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I.G. Report Shows FBI Flaws; Tough Immigration Policies Affects Families; Testy Exchange During White House Briefing Over Separating Families At Border; White House Announces Plans To Build Soft-Sided Structures For Immigrant Children Near U.S. Border. Aired 10-11p ET
Aired June 14, 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)
DON LEMON, CNN HOST: I don't know in the form of discrimination. They see in it what they want to see in it. It's not necessarily right, but they do it. This is, it's awful, but it's not something that's new, Chris.
CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: It is not new. What is new is this policy, OK? And it is harsh. And it's harsh because they're trying to send a message. Now, some will argue in benign fashion that message is done, don't come here illegally.
But that assumes people are in control of that. And sometimes you're fleeing for your life. We're still making a decision about how we enforce it. And that decision will inform people to what we are about as a people in America. They're going to have to own that, too. And that point I made to Joe Arpaio, you always demonize the little guy but not the big guy who's hiring them.
CUOMO: Where is that outrage on the part of people who want this problem to stop.
LEMON: That's a very good question. And we should be happy and grateful that we live in a country the greatest country on earth that people would want to come here and we have to figure out a way to make everyone who wants to come here they do it properly but they also have some sort of way to get there and once they get here, they are treated right and fairly.
CUOMO: Now, that gets a big amen.
LEMON: Amen. Amen. What would Jesus do? I thought that was the right sentiment. See you, Chris. Have a good one.
This is CNN TONIGHT. I'm Don Lemon.
The Justice Department inspector general releasing a bomb shell report on former FBI director James Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. The report concluding that Comey was, and this is a quote, "insubordinate." And that he failed to coordinate his actions with his bosses at the Justice Department. But it concludes this. That Comey was not motivated by political bias, not motivated by political bias. The White House pounced on that. Putting its own spin on this report.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE-SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: It reaffirmed the president's suspicions about Comey's conduct and the political bias among some of the members of the FBI.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: And so now we litigate the 2016 election all over again for the gazillion time. Republicans on Capitol Hill agreeing with the White House, insisting political motivation was a factor.
Democrats arguing that the report proves the point that they have been making all along, that Comey's public comments about the Clinton investigation before the election while not saying a word about the Russia investigation, helped Donald Trump win the race.
The president and his allies, they like to throw around the idea that a deep state is out to get him. But, in fact, the opposite may be true. The report criticizes a small group of FBI agents who exchange anti-Trump text messages calling those texts examples of, quote, "extremely poor judgment, and a gross lack of professionalism." They were.
And first, having been removed from the Russia investigation, now those employees may even face some serious, more serious consequences. The FBI director, Christopher Wray said the bureau is reviewing the conduct of those employees and hinted they might lose their jobs.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
CHRISTOPHER WRAY, DIRECTOR, FBI: We're going to adhere to the appropriate disciplinary process. And once that process is complete, we won't hesitate to hold people accountable for their actions.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So here's the irony. The actions of the so-called deep state, this unfounded conspiracy against the president that is touted by the White House in a number of different ways actually seems to have worked in favor of the president.
It is Hillary Clinton's e-mail investigation that was brought before the public in the weeks before the election and not the investigation into President Trump and Russia. Those are the facts. That's common sense. And common logic. But we'll discuss.
Let's get right to the report now, and its conclusions. I want to bring in now Chris Cillizza, CNN politics reporter and editor-at- large, also CNN Global Affairs Analyst, Max Boot, the author of "The Road Not Taken." Good evening, gentleman.
CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS REPORTER AND EDITOR-AT-LARGE: Hi, Don.
LEMON: So I laid out the facts there, you know, there's no political bias. These are the facts, this is what the report says. And so are we any closer, Max, into knowing how Comey's actions affected the 2016 election?
MAX BOOT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS ANALYST: I don't think we're ever going to really know that. I think certainly the evidence that we've had from pollsters is that Comey's actions did effect the election.
LEMON: And the FBI as well.
BOOT: Yes. Absolutely. They helped Hillary Clinton. That they may well have swung the election towards Hillary Clinton. But that runs directly counter to the Donald Trump deep state propaganda line which is that the FBI is out to get them.
And I think the headline from this I.G. report is the FBI was not politically biased. Their actions did not, were not taken for political reasons. But to the extent that they were improper, they were helping Hillary Clinton. Not -- they were not trying to hurt Donald Trump.
So I don't -- this is not going to stop Donald Trump, Fox News, Devin Nunes, the whole conspiracy caucus from claiming that this supports their crack pot theories about a deep state. But if you read the report, it does not support those claims.
LEMON: So before I get to you, I have to play this.
LEMON: Because where do we always two for sage advice and wisdom? It's Rudy Giuliani. He's at Fox News tonight and he's reacting to the I.G. report with a few striking demands. Pay close attention.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:05:07] RUDY GIULIANI, FORMER NEW YORK CITY MAYOR: Mueller should suspend his investigation, and he should go see Rod Rosenstein who created them and the deputy attorney general and Attorney General Sessions who should now step up big time to save his department, should suspend that investigation.
I believe that Rod Rosenstein and Jeff Sessions have a chance to redeem themselves. And that chance comes about tomorrow. It doesn't go beyond tomorrow. Tomorrow Mueller should be suspended. And honest people should be brought in. Impartial people to investigate people like Strzok. Strzok should be in jail by the end of next week.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, I mean, he's -- he's saying the investigation should end and Strzok should be in -- is he reading a different report?
CILLIZZA: Well, OK. Max mentioned this. Everything that -- everything that Giuliani is talking about, and I watched a little bit of that. Everything that Giuliani, live, everything that Giuliani he's talking about is hung on seven words from Peter Strzok in response to Lisa Page who they were -- Donald Trump makes a lot of this, they were in an extra marital relationship. That's a fact that exists I don't know how much it pertains to this.
But she texts him and says, and this is unprofessional. She texts him and says Donald Trump isn't going to win, is he? I'm paraphrasing. And he responds, no, no, we'll take care of it.
Now, that's not how any of us want the FBI to work. At the same time, we'll stop it.
CILLIZZA: There's nothing that was found in the I.G. report, 500 plus pages that suggest those seven words that Strzok typed out, biased the investigation in any meaningful way. Should he have been involved? Probably not, candidly, but it didn't make the broader investigation be thrown out.
The other thing about Giuliani's logic is the time line doesn't make sense. The Mueller -- Mueller was not named special counsel until 2017. It has nothing -- this is all just to remind people, this is all 2016 stuff we're talking about. Primarily summer and fall of 2016. July when Comey comes out, and then September, October, November.
Mueller is not even in the picture in any way, shape, or form until then.
LEMON: He's spinning on the fact in a way of conspiracy theory.
CILLIZZA: Yes. I mean, I just, I get it. It's rhetoric. I get it. It's being hung on those seven words. But I would urge people, the broad take away here is yes, some of these FBI agents acted improperly.
CILLIZZA: Comey broke protocol which by the way, Comey has admitted he broke protocol. But there is no evidence that this was motivated by political biases or goals. I just wish we could agree to agree and that's a fact.
LEMON: When I heard that I was watching when it came on. And I said we will stop it. I said that's pretty damning. That's awful.
LEMON: No one should say that. But also anyone who's been on texting, you know, there's no - there's usually no context in that, right. Because it says that, we'll stop it. And she says you think you're a big guy, you can stop it, you know you can't do that. You never know what the context is. On its face, it's terrible, and it should not be happening. And they probably should not have been communicating.
BOOT: But the reality is the FBI did not actually do anything to stop Donald Trump's election. And they could have done a lot because they -- as we now know they developed a lot of information about the context that the Russians were having with the Trump campaign. They had FISA warrants on Carter Page. They had -- they knew about George Papadopoulos.
So there was a lot of stuff. If they leaked it, it would have been horrendously damaging. And they didn't leak it. In fact, if they told the New York Times that were not developing evidence of this Trump- Russia alliance so that actually helped the Trump campaign.
LEMON: Yes. So this is -- this is including the I.G. report. This is an October 5th e-mail that Comey sent to CIA Chief John Brennan and the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper on publicly acknowledging the Russia investigation.
Here's what he writes. He says, "I think the window has closed on the opportunity for an official statement with four weeks until the presidential election. I think the marginal incremental disruption inoculation impact of the statement would be hugely outweighed by the damage to the intelligence community's reputation for independence. I could be wrong and frequently am, but America -- Americans already know the Russians are monkeying around on behalf of one candidate. Our confirming it, one, adds little to the public mix, two, begs different -- difficult questions about both how we know that -- know that and what we are going to do about it, and three, exposes us to serious accusations of launching our own October surprise. The last bit is utterly untrue, but a reality in our poisonous atmosphere."
What do you say to that?
BOOT: Well, I mean, what that goes to show is that they were actually trying to bend over backwards not to influence the outcome of the election.
LEMON: They treated two investigations differently.
BOOT: Well, they did, and I think the I.G. was absolutely right in saying that Comey made a very serious mistake in releasing that October 28th letter about the reopening of the Clinton investigation.
[22:10:00] But you know, it takes the kind of inventiveness and looseness with facts that a Rudy Giuliani or Donald Trump or Devin Nunes has to somehow transform that into evidence that the FBI was out to get Donald Trump when they helped to get him elected. I mean, this is crazy.
The only way that you will conclude that this supports the kind of Trump conspiracy theory is if you don't read a word of the report if you don't actually look at it what they say and just go by what Sean Hannity and kind of the propaganda crew on Fox News is saying.
LEMON: Yes. CILLIZZA: I mean, I think it's clear. I think a lot of people say well, you're defending James Comey. No. James Comey, I think was from that July decision to go out and have a press conference--
LEMON: I want to ask you though.
LEMON: What do you think of Hillary Clinton's response? Because I mean, you can't make this stuff up.
CILLIZZA: Yes, yes.
LEMON: Comey used his own personal G-mail account to conduct official business. Something that is against DOJ policy. Hillary Clinton tweeted this today, but my e-mails. She's not wrong.
CILLIZZA: The people -- OK.
LEMON: He didn't have a private server.
CILLIZZA: She is not -- she is not wrong, but James Comey was not running for president of the United States.
CILLIZZA: And Hillary Clinton was. Now, you can debate how important that should have been. But to me, what she is doing and she probably doesn't care. But what she is doing is adding fuel to the Donald Trump fire. It's 10, 11. You know, let's give it another -- I was going to say 12 hours, but no. Let's give it another six, seven, eight hours. He will tweet out the quote of we'll stop it. He will -- I would strongly suggest, make mention of her. She may not care.
But my point is, this does not have to be by definition, a partisan document.
CILLIZZA: The inspector general's job--
CILLIZZA: -- is to step away from all that. It's probably -- it is a partisan document whether she sends a tweet out about her e-mails or not. She is adding to it and helping Donald Trump make the case that see, and Rudy Giuliani, see all this is biased. That case isn't based on much of anything.
LEMON: I got to -- I got to run. We're going to talk more about the deep state D.
CILLIZZA: Put it in quotes.
LEMON: The conspiracy theory and how damaging this is for the FBI. We'll be right back.
[22:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: The Justice Department's internal watchdog report highly critical of former director James Comey's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails. So, what is his response?
I want to talk about this now with CNN political commentators Keith Boykin and Scott Jennings, and legal and national security analyst Asha Rangappa, a former FBI special agent.
Good evening to all of you. Asha, I'm going to start with you. Obviously the report was damming. Comey pushed back with an op-ed in the New York Times and I just want to read some of it.
He says, "With the added benefit of hindsight, the inspector normal sees some things differently. My team believed the damage of concealing the reopening of our investigation would have been catastrophic to the institution. The inspector general weighs it differently and that's OK, even though I respectfully disagree."
It doesn't sound like he did anything wrong.
ASHA RANGAPPA, CNN LEGAL AND NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, this is the reason that we have an inspector general, Don. The police can't police themselves, so in 1978 President Jimmy Carter established an inspector general for various agencies. And the inspector general does a fair and independent review. And I think that they did a very fair assessment here.
What they basically said about James Comey is, you know, you may have had very fair and legitimate reasons to do what you did, but frankly, it wasn't your call to make in the first place. You should not have departed from those departmental guidelines, and had you not departed from them you wouldn't have been in this quandary. And I think that that's the right call to make here. And he was appropriately called out for making that misstep.
But that wasn't also anything new. We've heard that criticism before from both sides of the aisle, and this was just a verification of, I think, the criticisms that people have had for a long time now.
LEMON: If you -- but if read his -- you know, if you read what he wrote in the New York Times, and I read all of it, I mean, it does sounds -- you can correct me if I'm wrong. I'm just asking that he was damned if he did, damned if he didn't. If he hadn't said anything about it, the report came out, they would say well, he influenced the election because he didn't talk about it, he didn't say it.
And then now they're saying well, he influenced it because he released it. So, I mean, what was he to do? And also, I mean, he is right. I think hindsight is always 20/20. Maybe he should not have done it, but I think he does have a point. Do you disagree with that, Scott?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I do disagree. I think that close to an election, when you have somebody who's part of the unelected bureaucracy of our federal government making decisions of that magnitude that close to an election, when we are as Americans electing the political layer of our democracy which is over the unelected bureaucracy, yes, I think it was improper--
LEMON: What do you think you would be saying now if Hillary Clinton -- if Hillary Clinton was president and then this report came out today and it showed that while there was an investigation that was reopened into Hillary Clinton's e-mails and they never talked about it, what do you think you would be saying today, Scott?
JENNINGS: Well, again, I'm somebody who thinks very carefully about the separation of the political layer of our government and the unelected layer of our government. And I think the political layer, the Democratic layer, where we put the people in charge of our government, our national government, I think that always have the sanctity of that, always has to take precedent so I might not like of course if Hillary Clinton were president--
LEMON: What do you think Republicans of Trump supporters would be saying today?
JENNINGS: I'm sure they would be mad about it. Look, that's the thing. There is a scenario here where no matter what happens, you're going to have the country mad about what went on here.
LEMON: You'd be honest.
JENNINGS: And I'm sympathetic to that, but gosh, Don, that close to an election? I mean, that's pretty tough stuff to get into that close to a Election Day.
LEMON: Listen, I see both sides of it. I'm just saying when I read this report I said, yes, I mean, I can understand why he thinks that way. But also, remember before the election, there were a lot of Democrats, a lot of Hillary supporters were really, really mad at him, and then today they're still mad at him, but you know, who knows what we would have done, any of us under such pressure.
So, Keith, let's talk about the Strzok-Lisa text messages. They're bad. There's no doubt about it. The I.G. says he didn't see bias make its way into the investigation. Our Phil Mudd was on with Anderson Cooper. He had this view on the texts. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:20:04] PHILIP MUDD, CNN COUNTERTERRORISM ANALYST: This is not about inappropriate text messages. A hundred fifty or 200 million Americans either hated Hillary Clinton or hated Donald Trump, and they talked about it over Thanksgiving dinner, over text messages at sporting events and while they're fishing for bass.
The mistake here was that two individuals used a government-provided phone to communicate this way. You think 35,000 FBI people don't have views on Trump or Clinton? I was there. We had views on that. You just wouldn't talk about it at work.
So let's be clear. You cannot anticipate that people involved in an investigation don't have a view. They need to separate it from work and they can never use a work computer or cell phone to talk about it. That's the problem here.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Keith, we know everyone has opinions. I think he said the problem is that they brought it into work. Do you agree with that? That the communications were basically brought into their workplace and they shouldn't have done that?
KEITH BOYKIN, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Absolutely. I mean, he's right, 35,000 people are on staff at the FBI. Two of them, Strzok and Page had an inappropriate text message exchange.
LEMON: But it wasn't as if he's an intern. I mean, they are high role--
BOYKIN: No. I'm not saying they were unimportant people.
BOYKIN: I'm just saying there's only two of them out of 35,000 people. But you can't use that to attack the entire institution and say the institution was biased against Donald Trump. In fact, we don't even need, we didn't need the 500-page I.G. report to know that Donald Trump was the beneficiary of James Comey's actions.
We didn't need the FBI I.G. report to also know that the report that was released a few days before the election had a detrimental impact on Hillary Clinton and the first announcement had a detrimental impact on Hillary Clinton.
So the whole notion that Trump has been putting out this idea that somehow this was all to his detriment, that Hillary Clinton was the beneficiary is just illogical on its face. There's no evidence to support that. And the FBI, DOJ I.G. report supports that conclusion.
LEMON: Asha, how are FBI--
JENNINGS: No there were some--
LEMON: Go ahead, Scott, then I'll ask Asha a question. Go on.
JENNINGS: Well, I was going to say you brought up the messages. I actually think there was a message in this I.G. report that goes beyond Strzok and Page that, I mean, it struck me as somebody who leaves out in red America, Middle America, this message where the FBI agent, the FBI employee said I'm going to read it, Trump voters are poor to middle class, uneducated, lazy pieces of sh-you know what. Not fully educated, stupidly wrapped up in his unmerited enthusiasm.
These people that work at the FBI need to understand they are commissioned to meet out justice for all Americans. And people are going to see that message. They are going to see the headlines to Washington Post and they are going to say well maybe Donald Trump is onto something if that's how the people that work at the FBI see people who live where I live.
JENNINGS: To me, this is a public relations nightmare.
JENNINGS: We, I mean, we talk a lot about equal justice on the show, and we should. And this is part of the problem.
BOYKIN: But Scott, we haven't seen the FBI members messages or staff members messages about what they thought about Hillary Clinton. Clearly that 35,000 staff people in the FBI or organization some people had similarly horrible ideas about Hillary Clinton but we haven't seen them.
LEMON: The point is -- the point is--
JENNINGS: Keith -- Keith, I'm not worried about -- I'm not worried their views of the candidates. I'm worried about their views of the Americans who supported Donald Trump.
LEMON: All right, Scott. Two things here.
LEMON: Two things here. Hold on. Asha, I want you to get in.
RANGAPPA: Don, yes.
LEMON: Number one, I think Donald Trump said similar things about his own supporters. We love the poorly -- I mean, you now, he didn't go on as long as that, but he said basically the same thing. That he loved the poorly educated.
I didn't find that to be a compliment. Maybe his supporters did. Maybe it depends whose mouth it comes out of. But I wonder, so here's my thing. What are FBI agents supposed to do? Everyone has an opinion. Everyone, you know, has some sort of political leaning for the most part. So, Asha, how do you handle that, how are they supposed to handle that?
RANGAPPA: So when you're in the FBI, when you work at the Department of Justice, you are expected to leave your political views at the door. And it should not affect the way that you conduct your investigations or the decisions that you make, and I think that's the bottom line here in the I.G. report that we have to remember.
These statements that Scott just mentioned reflect very poorly on the bureau as the inspector general report mentioned. I think that that was absolutely right. However, the ultimate conclusion was that none of these statements, none of even Comey's actions which they rebuked quite strongly were the conclusion was that these were not motivated by political bias, and that there was no political bias that affected the ultimate investigative decisions that were made in this investigation. And that is the bottom line.
The most important thing is the prosecutorial decision here, the decision to decline to prosecute Hillary Clinton was made based on the fact, the law and Department of Justice policy. And I think we need to make sure that we don't lose focus of that. This was an independent review, and that is the bottom line.
LEMON: I got to get to the break. Thank you. That's got to be the last word. I appreciate it. When we come back, a lot of tense moments at the White House briefing today. Like this one about separating families at the border.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[22:25:10] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are a parent. You're a parent of young children. Don't you have any empathy for what they go through?
SANDERS: Jim, go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: The reporter battling Sarah Sanders joins me next. And there is a lot more you have got to see.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So I hope you watched the White House briefing today. Got extra heated as reporters pressed the administration on its policy of separating undocumented parents and children crossing the border.
So let's discuss. CNN Political Analyst, Brian Karem, the executive editor at Sentinel newspapers joins me. Also April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, she's here. Ryan Lizza, chief political correspondent for Esquire magazine, also with us, as well.
It was testy. Today we'll does it. Ryan, I'm going to start with you. Hello to all of you. Jim Acosta today asked Sarah Sanders about Attorney General Jeff Sessions' claim that separating parents from children is rooted in the bible. Here's how she responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SANDERS: I can say that it is very biblical to enforce the law. That is actually repeated a number of times throughout the bible. However, this -- hold on, Jim. If you'll let me finish.
SANDERS: Again, I'm not going to comment on the attorney's specific comments that I haven't seen.
SANDERS: That's not what I said. I know it's hard for you to understand even short sentences, I guess. Please don't take my words out of context. But the separation of illegal alien families is the product of the same legal loopholes that Democrats refuse to close and these laws are the same that have been on the books for over a decade. And the president is simply enforcing them.
[22:30:11] JIM ACOSTA, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Is it a moral policy to take children away from their parents? Can you imagine the horror that these children must be going through?
SANDERS: It's moral policy to follow and enforce the law.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, what do you think of this staunch defense from the White House?
RYAN LIZZA, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: I'd say two things. The first is the cheap shot that Sarah took at Jim, and in 20 years --
LIZZA: -- of watching these briefings, and I think Brian and April have been to a lot more briefings than I have, can attest to this as well. I really don't remember Ari Fleischer, or Mike McCurry, or Josh Earnest as testy, and as difficult as the relationship between the White House Press Corp, and the White House gets. I really don't remember anyone from the podium taking a cheap shot like that to Jim. I know Donald Trump does this all the time.
LEMON: Or anyone.
LIZZA: Yes, or anyone. And so I was really struck by that, that the sort of -- you know, the kind of, you know, snarky Twitter-like putdowns has now infected the briefing room where as ugly as things get between the press, and the White House press secretary, I don't remember that kind of rhetoric.
And then two, I would just say, and probably more seriously and importantly, look, you can find a biblical verse to endorse anything you want. LEMON: There you go.
LIZZA: You tell me a policy, I'll go back to my Bible --
LEMON: You can twist it in any way you want.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Amen.
LIZZA: And I don't want to -- and look, I don't want to take this too far, but I would recommend if people are interested in the subject, look at some of the -- there's a piece up at the Atlantic, I believe, it was tonight that notes that this biblical verse that Sessions is using not shockingly was also used by a lot of politicians going back to the 19th century to defend the indefensible, things like slavery.
BRIAN KAREM, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Slavery.
LIZZA: And so, let's not -- so, let's not use the bible to defend our personal policies.
LEMON: I agree with that.
KAREM: If you want to use the Bible, I got one for you. How about, whatsoever you do to the least of my brother, that you do undo me. I mean, there is a bible verse for you. Simple fact of the matter is, the Bible shouldn't be invoked in this particular argument, and --
LEMON: Well, there's a reason for the separation of church and state.
RYAN: Exactly. There is a separation between church and state.
LEMON: OK, Hold on. Hold on. Hold on. So, H-O-L-D, hold on. So, listen, Brian, you know, at first, you know, I thought -- I was like well, Brian, you know, wow. What happened to Brian today? I missed the Jim cheap shot. So she made it personal first.
KAREM: That's where it started.
LEMON: I don't know if two wrongs make a right. But this is when you asked her about immigration, this is how she responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KAREM: Come on, Sarah. You're a parent. Don't you have any empathy for what these people are going through? They have less than you do.
KAREM: Sarah, come on, seriously. Seriously
SANDERS: Brian, settle down. I'm trying to be serious, but I'm not going to have you yell out of turn.
KAREM: It's a law, and they have -- these people have nothing. SANDERS: Brian, I know you want to get some more T.V. time.
KAREM: It's not that. It's not that.
SANDERS: But that's not what this is about. I want to recognize you --
KAREM: I want you to answer the question, Sarah.
SANDERS: Go ahead, Jill.
KAREM: Honestly, answer the question. It's a serious question. These people have nothing. They come to the border with nothing, and you -- you're a parent. You're a parent of young children. Don't you have any empathy for what they go through?
SANDERS: Jill, go ahead.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, I understood your point, but why did you bring her kids? You don't want to make it personal. But she doesn't want to take it personal with April.
KAREM: She did.
LEMON: Every get's offended when she makes it personal with Jim. Everyone -- go on.
KAREM: She -- well, she did it. I mean, she's brought her children into the argument on a number of occasions. And in fact, last night tweeted that she was at a kindergarten function with her children when she put down a CDS report, which she actually didn't, you knpw, put down. She didn't deny that she was leaving, that she did deflect.
So she opened that door, and the point of it is when she comes out, and says that she is a parent, and she cares, and she's caring, she opens the door for that question. You're right. It's not a question that would come otherwise. But in this particular White House, I really want to know where the moral center is for the government that we elected to run this country.
KAREM: And, Don, to be honest with you, I've spent time down in these situations, in these places. I remember walking through a village that was made out of hammered flat tin cans where the people drank, defecated, and bathed in the same pool. And they come up here searching for a better life, and as Chris Cuomo pointed out earlier, we don't go after the people who hired them. We go after the most disaffected.
LEMON: OK. All right. I've got to get April in. Your point is taken. So, April, you said amen to the separation of church and state. But I just want to ask you, Brian, bought up a very good point about disability, or whatever, the mood there. You covered the White House for 20 years, several administrations both Republican and Democrats.
[22:35:02] RYAN: Twenty-one. Twenty-one. Don't take my year away. Twenty-one.
LEMON: OK. How is this -- how is the discourse in the briefing room? Has it changed?
RYAN: It's changed totally. I mean, Sarah Huckabee Sanders is the White House Press Secretary for better or worse. There's a contentious mood. She attacks us. If we were to turn it around, we would be wrong. But she has made it personal on numerous occasions.
You know, I think back to the first female White House Press Secretary that I covered, Dana Perino. Dana was tough. She's tough as nails, but she was strong, and she did not play gutter politics, or street gangs. She was firm, and there were repercussions behind the scenes.
This is uncalled for today -- what she said to Jim was uncalled for. There was a low. I remember Steven Miller went after Jim another time saying something about -- you know, something about him was uncalled for. This administration is using that room for the wrong purposes. It's not about size, it's not about IQ tests, or who has the better one-upsmanship, or playing the dozens.
It's about the American public, and getting information out. And for whatever reason, when we ask questions, be it Jim, or be it myself, or be it Brian, or be it some others in there, who really want answers, they get upset. It's about the American public that's not getting the answers. This is not about a show.
RYAN: This is not about a reality show. This is about -- it's not about us.
LEMON: Apparently someone there thinks it's OK. Maybe it's her boss, 2because, I mean, all you have to do -- I got to go.
RYAN: She's trying to keep her job.
LEMON: I know.
RYAN: She's trying and I'm trying to keep her job.
LEMON: It's OK -- It's OK, maybe because he says it's OK. He sets the example.
KAREM: Don, I want you to --
LEMON: Quick, please.
KAREM: Real quick. Would we be having this discussion if we were talking about children on the border who were white and not brown?
LEMON: I don't know. I can't answer that.
KAREM: Think about it.
LEMON: I think in this country -- I got to go before I get in trouble. Thank you. When we come back, more on the biblical explanation the Attorney General is using to defend separating children from their parents at the border. Plus, new details on the, quote, soft sided structures they're going to house the kids in.
[22:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: White House doubling down tonight on its policy to separate undocumented families attempting to enter the U.S. This as the administration announced its plans to build, quote, soft sided structures for unaccompanied immigrant children near the border in Texas.
They will have heating and cooling capabilities, and will start with at least 360 beds. And again, they will house children far from home who have been separated from their parents.
And I want to bring in now Pastor A.R. Bernard. He is a founder of the Christian Cultural Center, and a former member of President Trump's evangelical counsel, also CNN Political Commentator, Alice Stewart, and CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, a former Homeland Security Official with the Obama administration.
Important topic. Good evening to everyone. So, Alice, I'm going to start with you. Today, the Attorney General Jeff Sessions addressed the criticism regarding separating immigrant families. Watch this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: I would cite you to the Apostle Paul, and his clear, and wise command in Romans 13 to obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes. Orderly and lawful processes are good in themselves.
Consistent, fair, application of law is in itself a good and moral thing. And that protects the weak. It protects the lawful. Our policies that can result in short-term separation of families is not unusual or unjustified.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, Alice, should he be citing God, and the Bible to justify separating children from their parents at the boarder?
ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Don, I think it's important to remember where he first cited this policy was from the legal standpoint. Back on May 4th he stressed the legal aspect of this which is if you enter this country illegally, you will be prosecuted.
And it has come up, and in the venue today, the biblical aspect was asked, and he answered the question, and addressed it from that standpoint citing Romans 13. And I will say this, it's important to first look at legally what he's saying.
That if you enter illegally, you'll be prosecuted, and that's what his job as attorney general is. But when he's asked about the biblical aspect, he responded. And I will also remind you of another person I think so very highly of is pastor A.R. Bernard, who with us tonight.
Just a few weeks ago, he tweeted, you cannot have the kingdom of God without the government of God. And I think that's really important. Our government has laws, and our laws must be applied equally, and across the board, and that's what we're doing. And I think it's important that we look at this also from the legal standpoint, and this is something zero tolerance policy is what this President promised.
STEWART: And that's exactly what they're doing.
LEMON: There may be a distinction with the children of God. But I do have to say that as the first we said pastor. There's a difference between being an attorney general, or being the president, and being pastor, because that is your job. But I just want to say this, because you say this is a moral atrocity.
A.R. BERNARD, FORMER MEMBER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S EVANGELICAL COUNCIL: That's right.
LEMON: He read from Romans 13 in the Bible. And we know what Romans 13 has been used to justify slavery.
BERNARD: That' right.
BERNARD: That' right.
LEMON: Did no one learn a lesson from that? Did they not learn a lesson?
BERNARD: You know, we're on dangerous ground when we begin to experience what is symptomatic of a politically co-opted gospel, and Christian lens that that's coming through. He shouldn't be quoting from scripture because we can make the scripture say anything that we want, and try to legitimize public policy.
We should never do that. And I think he crossed the line. And I understand what he is saying by taking a legal perspective, but when we use the Bible to justify policies that are targeting children to separate them from their parents, that's an atrocity.
[22:45:09] LEMON: Juliette, you heard the argument. Sessions and Sanders say that they're following the law. But do they have to separate children from their parents? I mean, isn't the Trump administration that changed the policy? JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Yes. And I'm not
going -- you know, Alice was just saying they're following the law. It is not the law, and everyone needs to stop saying that. The law is at most a misdemeanor if you cross the border illegally. There are all sorts of different rules.
Some of these people are coming as asylum seekers. The law actually protects them. The administration decided to interpret the law to compel this separation of children with their parents. It is their choice. And I don't understand why they're not owning up to it. They're hiding behind the law and the Bible. It is their choice.
The law is not on their side, and then just getting to the religious aspects of it. That's not where I am, but just -- there is a reason why other administrations, Democratic and Republican did not do this before. It's mean. It's cruel. It's not who we are. It's not demanded by the law.
It's ineffective because the border -- the border numbers are not in the Trump administration's favor. They're actually increasing right now. But most importantly, family unification is actually the most important thing to stabilize communities that are coming from really horrible areas whether they're allowed to stay here or they go back.
Any nation that decides to tear children and families apart is a reflection on us, not on those trying to come here. So there's no law. There's no policy. There's no history. There's no religion to defend what they're doing. And this administration and people on T.V. defending them should own up to what they're doing.
LEMON: OK. Evangelical Leader Franklin Graham speaking out. You're going to be surprised at what he had to say, but also Speaker of the House Paul Ryan as well. Both gentlemen speaking out today. You'll be shocked to learn when they say. We'll talk about that when we come back.
[22:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Attorney General Jeff Sessions citing the bible to defend President Trump's immigration policy that results in families being separated. Back with me, Pastor A.R. Bernard, Alice Stewart, and Juliette Kayyem. So listen, this is Paul Ryan -- this is Paul Ryan today. He was asked if he was comfortable with this current zero- tolerance policy leading to parents and children being separated. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PAUL RYAN, SPEAKER OF THE UNITED STATES HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: No, I'm not. What's happening at the border with the separation of parents and their children is because of a court ruling. That's why I think legislation is necessary. We don't want kids to be separated from their parents. I think I just made that really clear. And we believe because of the court ruling this will require legislative change.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: OK. And then Evangelist Franklin Graham -- I'm not sure what he meant by that -- Franklin Graham who has been a stanch Trump supporter said it is disgraceful, it is terrible to see families ripped apart, and I don't support that one bit.
So I'm just wondering because he has this broad support with Evangelicals, if this could somehow damage him, Alice, when it comes to evangelicals. And number two if you can get it quickly, what exactly was Paul Ryan saying? It sounds like he was trying to have it both ways.
STEWART: Well, look, I think it's wrong to point the finger at specifically Democrats, what some in the administration have done because we do need to close the federal loopholes. And that can be done by Republicans and Democrats getting together to close the loopholes with regard to immigration policy in an effort to ultimately keep these families together, and keep them together as a family unit, the illegal immigrant families that come here.
And that's the key that needs to be done is closing the federal government loopholes. But what's critical here is that no one likes to see this. No one likes to see these children treated like this, No one likes these to see families torn apart. And the goal is to make sure, and keep the families together, but also keep our immigration policies intact.
LEMON: Why not stop until you figure it out, Alice?
STEWART: What's the alternative, open borders? What are we going to do, rollout the red carpet, and make it easier? No, it's not.
KAYYEM: That's a false hearing. I've been doing --
STEWART: No, it's not.
KAYYEM: I've been doing border enforcement. I've been doing homeland security for 20 years in my life. That is false, false choice you are saying on T.V. The difference -- you're saying we either have open borders, or separate women and their children? That's bogus, Alice. You know that.
The choice that the administration made was to separate families. I can't tell you what's animating it except maybe some theory that it's going to serve as a deterrent effect. I'm telling you the numbers now. It is not working.
The numbers are up over the last couple of months. But the idea that then people like me who oppose this are for open borders, come on. I spent 20 years in Homeland Security. I'm not for open borders.
We choose who we -- we choose what we want to enforce, and focus on people who may be harmful, who don't have a legal reason to come here, either through asylum seekers, who are coming here unlawfully, and we save the limited government resources we have to protect the American public. Instead we have DOD, DHS, HHS, the FBI, DOJ finding camps for young children right now. That's what your government resources are going.
LEMON: For the sake of time -- for the sake of time. Go ahead, Pastor.
BERNARD: It's the wrong tone. Let me make a statement. The bosom of America is open not only to the opulent, and the respectable stranger, but to those who are persecuted, and oppress from all nations, and religions. You know who said that, George Washington. He set the tone. So we have to respond in a generous and orderly way, and at the same time advance the common good of this nation.
LEMON: I don't think my original question was answered when I talked about evangelical support because you were the first to resign for the President's advisory board. And then also Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he says that he is going to join other religious leaders in denouncing this in opposing the government's policy, called it immoral. So, evangelicals and Catholics, do you see this as an issue when it comes to the President?
BERNARD: Absolutely. Absolutely. And I commend Franklin Graham and any other evangelical leaders who are willing to speak out against it. Look, people have a right to immigrate, all right? Nations have a right to protect their borders. But how do we balance those rights? And America is not doing a good job in balancing those rights.
LEMON: I've got to switch gears now. And I want to talk about Arizona State Representative David Stringer, he made these comments earlier this week. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. DAVID STRINGER (R), ARIZONA: That complicates racial integration because there aren't enough white kids to go around, but we look at the 60 percent number for our public school students, just carry that forward 10 years, 15 years, it's going to change the demographic voting base of this state, and that's what's going on around this country.
[22:55:05] Immigration is politically destabilizing.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So today Stringer defended his comments. He said that Latinos, Asians, African-Americans have not fully integrated into American society. Is this another example of the Trumpification of the GOP? Alice, I'll give you this one.
STEWART: Look, I hope not. I think, look, what we're seeing more than anything the Trumpification of the GOP is the fact the GOP is now flexing its muscles when it comes to immigration. We're working hard to enforce our existing immigration laws.
And, look, I think it's critical when we're talking about this issue, and illegal immigrants coming into this country, any American citizen that's arrested, and you're facing -- you're going to be prosecuted, you cannot be entitled to bring your child with you. And so why do we have a situation where illegal immigrants that come into this country, why should we expect them to have more judicial proceeding --
LEMON: I understand how you feel on that particular issue, Alice. But specifically I want to get -- I want to pin you down this Arizona state representative, who said That Latinos, Asians, African-Americans have not fully integrated into American society.
STEWART: Look, I don't agree with that. I do not think that is the consensus of Trump supporters. That is his personal view. I don't agree with that. I think that is completely not representative of the Republican view on immigration.
LEMON: OK. Thank you, Alice. Thank you, Alice.
STEWART: Thanks, Don.
LEMON: Thank you, Reverend. Thank you, Juliette. I appreciate it. We will have much more on this story. The last one that I just talked about coming up in our next hour. We'll be right back.