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Trump to Name Supreme Court Pick; Trump-Putin Summit; Hundreds of Puerto Rican Hurricane Survivors to Lose Housing Assistance; Thailand Cave Search; Bali Airport Reopens after Volcano Eruption; CNN Summits Mt. Everest. Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired June 30, 2018 - 00:00   ET

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


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GEORGE HOWELL, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): New details from the White House on the upcoming summit between President Trump and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin.

Also, Thailand's efforts to rescue 12 teens and their football coach, trapped in a cave continues.

Puerto Rico, survivors of the hurricane will be evicted from their homes in the coming hours.

Welcome to our viewers around the world, I'm George Howell. The CNN NEWSROOM starts now.

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HOWELL: Around the world, good day to you.

President Trump says that he has five people in mind for the U.S. Supreme Court, including two women. Donald Trump is expected to interview one or two over the weekend as he says that he will announced his choice on July 9th.

That is just 10 days from now. And shortly before Mr. Trump goes to Helsinki, Finland, for his first summit with the Russian President Vladimir Putin. CNN's Boris Sanchez explains it all for you.

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BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: President Trump making headlines on a number of topics during a short gaggle with reporters on his way to Bedminster, New Jersey, for the weekend, notably talking about a possible replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced earlier this week he's retiring from the Supreme Court.

The president saying that he has whittled down a list of 25 names to a possible five candidates, two of them including women. The president also making news saying that he plans to interview one or two of these possible candidates over the weekend here in Bedminster. But among the topics of conversation, their stance on abortion will

not be discussed. President Trump saying he'll not ask these possible candidates their stance on Roe v. Wade, a very controversial issue, one that Justice Anthony Kennedy was previously known for creating a lot of controversy over.

Here's more from President Trump on what he plans to talk to these candidates about.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you looking for somebody who would overturn Roe v. Wade?

TRUMP: Well, you know, it's a great group of intellectual talent but we really, you know, they are generally conservative. I'm not going to ask them that question, by the way. That's not a question I'll be asking. But it is a group of very highly talented, very brilliant, mostly conservative judges.

SANCHEZ: President Trump also saying he does not plan to ask these possible candidates about their stance on LGBT issues.

The president also made news on several other fronts, including suggesting that he plans to talk to Vladimir Putin about election meddling, telling reporters there should not be election meddling anywhere in the world.

There has been some discussion previously, even among those in his own party, that President Trump has been weak when it comes to confronting Vladimir Putin over this. In previous meetings, the president seeming to accept Putin's version of events and denials, saying Russia had nothing to do with meddling in the 2016 election.

Just on Friday, the president tweeted that assertion before pivoting to attacks on Democrats, the FBI and his own Department of Justice. Lastly the president also made news on the topic of his chief of staff, John Kelly, and reports that Kelly was planning to leave the White House as early as the end of summer.

The president suggesting that he did not know anything about those reports and that they were fake news.

However, sources have told CNN previously that President Trump has been talking to allies and advisers, polling them on possible replacements over the course of the last few months.

So we know from those sources that this, in fact, has been something on the president's radar for some time -- Boris Sanchez, CNN, traveling with the president near Bedminster, New Jersey.

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HOWELL: Boris, thank you for the reporting.

Now let's bring in Michael Genovese to talk more about this. Michael, in Los Angeles, the author of "How Trump Governs" and president of the Global Policy Institute at Loyola Marymount University. A pleasure to have you on the show with us.

MICHAEL GENOVESE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Thank you.

HOWELL: Boris set it all up. Let's talk about President Trump indicating that he does not plan to ask these judges about Roe v. Wade nor their thoughts about LGBT rights. Those are the words he is using. But given that we have seen him say one thing and do the complete opposite so many times, do you take him at these words?

GENOVESE: He does not really need to confront these potential nominees, asking those questions. All of them have a track record; we know where most of them stand. They have spoken in public; they've written about these things. They've done law review articles.

So they have already been vetted by the Federalist Society. And so I think the president, who has had them on his list for several --

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GENOVESE: -- months now, knows these people well enough, knows what they stand for.

They are all solid conservatives, mostly hard right conservatives, mostly males, mostly white males although we hear there are two women on the final list and it may even be politically wise for him to select a woman, especially given the controversy over the question of abortion and abortion rights. This might dull that a bit.

HOWELL: Help our viewers to understand the greater significance of not only this new opening for President Trump to fill the courts but also the president's impact on the lower courts since his tenure, because he's been very aggressive about filling these open seats with conservative judges.

GENOVESE: He has not only been aggressive, he's been successful. I think this is one of the areas where the conservatives who held their nose and voted for Trump because of the courts are very, very pleased. They've been rewarded. The president has been going gung ho on nominating and getting approved a number of federal and appellate court justices and now a second Supreme Court justice.

That means his legacy will last long beyond his term in office. He'll have an impact over the understanding of American law for 30 years, if not more.

HOWELL: OK, Michael, let's shift now and talk about Mr. Trump's upcoming meeting with the Russian president, Vladimir Putin. In this case, the president says he plans to talk about election meddling when they meet in July.

The question, though, will he challenge Putin?

Or again concede to Russia's denial on it all?

GENOVESE: Well, you know, it's been a mystery, this bromance renewed. The president is very willing to criticize both behind the scenes and in public our allies and G7 allies but not Putin.

Somehow he just will -- it's a bromance that he will not broach in public. And so you wonder why in private he will not say anything. In effect, the president has been handing to Putin what he wants policy wise: the undermining of NATO, the undermining of our alliance, the weakening of the United States and Europe.

That's what Putin has wanted. So it's hard to imagine the president very aggressively confronting Putin when he has been such a lamb in terms of his treatment of Putin thus far.

HOWELL: Michael, let's get your thoughts on what Mr. Trump said about Crimea. Let's listen.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your meeting with President Putin when you're in Europe, will you talk to him about Crimea?

TRUMP: I will talk to him about everything. Don't forget, President Obama gave up Crimea. That was totally given up by President Obama.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: President Putin did that, not President Obama.

TRUMP: No, no, President Obama gave it up.

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HOWELL: Michael, rather than blaming Putin for invading and annexing Crimea, Mr. Trump placed the blame on his predecessor, Barack Obama, for, as he put it, "giving it up."

GENOVESE: Again, amazing. You focus on Obama and find anything to blame him for. And you let Putin off the hook.

Putin is the one who interfered with our elections. Putin is the one who, in fact, who did invade the Ukraine, stole NATO territory and has caused all these problems. So Putin is the one we should be focusing on. He is the source of our troubles, not Barack Obama.

That was then and this is now.

How do you deal right now with a president in the form of Putin, who is working against American interests?

And why isn't our president confronting him more aggressively?

HOWELL: Michael Genovese, thank you so much for your time and perspective.

GENOVESE: Thank you.

HOWELL: And what could be called a mile-high security breach, when a comedian posing as a U.S. senator said he got President Trump on to call him back from Air Force One. That comedian's name, John Melendez, also known as Stuttering John on the Howard Stern radio show.

He posed as Senator Bob Menendez, a Democrat from New Jersey, and got a message to the president that he wanted to chat -- and chat they did. Listen.

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TRUMP: Hi, Bob.

JOHN MELENDEZ, COMEDIAN: Hey, how are you?

TRUMP: How are you?

Congratulations on everything, we're proud of you. Congratulations. Great job. You went through a tough, tough situation and I don't think a very fair situation.

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HOWELL: The White House officially offered a little insight into how this prank call from Stuttering John happened.

The official said this, "The president wants to be accessible to members and likes engaging with them and wants them to have the opportunity to connect. The downside of that is that sometimes the channels are open too widely and mistakes like this happen."

And in Maryland on Friday, remembering the victims of a deadly shooting.

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HOWELL (voice-over): Tears and prayers at the vigil for the five people killed at the "Capital Gazette" newspaper in Annapolis. Hundreds of mourners united in grief remembering those that were gunned down as they did their jobs.

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HOWELL: Outside the office building where the paper is located, a makeshift memorial. Also Friday, the suspect appeared in court, as we learn more details about the shooting. Our Tom Foreman has more for us.

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TIMOTHY ALTOMARE, ANNE ARUNDEL POLICE CHIEF: The fellow was there to kill as many people as he could.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The attack was planned, the newspaper a specific target, the weapon a pump-action shotgun. That's what police said even as the suspect, Jarrod Ramos, was denied bail on five counts of first-degree murder.

President Trump, a frequent and harsh critic of the media, weighed in too.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Journalists, like all Americans, should be free from the fear of being violently attacked while doing their job.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The glass shattered. I turned around to see it.

FOREMAN: But amid recollections of the horror, police and folks at the paper are also sharing stories of that 38-year-old man's apparently simmering rage and years of warning signs.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was going down our newsroom, starting from the front. And the -- yes, just continually shooting people.

FOREMAN: People at the paper say it started when "The Capital Gazette" covered a criminal harassment claim against him by a woman in 2011. He was convicted and tried to sue the newspaper for defamation.

After a relentless campaign to keep his claim active, it was thrown out, but, by 2013, police say he was routinely raging online against the newspaper.

TOM MARQUARDT, FORMER EDITOR AND PUBLISHER, "THE CAPITAL GAZETTE": I alerted my staff to call 911 if anybody resembling him came into the room.

FOREMAN: Threats, hints of violence, furious obscenities.

ALTOMARE: You have all looked at the social media platforms. There's clearly a history there.

FOREMAN: Detectives had talked to the newspaper staff, but:

ALTOMARE: "The Capital Gazette" did not wish to pursue criminal charges. There was a fear that doing so would exacerbate an already flammable situation.

FOREMAN: And yet police say he bought a shotgun anyway, legally purchased about a year ago. And that's what he used to storm through the open newsroom, where some escaped, some hid and one was shot trying to open a door the alleged shooter had barricaded.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The person is still shooting.

FOREMAN: When police found the suspected gunman, he was hiding under a desk.

Intern Anthony Messenger describes the scene.

ANTHONY MESSENGER, SURVIVOR: There's chaos. The office was kind of in shambles. Unfortunately, we saw -- we had to pass two bodies of our colleagues, which was something that nobody should have to stomach.

FOREMAN: Now, amid questions of how all of that played out begins the long morning by families and friends of the victims. Robert Hiaasen, assistant editor and columnist, known as Big Rob, not just because he was tall.

CARL HIAASEN, BROTHER OF VICTIM: He was just this big, generous, gentle guy.

FOREMAN: Gerald Fischman, editorial page editor, quiet, reserved, with an encyclopedia knowledge of everything.

John McNamara loved sports and history, a jack of all trades and a fantastic person.

Rebecca Smith, sales assistant, kind and considerate and willing to help.

And Wendi Winters, editor, reporter and columnist, her life was a gift to everyone who knew her.

Despite their grief, the surviving staff is doing what journalists do, reporting on what happened, with one big difference. The first editorial page after the shooting was blank.

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HOWELL: Tom Foreman with the report, thank you, Tom.

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HOWELL (voice-over): We have the very latest on another very serious situation playing out, it's an effort to rescue 12 Thai teens and their football coach. What authorities are doing to make sure they can survive while being trapped in the cave.

Plus Some in Puerto Rico, who have lost everything, lost their homes, they are now being forced from temporary housing.

What is next for these hurricane survivors?

Stay with us.

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HOWELL: Welcome back to CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell.

For the past 10 months, survivors of Puerto Rico's deadly hurricanes have faced an uncertain future and now nearly 1,800 are struggling once again. On Saturday, they will be evicted from the hotels that they have been take staying in. That's where they have been staying rent free. Designed for about two weeks, this was a program that had been

extended repeatedly but the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it's ending, after thousands who used it found permanent housing.

That leaves those remaining scrambling and hundreds will end up in homeless shelters.

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HOWELL: Let talk more about this now with Jennice Fuentes, Jennice a Democratic strategist, joining this hour from Washington.

A pleasure to have you on the show with us today. Let's start by talking about the situation, because, look, there's people all around the United States who have been relying on FEMA for transitional shelter.

They will be forced to leave their hotels; at best, they can reportedly get counseling and then maybe a one- way ticket back to Puerto Rico, your thoughts?

I know, -- it adds insult to injury to this more than 1,600 families, all U.S. citizens because it's important that our audience watching understands that Puerto Ricans are born U.S. citizens.

In this case, the refugees of Hurricane Maria, a category 5 hurricane that destroyed the island from coast to coast, where the grid failed and where, even today, nine months out, there's still not reliable electricity throughout the island.

And there's entire communities, 10 percent of the population still does not have electricity or access to reliable electricity in the entire island. So the 1,600 families that are in different parts of the United States are being let down by FEMA and the U.S. government because they are U.S. citizens.

They should get no different treatment than if the tragedy occurred in Texas or in Puerto Rico, where it did happen.

HOWELL: Let press forward on that a bit more. We have seen house Democrats sending letters to FEMA, pressing the administrator, Brock Long, on why the agency has not established a disaster housing assistance program, that essentially provides temporary housing vouchers to hurricane victims to extend beyond this deadline.

Keeping in mind, FEMA denied the island's governor a similar request for the same program.

FUENTES: Exactly. I think it's an interesting question for FEMA to answer. HUD and FEMA collaborate together on that. And remember, George, these are people who have really had to flee. They have been traumatized already once.

And then twice by having to live in a hotel for months to no end and now what a horrible weekend is this, not knowing, where are you going to sleep after tomorrow night? And all you want, when you are a refugee of any kind is to have stability and to be able to provide a roof over your shoulder and your head, to you and your kids, especially with kids that have disabilities, kids who have been traumatized.

So everyone wants stability and that was the little comfort that FEMA ,working together with HUD, could provide the 1,600 families who we're talking about at least 3,000 people.

HOWELL: Democratic senator Bill Nelson also pushed for an extension of Florida. He pushed for an extension but the move was blocked by his Republican counterpart, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin.

But this does play into the optics that you talk about here. The government offering more time and more support for survivors of other storms, like Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, and less support, less time for victims from Puerto Rico, which is a U.S. territory.

FUENTES: Absolutely. I think you raise a very good point. In Texas, for example, those U.S. citizens in Texas benefitted beyond nine months. By statute, I believe it's 16 months and they did an extension over 24 months. They had this assistance.

If you look at the facts in terms of from meals provided, from water, from tarps, from personnel, from helicopters, from presidential tweets, from presidential visits. There's a very, very big contrast between the attention that this administration has paid to Puerto Rico and the U.S. citizens --

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FUENTES: -- that live there and the people that lived in Texas, after Katrina, Rita and Harvey.

So the facts speak for themselves. And I think I'd like my country to do better. I'm a U.S. citizen, like all Puerto Ricans.

Why aren't we taking care of Puerto Ricans, of U.S. citizens, the way we're taking care of other U.S. citizens in different states?

It puzzles me and it really is a letdown.

HOWELL: Jennice Fuentes, we appreciate your time and perspective. Thank you.

FUENTES: Thank you, George.

HOWELL: It's been one week now since 12 boys and their football coach went missing in Thailand and rescue teams are not giving up at this point. They are scouring the jungle now to look for other ways into a cave system where it's believed that the team members are trapped.

Rescuers are trying to drill into the mountain and they have been able to rappel down a shaft. They have also dropped food and water, hoping the boys and their coach will find these packages.

Let's bring in CNN's New Delhi bureau chief, Nikhil Kumar, who is following the story live in New Delhi.

Nikhil, is there any new information about these rescuers?

Are they optimistic that these new points of entry that they found into the cave system?

NIKHIL KUMAR, CNN NEW DELHI BUREAU CHIEF: Well, George, as you say, the rescuers are still looking for these 12 boys and their football coach. Yesterday, a team managed to rappel 40 feet down a shaft and they are trying to enter the cave complex.

The context is that this area is witnessing some heavy rainfall, that's blocked the regular entrances to the cave complex. So they are exploring possibly drilling to enter the caves from the top as opposed to entering from the regular entrances.

And in fact, pumps that are normally used to help deal with flood water in Bangkok have been brought up to help with the rescue operation. The operations themselves have, over the last week, become really quite broad, more than 1,000 personnel, most of them Thai but also teams from the U.S. military and some British cave experts are now involved in trying to locate the soccer team.

Twelve boys, aged from 11, sorry, to 16 and their coach, who was 25 years old who went missing exactly a week ago last Saturday.

The prime minister of Thailand visited the area earlier in the week. And the entire country has been gripped by these rescue operations, by the search for these boys so much so, that Thailand's mental health ministry has issued an advisory, warning people to be careful about watching the covering, which is really around the clock in the local media.

They have said that, people should be careful not to watch too much, lest they become "overly obsessed" with what is going on. They recommend that people do not watch more than an hour of the coverage at a time.

That gives you a sense of how the entire country is really just waiting for news and watching closely for any development in this search and rescue operation that is now coming on for a week, since last Saturday -- George.

HOWELL: Surely everyone is hoping they have success in this, Nikhil Kumar, thank you for the reporting. We will stay in touch with you.

Still ahead here, a dangerous volcanic ash cloud filled the sky over Bali, what that meant for thousands of tourists, trying to get home, wow.

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(MUSIC PLAYING) HOWELL: The international airport --

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HOWELL: -- in Bali is open once again after the dangerous volcanic ash that you see there, grounded more than 300 flights on Friday. One of Bali's most active volcanoes sent a huge plume of ash into the sky. The particles can enter a jet engine and cause it to fail.

A change of wind made it possible for the planes to take off again. In this distance, you can see which direction the cloud of ash is headed. Thousands of passengers have been grounded on the popular tourist island.

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HOWELL: Now to Mt. Everest, the world's tallest mountain, a record number of people have reached the summit in 2018 and more than 8,000 above sea level. But every journey to the so-called roof of the world, those journeys are personal. Climbers face weeks of danger and discomfort.

CNN followed two British adventurers, Ben Fogle and Victoria Pendleton, on their dramatic expedition. And you can see "The Challenge: Everest" in three different parts, airing today exclusively on this network at 8:30 pm Hong Kong, 1:30 pm in London, only here on CNN.

We thank you for watching this edition of CNN NEWSROOM. I'm George Howell at the CNN Center in Atlanta. "WORLD SPORT" is up next but first your world headlines after the break.