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CNN This Morning

New York Times Editorial Board Calls On Biden To Leave The Race; Biden Holding Events Today As Campaign Tries To Move Past Debate; Supreme Court Limits Obstruction Charges Against January 6th Rioters; Biden Acknowledges Weak Debate Performance: "I know I'm Not A Young Man"; Iran's Presidential Election Goes To Runoff; DNA Test Helps Catch Shark Fin Smugglers. Aired 7-8a ET

Aired June 29, 2024 - 07:00   ET




CHAD MYERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: NOAA has issued an above-normal Atlantic hurricane forecast with up to 25 named storms, eight to 13 potential hurricanes, and four to seven of those becoming major hurricanes. Now, is the time to prepare for all the tropical hazards from storm surge to wind damage to inland freshwater flooding. All hazards will be in play this year with flooding possible hundreds of miles from the coast, far away from any landfall. Chad Myers, CNN, Atlanta.


ISABEL ROSALES, CNN ANCHOR: And hey, don't miss an all-new episode of "VIOLENT EARTH: HURRICANE," tomorrow night at 9:00 Eastern and Pacific, right here on CNN. Another hour of CNN THIS MORNING starts right now.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to CNN THIS MORNING. It is Saturday, June 29th. I'm Victor Blackwell.

ROSALES: And I'm Isabel Rosales in for Amara Walker. Thank you for joining us this morning. It's been just a little bit busy.

BLACKWELL: It has been a week around here.

ROSALES: We are catching up on our rest.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we are.

ROSALES: All right. Well, President Biden is back on the campaign trail today. He is in New York for several campaign appearances this morning and will make stops in New Jersey this afternoon.

His team is scrambling to do damage control after a damning op-ed from the New York Times editorial board. The board joined the chorus of voices calling on Biden to step aside after his performance in Thursday's CNN presidential debate. In the op-ed, the board said dropping out would be the greatest public

service he could now perform. But in a Friday rally, the president appeared much more animated, admitting his performance was lackluster, but that he was still ready for the challenge.

BLACKWELL: An adviser tells CNN that he's planning on debating a second time in September. And former President Trump is not campaigning this weekend. He made a stop in Virginia Friday. He took a victory lap during a rally with supporters in Chesapeake.


DONALD TRUMP, 45TH U.S. PRESIDENT: As every American saw firsthand last night, this election is a choice between strength and weakness, competence and incompetence, peace and prosperity, or war or no war.


BLACKWELL: He also told supporters that he doesn't think that President Biden will drop out of the race. He says his poll numbers are better than other contenders.


TRUMP: He does better in polls than any of the Democrats they're talking about. You've seen that, Glenn. These polls come out with some of the names that are being like Gavin Newsom. He can't run California. He's one of the worst governors.

Then of course, Kamala is somebody that will be on this go.


BLACKWELL: And during the rally, he downplayed the president's age, playing into his performance instead. Trump himself is only three years younger than President Biden, who is 81. And the president's team says that he's taken his debate performance on the nose, but moving on to the rest of the election season. Joining us now is CNN's Camila DeChalus. So, how is the campaign handling all of this?

CAMILA DECHALUS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Campaign officials tell us that Biden has absolutely no plans to drop out of the race, and remains even more committed to being the Democratic front runner and running for presidency. Now on Friday, Biden held a campaign rally where he acknowledged his weak debate performance. Take a listen.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: I know I'm not a young man. Let's state obvious. I don't walk as easy as I used to. I don't speak as smoothly as I used to. I don't debate as well as I used to. But I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth. I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done.


DECHALUS: Now, it's important to note that his remarks that he made at the rally kind of echo the sentiment that we've been hearing from campaign officials and White House officials, and that is, they believe that his debate performance that took place for about 90 minutes shouldn't overshadow or diminish what he's done while taking office and shouldn't diminish his track record while he's been in the Oval Office for more than three years and the legislation that he's put forth.

And they really want to remind voters going forward that Biden has really had this track record where he's pushed forth legislation that has their best interests at heart and that is what should be the focus, not on his weak debate performance or what they've considered not to be really sufficient to really show what he stands for. And that's what they're going to continue reiterating to voters going forward.

ROSALES: All right, Camila DeChalus, thank you so much for your time and expertise. Let's bring in Tia Mitchell, Washington Correspondent with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, to break this down for us. Tia, good morning.


ROSALES: Thank you for joining us. It is damage control over at the Biden campaign. What are they doing?

MITCHELL: Well, I think, number one, they're doing a lot of behind the scenes answering their phones, responding to donors, elected officials. And there's a lot of discussions, soul-searching both at the White House on the official side, and with the campaign on the campaign side.

I think they're also going to have to evaluate what campaigning looks like for President Biden. He's going to have to get out there more. People need to see him right now. People need to see more of the Biden from rally, less of the Biden from the CNN debate stage.


ROSALES: Maybe more of the Biden from Waffle House as well.

MITCHELL: Yes, yes, absolutely.

ROSALES: Well, let's talk about the New York Times editorial board, that damning article that they put out, to serve his country, it says right here, President Biden should leave the race.

That is the headline from the New York Times editorial board, the very board which endorsed Biden over Trump in 2020. And here's what else he said, "The president appeared on Thursday night as a shadow of a great public servant. He struggled to explain what he would accomplish in a second term. He struggled to respond to Mr. Trump's provocations. He struggled to hold Mr. Trump accountable for his lies, his failures, and his chilling plans. More than once, he struggled to make it to the end of a sentence."

There are mounting calls here for Biden to step aside. What would that look like?

MITCHELL: So, the fact that Democrats, well either party, it's just so rare, and very rare, very unprecedented. Nobody really knows what replacing Biden could look like and what the consequences of even entering that conversation in a more formal way could be. And that's why it's easier said than done to ask Biden to step aside now. Could it happen?

We don't know. He seems very resolute right now. But if things don't turn around in the coming days, or if these calls get broader, more vocal, more prominent Democrats begin to call for him to resign, as he meets with those deep-pocketed donors this weekend in New York City, the same city where that New York Times editorial was posted, if those donors say, listen, I can't give my money away to someone who I think is not going to be able to win in November, that would be a problem.

But what that looks like is the question because voters have gone to the polls. They've selected Biden as the nominee in the Democratic primary. So, to change that or to make it a delegate process down to several thousand people instead of tens of millions of people, that's just a big undertaking both the logistics of it, but the politics of it, the messaging component of it. It would be difficult.

ROSALES: Yes, and these are such uncharted waters because we've never had a debate this early before the convention either. So, it lends some feasibility into these shouts as well. Do you see a world where this could happen without Biden's consent him being replaced because his campaign has said, hey, he's sticking around?

MITCHELL: Yes, I think the only way it would happen without Biden's consent is if Democrats had real evidence that he was not competent or well enough to do the job. And they said, listen, we've got to do this. But it would have to be solid, solid evidence, not just, hey, a bad debate performance. But again, I think that's why there are a lot of people saying Biden, for the good of the country, for the good of the party, for the good of preventing Trump from being president, which is what a lot of people, that's their North Star, they think that he should step aside so that that process can begin with his, his consent.

ROSALES: Right, and talking about bad debate performances, former President Obama went on X. He chimed in on the conversation posting, bad debate nights happen, trust me I know. He's talking about back in 2012, going for re-election. He did poorly. There's some history here of candidates not doing so hot, but at the end of the day winning.

MITCHELL: Yes, well the difference is for Obama that was a bad debate performance, but there was so much other evidence of how strong he was as a candidate. Great speeches, great campaigning, robust campaigning. He was a relatively young man at the time and had a lot of energy.

Unfortunately, for President Biden, this poor debate performance just confirmed what a lot of people were fearful of, and that's the fact that they do feel like he's growing weaker as a candidate, his age is catching up to him, just not able to articulate himself and stand and be that strong candidate up against Donald Trump. So, for Biden, it's not just one debate performance. It's a debate performance that confirmed the fears a lot of Democrats have about his ability to campaign in a way that will be effective.


ROSALES: Such a fascinating conversation. We're going to have to see how this pans out. Tia Mitchell, thank you so much for your time.

MITCHELL: Thank you.

BLACKWELL: The Supreme Court ruling could force prosecutors to reopen some of the cases from the January 6th attack on the Capitol. How this could impact one of the criminal cases against former President Trump? We'll have that.

Plus, this wildfire is burning out of control, forcing people to leave their homes in Arizona this morning when crews hope to get the upper hand on this fire that's already burned 3,700 acres. And two American astronauts, they're going to be stuck in space a little longer than expected. The problems engineers are trying to fix on the Boeing Starliner. That's ahead.



ROSALES: In headlines this morning, new details on the indictment of the former Uvalde School's police chief over the failed response to the mass shooting there in 2022. Former Police Chief Pete Arredondo and former Police officer Adrian Gonzalez have both been indicted.

Arredondo faces 10 felony charges of child endangerment for failing to intervene. And Gonzalez faces 29 felony counts of abandoning or endangering a child. That is a count for each of the 19 children killed and the 10 who survived.

Well, take a look at this video. Fire crews in Arizona battling a wildfire near Phoenix. The Boulder View fire has already burned over 3,000 acres with zero percent containment. At least 60 homes in the Scottsdale area have been evacuated as hot and dry weather fuels that fire.

Once again, a New Mexico judge has denied actor Alec Baldwin's request to dismiss his involuntary manslaughter charge. This stems from the fatal shooting on the set of his film "Rust." Cinematographer Halyna Hutchins, she was killed in October 2021 when a gun that Baldwin was holding fired a live round during a scene rehearsal. In their latest motion, Baldwin's attorneys were arguing they couldn't mount an effective defense because the FBI destroyed the gun during forensic testing. Baldwin's trial is set to start next month.

BLACKWELL: A new ruling from the Supreme Court is limiting how January 6th rioters can be charged. On Friday, the court raised the bar for charging defendants with obstruction. The court's ruling indicates the Justice Department overcharged hundreds of insurrection cases. Attorney General Merrick Garland says the ruling is disappointing, but not expected to affect the upcoming case against Donald Trump.

Joining me now, Supreme Court correspondent at The Wall Street Journal, Jess Bravin. Jess, good morning to you. So, first, let's talk about these, aside from the former president, who has faced these obstruction charges, more than 50 sentences, fewer than 30 serving time as part of this. What's this mean for them?

JESS BRAVIN, WALL STREET JOURNAL SUPREME COURT CORRESPONDENT: Well, it means that they may get a new sentencing hearing, which could reduce their sentences. It may mean that this charge against them is dismissed. What's going to happen is the defendants are going to be able to get basically a new hearing to examine whether or not their conduct falls within the statute that the Justice Department charged.

It's a little technical to think about it, but basically what the court said is that this obstruction statute applies to evidence, it applies to documents, it applies to things that officials would use in a proceeding, not the proceeding itself. So, the question is, did these defendants actually interfere with the materials, the records, the papers that the Congress needed when it was certifying the election or did they just cause sort of mayhem in the building itself, which might not be covered by this statute?

BLACKWELL: Can you explain why this does not apply or wouldn't interfere with the Trump case from Jack Smith?

BRAVIN: Well, that's of course what the Attorney General is saying. Mr. Trump's lawyers may take a different view. The question is really, do the allegations against Trump involve his interfering with the documents or records or things like that that were going to be used in the certification proceeding?

For example, did he do something to obstruct or interfere with the documentation that Vice President Pence would have needed to oversee the joint session of Congress and that the ceremony of Roliad as President of the Senate and so forth. That's going to be a question.

So, it does, does the new definition that the Supreme Court has of the substruction statute cover what Trump allegedly did? The Attorney General says it still covers him. We'll have to see what the Trump's lawyers say, and of course whether Trump can be prosecuted at all, which is something we're going to learn on Monday.

BLACKWELL: Let me ask you about this decision 6-3 along ideological lines here that now allows cities to ticket homeless people for sleeping outside. This could obviously have significant impact on cities and states across the country and the unhoused. Explain what happened here.

BRAVIN: Sure, several years ago, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals which oversees the federal law in really the western part of the United States from Montana, California, Hawaii, and Alaska, and Arizona, they ruled that if you cite people for camping or sleeping in public when they have nowhere else to go, it violates the Eighth Amendment, which bans cruel, unusual punishments because they have no choice.

And so, that was the Ninth Circuit's ruling, and that led to a lot of court orders limiting the kind of enforcement actions that cities and counties and towns could take it across the West to clear out homeless encampments.

Cities had to show that there were places that people could go. They were voluntarily breaking the law. That got appealed to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court said, no, you can't use the Ninth Amendment, which covers cruel and unusual punishments, to strike down these local ordinances. And so, a lot of those court injunctions are going to go away in the West, that's -- and give cities and towns.


What's interesting is that although it was a small, some conservative rural city in Oregon that brought the case, big, more generous cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles agreed that they needed more flexibility to deal with homeless encampment.

BLACKWELL: So, Monday is the last day of the session, and we know that the Trump immunity case is still out there. So, of course, we'll get that decision on Monday. Should we expect all or nothing here on presidential immunity or is there some hybrid here, some cutouts that are more likely.

BRAVIN: Well, based on the oral argument that we heard in April, it sounds like there is going to be some kind of mushy middle that the Supreme Court takes, in which it says, nobody who happens to be president gets absolute immunity for everything they may have done until their term expired.

On the other hand, the court did seem interested in finding kind of at least a core, maybe a very large core, of activities that a president undertakes that they believe should not be subject to retrospective criminal prosecution, because they didn't want presidents to feel hamstrung by the fear that their successor administrations might someday prosecute them once they'd left office.

So, it looks like the real devil will be in the details. What is the scope of immunity that the former presidents get? And even more important, what does a trial court have to do to figure that out? So, that's going to be, I think, what we're looking at.

BLACKWELL: Monday is a big, big day. Jess Bravin, thank you for setting us up for it.

BRAVIN: You betcha.

ROSALES: The New York Times editorial board is calling for President Biden to bow out of the presidential election, but what happens if he is not the nominee and who would replace him? We have in-depth analysis that's straight ahead. Andy. ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS REPORTER: Yes, Isabel, lots of baseball clubs around the country have premium seats behind home plate, but you have to see what one team in Ohio has done. A true row of royalty for the fans.



BLACKWELL: President Biden says that he is staying in this race despite his debate performance on Thursday that has a lot of Democrats questioning whether he should stay at the top of the ticket. The president looked really different Friday at a rally in North Carolina. He was animated, sounded strong, looked strong, told his supporters that he does not debate as well as he used to, but that he still has the energy and experience to run the country. Joining me now to discuss Republican Strategist Brian Robinson; former Regional Director for the Obama campaign, Theron Johnson.

Welcome to you both. Theron, let me start with a bit of this New York Times editorial board. They say that the president should withdraw. Here's part of it: "Mr. Biden answered an urgent question on Thursday night. It was not the answer that he and his supporters were hoping for. But if the risk of a second Trump term is as great as he says it is, and we agree with him that the danger is enormous, then his dedication to this country leaves him and his party only one choice. You say to that what?

THARON JOHNSON, FORMER REGIONAL DIRECTOR FOR THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN: I respectfully disagree. I think that President Biden should remain in this race, and let me tell you why. Number one, he did not have a great night in a debate. You know, he's not as policies. He used to be he admitted that right, but he's a patriot. He actually persevered, he got through the debate.

And as you look at the sort of the start, it was slow, but towards the end of debate, he got better. He actually focused on the issues, and I think there's some wins that he came out of the campaign that the campaign will highlight. Now, put -- park it to the side and go to number two. Number two is that, look, debates don't win or lose presidential elections. I believe that Donald Trump lost every single debate against Hillary Clinton, but he went on to be the president of the United States.

And I was so happy to see our former President Barack Obama admit, hey, I had a bad night against Mitt Romney in 2012. He was re-elected. And so, what the campaign's got to do now is to do exactly what they did hit in Raleigh, North Carolina. Two different tales of Joe Biden. I mean, the debate night was not that good. You know, definitely stumbled. But on Friday, around supporters was great, was focusing on message. So, I think you're going to see more of that Joe Biden going to campaign.

BLACKWELL: But can he be Friday, North Carolina, Joe Biden every day?

JOHNSON: No, no one can. BLACKWELL: Or more often than he is Thursday night, Joe Biden.

JOHNSON: There you go, more often. Now, it's up to his team to say, hey, OK, let's not ever put him in another situation like that. But candidates on the campaign trail, Victor, I've been there, B-Rob has been there, they have some bad days. What they got to do now is make sure that the settings are right and show more authentic Joe Biden. We need that Uncle Joe back. Let him be a little less scripted, go off the record. Say some things that actually people may disagree with. People may be shocked, because that's the kind of political atmosphere that we're in right now.

BLACKWELL: Brian, do Republicans want someone else at the top of the Democratic ticket?

BRIAN ROBINSON, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: No, they are very happy with where they are right now. Now, I told my friend there, and during the debate that Republicans feel very confident after what we see just in the first 10 minutes of this debate that this has confirmed what voters already thought about Joe Biden that all is not well.


This is not that he had a bad debate performance, where it's like the Romney-Obama. Or Obama wasn't up to snuff, when we know he's a really good debater. This was catastrophic. This was a guy who couldn't get to the end of his sentences.

And people already thought, had suspicions, maybe he has dementia. This really affirmed a lot of that in the minds of voters. So, the problem, I think Republicans have at this juncture is that it was so bad, Victor, that Democrats may now be spurred to put a younger governor, for example, on the ticket, someone who would be much more competitive in this race.

This race will be determined by double haters. So, you think Republicans aren't thinking about that? Of course they are. One thing we have going for us is Biden isn't up to the job.

BLACKWELL: So, the president had trouble getting to the end of sentences. Donald Trump got to the end of the sentences, but often there were lies at the end of it.

More than 30 by CNN's fact checkers and President Biden told nine false claims and lies as well.

Let me play one of them. This is the former president. Let's watch this.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: If it's a fair and legal and good election, absolutely, I would have much rather accepted these. But the fraud and everything else was ridiculous.


BLACKWELL: That was the former president talking about not accepting the election results. We'll get to that into a -- in a moment.

But what's worse? A president who has difficulty getting to the end of the sentence or a former president who just tells so many lies that it's hard to fact check?

ROBINSON: Biden said that Trump's unemployment rate was 15 percent during COVID. That was never true. He said that illegal immigration was worst under Trump than under Biden. That's not true. Those aren't small things.

When he says President Trump has promised a bloodbath, we all know, that is not remotely what Donald Trump was saying. He was talking about the impact on the auto industry. If being truthful, if that is your brand, we're going to be the truthful guys and he is a liar, then you better be perfect, you better nail the landing, and Biden didn't do it.

Even small things like saying insulin was $15, when it was $35. I know that's just a mistake, not a lie. But throughout the entire debate, this was somebody who did not have command of the facts. And that's part of what he's telling us in Raleigh. I can do the job. I know what is happening here, I have delivered on policy, he didn't look like somebody who new policy on Thursday night.

JOHNSON: Again, the debates do not determine the outcome of the election. Victor, I would much rather have a man of integrity that tells the truth than a person who gets up there until over 30 lies, because this is the office of the president. The American people have got to trust you. Democracy is on the line.

And if you poll most American voters, they want somebody in the White House that's going to do the right thing, and not be as corrupt as we saw the Trump administration.

So, now, what you got to do -- and Andy Young reminded me of this yesterday. He said, look, Joe Biden went to that debate, thinking that he was going to have a fat base conversation on reality and truth.


BLACKWELL: Why? Why would Joe Biden go to a debate with Donald Trump and think he's going to have a fact-based conversation about reality and truth?

JOHNSON: Because you -- because that's what -- that's what a presidential candidate is supposed to do. Right? But --


BLACKWELL: But he's debated him before, and those that doesn't happened.

JOHNSON: Absolutely. So, what -- so what he did in the moment, and you can see it on his face. I mean, let's just, you know, we all watched the debate, when the lies was just so much. I mean, he told a lie every single time he opened his mouth, then, you have to make a decision as a debater in this president's campaign --



JOHNSON: Like do I engage in it, or do I continue to try to be presidential, or I stick to the fact? Now, he did make that shift towards the end.

But look, bad night for the president. But mark my word, this campaign is a long way away. We got less than 130 days to go. Joe Biden will be fine. He will be our nominee going to convention -- is going to be contentious. Right?

You are going to have some people like the editorial board and other Democrats say we need someone else. I disagree. But also, Donald Trump will make a mistake. He will say something else, like black jobs, which I know we don't have enough time to get into --


BLACKWELL: We will get to it, 8:00.

JOHNSON: But I'm glad you came to your black job in the morning.

BLACKWELL: Yes, yes.

JOHNSON: And I'm -- in my black job.

BLACKWELL: I've had my black job.

JOHNSON: Yes, yes. Congratulations on your black job.

BLACKWELL: Brian, let me ask you about the soundbite that we played, though. And he is still not committing to accepting the elect -- after all of the lies of 2020, and the defamation, he can't just say, yes.

ROBINSON: You know --

BLACKWELL: And still, the party backs it.

ROBINSON: I feel like -- well, the party 50 percent of them agree with what he is saying. So, that's sort of the dilemma here. I don't think that talking about fraud is a winning message in 2024.

Americans right now want to hear about cost of living. They want to hear about immigration, maybe even some about public safety. Trump is leading with voters on all those issues. That's what he should be talking about. We know that the fraud argument is a loser, particularly right here in Georgia.

BLACKWELL: Yes. ROBINSON: -- where the people who have run on Stop the Steal last four years have lost here, when non-Stop the Steal Republicans have won here.


And you got to win Georgia. We are a gateway to the White House.

I would imagine the fought argument is not going to be strong in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan, or Arizona either. So, let's stop talking about that.

BLACKWELL: All right. Brian, Tharon, thank you both.

ROSALES: It is one of the most consequential presidential elections in decades in Iran. And it is going to a runoff vote. We are going live to Tehran for an update. Straight ahead on "CNN THIS MORNING".



ROSALES: "BREAKING NEWS" this morning, Iran's presidential election will go to a runoff, pitting a reform candidate against a hardliner.

That's after none of the four candidates in the race received, at least, 50 percent of the vote.

BLACKWELL: Snap election was called after the death of Ebrahim Raisi. He died last month in a helicopter crash.

CNN senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen has been following developments. So, who boosted the runoff and how are people reacting to this?

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, first of all, I think you guys are absolutely right to say that this is a pretty consequential election potentially for Iran, of course, right now, this country under crushing sanctions that are U.S.-lead that have really done a lot of damage to the economy.

So, of course, the economy was a huge issue also in the election campaigns. But of course, we always have to point out the fact that right now, there's also a really volatile situation here in the Middle East with Iran and Israel having been very close to a full-on war just a couple of weeks ago, that could also have had massive repercussions for the United States as well.

So, that's sort of the environment that this election was taking place and the two candidates that came in first in this first round of the elections really quite interesting, because the moderates had said beforehand, they believed that there needed to be high voter turnout for their candidate, Masoud Pezeshkian, to have a chance to make it to the runoff round. Well, the turnout was really low. It was 40 percent, which is eight percent less than the last president election -- presidential election, where Ebrahim Raisi was elected, who was killed in that chopper crash.

So, really good showing for the moderates, and Masoud Pezeshkian has said he wants better relations with the United States, better relations, also with countries here in the region.

Supreme leader of this country, he is been quite skeptical of that. And now, Saeed Jalili is the candidate on the conservative side who got the most votes there. Still, a million less than the moderate candidate.

He wants to continue what he calls the path of Ebrahim Raisi, which be mean a really tough line towards Israel, and a really tough line also towards the United States as well.

Of course, the Iranians have been threatening the U.S. not to get involved in any sort of issues between Iran and Israel. So, we're going to have to wait and see the thing that it really comes down to is which base is going to be able to mobilize more? That next election coming up this coming Friday, guys.

BLACKWELL: All right. Fred, thank you.

The most decorated gymnast in history is getting closer to another Olympics. We'll take a look at Simone Biles' gravity defying moves, ahead in "SPORTS".

ROSALES: Plus, a third of shark species are threatened with extinction. Rapid DNA test is helping catch shark fin smugglers in today's "IMPACT YOUR WORLD".


DR. DIEGO CARDENOSA, DISTINGUISHED POSTDOCTORAL SCHOLAR: Sharks are going through a global conservation crisis. The demand for their products, the demand for their fins or meat is their ultimate threat.

Shark finning is a practice of cutting the fins off, which are used for the shark fin soup, and then, putting the carcass back in the water. If the shark is alive, it will suffocate to death because without its fans, it cannot swim. One of the biggest challenges for law enforcement around the world is that how can they tell whether a shark fin that is coming into their country is legal or illegal? Is from a species that is regulated or not regulated? And you need to do DNA tools or molecular tools in order to identify it.

What we have developed is that we take a little piece of this fin, we run it through a machine for two hours, and we're able to tell what species is it without sequencing very cheaply, very quickly.

Before we deploy the tool back in 2018, Hong Kong authorities were seizing around five tons of shark fins annually. Now, those numbers have increased to a hundred tons a year. The idea is that, in the long run, those efforts been translated in shark fishing nations to do more sustainable and well managed fisheries.

If we don't do something quick to reverse these declines, they were going to see several sharks going extinct in our lifetimes.


ROSALES: And tomorrow, go inside the shark battles in American waters, Boris Sanchez dives into the debate between conservationist fishermen and shark hunters. On a new episode of "THE WHOLE STORY WITH ANDERSON COOPER" that's tomorrow at 8:00 on CNN.


And don't miss "Discovery Shark Week", hosted by John Cena. Summer's biggest holiday starts Sunday July 7th on Discovery and streaming on Max.


BLACKWELL: It's the final countdown.

ROSALES: Countdown --

BLACKWELL: And we got to pay somebody for that. I feel like someone's going to ask me paid.


BLACKWELL: All right. So, the Summer Olympics, 27 days down until the opening ceremony in Paris.

ROSALES: And while Simone Biles is pretty much locked to be there, the U.S. women's gymnastics team suffered two key injuries at trials Friday night. Andy Scholes is here to explain. What happened?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Yes, you know, guys, injuries are always tough. But can you imagine just all the preparations, the months, the years for the -- getting ready for this moment and suffering an injury at this time? It's got to be just brutal and the gymnastics trials are taking place right now in Minneapolis.

And Kayla DiCello who's an -- was an alternate in Tokyo, she tore her Achilles on the vault there. She was in tears, had to be carried off the floor. You got to feel for her.

But just a few minutes later, Shilese Jones, who won silver and bronze with the last two worlds, she tweaked her knee on the vault, but she did tough it out on the uneven bars. But her status now moving forward is unclear.

And then, Simone Biles, meanwhile, was her normal dominant self. She went very pleased with her balance beam routine, but still managed to have two and -- a 2-1/2 point lead after day one.


And you know, Biles, despite being the most decorated gymnast of all time, she still says these trials will make for a very tense weekend.


SIMONE BILES, FOUR-TIME OLYMPIC GOLD MEDALIST: It's stressful, it's heavy. I feel like a lot of us have like cotton in mouth because we're so stressed out. But you know, it's one of the best pressure situations to be in going into the Olympics. Because I feel like, if we can do this, and we can do anything.


SCHOLES: Biles will be back in action tomorrow.

Meanwhile, on the tracks, Sha'Carri Richardson with another strong performance in the 200-meter semi-finals. The 24-year-old with a personal best 21.92 seconds. She tries to become the first American since Florence Griffith Joyner in 1988 to win an Olympic double in the 100 and 200.

And waiting for in Saturday's final is the reigning World silver medalist and the 200 Gabby Thomas. And Thomas, outdoing Richardson. She posted this time in the world this year at 21.78 in her semi- finals. So, you got Richardson and Thomas going to be squaring off tonight just before 8:30 Eastern. Should be a fun one to watch.

All right. Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, announcing LeBron James is going to be wearing number nine during his rookie season. LeBron and his son could be the first father son duo ever to play in the NBA. Bronny jersey also going to have James Jr. On the back, since Bronny's officials name is LeBron James Jr. Bronny could make his Lakers summer league debut as early as July 6th.

And speaking of draft picks, NHL draft taking place at the Sphere in Las Vegas, maybe the coolest place ever to hold a draft. And check out the reaction from 18-year-old Beckett Sennecke, when he heard his name called as the third pick by the Anaheim Ducks.

He was shocked. He goes, oh, my God. He's reaction is so great. He's pretty surprised because most of the mock drafts had him being selected in the teens, but definitely, a cool moment for him and his family.

And finally, the minor-league club the Lake County Captains have new premium seats at the ballpark in Ohio. And it's a row of toilets. The team is saying why sit on the toilet and play on your phone? When you can sit on the toilet and watch an entire baseball game?

Because the throne comes with reading materials, and your very own bathroom attendant, guys. What do you think? You join -- you join a ballgame from a toilet?


ROSALES: -- marketing.

BLACKWELL: I have never been comfortable on the toilet.

ROSALES: It's cushy, though. BLACKWELL: The toilet?

SCHOLES: Look nice. It's a throne.

ROSALES: Does it have a bidet?

BLACKWELL: Is it like one of the -- have a bidet.

No, that might be enjoyable.

ROSALES: It would be. All right.

BLACKWELL: All right, there revenues.


BLACKWELL: And -- thank you very much.

OK. So, this trip for two American astronauts, it is really lasted a little longer than they planned.

ROSALES: I'd be freaking out. Well, the problems, Boeing engineers are trying to work out so that they can come back home to Earth. That's straight ahead.



ROSALES: Welcome back. NASA says it wants to be clear the two of its astronauts that are in space right now, they are not stranded there, despite being delayed for weeks without a return date in sight.

BLACKWELL: The Boeing Starliner is docked to the International Space Station, while engineers work on issues with the spacecraft's thrusters. CNN's Space and Defense Correspondent Kristin Fisher has more for us.


Well, during a press conference Friday afternoon, NASA officials say they want to make it very clear that NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore and Suni Williams are not stranded in space. Those are the two NASA astronauts that are part of the crew of Boeing's made-in test flight of its Starliner spacecraft, and they have been docked to the International Space Station since the beginning of June.

But even though NASA says they are not stranded in space, those two astronauts are still going to be up there at the space station. far longer than expected. There have been several delays of this return to Earth. And now, just Friday afternoon, NASA says there is now no target date for when those astronauts and that spacecraft will return home.

The holdup has been some issues with the spacecraft's thrusters, and also a few helium leaks. And so, now, NASA and Boeing are going to shift the testing and the troubleshooting of those thrusters from the actual spacecraft in space to some ground testing on some replica thrusters in White Sands, New Mexico. That is expected to start next week.

So, and those tests are expected to take a couple of weeks to complete. So, Victor and Isabel, we are looking likely at mid to late July at the absolute earliest, before Butch and Sunni can return to Earth.

NASA really stressing though, that those astronauts are safe. The spacecraft is safe. They have seen no new issues to report, but they really want to figure out what's going on with those thrusters. Not so much necessarily for this mission, but for future flights. So, a few more weeks for those astronauts up there at the International Space Station.

Victor and Isabel?

ROSALES: Hey, they are safe. That is what is important here. Kristin Fisher, thank you.



ROSALES: With Victor Blackwell. That's next. What's happening?

BLACKWELL: We got a lot going on. So, President Biden, obviously, is fighting calls for someone else to take his place going up against Donald Trump. We have two unique political voices here, one from each party to help us make sense of what happens now.

Also, how do undecided voters feel about what they saw on the stage here in Atlanta on Thursday, we will ask.

Also later, is making songs with artificial intelligence harming the music industry?

A recording industry group is suing a startup whose software is being used to make A.I. songs. So, we will have that for you as well.


ROSALES: All right. A lot going on in BBL Jersey I heard.

BLACKWELL: Yes. BBL Jersey is one of the famous tracks. So, we'll talk about that.