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Ferocious Fight Expected As Trump Mulls Court Pick; Trump Administration Faces Deadline To Reunite Families; Trump To Meet With Putin After NATO Summit; Tensions Between Trump And European Allies; Voters In Mexico Head To The Polls To Pick A New President; Nine Stabbed At Apartment Complex Which Houses Refugees; American Jail Premieres. 3-4p ET
Aired July 1, 2018 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:00:00] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: One of them I voted against years ago. And I would have to do a great deal more work on many of them.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Let's check in with CNN White House Correspondent Boris Sanchez live for us in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey. So where is the President right now, and how high on the list is this whole Supreme Court nominee?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred. Yes, President Trump is getting set to depart New Jersey. So far, the White House has only confirmed that the President has had conversations with close allies and advisers this week, and including White House Counsel Don McGahn, over this nomination process. Notably, the President told reporters on Friday that he would try to interview one or two potential nominees this weekend.
We've asked the White House about it but have yet to get a response. We have to point out that one of the key issues that is going to be brought up again and again in this confirmation process is abortion, partly because key Republicans, like Senator Susan Collins of Maine, may determine their vote during confirmation on whether the nominee supports Roe versus Wade.
She told Jake Tapper that in a meeting with President Trump last week, she asked the President to focus on a nominee that respected legal precedent. She says it's a part of the reason that she supported the confirmation of Justice Neil Gorsuch. She is not alone. Other lawmakers are sort of echoing that idea. Here's Senator Lindsey Graham on "MEET THE PRESS" this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SEN. LINDSEY GRAHAM (R), SOUTH CAROLINA: Well, I'm pro-life. And the job of a judge is to call -- decide cases before the court. But one of the concepts that really means a lot in America is stare decisis. That means you don't overturn precedent unless there's a good reason. And I would tell my pro-life friends, you can be pro-life and conservative, but you can also believe in stare decisis. Roe v. Wade in many different ways has been affirmed over the years. What I would hope the justice that sits on the court, all of them, would listen to the arguments on both sides before they decide.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now, on Friday, President Trump also told reporters that he would not be asking these nominees, potential nominees, about their stance on Roe versus Wade, though he did say multiple times that they are very conservative potential nominees, Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Boris Sanchez, thanks so much.
Immoral, evil, words used this weekend to describe the US practice of separating migrant children from their parents at the boarder. Even after President Trump signed an executive order ending separations, the fate of thousands of migrant families remains in limbo.
Today, more than 2,000 children have not been reunited, and the clock is running out. Last week, a judge ordered the government to reunite families within 30 days. CNN Correspondent Dianne Gallagher is in McAllen, Texas. So, Diane, is there any indication these families will be reunited soon?
DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, to be honest, Fred, we haven't heard anything from the government since Tuesday in regards to specific numbers. That's the same day the judge made that 30-day order. And we should point out that if the children are 5 and under, the judge ordered they be reunited in 14 days. So we're nearly halfway through that deadline for the small children, and we've gotten exactly nothing from the US government as far as updated numbers.
As of Tuesday, there were still 2,047 children who were separated from their families at the border under the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy. Again, we don't know anything about the reunions that have happened since then, what those numbers are, whether or not they were still taking in children who had been separated at that point.
It's a lot of unknowns, in part because the children have been spread out across the entire country, Fred. They are in New York. They were in South Carolina. They were in Michigan. They were in other parts of Texas.
17 states, these children are being housed in. It's not just an official HHS facility. They have contractors handling the care of some of these children. So it's been difficult not just for us to get information but also for some of the attorneys that are trying to help the parents. Some of the organizations, we spoke with churches who have been sort of the life blood of the migrant community in some of these areas like McAllen, Texas, where I am, and trying to assist them. The archbishop even this morning of San Antonio, which covers this area, McAllen, had some really harsh words in regards to this policy.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GUSTAVO GARCIA-SILLER, ARCHBISHOP, SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS: It is immoral. It's evil. And it's a sin to treat families that way. And that is my "who is doing it", who is doing it and it is from the top down. It is the person right there and then to cooperate with evil.]
[15:05:03] They are lost. And lost, a county of lost is for a good thing. But not every law that we have is good. There are also bad laws.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
GALLAGHER: Now, look, we have been told by HHS, I have been told personally by officials over and over again, they know where every single is. They are able to track those children. And they are going to be able to get them in touch with their parents.
Bur, Fred, I've also talked to parents who were separated from their children who say that is the exact opposite of what they have been receiving as far as information goes. They say they're given a piece of paper with a phone number on it. Sometimes they get through, sometimes they don't. And they're having a really difficult time tracking their kids down. And even if they do, they don't know when they're actually going to be reunited with them, how long that process is going to take.
So, we're hearing kind of two different stories, from those who are experiencing it and those who are in control of the process. And it's hard to put them together when we're not getting those updated numbers.
WHITFIELD: And, of course some of the kids are nonverbal. So they can't quite express or identify who their parents are, all right. Dianne Gallagher, thank you so much, all right.
Joining me right now, CNN political commentators Maria Cardona and Jack Kingston, good to see you both. So Maria, you were at the demonstration yesterday here in the nation's capital. Passionate, yes, but will what we saw unfold nationwide in any way change policy, influence the president, or even Congress to expedite these reunification?
MARIA CARDONA, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Sure. Well, that's certainly what we're hoping. And what was so wonderful about being at the march yesterday, Fredericka, and there was not a dry eye in the area because everyone was talking so passionately about the immorality and the indecency of what's going on at the border. And there were a lot of women there who knew the women who had been separated from their kids.
I had just come from the border, Fredericka. I was there two days ago in McAllen, exactly where Dianne is. And I talked to the women whose kids had been yanked from them. And they were one of the lucky ones because they had been reunited with their children.
WHITFIELD: What did they tell you about how difficult it is to get information or, you know, if they can identify with the parents who have already been deported and trying to retreat, you know, what's the communication like?
CARDONA: They were scared to death, Fredericka, scared to death. Because, yes, these were some of the lucky ones like I said, because they had been reunited with their children. But they had heard the nightmare stories and they had been with other mothers whose kids they still haven't been able to find. And what Dianne described is a process that is -- the incompetence is just unreal. The discombobulation is out of this world.
And you sure, HHS might be saying "we know where these kids are" but they don't. Because if they did then, you know, they would be reuniting them now or they don't care because they are not doing it. so what is the process here? And that, I think, is what is so concerning. And yesterday, the voices of thousands upon thousands of Americans raising up their voices to say this is something we are not going to accept I think was a great thing.
WHITFIELD: So then, Jack, why aren't we hearing that from the White House in terms of a commitment to expedite the reunification? The President did sign the executive order and said "no more separations of families," but why would there not be a follow-up, because the President has the power to do that, right, and department of justice to expedite?
JACK KINGSTON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: He does. He does. And I think HHS is moving along on this. I know that there are those who do want to kind of make a bigger issue of this than it is. It is moving along and it will be done.
And I can tell you that having spent a lot of time on the hill last week, talking to members of both parties, they want these families reunited. It's also interesting in the wake of a Harvard/Harris poll that was just conducted that something like 60 percent of Americans say these families not only need to be reunited, but they need to be sent home. So the cry for strong border patrol and addressing chaos, it's there.
WHITFIELD: But we haven't necessarily heard from the president to say anything about that. I mean, that it is painful to watch. Any response to those who say it is immoral that these families cannot be reunified faster? He did say a while back, you know, it was hurtful to see. But now it's a matter of action. It's been days now.
KINGSTON: I think we're unscrambling this policy. And we didn't get here overnight. We didn't here because of President Trump or President Obama alone.
CARDONA: Actually, yes, we did.
KINGSTON: It's the legislative branch that creates the laws.
CARDONA: No, no. that is wrong. That is wrong.
(CROSSTALK) CARDONA: The (inaudible) the zero tolerance policy.
CARDONA: Yes, and that's what we're talking about.
KINGSTON: And let me say --
CARDONA: That wasn't there before.
KINGSTON: But we are going to get families reunited. I don't think there's any --
CARDONA: But it's a when --
KINGSTON: Well, I think it's going to happen. I think it has happened. You know, I would be kind of interested in saying, you know, were any of these people that you've spoken to in the last couple days, not a sarcastic question, but did any of them say, I wish I would have done this legally to the port of entry, going to the American Embassy --
[15:10:12] CARDONA: These were -- these are families who came through the port of entry who are asking for asylum.
KINGSTON: All of them? All of them?
CARDONA: Yes, all of them.
KINGSTON: OK. If you went through a legal port of entry, you are not to be separated from your family.
CARDONA: Well, there you go. That's the problem with the zero tolerance policy, Jack. It's because this President, when he decided let me separate these children from their mothers, I think it'll be a great deterrent. He's just wrong and incompetent.
KINGSTON: Well, OK. Let me say this.
CARDONA: And heartless.
KINGSTON: Maria, you know I love you, but let me say this. When, not you, but others who have been calling the President, not seasonal, and want to abolish ICE for crying out loud and I hope you're not in that category.
CARDONA: No, I don't think that's where the problem is. The problem is the President of the United States. That's what we need to abolish. That's what we need to change.
KINGSTON: Well, you'll have your shot in another two years. But I do think on the border, we can agree that you do to have the legal port of entry and people do need to follow the law. And I think families should stay united. And then, I think they should return.
CARDONA: That's exactly right. But the President doesn't agree with you because he and Jeff Sessions are the ones who said, we're going to separate children from their parents to make it a deterrent. They don't even --- it's not just that they don't want people to come over here illegally or without documents. They don't want people coming over here asking for asylum. And Jeff Sessions --
WHITFIELD: And those who are asking for or want political asylum are being treated as though they don't have a case.
KINGSTON: But remember --
WHITFIELD: Even Jeff Sessions, attorney general, had already said to that, that immigration lawyers were encouraging people to make fake claims. And so, I mean, he's sending a message that even those who are seeking political asylum should not be believed. Everyone is being lumped up together.
KINGSTON: The idea behind asylum laws are is that, your race or your religion or your particular demographic is being targeted by the state, because you can't find a job, because there's violence and high crime in your area. That doesn't make you legitimate, legal for, eligible for asylum.
CARDONA: Except, for --
WHITFIELD: Life being threatened is a component.
CARDONA: Becomes such that this is a group of people that is being systemically targeted by gangs, by criminals, and they are being threatened with death, Jack.
KINGSTON: Well, let me say this, I don't think that they --
CARDONA: I think as a dad, you would do whatever you can to keep your kids safe.
KINGSTON: But I would come through here illegally.
CARDONA: What if you can't? What if you can't? What if they're telling you, don't come here because we don't want to give you asylum?
KINGSTON: I would find a way to do it. But let me say where there is common ground that I think --
CARDONA: Until you walk in their shoes, Jack, don't say things you don't understand.
KINGSTON: You can do a marshal type plan in Guatemala, in Central America that I think helps restore order.
CARDONA: Well, you know, that would be great, Jack. But this President doesn't care. He doesn't understand.
KINGSTON: He does care, Maria.
CARDONA: He's completely incompetent. He's unfit to serve.
KINGSTON: I know you don't like him.
CARDONA: And that's why we are who we are.
KINGSTON: Maria, when you say things like that, it's not helpful.
CARDONA: It's truth because that's where we are.
KINGSTON: No, it's an opinion. It's true that you did it that way.
CARDONA: When you implement a policy that makes no sense, that is based on no law, that is based on un-Americanness --
KINGSTON: Are you talking about Obama now?
CARDONA: No, I'm talking about zero tolerance policy, which was this president's choice.
WHITFIELD: All right. So Maria and Jack, and so right now the juncture is, there were people who came together yesterday --
WHITFIELD: -- and they're trying to make an impression, trying to say that it's about reunifying the families right now. That's the immediate need until the White House or even Congress or somebody gets it together to make sure that happens.
CARDONA: And from a political standpoint --
WHITFIELD: That can't be undermined and overlooked.
CARDONA: That's right. That's right.
KINGSTON: I think it's going to happen. I don't think there's really a debate there. I think we can say they didn't make the 14 days.
CARDONA: I hope so.
WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there for now.
CARDONA: The next thing is the people who were marching were saying we are going to remember in November.
KINGSTON: Because they want open borders.
CARDONA: No, they don't. You might. I don't know who does.
WHITFIELD: Maria, we'll leave it there for now. Thank you so much.
CARDONA: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Coming up, President Trump closing in on a key summit with NATO allies and a sit-down with Russia's Vladimir Putin, the strikingly different tone he's taking on with those two high- profile meetings. Plus, voters are at the polls today in Mexico in an election that could reshape the country. So what's at stake and how could it impact the United States?
[15:14:40] Straight ahead.
WHITFIELD: All right. President Trump is set to meet Vladimir Putin in just about two weeks. And that one-on-one conversation may be stoking fears among US allies that the president may be too willing to give concessions to the Russian leader. We've learned Trump has said he thinks he can make a deal on Syria with the Russians, and last week when speaking to reporters, he seemed to leave the door open to recognizing Crimea as part of Russia, something his National Security Adviser John Bolton took issue with this morning.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOHN BOLTON, NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER: I don't know that that's what he said. I think the President often says we'll see to show that he's willing to talk to foreign leaders about a range of issues and hear their perspective. President Putin was pretty clear with me about it, and my response was we're going to have to agree to disagree.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: I want to talk it over with General Wesley Clark. He is a former NATO Allied Supreme Commander and is now at the Center for International Relations at UCLA. Good to see you, General. All right, so is Vladimir Putin, is he going into this meeting likely with an upper hand?
GEN. WESLEY CLARK, FORMER NATO SUPREME ALLIED COMMANDER: Well, I would think he is.
[15:20:01] I mean, Vladimir Putin had something to do with the North Korea summit. We know from the information that's been released by the intelligence community that he certainly in some way was pulling for President Trump to be elected. And for some reason, the President almost seems to be afraid of Putin.
He certainly treats him with much more respect than he treated any of the elected leaders of our traditional allies. So you'd have to believe that there's -- it's an ominous way to begin a summit with a nation that's been a potential adversary of the United States.
WHITFIELD: Does it concern you that there seems to be a lot of fanfare when it comes down to the planning of the meeting with the Putin or the planning and the execution of a meeting with Kim Jong-un. But you're not seeing that kind of fanfare with meeting with US allies?
CLARK: Well, actually, I'm happy that John Bolton went over there. John Bolton is a very smart guy, very experienced. And hopefully they've talked about the issues. It sounds like from the comment this morning, Crimea came up, I think John Bolton gave the right answer on that. We'll see if the President stands firm on it. You need strong planning before you begin one of these meetings. But in this case, the substance really, Fredericka, is less important than the context. The context of this is a year and a half into the trump presidency. He's been a major disruptive factor with our allies on issues like trade, on NATO, on personal relationships. And yet, he's working to develop relationships with potential adversaries.
Now, it's not that we shouldn't be talking to these adversaries, but US foreign policy for 70 years or more has been premised on trying to work with people that share our values. We know Vladimir Putin and Russia doesn't -- they don't share our values.
He's an autocrat. Reporters disappear. They're murdered, and the opposition doesn't make it. It's not really a democracy except in form in Russia. There's no independent media. It's a kleptocracy. It's principal exports are armaments and oil.
This is not a country with interests and values as close to the United States as, let's say, Germany, France, United Kingdom, even Mexico. So what's the rush, what's the push, what is the crush on Putin? That's the question and that's the context and that's what has America's allies so concerned.
WHITFIELD: How important is it that the president, while reaching out to adversaries, perhaps simultaneously tried to allay fears of US allies? How can he do that? And should he be doing that?
CLARK: Well, you would think he would, absolutely you should. You would think you would have a stronger bargaining position in working arrangements with potential adversaries, those that don't share our values if you had stronger relationships with our allies, those that do share our values. And that's been the premise of US foreign policy since the 1940s and '50s.
And yet, here we have a president who's trying to go in all directions at once. He's saying there are allies who are trying to cheat us. He's calling them names and so forth. And then, at the same time, he's trying to put pressure on China for trade. And we don't really understand all that's behind the meeting with Putin.
So these are factors that are unconventional. They're disruptive. At best, it'll be a cosmetic meeting. At worst, we don't want to think about the potential downsides of this in terms of its impact on allied unity, and trade, and the future of NATO.
WHITFIELD: How worried are you about the future relationship with NATO?
CLARK: I'm concerned because we've just had the resignation of a US ambassador from Estonia. The Russians are pressing on our East European allies every single day with hybrid warfare. It's information warfare. It's propaganda. It's internet attacks. It's active agents. It's what they call (inaudible) in these countries, plus a build-up of forces on the borders of the Baltic states.
NATO's trying to put together the procedures and forces to be able to respond. And then at the top here, we have the president seeming to disrespect our NATO allies but put a lot of faith in adversaries, people who don't share our values. So I think our allies are concerned. And they should be.
WHITFIELD: We'll leave it there. General Wesley Clark, thanks so much for your time.
All right. Coming up, voters in Mexico are at the polls this hour for the biggest election in that country's history. A Trump-like candidate is vying to become president.
[15:24:51] How his victory could reshape the country?
WHITFIELD: Voters in Mexico are heading to the polls today in a historic election that could reshape the country. The front runner for president is Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. He's a populist who vows to stand up to President Trump. He also promises to crackdown on the violence and corruption that has plagued this country.
This election season has been one of the most violent in Mexico's history with more than 130 politicians killed across the country. Joining me right now to discuss this is Roberta Jacobson. She's a former US Ambassador to Mexico who left that position less than two months ago.
[15:30:01] Good to see you, Ms. Ambassador. So, your departure had more to do with the US State Department or with Mexico?
ROBERTA JACOBSON, FORMER US AMBASSADOR TO MEXICO: I think it had more to do with the administration and policy, and what was happening at the State Department than it did with things going in the Mexico proper.
WHITFIELD: You know Mexico well. You see the landscape of politics and why is it Lopez Obrador seems to be the front runner? What is it about him and the sign of the times of Mexico right now?
JACOBSON: Yes. I think this time, this is his third try at the presidency, and this time voters are pretty fed up with the traditional parties. They've tried two parties. They were not happy with either of them. And they're fed up with corruption, with the security situation. You mentioned the violence. This year is on track to have 30,000 people killed from drug violence.
WHITFIEL: And what is the breaking? What is it about the breaking point? Because corruption, security, those have been observations, complaints, you know, some characteristics of politics and living in Mexico for a very long time. But what is it about this particular juncture?
JACOBSON: Yes. I think that this time, first of all, the government in power right now came in promising to be a different kind of Mexican leadership to clean up the corruption, to get the revised NAFTA when President Trump was elected. And yet, they've done none of those things. And I think also it's a factor that corruption is more exposed for the first time.
WHITFIELD: So, when it comes to Lopez Obrador, then what is it about him that people might believe that he is the one who could stand up to President Trump? He had said Mexico is not paying for the wall.
JACOBSON: That's a fairly universally held position in Mexico.
WHITFIELD: Right. And then he answers the same.
JACOBSON: I think, you know, I think part of it is he's very successfully has painted himself as an outsider in that respect. He's a career politician who was mayor of Mexico City from 2000 to 2005, but he is outside, in a sense, that the elites or those in power of traditional political parties.
And so, by painting himself as an outsider, many -- there are many voters going to the polls today who are voting against people, not in favor of Lopez Obrador. But many who say, "Let's give him a try." The others haven't solved this.
WHITFIELD: So as mayor in Mexico City, what allowed him to escape, I guess, the labeling of being a corrupt politician?
JACOBSON: Yes. It's a good question, because I think as mayor of Mexico City, he was very accessible to the press. He held press conferences nearly every day. He lives simply, does not appear to have excess wealth or money that he's making off graft or corruption. No one's ever been able to pin anything on him in terms of corruption personally.
And so, he connected with, you know, 44 percent of Mexicans live in poverty. There are still so many people who have not benefitted from NAFTA or other increases in the economic situation.
WHITFIELD: But all those things are the antithesis of President Trump. But then somehow he's being labeled as very Trump-like.
JACOBSON: Right. And I think there are distinct differences and similarities. The similarities are things like he is a populist. He does tell people what they want to hear, depending on his audience. He and his advisers have been all over the map on economics, some trying to reassure the markets.
When he the mentioned expropriation at one point which had people very upset. He reversed course. He has talked about and already potentially appointed a NAFTA negotiator for his win, should he win today? And so in that sense, he's nationalist and he is populist. But he's the same as President Trump in those ways but different in his focus on the poor, on giving more social services to the population, and in utilizing the state more than it has been.
WHITFIELD: All right. Today's an interesting day. Roberta Jacobson, it's good to see you.
JACOBSON: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much.
And now we have an update on this breaking news out of Boise, Idaho, nine people stabbed, six of them children. Police are holding a news conference or rather they held one moments ago.
The stabbing took place at an apartment complex which houses refugees. And police arrested a man who's 30 years old, this man right here, Timmy Kinner.
Polo Sandoval, now with the latest on this investigation. Very unsettling. Tell us more.
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, the Boise Police Chief offering new details. He was clearly distraught as he offered new information saying that this attack was not a hate crime. However, it is an unconscionable attack on some of the most vulnerable that is children.
The 30-year-old man, that police say, is responsible for this stabbing yesterday. It's a man named -- a man by the name of Timmy Kinner, a 30-year-old from Los Angeles, who was reportedly offered some housing at this apartment complex by an individual, helping -- hoping to help him.
[15:35:06] However, he was later asked to leave on Friday. Kinner did so peacefully but then returned yesterday, according to the police chief.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WILLIAM BONES, BOISE POLICE CHIEF: Due to his behavior, he'd been asked to leave and he had done so. He returned last night to exact vengeance not just on those that he had been with, as they were not at the apartment, but at any target which was available.
The tragedy was that a 3-year-old little girl was having a birthday party just a few doors down from where Kinner had been staying. And he attacked, targeting the children initially. The 3-year-old girl whose birthday it was, was one of those seriously injured, including two 4-year-olds, a 6-year-old, an 8-year-old, and a 12-year-old.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANDOVAL: Again, that 3-year-old little girl whose party was being celebrated when this individual allegedly returned to that apartment complex currently among the nine people who have been hospitalized.
Chief Bones saying that it is purely out of grace and the incredible talents of these first responders who arrived that there were no fatalities. However, many of these people have been scarred for life, according to the police chief. The mother of one of these children who is currently being treated right now is working with the local refugee office to try to join her child at the -- at a hospital in Salt Lake City, which is one of the facilities that is treating these children. Important to point out that this apartment complex is home to many refugees from Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan. These are people who have left their native countries, fleeing the violence there, hoping to be here in the relative safety of the United States. Now, this happens here. This 30-year-old man now charged with this crime, Fred.
WHITFIELD: Terrible. All right. Polo Sandoval, thank you so much.
All right. Coming up, the battle over who will replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the US Supreme Court has ignited a fire storm here in Washington. The President has said he wants young justices. So how exactly does age play into this? That's next.
[15:41:56] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. A nomination battle on Capitol Hill is looming as the US Supreme Court's future now hangs in the balance. President Trump is interviewing Supreme Court candidates this weekend to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy. The President says he'll announce his Supreme Court pick one week from tomorrow.
Let's check in now with CNN's Tom Foreman to put this all into perspective and explain why age is more than just a number when it comes to Supreme Court justices.
TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: When you look closely at the ages of the sitting justices, you begin to understand why this change is so momentous.
So let's start by rearranging everyone in order of their age. And you can see that down here we have Ruth Bader Ginsburg at the top at 85. Justice Kennedy almost 82. Then comes Breyer, and Thomas, and Alito, Sotomayor, the Chief Justice John Roberts is here, then Kagan and last but not least, the newest arrival, Neil Gorsuch.
Now, let's put those appointed by Democratic presidents on this side and those appointed by Republicans on the other side. And consider this, the average age on the Democratic side is 71.5. The average age on the Republican side is nearly 66.5.
And look what happens when Kennedy leaves, suddenly the two oldest justices are both on the Democratic front. And according to an analysis by the Pugh research group, they have already been on the court longer than expected based on their age when they were appointed. So as Clarence Thomas, but he is the only one on the conservative side, and he's still about nine years younger than Breyer.
Furthermore, look at Neil Gorsuch, the first justice chosen by President Trump. He's just 50. The Pugh Research Center found that when a justice is appointed around that age, he or she will tend to serve close to 19 years.
So you see what is shaping up here. If Kennedy is replaced with a much younger justice, the Republican nominees will certainly dominate this court for at least several years. And if either of the two most senior Democratic appointees retires or leaves for any reason, the math says Republican dominance could extend for a decade or more.
And remember, President Trump has been loading the lower courts with conservatives. He's doing it at a very rapid pace. And many of these are younger judges who could be around for a long time, meaning if Democrats are counting on the courts to support their agenda, they could be heading into a rough spell.
WHITFIELD: Fascinating. Tom Foreman, thank you so much.
All right. Joining me right now to discuss, someone who has worked very closely with Justice Kennedy, Justin Walker, the former Law Clerk to Justice Kennedy. Good to see you.
JUSTIN WALKER, FORMER LAW CLERK, JUSTICE ANTHONY KENNEDY: Good to be here. Thanks.
WHITFIELD: So, let's look back before we look forward. You know, your experience with Justice Kennedy, what can you tell us about what your experience was like with him and what you believe his lasting legacy should be?
[15:45:00] WALKER: You know, I've never worked for a more kind man than Justice Kennedy, and I just have nothing but respect and gratitude to him.
When I think of Justice Kennedy, the first thing I think about is his civility. The way he treated his colleagues on the bench, the way that he treated his clerks, the way that he was a loving father, a loving grandfather, a loving husband. So I just have nothing but positive things to say about my experience with Justice Kennedy.
WHITFIELD: Well, civility, that's a really important word these days. So, then what you know of Justice Kennedy, what do you suppose she was contemplating before, you know, offering his retirement, his resignation, saying I'm done at 81?
WALKER: Well, you know, I think -- I hope that he's proud of, you know, the civility that he brought to the bench and the thoughtfulness that he went about reaching the decisions that he did. I think he certainly has earned a retirement, if he was ready for it.
And so, you know, I know he's not one of these justices whose only life is his work. I think he loved his job. I think his calling was to be a judge and to be, as he would say, a member of the bar. He took great pride in being a member of the bar.
But he also had a life beyond that of watching his grandkids' tee-ball games and playing chess with his grandchildren and, you know, visiting his children for holidays and Christmas. So, I think he's going to, you know, I think he enjoyed being a judge and I think he is going to enjoy the next chapter of his life.
WHITFIELD: So what would you like to see in his successor? WALKER: You know, I think that the President has assembled a list of judges who are all about the same age, as your previous segment was discussing. They all, I think, have a respect for stare decisis and precedence, and also a respect for originalism and textualism. What I hope is that President Trump picks somebody who is willing to fight for what he or she believes in, even when the flak is flying at them.
And so, you know, the person who I think about when I think of that is Judge Brett Kavanaugh, who like clerk before, before Justice Kennedy. He's been on the bench for 12 years. He's written over 300 opinions. Many of his opinions have taken kind of bold, controversial, unwavering conservative positions on a court that was really pretty hostile to some of those opinions. And 11 times Judge Kavanaugh has staked out one of those bold positions and been vindicated 11 out of 11 times by the U.S. Supreme Court.
I'm not sure there's a, you know, many other justices, many other judges out there who we can say that about.
WHITFIELD: And knowing Justice Kennedy, do you believe that he is thinking about, worried about, even cares who would fill his seat?
WALKER: You know, I think it's only natural that if you spent a lifetime, you know, serving the public as a lawyer and as a judge, you would not want the President to appoint someone who will throw your legacy out the window. And, so I think Justice Kennedy probably watched the Gorsuch nomination with attention and also with a lot of pride because Justice Gorsuch was a former clerk of Justice Kennedy's, just like Judge Brett Kavanaugh was a former clerk of Justice Kennedy.
So, I think the nomination of Gorsuch and then the possibility that a judge with a similar conservative respectful, thoughtful record like Justice Gorsuch's record, you know, maybe gave Justice Kennedy some assurance that if he retired, his legacy would not leave with him.
WHITFIELD: OK. Justin Walker, thank you so much for your time.
WALKER: Thank you very much.
WHITFIELD: We'll be right back.
[15:53:13] WHITFIELD: Tonight on CNN, our new original film "American Jail" takes a provocative look at the United States Criminal Justice System which working which not and how to fix it.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ROGER ROSS WILLIAMS, WRITER, DIRECTOR, AND PRODUCER, "AMERICAN JAIL": In my hometown of Easton, Pennsylvania, nothing stood taller than the jail on the hill. Every family had been touched by it. We all had tales of broken men in and out of lockup. I just assumed I would end up there, too.
How many of you know someone who has been in jail? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody.
WILLIAMS: Wait a minute, you been in jail?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Americans knew what was happening in the prisons and the jails, they would demand change.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Lockdown 24/7.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is inevitable to end up here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If the jails were filled with white kids from the suburbs and then they were making the white kids work for no money, how long do you think that operation would be allowed to last?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The criminal justice system in this country's only real function is controlling poor people.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: When I went away as a kid, it taught me nothing.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They have to change this around in here.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "American Jail", a CNN film.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: Joining me is the writer, Director and Producer of "American Jail", Roger Ross Williams.
Good to see you.
WILLIAMS: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: So this is looking like a real hard look at makes me think of, you know, scared straight back in the day. But will this be, you know, a wake-up call for people?
WILLIAMS: I hope so. You know, in making this film, it was very personal to me, but mass incarceration affects everyone in a personal way, because it affects all of us. It affects all of us in the billions of dollars we spend on the system in taxpayer dollars.
[15:55:00] It affects us in the billions of the lost money we spend locking up these prisoners. So, this is a very personal film to me, but I think this is something that every American should see.
WHITFIELD: You reveal how personal it is for you, but at the same time just looking at the images, you know, it also speaks to the obvious, the disproportionate number of those incarcerated are black men. But it's not a statistics, a statistic and now people are seeing it for themselves, and your hope that this will help promote some sort of change in the criminal justice system?
WILLIAMS: I hope so. You know, when I walked into a prison and I saw the crazy number of black people, and people of color, people who also had mental illnesses and substance issues, these people shouldn't be in prison. It was shocking to me. And I think when people are see this film and our faced with it and based of the reality of it, I think that I hope it will change people's minds and people will start to think about this issue.
WHITFIELD: And it is also a business, and you help to tell that story?
WILLIAMS: It's a big business. $265 billion a year in taxpayer dollars, and money earned by prisons and by jails across this country by vendors, and the food, the medical industry, I mean, it is a massive industry, and I think that people just aren't aware, people don't think about it, and people don't think about the cost that it cost all of us as Americans.
WHITFIELD: All right. Roger Ross Williams, thank you so much, and there are a lot of people who are worried this might glamorize jails, but instead it looks it --
WILLIAMS: Oh, no.
WHITFIELD: No. It's quite the opposite of that (inaudible) --
WILLIAMS: Quite the opposite.
WHITFIELD: All right. Be sure to tune in to "American Jail" premiering tonight at 8:00 only on CNN. And we'll be right back.