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Report: Trump Administration Says Needs More Time to Reunite Families; Trump Mocks #Metoo Movement; Trump Repeats Racial Slurs Calling for Warren to Take a DNA Test; Trump Shows No Concern for the Health of John McCain or George Bush; "Politico" Says EPA Intentionally Delayed Cancer Study Release on Formaldehyde Vapor; Formaldehyde Study Has Wide-Ranging Implications for Millions of People in Industry and at Home; Heavy Rains Moving in as Crews Race to Save Trapped Boys in Thailand. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired July 6, 2018 - 14:00   ET


[14:00:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: I'm Brooke Baldwin. You were watching CNN on this Friday afternoon. Thanks for being with me.

We begin this hour with a looming court-ordered deadline to reunite all the families who were torn apart by the government's zero tolerance separation policy. But Trump administration is now telling a judge that it's facing challenges and may need more time to get immigrant children returned to their parents. Today officials have to make sure all separated parents are connected with their kids by phone.

By Tuesday the government is supposed to reunite parents with their kids if they're under the age of 5, and then by July 26 the judge says all children should be back with their parents. Of course, this comes as we still have no actual answers about how many children are still detained, how many are still alone in a country foreign to them. The Department of Health and Human Services says it has fewer than 3,000 kids in its facilities, but that doesn't really give us any clarity here because when you look back to June 20th, HHS said they had 2,053 migrant children in its care. And so, six days later it was 2047.

My point is officials now have 20 days to reunite all families. Families like this one.

This mother and daughter are among the lucky ones. Look at this. Together again after being separated from one another for two months. Let's go to Nick Valencia who is inside the call center where some of the court-ordered family phone calls are being facilitated. Nick, obviously, locating families has been one of the big, shall we say, challenges here, but do we know -- have you talked to families that are being connected?

NICK VALENCIA, CNN CORRESPONDENT: This is an organization that is working on doing just that. This is based here in San Antonio, Brooke, and they're working on keeping the government, the Trump administration, accountable to this deadline. July 6 is the day that all families -- or parents need to be connected by phone with their children. Let's take a little bit around here. These are volunteers in the middle of a shift change, so it's a lighter crowd. We just had a crowd come through here. They're in a staff meeting right now.

They facilitate these phone calls between parents and children, and they're also working on reunification. In some cases, according to the executive director, they're working on getting ten bonds in the last several hours or so. They've been successful in at least five of those bonds. It is an expensive process to say the least. We have heard upwards of $9,000 for these immigrant families to post bond, and, have you to ask yourself, you know, these are families that came across and traveled through Mexico with absolutely nothing. They are scraping together all they can from relatives sometimes in the United States to make those bonds, but we also heard something really disturbing, brook.

Phone calls that are being made from parents to children or parents to other family members according to the executive director here at races, they're talking about $8 a minute per phone call for these families to make. These are families, again, that have absolutely nothing in their bank account no, money in their commissary. We haven't been getting many answer from the Trump administration. Repeatedly asking them to break down the figure of how many children have been reunited with their parents, and the truth is we just don't know. You talked about that figure 2,047.

Yesterday we were just shocked to hear from the HHS secretary. He gave an estimate of lower than 3,000. Now, it was recently that the secretary of health and human services, he said that he knows through his system where all children and their parents are. That begs the question then, why are we getting estimates and not hard and fast numbers if the government knows exactly where the parents and children are.

BALDWIN: Right. The number is going in the wrong direction. Nick, thank you so much.

America's immigration policy is one of the multitude of issues that the president criticized last night at a rally there in Montana. As he turned his focus to potential 20 challengers, the president renewed his attack on Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren, but he didn't stop there.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Pocahontas, I apologize to you. To you I apologize. To the fake one, I won't.

Let's say I'm debating Pocahontas. I promise you I will do this. You know the kits they sell on television for $2? Learn your heritage. We will take that little kit and say but we have to do it gently because we're in the #metoo generation, so we have to be very gentle. We will very gently take that kit, and we will slowly toss it hoping it doesn't hit her and injure her arm.


[14:05:00] BALDWIN: Did you catch that?


TRUMP: Because we're in the #metoo generation, so we have to be very gentle.


BALDWIN: Let's start there. Juana Summers is with me, CNN politics senior writer, Anushay Hussein, a contributing writer for CNN and Alice Stewart, CNN political commentator and Republican strategist.

Ladies, welcome to all of you, and Anushay, first to you. In three seconds the president of the United States just mocked and belittled one of the most powerful movements of this generation. The #metoo movement is about confronting rape, sexual assault, workplace harassment, domestic abuse, bullying, shame, and silence, and it's about empowering women and men and Trump dismissed it in a blink.

ANUSHAY HUSSEIN, CONTRIBUTING WRITER FOR CNN: Well, you know, Brooke, the sad thing this doesn't tell us everything we already didn't know, which is that Trump, you know, peddles hate towards minorities and women. I think what's really important -- we already knew he didn't take the #metoo movement seriously because, let's not forget, on top of all of his actions, remember when Rob Porter was finally let go from the White House, he referred to him as a very fine man. I think --

BALDWIN: This was different. We heard him literally dismiss it.

HUSSEIN: We heard him literally say it exactly. It comes during the same week, Brooke, as the -- the same week as he hired Bill Shine from Fox News. This is a man accused of not only enabling the sexual harassment climate at Fox, but also a man who was kind of accused of covering up for Roger Ales. It shows that not only does Trump want take the #metoo movement seriously, but he protects, hires, rewards, and promotes men who abuse women. You know what, Brooke, he has to be dismissive of the #me too movement. This movement is so powerful. It has brought down some of the most powerful men in the country, and it could still bring down Donald Trump.

BALDWIN: Alice, you know, you're a Republican. When you hear the crowd laughing when he delivers that line, you know, when you talk to Trump supporters or people at rallies like this, why laugh? What do you think this is doing to our country?

ALICE STEWART, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR AND REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: It is diminishing, in my view, a lot of morals that a lot of people have had for many years. It makes me cringe when I hear him talk like that, and as you say, Brooke, for people to laugh and to encourage him and the problem when this president is out at an event and he goes off teleprompter, I pray this was not on the teleprompter -- when he goes off prompter, he becomes out of touch. He becomes out of touch with the seriousness, as you said, of the #metoo movement, which is critical for so many reasons in empowering victims of many different types of abuse, but if he doesn't share the momentum and the feeling and the message behind that, then he should just keep his mouth shut, and the last thing he should be doing is mocking it and making jokes about it. I just certainly don't understand this.

For him to do this, even in private, is unacceptable, but certainly not at an event. This, in any view goes to the civility that has really gone down in the last several months. Look, I campaigned hard against Donald Trump in the primary, and I campaigned for people that were men of civility and honor and dignity. I ultimately voted for him for his policies. At the end of the day it's a really important thing for us to stick to morals and principles and standing up for issues that are so important to this country and me too is one of those issues.

BALDWIN: You mentioned civility. I mean, that's something that this White House just recently called for. Sarah Sanders stood at the podium and called for civility and Anushay mentioned this, but Juana, this is a man, a president who yes, indeed, has been facing sexual harassment or assault allegations for multiple women, which he vehemently denies. Then he said this about congressman -- Republican Congressman Jim Jordan, who allegedly knew about this widespread abuse within Ohio State University wrestling program which he denies, but this is what the president said about Jim Jordan: "I don't believe them at all. These are the men with these allegations. I believe him. Jim Jordan is one of the most outstanding people I've met since I have been in Washington. I believe him 100 percent."

[14:10:00] So Juana, he in one half breath dismisses the "metoo movement but then sides with Jim Jordan 100 percent.

JUANA SUMMERS, CNN POLITICS SENIOR WRITER: He does and Brooke and this is a pattern that we see from this White House. This is a president who repeatedly has repeatedly chosen to stand on the side not of survivors whether is talking about #metoo, whether it's talking about the allegations involving about Jim Jordan allegedly turning a blind eye to these abuses.

What really struck me, though, in listening to that rally is I felt like we were in a time warp back to 2016. You know, this is the kind of rhetoric that Donald Trump then candidate Trump campaigned on. This is the type of rhetoric that lighted his base and brought some people out to vote for him, and it seems like he found that if that's one that worked, he is going to go back to. I don't expect we'll hear this kind of language, this tone stop. I think it's something we're going to hear a lot of in the runup to 2020.

BALDWIN: On the language, let's hone in on that. He picks on these two female members of congress. Congresswoman Maxine Waters who has been criticized recently, and he picks on her IQ. Then he picks on Senator Warren and her race. She clapped back with this tweet: "Hey, Donald Trump, while you obsess over my genes, your administration is conducting DNA tests on little kids because you rip them from their mamas and you are too incompetent to reunite them in time to meet a court order. Maybe you should focus on fixing the lives you're destroying."

On her point on language why do you think he keeps calling her Pocahontas. It is not just sexist. It is racist. STEWART: And it's rude and mean and degrading. But in his mind and

the people on this campaign and the re-elect, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. And this is the kind of rhetoric that he did throughout the campaign. What he has done as president and he continues --

BALDWIN: It worked for him.

STEWART: With his base, it is working for him. This was a rally in Montana for Matt Rosendale, who is running against senator testing, who the president really wants to see unseated. In his mind, in the campaign's mind, this was classic Trump right to the base giving them red meat, insulting anyone and everyone in his swath. Unfortunately, including President Bush, and this was exactly how he has gotten where he is, and in his mind, it has worked so far, and they will continue to do so.

BALDWIN: Swiping at two ailing Republican giants. In Bush 41 and John McCain. Does he have someone whispering in her his ear? I think I'm with you, Alice, that I think a lot of this was off prompter. This was vintage Trump. This was total 2015, 2016 on the trail. What's the goal for stirring the pot like this? Reelection?

SUMMERS: I think this is a president who very clearly has reelection. I think that a lot of people were wondering when Trump was elected if he would rise to the gravity of the office, if there were be any changes in his personality and the way that he approaches things and the topics that he addresses. I think that speeches like that one last night very clearly indicate that this man is who he is. He is -- if he has advisors around him that would prefer that he not saying things like the things he said last evening in that speech, but he has chosen to do so anyway, and it seems like this is a pattern that he is going to keep continuing because he has seen it work for him.

BALDWIN: Go ahead. 20 seconds. Close us out.

HUSSEIN: Well, I think it's important to remember that we have to vote. We have to vote, ladies. We have to vote this man -- we have to vote as much as we can in November, and the fact of the matter is there's a cultural shift happening in this country right now where women are being believed, where our allegations are taken seriously, and the president of the United States is just reminding us that he doesn't back us, and he doesn't back this movement.

BALDWIN: Alice, Anushay, Juana, thank you, ladies, so much. Great to hear all of your voices. Coming up, after Scott Pruitt's resignation, the "New York Post" out with its version of "Survivor, Season Two at The White House." We'll take a look at who is gone, who is still there, and who may be thinking about an exit.

Plus, officials at the EPA are accused now of intentionally delaying the release of a cancer study to the public. This is according to a new report. Why they would be doing this. We have new details on that. And a grim forecast for those 12 boys and their coach trapped in a cave in Thailand. More water could soon be heading their way. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.


BALDWIN: We should back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. After months of ethics scandals and EPA administrator's resignation, the agency is now facing a new troubling headline. Here's what we have. According a new report from "Politico," officials say the EPA intentionally delayed the release of a cancer study. Let's go to Ryan Nobles. Why?

RYAN NOBLES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, this is certainly an important study it could impact millions of Americans. But I have been in contact with the EPA today and they say essentially this report is just not ready for public consumption yet. That it is at stage one of a seven stage process but that's different that "Politico" found in their reporting.

[14:20:00] They talked to several EPA officials who claimed that a draft assessment on the dangers of inhaling formaldehyde vapor was ready for released right before the inauguration in 2017, but now more than a year later it is still under wraps. Those officials tell "Politico" they believe administration officials are purposely withholding the assessment to undermine the research into the risk.

Now that draft assessment is believed to reveal new ties between exposure to formaldehyde and certain types of cancer and leukemia. The EPA claims the study has not been released because it is still going through the bureaucratic review process. This is what a spokesperson told me in part today. Quote: "Assessments of this type are often the result of needs for particular rule making and they undergo extensive interagency and interagency processes."

The EPA. also stated emphatically that they're not attempting to delay any hearings or questions about the studies, but there are members of Congress concerned about this delay. In fact, back at a hearing in January Democratic senators pressed the then EPA administrator Scott Pruitt about the study. He said it was near completion at that time. However, now here we are several months out from that promise, and that study is not available to the public.

Brooke, this is important because the study could have a wide-ranging impact. There are millions of products that Americans use every day that contain formaldehyde. Here's just a few examples, you have pressed wood products like plywood or fiber board, glues and adhesive, permanent press fabrics, insulation materials, preservatives to food. That's one of the reasons that the three Democratic senators have renewed their call to release the report as soon as possible. They want it absent of any political influence.

Brooke, the EPA spokesperson telling me today that they are casting doubt Son past EPA studies on formaldehyde. They claim that both the National Academy of Science and Congress have been highly critical of studies like these in the past. It's clear the debate over this report is far from being over, and there are a lot of people that just want to know what the report says.

BALDWIN: Let's get some quick analysis. Ryan Nobles, thank you so much. With me now head of the Division of Medical Ethics at NYU School of Medicine, Art Kaplan. It sounds like there are several versions of the explanation as to why this cancer study has been withheld thus far. How do you see this?

ART KAPLAN, HEAD, DIVISION OF MEDICAL ETHICS, NYU SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Any excuse for withholding at all, I think it's unethical. It's a dereliction of duty. And it is part of this administration's sort of know nothing is him when it comes to science. When you have products as well as just pointed out all over your house, in your rugs, in your furniture, at the beauty parlor. When you have workers making things whether it's at a funeral home or factories that make pressed wood and furniture and so on, they need to know and they need to know now. Not five months from now or a year from now, both what the dangers are and, you know, you can control for some of it with more ventilation and wearing masks and this sort of thing. So, it's inexcusable.

One last thing why it's inexcusable is the American people paid for the study, and you commissioned research, you get to know the results.

BALDWIN: Perspective. Do these kinds of study delays, do they happen often? And we the people just don't know?

KAPLAN: Not often. When you get a major carcinogen tied up with leukemia, other forms of cancer. You try to get out sooner rather than later. If you respect the science, if you respect public health, you try to warn people as soon as you can. You might still debate the report later, but you don't wait. Most scientific journals will move this thing up as quickly as they can because they want to err on the side of safety. The administration in general and the EPA in particular seem to want to err on the side of covering up.

BALDWIN: Art Kaplan, thank you.

KAPLAN: My pleasure.

BALDWIN: These situation is getting increasingly dire and urgent as a diver trying to rescue these trapped boys in that Thailand cave dies. Now the commander says the conditions are getting worse, and the time is running out. The key rescues so dangerous, few people in the world have actually ever attempted them. Straight ahead, CNN cameras take you deep under ground and into the water.


BALDWIN: These rescuers could be running out of time. Light rain began to fall today. Heavy rainfall is in the forecast. It has already been one death. A former Thai Navy SEAL who volunteered to go in and help save the boys. He has died. His oxygen ran out while he was navigating the underwater tunnel tunnels.

[14:30:00] The number of rescuers in the team has been cut to half. It is now five instead of ten. Officials say it is unlikely they will move the boys in the next 24 hours. Mainly because they need to find wet suits for some of the boys who are too small to fit the ones on hand. Tech billionaire and Tesla CEO Elon Musk is sending in his specialist engineers to help with location tracking and water pumping. CNN meteorologist Jennifer Gray is here with a closer look at the rains moving in. I'm afraid to ask how much. JENNIFER GRAY, CNN METEOROLOGIST: Yes, well, the monsoon season has

started. There's a dry season and rainy season. It comes in a big way when the rains start. We're talking about the rains setting in in a matter of days, not weeks. It is going to be a race against time. You can see July and August. We get anywhere from a foot or more of rain within the month. We're forecasting a 10 percent above normal rainy season.

Once the rains begin, the water is going to rise even more. Those currents are going to be very, very strong. We have this tiny window within the next couple of days where the rain should stay at a minimum, and the currents are going to stay relatively low, and the water levels are going to stay lower than they will be within the next week or so. We did get a little bit of rain today. Here's the satellite picture, and you can see the clouds in the area. Especially the ones up to north. It looks like we did get some. Not too much though. And then the forecast radar doesn't look so bad over the next couple of days, but once we get in today. 5:00, 6:00, 7:00, that is when the rain is really going to pick up. Here's the next five days and you can see --