turned actor announcing he plans to retire from World Wrestling Entertainment next year. He is not gone yet, don't worry. He says he is going to perform 30 to 40 dates through 2025 as he winds down his nearly 25-year pro wrestling career. The 16- time WWE world champ is tied with wrestling legend Ric Flair for the most championships ever. Cena has found, of course, a whole lot of success in recent years in Hollywood with roles in films like "Barbie, The Suicide Squad," and the "Fast & Furious" franchise, also "Daddy's Home 2," excellent Christmas movie.

Thanks so much for joining me here on "CNN Newsroom." I'm Erica Hill. "Connect The World" with Becky Anderson is up next.