Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Congressional Democrats to Discuss Biden's Future; Trump Decision on V.P. Pick Expected Soon; Deadly Beryl Leaves Flooding, Mass Outages Across Texas. Aired 6-6:30a ET

Aired July 09, 2024 - 06:00   ET


KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: It's Tuesday, July 9. Right now on CNN THIS MORNING, President Biden refusing to exit the race as the administration struggles to explain why a Parkinson's expert visited the White House eight times in eight months.



KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It doesn't matter how angry you get with me. I'm not going to confirm a name. It --


HUNT: Plus, why Donald Trump is keeping a close eye on Joe Biden before making an announcement on his V.P. pick.

And nearly 3 million homes and businesses without power in Texas after Hurricane Beryl comes barreling through.

And the judge in Alec Baldwin's manslaughter trial handing the defense a significant victory as they're on the eve of jury selection.

All right, 6 a.m. here in Washington. A live look at the White House on this Tuesday morning.

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

The president defiant with his party divided. In just a few hours, House Democrats will meet for the first time in person since Joe Biden's disastrous debate performance. So far, six of them have publicly called for Biden to withdraw from the race, with some implying that many other Democrats privately share their position.


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: On Monday, President Biden went on the offensive, making it clear in public remarks and private meetings that he intends to stay in the race and expressing anger at those opposing him.


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES (via phone): I'm getting so frustrated by the elites. Now, I'm not talking about you guys, but about the elites in the party, who -- they know so much more. But if any of these guys don't think I should run, run against me. Go ahead. Announce -- announce for president. Challenge me at the convention.


HUNT: Late last night, Biden held a virtual meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, a source telling CNN, Biden asked them for their support and received no pushback from members on the call.

Later today, Democratic senators expected to spend their regular lunch discussing the president's future. Ahead of today's meetings, Democrats are far from united.


REP. STEVEN HORSFORD (D-NV): This president is fit and prepared to continue to serve.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he should step aside.

REP. HAKEEM JEFFRIES (D-NY): I support President Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He already won the nomination. So, if there were to be any change, it would have to come from him.

SEN. TIM KAINE (D-VA): And if he believes fully that he can do this, I will respect that judgment.

SEN. MARK WARNER (D-VA): A lot of folks are raising some questions. They need to get asked. At the end of the day, we've got to beat Donald Trump.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But if he could be replaced --

REP. AYANNA PRESSLEY (D-MA): He is the nominee. And he -- he's made his intentions plain.


HUNT: All right. Our panel's here. Let's bring in Molly Ball, senior political correspondent for "The Wall Street Journal"; former White House communications director Kate Bedingfield; and Jonah Goldberg. He is the co-founder and editor in chief of "The Dispatch." Welcome to all of you.

Molly Ball, it seems like the president yesterday did -- he had a better day than some of his other days and that he had this -- he had this letter. He did -- we played a little bit of that interview that he did on "Morning Joe." He had this call with the CBC. There seems to be some shoring up of support there.


But he still has high-profile tests looming this week. I'm just wondering what your latest reporting is on where this -- where this stands and the level of pressure the president is facing right now.

MOLLY BALL, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "THE WALL STREET JOURNAL": Well, I think -- I think that intro sums it up well, actually, which is that the party is divided. And that, for a lot of people, a lot of Democrats, is the worst-case scenario. People were hoping to get through this one way or another without having the party at odds.

But now you do have these warring camps emerging, where there is a group that is saying let's stop arguing about this. He said he wants to stay in, and it's his decision. And other groups still hoping that they can get to him, still feel as -- and I think it's concentrated in the Senate in particular.

We heard a lot of senators yesterday, as they trickled back into town, saying that they have serious questions that they want answered before they are ready to reaffirm their support for the president.

And I don't think it was lost on anybody that all of this work he did to shore up support yesterday was without leaving the house.

So, people want to see more of him, want to hear more from him. People want answers, particularly in that camp that is still not sure if they can support him going forward.

So, I think that this is still a very fluid situation, and people will be very much watching the president take part in NATO, the NATO meetings this week and see how he does there.

HUNT: Yes. So, speaking of senators we also had -- we heard a little bit from Senator Joe Manchin, who had seemed to be one of those people who was eager to get out on this and then was convinced to pull back. But here's a little bit of what he said on Monday.


SEN. JOE MANCHIN (I-WV): I think that, you know, if you just wait until this weekend, there'll be more comes out. I believe that we'll be able to have a better clear view of what's happening. His health and well-being, I think, should be everyone's first and foremost concern. His and his family's and all of us.

And he's fine. He's been -- the doctors are saying he's fine, so I'm going to take that for its word.


HUNT: Saying doctors are saying he's fine.

Jonah, we can also put up a list of some of the other things that we have heard from Democratic senators that were not on camera. Of course, reporters were talking to them as they came back on Capitol Hill, if you guys pop that up.

So that's John Tester: "He's in a tough race. Biden's got to prove he's up to the job."

Patty Murray: "Biden must do more." That one sticks out to me.

Merkley: "Serious issues have been raised."

Tina Smith: "I have a lot of concerns."

Dick Durbin has "a lot of questions."

These are -- I mean, Biden spent so much of his career in the Senate. I think Molly may be right, that this could matter more. What are you watching for?

JONAH GOLDBERG, CO-FOUNDER AND EDITOR IN CHIEF, "THE DISPATCH": Yes. Look, I mean, what I'm watching for is Joe Biden. I mean, the -- I think Molly put her finger on it. It's that what the White House wants to treat the debate performance as if it was like Bill Clinton and an intern. An event in the past that will shrink in the rearview mirror as you move on.

The problem is the event is Joe Biden. Joe Biden is not going to get better. And the assumption is that, like, somehow he will not have another distressing event in public or around enough people in private that they can't keep it secret.

I've watched two parents go at that age or younger. I have lots of friends in similar situation, I have two in-laws who went in similar situations. The idea that Joe Biden can run for president and reassure everybody -- everyone says go out more, do -- go out more, do more stuff, do more live interviews. Every good interview doesn't mean a thing if you know there's one really bad one coming.

And the idea that you're going to bet that there's not a really bad one coming from a guy who says when he has a good interview, he needs to get more sleep and do fewer things after 8 p.m., is a wildly irresponsible bet for the country and for the Democratic Party.

HUNT: Kate, I kind of want to just let you come button here, because I know you're obviously talking to a lot of Democrats. There is so much concern right now. There is this division.

How do you feel like things are solidifying or not for the president in this moment?


HUNT: And again, I mean, I think Jonahs's right. Everyone -- supporters of the president were watching that debate with bated breath, dreading something happening. And now every single appearance is going to be like that.

BEDINGFIELD: Well, I -- look, yes. Is he going to have to perform and -- and reassure people, and go out and be with voters and show that he has the energy? Yes, he absolutely is. That is the task; going to be a big task for him over the next, what, almost four months, a little under four months.

But you know, look, I think if you -- if you look at what's going on on the Hill, you see those kind of stalwart support that has been both -- There's both the bedrock of the Democratic Party, but it's also been the bedrock of Joe Biden's political support when you see the CBC standing strong. You see leaders of the CHC have come out in support of him.

You know, if you look back to times in 2019 when his candidacy was imperiled, it was -- it was black leadership in the party and then black voters who stood behind him.


And -- you know, and so I think he has a strong case to make that he is -- he is rallying the base of the party. And that's important as we move into an election where, you know, Trump's base is going to be motivated for him. You need somebody who's going to be able to turn their base out.

I think he's trying to make the case this week he can do that. You're seeing some evidence that that's true.

We'll see how it plays out this week. I agree with Molly that things are fluid, but I think you're seeing that support solidify.

And, you know, for him, the challenge now is to go out, take the narrative back to Trump. We're about to roll into the Republican convention next week. Get the spotlight back on Trump, and wage an aggressive campaign.

And I think that President Biden can do that, but that's the task ahead of him.

GOLDBERG: Look, I think it's just -- it's a wildly irresponsible bet. And the idea that it's a -- you know, I get the whole argument, it's the base, whatever.

But like, the idea that Joe Biden, who's a total creature of Washington, D.C., political elites. He was a -- you know, he's been in Washington for over 50 years as a politician -- is saying that somehow, it's him versus the elites. It's gaslighting on a Trumpian level.

BEDINGFIELD: He has been derided by the elites. I mean, look at, look at 2019. He was told, you know, he was out of touch with the base of the party. He could never be the nominee.

GOLDBERG: He was told that by people running against him.

BEDINGFIELD: He stayed --


BALL: -- coordination that got him the nomination.

BEDINGFIELD: He spent a lot of his career --

BALL: -- around him, to make him the nominee.

BEDINGFIELD: I'm just saying he spent a lot of his career with a chip on his shoulder about the way that the intellectual thinkers in Washington view him. And he is channeling that right now. That is a very -- I think you can argue whether that's fair or not, but that's a very --

GOLDBERG: He's also spent his career saying that whenever he's knocked down, he gets back up, and you never count Joe Biden out. He lost running for president twice. There were unique circumstances why he won in 2020 that he cannot recreate.

BEDINGFIELD: But he's the president of the United States right now. So, he got back to --


BEDINGFIELD: -- became president of the United States.


GOLDBERG: Yes, barely.

BEDINGFIELD: What does that mean?

GOLDBERG: I don't think he's up to the job. I think --

BEDINGFIELD: Are you questioning --

GOLDBERG: I'm questioning his fitness right now to serve as president. Flat-out.

BEDINGFIELD: You're saying barely, barely president. You're suggesting that he's not capable of doing the things that we've seen him accomplish in these -- in these --

GOLDBERG: The past few years mean nothing to me, nothing to me. And it's a -- I think it's a crazy argument.

You know, if financial markets -- financial firms are required by law to say past performance is not predictive of future results, that same principle applies to politics.

If you watched that George Stephanopoulos interview and were reassured that he's up to the job, then I think you're kind of in a bubble, because that was not reassuring.

And when he says, and when Democrats say, this election is about democracy and the future of the country; and then he says, well, if I lose, I gave it my best shot. Who cares? That is a terrible answer. He was clearly prepped, and he still gave a terrible answer. BEDINGFIELD: To say the last three years mean nothing to you when you have a president who has gotten more done in a bipartisan way than anybody thought was possible; has gotten meaningful gun legislation done; has gotten an infrastructure bill.

GOLDBERG: If he had a heart attack, you wouldn't say, well, what did the last three and a half years.

BEDINGFIELD: That's -- that's like saying it doesn't -- so it doesn't matter who's president, because it doesn't matter what happens when this person is in office. That's saying that only -- the campaign is the only thing that matters. I don't think that's true. I don't think that's true.

That's -- then it doesn't --

HUNT: Well, campaigns are about the future.

BEDINGFIELD: And that's fine. I'm just saying, saying the last three- and-a-half years don't matter at all.

GOLDBERG: Don't matter at all about whether or not he can do the job for the next four months or next four and half years.

BEDINGFIELD: It's a very nihilistic way to look at it.

GOLDBERG: No. Do you honestly think he can serve four and a half more years?


GOLDBERG: I think that's lunatic. I really do. I think it's lunatic you think he can actually serve for four and a half more years.

BEDINGFIELD: You're entitled to your opinion.

HUNT: I have to say, this is a sharp, you know, version of the conversation that I know members of my family are having around dinner tables. And I think a lot of Americans are having this -- this play out right now as we speak.

We're going to keep talking about it this morning, but we do want to get to some other news.

So up next here, Hurricane Beryl turning deadly, leaving millions without power in Texas.

Plus, the Biden administration reacting to reports of a Parkinson's specialist visiting the White House.

Plus, a wildfire threatening the former Neverland Ranch in California. That's part of your morning round-up, ahead.


[06:13:14] HUNT: Welcome back.

Is the infighting at the top of the Democratic ticket impacting choices that are being made on the Republican side? During an interview on FOX News Monday night, Donald Trump hinted that he was close to making a choice for his running mate ahead of the Republican convention, but that he wants to see how things play out with his opponent first.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE (via phone): And I haven't made a final decision, but I have some ideas as to where we're going. And a little bit -- you know, we wanted to see what they're doing, to be honest, because, you know, it might make a difference. I don't know. I'm not sure that it would.

But there are those who say Trump's waiting until he finds out what's going to happen with Crooked Joe Biden. And we'll see what happens with Biden.

But you know, I think probably within the next week, we can have --


HUNT: And of course, there are a handful of V.P. hopefuls vying for Trump's favor. One of them, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who's scheduled to appear at a rally with Trump at his golf club near Miami tonight.

In a recent appearance on CNN's "STATE OF THE UNION," Rubio supported efforts to change the party platform in favor of Trump's positions.


DANA BASH, CNN ANCHOR: Do you support changing the official party platform to Trump's position that it should be a state issue?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R-FL): Well, I think our platform has to reflect our nominee, and our nominee's position has -- actually happens to be one grounded in reality.

The reality of it is, the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. And what that basically means is that now it's not states; it's voters in individual states who will get to decide how and to what level they want to restrict abortion, if at all.

Some states will have restrictions. Some states will not.


HUNT: All right. Of course, they're talking about abortion there, as Rubio noted.

Jonah Goldberg, the Trump sort of -- of it all is -- I mean, obviously he's holding off, because he's been letting Democrats kind of eat their own in the wake of the debate performance.

But he also is very uncomfortable out of the spotlight. And now we're starting to hear this conversation about how he's trying to grab it back.


How, if at all, do you think what's going on with Biden has affected Trump's decision on V.P. or other kind of major ways they're looking at the race?

GOLDBERG: Yes. I do think it's important to remember that he's also dragging out the V.P. selection process, because there's more self- humiliation he can impose on the potential -- potential VPs, right? He wants to see them beclown themselves even more.

That said, look, I think they think -- it is not dumb to wait and see how the Biden situation plays out. The more convinced, I think -- I think the more convinced Trump is that he's going to win, the more likely he picks Vance.

The more he thinks it's going to be a real race, it's either Burgum or Rubio or Person X.

I still think a total surprise, not on the shortlist that everyone keeps talking about, is still possible. I don't know exactly who that would be, but, you know, Trump thinks about this like a reality show. What's the big reveal? Like, who's going to be holding the rose kind of thing.

HUNT: Right. Well, and I think none of us should actually report what the VP is until it comes out of Donald Trump's mouth.


HUNT: Because God knows it could change at any moment.

All right. Up next here, millions of Texans in the dark. Hurricane Beryl delivering a deadly and destructive blow.

Plus, how President Biden's inner circle tried to keep signs of his aging under wraps.



HUNT: All right, welcome back.

Hurricane Beryl, now a tropical depression but still dangerous storm and heading North this morning.

At least eight people are dead after rain, flooding and powerful winds slammed Texas and Louisiana.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Pieces of my porch roof are in the front of my house, all over. I've got some in the street, in the front yard.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Neighbors are pitching in and coming together and got equipment. It's like a disaster zone, you know? But it's kind of confined right here.

There's no thunder with this. There was no lightning with this. It's strictly just rain. And then -- then the wind.


HUNT: In hard-hit Galveston, roads, cars, entire communities submerged. In Houston, floodwaters rose quickly, catching people off- guard, like this man who was rescued from his truck. He was one of the many saved on Monday.

More than 2 million people, meanwhile, remain without power in Texas as sweltering heat settles over the state.

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

Leigh, good morning.


Even though beryl has downgraded in its strength, it is still packing a punch along its route. There is still a threat of flooding and the threat of tornadoes for Eastern Texas, Western Louisiana, and all of Arkansas.

This morning, we're anticipating to hear from the lieutenant governor, as well as the emergency management here in Texas, for updates on the storm. But hopefully, updates on restoration for power.

You mentioned that millions of people are without power. The local power supplier here in the Houston area, Centerpoint, is mentioning they hope to restore power for over a million people by early as Wednesday.

Galveston, they said, it's going to be days until power is restored to that area.

You mentioned the heat happening here in Texas is sweltering already this morning. And people will be affected as they attempt to clean up the debris around their homes.

We'll send things back to you, Kasie.

HUNT: All right. Leigh Waldman for us this morning. Leigh, thank you very much.

All right. Up next, frustration on full display as reporters clash with the White House

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEAN-PIERRE: Guys, hold on a second. There's no reason to get back and -- go back and forth to me in this aggressive way.


HUNT: More from those tense scenes in the briefing room coming up next.

Plus, a legal win for actor Alec Baldwin as he goes on trial for manslaughter.