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Report: Hours Away Trump Will Pick Supreme Court Nominee; Cohen Sending Message to Trump; Eighth Boy Pulled Alive from Thai Cave. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 9, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me on this Monday. We're hours away from a decision by the ages by President Trump. His nominee to replace retiring Supreme Court justice Anthony Kennedy.

That choice will happen at 9:00 eastern time this evening and no matter who is named, conservatives will finally get the clear edge that alluded them for decades. A 5-4 majority on the highest court in the land. The finalists include three men and one woman with the newest contender Pennsylvania jurist Thomas Hardiman really coming into the picture in the final hours. Hardiman was runner up to the president's first Supreme Court justice nominee originally, Justice Neil Gorsuch. But just like the others, Hardiman will face opposition for most Senate Democrats. That's because there's all kinds of fear out there that the president's choice may undermine both Roe V. Wade and Obamacare, according to a top party source.

The president's Supreme Court pick kicks off a huge week ahead for him. So, after he shapes the court's future tonight, President Trump moves on to critical meetings with NATO, the British prime minister and Vladimir Putin. Let's go straight to the White House to our chief correspondent there Jim Acosta. On the pick, we heard the front runner has been changing by the hour. What are you hearing right now?

JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: I think that's right. Although it seems that a lot of the focus has been zeroing in on Brett Kavanaugh and Thomas Hardiman in the last hours before the pick is unveiled later this evening. You don't want to handicap things too much because the president has the flare for the dramatic to put things mildly. One thing we can point out I can tell you from talking to a source familiar with the process in the last few hours the Trump Supreme Court team is very interested in some writing that Brett Kavanaugh did back in the mid-2000s about whether or not a sitting president can be indicted.

Brett Kavanaugh said this in an article that he wrote for the University of Minnesota law school. Quote, "The indictment and trial of a sitting president would cripple the federal government rendering it unable with credibility in the international or domestic arenas." That from an article written by Brett Kavanaugh who is a judge in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. Obviously, there's this cloud hanging over this presidency with the Mueller investigation and Russia investigation. That is an article that grabbed their attention. Partly because Brett Kavanaugh if you go back to 2000 campaign and even before that he worked with Ken Starr, the special prosecutor in the Whitewater investigation.

All that interesting to the President's Supreme court team. At the same time, we b should point out Thomas Hardiman, who is one of the other finalists you mentioned. That person is somebody that the president has been saying privately he's interested in. He's also somebody who is working with the president's sister on the court up in Pennsylvania. So, he also has a sort of up from the boot straps story that the president's supreme court team likes very much.

So, Thomas Hardiman was also, by the way, one of the finalists last time around when the president replaces Scalia. There's so many ways to slice this up, but it looks like a lot of the attention is focused on those two justices in the final hours here. As you know, social conservatives like Amy Barrett very much. And Kethledge has remained in the running up until the final hours. So, the president, as he often does, likes to turn things into reality tv and this being scheduled for prime time tonight we should expect the atmosphere to be just like that when we gather later this evening to hear the president's pick.

BALDWIN: Keep us guessing until 9:00 this evening. Thank you so much on that. Let's get to President Trump's former fixer Michael Cohen. Sources tell CNN he's sending a message to the president about his commitment to the real truth. Cohen's lawyer is firing back at president Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani after he said Cohen should cooperate with federal prosecutors. Here's what Giuliani told Dana Bash yesterday morning.


[14:05:00] RUDY GIULIANI, PERSONAL ATTORNEY FOR DONALD TRUMP: I don't know what he has to flip. There's no evidence of wrong doing with president Trump. So, we're comfortable if he believes it's in his interest to cooperate, he should. The man has been horribly treated by the people he's going to cooperate with, but sometimes you have no other choice. I don't expect he's going to lie. I think he's going to tell the truth as best he can give his recollection.


BALDWIN: So, Cohen's new attorney who goes back to the Clinton days. Lanny Davis tweets, did Rudy Giuliani that he should cooperate with prosecutors and tell the truth? Seriously? Is that Trump and Giuliani's definition of truth? Trump/Giuliani next to the words truth equals oxymoron. Stay tuned #thetruthmatters.

Dana is with me now. She's CNN's chief political correspondent. You have Rudy Giuliani and you have the Lanny Davis reaction, now you have Giuliani --


BALDWIN: Now you have the Giuliani reaction to that. What did he say?

BASH: He responded directly. I sent him Lanny Davis' tweet and he responded by text saying the following. "The truth will set you free. The president did nothing wrong with Michael Cohen. Everything has been a dead end because there's nothing there."

So, this fit for tat is going on here. The important thing to note as we go back and forth on who might know something, who might not know something, what's the truth, so on and so forth, this is Michael Cohen we're talking about. And Michael Cohen was up until, I don't know, what time is it, an hour ago, was about as close as you can get to Donald Trump from his perspective. He absolutely adored Donald Trump. Said publicly he would do anything for Donald Trump. And did a lot of things for him.

And the fact that we are at this level of criticism kind of going back and forth through us about what the other should think about and talk about or maybe not think about or talk about with the feds is really remarkable to see how far we have come and to see more specifically where Michael Cohen has gone. Now I will say that Gloria Borger has been talking to sources familiar with Michael Cohen's thinking. She was told that he believes that it's actually Giuliani and the president who are trying to send the messages to him. Trying to send messages, OK, you know the line here. Let's tow the line and everything is going to be fine. That's his perspective how he reads it. And but at the same time, he's trying to send his own messages, which came first, ween don't know. The key question here that we don't know the answer to is aside from all of this back and torte and the frame of this relationship does Michael Cohen know what he's saying about Donald Trump that he could flip with. Giuliani insists the answer to that is no. The Cohen team is being coy.

BALDWIN: That is the question. Dana, thank you. More news out of your interview. Let me get to that in the Sunday media blitz. The president's attorney also blurted out some major contradictions to his client's own statements. Giuliani seemingly confirming an essential piece for this case for obstruction of justice whether or not the president asked James Comey to drop the investigation into former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He didn't direct him to do that.

GIULIANI: What he said to him was can you --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Comey says he took it as direction.

GIULIANI: That's OK, taking it that way. By that time, he had been fired. He said a lot of other things, some of which have turned out to be untrue. The reality as a prosecutor, I was told that many times. Can you give the man a break either by his lawyers or relatives, by friends? You take that into consideration, but that doesn't determine not going forward with it.


BALDWIN: And here is the president's response to that very same question. This was back in May of 2017.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Did you at any time urge former FBI Director James Comey in any way, shape or form to close or back down the investigation into Michael Flynn?



[14:10:00] BALDWIN: Let's start there. With me now, Solomon Wisenberg is a former deputy independent counsel in the Clinton era, whitewater and Monica Lewinsky investigation. So welcome back, good to see you.


BALDWIN: Let's start right there on that bit from Giuliani and his assertion. Can you give Flynn a break? Is that still considered obstruction?

WISENBERG: Well, I don't think it's obstruction under any stretch of the imagination. However, because you know my view, the president has the right to

order the investigation closed. He has the right whether he said it or not, I don't know, he has the right to say to Comey, can you give the guy a break. However, Rudy Giuliani is the president's attorney and attorneys who purport to speak for their clients can end up making attorney admissions.

So, if Rudy Giuliani makes statements inconsistent with the president or inconsistent with his own statements as he has done, that could end up conceivably haunting the president. We just don't know. I don't think this particular thing was a big deal. As listen, he didn't flat out say that the president actually said this to Comey. He simply seemed to assume what the question or asked about that. I don't think it's a big deal. I think the much bigger deal is Giuliani's statements about what he would require before sending the president in for an interview with Mueller.

BALDWIN: Before we even get to that it, I wanted to ask about the conversation I was having with Dana Bash. She had Giuliani on yesterday talking about the truth, talking about Michael Cohen and how, hey, he should speak the truth. If that's the case, we're home free. This back and forth now between Cohen's attorney and the Giuliani response. Does it seem to you that Michael Cohen has agreed to cooperate, to tell his truth?

WISENBERG: That's impossible to say, but what the statement by Lanny Davis means to me, and I think all you can say about it, is that Michael Cohen is very worried. And is under a lot of pressure and must have a lot of exposure for him to go public like this.

BALDWIN: How do you mean? WISENBERG: Well, he seems to be sending a signal that he wants

assurance from the president that he will be taken care of down the line, will be defended or pardoned or something like that. That's something that obviously it isn't wise for the president to say, but why is he doing that now in such an almost desperate way? And I'm very careful about speculating here, but it's impossible for me to think -- to me, the only conclusion is that he's got a lot of exposure. What we in the white-collar defense field call criminal exposure and he's worried about what's going to happen to him. So, he's sending an SOS to the president and his team.

BALDWIN: Got it. And lastly to what you said you found most note worthy in those interviews, Giuliani's comments on the potential Mueller interview, go ahead.

WISENBERG: I have been critical of a lot of the tactics of Giuliani since he came into the picture. Here he's doing something very intelligent. He's setting all of these preconditions for a Mueller interview. We have to know their case is strong. We have to know why they can't get this from somebody else. But if Mueller goes into court and says enough is enough ask. Issues a subpoena and president Trump decides to take him to court on that, Mueller is going to have to say something very similar to a court. There's a case sitting out there in the DC circuit from 1997. It's the Mike Espy case. And the DC circuit said before you can subpoena -- you can subpoena privileged materials from the president and the president. But if the president claims executive privilege or communications or something like that, the prosecutor has to come in and explain why this evidence is important and he has to do it with specificity and why he can't get that evidence from another source.

[14:15:00] BALDWIN: You're saying that's what Mueller would have to do?

WISENBERG: He would have to do it. Then the president's people could make all kinds of arguments. For example, they could say, wait a minute, if his theory is obstruction of justice based on firing Comey, that's an invalid theory to begin with. That could be in court for a long time. To me, the fact that Mueller hasn't issued the subpoena is and gone into court indicates he's not that sure of his position if push came to shove.

BALDWIN: Something to look forward to.

WISENBERG: Sorry, go ahead.

BALDWIN: No, no. Something to look for and interesting your point about Cohen's SOS. We'll talk again. Thank you so much, sir. I appreciate your knowledge on all of this. Let's move on to the breaking news out of Thailand. Eight boys have now been pulled out alive from that cave. But there are still more who are trapped as the heavy rains move in. We'll take you there.

Plus are the president's talks with North Korea on the verge of collapsing? As the regime calls the U.S. "gangster like," the president puts the blame on someone else. Just in the Trump administration telling a judge whether it will meet

a deadline to reunite some of the separated families. Hear what just happened in court. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: We are back. Fear and worry in Thailand now starting to give way to et relief and jubilation and more than two weeks now a sense of hope. Eight boys finally have been rescued from the cave following two days of evacuations. Freeing these final four boys and that 25-year-old coach remains a critical undertaking. The good news about this latest effort the weather has cooperated. Water levels remain low. Tom Foreman is here to take us inside the rescue operation and show us the method used to pull the boys out. Tom, the floor is yours.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This has been miraculous. You think about these divers, this key team here. They have cut a trip taking them 11 hours to go in and back out two and a half miles, they have cut it down to nine hours now. That's been key here. And their method has been key too. There's been 18 key divers from various places around the world who have contributed to the effort. They have devised a system where each boy is put into a wet suit, a full-face mask and then he is tethered to the front diver here who also carries an air supply for both of them. They are following a line in and out to make sure no one gets lost and another professional diver comes right behind to keep everybody contained.

But they are taking these young men through an extraordinarily hostile environment. Et we don't have exact mapping of the cave, but by some accounts a quarter of it still remains fully submerge d in water. That's the equivalent of 11 football fields. We don't know if it's in one place or further out there, but that's a long way to take anyone underwater. Bear in mind in some places we're still talking about openings that are described as no bigger than a single human being. And yet for all of that, we started the weekend with everybody inside there and all these stretches in between ask now we have most of the people outside. We use heroic all the time. Sometimes I don't think we should. In this case, it absolutely applies.

BALDWIN: Amen to that. The visuals have been amazing and helping us understand what they are up against. 11 football fields and that's just a portion of it. So now they have hit pause. They are refilling the oxygen tanks. Do they get back at it quickly or what?

FOREMAN: Yes, it looks like they are going to dive right back in as quickly as they can. Because of the issue of the water. You mentioned earlier that there's been a little bit of a lull here. That's helped, and they have been pumping furiously more than 400,000 gallons per hour at one point. That's what allowed them to lower the wet level enough that in some cases much of the cave they can walk through even if they are wading through the water with the boys. But if the rains come back in earnest, there's no real signs that the pumps can keep up with that. That's why as tired as everyone is and dangerous as it remains, it's clearly a push to get it done and get the last kids o out. BALDWIN: Tom, thank you so much. Stay on this. Paul Sumner is

joining me, a cave diver and retired firefighter, paramedic with Miami Beach Fire and Rescue. So, Paul, thanks for being with me. I have been wondering. Is it the healthier boys they are pulling out first? Or is it the weaker? It's the healthier that they are getting out first. What do you think the strategy is in doing that?

PAUL SUMNER, PARAMEDIC WITH MIAMI BEACH FIRE AND RESCUE: Well, this is all new territory for me. The rescue work that emergency services would entail more than likely we're dealing with somebody that's totally incapacitated.

[14:25:00] So the fact that we have 12 or 13 individuals alive and somewhat healthy, that's a huge plus to this operation. And now we are down to just

five. I'm not really sure if it's a difficult call as to why pull the healthier ones first? Possibly thinking the belief might have been that perhaps they've got the wherewithal to withstand some of the anxiety level that they are going to get in this operation.

BALDWIN: Part of what I read, the divers are less familiar so to take the stronger boys first and helps morale. The word is getting back to the weaker boys. These guys got out. Here's my next question. The weather so far has cooperated. But if heavy rains move in before these final boys are able to get out, how does that affect the rescue and the diving especially since we're talking about the weaker boys to remain.

SUMNER: Again, a tough question. This is outside the norm of cave diving. Usually the cave systems that a cave us diver is trained in is not typically -- this type of cave was I'm trying to think of the right term. This is a cave that you're in the air, you're hiking through and crawling through. And the addition of the water has added a tremendous difficulty factor to this. Normal cave diving you're expecting to be flooded. You're in the water all the time. So, to suddenly turn the tables and be in a dry cave and have it flooded with murky muddy water and try to remove those individuals, this is an incredibly difficult task at best. And with more rain on the way, I've got to believe they have been successful with eight and are going to give it their best shot to get the last five out before things get worse.

BALDWIN: For boys to go and the coach. We're all watching so closely. Paul, thank you so much for your expertise.

SUMNER: My pleasure. If I may just a second.

BALDWIN: Please, sir.

SUMNER: To Tom Foreman's comment about the difficulty and the navy SEALS. As a tribute to the sergeant that was lost, I believe probably in very quick order the powers to be took that and looked at what occurred and utilized that on his behalf to make this rescue happen. So, our sympathies for the loss of a great warrior that volunteered to take on a difficult mission.

BALDWIN: I second that. Paul, thank you so much. We'll have more on this next hour as we get updates.

The Trump administration revealing in court whether it intends to meet a deadline to reunite separated families. We'll tell you exactly what happened.

And we have heard President Trump take Vladimir Putin's word for it and now the president says he's confident in Kim Jong-Un. Despite North Korea with some pretty tough rhetoric over the weekend as the fate of the nuclear talks remains in serious question. Standby.