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News About the Senate Russian Investigation. Aired 9-10p ET

Aired July 3, 2018 - 21:00   ET


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. Thanks, JB.

I am Chris Cuomo. Welcome to PRIME TIME.

Big news tonight on the Senate's Russia investigation. Republicans and Democrats agree, and their findings put big holes in the president's pitch to his base about the so-called witch hunt.

Meanwhile, the FBI agent kicked off -- that kicked off the Russia investigation is now being summoned back to the Hill. Peter Strzok is going to testify in public next week. Is he walking right into a GOP trap?

That's what his lawyer claims. Why? He's going to make the case to you.

And did you hear? LeBron James signed with the L.A. Lakers. So what's going to happen when the biggest name in basketball comes face to face with the most outspoken father in the game?

You know what I'm talking about. The ball is in our court tonight, LaVar Ball. Anything can happen when he's on live TV. What better way to celebrate Independence Day eve?

So what do you say? Let's get after it.


CUOMO: All right. Let's go to the whiteboard and start talking about this big news that dropped today, the Senate intel findings on Russian interference. Hopefully, this will help you break down the headlines.

All right. Here's what you want to keep in mind. First, this was bipartisan, OK? In the Senate Intelligence Committee.

But it was GOP-led. Chairman Richard Burr, hard-liner. No joke. Not looking to please anybody.

They spent 16 months looking at this. Here's the big headline: the intelligence community got it right. The quote is: no reason to dispute those conclusions.

What are they? Russia meddled as part of an elaborate scheme to disrupt our democracy. Putin motivated it. And the Kremlin had a clear preference. And that preference was for Donald Trump.

Now, this also wasn't a matter of everyone getting their stories straight. The Senate committee saw how there were different levels of confidence between the agencies. You had the CIA and the FBI. They had high confidence. The NSA only felt moderate confidence on some aspects.

So, Burr's report calls the disagreements reasonable, transparent, openly debated among the agencies and analysts. In other words, smart people were allowed to make their case, but they all pointed in the same direction. And most importantly, the Senate committee found analysts were under no political pressure. No politically motivated pressure is how they worded it.

What does that mean? No bias.

And all of this exposes the House Intel Committee efforts basically as B.S., especially those led by its chair, Devin Nunes, which were clearly geared to undermine the intelligence community. His report found, quote, significant intelligence tradecraft failings.

Yet tonight, even his Republican counterpart in the Senate is on record and calling Nunes' bluff. The job was done right, shows a clear plan and preference.

That means that Trump saying that this didn't really happen, Putin denies it, it's not real, didn't matter anyway -- all false, exposes the Trump tripe. It is also a great tee-up for a great debate.

And we have two perfect men for the task, Van Jones and David Urban.

So, Van Jones, you heard my assessment. Do I have it right? Do you think that this is a big blow to the president's posturing of this not being a big deal and didn't really happen?

VAN JONES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, it definitely is, and especially when you realize that, you know, the Republicans have the majority. If there were some reason for them to say, hey, guess what, surprise, surprise, the president's right. The agencies are wrong. There's a much bigger political upside for them to do that than to do what they did.

But what should happen now -- it won't, but what should happen now is now that you've got a bipartisan -- Republican-led but bipartisan statement that says for sure we are under attack, we should start coming together now. We shouldn't be all, well, what about this? What about that? We've got a problem. We've got a democracy being undermined.

And yet, I guarantee you you're not going to have the president walk up tomorrow morning to a microphone and say that, and that's unfortunate.

CUOMO: Well, you don't have to be a prognosticator, Dave. We just had the president put out a tweet a few days ago, you know, with plenty of information about the reality, saying, you know, Putin denies it.

Now, help us understand. Why would the president say something that he knows his intel community doesn't share, that he knows is probably untrue, but he says it anyway?

DAVID URBAN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hey, Chris. Well, first of all, let me start by congratulating you. After 30 days on the air, of having the number one-rated show on CNN.

CUOMO: Oh, very kind. Why didn't you mention that, Van? Jealous.


CUOMO: Thank you very much. Look, it's because of you guys. You've been helping me out every night. You bring your expertise, you bring your passion, and we thank you.

Now, make your point. No favoritism from you.

URBAN: Listen, as people know, I don't necessarily agree with you, but I love being on your show because I think you're fair, give everybody a fair shake here.

So, look, it's not surprising I don't agree with you and Van. I don't think there's a whole lot of new news here. Director Mueller has already indicted -- we've come to this fact already, right? Director Mueller indicted 13 Russians, and the IRA troll factory -- Internet Research Agency troll factory out of St. Petersburg, indicted these 13 individuals.

The Secretary of Treasury Steve Mnuchin has imposed sanctions on them, shutting them down.

CUOMO: Right.

URBAN: Kicking them out, you know, really cracked down on them.

So, I don't know that there's a whole lot of news here --


CUOMO: But the president just tweeted that Putin says it didn't happen. You can't ignore that.

URBAN: Hold on. Well, he did -- well, I'm sure Putin says it didn't happen, right?

Let me say one thing that's missing from all this analysis, right? Senator Burr, he's a good man and he's a very fair-handed individual, but what's missing from this analysis is, did it have any impact?

The Russians may have tried. This Internet Research Agency did a bunch of things that were malicious in our election, and I'm hoping right now that the FBI counterintelligence, our CIA, and other agencies are moving aggressively to make sure it doesn't happen in 2018 and 2020. But the question nobody is asking and we don't have an answer to is,

did it matter? Did it have any impact? That's what missing from this analysis.

CUOMO: Do you agree with that, Van?

JONES: Well, I just don't understand why that is this kind of teddy bear that the Republicans want to cling on to.

URBAN: No, it's not a teddy bear. Did it matter?

JONES: Yes, listen, here's the deal -- I cannot imagine that in an election where you had 120 million, 130 million people voted, it was decided by only 70,000 people in about three states, 10,000 people in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania. That's a pretty narrow margin.

And so, we need to find out did it have an impact. I think it's hard to argue it had zero impact.


URBAN: Let me tell you this. I read the indictment. I read Director Mueller -- I read the indictment handed down by Director Mueller and some of the verbatims that were in there lifted from this.

And, you know, I was involved in the election in Pennsylvania, and interestingly, Van and Chris, even the Russians didn't think the president was going to win in Pennsylvania. They didn't bother doing anything in Pennsylvania. They skipped over the state.

JONES: Hey, listen --

URBAN: So, to your point, Van, did it matter? Listen, we won fair and square. Fact of the matter is, fair and square, we won.

CUOMO: I don't understand why that's the sole bar just to emphasize a point that Van was making, Dave. I don't understand why you want that to be the litmus test for whether or not Russian interference in your election matters. It matters on its face.

URBAN: No, no. Chris, absolutely it matters.

CUOMO: But when you say did it matter in the outcome, are you suggesting that unless you can show that they manipulated a vote count, that it doesn't matter? Because that's what the president seems to apply as the standard.

URBAN: No. Listen, I think the president is angry with the news media and rightfully so because they're trying to delegitimize his election.


CUOMO: But where do you get that? You just put out there did it matter, and you had two people who get targeted by the president who didn't jump up and say, yes, it did. It was really bad. It's the only way that he won.


CUOMO: So why demonize us?

URBAN: Listen, the next time I talk to him, I'll make sure to give you and Van props with him, OK?

CUOMO: No, but I'm saying I never heard anybody say in the media that, we have to get to the bottom of this because it's the only reason he's president. That's only him who says that.

URBAN: No. That's only left of center. Listen, if you -- Chris, if you are honestly saying, and Van, if you guys are both honestly saying that the left does not say but for this meddling, Donald Trump wouldn't be president, I think that's kind of farcical.

CUOMO: I've heard that about Comey. But I think that the big concern, Van, left, right, and center, should be they're going to do it again. And we've been so busy --

URBAN: Right.

CUOMO: -- dealing with definitions and parameters so that Trump can be safe at the end of this analysis, that we haven't done anything to stop it happening again.


URBAN: Chris, I don't know that --

JONES: It's my turn. It's my turn. I get to talk. It's my turn.

So here's the deal. A couple things: there were people under Obama who said Obama cheated. He wasn't even born here. The whole thing, you know, it was ACORN, all these different things.

You always have some people in the losing camp that just won't accept the election. You have people on the left who will say, you know, he cheated. The whole thing was engineered. It was hacked, the whole deal.

All of that stuff is just a normal part of the process. But what's unusual is for the president of the United States to disregard and to dismiss and to diss his own intelligence agencies because the president and the rest of us are supposed to be above all that, focused on protecting and preserving this democratic republic. And any threat, foreign or domestic, he took an oath to oppose.

URBAN: I agree.

JONES: And that's the problem.

CUOMO: But you didn't call it out, Dave. You went right to the idea of did it matter? URBAN: Guys, listen, let me ask you a question. Do you know -- can

you tell me? Do you know what the FBI counterintelligence folks are doing in this country at this very point in time, what the NSA is doing, what the CIA is doing overseas?

JONES: I did.

URBAN: Do you know what they're doing?

JONES: I do.


URBAN: You do? Wow. OK. Don't say it on the air because you're violating some classified --

JONES: This is what they're doing. If they're doing a good job, they're ignoring their president, who says, pooh on all you guys. There's nothing going on here. So, I hope they're ignoring the president.

CUOMO: I mean, look, that's the big headline from today is that you now had a really bipartisan group, not that mess that happened in the House, come out and say the intel community is right. It was real. It was intentional. It was bad, and it's going to happen again.

The president doesn't echo those sentiments. Maybe now he will. We got to leave it there. We got to leave it there.


CUOMO: Dave, Van, please enjoy your entire experience with Independence Day. I am happy for both of you guys.

URBAN: Chris, thanks for having us. And tune in. Van and I are sharing some air time on Saturday.

JONES: It's true.

CUOMO: Beautiful. I will be watching. The two prettiest heads in the business.

All right. So, now, we've got one side of the probe, and what we need to talk about, but there's another part to chew on as well. And it involves a man who is the alleged anti-Trump bias face at the FBI. He's one of the president's favorite targets.

Republicans are having him come in to testify in public this time. Could it be a trap for Peter Strzok? That's what his lawyer says.

His case, next.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. The president taking Vladimir Putin at his word that Russia didn't interfere with our election was always silly. It now just got dealt a huge blow with this bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee report that came out today as it echoes the findings of every other fair broker on the situation. Russia meddled. Trump is kidding himself and probably only himself, trying to minimize Putin's role.

Now, that's just one aspect of this, and there's always this intrigue. Why would the president do this? Why would the president do that? Did Russia help him and he's trying to pay them back by being nice?

I don't know the answers to any of those things and we don't have facts. And none of them raise the legitimate issues that could be going on with the Russia probe on behalf of the U.S. authorities.

Enter Peter Strzok, the FBI agent taken off the Russia probe because of these anti-Trump texts. He testified behind closed doors before a House committee last week. Now, they're going to bring him back to have him testify in public.

Now, his lawyer thinks that this could be a trap by the House GOP. So his name is Aitan Goelman, and he's here now to make the case.

Counselor, thank you for joining us.


CUOMO: So, first things first. Will your client comply with the subpoena or the request? Will he come in and do another interview?

GOELMAN: My client will testify publicly soon, somewhere, sometime. We just got this subpoena today. So I don't know whether or not we are going to be testifying next Tuesday in front of these two particular House subcommittees.

CUOMO: Why isn't it an automatic yes, Aitan?

GOELMAN: Because we have come to the conclusion -- we have been forced to come to the conclusion that this is not a search for truth. It is a chance for Republican members of the House to preen and posture before their most radical conspiracy-minded constituents. And if you just look -- I mean, you would think that here you have a guy, Peter Strzok, knows some things, wants to tell his story, wants to testify.

If you have a committee that actually wants to find out facts, that wants to find out the truth, you might actually have an interest. But from our experience with the committee thus far, it is obvious that they don't want the truth.

CUOMO: You had observers who were there. The transcript hasn't been released of the last interview. I know that you said release it.

GOELMAN: No, but it should be.

CUOMO: Look, I'd love that, right? I'm a journalist. I'd love to have information. I'm not in the business of believing what people tell me in the government or anywhere for that matter. I like to see the proof myself.

But they say that they found what he said compelling on different levels. So, is it fair to say that he hasn't had a chance to tell his story yet?

GOELMAN: Who said that they found what he had to say compelling?

CUOMO: Different Democrats who were in the room.

GOELMAN: Look, Pete has sat and listened as he's been caricatured and misdescribed and accused by the president of treason and of being a sick loser, and on fox news they talk about him as the center of this anti-Trump cabal that was determined to throw the election against Trump. None of this has a shred of truth.

And Pete has been silent. He's been cooperating with the inspector general. He's been doing what he's supposed to, and now, he wants a chance to actually talk to the American people.

So, when we heard that these two committees along with other committees were interested in talking to Pete, I reached out to them. I said, Pete will come talk to you. You don't need to issue a subpoena.

CUOMO: Right.

GOELMAN: Let's do it publicly. No, no, no. We can't do it publicly.

OK, well, can you at least tell me you'll release the transcripts so you don't have House Republicans selectively leaking or misleaking selective excerpts to make him look bad? No, no, we can't do that either. Well, OK, we'll come in anyway.

So we came in, and he testified. And what really kills me is the Republicans, the committee, the first thing they tell us in there is this is confidential. If you disclose any of this, you can be compromising the integrity of this investigation.

CUOMO: And it leaked.

GOELMAN: And not just leaked. Republican members during breaks were dashing out to talk to the media, to tell them, this guy, he's not answering questions.

CUOMO: You know what you should have done?

GOELMAN: What's that?

CUOMO: You should have brought your client here, because then it would be all live. It would all be on the record. It would be ought there for people to see and he'd be tested by someone where the audience gets to see what it is and what it isn't.

GOELMAN: There may come a day, Chris.

CUOMO: The offer stands. Now, you said something earlier that I got to come back to you on,

which is there's not a shred to any of the allegations. Now, your client put himself in a position of criticism by what he wrote in his texts. I understand he didn't think they'd become public when he was writing them to an intimate. I get that.

But the texts came out, and they tell a story he's going to have to answer for. Trump's not ever going to become president, right? No, no, he won't. We'll stop it.

Now, the inspector general's report found that he had bias for a reason, and this seems to be proof of it.

I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office that there's no way he gets elected. I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40.

These are things that are suggestive of a bias against Donald J. Trump who is running for president at the time. How is that not a fair reading?

GOELMAN: Well, I mean, it's a completely fair reading to say that Pete Strzok and Lisa Page were not fans of Donald Trump. I think they both admit that and they both admit that, you know, in these texts, which they thought were private and ultimately were not, they used some purple language to describe Trump.

And, you know, if you go through the times when they're talking about Trump, whether they call him an idiot, whether they use let polite terms, each of those correspondents to something that's happening in the campaign. You know, at one point, Trump is denigrating a family of a fallen war hero, and they have an exchange about that.

CUOMO: But that's justification for a feeling. What I'm saying is if it existed as a feeling, reasonable or unreasonable, doesn't that make it true that Strzok was acting with a bias when he was doing whatever he was doing because he didn't like this guy? And how could it not affect his decisions?

GOELMAN: No, of course, it doesn't make it true. I mean that's what FBI agents do every day, right? Everybody in the FBI has got political opinions. Trump -- Pete is not the only one who didn't like Trump, and there are a lot of people in the FBI who really, really disliked Hillary and Bill Clinton. It doesn't mean that they --

CUOMO: But they weren't in a position to act on a threat of, we'll stop it.

GOELMAN: Yes, well, I don't know why you think that that's a threat. I think that what --

CUOMO: How would you characterize it?

GOELMAN: I think he does not think. That is right about when Trump was talking about the Khan family, and I don't think that Pete or Lisa Page or, you know, hundreds of millions of other Americans, including a lot of Republicans, thought that it was -- you know, there was a chance in hell that Donald Trump was going to be elected at that point.

Look, the allegations I was talking about, Chris, that don't have a shred of truth, are the ones that put Pete Strzok at the center of this secret society, this Dumbledore's army type of underground cell in the FBI. There's no truth to that and --

CUOMO: They took that from his conversations also, but I've never seen it substantiated. I hear you on that.

GOELMAN: Not just not substantiated -- I mean, the I.G. has been investigating this for months and months.

CUOMO: Right.

GOELMAN: It's a 570-page report, OK? They know why they took different decisions in the Clinton e-mail investigation.

CUOMO: And he said he found bias. He couldn't find it overall, but he did find it -- he couldn't rule it out in the idea of how you prioritize different investigations regarding Trump and Hillary. There are certainly things for him to answer for in them. You can't be surprised he's getting criticism.

GOELMAN: No, of course not. And he's ready, willing, and able to answer questions about the texts.

CUOMO: Gotcha.

GOELMAN: The problem with this forum is that -- I mean, I don't know if you watched the Rod Rosenstein and Chris Wray the other day.

CUOMO: I did, hour after hour.

GOELMAN: OK. So, the way they treated those two guys, you know, these lifelong Republicans --

CUOMO: Right.

GOELMAN: -- not letting them answer a question, filibustering, that is nothing compared to the way they treated Pete Strzok. So it does not seem to be like a search for truth.

CUOMO: I hear you. I hear you. I get it. I want to see the transcripts so we can make our own judgments.

GOELMAN: I want you to see the transcripts.

CUOMO: And the offer stands. He will get a full hour here on this show to make any case he wants to, and there won't be fly around. Waah, almost got it.

All right. Aitan Goelman, thank you very much for making your case for your client. The offer stands. GOELMAN: Thanks, Chris. OK.

CUOMO: See that fly run away? That's what I'm talking about.

All right. You're going to want to stick around. We have one of the biggest personalities on the planet who is ready to be on PRIME TIME. Lakers dad LaVar Ball is here and ready to give his take on the new guy coming to his son's team, and he's got a league of his own he wants to talk to you about, next.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: LaVar, we've heard the rumors of LeBron coming to L.A. this summer. Do you think that it will happen?

LAVAR BALL: I don't think it will happen. I know it's going to happen. I told you to call L.A. Bron.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: He was right. The outspoken father of L.A. Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, back in February predicting that three- time NBA champ LeBron James would make his way to the City of Angels.

Lavar Ball joins us now.

Welcome back to PRIME TIME.

It's good to see you, Big Baller.

LAVAR BALL: Hey, man, it's good to talk to you again, Cuomo. You know we got to do our thang.

CUOMO: We're doing it right now.

How did you know that LeBron was going to come there?

BALL: Come on, man. That's why people are always so mad at me because I'm always right.

CUOMO: That's not why. But let me ask you this.

BALL: It only makes sense.

CUOMO: You're right. It makes sense why? Why is this the right move?

BALL: It makes sense because, like I told him before, his narrative has to be that every team he's went to, he's won. So, you can't stay in Cleveland and win four or five champions like Michael Jordan did in Chicago. You can't do that.

So, your narrative has to be, to be the best player in the world, you have to say every team I went to a won a championship. So, that's the thing right there.

And he wants to do something after basketball, which is probably with his movie studio, whatever, so you've got to go to that entertainment level in L.A. You can't get no entertainment like that in Cleveland.

So, it makes sense business-wise.

CUOMO: Do you think -- so business-wise, it makes sense for the game. But let's talk about the second part. I get you on the business side. He's in Hollywood. If that's the next chapter, he's in the right place.

BALL: Right.

CUOMO: But can they win, this time? The Warriors just signed Cousins. They had the best team in the league, and now they got DeMarcus Cousins.

BALL: Right.

CUOMO: Do you think the Lakers can beat that team?

BALL: Man, I don't think the Lakers can beat them. I know the Lakers can beat them if they get the right guys.

CUOMO: Oh, they need more guys. Who do they need?

BALL: You need some more guys. You got to play fast, you got to play super fast. LeBron got four years.


CUOMO: What do you think of them bringing Rondo? This is a news audience. And I get it. They probably don't follow basketball. But they brought Rondo in, the famous guy from the Celtics, you know, then he moved around the league. Plays the same position as your son.

What does that mean?

BALL: Right. It don't mean nothing. He's got another teammate.

CUOMO: You're not worried about competition?

BALL: A little backup, that's good. Nah, I never worry about competition because I know my boys are better than that.

CUOMO: And in terms of identity within the team, you got to love that you got LeBron James coming to your son's squad. But in terms of the shadow that he casts --

BALL: Right.

CUOMO: -- what does that mean to you?

BALL: Nobody casts a shadow. They're just teammates. LeBron signed for four years. So guess what? They're going to win four championships. But if we don't win four championships, we should at least get two. Help is on the way.

CUOMO: You really think they have a chance of winning multiple championships?

BALL: Multiple championships. The only way you can beat them is playing fast. You got to have the right guys that can go fast.

CUOMO: Did you see this "Washington Post" headline where they were talking about what it's going to mean --

BALL: What did it say?

CUOMO: -- to have LeBron on it, they say, LeBron comes. That means Big Baller's got to go. The headline comes out: Welcome to L.A., LeBron James. See yourself out, LaVar Ball.

BALL: Right, right.

CUOMO: The suggestion is that you two guys can't coexist. Do you buy that?

BALL: You know what? How can we got to worry about coexisting? He's playing on the court and I'm off the court. Quit worrying about me. They did all that negativity and he still came.

And that lets you know right there -- me and LeBron get along. He come off the court, I'm going to say, hey, LeBron, what's going on, man? Everything lines up for me, and it's so lucky that my son gets to play with his favorite player.

Wait until my other boys get to come in that way. Uh-oh, you don't want LeBron and the ball boys linked up to play against Golden State, because I'll tell you what? My boys play at a different level. Speed, baby. Speed kills. That's the only way you're going to beat Golden State.

CUOMO: Is everything good between you and LeBron? There was that controversy --

BALL: Everything is great between --


CUOMO: -- when you were talking about how hard it is for his sons. He didn't like it. He said keep his family's name out of your mouth.

BALL: Yes, me and LeBron got a lot in common, which is family first, winning, grinning, and having a good time playing basketball championships.

CUOMO: You say it's all good between you and him?

BALL: So anytime.

It's all good -- I mean, why would it be negative between us? The best thing to do is he's successful. I'm successful. Keep us away from each other. That's what they're trying to create.

It's not a big thing. He's going to do his thing on that court. He has a very high IQ. My son has the same thing. He's going to be the best player -- don't give the Lakers, my son, the best player in the game, and don't think he's not going to win championships?

That's why we got LeBron. Everything lines up for this and it's going to be perfect. And you know what? People are going to be mad because it's always happening so good for me.

CUOMO: Well, those are just haters, right? Everybody should love other people's success.

BALL: Yes.

CUOMO: Let me ask you something, speaking of success, it's not enough for you to put kids in the big league. You had to start a league of your own.

Tell us about the league. I know that's why you're down in Georgia.

BALL: Yes, man --

CUOMO: You were up here on Long Island. I think at Hofstra, you had a game. What's the league? What's going on?

BALL: Yes. Yes. Had a great time, man. Like I said, the JBA is another alternative for guys that can really play this game, that couldn't go, you know, the university or the school way.

But that shouldn't stop them from following their dream. Just because, you know, they couldn't pass SAT or do good in class, it should not determine and say, you know what, my basketball career is over.

So, we got some guys in the JBA that can really play this game, man. They just needed another opportunity and another alternative to chase their dream, which is, you know, everybody's not going to go pro in my league, but it gives them a platform to showcase what they can do.

Everybody is not one and done, but some of these guys are really talented and they play with a different sense of pride.

CUOMO: Well, I know that starting a league isn't easy. It's going to have its struggles. I know you believe you'll get it done.

We will follow your journey, and you're always welcome in this place called PRIME TIME when there is news that meets your opinion.

And let me tell you, you were right about LeBron. I have to give you your respect on that.

BALL: And you're going to have the highest rating of anybody on CNN ever.

CUOMO: Well, from your lips to the ratings gods' ears. We'll see. As long as we're doing the job right, that's all we got to control.

Thank you for being with us. Appreciate it, big man.

BALL: Hey, that's all we can do. Hey, you're more than welcome, man. It's good talking to you.

CUOMO: Happy Fourth of July. Be well.

BALL: And follow me, JBA Facebook. We're good.

CUOMO: JBA Facebook, got it.

All right. New video coming in tonight. You know about the kids, right, in the cave in Thailand? They were found alive. Amazing. We still don't understand how they were able to exist for 10 days in these conditions.

But now, there is a new problem. We'll tell about it, next.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: All right. A joyous discovery is turning into a much more complicated rescue effort for the 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped in that cave for almost two weeks.

This is the new video you're looking at. You see the kids have gotten those Mylar blankets that we're becoming so familiar with. Why did they need them? It's cold in that cave.

They've been in there going on two weeks now. There's no light in that cave. They are blocked in by water.

Take a look at your screen right now. This is what they're dealing with. This is why you keep hearing about the water.

How can they get the camera in there but they can't get the kids out? This is why. You have to swim through these very loose, unstable, dark, tight spaces to get out.

So you have to deal with the next aspect, which is right now they're pumping like crazy. Why? Why so frantically? We're showing you the effort right now. Because it's monsoon season. More water is coming.

And I don't know where you're watching me from right now, but monsoon season means feet of water can pool in no time. And this is an unstable place that they're in.

So, let's get some perspective about how big this challenge is. We have Paul Sumner, rescue dive instructor, more than 30 years experience. He's been in these kinds of situations. He knows what we're dealing with.

Paul, thank you very much. We were talking before we started the segment. Amazing that they were found alive in those conditions.

PAUL SUMNER, RESCUE DIVE INSTRUCTOR: Yes. CUOMO: They all seem to be intact and well. But, boy, do they have

some challenges in their way. What do you see?

SUMNER: Most certainly. Most certainly, Chris.

As -- not only a rescue dive instructor, but as a cave diver, I'm a trained cave diver as well. To put this in perspective, they're going to -- if they do what the Navy SEALs are attempting to do, you're going to take kids and an adult that have never, ever been on scuba before. So, let's put that at a zero on a scale of zero to 100.

And take them to a cave dive, a very advanced, very technical training curriculum that takes hundreds of hours of training before you're even allowed by international cave dive standards to even begin training. And you're going to take and then put them in gear that's totally unfamiliar with them, put them in, as you said, tight passages.

If this water is as muddy as I would expect it to be, they're probably not going to have any visibility. So they're going to rely completely on contact with the other -- the divers that are trying to get them out of that --

CUOMO: So, let's explain that because that's the piece that matters most right now. And also, I don't want to project problems. So we'll take it one step at a time.

While we're talking, if you can, Ellie, and Mel, our director and our EP, put up that graphic again of that little kind of -- that network of different pathways they have to go through.

And, Paul, give us this idea, please, of how are they going to do it with these kids? You have a mask with you that you want people to see. What is their best bet --

SUMNER: Sure, sure.

CUOMO: -- of how to get kids through 100 feet of a space like that if they don't know what they're doing?

SUMNER: First, they've got no training. Now, it appears that the navy divers are going to utilize or planning on utilizing something like this full face mask. Now, the advantage with this is it tends to fit a number of different-sized faces, and depending on the system they're utilizing, they may have communications in it, which will help allay some of the anxieties of these kids because they'll be able to talk to the other divers that are working to help them.

But, again, does this mask fit their face, and how comfortable will they be with completely new gear? I suspect they will probably spend quite a bit of time, even before they put these kids beneath the surface of the water, to see if, in fact, they're comfortable with this.

CUOMO: And all along, they're living in terrible conditions of darkness, of cold. They have food. They're getting some drugs, antibiotics and stuff for kids who had some rashes. But they are up against it.

Paul, let's do this. When we learn more and it becomes more imminent, please come back on the show so you can help people understand what it's going to take to get these kids out alive. It was a miracle that they found them, but they're going to need another one to get them out. So, please, sir, we need your expertise and appreciate it.

SUMNER: My pleasure.

CUOMO: All right. Thank you to Paul Sumner.

We're going to turn to another important and also emotional story ahead on PRIME TIME. One of the mothers torn apart from her kids, three of them at the border, finally reunited with them today.

Now, you've been following her lawyer's efforts on the show. We have him on often. We have a major update, and it is heartbreaking, next.


CUOMO: Welcome back to CUOMO PRIME TIME.

As you know, we've been following the story of Yeni, a Guatemalan mother separated from her three kids at the border. We've had her lawyer on a couple of times to explain the case because it's so representative of what so many are dealing with.

Today, we have good news to report. After 45 days, Yeni got to see her kids, and she says they're OK. They all collapsed on the floor when they saw each other, hugging and crying. They're young, and they weren't sure if they were going to see their mother anytime soon.

And that is a good moment, but I can't tell you that this is a happy ending. So hear the story from Yeni Gonzalez herself and her attorney, Jose Orochena.


CUOMO: So let's get a sense. This must be so hard for you today. So the most obvious question is how are your kids doing? How are they?

YENI GONZALEZ, GUATEMALAN MOTHER SEPARATED FROM HER CHILDREN (through Attorney Jose Orochena): I found them in good condition, thank God. That's what I asked God, to find them in good health. And that's the way she found them today.

CUOMO: Tell me about the teddy bear.

GONZALEZ (through Orochena): This, my eldest son gave me, whose name is Lester.

JOSE OROCHENA, ATTORNEY FOR SEPARATED IMMIGRANT FAMILY: So Lester gave that to her because he had been sleeping with that teddy bear since he arrived here. And so, he wanted his mother to sleep with it tonight and hug it until they are finally all reunited.

CUOMO: For you -- what is the hardest part in this for you?

OROCHENA: She said the hardest part was when they ripped him from my arms. They didn't even give me the opportunity to say goodbye.

CUOMO: When's the next time you can see them -- is when?


CUOMO: So, next Thursday?

OROCHENA: Next Thursday, only because tomorrow's 4th of July and the Cayuga Center's closed. These children do go to a foster home here in the city.

CUOMO: So, two days, she gets to see the kids. Have they given a promise of regularity that you'll be able to see them?

OROCHENA: Thankfully, several elected officials -- the governor has been involved, Representative -- I'm sorry, Congressman Espaillat has been involved, and so many people have been pulling for us, pulling strings for us, getting us the access. And thankfully, Cayuga has said that they will allow mom regular access to the children throughout the week.

CUOMO: Now, she's making an asylum case --

OROCHENA: Correct.

CUOMO: -- that she had to flee from Guatemala because of fear, of safety for the children. How so?

OROCHENA: Mom faced gang violence at home, gang violence which she, herself, was victim of, gang violence of which her son was being recruited. Her son is 11-years-old --11-years-old, still sleeps with a teddy bear.

An 11-year-old kid is being recruited by gang members. That is not a situation in which an 11-year-old should be in.

An 11-year-old should be worried about his math and science homework. Instead, he's facing gang violence, gang recruitments, when he goes to school. That's not what mom wants, and that's why she came here, to the United States.

CUOMO: Did she try the legal way?

OROCHENA: She can't -- she doesn't have anybody to petition for her, if that's what you mean by the legal way. But she did -- the ports of entry are flooded. That's not a viable situation for many immigrants coming to the United States.

CUOMO: What does she want to the audience to know?

GONZALEZ (through Orochena): First instance, I just want to -- to the women who are in Eloy, section 400.

When I was leaving, I was saying goodbye to them. Some of them were sad, some of them were happy that I was leaving.

OROCHENA: She said, Yeni, you are going to be able to tell our stories. Please tell our stories about everything that's happened to us.

CUOMO: And I know this is going to be long. The promise that we made to you, from the show, remains, which is, it is our job to report on the situation and what happens. Every step of the way, we want to know.

OROCHENA: Absolutely, Chris, and you will get, I hope, good news, that these 12 mothers who have now signed up with us will be released as soon as possible.


CUOMO: Yeni, Gracias. Good luck to you.

OROCHENA: Thank you.


OROCHENA: She said thank you very much, because you're one of the first ones that helped communicate her story.

CUOMO: It's the job. Gracias, all right?

OROCHENA: Thank you.

CUOMO: Thank you to both of you.


CUOMO: All right. And we will keep following the story because Yeni and her kids are representative of what you are dealing with hundreds and hundreds of families. You still have over 2,000 kids that haven't been reunited. It's going to be a hard process. It's going the take time. We have to stay on it.

All right. We saw a reversal from President Trump today on something we brought up last night. What he did, and what he did not do -- next.


CUOMO: Final fact: The president did the right thing. He heard what we and many others said. Journalists murdered while doing their job deserve the same respect as others. President Trump today ordered flags at the White House and across the country to be lowered to half- staff in memory the five newspaper employees killed last week.

Of course, that comes after the mayor of Annapolis said yesterday that his request had been turned down.

Here is White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders when asked about that today. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: As soon as the president directly heard about the request made by the mayor, he asked that we reach out and verify that the mayor had made the request. And when we did, the president asked that the flags be lowered immediately.


CUOMO: Now, could we dispute the veracity of that? Of course. Is that helpful in this instance? I don't think so.

No one is under the illusion that this president is a friend of the free press. And I know some of you will think that Trump deserves no credit for reversing course on this. But doesn't that smack of the doubling down on negativity that Trump uses and that we rightly criticize because it is adding to the divisions in this society?

And for what it's worth, by being the fair broker of who is done right, you have more legitimacy when you say what is wrong. And Trump gives us plenty of cause to point out problems.

On the same day he lowered the flag to respect some journalists, he pilloried others. "The Washington Post" for using anonymous sources, calling it a disgrace, ignoring that he has used them himself and they are fundamental to good reporting. Minutes earlier, he ripped into the fake news for scrutinizing errors in his tweets.

Lowering the flag shows due respect. But it does not mean that we lower the standard for this president when it comes to respecting the truth and a free press. Instead of his tweets, he would have been better served by staring at that lowered flag maybe, and thinking about the climate in which those journalists became targets of a madman.

Or instead of tweeting, he could just remember that tomorrow is Independence Day. Two hundred forty-two years since this land officially became the bastion of freedom, remember what we did, deciding to take on an empire to get away from the king's whims, to shed confines of class and creed, and become "We, the People", not us and them.

So, Mr. President, thank you for lowering the flag. But it would have been better if at least on the day that you brought the flag down, you raised up the work that those journalists died doing. That would be real respect.

So, thank you for watching me here tonight. Have a great Independence Day. We'll get after it again with you Monday at 9:00 p.m. Eastern.

The CNN original series, "The Nineties", starts right now.