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Confusion Persists After Trump Reversal on Family Separation; Melania Trump Makes Surprise Visit to Border Facility; House GOP Pushes Back Key Vote on Immigration Bill. Aired 5-5:30a ET

Aired June 22, 2018 - 05:00   ET


[05:00:06] MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN ANCHOR: How can parents find kids taken at the border? Is the zero tolerance policy on hold or what? So many questions, so little guidance from the Trump administration right now.

And Melania Trump's trip to the border in focus partly because of jacket-gate. Is that what we should call it now?

BRIGGS: I like jacket-gate. Well done.

Tributes meanwhile pouring in for legendary conservative commentator and columnist Charles Krauthammer, a man whose words shaped American politics for generations, has died.

KOSINSKI: And the "Roseanne" reboot with a reboot. ABC will keep the show alive without the namesake comedian fired after her racist tweets.

BRIGGS: Good morning, everyone. Happy Friday. Welcome to EARLY START. I'm Dave Briggs.

KOSINSKI: It is Friday, isn't it? I'm Michelle Kosinski. It is indeed Friday, June 22nd. I am told by sources it's 5:00 a.m. in the East.

BRIGGS: Good to have you here, my friend.

KOSINSKI: Thank you.

BRIGGS: Jacket-gate in a moment. Are you excited?

KOSINSKI: We'll see. We'll see how that goes.

Well, there's confusion and contradiction engulfing the White House and federal agencies following President Trump's order ending family separations at the U.S.-Mexico border. Officials across the government trying and failing to provide clear guidance on implementation.

So what will happen to the more than 2300 children separated from their parents now in shelters all over the country. No one seems to know for sure.

BRIGGS: The president insisting zero tolerance is still in place, but e-mail traffic obtained by CNN shows the policy has effectively been curtailed for now. ICE has instructed field offices to stop referring parents for prosecution after they crossed illegally with their children.

KOSINSKI: Now the Pentagon is being asked to prepare to house up to 20,000 unaccompanied children on U.S. military bases. The Justice Department also asking a judge to modify a rule that limits children to 20 days in detention. Are you getting all this? It's an effort to keep kids with parents who may be detained longer. But it's an uphill climb for the DOJ.

BRIGGS: The story keeps playing out in ways the White House would rather avoid. These are covers for new editions of "TIME" magazine and the "New Yorker." But the president remains defiant. He'll hold an event on White House grounds today with families who lost relatives to violence committed by undocumented immigrants.

More now from CNN's Boris Sanchez at the White House.

BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Dave and Michelle, the Trump administration still straining to answer even basic questions about how they plan to implement the president's executive order signed on Wednesday. There are still a number of questions out there. Namely how the administration plans to reunify some 2300 migrant children who were separated from their parents.

It is not going to be an easy task. They're scattered across the country in a number of different facilities. And their parents are currently being detained. The president himself sent some mixed signals on Thursday. Even suggesting that his executive order may not be that effective.

Listen to this.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The Democrat and court ordered loopholes prevent family detention and lead to family separation. No matter how you cut it. I sign a very good executive order yesterday but that's only limited. No matter how you cut it, it leads to separation ultimately.


SANCHEZ: It appears that the administration is still trying to figure out this crisis on the fly without a clear directive or clear strategy, with so many children's lives and their well-being still in the balance -- Dave and Michelle.

BRIGGS: OK. Boris, thank you.

Tal Kopan covers immigration here at CNN.


BRIGGS: Better than nobody. KOSINSKI: Tal.

BRIGGS: So we're so happy to have you here, my friend.

KOSINSKI: Tal, thank you. Thank you for being here.

BRIGGS: OK. So many questions. Let's start with zero tolerance policy. What is it? Is it still in place? And what does it mean for all those 2300 children separated from their parents since May 5th?

TAL KOPAN, CNN POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Dave, those are great questions. So to start the zero tolerance policy refers to the decision to refer everyone caught crossing the border illegally and that included a decision to include parents in that were referred for criminal charges. Now when they were sent to the Justice Department, that meant that the parents were separated from their children. And that is when those children were sent into the custody of HHS and scattered all over the country as we're finding out.

Now the reversal that we saw that is, at least for now, it could be changed again at anytime. But some e-mail traffic I obtained yesterday shows that for now Customs and Border Protection is no longer going to refer parents for that prosecution. Now single adults can certainly still be prosecuted but the entire hubbub about this, the entire point of this policy was that they weren't going to exempt families unlike previous administrations.

They were going to prosecute those parents and that's why you have these separations. And you mentioned these more than 2300 children. That's just one figure we've gotten for about a month long stretch of this that we know of.

[05:05:05] Those children were sent to HHS and I think this is still remarkable. I want to emphasize. I think a lot of Americans probably picture that when this policy was put in place, someone was standing there with a data base tracking where the kids went, tracking where the parents went, keeping that file together. There is no indication anything like that occurred.

These kids' files are with HHS, the parents are then sent into custody with Homeland Security and then the parents and their case workers and lawyers have to figure out where those kids are and try to put those families back together.

BRIGGS: Won't be easy.

KOSINSKI: Yes. You know, so on the one hand, they're talking about longer detentions which seems to be zero tolerance. Like let's keep people longer, let's keep kids with parents but -- in detention. But then you have these e-mails that you got showing that they are not going to prosecute some of these. So it's like which is it? Like is one just kind of on the surface and then really they're not going to be prosecuting them and they just don't want to tell people that? But which is it? Is it zero tolerance or is it let's not prosecute them anymore? Or is it case-by-case? I mean, what are you getting on the inside from this, Tal? KOPAN: Yes, Michelle, I think that's a reflection of just how little

has been figured out about this whole thing. And you know, one thing that struck me in that executive order is the notion that they could still prosecute parents but somehow keep them together in custody. If that was on the table the whole time, you know, why weren't they doing it? If they were saying that the goal --


KOPAN: -- was only to bring these criminal charges as a deterrent and separating families was just an unfortunate side effect? If they in fact find a way to prosecute the parents without separating the families, it begs the question, why they ever did it in the first place? But to your point, it is completely unclear right now what the administration is going to do long term. They put this policy into effect apparently without thinking through some of the consequences for the children because now it's this difficult to put the families back together.

They were surprised by the outcry somehow and had to reverse course. And now they're seemingly back to square one. And there are, you know, legal limitations on how long they can hold these families that they don't like, that they're trying to challenge but are still there. They are not, at this point, answering any of these questions clearly.

BRIGGS: One thing is clear, this goes down with the travel ban and the Stephen Miller hall of shame. Well done, sir.

Let's talk about the legislative side of this. The conservative Goodlatte bill failed in the House but probably got more votes than I think most expected. The compromise bill was supposed to be voted on today. It's been pushed to next week.

What does it look like and does it have a chance?


KOPAN: Does it have a chance? How many times, Dave, have you asked me that question about legislation?

BRIGGS: Yes. I know. Right?

KOPAN: And how many times has the answer been positive? Look, right now, you know, we were so close to getting a vote on this. It was expected to fail. It's unclear if it will actually get more votes than the conservative bill that they've been saying all along would never pass and that shouldn't be pursued. It's still pretty conservative even though it is supposedly the compromise. But it has a slightly more generous path for DACA recipients and a few less of the hard line measures.

But last night, you know, they were huddled up in a conference meeting for hours. Half of the conference have left and said we were voting tomorrow and then they emerged and like all of a sudden, no, we're voting next week and we're adding E-verify mandatory worker verification, some sort of guest worker visa compromise, which is basically the third rail of immigration legislation.

So it's all influx. We have no idea how they're going to add that to the bill while picking up votes without losing votes. It's a mess. To be perfectly honest. But maybe somehow some miracle will happen next week that will bring it all together.

KOSINSKI: We'll just have to see.

BRIGGS: Don't hold your breath on that.


KOSINSKI: Yes. And so Melania Trump goes down to the border which apparently was all her decision.

BRIGGS: The covers are --

KOSINSKI: We have that, yes.

BRIGGS: The covers are pretty good. Flak jacket and full muddle jacket.

KOSINSKI: That seems to just sort of take the steam out of this trip. Well, what do you make of this whole trip and -- I mean, you know, there's the jacket? Everything surrounding it, Tal. And, you know, what do you think these adds or takes away from the situation itself?

KOPAN: Yes, Michelle, I mean, it's just odd. Right? I don't think that, you know, anyone could think that Melania doesn't care about children. But yet, you know, she goes through all the trouble of making this trip and there haven't been that many administration officials going to the border. There have been a few.

But, you know, she is one of the first really high profile surrogates of the Trump administration to go, to sit with children, to really what these conditions are. So the decision to then put on a jacket and keep in mind, it's not cold down at the border. And Melania Trump does not wear anything by accident.

[05:10:03] So to make the decision to put on that jacket as you're leaving, of course they should have expected people to ask about it. And it's just perplexing. I mean, they can spin it as trying to sort of catch the media in some sort of trap that we're talking about this instead of the trip. But really, it's their decision for us to be talking about this instead of the trip.

KOSINSKI: Of course.

KOPAN: And it really befuddling.

BRIGGS: Yes. And just so people don't think we're concentrating on the small stuff, what first ladies have worn has always --


BRIGGS: Always been a story. KOSINSKI: Yes, I mean --


BRIGGS: This is nothing new.


KOSINSKI: If Barbara Bush wore a jacket -- I mean, it's a jacket with a message on the back. Are you not supposed to read the message?

BRIGGS: Right. It's a billionaire fashion model wearing a $39 jacket. But Tal, more on immigration in about 30 minutes. Thank you.

KOSINSKI: Thank you.

BRIGGS: OK. Charles Krauthammer, a legendary conservative columnist and commentator, has died at the age of 68. Krauthammer had been battling cancer. He announced on June 8th he had only a few weeks left to live. He was a columnist at "The Washington Post" for more than three decades, winning the Pulitzer Prize for commentary in 1987.

The "Post's" executive editor Marty Baron tweeting, "Krauthammer's death was a huge loss to vigorous and civil debate on public policy." Krauthammer was also a longtime commentator on FOX News. Its Web site calling him a dean of conservative commentators.

Today the "Post" publishing a full page dedicated to Krauthammer featuring some of his work over the decades. George Will also writing a column about Krauthammer's ability to overcome a multitude of daily challenges after he was paralyzed from the neck down in a college diving accident.

His death being mourned nationwide. President George W. Bush releasing a statement, saying in part, "Krauthammer's work was far reaching and influential and while his voice will be deeply missed, his ideas and values will always be a part of our country."

His final words that he wrote in the "Washington Post" were these. "I leave with the knowledge that I lived the life that I intended." He will be dearly missed. Great man, great thinker.

KOSINSKI: So shopping online is about to cost you more. States can force online retailers now to collect sales tax. More on the pivotal Supreme Court ruling coming up next.


[05:16:20] BRIGGS: Get ready to pay more for what you buy online. The Supreme Court ruling in favor of an internet tax meaning states can now force online retailers to collect sales tax. Right now many don't but the court said South Dakota can collect taxes from Wayfair reversing a 1992 decision that kept states from taxing businesses without a physical presence.

Big online retailers like Amazon do have a large presence in each state so they already collect sales tax. But now smaller Web sites will have to do as well, meaning you will pay more when shopping on Wayfair, Overstock, Etsy and eBay. Shares of all those companies fell yesterday. That's because a sales tax undercuts the advantage they have over brick and mortar stores. But for cash strapped states an Internet sales tax will mean billions of dollars in new revenue. State budgets have been under pressure for years due to slow economic growth.

KOSINSKI: And it's "Roseanne" without the Roseanne. ABC announcing it will launch "The Conners," a spinoff of the rebooted "Roseanne" series. It will include the original cast except for controversial star Roseanne Barr. The network says she will have no financial or creative involvement in the new series.

The move comes just weeks after the stunning decision to cancel television's number one series in the wake of Roseanne Barr's racist tweets. In a statement Roseanne says she regrets the circumstances that caused the show to be canceled and wishes the best for everyone involved.

BRIGGS: In Pennsylvania, police officer who gunned down an unarmed teenager has been identified. The officer, Michael Rosfeld, has been placed on administrative leave. He had worked with other local departments for seven years and had been sworn in the day of the shooting in East Pittsburgh. Authorities say the officer opened fire after Antwon Rose and another passenger ran out of a car suspected in an earlier shooting on Tuesday.

Overnight, protesters took over a highway in East Pittsburgh demanding justice for the 17-year-old. One person was arrested.

One player whose dreams dashed in a dramatic twist on draft night in the NBA. Andy Scholes joins us this morning for the "Bleacher Report" next.


[05:22:58] BRIGGS: The heartbreak for Messi and Argentina just continues at the World Cup.

KOSINSKI: Andy Scholes has more in this morning's "Bleacher Report."

BRIGGS: And what a bummer, huh, Scholes?

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: Oh man. Hey, good morning, guys. One of my best friends is from Argentina. And I'll tell you what, he is not a happy camper right now. And Messi had such so much pressure on him heading into yesterday's game with Croatia. You know, he and Ronaldo considered the best players in the world. And right now, while Ronaldo is dominating for Portugal, Messi needing to show up for Argentina. They were just desperate for a win in this one. But he only got off one shot this entire game.

Croatia would poured on winning this game 3-0. They advance out of the group stage for the first time in 20 years. Argentina fans meanwhile they were just devastated. Many of them were seen crying in the stands there in Russia. And they were just distraught back home in Buenos Aires. Argentina's chances in advancing out to the group stage now are very, very slim.

All right. According to multiple reports the NFL is planning to suspend Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston for the first three games of next season. The reported suspension stems from an alleged incident with an Uber driver in Arizona in march of 2016. No police charges were filed but the driver did file a formal complaint with Uber. Winston allegedly made inappropriate contact with the driver while in a drive-thru.

Now Winston denied the accusations saying at the time I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her. In 2012 Winston was accused of sexual assault by a Florida State student. He was never charged in that case. The accuser filed a civil suit and he countersued. The two eventually agreed to drop their lawsuits.

All right. The NBA draft taking place last night in Brooklyn and 76ers fans making it clear they want LeBron in Philly next season. The Pennsylvania company Power Home Remodeling flying multiple banners over the Barclays Center campaigning for LeBron to join the Sixers. Now no big moves were made by teams hoping to get LeBron next season during the draft.

[05:25:03] But the 76ers did make a hometown kid's dream come true. The team drafting Villanova forward Mikal Bridges with the 10th pick. Now Bridges' mom is the VP of Human Resources for the 76ers. And she was just ecstatic that her son was going to get to play at home.


TYNEEHA RIVERS, MIKAL BRIDGES' MOTHER: It's amazing. It's an experience I'll never forget. And I'm so excited he is coming home to be part of our Sixers family. It's amazing. Go Sixers.


SCHOLES: Well, the joy of playing at home was short lived. Less than an hour later, the Sixers traded Bridges to the Suns. You know, that is the life in the NBA, but you know what, I wouldn't want to be in those offices when Mama Bridges walking in, wanting some explanations of why they traded her son.

BRIGGS: I'm not certain Mikal wasn't somewhat relieved. Do you really want to play where mom works? Do you really want to play in your backyard where you get 100 phone calls for tickets for the game?

SCHOLES: Right. Tickets every single game. A lot of hanger on. You know, it's probably good for him he got --


BRIGGS: That's a favor, yes.

SCHOLES: That's quietly building. Quite the roster if all of these prospects pan out.

BRIGGS: They sure are. All right, thank you, my friend.

SCHOLES: All right.

KOSINSKI: Thanks a lot.

From Washington to the southern border confusion and frustration over the administration's immigration policy. Anxious parents and the government unclear how to reunite thousands of families.