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EARLY START

Trump Nominates Brett Kavanaugh for Supreme Court; Operation to Rescue Remaining 4 Boys & Coach from Cave in Thailand Begins Today; Theresa May's Government in Crisis Ahead of Trump Visit. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired July 10, 2018 - 04:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[04:00:12] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

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CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN ANCHOR: Brett Kavanaugh is the president's choice for the Supreme Court. Who is he? What is his legal background? And can Democrats stand in his way?

DAVE BRIGGS, CNN ANCHOR: The administration will miss today's deadline to reunite all migrant families with kids under 5. Now a judge says the government cannot extend how long it hold it can hold migrant children.

ROMANS: And right now in Thailand, rescue crews racing to bring out the last boys trapped inside that cave. Four boys and their coach are still in. Two successful mornings there, evenings there, rescues there.

BRIGGS: Yes.

ROMANS: We are hopeful the last boys will come out this morning.

BRIGGS: They are confident that they will come out and their coach. But if you look at it, these could be the weakest of the group because they started with the strongest, if you reverse engineer that.

ROMANS: Good morning. And welcome to EARLY START. I'm Christine Romans.

BRIGGS: I'm Dave Briggs. It is Tuesday, July 10th. It's 3:00 p.m. in Thailand, we'll go there shortly, and 4:00 a.m. in the east.

We begin with the Supreme Court pick. The left and the right preparing for battle now that we know President Trump's nominee to replace Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Appeals court judge, Brett Kavanaugh, introduced by the president last night. Those close to the selection process say the president was encouraged by the key conservatives who recently came to Kavanaugh's defense, Ann Coulter, Laura Ingraham, and writers for "Breitbart." ROMANS: After the announcement, the nomination fight was instantly

under way. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer issued this statement within seconds, "President Trump has put reproductive rights and freedom and health care protections for millions of Americans on the judicial chopping block."

Kavanaugh himself tried to ease concerns.

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BRETT KAVANAUGH, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: My judicial philosophy is straight forward. A judge must be independent and must interpret the law, not make the law. A judge must interpret statues as written. And a judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.

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ROMANS: Vice President Mike Pence kicks off the White House campaign to pressure red-state Democrats into supporting Kavanaugh. Pence also said to accompany Kavanaugh to the office of Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's this morning.

BRIGGS: Sources in both parties tell us, because of Kavanaugh's lengthy paper trail as a judge, 12 years on the appeals court circuit, moving his nomination along quickly could be a challenge.

For the latest, let's go to Boris Sanchez at the White House.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Christine and Dave, "there's no one more qualified or deserving for the position." That is how President Trump described Brett Kavanaugh, his choice to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy following his retirement from the Supreme Court.

Two sources close to the decision-making process indicate that President Trump showed a bit favor for Brett Kavanaugh long before Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement. And that after a conversation with the now-retired justice, President Trump felt even more strongly about the former clerk for Justice Kennedy.

The president talked about his criteria for choosing Kavanaugh during his speech.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: What matters is not a judge's political views, but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the Constitution require. I am pleased to say that I have found, without doubt, such a person.

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SANCHEZ: Some Democrats have come out in total opposition to the nomination. He could potentially win some favor among red-state Democrats. Previously, Kavanaugh made statements suggesting that he would respect legal precedent and potentially uphold Roe v. Wade. Dave and Christine?

ROMANS: Boris, at the White House.

Joining us here this morning, CNN politics analyst and writer, Harry Enten.

Good morning.

HARRY ENTEN, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER & ANALYST: Good morning.

ROMANS: So seven hours ago this was announced. This is a name new to most Americans, as it often is.

ENTEN: Yes.

ROMANS: They will dig into his judicial background. What you know about him, as you can see, on the D.C. Court of appeals and former clerk for Anthony Kennedy. In fact, when he was making his remarks at the White House, he first thanked the president and then spent some time talking about Anthony Kennedy and how he would take that role. Served in the Bush administration. Worked on the Starr investigation, the Ken Starr investigation into Bill Clinton. And a strong proponent of executive power. Will he energize Trump's base?

ENTEN: I think he will energize them enough. If you look at that list, he is very well qualified. When you are dealing with well qualified nominees and you go back over time, those are the nominees that get confirmed almost overwhelmingly.

BRIGGS: Gorsuch's like qualifications, you could argue, in past times, this guy could get 70 to 80 votes. Not today. It will be tough to get them over the hump. But they do have 51-49 advantage, plus Mike Pence if they need it. This looks like a safe confirmation as far as getting Republican votes. What about the red-state Democrats that Boris Sanchez mentioned? Will they get Democrat votes?

[04:05:17] ENTEN: It is plausible. It is the same path you saw with Gorsuch. You have those three red-state Democrats, now Doug Jones in Alabama. That's certainly a potential pick to go along. I would say looking back at past nominations, if you look at the qualifications and his ideology, you are probably looking at somewhere in the area of 52 or 53 or 54 aye votes.

BRIGGS: You can put Jon Tester in that category. The three that voted for Gorsuch. And Tester is under a lot of pressure to vote.

ROMANS: He reveres the Constitution. He is there to interpret the law, not make the law. We've heard these sorts of, I guess, bromides before. Do you think we will learn more about him in the confirmation process do you think or do you think he'll be careful to not tip his hand towards Roe v. Wade or any of these things that they're really firing Democrats for this?

ENTEN: If there's one thing we learned from the Robert Borke hearings back 30 years ago, they don't tip their hands at all. They shouldn't do anything. Keep quiet. Keep to what is already known. Answer the questions asked in such a way as not to put their nomination in jeopardy.

ROMANS: And pay your nanny taxes.

ENTEN: Yes.

BRIGGS: Yes. But these processes we don't learn anything. We will learn something when we dig up Brett Kavanaugh's past, in particular, what Christine mentioned, that Starr investigation.

Here is what Ed Markey, Senator, Democrat, tweeted about this, "Brett Kavanaugh was the only nominee on Trump's short list who has written that a sitting president should not be indicted. It is not a coincidence he was selected."

Here's what past statements regarding presidential power from Kavanaugh said, quote, "Having seen firsthand how complex and difficult that job is, I believe it is vital that the president be able to focus on his never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible."

That will be the line of attack for Democrats. Will it work?

ENTEN: Probably not. Really, the only way in which this nomination goes down is if he becomes so unpopular with the public that there's enough public pressure to make Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski vote no. That is unlikely. The most likely scenario is a passage, a narrow passage, but a passage nonetheless. It doesn't matter how many votes you get, if you have a majority, you end up on the Supreme Court. The only way this goes down is if he is so unpopular with the public. But that's just very, very rare. Usually, Supreme Court nominees are not very well known and, therefore, it means they're probably going to end up on the United States Supreme Court.

ROMANS: Yes, not very well known. That nominee, he has been known for seven hours and seven minutes to the American public at this point.

Do you think, again to go back to the first question, energizing Trump's base, he wants a pick to sail through and help him pick his mark for the next 50 years on the Supreme Court.

ENTEN: If you look at the record of Judge Kavanaugh, you see a conservative record. Will he be as conservative as Clarence Thomas? Maybe not. He will certainly, probably be more conservative than John Roberts.

ROMANS: He will be the fulcrum that is Anthony Kennedy?

ENTEN: No. No, he will not - this will not be another Souter. I think that's the main fear of conservatives that this will end up being another Souter. That, based on his record, seems very unlikely.

BRIGGS: Hugh Hewitt wrote in the "Washington Post," "He is Roberts 2.0. This court really swings on Roberts now." Harry, thank you. We'll check in with you in 20 minutes.

ROMANS: Nice to see you, Harry.

ENTEN: Thank you.

ROMANS: Breaking overnight, a federal judge says the Justice Department cannot change rules that limit how long immigrant children can be detained. The DOJ wanted the change so it could detain families together long term. All of this is happening because the president implemented a zero-tolerance policy that led to separating families at the border. The judge called the DOJ's request wholly without merit. The Justice Department releasing a statement highlighting a single section of ruling in the government's favor. It says, "The court does appear to acknowledge that parents who cross the border will not be released and must choose between remaining in family custody or requesting separation from their children."

BRIGGS: Today is the court ordered deadline for children under 5 to be reunited with their parents. The deadline that the government will not meet. So far, 54 of 102 toddlers will be reunified by today. At another court hearing on Monday, the federal judge who set the deadline was said to be, quote, "encouraged" by the progress. The government still has thousands more children 5 and older who have to be reunited by July 26th.

ROMANS: Missing that deadline. Missing that deadline.

The operation to rescue four remaining boys and soccer coach from the save in Thailand has resumed this morning. Officials hope the rescue effort will be over after today.

Let's go live to northern Thailand and bring in CNN's Ivan Watson.

A final push here, Ivan. Four children and the coach. Rescuers must be learning along the way as well. Where do we stand in the process right now?

[04:10:03] IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It has been five hours that the rescue operation has been under way again on this third day of operations. Way ahead of schedule from what we were told last night. Recall that on Sunday and Monday, they successfully emerged with eight boys, four on each day. Remaining inside is four boys and their 25-year-old coach and the doctor who has been with them since the authorities were able to reach them, and three Navy SEAL officers. The head of the operation says he predicts all will emerge by the end of the day of the activities, which is a tall order. But they must be feeling confident to telegraph that.

As for the eight who have emerged, each came out wearing a wet suit to try to keep their body temperatures warm as they are spending quite an extended amount of time under water because the cave that they are trapped at is 2.5 miles beneath the mountain behind me. Many of those passages are flooded with water, which is why they are trapped there in the first place. They are equipped with full-face masks to provide them with air during the difficult and dangerous journey, which claimed the life of a professional diver, a former Thai Navy SEAL just last week. When they emerge, they are rushed to the hospital in the provincial capitol by helicopter. Doctors there say the eight who have been rescued so far are in pretty good medical condition. Two have inflamed lungs. They are keeping them in quarantine for now.

Dave and Christine?

ROMANS: Thank you, Ivan Watson. Keep us posted if there's any activity there for the final withdrawal of the others.

BRIGGS: Great to see the weather as it is at the moment as well.

ROMANS: Yes.

BRIGGS: The struggle to cut a Brexit deal is causing the biggest leadership crisis of Theresa May's tenure, just days ahead of her meeting with President Trump.

We are live in London ahead on EARLY START.

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[04:16:07] The British government is in turmoil this morning as Prime Minister Theresa May faces the most serious crisis of her leadership. She named a new foreign secretary to replace Boris Johnson and a new Brexit secretary to replace David Davis after both resigned dramatically within hours of each other on Monday.

CNN's Nic Robertson is live at 10 Downing Street in London with more.

Nic, good morning. Can Theresa May survive this?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: For right now, she can. She will probably survive through the week until President Trump arrives later in the week. The challenge hasn't gone away. Two heavy hitters gone from the cabinet. Boris Johnson has always harbored ambitions of leadership. At the moment, the support within the Conservative Party is not so much to bring Theresa May down. She is in a cabinet meeting behind me. The focus of the moment is on her delivering the type of Brexit, the type of getting out of the European Union on the terms that they want, the hard Brexiteers. If Theresa May doesn't do that, she could find herself in a tough leadership challenge later this year. Two weeks to go until the summer recess of Parliament. The thinking is, if she can survive, she will survive until October. This is far from over.

The pressure piled on by the Novichok agent that killed somebody outside of London over the weekend. The investigation into that continues. That places more pressure on the prime minister, international relations and relations with Russia. And President Trump arriving, that's another big deal on her plate. I just came past the location where President Trump will stay this week. The fortifications, the police fortifications are going up, big fences and concrete blocks going into place. A lot for the prime minister this week -- Dave? BRIGGS: 24 hours before the county can turn its attention back to the

World Cup.

Nic Robertson, live at 10 Downing, thank you.

ROMANS: All right, 18 minutes past the hour. A baby in Montana is recovering. Rescued after spending hours partially buried outdoors.

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[04:22:36] ROMANS: President Trump slamming Pfizer for raising drug prices despite his promise that consumer costs would fall. Trump has repeatedly accused drug companies of getting away with murder. Tweeting Monday that, "Pfizer and other companies should be ashamed that they've raised drug prices for no reason and that they're merely taking advantage of the poor and others who are unable to defend themselves. This is the reaction to Pfizer raising prices for about 40 drugs on July 1st. Pfizer says that only makes up a small part of its portfolio. But Trump vowed to respond. The president had already unveiled a plan to reduce drug prices two months ago. Here he is in May.

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TRUMP: We will have tougher negotiations, more competition, and much lower prices at the pharmacy counter, and it will start to take effect very soon.

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ROMANS: So he promised lower drug prices and Pfizer raised some prices. That has not materialized yet. Cutting drug price was a campaign promise for Trump. To negotiate directly with drug makers. But did not include that, remember, in his final plan. Instead, he made it easier for cheaper generic drugs to hit the market. And he targeted the shadowy world of drug rebates.

BRIGGS: A fifth former Ohio State wrestler telling CNN Congressman Jim Jordan knew about the sexual abuse of athletes by the school's team doctor and turned a blind eye. Jordan was assistant wrestling coach at the time of the alleged abuse. A former, who wrestler spoke to CNN and asked to remain anonymous, called Jordan a, quote, "phony," proclaiming he was not aware of the doctor's conduct. And says the head wrestling coach finally put a stop to it. But now the head coach now saying no one knew about the abuse. And one of six former coaches at Ohio State have released statements supporting Congressman Jordan.

ROMANS: Criticism building for the congressman here. The political action committee, Mad Dog Path, paid to fly a banner over Columbus, Ohio, calling on Jordan to resign. The congressman still denying any knowledge of inappropriate behavior at Ohio State. A source tells CNN members of the House Freedom Caucus are uncomfortable with the scandal surrounding Jordan and taking a wait-and-see approach.

BRIGGS: A miracle in Montana. A 5-month-old baby found alive after being partially buried for at least nine hours in the mountains following a 911 tip. The deputies searching for the child heard the infant's faint cry. He followed the sound and discovered the baby alive, face down, under a pile of sticks and debris. CNN affiliate, KPAX, reports that the baby has minor scrapes and bruises but is in good condition. And 32-year-old Francis Crowley was supposed to be taking care of the baby. He has been charged with criminal endangerment.

[04:25:23] ROMANS: Oh, my gosh. That story is terrifying.

BRIGGS: Makes you hold your breath.

ROMANS: Poor baby.

It's 24 minutes past the hour. Democrats are vowing to fight to keep Brett Kavanaugh off the Supreme Court. But could prolonging the fight over the president's pick actually help the Republicans in the midterms.

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[04:30:02] ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Brett Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law.

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