Return to Transcripts main page


U.S. Immigration Crisis; Manafort Goes to Jail; Tariff Troubles between U.S. and China; World Cup 2018. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired June 16, 2018 - 02:00   ET




CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): Nearly 2,000 children separated from their parents as they crossed from Mexico into the U.S. Donald Trump faces mounting criticism over his immigration policy.

The world's two biggest economies move toward a trade war. The U.S. and China promise to punish each other with tariffs.

And Cristiano Ronaldo with a statement at the World Cup, scoring not one, not two but three times in Portugal's opening against Spain.

Live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. It's great to have you with us.


VANIER: We are now seeing some of the controversial effects of the Trump administration's hardline immigration policy. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the border with Mexico over just six weeks from mid-April through May.

They're now living in temporary shelters. The separation of families is the result of the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy, where adults face criminal charges when they enter the U.S. illegally. U.S. president Donald Trump falsely blamed Democrats.


TRUMP: The Democrats gave us the laws. Now I want the laws to be beautiful, humane but strong. I don't want bad people coming in. I don't want drugs coming in. And we can solve that problem in one meeting. Tell the Democrats, your friends, to call me, OK?


VANIER: Well, Democrats did not force the practice on anyone. The increase in family separations, in fact, occurred after the administration decided to prosecute offenders. The Trump administration says the policy was meant to deter families from attempting to enter the U.S. illegally but they're still coming.

Our Ed Lavandera witnessed a group of undocumented immigrants being taken into Border Patrol custody.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to see people moving through the thick south Texas vegetation. The Rio Grande rolls by just beyond the tree line. And then just like that they appear out of the brush, a small group of undocumented immigrants walking into a public park.

We just came across this group of undocumented immigrants here in the town of Mission, Texas. Two adults, four children just finished crossing the Rio Grande here a little while ago. And now they're in the custody of Border Patrol.

This group is actually made of three different groups. They say they met along the journey from Honduras and decided to enter the United States together. Border Patrol agents give them water and they sit in the shade as they wait for a vehicle to take them to a Border Patrol station.

There's Jonathan Ariel, 11 years old. He says he left Honduras with cousins but they abandoned him along the way. He says his mother lives in Virginia and told him not to make this journey alone but now he is here.

"I told her I wanted to come," he says, "but she said it's very dangerous."

Are you scared?

"A little," he says.

It's a brief conversation that leaves you with many more questions about how a young boy can get to this point. As an unaccompanied minor, he will likely end up for the time being in a children's shelter like this one as federal authorities try to connect the boy with his mother.

The rest of this group is made up of two adult women with their children.

Dalia Sayupa (ph) is 24 years old and she crossed the border with her little boy.

Why did you come?

She says gang members left a note at her home threatening to kill her and that is when she decided to flee.

Are you afraid they're going to separate you from your children?

"Yes, he is my son and I love him," she says. "I have carried him throughout my journey."

Dalia says she did not know she might be separated from her son once she was taken into custody in the United States but she says I have nothing in Honduras. The families are loaded up and taken away, unsure of what happens next.

The question now is, what happens to these young children?

Jonathan, the 11-year-old you saw in the piece, he gave me his mother's cellphone number in Virginia. I was able to speak with her and she told me immigration authorities have already reached out to her and they would talk to her tomorrow to figure out what happens next.

As far as the two adult women and their children, what happens to them is very much up in the air. Even though the Trump administration says this is a zero tolerance policy and the plan is to prosecute 100 percent of the people crossing the border illegally, the fact is that isn't happening yet.

But federal officials will not say how exactly it's determined as to who gets prosecuted and separated from their children and who is released and allowed to move on. They won't explain how those decisions are made.

So the fate of those two women --


LAVANDERA: -- that you saw in the story, with those children, as far as we know tonight, it's still very much up in the air -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, McAllen, Texas.



VANIER: Advocacy groups have criticized this immigration policy and that includes Human Rights Watch. I'm joined now by Alison Leal Parker, managing director for Human Rights Watch in the U.S.

We have the official numbers, Alison, from the Department of Homeland Security. Almost 2,000 children were separated from their parents over a six-week period.

Your reaction to that?

ALISON LEAL PARKER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: That's right. This is a conscious choice by the Trump administration to violate the fundamental rights of these children, of their families and of people who are fleeing persecution; in other words, refugees.

VANIER: Listen to the U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions.


JEFF SESSIONS (R), U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If we have laws -- and we do have laws and Congress has passed the INA, the Immigration Nationalation (sic) Act, then they need to be enforced. And it's nothing wrong about that. And we need to tell the world, please don't come unlawfully. Make

your application. Wait your turn.


VANIER: So a couple different things here. But the first thing he says is essentially we're just enforcing the laws.

Is there a United States law that requires this the separation of children from their parents?

PARKER: There is no American law that requires this. And, in fact, the United States law is rather clear, that family unity is a very important principle in domestic law, as it is in international law.

VANIER: I wonder whether you have a perspective on the second point he was making, which is that this is essentially signaling to potential migrants that they shouldn't come because there is what would happen to them.

Do you know if that is the kind of thing that works?

PARKER: Human Rights Watch has worked in Honduras and El Salvador and Guatemala and many of the countries from which these immigrants are coming and asylum seekers are coming.

And the bottom line is, if you're fleeing for your life, this type of treatment, while reprehensible and a conscious choice by this administration, not required under U.S. law. However, if you're fleeing for your life, these kinds of policies are not going to stop these people from coming.

VANIER: Donald Trump says he hates seeing this. He hates the kids being separated from the parents. But he says it's the Democrats' fault.

Now under the previous administration, did you see anything even remotely like this?

PARKER: Under the previous administration, there were criminal prosecutions of people for the so-called crimes of illegal entry and re-entry. But they were in no way targeting asylum seekers or 100 percent of those who attempt to cross the border and place their claims for asylum, which is what we're talking about now.

We're looking at a situation where the administration says that it wants to eventually prosecute 100 percent of those people who are live at the border crossings, that are in between ports of entry.

We're thinking right now, even with this 2,000 number, they've only been prosecuting that 60 percent. So this problem is going to get much worse.

VANIER: Yes, they have a so-called zero tolerance policy. And they are trying to get up to that number of 100 percent of prosecutions.

Is there a way to deal with these families that does not involve separating the children?

PARKER: Absolutely. Under previous administrations, there was a policy, at the bare minimum, ensuring that families were detained together. Human Rights Watch takes a position that children should never be detained unless it is a matter of last resort.

But under previous administrations, there were policies, in which some families were detained together; again, we did not support those policies. But at least we didn't have families being ripped part.

You know, just 45 minutes ago, I spoke to a colleague, who left one of these CBP lockups. He spoke with an aunt, who was separated from her 4-year-old niece. The niece was left alone. The aunt was taken away for prosecution. Ultimately, they were not able to prosecute her.


VANIER: How old did you say was the niece?


How old did you say --

PARKER: The niece was 4 years old.

VANIER: And she was left alone?

PARKER: She was left behind alone. She was asleep and her aunt was taken out of that facility. The aunt was desperate.

She spoke to my colleague and asked, "Where is my niece? Where is my niece?"

A few days later, my colleague found the niece, who had been taken care of by a couple of other kids, teenagers who had been left behind in the same holding cell by CBP. My colleague made such a fuss that eventually this aunt and her niece were reunited.

But these stories of separation are going to only continue. And they're a horrendous stain on the hands of all of us living in the United States, frankly.

VANIER: So under the watch -- I just want to underscore this -- under the watch of U.S. law enforcement, a 4-year-old girl was being cared for, for days, by teenagers.

That is what your colleague saw?

PARKER: That is what my colleague saw. He also just left an interview with a 5-year old, who said to him, "Where is my mother? I haven't seen her. Can you tell me when I'll see her again?"

Nobody knows where the mother is.

VANIER: All right. Alison Leal Parker, thank you very much.

I would like to point out also that Donald Trump said early Friday that he actually wasn't open to compromise on this particular issue.

Thank you.


VANIER: President Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort is now behind bars. The federal judge revoked his bail on Friday after special counsel Robert Mueller's office charged him with witness tampering. The judge said, quote --


VANIER: -- "This is not middle school. I can't take his cellphone away."

Manafort waved to his wife before U.S. marshals led him away. Manafort has pleaded not guilty. President Trump calls the jailing "very unfair."

One of the president's most trusted confidants has been his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. He's under criminal investigation in Manhattan. And now there are indications that Cohen may be changing his tune about the president. Our Athena Jones has that.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good luck, Mr. Cohen.


ATHENA JONES, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Tonight, a source tells CNN President Trump's longtime personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen, has indicated to family and friends that he is willing to cooperate with the feds to alleviate pressure on himself and his family.

He is under criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in the Southern District of New York for his personal financial dealings, including the $130,000 payment he made to porn star Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 election to keep her quiet about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump.

Cohen has expressed anger with the treatment he has gotten from the president, who has minimized his relationship with Cohen, according to the source.

TRUMP: Look, I did nothing wrong. You have to understand, this stuff would have come out a long time ago. I did nothing wrong.

QUESTION: Is Michael Cohen still your friend?


TRUMP: He's really nice.

QUESTION: Is he still your friend?

TRUMP: I always liked Michael Cohen. I haven't spoken to Michael in a long time.

QUESTION: Is he still your lawyer?

TRUMP: No, he's not my lawyer anymore. But I always liked Michael.

JONES: Trump suggesting he is not concerned about Cohen potentially flipping, though, in recent months, he seemed to be trying to inoculate himself in case his now former lawyer does decide to cooperate with investigators, tweeting in April: "Most people will flip if the government lets them out of trouble, even if it means lying or making up stories."

Cohen is also unhappy with comments made by Rudy Giuliani, one of the newest members of the president's legal team, all of which has left him feeling isolated and more open to cooperating, although he has not met with prosecutors to discuss any potential deal, the source said.

The latest development coming on the heels of Cohen losing his request made late Thursday for an immediate restraining order against Daniels' lawyer, Michael Avenatti.

MICHAEL AVENATTI, ATTORNEY FOR STORMY DANIELS: I'm not deterred. I'm not going to be gagged. I mean, this is a search for the truth.

JONES: Cohen arguing what he called Avenatti's publicity tour, dozens of television interviews and hundreds of tweets is, quote, "likely to result in Mr. Cohen being deprived of his right to a fair trial."

The judge declined to grant an immediate restraining order. But he did set a meeting for a briefing for later this month and will make a final decision afterwards.

Meanwhile, Cohen is in the midst of changing his legal team, seeking lawyers with experience appearing before judges in the Southern District of New York -- Athena Jones, CNN, New York.


VANIER: Coming up, the U.S. tariffs against China will soon be on and vice versa. A few weeks from now, the two largest economies in the world could be at each other's throats in an all-out trade war.






VANIER: The U.S. and China are now on a collision course to a full-on trade war. Three weeks from now, July 6th, both countries will impose punishing tariffs on billions of dollars of goods from each other. That prospect spooked the financial markets on Friday, the Dow dropping about 280 points before recovering to finish 84 points down.

A big question is, why this is happening now?

China seems as confused as anyone. But the issue seems crystal clear in the mind of the U.S. president.


TRUMP: We're putting tariffs on $50 billion worth of technology and other things because we have to because we've been treated very unfairly.

But China has been terrific. President Xi has been terrific, President Moon, everybody. We're all working together because of me.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): China is consistent in its stance that, if the U.S. side adopts any unilateral protectionist measures and damages China's interests, we will immediately react and take necessary measures.



VANIER: With me now to discuss this is Eswar Prasad, senior fellow at Brookings Institution and professor of trade policy at Cornell University.

Eswar, the first thing I want to consider is whether a trade war is actually necessary to achieve Donald Trump's goals. He blames China for unfairly getting its hands on American intellectual property. Listen to the president on Friday morning.


TRUMP: We have the great brain power in Silicon Valley and China and others steal those secrets and we're going to protect those secrets. Those are crown jewels for this country.


VANIER: Past American presidents have raised this very same issue with China over the years but it never stopped.

So is a trade war the only way for this?

ESWAR PRASAD, CORNELL UNIVERSITY: There is a legitimate case to be made that China may not have played by the rules in terms of providing market access to American companies, providing investment opportunities for American investors, all protecting intellectual property right of American firms operating in China.

But, unfortunately, tariffs are a terrible way to go about achieving the objectives that the U.S. really wants. What will have been far more effective --


VANIER: But past administrations have tried negotiating and it didn't change China's behavior.

PRASAD: Certainly China is not going to be very easy to move because it has suited them very well. But will have been more effective would have been to form an alliance with a number of other countries that are trading partners of China -- Japan, the European Union and so forth -- who have very similar concerns.

That would be one way to increase pressure on China and get them to move because the U.S. is an important market for China. But getting all of the trading partners of China on the same side of the U.S. would, I think, have been far more effective than imposing tariffs, which is just inviting retaliation.

VANIER: That's very interesting because you mentioned the European Union, there's also Canada in that lot. And those are just the countries that Mr. Trump alienated just last week at the G7 summit.

As you say, they do share Mr. Trump's concerns when it comes to China's trade practices. The other thing Mr. Trump blames China for is the trade imbalance. Now this is one that's harder for me to understand. China sells more goods to the United States than the United States sells to China. I get that.

But how is that unfair?

PRASAD: It's not obviously unfair. Economists like to say that what really drives a country's trade deficits are that country's economic policies. If the country saves much less than it invests, it is going to be running a trade deficit with the rest of the world and with specific countries.

So sometimes it may be a sign of strength, not necessarily a sign of weakness. But Mr. Trump seems to view this as unfair trade. He does see trade as essentially a zero-sum game, which it's not.

But ultimately it's going to be U.S. policies, including tax policies that affect the bonding of the U.S. government that are going to determine the U.S. saving rate, which, in turn, is going to drive the trade deficit with every one of America's trading partners.

VANIER: Donald Trump always uses this metric of the trade imbalance that he has with Canada, with the European Union, with China. He always uses that as the bellwether for whether a trade relationship with a given country is fair or unfair in his eyes.

Do you think that's something he should be trying to fix?

Or if I understand correctly what you're saying, he shouldn't even be addressing that because it's not a problem?

PRASAD: That's a very unfortunate and incorrect way to frame the problem, certainly one can argue that the U.S.' low saving rate because the household saving rate is low. And the government is borrowing a lot right now, especially with the recent tax cut. And that's the problem that needs to be fixed.

The fact that there's a lot of investment in the U.S., including investment financed by foreigners, is a good thing.

But the low saving rate is a problem and one needs to think about policies to fix that and to fix American productivity. So going after trading partners that's selling us more goods and, by the way, not only do they provide us more goods but also provide financing to buy those goods.


PRASAD: That's not a good frame of reference for what needs to be fixed in the U.S. economy.

There are certainly some issues that need to be fixed in the international trading system. But trade deficits are not the right thing to focus on.

VANIER: All right, Eswar Prasad, thank you very much. It's always a pleasure and enlightening to talk to you. Thank you.

PRASAD: Thank you.

VANIER: Coming up, an unforgettable match at the World Cup. Spain versus Portugal, it went down to the wire.




VANIER: Day two of the World Cup in Russia and it saw a thrilling showdown between Portugal and Spain. The Iberian powerhouses played to an epic finale, including some dramatic late-game action from superstar Cristiano Ronaldo. Here's CNN's Don Riddell to break it all down.


DON RIDDELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: The World Cup needs great games and big storylines. And within two days of this tournament starting in Russia, we are already spoiled for choice.


RIDDELL (voice-over): Friday's match between Portugal and Spain in Sochi was an instant classic. After only three minutes, Portugal took the lead. Cristiano Ronaldo dusted himself down to slam it into the back of the net.

But their lead didn't last long. Diego Costa outmuscled his master Pepe to (INAUDIBLE).

So what if they fired their manager on Wednesday?

There was no time to dwell on it. Portugal regained the lead, Ronaldo again, though, this time, thanks to an error from (INAUDIBLE). Ronaldo plays for Real Madrid, Costa is the front man at Atletico (INAUDIBLE). His second of the game tying it up at 2-2. All of this, though, was just the buildup to two phenomenal goals.

(INAUDIBLE) had given away the (INAUDIBLE) penalty he made up for it with a belter, Spain 3-2 (INAUDIBLE) on the verge of victory until Ronaldo lined up a free kick (INAUDIBLE) and that was sensational.

A Ronaldo hat trick, 3-3 the scoreline, one of the best World Cup games we've seen in years.


Elsewhere in the group, a huge win for Iran. And it came at the expense of Morocco, whose week is just going from bad to worse. They lost the bid to host the World Cup in 2026. And with a draw in sight, they threw that away in St. Petersburg.


RIDDELL (voice-over): It was goalless until the very last minute but somehow and devastatingly as these (INAUDIBLE) spectacularly headed the ball into his own goal.

Can you imagine how it must have felt to do that?

But for Iran, it was incredible, their first World Cup win since 1998.


RIDDELL: And then some people fancy Uruguay to do a bit of damage in Russia in Luis Suarez (ph) and Edison Cavani (ph). They have got one of the best front lines in the tournament. Friday's opponents in their group were Egypt, a team who have never won a World Cup game.


RIDDELL (voice-over): In the closing stages, Uruguay upped the ante, peppering the goal until Jose Jimenez headed home. A free kick in the last minute, it was a dramatic winner and the emotion was palpable but bitterly disappointing for Egypt and Mohamed Salah, who never came off the bench.


RIDDELL: All the drama continues with four games on Saturday. Look out for Lionel Messi's Argentina against the tournament's new boys, Iceland. That should be great. Back to you. (END VIDEOTAPE)

VANIER: Don Riddell there from CNN "WORLD SPORT."

Now a dust --


VANIER: -- storm larger than the continent of North America is rapidly growing across Mars and it is threatening NASA's Opportunity rover. Meteorologist Derek Van Dam loves this stuff. So do we.

Derek, what's going on?

DEREK VAN DAM, AMS METEOROLOGIST: This is a solar-powered rover, by the way. And because of this dust storm, it has plunged the rover into darkness, so it's not getting the light it requires to operate. Unfortunately, the rover has fallen silent as a result. So NASA is not able to communicate with the rover that you're looking at right now on your TV screen.

It is called the NASA Mars Opportunity rover. And it's apparently put itself into a low-power fault mode, turning off everything but its internal clock in an effort to conservative energy. This dust storm encircles the entire planet. This is a milestone. Only about a dozen of these Martian dust storms have ever achieved in recorded history.

This is what it looks like on a typical day in Mars. You can see the good visibility, you can see some of the craters on the actual planet. But this is the latest global dust storm that has been encircling the entire planet, 18 million square kilometers.

This is incredible, because we're talking about the size of North America combined. That's how large this dust storm is.

Incredible, right?

So look at this imagery from the Opportunity rover, showing the sun in early June, how it's getting blotted out because of the thickness of the dust. And the current view, that's completely gone dark.

And, unfortunately, because this is a solar-powered vehicle, this is not allowing the vehicle to operate appropriately. So the power levels have dropped significantly, in fact, from 645 watt hours to 22 watt hours, which is significant.

That is why it's gone into this low-power mode and that is why NASA is having difficulty communicating. They are optimistic. They believe that the dust storm will eventually settle, Cyril, and then they'll start to regain hopefully some communication.

And by the way, this mission was only supposed to last 90 days. It's been monitoring Mars for 14 years.

VANIER: Derek Van Dam, I love it. Thank you very much. Continued success for rover. We hope it gets over the dust storm. Thank you, Derek.

VAN DAM: Thanks.

VANIER: And thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I've got the headlines for you l just a moment. Stay with us.




VANIER: Welcome back. Let's look at those headlines.