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Biden Saw Neurologist for Physical; Trump Challenges Biden to Golf Match; Doug Jones is Interviewed about the Presidential Race. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 10, 2024 - 06:30   ET




KASIE HUNT, CNN ANCHOR: All right, welcome back.

The White House struggling yet again to give clear, accurate answers about the president's health and his medical care. It's causing tensions in the Briefing Room and uncertainty among Democrats.

Listen to what the press secretary, Karine Jean-Pierre, told reporters Tuesday about a meeting at the White House between a neurologist and the president's physician earlier this year.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you say whether that one meeting was related to care for the president himself?



HUNT: So, it turns out that it actually was. She said it was not. Late last night the press secretary released this clarification. "Because the date was not mentioned in the question, I want to be clear that the January 17th meeting between Dr. O'Connor and Dr. Cannard was for the president's physical."

Jeff Mason, again, I don't want to make this about the White House press corps. I want to make this about what the White House is saying about the president's health and whether or not they can get their story straight and why not because I think it's very hard for Americans to understand, like, what is really going on here. There's this Parkinson's doctor that's going to the White House on numerous occasions, and they can't seem to answer questions about what he's doing there, if he's treating the president or not. Now we know that he was involved in that, although they still say that he's only had these three neurological evaluations as part of his regular physicals and nothing beyond that.

[06:35:06] I mean, what is the line of questioning today? And what do you see in the fact that they can't seem to figure out how to get this straight?


One, I'm a journalist, obviously. I'm not on the side of the people who prep a press secretary. But I know that every time that I'm in a - in a briefing, this White House tries to go around and get a sense of what reporters are going to ask. I don't answer that. I have a principle against doing that, but they ask.

The only question this week is about his health. And they haven't had a good answer. So it's not -

HUNT: And they would have known - what you're saying is they would have known in advance, or at least you presume that someone would have told them, because they came to you ask, hey, what are you going to ask in the briefing? OK, we're going to ask about the president's health. And then they go up there and we get this.

MASON: That is what I'm saying.

HUNT: Yes.

MASON: And I also think that they could have figured that out without asking anyone. I mean that's just - that's just so clearly obviously.

HUNT: It seems sensible. Yes.

MASON: And - and it's - and you're right to say that they've struggled and they just haven't had - they haven't had a clear answer every single day.

We were talking a little bit in the break, I mean on - it's hard probably when you're in the position of the press secretary to answer some questions when you're not told. I don't know if she wasn't told. I don't know to what extent she was not informed ahead of (INAUDIBLE) of these days, but I do know that they knew what the questioning was going to be. And go back to repeating something I said before, that's - it's the American people who want to know this.

HUNT: Right.

MASON: Everybody saw President Biden on that debate. There's a reason we're asking about health. It's because of how he looked that night.

ELLIOT WILLIAMS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: And the problem is that the straight answer opens up an additional can of worms. The straight answer is, he's an elderly individual who sees the doctor a lot. We all do. Many people do. But he can still run the country and he's running against somebody that we take significant issues with. That would, I think, invite even more questions about how fit he is to serve and so on. But it's a straight answer.

HUNT: You know, well, Phillipe, to that point. I mean we were talking in the break, and I should have thought of this at the top because I was covering when Hillary Clinton, in 2016, had a health episode in public at a 9/11 memorial. You had to figure out how to explain that.

What are the specific challenges around explaining something that is going on with a candidate or a president's health to reporters and, therefore, the American people?

PHILIPPE REINES, FORMER STATE DEPARTMENT OFFICIAL: Well, I think, as confusing this is, maddening as this is, not just to White House press corps, but to people who want to know, as you say, is that this is oddly something that we all can relate to because it starts with the person that this happens to trying to figure out and be sure what it was that happened.

We all get sick. We all have spouses, kids, parents who get sick, and it evolves. You think it's one thing. You go on medication for something. It turns out it's not. It turns out the medication might have made it worse. So, first you try and figure out ground truth.

And, look, I don't know Karine, but I give her the benefit of the doubt, because I think I know a lot of people in the White House, I've worked with them for decades. Some of them are my closest friends. They don't like the situation, you know. They don't like the drip, drip, drip and they don't like being criticized for being covered up. They - it doesn't - also because it's not working.

You first have to determine ground truth. And that's the human being do it. And their spouse. The president and the first lady don't go through a medical process and then come out and say, OK, everyone, gather up, we're going to talk about, you know, my vitals and I'm going to tell you what happened when they said cough and all that kind of stuff.

So, there is a degree of - of it being a moving target and it being something private and the line of where something is public is hard to - now I would note, the real stupidity here is that this information was helpful to the White House. It showed that they were in close contact with a neurologist because, presumably, that based on the president's appearance, Parkinson's was one of the things on the table that they wanted to stay on top of. So, it was a prudent and responsible thing to do. And it was prior to the president's annual physical in February, which explicitly said that they were looking for Parkinson's and didn't have it. So, that's hiding in plain sight.

The process on Monday was ugly. But you know who probably regrets it more than anyone is Karine -

HUNT: Sure.

REINES: Because she looks terrible doing that. And then hours later being described (ph). It is not malicious. The intent is not coverup. And I think this is where you get into the tension that Elliot was speaking (ph) from the very top about the White House press corps and the press corps in general is just angry. And I understand that. But everyone's got to take a step back and say, maybe the benefit of the doubt is, there's a human being.

And the last thing I'll say is, you know, last night, Senator Bennett sat right there and gave probably the most human and impassioned remarks about what happened to Joe Biden. And, frankly, it's the first time anyone said it that wasn't in the context as if he was Richard Nixon and broke the law in Watergate.

HUNT: All right. Let's turn now to the other candidate in the race, Donald Trump, and his return yesterday to the campaign trail after spending the last week lying low, playing golf, watching the Democratic infighting unfold.


Dring a Miami rally, Trump attacked Vice President Kamala Harris, offering a new nickname.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Laffin' Kamala, l-a-f-f-i-n', Laffin'. Laffin' Kamala.


HUNT: Mispronouncing her name, we should note.

He also teased a potential running mate for himself, Florida Senator Marco Rubio, and proposed a pair of challenges for President Biden.


DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT AND 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Let's do another debate this week so that sleepy Joe Biden can prove to everyone all over the world that he has what it takes to be president. But this time it will be man to man, no moderators, no holds barred. Just name the place, anytime, anywhere.

I'm also officially challenging crooked Joe to an 18-hole golf match right here.


HUNT: So, I mean, my question is whether they can use golf carts or not. I mean Trump always does after the 18-holes.

MATT GORMAN, FORMER SENIOR ADVISER, TIM SCOTT PRESIDENTIAL CAMPAIGN: Golf carts would be fine. I have no problem with that. This isn't the PGA, you know. But can you imagine. That would be - that would be an incredible, incredible sight.

Yes, I mean, look, I - I - he certainly came back. He's going to have a rally this weekend. He's starting to emerge now, I think, getting ready for the convention.

If you asked me a week ago, and I think if you asked the Trump campaign a week ago, they - they figured maybe Kamala would be the nominee by now. I think we're all a little surprised how Biden's hung on. And so I think now we're kind of readjusting to what a race would look like with the focus candidly on Biden and his fitness for office. WILLIAMS: What's remarkable in all this fight - this talk about how

Democrats are fighting amongst each other and not uniting behind their candidate. You saw Donald Trump sitting on stage with someone who, number one, he - he said could not get elected dog catcher.


WILLIAMS: Which is what Trump said about Marco Rubio. Marco Rubio called Donald Trump a con artist. I think JD Vance, another vice presidential pick, had said that he was unfit for office. And this idea that in-fighting within a party is unique to Democrats is pretty - is almost laughable at this point, looking at how these folks are sort of lining up behind the former president. I mean we're sort of almost giving him and them a free pass here, right?

GORMAN: I mean, but, that was eight years ago, right? Like, I mean, like it was - but much more recently -

HUNT: Yes.

REINES: I wouldn't forget those things.

GORMAN: But, you know - OK, but fair.

WILLIAMS: Right. I mean -

HUNT: It's amazing how much amnesia Republicans who ran against Donald Trump seem to have.

REINES: Yes. The fealty here (INAUDIBLE).

GORMAN: OK. OK. OK, but look at - we'll do - do we want to check with Ed (ph) because the most recent example would be Kamala Harris going after Joe Biden on busing and race.

So, like, if we want to have that, that's a lot more recent than the - the JD Vance and Rubio arguments.

WILLIAMS: I meant - and - but - but - and then serving as vice president -

GORMAN: Exactly. Exactly.

WILLIAMS: Abely for - for several years.


WILLIAMS: But it's just that it's - but you can't deny for a moment that Donald Trump inspires something and does something to the Republican Party. And people who instinctively seem to not want to get behind him seem - still - all seem to bend the knee against their interests.

GORMAN: I - look, I think - I think there's an inherent difference between eight years ago - wait, was it eight years - can't believe - it was six, eight years ago already. Holly hell. HUNT: It was. Yes.

GORMAN: Anyway. And then him getting elected president, serving as president, and then we come back to this. It's idiotic.

WILLIAMS: OK. Let me ask you - real quick, let me ask you a question.


WILLIAMS: Iin private, do you think these folks say the same things about Donald Trump that they're saying publicly right now, across the Republican Party right now?

GORMAN: Look, I will - I will say this. I don't think that there's ever been a more popular or easier time to be a Donald Trump supporter if you're a politician.

HUNT: Yes.


GORMAN: A politician than right now.


GORMAN: I can't - I don't know what they say in private. But I'll tell you right now, it is extremely easy to be as consistent as possible right now.

HUNT: Yes, it's a - it's a remarkable - I mean that - that's the piece of the reality of it that I think has really dramatically shifted and has the potential to dramatically shift this race in the long term as well, that it is a lot harder considering what we saw from President Biden for those who are on the fence, perhaps Republicans who don't like Donald Trump, to look at the other side and say, the hurdle was always, can you make a lifelong Republican vote for a Democrat? Not just stay home, but vote for a Democrat? And that got much, much more difficult after the debate.

REINES: But that - that Republican, a week from now, is going to feel pretty stupid because he touched the hot stove for the tenth time, and Donald Trump is not going to pick him for VP.

HUNT: I guess we're about to find out.

WILLIAMS: Hot take. Wow. Look at that.

HUNT: Philippe, thank you so much for joining us this morning. We really appreciate it.

I did not mean that in saying good-bye.

GORMAN: We eject (ph) your seat.


HUNT: I really appreciate it. Thank you.

All right, coming up next, Joe Biden on the world stage with a lot to prove. And up next, we're going to ask former Senator Doug Jones where Democrats go from here now that the president is insisting he is staying in this race.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was just like, holy crap. This is a camera.


HUNT: And this is a totally different story. A CNN investigation about how Airbnb is failing to protect guests from hidden cameras.



HUNT: All right, 48 minutes past the hour. Here's your morning roundup.

In just a few hours, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani will try to convince a bankruptcy court that he is indeed broke. Angry creditors say that the former Trump attorney has plenty of cash and assets to pay his debt.

Opening arguments begin today in the trial of Alec Baldwin, the actor accused of involuntary manslaughter for the 2021 shooting death of a cinematographer on a movie set in New Mexico. Baldwin has pleaded not guilty.

And a CNN investigation finding Airbnb consistently fails to protect guests despite knowing that hidden cameras are a persistent concern. One employee revealing that when a guest complains of a hidden camera, Airbnb doesn't notify law enforcement.


Not even when a child is involved. The company has received tens of thousands of complaints in the last decade. But victims say that there is no follow.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They had intimate footage of my wife and I. The sexual union between two people is sacred. It felt like an extreme violation of our marriage. It's devastating. It's a travesty.


HUNT: Airbnb declined CNN's request for comment.

This is very creepy and very strange.

WILLIAMS: And the voice makes it even creepier. GORMAN: Doesn't help things, yes.

WILLIAMS: Not - not - not to minimize the - but it's creepy and strange all around.

HUNT: Is there legal recourse if this happens to you?

WILLIAMS: Probably. Absolutely. And now it depends on - no, oh, there is. I was going to go all the way -

HUNT: Senator Jones is here, by the way, but we're going to talk -

WILLIAMS: Also a lawyer too, but no, but there's definitely legal recourse if people are spying on you in the privacy of what you thought was a space that you were renting. Absolutely.


I - honestly, I'm - I'm glad to be returning to politics now, which is not something I always say.

Let's watch this.


JIMMY FALLON, HOST, "JIMMY FALLON TONIGHT": Because it's been over a week and a half since the presidential debate. And Democrats are still divided over whether President Biden should stay in the race. Yes, things are very tense in Washington. People waited all day for white smoke to emerge from the Capitol, signaling a new leader.

That's right, today, House Democrats held a meeting to discuss Biden's campaign. Some described the meeting as very positive, while others said the room was filled with sadness. So, basically our government has the same plot as "Inside Out 2." So -


HUNT: Where is anxiety in all of that, right in the middle, if you've seen that movie.

President Biden did seem to survive a critical day on Capitol Hill yesterday after Democratic lawmakers emerged from the Tuesday caucus meetings divided. No white smoke. Still uneasy about his political future, but resigning themselves to the following strategy, do nothing for now. Some members still expressing their deep concerns about the president's abilities and what that could mean for them in holding their own seats.


REP. MARC VEASEY (D-TX): What I said this morning and expressed to my colleagues, particularly for members on the front line, is that I think they need to do whatever it is they need to do in order to come back and be re-elected. Yes. And so if they need to, you know, distance themselves, then that's - then that's what they need to do. Whatever I've seen so far hasn't shown me that that's going to be enough to get there. I just don't think that dog is going to hunt.


HUNT: All right, joining me now is former Democratic Senator Doug Jones of Alabama, who has been a longtime supporter and friend to President Biden.

Senator, good to have you here.

DOUG JONES (D-AL), FORMER U.S. SENATOR: Thanks. Great to be here.

HUNT: So, it seems as though the president is dug in, in terms of him standing at the top of the ticket. But I want to play for you Senator Bennet, sitting here on this set last night, talking about what may happen in the fall, his prediction for who's going to win the election.

Let's watch.


SEN. MICHAEL BENNET (D-CO): Donald Trump is on track, I think, to win this election, and maybe win it by a landslide and take with him the Senate and the House.

I think that we could lose the whole thing.


HUNT: He says, I think we could lose the whole thing. Do you agree with him?

JONES: You know, I - I really don't. I think that right now we have got a lot of time. And for the last two weeks Democrats have been anxious, to say the least. And rightly so. But the president's also been out there.

But you saw yesterday, Kasie, I think the beginning, not just from Democrats, but they - you're going to see now, beginning yesterday, the way that Joe Biden and Democrats turn this around. And that's by having Donald Trump back on the campaign trail. The more he opens his mouth, the more he gets and gives those unhinged rants at his campaign rallies, the more people can start focusing on project 2025, which is frightening in this country, or should be frightening to folks. I think that that's going to help start solidify both Democrats and the electorate. It's going to move.

Notice in all these polling that you're seeing, and I - I see the polls. It scares people to death. I get that. But if you notice very closely, Donald Trump's not moving anywhere. Certainly President Biden has lost some, but Donald Trump's not moving. Hasn't moved in eight years on those - on that - in that polling.

HUNT: And yet he's been running consistently ahead with - in the polling. It's small, but it's there.

JONES: Right.

HUNT: And it's different from 2020.

JONES: Yes. And here's the thing, it's different than 2020. It's different than it was yesterday. It's going to be different than it was next week. This time, in 1988, Mike Dukakis was 17 points ahead of George H.W. Bush. Ross Perot was winning over George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Polling at this point -

HUNT: Well, polls have changed quite a bit in - in the decade since then.

JONES: Well, they have. And not necessarily for the better because the way we get our news and the way we see things is a lot different too. And the polling today is reflective, as much as anything of what you're seeing on the news today.

HUNT: So, look, I take your point about Donald Trump and the challenges that he has, but the reality is they could potentially put another Democrat up against Donald Trump, and it would still be Donald Trump.


And you might have a stronger argument with somebody else.

JONES: You might. But, you know, right now, 14 million people voted for Joe Biden. And Joe Biden says he's in. And I've said from the very beginning, look, I watched the debate. On a personal level, I was incredibly - it was anxiety watching his performance. There's no question about that.

But I've also believed - I've watched Joe Biden over the last 50 years and I understand that he has always made the decisions based on what he believes is in the best interest of the American people. And I still believe that. And if he believes, and strongly as he seems to believe and is saying, that he is the best nominee to take on Donald Trump and save this country, and save democracy from another Donald Trump presidency, we're going to go with that. We're going to absolutely stick with that and go forward with it. And I think all - you will see Democrats at this - at some point, especially after this Republican convention, unite around that and move forward.

HUNT: So, one of the other things that Michael Bennet said is that for him, quote, "it's a moral question about the future of our country." He said it's not about polling. It's not about politics. And to the point that you - all those points that you made, I think - I think where I keep tripping is that if in fact it is as dire as you've said just then, and as many Democrats say -

JONES: No, wait a minute, I didn't say it was dire. I never said -

HUNT: No, I mean dire about the - if - if the - the threat of Donald Trump is as dire as you say it is - JONES: Yes. Yes. Which is what Mike Bennet was saying was the moral decision.

HUNT: Right. Right.

JONES: Not whether or not Joe Biden gets out, but the vote -

HUNT: Right.

JONES: To keep Donald Trump out of the White House.

HUNT: Right. And what I'm saying is that if Democrats really believe - if you really believe that the threat of Donald Trump is so dire that you absolutely must win, after what Americans saw, and with all that polling, how can you say - sit and argue that it's the best option?

JONES: You know, because I'm telling you, Kasie, people are forgetting, if you look - go back. Go back and look at the polling that got reported right after the debate. Look at the focus groups that were done during the debate. It was not what has been reported over the last two weeks. It was nothing near that bad. People - those folks saw both Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Neither one did good, OK. It was not a good - it was not a good show for America that night. But the polling wasn't that bad.

But at the same time you had Democrats who were texting folks in the media, Democrats doing this. The media went crazy. And so what you have seen as a result of that polling over the last two weeks is the polling is a result, not of the debate, but the media reporting of the debate, which has been, as Barbara Boxer said yesterday on a program here that I was on, Joe Biden has just been pummeled behind the scenes, as well as in the media. And - and we've got -

HUNT: I mean, I have to -

JONES: And hopefully, as beginning yesterday, that focus will shift now and we will start hearing more about Donald Trump once again. And I will tell you that people are beginning to wake up to project 2025.

HUNT: Yes. I mean, look, candidly, I think a lot - a lot more Americans watched the debate then tend to, you know, even kind of be in this kind of an ecosystem, which I think seems to be the challenge.

I mean, Senator, do you think the White House is being candid about the state of the president's health?

JONES: Yes. I mean, look, all right, good example, Kasie. I love you. But that - that's a nothing burger now, OK? That's - that's three days old. And - and they've answered the questions. And we're going back to a new play (ph).

HUNT: Well, they had to make a correction last night.

JONES: OK, they made it. They - they - they made a correction.

HUNT: So (INAUDIBLE). It's not three days old. That's not fair. JONES: I understand that. But - but we're going back and replaying things that a - the doctors have said exactly what happened. And one would expect a neurologist to examine the president once a year as part of his physical. There is no question about that.

One would expect, if you've ever been in the White House, and you were the White House correspondent. You've been over there. You've seen the number of people. You've seen the medical staff over there. People - there's a lot of people over there. And you bring folks in. I mean, when I was there in 2022 during Covid, it was crazy to watch the number of medical professionals that are coming through there.

So, I think that that is an issue. I think that they have been.

Look, President Biden's 81-years-old. He is - he is not the - a president that is going to run up and down steps. He's not the kind of president who's going to do the things - he's not - but he's not also trying out to be the starting quarterback for the Buffalo Bills. He is - he is a -

HUNT: But frankly, and let's bring the panel into this too. I mean it's - in some ways it's easier to be the quarterback for the Buffalo Bills than it is to be president of the United States.

JONES: No, not from - not from a physical standpoint it is not. The president of the United States has a team around him. And that is about judgment. And that is about taking in all of the things that Joe Biden has got years of experience doing, talking to world leaders. He's not talking to world leaders when he is out running track. He has told - or even on a treadmill.


He is talking to world leaders to discuss the issues of the day, the Gaza issues, which were that close, I think, to a ceasefire based on everything that I'm hearing. He's talking to President Zelenskyy about Ukraine. He's trying to keep the United States of America on board with NATO and strengthening NATO the way it has worked. That's what the president of the United States does.

HUNT: Right.

JONES: He is not out there doing jumping jacks every day to try to show how fit he might be to be the quarterback.

HUNT: Right. Well, and the question, of course, I think is, you know, how he can manage all of that cognitively speaking.

But, Senator, you are a very strong advocate for President Biden. Thank you very much for being here. I'm sorry that our panel didn't get a last word, but we are after 7:00 a.m., so I want to say thanks to them. And thanks to you for joining us. Don't go anywhere. "CNN NEWS CENTRAL" starts right now.