Return to Transcripts main page
Sen. Chris Coons Discusses The Immigration Crisis; President Trump Endorses Both House Immigration Bills In GOP Meeting; Pope Francis Criticizes U.S. Practice Of Separating Families; New Book Explores What President Trump Was Like As A Dad. Aired 7:30-8a ET
Aired June 20, 2018 - 07:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[07:30:00] REP. JEFF DENHAM (R), CALIFORNIA: Thanks for having me.
JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Appreciate it Congressman -- Alisyn.
ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, so where are Democrats on this? What can Democrats do today about this? Are they willing to compromise with Republicans to help the kids on the border?
Senator Chris Coons is next.
CAMEROTA: The Associated Press is reporting the Trump administration is operating three tender age shelters now for babies and toddlers separated from their parents at the border. More than 2,000 undocumented children have been separated from their parents since early May.
Joining us now to talk about what can be done is Democratic Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware. Good morning, Senator.
SEN. CHRIS COONS (D-DE), MEMBER, FOREIGN RELATIONS COMMITTEE, JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: Good morning, Alisyn.
What can be done is very simple.
CAMEROTA: What is it?
COONS: President Trump can reverse this policy decision that he's made.
COONS: He can stop misleading the American people by suggesting that this somehow is the responsibility of Democrats or it's required by law. Neither of those are true.
COONS: A dozen Republican senators have now said that President Trump can change this policy today.
CAMEROTA: That is a fact. COONS: Mr. President, if you're watching, you can change this today. It doesn't require legislation. You are not compelled to do this by law.
[07:35:02] Faith leaders across every major faith have been denouncing this -- most recently, Pope Francis.
This is inhumane and cruel to use children as pawns in our long- running disagreements about how to secure our borders and fix our broken immigration system.
CAMEROTA: Senator, those are facts that you've just stated. This is a policy. It is a new policy. It was concocted by the Trump administration.
He could change it today with a phone call. However --
CAMEROTA: -- for whatever reason, the president's heart is hardened to these children and so it falls to people with a conscience. What can Congress do?
You cannot rely on the president. He's not going to do anything. He doesn't want to.
So what can Congress do? What can legislation do today to fix this?
COONS: Well, given the mess at the Republican caucus meeting over on the House side last night with President Trump, given my own experience with trying to craft bipartisan legislation earlier this year, I'll remind you that one of our biggest challenges is that President Trump in his real position, what legislation he'd be willing to sign or support is a constantly moving point.
As a candidate from literally the day he entered the race for president, he has been the hardest of hardliners on immigration, describing folks who come to our country from Mexico in the most unflattering and negative terms possible.
So it's pretty hard to know what we could possibly do to either address the problem he created by reversing the policy allowing Dreamers to stay in this country --
COONS: -- or with this new heartless and cruel policy towards children.
CAMEROTA: OK. Well, let me suggest something.
COONS: It's hard to know what we can do when he's a moving point.
CAMEROTA: He said, I think yesterday from the reporting that happened inside that meeting, that he would basically sign any bill that showed up on his desk, he told Republicans -- either one of them. The so- called compromise bill or the more hardline one.
So, we just had Congressman Jeff Denham on --
CAMEROTA: -- who said that you all should get on board with their so- called -- the Republicans' so-called compromise bill because it's basically the same as what the Gang of Eight bill was in 2008.
Would you be willing to compromise on that bill?
COONS: Well, Alisyn, first, I believe that to be a mischaracterization of all the elements of that bill. And the Gang of Eight bill I think you're referring to is the one from 2013 that passed the Senate while I was here.
COONS: They are talking about a significantly different package that is far more to the right and is closer to the package that only got 39 votes here in the Senate. It was the one championed by Sec. Nielsen of Homeland Security and President Trump.
You may recall, we had four different bills on the floor of the Senate for a vote. I was the co-sponsor of one of them with Sen. McCain of Arizona. I worked hard with a bipartisan group led by Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
COONS: That one got 54 votes.
The only one that got 60 votes was the president's. It got 60 no votes and that was the farthest right --
COONS: -- and did a whole series of changes to our immigration policy.
Here is what I resent Alisyn, is that this change in policy announced by this administration is being used to create a crisis and is being used for the --
COONS: -- president to try and get his border wall --
COONS: -- and some very far-rightward moves in our immigration policy.
CAMEROTA: I get it.
COONS: I think it's inhumane to use children as bargaining chips. CAMEROTA: Agreed. Everybody agrees with you, OK? But see, that's where we are.
And so if the Democrats have to cave on the border wall I know that that would require holding your nose and that that seems still --
COONS: Alisyn, we already did that.
CAMEROTA: -- counter to what you want. But in order to help the kids --
COONS: Alisyn, the bill that I co-sponsored did that. It actually, in exchange for a pathway to citizenship for 1.3 million Dreamers, provided $25 billion in funding for border security, including a wall system.
That was taken up and voted on on the floor of the Senate and we thought it was going to pass until that day when President Trump and Sec. Nielsen began aggressively personally lobbying against it and peeled off several of our Republican likely supporters. That's what I'm speaking about.
We thought we had a deal that would get the administration's support until it got to the floor. And frankly, it is hard to keep negotiating with folks who keep moving the goalpost farther and farther right and engaging in --
COONS: -- practices that are taking America and dragging us through the mud worldwide and destroying our reputation as a humane country --
COONS: -- in order to accomplish these goals.
CAMEROTA: I hear your frustration. You're making your case in a very compelling way.
But then you have Sen. Chuck Schumer say we're not going to deal with legislation anymore. I mean, he seems to have gotten to the point where he doesn't think that legislation -- you know, your silver bullet will work, but then you're just helpless.
If you're not going to try to work with the other side and Sen. Schumer says that he's just sort of given up on legislation, then what do you tell these kids?
COONS: OK. So I have continued after that debacle on the floor, now several months ago -- I have continued to meet with and attempt to negotiate with Republican colleagues.
Alisyn, you know me. I'm someone who works tirelessly across the aisle, who tries to move bipartisan legislation.
[07:40:04] I've continued conversations about how we could make progress on addressing hundreds of thousands of folks under temporary protected status, for example, who are facing deportation. How to resolve the Dreamer issue. How to resolve some of these larger issues.
But this newly-created crisis by changing the policy on separating families who cross our border, to me is just -- it is really hard to swallow the idea that somehow this is my responsibility -- Democrats' responsibility to come even farther President Trump's way because of the cruel way children are being treated.
The solutions being put forward by Republican senators this week would instead incarcerate, in pre-trial detention, whole families in facilities that are not yet built with immigration judges that will take months if not years to fully hire.
And in pursuit of a shortened asylum process -- just two weeks -- that as someone who handled a few asylum cases as a lawyer in private practice, I will tell you it's exceptionally hard to put on a successful, competent asylum case in just two weeks.
The basic outlines of what Republicans are proposing would result in mass incarceration of children in pre-trial detention, something that has not been embraced by either party in a long time.
CAMEROTA: Senator Chris Coons, we really appreciate you spelling out so clearly your position on this. It's really helpful to talk to you.
COONS: Thank you, Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: John --
BERMAN: That was fascinating. And there you see it -- you see the position Democrats are going to be in because you could ask the question, do the kids care? Do the kids care whether or not it's the president signature or legislation?
CAMEROTA: Right, but I mean, what he's saying I think is that it actually won't help the kids if -- Democrats think it won't help the kids if they bend to the will of the Republicans, and so we are at loggerhead.
All right. A lot more coming up, including the Pope now weighing in, taking the president head-on on this decision to separate children from their parents.
[07:45:37] BERMAN: All right.
Breaking overnight, the president has a new foe in his decision to separate children from their parents at the U.S.-Mexico border. The Pope is now weighing in and agreeing. He says that the practice is immoral.
Our Delia Gallagher live in Rome with the very latest -- Delia.
DELIA GALLAGHER, CNN VATICAN CORRESPONDENT: John, that's right. Pope Francis has taken the opportunity to speak out against several of the Trump administration's policies, the first being separating children from their families at the U.S. border.
Pope Francis said he is behind, 100 percent, his U.S. Catholic bishops on that. They have called it immoral. He says he supports them in that position.
He also criticized the Trump administration pulling out of the Paris agreement, something that Pope Francis said caused him some pain because the future of humanity is at stake, he said.
And on the question of Cuba and the Trump administration rolling back some of the Obama administration's deal to open for its trade and travel to Cuba -- a deal that was partially brokered by the Vatican -- Pope Francis said he was saddened because he thought that that deal was a good step forward.
Also, John and Alisyn, the Pope said he's not even thinking about resigning -- Alisyn.
CAMEROTA: All right, Delia. Thank you very much for that update from Rome.
BERMAN: The president -- the Pope, I should say, actually just tweeted --
CAMEROTA: And what'd he say?
BERMAN: -- on this. He says, "A person's dignity does not depend on them being a citizen, a migrant, or a refugee. Saving the life of someone fleeing war and poverty is an act of humanity."
CAMEROTA: So everyone has humanity, he's saying.
BERMAN: That's --
CAMEROTA: Is that what I'm supposed to understand from this?
BERMAN: Just now from the Pope.
CAMEROTA: That's --
BERMAN: Imagine that.
CAMEROTA: I'm having a hard time getting my mind around that.
So, if you've ever wondered what it's like to be one of Donald Trump's children we have the answer for you, next.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [07:51:30] BERMAN: The home team, Russia, on a roll at the World Cup, on the brink of advancing to the knockout round for the first time since the Soviet era.
Lindsay Czarniak has more in the "Bleacher Report."
LINDSAY CZARNIAK, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: They're celebrating so much right now in Russia, John, that there's a bit of a beer shortage, so that's fact.
BERMAN: That's what vodka's for.
CZARNIAK: Exactly, I'm glad you said that.
This is a story we're following though because it is a bit of a surprise. Russia came into this World Cup ranked 70th -- that's the lowest ranking. Now, the host team has racked up more goals than anyone in the tournament.
This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by Ford, going further so you can.
Russia was expected to do so poorly the team was the butt of jokes. But, Russia has proven much more than just a formidable host, beating Egypt in convincing style, three to one, scoring three goals in the first 16 minutes of the second half.
They've now scored eight goals in their first two games, and listen to the fan reaction.
Though it's not official yet, but Russia will likely advance as long as Saudi Arabia does not beat Uruguay later today.
And get this -- some bars in Moscow are already running out of beer. According to reports, some locations near the Kremlin and Red Square are struggling to meet the demand and we're only seven days into the month-long tournament. So as Berman says, vodka for everyone.
BERMAN: Vodka for everyone. Look, they're the home team. They have an advantage there and they didn't exactly have a tough group.
CZARNIAK: Well, are you saying they're lucky?
BERMAN: I'm saying they're lucky and the fix is in.
CZARNIAK: Oh, oh.
BERMAN: And it's Russia, after all.
All right, Lindsay, thank you --
CZARNIAK: We'll see, we'll see.
BERMAN: -- very much. CZARNIAK: They've dominated.
BERMAN: Alisyn --
CAMEROTA: Vodka for everyone. That's John's motto.
Meanwhile, GOP congressmen telling reporters that President Trump brought up his daughter, Ivanka, during their meeting last night on immigration.
Mr. Trump said his oldest daughter, who is the White House adviser, talked to him about the images of the children being separated from their parents at the border and called for an end to his policy, but that hasn't happened.
Joining us now is Emily Jane Fox.
She's the author of the new book, "Born Trump: Inside America's First Family." The book is plated in gold. It's a great cover and it's a great read. It's fascinating to hear about his relationship with his kids and vice versa.
So you say that this where we see Donald Trump at his kindest and his cruelest when it comes to his kids. What does that mean?
EMILY JANE FOX, AUTHOR, "BORN TRUMP: INSIDE AMERICA'S FIRST FAMILY", SENIOR REPORTER, "VANITY FAIR": There is a lot in the book that explains the dynamic between father and children and the relationship among the siblings.
And for all the privilege that the children had growing up -- and there's much juicy detail about the kinds of privilege that these children had growing up, going to boarding schools and living in the triplex on Fifth Avenue -- for all of that -- all of the things that they had and the glitz and the glamour, there was also a lot of difficulties in their childhood because of their parents.
They suffered an incredibly public divorce and their children were thrust into the middle of it. They were followed on their way to school by paparazzi.
CAMEROTA: It was a humiliating split --
FOX: It -- yes.
CAMEROTA: -- because Donald Trump was publicly cheating on Ivana, his first wife, with Marla Maples.
And so, every -- I mean, I remember this being in New York around that time. Every day on the "New York Post" it would say -- you know, there'd be some new episode of some fight or some public spat or some public show of affection and I can only imagine how humiliating that was.
And so, what did that do to the relationship? FOX: Well, not only was it in the papers every day, it was in the papers every day because Donald and Ivana were leaking it to the papers every day. So that is a cruel action to know that your children are being followed on their way to school with paparazzi holding up these headlines and still doing it anyway.
[07:55:04] So they actually had to be plucked out of school and taken down to Mar-a-Lago for a couple of months because the pressure and the intensity of the coverage was so intense.
And what it did was -- in some ways, it bonded the children, right? They were isolated and alone and facing this very difficult situation down in Florida, just with each other. There was no school, there were no classmates, and so it formed a bond between them that we've seen on the campaign trail and in Trump Tower, as well.
But the way that they reacted to their father's divorce and his behavior at that time, it's still -- we're watching it play out today.
CAMEROTA: Well, I want to ask you about that because now they seem very close to their father. But was there a time that they were estranged and how is all that old dirty laundry playing out today?
FOX: So, Don, Jr. was 12 when this played out. Actually -- the fight -- and the famed fight which I get into in great detail in the book, it's a horrible but very juicy story. He was 12 and it was the day before his birthday and he did not take kindly to what happened. He did not speak to his father for quite some time then.
CAMEROTA: That his father was cheating on his mother --
FOX: Right, and --
CAMEROTA: -- and he was protective of their mother.
FOX: -- he said basically, you did this. That this was -- this breaking up of the family was your fault, that the publicity was your fault, and he really blamed his father.
Now, Ivanka was very nervous that this meant she wasn't going to be a Trump anymore. And so she went closer to him. She called him more often. She visited him more often.
And she was always scared -- she's said in interviews over the years -- that perhaps she would be replaced by other people in his life. And I think that that dynamic if what we're seeing now -- perhaps part of the reason why she moved down to Washington and doesn't speak out against some of the things he does.
CAMEROTA: Let's talk about that because -- so there was that meeting last night where she reportedly -- or at least he claims -- President Trump claims that she told him that she was uncomfortable with this policy of separating children from parents, but the policy still stands.
So this idea beforehand that she would be some sort of voice of reason or that she held any sway with him, is there any evidence that she does?
FOX: I don't think we've seen -- I've been reporting on Ivanka for three years and there is always a story -- an item about how she's advocated either publicly, which she once did in the Roy Moore campaign, or privately as she has said to be done -- that she has done numerous times and nothing has ever changed.
So if you are an advocate and you're not effective, as we're seeing now, and you really, truly care about these issues, I don't know how you stay in an administration that is pushing agenda items that are so antithetical to your beliefs.
CAMEROTA: Well, is the reason that the kids are bankrolled by Donald Trump and by The Trump Organization?
FOX: It's not just that they're bankrolled but their relationship is so intertwined and to go against your father in this family is the ultimate sin.
And that is part of the thing that I learned most in this book, is just trying to understand and what I think will be most helpful is a deeper understanding of the roots of this relationship to answer some of these questions that we're seeing now about their behavior, and their decisions, and their actions.
CAMEROTA: But they seem so devoted. Are there any fissures between the kids and the father relationship?
FOX: No, no.
CAMEROTA: They're all in.
FOX: They -- family loyalty is the ultimate Trump calling card and they play it over and over and over again.
CAMEROTA: Emily Jane Fox, the book, again, is "Born Trump." It is fascinating. You have a lot of reporting from inside America's first family.
Great book. Thanks so much for sharing it --
FOX: Thank you.
CAMEROTA: -- with us.
All right, we're following a lot of news. Let's get right to it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REV. JAMES MARTIN, JESUIT PRIEST, EDITOR-AT-LARGE, "AMERICA, THE JESUIT REVIEW", AUTHOR, "JESUS: A PILGRIMAGE" AND "BUILDING A BRIDGE," CONSULTOR TO THE SECRETARIAT FOR COMMUNICATION, "VATICAN NEWS": It's sinful. It's an assault on human dignity. I really wonder how people can sleep at night.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: When you prosecute the parents for coming in illegally, we have to take the children away.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is basically holding these kids hostage for his political stunts.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's rooms with toddlers. Even children underneath the age of one are being separated.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know how we've become so hard-hearted.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If we want this law changed that's on nobody else but Congress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We need to get this done. The overall bill the House is considering would be preferable.
SEN. CHUCK SCHUMER (D-NY), SENATE MINORITY LEADER: Mr. President, I'll lend you my pen. You can fix it yourself.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ANNOUNCER: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota and John Berman.
BERMAN: All right, a lot of activity this morning on this and Alisyn is ready.
Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Wednesday, June 20th, 8:00 in the east.
And the breaking news this morning, the world seems to be lining up against the president and his decision to separate children from parents who have illegally crossed the border.
These images of children in cages clearly striking a chord around the world and just moments ago, the British Prime Minister Theresa May spoke on the floor of Parliament.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
THERESA MAY, PRIME MINISTER, UNITED KINGDOM: The pictures of children being held in what appear to be cages are deeply disturbing. This is wrong. This is not something that we agree with. This is not the United Kingdom's approach.
(END VIDEO CLIP)