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Dems Rip Zero Tolerance Immigration Policy; Trump Administration Fires Back; Earthquake Strikes Japan; CNN Goes Inside Texas Processing Center; U.S. Business Brace For Pain From Trade Fight; Stone And Caputo Admit Meeting Russian National; Golfer's Rare Feat; Trump Defends Halting Military Drills. Aired 4-4:30a ET

Aired June 18, 2018 - 04:00   ET




SEN. JEFF MERKLEY, (D), OREGON: They call it zero tolerance, but a better name for it is zero humanity.


DAVE BRIGGS, EARLY START SHOW CO-HOST: Democrats lawmakers point the finger at the Trump administration after their firsthand look at the immigration centers near the U.S./Mexico border.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, EARLY START SHOW CO-HOST: The Trump administration fires back though, blaming Democrats and the media insisting there is no policy separating migrant families at the border.

BRIGGS: And breaking overnight. A deadly earthquake in Japan kills at least three people and injures a dozen more, could actually been an earthquake in Mexico. Christine Romans comes by a World Cup match, we will talk about that later. Good Monday morning, welcome back to "Early start." I'm Dave Briggs.

ROMANS: And I'm Christine Romans. It is Monday, June 18. It is 4:00 a.m. in the East. Good morning everyone.

Republicans are set to vote on two immigration bills this week, and the White House tries to deflect the growing outrage over its zero tolerance towards border policy by blaming it on Democrats.

Administration critics accusing the President of separating migrant children from their families for political leverage and here is why. The President tweeting over the weekend, Democrats can fix their forced family break ups at the border by working with Republicans on new legislation for a change. This is why we need more Republicans elected in November. Democrats are good on only three things. High taxes, high crime and obstruction. Sad.

BRIGGS: The President later adding, the Democrats should get together with their Republican counterparts and work something out on border security and safety. Don't wait until after the election, because you are going on to lose. Some of Democratic lawmakers chose Father's Day for the tour of the Southern Texas border and its detention centers there and they got a firsthand look at the impact of this zero tolerance policy. More now from CNN's Nick Valencia in Brownsville, Texas.


NICK VALENCIA, CNN NEWS CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, this is one of the last stop for Democratic lawmakers as they did their Father's Day tour of processing centers along the U.S. Mexico border. They said their intention was to highlight the zero tolerance immigration policy currently implemented by President Trump, but what they called it. After seeing what they saw inside this facilities, is zero humanity.

MERKLEY: There is zero logic to this policy. The administration is arguing that by inflicting this harm on children and parents, this stress, that they are sending the message -- a deterrent message for people not to seek asylum in the United States. It is completely unacceptable under any moral code or any religious tradition to injure children, inflict trauma on them in order to send some political message to adults somewhere overseas. The President is also arguing in the last few days, that this policy gives him political leverage with legislation. Hurting kids to get legislative leverage is unacceptable. It is evil.

VALENCIA: One of the Democratic lawmakers on this Father's Day tour was Congressman, Pete Welsh of Vermont. And so far he says that there has been 2,000 children separated from their families over the course of the last six weeks. I asked him if he has heard of any plans to reunite the children with parents. He said right now there is uncertainty. Dave and Christine.


BRIGGS: All right. Nick Valencia there in Texas. Homeland Security Secretary, Kirstjen Nielsen, trying to diffuse the controversy over the zero tolerance border policy, taking to Twitter last night, accusing the press, advocacy groups and even members of Congress of quote irresponsible and unproductive reporting. She falsely claims, we do not have a policy of separating families at the border, period. She goes on to say there is no reason to illegally cross between ports of entry for anyone seeking asylum.

ROMANS: CNN has a firsthand look at an immigrant processing center in Texas inside the cold and dark scene. Families brought through a warehouse like facility separated by gender. One woman in tears terrified about what might happen next. Dianne Gallagher has more from Texas.


DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Christine, this right here is the Rio Grande Valley Centralized Processing Center. They have a greater intake at this sector than any other on the border area in Texas. At this point, more families have been separated leaving this facility than any other in the country since the zero tolerance policy went into effect last month. 1,774 children have left this facility being separated from their parents. And that is why Senators Merkley and Senator Van Hollen as well as other members of the House came to tour this facility. We did the same. I went inside and I am going to be very frank with you. It is sort of a de facto prison.

It is a holding area. It is a pen. And you have the 12-foot chain linked pens that are holding families. If it is a father with small children, they are in this one large pen. If it is a mother with small children, they are in a different large pen.

[04:05:14] There are also almost 600 unaccompanied minors who are being held in the facility at this point. Now that number changes all the time, because they are constantly moving people in and out. This is a processing facility. They are only supposed to be here for about 72 hours. Some of the people I talked to in here, they were here for four or five days. So that does vary.

And when I talked to border patrol agents, they said look, this zero tolerance policy, it is requiring a lot more paper work, because of prosecution. In fact we are not doing every single person when they came in here before. So there is more paper work. It is creating a little bit of a lag sometimes. We have people, but we're strained. The Senators who came here, they went to another facility in Texas as well. You know, Dave and Christine, they are hoping that this type of political pressure, describing what is happening here, will potentially put pressure on the President and that he will rescind the policy or tell it not to be enforce anymore.


ROMANS: All right. Dianne Gallagher, thanks. We got the president says, this is a Democrats policy and the Democrats has to fix it.

The first lady is also entering the immigration debate. In a rare statement on policy issue, Melania Trump's spokesperson tells CNN, Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from their families. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws, but also a country that governs with heart. The first lady said, she is hopeful both sides of the aisle will come together to achieve successful immigration reform.

BRIGGS: Laura Bush is lashing out at the Trump administration for separating children from their parents. It is rare indeed for the former first lady to weigh on the politics, or to criticize administration since her husband left office.

But in Sunday opinion piece in the Washington Post, she writes, quote, I live in a border state. I appreciate the need to enforce and protect our international borders, boundaries, but this zero tolerance policy is cruel, it is immoral and it breaks my heart.

ROMANS: Kellyanne Conway claims nobody in the White House likes the policy of separating migrant children from their parents, but the president's senior adviser, bristles after suggestion. The Trump administration is using the practice to force Democrats to the table on border security.


KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: As a mother, as a catholic, as somebody who has a conscience and would not say the junk that somebody said apparently allegedly. I would tell you that nobody likes this policy. So does the president's on camera that he wants this to end, but everybody has -- Congress has to act.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He can end it on his own.

CONWAY: Chuck, Congress passed a law that it is a crime. This is a congressional law from many years ago. It is a crime to enter this country illegally. So, if they don't like that law, they should change it.


ROMANS: Separating the migrant families is a policy announced by the Trump administration this spring. The White House has not and apparently cannot identify any law -- specific law that requires the separation of children from their parents, once they enter the country illegally.

BRIGGS: Tragic highway crash not far from the U.S./Mexico border. The sheriff of (inaudible) County Texas, says U.S. border patrol was chasing a vehicle at about a 100 miles per hour and when it ran off the road and flipped several times. Police say the vehicle was packed with undocumented immigrants. Four people died at the scene. A fifth person later died in a hospital in San Antonio.

ROMANS: It is such a tragedy. All right. Eight minutes past the hour. Global stocks falling overnight as the U.S. and China inch closer to an all-out trade war. The White House says China tariffs are back on, punishment for stealing U.S. tech and trade secrets plans to slap 25 percent tariff on $50 billion in Chinese exports targeting tech industries. Beijing vows to dominate. Xi Jinping's very own made in China 2025 initiative, think aerospace, robotics manufacturing cars. Beijing retaliates and immediately accusing the U.S. of launching a trade war. And they are targeting high value American export, soybeans, pork, cars and crude oil. The farm products are strategic, they hit states that supported Trump. Chinese soybean tariffs could cost Iowa farmers, $624 million. Such as Trump country, some big U.S. companies are also caught in the middle.

American computer chip makers who say they will be hurt by the U.S. tariffs. A U.S. companies send finished chips to China for testing. Now, those chips face tariffs when they are shipped back to United States. Trump also hurt companies that do big business in China like Boeing and Caterpillar. Shares of both fell Friday. China, a critical market for Boeing, America's biggest exporter. It expects to make $1 trillion in China over the next 20 years.

BRIGGS: All right. Ahead a strong earthquake hits the Japanese city during rush hour with deadly results. We will have details next.


ROMANS: Welcome back. 13 minutes past the hour. At least three people are dead and more than 70 others injured after a 5.3 magnitude earthquake hit Osaka, Japan last night. Government officials say a nine year-old girl and an adult male were killed by collapsing walls. We are also getting reports at major travel delays in the region with train service is suspended across Osaka.

BRIGGS: The FBI agent removed from the Russia probe for anti-Trump text is willing to testify before congress. On Friday, the House Judiciary Committee started processing a subpoena to compel Peter Strzok to testify, but his lawyers making it clear. The subpoena is not necessary. He says, Strzok, who President Trump calls on Twitter a sick loser will voluntarily testify before any committee it ask.

ROMANS: Ex-trump associate Roger Stone tells CNN he met with a Russian national in May of 2016 and was offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton in exchange for $2 million. Stone and former Trump campaign communication officials, Michael Caputo, now claimed the meeting was part of a larger effort by law enforcement to set up the Trump campaign.

[04:15:05] Both man accusing the Russian national for being a FBI informant. Stone has denied contact with the Russian from the past and says no information was exchange and the offer was turned down.

BRIGGS: Rudy Giuliani says President Trump will not issue any pardons during the Russia investigation. But he is not ruling out the possibility once the investigation is over. Here is what Guiliani told CNN's Jake Tapper on "State of the union."


RUDY GUILIANI, ATTORNEY FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: The President has issued no pardons in this investigation. The President is not going to issue pardons in this investigation. He retains his pardoning power. Nobody has taken that away from him. He can pardon in his judgment based on the Justice Department counsel's office. Not me.


BRIGGS: Giuliani continues to insist the Russia investigation is compromised. He said pardons could be used by the president, if he believes that someone was treated unfairly.

ROMANS: President Trump is defending his decision to suspend joint military exercises with South Korea after a Singapore summit with Kim Jong-un. The President has claimed the drills were costly and provocative. He calls them war game, how is that playing in South Korea. CNN's Nic Robertson live in Seoul with very latest. It caught a lot of people attention, what the president is using the very language that America's adversary use about those drills, since defensive drills are meant are meant to be -- to show what 3the American and South Koreans are ready -- combat ready in that region. The President calls them war games. How is that playing in Seoul now?

NIC ROBERTSON, SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, there have been a lot of questions asked of the military here. because there were rumors over the weekend that there was perhaps some new North/South Korean agreement on the pull back of possible heavy weapons around the DMZ and around the border area. That the military here says is completely not true. They are also pushing back on rumors that had been going around here this weekend. That there will be agreement between the South Korea and United States on these joint military exercises.

But the word in South Korea here, the official word here is that there is no deal yet. This is something that they don't want to speculate about, they don't want to comment about it at the moment. They are not saying whether or not this deal can be reached by the end of the week. What we are hearing and South Korean foreign minister spoke to Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, early this morning, Korea time, late last night in the United States. They spoke for about 20 minutes. Extensively we understand to, you know, to make sure that their communication and coordination is going well to appraise each other of the steps that had been taken since that big summit last week and also on the South Korean side to, you know, to reiterate that they want to remain engaged in a step by step process with the United States on the decisions it makes which affects South Korea. So, I think what we are hearing from the South Koreans side, is there is no agreement yet on this demilitarize -- on these a -- stopping of the joint military exercises.

However, I think the expectation here in old plan is that is going to happen. South Korea sending its Deputy foreign minister to Washington early this week. Christine.

ROMANS: All right. Nic, for us, thank you so much. In Seoul this morning. Thank you. Evening there.

BRIGGS: So many interviews with the President over that. You just wonder the language. Where did he get the language? No one in his administration calls them provocative war games. No one.

ROMANS: I know, and he said on Friday -- he said, this is my term. He was told by reporters, you know, this is what the North Koreans call it, this is what the Chines call it, and this is what our adversaries call it. He said no, I made that up.

BRIGGS: Ha, interesting. All right, ahead, a history making win at the United States Open. Something we have not seen in nearly three decades. History next.


ROMANS: Angelina Jolie visited Mosul, Iraq over the weekend. She is raising awareness about the humanitarian crisis in a city nearly one year after its liberation from ISIS. The actress toured bombed out streets and met with displaced families. During her visit, Jolie, urged the international community to not forget Mosul and to take care of its people as they recover from years of suffering. BRIGGS: For the first time in 29 years, as a repeat champion at the

U.S. Open. 28-year-old Brooks Koepka. The last man standing Sunday at Shinnecock Hills, Koepka is the first golfer to win the event, back-to-back since Curtis Strange in 1988-89. He tried to fond around 68 to finish it one over par, one shot ahead of Tommy Fleetwood, who fire a final round of 63. Koepka becomes only the seventh player ever to win consecutive U.S. Open, he takes home a first prize of $2.1 million bucks.

ROMANS: World Cup soccer fans in Mexico were celebrating so hard on Sunday, they may have triggered an artificial earthquake. The only goal in Mexico's 1-0 victory over reigning champion Germany, two monitoring stations in Mexico City detected the ground shaking. So did a station in Chile. Experts say, the artificial induce quake registered about a 2.0 on the Richter scale. Too small to be notice.

BRIGGS: What an incredible weekend. It was at the World Cup, Iceland drawing against Argentina, Brazil's 1-1. It was just a stunning weekend.

Meanwhile, a stunning weekend at the box office. "Incredibles 2."


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, yes. This one's electric.

BRIGGS: Oh, yes it is right. The Incredibles 2 enjoying the most profitable opening of all time for an animated film. Wrecking in $180 million. Industry analyst expected 40 to 60 million dollars less. Incredibles 2, knocks "Finding Dory" out of the number one all time spot. According to Disney 31 percent of the opening weekend audience was adults. 94 percent on rotten tomatoes. I really want to see that. You?

[04:25:24] ROMANS: I want to, I think, look, it is a kiddie event --

BRIGGS: 14 years, I think in the making. Loved the first one.

ROMANS: All right. 25 minutes past the hour. A critical week for immigration begins in Washington with Republicans voting on two key bills and two first ladies weigh in on the zero tolerance policies that lead to some families being separated at the border.



MERKLEY: They call it zero tolerance, but a better name for it is zero humanity.