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HHS: Fewer Than 3,000 Kids Separated From Parents In Government Custody; Is North Korea Taking Steps To Denuclearize? Update On Albuquerque Officer Who Adopted The Baby Of A Homeless Heroin Addict; Trump Launches Trade War Against China. Aired 7:30-8a ET

Aired July 6, 2018 - 07:30   ET



Now, I spoke to a detained mother -- a mother in detention at Port Isabel -- and she says not only is that not happening, she doesn't entirely know where her child is.

Ultimately, these parents just want desperately to be reunited with their children. We don't know exactly how many reunifications have happened because the government has not given us that figure, but CNN cameras were there for one emotional reunion yesterday.


ANGELICA GONZALEZ-GARCIA, REUNITED WITH DAUGHTER AFTER TWO MONTHS: Forgive me for leaving you all alone. Forgive me, daughter. Forgive me. Thank you, God, for returning her to me.


VALENCIA: There are hundreds of other parents just like that waiting for moments like that -- John.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: All right, Nick Valencia for us. Nick, I really do appreciate it.

Joining us now is Republican Congressman Leonard Lance of New Jersey. Congressman, thanks so much for being here.

I was shocked when I heard Sec. Azar use the language yesterday "we estimate" that we have fewer than 3,000 kids separated from their parents now in custody. "We estimate," he said.

Now, you can argue what you want about the policy of separating the children. You can argue about asylum policy. But if the government's going to separate children from their parents how can they not count?

What does it tell you about this administration that they don't have a count of how many children they separated from parents?

REP. LEONARD LANCE (R-NJ), MEMBER, HOUSE ENERGY AND COMMERCE COMMITTEE, HOUSE ETHICS COMMITTEE: We, in Congress, want a precise count and we wrote the secretary last week -- those of us on the Republican side on the Energy and Commerce Committee -- and I hope that the secretary responds to us. And if not, he should come before us to explain the precise number.

BERMAN: Do you think they don't know?

LANCE: I don't know the answer to that but I hope that they know and certainly, it is a requirement that they do know and find out with precision.

BERMAN: To me, it seems as if he's treating this like jelly beans in a jar. You know, trying to guess the amount of jelly beans in a jar. But these aren't jelly beans, these are children. These are children that were separated by a government policy.

LANCE: The view of the Congress is that children should not be separated from their parents and there are various bills moving through the process, including one by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, our conference chair. And certainly, it is the unified view of members of Congress that children should not be separated from their parents.

BERMAN: Are you getting answers from HHS?

LANCE: We certainly hope to get them next week given the fact that the secretary said there were fewer than 3,000 and now, there may be more than 3,000.

BERMAN: So it doesn't sound like you are or have received the answers.

LANCE: Not yet but we will be back in session next week and certainly, we will demand that as quickly as possible.

BERMAN: Do you -- at first, the government said -- the Health and Human Services secretary said there were 2,053. That was a week ago.

The new number -- again, it's an estimate -- fewer than 3,000. So the number seems to be changing and squishy.

So you think that they weren't straight the first time or they were just wrong?

LANCE: I don't know but certainly, they were wrong at the very least. And whether or not it was deliberate or not, I do not know.

BERMAN: So here's the calendar they have. Today, officials must make sure every separated parent has a way to contact their child. Do you think they're meeting that?

LANCE: We'll find out today.

BERMAN: July 10th, children under five must be reunited with their parents. Are you confident that they will be?


BERMAN: By July 26th, all children must be reunited with their parents regardless of age. Are you confident that they will be?

LANCE: We'll see what happens by July 26th.

Last week, we put an amendment in a billing committee that said we have to have a weekly update on the situation.

BERMAN: Have you seen evidence that the administration is trying?

This is what I don't understand because the secretary said that zero families -- zero parents have been reunited with their children from this batch that been under HHS supervision. Zero over the last week.

It seems to me that if you tried --


BERMAN: -- you would almost accidentally reunite one or two.

Do you see evidence there's an effort here?

LANCE: I hope there is an effort. I see some evidence but certainly, want it completely done and not just one at a time. It should be unified across the board, John.

BERMAN: Whose responsibility is it?

The president says look, this is Congress. You haven't passed comprehensive immigration reform. Which to be fair, Congress hasn't and they had opportunities dating back in Congress to the Bush administration and it hasn't happened. However, that wasn't what separated these children from their parents.

Is this on him and this administration?

LANCE: Certainly, the separation policy was a policy of the administration and we disagree with that.

I do think, however, that we should move immigration legislation. I voted for a compromised bill a week ago that did not receive any support on the other side. And I hope that we can work in a bipartisan capacity on the compromised legislation in this regard and on the children, specific legislation in that regard.

[07:35:12] BERMAN: Does this make you angry?

LANCE: Of course, yes. I am a parent and I believe that children and parents should remain together.

BERMAN: I want to ask you one thing that happened last night. The president was in Montana giving a speech at a rally and talked about a number of things.

And he brought up the slogan used by George H.W. Bush at his convention speech in 1988 and then during his inauguration -- a thousand points of lights -- which called on Americans to join and volunteer. Join civic organizations to make the country a better place.

This is what President Trump had to say about it last night.


TRUMP: You know, all the rhetoric you see here -- the thousand points of lights. What the hell was that, by the way?

A thousand points of light. What did that mean? Does anyone know?

I know one thing. Make America great again, we understand. Putting America first, we understand.

A thousand points of light? I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out?

It was put out by a Republican, wasn't it?


BERMAN: All right, I get that he likes the slogan "Make America Great Again."

But a thousand points of light -- George H.W. Bush, more than 98 years old, up in Kennebunkport right now. He's dealt with illnesses all the time.

What do you make of what the president said?

LANCE: I honor the tradition of President Bush. I proudly supported him and I know what the slogan meant. It meant that we should act as citizens in our local communities, donating blood, being involved with the Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts and I think it was an excellent program.

And I wish President Bush, Sr. well. As you know, he has had certain health crises and I honor his tremendous public service to our nation.

BERMAN: Leonard Lance, congressman from New Jersey, great to have you here with us. Thanks so much for the discussion.

LANCE: Thank you.

BERMAN: Alisyn --


What is happening in the talks with Secretary of State Pompeo and North Korean leaders? Is Kim Jong Un serious about denuclearizing? We'll look at that, next.


[07:40:46] CAMEROTA: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in North Korea this morning meeting with leaders to figure out if Kim Jong Un is really taking steps to denuclearize. The U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency says Kim Jong Un has no intention of doing so and they have evidence.

So, joining us now is former NATO supreme allied commander and retired Army general, Wesley Clark. General, great to have you here.


CAMEROTA: What does Secretary of State Mike Pompeo need to leave with to convince skeptics that Kim Jong Un is serious about denuclearizing?

CLARK: Well, of course, what it would be nice to have is a complete list of all his nuclear facilities and his nuclear means. I don't think we're going to get that.

Maybe a time line in which there could be meetings in which these critical facts would be declared. Or maybe a step-by-step process for saying first, we're going to open up and look at our storage facilities and then production facilities, and then we're going to declare everything else, including our training schools and so forth. And then you're going to see the full background of the program.

All of those things would be useful but it would be a total surprise if he comes out with those things because North Korea is a closed society. He's spent 25 years on this nuclear program or more and it seems unlikely it's going to unwind it easily.

What many of us are concerned about is that the pledge to denuclearize the Peninsula is going to be a reciprocal tit for tat in which the United States is required to pull back its forces and make concessions to the North. And this is totally contrary to the expectations that the president built and that have been sustained that this would be a North Korean denuclearization.

CAMEROTA: Last night, President Trump took credit for the idea that North Korea is no longer launching missiles and suggested that they're no longer a threat. So listen to this moment.


TRUMP: Obama was very close to going to war. You have 30 million people in Seoul. It's 30 miles off the border and that's a tough border.

Thousands of cannons, they call them. These are big, big guns. I'm not even talking about nuclear.

You could have lost 30, 40, 50 million people. You could have had a war like you haven't had in a long time.

And guess what you have now? Eight months, no nuclear testing, no missiles, no anything.


CAMEROTA: Is the threat over, General?

CLARK: Oh, we don't think the threat is really over. What we've got here is certainly some publicity. It's nice not to have the verbal threats going back and forth but the capabilities are still in place and intentions can change overnight.

So we don't know really what the future holds on this.

But as President Trump said, it's not only the nuclear means, it's the non-nuclear means. The cannon, and the biological weapons, and the chemical weapons that could be launched on Seoul that also constitute a threat. And we haven't really heard a discussion of whether that's even included in a -- in a denuclearization.

CAMEROTA: But the fact that they're not launching missiles -- that they're not launching their missiles, does President Trump deserve any credit for that?

CLARK: Well, I think it's a good thing that they're not launching but it could also mean that they've met their performance objectives and so they've halted their testing program.

You know, the United States hasn't tested nuclear weapons in decades and yet, we still have nuclear weapons. So the fact that they're not testing doesn't, in itself, mean that the threat has gone away.

CAMEROTA: You, of course, were the NATO supreme allied commander. So, the meeting with President Trump at NATO is coming up on Wednesday and Thursday. How's that going to go?

CLARK: Well, there's a lot of questions about this because he's been -- he's been -- he's been very disruptive with the same leaders in the context of the economic discussions in Canada. He sent pretty tough letters about defense spending. He has a planned summit meeting with President Putin and one-on-one discussions after the NATO meeting.

[07:45:06] What NATO is looking for is a strong sense that President Trump is actually committed to strengthening the NATO alliance. NATO is facing a lot of challenges right now.

Russia's continuing to probe and push and threaten the neighbors in the Baltics and still have got an active military campaign underway in Ukraine.


CLARK: It's expanding its presence all through Europe.

So it's always been the United States that's been the bedrock of assurance for these European countries that they would be safe. So really, it's the context and the tone of this summit more than the substance of it that's going to be critical for our allies.

CAMEROTA: And how do you explain General, that President Trump seems more energized or even excited about his meeting with Vladimir Putin than about NATO. And last time with the G7, about meeting with Kim Jong Un than meeting with the allies?

CLARK: Yes, it's really -- it's really upsetting to our allies that he seems to prefer meetings with Xi Jinping or Putin or Kim Jong Un to meeting with longtime historic friends of the United States. And, of course, all of this is in the context of the investigation of

President Trump's election and Russian meddling in the U.S. election system so naturally, allies are suspicious. And their intelligence agencies picked up the indications of Russian meddling also.

But beyond that, what you have here is a policy and a practice by the president that really doesn't make sense.

If you really worry about trade disputes with China then you would want your European allies on your side to add to the concerns of China. Instead, by picking a fight with the European allies on trade, what President Trump has done is open the door for China to cut separate deals with Europe, leaving the United States out.

So it's a policy that's not only -- it's only -- it's not only upsetting emotionally in terms of traditional U.S. support, but it also doesn't make sense --


CLARK: -- in terms of good bargaining.

CAMEROTA: General Wesley Clark, thank you very much for your perspective and expertise on all of this -- John.

BERMAN: Right.

Something we all need this morning is to feel good about something. Coming up, the update on a story of an officer who adopted a baby from a heroin addict. You'll want to stick around for this.


[07:51:48] BERMAN: So, the World Cup quarterfinals get started today which makes today awesome. All eyes will be on Brazilian star Neymar, who's sort of like a mixture between Laurence Olivier and Greg Louganis. Can he stay on his feet today?

Andy Scholes has more in the "Bleacher Report." Hey, Andy.


You know, Neymar flopping around on the ground has really become the joke of this World Cup. And according to "Bleacher Report," Neymar, incredibly, has been on the ground for a cumulative 14 minutes in his four games.

Now, Neymar certainly has been fouled during this World Cup but many think he is greatly exaggerating the extent of how bad it hurts in order to get called. And as you can see, the Internet has had a field day with this creating all kinds of Neymar memes of him just rolling all over the world.

And I want you to check out this Swiss youth soccer team's new drill.


(Children falling on the ground).


SCHOLES: I'll tell you what, that's some creative coaching right there. It's pretty awesome.

Now, Neymar and Brazil take on Belgium at 2:00 eastern today with a spot in the semifinals on the line. France and Uruguay get things started at 10:00.

All right, many of the teams in the World Cup have been sending well- wishes to the Thai soccer team trapped in the cave. Now, the boys have been in that cave for nearly two weeks now and they've been asking how the World Cup is going because obviously, they can't follow.

Well yesterday, FIFA invited the team to the World Cup final.

FIFA's president writing in a letter, "If, as we all hope, they are reunited with their families in the coming days and their health allows them to travel, FIFA would be delighted to invite them to attend the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow as our guests."

Now, the World Cup final is July 15th. And, Alisyn, if those boys are able to make it to that game, I'll tell you what, that would be one of the coolest things ever.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh, we pray that they get that opportunity and that they get out safely.

All right, Andy. Thank you very much --

SCHOLES: All right.

CAMEROTA: -- for that update.

Here's a story that you'll remember. CNN brought you last year the story of this Albuquerque police officer who went beyond the call of duty by adopting the baby of a homeless heroin addict.

We have an update for you. We're going to check in with the officer and the woman that he helped rescue from the streets to see how the baby is doing.

Here's CNN's Ed Lavandera.


ED LAVANDERA, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The last time we saw Crystal Champ she could not break the grip of addiction to heroin and crystal meth.

CRYSTAL CHAMP, HOMELESS HEROIN ADDICT: I don't want to do this. I'm happy. I'm fine being a freaking heroin addict on the street.

LAVANDERA: She refused to board a plane to a drug treatment facility. But a few days after this, Crystal and her partner Tom did get on that plane.

CHAMP: It's very exciting (ph).

LAVANDERA: This is Crystal Champ now, nearly seven months sober.

LAVANDERA (on camera): A lot has changed since the last time we saw you.

CHAMP: Yes, yes, a lot. A lot has changed.

LAVANDERA: In a -- in a good way.


LAVANDERA: In a good way.

CHAMP: In a really good way.

LAVANDERA: The moment that was so painful to watch was outside the airport there and you saying that you were perfectly happy being a homeless heroin addict.

CHAMP: That was true. I was comfortable in my misery and I didn't know how to not be miserable in life at that point in time.

RYAN HOLETS, DETECTIVE, ALBUQUERQUE POLICE DEPARTMENT, ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO, ADOPTED BABY OF HEROIN ADDICT: So I'm not going to lie to you. It looks like you guys are getting ready to shoot up over here.

[07:55:01] LAVANDERA (voice-over): Years of addiction left her homeless on the streets of Albuquerque, New Mexico.

HOLETS: How far along are you?

CHAMP: Seven or eight months.

HOLETS: Oh, my gosh.

LAVANDERA: She was eight months pregnant when Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets found her shooting up heroin with her partner.

HOLETS: Yes, she's waking up now.

LAVANDERA: Holets and his wife Rebecca adopted the baby and named her Hope, but that wasn't enough. The goal was to get Crystal sober and off the streets.


LAVANDERA: It all seems so long ago. Crystal found hope in this Florida treatment center called Mending Fences, where patient therapy revolves around caring for injured horses. CHAMP: My therapist, when I got here, she's like Crystal, this is life or death.

LAVANDERA: The center saw the original CNN story on Ryan and Crystal and offered to help.

CHAMP: I've worked really hard to get where I am -- really hard. There's no burning desire for me to even like romanticize about going back to that place because I know that I'm powerless over my addiction.

LAVANDERA: Crystal graduated from the drug treatment center is and is rebuilding her life, looking for work and mentoring others out of addiction.

She keeps a picture of baby Hope and the Holets family by her bed. She's always described them as her guardian angels.

HOLETS: We have felt close to her for a long time now and we celebrate every victory that she achieves.

LAVANDERA: Baby Hope is growing and doing well.

JESSICA HOLETS, ADOPTED BABY OF HEROIN ADDICT: Yes, very healthy, a very strong baby.

CHAMP: She is in a great place -- I know she is -- and I trust and have faith that she's going to have a beautiful life.

And the fact that like, I can look at Ryan and Rebecca and feel like that's -- that is the father and the mother of my child -- like, it's just beautiful.

LAVANDERA: Crystal and the Holets family talk weekly and hope to see each other again soon. They consider each other family and will share the details of this journey with baby Hope when she's older.

HOLETS: Yes. I deep down kind of wished upon a star and hoped that something like this could happen. But this is the kind of stuff that only happens in movies and books with happy endings and usually, in real life you don't see stuff like this.

LAVANDERA: They all hope it's a dream that never ends.

Ed Lavandera, CNN, Ocala, Florida.


CAMEROTA: Oh, my gosh.


CAMEROTA: First of all, Crystal is unrecognizable from the woman that we first met. I mean, she's -- she looks so --

AVLON: Totally transformed. CAMEROTA: -- much healthier and happier. And the baby is such a bouncing baby and looks so healthy. I can't believe how well this has worked out.

BERMAN: What strikes me is the incredible network of compassion that you're seeing there to help this woman and help her child. You have the Holets, you have this horse farm.

You have Eddie Lavandera, frankly --


BERMAN: -- who has poured his heart into telling this story so we can see the compassion there. These folks, each and every one of them, they're points of light.

CAMEROTA: I so agree and Officer Holets, he has other children. They didn't have to adopt this baby but they are so -- they consider themselves lucky to have her in their family.

AVLON: And when he says somewhere deep down I wished upon a star, that something like this could happen -- that a story could have a happy ending.

And I agree with you about that transformation of Crystal. Talk about hope. That example is stark and beautiful.

CAMEROTA: We're so glad we could bring that story to you.

We're following a lot of other news as well. Let's get right to it.

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

CAMEROTA: All right, good morning, everyone. Welcome to your NEW DAY. It is Friday, July sixth, 8:00 now here in the east.

John Avlon is with us this morning.

And we do begin with breaking news.

President Trump has launched a trade war with China overnight, imposing tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. Now, China is hitting back with retaliatory tariffs, accusing the U.S. of starting quote "the biggest trade war in history." What are the consequences of all of this?

BERMAN: And the growing crisis over families separated at the border by the U.S. government.

The secretary of Health and Human Services estimates that the number of children separated by the government or in custody right now is now fewer than 3,000 -- he estimates. How is it that he only has an estimate -- a best guess? These are human beings -- children.

How can the government not know? And if they don't know, how can we be sure they have a plan to get these families back together? Let's begin our coverage with CNN's chief business correspondent and star of "EARLY START", Christine Romans on the trade war -- Romans.

CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CHIEF BUSINESS CORRESPONDENT, ANCHOR, "EARLY START": It is on, a trade war between the U.S. and China. It is real and it is here.

At the stroke of midnight, the U.S. hit China with tariffs on $34 billion worth of goods. China immediately responded with its revenge tariffs of equal value, accusing the U.S. of launching the largest trade war in economic history and calling the U.S. a trade bully.