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Supreme Court: Trump Entitled to Partial Immunity; Biden Campaign Tries to Reassure Democrats; Jamaica Braces for Impact as Beryl Approaches. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 02, 2024 - 06:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Tuesday, July 2. Right now on CNN THIS MORNING, Donald Trump trying to overturn his conviction in the New York hush money trial after the Supreme Court's ruling on presidential immunity.


Plus the Biden campaign scrambling to find a way to move past the president's shocking debate performance.

And an air travel nightmare. Dozens injured as severe turbulence strikes a transatlantic flight. Wear your seat belts, people.

And Hurricane Beryl, a powerful Category 5 storm, leaving destruction across the Caribbean as it approaches Jamaica.

All right, 6 a.m. in Washington. Look at that beautiful sunrise over the White House and hitting the Washington Monument on this Tuesday morning. Gorgeous. Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you with us.

We may have just lived through the week that wins Donald Trump the election. On Thursday, President Biden faltered on the debate stage, sparking calls for him to be replaced as the Democratic nominee.

He waited for the moderators to bring up the events at the Capitol on January 6, even though President Biden has made what happened that day a centerpiece of his presidential campaign.

Then on Monday, the Supreme Court declared that President Trump has absolute immunity for his official acts as president, but that he does not have immunity for unofficial acts.

The immediate effect of the ruling: voters will not have the opportunity to see Donald Trump tried and a jury render a verdict on his actions on and around January 6.

We, the public, may see more evidence about Donald Trump's actions that day, but a verdict, no.

The decision was 6-3 along partisan lines. In the main dissent, Justice Sonia Sotomayor writing this: quote, "The relationship between the president and the people he serves has shifted irrevocably. In every use of official power, the president is now a king, above the law. Orders the Navy's SEAL Team 6 to assassinate a political rival? Immune. Organizes a military coup to hold onto power? Immune. Takes a bribe in exchange for a pardon? Immune. Immune, immune, immune. Let the president violate the law. Let him exploit the trappings of his office for personal gain. Let him use the official power for evil ends, because if he knew that he may one day face liability for breaking the law, he might not be as bold and fearless as we would like him to be. That is the majority's message today," Sonia Sotomayor wrote. "With fear for our democracy, I dissent."

Here was President Biden yesterday.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: This nation was founded on the principle that there are no kings in America. Each, each of us is equal before the law. No one -- no one -- is above the law, not even the president of the United States. But today's Supreme Court decision on presidential immunity, that fundamentally changed. For all, for all practical purposes, today's decision almost certainly means that there are virtually no limits on what a president can do.


HUNT: Our panel's here. Let's bring in CNN senior reporter Isaac Dovere; former federal prosecutor, Elliot Williams; CNN political commentator Karen Finney; and former RNC communications director Doug Heye. Welcome, all.

Elliot Williams, big picture here. This has really upended all of the prosecutions of Donald Trump in a variety of arenas. And as, you know, I was thinking through what happened, as we were covering this together on this site yesterday, that this really does seem like, when we look back, when the history books are written, if Donald Trump wins in November, this is the week that he one.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it is the week that -- if that's the case, certainly, it was such a profound week for Donald Trump as a candidate and also as a former president.

I also think it is a profound week for the Supreme Court. And going back to Bush versus Gore, I mean, there's been significant cases throughout American history. But going back to Bush versus Gore, the two most, I guess, profound political cases were -- in American history have been decided on pretty strict partisan breakdowns, right? Whether that's good or bad, I'm not weighing in on it. That's just where the Supreme Court is.

And it ought not be a surprise to anybody that this institution's public standing is failing. And this is why people tend to not have a tremendous amount of faith in institutions in America. But the Supreme Court in particular.

[06:05:12] And it's a perfectly plausible reading of this decision that the Supreme Court put its thumb on the scale for a candidate.

Now, they can argue, as the chief justice has throughout his career, that, well, we were staying out of the political process. We were making -- taking pains to protect the presidency and not -- you know, not weigh in on one side or another, but just look at the outcome. This was a stunning win for Donald Trump. Yes.

KAREN FINNEY, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, it's interesting, because I was reading part of the decision, right? And you know, so yes, it means that the cases get pushed off, right?

It also means -- I mean, the Supreme Court had in front of it, not just a theoretical, what would -- gee, what would happen, but a very specific instance.

And Justice Roberts wrote, essentially, that the -- that "the exclusive authority over the investigative prosecutorial functions of the Justice Department and its officials, that the president has that exclusive authority, and that he may discuss potential investigations and prosecutions with his attorney general and other Justice Department officials."

What has Donald Trump told us over and over again? Retribution. That he is going to seek to use the Department of Justice to exact retribution.

So just right in this portion of the decision, Chief Justice Roberts is essentially saying Donald Trump has the power to go ahead and exact that retribution using the Justice Department.

HUNT: Well, speaking of retribution, let's put up the repost that Donald Trump shared on his Truth Social platform yesterday. Elisabeth Lynn Cheney. She of course, the chair of the January 6 Select Committee, guilty of treason. And this is, of course, referring to a potentially televised military tribunal. And it's -- we've cut off the bottom of that tweet, cut off the bottom of the graphic. It says "Retruth if you want televised military tribunals."

And what we just showed there was Liz Cheney's response. She says, "Donald, this is the type of thing that demonstrates yet again that you are not a stable adult and are not fit for office."

Doug Heye, as the Republican at this table, is this, do you think, a serious threat? Because there are some who are -- you know, will dismiss this kind of thing as like, well, we shouldn't take this so seriously. I'm curious what you think.

And to Elliot's broader point, also, on the Supreme Court. I mean, there are other places where Republicans, conservatives generally view the court as legitimate and taking actions that are helpful for the country. Do you see this immunity decision that way?

DOUG HEYE, FORMER RNC COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR: Well, Donald Trump tweets and says a lot of things that we sort of get worried about and simultaneously dismiss as Donald being Donald.

But what we know is there are Trump supporters out there -- not all of them, not most of them -- but Trump supporters out there who view these as marching orders. This is what we saw on January 6, obviously, and this is what we've seen happen in our political lives, even before Donald Trump.

Obviously, Steve Scalise dealt with that personally. Gabby Giffords. So the level of danger that our political figures fear and feel is significant.

And by the way, that's poll workers now. You know, that's not just secretaries of state, but board of elections, local county, board of elections official. Everybody now, is that at -- at a higher risk.

And that comes from a lot of the rhetoric that we see from Donald Trump.

And -- but we move to the political on this. And I understand the whistles and bells and the warnings that Democrats are making on this. But if this is the week that has won Donald Trump the presidency, then Democrats, what are you going to do about it?

We have a candidate who still, most Americans feel, is an incumbent president who's not going to be vertical in four years, to be really blunt about it. And we saw that last Thursday. Not because Joe Biden had a bad night. When you're 81-years-old, you have bad nights. We know that. The problem is this confirmed what so many Americans were looking for, and that's not going away.

HUNT: Yes, Isaac, that's to you. I mean, what are Democrats going to do about it?

ISAAC DOVERE, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: They are struggling with what to do about it. They don't know what the right path forward is here: which is the more likely scenario that well get them to be able to beat Donald Trump. That is the priority for them. That's the priority for them because of a lot of things here, right?

Because, to Doug's point, like this is not -- in 2016 when Ted Cruz and Donald Trump were the finalists, there was a private event where Barack Obama was asked whether -- which one he would fear more as the Republican president. And he said that he would be more concerned about Ted Cruz, because Cruz knew what he would do. Right? And he thought Trump wouldn't know.

Now, if you look at the Trump presidency, a lot of it was them figuring out what to do, all the things. Now what you see is people associated with Project 2025, others who are going to come in if there is a Trump presidency, and have a very efficient carrying out of the sorts of things things that sort of Justice Sotomayor was warning about.


And Democrats are petrified of that. What I hear from people is that this court decision has both made some people who were ready to throw Biden over even more eager to throw him over. And also those who say, like, this key is our stellar safest bet. We need to keep him there.

HUNT: Very briefly.

FINNEY: As the Democrat here, a couple of things.

No. 1, this Supreme Court decision, in part, is actually starting to galvanize Democrats who are saying, maybe we do need to stick with Joe Biden, because maybe he is our best chance.

And so it may not be the week that Donald Trump won the election. It may be the week that he lost it.

Because again, the failure.

HUNT: That seems like a stretch.

FINNEY: The fear of what -- I can just tell you what I'm seeing in the internals. The fear of what he specifically would do. Project 2025, the retribution. People are very nervous about that.

They already were nervous about that. Because here's the thing: when he says things, it's not theoretical anymore. We know he actually will make good on the things that he says he's going to do.

Now, they were also taking a step back. I think I'm looking at how people -- I mean, I think people are sort of feeling their emotions about last week with Joe Biden.

Look, members of Congress are going to go home this -- over the holiday. I think when they come back, they will have a lot more information about what they've heard from their constituents. And that I think will be part of the equation.

HEYE: Keep in mind, Democrats must be the most galvanized party in our history at this point. Every answer is Democrats are more enthusiastic, more galvanized than ever. If that were true, this would be the week that Joe Biden wins the presidency.

And last week and the week before. He would be up 25 points in the polls. Because you guys are so galvanized. Dobbs decision, this. Donald Trump this. Donald Trump that. You should be killing this and down-ballot, too.

And the reality is, voters are still looking at Joe Biden, I mean, like, I don't think he has it anymore.

HUNT: All right. Let's push pause on this. We're going to pick up this conversation right after this next break.

As team Biden reaches out to hundreds of donors to try to keep his campaign going.

Plus --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The people who didn't have seat belts went up in the air and hit the ceiling, and they got hurt.


HUNT: Dozens of passengers injured by severe turbulence. Their flight forced to make an emergency landing. Again, wear your seat belts, people.

And Democratic Congressmen Mike Quigley here to talk about the party's next move after the president's disastrous debate.



HUNT: All right. Welcome back.

The Biden campaign is scrambling to get the party fully behind the president after last week's debate disaster. There does seem to be a bright spot this morning, the campaign releasing new fundraising totals for the month of June, an impressive $127 million. They claim a quarter of that was raised since Thursday.

Campaign co-chair Jen O'Malley Dillon also holding multiple calls yesterday, trying to reassure top Democrats and staff that Biden is still fit to run.

Two participants telling CNN she claimed, quote, "He's probably in better health than most of us," end quote. OK.

Other Democrats defending the president and pushing for a new strategy.


REP. JAMES CLYBURN (D-SC): Stay the course. He has a record to run on, but he's always had trouble getting out certain words.

So yes, some of that took place. But nothing is wrong with his brain.

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): President Biden needs to reassure those who were paying attention by giving more and more of the sorts of interviews and impromptu events and engagements that put him in America's living room in the first place. We do need to see more unscripted and off-the-record moments.


HUNT: My panel's back. I mean, is this -- is this the answer? More? Because I feel like people are pushing this. More Joe Biden, more Joe Biden. We've been hearing it over and over again. They wouldn't put them out for the Super Bowl interview. Like, every single appearance seems to be a big risk now. DOVERE: And that's the way the staff of the White House has approached

this for years, which arguably, is part of what happened here in itself, just having him be rusty.

But you could not have --

HUNT: And having people not be used to seeing him, too.

DOVERE: Yes. Right. You could not have someone who is a closer ally to Joe Biden than Chris Coons. That he is saying this publicly, that we need more, is a real sign to the Biden team that they have to do something big here to change the way that people are perceiving him.

And the question that they are facing is a realistic one of how much is Joe Biden up to.

FINNEY: But in fairness, a lot of us have been saying for several years now, let's do more. Let Joe Biden be Joe Biden, less of the trying to remember the facts and figures, and just letting him be.

I mean, he did -- one of the moments at the debate that I thought was very powerful was when he was talking about Hunter, right? Because that broke through, because that was Joe Biden being authentic. Joe Biden not trying to remember whatever talking points they told him or facts and figures.

So I think that's what Chris Coons is talking about, is more -- put him -- let him be in those situations that we saw in 2020, even though they were limited because of COVID, where he was able to just connect and talk with voters more directly about what's going on in their lives.

DOVERE: Right. Nobody has ever supported Joe Biden in a big way because he gave a great speech. That's not who he is. They've supported him because he connects with people. And you see those moments. I've been there up close to see them. A lot of people have seen them on video, whatever it may be.

And it is so much different from what you get out of most politicians.

HUNT: Yes.

DOVERE: But it is also so much different from what we have seen out of Joe Biden as president for almost the entire presidency.

WILLIAMS: Which is what makes the argument that we saw just there. Well, he's in better health than most, I guess it was most people.

Karine, at one point -- Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary -- had said, you know, 40 is the new -- or 80 is the new 40. Which -- OK, fine. He's -- he's a spry 81-year-old, or 82-year-old.

But the simple fact is --

HUNT: It's just implausible on the face.

WILLIAMS: It just --

HEYE: Ronny Jackson or any other Trump doctor says Donald Trump is in better health than most of us. We laugh at it.


HEYE: The reality is, this is also laughable.

And what we've seen is, if we go back over the past five, six years, how many times do we see a -- let's say, Eric Swalwell come on TV and say, what is Paul Ryan or when is Mike Johnson or Kevin McCarthy, when are they going to stand up and say the truth about Trump?

No elected Democrat, not one -- there are about 250 or so on Capitol Hill -- has said the obvious truth that most of them are saying behind closed doors. This is a very real problem. And they have very real concerns about whether or not he can stand for office for another four years.

WILLIAM: I was getting at --

HEYE: None of them will say that. When will they stand up and say this?

WILLIAMS: Well, I think you you lose credibility when you start trying to make arguments --

HEYE: Absolutely.

WILLIAMS: -- that a 40-year-old is as spry as an 80-year-old. What Karine was saying doubled down on the things that the individual is good at. Getting to the VFW hall or whatever else.

FINNEY: Yes, and by the way, OK. He's 81, but the amount of experience that he has had is part of the reason he was able to get a bipartisan infrastructure deal.

I have long been in the camp that says, you're not going to make 80 seem younger, but you can talk about what the experience, the expertise, what does that mean? What is -- why is that valuable right now?

HEYE: And Biden --

HUNT: I think the issue, too, is that the guy that got the infrastructure bill done was three years younger and seems markedly different than he is now.

HEYE: Yes, one of the the things that was a real problem for Biden in the debate was the split-screen of him vs Trump and his facial expressions and so forth. He looked lost and confused.

The split screen of Joe Biden compared to four years ago, and certainly his debate against Paul Ryan, these are different people. And you're going to have more bad days than good days when you're 81. That's just a reality. HUNT: All right.

Coming up next here. Hurricane Beryl crushing the Caribbean and now heading toward Jamaica.

Plus, a member of Congress gets a crash course in airport security. We'll bring you that in the morning roundup.



HUNT: All right. Welcome back.

Jamaica bracing for impact as a historic hurricane marches across the Caribbean.

Hurricane Beryl is breaking records for the earliest Category 5 in recorded history in the Atlantic. Grenada and Barbados have already taken the brunt of the storm, which is being blamed for at least one death, while knocking out power across 95 percent of Grenada.

Now, Hurricane Beryl back over open water and bearing down on Jamaica, where local officials are rolling out emergency plans ahead of the storm's expected arrival on Wednesday.

Let's get to meteorologists Elisa Raffa with the latest on this hurricane.

Elisa, good morning.


Seeing some of the video of the damage that was left behind in parts of Barbados and Grenada. I mean, you're seeing some of the wind damage. Marinas that have just been rocked. And we even had some storm surge flooding roll through, as well. Some of that storm surge rolling through parts of Barbados, with some of that rain.

Again, as we went through the day yesterday, we had some of that storm surge flooding -- if I can get to the next video there.

But we're going to continue to find Beryl at this -- as this Category 5 storm, at least for the next day or so. And then it will start to weaken as we go through the day. And then we start to become -- still be a major the storm as it gets towards Jamaica. We're looking at some of these winds in Jamaica, arriving as we go into Wednesday.

We'll find some tropical-storm-force and hurricane-force winds as we go into Wednesday, looking at some four to eight inches of rain, and some three to five feet of storm surge.

So something that we'll have to continue to watch. And we'll be continuing to get updates from the National Hurricane Center as we go through the morning -- Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Elisa Raffa for us. Elisa, thank you very much for that.

Coming up next here, what the Supreme Court's immunity ruling means for Donald Trump's other criminal trials.

Plus Steve Bannon's last words before entering prison. That's ahead in your morning roundup.