Return to Transcripts main page

The Situation Room

Biden Mock Debates Under Way Two Days Before CNN Debate; Trump Allies Seeking To Shape Debate Expectations For Biden; Judge In Hush Money Case Partially Lifts Trump Gag Order; Teaching Kids To "Stop The Bleed" Amid Gun Violence Epidemic; Voters Hear Final Pitches Ahead Of Iran's Presidential Election. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 25, 2024 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, President Biden holds mock debates over at Camp David two days before his face-off with Donald Trump right here on CNN. We're told his practice sessions are focused on substance and on stamina.


Also tonight, a Trump campaign surrogate says the former president will be on offense at the CNN debate. Trump advisers seeking to shape expectations for their candidate and for President Biden.

Plus the judge has partially lifted Trump's gag order as he awaits sentencing for his criminal conviction in New York. We're getting new reaction from key players in the case.

Welcome to our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in The Situation Room.

A little over 48 hours from now, President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump will step on the CNN debate stage in Atlanta and get a rare opportunity to move the needle in a race that's been very close for months.

Our political team is gearing up for the historic showdown as well Digging for new details on the candidate's strategies. Kayla Tausche is over at the White House for us. Kristen Holmes is near Mar-a-Lago down in Florida. David Chalian is already in Atlanta getting ready for this debate.

Kristen, let me start with you. What are you hearing, first of all, from the Trump campaign about what they're expecting from President Biden Thursday night?

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, we just got off the phone with Senior Vice President Trump, who are really expectation setting. After months of calling Biden incompetent, Trump making fun of Biden on a regular basis, saying he can't string two sentences together, they are now singing a very different tune. They say they know that Biden can show up. They are expecting him to show up. They say that he has been at a week of debate prep, and they are preparing for him to be on his A game. This again is very different from what we have heard. Now, obviously Biden and Trump have had a very different kind of debate preparation. In fact, his advisers won't even use the word preparation when it comes to talking to Trump about what they do ahead of the debate. Now, interestingly, Trump himself has said that it's been difficult to prepare for the debate, they are quoting several interviews that Trump has done, as well as the fact that he has taken questions at various events. But I will remind you, at these events, and as well as those interviews, these questions have all come from supporters as well as friendly interviewers.

However, they say that Donald Trump is ready and will be focused on three main topics, that being inflation and the economy, immigration, as well as crime rates. They believe that Donald Trump polls better than Biden, according to recent polling they have seen, in these topics, and they have urged him to stay on message, to focus on this, even when it comes to other questions, to pivot away from topics like abortion, as well as democracy, and to go back to those three key issues, which they believe are core to voters.

BLITZER: Let me get bring in Kayla Tausche into this. Kayla, CNN has learned that President Biden and his advisers, who are all hunkered down at the presidential mountaintop retreat at Camp David, have started formal mock debate sessions. What do we know about that?

KAYLA TAUSCHE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, four days into debate prep, President Biden and his advisers have begun those mock debates. I'm told they're of varying length. His advisers shape and craft this preparation toward both substance in the president's arguments, as well as stamina for the 90-minute event.

Now, there are advisers that are expected to be standing in for CNN's Jake Tapper and Dana Bash, as well as for Donald Trump. We previously reported that the president's personal attorney, Bob Bauer, is likely to play that stand-in role. And here's how he described his approach to the role the last cycle in 2020.


BOB BAUER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: Whenever you do this, you want to strike a balance between trying to approximate the experience, but it's not an opportunity for theatrics. That's a distraction. So, you want to find some balance between recreating the experience and not attempting to, if you will, audition for Saturday Night Live.


TAUSCHE: The debate on Thursday will be 90 minutes long, beginning at 9:00 P.M., which is the same start time as the president's State of the Union Address, which is seen by some as a sort of corollary for the preparation. I'm told by one source that the working days at Camp David are long. They break for three meals a day in a group style setting. And many senior staff sleep in cabins overnight with other staff and advisers commuting locally as they try to leave no stone unturned to, in the words of one adviser, Wolf, expect the unexpected.

BLITZER: Yes good advice, indeed. And, David Chalian, you're our political director. What are these very different approaches to preparing for this critical CNN debate tell you about the candidates?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: It tells me a lot just about who they are as people, how they approach moments like this, but it also tells me that their campaigns are setting up the stage a prep here for each of them that they think will succeed best for them. I mean, if Donald Trump is not going to succeed at doing a mock debate and having side by side candidates and having people play Biden necessarily, why would you put your candidate in that position?


You want to make sure your candidate is, is preparing for the debate as they are going to communicate on the stage. And so the fact that they have totally different approaches I probably would imagine doesn't surprise many Americans. I think we can see day in and day out as they present themselves to the country that they kind of have different approaches about how they go out there and communicate their message.

What is the same for them, Wolf, are the enormous high stakes in this debate. They both have a lot of opportunity here, but also great risk on this stage. This is a debate earlier than ever before, and this is an opportunity for them to really focus in their message on those persuadable voters, many of whom have been disengaged, get them engaged and start making an argument that those voters are hearing from them.

BLITZER: Kristen, in a new interview with the Washington Examiner, Trump seemed to agree with the idea that he was too aggressive in his first debate with Biden, and I'm quoting now, a lot of people thought in the first debate with Biden that you were somewhat overramped, that you just went after him too much, that I interrupted him, said Trump, yes, I think do you agree with that? Hmm, huh Trump answered.

Given that what is your sense of how Trump will behave Thursday night?

HOLMES: Wolf, I don't think anyone can ever guess how Donald Trump is going to behave. There are so many factors that go into how he acts. But I can tell you from hearing from a number of people close to him, which is they actually believe the format, which they have relentlessly complained about might help Donald Trump in the long run. One of the things that they had complained about was the fact that there was no audience, because Donald Trump gains energy from an audience. Now, I have heard from advisers that they are hoping this actually helps Donald Trump,Ttat maybe gaining energy and going on those rants that he believes make his base excited or something that they don't want him to do, that instead this will keep him on message.

The other thing that was pointed out to me was this idea of muting the mics that, as you saw there, Donald Trump himself, and he has said this privately as well, that he was a little bit too aggressive, almost badgering, according to some of his allies, this idea that the mics are going to be cut off, while they complained about it. Now, there are several advisers and allies who say, maybe this is a good idea. If you can't hear Donald Trump badgering or going after Biden relentlessly. Again, just to stress this, they want him to focus on three things, all of this contrasting to President Biden's current administration. They want him to focus on the economy, particularly inflation, crime and immigration, Wolf.

BLITZER: Kayla, as you know, outside advisers have urged Biden to go directly after Trump rather than spend time trying to defend his own policy record. How is the Biden team looking at that?

TAUSCHE: Well, certainly, it's long been the president's inclination as a lifelong politician to take credit where it is due and to try to take victory laps on things that his administration has accomplished. But I've told that many influential Democrats within the party have been urging the Biden camp to move away from that. They don't think that it serves the president and they don't think that it's been moving voters. Polls have persistently shown that the economy and inflation are among their top issues and that they side with the Donald Trump on those issues by a varying margin. And so they want him to move away from that.

And the Biden campaign, in ads that have come out in recent weeks, appears to be doing that. And an ad that was released today, the message was very sharp and very clear that Donald Trump is out for himself, and Joe Biden, the ad says, is for families.

BLITZER: David, it's been, what, four years since either Biden or Trump, for that matter, has taken to the debate stage, which is something that has traditionally tripped up some sitting presidents. What do you make of that?

CHALIAN: Yes, this is so interesting. I mean, we've seen many examples. Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, when he was running for reelection in 2012, we saw this with George W. Bush in 2004. Incumbent presidents tend to sort of be in a bubble for four years. And they're not necessarily out on the campaign trail, they don't have primary season debates, and they show up on that debate stage as this bubbled up president and a little bit off their fastball on dealing with a confronting candidate across the stage from them.

What is different here, though, yes, that may all be true for incumbent Joe Biden, but Donald Trump didn't debate in the primary season. He wasn't out there campaigning every day during the primary season. He too lives in a bit of a bubble of being a former president. And so I'm not sure that that traditional advantage that the challenger has to the incumbent is fully on display here this time around, Wolf.

BLITZER: Well, see Thursday night. To all of you, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, more on the intense preparations for a presidential debate with someone who's been in the room, the former Republican senator, Rob Portman, is standing by live.

Plus, news being reported first here on CNN, President Biden taking action to pardon thousands of U.S. veterans convicted by a now defunct military law.



BLITZER: The Trump-Biden showdown on CNN promises to be unlike any other presidential debate, even though the candidates have faced off before. CNN's Brian Todd is taking a closer look at all of this. Brian, a lot has certainly changed in four years.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, it's as if we're in a completely different universe from where we were when these two men debated in 2020. Americans were dealing with multiple crises then and were looking for a leader to steer them out of them. By this Thursday, the political, economic, and personal dynamics will be very different.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: How are you doing, man?

TODD (voice over): The pressure on each man to perform Thursday is evident. But it's the profound changes in America's political climate from 2020, which could be a deciding factor in the Trump Biden debate.


JOSH DAWSEY, POLITICAL INVESTIGATIONS REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: 2020, Biden successfully and effectively made the election a referendum on Trump's leadership. This time, he's trying to make it a referendum on Trump again. Do you really want this guy back in office? And Trump is trying to make it a referendum on Biden's record.

TODD: Two seismic events since the 2020 debates, the January 6th insurrection, which Donald Trump is accused of inciting, and which he denies. And Trump is now a convicted felon, found guilty of falsifying business records in his hush money trial, something President Biden might be under pressure to highlight more at the debate.

AMY WALTER, PUBLISHER AND EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, COOK POLITICAL REPORTER: Thus far, the issue of his felony conviction doesn't seem to have moved any further voters in one direction or the other.

TODD: In 2020, analysts say American voters were looking for a leader who could manage them out of crises, including one the likes of which they'd never seen before.

WALTER: We're in the middle of COVID, and that was the centerpiece of the conversation in 2020.

TODD: Also in 2020, the Black Lives Matter protests were raging across the country following the murder of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer. Unemployment in America surged at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, a dynamic that has completely turned around as we head into this debate.

But analysts say President Biden could be hounded by another economic factor that's different from 2020.

WALTER: The issue that is really plaguing him and is frustrating voters overall is the cost of stuff. Inflation has been a factor.

TODD: Another enormous, political and social sea change from 2020 stems from an event that occurred in late June of 2022.

DAWSEY: Roe v. Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court by judges that former President Trump largely picked. It was a key promise of his. And that's proven to be an unpopular decision, according to polling on both sides, and it's hurt Republicans in a lot of different elections.

TODD: And an evolutionary change from 2020, the steady drumbeat of voters' concerns over the candidate's ages. Joe Biden, at 81, is the oldest president in American history. If Trump wins, he'll be the oldest president ever at a swearing in at age 78. Both men facing escalating criticisms for memory lapses, mistaken identity references, and other worrisome signs.

DAWSEY: Both sides are trying to exploit that. And both sides also know, particularly on the Biden side, I feel like they understand that it's a key vulnerability that they're having to deal with.


TODD (on camera): The analysts we spoke to point out another significant difference between the debate and this debate and the ones in 2020. This Thursday's debate is the earliest one in the calendar year in the history of televised presidential debates, which will likely prompt the voting public to pay attention to the candidates, the issues, and their differences for a longer period of time. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brian Todd reporting for us, thank you, Brian, very much.

Joining us now, the former U.S. Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican, who has played a very active role in debate preparations for GOP presidential candidates, including George W. Bush, John McCain and Mitt Romney. Senator Portman, thanks so much for joining us.

Given your experience in helping these other presidential candidates prepare for debates, what's your recommendation to the two current candidates?

FMR. SEN. ROB PORTMAN (R-OH): Stick to the issues and be on offense. You know, whoever has the best command of the issues and has a message to get out, keep it succinct. And who sticks to that and talks about the positive aspects of what they want to do I think wins. In this case, I think if you're Donald Trump, you talk about immigration, we talked about this earlier inflation, crime, and be sure that whatever the question is, you know, you're sort of coming back to those issues.

And then a general theme of this is a change election, people want change. And one thing I disagree with is that early analysis, I think the last election was a change election too in a different context. But this time I think that's an advantage for him. BLITZER: You know, it's interesting because President Biden, in his preparation, has been going through these mock debates. They're all, as I said, hunkered down at Camp David, rehearsing and practicing. Somebody plays Trump and then they get into it and all of that, but, but Trump is not doing that. What is a better strategy based on your own personal experience helping Republican presidential candidates prepare for debates?

PORTMAN: I think there's nothing like a live rehearsal where you've got to go through 90 minutes of having someone attack you and, and respond to it. One thing you get out of a debate prep session at, Wolf, is, is learning what the attacks are from the other side. It's amazing how few campaigns or senior advisers even know what the other side is saying until you get into debate prep format.

And it's not that you should respond to all those attacks. In fact, that would be too defensive. You want to be, again, on offense, talking about your issues. But it's important not to be surprised.

BLITZER: You know, it's interesting, this debate will not have a live studio audience and the mics will only be on for the individual who has been asked the question and has to answer. The other mic will be muted. What do you make of that? How is that going to impact these two candidates?

PORTMAN: I think former President Trump likes to have an audience.


He sort of feeds off the audience. So, you know, that might be negative for him. On the other hand, maybe he wants to be calmer, so maybe that's better.

In terms of the mics, I think it's interesting. I think it makes it easier for the moderators, obviously. It doesn't mean that people can't continue to speak. So, if either candidate gets frustrated and continues to speak after the mic goes off, the other candidate will hear it. So, you might get under the skin of the other candidate a little bit, even though the studio audience or the viewers are not going to hear it.

BLITZER: I thought it was interesting that Trump, as I mentioned, he's foregoing these formal mock debate preparations, these rehearsals, if you will. He told the Washington Examiner this about his decision. It's very hard to prepare. You've got to know this stuff from years of doing it. I think debating is an attitude more than anything else. Is it a mistake, you think, that he's not holding these rehearsals, these mock debates?

PORTMAN: Well, we'll see. I wouldn't be surprised if he's sneaking in a few sort of mock debates. He has people working with him, I'm told. On the other hand, you know, you can be overprepared. And one thing I think about the Camp David experience with President Biden recently is that he's got a lot of advisers out there, apparently. You guys have reported on that. And, you know, they are jamming in a lot of information in a short period of time. I remember during 1980 when they finally let Reagan be Reagan, and he did much better in the debate, where he wasn't so full of information and details. So, I think you can also be overprepared. You got to go in relaxed and confident.

BLITZER: I think it's interesting that Trump has a major issue. He's got to reach out to skeptical Republicans who are out there in key battleground states, maybe even Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Michigan. What does he need to do to reach out to them?

PORTMAN: Well, it is interesting because although we're talking a lot about the debates and appealing to the American people, it really is a relatively small number of voters. It's undecided or persuadable voters in about a half dozen states. I don't think Ohio is one of them, by the way. I think President Trump will win Ohio, but you're right. I mean, it's Michigan, it's Pennsylvania, it's states in the Midwest and the south where, you know, they have to appeal to those voters.

And most of voters are probably independents at this point. I think, you know, people have kind of just decided which side they're on for the most part. And it's really important again to stick to these issues and not to make it personal attacks, not to look back in the case of former President Trump to 2020, but rather to look forward, talk about what he's going to do with regard to again, immigration, crime, inflation, and same with President Biden to talk about, you know, how he's going to address those same issues and other issues.

BLITZER: That advice from former Senator Rob Portman, thanks very much.

PORTMAN: Thanks, Wolf. Good to be on with you.

BLITZER: We'll have you back soon. Thank you very, very much.

And coming up, the judge in Donald Trump's hush money trial lifting parts of the gag order just ahead of sentencing.

Plus, an update on a key hearing as the former president tries again to get the classified documents case dismissed.



BLITZER: Tonight, Donald Trump's gag order in the hush money criminal case has been partially lifted a little over two weeks before his sentencing date.

CNN's Brynn Gingras is working the story for us. Important developments, Brynn. What changes now?

BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. Let's talk about the dos and the don'ts when it comes to Trump. But what he is allowed now to do is talk about the witnesses, those who testified in his criminal trial just a few weeks ago. And that is a little bit of leeway given to the former president. If you remember when this gag order was put in place during the trial and even before that in April, his camp said that it was stifling, it was unconstitutional, it wasn't allowing him to campaign, and he wasn't able to respond to attacks from witnesses, particularly witnesses like Michael Cohen. So, again, this gives him just a little bit more leeway, particularly heading into the debate in just a couple of days.

What it doesn't allow him to do is to talk about the prosecutors in this case, the court staff members, any of their family members or the jurors. The judge, Juan Merchan, in this case saying, listen, while the trial is over, there is still proceedings that have to happen, pointing to July 11th. Of course, that is the former president's sentencing day and he says that he wants to make sure those players are still safe, saying they need to be free from any threats, intimidation, harassment and harm that they might feel if the former president were to speak out about them.

So, there are some, you know, a little bit of aback here. Not enough though for the Trump camp. They said that they are going to contest this, continuing to call it unconstitutional. Wolf?

BLITZER: Brynn Gingras with the latest, Brynn, thank you very much.

Now to the Trump classified documents case and new arguments before Judge Aileen Cannon. We're joined by CNN's Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent, Paula Reed and CNN's Senior Law Enforcement Analyst Andrew McCabe.

Paula, what exactly were Trump's lawyers arguing today, and was Judge Cannon receptive?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: She seemed skeptical of their argument, which is that either the entire classified documents case should be thrown out or a large portion of the evidence in the case should be tossed, because the search warrant that was executed on Mar-a-Lago back in 2022 was not specific enough. She's just not buying this argument. She said, quote, I have a hard time seeing what more needed to be included.

Now, in order to invalidate the search warrant, they would need to show that they lacked probable cause or that they went beyond the contours of the search warrant. It does not appear here what they have alleged gets anywhere near that. It's said they're making these broad accusations about a lack of specificity.

Now, this was the third day of hearings down in Florida related to this case where Trump lawyers, they're throwing everything at the wall to see if anything will stick. Today, though, was mostly focused on trying to get key evidence for the special counsel tossed out.


Not only were they focused on the search warrant, but also on transcripts of voice memos from Trump's former lawyer, Evan Corcoran.

Now, it's unclear if they're going to be successful on any of these efforts but I'll remind people they have been successful in their biggest goal, which is to prevent this case from going to trial before November.

BLITZER: They're trying to delay as much as they possibly can. Andrew McCabe, you're the former deputy director of the FBI. Do you see Judge Cannon limiting some of the evidence that prosecutors can use from Trump's former lawyer, Evan Corcoran?

ANDREW MCCABE, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I really don't. I don't, Wolf. And the reason is -- well, two reasons. First, with respect to the evidence under the search warrant, the challenge to the search warrant, let's remember that that search warrant was signed by a magistrate judge who works in her courthouse closely with her. So, to throw the search warrant out would have been a pretty bold move kind of against her own colleagues. So, that was probably unlikely to happen. The warrant is clearly very specific. It's very tailored to where those items could be. So, I don't think any of the evidence will be thrown out on that challenge.

With respect to Defendant Trump's additional challenges of spoliation of evidence, attacking the evidence, because -- alleging that it was mixed up in the boxes in its original order, was not maintained, I think all those claims are likely to fall short. And let's remember that he has the opportunity to challenge each and every piece of evidence in the trial if this case ever goes into court. So, I think that that's probably where the judge will end up.

BLITZER: I thought it was interesting, Paula, and I'm sure you did as well, that the special counsel's team also released today some never before seen photos that were lying around at Mar-a-Lago, highly classified documents, what was the purpose of that?

REID: So, this was a response to an argument by the Trump defense team that because the order of some of the classified materials in those boxes, we've seen some of the photos, but they showed new photos, because the order was disrupted, that that undermines their ability to defend their client. For example, if a classified document was separated from a news article in the process of obtaining these during that search, they're arguing that this is unfair to their client.

But the special counsel shot back, not only sharing some of these photos to remind people that when they found these documents, some of them were already splayed out on the floor, but they also wrote this in their response. Trump personally chose to keep documents containing some of the nation's most highly guarded secrets in cardboard boxes, along with a collection of other personally chosen keepsakes, newspapers, thank you notes, Christmas ornaments, magazines, clothing, and photographs of himself and others. They called this whole argument just another unfounded attack on law enforcement officials doing their jobs.

BLITZER: Some of these documents, as you know, Andrew McCabe, were not only top secret, but even beyond top secret, SCI secure, sensitive compartmented information, which if released, could cause enormous harm to U.S. national security. MCCABE: Exceptionally grave harm to U.S. national security. That is the standard for top secret documents. And some of these went beyond that. As you've indicated, they were from specially compartmented programs. You're talking about people's lives potentially hanging in the balance, the ability for the United States government to be able to maintain that sort of collection capacity, information collection capacity. And they were stored on the floor, in the bathroom, on the storeroom with T-shirts and souvenirs and gifts. It is just the height of irresponsibility from someone who clearly should have known.

BLITZER: Near curtains of Diet Coke, if you look at those pictures. Pretty amazing stuff. Andrew McCabe, thank you very much. Paula Reid, thanks to you as well.

Just ahead, a major blow to the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu today with a court ruling that could lead to the collapse of his increasingly fragile government.



BLITZER: President Biden is expected to pardon roughly 2,000 U.S. military veterans. CNN is first to report this major development.

Let's get right to CNN's Natasha Bertrand. She's over at the Pentagon for us. Natasha, what more do we know about these pardons?

NATASHA BERTRAND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY REPORTER: Yes, Wolf. So, we're learning that President Biden is expected to pardon upwards of 2,000 veterans who were convicted under this former law, under the Uniform Code of Military Justice that was enacted in 1951 that essentially criminalizes sodomy, including between consenting adults. And according to officials that we spoke to, this is going to be a game changer in terms of how these veterans are able to access their benefits retroactively because many of these individuals, if they were convicted under this law, which was repealed, we should say, in 2013, then that would have affected their ability to get benefits from the V.A.

And so what we're learning is that the president is expected to announce this tomorrow. And it is important because it is not going to be an automatic pardon for these individuals. Rather they will then have to apply to get a certificate of this pardon, which they will then have to go through the process of getting their discharge status changed with the Pentagon. So, it's not automatic. It remains to be seen just how the U.S. military is going to conduct outreach for all of these veterans who over a 60-year period were convicted under this law.

But still it is an important step towards, according to officials, kind of rectifying these historical injustices that were committed under the military's Uniform Code of Military Justice. And we are expecting to hear more from the president on this tomorrow, but it's likely to be a very welcome development for the many, many veterans who were impacted by this law. BLITZER: Yes, I think potentially a very significant development indeed. Natasha Bertrand at the Pentagon for us, thanks very much for your excellent reporting.


Also tonight, a globally recognized measure of hunger just released a new report showing Gaza's population is at a, quote, high risk of famine. CNN's Paula Hancocks reports on the suffering in Gaza. We must warn our viewers, the images you are about to see are disturbing.


PAULA HANCOCKS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Amal, meaning hope, was born two months premature. She died after just four days, her family says, a baby born into war in Northern Gaza. It's a result of her early birth, the head of pediatrics says, which is a result of malnutrition and starvation of her mother. This is the fourth child that's died in this department this week.

Amal's father says they were displaced with no shelter, food or water, a real starvation, he says. My girl died because of this.

Hospitals across Gaza are full of malnutrition cases, doctors say, needing special care that simply does not exist. Younis is nine years old. His mother takes off his t shirt to show the painful evidence of malnutrition and extreme dehydration. She says he was healthy until they were displaced multiple times from Northern Gaza to Rafah to a beach area where she says they don't even have a tent.

Food was no longer available, his mother says. There were bad living conditions and polluted water. I'm losing my son in front of my eyes.

More than 50,000 children require treatment for acute malnutrition, according to the U.N. agency for Palestinian refugees, UNRWA. Eight months of war have decimated the health system, water sanitation and food distribution. Clean water has become a luxury many struggle to access. The IDF says there is enough aid in Gaza, but distribution is the problem.

JAMES ELDER, UNICEF: It's not just about getting it in, and there's far too little coming in. That's why we have an unprecedented nutrition crisis for the youngest children in Gaza. It's not a safe place and enabling way to deliver that aid.

HANCOCKS: Aid groups say lawlessness on the ground is making their job of delivering aid to those who need it increasingly dangerous.

Dr. Sherif Mattar says he's seen around 120 children on this one day at the Al Aqsa Martyrs Hospital. He estimates up to 20 percent of them were suffering from malnutrition. Diarrhea, inflammation, infections are prevalent, he says caused by lack of sanitation or clean water.

This boy's one-and-a-half, he says. He weighs less than six kilograms. There's no subcutaneous fat. His body is effectively eating itself.

The United Nations has already warned 1 million Palestinians will be at risk of starvation and death by mid-July. That is just weeks away.

As with everything in this war, it is the young who bear the brunt.


HANCOCKS (on camera): Now, the IPC report out today does say that 96 percent of the population, that's practically the whole of the Gaza Strip, is at risk of famine over the next three months if the conflict continues and if access to humanitarian aid is still restricted. Wolf?

BLITZER: And, Paula, as all of this is going on, Israel's Supreme Court, issued a ruling today that could have a major political impact for Prime Minister Netanyahu. Tell us about that.

HANCOCKS: So, this was a unanimous ruling by the Supreme Court that said that the ultra orthodox, the Haredi, should be able to be enlisted in the country's mandatory military service. They have been exempted from this conscription really since the foundation of Israel, so since 1948. Now, we know that the Haredi are planning to carry out some protests and it's not good news for the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, because he has two ultra orthodox parties within his ruling coalition. And if they now pull out, that could put his future in jeopardy.

Recent polls, though, do suggest the majority of Israelis polled do support the exemption for the Haredi Jews to be part of this mandatory military service to be lifted. And they do support that everybody should have to be part of this conscription. Wolf?

BLITZER: A very significant Supreme Court decision in Israel. CNN's Paula Hancock's reporting for us, thank you very much.

Coming up, an emotional look at how gun violence is forcing healthcare professionals to teach young children how to save lives, including their own.


DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Kindergarten just seems so young to think about putting, you know, pressure on a wound, trying to stop the bleeding. But they seem to understand what you're saying?




BLITZER: Tonight, an urgent new warning from the U.S. surgeon general. He's declaring that gun violence is a public health crisis in this country. And some schools are responding in a whole new way as CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports.


ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: The gunman shot 26 people, most them six and seven-year-olds.

UNIDENTIFIED BOY: We're evacuating people. We're evacuating people.

KATE CARLETON, REGISTERED NURSE, SUTTER ROSEVILLE MEDICAL CENTER: Sandy Hook, I think it was an anniversary but and I saw something that came across. My heart broke for those families and I just thought about what when my kids do if they were in a situation like that, like, what were my husband do if he was in a situation like that? Like how can we help them?

GUPTA (voice-over): Kate Carleton has seen the very worst of humanity as a trauma nurse at Sutter Roseville Medical Center just outside of Sacramento.

After Sandy Hook, the young mom took on a new mission to empower kids, really young kids to do something during the unthinkable.

CARLETON: Hi, guys.

GUPTA: Which is why we find ourselves in this classroom with these adorable third graders who are about to get a lesson in a way that I've never seen before.


They're going to learn how to stop the bleed.

CARLETON: I want you to think about that. You guys have the knowledge and the power to save somebody's life by knowing this. You could save somebody's life. How does that make you feel?


CARLETON: I love that word.

GUPTA: Kate is now part of a grassroots movement among trauma specialists backed by the American college of surgeons and the American Red Cross to teach these skills to young children.

The likelihood of a child dying in a school shooting maybe rare, but a child dying from a firearm is not. In 2021, guns were the leading cause of death for young people under 18 in the United States, making up 19 percent of all children's deaths.

Stop the bleed training was born in the aftermath of Sandy Hook when a panel of trauma specialists from around the country determined that turning bystanders into immediate responders could very well save lives.

What is staggering, though, is that for the past six years, Kate has been teaching kids as young as kindergarten how to pack a wound and stop bleeding.

CARLETON: So if you see somebody who's hurt and there's a puddle of blood next to them, that's one of the things you're going to look for. So everybody say, puddle. KIDS: Puddle.


GUPTA: Kindergarteners, just seem so young to think about putting, you know, pressure on a wound, trying to stop the bleeding. But they seem to understand what you're saying.

CARLETON: As long as we presented in a way to them that is non- threatening, it's not scary. They roll with the information very well.

We're going to take what we have and were going to pack it inside.

GUPTA: For the younger students, she emphasizes packing the wound deeply.

CARLETON: Next thing we're going to do is we're going to have to hold pressure.

GUPTA: Keeping in mind that with injuries like gunshot wounds, the bleeding often happens deep, so superficial pressure alone won't be enough.

CARLETON: So I'm just going to have you guys put your knee on. It'll make a little bit easier for you. You won't get tired. Good? Okay.

GUPTA: So do you feel like you good now, that you had to actually do that?

JEREMY, THIRD GRADE STUDENT: Yeah. I think I would be like ready to help anyone.

GUPTA: What's the best part of that for you?

JEREMY: Like the feeling that you save someone's life.

CARLETON: High and tight.

GUPTA: So, those that are older, like the sixth graders, including Kate's own daughter, she also teaches them to use tourniquets.

CARLETON: I'm going to twist this until the bleeding stops.

GUPTA: None of this is easy, empowering, yes, but sad that the training has become increasingly necessary.

The question about gun violence came up today in the sixth grade class. What goes through your mind when you know that topic has now been broached?

CARLETON: What I tried to do is acknowledge it because it's real, but I'm very aware and cognizant of not spending my time on the gun violence part, but it also tugs at my heartstrings a little bit, for sure with the kids that that's even on their mind.

GUPTA: In a world where we already teach our kids to run, hide, and fight during active shooter drills, teaching elementary students how to control bleeding, maybe come as useful as stop, drop, and roll.

I was watching you today and it was emotional for me even as a trauma surgeon to think that you're teaching kids to do things that, I don't know, I just feel like sad that kids would have to learn that.

CARLETON: If we can teach it like teaching hands-only CPR, or how to use an AED, like it just becomes part of what we do. It can be used in all situations, whether it's a violent situation or it's not. But either way, it's saving somebody's life.

Stand up nice and tall and what do you do? Pat yourselves on the back.

GUPTA: Dr. Sanjay Gupta CNN, Rockland, California.

CARLETON: All right. You guys saved their life.


BLITZER: And we'll be right.



BLITZER: Voters in Iran are hearing final pitches from presidential candidates.

Here's CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Tehran.


FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Just over a month after Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian were killed in a helicopter crash, Iranians are gearing up to elect a new head of government, even celebrating the important religious holiday Eid a-Ghadir, people here are constantly reminded the vote is imminent. Iran's supreme leader urging people to go to the polls.

Every time there's low turnout in elections, the enemies of the Islamic Republic and the envious denounce the Islamic Republic, he said.

With the Middle East in turmoil and Iran recently close to an all-out war against Israel, people here have many issues on their minds.

We will defend Gaza and Palestine through massive turnout in the election, this woman says, all people will take part in the election, and we will prove that the Islamic Republic of Iran has a word to say in the world.

We should all take part in this election, this man says, to have a good choice, so the country will come out of this difficult situation.

I will not vote, this woman says, I want the country to be strong, but I have not seen much action on their part. There are six candidates remaining in this presidential race and their posters are plastered all across cities and towns around Iran. People are also handing out leaflets like this one.

Most of the candidates that are still in the race are conservatives, but there is also still one moderate up for the vote.

Masoud Pezeshkian is a former health minister and heart surgeon by training. He calls for improving relations with countries across the region.

Just the way we can talk each other, we can also learn to talk to our neighbors and the rest of the world, he says.

But Saeed Jalili, conservative candidate and Iran's former chief nuclear negotiator, ripped into moderates and the nuclear agreement they negotiated with President Obama, but then President Trump walked away from.

Not only did the economic situation of the country not succeed, that the economic growth became zero and negative.

As Iranians celebrate in streets of Tehran, their eyes are set on the near future and who will govern the Islamic Republic in very challenging times.


PLEITGEN (on camera): And, Wolf, while this country will be getting a new president, one thing that's unlikely to change is Iran's foreign policy. The country's leadership having made clear that they will continue their hard line towards the United States, and, of course, towards Israel as well -- Wolf.

BLITZER: Fred Pleitgen in Tehran, thank you very much.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.