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Report: Race Against Clock to Save Young Soccer Players; Trump Warns NATO to Spend More; Trump Increasingly Intrigued by Female Supreme Court Justice Pick; Trump to Rescind Obama Era Affirmative Action Rules. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 3, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Jim, thank you so much. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Let's start with the 12 young boys found starving, dehydrated but alive along with their coach. This is the incredible moment. We'll play it for you. Where the scuba divers emerged to see them stand management darkness wearing just shorts and t-shirts, this nearly ten days after the group went missing.


UNIDENTIFIED DIVER: How many of you?




BALDWIN: That elation was short lived with the reality of two potentially deadly words. Monsoon season. The same heavy rains and rising waters that trapped these boys may only get worse and fears are glowing that these kids could be stuck not for weeks, but for months. Dive teams including Thai Navy SEALS and U.S. experts are now figuring out if and how they can get them out. 1.2 miles in and half a mile below the ground. Just listen to the head of the rescue team who found the children.


HEAD OF RESCUE TEAM: If they can package them in a stream lined way and then propel them through the narrow bits, tow them through, push and pull them through under water, it is a big ask for divers doing that. It is a big ask psychologically for the children. But one has to ask oneself what are the other options?


BALDWIN: Jonathan Miller is joining us from Thailand with more. Jonathan, what do you know?

JONATHAN MILLER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm standing at the command and control headquarters of the search and now rescue operation, which is trying to figure out how best to extract these 12 schoolboys and their 25-year-old coach from the cave system which is down in behind me about 200 meters, the cave entrance is, and a jungled hillside. That racket behind me you are hearing is a bank of generators which is being used to help fill the tanks of compressed air for the divers. Every so often, they come out of the cave system having made another foray in.

Now, this they are trying to figure out how to get the kids out before the real monsoon deluge happens. It will be raining for the next four months and it will get worse and worse and worse. So, the best chance to get them out is now. The question is how. Can they somehow manage to blow off the sides of these jagged passageways deep underground to allow them to be stretchered out with oxygen and masks on? Do they try to just keep them there, maybe find a higher chamber where they can be looked after and fed. Or could they do what they did with the Chile miners where they drilled in and eventually rescued them in little capsules that were brought up to the surface. This mountain is of the softer stone, that is possible, but there are many options being explored right now. Right now, though, it is anybody's guess what can happen. Back to you.

BALDWIN: Jonathan, thank you. Let's go straight to a former Navy SEAL thank you for coming on. When you think about even skilled divers, it took skilled divers hours to get through to these children, cramped debris filled passages, these boys aren't trained divers, what is your reaction to teaching these young boys some who don't even know how to swim, to drive out?

CADE COURTLEY, FORMER NAVY SEAL: I tell you what, I was part of an elite dive unit when I was in Seal Team One and there were weeks when we were under water more than we were above water during our training. And when you are talking about a confined space with zero visibility and surging water, it was challenging for us who had thousands of hours in that type of environment. So, if you take a kid during his first day of scuba lessons and you put him in six feet of water in a swimming pool and he is nervous, to try to do that with a group of kids who are already frazzled after this experience, that would be to be quite honest the last option that I would exercise.

[14:05:00] We found them, we are feeding them, they have medical attention, they are receiving fresh air, even more importantly, you are getting rid of the toxic carbon dioxide that was in there. So, we have the luxury of time which is an amazing thing to have in one of these situations.

BALDWIN: So, I'm hearing you say this would be risky 100 percent. Let me run through some of the other scenarios. They wait it out until the waters recede. And you heard Jonathan, the Chilean miners, the notion that they could drill through the mountaintop to reach them. What is the best/worst case scenario in your opinion?

COURTLEY: The thing that concerns me about the drilling, we don't know the stability of the structure that they are actually in that is saving them, keeping them alive. And if for some reason that was to collapse, that would be a tragedy. If we can we build the Hoover dam, we can build a dam to close off any water entering this cave. And if they have not done so already, we should be flying some of the world's best water extraction or built pump mechanisms to that site, let's empty it out, dam it up, not in that order, and let's let them walk out the same way they walked in. I think that makes the most sense given the variables for their survival.

BALDWIN: So, since the time line is TBD, lastly, just air quality, you are concerned about that. Tell me why?

COURTLEY: I was concerned until they found this group. Because something -- they have water. You need water to survive. Even a group of kids, but the average human can go two to three weeks without food. They had shelter. It was a relatively mild climate, 80 degrees. But the one concern I had was air quality. And it wasn't oxygen it was the build you up of carbon dioxide that builds up when you exhale. At a certain point, you become saturated, you lose mental acuity, you have headaches, things like that and it becomes toxic.

I'm sure they thought about that and they are now in addition to maybe pumping in fresh air along with medical supply, food, water. I'm sure they are venting out the carbon dioxide. So again, the important part about where we are right now is we have the luxury of time. Let's not make stupid mistake, I do think that diving is an option, but I think that it should be the last one because it has the most variables for things to go wrong given the kids and their lack of training and trying to bring them through those kind of really, really challenging environments for somebody who has never dove or maybe even can't swim.

BALDWIN: All I needed to hear from you is that doing that kind of thing for you is challenging. That speaks volumes on what it would be like for some of these kids. Cade, thank you so much. I have a feeling we'll talk again.

I want to move on now some news that we have just gotten into us here at CNN about a prominent Republican congressman and staunch defender of President Trump who is accused of ignoring allegations of molestation and sexual assault while he worked at a major university.

So, let's get straight to Jean Casarez for details on this one.

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Congressman Jim Jordan is stridently denying that he had any knowledge at all about a team doctor in athletics at Ohio State University while he was an assistant wrestling coach there that he knew that he was allegedly the doctor molesting athletes. Now, this all stems from Ohio State University Dr. Richard Strauss, he was the team doctor in athletics according to the Ohio State University website from July 1981 through 1995.

That is during the time that congressman Jim Jordan was an assistant coach for the wrestling team. There is an investigation that is independent appointed by the attorney general in Ohio. They are in the midst of it talking to now grown men who were young athletes at the time saying that this doctor and according to NBC news three former wrestlers have said that Dr. Strauss showered inappropriately with students and touched them inappropriately during medical appointments.

[14:10:00] We do have a statement from Jim Jordan that says Congressman Jordan never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse, and never had any abuse reported to him during this time as a coach at Ohio State. He has not been contacted by investigators about the matter, but will assist them in any way they ask because if what is alleged is true, the victims deserve a full investigation and justice. One of the wrestlers has said to CNN, and I want to quote here, he says that Representative Jim Jordan who worked at a wrestling coach at the university deserves a full investigation and justice. One of the wrestlers has said to CNN, and I want to quote here, he says that Representative Jim Jordan who worked at a wrestling coach at the university in the 1980s and '90s had direct knowledge of the molestation going on and did nothing about it. He of course says once again that he did not know anything.

BALDWIN: A lot of layers to this one. Keep us posted. Thank you so much.

Coming up next here, President Trump delivering sharp words to some of America's closest NATO allies putting them on notice over defend spending, accusing them of not contributing enough. What Trump is threatening if they don't do more. Also, is the Trump administration about to unravel another Obama era policy in this time involving the use of affirmative action in college admissions.

And Oprah says, quote, it would kill me he, her most candid comments yet about a possible presidential run in 2020 and the current state of American politics.


BALDWIN: We're back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. President Trump is issuing a stern warning to close allies. CNN has obtained sharply worded letters addressed to other world leaders in NATO. Since the 2016 campaign, the president has criticized other members of NATO for being too stingy and selfish, but today he is hinting that he may pull out of the alliance just ahead of this month's NATO summit.

So, let me read to you part of what the president wrote to Angela Merkel. Quote, "Continued German underspending on defense undermines the security of the alliance. It will however become increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries do not share NATO's collective security burden while American soldiers continue to sacrifice their lives overseas or come home gravely wounded."

And listen, President Trump is right about the disparity. Only five of the 28 countries pay NATO's recommended 2 percent of their GDP on defense. But here is the but. Where Trump gets it wrong is that 2 percent is merely a guideline and the reason America's spending is so much higher is because the U.S. willingly spends more on its defense budget compared to what NATO nations spend on theirs. So, let's go straight to CNN global affairs analyst, Aaron David Miller. Aaron, the NATO summit, it is next week. The letter is a pretty serious ultimatum. Do you think these allies budge?

AARON DAVID MILLER, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I think they ought to do more and I think over time they will. I don't think seriously the president's threat to withdraw from NATO any more than I take seriously his threat to withdraw from the WTO. If you want to be friends with this president, you flatter him, and you don't criticize him publicly and you are invested and interested in the issues that he is interested in. And for this president, the three M's, let's take them, Merkel, Macron and May, are not allies at all.

And I think the president is positioning himself at the NATO meeting not necessarily for a train wreck, but I believe for a straining of relations building on top of what he did at the G7. And from there he is off to see Mr. Putin. Look, the reality is if this were simply a negotiating tactic, if Mr. Trump were playing tough, it might be understandable. But the whole purpose of the 2 percent commitment was done in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea, it was an effort to contain Putin. And you have a president who seems to be interested not in containing Mr. Putin but accommodating him. So, the very logic of asking the allies to do more, and they should, within the context that Mr. Trump is operating in seems to be inconsistent and illogical and frankly I don't think this is going to have much of an impact.

BALDWIN: And let me remind everybody that both President Obama and Bush had similar criticisms of NATO. Watch.


BARAK OBAMA, FORMER PRESIDENT: One of the things that I think medium and long term we'll have to examine is whether everybody is chipping in and this can't just be a U.S. exercise or a British exercise or one country's efforts.

ROBERT GATES, FORMER DEFENSE SECRETARY: Indeed, if current trends in the decline of European defense capabilities are not halted and reversed, future U.S. political leaders, those for whom the cold war was not the formative experience that it was for me, may not consider the return on America's investment in NATO worth the cost.


[14:20:00] BALDWIN: So important to look back to assess what we're talking about thousand. Yes, the way Trump is doing this is very Trump. But Aaron, how different -- is the difference the way the president talks about U.S. troops and using them as bargaining chips? How do you see it?

MILLER: No, I think the two individuals, Bush administration and Obama administration, it even goes back further, basically had complaints and it was that the allies needed to do more. But the reality is all previous American presidents invested heavily in the nature and context of the alliance. It has served despite its imperfection for decades. And the reality is it is not just the 2 percent. Foreign policy in relation to these allies are not New York real estate deals which are based largely in transactions. It has served despite its imperfection for decades.

And the reality is it is not just the 2 percent. Foreign policy in relation to these allies are not New York real estate deals which are based largely in transactions. And transactions in Mr. Trump's mind that should give the United States an edge or a better bargain. They are deeply rooted in embedded alliances based on values and common interests. And frankly against the backdrop of a meeting with Mr. Putin, I suspect Mr. Trump does not have much regard or respect either for those allies or those values. Seems to be more interested for reasons that I don't think any of us can define in accommodating Mr. Putin rather than containing him. And I think that is a serious problem for America.

BALDWIN: Interesting you point out the timing, NATO and Putin. We'll talk about that. Aaron David Miller, thank you very much. Coming up next, less tan a week before the highly anticipated pick for the supreme court. What we're learning about who he has personally interviewed. Could there be more than one woman up for the position? And will it all come down to Trump's gut decision? We'll be right back.


BALDWIN: Sources tell CNN that President Trump is increasingly intrigued by selecting a woman to be the next Supreme Court justice. He has already interviewed four candidates, three men and a woman. And it appears that all would vote to roll back abortion rights and at least one seems to have pretty clear views that a president should not be subject to criminal investigation. The president plans to announce his choice next Monday night in a primetime event. So, let's go straight to our supreme court analyst who was so wonderful with me last week when all this broke.

So, Joan, people familiar with this search have told CNN that Trump is increasingly intrigued about the whole choice of a woman. We're told he believes the gender would help sway key Republican votes, ala Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. Do you think that is an effective strategy and how likely is it do you think he does go with a woman?

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: Thanks. Great to be back with you on this wonderful topic. First of all, it depends. We have had more than 100 Supreme Court justices and only four have been women. Starting in 1991 with Sandra Day O'Connor's appointment.

So, it would be a big deal to add another woman to this Supreme Court. But President Trump would like to have a high impact can't say I am now naming the fifth woman. But he might say I'm naming a very conservative woman. That was one angle we were starting to hear from the White House.

But obviously Ronald Reagan thought he was naming a pretty conservative woman. The other thing is it would depend in terms of how much Senators Collins and Murkowski were swayed on the woman herself. For example, if Amy Coney Barrett who I know is one of the people who we've introduced to viewers already, she was Notre Dame law professor, now on the Chicago based 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, she actually has a record that might lead some of the Democratic senators and key swing Republican senators to wonder what she would do on issues such as Roe V. Wade. Some religion issues that had come up in her lower court hearings. So, I don't think that strategy would help with Collins and Murkowski. BALDWIN: You bring up Roe V. Wade. So, let's go there. And I just

want to play some sound reminding everyone how the president has been, you know, so committed to dismantling Roe V. Wade. Here you go.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you want to see the court overturn Roe v. Wade?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: If we put another two or perhaps three justices on, that is really what will happen.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Will you appoint, are you looking to appoint a justice who wants to overturn Roe v. Wade?

TRUMP: Here's what is going to happen. I'm going -- I'm pro-life. The judges will be pro-life.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you looking for somebody to overturn Roe v. Wade?

TRUMP: Well, you know, it's a great group of intellectual talent. They are generally conservative. I'm not going to ask them that question by the way. That is not a question I'll be asking. But it is a group of very highly talented, very brilliant mostly conservative judges.


[14:30:00] BALDWIN: So, after all that, you heard him say I won't be asking them all of that and Sarah Sanders insisted the same. Do you believe that?

BISKUPIC: I actually do, Brooke, and I will tell you why. He doesn't have to ask them. They have already been vetted by his team of lawyers who believe that they would vote the way he wants them to vote. And there is another thing, the president is actually not supposed to ask about individual cases and issues. How would you vote? Because even though as you are so observing here, it is a highly politicized process and our Supreme Court often seems so political, but the justices are actually supposed to go to each case with an open mind, a fresh mind, and not be committed to a particular position. So, it would be really inappropriate frankly for him to ask. And the other thing practically speaking, he doesn't need to.

BALDWIN: Joan, you are excellent on this. Thank you so much.

Next, is the Trump administration about to unravel another Obama era policy? This one involving affirmative action in college admissions. And could the president's next Supreme Court pick play a role here. Back in a moment.