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Former Thai Navy SEAL Dies Trying to Help Soccer Team & Coach; Senate Committee Agrees with Intel that Russia Attacked Elections as Trump Praises Putin; GOP Lawmakers Visit Russia; Michael Cohen Hires Former Special Counsel for Bill Clinton, Doesn't Expect Pardon. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 6, 2018 - 13:30   ET



[13:32:43] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: There's disappointing news in the effort to rescue 12 boys and their coach from a cave in northern Thailand. A Thai official tells CNN that they are unlikely to come out in the next 24 hours and that right now the situation is critical. Oxygen levels in the chamber are dropping to dangerous levels. Monsoon rains are expected by the weekend, if not sooner. That means more water in those flooded caves.

The rescue effort punctuated by the loss of a former Thai Navy diver who ran out of air himself while returning from delivering oxygen tanks to the boys and their coach.

Asia correspondent, Jonathan Miller, has been at the scene for us.

Jonathan, what's causing the latest delay in rescue efforts?

JONATHAN MILLER, ASIA CORRESPONDENT: It's hard to say, Jim. You know, there are conflicting signals coming out. On one hand, you get the commander of the Thai Navy SEALs saying we cannot afford to wait until conditions are just perfect and right for the boys to come out. Time is limited, he said today. The governor of the northern province here in Thailand has just this last few minutes said that the boys wouldn't be coming out in the next 24 hours and that, you know, unless there was really, really heavy rain. That seems to be the crunch factor. If the monsoon rains do come down, and when they do, it's torrential. As you say, those chambers will flood. Then they'll be left with no option. It is actually beginning to rain here now. But I think we probably won't see really heavy rain until later on in the weekend. Now, diving out is currently the best option that they have because nobody's found one of these sink holes from up above. You know, staying down below with depleted oxygen, that's not an option. They have to come out.

SCIUTTO: I'll tell you, we're showing video here as we talk to you that really gives the first impression I've seen of how dangerous the conditions are. It's not just water. It's rushing water in the caves. I suppose we got a reminder that, Jonathan, an experienced Thai Navy diver died in those conditions. Of course, if you're talking about a bunch of kids, who don't know how to dive, the dangers for them are much greater. MILLER: Yes, that's right. The man who died was a very experienced

former Navy SEAL Diver himself. He was a mile underground when at about 2:00 in the morning local time he seems to have had some problem with his oxygen supply. He wasn't -- it wasn't possible to resuscitate him. It just serves to underscore the enormity of the dangers facing the boys coming out.

You know, the other problem that the boys have is that although they've been remarkably stoic in this two-week ordeal, nothing really will prepare them for the dangers of coming out through these jagged passageways, through often completely submerged chambers. They've been fitted with these full-face oxygen masks. But if they start to panic, you know, they could start to cough and choke and hyperventilate. That's really, really dangerous. So you know, it's an enormously dangerous thing to see them coming out, albeit, with the assistance of these Thai Navy SEALs.

[13:35:51] SCIUTTO: Goodness. Well, we're praying for their safety.

Jonathan Miller, there for us. Thanks very much.

Up next, President Trump mocking the #metoo movement, former President H.W. Bush, Senator John McCain. But in the same breath, praises Russian President Vladimir Putin. We'll have the details.

Plus, why Michael Cohen says he's certain he's been dismissed by Trump and does not expect a pardon.


[13:40:38] SCIUTTO: Let's just make a few things clear. Russia has and is currently carrying out cyberattacks on the U.S. And just this week, Republican lawmakers still pay a cozy visit to Moscow on America's Independence Day, no less. Their Russia counterparts, by the way, lied to them, once again, denying meddling in the election.

On top of this, a bipartisan Senate committee agreed this week with the Intelligence Community that, yes, Russia did attack, did interfere in the U.S. election to benefit Donald Trump.

Despite all this, President Trump is praising the man at the top, Vladimir Putin.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're going, will President Trump be prepared. You know, Putin is KGB, and this and that. You know what, Putin's fine. He's fine. We're all fine.


SCIUTTO: All fine, the president says.

Well, the White House says the issue of Russian meddling will at least be on the table, even though you may remember that just last week President Trump publicly expressed doubt that Russia was behind the interference in the election, despite Republicans and Democrats briefed on the intelligence and the intelligence agencies, including agencies headed by people that he appointed, all saying the opposite.

Joining me now is Steve Hall, CNN national security analyst and former CIA chief of operations in Russia. Knows a thing or two about Russia, how it operates and how it's operating today.

I just want to ask for the sake of folks at home, and it can be difficult because there's so much coming at them on Russia and other things, why is it important that an American president while a foreign power is attacking the U.S. by cyber means and seeking to undermine the U.S. by other means, why does it matter the U.S. president is expressing doubts as it's happening?

STEVE HALL, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: There's so much I just don't understand in terms of what this president and what this administration is trying to do. That's certainly one of them. If you take Trump at his word and he says let's make America great again, it is America first, if you follow that out, then you would be arguing against him meeting with Putin, having a summit with Putin because it benefits Russia, and Russia is definitely an antagonistic power, disinterested in the United States. As a matter of fact, interested in undermining the United States and other western countries. As you pointed out, they've attacked our elections. They have murdered people overseas. They are currently, you know, supporting a war in eastern Ukraine. I mean, it's no advantage. I have to ask, what is the advantage to the United States besides being able to walk away and say, yes, we had a fine meeting? I don't see that as advantageous and putting America first.

SCIUTTO: Is Vladimir Putin cheering President Trump's comments about him and undermining of NATO and denials about Russian interference? Does Putin welcome that?

HALL: Yes, absolutely. I think that all works very much into Putin's favor. Putin's overarching goals here are to divide the west, to divide and distract the United States, and thereby, you know, avoiding any sort of democratic reforms inside of Russia or other countries that operate as autocracies like Russia does. So you know, you've got the president of the United States on his way to a meeting with Putin, which he probably shouldn't be having if he wants to put America first, but on the way he's going to stop and talk to the allies and give them a good finger wagging about how they need to pay more. The derogatory statements he's made about NATO coupled with the positive statements he's said about Putin, I mean, it really works into Putin's favor. You have to ask, why is that happening? Why is he taking that approach? I don't get it.

SCIUTTO: The president and his supporters claim that President Trump has been tougher on Russia than anyone, and of course. specifically President Obama, they will say. Do you see evidence of that?

HALL: There have been things that this administration has done in terms of sanctions and expelling diplomats, that sort of thing. That goes in the plus column. But those are things that I think Putin is willing to sort of ride out. The fact he's able to meet with the president of the United States shows Putin that he can, you know, be a great power and that perhaps, just perhaps, he's getting a pass on some of the most abhorrent things that he has done recently in the international community, like take over countries that border him and all those other things that we were talking about. So you know, you can make an argument that we do need to be in contact with Russia on certain topics, for example maybe counterterrorism, although that's fraught with difficulties. Or even, you know, nuclear treaties that are coming due. But you don't have to have a summit. You don't have to give him that win. You can have experts in your governments talk about that stuff. We don't need to be engaging Russia right now, I think it the bottom line, Jim. We need to be containing them. That's not happening.

[13:45:25] SCIUTTO: There was a group of GOP Senators in Russia this week, and their comments were interesting and caught some attention. There was the phrasing that they asked Russia not to interfere in upcoming U.S. elections, asked. Does that show power in your view, and strength, to be asking at this point?

HALL: I've heard Shelby's congressional delegation called the Kremlin Caucus on Twitter recently. That's really, unfortunately, not that far off. No, it's not at all a strong approach. First of all, the folks they met with, a lot of them Russian parliamentarians, members of the Russian Duma, gives this impression that there's some sort of parity between the nations, that our Senators go talk to their Senators. It's a rubber stamp. Putin controls that place. Nobody serves in the Russian Duma without his permission. This idea that we're engaging with this autocratic government along these lines doesn't advantage the United States. I believe it disadvantages us at the expense of American interests and furthers Russian interests.

SCIUTTO: Steven Hall, knows a thing or two about Russia, former CIA chief there.

Thanks very much.

HALL: My pleasure, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, Michael Cohen is hiring a top Clinton attorney and telling friends he does not think Trump will pardon him. The details on that.

And why the Trump administration is saying we need more time to reunite those families separated at the border.


[13:51:22] SCIUTTO: President Trump's former personal attorney and fixer is not so certain he will get any bailout from the president from his current legal jeopardy. Michael Cohen's friends tell CNN that he does not believe the president would grant him a pardon if he needed one.

This comes as Cohen hires a new lawyer who, listen up, once worked as a special counsel for President Bill Clinton.

Joining me now CNN legal analyst, Laura Coates.

Laura, so Cohen, based on these comments at least to friends, does not believe the president will bail him out here.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, that shouldn't be so surprising given the fact that the president has not really revealed his hand as to what he thinks about the charges against Michael Cohen. He talked about it initially, Jim. Talking about the death of the attorney-client privilege. It was hyperbole. And talking about the idea of the FBI and the deep state as an overall part of the witch hunt campaign strategic. He hasn't actually talked about him in glowing terms of salvation. It should come as no surprise as to comes to help Michael Cohen. That should shock no one. It seems to shock Michael Cohen.

SCIUTTO: Do you believe that when you hear that from Cohen or do you believe he's still sending up trial balloons or requests for help, reminding the president of the relationship, et cetera.

COATES: I think he certainly is trying to have those smoke signals be apparent. Remember, Jim, he does have a vested interest in having the protection of somebody who has the pardoning power, and, of course, New York State is very, very unique in that, although normally you have only the federal pardoning power of the president of the United States, New York is a state where if you have state level charges, you can either choose between the state or the federal, and you cannot have both of them for the pardon. He could actually have it all resolved if the president were to pardon him on the federal charges, if there are ever any federal charges. We have millions much pages of documents that said, included highly sensitive material about people involved with Michael Cohen. That may mean the president of the United States. And we already know he is not the president's attorney, so it wouldn't be privileged information.

SCIUTTO: So, lo and behold, Michael Cohen is looking for help and he hires, of all people, a former Clinton attorney. Laney Davis is as pro Clinton as you get. He just wrote a book, came out a few months ago, about how James Comey tipped the election to Donald Trump. How do you explain that?


COATES: Well, first, remember, Lanny was someone who not only was a legal advisor to the Clintons, he was somebody who was a very sound piece and mouthpiece for the Clintons during the impeachment and when he left the White House. You have a combination of the court of public opinion and potential criminal charges being abroad. You have to have somebody who has the combination and the savvy to both has criminal court appearances and also the court of public opinion. He is looking for somebody who is going to be a bulldog, and he might have just found one.

SCIUTTO: Laura Coates, thanks very much.

COATES: Thanks, Jim. SCIUTTO: Emotional scene, truly emotional scene at Boston's Logan

airport where a Guatemalan mother and daughter were reunited. They had been separated at the U.S. border nearly two months ago. Only CNN was there to capture this moment.






[13:55:14] SCIUTTO: That poor little girl. The mother there filed an asylum claim and was released on bond on June 19th. She had to wait more than two weeks before seeing her daughter. But had a present waiting for her as the girl turned 8. She had her birthday while she was in one of the shelters.

Still ahead, a stunning new report is suggesting that the EPA intentionally blocked a cancer study from becoming public.

Plus, President Trump is taking swipes at former President George H.W. Bush. His staff is now swinging back. Their brand-new reactions. That's next.


[14:00:06] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN on this Friday afternoon. Thanks for being with me.

We begin this hour with a looming court order deadline to reunite all the families --