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Judge Orders Families Reunited; Plant Workers Urge for Trade War Relief; Bolton Meets with Putin; Upgrades to Nuclear Facility. Aired 9:30-10a ET

Aired June 27, 2018 - 09:30   ET



[09:32:32] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Welcome back.

This morning the Trump administration put on notice. A federal judge in California ordering the government to end most family separations at the border and reunite those already separated within 30 days. Some even sooner, according to a very strict timeline handed down by this judge.

Now, this comes after President Trump issued an executive order last week to keep undocumented families together, reversing a policy that his administration had instituted in the first place. We've learned, also, that the Department of Health and Human Services is currently caring for 2,047 of these children separated from their parents. That number is significant because that is only six fewer children than HHS had in their custody a week ago when that executive order was signed.

Laura Jarrett is at the Justice Department with more.

This is hugely significant. Tell us what it means.


Well, the Trump administration now has a pretty strict timeline to come up with a game plan for family reunification. And Judge Sabraw out in California outlines a series of specific steps the administration now needs to take and I want to walk you through just a few of the big headlines there.

He says that they need to keep families together in detention so that you can still prosecute parents who cross illegally, but you have to keep the families together. And he also says, for children younger than five, they need to come up with a plan to be reunified within 14 days. But with children over five, they need to be reunified within 30 days. And all children need to be able to talk to their parents within ten days.

Now, I have to tell you, Poppy, the language in this decision is blunt. He is not holding back at all, this judge. While he was appointed by George W. Bush, he has some really tough talk for the Trump administration, talking about the chaos from all of these families that were separated. And he writes in part this, Poppy, the facts set forth before the court portray reactive governance. Responses to address a chaotic circumstance of the government's own making. They belied, measured and ordered governance, which is central to the concept of due process enshrined in our Constitution.

Now, the big question, of course, right now is, how does this jive with the Flores decision, that decades' old settlement agreement that said that you can't detain children longer than 20 days. Obviously the government wants to detain parents longer than 20 days and they're trying to modify that agreement right now. We still have no decision on that.

And so we wait to see whether the Justice Department will actually appeal this decision as well to the Ninth Circuit.


[09:35:10] HARLOW: Right. So they could -- they have that power. They could appeal it to the Ninth Circuit.

But when you look at the language that was so striking to me, Laura, in this judge's decision, calling it chaotic, the separations, talking about irreparable harm done to these children separated from their parents, saying this has reached, quote, crisis level, do you -- I mean you're our Justice Department reporter. How likely is it that this is appealed to the Ninth Circuit given that language?

JARRETT: Well, they're in a tough spot here, right? Obviously the Trump administration has said now the policy is to keep families together despite what we've seen for the past couple weeks. That is the purpose of the executive order we saw last week. They clearly have no plan in place to roll that out in any sort of expedient fashion. If they appeal this, they're going to have to say they want to be able to do it on their own timeline, which, again, is really just chaotic for all the families that are separated, Poppy.

HARLOW: All right. Thank you very much, Laura Jarrett, for that important reporting. Appreciate it.

Coming up for us, employees of a Texas company sent 4,500 postcards to the White House, to President Trump, urging him, exempt our company from your tariffs. The CEO will join me live.


[09:40:26] HARLOW: All right, moments ago, FBI Agent Peter Strzok arriving on Capitol Hill for this closed door hearing in front of the House Judiciary Committee about those anti-Trump text messages that were a significant part of the inspector general's report on whether there was bias in the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation. We'll report that out as soon as we get more. Of course, it's a closed door hearing.

Meantime, a factory in Texas that makes steel pipes for the oil and gas industry says the new Trump tariffs are killing its plans to expands and hire more workers. And to drive that message home, workers and their children are flooding the White House with postcards asking for a waiver from the measure that was meant to give them a leg up.

Like many U.S. factories, this company, Borusan Mannesmann, imports raw materials and estimates the tariffs on imported steel will cost it $25 million a year minimum.

I'm joined by the company's CEO, Joel Johnson.

Thank you for being with me this morning.


HARLOW: Your company imports raw material from Turkey. These tariffs are going to hurt a lot. $25 million a year is what you predict they will cost the company. What would that mean in terms of job loss?

JOHNSON: Well, we also buy the bulk of our steel from the domestic producers, such as Nucor, SDI, Big River, ArcelorMittal. What we do import is semi-finished pipe from our Turkish parent. And we finish those in Baytown, Texas, for the oil and gas industry.

HARLOW: So would you have to lay off workers if these -- if you don't get a waiver? Because you're asking the Trump administration for a waiver to exempt you guys from this tariff. If you don't get that, are you going to have to lay people off?

JOHNSON: Well, it would definitely impact our production balances. It just makes it difficult for us to understand what might happen. You know, a couple of years ago, when the oil and gas industry was in crisis, we were down to 100 people and we were still making pipe in Baytown.

Now, as the oil and gas has recovered and our products are in demand, we're touching 300. We don't want to go back to the 100 head count level. It's just -- it's -- it's -- it would really impact the Baytown community, which already has a 10 percent unemployment rate.

So what we want to do is, we want to -- we want to grow.


JOHNSON: And what we've offered President Trump is a deal where we, for a short-term exemption, for two years, we'll use that time to build a factory in Baytown and employee another 170 people and then stop imports. So we're kind of -- we're flipping it to say, just give us a short-term exemption.

HARLOW: So -- well, so your message to President Trump, who insists that these tariffs are good for America and good for American jobs, seems to me to be, no, they're not good for Americans here in Baytown, Texas, and we need relief.

JOHNSON: Well, we're not asking for a forever relief, we're just asking for a short-term bridge.

HARLOW: Right.

JOHNSON: And give us enough time to build another factory.

HARLOW: So you --

JOHNSON: So I see this as -- I agree that his -- that, you know, he's trying to increase the local context and increase jobs and investment, and that's basically what we're offering. We're saying, just give us a little bit of time and we'll push the button and build in Baytown.

HARLOW: You have some postcards with you.


HARLOW: And this is notable because a creative strategy you guys have to reach the White House and to get the ear of the president, your workers have written 4,500 postcards to the White House, imploring the president to do this. Their kids have written some. Read us a little bit of what they've written.

JOHNSON: That's right. Our employees are our biggest asset. Everybody got involved. We stopped the factory. One of the kids, the winner of the kids' contest, they drew a picture of the current Borusan with a pipe factory and then a new Borusan with many more. And it says, dear Mr. President, the company that my dad works for needs your help. They want to build a big company. By making it big, they can bring people that -- which more people and more positions and makes a big new company. Thank you.

You know, it's things like this that, you know, these are real decision that impact families. They're being talked around at the dinner table. We just need to get ten minutes of time with President Trump or Secretary Ross and explain our deal. It's a win-win. It's a win-win for America. We're part of the energy -- the national security process of becoming energy independent. All we need is a bit of time and we'll build another factory.

[09:45:07] HARLOW: If you're comfortable telling me, did you vote for President Trump? And would you say a majority of the workers at the factory were supportive of the president in this election?

JOHNSON: I'll answer it this way. Two years ago, when I -- three years ago when I started with Borusan Mannesmann, we went down to 100 employees. Now we're at 300. In the midterms, I'm going to be Republican backing. We got great support from Congressman Babin on this specific issue. And, you know, I think with Trump's emphasis on the economy, if it was today, I would vote for him.

HARLOW: But if this doesn't change, if your company doesn't get a waiver, will you have to move the company? Is there a chance that you will not be able to continue production in Baytown, Texas?

JOHNSON: Our parent is committed to the U.S. market. We'll still be here. We'll have to fight our way. Unfortunately, you know, we won't be able to grow then.

HARLOW: Understood.

JOHNSON: And, you know, Baytown has got 10 percent unemployment and we want to grow.

HARLOW: Right.

JOHNSON: Our -- you know, our goal is to grow. So that would be a real shame if we didn't get it. But I think we're -- our deal is unique enough that the president could -- could put his attention on our little company and allow us to grow.

HARLOW: Well, we'll see if he's watching now.

Joel Johnson, thanks for your time this morning.

JOHNSON: Thank you very much.

HARLOW: All right, right now, one of the president's top aides is in Russia, in Moscow, meeting with Vladimir Putin. So what does that mean ahead of this high profile summit between Putin and the president?


[09:51:11] HARLOW: National Security Adviser John Bolton is in Moscow this morning meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin to discuss a potential summit next month between President Trump and Putin. President Putin telling Bolton that the U.S.-Russia relations right now not in the best shape.

Our senior diplomatic correspondent Michelle Kosinski joins me now from the State Department with more details.

And it's notable, right, Michelle, that Bolton has used much tougher rhetoric about Putin, about Russia, than the president has.

MICHELLE KOSINSKI, CNN SENIOR DIPLOMATIC CORRESPONDENT: He has in the past. We'll see if that continues. I mean he's spoken out about the need to prevent cyberattacks, prevent Russian meddling, stop them from their aggressive behavior, but here he is sitting down with Putin to apparently try to make this relationship better.

One of the things he's going to be talking about is this Trump-Putin summit that we now know is being actively planned. And we are hearing it may actually happen sooner than later. Maybe before the NATO summit. Dates that are being looked at are July 10th and possibly in Helsinki, not Vienna, which has been talked about prior.

So that would mean that if this works out, Trump and Putin would meet before the president goes on to speak to NATO allies. So, needless to say, that is raising eyebrows among some of the U.S.' allies, especially since it was just days ago really, at the end of the G-7 summit, that President Trump stood up and said he thought that Russia should be welcomed back into what was the G-8 before Russia got kicked out after it took over part of Ukraine.

So the president is willing to try to build on this relationship. And from what one source tells us, there aren't a lot of people within the White House or State that really see this summit between Trump and Putin as necessary. But it's the president who's been pushing for it. Poppy.

HARLOW: Michelle Kosinski at the State Department. We'll see what comes out of that. Thank you very, very much.

Also this morning, newly released satellite images show North Korea may be rapidly making improvements to one of their nuclear facilities. These are new images that come just weeks, of course, after President Trump sat down with Kim Jong-un for that historic meeting in Singapore and an agreement the president says to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

Let's go to the Pentagon. Our Barbara Starr is there.

And, Barbara, the obvious question becomes, what's the significance of this, right? If Kim agreed to what the president says he agreed to, why would upgrades like this be happening?

BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: Yes, you know, agreed, but maybe not just yet. These are commercial satellite images actually, Poppy, that the world is seeing on a website called 38 North that monitors North Korean activity. And what these images are showing is at this very critical site in North Korea called Yongbyon, that the North Koreans have made a number of improvements to a plutonium production reactor there, construction of facilities, even a potential chemical storage plant.

The analysis from this website is, it does not tell us yet that this site is fully operating in a full, nuclear mode at this point. It stopped short of that. But what it tells us is, at least at this one site, the North Koreans certainly have received no orders from Kim Jong-un to ratchet back, to stop, to even begin destruction of this facility. So what this underscores now is days, weeks after the Singapore summit. This is a very complex issue still to be negotiated, still to be worked out. The North Koreans making no significant moves at this point to denuclearize.


HARLOW: And, also, Barbara, just on this. Would this be considered a setback? I mean obviously a setback, if it were true, right? I mean is there any way to explain this away?

STARR: Well, one of the theories is that, you know, that the workers at this site simply have not received orders from the central government, and that is Kim Jong-un, to begin denuclearization.

[09:55:09] What we know is that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said he doesn't want to put a deadline on the North Koreans. He wants to continue talking to them about all of this. But Defense Secretary Mattis has said, this is going to take very detailed negotiations to make this all work with Kim Jong-un.


HARLOW: Barbara Starr at the Pentagon, thank you. Moments ago, two senior FBI agents who sent those anti-Trump text

messages during the campaign arrived on Capitol Hill. You see Peter Strzok there. They are facing lawmakers behind doors. We'll take you to Capitol Hill live. Stay with me.