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White House Bans CNN Reporter; Deadline to Reunite Families; Pressure to Reveal Trump-Putin Meeting Discussion. Aired 6:30-7a ET

Aired July 26, 2018 - 06:30   ET

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


(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:30:5] JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Some First Amendment news this morning. The White House banned CNN White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins from a Rose Garden event for asking questions. Kaitlan was acting as the pool reporter, which means she was actually representing all the TV networks. She asked President Trump several questions at the end of an Oval Office photo op for the president of the European Commission. Here's the moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Did Michael Cohen betray you, Mr. President?

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody.

COLLINS: Mr. President --

(CROSS TALK)

COLLINS: Did Michael Cohen betray you?

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE), everybody. (INAUDIBLE), everybody. Thank you, everybody.

COLLINS: Mr. President, are you worried about what Michael Cohen is going to say to prosecutors?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you. Thank you, (INAUDIBLE). Let's keep going. (INAUDIBLE) --

COLLINS: Are you worried about what's on the other tapes, Mr. President?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (INAUDIBLE). Thank you all. Keep going. Thank you, everybody.

TRUMP: Thank you very much, everybody. COLLINS: Why has Vladimir Putin not accepted your invitation?

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Come on. Come on. Thank you.

COLLINS: Mr. President --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, everybody.

(CROSS TALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let's go. We're done. We're done. Let's go.

COLLINS: Why has Vladimir Putin not accepted your invitation, Mr. President?

TRUMP: Thank you very much.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: OK, after that happened, Kaitlan Collins was called into Bill Shine's office. He is a new White House communications chief and the former Fox News executive. Also there was White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders. And Kaitlan says that they told that her that she would be banned from an open press Rose Garden event with the president because her questions were deemed by them, quote, inappropriate.

In a statement, Sarah Sanders said Kaitlan shouted questions, but went on to say the White House supports a free press and asks that everyone be respectful of the presidency and guests at the White House.

Now, to be clear, other reporters who were in the room said that Kaitlan was perfectly respectful. That --

BERMAN: You heard it for yourself. I mean you heard it for yourself.

CAMEROTA: Yes, you could hear her tone. She actually wasn't -- she was trying to get the president to answer. She wasn't rude. She wasn't shouting. That's how it works.

And I know that that scrum could have sounded sort of chaotic if you're not in there. That is sort of standard operating procedure for how it works to try to get the president to answer a question.

BERMAN: So the CNN response for this, which was released, reads in part, this decision to bar a member of the press is retaliatory in nature and not indicative of an open and free press. We demand better. The White House Correspondents Association and journalists from other outlets, including Fox News, to their credit, have expressed solidarity with Kaitlan, blasting the White House for their decision. I have many feelings about this, but let me just say one thing, I do not think Kaitlan in any way wants to be part of the story.

CAMEROTA: Of course not.

BERMAN: She wants to get the story.

CAMEROTA: Of course.

BERMAN: Which is why she was in there just asking questions.

CAMEROTA: Operating for everybody. I mean she was the pool reporter.

BERMAN: Yes.

CAMEROTA: She was asking on behalf of all the networks.

But kudos to our colleagues in the free press. Kudos to Fox News. Kudos to Bret Baier and John Roberts and Jay Wallace at Fox News for standing in solidarity with CNN because I remember in 2009 when this same thing happened, when the Obama administration tried to cut Fox News out of sort of a round robin interview and ABC and CNN stood in solidarity with Fox then and said, you cannot do that to members of the free press. And now Fox is returning the favor, which we really appreciate, and we are all supposed to be in it together. Even though we're competitors, we are all supposed to be in the free press together.

BERMAN: And I bet a lot of White House reporters will continue to ask questions.

CAMEROTA: Good. Let's bank on that.

All right, so, meanwhile, today is the deadline for reuniting those families who were separated at the border. What's the status? Is it going to happen? And where are these hundreds of children this morning? Former acting ICE director, next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:37:30] CAMEROTA: Today is the deadline for the government to reunite all eligible families that were separated at the U.S. border from their children. So joining us now is the former acting director for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE, from 2013 to 2014, John Sandweg.

Mr. Sandweg, thank you very much for being here.

You know, we've been asking for specific numbers from the Department of Homeland Security for weeks, months, OK, and they have never really been able to give them. But, on Tuesday, we got the best specifics that we had been given to date. And here I want to put it up for people.

So there were more than 2,500 children who were separated from their families. One of the officials had said less than 3,000. Given us that vague number. One thousand and twelve families, they say, have been reunited now by the government. Four hundred and sixty-three parents of separated children are no longer in the U.S. Have basically already been deported. One hundred and ninety-one parents will not be reunited because they had criminal records or refusal to reunite. We don't know what that means. Two hundred and sixty cases await further investigation. In other words, we don't really know what's happening with those kids or where they are necessarily.

Do you have any faith that today the deadline that all of those families can be reunited?

JOHN SANDWEG, FORMER ACTING DIRECTOR, U.S. IMMIGRATION AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT: It depends on how you define all those families, right? The administration itself is trying to define what the class is. By that I mean identify, well, these parents are not necessarily eligible to be reunited with their children.

I think you also saw 460 were actually deported, so they can't be reunited. But other than that, apparently 1,600 parents will be reunited with their kids by today's deadline. And I think the judge commended them for this, but only because things were so messed up, you know, a month ago that it's remarkable that they were able to patch this together over the last two weeks.

CAMEROTA: What happens to those 463 kids that their parents have been deported? What happens now?

SANDWEG: Yes, it's 460 parents. So it could be even more kids.

CAMEROTA: Right.

SANDWEG: You know, there's a very good chance they're going to be permanently separated.

Look, you're seeing how far --

CAMEROTA: And then what? Just so that I understand, then they -- they -- they go into the foster care system in the U.S.?

SANDWEG: Yes, they go into the foster care system in the U.S. 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 the foster care system and could become wards of the state, could be subject to adoption. There's a very high likelihood a lot of these parents are never going to see their kids again.

CAMEROTA: Oh, my --

SANDWEG: A lot of these kids are actually going to stay in the U.S.

CAMEROTA: I mean I just want to pause right there, that these parents might never see their children again and their children may be put up for adoption.

Did these parents know that when they came to the United States? Is that a risk that you think they knowingly took coming to the U.S. seeking asylum or for whatever reason they came?

[06:40:13] SANDWEG: No, it certainly wasn't because prior to this, you know, prior to about two months ago, the policy has always been to keep families together. And so I'm quite confident that these families thought that there was very little risk that they were going to actually be separated from their children. They thought there was a risk for sure that they were going to be deported back to their home country, but they were going to be deported back as a family unit. The idea that they could be separated permanently from their children I don't think ever crossed their minds.

CAMEROTA: The administration's position with this zero tolerance policy has been that by dent (ph) of just coming here, just coming to the U.S., these people are criminals. They have committed a criminal act. However, it's legal to come to the U.S. and seek asylum. So since when are they, from the get go, classified as criminals?

SANDWEG: Well, I think that's an important issue. Listen, the administration's tried to characterize this as tough on border security. But this isn't tough border security. Tough border security is getting the criminals, the convicted felons who are trying to sneak across the border. It's breaking up the drug tunnels between San Diego and Tijuana. That's -- that's tough border security.

This was a humanitarian crisis. That doesn't mean these people should have been allowed to stay here. There are processes in place that -- you know, and there are mechanisms that could have been utilized that kept the families together, that gave them a chance to make their claims, you know, adjudicated their claims in an orderly process. And if they failed, they could have been returned.

But this idea that we needed to separate kids and drain all of these resources and all of the time that the border patrol, that ICE and that Health and Human Services had to spend on this problem is shocking to me. It certainly wasn't border security.

CAMEROTA: You know, the Trump administration, as well as so many Americans, are really frustrated by the so-called catch and release policy where people come in illegally, they're caught and then they're turned loose basically in the interior of the United States while they wait sometimes for years for some sort of adjudication. And that was seen as really sort of unsatisfying, frustrating. So -- but this is the opposite extreme. Is there any happy medium between catch and release and this deterrent to separate kids, to drag kids, even babies and toddlers, from their parents?

SANDWEG: Yes, absolutely. Listen, I understand people's frustration with catch and release. You know, a family comes across the border, potentially crosses unlawfully if they don't go through the port of entry. And then because there's no detention capacity, they get released into the United States and they're here for years to come. I can understand why that's frustrating.

But I think what people don't understand is that, that is a problem with the immigration court system and -- that we -- you know, that the administration controls and that through failure to adequately budget and hire new judges and through failure to prioritize these cases, that's the problem with catch and release. The reason people stay in this country for years after being released is not because they flee or they cut off their ankle bracelets. The reason is that they don't have an actual hearing and get a deportation for three, four years to go. But that's something that's easily fixable. And, you know, this idea that we need to separate kids to solve this problem, without any plan, by the way, to actually reunify the kids, is just misleading.

CAMEROTA: John Sandweg, we appreciate you giving us all of your perspective from your time there at ICE. Thank you very much for being on NEW DAY.

SANDWEG: Thank you.

CAMEROTA: John.

BERMAN: So what did President Trump and Russian Leader Vladimir Putin agree to? What did happen when they stood side by side? Thomas Friedman, foreign affairs columnist for "The New York Times" writes, it was obvious I was seeing a U.S. president put Russia first, not America first. Thomas Friedman joins us next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:46:58] BERMAN: An arson suspect accused of setting a number of California wildfires, including the out of control Carnston fire, is now in police custody. Thirty-two-year-old Brandon McGlover is facing five counts of arson related charges. The Cranston fire has scorched 4,700 acres and is zero percent contained. More than 500 firefighters are now battling this blaze. Close to 2,200 homes have been evacuated. The Ferguson fire has scorched more than 41,000 acres and is just 26 percent contained. Part of Yosemite National Park closed due to the fire which started almost two weeks ago. More than 17,000 firefighters and support personnel are battling wildfires at this moment across the west.

CAMEROTA: All right, we want to issue a clarification. During a segment yesterday we discussed how the official White House transcript from the Helsinki summit between President Trump and Vladimir Putin omits a portion of a question asked by Jeff Mason, a "Reuters" reporter. Mason asked, President Putin, did you want President Trump to win the election? And did you direct any of your officials to help him do that? Putin responded saying, yes, I did. But the White House transcript only quotes Mason as asking, and did you direct any of your officials to help him do that? In a graphic that we aired and in a statement that we made, we reported that the White House had deleted the question about wanting the president to win from the transcript. The White House has since explained that that discrepancy was caused by a technical glitch because of overlap between the translation of Putin's remarks and the first part of Jeff Mason's question. So the audio feed that the stenographer used picked up Putin's translator and did not cut to Mason until the overlap had concluded.

BERMAN: A White House official tells CNN, quote, this was by no means malicious. It is worth noting, it has now been more than a week since the Trump-Putin meeting and the white House has not corrected that omission in its publicly available official transcript, though they have now given an explanation verbally for how that error occurred.

CAMEROTA: I can't tell you, John, how relieved I am to read this clarification. I was so concerned yesterday that it was intentional. The idea that it is a technical glitch is such a relief because the idea that they would be intentionally scrubbing something from the official record on the day that it came out, as you know, when President Trump said at his rally, and just remember, what you're seeing and what you're reading is not what's happening. That made it seem as though there was something happening behind the scenes. But the idea, a technical glitch, that is a huge relief.

BERMAN: As we heard what Jeff Mason asked.

All right, Thomas Friedman when we come back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[06:53:41] BERMAN: There are still so many questions about what transpired between President Trump and Russian Leader Vladimir Putin during the Helsinki meeting. In a new column for "The New York Times," Thomas Friedman asked, the president went to Helsinki to put, quote, America first or Trump first?

Joining us now is "New York Times" foreign affairs columnist and author of the best seller "Thank You for Being Late," Thomas Friedman, who arrived here on time this morning.

Tom, let me read you the top of this column because I think it's very interesting. The second I finished watching President Trump fawning over Vladimir Putin in Helsinki, refusing to defend the collusions of his own intelligence services about Russia's interference in our 2016 elections, I knew I was seeing something I'd never seen before. It took a few days to figure it out, but it's now obvious. I was seeing a U.S. president put Russia first, not America first.

So after these few days and now a few days more, how did you reach that conclusion?

THOMAS FRIEDMAN, FOREIGN AFFAIRS COLUMNIST, "THE NEW YORK TIMES": Well, you know, it was obvious watching the whole thing and I really meant what I said, you know, John, you know, watching it, you really knew you were seeing something you had never seen before. And what you were seeing is on -- on the two key questions, was Russia, at Putin's direction, involved in interfering in our 2016 election on behalf of the president and how should that be dealt with in the future, this notion that we would actually send members of the Mueller team to Russia to question the people who -- Russians who were indicted over that issue.

[06:55:05] On both of these key questions, I saw the president of the United States side not with the conclusions of the FBI, the CIA, his entire intelligence community, not side with the Justice Department and the State Department on just common sense, the notion that we would send a former ambassador over to be interrogated. On these key issues, we saw the president of the United States side with the Russian president not with his own government. CAMEROTA: And, Tom, not only did he put Russia first, as you lay out

so eloquently, he also blamed America for the tension with Russia because of their interference, their cyberwarfare. He blamed America. And just to remind viewers, in the president's own words, here is that moment.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I hold both countries responsible. I think that the United States has been foolish. I think we've all been foolish. We should have had this dialogue a long time ago. A long time, frankly, before I got to office. And I think we're all to blame. I do feel that we have both made some mistakes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

CAMEROTA: The United States has been foolish, he said, and he didn't criticize Russia there. Remember, Tom, when Republicans didn't like president's on foreign soil casting any sort of blame on the United States?

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, from the beginning of this process, one of the things that's shocked me most, Alisyn, is the willingness of Republicans, and even Republican national security experts like John Bolton who a year ago -- now the president's national security advisor, but when he was just a conservative commentator a year ago called Russia's intervention on our election an act of war. And now, as the president's national security advisor, is calling it a witch hunt.

The most shocking thing about all of this is the willingness of so many Republicans in office to abase themselves, to lay down their ethics and morals for a president who is not only himself a deeply indecent person, but who is lying time and again. Their willingness to do that for a president that would sell each and every one of them down the river in a split second if it served his interest, it's shocking to see so many Republicans lay themselves down that way. As I noted in my column, at least Stormy Daniels got paid for her silence.

BERMAN: So you note, as you're laying this all out there, that you think all this pushes the United States into a new phase in the Trump presidency. One where you were very concerned about unintended consequences. What does that mean?

FRIEDMAN: Well, you know, John, when you -- when you do so many things that the president is doing right now from a trade war with Russia to a -- with -- sorry, with China and our European allies and Canada, to all of the other things he is doing on the world stage, none of them, the process of any interagency review, let alone hearings. Let's just take the trillion -- the tax cut for corporations. I actually support the tax cut for corporations, but it should have been balanced off with a tax hike on some other products and services, otherwise we're going to end up with $1 trillion more in debt. That's going to push up interest rates. That will strengthen the dollar. And, by the way, that will increase the trade deficit. And now we're seeing that come through. Remember -- you remember what the president and Republicans said, that

tax cuts will pay for themselves. Well, the data out just yesterday shows that's not happening at all. So you're going to get all of these unintended consequences that are bouncing off one another.

CAMEROTA: But, Tom, is it, to quote James Carville, just the economy, stupid? I mean are the Republicans doing what you say and sort of compromising what they previously held very close as their dear principals because the economy is doing well, and the unemployment rate at the moment is down and all of the things are humming on all cylinders.

FRIEDMAN: You know, Alisyn, if I were to burn all the furniture in my house, I could really keep it pretty warm and toasty for a while. But when the fire goes out, I'll have nowhere to sit. That's really what I'm -- I'm worried about right now.

Let's take the trade issue for a second. How would I think a rational president approach this? First of all, let me be very clear, I have supported the president on the China trade issue. We have a trade problem with China.

[06:59:49] China got rich over the last 30 years through hard work, investing in infrastructure, investing in education, delayed gratification and cheating on WTO rules, non-reciprocal trade arrangements and general shenanigans about not allowing our companies the same access we allow theirs. They got rich over the last 30 years around tennis shoes, t-shirts and solar panels with that strategy.