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Fifth Boy Rescued from Thai Cave; Trump Reportedly Still Deliberating Supreme Court Selection Ahead of Tonight's Announcement; Giuliani: Mueller Team Must Show Suspicion of Crime for Trump Interview. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 9, 2018 - 07:00   ET


ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: We begin with our breaking news coverage with Ivan Watson, who is in Thailand -- Ivan.


That's right. Within the last hour and forty minutes, CNN has learned that a fifth boy was rescued from deep inside the mountain and the cave system behind me. A rescue worker at the mouth of the cave saw the boy brought out on a stretcher. He was treated at the mouth of the cave, and then transported by ambulance and then by military chopper to a hospital where my colleague, Matt Rivers, is now located.

Now, the rescue operation has been underway here since about 11 a.m. this morning. So it's about seven hours it's been taking place now. There was success on Sunday evening when four other boys were brought out.

This is a difficult and dangerous procedure. It involves some 90 people, including 13 foreign divers and around five Thai divers. The U.S. military has sent assets here, a search and rescue team, as well, to assist in this effort.

But we do know that one former Thai navy SEAL died trying to bring help to some of the boys last week. So it just underscores how delicate this is.

We know that the boys that were successfully brought out were brought out with full face masks so that they could have air over their whole faces. These kids are going through an a arduous journey. It's tight. It is deep, and it is very hard to see.

But there's some positive news. It has not been rainy today. There was a forecast of downpours, and the lack of rain means less moisture, less water going into the cave system, meaning in some places, the boys have actually been able to walk in just a few inches of water to reach safety.

And we'll bring you just -- the news just as soon as we hear about more possible rescues that the authorities are suggesting might be coming in the coming hours.

BERMAN: Appreciate it. Ivan Watson for us. Again, in Thailand.

If the pattern does hold from yesterday, we could see a sixth or a seventh or perhaps an eighth child pulled from that cave in the next few hours. So we're watching that very carefully.

In the meantime, the fifth boy, the one who was pulled out this morning, has now arrived at the hospital. CNN's Matt Rivers is there with the very latest -- Matt.

MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, John, it was within the last 20 minutes or so that we saw a small convoy of four vehicles, including the ambulance, carrying that fifth boy pass right down this road behind me, going right to the hospital there, dropping the boy off at the emergency room, exactly as they had done with the first four boys yesterday.

So there is a pattern here being followed. The chopper landing at an airport south from here and then the ambulance bringing the boy the final way.

He now joins his four teammates in a special isolation ward on the eighth flood of that hospital. Basically, we know that's a sterilized area. And what authorities are telling us is they're doing that out of an abundance of caution, to make sure that if their immune systems, if they're weakened, they're not infected by anything here above ground after spending so long down in that cave.

Even if they're parents can come visit them. We're not clear that the parents are even told which boys have been brought out yet. But even if parents are told and they want to come visit them, they have to wear special suits. And they can't get within two meters of the boys for at least one to two days while they remain in isolation.

And then after that, we know that they're going to be held under observation for at least five to seven days to make sure that they can properly recover after what has been an unbelievably horrific ordeal for them. The hope here, amongst everyone you talk to, medical personnel, first responders, police that are just patrolling the streets, that the beds that are open in that isolation ward fill up with more patients soon as rescues continue.

All right. Matt Rivers for us at that hospital in northern Thailand. Again, a dramatic morning so far. The news has been all good, a fifth child rescued from that cave. We're watching very carefully to see if more are pulled out. Again, yesterday there were four. So the expectation is we could see more shortly.

Joining us now, an experienced cave rescuer, Michael McDonald; and the CNN chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Michael, we're watching this. Again, it was an hour and a half ago that the fifth child was pulled from that cave. I assume the expectation is we should very shortly see more, if all is going well.

MICHAEL MCDONALD, EXPERIENCED CAVE RESCUER: That is correct, yes. Now they're on a roll, and they have continuity. They'll want to do as much as they can with all available facilities. So it's more of the same. And the rescuers will want to keep on going and bring as many as they can out in one operation. They don't want this to drag on for much longer, hopefully. So more of the same, keep on going.

HILL: Sanjay, we have heard initially there was some reporting that the healthiest -- obviously, a doctor was making the decision, we were told, about who would be brought out first. But Sanjay, the reporting was the four who came out first may have been among the healthiest, which is sort of counterintuitive to what many people would think. But that could actually give them a better sense of what they need to do, right, Sanjay? And so it's maybe better to bring the healthy kids out first?

[07:05:0] DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this is -- this is a judgment call certainly being made at the time and taking all these factors into play.

But you're absolutely right, Erica. I think medical triage, you know, if you think about most sort of medical triage situations, you'd take what you're concerned about first, because they needed to every time they make a rescue, they're probably learning more information, figuring out how to do things in a more streamlined fashion.

Maybe they figured the first time that they did the rescue with the four healthiest boys, they would not only have a higher chance of success but also learn more that would increase the level of success for the rest of the boys. That's my guess. It is a big counterintuitive but perhaps makes sense with this type of pretty extraordinary rescue.

BERMAN: And Michael, if you are starting to get to some of these kids who might not be as healthy, if they did take the strongest ones out first, how will that complicate the rescue efforts?

MCDONALD: Not at all. I think the decision to take out the healthiest first was the correct one, because it builds morale. If you can get the strongest out first, four or five of them, then that increases moral, and the news will get back to the boys, stood in the antechamber and gives them a -- gives them a great boost. So I think it was definitely the correct decision in this particular case.

Normally, of course, the weakest or the injured are brought out first, but I think in this case to bring out the healthiest first was definitely the right decision, because it raised morale greatly.

HILL: Michael, we just heard from Ivan Watson on the ground that, in some areas, it sounds like, the kids could actually stand and walk through a little bit of water, which is important.

Just remind our viewers who may just be tuning in, waking up to this news, just how difficult it is to get through this -- what is it, four kilometers, two and a half miles in there. And this is not just a straight shot to come out, Michael?

MCDONALD: No, I think apart from a few places, most of the cave is actually quite large. So I think the boys would be -- would be relieved to get out of the water and stand on their own two feet and walk for a while. Give them a bit of exercise and a bit of morale, as well. They're in a familiar situation, of course, walking in air, and in an open space. So I think the fact that there is open passageway is a great benefit to them. It means they can get out of the water, have a rest, recuperate, and then go on to the operation.

BERMAN: Sanjay, the fifth child now arrived at the hospital. Walk us through the process of treating them. What are the priorities?

GUPTA: At the -- at the cave entrance itself, some decisions are made medically. You know, basic medical decisions: ABC, airway, breathing, circulation. Are the boys breathing OK? Is there any indication their blood pressure has dropped, maybe because of dehydration? Is there any trauma? These types of decisions basically dictate whether -- how quickly the boys need to get to a hospital. By air, by ambulance, whatever it may be.

Once they get to the hospital, as you might guess, hypothermia, dehydration, malnutrition, all of that in terms of their bodies will need to be addressed. Again, any trauma. And then the concern about could they have been exposed to some infectious agent in the cave, such as histoplasmosis. That is something that people who spelunk caves are familiar with. But basically, it's these spores that can get into your lungs and cause disease.

Were the boys' immune seasons weakened as a result of a couple of weeks being in this cave? That's what the isolation and the quarantine is really all about.

But recovering their bodies physically is something that they know how to do, they've been preparing to do. They've looked at the time line of how long these boys have been in the cave, from June 23 to July 2 before they were actually discovered alive. After that, they started to get food and supplies. Doctors and nurses look at that time line, as well, to try and be predictive about what kind of shape these boys are going to be in.

And keep in mind, again, John, that they did get a -- there is a doctor who assesses them in the cave before the rescue begins. So they have another piece of data there in terms of what kind of shape the boys will be in.

BERMAN: John Avlon here with us, as well.

BERMAN: Michael, presumably the coach will be the last person pulled out of the cave by rescue. But I wonder, given that the first four boys were taken first. Then you had a refueling period. Can we expect that that will be the cadence going forward? That there's a fifth child now out, six, seventh, eighth, then another break? Or could they try to get all the boys out of the cave at this critical period?

MCDONALD: I think that they will try and get them all out in one operation if they can. As far as I understand it, the break in operations yesterday was due to the need to refuel tanks and to fill tanks. But hopefully, they would have rectified that sort of slight hitch and got more tanks in so they can keep on going and bring them all out in one. I don't think they'll want another break if they can possibly avoid it.

BERMAN: The rain is coming, although they are limited by how many tanks perhaps fit in those tunnels and caves right now. They're stretched to, I think the full extreme of their limits.

[07:10:02] Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Michael McDonald, thanks so much for being with us. Again we're watching this throughout the morning. That fifth child has arrived at the hospital. We're watching very closely to see if more emerge from that cave.

HILL: We'll bring you that as you have it.

Meantime, back here at home, President Trump poised to make one of the most consequential decisions of his presidency, when he announces his pick for Supreme Court tonight. He's turning this into a primetime television event. The president says he hasn't yet made a decision. The list, though, is narrowed to four finalists.

CNN's Abby Phillip joins us now live from the White House with more.


It is going to be a major week here for President Trump. He is on the verge of announcing his second Supreme Court pick tonight at prime- time here at the White House. But upon returning to the White House last night from Bedminster, New Jersey, where he spent the weekend, the president said he hasn't even yet made a decision.


DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very close to making a decision. I have not made it official yet, obviously. Have not made it final.

PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump teasing tonight's primetime Supreme Court announcement after some last-minute, behind-the-scenes jockeying at his New Jersey golf club.

TRUMP: Let's say it's the four people, but they're excellent, everyone. You can't go wrong.

PHILLIPS: Republicans praising the four leading candidates who, sources say, include federal appeals court judges Brett Kavanaugh, Amy Coney Barrett, Raymond Kethledge, and Thomas Hardiman, the runner-up to President Trump's first pick to the high court.

SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Republicans are holding four lottery tickets, and all of them are winners.

PHILLIP: Sources tell CNN that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been urging President Trump to choose either Kethledge or Hardiman, who he feels will have the best odds of getting confirmed quickly in this crucial midterm year. SEN. ROY BLUNT (R), MISSOURI: I think the president has to think

about who is the easiest to get confirmed here.

PHILLIP: Democrats vowing to stonewall any nominee who would seek to overturn rulings protecting minority rights.

SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D), CONNECTICUT: I've never seen a president of the United States, in effect, make himself a puppet of outside groups and choose from a group of right-wing, fringe ideologues.

PHILLIP: But blocking the appointment will be near impossible for Democrats. The Senate only needs 50 votes to confirm a Supreme Court nominee, meaning that if all but one Republican vote along party lines, they will not need any Democratic support.

Three Democrats voted in favor of President Trump's first nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch, and newly-elected red state Democrat, Senator Doug Jones, signaled he plans to vote independent of party.

SEN. DOUG JONES (D), ALABAMA: I don't think my role is a rubber stamp for the president, but it's also not an automatic knee jerk "no," either.

PHILLIP: This as the Trump administration struggles to reunited the youngest children separated from their parents at the border before Tuesday's deadline. The administration requesting more time and releasing a list of roughly 100 kids under the age of 5 to the American Civil Liberties Union. Government officials say they still need to track down dozens of parents who are no longer in custody, including 19 who were already deported.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vote you out! Vote you out!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vote you out! Vote you out!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vote you out! Vote you out!

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Where are the babies, Mitch? Where are the babies, Mitch?

PHILLIP: Protestors confronting McConnell about the separated children as he left a Kentucky restaurant Saturday.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What are you doing to give the babies back?


PHILLIP: Well, these two issues are at the top of the agenda for President Trump, but it's just the beginning of what will be a pretty long week for the president. He's leaving tomorrow for Brussels, Belgium, for a NATO conference with European leaders. Then on Thursday, he heads to the U.K. to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and the queen, followed by a trip to Scotland to visit his golf courses and then on to Helsinki for that crucial meeting with Vladimir Putin.

So President Trump has a lot on his plate. He's trying to get the Supreme Court decision done before he heads out of here, John.

HILL: The countdown is on. Abby, thank you.

So who are the final four? What do we know about them? What are their chances? That's next.


[07:17:54] HILL: President Trump will announce his pick for the Supreme Court tonight. The president says it is now down to four finalists. Let's bring in CNN chief legal analyst, former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Toobin; and CNN political analyst David Gregory.

The reality show plays out tonight, 9 p.m. Eastern. We will, of course, have full coverage here. As we work up to this, though, the president keeping this very close to the vest. And yet we know there has been a significant amount -- perhaps not surprisingly -- of lobbying from a number of lawmakers to get the president's ear here.

And one of the things we're hearing is that Mitch McConnell is saying your best bet would be the path of least resistance, Jeffrey Toobin. What do you think the chances are that the president actually goes that route?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, I think it is possible, because he does not have much -- much of a margin. I think that argues against Amy Barrett as a nominee. She is very young, very untested. Very conservative in the views that we know she has, although her views are not known on a lot of subjects. I think she presents the most realistic possibility of being defeated as -- as a nominee.

The other three, I think, all have very good chances of being nominees. I think their similarities are a lot bigger than their differences. They are all very conservative. They are all likely to vote to overturn abortion rights, gay rights in many situations. So I think their similarities are more important than their differences.

But you have Brett Kavanaugh, who's been a very distinguished, very conservative federal appeals court judge for more than a decade. On one hand you have Thomas Hardiman. On the other hand, who is a much lesser known, much less intellectually distinguished judge, certainly someone who is highly competent, but they are very different in their -- in their qualifications, with Kethledge somewhere in the middle.

But in terms of how they will actually vote, I think there are very few differences among all four.

BERMAN: Hardiman seems to be making a late surge, David Gregory, if you pay attention to all the reporting that's been coming out over the weekend. Hardiman was the runner-up to Neil Gorsuch last time around. Hardiman also served on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals with the president's sister.

[07:20:07] DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And if we believe that, in fact, the president has not already made up his mind, and this is about theatrics --

BERMAN: That's a great point.


HILL: Yes.

GREGORY: It would -- but it would say something about how this president likes to operate. He does like to talk to a lot of outsiders outside of the White House to get their views, and he is subject to being lobbied on these kinds of decisions, particularly around Hardiman, who's got a good biography. A little bit more hardscrabble than the establishment, you know, judicial monastery as some call it, of Kavanaugh and the others, with, you know, high educational achievement and the kind of pedigree. And in the case of Brett Kavanaugh, somebody who's been working within Washington for so many years to position himself to be where he is now, which is the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, which is really a feeder into the Supreme Court.

And so I think the president looks at all of that. I think he -- he wants to, you know, gel with somebody. He understands that this is a decision that really does play for a legacy here, but he's also thinking about how he can argue this case throughout the summer to try to impact the midterm vote.

So he's got a lot of these different calculations, but I think what's been interesting, if you look at the Gorsuch nomination, is how by the book this president treated this decision, with input from the conservative intellectuals who, you know, argue in the Federalist Society and elsewhere for who's really next up and who should get this position. He hewed very closely to that with Neil Gorsuch and, I think, will probably do the same here.

AVLON: Yes, I mean, a lot more than input. I mean, this is basically an outsourced process, but it has served him very well politically in terms of shoring up his base.

And so then the question becomes outside the pageantry and the reality show theatrics of this, does he go back to that playbook wholesale? Is he in the mood to gamble and go for a more central casting candidate like Amy Coney Barrett, who could have a real time. And the fact that McConnell is trying to push him towards more confirmable conservatives is itself -- is itself fascinating.

GREGORY: And it's interesting that McConnell would actually be arguing, if it's true, against Brett Kavanaugh because of his lengthy paper trail.

AVLON: Right.

GREGORY: You know, "The Wall Street Journal" argues this morning on their editorial page, you know, that could be controlled how much time that actually takes.

I think what's important -- and Jeffrey has talked about this before -- we talked so much about the social issues of abortion and gay rights. But, you know, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals occupies most of its time with questions around the administrative state and the role of government with regard to regulation. That's something that conservatives care about a lot. And they've got a reliable conservative in Brett Kavanaugh on those issues.

BERMAN: Jeffrey.

TOOBIN: Well, and you just have to remember how extensive the conservative agenda is here for -- for the Supreme Court. It's not just rolling back abortion rights. It's not just rolling back gay rights. It's not just eliminating affirmative action. It's not just expanding the death penalty.

It's limiting the power of government to regulate at all. It's basically taking what the conservatives did to Obamacare and do it to every law that Congress passes, whether it's environmental laws or labor protection laws. Basically, using the courts to squeeze the rights of individuals and the rights of the government to regulate corporations, to limit that more and more. All of that is on the table there.

And the reason -- I mean, just to refresh everyone's memory, the reason why this seat is so much more important than the Gorsuch or Scalia seat, is that Justice Scalia was already very conservative. So it didn't change the makeup of the court very well.

Anthony Kennedy was likely -- was a usual Republican vote, but on a number of important issues: gay rights, abortion rights, he was with the liberals. So the replacement of Kennedy in a five-to-four court is immensely, immensely significant.

GREGORY: There was immense disappointment, right, on the right? The legacy of Kennedy is one that conservatives are really sitting with with great distaste.

BERMAN: Let me -- I want to shift if I can. I want to shift, if I can to the other story I want to cover with you guys, and I think there is a tie here, which is the president, in perhaps his own defense here in the investigation surrounding the president, because this next Supreme Court justice could have to rule on the various questions dealing with the investigation right now. Namely, will Robert Mueller subpoena the president? Will he try to force the president to sit down for an interview.

And I want to listen to what Rudy Giuliani, the president's personal lawyer, was saying over the weekend. Essentially, saying, "It's not going to happen. I'm setting bar so high here that it's almost impossible the president will sit down." Let's listen.


GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, ABC NEWS: The joint defense agreement that Cohen had with the president's legal team, that is no longer operable?

RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER FOR DONALD TRUMP: I'm not really allowed to talk about that, but it wouldn't matter whether it was or it wasn't. We think we need everything we need to know at this point.

STEPHANOPOULOS: And the president's legal defense fund is no longer paying Michael Cohen's legal bills?

GIULIANI: Again, that's not something I'm allowed to comment on, but it wouldn't matter one way or the other.

[07:25:05] We want -- we want Michael to handle this in the way that's most helpful to him. Michael's not going to lie. He's going to tell the truth. As long as he does that, we have nothing to fear.


GIULIANI: He didn't direct him to do that. What he said to him was, "Can you --"

STEPHANOPOULOS: Comey says he took it as direction.

GIULIANI: Well, that's OK. I mean, taken it that way. 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 --


BERMAN: Jeffrey, what I wanted you to hear was Rudy Giuliani over the weekend basically saying that the president's not going to sit down unless you have facts that prove a crime here. He's trying to back off and saying, "No, no, I'm not saying that, but you have to have a real case here."

Does Rudy Giuliani have any grounding in the actual law here when he's saying that that's the basis with which the president would sit down?

TOOBIN: No, that's not the law of grand jury subpoenas. The law of grand jury subpoenas is that prosecutors have a great deal of latitude in asking for -- in asking for people to -- not asking for it, demanding people to testify before the grand jury.

Yes, it's true the president is in a different position constitutionally than -- than an ordinary witness, but in terms of proving that a crime had already taken place, I'm unaware of any case, any principle, any precedent that says that there is that high a bar to ask for the president's testimony. And it looks like that could lead to a lengthy court fight that may well wind up in the Supreme Court.

BERMAN: And it's Mueller's choice here, because it really does seem to me like Rudy Giuliani is saying, "It's not going to happen. If you want this to happen, you've got to force it."

And then Mueller's got to make a choice, Jeffrey. Correct?

TOOBIN: Mueller has got to make a choice of whether to subpoena him. And then the president has to make a choice about whether he wants to short-circuit the whole process and take the Fifth which -- which he could very well do. AVLON: Sure.

TOOBIN: It would be embarrassing. I would be a bad -- a bad couple days news story. But if there's one thing we've learned about the Trump presidency, is that no news changes his real approval rating. So if he were to take the fifth, I don't think it would make that much of a difference.

BERMAN: The guttural laugh of David Gregory there, signifying verification of Jeffrey Toobin's point.

All right, guys, thank you very much.

Coming up in our next hour, we're going to speak with President Trump's top Supreme Court advisor, Leonard Leo, with the Federalist Society, about the process and if he knows whether or not a decision has been made. Because he is someone who would know.

HILL: He would certainly know.

Also ahead, will the U.S. government meet the deadline tomorrow? This is the deadline for the youngest of the children, after 100 of them, who have been separated from their parents, kids under the age of 5. A deadline for them to be reunited. We'll ask a GOP lawmaker next.