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Voters In Mexico Are Heading To The Polls Today; A Notorious Gangster Is On The Run Again; The U.S. Supreme Court Showdown; Aired 2-3p ET

Aired July 1, 2018 - 14:00   ET

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


[14:00:00] ZAKARIA: -- to the middle kingdom. While efforts to eliminate plastic straws and ban plastic bags are noteworthy in order to counter the millions of tons of waste piling up around the world, more initiatives to drastically reduce and manage waste will surely be needed.

Thanks to all of you for being part of my program this week. I will see you next week.

FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Thank you so much for joining me. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C.

Up first, the U.S. Supreme Court showdown. President Trump is about to head back to the White House from his golf club in New Jersey where he spent part of the weekend interviewing possible U.S. Supreme Court candidates. Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement just a few days ago, but President Trump has already jumped into action saying he'll announce his new pick one week from tomorrow.

This decision has the power to transform the Supreme Court for generations and the looming nomination battle is already igniting a firestorm on Capitol Hill. Republican Senator Susan Collins will be a key vote for the president. She met with Trump to discuss the vacancy and listen to what she told him.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I also encouraged the president to broaden his list beyond the list of 25 potential nominees that has been public for some time.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST, STATE OF THE UNION: Are you comfortable with everyone on that list?

COLLINS: No, I am not. Now some of the people on the list I have not vetted at all at this point. One of them I voted against years ago, and I would have to do a great deal more work on many of them.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. Let's check in with CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez live in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, near where the president has been.

So what can you tell us about where the president is in this process?

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred. At this point, the White House has only confirmed that President Trump has had some conversations with close allies and advisers, including White House counsel Don McGahn this weekend over this confirmation process. But they would not answer our questions when it comes to updating the status of those one or two interviews that President Trump told reporters on Friday that he was hoping to get done this weekend. So we don't know if he's actually had conversations with these potential nominees.

One of the issues that will likely come up during this nomination process is abortion, specifically because key Republican votes like that of Susan Collins may come down to a nominee's position on "Roe versus Wade." Now Collins told Jake Tapper that during that meeting with President Trump last week, she asked him to pick a nominee that respected precedent. She says it's part of the reason that she supported the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch because the two of them had a conversation in which he expressed his respect for legal precedent.

Now other lawmakers, like Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, are suggesting that lawmakers should be more skeptical this time around. Listen to Tammy Duckworth also on "STATE OF THE UNION" with Jake Tapper this morning.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TAMMY DUCKWORTH (D), ILLINOIS: I would say to my colleagues who have shown some real bravely, both Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski have shown me some incredible bravery in these last -- my first couple of years in the Senate, to don't just trust that what somebody says to you in a conversation trying to get your vote is what's going to happen on the Supreme Court.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

SANCHEZ: Fred, I did want to note President Trump took part in an interview this morning in which he said that he hoped that this would be a quick process, but he did said he believed it would be vicious -- Fred.

WHITFIELD: Oh, boy. OK. Well, that's quite the warning shot, isn't it?

All right. Boris Sanchez, thank you so much.

All right. Let's talk about all of this now. Joining me is CNN political analyst Karoun Demerjian and CNN legal analyst and Supreme Court biographer, Joan Bescupic.

All right. Good to see you both, ladies. All right. So Karoun, you first. Trump has said this decision will come or at least a name will rise to the top one week from tomorrow. We heard Senator Collins who says she wants a longer list. Will the president take her advice? KAROUN DEMERJIAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right now it doesn't look

that likely. Although, I mean, look, the president has not been listening to Susan Collins for queues about how to staff the Supreme Court or really anything else in the last year and a half that he's been in office. So Susan Collins we see and those like her have a week to try to make as much noise as possible and kind of set what their parameters are before the rest of the Republican Party, led by the president, tries to squeeze them to vote for whoever he puts out there. She's been pretty clear that she doesn't want to support a candidate or a potential justice who would overturn "Roe v. Wade," but basically everybody on that list seems inclined to basically do that.

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: But her support is important. Hers and Murkowski.

DEMERJIAN: Hers and Murkowski's support is vital unless the White House can convince some of the very vulnerable Democrats who are in very Trump-loving states to side with that pick as well. So there's basically it's Murkowski and Collins, and people like Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, and Heidi Heitkamp.

[14:05:06] You will just see the entire spotlight in the next few months focused on those five people, maybe a sixth or a seventh, but that's really who the whole game is about and how much they can convince people that these people that -- you know, any pick may not do what they're soon inclined to do based on considerable credentials. It's going to be the game that happens now.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

DEMERJIAN: And the political pressure is a huge part of that.

WHITFIELD: And Joan, we're at this point because Justice Kennedy made a very conscientious decision to say I'm retiring right now at 81. He walked -- he went to the White House and he actually hand-delivered his, you know, retirement. He also had a conversation with the president. Might he have given a little advice on who he wants his successor to look like or, you know, what credentials that person would have?

JOAN BESKUPIC, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, it was unusual for the retiring justice to go personally to the White House. Usually a letter is sent, delivered by some sort of courier. But this time it was Anthony Kennedy going to talk to Donald Trump.

You remember that he had been in the Rose Garden within Donald Trump in April of 2017 when Neil Gorsuch, his former law clerk, became the first Trump appointee. So they had a little bit of a rapport. And I know from talking to other justices that Anthony Kennedy has had conversations with the president about his larger views. I don't think he would have said, please pick this individual or that individual, because he's got two former clerks who are on what appears to be the short list right now.

WHITFIELD: Yes. BESCUPIC: Brett Kavanaugh and Raymond Kethledge, both U.S. appeals

court judges. I doubt that he would have said pick them, but I think he would have tried to communicate what's important to him. And one thing I want to say about Boris' lead-in about, you know, precedent and Susan Collins being --

WHITFIELD: Yes.

BESCUPIC: You know, listening to Neil Gorsuch and voting for him and three of the red state Democrats that Karoun just mentioned also voted for Neil Gorsuch, but this week that we're just finishing up.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

BESCUPIC: Five of the conservatives voted to overturn precedent in a big labor union case. So there's a difference between adhering to precedent all the time and maybe some of the time. But I think that Anthony Kennedy's going to probably try to stay close to this process, but I think like Susan Collins, they will be on the fringe of this whole thing where it will come down to people like White House counsel Don McGahn and the president himself.

WHITFIELD: Does it seem like this is happening at a rather rapid speed? The president saying, you know, a week from tomorrow and then Mitch McConnell, you know, who's saying this needs to happen before midterms, and Democrats are saying we want to, you know, take the lead of Mitch McConnell in delaying, you know, a vote. That's not going to happen before midterms, likely, right?

DEMERJIAN: You can't. Right? I mean, this is the thing. Yes, it's fast to say a week from the -- a little bit more than a week, I guess, all told from the retirement to actually naming a new person. But they've taken about two months to do this in the past. Right? And that's about how much time they have before we get to the end of the fiscal year when Democrats who have no ability to actually block the Supreme Court nominee do have the ability to shut down the government if it comes to that. Right?

That's their one political leverage at September 30th. The new session starts again in October. You do actually have a calendar that's putting some pressure on this situation. Yes, it's quick, and this is kind of falling into exactly what has been the number one priority for the GOP and the Senate. Mitch McConnell said putting new justices on the courts.

WHITFIELD: They had a list long ago, maybe even whittled it down for this opportunity.

(CROSSTALK)

BESCUPIC: This is what's interesting. Just -- I have to say, this is taken -- you know, this is out of the playbook of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. They were actually very fast.

DEMERJIAN: Yes. BESCUPIC: This is where President Trump has been incredibly

successful in terms of stocking the lower court, putting people on deck. And even, for example, when Thurgood Marshall said he was going to resign at the end of June in 1991, Clarence Thomas was named over -- if I remember right, over Independence Day weekend. You know, so, Republicans want to move fast on this. And this list that I know you -- actually it was just up on the screen, those are people who have been vetted so much already by Don McGahn and the White House Counsel's Office. So they're -- people have -- it's been narrowed.

And I think the key thing we're going to want to see, and Boris and our White House folks will know about this is who actually will then meet with the president? They all won't meet with the president.

WHITFIELD: And while the president says he's not going to talk about a nominee, about cases, what else would they talk about? What's going to be that dynamic, that thing that encourages the president to say this is going to be my guy or my gal?

BESCUPIC: OK. I can just tell you from experience, you know, knowing what happened, you know, with prior presidents, is they talk both small things, small talk, about baseball, about, you know, things that they might have in common in terms of past times. And then big, overarching views. The president has said that --

WHITFIELD: So a personal connection?

BESCUPIC: Yes. Do I like you? I cannot tell you how important that is. In fact, 1993 when Bill Clinton ended up with Ruth Bader Ginsburg, it was in part because the chemistry felt right between the president and then-Judge Ginsburg.

[14:10:09] WHITFIELD: As oppose to case history.

BESCUPIC: No. And also just earlier in that selection cycle he had interviewed Stephen Breyer, who had just had a bicycle accident, was not feeling well, and he decided not to go with him. He ended up going with him then in 1994. But chemistry is what got Neil Gorsuch the job. And it could get this new person the job.

DEMERJIAN: And the president is not a constitutional law scholar. He said, I want somebody with an impressive resume. It seems he's also looking for somebody who looks strong, not weak, and he's focused -- at least from our reporting focused on, you know, somebody that's going to respect the intent of the frameworks of the Constitution. Those are kind of buzzword-type phrases, but they do matter for the overall general impression of the president.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

DEMERJIAN: Like being able to trot somebody out.

WHITFIELD: Yes.

DEMERJIAN: Who's going to be pretty young compared to other people on that bench who's trying to -- WHITFIELD: Yes, the president said 40 years. Looking at somebody who

could be on that bench for 40 years.

DEMERJIAN: Right. Exactly. And the president likes to talk about IQs and degrees and things like that.

WHITFIELD: Right.

DEMERJIAN: And so this is another opportunity for him to say, if I have an impressive person, that reflects well on me. And so that's -- they have --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: So that jurist has to sell themselves. This is a job interview.

BESCUPIC: Well, that's -- I don't know if you remember on January 31st when President Trump unveiled Neil Gorsuch, he talked about his Harvard Law degree, he talked about him being an Oxford scholar, you know, a Marshall scholar. He wanted to tout those things.

WHITFIELD: Interesting. All right.

BESCUPIC: Yes.

WHITFIELD: Karoun, Joan, thank you so much, ladies. Appreciate it.

All right. Now to this breaking story. Police in Boise, Idaho, are trying to determine what motivated a gruesome stabbing attack that injured several people, most of them children. It happened last night at an apartment complex that houses refugees. Police say the victims suffered serious injury, some life threatening. Police have arrested this man, 30-year-old Timmy Kinner.

Polo Sandoval joining me now with more details on all of this -- Polo.

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Fred, important to note that Kinner is not a refugee himself here so investigators are still questioning him right now after charging him. He's expected to be back in court Monday. In the meantime here's what we know about what took place last night. Police called to that apartment complex in Boise to report of stabbing. Found nine had been injured, as you mentioned many of them children. Six of them. Four of them did receive life- threatening injuries.

Important to point out, some of the people who were injured are refugees themselves. We do know that this man is now in custody. He is a 30-year-old from Los Angeles. Authorities as we mentioned are interviewing him as we speak. He was asked to leave this apartment complex on Friday, where he was apparently a temporary resident. Then 24 hours later, this horrible scene played out here. Many of the members of the community there in Boise are speaking out, including local community leaders, the mayor for example, Mayor Dave Peter.

I want to read you a tweet that he posted early this morning when these reports started spreading throughout the community. The mayor tweeting, quote, "Last night's horrific attack does not represent Boise. Please join me in praying for the injured and their families. We must come together to condemn this vile act."

Police have never seen anything like this either, Fred. They have never worked a case involving so many victims in one single incident here. So certainly police are gathering all the details. We expect to hear from them in the next 45 minutes or so for the latest update as we try to find an answer to that key question what was the motive, what led this 30-year-old man to allegedly unleash this wave of violence on these people at this apartment complex.

WHITFIELD: And so many children victimized here. All right. Thank you so much. Polo Sandoval, appreciate that.

All right. Still ahead, is North Korea backing off its pledge to fully denuclearize? The new concerns the rogue nation may actually be attempting to hide its nuclear stockpile less than a month after Kim Jong-un's historic meeting with President Trump.

And a daring prison escape by a gangster. This one straight out of a Hollywood movie. It involves the hijacked helicopter as well. And it's not this person's first prison break.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:18:13] WHITFIELD: All right. Welcome back. There are growing concerns North Korea has no intention of giving up its full nuclear stockpile. "The Washington Post" reported that intelligence officials have concluded that North Korea is actually trying to find ways to obscure how many weapons it actually has and even hide some of its nuclear production facilities. Following last month's Singapore summit, President Trump claimed that he had reached a deal with North Korea and its nuclear threat had been eliminated.

Earlier today, White House National Security adviser John Bolton was asked about "The Washington Post" report.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: We're very well aware of North Korea's patterns of behavior over decades of negotiating with the United States. We know exactly what the risks are of them using negotiations to drag out the length of time they have to continue their nuclear, chemical, biological weapons programs and ballistic missiles.

The president would like to see these discussions move properly to get a resolution. This has been the advice that China's leader Xi Jinping has given us as well. So we're going to try and proceed to implement what the two leaders agreed to in Singapore. But rather than have a series of reports things are going better, things are not going well, they're concealing this, they're not concealing that, really it doesn't serve the purpose of advancing the negotiations.

But there's not any starry-eyed feeling among the group doing this that we're well, well aware of what the North Koreans have done in the past.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

WHITFIELD: All right. With me here is CNN's global affairs correspondent Elise Labott.

So it sounds as though he's also saying that many expected this to happen.

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: They did, Fred. I mean, listen, the U.S. intel community has a pretty good idea of what North Korea's nuclear facilities are.

[14:20:03] And that's why they want to get this declaration by the North Koreans to declare all their nuclear sites, how many weapons that they had. And I think only then they're going to know whether --

WHITFIELD: Is that going to happen? Why would that happen?

LABOTT: Well, I think that's when they're going to know whether North Korea is serious or not. And so that's why there's been this rush to kind of get negotiations going, get them to make a full nuclear declaration, and only then can negotiations begin and only then will the U.S. know whether North Korea is serious. But I don't think anybody is fooling themselves that North Korea is all of a sudden decided to stop and has stopped.

It's continuing this nuclear program right now, continues unabated. And of course it's trying to obscure until you know that those negotiations are going on. We won't know exactly how much they have.

WHITFIELD: So "The Washington Post" reporting says that there an estimated -- it's estimated 65 warheads. Does that sound realistic?

LABOTT: That's what I think the U.S. thinks. Of course, there could be more if they're hidden. But, you know, North Korea always says it has a lot less. And so if they're going to come and say, oh, we have 30, we have 40, the U.S. is going to know that it's not negotiating in good faith and that it really remains to be seen whether a deal can be struck.

WHITFIELD: So where's the leverage? What's potentially next?

LABOTT: Well, I mean --

WHITFIELD: The ball is in North Korea's court?

LABOTT: The ball is in North Korea's court. Negotiations haven't really started in earnest. We understand that Sung Kim, the U.S. envoy that's been dealing with North Korea, has been meeting with North Korean officials even as recently as this weekend. But we don't know how -- what those talks produced and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he's going to go there in the not-too-distant future.

There are some reports from Korea, not confirmed yet, that he might be taking a trip there in the next week or two. And so he'll be able to, I think, know whether those negotiations are going to go on.

WHITFIELD: All right. Elise Labott, thank you so much.

All right. Still ahead, a day after nationwide marches against family separations at the border and President Trump warns Democrats that taking on ICE is a losing issue. Are Democrats playing into the president's narrative that they are anti-law enforcement? I'll ask Democratic Senator Ted Lieu next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:26:46] WHITFIELD: President Trump is preparing for what's sure to be a consequential next couple of weeks that includes the ongoing negotiations with North Korea -- nuclear North Korea and his one-on- one meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin.

This as Trump weighs nominees for U.S. Supreme Court following Justice Anthony Kennedy's retirement. All of that as the White House deals with the fallout from tens of thousands of people marching across the country this weekend, protesting the White House's zero tolerance immigration policy.

Joining me right now, Democratic congressman and member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Ted Lieu. All right.

Good to see you, Congressman. Let's start with this story in "The Washington Post" that North Korea is trying to hide its nuclear program. You actually re-tweeted that story to President Trump. Why?

REP. TED LIEU (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I want to make the president aware that North Korea appears to be backing off their commitments. I have served in active duty. And it was the 1990s under the U.S. Pacific Command. I've seen North Korea do this repeatedly. They will engage with the West then they will back out of their commitments. And this is a very disturbing story. It's showing that North Korea always intended to deceive our president.

They want to hide nuclear facilities and nuclear weapons. And another story says they're wrapping up nuclear fuel production. If these stories are true, then I call on the president to resume U.S. military readiness exercises.

WHITFIELD: So this is how the president's national security adviser sees it. Listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BOLTON: There's nobody involved in this discussion with North Korea in the administration who is overburdened by naivete. We've seen how the North Koreans have behaved before. The president has been very clear he's not going to make the mistakes of prior administrations. We're going to pursue this and we'll see what happens. That's I think what the next step in the discussions will be.

(END VIDEO CLIP) WHITFIELD: All right. So, Congressman, John Bolton acknowledges what you just acknowledged that, you know, perhaps they would go back on their word. But what does this mean when the national security adviser reiterates that today?

LIEU: Well, it means that the U.S. should not continue to stop U.S. military readiness exercises. Lots of times when we rotate people through Guam or South Korea or Japan, they're on one-year tours, maybe two-year tours. And to give up U.S. military exercises is a really big deal. It harms our military's ability to respond to any North Korean threat. So until we get confidence that North Korea is actually going to live up to their commitments, we shouldn't be stopping our military exercises.

WHITFIELD: I also want to get your thoughts now on that massive nationwide immigration protest that we saw this weekend. How do you think that turnout may potentially impact policy or even practice?

LIEU: So we've seen since Donald Trump got inaugurated last January there's been a number of large marches and protests because his administration is engaging in behavior and policies that the overwhelming majority of Americans do not support. And in Congress, we had the chance to reverse the child separation policy and to reunify families, but the Republican controlled Congress didn't do that. And in fact, they held a hearing, an emergency hearing on Hillary Clinton's e-mails. Then they skipped down for the July 4th. That is wrong.

WHITFIELD: Well --

LIEU: And that's where --

(CROSSTALK)

WHITFIELD: But do you think it will be -- but do you think it will be particularly eye-opening or can it potentially be eye-opening to see the kind of turnout across the country yesterday?

LIEU: It was phenomenal to see hundreds of thousands of people not just in large cities but in small cities and rural areas across America turning out to say we don't support ripping babies and kids away from their parents. No one should be able to support this.

And what's deeply troubling, as CNN has reported, the government never had a plan to reunify these families. That means there are young kids and infants who cannot identify their parents and may never be reunified. That is evil. It's the functional equivalent of kidnapping. And that's why you saw all this anger yesterday.

WHITFIELD: And so now on this issue of abolishing ICE, immigration and customs enforcement, it is senator Gillibrand and even senator Warren, you know, have been touting. Are you on board with that or do you see this as a potential mistake?

LIEU: So parts of ICE have gone far afield from their mission. ICE has a lot of missions. One of the missions, for example, is to stop child pornography, stop child sex trafficking, deal with counterfeit merchandise. A lot of those missions the American people have no problem with. But some of their folks have now ended up terrorizing communities.

So first of all, I have called on Secretary Nielsen to resign. I think the new ICE director needs to have a chance to change their policies. And if they don't, then yes, I would support abolishing those parts of ICE that do not meet America's commitments.

WHITFIELD: So ICE under homeland security. So I want to change subjects now because now we are talking about, you know, an available seat on the U.S. Supreme Court after Justice Kennedy retired. And the President is promising to name someone, a nominee, a week from tomorrow. Is that particularly quick to you? Do you think that is thoughtful enough? What are your impressions?

LIEU: Thank you, Fredricka, for that question. Let me quote from senate majority leader Mitch McConnell when he was looking at the Merrick Garland nomination. He stated that the American people deserve to have a voice for their next Supreme Court justice. I agree with that. So senator leader McConnell kept that nomination open for nearly a year. We have elections in less than five months this November. I think we should keep this nomination open until after a new Congress has been seated, give the American people a voice in the next Supreme Court justice.

WHITFIELD: Supporters of that decision that McConnell, you know, was arguing said that was a Presidential election year. The difference is this is midterms. Does that suffice?

LIEU: No, it does not, because again we have got less than five months before all of America decides to vote on the makeup of Congress, including the U.S. Senate, which has the right to confirm or not confirm the next Supreme Court justice.

WHITFIELD: All right, Congressman Ted Lieu, good to see you. Thank you so much.

LIEU: Thank you.

WHITFIELD: All right. Still ahead, Mexicans head to the polls to choose their next President. Could a Trump-like candidate rise to power there? The impact that could have on the future of U.S./Mexico relations, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:37:57] WHITFIELD: Welcome back. Voters in Mexico are heading to the polls today in a historic election that could potentially reshape that country. Their front runner for President is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He is a populist Trump-like candidate who vows to bring an end to the violence and corruption in his country. Thousands of other political seats are also up for grabs in the single biggest election in Mexico's history. This campaign season has been marred by violence with more than 130 politicians killed across the country.

CNN's Leyla Santiago is in Mexico City with more on today's elections.

So Leyla, what kind of turnout would be expected today?

LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We are actually seeing a pretty large turnout already. There are long lines at the polling locations. Already election officials are tweeting they might not actually have enough ballots at all of the polling locations. That's how large of a turnout they have already seen. Even some of the ballots that have been mailed in from the U.S. and across the world from Mexicans abroad, they are already seeing more than double the amount of ballots come in from the last major election here.

Now, this could be, as you mentioned, definitely a transformative election. There are hundreds of seats up for grabs. We are talking about mayors, governors, the Congress, both portions of the Congress here, as well as that big Presidential election that you mentioned, one that could really set a tone for what is next for Mexico.

As I have been talking to voters, they have told me from all across Mexico, really, as we were in Tijuana, all the way down south (INAUDIBLE), they have been telling me the two main issues for them is violence and corruption. Homicides are at an all-time high. The current President of Mexico has a remarkably low approval rating. So Mexico voters tell me they want change.

So that could really also change the dynamic between Mexico and the United States. Los Pinos, here with the president lives and the White House in the United States. We are about, give or take, six hours from when the polls will close here. A few hours after that we expect to get the preliminary numbers to see who has the majority of the votes and what change will come to the country of Mexico -- Fredricka?

[14:40:22] WHITFIELD: All right. Highly anticipated. Leyla Santiago, thank you so much.

All right. The heavy favorite to win Mexico's Presidential election has tapped into those Trump-like populism views, saying he dislikes NAFTA and thinks his country got a bad deal. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, also insists Mexico will not pay for the border wall and vows to stand up to Trump.

CNN's Rafael Romo has his story.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

RAFAEL ROMO, CNN SENIOR LATIN AMERICA AFFAIRS EDITOR (voice-over): When he was accused of being a leftist who would allow Russia to meddle in Mexican elections, he went to the ocean and joked he was waiting for a Russian submarine full of gold.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: You know, a year and a half ago they said I was an interloper.

ROMO: Just like Donald Trump positioned himself as the anti- establishment candidate, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has turned Mexicans away from the traditional Mexican parties, or the mafia power, as he calls them.

DUNCAN WOOD, DIRECTOR, MEXICO INSTITUTE WILSON CENTER: They see themselves as great disrupters.

ROMO: Although Lopez Obrador is a leftist, he is also an anti- globalization populist like Trump.

There's been many comparisons regarding Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador to Donald Trump. But politically speaking, there's no comparison, really, is there?

WOOD: Well, listen, the first thing is that Donald Trump is the anti- politician. Andres Manuel is a lifelong professional politician. I think that's the single most important thing to say about Lopez as Trump. But they do share certain characteristics. In terms of economic policy, both Donald Trump and Andres Manuel are economic nationalists.

ROMO: He has promised to cut down the salaries of top government officials and give the money to the poor. Lopez Obrador promises to cut his own salary in half.

WOOD: Andres Manuel is the leading candidate for Sunday's vote because he has run a fantastic campaign, nearly flawless. He has hit all the right notes with the Mexican people.

ROMO: Defying Trump has been a main campaign theme.

He doesn't want to be the President who kowtows to President Trump. He doesn't want to be the President who sells out national pride. He wants to be a President who stands up to the United States. He wants to be a President who says we deserve and we demand respect.

ROMO: This is the third time he's run for the presidency. When he narrowly lost the Presidential elections in 2006, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador called fraud and camped out with thousands of his supporters for weeks in Mexico City. He alienated many Mexicans and lost again by a wider margin in 2012.

But after years of gang violence and corruption scandals involving traditional parties, this time around Lopez Obrador is leading by double digits in the polls. Voters have embraced him as the candidate of change and seem to be willing to tell him that the third time is the charm.

Rafael Romo, CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

WHITFIELD: Still so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM.

But first, a preview of the new CNN film "American Jail." which takes a hard look at whether mass incarcerations are justified or a major injustice.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) UNIDENTIFIED MALE: In my hometown of eastern Pennsylvania, nothing stood taller than the jail on the hill. Every family had been touched by it. We all had tales of broken men in and out of lock-up. I just assumed I would end up there too.

How many of you know someone who's been in jail?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everybody.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Wait a minute, you have been in jail?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Americans knew what was happening in prisons and jails, they would demand change.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's inevitable to end up here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the jails were filled with white kids from the suburbs and they were making those white kids work for no money, how long do you think that operation would be allowed to last?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The criminal justice system in this country's only real function is controlling poor people.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I went away as a kid, it taught me nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "American jail," a CNN film, premieres tonight at 8:00 on CNN.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:49:01] WHITFIELD: Many families are choosing to leave their homes in Central America for the unknown, a life in the U.S. Some are facing life-or-death situations and are risking everything to come here.

CNN's Nick Valencia went to the border to meet families trying to seek asylum.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Through the tree brush, border patrol agent Robert Rodriguez spots what he says are three smugglers, preparing to launch a raft filled with migrants.

He says they are filming us he says.

Along with agent Rodriguez, we followed the raft downstream. It is there we see this, six Central American migrants, some of those who were on the raft, one of them traveling with his father is just three years old.

What are you looking for here? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

VALENCIA: He is asking for asylum. Strangers would show up to his house, they would ask for money. And they would threaten him in front of his child, threatening to kill him and they were even -- he said they would even kill the 3-year-old.

You know there is people here that are very much against illegal immigration. They don't want people like you in the United States. What do you say to them?

[14:50:14] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

VALENCIA: He says those people don't know what I have been through. They don't know what I go through nightly. They don't know what it is like to fear death.

This mother and her 13-year-old were also in a group holding back tears, she says she never wanted to leave Honduras. If it wasn't for MS-13, her son says they would have never left.

Why are you crying?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

VALENCIA: He said he didn't want to leave Honduras. That is why he is crying. He is really sorry for putting his mom in this position.

She said of course I would never let my son be captured there. So she is saying even though there is zero tolerance still in place, she said they would still cross. That's how much they have.

From here, the group would be taken to a processing center joining hundreds of others just like them. Even still, they are the lucky ones. Had they crossed just last week, the parents and children would have assuredly been torn apart by the U.S. government.

The scenes that you just say give a sense of what border patrol agents are up against every single day here along the U.S. Mexico border. It also gives us an understanding of what families are willing to put themselves through to keep from being killed in their homeland.

Nick Valencia, CNN, McAllen, Texas.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

[14:51:34] WHITFIELD: And we'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:55:46] WHITFIELD: A notorious gangster is on the run again, this time after a spectacular prison break, his second time. He escaped from a prison near Paris this morning with the help of multiple armed men who hijacked a helicopter to pick him up. They forced the pilot to fly to an area just northwest of Paris, and police say the men let the pilot go unharmed and then took off in a car. Faid (ph) was serving a 25-year sentence for masterminding a failed

robbery, and he was serving an additional ten years for a previous escape in 2013 where he used explosives to blast through prison doors.

A French journalist -- is outside the prison following this story for us now.

So Caroline, what can you us about this investigation?

CAROLINE DIEUDONNE, REPORTER FOR FRENCH TV NETWORK: Well, the investigation has just started, but what we know so far is that there were three people involved in the escape. The French justice minister confirmed it an hour ago. Two heavily armed men who used tools to get inside the prison to go through the doors to the visiting room where (INAUDIBLE) was with his brother. And a third man who was waiting in the helicopter with the hostage.

What we also know is that this escape was planned maybe months ago. Why? Because a few months ago the prison staff saw drones flying over the penitentiary area. And this may be the reason why they knew that there were no protection nets in the courtyard, the specific courtyard where the helicopter landed.

And finally, a lot of people this afternoon were questioned by the police. They might give details about the men that went inside the prison and the brother of (INAUDIBLE) is still being questioned by the police. He is in custody right now.

WHITFIELD: And Caroline, are people at all fearful of his escape?

DIEUDONNE: Well, the people inside the prison told us that they were frightened after what happened because it's not the first time that he's escaped. The first time he escaped was in 2013, five years ago, in the north of France. It was also a spectacular prison break that took less than half an hour. And he had taken several guards hostage. He used explosives to get out, using the guards as human shields. And he was on the run for several weeks. He was captured by the police. Right now (INAUDIBLE) is still on the run. He is considered to be a very dangerous fugitive.

WHITFIELD: Caroline Dieudonne, thank you so much for your report. Appreciate it.

And we have so much more straight ahead in the newsroom. It all starts right now.

All right. Hello again, everyone. Thank you so much for joining us. I'm Fredricka Whitfield in Washington, D.C.

Up first, the U.S. Supreme Court showdown. In just an hour, President Trump will head back to the White House from his golf club in New Jersey, where he spent part of the weekend interviewing possible Supreme Court candidates. Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement just a few days ago, but President Trump has already jumped into action, saying he will announce his new pick one week from tomorrow. This decision has the power to transform the U.S. Supreme Court for generations, and the looming nomination battle is already igniting a fire storm on Capitol Hill. Republican senator Susan Collins will be a key vote for the President. She met with Trump to discuss the vacancy, and she still has some concerns, she says.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Are you comfortable with everyone on that list?

SEN. SUSAN COLLINS(R), MAINE: No, I am not. Now, some of the people on the list I have not vetted at all at this point. One of them I voted against years ago. And I would have to do a great deal at more work.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

[15:00:12] WHITFIELD: All right. Let's check in with CNN White House correspondent Boris Sanchez.