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Erin Burnett Outfront

Top House Dem Hakeem Jeffries To CNN: I Support Biden; Biden Defiant As He Goes Into Key Meeting; New Details From Inside Trump Campaign On VP Race, Timing; Russian Strike Flattens Ukraine's Largest Children's Hospital. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 08, 2024 - 19:00   ET




The breaking news, President Biden defiant tonight as the top Democrat in the House, just moments ago coming out in support of the president. But tonight, there are new questions about Biden's health that the White House is right now refusing to answer.

Also, breaking, new details tonight on Trump's search for a VP. Who's up, who's down, and when will we know? It is hours, days away and we have new reporting into OUTFRONT tonight.

And Ukraine vowing revenge after Putin launches a massive strike against Ukraine, striking a children's hospital with dozens dead.

Let's go OUTFRONT.

And good evening. I'm Erin Burnett.

OUTFRONT tonight, we begin with the breaking news, a major vote of confidence for Joe Biden this hour. The highest ranking Democrat in the House, Hakeem Jeffries, just telling our Manu Raju that he backs Biden.


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 that day after the debate publicly that I support President Joe Biden and the Democratic ticket. My position has not changed.


BURNETT: All right. It's a hugely significant show of support from the leader that all eyes have been on. And it comes just moments before the president meets with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Now, they could be the most powerful group to call for Biden to stay in the race after his performance at CNN's presidential debate. And tonight's meeting is all part of a full-court press to save the

Biden campaign. It started today with a letter that he wrote to members of Congress in which Biden wrote, and I quote him, I am firmly committed to staying in this race, to running this race to the end, and to beating Donald Trump.

That was followed by a call into "Morning Joe".


JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The bottom line here is that we're not going anywhere. I am not going anywhere. I wouldn't be running if I didn't absolutely believe that I'm the best candidate to beat Donald Trump in 2024.


BURNETT: The White House today, though, now fighting to contain new fallout from the press briefing today. Now, there were questions there -- more questions than answers, frankly, about Biden's health.

So, the White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre asked -- was asked again and again why a top Parkinson's disease specialist visited the White House eight times over the past year. There's a lot of people who work there, so they could say, was it for the president or not for the president definitively.

Earlier in this meeting, we do know that that physician actually held a meeting with Biden's physician.


REPORTER: Can you state like very clearly, yes or no, was that expert here to participate in anything surrounding the care of the president United States?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: So let me just say a couple of things. We have had a comprehensive -- I just want to take another step back.


JEAN-PIERRE: Hold on, hold on, wait, wait, wait. Wait a second, wait --

REPORTER: Come to the White House eight or at least once in regards with the president specifically.


JEAN-PIERRE: I just -- wait, hold on a second.

REPORTER: That should be answered by this point.


JEAN-PIERRE: No, no, no, no, no, no, no, wait a minute. Ed, please, a little respect here it is. You're asking me --

REPORTER: -- Dr. Kevin Cannard come to the White House --


JEAN-PIERRE: I also said to you, Ed, I also said to you for security reasons, we cannot share names.

REPORTER: Can you confirm that the Parkinson's visits, specialist visits were for the president or not?

JEAN-PIERRE: I -- what I can tell you is that the president has seen a neurologist three times.

REPORTER: Clear this all up just by saying what he was doing here and if it was connected to the president, yes or no?

JEAN-PIERRE: I am not going to confirm that a particular neurologist, anybody.


BURNETT: Now, these questions will be looming over what could very well be Biden's biggest test since the debate, a high-stakes NATO summit that he's hosting in Washington this week, his helped will be a focus during the gathering and we full of photo-ops remarks, unscripted Q&As, which Biden had recently been avoiding.

Well, Manu Raju is OUTFRONT live on Capitol Hill tonight. MJ Lee is at the White House.

Manu, I want to start with you though, because as I mentioned, you just spoke with the Democratic leader Hakeem Jeffries. That was an extremely significant news that he just gave you.

What more did he tell you?

RAJU: Yeah, a show -- a show of support after he's been relatively quiet in the aftermath of that Biden's debate performance that spawned all this internal Democratic concern, just concerned that have been voicing privately for the past week because members of Congress have been on a recess the past week.


And this will be the first time that they will actually meet behind closed doors. Because the talk about their concerns about Joe Biden staying in the top of the ticket that meeting scheduled to take place tomorrow morning. A significant moment about whether Joe Biden can maintain his support among Democrats on Capitol Hill.

Then there's the Senate Democratic meeting that will happen in the afternoon tomorrow as well, another pivotal moment as Chuck Schumer, the Senate majority leader, only would say, I'm for Joe when asked repeatedly about Biden over the last -- over when he came in to the Senate earlier today. Now when I asked Jeffries about the concern among many Democrats that

Joe Biden is toxic at the top of the ticket, that he could drag down down-ticket Democrats, could cost them the House and could potentially cost them the Senate, he pushed back.


RAJU: Are you worried it's going to cost you the House?

JEFFRIES: We're going to win the House of Representatives.


RAJU: Now, despite this show of support from the House Democratic leader, there are a lot of Democrats who are not going nearly as far, including the number three Democrat Pete Aguilar, who I just caught up with moments ago. I asked him directly if he supports Joe Biden at the top of the ticket, he would not say he said were going to have a robust discussion tomorrow.

A lot of Democrats are saying that, or they say that Biden needs to prove that he can move ahead and can have unscripted moments in the words of Pramila Jayapal. And they want to make sure that they -- he could actually to win this race. So a lot of concern, the jury is still out among many Democrats.

But make no mistake about it, Erin, there's a reason why Joe Biden is meeting virtually with the Congressional Black Caucus tonight. They are the largest, most vocal group, largest group in the House Democratic Caucus. If they come out and offer vocal support for him, that could go a long way in tamping down this rebellion in the ranks -- Erin.

BURNETT: Yeah, an interesting word when you use the word "rebellion".

All right, thank you so much, Manu.

And I want to go now to MJ Lee because she's outside the White House.

And, you know, MJ, the White House does appear to be having a lot of trouble answering these questions about Biden's medical care. I just played obviously a small snippet of that. Those exchanges with Karine Jean-Pierre, and as you know, because you were there, there was a lot more where that came from.

MJ LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. You only really played a couple of the exchanges that the White House press secretary had with reporters, but she was asked multiple times by multiple reporters about this Parkinson specialists that visited the White House. And she repeatedly declined to answer key question of whether that specialists was ever hear to consult about specifically President Biden and his health.

And just to remind everyone, you know, Dr. O'Connor, who is the president's doctor has previously said that the president has shown no signs of Parkinson's, that he's not being treated for Parkinson's and the White House has repeated that earlier today.

But I think a part of the reason that we are seeing this heightened sense of frustration and exasperation within the White House press corps is because ever since debate, the White House is really share no additional information that would help us have a fuller picture of the president's medical records or his health, but not to mention, it has really declined to make Dr. O'Connor, the president's doctor available for additional questioning.

And remember, Erin, Biden himself was asked over the weekend about whether he has ever had any neurological or cognitive examinations and he was essentially dismissive. He said being president is the same thing as taking a full neurological test every single day. I think nervous Democrats who were watching that interview or watching really the White House press briefing today. They were not going to be satisfied by those answers from the White House.

BURNETT: All right. MJ, thank you very much.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Seth Moulton. He's calling on President Biden to step aside as the 2024 Democratic presidential nominee.

And, Congressman, I so much appreciate your time.

You hear Leader Jeffries speaking out now, telling our Manu Raju that he does support the president. His position has not changed on that. Does it give you any pause in how strongly you have come out in the opposite direction?

REP. SETH MOULTON (D-MA): No, it doesn't give me pause. It was a hard decision for me to reach because I love Joe Biden. He's an amazing president and he's even been a great mentor and friend to me personally.

I used to have breakfast with him when he was vice president. He coached me on being a freshman in Congress. But we need to win this election.

The reality though, is that for the president, he's got to be all in until he's not. And I think a lot of party leaders feel the same way. For us in the rank and file, we're trying to be a little bit more honest and really just push in the right direction here.

I hear from constituents all over the country right now that were desperate to win this election, and we've got to make sure we have the best candidate to defeat Donald Trump.


BURNETT: So you did also hear, Congressman, the White House press briefing, that back-and-forth regarding a neurologist visits, plural, to the White House. So I guess just asking you and I understand, you've already made it clear what you think that president should do, that you think he should step aside.

But what more do you want to hear from the White House right now about President Biden's health?

MOULTON: In some ways, I think the health is a distraction. We need to campaign plan. We need to understand what he's going to do differently to win because right now, we're behind in the polls, especially in the key swing states the president needs to carry this election. And those polls got worse after the debate.

So we need to see a change in course. You know, not just -- not just one pretaped interview over seven days, over a week after the disastrous debate, but a real new plan to turn this around. Because when you're strategy isn't working, you can't just doubled down on the same strategy. You have to have a new strategy. You have to have a new plan.

We haven't heard that yet from the White House.

BURNETT: So, is there something that he could say that would -- when I -- and I understand that. Is there something that he could say though that would change your conclusion here, right?

Because you've been one of the few that have come out and you did so even though many others either weren't willing to or were afraid to, right, but you did speak out. Is there something he could do or say at this point that would change your mind?

MOULTON: He really has to demonstrate that he can make a big comeback in the polls because at the end of the day, defeating Donald Trump is what matters. It matters for not just the Democratic Party, but for our country, for our democracy.

This is -- this is a convicted criminal who incited a mob to storm the Capitol, something that's never happened before in American history. And now, he gets blanket immunity from the Supreme Court. The second term of Donald Trump could be far, far worse.

So what Democrats want, what I want is a clear plan to win, and a candidate who can demonstrate that he can go toe to toe with Donald Trump in defeat him.

I mean, look, Erin, this really should be easy. He's a convicted criminal. A lot of Republicans don't like Donald Trump. So we should be way ahead in the polls right now.

It's gravely concerning to me that we're behind and we're getting further behind after the debate.

BURNETT: So, Jill Biden, the first lady, obviously has been a steadfast defender of her husband by his side. And she said something today that I wanted to play for you, Congressman. Here she is.


JILL BIDEN, U.S. FIRST LADY: Joe has made it clear that he's all in.



That's the decision that he's made, and just as he has always supported my career, I am all in, too.


BURNETT: Congressman, you talk about those breakfasts you had that he was a mentor. So, you know, you know him personally. How important is Jill Biden right now to the president and to his decision-making?

MOULTON: I think she's incredibly important. She's an amazing woman, a great leader and someone that the president obviously listens to carefully.

But what I would say in response to that clip, with all due respect to the president, is this is not about you. You know, my first introduction to serving the country was in the -- in the Marines, and I tried to carry those values now into politics. And one of the things the marines always drill into you is this is not about you. It's about your fellow marines. It's about your country, putting the country first.

And that's what we're asking the president to do. I know he loves his job. I know he loves serving the country and I know he's done amazing things for America, not only as president, but for decades in the Senate, but this is a team sport.

And Joe's the captain of our team. He needs to decide what's best for Democrats and for the country, not just for himself.

BURNETT: All right. Congressman Moulton, I appreciate your time and thoughts tonight. Thank you.

MOULTON: Thank you, Erin.

And now, I want to go straight to the Democratic Congressman Robert Garcia of California. He is on the Biden campaign's national advisory board.

So, Congressman, I appreciate your time, and you had a chance there to listen to Seth Moulton. He wants Biden to step aside. He explains why.

Why do you think that is wrong?

REP. ROBERT GARCIA (D-CA): Well, thanks.

I have a lot of respect for all my colleagues and their perspectives and opinions. I am 100 percent with President Biden and the vice president, actually just not too long ago, our Speaker Hakeem Jeffries reinforced his support for the president. And I think the president, as he has said himself, is the one person in this country, but is actually defeated Donald Trump. He's done it before. He'll do it again.

He, of course, was greatly underestimated during his last election, during the primary, people counted him out and he came back and won those primaries, and then beat Donald Trump.


And so, I think the caucus is uniting and hardening around him, supporting the president. You're seeing it in the grassroots. The folks that I talked to across this country, they support Joe Biden, and they want us to sit with him and we certainly are.

BURNETT: So you mentioned Hakeem Jeffries and he had been listening to all of you in the caucus. He had been listening. He had said nothing. Now, as you point out, he's telling our Manu Raju that he does back the president.

Now you heard Congressman Moulton say that doesn't sway him, that he has -- he feels the way he feels, but from others you've spoken to, will Hakeem Jeffries taking a stand and backing the president make a difference.

GARCIA: Of course. I mean, anytime that you have Hakeem Jeffries, the next speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, Jim Clyburn, the leadership of our party, uniting once again and standing with the president and the vice president, that's incredibly important.

But more importantly, it's the grassroots voters. Let's not forget that the president had his absolute best fundraising numbers right after the debate. We're hearing from grassroots voters across the country. They are standing with Joe Biden and Kamala Harris.

And so, absolutely, I think -- I think having Hakeem's support is going to be critical and I'm seeing today in the base of this party is -- are Black voters, are Latino voters. Those members, those voters are coming out strongly and were hearing from them to reinforce our support for the president.

So I think what you're seeing now, especially is this fighting spirit in Joe Biden. I think what he did today, what he's been doing the last couple of days and really fighting back, punching back, punching back at Donald Trump, who has been horrific for this country, is exactly the kind of fighter that we're going to see for the rest of the campaign.

BURNETT: All right. Now, you are also on the House Oversight Committee, so I want to ask you about this, Congressman.

The chairman of your committee, James Comer, is asking President Biden's doctor, Kevin O'Connor, to come in for an interview. Now, he asked for that before the White House briefing today, and in that briefing, they would not confirm why O'Connor met with the Parkinson specialist earlier this year.

Are you concerned that the White House is not giving specifics on this, or do you have any questions about the president's health?

GARCIA: Well, first, I mean, James Comer goes from one tinfoil hat conspiracy theory hearing to the next. I mean, it's been a constant attack on President Biden this entire time. He can't hold an honest hearing, and he hasn't been able to the entire time he's been leading the Oversight Committee.

So I -- I don't trust James Comer at all to do anything that's actually legitimate or being done the right way. This is the same person that attacks scientists in Dr. Fauci, the same person that brings literally spies and people who have been discredited to -- and to serve as witnesses in our committees.

And so, no, I don't support James Comer and his endless investigations of Joe Biden.

As far as the president's health, he's spoken to that --


GARCIA: -- his physician put up that information. I trust the president. He's fighting back. He's doing great.

Yes, he had a bad debate night. We all know that, but we're moving forward and we're going to beat Donald Trump in November.

BURNETT: Congressman Garcia, I appreciate your time tonight. Thank you so much.

And next, the White House today, also refusing to commit to a cognitive test for Biden. How come? And I guess when that happened, you say, well, what actually is the cognitive test? What does it entail?

We've got answers. Dr. Sanjay Gupta is next. He is calling for Biden to take cognitive test and he'll explain.

Plus, new reporting about why one Trump VP shortlist could be on the outs. And it has everything to do with looks.

And we're also following breaking news out of Texas this hour where right now, Tropical Storm Beryl is lashing Houston with deadly force. I'm going to speak to a storm chaser who is there and says he's never seen anything like this one.



BURNETT: Tonight, doubling down the White House tonight, refusing to commit to President Biden taking a cognitive test.


JEAN-PIERRE: The neurologist has said it is not warranted. The president himself said it today. He said it multiple times. And the doctor has said this. Everything that he does day in and day out as it relates to delivering for the American people is a cognitive test.


BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, who of course, is a neurosurgeon.

So, Sanjay, you wrote an essay and you called for the president to take a cognitive exam and President Biden obviously has said that he does not need to do that.

It just had me wondering, what exactly is the cognitive tests that we're talking about here?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yeah. So, detailed neuro cognitive testing usually performed by a neuro psychologists, that can be quite involved there and its detailed history and physical examination of the patient, talking to family members, but also doing real well cognitive sort of challenges. How many words can you recite, starting with the letter T in the next 60 seconds, go. How many animals can you name in the next 60 seconds?

All sorts of different tests matching patterns, things like that, recall, trying to figure out your ability to remember, your judgment, your processing speed. What you're looking at on the screen is what's called the Montreal cognitive assessment. And people may know this because President Trump said he took this twice.

This is sort of a blunt screening tool. Think of this as maybe the first step in doing a more detailed neuro-psychological neuro- cognitive exam. This can give people maybe there's an indication of a problem and where the probe further.


In addition to cognitive testing, another thing that is often recommended would be movement disorder testing. You know, if you watch President Biden, you know, people talk about his stiffness of gait, which has been attributed to neuropathy, doesn't move his arms as well. They say he doesn't have Parkinson's disease, but there may be other movement disorders which can also be evaluated in some of the ways that I'm talking about.

BURNETT: Right. And interesting as you point out that the test President Trump took, I think that is familiar, that rhinoceros and camel picture that short version is the one that he has said he took twice, as opposed to the longer interviewing family members assessment that you're referring to.

But when you -- when you think about this, Sanjay, the debate was at 9:00 p.m. and obviously, the president has said he was exhausted, and there has been reporting that he said he wants to do events now earlier than that, he had to rally the next day that was in the early afternoon. It was a huge difference, you know, the person who showed up at the rally had showed up the night before, none of -- none of the past, you know, a week and a half what have happened in terms of what we've seen.

I interviewed him around 12:30 in the afternoon and --

GUPTA: I remember.

BURNETT: -- I didn't see any of what we saw in the debate morning. Joe is this morning same thing. I mean, I'll play it.


BIDNE: Try sitting behind his desk and making these decisions. You know it, both of you know it, they know it. I'm not bad at what I do. It doesn't mean I never make a mistake, I do, but I'm making those decisions.

Well, I know how to do this job. I know how to get things done. I know like millions of Americans is know, when you get knocked down, you get back up.

We have the strongest economy in the world. Let me say it again, in the world.

BURNETT: Although GDP last week was far short of expectations.

BIDEN: Oh, it wasn't -- look, GDP still grew. Look at the response to the markets, overwhelmingly positive, overwhelmingly positive.


BURNETT: So, Sanjay, does that add up to you that the time of day can really matter for what you see cognitively in a person?

GUPTA: I think there's two points here. One is that are these episodes that we saw during the debate then and other times, I mean, frankly, some of what we saw during the debate wasn't new. Are they episodes or are they sort of indicative of a deeper underlying condition? And if they are underlying condition, is there fluctuation in that condition?

You know, there's a term that is often used and I want to be very careful using it because its so often associated with dementia, and nobody is saying that he has dementia, but you may have heard of this term called sundowning, which is what I think you may be referring to, Erin, where people sort of late afternoon, early evening, they're not at their best. There is a fluctuation hour to hour, sometimes day-to- day or even week-to-week. But hour to hour when it comes to sundowning.

We don't -- again, I don't know that that's what he has. That is why I wrote the essay because you can do this testing. And you can really sort of parse this out a bit. And I think most it's importantly, maybe do something about it, you know?

I have a dad who's President Biden's age and we had this long conversation about driving the car recently and its heartbreaking to have these conversations, but it -- I think they're important conversations because maybe there's something you can do about it.

BURNETT: So, you know, they've said that the president does not have Parkinson's, but we know is doctor had had met with Parkinson's specialist once, and then we know that a Parkinson's disease expert visited the White House multiple times.

We don't necessarily know if that was for the president or not. We know they say it wasn't diagnosed. There's confusion about this.

But does it raise questions to you?

GUPTA: Yeah. You know, I watched that press conference very closely. And as you say, they were very careful to not suggest that that doctor was visiting because the president, I guess there are many other people who could potentially being treated -- be treated in the White House, you know, so we don't know.

But I guess I would say this going back to my earlier point, if this person was saying the president, the Walter Reed doctors are the best -- some of the best doctors in the world. And if they are there to see the president, I'm glad because, you know, there's things that can be done with some of these conditions. And I think early testing and potentially early treatment is so important.

It strikes me that there's so much stigma around this. You know, we used to talk about heart disease the same way. People wouldn't get tested for heart disease because I didn't think there was anything I could do about it. And I think were sort of in the same way with brain disease now.

There is something that can be done and that's why people should get tested.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Sanjay, thank you very much.

And I mentioned Sanjay's essay as obviously we began speaking, but I would encourage everyone to take a look at it about cognitive testing. And it is at So you can go read the full essay there.

And next, we have some breaking news. We have new reporting just coming into OUTFRONT and this is about Trump's VP search status right now, who is now believed to be on the top of the list. We're hours or mere days away from knowing.


Plus, you're looking at live pictures from Ukraine where rescuers are right now still searching for victims after that deadly Russian strike on a massive children's hospital.


BURNETT: Breaking news, Biden's debate fallout is now impacting Trump's decision on who hell pick as a running mate. This as we are learning new details from "The Bulwark's" Marc Caputo on who Trump is zeroing in on, and when that announcement is going to come.

I mean, obviously time is of the essence here, because the Republican National Convention starts a week from today. There -- there are rules around this, you know, you got to announce it.

And Marc Caputo joins me now.

So, Marc, what is the latest that you're hearing on -- I mean, whether he's already made a decision or what it's down to at this point for him?

MARC CAPUTO, NATIONAL POLITICAL REPORTER, THE BULWARK: Well, you never know when Trump has made a decision until Trump says he's made a decision, now he says he has, but he hasn't made the announcement. So who knows?

But it still looks like the top three front runners from the buzz of those who've spoken to him and spoken a top campaign aides, allies, and confidants that is, JD Vance looks like he's sort of in the catbird seat long with Doug Burgum and Rubio looks like he's sort of in third place.

But this is all sort of speculation about what Trump will do or say.


And it's very risky predicting that until he does or says it.

BURNETT: Yeah. No. I mean, I was talking to Marco Rubio the other day and you can't have two people from Florida on the same ticket. He'd have to move residency. I mean, you know, he's sort of dodged that question. But there are some logistical challenges to that pick.

When can we expect to find out?


Probably it's latest possible, you know, he has until Monday to do it under Republican National Convention rules. So don't be surprised if he announces it on Monday on Truth Social. On Saturday, Donald Trump has a rally in Butler, Pennsylvania, that looks like a good time according to those who sort of know his rhythms and his thinking.

Now, tomorrow in Doral, in the Miami area, where Rubio lives and where Trump has a golf course and club, he's going to have a rally as well. And there's some speculation and really announced Rubio.

Some people are saying, well, probably not. He probably wouldn't want to do with this early. The reason was, Joe Biden, Democrats are in a death spiral right now, at least from a press perspective, that is they're sort of killing each other. Joe Biden keeps saying, look, I'm staying in the race, I'm staying in the race, and then all of these different Democrats are coming out saying, well, he shouldn't stay in the race. They're whispering that he should resign.

Donald Trump doesn't want to get the middle of that. Like if his enemy, his opponent is making a mistake, or letting himself or themselves on fire. He's happy to stand back right now and watch them go up in flames.

BURNETT: Right, which is look, its a level of self-control that is notable for him. I mean, I remember on debate night it afterwards, we thought he would come out to the spin room and when it seemed that obviously the debate had obviously gotten significantly better for him, that he would do that, but he didn't because he wanted to let it sit. So, reticence, I'm sorry, that is not necessarily in character. But what we do know is in character is that looks matter, and optics matter, and you actually have reporting Marc on how looks are playing into the VP choice, specifically with JD Vance and Governor Burgum.

CAPUTO: Right. Of all things that Donald Trump doesn't really like is facial hair. If you'll notice, most of the guys around them are clean shaven and there's some buzz in Trump's orbit, like look, if JD Vance doesn't get it, it's because of the beard.

Now that puts JD Vance and kind of a box because he is the youngest of the crew who is on the VP shortlist for Trump. And if elected, if chosen, if elected, Vance would be the third youngest VP ever in U.S. history to serve. That as he would be 40, I think number two was Nixon who was 40 day, 40 years and 11 days old.

Vance will be a little older. He turns 40 next month, so that's an issue for Vance. But in the end, people are just saying, look, Trump's got his court, and he's going to pick who he picks. But again, the buzz right now is Vance and Burgum look like his two favorites. But once again, we just don't know what Donald Trump --

BURNETT: All right. Well, Marc Caputo, thank you very much. Always great to see you.

CAPUTO: Thank you.

BURNETT: And also tonight, Trump praising the RNC's new party platform, what he doesn't say is that he wrote some of that new platform himself, and it cements his grip on the party and, you know, there's often a discussion about these things. It's a committee but not in this case, he's doing a lot of it and what he has done is softened language on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

This is hugely significant. And Kristen Holmes is OUTFRONT.

Kristen, this -- you know, your reporting here, you know, the platform reads like a Trump rally speech when its not like anything we've seen before from the Republican Party, from what you understand.


I mean, this is much shorter. It's much more vague. We're talking about decades of precedent when you look at these kind of platforms that give out a very detailed page by page, line by line of what the Republican Party stands for. And that's just not what this is.

And you noted that it sounds a little bit like a Trump rally. Well, it should because as you said, Donald Trump wrote part of it. He also edited it very diligently, spent a lot of time with it before he approved it, and it mimics who he is as a candidate and as a person.

Part of it again, focusing on things that he tends to focus on, mass deportations as well as immigration. He talks about stopping the weaponization of the government. Then the softening of the language because we know Donald Trump believes that certain things that the Republicans have campaigned been done before, like abortion, like same-sex marriage are not things that are widely popular, or at least not politically sound for them to be running on. He thinks that they are not things that are of the current mind and that there are things that they shouldn't really be focused on.

So one of the things they really did is they watered down this abortion stance. It's very short. It focuses instead on yes, everything Donald Trump has said since the overturning of Roe v. Wade that they should be in the states hands, no mention of a national abortion ban, which Donald Trump said he would not pass if he was elected to second term.

The other part of this is that same-sex marriage, traditional marriage used to be defined in the GOP platform as between a man and woman.


That's no longer in the platform.

The other one on there is this instead of this emphasis that they've had for years, the Republican Party on repaying the national debt, not accruing more debt, kind of really minimized that, and instead et are focusing on inflation.

Again, all of this is have Donald Trump portrays himself in these various rallies is what it's on his campaign website. But now, it is the official stance of the Republican Party, which really goes to show you how much, as you said, he has cemented his grip over this party.

BURNETT: Amazing, you talk about debt reduction, fiscal responsibility, those used to be the calling cards for the Republican Party, among many things in that platform that you're talking about. That is incredible to just remove that.

All right. Thank you very much, Kristen Holmes, with that reporting.

And next, live pictures from Ukraine where rescuers are still scouring that debris desperately looking for survivors. Putin launching a daytime assault, a children's hospital among the targets. And Ukraine tonight vowing to retaliate.

Plus, we're following the breaking news out of Texas this hour. Tropical Storm Beryl is pounding the state. I'm going to speak to was born storm chaser, who is there on the ground and I'll tell you about something he's seen tonight that he has not seen before.



BURNETT: Tonight, revenge Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, vowing payback against the, quote, savages from Russia. There we know at this point, at least 37 people have been killed, more than 170 wounded for massive Russian airstrikes across Ukraine. And they are still hunting for people, including at a children's hospital in Kyiv.

We are looking right now at live pictures because of that hospital as rescuers are digging through rubble under those lights out of fear, they do believe that more people are trapped inside. It was a fully operational hospital, children being operated on, children suffering from cancer inside, the shocking aerial assault on population centers far from the frontlines happening is civilians were out in morning rush hour.

Fred Pleitgen is OUTFRONT tonight with more.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice- over): A massive attack in broad daylight. The social media video purporting to show the moment a Russian missile hit Kyiv's main children's hospital. The building flat, desperate first responders, but also hospital staff trying to find survivors under the debris.

There are people under the rubble, Kyiv's mayor says. There may be children among them.

This woman in tears. He came here five minutes before it all happened, she says. We managed to get to the pediatric ward. It's a nightmare.

Just days before Vladimir Putin's military bombed Ukraine civilian infrastructure, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban, currently holding the European Union presidency, was in Moscow, a trip that other EU leaders have rejected and criticize.

Putin using the platform to attack the U.S. and its allies.

The sponsors of Ukraine continue to try to use this country and its people as a battering ram, Putin said, a victim in the confrontation with Russia.

Orban is not only arguably Vladimir Putin's staunchest ally Europe, he's also a major supporter of former President Donald Trump, celebrating a March visit to Mar-a-Lago on his Instagram page, and telling German outlet "Bild", he supports Trump's presidential bid in an exclusive interview.

VIKTOR ORBAN, HUNGARY PRIME MINISTER: So, he is -- he's a businessman. He's a self-made man. He has a different approach to everything. And I -- and I -- and I believe that that will be good for the world's politics. Don't forget that he is the man of the peace.

PLEITGEN: Orban cozying up to other U.S. adversaries as well, currently on a visit to China, leading President Xi Jinping Beijing saying they're pleased with Orban's efforts to end the war in Ukraine.

This, as China has just sent troops to neighboring Belarus, close to NATO's eastern flank, for military exercises.

The Ukrainians say, rather for proposals for their de-facto surrender, they need more air defense systems to help prevent strikes, like the one that destroyed the children's hospitals.

(END VIDEOTAPE) PLEITGEN (on camera): And, Erin, tonight, India's prime minister, Narendra Modi, in Moscow, visiting Vladimir Putin there for talks. India, of course, also an ally of the United States, but with very good ties to Moscow. And there are many people who are saying that India is essentially giving Russia an economic lifeline by purchasing evermore Russian crude oil -- Erin.

BURNETT: All right. Fred, thank you very much, on the way to Ukraine tonight.

And OUTFRONT now, David Sanger, the White House and national security correspondent at "The New York Times", also author of "New Cold Wars: China's Rise, Russia's invasion, and Americas Struggle to Defend the West".

So, David, as you saw, Fred's reporting, this massive Russian strike in Ukraine, including on a children's hospital, coming a day before the NATO summit and obviously you're covering that.

Biden putting NATO front and center in his case to stay in the race, and here's what he's saying.


BIDEN: I was also the guy that expanded NATO. I'm the guy that put NATO together. I'm the guy that shut Putin down. Who's going to be able to hold NATO together like me?


BURNETT: So just how big of a moment is this, David, this summit for Biden to appear strong given the questions right now surrounding his candidacy?

DAVID SANGER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, Erin, it's a very big moment for President Biden for three reasons, I think. The first is obviously he identifies himself and I think he identifies probably rightly is the biggest accomplishment of his presidency putting NATO together to respond to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Now, I think he went a bit over the top when he said that he shut Russia down. Clearly, he has not. Russia's economy has continued to expand.


It now has a new and burgeoning relationship with China, with Iran, with North Korea, all of which suppliers to him or purchasing oil in China's case. So he hasn't exactly shut down.


SANGER: And you're seeing the president, Dems trying to demonstrate starting tomorrow night, that he can operate among 38 world leaders who will be in war. That's a pretty complex grouping to go deal with each with their own interests and so it'll be an opportunity to see how he performs.

BURNETT: Right, and all those unscripted moments, Q&As, photograph, all that. But what are you hearing, David, from your reporting? Because I know you've been speaking to, you know, NATO leaders and those close to them what do they think about what's going on in the U.S. right now, the possibility of Biden getting out of the race.

SANGER: They're pretty scared about the possibility of Donald Trump coming back in.

They were through the Trump experience, and remember, it's the NATO countries that got the brunt of Donald Trump's treatment in the first term. He declared when he came in that they were obsolete. He wouldn't repeat the Article Five commitment that's in the NATO treaty where attack on one is an attack on all.

It was just a few months ago that he said that if he didn't judge that a country had contributed sufficiently to NATO, what he keeps calling their dues to the United States. It's not quite how it works, that he would let the Russians do, I think the phrase was, whatever the hell they want.

So, an alliance is about confidence, Erin, and right now, what they're lacking as they arrive here for the 75th anniversary is confidence that the U.S. well be there for them in six months time.

BURNETT: All right. David, thank you very much.

And next, tropical storm Beryl turning deadly, now, tearing through Texas in Houston. We're going to speak to a storm chaser who's been tracking storms for years as this is the worst he's seen. He was trapped for seven hours.



BURNETT: Tonight, Tropical Storm Beryl hammering Texas. The winds unleashed today at one point top 90 miles an hour there. Roofs ripped off buildings, flooding and tornadoes are still a huge threat at this hour.

Right now, we're showing you exclusive footage. This was shot by storm chaser, Mike Boylan, who is my guest tonight. He was actually trapped for seven hours and those rising waters. He has been in four major hurricanes, says this one is among the worst and right now, you've got 2.7 million people but without power in the Houston area.

It's dangerously hot. The heat index there at 105 degrees. This is obviously far from normal, because when you see storms like this, and obviously this one now a tropical storm, but it did hit as a hurricane. Usually you see that in the end of the summer, Texas, late August, September. You don't see them at the very beginning of July.

OUTFRONT now, storm chaser, Mike Boylan, who is right now in Houston, Texas. He runs the popular Mike's Weather Page, which is a hurricane tracking website.

And, Mike, you've been chasing this massive storm. I know you've got so much footage of what you saw, the winds, flash, flooding, obviously still a huge threat at this hour. We'll show you some of the footage so that our viewers can see of what you say was among the most powerful storms that you have seen as you have been a storm chaser.

Can you tell us sort of what has stood out to you in these past hours.

MIKE BOYLAN, STORM CHASER: You know, living in Florida, we've had a lot of tropical storms, category one hurricanes. This one just felt different. It intensified right as it was nearing the coast, the surge came up so quick. It literally came up in a matter of minutes.

And the winds -- the winds, Erin, were like, I've been three or four major hurricanes. I could barely even open my car door and I'm not one to hype, but it was incredible these winds.

And then when I went back this morning and this afternoon to see the damages, that's when I ran you realize this wasn't your normal category one storm. We had the surge, but so many homes had roof damaged, large trees down, RVs on their side, stuff you normally don't see in a category one.

And then driving here to Houston, I was this absolute, absolutely blown away with the damages here. Many, many, many miles inland.

BURNETT: Right. It is pretty incredible as you point out, when you talked about the flooding and the storm surge, what can come with it, that maybe the category itself doesn't actually reflect necessarily how horrible the damage can be.

I know that you were trapped for seven hours. You had no place to go at one point. It's the hurricane is all around you and you mentioned the car door when you couldn't open it. Let me just play that moment, Mike.


BOYLAND: I'm going to try to go outside going to try to go outside.



BURNETT: Mike, how is this different than what you've experienced, as someone who tracked storms and so someone as you point out, you live in Florida, you've been through this many times.

BOYLAN: Yeah. Yeah. If I didn't know it was a cat-1, I would have thought it was a major hurricane there are other storm chasers area that we often talked about this after the fact and it just felt different and I don't know if it was because it was intensifying at the last moment.

But I do know the height people for the season was these abnormal warm waters. These anomalies that were seeing a barrel, did it in the Caribbean and it did it approach here to Texas. So I think that's what we're going to be seeing this year ahead as those warm waters and they really do fuel hurricanes.

BURNETT: What, what is it -- how do you register though that you're doing this at the beginning of July?

BOYLAN: Well, that is the incredible part, actually June, right? It started out in June and no, we have friends that were down in the Caymans going to Jamaica, had no idea this was even come and they cancel their plans because I was talking to one of them and he's like, you're kidding me, right?

So this is not normal for this time a year in very, very unheard of. So we're going to have a busy season ahead, I'm afraid.

BURNETT: All right. Well, Mike, I appreciate your time and thank you very much for sharing this with us.

And thanks so much to all of you for being with us tonight. We'll see you back here tomorrow.

"AC360" begins right now.