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tv   Situation Room With Wolf Blitzer  CNN  July 5, 2018 3:00pm-4:00pm PDT

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the scandal plagued epa chief calls it quits after more than a dozen ethics investigations. tonight the president is speaking out, still defending pruitt. the trump administration can't or won't provide hard numbers on immigrant families that have been torn apart. the president's health chief suggests that hundreds more children may be separated from their parents than first thought. no pardon expected. as michael cohen faces criminal charges, we're told he is not anticipating a rebrief frprievee president. and underwater, crews are racing to drain flooded areas of the cave where a dozen boys and their coach are trapped. tonight heavy rains may threaten the already dangerous rescue mission. we want to welcome our viewers here in the united states and around the world. wolf blitzer is off today. i'm jim acosta and you're in "the situation room." this is cnn breaking news
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zblo. scott pruitt stepping down as head of the epa. in his resignation letter pruitt appears to blame his downfall on political attacks. tonight we're told the epa's watchdog will continue to investigate pruitt despite his exit. i'll get reablction from two members of congress. first, the cnn white house correspondent caitlyn collins. the president spoke about pruitt's resignation just a few minutes ago. what did he say? >> reporter: we're hearing from the president for the first time on this resignation. he is making clear that scott pruitt resigned and was not fired by the president, despite the number of scandals made against him. he's telling reporters on air force one there was no final straw for scott pruitt, saying he is a terrific guy and that he came to the president and said
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that he has such great confidence in the administration, i don't want to be a distraction. trump says i think scott felt that he was a distraction. now he was asked directly was this scott pruitt's choice or yours. jim, the president said it was very much up to him. >> scott pruitt -- >> reporter: embattled epa chief scott pruitt out tonight after months of ethics scandals and questions about his behavior. president trump announcing on twitter, i have accepted the resignation of scott pruitt as the administrator of the environmental protection agency. praising pruitt's work rolling back obama era regulations at the epa, but making no mention of the dozens of ethics questions facing him. pruitt writing to the president, your confidence in me has blessed me personally, adding
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the unrelenting attacks on me personally and my family are unprecedented and have taken a sizable toll. pruitt constantly facing questions about his security detail, first class travel and cozy relationships with lobbyists. pruitt was back in the headlines just this week. a cnn report revealing he and his aides kept secret calendars to hide contentious meetings. an aide testified before the house oversight committee that pruitt asked her to find his wife a job with a salary over 0 $200,000. and he directly asked trump this spring to fire attorney general jeff sessions and led him laet t -- lead the department of justice instead. despite the bad optics, trump
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never wavered. >> i'm not happy about certain things but he's done a fantastic job running the epa. but i am not happy about it. >> reporter: on wednesday, pruitt appeared to be in good standing with the president, smiling and shaking hands at the white house's fourth of july picnic. >> administrator scott pruitt -- >> reporter: but in this administration, 24 hours can mean the difference between a job and a farewell. now, jim, the president told reporters on air force one that he hopes scott pruitt goes on to have a great life and he's already looking forward to who is going to take his place. that is andrew wheeler, his deputy at the epa, a former coal lobbyist. the president said he has been with him for a long time and said he is a very environmental person. >> we'll see how much the climate changes at the epa. let's bring in drew griffin.
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you uncovered pruitt's habit of using a secret calendar to hide meetings. >> it was part of our analysis and a whistle blower came forward, pruitt's deputy chief of staff came forward this week and told us about this secret calendar that was kept at the epa, specifically designed to hide from the public and others who scott pruitt was meeting with. actually under pruitt's direction the epa staff would decide what would be on the calendar, what would be deleted, what would be scrubbed, all in an effort to protect politically the epa administrator. that came out this week. just this morning two democratic congressmen demanded yet another epa inspector general report based on that reporting. a few hours later the "new york times" backed up our reporting with another former staffer at epa who confirmed exactly what
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we're reporting. i think the big issue here was in all of these ethical investigations going on, this one may have been a violation of the law, of federal records keeping act and perhaps that is the final straw. but there have been so many straws with this guy, it's hard to tell. >> drew, some of the other controversies surrounding pruitt are also baffling. we have a list on our screen right now. it's just -- it would take too long for us to go overall of them. but what stands out to you? >> some of the highlights that i look at are what he was doing for personal gain. he had his epa staff on government time running around washington, d.c. trying to buy mattresses, buy snacks for him, look for real estate. but also he was trying actively to get his wife a six figure job even to the point of using his office perhaps to set up a meeting with the chick-fil-a
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organization to get his wife a franchise that they could put in tulsa, oklahoma. so those kind of things stand out as using the office for personal gain. i thought the reporting this week that pruitt may have been angling to work with the president of the united states to try to put scott pruitt in jeff sessions' job as attorney general was also quite damning in terms of the optics of it all. >> we'll turn to congressman don buyer. he has been on the case of scott pruitt for many months now. congressman, you've been one of the loudest voices calling for scott pruitt's resignation through all of these investigations. have you seen someone in washington cling to their job for so long with so much baggage? >> it's just unbelievable. any other administration, democrat or republican, he'd have been gone months and months ago. trump says today that he didn't
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fire him. a good boss would have fired him a long, long time ago. he's megalow maniacal. that job he was going to get for his wife, he told his staff he was going to set up a secret llc so it wouldn't have to be disclosed on the federal forms. everything he did seemed to reek of hiding from the public what he was doing. >> so you felt it was intentional every time one of these ethical lapses would come up, that he was intentionally doing these things? it wasn't one of those things where he didn't know the rules or restrictions. >> this guy was the attorney general of oklahoma. i think he was president of the association of attorneys general. he'd have lots and lots of ethics stuff. >> we have his resignation letter. he takes no personal responsibility, does not apologize for his behavior. what do you make of that? >> that it's part of the
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megalomania. he seems not to understand that he has to live by the same rules everyone else does, which reminds me of the president. and the sense that he's way more important than he really is, the notion that he should be the attorney general of the united states. trump really, the responsible thing would have been to get him out of that seat a lot earlier. the biggest objection are not these long lists of things he's done, the 13 investigations, but rather what he's done to the environment. he's basically turned over our clean water rules, clean air rules, a lot of the chemicals we monitor to the companies being regulated and letting them decide. >> the president talking to reporters on air force one described pruitt as outstanding and terrific. what does that say to you? >> that the president doesn't get it at all. first of all, he's not famous for paying attention to what's going on at all. here you have the economy in the
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eight years of obama and now the first year of trump is going very, very strong. no one can say our environmental rules have held back economic growth. >> what do you make of some of this talk in scott pruitt's resignation letter where he talks about the president coming into office because of god's providence and so on? what is that all about? you've looked at scott pruitt closely. >> i don't want to make any broad conclusions except that it's always weird when you have someone who is so unethical, blends in all the god stuff. >> does it sound like he worships the president a little bit? >> maybe. he seems not to live up to the kind of code that anybody from the jewish christian muslim faith would go to. it's a huge cognitive clash. i don't want to say his faith isn't real, but he's certainly not living up to the faith that he says he ha.
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>> the number of children in hhs custody is phigher than previously said. hhs said it's about a thousand more kid than we were previously told. do you get the sense they have any kind of grasp on hard numbers here or know how to get these kids back to their parents? >> the last two weeks i visited parents in baltimore, children out in prince william county virginia. and there's this tremendous sense that there's no coordination at all. we go back to scott pruitt and unethical. you may want to know when secretary nielsen will stop lying about the separation policy the administration has. i was trying to tell my grandchildren age 7 and 4 about the kids the other day. they could not understand it at all. my wife got mad at me for exposing the children to this idea of wrenching children from
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their parents. >> we saw in our last hour video of a child being reunited with her mother at boston's logan airport. heart wrenching to watch these reunifications. it's good they're being reunited, but it sounds as though these families have been psychologically traumatized. what is the government's responsibility to those families in the long run? here's some of that video again of this child being reunited with her mother. does the government have a responsibility here to these families that have been traumatized? >> the initial anxiety that anyone of us faces is separation anxiety from our parents. they just made it traumatic for these kid. >> apparently this person was not reunited because of this policy, but it just goes to show you what they've been doing through. you saw the president earlier today contradicting himself again saying that the congress must pass immigration reform.
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i'm sure you saw over the weekend where he said forget about it, which was contrary to what he said earlier in the week when he said let's do it. what are members of congress to take from this red light/green light game that the president is playing with congress on immigration? >> as long as steven miller is driving immigration policy in the white house, we're not going to make any progress. sooner or later the republicans in the house and senate need to ignore trump, work with democrats and pass good bipartisan legislation. it's been offered a number of times in both houses. the house version could easily pass. they won't put it on the floor because trump says he won't sign it. more news just ahead. i'll get republican reaction to scott pruitt's resignation. adam kinsinger is standing by.
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it's a distraction. there were stories every day. it's interesting, as a republican, i liked a lot of the policies coming out of the epa. i thought the epa was returning to its mission of interpreting congressional laws instead of making its own. but all these scandals and visual issues, bottom line, it was taking a lot of this off message. there's a temptation when you're in public service -- we get paid well, but you're always around people that are worth millions and billions and the temptation for people in public service can be to say, well, i don't want to be worth millions and billions too. during public service you have to say, look, i'm here to work for the people, i'm going to do what's right by the people even if they disagree with my policies. >> scott pruitt's replacement is going to carry out the same policies, which i guess you support. why do you think president trump
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turned a blind eye to pruitt's unethical swamp-like behavior for so long? why did he stick with pruitt for so long? >> yeah, i don't know. i can't answer that. i haven't talked to the president about it. you know, there's some things he does that it's hard for me to determine why. maybe he just really likes scott. maybe he liked the policies he was putting out. maybe there was something else. i'm not sure what it was. but when it's all said and done, he resigned, he did the right thing. it's time we move forward and get somebody in that position that will carry out, frankly, the president's policies but do it in a way that will maintain the trust of the people even if they disagree with the policies. >> in his resignation letter, pruitt says he resigned due to unrelenting personal attacks on him. don't you think he should take responsibility for his behavior? >> i'm not going to kick the guy
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while he's down. sure, there's obviously a lot of personal responsibility he has on that. i didn't even read the resignation letter. i'm not all that interested in it. when it's said and done, he's gone. i think we're going to hopefully move forward with a better fit and go from there. >> i want to ask you about president trump's immigration policies. hhs has revised the number of children it says it has in custody. that number is up from what hhs previously told us and it's still trying to figure out which children were separated from their parents and even doing some dna testing to sort all of this out. are you comfortable with how the trump administration has handled this policy? i mean, what is your reaction to the fact that they don't really seem to have, you know, any firm idea of where all of these kids are, how to get them reunited with their parents or even how many of these children they have?
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>> keep in mind a couple things. a lot of people were sent up without parents in the first place. it's a very dangerous journey. those that were sent up with their parents, there's a very intense process to get them back with the right people. think about it like this. if somebody shows up with a couple of kids and says these are my kids, nobody has identification on them. the government has to make sure is that in fact the children of the person that's claiming to be or is it a human trafficker or a c coyote or something like that. god forbid we reunite somebody with somebody who's not their children. the government is trying to do everything they can to get this situation fixed. we have to make sure we're doing it right. if we put a kids with somebody that claims to be their father and it's not, that's a whole other story. >> you said you think the
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government is doing everything possible, but do you think when they first started separating these children from their parents that they had a plan for reuniting these children with their parents when their detentions were over? did they seem to lack the necessary planning at the beginning of this process? that's what it looks like to everybody else. >> i can't answer to that. because i don't know what they were thinking necessarily at the beginning. i pretty much early on called out and side these kids should be reunited with their parents. the border is being flooded right now. we have to figure out this asylum issue so make sure that people are lejts egitimately clg asyl asylum. coming to america isn't a right, it's a privilege. if you're in a situation where you truly fear for your life, that is a courtesy we have
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extended. unfortunately a lot of people have found a way to take advantage of that. even beyond that, we are depriving these central american countries of the very people they need to fix their own problems. it's the same issue i had in syria. i'm a big advocate for fixing syria. but when people were leaving syria, those were the very people we need to overthrow assad. >> president trump says he had good chemistry with kim jong-un and he's taking credit for the pause in missile and nuclear testing. he also said that president obama was very close to going to war with north korea. what do you make of that? do all of the president's comments about north korea and the deal he struck with kim jong-un, do they make sense to you? do you have a firm grasp of what he's accomplishing with north korea at this point? >> i think i've said on this, we're going to know when this process is complete. there's going to be days when
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there's valleys, days when it looks like everything is falling apart, days where we think everything is coming together. it's really going to be judged by what comes out six months from now or however long this process takes. i was concerned with suspending military exercises. but ultimately the right guy is there right now, mike pompeo. i know him well. me praye my prayer is that we strike a deal with north korea is denuclearized forever and we don't have to -- >> the administration claims they've already struck a deal. but it seems as though they're still trying to strike a deal. >> yeah, sure. i didn't like the idea of saying it's already over because there is a long journey ahead of us. some of the words i wasn't fully on board with, but i do give the president a lot of credit because he drove dokim jong-un
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the table with sanctions and a ready military option. my prayer is that we can say it was successful. >> he still has to close the deal, though. all right. thank you so much for joining us. just ahead, more on the resignation of scott pruitt and president trump's defense of a scandal plagued epa chief. plus, breaking news about president trump's long time lawyer michael cohen. almost $800 when we switched our auto and home insurance. with liberty, we could afford a real babysitter
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we're getting more reaction to the breaking news. epa chief scott pruitt stepping down. we have another breaking story on the president's long time personal lawyer michael cohen. let's bring in mj lee. you're learning more about michael cohen's mindset right now, including what he's recently told friends about a possible pardon from the president. what can you tell us? >> reporter: what we're being told by cohen's friends is that cohen currently does not believe that trump will offer him a presidential pardon. one friend tells cnn they brought up the possibility of a trump pardon in a recent phone call with cohen and that cohen's response was, quote, i don't think so, i just don't think so. according to this friend, cohen feels quite certain that he has been, quote, unquote, dismissed by the president. a second friend also tells cnn that cohen is operating under
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the assumption that he is not going to be pardoned. it's important to point out cohen is currently under criminal investigation in new york. but he has not been charged. we don't know what he might be charged with. we also don't know whether pardoning cohen is something that president trump might consider. still, the fact that cohen is telling friends he is not counting on a pardon from a man he was so loyal to for so many years gives us some interesting insight into where his head is right now. we've been reporting for a while that cohen has been feeling very isolated. he's worried about his future and his family. and when it comes to trump, he's disappointed that his former boss hasn't been more supportive of him publicly. last weekend cohen told abc news that he would always put his own family and the country first, before trump. and he really seemed to be distancing himself from the president. so all of this could play into what cohen eventually decides to do if and when he is indicted. all of that will depend on what
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he is charged with and if probabilities are even willing to make a deal with cohen, which we don't know the answer to yet. >> this is just coming in. michael cohen is hiring a lawyer, lanny davis, a familiar name here in washington. that seems like an unlikely hire. >> he is a lawyer with very close ties to the clintons. he worked for former president bill clinton including through the impeachment proceedings. he has been a big supporter of hillary clinton as well. we have just learned that cohen is hiring davis, though it's not clear what capacity davis will be working for cohen. here's a statement we received from davis. he said, like most of america, i have been following the matter regarding michael cohen with great interest. as an attorney, i have talked to michael many times in the last two weeks. then i read his words published on july 2nd. this is presumably referring to the abc interview. and i recognized his sincerity.
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michael cohen deserves to tell his side of the story, subject, of course, to the advice of counsel. this new hiring is particularly interesting, jim, given that cohen also recently decided to hire a guy patrillo, an experienced trial lawyer who really understands the southern district of new york. these developments seem to suggest cohen wants to beef up his team and he's preparing to fight back all ahead of a possible indictment. >> let's turn to our panelist of experts. david axelrod, lanny davis working with michael cohen, i didn't see that one coming rchgs n -- >> no it's beginning to look more and more like the barroom scene from "star wars" over there. you don't hire lanny davis as a lawyer. he's a lawyer like rudy giuliani is a lawyer in this whole episode. he is there for one of two reasons. one is to appear on television
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and mix it up on tv on behalf of cohen. the over the and i think more likely more reason he hired him is he's been for the last few days increasingly sending smoke signals to the white house that if they don't come to his rescue, he is going to flip on them. that was the subtext of the george interview. he just in the last few days removed references to trump from his social media profiles. and now this lanny davis hire c is provocative as davis has been an out spoken critic of trump. all of this seems to me a way of rattling the cage over at the white house. >> you worked for barack obama. you know that lanny davis is a tough advocate for whoever he's working for. >> no doubt.
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>> it seemed that the president hasn't ruled out pardons for a whole host of folks. it's interesting that michael cohen would be saying to people, i don't think i'm getting a pardon. how much of that is posturing? >> as a former henchman of president trump, he would be in a position to know. i don't think president trump is going to take anything off the table that he has the ability to do. but on the other hand, jim, i think michael cohen, if he thinks that it's a possibility he won't get a pardon, then he's not going to go quietly into that good night. he's got guy patrillo and he's got lanny davis. >> what does this mean for president trump?
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in the short-term, the it could be just a public relations headache if lanny davis is planning to go on tv and tell them michael cohen's side of the story. that might not be the best thing for trump and the white house. but the long-term question of michael cohen flipping on president trump, he has a wealth of knowledge that could potentially be complicated for the president, potentially damaging. he knows about the stormy daniels deal. he knows about some of these meetings with russian nationals that happened during the course of the campaign. and of course he has intimate knowledge of the president's business dealings over the course of many years. that's a whole other potential web that the president could get caught in. >> what do you think, phil mud? >> this is really interesting. let's move a few chess pieces. it's like mr. cohen is saying i'm in trouble and i'm going to fight. he hires a former federal
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prosecutor. why? he wants to say, hey, i'm going to turn over and talk about the president. he hires lanny davis. that says i'm going to get out like your lawyer, like the former mayor of new york and attack you. this is a frontal message to the white house saying, if you think i'm going to take one for the team, i just left the team, it's over. >> getting back to scott pruitt, you were there in the early days of the obama administration and well beyond that obviously. do you recall having to deal with a cabinet secretary who had that much baggage? what do you think of this sudden resignation from scott pruitt? >> i get 14 probes is just too much. you know, i don't think ethics is a big concern of this administration. that's been pretty clear. and in terms of what he's been doing at epa, he's thrilled some
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of the base of the republican party and certainly the donor base in the energy industry, but the fact is that these investigations are piling onto the point where he was becoming a liability to the president. and so the president cut him loose. i think it's just that clear. i don't think it had anything to do with the president's disapprobation of pruitt's behavior. in fact, the president had nothing to say about the subjects of these 14 probes. in this white house and in this administration, if you become a liability, that is an unpardonable offense. >> scott pruitt heading to inin door, no apologies. and the president praising him on his way out the door. >> it's a very trumpian way to exit, is it not? no responsibility taken, no apology. but scott pruitt is undoubtedly
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also thinking of a second act here. how do i recover from this, what is next? we know he has thought potentially of running for office back home in oklahoma, statewide office or federal office. that must be on his mind as he's crafting this exit, how do i get out of here as unscathed as possible. >> thanks to all of you, appreciate that. just ahead, there may be more separated families than previously thought and very few, if any, reunions. we'll have a live report near the southern border and get a reality check on the confusing figures from the trump administration. and torrential rains could make the cave rescue operation more dangerous and add to delays. 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.
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stand by for more on the breaking news on the earesignatn of scott pruitt. also tonight, new confusion and concern about the number of immigrant children who have been separated from their families. let's go to miguel marquez in texas near the southern border. put into context, if you can for us, the newest statements from the trump administration and what you're seeing on the ground there. >> reporter: the trump administration, the health and human services secretary saying today that just under 3,000 children they have in their care that have been separated from their parents. what they are not saying are how
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many of those children were separated from their parents as part of the zero tolerance policy. there's great pressure on the administration right now and there's a lot of movement by the administration, but we are not seeing reunifications that the administration is making on their own accord. they say they are coming. we are seeing them in other ways, though. there was a guatemalan mother who had a very emotional reunion with her 8-year-old daughter at boston's logan airport today. she was picked up in arizona in may. she passed a credible fear test of her asylum claim. and then she was bonded out. she had help from the aclu and other legal groups. it's one of these one-off reunions we have seen in other parts of the country. and then she was able to verify that she was, in fact, this young girl's mother. she got herself to logan airport. her daughter was brought into
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logan, all of this with the help of people. it takes a lot of money to do this and a lot of organization. they had this incredible reunion today at logan airport. it really underscores sort of the emotion behind all of this. i stand in front of these drab government processing centers. and when you see and hear a mother like that seeing her daughter for the first time in two months, it is very very difficult to watch and to hear. the trump administration says that by next tuesday it will have those under fives, there's about a hundred of them they say they have in their charare. they will be reunited with their families, either by the families making bond as this woman did, or by the families being detained together. the administration says they have physically moved the parents of those under fives to texas and they will detain them at fort bliss military base until their legal claims are dealt with. >> just incredible to watch
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these families and what they're going through. what can you tell us about the dna testing that the administration is talking about on these separated children and their parents to reunite them? >> reporter: the government saying that the secretary of health and human services saying that they have to resort to dna testing for parents, because the timeline, because the court has ordered all of these kids to be reunited. the timeline is so short now that they have to use dna to verify these the parents of these kids and that the relationship does kpips. typically it could be done through documentation and other means. because they're blaming the courts and the congress for not fixing it, because of that, they say stla they have to do it by . they say it will only be used for reunification purposes. >> secretary of state mike pompeo is returning to north korea on a high stakes mission to get kim jong-un to live up to his promises to president trump.
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new u.s. intelligence reports suggest kim may be moving forward with his nuclear program rather than dismantling it. we're joined by cnn pentagon correspondent barbara starr. pompeo could use some proof that kim jong-un is serious about denuclearization, because it seems to be a situation where you have doubts right now out of north korea. >> jim, this is the essential problem. president trump again today said he feels good about the meeting he had with kim in singapore. but getting a signature on the dotted line, getting a deal, long way to go on that one, jim. tonight, secretary of state mike pompeo under tremendous pressure to get north korea to denuclearize. north korea did destroy entrances to underground tunnels used to test nuclear bombs, but pompeo now has to deliver much more. >> he's under tremendous pressure.
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i think what we've seen from singapore is rather an empty, empty joint statement. and now he has to make something out of it. >> president trump sounding optimistic last month. >> they stopped all nuclear testing. they stopped nuclear research. they stopped rocketry. they stopped everything that you'd want them to stop. and they blew up sites where they test. >> reporter: but so far, no sign kim jong-un has given up his nuclear weapons, defense officials say. commercial satellite imagery continues to show potential activity at the nuclear research facility. the u.s. is keeping sharp watch across north korea. >> there have been these reports about increased production of fissile material, the completion of construction on a facility that north korea makes its ballistic missiles. all sorts of things.
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>> reporter: pompeo publicly remains hopeful, tweeting, looking forward to continuing our work toward the final fully verified denuclearization of dprk as agreed to by chairman kim. but it's an uphill climb, given white house expectations. >> secretary of state, mike pompeo, will be discussing this with the north koreans in the near future about really how to dismantle all of their wmd and ballistic missile programs in a year. >> reporter: north korea has to agree to timelines for dismantlement and verification and inspection of facilities. kim isn't moving fast, even on the promise to transfer remains of potentially 200 american troops killed during the korean-american war. something president trump said has already happened. >> we got back our great fallen hero, the remains. in fact, today, already 200 have been sent back. >> reporter: but so far, only
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temporary caskets have been moved to the dmz, in case the north koreans carry out the promise. and now with pompeo just hours away from landing in pyongyang, the state department pushing back against any suggestion that they are softening the u.s. position as he lands there, saying they are still going for denuclearization. jim? >> barbara starr, thank you very much. we appreciate it. just ahead, after nearly two weeks trapped in a cave, are those boys and their soccer coach healthy enough to escape?
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what's critical thinking like? a basketball costs $14. what's team spirit worth? (cheers) what's it worth to talk to your mom? what's the value of a walk in the woods? the value of capital is to create, not just wealth, but things that matter. morgan stanley touch shows how we really feel. but does psoriasis ever get in the way? embrace the chance of 100% clear skin with taltz. up to 90% of those with moderate to severe psoriasis had a significant improvement of their psoriasis plaques. most people were still clearer after one year. with taltz, 4 out of 10 even achieved completely clear skin. don't use if you're allergic to taltz. before starting, you should be checked for tuberculosis. taltz may increase risk of infections and lower your ability to fight them.
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we'll have much more ahead on scott pruitt's resignation. but first, new threats to the already dangerous mission to rescue boys trapped in a cave. heavy rain and health problems making it difficult to get them out safely. cnn's matt rivers is on the ground in thailand. matt, what can you tell us? >> well, jim, the good news is that the rain has largely held off for the past day or so. the water level inside the cave has gone down, but the bad news is that that is not going to last. tonight, a race against time. rescuers drilling through rock, removing stones by hand and pumping as much water out of the cave's passageways as they can, while they can. >> translator: we are draining out the water all the time, but no matter what, water is still coming in. >> reporter: torrential rains
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are expected to begin sunday, threatening to wash away their efforts and their hopes of a timely rescue. more than two miles inside the cave, a supply of food and oxygen keeps the soccer team smiling, but medical experts say at least three of them, including the coach, are too malnourished to evacuate safely. still, 13 sets of diving equipment have been prepared in case of a hasty emergency exit. >> we just have to assess everything at the moment. we have to see what the conditions bring, what the water levels inside the caves do, and what options are available to us. >> reporter: after one failed attempt, communication lines are being fed again through winding stone in hopes of connecting those inside with rescuers and family above. it would be a much-needed boost, both for morale and expediency. >> translator: to deliver information from inside the cave, navy s.e.a.l.s have to dive for 11 hours. we spend six hours going in and another five hours coming out. this is our main obstacle.
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>> reporter: far from the dive teams deep below, dozens more rescuers are hoping for a way to reach the boys from the jungle above. >> we are calculating the position of the children and the corresponding position on the surface. about 20 to 30 teams will converge in this area to survey for shafts or holes that may be of use to our plan. >> reporter: the entire community here, it seems, is praying. here at the school where several of the trapped boys attended classes, vigils are held each morning. and others are doing their part in different ways, as water is pumped out from the cave, it floods the local crops at great cost to farmers. they say, it's all worth it. the lives of the people are more important, this farmer says. the villagers are happy to sacrifice. it's for the kids. jim, i can tell you that the odds might be long, but not one person that we've spoken to here in northern thailand has given up hope. the rescue mission for these children and that coach goes on
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in earnest. jim? >> matt rivers, we can see the rescue operation underway behind you. we appreciate that report. thank you so much for that. i'm jim acosta. thank you very much for watching tonight. "erin burnett outfront" starts right now. "outfront" next, the breaking news. embattled epa chief scott pruitt resigns. and despite the scandals, the president still coming to his defense. plus, a shocking new admission. the trump administration now suggesting hundreds more children may have been separated from their parents at the border. do they have any idea how many kids they have? and breaking news, michael cohen further distancing himself from the president. what is he scared of? let's go "outfront." good evening, everyone. i'm kate balduan in for erin burnett. "outfront" tonight, breaking news. scott pruitt is out. president trump telling reporters he has accepted the resignation of his embattled epa chief, saying it was very much up t


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