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Interview with Mayor Bill de Blasio; Supreme Court Rules on Internet Sales Tax; House Kicks Off Votes on Immigration Bills; Actor Peter Fonda Apologizes After Vicious Tweet About Barron Trump; Cases Dropped Against 17 Parents Whose Kids were Taken Away; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired June 21, 2018 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY: -- kids are going through emotionally, mentally, but also, you know, kids who unfortunately contracted some kind of disease.


DE BLASIO: That are being sent to where a whole bunch of other kids are.


DE BLASIO: There's no rhyme or reason to it.

HARLOW: So tell me why -- I mean, you traveled from New York down to Texas, down to the border today for a specific reason. Why and what are you trying to see?

DE BLASIO: Poppy, this has to stop. And a group of mayors have gathered here from all over the country. I want to emphasize, a bipartisan group, Republicans and Democrats. Small cities, big cities, who all are saying in unison this policy has to stop. The executive order is not enough. We have to end the separation of families and we have to reunify all these families who have been torn apart, and we have to go back to actually respecting people seeking asylum.

It is an American tradition for literally 200-plus years of people who come here fleeing oppression.


DE BLASIO: We have to restore some real decency in the asylum process and of course we need an actual comprehensive immigration reform. This is becoming a bipartisan consensus on the ground all over this country. We are going to, as mayors, fight together to get this to actually be acted on in Washington. People have gathered here at the point of contact to say this is no longer acceptable to the American people what's happening here.

HARLOW: So as you know, the administration would push back on that and DHS, and say, look, the asylum seekers who do it the right legal way don't get separated. Right? And they go through that process. These are people that try to legally to cross over. Are you trying to get into some of these centers down there, Mr. Mayor, that are holding these children? And if so, have you been permitted access? Because Democratic Senator Bill Nelson just told me that he tried to get in the Florida center and, you know, they said no.

DE BLASIO: You know, up at the center in New York, the folks who work there is a nonprofit organization. They were welcoming, they were transparent, they were open. We're going to see in a few minutes when all the mayors gather here, whether we're given that same respect and that same transparency.

Look, when our government is holding people, particularly children, and won't allow public officials to see, something's wrong right there. There's no accountability here. It's a dangerous situation.


DE BLASIO: So we're going to go in, a group of us mayors, and demand access. I agree with you. Senators and Congress people have been turned away and that should bother all Americans.

HARLOW: It sounds like, according to Senator Nelson, they were told you need to give us two weeks' notice before we let you in, so it's not -- they're not being let it. It's two weeks' notice. You're shaking your head. I understand you want to see it right away. Understandably there's also privacy issues. But do let us know if you get in.

Let me just talk about compromise. That is the operative word but it's the word that is missing on Capitol Hill because even if this compromise Republican bill makes it through the House, no way it's going to make it through the Senate. And it doesn't look like it has any Democratic votes. What do you think? And you don't have a vote in this. You're not in Congress. But what do you think your fellow Democrats in Congress, Mr. Mayor, should give on? Should they fund the wall, for example, to protect Dreamers and to end the family separation?

DE BLASIO: Look, I think the big answer is to go for comprehensive immigration reform. And we all understand there's going to be compromises in that process. But here's what's interesting, Poppy, and that's why mayors are gathering because the grassroots have to really be felt here. The current reality in Congress is they prefer not to act for a variety of reasons. The American people is pretty clear. They want comprehensive immigration reform. They want the Dreamers to be able to stay. They want these families reunified.

HARLOW: Right.

DE BLASIO: That's the framework right there.

HARLOW: Should Democrats fund the wall to get that?

DE BLASIO: So of course there's going to be compromise.

HARLOW: Should it conclude money for the -- DE BLASIO: There has to be compromise, I understand that, but the --

HARLOW: For the wall.

DE BLASIO: It needs to be a comprehensive immigration reform. Here's the bottom line. It needs to be a comprehensive immigration reform. The notion of trading one small piece for another and not solving the problem, misunderstands what's going on in this crisis. We're having a moral crisis right now. And actually most people in this country want that fundamental moral crisis addressed in a comprehensible manner.

They can deal with compromise. We can all deal with compromise but we don't want to nickel and dime it. Let's actually solve this challenge and come up with a comprehensive immigration reform.

HARLOW: I think everyone who makes these decisions should think if those were my kids, what would I be doing?

Mayor Bill de Blasio, thank you. Please let us know, will you, if you get into the center. I do have to jump to some breaking news out of the Supreme Court, but I appreciate your time.

As I said, breaking news out of the Supreme Court. They just issued a ruling on Internet sales tax. It could matter for you. This brought to the high court.

Joe Johns is outside of it with more. What was this case about? What's the decision?

JOE JOHNS, CNN SENIOR WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Poppy, I know you're interested in this case and it affects just about anybody who shops online in the United States of America quite frankly. The headline on the case is the Supreme Court allow states to compel retailers to collect out-of-state tax from out-of-state online vendors.

So what that means is a lot of people when they shop online may be under the impression that they're not paying sales tax. The fact of the matter is this is a huge business, perhaps $100 billion over the next 10 years that the states would have lost if the courts had ruled the other way.

[10:35:10] That's at least according to some estimates. Some other estimates including the GAO say something like between 80 percent and 90 percent of the top online vendors actually already collect this tax. Nonetheless, the importance of it is now the online vendors and others who are out of state and importantly don't have brick and mortar buildings or people, employees, working in that particular state will have to now collect the sales tax.

Poppy, as you know, the states have been chomping at the bit on this. Connecticut, by the way, has already told vendors, you'd better get that money ready.

HARLOW: Yes. JOHNS: Back to you.

HARLOW: All right. Appreciate that. And of course, we're still waiting to hear from the high court what the decision is on the travel ban case. So still waiting for that one.

Thank you very much. Appreciate it, Joe Johns.

The power of women. How the first lady and Ivanka Trump used their influence to sway the president on this executive order concerning separation at the border, ahead.


[10:40:14] HARLOW: In just moments the House will begin voting on two crucial immigration bills. The road to them passing, though, looking increasingly bleak. President Trump who has claimed for weeks that Congress is the only body that can fix the current situation now casting doubt on whether either of these bills can even make it through the House.

With me now former Republican Congressman Charlie Dent, former national press secretary for Bernie Sanders in 2016, Symone Sanders, both CNN political commentators.

It's nice to have you here.

Representative Dent, let me begin with you. The president saying, as he signed this executive order to end his own policy that effectively separated parents from children, said I don't like the sight or the feeling of families being separated, but to be clear, he knew, right? He knew that this is what zero tolerance would mean. So what do you make of him saying that now?

CHARLIE DENT, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I guess, Poppy, the only thing I can say is it's like, giving the arsonist credit for putting out the fire he started. I'm glad you put out the fire, but you're to blame for the fire to begin with. So again it's just incoherent. I'll tell you, on the politics of this, I simply cannot fathom who thought this was a good idea to separate these families. I mean, you may get beyond the inhumanity and the mean-spiritedness of it all, and the morality of it, who thought this was a good idea?

I mean, it's just absurd to think that splitting up these families would somehow send a message. It's just -- it's just been horrible. And it's just further inflaming and dividing the country and it's really very unfortunate.

HARLOW: Symone, I just had Mayor de Blasio on the program, Democrat mayor of New York City. I just had Bill Nelson, a Democrat, and neither of them said they wouldn't support as Democrats funding of a wall, right, to get some of what they want in this. Of course the mayor doesn't have a vote in it. But Bill Nelson was willing, was willing to have wall funding. What do you think overall the Democrats -- and the president keeps pointing a finger at the Democrats. What do you think is the key thing the Democrats need to bend on here

to actually get comprehensive immigration reform and to protect the Dreamers and to deal with family separation?

SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: So I will say the bill's currently in the House right now, Poppy, don't get us the comprehensive immigration reform. I think -- both of these bills currently are temporary fixes that do not -- they're Republican bills, that do not get to the heart of the matter of ending the zero tolerance policy, of finding out what happens to these children after they have already -- over 2,000 children that arrived and separated from their families.

But I think Democrats -- I mean, they have to be willing to play ball. I've talked to many members, many staff and aides, and to be frank, they said that they're absolutely willing to come to the table in -- with Republicans in good faith. But the problem, Poppy, is that the Republican caucus currently in the House doesn't have their own caucus together. So I don't understand how they're asking Democrats to play ball on an issue and concede on an issue that their own caucus has not come to a consensus on.

HARLOW: Let me ask you, Representative Dent, just about what this does to the party overall. We just heard last night from a longtime, well-known Republican strategist Steve Schmidt who, you know, ran John McCain's presidential campaign in 2008, and who tweeted this and I'm going to paraphrase it, because it's a bit long. But he said after 29 years and nine months of, you know, becoming a Republican, I'm out of the party. I mean, this is the party that was formed to oppose slavery. I now renounce my membership in this party because it is the party of Trump.

Is there a danger here to the party overall as we are, what, you know, 140 days out from the midterms?

DENT: Yes. There is a real danger to the party because of this immigration at the border. You know, clearly in my view, this -- what we've just witnessed, and again, suburban women, and many -- I've talked to some colleagues, former colleagues just recently. And they're very concerned. They're getting just pummeled on this issue at home. Members of -- Republican members who represent districts with large Hispanic population, this just terrible for them. And for somebody in the White House to suggest that this is good politics, hey, maybe this plays in the deepest reddest district somewhere in the south, but I've got to tell you, where I come from in Pennsylvania and across the river from New Jersey, this is just terrible.

You know, not only on the -- from a humanitarian standpoint but from a political perspective. Of course, this is doing damage to members who represent these swing and marginal districts. It makes absolutely no sense. I hope they can pass an immigration bill through the discharge petition that I had signed. That fell a little bit short. Now you've got these two bills, neither of which are going to go anywhere apparently. I don't think either will pass the House, and they certainly won't go anywhere in the Senate if either does. So we've got to get back to something -- to real legislating again, sitting down, bipartisan, compromise. We can pass bills. They just have to allow a vote on the floor.

HARLOW: Symone, let me ask you about a new CNN polling out on the generic ballot, this basically asked voters, if you had to vote today, would you vote for a Republican or would you vote for a Democrat at the top of the ticket and all the way down.

[10:45:03] What was a 16-point lead for Democrats on that back in February is now an eight-point lead for Democrats. Are you worried about that? Should Democrats feel a little worried about that ahead of the midterms?

SANDERS: I'm not worried about ahead of the midterms, Poppy, for two reasons. One, while the generic ballot is a generic indicator, in midterm elections, folks are voting for in specific districts for specific folks. It's not a national election and so in the end the specific districts matter, the makeup of the districts, the issues are very localized.

But two, you know, this is what happens when you get closer to a midterm election. I would venture to say it's only June. Now when we get closer to August I think that's -- and September, that is a very strong indicator of where we actually are. But Democrats are out there running on the issues. You know, folks are talking about the tax bill, folks are talking about the Affordable Care Act and the attempt of Republicans in the House to again repeal the Affordable Care Act. That they're putting -- they're going to put it on the table again this summer.

And so these are the things that are potent in districts across the country. And frankly, they're going to be talking about the inhumane immigration policy of this administration. I know Donald Trump and his allies want to talk about MS-13, but when you see these photos of these young children, these kids, all over the news, that doesn't look like MS-13 to me.

HARLOW: Thank you, Symone. Thank you, Representative Dent. Appreciate it.

Coming up, what a Hollywood actor tweeted that made the first lady's office contact the Secret Service line next.


[10:50:54] HARLOW: Actor Peter Fonda apologizing after a vicious tweet he made involving the president's young son Barron. Melania Trump's office contacted Secret Service after Fonda angrily suggested that Barron be put in a cage with pedophiles. Fonda has a movie due to be released tomorrow by Sony Pictures and it has many asking why is he not being treated the same way Roseanne Barr was after her racist rant. Of course she was fired by ABC after she went after Valerie Jarrett.

CNN senior media correspondent and host of "RELIABLE SOURCES" Brian Stelter is here.

Look, it's a fair question. BRIAN STELTER, CNN SENIOR MEDIA CORRESPONDENT: It is a fair question,

but I think the answer has to do with the differences between these two people and their two platforms. Roseanne Barr had almost a million followers on Twitter, one of the biggest stars on television at the time that she posted that racist tweet. This actor, frankly, a washed up actor, best known for films from decades ago. He has about 50,000 followers on Twitter and his movie is only due out in about five theaters.

Nonetheless what he posted was very, very inappropriate. It was condemned not just by the Trump family but by many others as well all across the political world. And here's a part of his apology that he came out with to try to clear this up later in the day. He said, "Like many Americans I'm very impassioned and distraught over the situation with children separated from the border. But I went way too far." He says, "It was wrong, and I should not have done it. I immediately regretted it and sincerely apologize to the family for what I said and any hurt my words have caused."

You know, he was tweeting about wanting to rip Barron Trump out of Melania's arms. It was completely beyond the pale. And so he did take some responsibility for that.

HARLOW: And the East Wing came out with a statement condemning this as well.

STELTER: Yes. They're saying the Secret Service have been advised. We don't know if there's been any serious follow-up on that.

HARLOW: Right.

STELTER: But the Secret Service says it was aware of the tweet.


STELTER: Look, it's yet another reminder that people mouthing off on Twitter, expressing their most private emotions, their most disgusting emotions, can have real world consequences. So in the case of Sony Pictures, Donald Trump Jr. spoke out wondering what the studio would do. Here is what the studio is saying. The short answer is this film that he's in will still be released probably because he only has a small part.

The company said, "Peter Fonda's remarks -- comments were abhorrent, reckless, and dangerous and we condemn them. But it's important to note that Mr. Fonda plays a very minor in the film. To yank it out of the theaters would hurt everybody else involved" -- Poppy.

HARLOW: Brian Stelter, thank you for being here. Important.

STELTER: Thanks.

HARLOW: All right. We have some breaking news to bring you right after this.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [10:57:41] HARLOW: A federal prosecutor in Texas has just dropped the cases against 17 undocumented immigrants who've been separated from their children already.

Polo Sandoval has this breaking news for us out of Texas. This is significant. What can you tell us? It sounds like -- Polo, can you hear me?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Poppy, I can tell you that this is, as one civil rights attorney describes it, an extremely huge deal. This is why before today, any and all undocumented mothers and fathers who were brought to the federal courthouse here in downtown McAllen would be criminally charged with that misdemeanor charge of illegal entry, part of President Trump's zero tolerance policy.

Today, however, 17 mothers and fathers were brought here to the court, to the federal courthouse in McAllen, and prosecutors with the U.S. attorney's office using their discretion to not pursue those charges against these individuals who were detained recently here.

I can tell you that this is -- at this point we're still trying to find out exactly why they pursued that. But that certainly does not align with the message that Donald Trump has been trying to send to his base, zero tolerance, that any and all people who are apprehended at the border for crossing illegally would face charges.

However, now these 17 men and women are about to leave the courthouse here in downtown McAllen with no conviction here, and so now the question is, what will happen to their children, of course, and does this help their case in trying to be reunited with their children. These 17 individuals were apprehended at the border on Monday and Tuesday and were subsequently separated from their children.

HARLOW: On that point, Polo, I mean, do we know because there's mixed messaging coming out of HHS and Customs and Border Patrol about reuniting, and when that will happen. Do we know, if you can hear me?

SANDOVAL: Hey, Poppy. I've got you know. Go ahead.

HARLOW: Do we know if they will definitely be reunited with their children?

SANDOVAL: It's a major question right now, Poppy. Keep in mind that these are mothers and fathers who have already separated with their children which means according to several of our sources, if their children are already in the care of the government, they're already either in foster care, with relatives, and if that is not the case, then they're at some of the centers across the country right. The centers we've been showing you.

HARLOW: OK. Thank you, Polo. Appreciate the update on that news.

Thank you all for being with us today. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. I'll hand it over to my colleague, Kate Bolduan. "AT THIS HOUR" starts now.