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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

CNN: White House Chief of Staff John Kelly's Stature Diminishing; Some Kids Separated at Border May Never See Parents Again. Aired 4:30-5p ET

Aired July 26, 2018 - 16:30   ET

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


JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Now, we are being told as White House Chief of Staff John Kelly approaches his one year mark on the job this Saturday that a new rival is gaining stature in President Trump's orbit, former Fox News president Bill Shine, who of course left that company amidst allegations that while at Fox, he helped cover up the sexual harassment and abuse committed by Roger Ailes and Bill O'Reilly.

[16:30:11] CNN's Jeff Zeleny is at the White House for us.

And, Jeff, what are your sources telling you about Kelly's standing inside the White House as he approaches his one year anniversary there?

JEFF ZELENY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Jake, first of all, John Kelly has made it 363 days as White House chief of staff. And in this White House particularly, that is no small feat. But we are hearing from a variety of sources inside the West Wing, inside the administration and the government that the time is likely running out for John Kelly to serve as chief of staff.

Now, the timing on that is entirely up to the president. There is no sense that it is coming up urgently, but there is a sense that the president in many ways has moved on from his White House chief of staff, just based on a lot of reporting that we have done talking to a variety of officials. The role of John Kelly has been diminished over the last year or so. He is no longer holding a senior staff meeting every day for an example. He is no longer at the president's side as long and as often as he was in the beginning.

And, Jake, one you remember, John Kelly came in to a chaotic West Wing. He instilled discipline, no question. But since then, the president, of course, has bristled under a lot of that.

And one power center here at the White House that has been at odds with John Kelly is Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. No question they would like to see a new chief of staff. So, at some point, that will happen.

But I am told that the president is not going to fire him. If he wanted to do that, that would have happened already. He's just going to take some time looking for a replacement, Jake.

TAPPER: And, Jeff, tell us about Bill Shine. He just joined the ranks of the White House a few weeks ago really. How is he rising so quickly as President Trump's closest advisers, one of them?

ZELENY: Well, Jake, in one respect, Bill Shine came in, you know, with the authority in support of the president. It's why he took the job. The president and Bill Shine have been talking for a long time. He was effectively an outside adviser.

But since he has been inside the West Wing, he is at the president's side repeatedly. Coming back from that Helsinki summit just a week and a half ago, it was Bill Shine at the head of the table on Air Force One, talking about a strategy for how to fix this. John Kelly was off to the side.

So, no question, Jake, Bill Shine front and center here, not playing the role of chief of staff, but certainly at the president's beck and call -- Jake.

TAPPER: All right. Jeff Zeleny at the White House for us.

Bring back my experts now.

We should point out that Bill Shine was one of the two people leading the charge to ban CNN's Kaitlan Collins from doing her job as a reporter covering the Rose Garden event yesterday because he and Sarah Huckabee Sanders didn't like her questions.

And, you know, I would like to bring in Ana Navarro on that because I just -- you know, as a journalist, I'm stunned that that actually would take place. You don't (AUDIO GAP) therefore you ban the pool reporter for the day from an event.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: You know, I think there was a silver lining to the entire experience yesterday and what happened yesterday and it's that we saw journalists from across the political spectrum banding together and standing up for each other. I got a tweet from Brett Baier from Fox News remembering when you had done the same thing under Obama.

And if the press wants to have real legitimacy, if the press wants to have any strength, if the press wants to remain a power that holds folks in government accountable, they've got to stick together because what goes around comes around.

Look, Jake, I -- you know, I was born in Nicaragua. There is a cruel dictatorship there.

You know what the first thing that dictators and strongmen do? They go after the free press because they can't handle accountability. They can't handle transparency. They can't answer the tough questions.

And so, this idea of attacking the press, of calling the press the enemy of the people on the week that journalists got shot and killed at "The Gazette", which is something that Donald Trump did is really a threat to a bastion of American democracy and something that should outrage every single American regardless of partisanship, regardless of Trump, regardless of anything. You have to understand that freedom of the press is something that makes America great today. And Donald Trump is not the man that's going to change that. Good luck with that, buddy.

TAPPER: One question I have, though, Joseph, is whether or not Bill Shine did that to please the president. Someone I know who used to work with Bill Shine at Fox News described him to me as the ultimate yes man. I wonder if that's what President Trump needs, if he needs a yes man. I don't know if that is an apt description or not, but that's what this Fox person said.

I don't -- if President Trump needs a yes man versus needing somebody who will be the one to tell him you can't do that and you shouldn't do that --

JOSEPH PINION, CHAIR, CONSERVATIVE COLOR COALITION: Well, look, I think that the reality is I don't think he needs a yes man but I think that is something he might gravitate towards.

[16:35:02] I think the reality is that being chief of staff to President Trump is probably a miserable job. I mean, it is almost akin to trying to save a failing bar by the napkins meanwhile you have a bartender giving away champagne for free. I mean, that's what you're really dealing with.

The fact is that President Trump, whether you like it, whether you hate it, has gotten to where he is by being exactly who he is. And, you know, anytime that your job description is to try to make him less of who he is, you know, the length of time you're going to be in that position is very short, and those days are numbered.

So, I think, you know, the reality is whether you're talking about John Kelly, whether you're talking about Reince Priebus, anytime you are trying to be an individual curtail the president, to actually get him to act in a manner that is not consistent to what he wants to do, good luck.

TAPPER: Bakari, I just want to contemplate for a second if we could that President Trump's White House took issue with a reporter being rude, President Trump's White House.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Yes, that's irony in its fullest. I mean, I think that -- not I think, I know that Donald Trump has lowered the discourse in this country, the political discourse in this country. He has lowered the bar for what it means to be president of this country. He's sullied the Oval Office with his discourse.

But even more importantly, I think that if we just go to the mechanics of how a White House works -- I want to talk about Bill Shine for a moment, because how does he vet, how does someone who leads Fox News in disgrace, whose wife has a history of racially insensitive, if not racist tweets, how does become the communications director for the most powerful person in the world?

It shows you that the White House is, one, dysfunctional. It shows, two, they really don't care about procedures and protocols and they don't care about the people that they put in power. Bill Shine is now representative and he's the voice that people hear that is reflective of America and he is supposed to be the voice that's reflective of me. But I just can't believe that Bill Shine is actually in the White House. That's upsetting.

TAPPER: All right. Everyone, stick around.

The big question now, of course, will they ever see their moms and dads again? What will happen to the hundreds of children that the federal government says cannot be reunited with their parents? Stay with us.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:41:43] TAPPER: Many children, migrant children separated from their parents at the border may never, never see their parents again, not ever. That prediction today from a man who ran Immigration and Customs Enforcement under President Obama as the Trump administration faces another deadline today to reunite every one of the more than 2,000 migrant children who were taken from their parents by the U.S. government. The deadline the government says cannot be completely met.

CNN's Dianne Gallagher is live for us at the border in El Paso, Texas, that's Juarez, Mexico, behind her.

Diane, the Trump administration has various reasons that they cite why they can't reunite every family separated. How many families does that appear to be?

DIANNE GALLAGHER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jake, we are looking at more than 900 parents. And the reasons vary from the fact that they just can't match them up, they can't find them, they don't know where they are, to criminal history of the parents. And mind you, that can be anything from DUI or previous deportation, to something more serious.

But the overwhelming majority, more than half of those parents have already been deported without their children. Their children are in government custody. Their parents are back in their home country or in Mexico, waiting to find something out. And that is why advocates here at the border say that the deadline may be today, but this crisis is far from over.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

(PROTESTERS CHANTING)

GALLAGHER (voice-over): Dozens of demonstrators chanting "yes we can" in Spanish, protesting how hundreds of families can't and won't be reunited. And as the deadline approaches, the stark reality is more than 900 other parents are going to have to keep waiting.

RUBY POWERS, ATTORNEY WORKING WITH MIGRANT FAMILIES: A lot of them are not going to be reunited anytime soon.

GALLAGHER: An attorney who works with migrant families tells CNN the process will be difficult with some parents already deported without their children as part of President Trump's zero tolerance policy.

POWERS: Some people don't have e-mail or phone numbers. They are in remote parts of the countries. And some are not even literate. I mean, this is going to be a challenge.

GALLAGHER: It's not easy even for families who have been reunited. This man and his 11-year-old daughter were separated at the U.S. border for a month. They said they fled Honduras to seek asylum in the U.S.

He said, I beg for her to forgive me. I said, forgive me, daughter, while I was crying, forgive me.

And this reunification of a mother and her daughter from a video that CNN obtained from RAICES, a legal aid service for migrants describing how her daughter was taken away, saying, a person put her in the car and told her that I did not love her, that I did not want to see her and that the girl cried and cried, and that I've signed the deportation papers but that I did not want to see her.

And deportation papers that human rights activist Fernando Garcia says many of the migrants probably didn't even understand. Despite hundreds of families reunited to date, to him, it's not a victory.

(on camera): Is today a good day?

FERNANDO GARCIA, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, BORDER NETWORK FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: No, it's not a good day. Today is not a good day overall because we have not seen any regrets of this administration.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

GALLAGHER: And the thing is here, Jake, that these volunteers, that is the only way that these families, once they are reunified are able to kind of continue on. You have a network across the country that is making sure that they get to the cities they are supposed to go to with volunteers paying for flights, organizations making sure they get on those flights because they may not have documents because many families have their first ICE check in, in a city thousands of miles away in as little as a week.

TAPPER: All right, Dianne Gallagher at the Us-Mexico border, thanks so much. Here's the former head of ICE that I referred to earlier explaining what happens to a lot of these kids when they're separated from their parents. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JOHN SANDWEG, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, ICE: If they have a relative in the U.S. there's a chance that that relative will be appointed their legal guardian but many of the other kids are going to actually go into foster care system and could become wards of the state, it could be subject to adoption. There's a very high likelihood a lot of these parents you know, are never going to see their kids again and all of these kids are actually going to stay in the U.S.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Anna, your reaction.

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Heartbreak, extreme sadness, frustration, anger, look this has been a disaster of the Trump administration's making. Let us not forget that this situation was caused by a unilateral policy decision by this administration. Then after the public outrage, he had a dog-and-pony show where he signed an executive order that he had absolutely no idea, no intention of actually implementing. This is a bureaucratic debacle, it is a legal debacle, it is a humanitarian crisis, and it is frankly completely against American values.

I am very glad that despite everything that has happened in the last ten days, the Helsinki horror, the Twitter -- the tweets, the Mueller investigation, the Cohen tapes, the only way that this humanitarian crisis will ever be addressed and ever be solved is if it continues getting coverage, if we continue seeing the faces and the stories and hearing the voices and hearing the pleas. So we have got to stay on this story because the Trump Administration is counting on us being like he is and having no attention span to keep on -- to focus on one story. We must continue focusing on this until these children are reunited with their families.

TAPPER: Yes, a reminder -- a reminder that the legislative branch of the government, Congress is supposed to be providing oversight over the executive branch. I'm not sure if they remember that. And let me bring you --

NAVARRO: They haven't read that memo.

TAPPER: Yes. And let me bring you into this. Is there any real way that the judiciary, the court, the judges can force the Trump Administration to reunite these children with their parents?

ANNE MILGRAM, FORMER ATTORNEY GENERAL, NEW JERSEY: I mean, I think one of the things that is so stunning to me about this is that you have a Federal Court Judge saying you have to get this done and it is not being done and that is just shocking. I mean, this is not the way our justice system works in our country. And so the judge could hold the administration in contempt. I personally would favor that at this point. I mean, you know, you can't have 900 families that are not being reunited where the government is just not able to find people or deporting parents without their children. And you know, this is just not the way that these processes should work.

And so I would be very strongly in favor of a Federal Judge completely within their authority saying the government can't do this. You're in contempt if you don't fix it. And by the way you can't keep separating families under any circumstances because you've completely shown an inability to do any of the things that the executive order has really promised in terms of reunification on the timetable that you know, that was set. And so you know, to me it's hard to know as a lawyer what to do but I really do believe that the courts have to take a strong and active stance here. The Congress is missing from action on this and quite frankly the administration has done an executive order so the way to control this and get is through the courts.

TAPPER: Joseph, I want you to take a listen to California Democrat Senator Kamala Harris. She had a strong charge to protesters who rallied in support of these families that have been separated. Take a listen.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. KAMALA HARRIS (D), CALIFORNIA: The United States Government is committing an act that is absolutely one of the most inhumane act which is to take babies from their parents and it is important that we all stand up and say we as a country are better than this.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: And that got applause from the crowd. What do you think, Joseph, in terms of the politics of this? Obviously, I'm sure we all agree on the humanity of it that all the parents and -- should be reunited with their children. The politics of this, how do you see the Democrats and their response?

JOSEPH PINION, CHAIRMAN, CONSERVATIVE COLOR COALITION: I mean, look at the first thing that pops into my mind is that that old you know, Twilight Zone episode where they say you know, no man is obsolete. You know, the reality is that in the world no human is illegal and certainly no child is illegal. You know, there is no part of what makes this nation great to say that you're going to enhance American greatness you know by taking children away for their parents. And so I think that irrespective of anyone's political sensibility is the notion that this is going to be a winning issue at the polls to me is ludicrous.

The fact of the matter remains is that at the end of the day, this failure lies on us as a nation and ultimately I think unfortunately the Republican Party is going to be held responsible because those children irrespective of the -- of the decision that their parents may have made to violate the laws of this nation. Nowhere -- you know Martin Luther King Jr. says that all we ask is to be true to what you say on paper. Well, nowhere on paper in this nation is to say their children should be deprived of their parents, that children should become wards of the state, wards of the state by the way where the life outcomes are precipitously worst than the average children that we have living in America every day with their own family. So I think that it's a -- it's a terrible decision ultimately I think that we are going to have some tremendous political backlash.

[16:50:41] TAPPER: What do you think, Bakari, do you think this is an issue that Democrats can use? I don't mean just mean in in blue states but how do you think this will resonate in South Carolina? How do you think this will resonate in North Carolina above places where Republicans traditionally run strong?

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think it is going to resonate. I think it's going to resonate in the Georgia's governor's race for example. When you have a Kemp versus a Stacey Abrams, somebody who's a hardliner who will not stand up against this separation of children from their parents versus Stacey Abrams. You're going to see it in the Tennessee Senate race. You're going to see it down in Mississippi where my guess be running for the United States Senate. So you'll see it in some of these red places but this is an issue of morality and Democrats have seized the high ground with this, and this is now the face of immigration. The face of immigration is now young kids being ripped away from their parents and you know, Trump's going to beat MS-13 into the ground and he's going to say Nancy Pelosi is in a love fest with MS-13 and Gaslight America but that's not the case it's about humanity and basic humanity and the utter incompetence of Secretary Nielsen. She needs to be fired or resigned. She's a disgrace.

TAPPER: All right, everyone, stick around. It's a war that he started himself that the American business community says is already costing jobs and now President Trump is taking credit for fixing it. Let's take a look.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

As you can see, this is actually made of three parts but the machine --

(END VIDEO CLIP)

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[16:55:00] TAPPER: We have some breaking news and our "MONEY LEAD" now. Facebook just suffered the biggest single-day loss for any public company in history. That's according to Thomson Reuters. The stock tanked 19 percent today essentially vaporizing about $119 billion, billion with a B in market value. It's a hit so big that Mark Zuckerberg dropped two spots on the list of the world's richest people. So why did this happen? Apparently, this is the cost of spying on you less. The plunge came after executives warned that revenue growth would slow as Facebook tries to focus more on user privacy. Sticking with the "MONEY LEAD" now, President Trump may say that he is backing off his trade war with the European Union but the actual retreat has not yet happened and there's still another tariff battle with China that seems to be going full-bore. As these trade wars, rage on Americans are taking the hit on almost everything we purchase. Produce at the grocery store, the price of a can of coke or beer get ready for sticker shock if you're in the market to buy a new car. CNN's Tom Foreman filed this report.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

TOM FOREMAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Automobile, aircraft, and motorcycle makers, pharmaceuticals, plastics, and paper products, breweries, wineries, and distilleries, coast-to-coast the message is the same. There's danger ahead in the trade war with China. This is just the beginning for consumers with regards to worrying about price increases that could be coming. Jumps in the cost of steel and aluminum already have companies announcing expected price hikes for power tools, washing machines, can sodas. And many parts of farm country are facing a potential double whammy. Higher costs for equipment and parts from China and lower profits for the products they sell there. Some in Iowa started the year with trade war worries.

The pigs you're probably talking $200 to $300 million impact already. Now, there is talk of less farm money for local stores, restaurants, and shops.

RON HECK, IOWA FARMER: It's a matter of concern when your largest. Soybean export customer is having negotiations with your government.

FOREMAN: That said, rural areas voted overwhelmingly for Trump. The worst prediction so far remain just that predictions and some seem willing to weather the hard times in hopes he can win the better deals he promised.

BRIAN USERY, ALABAMA FARMER: Farmers are tough and we will -- we will find a way to get through it.

FOREMAN: At a stop in Iowa, President Trump nodded to the trade clash with the European Union and acted as if the problem are all in the past although the E.U. has not lifted its retaliatory tariffs.

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: That whole soybean thing is now going to be opened up. No tariffs, no nothing, free trade.

FOREMAN: Still some members of the President's own party are skeptical especially of the big aid package proposed for farm communities. Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, "This trade war is cutting the legs out from under farmers and the White House's plan is to spend $12 billion on gold crutches." Iowa Congressman David Young --

REP. DAVID YOUNG (R), IOWA: What farmers really want, they want trade, they want markets and not necessarily any kind of bailout or aid. But these are --

(END VIDEOTAPE)

FOREMAN: And the pressure on the president could grow. A study by Brookings has concluded that most of the Chinese tariffs, most of them are now targeted at people in counties that voted for Trump. Jake?

TAPPER: Thanks so much, Tom. You can follow me on Twitter @JAKETAPPER or Facebook. I'll be on Stephen Colbert tonight. Our coverage continues now with Wolf Blitzer in, where is he, "THE SITUATION ROOM."