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Kavanaugh Argued Against Probes, Indictments Of Presidents; Supreme Court Nominee Kavanaugh Meets With GOP Leaders; Rescue Complete, All 12 Boys Coach Out Of Flooded Cave. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired July 10, 2018 - 11:00   ET



POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: -- Kate Bolduan begins right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm in Kate Bolduan. A fierce confirmation battle is underway, and a charm offensive is about to begin. Just minutes from now, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee arrives on Capitol Hill for Brett Kavanaugh's first very critical meetings with Republican senators.

Democrats are wasting no time, though, Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and other Democrats are out protesting his nomination on the steps of the Supreme Court already this morning with a deep partisan divide that's going nowhere and a razor-thin Republican majority in the Senate.

Kavanaugh must know that he cannot lose really a single Republican vote without jeopardizing his confirmation. This morning, President Trump at least sees nothing but smooth sailing ahead.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Brett Kavanaugh has gotten rave reviews, rave reviews, actually from both sides. And I think it's going to be a beautiful thing to watch over the next months. He has gotten rave reviews.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Manu Raju is on Capitol Hill. Let me bring him in right now. So, Manu, Kavanaugh is meeting with the vice president and Mitch McConnell any minute now. That's a huge first meeting in a row of a bunch of big meetings that the nominee will have with senators. What's going on up there?

MANU RAJU, CNN SENIOR CONGRESSIONAL REPORTER: Well, right now the battle lines are being drawn. You are seeing Democrats in large measure saying they would oppose and fight this nomination tooth and nail. Republicans in large measure saying they're going to support this nomination, try to get it confirmed.

But ultimately, Kate, this is going to come back with a handful of Democratic and Republican senators, moderates, who will determine whether or not Kavanaugh will be the next Supreme Court justice. And some of those senators today I've had a chance to talk to them, and they're keeping their powder dry. They are waiting to have their own private one-on-one meetings with Kavanaugh.

They have a number of questions about his record, about issues that they're concerned about including Senator Susan Collins of Maine. The Republican moderate, who a lot of Democratic senators also will be looking at and determining how they may ultimately vote.

She's one who's raised concerns about anyone who could upset established precedent including over Roe versus Wade, and I asked just her moments ago about a dissent that Kavanaugh wrote in which he dissented from an opinion involving a case that allowed -- permitted an undocumented immigrant teenager to get access to an abortion. She said this --


SENATOR SUSAN COLLINS (R), MAINE: I'm sure that that's the case that we will discuss. His opinion in that case contrasts with that of Judge Henderson who went way beyond where Judge Kavanaugh went. But obviously, that's one of the cases that I'm sure I will be discussing with him.


RAJU: She also said it's too premature to render a judgment about whether or not he is considered a conservative, a mainstream conservative on this court. I also caught up with some other -- some Democratic senators including ones who are in difficult re-election races who are targeted as part of this confirmation process.

One is Joe Manchin of West Virginia, could raise concerns about any nominee, who could undermine pre-existing conditions, protections under the Affordable Care Act. I asked him specifically why he's raising those concerns. Now whether Kavanaugh could alleviate those concerns?


SENATOR JOE MANCHIN (D), WEST VIRGINIA: West Virginia has 800,000 West Virginians that the lawsuit that has been filed, Texas versus the United States, if that's upheld and DOJ backs off, I have 800,000 people in jeopardy.

RAJU: Do you want him to make reassurances that he would not --

MANCHIN: I'm going to look at all his findings and everything he's ruled on --


RAJU: So, I asked Manchin if he believes that Kavanaugh should release emails that he authored when he worked as part of the Bush administration. That is something that some Democrats are calling for. Manchin said the more information the better. But nevertheless, Kate, these key senators keeping the powder dry and it probably will for some time as this confirmation process unfolds and they ultimately take their position.

The pressure is just going to be building on them because ultimately, they're going to be the ones who are going to decide whether or not Kavanaugh becomes the next Supreme Court justice -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. And I know, of course, Manu, this is day one and many days to come. But is there any sense yet that you're hearing on timing, hearings, or votes?

RAJU: We don't know that yet. I did ask Chuck Grassley, Senate Judiciary Committee chairman about that last night. He said it really depends on the length of the record of the nominee, how many documents to get, how much they'll get turned over how quickly.

He wouldn't commit to having a hearing before September. So, we'll see, Kate. But typically, these nominations could run up to two, three months. We could see this happening October, up until to October right before election day presumably -- Kate.

[11:05:10] BOLDUAN: All right, Manu, what viewers are looking at, at the very same time as if on cue, we'll put it up for you. It's vice President Pence, Brett Kavanaugh, arriving on Capitol Hill. They're walking up the steps right now.

They're heading in for that first meeting with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. We are told there will be a photo spray at the top of it. We'll bring that to you as soon as it happens.

See what they will say -- Mitch McConnell always tightlipped when it comes to these types of things regardless. Let's see what he has to offer today. We will be following them as they walk their way through Capitol Hill.

BOLDUAN: Kavanaugh's judicial record, though, is now under the microscope as it is for any Supreme Court nominee. Three areas of focus -- Manu was hitting on them really. His rulings on Obamacare, writings on Roe v. Wade, and view on a president under investigation. Something definitely not lost on Democrats. Here is what Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer had to say about this this morning.


SENATOR CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), MINORITY LEADER: Judge Kavanaugh is way at the extremes. He believes a president shouldn't be investigated. He gone so far as to say the president who believes the law is constitutional doesn't have to follow it. With the Mueller situation, with the overreach of presidential power, we shouldn't put him on the bench.


BOLDUAN: Here is some of what Kavanaugh wrote back in what everyone's talking about now, 2009 article for "The Minnesota Law Review," "The indictment and trial of a sitting president, moreover, would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas."

He also wrote this, "A president who is concerned about an ongoing criminal investigation is almost inevitably going to do a worse job as president." So, what does Kavanaugh's record mean for his future? The politics at play now?

Joining me now, CNN senior political analyst, Mark Preston, and CNN Supreme Court analyst, Joan Biskupic. Joan, it's great to see you guys. Joan, let's talk about this "Minnesota Law Review" article from 2009. What do you make of it because this also comes from a man who cut his teeth working for Ken Starr.

JOAN BISKUPIC, CNN SUPREME COURT ANALYST: That's exactly right, Kate. You know, we have to -- let's get some context here. Back in the 1990s, he was a very aggressive prosecutor with then-Independent Counsel Ken Starr pursuing Bill Clinton and the Monica Lewinsky affair.

Brett Kavanaugh, in fact, was quite aggressive in encouraging many questions be asked of President Clinton about the sexual nature of his relationship with Monica Lewinsky, and then he was part of -- the so- called Starr report that went to Congress in 1998 that outlined 11 counts of potential impeachment.

So, he was very much part of having the president, frankly, be distracted by an independent counsel investigation. Fast forward ten years, he writes for the "Minnesota Law Review" a piece that says he's reconsidered, and that was because of his service with George W. Bush.

He worked in the White House for five years, three of those years closely with George Bush as staff secretary. He said he saw up close the distractions that a president could have away from the important business of, you know, running the executive branch. That was 2009.

President Obama had just started his tenure. I think that it's something that would be very much an area of concern for senators, but the way he laid it out was to say, look, if a president is really an extreme bad actor, there is still impeachment, but he's suggesting that Congress pass a law that would shield the president from both civil and criminal proceedings.

BOLDUAN: Real quick, Joan, do you see any reason that Kavanaugh would feel the need or should recuse himself from any kind of Russia-related legal proceedings with regard to the president?

BISKUPIC: You know, Kate, I think it would depend on how it comes to the court. Let's say that Special Counsel Robert Mueller wants evidence from the White House or wants the president's testimony, he could cite the seminal case of U.S. v. Nixon that said that Richard Nixon had to turn over the Watergate tapes and say it's crucial for a criminal investigation here.

And I would think that the context would determine just how he would assess it, and I wouldn't think he necessarily would have to recuse. But again, it would depend on how that question arose.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. So, Mark, the Republicans that folks are watching right now are Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski. Two key votes on key issues here. Two key voices on key issues here, which is abortion rights and Obamacare. How key are then these meetings between the senators and the nominee when it comes to how they vote as we see Kavanaugh on Capitol Hill right now?

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Very important. Kavanaugh has a very long public history, people are going to be able to go back and look at his rulings, look what he's written as you have just done and know what his philosophy has been on past rulings.

[11:10:14] But this -- this pick is very much on the edge in some ways. Kavanaugh hasn't said he's opposing to overturning Roe v. Wade, and Joan can help me on this, but he seems to be leaning that way --

BOLDUAN: Mark, can I interrupt you one second, my friend? I just want to see if Mitch McConnell says anything. I'm doing this on the fly. Let's listen in. This is the photo op at the top of the meeting with the new Supreme Court nominee.

SENATOR MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY), MAJORITY LEADER: Yes. I think the president made an outstanding nomination. We look forward to the confirmation process as it will unfold in the next few weeks.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Let me first thank the Senate majority leader for his outstanding leadership over the last year and a half with this administration. President Trump has actually seen, confirmed more judges to the circuit courts of this country than any president in American history.

And we're grateful to the majority leader and to Republicans in the Senate for their strong support. We look forward to closely working with the leader to advance the senate's proper role in considering Judge Brett Kavanaugh as the president's nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.

As the president said last night, Judge Kavanaugh is a man of impeccable credentials and character. We're very confident that working with you and reaching out to members of the Senate in both political parties that members of the Senate and the American people they represent will see as the president said last night that Judge Brett Kavanaugh is quite simply the most qualified and the most deserving nominee to the Supreme Court of the United States.

And we're honored to be able to bring him here to the United States and begin the important work that will Senate will do in discharging its constitutional duties to consider and this good man and nominee to the Supreme Court.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much, everyone. Thank you. Thank you, we're done. Thank you. Thank you, everyone.

BOLDUAN: The art of smiling and not saying anything. Brett Kavanaugh is a picture of that right now. We did hear from the Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and the vice president. To the right you see former Senator Jon Kyl, who will be Kavanaugh's sherpa, my favorite technical term, through this entire process.

Mark, I guess, I'm somewhat surprised that Mitch McConnell decided to say anything considering how he prefers to be when it comes to these things.

PRESTON: Yes, he's very much on message, and he didn't say anything. Although what I do find interesting -- and if you are just tuning in, wondering what's happening, we're seeing the Supreme Court nominee going up and going to have all of these meetings on Capitol Hill to try to get senators, and as you said, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski, specifically to come to their side.

Those meetings will be very important, Kate, because we're going to hear what he says in the hearings. We're going to see his questionnaire, but it will be the tell whether Susan Collins or Lisa Murkowski can trust him.

But what was interesting there, too, is you saw Mike Pence when he was given the opportunity to say something. The first thing out of his mouth was to praise President Donald Trump for all the judges that he has gotten confirmed which I thought was kind of interesting given that this is supposed to be the day for Brett Kavanaugh. But who am I to know?

BOLDUAN: There's always an audience of one, Mark. I don't know how much longer you have to be -- we have to be talking about this for that. Joan, did anything stick out to you?

BISKUPIC: Yes. A couple things. First of all, this is -- this is almost phase one for the hearings. These courtesy visits are actually important because groundwork is laid, he gets a feel for what the senators are going to be asking him, and he actually starts making his case. Even though they involve a lot of pleasantries, about their home state interests, this is where he will start trying to put certain senators at ease, and they're crucial.

BOLDUAN: And we need to go back to it, but we're out of time, there were critical things that came out when Neil Gorsuch made the rounds during his private meetings to reassure senators his independence, if you will, from President Trump. That was a big issue at that time.

I remember senators coming out and divulging those conversations which is actually somewhat surprising when they do. But let's see what comes from then these private conversations between Brett Kavanaugh and the senators.

[11:15:06] First lesson, Brett Kavanaugh, they're never private when you're speaking to anybody on Capitol Hill. So, that's one thing to remember. Mark, great to see you. Joan, thanks so much

BISKUPIC: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, after 18 days trapped in a cave and an extraordinary rescue mission that captivated the world, the 12 boys and their soccer coach are finally out. We'll go live to Thailand with the very latest.

And President Trump is en route to meetings with key NATO allies right now. Why did he just tell reporters that his meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin may be the easiest of all?


BOLDUAN: Call it a miracle, call it science, call it training and expertise. Call it whatever you want, the 12 boys and their coach are out of the flooded cave this morning.

[11:20:09] And just moments ago, the four rescuers who had stayed with the boys since they were discovered have now safely reached the surface, as well. There you see them giving the thumbs up. To say the least, just a short time ago.

CNN's Ivan Watson is live in Northern Thailand with the details. Ivan, what are you hearing there? It's really just amazing.

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: It is amazing. I'm very pleased to tell you, Kate, that we have a member of the international team that was part of the remarkable rescue effort with me, Captain Jessica Tait from the U.S. Air Force.

You were part of a 40-person U.S. military contingent that came here to help with the rescue operations. We haven't been able to talk to many of you guys about what was going on up in the mountain, up in the cave. Can you tell me about how the U.S. was contributing to this phenomenal effort?

CAPTAIN JESSICA TAIT, U.S. AIR FORCE: Absolutely. So, you know, the Royal Thai government put a request in for our support. We came here about two weeks ago, a team of like pararescue, survival specialists, as well as support package, so medical, communications and logistics.

Our role here really was to advise and assist our Thai partners. And as we kind of looked at the problem set and the development of the various courses of action, what was practical and how can we best provide some of the insight. We have that knowledge when it comes to search and rescue, and if we can provide that, we are more than happy to do so.

WATSON: So, you know, the U.S. personnel, you guys were in chamber three. Can you tell me what was going on there roughly how far in it was? You know, the 2.5 miles in to where the boys were trapped, what was going on there, who was there?

TAIT: So, our role during the execution portion was to have our team staged in chamber three. That really was to provide operational command and control to the Thai Navy SEALs as well as to the international dive experts that were transporting the children from chamber nine to chamber three.

When the children got to chamber three, being able to provide that transport to the Thai medical authorities at the entrance to the cave, that was pretty critical because -- WATSON: Literally, just carrying these kids on stretchers, I guess,


TAIT: Yes. I mean, bringing them out in order to make sure that they have the appropriate medical care.

WATSON: And they're still walking through water to go that last distance, right?

TAIT: Yes. It's not dive operations as you would think. But yes, water is, you know, at varying points waist deep. And you also consider the logistical resupply that our folks did. Bringing in food, dive equipment. This was a multi-day Thai-led rescue operation. Having to restage for every phase of the operation, our team was here to support our Thai partners in that.

WATSON: All right. Captain Jessica Tait from the U.S. Air Force, thanks for filling us in. Kate, that's the first time I've been able to talk to a member of the international rescue operation led by the Thais, of course, and they lost one of their own, a former Navy SEAL, who died last week.

The mission commander calling for a round of applause at a recent press conference he gave here for as he described him Sergeant Sam, as he's affectionately known. We can report that everybody seems to be out of harm's way.

The kids, their coach, and the heroic Thai divers who spent more than a week, four of them, a doctor and three Navy SEAL divers, who spent more than a week with the kids at a depth of 2.5 miles into the mountain, helping keep them alive, keep their spirits up for the remarkable rescue that we've seen over the course of last three days. The rescue that's gotten help from countries like Australia, the U.K., and, of course, the U.S. military -- Kate.

BOLDUAN: It's a truly remarkable and wonderful example of an international effort coming together to a wonderful conclusion. Great to see you, Ivan. Thank you so much for bringing Captain Tait on. Really appreciate it.

Let's go now to CNN's Matt Rivers at the hospital where the boys and their coach are being treated right now. Matt, what are you hearing there?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Kate, what we've seen the last couple of hours is the last several ambulances carrying each one of these members of the soccer team and their coach. Ambulances 12 and 13, the last boy and the coach. They were the last couple, they were met by cheers here from the local community.

They came out and actually cheered as the ambulances went right down behind me and went into the hospital right there. We know the boys are in an isolation unit where they're going to be treated and kept there for the next seven days.

That's where their parents are going to be able to come visit. The catch there is that because it's an isolation unit, they won't be able to go physically give their kids a hug. They're only going to be able to stand on the other side of the glass partition, look at the kids, wave.

You have to imagine after several weeks in a cave, even just waving and seeing for their own eyes that the kids are OK, that's probably enough at least for now.

[11:25:08] BOLDUAN: At least for now. Thank God for all the doctors and medical teams there as well. Matt, thank you so much.

Let's talk about the care and what the next few days will be like. CNN's chief medical correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta is here with me. So, Sanjay, the -- call it whatever you want, as I said. But it's -- thank God for all of the teams to bring the people out and the medical teams that are now working with these kids. They're in isolation for the next few days. What are they checking for?

SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, the basics first, right. They've been in this cave-like environment for 2.5 weeks, hypothermia, dehydration, malnutrition. And you've got to sort of pace them when you start to reintroduce food and liquids --

BOLDUAN: A shock to the system.

BOLDUAN: A shock to the system so maybe not even solid foods initially. Checking for particular infections. When you're in a cave, for example, there are certain fungus and spores that you can breathe into your lungs. They were using whatever water they could find there. That water may have been contaminated. So, you can check for all those types of infections.

By the way, they've been planning for this because they've known the situation the boys have been in and how long they've been there. What is interesting, as well, Kate, is when you're in a cave like this, no natural light, your body starts to change.

One of the things that happens is that your immune system starts often starts to ramp down a little bit. So, now you've come out, you may be more susceptible to what would otherwise be just a very harmless infection. So, the isolation is to keep the family from infecting the boys as opposed to the other way around. That's what they're trying to do here.

BOLDUAN: Fascinating. We also learned through a press conference the prime minister there said that they had given the boys medication of some sort before they got into the water, before the rescue effort happened. It sounds something like an anti-anxiety.

GUPTA: Right.

BOLDUAN: What do you think --

GUPTA: That's very interesting. You know, every one of these situations is very unique. So, that must have a judgment call made at the time. I mean, this -- you obviously don't want the boys sedated, you don't want to give them something that will hamper their judgment with something.

But with this type of thing, you're wearing a full facemask, going through water. For people who haven't swam before let alone been diving before it can be anxiety provoking. So, I imagine it was a low dose, as much of a non-sedating anxiety medicine as possible.

That must have just been a judgment call at the time because you don't want to give something that's going to be too powerful. The boys are malnourished, dehydrated. Even a small amount of medication can have a bigger impact. It worked. Whatever it is, it worked. In retrospect, the right call, no question.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely. What do the doctors need to see in the next days in order to let them hug their parents, if you will?

GUPTA: I think that they want to make sure that their immune system is back up to snuff. There's ways that they can check that. I do want to make sure that none of the potential infections, this cave disease, this histoplasmosis is something that the boys have contracted. They can check for that pretty easily.

BOLDUAN: This is more extensive treatment --

GUPTA: No question. The psychological part of that I think is going to be the days and weeks and months to come still, you know, I mean, they're seeing this for the first time. But the physical part of it I think they'll get through quickly.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you.

BOLDUAN: You, too.

BOLDUAN: Especially talking about something, great news. I appreciate it.

GUPTA: Good story.

BOLDUAN: Coming up for us, a judge ordered the Trump administration to reunite the youngest children separated from their parents at the border by today, but it seems only a lucky few will see that reality. And now the administration is asking for more time. Up next, we'll go live outside a detention facility.