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Report: Trump Undermines Immigration Bill in A Tweet; Mother of Child Heard Crying for Her Child Speaks to CNN; Trump Says Democrat Sadness Over Child Separations Are Phony; Drama Unfolds in House as Chair Tries to Suppress Free Speech; Tom Arnold Meets with Cohen. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired June 22, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Wolf, thank you so much. Hi everyone, I'm Brooke Baldwin. Here we are on this Friday afternoon talking about these federal agencies grappling with how exactly how to implement President Trump's executive order. Senate and House leaders are struggling to pass a bill about this. The president's advice this morning is this, "Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after we elect more senators and congressmen/women in November. Stop wasting their time."

And with this tweet, the president effectively killed any hopes for now for an immigration bill in Congress. But keep in mind just a couple days ago in a closed-door meeting, the president himself told Republican lawmakers that he was 100 percent behind their push to pass an immigration bill but the confusion we're seeing up on Capitol Hill is nothing compared to what thousands of people are experiencing right now. A Trump administration official telling CNN that 500 children have been reunited with their families and we are seeing proof of that.


[mother and son reunited after separation at border]

UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER: I love you. I love you. We are together. You are the only thing I have. We are together my love. I love you so much.


BALDWIN: A powerful reunion. But what about all the others? Across the country frightened children wondering where their parents are, desperate parents wondering if they will ever see their children again.


UNIDENTIFIED CHILD: At least can I go with my aunt? I want her to come -- I want my aunt to come so she can take me to her house. I have her number.

BORDER PATROL AGENT: OK, so she'll help you right now, so you can talk to her.


BALDWIN: CNN's Rosa Flores tracked down the mother of one of those children who we just heard crying and that haunting audio. In Rosa is now live outside of Port Isabel detention center in Los Fresnos, Texas. Rosa, those cries, that has been used as really a symbol of this unfolding crisis. What did the mom tell you and how did she know it was her child?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, it is heartbreaking. This woman says that the only voice that she recognized was her daughter, her six-year-old, Allison. And she actually asked us during our phone interview to play that in full because that is the closest that she's been to her daughter since they were separated on May 25th. And so, this woman is desperate, she feels defeated. And she is in the detention center that you see behind me.

She described the area where she is at as a pod with about 40 women inside. She said that when President Trump signed the executive order, she said that all of these women started crying, hoping that something would change, that they would be able to be reunified with their children. But nothing has changed. And yesterday when I was talking to this woman by phone because we're not allowed inside the detention center, it just happened that the news broke that first lady Melania Trump was here in Texas visiting another facility. So, I asked this woman about the first lady's visit. And here is what she said.


UNIDENTIFIED MOTHER: I would hope that she would help me. I think she understands because she is a mom --


[14:05:00] FLORES: And now this facility the government has announced will be used to reunify families. Now, we're not allowed inside, but from aerial footage, we can see that it is a massive facility, surrounded by wire fencing. Around here there is nothing, it is in the middle of nowhere, but here is where the government says that they will plan and execute that reunification. Now, Brooke, I want to leave you with this. Because it is heartbreaking. The aunt of this little girl, the 6-year-old girl, was able to communicate with her by phone. And this little girl asked for two things. She is hoping to take a shower at her aunt's house. She loves cereal, so she is hoping to buy and eat as much cereal as she can when she leaves the shelter where she is at in Arizona

BALDWIN: And I'm still back on you saying the mother wanted to hear the cries in full because that is the closest she has been to her child. Think about that. Rosa Flores, extraordinary story. Thank you so much for bringing this to us. As this chaos unfolds, one of the scenes that I can't get out of my head is this one, the president of the United States holding this event inside the world's most famous office to sign an executive order he didn't need to, to sign an order to quote/unquote, fix the very problem only he and his administration created. To sign an order for which he was praised, made out to be this hero.


KIRSTJEN NIELSEN, HOMELAND SECURITY SECRETARY: I just thank you for your leadership, sir.

Thank you for your leadership. This is a problem that president after president has dealt with for decades. This one is willing to stand up and fix it.

MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT: By taking this action, the president will make it possible for us to continue to engage in enforcing the law against individuals who violate our law, come into our country illegally, but now we'll be able in that prosecution in the immediate days forward to keep families together.


BALDWIN: They literally held an event to congratulate him for caving on his own policy. His own daughter a senior adviser who was silent for days and days over all of this then thanks her dad for ending the policy he started and defended with a storm of lies and contradictions.

But I want to focus really on the real problem here. If you're going to sign an order, you need an actual plan. And there is no concrete plan still. And as you heard, thousands of parents have this pit in the depth of their stomachs not knowing where their daughter is, who is feeding their son or if they have been put on a plane and flown ten states away. And the children don't know where they are. They don't know who is watching them or if they will ever see their parents again. And the way this has been handled, it is not a definite that they ever will. Meantime, the administration once again changing its story, I guess not realizing videotape is a thing.


JEFF SESSIONS, ATTORNEY GENERAL: It hasn't been good, and the American people don't like the idea that we're separating families. We never really intended to do that. If you are smuggling a child, we'll prosecute you. And that child will be separated from you probably as required by law.


BALDWIN: David Axelrod is here, host of CNN's the "Ax Files." I mean, we just ran through a lot off the top of the show. But do you think this is the biggest blunder of this administration?

DAVID AXELROD, CNN HOST: In terms of policy, I think this is an enormous blunder domestic policy, certainly one of the most memorable. Long term there are other things that they have done, withdrawing from various treaties and so on that may turn out to be bigger strategic blunders. But in terms of domestic policy that touches people, you know, I think of this one and I think about the travel ban and how poorly executed that was and the chaos it created. I think this is worse than that.

They were both motivated by the same story line however. Donald Trump has a narrative, and that narrative is that he is defending America from the invasion of savage murderers and rapists, so on. It is not an accurate depiction of what is going on. But that is his story line. And that is driving a lot of the decision making. And he thinks that it will be a political asset for him which is why he's now saying let's not vote on immigration until after November because we have to defeat these Democrats who want open borders. This is the theme he's creating to try to arouse his base.

BALDWIN: Speaking of the Democrats, he brings up former President Obama quite a bit and the Democrats, he tweeted this morning, the back half of his tweet, Democrats tell their phony stories in sadness and grief, referring to the crisis on the border, hoping that it will help them in the elections.

[14:10:00] Obama and others had the same pictures and did nothing about it. You can set the record straight. We talk about the Obama administration, where you worked. There were these detention centers, the cages, thermal blankets existed.

AXELROD: And there was crisis in 2014. People were pouring over the border. But families were not separated in 2014. And this despite what the attorney general said is a tactic that they plan, and they talked about as a deterrent to keep people from coming to this country. These people are coming to this country because their families are threatened, because their children are threatened by murders and rapists and gangs in their own country and they are looking for sanctuary here. That is why they are coming.

BALDWIN: You and I were talking before the show and I wanted to ask you on TV about thinking ahead to the midterms and a lot of people around the world really have been touched by this story but having been in DC all week and talking to folks on the left and right, this is hitting moms and women obviously go to the polls in November. And I'm wondering how this may affect things then.

AXELROD: Well, let me say parenthetically it hit some dads and granddads pretty hard too. I was watching that footage at the top of your show and I was in tears because we all see our own children and try to imagine what it is like, what it would be like to be that parent, to be that child. And to think that our own government inflicted in on them is a lot to bear.

Women are driving our politics right now. If you look at all the elections that have taken place since November of 2016, turnout among women is very elevated. Record numbers of women running for public office. A lot of battle ground races for the House will take place in suburban districts where I think women will play a big role in the outcome.

It's always hard to judge in the moment what an event will mean months later, but these images are searing, and I suspect that they will be motivational. But we should not think of it as the president apparently is in political terms. This is a human tragedy. This is a human rights disaster. And we need in the moment to demand that our government make it right.

BALDWIN: You talked about immigration with Senator Marco Rubio, Republican from Florida. Here is just a clip looking ahead to "The Axe Files."


AXELROD: Isn't some of this just trying to survive? Let's go over the list. Senator Flake, Senator Corker, Mark Sanford lost his primary. I mean this party is in the thrall of this president and anyone who challenges him, and you are being careful here, runs the risk of going the same way -- Sanford said, they said what did you take from this experience, he said I took if you are a Republican, you better not publicly challenge this president.

SEN. MARCO RUBIO, (R), FLORIDA: And I will tell you two things. It is not about being careful or not careful. It is about one of the things that gives the president strength within the party is many of the Republicans feel like he is treated unfairly. Media is outraged by everything that he does and overreaches. People are not oblivious and don't agree with everything that he does, but they feel that he is treated so unfairly on such a consistent basis, whether you agree with that or not, that they feel like they have to balance it out by defending him and the second thing is he doing exactly what he said he would. I'm not here to do combat with the president. I'm here to work with whoever is in the White House to try to get things done when we agree on something, offer a contrasting view when we do not.


AXELROD: Well, you know, the fact is he gave testimony to what the state of affairs is because he was very careful during this hour-long conversation. The one thing that was interesting -- not the one thing, but one thing that interested me is when I asked him about the depiction of these people who are coming to our country, these immigrants who have been impacted by this as the president has as murderers and rapists and thieves, even Senator Rubio as careful as he was being pushed back and said, you know, he is the son of an immigrant and he can only imagine as a father that you'd do anything for your child. And he said they are coming here because they want a better life for their children. So, I was glad that he did that, but there is no doubt, and he made very clear, that he is not looking to pick fights with the president.

BALDWIN: We'll watch the whole thing, thank you so much. Reminding all of you, "The Axe Files" airs tomorrow night at 7:00 eastern.

[14:15:00] Just in, drama unfolding on the House floor as a Congressman refuses to stop his speech criticizing the president over all the separations at the border. We'll play back what happened for you there. And why did the president's former lawyer, the one under criminal investigation just appear with Tom Arnold who is hosting a show called "The Hunt for The Trump Tapes"? Hear what the actor is saying.

You're watching CNN and I am Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: Now to drama on Capitol Hill over this immigration crisis. The cries from some of the youngest children may now become part of the Congressional record. Democratic Congressman Ted Lieu just played on the House floor the recording of wailing children who have been taken from their parents at the border and he was met with serious resistance by the Republican in charge of the session. Here is the exchange.


REP. TED LIEU, (D), CALIFORNIA: What must that sound like? [crying]

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman will suspend.

LIEU: For what reason, madame speaker?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman is in breach of decorum.

LIEU: Cite the rule, madame speaker.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rule 17 of the House prohibits -- the gentleman will suspend.

LIEU: Why are you trying to prevent the American people from listening of what it sounds like --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Rule 17 of the house prohibits the use of that device.

LIEU: Why do you not let the American people hear what they are saying?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman will suspend the use of the device.

LIEU: I cannot play sounds from a detention facility?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman will suspend the use of the device. It is in violation of rule 17.

LIEU: Read the rule. It does not say I cannot play sounds from a detention facility.

[14:20:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The sergeant in arms will enforce the rules of decorum.

LIEU: I yield back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The gentleman yields back.

(END VIDEO CLIP) BALDWIN: I yield back he says. By the way speaking of that audio, CNN is learning that the cries of those children separated from their parents is having an impact south of the border. Crossing in may did not indicate that people have been deterred by the U.S. policy of separating children from their parents. So, for the third month now, border patrol agents in May arrested more than 50,000 people, but now there are signs word may be getting through. Leyla Santiago went down to the border with Guatemala and found some mothers were actually changing their plans to head to the U.S. because of now this crack down on families.


LEYLA SANTIAGO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Many were already aware, had seen videos of families being separated. One mother noted the audio that was heard of children crying and asking for their parents. And they said that was enough to sort of bring their plans to a halt for now. The goal for many of them is still to try to make to the United States. But when they heard about the child separation, they said it very much does deter them, but again, just for now.


BALDWIN: As families heading for the border struggle to figure out their next steps, the families detained at the border are struggling to find their children. With me now, Zenen James Perez from the Texas Civil Rights Project who is seeing firsthand what the parents are going through. And welcome, you are on CNN here. You I know you are on the phone with me. You can tell me how many kids, how many families have you so far seen reunited?


ZENEN JAMES PEREZ, TEXAS CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECT: Yes, so we have talked to 381 clients in the last month. We can confirm no reunifications from our clients. And again, that is 381 of them.

BALDWIN: no reunifications of the 381?

PEREZ: No, none that we can confirm, no.

BALDWIN: And what do you find most frustrating?

PEREZ: The most frustrating part is just the lack of information coming from all sides of the federal government. You know, we've been going every day to the federal courthouse to interview people who have been separated from their families and connect them with attorneys. And some days we get 30 to 40, some days we get 15. The last two days because of the executive order, today we saw no parents at the courthouse, but that didn't mean that the prosecutions are over. So, we're not sure whether they will continue next week and what we need to do to prepare for the crisis if this happens.

BALDWIN: If we're talking total 2300 kids who have been separated, do all 2300 kids even have contact information for their parents to be reunified? PEREZ: So that is actually a very good question for the Health and

Human Services. From what we understand, no. One of the things that we heard early on, one of the ways that they will keep track is that they would take a picture of them, a parent and a child, and use that as an identifier for the future. And that is not what we need. And we hope that because of this, it doesn't lead to parents not being reunified.

BALDWIN: Taking a photo of mom or dad and child. Wow. So, do you worry that some of these kids will never find their parents or how hopeful are you? You're there at ground zero.

PEREZ: Yes, and we try to impart as much hope as possible because we are literally talking to folks fleeing violence. And I'm not very hopeful that what is happening will complete reunification. We already know that some people have been deported without their children. And we know that that will continue as the next days come up.

[14:25:00] And we don't understand what that process would even look like for reunification if at all. And that a is the most frustrating part, having to talk to people and tell them about our unclarity and we are a group of attorneys and advocates, and we're supposed to know how it is supposed to work. And unfortunately, we're in the dark and that means that our clients and the people that we are talking to are even more distraught because we have not much information to give them.

BALDWIN: Here is hoping that number 381 changes and these parents and kids are unified. Thank you so much for you and your work. Ahead here, the curious case of Michael Cohen. Why did he meet with Tom Arnold who is hosting a show called "The Hunt for Trump Tapes"? We'll explain.


BALDWIN: Turning now to President Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, plenty of questions have been raised about whether he would flip on the president now that Cohen is under this federal criminal investigation. And now this today. So, comedian Tom Arnold has been working on a show for Vice called "The Hunt for The Trump Tapes." And Cohen just gave him an interview and Arnold tweeted this photo, note the caption, I love New York. Photo is raising some eyebrows.

Arnold just clarified with this, Michael: didn't say me and him were teaming up to take down Donald Trump. Michael has enough Trump on his plate. I'm the crazy person who said me and Michael Cohen were teaming up to take down Trump, of course, I meant it.