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Kim Jong-un is President Trump's New Friend; Cohen Hires New People to Defend Him; Trump Allies Concerned Michael Cohen Could Flip; Undocumented Mother Says Child Was Taken From Her While She Was Breastfeeding; Parents And Lawyers Report Surge In Family Separation At Border. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 13, 2018 - 22:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[22:00:00] (JOINED IN PROGRESS)
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: That is our closing argument, thank you so much for being with us on Cuomo Prime Time. What do you say, let's get after it again tomorrow night. "CNN TONIGHT" with Don Lemon the man starts right now.
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Do you think, Chris, he actually wrote the word promulgated?
CUOMO: No. Don't be like that, it was in the tweet, it was used properly.
LEMON: Come on.
CUOMO: It's a big word, the biggest word I used in tweet is mayonnaise.
LEMON: I doubt that he wrote that tweet but I think you're right about the so-called fake news. Sitting here watching, you know this whole thing about Jim Acosta yelling questions, everyone's upset about it, or at least members of his administration. If you go back and look at it, I thought what he did was completely benign. Of course you should ask a murderous dictator.
CUOMO: That's the job.
LEMON: That's the job.
CUOMO: If what you want is a culture of obeys from the media you're going to be sour a lot of the time. But look, they're making decisions, look at the guy we had on at the top of the show, that's Trump's choice for senator from Virginia.
LEMON: I'm glad you brought him up. Do you think people understand -- do you think they know that they're bigots or they think that they're not? Because I don't think that guy realizes just how big a bigot he is.
CUOMO: I think they know 100 percent. I'll tell you why, I don't think its natural. You know, you and I grew up in places that were different but had a lot of similar ethic dynamics. And my feeling has always been sometimes hate comes out of ignorance, it's true.
But most of the time people know what they own in their heart, this guy knows what he got into. He knows what he's trying to distance himself from and that's why he wouldn't answer a single damn question about it and that spoke volume. That's why the president likes him. That I don't get, D. Lemon. That I don't get.
LEMON: And you know how -- and you know how I feel about you, so when he went after your dad I was not happy about that.
CUOMO: The cheap shot.
LEMON: Cheap shot.
CUOMO: He's lucky pup is not here. He would rearrange his face.
LEMON: And if he was in the same room with you I'm sure well, both of ou. Thank you, Chris. I'll see you tomorrow.
CUOMO: See you tomorrow.
LEMON: This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
We have breaking news for you. And it could be a legal headache for Donald Trump. Will his long-time personal attorney Michael Cohen cooperate with federal investigators? Is he going to cooperate with investigators? Well, we're going to have the latest on all of that for you.
But first, fresh after his summit with Kim Jong-un, President Trump is doing his own version of mission accomplished. Remember when Bush did that on an aircraft carrier who is on mission accomplished. Well, this president is claiming victory insisting there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea, and saying everyone can feel safer and sleep well.
All right, that satisfies it. And he says incredibly kind words for that country's murderous dictator and how he runs his autocratic hereditary backwards regime. Words you honestly have to hear to believe. Here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRET BAIER, FOX NEWS HOST: You know, you call people sometimes killers, you know, he is a killer, he's clearly executing people.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: He's a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, tough country, the tough people, and you take it over from your father, I don't care who you are, what you are, how much of an advantage you have, if you can do that at 27 years old, you have -- I mean that's one in 10,000 that could do that.
So he's a very smart guy, he's a great negotiator, but I think we understand each other. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: They understand each other? We're going to have a lot to say about that tonight so make sure you stay tuned. Yet, instead of being concerned about placing such blind faith in a murderer or whether he can or should trust the man who has regime reignited on every deal -- excuse me, reneged, I should say, on every deal his country has made with the United States, once again our leader is directing his ire at the news media of course, tweeting today as he does, as he returns to Washington about the so-called fake news.
The coverage of the summit calling the media, the country's biggest enemy. I don't want to put the tweet up because honestly it's getting old and it's boring. And he's just going back attack that he's used before, it's getting so ridiculously tiring, at -- you know, I don't know, if it wasn't this president, would we even cover this?
To point out what he's doing here, saying that the country's biggest enemy is the news media, why? The other presidents -- the other president that President Trump compares himself to all the time didn't like the press much either, but at least they had tough enough skin to take what this president frankly cannot, and that is fact. To take facts.
The fact is, we are doing our jobs. Our job is to report on his job, that's what we do. Our jobs are protected by the Constitution that he has sworn to protect. And apparently he doesn't like reporters asking questions such as, just what deal did you make with North Korea? Is that such a tough question? What deal did you make? That seems like an easy answer right there.
You're ending military exercises with South Korea a long time demand from Pyongyang, what did North Korea give you in return? That's a legitimate question as well. Reporters and the Pentagon and U.S. allies and the American public would like some answers. And Twitter insults aren't going to make us stop asking all the questions that we need to ask for you, the American people.
[22:04:56] Apparently, the president wants he needs praise in all circumstances, and in absolute terms just like what happens in the state-run media, in the country run by the dictator with whom he has his latest bromance.
No one can stop this president from gas-lighting the country, calling the press exercising the First Amendment the enemy. It might distract some people from the fact that he is heaping praise on Kim Jong-un. It might distract some people from the fact that he apparently doesn't consider Vladimir Putin an enemy either, from the fact that he continues to divide the nation with his actions on race, on immigration, which we will also talk about tonight on this program.
So, consider this, perhaps it's not those of us in the press that aren't on the side of the president, perhaps it's the facts that aren't on his side. Not perhaps, that's exactly what it is. He didn't like the facts. So, he calls us fake. But too bad we're going to keep doing it. So I want to bring in tonight with CNN Political Analyst, Carl
Bernstein, Political Analyst, April Ryan, White House Correspondent for American Urban Radio Network, and CNN Political Commentator, Matt Lewis. Good evening to all of you. What do you think?
CARL BERNSTEIN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, first of all, I think Donald Trump came back from Singapore expecting a ticker tape parade and wanting a ticker tape parade and when he didn't get it, and he should not have gotten it, he came not unexpectedly, after the press.
The conduct of the press whenever he raises it, it resounds with his base, he's the president of the base not the president of all America. But more importantly, who he is really angry at, if you talk to people around him, are the Republicans who we, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox put on the air after the summit who questioned his conduct at the summit, who were horrified these Republicans, at what he did in Canada.
LEMON: He can't be that naive that he expects a ticker tape parade, come on, Carl.
BERNSTEIN: Actually, I think he does expect -- he projects a kind of infallibility that he expects an awful lot of people to go along with. Yes. I think he expected to have great congratulations. Look, he ought to be congratulated for initiating this dialogue with this ruthless ruler, and if anything can come from it, great.
BERNSTEIN: But at the same time--
LEMON: Hold on hold --
BERNSTEIN: -- his conduct at the--
LEMON: I agree with you in the sense of if that something comes out of this. But every single president especially the president before this one who proposed speaking to Kim Jong-un was lambasted by Republicans and by--
BERNSTEIN: The issue here is not hypocrisy of the Republicans. The hypocrisy of the Republicans, particularly in regard to Iran and North Korea, it's on full display. And Trump's hypocrisy is on full display.
I think we fall for -- and the press too -- we take the bait sometimes too often.
BERNSTEIN: The real fake news, the real purveyor of fake news is the president of the United States. LEMON: He is the biggest purveyor.
BERNSTEIN: And meanwhile, he also is the product of the press, he loves the New York tabloids, which made his career. What he hates is truthful reporting about him. And at the same time, he knows that making our conduct the issue is working for him. And we need to pay attention and make our strategy to do more and more reporting.
BERNSTEIN: What he hates is what "The Washington Post," "New York Times," CNN, A.P., his friend Rupert Murdoch's "Wall Street Journal" have done in terms of reporting the truth--
LEMON: He hates the truth.
BERNSTEIN: -- about the Russian investigation.
LEMON: OK, I got to get the other guys in. He hates the truth, Matt. It's as simple as that.
MATT LEWIS, CNN COMMENTATOR: I don't know if he always hates the truth. Look, I think the couple of things are at play here, the thing that bothers -- I'll start with the thing that bothers me the most, which is to say, what kind of person praises a murderous dictator and this horrible regime and says great thing about them.
LEMON: The president of the United States is the kind of person who does it.
LEWIS: And said well, we kill people too, as he said about Putin, as he said about Kim. And then simultaneously says that the media are the greatest enemy. That's, you know, I mean, it's horrific. And someone could say, well, it's hyperbole, he's just saying that he's trying to get under our skin.
But words have consequences, especially if you're the president. I mean, ideas have consequences, words have consequences. There are people out there who are not as sophisticated, believe it or not, as Donald Trump is, who believe him, who believe what he says. So I think it's actually dangerous. And what he's doing is weakening the institutions that might hold him accountable--
LEMON: Well, Matt, let me ask you, because a lot of what he does is projection, he projects a lot. So is he actually saying that he's the enemy of the people?
LEWIS: I don't know about the -- we all try to put Donald Trump on the couch and psycho analyze him. I think--
(CROSSTALK) [22:10:01] LEMON: He does project a lot. What he says about other
people is usually true about himself. He always calls us the enemy of the people. I'm just wondering if he's the enemy of the people and that's pure simple psychology which is projection.
LEWIS: Well, the fake news thing he did turned around, I mean, you're right about that, Don. The fake news it started out -- it started out being these Macedonian teenagers and bots who were, you know, helping Donald Trump win and somehow he co-opted that term. So he has been known to do that.
LEMON: Yes. So, April, you know, President Trump said something similar last year when he said he respected Vladimir Putin. Then he said this. Watch.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Will I get along with him, I have no idea. Putin is a killer. We got a lot of killers, we got a lot of killers, what do you think our country is so innocent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. And those comments were unprecedented, right. Now, you know, we have the remarks about Kim Jong-un.
APRIL RYAN, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, well you know this president -- I guess I'm going to take a word from Sarah Palin, is mavericking. When it comes to foreign leaders, particularly those like Kim Jong-un who were once called part of the axis of evil.
When it comes to Vladimir Putin, what the president is doing is very dangerous particularly as you know, there have been reports out of the Justice Department, out of CIA, out of FBI, homeland security that has said that the Russians, under the watch of Vladimir Putin basically, you know, went into our election system and messed with our democracy. The pillar of our democracy, our elections process.
So the bottom line is this president wants people to look at him as a maverick, look at him as someone who's going to change the tide to clean the swamp. But he's dealing with people who are in the swamp. And when it comes to the media, I'm going to say this, Don, one way to unify people is to find the common enemy. And he is trying to make the press the enemy. No, he has made the press the enemy.
And it's a dangerous, dangerous, dangerous game. And there's going to be a loser at some point. Particularly at one of these rallies where he gems the crowd up and all he has to do is say get them, and they're ready. And that's the problem.
LEMON: Well, he has to -- I mean, we talk--
LEWIS: Don -- Don, that's just one of problems that bothers me. LEMON: Hold on, Matt. Matt I got to get to the break. Let me say this and I'll get you on the other side. He needs to have an enemy. He needs an enemy with Hillary Clinton, he need an enemy with Mueller, he needs -- he has to have a foil.
But the other thing I think that, listen, as I was talking to Chris and I've been saying this, I think there is constructive criticism of the media. I have advocated before we don't have to put every tweet on, everything that he tweets about, the things that of complete lies that he says, we do not have to put those sound bites on television, because we are feeding the public lies as well that's coming right at the president's mouth.
So, I mean, we could do ourselves some service by doing some introspective and by having some introspective thoughts about ourselves as well. So? We'll talk more on the other side. We'll be right back. We're going to talk more.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump heaping praise on North Korea's dictator, Kim Jong-un while bashing the news media as America's biggest enemy. Back with Carl Bernstein, April Ryan, and Matt Lewis. Matt, sorry I cut you off.
LEWIS: It's all right.
LEMON: You wanted to discuss this whole fake news the media thing?
LEWIS: Yes, I said two quick things, Don. First, what I would be saying, what would any center-right, you know, conservative person be saying if President Obama had done this. If he had basically, you know, met with the dictator, praised that dictator and attack the press, we would be -- it would be impeachment talk I think and it is, but there should be. The other thing that really bothers me about Donald Trump--
LEMON: You think there shall be impeachment talk?
LEWIS: Well, there's talk. But I think, you know, look -- I think that clearly, I don't know that Democrats want to talk about impeachment to be honest with you for political reasons but we are where we are.
But I also wanted to bring up the unconservative nature of what Donald Trump is doing. You know, there's this old of whim of Buckley quote where he say, you know, people who compare the KGB to the CIA, it's basically like saying that the person who pushes an old lady out of the way of a hurdling bus is the same as the guy who pushes an old lady in front of the hurdling bus, because either way, you're pushing old ladies around.
That's what Donald Trump is doing when he says, yes, Putin kills people but hey, America kills people too. That is an utter insult for America. You know, we do not do the things that Vladimir Putin and North Korea do. And to suggest that there's a moral equivalence is utterly unpatriotic and it's an attack -- it's an attack on this country. And I think every patriotic American but especially conservatives should be outraged by that.
LEMON: Yes. Also, it's the same thing though, if you look at what happens when you say fine people on both sides. Because if you look at -- I know people are--
LEMON: Yes, Charleston. But think about what you want about antifa, antifa literally means anti-fascism. They're fighting fascism. And when you say people who are fighting fascism are the same as neo-Nazis then it's exactly what you're saying, Matt. I mean, it's kind of ridiculous.
BERNSTEIN: You have to look at Donald Trump--
RYAN: We've lost our moral ground though.
BERNSTEIN: If I can suggest it--
BERNSTEIN: -- maybe we need to look at Donald Trump's conduct with Vladimir Putin, with Kim, with the press, his authoritarian impulses and pronouncements as a whole rather than pull them all apart. This is his method of governance.
BERNSTEIN: This is what he believes in, this is what he indeed goes to his base on and he's very successful at it.
LEMON: But Carl, here's the thing, for everyone who's freaked out about this and their concern and there, you know, my gosh, how are we going to do with it. The president has term limits, whether it's two more years or six years.
LEMON: It's going to be over.
BERNSTEIN: But what's really--
LEMON: And the press will still be here. BERNSTEIN: Yes. And look, I've been in the press for 57 years -- for
57 years now, but I think there's a big story that we need to look at. Yes, the Republican Party particularly on Capitol Hill has been craven in not challenging this president, has been cultus -- but the real underlying story is that this weekend, if you talk to Republicans on the Hill they are horrified at what he did in the negotiation with Kim--
LEMON: But they won't say it.
BERNSTEIN: -- and then there's a reason, let me finish, there's a reason they won't. They are craven. They are. But at the same time, they are horrified at what he is doing.
[22:19:59] And this is a new threshold, especially his heaping praise on Putin in Canada, saying Putin ought to be there, bashing our traditional alliances. The Republicans who have embraced the trade, who have embraced the alliance that has kept the free world alive that Ronald Reagan celebrated.
The Republicans in Washington in the last week, I can tell you there is a change in the way they are talking to each other.
LEMON: All right. We'll see. April, I don't know if you feel that.
RYAN: Don? Don?
LEMON: You that the damage is done and do you see a change in politics?
BERNSTEIN: They are craven.
RYAN: Don, the damage is done. I mean, and Carl is right. You know, Europe, where are we with Europe? Where are we with our friends to the north and friends to the south? We are now dealing with dictators and people who have been said to have changed our elections process or tried to infiltrate our elections process.
And this is just as basic and simple as you can get. If we are people who are in government, who have taken civics lessons, who understand civics in government and understand world history, you would get a knowledge of what has happened in the past.
And if you talk to people who still have their clearances, security clearances from other administrations who have dealt with North Korea, who dealt with Russia who dealt with Iran, maybe you would get a better understanding than this knee jerk, I feel thing that's going on, that's changing the dynamic of who we have been for these past hundreds of years.
And now we're going into a new situation that this is unchartered territory and it's going to be hard to reel back. I mean, what's happened in this year-and-a-half cannot be undone in a year-and-a- half. It's going to take a while. LEMON: But what they don't understand, Matt, and maybe -- I don't
know some of his supporters and him, what he doesn't understand is that what he's basically saying is that he wants to be unburdened by the Constitution and the free press but the free press is part of the Constitution which is exactly the definition of a dictator.
LEWIS: Right. So, look, I mean, I'll be the first to admit, I have a couple problems with the press. I think there's liberal bias in the press and has been. And a lot of conservatives have been complaining about that rightly for years. I think also--
RYAN: What about Fox News? There's a conservative bias, a right wing bias, what about Fox News? That's all that happened.
LEWIS: I'm a fan -- I'm a fan of CNN, let me just go on the record here and say I'm biased towards CNN.
RYAN: I'm glad--
LEWIS: I don't even mention your name.
LEMON: Smart move, my friend. Smart move. Don't bite the hand that feed you.
RYAN: CNN. Yes.
LEWIS: You know, I also think there's some salacious -- we're talking about the tweets, Don, and there's a salacious thing happening in the media, it is what it is.
And, but having said all of that, the press has a very important function, and that is to alert the American public and to hold powerful people accountable. And do you know the first thing -- let's talk about they're going to come in and take our guns. That's the second thing they are going to do. The first thing you do when you're a dictator when you're an authoritarian regime is take over the press, that's what Putin did.
LEMON: Yes. You just said what I said.
LEWIS: And so, yes, and so--
BERNSTEIN: You also got to look at the rule of law.
LEWIS: This is part of the American fabric.
LEMON: Quick, Carl because I got to get to the break.
BERNSTEIN: This is also about the rule of law. This is a president who flouts, has disdain, and the Mueller -- for the rule of law, the Mueller investigation has kept him continually enraged. He conflates the press with the Mueller investigation because he knows that both a free press and the Mueller investigation threaten his presidency, that's the bottom line.
LEMON: So he doesn't want to be burden. The rule of law--
LEWIS: I want to make up--
RYAN: And this about information to the public
LEMON: He doesn't want to be burdened with the Constitution, which means dictator.
RYAN: That's right.
LEWIS: I don't think Donald Trump is going to come in and seize -- and seize control.
RYAN: But if you mess with the press you are stopping information to the public.
LEWIS: But I do think he wants to diminish the press and undermine our legitimacy. But what I worry about is that what about the next guy or the next guy? I mean, he is opening doors and the giddy, you know--
LEMON: Well, look--
LEWIS: -- that could someday be problematic.
LEMON: I'm very good, I'm very good about--
BERNSTEIN: True reporting is going to prevail you.
LEMON: Yes. Thank you. Give me a high-five on that.
BERNSTEIN: That's what we really ought to be doing.
LEMON: Give me a high-five, Carl.
BERNSTEIN: That's our job.
LEMON: We'll be fine. BERNSTEIN: And the press is doing it really well and that's why we have an enraged president who keeps doing this and expects a ticker tape parade and wants us to endorse it.
LEMON: We're going to be fine. And I just got a feeling that we're going to be fine.
LEMON: I got to go, April. But we'll be fine, the president will be gone and we'll be back to normal. It's just -- just everyone be patient.
BERNSTEIN: We'll see.
LEMON: Yes. It may take--
RYAN: I don't know.
LEMON: It may take six years, it could take eight, but we'll be fine.
When we come back, Michael Cohen looking for a new legal team as federal prosecutors amp up the pressure on him and the president's allies are telling CNN this could be a problem for President Trump. Will Cohen turn on the president?
[22:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Breaking news now, Michael Cohen cutting ties with his legal team. The president's personal attorney ditching his current lawyers and shopping for new representation. Is he planning to flip and cooperate with federal investigators?
I want to bring in now CNN Legal Analyst, Jennifer Rodgers and Jack Quinn, the former White House counsel to Bill Clinton.
Good evening to both of you. So, it's been a lot of everyone is saying, this means he's going to flip, he's not happy. People change lawyers all the time, right? What do you think this means?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think it means really just that he is now facing down an indictment pretty soon and he wants to have representation with experience in the Southern District of New York, a New York lawyer who's fought these guys before. You know, this is a big battle for him. So I think it's just time for him to switch to a different kind of lawyer and probably doesn't mean much more than that.
LEMON: So, do you say that the Southern District of New York wants Cohen to cooperate, they are going to bring strong charges to apply maximum pressure. What kind of leverage do you think prosecutors have against Cohen? And I think that they would -- would they raid his home if they didn't have something serious?
RODGERS: Well, they have to have probable cause to do the search warrant in the first place. So assuming that they did collect some evidence when they went into home, and the phones, and office, and all of these places, they now have evidence for their indictments.
And we don't know exactly what those are. We know they were looking at the Stormy Daniels payment, the Karen McDougal payment. But also business issues related to his taxi license business. So it's still not entirely clear what it will be and what the charges will mean in terms of maximum that he's facing but I think we can expect them to bring everything they've got to exert the pressure.
[22:30:07] LEMON: So, Jack, listen. Staying in a hotel, he's been staying in a hotel in New York City, apparently three rooms. I mean, it's not cheap. Even the cheapest hotel in New York City is not cheap. He's paying lawyers. We know lawyers are not cheap.
He got these big, expensive lawyers. Sources are telling CNN that one big reason for the shake up is money, and he is running out of it. And he doesn't want to spend his entire savings on legal fees. If you're President Trump's legal team, what do you think about this move by Cohen?
JACK QUINN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL TO PRESIDENT CLINTON: Well, they have to be concerned. I mean, look, I totally agree with Jennifer that Cohen might be concerned about the suitability of his lawyers at this stage of the proceeding.
Having said that, I do think also that it's more than coincidental that he's coming to this time, and this reconsideration of his legal team when they get to the end of the process of reviewing all of these documents that were seized by the FBI.
And so, I think that Michael Cohen may be wondering whether it's time for him to try to, you know, play, let's make a deal here either with President Trump or with Special Counsel Mueller. And, you know, none of us knows which of those might be in his mind, but he's got to be thinking that.
I agree again with Jennifer, but, you know, he's -- he realizes that he's facing an indictment. He's probably wondering on the one hand whether President Trump will in fact grant shim a pardon, which I think by the way, Bob Mueller would view as an act of obstruction. And he's probably been warned of that. But he may also be, you know, trying to see whether the campaign will help relieve him of some of these expenses.
LEMON: Jennifer, Michael Cohen has talked a lot about how loyal he is to the President. Here's some of it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MICHAEL COHEN, DONALD TRUMP'S LAWYER: I will use my legal skills within which to protect Mr. Trump to the best of my ability. And I will do anything to protect Mr. Trump. I'm obviously very loyal, and very dedicated to Mr. Trump.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Tonight, Cohen's allies are telling CNN that they worry that the pressure that Cohen is facing from past to criminal charges could inspire him to turn on Trump. And this is a quote from a man who is close to Trump, he says Cohen is facing the end of a barrel, right? If he's thinking about flipping, is this a good time to do it? Is it right about now the time to do it?
RODGERS: It could be, but it's -- you know, there's no real rush for him.
LEMON: Sorry, go on.
RODGERS: You know, there is no real rush for him. I mean, he hasn't even been charged. Usually, you wouldn't know there was an investigation until you're charged, and then you kind of think about whether you want to go in.
You know, it's not like he was charged with five other people, and it's a race to the U.S. attorney's officer to be the first one in the door, right? So, he has time. He can take a look at what are the charges against him are, and then think about whether he can actually face that, and then make that decision. So there's no real rush for him now. I don't think he's like looking at it, like it's today or tomorrow type of decision.
LEMON: So, Jack, I know you want to weigh in on that part, but what do think -- in order to flip, you have to have something to flip on and -- or over. So, what would it mean for President Trump if his fixer, his personal attorney for more than a decade did cooperate with prosecutors?
QUINN: It's a big problem. It's a huge problem. Look, I mean, we know that...
LEMON: But aren't you assuming there's enough there, there for you say it's a big problem?
QUINN: Of course. We know that there was enough there, there for this matter to be referred by Rod Rosenstein to the Southern District. Bob Mueller clearly came across some information that gave rise to the concern that crimes had been committed, and Michael Cohen is right in the center of that.
That in turn was then sent to the Southern District. So, Michael Cohen probably knows the kind of crimes that he might be looking at. And, you know it wouldn't surprise me if the President has some inkling of what kind of crimes the Southern District might be hanging over Michael Cohen's head right now.
LEMON: All right. Jack, Jennifer, thank you, I appreciate the conversation. When we come back, a story that is making a lot of people questioning how this could be happening in America.
An undocumented mother says federal officials took away her baby while she was breast feeding at a detention center. We're going to speak with an attorney who has spoken with her. And our reporter will be live at the first look inside a shelter where children are being held. That's next.
[22:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: New details are emerging tonight in that heart breaking separation of a mother and her daughter as she was breastfeeding. It happened as the woman, an undocumented immigrant from Honduras was awaiting prosecution for entering the country illegally. CNN's Ed Lavandera is in Texas tonight. Ed.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Don. Well, that story that you're talking about is one of the dramatic stories we have heard here over the last few days in McAllen, Texas where we have been reporting on this for the policy of the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy.
And according to an attorney with the Texas civil rights activist who interviewed one of these detained mothers just a few days ago, this woman told the attorney -- that undocumented mother told the attorney that her young child was taken away from her as she was breast feeding that child inside a detention facility.
And then, when she resisted, she was then handcuffed, and the child was taken away. This coupled with other stories that we've heard from public defenders, and immigrant rights activists who say families feel like, in many cases, they have been duped, and told that their children were being taken away, so they can get cleaned up, only to find out that they were taken to different facilities.
We've heard a number of these stories. An official with Customs and Border Protection tells us this afternoon that none of these stories -- none of these stories are true, that they are unsubstantiated allegations at this point. But nonetheless, we've heard this from a number of attorneys and activists here throughout South Texas tonight, Don.
[22:40:03] LEMON: I understand, Ed, that you got a tour inside one of the shelters where the children are being held. We're looking at that video, it's up right now. Tell us about that. What's happening here?
LAVANDERA: One of my colleagues, Bob Ortega, who covers immigration issues for us quite a bit as well. And kind of fascinating, this is a rare look -- there one of -- well, more than 100 different facilities across the country in 17 states that are being used to house unaccompanied minors and children who in the last month have been removed from their families.
So, imagine this scene here, this is essentially an old Walmart, 250,000 square feet. It's essentially like a sanitized detention center. By all account, these young people, this particular facility that we -- our colleague toured tonight are housing just boys from the age of 10 to 17.
They have access obviously to food. The rooms are -- have 12-foot walls inside this facility, and there are four to five boys sleeping in each room. They have access to recreation field, playing soccer, there are football tables, pool tables, television to watch. They're also going to school about six hours a day. But there is a
surreal aspect to all of this, Don. We hear real quick, once you walk in, there are murals on the wall. The largest mural is of the CEO that runs this particular facility -- the company that runs this facility.
There are also murals of various presidents, President Obama, Kennedy, George Washington, but the first one you see is of Donald Trump with a quote underneath it that says, sometimes by losing a battle, you win the war. So, just an absolutely surreal scene really inside one of these facilities that we are able to get a look at tonight.
LEMON: Ed Lavandera in McAllen, Texas there. Thank you very much for that. I want to bring in now Natalia Cornelio, an Attorney and Director of the Criminal Justice Reform at the Texas Civil Rights Project. Natalia, I appreciate you joining us. You say...
NATALIA CORNELIO, ATTORNEY AND CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM DIRECTOR, TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT: Yes, sir.
LEMON: The story of one woman having her baby taken away from her while she is breast feeding, what can you tell us about that? Do you know how old the baby is, and where she is now?
CORNELIO: So, we don't know whether the baby has been reunited with her mother yet. Because one of the things that are happening with this policy is that there's no transparency from the government, or procedures, policies for us to properly track, and have information, not just us, but the parents, the courts, other lawyers involved in these peoples' cases.
The woman's story is one of several that we have heard of particularly egregious circumstances in which children have been separated from their parents. But, in the past two weeks, we've interviewed over 180 people who are parents that have had their children taken from them in just McAllen, Texas alone. And...
LEMON: You haven't seen any children reunited with their families as of yet, right?
CORNELIO: That's correct. We have information that a couple of parents have been reunited with their families. One of the problems that's happening here is that the time of the family separation, the parents and the children don't know if and when any reunion will happen. They don't know -- yes, if and when. And so, really, if you think about it, every single minute apart without that information especially is like torture for these parents.
LEMON: And you're worried that families will not be reunited, right? Is that possible?
CORNELIO: I think -- I am worried that families are not going to be reunited. We just aren't getting any information. The worst is for the parents who are in these situations that they don't know if and when they're going to be reunited with the children. We have two people -- this all started -- the Texas Civil Rights
Project filed a petition with the inner American Human Rights Commission. And we represented five people that we interviewed, and while they were in criminal court proceedings.
And we wanted to let the Human rights Commission know about the families' separation that was going on. We have -- that happened a few weeks ago, and we have some information that two of the parents may have been reunited with their children, though we haven't been able to confirm that yet.
But we also have information -- I'm sorry -- that two of the parents are in completely different locations while the children remain in Texas. So one parent is in Georgia, and the other is in Washington.
CORNELIO: And it's been two weeks since they were separated from their kids. Sorry.
LEMON: No, it's OK. Now, obviously, you know, you're concerned about the emotional trauma that's going to happen...
LEMON: ... the longer these kids are -- I think in the previous answer you said, away from their families. But you've been involved in many immigration cases, but you say this is inhumane, it's unsustainable. Have you ever experience anything like this before?
CORNELIO: I've never seen anything like this. I mean -- and the woman who is separated from her child breast feeding is one of the most egregious ones. There are unfortunately others. We spoke to a father who his son was separated from him, but his son suffers from brain damage.
[22:45:05] And so, he doesn't know what type of care his son is receiving even though his son is suffering from brain damage. And we know of a parent who separated from their child, this child is deaf in one ear, and he gets frequent nosebleeds.
So the lack of information about what type of treatment the children are receiving, it makes us wonder, the lack of information given to anybody is concerning. And makes us all wonder what's going on, what the appropriateness of this policy is.
LEMON: Natalia Cornelio, thank you. I appreciate your time.
LEMON: When we come back, this is what's happening at the border. Like it or not. But the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, so where do those values come in?
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) LEMON: The Trump administration has been separating parents from their children when they cross the border, including reports of separating a breast feeding mother and her baby.
I want to bring in now Jan Brewer, the former Governor of Arizona, and Leon Rodriguez, a former Director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services under President Obama. Good to have both of you on. This is a very important conversation. So, I wanted to be constructive here, good evening.
[22:50:02] Governor, do you support the policy of separating children from their parents at the border?
JAN BREWER (R), FORMER GOVERNOR, ARIZONA: Well, you know, Don, it's really a sad thing to hear, and read about, that going on in the United States of America. But I believe that everyone knows that America is a nation of laws, and we believe in the rule of law.
And certainly, people that are crossing the border, illegal aliens, they know what the consequences are. And for them to think that they should be treated differently because they have children with them, I think is inherently wrong. The bottom line is, is that this border issue, and children, and the DACA, and the DREAMers is a very sensitive issue. I mean it's -- it's...
LEMON: I think you're right. That's why I said it's an important conversation. And that's why I wanted to have a constructive one.
BREWER: It is. And we all care about the humanity. But ever since, you know, even way back...
LEMON: Quickly. My question is, do you support this policy?
BREWER: Do I support the rule of law? I do support the rule of law.
LEMON: Go on.
BREWER: And I think the policy has been set by the President and by Attorney General Jeff Sessions that is zero-tolerance. And we simply need to understand that there are consequences.
LEMON: So you support -- just to be clear, you support separating children from their parents, right?
BREWER: Well, I think if you go to jail, then you don't get to take your children with you.
LEMON: OK. All right. What do you think, Mr. Rodriguez?
LEON RODRIGUEZ, FORMER DIRECTOR OF U.S. CITIZENSHIP AND IMMIGRATION SERVICES: Well, I certainly support the rule of law, but within the idea of the rule of law, there's a lot of discretion. And what we have here is a humanitarian crisis in Central America, and that's what's driving people to come here. And so I don't support this policy because, one, it's inhumane, two, because it hasn't worked.
It's not going to work. We've had all kinds -- of really going back to when I was in the Obama administration we've had all kinds of escalations of enforcement, of rhetoric. There are short dips in migration across the southern border, and then it escalates again.
LEMON: So, how did you handle it under the Obama administration? Because what the Trump administration was saying splitting kids from their parents, to them, they said it's simple terms. So how did you handle it during the Obama administration?
RODRIGUEZ: Well, one thing we did that was fundamentally different was we weren't rushing every person we could to criminal prosecution. Instead, we allowed the immigration system to take its course. We didn't separate families.
We certainly did dedicate the resources we needed at the end of the day, 1 million people were deported just under Secretary Johnson's watch. But these were not the kinds of steps that we took in the Obama administration.
LEMON: So, give me some concrete -- because again, I want to come to some sort of consensus here. I agree with the Governor. This is a very important conversation. And I mean, listen, it's awful when you hear of kids being separated from their parents. I think anybody regardless of your left, right, central, or whatever your heart would go out to them. So then what is the solution here then? What is the solution? First, Mr. Rodriguez, and then the Governor.
RODRIGUEZ: Yes, again, I go back to the idea that there's a humanitarian crisis in Central America. And until we really make a firm commitment to work with those countries, to support them in combating gang violence, poverty, the kinds of things that are driving this migration, it's going to keep coming.
And we learned this lesson with Mexico. Lots and lots of folks who were coming from Mexico back around the late 1990s, early 2000s, a lot more than are coming now, by the way, many, many more people were coming.
And what changed was -- that the economy of Mexico changed, and the economy of the United States changed. There was certainly more enforcement capacity that was put into place. But at the end of the day, the thing that really changed migration patterns was really changing the posture of the country from which the people were coming.
LEMON: So you think -- so that you're saying that Mexico or whatever, whether it's Honduras, or whether it's Central American countries, those countries have to be more prosperous so that people don't want to leave them? Is that what you're saying? Because the United States do that. RODRIGUEZ: Well, I mean, I think the way we've done it, you know, helping law enforcement in those countries, foreign aid, working with those countries to reinforce the rule of law, to really work with them, to be their partner in combating the kinds of problems that are driving people to come here to the U.S.
LEMON: OK, Governor, so you get my point. I think that's a big ask for the United States to prop up economies. And, I mean, listen, we should be trying to do that, but that's a tall order. So what's the solution? What do you think the solution is?
BREWER: We've been facing this problem for probably 30 years or 40 years, a serious issue, and it has not been resolve.
[22:55:02] And we know under the Obama administration that he was very lax in the rule of law. He did nothing. President Reagan, you know, we gave amnesty to the people that were coming to our country with the idea that our borders would be secured. And from the very beginning of my interest in this subject, I kept saying we've got to get the border secured, and then we can deal with these other issues. But no one has taken a strong step...
LEMON: OK, I understand you guys are saying that a strong step -- let me get this out, Governor.
BREWER: Listen, Don.
LEMON: Look, I know you're saying the rule of law, and I understand that.
BREWER: You cannot ask the people...
LEMON: You keep saying the rule of law. I'm wondering what that means because you said the Obama administration was lax. The Obama administration also had a program that in practice separated families, and in some cases men would be sent back while wives and children were put in immigration detention centers.
It seems what's happening now is kind of an extension of what was happening under the Obama administration. So I keep asking what is the solution. You keep saying rule of law, and Mr. Rodriguez keeps saying, OK, we need to get back to humane treatment.
BREWER: I did not. I said that there is a rule of law -- I said there is a rule of law, and that we need to get our border secured. The bottom line is , is it seems that there are certain people, and especially, you know, a lawyer should believe in the rule of law which he says he does.
But then he wants us all to put on our rose-colored glasses, and say, oh, this is really sad, this is really bad. But where are the -- where is the responsibility of the people that are breaking the law? Where is their responsibility as parents? Why are they putting their child -- their children in harms way? I mean, it's not because we are inhumane. It's because we just can't.
In May, we had 50,000 illegal crossings into our state. In April -- not our state, in the country. And 50,000 more illegal immigrants coming in April. I mean, we can't continue to absorb the whole world.
Now, if they can find solutions in their own countries with out help, I'm all for it. But in the meantime, if they don't like the laws, they don't like the rules of what's taking place in America, well, then change them.
LEMON: What about people who are coming to escape just inhumane circumstances, torture, that sort of thing?
BREWER: Well, and of course -- and of course if they come through the port of entry, and they request asylum, and then they have to be able to substantiate why they want the asylum. You just don't come, and say you want asylum. And -- you know, and to put your children in that arena not knowing whether you're going to get it or not after days, and weeks of a journey is not good protective parents either.
LEMON: OK. I wish I had more time. We're going to have to continue this conversation. Thank you, Governor. Thank you Leon Rodriguez. I appreciate it.
BREWER: Thank you, Don.
LEMON: And we will continue our conversation. When we come back, Michael Cohen shopping for a new legal team, and the President's allies are worried this means he's going to flip on President Trump. Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti weighs in on this, and he is next.