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Tonight: Trump announces Supreme Court nominee. Aired 9-9:30a ET

Aired July 9, 2018 - 09:00   ET


[09:00:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: We are 12 hours away from his primetime Supreme Court reveal after which comes a sure-to-be-tense NATO summit and a potentially chilly visit to our closest ally Britain complete with planned protest. After that he will sit down face-to- face with Russian president Vladimir Putin just one week from today.

But before we delve into all of that, first the breaking news. The second day of painstaking rescues has come to a close in Thailand. Four more boys emerging from that cramped and flooded cave. Eight in total safely removed since yesterday. That leaves four more members of this Thai youth soccer team and their coach still waiting after roughly two and a half weeks and they are about two and a half miles inside of that mountain where they have been huddled on this dry ledge. They will be there at least another day as divers need to rest, refill those oxygen tanks and then go once again to rescue them. Complicating the efforts, a forecast of rain and a lot of it.

We have our reporters and crews at the cave as well as at the hospital where the boys who have been rescued or being treated and tested, also quarantined. Let me go first to our Ivan Watson.

What can you tell us?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, the rescue operations have been suspended now. Night has fallen, but it was another productive day as you mentioned. Four more boys brought from deep within the mountain where they have been stuck for more than two weeks in a cavern, more than two miles into the mountain, brought out one by one bringing up the number to eight now rescued between Sunday and Monday.

We've been in touch with a member of the rescue operation team at the mouth of the cavern who's described the conditions, some details about the rescues, that the boys are brought out on stretchers and they have what appeared to be diving wet suits on and full face masks until they are brought to a field hospital up near the mouth of the cavern where doctors look them over and then they are rushed by ambulance, and then military helicopter to the provincial capital, to a proper hospital.

Now the wet suits make a lot of sense because they are having to spend potentially hours being brought through flooded tunnels. And in those kind of conditions it's cold and you can suffer from hypothermia, not to mention the fact that the boys are dehydrated, they've suffered from malnutrition after more than two weeks trapped in the caverns. So it does make sense that not only are they being equipped with these full face masks to help them breathe during those long periods of time submerged but also to keep their body, their core warm as they are brought through as well.

And you mentioned the weather. People, meteorologist were forecasting rain, a deluge, monsoon weather, the kind of weather that perhaps drove the team deep into the cavern in the first place. Well, fortunately it was mostly dry today and yesterday and that helps with the rescue efforts. It helps keep the water levels lower -- Poppy.

HARLOW: And Ivan, before you go, you mentioned hours. These boys under water doing this treacherous dive for hours?

WATSON: Well, think about it. Before the rescues began, the divers were having to dive roundtrip about 11 hours it was taking for them to reach the cavern where they're trapped and come back out. It's such a perilous journey that one professional former Thai Navy SEAL diver died along way just last week when he ran out of air. So yes, this is a journey that can take long periods of time in deep water.

HARLOW: It's remarkable. Ivan, thank you for being there and for the reporting.

Now to the eight boys who have been safely rescued from the cave that are in the hospital, their current long term health, also what has happened to them mentally through all of this is a major focus.

Matt Rivers joins me at the hospital where they're being treated. I know we are, Matt, getting some details, right, on exactly what they are undergoing right now. What is that?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's exactly right. Before I get to that, Poppy, though, I can tell you that within the last 10 minutes we have seen two ambulances pass by right behind us here at our live location. That is the hospital where these boys are staying right over my shoulder there. We know that the boys were air lifted to an old airport south of our location here. They are taking that last stretch a bit in an ambulance to that hospital.

And inside that hospital, to your question, poppy, we know that on the eighth floor of that hospital a ward has been turned into a sterilized isolation unit specifically set up for these boys. There are 13 beds for 12 boys and their coach, and they're going to be put in isolation when they are brought out of the cave. Each boy has to be in isolation for one to two days.

[09:05:03] They're not allowed to have physical contact with anyone including their family members. Their family members if they come here would have to stay two meters away from them at all times. And that is out of an abundance of caution according to officials who say they don't want to risk the boys getting an infection if their immune systems have been weakened. They don't know what illnesses they brought out of the cave with them. And so really that's just out of caution.

And in addition to that, Poppy, we know they're going to be under observation for five to seven days at least after that isolation period is over to make sure that no symptoms develop after that isolation period ended. So there's a long stretch ahead for these boys, but Poppy, this wasn't guaranteed. The fact that we're talking about boys inside the hospital right now and not in the cave despite the incredible dangerous journey that they had to go through as Ivan just talked about, this was far from guaranteed a couple of days ago. This is miraculous progress here in northern Thailand.

HARLOW: Matt Rivers, thank you for being there and for that reporting. We're hoping for the best for all eight of those boys now being treated at the hospital.

Let's talk a lot more about this. Our chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta is with me. Also with me is Bobby Chacon, a former dive team leader and FBI special agent.

Thank you both for being here. And Dr. Sanjay Gupta, let me begin with you. Can you talk about -- we know physically what these boys have gone through. It's remarkable as Ivan just said, one of the professional divers died on this treacherous journey. These eight boys have made it out sat at least to the hospital. Physically what is most taxing on their bodies?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, at the time that they're assessed, you know, triaged right at the cave entrance there. The first time they are assessed now by a doctor again. They're looking for the basic things, you know, ABC, air way, breathing circulation, any signs of trauma. Critical things to assess to make a decision how quickly the boy needs to get to the hospital.

You know, air way as a result of the low oxygen conditions in the cave and obviously the several hour sort of escape from the caves. Are they dehydrated to the point where their blood pressure is falling? Anything like that. That's the first thing, and then once they get to the hospital, aside from the isolation that Matt Rivers was just talking about, they do need to address the hypothermia which is likely the dehydration and malnutrition.

When they are talking about this isolation, there are certain pathogens within caves, people who splunk caves know about this, things like histoplasmosis, which is essentially a fungus spore that can get into the lungs. And then maybe something they're assessing for as well the boys' immune systems may be compromised which is why they're keeping people away from them so they don't get sick from someone else contaminating them.

HARLOW: Yes. And the lack of oxygen, Sanjay, what is the physical impact on the body of just minimized oxygen for a prolonged period of time?

GUPTA: It's a little bit hard to say. You know, if you think about it the air that we're breathing now has 21 percent oxygen in it. The air in that cave they say was 15 percent, 16 percent. You also have rising CO2 levels. Most people who are otherwise healthy should be able to tolerate that. When they are now during the rescue they were likely given air, you know, through the scuba tank, so that's 21 percent oxygen again. So hopefully it should not have a long term impact on them.

HARLOW: Bobby, as these teams decide which boys to take out first and in which order, how do they make that decision? Is it you bring those that are, you know, in the worst shape out first or you bring the healthiest out first who have the best chance?

BOBBY CHACON, FORMER FBI DIVE TEAM LEADER: Well, I think that decision was probably made by the Navy SEAL doctor that had gotten in there first. I think a doctor and a nurse was able to get in first and assess them. And I think based on that assessment, they probably got a marching order of which boy should go first medically speaking.

I would -- as a dive team leader I would certainly defer to my medical experts on that. The only thing that I would consider is I would maybe want to take my healthiest boy first as a proof of concept on the dive.


CHACON: And once we got one out, we know that the confidence level of those remaining when they hear that one got out successfully, that would maybe calm them down a little bit.

HARLOW: Right. Right.

CHACON: So, you know, I mean, the doctor definitely would have the override but I would prefer myself as the dive team leader take the healthiest out first so that we can test the process.

HARLOW: And Bobby, I have been reading that the most treacherous part of this hours long journey submerged underwater for these boys with the divers is the first kilometer because they have to squeeze through this narrow flooded channel. And I think we have -- you can see, I mean, this is remarkable what they're going through right there.

CHACON: Yes, this is -- you know, it is remarkable. You're right, Poppy. And I think that, you know, a few days ago I wouldn't have thought we would ever be here with eight out successfully now and hopefully the next four and the coach. You know, I really think this was a miraculous recovery and I think that these divers deserve all the credit, the entire team there on the ground deserves immense credit for getting this done.


[09:10:03] CHACON: This was -- you know, I know it looks like now they're getting them out successfully and stuff and sometimes because that success happens, we look at it as maybe not as hard as it was but make no mistake, this is a miracle. These guys are heroes, they're miracle workers and quite frankly, I'm sitting here in almost disbelief at how great a job they are all doing.

HARLOW: And Sanjay, when you look at medically treating these children for their anxiety and for the mental impact on them long term, not just in the short term, months after they're reunited with their family. What goes into that and what are they likely to face? GUPTA: Well, we know from previous sorts of disasters, this one is

obviously very unique. But if you look at Sago, if you look at the Chilean mining disaster, you know, post-traumatic stress for everyone. The people -- in the case of Sago's, only one survivor but the rescue workers, the families, the survivors, it lasts. Even eight years later, you still have evidence of post-traumatic stress.


GUPTA: I will tell you and I think Bobby would agree with me on this, when it comes to anxiety, there's a very profound short-term implication here as well which is when you're trying to do a rescue using scuba equipment, if there is anxiety or panic or something, that can turn into a life threatening situation. Someone tries to remove their mask or behaves in a way that's dangerous can not only put their life at risk but also the rescue diver's life at risk as well.

So there's a short term and long term component here. But that long term component is there. Some of these students, they have no idea that the world has been gripped and watching what's happening here.

HARLOW: Of course.

GUPTA: As they emerge, it's a very different sort of level of concern that they may have.

HARLOW: But again, eight of those boys at least safely out of the cave now at the hospital, four more to go tomorrow and the coach. We'll be watching very closely.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Bobby Chacon, thank you both.

GUPTA: Thank you.

HARLOW: So 12 hours from now, President Trump unveils his nominee for the Supreme Court and reshape the high court for potentially decades to come. What is at stake?

Also, a court hearing hours from now could extend the deadline for the Trump administration to reunite children under the age of 5 with their patients. That deadline of course was tomorrow. So what will happen?

And just days before he sits down with our NATO allies, the president taking aim again at them over their spending. What will this all look like in just 48 hours?


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR, NEWSROOM: Welcome back. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. And it is a major week for President Trump and for the country as the president heads overseas tomorrow to meet with NATO, also with leaders in the UK and then, a week from today, with Russian President Vladimir Putin. A big week ahead.

First, though, the big event tonight. He will reveal his pick for the Supreme Court. He will do it in primetime, 9:00 p.m. Eastern live. You'll see it right here.

The president on Twitter this morning teasing the announcement. Abby Phillip is at the White House. And we're told he's supposed to make his decision on who this will be by noon today.

He's getting counseling from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has two names that he has apparently told the president would be the easiest to confirm. What can you tell us?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right, Poppy. This is a bit of a moving target. Even the president's own deadlines for when he wants to make a decision have been shifting over the last 24 and 48 hours.

But you're right, Mitch McConnell, he's the guy in the Senate counting the votes, has, according to our sources, talked to the president about who he thinks could be the easiest of the candidates to confirm.

Now, we've been talking about four of these - the top four that we believe are in the president's finals for this decision and McConnell has said that Thomas Hardiman and Raymond Kethledge are the two that, he thinks, could be the easiest to confirm.

Remember, Hardiman is the runner up from the last time around. So, he's already been through a big part of this vetting process already. He's viewed as kind of a strong conservative, but someone who is not sort of like polarizing on either side of this issue.

But the president is also deliberating, among two others, Amy Coney Barrett and Brett Kavanaugh.

Brett Kavanaugh, I'm going to start with him because he's the person who, I think, we've heard the most about. He's the one that a lot of conservatives are backing, both inside and outside of this White House. He has a long judicial history. But there's concern that maybe his history is too long.

And there's perhaps the opposite concern for Amy Coney Barrett, maybe she's too polarizing, some conservatives have counselled the president, and perhaps her history is not long enough.

So, the president here is going into these final hours not with a decision made. Our sources are telling us, he's still undecided, but there's still a few hours until 12 noon when the president has said he has to make that final decision and even more hours before 9:00 p.m. It could be down to the wire, Poppy.

HARLOW: You can bet that those four justices will be by their phones today around 12:01 p.m. Eastern Time. Abby Phillip, thank you very much, at the White House.

With me now CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin and CNN presidential historian Douglas Brinkley. Nice to have you both here.

And, Jeffrey, let me begin with you. You wrote a fascinating piece about this in the last few days in "The New Yorker" and you write, "The whole purpose of Trump's Supreme Court selection process has been to eliminate the possibility of nominating someone who might commit Kennedy's" - meaning Justice Anthony Kennedy's - "perfidies of moderation."

So, when you look at some of these names, like you look at a Brett Kavanaugh, for example, and the concerns that some of his dissents, for example, didn't go far enough. Do you see the president choosing him given that?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I think it's possible. We are into very fine distinctions among these four finalists. Their similarities are much greater than their differences.

They were all vetted and chosen by The Federalist Society over the course of the past two years, precisely for the reason of, as I wrote in "The New Yorker" piece, so they won't be Anthony Kennedy, so they will be conservative down the line, so they will vote to overturn Roe V. Wade, so they will vote to limit gay rights, so they will vote to eliminate affirmative action. That's the whole purpose of this process that has been going on since during the 2016 campaign.

[09:20:23] I think some of the distinctions that are being drawn among these four finalists are more in the imagination of the people who are drawing the distinctions. They are all conservative, they are all honorable people, they are all qualified. They will just lead the court in a very different direction than Anthony Kennedy led the court.

HARLOW: When you look at Anthony Kennedy, Douglas, as that key swing vote and why so many people called this court the Kennedy court, you then look to Chief Justice John Roberts as potentially the only possibility after whomever of these four justices is chosen by the president if confirmed. .

Does then John Roberts becomes the only sort of hope that liberals might have to swing their way on the case over the Affordable Care Act?

DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Yes. Roberts becomes the hope or shifting political dynamics in America that we can't foresee that might make a justice hesitate to do something bold or brazen, might tamper them down a little bit.

But I think the name that needs to be mentioned - we mentioned Mitch McConnell. And history is going to remember McConnell for killing the Merrick Garland, which was a big moment in American history.

And now, I think the person that matters most for Donald Trump besides that call over the weekend with Mitch McConnell with his kind of two top candidates is Maryanne Trump Barry, the sister of Donald Trump, she's a retired federal judge, she served with Thomas Hardiman in the US Court of Appeals in the Third Circuit.

And she's been just cheerleading for Hardiman last round. And when trump had a pick and he became number two, Hardiman, and he very well now may be on the top of the list. HARLOW: Jeffrey, when it comes to Roe v. Wade, you'll remember in

that CBS interview that President Trump did back in 2016, he said "judges will be pro-life."

And you look at what Senator Susan Collins of Maine said about sort of her lines that need to be drawn when it comes to voting for the president's nominee, it all comes down to this Latin term stare decisis, which some are saying that's not enough. Senators like Susan Collins have to come out and say, no, I wouldn't vote for a justice that would oppose Roe v. Wade.

The way that she's saying it is along lines of precedent set by the court. Why does that matter so much this time around?

TOOBIN: Well, I think you need to look at what Donald Trump said during the campaign, not just in that CBS interview, but repeatedly. He said I'm going to appoint pro-life justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. By that, I think he means that he'll appoint pro-life justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade.

Susan Collins is pretending that she had some conversation with Neil Gorsuch that lets her predict he will not vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. I think Susan Collins is living in dreamland about that, but she may continue to live in dreamland and persuade herself that these judges, Gorsuch, whoever this nominee is, will not be committed to overturning Roe.

But this is what the Republican Party stands for. This is why Donald Trump became the nominee. This is why he retains so much support in the base of the Republican Party because he will nominate justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade. I think it's as simple as that.

HARLOW: And, Douglas, the decision that Democrats have to make overall is, do we as a party in the Senate stay united, 49 in opposition of the president's pick or do - and then, that helps us long-term potentially down the road with a court with someone who could be on bench for four decades or do the red state Democrats pull off and do they vote yes like they did for Gorsuch and does that help them then potentially take control of the Senate in the midterms? It's a tough decision.

BRINKLEY: Very tough decision. And it's going to be a circus in the fall. We're heading right into the midterm elections. This is going to be a televised hearing of the Supreme Court nominee getting drilled. Who holds up best on TV under that? Is it Hardiman? Is it Kavanaugh? I think that matters.

I think for - the Democrats have to decide, let's say, it's Amy Coney Barrett. Are they going to - are you going to have a - Donald Trump loves reality TV. Is he going to try to pit Barrett versus Elizabeth Warren or something in a kind of spectacle of who really represents the women's movement?

[09:25:00] I also wouldn't rule out geography a little bit in this. I mean, Hardiman is from Pennsylvania. That's a crucial state for Donald Trump. And they are floating his name really, I think, this morning to the top of the list. They may feel he's unimpeachable, like Gorsuch. He will be able to maybe pick up a couple of more conservative Democratic senators and kind of break that solid blue line you're talking about.

HARLOW: And you've got Kethledge from Michigan and, wow, some of them are quite young and could be on the bench for a long time. As you mentioned, Amy Coney Barrett, 46 years old; Kethledge, 51.

All right, gentlemen. Thank you, Douglas Brinkley. Thank you, Jeff Toobin. Stick around, we have more news that we need your help on right after this because one day after Rudy Giuliani tells Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer, to tell the truth to prosecutor, Cohen's attorney Lanny Davis is now firing back this morning. He says Trump and Giuliani next to the word truth is an oxymoron.