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CNN Live Event/Special

State of the Race: White House: "We Understand That It Was A Bad Night" At Debate; New CNN Poll: 75 Percent of Voters Say Dems' 2024 Chances Are Better If Someone Other Than Biden Is Nominee; NYT: Biden's Lapses Are Increasingly Common, More Pronounced; Trump Sentencing In Hush Money Case Delayed Until Mid-September. Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 02, 2024 - 15:00   ET



KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Opportunity to speak to these supporters.

He did that, and that was something that he was able to that he was able to do right after. And then we stopped at a waffle house some of you all know and spoke to a full, a packed, a packed restaurant. He spent some time there.

Then the next day, he went to North Carolina, spoke in front of hundreds of supporters there who said, we support Joe, we love you, Joe. And so he was able to do that.

In those two-and-a-half days or so after the debate, he went to four states and engaged with supporters, engaged with American people, everyday people, heard directly from them. And let's not forget when we landed in North Carolina, I think it was like 2:00 a.m. in the morning, he engaged with supporters there as well.

So the president has been out there. He's been listening to supporters. That's something that he loves to do and that just supporters, but American people out there, everyday people who appreciate what he does, who wants to hear more from him as you just stayed in and got that opportunity to do just that. I think it matters that he's going to do an interview on Friday. I think its matters that he's going to go to Wisconsin and do that, right? Engage with everyday people.

We're going to continue that. Nothing has changed in that regard. We're going to continue to be out there. He's going to be in Pennsylvania as well this weekend as I just stated.

REPORTER: And one more, we're reporting that Hunter Biden has been in some meetings with senior advisers. Why is the president's son involved?

JEAN-PIERRE: So a couple of things. I do -- I saw that reporting as I was coming out. So, a couple of things there. Look, the president, as you know, is very close to his family this is a holiday week, Fourth of July. He spent time with his family as you all know, and reported at Camp David. Hunter came back with him and walked with him -- into that meeting that prep that speech prep, and, you know, he ended up spending time with his dad and his family that night.

That is basically what happened. It is a week where there's going to be more family members who are going to come to the White House. I'm sure you'll see some of them on Fourth of July, many more are expected to be here.

REPORTER: We're with you in the family in the White House. The question, though, would be, is he participating in meetings with senior advisers?

JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say is that he came back with his dad from Camp David. He walked him into the speech prep and he was in the room. That I can tell you he was in the room. Anything else coming out of that reporting, I can't speak to.

But I can say that, you know, he's close to his family, which is not unusual. They were together at Camp David they came back together. You're going to see a lot more family this week. Okay.

REPORTER: Karine, I want to go back to that question that Pelosi raised earlier today.


REPORTER: Pelosi asked it is -- Pelosi said it's a legitimate question to ask if this is an episode or is this is a condition. Which one is it?

JEAN-PIERRE: Well, what I can tell you is that he had a cold and a bad night. I would not see this as an episode. I would see this as what it was and what we believe it to be, which is it was a bad night. And he did on top of that he had a cold.

And that is the reality of the situation. That is the reality of what happened that night.

REPORTER: You've certainly seen to reporting out here that this is not just a standalone instance, that other people are saying that this has happened before. One, do you see these as legitimate questions? And also, are you being straight with the American people?

JEAN-PIERRE: I think -- I said as -- I see this as a legitimate question. I do. And I -- and I have said it is a fair question to ask. The president sees it as a legitimate question, and I think also the president saying, I am not a young man. I'm not as a smooth -- smooth talker as I used to be. I don't walk as easily as I used to be -- I used to. I don't debate as well as I used to.

I mean, the president is admitting and saying, and this is not the first time, right? He's talked about his age. He's joked about his age many times before.

And so, you heard that directly for a -- we are acknowledging what people are saying? But we do believe this was a -- this instance. It was a bad night.


REPORTER: Is he disabled? The president --

JEAN-PIERRE: No, no. Let me let me finish with your colleague, please. I know. But shouting out, come on, you know better, you know better?

REPORTER: Just one final question, immediately after the day we started to hear of the concern from Democrats on Capitol Hill, calling it just flat-out a disaster, why didn't (ph) the president immediately, personally reached out to leaders on Capitol Hill, like leader Jeffries and leader Schumer?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, I can say this, right after the debate we were on a two-and-a-half days swing four states. The president was out there hearing directly from the American people engaging directly from the European-American people.

Obviously, he respects the Democratic leadership. It is leadership there that has helped him deliver for the American people an unprecedented record on behalf of Americans across the country.


So we appreciate them obviously. But he was out there. He was out there directly with supporters, engaging with them, whether it was a tarmac, whether it was a rally, whether it was at a watch party or fundraiser. I think that's important to note, too.

And he was hearing from them. But at the same time, those leaders, Democratic leadership was hearing from members of his team, high levels senior members of his team. It's not like we were silent. It's not like we were quiet. It's not like we were not engaging with them. We were.

And now that the president is back at the White House, he's going to have some time to talk to these Democratic leadership, with Democratic leadership on the phone. I mentioned Democratic governors. He's going to do it with leaders on the Hill as well. And that's important.

And then he's going to go back out -- out into the states, obviously, and talk to and talk to Americans there. So, he can -- he's going to do both.

REPORTER: What's his message going to be to the Democratic governors when he talks to you?

JEAN-PIERRE: So I'm not going to get into a private conversation. We wanted to share these meetings. I know it was getting out there. It was floating out there. And I know it was -- and we just wanted to confirm that that we were indeed having these conversations.

But we normally, as you know, our posture is not to dive into -- dive into private conversations. He'll have these conversations. I think there'll be important. They'll hear from him. He'll hear from them, but I also want to note that there is a regular engagement with whether its intergovernmental affairs, or the office alleged affairs, regular engagement from my colleagues here with governors, with mayors, and also office so you would congressional, congressional leaders. That is something that is a regular engagement. Obviously, the president himself will engage with them this week.

REPORTER: Karine, does he still have a cold? He seemed to be clearing your throat --

JEAN-PIERRE: He still has a cold, yes. I asked, he still has a cold.

REPORTER: Thanks, Karine.

You'd said a couple of times now that the White House has provided thorough medical records for the president. The White House released the six-page summary back in February. I don't think that was a full accounting necessarily and Dr. O'Connor, in that memo, described the president as, quote, a healthy, active, robust 81-year-old male who remains fit to successfully execute the duties of the presidency.

I think that is clearly not what the majority of Americans are seeing. And we have a new poll from CBS News that says 72 percent of registered voters say the president does not have the mental and cognitive health to serve as president.

So, are you he was saying that the majority of Americans are misguided and that they just need to trust Dr. O'Connor and take him at his word?

JEAN-PIERRE: So a couple of things that I want to say the present is feeling better and you saw him last night. You saw him today, but he does indeed still have a cold.

Look, you know, I want to be very sensitive here. I think it is important to be sensitive here. We understand how the American people are feeling. We get it. We do. And I do not want to take away from that.

I'm not going to speak. I know that there was -- you all did a poll, CNN do it to the poll. I'm not going to speak to every poll. I'm just not going to do that.

I also, I'm, you know, constrained in doing that as we're heading into -- header -- heading into an election in November as you know. What I will say is majority of Americans also support the work that the president has doing an a sense of the his agenda and what he stands for, what he's been fighting for, whether it's reproductive rights, whether it's an economy that works for all, and that is something that the president is going to continue to do.

And this is why we have said, and I have said this multiple times from here, is that's why the president acknowledges. We get it. We get what Americans are feeling. That's why he's acknowledging, he's not a young man. That's why he's acknowledging, he's a little slower than he used to be in walking, and that is smooth as speaking, we get that. But we also want to make sure that we point to the successes that he's

had. His record and we want to continue to build on his unprecedented record. And I'm not going to discount what the American people see, or feel. What I can say is what we know from our side of things.

We could speak to his record and we could speak to what the president has been able to acknowledge, and I think that's important too, and that's basically acknowledging what Americans are seeing and feeling.

REPORTER: If you get it, why not release more about his medical -- his physical and mental? Why not?

JEAN-PIERRE: We -- what we have released has been very comprehensive. It has been. It has been transparent and if you compare it, right, it has. We have put that out there, you know, and we'll continue to do so, put that information out there.

You know, and, MJ, I want to be very clear. I get the question that you're asking me. But this is also a president who has had a historic administration, he has, in delivering on legislation key policies.


That is because with age comes wisdom and comes experience. And I think that matters as well.

REPORTER: Did O'Connor watch the debate?

JEAN-PIERRE: I believe Dr. O'Connor traveled with us to the debate.

REPORTER: Did he have any concerns after seeing the president --

JEAN-PIERRE: No, not at all. Not at all.

REPORTER: I have one more question, Karine.


REPORTER: The campaign's theory of the case when the president is saying, you know, where he's been, that the president has a better shot at defeating Donald Trump than any other Democrat. We have a new CNN poll that shows the vice president actually has a slightly stronger showing against Donald Trump than the president.

So, how does the president explain not passing the baton to his own 59-year-old vice president given that kind of data?

JEAN-PIERRE: So, look, as you know, I'm constrained to speaking directly to your poll and I get it. I hear the question. I got to be mindful. That is something for the campaign as you started saying that the -- what the campaign has laid out, their argument of the case, that is something for them to take up, and that is something for them to answer.

What I can speak to is the president's record. What I can speak to, what he's been able to accomplish and the things that he's been able to do and get done is be -- is actually in line with majority of Americans. And I think that's important to note.

And again, I will say with age comes wisdom and experience. And that certainly is something that the president brings.


REPORTER: Karine, we've seen some real anger expressed by donors and Democratic officials sort of how you guys handle the president, shielding him away from the impromptu settings and denying, excuse me, until last week that there really been any issue with slippage.

So I'm wondering if you guys have had a moment reflect on that strategy, any regret over it? And if you know what you would say to folks who think it's arrogant for there not to be either changes towards that strategy or what some of the personnel around are saying?

JEAN-PIERRE: And you're talking about the strategy specifically about who's around the president. Is that what you --

REPORTER: Which I think it's two parts. One, is kind of small concentrated group of aides who've been with the president for a very long time and the other is sort of systematic decisions to shield the president from the impromptu moments that we would see, that what we've seen in the previous administrations, whether it's press conferences or interviews, or --


REPORTER: -- you know, just be an out (INAUDIBLE).

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look a couple of things there to -- look, this year, the president has done more than 40 interviews and unscripted, right? Those interviews are unscripted. He has done more than 500 gaggles, right? Of course, unscripted, talking directly to many of you. Well, let's -- let me just finish.

And so, he enjoys doing that. He enjoys engaging with all of you, and we're going to continue making sure that happens.

I will say this, this is obviously this is a president that was a senator for 36 years. He was a vice president as you all know, I'm just repeating things that you all know, for eight years. And so, he has long time, you know, advisors that have been here with him for a long time. I don't think that's unusual.

He also has people who have -- who are new to -- new to the administration that also advise him look, I've been in meetings with the president where it's been a diverse group of people. And he sees us and he knows the reason why we're sitting in front of him is that we have something to share and he wants to hear from all of us.

I've heard him say, hey, what is it that -- what do you -- what do you think? What do you think? And so, my experience has been that that -- that rule is indeed open, and that he does get to hear from a diverse group of people. That has been my experience. And -- but it is not unusual for someone who has been around for that long of time to have a group of people that he's -- that's been around him for some for a minute, right? And I think that makes sense. There's nothing about that is nonsensical, that actually makes sense.

And we're going to continue to get him out in front of all of you to take your to take your questions but at a steady, steady, steady drumbeat.

REPORTER: And I have two questions. One was the logistic one, which is you mentioned the press conference.


REPORTER: Is that going to be the real big boy --


JEAN-PIERRE: So, I believe and I know you guys hold me to do it, I believe it's a solo press conference, we'll certainly have to more to share with all of you as we get closer to next week.


JEAN-PIERRE: Big boy Justin over here was asking some big boy questions, okay.

REPORTER: What do you -- you know, the president is not the only leader that's entering that NATO conference. A little bit on the back foot, Emmanuel Macron has had some electoral losses, the UK's obviously going for a big election right now.


With all these leaders kind of coming in to D.C. a little bit diminished, is how are you guys -- how is that changing? How you're looking at the summit, and what is possible?

JEAN-PIERRE: Look, it's a good question. Look, I think one thing as I talk about the president's record and what he's been able to do, right? He's been able to strengthen our worldview the way that people see us across the globe, other leaders, our partners and allies. Because of that experience, again, with experience brings, yes, with age brings experience and wisdom. And I think because of that, the president has been able to build a coalition.

If you think about Ukraine and the aggression from Russia in what Russia has done to Ukraine as they continue, as Ukraine take continues to fight that aggression, to fight for their freedom and democracy. The president was able to bring 50-plus countries to support Ukraine, to support their fight. And so, look, I will say that the president is looking forward, certainly to hosting the leaders of are 31 NATO allies, as you know, two additional -- two additional countries have done -- have joined NATO and that's because again of the president's leadership. And next week in Washington, D.C., as you know, the historic summit is

to mark the 75th anniversary of NATO's founding. So, for 75 years, NATO has kept us and the world safer, and under the president's leadership, this president's leadership, our alliance is stronger. It's larger. It's more united than ever.

And so I think what you're going to see is that displayed next week right here in Washington, D.C. And I think -- I would I think you all would agree that the president played a very, very, very being role in where NATO is today.


REPORTER: Thank you, Karine.

The administration strongly criticized the media, with clips showing the president appearing to be confused, freezing at times, and you called it cheap fakes, misinformation, disinformation, in one case, even implied that it was the product of artificial intelligence, calling it deep fakes.

Do you have any regret over using that language?

JEAN-PIERRE: Not at all. Not at all. And let me be clear, it was a certain part of the media I mean, you can speak to this better than I can. A certain part of the media which was doing this.

And look, independent mainstream fact-checkers in the press and misinformation experts have been calling out cheap fakes. And at the end of the day, they're fakes. That's what they were, targeting the president.

They had said, the reporters and these misinformation experts said that this president was being targeted. And what we did was echo them. That's what we did.

And, look, we'll certainly continue to call that out. And the cheap fakes didn't come from me. I didn't -- I didn't coin that. I didn't come from this White House or this podium.

That came from the media. They called it cheap fakes and they said, this president, President Biden, was being targeted of misinformation. It was purposefully being done to this president.

And what we did is we echo that. So, I don't regret it at all. It was just the facts.

REPORTER: Well, the administration used that sort of approach to counter "The Wall Street Journal" report, for instance, that interviewed 45 people over several months who criticized, you know, the president's handling himself in meetings and broadly --

JEAN-PIERRE: Which approach? I'm not -- I'm not following the question.

REPORTER: Talking about the president's age being a factor and concern.

JEAN-PIERRE: How was cheap fakes, I don't get where cheap fakes was related --

REPORTER: The approach of the White House to criticize relating -- to basically cast the reporting is not true.

And broadly, this is been the reason I ask is like the administration's response to our questions often seems to be, don't believe your lying eyes. The border is secure. Afghanistan withdrawal was a success. Inflation is transitory.

So is that going to change?

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, you just laid out, Jacqui, you just laid out a bunch of things. So just give me a second here. First of all, I think this is a give-and-take, right? Even in this briefing room, we go back and forth. I go back and forth with you, with your colleagues that everyone here.

And I think we have a right to say something we don't think is true, or something we think we want to push back on. That is a right for us to do, just like you have a right to push me and say, actually our sources are reporting say this.

I think it's a give-and-take. This is what makes -- what we do in this room almost every day. This is an exercise of democracy. This is an exercise of freedom of the press. That's what we're doing here.

And I think if there's some reporting that we don't believe to be true, I think its okay if we go back and forth and say actually we don't think that reporting is true, right? And so I don't see anything wrong with that.

That's how -- that is what this is. That is what this is. This is what we actually do on a daily basis. This is how we lead the world on making sure that journalism exist.


And you all have the right to do your jobs.

But we also have our right as press office here and the administration if we don't believe something is true or we'd want to share our side of things that we do so. You know, look, on the other things that you just listed, you know, I've talked about this president's record, a lot, often here, and this just however minutes I've been at this podium, and look, when it comes to the economy, the data shows it. When it comes to health care, the data shows it.

Afghanistan, obviously, it is -- it is an important conversation to have and that is something that the president wanted to do an end a year of war -- a forever war. He wanted to make sure that we stop putting our young women and men in harms way, and that is a difficult decision to make. It is not an easy decision to make. But he's the president and commander in chief, and he wanted to make

sure that we got our armed troops out of harm's way. And so, I -- I honor and respect are back-and-forth, and it is always an honor and privilege for me to do this job and I will continue to do that again.

Michael? Okay.

REPORTER: I have two big boy questions.

First, does the president intend to spend most of his days in July on vacation in Rehoboth and Wilmington?

JEAN-PIERRE: We certainly will have more to share on what his schedule is going to look like for the rest of the month. I don't have anything to share at this time. I can assure you the president will be out and about talking directly to the American people. I just laid out the next couple of days.

I don't have anything to share beyond -- beyond -- won't actually beyond NATO, right? As you know, there's going to be a NATO summit next week. So I can't -- don't have anything to share beyond that.

But the president will be out there talking directly to the American people. I have to be mindful, obviously, we're in campaign season. The campaign can speak more to what his schedule is going what specifically.

REPORTER: And the second question we just posted a story which probably I'm not sure you've seen because we just posted it in the middle of briefing, but in which many people that we've talked to describe accelerating series of episodes, moments when over the course of the last several weeks, the president appeared confused or listless, or would lose the thread of a conversation in private meetings, and after G7, in Normandy, at the White House, not all the time, not -- not saying that that's the way he is all the time, and that there's clearly moments people say that he's forceful and with it and all of that.

But these people suggest that what happened, what Americans saw at the debate has a precursor. What do you say to that?

JEAN-PIERRE: So I want to be mindful in respect to your reporting. I have not read it. I have not seen it. So it's hard for me to respond to it directly.

But what I can speak to more broadly is that I have -- have engagement with the president pretty regularly. What I see is a strong, resolute president who is always willing and able to work on behalf of the American people. I do not know who these folks are that you speak of, so it's hard for me to talk about that and to and to speak to that. I can just speak to my experience and go back again on the president's record and what he's been able to deliver on behalf of the American people.

So I just do -- I do want to be mindful.

REPORTER: Can I make this one follow up?

JEAN-PIERRE: Sure. Sure.

REPORTER: You know, 50 million plus American saw the debate last Thursday. They get a very different story from you. You just described a very different sounding president. Obviously, other administration officials, and very differently than what people saw.

How do you reconcile those two versions of a president? One who appeared the way they did to millions of people, and the other who appears always to be sort of very forceful and not have any of those?

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, the president spoke to this. You heard me speak to this. We believe and others have said this, not just me, other folks who have been on networks and also, obviously, has talked -- spoken to all of you is it was a 90-minute debate. It was a bad night. That's what we believe it to be.

We're not taking away what people saw. We're just not. That is -- I want to be very clear about that and, you know, we want to also make sure people understand that the president realizes this.

You know, I keep saying this over and over again. He said he's not as young as used to be he has he has addressed this over and over and over again. But you saw him last night, right?


You saw him last night. You saw him at these at the rally, you saw him at the watch parties.

There's been many instances, State of the Union, you saw him take on -- take on Republicans by himself and what was happening back and forth in the State of the Union. There has been also many instances where are the president has really showed his strength and resolute that all of you have seen and commented about it, you know?

And so I think we cannot -- we cannot forget that as well. And we also heard from, you know, President Obama who himself has said, you know, his first debate wasn't great. He talked about that. And most incumbents, their first debates aren't great.

And so, look, we're going to continue to build on the unprecedented record by continued to fight for the American people. That is our commitment and that's what were going to continue to do. Thank you. Thanks, Mike.

Go ahead.

REPORTER: Thanks, Karine. I have two questions to follow up on that.

You talk about how you've spent time with the president. You know, when you're looking at the timing (INAUDIBLE), have you ever seen the president have a bad night, like we saw on debate stage, during your time here at the White House?


REPORTER: So, were you surprised by what you saw on the debate stage?

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, I know that he had a cold. Many of you are reaching out to us, to my team and myself directly. You heard the hoarse voice. We were able to confirm he had a cold. He was under the weather, obviously, and look, you know, we all have bad -- bad nights, right, or bad moments. It is not -- it is not unusual.

I just said there have been incumbents, most incumbents for their first debate, you know, it doesn't go well. So, it's not also unusual in that regard as well.

So, look, you know, we're going to move forward. That's what we want to do. We want to look forward. We just announced some engagement that the president is going to have.

We announced obviously the interview at ABC and George Stephanopoulos. He's going to go to Wisconsin. He's going to go to Pennsylvania. We're going to have a press conference next week.

We want to turn the page on this, and we want to turn the page for the American people as well, because we know that they need to see him out there. He's going to continue to be out there. He has been, and we understand how important that is.

And so we're going to turn the page. We're going to get out, get out there across the country. Americans are going to see him for themselves. And I think that's going to be very important as well.

REPORTER: And has the president had a chance to speak one-on-one with Vice President Harris since the debate?

JEAN-PIERRE: I can't speak to any conversations that they've had and so I just I'll just -- I'll just leave at that, I don't have any readout of a conversation between the two of them.

REPORTER: Thanks, Karine.

So, I've spoken to a lot of donors since the debate and they want to know what exactly happened that night. So just to follow up on MJ's question, I know you said he hadn't been any cold medication. Wasn't any other medication he had taken? That's what many of them are asking.

JEAN-PIERRE: No, I understand. I was asked about. I was asked about the cold medicine. I asked about the cold medicine. He was not taking any cold medicine and I don't have anything beyond that. I don't have anything beyond that to share.

And look, I've -- I've answered this question multiple times at this point. I don't have anything else to add beyond what I have shared with your colleagues here in the room.

We really truly want to turn the page on this. We really want to be able to get out there and, you know, speak directly to the American people. Speak directly to you all. The president will and I think that's important, too.

Look and not forget what this person has been able to do the last three-and-a-half years, how he's been able to deliver, and there is a stark contrast and what this president has done and what Republicans in Congress are doing, right? He's trying to protect our rights as president. He's trying to protect our freedom.

He's trying to protect really important programs that matter to the American people. He wants to protect women's rights, Roe v. Wade. He wants to continue to build an economy that works for all. That's what we're going to focus on. And that's what Americans are going to hear and can continue to hear from this president. Anything else I've -- I think I've litigated this a lot already in this briefing. I just don't have anything else to add.

Yeah, Andrew.

REPORTER: Thank you, Karine. Two questions.


REPORTER: You repeatedly refer to the president's outing after the debate, at the watch party. His remarks the next day in North Carolina. His appearances at fundraisers, his appearances this morning at the D.C. Emergency Operations Center. All those appearances were scripted events where he spoke from the tele --


REPORTER: Most, spoke from the teleprompter.

JEAN-PIERRE: I know, but you said all, not all. Let's just be --

REPORTER: Okay, correct me, I'm loose.

The scripted, spoken from a teleprompter.


How are Americans suppose to get the sense that the president is fully engaged and capable and thinking off the cuff, when he's reading from prepared remarks so often, and why can't he just come down here. The briefing room is 30 seconds away.


REPORTER: Why can't he come down here and assure us and the American people --


REPORTER: -- that he's okay and I have a fall (ph)?

JEAN-PIERRE: Okay. First of all, it wasn't all. It was -- it was, you know, when he was speaking in front of the audience, but it wasn't all. When you think about the tarmac, when you think about -- when you think about engaging in the waffle house, when you think about engaging at the watch party and doing a very long rope line and when he was at the tarmac, it was the middle of the night, literally, 2:00 at night.

We all wanted to go to bed, but the president was certainly very focused and zeroed in on the American people who were out there, wanting to -- cheering him on and wanting to see him and take selfies and get a hug from this president. That's what you saw.

I don't know if you miss this, but I also share that he has done more than 40 interviews this year alone. And we're going to continue that. He's going to do an interview with ABC, George Stephanopoulos, this week. Those were unscripted, those were unscripted.

He's done more than 500 gaggles. Those are unscripted and we want to continue to do that. We do. We want to continue to do that.

There's going to be a press conference next week, a NATO big boy press conferences Justin has reminded us next week.

And so that's going to be important as well.

REPORTER: And I have a follow up.


REPORTER: One of --one of my colleagues behind me shouted -- I still have more question I'm going to be asking you, but I think --

JEAN-PIERRE: You don't remember the question.

REPORTER: -- given what happened on Thursday, given the reporting in "The New York Times" and other outlets about the president's more frequent lapses, losing his train of thought, all of us saw what happened on Thursday where he simply could not form coherent answers to many or some, if you will, of the questions, and appear to lapse into nonsensical answers at the end, we beat Medicare, for instance.


REPORTER: I'm going to ask something delicate and you may not like it. The president may not like to hear if he's watching, but I think the American people need to get a yes or no answer on this. Does President Biden, at 81-years-old, have Alzheimer's, any form of dementia or degenerative illness that caused these sorts of lapses? It's a yes or no question. And if you don't know, why don't you as one of his senior staff members know that the answer.

JEAN-PIERRE: I have answers for you, are you ready for it?


JEAN-PIERRE: It's a no. And I hope you're asking the other guy the same exact question.

Okay? Go ahead, go ahead. REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE)


REPORTER: Does the president feel like members, Democratic congressmen should be able to speak their minds on this, or does he think, you know, calling for him to withdraw is hurting the party writ large?

JEAN-PIERRE: I mean, look, this is -- that's something about the Democratic Party that we really respect. It is a big tent party. Many people are going to have their opinions and we are going to have our disagreements. And that is what is important.

And we really respect other people's opinions and thoughts. I think that's what makes this party different than the other side. Certainly, we see that with how it's playing out in Congress or how it tends to play out in Congress.

So the congressman is going to have his opinion. He's going to have his thoughts. That's for him to speak to. We are not -- this is not a president that's about his personal politics, that is not this president is all about.

He doesn't care only about himself. That is not what this president is all about. And I also read, read out some supportive statements that we've heard from leaders of Congress.

Former Speaker Pelosi, I read out what she laid out. I read out what -- what Congressman Clyburn has said and I think that matters as well. And you all have heard from multiple supporters over the past couple of days since Thursday. And I think that's important as well.

REPORTER: Just to be clear, sorry, just to be clear that the president has not spoken to either Senator Schumer or Leader Jeffries?

JEAN-PIERRE: What I can say is that the president plans to speak to them this week. I don't have anything beyond --

REPORTER: It's been five days.


JEAN-PIERRE: No, I hear you. I hear you. I addressed this moments ago. The president was on the road for two-and-a-half days, did four states. His advisers, high level White House officials were talking to congressional members as some of you have reported over the past couple of days, I think that's important. They have regularly engaged, not just with congressional members, with governors, with mayors.


And so -- and then there's the campaign that does it on a political level, right? They've had regular calls. I think some of you we have reported on that as well. Now, this week, the president is going to take some time and talk to

those congressional members. And as you as I stated, also to Democratic governors tomorrow, okay?

REPORTER: You've mentioned that sometimes that candidates have a bad first debate. There's been a lot of discussion going around, and, of course, decision yet, but that maybe there isn't a second debate.

JEAN-PIERRE: So I want to be super careful. That's something for the campaign to respond to. But I do believe they did respond to this. And as I do believe they have responded to this they said that there's going to be another debate, but I -- that's something for them to speak to.

And I'll just quote, what President Obama stressed, right? Bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know. And then he praised President Biden's leadership and his agenda, fighting for the middle-class or freedoms in the room rule of law. And you heard the president speak to the rule of law just last night.

And so, certainly, that will continue. But you've heard from a former president about this -- this particular issue.

Go ahead, Michael.

REPORTER: Karine, Obama was 51 during that debate.

JEAN-PIERRE: I kind of knew you would say that, I knew you would say that. But if he's not the only one -- he's not it has happened in the past, first debates for incumbents, you know, sometime is not their best.

REPORTER: I know you said a couple of times that I want to turn the page.


REPORTER: The issue I think -- the core issue here is that you can't turn the page on age.


REPORTER: Aging declined is a one-way street. So --


REPORTER: -- at the end of the day, these are the questions you're getting now, what are the questions you're going to be getting in two years or three years?

JEAN-PIERRE: I have thoughts about -- thoughts about two or three years from now, but -- but look --

REPORTER: You or anyone say that you have confidence that he can be in this job at that time. JEAN-PIERRE: Look, here's -- here's what I would say to that. We are not turning the page on age. That's not what we're doing. We understand. We get that, right?

The president said, I am not a young man, he said that. We get that. We understand how the American people feel, what we want to continue to do is deliver for the American people. That's what -- that's what we want to see. That's what the president wants to do and that's the turning of page.

Let's continue on the successes, on the unprecedented that the successes that this president has had, and on issues that majority of Americans care about, health care, economy, those are things that they care about, democracy, freedom, fighting for the rights for women to make decisions on their bodies.

That's what the president wants to continue to -- that's the turning of the page, but we get it. Look, I -- look, I'm not taking away from that, and I don't want to do that. I do not want to walk off this podium and that's what you all think. We're not doing that, and the president doesn't want you all to do that.

But he can do the job. He can.


REPORTER: -- the question about can -- what gives you confidence about two years from now, or three years from now or five years?

JEAN-PIERRE: We believe -- we believe that this is a president that is able to continue to deliver and build on the unprecedented success that he's been able to do. That's what we believe. We believe and he believes it, and he is determined and committed to doing that.

REPORTER: I'm not sure anybody doubt that for that commitment. I think the question is, given the performance, I apologize --

JEAN-PIERRE: And Michael is like, no, no, you take --

REPORTER: And I think the question, you know, it's about, it's the way we look at our elderly parents and grandparents since, you know -- you know, you maybe visit them once a year and you see troubling signs because you don't live in the same city, perhaps. And the first question that you go to is, hmm, I wonder if other -- I wonder if this is like a onetime thing or if it's something that has been happening for, you know, a longer time that we need to deal with.

And the second question is --

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, you're getting -- you're going multiple times here.

REPORTER: -- where are we going to be in a year? Where are they going to be in two years?

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah. REPORTER: We need to put them in a whole -- like, you know, all the questions that go through that. And this is sort of the American people's version of that.

JEAN-PIERRE: I hear -- and I hear you and that's what I'm saying.

Look, this is why the president goes through, you know, medical examinations, right? And we release those medical examinations, right? We've done that the past couple of years. We're going to continue to do that.

This is why we're going to go out there and continue to be out there and do interviews and talk to the American people. And at the end of the day, I got to be careful, right, because we are in a campaign season.


But the American -- the American people will see for themselves, right? And I just want to be super, super careful.

But look, this is a president that has worked incredibly hard for the American people and not just as president, as vice president, as a senator. And he is committed and we cannot -- we cannot take away from the fact of his three-and-a-half years of leadership, what that has been able to do, what he's been able to get.

And that doesn't -- that doesn't come from, you know, that doesn't come easily. And he did it in historic fashion. He did it.

And the data proves that. And so, look, he's committed to getting -- continuing to make that progress, continuing to work, whether it's climate change, whether it's the economy, whether it's health care, that is what he is committed to doing.

And, look, he had a bad night. He did, and we are admitting that, owning up to that, you heard the president speak to that, and I think that's important for the American people to hear from us and from him as well.

I know I have to go ill be back tomorrow, but go ahead.

REPORTER: Karine, I just want to go back to Representative Doggett statement.


REPORTER: You know, part of his statement, he said that Biden staying in the race could kind of work against helping to save democracy. So I know you said it was a big tent party. People have their opinion, but how do you corral Democrats when there are members of the party who believe that about the president staying in the race and do you have a response to that specifically?

JEAN-PIERRE: Yeah, look, this is a president -- he jumped into this election. This I can talk about obviously in 2020 and I remind you all that he beat the other guy in 2020. He won in 2020. That's why he's president.

But he jumped in because of democracy, right? He jumped in because of what was happening, because he believed he needed to do everything that he can to protect our democracy and to -- and now protect our freedoms because of what happened with Roe v. Wade.

Obviously, that's not -- we don't agree with that. What we believe is that this is a president that has had -- that is going to continue to fight for democracy and that's going to continue to focus on making sure that we get Roe v. Wade into law, right, make sure that IVF is not taken away from families. Make sure that contraception is not taken away from families. Make sure that we fight for our voting rights, right?

There are so many things that we need to continue to fight for and at the end of the day, this is a president that has delivered, working closely with Congress and doing some of these things in a bipartisan way.

And I think the reason why that he's been able to get some of these legislation done, whether its the Chips and Science Act, Veterans Act, the bipartisan infrastructure legislation is because of who he is, and because of how he has that experience to work across the aisle, that doesn't happen with everybody in this president has been able to do that. So we're going to continue to do that work.

Guys, I'll see you tomorrow. All right. Thanks, everybody.

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Welcome to STATE OF THE RACE. I'm Jim Sciutto in Washington.

We've just been listening to live there what can only be described as a difficult press conference by the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre, answering growing questions about President Biden's mental sharpness and fitness. She called those questions legitimate questions, her words. She still described the night last Thursday and the debate as a bad night.

She went on to say that, yes, they acknowledged that the president does not walk as well as it used to, does not debate as well as he used to, but she insists he knows how to deliver for the American people. She went on to say later in the press conference that he is a little slower than he used to be before pausing and saying in walking and speaking.

I'm joined now by Mark Preston, our CNN political director.

Mark, you've covered a large number of administrations through the years. I won't count them for our viewers here. This is an extremely difficult time for the president, not just because of the questions from journalists, because of open questions from sitting Democratic lawmakers about whether the president should stay in this race.

And those, those -- those names are growing in number.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: They're growing in number. And let's just talk about what is happened just in the past couple of hours as Karine goes up there to answer the questions.

We see Jared Golden, a member of the House of Representatives, a Democrat from Maine. He has put an op-ed out in his local paper saying Donald Trump is going to win, but I'm okay with that. I knew it was going to happen all along.

He is facing a tough reelection with a Republican who is a former NASCAR driver. They think they can take back that seat.


So you have Jared Golden there. At the same time, you have this new CNN poll and we'll talk some numbers in a bit about that. That is -- I wouldn't say it's devastating, but it is on the road to being potentially devastating.

The key number for the CNN poll that you referenced there was that three-quarters of Americans say that Democrats would have a better chance of beating Donald Trump with another candidate. That's a remarkable finding.

PRESTON: It's remarkable finding and what's even more remarkable is that if you go back to January, it was about 72 percent. I believe it was. It has -- it has increased by 3 percent. Now, that doesn't seem like a lot, but we're talking about a poll that was put in the field right after the debate. A lot of people took time to try to understand it.

We're going into this week now where we had the administration on the defensive. I mean, when you are answering questions about whether or not you are -- whether your president, you know, has a stamina for the job, forget about what happens on the campaign. So you have them on the defensive right now.

And the fact is, this is probably -- I wouldn't say probably, this has got to be the worst week of Joe Biden's political career.

SCIUTTO: Well, you have the Supreme Court decisions as well.

And to your point about that movement, it's only a three-point move, 72 percent to 75 percent. But what strikes me about that is it shows that questions about Biden's -- I don't know fitness is the right word or just purely the question is he the best candidate for the Democrats this year have been around for some time. In other words, this is not entirely a new issue by any means. It's one that has gotten worse in the last week.

PRESTON: It's one has gotten worse than last week and I don't mean to downplay that the 3 percent movement. What I'm trying to say is that we've seen 3 percent up to the debate that it was moving in that direction, that 3 percent didn't just occur.

And at the same time, his approval rating is at 36 percent. That is an all-time low for Joe Biden. And if you look, go back to Jimmy Carter. The last four presidents, right, Republican or Democrat, that at this time were under 45 percent, they lost reelection. SCIUTTO: I mentioned before that there are Democrats that have gone

public with questions at least about whether President Biden stay in the race. Some of them saying outright representative, Lloyd Doggett, Democrat from Texas, called on Biden to step aside.

Jim Clyburn, long a backer of Biden, in fact, he is the man many give credit for bringing Biden to the fore in 2020, he didn't call for him to step out, he did call it a little legitimate question though to say that, well, if that were to happen, he'd be fine with Kamala Harris. Notable for him to say that.

Peter Welch, Democratic Vermont, he lambasted the Biden campaign for what he called a dismissive attitude, quoting political here.

Mike Quigley on CNN's air this morning, at least another Democrat from Illinois, at least left open the possibility.

Is there a precedent for members of the president's own party raising questions so publicly like this? I suppose the only precedent might be with Donald Trump.

PRESTON: Might be with Trump. Look, we're in unprecedented time. You know, you know, Jim, I go back to slightly towards the beginning of my career and I think of 9/11 and I'd say to myself, anything that happens after this day, I will never be surprised because everything is so predictable in Washington and we were always so conditioned to believe that the political parties have full control over their members. The voters all fell in line. And this is how simple and easy at all is.

That's not the case. It is -- it is a scrambled egg apart right now. It is a mess for Democrats.

SCIUTTO: Jake Tapper reporting that there's a meeting of Democratic governors to discuss this issue. Of course, Democratic governors are on at least the lists of people like you and me who discussed possibilities or who might -- who might replace Biden on the ticket. Any potential candidate like that who's a Democrat is not going to publicly say by any means, I'm doing this.

Should we assume they're saying it privately or at least exploring the possibility privately?

PRESTON: If they are, they're doing what you're doing with a very tight circle. We actually have numbers because there's been a lot of talk about who would -- who would be the best heir apparent.

And immediately after the debate, you heard a lot of talk about Gavin Newsom. There's a lot of talk about Pete Buttigieg. There was quite a bit of talk about Gretchen Whitmer, the governor of Michigan.


PRESTON: But there wasn't a whole lot to talk about Kamala Harris. But check out these numbers right here, Jim, because it shows that Kamala Harris in fact, right now, today would be the strongest Democratic candidate out of the four or five people that we polled, including Joe Biden.

SCIUTTO: Well, it's interesting counterpoint because some of the conventional wisdom again, which should be dismissed because it's so often the wrong in Washington is that she would not be the most viable candidate. But you look at a figure like that, as you were deciding there -- strong within two points as opposed to six points versus Joe Biden.

There was new reporting from "The New York Times" that actually broke in the midst of that White House press conference with the headline: Biden's lapses are increasingly common according to some of those in the room.

Joining me now is White House national security reporter for "The New York Times", David Sanger, whose name is on the byline of that story.

David, your "New York Times" colleague clearly was reading his phone during the press conference because he quoted your story to Karine Jean-Pierre.


Her response was she can only speak to her experience of him and she said that her experience of the president is that he has not declined in such a way.

What did your sources for this story tell you about the president's mental sharpness?

DAVID SANGER, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY AND POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, this is a story, Jim, that we have many reporters on. In fact, I think just about our entire White House team. And then people who had one into the president during his travels.

One of the reasons we went back to look at it is he has been through an extraordinarily busy month of June. He was in Europe twice. I'm in Berlin right now, but he had come to Europe gone back for about 60 hours, gone back to Europe for the G7, then flew from Italy to Los Angeles for a fundraiser and then back in at the end of that, he was pretty exhausted.

So one of the things we were trying to figure out is could the travel has been the explanation here? Of course, he had a week to rest up in- between. What we got was a sense from people who had spent time with the president and the past few months, that these lapses are more frequent. A little more worrisome, and that they happen a lot when he's tired or in big crowds and less so when he's in one-on-one conversations with people and, you know, sort of more directly engaged.

So you can draw from that what you will, I think there's something going on that has made these more common. But I also think he went through a pretty hellish month in the run-up and really it's interesting question why they didn't protect him from that. SCIUTTO: Let me ask you, David, though, when you and your colleagues

asked these sources for the story, were they describing a change from say, the last couple of weeks to several months ago, a couple of years ago, right? In other words, not just that this was something that followed a particularly busy schedule, but that they notice a change in his overall demeanor over time.

SANGER: It depends on who we spoke to, Jim. Those -- some staffers who worked with him -- work with him often said was, yes, we're seeing these kinds things happen more frequently. Once we asked the White House this question, they rounded up a good number of staffers who called all this and said, no, he's as sharp as he's ever been what you saw on the screen on Thursday night was not a Joe Biden that we recognize. They were divided on that.

Now, obviously, it's in the White House's interest to, you know, portray him as just having had a bad night and that's -- that's the issue. I thought it was interesting that in the press conference, you just heard the press secretary say, oh, obviously, he's older and as he himself has said, he's not as good a debater as he was.

I think the question is, does he wander off into these sort of mental circles more often than he did? And some said yes.

SCIUTTO: The White House has circulated a poll in the last 24 hours that showed no change since the debate in President Biden's support. Of course, there are always, are there, there's more than one pole, the CNN has a poll that showed some change in Americans view as to whether Biden is the strongest candidate to defeat Trump. TBS has some polling shown some slippage.

When you speak to White House officials, do they push back on those numbers? Do they say with confidence that they have their own data that shows well, no, in fact, there has been no slippage?

SANGER: They don't. It's a little bit too early. I mean, those poll numbers that you were showing with the first ones that we have seen, it wasn't as big or movement as I might have expected, given, you know, what a scene that was on on Thursday night.

But it's also possible that, you know, as the White House maintains, we live in our media bubbles, our East Coast bubbles, whatever bubble you think were supposed to be in, and that most Americans aren't as reactive to this as we might be. And maybe that's right.

I think its going to take a little while that figure that out, and I think what may also make a big difference is due as the Democratic leadership stick behind him and do the donors stick behind him?

SCIUTTO: I know the White House's story here because -- because we heard that from Karine Jean-Pierre just now, it was a bad night. Look at his record, et cetera.

But we know the White House takes this seriously as well because you and I remember not long ago, just a few weeks ago when the special counsel, Robert Hur, included in his report where it on his own investigation into Biden's handling of classified documents that in a completely different setting, right, in a deposition, that the president showed lapses in memory, et cetera.


And the White House came right out. In fact, President Biden went to a microphone and said, that's not true. Look at me now. All is fine.

We also know that one of the reasons they took this debate, particularly in an early one, is they wanted to push back against that impression.

So I wonder what's your reaction when you hear them say all has been fine, but listen, you know, we've -- we've seen you react to these things before. It seems that you're taking it quite seriously.

SANGER: So in the Hur report, they were basically saying a few months ago now, of course, he was wrong and they released the transcript of that. You can come to your own conclusions. They have not released the coordinate video, which, of course, Republicans want because they want to make ads out of it, and so forth.

The difficulty is that on Thursday night, we all saw what we all saw. And everybody walks away with their own impressions from it. But it's not something that you can basically try to redefine and I think they have smartly said, we're not going to try to tell you, you didn't see what you plainly saw.

I think their difficulty at this point is that their argument is this was a singular bad night after they had set up the conditions to be as beneficial to him as they could. There was no audience, wasn't a lot of noise, right? He was in a one-on-one. It was more set up like the old Kennedy-Nixon debates and that should have been the kind of environment in which he performed the best.

Now, maybe he just had a bad night or maybe they've got unlucky because he's having these more often than it was that evening.

SCIUTTO: Yeah. No question. And as you cite, it was following a particularly busy, busy time in his trial travel schedule from Europe to the West Coast and back.

David Sanger, appreciate you walking us through your reporting.

SANGER: Great to be with you.

SCIUTTO: Well, now to some breaking news seems to come every hour now. Donald Trump, we have learned, will no longer face sentencing and his criminal hush money trial next week. The judge in the case, Juan Merchan, who is overseeing seeing the case, has delayed sentencing until September 18th. As the former president's legal team is now seeking to challenge the criminal conviction itself.

That decision to challenge follows yesterdays landmark Supreme Court decision on presidential immunity, which seem to carve out evidence from privileged conversations from a president while fulfilling his duties that may -- may take away some of the evidence presented in that case.

CNN's Zachary Cohen joins me now. So from July to September, that's quite a lengthy delay.

Why -- why the length of -- the delay at what happens next year?

ZACHARY COHEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yeah. Jim, obviously, Judge Merchan officially postponing Trumps sentencing in the New York hush money case until mid-September. And that means that he will not face any concrete punishment. For those 34 felony counts in New York until after the Republican convention in Milwaukee, where he will officially accept the Republican nomination for president, which is a pretty remarkable win just a day after that Supreme Court ruling and prompted by that Supreme Court ruling. Trump's attorneys quickly filed a motion to try to get this entire -- this entire conviction set aside are based on those same immunity claims that the Supreme Court weighed in on yesterday.

And instead of a sentencing next week, we're going to see Trumps attorneys lay out their argument for why the conviction should be set aside. And like you said, they're going to try to get some of the evidence in this case thrown out that includes sources telling Paula Reid, our colleague, that includes testimony for people like Hope Hicks, which you remember was so pivotal in that trial in New York.

Also, some of the texts are -- some of the tweets that Donald Trump sent and that were introduced into evidence, those are also potentially what Donald Trump's legal team is going to try to get thrown out of this case.

So it remains to be seen. The D.A.'s office will have about two weeks after Trump's team files their motion to respond, and then again, the judge will make his determination on September 6 and then impose that sentence on September 18th.

But there's an interesting quote. He says, it will impose a sentence, quote, if such as still necessary. So potentially open this can of worms up again will and could the conviction set aside.

SCIUTTO: If such still necessary, quite a note from the judge in the case here. And let's be frank, it's responding specifically to verbiage from the chief justice and that immunity decision regarding, as you say there, evidence, testimony that might fall under executive duties -- clear impact immediately from that Supreme Court decision yesterday.

Zachary Cohen, thanks so much.

Thanks so much to all of you for joining me today on STATE OF THE RACE.

Lots of news on the race today. There'll certainly be more tomorrow, I expect.

I'm Jim Sciutto on Washington. Thanks so much.