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President Trump Meets with Potential Supreme Court Nominees; Soccer Team and Coach Trapped in Cave in Thailand. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired July 3, 2018 - 8:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00] JOHN SANDWEG, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: That these are things that were known to career officials at Health and Human Services at ICE, at CBP, before they enacted this policy. So it just seems to me if you're going to enact this policy of family separation, you need to have a plan for family reunification. But here we are two weeks after the president said you're going to reunite families, and it doesn't seem like a significant portion of these families have been reunited.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: No, and it's hard to get answers, frankly, out of the administration. John Sandweg, thank you very much for explaining how complicated all of this is for us.

We're following a lot of news this morning, including breaking news, so let's get right to it.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to your New Day. It is Tuesday, July 3rd, 8:00 in the east. Let's get right to breaking news this morning. We just learned moments ago in the race against time to save 12 young soccer players and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand, CNN has learned that rescuers might make an attempt tonight to pull them from that cave. It's about half a mile underground.

There are a lot of complications here with this rescue. Now, as recently as a few hours ago, we were told they were going to keep them there, try to get food to them so they could survive underground for some time because getting them out would be just too dangerous. But again, moments ago we learned that there might be an attempt to have them swim out as soon as tonight. We're trying to figure out what has changed, whether it's the conditions or whether it's concern about leaving them there any longer. We'll have a live report from Thailand just ahead.

CAMEROTA: That was remarkable what Anna Coren just told us because maybe they were able to somehow underwater enlarge the hole to be able to swim them out with the oxygen tanks on them. So, again, this timeframe, we just don't know but that is a glimmer of hope, so we'll follow all of that.

Meanwhile, other news, President Trump interviewing four federal judges for the Supreme Court vacancy. CNN has learned he met with three men and a woman. Here they are on your screen. It appears that all would roll back some portion of abortion rights, or are open to that, and at least one seems to have pretty clear views that a president should not be subjected to a criminal investigation. The president plans to announce his choice next Monday night in a primetime television event.

Let's discuss it. There's Jeffrey Toobin. I like the element of surprise. I like the element of surprise on TV.

(LAUGHTER)

BERMAN: He magically appears after the swoop.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I was in a catatonic state there for a moment, but I'm fine.

CAMEROTA: You were riveted by what I was saying.

TOOBIN: I was, as always.

CAMEROTA: We also have David Gregory and John Avlon with us. OK, we are obviously keeping our ear peeled for the breaking news, but in the meantime, Supreme Court. Which way do you think he's going to go from looking at the four that he's met with?

TOOBIN: They're very similar in certain respects but very different in others. They are all very conservative. I can't draw serious distinctions among them. Amy Barrett is a very new judge. He's only 46 years old. She's been only on the seventh circuit for a few months. Brett Kavanaugh is a very experienced judge. He's been on the D.C. circuit for a decade. The judge from Kentucky is also pretty new. Ray Kethledge is a more experienced judge. All look highly qualified by traditional standards, good academic record, good, honorable people. It depends on what kind of Supreme Court you want.

BERMAN: It's interesting, all these four names, and the two names we expect to see later today meeting with the president, they are from this list of 25. There are no curveballs, there are no surprises here on this list.

David Gregory, Amy Coney Barrett is interesting. She has sort of catapulted to the very top of the list. She's very young. She's a woman. Notre Dame, Catholic. She had a back-and-forth with Dianne Feinstein where a lot of people thought Coney Barrett got the better half during her confirmation for the appeals court. What kind of challenge would having Amy Coney Barrett as the nominee pose to Democrats trying to fight this nomination?

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, it's an interesting question because it speaks to the political dimension of all of this, and I think the challenge is where Democrats have already overreached with her by challenging, as Senator Feinstein did, her religious views and whether she would be able to set aside dogma, that was Feinstein's word, to be a proper judge, which was offensive to a lot of people and should have been to a lot of people. And so there is this danger of overreach where I'm sure the president

would politically like to lure Democrats into in this nomination. He said he would like to nominate a woman, and that politically that could speak a lot of different issues that the president has personally and his standing among women because of his past behavior, also because of the issue of Roe v. Wade. When and if that comes before the court having a woman weigh in on this.

And I think what's interesting about how the president has approached this generally, we saw this with Neil Gorsuch, there is not a lot of impulsivity here.

[08:05:00] He was certainly very impulsive the way he said absolutely I want somebody wo is going to be a pro-life judge. That breaks with decorum in how the president talk about this in naming movement ideologues, in this case conservatives. But this is an area where the president knows I don't know a lot about this. I can rely on the movement conservatives for this. But this is how I keep conservatives base, including conservatives who don't like me. This is how I keep them on board, evangelical Christians, others for whom this is the issue. The Supreme Court, whether the business interests, the regulatory state, or social issues will determine their vote. So this is an area of politics where the president has a real opportunity to consolidate the party.

CAMEROTA: John, isn't it so interesting that a majority pro-life Supreme Court and Congress -- at least the Republicans in Congress -- is so out of step with where Americans are. Here's the latest polling, you've been bringing it up all the time -- 67 percent of the country, OK, across all partisan stripes, do not want to see Roe versus Wade overturned.

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And 67 percent of the country, but also if you look at the breakdown from the Kaiser Family Foundation it get even more extraordinary. You have not only a supermajority of Democrats but 73 percent of independents --

CAMEROTA: They're saying your mic is dead. Did you turn off --

TOOBIN: I turned it off.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh!

BERMAN: When Toobin beamed in he turned it off.

CAMEROTA: Sabotage!

TOOBIN: I want to talk more.

BERMAN: But the polls speak for themselves.

TOOBIN: We've heard enough of John.

BERMAN: The polls speak for itself, which is that a majority of Americans support Roe v. Wade. AVLON: But 43 percent of Republicans. And that's what's stunning to

me, because as Alisyn was just pointed out, as Charlie Dent told us yesterday, there are no pro-choice Republicans left in the House of Representatives. That is 43 percent of Republicans unrepresented virtually by their congressional majority. So that's significant, and it speaks to the uphill climb. When Republicans decry legislating from the bench, they mean liberal. They don't mean conservative ideology because the process has become deeply politicized with certain litmus test issues.

TOOBIN: And the thing I find frustrating about Supreme Court discussions is that we always discuss things like conservative, liberal. What does it mean in the real world? Does it mean that abortion will be illegal in a dozen states? Does it mean that gay people can be excluded from restaurants, from hotels, bakeries because they are gay? Does it mean that universities can't consider race in admissions? Does it mean that the Second Amendment bars any state from banning bump stacks, from banning magazine guns? These are the issues that are going to be talked about, that are going to be decided.

BERMAN: Jeffrey, you think all of these could be decided in a certain way?

TOOBIN: Absolutely. Clarence Thomas is, in effect, the model for all of these judges. This is the Federalist Society view of how a judge should behave or rule. This is -- and if you look at Thomas' opinions on abortion, on affirmative action, on the Second Amendment, on gay rights, these are the positions that will be ascendant at the Supreme Court. And all I care about in this is that we should have a debate about what's really going on here, not pretend that something else is happening.

BERMAN: David?

GREGORY: Right, but Jeffrey, isn't it also fair to say -- there's nothing wrong with what you're saying, I just don't think it includes everything, which is the possibility that you may not be right on all of these issues, that there is some fidelity to precedent, that the Supreme Court as a body does look at public opinion on issues like abortion and that that could sway the day. I mentioned in this the last hour, John Roberts certainly earned the condemnation of his fellow movement conservatives when he sided with the administration on Obamacare. So these are possibilities, and it's true --

TOOBIN: I don't think I heard you correctly. Did you suggest I might not be right about something?

(LAUGHTER)

CAMEROTA: In your face. So stunned.

TOOBIN: Impossible.

GREGORY: I do not say that lightly. I do not say that lightly, by the way. BERMAN: You have a right to a rebuttal.

TOOBIN: David is right, of course, you can't predict with 100 percent --

BERMAN: You just caved?

TOOBIN: No, because I like David. He's working so hard there in Nantucket.

(LAUGHTER)

AVLON: Oh, the undisclosed location.

TOOBIN: I grieve for him.

(LAUGHTER)

TOOBIN: He's killing himself out there and I just want to be nice to him. But no, you can't predict with 100 percent certainty, but you can come pretty close.

BERMAN: On that note, we're going to go before David has a chance to respond.

CAMEROTA: He has an important tennis match he has to get to. David, thank you.

BERMAN: We did have a chance to tell you about the breaking news. We heard moments ago from Thailand there could be a rescue attempt as soon as tonight to free these 12 soccer players and their coach from this cave where they've been trapped for 10 days.

[08:10:09] This would be a remarkable development. We're going to have someone who is very close to the divers speak to us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: We are following breaking news for you this hour. The eyes of the world are on Thailand right now and the desperate efforts to save these 12 young soccer players and their coach. They have been trapped for 10 days in this cave in Thailand. So rescuers, we've just gotten word, are going to try to get them out sooner than expected from thousands of feet underground. It is a very risky operation and we have CNN's Anna Coren. She is live on the ground in northern Thailand at the rescue scene of the rescue attempts with all the breaking details. What have you learned, Anna?

ANNA COREN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Alisyn, there really is a sense of urgency to get these 12 boys and their coach out as soon as possible. Remember, they were only rescued less than 24 hours ago. But something certainly has changed in the last few hours. We've heard from the deputy governor of Chiang Rai here, and he said if they can, if it's appropriate and if it's not going to risk the boys' safety, they will get them out tonight. They will at least start getting them out tonight. That is stunning development considering that authorities earlier today were telling us that they are prepared to ship in four month's supply of food into that cave allowing those boys and their coach to ride out the monsoon season until the waters subside. But to talk about this further, let's bring in U.S. Air Force Captain Jessica Tait. She has been here for the last six days with the Americans, now a huge international force.

Jessica, firstly, how did you feel when you found out those boys were still alive?

JESSICA TAIT, U.S. AIR FORCE CAPTAIN: Honestly, it fell out of a movie. It was so surreal. I mean our team, we've been working so hard side-by-side with our Thai partners as well as the international forces here in this effort. And to see such a beautiful positive outcome, I don't know. I have no words.

COREN: And now, do you feel that sense of urgency that they want to get those boys out as soon as possible?

TAIT: Absolutely. I mean everyone here has been working around the clock since the boys initially went missing. But you do sense that feeling that, hey, they're alive. We're providing that assistance and what I'm seeing in this Thai-led multinational rescue operation is a real coming together of the ideas that are best going to be, to serve this extraction, because when you think about it, it has to be done quickly.

COREN: Of course. Their safety is paramount. Tell, us what have your colleagues been telling you about the conditions inside the cave when they've gone in?

TAIT: So, obviously, the conditions in the cave, they're ever changing, but everyone is working so hard to be able to mitigate the risk and find the best possible solution to being able to access the children as well as to provide that assistance.

COREN: And the blackness, the darkness, it must be overwhelming and particularly for these kids, they're only age 11 to 16, even though they're familiar with these caves, they have now been in there for 10 days.

TAIT: Yes. I mean, I'm thinking about the -- not only the physiological, but like the psychological aspect of it. So when I see the fact that this has been nine days, that takes a will to live. And such a mental resiliency and it's so beautiful to see, but when I see all of Thailand come together here, truthfully, you have medics. You have volunteer workers. You have government officials. You have civilians. You have military. Everyone is here.

And everyone didn't lose hope. And when you saw that, like it was literally a celebration like I...

COREN: Of humanity.

TAIT: Of humanity. COREN: Right.

TAIT: Of humanity. How many good news stories are you able to report on?

COREN: That's right. They are rare these days. Well, Captain Jessica Tait. Great to get your perspective. Thank you so much.

So, John, it could be a very fascinating 24 hours, 48 hours ahead.

JOHN BERMAN, CO-ANCHOR OF CNN NEW DAY: Ana Coren, please keep us posted. You were getting all the freshest information on the ground there at the scene, so important to have you there. Thank you very much.

Joining us now on the phone is Bill Whitehouse, he's the vice chairman of the British cave rescue team that located the children trapped in that cave.

Bill, thanks so much for joining us. The breaking news is there could be an attempt as soon as tonight to get those children and their coach out of that cave. They were reached just yesterday. Now, they may try to get them out. Is that surprising to you based on what you heard from your divers?

Bill WASHINGTON, VICE CHAIRMAN OF THE BRITISH CAVE RESCUE COUNCIL: No. There are conflicting issues here. There are big risks in fetching them out. They're obviously intending to dive them out in some form.

The big problem is if the weather breaks and the water comes up and diving conditions revert to what they were like last week, it might make diving impossible, with zero visibility, fast currents, and much longer dives.

So there is a launch window to do something before it starts raining again. Bear in mind the monsoon season, once it starts raining again, the caves could become seriously flooded for months.

That's why they were obviously thinking about earlier of getting in supplies for several months. To fetch them out, I don't know what -- how they are going to do it. There was talk earlier of training them to dive. That seems to be a bit of a long shot in the time available.

But what they might be able to do and to say if they can take supplies in, can they bring the children out as inert packages as opposed to them trying to swim themselves. In other words, if they were given breathing apparatus and they're been trying to get hold of full face masks which are easy for -- easier and safer for non-divers to wear, to use.

If they can fit them with those and with air bottles and perhaps restrain them, so that they can't move and struggle. Get the weight balance right, so they aren't getting trapped against the roof or on obstructions and so forth, and then literally propel them out as I say, as inert objects.

BERMAN: Right.

WASHINGTON: Whether that's the plan, I don't know but in the time scale that's...

[08:20:00]

BERMAN: Bill, you just gave us an enormous amount of information here that I want to make sure it sinks in to our viewers here. Number one, one of the issues might be they want to get this done quickly, because it might be their last best chance for a long time to dive them out, because more rain could make it all but impossible to swim out over the next weeks, maybe even months. So they could be racing against the clock in that sense.

Number two, you gave us some good imagery of why it is so difficult to swim them out. I understand it was a three-hour round-trip for your divers. You described it as gnarly. What do you mean?

WASHINGTON: Gnarly, yes. Yes. It's sort of slang term if you don't mind, a bit hairy, a bit difficult with problems, worrying times whilst they were going in because they were having to get through various blockages. They might be getting caught up on things and having to free themselves, so yes.

BERMAN: And remember, these kids haven't eaten for 10 days. They haven't eaten for 10 days until just now, and to ask them to do something they've never done before which is to dive out in a very complicated situation--

WASHINGTON: Yes. Indeed.

BERMAN: That is something I think they would want to avoid, which is why you're suggesting perhaps carrying them out. Do you feel there's the space, the physical space to do that?

WASHINGTON: Well, I don't -- I mean, I'm not there. I want to know something about the cave. I've never been there and I don't know the detail. So I don't know what constrictions there are that might be a problem for that.

But if they can package them in a sort of streamlined way and then propel them through the narrow bits, tow them through, push and pull them through underwater, this is going to be -- so it's a big ask for divers doing that. It's a big ask psychologically for the children. But one has to ask oneself, what are the other options, perhaps a very long stay in.

BERMAN: Really, it's an issue. Then it's the issue here. And who knows what could happen if they were forced to stay underground for weeks if not months. Again, it was a three-hour round-trip. So you're talking about an hour or so or more one way, for a novice diver, even if they are not calling on you to swim per se. Even if you are inert with maybe a breathing apparatus, how difficult would that be? WASHINGTON: It certainly wouldn't be easy. I mean, although I gather

that the -- it's not a completely submerged passage all the way. The news from Rick and John, the divers who got through to them, is that whilst the flooded passages are about 1,500 meters in total, only about half of them are totally submerged. So you might be able to get them through in stages, through to one air bell and then through to another one. I'm guessing that that would be, I guess, what might be possible.

BERMAN: Right.

WASHINGTON: So it might not be one dive right the way through. They might be able to bring them through to somewhere, a bit of respite, then move them on again.

BERMAN: Rest along the way. Again, this is such a complicated situation. Three kilometers into the caves, about a kilometer underground per se. And they could be raising against time with fears that more rain could be coming, which is why they may feel there is need to try to get them out even though it would be dramatic and difficult tonight.

Bill Whitehouse, thanks so much for your expertise on this. We really do appreciate you talking to us.

WASHINGTON: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn?

ALISYN CAMEROTA, JOURNALIST AND ANCHOR OF CNN'S MORNING SHOW NEW DAY: All right, John, obviously we'll stay on that story and follow all the breaking developments.

Meanwhile, why did Michael Cohen break his silence yesterday? What does it mean for President Trump? That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:25:00]

BERMAN: President self-proclaimed fixer Michael Cohen once said he would, quote, "Take a bullet for Donald Trump." Now, with our interview with ABC news, Cohen is making it clear his loyalty is to his country and his family first, not President Trump.

Joining me now is attorney for Stormy Daniels, Michael Avenatti.

Michael, thanks so much for waking up early for us, West Coast time. There seem to be three theories here about what Michael Cohen is doing. Number one, sending a message to prosecutors that he's ready to deal.

Number two, sending a message to President Trump that, "Hey, you better help pay my legal bills, maybe think about pardoning me, else I might sing." And then option three is an interesting one. That maybe Michael Cohen

just wanted to break out of the cocoon, talk to somebody and tell a story on his own terms. What do you see?

MICHEAL AVENATTI, AMERICAN ATTORNEY AND ENTERPRENEUR: Well, I'm going to go with options two and three, certainly not option one. I think this interview was in large part a big nothing-burger. I think he's playing games, John, with the American people.

It's clear to me that Michael Cohen's loyalties still lie with the President. If he wanted to come clean about what he knows and what he has on the President, there's nothing stopping him from doing it right now if his intentions were pure.

If you want to be a hero, and if you classify yourself as a patriot under the circumstances and that's what Michael is now attempting to get the American people to believe, you don't wait for the arrest warrant. You don't wait to be indicted. You don't wait to find out what the charges are. You do the right thing for the sake of doing the right thing. And it's just that simple.

BERMAN: Let me ask you this, though, because he is severing the joint legal defense that he has had with the President's personal lawyers. His new lawyer, Guy Petrillo, will work on his own there. Isn't that significant? We saw that prior to Michael Flynn copping a plea.

AVENATTI: Well, actually that's not entirely accurate. And it's been reported -- misreported in the press repeatedly. That agreement was only going to be in place during the time period that they were reviewing these documents for the sake of privilege.

So, there's been no overt severing of that agreement, and I think people are reading far too much into that. The fact remains there is nothing to indicate, John, that Michael Cohen is anything but loyal to this president. And I think he's trying to pay lip service to this concept of patriotism and love of country.

BERMAN: So you keep saying and I've seen you in other interviews as well, that Michael Cohen had something on the president. That you think he should call prosecutors right away and reveal what that is.