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Federal Government Says Not Legally Responsible For 1500 Immigrant Children; Storm Alberto Nearing Florida; Massive Flooding in Maryland; RFK Jr. Believes Sirhan Did Not Kill Father; Migrant Scales Building in France Saves Child. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired May 28, 2018 - 15:30   ET


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: A stunning admission, the U.S. government says it's lost track of nearly 1500 immigrant children. These little boys and girls picked up at the border as unaccompanied minors were placed in home of what were believed to be vetted sponsors. But now the question is where are they? The federal government insists it's not legally responsible once children are out of their care. There are obviously a lot of questions and a lot of misinformation spurting around the story. For some fact checking, let's go to CNN White House reporter Sarah Westwood.

SARAH WESTWOOD, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Brooke, the Department Of Health And Human Services, recently admitted that its refugee resettlement office was unable to locate nearly 1500 kids placed by the agency with sponsors. Now often those sponsors were people with family ties to the kids but not always, like you mentioned HHS claims it no longer has legal responsibility for those kids once they're placed with sponsors.

Those 1475 kids are not people who were separated from parents at the border. That's an important point of clarification. Instead, these kids whose whereabouts are unknown came to the border as unaccompanied minors and taken into U.S. custody, any family they had in the U.S. was tracked down, and they were placed with those sponsors.

BALDWIN: You make an important point on the differentiation of the stories. The outrage of these kids started to grow after all the reporting that kids are being separated from families at the border. While that may not be the case of these missing kids, you have heard of cases of that?

WESTWOOD: That's right. The Trump administration is threatening to separate more parents and kids at the border by referring 100 percent of illegal border crossings to the Justice Department. And any adults who are prosecuted could be sentenced separate, detention facilities and their children taken away. The policy shift already drawing a little challenge from the American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU noting in court, you have little kids being separated 18 months old.

They're screaming and crying, please don't let me be taken away. There are 700 little kids sitting there by themselves without their parents, they are traumatized. Senior administration officials are claiming that the policy change is meant as a deterrent to prospective undocumented immigrants. Take a listen to what attorney Jeff Sessions had to say about it.


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE UNITED STATES: If you're smuggling a child, then we're going to prosecute you. And that child will be separated in you probably as required by law. If you don't want your child to be separated, don't bring them across the border illegally.


WESTWOOD: White House chief of staff John Kelly has criticism of those policy shifts, saying in a recent interview to NPR, the children will be taken care of put into foster care or whatever.

BALDWIN: Over the weekend, we know blamed this separation on a law passed by Democrats. What's the truth?

WESTWOOD: The truth is a little more complicated than that. Trump tweeting over the weekend puts pressure on Democrats to end the horrible law that separates children from their parents once they cross the border and into the U.S. the reality is quite different. This is the administration's own policy and his own senior officials are characterizing this as intentional effort to discourage future illegal immigration. And in previous administrations families who were caught at the border were held in family detention centers. The units were not split up. So, this is a clear shift being dictated by the Trump administration exclusively.

BALDWIN: And though the notion of losing kids, I know that goes back several administrations here as well. It's a problem, Sarah Westwood, thank you very much on the fact check. Right now, the first named storm of the season, Alberto is tracking off the Florida Gulf Coast, we'll take you there live to see who's in the path. A Maryland man is missing after he tried to save his neighbor's pet from the devastating floods in Ellicott city, a friend of Edison Herman joins me live to explain what happened.


BALDWIN: Right about now, tropical storm Alberto is ready to hit along the Florida Panhandle, the storm has put a lot of the southeast under a tropical storm warning. Let's go to CNN meteorologist, Jennifer Grey on the ground in Pensacola Beach, Florida. What are you expecting, just a lot of rain? Not too much more?

JENNIFER GREY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Right. Basically, rain is going to be the biggest threat with this storm. Hurricane season hasn't even started. It doesn't begin until Friday. We already have our first named system, should be making landfall within the next hour or two and rain is the biggest threat. Tons of people go to beaches on Memorial Day.

[15:40:00] You can see pretty much deserted behind me. Not many people have been out at all. Off and on rain throughout the day. The panhandle stretching down to South Florida. The storm is not compact. It is very messy, and so the impacts and the affects are far reaching. We're seeing rain from South Carolina, Tennessee all the way down to South Florida. The panhandle included in that.

It has been a messy weekend. We're going to look for the possibility of flooding, where we could see anywhere from 6 to 10 inches of rain across places like southern Alabama. That will stretch out to possibly 2 to 4 inches around the rest of Alabama, Tennessee and the Florida Panhandle. People have been staying home and taking it easy for this Memorial Day. It could have been worse, we know no injuries, no damage so far. Hardly anyone has lost power.

BALDWIN: We'll take it.

Coming up next, at least one man is missing after these catastrophic floods Maryland. One of the missing man's friends joins us to discuss what happened. And Bobby Kennedy's son give some credence to this theory that there may have been a second shooter involved in the assassination of his father back in 1968. Why he's calling for a new investigation after meeting with the man convicted of killing his father.


BALDWIN: The cleanup is just beginning in Ellicott, Maryland. The water has collapsed buildings and trapped people within their homes. There is a frantic search for a military veteran, Sergeant Eddy Herman with the Maryland National Guard. Witnesses say Herman who was not on duty at the time, slipped into the floodwaters while trying to help a woman save her cat, he was then swept away, he also served more than 10 years in the Air Force.

So, I'm joined now by Joseph Lopez, Joe Lopez, a longtime friend of Eddy's, who served in the Air Force with him. Thank you so much for being with me. Hopefully we can help find your friend. You guys are in Ellicott City, you're at this restaurant, it's raining, the owner comes over and says, you have to move your car, then what happens?

JOSEPH LOPEZ, FRIEND OF EDDY HERMAN: Like I said, initially, were all having a good time, obviously it's raining, the owner comes by, and says, we need you to move your cars. So, we all go to the back patio of the parking lot. And people start running out and moving their cars, you could see the water running through the parking lot.

There's a manmade river behind the restaurant. And the water is running into that. So, 10 or 15 people ran across. My friend Eddy asked me if I thought I could do it, I told him, don't do that, forget it. About a half hour goes by, we were barricading the door. Trying to keep the water out.

So, we go outside and -- this is kind of hard for me, I'm sorry. A lady has a cat carrier, she wants to leave, she goes out and she tried to cross the river, basically, it's almost like -- at that point it's a river running into a river. My friend Eddy goes out there, he wants to help her, he grabs the cat carrier and we're all yelling at them to stop, come back. The current takes him, it runs him into the river and he floats away. The river is raging at this point in time. BALDWIN: You watch your friend float away as he runs into it to try

to help this woman. I know you guys were in the Air Force together, you've known him for 21 years. You have heard nothing from him, how hopeful are you?

LOPEZ: We're all keeping up hope, he has a lot of friends. An amazing guy. We're all waiting. They won't let us -- they won't let anyone go down there. It's closed to the public, it's tough to sit here and wait knowing you can't do anything about it.

BALDWIN: Can't even begin to imagine. Let's have you back on when you find your friend.

LOPEZ: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Let's return now to reporting from "The Washington Post." One of Bobby Kennedy's sons is questioning whether the man convicted of the 1968 killing is actually responsible.

[15:50:00] Robert F. Kennedy Junior tells "The Post" that he believes a second gunman, not Sirhan Sirhan, is the one who shot the fatal shots that killed his dad. Sirhan has spent the last 50 years behind bars for the assassination. RFK Junior tells "The Post" that he recently met with Sirhan in prison, quoting Kennedy here, "I went there because I was curious and disturbed by what I had seen in the evidence. I was disturbed that the wrong person might have been convicted of killing my father. My father was the chief law enforcement officer in this country. I think it would have disturbed him if somebody was put in jail for a crime they didn't commit."

I want to bring in CNN presidential historian Tim Naftali, and Tim, when you read all the details that are laid out in this "Washington Post" piece, the number of gunshots, the way Bobby Kennedy was facing in that Ambassador Hotel kitchen, well.

TIM NAFTALI, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Well, as an historian, I'm an open-minded skeptic. So, let's take these questions one by one. The first thing we have to take cognizance of is that many of these questions were raised in the early 1970s, and they led to a reexamination of the assassination in 1977. It was overseen or sponsored by the L.A. County.

That examination looked at the following issues. First of all, was Sirhan Sirhan standing in front of RFK? Because the bullets entered RFK from the back. It turns out, yes, he was standing in front but RFK -- a number of witnesses said that RFK turned.

Either turned to see Ethel or turn to talk to some of the kitchen workers.

Number two, the bullets, they recovered a number of bullets. The bullets were from Sirhan Sirhan's gun. There was a bullet recover from RFK's vertebrate. It was a 22 caliber gun. There was no one else around RFK with a .22 caliber gun except for Sirhan Sirhan, and from the markings on the bullet it was clear it was from Sirhan's gun. As for motive, Sirhan Sirhan wrote a notebook. It was acquired by the

prosecution, Sirhan Sirhan admitted it was his notebook, admitted writing the entries. The entries included entries such as I want to kill Robert Kennedy, on June 5th, why? It was the first anniversary of the 6-day war.

Sirhan Sirhan was self-radicalized and politicized by what happened in Palestine where he was born. You have motive. You have the fact that at least one of the bullets that hit Robert Kennedy came from his gun, and you have the fact that Robert Kennedy was probably turning around, explaining why he was hit in the back of the head. Now, why do people doubt this?

BALDWIN: Why would RFK Jr. sit with a man convicted of killing his father for hours --

NAFTALI: I don't know. I will say that Mr. Schrade who suffered through the tragedy, raised questions about this in the 1970s, and L.A. County, it was known as the Crantz investigation, CBS raised issues at the time. Six years ago, a new recording appeared that had been made by a Canadian journalist who just -- this journalist did not see the assassination, but he was walking behind the Kennedy group. He recorded sounds. I have not listened to the raw tape. It's what I've heard is very muddy, but some people say they can hear 13 shots.

BALDWIN: Instead of the eight originally recorded.

NAFTALI: Has the FBI done independence forensic analysis? I don't think so. There's folks since the '70s believing there's a second gunman. Why believe it? Go back to the '70s. It was a paranoid period in our history. We are now in the most paranoid period since the '70s. It was a period of movies like "The Parallax View", "The Conversation," why? Because we learned about CIA assassination attempts on Castro, we just went through Watergate.

We have been disappointed many lies that our government had told us during the Vietnam period. Understandably, Americans had a lot of skepticism about the government. That was the era when a lot of the conspiracy thinking about JFK took root, MLK, and sadly also about RFK. We are in a sense revisiting questions raised in the 70s.

My question is, is there any new real evidence that could undermine the official account? So far, I have not seen any, and I think folks should think this way. The official account, many times is right, but at this point, there's an overwhelming amount of evidence that Sirhan Sirhan was what we would call these days a self-radicalized individual. Keep an open mind. If something comes out to change it, we should be ready to absorb it. So far, at least, I have not seen it.

[15:55:00] BALDWIN: RFK assassination plays a huge, huge role, obviously, in our CNN original series, 1968, so we wanted to talk about this. What some view is new information, but your whole point, I hear you 100 percent loud and clear, that we saw how the case was tried, all the documentation several years ago, but, please, tune in, two new episodes airing back-to-back starting tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern here on CNN. Thank you.

NAFTALI: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Stunning video, this man scales the building to save a toddler dangling off a balcony. You have to hear this whole thing and we have to tell you what happened to the hero afterwards.


BALDWIN: This is the most insane amazing video all day long. Real life "Spiderman" in action. This guy jumps balcony to balcony to rescue a dangling toddler. The man is a 22-year-old migrant from the African nation of Mali. He makes this looks so easy, but there he goes. Spots this child, scales four floors in a matter of seconds. You hear the cheers from the crowd below. Clambers to grab the child, wait for it, and there you go.

Because of his heroic efforts, he's been granted French citizenship by President Macron. As for the child's father, he faces charges for abandoning parental responsibilities, he was out shopping at the time. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thank you for being with me in New York. We send it to Erica Hill in for Jake Tapper. "The Lead" starts right now.