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Former Thai Navy SEAL Dies In Cave Rescue Efforts; Classmates Pray For Rescue Of Trapped Football Team; U.S. Tariffs On Chinese Goods Now In Effect; Trudeau: Canadians Will Not Be Pushed Around; NYT Trade War Could Pull Rates Down But Push Prices Up; U.S. Secy Of State In Pyongyang For Nuclear Talks; EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Resigns amid Ethics Scandals; Asylum Seeker Reunites with Daughter; Novichok Poisoning Mystery; "Ant-Man and the Wasp" Invades Theaters. Aired 1-2a ET

Aired July 6, 2018 - 01:00   ET



[01:00:00] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Hello! Thanks for joining us everybody I'm John Vause you're watching NEWSROOM L.A. We start with breaking news out of Thailand where a former Thai Navy SEAL has died during rescue operations to save the youth football team trapped in a flooded cave. Officials say the diver ran out of air while delivering oxygen supplies. This death highlights the danger facing the 12 boys and their coach as they try to use scuba gear to swim to safety. Medical assessment of the boys on Thursday make it -- recommended holding off on any operation for at least another day but the clock is ticking, heavy rain is expected in the coming days. CNN's David Mackenzie is live in Northern Thailand. So, David, this happened a few hours ago. What more do we know about the circumstances surrounding the death of this former Navy SEAL?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, John, it really points to how challenging the conditions are in that cave system. The 38-year- old former Thai Navy SEAL had been in the private sector and it come back to lend his expertise. It appears he passed out in one of those narrow passages taking oxygen or air to the boys who are trapped deep inside. Really there's a change in the mood and if you look behind me they're desperately trying to use pumps to get as much water out of the pay system as they can before the rain started earnest on. I spoke to a Finish specialist diver who came off of private high school to help out. He is specialist skills and said that it's incredibly challenging the conditions they're working on. He spoke about how they're feeling today.


MCKENZIE: What is the mood like right now, now that we've learned that this one diver has died?

MIKKO PAASI, FINISH DIVER: Definitely you can feel it that it has an effect but we're moving on. Everybody is a professional so we're trying to put it away and avoid it ever happen again.

MCKENZIE: And everyone's focusing on getting these boys out? PAASI: Everybody is focusing getting them out, keeping them alive or

getting them out.


MCKENZIE: Though Mikko doesn't seem like he's properly sleep for days now, John. He said he just had about four or five coffees to try waking stuff up. He has specialist skills. He was describing how in those small chambers they had to sort of strap at times these tanks to the side of their body crawl along. He said it took three hours at least to traverse took one section of that cave as a specialist diver. I asked him you know, well how are you going to get these kids out? He said they have to believe they can do it because otherwise, well, what are they fighting for? John?

VAUSE: Yes, David, several people are following this story all around the world but yes, you said some time with the relatives and the school friends of the boys such in that cave that and clearly, their weight must be the most agonizing one of all.

MCKENZIE: Yes, the parents their weight trying to still fix the phone line to communicate directly with the boys, the three of which as you pick are certainly in a bad way health-wise. I mean, schools and communities all around this region they are certainly praying for them to get out.


MCKENZIE: Ever since the classmates went missing in the cave they've been praying for a miracle. For more than a week the students and teachers at the school and the rest of the world had been waiting anxiously unsure if the boys were still alive.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): My students were sound, some even cried when they heard the news. I told them to pray which was the only thing they could do at that moment.

MCKENZIE: They'll continue praying and hoping every day he says until the 12 players and coach are back above ground. At a makeshift vigil at another school where one of the trapped boys is a student, they have posted photos and messages of support. Students have also filled the jar with a thousand origami birds.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I told my students to pray and also ask them to make birds because we think it means good luck.

MCKENZIE: In a nearby village, the grandmother of one of the boys has been keeping her own vigil supported by her friends. She says that every day at 8 a.m. she and her friends listen to the News for updates, share meals and pray.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): I went every day to the temple to make merit. Every day I pray for them to be safe.

MCKENZIE: News of the boys discovery has lifted spirits of the community here but they know it's not over yet. UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When I see my friend, I will

hold his hand. When he is fully recovered, we will go play soccer again.

[01:05:05] MCKENZIE: Until then, they will pray safe day for their friends, their sons, and family to rise to the surface safely.


MCKENZIE: And still the feverish efforts continue. They've added more pipes. I can see overnight these systems, John, go all the way into some of the entry and exit points of the cave. They've also tried to steal up the chimneys, those that they couldn't get the boys out of course to stop any rain and water flowing in when the rains do come. It already rain a bit this morning and so both the challenges technically of getting these boys out and the looming weather are factors that make people very nervous indeed about getting these boys out that the world is focused on right now. John?

VAUSE: David, thank you. Dave McKenzie there in Northern Thailand with the very latest. Bobby Chacon, is a retired FBI Special Agent also a former FBI dive team leader. He joins us now live from Palm Springs in California. Bobby, thanks for staying with us. Just explain to us what do you think may have happened to this diver? How -- would they've been in a situation where he became exhausted and ran out of oxygen?

BOBBY CHACON, FORMER FBI DIVE TEAM LEADER: Well, it sounds to me like he was -- he was retired from diving. He was at some airport security job. It probably means he didn't have the fitness level he did when he was diving and like I said earlier these are perishable skills. And so his air consumption might have been greater than he anticipated. So before you go in on a dive like this, you anticipate how much air you're going to need to get in and get out. The rule of thirds say you use one-third going there, one-third to get back and you always leave one third as an emergency supply. So if you're using more than you're used to, if you use the wrong numbers to calculate your air consumption and to calculate how much air you need to carry with you, you're going to run out of air. So he might -- it might have been a situation where his fitness level wasn't what it used to be. He may have used his old consumption level as a consumption rate of air and he miscalculated how much areas. I mean, that could be. I'm speculating on that but that could be one of the things that happened. I'm saying that because he was a retired diver that's now been pressed back into service.

VAUSE: Does this actually mean anything for the rescue plans as they move forward because clearly you know, this guy's experienced and didn't survive those conditions for one reason or another. You got these kids who may actually have to find get out the you know the cave by this passageway. So what do you think is going to happen now?

CHACON: It's two things. It says two things to me. One is that whoever's running the entire operation has to grab it by the throat. They can't allow things to get chaotic. They have to have like -- your reporter just said one of these divers with special skills is working on four hours of sleep and five cups of coffee. That diver is not getting into water if I'm in charge of that operation. I'm already putting my divers into harm's way just by virtue of putting them into this environment. I'm not going to put anybody in that's compromised because they're not sleeping properly, they're not eating properly, they're not hydrating properly. These divers have to be in tip-top shape. If they're going in to rescue other people, they're obviously already physically compromised. These kids have physically compromised so the divers have to be in tip-top shape. They have to be responsible. When they're not working, they've got to be sleeping. They've got to be eating, they've got to be hydrating. The second thing is it highlights how difficult it's going to be. It should elevate the other options, the urgency of the other options whatever they are and I don't know what they are but whatever the other options are have -- their urgency levels have to be heightened because you've got to get them out of there without resorting to the diving. The diving is going to be perilous. I really can't see how these kids are going to make this dive, how all of them are going to survive that journey back when -- if there are no changes.

VAUSE: And just what we're talking about really live images from the scene of the rescue site they're in Northern Thailand. I guess it's -- here's the question here. Kids who medically fit, two of them are malnourished, exhausted, so to the soccer coach we've been told. They dive from the cave to the entrance takes an experienced diver about five or six hours. How long would it take these kids to make that same journey and we also know they won't be carrying their own oxygen tanks. They'll be relying on oxygen and fed to them by one of the divers who will become -- who will be by their side on the way out. But what does that mean for where you put the oxygen on the way out? How long is this all going to take? You know -- and you know, obviously, this is now because it's going to take long if they go this option, that's when things start going wrong.

CHACON: Right, and I think that's what they're doing now. They've mapped out the journey that's going to take and so they're looking at places where they can stage additional oxygen bottles and what they can do with -- but it's extremely difficult for a diver to get himself in there and back. Now he's going to be escorting a child that may be uncomfortable in the water so he's going to have to spend a lot of his time keeping that child calm and moving them through the water and getting -- it's an almost impossible task to me but I think what they're doing now is they're figuring out where they can stage different bottles and they're mapping out that journey trying to hopefully if they can bifurcate it into sections at the manageable sections if possible so you try to do a little bit -- a little bit at a time in sections and you know, and then make it a whole. But to go that whole length, the way the divers have been going with a kid that may have not -- some of them don't swim. They've don't have a big comfort level in the water. You know, I can't see it as a very viable option.

[01:10:31] VAUSE: Yes, for the past also they have been teaching the kids how to use scuba gear, how to become comfortable with it. This is -- this is what the governor of the province had to say. Listen to this.


NARONGSAK OSOTTHANAKORN, GOVERNOR, CHIANG RAI: They are training to use the masks. They are training to breathe. But the current is still strong. It is a risk bringing them in the water. It could create a difficult situation. For people who never dived before, using a mask is difficult. So now they are trying to put on the masks.


VAUSE: So what's difficult about the mask in particular?

CHACON: Well, you know, if these kids haven't been in the water, some of them can't swim. Just being underwater is very anxiety provoking. When I -- when i used to teach new divers, we would start in the pool. Your first three, four dives were simply in the pool. Some in the shallow end where you just sat on the bottom and learn to be underwater because being underwater in the very beginning feels very unnatural. For somebody like myself who has done it for my whole life it's natural but for very beginning, it's unnatural, it's very anxiety provoking. You can -- that mask doesn't feel right, if a little water comes in, there might be a panic. So you know, when -- that mask doesn't fit every face exactly the same.

And so, if there is a heavy current, and some water gets into the mask, a young kid who's not used to it might panic. And panic underwater is what -- is catastrophic. So you know, for someone like me, if I got a little water, I adjust my mask. Well, you know, it's a different thing when you are talking somebody whose comfort level in water is not where it should be. And I was training divers who wanted to dive and they were still anxious on their first dive in open water, in clear water off Catalina Island here. And so, you know, I can't imagine training somebody that didn't want to be a diver and didn't expect to be a diver and is already physically compromised by, you know not having eaten or slept in 11 days. You know, a herculean task ahead of them.

VAUSE: And at this point, if we're looking at the conditions of the weather and maybe there aren't any options. Bobby, thanks for being with us. We appreciate. I want to get now to Derek Van Dam because we want to get the weather conditions, and what the outlook is because that is now the crucial factor here. So, Derek, you know, the rain, it's, starting to roll in, David says it's kind of clear right now. It's raining a little earlier. What are we looking at?

DEREK VAN DAM, CNN WEATHER ANCHOR: The window of opportunity for dry weather its narrowing quickly, John. We saw in David McKenzie's live shot just an hour ago the raindrops starting to fall from the sky, not expecting anything heavy today but things will change, going forward in the next 24, 48, 72 hours out. Let me show you the satellite loop across northern Thailand. We do have some cloud cover that's move across the region. A few low, stratus clouds indicative of light shower activity. What we've done is we put together a (INAUDIBLE) look at the previous rainfall. Every bar you see here in red is previous rain, OK? So the day the boys went missing, the 23rd of June, 5.7 millimeters of rainfall. That's enough to cause flooding in that particular cave. Now, look at how the rain started to uptick as it went into the 25th, 26th, and 27th. We had our respite of rainfall from the, second through the 5th being just yesterday. But look at the, the future forward accumulations totals. We are expecting rainfall to really pick up in intensity, especially as we head into the weekend and into the next parts of next week. The weather forecast does look very wet on Sunday, chance of precipitation up to 80 percent. And in terms of millimeters, certainly enough to, to cause more flooding within that region into the caving system. Our computer models depict anywhere between, 50 millimeters of rainfall up to 75 millimeters going forward. And the Thai meteorological agency is calling for at least 10 percent above normal monsoon season for northern Thailand so not good to say the least. John.

VAUSE: Yes. Derek, thank you. I appreciate the forecast. China has accused the U.S. of starting the biggest trade war in economic history. It comes $34 billion in U.S. tariffs are now officially in place. More than 800 Chinese goods have been targeted. Beijing says it is being forced to strike back.


GAO FENG, SPOKESMAN, CHINESE MINISTRY OF COMMERCE (through translator): We have noticed that the U.S. threatened again to impose new tariffs on all $500 billion U.S. dollars' worth of Chinese products to the U.S. And not only that, it has made this kind of threat to other countries and regions wielding the baton of tariffs. The U.S. is carrying out bullying moves in trade which is against the trend of the times.


[01:15:02] VAUSE: Global Business Executive, Ryan Patel, joins me again for more on this. Ryan, thanks to sticking around. Because there's lots here to the story, sir. I'm glad we've -- have been able to do it over a couple of hours.

And that was a spokesman for Chinese commerce ministry, you know, he since to calling the U.S., a bully. And that's the picture painted around the world of the United States. Here's Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, a few weeks ago.


JUSTIN TRUDEAU, PRIME MINISTER OF CANADA: I have made it very clear to the president that it is not something we relish doing, but it is something that we absolutely will do. Because Canadians, we're polite, we're reasonable. But we also will not be pushed around.


VAUSE: On Wednesday, Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, said this.


ANGELA MERKEL, CHANCELLOR OF GERMANY (through translator): We now have tariffs on aluminum and steel and we have a discussion which is very serious. It appears cars too will be imposed with tariffs when they are imported into the United States. Ladies and gentlemen, this has the character of a trade conflict. I don't want to use any other word for now. It's worth every effort to try to defuse the conflict so it doesn't turn into a war. But this obviously takes two.


VAUSE: Obviously, takes two. So, the country which once led the world as a champion of open markets and free trade is now being viewed as a recalcitrant bully who wants to fight and not to talk.

RYAN PATEL, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: And then, that is what the Trump administration wanted. They wanted to, to try to change these deals and you look at what Canada and both Germany and the E.U. has said if you're in their shoes, you feel -- I mean, you almost feel justified to saying what you're saying. And I think --

VAUSE: And doing what you're doing.

PATEL: And doing what you're doing. I think, everything the pressure is not on them. The pressure is back onto the U.S. because someone has to kind to move forward on what decision think is going to have me made. Especially, with the U.S. And now, especially, with China being involved, as well.

VAUSE: Because now these tariffs are in place, and when it's just a matter of time before Beijing makes the official announcement and then fire us back. And we're in a shooting war. This is real this is the start of the hill, the snowballs rolling away and there's no off-ramp.

PATEL: This is -- you know, G.M. came out and said that these tariffs are going to cut jobs. Like companies are coming out and saying it will cost jobs. This is -- I don't know how much more real we can talk about in the last few months. It's like, well, this may or may not happen.

But people are now putting plan B together. Not even that, I mean, you starting to hear rumors about suppliers buying this materials. Before this, people are trying to find different ways to get around this 25 percent tariffs to just hold onto materials, and it's got to that point.

VAUSE: Yes, and this isn't just between the U.S. and China. There is disputes between the U.S. and Europe, between U.S. and Canada and U.S. and Mexico, you know, it goes on.

Fighting on four fronts? It seems a bit of a stretch even for Donald Trump.

PATEL: Yes, I don't think the administration wanted to do this. I don't think that they wanted to plan on doing this. I think, the idea for them as they believe -- the ministry believed that they had the advantage actually with China.

And they felt that they -- you know, anything you saw statements in the last few days that they're going to keep going down these round over -- round over on tariffs. They thought they'd be OK. They can -- they can outlast the China and the U.S. battle of tariffs. And they wouldn't hurt them as much.

VAUSE: Right.

PATEL: This is their philosophy. But now you've got the E.U., you've got the Canada and Mexico. China is going to get a little more advantage in this -- in these points because the U.S. cannot take all those hits at the same time.

VAUSE: Yes, and then those guys get together and it's --

PATEL: I'm waiting for that. I haven't heard --

VAUSE: Yes, I think about it in a matter of time.


VAUSE: OK, this widespread agreement, trade war, it will hurt the economy. The question is how much? The Federal Reserve noted this week, it won't be able do a lot to help when that pain is felt. Here's a good explanation from The New York Times, why. "That's because of trade war simultaneously risks pulling growth rates down or pushing prices up. Anything the Fed seeks to do to cushion the blow on one side of that equation would tend to make things worse on the other side.

So if, for example, the Fed held off on further interest rate increases to cushion a slump in investment spending, it would be doing so just as inflation was accelerating above the two percent the Fed aims for.

So, there's no safety net here. If the president gets this wrong, he's taking everyone with him.

PATEL: Yes, that's why the Fed in last June had this meeting when the notes came out that they were worried. The Fed was worried about these tariffs that they couldn't do an all they can do right now as give this kind of hey, the economy is doing well." You know, the inflation is kind of controlled, interest rates are kind of increasing slowly, and that's all they can say.

But internally, they're talking about that this is going to cause a stress they had to keep eye on -- to keep an eye on. But they couldn't really change it.

VAUSE: And there's nothing they can do this, no levers to pull there's nothing.

PATEL: You do either or it'll cause it will cause -- it will be a counter-reaction to either pushing the economy in either order or direction.

VAUSE: Right, yes. Fun time is ahead, Ryan. Interesting days. Fish. Have a good weekend.

PATEL: Thank you, too.

VAUSE: So, will this third trip be the charm the U.S. secretary of state travels to North Korea. But this time, he reportedly was hard commitments from Kim Jong-un to show that North Korea is really ready to give up the nuclears.

Also, a harrowing separation is finally over for one migrant family in the U.S. Just 3,000 or so to go now. More on that in a moment.


[01:22:41] VAUSE: Well, the pressure is on for the U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. He arrived in North Korea just a few hours ago to talks on denuclearization.

The U.S. State Department insists it's not softening its position after the lofty promises made at the Trump-Kim summit in Singapore last month. President Trump is defending his approach to North Korea. He says, his strong rhetoric has force Pyongyang to end its missile and nuclear tests.

Jasper Kim is the director of the Center for Conflict Management at Ewha University. He joins me now from Seoul in South Korea. Jasper, thanks for taking the time to be with us.

Yes, Mike Pompeo, he was traveling and still is traveling to North Korea, he sent out this tweet. "I spoke with POTUS President of the United States while we're both in the air. The president told me he believes that Chairman Kim sees a different brighter future for the people of North Korea. We both hope that's true."

OK. So, Pompeo actually gets a firm commitment to denuclearize especially a timetable for Kim Jong-un. That will be a good sign and indication that maybe, the president's assessment is correct that Kim does want a brighter future. But if Pompeo leaves with little more than handshakes and a smile that would suggest the process for all intents and purposes is done.

JASPER KIM, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR CONFLICT MANAGEMENT, EWHA UNIVERSITY (via skype): Well, that could be. I mean, this is a very complex multi-stage type of negotiation. We're dealing with ICBMs nuclear disarm material, secret hiding areas for these missiles.

So, I mean, it's not one of these things like an M&A where you can just kind of crackdown on it, barrel down the details and get it done over the weekend.

This will take many weeks many months and possibly many years. And I think, we've got that just sort of brace for that. I think, John Bolton, the national security adviser wants it very quick timeline and that's very interesting because that really puts pressure on Pompeo.

So, it's very ironic in the sense that a lot of the pressure placed on Pompeo's trip to Pyongyang is within.

VAUSE: But, after that the Singapore declaration which was -- you know, wet a thin, it was like barely a page long. Isn't there now a requirement from North Korea? I'm not talking about all the details and everything be worked through, but some kind of serious commitment that they are actually into the process as opposed to just dragging out -- you know the negotiations and the diplomacy to try and loosen sanctions up and move this process along installer for as long as possible.

KIM: Yes, I mean that's truly a sort of two sides of it. I mean, from a real estate perspective, which might be the perspective that Trump's taking, the initial Singapore declaration. That's kind of like an MOU.

It's not really a binding contract per se. It's really just kind of a (INAUDIBLE) really get to know you type of agreement. That's sort of where he might kind of place that and moving forward. You can neither kind of barrel down in a binding agreement. And under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, that binding a

contract is called the treaty. But at any rate, no matter what packaging term you put on it, I think both sides will kind of want to take the next step.

North Korea, I think they're going to have to give up something here because Pompano is making a very high-profile trip to Pyongyang. His legacy is high visible trip. And Trump is really watching it very, very closely.

So, you don't want to get Trump, edgy or angered in any way, Kim Jong- un knows that. So, you really have these two leaders kind of trying to feel each other out through this trip that Pompeo is making.

[01:25:54] VAUSE: We have the U.S. president at a rally for supporters in Montana a few hours ago. He was talking up his diplomatic success with North Korea. Listen to what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I got along very well with Chairman Kim. I got along very well. That's a good thing that I got along well. Now, what hasn't happened in eight months? In eight months, first of all, we got our prisoners back before I even went, right?

And I didn't pay $1.8 billion, by the way in cash. We didn't pay $1.8, right? We paid slightly less than $1.8, we paid nothing. And yet -- and yet, it was a very smart deal for North Korea. Goodwill is very important.

But we signed a wonderful paper saying they are going to denuclearize their whole thing. It's going to all happen.


VAUSE: There is so much wrong with pretty much everything he said. But I guess, the most important part that's wrong, U.S. intelligence has pointed out there is no likelihood that Kim Jong-un will give up his entire nuclear stockpile. He's not going to denuclearize in completely. It's not going to happen, and that's far from a wonderful piece of paper.

KIM: Well, I think, basically, I have to take a stage by stage, John. And although you can't dismantle North Korea's complete nuclear arsenal or the potential for it, I think the first thing to do -- first thing to do with Pompeo's trip is focused on the ICBMs.

Those are the ones that pose a national threat to the United States. I think that's the first thing that should be on order in terms of Pompeo, basically, putting that into the spotlight and saying to Kim Jong-un and his advisers is that "Listen, this is the threat. We need to get rid of it and then, we'll talk about everything else after that. The intermediate long-range missiles -- the short-range missiles.

Yes, they do have a security interest against South Korea where I am at, in Japan, Guam, et cetera. But first and foremost, this takes care of the ICBM. I think that's what Pompeo might be thinking right now.

VAUSE: But you just -- this is all very logical and makes a lot of sense, you know, but where in the point where the North Koreans haven't even made good on their promise to return the remains of U.S. soldiers which they're still holding. I mean, that was meant to have happened by now. Donald Trump said it has happened, but it hasn't.

I mean, the very basic steps have not even been taken by the North Korean side at this point.

KIM: Well, it's a good point, John. Negotiations is a perception game and an information game. So, in terms of perception, if we just take a look at this agreement from North Korea's perspective, they would probably say, "Why blame us? Why point the finger at us? There's no timeline here, it's not very specific."

And that's sort of where the criticism at this does Singapore summit that's where it's aimed at. This is very broad -- I thought a hortatory language, you can't believe really barrel down. There's dining details, no numbers in there.

I think that's what we're looking for at this stage is, basically, some numbers and locations. I think that's what's really needed to give this some, some added credibility here.

VAUSE: OK. Jasper, thank you. We appreciate you being with us. Some good insight there. Thank you.

KIM: Thank you.

VAUSE: Ahead here on NEWSROOM L.A., the resignation of the scandal- plagued EPA director Scott Pruitt, means. We now know how many ethical investigations is one too many for the U.S. president.


[01:31:36] JOHN VAUSE, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back, everybody. You're watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause with the headlines this hour.

A former Thai Navy SEAL has been killed during efforts to rescue a youth football team trapped in a cave. Officials say the volunteer diver died from a lack of air while delivering oxygen tanks to try and replenish the oxygen in the boys' cavern. The 12 boys and their coach have been trapped for 13 days.

The world top two economies are exchanging fire in a global trade war -- America's latest round on tariffs on Chinese goods are now in effect totaling $34 billion worth of Chinese exports. Beijing has said it has no choice but to fight back.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is under pressure for results in nuclear talks with North Korea. New intelligence reports suggest Pyongyang has no intention of giving up its nuclear weapons. But President Trump says, he thinks Kim Jong-un wants a brighter future for his people.

It wasn't a great start to the week for Scott Pruitt, the embattled head of the Environmental Protection Agency in the U.S. On Monday he was at a restaurant in Washington when Kristin Mink, apparently just an everyday mom, confronted Pruitt and urged him to resign.


KRISTIN MINK: I just wanted to urge you to resign Because of what you are doing to the environment and our country. This is my son. He loves animals. He loves clean air. He loves clean water.

He deserves to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment. Somebody who believes in climate and takes it seriously for the benefit of all of us, including our children.

So I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.


VAUSE: Maybe Pruitt took her advice to heart because by Thursday he submitted an obsequious letter of resignation to the President. "It is extremely difficult for me to cease serving you in the 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."

What is truly unprecedented is the number of federal enquiries into Pruitt's behavior, a number of scandals, controversies, alleged ethical breaches and just outright weird stuff which has occurred during his 18 months as head of the EPA.

For more now, CNN contributor and former ethics czar for the Obama administration, Norm Eisen is with us. Norm -- nice to see you.

NORMAN EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: John -- glad to be back. CORKE: Ok. So in a scandal-ridden administration, no one was more

scandal-ridden than Scott Pruitt at least from what is known publicly. By last count he was the focus of more than a dozen investigations.

And what is truly amazing about all of this the President didn't care, Pruitt didn't care, Republican lawmakers apparently weren't bothered. Pruitt resigned because he was getting too much bad publicity and that's what angered Donald Trump.

EISEN: Well, John, you know, the -- it is the opposite of ethics. You are supposed to do things because they're right. Not because you are caught. That's the definition of criminality, not of ethics. Now I'm not saying Scott Pruitt has committed crimes.

[01:34:53] I will say if I were a prosecutor I would take a hard look at the situation because, what summarizes it all, John, you have a man here who instead of believing that public service was for the public good, he approached his public office as a chance to benefit himself.

And this flourishing of scandals as you say is exceeded by no one else in this cabinet. The only person who may come close is the President himself with all of the civil and criminal investigations. And unlike Scott Pruitt, the President has been named a subject in a criminal investigation.

So I think Pruitt was taking his -- his marching tune from the President.

VAUSE: A few hours ago, the press pool actually asked Donald Trump, it was all off camera -- about Pruitt's resignation. And Trump said "Scott is a terrific guy. He came to me and he said I have such great confidence in the administration. I don't want to be a distraction. I think Scott felt that he was a distraction."

Question from the reporter: "His choice or yours?"

The President answered: "It was very much up to him."

So, assuming, you know, that is an honest answer from the President what does it say about this administration that, it just allowed Scott Pruitt to decide, when -- you know, under what circumstances he would go.

EISEN: Well, first of all, it is hard to accept that it is an honest answer -- John.


EISEN: You know, that distraction line has been used by far less proficient liars than President Trump over 3,000 lies in just a year and a half in office to cover up -- pulling the ripcord. So, it's -- it's -- it became -- too intense a political heat.

That would -- that's what Trump is really saying. That it was -- becoming a burden that the President couldn't, carry any more. I think the interesting question here, why did the President tolerate this for so long when his own allies in the White House, in the press, in Congress were calling out Pruitt?

I believe it is because the President has so much exposure. And if he shows a sign of weakness, if he puts blood in water the critics next are going to turn on him.

VAUSE: You know there was a lot of weird stuff around Pruitt. He sent the Secret Service agents to find this Ritz-Carlton body lotion; $1,500 of expenditure on tactical pants, whatever that is; he sent senior staff out to get a used mattress from the Trump Hotel.

And then there was this. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Another report today -- low level staffers -- people who are 23, 24, 25 -- being asked to charge trips on their credit card and then not being reimbursed which is such an astounding detail. Did you ever -- is that something you witnessed firsthand?

KEVIN CHMIELEWSKI, FORMER PRUITT AIDE: Absolutely. I actually saw where the chief of staff Ryan Jackson had to give one of the younger staffers, literally pulled six $100 bills out of his wallet and gave it to this young lady.


VAUSE: Ok. And then there is kind of the serious allegations of, you know, really egregious wrongdoing. Again listen to Pruitt's former deputy chief of staff, this time talking to CNN's Drew Griffin.


DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: So he would meet with industry lobbyists somebody from -- from, industry itself. And decide later that, that was not going to look good so let's scrub it off the calendar?

CHMIELEWSKI: Sometimes later even before, we would always put on the schedule "meeting with staff". That was the default button was "meeting with staff".


VAUSE: So, Norm, the other situation -- scrambling (ph) the record, the "New York Times" reports when one aide actually questioned this practice she was fired.

So if this is true, it sounds like falsifying or hiding public records which is a federal crime.

EISEN: That's right -- John. The watch dog group I chair, Crew is involved in litigation. In fact, we have 20 legal matters involving Pruitt and some of that litigation concerns these bizarre document practices -- they're frankly illegal. This is one of the potential criminal issues that I think prosecutors may look at, they should look at. I'm not saying how they should come out but it needs to be investigated. Pruitt took no responsibility at all. He intimated it's the unfair attacks that drove him out. No.


EISEN: He created this mess for himself and the President who he so adores.

VAUSE: All right -- two very quick questions here. Will these investigations continue even though he has now resigned? And just quickly the other one, he got Senate approval to be the director of the EPA -- does that carry over should Trump want to appoint him to another cabinet position -- the Senate confirmation.

EISEN: Well, he will continue to face investigations. They may even intensify now. That gentleman you saw on camera by the way he was no, no -- you know, Democrat. That is a Trump supporter who went to work for Pruitt and his own people have turned on him.

[01:40:02] Now that he is gone, there may be even more allegations and the -- John, the underlying problems, we don't know the truth, they haven't been fixed so some of these investigations will continue.

And while -- until Pruitt's resignation is effective Trump could stick him in under what is known as the Vacancies Reform Act, a U.S. law. He could replace him, slide him in to an empty job elsewhere.

Maybe that was the reason that Pruitt was so obsequious in the letter. But I think the ethics and legal stench is so strong. The super fund site has got so many of these foul swamp gases coming out of it that Trump won't dare to do it.

VAUSE: We shall see. Who knows?

Norm -- as always, good to see you. Thank you.

EISEN: John -- great to see you.

VAUSE: Fifty-five days -- 55 long days. A young girl and her mother, asylum seekers from Guatemala, spent those days and nights in U.S. custody far apart from each other -- the child, just one of some 3,000 migrant children taken from their parents at the U.S. border.

This story, well, maybe it's not a happy ending, but it's not as the bad as the others. Here is Polo Sandoval.


POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): It's been nearly two months since this little girl has seen her mother, Angelica Gonzalez- Garcia. The Guatemalan family was separated after illegally crossing the U.S.-Mexico border into Arizona. Today they were reunited in a Boston airport.

The mother and daughter were separated May 11th and taken to shelters in different states. She says "There was a moment when I thought I would never see her again because of what they told me when they took her. I would get on my knees every morning and pray to God while I too was detained. And I would pray with all of my heart.

Gonzalez-Garcia filed an asylum claim and was released on bond on June 19 but still hadn't seen her daughter in weeks. The ACLU helped her file a lawsuit that describes quote, unmitigated cruelty, saying an officer told her, "Happy Mother's Day" after saying her daughter would be taken away and she would never see her again.

Later on the phone, she says, her daughter described being hurt by another child and getting sick while still in the custody of the U.S. government.

"I would spend time thinking about long you would be," she says. "I wanted to go where she was. Even just to see her from a distance."

Amid tears of joy, a belated birthday gift from mom. The little girl turned eight while in a Texas shelter.

"She is the reason I am here" Gonzalez-Garcia says, "looking for a better life for her and myself." Gonzalez- Garcia lives in Massachusetts where she says she has built a support system for her and her little girl.

Belated birthday parties planned for tomorrow, a chance for mother and daughter to get their minds off the long and uncertain road to securing asylum.

(on camera): Now Gonzalez-Garcia was never charged for illegal entry as part of the President's zero tolerance policy. Her legal team certainly hoping that this will help them as they continue to try to secure asylum for both her and her eight-year-old little girl.

Polo Sandoval, CNN -- Boston, Massachusetts.


VAUSE: Next up on NEWSROOM L.A. -- frayed nerves and deja vu -- how a small community in the British countryside is coping with not just one but two shocking cases of deadly nerve agent poisoning.


VAUSE: Investigators in Britain believe a couple poisoned by a military grade nerve agent called Novichok may have handled a contaminated container. Just four months earlier in the same are, a former Russian double agent and his daughter were also poisoned by Novichok.

Now as Erin McLaughlin reports, this usually tranquil and quiet corner of Britain has been left on edge and asking what's next?


ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Investigators are now closer to piecing together the mystery of the couple poisoned with a deadly nerve agent in the U.K. Police now say the pair was exposed to a weapons grade nerve agent, after handling a contaminated item.

It is still unclear where that item came from or even what it is. This, as the investigation expands in the heart of Wiltshire. Thursday, the social housing unit where Dawn Sturgess lives was evacuated. She is fighting for her life alongside her boyfriend Charlie Rowley.

Detectives are meticulously and systematically searching a number of sites in the hunt for the source of Novichok -- a poison so potent, experts say even trace amounts can kill.

Four months ago the same nerve agent was used to attack a former Russian spy and his daughter in what British officials believe was a Kremlin-backed plot to take out Sergei Skripal, a perceived traitor. Authorities say it's possible Sturgess and Rowley unwittingly came into contact with poison left over from the Skripal attack. Though they did say Sturgess and Rowley did not visit locations previously decontaminated.

SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: It is unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets or for our streets, parks, our towns to be dumping grounds for poison.

MCLAUGHLIN: Now over 100 counter terror officers are scouring the streets of Salisbury for clues. The park where the couple enjoyed summer drinks, the pharmacy where they bought their hair dye to cheer on England at the World Cup, the local church where Rowley enjoyed a community barbecue. All cordoned off -- police officers standing guard.

Here in Salisbury, there's a sense of unease, a concern that more people could get sick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's quite scary. It's quite worrying as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just worry about the kids and everything (INAUDIBLE) catching it --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Allow (ph) them to grow up is what it is about -- it's quite worrying.

MCLAUGHLIN: Even British authorities now acknowledge there are no safety guarantees.

BEN WALLACE, BRITISH SECURITY MINISTER: I can't sit here and guarantee you, that you will be safe in Manchester, 100 percent from terrorism. Nor can I guarantee you in the West Country, that you are going to be at the moment 100 percent safe from further contamination if, if -- until we know the full details of what happened back in March.

MCLAUGHLIN (on camera): British officials allege the Kremlin holds the key to solving this mystery. They're urging Russian officials to come forward with any information about how the Skripals were poisoned back in March. The security minister saying it is Russia's opportunity to quote, "right this wrong".

The Kremlin meanwhile denies any involvement. They're insisting this is all just a British conspiracy.

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN -- Salisbury, England.


VAUSE: Well the Trump baby blimp is getting closer to liftoff. London's mayor has given protesters the ok to send the giant balloon over parliament during U.S. President Donald Trump's visit to the city next week. The six-meter blimp, not exactly flattering -- it depicts the Twitter-loving Trump as an infant with yellow hair and small hands holding a cell phone. The protesters still need approvals from police and air traffic services before the blimp takes to the sky.

01:50:03] Next on NEWSROOM L.A. get ready for an insect invasion -- "Ant-Man and the Wasp" coming to a theater near you.


VAUSE: It's the kinder, gentler, funnier action film -- "Ant-Man and the Wasp opens in the U.S. and Canada this weekend. The stars of the film are a super hero who can shrink and elegant bad-ass who takes care of business.


PAUL RUDD, ACTOR: You go low. I go high.

EVANGELINE LILLY, ACTOR: I have wings. Why would I go low?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to die.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't want to die.



VAUSE: Joining me now, Sandro Monetti, TV and film journalist. And we should note that they're actually holding release of this movie internationally until after the World Cup.


VAUSE: Very sensible.


VAUSE: Absolutely. Ok. So let's just talk about this because Marvel unlike DC Comics they get everything right. You know, everything they touch turns to gold. And they make a gazillion dollars at the box office.

MONETTI: Well -- VAUSE: $16 billion. But --

MONETTI: Yes, yes. I mean gold is right. This is the 20th Marvel movie.

VAUSE: Is it going to do the same sort of numbers that we are looking at for these other movies that we have seen?

MONETTI: No. But it doesn't need to.

VAUSE: Why is that?

MONETTI: Because it's a lesser known character. And this is a stand alone. There's just two super heroes here -- rather than like 50 that we had in "Avengers: Infinity War", right.

VAUSE: Is it going to make it.

MONETTI: But no, it's still on track to be a big hit. The first "Ant-Man" movie opened with $57 million opening weekend. This is on track to make at least $75 million, at most $100 million. This will add more to the coffers.

Disney paid $4 billion in 2009 for the Marvel franchise. Since then 19 films have made $16 billion.

VAUSE: That was a good call then.

MONETTI: Yes it was.

VAUSE: I could work that for now.

MONETTI: A better than was made by Sony when they had the chance in 1998 to buy everything that Marvel had for $25 million.

VAUSE: Bad call.

MONETTI: They said no, we only want Spider-Man. You can keep the rest.

VAUSE: Oops. Oh, dear.

MONETTI: It could have been theirs.

VAUSE: Why are this sort of movie, that obviously don't perform as well as, you know, the big, hard core action sequence -- why is this movie important to the franchise?

MONETTI: Because -- well, Marvel movies they're all fun. And that's it. You mentioned DC before and they have a certain darkness to them.

VAUSE: A certain darkness.

MONETTI: Yes. Exactly.

VAUSE: It's a miserable experience for two and a half hours, you'd slice your wrists at the end.


MONETTI: But yes, this is lighter, and fluffy. And yes, look at -- it's just fun action.

VAUSE: Ok. You said movie opens this weekend in the U.S.; after the World Cup internationally. So far the reviews -- they're a little mixed.

MONETTI: Reviews, schmooze -- doesn't matter anymore.

VAUSE: We just want to fill the time. Play along.

Ok. Empire Magazine described it this way. "In the new era of Marvel overachievement it really does feel like a lesser work."

From "Hollywood Reporter", "Meanwhile, after the heavy lifting involved in the studio's most recent blockbusters, Ant-Man lays out a welcome picnic." Get it -- ant. Yes.

So, you know, like "Deadpool", this one was billed as a super hero comedy but, not taking itself too seriously. So by taking that approach, toes that sort of broaden the appeal to different audience?

MONETTI: Talking of broaden the appeal differently -- this is not just another movie. This is a moment in cinematic history because --


VAUSE: Really.

MONETTI: -- it is the first time --

VAUSE: I didn't notice.

[01:55:02] MONETTI: Well absolutely yes -- because it's the first time a Marvel movie has had a female superhero sharing the title.

VAUSE: Ok. The title, ok.

MONETTI: She is stinging the patriarchy -- this is what the Wasp is doing. And she's setting the table for "Captain Marvel", played by Brie Larson, coming next year.

So this all started with "Wonder Woman" being a hit, you know, for Warner Brothers. And now, you know we have the female "Doctor Who" coming this fall as well with Jodie Whittaker. So it's smashing up the patriarchy and it's showing that power comes in many forms.

VAUSE: And, Evangeline Lilly who was "Lost" right, is playing the Wasp?


VAUSE: What has sort of been the buzz about her as super hero? MONETTI: The buzz, yes. Well, it's -- she is changing the style of

fighting because, if you watch a Marvel movie, it's normally, like big guys punching each other in the face. But this she is a balletic --

VAUSE: What's going on for Christmas?

MONETTI: -- she had to study MMA moves for the first film where she had less action scenes. But now, she sort of stood up for herself. And she says look, I want this to be a more feminine style of fighting. It can still be tough and girls can replicate it.

So, she is, she has got balletic moves, lots of elegant spins and turns. Let me tell you if Audrey Hepburn was alive today she would be playing the Wasp. More intense.

VAUSE: No, she would not.

MONETTI: Yes, she would.

VAUSE: There is no way in the world -- Audrey Hepburn would not be playing the Wasp.

MONETTI: Yes she would. Yes. She would be a great Wasp.

VAUSE: She would walk a mile -- I totally disagree.

And we've asked this question before. Why is it that Marvel has this ability to turn up these movies? You know, they're either great movies, or they're charming movies, but they're always sort of commercially successful movies. Whereas DC Comics just like -- this is struggling, they just haven't managed to work it out. What's the difference?

MONETTI: Because they draw on the legacy. These stories have worked as comic books for many decades.

VAUSE: Right.

MONETTI: They're not setting out to make it just as a movie, same as everything else. They have got years of story to draw on. So they can take all of those best stories and see what has worked these characters and not change it.

Give the audience what they want. What they have wanted for decade. What they want at the moment is Marvel movies. It is the biggest franchise in the world. It's unstoppable.

VAUSE: Exactly -- in terms of a Rolling Stones concert and they don't sing any of the old stuff --

MONETTI: Haven't thought about it quite like that. But there we go.

VAUSE: Sandro -- thank you. Good to see you.

You've been watching CNN NEWSROOM live from Los Angeles. I'm John Vause. The news continues on CNN right after this.