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Immigrant Children Being Separated From Their Parents; Interview With Rep. Joachim Castro of Texas; The Trump Administration's Immigration Policies. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 15, 2018 - 08:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


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[08:30:50]

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: They were asked, he was asked by one of the reporters. Why are you separating children from the parents within this zero tolerance policy at the boarder? And he said that's the democrats doing that. That's the democrats policy. That's the democrats plan, your response?

REP. JOAQUIN CASTRO (D), TEXAS: Well the President lies often. And he's lying this time. It's not a democratic plan. His Attorney General is making the decision, a choice to separate these young kids from their families.

And the President is so ashamed of his policy that he won't even own it. He's so embarrassed and ashamed about what he's doing that he won't even accept that he's doing it. He's denying reality. And the fact is he should be ashamed because this a brutal policy of taking young kids. Little kids that are crying that are experiencing sever emotional trauma and taking them from their families.

CAMEROTA: Congressman often as you know the President spins things to his own you know best benefit.

CASTRO: Well I mean I wouldn't say he doesn't just spin things. He lies. And you guys should be clear about that he lies.

CAMEROTA: I appreciate your candor in this. Because this one is hard to figure out what he is saying. He's the President. Attorney General is his Attorney General. The Attorney General has announced this new zero tolerance policy. There wasn't a zero tolerance policy before they came to office.

CASTRO: Right.

CAMEROTA: So how he can possibly say that this is up to the democrats? This one is a total head scratcher. And you know why are they doing it? If he's ashamed of his own policy and if he's trying to claim that it's the democrats. Why are they doing this?

CASTRO: Well I'll give you one reason I think their doing it. I think he does a lot of stuff for policy leverage later on. So for example here he's creating a humanitarian crisis so then Paul Ryan and the republican's in Congress can, and he can try to fix it.

And use fixing that crisis as leverage to get other concessions from folks in Congress. And you see that with the Bills that they've laid out for next week.

CAMEROTA: OK. Let's talk about that. So if this is just a tactic in order to get leverage and I hear your theory on that, here is what the republicans have brought to the table in this draft Bill on immigration.

OK. So let me just lay it out, 25 billion for boarder security including the boarder wall. We know that's long been one of the Presidents top priorities. Ending the diversity visa lottery, cuts to family biased visas. Half the citizen ship for docket recipients, the dreamers. So I assumed that you would be pleased with portion of it.

And they will address this issue that is happening right now at the boarder of family separation children from parents. So what do you see here? Would you go along with this?

CASTRO: Well it's a 300 page bill. So I'm still going through it. And all of us are going thru it over the weekend and into next week. So but again, their building a wall, $25 billion wall, which is hugely unpopular with the American people, at least the majority of people don't support it.

Most Texan's don't support it. There also using this humanitarian crisis they created as leverage to put in a bunch of other bad stuff, while solving the crisis that they created.

CAMEROTA: So you're saying that if you don't go along with it, help me understand the logic. If democrats don't go along with it then can the President say look we had a fix. The republican's suggested a fix, republican's wont go along - I mean democrats won't go along with it. That's what's happening at the boarder?

CASTRO: That's absolutely what he'll do. He did a similar thing with North Korea for example. He got credit, he and Kim Jung-un got credit for taking us away from the brink of war.

But the fact is you all know that President Trump was the one who was agitating on Twitter, and press releases, and press conferences creating the hostilities brining us to the brink of war. And then going over to North Korea and getting credit for taking us away from the brink of war. It's the same thing that he does over and over.

CAMEROTA: But Congressman, if you don't go along with this as democrats. Then what happens to these families at the boarder?

CASTRO: You're right. It puts people - it puts us, it puts people in Congress in a very difficult position, because I think this administration will continue to get more brutal.

CAMEROTA: What does that mean?

CASTRO: I think that they'll continue with this inhumane policy. And I think that it'll get worse. I can't tell you exactly how it gets worse. But my sense is that with these guys it'll get worse.

[08:35:00]

CAMEROTA: But I mean your just saying that that is your fear?

CASTRO: Yes. And so far I think a lot of these fears have come true.

CAMEROTA: So democrats are powerless to keep these families together, or to stop babies and children being separated from their parents right now and being held? We've heard from some who've gone down to the board in pens.

Obviously right now the government is trying to come up with better, less inhumane accommodations, but their still going to separate the families.

CASTRO: No I wouldn't say that we're powerless. I mean we're pushing legislation. There were - people have been doing everything that they can to raise this issue. That's why you're seeing so much attention to it now. So we can never give up hope.

And we can never stop trying because if you do that then you really shouldn't be in this place. But also the American people are not powerless. The American people can do something to change what this government and what their President is doing in their name.

CAMEROTA: Senator Jeff - sorry Attorney General Jeff Sessions says that the Bible dictates this. The Bible suggests that we obey the laws of the government because God has ordained the government for his purposes. Your response?

CASTRO: That's a perversion of the Bible that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, his interpretation.

CAMEROTA: Congressman Joaquin Castro, thank you very much for being here with your perspective on all of this. John.

CASTRO: Thank you.

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[08:40:00] BERMAN: All right, President taking to the media just moments ago about immigration about this very subject, also the Inspector General report. We're going to talk about all of this with Van Jones, coming up next in our bottom line.

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(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

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JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right we do have some breaking news President Trump talking to the Press just moments ago outside the White House. He spoke about a range of topics including the Inspector General report about the FBI's handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation.

He also spoke about immigration, CNN's Van Jones here with the bottom line. I guess let's listen to just what he said. Because we we're on TV I want to take on this.

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DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I say that the IG blew it at the very end with that statement. Because when you read the report it's almost like Comey. He goes point after point about how guilty Hillary is.

And then he said but we're not going to do anything about it. The report, the IG report was a horror show. I thought that one sentence of conclusion was ridiculous.

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BERMAN: All right what he's talking about there is the IG put out a report that said we found no evidence that the conclusions by the prosecutors we're effected by bias or other improper considerations. So you have this 500 page IG report. Where there's a lot in it the President likes. But he decides to dispute the conclusion there Van.

VAN JONES, CNN HOST: Well I mean there is stuff in there that nobody should like. Let's just be honest. Like when you have people who are supposed to be doing professional jobs and their having side conversations. But you know what? That actually happens in real life.

People have - I've been in hospitals where doctors and nurses are having negative side conversations about patients or families. That doesn't mean they then go into the surgery and botch it on purpose. It doesn't mean the nurse is not giving the pills properly. People can have opinions. Maybe they shouldn't have them, maybe their catty, maybe their petty. But it doesn't mean that their not doing their job properly.

And at the end of the day it seems to be that's what they found. People had catty personal opinions. But you can't find evidence that those opinions actually changed the outcome of these investigations. And both facts are important, both facts.

CAMEROTA: We were just talking about immigration. As you know there are children who are being separated from their parents at the boarder under this new zero tolerance policy. That is being implemented by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

I think the President just addressed that. And we think that what he said was that there is this immigration of this draft of a new bill from the republicans. And it has various tenants. Most of them pretty hard line or lost swage conservative feelings, certainly more than democrats. But it also does include a path for dreamers.

And it says that it would be a fix to this separating of parents and children. We're not exactly sure how. But it sounds like the President said he will not vote for this republican bill? Is that what you heard to?

BERMAN: He say's he will not sign what he calls the more moderate agreement here. Now you can disagree about whether a fact kit (ph) moderate or a conservative. But he will not sign this agreement that the house speaker and others helped forge with the moderates in that party.

This essentially, if he understands what he just said blows up the republican deal that they just made. Van there is urgency here to solve the problem of separating these parents with children.

JONES: Beyond urgency. I mean this is not a zero tolerance policy. This is a zero humanity policy. It's a zero dignity policy. It's a zero human rights policy. There is no country on plant earth that when refugees show up on the boarder, fleeing violence, fleeing gang activity, running for their lives that rip babies away from mothers. And jail the mothers, incarcerate the mothers and the children to. [08:45:00] That is unprecedented on the plant. Has it happened in

narrow cases in the U.S. before? Yes, with good cause. But a blanket wholesale attack on every single person coming here, even people who are - well these people are breaking the law. They should be treated like garbage.

That's not our Constitution. That's fine. Some of these people are following the letter of our asylum laws.

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.

JONES: To the letter and having their children ripped away.

CAMEROTA: It spells out that they must be protected when they show up on our shores seeking asylum.

JONES: Because human rights law that the United States pioneered and brought the world into requires that. Not only our own laws. But global human rights laws. And for the President of the United States to do anything to jeopardize the fix - and by the way if you're a conservative, if you're a republican, pro family, pro baby, pro choice all these things about the innocent.

And so frustrated with the Democratic Party for not understanding your argument that what ever the parents did or didn't do. That child in the womb is innocent and shouldn't be punished based on the parents decide. Apply that to the boarder. Don't punish babies. Don't punish children because of the choices of the parents.

Where is the Republican Party? Where are my conservative friends? Where are my people of faith and Christians on the abuse of children in our own boarders? The silence has been appalling. I hope it breaks this weekend.

BERMAN: Where is the President? Let's listen to the sound from the White House just moments ago.

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TRUMP: So then I certainly wouldn't sign the more moderate one.

DOOCY: What does the bill have to have in it?

TRUMP: I need a bill that gives this country tremendous boarder security. I have to have that.

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BERMAN: I want to bring in CNN Political Record David Shulkin. The President just said it. He would not sign the more moderate bill. And David, and I say this with the utmost respect. I'm not sure he understands what he just said.

I think what he was just saying was that he's not going to accept the deal that was reached with in the republican caucus. And if that's the case he just blew up the party's immigration plans again.

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: And your saying that John because right, the more moderate version. That deal that you're saying then the Goodlatte Bill is what we would sort of analyze as the more moderate version.

But here's the thing. The other thing that the President said there was yes they need to fix this legislatively. He likes to blame the democrats as Sarah Sanders did yesterday for creating the law that is now being enforced to separate these children from their families.

But my ears perked up to as soon as I heard him say that. Because it sounds like he's not willing to sign at this point, the Bill that the republican house majority is crafting as a compromise deal. Yet he still say's he wants a legislative fix. And right now that seems to be the only one that potentially has the possibility of getting enough votes to actually be a legislative fix.

CAMEROTA: Van you said where are my fellow friends, my friends, the conservatives? Where are the evangelicals? Franklin Gram arguably best known evangelical Christen in the country, he said that this is uncontainable. I mean I'm paraphrasing, but that was basically the message that he sent to the White House.

JONES: Yes. And then he said this is because of 20 or 30 years of bad policy and lack of leadership, which of course is also true. But we need sharper statements from our conservative Christian friends. This is a no brainer. This is not hard. You can say I want the most secure boarders ever. But I don't want to scare children.

I do not want two year old babies who are going to be emotionally scared for 20, 30, 40, 50 years. Where is my momma? Where is my momma? For three months, six months. You don't want to have a secure boarder. And you don't have to do that to children to have a secure boarder. It's a no brainer. It's a no brainer.

And from my point of view this is the opportunity for the Christian evangelical movement to step forward and say hold on a second. If we're going to be key to this governing collation we are going to impose some morals and some principals, maybe not on the behavior of the President and his personal life, but certainly on the behavior of public policy.

BERMAN: And David Shulkin the President saying he wants a legislative fix. Once again it's deflecting it's saying that others should do something on this when it's an administration decision. The administration --

CHALIAN: Un-enforcement, totally.

BERMAN: They decided to do this. You can have the argument. Obviously Van feels a certain way. There are others - although it does feel as if they've created a bit of a ground swell of people who feel similarly to Van here along Franklin Gram and others.

CAMEROTA: And the Pope. BERMAN: But the White House needs to own the fact that they choose this path. They are choosing to separate the children from the parents.

CHALIAN: And the other thing that President Trump said in this really unprecedented kind of stroll to the north lawn kind of interview. I don't think I've ever seen a President of the United States speaking on television from the stand up reporter position on the north lawn before.

But he strolled out there and talked to FOX this morning. And the other thing he said John is tough on immigration wins. I've learned that and now we're in an era where tough on immigration wins. So he see's this enforcement action as some kind of political. And the polls don't say that at all.

[08:50:00]

The Congress, his own party in the Congress clearly doesn't believe this is a political win for them right now. They are scrambling to come up with a more humane solution here, but the president truly -- just use his own words, believes that the toughest position on -- you can have on immigration-related matters is a winning position.

CAMEROTA: Well, there you go. So if the poll numbers dip (ph), then you'll see the policy on this zero-tolerance policy changing at the border. I mean, that is the hope. If Americans speak out and tell pollsters how they feel about it, that's how -- possibly how it will change.

JONES: I -- I think -- I think there are a number -- number of things that need to happen. First of all, everybody -- if you've never called your Congressperson before, Google it, it's not hard. Everybody, right, left, doesn't matter who you are, say listen, don't abuse babies at our border. That's not appropriate, we don't want that. And then it's important -- listen, there needs to be a signal sent , I think, in November that, you know, some things are beyond the pale.

And I think if you -- if you begin to put that together, I think the calculation changes. But what's key is that Trump doesn't care about the general polling. He cares about the polling for his base, which means that if you are a Trump voter, if -- you have a tremendous amount of power in this situation. If you are a Trump voter, you've have always been there for him, you want the wall, you can say I want the wall but I don't want babies abused.

That begins to crack into his decision-making model. And we need to hear from Trump voters who don't want this kind of abuse. And -- and -- and if you're going to ride with him on everything, including this kind of mistreatment where we're going to be an international pariah, where we're doing bad stuff, then I'd start to ask the question at what -- is there a bottom to the moral collapse that we're in?

BERMAN: Hesitant to change the subject because I do think this is a very interesting discussion but I want to get to another thing the president was talking about on the lawn. He was talking about North Korea. Listen to what he says about his recent meeting and a little bit of history.

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And you got -- you took some heat over saluting one of the generals.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I think he fired at least -- OK, when you say he fired --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Three that we know of.

TRUMP: I think maybe fired, at least. Fired may be a nice word. That's right, I met a general, he saluted me, I saluted him back and I guess they're using that as another sound bite. I mean, you know, think I'm being respectful to the general. We are -- we have a very good relationship with North Korea. When I was talking to President Obama, he essentially was ready to go to war with North Korea.

He felt you had to almost go to war. And I did ask him, have you spoken to him? He goes no. I said, do you think it would be a good thing to speak to him maybe? OK? Because you know, if you go to war there, you're not talking about 100,000 lives, which is a lot. You're talking about 30, 40, 50 million lives.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BERMAN: So this, David, I assume the president is speaking about the meeting he held in the Oval Office immediately after the election, where we know from our reporting that the president -- Former President Obama said the thing that bothered him the most was North Korea, that was his biggest worry.

President trump claiming that President Obama said he was about ready to go to war there. This fits into the narrative, though, where President Trump I think is trying to make the case that he has done something that no one else could do or would do with North Korea.

CHALIAN: Right, that's his Nobel Peace Prize application process, there. But it is -- what is interesting to hear him say -- and -- and it -- he -- it sounded like it was president-elect -- then president- elect Trump's assessment that President Obama was prepared to go to war. But what is interesting is we know that President Obama said this is going to be your greatest problem.

It wasn't President Obama who promised fire and fury, the likes of which we've never seen before. That was President Trump who was amping up that war rhetoric last August. I -- the -- the we were -- most experts, John, that have been on this show, that have told you guys, we were closer to the precipice of a -- of a actual military conflict and war with North Korea under President Trump in the fall -- summer and fall than we'd ever been as a country before.

CAMEROTA: Van, your thoughts. JONES: Yes, look, I mean, it's -- it's just interesting. You know,

Trump, just to make the story work, will kind of change who the characters are. So now it's, you know, Trump is the peaceful, reasonable person and -- and Obama is this crazy war monger. But he ran against Obama for being weak, for being too appeasing, for being -- you know, for going on this -- this alleged apology tour, which he never went on.

So again, it's more about telling the story that -- that makes Trump look like the hero than telling the truth.

BERMAN: Can I just read you something the president said? Because this will make you sit up. Right? He said of Kim Jong-un, he speaks and his people sit up in attention. I want my people to do the same.

JONES: See? Now listen (ph) --

CHALIAN: Whoa.

JONES: Just -- that's just stunning. I mean, can you imagine if President Obama had come out and said I just met with a brutal dictator and I -- and -- and this brutal dictator who murders people, who starves people, has his people sitting up at attention, I want the American people to do the same thing.

I mean, it would be game, set, match. It would be done. And yet --

CHALIAN: Van, never mind the political hypocrisy on that point, what American president, irrespective of party, would ever say that?

JONES: Or want that?

CHALIAN: And -- and think that way? I just can't think -- so, yes, you can call out the political hypocrisy that if Obama did this, it would be a -- you know, a five-alarm fire for the Republicans.

[08:55:00]

But that doesn't even sound like an American president. I'm --

JONES: At all (ph).

CHALIAN: -- you know --

JONES: It's a -- it's a five-alarm fire for democracy at this point. I mean, that --

CHALIAN: -- you know what, people --

JONES: .. that -- that's -- it's -- I mean, I'm stunned. I mean, it's hard to stun me. I've been -- I've been sitting here for three years listening to this stuff and -- and doing the best I can. But it's literally -- the pundits are going to be speechless.

CAMEROTA: So (ph), honestly, it's like until I hear him say it with his own words, I'm -- I'm actually reluctant to believe this because it is such a stunning statement. And it is -- it's such a moment of, I don't know, unvarnished something, candor? But I'm waiting to hear it from the president's mouth. Because it -- I -- I can't believe that the President of the United States would have just said (ph) --

BERMAN: You -- you know what happens in North Korea if you don't sit up and listen to the supreme leader?

CAMEROTA: Something bad?

BERMAN: You get shot.

CAMEROTA: Yes.

BERMAN: Right. I mean, you get shot. And the President of the United States is, I guess, lamenting the fact that he can't elicit a similar reaction in the United States. We're trying to get that sound together so you can listen to it. But it -- it is illustrative, Van, of the state of mind of the president here.

JONES: Yes. Listen, I -- I try not to overreact. And sometimes I feel like, you know, we -- you know, we -- every tweet, everything -- everything, it's just they're all upset or whatever. And then -- then, you know, babies are being, you know, ripped away from their mothers at the borders. And we're already at 10 all the time, so there's no 11 to go to.

So I really try -- liberals get mad at me because I don't overreact to everything. This is very, very horrible. It's unacceptable. The entire point of this country is that people don't sit up and pay attention to the leaders, the leaders sit up and pay attention to the people. That's the entire point.

That's the whole model is that it's the people who stand up and the leaders who respond, and the leaders who take the people seriously. If he wants the reverse, there are plenty of countries he can go and visit, and stay there. I would suggest that he start looking around.

CAMEROTA: All right. Gentlemen, thank you very much for being here with us. Obviously, we'll get that sound for everyone as soon as we possibly have it. But, in the meantime, be sure to watch Van Jones' show tomorrow on CNN at 7:00 p.m. Eastern. Kim Kardashian and Seth Meyers, that looks like a great show.

BERMAN: You'll sit up and listen, just like the president wants.

CAMEROTA: Indeed, I will. CNN Newsroom with Poppy Harlow will pick up after this quick break. Have a great weekend, everyone.

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