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Protesters Demand Families Be Reunited; Thailand Cave Search; Mexico Elections; Trump Asks Saudis for Huge Boost in Crude Output; Iran Protests; New U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sworn In; 2018 World Cup. Aired 5-6a ET
Aired July 1, 2018 - 05:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE). No fear.
ANNA COREN, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Protesters rally in hundreds of U.S. cities, marching against President Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy.
Plus, rescue crews believe they're making progress in the search for the missing teen football team trapped inside a cave.
And later, Uruguay scores big in the World Cup, knocking out Ronaldo's Portugal for good. We're live in Moscow for your World Cup report.
Welcome to our viewers in the United States and around the world. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. This is CNN NEWSROOM.
COREN: In the U.S., public rage against the Trump administration's immigration policy is at a fever pitch. On Saturday protesters marched in hundreds of cities from coast to coast. Well, they chanted, "Families belong together," denouncing the zero tolerance immigration policy that led to the separation of more than 2,000 migrant children from their parents.
One of the largest rallies happened just steps away from the White House.
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COREN (voice-over): President Trump signed an executive order to reverse the separation policy last week and the government is under a deadline to reunite the migrant families. But the protesters say it's taking far too long.
Across the country, millions of people shared emotional stories and lent their music to the marches.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We must fight for the values that have made this country the beacon of hope. This cannot happen under our watch.
LEAH, DAUGHTER OF UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS: Even some 17 years later, I still remember how it felt when I first cried out for my parents and they couldn't answer. I am here as the voice for thousands of children without one.
AMERICA FERRERA, ACTOR: I am here as a human being --
FERRERA: -- with a beating heart who can feel pain, who understands compassion and who can easily imagine what it must feel like to struggle the way families are struggling right now.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: We need to rebuild our immigration system from top to bottom, starting by replacing ICE with something that reflects our morality.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: My father came to America at age 17 with $400 in his pocket. Now he has his own business, a wife, my sister and I, a nice house in a beautiful neighborhood, is a proud American citizen.
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, "HAMILTON": I'll make the American world safe and sound for you. We'll come of age with our nation. We'll bleed and fight for you. We'll make it right for you if we lay a strong enough foundation.
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COREN: In downtown Los Angeles, protesters gathered outside a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building. That's the organization responsible for rounding up undocumented immigrants and catching people who cross the border illegally.
A rising chorus of voices is demanding that agency be abolished. California lawmakers who attended the rally took aim at the Trump administration and even put themselves in the center of the immigration storm.
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SEN. KAMALA HARRIS, (D), CALIFORNIA: We are better than this.
HARRIS: We are better than having these detention facilities that are prisons where we house mothers who have been ripped from their breastfeeding children behind barbed wires. We are better than this.
HARRIS: When we have children being housed in cages crying for their mommies and daddies, we know we are better than this. (APPLAUSE)
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REP. MAXINE WATERS, (D), CALIFORNIA: I know that there are those who are talking about censuring me, talking about kicking me out of Congress, talking about shooting me, talking about hanging me.
All I have to say is this, if you shoot me, you better shoot straight. There's nothing like a wounded animal.
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COREN: Well, in Chicago, protesters encouraged each other to fight back against policies they think are unjust.
COREN: Senator Dick Durbin told CNN's Ryan Young that the best way for Americans to do that is to exercise their democratic rights.
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SEN. DICK DURBIN (D), ILLINOIS: I'm asking people across the United States, voters, participate. Be part of this election. Don't stay home and curse the television. Sorry. But come on out. Use your citizen's right to vote. That's the most important thing.
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COREN: Besides blaming the Trump administration, demonstrators lay some of the blame for the separation of migrant families on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency or ICE as it's known.
This was the scene in McAllen, Texas, the town right on the U.S. border, where one of the agency's processing centers sits. Some protesters say migrants there are being treated worse than animals.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, for one, they're not animals because anybody who loves animals wouldn't even treat them the way the humans are being treated now. So for the president, make a difference.
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COREN: In Atlanta, Georgia, crowds marched with symbolic props, using dolls in cages to represent detained children still in immigration facilities.
And in Portland, Oregon, at least five people were injured during confrontations with police Saturday. Demonstrators and federal officers have been clashing there today, so much so that the ICE agency had to temporarily shut down its office there last week. Protesters also marched just a few miles away from President Trump's golf course in New Jersey. The White House is keeping quiet about the immigration rallies across the U.S. But President Trump spent part of the day tweeting about them, sticking to his zero tolerance policy.
He said, quote, "When people come into our Country illegally, we must IMMEDIATELY escort them back out without going through years of legal maneuvering."
CNN's Boris Sanchez has more from Bedminster, New Jersey.
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The White House not putting out an official on-the-record response Saturday to our questions about the nationwide protest against the president's immigration policy.
President Trump himself did weigh in on immigration via Twitter early on Saturday morning, bashing Democrats, writing that they wanted to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement, suggesting at one point that they are an open borders party and drawing a line between the restructuring of ICE, that some Democrats, like New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand are calling for, and the abolishment of all police, quite a leap for the president to make.
No response to questions about the protesters that were near his property in Bedminster, New Jersey. According to organizers, some 300 or 400 protesters gathered at a library some 3 miles from his property. Unclear if the president was aware that they were there, trying to send a message to him.
We do know the president has kept busy this weekend. Initially, he told reporters on Friday that he would spend the weekend interviewing one or two possible nominees for the Supreme Court, following the announcement from Justice Anthony Kennedy earlier this week that he would be retiring.
The White House on Saturday night put out a statement, saying that the president was continuing conversations with allies and with White House counsel Don McGahn over that possible replacement but would not confirm that any of those meetings took place.
We should note that President Trump on Friday told reporters that he had dwindled (sic) down an initial list of 25 names to just five, though he would be interviewing with six or seven candidates -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president in Bedminster, New Jersey.
COREN: Let's get some expert analysis from Inderjeet Parmar, he teaches of international politics at City University of London.
Great to have you with us.
INDERJEET PARMAR, CITY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Good morning. COREN: Let's start with those incredible emotional scenes we're seeing across the United States. Crowds estimated from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands. People are angry. They want, firstly, those children who were separated from their parents to be reunited.
But they also want a more humane immigration policy.
Is the White House listening?
INDERJEET PARMAR, CITY UNIVERSITY OF LONDON: Well, I feel the White House is being forced to listen to a degree. And I think the reversal of the executive order about separating children from their mothers and so on, that reversal last week indicates that they basically have to listen; otherwise, they're going to lose core support as well.
You'll recall, something 40 percent of Republicans over the age of 50 were opposed to that policy, too. So I think President Trump has got to listen to those protesters but I think he's going to try to work his way in so that he doesn't lose that edge, which he has among Republicans on this kind of question.
COREN: Let's talk about the reunification of those families. Obviously, there was that issue by a federal judge earlier this week, saying that those children must be reunited with their --
COREN: -- parents within the next 30 days. The White House has said that's going to be difficult.
What does that say as to the administration's plans to actually reunite these children with their parents?
PARMER: It suggests that they're going to take a very long time. They're going to drag their feet. These immigration cases can take many months, sometimes longer. And I think what they're doing is they're saying they're going to do it with all due speed or whatever.
But I think they're basically going to carry on the policy of detaining children. They may be with their families if they can find them and reunite them. But they're going to be detaining whole families, including babies as well.
So it's really a continuation of a very, very draconian set of policies, which sees all immigrants -- and particularly undocumented ones -- effectively as a security issue rather than just people who are really desperate and often applying for asylum or refugee status.
COREN: Isn't the problem also the lack of transparency about this program?
I mean, you mentioned babies. More than 2,000 children, some of them babies, being separated from their parents. I mean, it doesn't make sense. PARMER: It doesn't make sense in that, if you're a human being with sensibilities but it does make sense if you look at the longer history of American immigration policy and its whole redefinition as a security issue.
And President Trump has ramped up the entire rhetoric but the American people haven't really deeply changed their minds about immigrants. They're supportive of greater levels of immigration and those who want to keep it the same or increase it are something like 70 percent of the population, according to Pew reports.
It does make that policy that Trump is perceiving make sense in the sense that he's inheriting it from the previous administration, which deported a lot of people. And they've been increasingly integrating ICE into local, state and federal law enforcement.
That these immigrants are a security problem and I think, in that regard then, it does make kind of sense. It's not humane but it does make political sense overall.
COREN: Let me ask you this, how much of a factor, how much of an issue is this going to play at the midterms in November?
PARMER: That's a good question. I think both parties are steering a very, very difficult course here. President Trump has got to try to propose the idea that he's against illegals and so on but without being cruel to them in any way in order to retain the Republican vote, which he probably will retain on the whole.
The Democrats have got an even more ambiguous position because a lot of these policies have been inherited from the Obama administration. And they're trying to suggest that maybe ICE is the symbolic problem.
So if you can get rid of ICE or reform ICE or whatever, then they will be able to get a victory and have a more humane policy. I think both parties are going to try to play this issue in November. And both of them are trying to galvanize their electorates to come out and vote in their favor.
I think it's going to be a big issue. Which way it goes in the end, it's very, very difficult to say. And I certainly can't say at this time.
COREN: Inderjeet Parmar, many thanks for your insights and thank you for joining us from London.
PARMER: Thank you very much.
COREN: Well, across the United States, people are demanding humane treatment and even bureaucratic kindness for the migrants seeking asylum. We'll have more on the rallies that swept the U.S. on Saturday.
Plus, heavy rains triggered flash flooding and power outages in Iowa. Your latest forecast after this.
COREN: Despite record high temperatures, protesters in Chicago rallied against President Trump's immigration policy. The city's fire department helped cool the crowds by spraying water from their trucks.
This heat wave is expected to continue through until next week across the central U.S. and into the Northeast. The weather service is warning temperatures will be 10 to 20 degrees above normal. Meanwhile, heavy rain and flash flooding have devastated parts of the U.S. state of Iowa.
COREN: More than a week on, Thailand is not giving up the search for a missing youth football team. Officials said on Saturday divers are closing in on a spot where the team may have taken shelter. It's believed the 12 boys and their coach were trapped in a flooded cave system last weekend.
Their plight has sparked an international rescue effort. But heavy rains hampered the search. Some of the water has now receded and rescuers are pushing on. CNN's Nikhil Kumar is covering the story for us from India. He joins us from New Delhi.
Nikhil, we got word in the last hour that a helicopter has been sent up to survey an area up on the hill where it can drop heavy equipment. And then we heard from the governor of Chiang Rai earlier, talking about the multi-pronged approach they're going about to find this team. Tell us more.
NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: So Anna, as you said, the cave system which is in Northern Thailand is in an area that has been --
KUMAR: -- hit by some very heavy rainfall over the last week, that this football team, 12 boys, their football coach, that they've been missing. The rainfall has complicated efforts. As you said, the rain has receded more recently but caves the themselves, there's a lot of floodwater in there. It's mixed up with mud. It's very dark.
So they're trying a number of approaches. One is trying to enter and exit through the mouths of the cave. As you would imagine, the water has complicated that very much. So that's very hard. It's very dark inside. There's concern about the availability of oxygen.
The other thing they're trying is to find other ways to get inside the network by looking at chimneys. That hasn't succeed much yet. They're trying to drill drainage channels, to drain the water from the caves and finally trying to see if it's possible to drill directly into the walls of the cave.
Now that's very hard; this is very thick rock. But that's one of the things that they're also looking at.
The letup in the rain, as you said, has allowed a team of divers to make progress towards the elevated spot known as Pattaya Beach. I should clarify that this is not the tourist spot; this is just what the cavers call this particular area inside this cave network.
They're making their way there in the hope that this is where the soccer team and their coach have been seeking shelter. That's the hope -- Anna.
Nikhil, we know this is a massive operation. There are a thousand people involved. But it's those Navy SEALs, the divers that are trying to navigate that labyrinth of caves. Tell us about the dangers that they're experiencing.
KUMAR: Well, the dangers, Anna, are mostly to do with the water. The water means that parts of the cave, it's very dark. There's a lot of mud around. So they're going in with these very heavy oxygen tanks. The divers we were talking about who are making the progress to this elevated area, as they go in, they go in with oxygen tanks at every 25 meters. That's to protect them.
So all of this, the dark conditions, the lack of oxygen, the water, all of this is making progress very hard. As you say, the rescue effort in totality has been gradually ramped up over the past eight days. More than 1,000 people, teams from around the world, most of them Thai.
But we also have U.S. military teams there and we have U.K. cave experts, Chinese teams there and Australian teams there. Everyone trying to locate these 12 boys, their coach, find out where they are and hopefully evacuate them.
Yesterday the rescue teams conducted evacuation drills, preparing themselves for the eventuality that they do find the boys and the coach. So everything is moving forward. They're pressing on. It's been eight days but they're not giving up -- Anna.
COREN: Eight days, it's quite incredible, isn't it?
And the Navy SEAL Chief, he said they will not stop looking until they find them. Nikhil Kumar, many thanks.
Well, in less than four hours, the polls will open in Mexico. Among those on the ballot for president, former Mexico city mayor Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador; Ricardo Anaya from the National Action Party. There's Jose Antonio Meade from the ruling PRI party and independent Jaime Rodriguez.
Mexico has presidential elections every six years. The winner serves just one term. There are also 3,400 state and local seats up for grabs, including 128 senators and 500 members of the Chamber of Deputies. Final results are expected late Sunday night or early Monday.
The election comes against the backdrop of rampant violence and crime in Mexico. Yet another journalist was killed on Friday. Jose Guadalupe Chan is the seventh journalist killed in Mexico so far this year and that's just the tip of a bloody homicidal iceberg.
According to the government's most recent report, there have been more than 20,000 homicides so far in 2018. May was the deadliest month in Mexico since the government has been releasing data.
And it comes after the country's homicide rate last year was the highest to date, indicating that 2018 is set to break another gruesome record. Our Rafael Romo has the details.
RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SR. LATIN AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): Crime, corruption --
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (Speaking Spanish).
ROMO (voice-over): -- gang violence. Trails of blood staining Mexico as the country votes in its largest election ever.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's worrying. So much violence. So many dead. So many people dying that had nothing to do with the violence. We all worry about that.
ROMO (voice-over): Organized crime in Mexico has become more deadly over the last few years. 2017 saw more than 29,000 homicides, the most killings recorded since officials began tracking the data.
And 2018 is on track to set another grim milestone; more than 20,506 have been killed since the start of the year. Others have simply gone missing. It's a gruesome trend, sending some to take their chances at the border.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): It's more dangerous where I live. It's more dangerous there than in comparison to what could happen here at the border.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Well, in all truth, I am scared. I have come with my family to see what happens. In the end, we're going to give it a try.
ROMO (voice-over): Locals say widespread corruption has created a vacuum for cartels and organized crime to proliferate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): A lot of businesses are closing down because there is no security. The owners are scared they will be kidnapped or murdered over the payment of extortions.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Many companies have had losses this year. Talking to our colleagues, robberies with grocery store owners, with people in the food industry, take place from three to four times a week, depending on the company.
ROMO (voice-over): Sunday closes a brutal campaign season, according to risk analysis group Entelect: 132 candidates or politicians have been murdered since last September, ahead of an election where thousands of seats are at stake. Mexico's security crisis is a central issue, with the most high-profile voices calling for more accountability.
GAEL GARCIA BERNAL, ACTOR: The stakes are pretty high. This is a moment -- this is a moment to overturn things. And I don't want to go into my 40s thinking that I'm going to have systematic violence, systematic impunity in my country.
ROMO (voice-over): Rafael Romo, CNN.
COREN: Coast to coast, immigration protests take place across the United States. We'll hear powerful words from a young girl who knows the fear of losing her undocumented parents all too well.
Plus, the U.S. president makes a big request of the Saudi king and says the king agreed. But that's not quite accurate. We'll explain what's going on after the break.
COREN: Welcome back to our viewers in the United States and around the world. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren. The headlines this hour.
COREN: Well, the Families Belong Together rallies joined the emotional voices of millions of Americans who call President Trump's immigration policies cruel. CNN's Polo Sandoval reports.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): These are the rallying cries heard across the country Saturday.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Where are the kids?
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Protesters led by immigrants rights groups, marching in masses with a message for President Trump, eliminate his zero tolerance policy, calling for the prosecution of people crossing the border illegally.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The fact that my own family would have difficulty coming across the border, if they needed to seek asylum for any reason, chills me to the bone.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): In New York, a mile and a half march from Manhattan to Brooklyn, a symbolic moment. The head of the group paused in the middle of the Brooklyn Bridge, looking towards Lady Liberty, reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: ... under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Speakers at podiums from coast to coast demanding children be reunited with their parents.
LIN-MANUEL MIRANDA, "HAMILTON": We're here because there's parents right now who can't sing lullabies to their kids.
ALICIA KEYS, SINGER: This is all of our fight because, if it can happen to any child, it can happen to my child and your child and all of our children.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): In the nation's capital, a 12-year-old daughter of an undocumented family sent a message to children still in the care of the government.
LEAH, DAUGHTER OF UNDOCUMENTED IMMIGRANTS: I want to tell kids at the border and all over the country not to give up and fight for their family. We are all human. And deserve to be loved and cared for. We are children.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Fiery Democratic senator Elizabeth Warren also spoke to the masses in Massachusetts.
SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN (D), MASSACHUSETTS: This is about babies scattered all across this country. This is about mamas who want their children back.
WARREN: President Trump seems to think that the only way to have immigration rules is to rip parents from their families, is to treat rape victims and refugees like terrorists and to put children in cages.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Trump signed an executive order last week, reversing his administration's practice of separating families. But more than 2,000 children are still waiting to be reunited with their parents.
Though protests across the country remained peaceful, first responders in Washington treated dozens of demonstrators for heat-related emergencies.
For some marchers, their protest isn't over. They plan to make their voice heard come November during midterm elections.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I want people who want to come here, who want refuge in our country, to know that there are many, many citizens of the U.S. who do not agree with what is going on now.
SANDOVAL (voice-over): Polo Sandoval, CNN, New York.
COREN: Well, gasoline prices in the U.S. have been rising steadily since the beginning of the year. The cost of a gallon at the pump has been higher on average than anytime since late 2014. If the trend continues, it could --
COREN: -- become a political problem for the White House this fall. So President Trump is asking Saudi Arabia to do something about it: namely, dramatically increase its oil production by as much as 2 million barrels a day.
Our emerging markets editor, John Defterios, joins us from Abu Dhabi to explain why this is significant.
John, 2 million barrels a day. The Saudis have since said that number is not correct.
Why would Trump get this wrong?
JOHN DEFTERIOS, CNN EMERGING MARKETS EDITOR: Well, welcome to the world of oil and geopolitics and the pressure being applied to Saudi Arabia.
Let's confirm, yes, there was a phone call. Yes, they did talk about oil production. But there seems to be two distinct interpretations of how much Saudi Arabia committed to here.
The president has leaned on Saudi Arabia to put more oil on the market because prices are rising. And he suggested in a tweet that the king agreed. But thereafter, there was a statement from the White House, suggesting that King Salman said they have 2 million barrels of capacity. What they can do and what they will do are two different matters right now.
First and foremost, Saudi Arabia has always maintained this idea of market stability, very important that prices don't spike up because it kills off demand. And they don't want prices dropping too fast because it kills off investment to maintain production and production capacity.
Now having said that, Saudi Arabia is adding 200,000 barrels a day this month to 11 million. That is a record, 11 million barrels a day for Saudi Arabia. Industry sources that I have spoken to suggest they can add a half a million to perhaps 700,000 barrels a day in the second half of 2018.
Getting to a million would be a stretch and then taking up all of that capacity to 2 million, many don't think it's possible this year. So what the president wants and what he gets from Saudi Arabia, even though it's a very tight ally, are two very different matters right now.
COREN: John, why does the president see such an urgency to add more oil?
DEFTERIOS: Well, you talked about it in your lead-in. The benchmark -- international benchmark is knocking on the door of $80 a barrel. It hit that level in May and that was the highest level since 2014.
When you get $80 as a benchmark for Brent as the grade, it means $4 a gallon for Americans. And we have midterm elections coming up in November. The president gets very twitchy with that level.
But the irony is here, oil prices are higher, Anna, because of the president's actions. He has put sanctions on Iran and Venezuela. Venezuela has already lost a half a million barrels a day of production in 2018. They'll lose more in the second half of the year.
The president's calling for importers of Iranian crude to stop those orders by November. So the Iranians export 2 million barrels a day. This would be a real shock to the market. This is why he's leaning on Saudi Arabia.
It gets a little bit more complex here; Saudi Arabia just signed an agreement a week ago Friday in Vienna, suggesting it will try to stabilize the market. But they're operating within the agreement.
So the Iranians are accusing the president as well of trying to break up the OPEC cartel. These are the major producers around the world. The president has sent three tweets attacking OPEC. The last one was a week ago Friday, when he says OPEC needs to do more.
And it was right at the end of the meeting, when I was in Vienna, it was extraordinary, his timing and the pressure he's putting on Saudi Arabia and the other oil producers, particularly Iran and Venezuela with those sanctions.
COREN: Who can make sense of what President Trump does these days?
John Defterios, thank you for putting that all into context for us. Good to see you.
Well, it began as a peaceful protest in Iran and then this happened.
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COREN (voice-over): At least one person was reported killed in the southern part of the country when demonstrators clashed with police. That's according to social media posts. You can hear what sounds like gunfire.
We should note CNN cannot verify the authenticity of the video. Police fired teargas to contain the crowd. Protesters then threw stones and other objects. The protests began over a shortage of clean water in the area, especially troubling in the hot Iranian summer. Temperatures there can reach at least 49 degrees Celsius or 120 degrees Fahrenheit. (END VIDEO CLIP)
COREN: Coming up after the break, President Trump gets a second chance to fill a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. But that's just icing on the cake compared to how he's already shaped the U.S. judiciary for the future.
Plus, don't cry for Messi, Argentina -- or maybe do. The superstar's lackluster World Cup exit. That's next.
COREN: Well, the Trump administration has finally filled a key diplomatic job. Retired Navy Admiral Harry Harris was sworn in as the ambassador to South Korea, a position that has been open since the Trump administration took office.
Secretary of state Mike Pompeo says Harris will work with him to achieve a denuclearized North Korea. But as one position gets filled, another opens up. The U.S. ambassador to Estonia is resigning because of President Trump's comments about and treatment of European allies.
James D. Melville is now the third ambassador in the last year to leave the State Department early.
Another seat opening up on the U.S. Supreme Court has been the talk of the nation. Not only can President Trump now reshape the high court for decades, he's also working overtime to reshape the lower courts that President Obama swayed to the Left. Our chief political correspondent Dana Bash has more from Washington.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. President --
DANA BASH, CNN SR. U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The whirlwind of Trump news can be overwhelming. Trade wars to an immigration crisis, Twitter rants, Russia...
TRUMP: No collusion. No nothing.
BASH (voice-over): -- a porn star. Yet under the radar a less sexy story, likely more lasting: President Trump's quiet effort to fill the federal bench.
TRUMP: We're appointing judges like I guess never before has anything happened like what we're doing on great conservative Republican judges.
BASH (voice-over): And it's not just the Supreme Court. BASH: There's an understandable focus on a Supreme Court vacancy. But the real work, maybe the more important work has been done at the level just under.
CARRIE SEVERINO, JUDICIAL CRISIS NETWORK: Absolutely. Yes. The Supreme Court -- the very, very top tier of cases, they do get there. But so many cases, 99-plus percent of the cases, they end up at the lower courts and they're decided there.
BASH: The Trump White House and Senate Republican --
BASH: -- leadership are moving fast to confirm conservative judges. After just a year and a half in office, the Senate has already confirmed 20 district court judges and 21 on the appellate court level. And of those 12 in 2017 alone, that is for one year more than any other president in American history.
Now how has this happened?
Something mostly missing from Washington right now and that's discipline.
There's a very specific structure in place to try to make these judicial nominees move quickly, right?
SEVERINO: Absolutely. This is a top, top priority for Don McGahn for the White House counsel's office. They all recognize that these are people who are going to sit on the court for a generation.
And they're going to be the ones -- you know, every legislative accomplishment you have, the executive orders, all of those end up being interpreted by the courts. So if you don't have someone who's going to actually fairly interpret what you're doing, you're wasting your time.
BASH (voice-over): No one understands that more than Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell. He's been criticized for staying silent about most of Trump's controversial behavior.
But McConnell is keeping his eye on this ball, taking advantage of a GOP president and Senate to confirm as many conservative judges as possible.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R), MAJORITY LEADER: President Trump's judicial nominations have reflected a keen understanding of the vital role that judges play in our constitutional order.
BASH (voice-over): The expedited pace has made for some stumbles, nominees who even GOP senators don't find qualified.
Remember this confirmation hearing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Have you ever tried a jury trial?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have not.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Civil?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Criminal?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bench?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
BASH: But don't expect the push to fill the federal bench to let up anytime soon. As we speak, there are 150 vacancies and 88 Trump nominees pending.
BASH (voice-over): For a president who likes to tend to his base, few things make them and, as a result, him happier than appointing conservative judges.
TRUMP: By the time we finish I think we will have the all-time record.
BASH (voice-over): Dana Bash, CNN, Washington.
COREN: Coming up, Messi's done. So is Ronaldo. But the World Cup is pushing on. A look at Sunday's football action -- ahead.
COREN: Two of football's biggest stars have been ousted at the World Cup. The knockout stage started Saturday and Lionel Messi and Argentina were the first to go. They ended a disappointing tournament with a 4-3 loss to France.
To make matters worse, Argentina once led 2-1. Well, after that it was time to bid farewell to Cristiano Ronaldo. His Portuguese squad fell 2-1 to Uruguay.
Both Messi and Ronaldo are in their early 30s. This could be their final World Cup with neither ever winning the tournament.
There are also two matches set for Sunday. Denmark takes on Croatia and Spain will face Russia. But we also have news about the ugly side of football. FIFA has just
handed down fines against Russia and Serbia. The penalties are worth tens of thousands of dollars and stem from fans' racist and offensive banners. For more on that but also a look at Sunday's games, CNN's Alex Thomas is in Moscow.
Alex, tell us more.
ALEX THOMAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Anna, let's start with Saturday's first two round of 16 games, we've still got six more to go. And the departure of Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo, having already seen Germany, the defending champions, crash out of the group stage. Two more massive shocks.
It's interesting. We've had a fortnight of sunny weather here in Moscow and suddenly the heavens have opened over the last 24 hours or so, perhaps you could say mirroring all of the misery of fans of Messi and Ronaldo, two megastars in the world game.
It's fascinating because they will go down as two of the greatest of all time when they hang up their boots for good sometime in the future. No word from them about their futures after the games on Saturday.
But nonetheless, they have still got this kind of gap in their glittering list of achievements, that neither have lifted a World Cup with their countries. The sort of players they're compared with previously, like Pele and Maradona, were both able to do that although other greats that haven't won a World Cup.
It's a hard thing to do. Only eight countries in the history of the World Cup, going back to 1930. But on the same day that we saw French teenager Kylian Mbappe shine for France, at the one end of the spectrum, at the other end of their careers, Messi and Ronaldo disappointing as they crashed out.
And it shows ultimately football is a team game and neither Argentina nor Portugal were good enough oust France or Uruguay -- Anna.
COREN: Alex, what about your picks for today's games?
Host Russia take on Spain in Moscow, where you are. Hope you've got a ticket. And Croatia line up against Denmark.
THOMAS: Yes, that Croatia-Denmark game kicking off 9 o'clock in the evening Moscow time at the Nizhny Novgorod. And it's maybe not one set the pulses racing amongst the neutral. Denmark have already conceded one goal. So they're going to try and keep it tight against Croatia, the fourth highest goal scorers at this World Cup.
Croatia littered with better players probably and definitely the favorites to go through. But there's no doubt the highlight match of the day is the one that hopefully I'm going to get along to a little bit later at the Luzhniki Stadium.
Spain, the 2010 champions, up against the host, Russia. They'll have huge support in that stadium that has a capacity at this World Cup of more than 77,000 people.
Some slightly negative news for Russia on the eve of the game, though, getting fined around 10,000 U.S. dollars for a discriminatory banner. Someone putting up a sort of Nazi symbol on a banner in their last group game against Uruguay.
Serbia also getting punished for something similar. And there are also fines handed out to Mexico and Morocco. Very small fines, a slap on the wrist stuff, but worth noting. So yes, Russia will have a huge task later, Anna. But if they can win --
THOMAS: -- knock out Spain at one of the pre-tournament favorites, it certainly will create another level of excitement here in a country that has always already shown itself to be good hosts with plenty of excitement, putting in to national fans, particularly here around the Red Square area.
COREN: I'm sure there are a lot of envious people looking at you, thinking, I wish I had his ticket. You enjoy the match. Alex Thomas, joining us there from Moscow, thank you.
Football superstars deserve super fans, so it's only fitting that Spain has this guy.
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COREN (voice-over): His name is Manolo. He's become an icon for his drumming. He's followed his team to 10 World Cups and says he's given up his business to follow them. Manolo is going to be on hand for Sunday's match against Russia. But it's not clear if he can bring his instrument. Regulations have prevented him from drumming at this tournament. But Spain has taken it up with FIFA.
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COREN: Got to love his dedication.
Well, thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Anna Coren in Hong Kong. For U.S. viewers, "NEW DAY" is next. For everyone else, stay tuned for "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT." But first, I will be back with the headlines in just a moment. Stay with CNN.