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Official: Health Of Remaining Five People In Thailand Cave "Still Good"; Divers Rescue Eight Boys From Flooded Cave In Thailand; Britain Government In Turmoil As Foreign Secretary Resigns; Trump: I'll Finalize Decision On Nominee By Noon. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 9, 2018 - 11:00   ET




KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan. We are following breaking news this morning on the story the entire world is watching. Officials in Thailand just wrapped up a news conference about the slow but so far successful in almost a miraculous way rescue of a youth soccer team trapped for more than two weeks in a flooded cave.

Four more boys have been brought out alive today, that's in addition to four rescued on Sunday. Now divers must race the clock and the rain, of course, to get the final four boys and their coach out before the next downpour.

CNN's Matt Rivers is at the hospital where the boys are recovering. Ivan Watson is at the cave. Let's go first to Matt Rivers. Matt, talk to me about what have we just learned from the press conference, from the authorities. What's the very latest here?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. We just heard a press conference wrap up by authorities here in Thailand. Obviously, a lot of questions reporters are trying to get answered here. But a couple of key lines we can share with our viewers, we know that the four boys that were evacuated from this cave before were actually in better condition than those who were evacuated on Sunday.

They didn't really go into too much detail on that. That's one of the consistent things between yesterday and today. The boys who have made it here to the hospital, and we should add, all eight boys that have been evacuated from the cave so far are on the eighth floor of that hospital behind me.

We haven't gotten a ton of word about their condition. But it does appear that the boys taken out today were in better condition than the ones taken out yesterday. Now, in terms of the operation itself, we know that it has wrapped up for the day. Rescue operations have shut down for the day.

And what we were told at this presser was that rescue workers will need at least 20 hours with the timeline to prepare for the next operation, but that things could also change based on water levels. We know that it's July in Thailand it rains a lot. Rain is in the forecast and if those water levels rise in the cave, that of course increases the sense of urgency there. Monday's rescue was actually carried out four to five hours ahead of schedule because of favorable conditions.

Basically, at this point, what divers are doing is resting, trying to get ready to take the remaining five members of this soccer team, of course, the four boys and their coach, out of that cave, but so far, it appears that today's operation went quite well.

All eight boys in an isolation unit in that building there in the hospital behind me. And the recovery begins for them, while we wait with bated breath, really, to see if authorities can continue their successful streak here and come tomorrow here in Thailand, extricate the last five people remaining deep underground in that cave.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. All right, Matt Rivers, thanks so much, Matt. We're going to get back to Ivan Watson when we can reconnect with him. He's at the cave following everything from the ground there.

But let's now talk about the -- it's dark, it's deep, it's dangerous. The rescue mission has gone remarkably well, considering what the divers, what those teams are up against. CNN's Tom Foreman is here with much more on that. So, Tom, lay out for viewers in the very unique perspective that you can bring here, what they're up against.

TOM FOREMAN, CNN WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Kate, it has gone remarkably well to the point of almost being miraculous. Look at it this way. These divers with covering 11 hours to cover the 2 1/2 miles in and back out again. Now they're doing it in 9 hours with the boys in tow.

And we're learning more about exactly how they're accomplishing that. It's roughly the same 18 divers who started the thing who are still carrying forward. So, they've taken on a huge burden here.

What they're doing with each boy is they're putting each one into a wet suit and a full body mask. The wet suit to help them with the cold, maybe to help them move through those tunnels a little bit better.

That boy is then tethered to the first diver who carries the air supply for both of them. They're all holding on to a line to get in and out and followed by yet another diver to make sure they can move safely through.

But they are doing this in the most hostile environment you can possibly imagine. Look at this, this is the cave, and what we know about the layout, which is very limited. There's still problems about what we know, but by some indications, a full kilometer or a quarter of this remains fully submerged.

It may not be all in one place, but that's equal to 11 football fields that these kids and divers have to go through on the way out, underwater. And in some cases, when they go through the cave, they're also passing through entrances that are really no bigger than a single human being, with cold and currents and limited visibility. Huge challenge.

And yet, look where we are. We went into the weekend with that many people trapped in the cave, all of them, and now, here we are, by Monday morning, and we're passed the halfway point in terms of people getting out -- Kate.

[11:05:06] BOLDUAN: It's really amazing how quickly things have changed. It was just last week they were still talking about it could be four months that they could be waiting this out. But Tom, they have to pause now. They have to set up supplies again. They have to rest. How quickly do you think they're going to be back at it?

FOREMAN: I think for all of that, they're going to move as swiftly as they can and there's one simple reason why, water. The rains are coming back. They have been pumping at their height here more than 400,000 gallons per hour to make part of this cave walkable.

They substantially lowered the water level. With the rain coming back on, they know that all of that could be lost. That's why they're wasting no time at all, as tired as everyone is, to say, get in there, get the last five, get it over with -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. Tom, thanks so much for bring us the perspective. I really appreciate it.

With more perspective, joining me right now underwater explorers, Tim Taylor and Christine Dennison. It's great to see both of you. Thanks for being here. Amazing how things have changed since you and I spoke last, Tim. We were talking about, this may be forced to wait this out for four months. Now you have eight of the boys out successfully. Give me your thoughts on how things have changed here.

TIM TAYLOR, OCEAN TECHNOLOGY AND ROBOTICS EXPERT: Well, I mean, as far as my feelings about this thing, totally encouraged that this is going to happen. So. I -- again, I don't want to cause any bad luck, but I think that this is amazing. This is an amazing feat and accomplishment. And I'm encouraged.

BOLDUAN: Christine, everyone's trying to offer some perspective, as so few people can understand what diving under these circumstances could mean. Under the best circumstances, someone has described it to me as, like the Mt. Everest of diving and what they're up against in this cave. What does it mean, then, to also have, essentially, someone who is as inexperienced as a child then tethered to you and how to navigate it? The challenges they're up against in there?

CHRISTINE DENNISON, REMOTE EXPEDITION SPECIALIST: First of all, this is an excellent team. The divers that they have there, there are cave divers that are seasoned and the best in the world. So that team that's been assembled are at the top of their game.

That's to say that they're also dealing with duress and fatigue and all, but there's an emotional issue behind everything here that they're doing, including the kids. The kids are being very well taken care of, from everything we can see.

That full face mask that we were all very cautious about actually seems to have been the right choice and the right option for them, and as much as what they're doing with these kids is they've already practiced. They're taking them into the water and pretty much just saying, just keep breathing, we've got you.

And so, they're holding on to this child, it's very tactile. There's a lot of comfort for this child going through the water, knowing there's someone in front of him, someone behind him, and they've got ahold of him and all he has to do is breathe. And that's making this job a lot easier for them. They didn't really try to do too much as far as teaching them, just getting them comfortable to get them out.

TAYLOR: I would assume, they're also managing their gas. When people think, a 12-year-old has to get in the water and dive and do all the skills that are associated with diving, as Christine said, they're just breathing, they have hoses probably rigged to their own gear, so if the child breathes heavily or too much --

BOLDUAN: You've got to be able to gauge it.

TAYLOR: You can gauge it, but they can also probably change tanks. They can plug in or valve over to another reserve tank, so the divers are carrying the gas source, and can they have to just stay with them.

BOLDUAN: In the event they need to communicate, this is an hour's long -- these are hours that they're in the water. If they would have to communicate with the child, how do they? I know how we would communicate in clear water, if we're diving together. But if it's -- if it's completely dark, if it's completely murky, what do they do?

TAYLOR: Typically, it's hand signals. It's one, one two, one two three, you have stop, go, I'm having a problem. They'll tug on the back of your buddy's fin. And they can reach back and do the same thing. And in the full-face masks, you can talk underwater if you're real close to each other.

And get some knowledge from that. That being said, it's not real efficient and the language has to be there. So, there's another reason why the Thai divers are key, because they can have the language barrier, if that was ever a chance for them to put mask to mask and try to talk through those full-face masks.

DENNISON: I would just add, I'm sorry, because we've worked with kids in caverns and one of the things you establish before you get them in the water is their comfort level. Make sure they're ready. And then they're also, as Tim said, you really need to sort of let them know, if anything goes wrong, just grab my hand, pull on my hand. They may not remember all the signals that cave divers understand, the line ties and all of that.

[11:10:03] So, with kids, they're probably saying, if you're uncomfortable, grab my fin and they'll know something is not right and they'll stop and do what they can. But it's going to be very, very simple for them. BOLDUAN: And Tim, real quick, you said that the rescuers have these teams of 18, this team of 18 people and they need at least 20 hours to prepare for the next operation. The timing the change depending on the weather and the conditions. What needs to happen in these 20 hours? I mean, I would assume a large part of this is rest.

TAYLOR: Yes. These guys are taxed environment. Just the thermal loss of heat in their body, they have to replace. They have to eat. They have to sleep. They have to mentally get ready for this. And then keep in mind, they have to go back. So, they've took nine hours to get the children out. They have to go back in nine hours. So, part of that 20 hours is probably them going back in to start this over again.

BOLDUAN: Can I just get your reaction to the fact that where this started, they couldn't even find them. Then they found them alive and eight of them are out successfully. Just your experience as divers what this is.

DENNISON: I think it's the second part of this miracle. I think it's fantastic. It's wonderful. I really give incredible credit to this rescue team. Because the kids, they know what they know and they're already under a lot of stress, but the divers knew exactly what's going on.

They know the dangers, they know what can go wrong. So, they have that stress with them the whole time, and it's very emotional for them, knowing what they're going in to do and what could go wrong. Whereas the kids, they're being told, we're getting you out, and that's all you can do. But really the dive team is who I feel for at the moment. And hopefully, we will have the last four out tomorrow.

TAYLOR: This is a terrestrial Apollo 13, that's what it is. It's -- if this is successful, which we all hope it is, it's up with of those stories that this is the way you want it to end. You want all of these bright boys back.

BOLDUAN: Who will be telling stories of this and things that they've learned through this process, a lot to learn from the success so far. But again, still five people in there. Four boys and their coach. Let's see how the next 24 hours, 48 hours plays out. I really appreciate it. Great to see you guys. Thank you so much.

Following some more breaking news out of London. British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has resigned. He's the second cabinet minister to quit in 24 hours over how Prime Minister Theresa May wants to handle the country's exit from the European Union, Brexit, of course.

Just last night, the top Brexit negotiator, David Davis, turned his resignation into May. All of this has thrown the British government into major turmoil. Prime Minister May is speaking to parliament and she's defending her decisions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The cabinet agreed a comprehensive and ambitious proposal that provides a responsible and credible basis for regressing negotiations with the E.U., towards a new relationship after we leave on the 29th of March next year. It is a proposal that will take back control of our borders, our money, and our laws.


BOLDUAN: All right. Joining me right now, CNN international diplomatic editor, Nic Robertson. Nic, what has been the reaction there? What does this all mean?

NIC ROBERTSON, CNN INTERNATIONAL DIPLOMATIC EDITOR: Raucous, in a word. I mean, look, we all know what it's like in Houses of Parliament. There are MPs shouting, there are cheers, there's jeering, and the biggest jeer came when Theresa May is saying, this is what we put forward to the European Union, this has been very challenging.

And there were huge jeers and derision, because many see her as walking back in the face of that European Union opposition to the British position. And when she started back again, her voice almost sounded weaker.

Look, this debate that we're hearing in parliament right now is Theresa May setting out everything that her cabinet had agreed on Friday, sequestered without their mobile phones, they'd all agreed to this.

Now Monday morning, we're finding out the cabinet hadn't agreed. Two key cabinet members and the current including the charismatic Boris Johnson are gone, they've resigned. The question is, will more people follow suit?

Without perhaps -- you know, without sort of, you know, to be unexpected in this, the leader of the opposition absolutely castigated the prime minister saying, you've had two years to put together this Brexit deal.

You thought you had a plan over the weekend. It fell apart in two days. You can't leave the country, you can't save the jobs. But I think the most telling points the prime minister was getting from strong members of her own back bench who have been longtime critics of her Brexit policy, who want to see a tougher Brexit, who think she's been backsliding on her original commitments.

And I think that tells you there are more people in her party who may be minded to try to formulate a leadership challenge. And the fact we haven't heard more from Boris Johnson through the rest of today tells us that perhaps that's the corner it's going to come to.

[11:15:07] Theresa May right now is in a very weak position, put down by the opposition, no surprise there. But really given a rough ride by many members of her own conservative party. That's where her weakness lies right now. And of course, on top of all of this, this is what she laid out is only her plan.

A plan essentially to keep the conservative party together in these Brexit negotiations. There's no indication at all that the European Union will sign up or agree to this. And that's part of the problem because people think she's weak. The European Union will apply more pressure, they won't be happy with this and she may backslide further.

BOLDUAN: Yes, can Theresa May survive all of this is now the new question after we see these resignations. And now what does this all mean as President Trump will be heading there very soon next week. Great to see you, Nic. Thank you so much.

Coming up for us, break out your countdown clock. President Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, he said he would make his decision by noon today. The latest details on one of the most consequential decisions of President Trump's tenure. That's next.

Still ahead, is Michael Cohen sending the president a message? His lawyer's cryptic tweet after Rudy Giuliani asked Cohen to tell the truth.



BOLDUAN: President Trump just minutes away from finalizing one of the most important and consequential decisions of his presidency. He told reporters this weekend that by noon Eastern that he will have settled is on his nominee for the supreme court. The announcement scheduled for a big prime-time reveal.

But there's no need to hype the gravity of this decision. That is not lost on the president. This morning tweeting this, "I have long heard the most important decision that a U.S. president can make is the selection of a Supreme Court justice, will be announced tonight at 9:00 p.m."

CNN's Abby Phillip is at the White House for us. Abby, we are just hours away from that announcement. So, where do things stand right now? What are you hearing?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, as far as we know, it seems like President Trump hasn't fully settled on the person that he wants to choose for this position. Now, he is waiting up until the minute and perhaps for good reason.

This is, as he pointed out, one of the most important decisions a president can make. It is his second Supreme Court pick of his presidency so far. And what he has gotten over the last several days is just an avalanche of feedback from conservatives inside of Washington, outside of Washington, weighing in on these four candidates you see on the screen.

One of the key bits of information the president would have gotten is from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has weighed in telling the president who he thinks could be the easiest to confirm. Those would be Raymond Kethledge and Thomas Hardiman, Hardiman being the runner up last time around. And someone who people weren't exactly sure would end up this in final four, and here we are. And it seems like the president is weighing that.

But he's also weighing a lot of conservatives who have weighed in a lot of the other candidates. Brett Kavanaugh who was seen as a favorite for this post up until the last few days ago.

And Amy Coney Barrett, one of the only women on the list and one of the few women in the finalist range here as we got into this last week. So, the president is just hours away from this.

I have to say, Kate, he's been shifting his timeline for deciding for the last several days. On Friday, he said he would do it by Sunday night, then Sunday night, he said by noon. He has until 9:00 p.m. tonight to make the final decision. And we don't know exactly when that's going to be -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: That's right. Abby, great to see you. Thank you so much.

Let's talk to two people now who know some of these candidates and have some idea who of they think the president should choose. Jonathan Adler is hear, a professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law, who knows two of the candidates, Barrett and Kavanaugh, and Terry Schilling, executive director of American Principles Project, a conservative group that has been lobbying the president on selecting a nominee.

Thank you both for being here. Really appreciate it. Jonathan, you know Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett professionally. Kavanaugh is the most traditional choice, you say it, why?

JONATHAN ADLER, LAW PROFESSOR, CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY: Well, he has 12 years of experience on the D.C. Circuit, which is often considered to be the second highest court given the sorts of cases that it hears. He has executive branch experience. He has extensive private sector experience.

So, if you're looking for someone who fits the mold of a traditional Supreme Court nominee, he certainly fits that. Judge Barrett, because she's primarily been an academic, is a slightly different sort of candidate for this position.

It's been a long time since a president has nominated someone whose reputation is primarily based on their economic scholarship, but she's a very well respected.

BOLDUAN: Is that why you -- why you kind of put her as the dark horse candidate? Is that why?

ADLER: A little bit. I mean, she's only been on a federal court for eight months. No one questions her intellect. She is a very well- respected scholar. She's written some very important work and she has an impressive intellect. But she doesn't fit the mold that we've come to expect in Supreme Court nominees. BOLDUAN: So, Terry, you and your group have written a letter to the president, making the case that Amy Coney Barrett is the best of all of the candidates. You think he's anything but a dark horse choice. Tell my why.

TERRY SCHILLING, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN PRINCIPLES PROJECT: Look, I think there are three things that make Amy Barrett stand out, and that's that she's confirmable, battle tested, and not a stealth candidate. She's a candidate in the mold of Antonin Scalia.

Back in November, she went through rigorous tests and she brought over three Democrats, Donnelly, Manchin and Kaine. And I think that puts the Democrats -- I'm sorry, Donnelly and Manchin in very tough positions coming up in the confirmation hearings, and Trump will take that into consideration, how the U.S. Senate plays in this and how it changes the midterm elections.

BOLDUAN: Terry, I've also seen you say, it would be better to just leave the seat open until next year than fill the seat with a weak nominee. Are any -- you clearly think Coney Barrett is a strong nominee, but are any of the three finalists do you think are weak?

SCHILLING: Last week, emotions were very high across the movement and I think rightfully so. This is going to be President Trump's most important decision that he makes in his presidency, at least so far, but emotions have subsided, and the facts and the records have been analyzed.

And the movement right now that feels that any of these four candidates would be a huge improvement. They range from good to great and we're going to be lucky if we get any of them. And I think the conservative movement will rally behind any of the four nominees that have been put forth.

BOLDUAN: OK. Jonathan, all the reporting from the weekend is that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made the case to the president that Judge Kethledge and Judge Hardiman, the two we haven't talked about yet, are the most confirmable in his view. That they face the least obstacles. And to McConnell, it seems to all be about their paper trail. Do you think that's the case?

ADLER: I think any of the four would eventually be confirmed. I think the concern that McConnell raised is that someone like Judge Kavanaugh has written close to 300 opinions. Over a hundred of them involved complex administrative law questions. That's a lot of material to go through.

Judge Barrett has written some very dense, thoughtful law review articles that will also take time to go through. And I think he's concerned that if one of the two of them were nominated, Senate Democrats would claim they need more time to review the records.

But I think both of their records are comparable in terms of the amount of paper of other nominees that have gone through on a relatively quick pace. So, I understand his concerns, but I think any of the four nominees would be confirmed and could be confirmed on the schedule that he set forth.

BOLDUAN: Well, let us see, shall we? Great to see you both. Thank you so much for coming. I appreciate it. I want to bring in someone who will have a key vote in this process, Republican Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. He sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senator, thanks for coming in.


BOLDUAN: So, you have said that the justice that you're looking for would be a cross between Socrates and Dirty Harry. Do any of the four candidates fit that profile?

KENNEDY: I like what I see on paper. But we don't know yet, that's why we're having a confirmation process. I'm looking for somebody smart, obviously, somebody who's intellectually curious, open-minded, someone who's willing to test his or her assumptions against the arguments of those who disagree.

I want somebody at the same time who has the courage of his or her convictions and I don't want to hate her. I want somebody -- I'm rather fond of the Constitution, I think we all are, and I want somebody who respects the Bill of Rights and understands why we have a bill of rights. You really can't tell whether that standard can be reached until you have confirmation hearings.

BOLDUAN: You've given it to some of the nominees for other judicial posts. I remember watching many a hearing from you. But what's the Dirty Harry element of this? What about Dirty Harry are you liking here?

KENNEDY: Well, this is -- you've got to know what you believe and when you think you're right, be willing to stand up and be counted. At the same time, a good judge is open-minded and willing to test his or her assumptions against their critic's argument. So that's both Dirty Harry and Socrates.

BOLDUAN: Who knew they were so alike. McConnell, according to multiple reports, is saying that Kethledge and Hardiman are going to be the easiest to confirm. Do you agree with Senator McConnell?

KENNEDY: I think there's going to be a war, regardless. Look, that's Senator McConnell's job. He's in management. I'm not. I just want to pick -- I want the president to pick the very best person and then allow us plenty of time to see how these folks think, this person thinks. This may be the most important vote I'll take, certainly, one of the most important votes I'll take in the United States Congress.

BOLDUAN: That's for sure.

KENNEDY: And I don't come in -- look, I take my job seriously. We all do. I'm not a rubber stamp for anybody. I got some hard questions, whoever the president nominates.

BOLDUAN: You want to me tell me what your first question is? KENNEDY: I'm going to delve into how they interpret a statute, and therefore, how they would interpret the Constitution, when it's not clear.