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Venezuelan President Warns Army over Trump Military Remark; DNA Testing Being Used to Reunited Immigrant Kids & Parents; British Couple Exposed to Same Nerve Agent Used on Russia Spy; Boys & Coach in Dave Too Worn Out to Escape; Pompeo Heads to North Korea Again for Denuclearization Talks. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired July 5, 2018 - 13:30   ET

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


[13:30:00] ERIC FARNSWORTH, VICE PRESIDENT, AMERICAS SOCIETY & THE COUNCIL OF THE AMERICAS: -- well, there's a huge humanitarian crisis that has developed thanks to the regime in Venezuela, it must be said. The regime will not allow humanitarian assistance to come into Venezuela. That's a shame, and it needs to be reversed. Many people have called for that.

But in the meantime, many Venezuelans are actually leaving Venezuela. They're going into Colombia, into Brazil, into the Caribbean islands, which just don't have the capacity to absorb them. So humanitarian assistance, health care, and continually bringing this to the attention of the international community is important.

One other thing that --

(CROSSTALK)

JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: But perhaps not invasion.

FARNSWORTH: Well, that's a different approach. That's for sure.

But one additional thing that could be done is taking recommendations from the Organization of American States and submitting it to the international criminal court, which would bring, potentially, leaders of the regime into --

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: International law?

FARNSWORTH: Yes, subject to international law.

SCIUTTO: Eric Farnsworth, thanks very much.

FARNSWORTH: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, the border battle. The government still not say how many migrant children remain separated from their families, as CNN learns that DNA testing is being used to attempt to reunite those families. The controversy it is sparking as a result.

Plus, a shocking twist involving a couple found unconscious in a small English town. Police now say they were exposed to the same nerve agent that nearly killed a former Russian spy and his daughter. So what is the Kremlin saying now about this couple?

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:35:44] SCIUTTO: We're following the breaking news. With deadlines on family reunification looming, the Trump administration now says it still has as many as 3,000 immigrant children remaining separated from their parents. It's still unclear how many have been reunified.

A federal official tells CNN that cheek swabs are being conducted to collect DNA to confirm parents' identities and reconnect children with their parents.

Our next guest is representing five families who have been detained by the U.S. government and have their children separated from them.

Sophia Gregg is an attorney with the Legal Aid Justice Center.

So, Sophia, five families, separated at the border. What's happening now? The president signed this executive order. His aides are saying they're carrying these out. Are you seeing any efforts to bring those families together with their kids?

SOPHIA GREGG, ATTORNEY, LEGAL AID JUSTICE CENTER: Well, a few weeks ago, when I was down in Port Isabel, Texas, we did not see very much of that being done in terms of a plan to reunify parents with their child. After the congressional delegations and with the news media putting this really at the forefront, we have seen some measures being taken. Right now, some of those measures that are being taken actually make advocates take pause. You mentioned the DNA testing. We're hearing from my clients and others that they are seeing personnel cheek swab or take DNA for testing to help the reunification process.

SCIUTTO: Is there a credible argument for that? Are they saying they want to make sure that if I'm going to reunite this child with this parent, who claim to be their parent, I want to know they're connected via DNA, that they're actually related to each other?

GREGG: At this magnitude and at this level, it is not necessary. This is a problem that the government created for itself when it separated parents from their children without so much as giving the parent a receipt that this child is theirs or vice versa for the children. Just like they would when they are apprehended by Border Patrol and they take their backpack or their possessions from them, they're given a receipt that the U.S. government has their property. They failed to do this with the basic step with the children and the parents, which shows that the government essentially believes that there's a greater value in property than they do for the families.

SCIUTTO: When they separated, there was no paper trail so that a parent knew where the child was going to be once they were separated or even that the government knew? GREGG: There were -- in some cases, we have seen that parents are

children might be listed on each of their corresponding case files or the charging document. Some cases, yes. Some cases, no. This is where you get the problem where the government feels they have to DNA test over 2,000, and now what they're saying is under 3,000 parents and children, which, from an advocate's perspective, is extremely invasive and completely unnecessary, especially given the fact that a lot of the children who are over 5 years old are verbal. They can speak. They have identified who is their parent, and that can be confirmed by the parent. There's no need to go the extra mile and start DNA testing over 2,000.

SCIUTTO: It appears that the HHS is clearly having trouble carrying out this executive order. The numbers seem to have gone up. It was 2,047 last week. Now it's around 3,000. Sounds like they're not certain of the number, not willing to tell us how many children remain separated. Does it indicate to you that there's no clear plan for getting these families back together with their kids?

GREGG: There's no clear plan. There hasn't been a clear plan from the beginning. Like we were speaking before, I really don't think that the government ever intended to reunify these parents and children. They labeled children who came across the border with parents as unaccompanied, a label that's only for children that are without parents as they cross over the border and are apprehended.

[13:39:57] SCIUTTO: Even if these families came across with the child, the child is with them, they labeled them from that moment as if those children did not belong with them or were not accompanied by those parents?

GREGG: Exactly. They're essentially labeled as being somewhat orphans when they came across the border with no parent. Especially with a parent that's detained and a child that's detained, they don't know who belongs to who. This issue is just -- now they're in a sort of chaotic crisis because they can't figure out how to fix the problem they themselves created.

SCIUTTO: Well, that seems to be in the numbers there because they're having trouble getting those families back with their kids.

Sophia Gregg, thanks so much for taking the time.

GREGG: Thank you.

SCIUTTO: Coming up, an international mystery involving espionage accusations and fear. How did a British couple become exposed to the same deadly nerve agent that nearly killed a former Russian spy and his daughter? We're going to talk to a chemical weapons expert.

Plus, word that members of a soccer team trapped deep in a cave are too worn out to attempt to escape now, even if they wanted to. The latest on the difficult efforts to get them out.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) [13:45:34] SCIUTTO: Well, just moments ago, we learned new details about the case of a British couple poisoned with a Russian nerve agent, Novichok. Police say the two people were exposed to it after apparently handling a contaminated item. Novichok is the same agent used to poison an ex-Russian spy, Sergei Skripal, and his daughter in March in Salisbury.

Let's talk more about this with a chemical weapons specialist, David Butler. He's joining me live from Blackpool, England.

This is quite a mystery here because Skripal and his daughter appeared to be intentional targets of the Russian State. He was a turncoat, a Russian spy who changed sides, in effect. Now you have this couple here who seem to be accidently poisoned by this. How could this have happened?

DAVID BUTLER, CHEMICAL WEAPONS SPECIALIST: And I think that's a very good analysis, Jim, in that these two people are definitely unconnected with the Skripal's attempted assassination. They just happened to be in an area which wasn't previously visited by the Skripals. A lot of people think that this is an area that the Skripals went to, this Queen Elizabeth Park. They didn't go there at all on the day that they were -- the assassination was attempted on them. This is a completely separate area, but only about half a mile from where the bench was, where the Skripals collapsed.

SCIUTTO: OK.

BUTLER: One is a registered drug addict. The other one, the lady is a registered alcoholic. And the Queen Elizabeth Park, in Salisbury, for better reasons or not, is a known place where drug addicts go to get their fixes.

SCIUTTO: So let's try to figure this out. Almost like a mystery, right, like a novel. So let's assume the couple not connected to Russia or these Russian spies, which is the way it looks. If you were carrying out an assassination attempt with this agent, is it possible you might have dropped something on the way or leave behind some sort of container that then someone even weeks or months later could pick up and get contaminated by it?

BUTLER: Well, you know, that's almost unthinkable. A professional assassination team working on behalf of a state-sponsored event, it's unthinkable they could be that clumsy to do that sort of thing, to leave something. And let's face it, it was like three and a half hours after the Skripals were supposedly contaminated that they actually fell ill on the bench. So whoever did it to them had about three or four hours to escape. It wasn't like they were being chased by the police and threw something in a bush or something.

SCIUTTO: Well, how about just the science? Does this substance, Novichok, if it's sitting in the open air or in some container, could it last? Would it still be deadly and dangerous some three, almost four months later? Because the poisoning of the Skripals took place in March. BUTLER: Yes, my assessment of that is, knowing nerve agents and

having worked them for real, both in liquid and vapor form, in my experience, you know, left out in the open, the elements will have an effect on a thickened agent, which this clearly was. It will decay over a certain period of time. So my inclination at the moment is to lean towards the fact that it was either soaked into something or it was in a container --

(CROSSTALK)

SCIUTTO: Do you have to touch it? Do you have to touch it? You can't inhale it? You have to physically touch it?

BUTLER: Yes, in this particular case. Because the assessment is it's a thickened agent, you'd have to physically touch it or come into contact with it with your skin. I don't believe that this particular one was inhalable because it was thickened. Therefore, it would have been something that could have been a consistency like shaving foam or something like that, that might have been used.

SCIUTTO: Well, regardless, it shows you just the dangers to more than the target if some sort of assassination attempt with this kind of chemical weapon is used on foreign soil.

David Butler, thanks so much for breaking it down for us.

[13:50:06] BUTLER: OK. Thanks, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Well, now to Thailand and the latest efforts to rescue those 12 boys and their soccer coach trapped almost two weeks now in a flooded cave. The situation going more dire by the day. Monsoon rains could start again at any moment, filling that cave with water. A medical assessment concluded it is still too dangerous at this point to move the group out. Two of the boys and the coach are exhausted from malnutrition. It is an 11-hour roundtrip for even the world's most experienced divers. That time will be much longer with children who don't know how to do it. That's all coming up.

Plus, coming up, a rendezvous with Kim Jong-Un. The secretary of state hopes a flight to North Korea with a big job, convince a dictator to give up his nuclear weapons.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[13:55:07] SCIUTTO: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is on his way back to North Korea right now, as Pompeo heads to Pyongyang for his third meeting with North Korean officials. The State Department is saying it will not back off the U.S. policy of maximum pressure as questions swirl around Kim Jong-Un's actual commitment to denuclearizing.

Joining me from New York is Daniel Russel. He's a former assistant secretary of state. He helped the White House negotiate with North Koreans going back to the '90s.

Daniel Russel, thanks very much for joining us. DANIEL RUSSEL, FORMER ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF STATE FOR EAST ASIAN &

PACIFIC AFFAIRS: My pleasure, Jim.

SCIUTTO: Let me ask this basic question for folks at home. Has North Korea taken any concrete steps towards denuclearization to substantiate the president's claim that the nuclear threat is gone?

RUSSEL: No. You can't point to anything the North Koreans have done to indicate that the threat has diminished, let alone, disappeared. And that adds to the herculean challenge that Secretary Pompeo faces going to Pyongyang at this juncture. For one thing, he goes with very diminished leverage. Sanctions are on the books. You mentioned maximum pressure. Well, the best we can hope for now is minimum pressure, because the implementation of sanctions by China is what matters, and China's already shown that they're letting the spigot get turned back on. The sanctions are on the book, but the implementation is gone. On the defense side, as well, deterrence has taken a few steps backwards. The president has given away our annual exercises. He announced that he wants to withdraw U.S. forces from Korea. That's a dream come true for the North Koreans. So this is a tough way to begin what, in the best of circumstances, is a tough mission, negotiating with the North Koreans.

SCIUTTO: I hear two competing views. One -- and you saw the Defense Intelligence Agency just -- didn't release but we know they have assessed that Kim Jong-Un has no intention of denuclearizing. You hear from others and these are some Chinese diplomats, but even some in the U.S., who says, wait a second, though, Kim has changed his view, or he's changed his calculation, that maybe he does need to give these up because his economic survival is at stake. Do you believe that that's possible?

RUSSEL: That's the proposition, clearly, that we have to put to the test. And I think that, for Secretary Pompeo, going to Pyongyang, the first two critical litmus tests that he can apply are, number one, will North Korea expand the self-declared freeze, which right now is only an agreement not to actually conduct a nuclear test, a detonation or intercontinental ballistic missile tests. They've said nothing of all the other aspects of their nuclear and missile program. So would North Korea agree to generally freeze the entire programs while talks are under way?

And secondly, most importantly, will North Korea make what's called a declaration? Will they put down on paper what their nuclear facilities are, where they are, how much fissile material, how many nuclear weapons, where are their ballistic missile sights and so on? Will they tell us what they have got? Because that's the beginning of the possibility of negotiations. If we don't even know or can't even get them to describe what they have, how are we going to get them to eliminate them?.

SCIUTTO: I was in Singapore for the Trump/Kim summit. That was one of the disappointments there, that the U.S. did not even walk away with an accounting of what North Korea has, which would be the baseline for beginning steps to take to give up those weapons. RUSSEL: Jim, it just goes to show what a challenge Secretary Pompeo

faces. In the run up to that Singapore summit, the negotiators who met in Pyongyang, gave the North Koreans a very robust list of things that North Korea had to do, should be incorporated in the Singapore statement, things that the U.S. has always asked for, beginning with and including the infamous acronym, CVID, complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. In the event the piece of paper that the president signed, along with Kim Jong-Un, has none of that. No mention of ballistic missiles. No firm commitments. It was maybe 50 percent of the commitment on the nuclear side that North Korea had already made back in 2005.

SCIUTTO: Well, we're going to keep watching it.

Daniel Russel, you know a thing or two about North Korea. Thanks very much for joining us.

RUSSEL: Thank you, Jim.

[14:00:02] SCIUTTO: That's it for me, Jim Sciutto.

The news continues right now.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR; All right, Jim. Thank you.

Hi, everyone. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me here.