tv The Lead With Jake Tapper CNN July 5, 2018 1:00pm-2:00pm PDT
scott pruitt. make sure you stick with us on cnn. special coverage continues. i'm brooke baldwin in new york. thanks so much for being with me. the laead starts right now. thank you for joining me i'm jim sciutto. pruitt came to washington already as a controversial figure and has since then faced relent less questions as steady stream of scandals emerge td surrounding the chief, ethics, conduct in office. pruitt was facing at least 14 federal probes regarding his spending, his management, his ethics. cnn kaitlan collins is at the white house. kaitlin, it was just yesterday that scott pruitt was celebrating fourth of july at the white house. do we know what the tipping point was for the president? >> well, jim, it could be any of
the number of scandals against scott pruitt who you are right was on the south lawn of the white house last night with the president and several other officials watching the fireworks on fourth of july. but now the president has a united states noed on twitter he has announced his resignation and president accepted it. noting in the tweet, while he was the chief, he did an outstanding job in the president's eyes n the two tweets president announcing thethis news. saying that he did a great job and senate confirmed andrew wheeler who is going to assume the duties of acting straightor of the epa. the president says no doubt they'll continue to fulfill the duties of epa.
this says why he was in there for so long, abuse of taxpayer money, to enlisting aides to do personal favors for him and his family, to quite zany ones like getting a used mattress from the trump hotel. but now scott pruitt could not stick around after his name had been in the headlines this week, after moral gauges made against him by his former aides and some reporting from cnn that he had gone and directly appealed to the president to do that. but even this week the calls were coming from conservative cover corners hailed him as a hero rolling back the obama era guidelines at the epa. even they said he needed to g and the president announcing his resignation. we should note this is not a firing, it's him accepting scott pruitt resignation after a dis-inc. number of ethics scandals. jim. >> that could often be code
language, i suppose, "a" well. at the white house. sara joining me now. you've been chronicling the many things of scott pruitt. remind us because it is a long list. >> reporter: it is. analyst growing by the day, jim. this really started to tumble out of control a few months ago for scott pruitt when there were reports that he was traveling in first class on taxpayer dime, sighting security reasons. that was causing taxpayers millions of dollars and unprecedented amount of money, more than what they had spent on security for previous administrations. but the list continued. renting a condo at below market rate from a lobbyist who was lobbying the epa. firing people who were pushing back on some of his policies. as kaitlin mentioned, some of the more bizarre things, sending staff on personal errands looking for certain kinds of lotion, trying to find a used
mattress that he could buy. trying to get a job for his wife. a chick filet franchise, $200,000 salaried job with the republican governor's association. i mean, the scandals, they just kept coming out, day after day after day. and has led to 14 different federal probes, jim. and you have to wonder, as those probes began to near the stage where the meat of those investigations were beginning to leak out, if some of this got to the white house, got back to them, what they were learning just last week on thursday and friday, congressional investigators, federal republicans heard from two of pruitt's top aides whose current chief of staff and former top adviser, and we know that they were in those interviews for entire days, you know, divulging information about the numerous questions that congress has about scott pruitt's behavior while in office.
so as those probes loom over his head, it is interesting that this is the timing that we are seeing that he is moving away, jim. and just a quick mention about the person who will take his place, andrew wheeler is absolutely respected within the agency, and thought to have the ability to carry out the same policies, but maybe without some of these scandals, jim. >> right. former coal lobbyist himself. thank you have much. drew griffin joins me now, as he's exposing one of the recent controversies for scott pruitt. they just called for the inspector general 0 to investigate whether pruitt had committed a federal crime by keeping that secret calendar, which drew your reporting that brought to the fore. tell us what you learned. >> reporter: yeah, epa inspector general acknowledged the receipt of that letter. ghani valve yating our reporting
was then backed up by "the new york times" which came out with a story very similar to ours just about an hour ago with a different staff person coming forward saying, yes, indeed there was a secret calendar. yes, indeed these federal registers may have been changed in violation of federal law. and so that may have finally been the tipping point. but as sara has gone through the litany of these investigations by cnn, by all kinds of news organizations, by members of congress, and the inspector general office them self, it was an overwhelming number of cases against scott pruitt building. but our reporting, jim, is that scott pruitt and his inner circle would decide what to publicly and not publicly release in terms of who he was meeting at epa, who he was traveling with, and meeting, when he was traveling, and those
decision wrs actually made to hide the fact he was meeting with business leaders, lobbyists, people who were seeking favors or favorable mentions from the epa. >> yeah, it's hard to call it anything else but blatant. thanks very much in your reporting. part of this i want to go to my panel, jeff zeleny, you have been covering this story. by resigning now, does scott pruitt get himself out of these federal probes of that behavior? >> that's an open question. i think it's a variety of federal probes as kaitlin and sara andrew were reporting. some of the inspector general office, some are office of special counsel, some are the house oversight committee. we'll see. i assume he does not get out of all of them. i am told one of the reasons he's resigning now the president had had enough of this. john kelly who is white house chief of staff who is still on
the plane with the president flying to mon tan a this is where he did this, he was very much involved in this. and the president has tolerated this because supporters of scott pruitt liked the policies. oil and gas lobbyists donors said never mind all this we like what he's doing. and he knew it would be hard to confirm somebody. john kelly was leading the charge this looks bad. the president finally agreed with that. so shockingly somehow scott pruitt on the south lawn last evening on the fourth of july picnic. i guess he knew it was his last invitation so he went. but i think john kelly played a big role in proffering this resignation, getting it to come out before he was fired. >> lots of free hot dogs there as well. a moment away from the panel. because my colleague has some new reporting on the federal probes that scott pruitt is facing. tell us what you are learning. >> reporter: so learning, jim, that at least some of these investigations, ones that are being conducted by the epa inspector general will continue, even though scott pruitt is no longer the administrator of the
epa. just got that from someone inside the office. congressional source has also told me he believes that the probes related -- being conducted by committees on the hill will also continue. now, that may not encompass all of them, but at least some of these investigations looking into the conduct will continue and we should see more on that front soon. >> understood. so rest egg nation not necessarily a free pass from this. coming back to the panel now. amanda carpenter seems the impetus conservatives lost patience. so are they cheering scott pruitt departure? >> here's what i think changed. we have to ask why president trump reached breaking point. and the reporting by collins, that offered to possibly step in as attorney general. why would he do that? why was president trump upset at
attorney general sessions? so was pruitt was trying to circumvent to blunt the investigation. that is what is different than all the other scandals. so moves from being about pruitt to president trump and possibly obstruction of justice. becomes interesting to robert mueller. i would assume he would want to know what conversations went on in the white house around that. so i believe just from watching thee events that may have been what changed the fate for scott pruitt. >> would the president have been upset about that implication? >> well, certainly that would be something interesting to robert mueller who made the offer? who invited him to the white house to talk about that? how far down the road did that go? it's certainly relevant. >> no question. listen, as you look here at what scott pru at this time brought to the president, he enacted his agenda with fever and success over the last year and a half, particularly taking on rolling back not just obama era, but
regulations dating some number of years on a whole host of things. >> that's what's so interesting about this. the president says now we'll focus on the agenda at epa. and i think that's good. i don't agree with the agenda. but we should focus on t the things mr. pruitt is accused of are egregious by washington's place, he stood out. like shah keel annea shaquille o'neil. there is a highly controversial insecticide that the obama administration was people to use less of because it causes brain damage in children. so epa stood that down. so we'll have more toxins. >> that's part of the thing for
child's brain development. >> everybody eats. everybody drinks. and everybody breathes. and that's what i wish folks would focus on more, these ethics problems are outrageous. i'm glad he's gone. but his successor, as you pointed out, a coal lobbyist, very controversial company coal energy. the policies may well get worse. if that's possible. for those of us who like to breathe that's going to be a problem. >> those issues that paul described, with scott pruitt the ethics violations as opposed to policies. do they have political backing? is that a driving issue for vote? are voters aware? does this upset me? maybe this is going too far? i do care about clean water and air? >> certainly emanates the left, animates the right in a very different way.
they hear increased and bad for the economy. that's why scott pruitt has been successful, some of the tipping points being laura ingram, conservative essentially saying he's the swamp and drain it. this has been issue on the left. habt necessarily been invigorating midterm election or campaign issue. maybe it will be chblt we'll see. but so many other things that the left is focused on in terms of this administration. but maybe with this new appointment, that it will change. >> we are going to take a moment from the panel because i want to bring in chris continue she is the mother days ago confronted scott pruitt in washington restaurant and urged him to resign, particularly over standing over climate change. if you could stand by, i want to play that moment to
remind our viewers. >> we deserve to have someone in the epa that protects our
environment and climate change to benefit all of us including our children. so i would urge you to resign before scandals push you out. >> she joins us now on the telephone. i would
like to ask you what your reaction is to scott pruitt's departure? >>ly. originally unrestrained glee, because that was what i wanted him to dochlt and followed immediately of course by the realization that trump now gets to appoints somebody else. and we see it's andrew wheeler coal lobbyist. so clearly the agenda is not going to be getting any better. hopefully andrew wheeler will be less effective at under mining all the environmental regulations that have been put in place years prior. administrations prior. maybe he'll be less corrupt. it would be hard to be more corrupt than scott pruitt. but i think what this shows us, this next appointment with
andrew wheeler is that the following midterms will be really important. that we won't get somebody to head the epa who believes in science and thinks it's matters. he'll help fix the environment and help us have clean air and water. and do anything but pat the backs of energy lobbyists. so please get to the polls everyone this fall. >> chris continue,kristen, i wa that moment with you holding your child, captures people's attention, because you were thinking about your child, as we all do. do you think that might have helped be a tipping point in his departure? >> you know, because it caught on so much, i think maybe it helped to bring a little bit of extra heat. i hope so. i do think that the great majority of the credit has to go to the quality of the reporting
beforehand and around the same time. you know, fact based reporting and good solid research that helped to out scott pruitt on the level of corruption that he reached. really helped bring the heat down. and more attention to donald trump as well. maybe my video helped to keep it in the news. i like to think that it did or helped it to put it in front of more eyes. and i hope that that does encourage other people to do the same thing. >> let me ask this. it was a chance encounter. i don't imagine you knew you would be in the same restaurant a couple of tables over has scott pruitt. >> no. >> what drove you to stand up? as you spoke there, you knew what you were talking about. you seemed prepared for that moment. what led you to go up and confront him? >> i mean, scott pruitt's name has been in our house hold, someone directly under mining my child's future, future of humanity, frankly, america, and
internationally. so him being right there, i was eager to talk to him. it was a little bit nerve-racking because that's not my mo going up to strangers in restaurants. but this is under mining my child's future, sacrificing clean air and water for his own self serving benefits. and i'll be darn i would have a talk with him. >> did you exchange words? >> no, that was the end of the encounter. i think his office put out a statement saying thank you. so maybe that happened after we stopped reporting and had the security guards behind us, it's not like we were going to linger. maybe he did and we missed it. in other words, good for you. thank you. my 2-year-old not really the issue. good riddance.
best you got is thank you is not good enough. >> kristen mink. that was quite a moment. thank you for joining us. >> thank you for having me. >> i want to go to mave weston, she is traveling where the president is about to join for campaign rally tonight. you've been speaking to conservatives there. the president supporters, republicans, what's their reaction to pruitt's departure? >> reporter: well, it's interesting, jim, because as this was unfolding i was talking to ha bunch of republican voters and they haven't been following the ins and outs of tall of these investigations same way that democrats have been. a number of them were surprised and said they had been supportive of pruitt mainly because he had done so much to unravel the obama regulatory agenda. so some surprise here. but also people just kind of thinking doesn't have a huge impact on their daily lives. president trump, of course, is coming out here to support the
republican who is running against john tester in the senate this year and is going to make the case that he's keeping his promises. and it's so interesting because when i was texting with republican strategist as it was happening, they were saying that pruitt had just become too much of a liability in some of these midterm races in the sense that he cut completely against that drain the swamp message that trump had in the campaign and will continue to have. there are people over here on this quadrant of the a preen a holding up the signs saying drain the swamp. and some straight gists thought it was too much all these story lines with pruitt were becoming a distraction. so they are relieved today that the president has made this decision. >> mave weston travel wg the president. appreciate it. coming ba can to the panel. the president not someone who likes to admit failure. >> right. >> he did saeptd taccept the resignation. what do we expect from the president now?
will he come up with alternative story line why this happened? >> quite possibly. we have seen him do it before and say he would do it. if something went wrong or mistake he wouldn't necessarily admit it was his mistake, he would make something up. so we'll see what he says tonight as the prewett thing was unfolding he would say pru sit a goodman and this is essentially a vicious attack from the media. so you wonder if he has that similar line tonight essentially go after the media. i'm sure he'll go after the media and possibly link it to pruitt's removal as well. >> and to be clear, kristen mink said this, he is gone because of good hard reporting. these things would not have come to life without reporters exposing this kinds of behavior, that kind of stuff still matters. i wonder on the bigger issue here though, paul, you've been around a long time, and anyone else who wants to pipe in, clearly the president has limits, right? pruitt went too far.
the child separation at the border, as much as the president was behind tough immigration policy and as much as his base identifies him, president saw that went too far. the idea all things are changed under trump, even he sees when things have gone too far. >> generally it's when he himself feels threatened. and it may be that he doesn't like the on particulars. i don't think that's ts case. because he's traded intensity, traded away breatheth. right. intensity is strong. breedth is very limited. so i don't think it's the controversy as amanda said a few minutes ago, it could be circling back to the mueller probe. anything that touches it gets subpenaed. i don't know this. i know it from experience. that if in fact there was some movement that could be part of a plot to shut down the mueller investigation, that's a very big deal. my prediction is based 0on what
she just said, he's going to praise pruitt. he couldn't say a good word about tillerson when he left. >> we all remember tom price who was first health and human services, ousted for what seems like small potatoes. >> he had a couple of plane rides and president did not like that t even now the president did not acknowledge. in the resignation letter we are still trying to gets a hold of, but i was just talking to someone who has seen it, there is no mention of the probes or anything in the letter. unrelenting attacks on him. so i expect the president to say that in this rally atmosphere this evening. they want to move beyond this. but the reality is confirming anyone in this environment i find this impossible to re believe.
that's why acting epa administrator. so the polecies will not change. so that's why scott pruitt was not worth the baggage or trouble to the white house. >> but what they want to rush through confirmation hearing considering how narrow the margin is, it seems they would want to get someone nominated quickly. >> supreme court first probably tan then epa. >> priorities. >> are these, do these have, the issue family separation at the border, scott pruitt, swampy of the swamp, lower laura ingram saying that. are these big enough to have affect? >> i think so. it's not necessarily that people
are focused on it, but closer the midterms come certainly these issues will be important. poll out recently immigration high on everybody's mind. obviously, it depends on where you sit, where you see this immigration issue, whether or not you think the president's toughness is what's called for or whether or not you think his administration has displayed incompetent in humanity the way they have dealt with children separated from their parents. so i think it will trickle down. the ones you want to look at are white women. >> they were big driving forces in specials. >> right. >> if you look at the roy moore. >> that's been the heart of the erosion. >> trump has 42, it's not a ton, but it's some. any politician would want to grow from 46 above 50.
and that's what they talked about in the suburbs, with women, and overwhelmingly women who have a college degree. issues of clean air, clean water are especially important to them. they don't want their children -- who goes to like their kids rugby game and the mom says i wish we had more neuro toxins. >> yeah, conservative voters, much more concerned about the kbhe. and i think this shows, if you are trump supporter, the president got rid of this. so things move so quickly now. it is july 5th. i'd be very surprised if scoot pruitt is going to be a factor in the midterms. but had he hung on, more than that, it was an unnecessary weight. why did it take so long? maybe what amanda was saying earlier. >> part of the calculation from the president. we'll take a quick panel away who has more information about andrew wheeler who is senate confirmed deputy who will now take over scott pruitt spot as
epa leader. what are you learning? >> why environmental groups fear him more than pruitt if the aim is not to get the roll backs, wheeler is again product of capitol hill. he worked for senator inhofe in the senate. we were talking about the fact that he was previously a lobbyist for a major coal company. but we have been talking about a story for a while. what environmentalistsenvironme epe will work under his guidelines without any of the headlines and screaming stories about scott pruitt and much more quietly this agenda to roll back regulations will continue somewhat unabated. so there is fear that andrew
wheeler now, i guess, acting as acting deputy, acting administrator could be potentially even worse from the perspective of environmental groups, because he knows how the game is played and knows how to not get in trouble in washington d.c. >> that's right. if you get the policy without the drama, that's a win for the president. >> absolutely. i'm trying to forecast any problems ahead, and only thing i can talk about is trump tried to coal subsidy to prop up manufacturing among his base states, pennsylvania, ohio, that independent coup of thing, and that would cause heartburn among many republicans. so i would be curious where wheeler would be. >> i thought they didn't pick winners and losers. >> yeah. there is a split on republicans on that issue. and i would expect that to come up. and i would be hearing mr. wheeler's answer on that. >> no question. >> if there is a hearing, there
will be one day for epa administrator, you watch our president he is great at this talks about job killing regulations, and most americans say good foint. we need fewer job killing regulations. if the democrats can say do you think we need more neuro toxins on our food? do you think we need more led in our water? do you think we need more pollution in our air? if you go to a specific regulation, the same american i don't want to kill jobs, would say i don't want my kids poisoned. that's a huge opportunity for democrats to put pro human environmental issues on the agenda instead of this vague indictment of regulations per se. >> but is there a democratic agenda? have you seen that listed? there has been a lot of talk about it but haven't seen it. >> i have three words s vote them out. that's all the democrats have to say in 2018. >> that might be. jeff, as you are watching this, and the president's kind of state of mind, you know,
following, the family separation thing clearly is not going away. president thought he could run away with the executive pen and we just add we were reporting a short time ago the number of kids are still around 3,000 still separated from their parents. this is a big year. four months away from a midterm election. does this president think he's got a handle on this? does he believe that they have a good shot to retain the house coming up? the president's mood is brighter than it's been in several months. this is the reason why. i've been traveling around the country for rallies last several weeks, to fargo to mon tan a, it is like fueling up his gas tank. takes him back to special place in his heart and mind from the presidential campaign, it is why they are doing it, to gets him out of this isolation box of washington. it is something that richard nixon never had. he was isolated. president trump not isolated at all. he believes he is in this place where people are agreeing with
him. of course, he's preaching to the choir. but i think his mood is quite bright. look what he'll be doing on monday evening, 9:00 he'll be announcing the second supreme court justice of his first term. most presidents don't get this. that is a chance to fire up conservatives. in terms of as he feels about republicans holding control of the house and senate, it's a complicated fight for the house, no question. but they feel much better about it now than they did awhile ago. this pruitt stuff, it animates the people top the left. i'm not sure it does much on the right. >> we'll go briefly to sara she has no reporting on when exactly this decision was made to let scott pruitt go. sara, what are you learning? >> reporter: yeah, one of my colleagues was able to speak to folks inside of the epa who said they were preparing for meetings with scott pruitt this week as if he would still be there. this came as a surprise to them. they did not know he would be resigning today. another person telling her that
agency staff all the way down to outside of headquarters even were surprised at his sudden resignation. saying most of them found out through social media or friends. you would guess from that trump tweet. and this person says that they didn't receive any internal correspondence or email resignation or note of any kind from scott pruitt announcing his departure. >> sara, thanks very much. does that indicate to you that the president made this decision? >> yeah. what everybody was waiting for. the president was on an island in terms of still backing pruitt in many ways. when would he reach the tipping point and change his mind? pruitt had served at the pleasure of this president. president finally said enough is enough. and for months pruitt seemed to be upbeat. seemed to not really feel like he had to modify his behavior at all. he seemed to get more creative in terms of the things he would do to sort of display his
swampness. mattresses. of course he wanted to get his wife a franchise at chick-fil-a. i think this is one of the strong suits being swampy. >> maybe it's a beltway thought, nothing matters. these rules have been feathered away. but you mentioned tom price. here we have scott pruitt. people still pay a price for breaking the rules. >> they do. and more and more i've been out seeing democrats challengers running for the house. first off, the candidates tend to be just proportionately women and veterans and people of color. sometimes all three, women veterans of color. they are speaking with greater credibility because they come from outside washington and so many come from the military on these ethics issues. not central, but this culture of corruption they are running as
washington outsiders, running against trump's washington now, not the old washington. so this cob i think the beginning of ta reform movement that, if democrats are smart, and i think they are, they'll seize. >> i think trump is always hero of his own story. never hesitates to throw a staff member under the bus. so he could easily turn this in front of a crowd and say it got to be too much. i told him i had to get rid of him. and i think a lot of conservatives would be happy to hear him say that. drain the swamp. get rid of him. and i think trump with spin this easily. if you want to come to washington and do this on my watch, you are out of there. >> just to remind folks there has been back and forth in the white house. here is a list of recent depart tours. priebus, price, tillerson, scott pruitt now. and these are just the cabinet
depart tours. you have a host of others. jeff zeleny, you covered white house. this administration has had more than usual. >> no question about it. the amount of staff shake yums. we've lost track of how many people at variety of different levels. this isn't over. we expect more turn over this summer. and some are resigning because working in this white house, it is an exhib exhausting enterpri. there may be other people. >> staff communications director still unfilled. >> we talked about that. i don't think a single person in america who cares about that. the reality is the president operates in different variety than any other president. he sets the tone and agenda every morning with this. so there is not really a need
for long range planning because he's doing it every day. >> i think that's true on communications. but would we are seeing on other policy issues having a functioning staff and process matters. if you look at the implementation of this family separation border at the border. clearly no plan to roll it back, right. that's why you still have 3,000 kids without their parents. >> exactly. >> and you are right, you would think that -- you are right. it's governing matters and this administration in this instance has proved they are not very good at t but also see people in the white house, ivanka trump now it's time to turn to reuniting these families. i don't know if that's something she is working on. but in previous administrations when something like this happens, you typically see the appointment of a czar or something like that or some sort of rapid response team and that hasn't happened here. >> there is a reason why government and crisis matters.
some point in this presidency most of the drama is of the president or staff's own making. we do not know how he's going to react to something externally. and we are just getting a copy now of the letter of the resignation. and i was hearing earlier there is not a mention in here about these ethics scandals and improprieties here. it's all about serving you the president and talking about god's providence, et cetera here, so trying to gloss over the matter at hand. >> he talks to the president as if the president is god. i say this as a person of faith, it's shocking. second centers of the letter says truly your confidence in here has blessed me personally and allowed me to advance your agenda. wow. wow. that's brown nosing whole new level. talking about the president blessing you. most of us have faith, and i'm sure mr. pruitt does, bosses support us, butt president blessing him.
am i over reading this? >> it's brown nosing. >> we have another excerpt here. it is extremely difficult for me to seize serving ncease serving. but also because of the transformative work that is occurring. however, the unrelenting attacks on me personally, and my family are unprecedented and taken a sizable toll on all of us. not exactly taking responsibility that led to 14 federal probes. of course unrelenting attacks. >> of course taking the martyr role. that's crazy. we know why he got forced out. although lingering concern there have been death threats against him like many administrators. but for some reason since he got into that position he seemed to take it on a whole new level.
upping security. really intense security measures. so i do think there is a story there. but how much of it was real or imagined is an open question, for me at least. >> there were some substantive things. one reason he argued that he needed to be in first class at the front of the plane because he could have better security. but didn't he also ask his detail to turn on the lights as they were driving downtown. >> going through a dinner reservation one mile from the white house. >> what does the security claim for that? >> not much there. but this does give you blueprint what president trump will probably say to this guy somebody who was attacked by the media, good guy, did good work for the movement and folks in the audience. also clear that it seems like he thinks he has some sort of future in oklahoma, political future, running for senate, or governor, something like that. and the president is in some ways helping him if he has any
credibility with voters in oklahoma. he was of course the attorney general there. so we'll see. >> i guess all the vetting is out of the way. so old story. >> you know how many counties in oklahoma president trump carried? all of them. >> every single one of them. that's why pruitt signs off the letter your faithful friend who would maybe want to run in oklahoma. >> everything going on in oklahoma with legalization of marijuana and school reform. but we'll see what he does. >> a lot more to break down. we'll take a quick break. following the breaking news. scott pruitt epa admin strayor has resigned. some of the investigations will continue. we'll keep following it. stay with us. watch me. ( ♪ ) mike: i've tried lots of things for my joint pain. now? watch me. ( ♪ ) joni: think i'd give up showing these guys
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while in office. just a short time ago senator burn nissan ders tweeted the most, scott pruitt was the worst epa administrator, not only has he acted time and time again in unethical manner but led the agency in exactly the wrong direction. joining me on the phone is senator sanders himself. senator sanders, thank you so much for taking the time. your reaction to pruitt's departure? >> well, you read it. i think this guy has done in callable harm to environmental protection in this country. and he has also ethically challenged. but the major concern that i have is that at a time when climate change is the great environmental crisis facing this planet, and just this week we have seen reports of community fall over america in the world, seeing the highest temperatures they've seen. we have an epa director who doesn't believe in climate
change, let alone propose ideas to address the crisis. in my view pruitt has been nothing more than an agent for the fossil fuel industry. much more concerned about their profits than the needs of the american people. so i'm delighted that he's gone. and what we have got to do now is to see if we can get a handful of republican senators to understand the climate change is real, that environmental protection is enormously important for this country, and get them on board to demand trump a point an epa administrator to represents the american people and not just the fossil fuel industry. >> senator sanders, president trump has said that the acting deputy pruitt deputy will take over. he is andrew wheeler. he himself was a long time coal lobbyist. worked for senator inhofe as i know you know is a climate
change denier himself. do you see any hope there? >> no. the american people are clear. they understand that climate change is it rereal. they want a planet habitable for our children and grandchildren. and you don't need representatives of the fossil fuel to be making policy. we need people making policy who understand that environmental protection is enormously important for the future of this country. >> how do democrats block him, assuming he goes on for full confirmation? you need, as you said, you would need republican votes to do so. >> well, i think i would draw, look, not every republican agrees with trump or pruitt, that climate change is a hoax. there are many republicans understand it's real and serious issue. and we need three or four of
them to join us in saying that we need an epa administrator, i know this is a radical idea, who actually believes in environmental protection rather than just the profits of the oil industry. that's what we need to do. and we have to put pressure on our republican colleagues to get them on board. >> it is both, as you say, chiemt change but also the regulation issue. and pruitt has rolled back a whole host of issues. i'm curious, why haven't democrats been able to make that campaign issue, repeal to voters in hawaii that focuses on environmental regulations? >> well, as opposed to what else? as opposed to trying to trump trying to throw 32 million people off of health insurance as opposed to his racism? as opposed to his policies of
separating tiny children from their mothers? as opposed to trying to destroy long-term alliances we have with allies all over the world? the problem is there are so many things that trump is doing that environmental issues became one of many. but i do recall with paul, this is a major issue. you look at the future of this planet, if we don't get our act together and move to energy efficiency and move to sustainable energy, i worry very much about the kind of planet we are leaving future generations. so this is issue of enormous consequence. except when you deal with trump, we are dealing with many, many issues of enormous consequence. >> senator bernie sanders thaungs so much for taking the time. >> thank you. >> we have more breaking news. we'll talk about the young children still separated at the border. they number still to this day in the thousands.
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. let me tell you what you are watching there. just minutes ago cnn witnessed as a child was reunited with her mother. they had been separated for two months. that child just eight years old. the family from guatemala a tearful reunion in boston. just incredible to watch. this comes as we learn today just hum children remain separated from their parents after being separated at the border. you may remember that last week hhs said children like this one you are seeing here numbered about 2,000. we learned today that that number is still around 3,000. but no exact figures. we have sunlen following this story. you were on the call today with
alex czar. what did you learn? >> reporter: it's interesting, jim. the hhs secretary today did give some numbers. but they are not a full accounting of what actually is going on at the border. today hhs gave us some new information. they said currently there are now under 3,000 children in total who are still in custody who may have been separated from their parents. and that includes 100 children under the age of five. both those are new numbers that we received for the first time today. but what's notable here is this is not ha precise tally. hhs today would not give us an exact figures. when reporters tried to pin them dounl, here down, here's hhs secretary on that call earlier today. >> i want to be clear, it is under 3,000. i want to give you an outer bound, under 3,000, and that is the maximum set. it will not be 3,000. it will not be close to 3,000.
it will be under 3,000. >> now the reason these numbers are important is the last figure that we had was last tuesday. that's 9 days ago. then said 2,047 still in custody. so this newest mate is much higher. hhs secretary today says that is because the court ordered required officials to go back further in time to comb through thousands of cases to finds any separated children. not just to focus on the administration's zero tolerance policy. so this number here includes children who were separated before that policy that again started in may. and again this, jim, just highlights these numbers are still very incomplete. that we still don't yet have the full scope of what progress is being made, if any, at reuniting these kids with their parents. >> if you don't know the number,
you can't begin to curtail this. let's go to miguel on the border. give us reality check what you are seeing down there? are you seeing any reunification happening? are you seeing evidence of a plan to do so? >> reporter: we are not. but the government says that there is great pressure operates trump administration right now to do something. hearing that video, i'm not seeing it yet, but of that guatemala mother reunited with her son, that is what is pushing them. to be perfectly clear that woman and her son were reunited not by the trump administration trying to bring families together but by a judge. represented by the aclu. they forced a judge to let her out. she then had to go find her own kid. go through a process of verification. and then go to boston. and that stt result that you see there. that's what has activists and lawyers so frustrated and upset about this process. that's what has physicians
across the u.s. decrying what the trump administration is doing in separating these paren parents. what we do see on the ground is a crack in the glass. a tip of the iceberg perhaps. several parents have now been granted bond. and that is the first step toward what that woman is experiencing. once they can make bond, 1,500, maybe $2500. a ton of money to them. then they can get out. get verified through hhs. then they have to travel to wherever their kid is. that seems to be starting at the same time the trump administration is saying those that can't get bond they'll obtain them together until they get asylum cases settled. jim. >> back at the border. back to the panel now. miguel makes a good point. that reunification there we saw there is it because of outsiders. not only does the administration not have a plan, jeff zel any, but not strg a plan was part of the plan, by the fact they had no intention of doing so. >> the deadline here by that
judge is july 26th, about three weeks or so to have these families reunified. doesn't look like much progress. i'm at the white house every day. i do not sense this is a top priority in the west wing. do you not hear the white house talking about this you do not here a lot of briefings. it has taken all week to even find out there are still around 3,000 if it's under or over. have i to wonder if it was closer to 2,000 wouldn't they say 2,000. they said 3,000 for a reason today i would assume. so i do not get the sense this is a priority there, at least among the president's top adviser. >> they discovered there were more children separated although some of them predating zero tolerance policy. so without a plan, this is going to stretch out sometime? >> it's going to take many, many months. >> for this president and americans? >> no, it's terrible. one way out president has to fix this problem. but one way to show compassion,
i'm going to be tough in these countries where people are fleeing for their lives. they started lay the leg work, but i think trump needs to do that directly. people are many coulding here, our country did wrong by them. they have to fix that, but then they also have to stop the problem. and i bloo eve that includes putting massive amounts of pressure on the countries to stop making life living held. >> what do they have to do? >> this whole policy is about maximizing pain, zero tolerance is deterrent. >> it's been described by john kelly and others? >> the policy of pain is continuing. >>en a trump has talked about pulling aide from some of these countries. not helping these countries. let's face it, ta lot of the crisis that some of these communities are hearing is because americans have a drug problem t drug cartels overrunning some of these communities. >> there could be an issue they
could maximize. >> very complex issue. >> listen folks we had lots to talk about this hour. thanks for joining me. that's it for the lead today. i'm jim sciutto for the lead today. i turn you over to jim acosta sitting in for wolf today right next door in the "the situation room." happening now, breaking news, epa climate changed. scott pruitt resigns as head of the environmental protection agency as ethics scandals swirl around him. under counted, health and human services secretary raises the estimate number of migrant children separated from their families from about 2,000 to under 3,000. >> get off my lawn. president trump tweets undocumented immigrants should be treated like trespassers and turned back at the border. >> and rescue delayed, a medical assessment reveals soccer team