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Soon, Biden Meets With Democratic Governors Amid Post-Debate Crisis; White House Says, Biden Absolutely Not Thinking Of Stepping Down; Boston Globe Editorial Board Calls On Biden To Step Aside From Campaign; Report: DOJ To Pursue Trump Cases Even If He's Reelected; Now: Biden Meets With Dem Governors Amid Post-Debate Crisis. Aired 6- 7p ET

Aired July 03, 2024 - 18:00   ET


PAMELA BROWN, CNN HOST: Happening now, breaking news. President Biden is about to meet with Democratic governors who want answers about his shaky debate performance that thrust his campaign into crisis mode. I'll ask one of those governors what he wants to hear from the president just minutes from now.


The White House press secretary says President Biden is, quote, absolutely not thinking about stepping down. But tonight, we're getting some new information about a potential succession plan if Biden were to exit the 2024 race.

Also this hour, Donald Trump's legal troubles apparently won't go away should he win in November? The Justice Department reportedly plans to pursue the criminal charges cases against Trump past Election Day.

Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. While Blitzer is off today. I'm Pamela Brown and you're in The Situation Room.

We are keeping a close eye on the White House right now as the president's urgent meeting with Democratic governors is just about to get underway. CNN's M.J. Lee is there following all the breaking news on the fallout over the president's debate performance and what may happen in the hours and days ahead. M.J., give us the latest.

M.J. LEE, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: We are seeing the Biden White House and the Biden campaign in full crisis mode with the president trying to reassure everybody that he can, that he is absolutely staying in the race. There is no scenario where he is not going to be the nominee. This includes campaign staff and White House staff. And not just the president and the vice president calling into a campaign call today, but also we are seeing senior staff at the White House. Senior staff at the campaign are all holding calls to try to reassure folks that are working both at the White House and the campaign that despite all of the panic and all of the uncertainty that we have seen in the days since the Democratic debate and the president's very poor performance, that the president isn't going anywhere. But, of course, this reassurance, a lot of Democrats have told CNN, really needs to come directly from President Biden. And that is part of the reason, of course, why the president is going to be meeting with a group of Democratic governors this evening. And the White House continues to say that we are going to see much more from the president in the coming days.


LEE (voice over): Tonight, President Joe Biden trying to save his teetering re-election campaign. After keeping a limited public schedule for days following his disastrous debate performance last week, the president emerging to try to reassure panicked supporters. Biden rallying his campaign staff on a call, telling them, quote, I'm running. I'm the nominee of the Democratic Party. No one's pushing me out. I'm not leaving. I'm in this race to the end. But this as CNN is learning that the president has privately acknowledged this week that the next stretch of days will be critical to whether he can save his candidacy. An ally who spoke with Biden on Tuesday, telling CNN that the president was chastened and blamed himself, not his staff, for his poor debate performance.

JOE BIDEN, U.S. PRESIDENT: With the COVID -- excuse me, with dealing with everything we have to do with --

LEE: The ally saying Biden is clear-eyed about what it would look like if his efforts to save his campaign were to fail. The polls are plummeting, the fundraising is drying up, and the interviews are going badly.

Meanwhile, the White House struggling to answer a barrage of questions about the president's health and medical records.

If now is not the time for full transparency, when is?

KARINE JEAN-PIERRE, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: We have been one of the most transparent administration when it comes to medical records.

LEE: The White House also confronting questions about Biden's new explanation for his halting debate performance, jet lag and fatigue from two foreign trips, despite having had nearly two weeks back in the states before the CNN debate.

JEAN-PIERRE: When he travels abroad It's a pretty rigorous travel. We get tired looking at him doing his meetings and traveling.

LEE: The White House and campaign had previously blamed a cold.

JEAN-PIERRE: I was so focused on the call on the cold and that's what I kind of leaned into and talked about. But, yes, his schedule did have something to do with it. It was the schedule and the cold.

LEE: One of Biden's first major tests coming on Friday, when he sits down for an extended T.V. interview. Biden also beginning to call Democratic leaders, like Chuck Schumer, Hakeem Jeffries, and Chris Coons, and tonight, hosting a group of Democratic governors at the White House, all eager to hear directly from the president.

GOV. ANDY BESHEAR (D-KY): The governors just want a direct and candid conversation with the, with the president. We want to make sure he's doing okay.


LEE (on camera): But despite the furious efforts by the White House and the campaign to reassure Democrats that the president is all in, we are starting to see those cracks in the support for the president. Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona becoming the second sitting Democratic lawmakers lawmaker to say that the president should drop out in an interview with The New York Times. The question right now is, is this just the beginning? And will the dam at some point fully break? One Democratic lawmaker just told our colleague, Sunlen Serfaty, quote, it's over, we are just waiting for the announcement. But the president may not be there yet. But, again, it's over.



Those are some very strong words from a Democratic lawmaker. M.J. Lee, thank you very much.

Right now, we have more breaking news on planning within the Democratic Party in case President Biden decides to exit the 2024 race. CNN's Jeff Zeleny joins us now. So, what are you learning about this, Jeff?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, we are learning that there is indeed a contingency plan being discussed by senior Democratic advisers. As M.J. was reporting, if President Biden makes the decision to step aside, that decision is his alone. There is thoughts of a plan underway for what he would do. And the current thinking, according to our reporting is that he would throw his support behind Vice President Kamala Harris, who notably has been at his side all day long. They shared a lunch together today. He invited her to join that meeting of Democratic governors happening later this hour.

So, one adviser tells me, quote, he's with her. Now, there have been many questions about what would happen, would there be an open convention fight? That is something that Democratic Party officials are trying to avoid, and, of course, she is the sitting vice president.

So, the thinking goes, according to this contingency planning, is that President Biden would throw his support behind her, ask delegates to do the same, and then party leaders and former presidents and others would also do the same, supporting Vice President Harris.

One senior adviser, Pamela, told me this, this is so telling. Who would stand up against our historic vice president to be our nominee for president? So, framing the stakes there, it would be difficult to potentially stop her from becoming the Democratic nominee. Again, this is all contingent on President Biden making a decision. And as we've heard from him, he has not yet done that. But aides say it would be malpractice to not discuss what would come next in their fight against Donald Trump. That, of course, is the point here. It is more than -- bigger than Joe Biden, Democratic advisers say, and they want to get on with it. Of course, we should point out it's the Biden- Harris campaign. So, she would also inherit the campaign war chest and infrastructure as well. Pamela?

BROWN: Yes, that's an important point. Jeff Zeleny, thank you so much.

Let's get more on this breaking story with Hawaii Governor Josh Green. He will be attending President Biden's meeting with Democratic governors virtually just minutes from now. Governor, thanks for joining us just before this meeting is about to kick off, I want to get first your reaction to this new reporting that plans are underway for President Biden to immediately throw his support behind Harris and get his delegates to do the same if he were to make that decision to step aside.

GOV. JOSH GREEN (D-HAWAII): Well, first of all thank you for having me and I will tell you this. This is the president's decision. He has earned our nomination through the process. So, whatever decision he makes is going to be his decision with his family and closest advisers, period. That's important to say.

We believe that a Democrat should win the White House. That is absolutely. What the other Democratic governors feel. Of course, we're the president's strongest supporters. And I know everyone has gone through a bit of shock from the debate. It was a bad day, as the president shared.

But I have to tell you, one of the larger questions has not been asked. And, you know, I'm a physician. I know that's one of the reasons you're having me on this conversation. It's one of the things we're talking to the president about, are you up to this? You have to compare the clinical concerns that we have. We have a president who was forgetful and had a terrible debate. That is correct. We also have serious concerns about the former president, President Trump's temperament. His narcissistic personality disorder is a problem, and it has been a problem for some time.

So, the country has to assess what is safe for it, and I think that is also part of the dialogue. I appreciate you guys covering the (INAUDIBLE) but I think this is a question.

BROWN: All right, so let's pick apart a little bit about what you just said, and as it pertains to former President Trump, a lot of people have their own ideas of his situation. You just threw out one. He has not been formally clinically diagnosed as far as we know with that. But as it pertains to President Biden, the White House is saying that he was jet lagged just today. That was part of the explanation, but they just came out with, in addition, you know, to the fact that he was tired, his schedule was busy, and he had a cold. Is that a sufficient explanation to you? Does that explain everything to you, his debate performance? GREEN: Look, both of the candidates, President Biden and former President Trump, are elderly gentlemen. They both have challenges. They both will have challenges no matter who serves as president. Yes, President Biden, if you have a strep throat and you're exhausted, you can have a terrible performance. But we're all worried about whether he feels up to it, and that's what he's going to tell us. If he tells us he's not up to finishing this election off or he doesn't feel he's the one that's going to beat Donald Trump, then he will step aside. That will be his decision.

On the flip side, as you know, I'm not either of their physicians.


I'm not the president's physician. I'm not the former president's physician. But we all witnessed Mr. Trump for four years, and that is a pretty strong consensus opinion that his personality really jeopardized our country.

So, I hope that people will have that debate and it's really important because these two gentlemen are very, very different, but they would have the same responsibility. And, again, we're going to hear from the president in a couple, a couple of minutes and I'm hopeful that he feels up to this whole campaign, because I truly believe that he makes us safer.

BROWN: Okay. So, you believe he makes us safer, but do you believe he is the best person to beat Donald Trump for the White House?

GREEN: You're talking about polling and stuff? Look, that's up to professionals. The president who earned the nomination, you don't poll a president because he's had one bad night. We're not judging people to be like the debater-in-chief. We're trying to get someone to be the commander-in-chief. It was a terrible night. It was a terrible night and he's had a great three and a half years. You know, I'm the governor of Hawaii. He was there instantaneously and was really, really on it when we recovered from Maui, from the Maui wildfire. He's been there for me for the last year, and I've talked to him day in and day out, and his team day in and day out. They've been on it, but, you know, I never heard from President Trump during COVID.

So, it's difficult for governors to look at that moment in time, that debate, and say, we shouldn't have this gentleman be president. But when he makes the decision, I'm sure we'll share it with you right away. I want America to judge these people on what will be good for us long-term.

BROWN: So, what do you need to hear from President Biden later this hour to, you know, assuage any concerns you might have? What do you need to hear and see, frankly, besides just, you know, what he says?

GREEN: No, like I said, I'm a physician. I watch his body language. I watch the strength he has in his musculature. I look into his eyes and we see whether he's clear, just like we do with everybody. Every time we have a meeting with anyone, we judge them. If we see that from the president, we'll feel confident. We won't just take words. We'll all observe. And we've had some very, very direct conversations as governors and other leaders across the country.

The president is a responsible human being. If he feels that he can't be president for the coming years, he and Jill will decide that it's not right to run if he feels that. And we're going to all share with him because we love him. We care about him. We're concerned about him in our country. We will make the right decision.

If, however, people play this game of it was a terrible night on the debate stage versus what we saw from the previous president, for Mr. Trump, which was erratic, scary behavior in the middle of the night, that's something to consider. These individuals carry the nuclear codes. I'm not trying to be melodramatic here. That's why we speak to temperament and personality. So, the party has to make the right decision with the president, but he did win the nomination. And if he runs, we'll run with him.

BROWN: Governor Josh Green, I hope that you will give us an update after this meeting. You said you're going to be observing certain things as you meet with President Biden here shortly, and we hope that you will give us your assessment after this meeting. Thank you so much.

GREEN: Thank you very much.

BROWN: Let's get more on this with CNN Senior Political Commentator Scott Jennings, the former Democratic mayor of New York City, Bill de Blasio, and Mara Liasson, national political correspondent for NPR.

So, Mara, at this critical moment, what are you watching for in this meeting putting Biden in the same room as virtually all the Democrats being floated as his potential replacements? It's a pretty remarkable situation.

MARA LIASSON, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, NPR: Yes, there are plenty of people who would like if he steps aside to run in these remaining weeks, but if Jeff Zeleny's reporting is correct, he has a contingency plan that he would basically bequeath his campaign to Kamala Harris. It would be pretty hard for somebody else to put together a campaign at this late moment. But the Democrats that I talked to, super delegates, Democratic National Committee members, say there are two scenarios. It's all up to him. He has to decide for himself if he's going to step aside.

But if he does it quickly, maybe there could be a kind of mini primary with five or six or seven, probably a lot of them would be governors, running. He would release his delegates, or he decides to just turn it over to Harris. And that's plan B. But so far, he seems to really be trying to stick as the nominee. But there's things that I'm watching for. Number one, do more elected Democratic officials come out and say he should step aside? We've only had a very few so far.

And then what do the polls show? There's a lot of times that a post- debate bump dissipates, and we'll see if that happens for Donald Trump.

BROWN: All right. So, Bill, to bring you in, let's focus on Vice President Harris.


How significant is it that this succession plan appears to be coming into place? And at this rate, how likely is it that Harris could lead the Democratic ticket? We should remind our viewers that she will be in this meeting with President Biden and these Democratic governors. It's happening shortly.

FMR. MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D-NY): Well, I think the first thing to say is that the President has to make an extraordinarily difficult personal decision. And I don't know if that happens sooner or later. I certainly think we have both the powerful emotional dynamics at play, but also the strategic. If he is trying to do a handoff, what kind of timing does that require? What kind of setup does that require?

I think though at the same time there's going to be a counter-pressure that there is such a deep Democratic bench, and there is going to be a desire to see an open process. I think we will see some of that coming from the Democratic base, that they like the idea of competition and hearing the voices and making a decision.

And I got to tell you, there is a strong argument, I think, that a sort of mini primary actually pulls all the attention, if it is to come this way, if this is what the president decides, pulls all the attention to the Democratic Party for a few months and kind of robs Donald Trump of the stage. And I think that's an interesting factor to consider.

BROWN: Let me just follow up with you, because, you know, as a former elected official, when you look at what's coming out of the White House, right, there was this reporting from anonymous officials that President Biden is considering stepping aside depending on how these next few days go, and then the White House, the Biden campaign quickly came out to say that is absolutely not true, do you actually believe that, though, given what's at stake here and all the conversations happening with Democrats who are concerned? Do you actually believe he's not considering that or looking at that as a possibility over these next few days?

DE BLASIO: Look, I think Joe Biden is a total patriot. I think he is a big thinker. It was not easy to decide to come back and run against Donald Trump for the good of his country. That was not the decision of anyone, but a true public servant. I think he's going to look at the big picture here. He's going to look at everything, the polling and the overall situation in the country.

And in the end though, it makes sense. You can't say after a bad performance, oh, we're going to throw in the towel. You have to hold the ground, even if you're considering options because the campaign has to keep going, Pamela. You know, on the ground, right now, in this moment, in Michigan, in Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, people are out knocking on doors, making calls. He can't say anything but I'm still in this, so that campaign can keep going while he's actually going through the deeper, emotional and strategic considerations. BROWN: Scott, to bring you into this conversation, you heard that one Democratic lawmaker told CNN, my colleague, Sunlen Serfaty, it's over, the president might not be there yet, but it's over, what do you think? Has the tide officially turned against Biden? Where are we in this moment right now?

SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, if you read the polling, you certainly get that impression. You've got a lot of Democrats out there, just regular registered Democrats who want him to move on and all three major polls since the debate, New York Times today, a Wall Street Journal and CNN's own poll. You've got Joe Biden now trailing by two six points. You've got Joe Donald Trump at his high watermark.

And you have, it sounds like, an increasing number of Democrats out there who are openly questioning whether he should continue. I mean, even this conversation we're having right here, I don't hear people saying, let's go Joe Biden. I hear people saying, well, you know, he's going to have to make a decision, which is not a confidence-inspiring thing for Democrats to say about the Democratic president United States.

Now, as it relates to Harris, my view is there's no possible way they can jump over Kamala Harris. I mean, they picked her. They wanted to pick the first black female vice president, and they made a strident argument at the time that she was highly qualified. So, to skip over her now and try to hand it off to some of these other politicians, these governors or whoever, there's no possible way the Democratic Party is going to do that.

So, I think it's Biden, or if he chooses to step aside Harris, I see no possible way they go to anybody else, but one of those two.

BROWN: What do you think, Mara, on Vice President Harris?

LIASSON: I think it will be very hard to deny her the nomination if he decides to step aside for two reasons. One, she's the vice president, she's been vetted, she's the first African-American, Asian-American woman in that role, but also just the practical considerations of turning over a campaign. As somebody said earlier, this is the Biden- Harris campaign. She could inherit it easily. It would be very, very different for somebody else to start from scratch, so their practical considerations, their political considerations. And I also think that it would be very hard.

African-American women are the bedrock of the Democratic Party base, and it would be very, very hard to deny Harris the nomination.

BROWN: All right. Mara Liasson, Bill de Blasio --

LIASSON: If he steps aside.

BROWN: If, and that is a big, big if. Right now, the White House is saying he will not, he's in this to win it.

All right, thank you all, Mara, Scott, Bill, thank you. Just ahead, we're going to talk with a key Democrat who has been part of what he describes as serious conversations on the president's future, Congressman Jamie Raskin, here live.



BROWN: Tonight, one Democratic lawmaker is making a dramatic assessment, that President Biden's candidacy is, quote, over and that members of the president's party are waiting for him to reach the same conclusion. Another member of Congress joins us now, Congressman Jamie Raskin, Democrat of Maryland.

We should note that this Democratic lawmaker is unnamed. There are two that have come out so far and said President Biden should step aside. But this Democratic lawmaker just says flatly, it's over for President Biden. Is that representative of where Democrats in the House are right now?

REP. JAMIE RASKIN (D-MD): Well, I don't know. I haven't taken any sort of formal poll on it. I mean, let's start with this. President Biden won the nomination overwhelmingly in the states, and he got, you know, more than 95 percent of the delegates. So, he right now is the presumptive nominee of our party. The debate obviously shook a lot of people up and the president has recognized that there's a problem.


BROWN: It shook you up?

RASKIN: It shook me up. It shook up anybody who is a supporter and a friend of Joe Biden.

And understand that people I think are reacting first out of a sense of compassion and love for Joe Biden, the way that he reacts towards us. When I got sick last year with lymphoma, President Biden is one of the first people to call me up, to cheer me up and to say that he was with me.

And so we want the best for him, we want the best for the country, and we want the best for our party. And we're dealing in the situation of a constitutional crisis where the Supreme Court has just handed down this decision that moves us much closer to a constitutional monarchy than a constitutional democracy. And Donald Trump and his forces continue to attack the basic pillars of our democratic institutions all across the country.

So, right now, President Biden is obviously hearing from a lot of people. He's about to meet with the governors. He's heard from members of Congress, as you've said, on all sides of the issue. And he obviously has a very heavy decision to make, but he won the delegates. And so he's in a situation where he gets to make that decision. But I do think that we don't have a lot of time for him to make that decision and we, you know, wish him Godspeed in his deliberations.

Meantime, we are up against the forces of true monarchy and authoritarianism and reaction in the country.

BROWN: Let me stop you there because I do hear that from a lot of Democrats. Look at the stakes with Donald Trump, in their view, taking over the White House. You clearly are very concerned in line of the Supreme Court.

RASKIN: And it's not just Trump, it's the Supreme Court itself.

BROWN: The Supreme Court itself. Okay, so let's just stop there then. Then do you believe, given the stakes in your view, that President Biden will win in November, as he says? Do you believe him? Do you believe that will happen if he stays as the nominee?

RASKIN: I believe -- look I've been up to 21 states. I'm campaigning all over the country. I believe that, The Democrats understand the stakes in this election. I think most independents understand it. Donald Trump packed and stacked and gerrymandered the Supreme Court deliberately and explicitly to overthrow Roe versus Wade and to steal the freedom that women have over their own lives and over their own families. That same Supreme Court has now gerrymandered things with respect to Donald Trump's trials that he basically has gotten a get out of jail free card.

BROWN: So, then do you believe that Biden will beat Trump in November in light of the debate? Do you believe, as you say that --

RASKIN: I think regardless of who our candidate is, whether it's President Biden, or it's Vice President Harris, or whoever it may be, we are in the fight of our lives and I don't take anything for granted. So, no, I would not say that we are definitely going to win, but I would say we've got a very strong shot of winning and we need to obviously hold this in.

BROWN: And did that calculation change a little bit post debate?

RASKIN: Well, yes, the debate has set people back for a week. I mean, it would be ridiculous not to acknowledge that. We've got to get the focus back on what the real issue is and what the real stakes are. We've got an enormously successful Democratic presidency with Joe Biden and with Kamala Harris, where we've done more than a trillion dollar investment in the infrastructure, in the roads, in the highways, in the bridges. We dramatically lowered prescription drug prices in the Medicare program. I had constituents paying $500 a month for their insulin shots. It's down to $35.

BROWN: I think, for Democrats, it's not about what he's done in his record in the past. It's looking ahead to the four years, right? It's looking ahead. Can he beat Trump in November? Can he serve another four years? Are you aware of any efforts or have been part of any conversations deliberating with your colleagues in the House to ask the president step aside or how you should handle this? Can you just help the viewers at home understand these conversations that are happening?

RASKIN: Well, look, the conversations that are happening in the Democratic Party are the same conversations that we're seeing people have on T.V. and have in restaurants and across the country. There's an enormous constellation of factors. There is the undeniable, tremendous success of the Biden administration in advancing so many of the things that America needs, including action on climate change and the environment, defense of women's rights, defense of the LGBTQ community. All of that is very much part of it, at the same time that we've got to deal with the particular dynamics of the debate and the dynamics of confronting a foe like Donald Trump, who's willing to lie about everything.

And so, you know, we have a nominee for a reason. We trust Joe Biden, and we're going to trust him to make the right decision about the crossroads that we're at right now, with the input of everybody who wants to speak either publicly or privately about what they think we need to do.


But I want to put it in the context of where America is going, because all over the world, the pro democracy, pro freedom forces are looking to President Biden, the Democratic Party to move us forward. Meantime, you've got Vladimir Putin and Xi and you've got Viktor Orban and Marcos, all of the dictators and the thugs and the strongmen are rooting for Donald Trump, as they always have, to undermine our Democratic institutions.

So, this is where we are. Those are the enormously serious stakes of this election and the tough moment that we're in.

BROWN: All right. Congressman Jamie Raskin, thank you for your time coming on. We appreciate it. I know it's a holiday week.

Coming up, we're going to take a closer look at what it would take to replace President Biden atop the Democratic Party's ticket.

Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.



BROWN: Any moment now, President Biden meets with Democratic governors as he tries to reassure allies he is still the best candidate to take on Donald Trump. But some Democrats are already gaming out potential ways to replace him as the party's nominee.

Brian Todd has been digging into those scenarios for us. So, Brian, what would it take to swap out President Biden for another Democrat atop the ticket?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Pamela, experts say there would be potential uncertainty. The process could get messy and nasty, but there is a path for putting someone else at the top of the ticket.


TODD (voice over): If President Biden leaves the race, analysts say it would almost certainly have to be his decision to bow out voluntarily.

ZOLAN KANNO-YOUNGS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, THE NEW YORK TIMES: It's unlikely that if Joe Biden does not step down voluntarily that there would be a different nominee at the top of the ticket.

TODD: If he doesn't voluntarily leave, someone in the Democratic Party could try to replace him by introducing an open nomination process at the Democratic National Convention in August. But that scenario is unlikely.

Still, even if the president decides on his own to quit the race, the process for replacing him is uncertain and somewhat messy.

PROF. LARRY SABATO, CENTER FOR POLITICS, UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA: The primaries are over. The caucuses are over. You can't redo the primaries or caucuses. You can't elect new delegates.

TODD: If Biden steps aside before the convention, it could turn the convention itself into a free-for-all, or at least make it full of intrigue. Names of replacements would be put forward and the roughly 3,900 Democratic delegates from across the country would decide who to vote for as the nominee.

SABATO: Oh, it's up to the delegates. In the end, it's up to them.

TODD: President Biden won almost all of those 3,900 delegates in the primaries. But does he have control over who they support if he's out of the race?

KANNO-YOUNGS: It's not like Joe Biden can say, okay, I'm stepping down. All of you delegates that signed on for me have to now support this other candidate. That's not how it works. Those delegates would essentially be free to move in the way they want.

TODD: Like the days of old, backroom deals and lobbying could prevail at the convention, as potential nominees try to convince the delegates to get behind them.

In the end, how many of the 3,900 delegates would a candidate have to win at the convention to get the nomination?

ELAINE KARMACK, MEMBER, DNC RULES AND BYLAWS COMMITTEE: Ultimately, they would have to convince somewhat, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2,000-plus Democratic delegates to vote for them on a roll call vote.

TODD: If no candidate can convince roughly 2,000 delegates to vote for them in the first round, then additional so called super delegates, about 700 of them, comprised of party insiders and elected officials, are also allowed to join in the voting. It would all mean a late start for any candidate, including in the money race. If Vice President Kamala Harris won the nomination, she would presumably be able to use Biden's campaign war chest because her name is on all the filings. But any other candidate may have to raise their own money.

(END VIDEOTAPE) TODD (on camera): Now, what happens if President Biden, for some reason, leaves the race after the Democratic Convention? Experts say, in that unlikely event, the Democratic National Committee would convene and select the Democratic nominee for president on its own, after consulting with Democratic leadership in Congress and Democratic governors. Pamela?

BROWN: All right. Thanks so much for helping us better understand that process, Brian.

Just ahead, the Boston Globe Editorial Board just became the latest major American newspaper to call on President Biden to step aside from his re-election campaign. We're going to discuss right after this quick break.



BROWN: Breaking news, the Boston Globe Editorial Board is calling on President Biden to step aside from his campaign, this as we're learning new details about a potential succession plan if, a big if, Biden makes that call.

Let's get more insight from our Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein. Ron, I just want to take a step back and think about this moment we're in collectively as a nation. How big, how pivotal is this moment in terms of how the story will be written about this country?

RON BROWNSTEIN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it's an incredible moment where you have in Donald Trump a candidate who is more explicitly challenging the democratic small D tradition that we've known in this country for, you know, about 250 years than any presidential nominee before him. He was talking about setting up internment camps and using the Justice Department to prosecute his enemies, and purging the civil service and deploying federal force into blue states and cities over the objections of their mayors and governors.

And at that moment, as we face that kind of crossroads about what the structure of American government and democracy will look like, the Democratic Party is melting down behind a nominee, who I think there is a broad consensus in the party that Biden cannot recover from what voters saw last week, that it is virtually impossible for him to unring the bell.

But there remains enormous reluctance to express those doubts publicly or to pressure him in any way despite the stakes, which were only raised by that Supreme Court decision this week that functionally, you know, gave Trump a blank check and said it will be virtually impossible to hold him criminally liable if he is reelected almost no matter what he does, including the extreme scenarios Sotomayor talked about, such as assassinating a political rival.

BROWN: And what about the fact that now we're learning the Boston Globe Editorial Board is calling for him to step aside? That's the third newspaper editorial board to do so. How does that factor into this picture and the pressure mounting on President Biden?

BROWNSTEIN: Well, I think, you know, if there is pressure, it is going to come from elected officials. I was struck in my reporting. You know, if you look at the constituency groups and the Democratic Party, the environmental groups, the civil rights groups, the civil liberties groups, the abortion and women's rights groups and LGBTQ rights groups.


This election is existential for all of them in terms of what a Trump victory would mean for their agenda, but despite their great apprehension about whether Biden can recover, all of them have felt for various reasons, as I describe at "The Atlantic" today, that they can't go forward with those doubts.

And so, there's a lot of hope in the party that ultimately, the lever that will create more pressure on Biden is the concern among the Democratic congressional leaders about the prospects of a bad -- a very bad election if he cannot recover. You know, don't forget him -- a critical factor, there are seven Democratic senators, seats, Senate seats that Democrats must defend in states where Biden right now would probably lose all seven of them.

And in the last two presidential elections, 2016 and 2020, exactly one senator and either party out of 66 has won a Senate race in the state that vote the other way for president. So the hope is that ultimately that is the lever, you know, that those endangered Democrats in the House as well ultimately put pressure on the leaders for the ones who can put pressure on Biden.

BROWN: Ron Brownstein, thank you.

Just ahead, new details on whether Justice Department officials believe a president-elect can be criminally charged between the election and inauguration day, and how it could apply to Donald Trump.



BROWN: Well, there are new indications tonight that Donald Trump's legal troubles might not disappear even if he wins back the White House, at least until inauguration day in January of 2025.

Joining us now to discuss, our senior crime and justice reporter, Katelyn Polantz.

So, Katelyn, walk us through this. How are DOJ officials thinking about these Trump cases?

KATELYN POLANTZ, CNN SENIOR CRIME AND JUSTICE REPORTER: Well, at the Justice Department, you prosecute a case until somebody tells you to stop. So in this situation, Jack Smith has these two federal cases against Donald Trump. They continue on. If he were to win the presidency in November, they could continue

having these cases in court until likely if he were elected, he would take office, become the president and then very likely tell them to stop. And that's when it would be over. There are DOJ policies against prosecuting sitting president as well.

But in the meantime, along way to go until the election, Donald Trumps team, they're going to fight, fight, fight, the whole way to the end, and they know right now they have this Supreme Court opinion and we are getting reporting in -- today just on our team that they are very likely to try and challenge evidence that's being used in these cases.

There's a long road to trial in all of them. Now the sentencing in New York, a state case set for December, the federal cases potentially many hearings to come. A lot could happen, Pam.

BROWN: Yeah. Bring us a little bit more and into how the Trump team is using the Supreme Court immunity ruling to their advantage.

POLANTZ: Yeah, there's two different things that are likely going to be happening in the coming days the case in D.C., Judge Tanya Chutkan's case with Trump, where he challenged immunity. She's going to have to make sense of the opinion, cut out parts of the case see what the Justice Department wants to do.

That can't happen for 30 days but it will get back into her hands. There could be witnesses, hearings, arguments, all kinds of things there. And then in Florida, there are very likely to be a lot of Trump lawyers waving around this immunity decision there and saying let's look at this, too.


BROWN: So, in other words, you're going to be busy.

POLANTZ: Always, Pam.

BROWN: Always, always. All right. Katelyn Polantz, thank you so much.

And coming up, back to headlines on President Biden. The White House confirming he has not had a medical exam since the debate.

More on what we know and don't know about the president's health.



BROWN: Any moment now, Democratic governors visiting President Biden at the White House are likely to ask him serious questions about his mental fitness and his political future after his debate performance amplified concerns about his age.

Joining us now is CNN medical analyst, Dr. Jonathan Reiner.

I want to ask you about what the White House is saying. It told our MJ Lee, the president Biden hasn't had any medical exam since February. Does it raise a red flag to you that he didn't get re-evaluated after the debate performance that really shocked so many of us seeing that for the first time? Does that raise a red flag that perhaps they had seen that before because they're not re-evaluating him?

DR. JONATHAN REINER, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: Sadly, it's not surprising to me that the president didn't have a formal evaluation since February. He has a comprehensive exam once a year but the presence physician sees him almost every day or basically every day. So he has a continuous evaluation.

But what really surprising to me after really watching the precedent struggle mightily last week, that he didn't generate another evaluation of the president which suggests possibly that this is not new and that they've seen -- they've seen this before.

BROWN: So if you were the White House doctor and you had never seen this and then you suddenly see him on the stage, you would have said we got to do a reevaluation?

REINER: If this -- if this was -- this was a new event. But really what this prompts us to have to talk about is the health of both of these candidates. Certainly we need much more granularity about the health of the president after watching him really struggled through, through, through that debate.

And not see him much since then publicly and also, we know nothing about the health of the former president. Zero. There has been no disclosure of his health in any meaningful way going back to before he became the nominee in 2016. And so, on both --

BROWN: I think that's a really important point. I mean, look, you're right. Look at their ages, right? But the reality is, not only are they candidate, both candidates, but Joe Biden is the current president.

I mean, he is in the White House right now as well and he is the one with the debate performance that really showed concerning signs for the American public frankly.

And I'm wondering the White House is saying they're trying to explain this or write this off as he had a cold and he was jet-lagged. The jetlagged thing is new today from the White House.

Is that a sufficient explanation to you? Does that explain what you saw on stage or do you see that as perhaps amplified his age, amplifying the fact that he could have just had a cold and the jetlagged? How do you see it?

REINER: And no symptoms for cold. He had no -- it didn't look like he had an upper respiratory symptoms. He wasn't sneezing, he wasn't -- he wasn't coughing and his international travel was two weeks -- two weeks before.

I mean, I know what jet lag is. I was in Japan yesterday. So I really know what jet-lagged is like. That didn't look like -- like that with the president. It looked like something -- something else.

Look, were not vetting are these candidates for the next four months? We're vetting these candidates for the next four years. And with great respect and with great sadness, it was hard to watch that debate and understand that the president could be -- shoulder -- he really shoulder the heavy burden of the presidency and deal with the issues of the United States for four years.

And if that was just a one-off event, then great. If it represents a chronic problem, then we need to hear about that regardless, I think we need to get more data from both from the White House and from the Trump campaign about the health of their candidates.

BROWN: All right. Dr. Jonathan Reiner, thanks for coming on, especially after Japan and your trip, just going back here.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.