Return to Transcripts main page


All 12 Boys & Soccer Coach Successfully Rescued from Cave in Thailand; Michael Flynn in Court Today; Democrats: Trump Picked Kavanaugh for Supreme Court to Foil Russia Investigation; Sources: Cohen Feels Strong Parallel to John Dean, Star Witness Against Nixon; Trump Pardons Ranchers Who Inspired Militia Standoff with Federal Authorities. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 10, 2018 - 13:30   ET



[13:31:04] JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: Well, it's being called the Apollo 13 of rescues. All members of a Thai youth soccer team trapped in a flooded cave for more than two weeks are now safe. Divers pulled the last four boys out and their coach earlier today. You can see them there being taken to hospital in ambulances. The last group of rescuers, that is three remaining divers and a doctor, followed them out. The Thai Navy SEALs posted this photo a short time ago. Brings to an end a massive, complicated, really a miraculous operation that's captured headlines and hearts, you might say, around the world.

CNN international correspondent, Matt Rivers, is outside the hospital in Chiang Rai, Thailand, where those boys have been taken for observation and treatment.

Listen, Matt, you've been there for a number of days. It's the kind of story that must be heartwarming to watch unfold. Tell us what we know about the boys' conditions. But also have their parents been able to see them and talk to them since they've gotten out?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so what we saw this afternoon -- or late this evening, Jim, would be boys 9, 10, 11, and 12, actually go down this road behind me. That's the hospital where they're in right now, followed by their coach. That means the entire team is now inside that hospital.

In terms of their conditions, we don't know exactly yet. We know they're getting a number of tests done, blood work. They're going to be testing for dehydration. We do know that they're in an isolated unit inside that hospital. There's a risk that their immune systems have been weakened, and as a result, they're more susceptible to infection. So authorities are saying, look, we want this recovery to go as smoothly as possible. So they are actually quarantining these kids and their coach for about seven days or so.

So to your question about parents, they can't actually come and give their kids a hug, even after all of this. They can come to the hospital, but they have to look at their children through a glass partition. So that's about as close as they can get. But you know, after this horrific ordeal in that cave, I think even though the parents would want to give the kids a hug, I think they're going to take just about anything they can get at this point.

SCIUTTO: Well, for sure. And when they do get to see them, that's going to be quite a hug.

Matt Rivers, thanks very much.

We should remember that despite all that good news, there was one diver that lost his life in this, a former Thai Navy SEAL

Well, the president's fired national security adviser, who pled guilty to lying to federal investigators, appears in court today with a judge demanding answers on his cooperation with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. We'll tell you what happened.

Plus, we just told you the government originally said about half of those youngest children separated from their parents would be reunited today. Well, actually, we've just found out it's fewer than that. Just hours before a court-imposed deadline, the Trump administration now says only 38 of those children under 5 years old are now expected to be reunited today as a federal judge ordered. We're going to have more on that breaking news just ahead.


[13:38:36] SCIUTTO: Michael Flynn, the president's former national security adviser, appeared in court today, the first time we have seen him since he pled guilty in December to lying to federal investigators. The judge called them in today, wanting to check up on the sentencing proceedings for Michael Flynn, which has been delayed a number of times by the special counsel.

CNN's justice correspondent, Evan Perez, is with me now.

You were there at the courthouse today. There was some talk going into this, the judge might be trying to slap down the special counsel, et cetera, but what happened today?

EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPODNENT: None of that happened. The judge -- it was basically just over a 10-minute hearing. His concerns seem to be more focused on the probation office and about some procedural things that were happening behind the scenes. Jim, he basically just asked Flynn's lawyers to say exactly what was happening behind the scenes. He didn't really ask them to explain anything. And he set August 24th for another update. Essentially what is going on behind the scenes is continued cooperation. That's part of the agreement.

SCIUTTO: We know that Flynn is cooperating.

PEREZ: Flynn has agreed to cooperate as part of his plea agreement back in December with Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Until he gets sentenced, that is the job he has essentially. He did look a little tan today in court, was wearing his red tie. He looked like he's, you know, really having a good time.

[13:40:04] SCIUTTO: And if the special counsel's delaying his call for sentencing here, do we then presume that he's getting more information from Michael Flynn or just wanting to keep that option open?

PEREZ: It's quite possible what is happening behind the scenes is Mueller's investigation is still continuing, and so the special counsel doesn't want to say what, if anything, Mike Flynn has provided to aid that investigation. So he's trying to keep the cards close to the vest until

SCIUTTO: Kick the can.

PEREZ: Until that time is necessary.

Look, until Flynn is sentenced, he has to keep cooperating. He has to abide by that agreement that he's agreed to with the special prosecutor.

So, look, the judge made it clear that he is not making -- he's not urging the government and Flynn's lawyers to wrap this up any faster than they need to do it. So he made it clear they can take as much time as they need.

SCIUTTO: All right. Not the best news for the president.

Evan Perez, thanks very much.

Did President Trump pick his Supreme Court nominee to foil the Russia investigation? That is what some Democrats are claiming as Brett Kavanaugh's past views on executive power could play a role in the president's fate.

Plus, new pardons from the president. Why he's giving passes to the Oregon ranchers at the center of a violent stand-off between the government and a militia.


[13:45:51] SCIUTTO: The confirmation battle is already in full swing on Capitol Hill for President Trump's new Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh. Kavanaugh met today with Vice President Mike Pence and Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell. If confirmed, Kavanaugh would cement a conservative majority on the high court. He has the power to shift the course of history. That's not an overstatement.

CNN legal analyst, Joan Biskupic, joins us now to break it all down.

Joan, tell us what influence he's going to have.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Right from the start, he's going to have a lot of influence because Anthony Kennedy was a true swing vote. I'm not sure if we're ever going to have another swing vote on this court like Anthony Kennedy. Jim, you know it came down to Justice Kennedy's vote on abortion rights, affirmative action, on some death penalty cases. When the Senate confirms him, if the Senate confirms him, he'll definitely have a gravitational pull to the right for this Supreme Court. SCIUTTO: So tell us more about his experience then.

BISKUPIC: OK. His experience, he started off right away -- he's been -- he's a classic Washington insider. In terms of experience that you're asking about, you know, he came up through the Supreme Court as a law clerk to Justice Kennedy. He worked in the solicitor general's office. Then he handled some of the most controversial issues over the last two decades. He was right at the center of the Clinton impeachment process as an associate counsel to Ken Starr, who ran the investigation of {resident Bill Clinton. He actually wrote some of the more sexually charged questions that prosecutors wanted to ask Bill Clinton about his affair with Monica Lewinsky. And then he also helped write the 1998 Starr report that went to the Hill that led to the impeachment in the House of Representatives but an acquittal in the Senate of Bill Clinton. And then you also had -- he was part of Elian Gonzalez's representation in 2000. You also had up there, Bush v. Gore that most people will remember decided the presidency in 2000 after the Florida election recount.

SCIUTTO: Joan Biskupic, thanks very much for breaking it down for us.

BISKUPIC: Sure, thank you.

SCIUTTO: Well, just in now, we have some news. CNN learning that Michael Cohen, the president's former lawyer, long-time fixer, feels that there's a strong parallel in himself to John Dean, the former White House counsel under President Richard Nixon, who eventually became the star witness against President Nixon in Watergate. Two sources close to Cohen adding that Dean eventually stepped up and told the truth, not for his career or fear of going to jail, but because it was the right thing to do. The sources said it's the same for Cohen. It's about doing the right thing, serving yourself and your country.

To discuss this now, we have CNN political reporter, Nia Malika Henderson, CNN chief legal analyst, Jeffrey Toobin, and CNN legal analyst, Carrie Cordero.

Jeffrey, is Michael Cohen John Dean 2.0?

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: He could be if he has incriminating information about Donald Trump that could be corroborated and proved. That's what happened with John Dean. John Dean became the principle witness establishing there was a Watergate cover-up, then his testimony was vindicated when the White House tapes came out. I don't know what Michael Cohen knows. I don't know if he knows anything incriminating about Donald Trump. He hasn't said anything incriminating so far. Certainly, this is a tantalizing suggestion by people close to him, but it doesn't prove anything in and of itself.

SCIUTTO: Carrie, you've dealt as a prosecutor with a lot of witnesses, I imagine, and people have changes of heart for different reasons. Michael Cohen has been unabashedly President Trump's biggest supporter for years. Called him the greatest president in U.S. history. Now he's changing his tune. What would cause someone to do that? He's afraid to go to jail? CARRIE CORDERO, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, the motivation for Mike

Cohen -- Jeffrey is exactly right. What information of value does Michael Cohen have? In the public, we don't know what that is. The motivation for somebody to cooperate is what jeopardy they're facing and whether or not he is facing serious legal jeopardy in terms of time in jail, which would affect his family, affect the rest of his life, obviously, and so we don't even -- Michael Cohen hasn't been charged with anything. So we don't know what potential whether he really will face federal charges and if so whether those have anything at all to do with his involvement with the Trump organization and Donald Trump or whether if that's his own financial business issues.

[13:50:31] SCIUTTO: If you are going to get yourself out of legal jeopardy when you are facing charges, you have to offer something of value, right? You can't nicely say, well, I am going to tell the truth now.

CORDERO: No, you have to give something of value. That's why I'm continuing to question of this public drawing out of information how he may have. If you really have information of value and you really want to corroborate with prosecutors, the way to do that is to do it quietly through your lawyer through the U.S. attorney's office, not in a public forum.

TOOBIN: I think it's also he's just pissed. He doesn't like the way he's being treated by Trump and the people around Trump. He wants to strike back at that. And people are -- you may have noticed this, Jim -- they are human beings and they get angry and offended and hurt. That's a factor.

SCIUTTO: Nia Malika, if I can switch gears here. A lot of news today. The president pardoned two men today, two ranchers who were at the center of really violent conflict with federal authorities. They lit a fire on federal land, and by doing that, threatened the lives of federal officers there and the president here pardoned them. Why?

NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICS REPORTER: That's something that his base likes. It's something his base has been talking about. And it is something that the White House, these two men served their time and they feel like they gotten too much time. It was four years or three years for another one. He has been issuing political pardons, right? Sheriff Joe Arpaio is on that list, Scooter Libby, Dinesh D'Souza. And he issued pardons because famous people have told him to

SCIUTTO: Stallone.

HENDERSON: Yes, Stallone and Jack Johnson, and Alice Marie Jackson after Kim Kardashian pleaded with him. As a result, she got her sentence commuted. That's what I'm saying. Sort or more broadly, people see this and Trump liking to wave his magic wand and issue a pardon. He likes exercising that power, and whether or not he's signaling something else of all the folks that's involved with the Russian investigation.

SCIUTTO: As the president is involved in the investigation, Jeffrey Toobin, and people close to him have been charged with crimes, would we not conclude that the president is signaling some of those folks, reminding them that he has the ability to pardon them?

TOOBIN: No other president in recent history have used the pardon in this way. They used to be this very orderly process for applying to the Justice Department for a pardon and, you know, or lengthy review process. It is not required. It is just how the presidents have done it. This has been a seat-of-the-pants operation where he pardons his friends or friends of his friend. If you are Paul Manafort or Michael Cohen, though they are in strange relationship right now, you may think, I am next on the list and I don't have to worry about going to prison and he'll take care of me.

SCIUTTO: When you have these comments from Michael Cohen and, as you say, Carrie, this unusual public airing of all these issues and questions and so on, to imagine that there's some signaling back to, hey, how about me for a pardon.

CORDERO: There might me. On one hand, it maybe the president has found one narrow area of executive authority that's unchecked and he has grasp onto that particular authority. It is also interesting coming the day after the Kavanaugh nomination to the Supreme Court. Brett Kavanaugh is a mainstream conservative Republican who could have been nominated by any Republican Party. This pardon does seem to be tailored to a particular populist base of the president. I find it interesting that they took place the next day.

SCIUTTO: Throw a bone --


CORDERO: Who knows? I think it is possible.

[13:54:40] SCIUTTO: Carrie, Jeffery, Nia Malika, as always, thank you very much.

Coming up, President Trump soon landing in Brussels for the NATO summit. Why he says Vladimir Putin is not a foe and the meeting is easier with him than America's closest allies. The details, next.


[13:59:41] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Hi, there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for watching CNN. Thank you for being with me.

President Trump will be touching down shortly in Brussels for an international gathering of NATO in what is said to be a contentious meeting with U.S. allies. Just before taking off, the president took fresh aim at NATO members for not meeting targets for defense spending. To be clear, the countries in this alliance are the historic friends of the United States. But it appears that the president is in more comfortable enemy territory. Yes, the president is meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May and the queen.