Return to Transcripts main page

NEW DAY

House Immigration Bill Likely to Fail; White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders Asked to Leave Restaurant; Lawmakers Visit Tent Facility Holding Separated Children; Trump: Deport Migrants Without Judges Or Court Cases. Aired 8-8:30a ET

Aired June 25, 2018 - 8:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[08:00:00] ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: That is the question.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: A lot of news. Let's keep going.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The president is suggesting that immigrants should not receive due process.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's over 2,000 babies and kids that have not been reunited.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A 15-year-old child walked off one of those locations.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What is bothersome is the president's rhetoric about the Democrats and their willingness to have any type of border security.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: They're pathetically weak on the border. I don't think that's a good issue.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That stroke of pen does not survive three weeks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Asked to leave the restaurant.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not worried about Sarah Huckabee Sanders. I'm worried about millions of kids that today are seeing a different America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is NEW DAY with Alisyn Camerota on John Berman.

BERMAN: Good morning. Welcome to your NEW DAY, Monday, June 25, 8:00 in the east. Alisyn is off. Erica Hill with me here all week. Also joining us, John Avlon. We've got a busy week. The president saying a lot of things this morning. We'll get to that in just a moment. He is trying to grab more power and upend the legal system at the border, no due process. He wants to throw out undocumented immigrants who cross into the country. He wants to do it with no judges or legal proceedings, and he's reportedly angry he can't do more about executive fiat, sort of royal decree, and also angry, we're told from reporters, that he reversed the administration's decision to separate children from the parents at the border. The Trump administration claims it has a plan for reuniting the thousands of families it chose to separate but not clear how, even less clear when.

HILL: And White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders asked to leave a Virginia restaurant over the weekend because she works for the president. Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters in turn calling on people to publicly confront Trump administration officials. What does this say about politics, about civility in this country.

We have it all covered for you this morning. We go first to CNN's Abby Phillip who is live at the White House. Abby?

ABBY PHILLIP, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Erica. President Trump over the weekend had a busy tweeting session talking about immigration policy and calling for the U.S. to deport illegal immigrants without any court proceedings at all. He also railed against immigrants invading the country. He called them these people and railed against the current immigration system as it stands.

But all of this is happening as the administration continues to struggle to explain how exactly they are going to reunite those families that have been separated at the border.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP: Protests intensifying as the Trump administration struggles to reunite the thousands of children still separated from their parents. Democratic lawmakers touring detention centers at the border blasting the conditions they saw inside.

SEN. ELIZABETH WARREN, (D) MASSACHUSETTS: It's a disturbing picture. There are children by themselves. I saw a six-month-old baby. They are all on concrete floors in cages. There's just no other way to describe it.

PHILLIP: But despite the public outcry President Trump ramping up his hardline immigration rhetoric, suggesting that those who crossed into the United States illegally should be sent back immediately without due process or an appearance before a judge. The "New York Times" reports that President Trump complained to aides about why he could not just create an overarching executive order to solve the problem. Those aides explained to him that immigration overhaul is beyond his powers.

TOM BOSSERT, FORMER TRUMP HOMELAND SECURITY ADVISER: The problem with the executive order is it's in direct contradiction to the standing order and ruling from the judge. My guess, that stroke of a pen does not survive three weeks before this court overrules it.

PHILLIP: The president blaming Democrats for failing to pass immigration reform legislation last week and calling his party to focus on immigration in the fall, not now.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I like the issue for election, too. Our issue is strong borders, no crime. Their issue is open borders, let MS-13 all over our country.

PHILLIP: President Trump's comments leaving Republicans confused on how to move forward.

REP. MICHAEL MCCAUL, (R) TEXAS: I did talk to the White House yesterday. They say the president is still 100 percent behind us.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE, (R) ARIZONA: I don't know how in the world we're going to fix this in the short term. It's really a big mess.

PHILLIP: This as the Department of Homeland Security and Health and Human Services reveal their plan to reunite immigrant families separated at the border. Children will remain in custody of Health and Human Services based on the results of their parents' immigration proceedings. If the parent is released they can apply to be the child's sponsor, a process that can take weeks. If the parent is deported the child will be reunited before they leave the country.

But it's still unclear who will link the parents with their children. Backlash over the crisis hitting home as Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was kicked out of a Virginia restaurant Friday night.

[08:05:00] Sanders firing back on Twitter. "Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree, respectfully and will continue to do so." The owner of the Red Hen saying "I explained that the restaurant has certain standards that I feel it has to uphold, such as honesty and compassion and cooperation. I said I'd like to ask you to leave."

(END VIDEOTAPE)

PHILLIP: And now somewhat predictably President Trump has weighed in on this controversy with the Red Hen, just this morning a few minutes ago tweeting some criticism at the restaurant for its cleanliness. It's not clear whether or not that's based on anything factual at all, but the president here defending his press secretary Sarah Sanders and criticizing this restaurant in Virginia. John and Erica?

BERMAN: Abby Phillip for us at the White House. Joining us now, CNN analyst David Drucker and Rachael Bade. I think it is interesting not only has the president chosen all of a sudden to write about the restaurant, he's also talking about the Russia investigation again. David Drucker, it seems to me that perhaps he wants to change the focus to what has been a very tough thing for him to explain, which is why the government chose to separate children from their parents and how they're going to them back together.

DAVID DRUCKER, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: The president obviously wants to flip the script from where he was last week, which is that administration policy, however well-intended, and some would argue it was well-intended to put a stop to illegal immigrants manipulating U.S. asylum laws, the video and the separation's policy being zero- tolerance from its previous conditional position overwhelmed the president's messaging.

The interesting thing here is number one, what the president did with his executive order, which we know he's not really happy with, does not actually end separations. He is asking the courts to allow him to detain families indefinitely but do so together, and we don't even know if that will work.

The second thing, and I saw this in talking to a lot of Republicans as they're trying to put together immigration legislation, which is that the president they feel has a real opportunity to lead on border security and immigration reform where maybe past presidents didn't have the credibility with the Republican base and that he has failed to lead. We are 18 months into an administration almost. This is what they're telling me, 18 months in almost and the president has not gone to Congress with a concerted immigration overhaul effort and said lets' try and get this done. It has been scattershot attempts mostly designed to get money for the wall, which is fine if that's what your thing is. But the president complains about all sorts of problems with border laws and immigration regulations. We saw that again in the past few days, lamenting the issue with judges and how they are actual asylum laws and people have due process.

He hasn't done anything to try to change that at least using his office and the political heft that he has on the right to bring his party along to make some tough choices. And they actually want him to do that in Congress, and that's where so much of this frustration is.

HILL: And when you look at frustration, it's interesting, too, we are waiting to see what happens in Congress this week obviously. We know this likely won't go very far even if this does pass in the House, this compromise bill that is out there, but Rachael, if there is some movement on that front this week, does it help the president or does it help more Congress who can say we are doing this with or without the president. He told us not to waste our time. We are still moving forward.

RACHAEL BADE, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, so Republicans, as Drucker was just saying there, they want him to embrace this. They think this could be a big win for him if they can pass something. I'm hearing from top Republicans in the House that they can vote as soon as Tuesday on this bill.

But listen, the sentiment up there right now is that this is going to totally fail and be a complete embarrassment to the party because the president will not embrace this bill. And it's interesting because Republicans will point out to you, supporters of this bill, that this legislation actually was crafted to fit and perfectly mirror what the president put out in terms of addressing DACA and dealing with Dreamers just a few months ago. And yet there is a lot of blowback on the far right, people calling this bill amnesty. And so right now Republicans have been unable to convince the president even though leadership has been trying to do so for at least two weeks to embrace this bill. There is a lot of Republicans who have told leadership I can't support something unless Trump comes out here says I want you to pass this. And the president has shown he is uncomfortable doing that. He's just not willing to do it.

So it's going to go down as soon as Tuesday. I think the question moving forward is what they do after that. There is a big question about whether they can take up a more narrow provision in the House this week that would address family separation. Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, was telling Republicans in a private meeting last week that they don't think just changing what they did a week ago can actually stand. They need Congress to act. There is a fear that the courts will step in and say you can't keep migrant children with their parents again for longer than 20 days as the court has said before. So what does the administration do after that? That is a big question going forward.

[08:10:09] JOHN AVLON, CNN POLITICAL ANALYST: Right, and this is a question of governing versus grandstanding at the end of the day. The president is clearly content to use illegal immigration for political gain. But can he step up and actually guide policy to help solve the problem, which is arguably better long-term politics. This caucus is so fractured they are begging for presidential leadership, and the president has been unwilling to follow through on that. But he has got an opportunity to do something, and frankly it is an obligation that is a little bit bigger.

BERMAN: The politics is a mess. David, you're right about this, the politics is a mess of this, and the last three weeks has made it nearly impossible if anything was ever possible, and I'm not so sure about that, getting it through the Congress. But the politics don't matter to these 2,000 kids. It doesn't necessarily take a congressional decree. It doesn't take one at all to get them back with their parents. It doesn't at all. And right now we are not seeing the progress we need to be seeing to get those kids back with their parent. I'm not even sure we see a desire.

DRUCKER: Part of the problem is the Republicans are so concerned about doing anything on immigration where they don't have presidential cover, right, because their own base is with the president when it comes to tightening the border. And as the president said, I want to keep families together but we are not going back to catch and release.

This is why he has not gone back to the old policy. Under past presidents, separations only occurred when you had an existing legal matter and were caught illegally crossing the border. This now applies to everybody because he doesn't want to continue the policy. But for Republicans in Congress on an issue as sensitive as immigration back at home, they are only going to make a tough choice, most of them, if they have cover from him. There are not enough immigration centrists, if you will, in the House or the Senate and there's not enough good will for Democrats to compromise with President Trump because of their base on the left. And so it leaves immigration back where it has been for the past 15 years, which is nowhere.

BERMAN: Rachael?

BADE: And just to jump in there about uniting families, uniting kids with their parents, it seems like the administration has run into a roadblock and that they don't really have an infrastructure for bringing families back together. We have seen reports over the past few days about parents being told to call a 1-800 number to try to find their child, and they are put on hold, and when they finally get to talk to someone, they are just giving information about their kid. They're not getting anything in return. They're told it's going to be a couple days. E-mail this e-mail address, and this is what the problem is.

BERMAN: This is the issue, right. Congress can argue and not get anything done all it wants this week, but these 2,000 kids, there's got to be a smoother system to get them back with their families. We are just not seeing any of it right now at all. And there are a lot of people protesting this, there are a lot of people angry about it. It is one of the reasons that Sarah Sanders was asked to leave this restaurant among other things. There were people at the restaurant uncomfortable and her and her defense of the administration. There are people upset that we are talking about Sarah Sanders, John, based on the fact that the 2,000 children are still separated from their family.

AVLON: And look, I think we've consistently said that 2,000 kids is the preeminent issue. But this is more than simply a distraction, because it really goes to the heart of civility in American politics, situational ethics that we see too often in politics, Democrats saying that she should have been thrown out when they were condemning the cake baker in the Masterpiece case in the Supreme Court, and the issue of hypocrisy. We need to find a way to at least park the situational ethics and apply consistent standards. I get that politics are personal and a lot of policies are really personal including immigration, but if we all simply descend at a level where Maxine Waters is calling for Democrats to hound administration officials out of all public places, that is not good for the country, let alone the politics.

DRUCKER: And as a practical matter, if Democrats want to win disaffected Republicans in the midterm elections, Republicans unhappy with the president's behavior, his tweeting and what they see on the right, this is not the way they are going to do it because they're going to see incivility on the right, incivility on the left, and they're not going to vote or they're going to say I might as well go with the uncivil people who I agree with more often rather than the out party to try and cleanse my party. It will not work.

BERMAN: But Rachael, you know because you talk to people on both sides down there on the caucus, there are Democrats and progressives who say we need to fight fire with fire. We can't just retreat. We can't unilaterally disarm. Maxine Waters said what she said. I had a Congressman from New York. He won't condemn it here with me right now.

BADE: It reminds me a little bit about the debate going on with the Democrats about impeachment. Again, you have some folks on the far left, the more progressive part of the Democratic Party, and they want to fight. They want to take it to the president. They want to talk about impeachment in the midterms. But a lot of Democratic leadership, Pelosi, Hoyer, they think that this is not a winning message. Again, they want to be seen as the party that can govern.

[08:15:00] They want to be seen as the party that can check the president, and going out there and saying we are going to attack you in public or we're going to obstruct, that is not what the American people want to hear right now. And so that is not going to be a winning message for them this fall in the midterms.

DRUCKER: Fire versus fire burns the whole house.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: No, but you need to have fire in your base right now. That's Democrats, some, are trying to do there. All right. Dave, Rachel, everyone, thank you very, very much.

Coming up, we are going to speak to a lawmaker who has again been to the border. He has seen this crisis first-hand and warns it could be getting worse. Stick around.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: House Republicans say they will try to push a vote this week on compromised immigration bill including a permanent fix on separation of children from their parents at the borders. Lawmakers from both houses have been visiting detention centers to see how separated families are being treated.

Joining us now is one of those lawmakers, Democrat Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico. Senator, thanks so much for being with us. We do not have a lot of visibility on these children where they are staying, the conditions they are in. So, I have been asking every member that I get a chance to talk to what have you seen? What conditions are these children living in?

SENATOR TOM UDALL (D), NEW MEXICO: Well, you know, what I'm worried about the most is the emotional scars to young children that are separated from their parents. That's very traumatic. All the mental health people tell us that this can leave permanent scars. And so, I saw many young children as young as 3 years old without their parents. And that's really what I'm worried about more than anything.

[08:20:10] BERMAN: The administration and Jim Lake, a senator from Oklahoma, claim they know where every child is. They know where every parent is -- why not?

UDALL: I don't believe it for a minute because the numbers we're getting with the reporting are anywhere from 2,300 to 3,000 children. I want the president to step forward with a list or one of his cabinet secretaries and let us know they have the names of the children.

They know where they are, and they know they are in good condition and that they are going to reunite them with their parents because he has signed an executive order that said he is going to do that.

This policy of separating children from their families is inhumane and cruel. We have to put an end to it and we have to get them reunited. I don't see the commitment here to get them reunited.

BERMAN: The administration right now tells us they believe that number is 2,000 and change children still separated from their parents.

UDALL: Well, their numbers are all over because they have been saying 2,300 and now they have reunited 500, that would be 1,800.

BERMAN: It is confusing. I'm not denying it's not confusing --

UDALL: Their numbers make no sense. What I would like is what we saw in the Torneel (ph) Facility. We were with the director of the facility. He showed us a screen and he says, "I have all 250 names on it." That's what we need to know from somebody. They have every single name on it and it is open. It is public and transparent, and I don't see that from this administration.

BERMAN: One of the things the president suggested over the weekend is he would like the power presumably to deport people immediately without a legal hearing and without judges. What do you make of that?

UDALL: Well, I think it raises very serious constitutional issues. We have always been a country where people come here to seek asylum, when they are fleeing violence and very devastating kinds of situations in their country, we have allowed them due process and allowed them to come in and appeal to an administrative court.

He is saying do away with all of that. I just don't think the American people think that that's a good solution to do away with our Constitution. As one constitutional scholar called it, he said that is a very tyrannical alternative being put forward here.

BERMAN: It is kind of what some Republicans in the Senate, even Ted Cruz, are proposing. He like to essentially double the number of judges on the border. Could you support that?

UDALL: I think there is a back log with the judges and I don't have any problem increasing the judges that handle these asylum claims and other claims. That's no problem, but you know, the president has actually told us he doesn't want us to work on this anymore.

BERMAN: He did. He did. He said that over the weekend. He said that Republicans are wasting their time although over the weekend the White House came forward and said they are supportive of the so-called compromised measure in the House. Unclear whether the House will get to that, get to you in the Senate.

On the issue of separating parents from their children or keeping them together, there is this Flores court decision, which mandates that children have to be released after a relatively short of period of time. If there were some way around that, would you be supportive of a system that held parents alongside their children maybe indefinitely?

UDALL: I don't think we should move from one humanitarian crisis which is the crisis of holding parents separate from their kids to a humanitarian crisis of creating camps in this country with families. We have never done that. I don't think we should do that now.

I think there are much more humanitarian things that can be done. A parent with a child can be released to a sponsor who has been vetted with an ankle bracelet and they show 99 percent return at the courts and at their hearing.

And that costs $4.50 a day. I think that is not what we are seeing right now. This administration is spending $2,000 a day. They are waste ag lot of money. They have created total chaos. Nobody is really accountable. You can't get interviews with any of these cabinet secretaries.

BERMAN: The problem Republicans say is you have a rate of about 25 percent if you do release these parents with their children or put them in other kinds of care. They say that is too high. I want to get your take on one thing.

UDALL: I think it is 99 percent. Please go forward.

BERMAN: I do want to get your take on the discourse in this country right now and how we talk to each other and how we are willing to listen to each other and not listen to each other. I don't want to distract from the discussion of the 2,000 children because I think they are most important thing here.

But we have people being kicked out of restaurants. On the one hand, we have people on Twitter who have sit in the oval office yelling and screaming and making charges about anyone else on the other hand. What will make this better?

[08:25:11] UDALL: Well, it certainly is not going to be made better when the president tells us he doesn't want to see a solution for four months because he wants to run a campaign on this issue. I try to reach out every day to Republicans. They are there are many, many good Republicans, opposite side of the aisle from me in the Senate.

I would love to be working with them and have their president tell them, well, let's have everybody work together. Unfortunately, what has happened is when we produce a bill that starts moving we go to the president and he torpedoes the bill. So, that is where we are today.

BERMAN: All right. Senator Tom Udall, thanks so much for being with us. Again, you keep on visiting the centers. Keep us posted and the conditions you are seeing there.

UDALL: We sure will. Thank you very much.

ERICA HILL, CNN ANCHOR: This obviously is top of mind for so many Americans, those 2,000 children, also what is happening at the border in general. Faith leaders divided over the president's border policies. We'll hear from Bishop (inaudible) next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

HILL: One of Attorney General Jeff Sessions pastor said yesterday she does not agree with the Trump --