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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER
President Trump Wants No Due Process for Border Crossers?; White House Press Briefing; Trump Officials Confronted & Heckled at Public Places. Aired 4-4:30p ET
Aired June 25, 2018 - 16:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
QUESTION: -- a significant amount of their operations to Europe because of the E.U. tariffs that were placed on Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Is this what the president envisioned for what the impact would be by placing tariffs on the E.U. and the retaliation the E.U. -- the E.U. has put on the U.S.?
SANDERS: Again, the European Union is trying to punish U.S. workers because they have engaged repeatedly in unfair trade practices. And the president is saying enough is enough. We'd like to work with the E.U. to work on a level playing field.
Sorry, Steve, I (inaudible).
QUESTION: The president today in the Oval Office, sitting next to the king of Jordan, mentioned some progress in the Middle East peace process, but he didn't give us any specifics.
There's been quite a bit of back-channel diplomacy going on the last few days in the Middle East, with Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt. Do you have anything concrete to -- to tell us about any sort of positive movement whatsoever, from all of this?
SANDERS: Again, we -- I think that the meetings that took place over the last week with Senior Adviser Jared Kushner and Special Representative Jason Greenblatt, they met with a number of officials and principals in Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Israel and Qatar last week.
They discussed the situation in Gaza as well as the next stages of the peace effort. We're going to continue those conversations and we're committed to the peace effort, and we're going to keep working forward. But those conversations were productive.
QUESTION: Sarah, the commissioner of Customs and Border Protection said today that they are no longer going to be referring people who cross the border without authorization for criminal charges if they're traveling with children, which is essentially a return to the Obama administration practice and administrations before that. Does the president support that approach? And if so, does he regret trying to push forward on a zero-tolerance approach in the first place?
SANDERS: No. The president certainly supports keeping families together, which he has outlined several times over the last week. But he's also called on Congress to actually fix the system.
They're the only ones that ultimately have the ability to change the law. The president's executive order has given a temporary solution to the problem but it's not permanent, and we need Congress to step up. We need Democrats to stop playing political games, do their jobs, work with this president and let's fix the problem at the border.
QUESTION: Sarah, can you talk about why you tweeted from your official account about the episode that you had at the restaurant on Friday night?
SANDERS: Sure. I was responding to a number of news stories. I'd been reached out to by over a dozen reporters, and there were multiple news stories that had already been issued.
It was considered news of the day, so I responded in the way I would to any other news of the day story.
QUESTION: Sarah, you said just because you don't see a judge doesn't mean you don't get due process. Can you explain what you mean by that specifically, and how the president envisions that this would work while still maintaining what the Constitution upholds in having a swift immigration system?
SANDERS: Again, there are other ways for removal. There are thousands of illegal aliens that are removed every month that don't see judges. Sometimes that's through voluntary removal, and sometimes that's through expedited removal.
Again, the president's ultimate goal would be that we have actually a secure border, and people aren't coming into the country illegally. But that we have a system that works and the people that come into the country come in through a legal system.
QUESTION: What is the president doing specifically this week to ensure that Congress passes a bill? He's spent all week in Nevada talking about -- or, all weekend. Excuse me -- on Saturday, talking about how Democrats want open borders and crime. But, specifically, has he made phone calls to Republican members in the House, where the bill is pending? Has he tried to bring Democrats together? What is he doing specifically to try and get a new law passed, specifically, other than just railing against the current law?
SANDERS: The president met with a number of lawmakers last week, talked with several over the weekend, some that he was with while he was traveling. Last week, he made an open invitation to Democrat lawmakers -- that they were welcome to come to the White House to discuss what they'd like to see, because the president wants solutions.
We've yet to have any of them to show up, actually willing to have those conversations, actually willing to fix the problem. Instead, they'd rather rant and rave about not allowing members of the Trump administration to step foot in public.
The president wants to see solutions. That's what we're focused on . It's Congress's job to do that, and we've laid out very clearly that we want to be part of that and what we'd like to see in that package.
QUESTION: ... on this?
SANDERS: Clearly, they aren't. If they haven't passed a law to fix this system, then they haven't. Republicans have laid out a number of proposals that they support. The president has voiced his support for those.
QUESTION: ... probably fail this week, though. The Republican bills will probably...
SANDERS: That's because no Democrat will get on board and actually support a solution.
QUESTION: ... Republican -- is your Republicans cannot pass these Republican bills. What is the president doing as the leader of the party to try and get Republican...
SANDERS: Jeff, these aren't Republican bills. These are bills that fix a broken system. They may have Republican sponsors, but these should be bipartisan. This shouldn't be complicated. Look, the House has already passed over 500 pieces of legislation, --
[16:05:00] -- but they can't get through the Senate because Democrats refuse to actually find solutions.
We have 50 bills that passed just last week to address the opioid crisis -- that passed through the House. The Senate still hasn't taken them up. Hopefully, they will. And, if they do, that will show that we actually can come up with bipartisan solutions. And that's what we'd like to see them do on immigration, as well.
QUESTION: ... follow-up on Julia's question about the zero-tolerance policy. The president said, last week, after signing the executive order, that he believed that zero tolerance was still important. You guys made a point of the fact that the E.O. did not actually get rid of the policy.
How does that square with the fact that CBP is now saying that they are no longer referring for prosecution any adults who come in with children?
SANDERS: Again, this is a temporary solution. This isn't going to last. Congress still has to step up. They still have to do their job. This will only last a short amount of time because we're going to run out of space, we're going to run out of resources in order to keep people together, and we're asking Congress to provide those resources and do their job. And...
QUESTION: ... temporary solution -- does that mean, at some point, you are going to change that policy back?
SANDERS: We're not changing the policy. We're simply out of resources, and, at some point, Congress has to do what they were elected to do, and that is secure our border. That is stop the crime coming into our country.
The country has made extremely clear that they don't want open borders, and Democrats need to understand that, and they need to work with Republicans and find some solutions.
QUESTION: And there...
SANDERS: Annie. Sorry, Jill, I'm going to keep going. Annie, go ahead.
QUESTION: Sarah, you mentioned the state of resources and running out of them. Can you be specific about what the resources are right now for housing parents and children together? Is there enough housing right now? Is the Pentagon stepping in? Like, what's being done about the resources? SANDERS: Again, we're looking at every option available. We have asked the Pentagon to help with additional space. But a lot of that will depend on our ability to stop people coming into the country illegally. And we, again, encourage people to go through ports of entry instead of crossing the border illegally.
SANDERS: We've requested, through legislation -- we're working with Congress, hopefully, to provide more resources and the ability to actually enforce the law.
SANDERS: Ayesha (ph)?
QUESTION: Thank you. I just want to see if you can kind of narrow down exactly what the president actually intends to do when it comes to this idea of not having judges. You say that there are instances where people don't have judges, but my understanding is that, if you do ask for asylum, you do have certain rights.
So is there going to be a change in that policy, or what is this administration planning to do to make it so you don't have to see a judge? (inaudible)
SANDERS: Again, I've addressed this a couple times. There are multiple instances in where you wouldn't: voluntary removal, certain cases have expedited removal. If somebody comes through a port of entry seeking asylum, those cases and that process will be heard. But at the same time, the president's ultimate goal is to secure the border and stop illegal immigration.
QUESTION: I -- I -- I understand that, but so what does that mean practically? Like, is the president planning to do anything differently, or are you just saying, you don't like the way (inaudible) now?
SANDERS: The president's laid out what he'd like to see. We've put out the things that we want to see in an immigration package months ago. We're still waiting on Congress to give us the ability to do that.
QUESTION: So -- so unless Congress acts, nothing is actually going to change? The administration is not changing anything right now, when it comes to judges?
SANDERS: You mean, are we walking around making up laws? No, because we're not the Obama administration. We're actually trying to enforce the laws that are on the books. We're actually asking Congress to do their part in the process, and pass new legislation that will fix our immigration system.
QUESTION: So -- but (inaudible) is actually changing on the ground. Like, this -- so this is -- the president's complaining about judges, and saying that we shouldn't have all these judges, and people who come over should just be put out, but nothing is actually going to change. He's just saying -- he's just complaining about the process as it stands now.
SANDERS: Things that we have the ability to do administratively, we are working to do. But again, Congress is the only one that has the ability to write law, and we hope they'll do that.
QUESTION: I'm honing in on that point. I'm trying to understand what it is the president understands about the current policy, because as you've explained, expedited removal allows the government to remove hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants a year without seeing judges. Did the president know that when he issued the tweets?
SANDERS: Yeah, but there are still thousands that go through a very lengthy process. We'd like to see the process consolidated. We'd like to see the backlog stopped. We'd like to see our border secured.
Sorry, Steve, I'm going to keep going.
QUESTION: Under current law there are a couple of things that the president could do. You could expand that policy. You've said that he would like to see more expedited removal. Does the president intend to expand it to the full two-year limit under the current statute?
SANDERS: Again, we would like to see more expedited removal, but ultimately, we would like to see the border secured and people stop coming into the country illegally. That seems pretty simple to me, and it would stop a lot of the problems, and would eliminate the need for so many of these additional laws.
QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah. The gal in the briefing talking about the importance of civility. Do you consider it a civil policy to separate more than two thirds of the children from their parents?
SANDERS: We consider enforcing the law the role that the administration has to play. Certainly, the president has taken an executive action to the furthest that he has the ability to do to minimize the separation of families. We're working hard to make sure families get to stay together, and we're calling on Congress to help us in that effort, and we're continuing to focus on the reunification, and making sure that the families, again, stay together, and that Congress will give us a permanent solution to fix that.
QUESTION: But you say that you're working to make families stay together. It was your administration that separated them in the first place.
SANDERS: It wasn't our administration that created these laws, but it is our administration's job to enforce it, and we've done that. If someone breaks the law, it's our job to enforce it. If somebody doesn't like the law, then they need to lobby Congress and ask them to change it. Nita (ph)?
QUESTION: I have, one, an immigration question, and wanted to clarify one thing. So I understand that not every adult with a child is going to be prosecuted. If there are families that are being held together, detained together somewhere and 20 days goes by, what is going to happen then? I didn't get an -- an answer with that last week. I don't understand. The law says you can't keep them together, keep the children, even with parents for longer than 20 days. So then what happens?
SANDERS: Hopefully, Congress will pass the law and fix the problem.
QUESTION: (inaudible) 20 days?
SANDERS: Well, why should it be so hard? They all say that they don't want to separate families. Seems like it should be pretty simple to me.
SANDERS: John (ph)?
QUESTION: I said I had a clarification...
SANDERS: Go ahead.
QUESTION: ... so Jeff asked you a question about Congress and the bill. Were you, in your response, referring to just a standalone bill that deals with family separation, or were you referring to the bigger immigration bill that the House hopes to take up this week?
SANDERS: Our preference would be a bill that addresses all of the pillars that we've laid out, that we'd like to see addressed in an immigration package. And that's what our focus is right now, is there's a bill that does that on the table.
If that doesn't happen, then we'll talk about other pieces of legislation at that point.
QUESTION: (inaudible) the president still wants that bill to go forward even though he said...
QUESTION: ... they don't want to -- he -- they shouldn't waste their time on it?
SANDERS: Look, Democrats in the Senate have made clear they're not going to support this. And because we need at least some Democrats to get on board, they've made it very clear that they don't want to work with the president, that they don't want to fix our immigration system. That they'd rather have open borders and rampant crime than work with the president to create solutions. Until they change their mind, we're going to continue looking at the best ways that we can fix these problems but we need Congress to help us.
QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah. This president is the first in the television age who has yet to address the American public on nationwide television from the Oval Office. Many Republican consultants have said that he might have a stronger hand in influencing Congress if he made a nationally televised address on immigration and what changes he'd like to see, to explain it.
Is that something that's on the table within the administration?
SANDERS: Certainly don't want to take anything off the table, or any tool away from the president. He does address the American people in a number of different venues and formats. And I'll certainly pass along that suggestion to him.
QUESTION: Just (inaudible) east. (OFF-MIKE) the reason (inaudible) Mr. Kushner said that if President Abbas (ph) is not willing to negotiate, he's going to proceed with the deal.
Can you explain how the White House is hoping to achieve any progress in the Middle East peace talks if the principal party is not taking part in...
SANDERS: We're going to continue meeting with the other partners in the region. And, again, we're going to continue pushing forward in the peace process. We had productive meetings over the last week. We're going to continue those conversations.
I'll take one last question. Sayer (ph)?
QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.
You have been listening to Press Secretary Sarah Sanders holding the White House briefing amidst a barrage of questions over civility in politics and remaining confusion concerning the president's executive order on immigration and separating parents from their children, also talking about President Trump's tweet, which declared -- quote -- "When somebody comes in," an undocumented immigrant, "we must immediately, with no judges or court cases, bring them back from where they came," which seemed to be a suggestion that there should not be due process for these individuals, which the U.S. Supreme Court has said would be unconstitutional.
Sarah Sanders saying that just because you don't see a judge doesn't mean you aren't receiving due process. My political panel is here with me.
Let's start with the idea of due process.
She said that -- well, she was trying to explain, Bill, what the president said, while there really isn't an explanation.
She was pressed, well, what exactly does the president want to do to remove this constitutional requirement of due process for undocumented immigrants?
BILL KRISTOL, EDITOR, "THE WEEKLY STANDARD": Or change certain laws, which -- and certain lower court decisions interpreting those laws, which is a legitimate thing to propose and to try to do.
[16:15:05] We have different standards for handling immigrants from Mexico and from Central America, for example. That's a legislative determination and some administrative discretion, and that could be changed.
But a normal administration would have a debate about that internally, figure out a coherent policy and go to court to get certain things change, propose legislation and where is the president's legislation? He's waiting for Congress to magically solve this problem, but the president is demagoguing in his tweets. And he is not serious in my opinion about taking the time and the administration hasn't been able to be serious, maybe because he's the president, about taking the time to be serious about if they want to be, about a tighter immigration policy.
I'm not sure that's a good idea any way. But leaving that aside, so she's in the ridiculous position of trying to pretend his tweets have some -- are something other than demagogic attempts to rally his base by making it seem that zillions of people are pouring across the borders and that the Democrats are in favor of crime and open borders.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Yes.
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON, WASHINGTON EXAMINER COLUMNIST: Conservatives are really big fan of the Constitution. They like to talk about the Constitution a lot and so putting yourself on a side of the issue that is opposed to what the Constitution says, which is people have the right to due process, you would think is not a very good al Qaeda for a Republican president.
However, I remember back in the early days of the Tea Party, doing a survey to try to understand folks who considered themselves part of the Tea Party and what motivates them. And there was a question, which was, you agree or disagree that people who worked hard and played by the rules can't get a fair shake, that if you've been doing the right thing, following the rules, that you've still been getting screwed over in America. And I think a lot of Trump supporters feel that way, that they've worked hard, they played by the rules, that people who do things legally and the right way, they had -- it's people who break the rules that get a benefit in the system. And so, when Trump comes out and goes, you know what, no more Mr. Nice
Guy. The process has been benefiting the wrong people, not the right people. That's how he's able to take an issue like that and say, you know what, we're playing Mr. Nice Guy , we had these nice rules that the Constitution has set up so that people are treated fairly, but people are abusing that system so I'm going to change it. And I think that's how he could either pick a fight with the Constitution and try to win politically win among conservatives.
SYMONE SANDERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: I want to step back for a second to just really unpack what you just said. You literally are excusing Donald Trump from yanking away due process --
ANDERSON: I'm explaining the politics of the situation.
SANDERS: But that is not realistic nor is it legal. For someone who wants to purport and bolster the Constitution, the president cannot unilateral change the Constitution.
SANDERS: It doesn't work like that. And so to explain his policy as though it is something logical, and something feasible, it is in fact I think misleading and intellectually dishonest. I think what is happening is that we should all be very concerned that the president and his supporters are trying to bait us into believing that it is OK to suspend, even just talk about, explaining due process for undocumented people in this country, because if you are going to suspend due process for undocumented people, who else is next?
ANDERSON: I don't think it's right to suspend due process, but I'm trying to explain politically why President Trump thinks that he can make these arguments and it will grow in support with his base.
SANDERS: Do you think that is a sane, sound and feasible argument?
ANDERSON: I think with his voters, that they will hear that argument and think --
KRISTOL: It is has done a lot damage among -- as Kristen said -- Republicans who used to care about the Constitution, used to care about the rule of law have moved away from that and that's a terrible thing and that's due to Trump demagoguery. I very much agree.
The good news is I think when you see the real world consequences of these policies, like families being split up, when it is both a harsh policy and a totally ill conceived one and not thought through, voters do rebel, including some of Donald Trump supporters. So, I think there's a limit to how much, you could be a very good demagogue candidate, that you're not responsible for anything. As President Trump, you actually -- your administration actually implements policy. And I do think among certainly reluctant Trump supporters and even some who are more enthusiastic, they take a look at the last two or three weeks under immigration and they are for the wall and they are for not being as nice to undocumented immigrants as some of us might like. But they think, jeez, this is not the way to run a country. Don't you think? I mean, are you finding that in some of your polls and focus groups --
ANDERSON: And there is extremely a high job for the president among Republicans and --
KRISTOL: You're not going to cheer me up. You're not going to tell me it is down 2 percent among some tiny sub group of suburban moms.
TAPPER: Is President Trump's polling incredibly poor levels for a president at this point in his presidency, incredibly poorly with independents, incredibly poorly with Democrats, but higher than any Republican since George W. Bush right after 9/11 --
ANDERSON: And his job approval among Republicans --
TAPPER: Among Republicans, I mean.
ANDERSON: -- is at the highest point of his presidency. That's about where it was when he was first inaugurated, which is why I think he continues to make these political gambles that again seem audacious, outrageous, crazy, but he thinks that they will work because they have been working with keeping him with his own base.
SANDERS: But the Republican -- but first of all, Donald Trump, he thinks he is the president of his people, as he likes to call them, but he is the president of everyone. And so, Republican voters are not just going to -- just having the Republican voters on board will not save the Republicans in the midterm and that won't be enough to get Donald Trump re-elected.
[16:20:04] Secondly, I'm concerned that we're talking about these policies as though over 2,000 children are not currently separated from their parents and there is no current process to reunify those children that have been split off across the country and now, we're talking about family detention which is prison. And so, we are talking about these policies as though there are not real life implications for real people.
To be frank, I don't really care how the Trump supporters themselves feel about the family separation policy. What I do care about is what the Republican members of Congress are going to do to hold this president accountable.
TAPPER: Let's talk about that, because there doesn't seem to be much clarity right now from Republicans on the issue of the reunification of those 2,000-plus children. Here's what the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, told me on "STATE OF THE UNION" yesterday. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Can you tell our viewers this morning that the Trump administration knows right now which kids belong with which parents?
SEN. RON JOHNSON (R-WI), HOMELAND SECURITY CHAIRMAN: That is what they are claiming. Again, they've reunited 21 percent. But again, Jake, this is a mess.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: At the same time on NBC's Sunday show, Republican Senator James Lankford, Republican of Oklahoma said this --
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R), OKLAHOMA: We know where every single child is.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Do you believe that the Trump -- forget the Trump administration, do you think that the U.S. government is capable of knowing right now where every single child is and what parent they match up with? I don't. Just forget Trump for a second.
KRISTOL: No, I don't. And one of the truly irresponsible things about this and this is where you do pay a consequence in the real world, people suffer, as a result of irresponsible and demagogic policies, is the Department of Homeland Security is one department, the Department of Health and Human Services is another department. There's a handoff of the children as I understand to HHS, the parents in DHS custody and guess what? They didn't -- no one thought much ahead of time about how do these people coordinate.
ANDERSON: Now, you have the Department of Defense involved.
KRISTOL: Yes, another one -- so, it's really a disgrace as a matter -- I know it's boring to talk about governance and stuff, but it sort of does matter.
KRISTOL: And it's a disgraceful instance of failure of government, especially in pursuit of a policy that Trump and the Chief of Staff John Kelly and Attorney General Sessions had sort of trumpeted as one of their great innovations. So, I very much agree it's a disgraceful moment and he should be held can accountable.
He seems uninterested to do anything. Congress has dropped the ball, too. We do have things called committees that have oversight and there are people who --
TAPPER: I asked Senator Johnson if he would hold a hearing on this and he said no. KRISTOL: Yes, and isn't that amazing? Or craft legislation
regardless of the president or get together with Senator Cruz or Senator Feinstein and say, you know what, we don't really care about this ridiculous talk from the White House, we're going to get together and at least try to solve the short-term problem and we have slightly different views, maybe we can compromise, but no one in the Congress has much stomach to do anything on one side or the other.
TAPPER: And, Symone, when you talk to lawyers, advocates and judges at the border and reporters have been doing that, they say it's nonsense, that they call up, parents are given an 800 number they call, if anybody answers. They say they'll get back to them. They don't describe a streamlined process where kids are being matched up with their parents to put them back together. It's much more complicated than that.
SANDERS: It's extremely more complicated, which is why I believe folks have to continue to tell their stories. I mean, I watched a segment on CNN where the reporter picked up the phone three different times calling the number, trying to locate this mother's child. So, it's a -- it's a mess. It is a -- and the Trump administration has to take responsibility for it.
But the fact of the matter is that Congress is not the only -- like this is the Trump administration policy. We keep talking about Congress. What Donald Trump and the Republicans want is an overhaul of immigration reform. He wants money for his wall and all these other things, what about the children? That is not something we are currently addressing right now.
TAPPER: All right. Stick around. We got a lot more to talk about.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders just denouncing incivility and saying Democrats prefer open borders and crime to working with President Trump.
Stay with us.
[16:27:51] TAPPER: Quote, be careful what you wish for, Max. That was President Trump's big warning or was it a threat to Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Democrat of California, after she called for Trump administration officials to be harassed in public places.
I want to bring in CNN's Tom Foreman for more on the increasing polarization and nastiness in the public arena.
Tom, should we start labeling restaurants as Democrat or Republican- friendly? That's what people are asking.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, it sure looks like we might have to here. Look, Jake, the bottom line is families, children, fairness, justice -- all of these matters are in front of people right now turning the current debate about immigration into not just policy but something very personal. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)
FOREMAN (voice-over): This small restaurant in a small town is now on the flaming front line of the culture wars. After White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders went Saturday night and tweeted, I was told by the owner to leave because I work for POTUS, the president of the United States.
From some Democrats, jubilation. California Congresswoman Maxine Waters --
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: And if you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them and you tell them they are not welcome anymore, anywhere.
FOREMAN: From the White House, outrage. And an effort to suggest Waters is after all of the president's fans.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters, an extraordinarily low IQ person has just called for harm to supporters of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for, Max.
Even before Waters encouraged public harassment of Trump officials, left wing protesters were arguing someone must stand up to an administration they view as aggressively racist.
FOREMAN: Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen was hounded at a restaurant and her home by a progressive group enraged by the administration's family separation policy.
Trump adviser Stephen Miller was reportedly called a fascist while he dined. Robert De Niro meanwhile used his platform to hurl an obscenity.
ROBERT DE NIRO, ACTOR: (EXPLETIVE DELETED) Trump.
REPORTER: What would Mr. Rogers think about you?
FOREMAN: And it's not just Washington.