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Boys Football Team Spends 12th Day in Flooded Cave; Defiance and Demonstrations in Poland; Deported El Salvadorans Face Uncertain Future; Protester Temporarily Shuts Down Statue of Liberty; Couple Exposed to Deadly Chemical Weapon; Crews Searching For Chimneys Above Cave Network; Monsoon Rains Threaten Efforts To Bring Out Boys; President Asked Advisers About Invading Venezuela; Concerns About Trump's Deference To Russian Leader. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 5, 2018 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: You're watching CNN NEWSROOM, live from Los Angeles. Ahead this hour, the Russia connection. Police confirm the same type of military grade nerve agent which poisoned an ex-soviet spy is to blame for leading a British couple in hospital in critical condition. Also ahead, dive, drill and drain. Three rescue operations underway at the same time to try and save a youth football team from a flooded cave in Thailand before more heavy rain arrives. And Venezuelan invasion? Sources say Donald Trump led aides stunned by suggesting a military operation against Caracas. Even so, he raised a possibility with other leaders in Latin America. Hello! It's great to have you with us. I'm John Vause and this is NEWSROOM L.A.

Investigators have found a link between a British couple found poisoned and a former Russian double-agent and his daughter who almost killed with a nerve agent back in March. Dawn Sturgess and Charlie Rowley were found unconscious at their home in the small town of Amesbury. Test results were revealing.


NEIL BASU, ASSISTANT COMMISSIONER OF SPECIALIST OPERATIONS: Following the details analysis of those samples, we can confirm that the man and woman have been exposed to the nerve agent Novichok which has been identified as the same nerve agent that contaminated both Yulia and Sergei Skripal.


VAUSE: CNN's Matthew Chance live for us now in Moscow. So Matthew, the Kremlin all along has denied any involvement in the Skripal poisoning. No doubt there will be similar denials on their way for this latest incident especially if the pro-Russian news outlets are any guide.

MATTHEW CHANCE, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, and in fact Russia today, which is (INAUDIBLE) it calls itself now which is one of the Russian government's main propaganda channels, the broadcast to the world, has already put out an article saying that -- I've got it in front of me, saying, analysts say it is just what the United Kingdom wants. The U.K. being hell-bent on vilifying Russia. And that this into not just the narrative on Russia propaganda channels but the narrative that's been coming from Russian officials, Russian diplomat as well in the U.K. and elsewhere. This whole Novichok poisoning scandal in which, of course, the Skripals were poisoned back in March and now these two individuals in a town a short distance away, is a kind of diversion by the British government, a diversion too to distract from the negotiations about Brexit, is one theory floated that's been floated by Russian diplomats.

Another theory that was floated by Russian diplomats is that it is a diversion to -- from a pedophile scandal inside Britain. It's also -- the Russian government is also accused various other NATO allies of being the source of the Novichok. That's not the position though, of course, of the -- of the British government. They believe that Russia is the source of the Novichok. It was produced, they say, in a highly specialized laboratory. And of course, when it comes to the Skripals, Russia had the motive because the father Skripal was a former agent with the Russian security services. With the two latest British couple -- British individuals that were poisoned, there's no link with Russia. There's no link with espionage.

But the British authorities say that Novichok, the same substance, the nerve agent that was used to poison the Skripals was used to poison them as well. What's not clear at the moment is whether it was the same batch of Novichok that was dumped after the attack on the Skripals or whether this was -- this is a new batch of Novichok as it were. But the theories I'm hearing out of Britain is that the tendency is towards the latter. This may have been the Novichok that was used to poison the Skripals, but no evidence of that yet.

VAUSE: Yes, and in the months after the Skripals were poisoned, social media was followed. A whole other alternative theories being pushed by the English language Russian news outlet. In April, the Atlantic Council announced a review of the motion articles in social media suggesting the content from Kremlin-owned and pro-Kremlin media outlet, far outright main street and independent media on audience engagement statistics. In all of this, that is low-cost high impact campaign to make doubt over Russia's involvement (INAUDIBLE) has been affected. Now on this new case, which I guess in many ways adds to the entire process of muddying the waters.

[01:05:00] CHANCE: It does. It does muddy the waters. I'm not entirely sure as to how effective the campaign has been. I mean a recent survey in Britain suggested that I think it was 75 percent of people who were polled believed that Russia was responsible, only a small percentage had serious doubts as to whether that was the case. But undoubtedly the Russian media and the various propaganda channels that it uses to create that discord and so that uncertainty will be an overdrive now at least because of the timing of this latest incidents. Remember it comes at a crucial moment for Russia. It is amid staging what has been an extremely successful World Cup. That will provide grist for the mill for those that say this is just another example of Britain trying to vilify Russia and to make it look bad. It also comes significantly ahead of the NATO summit which is being

held in Brussels on the 11th and the 12th of July at which Russia and the threat it poses is going to be a major issue for the Allies to discuss. After that President Trump of course is going to Britain on a state visit in which -- at which undoubtedly the British prime minister will be speaking to him about what intelligence they have and about you know, warning him about his possible date on with Russia. Because on the 16th of July, President Trump and President Putin are meant to be meeting in Helsinki, the Finnish capital to discuss ways that they can you know, rejuvenate the relationship between Washington and Moscow. This is going to complicate that process job.

VAUSE: Or not. I guess we'll waiting and see (INAUDIBLE) U.S. President I guess but Matthew as always, thank you. Senior International Correspondent Matthew Chance live for us there in Moscow. Joining me now is Bob Baer, CNN Intelligence, and Security Analyst former CIA operative and prolific author including the Perfect Kill: 21 Laws for Assassins. Bob, good to see you. Right now we're big on questions, we're short on detail. This case have said a dozen appear the couple was specifically targeted. That still leaves a lot of possibilities, this very thing was accidental exposure to residual left behind from the Skripal poisoning but it's not known if it's the same batch. That leads to more questions whether the narrative comes from. It could be a random attack to create confusion. I could have been an attack which went wrong. So looking at all this, what's your initial assessment of how all this happened?

BOB BAER, CNN INTELLIGENCE AND SECURITY ANALYST: Well, John, I agree with you it's accidental. Novichok comes in a binary form. It could have been mixed a powder form and if it's not exposed to the air or rain it will not dissipate and it could have lasted from March. What I suspect is that these people came maybe in a hotel room, a desk, a car and it only takes 13 milligrams of Novichok to kill you, and that's not much. So a little speck of this, they could have ingested it or even touched it and been -- you know it will kill him if you don't have an antidote and of course Porton Down is working on this around the clock. They probably will survive. But on the other hand, how much more of this stuff is around Britain? You know, frankly --

VAUSE: It kind of raises the question about the, you know, this area is meant to be completely cleaned up and you know detoxified but clearly it wasn't.

BAER: Well, we don't know where they staged the attack from Skripals. It could have been in this very location where they were infected 13 miles away. We simply don't know and reason we don't know is the Russians have not come clean and that's the real question. Clearly, they were behind the Skripal attack nobody with any sense it looks at it any other way. The Russian intelligence was behind this. But the fact is Vladimir Putin has flat-out denied it. He's refused to cooperate with Britain and we don't -- we simply don't know how many more people can be -- can come into contact with this until they're forced to come clean.

VAUSE: When it comes to the Russians and Vladimir Putin, they have been very good at flooding social media with alternative theories about what may or may not have happened essentially muddying the waters. A lot of them are now pointing to Porton Down where these tests are being carried out. It's a military biological research facility. What do they know in trying to find out if this is the same batch of Novichok which was used in the Skripal poisoning four months ago? That attack took place in Salisbury which is just eight miles away from that research facility in Porton Down. The latest victims that attack happened at Amesbury less than 10 miles away from Porton Down. So you know, what the Russian media be putting out over the last couple hours is this is just quite the coincidence.

BAER: No it's not. It's like Alex Jones. You know, you can come up with these conspiracy theories as much as you like but the fact is that Porton Down did not go out and attempt to assassinate the Skripals, they do not lose track of this stuff, and they are not going out and trying to assassinate random civilians. It's just -- it's just -- it's conspiracy theory. The Russians are trying to cover this up. Putin made another mistake. He has a long history of murdering people both in Russia and abroad. Let's don't -- Litvinenko, that was another assassination he's denied but clearly the trade, the forensic trail goes back to Moscow. It was tracked on airplanes. So to simply deny fact it's not -- it's not going to play with Britain.

VAUSE: Just -- I want to get -- look at some of these conspiracy theories down because a lot of it is said on Porton Down. That's where they started making chemical and biological weapons in more than 100 years ago. According to the U.K. government, Russians stop decades ago and now Porton Down helps develop effective medical countermeasures that test systems. They say we produce very small quantities of chemical and biological agents. They're stored securely and disposed of safely when they're no longer required. So you're saying there's actually no chance that saying they've gone wrong there with the storage and the disposal. Maybe the poisoning is the result of some kind of accident?

BAER: No it's -- you know, the fact that this Russian defector and his daughter were infected with it, it makes no sense in a -- in a rational world, not at all. In Porton Down, you know, if somehow they lost control of it, there would be an inquiry, they would come clean on this. It's the way Britain works. I just do not believe it. And you just have to look at Putin's record. He has killed hundreds of people, assassinated them, and you know every finger, every intelligence service is pointing at Moscow at the Kremlin.

VAUSE: One of the other sort of popular conspiracy theories out there is pointing to the fact that the U.K. government last month announced it would buy the home where the Skripals lived and were poisoned. They'll also take position of their belongings between inside the home and the car so you know, a lot of speculation coming from Russian media and Russia's embassy. This is all about destruction of evidence by the U.K. government.

BAER: It's a criminal investigation. Look, Russia is a closed state, Britain is not. They simply cannot cover this up. Now, frankly, I pay no attention these conspiracy theories. The real question is why would Vladimir Putin take the risk of assassinating somebody in Britain with a nerve agent. First time, it makes me wonder what goes through his mind and that's what really scares me.

VAUSE: Maybe he feels emboldened by the current state of world politics, who knows.

BAER: Well, look on -- yes, look on the 16th if they don't do something about this at Helsinki where he'd make it away with it yeah.

VAUSE: Yes, good point. Good point to finish on. Bob, thanks so much.

BAER: Thanks.

VAUSE: Rescue crews in Thailand are searching for air vents in the hills above the cave where 12 boys and their football coach are trapped. Rescuing the boys through a so-called chimney could be a lot safer than the current plan to have them swim out one by one using scuba gear and guided by Navy divers. You know, we just show the boys are in good spirits. Navy SEALs have delivered food, freshwater, as well as blankets, and find to stay with them until there's a plan in place to get everyone to safety. CNN's David McKenzie live in Northern Thailand. First David, essentially there's three plans right now, diving, draining, and drilling. They're moving ahead with all three at the same time. So what will determine which plan is ultimately the one they go with?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One major factor is the weather, John. They are looking at a potentially major rain starting in just a couple of days. And if those waters rise up faster than they are pumping it out, they say they're going to try and get those kids off as quickly as possible. This is the entrance to the staging ground. If you look closer over there, you've got military at the entrance guarding the area. You have scuba tanks, the scuba regulators for the SEAL Teams that are going in and out. It's an incredibly difficult journey just for these experienced divers, John, going towards that staging ground in the state chamber where they are trying to get closer to those kids.

Now, five or six hours at least for the professional divers to get to where those 12 young boys and their coach are hunkering down after many days now under the surface. And those options you described, none of them are easy options and the underwater option is particularly difficult. Some new video here of drilling trying to wide and open the areas where they can move through to get the children out. Of course, they have looked in good spirits generally considering the terrible circumstances but you know, time is ticking and the longer they stay out there, under there, the more difficult it will be to motivate them, to put on potentially these masks, these full facemasks and pull them out through. But you've got a huge staging area now.

[01:15:00] Lots of people from international community -- U.S. seen, the U.S. soldiers here this morning. The Australian divers, U.S. divers and obviously, the people of Thailand all looking, and hoping and praying that somehow they'll pull off this rescue. You know, they thought when they found the kids that was a huge moment of hope it was. But now, it's really sinking in just how difficult this whole process can be as you see some of the cave is passing by me. John?

VAUSE: You -- what's interesting, David is that you know, the trolling, obviously to make life as comfortable as they possibly can for these 12 kids. They're stuck in this cave, they were running up fiber-optic cable down to the boys, so they can make some phone calls, they can speak with their families, but that was damaged while moving through a narrow path of the passageway, which again, seems to indicate just how difficult and challenging it is to make that die here from the boys cave all the way back to the surface.

MCKENZIE: Well, yes. You're right and I saw them carrying cables and an old-school phone just about an hour ago through this passageway. So they're trying to reconnect and then extend that communication so that the young boys can talk to their family members that are obviously, agonizingly waiting.

And yes, the technical aspect of this, you know, for those of the viewers that have dived before, just diving in low visibility conditions can be tough. Now you've got almost zero visibility, and you've got a roof over your head. There called a penetration diving, but this is particularly challenging in this instance because they don't have any training, some of them can't swim. At least, some of them, maybe all of them. And they're going to have to do this many hours journey out.

So, at this stage, it's looking like they kind of pump as much water as they can. Almost 2 million liters per hour from three separate pumps to get as much water as they can. So, possibly, they can wait through sections of the cave that is in the mountain behind me. John?

VAUSE: OK, David. Thank you, David McKenzie. It's a very legs they're from Northern Thailand on the rescue efforts. Appreciate it. Thanks, David.

Ben Reymenants is the owner of Blue Label Diving, he's been helping Thai officials with this rescue operation. He joins us now live from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia.

Ben, thanks for being with us. What you know, where from what you've been doing with officials about the Operation? At this point, when the rains arrive Will they absolutely leave the boys cut off and isolated for the next few months? What are the chances it may not be as bad as expected? Or maybe even worse than expected flooding the chamber completely.

BEN REYMENANTS, OWNER, BLUE LABEL DIVING (via skype): Hi, John, Thanks for having me. Yes, that is --

VAUSE: Looks like we've lost Ben, unfortunately. Well, I guess we'll try and get Ben back because Ben has been there pretty much from the beginning with this operation.

He's an experienced diver, he runs a dive shop, as well, in I think, in Phuket. So, he's been there, we've got him back. So, Ben, very quickly, what do you know about the possibility of the flooding and how bad it will be? REYMENANTS: Actually, we already expected so far heavier rain yesterday which didn't comes. So that's a -- time is a little bit on our side, they're still pumping. They are trying to increase the pumper ratio with more pumps. If you can just drop the bottle of a few meters, actually, a swim or float kids out and it's a small passages they have to go through but not the entire length of the -- of the cave system.

OK. So, I guess, one of possibility to get the boys out to safety now. If they don't offer this -- you know, swimming through the -- that passageway, it -- are these chimneys, these vents which leads directly hopefully to where the boys are. There is team spread out now across the hills. Exactly, what are they looking for in these hills above the cave?

REYMENANTS: And so, because it's a forest system, which means a small tracks in the underground river, stage two. And they actually, the one of may see the stalactites that's form in the caves, depositing on these minerals.

So, it definitely heaps of these small cracks and fissures, some of them large, and even smaller. The kids or the manager claimed that they form of a fresh flow of air coming into the room where the kids are.

This could be from an adjacent room, or could also be from the outside would be also, of course, very favorable. There's been reports that kids have heard sounds from chickens and birds. If that's the hallucination, what do they really hear it?

And so, would mean, there is life something nearby, or this, of course, making it's an alternative entrance would be possible which we make things far medium.

The so far, they tried drilling from the top, it is a very, very hard dolomite layer which is almost as far as granite.


REYMEMANTS: And as five -- I guess they can be almost impossible to drill through will take weeks.

VAUSE: Listen, then they're saying that this is actually -- you know, a much better option than swimming from the cave all the way to the entrance. For someone who has never been diving, let alone cave diving. Facing you know, these strong currents, the freezing water, the near-zero visibility. How challenging can it be for someone -- I guess with a lot of experience alone in for a kid who's never done it before who cannot swim?

[01:20:18] REYMENANTS: To put in comparison, the other British team that is -- that be willing lines if taking turn. But at some point, we decided to turn around because it was too dangerous. Just -- and we're in the top 10, 20 cave divers in the planet. There's a reason why people don't -- VAUSE: I think, we've lost Ben again, unfortunately, but he gave us

some good information there about the challenges the rescue teams are facing as all of this kids. Also some insight into what we can expect maybe in the next day or so.

So Ben, if you hear us, thank you for that. We'll take a short break. When we come back on NEWSROOM L.A., the U.S. president talking about invading a sovereign South American country.


VAUSE: Well, we're told he was just thinking out loud. But we are learning that the U.S. President Donald Trump talked with advisers last year about invading Venezuela.

And he also raised the military option with a number of Latin American leaders, as well. Here's Kaitlan Collins, reporting in from the White House.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: President Trump's stunning top aides when he suggested invading Venezuela during a closed-door meeting. Sources telling CNN, Trump raised the idea last summer while discussing diplomatic sanctions. Dumbfounded aides quickly explaining how the idea could backfire.

But Trump continued to push it in the following days, refusing to take military action off the table.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We have many options for Venezuela. And by the way, I'm not going to rule out a military option.

COLLINS: Back at the White House, Trump weighing his options to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court as he closes in on his pick.

TRUMP: I've spent the last three days interviewing and thinking about Supreme Court justices, and I think you'll be very impressive.

COLLINS: Sources telling CNN, he's expected to make a final decision tomorrow or Friday, after interviewing seven potential nominees this week.

TRUMP: We had a home run there, and we're going to hit a home run here.

COLLINS: On the short list, two candidates who are now getting backlash from critics. Facing claims, one isn't conservative enough while the other is too far to the right.

Brett Kavanaugh is one of those too. A federal appeals court judge favored by White House Counsel Don McGahn, facing skepticism from social conservatives for his votes on healthcare and ties to the Bush White House [01:25:16] BRETT KAVANAUGH, JUDGE, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT: Sir, thank you for the privilege of working here and thank you for the honor of nominating me to the court.

COLLINS: Judge Amy Coney Barrett is the other. If nominated, she would be the first woman put on the Supreme Court by a Republican president since 1981.

RONALD REAGAN, FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I will send at the Senate the nomination of Judge Sandra Day O'Connor.

COLLINS: She faces a tough confirmation battle from Democrats, who say her Catholic faith plays too bigger role in her view of the law.

SEN. DIANNE FEINSTEIN (D-CA), SENATE JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Do you have a long history of believing that your religious beliefs you should prevail. The dogma lives loudly within you.

COLLINS: Kaitlin Collins, CNN, the White House.


VAUSE: And it seems, Donald Trump, heads to next week's NATO summit, ready for a confrontation with America's allies after sending scathing letters demanding they increase their defense budgets. At the same time, he's been making nice with Vladimir Putin.

Basically, this will be right after the NATO talks and U.S. allies fear Mr. Trump will go out of his way to impress the Russian President. CNN's Brian Todd reports.

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Almost as if he's Vladimir Putin's lawyer defending him before a jury, President Trump again, recites the Russian president's talking points. Tweeting, "Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with meddling in our election." Something the president also said last fall after meeting Putin face to face.


TRUMP: I believe that President Putin really feels, and he feels strongly that he did not meddle in our election. That despite the president's own intelligence agencies and a new bipartisan Senate report which say Putin wanted Trump to win in 2016 and did meddle.

Trump's own national security advisors H.R. McMaster and John Bolton have both acknowledged Russian meddling. Bolton calling it, quote, "an act of war." Why does the president repeatedly gloss over Putin's meddling? Analysts say, one reason is his insecurity.

JAMES GOLDGEIR, VISITING SENIOR FELLOW, COUNCIL ON FOREIGN RELATIONS: For Trump, this goes against the very legitimacy of his election. He wants to be able to say, "I won this election fair and square, I defeated Hillary Clinton, and nobody helped me. I did it myself.

TODD: But the president repeatedly, unapologetically takes Putin's side on several fronts. Reportedly, he told G7 leaders in Canada that Crimea, the part of Ukraine that Russia invaded and annexed is Russian because everybody who lives there speaks Russian. It's similar to what he said once to ABC.

TRUMP: The people of Crimea from what I've heard would rather be with Russia than where they were.

TODD: Russia was kicked out of the G8 after invading Crimea in 2014. But Trump says Putin should be back in the Alliance.

TRUMP: Russia should be in this meeting. Why are we having a meeting without Russia being in the meeting?

TODD: Analysts believe another reason Trump keeps taking Putin's side is the lingering possibility that Putin may have some kind of leverage over Trump, so-called, comfromat.

STEVEN HALL, FORMER CHIEF OF RUSSIA OPERATIONS: It goes anything from -- you know, untoward behavior in front of a video cameras -- you know, Russian hotels to stuff that is, perhaps, a less -- a little less interesting to most folks which is financial impropriety with Russians, or -- and representatives of Putin in the past.

TODD: Trump has always refuted those implications.


TRUMP: No puppet, no puppet.

HILARY CLINTON, FORMER DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: -- the president of the United States that it's pretty clear --

TRUMP: You're the puppet.

TODD: And this spring, the president's team closed a Russian consulate, and expelled Russian diplomats after the Russians were accused of poisoning a former Russian spy in Britain.

TRUMP: And probably, nobody has been tougher to Russia than Donald Trump.

TODD: But experts say, Trump, delivers a victory to Putin every time he says something like, quote, NATO is as bad as NAFTA, which a diplomat says, he told G7 leaders behind closed doors last month.

GOLDGEIER: Trump is basically handing him a gift that Putin has long sought. In fact, this was a goal of the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War divide the United States and Europe. We never thought a U.S. president would be the one to carry this out.


TODD: Analysts are worried about the long-term implications that Trump's leniency toward Putin is going to have. They say it could send signals to the Russian president that he can meddle in elections in America and elsewhere. Or that he could take aggressive action against other countries, and that America won't stand in the way. Signals that are very dangerous when it comes to Vladimir Putin. Brian Todd, CNN, Washington.


VAUSE: Next on NEWSROOM L.A. Anti-government demonstrations in Poland to support a Supreme Court judge who defies a new law.


VAUSE: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

Police in the U.K. say two people found unconscious were exposed to the same military grade nerve agent that almost killed a former Russian spy and his daughter back in March. All were poisoned by the Soviet era chemical Novichok.

The couple in this latest incident are in critical condition in Amesbury, not far from where the attack on the Skripals took place.

Venezuela's president told his country's armed forces to now lower their guard on Wednesday after reports surfaced that President Trump raised the possibility of the U.S. invading Venezuela. An administration official said Mr. Trump made those remarks last August; a senior administration official says Donald Trump was just thinking out loud.

Heavy rain is threatening to complicate rescue efforts for the youth football team trapped for 12 days now in a cave in Thailand. Rescuers say it would be safer to bring the boys up through air vents if they can find any rather than through the flooded cave.

But the boys' families are anxious for this ordeal to be over, but authorities insist safety must come first.

ITN Channel 4's Jonathan Miller reports.


JONATHAN MILLER, ITN CHANNEL 4: Hands folded in the traditional wai greeting, the 12 school boys from Chiang Rai introduce themselves to their adoring and transfixed compatriots and the world.

Gaunt and exhausted after 11 days trapped in the bowels of a jungled mountain, the members of the Wild Boar football team managed smiles and even a joke or two.

They have got seven Thai Navy Seals for company now, experienced divers, who squeezed through claustrophobic passageways laden with food and supplies, diving doctors have treated them for minor cuts and bruises and say they're in remarkably good shape.

At the rescue command HQ their moms watch, delighted, relieved, but their anxiety is not over.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm dying to see him. I miss him so much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I'm so glad he's still alive and safe. I'm speechless. I want to thank everyone who helped.

MILLER: Families tantalizingly close to being reunited, but the dilemmas posed by how best to extract the boys continue to focus minds among members of this international rescue effort.

[01:34:58] Another mercifully rain free day allowed rehearsals for evacuation. Sitting out the monsoon months is not an attractive option, but may yet prove the safest. Exploring potholes, fissures and chimneys leading down from the lines (INAUDIBLE) ridge above the cavern could yet open up another possible escape route.

But deep below, the navy divers aren't wasting time, teaching the boys many of whom can't even swim to use scuba gear. As these pictures clearly show, bringing them out through the partially submerged cave system would pose grave risks.

CLAUS RASMUSSEN, THAI CAVE DIVING ASSOCIATION: The dangerous part will be the panic. It's the narrow passages -- there's lots of very narrow passages. There's lots of flow still going on. So although it goes down it still becomes a hazard just being in the water and going with the flow or going against it.

It is hard work and it is a scary sensation if you're not used to it and even when you are used to it, it can be very scary.

NARONGSAK OSOTTANAKORN, CHIANG RAI GOVERNOR (through translator): We need to be 100 percent confident in order to get the boys out. It does not have to happen all at one time. It depends on the situation. We are assessing it now, and if there is a risk we will not move them.

MILLER: The reality is that the risks of extraction are at least as great as the technical challenges this operation poses. The rains have held off and inside the chamber the water level has significantly lowered.

But this rescue would involve at least half a mile of actual cave diving, often against those currents and in zero visibility. Are they prepared to risk all that?

Well, it is about as tough a call as you could ever have to make. And they're going to have to make it soon because that weather window is closing.

One of Thailand's most revered monks visited the cave tonight to pray for the boys' deliverance.

"They set out in search of an adventure, now this entire nation is praying that their misadventure will soon be over."


VAUSE: Ok. Well, let's go to an update on the weather, which has cooperated so far for the rescuers. But meteorologist Derek Van Dam, you're there with all the forecast, all the maps and the outlook. So what are we looking at here specifically with this window of opportunity?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: Yes. Well, it continues to narrow in terms of the dry weather that we have been blessed with here for the past several days. We do expect the rainfall to pick up in intensity as time goes on.

Let's get to the details. Satellite loop -- rather quiet across northern Thailand; you can see much of the rain has really been focused across the coastal areas of Myanmar so several hundred kilometers away from the northern sections of Thailand where Chiang Rai is located.

The rest of the day today, maybe a few pop-up thunderstorms, but light rain expected tomorrow, even less chances of rainfall.

But as we head into the weekend and into early parts of next week, things start to change. Here is the pop-up kind of diurnally-driven thunderstorms that we're expecting today. That means once we get the daytime heating from the sun, few cumulonimbus clouds start to pop up and we could maybe pick up five to ten millimeters of rainfall.

But chances really look more likely to see the rain pick up in intensity as we head into next week. This is the next seven days -- each individual day with how much rain we expect according to one European forecast model. And you can see by Wednesday of next week, perhaps even upwards of 14 to 15 millimeters in a 24-hour period; so not good news.

That narrow window of opportunity for dry weather is starting to close. So the five-day accumulated rainfall across this region looks like we could pick up easily another 50 to 100 millimeters and even ramp up more because, of course, the monsoon season is starting to pick up in intensity across that area.

According to the Thai Meteorological Association the northern sections of Thailand for the months of July to September coming up, we have a 10 percent above normal monsoon forecast for that area.

So good news, John is that it's dry now. But the bad news, the long range forecast calls for more rain.

VAUSE: Ok. Derek -- we appreciate the outlook. Thank you.

VAN DAM: All right.

VAUSE: Poland's most senior judge joined angry protesters with her own show of defiance, she turned up for work. Under a new law judges over 65 are required to retire and that includes the head of Poland's Supreme Court.

Demonstrators have been out in force in major cities for days claiming the new laws are an attempt by the government to intimidate the judiciary and consolidate power. The controversial law has left those running Poland isolated within the E.U. Atika Shubert has more now from Warsaw.


ATIKA SHUBERT, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): An evening mass at Warsaw Cathedral in February of this year, attended by the most powerful man in Poland. Jaroslaw Kaczynski, barely visible behind his bodyguards, is dubbed the king of Poland for his undisputed control of the ruling Law and Justice Party.

This is Kaczynski's vision for Poland, fiercely patriotic, deeply Catholic, driven by revenge. But to must understand Jaroslaw Kaczynski, you must understand the influence of his identical twin, Lech Kaczynski.

[01:40:03] MICHAL KRZYMOWSKI, KACZYNSKI BIOGRAPHER: He always repeated that Lech was the better twin. He was made for honors. And I'm the bad guy.

SHUBERT: Child film stars, Jaroslaw and Lech Kaczynski grew up to become prime minister and president. In the book, Krzymowski describes Lech as popular; Jaroslaw as driven and ambitious, a recluse with no mobile phone, who never uses a computer and eats lunch alone.

He interviewed more than a hundred of his close friends and associates but Kaczynski himself declined to be interviewed.

"This changed everything". In 2010, President Lech Kaczynski, his wife and 96 people in all were killed when their plane crashed in Smolensk, Russia. Kaczynski immediately called the crash an assassination by Russia -- an accusation the country denied. An independent investigation determined the crash was a result of bad weather and human error.

Since the Smolensk crash, Kaczynski's Law and Justice Party has a new patriotic zeal. It has since overhauled the constitutional court, replacing independent judges with handpicked favorites. State broadcasters have been sacked for failing to report the party line. His party has passed new laws threatening jail time for women seeking an abortion.

It is all been worrying enough for the E.U. to issue a warning. "Stop interfering with the rule of law or risk losing voting rights in the E.U."

MICHAL KAMINSKI, UNION OF EUROPEAN DEMOCRATIC PARTY: If you will ask me how to describe to the international public who Kaczynski is, I would say he's the kind of Trump without a strong American institution. Or he's a kind of a Putin but with a very strong institution.

SHUBERT: In 2015, Kaczynski's party won 37 percent of the vote and consolidated power in a coalition government. But he refused to run for top office, choosing instead to direct from behind the scenes.

He told his party Congress "Our goal is to rebuild, revitalize Poland's intelligentsia, linked to an ethos of social service, of patriotism and in large part to the Catholic Church."

KRZYMOWSKI: All the people, all the important people are obedient to him -- prime minister, ministers, judges.

SHUBERT (on camera): Are people afraid of him?

KRZYMOWSKI: Yes -- very, very much.

SHUBERT (voice over): His party deputy refutes that.

"I think he has shown that he's the most able politician in Poland," he says. "I am, of course, the vice president of his party, so I can't really say anything else. That's a joke, of course. Everyone acknowledges and respects Mr. Kaczynski's decisions. It is impossible to undermine his authority."

After the memorial mass for the Smolensk crash, Kaczynski leads the crowd to his brother's memorial with chants of "Jaroslaw". Supporters surge to the cobblestone streets of the old town surrounded by scores of police blocking off the roads for them.

Despite the crowds, there is also a small loud protest against Kaczynski and the Law and Justice Party. But opposition groups have yet to pose any threat to Kaczynski's grip on power.

CNN asked Mr. Kaczynski for an interview but he declined.

Atika Shubert, CNN -- Warsaw, Poland. >


VAUSE: With immigration crackdown in the United States, we'll look at what's driving illegal crossings from one of the most dangerous countries in Central America.

That's next on NEWSROOM L.A.


VAUSE: In Central America, El Salvador is mired in abject poverty and gang violence. It's also a main source of illegal immigration to the United States. And now with the U.S. zero-tolerance crackdown, many deported El Salvadorans are facing an uncertain future.

Nick Paton Walsh reports.


NICK PATON WALSH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Someone murdered here every two hours, one in ten people ensnared by gangs. Streets plagued by machete killings, rape and police abuses. Welcome to El Salvador -- the cruelest of homelands and the toughest of places to be forced back to.

These are the first moments of men deported from the United States back to a land they can't really call home anymore. Blinking, sleepless and now homeless -- they're just some of the tens of thousands deported or facing deportation from the United States under President Trump's expanding zero tolerance policy. Yet many of these men have lived long-term in the U.S.A.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We cannot let people enter our country. We have no idea who they are, what they do, where they came from. We don't know if they're murderers, if they're killers, if they're MS-13 -- we're throwing them out by the hundreds.

WALSH (on camera): Many here have had a matter of hours notice, no chance even to call ahead, as they're forced back to a country some have not seen for years, maybe even decades.

(voice over): The welcome home here is about name tags, humiliating roll calls, lacing your shoes again and realizing as a grown man you have to start from zero again, empty handed.

Christian Lara lived in the U.S.A. for 20 years, and was deported coming out to this Florida construction job. He had only committed immigration offenses. The best choice now is a $5 a day farm job.

CHRISTIAN LARA, DEPORTED FROM THE U.S.: I have to work a lot to earn $5 but how can I support my family with only $5?

WALSH: He doesn't know when or if he'll see his family again.

(on camera): What are your daughter's names?

LARA: Jennifer.

WALSH: Sorry?

LARA: Jennifer.

WALSH: Jennifer. How old?

LARA: 12.

WALSH: 12.

LARA: And another one of three years.

WALSH: Three years. Her name?

LARA: My little baby -- Angela.

WALSH: I'm sorry.

(voice over): Oscar is more complicated. He's 20, went to America age 10, and served four months for assault and bodily harm in Houston. Yet back here, he trembles.

(on camera): Are you scared of the gangs here now?


WALSH: Are you scared you may end up involved and caught up in that?

OSCAR: When I was in the U.S.A., I see news like 16 people killed every day. That's scaring me, man.

WALSH: He's already counting the money in his account to see if he has enough -- the $8,000 smuggling fee back to the U.S.

Christian meets his mother after four years and recently deported brother, Josue. Only two weeks later, Josue messages me on his way to Guatemala to pay to be smuggled back to the United States.

[01:50:07] Forty-eight hours passed since we meet Christian and Oscar, in which there are two beheadings, over 20 murders and a policeman is killed.

(on camera): It's no accident that these elite police come here in large number heavily-armed. This is a gang controlled area and literally streets away from where Oscar is beginning his new life back in El Salvador.

(voice over): Oscar agrees to meet us again. He's had two nights in his new home, but it took just four hours for the gang to approach him.

OSCAR: MS-13, they take my shirt down. And I tell him, what you doing man? I want to check if you've got tattoos on your body. Ok. I don't have any tattoo on my body. All right.

WALSH (on camera): Because he's looking to see if you're Barrio 18 or the other gang, right? And this is your what -- your first few hours back at home, right?

What are you thinking, like -- it is all right. It is all right.

OSCAR: Man, I don't want to live here. I'll be leaving here.

WALSH (voice over): His dad didn't want to know him.

OSCAR: He looked like I'm a (EXPLETIVE DELETED), man. He was like, why are you coming round to my house, man?

WALSH: And this is what falling down here looks like. In the crammed prisons that are gang playgrounds where Oscar, his family and the U.S. frankly hope he doesn't end up, where gang culture brews and hardens and tattoos and no opportunities unavoidably lead.

Petty theft in California led to deportation for Edwin and now jail.

EDWIN, DEPORTED FROM THE U.S.: Here in this country, if you've got tattoos, the gangs automatically think that you are a member of some gang or you have been part of a gang.

So here it is different. I mean little kid can take your life away. If you don't talk to them, you're the enemy. And if you talk to them, then they want you to be part of them. WALSH: Some deportees from the United States have committed crimes,

others none while being in the U.S. illegally. All come back to a world where their desperation and vulnerability and the risk for gangs have on their new world deepens further still El Salvador's chaos.

Nick Paton Walsh, CNN -- San Salvador.


VAUSE: Well, still to come here, on this American Independence Day, at this beacon of freedom one protester made her stand demanding nothing less than Lady Liberty's promise for the young, undocumented children being held by the U.S. government.


VAUSE: It sure sounds like the lawyer for adult film star Stormy Daniels is looking to take down the U.S. President, not just in the courtroom, but in politics, as well. On Twitter Michael Avenatti said, "If he seeks re-election, I will run. But only if I think that there is no other candidate in the race that has a real chance of beating him. We can't relive 2016. I love this country our values and our people too much to sit by while they are destroyed."

[01:55:05] Avenatti's suing Donald Trump alleging he defamed his client Stormy Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006 which the President has denied.

At the base of the Statue of Liberty is a plaque with one of most famous lines of poetry, "Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore".

And on this American Independence Day, Lady Liberty is where one protester made her stand demanding nothing less for more than 2,000 undocumented immigrant children being held in detention centers by the Trump administration.

Brynn Gingras has more.


BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (on camera): For more than three hours it was a standoff between New York City police officers and a protester who was standing her ground at the foot of Lady Liberty. Her protest against President Trump's immigration policies, a part of a group called rise and Resist, a group formed here in New York City back in 2016 in direct reaction to the election.

Their Web site post says they aim to oust the Trump administration, though we talked to that group -- eight protesters in all went out to the Statue of Liberty to protest wearing "Abolish ICE" t-shirts, but this eighth protester climbed the actual statue.

In all, all eight of these protesters were arrested. But as I said, it took more than three hours for officers to actually get to this protester, using a system of ropes to safely bring her down and finally put her under arrest.

In the meantime though, we know on this Fourth of July here in the United States, in New York City, the New York Harbor was shut down. That island which attracts tourists on the July 4th holiday was also evacuated.

We learned that a company that brings tourists there and also nearby Ellis Island turned away 3,000 tourists who wanted to get there as this was all unfolding. But the good news, this protester brought to safety now under arrest for an immigration policy that she was against, but now under arrest for.

Back to you.


VAUSE: Brynn -- thank you.

And thank you for watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles.

I'm John Vause. The news continues right here on CNN after a short break.


[02:00:08] ROSEMARY CHURCH, CNN ANCHOR: First it was a former Russian spy and his daughter, now authorities in the U.K. are baffled by the nerve --