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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  June 27, 2018 2:00pm-3:00pm PDT

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i have so many questions and they have so many answers but that is all the time we have. follow me on facebook and twitter at jake tapper. that is it for "the lead." i turn you over to wolf blitzer. he's next door in "the situation room." thanks for watching. happening now. breaking news. justice retires. anthony kennedy announcing he's leaving the supreme court and taking with him a critical swing vote that has decided some of the biggest cases of the last three decades. who will president trump pick to replace him? supreme fallout. the president said the search for the replacement begins immediately and senate majority leader mitch mcconnell said a confirmation vote will come this fall. but democrats say the vote should wait until after the midterms. will they try to block the president's nominee. putin's summit. officials confirm that president trump will meet with his russian counterpart with a date and location to be announced
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tomorrow. will mr. trump call out putin for russia interference in the 2016 u.s. election? and kim's new construction. new satellite images show north korea upgrading a key nuclear facility used to produce weapons-grade material. is kim jong-un misleading president trump about denuclearization? i'm wolf blitzer and you're in "the situation room." >> announcer: this is cnn breaking news. >> we're following breaking news. a growing partisan battle over the next supreme court justice as 81-year-old anthony kennedy announced he will retire from the high court at the end of next month. democrats are demanding a confirmation vote on president trump's eventual nominee wait until after the m-- midterm ele until after the 2016 election
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but senate majority leader mitch mcconnell plans a confirmation vote before november. we'll talk about the breaking news with two members of the senate judiciary committee, dirk durbin and sheldon whitehouse and our specialists and analysts are all standing by. first, let's go straight to our senior white house correspondent jeff zeleny joining us from fargo, north dakota, where the president is holding a rally later tonight. the president now gets to pick a second supreme court justice. >> reporter: he does get a second justice. but anthony kennedy is so much more t-- so much more than that and one of nine. after serving for some 30 years, this is a monumental the decision now has before him. so there is no question that president trump will pick from a list of 25 conservatives that he has already announced publicly. the question is when that will happen. republicans mitch mcconnell leading the charge say that must happen before the mid-term elections. democrats of course are saying it should happen after the
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midterm elections. wolf, only one thing tonight is clear, this now will become part of the midterm election fight and the president will talk about that tonight here in north dakota. >> he is a man who is displaying great vision. he's displayed tremendous vision. and tremendous hart. >> reporter: president trump facing a historic opportunity tonight. to not only fill the seat of anthony kennedy to be change the direction of the high court with a firm conservative majority. >> we will begin our search for a new justice of the united states supreme court that will begin immediately. and hopefully we're going to pick somebody who will be as outstanding. >> reporter: his retirement kept secret until the end. it adds another monumental to the president during the midterm and nothing fires them up more than a vacancy.
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justice kennedy delivered the news himself, carrying the resignation letter to the white house. >> i got his ideas on things, including i asked him if he had certain people that he had great respect for that potentially could take his seat, which is a very hard seat to fill. >> reporter: that is an understatement. conservatives will demand a far more reliable vote than kennedy. >> mr. president trump and mrs. reagan -- >> a reagan nominee and libertarian who sided with liberals on abortion and affirmative action and gay rights. it is a chance for trump to give the fifth full throated conservative. >> we have a very excellent list of great talented and highly educated and highly intelligent, hopefully tremendous people. i think the list is very out standing. >> reporter: the president pledged to make the selection from a public list of 25 well established conservative jurists and would move swiftly, a sentiment issues by mitch mcconnell. >> we will vote to confirm
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justice kennedy's successor this fall. it is imparive that the president's nominee be considered fairly. >> reporter: mcconnellin fury ated democrats by refusing to seat president trump's nominee during the final year of his presidency. democrats tried to retaliating with a filibuster to neil gorsuch but it backfired and prompted mcconnell to change the rules of the senate which means the next nominee only needs 51 votes to be confirmed. trump often said putting gorsuch on the court is the biggest achievement since taking office. >> i've always felt that after the defense of our nation, the most important decision a president of the united states can make is the appointment of a supreme court justice. depending on their age, a justice can be active for 50 years and his or her decisions can last a century or more and can often be permanent.
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>> reporter: and that is one of the central reasons the permanent nature of the supreme court post and the possibility of appointing a young nominee like neil gorsuch is why senate democrats are urging a delay on this. chuck schumer called this a once in a generation at least decision. he is calling for this to be a vote to be held after the mid-term elections. democrats think the senate is in play. and they argue with a third of the senate up for races this fall, they should wait until after that is selected. republicans of course are saying not so fast. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell made clear on the senate floor today, they will have the vote in the fall. the only thing it seems that democrats can do, wolf, is slow this down. but of course the key question, what about the red state democrats like here in north dakota, senator heidi heitkamp and that is pivotal and now central to the midterm campaign. >> jeff zeleny.
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thank you very much. and more on the breaking news. joining us our chief legal analyst jeffrey toobin and supreme court reporterary anna devogue. so what does this mean? you've served on the supreme court for a long time. what does it mean -- >> we talk about the terms of abstractions an this is very concrete significance. let's talk about abortion rights. anthony kennedy was the fifth vote and the final vote to defend roe v. wade. it is going to disappear. it derived in 1973 and it will die shortly. what that means is that in a significant part of the country, whether it is ten states, maybe it is 20 states, abortion will soon be absolutely illegal because there is nothing more important to the conservative movement than getting a pro-life, anti-roe v. wade justice on this court and they got one in neil gorsuch. >> didn't chief justice say it was settled law. >> every time he's had the
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opportunity to vote on abortion, he has voted with limitation -- in favor of limitations. all of the state legislatures in states like mississippi and south dakota, the anti-abortion states, know that the come pr-- composition of the court is changing and they will pass laws to challenge the court to uphold or overturn those and i see no possibility any more that those laws will be overturned as they have been since 1973. >> walk us through some of the names that are out there for potential successors. >> and remember trump put out a list. no other presidential candidate could i remember prepared a list so at the top of the list will two former kennedy clerks and kennedy has two kinds of clerks. he has a lot of liberal clerks. these aren't. these are conservative. and one is a man named brett kavanaugh. he's a judge and young and he serves here. and talking about juris prudence, he recently dissented when his court allowed an abortion procedure to go through in a case about an undocumented
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immigrant. he was in dissent. another one is ray kethledge and he has a case on digital privacy. he was just reversed at the court by roberts and the liberals. and then there is thomas hardiman and i don't think they like him as much as the president. he was a runner upfor gore such's seat and he has this family story, no ivy leagues, drove a cab for a while. he served on the bench with trump's sister. so he could be an interesting pick. maybe not as conservative as some of the federalist site people and then amy barrett put on the second circuit and she was at notre dame and what is interesting about her is that the junior confirmation hearing, she had strong writings in the past on religion and that bothered feinstein. so that could end up being a fight. and then the two last ones, amul
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thapaar is the favorite of mcconnell and that would be an interesting pick. and then mike lee is a wild card. he's not a judge. he's a senator. would it help in this kind of environment to have a senator be put forward. >> so that is the list. it will change. as of this morning, they thought brett kavanaugh was at the top. >> and mike lee would consider it and let's see if the president going forward on that front. but as you point out, justice kennedy was the key vote on abortion right, same-sex marriage, affirmative action. if a new more conservative justice sits on the court, what happens to those critically important issues? >> the death penalty is another. making it easier to execute people. limiting or prohibiting universities from considering race in admissions. allowing restaurants, bakeries, hotel owners to say, you know
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what, we have religious occasions to serving gay people so you can't take your business here. those are the kinds of issues where kennedy voted with the left. he usually voted with the right. but on issues of individual rights, certainly affirmative action and on gay rights, those precedents are going to be gone because this is say promise that donald trump made, that is why he gave those -- he gave that list of 25. and if you look at the 25 names, there is not a moderate there. there are no anthony kennedys there. this is a different supreme court starting on the first monday in october. >> and you've covered the supreme court for a long time and why do you think justice kennedy decided to step down at this point because there is speculati speculation he may have wanted president trump to flame a more conservative justice. >> the thing is at the end of the term he was odd. he didn't take -- he didn't bite a couple of big cases that we thought he would regarding partisan gerrymandering in that
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cake shop. i think at the end of the day, the answer is probably he's a grandfather and he wanted to spend time with his kids and do this before the election and did he not want to sort of draw a vacancy at the courtney more than he had to in election skirmish. but i think probably at the end of the day he's 81 years old and he spent more than 30 years on that bench and he wanted to step down. >> and he's also a republican. he made his name as an -- as an aide to ronald reagan in sacramento when ronald reagan was governor. he was a friend and a protege of ed win niese who promoted him to the ninth circuit and then the supreme court. so yes, there are certain number of areas where he's voted with the liberals but by enlarge, anthony kennedy and this year whether it is the travel ban cases or the masterpiece bakery case. >> he is a conservative person
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an a republican and he gave his seat as most presidents do -- as most justices do, to a president of his party. >> he was nominated by president ronald reagan, 30 or so years ago. thank you very much. let's get more on this. joining us now, democratic senator sheldon whitehouse of rhode island from the judiciary committee. thanks for joining us. >> good to be with you. >> do you plan to vote on any nominee the president puts forward in the coming months, no matter how qualified that individual might be. >> i think that plan will develop in the days ahead. we don't have a nominee yet. this is just today's news. what i would say is that it is extremely ironic that this announcement should come today which is the day that every single senate democrat got behind and filed a piece of legislation to rid our elections of dark money.
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the dark money problem was brought to us by five republican appointees on the supreme court and then in the garland gorsuch confrontation it turned around and dark money preserved the five on the supreme court. in all of this you could look forward to intense -- intense pressure by the big special interests behind the republican party to make sure that whoever the next supreme court justice is, they will continue to support the unlimited money an the dark money that have allowed big, big especially interest -- >> and let me press you. >> the devil of politics -- >> will you you vote against the president's nominee if it happens before the mid-term elections, no matter who that nominee might be. >> i haven't seen the nominee to vote against at this point. >> so are you saying you're open minded? >> well, i've got a lot of skepticism about this president. i've got a lot of skepticism about the nominations process which looks like it is a special interest obstacle course to get a checklist as to who nominees
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will agree with before they get on the court. i think the recent spate of 5-4 decision from the supreme court is really alarming. in terms of 5-4 partisan decision that have a big special interest behind the curtain when you look at the winners. so is my skepticism at an all-time high? oh, yes it is. >> listen to what your republican colleague warren hatch of utah had to tell our constituent on capitol hill manu raju. listen to this. >> this is not close to a presidential election. >> it is close to a midterm election where senate seats are -- >> but that is different. we'll still have the same people that are -- that will hear this any way and frankly -- >> a third of the senate is up, though. >> well, so. that doesn't mean the senate doesn't function. especially when it comes to picking a supreme court justice. we should move ahead on this. >> so should this nominee, this vote on a next supreme court justice wait until after the election, the mcconnell rule, they waited --
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>> to be consistent with the mcconnell rule. but when you look at the way the republicans approach the supreme court, you cannot look either at principle or precedent or at process. you can only look at one thing. and that is power. the desire to seize control of the supreme court for right wing and big corporate special interests. that is just the record that has developed through the 5-4 decisions and the record of justice gorsuch and a record that americans need to look out for. because as bad as it is to have big corporate special interests tants legislature and our politics, once they start pulling strings on courts, things get really bad. >> but you heard senator orrin hatch say there is a difference between waiting until after a presidential election and waiting in advance of a midterm election. because as you know, president trump is president for the next two and a half years. >> a presidential appointment still needs to go through a senate confirmation. and there is as good a chance right now that democrats will
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take the senate as there was that trump would win the election when mcconnell made that promise. so in terms of giving the american people a chance to weigh in, if the republicans were going to be consistent, they would have to follow the mcconnell rule. in fact, the odds are probably greater of democrats taking the senate than of trump winning back at that point. so the point is here, you can't look at them either for precedent or for principle or for process. they're going to want to put a conservative, somebody who will do the bidding of big interest in the seat and do whatever it takes to get there. >> the democratic party, there is a 51-49 republican majority in the senate right now. the democratic party could vote on mass against the president's nominee but republicans still have the majority. and as you well remember, harry reid who was then the majority leader in the senate, he did away with the jushl filibuster when democrats controlled the senate. looking back, was that a major mistake? >> this is driven by leader
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mcconnell's vision -- >> yes, but it is the decision for earlier -- >> but you're assuming -- you're ignoring what i said which is when it comes to supreme court nominees, the republicans don't care about process or precedent or principle. they want to control the court and they will do whatever it takes to get there. had harry not done that, and had we had a lock-up on the supreme court nominee. mitch mcconnell would have done exactly the same thing that he did. we'd be in the exact same position no matter what harry reid did. >> what he did, he didn't include the supreme court but the other judicial nominees, was that a mistake on his part? >> not one that affects us today. obviously we're seeing it in the circuit court nominees run through and the district court nominees but i think the notion that this wouldn't be done by the republicans is fanciful. >> senator whitehouse, thanks for joining us. >> good to be with you.
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pay attention, this will get bumpy. >> we're paying attention. the breaking news continues. how the you who is preparing to pick a new supreme court justice embracing for a very intense confirmation battle and the just announced summit between president trump and vladimir putin, why it is rattling u.s. allies in europe. one second. barely enough time for this man to take a bite of turkey. but for cyber criminals it's plenty of time to launch thousands of attacks. luckily security analysts and watson are on his side. spotting threats faster and protecting his data with the most securely encrypted main frame in the world. it's a smart way to eat lunch in peace. sweet, oblivious peace.
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there is a history of injustice in this country that goes back to the very first day. but there's also a history of people pushing for justice. when we think about fighting the injustice that is this president, i think we should take pride in trying to be part of that tradition. we have a president that has lied over and over again. you know, donald trump is not a law-abiding citizen. president trump has made an abomination of the office.
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you know, donald trump is not a law-abiding citizen.
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you always get the lowest price on our rooms, guaranteed?m let's get someone to say it with a really low voice. carl? lowest price guaranteed. what about the world's lowest limbo stick? how low can you go? nice one, carl. hey i've got an idea. just say, badda book. badda boom. badda book. badda boom. nice. always the lowest price, guaranteed. book now at breaking news this hour. the retirement of the u.s. supreme court justice anthony kennedy and the battle brewing and it will be intense over the president trump's second supreme court nomination. let's get more from our specialists and our analysts.
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and ann millie gram you are a legal analysts, what does this mean for the makeup of the supreme court. >> it means it will change. we've talked about this a little bit already but the court and clend has been conservative but he has been a swing vote and by that we mean that there are times and occasions where he becomes the crucial fifth vote. the court has nine members and we have to have a majority to get a decision. the majority opinion, you so need that fifth vote. kennedy is frequently been that vote and he hasn't always been consistently conservative. he is conservative jurist but vote in the favor of upholding the women's right to choose and eliminating the death penalty for juveniles and in favor of same-sex marriage. so he's made the court and the decisions of the court in some instances far less conservative than they would have been with the kind of person who trump we know will nominate to replace him. >> on those significant issues, jamie, could justice kennedy's
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replacement significantly alter what is now the law of the land? >> absolutely. we used to hear 5-4, 5-4 and a republican called me up sold and said listen to this. listen to me, the new number is going to be 6-3. this is a once in a lifetime chance to change the court and when you have issues like abortion rights and gay rights, it can have a -- a massive impact. republicans put out a statement, no supreme court justice in history has done more to advance gay rights than justice kennedy. that he authored all of those opinions. that alone could be a big change. >> philip you cover the white house, how is the white house and the president preparing for what will be a significant battle over this confirmation process? >> there is no question president trump is eagerly awaiting this opportunity. but this all goes back to the campaign when they first drafted up a list of potential supreme court justices that he could tap
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and that list importantly was crafted in -- with conservative groups in mind. it was basically a group of potential justices who were vetted by conservative pro-life groups and by others and so this is already a list that is quite conservative. and they've already committed to picking from that group. and president trump after having gone through neil gorsuch, he's ready to make his own mark on this choice. i think the last time around he leaned heavily on his advisers and i wouldn't be surprised if president trump was more forceful this time around. >> and the democrats are the minority and republicans have 51 and the democrats have 49. you need a simple majority to be confirmed. 50 because if it is a tie then the vice president mike pence breaks the tie in favor of the republicans. so do the democrats have any leverage right now? >> well they don't have the filibuster any more. and they have a couple of options. one, they could make this argument that sheldon whitehouse was making before we came out here, that oh, we should wait
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until after the midterms before choosing this. i think that will fall on deaf ears. trump wouldn't do that. it was absurd when mcconnell made it last time around and more absurd -- >> and he succeeded because they have the majority. >> absolutely. they have the votes. but the idea that the president shouldn't be allowed to pick a supreme court justice when there is a vacancy is absurd and what they can do and the only option is delaying tact is -- tactic after the election or find two votes, find two republicans who are bothered by whoever this nominee is. so the white house has to make sure that whoever they choose that the suzanne collins of the world, the lisa murkowski, anyone that is not fully in line with the most conservative -- the conservative legal agenda and on big issues like abortion, this could become important,
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they have to make sure they have the 51 republican votes locked up and the democrats don't have an opportunity to get two votes to the office. >> and ryan makes an important point. you have a few moderate republican senators like susan collins and lisa murkowski who support abortion rights for women. if they were to go against the republican majority, go with the democrats, that could hold things up. >> this is so important. and it is so important because that list -- the 17 individuals who donald trump put out as potential supreme court nominees on his behalf. there is a greatest hits of deeply conservative -- and i would argue extreme conservative people. jurists and most of them, 16 are judges in our country and i would argue most of them are not in step with the vast majority of americans. and so what that means is that for the more moderate republicans like the two senate ors we just discussed, it is critically important to require that the nominee is reflective of america than just the extreme
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right which seems to be dictating the politics in the court right now. so this is a decision that -- this is going to last for -- they'll nominate somebody who is probably late 40s, early 50s. this individual will sit on the court for 30 years and so these two senators and really a handful of senators will be able to decide, does the nominee -- is he or she within the heartland of america or somebody an extreme far right conservative, and that may undo existing laws and so -- and rulings. so this is critically important. that is the conversation we have to have. >> these are lifetime nominations appointments to the supreme court. so 30 or maybe 40 years. someone could have a seat on that supreme court. i've been asking people, do you think that justice kennedy's decision was deliberate so that president trump could nominate someone? >> we've heard rumors about this for quite sometime. i think he was ready to go. he's a republican. but it is interesting, even if this happens before november,
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and there is no delay, i think this is going to energize the base on both sides in november. because we've heard that trump is speculated that he may have more seats to fill. in 18 months he's had two. ruth bader ginsburg is 85. they are elderly. so what happens in november, whether or not it affects this confirmation could very well affect what happens afterwards. >> everybody stand by. i want to get more reaction right now. joining us, the senate number two democrat. >> senator dick durbin of illinois. thank you for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. >> will you vote against any nominee put forward by president trump no matter how qualified that person might be for the job, if all of this is played out before the midterm election? >> of course not. i'm going to judge that person on the merits and i hope it is a good moderate person to replace
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justice kennedy. i'm hopeful but not confident that will be the case at all. >> if mitch mcconnell was wrong to deny president trump's nominee a fair hearing before the presidential election, why should the democratic party repeat that mistake now and try to prevent nomination from going forward before the midterm -- congressional elections. >> i think mitch mcconnell ought to stick with his story. he said he couldn't fill the vacancy under obama because the american people had an election coming up and they should make the decision. we're four months away from another election and the decision of who will be in charge in the senate. using mcconnell's logic, we should wait until the new congress is sworn in before we can consider this vacancy. i would be surprised if he did it. >> everybody would be surprised if he accepted that advice. as you well know better than anyone, the republicans still have a majority. 51 votes in the senate. and the democrats have 49. the judicial filibuster for supreme court nominations is dead.
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so what leverage does the democratic party have right now? >> well i could tell you, within the senate rules very limited leverage. but we do have the court of public opinion. the american people will get to judge whether or not donald trump's selection for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land is consistent with american values or represents an extreme point of view. if they think it is extreme, they can make the feelings felt. not only by contacting congress, but by their votes in the next election. >> will you try to slow down the calendar and take as much time as possible to slow down t debate? >> you know, there is a limited opportunity for the minority to slow anything down and under the rules of the senate, i've been here for a few years and watched it play out, if i remember right. gorsuch nomination start to finish was around three months so if there is a hurry up play, we're likely to see it happen before the election. >> that is what everybody suspects. you are in the leadership, the minority whip in the u.s. senate. will you push the entire democratic caucus and two
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independents, will you push all of them including some of the more conservative members, like joe manchin and heidi heitkamp, joe donnelly who are up for re-election and heavily republican states this year to vote on mass against the president's nominee, even if that punts them at risk of losing their seat? >> listen, wolf, i'm skeptical this president will come up with a good moderate for the u.s. supreme court. let me make that my starting point. but i think it is irresponsible for anybody to announce this far in advance sight unseen on voting against the nominee whoever it is. we are responsible -- have a responsible to the constitution and this country to fairly judge whoever that nominee may be. i'm not hopeful. but i'm going to stick around and wait for the president's choice. >> the confirmation fight will energize republicans heading into the mid-term elections. do you think the same thing could be said for democrats? >> absolutely. we understand the high stakes here. this isn't just a decision by the president on a travel ban or
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how to treat immigrant children at borders, it is a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land. that court will decide issues that affect every single american family and business. whether we're talking about health care and the admissions of the republicans to eliminate coverage for pre-existing conditions, reduce the opportunities for health insurance for millions of americans, or gets down to basic rights of women in the future or gun safety, environment, all of these issues can come before the supreme court. >> senator durbin, thanks so much for joining us. >> thank you, wolf. let's get some analysis. we just heard, ryan, he's realistic. you just heard him say that there is limited options for the democrats right now. >> i mean, just completely resigned that this is a fait accompli. he went and pointed out there is nothing in the senate rules that they could do. i did not see a whole lot of fight in dick durbin and that is surprising even just for the
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theatrics. >> and you think three months start to finish. so that is before the first monday in october. >> august and september. >> and it is not as if the president has to start from scratch. he has this list. it is been vetted. he knows what it is. >> and the democrats know who is on the list so they've already started doing homework and opposition research. >> it is important to reiterate there are two important republican votes in this matter. and we don't know exactly how far susan collins and lisa murkowski are willing to go on the issue of abortion. and right now that is all of the talk. that is what everybody is talking about because it is believed to be the first thing that could go if this court swings dramatically to the right. so i think we really don't know how they're going to move their weight around in the senate with it so narrowly divided, every senator on the republican side has a lot of power to kind of affect -- maybe not the timing but the tenure of the debate
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about the justice. >> with 25 candidates, there are some on there who are conservative, young, and that the president thinks can get through the litmus test of susan collins and senator lisa murkowski for blowing up his nomination. he doesn't want that to happen. >> and is there anything realistically you think the democrats could do to prevent a roll call vote on the floor of the united states senate until after the mid-term elections? >> i think obviously it is very hard. but i also feel that we've seen some extraordinary things happening in politics lately and there is a level of frist reagan with american politics we haven't seen in a long time and it is on both sides of the aisle. when people understand this is not just about our lifetime but our children's lifetimes and grandchildren and we're talking about the court swinging in a conservative direction for the next 30, 40 years minimum. and if there are six -- if there are six -- if there are six
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conservatives, we really do end up not having the kind of balance that i think benefits our country when it is a more bipartisan court candidly. and so who knows what the american people can do. i still have to have hope that there is a possibility that we end up with somebody who is more in the mold of sandra day o'connor or justice kennedy. >> it is interesting, ryan, because all of the republicans and most of them that i've spoken to, they think neil gorsuch, that the president put on the u.s. supreme court was a brilliant idea from his perspective from the republicans p perspective. if he does that again, will he rally the republicans and say look at what i'm doing not for the next four or eight years but for the next 30 or 40 years depending on the age of the new nominee, one of the things in his first year trump and the white house handled without bungling. the gorsuch nomination. >> one of his best days. >> that is what reince priebus would brag about during his tenure and every republican says
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how could you support this and he says the crazy things and what do they come back and say, the supreme court. those republicans today are saying this is why we took a gamble on this guy. >> by far this is a bigger issue for republicans at the ballot box and for democrats and so i don't think that will change a whole lot this year. >> good discussion. coming up, john bolton is in moscow meeting with vladimir putin setting up a summit between the russian leader and president trump. more information. and plus the vacancy after the surprise announcement of justice anthony kennedy's retirement.
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the others? nope! get internet on our gig-speed network and add voice and tv for $34.90 more per month. call or go on line today. into today in moscow john bolton met with vladimir putin nailing down the details for the next one-on-one meeting between president trump and vladimir putin. our correspondent michelle kosinski is with us in "the situation room." what do we know about the upcoming summit. >> it is a big deal. this is the big sitdown between trump and putin. july 15th is the date we've been hearing. they think that helsinki, finland is the likely location but we won't know the details until they are announced tomorrow in this coordinated release of those details with moscow. so we could see some of the showiness of this already coming through. there is kind of an element of
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suspense there for the last couple of weeks. but today we saw the intriguing pictures of the president national security adviser john bolton, somebody spoken out repeatedly very harshly against putin, against russia, sit down with putin and start to hammer out some of the details. he has for a long time criticized the idea of the u.s. sitting down with enemies but here he is saying this summit will be in the u.s. best interest. listen. >> the fact is that it is important for the leaders of these two countries to meet. there are wide range of issues despite the differences between us. where both president trump and president putin think they could find constructive solutions i would like to hear someone say that is a bad idea. >> it is not so clear what if anything is going to come out of this. there is obviously a lot to talk about. there are a lost issues of disagreement but our sources are saying that there are people
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within the state department and the white house who are questioning what the purpose of this is and that the president has been pushing for this as a meet and greet and he also loved the attention and the -- the eyes of the world on him during the summit with kim jong-un. and he sees this as something similar and a potential positive. >> it's presumably going to take place right after he meeted with the nato allies. and you are plugged in and what are you hearing about their anticipation of this meeting. >> there is concern that before nato it was considered date and now we know and we are confident that it will happen after the nato and not that that necessarily matters. but there are concerns out there -- even though some are saying this is fine. we heard the secretary general of nato saying this is absolutely fine and could be a positive. but u.s. allies are concerned that in this meeting, what if president trump suddenly or not
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so subtly gives putin signals that for example crimin-- that belongs to russia and sanctions could be lifted and europe will be on board or signals that assad will stay in power in syria. they don't see this as necessarily a positive. but one diplomat was telling us, well if it is all smiles with putin and at nato, it is all snarls as it was with the g-7, that is going to send a very bad signal. >> thanks very much michelle kosinski. coming up, new photographs now reveal north korea is making improvements to its nuclear facilities as kim jong-un trying to get away with something. and plus much more on the major breaking news. the battle lines shaping up over the brand-new vacancy on the u.s. supreme court.
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tonight despite the hopes created by president trump's meeting with kim jong-un, there are now some troubling signs emerging that north korea is making improvements to its nuclear facilities. cnn's brian todd has been checking with his sources. tell us more about these recent changes, brian. >> tonight we're told that one north korean facility in particular, which has produced plutonium, a critical component in nuclear weapons, has undergone an upgrade. this despite all of kim's promises at the summit and president trump's declaration that there's no longer a nuclear threat from north korea.
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tonight, new evidence that kim jong-un could still be tweaking, making improvements to his nuclear facilities, despite his promise to president trump to draw down his nuclear arsenal. new satellite images from the monitoring group 38 north suggest kim's regime is making upgrades to its nuclear research facility, upgrades which the group says are being done, quote, at a rapid pace. 38 north believes much of that work took place before president trump's summit with kim on june 12th, but it says some of the work probably occurred after the singapore meeting, after kim's prom promise to work to denuclearize. >> if you were about to work to demolish your house, would you be up gragrading the kitchen? >> reporter: 38 north says it believes the facility is no longer producing plutonium crucial for nuclear weapons. but there have been
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modifications made to the cooling system. >> it is an important reactor. you can draw the conclusion of course if they intend to operate it in the future and it operated more fichbtlefficiently, then i produce plu toplutonium more efficiently. they could be outside inspectors intended to verify any new ingredients or they could be vips. >> reporter: neither the white house nor u.s. intelligence officials are commenting on these new images tonight. 38 north says some of these upgrades could be so routine that they may not mean that kim is going back on his pledge to denuclearize. other analysts believe they know which way the dictator will go
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if he's pressured for specific cuts to his arsenal. >> he wants to keep his nuclear weapons. nothing in the singapore summit changes that. >> reporter: which leads to the question why did kim come to the table in singapore? >> i they're hoping to so normalize and sanitize kim jong-un's image -- we saw selfies with the singapore prime minister, walks along marina bay sands in singapore, hand shakes with the president. he wants to sanitize his image so he can then be included among other nuclear powers like for example china or russia. >> reporter: analysts say all of this now puts more pressure on president trump, mike pompeo and the rest of the trump team tonight to exert their own pressure on kim jong-un to be more specific about the weapons he's going to draw down and to get some of that in writing. experts say kim may very well balli i balk at that.
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there's breaking news. the battle brewing over the next u.s. supreme court justice as anthony kennedy announces he's retiring.
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. happ breaking news, justice departs. president trump is searching for a new supreme court nominee after the bombshell announcement
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that justin anthony kennece ant retiring. supreme change, as the high court loses a justice known for casting a swing vote, some historic decisions like roe versus wade may be at risk of being overturned. sfl national security advisor john bolton seals the deal with vladimir putin for the first summit between president trump and the kremlin leader. will they delve into the sensitive subject of russia's election meddling? and only six children, stunning new statistics on the small number of young immigrants reunited with their detained parents. this as a federal judge sets a new timeline for the trump administration to bring hundreds of separated families together. we want to welcome our viewers in


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