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Ranking Democrats Raise Concerns about Biden as Nominee; Category 1 Hurricane Beryl Makes Landfall in Texas. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 06:00   ET


JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: It is Monday, July 8th. Right now on CNN THIS MORNING, Joe Biden's presidency is hanging in the balance as more top Democrats say it is time for him to step aside.


Breaking overnight, Hurricane Beryl made landfall as a Category 1 storm just in the last hour. We're going to be live on the Texas coast, ahead.

Boeing taking a plea deal from the Justice Department to avoid vase -- facing trial on criminal fraud charges.

And France facing the possibility of political paralysis after what was a stunning election outcome for the left.

It is 6 a.m. here in Washington. Here's a live look at Surfside Beach, Texas. Just in the last hour, Hurricane Beryl made landfall nearby as a Category 1 hurricane, that storm bringing life-threatening flooding. More than 130,000 people without power.

Throughout the hour, we're going to bring you live to the Texas coast for the latest updates and forecast.

Very good morning to everyone. I'm Jim Sciutto in for Kasie Hunt today, and it is great to be with you.

This is the week that could make or break Joe Biden's reelection bid. A growing number of Democrats, though a small number, is now questioning his capacity to serve a second term. Many in private, some out loud.

Sources tell CNN House Minority Leader Hakeem Jeffries held a call on Sunday with ranking Democrats, and at least six of them expressed opposition to Biden as the party's nominee. Republicans (sic) Mark Takano, Adam Schiff, Jim Himes, Joe Morelle, Jerry Nadler, and Susan Wild.

Five others have already spoken out publicly against Biden: Representatives Lloyd Doggett, Seth Moulton, Raul Grijalva, Angie Craig, and Mike Quigley on this broadcast.

At this moment, President Biden remains defiant, refusing to even acknowledge the dissent within the ranks.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Is the Democratic Party behind you, sir?



SCIUTTO: Several prominent Democrats are still on the fence, waiting to see if Biden can indeed weather the storm, but they all agree the president needs to do more to combat voters' skepticism.


SEN. CHRIS MURPHY (D-CT): I love Joe Biden. I don't know that the interview on Friday night did enough to answer those questions.

And so, I think this week is going to be absolutely critical. I think --

REP. MAXINE WATERS (D-CA): Biden is not going anywhere. He has been strong in saying that in the last day or two. He's not going to be pushed out.

REP. ADAM SCHIFF (D-CA): He should take a moment to make the best- informed judgment. And if the judgment is run, then run hard and beat that S.O.B.


SCIUTTO: White House sources described the mood in the West Wing as grim. The full House Democratic Caucus will meet on Tuesday. One senior member told CNN that could be the day the dam breaks, but we haven't seen it yet.

Let's bring in Matt Gorman, former senior adviser to Tim Scott's presidential campaign; Meghan Hays, former special assistant to President Biden; and Alex Thompson, national political reporter for Axios.

Meghan, where do we stand here? Because there were moments last week when the Washington chattering classes, who are often wrong, said it's over for Biden. It's not clear that's true.

MEGHAN HAYS, FORMER SPECIAL ASSISTANT TO PRESIDENT BIDEN: No, I think that he's doing what people are asking him to do, right? He spent the weekend campaigning. He did the interview, which was a net neutral for him.

And then he was out campaigning. He spent an entire day, was in Wisconsin. He talked to reporters under the wing. He was doing OTR, talking to voters. He gave a speech at a rally.

Like, he's doing the things that are -- people are asking him to do.

So now -- and he's very clearly said he will not drop out. So now we have to wait and see. He has a big week this week. NATO is in town. He has a press conference on Thursday. So, this is a make-or-break week for him.

SCIUTTO: Do you, Alex -- I mean, you've been doing a lot of reporting on this, Alex. What is the actual mood inside the party as to whether he should stay in the race?

ALEX THOMPSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, AXIOS: Well, it's completely divided. I mean, and I think if you put them all on truth serum, a lot of them would probably like for him to withdraw and step aside. Not just because of concerns about their own elections now and concerns about him draw -- like hurting them, hurting them and hurting the party in November.

But also, I think concerns about what happens after November if he wins. And I think real concerns about his age and about his mental fitness, you know, four-and-a-half years from now.

The other thing I was talking to someone who's known Joe Biden for a very long time, has worked for Joe Biden. And the thing that you have to remember, though, is you're probably going to see a lot of Democrats come out and say exactly that this week, especially with Congress back in session.

But the thing is, Joe Biden may not care.



THOMPSON: The thing is that it is a commandment within the inner, inner circle, Joe Biden's world, that he is the most electable person against Donald Trump --


THOMPSON: -- which they see as an existential threat. And he's not going to get out unless he is shown conclusive evidence that he no longer is the most electable.

SCIUTTO: Yes, it's interesting. I mean, he doesn't care, but he may -- he may care in the sense that the more folks say get out, he digs his heels in even deeper --

THOMPSON: A hundred percent.

SCIUTTO: -- knowing -- knowing the Biden personality.

THOMPSON: If you get -- if you have a rich hedge-fund guy being like, I'm not going to give my money anymore, that -- nothing could make Joe Biden want to campaign even harder than that.

SCIUTTO: Matt Gorman, what do Republicans want here? It's not their choice, but what do they want?

MATT GORMAN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISOR TO TIM SCOTT'S 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: I mean, we're ready for, I think, whatever. I think we thought, if you asked us maybe a week ago, we thought, OK, Kamala is going to be a fait accompli.

As of yesterday, I'm starting to -- kind of hit me. He could gut this out. And he could use the playbook fashioned by Bill Clinton in '92, Gennifer Flowers; Trump with Access Hollywood, where, look, don't apologize, don't back down. Not one iota. Let your enemies throw you out through the official machinations of power. Ralph Northam did it. Andrew Cuomo tried to do it. If he wasn't being impeached.

And look, it's an iron -- wry little twist of fate that he could be following, in a way, Donald Trump's playbook here.

But I'm -- I always had to laugh, because when they -- folks like the governors are all banding together, yes, well, because no one has to share a ballot with Joe Biden this year. Of course, they're going to band together. They can say whatever they want.


GORMAN: Congress this week --


GORMAN: -- is going to be so crucial, because those would be the people that are going to be sharing the ballot with him.

SCIUTTO: And you hear -- its frontline Democrats --

GORMAN: Absolutely.

SCIUTTO: -- who are concerned about the potential effect on the race.

HAYS: But you think, though, that it's interesting that these Democrats are asking him to step aside when their constituency -- constituencies voted for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the primaries? Like, they're going against the will of their constituencies.

GORMAN: Primaries.

HAYS: Well, but it's still a primary.

GORMAN: Come on. Come on.

HAYS: It's still a primary.

GORMAN: Come on. It was an incumbent president kind of like --

HAYS: It doesn't --

GORMAN: It was as close to a primary as you can get. Like, as close as you can get.

HAYS: Their constituencies still went out and cast ballots for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. So how did they now, like, go against what their people asked?

GORMAN: I think there's a lot better arguments then really -- HAYS: I mean, I literally was asking the question.

GORMAN: OK, sorry. But like, I -- I think that it's -- it's hard to compare, like, a incumbent president primary. It's like saying, you know, George W. Bush won the '04 primary. Congratulations to George W. Bush.

I think what it's really going to come down to is it's a standoff, right? If they don't believe that Joe Biden's going to step aside --


GORMAN: -- they are scared to say, "Step aside." They don't want to get all the cannon fodder.

But without a groundswell of Democrats, there's no conclusive proof, right?

SCIUTTO: Alex, I want to ask you, because early on, it was CNN's reporting last week that the Biden team acknowledged that, if they saw polls are plummeting, his support plummeting -- That was the word in CNN's reporting -- that he might reconsider.


SCIUTTO: The polling I've seen has been kind of all over the place, as it often is. And by the way, when you look at a place like France, you know, you don't -- don't invest too much in polls. We learned that lesson a long time ago.

But is there any hard data to show a significant drop in Biden's support since the debate?

THOMPSON: I mean, depends on your definition of significant. There has been a drop of support. There is overwhelming evidence that it's, you know, a few points here and there, but it is not the floor falling out that maybe we would expect.

And I think part of that is not necessarily just Joe Biden's strength. It's sort of the Trump polarization effect.


THOMPSON: The fact is that tens of millions of people in this country would vote for Joe Biden at 120-years-old, over -- you know, if Trump's on the ballot. So, I think that's also part of the reason why maybe you have -- you still see him above 40 percent in a lot of these polls.

SCIUTTO: Meghan Hays, there's the will he run question, and then there's the should he run question.

As a Democrat, you worked for President Biden. You have seen the change -- and there is a change in the way he answers questions, his energy, his quickness, et cetera. It's obvious to folks who watch him in public forums. Should he run? HAYS: Yes. I mean, he's -- he is the person who was elected in the

primaries, and he is a person who's on the ticket.

SCIUTTO: Not an open primary.

HAYS: Well, it doesn't matter. It's still a primary. And until I still -- I just think he's taking it to the people. He's going out there. He's doing what he needs to do. He is showing that the debate night was an abnormal event for him.

He just spent the last weekend out campaigning and talking to voters. So, I'm not sure what we want from him.

He's never going to be perfect. He's never going to be someone that gets every fact right, or every word right. And it's just -- so it's -- I think we have to decide whether or not we want to keep talking about this as Democrats.


HAYS: Or whether or not we want to continue to go -- or we want to go back to talking about Donald Trump.

SCIUTTO: And this -- I mean, this could be the week where that decision is made, at least for some Democrats.

Meghan, Matt, Alex, good to have you all.

Coming up next, millions of Texans bracing for flooding and possible tornadoes, as well, as Hurricane Beryl makes landfall.

Plus, Senator Marco Rubio trying to create distance between Donald Trump and the controversial Project 2025. A lot of Trump allies involved in that project, by the way.

And dozens of looters ransacking an Oakland gas station. One of the five things you have to see this morning.



SCIUTTO: The first hurricane of the Atlantic season has made landfall on the central Texas coast this morning near Matagorda, about 150 miles North of Corpus Christi.

Hurricane Beryl bringing heavy rain, powerful winds, life-threatening storm surge, and flooding to the state. More than 7 million people are under a tornado watch, as well, including the Houston area.

More than 130,000 customers in Texas without power already.


LT. GOV. DAN PATRICK (R-TX): It will be a deadly storm for people who are directly in that path. LINA HIDALGO, JUDGE, HARRIS COUNTY: 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: Yes. You often hear that advice with storms like this. Don't go out. It's dangerous.

Meteorologist Derek van Dam joins us now, live from Port Lavaca, Texas. He's out there so we can know what it all looks like.

What -- what are you seeing on the ground?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Sharing -- sharing the dangers of this storm with our viewers this morning, Jim.

Yes, we are witnessing and feeling the brunt of this first hurricane strike of the Atlantic 2024 hurricane season, and it's got quite a bite to it. A lot of sting to these tropical-force gusts that come through the Port Lavaca region where I'm located along the central Texas coastline.

There's already been gusts of 89 miles per hour at the Matagorda Bay inlets. There has been two to five feet of storm surge above normal tide levels. Galveston Bay at four feet above tide levels now and rapidly rising.

I want to show you the current radar and satellites. The storm has moved on shore. That means it's lost its energy source, which of course, is the ocean. But it is pulling in a lot of that moisture from the warm Gulf of Mexico.

And this is new to CNN. If you're in Houston, you've got a rude awakening after a long holiday weekend, currently under a flash flood warning just issued by the National Weather Service. This encompasses just under three-and-a-half million people. That is the majority of Harris County, which of course, includes the Houston metropolitan.

There has been significant rain that has fallen in and around the Houston region. That was discussed yesterday from the National Weather Service at Houston and Galveston, that we needed to monitor the bayous in the Houston area.

And of course, with the rain that has moved into the region, that will be a concern. Street flooding, rapid rises in rivers. That's why we have the flash flood warning.

Here's some of the rainfall totals we picked up on. That's over a half a foot of rain along the coastline. And of course, it's not done yet. It's nowhere near done.

So, the potential there for local amounts over a foot certainly exists.

Here's the radar. We call the right quadrant of a hurricane the dirty side of the hurricane. There's a reason for that. It's dangerous, because it has spin-up tornadoes that can form at a moment's notice, and they can cause damage very, very quickly.

I mean, aside from the hurricane-force wind gusts that are present within this area, the tornado threat is there and ever-present from Houston all the way to the coastline, to the Port Lavaca and central Texas coast where I'm located, as well.

That wind threat, this is a new graphic I want to show you, as well, because the National Weather Service constantly is assessing the situation, updating the storm on the ground.

And look at that shade of red from Bay City all the way into Houston metro. That indicates winds of 74 miles per hour. That's Category 1 strength in Houston metro.

So we go back a few weeks. Remember what happened when the straight- line winds knocked out all the windows in the high-rise buildings. That was with winds of hurricane force. So, if we get a repeat of that today, we know what that did a couple of months ago. We don't want to see that again.

Now, this storm is a fast mover. That is what -- one of the positives we have working for us. So, it is going to make a beeline towards the U.S. and Canada border by midweek.

So, this is different than Harvey. This is not going to produce 50 inches of rain on the ground in Houston, because Harvey sat and basically meandered around Eastern Texas for four days after landfall.

This system is going to be up and out of here rather quickly and then bring rainfall to the central parts of the country.

But in the meantime, the real threats are here along the Texas coastline, now moving inland as Hurricane Beryl, the first hurricane of the Atlantic hurricane season here in the U.S., makes landfall -- Jim.

SCIUTTO: Thank goodness it was at low tide. Derek van Dam, stay safe. Thanks so much.

Just ahead, Senator Marco Rubio trying to shield Donald Trump from Project 2025.

Plus, it's fake blood, but those are real sharks. One of the five things you have to see this morning.



SCIUTTO: Twenty-three minutes past the hour, five things you have to see this morning.

The Lake Fire in California burning more than 19,000 acres in just a matter of days. It is 8 percent contained. Evacuation orders for surrounding areas include Neverland Ranch, the property made famous, of course, by Michael Jackson. Anti-government protesters clashing with Israeli police. They are demanding new elections, as well as the release of Israelis held in Gaza.

And look at the security video showing dozens of people looting and vandalizing a gas station in Oakland. The manager says the incident occurred when only window service was being offered; believes the theft and damage could total more than $100,000.


Scientists in New Zealand released 200 gallons of synthetic blood, to be clear -- Looks pretty real. Synthetic, though -- to lure a 14-foot Great White female shark. They're testing out the queen boss theory, which says that clans of sharks are created around female sharks that reproduce with multiple mates at once.

A new image has revealed an asteroid that recently tracked very close to Earth has a little moon as its companion. NASA scientists say none of them are on a potential collision course with our planet -- planet, thankfully.

But both giant rocks reveal valuable insights into space.

Just ahead, more House Democrats breaking with Biden. Why this week could be critical for the president's campaign.

Plus, Hurricane Beryl, the first hurricane to make landfall this year, bringing life-threatening flooding, powerful winds to millions in Texas. CNN is live on the scene, just ahead.