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Race to Free Thirteen Trapped in Cave; Trump Warns NATO Allies; Kennedy Asks Russia to Not Interfere; Trump Takes Credit for North Korea; Possible Supreme Court Pick Candidate; Russian Close to Manafort. Aired 1-1:30p ET
Aired July 3, 2018 - 13:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:00:00] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Sciutto's in for Wolf today, and he starts right now. Have a great day.
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, I'm Jim Sciutto, in today for Wolf Blitzer. It is 1:00 p.m. here in Washington, 8:00 p.m. in Moscow, 12:00 a.m. Wednesday morning in Shangri (ph), Thailand. Wherever you're watching from around the world, thanks so much for joining us.
A new threat, a new stand-off with U.S. allies. The president warning NATO to pay more or else. Is the world's greatest military alliance now at risk?
Plus, the president says that all is well with North Korea, that the U.S. would be at war right now if it weren't for his own efforts with Kim Jong-un. This despite U.S. intelligence saying otherwise.
And a new report suggests that one of the Russians charged in the Mueller investigation was more closely aligned with the president's former campaign chairman than previously known. Details on that ahead.
But first, the whole world is waiting to see what happens next with those 12 boys and their soccer coach who are still stuck deep in a cave in northern Thailand. They've been trapped for ten days now. British divers discovering them all, thankfully, alive.
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RESCUER: How many of you?
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SCIUTTO: They are almost still three miles inside a cave that is now flooded because it is the monsoon season. The fear is the cave may stay flooded for months, and there will be no way to get the boys out, except through a very long and dangerous dive.
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BILL WHITE HOUSE, VICE CHAIRMAN, BRITISH CAVE RESCUE: If they can -- if they can package them in sort of a streamlined way and then propel them through the, you know, the narrow bits, you know, tow them through, push and pull them through under water, it's going to be -- it's a big ask for divers doing that. It's a big ask psychologically for the children. But one has to ask one's self, what are the other options?
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SCIUTTO: Well, you could only imagine their fear.
Jonathan Miller is with us now from Thailand.
Jonathan, we've heard estimates really across the board from days to hours in terms of when they can be safely rescued. Is there any more clarity on the timing?
JONATHAN MILLER, ASIA CORRESPONDENT: Well, not a lot of clarity, Jim. I mean other than the fact that there is a renewed sense of urgency to get them out because there are more heavy rains forecast for tomorrow. They've had a little bit of a reprieve over the past two or three days. They've managed to pump out 120 million liters of water. That's quite a bit. And the levels have stabilized and gone down a bit inside the cave.
However, there will be a lot more rain. This is the beginning of the rainy season. If they don't get them out soon, they're going to be stuck in there for possibly as long as four months. Now, they can raise them onto a sort of platform inside one of these chambers and they could stay there and be fed and looked after, but what a miserable thing to contemplate.
The other options are to try to get them out through these very narrow passageways, these winding tunnels that go this way and that and up and down with very angular slabs of rock. They would need to really try to shave those off, the corners, to be able to get these kids out using oxygen equipment. And, you know, that's a big ask, as that guy just said.
Another possibility, I guess, is going in through the top. And they've been looking for fissures and shafts that could go down into the roof of the caves. That's been done before. If you remember back to those Chile miners and how they were rescued back in 2010. It's an option. I'm not sure the degree to which that is being explored right now. The divers are in there in vast numbers. At one point today, 47 of them at one point -- at one point in time trying to work out if they can extract them quickly through those channels.
SCIUTTO: We're so, so relieved that they're alive, but still a lot of work to do.
Jonathan Miller there in Thailand for us. Thanks very much. Ahead of the NATO summit next week, President Trump is setting the
tone, issuing a strong warning to America's closest allies. In a series of letters, Mr. Trump demands that NATO partners increase their defense spending or face a shift in U.S. military priorities in Europe.
The letter to German Chancellor Angela Merkel was particularly critical. In it, the president complained the chancellor is hurting the alliance by underspending on defense. He claims that Germany is setting a bad example for other countries.
To discuss this now, I'm joined by Michael Allen. He served as a director on President George W. Bush's National Security Council, CNN national security analyst Kelly Magsamen, she also serving on the National Security Council under both presidents Bush and Obama, and CNN senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski.
Michael, if I could begin with you.
U.S. presidents, both Democrats and Republican, in the past have complained to their NATO allies about not reaching this target of 2 percent of your GDP on defense spending. It's been a number of years that NATO allies have not met that target.
What is different now for a U.S. president to, in effect, threaten that we're going to pull our troops out of your country, right? We're going to take away our commitment from the alliance if you don't pony up.
[13:05:05] MICHAEL ALLEN, SERVED ON NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL UNDER PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH: What's different now is that President Trump has set the perception that he doesn't support the NATO alliance. And so it's seen as unduly rocking the boat. He has sent the impression that he's more interested in a better relationship with Vladimir Putin than he is with the maintenance of the, as you said, the greatest alliance in the history of the world.
So what I'm worried about today, and other people are worried about today, is that we're heading towards a NATO summit that's going to go very, very poorly and a meeting with Putin that's going to go terrifically. And so that's something for us to worry about. And that's the wrong strategic message, even if Trump is absolutely right on the substance that Germany should pay their fair share. And he is right about that.
SCIUTTO: Kelly, as this happens, do NATO allies worry that President Trump would not fulfill NATO obligations in the event of a threat to NATO's security? Russia has invaded one sovereign European country, Ukraine. If they were to, say, invade Estonia, a NATO partner, I mean is there genuine concern that the U.S. will not follow through?
KELLY MAGSAMEN, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think there's genuine concern. I think the seeds of doubt have been placed by President Trump. And I think that Michael is correct, the context matters going into this summit, you know, on the heels of the G-7 where he trashed our democratic allies, after the North Korea summit where he embraced Kim Jong-un, and then looking ahead to Putin, where he wants to have a friendly relationship. I think a lot of NATO allies are asking themselves, where are the united states? Where is this headed? Are they turning away from democratic values and democratic interests? And I think that's an open question. And that seed of doubt has been planted.
SCIUTTO: Michelle, you cover the State Department. You talk to a lot of folks in the State Department. Is anyone in the Trump orbit pushing back against the president rattling the saber in effect with his own allies?
MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely. We hear that within the State Department. We know that there are those in the administration who don't necessarily feel like this is the way to go about it.
But remember what we heard during the campaign. Trump said NATO is obsolete at one point. At one point he floated the idea of, if countries don't pay their fair share, then NATO should not defend them. I mean that was seen as outrageous on many fronts.
And I know, from talking to senior European diplomats, that there has been a real fear that going into this summit, not only the optics of getting along great with Putin and calling out deliverables while speaking harshly of allies, there's been a fear that at this summit Trump is again going to float the idea of, if you don't pay, then defense should not be assured. And the assured collective defense is the whole point of NATO.
So when you read these letters and you see the language that is used, you get real pushback from allies. I mean one just told me on the German letter that the president doesn't seem to care about the relationships or the real difficulties and the time it takes to raise the levels of spending that he just wants to get that deliverable.
SCIUTTO: It's all transactional. And it's interesting how it fit the pattern right before the North Korea summit, right? You had a horrible G-7 summit in Canada where allies were at loggerheads. And then a kind of love fest in Singapore. And you might have the same dynamic here.
KOSINSKI: Yes. And also, at the G-7, let's, like, let's trash U.S. allies for this, that, and that, but then let's un-punish Russia.
KOSINSKI: Wouldn't that be a good idea? And this is why U.S. allies are so rankled and worried about what comes next.
SCIUTTO: Well, since we're talking about Russia, I want to bring in CNN's senior international correspondent Fred Pleitgen. He is in Moocow.
Fred, I know that you were speaking to Russian officials this morning. Is Russia welcoming the president's words in the last few days? Because, I mean, a lot of the things the president has said, for instance, on Crimea are right in line with Kremlin talking points. FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, they
certainly are. It was interesting because earlier this morning, Jim, we were speaking to the spokesman for the Kremlin, Dmitry Peskov, and we asked him about President Trump's apparent idea to start off the summit in Helsinki with a one-on-one meeting between himself and Vladimir Putin, which, of course, has raised some concerns in Washington. And they say they're absolutely up for that. They say they think it's a good idea. They say Vladimir Putin would certainly be up for it. They say Vladimir Putin would like all of this to take place in a context that is comfortable for his counterpart. Obviously meaning President Trump.
But at the same time, Jim, right now what you also have here in town is a congressional delegation that also wants to talk about a lot of the big issues right now between Russia and the United States. One of the biggest, of course, being Russia's meddling in the 2016 election. And it was quite interesting to see, because we spoke to Senator Kennedy, who was part of that delegation, and he said that they had some pretty strong meetings with the Russians and some pretty strong words for the Russians. Here's what he had to say.
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SEN. JOHN KENNEDY (R), LOUISIANA: Our discussions have been brutally frank, no holds barred, as candid as I have ever been. Speaking only for me, I asked our friends in Russia not to interfere in our election this year.
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[13:10:18] PLEITGEN: Now, the Russians, of course, Jim, for their part are saying, look, as far as meddling is concerned, they say they had nothing to do with it and they also say that if the president wants to talk about that at the summit, he'll get exactly that answer. It was interesting to see because the head of the Russian delegation, the counterparts, he said that, look, he believes that relationships can be mended. And certainly it seems as though right now the Russians believe that the White House is on a track that the Kremlin seems to like a lot, Jim.
SCIUTTO: Well, it was pretty remarkable to see a U.S. senator asking a Russian -- a hostile nation not to interfere.
Fred Pleitgen, thanks very much.
Well, from Russia to the nuclear negotiations with North Korea. Today in a tweet, President Trump took credit for avoiding an armed conflict with Kim Jong-un, saying, quote, many good conversations with North Korea. It is going well, exclamation point. In the meantime, no rocket launches or nuclear testing in eight months.
He went on to say in his tweet, if not for me, we would now be at war with North Korea. And one more exclamation point.
But recent information seems to indicate Kim Jong-un is not committed to denuclearization at all. An analysis of satellite imagery by researchers, this first picture from April, the second one from June, on the right, appears to show that North Korea is finalizing the expansion of a key ballistic missile manufacturing site. In fact, some of that was going on as Kim and Trump were meeting in Singapore.
Back with my panel right now.
If I could start, Kelly and Michael, with you. You worked for Republican administration, Democratic administration. There seems to be a pattern here where this president will get his briefings from the intelligence agencies, whether it's on Iran's compliance with a nuclear deal, Russia's interference in the election, or now North Korea expanding rather than pulling back on its nuclear program and ignore that. Do you ever see that happen in your Bush/Obama administrations?
ALLEN: No, I can't think of an example. But, look, the president here -- let's give him a little bit of space. He is trying to do something different on North Korea.
What we don't want to see it willful blindness when it comes to what the intelligence community is saying. It's OK for Pompeo, the secretary of state, to go back soon and try and get a road map, try and get these people to submit a full account of what their nuclear programs are. But what we don't want to see is just blindness going forward, that everything is great. Because remember what the president said is he didn't want to repeat the mistakes of the past. And so what we need to see is some serious, hard diplomacy coming out of this.
It's great that we're not on the brink of war, but, at the same time, we just can't give them a pass.
SCIUTTO: Isn't the mistake of both the Clinton, Bush, well, and Obama administrations with North Korea, right, is that you make agreements with them and they cheat? The trust -- forget trust.
MAGSAMEN: Yes, don't trust. And verify.
SCIUTTO: Yes. Yes.
MAGSAMEN: Yes, we've seen this movie before, which -- and I agree with Michael, it's important to give him some space. And I think Secretary Pompeo's trip will be instrumental in terms of deciding whether the North Koreans have made a strategic decision to denuclearize. I still don't think we know the answer to that question. I think the Singapore summit left that pretty much unanswered for most folks. It is clear that the North Koreans are proceeding with their program at pace. So Pompeo's trip is actually even more critical now.
I'm a little bit cynical. I actually think that President Trump, and even to some degree Secretary Pompeo, are perfectly willing to ride this horse as long as possible to serve the success narrative on North Korea, you know, through the midterms and the end of the year at least. I mean I think that this -- he feels -- the president clearly feels that's working for him politically. He's driving the success narrative. So I'm -- I'm -- I think Pompeo is going to want to urgently point to some sort of progress on this trip. KOSINSKI: And, remember, this went from the goal of they need to show
some historic action before we have a summit to, oh, well, the summit is the deliverable. There's the accomplishment.
SCIUTTO: Secretary Pompeo, he's not a neophyte to Washington, a long- serving member of Congress. He led the CIA until very recently. Is he more skeptical of North Korea's motivations here than the president?
KOSINSKI: I would say yes. I would say he presents himself as that. When the president says something that is vague or nobody understands what he means or what is the goal here, Pompeo goes out and explains it point by point and tries to make some sense around it and build up some boundaries around it, to some extent. But I think we're repeatedly seeing these tweets where the president wants to -- he's using the talking points of the rival to say, we have some accomplishments here, and how destructive is that in your negotiations?
KOSINSKI: It's like, where's your leverage if you're seeing things from the point of view of the person that you're trying to negotiate with.
SCIUTTO: All right, don't forget the political calendar. That's a good point, as often with this president.
Michael, Kelly, Michelle, thanks very much.
[13:15:02] She is one of the people on the president's Supreme Court short list. And I'll speak live with one of Amy Barrett's friends and colleagues as President Trump grows more intrigued by the idea of picking a female nominee for the Supreme Court.
Plus, one of the Russians charged in the Mueller investigation was reportedly closer to Paul Manafort, that is the president's former campaign chairman, than previously thought. We're going to have the details just ahead.
And how many political lives does Scott Pruitt have? As new scandals surface involving the EPA chief, a mother confronts him inside a restaurant.
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UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We deserve to have somebody at EPA who actually does protect our environment, somebody who believes in climate change and takes it seriously. So I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.
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SCIUTTO: President Trump tweeted today about his ongoing search for a Supreme Court justice to replace the retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. I interviewed four very impressive people yesterday, he wrote. On Monday, I will be announcing my decision for justice of the United States Supreme Court, exclamation point.
[13:20:09] One of those four was Amy Coney Barrett. She is a former clerk for the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Barrett is now a judge on the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago. That's a level just below the Supreme Court. She was confirmed just last October by a relatively close vote in the Senate, 55-43. She's already been through a Senate vetting.
Joining me now is Jennifer Mason McAward. She's an associate professor of law at Notre Dame. Also a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor. Judge Barrett is a former Notre Dame law -- law -- as a law professor you've known Judge Barrett for a number of years here and I wonder -- and just for folks at home who don't follow the vagaries or the styles of various justices, but would you say that she's kind of a Scalia model, very conservative, or more in that, you know, Kennedy was often a swing vote on many of these key decisions, who would you say she's closer to in her judicial style?
JENNIFER MASON MCAWARD, FRIEND AND COLLEAGUE OF JUDGE AMY CONEY BARRETT: I would say that Judge Barrett is her own person. She is just a really remarkable talent in every way. She's consistently excellent. She's an outstanding scholar and judge. She is a great colleague. She's a wonderful mother and wife. She's a great friend. And so I would just put her in her own category of just a really extraordinary person.
SCIUTTO: Well, I believe that, and I know you know her well personally and have worked with her. But on the key issue, which is really going to be the key issue here, is what are her judicial beliefs? You know, where does she stand on the spectrum? And can you give us insight into that? Is she a true guard (ph) in the wool conservative in the Scalia model, or is there more wiggle room there? I mean is she less easy to define?
MCAWARD: I think that Judge Barrett really takes her oath to uphold the Constitution and the laws very seriously. And so I would hesitate to put her in any particular camp. I just know that she's a very thoughtful, fair-minded, intelligent person who will do her very best to apply the Constitution and the laws of the United States, which would be her oath as a Supreme Court justice if the president chooses her.
SCIUTTO: OK, I want to read a quote from Judge Barrett regarding what's going to be a key issue in this next court, is the Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973. She wrote and she said about the precedent the following. I tend to agree with those who say that a justice's duty is to the Constitution, and that is thus more legitimate for her to enforce her best understanding of the Constitution rather than a precedent she thinks is clearly in conflict with it.
In that statement there, does that signal that on the Roe v. Wade decision she might put that as being one of those precedents that would be or could be in conflict with the Constitution in her view? MCAWARD: I would think that when Judge Barrett said that, she was
trying to draw a line between the concept of stare decisis, which is a prudential doctrine that courts use to decide when to adhere to precedent and when not to, and contrasting that with her view of when the -- her -- a judge's understanding of the Constitution would Trump adherence to precedent.
I have no idea how she would rule on any particular issue, but I am confident that she would do her very best to apply the Constitution and the laws in a fair-minded, thoughtful way that is respectful of the parties, respectful of precedent, and respectful of the Constitution.
SCIUTTO: President Trump has told colleagues, according to my White House colleagues, that he's happy with the idea of putting what he described as a true conservative woman on the bench. There was some who noted that Sandra -- those who know Sandra Day O'Connor, who was appointed by President Reagan in the 1980s, might bristle at that idea. Would you agree that the court still lacks a true or lacks having a true conservative woman? That the next nominee would be -- would fit that bill?
MCAWARD: You know, I'm so fortunate to have worked for Justice O'Connor, who was active in Republican politics and served as a state court judge before she ascended to the Supreme Court.
My sense is that any justice on the Supreme Court takes some time to figure out what their judicial philosophy is, you know, and how that works on an institution with nine members. And so, you know, Justice O'Connor kind of found her own path. And I'm confident that Judge Barrett, if she were nominated and confirmed, would also find her own path, just like any other justice.
SCIUTTO: Jennifer Mason McAward, thanks very much for taking the time.
MCAWARD: Thank you.
SCIUTTO: Coming up next, an elusive ally of Paul Manafort's believed to have close ties with Russian intelligence reportedly had a much bigger role in the Manafort company than previously believed. We're going to have the details.
[13:24:56] Plus, President Trump is escalating his attacks on Congresswoman Maxine Waters in an effort to cut down Democrats ahead of the midterms. Is his strategy of targeting her working?
SCIUTTO: We're learning new details about Paul Manafort's mysterious business association who is also indicted in the special counsel's Russia probe. According to internal memos and business records obtained by the "Associated Press," Konstantin Kilimnik was much more involved in creating a pro-Russia political strategy with Manafort than previously known. We should note that Kilimnik is a Russian who is known -- bereaved by U.S. intelligence to have ties to Russian intelligence. Joining me now to discuss this new development, former DOJ prosecutor
Joseph Moreno and CNN political correspondent Sara Murray.
So, Sara, how much closer to Manafort, the president's former campaign chairman -- or how much more closely was Kilimnik working with him?
[13:30:01] SARA MURRAY, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, look, we always knew that Kilimnik was working with Paul Manafort, that he helped to run this office that was based out of Ukraine.