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Embattled EPA Scott Pruitt Chief Directly Asked Trump To Fire Jeff Sessions And Let Him Run The Justice Department Instead; Trump Alleges Obama Admin Granted Citizenship To Iranians During Iran Deal Negotiations Without Proof; Trump In Ice Raids: It's Like You're Liberating A Town; Mom Confronts EPA Chief Pruitt, Urges Him To Resign; Mom Confronts EPA Chief Pruitt, Urges Him to Resign; Rep. Jordan Denies Accusations He Turned Blind Eye to Sex Abuse; Soccer Team Could Be Trapped in Cave for Months. Aired 7-8pm ET

Aired July 3, 2018 - 19:00   ET


[19:00:00] JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: I'm Jim Acosta, thanks very much for watching. Happy 4th of July everybody. "ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news, EPA Chief Scott Pruitt's personal appeal to the President. Why he wanted Jeff Sessions out at the State Department.

Plus, the official White House Twitter account used to take on top Democrats over immigration. Is that normal? And we're live on the scene of the cave rescue. I'm going to talk to a diver who is desperately trying to get the soccer team out. Let's go OUTFRONT.

Good evening, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan in for Erin Burnett. We begin with breaking news from the White House tonight. Embattled EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt appealing directly to President Trump this spring to fire Attorney General Jeff Sessions and let Pruitt himself run the Justice Department. This as we're learning about additional Supreme Court nominees that the President met with today.

Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONTat the White House for us. So Jeff, first, what can you tell us about the appeal from Pruitt directly to the President?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well Kate, this is just another interesting chapter and twist in this ever running Scott Pruitt story. We're told earlier this spring that Scott Pruitt, of course, the head of the EPA met with the President in the Oval Office. And he had a bit of a solution for him about one of the President's biggest problems, that, of course, is the Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

We know the President has been displeased at Jeff Sessions for a long time for refusing himself. Well, Scott Pruitt offered to be the next attorney general. And it's called -- he essentially would have filled the position for a couple hundred days under the vacancies act. It takes a confirmed member of the cabinet who is a lawyer to replace a fired attorney general. Well, of course, the President has not fired the attorney general. This didn't come to pass. But Scott Pruitt was volunteering to be the acting attorney general. And he said after his time is up, he would go back to Oklahoma to run for office. Well, of course, a lot of things have happened since then. He is still the subject of some 14 separate investigations into all types of wrongdoing.

So the President declined that offer. But it certainly interesting that he was making the offer, perhaps looking for a different type of exit because he certainly in the hot seat still at the EPA.

BOLDUAN: I can't wait to see what the next cabinet meeting looks like after this comes to light. Also, the President promises a big announcement on the Supreme Court nominee just days from now. We find out today that he also spoke with even more candidates, even more of a short list, if you will.

ZELENEY: He did, indeed. We are told by White House officials the President talked to three more potential Supreme Court justices. That brings up the number to seven that he has spoken with individually in the last couple days here. The President is still leaning toward an announcement next week in prime time on a Monday evening. He is looking at a variety of conservative justices, of course.

And I am told by White House officials the President believes he'll make up his mind long before next Monday. Some of this is simply an exercise to get some potential candidates vetted publicly here. But we know one thing, Kate, is interesting. The President is intent on appointing, nominated someone who is young. Most all of the candidates in their 40s and 50s.

And he has told people he wants someone on the Supreme Court to fill the seat of Justice Anthony Kennedy to be there for some 40 or 45 years. That certainly would place a conservative imprint on the court. So all of these candidates have clerked for Justice Scalia, Justice Kennedy, some others, and they have one thing in common, they're all quite young. Kate?

BOLDUAN: All right. Stand by to stand by. Jeff, great to see you. Thanks so much.

Also right now, President Trump is on stage in West Virginia speaking to service members and veterans. But one big question tonight as he is speaking, will he be speaking the truth? Because, today, the country got another look at President Trump's alternate Twitter reality. The President is in just a few short hours sending out a number of factually inaccurate statements, tweets which the White House says are officially presidential statements, tweets with no proof though to back them up. There is one thing backing him up, it appears, Fox News.

Here are two examples just from today. Here's the tweet. "Just out that the Obama administration granted citizenship during the terrible Iran deal negotiation to 2500 Iranians including to government officials. How big and bad is that?" That would be big. But, so far, no evidence that it happened. The former senior director of President Obama's National Security Council Jeff Prescott, he tells CNN this. "The allegation is absurd and entirely false." So where did the President get this idea? You probably guessed it, Fox News.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The chairman of Iran's parliament claims the Obama administration also granted 2500 U.S. citizenships to families and friends of the Iranian government.


BOLDUAN: But even Fox News admits their story is based on a claim by a single Iranian cleric and Member of Parliament quoted by the Iranian state media. And as Fox News notes in their story, their own Fox News Analyst and former Obama State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf says this, "This sounds like totally made up BS."

[19:05:09] And then there is this quote, "Many good conversations with North Korea. It is going well. In the meantime, no rocket launches or nuclear testing in eight months. All of Asia is thrilled. Only the opposition party which includes the fake news is complaining. If not for me, we would now be at war with North Korea.".

Well here are some additional facts for you. The President's own intelligence community, not the opposition party and not the media is making the case. Things are not, in fact, going well. The Defense Intelligence Agency believes that Kim Jong-un has no intention of giving up his nukes any time soon.

That's their report. So who says otherwise? You're probably sensing a theme here now. Here's what he heard watching Fox News.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No missile tests going on. And the North is clearly seriously negotiating and that is a major, major step forward.


BOLDUAN: Not to put too fine a point on it, but again these untruths are officially statements from the President of the United States. You don't have to take it from me, of course. Here's the President's former Press Secretary.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are President Trump's tweets considered official White House statements?

SEAN SPICER, FORMER WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Well, the President is the President of the United States. So they're considered official statements by the President of the United States.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BOLDUAN: That was true then. So I guess it's true now.

OUTFRONT now, Frank Bruni is here. He's a "New York Times columnist," Paul Begala, White House counselor to President Clinton and Steve Cortes, member of President Trump's 2020 re-election advisory council. Great to see you guys, thanks for coming in.

Frank, this is a President who has trouble with the facts. According to The Washington Post fact checker, it's on average six misstatements or mischaracterizations or just lies, false, misleading claims a day that's 3200 since he took office. Are there any signs that this is changing? What's the real impact of it?

FRANK BRUNI, COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": I don't think we're going to see this change at any point in the Trump presidency. I think a lot of us are thinking at some point he's the President. Elect to behave more presidentially which you would think includes having some tether to the truth. But that's not the case. That's not what's happening.

I think President Trump has learned that there are certain number of Americans who are not going see our fact checks, who are not going to hear the conversation that you and I are having now or the great lead in you just did. And they're going to come in contact with a tweet to this, they're going to hear something he says, they're going to take it at face value or they're not going to think any further than that. And he has seen that sometimes repeating an untruth, repeating an untruthful suggestion can actually have great impact.

He has brought down the approval numbers for Robert Mueller over the last month. And he's done that by making unfounded accusations and using the phrase which hunt over and over again even in context where it had no relevance or was completely unsubstantiated. So Donald Trump is learning that there is more upside than down side to telling lies and I think he'll continue telling them until the very end.

BOLDUAN: And branding has worked for years for him, worked during the campaign. Branding seems to be working now. I mean, Steve, these are official statements from the President. Are you OK with him tweeting these things that are not proven?

STEVE CORTES, MEMBER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S 2020 RE-ELECT ADVISORY COUNCIL: Look, I'm glad that Frank mentioned witch hunt, because if you look at the supposed lies that The Washington Post categorizes as such, many of them are opinions. So they will say when he says witch hunt, that counts as lie number one. Two, you know, 400, right? It's an opinion.

And, by the way, I think a very correct opinion. Regarding what you just said about Iran, I don't know if it's true or not. And, by the way, you don't know either, quite frankly. You don't. An d neither do you, Frank. We don't know.

BOLDUAN: I know. But Steve, I'm not going into a place where it's now my job to prove the negative. If the President has this information, it's important for the public to know and it would be important for the President to say it.

CORTES: Agreed.

BOLDUAN: But you heard what Marie Harf on Fox News says she thinks it's totally BS. Fox News is admitting this in the report.

CORTES: OK. But that's a very liberal analyst on Fox News. That's like me on CNN saying -- let's be honest about that, right? I typically don't agree with most people on CNN nor does she on Fox News.

But here's the point too I think on the President and Iran. I have learned when he says something that seems a bit outlandish, I learn to believe him because it normally becomes the accepted reality later on. For instance, I could have never believed that we would hand billions of dollars in cash on pallets in the middle of the night to the mullahs in Tehran. I would have never believed that.

BOLDUAN: Do you think -- Is it a safe place for you to be saying that Donald Trump is the truth teller of all truth tellers though? That's the point of what we're talking, what I'm talking about here.

CORTES: Look, I think this. When he offers opinion, he offers opinion. When he says it's a witch hunt, that's an opinion. When he says something like on Iran today, I don't know if it's true or not. I frankly don't.

Again, I've learned to believe him because he's right so often even when he says something that seems as if it's hard to believe. But here's the problem, I think in mainstream media. When you don't know either if it's true, you immediately call him a liar, and that is a lie in of itself. Because you don't know that it's a lie.

[19:10:05] So to call it a lie is a lie. And that's important to the American people.

BOLDUAN: I'm offering up the evidence that exists right now. If there is further evidence that exists, we're happy to report it as always.

CORTES: OK, but you don't know it's not true, Kate.

BOLDUAN: Paul, go ahead.

CORTES: But you don't know it's not true. You don't.



BOLDUAN: Are you speechless or you just now --

BEGALA: I am never speechless. I just wanted to make sure brother Cortes got a chance to make his case because it was staggering. Wow. Here's what it was. This is the point. President Trump has a strategy here. I do think the left is wrong when they say he's crazy or stupid. He is neither. He is strategic. And he is brilliant in his communication.

He is trying to kill the truth. He is at war with truth. Why? Because truth is always the enemy of wrongdoers. He believes, I think, he's acting like -- put it this way -- he's certainly acting like there are some powerful truths out there about him that he doesn't want his followers to believe. Those truths are likely to come out in the Mueller investigation, for example.

So when you go to war with truth like this which demagogues have done all through history, it's the first thing they do is attack truth. That's why he attacks the press. It's not that he doesn't like you, Kate. He doesn't like truth. And your job is actually to be faithful to facts. And his job is to deny facts so that at least some portion of America, not the majority, but some small portion, will stand by him as he proudly bragged even if he (INAUDIBLE).

And I think that's exactly what's happening. We are watching in real time a classic demagogue strategy to attack the truth.


CORTES: Paul, for you to call him a demagogue, by the way, is so irresponsible. And this -- we've gone down this line now 1,000 times. If we enforce our border, we're nazis, right? If we vote for Trump, we're nazis according to Donny Deutsch, according to James Clapper, former head of the CIA. I mean, these are not fringe people.

And for you to call him a demagogue is along that same line of reasoning. It's condescending, number one, but number two, it actually is helping our success, believe it or not.

BEGALA: I think it's kind of defending when I say he's not stupid but that's OK.

BOLDUAN: You know, but Steve, like -- OK, if we're going down the path of opinion, the press is the enemy of the people. You're comfortable with that opinion out there?

CORTES: He said, let's be precise here.

BOLDUAN: Oh, my god.

CORTES: He said the fake news press is the enemy.


BOLDUAN: Depending on the day, Steve, is all press.


BOLDUAN: Depending on the day is all press. Do you think I --

CORTES: Fake news. BOLDUAN: -- I'm not saying like me, Kate, but do you -- I mean, do you think you come on CNN because you want to speak to the enemy of the people?

CORTES: Look, I think this. The White House briefing room, I know most of those people. They detest the President. And they believe they are opposition party. And they think I think in their twisted view, they truly believe that they're doing some sort of noble service by serving as his opposition but they're not objective. They're not just a normal skeptical media. Their opposition advocates against the President. And the President recognizes that and the report on the falsities when it fits their narrative.

BOLDUAN: No matter what anyone's personal thing is they often do have to fact check him in real time, real facts, real fact checking, like as in this was your policy that separated kids at the border. Can you change it by an executive order? I absolutely can't. And then he says he can. Frank, you need to come in.

BRUNI: Well, Steve says the press, you know, is mocking us saying, you know, we think we're doing a noble service and we're not. Steve, with all due respect, are you doing a noble service to vouch for the character and truthfulness of a man who tweeted that he would have won the popular vote except for millions of votes by illegals -- or illegal voting by people who shouldn't have been voting without offering any proof? Are you willing -- are you doing a noble service when you vouch for the character and truthfulness of a man who said that there were Muslims in jersey city celebrating the fall of the world trade center, the Twin Towers?

I don't understand why you are so forgiving of the way Donald Trump uses lies and why you think he should be given the benefit of the doubt when he tweets something about Iran that has no backup. We're exposed to believe him before we doubt him even though you offers no proof -- I don't think you're offering a noble service to vouch for him in these circumstances.

CORTES: Well, I think the noble service, by the way, is we're a country that is becoming more prosperous and more safe under his leadership. And he is becoming, by the way, massively more popular as our economy grows.

BRUNI: Massively more popular, his approval ratings are still below 45 percent.


BOLDUAN: Paul, the economy is doing well though. Let's deal with that one fact. Paul, go. Final word.

BEGALA: As you know, Kate, I went to the University of Texas at Austin. And at the main building there, the tower, etched in stone is this phrase from Jesus Christ, John 8:32, "Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." Donald Trump fears if we know the truth the truth will destroy him, and he's right. That's why he's at war with the press. [19:15:01] That's why he's at war with the truth. That is why he is trying to destroy truth at least in that slice, maybe it's a third of the country, who voted for him and who believes in him. That's what he's trying to do and it's a very dangerous but so far relatively successful ticket (ph).

BOLDUAN: I'm glad that my attempt to cut through the noise and get through the facts today seems like it went down in a blaze of glory. Great to see you all. Thanks so much. So uplifting.

OUTFRONT next, raising eyebrows. The official White House Twitter account going after top Democrats by name. Is that ethical?

And taking on Scott Pruitt.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would urge you to resign before your scandals push you out.


BOLDUAN: The woman in that video is OUTFRONT tonight.

Plus, troubling allegations against Conservative Congressman Firebrand Jim Jordan accused of ignoring allegations of sexual abuse during his days as a wrestling coach.


BOLDUAN: Breaking news, President Trump in an event in West Virginia just now comparing ICE raids to liberating a town in war. Here he was just a few minutes ago.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It is. It's like liberating a town. Like in a war, you liberating a town or an area. And ICE goes in there and they go in there and sometimes they have to go in swinging. They don't mind. They're tough.

And then I hear Democrats saying, we want to abandon ICE. We want to abandon. We're not abandoning ICE. And we're not abandoning our law enforcement.


[19:20:04] BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT now, Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva of Arizona. Congressman, thanks for coming in.

REP. RAUL GRIJALVA (D), ARIZONA: Thank you a lot, Kate. Appreciate it.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. So, what you just heard from the President, ICE raids are like liberating a town in war. What do you make of the comparison? GRIJALVA: The comparison is consistent with what is coming from Trump. And the leadership of Homeland Security including secretary and the director that just retired, Homan, it makes this into a war zone, a military operation, that ICE (ph) at the point of the spear in that. And the analogies that he's made from infestation to swarms of criminals MS-13 coming over the border. Everybody is a criminal. And the results have been family separation.

And the splitting of children from their moms. The result has been that we have not taken care of the issue with the dreamers. And the result has been that the rhetoric has gone up. ICE has become, I think, because of the weak leadership of the Secretary of Homeland Security, quite frankly, the political implement for the rhetoric that Donald Trump has. And that is frightening. And the calls for ICE to be scrutinized, refocused, split up, abandoned and abolished are legitimate cause to what I think is a building crisis.

I don't see this lessening as we go in through the midterms.

BOLDUAN: Let me --


BOLDUAN: Let me ask you, because that is something that is absolutely seems to be a debate within the Democratic Party right now. Do you think ICE should be abolished?

GRIJALVA: Yes. I think we reached the point. And abolish is, you know, the nomenclature that we're dealing with right now. But certainly I think is Mr. Paul Kimball's (ph) asked for a commission to study, audit, look at mission and to look at how we restructure.

BOLDUAN: Isn't abolish and audit quite different?

GRIJALVA: Yes. They're quite different. But at the end of the day, the process is going to -- I think have to involve a restructuring of what ICE is and ICE will not be what it is right now. This can glamour (ph), this has everything from detention to internal and border enforcement and, you know, this administration is asking for additional $2.9 billion for detention for profit prisons. They're asking for 10,000 new ICE agents and building a force that quite frankly doesn't have the accountability, doesn't have the same structure as any other federal law enforcement for that matter even a town or city police department.

So there are so many things that have gone on that focusing on this issue I think is important, because this whole midterm is going to be about this same rhetoric that we're hearing from the President today.

BOLDUAN: So you remember the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. CNN is reporting that the Caucus has been circulating talking points that push back on what you're talking about, that push back on calls to abolish ICE. One quote for you, I'm sure, is abolishing ICE without changing President Trump's immigration policy will not solve the problem. Are they being too soft?

GRIJALVA: No. I don't disagree with that. And I don't think that any of us including members of the Hispanic Caucus are --

BOLDUAN: Well, I can feel like you're saying two different things at the same time.

GRIJALVA: No. We're not abandoning law enforcement. But the fact of the matter is and maybe I differ on that, that if we don't look at ICE as a principle instrument of the rhetoric of Donald Trump, if we don't look at it for what it has become and not what was intended to become when it was consolidated, then we're shirking our responsibility. I don't think there's a thing wrong with looking at ICE with the end result being a different configuration. If the word abolishment is appropriate, then it's appropriate.

BOLDUAN: So you think abolish means wipe it out and not have it back. That's what that means.

GRIJALVA: There is no abandonment of law enforcement. Before ICE., there was border enforcement. Before ICE, there was unauthorized entrants were dealt with. Before ICE, the smuggling --

BOLDUAN: Do I hear Democratic repeal and replace coming?

GRIJALVA: Well, I hope not. I think what we're talking about is maybe looking at an agency that in many respects has gone rogue and needs to have the constraints and other federal law enforcement agents like Marshals, FBI, AFP, et cetera have.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, though, Congressman, what do you say to folks who -- I mean, Trump looks like he's talking like he is very happy to have this conversation going in the midterms. Are you playing into his hands?

[19:25:02] GRIJALVA: Yes. I think that's a concern that I talked to with my colleagues, that we are providing him with additional ammunition. Quite frankly, the rhetoric around immigration, the rhetoric about increasing enforcement, the rhetoric about the bigotry that comes with this issue as well, it's not going to go away. That is the red meat issue for what he believes are his supporters. It's not going to go away.

So, us, not discussing the need to look at ICE and to have everything on the table including changing it is not going to change the emphasis or the concentration of rhetoric that is going to happen around the issue of immigration going into this midterm. Us not saying anything about it won't change it.

BOLDUAN: Meaning red meat with red meat. Congressman, thank you for coming in. And I appreciate it.

GRIJALVA: No problem. Thank you.

BOLDUAN: OUTFRONT next, Scott Pruitt interrupted.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just wanted to urge you to resign because of what you are doing to the environment and our country.


BOLDUAN: The woman who confronted Pruitt is my guest. Plus, an influential Republican Party Congressman, Jim Jordan, facing major accusations tonight of turning a blind eye to alleged sexual abuse. Jordan denies vehemently the accusations.

That story just breaking today. That's ahead.


BOLDUAN: New tonight, resign. That's the message from one woman when she came face-to-face with embattled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt in a Washington, D.C. restaurant. The confrontation, something to watch while she is holding her two-year-old son in her arms.


KRISTIN MINK, CONFRONTED SCOTT PRUITT IN RESTAURANT: I just wanted to urge you to resign because of what you are doing to the environment and our country.

[19:30:03] This is my son. He loves animals. He loves clean air. He loves clean water.

We deserve to have somebody at the EPA who actually does protect our environment and who believes in climate change and treats it seriously for all of us, including our children.

So, I urge you to resign before your scandal push you out.


BOLDUAN: The woman in that video, Kristin Mink, she is OUTFRONT now.

Kristin, thanks for coming in.

MINK: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: So, tell me, why did you decide? What was it about the situation that you decided that you wanted to go up to Scott Pruitt when you saw him at the restaurant?

MINK: Well, there was never a doubt about it my mind. As soon as I realize that he was there, I knew instantly that I wanted to take the opportunity to talk to him. I think probably maybe having my child there with me gave me a little extra push because this is the man who is literally undermining my child's future, the future of all of our children, the next generation.

He is actively sacrificing our clean air, our clean water to line his own pockets and the pockets of his friends. And this was my opportunity to call him out on it.

BOLDUAN: Kristin, I saw -- from what I saw in the video, Pruitt sits there pretty stoically throughout. Did he say anything to you?

MINK: When I came up, he said hello. And he confirmed that he was Mr. Pruitt. And, you know, he was -- you know, smiled and seemed, you know, friendly enough. At first I think maybe he thought I was a super fan of some sort or something.

And then, you know, of course, I suggested that he resign and the smile faded pretty quickly. He seemed annoyed at that point. And then when I started listing off some of his scandals, that's when his demeanor changed and he definitely stiffened up and looked angry, defensive, uncomfortable, as he should. It is embarrassing what he is doing.

BOLDUAN: Did he respond after the fact?

MINK: He did not, that I notice. I know that his office put out a statement that he said thank you or something. And, you know, I may have missed that. We may have stopped filming and sort of walking back, you know, and missed that.

I think it's telling that what they want to focus on is oh, you know, he said thank you. That's not really the issue here. My 2-year-old can say thank you.

The issue that we would like to address is what he's doing to our environment and the way he's spending taxpayer dollars on personal expenses, the way he's getting discounted rent from energy lobbyists that the EPA is supposed to be monitoring. That's what we'd like to talk about. But, of course, his defense is, well, I said thank you. I think that's telling.

BOLDUAN: You know, Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, she was recently asked to leave a restaurant that she was eating at. Today, she had this to say.

Listen to this.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I think it's sad the situation and where politics have gotten. Look, we live in an amazing country. And certainly, people should be free to disagree. But I think that we can do that in a way that is much nicer, that doesn't call for people to never be able to step foot in public.


BOLDUAN: Does she have a point? Should Scott Pruitt be able to eat in peace?

MINK: Listen, I'm not surprised that's what they want to talk about is the where and when as opposed to the issues. It's a distraction.

We pay these administrator's bills via taxes. They are our employees. Their job is to serve the public. If they're doing the job properly and if they want to do their job effectively, then they should want to hear from us.

And here I am telling him how I feel. That's exactly how it should go. You know, if they don't want to be called out in public, then they shouldn't make decisions that harm the rest of us.

BOLDUAN: There have been other confrontations with cabinet members. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen. She was recently heckled well at a restaurant over the administration's zero tolerance policy. I'm sure you've seen the video.

But for our viewers, here's just what it sounded like.


CROWD: Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame! Shame!


BOLDUAN: Kristin, were you inspired by that or do you think it's important to take a different approach? Because your approach was different.

MINK: I don't -- I didn't actually take any of those things into consideration. I only had a couple of minutes. I scribbled down a couple talking points on the back of my receipt and I went up to talk to him. So, I wasn't kind of running through the, you know, these events that made the news in the last week or two in my mind.

I really was approaching this not, you know, not as an activist or a protester in that moment. That was me speaking as a mom, like, this feels very personal to me. He's making the decision that are undermining the future for our children.

You know, he has kids. It's unfathomable to me how he can do this. So, that's what I wanted him to see.

BOLDUAN: And since it's just happening this evening, right now, I did want to get your thoughts on -- CNN has some reporting that Pruitt actually asked President Trump this spring to fire Jeff Sessions as attorney general and let him, Pruitt, take over as attorney general instead. Your thoughts?

[19:35:01] MINK: You know, it doesn't surprise me that Scott Pruitt thinks that he didn't have to follow the rules. I think that hearing that -- look, I'm not a Jeff Sessions fan by any stretch of the imagination, obviously. But him making that request to Donald Trump is beyond a breach of decorum. That is wildly unethical.

If anything, I think that makes it clear that it's time for Scott Pruitt to get entirely out of this administration.

BOLDUAN: Kristin, thanks for coming in. I appreciate it -- Kristin Mink.

MINK: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: I appreciate your time.

OUTFRONT next, troubling allegations against conservative Congressman Jim Jordan tonight. Did he ignore sexual abuse and reports of that at Ohio State University when working as a wrestling coach?

And this, the soccer team in Thailand still stuck in a cave. And it could take now months before they get out. We're going to talk to a rescuer on the scene.


BOLDUAN: Tonight, Congressman Jim Jordan, a powerful Republican, is being accused of turning a blind eye to allegations of rampant sexual abuse of male athletes by a team doctor at Ohio State University years ago. Former athletes are speaking out about Dr. Richard Strauss claiming that he sexually assaulted students starting in the mid-70s through the late 09's. Strauss died in 2005. Jim Jordan was an assistant coach to the team from 1986 to 1994.

The statement from Jordan's office is defiant and unequivocal, saying that the congressman never saw any abuse, never heard about any abuse and never had anything reported to him.

[19:40:07] Jean Casarez is OUTFRONT for us right now.

Jean, Jordan's statement also says that he has not been contacted by investigators about this. What's the law firm saying tonight?

JEAN CASAREZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the legal counsel for Ohio State University says that they did previously contact Congressman Jim Jordan's office by e-mail and phone to request that he participate in an interview. They say he has not responded to those requests.

But Jordan's office releasing this statement to CNN moments ago, saying, quote: Despite claims to the contrary, Congressman Jordan's office has not received a request for interview from the investigative team. We have demanded that they send us the supposed communication and remain willing to assist in any way that we can.

Now, the alleged doctor in all of this, who have molested male Ohio State University athletes, is former university physician, Dr. Richard Strauss. The team physician for athletics, from 1981 through 1995 at the university, he treated athletes from 14 sports there including wrestling. And that's where he overlapped with now Congressman Jim Jordan, a former assistant wrestling coach.

Ohio's attorney general's office in conjunction with legal counsel for Ohio State launched an independent investigation in April of this year and has interviewed at this point more than 150 former students and witnesses -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's amazing. And you just spoke to one of the former students who is coming forward. What did he tell you?

CASAREZ: Well, I did. His name is Michael DiSabato. He is a former student at Ohio State University. He was also a member of the wrestling team at the same time that he says Jordan was an assistant coach. DiSabato says he was sexually molested by this university doctor, that everyone knew about it, at least in the wrestling department, including the coach and assistant coach, Jim Jordan.

And to his knowledge, no one reported this to authorities. He said it was a, quote, running joke, that if you went to the doc's office, he would touch you inappropriately.


MICHAEL DISABATO, ALLEGES SEXUAL ASSAULT BY FORMER OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY DOCTOR: Doc Strauss was a serial groper of our bodies including our testicles. It's unfortunate. I consider Jim a friend. But for whatever reason, he's made the decision to deny something that was absolutely happening.

He had knowledge of it. I have personal knowledge he knew. His locker was next to Doc Strauss locker in the locker room.


CASAREZ: And as we have said, Congressman Jim Jordan defiantly has said he never had any knowledge of abuse going on at that time -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: A hundred and fifty people interviewed, just amazing.

Jean, thank you for bringing us that. All of this.

OUTFRONT for us next, why could it take -- why would it take months to get a soccer team out of the cave? We're going to show you what it's like inside.

And proud to be an American. Well, Jeanne Moos heads to the streets in search for the answer.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: If I had an opportunity, I would get the hell out of this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) country. Excuse my friends.


[19:46:57] BOLDUAN: Tonight, rescue teams in Thailand are working around the clock scrambling to free a youth soccer team from the flooded cave they've been trapped in for more than a week just found alive yesterday. Two navy SEAL divers, a doctor and nurse, were tending to the boys inside the pitch black cave now. Rescue crews have been bringing in food and water. Authorities there are looking at all of their options, none of them easy, to get the boys home.

Anna Coren is OUTFRONT in Thailand.

So, Anna, we're hearing that it could be months before the boys are rescued because of monsoon season. What's the latest there tonight? ANNA COREN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: For sure, Kate, they are preparing for these boys being trapped inside these caves for potentially four months. That's to sit out the rainy season. It's monsoon season here in Thailand. We had a break in the weather. But they are expecting heavy rains in the next couple of days.

Now, they are pumping water furiously from the cave, hundreds of thousands of liters every single hour. And they are making progress, reducing those levels. But they are now looking at ways to get the boys out, perhaps using a full face oxygen mask and being led out by those Navy SEALs.

So, if that happens, if they can get the boys feeling comfortable, this could happen a lot sooner than we expect. Now as for the spirits, we understand that they are in good spirits which is quite remarkable considering we are now entering day 11 of the saga.

You mentioned those navy SEALs. There are at least seven to 10 navy SEALs who have been by their side ever since they were discovered. And we also understand that there's a real camaraderie among these team members and that they are extremely resilient.

But, Kate, as we know, they are desperate to get out and be reunited with their families.

BOLDUAN: Just remarkable they're in good spirits right now, just remarkable.

Anna, thank you so much.

Tom Foreman is now OUTFRONT now.

Tom, this is a system of caves. And it's more than six miles long where the boys -- where the cave -- part of the cave where the boys were now was one mile in, more than a mile in. Explain what rescue workers are working against.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: They're working against darkness and cold and rushing water and time. Let's take a look at the structure of this mountain and the caves inside, what they have to deal with in terms of challenges there.

This is where the boys went in. They're more than a mile into the mountain side, more than a half mile down. And there is as far as we can tell no really complete diagram of the inside of this cave. No really good map.

But if we took a hypothetical cross section, we can explain why the boys are trapped there and why it's so hard to get them out. Let's say they came in down here. As they walk through the cave, they would have gone up and down and up and down.

And then when the monsoon rains rushed in, the water started filling in those gaps. And in some cases, you can see right there would have made it completely impassable. How many there are like this, we don't know. Are these big as a house? Big as a football field? We don't know.

We just know the professional divers a taking quite a bit of time from here to there. And if they want to bring the boys back out that way, as Anna just mentioned, they face real challenges.

[19:50:02] First of all, some of these boys are unable to swim. So, yes, a diver could tow someone through there, but they still have to be used to wearing a scuba mask and being under water for perhaps quite a period of time. Some of these waters are very murky, it's hard to see. There are heavy currents. There are cramped passageways.

All of which complicate that process and ultimately all of which could lead to panic, Kate, which could be dangerous for both the rescuer and the person being rescued.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. So, what about the alternatives?

FOREMAN: Well, Anna mentioned a few possibilities there. They could take the model from the Chilean rescue of 2010. Remember when those miners were caught underneath the ground there? They bored into the mountainside and were able to reach them and bring some of them out that way.

But remember, there were three different bore holes and it took more than two months before these happy reunion scenes finally occurred. So, maybe they could go with another option as again, we heard a moment ago, keep supplying these kids. Move them to maybe a slightly higher, safer platform there.

But again, you're betting on the waters going down. There is no sign that's going to happen any time soon.

BOLDUAN: Yes, betting on mother nature here is a scary thing. Thank you, Tom. I really appreciate it.

OUTFRONT now, someone who knows. Ben Reymenants, he's a cave diver on the ground in Thailand, part of the team trying to figure this all out.

Ben, thank you so much for taking the time.

You saw firsthand what the conditions are. Help us understand what it's like.

BEN REYMENANTS, ASSISTING WITH RESCUE EFFORTS FOR BOYS TRAPPED IN CAVE: (INAUDIBLE) underwater and with zero visibility, these were the first days when we arrived there. So, we had very little hope of getting them. But as the rain stopped, it got better. The visibility cleared up and current got less and we actually made good headway, and we made those, like your reporter said, the 1-1/2 miles into the cave to the place where the kids were.

BOLDUAN: How long did it take you to get in there?


You know, I spoke with one diver today who said that cave diving is tough for even some of the most experienced divers. It takes training, months of training. How difficult is it kids to dive when some of them don't even know how to swim? If that's what it come downs to?

REYMENANTS: In comparison, we dive caves every day. We do a lot of exploration. We wouldn't have dived this cave in any conditions at all. That's why there is no fixed lines in there, because it's only being done when it's dry and safe.

So, diving this cave is a Mt. Everest of cave diving with heavy fixed lines for about 1-1/2 mile into the cave. And it was the hardest job of all to connect the lifeline with the kids.


2There is now a doctor and a nurse that are in the cave with the boys and their coach. Can they survive in there for three, four months until the floodwaters recede? Is that a real option right now?

REYMENANTS: They're running out of options. The conditions were quite good. Heavy pumps are doing their job.

The water is receding quite a bit. It dropped six foot in the last days. They were hoping it would be low enough so they could literally swim the kids out. But the water has risen. Yesterday, the water came up a bit, and they're expecting heavy rains, which would flood the entire system.

You've seen the base on footage. If the rain starts, these would all flood, making the distance to the entrance double, which would make it impossible to get to the kids. So yes, they would have to be literally locked up for three or four months until the rain stops and the water resides. They would take big packs of food with them for this time.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, Ben, you said you were surprised that they were all alive and in good condition. I think everyone probably is. Do you know how they spent those nine days in pitch-black before they were found?

REYMENANTS: I have a team of doctors that are consulting me. They were a bit worried about their mental state. Obviously, ten days with no solid food, no light, probably bats flying around against them, which is not very stimulating for the mental health.

But surprisingly, yes, one of the British surfaced there first, and they were talking English with them, asking them what day it is and do you have food this we are hungry. So yes, they are in very, very good shape.

Obviously, muscle atrophy, too weak to walk, and that's what they're doing right now, supplying them with a little bit of food and slowly getting their powers back.

BOLDUAN: It's a good news and scary news story all wrapped into one. Thank god they're alive. Really up against some challenges still.

Ben, thank you for what you're doing. Thanks for coming on.

REYMENANTS: Thanks for having me.

BOLDUAN: Thanks.

REYMENANTS: Coming up next for us, a new poll finding patriotism is fading. Did anyone tell the president?


[19:58:11] BOLDUAN: Tonight, on the eve of the 4th, do you feel proud to be an American?

Here is Jeanne Moos.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Is once exploding American patriotism starting to fizzle? Would you call yourself extremely proud to be an American?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at the moment, sorry.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (singing): I'm proud to be an American --

MOOS: Only 47 percent of Americans say they're extremely proud to be an American. That's the lowest level since Gallup first asked the questions 17 years ago.

Extremely proud, very proud, moderately proud, only a little.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think I could be prouder to be an American.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A hundred percent patriotic.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would say I'm embarrassed to be an American right now.

MOOS: And you're a proud citizen?


MOOS: Immigrants gave us especially heartfelt answers. For instance, this naturalized citizen from India.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I used to be very proud. I would say I'm moderately proud now. It makes me heartbroken, and hopeful that I shall be extremely proud again.

MOOS: Those who admit to a slide in their pride tend to blame a president who has wrapped himself in the flag.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'd be extremely if Trump wasn't president.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's a shame. It's disgusting.

MOOS: I'm going to put you in the not at all proud to be an American.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not at all. If I had an opportunity, I would get the hell out of this (EXPLETIVE DELETED) country, excuse my French.

MOOS: Thirty-two percent of Democrats told Gallup they were extremely proud compared to 74 percent of Republicans. The president's patriotism never flags.

TRUMP: So many stars. If she wasn't my flag, I'd be dating her.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN --

MUSIC: God bless the USA --

MOOS: -- New York.


BOLDUAN: All right, people. Let's be a little glass half full on this Fourth of July Eve. At least we're still American.

Thanks for joining us tonight.

John Berman is in for Anderson Cooper. "AC360" starts now.