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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT

Embattled EPA Chief Resigns Amid Ethics Scandals; Trump Takes Credit For Lack Of North Korean Nuke Tests, Launches; HHS: Under 3,000 Kids Separated From Parents In Government Custody; CNN: Michael Cohen Doesn't Think Trump Would Pardon Him; Forecast of Torrential Rain Complicates Rescue Plans. Aired 7-8p ET

Aired July 5, 2018 - 19:00   ET

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


[19:00:11] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, the breaking news. Embattled EPA Chief Scott Pruitt resigns. And despite the scandals, the President still coming to his defense.

Plus, a shocking new admission. The Trump administration now suggesting hundreds more children may have been separated from their parents at the border. Do they have any idea how many kids they have?

And breaking news, Michael Cohen further distancing himself from the President. What is he scared of? Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, breaking news. Scott Pruitt is out. President Trump telling reporters he has accepted the resignation of his embattled EPA Chief, saying it was very much up to him, Pruitt. And that Pruitt didn't want to be a distraction. It's a surprising resignation, given that just 24 hours ago, Pruitt was with the President at the White House fourth of July picnic. The President even giving him a shout-out.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're also honored to be joined by members of my cabinet, Administrator Scott Pruitt.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: But today, Pruitt writing to the President this in part. "It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in this role first because I count it a blessing to be serving you in any capacity, but also, because of the transformative work that is occurring. However, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us."

The unrelenting attacks Pruitt speaks of are actually a stream of scandals which he created. A stream of scandals being investigated by his own agency. The list goes on and on. We'll just keep that there while we continue to roll on, because it's a lot. It's 24-hour security to his first-class travel, accusations of wasteful spending, questionable terminations, and some of the more awkward problems he's run up against, using his detail to hunt down a particular lotion, using his aides to secure a used hotel mattress, and then there's the bargain basement condo rental from an industry lobbyist.

Pruitt's facing at least 14 federal probes, so which was a step too far? After all, Donald Trump has always applauded Pruitt for successfu0lly pushing Trump's agenda, with a major focus on doing away with regulation in the agency meant to protect the environment. But all along, Trump stood by his mound.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. I mean, we're setting records.

Administrator Scott Pruitt. Thank you, Scott, very much. EPA is doing really, really well.

I think that Scott has done a fantastic job. I think he's a fantastic person.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT, live at the White House for us. So, Jeff, just yesterday Pruitt was at the White House, as we noted and got a shout-out from the President. After all of this, the resignation did seem to come out of the blue.

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good evening, Kate. It came out of the blue, but boy, was it a long time in the making there. I mean, there was a sense for months here, is this the last straw for Scott Pruitt? But he kept going on and on.

One of the reasons for that, we heard along the way and again, just in the last several days, is that people who, you know, are big contributors and friends of this President who have business in the oil and gas industry liked what Scott Pruitt was doing. He was being advised by many people on the outside to leave him in place. So he did that for a long time.

But there's no question, it just got to be -- you know, something of an anchor, something of a wait here, particularly in the midterm election season. But it came out of the blue in the sense that no one at the EPA, Kate, was notified until 15 minutes ago. That's more than three hours after the President first announced this. So the reality here is the President and his Chief of Staff, John Kelly, I'm told, decided that, you know, it was time to wrap this up. But the President was having none of that on Air Force One as he was flying to Montana to a campaign rally, where he's been talking for about an hour and he's not mention Scott Pruitt.

He praised Scott Pruitt and said this was entirely up to him, it was his decision. So they're trying to revise this history, essentially, and not talk about those investigations. But Kate, we know tonight that at least a majority of those investigations are likely to go on and continue about the ethics improprieties during his time in office there. But certainly, a long time coming. But perhaps bearing it during a holiday week, they hope by next week, it's forgotten about.

BOLDUAN: I'm sure they would hope it's tomorrow. But anyway, who's replacing Pruitt?

ZELENY: Well, the deputy who's at the EPA, his name is Andrew Wheeler. He's a former oil and gas lobbyist. He has spent a lot of time on Capitol Hill working for one of the biggest climate change deniers, who was serving in the Senate. And there's no question that Andrew Wheeler, who actually sent that note out to EPA employees just a few minutes ago, he'll be taking over as acting.

Unclear if the President is going to actually try to nominate him for that position. But Kate, one thing that's clear, the policies and the issues will be exactly the same. No new policy changes with Andrew Wheeler, but he certainly does not have the cloud of controversy hanging over him that Scott Pruitt did. Kate?

[19:05:14] BOLDUAN: Hard to compare with that. Great to see you, Jeff. Thank you so much.

ZELENY: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT tonight, Mark Preston is here, Senior Political Analyst, and Julie Hirschfeld Davis is "New York Times" White House Reporter, and Tim Naftali is here, Presidential Historian. All right, so, Julie, the scandals surrounding Pruitt have been going on for months. What do you think was the last straw?

JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, it's really hard to know what the last straw was because as these scandals, time after time, would be revealed, the President did not seem to be disturbed by any of them. In fact, as you mentioned earlier, when he talked about this today he didn't even mention any of the allegations against Scott Pruitt or say that any of this was anything that he regarded as unacceptable. I think the fact is that he felt that Scott Pruitt was doing a good job at what he wanted in his EPA administrator, which was, you know, robust deregulation and the undoing of a lot of the Obama administration environmental agenda. And certainly steps taken to try to combat climate change.

He also had a personal rapport with Scott Pruitt. And I think that is an underappreciated part of the story here. Inside of the White House, a lot of his aides have been telling him for weeks, even months, that this person is somebody who really needed to go, that the allegations against him just kept stacking up. That this was not going in a good direction, and the trajectory wasn't going to change, but the President really did not want to hear that.

And so I think it's a mystery actually, what was the final straw? But I do think that the fact that it is a midterm election season probably had something to do with it. If they want to continue this deregulatory trend, it's better to have someone there who doesn't have a cloud of scandal hanging over his head. And of course he will take the agency exactly in the same direction, most likely.

BOLDUAN: And Mark, President Trump on Air Force One on his way to Montana was asked if there was anything about the accusations against Pruitt that troubled him and he wouldn't say. And Pruitt in his resignation letter notably wrote this in part. "The unrelenting attacks on me personally, my family, are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll on all of us." No acknowledgment of the scandals by either Trump or Pruitt. So this is the media's fault?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it's interesting. There's no question that it's taken a sizable toll on Scott Pruitt and his family. But it is -- we've been saying here for the past few minutes, it's all self-inflicted. These are all things that Scott Pruitt has done to himself. The reason why we hadn't seen President Trump, I think, come out and become critical of Scott Pruitt is that everything that Scott Pruitt was doing had really nothing to do with President Trump, in the sense that while it embarrassed him that his cabinet secretary was spending lavishly and was making questionable judgments and hirings over at the EPA, it really didn't affect President Trump. Because what President Trump had at the EPA was someone who did everything that he wanted them to do.

As did conservatives all throughout Washington. That's why you didn't hear this drum beat of, Scott Pruitt has got to go. You heard some voices within the Republican Party such as Susan Collins, a few others. But the bottom line is, they liked what Scott Pruitt was doing. But it's gotten too hot right now, we're heading into midterm elections and Scott Pruitt had to go.

BOLDUAN: Tim, I can't get off of it. I just find myself wondering, though, what's the difference between allegation 14 and allegation 4 when it comes to him? I mean, listen to the President just a month ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Well, Scott Pruitt is doing a great job within the walls of the EPA. I mean, we're setting records. Outside, he's being attacked very viciously by the press. And I'm not saying that he's blameless, but we'll see what happens.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TIM NAFTALI, FORMER DIRECTOR, NIXON PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: Well, here's a guess. I think it's the fact that you've got a scotus appointment that's going to be nominated -- is going to be announced on Monday and this is distraction. This is a thing to get rid of. You want to -- if the trajectory, as Jeff was saying, if the trajectory is going to get worse and worse, you may as well get rid of him now.

Yes, the midterms are a factor. In Trump country, corruption is a very good issue for Democrats to run on. And this is an EPA administrator who actually had a portable swamp with him. But I think the timing may be a function of the fact that we've got an appointment, we've got a scotus announcement coming up next week.

BOLDUAN: Julie, no one can forget that the President promised over and over again that he was going to be hiring the best people. If we need a little walk down memory lane, which I always love, here it is.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: I have the best people lined up. The cabinet, we're going to have all the best people. We're going to find out who they are. We're going to use our smartest and our best. We're not using political hacks anymore.

We want experts, our finest people. We don't want people that are b- level, c-level, d-level. We have to get our absolute best.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: So according to the Associated Press tonight, Trump has had more turnover of cabinet-level positions than any president at this point in their presidency in the last 100 years, Julie. What does that say about how this administration is functioning?

DAVIS: Well, I think it says two things. One, in this case, I think if you ask Donald Trump, he would say that Scott Pruitt was the best person to run EPA, which shows you what a narrow view he had of what a cabinet member needs to do.

[19:10:13] I mean, you heard him talk about, within the four walls of the EPA, he was doing great work in the President's eyes. But outside of the agency, if you are running your agency in a way that disregards the law and disregards, you know, the public trust, that -- most presidents would not see that as a good member of the cabinet. Secondly, i think it really is this administration's lack of vetting, just coming back to really bite them. Because so many of the people who have had to leave in disgrace or amid a cloud of scandal, it was a question of not having known something from their background or not having adequately vetted the person in advance. And so I think that's been a real deficiency here and has prevented him, in fact, from finding the best people.

BOLDUAN: Tim, give me some perspective on an historical front. If this is more turnover than we've seen on a cabinet level in 100 years, what does it say?

NAFTALI: Well, it says a lot about the Woodrow Wilson administration. I mean, no. I think it -- here -- it goes back to the fact that this President said he would be unpresidential and he was proud of it. The President said that he would find better people and actually he's had a hard time.

The key right now, OK, is the extent to which the American people will see this turmoil as a product of an ineffective president. Or will blame other reasons for this turmoil. There is no question that Donald Trump is not an easy person to work for. There is no question that he requires a level of sycophancy and support that is unusual for presidents.

And Scott Pruitt gave him that level of support. And for Donald Trump, I bet, I would wager -- well, I wouldn't wager, but let me put it this way. I think that getting rid of Scott Pruitt because the people were criticizing Scott Pruitt for things that Donald Trump could be criticized for was one reason he didn't want to get rid of Scott Pruitt. And I suspect that what has caused this is the fact that he wants to clear the decks for his Supreme Court nominee, because he wants that to be another Gorsuch home run.

BOLDUAN: But, Mark, when we talk about midterms coming up and this could be a consideration, I mean, I even heard it from Trump allies, which were said, how can you say we're going to drain the swamp? And how can you run on draining the swamp when you have the epitome of the swamp with you in Pruitt. And that's even Trump allies said. But with him gone, is that line gone as well? Do voters care?

PRESTON: Well, let's just look at it from the Republican perspective. There are a lot of Republicans out there, Conservatives that are upset that Scott Pruitt has left. They thought he's done a good job.

BOLDUAN: Yes.

PRESTON: And quite frankly, these are the 85 percent to 90 percent of the people who think that Donald Trump is doing a good job. So the base is all (ph) that they're going to be disappointed. Where this is going to help is on the edges, when you're looking at independent voters right now, who may not have the same hard edge views when it comes to issues as the environment, as Scott Pruitt did.

Now, as Julie noted, and absolutely so, is that the person who's following the footsteps is going to be the same, if not even more hard line. So it is going to go into the midterm elections and we'll see how it plays out.

BOLDUAN: Yes, all right. Great to see you guys. Stand by to stand by as the cabinet turns.

OUTFRONT next, more on our breaking news. One Democrat who called for Pruitt's resignation is joining me with reaction.

Plus, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo about to land in North Korea. He's under growing pressure to produce tangible results. But what are the chances he leaves with anything concrete from Kim Jong-un?

And the desperate race to save 12 boys and their coach trapped in a cave with monsoon rains on the way. I'm going to speak to a rescue diver who's there about the dangerous mission, still ahead.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:17:33] BOLDUAN: Back with our breaking news. Scandal-plagued EPA Chief Scott Pruitt resigning. President Trump tonight not saying whether those scandals troubled him.

OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman from Virginia, Gerry Connolly. He sits on the House Oversight and Foreign Affairs Committees. Congressman, thanks for coming in.

REP. GERRY CONNOLLY (D), VIRGINIA: Great to be with you, Kate.

BOLDUAN: So tonight you called Scott Pruitt a swamp creature. Are you glad he's gone? CONNOLLY: Yes, I am glad he's gone. I think he was there far too long. It was more than embarrassing to see the pileup of ethical challenges and moral turpitude engaged in by Scott Pruitt and the fact that Trump would tolerate it for so long in exchange for policy decisions he liked. And that was backed up and covered up by their Republican enablers in the Congress, really a very sad moment in American democracy.

BOLDUAN: Congressman, he is being investigated by both Congress and also EPA's inspector general. What happens to those investigations now?

CONNOLLY: Well, that's a really good question, Kate. And I would like to see a full-blown investigation. I mean, the Republicans, you will recall, had a two-year investigation in Benghazi, which produced nothing, because there was nothing there. In this case, we got a lot there. And you refer to congressional investigation. It barely meets that standard. We have yet to have a hearing on Scott Pruitt's many moral inadequacies during his tenure at EPA.

BOLDUAN: Let's be honest, now that he's gone, there's no chance that's going to continue now, right?

CONNOLLY: Probably not. And probably he'll go the way of so many other Trump officials in the cabinet and sub-cabinet level. But the lesson is there. Here's a person who saw public office as an opportunity to sup from the trough, and he did so with all four paws and snout. And it was really a disgusting thing to witness and a shameful moment for the lack of oversight and accountability by this administration and by the Republican majority in Congress.

BOLDUAN: There's a lot more going on. I do want to ask you about North Korea tonight. ] CONNOLLY: Sure.

BOLDUAN: Donald Trump's defense, really all along, as he's gone to talk to Kim Jong-un, is that things are already better and more safe under him. He says that when Obama was president, he was close to going to war. But that things have changed then in the last eight months. Listen to this from tonight.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: You could had a war like you haven't had in a long time. And guess what you have now? Eight months, no nuclear testing, no missiles, no anything.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[19:20:12] BOLDUAN: Is that a good measure? That's just from the President tonight. Is that a good measure? Is President Trump responsible for that?

TRUMP: No, I don't really think so. And I will simply say, you know, we can't have amnesia about North Korea. They have made promises they have reneged on multiple times. They've promised denuclearization three times, agreed to it, and backed away.

Trump, while he's saying that, his own intelligence community is saying, actually, the North Koreans are accelerating the hardening of some sites and accelerating some nuclear development facilities to be able to produce more. And they're clearly engaged and subterfuge to try to hide the fissile material they have.

BOLDUAN: Do you think that's not the point of needing the test that's why -- that's what's more transparent in the last eight months?

CONNOLLY: I don't think they needed to test anymore to make the point they've already made, we are a nuclear power and we have some arsenal of nuclear weapons. You can guess how much and where. Trump raised the standard when he ripped up the Iran nuclear agreement that ironically was working. And so the new Trump standard is absolute denuclearization, absolutely verifiable. And I don't think there's any serious observer in North Korea who believes that the North Koreans are going to agree to those standards.

BOLDUAN: Well, also this tonight. And let me play another thing that Donald Trump just said at this event he's at. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

TRUMP: Now, by the way, Obama would have loved to have met -- they wouldn't see him. They wouldn't see him. One of the first questions I asked when I was over there, they wouldn't see him.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: Trump says that President Obama wanted to meet with Kim Jong-un, but they would not see him. Is that true, Congressman?

CONNOLLY: Not that I know of. Every American president, Republican or Democrat, until this one, has understood that the physical act of meeting with the North Korean leader gave him stature that they didn't want to give for nothing. And I don't believe for a second President Obama wanted to meet with Kim Jong-un or his father. I think that's another trump lie.

And I also think, frankly, it is designed to mask the downside of Trump having done what he did. He raised expectations, he evaluated Kim Jong-un's stature, and he got nothing for it.

BOLDUAN: So the fact that Trump is saying this says what?

CONNOLLY: I think it's just another part of the Trump narrative that's false and misleading and dangerous. Because I think it's going to leave North Korea, as a nuclear power.

BOLDUAN: When can you trust the words? When do you take the words seriously? A reoccurring theme that we must continue to discuss. Congressman, thanks for coming in. Appreciate it.

CONNOLLY: Thank you, Kate. BOLDUAN: All right. OUTFRONT next, the Trump administration finally talking today about the thousands of children still separated from their parents. Where are they getting their facts?

Plus, breaking news. Michael Cohen opening up about his current relationship with the President. Does he think Trump still has his back?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:27:13] BOLDUAN: Tonight, the Trump administration finally talking about the family separation crisis at the border. But, they're not really saying anything. Still not saying how many children are being kept apart from their parents or how many have been reunited.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar really only telling reporters that it's fewer than 3,000 children with about 100 of those under the age 2of five. But considering the number last week was 2,047 kids in their care, what exactly is Azar telling anyone?

Miguel Marquez is OUTFRONT at McAllen, Texas. Miguel, all of this and the government is now up against that court-ordered deadline to get these children back to their parents.

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. There is clearly enormous pressure on the Trump administration to make those reunifications happen. They say that they are working 24 hours a day in some cases to make those reunifications happen. That 3,000 or under 3,000 number that you talk about, what they're not saying, what they're not defining is the number of miners that were separated from their parents as part of the zero-tolerance policy.

We have not seen any reunifications at the behest of the Trump administration yet, but we are seeing the very human side of this. Some of the reunifications that have happened because of groups like the ACLU and other law firms that are representing individuals in a case, we had one today at Logan Airport in Boston. This was Angelica Gonzalez-Garcia. She was -- and her daughter were separated in Arizona in May. They had their reunion today at Boston Logan.

I want you to hear a little of this. It is difficult to watch and to hear.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(OFF-MIC)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

MARQUEZ: Now, she is, amazingly enough, one of the lucky ones. She had lawyers backing her up. She was able to get her initial asylum claim, the credible fear test, as they call it. She passed that, then she was able to get bond, then she got out and then she was able to identify where her child was. They flew her child in to Logan, to meet her and that's the reunion we see now. We are hearing, it is possible, that the Trump administration is beginning to move so the gears of immigration policy to allow more families to be reunited here. We're hearing that some families have gotten bond in southern Texas and that we may begin to see more scenes like that in the days ahead. They're also relying on things like DNA tests, for example, because they say that the timeline is so truncated now because of the judge's order, that they have to use DNA test to identify who these parents are. They say they'll only use it to identify parents and their kids. Kate?

BOLDUAN: That sweet little girl, watching her almost rub her mother's back, consoling her mother is, oh. Great to see, Miguel. Thanks so much.

OUTFRONT with me right now, Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent at "The Nation", and Jason Miller, former senior communications adviser to the Trump campaign.

Thank you so much for being here, guys.

Jason, the numbers. Today, it's under 3,000. Last week, it was just over 2,000.

Why can't they provide -- what's your guess, Jason? Why can't they provide a straight answer?

JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, Kate, when I first heard the 3,000 number today, it was a bit of -- wondering what was going on the messaging side.

If you don't have the number, don't come out and speculate that it's somewhere under 3,000, because the only thing you've gone done is raise the threshold by another 50 percent. What do I know and what I can speak to is that the folks inside the administration are working very hard to reunite these parents and these children. I think the people in the administration are very cognizant of the fact that 88 percent of the American public doesn't think that parents and their children should be separated during this time.

But they're also very cognizant of the fact that 64 percent of people think that for those who enter the U.S. illegally, they should be deported. And 70 percent think we should have stricter enforcement of our immigration laws.

And so, the important thing here is to make sure we get all the facts, so we get families reunited. And that's the important point. And I think anytime the administration gets out there and speculates, that's when they get into trouble.

BOLDUAN: I mean, I don't even know why there's a reason to speculate, Joan. That's what I think a lot of people are concerned about.

JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: Exactly, Kate, because if you're going to take this step and break up families, which is a horrible policy to begin, and I'm glad Jason agrees with me on that, and 88 percent of the American people agree with me on that. If you're going to do that, it's incumbent on you to know where the

father or mother and the child or children are. It really is your job to keep track of them and reunite them as soon as possible.

And the fact that they can't give us numbers, Kate. They don't know the numbers. And when it comes to reunify these families, they're having a hard time doing it. They're losing people.

And the other thing, I want to take slight issue with what Jason said, although we mostly agree on this -- they may be working hard, but I want to say one thing that they're doing that is actually terrible, that we're reading about, which is, they are -- the office of refugee resettlement under president Obama, when it had these kids in its custody, back then, they were unaccompanied minors. They weren't kids separated. But they were waiving -- they were waiving fees for these children to travel.

The Trump administration has been charging families fees to get their kids back. They are doing -- because they've essentially lost control, lost the number, they don't know who the parents are, they're fingerprinting, they're doing this DNA testing.

BOLDUAN: Let me ask you about this DNA element of it because Secretary Azar confirmed today what they're reporting, that they're using DNA testing to connect children with parents. This is how Azar put it this morning. Listen to this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ALEX AZAR, HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES SECRETARY: To ensure that, in fact, these are parents of the children and ensure that they are suitable parent -- suitable individuals to go back to these parents for, we're doing DNA testing on everybody that claims to be the parent of one of our children.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BOLDUAN: But if this gets them back to their parents faster, is it worth it?

WALSH: It's an incredible invasion of privacy. I can't say whether it's worth it or not, but I think it's unconscionable. We're the ones who separated them. And now, I say -- I took your kid, Kate, and now I'm saying, Kate, prove to me that this is your kid.

I mean, the hoops that some member an and women are going through are heartbreaking to get their children back, and DNA is just one of the hoops. We're losing these children.

BOLDUAN: Jason?

MILLER: So, yes -- Joan, one thing where I would respectfully disagree with you on some of this, and Miguel referenced this in the lead-in package, is we don't know how many of children were separated from their parents because of the zero-tolerance policy or how many were separated for other reasons. For example, there are certain reasons why children are separated from

the parents, if they think that they're abusive or they're not actually with their real parents or there could be a danger or there could be a risk. And a lot of these children were separated from their parents well before the zero-tolerance policy even started.

So, I think that's important. I mean, even today, we saw that ICE was breaking up a child trafficking ring in Oakland. And so, there are different scary things like this that are happening all over the place.

So, I like the idea of the DNA testing, simply to make sure that we're matching up the right children with the right parents because --

WALSH: It's an incredibly invasive step and an incredible invasion of privacy.

MILLER: I would disagree because literally --

WALSH: And for the vast majority of these parents, they did nothing wrong to have their child taken away.

MILLER: -- if it saves one child to being handed off to a human trafficker or to a mule or to a drug trafficker or somebody scary, then I'm glad that we saved that child. So, but I think where we do agree on --

WALSH: We generally don't think giving DNA samples is a commonplace thing.

[19:35:00] MILLER: Look, anything that helps gets these families reunited quicker I think is best. I think what the American family supports is having the families together, while the parents, if they brought the family into the U.S. illegally, that means they did not go to a port of entry, they did not go and apply for asylum the right way so they can be processed and ultimately sent back.

What's not popular is the old catch and release policy, which is not fair at all. Where you essentially let folks into the U.S. for years and they don't show back up for their trial. And so --

WALSH: The vast majority did show back up for their asylum --

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: The vast majority do.

MILLER: A lot of them don't. A lot of them don't.

So anyways, we need a broader comprehensive immigration reform. We're not 2going to get it immediately until we get some more Republicans in the Senate.

WALSH: No, that's --

BOLDUAN: Well, that actually gets to something I wanted to ask you, because the president tweeted about immigration today. He tweeted, Congress, fix our insane immigration laws now.

But in the last month, in the past month, President Trump has backed the Republican immigration bill, then he told Republicans not to waste their time on it. Then he endorsed the bill in a tweet. Then he tweeted again that he never told Republicans to vote for it.

WALSH: Which is a lie.

BOLDUAN: And then today telling Republicans to pass something. Why can't the president make up his mind?

MILLER: Well, I think what the president is speaking to is the fact that we need Congress to go do it. They're the only ones who can go and do it. We wish they would go and do it now. Too many of them --

BOLDUAN: That's not what he's speaking to. He's speaking to, I don't know --

MILLER: -- until we get more Republicans in there, his four-pillar plan, which has approval from 63 percent of people out there --

BOLDUAN: Right, but, Jason --

(CROSSTALK)

MILLER: We're not going to get it done right now.

BOLDUAN: But how does that help? You don't even know what his position is on it right now?

WALSH: He didn't know what his position. He's got to ask Stephen Miller what his position is on any given day.

MILLER: No, do you want me to tell you what his four-pillar plan is?

(CROSSTALK)

BOLDUAN: Jason, Jason, Jason. You're a --

(CROSSTALK)

WALSH: There are bills on the table --

BOLDUAN: You're a communications expert. You think that's good communicating?

MILLER: His full plan?

BOLDUAN: No! What I laid out for you in what he said to reporters and tweeted out.

MILLER: Sorry, you guys are both talking at me at the same time, I couldn't hear. But look it's --

BOLDUAN: No one was talking when I laid it out for you. Come on, Jason. MILLER: I think what the president is trying to do is trying to keep

the issue front and center. I think that he knows until we get more Republicans in and until we have going into this next Congress, we're not going to get it done. But obviously, it's an issue that he think it's going into the fall. And I think if Democrats continue to take the bait on things like abolish ICE and going too far to the left, I think the president is probably right.

BOLDUAN: Right on what? That's my question, though. Right on what position he's taken in the past month?

MILLER: That we need more Republicans --

WALSH: If you take all the positions, you're going to be right. 2

BOLDUAN: Don't blink, because it's going to change. That's all I'm saying.

Great to see you both. Thank you so much. We'll stay on this.

We are following breaking news, Michael Cohen hiring a new lawyer, one with close ties to the Clintons. Is that some sign?

And the dangerous mission to safe 13 people trapped in a cave stalled by major obstacles. We have the latest from the ground in Thailand.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:41:49] BOLDUAN: Breaking news. Michael Cohen telling a friend that he doesn't think that President Trump would offer him a pardon -- the latest indication that Trump's former personal attorney, self- described fixer, and fierce defender, is now maybe no longer any of those things. This on the heels of Cohen declaring in an interview that his loyalty is to his family and his country before anyone else, raising new questions about whether Cohen will flip on Trump if need.

Kara Scannell is OUTFRONT with me now.

So, Kara, you have this new reporting. What are you learning about Cohen's mind-set?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN REPORTER: Well, Kate, Michael Cohen is telling friends that he does not believe that President Donald Trump would pardon him. One friend told CNN that in a recent phone call with Cohen, he raised this possibility and Cohen said, I don't think so, I just don't think so.

A second friend told CNN that Cohen is operating under the assumption that he would not be pardoned. We should remember that Michael Cohen has been not been charged with any wrongdoing. He is under investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan for his personal financial dealings.

It's also important to note, we don't know if the president is considering or would in the future consider pardoning Michael Cohen. But this all goes to his mindset. Cohen has, as we've been reporting, telling friends he feels isolated and disappointed that the president has not returned the loyalty that Cohen has demonstrated to him for over a decade. He's also indicated a willingness to cooperate with the investigation. It's unclear if prosecutors are open to that possibility.

And it comes as Cohen has a new lawyer. He has also broken his silence, telling ABC that if it came down to Trump or his family, his loyalty is to family and country first.

And in a forum that the president seems to favor, Michael Cohen removed from his Twitter bio the description of "Donald Trump's personal attorney" -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: I do wonder if that was the most important message that was sent, the Twitter bio.

Thank you so much, Kara. Really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT with me now, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Harry Sandick.

Thanks for coming in, Harry.

So according to a Cohen friend, he doubts President Trump is going to -- will offer him a pardon. The fact that we are learning about that signals what too you?

HARRY SANDICK, FORMER ASSISTANT U.S. ATTORNEY, SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK: I think it signals two things. Number one, Cohen clearly likes to talk. He has all of these friends who he talks to. They, in turn, seem to not keep his secrets, if they were ever meant to be secrets.

I think the other thing it tells the us is that he's letting the president know, because I don't have confidence that you're going to give me a pardon, I'm just going to have to proceed and do whatever is best for me. And so, maybe that is, in some indirect way, a message to the president.

BOLDUAN: Also, we learned tonight that Lanny Davis, a well-known name from the Bill Clinton White House, of course, is now advising Cohen. Davis put out a statement saying, as an attorney, I've talked to Michael many times in the last two weeks. Michael Cohen deserves to tell side of the story, subject, of course, to the advice of counsel.

Should this tell folks anything about where this is all headed if Lanny Davis is onboard now?

SANDICK: I think it says at least two things. Number one, he's picking a publicist lawyer. I mean, Lanny Davis has a legal practice, but he's also known for going on TV and talking about his clients.

[19:45:04] BOLDUAN: A lot.

SANDICK: A lot. And that's an important part in some white-collar cases. And it might

be here in particular if he expects that the president is going to be very critical of him or the president's surrogates will be critical of him.

The other thing it says is to hire a lawyer who is very close to the Clintons, after a campaign against the Clintons seems to be making a statement.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, Harry, just the fact that Cohen is even talking about a pardon and no charges have been filed, it seems very cart before the house here.

SANDICK: It does seem a little cart before the horse, in that nothing publicly has happened. And maybe the charges will never drop. But one assumes based on the strength of the evidence that you need to get a search warrant for a lawyer's office, that there is something out there.

BOLDUAN: All right. Harry, great to see you. Thanks so much.

SANDICK: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT for us next, a race against time and heavy rains. Rescue teams now pumping oxygen into a cave where a soccer team is trapped. And that's not the only new challenge.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BOLDUAN: Tonight, teams of divers and doctors in Thailand are hitting new obstacles in the effort to rescue 12 boys and their soccer coach from a flooded cave. They've been underground for almost two weeks, now suffering from malnutrition and exhaustion. Doctors determining some of them aren't strong enough to even attempt an escape through the narrow water-logged passageways.

[19:40:05] This as a massive and dangerous amount of rain is on the way.

Matt Rivers is OUTFRONT.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's a race against time in Thailand. Rescues drilling through rock, removing stones by hand and pumping as much water out of the cave's passageways as they can, while they can.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're draining out the water all the time but no matter what, water is still coming in.

RIVERS: Torrential rains are expected to begin Sunday, threatening to wash away their efforts and their hopes of a timely rescue. More than 2 miles inside the cave, a supply of food and oxygen keeps the soccer team smiling, but medical experts say at least three of them, including the coach are too malnourished to evacuate safely. Still, d3 diving kits have been prepared in case of a hasty emergency exit.

MATT FITZGERALD, AUSTRALIAN FEDERAL POLICE DIVER: We just have to assess everything at the moment. We have to see what the conditions bring, what the water levels in the cave and what options are available to us.

RIVERS: After one failed attempt, communications lines are being fed again through winding stone in hopes of connecting those inside with rescuers and family above. It would be a much needed boost both for moral and expediency.

CHALONGCHAI CHAIYAKAM, THAI MAJOR GENERAL (through translator): To deliver information from inside the cave, Navy SEALs have to dive for 11 hours. We spend six hours going in and another five hours coming out. This is our main obstacle.

RIVERS: Far from the dive teams deep below, dozens more rescues are hoping for a way to reach the boys from the jungle above.

NARONGSAK OSOTTHANAKOM, GOVERNOR, CHIANG RAI (through translator): We're calculating the position of the children and the corresponding position on the surface. About 20, 30 teams will converge in this area to survey for shafts or holes that may be of use to our plan.

RIVERS: The entire community it seems is praying. There's the school where several of the trapped boys attended, vigils are held each morning. And others are doing their part in different ways.

As water is pumped out from the caves, it floods the local crops at great cost to the farmers. They say it's all worth it. The lives of the people are more important, this farmer says. The villagers are happy to sacrifice, it's for the kids.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BOLDUAN: Matt Rivers is joining me now.

So, Matt, considering the concerns for physical and mental health, do the authorities think keeping them down there for potentially three or four months is still an option?

RIVERS: The short answer is yes. They're not taking any options off the table at this point, Kate, although it is certainly not the preferred option. We heard from the governor of Chiang Mai province overnight, what he wants to continue to lower the water levels in the cave and continue to pump out millions of gallons of water and the goal is to get the water levels down so the kids can actually walk out.

Well, we are expecting rain. And so, whether that is actually an option that is feasible, it really just depends on Mother Nature, Kate.

BOLDUAN: The options seaming less and less feasible as the days progress.

Thank you, Matt. I really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT next, it's the TV decade that helped launch Trump from the board room to the oval office. Jeanne Moos is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[19:57:28] BOLDUAN: So, reality TV, it has had a lot of influence propelling Donald Trump to new heights, maybe even the presidency.

Here's Jeanne Moos.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEANNE MOOS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know what's been a survivor? Reality TV, starting with "Survivor" in the year 2000.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hold, baby.

MOOS: Catching memorable moments like when a Richard Hatch without clothes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Never get used to seeing Richard naked.

MOOS: Some of us manage to duck reality TV.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's two types of people in this world, educated and undereducated.

MOOS: But this shows reality in blue grows while sitcoms in orange become almost extinct. Drama in green shrinks.

Even if you didn't watch "American Idol," you couldn't escape the worst vocalist.

(SINGING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

MOOS: The allure of train wreck TV, be they "Real Housewives" or Dennisons of the Jersey Shore, from Snooki drunk to Snooki punked. To Kim flailing at Chloe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Don't do that.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, my god.

MOOS: They call this reality romance. You're pulling our leg, right?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Katie.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Most definitely.

MOOS: Oops.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I forgot her name.

MOOS: Who knew a future president would have reality show on his resume.

DONALD TRUMP, THE APPRENTICE: You're all fired, all four are fired.

MOOS: Even if firing turned out not to be his forte in real life. Sure, there were reality flops, are you hot wasn't.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm the hottest man because I have this to offer.

MOOS: And greatest American dog didn't do so great, even if Presley stood up to an elephant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good boy. Stay.

MOOS: In actual reality, pounds don't stay off.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm giving you my best.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you're not!

MOOS: And couples don't stay together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Karen --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I thought you'd never ask.

MOOS: When it comes to reality TV, we tend to behave like a good dog.

Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

MOOS: There's so much spray tanning in reality TV in the 2000s. Just amazing and priceless. You can enjoy even more of these priceless moments in CNN's brand new series, we're taking you through the 2000s, you lived it. Let's live it again.

Don't miss the premiere this weekend. It starts Sunday night at 9:00 p.m.

Thanks so much for joining me.

John Berman is in for Anderson Cooper tonight. "AC360" starts now.