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CNN This Morning

Biden To House Democrats: "Time To Come Together"; Today: Members To Mark 75th Anniversary In Washington; Deadly Beryl Leaves Flooding, Mass Outages Across Texas. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired July 09, 2024 - 05:00   ET



KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Tuesday, July 9th.

Right now on CNN THIS MORNING:

President Biden insisting he's not going anywhere. It's leaving Democratic lawmakers deeply divided.

Hurricane Beryl tearing up Texas, leaving millions without power.

And the Republican National Committee adopting a Trump-backed platform with a soften stance on abortion. The convention now just days away.


HUNT: All right. It's 5:00 a.m. here in Washington. A live look at Capitol Hill, a place to be this morning.

Good morning, everyone. I'm Kasie Hunt. It's wonderful to have you with us.

A critical week for President Biden's campaign. Congress now returned to that building. You just saw after their holiday break, the entire House Democratic caucus greeted yesterday with a letter from the president responding to calls and his campaign saying in part, quote, the question of how to move forward has been well-aired for over a week now, and it is time for it to end. It is time to come together, move forward as a unified party and defeat Donald Trump.

There will be a pivotal meeting of all House Democrats later today. It's going to be their first in-person gathering since the debate. So far, six House Democrats have publicly broken ranks with President Biden calling on him to leave the race.

Illinois Democrat Mike Quigley is one of them. He says that there will be more.


REP. MIKE QUIGLEY (D-IL): That is quite a few. They have to come to terms with that on their own. I know it's a tough choice. I suspect you'll be hearing from quite a few this week.


HUNT: Many in the party are rallying to the presidents side as he tries to lobby key Democratic groups for support. President Biden spoke to members of the Congressional Black Caucus and a virtual call on Monday night. Here was caucus leader Steven Horsford after that call.


REP. STEVEN HORSFORD (D-NV), CHAIRMAN, CONGRESSIONAL BLACK CAUCUS: This president is fit and prepared to continue to serve. His civil and he's experienced that the opposite side offers us nothing but chaos.


HUNT: And joining me now is Mariana Alfaro. She's politics reporter for "The Washington Post".

Mariana, good morning to you. Thanks so much for being here.

So let's start with the support that the president is trying to rally with the Congressional Black Caucus. You saw a little bit of it there. They really are kind of emerging as a bastion and of support for him heading into this critical caucus meeting that's set for this morning.

What are you expecting to unfold?

MARIANA ALFARO, POLITICS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Yes. I mean, I just we saw yesterday he called them to the CBC. I think it's over 60 members are part of it. And again, we heard everyone praising him or having everyone welcome to him.

No one -- nobody there has still said he should step down and I don't think we'll see any cracks in that group. I think yesterday I touched base with a lot of evan. They said we are continuing to support Joe Biden no matter what. And this is across the ideological spectrum within the CBC.

And I think that again, they are probably his most loyal supporters are backers on the Hill. And I think that today, during that big family meeting is what they're describing. It adds Democrats are going to come around and listened to a lot of the CBC members talking about what they heard yesterday. And I think that that's probably going to rally a lot more support for the president in the House, like we saw yesterday.

HUNT: So one big question, of course, is, what is Hakeem Jeffries going to do? He is essentially -- he's the leader, but he's a speaker in waiting. They're really hoping to take back the House.

My colleague, Manu Raju, caught up with the speaker yesterday as he was coming up to Capitol Hill let's just listen to what Leader Jeffries had to say.


MANU RAJU, CNN CHIEF CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Mr. Leader, do you support Joe Biden staying as your Democratic nominee?

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Yes. I made clear the day after the debate publicly that I support President Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket. My position has not changed.


HUNT: So, of course, Hakeem Jeffries has spent the last few days basically trying to figure out where his caucus stands. He has been asking people to reach out to members of their committees, kind of figure out where are -- where do people stand on this, because he does have to bridge both the CBC and then also the Mike Quigleys the world. What's next for him?

ALFARO: Definitely, I think during this family call, a lot of them, you know, haven't saying we're going to make a decision, were going to be more then, you know, subtle on our position once we all meet and gather and listened to from leader Jeffries and I think today is that big test for him.


I heard from a lot of House Democrats, a lot them, part of the CBC, but also some other non who are very upset at some other members who have come out and spoken about removing Biden from the ticket and said that is very rude and disrespectful to Leader Jeffries's position and leadership because he's the one that's at the end of the day got I gather everyone and just like suggests what the next steps forward are.

And so, I think you're going to hear a lot of Democrats saying, you know, were waiting for him to signal. But it is him who has to lead the way and again, those who stepped out before he spoke I think might have, you know, rubbed off their colleagues in the wrong way.

HUNT: So I don't want to lose sight of what's going on in the Senate as well, because were expecting them to have their first real in- person. They all came back up to Capitol Hill last night, but there's this the usual caucus lunch on Tuesday expected to really be kind of a deep dive discussion on this, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia has been someone who seems to be pushing behind the scenes to kind of rally and discuss with those who have doubts on the Senate side.

Remember Biden, of course, was a senator and some of those voices may be that much more important to him.

Here's what Senator Tim Kaine, who is also a Democratic senator from Virginia, like Warner. He's been a little bit less critical of President Biden. Here's how he put it.


SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): He is a patriotic person who will put him the country over his own needs and I think he'll do that as he makes this decision. If he believes fully that he can do this, I will respect that judgment. But I also completely believe that if he has doubts about whether he

can do it, he'll level with the American public about it.


HUNT: And I think that's the big question, the leveling with the American public. There are, of course, Democrats hold the Senate right now, but barely. There's a kind expectation honestly that they're likely to lose the Senate to Republicans in the fall.

Senator Sherrod Brown is in one of the toughest races in Ohio. And he did say, I've talked to people across Ohio. They have legitimate questions about whether the president should continue his campaign. He says, I will keep listening to people.

So, I mean, I think that gives you a sense of the nerves and the stress that this places on -- I can't let -- someone like Sherrod Brown here.

How do you expect the Senate meeting to go and impact what the president may or may not do?

ALFARO: Yeah, that's the interesting split screen here, because we're seeing the House yesterday was very much rallying behind President Biden. I mean, except for those like handful of one to call it for him to step down. But then on the Senate, you have a bigger range of position in terms of Senators being very real about what they would like President Biden to do.

I think we saw Patty Murray yesterday. She's like one of the top Democrats in the Senate saying, you know, I do want him to show me that he can go and win this thing. And I think that that's not a thing that is new amongst senators. I think we have, you know, Bernie Sanders the other side being in behind Biden 100 percent.

So again, this meeting today, it might come out, maybe not as a full surprise that Mark Warner is not the only one who has been really considering what they're going to go tell their people and what they want President Biden to do. But I think you're going to see stronger calls from Senate Democrats asking for Biden to go out and show them that they -- that he can win this. And if not, you know, Kamala Harris is also a former colleague of theirs. Yeah.

HUNT: All right. Mariana Alfaro for us this morning. Thank you so much for your time.

All right. Coming up next here, President Biden set to address NATO allies after a tumultuous few weeks.

Plus, Hurricane beryl ripping through Texas, leaving millions in the dark and Ukraine reeling after a wave of deadly Russian missile strikes bring it up.


[05:12:58] HUNT: All right. Welcome back to CNN this morning.

Uncertainty looming over the NATO summit that begins today here in Washington. Leaders of 32 member countries marking 75 years of the security alliance and working to lock in support for Ukraine. But now, they're also confronting the possibility that NATO-skeptic Donald Trump may be back in the Oval Office after last week's disastrous presidential debate for the president.

The White House on Monday shutting down any suggestion the president Biden is not up to the task and trying to quell any doubt over his ability to lead.


JOHN KIRBY, NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL SPOKESPERSON: I think your question presupposes the notion that they need to be reassured of American leadership and President Biden's commitment, and I don't believe that's the case. We're not picking up any signs of that from our allies at all, quite the contrary.

The conversations that were having with them in advance is they're excited about this summit. They're excited about the possibilities and the things that were going to be doing together, specifically to help Ukraine.


HUNT: Right. There's a lot there.

CNN's Max Foster joins us live now from London.

Max, good morning to you.

So give us the view from where you sit of everything that has been unfolding here in the U.S. as this NATO summit gets underway. Of course, President Biden has held up the expansion should of NATO as possibly the primary reason why he should continue at the top of the Democratic tickets. Certainly one of the top two reasons, he mentioned it every time.

But the reality is his performance at the G7, the way some European leaders looked at, at it, then heading into this week really did actually underscore many of the challenges he has around his age. And this of course, all looming as the problems facing NATO are as acute as they possibly have ever been in the post-war period. What do you see as being the most important things for the president this week? And how are these other NATO leaders looking at the job that he's doing right now?

MAX FOSTER, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR & CORRESPONDENT: I think on the outside, you'll see lots of positive support for President Biden, because as you say, certainly hear from Europe, there's a lot of support for NATO.

[05:15:03] He's the key figure within NATO because provide so much resource into it.

So I think outwardly, there will be lots of positivity Keir Starmer, who's the new British prime ministers actually got a full bilateral meeting with President Biden, which is seen as a big honor. So, he's got some proper time with him. So he'll probably have a pretty good sense of how President Biden is performing.

I think behind the scenes, I think there was as much shock in diplomatic and government circles as a was in the rest of the world about that performance on the CNN debate and when -- when it comes to NATO, of course, that's particularly pertinent when you consider that if they do make big decisions, around security, it's about pressing buttons, it's about quick decision making.

I think they oh quietly looking for reassurance that the president is still strong, a stable in that position. And I think there's major concern, but I want to know that anytime that they get with him as well served and that he's focused on the job it's a lot of pressure on President Biden as well, isn't it, Kasie? You've covered these events as well in the past, so lots of meetings, pretty intense rounds of discussion, lots of different countries and types of policies to consider and big ideas.

So it's pretty intense for President Biden.

HUNT: Right. Well, and he's expected to give a press conference later on in this week, but that his aides are really holding up as a chance for everyone to see that, again, they're trying to prove that the debate was a bad night and not a sign of some sort of conditions that is impacting him broadly. So that's going to be another one of these moments where I think we're all going to be watching every single word.

Max, this also comes, and let's talk for a second about kind of where things stand in Ukraine, because, of course, we saw those horrible, terribly sad images of children outside of a cancer hospital that was hit by the Russians. They were striking in ways that are perhaps a little bit unusual for how they have been conducting.

The war is -- are these moves designed to be ahead of this NATO summit to try to send a message to NATO. I mean, how do you -- how do you view Russia's conduct in this moment?

FOSTER: Well, they're saying this was a stray Ukrainian missile, aren't they? The Russians have not saying much about it at all. You wonder about the messaging. It was in daylight, it was -- its a very advanced missile that can be carefully targeted. It hit a children's hospital where there are cancer patients inside.

So it's absolutely brutal event and you can just see those -- everyone's still trying to recover from it, combined with other attacks as well across the country, we just don't have the insight into what the Kremlin strategy was here if indeed it was their missile. I mean, investigations on the ground suggest it is they're not in the room, are they NATO?

But it certainly does raise that raise awareness of what's going on in Ukraine as they go into NATO. But the big elephant in the room is will President Biden be there in November? Will there be a completely different strategy if President Trump comes in?

So I think there are lots of caveats going into this meeting. Yes, we know who were dealing with. President Biden, and he's behind Ukraine, but we don't know if he'll still be there in November.

HUNT: Yeah. Really tough.

All right. Max Foster for us this morning -- Max, always grateful to have you. Thank you so much.

All right. Coming up next, Hurricane Beryl leaving millions without power in Texas and a wildfire threatening the Neverland Ranch in California.

Your morning roundup is ahead.



HUNT: All right. Welcome back.

Hurricane Beryl downgraded to a tropical depression this morning, but still dangerous tornadoes, heavy rain, flash flooding are expected as the system heads north, this week after unleashing high winds, flooding causing massive power outages across southeast Texas, at least eight people are dead, seven in Texas, one person in Louisiana recovery and cleanup efforts are underway this morning.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Trees on the house, through the roof, through the salient of waters pouring out on the inside, really had my heart racing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Because I felt the wall bow and all me and so I just I didn't know and just I don't pray much, but I pray that time and here I am.


HUNT: Officials say more than 2 million people are still without power and that it could take weeks to bring it back as sweltering heat settles over the state.

CNN's Leigh Waldman joins us live now from Houston with the latest.

Leigh, good morning.

LEIGH WALDMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Kasie, good morning. Good to be with you this morning.

You mentioned those deaths here in Houston, where we are right now, this home you can see behind us, this is the home of a 73-year-old woman who died during those storms yesterday after a tree fell on top of her home as she was sleeping, her family was home with her and they're okay, but she ended up passing in her sleep.

We know this was the case where at least one of the person in Houston other people were getting trapped in those high floodwaters. We saw dramatic video of high-water rescues all across Houston yesterday in this area, they had a summers worth of rain, fall in just 24 hours after that storm moved through the area. We also know that there was tornadoes throughout the area as well, and people are still under tornado watches mornings this morning as they're waking up.

You can see around us complete darkness because this is one of the areas still impacted by mass power outages across Texas, millions of people without power this morning. And it is hot out there.


Now we know from the local energy provider Center Point that they plan to have a million customers power restored in the next 24 hours by Wednesday, at least Houston, Galveston, they're telling us it will be several days before they're able to get power restored.

We know people this morning as they start to wake up, there'll be cleaning up the debris that's left in their neighborhood. We saw several trees down, other homes in this neighborhood, in particular that had massive trees falling down. It's going to be a long process that's very, very hot and no power to cool people, Kasie.

HUNT: Very, very difficult.

All right. Leigh Waldman for us this morning, Leigh, thank you very much. Stay safe.

All right. 25 minutes past the hour. Here is your morning roundup. The Lake Fire near Santa Barbara, California is spreading, burning over 21,000 acres. It remains just 8 percent contained and its threatening homes as well as Michael Jackson's former Neverland Ranch.

Karen Read's defense team filing a motion to dismiss two of the three charges against her following her mistrial, second-degree murder, and leaving the scene of an accident. Read is accused of killing her boyfriend, a Boston police officer, but claims she was framed.

Police in the Bahamas revealing they found a missing cargo woman cell phone under 50 feet of water that they haven't been able to access it, 41-year-old, Taylor Casey was attending a yoga retreat at a resort before her disappearance. She has now been missing for nearly three weeks.

All right. Up next here, changes made to the Republican platform to better so reflect Donald Trump's party.

Plus, how Democrats are dealing with President Biden's decision to stay in the race.