tv CNN Newsroom With John Berman and Poppy Harlow CNN June 18, 2018 6:00am-7:00am PDT
i'm jim sciutto. it is the day a father's day. if you are a father or a mother, imagine what it would be like to experience what immigrant parents at the border are being foed to experience as a result of the trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy specifically the part that separates children from their parents when they try to enter the united states. this is not about politics or policy or partisanship. this is about human lives. and the following simple facts, the department of homeland security confirms that the government has separated at least 2,000 children from their parents just since mid april. that is more than 300 children a week, nearly 50 children a day. after separation families are held in detention centers like this one. that is right, cages, chain link fences, mattresses on the floor. and these are the images the
government wants you to see. reporters were not allowed to take photos or record video themselves. president trump s that should blame the democrats, that it is their policies that got us here. the fact is it is not. his administration is the one enforcing these new rules. the president could stop it any day. we have crews covering every angle. we start with abby phillips live at the white house. the president's spokesman again blamed this on democrats. he says this is all the democrats doing. can the white house and president claim that? >> good morning. it seems very much that the white house is all over the place on this issue. very few people even republicans in his own party seem to be buying the explanation that democrats are the ones responsible for what has been a trump administration policy of zero tolerance that has resulted in nearly 2,000 children being separated from their families. now, while the president has
blamed democrats repeatedly for this, he also seems to be using it as a bargaining chip as recently as a few minutes ago when he just tweeted why don't democrats give us the votes to fix the world's worst immigration laws? where is the outcry for k and crime being caused by gangs and thugs including ms-13 coming into our country illegally? as you mentioned, the president's spokesman a few minutes ago also doubled down on this policy suggesting that the administration had no choice but to separate families because the alternative releasing families back into the united states was unacceptable to them. but the white house has been on the defensive on this issue. that has really been made very clear by the fact that the department of homeland security secretary tried to defend the administration by saying something interesting that a lot of people dispute here.
she claims we do not have a policy of separating families at the border. for those seeking asylum at points of entry we have continued policies from previous administrations and will only separate them if the child is in danger. there is no custodial relationship between family members and if the adult has broken a law. she does not say past administrations have chosen to charge virtually everyone crossing the border with a crime resulting in all of these separations. former first lady laura bush and others, republicans and democrats, decrying this practice but the administration seems to be doubling down now. >> doubling down even though it contradicts what people can see with their eyes. lawmakers from both parties have visited the detention centers to assess the situation first-hand. now this morning many are expressing outrage. nick valensia is well in one of the centers.
nick, a lot of competing claims being thrown around here. you are there and seeing it first-hand. tell us what it is like. >> this is one of the facilities that is the largest. it has capacity of holding about 1,500 boys from ages of 10 to 17. it is very well near capacity. it was justithin the last week that bob ortega was able to get into the facility describing packed conditions where the children are only allowed outside for two hours a day. they have the ability to contact family members but in most they donw the numbers to contact relatives. this is one of the last stops of the tour of democratic lawmakers. they called it a mission of mercy to highlight the zero tolerance policy, one that they call a zero humanity saying it lacks compassion from the white house and specifically president trump. it is an issue created bipartisan outrage that we heard
earlier today. >> to remain on the mexican side and be subject to gang attacks. >> this is an all-out assault on the concept of those fleeing persecution getting a fair chance to present their case for asylum here in the united states. we shouldn't be separating kids from their mothers. i don't think it will prevent terrorists or drugs from coming into our country. >> reporter: the majority of those that are here inside, those boys arrived on the border as unaccompanied minors. they travelled all this way without their parents. according to officials inside
they are seeing a surge in the number of those children separated from their family. so far it is just about 100. democratic lawmakers stressed that the surge is something that is very concerning to the officials inside here and something that they are anticipating. >> nick valencia ther you saw republican congressman will herd. you have the white house claiming this is not its policy. there is a republican congressman saying families are being separated at the border. joining me now is cnn special correspondent, patrick healy and here with me a politics reporter at the guardian. help me understand here. you can't deny what you see on the ground there. republican and democratic lawmakers go to visit so they can see first hand a policy that began in mid april during the trump administration. you see people and kids in cages
there, others at wal-mart separated from their parents. that's a fact. why is the white house denying that this is their policy? >> the president quite simply does not want to own a policy that is seen as inhumane. you saw a similar tactic with daca, protections rescinded for dreamers. he also sought to deflect blame then and say it was democrats to blame when he had thwarted a compromise. similarly, he is trying to use the fate of these children to extract concessions on immigration. so you see him trying to get funding for his border wall, trying to restrict even legal immigration. that is something that the house will be voting ons week in a pair of separate bills. and the problem is that when it comes to this particular policy he can end it tomorrow. there is no need for a legislative fix. certainly previous
administrations did not separate families at the border so that under mines the case that they are simply enforcing existing law. >> lindsey graham said the president could end this with a phone call. patrick healy, explain how the president is using this as a bargaining chip. republicans control the senate and the house. why does the president need to use this as a way to force democrats to pay for his wall? why can't republicans just give him his wall? let's set aside for a moment the brutality of using kids as a political bargaining chip, but on the issue of the immigration bill why does he feel the need to force democrats in this way? >> sure, jim. i remember during the campaign president trump, candidate trump said to me a couple of times the one thing i have to deliver on for republican voters is the wall. i am sort of done politically in
terms of the future if i can't get the wall done. and the reality is over the last year and a half he has been preoccupied with the fact that republicans and democrats, not just democrats, but republicans have had real concerns about the conception of the giant border wall of how it could be made. this is something that has stayed with president trump that has clearly bothered him that he cannot deliver on this wall. so he and jeff sessions. let's remember jeff sessions in the senate, steven miller, the white house aid when he was on the hill, too, these were sort of zero tolerance immigration folks. so they think that this is useful leverage at least with the base to show that zero tolerance is basically the m.o. of the trump administration on undocumented immigrants and that they can sort of whack the democrats over and over again.
as you pointed out, jim, the republicans have the votes. ifeople leaved in president trump's own party that this policy made sense or the wall was the better approach, the republicans could get thisdone, but they can't. they are divided. so he is going to just blame the deats over andagai >> and to be clear you raised the point that let's make it clear. there is no question about whose policy this is because the president's own advisers called this a useful deterrent. steven miller justified it, as well, on the air. it's really just not a question. you spent a lot of time with the bush family. laura bush, the former first lady, wrote an op-ed that came out last night. and in very damming terms about this policy. i live in a border state. i appreciate the need to enforce
and protect our international boundaries but the zero tolerance policy is cruel, imoral and breaks my she compared it to the separation of japanese families during world war ii. how rare is it for mrs. bush to speak up like this in such certain terms here, such stark criticism? >> very rare. laura bush rarely speaks up about policy. so the fact that she weighing in and the fact that she used those words, cruel, immoral, she picks her words very carefully. she picks her moments very carefully. and i think just to go back to what you said in the beginning, this is hugerisis for the white house. donald trump is in trouble when former first lady laura bush, when his own wife, melania trump who doesn't weigh in about
policy very often says something. franklin graham earlier this morning on the air, his friend anthony scaramucci said the president should pick up the phone. forget about tomorrow, he said he should pick up the phone today and end this policy. so there will be republicans coming to the white house to meet with the president tomorrow. this is a building cri for them. and donald trump knows about the power of images. remember, we saw him react to the children being gassed in syria. he understands the impact that those cages, that those images are having. so i think you're just going to see a tidal wave of pressure in the next couple of days. we also know that the president does not like to back down. and if he does, if he were on
this issue he certainly at least based on past practice will not take responsibility for it. it will create a new reality or blame someone else. you spent a lotf time covering this administration. do you see sense of backing off on this? or is the president digging in? his latest tweet seems to show he is digging in. >> i think what you might see is the president trying to suggest of the compromised bills that the house is poised to vote on would resolve this issue when int there is no bill that is going to bar the administration from separating families at the border, one of those pieces of legislation instead suggests that children can be deta along side their parents and leaves a great deal of discretion to the homeland security secretary but would give the president an opportunity to say that republicans in congress have come together and fixed the issue. he could make the phone call if
immigration is an issue he has used to mobilize his base. a new poll shows polarity of republican voters support this policy because by and large we have seen that on the issue of immigration increasingly the republican electorate is a lot more on the lines of ump. >> a lot supported family separation during world war ii. it didn't make it right, sadly. mela trump, the president's wife, of course, she has made a rare public statement on this tweeting over the weekend a statement from her spokesperson, mrs. trump hates to see children separated from their families and hopes both sides of the aisle can come together. she believes we need to be a country that follows all laws a heart. if the president won't listen to laura bush or the republicans in congress will he listen to his wife on this policy?
>> we will see. but that wordates to see -- in some ways the first lady's t reflects the trump policy. but just again the fact like laura bush that she came out to say something publically is so rare that we'll see if that has an impact. i just want to go back to one other thing. we have to note over and over again this is a discretionary policy. yes it could have been used for and the number of children -- i think we are now over 2,000 -- that we are going to see day in and day out is just going to ratchet up the pressure on the white house. >> thanks very much for discussing this. it's a difficult issue. 2,000 children taken from their parents, some sent thousands of miles away to live with foster
families. i will talk with one man leading a group that is helping the kids survive without their parents. digging for dirt. the meeting we are learning out from a trump associate and russian for a whole lot of money. fbi peter struck said he will talk to congress without subpoena about the anti-trump text messages. all they have to do is ask him. [music playing] (vo) from day one,
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roger stone, a trump campaign operative and long time trump con fidaunt is admitting to meeting with a russian. stone said he met in may 2016 with the russian. he was offering dirt on hillary clinton. sounds familiar, for $2 million. how much jeopardy is he in here for failing to disclose this? >> we now know this is something that the special counsel robert mueller has been investigating and asking questions of. how all this came about is important to know. michael caputto said he set this up. when he went before robert mueller he was asked questions about this and that is where all of this came up. this is essentially how we are learning about this. in letters that were sent to members on the hill to congressional staffers on the
hill, they say both roger stone and michael caputto's lawyers are trying to claim this is a set up by the fbi that this russian may have been an fbi plant. this meeting that took place in may 2016 is two months before the fbi started investigating the trump campaign for potential russian collusion so that is sort of questionable. certainly not telli members of the hill, misleading them could potentially cause jeopardy for both of them. >> the other big issue here is it is yet another russia meeting. when this all started there was denial of any meetings. this is one where it was a trump confidante willing to deal with a foreign national to get information on a presidential opponent. >> it is significant.
we heard of this before with the trump tower meeting. there was a russian there. >> also that they lied about. failed to disclose. >> there is a lot of questions. the idea of yet another one is pretty significant. why are we fact are certainly questions to be answered. interestingly enough michael caputto has been before the special counsel. roger stone has not heard anything from the special counsel from the fbi, none of the investigators. >> he might be waiting for his time with robert mueller. it was a pattern of meeting with the russians and lying about it. president trump's growing trade war with china will likely hit in a new way. a new report says chinese tariffs on soybeans could cost farmers some $624 million. joining me now cnn money chief business correspondent and proud
iowan. when you look at this significant hit for farmers there. iowa is a key state in the next presidential election. as aesult ofthis, are folks there talking about opposition to the president'sicy snz. >> look, you know, planting season is also fraught with peril. they are really worried about what they are calling tariff season. it's dangerous what is happening, how concerned some of the farmers are. you mentioned the statistic from an iowa state university economist. $14 billion in soybeans are exported every year to china. it's a huge market and will continue to be a huge market. you have seen soybean prices fall about 12% since this tariff tiff began. that is just bad news for farmers. you are absolutely right.
iowa broke to trump by some ten points. this was a state that had really put barack obama on the map eight years ago. it really is a ver different political climate that i think many iowa farmers had thought they would be in. i talked to some farmers who say they worry that agriculture because it is big and strong is soybean farmers being sacrificed for steel workers. the president has made a political calculation there. it's not just farmers, corn farmers and soybean farmers. mexico and china have said they e putting tariffs on pork. pork producers are concerned, as well. you have autos, crude oil, a whole host of categories. the president on friday said that the united states didn't start a trade war. the trade war was started by the chinese a long time ago and that he is going to fix inequities in the system.
the market will probably open a futures are down. morning. there were big multinational companies that closed lower because of worries bet sales down and barriers because of the china tariff. we'll see. you still have the s&p 500 up two per president started these trade actions. the economy here is very, very good. that's something the white house keeps pointing out. the economy is very, very good here. they think this is the time to make these trade moves because the economy could stand it. what happens to those th of children separated from their parents at the border? some are sent across the country. one of the men helping care for them joins me after this. let's begin.
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family. joining me now is th man behind the words, the president and ceo of bethany christian services. thanks for taking the time. >> thank you. >> so first of all, as you look at these children here, as you receive them into your care, i can just imagine my own children separated from me under those circumstances, how are they doing? >> obviously, they are traumatized. they have been through a difficult journey. they have come from a really difficult place. i like to describe it as they came from hell on earth so they are places in like honduras, they had to flee for their lives and travelled across mexico and parts of latin america and then come to the border and are separated from families. they have been through trauma and have had a traumatic journey and facing more trauma. >> so what do you tell them? i imagine they have a lot of questions. can you answer their questis? they will be asking when will i
see my mom and dad. >> we try to work with the children to find the parents immediately. obviously, we have to call around to different detention centers. we have people that do that. we work with the children to try to find their parents as soon as possible. we w them to feel safe. above all we want them to know they are in a safe place and are being taken care of. we try to put them with foster families s that they are not in a detention center but in a loving family while we look for their family and try to give them some sense of stability when they don't have any stability. >> i thought their parents are sent out of the country. how can you find their parents because their parents aren't being allowed entry into the country? >> many of themre separated at the border. many come across the border and their children are taken from the parents. in many cases the children don't know what is happening. in many cases the parents don't
know what is happening. we have heard stories of we need your child to bathe them and then the child never comes back. the parents are in the country, many are in detention centers and separated from their children during this time. >> what is your answer to the justification for this? you have heard this as the president has denied it. his own aides have taken ownership of this policy. they describe it as a useful deterrent against families coming here. what is your answer to that justification? >> there are two things. we don't see it as a deterrent. i described it they are coming from a desperate situation. we have heard stories of a father trying to stop gangs from getting his kid so he would be put into the gang. the father was executed in front of his child. we have heard stories of families having to pay money to gangs in order for them to have security. it they don't pay the money i
heard they will take the daughter in the family and put her into prostitution. people are fleeing from a really desperate situation. they are fleeing for their lives. so it is just taking the focus off of the issue and traumatizing kids. so bethany believes that w should always let the families stay together. we should always have them together. second of all, please don't put people in detention centers and especially kids. that's not the right place ever. third, if you have to separate the children let them be in foster care as they are going through this. we would prefer not to wrap up. we would prefer them to be with their families. >> seems like a simple rule. thanks so much for taking the time. as the president faces back lash over the separation of immigrant families he will meet with republican lawmakers on the hill and some are loudly
criticizing his policy. i know you have been up on the hill. president trump to discuss two house gop bills on immigration tomorrow. what are lawmakers saying ahead of the meeting? do they express to you hope for a solution that fixes the family separation problem? in fact, even lindsey graham has said really the president could end that without legislation. >> reporter: this is a moving target. initially president trump had asked for a bipartisan bill of love. that was rejected by the president. it really is a big question in terms of whether or not he will sign off on either of these pieces of legislation. i will tell you that democrats are not necessarily worried that they will pay a price for this. i spoke with nancy pelosi who said the bills are unamerican and they are essentially trying to shame the president as well as the republicans. the republicans see this a lot a pressure especially former first
lady laura bush as a game changer coming out with the op-ed criticizing the immigration policy. they are desperate to get something to resolve the family separation issue. the conservative bill that is going to come up is very unlikely to pass. that does not create path to citizenship for daca recipients. the one that went back in forth in terms of whether or not the president will sign off on it has a couple of things they think they can grab on to including $25 billion for border security, ending diversity visa lottery program as well as creating a path to citizenship for daca recipients and addressing the family separation piece but only partly. what will we expect in the next 24 to 48 hours? 3:00 today you have senators
from the appropriations committee meeting behind closed doors with the president to talk about the expense and cost of the border wall. what can they sign off on. you have a 3:00 meeting on the border, a round table discussion. you see pelonancy pelosi and ot pushing for the public relations view, the morality view saying we cannot have this in our country. look at what this actually is and what it looks like. and then tuesday 5:30 is when you see the president meeting behind closed doors with the house republicans. what kind of bill can he sign on to. how do they move this forward? all of that very much influx. >> just to be clear, there is no legislative fix necessary. that can be fixed with a phone call because it is a discretionary policy. >> that is something i believe people are making their views known whether or not it is privately to the president or
senator lindsey graham saying pick up the phone. you can make this call. you don't have to have a legislative fix. we can fix this today. >> he wants his wall. suzanne malveaux, thanks very much. he was removed from the russia investigation for sending anti-trump te now peter struck is willing he says to testify before congress.
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fbi agent sd he is willing to testify before congress without a subpoena on his role in the russia probe. struck was removed from the investigation by special counsel robert mueller after it was discovered he had sent some anti-trump text messages. the president has used those messages to dismiss the entire investigation which involves hundreds of fbi agents has bias against the president. as always he makes it personal. trump called strzok a sick loser on twitter. the president's lawyer rudy giuliani says that strzok should be in jail. cnn justice reporter joins us now live from the department of justice. laura, looking at this now, he
is making this offer, peter strzok. is it likely to be an offer that is accepted by lawmakers on the hill? >> peter strzok certainly has a story to tell. the only question is when will he get to tell it? last week the inspector general released the lengthy report evaluating a series of steps that prosecutors and investigators took leading up to the 2016 election. and the inspector general found that by and large those decisions were groded in facts and law and not motivated by political bias. however, the inspector general did find and was troubled by a series of text messages exchanged between peter strzok and fbi lawyer including one in which strzok suggested would stop president trump from being elected. he was troubled by the idea that strzok was prioritizing the russia investigation over the clinton e-mail occupied a uniqu
position. last week house republicans appeared ready to subpoena strzok but his lawyer says he is willing to come voluntarily telling me last night in a statement pete is central to the story. we should let the american people see who he really is. >> let's talk about this with harry litman, former u.s. attorney and former deputy attorney general. >> thanks for having me. >> this offer from peter strzok, his lawyer saying he is willing to testify without immunity, how significant is that offer? >> i think it is a pretty significant tactical move. i think he feels he has been completely bloodied by the o.g. report and doesn't have much to lose in a way. it is gutsy. he is walking right into the
lion's den and will be ring peo been calling for his head. i think he thinks that his stock really can't fall vh more and he really relishes the opportunity to set things straight both about what he has been accused of doing and also the broader context of the investigations. >> does he put himself in any lel jeopardy by appearing before congress? with sworn testimony he would have to tell the truth under tough questioning. does it present some legal risk for him? >> i think the short answer is no. i know giuliani has called for him to be in jail. look, the criticism here is that he sent what he would say were sophomoric e-mails that he thought were private that he was having a clandestine affair with. and i don't any possible
liability either criminal or regulatory unless he does, as you say, something else. on the other hand, i think he will be pointing out and there is a difficult position for the house comm whae report has now identified as a, quote, deep and visceral hatred by senior fbi staffers against hillary clton in new york. and here there seems to have been operational moves. here it seems as if those senior agents actually leaked news to the committee. representative nunez confirmed it. it will be a kind of tricky pushback on his part if he can make it. >> that is the part that the president and his allies are not highlighting, this evidence of bias on the other side folks against hillary clinton, do you see based on what you saw in the i.g. report and was there legal significance to that? it sounds like you are saying it
influenced the way they proceeded with that investigation. >> i think so. it wasn't specifically a subject of what he addressing. so he doesn't go into it at length. i'mot sure why. but i believe that house chair nunez has acknowledged, in fact, receiving leaked information in october of 2016. whoever would have done that and in fact it would have led to the drum beat to reopen the investigation, those people may well have violated fbi regulations. whereas, having a stupid sophomoric exchange that the i.g. found had no operational significance i think doesn't expose strzok to any kind of liability. >> thanks very much. >> thanks for your time. even the first lady is now joining the outcry over immigrant children being separated from their parents at
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heart. cnn white house reporter kate bennett joins me now. kate, you read the statement very carefully and i know you've been in communication with the first lady's office about this. you say she's not actually breaking with the president here, though. she's criticizing both sides? >> i think as usual with this first lady, she's the more compassionate voice of the administration. she says things with more, i guess, heart or tone that is a little more -- a bit softer, but she does say in that statement that she's waiting for, she thinks, both sides of the aisle need to come together and pass immigration reform. so what she's also saying is this is a political issue, she hates to see it, we need to govern with heart, however, she also sort of echoes the president here in saying that this is a partisan issue. >> both sides share the blame. >> even though this say discretionary policy the president started and could end with a phone call. >> exactly.i do think that, you people are, like, can't she tell her husband, you know, she needs to, you know, weigh in here with him. i think she does.
my sources tell me certainly he listens to her, they discuss things like this, but he also has -- >> he listens, but does he make changes as a result? >> i don't know. that has yet to be seen clearly. he has a base and cabinet and everyone on capitol hill to listen to. i think his wife does hold some influence on him for sure. but i think that this has become agger, broader issue, but melania trump champions children, she said this is her cause, helping children all over the world, seems to me this is right in her wheel house and it appropriate for her to comment, and i think this is something she needs to keep an eye on. >> do you think that was a driving force, the best campaign, difficult to sell that when you have images of these kids in, what can only be described as cages. >> 100%. she talks about being a mom and how that influences her as first lady and she chose helping children as her platform because she is so concerned about the well-being of kids. so certainly this was not one where i think she should have been quiet. certainly laura bush as we saw came out very forcefully with an
opinion far, far different than the first lady -- current first lady. i think melania trump she does not tiptoe into policy that often. this is something that has clearly touched her and i think we might hear from her even more. >> difficult to avoid. kate bennett, thank you very much. families torn apart as we were saying at the u.s. border. children separated from their moms and dads. it may be one of the only things that both sides of the aisle, some on both sides of the aisle are upset about. we'll be following all those developments next hour.
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with a top-rated paint at a great price. find it exclusively at the home depot. good morning. this morning, i'm jim sciutto. growing outrage, finger pointing, blame shifting as well. all over the trump administration's zero tolerance immigration policy. but none of that can change the simple facts. within the last two months, the department of homeland security has instituted policy which it confirms separated nearly 2,000 children from their parents as those families entered the united states. after separation, those families are held in detention centers like this one here. that's right. cages, chain link fences, mattresses on the floor. they're held there anywhere from a few days to more than a week, some kids are kept in those centers, others are sent thousands of miles away from their families