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Justice Anthony Kennedy's Supreme Court Retirement Bombshell; Trump On SCOTUS Pick; Embattled FBI Agent Meets With Congress Behind Closed Doors In 11-Hour Marathon; Federal Judge Rules Nationwide Reunification; Only Six Children Reunited With Families In Six Days. Aired 11-12a ET
Aired June 27, 2018 - 23:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
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[23:00:00] DON LEMON, CNN HOST: Including the bombshell announcement that Justice Anthony Kennedy is retiring from the Supreme Court. President Trump speaking tonight about exactly what he is looking for in a Supreme Court Justice.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The travel ban ruling underscores just how critical it is to confirm Judges who will support our constitution. And remember this, so we have a pick to come up, we have to pick a great one. We have to pick one that is going to be there for 40 years, 45 years. We need intellect. We need so many things to go. You know, there's so many elements go into the making of a great justice of the Supreme Court. You've got to hit every one of them.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Well, now, President Trump has a chance to fill his second Supreme Court vacancy with someone much more conservative, changing the direction of the court much faster than his recent predecessors. This is a President who is rewriting the rules of our political system. He offended the campaign as a candidate, and now as President he has the power to reshape a divided America.
A lot to discuss. I want to bring in now CNN Political Analyst, April Ryan, CNN Presidential Historian, Douglas Brinkley, and Jack Quinn, who was White House counsel to President Clinton.
Good evening to all of you. April, you are first. President Trump is in North Dakota tonight and he is elated about Kennedy's retirement. Look at this.
APRIL RYAN, CNN POLITICAL ANALIST: Yes.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Justice Anthony Kennedy, a very special guy. Also, just announced a little while ago his retirement from the United States Supreme Court. (CHEERS)
Great man. And I am very honored that he chose to do it during my term in office, because he felt confident in me to make the right choice and carry on his great legacy. That is why he did it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: So, April, he gets it. He understands the significance and power he has here.
RYAN: Yes, he does. Most definitely. This President, you know, you just heard him in the other clip, 40 to 45 years. He is looking for someone young, someone who carries on or believes in those pillars of the Republican Party. You know, from what I'm hearing from my sources that are close to the White House, that the top two picks are ready to possibly overturn Roe v. Wade. And then you also have other issues that the President's concerned about, guns and you know, you also have issues of marriage so, and Justice.
Kennedy is someone who supported -- he didn't go with the traditional conservative thinking when he ruled on gay rights. So this President is looking for someone who is down the line that is going to deal with conservative issues the way he wants. And he wants someone to do it by any means necessary to deal with these Republican pillars on that court. 40 to 45 years is a long time.
LEMON: Jack, I want to read something. This is tweet, it is from our friend David Axelrod. He says, this goes to nomination will determine a lot about the nature of American life for a generation or more. Yet the decision will be made by a President who lost the popular vote and who's Senate whose majority represents less than half of a deeply divided country. So, what happens, Jack, if the court and their decisions don't represent the views of the majority of the country?
JACK QUINN, FORMER CLINTON WHITE HOUSE COUNSEL: The President has the right to pick this nominee and install him on the Supreme Court if confirmed by the Senate. This nominee is going to be more conservative than many of us would like, and you know, I think what's at stake here is not so much -- well, I don't want to minimize in any way the importance of the issues that April mentioned. They're all vitally important, and certainly vitally important to me and my family. We care about them, but this nominee is going to be conservative and going to move the court to the right. That is a given. I can't imagine that otherwise.
Unless the Senate will stop the person. Now, that said it's equally important to me that we emphasize the importance of this person understanding that he plays -- he or she will play a role in the wonderful architecture of American democracy. You know, this country is founded on the greatest metaphor in the English language, checks and balances.
We have three independent and coequal branches of government. We are at a moment in our history where those principles aren't just vitally important. They are what prevents us from having a tyranny, they are what keeps our Presidents becoming autocrats they are what make sure that our president are accountable under the law, whether it's through processes like impeachment or being held to standards of criminal justice when crimes are committed.
[23:05:07] It is so important that we have a justice on the Supreme Court who adheres to these principles, that as a member of a coequal branch --
LEMON: Jack, I hear you, and I think that most people in the audience, most rational people would agree, but we know that over the course of the last few years nothing has been normal when it comes to this -- starting with this candidacy. Let me just get Doug in forsake of time. I understand what you're saying, but it seems to me, Doug, President Trump's entire presidency is historical in a number of ways. Campaign, election, what he has done in presence of his actions, what he said, the breaking of norms. Now he has -- he is going to have a lifelong impact on this Supreme Court. And chances are -- this is just me -- he is probably going to nominate the most conservative person that he can find just because he has the power to do it. Why wouldn't he?
DOUGLAS BRINKLEY, CNN PRESIDENTIAL HISTORIAN: Absolutely. Donald Trump's going to find somebody that very conservative, kind of a buttoned-down person, but deeply conservative. Kennedy had a little bit of a libertarian streak in him. So sometimes on something like Roe v. Wade he would with Democrats on, because of that. Trump's not going to pick someone with libertarian streak. I mean, he doesn't want pick somebody like Dwight Eisenhower, pick Earl Warren thinking norm was a conservative. And it turned out Warren was often liberal in particularly on integration.
So, Trump is going to has people, I believe vetted and have them vetted more. And he is going to try to get a rubber stamp and Neil Gorsuch, if he can find another one like that. And what is concerning if you are a Democrat is, this is going to play out in the fall heading into the mid-terms, Don.
And instead of the Mueller report perhaps keeping Trump in a box, they're going to be running this on TV and Trump may be able to tell the electorate come November I've got two Supreme Court justice. Yes, I'm a little bit weird in my tweets, yes I say bigoted things, but conservatives come out. You're getting what you need out of me.
QUINN: That is almost certainly the game plan. They are going to run right at those Democratic Senators up for re-election in states that Donald Trump carried. And it's going to be all about getting votes to confirm an extremely conservative Supreme Court Judge.
LEMON: What about, Jack, an activist, you think, because you were saying it's important to have checks and balances. I think that is a very good point, but you understand what I'm saying. We're in a different time now. These are not normal times. So, you know, checks and balances is important, but do you think the President is thinking about that? Do you think the folks in D.C., the congress, do you think they're thinking about that? I don't think so.
QUINN: I don't think so, but the reason I'm raising it is because we have a Congress that enjoys the support of -- that has the confidence of only nine percent of the American people. We have a Congress with Devin Nunes sort of throwing the towel in on the Russia investigation. There is no sense of accountability coming from the Congress towards the President.
In those circumstances all I'm trying to say is that it is ever more important that the characteristic of independence, calling balls and strikes fairly, that that be among the things really emphasized by the Senate when they consider this nominee. It's not just about particular issues. It's about having judicial character, independence, and understanding the delicate balance that the framers setup in this constitution, so that we get somebody who can really demand accountability for the presidency.
LEMON: OK. All right, well, we shall see. We haven't seen a lot of that. So, listen, April, I want you -- take a look at this graphic. Less than two years into his presidency you can see President Trump, he is going to have really the same impact on a four two-term President I should say have had. And George Bush -- Bush number one, thought daddy bush got one -- he only got one term, so he only got just as Clarence Thomas, but I mean, he is having more of an impact than all of these other Presidents already.
RYAN: Yes, this President can have three or four U.S. Supreme Court picks or maybe even more. We just don't know how life turns out. But you know, there is a big concern, you know, when you were talking about Daddy Bush and Clarence Thomas, you know, that was a big concern about Clarence Thomas since time. And people are still looking for that Thurgood marshal of the Supreme Court, they were saying that, you know, President Obama has a chance to do that, but we have not seen that as of yet and then in this list of pics that this President has, there is not a person of color.
[23:10:07] There is a woman in the top tier who is in her 40s, but there's a concern about that. And there's also concern by Democrats that Ruth Bader Ginsberg, you know, that she holds out for the next two years until the presidential election and see what happens. There is big concern about how this court could shift. Three to four or even more U.S. Supreme Court picks for one President who is again, like I said, by any means necessary trying to support the Conservative agenda, the Republican pillars, and there is a big concern in Democrats in the Senate are trying to figure out a strategy. They're going to do something tomorrow to figure out a strategy to thwart this.
LEMON: Doug, do you think, you mentioned the mid-terms and you talked about what the administration will be seeing as they go out on the road for mid-terms and probably come 2020 as well. Look at what you know, look at the fixes. The Supreme Court Justice and on and on. The stakes for the mid-terms, though, just got higher, right? Is that even possible?
BRINKLEY: Absolutely, Don. It did get higher. And I've been telling people this is the most consequential mid-term election in our lifetime, and yet it just got amped up even more. What also stands out to me this evening is the failure of the Mayor Garland nomination that Obama picked him in 2016, and they couldn't get him heard in the senate. The Democrats lost getting Garland in.
And that is going to look larger and larger here, that the, you know, that the Obama years didn't produce that justice at the moment they needed to, and Mitch McConnell is going to be in the news a lot because he held up Garland. And now he is going to try to play games on what is the Biden rule and all the rest, but Garland is going to be seen in history as a major loss for the Democrats when they didn't get him through.
LEMON: Yes, let's put that graphic up again, because many people think there should be a third justice in the Obama column there, because what you just said about Merrick Garland. Whatever you think about the strategy, whenever you think about that many people think it was stolen from them. I've got to run, Jack, but I just want to get one quick thing from you. One Democratic Congressman said quote, the Supreme Court is no longer a judicial body, it is an armed of the Republican Party. Do you agree, it goes along with what you are saying? Do you agree with that?
QUINN: I'm not sure that they are there yet, but they are moving in that direction. And I am really concerned these nominees might find themselves accountable if not to Donald Trump, to the interest groups that put them on the list that he is looking at. That is my concern, I mean the federal society that these people will feel beholden to interest groups that have promoted them with the president.
LEMON: Thank you. I appreciate it.
When we come back, Democrats saying they're ready to fight the President, but do they really have any options when it comes to his Supreme Court pick? I'm going to ask Congressman Eric Swalwell next.
[23:15:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: President Trump says he will pick a replacement for Justice Anthony Kennedy as soon as possible. And there may not be anything Democrats can do about it. Joining me now Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell. He is a member of the House Judiciary Committee. You probably don't want to hear that, do you?
REP. ERIC SWALWELL, (D), CALIFORNIA: Well, I don't agree.
LEMON: Oh, you don't. OK. Why not?
SWALWELL: There is a lot we can do. All right. We saw last week when the President was separating mothers from babies that we weren't helpless, that we could call our members of Congress, we could call our Senators and we can move them to talk directly to the President and get him to do the right thing. And when you look at Senators Flake and Corker and Heller and, you know, others who are in pivotal seats, in very close seats, I think people being loud and making sure that their voices are heard, I wouldn't give up on it just yet, Don.
LEMON: OK. But here is the reality, you don't have control of the Senate.
LEMON: All right, OK, so Senate Republicans only need 50 votes. There was a rule change, remember? And if you look at the 2018 map there were 10 Democrats up for re-election in states that Donald Trump won in 2016, five of those members represent states that Trump carried by double digits. So they're going to feel compelled to vote along with this President. I understand what you are saying, you can yell and scream, but as far as strategy and official rules, you have no leverage.
SWALWELL: Well, again, I look at a lot of the seats that people did not think were in play that are in play right now. Don, I was in Dallas, Texas, on Friday night with Beto O'Rourke. They had 2,000 people at his grass roots event, Beto O'Rourke, running against Ted Cruz in Texas and that energy is across the country it is not --
LEMON: If they get a vote before the mid-terms? And how is Beto --
SWALWELL: Well, that is why I think if you put pressure on these incumbent Senators they may not just rubber stamp who Donald Trump puts in front of them. That is the same with Dean Heller in Nevada. I also think, you know, Ms. Murkowski in Arizona, you know may have some issues with a Supreme Court nominee who is going to (inaudible), you know, Roe v. Wade.
LEMON: So, I had Symone Sanders on. She was talking about Democrats and the strategy, and that the Democrats were strategizing about what to do about this and the mid-terms as well. So, when it concerns this issue, how far are you willing to go in your push back, in your fight? Are you willing to bring up the fact that he is under investigation, that there shouldn't be, you know, maybe a nominee should not be confirmed until all this is over? I mean, how far Democrats willing to go, because Republicans play hardball. Democrats, not always.
SWALWELL: Yes. Well, I think as long as Mitch McConnell is the leader of the Senate we should follow the rules that Mitch McConnell set for Merrick Garland, which is so close to the election which is let the American people have a voice in it and not have a confirmation vote until after November.
That is where I would start if I was a Senator. But again, I'm not going to give up on the voices of the American people being heard at town halls, town squares and making sure that their Republican Senators do the right thing.
LEMON: So, I want to shift some gears now Congressman and talk about FBI agent Peter Strzok. Answer questions from your committee today on those anti-Trump text messages. What can you tell us about his interview? SWALWELL: Well, first, it was a colossal waste of time, Don. This is
the committee that has jurisdiction over immigration over 2,000 children are still disconnected from their parents. We could have done something to change that. Instead we went back in time again to revisit Hillary Clinton's emails. Nothing change. He sent inappropriate text message, he regretted that, but it didn't effect an investigation, and he certainly wasn't the one who told Michael Cohen to contact Sadder and setup a Trump tower in Moscow.
[23:20:13] He did not ask Don Jr. to take a meeting with the Russian offering dirt on Hilary Clinton and he even write the speech for Donald Trump where he invited the Russians to keep hacking. There were so many concerning contacts from the Trump team with the Russians, independent of each stroke. This is just an effort I think to undermine the progress that Bob Mueller is making.
LEMON: So, Congressman, I just want to read the key text message exchanges between Strzok and former FBI lawyer Lisa Page. OK?
Page, Trump's not ever going to become President, right? And then Strzok says, no, no he is not, we'll stop it. So, based on what you heard and what you saw today do you believe Peter Strzok was biased in the investigation in to Trump and Clinton?
SWALWELL: It was inappropriate, and he shouldn't have sent it, but the Inspector General report found that his independent personal opinions expressed to Ms. Page privately had no effect on the investigation. Because so many other agents were working on it and so much of it was outside of his control. But again, Don, I am not condoning anything that he said. I have two brothers who are police officers. They have very personal private opinions, but I see every day how hard they work, and they separate their politics from what they have to do on the street, and we expect that of every law enforcement officer in America.
LEMON: Did you hear any evidence that Strzok intended to try to influence the election outcomes?
SWALWELL: No, not at all.
LEMON: Not at all. Simple as that.
SWALWELL: That is right. And the transcripts of today's hearing should be released. Mr. Strzok actually wanted them to be public, and the Republicans are refusing to release the transcripts. I think the American people should see the full body of evidence and they would see all of the concerning contacts that the Trump team had that justify what the FBI was doing and looking at and what Bob Mueller is still doing and should still be given the ability to look at.
LEMON: He still works for the FBI. Should he be fired?
SWALWELL: He wouldn't work for me, Don, but I'll leave that, you know, to the FBI. Because I think Donald Trump has, you know, really invaded upon the rule of law and I believe in the independence of the Department of Justice. I wouldn't have him working for me. LEMON: The Inspector General's report says Strzok's texts cast a
cloud over the entire FBI investigation.
SWALWELL: Yes, that is what I hate so much about this, because there's so many other reasons for this investigation to go forward, and this is just being used -- this is a pebble in a mountain of evidence, but it's being used to suggest that there was something improper and there wasn't.
LEMON: Thank you Congressman, I appreciate your time.
SWALWELL: My pleasure.
LEMON: When we come back a lot of Republicans voted for the President for one reason, to get more conservative judges appointed. There is a balance of power in the Supreme Court shifts to the right, should we be worried that it's getting too polarized?
[23:25:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: A year and a half or two in his term and President Trump has a chance to fill his second Supreme Court vacancy with someone much more conservative just as he promised his voters. I want to bring in now CNN Political Commentators, Scott Jennings, Angela Rye, Bakari Sellers, Amanda Carpenter. Amanda is the author of "Gaslighting America, why we love when Trump lies to us."
Good evening one and all.
AMANDA CARPENTER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Hello.
LEMON: Hello, Amanda. You first. So we often hear people ask how can conservatives and evangelicals possible stick with President Trump, and these nominations are precisely the reason why.
CARPENTER: Absolutely. And this is one thing that he can't screw up. Because, Conservatives made it so clear, they made a list, these are the people you must choose from if you want our endorsement and our support through the Presidential campaign and going forward. So the first reason that his first Supreme Court was such a success was because of that list. Republican actually helped him keep his feet in the fire, made him accountable, and so this is one where I breathe a big sigh of relief, have a smile on my face, because the work has already been done.
LEMON: All right, I had to full stop right there. But, Scott, evangelicals and conservatives, I mean, they used to say character matters in a President. Remember the party of family values. Does character really not matter anymore as long as you get the right Judges?
SCOTT JENNINGS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think policy matters most to most voters, and that includes evangelical voters. And if you look at the Supreme Court list, that Amanda reference to it. If you look at the circuit court list, I mean, these courts don't get as much attention, but the kind of people they're putting on the circuits court are just as good, just as young. They are going to be around for three or four decades as well.
Evangelicals are very happy with this, conservatives are very happy in general. I mean, they are -- look at the decisions this week, the decisions that are coming down 5-4. And that is before, you know, we replaced Kennedy with someone else. Although Kennedy has been a pretty good vote for the conservatives during his term. So, yes, right now, policy matters and after eight years of a country under Barack Obama and a court system under Obama that lurched very forward to the left, that conservatives are going to take everything they can get here and they are very pleased today.
LEMON: That was a good answer, Scott. So policy matters. But I said does character matter and it doesn't or does?
JENNINGS: Well, I will answer your question directly. They made a decision in 2016 between two people that they thought maybe -- neither had the best character, but one was going to move their policy interest forward and one was not. They went with the person who was going to move their policy interests forward. And they are happy with the results of it.
LEMON: Angela, he is right. That is exactly what happened. And the stakes in this Supreme Court seat are very high. I mean, talk to me about the impacts about of another conservative nominee, what they will do to society, what they're going to bring to society?
ANGELA RYE, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: OK. First I need to backtrack two comments to Amanda. Amanda, what's the name of your book again? One more time for the viewers. What is the name of the book?
CARPENTER: Angela, you can have your own comment, I'll listen.
RYE: Oh, well, I was trying to give you a plug. My bad. My bad. So what I was going to say was you'll get it tomorrow. Gaslighting, right, I think it's so interesting that you had you are breathing a sigh of relief. It's so premature. This President has demonstrated to you, to your party, to the rest of the country over and over again that he does not stay consistent in any one way or the other. He can sign a contract and backtrack. He can tell a vendor that he won't -- that he is going to pay them and then not pay them. So, I think breathing a sigh of relief right now is far, far, far too premature.
And stranger things have happened here. But strange things happened all day for me today.
Whether we're talking about Janice versus Ashley (ph) which was a devastating blow to American workers or Kennedy retiring, which is a lukewarm blow because to Scott's point just a moment ago, Anthony Kennedy has been a very strong conservative vote this term and it has killed progressives and people in America that are working to try to get a leg up and fulfill an American dream, whatever that might look like in this day and age. So, I guess, yeah, it's fine. I was trying to give you your book plug because I agree with the book. Nonetheless, I don't agree with your point tonight.
LEMON: So, Bakari, groups all over the country rely on the Supreme Court to protect their interests and their rights. Is the Supreme Court now becoming polarized like the American electorate?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's definitely moving further to the right. I think that it's becoming an arm of the Republican Party for certain. You know, I was having a conversation with my colleague earlier today, Ali (ph), who works in the office right next to me and she said -- she came in the office and she said, Bakari, we're screwed.
And I said, no, you're incorrect, we're not screwed, we're actually screwed for generations. I think that the gravity of this is something that we have to take heed of. I mean, the fact that Justice Kennedy was the only thing standing between the abolishment of Roe v. Wade. Justice Kennedy is the only reason that we have affirmative action in this country. I mean, we have some serious consequences for a few things.
And tonight I'm extremely pissed off. So, I'm pissed off with Bernie Sanders, I'm pissed off with Mitch McConnell, I'm pissed off with every single Democrat that decided they weren't going to come out and vote in 2016, I'm pissed off with the fact that the Republican Party did something by sacrificing all the norms of the United States Senate, something they hadn't done in 150 years plus.
And now we have to reap what we've sowed. And there are a lot of people, Democrats, Republicans, white, black, and poor that are going to have to suffer now because of what is happening under Donald Trump's administration. I'm not sure that we understand the gravity of it.
LEMON: Scott, you need a napkin because you're drooling. You're smiling so much. You're loving this. Angela --
JENNINGS: Bakari, you left one person off your list. I'm surprised you forgot him. I mean, how quickly we forget. We have to thank the man who made this all possible, Harry Reid, who back in 2013 changed the rule. I got to go to Vegas on Friday. I'm going to take Harry a nice fruit basket. Mitch McConnell --
JENNINGS: -- Senate floor. He changed the rules for judicial nominations and Mitch McConnell say --
SELLERS: But they didn't include Supreme Court justices.
JENNINGS: -- and here we are. Here we are. So, thank you, Harry, for making America great again.
SELLERS: You know what's amazing, Scott? Scott, that's fine. Throw Harry Reid in the same category. I'm pissed off with everybody right now because right now, we have people who are not in the United States Senate, people who are not president of the United States, people who are not sitting on panels for CNN, who are going to suffer because of it.
People like white women who benefit most of affirmative action who are going to suffer in the workplace. Women who are in states that do not have protection but who need abortions, who literally need abortions are going to suffer from it. Unions, people who are in unions are going to suffer. And so, throw Harry Reid under the boss union --
JENNINGS: -- paychecks. Union bosses will suffer, I agree with you on that point. Union bosses --
RYE: No, no, no. It's actually American workers. It's American workers. It's a talking point that you all use regularly. What you meant to say is that bosses, corporate bosses are benefiting greatly from this that's why there's right to work legislation all over --
JENNINGS: But Janice Pace (ph) had to do with government workers, not corporations.
RYE: I understand that.
JENNINGS: It had to do with government workers, having their pocketbooks raided by union bosses.
RYE: I understand that. But you're foolish if you don't understand the right to work legislation that passed in several --
JENNINGS: Don't call me foolish. I know exactly what I'm talking about. Do you?
RYE: Oh, Scott, I know you love to go there with me, but don't try me today. I'm a black woman on fire you do not want to see, buddy. Trust me. You don't want this flame. Don't do it.
JENNINGS: I'm having the best day I've had in a long time.
RYE: I know you are, but don't have it on my back, buddy. You're not going to do it.
LEMON: Whew! Amanda, you want to say anything before we go to the break?
CARPENTER: Well, this is going to go to the midterms. I am worried that Mitch McConnell is going to wait until the fall to start the confirmation process. I think that's being a little too cute. I understand politically it can be a gift for Republicans running against red state Democrats. But frankly, I am little scared there might be something that comes up in the Russia investigation, that Democrats will want to put that nominee on the stand about he may not be able to answer because the investigation is continuing. So, I would just assume they get it done.
LEMON: All right. We've got more to talk about. Stick around. It's hot in here. We need to turn the air down a little bit. We will come back right after this break.
[23:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Kennedy's retirement overshadowing the chaos at the border and the fact that more 2,000 children have been taken from their parents. Back with me now, Scott Jennings, Angela Rye, Bakari Sellers, and Amanda Carpenter.
So, Angela, earlier today, Donald Trump, Jr. tweeted this. He said, OMG, just when you thought this week couldn't get more lit, I give you Anthony Kennedy's retirement from SCOTUS. He's pretty gleeful about how lit this week is for his father.
RYE: I'm just so mad right now that he used the word lit in that context. I can't even critique the tweet. I will say that, you know, it is lit. It's lit on fire. We're going to hell in a hand basket quick. So lit is appropriate, just not in the colloquial, in this sense.
I am hopeful that Donald Trump will fumble this, just like he's fumbled everything else. And hopefully, I know, Amanda, before we went to break, you were talking about Mitch McConnell waiting too late.
I do hope that he waits in part because this was supposed to be something where we were allowed an election so the American people could have a voice.
[23:40:02] That's the same thing they said during the presidential in 2016 --
JENNINGS: Are we electing a president this year?
RYE: I'm sorry, Scott.
JENNINGS: Is there a president on the ballot this year? Come on!
RYE: I'm sorry, Scott. You can turn your mike down. But what I was saying was it's a midterm election and elections have consequences to use you all talking points all day. So the reality of it is the senators who are in these seats should have a voice but so should the American people so they should have a chance to have a voice.
LEMON: That was -- Amanda, wasn't that a strategy that, you know, Mitch McConnell said -- that's what he said. CARPENTER: Absolutely.
LEMON: Look, the people who are coming into office should have a say on who the justice is. So, what's good for the goose? I'm sure it is good for the gander. But the chances of that happening are slim.
CARPENTER: Yeah, I do think there is a difference to what Scott was pointing out between a midterm election year and a presidential election year because guess what, whether it is July, August, September, next November, December, Donald Trump is still going to be picking the nominee.
And that was not the case during the last presidential election. So there was a convincing argument that we should let the people decide in a national election where everyone is going to be voting and we'll make this an election issue. Was that hardball politics? Absolutely.
Did Mitch McConnell make a pretty big bet because everyone thought Donald Trump was going to lose? Yes. Was it worth the gamble because chances were that Democratic President Hillary Clinton would just renominate Merrick Garland? Yes. There was a lot of politics involved. But at this point, the Democrats just don't have a hand to play because they don't have the votes.
LEMON: Yeah. I want to get the kids in now from the border. So, you know, as bad as the previous couple of weeks were with the outcry and the outrage about the thousands of children who are separated from their parents, does it seem like that D.C. or the administration, Scott, that they've been able to move right on from kids in cages now to this?
JENNINGS: No, they can't move on from this. They need to reunite these kids with their families. And I think what's the American people mostly expect them to do is to send these folks back to their countries of origin. I know there is a court ruling on at this week that didn't get much publicity because of all the other news.
But the administration has to get this right. We got to get these kids and their families back together. And we actually have to get on about comprehensive immigration reform. It kind of got washed away in the last 24 hours.
But our immigration laws, our farm labor laws, the way these families are separated, all of this, the forced border, it's all broken and it's been broken for years. And I think the American people are pretty darn mad about it. And it would do the Republicans well to be the party to solve this and I wish they would get on about doing it.
LEMON: Bakari, I want to put this poll up. It's from NBC News/Marist battleground state poll. And here's what it shows. More voters prefer Congress as a check on President Trump. And 40 to 49 percent of voters favor a Congress that serves as a check on Trump. In Ohio, 51 percent want more Democrats in Congress. In Arizona, 52 percent want more Democras to counter Trump's efforts.
What does that tell you, and does that make you feel any better today, because I know you are upset?
SELLERS: So, there are a few things. The first, when Donald Trump, Jr. just briefly when we're talking about kids and his lack of sensitivity and his tone-deafness, I mean, Donald Trump, Jr. is the perfect example of somebody who was born on third base and thinks they hit a triple.
And when you go to these polls, it's indicative of what the American public is feeling. And so, I want to spend a moment just to talk about what Democrats can do. Because what we did not do when it comes to the issues of immigration, when it comes to these bread and butter issue, when it comes to the Supreme Court, is we did not message to voters appropriately.
We did not make these issues, I guess, sexy enough. We did not hit the nail on the head enough to make sure voters got out of their beds and came to vote in 2016. We cannot allow that to happen again in 2018. So these races matter.
If you look at these polls, one thing that you see, is in Arizona, in Ohio, in Florida, in Virginia, Democrats are winning. So not only do we have to win there, but we also have to make sure that we win in Heidi Heitkamp. We have to make sure to Joe Manchin. We have to make sure (INAUDIBLE).
And then maybe we need to -- maybe we will have (INAUDIBLE) Democratic Party. I mean, as upset as we are today, because I don't know one Democrat today, I don't know one person today who's a Democrat who's having a good day, who feels good about the state of it country.
So while we're pissed off today, tomorrow we need to wake up and organize. We need to have that fire. We need to make sure that we're changing the direction of the country because even Republicans with good sense do not want Donald Trump ruining this country anymore than he already has.
And we need to take advantage of that. We have to do better than we have. That's Bernie Sanders camp.
CARPENTER: Can I make one quick point?
SELLERS: That's Hillary Clinton's camp. And that's everybody's camp in between.
LEMON: Go ahead quickly, Amanda.
CARPENTER: Really quick point. Republicans are going to fall in line on the judge, no question. What I'm wondering is a Trump skeptical Republican.
[23:44:57] Does this give them a little bit more latitude to be critical on other issues like family detention, because they can go to the base voters and say, listen, I'm going to the judge but then also sign-off on other things that they may have been reluctant to in the past? Cross my fingers.
LEMON: Thank you. Very good point.
SELLERS: Can I mention one thing really quick, Don?
SELLERS: The most important person in this entire debate is Jeff Flake. Let's just talk about this for a second because --
LEMON: I don't have much time. Bakari, you've got to do it quick.
SELLERS: OK. This Senate, just do the map, it's 50 to 49. If John McCain doesn't show up, it's 50 to 49, with Mike Pence being the vote. Listen, Jeff Flake, that's where we need to focus our efforts in Arizona, focusing on Jeff Flake who has nothing to lose.
If he wants to have some testicular fortitude and stand up to Trump, we can have a justice who represents the United States of America. I don't have any bets on that. I'm just saying, if, you know.
LEMON: He's conservative, he probably supports conservative justices. OK. Thank you all. That was lit. Loved it. OK, so, listen, I need to set the record straight here tonight about a graphic that we showed you earlier in the show, it was missing some of the justices that have been appointed by previous presidents.
Ronald Reagan, this is for the record, appointed three justices including Sandra Day O'Connor. George H.W. Bush appointed two justices including David Souter. Both significant figures.
And when we come back, a federal judge ordering immigration authorities to reunite families separated at the border within 30 days, but it's been six days since the president signed his executive order to reverse his separation policy and only six children had been reunited with their parents. So, how will the other 2,000 kids get back to their parents?
[23:50:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
LEMON: Well, tonight the Trump administration is under order by federal judge to stop separating families at the border and to reunite parents with their children within 30 days. So I want to talk about this now with CNN Legal Analyst, Jennifer Rodgers and CNN National Security Analyst, Juliette Kayyem, a former official in the Department of Homeland Security. So glad to have both of you on.
Juliette, CNN is reporting that only six children have been reunited with their families in the six days since President Trump signed the executive order reversing the separation policy. There are more than 2,000 kids who, you know, don't know where their parents are tonight or not with their parents tonight.
JULIETTE KAYYEM, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Right.
LEMON: I mean, this was a policy without a plan.
KAYYEM: Absolutely from the beginning and probably without a desire in some instances to unify these kids with their family. As I have been saying for the last week, this is not hard in some sort of structural sense. We know we have a limited number of kids, limited number of parents, figure out how to get them together.
Even Alex Azar, the head of HHS, said, I can put them together with the snap of my finger and that language was exactly why the judge said, then get them together if this is possible.
This is just a lack of organization, a lack of desire, a lack of focus. They can bring these families together maybe at the margins, maybe a couple of dozen, you will have problems figuring out where the kid belongs or if the parent has been deported. But they can do this --
LEMON: Let me ask -- let me jump in here just to be more specific, what about kids who are too young to speak or know where they are from? If there isn't careful tracking of who went where and who goes with what parent, I mean, is it too late?
KAYYEM: No, not at all. That doesn't mean I'm forgetting the way the Trump administration and Kirstjen Nielsen, the head of DHS, did this. But even if I say, OK, forget all of that, this has happened before, Don, right? There are earthquakes and hurricanes and tsunamis and things that separate kids from their families.
In the United States, fortunately, we have things called cameras and we have things called databases and we have things called translators -- people called translators, who are trained professionals to be able to give pictures to parents and say which one of these child is yours, this is who we have.
The parent can say to the translator, my child is under two years old and has curly back hair. You're going to have a limited number of kids that look that way. The Trump administration is making it sound like this is oh so impossible. This is a part of crisis and disaster management. We know how to do this. And the court is now telling the Trump administration, bad policy and bad execution.
LEMON: So Jennifer, this decision came last night. It was during the show, we were on. Six kids in six days. I mean, that doesn't bode well for, you know, the time line that this judge has set out to do.
I am trying to figure out what it is going to take to make these families whole again. We put up this video. This Guatemalan mother sued and got her son back. So, what's next? The government doesn't have to stand in 30 days. What's going to happen?
JENNIFER RODGERS, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It is interesting. I think the government might appeal this ruling. So I think ultimately they are unlikely to succeed because the ninth circuit is typically the more liberal circuit.
But they probably want to buy some time here because, you know, not withstanding -- what Juliette was saying, I think that they have shown, at least the judge feels that they don't have the structures in place to do this, that they don't have a plan for reunification, they don't have a plan for communication, and they don't have a plan for tracking the children.
You know, they issued this fact sheet saying we know where all children and custody are, but they didn't say we know who their parents are and we know who they are. So, you know, it is one thing to say we can find all the children, it is another thing to say we can put them back with their families.
So, you know, the government may appeal to try to buy a little bit more time but if what the judge said is right and the judge of course is a George W. Bush appointee, by the way, who issued this ruling, has 11 weeks to decide this matter.
[23:55:01] It is not as if they rushed the government there in 24 hours. They had plenty of time to say here is what we are doing, here are the facts and gave them to the judge. The judge said, no, it's not good enough.
LEMON: Yeah. I just want to put this -- the video back up, if we can play it. I have one final question for you. But can we put that back up, Danny? I just want to hear this mother.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: That's the anguish many parents are feeling.
RODGERS: Yeah, I mean, you just can't just imagine, you know, parents, non-parents, everyone. You see that happened. You just can't believe this is going on in this country.
LEMON: Yeah. Well, let's hope they get it fixed. Thank you, Jennifer. Thank you, Juliette. I appreciate it. That's it for us tonight. Thanks for watching. I'll see you right back here tomorrow.
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