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Interview with Anthony Scaramucci; Trump Administration Criticized for Separating Immigrant Children from Parents at U.S. Border; Dems Slam Trump Policy After Touring Immigrant Detention Centers; Outrage Grows Over U.S. Separating Immigrant Families; CNN Spotlights Change Makers. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 18, 2018 - 8:00   ET

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


[08:00:00] ANTHONY SCARAMUCCI, FOUNDER AND PARTNER, SKYBRIDGE CAPITAL: That is just my opinion based on my observation inside the campaign and as one of his executive transition committee members.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: And I think that is a valuable perspective that you have. But there have been now 11 people according to the "Washington Post" when the crunched the numbers who met with Russians and didn't necessarily disclose it to investigators.

SCARAMUCCI: I got the point, but there have been 23 people that have either been indicted or pled guilty related to situations going on with the Russians. But the real question I think the American people want to know is did their president do anything collusive as related to outside international government? And I think the answer is definitely no. We are 16, 17 months into the investigation. Let's let the investigation play itself out.

I believe that the president will be exonerated as will the people that were in his inner circle. As it relates to Roger Stone, I have a good personal relationship with Roger. I like roger. I take him at his word that it didn't go any further and that he didn't speak to the president about it. And we'll have to see what happens as it relates to the Mueller investigation who is going to charge or not charge relative to the facts that you guys are describing.

CAMEROTA: Last question, it seems like Kellyanne Conway's husband doesn't like President Trump because of this tweet. There are very serious allegations here and they should be referred to the United States attorney's office for the southern district of New York. He's responding to a "New York Times" piece in which experts say it was likely the Trump Foundation and President Trump violated federal campaign laws. Why is he weighing in?

SCARAMUCCI: I don't know. James Carville married Mary Matalin. Sometimes opposites attract, Alisyn.

CAMEROTA: But is it a problem when Kellyanne Conway, top adviser --

SCARAMUCCI: Look at the love affair me and Chris Cuomo have.

CAMEROTA: I've tried to stay away from that.

SCARAMUCCI: So if you look at my love affair with Chris Cuomo it could be identical to Kellyanne and George.

CAMEROTA: I want to ask you about their marriage. Disturbing on so many levels.

SCARAMUCCI: I'm just making the point that people can have difference of opinions, people can still get along. I like George a great deal. Kellyanne has done an amazing job for President Trump.

CAMEROTA: I understand, but does it sabotage her in some ways? She's a top adviser at the White House and her husband is tweeting about all the problems within the White House.

SCARAMUCCI: This is a network that actually believes in the First Amendment and the ability to express people's opinion. I don't know every single couple that has political ideology perfectly. There are a lot of things my wife and I disagree with politically.

CAMEROTA: Understood, but to publicly say it in the way George Conway is, do you think that is somehow impeding Kellyanne's work?

SCARAMUCCI: I actually don't because I think at the end of the day the president probably respects the independence of opinion. Kellyanne has been very faithful and very loyal to the president's agenda. She is if not his best communicator, she's in the top one or two in terms of best communicators. She helped him get elected. He won 52 percent of the white female vote.

CAMEROTA: I get it, so whatever her husband does, if he wants to free lance --

SCARAMUCCI: He is not in the administration. Maybe he will be in the Chris Cuomo administration some day.

CAMEROTA: You can't let him go.

SCARAMUCCI: No, no, no, you brought him up.

CAMEROTA: You can't quit him, cannot quit Chris Cuomo.

SCARAMUCCI: You are a lot more fun Alisyn. You can tell him I said that.

CAMEROTA: I will. He's listening right now. Anthony, great to see you. Thanks so much for coming in. Nice to talk to you.

OK, John?

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Certainly not opposites attract in that case. Let's just establish that right now. Alisyn, thank you very much. Say hello to Anthony for me over there.

Joining me now, CNN national security commentary Mike Rogers, CNN senior political reporter Nia-Malika Henderson. We just had a little bit of a news feast there, Nia, with Anthony Scaramucci who flat out said that the White House decision which has led to the separate of children and parents at the border, is atrocious policy. Anthony says it's very bad for the Republican Party and very bad for the president. Is the president facing now pressure not just from the left, not within the media, not just now from the evangelical community, but from within his own political house to fix this in.

NIA-MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: It would seem so. That was a really fascinating interview by Scaramucci there where he not only said this is a policy that is atrocious and shouldn't happen. He said the whole idea whether the Democrats are to blame is not even part of it. Whether or not this is part of negotiating ploy, as well, this is atrocious and it should end. That was essentially his argument.

He also seemed to blame John Kelly. You imagine there is a lingering tension there between him and John Kelly. He seems in some way if you know this is a president who watches cable news and people go on cable news to get a message to him, he seems to be in some ways giving the president an out, right, essentially saying this is a policy the president can say that John Kelly floated that he never really agreed with. So we'll see what happens with this.

As I said, I think we have to wait for what the president does. There is that big Tuesday meeting with the house GOP. You had so many folks come out, obviously more moderate Republicans. The president isn't necessarily listening to them.

[08:05:08] But this I think was a fascinating step forward in terms of observing whether or not the president is going to listen to folks and change his mind.

CAMEROTA: So Mike, what do you think? If this was a bargaining chip that the Trump administration was using somehow to bring Democrats to the table, is it time to stop it? What do you think will happen?

MIKE ROGERS, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY COMMENTATOR: It was a bad policy to begin with. It's not sustainable and they should end it as soon as they can. The president probably could use this as an opportunity to start talking to Democrats about what troubles are happening on the other side of the border including the children. This was not the way to get there. The brutality that happens with children trying to go anywhere from Latin America including Mexico into the United States is frightening. Human trafficking and all of the other things that go along, pressed into gangs, especially for young boys, all of that is a reality on the other side of that border. And we need to get our handles on it. This is the wrong way to do it. And you cede the United States' moral high ground in trying to find the right solution.

BERMAN: Anthony Scaramucci just saying it is bad policy, it's atrocious policy, the president should stop it, clearly he was suggesting sending a message to the president. I'm wondering if Republicans in Congress are getting the same message. Do you feel like they are getting antsy? Remember they are going to meet with the president tomorrow?

HENDERSON: It seems so. We heard again from people like Will Hurd --

BERMAN: We'll hear from him in just a moment, by the way. He's coming on the show.

HENDERSON: And he's a border state congressman obviously from Texas. It is obvious that he would be uncomfortable with this. But there are other conservatives, Francis Rooney, for instance, also said that this is a policy that the president can stop and probably should stop. We haven't of course seen any movement from Breitbart or Drudge. They are seemingly with this president on that. And you had somebody like Franklin Graham who seemed to be having it both way, both saying it was disgraceful but also blaming 30 years of political inaction on it. So we'll see. This is a president, I'm sure he is watching. He is going to at some point watch this program, if he's watching it live now. So we'll see what he does because there have been all of these voices, a kind of a build up over this weekend with Democrats really forcing the issue and then some Republicans joining him.

CAMEROTA: On the flipside, Mike, and I want to get your take on this because you were in Congress and you know how intractable this problem is. This has bedeviled administrations, as you know, for decades. So what they say, what Trump voters who I've interviewed say is, OK, so Democrats don't want anything punitive, Democrats don't want to use this as a deterrent. Democrats are allowing what they call catch and release, that people cross the border every single day, hundreds of them, yes, they are caught, and then they're given a court date. They may or may not come back. They are not exactly tracked. Democrats don't want the border wall, so where are we on fixing this?

ROGERS: We are not very close. This is just one issue that I think certainly Democrats are going to try to take advantage of in the elections going into 18 which is also a problem of us not getting a fix which tends to drive people in different directions.

I think if they can ever come together, and this is a very difficult issue because both parties look at this as political power. If I'm tough on the border and want good border control, that has one message in one set of voters. And if we believe that hugs and kisses and release is the way to get a secure border, that has another set of constituency.

And so what they are going to have to do at some point is sit in the same room and start understanding and coming to the agreement we need to be able to control our borders. It has public health implications. It has crime implications, has safety for children trying to cross what is a mess across those northern provinces in Mexico because of the drug cartels, all of that needs to be dealt with.

And then you need of course some political will to start dealing with issues back across Latin American countries that are causing people to rip their families up and then take this very dangerous trek to try to get into the United States. And until we come to that conclusion that that is the best interest, candidly, of both parties in the country and the region, we're going to be fighting about the little nuances of this for the next 20 years. That's why they have had such a hard time in the last 30 years.

BERMAN: I know you are not suggesting it. These 2,000 kids are no nuance. They are 2,000 kids. ROGERS: That's not what I meant.

BERMAN: I totally know that. And if the president was looking at this as kind of leverage, it is not clear to me that it is working. It looks like to some extent is back firing. We had Senator Van Hollen, Senator Merkley on with us before saying I'm not going to negotiate on this. We're not going to negotiate on this. You can't set the house on fire and then say we need more money for fire trucks here. You don't get to be rewarded for that. It doesn't seem as if this will lead to what the president hopes it leads to.

[08:10:05] HENDERSON: I think that is right. I feel like you have had so many changing talking points from this White House which in some ways suggests they know this isn't sustainable, they know this isn't ultimately going to play well. If the president was so much embracing this idea of this as political leverage he would have done that from the beginning. This is more of a recent talking point that this is supposedly some grand strategy that he has art of the deal to get folks to the table in terms of immigration because he hasn't really been leaning there. It's really been moderates in the House who have been leading that charge.

BERMAN: Nia-Malika Henderson, Mike Rogers, great to have you with us. Thanks so much.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

So what can lawmakers do about this, do about the families being separated at the border? Republican congressman from Texas who has been critical of the practice and really in the middle of this discussion joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

CAMEROTA: Several lawmakers have been touring the south Texas facilities where children are being kept after being separated from their parents at the border. CNN's Nick Valencia is at one of those facilities in Brownsville, Texas. That's a former Wal-Mart that is now holding 1,500 children. Nick, tell us what you have seen.

NICK VALENCIA: The optics of that just unthinkable. This being a former superstore now has the capacity for about 1,500 boys ages 10 through 17. And this was one of the last stops of Democratic lawmakers yesterday on their Father's Day tour. They called it a mission of mercy, and they were trying to highlight they say the injustices created by President Trump's zero-tolerance immigration policy.

[08:15:00]

After touring these facilities, Senator Merkel, who is effectively the leader of this delegation called it zero-humanity immigration policy.

This facility, as I mentioned, is the largest facility that houses child migrants in the country. It is all boys and for now as it stands the majority of those boys inside are unaccompanied minors, those that showed up at the border without parents.

But as this zero-tolerance policy has taken hold they have seen a surge in the numbers of children that have been separated from their families. In the last six weeks, 2,000 in all across the border.

And not only do we see that imagery yesterday, but we also saw Democratic lawmakers in New Jersey in essentially a standoff with officials at a federal detention center there in New Jersey. They showed up with the press corps trying to gain access to that facility. They were denied entry at first.

They were eventually allowed in. They say they are going to continue to keep the pressure on President Trump and his administration until this zero-tolerance immigration policy is lifted or changed -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Nick Valencia for us. Nick, thanks very much.

I want to bring in Republican Congressman Will Hurd. He represents the 23rd district of Texas, which includes almost one-third of the U.S.-Mexico border more than any other House member and he recently visited a border detention facility.

Congressman, thank you so much for being with us. You have been literally in the middle of this for the last several weeks. Just give me a sense of the latest you have seen from those facilities.

REP. WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: Well, what I have seen is a manifestation of a failed policy. We shouldn't be separating kids from their mothers. The facility I toured housed 16 and 17-year-old boys. They were unaccompanied minors.

But the reason they were in this facility is because they are separating so many other children from their families and needing to put them in these other facilities that are state sanctioned and moving these boys to tent facilities.

That facility you talked about in the (inaudible) and there are a lot of questions that DOJ and HHS haven't answered. Is this policy actually working? I don't think separating a kid from their mommy will prevent terrorists or drugs from coming into our country.

And so how do these parents know where their kids are? How do their kids where their parents are? We know about the psychological effects of separating families and separating parents from their kids.

We know from October of 2017 until April, there were about 700 kids separated from their families, 100 of those were kids under the age of 4. Those were kids that probably never stayed away from their mom and dad. This is not a problem that is not going to go away.

We have seen it before and we have to address the root causes. We need to be working in El Salvador, Nicaragua and Honduras to address root causes that is causing this migration to come to our country. We need smart border policies. We need to increase the amount of immigration judges so that we can process people quicker, so you are not detaining them as long.

BERMAN: You called this a failed policy. You acknowledge the president could change this policy with a phone call, correct?

HURD: One hundred percent. Jeff sessions could change this today. This is something that is squarely within the hands of this administration to ultimately change.

BERMAN: Do you have any indication that the administration might change this in the next 24 hours?

HURD: I don't know the answer to that. All the conversations that I have had with folks involved in this really don't know what is going on. And so, I hope that we'll hear something this week about potential changes, but I don't know of anything that is possibly coming down.

BERMAN: So, the president could change it with a phone call and Congress could change it also. Congress could pass a law. Republicans can call Congress. House Speaker Paul Ryan runs the House. Kevin McCarthy runs the House. Any indication that they will try to take action, and should they try to maybe craft some standalone legislation to fix this problem right now?

HURD: If there was standalone legislation to address, this I'm sure it would get north of 300 votes. You have to ask them. Allegedly we will be voting on two pieces of immigration bills this week. I have read both of them.

Neither one of them have legislation in it that directly addresses this situation of separating kids from their parents. And what has happened for us to have to craft legislation to say don't pull kids out of the arms of their mothers? We shouldn't be at this point. The land of the free and home of the brave we shouldn't be using kids for deterrents.

BERMAN: You mentioned that you were not getting answers from DOJ, HHS, Homeland Security. Have they been evasive when you've gone after them to try to (inaudible) things?

[08:20:09] HURD: I don't think it's been evasive. They just don't know. How long is this policy going to last? What are they projecting into the future? Why did they make this decision? And what other decisions did they weigh versus this zero-tolerance policy?

There are alternatives to detention that have been used in multiple cities that have proven very effective. There is one where the family is on house arrest, things like that. They have a person that they have to meet with frequently.

Ninety five percent to 99 percent of those families showed up for their court case. This was only like $36 a day for the entire family to run the program which is significantly less cost to having someone in detention.

These are the kinds of conversations and policy conversations we should be having. Again, we will continue to see this problem if we don't address the root causes and if we don't have a robust diplomatic response to the countries in Central America where this migration is coming from.

This is something that we can't -- there's actually is in your previous segment folks were talking -- there is bipartisan support for this. This is something that I have been working on with Pete Aguilar, a Democrat from California, to address these root causes and make sure that we have strong border security, operational control of our border.

That we have more immigration judges and have a DACA fix. These are all things that have been proven. The only way to solve it is by working together. This is not something that one party can solve by themselves.

BERMAN: Although at least in this one discreet area you acknowledge one person can solve it by himself. The president could pick up the phone and end the policy of separating children, correct?

HURD: Of course. This specific policy -- there is no question about it. That is not even up for debate or it shouldn't be.

BERMAN: We agree there. Congressman, thank you so much for being with us. Appreciate it -- Alisyn.

HURD: Always a pleasure.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Coming up, every day people doing extraordinary things. I will introduce you to an organization that restores smiles to kids. Our champions for change, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[08:26:18]

CAMEROTA: We are thrilled that all this week many of us here at CNN will be sharing the stories of extraordinary people and organizations who are changing lives for the better. For this special series "Champions for Change," I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to go on a medical mission to Bogota, Colombia with my twin daughters where we worked alongside the amazing volunteers of "Operation Smile," who are giving children and their parents every reason to smile.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

CAMEROTA (voice-over): You don't think about it when you can smile, but there is something about smiling that makes you approachable to other people.

(on camera): A smile is actually really, really important. Hi. I'm going to see you at the medical center tomorrow.

MAURICIO HERRERA, MEDICAL DIRECTOR, OPERATION SMILE COLOMBIA: My name is Mauricio Herrera. I am medical director of Operation Smile in Colombia. I'm also a plastic surgeon volunteer for Operation Smile. When you have a cleft pallet, you cannot speak well or eat well. All the food is going through the nose. It's really a nightmare. We are right there, and we fix it, and that's why we exist.

CAMEROTA: How are you doing? How are you feeling today? I got involved with Operation Smile probably eight years ago. I learned about it through my friend, Lisa Laurie. She had three sons born with facial abnormalities.

Even before I knew that CNN would be doing "Champions of Change," I was going to take my twin daughters on this medical mission to Colombia because I wanted them to see how life changing this surgery is.

We are heading about two hours outside now. You can see it is much more rural where we are going. We will meet Juan. He is 8 years old. Several years ago, he had the surgery, but he still needs services. He needs speech therapy and things like that.

UNIDENTIFIED CHILD (through translator): My life has changed a lot because of the foundation. When we go I feel better and I'm really thankful because it has been so great. I love all the doctors that help me. I can speak now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The truth is that if he hadn't gone to a foundation like this, I can't even imagine how (inaudible) life would be because we wouldn't have had the means or the money for the surgeries.

CAMEROTA: Once upon a time there were three little brothers. On a personal note my daughters were born very prematurely so I can relate to the idea of having a baby that suddenly needs more medical care than you ever expected. Why wasn't the status quo in Colombia good enough?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): The reality is that in the past the children were hidden, and no one knew the seriousness of the situation. Since we have come in they have come to know us and have lost that shame.

CAMEROTA: And you're a volunteer?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, of course.

CAMEROTA: You're a volunteer so you don't get paid?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We don't get paid, but we get paid more than money. That is more important.

CAMEROTA: Your life is going to be different in one hour from now. Watching a little 7-month-old baby --