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Trump to Name Supreme Court Nominee; North Korea Concealing Nuclear Program; Daughter Reunited with Mother; Government Faces Reunification Deadline. Progressive Wave in Democratic Party; FBI Arrest Man for Terror Plot. Aired 9:30-10a ET
Aired July 2, 2018 - 09:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[09:31:37] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: The president says he will announce his second nomination to the highest court in the land one week from today on July 9th. Of course, that's less than two weeks after Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. Three weeks before that retirement will take effect.
CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House with the latest for us this morning.
Abby, good morning.
ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Poppy.
This process is moving extraordinarily quickly in an effort of this -- for this White House to get a nominee onto the Senate before the summer is over. Now President Trump spent the weekend at his Bedminster golf resort. And just before he left, he talked to reporters a little bit about what was going on with the Supreme Court pick. He said that he was hoping to get started as soon as possible. He confirmed that he wanted to do this by next Monday, that's before he heads out on a foreign trip to Europe.
And he also gave some hints about what he might be looking for. He said he would be considering on his short list at least two women. He also took some questions about this central issue that has been dominating a lot of the conversation in the last several days, and that's what would be the fate of Roe v. Wade. That's the ruling that has allowed abortion to be legal in the United States. The president punted on that question saying he wasn't going to use Roe v. Wade as a litmus test for his nominees.
But for others, including moderate Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine, this is going to be a main issue. She talked to Jake Tapper over the weekend and said she believes Roe v. Wade is settled law. She would not support a nominee who would not respect that kind of settled law. Meanwhile, the White House is trying not to talk too much about this, saying they're not going to ask specific questions about how a potential nominee could rule on that critical issue. At the same time, we know that the president -- that the president is
dealing with a list that is pretty short. It was 25 people to begin with. Now it's probably closer to five. He said he might interview as many as seven people. On that list are two former clerks of Justice Anthony Kennedy's, that's the Supreme Court justice who the president is going to replace. A former clerk of Justice Scalia. So the president is dealing with some people with top pedigrees. And "The Washington Post" also reporting over the weekend that he's told advisers he wants someone who is not going to be, in his words, weak.
So, Erica, a lot going on here this week. But this is going to be a big week for the president, this potential nominee, and we expect to see some interviews happening this week as well.
HILL: All right, we'll be watching for all of that.
Abby Phillip at the White House this morning. Thank you.
President Trump declared after the Singapore summit North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat, but new reports show not only is Kim Jong-un perhaps trying to hide nuclear weapons, he may actually be trying to build even more missiles.
[09:38:34] HILL: New satellite images from a U.S. lab appear to show North Korea finalizing the expansion of a ballistic missile manufacturing site than a month after Kim Jong-un signed a denuclearization agreement with President Trump. This comes as "The Washington Post" reports U.S. intel officials have evidence North Korea has no intention of dismantling its nukes and is, in fact, looking for ways to hide them from the U.S.
CNN correspondent Will Ripley live in Beijing.
So, Will, President Trump saying, of course, after that summit, North Korea is no longer a nuclear threat, but then we see these new reports which seem to prove him wrong.
WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: And that may be why Secretary of State Pompeo and others have dialed back that statement saying that the nuclear threat remains, but it's been reduced. But instead of seeing North Korea taking steps towards denuclearization, at least openly, what we're seeing from satellite imagery is that they're actually expanding their missile and nuclear facilities.
Take a look at these two imagines, one from April, around the time of the inter-Korean summit, and another from June, around the time of the Trump-Kim summit. You can see pretty dramatic progress at the Chemical Material Institute in Hamhung, North Korea. This is where they make carbon composite parts for solid fuel missiles. Solid fuel allows the missiles to travel much further. It's solid fuel missiles that potentially pose the greatest threat to the U.S. mainland. And even though Kim Jong-un signed that broadly worded statement
committing to complete denuclearization, we have seen a flood of intelligence being leaked by U.S. officials indicating that North Korea is expanding, not just this missile factory, but they also -- we saw the satellite images and the analysts at 38 North last week saying that they're expanding the Yongbyon nuclear reactor. There are reports of clandestine nuclear facilities where North Korea may be enriching uranium and plutonium secretly. All of this clearly indicating that Secretary of State Pompeo has his work cut out for him when he's expected to sit down and meet face-to-face with North Koreans, the first major round of high-level negotiations since the Trump-Kim summit, because what the United States need to do, Erica, is get verifiable commitments from the North Koreans and the North Koreans need to be transparent about the size of their arsenal, how many warheads they have. Some U.S. intelligence officials believe, as you mentioned, that the North Korean may be trying to deceive the United States, to hide some of these assets.
[09:40:41] And I can tell you from many trips to that country, including just over a month ago, while the North Koreans have taken some public steps to show a willingness to disarm, they're also not going to leave themselves in a position where they don't have leverage to protect their government and Kim Jong-un if these negotiations with the U.S. fall apart.
HILL: Will Ripley with the latest for us. Thank you.
An emotional reunion as one migrant mother is reunited with her daughter. But, sadly, this isn't the case for many, as we know. More than 2,000 children remain in the government's care, separated from their parents, and there are renewed concerns this morning there is no clear plan to get them back with their parents.
[09:45:49] HILL: This morning, new concerns the government will not be able to meet its court ordered deadline to reunite more than 2,000 migrant children with their parents this month. All of this as CNN captures an emotional reunion in Miami. The mother and daughter you see here were separated for nearly two months under President Trump's zero tolerance policy.
Kaylee Hartung was at that tear-filled reunion and she joins us now with more.
Kaylee, good morning.
KAYLEE HARTUNG, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica.
When that seven-year-old girl wrapped her arm around her mother for the first time in two months, she asked that they never be separated again. We saw tears of joy and relief. There was even laughter when seven-year-old Janne asked for pizza for dinner, her favorite, her first meal back with her mother. This reunion as emotional as you could imagine it to be. But let me
give you some more context to this family's story to better understand the significance of that moment you see.
Buena Ventura came to this country on May 1st with her then eight- month-old son. She and her family wanted a better life outside of the gang violence that they saw in Guatemala. One week later, her husband, Pedro, and their daughter, Janne, followed. But in the time between their arrivals, the zero tolerance policy went into effect. So, suddenly, this family was divided, split up and shipped across this country. Buena was detained in Arizona, but she was released with her son. She came here to Miami, where she had family waiting for her. But her husband was sent to Georgia, her daughter to Michigan. She said there was a feeling of helplessness as they were apart. But you see the joy in that reunion just yesterday.
Another Guatemalan family also reunited yesterday at LAX. This a case of a 12-year-old girl and her mother who were forcibly separated at the border more than a month ago.
With all of this emotion swirling, though, Buena told us, for any other families who are searching for a better life like they were, she says, find another country. She says the laws in America now are too harsh and she says people here don't have a heart.
Erica, we don't know how many other families are waiting for the moments like we see here. The last number we got from HHS was last Tuesday saying 2,047 children were in their care. But as many immigrant attorneys have told me, they don't see a clear process. They don't see how the government will be able to meet the deadline they have set for themselves to reunify these families.
HILL: Still so many questions. The most important one, as you pointed out here, being how will those 2,047 children be reunited.
Kaylee Hartung, appreciate it. Thank you.
Joining me now, CNN political analyst Eliana Johnson and Matt Viser.
There is no way that we're going to get away from this topic immigration. Not that we're going to stop (ph) talking about these 2,047 children either. And yet there are not a lot of clear answers. All of this happening as we see Democrats, even more Democrats, jumping on this bandwagon, pushing to abolish ICE.
Matt, the president's embracing that as well saying, go for it. This is going to be a win for Republicans in November if Democrats continue to go down this road. Does he have a point?
MATT VISER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: He does, a little bit, yes. I mean Democrats are sort of bringing up a new issue that in some ways diverts from a very -- a harder one for President Trump, which is the family separation and indefinite detention of family members as the Trump administration is now perusing to a new issue, which is about ICA and, you know, abolishing ICE, which has been a new litmus test for a lot of 2020 candidates. Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, all recently starting to call for that. And I think it gets to be a much more complicated issue and a harder one to explain. And it also diverts because ICE is not the one currently responsible for separating the families, it's another part of the government and the customs and border control. So I do think it's a complicated issue for Democrats.
HILL: A complicated issue. Not all Democrats are on board, as we know. Here's Tammy Duckworth from "State of the Union" this weekend.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: I just think that if you abolish ICE as it is as an executive agency, it reflects the policies of the White House, of the president. You abolish ICE now, you still have the same president with the same failed policies. Whatever you replace it with is just going to still reflect what this president wants to do.
[09:50:15] JAKE TAPPER, "STATE OF THE UNION": So, no, you don't support abolishing ICE?
DUCKWORTH: I -- you know, I think there's a lot of other things we can do before we get to that point.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
HILL: The big question, of course, Eliana, what are those other things? And can Democrats be of one accord moving into November?
ELIANA JOHNSON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I think that's the key question. I think it was widely understood in the country that the president overplayed his hand here with the child separation or the zero tolerance policy, but that he did have a mandate in the election for cracking down on immigration. So the Democratic response then has been, well, let's abolish ICE to respond to the president overplaying his hand.
The point I think that Tammy Duckworth was making was that the abolition of ICE is going to be understood in the country as Democrats pushing for no border enforcement. But the crisis on the southern border of young migrants and now young migrants with their parents flooding across the border I don't think will be accepted or tolerated by Americans. That's why Trump had a mandate and he bungled the execution. I don't think that the proper response, no border enforcement or no borders by Democrats is a good one or is going to be -- is going to get a lot of following from the American people.
HILL: As Democrats try to figure out what their message is come November and beyond, it's interesting, there was some pushback against Senator Duckworth from Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, of course, who won here in New York, representing the Bronx and Queens, who she hopes to then go on and represent in Washington. And she tweeted, with respect to the senator, strong, clear advocacy for working class Americans isn't just for the Bronx. She's talking about various policies here. Noting that states that Bernie Sanders won, of which several were then lost in the general. So what's the plan to prevent a repeat? Matt, is part of the answer here that there needs to be some young
blood, there needs to be some new way of thinking and perhaps it's time for some of the old guard to step aside?
VISER: (INAUDIBLE) kind of across the country in different races. And I think that this latest issue about abolishing ICE kind of illustrates a little bit of that where there's a lot of energy on the left and we're seeing some fishers within the Democratic Party around that issue, as well as others, such as how strenuously to go after President Trump and how much to put forward a more proactive vision of the Democratic Party.
So we're seeing a lot of, you know, moments for the Democratic Party the way that the Republican Party in 2010 had a lot of energy around the Tea Party movement on the far right. You're seeing a lot the same with the Democrats. And that's, you know, potentially a problem heading into the midterms where they need as much unity as they can get.
HILL: And, Eliana, to that point, as both parties -- at least the fringes of both parties become more and more vocal, where do moderates from either party go?
JOHNSON: Look, I think that's a real problem for -- that you're going to see. Republicans grappled with it in 2016. You're going to see Democrats grapple with it in 2018.
But just to be frank -- and let's be serious here, you know, the Democratic calls to abolish ICE are akin to Republicans calling to abolish the Department of Education or other departments. And so, you know, "The New York Times" called for Democratic leadership to step aside. That's real. But I think that the calls to abolish ICE are, you know, absurd. And that's the problem that Democrats are faced with. They need new leadership. They don't have good solutions on the other side.
HILL: Eliana Johnson, Matt Viser, appreciate your insight, as always. Thank you.
Family and country, not the president. It is family and country that come first. That's what we heard from President Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, breaking his silence.
[09:58:25] HILL: Breaking this morning, the FBI arresting a man they say helped to plan a July 4th terror attack in downtown Cleveland.
Joining me now with the latest is CNN's Jean Casarez.
So, Jean, what more do we know about this plot?
JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is very serious. And they just had a press release. A 30 page complaint has just been filed. But the one charge is attempted material support of a foreign terrorist organization. And that would be allegiance to al Qaeda. His American name is Demetrius Pitts. He is now arrested. But the FBI
in Cleveland, the field office, realized some time ago the violence tendencies against the United States. Let's listen moments ago at this press conference.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JUSTIN HERDMAN, U.S. ATTORNEY: He looked for locations to park a van that would be packed with explosives. He talked about taking targets like St. John's Cathedral off the map. And, just yesterday, he discussed giving remote control cars packed with explosives and shrapnel to the children of our military uniform members.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
CASAREZ: And when they realized that this man was serious to perpetuate a terror attack on the Fourth of July in downtown Cleveland, they paired him up with an undercover agent and they had several meetings. The last one was yesterday.
But when confronted with, aren't you concerned about killing so many people, he laughed, he said, I don't care at all.
But now he is arrested. They will be going to a grand jury seeking an indictment.
HILL: All right, Jean, we know you'll continue to follow it and bring us any other developments. Thank you.
And our next hour starts right now.
[10:00:02] Good morning. I'm Erica Hill, in for Poppy today.
President Trump's attorney, Michael Cohen, the man who once said he would take a bullet for the president, seems to be hinting his days as the loyal fixer are over.