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Harris Rallies Voters For Biden At Weekend Event; Hurricane Beryl Makes Landfall In Texas As Category 1; Hamas Drops Key Demand In Potential Ceasefire Deal. Aired 5:30-6a ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 05:30   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: It is 5:30 a.m. here in Washington and here is a live look at Houston, Texas. Just minutes ago, Hurricane Beryl made landfall just southwest of Houston as a category 1 hurricane. Ahead, we're going to go live to the Texas coast for an update on the storm's path and what to expect.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington. Great to be with you.

Vice President Kamala Harris is standing by her boss even as many in the party float the idea of her replacing him. Harris rallied voters during an appearance at the Essence Festival in New Orleans this weekend. During a 30-minute appearance on stage she dismissed ideas of Biden leaving the campaign, turning her focus on Donald Trump instead.

KAMALA HARRIS, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When the United States Supreme Court essentially told this individual who has been convicted of 34 felonies that he will be immune from essentially the activity he has told us he is prepared to engage in if he gets back into White House.


SCIUTTO: Joining us now, Tia Mitchell, Washington correspondent for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and Steve Neukam, congressional reporter for Axios.

Tia, you were with -- you were at this event over the weekend where the vice president appeared. Can you tell us about what the crowd there was saying and feeling about this race?

TIA MITCHELL, WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT, THE ATLANTA JOURNAL- CONSTITUTION: So, it was a really enthusiastic Biden-Harris crowd, and they were pumped up even before she got on the stage. There was a panel of Congressional Black Caucus members immediately --


MITCHELL: -- before the vice president. They encouraged the crowd to stick with the Biden-Harris ticket --

SCIUTTO: Um-hum.

MITCHELL: -- and said in no uncertain terms Biden is the nominee. And the crowd was with them. We talked to some voters in the crowd. I think there are Democratic voters who are open to Vice President Harris stepping up. They're upon to Biden stepping back.

I think there is a -- you know, a certain sector of Democratic voters who want Biden to step back. But there's another sector of Democratic voters -- I would argue a large sector of Democratic voters -- who agree with those Black Caucus members that Biden is the nominee, and they don't feel like there's evidence requiring him to have to step aside.

SCIUTTO: You know, Steve, we talk about this dynamic on the Republican side a lot -- you know, with Trump saying if you have the -- you may have the party -- well, this doesn't happen anymore, but you used to have some of the party grandees being uncomfortable with him and the base saying no, he's our guy.

And I wonder if you see a similar dynamic with Biden that they don't like to hear the Washington chattering classes discuss a replacement at the top of the ticket.

STEPHEN NEUKAM, CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Yeah. I mean, that's certainly what we're hearing from the Biden camp.

But I think the reality is, like, on Capitol Hill, this conversation is not going away. Lawmakers haven't been in D.C. for two weeks since the July Fourth break. They're going to be back starting today. It's much harder to avoid people like me when we're in the hallways and they're in the hallways.


NEUKAM: So we're going to get a better idea of what they're feeling and how they're feeling about the president going forward.

SCIUTTO: Um-hum.

NEUKAM: They've been able to hide behind the fact that they've been in their states on CODELs and what not. But this conversation is not going away and it's only going to get more intense as this week --


NEUKAM: -- goes on.

SCIUTTO: And listen, it's a small number that's gone public, so far in the House, with saying he should step aside. You do hear that in private there are more saying similar. And then you have others who go public, like Congressman Adam Schiff who hopes soon to be in the Senate in California. Listen to how he spoke regarding the president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): I think she has the experience, the judgment, the leadership ability to be an extraordinary president.

KRISTEN WELKER, MODERATOR, NBC "MEET THE PRESS": Could she win overwhelmingly, Congressman?

SCHIFF: I think she very well could win overwhelmingly. But before we get into a decision about who else it should be, the president needs to make the decision whether it's him.



SCIUTTO: Tia Mitchell, Adam Schiff did not say these questions should not be asked --


SCIUTTO: -- I'm with the president. He said well, here's how it would go down in effect. I mean, that's -- I mean, Schiff is quite prominent in the party.

MITCHELL: And I think that's where a lot of Democrats are. If Joe Biden woke up today and said I think it's time for me to step aside, I think there would be a lot of Democrats who would celebrate that and would be ready to move forward with Vice President Harris even if they do sort of a symbolic open mini primary --


MITCHELL: -- before she becomes officially the nominee.

But where they aren't -- the vast majority of Democrats are not at the position of publicly saying they want to encourage Biden to set aside. I think that's the difference. Most Democrats would be open to Biden stepping aside but few are willing to say I'm going to get ahead of the president and say --


MITCHELL: -- suggest he step aside.

SCIUTTO: Do -- Steve, do we know where the polling actually stands? CNN had some reporting just in the days right after the debate last week that even the Biden White House was aware that if support was plummeting, I believe was the word, that they would have to reconsider. But is there any evidence that his support is plummeting -- I mean, versus either internal or external polling?

NEUKAM: Well, we've seen maybe one internal from the Biden team that was not super disastrous.


NEUKAM: Some of the public polling has shown a mixed message. I think generally, if you aggregate it all we can make the conclusion that he has slid a bit since the debate, but maybe not catastrophically to a level where he can't make that up. Is he six points back? Is he eight points back?

But that's a calculation that Democrats up and down the ballot -- donors, especially are going to be looking at the polling and asking themselves can he beat Donald Trump? That's the number one question --


NEUKAM: -- that Democratic donors and lawmakers are worried about. Can he defeat Donald Trump?

SCIUTTO: Which, let's be frank, was already the question prior to the debate.

NEUKAM: Right, yes.

SCIUTTO: And there was -- there was not a sense in Washington that he had a -- you know, well, a strong -- not a lead but wasn't too far behind, like prior to the debate. And now that question seems to be more pointed.

Tia, you'll hear a lot of folks say that if Biden were to step aside it has to be the vice president. Is that actually true?

MITCHELL: I think so. I mean -- and again, I think that for -- kind of to put on a sense that it is open just to kind of bring voters along and make it seem a little bit more democratic and accepting all comers, they might kind of, again, symbolically do something perhaps. But it is -- if Biden steps aside, it would be almost impossible for it to be anyone but Kamala Harris.

Logistically, just with the money and the easy transfer to Harris. Also, just kind of with the framework of the Democratic Party -- how important Black voters are. How important women voters are. How important voters of color are.

Leapfrogging over Vice President Harris would bring its own set of political risks. And I -- and again, she's the vice president. She's the one who, quite frankly, can argue the most that she's ready to step in for President Biden.


MITCHELL: And so, I think all of those together make it -- make it hard.

SCIUTTO: And by the way, was on a winning ticket that beat Trump in 2020.

Tia Mitchell, Steve Neukam, thanks so much for both of you.

Another story we've been following closely, Hurricane Beryl strengthens to a category 1 hurricane overnight, and it just made landfall this morning near Matagorda Beach about 150 north of Corpus Christie. Multiple hurricane warnings are now in place. Millions are also under a tornado watch, including the Houston area, as winds reach up to 80 miles an hour.

Meteorologist Derek Van Dam has been tracking all of it for us from Port Lavaca, Texas. Derek, we talked about a half-hour ago. What's it been looking since?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: All right, Jim, yeah. You're witnessing the first strike -- the first landfalling hurricane of the 2024 Atlantic hurricane season, and it has got quite the bite to it. We are getting here periodic wind gusts over 50 miles per hour here in Port Lavaca. And yeah, it's enough to throw your hat off and obviously, enough to cause some problems. The power is starting to flicker in some areas along the coastline here.

And there has been reports of wind gusts up to 89 miles per hour along the Matagorda Bay Channel when this made landfall roughly 40 minutes ago.

Tide levels are running about two to five feet about normal tide right now, so they still anticipate a push from the Gulf of Mexico waters that could increase those tide levels as we go forward here through the course of this morning.

Take a look at the graphics. This is important because we still have a category 1 hurricane, but it has now moved onshore. And why is that significant? Well, it's losing its energy source -- that being the warm ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico. So we expect a transition now to a weakening storm going forward, but not before producing quite a punch. We still have a lot of wind, a lot of rain, and the flood threats going forward.


There is this eastern quadrant of a hurricane that is the most dangerous part aside from the direct eyewall where the strongest winds are. We often get these spin-up tornadoes that we have seen even with this hurricane, with a tornado watch that is valid through 10:00 a.m. from the coastline -- the central coastline of Texas right through Harris County, including you in Kingston.

You've got a rude awakening this morning coming off of a long holiday weekend and then all of a sudden heading back to work. Tornadoes and wind gusts in excess of 50 to 60 miles per hour. It will be tough.

We don't have to go back that far in history -- a few weeks ago when we had the straightline winds that caused the damage in Houston to the high-rise buildings. We don't want to see a repeat of that, certainly.

Look at this current winds right -- 33 miles per hour in Galveston but gusting to 67. Remember, hurricane-force is 74 miles per hour, so we're not that far away from that reading as we speak.

But it's the rain -- the flash flood potential and the storm surge in combination with that we're worried about. We've already seen over and inch and a half of rain over the past three hours in Lake Jackson. Accumulated more than that in some locations. And then going forward, five to 10 inches -- potentially, higher than a foot in some localized areas. That will cause rapid rises in rivers, street flooding -- typical.

But this is not another Harvey. Back in August of 2017, remember, Harvey stalled over eastern Texas and did a loop four days after it made landfall. The difference with Beryl -- Hurricane Beryl is this will be making a beeline towards the U.S. and Canada border by Wednesday and Thursday of this week. So it is going to move out very quickly and that will limit the flash flooding from this storm.

Nonetheless, it's a powerful storm -- the first one of the season. The first bite, the first sting, the first strike -- we're feeling it now -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Yeah, and a relief that it's coming during low tide given storm surge one of the primary threats.


SCIUTTO: Derek Van Dam -- I've said it before and I'll say it again, stay safe. Thanks so much.

Just ahead, Hamas has now dropped a key demand in its ongoing ceasefire talks with Israel. Where does that leave us?

Plus, history about to be made at the Major League Baseball All-Star Game.



SCIUTTO: A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas could be within sight this morning. A senior Hamas official tells CNN they are considering dropping a key demand that Israel agree to a permanent ceasefire before the signing of any deal.

In response, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office released a set of demands, including shutting down weapons smuggling between Hamas via the Egyptian border, and giving all living Israel hostages -- getting them all released from captivity.

Joining me now, Joel Rubin, former deputy assistant Secretary of State during the Obama administration.

So, Joel, as you know, we've been here before where it seems like the sides have gotten closer and you have -- you have visits like CIA Dir. Burns going to the region.


SCIUTTO: Typically, he won't go unless he feels like he could bring the side together. But then, hopes are dashed. I mean, do you feel that this moment is different and the sides are

actually closer?

RUBIN: Yeah. Jim. I'm cautiously optimistic. Look, there's a bit of a Groundhog Day, clearly. We have seen these kinds of close calls before --

SCIUTTO: Um-hum.

RUBIN: -- but the dynamics are different now in that there is pressure from the outside in a manner that we haven't quite seen. There's -- coming up in a few weeks, Bibi Netanyahu will be here in the United States, so he has to have some kind of deliverable that he can bring.

Internally, inside Israel, the IDF wants a ceasefire. Wants to see a process to get the hsotages back and consolidate the wins in Gaza. And then, Hamas is, as you point out, coming to the table with some new changes and adjustments.

So they're going to meet in Doha on Wednesday -- all four parties -- and negotiate to then talk to Hamas. They're going to get together. And my understanding is that there is cautious optimism but these are hard negotiations.

SCIUTTO: What has changed from Netanyahu's perspective because there has been a read, even inside Israel, that he wants to extend the war? Is it --

RUBIN: Yeah.

SCIUTTO: -- because the Israeli military is saying they need a pause now?

RUBIN: A couple of things are going on.

First and foremost, is that the IDF -- the Israeli Defense Forces -- they understand that they have a threat from the north in Hezbollah. They do not want to spend all of their time focused on Gaza. They want to see it stabilized.

SCIUTTO: Um-hum.

RUBIN: They are concerned about the day-after scenario -- about what comes next. Benny Gantz left the war cabinet -- he's a centrist leader -- because of those concerns.

And then also, they're realizing that getting the hostages out is going to require --


RUBIN: -- the same effort that they had in November, which is a negotiated exit of these hostages.

SCIUTTO: And there's enormous political pressure from inside Israel, including from hostage families and protesters.

RUBIN: Yeah.

SCIUTTO: I want to play some sound from one of those protesters in Jerusalem this weekend.


OFER YITZHAKI, ISRAELI RESIDENT: We came here today to get our voices heard. We want to say that we want our brothers and sisters that are hostages in Gaza back home. We want to praise (PH) the same war to end. And let us know whoever the new leadership, everybody cares about us.


SCIUTTO: I mean, one of the most powerful voices, frankly --

RUBIN: Yeah.

SCIUTTO: -- beyond the protesters, of course, is the hostage families.

RUBIN: That's right.

SCIUTTO: And we've spoken to a lot of them on this network, certainly.

But Netanyahu has resisted that pressure for a number of months. Does he feel that the pressure has reached some sort of breaking point for him?

RUBIN: Well, he's resisted the pressure, clearly. But at the same time, the reality is that the number one way to get a signficaitn number of hostages out is a negotiated agreement. We saw that back in November. That consistently stays as the model. A few hostages have been freed from military action, but there was a huge loss in civilian lives alongside that.


And I think the Israeli Defense Forces -- they understand that this is what is needed. And the pressure from inside Netanyahu's --

SCIUTTO: Um-hum.

RUBIN: -- coalition, while hard on the hard-right, he will have a cushion from the left if he chooses to go forward with the deal, which he might be threatened from his far-right but I think the Israeli public, broadly speaking would support --

SCIUTTO: Would support it.

RUBIN: -- some kind of agreement.

SCIUTTO: And listen, some of the Israeli hostages have been killed by Israeli military action.

RUBIN: Yeah.

SCIUTTO: How about Hamas' position here? Because there's also been a read that it's in Hamas' interest to extend -- to extend the fight despite the enormous loss of live among Palestinians who live there (PH).

RUBIN: Look, Hamas is not fighting this to save Palestinian lives. My view all along on this is that Hamas has been very comfortable in seeing Palestinian casualties continue. They believe that creates on pressure Israel. But the cost is so high. The Palestinian people are suffering so much.

And there is real pressure coming from our allies -- from Egypt, from Qatar, from around the region -- to tell Hamas that this is the time to pull back. We see Hamas under duress inside of Gaza and they know it's going to continue. And no agreement means continued pressure, continued action. It may cause casualties at a level again that perhaps it will --


RUBIN: -- influence them.

But really, at the end of the day, this is a window. The window is narrowing right now for an agreement -- very close.

SCIUTTO: And there's even been some public criticism in Gaza of Hamas, which is -- which is the greatest thing to do --

RUBIN: Yeah.

SCIUTTO: -- given how Hamas deals with --

RUBIN: And they deserve it.

SCIUTTO: -- its critics.

I want to ask you about President Biden's role here because Biden -- the Biden administration and certainly, Biden himself have been hugely invested in these negotiations here.

RUBIN: Yeah.

SCIUTTO: Of course, Biden facing his own political crisis here at home.

From the administration's perspective, how important would a deal -- would they view a deal as sort of victory for Biden's leadership?

RUBIN: I mean, this is -- this could be a tremendous validation of the president's policy in the region. He has been pursuing this for the past couple of months -- this multi-staged agreement.

SCIUTTO: Um-hum. RUBIN: It's not just a one-off. It's not a hostage exchange type of arrangement solely. It's about stabilizing Gaza for the long run. It's about providing security for Israel. It's about preventing counterinsurgency and bringing security and stability to the Palestinian people as well.

This would provide a significant win for the president and for American foreign policy across the region, which desperately needs --


RUBIN: -- to see some kinds of positive momentum.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. They certainly invest a lot of diplomatic capital in this.

Joel Rubin, thanks so much.

RUBIN: Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Angel Reese has only played 20 WNBA games, but she's already etched her name in the record book.

Carolyn Manno has this morning's Bleacher Report. Tell us what it is.


Well, at the beginning of the season, all eyes, as you know, were on number-one draft pick Caitlin Clark. But the Chicago Sky's Angel Reese is quickly making her case for Rookie of the Year, posting a league record 13th consecutive double-double. She scored 17 points. She grabbed 14 rebounds on Sunday. It's remarkable what she is doing as a rookie.

That layup midway through the third quarter marking that milestone. Reese passing Candace Parker who previously held the longest streak with 12 straight stretching across the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

But with the sweet does come the bitter. Chicago ended up losing to the Seattle Storm 84-71. Still, a remarkable day for Angel Reese.


ANGEL REESE, FORWARD, CHICAGO SKY: I'm just trying to be consistent for my teammates, doing whatever I can to help my team. And I think I didn't do enough tonight but just being able to be there for my teammates and knowing that I have a job to do every day no matter if I'm a rookie or a vet.


MANNO: Reese not the only player to make history yesterday. Las Vegas Aces star A'ja Wilson pouring in 28 points to become the franchise's all-time leading scorer. The number one overall selection in the 2018 draft now has 4,301 career points. The Aces beating the Wings 104-85. She's a fantastic teammate, too. In the meantime, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo is

headed to the Olympics for the first time in his career. He led the Greek national team to an 80-69 win over Croatia in the final of their qualifying tournament.

The win officially earning Greece a spot in the Olympics for the first time in 16 years and left Giannis in tears after the final horn. He was born in Athens. He's been a mainstay on the Greek national team for years now. And now, his country is stepping up on the international stage there, one of the field of 12 that is set for the Paris Games in just a couple of weeks' time.

The world's second-ranked female tennis player is out at Wimbledon. Coco Gauff losing to another American Emma Navarro in straight sets. Navarro is the 19th seed at Wimbledon. Gauff won the U.S. Open last year. She's never made it past the fourth round at Wimbledon. And Navarro is going to be playing in her first-ever Grand Slam quarterfinal when she faces Italian Jasmine Paolini on Tuesday.

And lastly for you this morning, it is hard to top the year that Pittsburgh Pirates rookie Paul Skenes is having. Just eight weeks after making his Major League debut, the 22-year-old has been selected for next week's All-Star Game.


And check out the moment that manager Derek Shelton told him the news. Pretty good.

Skenes is the first player to earn the honor this season after giving drafted first overall in the MLB draft. He also won a national championship with LSU last year.

The All-Star game is going to be held one week from tomorrow in Arlington, Texas, Jim, on July 16.

And you know what? Twenty-two years old -- he said hey, this is pretty cool, and he thanked his teammates for welcoming him in and being such a strong support system. But such a 22-year-old thing to say -- yeah, this is cool -- an All-Star nod, pretty cool.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. I mean, listen, two months in Major League Baseball. Folks will play years and years and never get that honor.

MANNO: Incredible.

SCIUTTO: Carolyn, thanks so much.

MANNO: Sure.

SCIUTTO: And coming up, a critical week for President Biden as more Democrats go public to say he needs to step aside. Plus, a recharged Hurricane Beryl has slammed into the Texas coastline.