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DOJ IG Report to be Released; Children Separated from Families; Baby Taken While Breastfeeding; Trump Praises Kim. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 14, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Inspector general report on the Hillary Clinton email probe will be released publicly today. It is expected to place blame on fired FBI chief James Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch.

So joining us now to discuss this, as well as what's going on with children at the border is Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier. She sits on the House Intelligence Committee.

Good morning, congresswoman.

REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: Good morning, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: What do you expect to see in the IG report?

SPEIER: Well, I think the IG report it's going to be critical of Comey's actions. He was not following protocol and I think that it will underscore the fact that once again it impacted the Clinton campaign and did not impact the Trump campaign because, as we know, they had started investigation of the Trump campaign and its interactions with Russia back in July and made no mention of it, which is the appropriate step to take.

CAMEROTA: Yes. And, listen, if he wasn't following protocol and made major mistakes, what's the punishment?

SPEIER: Well, he did get fired. I think that's always the ultimate punishment for anyone within the administration, within the FBI, who does not follow the normal procedures in terms of how to conduct themselves. It's a very important function and I really think that Comey stepped away out of bounds.

CAMEROTA: OK, I want to talk to you about what's going on in McCallum, Texas, because I know that you're going there next weekend.

SPEIER: Right.

CAMEROTA: Our Ed Lavandera is there reporting and that's where they have been at least 60 children, according to officials, just this -- in the past two days, OK, in just the past two days, who have been separated from their parents. In the past month, 500 children. These are immigrants who are crossing the border. Some of them are coming to seek asylum. Some of them are just crossing the border illegally. For those who are seeking asylum, there's a process. There are laws in

place. Are you supposed to be separated from your children during that process? What's happening at the border?

SPEIER: Absolutely not. There will be 19 colleagues, women members of Congress, who will be joining me at the McCallum facility next week. And we are going to do an inspection and investigation because, when you present yourself at the border to a border patrol official and say that you are seeking asylum, they are required to provide you with the accommodation and give you the opportunity to have a hearing to determine whether or not you are subject to a credible threat. That is part of the U.N. convention that was ratified by the U.S. Senate back in the '60s. It is the law of the land. And they, in my view, are violating the law.

CAMEROTA: This -- they call it -- I mean we've heard Attorney General Jeff Sessions say that this is a zero tolerance policy and basically what they're trying to do, and they admit it, is deter people from coming across the border. He has said, if you're worried about being separated from your children, then just don't cross the border. So help us make sense of how they can institute this zero tolerance policy if they're violating the law?

SPEIER: Well, they can't. And they are violating the law. And I'm sure there will be lawsuits that will file -- be filed against the Justice Department for the action it's taking. I agree with my colleague, Rosa DeLauro, who has a resolution before the House that actually identifies it as child abuse. You do not take children away from their parents.

The president of the Academy of Pediatric has said that it actually has irreparable damage to the child, that it does affect the brain architecture. This is a disgusting and un-American, inhumane action that must be stopped.

CAMEROTA: And what can you do if our attorney general, the chief law enforcement officer of our country, is doing it?

SPEIER: Well, what we have -- the only authority we have obviously is to speak out about it and to try and restrict his budget. The other alternatives are for individuals to bring lawsuits. And I think that's what will take place. And then the courts will determine whether or not the Justice Department is violating the law.

CAMEROTA: I mean some of these kids are infants.

SPEIER: They're infants. They're -- you know, whether it's true or not, we heard one story last night that a child was taken from his mother while she was breast-feeding him.


SPEIER: I mean you just don't do things like that.

CAMEROTA: That's our CNN story.

SPEIER: And --

CAMEROTA: Ed Lavandera talked to an official who says that he or she witnessed that. So, I mean, this is -- these aren't, you know, 16- year-olds, these are infants.

SPEIER: That's correct. And I do think we've got to make sure we are complying with our laws and, again, asylum is something that we have embraced. It is part of the U.N. convention. And we are required under that law to allow them to enter and to give them a hearing to determine whether there's been a credible threat.

[08:35:16] CAMEROTA: OK, back to The Hill for a second, because you're on the Intel Committee.

Can you just explain to us what's happening with Chairman Devin Nunes and this feud with Rod Rosenstein and Chairman Devin Nunes is trying to acquire, as you know, all these documents relating to the origin of the Russia investigation while an investigation is ongoing. What's happening?

SPEIER: Once again, Devin Nunes is, you know, flying on the seat of his pants. He is obviously doing the president's bidding and it is showing us, once again, that the majority on the House Intelligence Committee is not doing an independent investigation and has no intentions of doing it. It is really, you know, a shameful exercise that has been going on. And I think that Devin Nunes is way out of line.

CAMEROTA: And, very quickly, are Democrats powerless to do anything about this?

SPEIER: Well, we are not powerless, but we certainly don't have the ability to stop it. What we are doing is continuing our investigation, talking to persons that continue to shed light on the intervention by the Russians into our election and the extent to which Donald Trump's campaign engaged with Russia in terms of trying to rig the election.

CAMEROTA: OK. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, thank you very much for all of your incite.

SPEIER: Thanks, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Great to talk to you.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, so you just heard Alisyn and Congresswoman Speier discussing this undocumented mother have her child taken from her while she was breast-feeding. We'll go inside this immigration center to show the real effects of immigration policies. That's next.


[08:40:52] BERMAN: Family separations surging at the border amid the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy. One public defender says about 500 children have been separated from their families since May, including an undocumented mother who says her baby was taken while she was breast-feeding.

Our Ed Lavandera is live in McCallum, Texas.

Ed, you're part of the team that brought this story that has really, you know, sparked outrage in many parts of the country. What have you learned?

ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we're also getting a rare glimpse inside one of the shelters where these minors are being held. This is a shelter in the city of Brownsville, not too far from where we are in McCallum. Imagine, it's a converted all Walmart, 250,000 square feet in this particular facility. Some 1,500 kids being held. On average they stay there about 50 days.

And in this one particular shelter, the number of minors inside that shelter has jumped by 300, which again comes back to the issue -- this issue of how much outrage and anger there is over this zero tolerance policy and how dramatically things have changed here on the border.


LAVANDERA (voice over): Hundreds, possibly thousands of undocumented immigrants have been separated after crossing the border in the last month. It's the emotional fallout from the Trump's administration's attempt to prosecute all migrants who have illegally entered the United States.

Natalia Cornello, an attorney with the Texas Civil Rights Project, has met with dozens of these families and describes the controversy zero tolerance policy as torture.

NATALIA CORNELLO, ATTORNEY, TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT: One of the women that I interviewed today told me that she was breastfeeding her daughter when the government took her daughter from her. And when she resisted, she said that was when they put handcuffs on her.

LAVANDERA: Other activists say some families have been misled by federal authorities so that the children can be separated and sent to different detention facilities. A Customs and Border Protection official says, nothing could be further from the truth and these allegations are unsubstantiated.

The zero tolerance policy is such a dramatic change that it is confusing and appears arbitrary. On the bridges across the Rio Grande, federal agents are often standing right at the international boundary, turning away many immigrants, some who come requesting asylum. It's a move immigrant rights activists say they've never seen before.

And while hundreds of immigrants are escorted by bus into federal court to McCallum, Texas, to face a judge, just a block away at an immigrant shelter, hundreds who also crossed illegally have been released.

With tears in his eyes, Arbet Moran (ph) feels like one of the lucky ones. He and his son crossed the Rio Grande a week ago in a raft.

LAVANDERA (on camera): Did they take you to court?


LAVANDERA: Did they separate you from your child?

MORAN: No. No. No.

LAVANDERA (voice over): He was given a court date and a GPS ankle monitor. Now he's on his way to reunite with family in Colorado.

A Department of Homeland Security official says the number of undocumented immigrants handed over to federal prosecutors has doubled in the last month, but it's still not clear why and how some are sent to court and others are released.

JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: We have a goal. And the goal -- and that goal is to end the lawlessness that now exists in our immigration system.

LAVANDERA: Miguel Nogueras, a federal public defender, says the Trump administration's border crackdown is inhumane.

MIGUEL NOGUERAS, FEDERAL PUBLIC DEFENDER: But I don't think that this represents the values of the America people.


LAVANDERA: And, John and Alisyn, the Trump administration remaining unapologetic for what it's doing. A DHS official told us yesterday that under the DHS leadership, no longer will entire categories or classes of aliens be exempted from the law. So many people within the Trump administration applauding what has happened here over the course of the last month to the dismay of many activists and immigrant rights activists across the country as well.

John and Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: Right. And then you hear people like Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who we just had on, who believes that it's actually violating the law of the land. So there is a battle that is going to be brewing down there, Ed, and we appreciate your reporting and look forward to the developments as you stay down there.

[08:45:10] BERMAN: Good for Ed.

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, the president ignoring the human rights abuses to praise Kim Jong-un. That's in our "Bottom Line."

BERMAN: But, first, activists say the transgender community is facing its deadliest year. But a New York City non-profit is stepping up to save lives. Our Brooke Baldwin explains it in today's "Impact Your World."


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been physically attacked. It is a cost for you to be you unapologetic self in this country.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice over): Zacaria Frye (ph), Felicia Mitchel (ph), Carla Patricia Flores Pavon (ph), these are just a few of the trans people murdered in 2018. More than one in four trans people have been assaulted because of their identity. The New York Anti-Violence Project is working to help.

BEVERLY TILLERY, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, NEW YORK CITY ANTI-VIOLENCE PROJECT: AVP coordinates the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which is a network of about 50 organizations to end all forms of violence that impact the LGBTQ community.

We support survivors through a 24 hour bilingual hotline. Staff and volunteers are available 24 hours who can walk people through immediate safety planning. We have legal services here and individual counseling.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a hotline on here.

TILLERY: We do outreach and hold safety night, giving people information about how to prevent incidents of violence.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm better off as a client. And I was so empowered by the services they gave me that I wanted to take it around the whole city.

TILLERY: Until people are willing to stand up in some way, then the violent acts will continue.



[08:50:41] BERMAN: President Trump praising North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-un, not only brushing aside concerns about human rights violations, but, honestly, seeming to justify them.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You know, you call people sometimes killers. He -- you know, he is a killer. I mean he's clearly executing people and --

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Well, he's a -- he's a tough guy. Hey, when you take over a country, a tough country, with tough people, and you take it over from your father, if you can do that at 27 years old, you -- 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.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But he's still some -- done some really bad things.

TRUMP: Yes, but so have a lot of other people have done some really bad things. I mean I could go through a lot of nations where a lot of bad things were done. Now, look, with all of that being said, the answer is yes.


BERMAN: Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's senior political commentator, former Obama senior adviser, David Axelrod.

You know, Scott Taylor, a congressman from Virginia said, this is just real (ph) politic (ph). You know, we have to acknowledge, these are the people we're dealing with. Is it that or is it the president justifying human rights abuses by saying, yes, you know, he had to be tough?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, listen, here's the question for you, who said no regime has oppressed its own citizens more totally or brutally than the cruel dictatorship in North Korea?

BERMAN: Who is Donald J. Trump?

AXELROD: Exactly. And if you ran this footage from the State of Union, just this year, just a few months ago, against what you just saw, it's really kind of stunning.

He, as you remember, there was a long, long take out in his inaugural -- I mean in his State of the Union speech with Otto Warmbier's parents in the balcony in which he talked about this very issue at length. So the question is, do words matter? Do words matter at all? When he said that, did it really mean anything?

CAMEROTA: And what's the answer?

AXELROD: Well, I think you have to conclude that, in his mind, you know, this is all situational. And you say what you need to say at the moment. And, you know, from the standpoint of the United States of America, I think there are real implications for that. We have always been a beacon on this issue of human rights. And really the message he's saying is, you know what, that's really not important.

CAMEROTA: The exercise I like to play is, what if President Obama had said it?

AXELROD: Oh, man.

CAMEROTA: What if Barack Obama had said that to Fox News?

AXELROD: That sounds like a rhetorical question to me.

CAMEROTA: No, it's not, because I know that heads would have exploded. Heads would have exploded. I mean the idea that any -- they would parse anything that Barack Obama said and call it an apology tour if he ever said anything about reaching out a hand to, you know, America's enemies.


CAMEROTA: How dare he.

AXELROD: Right. CAMEROTA: You know, part of America -- hate America first.

AXELROD: Listen, I think that there are a lot of Republicans who are biting their tongues right now.

CAMEROTA: Why? Why bite you tongue when it comes to something like this?

AXELROD: We've got -- well, I think -- Ray -- Mark Sanford, OK. They're worried about losing their seats. And the first instinct of politicians is to preserve themselves in office. They will not challenge the president.

Mark Sanford was on television this morning saying what lesson did he learn? He learned not to challenge the president because it will cost you.

And, you know, the people who are speaking up, and it's no coincidence, are people who are either leaving Congress or are mortally ill. And everybody else is silent. And Donald Trump has the Republican Party in a total grip and I -- it's really kind of a grip of fear.

BERMAN: I mean the thing is, on North Korea, in this rhetoric about Kim Jong-un, there is another option, there is the option of saying, he's a brutal dictator. He's a brutal dictator which is why we have to get the nuclear weapons out of that country, which is why I'm sort of working so hard to do this, but that's not what he's saying.

AXELROD: Of course. But -- listen, he is a fabulousist and this is -- his tale right now is that he went, he solved the problem, we now have peace, there is no threat, everything's OK. I mean that's the problem with him. He goes -- he's so hyperbolic. I was saying to you guys earlier before we were on air, I would give him -- I give him credit because diplomacy is better than war. I disagreed with him when he told Rex Tillerson not to waste his time talking to the North Koreans. I'm glad we're talking to the North Koreans, but you don't have to guild the lily. This is like taking the crowd size at the inauguration, you know, a thousand times. This is the problem with Donald Trump, you know. And, again, it goes back to this fundamental issue. His word doesn't matter and his words don't matter. And that has long-term consequences for the United States.

[08:55:17] CAMEROTA: And it's also why it's hard to know where we really are with North Korea today. So now there are all sorts of flowery words and there's all sorts of victory laps, but, who knows.

AXELROD: They still have their weapons. They have not made any real concessions. It is good that we are talking. It is good that he forced the action and got us to talk. But -- but we are really back to square one as opposed to war footing, which is where we were for the first 18 months or 17 months of the Trump administration.

BERMAN: For appearing on "The Bottom Line," you get a free copy of "Amanda Wakes Up" by Alisyn Camerota, now available --

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.

AXELROD: I was hoping.

BERMAN: Now available in paperback.

CAMEROTA: Available in paperback.

AXELROD: This is why I was here. I was hoping I would get one. I'm happy.

BERMAN: With "The Bottom Line," David Axelrod, thanks very much.

CAMEROTA: Click, click.

AXELROD: Congratulations on this.

SCARBOROUGH: All right, CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up after this quick break.

CAMEROTA: You're the best.

BERMAN: You're welcome.

CAMEROTA: Ten percent.