Return to Transcripts main page


Religious Leaders Hit Trump; Sessions Invokes Bible; Ronaldo Leads to Victory; Trauma of Separation for Children. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired June 21, 2018 - 06:30   ET


[06:32:45] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: The White House pushing forward with its plan to shrink the size of the federal government by proposing to merge the Labor and Education Departments. "The Washington Post" says it would be the centerpiece of the Trump administration's long-awaited proposal to make Washington function more effectively. The plan also calls for streamlining the way the government provides benefits for low-income Americans. The merger of Labor and Education, that would need Congress to take action.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: The FBI says the number of sexual assaults on commercial flights is increasing at an alarming rate. An FBI investigation revealing the amount cases have increased by 66 percent. And that's just from 2014 through 2017. Investigators say the numbers are likely higher because many cases have gone unreported. The bureau says the bulk of these incidents are happening on red-eye flights and also on flights where alcohol is being consumed.

BERMAN: They're crazy numbers.

Actor Peter Fonda now apologizing for this Twitter rant where he said the president's 12-year-old son should be ripped from, quote, his mother's arms, and put in a cage with pedophiles. Fonda went on to call the president a vulgar name. The Secret Service was alerted. The tweet was later deleted. Fonda said he was upset by the family separations at the border, but admitted he went way too far. Indeed. A spokeswoman for the First Lady Melania Trump called the tweet sick and irresponsible. Look, I think we've said it a million times, the president's young son Barron, I mean, beyond off-limits.

HILL: Yes.

BERMAN: Even then, even with that stipulation, this was beyond the pale.

HILL: It absolutely was.

There's been so much reaction, understandably, to these pictures. We know a lot of this coming into play for the president's reversal. But that may not be the only thing. What about the impact of evangelical leaders speaking out? How much did that come into play?


[06:38:25] BERMAN: President Trump reversed his decision on family separations. A group that had been strongly critical of the practice, evangelical leaders. How influential were they in getting the president to change course?

Joining me now is the chief political correspondent for The Christian Broadcasting Network, our friend, David Brody.

David, thanks so much for being with us. I always learn something when I get a chance to talk to you.

You've been on the phone with a whole lot of people. Do these evangelical leaders, do they think they pushed the president here to make this reversal?

DAVID BRODY, CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, CBN: One hundred percent. Can I go higher than -- I guess I can go higher than 100 percent. Yes, absolutely. Those statements in public, whether it be from Ralph Reed, Sammy Rodriguez, one of the conservative evangelical leaders, all of that made a difference.

And, honestly, John, behind the scenes as well that this Faith Advisory Council we hear so much about, look, they have been communicating with this White House, making known their displeasure about this. And because of that, we have seen clearly -- look, they're not going to say in publicly, but the truth of the matter is, they've been pushing the White House on this and it's been a big part of the reason why you see this executive order.

BERMAN: It's interesting you say they won't say it publicly. And there has been this line here, even as Franklin Graham was others were critical of the policy, they won't criticize the president, even though this was his choice, the White House. They did this. Yet they won't criticize him for it. Why?

BRODY: Well, there are a couple of different reasons. Look, they have access to this president. They have a good relationship with this president. And why mess it up?

And this is a good example, John, of why it's important for evangelical leaders, conservatives evangelical leaders especially, to have influence with this president. They made a difference here on the immigration debate. And, quite frankly, there will be a lot of other public policy debates coming out in the future where they'll have that same difference.

[06:40:06] So I think it's important that they realize that, why ruin a relationship when they can have some serious impact.

BERMAN: It is interesting, though, why mess it up, you say, on something that should be -- is, frankly, so antithetical to their beliefs, and that's what you're telling here, yet they refuse to criticize him publicly. It goes back to that statement he made some time ago, he could walk down 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not be criticized from his base. I mean, could he? Could he walk down 5th Avenue and shoot somebody and not get criticized by evangelical leaders? BRODY: Well, I think that might be tough. But I will say this, that, look, I think what evangelical leaders have done here has been actually pretty good and it -- and it pushed him for sure.

I think that -- look, there's an overarching philosophy here and, you know, within -- within the evangelical community -- and I think the president is finding this out -- there are two biblical principles. There is the biblical principle of compassion, there's the biblical principle of law and order and, as Jeff Sessions found out the other day, he went with the law and order route but didn't throw in the Matthew 25, as we like to say, the compassion part of it. And I think if you're going to do that, if you're going to -- what people are criticizing him for, cherry-picking Bible verses, look, you've got to put the whole, as they would say, kit and caboodle in there.

And I've got to tell you, John, the progressive left does the same thing. They go Matthew 25 and talk about the social justice compassion Gospel. But if they're going to do that, how about talking about the pro-live issue in terms of the unborn, in terms of compassion for the unborn. So they cherry pick from a political advantage as well.

BERMAN: I want to come back to Jeff Sessions and the Bible in a second. I know you're talking to Jeff Sessions a little bit later today. That's fascinating.

But back to the idea of this line of evangelical leaders and the president. Does this show that there is a line? Does this show that there is something, you know, an extent that he which go -- will go and that they will not accept?

BRODY: I don't know about a line. He -- if there's a line of any sort, it's the compassion line. And I think this is something that evangelicals, obviously, are very sensitive to. But also this president has been very sensitive too. And a lot of people say, wait, sensitive to compassion, let me explain.

I can go to -- numerous times that I've been with this president in certain situations, especially one was at this network anchors luncheon back around the State of the Union time and he talked about, as president, you have to have heart is what he said. And he goes, and I've got to tell you, as a businessman, I never really had to deal with that.

BERMAN: Right.

BRODY: But, in this case, as president you have to. And it's been a different learning process for him, if you will.

BERMAN: And you can see that this morning --


BERMAN: Because while he has reversed parts of this policy he created, they have no answer for what happens to the 2,300 children already separated from their parents. That's astounding. I mean I'm very surprised by that. We're trying to figure out where that's going coming up.

You're talking to Jeff Sessions, the attorney general, in a little bit. Also fascinating. You just talked about how he cited the Bible as justification for this government policy to separate children from their parents. How was that received by the community, and what do you intend to press him on?

BRODY: Well, there were a couple, obviously, a few evangelical leaders that had an issue with that, and we'll talk about that today. That will be one thing.

In terms of what I'll talk to him about, lots of different things.

First of all, exactly what you just said, what happens to these 2,300 folks? You know, we're going to talk about that. We'll talk about the Flores agreement and exactly how hard this will be. I mean, look, the Obama administration tried this in 2014, didn't have much success. What will Senator -- oh, excuse me, Senator Sessions, Attorney General Sessions do about that? So we'll go through all of that.

We will also talk about the biblical prism that this is all being seen through. And that should be relatively fascinating. And, of course, his church condemning him. We'll talk quite a bit about that as well.

BERMAN: I can't wait to hear what he has to say about that.

David Brody, as I said, always an education to speak to you. Thanks so much for being with us.

BRODY: Thanks, John.

BERMAN: Erica.

HILL: All right, just ahead, super -- soccer superstar Cristiano Ronaldo scoring big at the World Cup. We've got the latest --

BERMAN: He's amazing.

HILL: He is.

BERMAN: He's amazing. This is amazing. Let's just watch this all morning. This is amazing.

HILL: John Berman is all in.


[06:47:57] HILL: Cristiano Ronaldo came into the World Cup as one of the biggest stars, and he still is, just in case you were worried, certainly living up to the fame.

Andy Scholes has more for us in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

This number one fan, John Berman, very happy so far with his performance. ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Erica, I think there's a lot of people vying for that number one fan spot. You know, this is quickly becoming the Ronaldo world cup. He's just been so good.

This "Bleacher Report" brought to you by Ford, going further so you can.

Portugal's superstar, he was at it again yesterday. He scored on a header in the fourth minute against Morocco. It's Ronaldo's fourth goal of this World Cup through just two games. And, you know, some people have been wondering, well, why is Ronaldo growing that facial hair during this World Cup because he usually doesn't have any. Well, some think his goatee is in response to Messi taking pictures with goats before the World Cup. You know, the big argument in world soccer is, who is the greatest of all time? The goat. Is it Ronaldo? Is it Messi? Definitely been Ronaldo so far in this world cup. Messi gets his chance to answer. Argentina plays Croatia at 2:00 Eastern today.

All right, Iran may have lost to Spain yesterday, but at home they celebrated a landmark moment. For the first time in 37 years, women were allowed to watch the team play in Azadi Stadium in Tehran. Previously women were banned from watching men's sporting events and breaking the rules could result in arrests fines or even imprisonment. Many women posted selfies from inside the stadium documenting the moment.

And, John, it remains to be seen whether Wednesday's event will be a permanent solution, allowing Iranian women to watch sporting events there, or if it's just a temporary thing for the World Cup.

BERMAN: Let's hope. Let's hope. Iran, by the way, played fantastically yesterday. It was one of the best games of the tournament so far.


BERMAN: On to Cristiano Ronaldo, let's just say, no one should be that good looking and that good at the same time.

HILL: It's, you know, it's a burden for him, I'm sure.

BERMAN: Yes, it's a burden for him.

And he grows the facial hair because he can. I do think that's the other aspect of it.

HILL: It's good that you're not feeling jealous or in any way, you know --

BERMAN: He's fine. He's like the Tom Brady of soccer, good and good looking. No one says that about me in news.

[06:49:59] All right, the trauma of separation. Look, what happens to the 2,300 children who have been separated from their parents? How do they feel this morning? How can they be helped? Dr. Sanjay Gupta joins us next.


HILL: President Trump's executive order to end family separations at the border does not include a plan to reunite the more than 2,300 children who have already been taken from their families. Health experts, including the American Medical Association, are warning of the trauma that separation can have on these children, not just now, but throughout their lives.

Joining us now, CNN chief medical correspondent Dr. Sanjay Gupta.

Sanjay, as we look at this or this letter from the AMA, they're saying very clearly they should not be separated. And they talk about the lasting impact, saying families seeking refuge in the U.S. already endure emotional and physical stress, which is only exacerbated when they're separated from one another. It's well-known that childhood trauma and adverse childhood experiences created by inhumane treatment often create negative health impacts that can last an individual's entire lifespan.

[06:55:09] What kind of things are we talking about, because it goes beyond just the, I'm not feeling good, I miss my parents part of it?

DR. SANJAY GUPTA, CNN CHIEF MEDICAL CORRESPONDENT: Oh, it -- right. And the American Pediatric Association, the American Association of Pediatrics, echoed those comments as well saying this goes against everything, you know, we sort of do as pediatricians.

There are long lasting effects. We're talking about something that's known as toxic stress. And there have been people who have been talking about this concept for years. But the basic gist of it is this, you go through some stressor in life and you have these physiological changes that occur in your body. When you're a young child, especially a child under the age of five in particular, those stressors are really buffered by being with a parent, being with someone who's actually providing a sort of sense of comfort, something to actually alleviate that stress. If you have both these things, so the significant rise in stress without the buffering, that's the toxic stress. And that's what they're specifically talking about that could cause these longer lasting effects on the body and the brain.

I was really struck by the fact that if you look at mental health disorders in adulthood, about a third of them originate from a toxic childhood event. That's what the data will show. And then there's a whole host of other physical effects as well. I think we have a list of things that basically are correlated with adverse childhood adversity and specifically this sort of toxic stress.

And, look, these maybe be things that you think, well, how is that related exactly? Heart disease, lung disease, smoking. Some of that is because people will start to self-medicate to try and alleviate the toxic stress. They don't have the buffering anymore from their parents, so they learn to self-medicate.

In other words, because the body actually changes in response to this toxic stress. Some of this I have learned about from talking to some of these folks who deal with this on a day-to-day basis. But this is real. We're seeing an example of it. But this has happened, you know, throughout time.

HILL: There was a -- there's understandable concern, and there should be focus on children of all ages, but there's been a lot made about these tender age facilities and babies and toddlers.


HILL: We can't ignore, though, the fact that a large number, at least according to HHS, of the kids that we're talking about right now are between the ages of 13 and 17. Those are pivotal years for kids. How is it different when you are a teenager, when you are at this point in adolescence?

GUPTA: Well, it's interesting. So, first of all, if you look at the -- what's called the ORR, the Office of Refugee Resettlement, most of the data is primarily on adolescence. And the way that they sort of characterize it is people who are actually able to walk across the border.

HILL: Unaccompanied.

GUPTA: Unaccompanied.

HILL: Not who have been -- exactly, haven't been separated.

GUPTA: Right. They -- as opposed to people who are tender age. They just -- they haven't -- as we look through the resettlement data, there isn't a lot just on children that young.

So, on the adolescence, it's a lot of the same factors. You still have the component of toxic stress. These are still young kids. They lose sense of trust. Within a few days, they won't actually be able to respond as well, even if they're reunited with their parents.

HILL: It's amazing they lose a sense of trust within just a few days.

GUPTA: Within a few days. Again, it's because they have these two things that are happening simultaneously.

HILL: Yes.

GUPTA: This increase in stress and this lack of some sort of buffering of that stress that they've trusted throughout -- throughout their life.

HILL: I know there have also been these studies that have been written about too that focus on how these traumatic moments impact boys and girls differently.

GUPTA: Yes, absolutely. And I think we have some -- we have some data in showing basically who's coming across the border, how it breaks down by gender specifically. But, yes, it seems to break down. And it also breaks down by who actually is leading them as well. Is their mother or father leading them. You can see the age breakdown. You can see the gender breakdown there as well. But it does seem to have an impact. But, you know, when you get into that smaller, that younger age group,

there just isn't a lot of data on people that young.

HILL: Yes.

GUPTA: Certainly not from ORR.

HILL: Certainly doesn't mean that there's not a lasting impact.

The term child abuse has been used a lot over the last few days. Is that a legal term? Is it a clinical term?

GUPTA: It is a -- it's interesting because I heard the term as well and people were using it. I went to HHS specifically and asked them how they define it. You can look at the definition. There is a medical definition of child abuse. Anything that basically incurs some sort of emotional trauma on a child. Physical trauma, obviously. If that is coming from a caretaker, if it is coming from someone who's a parent, obviously. Those are the definitions.

So, clearly, an emotional trauma incurred, especially at this age, their definition, their own definition is that this constitutes child abuse. So it's pretty clear.

HILL: Yes.

Dr. Sanjay Gupta, always appreciate it. Good to see you.

GUPTA: You've got it. Thank you.

HILL: Thanks.

Thanks to our international viewers for watching. For you, CNN "TALK" is next. For our U.S. viewers, NEW DAY continues right now.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We don't like to see families separated. This takes care of the problem.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Making a big deal about an executive order, which may do absolutely nothing for these 2,300 children is literally beyond belief.

[07:00:02] UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president ordered for the families that come into the country illegally to remain together.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This could lead to family internment camps. That is what we do not want to see.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's a 20 day deadline.