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How Biden And Trump Are Preparing For Next Week's CNN Debate; Today: Supreme Court Expected To Announce Opinions; Musk's Mission To Woo Back Advertisers After "Go F*** Yourself". Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 20, 2024 - 06:30   ET




MANU RAJU, CNN ANCHOR: It is officially crunch time for President Biden and former President Trump as they prepare for the first presidential debate at CNN's Atlanta studios exactly one week from today.

And this morning, CNN has new reporting about how exactly the two candidates are readying themselves for what is likely to be a hostile rematch. Both candidates huddling around advisers and close conference for prep sessions as they work towards the ultimate goal, which, of course, is painting their opponent is presiding over disorder and also being unfit for office.

Joining me now is CNN White House correspondent Arlette Saenz and CNN national politics reporter, Steve Contorno.

Good morning to you both.

Arlette, first to you. What is President Biden's strategy going into the debate?

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Manu, President Biden will depart Rehoboth Beach, Delaware a bit later this evening and head straight to Camp David, where he is expected to hunker down with top aides heading into next week's debate.

The ultimate goal for President Biden is really trying to paint Trump as chaotic and divisive. And he and his advisors will really drill in on their debate preparations in the coming days, sources tell us it's expected that they will start with some informal discussions talking about possible topics and ways to answer the questions that could come up before a transitioning to more fulsome 90-minute mock debates.

That is something that President Biden has done in many of his past debate preparations, and aides have already started compiling binders of topics possible questions and ways that the president could answer them.

The president is known to offer detailed feedback in these types of sessions. Now, this debate prep is being led by his former chief of staff, Ron Klain, his deputy chief of staff, Bruce Reed, who focuses a lot on policy, has actually been here in Rehoboth Beach with the president. He has been tasked with going through materials of what Trump has said, watching hours of tape as they're trying to find ways to counter Trump on the debate stage. It is also possible that his -- the president's personal lawyer, Bob Bauer, could potentially pay play Trump in mock debates as he did in 2020.

Now there already have been some prep sessions underway and in those meetings, sources say, the president has really been focused on finding ways to hold Trump accountable on the debate stage, one campaign official saying that Biden has been a lot punchier in his attacks against Trump on the campaign trail. And that is something that they are hoping will continue into this debates.

But, of course, the stakes for this debate are incredibly high. Was the Biden campaign who had gone to the Trump campaign saying, hey, let's have an earlier debates. They really view this has an opportunity to present the American people, not just with Biden's policies, but really trying to offer that contrast with Trump as there has been this belief among his advisers that once people start to remember what the four years of a Trump presidency was would like, that could potentially turn this race. So that's something that they're really hoping to drive in there contracts heading into November.

RAJU: You know, and, Steve, Trump likes to say, and his advisers like to say that he doesn't really need debate prep.


But there really is debate prep happening with Trump at this moment.

Here's a question for you, though, with this being a debate where the microphones will be muted when he's not speaking, how does that affect Trump's strategy?

STEVE CONTORNO, CNN NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER: Yeah, that'll be really interesting to watch, Manu, because Donald Trump is not going to be holding the debate mock sessions that President Biden is holding, and he has often said that his rallies are his best practice for these debates and he will be holding a rally on Saturday in Philadelphia.

Now, there has always been some disconnect between what the former presidents says about his debate prep and what actually happens behind the scenes in the past, for example, he has held debate the mock sessions with Chris Christie and Rudy Giuliani, those individuals though are obviously no longer in the picture. Chris Christie was one of his opponents, who is very vocally against him this cycle.

So instead he has been held in sort of informal policy sessions bringing in, some of the people that he is considering for his running mate, including Senator JD Vance of Ohio, Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. He's also brought an individuals like Senator Eric Schmitt of Missouri, some former advisors like Kellyanne Conway, Stephen Miller, and they're talking the former president through a whole bunch of issues, economy, border crime, abortion, the wars in Gaza and Ukraine, and trying to get him up to speed on some of the talking points they expect from President Biden.

And he's also been focusing on how -- sharpening his responses to how they expect that some of the issues that come up in January 6, as well as these convictions that he is just faced in this trial that has really kept him off the campaign trail and has made it difficult for him prepare for this debate leading into next week.

RAJU: Yeah, everyone, we'll be watching.

All right, CNN's Arlette Saenz and Steve Contorno, thank you both.

And it's decision day at the Supreme Court, although we do not know which opinions the court rule will release today. Several major cases remain outstanding.

They include former President Trump's claim of immunity from criminal prosecution, a battle between the Biden administration and Idaho over emergency room abortions, and a fight over whether January 6 defendants will face obstruction charges.

My panels back.

So, Elliot, the lawyer in the room --

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALSYT: Lawyer at the garden party.

RAJU: The lawyer at the garden party, what, obviously, you're on pins and needles today.

WILLIAMS: Pins and needles.

RAJU: What do we expect from the Supreme Court?

WILLIAMS: Well, we don't know because they could have any number of big hearing, opinion released days today, tomorrow into July.

Now, obviously, you've said the January 6 case is a big one, only insofar as how does the court handle it, they can give a full victory to Donald Trump and calling him immune from prosecution. I highly doubt that will happen based on how the oral argument met.

A full victory to the special prosecutor, I don't think that's going to happen either. My guess based on how oral argument when is that they'll send it back down to the judge, Judge Tanya Chutkan, to decide what -- which actions of the former president might count as official actions, which ones might count as personal, private actions? Which will just in practice and a lot add much more time.

RAJU: Yeah, and that's the whole goal. This is "The New York Times" op-ed writes about this, a liberal op-ed page for "The New York Times" writing that even if the court rules that Mr. Trump has limited or no immunity, it is unlikely a verdict will be delivered before the election. I mean, that is the goal here.

WILLIAMS: Can I give you a hot take here?

RAJU: Yeah, of course.

WILLIAMS: It doesn't matter if the case happens before the election because it matters to voters and I know Kate just --



WILLIAMS: No, no, no, it does for what people care about.

RAJU: Yeah.

WILLIAMS: You know, it's an important issue for voters, for the political system and so on. But we can't graft the legal calendar onto the political calendar. They exist separately of each other.

Now it happens that individual who's running for president is tied up in a lot of litigation right now. But this idea that somehow courts need to bend the knee to the political process, I think to me, is a bad idea.

RAJU: But the perception among voters is that the Supreme Court is listening to the political calendar, right?

LEAH WRIGHT RIGUEUR, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST & HISTORY: Absolutely. And the Supreme Court has given them a lot of reasons to think that. And I think one of the things that we know is that over the course of the last really 50 years, where the Supreme Court has shifted from this, we are objective, we are above, we are a political to explicitly saying, you know, actually we don't care, right? We can do what we want, who's going to check us, who's going to put us in, who's going to put us in, you know, under observation or accountability. One of the things that we've seen is that the American public has increasingly lost trust in the Supreme Court as an -- as an institution.

But I think to Elliot's point, you know, the Supreme Court is not necessarily a Democratic political institution. It, in fact, is perhaps the opposite of that. And in some cases we do need that.

RAJU: Democrats in small D.

RIGUEUR: Right, maybe -- correct.

But one of the things that it does then I think is really important here is that it -- I think is designed to really exist outside of the political system, even as the actors within are political themselves.


And that's how it's going to play.

RAJU: I want to ask just like, you know, as Elliot talking about the political calendar versus not political calendar. If Trump is -- wins some sort of victory here, whether its as immunity claims are just delaying until after the election, that's bad news for the Biden campaign, is that not bad news for the Biden campaign?

BEDINGFIELD: I think it's -- look, there should be -- I would -- I absolutely here, Elliot's point. I do think that voters deserve to see this case adjudicated before the election because it goes to Trump's fitness to hold office.

And so, I think, you know, there's a reason that voters should have this information. Ideally, yes, the court would here this before and make a decision -- sorry, not hear it, but make a decision before November. If it doesn't, I don't think that changes the way that Bi -- the Biden campaign argues about Trump's unfitness. I mean, we've seen a conviction already obviously in the hush money case, so he is a convicted felon and the Biden campaign can say that and is saying that I don't think that it dramatically changes people it was perception of Donald Trump as dishonest, you know, willing to break the law, frankly, to do what benefits him and that portrait of Trump is the way that the Biden campaign is talking about it.

RAJU: But there are Republicans --

BEDINGFIELD: So, I don't know that not getting a decision -- I should -- to circle back to your question. I don't know that not getting a decision is like in some way devastating for the Biden campaign. I don't think it changes the way that they talk about Donald Trump.

RAJU: What do you think?

LANCE TROVER, FORMER SPOKESPERSON, BURGUM PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I didn't think I'd come on here and Kate and I be agreeing.



RAJU: But there are Republicans who fear the immunity case, the -- sorry, the January 6 case, and the classified documents case. I think it's much more serious than the hush money case. If that were to become a verdict, come to verdict before November, maybe they'll have a different impact among voters.

TROVER: It's a big -- it just doesn't seem likely at this point that that's going to happen. Yeah. I mean, I just not sure that it really voters are kind of baked in with particularly with their opinions of both of these guys. So I'm just not sure that it's --

WILLIAMS: Yeah. Let me -- tell me --

TROVER: Both topics politically here.


WILLIAMS: Let me add to what I said a little because I don't want to suggest that I live in fantasy land, that the politics don't matter. But seriously think about it, and to Kate's point, if there were a question of Donald Trump's fitness to serve in office, voters had an opportunity to decide on that in 2016, and chose to go a certain direction. In 2020, they had another opportunity to do so, and chose to go a different way, 2021 after January 6, there were many questions, including from Republican senators about Donald Trump's fitness for office.

So the idea that merely because the litigation process is playing out on the timeline, that it was naturally supposed to play out on which the things take a long time to get to court, the idea that now voters are at some grade disadvantage based on the legal system. To me is wrong.

But again, I recognize that again, this is not fantasy see lawyer land, and we have an election coming off that people really care about.

RAJU: And I have a feeling that were not going to get that opinion today. They're going to let us and wait and wait --

WILLIAMS: The final -- and remember --

RAJU: -- and wait until maybe July, we'll get the opinion.

WILLIAMS: And, remember, there's a firearms -- a question about access -- domestic violence and firearms, which --

RAJU: Yeah, the abortion case.

WILLIAMS: -- and the domestic violence one also ties into Hunter Biden's matter a little bit because that's the same statute, the abortion case, there's a lot coming up.

RAJU: All right. Lot to watch.

All right. Next, Elon Musk changing his tune after telling advertisers to go F themselves.

Plus, a new low in partisan politics. Wait until you see what one Republican lawmakers got caught doing to a Democrat.



RAJU: All right, 47 minutes past the hour. Here's your morning roundup.

Louisiana public schools are now required to display the Ten Commandments in all classrooms. A new law mandates a poster-size display with, quote, large, easily -- easily readable font and every school that receives state funding from kindergarten through the university level.

Police are looking for a suspect in connection with a double homicide in Oklahoma. He is considered armed and dangerous and was last seen in across the state line in Arkansas. Bodies of an adult male and female were found in a business Tuesday night in Gans, Oklahoma. And if you want to know just how low some politicians will go these days, take a look at hidden camera video of Vermont Republican Mary Ann, pouring water into the bag of Democrat Jim Carroll in the state house. She got caught doing it several times over five months. I just over this just offered this apology before the entire legislature.


MARY ANN MORRISSEY (R), VERMONT STATE HOUSE: I hope Jim, our legislative colleagues, all of our state house staff, and those who work in this bill and the citizens of Vermont can forgive me.

JIM CARROLL (D), VERMONT STATE HOUSE: You know, after five months of that and it was -- it was torment. There's no doubt about it, with me anyway. There -- there's going to be some work to be done between the two of us.


RAJU: He didn't say, perhaps not the best its advice you would give as a political adviser to do that to your political opponent.

TROVER: I don't typically know.


TROVER: Stealing yard signs, maybe that's --

WILLIAMS: I think that's a pretty legendary way to punk somebody though, like I've never thought to dump a cup of water into someone's duffel bag and I got to respect that. You know, tip your hat.

BEDINGFIELD: Its' kind of innovative.

RAJU: I'm just surprised this has not happened in the House of Representatives yet. I mean --

BEDINGFIELD: That we know of.

RAJU: That we know of.

BEDINGFIELD: Just giving them ideas.

RAJU: But the hidden camera that it helps, you know, it will reveal the -- what the -- what happened here.

So well see if there'll be more hidden cameras. Let's see, anyways, we'll see.

BEDINGFIELD: I want to know, wait, was the hidden camera place to catch her in the act? Or was this just a surveillance camera? I need to know more about -- I need to know more about this thing.

RAJU: Very good question, but either way, there was a mere culpa offer because obviously they were guilty.


All right. Okay. Turning back now to the 2024 presidential race and next week's highly anticipated CNN debate between former President Biden and former President Trump. Over the past weeks, both candidates have been huddling with advisors and fine tuning their message on a wide range of key issues, from the economy, to foreign affairs, to each other's fitness for office.

But as "The New York Times" reporter, Maggie Haberman, says to CNN, there's one issue that perhaps looms above the rest.


MAGGIE HABERMAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: For Biden. They are focusing on various issues that could come up, abortion, health care, energy, COVID, and then very specifically in this was one thing that came up last Thursday, what Trump will say when asked January 6 related questions.


RAJU: All right. Joining me now is Republican election attorney Ben Ginsberg.

Ben, so thanks so much for joining me this morning.

You specialized in election integrity laws. So what is your advice for President Biden, if there is a scenario in which she and Trump relitigate the 2020 election results and January 6?

BEN GINSBERG, REPUBLICAN ELECTION LAWYER: He's going to tap into what a reservoir in the country of thinking that Donald Trump has gone too far in an election integrity and talking about the 2020 election. Being out there in the country, what you see is a real split between people, and advocates locked into their own camps.

But with MAGA adjacent constituency especially in the key suburbs, who think that maybe all this talk about elections, the basic institutions of election Russians has gone too far. And so I suspect President Biden will appear to those people who believe in their communities, the integrity of elections recognize the importance of accurate elections and reliable elections and don't want their communities to dissolve into a lot of the trauma that we saw in 2020.

RAJU: Yeah, I look at it as we know, Trump has been dealing in this debate prep talking about how to respond to those January 6 question.

So I mean, how does Trump I mean, given the fact that increasingly he seems to have been almost embracing what happened on January 6, how does he respond when this topic inevitably comes up?

GINSBERG: I think he does what he's been doing all along, which is sort of taken offensive posture. He's going to say that the people who went into the Capitol were patriots, that the election was unfair. And in other words, the Trump rhetoric, without any evidence to back it up, has painted him into a bit of a corner on what he can say on a debate stage to a very broad audience.

And he's going to have trouble pivoting from the message he wants to give to his rallies where people go wild and lied to what sort of Americans who aren't part of the writing crew. Think, especially the swing voters that several hundred thousand swing voters in six or seven key states. And those people hear the rhetoric about January 6, much differently from the self selected group that goes to Trump rallies.

RAJU: And I suspect we'll hear Joe Biden talking about Donald Trump being a convicted felon, and I suspect Donald Trump will turn around and say, well, you're son, hunter Biden, has been convicted of a felony, felonies as well so if when Biden gets hit by Trump on this, what is your advice on how he should respond?

GINSBERG: Well, I think he says that I went through and my son stood the force law accepted the rule of law, and the decision whereas even though you been convicted, Donald Trump, and you lost those 64 court cases around the last election. You refuse to accept the rule of law. That's a basic principle on which this country operates, and you continue to violate it with this inaccurate rhetoric of yours.

RAJU: All right. So, during the candidate -- during the debate, the candies are likely to discuss abortion, which is a key campaign issue, of course, the Supreme Court expected to release a decision soon about hospitals ability to provide abortions in an emergency. We didn't really get an ideological answer on the mifepristone question when this ruling was based on the grounds that dark -- those doctors did not have the right to sue. So what are you expecting in this Idaho abortion case?

GINSBERG: I would be surprised if the Supreme Court dove to the extreme on this. And so I think there will be a similar nine ideological decision on that, but its the Supreme Court and whoever knows, but the court I think realizes and has seen the problems of being painted into an ideological corner and how that can take away public credibility from the court's decision.

They'll try to avoid that I think in the abortion decision and as well with the presidential immunity case.


RAJU: Yeah. So much to watch out for and we know you'll be tracking it.

Ben Ginsberg, thank you for joining me this morning.

GINSBERG: Thanks, Manu.

RAJU: And turning out to the world of tech, where billionaire Elon Musk is on an apology tour of sorts, trying to woo back advertisers -- yes, the same advertisers he flipped off last November in this infamous moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) MODERATOR: There was advertisers leaving. We talked about --

ELON MUSK, BILLIONAIRE: I hope they stop.

MODERATOR: You hope --

MUSK: Don't advertise.

MODERATOR: You don't want them to advertise?


MODERATOR: What do you mean?

MUSK: If somebody could try to blackmail me with advertising, blackmailing with money? Go (EXPLETIVE DELETED) yourself.




RAJU: All right. Musk made those comments after a number of big brands pulled their advertising from X in the fall amid complaints that their ads are appearing next to white supremacist content on the platform, after met himself, Musk himself spread an antisemitic conspiracy post.

Now, Musk is softening his language and saying this about those remarks.


MUSK: This wasn't to the advertiser -- to ever -- advertisers as a whole. Advertisers have a right to appear next to content that they find compatible with their brands. That's totally fine. What is not cool is insisting that there can be no content that they disagree with on the platform.


RAJU: So I'm no a business guy, but I did get a business major, but I don't remember studying about cursing people giving you money.

WILLIAMS: Generally you should not, although you could just do like when I'm texting, I meant to say ducking. And I think that's what he could say there. I wasn't saying any bad word, I think, you know, just hide behind the A.I.

But no, it's hard to like if you're an advertiser, do you go back and it's an open question as to when yes, there might be a business reason for someone to advertise on X. A lot of people look at it, but you're also fueling someone who has contempt for your business. I don't know.

RAJU: And there were lots of big brands that pulled from advertising on X last fall, Disney, Warner Bros Discovery, was our company of CNN, of course, Paramount, Sony, Comcast. Universal and the like.

Do you think that they go back now that he offered this, you know, mea culpa of sorts?

TROVER: He recognizes he made a mistake. I -- this is still a site, I don't know about you all. I still go to it for news instantly. Reporters are constantly putting stuff out there on it.

So it's a site about free speech. It's a site of -- you know, and look, he's clearly made some mistakes. He is acknowledging that. So I could see advertisers coming back.


WILLIAMS: It's free speech that's gotten way more toxic since he took over, without question, and everybody on this panel --

BENDINGFIELD: And way less usable. I mean, it's -- yes, people will go for breaking news because there's sort of condition to, I think, but it is -- it is much, it is a much less useful product now than it was. You know, it's hard to identify who is a verified user, who's putting genuine content out there.

And so from an advertising perspective, you know, in addition to the risk of your company being advertised next to really horrific but white supremacist content, it's also just a less useful product. So I don't know that the case to go back -- the business case to go back is that strong

RIGUEUR: This is absolutely -- this is a desperation move. And so, part of this is that the official numbers came out from Twitter, or X, whatever we're calling it, and it shows that compared to a year ago, it has lost 40 percent of its revenue. And that's purely from advertisers.

So what we have is Elon musk going back, he's groveling and saying I'm sorry, I'm going to turn this into Venmo or PayPal to 2.0. And there'll be lots of different things in lots of different tools.

But he has not solved the problem that were all concerned about in that advertisers were concerned about Twitter/X is still a cesspool. It is not a democratic platform in that idea of free speech doesn't actually exist.

And I think it's -- you know, there's a little bit of irony, perhaps in somebody like Elon Musk championing this idea of it as being a platform for free speech, while also simultaneously saying we shouldn't allow people who are woke, right, or who endorse DEI agendas to actually speak.

So, I don't see -- if I'm an advertiser. There is no benefit right now to jumping back in when nothing has changed.

WILLIAMS: To Kate's point about it being more or less usable, great personal example. I was looking up for something related to the Supreme Court I'm just curious. Wait, is there a Supreme Court account and typed it in and there's all these clowns with verified, quote/unquote, accounts now, you know, Supreme Court info, Supreme Court this, Supreme Court news that aren't actually the entity.

At least in the prior scheme, there was a way to know that who you were hearing from was who you were hearing from the information that came out of them was accurate. Now I recognize the need for a, quote/unquote, free speech, as it's presented on the platform, but it's just -- that's not how its playing out.

TROVER: There's real competition to this at this point though. I mean, there are competitors, but no ones really top them --


TROVER: -- in terms of -- that's the one thing of why advertisers might still go back.


RAJU: But the revenue generation, if you look at that now versus then 2022, $1.4 billion in the first six months of 2023 under Musk, down 40 percent from the same period in 2022 before Musk. So, clearly, there are some issues here.

BEDINGFIELD: Yes. I mean, he has -- he has broken what was once a successful and prominent business essentially, and I'm not sure it -- and done it in service of advancing some of these really hateful, really disgusting, really awful accounts.

RAJU: And he spent a lot of money to buy it.


RAJU: All right. Thank you, panel, for joining me this morning and thank you for joining us. I'm Manu Raju.

"CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.