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Aired July 8, 2018 - 18:00   ET


[18:00:00] RYAN NOBLES, CNN ANCHOR: -- comes out. It's not a celebration because there are many young lives that are still in great danger. But four boys are now out of that cave in northern Thailand, rescued by expert divers. Eight of their soccer teammates are still down there, trapped more than two miles underground. In the coming hours rescuers with ropes and dive gear will go back in and try and bring more of those boys out.

Jonathan Miller is near the cave entrance at the center of the rescue mission. CNN's Matt Rivers is at the hospital where those four rescued boys are being treated.

Jonathan, let's start with you. Now why aren't the rescuers going into that cave right now?

JONATHAN MILLER, CNN ASIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, we understand from what the governor has been in charge of this hazardous rescue operation told us a few hours ago is that there has been -- that the oxygen tanks that had been prepositioned down throughout the cavern system needed to be replaced. They couldn't just keep on bringing boys out until they got more oxygen tanks inside. He said there would be a 10 to 20-hour hiatus. Now that's already five hours old, that information, so we can expect the boys to be -- the next batch of boys, we think they're going to come out in three batches of three, the next lot, to start again in probably about 12 hours' time or so.

We know that the operation today went remarkably successfully. I mean, normally it takes these incredibly experienced cave divers six hours to exit from the chamber where the boys have been for this past two weeks to the outside. It took them just 7 1/2 hours with one of the boys. And that included a period where they had a medical checkup before they left and as they exited in chamber 3, which is a section of the cave which is not flooded. So it went very well so far.

But as you said, Ryan, you know, it's far from over yet.

NOBLES: All right. Thank you, Jonathan. Let's go over to Matt now.

Matt, you're at the hospital there. That's where the doctors are looking for these four rescued boys. What kind of shape are they in and how are they preparing for the others that could be brought there?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Ryan, in terms of their condition at the moment, no official word yet from authorities, really from officials today. They've been very tight-lipped in terms of providing extra information about these boys. We've seen no images since they were brought out. We've been given no updates on their condition. They're really giving them a lot of the privacy that I think all of us would agree they deserve after an ordeal like this.

But we do have some information in terms of the kind of preparations the hospital went through in advance of this. We have some pictures to show you that come from the public health ministry here in Thailand. It was the minister, the top official in the public health ministry. He actually came to this hospital just behind me earlier this week to tour a unit that was specially set up for these boys, presumably where they are right now.

This was a normal ward of the hospital that they actually turned into a sterilized isolation unit. You can see the beds in there, the pictures that we have showed. The minister touring that area. And that's presumably where those boys are going to be right now. Now what that means, well, we know it was set up on the advice of specialists, but what it means we're not really sure. Could it mean that there's a risk of contagious disease?

Could it mean that their conditions could potentially be that sensitive that they would need to be isolated from their surroundings? Does that mean that their parents can't go in and see them? Those are questions that we don't really have the answers to at this point. But it does speak to the kind of preparations that this hospital is making and the severity and the seriousness in which they are treating the potential symptoms that these kids could be coming out of this cave with -- Ryan.

NOBLES: Yes, and Matt, there's also the possibility it could be all of those things as well. They are obviously preparing for every possible scenario.

Matt Rivers, Jonathan Miller, thank you for your excellent reporting.

Let's talk more about this. The psychological toll on the four rescued boys may linger for years. We're talking about post-traumatic stress, anxiety, fear, confusion, even long-term depression.

Let's bring in Dr. Dr. Darria Long Gillespie. She's an emergency room doctor and professor at the University of Tennessee.

Darria, first, I want to talk about post-traumatic stress. Is there anything that these doctors are going to treat these boys first? Is there anything they can do in the first hours and minutes after they're rescued to help mitigate the risks of PSTD?

DR. DARRIA LONG GILLESPIE, CLINICAL ASSISTANT PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE: Ryan, I think that's a fantastic question because simultaneously while you are treating the physical body, you still have to be paying attention to their mindset. I think that's going to be very important, is just maybe even when they're taking care of their hydration, listening to them and giving them support while they hear these emotional concerns that these boys may start to share. It depends on each child.

NOBLES: Now we know that they've been working on their mental health to a certain extent during their stay in this cave. You know, the boys' coach, in fact, before he became a soccer coach, was actually a Buddhist monk. He lived in a remote temple for a decade. And he's supposedly meditating with them for up to an hour at a time. Is there any way that that could mitigate some of these factors in terms of psychological stress that these boys are dealing with?

[18:05:05] GILLESPIE: Ryan, absolutely. I think that that could be helping to save their lives as well. I think the mind-body connection is huge, for two reasons, especially for these boys. Number one, in any situation, when you're trapped, you have a tendency to be anxious and so staying calm is very important. But secondly, these boys have to scuba dive out of there. So controlling their breathing, controlling their emotions will be very important. And when your oxygen levels are low, called hypoxia, your emotional state can really fluctuate from anxiety to euphoria, and a stage of actually doing more dangerous things. So keeping those emotions and that anxiety in check is going to be hugely important.

NOBLES: As a father myself, I have a 7-year-old boy, and I see my son in the eyes of these children in these pictures. The first thing that I would want the second that he came out of that cave would be to grab him and hug him immediately. Is there some risk to that? I mean, should these parents maybe give these boys some space in the beginning to risk the boys may be showing some bravado to maybe make their parents seem that they're better than they actually are?

GILLESPIE: Ryan, I have two children myself, so I cannot imagine what's going through those parents' head. I can only send them my love. But each child will be different. Some will -- you know, some may have some medical condition that they have to be whisked away to be medically stabilized. But what we do in the ER, you medically stabilize them but then as quickly as possible you get their parents in because the parents want to see that child and that child wants to see their parents.

NOBLES: Yes. And, you know, I wondered the long-term effects. Is it possible that some of these boys may never feel normal again after an experience like this?

GILLESPIE: Ryan, each child is different. We know from prior mining emergencies where the miners have been trapped, the psychological toll maintains itself long after the physical has healed. So each child will be different. And it will really remain to be seen how each of them reacts, how supportive their family is, and the support they get from their surrounding environment.

NOBLES: I imagine, too, that we need to keep the health and wellbeing of their parents in mind as well. I imagine they're not maybe eating as much as they should be, they're probably not sleeping as much. And are they too also at risk for some sort of PSTD or long term psychological problems?

GILLESPIE: Ryan, I don't -- as a mom myself and you as a father, I don't think we can underestimate the toll that this is going to take on their parents as well. And so I think it's just as important we're treating the children, we have to also pay attention to the parents because, as you know, your child looks to you to know how to react when your child falls on the ground, it's whether you panic or if you say it's OK.

NOBLES: Right.

GILLESPIE: I mean the parents are going to help their children heal. So we have to help the parents heal as well.

NOBLES: No doubt they have a long way to go. But it is encouraging that we're having a conversation about their recovery after this incident as opposed to the other outcome, which we obviously still have a long way to go in dealing with that.

Doctor Darria Long Gillespie, thank you so much for joining us. We appreciate it.

GILLESPIE: Thank you, Ryan. Take care.

NOBLES: Coming up, we will follow our breaking news story. We're going to talk to one expert about what it's like inside the cave and what hurdles the teams are encountering during the rescue, and why they say it is a now or never scenario.


[18:12:18] NOBLES: It's our breaking news from overseas today, northern Thailand, where some good news came out of what is still a very desperate situation. Four young boys rescued today from a small air pocket deep underground in a cave. It's just the beginning of a rescue operation because eight boys are still down there along with their soccer coach. They've been trapped there for more than two weeks. And they've got to get out of there soon.

Let's talk now to Emily Davis, she's an experienced cave explorer who survived her own rescue ordeal some years ago.

Emily, I imagine that you're closely watching this very scary situation like people all over the world. Does it remind you of your own experience back in 1991?

EMILY DAVIS, CAVE EXPLORER RESCUED AFTER BEING TRAPPED 91 HOURS: It reminds me of many cave rescues, including mine, though this one is going on longer than most cave rescues do. There are many cave rescues, even involving water situations. But often, those river situations can be taken care of by waiting a day or two. The people have stayed at high ground. Then they can come out on their own. This is a very different rescue than any other we've ever seen.

NOBLES: And when we spoke yesterday, and you said that you had some optimism about the rescue because there were such skilled divers there and there were so many different people from around the country that were focused and serious about getting these kids out. Now that you've seen that a few of these boys have been successfully rescued, do you think that that raises the prospects for the other eight boys that are still trapped?

DAVIS: Yes, my optimism is even higher than it was. You've got these spectacularly talented and skilled cave divers. You've got support teams. And now the kids, the word will get back to the kids who are still underground that four are out, and out safely. That will buoy their spirits. And they'll feel really good about their options of getting out, getting an opportunity to see their families again fairly soon.

NOBLES: I know that before this story broke, I didn't really know all that much about cave diving. Obviously people all around the world are learning more about it and just how hazardous it is, even in good conditions. I mean, these boys got into a lot of big trouble and it happened very quickly.

From your perspective as someone with a lot of experience and even with all that experience find yourself in a very difficult situation, you know, explain about the dangers of this type of recreation and how you truly need training and some experience before taking on a cave exploration of this magnitude.

DAVIS: Well, caving is a very safe sport if you follow certain rules.

[18:15:03] If anybody's really interested in caving, they can go to the National Speleological Society's site, that's But what they want to do is let somebody know where they're going, make sure they have permission of the landowner, make sure they have three sources of light. And these rules are not necessarily ones that might be known in some other countries, they might visit the caves a little differently.

Those of us who are in the United States have got support and education from the National Speleological Society, which raises the safety level of caving.

NOBLES: And from your experience, what is it going to be like for these young men after they come out of the cave? I mean, many of them came close to dying in there. I mean, you were definitely in a situation where you could have lost your life. What's it like to recover mentally from this kind of a close call?

DAVIS: Well, I think the first thing is that while they're in the cave, they've got support. We've seen the people who have been joking with them, they're smiling. There is a positive attitude. There is that sense of humor that helps keep you from being too worried. Then there is the support of the divers. When they come out, there's going to be a lot of media attention. They're going to be living a life that is very different for a while. And I think it will be the letdown afterwards that may cause them some personal issues.

They were famous, or they will be famous. And then all of a sudden, there will be no news stories going on and they will be forgotten. That may be harder than almost anything.

NOBLES: That's an excellent point, Emily, and something that their families are obviously going to have to keep a close eye on. Obviously a long way to go here, four boys rescued, eight others and their coach still underground.

Emily Davis, thank you again for giving us your perspective on this. We really appreciate it.

DAVIS: My pleasure.

NOBLES: Between the heavy rainfall that's about to come, the lack of oxygen in the cave, and the sheer number of days those kids have been trapped underground, the urgency has never been higher to get the rest of them out.

Here is CNN's Tom Foreman with how phase I happened.

Tom, explain this to us.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ryan. The initial part of this rescue went a little faster than officials expected. Two boys came out about 10 minutes apart, then two hours later, two more. The only way that was possible was through this incredibly aggressive effort to pump many, many, many hundreds of gallons of water out of here to clear enough space where they could actually walk out.

Some places remain completely submerged. That's why the divers had to put these boys into full face masks. There were 18 divers working inside the cave. And as they brought them out, they did it in this configuration. A diver would go up front, carrying the air supply for the boy, and tethered to the boy in the middle. They would follow a line out and then another diver would come in back to backstop the entire effort, as they go through very tight areas and other areas as well.

How many places did they actually have to be completely underwater like this? We don't entirely know because the maps are very inadequate at this point. By some estimates, though, a quarter of this cave may still require that sort of passage. If that's true, these boys are having to go under roughly 11 football fields completely underwater with muck and cold and currents. It's a huge challenge, yet they managed to get four of them all the way outside. Now why did they stop? Because they ran out of their oxygen supply, they have to replenish, and that will take a while.

But the clock is really ticking here. All of that pumping was to deal with the rain that fell from the time the boys disappeared until the little lull that they reached right in here. And now what's happening, the storms are coming back in earnest. That is giving a tremendous sense of urgency here, beyond what we've even seen so far -- Ryan.

NOBLES: All right, Tom, thank you for that.

The U.S.-China trade war may be heating up. But traders on Wall Street will have to set that headache aside and focus on corporate earnings this week.

Alison Kosik has more -- Alison. ALISON KOSIK, CNN BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Ryan. Trade will be

top of mind for investors this week after the U.S. kicked off what some are calling a full-fledged trade war. China has since retaliated, hitting U.S. goods like autos, crude oil, and cash crops like soybeans. Those items may not get more expensive for U.S. consumers but it may impact profits of U.S. companies. That's the main worry on Wall Street and what's kept stocks lower as the trade war heats up. But another barrage of headlines is about to hit Wall Street. And that could give the market a boost.

Corporate earnings season kicks off this week. Some of the biggest U.S. banks will be the first to report, including JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Wells Fargo. All three stocks are down for the year after a big jump to start 2018. So investors are hoping this latest round of earnings can reverse that trend.

[18:20:05] I'm Alison Kosik at the New York Stock Exchange.

NOBLES: Alison, thank you.

We continue to follow the breaking news out of Thailand. We're awaiting the next phase of the rescue mission to evacuate the youth soccer team and their coach trapped inside a cave for more than two weeks now. Why rescuers say it is now or never.


[18:25:06] NOBLES: Welcome back. Right now rescue efforts at a cave in Thailand are on hold, this while teams restock air tanks and supplies needed to free the remaining nine members of the youth soccer team.

Earlier today we got some incredible news, though. The four boys had been safely evacuated by divers. They were guiding them through tunnels that were both pitch black and flooded.

And joining me now is Rick Murcar. He's the president of the National Association for Cave Divers.

Rick, there's been a lot of anxiety over how they'd be able to pull this off, especially after one of the rescuers, a former Navy SEAL lost his life. I mean, just how extraordinary is this accomplishment up until this point?

RICK MURCAR, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION FOR CAVE DIVERS: This is a daunting task. There's no other way to sum it up. I mean, the logistics just to get into the cave, to support the soccer team, and what's required to exit the cave. Everything is about exiting the cave. So it is a huge undertaking.

NOBLES: I mean, I wonder, your perspective on this strategy that they're using to fit these boys. Some of them don't know how to swim. So they're fitting them with full face masks, and then having the divers tow them using a rope. It obviously has been successful up until this point. And do you think that this was the best way to get around a very difficult situation? MURCAR: Well, I'm not on the ground. So it is hard to make any sort

of mission estimate on for that. Given the time frame, we have -- what we have here is we have man, man's technology versus nature. And right now nature is driving the show a little bit. So man has to step up. And I think that what they've done, the face masks allow the boys to have at least an enclosed airspace, they have to get used to that. Prepping them in their chamber was smart, getting them used to breathing on that, building up a rapport with the boys. That trust cannot be overstated.

You're going to take an individual who has never been in the water, doing something that is not instinctual, that is breathing. And essentially you'd be moving a line. That line is critical, that is their lifeline to the exit that rope that they're pulling on. So position of the boys, keeping in contact, keeping them calm, providing as much communication, which is a huge challenge once you're underwater, especially when you cannot see.

I mean, put your hand over your eyes, that is the visibility you're going to get in this condition. So it's certainly a daunting task.

NOBLES: And talk to me a little bit -- you mentioned the rope, which is an important part of this process. But what about these rescue or stage tanks that they have placed along the route as the divers make their way back and forth? How important is it to have those tanks in place?

MURCAR: Well, unfortunately we already lost one Navy diver and our prayers go out to his family as it should to all the rescuers and the soccer team. The distance that they have to penetrate into this cave, I mean, we're, what, 3.2 kilometers, 1.5 miles? The scuba cylinder, based on the depth, the work weight of the driver, the breathing rate, that's natural, I mean, an 80 cubic foot cylinder is not going to last over that distance.

So the work that they take into pre-stage all these cylinders in place for the rescue divers, for the soccer team members, that is a critical element of the success or failure of this operation.

NOBLES: Wow. You are a cave diver yourself, obviously. From your perspective, what do you think the biggest challenge is going to be for these rescue divers going forward? Is it the fact that a new round of monsoons could roll through? Or is it the low levels of oxygen in the cave? Or is it the disposition of the boys? What do you think is the biggest challenge?

MURCAR: It's all that. I mean, the boys appear to be in pretty good physical condition, being soccer players. You have Mother Nature with the monsoons coming in. You have the depletion of the oxygen. Once the oxygen levels start to drop less than 16 percent in contact, those boys are going to start to get hypoxia, they're going to start to pass out. If they go to sleep, it's game over. I can't sum it up any more than that. So the timing is getting to be real critical, which is why they moved forward with the mission of extracting these boys using scuba. So the divers have to get in. The problem is now you've wasted -- no,

you didn't waste. You've expended a lot of the resources in extracting these four boys. Now the time frame, the divers have to rest, they have to get everything back in place for the next phase. We're saying two or three days, OK. If another four boys come up, great, it proves it has worked. I mean, it's a task that most certainly had to be planned out well. But there's an element of, you know, nature has its call, and the boys are very key to this.

That rapport that the divers built up with them, keeping them calm, keeping them confident, positive reinforcement that they're going to get out, that's key.

NOBLES: All right.

MURCAR: Keeping touch contact with these boys, reassuring. I'm not going to worry if they silt out. There nothing to silt out. They can't see anyway.


MURCAR: Get on that line, get those boys moving. Work them through the restrictions. Be patient. When you get breaks because they come up to some air pockets, give them the break and move them again. The sooner you get them out, the better.

NOBLES: OK, good. Rick Murcar, we're going to have to --

MURCAR: Can I add a point?

NOBLES: Rick, OK, quickly. Make your point, quickly.



MURCAR: I will say that even though the boys are getting out to the exit, when they see the light, that is also a critical phase because, you know, their eyes have adjusted to darkness. They'll want to get out of that cave, and that's when the divers are really going to have to do the final control on the boys to ensure they ascend safely to the surface. Then the medical teams kick in.

NOBLES: All right. Rick Murcar, thank you so much for your expertise on this. Obviously, a long way to go in this rescue. We appreciate you being on.

And we have breaking news into CNN, a British woman exposed to the deadly Soviet-era nerve agent novichok has died. We're going to have details on that when we come back.


[18:35:29] NOBLES: Breaking news just into CNN, a British woman exposed to novichok, a deadly chemical nerve agent tied to Russia, that person has died. Officials say Dawn Sturgess was poisoned along with her partner after

handling a contaminated object. Now, her partner is still in critical condition.

Now, you'll recall that novichok is a group of chemical agents that were used earlier this year to poison an ex-Russian spy and his daughter who were living in the United Kingdom. Now, the British government has blamed Russia for that attack.

In fact, British Prime Minister Theresa May, speaking out just moments ago. She says in a statement, quote, I am appalled and shocked by the death of Dawn Sturgess and my thoughts and condolences go to her family and loved ones. Police and security officials are working urgently to establish the facts of this incident which is now being investigated as a murder.

I want to bring in CNN national security analyst Samantha Vinograd.

Sam, our correspondent Phil Black who is there has been covering this story for quite some time. He says that officials there do believe that this is connected to the previous chemical attack which targeted two Russian spies -- or a Russian spy and his daughter.

The difference in this case, though, is that these folks have no connection to Russia in any way, shape, or form, and they're British citizens. Does this raise this issue to a new level in terms of the international community? And how forceful, now, will Theresa May have to be with Vladimir Putin?

SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, this certainly ups the ante in several ways. First off, this shows that British authorities did not identify all of the novichok that was in the United Kingdom.

So from an immediate standpoint, authorities are probably desperately trying to figure out whether there is any more of the substance. It could be in liquid form, gel form, or powder form that is within the U.K. and that could contaminate other people.

Theresa May came under a lot of criticism for her response to the Skripal poisoning a few weeks ago. The U.K. expelled several diplomats, about 23 of them, and there was pressure for her to do more. She did not suggest levying sanctions, for example, or any kind of further response.

And so this is a morbid backdrop for the upcoming NATO summit later this week where allies will ostensibly discuss a response.

NOBLES: Right. And how does this not, in some way, shape, or form, involve President Trump?

As you mentioned, he is going to the NATO summit. He, also, is going to meet with the Queen and with Theresa May, and then going to meet one on one with Vladimir Putin.

In some way, shape, or form, President Trump is going to have to get involved in this, isn't he?

VINOGRAD: One would think, but in his last call with President Trump -- or I should say the call where he congratulated Vladimir Putin on his election victory, he did not raise this poisoning and came under intense criticism for it. It was very shortly after the poisoning and after the United States kicked out Russian diplomats.

So the question really is, what will NATO allies decide to do when they're together in Brussels in terms of a coordinated response? And if Donald Trump sees Vladimir Putin, will he actually raise this issue and say, this is what we're prepared to do unless you stop?

NOBLES: Right. Another complicating factor to what is already a series of very important meetings for President Trump.

Sam Vinograd, thank you.


NOBLES: Up next, the President's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, seems to reveal that President Trump did, in fact, ask then-FBI Director James Comey to give Mike Flynn a break. So what about all those denials? We'll discuss this, next.


NOBLES: We are waiting to see who President Trump will nominate for the Supreme Court. He'll says -- he says he is going to announce who he's chosen tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. Eastern. As of right now, though, he said he still hasn't decided.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very close to making a decision. I have not made it official yet, obviously. I have not made it final, but we're very close to making a decision.

Let's say it's the four people, but -- and they're excellent, everyone. You can't go wrong. But I'm getting very close to making a final decision.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -- decide right now.

TRUMP: I'll probably be decided tonight or tomorrow.


NOBLES: So here are the four picks that sources tell us the President has narrowed it down to. They're all considered to be on the more conservative side of things.

Earlier this evening, our camera crews did capture this video of Judge Amy Coney Barrett outside of her home. Obviously, one person probably more anxious than most to hear what the President is going to decide. So joining us now to discuss this, CNN political commentator and

contributing editor at "The Atlantic," Peter Beinart; national political reporter for RealClearPolitics, Caitlin Huey-Burns; and CNN political analyst and senior political correspondent for the "Washington Examiner," David Drucker.

David, let's start with you. As long as President Trump picks a conservative, does it really matter who he chooses, or are Republicans going to be unhappy if it doesn't fall particularly on the piece of the spectrum that they're looking for tomorrow?

DAVID DRUCKER, SENIOR POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, WASHINGTON EXAMINER: Well, look, I think around the edges there could be some quibbling, but I think if -- from this group, I think that Republicans are, by and large, going to be happy.

And that from this group, you're going to have some of the concerns that certainly Democrats are going to have no matter who is picked from this group, how Roe v. Wade might be affected, how other cases might be affected. And just the fact that the court will swing to the right, at least according to philosophy and ideology, that is without a doubt.

[18:45:03] Obviously, people are going to be watching Senators Collins and Murkowski of Maine and Alaska respectively, how they feel, because of their pro-choice approach to abortion rights.

But I think that the President was always going to pick somebody in the vein of these four. We've known that from the beginning. We've seen that with the Gorsuch pick. And it was never going to be any different.

So it's going to be about whether or not Republicans can keep everybody in the fold and exactly how many of these red-state Democrats the President can pull to vote for confirmation.

NOBLES: You know, Caitlin, you wouldn't think that the President would be making this decision based on an election that's upcoming, given that this person could, theoretically, serve on the court for as many as four decades. But there is an election aspect to all this.


NOBLES: And we had Ken Cuccinelli and Bill Kristol on last hour. They kept floating this idea of Judge Barrett being the type of candidate that would most energize the Republican base ahead of the 2018 midterms. I mean, do you agree with that sentiment?

HUEY-BURNS: We know that the Republican base was energized about Trump in the 2016 election because of the vacancy that was on the Supreme Court. That's something that is just -- had just been motivating voters to turn out for Trump and coalesce the party around him.

The President also knows that. And he touts Gorsuch who replaced Scalia as a key achievement of his administration and something that really pleases conservatives and Republican voters kind of across the board, even when they're frustrated with other elements of his administration or his personality. They kind of always cite that.

NOBLES: Right.

HUEY-BURNS: So I think he's looking to that kind of thing as a roadmap, knowing that this kind of choice is going to, in many ways, motivate folks.

Now, Democrats are now going to be hypermotivated by whomever Trump picks. And we'll see whether that kind of changes how voters behave in the midterm election on that issue.

NOBLES: And, Peter, it's always a reality show with President Trump even before he became president, but it seems to continue with his presidential life.

He seems to be teasing this announcement, says he's going to make it in a prime time event tomorrow night at 9:00. He says he hasn't even really decided yet. Are you surprised that this is the way the President is rolling out this pick?

PETER BEINART, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, THE ATLANTIC: No. I mean, I actually think the President has been really comparatively disciplined in the way he's dealt with the Supreme Court picks, compared to almost everything else in his presidency.

And I think it's a sign, frankly, of his political skill and intelligence that he recognizes that when it comes to his conservative base, he can be forgiven for all manner of things, but this is one thing on which he really needs to deliver.

And I think no matter which of these four he chooses, given that the list has essentially been chosen by people who are movement conservatives, conservatives will be happy. They might be more ecstatic if it's Amy Coney Barrett, but I think that they will be very, very happy.

And it's very useful for Trump because we know there's a huge difference in the motivation levels between Democrats and Republicans in the midterm elections. Democrats could get a little more motivated, but they're already motivated. The challenge for Republicans is their voters are not motivated. This may help.

NOBLES: Yes, it's interesting. You talk about the discipline and the messaging and the lack of leaks, really. Even the people that are leaking are doing it with a huge caveat. We think it might be this guy, but you never know until it actually comes out of the President's mouth.

Let's change gears here now because the President's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, broke some news today. He seems to confirm the fact that the President did ask former FBI Director James Comey to drop the investigation into his friend and national security adviser Michael Flynn. Listen to what the mayor said this morning. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS ANCHOR: He didn't direct him to do that.

RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL LAWYER TO PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: What he said to him was, can you give him a break?

STEPHANOPOULOS: Comey says he took it as direction.

GIULIANI: Well, that's OK, I mean, if he'd taken it that way. I mean, by that time, he had been fired. And he said a lot of other things, some of which have turned out to be untrue.

The reality is, as a prosecutor, I was told that many times, can you give the man a break? Either by his lawyers, by his relatives, by friends. You take that into consideration, but you don't -- that doesn't determine not going forward with it.


NOBLES: The mayor's argument on this, from a legal perspective aside, David, this is a direct contradiction from what we've heard President Trump say in the past. He's repeatedly tweeted and he's said publicly that he's never asked Comey to do that. I mean, isn't that a problem for him, David?

DRUCKER: Well, I think it could be a problem for him. Notice what Rudy Giuliani is doing here, which is what he was brought in to do and I think he's done rather effectively if you look at the polling.

In dribs and drabs, they have leaked out elements of the investigation and some of the facts that, until they were leaked, for instance until this was leaked, they had never admitted the President tried to influence Comey on Flynn. And now it's already out there.


DRUCKER: And so by the time the special prosecutor, whenever it is, releases his report, this will be something that has already been raked over the coals and debated and talked about, and it won't be some sort of fresh revelation for the public.

But something else is really interesting here, Ryan. In that -- I believe it was a 20-page memo that was leaked in the past couple of months, and I presume, personally, by Trump's legal team, although they never said so openly.

[18:50:02] They asserted that the President, as the nation's chief law enforcement officer under the constitution, has full authority over all federal investigations.

And yet, here, Rudy Giuliani is arguing that the President was just a bystander like in cases he dealt with as a prosecutor, a family member, a friend, some other lawyer, when that's clearly not the case they've made in the past, trying to assert the President's authority do whatever he wants with federal probes.

NOBLES: Right, certainly not the first time there's been contradictory messaging as well in their defense of the President.

But, Caitlin, back to David's point here about the strategy perhaps by Rudy Giuliani. When he first started giving interviews, there were all kinds of criticism that he was going rogue, that he was hurting the President's case. But he seems to be continuing to do this. I think a lot of people are starting to wonder if this is actually the strategy of this legal team.

HUEY-BURNS: Well, we know that the legal -- Trump wanted his legal team to be out there defending him in public, which Giuliani has been doing. You know, facts be damned in a lot of ways. And, also, to really muddy up the waters, to make this as kind of confusing as possible to the American public and try to build a case about the investigation in its entirety.

Remember, they don't think that this investigation is worth anything. They don't think that it should be going on. And you see that reflected in the polling. Not only among Republicans but among -- you know, we're starting to see it more generally among voters as well.

And so they're hoping that this really muddies the waters. People kind of are confused by all of this and that the President kind of claims the upper hand.

NOBLES: OK. We're going to have to leave it there, guys.

Thank you so much, David Drucker, Caitlin Huey-Burns, and Peter Beinart. We appreciate you being here. Thank you.

Coming up, as rescuers in Thailand look to begin another rescue mission in the coming hours, they say it is now or never as they face a new danger -- incoming monsoon rains. What this means for the operation, next.


[18:56:01] NOBLES: It was the decade that brought us iconic characters, from Tony Soprano to Walter White to, of course, Carrie Bradshaw.

Tonight, the "CNN ORIGINAL SERIES: THE 2000S" kicks off by looking at the television shows that made waves in the first 10 years of the 21st century. Among them, the hit HBO comedy "Sex and the City."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Give me your bag.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And your Manolo Blahniks.

PARKER: What? No! These guys weren't just after money anymore, they were after fashion.

Please, sir, they're my favorite pair. I got them half price at a sample sale.


PARKER: Oh. Oh! Somebody stop him! He took my strappy sandals! Oh, please! Somebody. Oh. Oh, gross!


NOBLES: CNN's Kate Bennett has been on a tour of New York City, checking out all the iconic locations from the show.

Kate, actress Sarah Jessica Parker often said that New York was the fifth lady on the cast of "Sex and the City." How big of an impact did that have on the show?

KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Huge. I mean, I don't think the show would have been what it was if it didn't have New York City as the backdrop. I mean, wherever she goes and her friends, there is always something iconic about Manhattan, you know, and the characters as they evolved.

Actually, we're here, Ryan, in front of the house where Carrie lived, in the Brownstones. And that was featured so much in all the seasons of the show as well as the movie, so it's very interesting to see it in person.

And I have with me Elyse, who is actually been are amazing tour guide on the bus, keeping us all entertained. She knows all of her facts.

So tell us a little bit about this house. It's actually a home, right?

ELYSE BRANDAU, TOUR GUIDE, ON LOCATION TOURS: Oh, it is, yes. It was bought in 2012 for $9.65 million. People live there. Many families. We've had -- we've had talks. It's fun.

They also use the other Brownstone right beside for a couple, but this outside mostly. And this is the iconic one that people come.


BRANDAU: In droves. It's insane.

BENNET: I mean, we've been here just a few minutes and have seen people drive by and take pictures. I mean, this is still --


BENNETT: Why do you think, so many years later, the show still resonates, we're still talking about "Sex and the City"?

BRANDAU: It doesn't -- yes, it does, it just holds up. I think it's because you can relate to it at different ages. I think a lot of it is evergreen. Some of it is not, obviously, but I think it was groundbreaking.

And you don't have a show like that, that can mix, like, really true experiences that we can all relate to and also, like, just the fantasy of, like, this high-end New York City life and then just, like, the most absurd fantastic comedy. It just mixes it so well.

BENNETT: The perfect way to put it.


BENNETT: It's part of the reason why we're featuring, you know, iconic television like "Sex and the City" on "THE 2000s," which premieres tonight.

But, certainly, for me, especially -- and I'm sure, Elyse -- being here, seeing these things in person, sort of reliving my Carrie Bradshaw fandom, has really been an awesome day.

And, certainly, a lot of fun here to be seeing this place in person and, again, this iconic pop culture that we're all so attuned to and remember so well. It's been really a very fun day.

NOBLES: Absolutely right.

BENNETT: Back to you, Ryan.

NOBLES: Yes. And, Kate, just to -- you know, it's been 20 years since the show was on the air. The fact that these bus tours are still bringing in droves and droves of people, I think, is probably the best evidence about the impact that had it on society and culture for sure.

BENNETT: So true.

NOBLES: All right. Kate Bennett live for us in New York City. Kate, thank you.

And the "CNN ORIGINAL SERIES: THE 2000S" premieres tonight at 9:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.

It is 7:00 p.m. on the East Coast, 4:00 in the afternoon out west. I'm Ryan nobles in New York in today for Ana Cabrera. And you're live in the CNN NEWSROOM.

[19:00:03] CNN's breaking news right now, the urgent rescue mission that people all over the world are following. It's way too early to exhale just yet, but the first phase of this operation, a huge success.