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Biden Opens NATO Summit, Hails Alliance, It's Support for Ukraine; No Consensus Among Democrats on Biden's Future; Trump Back on Campaign Trail; Storms, Tornadoes Possible as Beryl Moves North; Israeli Strike Kills 25 at School Complex in Gaza. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 10, 2024 - 04:00   ET




JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Today, NATO is stronger than it's ever been in its history. We chose unity over disunion. Progress over retreat. Freedom over tyranny. Hope over fear.

DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's do another debate this week so that sleepy Joe Biden can prove to everyone all over the world that he has what it takes to be president.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command granted CNN unprecedented access inside the Ghost Rider.


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

MAX FOSTER, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, and welcome to our viewers around the world. I'm Max Foster. It's Wednesday, July the 10th, 9 a.m. here in London, 4 a.m. in Washington, where NATO leaders will get down to business today at the 75th Annual Summit.

U.S. President Joe Biden opened the gathering on Tuesday with a forceful speech meant to assure world leaders and congressional Democrats that he's fit to lead. He praised NATO as stronger than ever and insisted its support for Ukraine would endure. He also announced plans to send new air defense systems to Kyiv.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Our friends, it's good that we're stronger than ever. Ukraine can and will stop Putin, especially with our full collective support. They have our full support.

Americans, they know we're stronger with our friends, and we understand this is a sacred obligation.


FOSTER: Democrats in the House and Senate wrapped up a day of meetings. No closer to consensus on Mr. Biden's political future. Some want him to exit the presidential race. Others say he should stay.


REP. PETER AGUILAR (D-CA): Right now, President Biden is the nominee, and we support the Democratic nominee that will beat Donald Trump.

REP. LLOYD DOGGETT (D-TX): He shouldn't leave a legacy that endangers us, that we surrender to a tyrant.

REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): He just has to step down because he can't win.

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): We're riding with Biden. We're riding with Biden.


FOSTER: More now from CNN Senior White House Correspondent Kayla Tausche.


KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: After more than a week of post-debate damage control and more than 36 hours sprinting to shore up support among his party, President Biden's stepping publicly out onto the world stage to hail a NATO alliance that he says is stronger than ever.

BIDEN: Let's remember the fact that NATO remains the bulwark of global security did not happen by accident. It wasn't inevitable. Again and again at critical moments, we chose unity over disunion, progress over retreat, freedom over tyranny, hope over fear.

Again and again, we stood behind our shared vision of a peaceful and prosperous transatlantic community.

TAUSCHE: That message delivered as much to autocrats around the world as to Biden's political opponents here at home. Former President Donald Trump simply shrugged on the debate stage last month when President Biden asked him whether he would withdraw from the alliance that has banded together and expanded to 32 members to help Ukraine defend itself against Russia.

But now it's President Biden that finds himself on the defense after a debate performance that left his party reeling and soul-searching with many prominent party members discussing whether the top of the ticket needs to be changed.

And while Biden did receive some high-profile support from some critical blocks of lawmakers, there are still some members of his party who want to see more. They need more evidence.

White House officials, for their part, are placated by Biden's performance in his NATO speech, saying that he hit his marks and that it was delivered as planned, with some high moments, including when he delivered the Medal of Freedom to outgoing NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

Even so, members of President Biden's party are focused on one more event this week, and that is a press conference where President Biden, unscripted, will have to take questions from the domestic as well as the global press.

Kayla Tausche, CNN, the White House.


FOSTER: CNN's international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson, joins us now. We're seeing real impact now, aren't we, from that performance and the CNN debate? Because it's distracting.


From a major summit, I'm wondering how world leaders and diplomats are feeling going into this. Are they as concerned about his wellness as, you know, the public and the, you know, the talking press in Washington?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Yes, they're not going public with it. And you heard Olaf Scholz, I think, yesterday, the day before, the German chancellor, say he has seen President Biden and doesn't see any problems there.

But talking to some of the diplomats behind the scenes at the NATO summit who've travelled from Europe, they're concerned not necessarily about Biden and his capabilities. They're obviously concerned about the outcome of the U.S. elections and anything that can potentially bring in Donald Trump to the presidency. That's a concern because he is a quantity that worries them because of his lack of strong support for NATO.

But where they're really worried this week, right now, these days, is that the distraction is all around Biden and how he's doing it. And really what they want to communicate is the strength of NATO, is what NATO's doing on defense and deterrence, and the scale of the challenge that they as nations in NATO face. Upping defense spending, is not just something they feel that they want to be hearing from a U.S. president. It's something they want from their countries because the challenge is so great and that's all getting lost.

FOSTER: So what's the policy that would have been the main focus if it wasn't President Biden?

ROBERTSON: So I think you would be hearing a lot more. The discussion would be about the number of, let's say, air defense systems that are being supplied, about the increase. We heard Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO Secretary General, talk about this, about ramping up and guaranteeing ramped up ammunition supplies from Europe and the United States and how that's happening. A little bit more in the nuts and bolts.

But I think, you know, when you listen to President Zelenskyy, you get a sense of, you know, it's shades of President Zelenskyy at the last NATO summit, where he -- where people kind of felt it was being a bit ungrateful. He wanted too much.

And this time he's saying, look, we can beat Russia and everyone's waiting on November the 4th or the U.S. elections. Everyone's waiting on November for the U.S. elections. But, he said, we need strong leadership.

And again, that's coming out as a sort of, not as a criticism, but as, and not as ungrateful, but it's like essentially he's saying we need more. I think we can play that.


VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT: It's time to sit down, to step out of the shadows, to make strong decisions, work to act and not to wait for November or any other months to this end. We must be strong and uncompromising all together.


ROBERTSON: And it shades the last NATO summit in a way as well for Zelenskyy because he wanted to get that better guarantee of a fast path to NATO membership. And he hasn't got it this time. There'll be language in there that involves the word irreversible path, but that will be balanced, I'm told, against strong language that will talk about the necessary reforms towards democracy within governance of Ukraine.

FOSTER: What about other leadership? Because, you know, it was pretty unsettled in many countries. A new prime minister in the U.K., a very much weakened one traveling over from France.

But a lot of those European nations were sort of unsettled by the European parliamentary elections as well.

ROBERTSON: They were. I think there's still a very strong voices coming from the sort of further east you go or the closer to Russia you go within Europe. I mean, if you listen to what the Poles are saying, they want to increase defense spending even more.

They want to be more ambitious about how Ukraine is defended. If you listen to the leaders in the Baltic states, I think they're still very strongly committed. But yes, when you have big players like Macron going who's weaker, that's a question.

So Keir Starmer, British Prime Minister, first time he'll meet President Biden. He's committing the U.K. to 2.5 GDP defense spending, which is above the current NATO threshold. But Poland, for example, wants to push it up even further, potentially to 3 percent.

So the narrative is from those leaders who are relatively new into the job and have some term left, it is to continue on with NATO and increase its spending because the challenge from Russia has changed and increased and they need to do it. And that's the narrative these ambassadors I'm talking to are worried that is being missed.

It's the message that needs to come out to reach the public because the public needs to understand why the difficult decisions about increasing defense spending.

Big thing for Keir Starmer back home. Everyone's asking when you're going to do it. Former defense chiefs are saying, you know, you need to spend the money on the military now.

NATO sets that narrative. Here's the reason why X, Y, and Z.


But then the narrative becomes about how is President Biden performing?

FOSTER: OK, Nic, thank you.

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is doubling down on her support for Joe Biden.


KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: We always knew this election would be tough and the past few days have been a reminder that running for President of the United States is never easy. But the one thing we know about our President Joe Biden is that he is a fighter. He is a fighter. And he is the first to say when you get knocked down, you get back up.


FOSTER: But three Democratic senators are expressing their doubts about Mr. Biden's political future. Michael Bennett of Colorado tells CNN he doesn't think Mr. Biden can win re-election. A source says Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Jon Tester of Montana told colleagues the same.

In the House, New Jersey Democrat Mikie Sherrill is joining others in her party calling on Mr. Biden to step aside. CNN's Manu Raju has more.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): President Joe Biden is putting Democrats in a jam.

REP. RITCHIE TORRES (D-NY): If the President declines to leave voluntarily, then he's going to be our nominee and we have to make the best of a complicated situation. I think I'm viewing it pragmatically.

CROWD: Joe! Joe! Joe!

RAJU (voice-over): Some resigned to supporting the President even as they fear he may lose to Donald Trump.

REP. SEAN CASTEN (D-IL): The stakes of this are about what is the future for our country in two different scenarios. And I think there's a lot of concern about will we be able to have that conversation in this media environment? But, my God, that's the conversation we have to have.

RAJU: Do you support keeping him on the top of the ticket, Biden?

CASTEN: That's all I have to say.

RAJU (voice-over): In their first in-person meeting today since Biden's debate debacle, House and Senate Democrats aired out their grievances and left with no consensus.

REP. MARC VEASEY (D-TX): My concerns are the concerns that everybody has. What I said this morning and expressed to my colleagues, particularly for members on the front line, is that I think they need to do whatever it is they need to do in order to come back and be re- elected. And so, if they need to, you know, distance themselves, then that's what they need to do.

RAJU (voice-over): Yet some, like Congressman Jerry Nadler, now say they are on board with Biden, despite privately calling for a change on Sunday.

REP. JERRY NADLER (D-NY): He made very clear he's going to run. He's got an excellent record, one of the most existential presidents of the last century. Trump would be an absolute disaster for democracy, so I'm enthusiastically supporting Biden.

RAJU: What did you say on the call on Sunday?

NADLER: I'm not going to comment on what I said on a private call.

RAJU (voice-over): Several Democrats pointedly refused to say if they supported keeping Biden atop the ticket.

RAJU: Mr. Goldman, do you support keeping Biden as your nominee?

REP. DAN GOLDMAN (D-NY): No comment.

RAJU: Do you support keeping Biden at the top of the ticket?


Do you think that Biden should stay as your nominee?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love that tie.

RAJU (voice-over): Biden has won strong support from senior members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): All I can tell you is I am a big supporter of Biden. I --

RAJU: What about the people who believe that he's going to lose?

WATERS: I am going to work as hard as I can for him. Biden is going to win. The team Biden-Harris is going to win, win, win.

RAJU (voice-over): In the Senate, Democrats like Patty Murray raising deep concerns about Biden's viability, while some standing firmly by him, including Bob Casey facing a tight race in Battleground, Pennsylvania.

RAJU: Do you support keeping Biden at the top of the ticket?

SEN. ROBERT CASEY JR. (D-PA): Well, I've said so numerous times. You heard my remarks over a week ago in Scranton.

RAJU: The other concern is that he could sink vulnerable Democrats like yourself. What do you say to that?

CASEY: I'll leave that to the pundits.

RAJU (voice-over): Following an intense afternoon meeting with Senate Democrats, Chuck Schumer, the Senate Majority Leader, would only say this about Biden.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), U.S. SENATE MAJORITY LEADER: I'm with Joe. I'm with Joe. As I've said before, I'm with Joe.


FOSTER: Well, former South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is releasing all her delegates to the Republican National Convention. She's also urging them to support former U.S. President Donald Trump. The convention kicks off in Milwaukee next week, but Haley hasn't been invited.

Haley was the last major candidate to withdraw from the GOP. Nominating contest was among Trump's biggest rivals in the Republican primary.


NIKKI HALEY, (R) FORMER SOUTH CAROLINA GOVERNOR: We can't have someone who sits there and mocks our men and women who are trying to protect America.

HALEY: There is no way that the American people are going to vote for a convicted criminal. They're not.

HALEY: You've got to acknowledge the fact he can't win a general election.


FOSTER: Well, meanwhile, Donald Trump is campaigning in Florida. Well, he was on Tuesday. During the rally, he took aim at President Joe Biden, even challenging him to another debate.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's do another debate this week so that sleepy Joe Biden can prove to everyone all over the world that he has what it takes to be president. But this time it will be man-to-man, no moderators, no holes barred. Just name the place, anytime, anywhere.



FOSTER: Well, Senator Marco Rubio, a potential VP pick, was with Trump at the rally as he continues to build up suspense on who will be his running mate. Rubio also slammed President Biden, seizing on the turmoil currently gripping the Democratic Party.


SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): They're watching this thing in Beijing. They're watching it in Moscow. They're watching it in Havana. They're watching it in Caracas. They're watching it in Iran. And they're saying, that guy's the president? That guy? We're going to invade tomorrow. That's what I would do, you know, you're thinking.

That's the danger that we're in.


FOSTER: CNN's Kristen Holmes has this report.


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN U.S. NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Former President Donald Trump did not announce during his Doral rally who was going to be his vice presidential pick, but did do something else. He notably went after Vice President Kamala Harris for the first time, as questions continue to surround whether or not President Joe Biden will stay on the ticket. Take a listen.

TRUMP: But whatever else can be said about crooked Joe Biden, you have to give him credit for one brilliant decision, probably the smartest decision he's ever made. He picked Kamala Harris as his vice president. No, it was brilliant, because it was an insurance policy, maybe the best insurance policy I've ever seen, Marco.

If Joe had picked someone even halfway competent, they would have bounced him from office years ago, but they can't.

HOLMES: Now, this is particularly significant, given the fact that Donald Trump and his team have been watching carefully what is happening with the Democratic Party and what is happening with the Democratic ticket amid calls for Biden to step down.

Now, on vice president, while Donald Trump did not make his announcement, Senator Marco Rubio, one of the top contenders, was here in the crowd. His family was here, and he actually spoke before the former president.

Trump seemed to have teased Rubio at one point, saying that he believed that all the media was here at this event because they thought he was going to announce that Marco Rubio was his vice presidential pick. As we have been reporting, he has to make that announcement before next Monday, but one source telling me that announcement could come as late as Monday night. So, another day goes by, and we are still waiting to hear who the person is and when that announcement is coming.

Kristen Holmes, CNN, Miami, Florida.


FOSTER: Now, some parts of the U.S. are facing severe weather this week. Flash flood watches have been issued for parts of New Mexico for Wednesday after storms dumped heavy rains over the mountain village of Ruidoso.

Ruidoso has been facing severe weather for weeks now. The National Weather Service says some areas have received up to two inches or more than 50 millimeters of rain per hour. The same region has been fighting wildfires. New Mexico officials have determined one of two large fires in the area was caused by a lightning strike. The cause of the other fire is under investigation.

It could take weeks for Texas to fully restore power, knocked out by Beryl, which made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane just days ago. The remnants of the storm have moved north, posing a threat of storms and tornadoes to states from Pennsylvania to New York.

More than 1.7 million customers in Texas still don't have electricity, according to tracking website And it's easy to see why, because Beryl ripped through the state with high winds and heavy rains downing trees and flooding streets. The storm even damaged the roof of Houston's NRG Stadium, home to the NFL's Houston Texans. Amid the cleanup, Houston's mayor is holding utility companies responsible for fixing the damage in a timely manner.


JOHN WHITMIRE, HOUSTON, TEXAS MAYOR: Yes, we are holding CenterPoint accountable. I've had a commitment from them that they will restore over a million users of electricity by this time tomorrow.


FOSTER: Parts of Texas are also under a heat advisory. The National Weather Service warns those without power are at greater risk and should take precautions. The remnants of Beryl continue to bring the threat of tornadoes and severe storms as the system moves north.

CNN meteorologist Chad Myers has more.


CHAD MYERS, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Unfortunately, more severe weather likely today across parts of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New York. Let me get to where the radar is, moving on up into heavy rain into Michigan, also into Ontario. But big, bright colors there right across upstate New York into New England, and really starting over Pennsylvania as well. Could be some heavy rainfall. I don't think flooding is the main issue today, but it will be that potential for some of the storms again to be spinning, especially in the area right through here. The main threat will be damaging winds, but an isolated tornado, certainly not out of the question.


Still, many people here in parts of Texas without power. Heat index again this afternoon, all the way back to 105 degrees. Now, the main heat is back out to the west.

Yes, it's warm in the northeast, but not like we're talking about out west. We are going to be in the 90s again today. But out here, literally almost everyone will be closer to 100 unless you're right along that cool Pacific Ocean.

Yes, Seattle, you're going to be in the 80s, a little bit warmer down toward Portland. But as soon as you get into California, all of a sudden, every temperature is above 100. Every temperature is above 100 for days and days and days to go. This is a brutal heat wave. Even Las Vegas, 118 later on this afternoon. I know you've been 120, but 118 is close enough.


FOSTER: Still ahead, an Israeli strike hit a school where Palestinian officials say displaced people were seeking shelter. We'll have a live report.

Later, how Nepal's army is dealing with the trash problem on Mount Everest.

Plus, Spain beat France to reach the final of the Euro 2024 championship. It was incredible. Details just ahead.



FOSTER: Optimism about a Gaza ceasefire and hostage release deal is waning as Israel wraps up military operations in the enclave. The Palestinian Health Ministry says at least 25 people were killed and more than 50 others wounded in an Israeli airstrike on a school in Khan Younis. The IDF says it was targeting a terrorist accused of taking part in the October 7th attack.

But Gaza officials say the schoolhouse displaced people. Israel's military says it's looking into reports that civilians were harmed.

Meanwhile, the U.S. CIA director is in Doha, in Qatar, to continue talks on a potential Gaza ceasefire and hostage deal. Bill Burns will meet with Qatar's Prime Minister, the head of Israel's spy agency, and the head of Egyptian intelligence. Burns discussed the negotiations with Egypt's president in Cairo on his way to Qatar, but several hurdles remain after the Israeli government put out a statement saying it will not abandon key principles.

CNN's Scott McLean is following developments from Istanbul, Turkey -- Scott.

SCOTT MCLEAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey Max, yes, there was quite a bit of optimism for these talks, less so now. I'll explain.

So over the weekend, Hamas had announced that it was willing to forego one of its non-negotiable demands. Previously non-negotiable, which was that any ceasefire that it would agree to must be a permanent one. Many people looked at that and figured there might be a chance for a real breakthrough here, a chance to actually make a deal.

But as you pointed out, over the weekend on Sunday, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, seemed to move the goalpost back, insisting that one of his non-negotiables, among a handful of other things, was maintaining some level of control over the Gaza border with Egypt.

Part of the problem here is that there are parts of Netanyahu's right- wing coalition, far-right parts of that coalition, that do not want to see a peace proposal, at least the one in its current form. And so if Netanyahu would sign this, it would risk toppling his own government.

The other problem is that there have been an increase in Israeli attacks in Gaza, an evacuation of Gaza City, for instance. Hamas said had brought the talks back to point zero.

On top of that, there have been four bombings of schools inside Gaza in the last four days, something that the UNRWA chief called a blatant disregard for international law.

And the U.S. State Department spokesperson was asked yesterday on CNN whether the U.S. is comfortable with this level of civilian casualties that we saw at this latest school bombing that killed 25 people, injured dozens more. And the answer was no. But he also made clear that the U.S. plan to make the civilian casualties stop is to get this peace deal. Listen.


MATTHEW MILLER, STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESPERSON: I think it's important to note that civilian casualties have come down dramatically over the past few months from the really catastrophic levels that they were at earlier this year and, of course, late last year. But we want to see civilian casualties completely go away. And that is why we are pushing so hard to have people in the region right now working to try to achieve a ceasefire that would secure the release of hostages, that would alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people, that would allow us to surge humanitarian assistance.


MCLEAN: So, in response to the latest school bombing, the government in Gaza called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to end this war. The difficulty, though, at least according to a former Israeli hostage negotiator who spoke to CNN this week, is that any pressure that President Biden might put on Prime Minister Netanyahu isn't going to be as effective as perhaps it once was because of Biden's weakened standing at home, given that abysmal debate performance not long ago -- Max.

FOSTER: Scott McLean in Istanbul. Thank you.

The U.S. set to permanently remove the floating pier off the coast of Gaza as soon as next week. It was being used to deliver life-saving humanitarian aid to the enclave but had been plagued by rough seas, forcing it to shut down multiple times. The Pentagon says it will deploy the pier one final time to deliver any remaining aid.

Nearly 20 million pounds of humanitarian aid have been delivered to Gaza since the pier became operational, though, in mid-May.

Still ahead, U.S. President Joe Biden welcomes NATO leaders to Washington. What he's saying about the strength of the alliance and its support for Ukraine.

Plus, a massive U.S. Air Force plane takes part in live fire exercises above the Korean Peninsula. How the U.S. hopes it will bring stability to the region ahead.