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Air Marshals Track Unsuspecting U.S. Passengers; Ginsberg Reveals How Long She'll Serve on Supreme Court; Trump Touts Media Attacks Despite Warnings of Danger; Trump Launches Most Personal Attack Yet Against Mueller; Trump Threatens Government Shutdown over Wall. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired July 30, 2018 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[13:30:00] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He said, "The fire is coming in the back door. Come on, grandpa."
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WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: We want to welcome back our viewers here in the United States and around the world. I'm Wolf Blitzer, in Washington.
We're learning the details of a secret TSA program called Quiet Skies. It's aimed at gathering details on people's behavior at the airport and on planes here in the United States in hopes of identifying possible threats. Now they're tracking average Americans not suspected of a crime, not under investigation and not on the terrorist watch list.
Our aviation and government regulation correspondent, Rene Marsh, has been working the story for us.
What can you tell us?
[13:35:15] RENE MARSH, CNN AVIATION & GOVERNMENT REGULATION CORRESPONDENT: Speaking to the TSA, it's been revealed over the weekend that for the past eight years they have been tracking ordinary Americans who have no obvious ties to terrorism, and they've been tracking them as they are on their flights.
The TSA won't divulge too much about this program but they will say that there are certain things that they're looking at. They're able to decide who they're going to track based on their past travel patterns, have they ever traveled to a terrorism hot spot, or any information that they've received from the Intel Community that says, hey, we need to look at this individual. Once they've determined we want to track this passenger a federal air marshal is actually dispatched to that traveler's flight, is placed in a seat strategically so that they can observe this person's behavior during the flight. We have some of the behaviors that they are specifically looking for, everything from being excessively aware of their surroundings to essentially fidgeting too much, even sleeping on the flight. However, TSA is pushing back saying we're doing this for the safety of Americans. We're not doing this to surveil Americans.
But, you know, it's something that the American public did not know about until now.
BLITZER: It's interesting and potentially worrisome development. I'm sure it's going to cause some serious controversy.
MARSH: Privacy concerns as well.
BLITZER: That's what I mean.
All right, Rene, thank you very much.
More news we're following. She's the oldest justice on the United States Supreme Court and the president is on the verge of his second appointment with two years left. So how long will Ruth Bader Ginsburg serve? She has a new answer.
And the "New York Times" publisher said he directly warned President Trump that his anti-media rhetoric is becoming increasingly dangerous and then the president ignored the warning. We'll discuss.
[13:41:43] BLITZER: At least five more years, that's the plan for the U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The 85-year-old court veteran says she's not ready to retire any time soon, at least not until she hits 90. Her comments come as the fight over Brett Kavanaugh for the high court. Democrats are demanding a lot more information, specifically records from Kavanaugh's time serving in the Bush White House.
Joining us from Memphis, Tennessee, Congress Steve Cohen is joining us. He's a Democrat and a member of the House Judiciary Committee.
Let me get your reaction, Congressman, to what Ruth Bader Ginsburg said.
REP. STEVE COHEN, (D), TENNESSEE: She survived two cancers, she can survive anything. She's physically active. She's mentally strong. She's brilliant. We need her for at least two and a half years. I think she makes it and she serves America admirably.
BLITZER: Let me ask you about the president's attacks on the news media here in the United States, calling the news media the enemy of the American people. As you know, the new publisher of the "New York Times" warned the president during a private off-the-record meeting that the president's attacks could lead to violence against members of the news media. Do you believe that people could take the president's vitriol as a call to arms?
COHEN: I definitely think they could. I've seen a lot of his supporters. This listen and believe everything they puts out. It's like James Jones and they drank the Kool-Aid. I'm afraid he could incite them to violence. A lot of them are on the edge anyway. It's unfortunate what he said. The free press is important to America as a bulwark of democracy and the rule of law.
BLITZER: It was an off-the-record meeting, but then the president tweeted about the meeting and, as a result, A.G. Sulzberger, the publisher, James Bennett, the editorial page editor, decided to give their version as well.
Let's get to another new development, Congressman. The president launching the most personal attack yet on the special counsel, Robert Mueller, talking about non-specific conflicts of interest, calling it the Robert Mueller witch hunt now, all of a sudden. What do you think of this latest attack on the special counsel?
COHEN: When you can't defend yourself against the facts and the truth that the president knows will come out in the report, you attack the investigators. That's what's happened. It's clear as you could have it. The president knows that Mueller knows things about him and his campaign that were incriminating so he's attacking, like Roy Cohn (ph) taught him, the investigators, and that's unfortunate. Robert Mueller is an American hero, Donald Trump is not.
BLITZER: All of a sudden, the president's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, telling CNN that he doesn't know if collusion with Russians is even a crime. What do you think of this new line?
COHEN: Well, I think they're getting closer to knowing that the truth is going to come out, that there was activities with Trump campaign in Russia and releasing the hakes and guiding them to the states and localities where they came from. Some of that was Jared Kushner's responsibilities, some was Donald Jr. I think you're going to see indictments of both of those people.
BLITZER: Actual indictments from Mueller, specifically against who?
COHEN: Against Donald Jr and against Jared Kushner.
BLITZER: You think both of them are going to be indicted by Mueller?
[13:45:04] COHEN: I think that's entirely possible and I think the president is going to go totally off his rocker, not that he's on it now, and then issue pardons.
BLITZER: What kind of charges could be leveled?
COHEN: Well, I think they were probably the people that were in connection with the Russians and in conspiracy to affect the elections.
BLITZER: But do you have specific evidence that --
BLITZER: It's a very serious charge.
COHEN: It's a serious charge, Wolf. Time will show whether I'm correct or not. I believe I am correct. If you see it, as we said before, if it walks like a duck, if it swims like a duck and if it quacks like a duck, it's a duck. You can see where it's going.
BLITZER: Let me finally get your reaction to the president's threat about the most recent tweet over the weekend to shut down the federal government, presumably before the midterm elections. He says it will be the Democrats' fault for not fully funding a border wall with Mexico. What do you think of this threat?
COHEN: You know, I think if Mexico doesn't pay for the wall, then maybe we shouldn't have a wall. The whole campaign -- this is a campaign pledge -- was Mexico will pay for the wall. And the threat to close down the government is childish. It's mishagosh.
BLITZER: So is there going to be a government shutdown do you think?
COHEN: No. The Republicans won't allow it to happen because it will hurt them at the ballot box and it's a political mistake. I voted to open the government twice because people don't want government shutdown.
BLITZER: Congressman Steve Cohen, thanks for joining us.
COHEN: Wolf, I saw "Mission Impossible." They could have picked Lester Holt. They could have picked Anderson Cooper --
BLITZER: OK. Don't give it away.
COHEN: They picked the wolf man.
BLITZER: Don't give it away.
COHEN: They picked you.
BLITZER: Thank you very much. Thank you.
I recommend people go see the new "Mission Impossible." Very good film.
All right, Congressman. Thanks very much for that.
A reminder, we're just minutes away from the president taking questions from reporters. Stand by for that. Looking at a live picture of the West Wing of the White House.
Also, outrage after a cruise ship worker shoots and kills a polar bear. You're going to hear what happened.
And hundreds of tourists and hikers trapped on top of a volcano after an earthquake. We'll take you there.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [13:51:52] BLITZER: Hundreds of people are trapped on a volcano after a deadly earthquake. A cruise line employee kills a polar bar sparking outrage. And one of South Korea's biggest pop stars takes on President Trump and Kim Jong-Un. We are following lots of stories from around the world.
CNN's Bianca Nobilo is tracking all of them for us from London.
Update our viewers, Bianca.
BIANCE NOBILO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf. Starting in Norway, the northernmost island between Norway and the North Pole, a polar bear was shot and killed by a polar bear guard from a cruise ship. Polar bears are listed as a vulnerable species. There's estimated to be between 21,000 and 31,000 of them left still living in the world. There's outrage about this incident. These guards are hired to survey the islands around Norway before passengers visit them to make sure there are no polar bears around. They missed one. The polar bear attacked the guard and the polar bear was shot. The statement from the German cruise company reads, "The incident occurred when the four- person polar bear guard team prepared for shore leave. There had to be an intervention for self-defense. We are extremely sorry this incident happened." As you can imagine, there has been an outcry from people as well as conservationists about the incident.
Next to another story about a popular tourist site, a mount in Indonesia, where nearly 700 people are trapped. It is a popular hiking destination. This is following a 6.4 magnitude earthquake that hit Indonesia on Sunday. At least 14 people have died, 162 are injured.
Lastly, Wolf,, moving to East Asia, where a South Korean pop star has taken on the U.S./North Korea summit in Singapore in his music video. Li Sin Kuhn's (ph) video "Where Are You From" has gone viral with over three million views last time I checked. It makes sense because it's one of the biggest events of the year. The video sees the pop star dancing and drinking champagne with rather dubious Kim Jong-Un and President Trump look-alikes. It is worth a watch.
Those are your international news stories for you, Wolf. Back to you.
[13:54:05] BLITZER: Bianca, thank you. Bianca Nobilo, in London for us. I'll check out that video.
Moments from now, here in Washington, the president of the United States will be taking questions from reporters amid his latest attacks on Robert Mueller and the news media, and 14 days since his controversial summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Stand by. We are about to go to the East Room of the White House for live coverage.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: Hello. I'm Wolf Blitzer, in Washington. I want to welcome our viewers here in the United States and around the world. This is CNN's special live coverage.
In only moments, the president of the United States will go before reporters alongside one of his new top allies in Europe. The president will be joined by the new Italian prime minister, Giuseppe Conte, who is a fellow populist who has been cracking down on immigration in Italy and showing some support for some serious dialogue with Russia's Vladimir Putin.
As President Trump build his ties abroad, he tries to do so, he continues to try and tear down the credibility of Robert Mueller, the special counsel, and his team here this Washington. The president just made his most personal attack yet against the special counsel. At the same time, President Trump is rallying his party with talks of a potential government shutdown in the coming weeks.
While we wait for the two leaders to speak, let's get straight to our senior White House correspondent, Jeff Zeleny. He's already in the East Room over the White House.
Jeff, do you think reporters --