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Biden Seeks Rebound At Fiery North Carolina Rally After His Debate Disaster; Trump Takes Victory Lap In Virginia After Debate With Biden; Supreme Court Rules Some Jan. 6 Defendants Improperly Charged; Pentagon Dismantling Gaza Aid Pier Due To Weather For A Third Time. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired June 28, 2024 - 18:00   ET


WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: Happening now, President Biden works to fire up supporters as many Democrats despair over what they're calling his disastrous debate performance. I'll ask a Biden campaign co-chair, Senator Chris Coons, about the fallout and the calls for the president to exit the race.

Meantime, in Trump world, the mood is very upbeat right now, as the former president takes a post debate victory lap after he was widely considered the winner of the debate despite a litany of lies he told on stage.

Trump also is declaring a big win in the U.S. Supreme Court after the justices ruled some January 6th, defendants were improperly charged.


We're breaking down the decision of what it could mean for the special counsel's election subversion case against Trump.

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

Nearly 24 hours after CNN's historic presidential debate, the ground has shifted in the rematch between President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump. Our correspondents are following the high anxiety within the Biden camp right now and the celebrations within the Trump team.

First, let's go to Arlette Saenz. She's reporting on the president's rocky performance and his attempts to rebound.


JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: Get knocked down, you get back up.

ARLETTE SAENZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (voice over): President Joe Biden in North Carolina attempting a major reset after his debate against former president Donald Trump. One Democratic lawmaker telling CNN Biden's performance was a disaster.

BIDEN: I know I'm not a young man, to state the obvious. I don't debate as well as I used to. But I know what I do know. I know how to tell the truth.

SAENZ: On the campaign trail, the president fiery in his attacks against his rival.

BIDEN: Donald Trump will destroy democracy. I will defend it.

SAENZ: A stark contrast from Biden's showing at CNN's presidential debate, which has sent Biden's advisers scrambling behind the scenes to calm Democratic panic after moments like this.

BIDEN: Making sure that we're able to make every single solitary person eligible for what I've been able to do with the COVID -- excuse me, with dealing with everything we have to do with -- look, if -- we finally beat Medicare.

DONALD TRUMP (R), FORMER U.S. PRESIDENT, 2024 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: He was right. He did beat Medicare. He beat it to death.

SAENZ: Donald Trump seizing on Biden struggles.

TRUMP: I really don't know what he said at the end of that sentence. I don't think he knows what he said either.

SAENZ: Even as he made multiple false claims and hedged yet again when asked directly if he would accept the results of this year's election.

TRUMP: If it's a fair and legal and good election, absolutely. I would have much rather accepted these but the fraud.

BIDEN: I doubt whether you'll accept it because you're such a whiner.

SAENZ: But those moments overshadowed by Biden's shaky demeanor and delivery. Midway through the debate, aides explaining his hoarse voice was the result of a cold. Now, the campaign facing questions about what comes next for the 81-year-old president.

PAUL BEGALA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Are they going to stick by him or are they going to come with pitchforks?

SAENZ: Despite the slipups, many top Democrats defending Biden.

KAMALA HARRIS, U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: Yes, there was a slow start, but it was a strong finish. This election, and who is the president of the United States, has to be about substance. And the contrast is clear.

SAENZ: Former President Barack Obama writing, bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know. But this election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself.

But in private, some Democrats less assured, questioning whether Biden should remain at the top of the ticket. Biden's team spent part of the day calling donors and lawmakers trying to ease concerns. One adviser telling CNN, quote, we are in a dark place, but we're moving forward. That path forward is ultimately up to Biden himself, who so far has shown no signs of backing down. BIDEN: I give you my words of Biden, I would not be running again if I didn't believe with all my heart and soul, I can do this job.


SAENZ (on camera): Now, President Biden is now here in New York City. He first made a stop at the Stonewall National Monument, a historic site in the gay rights movement. In a few hours, the president will attend a fundraiser with LGBTQ supporters.

And it comes at a time when the Biden campaign is at least trying to point to one bright spot from last night, and that relates to their fundraising. Biden campaign officials said that they brought in $14 million dollars on debate day and this morning, something that they're hoping will show some support from the grassroots fundraising community.

But all of this comes as President Biden, certainly in the coming days and weeks, will continue to face questions about his campaign, his path forward, as he's hoping to face off against Donald Trump. His campaign advisers have said that he does plan to debate Trump again in September, and that there are no plans for the president to drop out of the race.

BLITZER: Arlette, stand by. I want to bring in CNN's Kristen Holmes right now. She's covering Donald Trump's post debate rally today. Kristen, the former president seized on President Biden's performance during his campaign event just a little while ago in Virginia. Tell us about that.

KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is the first time, Wolf, that we had seen him actually react to the debate. We had heard from senior advisers who had worked to paint Biden as weak and old and senile, saying that they were celebrating the fact that they believed Donald Trump won.


Now, obviously, we won't know who, quote/unquote, won the debate unless we see this from voters, but that is how Donald Trump's team is characterizing last night.

Now, here is how Trump himself talked about the debate.


TRUMP: Despite the fact. That crooked Joe Biden spent the entire week at Camp David resting, working, studying, he studied very hard, he studied so hard that he didn't know what the hell he was doing. He got the debate rules that he wanted. He got the date that he wanted. He got the network that he wanted with the moderates he wanted. No amount of rest or rigging could help him defend his atrocious record.


HOLMES: Now I do want to point out that he talked about Biden defending his, quote/unquote, atrocious record. He actually didn't talk about Biden's performance and the kind of detail that his senior advisers did. In fact, at one point, he said that it wasn't about age, it was about mental competency. And we know that Donald Trump himself is sensitive about the conversation about age because he's just not much younger than President Joe Biden.

The other thing that Trump said was that he didn't believe Biden is going to drop out of the race. He believed he was going to stay in it. He actually said that he thought that because he polls higher than other Democrats whose names were currently being floated. But clearly, Wolf, they were taking a victory lap today, and that will likely continue into the weekend.

BLITZER: Yes, I suspect you're right. Kristen Holmes and Arlette Saenz, to both of you, thank you very much.

Let's get some more right now with our political experts who have been watching all of this. Meghan Hays. Let me start with you. Biden got the rules he wanted, but he clearly, in the view of a lot of folks out there, including many Democrats, he failed to meet the moment in this debate. So, what happens now?

MEGHAN HAYS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Look, I think that he showed what happens now, right? He had a bad night last night. Today, he went out. He was very strong. He was very clear. He owned the fact that it wasn't a great performance for him. And he moved on. He's doing fundraising. He's at Stonewall today. He's back out on the campaign trail. He is not hiding from this and he will move on and show the American people why they need to re-elect him.

BLITZER: Sarah Matthews, do you think Trump actually won this debate or did Biden simply lose it?

SARAH MATTHEWS, FORMER TRUMP WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY PRESS SECRETARY: I think that because we're talking about Biden's poor performance, obviously, it's clear that it was a disastrous night for the Biden campaign. And we should be talking about the fact that Donald Trump, when asked three separate times if he would accept the results of the 2024 election, he said -- he deflected. He wouldn't give a straight answer on it. And we know that because Donald Trump only accepts elections that he wins, as evidenced by 2020.

But what is frustrating for me is that I do think that this is an inflection point for Democrats in the Biden campaign. Look, it wasn't just one bad night. I think that for the millions of Americans who tuned in, it confirmed their worst fears about Biden, that he wasn't up to the job to serve another four years. Look, I believe he's a good man and I believe that he has been a good president. I really do because he came at this time when we so desperately needed him.

But right now, it's kind of looking like to me as someone who believes that democracy is on the line, as I know a lot of other Democrats also believe that Biden might need to pass the baton. And I think that there needs to be conversations within the Democratic Party about it, and the fact that all of these Democrats are falling in line and saying, oh, it's just one bad night, I mean, it rings a little hollow to me when they criticize Republicans for not condemning Donald Trump and his unfitness. And I call out their cowardice on that, but I'm going to do the same now for Democrats when I think this is a conversation that needs to be had.

BLITZER: We now have the ratings, by the way, for the debate last night. More than 50 millions of Americans were watching this debate, this CNN debate.

Melania Zanona, you cover Capitol Hill for us. How are Democrats on the Hill reacting to this?

MELANIE ZANONA, CNN CAPITOL HILL REPORTER: Yes, it was a gloomy day on Capitol Hill this morning. Look, Democrats are standing by President Biden right now. No one has called on him to step aside. But privately, I can tell you there is a level of panic that has started to really set in as these questions begin to percolate about whether he should remain the nominee and who could possibly replace him.

And I think last night was a wakeup call for a lot of Democrats. They saw Trump on the stage. They believe he's a threat to democracy. They saw that in full force with the number of falsehoods that he was saying. He's refused to accept the results. But at the same time, they saw Biden and their confidence is diminishing that he is going to be able to defeat Trump in November. And also they're concerned about now this having an impact all up and down the ballot for Democrats.

BLITZER: Leigh Ann Caldwell of The Washington Post is with us as well, Leigh Ann, Democratic leaders clearly are standing by the president, at least right now. Is there anything you think would change that?

LEIGH ANN CALDWELL, EARLY 202 CO-AUTHOR, THE WASHINGTON POST: We're going to have to look at polling. That's going to be a big thing. If the polling drops precipitously for President Biden, that's going to be a huge issue. I've been talking to Democratic members of Congress, senators, and donors all day. And last night, it was freak out mode. Today, they're trying to say that, okay, this was maybe just one bad night.


Let's see what happens next. But if the next shoe drops, then it could be very bad for the president.

BLITZER: So, what I hear you saying is if the poll numbers for Biden really go down between now and the Democratic Convention in Chicago, there could be an uproar in Chicago and maybe somebody else is would emerge as the nominee? Is that what I'm hearing?

CALDWELL: I mean, there could be. There's all sorts of talking and strategizing that's happening right now. There's conversations, there's text messages where people are really trying to figure out what to do next. Remember, Biden is not the nominee yet. As you well know, he will be the nominee in Chicago, if that's what happens, if that's what the party chooses, and if that's what President Biden chooses, but people are quite worried at this point. BLITZER: Meghan Hays, do you think there are some party leaders, Democratic Party leaders who are who are willing to have that conversation with the president about possibly considering stepping down if that's going to really hurt the Democratic nominee and maybe get Trump elected?

HAYS: Yes, I think that there are party leaders that are willing to have that conversation, but, again, the president knows that he did not have a good night. He owned that today in Raleigh. So, I don't think that that conversation actually needs to be had. I think that he realizes what he needs to do. This is not the first time he has had a bad debate. He is a fighter. He is an underdog. He's one of the most resilient people out there. So, he is very aware.

And if he feels he is not up to the task, he would have stepped down. That is not what he's telling people, and that's not what he is telegraphing. So, I would not worry that the party leaders aren't going to step in. I think they would step in if they really felt it was a problem, but I just don't think that they are there yet.

BLITZER: They'll be looking at the poll numbers, I'm sure between now and the convention.

Sarah, the former president, Barack Obama, he's weighing in, and he wrote this, bad debate nights happen. Trust me, I know. But this election is still a choice between someone who has fought for ordinary folks his entire life and someone who only cares about himself. So, what do you think? Is there something bigger going on here?

MATTHEWS: I mean, he's right. The stakes could not be higher in this election, and I've said publicly that I will vote for Joe Biden even after last night's disastrous performance, I'll still be voting for him. But my God, if Democrats put up any other candidate to run against Donald Trump, they would win easily. But with Joe Biden, they're rolling the dice. And I think there's too much at stake and I think it's irresponsible of these top Democrats.

Look, they're texting people like Melanie, you know, telling them their worst fears, but they're not willing to go on and say these things publicly. And I think that if one top Democrat came out and said this, what they're all saying privately, then maybe the dam would break and then others would follow suit and join.

But it's just sad because this isn't how Joe Biden should be going out and this shouldn't be his legacy. I understand that this is humiliating for him, probably. But at the end of the day, we need to be doing all we can ensure -- to we need to be doing all that we can to ensure that Donald Trump does not set foot in the Oval Office. And at this point, it seems like he would win in a landslide in November.

BLITZER: And, Meghan, let me follow up because we're getting some breaking news just coming into The Situation Room right now. We're learning that The New York Times Editorial Board is now calling on President Biden to step down.

HAYS: I mean, The New York Times also endorsed several people during the Democratic primary in 2020, so I don't hold a lot of stock in what they're saying. Look, the president has to be the one to just decide this, right? The delegates already pledged to him. All these people would have to re-vote in primaries. It just would not be good for democracy, in general. The president would have to be the one to decide this.

The president said today very forcefully that that's not what he's going to do. He has made a very fulsome argument of contrast between him and former President Trump. Former President Trump lied over 30 times last night in the debate. We're just glossing over the fact that he was saying wild lies last night because Joe Biden had a bad night.

Like I just think that we all need to take a breath and then we need to get back to work as a Democratic Party and get behind the person that we are nominating.

BLITZER: How big of a deal, Leigh Ann, is this, The New York Times Editorial Board, now saying Trump -- excuse me, Biden should drop out?

CALDWELL: Well, I think, like Megan, it's probably not going to have a lot of impact with voters. But what it will do, it will have a lot of impact with perhaps people, Democrats and the Democratic elite and ecosphere who are concerned about Biden and do want him to step aside.

BLITZER: And it's happening, Melanie, at a time when Biden is now in New York, and tonight he's got some fundraisers with some major Democratic supporters out there tonight and The New York Times is now saying it's time for Biden to go.

ZANONA: Right, people who probably read The New York Times. It's not just the voters, he's going to have to assuage the donors, he's going to have to assuage Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill, that he is up for the job. I think, you know, Obama coming out was probably not going to do a lot with voters, but I do think that is going to have a big impact on Democratic officials and lawmakers who are looking for some guidance, looking to the Democratic leadership about how to respond to this, how they should be framing this, how should they be thinking about this. But certainly The New York Times editorial is not something that Democrats want to be seeing right now.

BLITZER: It's a big deal, in my opinion, but we'll see what happens. Guys, thank you very, very much.

Just ahead, one of President Biden's closest allies is standing by to join us live. Delaware Senator Chris Coons, the co-chair of the president's campaign, there you see him, he's going to be joining me.


Plus, the date now set for the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on Donald Trump's claim of presidential immunity, as the justices today give a big win to hundreds of convicted January 6th rioters.


BLITZER: We're following breaking news right now. The editorial board of The New York Times is now calling on President Biden to leave the 2024 presidential race, writing, and I'm quoting now from The New York Times Editorial, the president appeared on Thursday night as the shadow of a great public servant. He struggled to explain what he would accomplish in a second term. He struggled to respond to Mr. Trump's provocations. He struggled to hold Mr. Trump accountable for his lies, his failures and his chilling plans. More than once, he struggled to make it to the end of a sentence.

Let's discuss this and more with the national co-chair of the Biden campaign and a good friend of the president, Senator Chris Coons of Delaware.


Senator, thanks so much for joining us.

First of all, what's your reaction to this powerful call from The New York Times Editorial Board to call for Biden to step aside?

SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE): Well, thanks for a chance to be on, Wolf. It sure has been a long and interesting day with lots of different pundits and editorials giving their opinions. But, frankly, what the American people saw today in Raleigh where Joe Biden gave a roaring campaign speech to a rally was the president that we have the president that we deserve and the president that we need. He was direct. He said, look, I didn't have my best night last night. I know that I'm not as sharp on the debate stage as I was before, but I know how to tell the truth and I know how to get things done. And I can understand why he struggled with the torrent of lies that Donald Trump told last night.

Joe Biden has been a remarkable president and I wish The New York Times would give him more credit for that. We've got the stock market at an all-time high, unemployment at an all time low, longest it's been this low ever, drug prices coming down, and energy production going up. We are in a very strong place as a country at home and abroad and Joe Biden's the leader who's gotten that done. He's going to run for re-election and I'm confident he's going to win.

BLITZER: But senator given the danger of a second Trump presidency, as Democrats see it, why wouldn't the president at least consider stepping aside for the sake of the country if it looks like he's going to lose to Trump?

COONS: Look, I trust that Joe Biden is weighing carefully the consequences of a Trump second presidency. Nobody knows more clearly, more directly than Joe Biden, who had to clean up the ungodly mess that was left behind. Donald Trump's mishandling of the pandemic, his shredding of our alliances and partnerships around the world, the ways in which he left behind a wreck of an economy and a nation deeply divided. All of that is what Joe Biden, our president, has worked tirelessly to address.

Just last month, our economy created more jobs in one month than in the entire four years of Donald Trump's presidency. And no president has presided over an economy that created 15 million jobs, just Joe Biden. So, he knows what the risks are. And today, Wolf, the Supreme Court yet again issued a landmark decision overturning a 40-year-old precedent that's a reminder that the conservative majority on the Supreme Court that overturned Roe versus Wade two years ago is hard at work reshaping the law in a conservative direction.

So, when Joe Biden thinks about his performance last night, he is taking seriously the risks, but the man you saw on the debate stage -- excuse me, the man you saw give a rally speech today is quite different from the man we saw on the debate stage last night. Everybody has a bad night every now and then. Every Major League player strikes out when they step up to bat, but he is a capable and competent president. That's what we saw in his speech on the beach at Normandy just last month. That's what we'll see this coming month at the NATO 75th summit. Those of us who work with him day in and day out know that he is sharp. The rally he gave today was very reassuring to lots of concerned folks.

BLITZER: Senator, I want to read another part from this New York Times Editorial that has just been released, and this is a direct quote. The clearest path for Democrats to defeat a candidate defined by his lies is to deal truthfully with the American public, acknowledge that Mr. Biden can't continue his race and create a process to select someone more capable to stand in his place to defeat Mr. Trump in November, close quote. Your reaction to that.

COONS: Well, look, I've gotten a lot of texts today from folks who watched a lot of West Wing episodes and imagine a very complex path through which we might have a robust primary process. But, Wolf, you know, the reality, there's four months left to the presidential election. I don't know how The New York Times imagines that between now and our convention we're going to have a wide open, robust national debate about who ought to be our next president, when we've got a president who has accomplished so much in just three years, and who I saw on a stage today in Raleigh, giving a forceful, capable, visionary, frankly, speech about his optimism for the country going forward.

Let me remind you one other sharp contrast between Joe Biden and Donald Trump. Joe Biden's Vice President Kamala Harris, who was on all the shows last night, is clear and engaging. Donald Trump's former vice president refuses to endorse him, is someone who served alongside him for four years and says he doesn't belong anywhere near the White House Situation Room.

So, I think the contrast is sharp.


President Biden's clear about the consequences, and I'm optimistic that we're going to see, when he debates Donald Trump again this fall, that he's fully up to this job.

BLITZER: But as you know, Senator, questions about President Biden's fitness have been swirling for a while. Why should Americans believe it was just a bad night rather than evidence of something more troubling? COONS: Well, look, what they ought to believe is what they see with their eyes and they hear with their ears and they read week after week after week when he gives strong speeches, strong performances, when he's able to deliver landmark legislation from the State of the Union speech back in January, which was 90 minutes of a commanding performance to record legislation. He signed into law helping our veterans, combating gun crime, reducing prescription drug prices. He's got a record to run on that's very strong.

I understand and respect the many folks who've reached out to me and who I'm sure have reached out to you with concerns about last night's debate performance. It was not his strongest showing. But his record is deep and he has a long history of being counted out only to come roaring back.

I was part of politics, as well as you, when Barack Obama had a very bad first debate performance in his re-election campaign. I'll remind you it was Joe Biden who, in the vice presidential debate, whooped Paul Ryan and turned things around and helped lay the groundwork for Barack Obama being re-elected.

My own colleague, John Fetterman, reminded all of us on Twitter today that he had a terrible debate performance against Mehmet Oz and everyone counted him out, yet he came back and won decisively by five points. I'm optimistic that's what's going to happen here as well, Wolf.

BLITZER: Senator, you mentioned Vice President Kamala Harris. She repeatedly last night dodged Anderson Cooper's questions about whether the Biden we saw in the debate is who he is every day. What's your answer to that, because you know him well?

COONS: I do. And I was just in Europe for a few days where the G7 Summit was held in Italy. Leaders from across Europe who've met with him and worked with him say the same thing that I'll tell you from working with him and meeting with him. He is sharp and engaged. His cognitive capabilities are as good as ever. Yes, his gait has a little bit of a shuffle to it. Sometimes he speaks a little softly. But his abilities for leadership, for surrounding himself with outstanding people and making the right choice for the American people, that is undimmed. And, frankly, his record is one of the strongest of any president in my lifetime.

BLITZER: Senator Chris Coons of Delaware, thanks so much for joining us.

COONS: Thank you, Wolf.

BLITZER: Let's continue the breaking news right now, The New York Times Editorial Board, once again, calling for President Biden to drop out of the race. CNN Political Director David Chalian is joining us on the phone right now.

David this is a big deal. Give us your reaction.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR (voice over): It's no doubt a big deal. This is part of what is a moment for Joe Biden, Wolf, in his 52-year career in politics on the national stage that he has never experienced before, this kind of political pressure that is being applied now from editorial boards as prominent as The New York times, from the donor class, from party stalwarts inside the Democratic Party, elected officials. There is this growing course of political pressure, all of which we should note may amount to nothing because Joe Biden is likely to hold his own counsel here, rely on his wife or closest family members in any kind of introspection of this moment, but that isn't going to stop this pressure from mounting.

And I know that some people may look at this and say, hey, this is just an editorial board of a newspaper, but this is an editorial board of a newspaper that Joe Biden pays attention to. And so it is not by accident that The New York Times is sort of delivering this and just doing it as their own opinion here from their editorial board. It is a clear letter, basically, to Joe Biden to call him to this moment and see, if according to them, he will reconsider his candidacy. Because as the editorial board puts it, Wolf, they believe that is the surest path to defeating Donald Trump, that Joe Biden being the nominee is no longer the Democratic Party's surest path to defeating Donald Trump, and, obviously, the liberal New York Times Editorial Board is opposed to Donald Trump's candidacy, Wolf.

BLITZER: They're strongly opposed to Trump. The headline, the editorial board of the New York Times headline is simply this, to serve his country, President Biden should leave the race. David, those are very strong words from The New York Times, I'm sure, words that the president never expected to hear from The New York Times.

CHALIAN: I can't imagine just personally what a bruising moment this is for the president.


Obviously, you saw him put on a strong face today when he was in Raleigh, North Carolina, earlier today, now, tonight, New York in fundraisers. He's going to face some of this donor class crowd that's been very alarmed in the last 24 hours, or their concern has ratcheted up since the debate last night. But whether or not Joe Biden is going to sort of just like put his head down and try to move through this moment or actually take this moment to do some introspection here remains to be seen.

The campaign is clearly going to wait for some more polling to come out to assess just if there is significant negative movement for the president because of the debate in this race. They will continue to assess whether money may dry up if donors really do sort of close their wallets and say they're no longer going to donate to Joe Biden. These are the kinds of metrics that a campaign will be constantly assessing over the next week or two. But for Joe Biden, personally, someone who over his 50 years in Washington has very much looked to The New York times editorial page as a place of insight or direction, a place worth listening to, this is going to hit hard whether or not it actually causes them to rethink this.

You will note in the editorial, Wolf, as well, the New York Times Editorial Board doesn't just call on Joe Biden, though they say this is his decision. It calls on the Democratic Party and Democratic supporters, like Chris Coons, you were just talking to and others that have been with Joe Biden and perhaps in the editorial board's sense of this, perhaps maybe protecting Joe Biden, that now it may be time for some Democratic Party leaders to have a very honest conversation with Joe Biden exploring the potential of maybe he is not the strongest person to be at the top of the ticket heading into what Joe Biden says is an election that American democracy and its continuation relies on.

And the Times is making the argument, the editorial board is, that it is that very argument that brings them to this moment of calling him to step aside because they agree with him that the stakes are that high and they think that his remaining on the top of the Democratic ticket could perhaps be a path for Donald Trump to get re-elected at this point after last night's performance.

BLITZER: Yes, the stakes, David, as you correctly point out, are so enormous right now. And my own sense is, and I'm anxious to get your sense with a final thought, David, if the polls show going into the Democratic Convention, not too far down the road in Chicago, that Trump is way ahead of President Biden going into the convention in the polls, A, do you think Biden himself may decide it's time to move on and let someone else be the nominee or if the Democrats who are gathering at the convention decide to nominate someone else?

CHALIAN: You ask such a good question, Wolf. Right now, I just want to say, and we have no evidence that Joe Biden is reconsidering his run for president yet. There's no evidence of that, that he's actually heeding this call from The New York Times or some others today. But because this is all happening before he is the officially selected nominee of the party, you are right to note the convention will gather iIn August in Chicago.

I have a hard time seeing, if Joe Biden remains a candidate, how the convention sort of prize the nomination away from him. However, if over these next weeks, he does decide to leave this race, it will be those convention of delegates that will have the power to choose a nominee moving forward because the primary season, of course, is over. So, voters, Democratic primary voters will no longer be part of that process. Wolf?

BLITZER: We'll see what happens at the Democratic Convention in Chicago. David Chalian, thanks very, very much. I want to go back to our White House Correspondent Arlette Saenz. She's covering the president. She's in New York right now with the president.

So, how's it going to land with the Biden inner circle, this statement from The New York Times, that it's time for the president to drop out given the debate last night?

SAENZ: Well, Wolf, we're still waiting for comment from the Biden campaign relating to this new New York Times editorial board column saying that the president should step aside in this race. President Biden right now is at this hotel here in New York City waiting to go to a fundraiser a little bit later this evening with the supporters from the LGBTQ community, but this New York Times Editorial Board column does come at a time when there has been so much angst coming from Democratic circles after President Biden's performance in the debate last night.

The question is whether that Democratic angst, whether a call like this in a major newspaper that is read around the country and around the world, frankly, will have any weight with President Biden or his inner circle who are advising him at this time.


President Biden and his team do pay attention to The New York Times and are aware of the wide breadth of their reach. But it does, I think, further cement some of the Democratic anxieties that have been playing out behind closed doors about the president's performance last night.

So far, this morning, earlier today, when the president was in North Carolina, you really saw him trying to attempt to have this reset in his campaign of being much more fiery on the campaign rally stage than he was on the debate stage, as he was going after Trump, but also acknowledging his own fault in that performance, saying that he knew that it was a bad night, that he knows that he's not the same debater, not the same as in the past, but trying to make his argument to voters that he's still well-intentioned. A question is how that will play in voters' minds in the coming days and weeks as this race is shaping up.

Now, one thing I will note that's interesting relating to The New York Times and the Biden campaign is that there was quite a bit of disdain from the Biden campaign back in 2020. You'll remember that The New York Times Editorial Board had endorsed two other Democratic candidates over Joe Biden. That is something that the campaign really had pushed back on at the time and instead was highlighting the fact that there was a security guard at The New York Times who had been captured in this viral video with Biden saying that she supported him. They were trying to kind of play this as New York Times versus the voters.

We will see if that's kind of a tactic that they take today. But today, it's under much different circumstances as there are calls privately from some of the Democratic Party, raising questions about whether Biden should step aside. So far, the campaign saying that there are no plans to change course in this race, that the president remains at the top of the Democratic ticket. But we'll see how that unfolds in the coming days and weeks, especially if there's more pressure that's being placed on the president and his team.

BLITZER: Arlette Saenz covering the president in New York. Once again, the headline in The New York Times Editorial page, to serve his country, President Biden should leave the race. Strong words from The New York Times.

CNN's Tom Foreman is joining us right now, taking a closer look, and whether that's even a possibility. Tom, what would it take to replace President Biden on the Democratic ticket? TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, primaries have been held, delegates committed. President Biden is the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party. Make no mistake about that. Short of a true health crisis, about the only way he loses that slot is, as David Chalian noted, if he agrees to step aside. But even then, the process of replacing him would be full of uncertainty.

Democrats could work it out at their convention in August, the way political parties used to. Various names would be put forward, and most likely, the more than 3,900 delegates from across the country would discuss, debate, and eventually decide on a new candidate. All of them right now, almost all of them, are currently pledged to Biden, by the way, and approved by his campaign.

But what if they can't agree on a new choice, if it gets really nasty and grinds on? Well then maybe the additional roughly 700 or so super delegates, deep-seated party insiders and elected officials could be key to settling the matter. They normally cannot vote on the first ballot for president if it would change the nominee, but they could vote on subsequent ballots, that's when we'd hear an awful lot about them.

But that raises another series of questions, if that scenario played out. Would voters who took part in primaries feel pushed aside and alienated from the party if a new nominee was chosen in this manner? Would a new choice be able to mount an effective campaign in the roughly ten weeks from the end of the convention until Election Day? And, for example, would Donald Trump agree to debate a fresh face at that late date? And who would be the choice?

There would be several big names that could likely be considered, but not until the party decides how it feels about Vice President Kamala Harris. Plenty of Democratic voters and party leaders would see her as the natural heir to the nomination. And if she is not chosen, her disappointed supporters could also become a deep problem for the party in November.

For now, Biden's advisers and other top Democrats are pushing back, as we've heard in the show already, they're pushing back on the whole idea of him dropping out. But that talk keeps elbowing in and even more now. Wolf?

BLITZER: Very sensitive moment right now. Tom Foreman, thank you very much for that explanation.

Coming up a major decision today from the U.S. Supreme Court with a mix of liberal and conservative justices giving a win to a convicted January 6th rioter and in turn maybe even to Donald Trump.



BLITZER: Former President Trump is now calling a major ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court a, quote, big win after the justices decided federal prosecutors overstepped by filing obstruction charges against hundreds of people who rioted at the U.S. Capitol back on January 6, 2021.

CNN's Chief Legal Affairs Correspondent Paula Reid is joining me right now. How big of a blow is this to the Department of Justice, Paula?

PAULA REID, CNN CHIEF LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Wolf, there's no question, this is a loss. Some judges have already reopened cases. In a statement though today, Attorney General Merrick Garland said, I'm disappointed by today's decision, which limits an important federal statute that the department has sought to use to ensure that those most responsible for that attack face appropriate consequences.


But he also tried to put in context the fact that this is just a small percentage of the approximately 1,400 cases the Justice Department has brought and its historic effort to pursue those involved in the insurrection. It's about 240 cases that they have pending right now related to obstruction. 50 people, over 50 people have already been convicted and sentenced.

But another question that people have is, well, what does this mean for the former president who faces two counts of obstruction related to January 6? I'm told by my sources that we should expect his legal team will file motions to try to get those counts tossed based on today's decision, but its not expected that's going to be successful because, of course, today's case focuses on people who were actually at the Capitol that day.

Trump is charged with obstruction related to efforts to install fake electors, other things, which is why I don't expect that that will be successful for him. But the bigger question is obviously immunity. And we'll get that answer on Monday.

BLITZER: Paula Reid reporting for us -- thank you, Paula, very much.

And we'll be right back with more news.



BLITZER: In Gaza right now, the U.S. military has once again removed the pier built to bring in desperately needed humanitarian aid to Palestinians, citing bad weather and rough seas.

CNN's Oren Liebermann is live for us over at the Pentagon.

Oren, give us the latest.

OREN LIEBERMANN, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, this is now the third time in the six-week since this pier began operating, that the U.S. military has had to break down the pier and move it to the port of Ashdod. Two times that happened because the precautionary measures over concerns of heavy seas and one time because the pier itself was damaged because of heavy seas. And that leads to the question of how viable is the operation itself?

The Pentagon points out that the pier has brought in 19 million pounds of aid the shores of Gaza. But as of right now, the aid that was still coming in before today is just piling up on the beach and that's because the U.N. World Food Programme isn't able to distribute it. And get it to the Palestinians and the people who needed because of concerns over the security situation.

Wolf, that means it's unclear when and if the pier itself will begin operating again to do what it was supposed to do, get aid to the people who need it.

BLITZER: Oren Liebermann with the latest -- Oren, thank you very much. And we'll be right back.



BLITZER: Tonight, we want to say so long and thank you to one of CNN's most unique voices the inimitable Jeanne Moos. She joined the network back in 1981 as a reporter, covering the United Nations and other hard news stories.

But she quickly found her calling telling unusual stories where their trademark humor and clever world play -- wordplay, often including a quirky on-camera moment, guaranteed to amuse viewers.

Jeanne, we wish you well and your next chapter, you will certainly be missed. We all love you.

And we'll be right back.


BLITZER: I'm Wolf Blitzer in THE SITUATION ROOM. Thanks very much for watching.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.