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CNN This Morning

Hurricane Beryl Makes Landfall in Texas; Joe Biden Defiant in the Wake of Calls from His Own Party to Bow Out of His Bid for a Second Term; Hamas Signals a Potential Shift in Their Key Demand to Help Cross the Finish Line for a Ceasefire Deal with Israel. Aired 5- 5:30a ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 05:00   ET



JIM SCIUTTO, ANCHOR, CNN THIS MORNING: It is Monday, July 8th, right now on CNN THIS MORNING. Beryl making landfall on the coast of Texas as it picks up steam back to a hurricane. Plus, a high-stakes week for the President's re-election campaign. Joe Biden defiant in the wake of calls from his own party to bow out of his bid for a second term.

Hamas signals a potential shift in their key demand to help cross the finish line for a ceasefire deal with Israel. It is 5:00 a.m. here in Washington, here's a live look at Galveston, Texas. Good morning, everyone, I'm Jim Sciutto, great to be with you today.

Hurricane Beryl strengthening to a Category One hurricane overnight, making landfall actually just moments ago near Matagorda Beach, about 150 miles north of Corpus Christi. More than 7 million people are under a tornado-watch, including the Houston area as winds reach up to 80 miles an hour.


LINA HIDALGO, JUDGE, HARRIS COUNTY, TEXAS: Just know it's going to be wet, it's going to be windy and it's going to be dangerous. Do not go out.


SCIUTTO: Beryl is expected to bring life-threatening storm surge and flooding to the region, multiple hurricane warnings are now in effect. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam is tracking all of it first for us live from Port Lavaca, Texas. And Derek, gosh, I can see, you're getting a taste of it there, so it's just made landfall now. What do we expect to happen next?

DEREK VAN DAM, METEOROLOGIST: Yes, right now, we are witnessing the first hurricane of the Atlantic, 2024 season, making landfall here along the central Texas coast. And we are just a few miles away from where that eye is crossing over the Texas coastline.

That is why we are getting buffeted by these strong tropical storm- force gusts in excessive 50 miles per hour. This storm has rewritten history books, and I had a dubious track record being named for, now over ten days, finally making its third landfall here in the continent of -- United States.

So, let's get right to the threats and the graphics. The latest radar satellite imagery shows this 80-mile per hour Category One storm making landfall, and look at that eastern eye, that is the strongest part of the storm, we call it the dirty part of the storm, and that's where we have a tornado watch.

And that includes portions of Galveston and into Harris County, Matagorda County where I'm located now. The eye-wall is now making landfall, so, we have had more than 50 percent of the eye which you see, we've indicated there with that circle cross over land.

So, that is why the National Hurricane Center has just within the past three minutes called landfall because of that very moment of the 50 percent of the eye-wall cross through. So, on that eastern periphery, that is the eastern side of the storm, that's the most dangerous part of a hurricane, that is where we get these spin-up tornadoes.

We have had tornado warnings in some of the lesser populated areas near the coastline, but the tornado includes Houston and it's valid through 10:00 a.m. this morning. Look at the wind threat map because this is significant as well. Tropical storm-force winds, if you're listening from Houston this morning, you have a rude awakening coming off of a 4th of July holiday weekend, heading back to work, heading back to your day-to-day business.

And yes, you could be feeling gusts in excess of 60 miles per hour today, and some of the current gusts right now, pretty impressive, 38 miles per hour there in Galveston, 28 in Port Lavaca where I'm located, certainly higher at times. But we can't forget about the storm surge potential.

We realized about a foot of storm-surge in the Lavaca Bay directly behind me yesterday. That was above normal high tide levels, we are now in low tides. So, this is kind of the saving grace for this storm, Jim, because the peak of the storm, the landfall is occurring during low tide, so hopefully, that minimizes some of the storm surge potential at least, but there will still be problems right along the immediate coastline, 4 to 7 feet as you can see on the graphic.

Now, the rain threat, this is going to create flash flooding potential, 5 to 10 inches with locally over a foot of rain in this forecast.


We've already received over 2 inches in Lake Jackson, 1 inch in Galveston, Houston. Those numbers are only going to go up from here because that right side, that right quadrant I keep talking about of this hurricane is headed your way. And look at how much precipitation will fall. This isn't a Harvey, this will not stall out over eastern Texas.

This thing is going to make a beeline for the central parts of the states. And by Wednesday and Thursday, it will be knocking on the doorstep of the U.S. and Canada border. So, it's going to race out of here where Harvey in 2017 stalled over eastern Texas for four days.

So, that is the difference. Certainly, a big storm to contend with on a Monday morning coming up from a holiday, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yes, folks in Houston have to be looking out. Derek Van Dam, keep yourself and your team safe. Thanks so much for joining this morning. Well, back to the storm in politics here in Washington. President Biden's grip on the Democratic Party, at least in the House, may be slipping this morning.

Several top House Democrats tell minority leader Hakeem Jeffries that the president needs to step aside. Sources tell CNN, a Sunday call with ranking members was filled with concern about potential damage to the entire Democratic ticket up and down the ballot and the impact on Democrat's chances of flipping the House in November.

The President, he remains defiant, staying in the race at least for now as he prepares to welcome dozens of world leaders to Washington for the NATO Summit this week.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President, will you have to convince NATO that you're up for the job?!



SCIUTTO: Only a handful of Democrats have publicly stated that Biden should end his re-election bid, but Democratic Senator Chris Murphy says the President needs to do more to reassure voters.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I think the President needs to do more. I'm not advising this campaign, but if I were, I would probably suggest that the President get out there and do a town hall, that he -- do a press conference, that he shows the country that he is still the old Joe Biden. Let's just be honest, I think there are still questions out there in the minds of many voters.


SCIUTTO: Joining me now is "Axios" political reporter Stef Kight. So, let's talk first about the Senate Democrats meeting because this was supposed to happen under the direction of Mark Warner here scrapped, and I wonder, was it scrapped because Senate Democrats don't want to talk about this? They're not where House Democrats are or was it scrapped because it got public.

STEF KIGHT, POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: You know, I mean, what we're hearing is that it's because it got public.


KIGHT: That's what our sources who told us as well that this was going to be scrapped because they felt like they couldn't have a candid conversation with Senate Democrats because of the way the news about the meeting leaked, and I'm sure seeing the fallout of this House meeting where you know, pretty much immediately, we all knew what was said on --

SCIUTTO: Right --

KIGHT: That call. We all knew that there were now four additional House Democrats who are calling for Biden to step aside, and more than those four express serious concerns. And so, this is, you know, a very politically-tenuous situation for Democrats to be in.

And this week is going to be hugely important, and whether we see, you know, the handful of people who have come out on the record and called on Biden to step aside, whether that trickle turns into a flood this week, it's going to really be a make or break week for Biden.

SCIUTTO: What is the sense of what kind of numbers the party is seeing here? I know that they tend -- they tend not to share the bad numbers, they'll share the good numbers. And there was a poll circulating just in the days immediately following the debate, the White House was saying, hey, it's not looking so bad.

That the "New York Times"-Siena poll did see some bleeding of support. But do you have a sense of where Democrats believe the race is today?

KIGHT: I mean, there's certainly concern. Everyone I've talked to says that they're concerned about the impact this could have down-ballot, and certainly, you know, Republicans see this as an opportunity to go on offense, and we've already seen them starting to try to tie the Senate Democrats to their defense of Biden's age.

So, you know, I think it is early, a lot could happen between now and November, but where things stand right now, this does seem to be a real concern not only for Biden, but also, you know, throughout the entire ballot for Democrats.

SCIUTTO: There's still some voters who say they're sticking with Biden, and some of them even defiantly -- I've spoken to Democrats, Maria Cardona says in meeting with -- in meeting with focus groups that some of them are even defiantly saying enough of your sort of Washington charter about Biden getting out -- getting out, we're still with him. Is that a dynamic that others in the party see as well?

KIGHT: Certainly, there are certainly people who are going to be sticking with Biden no matter what. I've spoken to lawmakers who are on that side of things who say, you know, I'm riding with Biden, I'm sticking with him. He is our best opportunity going forward, it's too late to change things up at this point.

And so, the reality is, we have heard people from both sides of this issue in the Democratic Party. We have a small number of people who have said Biden needs to step aside. We have a small number of people who are saying, no, he needs to stay in, we all need to stick with our presidential candidate.


But the reality is, the vast majority of lawmakers have been quiet or at least been willing to express concern, even Chris Murphy, you know, who has been defensive, willing to say, look, this is a real thing we need to talk about and Biden has a big week to prove himself.

SCIUTTO: Yes, there are a number of Democrats who are saying that in private, there are far more Democrats who would like to see a change at the top of the ticket. You reported last week that Biden has engaged in fewer press conferences or interviews that any of the last seven presidents. Tell us about that, and I wonder how much this opens up the White House to criticism that they were holding him back on purpose.

KIGHT: I think it's hugely contributing to the issue they're dealing with and they have been dealing with over the past couple of weeks. This is as much a media story as it is a politics story right now, and the reality is that many people, you know, saw Biden at the debate and felt like, wait, we haven't actually seen him have to answer these kinds of questions in a public fashion in a very long time, which only added to just the spectacle of it.

And now has raised concerns in, you know, moving on from that about how the media has covered it, and whether we've been pushing hard enough on those concerns.

SCIUTTO: Listen, at the end of the day, it's the President's choice though. So, he can hear this from House Democrats and others, but it's got to be his choice in the end --

KIGHT: Exactly --

SCIUTTO: Stef Knight(ph), thanks so much.

KIGHT: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Stef Kight, I said Knight(ph). Ahead, a stunning upset in France's parliamentary elections leaves the country facing political gridlock. Plus, another story we're following. Hamas reportedly has dropped a key demand in the potential Gaza ceasefire deal, will this move them over the finish line? And Las Vegas smashes its all-time heat record. All time, as temperatures in the west soar.



SCIUTTO: France's political pendulum swinging hard left in Sunday's second round parliamentary vote, leaving the government effectively gridlocked.



SCIUTTO: It was a big surprise, Paris crowds celebrating the New Popular Front's 182-seat win, even though that fell short of a majority. President Emmanuel Macron, central -- centrist Ensemble Alliance captured 163 seats and the far-right National Rally finished third after a strong showing in the first round.

Frankly, the fears were, they were going to win. French Prime Minister Gabriel Attal also resigned Sunday, while the leader of the far-right said the country has now been thrown into instability.


JORDAN BARDELLA, LEADER, FAR-RIGHT NATIONAL RALLY PARTY (through translator): Tonight, by deliberating trying to paralyze our institutions, Emmanuel Macron has not simply pushed the country toward uncertainty and instability. He has deprived the French people of any response to their day-to-day difficulties for many months to come.


SCIUTTO: CNN's Max Foster joins us now live from the balcony of the Eiffel Tower in Paris. And Max, this was an enormous surprise, everyone was bracing themselves for the far-right's biggest victory, certainly in France, arguably, and in Europe in decades, it didn't happen. So, what happens now?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: So, you've now got as everyone suggesting deadlock in parliament because you've got three main blocs who none of them have a majority. And the one with the biggest majority is pretty chaotic.

If you look back on their history, they managed to unite in the -- in the last week around the idea of squeezing out the far-right. So, the moderates and all those leftist parties, but there's a huge range of policy differences between them. Somehow they've got to come together and decide who should be prime minister, and that's going to be incredibly difficult.

I was speaking to someone from the far left, she's insisting that they can happen, and this, you know, leftist alliance is now a united bloc. But if you look back in history, it just hasn't been what the right has always had against the left, is that they're much more organized.

And I have to, you know, a word of caution about the headline here, which is the left rising to the top, the right also did extremely well, much better than they have done in other elections. They've got a lot of seats, well over a 100. So, over time, the right is building here, and I was speaking to one of Macron's MPs who suggested actually in the long term, you might look at this as a win for the right.

So, it's quite complex picture, but there's certainly the middle ground held and the left really helped it.

SCIUTTO: Let me -- let me ask you this because as you know, there was a lot of strategic politicking here for the second round of elections in districts where you had one candidate drop out in effect to unite the opposition to the right. In France, is this being read as a result of that arguably smart politicking or as a rejection of the right and some of its policies?

FOSTER: It was partly that politicking, but also a massive turnout. So, people looked to what happened last weekend and many more people voted in the second round of the election, and clearly, there was a lot of shock there about the prospect about the right, the far-right taking control of the country.

So, democracy also played into this, but that tactical -- the tactical way the left and the moderates came together to squeeze out the right certainly had a play here. They're saying they're united. But in terms of policy, they're going to have to come up with some sort of idea that works for everyone.

And it's really the test if he's going to be the Prime Minister. Also the Prime Minister, you know, got the Olympics coming up here. I think everyone's agreed that you want to have some consistency there and Attal is saying he will stay in as long -- as long as it takes to get a new Prime Minister.


So, I think the -- you know, the Olympics looks safe. I think if the far-right had one here, the Olympics would have, you know, a high chance according to the cigarette experts, it would have been some demos and violence, but that's been avoided as well.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it was certainly a lot of concern about the reaction to that at the Olympics. The want the Olympics to go well, I think we all do. Max Foster in Paris, thanks so much. Coming up next, Vice President Kamala Harris standing by the President while some members of her party want to replace him. Plus, Boeing accepting a plea deal from the DOJ, it's in your morning round up, that's next.



SCIUTTO: It's 24 minutes past the hour, and here is your morning round up. Boeing pleading guilty to criminal fraud charges stemming from two 737 Max crashes killed some 346 people. The DOJ finding the company violated an agreement, protected it from prosecution for more than three years.

Boeing also has to pay a fine of $243 million in order to avoid a trial. Extreme heat in Death Valley leaves one person dead, another in the hospital, a high temperature of 128 degrees recorded over the weekend. Detroit police say a shooting at a black party early Sunday morning left two people dead, 19 others injured.

Victims range in age from 17 to 28, no one is in custody, investigation is ongoing. The Lake Fire in California expanding to nearly 19,000 acres. It's only 8 percent contained. The flames prompting more evacuations in Santa Barbara. And coming up next, how Vice President Kamala Harris is handling the panic over President Biden's re-election bid. Plus, Hurricane Beryl making landfall in Texas in just the last half-hour. We're going to bring you the latest.