tv This Week With George Stephanopoulos ABC July 8, 2018 8:00am-9:00am PDT
george stephanopoulos starts right now. breaking news, happening right now, the first boys emerge after more than two weeks trapped in that thailand cave. the latest on those rescues that are unfolding this morning. >> supreme court countdown. >> if you tune in monday at 9:00 i think you're going to be extremely happy. >> president trump poised to name his second justice. >> such an important decision and we're going to give you a great one. >> has the president made his choice? will republicans fall in line to lock in a conservative majority on the court? is there anything democrats can do to stop them? we ask the man who crafted trump's short list, top supreme court adviser leonard leo on a "this week" exclusive. plus a top democrat on the judiciary committee, senator richard blumenthal.anoh
bombshell, changing. >> a wide ranging interview. >> he told abc i will not be a punching bag. >> the strong possibility that he is in fact looking to cooperate. >> the white house is silent. >> i'm not going to answer questions on this topic. >> behind the scenes the president and his team strategize on cohen and robert mueller taking their hardest line yet. which investigation poses the bigger threat? how will trump respond? we ask trump's personal attorney, rudy giuliani. plus alan dershowitz joins us. and the latest insights and analysis from our powerhouse roundtable. we'll break down the politics, smoke out the spin, the facts that matter this week. good morning. we have a lot to get to this sunday starting with that breaking news out of thailand. rescuers are racing against dangerous weather and treacherous conditions to save that young soccer team trapped in a cave for two weeks. the first boys have been brought
to safety and abc's james longman is tracking all the latest. good morning, james. >> reporter: good morning, george. it was quite a moment just about an hour ago when we saw two ambulances thread in a road behind me. i know it's dark now but we saw them thread between the hills here because the cave is just about 500, 600 meters behind me here away from that cave. the first two boys leaving there and have made their way now to the hospital by helicopter. so we understand that the entire operation decided to focus on the weakest of the boys first and so that really does give us hope that the rest of the boys and their coach who remain in that cave could come out just as easily but of course we have a long way to go. the operation consisted of boys in small groups with masks affixed over their whole face with a diver in front and a diver behind of each boy and then they were brought out along the surface. they did not want at any point
for those boys to have to dunk their heads under the water and that was the whole debate the whole way through this operation, was how to lower that water level. and the rocks that were in there which were preventing the boys from remaining on the surface, so they used jackhammers to cut through that rock and it seems as though they've been successful. that is a 2.9-mile tunnel. most of it, about three-quarters of it if not fully submerged, then water really up to the neck. they reached the third cavern which is the staging post for most of the diving operations. they received medical attention. they were brought out of the cave another 300 to 400 meters where they walked out. they received medical attention at a tent up there, a field hospital, before they went over to the hospital in chiang rai. i can't tell you, george, about just the emotion of all this. we arrived here just about three or four days after those boys had originally gone missing and many, many people thought there was no way there were going to
be alive in there and suddenly the news broke that they were found. no word at all from inside that cave for days and then amazingly they were found 300 to 400 meters further into the passage than rescuers originally anticipated. and then the big rescue mission began, the drilling, the billions of gallons of water that was pumped out of that cave and the effort to reduce the water. they were building dams here to try to prevent more water from getting in there, and the rain was the major factor. i don't know if you can see now, it started again now. >> yeah. >> reporter: we had a few days of dry. that allowed the water to come down but that was the thing that really pushed rescuers. >> i know the rain has been picking up as you said. any sense of how long the whole operation is going to take? >> reporter: well, it takes something like five hours to get -- for a diver to get all the way to the point where the boys are and another five hours to get back. this operation started at 10:00 this morning so if you take that
into account, then you would say it should take about three to four days for this entire process but this is moving a lot quicker than anyone anticipated. the boys have to rest of course on their journey back. some boys will be weaker and some boys will be fitter. we are not out of the woods but this is an extraordinary moment for thailand. >> james longman, thanks very much. some good news out of thailand. we'll stay on this all day long but now it's time for the latest investigations into the president. this weekend we're seeing a tough new line against robert mueller from trump's legal team laying out new conditions for an interview with the president. this move comes in the wake of those strong signals from former trump attorney michael cohen that he is preparing to cooperate with prosecutors against president trump. first my exclusive interview where he criticized trump's an family and country, not the president, have his first loyalty. cohen then changed his twitter account affiliation with trump, hired a
new defense attorney from new york, guy petrillo, also long-time clinton defender lanny davis, part of president clinton's legal team when he faced impeachment. the white house refused to answer questions about cohen. >> is the president worried after his comments this morning that michael cohen is going to flip and has he considered at all paying michael cohen's legal fees? >> i'm not going to answer questions on this topic and would refer you to the president's outside counsel. >> can you at least tell us whether the president watched the interview this morning and potentially how he feels about the idea that his former attorney said that he would put his wife, his son, his family and his country first but not the president? >> once again, i'm not going to weigh into this issue and refer you to the president's outside counsel. >> it's a good thing that we have the president's outside counsel here, rudy giuliani. thanks for coming back, mayor. >> thank you. >> let's start right there. what was the president's reaction to that interview by michael cohen? >> same as mine which is fine. michael cohen should cooperate with the government. we have no reason to believe he did anything wrong. the president did nothing wrong with him. we've gone through every
document we can. we see no evidence of it. the fact that mueller -- >> all 1.3 million documents? >> 1.4 that we produced. also, mueller himself has indicated there's nothing here because he would have given it away and it hasn't taken it back. every indication we have is that the president is not involved in that. i'm hoping that michael is able to clear himself because i think what was done to him was really unfair and i know he's being sensible and calm and trying to say that prosecutors did nothing wrong, but invading a lawyer's office, i don't know, george, that doesn't seem right to me. >> he said it wasn't an invasion. he had no problem, as you saw with how that -- >> if you were in his position i think i'd advise you to say that too. >> you have no concerns at all about anything that michael cohen might tell the prosecutors? >> zero, none. as long as he tells the truth, we're home free. >> just to be clear though, the joint defense agreement that cohen had with the president's legal team is no longer operable? >> i'm not really allowed to
talk about that but it wouldn't matter whether it was or it wasn't. we think we know everything we need to know at this point. >> and the president's legal defense fund is no longer paying michael cohen's legal bills? >> again, that's something i can't comment on. it wouldn't matter one way or the other. we want michael to handle this in the way that's most helpful to him. michael is not going to lie. he's going to tell the truth. as long as he does that, we have nothing to fear. >> has the president or his team had conversations with michael cohen or his attorneys about a possible pardon? >> not at all. i've advised the president which he understands. no discussion of pardons. you can't abridge the power to do it. that's something you can decide down the road. >> you're not going to rule it out? >> i don't think you should. it wouldn't be fair to the president, cohen, or future presidents. the fact is there's no reason for a pardon right now. quite honestly, it would just confuse everything. >> you say you're not concerned at all about what michael cohen may say but he is facing some potential legal jeopardy in part dealing with that stormy daniels case.
when i asked cohen if the president directed him to make the payments to stormy daniels, he said he couldn't answer on advice of counsel. did the president direct michael cohen to make that payment? >> as far as i know from his original statements and the president's statements and everything i've seen in terms of documents and the way it was reimbursed, no, the president did not originally know. at some point, probably a little foggy as to exactly when, the president found out and reimbursed him. i think that's the clear point because -- and second, it wasn't a campaign contribution. this is something he would have paid for no matter what. >> to be clear, the president did not direct michael cohen in advance to make those payments? >> as far as i know, that is right. second, even if he had, that would not necessarily be anything. if the president directed him to settle the case, he would have done that a year before, a year after. it didn't matter that he was running for office. that's something you settle because you don't want your family to be embarrassed and the
amount of money involved, $140,000, would indicate it was a nuance settlement as opposed to the millions of dollars that have been given away in cases like that in the past. >> but the president did not promise in advance to reimburse cohen for that? >> that i don't know. whether there was an understanding between them -- i think cohen knew he would be reimbursed. it didn't seem to be any trouble working out the reimbursement with the accountants. >> there was another question that came up in my interview with michael cohen that had to do with the trump tower meeting, that famous trump tower meetings, don junior, jared kushner, paul manafort met with russians who indicated they had dirt on hillary clinton. when i asked michael cohen did the president know about that meeting ahead of time, again, he refused to answer on advice of counsel. what is the answer to that question? >> i don't believe he did know about it, i don't believe he knew about it afterwards. i think you could have very, very differing recollections on that because it was right in the heat of the campaign. i was probably there that day. i don't remember it. did somebody say something to me?
i don't know. it goes off in your -- you know what a campaign is like. it's complete helter skelter. again, it doesn't mean anything because it resulted in nothing. that went nowhere. she tried to get back in, she didn't. they never did anything. >> well, what it could mean is that the president and his team have said he didn't know about it in advance. if it turns out he did, at least he hadn't been telling the truth. >> i think you end up there with at most a differing recollection. since nothing happened with it, there would be no reason to hide it. he could have said yes, they did tell me about it and what happened, nothing. >> i want to move on to robert mueller and i want to be very clear. you have no concerns that michael cohen is going to flip on the president? >> i have no concerns that michael cohen is going to do anything but tell the truth and if he does, as i said, there's no suggestion that anything happened. the way you would find out if he did flip on the president as opposed to just flip -- i don't know what that means -- but the case would have to go back to mueller. rosenstein has made the decision that the presidential part of this should be handled by independent counsel.
i don't think the southern district would be able to handle that at least beyond a certain point. >> "the new york times" reported that president trump won't agree to an interview with robert mueller unless mueller first proves he has evidence that president trump committed a crime. that was based on an interview with you. >> yes. >> is that the current condition? >> yeah but i have to modify that. look at my quote. my quote is not evidence of a crime. it's a factual basis for the investigation. we've been through everything on collusion and obstruction. we can't find an incriminating anything. we need a basis for this investigation, particularly since we now know it was started with biased people. >> you have james comey's testimony. >> comey's testimony is hardly worth anything, nor did he ever -- james comey never found any evidence of collusion and rules out obstruction by saying the president had a right to fire me. so all the rest of it is just politics. i mean, the reality is comey in some ways ends up being a good witness for us. unless you assume they're trying
to get him into a perjury trap, he tells his version, somebody has a different version. >> how is he a good witness if he's saying the president was asking him, direct k him, in his words, to let the investigation go? >> he didn't direct him to that. >> comey says he took it as direction. >> that's okay. by that time he had been fired. he said a lot of other things, some of which has turned out to be untrue. the reality is, as a prosecutor, i was told that many times, can you give the man a break either by his lawyers, his relatives, by friends. you take that into consideration but that doesn't determine not going forward with it. also, you know, the obstruction statute they want to charge him with or write a report about -- >> you know they want to charge him? >> no, i don't know that. i think they're investigating although they have never really told us what they're investigating which is what we want to know, it says you have to actually obstruct. there's no obstruction here. if you look at the lester holt interview which nbc unfortunately doesn't play the
end of, the president says, when loster hold asks him, do you expect this investigation to go on, on tape, the president says of course i do. in fact, i believe it's going to go on longer now and i did it for the best interest of the people, of the country. the president knew the investigation was going to go on. it did go on. that's the best fact that we have. nothing interfered with mueller getting to the end of this investigation. >> you've been on the case now for several months and it seems like every time you come on you're stretching out the timeline for when a possible encounter with mueller will happen. first it was a couple weeks. then it was going to be after the singapore meeting with the north korean leader. is it -- have you simply determined that the president is not going to sit down for an interview? >> we have not. we're close to determining that but the reason for the extension are the extraordinary things that happened that we didn't expect. it began before i started with the cohen thing. took a while to unravel all that. then the horowitz report is devastating. it's 500-plus pages.
there are more things in that that you have to review than you can imagine. and it casts a taint over the entire investigation. it was started -- mueller hired originally as his chief investigator a man that has some kind of vicious bias against donald trump. out of all the fbi agents how you could select that guy is beyond -- >> as soon as he found out about the text he fired him. >> but other people had to find it out. he didn't find it out. he didn't vet him properly, nor the people that he has with him right now. he's got very, very severe partisans working on an investigation that should be done by people who are politically neutral. >> this is part of the case that you and the president have been making for some time nowment i was struck by an op-ed in "the washington post" by bill frisk, the former senate republican leader. he's saying basically that the white house should stop attacking, robert mueller should simply cooperate. he says it isn't easy to tell the president of your own party that he's wrong. the assault on the mueller investigation doesn't help the president or his party. when trump talks about firing the special counsel or his power to pardon himself, he makes it seem as though he has something to hide.
the president must remember that only mueller's exoneration can lift the cloud hanging over the white house. >> well, you know, bill's a good guy but he's not a lawyer i don't think, nor has he ever defended someone being wrongfully accused. the reality is that there are biases that have to be explored surrounding mueller. how you can end up hiring a group of people that are as prejudiced and biased as this group in their record at least is extraordinary. how you can expect us to just walk up our client like a lamb to the slaughter, we wouldn't be lawyers if wre were doing that. george, he wants to testify. he believes -- >> it's hard to believe that anymore, mr. mayor. >> it is hard to believe given all the things that have been shown about how tainted this investigation is. this is the most corrupt investigation that i've ever seen. i've never seen an investigation with texts from fbi agents, now seven of them, that have such extraordinary bias against a person -- >> those predated robert mueller. >> but that's the investigation
he inherited with a lot of the testimony that he inherited and he didn't do anything to purge himself of that. >> he fired him. >> after somebody else found out. how about looking at the texts of all his people. does his number two guy, number three guy, number four guy have similar texts in which they talk about how they hate president trump? i don't know. >> the president put out a tweet questioning the constitutionality of the special counsel. he says the appointment of the special counsel is totally unconstitutional. despite that we play the game because i unlike the democrats have done nothing wrong. is that going to be part of the president's defense? >> that's based on self articles, the most prominent in which professor cal breeze argues that given the way this particular independent counsel was appointed is unconstitutional. of course you raise every argument in favor of your client so it would be hard to reject that from such a prominent person as mr. cal abreeze.
>> mr. mayor, thanks for your time. >> thank you. some analysis now from our legal panel. allen dershowitz, author of the new book, "the case against impeaching trump," and asha rangappa, former fbi special agent of new york and senior lecturer for global affairs and analyst at cnn. welcome to you both. alan, let me begin with you. interesting mixed message from rudy giuliani. nothing to worry about from robert mueller, yet the scorched earth against his team continues. >> yeah, because there is something to worry about, obviously. in the end, if the president sits down with mueller, he may be walking into a perjury trap. if he is unwilling to sit down, he may be subpoenaed. then probably there will be a year or so of litigation, but in the end probably he'll have to appear in front of a grand jury. his great vulnerability is a perjury rap. as i argue in my book, you need to commit a crime to be impeached, and if he's committed previous crimes, there's no evidence of that, that won't work.
but if he commits the crime of perjury, he's in clinton land. >> that gets to the question, asha, the perjury trap is one concern. it looks like they're not going to do an interview. you heard rudy giuliani say that without the president testifying there is no obstruction case. >> that's not true. the obstruction case does center on the president's intent, whether he acted corruptly when he fired james comey. mueller does have a lot of circumstantial evidence, the conversations between james comey and the president, he has attempts by the white house to approach the cia and nsa to try to stymie this investigation. he has his own words on the lester holt interview. so he does have a circumstantial case. i do think mueller wants to get from his own words what the president had in his mind. >> do you think mueller can write a report, make a case on obstruction without interviewing the president? >> no, i don't. where we respectfully disagree is a president -- and i argue this and i think i prove it
conclusively. a president cannot be charged with obstruction of justice for merely exercising his power under article two. he can be the way nixon was and clinton was -- >> the question is what was going on in his mind, did we have corrupt intent. >> you cannot question a president's motives when the president acts. if a president pardons, that's it. if a president fires, that's it. you can't go beyond the act and get into his motive or into his intent. that's -- no president has ever been -- >> -- to cover up a murder? >> it doesn't matter. a pardon is a pardon. the covering of the murder may be an independent crime. the pardon cannot be the actus reyes of a crime that is a constitutionally protected act. >> where i disagree is that the pardon is an explicit power granted in the constitution and the firing of james comey, the firing of one of his principal officers, is an implicit power.
so he also has the duty to ensure that the laws be faithfully executed. so in many ways obstruction of justice is implicit in the constitution as well, to make sure that investigations don't get thwarted for nefarious ends. >> you can't start probing the motives of presidents. all presidents have mixed motives all the time. they're political. they're idealogical. they're patriotic. they're can i write a good book after i finish my term. when you start probing the motives of a president who has acted properly under the constitution, you're really going down a very, very dangerous slippery slope. >> let's talk about michael cohen for a second. you saw rudy giuliani saying nothing to fear, no problem as long as michael cohen tells the truth. do you agree with that? >> i think that they have a lot to fear. michael cohen is probably the closest person in trump's inner circle and have been for many years. he was basically the fixer. so he's going to know a lot about what was happeningot
just in the campaign but in s w stormy daniels case, and to go back to the perjury issue, let's remember that the civil cases also present a problem for trump. he can be deposed in all of those cases -- >> only if he testifies and he's not going to do that. he's not going to make the mistake that bill clinton made. he's learned that lesson. nobody, no decent lawyer is ever going to allow the president to testify in a civil case. it will be resolved in another way. the problem cohen poses is not about the past because you can't prosecute a president while he's sitting and you can't impeach him for business dealings in the past that cohen may know about even if there isn't a crime. cohen poses a problem because if the president were to testify, cohen could contradict him. then you have a current perjury prosecution which is an impeachable offense. >> that's one concern. final question though. if indeed there is some charge related to the stormy daniels case and the president is implicated in that, that was in service -- that would be the charge of getting him elected,
that comes close to an impeachable offense. >> in my book i argue that that's a close question whether or not you can impeach a president for a crime that helped him get elected. i think the stormy daniels would be a real stretch. >> thanks very much. when we come back, the president's supreme court pick. primetime announcement set for tomorrow night and we'll get the latest from the man who created the short list leonard leo and a top democrat from the senate judiciary committee, richard blumenthal. that's next. ways to lthe northern belly fat. percussion massage. not cool. freezing away fat cells with coolsculpting? now that's cool. coolsculpting safely freezes and removes fat cells. with little or no downtime. and no surgery. results and patient experience may vary. some rare side effects include temporary numbness, discomfort, and swelling. ask your doctor if cooling.com da a free treatment.
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today i am keeping another promise to the american people by nominating judge neil gorsuch of the united states supreme court to be of the united states supreme court. so was that a surprise? was it? >> that was the president's first supreme court pick in january 2017. next one comes tomorrow night in primetime. we're now joined by the man who crafted president trump's short list, leonard leo, on leave now from the federalist society, also now the president's top supreme court adviser. so i guess i have to start out asking, has the president made his decision? >> it's his prerogative to tell everybody that but i'll tell you this, what drives the president in this process is that he made the supreme court a huge issue in the election, more than any other presidential candidate.
he greatly enthused voters over it and it was one of the big factors that led to his election and holding the u.s. senate. so he kept that momentum going with neil gorsuch and now he's got another opportunity to do it again. >> everyone coming from the list that you help craft at the federalist society. our best reporting is that the president is down to four finalists, including brett kavanaugh, court of appeals in d.c., also worked on the george w. bush white house, facing some conservative opposition. senators rand paul, ted cruz, tom cotton raising concerns. ken cuccinelli, the former attorney general of the state of virginia said he looks, walks and quacks like john roberts, jr. the bush lives loudly in kavanaugh. are you concerned about that conservative opposition mounting to brett kavanaugh? >> every potential nominee before announcement gets concerns expressed about them by people who might ultimately support them. people aren't always familiar with their records.
sometimes people say things about one nominee because they favor another. i think what you can say about what's going on right now, talk about brett kavanaugh, amy barrett, thomas hardiman, ray kethledge who i assume those are the four. >> those are the four. >> they're extraordinarily distinguished people. certainly brett kavanaugh and amy barrett have a lot of name recognition among supporters of the president, and i think that ultimately when people like them are nominated you'll see a lot of folks line up. >> according to "the new york times" senator mcconnell said two would have an easier road to confirmation, raymond kethledge and amy barrett. is it true that they would have a tougher time getting confirmed? >> first of all, with regard to ray kethledge and tom hardiman, they're a little less known by conservatives and their records are a little lighter so it might take some time. >> is that an advantage though? >> well, it depends. remember, the president ran on
the supreme court issue and that greatly enthused voters. it's important to have people who are extremely well known and have distinguished records. >> , senator richard blumenthal, is raising the question saying that this should be put off until after the mid-terms, after the mueller investigation is completed because it would be improper for the president to nominate someone who may have jurisdiction over his investigation. how do you respond to that argument? >> i think it's a red herring. there are always issues that an executive branch and a president deal with on a regular basis that are extraordinarily important and controversial. we don't hold up supreme court nominations or confirmations for those. >> the other big issue that's energizing so much opposition right now is the fear among democrats, among progressives that whoever the president appoints is going to overturn roe v. wade. is it fair to say that anyone who made it onto your list is
likely to be an opponent of roe v. wade? >> no. first of all, nobody really knows. we've been talking about this for 36 years, going all the way back to the nomination of sandra o'connor. and after that 36-year period we only have a single individual on the court who has expressly said he would overturn roe. i think it's a bit of a scare tactic and ranks speculation more than anything else. >> that comes from your allies as well. the national review wrote, no one has been more dedicated to the enterprise of building a supreme court that will overturn roe v. wade than the federalist society's leonard leo. that has been your goal. >> my goal first and foremost has always been to find people to serve on the court who believe in the constitution as it's written. that's really ultimately what drives the conservative legal movement. you want judges on the court who understand that the best way to preserve freedom and dignity and prosperity in this country is to have people who are going to interpret the constitution as it's written and not play politics when they're judges. >> are you confident that anyone the president nominates tomorrow night can get confirmed before the mid-terms, that the democrats would not be able to
hold up the nomination until after the mid-terms? >> i'm very confident with this president's enthusiasm and with leader mcconnell's enthusiasm that they can get anybody confirmed. >> leonard leo, thanks very much. let's get a response from the other side. senator richard blumenthal. democrat from connecticut. member of the senate judiciary committee. you heard leonard leo expressing some confidence that whoever the president nominates tomorrow night will get through before the mid-terms. your response? >> there is no question, george, we're at an extraordinary time. this next nominee will be the swing vote to overturn roe v. wade and equally important to eviscerate the protections of millions of americans who suffer from pre-existing conditions and other health care rights, along with workers' rights, gay rights, voting rights. the american people understand at aste re by the way, you've just heard extraordinarily powerful reasons why the next justice appointed by this president ought to
recuse him or herself. rudy giuliani raising the possibility of a pardon. this next justice will sit on the issue of whether or not the president can pardon himself or others. >> leonard leo called that a red herring. >> well, it's far from a red herring when rudy giuliani is saying he will not be -- the president will refuse to talk to robert mueller or his team unless he is given evidence of a crime. that is a preposterous position and the next justice on this supreme court will probably be a swing vote in deciding whether he has to comply with a subpoena along with whether or not he has to stop defying the chief anti-corruption provision of the constitution that forbids him from taking payments without coming to congress for consent. >> you've seen the short list that we just talked about with leonard leo.
are you certain that any one of those four is about to overturn roe v. wade? >> if you look at what the president said, which is he will nominate someone only if that person is committed to automatically overturn roe v. wade. if you look at what the president said about john roberts, his berating roberts for failing to strike down the affordable care act. he certainly has criteria and the president's outsourced this decision to the federalist society and the heritage foundation. it is extraordinary. i was a law black to justice blackman. i've argued cases before the supreme court for them. i've never seen a president of the united states in effect make himself a puppet of outside grou of right wing fringe ideologues that are prepared on this list. >> you've talked about the stakes but do the democrats have
the republicans control the votes in the senate but we have the american people on our side. the vast majority of american people shown by poll after poll want roe v. wade to be preserved. they want protections for millions of americans against pre-existing conditions to be sustained. they want these voting rights and gay rights and other rights to be not only preserved but also enhanced. i think we can take this call to action to the american people, take our case to them. our colleagues know they're going to have to answer to history for this vote. >> final question on another subject. you're a member of the senate armed services committee. you saw mike pompeo come back from his meetings in north korea and being accused by the north koreans of gangster-like tactics. what's your reaction to this latest move in the negotiations over the north korean nuclear program? >> unfortunately and i really
mean unfortunately, i think that some of the more dire views of what we sacrificed in this reality show that the president conducted are now coming true. we made concessions like cancelling military exercises and to some extent undermining the credibility of this country in that region and look at what we are seeing in return. the north koreans are following their standard playbook which is delay any denuclearization and in effect give nothing for what they're getting which is legitimacy on the world stage. >> senator richard blumenthal, thanks very much. >> thank you. >> roundtable is up next. we'll be right back. ♪ hawaii is in the middle of the pacific ocean. we're the most isolated population on the planet. ♪ hawaii is the first state in the u.s.
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♪ i'll help you carry on ♪ ♪ lean on me ♪ mmm... ♪ lean on me... ♪ mmm... ♪ lean on me. roundtable is ready to go. stephanie cutter, chris christie, patrick gaspard and sara fagan. all week long you can get latest on politics with breaking news alerts on the abc news app. we'll be right back. (♪) i'm a four-year-old ring bearer with a bad habit of swallowing stuff. still won't eat my broccoli, though. and if you don't have the right overage, you could be paying for that pricey love band yourself. so get an allstate agent, and be better protected from mayhem. like me. can a ring bearer get a snack around here?
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>> president trump unleashed in great falls, montana on thursday night. a lot to talk about now with our roundtable, joined by patrick gaspard, former political director in the obama white house. republican strategist saver rah fagan, now a cnbc contributor. stephanie cutter, our newest abc contributor, and chris christie. chris, let me begin with you. let's talk about the supreme court. president clearly working the phones. he loves this process. loves to have a little bit of surprise as well. are you pretty confident that the choice is one of these four people on the short list? >> i am. i think they're four really good people, four very different people in terms of their background and their experience. but i think all of them are people who no one could argue are extraordinarily well qualified from a legal perspective to serve on the supreme court. so i think the president's got a good list of four people. knowing him, he is going to
continue to think about this until the last hour and -- >> which means the lobbying can continue until the last hour as well. >> i don't know how effected he is by that, george. i think on this kind of stuff he'll have a pretty good gut feel of whether that person is someone that he wants to sell to the american people and to the united states senate as the right person for the supreme court. >> sara fagan, not just gut feel. we just had leonard leo here, formally of the federalist society, in many ways anybody on the short list is a known commodity to republicans. >> they are. they have track records of course but some have longer track records. there's been some conversation about brett kavanaugh, for example, a former colleague of mine. he's been on the court for 12 years and has an incredible, impeccable track record and i think somebody who would move the court forward and influence his fellow justices. >> 12 years may not be enough in trump's mind to overcome the connection to george w. bush.
>> you showed that clip from that rally and in addition to those attack lines he actually even h to volunteer to the thousand points of light. >> the first president bush. >> the first president bush. it's regrettable and reprehensible. decisions that are going to be parsed through, all four of these potential contenders have a long history that would suggest all of them are going to move the courts in this decisive moment further to the right. i think that's going to compel to moderate -- independent republican senators and three democratic senators in red states that trump won to ask a really tough question about how this moment is very different than the gorsuch moment. >> which wasn't changing the balance. >> wasn't changing the balance. >> stephanie, you're a veteran of these confirmation battles in both the senate and the white house. put on that strategist hat. is there anything standing in
the way of any of these four nominees given the lineup in the senate right now?wo democrats, but since he was confirmed, republicans are down one with doug jones winning the senate seat in alabama. we don't know whether john mccain will be able to come back to vote for this nominee. so that puts the count right at the balance of 51. if democrats hold together and there is a compelling argument for senator collins and senator murkowski to see this as the swing seat, which could mean a big change in direction for women's rights, the ability for women to make their own decisions about their health care decisions, both of these senators have said that's incredibly important to them, there's a chance that this nominee could at least be delayed if not blocked. we don't know yet. >> the flip side though of that argument of course is that we're heading into a contentious election.
we have 10 democrats running for the senate in states that donald trump won. so the notion that some of those democrats would not support this nominee for their own political futures to me leads me to think that any one of these four would get through the process and be confirmed. >> except you're missing one important point -- >> translato . >> in the context of the election in the mid-terms, i would also add right now a poll that we saw from "the washington post" last friday demonstrates that this president only has the approval of 32% of american women. if this supreme court fight is litigated on health care, litigated around choice, that's going to have implications for republicans as well. >> the supreme court fight is not going to be litigated out there. it's going to be litigated in the united states senate. republicans who do not vote for one of these four very qualified nominees are going to have an awfully difficult time explaining to their constituencies why they didn't. again, this is one of those things where what party you're
in really does matter and you talk about those three, there's more than three as sara points out, that are going to have to worry about this. claire mccaskill is going to have to think about it. i think there are six or seven -- >> once one democrat goes you could see a whole bunch go. >> that's true but the one thing that we are talking about with this supreme court nomination that we very rarely talk about in these nominations, usually it turns over roe v. wade or some obscure commerce clause argument this one i think for these democrats that are up for re-election in some red states, it's going to turn on health care because there are cases moving through the court. the last check on this president has been the courts in terms of unraveling the affordable care act. there are cases moving towards the supreme court that -- >> this weekend we saw them in district court. >> exactly, and we saw the administration just yesterday end payments to insurance companies that helps them cover people with pre-existing conditions. those democrats in those red states care about people with pre-existing conditions.
that's going to be determinative. >> that's not going to be determinative to joe donnelly in indiana or heidi heitkamp in her state. the fact is those states are so red and trump won by so much that they're in very, very difficult if not almost impossible races and they're not going to want to make their lives more difficult. >> we saw senator blumenthal, the line of attack which we anticipate from -- democrats are gearing up for war over whoever the nominee is, you know. there's going to be no rights for anyone who's gay, no women will have any rights, you must recuse yourself on a vote, theoretical vote on impeachment. democrats are going to throw everything at this and at the end of the day the governor is right, this is politically untenable. >> but right now it's not -- >> -- for people like joe manchin and heidi heitkamp and joe donnelly. >> we're not seeing democrats gearing up for war. we're seeing republicans gearing up for war around this nomination where you're seeing a profound fissure around this republican party.
>> i don't think there's any fissure. >> let me try to connect some of these points here as well. let's say mueller does come forward with some kind of report before the final hearings which are likely to be in october. isn't that -- we heard the response there from leonard leo, but isn't that going to strengthen the democrats' case for delaying anything in -- if a mueller robert drops right in the middle of confirmation hearings? >> no. what it will do is make confirmation easier because people will be distracted. if the supreme court is the only thing that people are going to be able to focus on, that will be one thing. if we're focusing on a report from bob mueller and the supreme court, this nominee will i think sail through because people will be distracted by the brightest, shiniest object. let me say this, there's not going to be a report, i'm willing to bet you right now. there will be no report until after the election. there's no way he's going to finish -- listen, george, he's going to have to finish them. we're sitting here today on july 7th or 8th right? july 8th.
he's going to have to finish by september 1st. not going to happen. >> if there's ever an argument to delay a supreme court nominee, it is with a special prosecutor issuing a report on whether the president of the united states colluded with russia on an election and obstructed justice. that is an argument to delay a supreme court nominee. >> really, because you're speculating that at some point a matter like that may in fact get to the supreme court and that person you're already deciding could be the deciding vote when in fact, when you look at what happened when president clinton was in office, the people who president clinton appointed voted against him on the paula jones matter. supreme court justices on issues like that are not going to vote in a partisan way. they're not going to vote according to party. we've seen that over and over again, whether it was the nixon tapes case, paula jones. >> we've seen them vote partisan over time. >> governor, the notion that somehow senators are going to be distracted from the supreme court decision i think is -- that's a stretch. this is one of the --
>> the reports -- >> this is one of the most remarkable shifts we're going to have in the supreme court in generations. the 1930 shift was remarkable, the 1968 shift was profound. this one is as consequential. there's no way democratic senators or republican senators will be distracted from it. this is going to be litigated -- >> particularly when it's the last branch of government that performs a check and balance on this president. >> let's not forget that this nominee is going to get confirmed because of harry reid getting rid of -- including the nuclear option for court picks and so democrats have no one but themselves to thank. >> it was actually mitch mcconnell who did away with the filibuster. >> both sides are always -- switch places on all of these nominations. isn't it true that even if harry reid had not done away with the filibuster, if it were necessary to do with away with the filibuster now to get a supreme court nominee through, they would do it. >> i don't know -- >> the reality is this is the way we select supreme court justices now in this country and whoever this person is, they
will be able to get confirmed. >> i'm not ready to buy into that this is the most profound moment in the court since 1968. anthony kennedy, if you look at his voting record, if you don't look -- >> conservative. >> -- at roe and gay rights -- >> two historic -- the most important decisions the supreme court has ever made, governor. >> but guess what, on most other things -- okay, i understand your point except that those issues are much more important to some as opposed to others. there are other issues on the court that are much more important to certain people around the country and anthony kennedy has been a main line. >> you're right that roe v. wade isn't important to most of the country. >> has been a main line conservative. this profound change that we're talking about i think as someone who's appointed supreme court justices at the state level, no matter what you're told before you nominate them, take my word for it, they forget once they get to the court and make decisions based on what they believe is right. >> but you have a president --
let's not forget that this is the first president who laid out some pretty strict litmus tests during the campaign which is what ultimately helped him get elected on the kind of justice that he's looking for both on roe v. wade, also on health care and many other things. >> are you trying to tell me that bill clinton and barack obama did not have a litmus test on roe v. wade? are you trying to tell me that bill clinton or barack obama would have appointed a justice that they knew was going to not support roe v. wade? please stop. just because donald trump was honest and said it -- wait a second, because donald trump was honest and said it and bill clinton and barack obama didn't, do don't tell me that they wouldn't consider -- >> look at the court today and know that the governor is right about that. all this conversation about roe v. wade, that's not the -- that's not likely to ever come up. that is into the likely to be the legal precedent. the court has moved to casey versus planned parenthood as the legal precedent. >> but you can see the court continuing to improve shaving
away at roe v. wade. >> also the science on abortion is the whole other factor that we forget 36 years later. >> no question. >> has moved this debate. this debate is completely different than it was when roe v. wade passed and any future court cases are going to be different because of those factors. >> that's absolutely right. let's turn back to the investigations and, chris, let me go back to the michael cohen potential cooperation with prosecution. you heard rudy giuliani saying he's not worried about it at all. do you share that? >> listen, i don't think rudy's telling the whole truth there. i don't think you can ever not be worried when someone who has at one time represented your client is now in the cross hairs of prosecutors. but i will tell you that i think that michael cohen's role based upon my observations has been significantly overplayed. he was one of many, many lawyers that donald trump had. >> he got the hottest of hot
button issues, trump tower in moscow, the stormy daniels case. >> you know what, my experience with donald trump is there aren't very many cool legal issues that he gets involved in, not ones that don't create a lot of controversy and a lot of heat. so listen, but it's all speculative, george. in the end, if michael cohen has some things to say, i think he's made it very clear he's going to say them with the actions he's taken by hiring a new lawyer, by cleaning up his twitter handle, all the rest of it. and by the way in my experience as a prosecutor, every criminal defendant makes almost all the time which is to put their own liberty and the sake of their family ahead of anybody else. that's what happens. >> i thought michael cohen's interview with you was absolutely astounding and it's clear that somebody who has had a long-time loyalty to this president has shifted. that has to be causing anxiety inside of the white house, some of the president's counsel. >> that has to be the last word today. thank you all very much. we'll be right back.
up next, four of the 12 boys trapped in a cave in thailand for two weeks are out. now the rescue efforts continue fo the rest. we'll have the latest. the final day for the alameda county fair. who gets in for free. and mike nicco is in for lisa. >> take a look at the marine layer, already starting to fade as we come up on 9:00. another hot day today with low to moderate risk of heat in inland neighborhoods. i've got some humidity coming. oh
. >> announcer: this san abc's news special report. thailand rescue, race against time. >> hello from new york, i'm dan harris alongside paula ferris. and we are coming on the air with some great news about the rescue operation to save members of that young soccer team and their coach trapped in a cave in thailand for more than two weeks. >> and that was the scene just outside the cave where it's already sunday night as four of the players were brought to safety just a few hours ago in what's been a complicated and risky operation. >> they were taken to the hospital by ambulance and my helicopter. they're now being evaluated and treated. >> the boys flange ages 11 to 16 were e