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Divers Rescue Three More Boys from Cave in Thailand; Supreme Court Nominee's Record Scrutinized by Opposition; Trump to Depart Soon for NATO Summit in Brussels. Aired 7-7:30a ET

Aired July 10, 2018 - 07:00   ET

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


ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: We hope during your day we can bring you more developments.

[07:00:03] Meanwhile, our other top story, the battle to confirm President Trump's Supreme Court nominee begins. Brett Kavanaugh's judicial record is already being scrutinized, of course. Critics are particularly interested in whether he believes a sitting president can or cannot be investigated.

So we begin with CNN's Ivan Watson, live in northern Thailand for us with all of the breaking details on the cave rescues. What's happened in the past hour, Ivan?

IVAN WATSON, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Alisyn, we're waiting to hear about the rest of the rescue operations, since the authorities said their plan was to get out the remaining four boys, the remaining soccer coach, and the doctor and the three navy SEAL divers from Thailand who've been with them in that cave for more than a week since the authorities have been able to reach them.

So since the rescue operation resumed more than seven hours ago, we've gotten confirmation of three boys being rescued. We're still waiting to find out about the two remaining people on this soccer team, as well as the four other personnel that have helped them.

There is excitement here and great hope, of course. This is something that all of Thailand, arguably a great deal of it, has united around, but there is also considerable amount of risk here. Since a professional diver, a former Thai royal navy SEAL diver, who volunteered for this hard work, died in the tunnels that reach into this mountain some two and a half miles to the cavern where these boys have been trapped for more than two and a half weeks. He died trying to navigate that last week.

According to some of the assistant divers who worked on this, trying to ferry tanks to the dive-through, they're navigating razor-sharp rocks, really strong currents that only get stronger as the water levels recede in certain areas, and really tight turns. And it's a journey that takes hours to pull them out of there.

They're having to dress the boys in wet suits to try to keep their core body temperature up. Even with that precaution, they're coming out, many of them, with low body temperatures. And of course, they need air. And so they're wearing full face masks to provide them with air during this precarious and very delicate operation to get them out of there.

And we'll bring you the news as soon as we have it on the latest -- on the latest rescues. I'm just trying to keep an eye. A member of the rescue team based at the cave entrance, he says that the ninth boy, who was rescued, according to navy SEALs around 4 p.m. local time, has now left the cave site by ambulance and is now headed to the hospital in the provincial capital. That's the latest coming from this remarkable, multinational rescue effort -- Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Ivan, do we have any idea -- and I know the rescuers have been playing this very close to the vest about which boys are out and which boys are in. Do we have any idea who the last one in the cave is or how they made the decision of the order in which people would come out?

WATSON: There have been conflicting reports on some of that, and so I want to be a little bit careful about that. We -- we did get confirmation from health officials this morning that the first four that came out on Sunday were between ages 14 and 16. They weren't allowed to see their parents until Monday in the hospital and only through, really, a glass door or a glass window of some sort, because they're trying to keep them in quarantine, in sterilized conditions, because they fear that their health is more vulnerable at this stage, after being trapped underground for more than two weeks. So that's what we know about the first quartet.

We know that all of them, they have to be kind of blindfolded when they come out. They haven't been exposed to natural light for a long period of time. They are being rationed, and they're not being allowed to just gorge themselves on the food that they want after suffering from malnutrition. They're being slowly introduced to solid foods.

And we do know that the youngest of the boys, Alisyn, is 11 years old. So as soon as we find out whether he's one of those who's emerged, we'll let you know.

CAMEROTA: OK, Ivan, thank you very much. We look forward to you bringing us breaking news over the next hour.

OK. Now to our other top story, John: to the battle over President Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

Brett Kavanaugh's judicial record is already being scrutinized. This as the president leaves very shortly for the NATO summit. So CNN's Abby Phillip is in position at the White House for all of the breaking news there.

What are you watching, Abby?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, good morning, Alisyn.

The nominee has been announced, and now it's on to the confirmation fight. Brett Kavanaugh is going into a Senate confirmation hearing with thousands of documents to his name. And while the White House wants the Senate to get this process

finished by October so that Kavanaugh can be seated on the Supreme Court for the next term, the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Chuck Grassley, hasn't yet committed to holding hearings before September, which will keep them on that timeline.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

[07:05:00] DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is my honor and privilege to announce that I will nominate Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court.

PHILLIP (voice-over): President Trump's nomination of D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Brett Kavanaugh setting the stage for a bitter confirmation fight over the stalwart conservative who could reshape the high court for decades.

JUDGE BRETT KAVANAUGH, SUPREME COURT NOMINEE: If confirmed by the Senate, I will keep an open mind in every case.

PHILLIP: The 53-year-old Yale Law School graduate was a former clerk for retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. He served in both Bush administrations and helped write Ken Starr's report outlining grounds for Bill Clinton's impeachment.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell calling Kavanaugh a superb choice, despite CNN learning that McConnell advised the president to choose a nominee with less obstacles to be confirmed.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer declaring, "I will oppose Judge Kavanaugh's nomination with everything I have," as opponents express concern that Kavanaugh will vote to overturn rulings protecting minorities.

SEN. BERNIE SANDERS (I), VERMONT: Are you ready for a fight? Are you ready to defend Roe v. Wade?

PHILLIP: Kavanaugh has not outrightly opposed Roe v. Wade or same-sex marriage, but he sided with the Trump administration last year to block an abortion for a pregnant immigrant teenager, citing the government's permissible interest in favoring fetal life. Kavanaugh addressed the landmark abortion ruling during his confirmation to the D.C. circuit.

KAVANAUGH: If confirmed to the D.C. Circuit, I would follow Roe v. Wade faithfully and fully. That would be binding precedent.

SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: But what is your opinion? You're not on the bench yet. You've talked about these issues in the past to other people, I'm sure.

KAVANAUGH: The Supreme Court has held repeatedly, Senator, and I don't think it would be appropriate for me to give a personal view on that.

SCHUMER: OK. Not going to answer the question.

PHILLIP: Kavanaugh's nomination could also have major implications for Special Counsel Robert Mueller's Russia information. Kavanaugh is a strong proponent of broad executive powers, writing in 2009, "The indictment and trial of a sitting president would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either international or domestic arenas."

Some social conservatives expressing disappointment that the president chose the establishment favorite.

RICK SANTORUM, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It just seems like, you know, Trump in this case just bowed to the elite in Washington. And I think that's going to rub a lot of people the wrong way.

PHILLIP: But sources tell CNN that the president was hardened that key conservative voices like Ann Coulter and writers at Breitbart have recently come to Kavanaugh's defense.

As the confirmation battle begins, the White House is eyeing four red- state Democrats, three who voted for the president's first justice, Neil Gorsuch. Key Republican moderates Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, who both support abortion rights, also likely to be the target of fierce lobbying efforts. Collins, who voted for Kavanaugh as a federal judge, promising to conduct a careful and thorough vetting of the president's nominee.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP: And Brett Kavanaugh heads to Capitol Hill this morning. He'll be meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and also Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Already millions of dollars pouring onto the airwaves in support of his nomination, but Democrats are not going to let this go down without a fight -- Alisyn and John.

BERMAN: Abby Phillip for us at the White House. Abby, thanks so much.

And again, we're watching, because the president is going to depart the White House very shortly. Will he answer questions? Stay tuned for that.

Joining us now in the meantime, CNN political analyst David Gregory; CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin.

Brett Kavanaugh is an insider's insider. This is a guy who grew up inside the Beltway, went to high school inside the Beltway and then went, you know, to that anti-establishment venue of Yale University and Yale Law School. So an insider's insider, Jeffrey, but that doesn't mean that this will cement a fundamental shift in the court, possibly for decades.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: I think it will mean a fundamental shift on the court inside for decades.

I mean, the whole idea behind the -- the search process here, which was led by the Federalist Society, was to find justices who would not be Anthony Kennedy, who would not have elements of moderation in their record, who would not support abortion rights, who would not support gay rights. That's who the Federalist Society was looking for. That's who the 25 judges that the president picked from all agreed on, as far as I can tell; and that will change the court dramatically.

Anthony Kennedy was no liberal, but there were very important aspects of his record that were moderate, and that's what this president and his allies want to get rid of.

DAVID GREGORY, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: And also part of that, Alisyn and --

BERMAN: John, it's OK.

GREGORY: Berman, what's your name?

BERMAN: Call me what you want. "Sir."

GREGORY: Sorry. Sorry, I was thinking of all the nicknames I had for you.

CAMEROTA: Pet names.

GREGORY: Yes. Pet names.

The point -- the point that Jeffrey makes, there's another piece of that, too, which is that they wanted to ensure that there were judges who would not be unknown that -- who have a long track record, who have come -- who have come before these folks, activists and others, and who have been interacted with over time so that there wouldn't be a surprise.

And John, you remember with Harriet Miers, who President Bush put up. That was a disaster, because it went against the orthodoxy of the conservative legal establishment in a way that was totally rebuffed. Because part of that list and part of that work over the decades is to ensure that you had a pretty good idea of who you were getting here.

CAMEROTA: So I want to read the op-ed today from his former Yale Law School professor, who knows him well and is wildly impressed with his intellect. So here is what Professor Akhil Amar says: "Judge Kavanaugh is an avid consumer of legal scholarship. He reads and learns. And he reads scholars from across the global spectrum. A great judge also admits and learns from past mistakes. He has already shown flashes of greatness, admirably confessing that some of the views he held 20 years ago as a young lawyer" -- and he's referring to the Ken Starr investigation -- "were erroneous."

So John, what do you take away from that?

JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, he is, in the op-ed, he is explicitly referring to Kavanaugh's service on the Starr Commission and his investigation of Vince Foster. And I think this is one of the key questions. Is Kavanaugh, as a young conservative, was he more ideological? Was

he more extreme than he appears to have been after his service in the Bush administration?

What we know is that his legal opinions working for Ken Starr did have a very aggressive view of a, for example, that a president had to comply to a subpoena. We know after his service as staff secretary to George W. Bush, his views seem to have changed dramatically, because of that experience working in the White House. And now he feels that presidents should not have to deal on a regular basis with these kinds of investigations.

Not that a president is above the law, but those should really be pushed until after his service. That's a view that might be very appealing to Donald Trump.

The question is, does this show signs of reason and evolution? Or is it really something that has been almost set up to make him more palatable to this kind of a president?

BERMAN: Toobin, I sense mirth on your face?

TOOBIN: You know, I'm sort of a mirthful guy, Berman. So there's always mirth in my heart.

But no, I mean, look, I think you could take a very cynical view. First of all, of Akhil Amar's piece. There's an old boy's network in the legal profession where people support each other and, regardless of politics, and that's -- and I think that's reflected in that -- in that piece.

But, also the idea that, you know, if you are a Republican judge looking to get appointed to the Supreme Court, one view you might want to hold is that presidents have a lot of power and shouldn't be -- and shouldn't be distracted with criminal investigations. That certainly is in keeping with an ambitious appeals court judge's approach. It may also be a sincere evolution in his views. I expect those two -- those two opposing hypothesis about Kavanaugh will be well explored during this confirmation.

BERMAN: He may not answer any questions about it, because that's the way things go in confirmation hearings.

David, before -- David, I just want to tee you up with this, and then you can say whatever you want. One thing I remember from covering the Bush campaign and the Bush White house, Brett Kavanaugh was beloved. I got unsolicited texts overnight from people inside Bush world, telling me how much they like him as a person.

Don't also forget, though, that Kavanaugh was a Republican street fighter. I mean, this is a guy that did the recount. He did, you know, Ken Starr before that. And when he was first nominated for the appeals court, Democrats fought him back because they believed him to be too partisan. Ultimately, he was confirmed in 2006.

So this is a guy with a strong partisan, political history before he got to the bench, David.

GREGORY: Right, and it's worth remembering how Supreme Court justices very often, not always, but very often are positioning themselves in Washington for years to become -- to put themselves in a position where they can be selected, so that they have their bone fides as a partisan, as an ideologue, and then get on a track to be in a position to be a jurist for a long time. And that was certainly the case with Brett Kavanaugh.

I -- but part of how well-liked he is, I actually think it's important that there's a network in the legal community, which Jeffrey knows well, which my wife knows well, that stands up for itself. Sometimes it's way too much of an old boys' network -- almost all the time -- and forgets all the capable women who are -- who are part of that distinguished bar. But they do stand up for each other and for their integrity, especially when these folks get in the middle of a really ugly political fight.

07:15:07] And I and Jeffrey have seen this on the left and the right, things that have been done to people that I know well who are conservatives and liberals or more -- less partisan people like Merrick Garland, what was done to him. So I think it's important that people vouch for them.

The other window is the process by which the president chose here. Unpredictable, impulsive populist who really hued to a very conservative line there. He knows this is how to unite the conservative base in ways that he has not done on other issues. He's done it here.

AVLON: Well, aspect. Certainly, there are going to be folks on the far right -- you know, Rick Santorum expressed last night on our air disappointment, feeling he was selling out.

GREGORY: He was for Hardiman, too. So he's just disappointed. And they treated Hardiman poorly. They used him as a stalking horse twice.

AVLON: Well, yes, no, I don't disagree with that. But I think as we go forward, right, one of the things is filter out all the kabuki, because there's going to be a lot of talking points dispatched from the White House, emphasizing his moderation, his establishment credentials and his independence.

And then, as Jeff's pointed out, he did come up through the Federalist Society. And the Federalist Society was established to ensure that liberal Republicans were sort of purged from the consideration set.

That said, Democrats have a very difficult question to confront. Because they're understandably angry about Merrick Garland and the way he and President Obama were treated. But is that going to make them just a hard, impulsive no, or are they going to try to judge Judge Kavanaugh on the merits?

And is Judge Kavanaugh going to answer questions directly or simply tap-dance his way through confirmation hearings? All things to watch. CAMEROTA: That's an important question. And before we let you go -- we're almost out of time, but I can't let this segment end without Roe v. Wade.

And so Jeffrey, we know that Judge Kavanaugh is an originalist in terms of his interpretation of the Constitution, but he also believes in binding precedent, according to him. So which one is it?

TOOBIN: The first. Roe v. Wade is dead. There is no way abortion is going to be legal in all 50 states in a few years.

I mean, this is -- Donald Trump said during the campaign over and over again, "I will appoint pro-life justices who will vote to overturn Roe v. Wade." Why do you think he picked Brett Kavanaugh? Why do you think he picked Neil Gorsuch? Because they will overturn Roe v. Wade. Donald Trump, if nothing else, keeps his campaign promises, and that's what he's done.

CAMEROTA: All right, gentlemen, thank you very much for all of your analysis of this momentous pick.

BERMAN: And again, in a few moments we could hear and see the president himself. He and the first lady will depart the White House for the NATO summit in Brussels. This is an important and likely, a contentious trip for the presidency. CNN's Kaitlan Collins live in Brussels with the very latest -- Kaitlan.

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: John, contentious is a good way to put it. The president is already setting a combative tone ahead of this summit on Twitter this morning. You'll see his tweets there. He's going after NATO, that long-standing complaint that he's had that he believes that they need to pay more on their defense spending. He doesn't believe that they're doing enough. The United States is paying too much.

The president saying this morning, "NATO countries must pay more." We should note that the United States is a NATO country. But the president does seem to be spoiling for a fight when he does arrive here in Brussels and is going to meet with these European leaders.

These European leaders fear that this meeting is going to be even more aggressive than it was last year when the president lectured them on defense spending in what was supposed to be a unifying message. That is their fear here.

But that's not all. Then the president is going to go to London, where he's going to meet with the prime minister, Theresa May, whose government is in shambles right now, as you saw her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, resigned yesterday. Excuse me. So they've got that going on. And then he is going to end in Helsinki, Finland, during that one-on-one with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

CAMEROTA: Great job, Kaitlan. We'll let you get a glass of water. We know how choked up one can become at this hour with this subject matter. BERMAN: She did it with a smile, though. A credit to her, she was

going to make it through that, no matter what, and get us the information we need.

Coming up in the next hour, we are going to speak to White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah. He has been handling the Supreme Court nomination process. He will help shepherd through Brett Kavanaugh in his confirmation process.

Also, the breaking news this morning: one boy and one coach still trapped inside that cave, but three people have been pulled to safety so far this morning. These dramatic events unfolding before our very eyes. We'll bring you the very latest next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[07:23:33] BERMAN: All right. The breaking news, an incredible morning in Thailand. Once again, three more boys have been rescued from the flooded cave there. Divers now trying to save the one remaining boy and his soccer coach, who are still trapped underground. They've been there for 18 days now.

Here to discuss, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta and Tim Taylor, an underwater explorer and expert in underwater technology.

And we've been looking at this new video that we just got in overnight of the rescue process. We can see the team of people. They're walking through the cave to get there. Obviously, we know there are areas where they can't film where they're swimming, where it's too tight to --

CAMEROTA: And look at that, what just happened there. They did something on the rock there. They both lifted their hand up. And I don't know if they were marking it. I mean, you can just tell at every step, I think that they are either looking for hand holes or trying to mark something to say that they've been there. Like they're -- they're just -- we -- we can't imagine the amount of work that each one of them is doing on this five-hour trip in to even just get the boys.

BERMAN: Tim Taylor, you called this Apollo 13 of cave rescues here. So explain to us what we're seeing and what's happening.

TIM TAYLOR, UNDERWATER EXPLORER: Well, there's a whole team that's supports these other divers. This is a nine-hour trip.

CAMEROTA: Round trip.

TAYLOR: Round trip. Well, no, nine hours out, or six hours in, six hours out. So they've been doing it in nine hours. But so -- so when the boys come out, they consume gas. And they probably have staged scuba tanks with air that they can -- when they're -- when they come out of the wet part of the thing, they can rest the boys, get them warmed up, change the gas so they're full of gas again and then go to the next level. And once that's done, another team has to come in and reset that all up.

[07:25:15] So that's probably why you're seeing them not come one after the other. They have to then set all these safety stages and replenish the gas supplies or air supplies and -- and get it ready to reset and do it again.

CAMEROTA: Sanjay, I just can't underscore enough that this is a miracle. I mean, when we first got the word that they were found, everybody was jubilant: "Oh, they're found."

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Right.

CAMEROTA: But we had no idea how treacherous -- that the next part was even more treacherous of trying to get them out. And there were so many moments over these past 18 days where it looked like there might be something really tragic that happens to this team.

GUPTA: No question. And there was a diver, you know, a Thai diver who was lost, Saman Gunan. So it's -- it's treacherous; it's dangerous work.

And you remember, the time line as well: June 23 is when they first went missing. July 2 is when they were discovered alive. July 3, they start to bring in supplies. Then you can look, and it was July 8 when they started to -- to actually start doing these rescues. I mean, this was a methodical plan here. I mean, I don't know how much of this is built on existing knowledge, Tim, when it comes to cave diving, but they -- it's been amazing to see how they planned this.

CAMEROTA: Oh, yes. I mean, when the commander talks, when we get the full story of how they made those decisions. Because you know, there were all those moments where they were going to drill chimneys, where they were going to chamber chimneys.

SANJAY: Right.

CAMEROTA: They were going to have to blow another exit, in a different part of the cave. And when we hear how they ultimately decided to do, the most harrowing, actually, of all the escapes, I can't wait to hear that, who decided that.

BERMAN: And they sped up the process. They had to speed up the process, because they're so concerned with the monsoon-like rains that have remarkably and miraculously held off.

Sanjay, we're hearing -- we heard overnight from doctors at the hospital the condition of the boys is good --

GUPTA: Yes. Yes.

BERMAN: -- largely good, with some concerns about lung infection.

GUPTA: Yes, lung infection. They're probably monitoring them for all sorts of different things. The basics first: hypothermia, dehydration, malnutrition. But then you start to look at their blood, their urine, trying to figure out were they infected? Did they develop some sort of an infection?

When you're in a cave like this, there's all sorts of different things that are floating around. Bat and bird droppings oftentimes can lead to certain types of infections. One is known as histoplasmosis, cave disease. A lot's going to be examined around that. It's actually pretty rare to get, even in these situations, but you do have to test for it. Other lung infections, just sort of things that are more bacterial or viral, are going to be more common. But that's what they're going to test for.

It usually takes a few days for people to develop symptoms. That's part of this, as well.

Histoplasmosis, cave disease, isn't contagious, so this isn't something they would put the other healthcare workers or the families at risk. But the family members could put the boys at risk, because the boys' immune systems may be weakened. So that's part of the bubble, of the quarantine, for the time being.

CAMEROTA: Tim, one of the most remarkable things to me that is really haunting is these divers, these SEALs who went in before they knew where the boys were, OK? And they went in, into pitch darkness, into the water that was, as you've described it and so many people, that it was like diving through coffee on a good -- at a good point. The rest of it was just dark, pitch black, mud. And they didn't know.

And so they went -- I mean, that very first time that they went in after they'd found the fingerprints on the cave, I think they had to go for, like, 11 hours or 12 hours before they found them, not knowing if they would find them or where they would find them.

But once they dropped the guideline, was that the game changer, to tell them they would be able to get back and forth with, you know, relative ease after that?

TAYLOR: Eight divers, what they like to do is they call it laying new line. So, they get into new sections of the cave they've never been before, and they leave those lines permanently, and then they try to go add line to that -- to that discovery.

And once the lines are in, cave divers can follow them. That's the -- that's the road map back.

These guys love what they do. They would rather be with a cave on their back and on their stomach and in a tight little place crawling through the underground than any place else that's comforting to them, because they're trained how to do this. The kids are not, all right? So that is -- that was the big factor.

When you say what's different about this? Cave divers do not go in caves without knowledge and training. So, the situation is unique, because you never plan for giving someone that has no experience, that's --

CAMEROTA: Can't swim.

TAYLOR: -- 11 years old, out of a cave situation. Who would ever do that and think of that? So --

BERMAN: All right. Tim, Sanjay, thanks very much. Appreciate you being here.

We are hearing that President Trump is speaking on the South Lawn at the White House right now. He's getting ready to go to Brussels for the NATO summit. We're getting tape of that. We're going to turn it around and tell you what he's saying. That's next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)