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ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT
Trump Signs Order to End His Own Family Separation Policy; Trump's E.O. Does Nothing for Families Already Split; Lewandowski Refused to Apologize for Mocking a Girl With Down Syndrome; Interview with Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California; Cohen Criticizes Trump on Family Separation in RNC Resignation Aired 7-8p ET
Aired June 20, 2018 - 19:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[19:00:00] WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: All right, thanks very much, Barbara for that report.
That's it for me. Thanks for watching. Erin Burnett OUTFRONT starts right now.
ERIN BURNETT, CNN ANCHOR: OUTFRONT next, breaking news. Change of heart. Trump says, heart is the reason he's stopping the separation of children at the border. So, why did he start it in the first place?
Plus, what about the thousands of children who are separated from their parents tonight including infants and toddlers? The executive order the president signed today does nothing about them.
And fixing for a fight. The president's fixer Michael Cohen slams the president's policy. Is Michael Cohen flipping before our eyes?
Let's go OUTFRONT.
And good evening, I'm Erin Burnett. OUTFRONT tonight, the breaking news. President Trump caves. In a stunning about face, the president in a matter of hours, went from defending the separation of children from their parents to signing an executive order that stops the exact same policy. So, why now?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE United States: We're going to keep the families together. I didn't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated. Ivanka feels very strongly. My wife feels very strongly about it. I feel very strongly about it.
I think anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it. We don't like to see families separated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Anyone with heart. The problem with that argument is that this whole situated started because of Trump. It was his policy to separate children from parents which was administered by his Department of Homeland Security, defended by his Justice Department. And if this is simply about heart as he says, why did President Trump not have one to begin with?
He defended this policy for days, even as pictures of children in cages were shown worldwide. Even as we heard the voices of those children crying for their mothers and fathers, because frankly, this was the president of the United States up until this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, which should happen, you have to take the children away. The United States will not be a migrant camp. And it will not be a refugee holding facility. It won't be. They've got to go through the process and maybe it's politically correct or maybe it's not.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So he saw the pictures. He heard the cries and he said you had to do it. But then today he said anyone with a heart would say don't do it.
Well, as he defended the policy, his advisers, his supporters also went to the air waves to defend taking the children away, and frankly, they did so in some very crass ways.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ZAC PETKANAS, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: I read today about a 10-year-old girl with Down syndrome who was taken from her mother and put in a cage. I read --
COREY LEWANDOWSKI, FORMER TRUMP CAMPAIGN MANAGER: Womp womp.
STEVE CORTES, MEMBER OF PRESIDENT TRUMP'S 2020 RE-ELECT ADVISORY COUNCIL: If you come across our border without permission, you are an invader. There's no other word to describe it.
MICHAEL GRIMM (R), NEW YORK CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE: You know what it sounds like to me? Exactly the same as sometimes I go to a gym where they have a little daycare and some of the young kids cry when their parents leave them in the daycare.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Except for they get to come back a half an hour later, Congressman. All right, the defense though is not stopping key Republicans in Congress from stepping up. They have said the policy is inhumane, an erosion of American values, something that needs to stop immediately. A number of Christian evangelical leaders also turned on the president.
So, what did he do? Well, he pulled a 180. Ending the policy with the stroke of a pen, a policy he had explicitly said he could not alter through executive order. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We can't do it through an executive order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: They can't do it through an executive order. Definitive but false. So, yes, the bottom line is that today, the president of the United States signed an executive order and ended his own policy when he categorically said he could not do that.
Jeff Zeleny is OUTFRONT live in Duluth, Minnesota. And that is where the president is about to speak. A major campaign rally where you are tonight, Jeff. So why the sudden 180? The sudden change of course?
JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, the fact that we are here in Duluth, Minnesota. The fact that we are here at the beginning of what is expected to be a one rally a week, push to the midterm election campaign, that says a lot to what led to the president's decision today. I am told that the president after meeting with House Republicans on Capitol Hill last night, he simply knew this was an untenable policy.
It is about the images more than the policy as we've been talking about for days now it seems. But I'm told in the last 24 hours or so, the president was looking for an exit ramp. So this was one of those exit ramps that he found.
But the reality, Erin is, as he was talking about, he didn't need an executive order, in fact, he didn't need an executive order. He could have done this at any point along the way. He could have done this on the telephone. He could have done this simply by instructing his departments and agencies to do this. But he wanted the show of that executive order if you will.
But Erin, a lot of it can be answered by images and the fact as you can see behind me here, at a rally. A midterm election rally. Key House seats on the ballot here in Minnesota, other states.
[19:05:01] Republicans were consumed by this and afraid of this, Erin.
BURNETT: So, except the other thing though is that, you know, you're talking about he wanted to pump and circumstance of an executive order. But the order does not actually address the children, 2,000 or more of whom have been separated from their parents and are currently in custody, right?
ZELENY: Yes, Erin. And we should focus on the policy and substance of this as well. That is what we are being told tonight by a Health and Human Service official who said that none of these people who have already been separated. None of the some 2,300 children who've already been separated from their family will be affected by this executive order. They say they in fact will not.
This official also tells CNN that the onus is on the parents to find their children who have already been separated from them. So Erin, this is going to go on for weeks, maybe months or longer to come. The court challenges, legal challenges but as for those 2,300 children who have already been separated, this executive order does nothing for them.
BURNETT: All right, Jeff Zeleny, thank you very much.
And I want to go now to Jason Miller, former senior communications adviser for the Trump campaign, Joan Walsh, national affairs correspondent for the Nation, and Anne Milgram, former federal prosecutor in the United States Department of Justice where she was the special litigation counsel for the prosecution of human traffic and crimes.
So Anne, you know a lot about this situation overall. You heard what Jeff just said. For the kids in custody right now, 2,300 of them that have been separated from their parents, the onus is now on their parents to find them. The parents who I guess somehow going through the justice system and being prosecuted for coming in illegally.
I mean, does this executive order do anything to solve the problem?
ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER FEDERAL PROSECUTOR: The executive order doesn't touch or have anything to do with the 2,300 kids who have already been separated. And make no mistake that right now, the federal government is not offering any information on who those kids are, where they're located. Maybe it would be more forthcoming with parents, but think about the fact that they're in the middle of criminal process for trying to enter the country unlawfully and they'll likely be deported at the end of that.
Most of the outcome of the criminal process is fines, misdemeanors, it's often not incarceration. And so, think about a parent being sent home to a foreign country trying to find a child in the United States. How will they possibly get access to that information?
BURNETT: And every day that goes by, you're talking about often extremely young children who are separated from their parents.
JOAN WALSH, NATIONAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT, THE NATION: And we also know they've been moved.
MILGRAM: Right. So keep in mind that it's not like the parent can go back if they were taken at the border with Mexico. It's not like the parents --
BURNETT: And child is there waiting for you to pick them on the way home.
MIGLRAM: Exactly. The child will definitely not be there.
BURNETT: I mean, Jason, you know, you heard the president say anybody with a heart would feel very strongly about it. Those are true words. Yesterday though, he said, politically correct or not, you got to do it. You got to take the kids away. He defended it, he defended it again and again and again. So what changed, Jason? JASON MILLER, FORMER SENIOR COMMUNICATIONS ADVISER, TRUMP CAMPAIGN: Well, we know that the president said as far as back as last Friday when he first started seeing some of these images that he knew that this wasn't a good look. That this was going to then ultimately cut against his policy of zero tolerance enforcement at the border which I firmly support and strongly believe. And I think a lot of Trump supporters do.
But, I think one of the issues here they haven't seen much coverage of is, I want to know who has given the president the legal advice that this have to go through Congress and this couldn't be impacted by an executive order, that he couldn't take this on the action, because clearly today was a reversal in course. And so, the president wants to have this policy. He wants to seal our southern border and all of our borders. And now they're shifting direction.
And look, this was what, 48, 72 hours where we are a basically a fever's pitch of seeing these images and these aren't good images. We need to keep these families together even if they're all going to be deported. We don't want to have them split up.
But what I want to know is I don't know if it's someone at the DOJ or DHS, but who has given the president this advice because clearly, it was a different interpretation from -- regarding the Flores settlement from what people --
BURNETT: Jason, I commend you for your effort, but we know this president watches the news avidly and if he was watching any news organization worth it salt, he knew full well that he didn't need Congress. If he listened to anybody from Congress that he talks to, he knew full well he didn't need Congress. He knew he could do this with a phone call.
So, I just, I don't buy it. OK?
MILLER: Although, Erin, respectfully speaking, the point that I make is even since the president signed this E.O this afternoon, I've seen a number of commentators across -- all across networks and different online publications who said this still doesn't go and solve the problem. There's still more that Congress has to do. And so, respectfully speaking, I'd say that this doesn't solve the entire issue that's going on. And so --
BURNETT: So it can solve the illegal immigration but separating from parents was an issue created by this president and his policy, and now, they're trying to clean it up.
Go ahead, Joan.
WALSH: Exactly. It's deliberately and by discretion. And I think it was done deliberately, Erin, because he wanted to create a crisis. He wanted -- he took these children as hostages.
He wanted them as bargaining chips to get his wall. He thought he heard a really good policy from Jeff Sessions and Steven Miller. [19:10:01] This is cool, this is good, this is going to work. We're going to hold these kids hostage until we get our 25 billion for the wall. But it didn't work like that. Republicans didn't go along with it and obviously Democrats didn't either.
But, I think what is really -- what we really going to focus on when Jeff Zeleny tells us that the onus is on the parents, that is devastating. Because these parents -- the Trump administration has cut funding and you know this probably more than I do has cut funding to the groups at the border who had been providing these parents with legal services and other kinds of services, both to face their court dates but also to track their children.
Their parents are in a criminal system. Their parents are in DHS, the kids are now over -- many of them with Health and Human Services. They're not in the same system. And what I've been hearing from people who visited these detention facilities and talked to the parents, they have no idea where their kids are and no one can help them.
BURNETT: I mean, Anne, where does this end? You know, I'm also just confused here about the president, right? Because, here he is on Friday and then here he is today on this issue of his ability to solve his crisis. Here he is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We can't do it through an executive order.
We're signing an executive order.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OK, that is as stark as it can get. We can't do it through executive order. We're signing an executive order.
MILGRAM: Right. So there are couples of points I think worth making. First of all, there was never a need for an executive order. This was always a policy decision that was within his Department of Homeland Security.
BURNETT: Right. As Jeff was saying, you're saying, you can pick up the phone, he don't need the phone from circumstance (INAUDIBLE) the order.
MILGRAM: This is all a smoke screen, it's a fabrication, it's a story. I mean, there are lots of different ways we can talk about it (INAUDIBLE) but there was no legal basis for this executive order first of all.
Second of all, it is not lawful. There is an existing court decision. Consent to create the Flores agreement that mandates that you cannot incarcerate children and families long term. And essentially, what they're asking for is this executive order. Then we should all be very clear that this is not a win, right? It is not like children will be released. The idea under this executive order is that children and parents would be incarcerated together under the Department of Homeland Security. Jails, facilities, interment camps, migrant camps. You can call it whatever you want, but they will be physically held together.
Right now, the law is, it cannot be more than 20 days. The president is asking for that to indefinite. I don't believe a court will stand by that. I think that the courts will require that the children of -- the children at a minimum be released within that 20-day period. But we should all be clear that as of this moment, we've gone from children being separated and held to children being held in essentially prison-like facilities with their parents, and the president is asking for that to be indefinite. And that is not consistent with the law, with the United States constitution or with American values.
BURNETT: Is it consistent, Jason with having a heart?
MILLER: Well, I think so because, again, somebody internally is telling the president that the legal strategy on this or the legal interpretation was that he couldn't go and do this. It has to be a congressional action. So, it sounds like the president was pushing back and backing --
BURNETT: But what I'm saying is, is it consistent to jail children with their parents indefinitely with having a heart? That's what I'm asking.
MILLER: Well -- they're not going to be held indefinitely --
BURNETT: But that's the president is asking for.
MILLER: No, obviously, they're going to and try to process these families and if they're here illegally and they haven't gone through the proper channels for seeking asylum, then they're going to be sent home to whatever country that they came from. And that gets us back to the broader debate that we still need to have here, of what's the fundamental problem is that folks are coming into the country illegally. And so we need to build the wall, we need to beef up our border --
BURNETT: So Jason, I just this put out there but I don't want to have an argument with you so I want to ask all of you. But, I mean, is the solution here to build a wall to keep these people out or is it a solution to try to figure out the reason that they're coming. The reason they are being subjected to some terrific situations where they think the best thing to do is to come to a country that they know is going to accept them.
MILLER: And that's why we need this comprehensive approach. I mean, we need to -- we talked about the folks that are here right now. That's why I like the Ted Cruz plan they'll go and increase the number of judges, they're going to make sure that we have plenty of holding space for folks -- BURNETT: And just to be clear here, Joan, Ted Cruz said that what the
president was doing with separating the children from their families is unconscionable.
WALSH: Right. He finally said that. He just said that yesterday and the day before. A couple of days ago, I think he was OK with it, so obviously the optics of this were terrible.
But I think we have to remember that the president has used this as an excuse. The president is looking for something that is probably not constitutional. And what I'm hearing from people on the border, my friends who are lawyers and also reporters is that, in these courtrooms, and Anne can speak to this better probably, in these courtrooms, you used to see 90 percent of the people who were in front of these judges were there because they were getting kicked out of the country because they committed some kind of violent crime. Now, it switched, 90 percent of the people who are there before these judges have no prior record. Their only record is this misdemeanor of crossing the border.
So, we are not dealing with M-13, we are not dealing with violent criminals. We are dealing with nonviolent parents who are trying to get a better life for their kids. So we may see violent criminals who actually slip through the system --
MILLER: But Joan, that doesn't mean that everybody that's coming in has no record.
[19:15:02] Doesn't mean that everybody's coming in doesn't mean any harm.
WALSH: I'm saying that they don't have a record. The people who are being processed, we know what they have, what they don't have, Jason. And they don't have records. They don't.
MILLER: But we still have -- not at a 100 percent. There's (INAUDIBLE) on people having no records or not being a part of any trafficking or drug --
WALSH: I'm saying 90 percent not 100 percent. You're right.
MILLER: So, OK, I'm not sure of the stat that you're referring to. I haven't seen that. But even if it is 90 percent, that's still leaves a 10 percent of the people that are trying to come in that they're apprehending are bad actors in this process. Whether they're drug traffickers, they're human traffickers or gang members. I mean -- and we have to go -- be able to secure our border.
BURNETT: And you can say the same thing with Syrian refugees and kick them all out, and kick out all the people who had nowhere to go just because there's one terrorist among them.
MILLER: But even to that point --
BURNETT: You're up then to a very different conclusion obviously than our president. Anne, I'll give you the final word. MILGRAM: Yes. And I think just one of the points that we've been talking about which I think is really important is that, within 20 days, everyone in the United States is entitled to due process of law. Whether you're an American citizen or you're not. And that means that there has to be a legal process to make sure that everything is done fairly. There is no way that will happen in 20 days.
BURNETT: We don't have enough judges. We don't have enough -- that Ted Cruz points out frankly.
MILGRAM: We don't have enough places to detain families. We do not have enough judges, we do not have enough time. So those children can possibly under what we're looking at in this executive order be detained for months and potentially years for cases to go through the system. And that just cannot be right under the constitution or existing law of the country.
BURNETT: And again, (INAUDIBLE) with the heart. Thank you all.
And next, more on our breaking news. We're learning who was working behind the scenes to end the policy. Do the first lady and Ivanka Trump deserve the credit. Jorge Ramos is next.
Plus, toddlers and infants being held at what is being called tender age, that's the word, detention centers and tonight, we are live at one of those tender age facilities.
And Michael Cohen taking on Trump on this issue in a very stark way. Is this just the beginning of the flip?
[19:20:32] BURNETT: Breaking news. That is the live Trump rally. We're moments away from the president who will be speaking. It is a campaign rally. He's going to start doing them once a week. It is in Minnesota.
And this comes as he signed an executive order to stop the separation of families who illegally crossed the U.S./Mexico border. But Trump also vows to remain tough on the border, warning millions of immigrants, millions in his words, will overtake the country if he isn't.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We want to keep family together. At the same time, we have to be strong at the border. Otherwise, you'll have millions of people coming up not thousands like we have now. You'll have millions of people flowing up and just overtaking the country. And we're not letting that happen.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, Univision news anchor Jorge Ramos. Also the author of "Stranger: The Challenge of a Latino Immigrant in the Trump- Era." Jorge, OK. Let's just start with this.
JORGE RAMOS, ANCHOR, UNIVISION: OK.
BURNETT: You have millions of people flowing up and just overtaking the country.
RAMOS: Yes. He's lying. He doesn't know what he's talking about. Actually, more Mexicans are living in the United States than coming to this country. And for the last decade, the number of undocumented immigrants in this country has remained stable at about 11 million.
And not only that. We know that the majority of the immigrants in this country are not criminals and terrorists. They simply come here to get a better life and to help us. And the number of arrests at the border had a 40-year low.
So there's now invasion -- I know the optics, I know exactly what President Trump is trying to do. He's trying to portray everyone, all the immigrants as criminals, as terrorists and that is not true. He's lying again. There are not millions of immigrants coming to this country. That's another lie from President Trump.
BURNETT: Well, of course, all of us, you, me, everyone watching, are all children and grandchildren, whatever you might be, it all comes from immigration. That's what this country is all about unless you're native American.
Now, you urged President Trump to end this separation of families at the border. You used the word, Jorge, torture to describe what's been happening here. And now the president's come out with this executive order which of course we all know he didn't need to do, right? He could have just done it with phone call. He said he couldn't even do it by executive order, it had to be done by Congress.
But nonetheless, it is now signed. Are you satisfied?
RAMOS: Well, the headline would be the president signs an executive order against himself because this is a crisis created by him. No law force him, no law require him to separate families. And that's exactly what he has been doing since May the 7th.
But now, the horror will continue. This policy change is absolutely nothing. This executive order doesn't change anything because he's still putting children in jail. He's still putting children in cages and now that -- the only difference is that families are going to be together, but there -- as you've just discussed in the other segment, there are many, many legal problems with that.
They can't -- they may be put families together in detention centers for 20 days, but what are they going to be doing after that?
Barack Obama have faced exactly the same problem in 2014 and 2015. He had thousands of refugee families in detention centers and then the federal court decided that no, you cannot do that. Well, President Trump is going to be taking exactly the same legal problems right now. BURNETT: So a White House official -- you know, the president, you heard him say Ivanka, you know, was upset, Melania was upset. That he was upset, anyone with a heart would be upset, right?
But we understand that the first lady, Melania Trump, worked hard behind the scenes to get her husband to stop this. Had several private conversations with him in addition to what he admitted today. Do you think that's why this happened? Or you know, i.e. Melania and Ivanka or do you think, Jorge that this was just the pure politics of the mainstream Republicans that the president loathed so publicly turning on him?
RAMOS: I think everything helped a little bit. Maybe Melania had something to do with it. I really hope so because she's an immigrant and we need her voice. I don't know what's her voice. She -- her voice is really needed in moments like this.
And -- but the fact is that there was a lot of pressure. Internationally as you know, Pope Francis said that it was immoral. A presidential candidate who might win the elections in Mexico, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, he said it was racist policy.
But at the end, I truly believe that it wasn't sustainable.
[19:25:02] This is torture. What President Trump is doing is torture. And I'm not exaggerating. I've been checking what the United Nations convention against torture. And the United Nations convention on the rights of the child.
And in both cases, when you separate children from their parents, that's torture. And while you are punishing the children for actions taken by their parents, that's torture. That's exactly what President Trump was doing even though he might not want to recognize it.
BURNETT: You know, Jorge, you've talked about the story of a 10-year- old girl with Down syndrome who was separated from her mother at the U.S. border. And just so our viewers know, U.S. Customs and Border Protection today said the mother was being held as a material witness in a smuggling operation so that this separation didn't happen as a result of the family separation policy. But --
RAMOS: But they're still separated.
BURNETT: Right, right. And the former campaign manager for Trump, Corey Lewandowski, thought that it was. That it was because of this separation policy. And when he was asked about it last night, and appeared to mock her, so I wanted to play what he said last night.
Then today, he was given, Jorge a chance to apologize to her and his response. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
PETKANAS: I read today about a 10-year-old girl with Down Syndrome who was taken from her mother and put in a cage.
LEWANDOWSKI: Womp womp.
PETKANAS: I read about a -- did you say womp womp to a 10-year-old with Down syndrome being taken from her mother? How dare you?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you feel you owe an apology of any sort?
LEWANDOWSKI: An apology? I owe an apology to the children whose parents are putting them in the position that is forcing them to be separated.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RAMOS: Incredible. Well, I would say two things. First, I wonder if Corey would say exactly the same thing about an American girl with Down syndrome. I think it's a double standard.
Most of the kids that we're talking about come from Honduras and El Salvador, Guatemala. That's one thing. And then the example, President Trump, then candidate Trump mocked a New York Times correspondent with disabilities during the campaign. That's the standard.
And then now comes Corey, his friend, mocking a 10-year-old Mexican girl with disabilities. I think hate is contagious, and it come from the top down. And President Trump, candidate Trump, mocks someone with disabilities, and then it was Corey.
And I'm sure that for saying this, we're going to be flooded with insults on social media in just a few minutes, but that's the problem. When the standard is wrong, when President Trump is the one insulting, when President Trump is the one making racist statements, then his friends and followers will continue doing exactly the same.
BURNETT: All right, thank you, Jorge. Good to talk to you.
RAMOS: Thank you.
BURNETT: Jorge Ramos.
And next, our breaking news coverage continues. Despite Trump's executive order, the administration says Congress, it's still on you.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We will be going through Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We are calling on Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We ask Congress to do their part.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So will they? Congressman Jackie Speier is OUTFRONT.
Plus, is the president's zero tolerance policy stopping anyone from trying to come in the United States? We're going to go to the border to one of those tender age facilities.
[19:31:09] BURNETT: The Trump administration confirming tonight that the president's executive order does nothing to address the more than 2,000 children, we understand 2,300, who have been separated from their parents and are currently in facilities tonight.
A Health and Human Services official telling CNN that exists existing policies place the onus on the parents who of course currently are going through, you know, the legal process because they're being prosecuted for the misdemeanor of entering the country illegally. They're supposed to go and find their children -- children as young as infants and toddlers. They are being held at what the government calls tender age detention centers.
"The New York Times" reporting a person inside one of these tender age facilities in Brownsville, Texas, took pictures, including this one of a girl who is about 12 months old.
Nick Valencia is OUTFRONT.
NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): This former hospital in Brownsville, Texas, is one of three detention centers for infants and children, housing around of them, 10 years and younger, without their parents. The three facilities with a fourth planned was first reported by the "Associated Press" and have been rapidly repurposed to serve the needs of children including some under five.
REP. FILEMON VELA (D), TEXAS: Our understanding as of our visit on Monday is that the 40 children who were separated from their parents are here directly as a result of the zero tolerance policy.
VALENCIA: Texas Congressman Filemon Vela, a Democrat whose district includes Brownsville, said the facility was very different than the images and sounds emerging from initial processing centers on the border, where over children have been separated from their families.
Instead, the converted hospital like other facilities is run by a private company contracted by HHS called Southwest Key. Vela says the facility still looks very much like a hospital and has staff members watching the children.
VELA: There is constant attention and the people that are working in here at doing what they can under the circumstances.
VALENCIA: CNN attempted to gain access to the Casa El Presidente facility in Brownsville.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We can't let anybody on the property.
VALENCIA: And was told to call a phone number. No one answer.
OPERATOR: Leave a message and I will call you back. VALENCIA: The CEO of Southwest Key says his facilities are safe for children.
DR. JUAN SANCHEZ, SOUTHWEST KEYS CEO: Regardless of policy and whatever's going on politically, that's not our job. Our job is to take care of kids and that's what we do and we do it very well. And somebody's got to take care of these children because if we don't take care of them, who's going to take care of them?
VALENCIA: Still, the zero tolerance immigration policy that led to dividing children from their families raises many questions about how the U.S. could allow these separations to happen and why it took so long for the White House to come up with a fix.
VELA: When you walk into a room and there are two children, one the age of eight months, another the age of almost one who is what without their parent and you begin to think and realize that this these children that are toddlers are being held hostage by the president of United States. It's abhorrent.
(on camera): There's still a lot of uncertainty as to how these families will be reunited. It was earlier that the Southern Poverty Law Center connected me with a man whose 3-year-old child was ripped away from him after they had crossed through a legal point of entry asking for asylum. His 3-year-old asked to go to the bathroom, two immigration officials took him away and that's the last time he saw his child. At this point he says, all he wants to know is where his child is and if he'll ever see him again -- Erin.
BURNETT: Nick, thank you.
Let's go now to the Democratic Congresswoman Jackie Speier of California, one of more than members of Congress going to Texas this weekend to see the border facilities.
Congresswoman, so, you know, you just heard what Nick is reporting, right? I mean, that's one example, 4-year-old child goes to the bathroom, doesn't come back. We understand there are three facilities in Texas, the ones that he just were talking about, right, you've got kids under 10 years old just in those.
What are you being told about how these kids, toddlers, infants are going to get reunited with their parents?
[19:35:03] REP. JACKIE SPEIER (D), CALIFORNIA: That's the big issue because there is no plan to reunite these parents with their children. These 2,300 children that are at the border patrol have no way of knowing where their parents are, nor the parents where their children are.
This is a disgrace, Erin, and it shows a moral deficit in this administration and in the president that has reached the highest levels in America's psyche, and you have felt the outrage everywhere -- Republican, Democrat, independent, and I think this fig leaf that the president has signed this afternoon is nothing more and has no value than the paper it is written on, because the zero tolerance policy has not been revoked and that is what triggered all of this.
So, now, you're going to allow these families to stay united for 20 days and then what? And I think what we have learned is that if you allow these families to be processed and you have an electronic monitoring system, the ICE has said that they have a 99.8 percent record of having them show up at the appropriate time for their hearing, to determine whether or not there's credible fear for them to seek asylum. So, why aren't we doing that?
BURNETT: Right. You're saying instead of jailing them or putting them in some sort of a camp and internment camp -- whatever the word someone wants to use, you're saying you have a 99.8 percent chance they'd show up when asked to, of their own volition.
So, you know, after signing the executive order, the president, the vice president and the homeland security secretary have all said, which they've been saying in recent days but even after he signed it, they are still saying that it's up to you, it's up to Congress. Here they are.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We're also wanting to go through Congress. We will be going through Congress. We're working on a much more comprehensive bill.
MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are calling on Congress to change the laws in this regard.
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: We look forward and expect the House to act this week. We ask them to do their job.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Do your job. What do you say to that?
SPEIER: Well, let's start by having the House Republicans who are in the majority do something more than just try to fashion a bill that their membership can't support and as we have found out today with heated discussions on House floor, they don't even have the votes in their own caucus to pass either of the bills that they have been contemplating. If they want to work with us, then they need to come and meet with us. They have not indicated any interest in wanting to work with the Democrats.
BURNETT: Before we go, I want to ask you about a video. This was from last night. I don't know if you saw it, but it's protesters shouting down the Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen when she was at a Mexican restaurant. Here it is.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(PROTESTERS CHANTING) (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: So, it got so bad, she was forced to leave the restaurant where she was eating. The conservative radio host Erick Erickson says that, quote, hey, progressives, you do understand I hope but when you target government employees for harassment, show up at restaurants and intimidate cabinet members, go to their homes, et cetera, you're behaving like you might be wearing a brown shirt. Obviously, a reference to Nazi Germany, which has been thrown around on many sides.
What do you say?
SPEIER: Well, I would say that what happened there was probably spontaneous. Those weren't progressives. Those were just people who were disgusted by the way the administration has thought it was OK to separate parents and their children. Under no circumstance is that anything less than child abuse.
And when you have the American Academy of Pediatrics coming out and saying that this is irreparable harm --
BURNETT: Are you OK though with, you know, people going into a restaurant where someone's trying to have a private dinner and basically chasing them out by doing something like that?
SPEIER: Well, I -- you know, I suppose everyone has the right to have dinner wherever they want, and I -- you know, I can't speak to whether that was spontaneous from people that were in the restaurant or if people follow through there. I don't know the facts in the situation.
But I do know that if you foment hate, as the president does on a daily basis in his base, it also creates a reaction by others. We need to recognize that if we want to be known as something other than ugly Americans, we've got to act like beautiful Americans. And right now, that's not coming out of the administration.
BURNETT: Congressman Speier, thanks for your time. I appreciate your time.
SPEIER: Thank you.
BURNETT: Next, breaking news, President Trump insisting people can still enter the United States if --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
[19:40:05] TRUMP: They can come into the ports of entry if they want. That's a whole different story.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: If they want. OK, so can they? Well, guess what? We're at the border at a port of entry. We're going to fact-check it.
Plus, President Trump blasting immigrants. What is he really saying when he uses words like "breeds" and "infests"? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BURNETT: Tonight, while signing his executive order, President Trump insisted that people who come into the country through proper channels will be welcome in the United States.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: They can come into the ports of entry if they want. That's a whole different story and that's coming in through a process, and the process is what we want. But for many families trying to enter the country the right way, they learn very quickly that they have no shot if they go that way.
Ed Lavandera is OUTFRONT.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The Senda de Vida migrant shelter sits inside this compound in a ramshackled neighborhood in Reynosa, Mexico, on the edge of the Rio Grande. There are nearly 50 migrants inside, more than a dozen were children.
It's where we found Christian Ortiz cleaning up the mattresses soaked by an overnight rainstorm. Ortiz showed us the slashing scars on his back, the beating drove him north, leaving his two sons behind.
[19:45:02] (on camera): He says these are the scars from where he was whipped by gang members in Honduras and his family was threatened if he didn't join the gang.
(voice-over): Ortiz says he left his two sons to request asylum in the U.S. But in recent weeks, the Trump administration has moved to make it more difficult for Central American immigrants to win asylum cases.
(on camera): He says he doesn't have the documentation of what he went through, only the scars and that's the only thing he has to show them, so he's not convinced that that would be enough to get asylum in United States.
(voice-over): He feels like the only option he has is to cross the Rio Grande illegally. So, now, he plans on how to cross the river on a raft.
(on camera): For weeks, Trump administration officials have urged migrants to seek asylum in official ports of entry. This is the bridge that takes you from Reynosa, Mexico, into Hidalgo, Texas. Not only are migrants telling us that they're often getting turned away in the middle of the bridge by U.S. Customs officials, but they're also telling us that Mexican customs officials aren't even letting them set foot on the bridge.
(voice-over): Patricia Flores says she's been turned away at this bridge twice in the last two weeks and that Mexican authorities threatened to deport her if she tried again. Flores and her seven- year-old son are from El Salvador.
(on camera): She says she's scared of being separated from her son but she doesn't think god would a lot will allow that.
(voice-over): She says she had to escape gang violence. She says her son saw a man who was shot in the eye outside their home and that one of her son's favorite imaginary games is to run around with a make- believe bulletproof jacket and pretend he survived the gang members' gunshots.
(on camera): I see her getting emotional so I was asking her why she does this and she's -- and she says it's a -- it's worth -- it's worth the hard journey.
(voice-over): These migrants sit in a form of purgatory, straddling a life between north and south.
Tears well up in Christian Ortiz's eyes and he says one last thing before we leave we left.
(on camera): He's saying that he hopes that the stories of immigrants like himself and others will change President Trump's heart.
LAVANDERA: And, Erin, you know, the question still remains here and many people who will support President Trump's zero-tolerance policy still support this idea that this kind of strict immigration policy serves as a deterrent to people coming up from Central America as word of this spreads that they will be turned away. The pastor who runs that shelter said he's heard of a few cases of families who have given up and turned away over the course of the last few weeks.
But over and over, we've heard from immigrants in these shelters and in these border towns that they would much rather face the uncertainty and the consequences of the U.S. immigration system than returning to their violent neighborhoods -- Erin.
BURNETT: All right. Ed Lavandera, powerful report there. What happens when you do it the, quote-unquote, right way.
And OUTFRONT next tonight, Trump being called shameful and racist. What is the word that he used that sparked that criticism?
Also breaking this hour, Michael Cohen out with a letter, slamming the president's family separation policy. Why?
[19:50:18] BURNETT: Tonight, Democratic Representative John Lewis, the civil rights icon, calling one of President Trump's tweet racist, responding to one of the president's tweets about immigration.
So, here is what President Trump said. He said: Democrats are the problem. They don't care about crime and want illegal immigrants no matter how bad they can be to pour into and infest our country, like MS-13.
Now, when asked about the tweet, here's how Lewis responded.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JOHN LEWIS (R), GEORGIA: Shameful, racist. It's not in keeping with the dreams and hopes of the American people.
REPORTER: Is it dangerous?
LEWIS: It is very dangerous.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: OUTFRONT now, retired General Michael Hayden, the former director of the CIA and the NSA.
General Hayden, do you agree with Representative Lewis?
MICHAEL HAYDEN: Well, I'll let the representative go ahead and describe his belief in the character of the president.
I will say this, Erin, I think the use of that word "infest" is beneath the dignity of the office of the president. And for the life of me, I don't know why the president would do that except to appeal to the darkest angels of our nature. And so, I'm disappointed but I will leave the descriptions to the congressman.
BURNETT: You -- I mean, you're obviously clear with where you think it's beneath the dignity of the office. I mean, you know, the president is not the only one using strong language. You know, his surrogates are out defending it and using perhaps even more crass language in some ways. Steve Cortes who's a member of the president's 2020 re-elect advisory council, he talked about those families on this program last night. Here's what he said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: These immigrants and I am an immigrant and I am a mother and I come from --
STEVE CORTES, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: They're not immigrants. They're not immigrants. They are invaders. They're not immigrants.
CARDONA: Let me finish. Let me finish. Let me finish. I did not interrupt you. I did not interrupt you. They are immigrants.
BURNETT: That word, invaders?
CARDONA: They are immigrants, OK?
CORTES: When you come here without permission, you are an invader. (END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: Couldn't have been more clear there obviously, General. Cortes then came out in the morning and said: Upon reflection, I take back the word invaders. He said this on Twitter.
BURNETT: I fully support prosecuting and deporting adults who illegally trespass into America, but I resent the Trump hater's extreme language, especially comparisons to Nazis, e.g. Michael Hayden. And I don't want to reach for hyperbolic terms.
So, he is referencing you, a tweet of yours in which you talked about government separating mothers and children and you included a picture of the Birkenau death camp operated by the Nazis.
What do you say?
HAYDEN: Well, number one, I'm glad he walked back that inaccurate and unfortunate word that he used last night. Invader, because they are not invaders.
And with regard to the tweet, Erin, I own it. And the message I put out in the tweet, and I'm actually mentioned on air now three or four times since I tweeted was I'm not claiming that President Trump is Hitler, our current government is Nazi-like.
What I am saying is there are a lot of things in this country that don't quite remind me of Birkenau in 1944, but do remind me of Berlin in 1933. A code of personality, a code of untruth, a ministry of propaganda almost and a code of marginalizing weak groups within our society.
It doesn't have to end up where the history of Germany took it. But I thought it was time for me to send up a warning flare that we've got to pay attention to these kinds of things because if we don't nurture our own civilization, there's no reason why we can't end up in a dark place like other countries like Germany did.
BURNETT: It's easier to destroy than it is to construct perhaps.
You know, two of America's top allies on that front, the prime minister of the U.K., Theresa May, and the prime minister of Canada, Trudeau, both have criticized Trump's policy. Here's how they put it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, BRITISH PRIME MINISTER: The pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing. This is wrong. This is not something we agree with. This is not the United Kingdom's approach.
JUSTIN TRUDEAU, CANADIAN PRIME MINISTER: What is going on in the United States is wrong. I can't imagine what the families living through this are enduring. Obviously, this is not the way we do things in Canada.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BURNETT: General, is there lasting damage done?
HAYDEN: We're a great nation and those are great allies and I think we can heal. But they are reflecting what really are our common values. Very quickly, Erin, if Turkey or Jordan were treating refugees from the violence in Syria the way we are treating refugees on our southern border right now, we would join the British and the Canadians in New York at the U.N. condemning it.
[19:55:09] BURNETT: I think that says it extremely well. Thank you very much, General Hayden.
HAYDEN: Thank you.
BURNETT: And next, breaking news, Michael Cohen turning on Trump, slamming his immigration policy. Wait until you hear exactly how. Is this just the beginning of the flip?
BURNETT: Breaking news, Michael Cohen is out. President Trump's personal lawyer and fixer resigning as the deputy finance chair at the Republican National Committee, saying he cannot focus on his duties because of the criminal investigation he's facing in New York. Also though and this is important, citing the Trump administration's policy of separating families at the border and powerful words on that.
Kara Scannell is OUTFRONT.
And, Kara, significant and the words here, let's put it this way, Cohen did not mince words.
KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: No, Erin, he didn't. I mean -- and this is significant because this is the first time we have seen Michael Cohen break from the Trump administration policy. You know, as you said, he references these ongoing investigations both in New York and by the special counsel. But if we take a look at the words he used about specifically that his immigration policy, and we bring it up.
I mean, you can see how strongly he is making a statement here that's against it, saying, quote: As the son of the Polish Holocaust survivor, the images and sounds of this family separation policy is heart wrenching. While I strongly support measures that will secure our porous borders, children should never be used as bargaining chips.
So, Erin, that is the first time Cohen really has broken from the Trump administration. It comes that he's been telling friends, as we've been reporting, that he is willing to cooperate with the investigation and that he is willing to talk to investigators about the president.
And also, you know, Cohen has just retained new lawyers and so, now, we're at the next stage in this and Cohen is going to have to make some decisions. These are all signals that he's been making and we'll wait to see where this plays out. But this is the first time we've seen Cohen really breaks from the president.
BURNETT: All right. Kara, thank you very much. And, obviously, children should never be used as bargaining chips. It doesn't get more aggressive than that, than calling out the president for doing just that.
Thanks so much to all of you for joining us. We'll see you back her back here tomorrow.
"AC360" starts now.