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Pope, Trump offer support to parents of dying child; US officials meet to discuss possible North Korea options; Security heightened for July 4th events on National Mall; I didn't have a "blonde" on beach, say Chris Christie; Star to sand, what happened to Chris Christie's career?; Trump, Putin to hold full-fledged bilateral meeting; Intense battle for final few blocks of Mosul

Aired July 4, 2017 - 11:30   ET


PAMELA BROWN, CNN ANCHOR: Well, the fate of a terminally ill child has garnered global attention and has captured the hearts of two of the most powerful people in the world -- Pope Francis and President Trump.

The Pope's pediatric hospital has offered to take in an 11-month-old Charlie Gard, in an effort to stop a London hospital from shutting off his life support.

Now, this comes after the European Court of Human Rights ruled that it would not intervene in the decision of London's Great Ormond Hospital to end life support for the baby who has a rare genetic disease.

President Trump also weighed in tweeting, if we can help little Charlie Gard as per our friends in the UK and the Pope, we would be delighted to do so.

CNN's Diana Magnay joins me now from London. So, Diana, the president of the Vatican's hospital released a statement. What did she say?

DIANA MAGNAY, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: She did. I'll read it to you. She says, "we know that this is a desperate case. And apparently, there is no effective therapy. We are close to his parents with our prayers. And if they wish so, we are ready to welcome their child in our structure for the time he has left to live."

Now, Charlie Gard's case has been to a lengthy legal battle here in the UK, all the way through the High Court, the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court. His parents have been pushing for him to get treatments in the US. It's a very experimental form of treatment.

And the courts and the European Court of Human Rights have all ruled that it is actually in Charlie's best interest not to have that experimental treatment because it won't necessarily improve his quality of life and that he should be allowed to die with dignity.

So, really, these last-ditch efforts coming from, for example, the Vatican Hospital, President Trump also offering to do what he could. Well, you do wonder whether they really amount to anything, given the fact that, at the very highest levels, there is now no legal recourse. And you can be sure, Pam, that however harsh it sounds, Great Ormond Street treats very, very ill babies and patients all the time. They will be putting in place a proper end-of-life plan that the parents can bear to make the withdrawal of treatment in Charlie's case as humane as it possibly can be where it is in Charlie's interest first and foremost that the process goes, but also bringing the family along too. Pam?

BROWN: Really, our heart goes out to that family. Diana Magnay, thank you.

And we have more on our breaking news. The Trump administration holding an emergency meeting on options for North Korea after Kim Jong-un launches a new missile.

Plus, New Jersey is back open for business, but Chris Christie is not backing down amid criticism of its family trip to a closed beach, saying the outcry is much ado about nothing.


GOV. CHRIS CHRISTIE (R), NEW JERSEY: Now, if they have flown that plane over that beach and I was sitting next to a 25-year-old blonde in that beach chair next to me, that's a story.



[11:37:42] BROWN: Well, President Trump's national security team is holding an emergency meeting today to discuss North Korea.

CNN has learned security, military and diplomatic officials will discuss what options are available if it's confirmed that North Korea did in fact conducted intercontinental ballistic missile test. Now, if that is confirmed, an official tells CNN the goal will be for President Trump to approve a measured response.

Joining me now to discuss is Charles Kupchan. He is a former senior director for European affairs for the White House Security Council under President Clinton and a senior fellow with the Council on Foreign Relations.

Charles, great to have you on. The first question is this is yet another test, the 11th from North Korea since President Trump took office. How significant is this?

CHARLES KUPCHAN, FORMER SENIOR DIRECTOR FOR EUROPEAN AFFAIRS, WHITE HOUSE NSC: Well, it's particularly significant if as North Korea has suggested that this is a missile with a new range, an intercontinental ballistic missile, which could hit Alaska, if not the continental United States.

We don't know if that's the case. I think one of the reasons that the NSC is meeting today is to look at the data, to figure out whether indeed this is a new range; if so, what steps should we take? It's not an emergency, in the sense that North Korea doesn't have the ability, even if they have the range to put a nuclear warhead on the missile, don't have the ability yet to put it on a reentry vehicle that won't burn up, but this would be crossing a new threshold.

And perhaps the administration may want to take some steps such as increasing force levels, sending a shot across the bow to Pyongyang that it's not going to accept this new step forward.

BROWN: Because in that sense, it is an emergency because clearly North Korea is not going to stop its efforts toward what you pointed out, creating that nuclear warhead, and there is this emergency meeting today, happening on this holiday considering options to respond to this potential test that the US is trying to confirm.

Take us inside that meeting. What would the options be that the US is weighing right now?

KUPCHAN: Well, I think in the short term, it would really be about a symbolic increase in force levels, to do something to send a signal to North Korea that the United States is responding forcefully.

[11:40:04] And the meeting itself, to some extent, sends that signal because the North Koreans know this is July 4. Everything else being equal, the people in the Situation Room would rather be with their families.

I also think there's one other conversation that's taking place in the Sit Room, and that is what should President Trump say when he'd go to the G20 in a few days to Mr. Putin, to Xi Jinping, the head of China.

What steps can the great powers collectively take to tighten the noose around North Korea. No question, they are discussing the talking points, the steps that Trump can take when he sees these foreign leaders at the end of the week.

BROWN: And that leads me to my next question because the leaders of China and Russia met. And if you look at their statement that they released today, in response to North Korea's potential tests, they basically are boxing out the US and President Trump.

Basically, they're saying that they want to do this together. What do you make of that, this triangle?

Russia and China have always used third-party issues like North Korea to try to form a united front against the United States. Putin, in particular, is interested in pushing back against the US despite Trump's initial desire to forge a better relationship with him.

I don't think that there's a whole lot of there-there. China and Russia are not coming together to form a new alliance against the United States, but I do think they have leverage over North Korea, and that's why it's so important for Trump to impress upon both of those powers that they need to step up to the plate and tighten the pressure on Pyongyang.

Otherwise, as Trump said to Xi Jinping yesterday on the phone, the US may be pressed to act unilaterally.

BROWN: All right, Charles Kupchan. Thank you very much for breaking it down for us.


BROWN: And still ahead, final preparations are underway as thousands prepare to take in the annual Independence Day concerts at the National Mall. We're going to take you there live.

Plus, from rising star to an empty beach, what happened to Chris Christie's once promising career? We'll discuss the governor who has been Trump before Trump.


BROWN: Well, happy Fourth of July. In just a few hours from now, the annual A Capitol Fourth Independence Day Concert will kick off in Washington and huge crowds are expected to gather and security preparations are already set up.

I want to bring in CNN's Dianne Gallagher as she joins me now from the Mall. Dianne?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Pam. Yes. And right now, not too many people out on the Mall. A couple taking pictures of the monument and stuff, but most of them lining the streets of Washington for the parade, which began a couple of minutes ago.

Security is rather tight this year specifically. Ten different checkpoints around the Mall for the different events out in this area.

The Capitol Police and Park Police taking into consideration some of those soft target vehicle attacks that have been occurring across the globe over the past year. They wouldn't go into detail on those differences, but I can tell you, we've noticed some changes, specifically additional fencing that's been put around in this area.

Anyone who wants to see the Capitol Fourth concert, starting around 8 o'clock, or the fireworks, which roughly 0.5 million people show up to see, have to go through one of ten security checkpoints. They can't bring in coolers. They're going to search every single bag.

They say they want everyone to have a good time. This is a major destination for Fourth of July festivities for people all across the world. But they want to make sure that there is an element of heightened safety here.

And so, because of those checkpoints, Pam, people have to expect long lines to get in. They will close those security checkpoints right before the fireworks to make sure people can get in.

And I can tell you, even though there aren't too many people out on the mall right now, plenty of officers walking around and checking the situation out. Pam? BROWN: And it will be full later today. That's for sure. Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much.

Well, public beaches in New Jersey are back open today, just in time for the holiday. Governor Chris Christie ordering all state beaches and parks to reopen this morning after an eleventh-hour budget deal was reached, ending a government shutdown.

So, beachgoers can get their tan today, but Governor Christie's reputation is sure getting tarnished after pictures showed him and his family relaxing on a beach that he ordered close to the public. And the governor is defending his actions again and slamming the media's reaction.


CHRISTIE: Sitting there with a baseball hat and shorts and a T-shirt, talking to my wife. Now, if they had flown that plane over that beach and I was sitting next to a 25-year-old blonde in that beach chair next to me, that's a story.


BROWN: Joining me now Caitlyn Huey-Burns from RealClearPolitics. Hi, Caitlyn. Nice to have you on.


BROWN: Thank you. Same to you. What has happened to Chris Christie's career? I mean, there was a time when Republicans were begging him to run for president just a few years ago. And now this, his approval rating is at an all-time low. What's going on here?

HUEY-BURNS: Right. It's been remarkable actually to watch Chris Christie's kind of fall from political grace. Just over the past two years, as you mentioned, he was a presidential candidate and was known for his kind of tough-talking style.

He was kind of the Donald Trump in terms of rhetoric before Donald Trump. And I remember covering him at various stops throughout the campaign, particularly in New Hampshire. And he was lauded for that telling it like it is style.

He is now facing a 15 percent approval rating in the State of New Jersey, which is also pretty stunning, considering that he was once a model for Republicans for winning blue states like New Jersey and by the margins that he did.

And we're talking about Chris Christie on the beach. Remember, just a years ago, he was known for really taking the lead as it pertained to Hurricane Sandy. Remember, he was under criticism, of course, for embracing then-President Obama on those beaches, but that was reflective of his style then, which was to get things done.

Now, it looks like he just isn't really caring much about what the public thinks about this controversy.

BROWN: And as you pointed out, he had sort of been considered the Trump before Trump. So, why did the brash and blunt style work for Trump, but not for Christie now?

HUEY-BURNS: Right. That's a great question. And I think that several candidates in the Republican Party were asking themselves the same question. Christie really resonated with people on a personal and an emotional level, talking about the opiate crisis, for example, and other things.

But then, he went and endorsed Donald Trump after he left -- after Chris Christie left the race, and that was seen by many Republicans at the time as kind of a turn against the party.

[11:50:05] Chris Christie was the chairman of the Republican Governors' Association. He was pretty steeped in the Republican Party and then embraced this kind of outsider, who was in many ways running against the very establishment that he had -- Chris Christie had kind of represented in some ways.

So, certainly, a fall from grace. And now, it's interesting to see that the person, the woman that wants to replace Chris Christie after this term is also being very critical of him, and she's a Republican.

BROWN: While I have you here, Caitlyn, I want to turn to the Putin- Trump meeting this week.

Both sides, as we can expect, will spin this, of course, but what are you looking for after this formal sit-down between the two leaders?

HUEY-BURNS: Well, the news certainly today is that this will be a one-on-one meeting, more programs than we had anticipated, not the side conversation.

Of course, a lot of people in the US will be looking to see whether he does bring up election meddling, the Russians' meddling in the election. That is top of mind here as far as the investigation in the US are concerned. But the White House is talking about really talking tough on Syria. We'll see if that happens.

And also, news today involving North Korea and China and Russia. And we'll see what comes of that.

So, I think people here are looking to see what kind of posture Donald Trump takes to Vladimir Putin in their first one-on-one meeting. I think if there are successful talks on those two issues, perhaps that might overshadow the concerns about election meddling.

But there is concern among Republicans here that the president has not taken this -- has not acknowledge, to the extent that Republicans have, the extent of Russian meddling in the election. And the president has been criticized back here at home really in a bipartisan way for not taking this as seriously because we know, according to testimony and hearings and such, that they are continuing to do it in other countries and they are perhaps -- and people are anticipating they'll do it again in 2018 and 2020.

BROWN: Yes. That is certainly the expectation. Caitlyn Huey-Burns, thank you.

HUEY-BURNS: Thank you, Pam.

BROWN: Well, an eerie photo taken during a vigil for a missing Illinois college student, police announcing that man right here amongst the mourners is the person who kidnapped the victim.


[11:55:39] BROWN: Well, Iraqi forces are locked in an intense battle with ISIS as they fight to reclaim the final few blocks of Western Mosul.

CNN's Nick Paton Walsh is right on the frontlines as the Iraqi military makes critical new gains into the old city, while facing immense danger at every turn.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): From here to the river is all ISIS has left of Mosul and this is the story of how it fell on the streets around the mosque they once held sacred but then destroyed.


Brazilian photographer Gabriel Chaim is on foot with Iraqi special forces. Every footfall could hit a booby trap. An eerie silence holds in just about everything, endless soot.


The streets empty and each human they meet is either desperate to escape or the enemy. In the alleyways, two men approached them.


One is carrying a bomb. They rush in to help their wounded.


A second man carrying a much larger device. Gabriel struggles to breathe. The dust also means they can't see if there are any other bombers or where their three dead and a dozen wounded colleagues lie.

The advance continues up to and around the mosque --


And civilians, human shields for weeks, stoop under gunfire or are even oblivious to it. Some never leave the underground. Loud, constant blasts in the darkness. Unable to walk, the first man feigns ignorance, but soon admits ISIS

are on the roof and have mined the entire street. The interrogator later tells his team the man is himself ISIS.

For the past week, the desperate rush to life had continued. The U.N. estimated 150,000 people were trapped here, but in the end, nobody had any idea or how many lie left behind them in the rubble.

"Water, water, I'm dying," she screams, her lips white. In crippling heat and panic, pray we never know thirst like this or what it is like to carry your family out lifeless on a cart. This is his mother.

"For God's sake, help me carry him," he cries. They try, running to the closest point in the narrow street a vehicle can reach. "Stop the blood loss," they plead. It's unclear if the boy survived.

Even when this tract of dust is cleared of ISIS, the killing in Iraq's fractured society won't stop and her private hell of memories won't suddenly be washed away.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN, Mosul


BROWN: Thank you to Nick Paton Walsh for telling that important story.

So, will ISIS come up during the president's meeting this week with Vladimir Putin? All eyes are on the sit-down as we learn the Trump administration is right now holding an emergency meeting on what to do about North Korea after Kim Jong-un launched another missile test.

Putin and the Chinese president leaving the US out of their talks on a possible solution about the situation there.

John King picks up our special coverage with "Inside Politics" right now.

JOHN KING, CNN HOST, INSIDE POLITICS: Thank you, Pam. And welcome to "Inside Politics". I'm John King. Thanks for sharing this special day with us.

President Trump is at his golf course in Northern Virginia this Fourth of July. He will welcome military families to the White House tonight and heads to Europe tomorrow for a big global economic summit.

There's important news today about the agenda there. Instead of a casual pull-aside, the first meeting between President Trump and the Russian President Vladimir Putin will be a more formal, more extended conversation.