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Melania Trump Visits Border Facility; Croatia beats Argentina; Immigration Reform in Congress. Aired 8:30-9a ET

Aired June 22, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:31:15] (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: We all know they're having -- they're here without their families. And I want to thank you for your hard work, your compassion and your kindness you're giving them in these difficult times. And I'd also like to ask you how I can help to these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible.


JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: How can I help? Maybe she knows someone.

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Maybe. Maybe she could make a phone call.

BERMAN: Maybe she knows someone. A phone call or maybe just walk over and ask.

First Lady Melania Trump made a surprise trip to Texas to get a firsthand look at the crisis affecting immigrant families at the U.S. border. Some 2,000 children separated from their parents by the U.S. government.

Joining us now, Anita McBride, former chief of staff to First Lady Laura Bush, and CNN contributor Kate Andersen Brower, author of the book "First Women."

Anita, first to you.

First Lady Melania Trump, really the senior most official to go visit the border in the midst of this White House-created crisis of separating parents from their children, you know, the message is, I care. Getting a firsthand look isn't a bad thing. We'll talk about the jacket in a second. But the trip in and of itself, what did you make of it?

ANITA MCBRIDE, FORMER CHIEF OF STAFF TO FIRST LADY LAURA BUSH: Well, I thought that it was very important that she did that. And it appears she pulled that trip together very quickly. And there are a lot of details that go into a trip like that. I remember certainly making so many visits to the Gulf Coast after Katrina with Laura Bush within 24 hours, 48 hours.

So I think it's important because it does bring a sense of humanity and a sense that I do care what's happening to these children, to these families, because I think she's very sincere about caring about kids. So that's important.

Maybe it helps to bring back a message to the White House. I hope that it has some effect. That's the one thing that, you know, she really is in a unique position to do. Very different than any other official from the government that could go down there.

CAMEROTA: And, Kate, do you think she was motivated by the fact that all four living first ladies, so Rosalynn Carter, Laura Bush, Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama broke with protocol to speak out against the policy, the zero tolerance policy, calling it cruel and immoral and a shame for our country. So how significant was that and do you think that she was motivated by them being so vocal?

KATE ANDERSEN BROWER, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Well, she did come out first, her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham, did come out and say that she was heartbroken about these family separations but she was urging Congress to do something about it, and that was even before Laura Bush's op-ed.

But, yes, I mean I think this is something she couldn't avoid confronting as an immigrant herself, as a mother who always prioritizes their son. It was something she couldn't avoid doing. But I think it's also important to know that it was 100 percent her idea and she went to her husband and said, I'm going to do this. And that says a lot about her and how willful and strong she is really.

BERMAN: So what about the jacket then? I mean, look, it was -- it was a picture of her going. Would have been all we were talking about. The picture of her being there, meeting with the people there.

Instead, she walks on the plane with this. "I really don't care, do u." Her office says, oh, don't read anything into it. The president claims it's a message to the media. I don't think either of those things are remotely true.

BROWER: Right.

BERMAN: I think this was some kind of a message. She chose to wear it, Anita. You know, let me just first say, what do you think about the choice to wear something like this, to create the very question? Is that a mistake in itself?

MCBRIDE: Well, you're right, it does create a question. It's just a distraction on a day that's already very wrenching and very hard. I mean we're all living in this state of confusion as to what's happen to these kids and their families.

[08:35:05] And you have, you know, a visible person who really does, you know, have -- sincerely cares to go down there, ask the right questions. It was a very good roundtable. And then this is a distraction. And I know, listen, it's very hard, again, as I've said, I've been in that position, putting together a trip like that very quickly, you try not to forget any detail. You know, one of the big things was always a wardrobe memo. What are the conditions on the ground>

CAMEROTA: Of course. Of course. MCBRIDE: And she is, and Alisyn you said in an earlier segment, this is someone who understands fashion. She knows what she's wearing.


MCBRIDE: And I'm sorry that this happened because it is a distraction. However, the White House wants to span it, it's not just good.

CAMEROTA: Kate, how much better would it have been if she had taken a black magic marker and crossed out the "don't" so that the back of her billboard said --


CAMEROTA: I really care, do u? I mean how much better would that have been?

BROWER: I mean, it's mindboggling. I don't understand it. She -- as Anita said, she knows how powerful fashion is and what she wears. And, you know, it's also a jacket that cost less than $40. This is a woman who wears $50,000 jackets. I mean and -- there are plenty of jackets with no writing on them. In fact --

CAMEROTA: And she has access to them.


CAMEROTA: She probably has access to, you know, hundreds of jackets.

BERMAN: A few of them.

BROWER: I mean it was -- it was clearly something that she -- again, I -- and Anita having worked for Laura Bush would know this. I mean everything is carefully calibrated. Melania has a really small staff. I think that's part of the problem. And I think she's very stubborn. And I think it was a message to the media, frankly. I think she doesn't like the press. I think she is angry at reporters.

She wore this on her way up the plane, on her way back down. So it was so the cameras could see it. It wasn't an accident. And it distracts from the message. And it's ridiculous that no one could just say to her, take off the jacket. It makes no sense.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Ladies --


CAMEROTA: I mean, I -- let's just imagine what would have happened if Michelle Obama had worn that jacket.

MCBRIDE: Or Laura Bush. Or Laura Bush.

CAMEROTA: Or Laura Bush or Hillary Clinton.

BERMAN: And I will say, I don't want to --

MCBRIDE: You know --

BERMAN: I don't like the --

CAMEROTA: Had worn that jacket and go talk to some children, immigrant children.

BERMAN: It would be three days.

And I don't like discussions about fashion. This isn't about heels or off-the-shoulder dresses. This is about the words. The words are the controversy.

CAMEROTA: Yes. Absolutely.

Ladies, thank you very much for all of your expertise on first ladies.


CAMEROTA: OK, so earlier this month, 2013 CNN Hero Richard Neras (ph) began an epic journey. A 1700 mile charity run from Seattle to San Diego hoping to raise 2,500 -- 25 -- $250,000 --

BERMAN: Do I hear 251?

CAMEROTA: $250,000 to expand the foundation he created in his late son's name. His goal was to help more families with kids fighting cancer. So watch this.



My son, Emilio, was diagnosed with leukemia.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I love you, batman.

We were fortunate. We had rides to the hospital to bring Emilio. Many of the families don't have that support.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you want to blow a kiss to the camera?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They can't start the fight without getting to the hospital.

We get them here in a nice, clean environment and on time.

No child should miss their treatment due to lack of transportation.


CAMEROTA: OK, you can learn more about Richard's run and make a donation if you'd like at While you're there, you can also nominate someone you think should be a CNN hero.

We'll be right back.


[08:42:25] CAMEROTA: Sad news. Charles Krauthammer, the legendary conservative columnist and commentator, has died. Krauthammer had been battling cancer and he announced on June 8th that he only had 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. Krauthammer was also a long-time commentator on Fox News. Their website calls him, quote, the dean of conservative commentators. Charles Krauthammer was 68 years old.

I knew him. I didn't work with him closely, because he was in Washington. I was in New York. But the people who did always described him as a prince of a guy.

BERMAN: I had the honor to meet him on more than one occasion and he was swarmed by people who revered him. A deeply thoughtful and generous man and he will be missed.

All right, the heartbreak for Lionel Messi in Argentina continues at the World Cup.

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report."

And, yes, Andy, cry for me, Argentina.

ANDY SCHOLES, CNN SPORTS CORRESPONDENT: I've got a good friend who's from Argentina, John, and I'll tell you what, he's not in a very good place right now of how this World Cup's going.

You know, and Messi had a lot of pressure on him heading into yesterday's game with Croatia because, you know, he and Ronaldo considered the best two players in the world and right now, well, Ronaldo's just dominating for Portugal. Messi really needing to show up for Argentina as they were desperate for a win against Croatia. But he just was nonexistent in this game. Only got one shot off the entire time. Croatia, meanwhile, they were rolling in this one, winning 3-0.

They advance out of the group stage for the first time in 20 years. Now, Argentina fans just devastated. There were some that were crying in the stands there in Russia. And then they were just distraught back home in Buenos Aires. Argentina's chance of advancing out of the group stage now very, very slim.

All right, Philadelphia 76ers making a hometown kid's dream come true last night in the NBA draft. The team drafting Villanova Forward Mikal Bridges with the tenth pick. Bridges' mom is the VP of human resources for the Sixers 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's coming home to be part of our Sixers family. It's amazing. Go Sixers! (END VIDEO CLIP)

SCHOLES: Well, the joy of playing at home was short-lived. Less than an hour later, the Sixers traded Bridges to the Phoenix Suns.

And, Alisyn, Bridges said, well, that's life. But I imagine mama Bridges is not going to be very happy walking around the halls at work come next week.

BERMAN: That is so cold. That's so cold.

CAMEROTA: That -- but you said that the goalie made a mistake. That's a lot of pressure on that goalie.

[08:45:04] BERMAN: Yes, well --

CAMEROTA: I mean I know that's his job, but that's a lot of pressure.

BERMAN: He let -- he let a whole country down.

CAMEROTA: He did. I -- they were sobbing.

BERMAN: He let a whole country down.

CAMEROTA: All right, meanwhile, what is next in the battle over immigration? A lot has already changed this morning as NEW DAY has been on the air. David Axelrod weighs in, next.


[08:49:59] CAMEROTA: President Trump sending a message to Congress just this morning, an hour ago, on Twitter. He says Republicans should stop wasting their time on immigration until after we elect more senators and Congress men and women in November.

So, what does that mean? Is immigration reform dead for now?

Let's get "The Bottom Line" with CNN's senior political commentator David Axelrod.

So --

BERMAN: It is. You don't even need an expert like Axelrod.

CAMEROTA: Well, I'm going to just -- I mean --


CAMEROTA: Yes, see ya later.

I mean we've spoken to lawmakers this morning who didn't know it was going to be dead this morning.


CAMEROTA: They, I think, in earnest, were attempting to go back.

AXELROD: It's a rare example of lack of coordination.

CAMEROTA: Yes. But, I mean, they -- I think they are being honest when they think they were going back to the drawing board and trying to figure out what they called a compromise.

AXELROD: But here's the difference. I mean they may be trying to solve a problem. I think he sees it as an issue. He sees it as leverage. You know, Corey Lewandowski got rightly chastised for the comment he made, but the comment that he got not enough attention was, he was quoted somewhere as saying, look, people aren't going to come to the polls in November to say thank you. You need to motivate them. And immigration is an issue that motivates them.

CAMEROTA: It's outrage. It makes them outraged. Yes.

AXELROD: And I think this tweet this morning reflects the president's thinking.

Immigration is one -- is one of the major things that got him here. He has this false narrative about, you know -- and really regrettable one -- about the people who are coming here for asylum, you know, that they're murderers and rapists and there may be some bad, but mainly these are people who are fleeing murderers and rapists.

And -- but he has this narrative that he is the guy who's stopping all of this and now he wants to -- he'll create a narrative that Democrats are trying to prevent him from doing the things that are necessary to keep people from coming over the border and that's why we need a Republican Congress. I honestly think that's the way he's thinking about this.

BERMAN: So you have your show, you have "The Axe Files."


BERMAN: And this weekend you're talking to Marco Rubio about this, senator from Florida.


BERMAN: And I'm bringing this up because Rubio obviously in the middle of this immigration debate for some time. What did you guys talk about?

AXELROD: First of all, I was hoping you were bringing it up to encourage people to watch the show.

BERMAN: There's also that. Watch "The Axe Files" with David Axelrod this weekend.

AXELROD: Thank you.

OK, now, you know, Rubio's very interesting because there was a time when he was a leader on the immigration reform issue. And you'll remember he walked away from it in 2013 because he got such blowback from the conservative wing, the anti-immigration wing of the party.

But it was -- even -- even so, you could see -- you know, he's an immigrant himself from Cuba. His family is -- are -- is an immigrant family. He's a first generation immigrant. He really pulled back from the president's characterization of immigrants, which is really maligned (ph).

BERMAN: I think we have a clip of it. Let's listen.


AXELROD: Depicted the people who are coming as dangerous. He said they're not sending us their best, rapists and murders.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Not based on a lottery or not people that snuck across the border. And they could be murderers and thieves and so much else.

AXELROD: The vast -- 98 percent, 99 percent of these people are being charged with a misdemeanor. They don't have criminal histories. Is it fair to depict immigrants that way?

SEN. MARCO RUBIO (R), FLORIDA: Yes, I -- well, I don't think it's ever wise to just cast a broad net of generalization over any group of human beings. So, yes, there are people that cross the border that are dangerous and criminals and the like. I would say, through my experience, the vast majority of people are coming over because they just want a better life. And my sense of it is, if you're a father, for example, in my situation, my family's desperate. They're living in a dangerous situation. I'd do almost anything to protect my children and find a better life for them. So we have to understand that element of it. That doesn't mean we don't have to have laws on our end.

Mexico has immigration laws and Canada has immigration laws. But I don't think we should generalize that. I think the vast majority of people crossing the border are just coming because they want something better.


CAMEROTA: How about that? I mean he says that he -- if -- as a father, if he were in those situations, he would do almost anything to protect them.

AXELROD: Well, and he --

CAMEROTA: That's very different than Trump's (ph) position (ph).

AXELROD: He knows, from his own family's experience, they fled the Batista regime in Cuba and some of his over family members came over after Castro. In fact, you know, I think his family would be defined by the president as a chain migration family because the extended family all came over. They reached back and brought their family here. Why? Because they were fleeing tyranny and lack of opportunity and they wanted something better for their kids. He said it very well. And it stands in contrast to the depiction that

we hear from the president because, as I said, that's the president's political narrative. That's what started when he came down the escalator. That's what he thinks elevated him to the White House and that's what he thinks is going to help him win in the fall.

CAMEROTA: And do you think it will? You're a strategist.

AXELROD: Well, I don't think the Republican base is going to be motivated to the degree Democrats are. It's hard to motivate one side and not the other.

[08:55:01] BERMAN: And Democrats in the past haven't been as motivated on immigration.


BERMAN: Do you think they'll be (INAUDIBLE)?

AXELROD: Well, I think Democrats are motivated by Donald Trump.


AXELROD: Yes. And I think you're going to see -- you know, if you look at what's happened since November in special elections, and -- the Democrat turnout has been significantly higher.

BERMAN: David Axelrod, thanks so much for being with us.

CAMEROTA: Make sure to tune in. You can watch "The Axe Files" tomorrow night, 7:00 p.m. Eastern, only on CNN.

BERMAN: CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow picks up after a quick break.


POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Top of the hour. Good morning, everyone, I'm Poppy Harlow in New York.

Today, chaos, confusion, conflicting messages, nearly two days after President Trump ended the separation of parents and children at the border. Adding to that confusion, a punt this morning from the president and a big question about priorities. He's now telling Republicans that they should stop trying to pass an immigration fix until after the midterms in November, despite the fact that both parties agree a compromise is needed.