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Thailand Cave Rescue; U.S. Trade War; U.S.-North Korean Relations; U.S. Immigration Debate; Mother of Murdered Son Runs for Congress; 2018 World Cup. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired July 7, 2018 - 02:00   ET




PAULA NEWTON, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Ahead, this hour, a desperate situation in Thailand. The trapped youth football team is running low on oxygen as more rains approach and there is still no way out.

U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is in Pyongyang, waiting for a firm commitment on denuclearization.



LUCY MCBATH (D), GEORGIA, U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES CANDIDATE: Jordan guides me every single day. Every single day.

NEWTON (voice-over): She lost her son to gun violence and now this mother is turning her pain into a cause. We will tell you how she is trying to make a difference in her community.


NEWTON (voice-over): Live from CNN Center, I'm Paula Newton and this is CNN NEWSROOM.


NEWTON: We start with the ongoing rescue operation in Thailand. The local governor has just said that today and the next few days are the best to try to rescue members of the youth football team trapped in a cave.

Officials had earlier said there would be no attempt on Saturday to remove the 12 boys and their coach. All that as concerns grow about low oxygen levels and more rain in the forecast.

A U.S. official says buddy dive is now being considered. That's where an experienced diver would swim out with each of the 12 boys and their coach. But as you can imagine, that still would be incredibly risky.

This former Thai Navy SEAL, a skilled diver himself, died Friday taking part in the rescue efforts. The local governor says officials are exploring all options to try to save the team.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): We're still drilling from the top. Today we drilled more than 100 holes but only 18 are capable to go in. The deepest hole we drilled is 400 meters deep but it cannot reach the boys.

Some of the parents wrote letters to the kids. I am not sure if they got a chance to read it yet. But we have delivered them.


NEWTON: CNN's David McKenzie is there in Northern Thailand, filling us in on the developments.

David, things are developing today.

What can you tell us about whether or not there will be rescue attempts in the coming hours?

DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Paula, from all indications, there will be, in the next day or two or three, perhaps, according to the governor, as you said there, the real issue here is the rain, I think more than anything else.

If it sets in, in a big way, if the monsoon season kicks in here in Northern Thailand, then the governor said they could have a desperate situation. No matter how much they are pumping out of those cave systems, the water could flood in and even reduce the space where the boys have been kept alive to even just a few feet and perhaps even worse.

He said there are two rescue teams now doing drills outside the cave site to try to simulate the possible rescue attempt.

He said at this stage they are not happy with the speed that they are running those real-life drills, as he called them. And as you said, they're going to be running a system somehow of getting these specialized divers into the final cabin and escorting the boys out, possibly one by one. It will be a dangerous and difficult rescue, no matter when they actually pull the trigger on this operation.

But I can tell you, there are divers from all across the world here, some of them commercial, some of them recreational specialists and, of course, the military from the U.S. and elsewhere.

NEWTON: And it seems that everyone there put together still can't seem to find a safe way to get these boys and their coach out. David, they do seem to be keeping up their spirits. As we heard the government say there, they wrote letters to their parents and their families.

I mean really typical ones, weren't they, David?

MCKENZIE: Yes, but typical and just so poignant. You can imagine being anybody stuck in this space for so many days and, at times, depending only on protein bars and basic food. A lot of the boys just want to eat whatever they can.

And I just want to show you a couple of those messages from the boys, using their nicknames.

Mick (ph) said, "Don't worry, I miss everyone, Grandfather, Auntie, Mum, Dad and brothers. I am happy here, the SEALs are taking care of us. I love everybody."

From another boy, Deu (ph), said, "Don't worry, Mum. I have just disappeared for two weeks. I will help Mum sell every time I have a free day," when he gets out. "I will rush to go back."

And another one, "I am fine. The weather is quite cold in here and don't forget my birthday."

These young boys have gone through so much. And while we focus on the rescue attempts and these specialist divers and this military-like operation, you have to remember that they have been stuck in there 15 days now. They went in on a recreational caving experience.


MCKENZIE: It should have been a great bonding experience. Now they could face a very horrifying prospect of a zero visibility crawl through those caverns to get out.

NEWTON: That's what's been so difficult about this story. The world was euphoric when they found out that they were alive and yet we still have a long way to go. David, I know you'll stay on top of this. We will continue to touch base with you in the coming hours. Appreciate it.

As David was saying, rain and low oxygen levels are making a complicated rescue even more difficult for that Thai team. CNN's Tom Foreman has a look at conditions inside that cave.


TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The only way air moves in and out of most caves is by a change of temperature on the ground above. And that would be true here as well.

However, when you go two and a half miles in and more than a half-mile down, there will be virtually no effect from that. For practical purposes, these boys and their coach are in a sealed chamber, where the air is running low, if not running out.

How low?

They should be getting 21 percent oxygen in every breath. Right now they are repeatedly down to about 15 percent. That means there is decreased stability to work strenuously. They have impaired coordination. You might not think very clearly and, in some cases, they may have decreased vision in low light. It is not necessarily permanent and they are bringing oxygen tanks in

so that may help. But it is worrisome.

In the meantime, outside, they are trying to pump all this water away and they're making some progress. Currently they're getting more than 400,000 gallons out per hour. That's two-thirds of an Olympic-size swimming pool. The idea is maybe you can open some narrow gap and get some of these kids out quickly.

But what we are seeing from inside this cave, from the maps we see, is that there are still several areas that are very flooded, where the kids would absolutely have to go through in scuba gear, for 20 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour, more. We just don't know. It's a big ask and it is not getting any better.

Think about it: everything they have been pumping out now has been water that showed since the kids went into the cave. They've had actually a little lull here without much rain. But much more rain is coming and there's no indication that these pumps can keep up with it.

For all of that though, the single biggest issue here continues to be the topography of the cave. Yes, there are strong currents and it's cold and they can't see. But there are areas here that are so small only one person at a time can go through. The divers are even taking their tanks off and pulling them behind them.

That is why it's so hard to get supplies in and out. That's why you can't really even have a serious discussion about trying to lay a pipe over all this distance to take air in. And imagine trying to pull a frightened, exhausted teenager through that underwater.

It's a 6-hour journey from the outside in for even experienced divers. Engineers are saying basically that should be used as nothing but a supply line right now and they should start pounding in from above with some kind of small supply opening to drop food and fresh water through and to pump air in and simply keep these boys alive until they can figure out how to free them.


NEWTON: And our thanks to Tom Foreman there for guiding us through that.

Now just 26 hours ago, the United States officially entered into a trade war with China. The U.S. slapped a 25 percent tariff on more than 800 Chinese products with an estimated value of $34 billion. China immediately responded with its own tariffs, saying the U.S. had initiated the largest trade war in economic history.

And yet it's not over. The U.S. president intends to impose another $16 billion this summer and has suggested there could be tariffs in the hundreds of millions of dollars. That's, pardon me, hundreds of billions of dollars before is all said and done.

We want to bring in our senior producer, Steven Jiang, from Beijing, who has been following all of this. Steven, China has said we have no choice. We to have retaliate. And yet their rhetoric on this has been quite strong.

STEVEN JIANG, CNN SENIOR PRODUCER, BEIJING BUREAU: It has been really strong and increasingly heated. But when you look at, this the tariffs are only a few -- 24 hours old. So they kicked in less than day ago.

So it is going to take time for these tariffs to be reflected in the prices consumers and businesses that will have to pay. But it's interesting to look at what kind of targets both sides have chosen.

On the U.S. side, the U.S. president is clearly going after China's high-tech industries, which he says has been benefitting tremendously from unfair trade practices, like stealing American intellectual property or forcing American companies to hand over technologies to their Chinese partners.

On the Chinese side, you will notice a lot of agricultural products, soybean is a big one but also --


JIANG: -- pork, beef and tobacco and such.


The Americans certainly sell a lot of these things to China but also a lot of these products are grown or produced in states where voters voted for Donald Trump in 2016 and where he continues to enjoy strong political support, despite being a controversial president nationwide.

So according to many analysts, the Chinese government is being very politically savvy here. They are targeting these products and these states because they want to hit these American farmers, the blue- collar workers economically, and likely hoping to turn them against the U.S. president and exerting enough pressure to force Trump to change course.

Now it remains to be seen whether or not this approach will work. But it's been compared to a Chinese acupuncture, where you insert needles into very precise spots on a body. So by squeezing or twisting needles just a little, it could exert maximum pressure or pain on Donald Trump, presumably, in this case -- Paula.

NEWTON: I am not sure the president will appreciate that analogy. But at this point, he started it. He gets whatever goes on there. I think what'll be interesting is the fact that they don't really even have any discussions on the schedule. Our Steven Jiang continues to follow this from Beijing. Appreciate it.

Now U.S. secretary of state Mike Pompeo is in Pyongyang for a second day of talks. He's meeting again with top North Korean officials, trying to nail down efforts to denuclearize the peninsula and repatriate remains of Americans killed in the Korean War. Earlier on Saturday, Pompeo made a secure phone call to update President Trump. Still up in the air whether Pompeo will meet face to face with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Our Andrew Stevens is following all of this from Seoul.

Andrew, it looks like his visit is coming to an end shortly. And yet we still haven't seen that meeting happen.

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN ASIA PACIFIC EDITOR: That is right, it would be the very least bad optics if Mike Pompeo didn't meet Kim Jong-un. And it could be taken as a snub as well.

Consider that Pompeo is on his third trip, his first since that June 12th and that the two previous meetings in Pyongyang, Mike Pompeo did in fact meet Kim Jong-un. So not to meet him this time around, the first meeting since that June 12th summit, would be seen or could be interpreted in many, many ways, most of them very negative.

Local media here is reporting that Pompeo will meet Kim Jong-un a little later this afternoon. So it's just gone 3:00 pm in the afternoon here. Certainly the window seems to be narrowing because Mike Pompeo's schedule has him in Tokyo later today, meeting with the leaders of Japan and South Korea to talk about what's been going on in Pyongyang.

There hasn't been a lot of clarification from the U.S. team on exactly what they want from North Korea or indeed what the North Koreans are prepared to offer at this stage.

We do know there was a meeting this morning, another meeting between Mike Pompeo and Kim Yong-chol, who is the right-hand man to Kim Jong- un. During that meeting, Pompeo stepped outside to speak with two key advisers before reentering the talks.

And a brief, sort of pool spray went in front of the traveling media. The two sides did speak briefly and they both agreed that more clarification, more clarity was needed on issues which stem from that June 12th summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un when they agreed to work toward full denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.

Mike Pompeo has been saying he is in North Korea to fill in some of the details on those commitments. But at this stage, we don't know what concrete steps are going to be taken, if any at all.

We do know the Americans are bringing up the issue of U.S. service men's remains, which have been in Korea since the Korean War back in the 1950s. So they could be returned.

But as far as actually concrete steps, verification of what the nuclear program looks like, even a timetable at this stage, cannot say whether any of that is going to be achieved at these talks.

NEWTON: It seems like Mike Pompeo had reason to tamp down expectations going into this meeting. Our Andrew Stevens will be standing by as the meeting wraps up there in Pyongyang. Appreciate it, Andrew.

Now actions and consequences. When we come back, how President Trump's actions are driving a grieving mom to run for Congress.





NEWTON: Now to a new development in the Russia investigation. According to "The New York Times," the president's lawyers say if special counsel Robert Mueller wants a sit-down interview with Donald Trump, he is going to have to meet two very unlikely conditions.

One, Mueller's team must have evidence of the president committing a crime and, two, they must prove that Trump's testimony is necessary to close out the Russia investigation.

Trump's lawyer admitted to "The New York Times" that there's really not much chance Mueller would agree to those demands. It's latest in months of negotiations between the president's team and the special counsel.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government is asking a judge to extend the first deadline for reuniting migrant children with their parents. Thousands of families were separated after entering the U.S. illegally.

A court order is giving the government until Tuesday to reunite children under the age of 5 with their parents. But U.S. officials say they need more time. Some of the parents aren't in their custody anymore and at least 19 have already been deported. The federal court will reconvene Monday to decide whether to issue an extension.

Earlier I spoke to political analyst Michael Genovese and I asked him how the reunification process was going and what impact it could have on the Trump administration.



The pictures that you would show, children being ripped out of the hands of their mothers, on what universe does that make sense?

The optic of that is terrible. But the optic is a political question. This has really become a moral issue. It's become an issue for humanity and it's become a disgrace. It is beyond politics at this point.

And the United States, it's a dark day for the United States. If the Trump administration can't figure this one out, if they can't get it right, you will see more and more horror stories, and it's all because of the policy changes that they enacted. NEWTON: And I think that's one thing that's definitely been missing from the discussion, even if those people who support the president's moves on immigration.

When you talk about trying to reunite these families, do you think, at this point -- we have not heard a peep out of the White House. No task force, no czar in charge of reunifications.

What will be able to motivate them?

Is it just a matter of throwing a lot of resources at it?

Or as you say, is it a matter of Americans standing up and saying this isn't right?

GENOVESE: They would rather this problem just go away. It's not going to go away. They have to make it right. And to do that they have to take concerted effort to get this right, to get the process going, to get children together with their families because, every day that it goes on, it is going to be in the news.

It ought to be in the news because these are dark times for the United States. We need to right the wrong. If we can't right the wrong, then we've morally failed ourselves and our country.


NEWTON: President Trump's policies and actions are spurring many to get involved in the political process. One of those is a Georgia mother. Six years ago, her son was gunned down in a parking lot. Recently she heard President Trump talk about guns. Now she is running for Congress. Our Kyung Lah has her story.


KYUNG LAH, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Every politician in every town's parade knows they have to --


LAH (voice-over): -- press the flesh, ask for votes.

MCBATH: I like your HL's hat.

LAH (voice-over): But Democrat Lucy McBath brings a personal story unlike any other.

MCBATH: Jordan guides me every single day. Every single day.

LAH (voice-over): Her 17-year-old son was gunned down at a Florida gas station six years ago. The gunman saying he shot Jordan Davis because he felt threatened by him and his friends after complaining they were playing music too loud.

McBath, first a grieving mother at a murder trial, then quit her flight attendant job to become a national gun control activist for Everytown for Gun Safety.

Then this year, Parkland.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got shots fired right now, guys.

MCBATH: Here we go again.

What does this country not get?

TRUMP: So good afternoon. This is very important.

MCBATH: And then I saw President Trump, sitting with our federal legislators, sitting at the table, talking about the NRA. And within 24 to 48 hours, he flipped.

LAH: And that's when you decided to run.

MCBATH: It's just not enough to have the marches and the rallies and the speeches and the remarks. Championing for them in Washington is still championing for my child. I'm still a mother, I'm still parenting. And that's why I believe this was the time to stand up.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We're behind you 100 percent. I'm so proud of you.

LAH (voice-over): In a year of first-time women candidates running for office at historic levels and then last week's stunning upset by 28-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York's primary, beating a Democratic incumbent congressman...

MCBATH: I am a mother, I am a fighter and I'm a loyal Democrat.

LAH (voice-over): -- this first-time candidate sees 2018 as the year to flip her Georgia congressional district. Heavily supported by the gun control group she once worked for, McBath hopes to connect her real-life story with voters on both sides of the aisle.

LAH: So you think they'll vote for the person, then.

MCBATH: I think yes. I think -- and as we've seen with Cortes and many other candidates around the country, people are voting for the person.

LAH (voice-over): The uphill battle she faces: the suburban Atlanta congressional district hasn't voted for a Democrat since the 1970s, in a gun-friendly state.

FRAN MAHAN, VOTER: She's got to be a broader more of appeal of a candidate to beat Karen Handel in the general election. So that's one reason why I'm going to vote for Abel on the 24th.

LAH (voice-over): Kevin Abel, the other Democrat in a runoff with McBath later this month. The winner will face Republican Karen Handel in November.

KEVIN ABEL (D), U.S. CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE FROM GEORGIA: This is not the district in this country you want to try to win on a gun issue alone.

LAH: McBath contends that she is not a one-issue candidate. She also cares about jobs, the economy, climate change as well as education. She says that guns is merely her entry issue.

The two Democrats say whoever wins the July 24th runoff, they are going to support the winner. The goal here for both of them is to try to flip the district. They merely disagree who should be that person -- Kyung Lah, CNN, Atlanta.


NEWTON: It's nearly 7:30 am in England. Yes, those beers will be on ice very shortly. The fans can't wait those quarterfinals in Russia. For England, no matter what happens on the pitch Saturday, the British economy comes out a World Cup winner.





NEWTON: All right. A stunned Brazil humbled in Russia. The five- time World Cup champs crashed out of the tournament Friday outbattled by Belgium. They had been the favorites to win before Friday's match.

And France defeated Uruguay 2-0 in Friday's other quarterfinal game. France and Belgium will now meet in the semifinals next Tuesday in St. Petersburg. On Saturday, Russia hopes its fairy tale run will hold up when they meet Croatia.

And England also keen to advance in the semis when they face Sweden in the coming hours. The entire country is expected to come to a standstill. A victory for England would not only lift the nation's spirits; yes, it could also boost the U.K. economy. Our Anna Stewart explains how.


ANNA STEWART, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tension, relief and celebration. And it's not just the fans. Pubs, bars and shops all reaping the benefits.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't think we've ever done so well. So obviously everyone's getting hyped with it. As you can see, like from the morning, literally, all I have been doing is standing in this section, selling shirts all day, all morning. All day yesterday, all day, day before.

STEWART (voice-over): Food delivery apps Deliveroo and Uber Eats both says orders are up some 25 percent to 30 percent the hour before matches. STEWART: Brits are expected to drink an extra 8 million pints of beer

during Saturday's quarterfinal match. It may result in a national hangover but it could also boost the economy by some $32 million.

And if England were to actually make it to the final, well, that could generate an additional $2.2 billion in extra spending.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE) mood of optimism and it's, well, a bit more interesting than Brexit. So I think everyone is happy with life at the minute.

STEWART (voice-over): The longer England stays in, the bigger the boost, according to Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

MARK CARNEY, GOVERNOR, BANK OF ENGLAND: It would be an unadulterated, absolute good. Everything would be good about every result that the team can manage.

STEWART (voice-over): Football isn't quite home yet. But the party certainly is -- Anna Stewart, CNN, London.


NEWTON: I want to point out that Anna actually said an extra 8 million pints of beer. Just saying. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I am Paula Newton and I will be back with the headlines in just a moment.