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Deadline for Family Reunification Plan; Trump's Attack on Probe; TSA Considers Eliminating Screening; Mueller Questions for Trump; Giuliani Talks Midterm Elections. Aired 8:30-9:00a ET

Aired August 2, 2018 - 08:30   ET


[08:30:00] ALISYN CAMEROTA, CNN ANCHOR: Hundreds of children who were separated from their parents at the border and are still not back together. The problem is, many of those parents have been deported or cannot be located.

Joining us now is the deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project and lead attorney in the ACLU's lawsuit against the government, Lee Gelernt.

Lee, thank you for being here.


CAMEROTA: OK, so today is the day that the Trump administration has to submit their plans for how they're going to find these parents and reunite these parents, and you have to as well. Why is the onus on you to come up with a plan?

GELERNT: Yes. I think what the judge has ultimately determined is that if the government's left to their own devices, they're not going to find the parents or they're not going to do it quickly. So we have said, look, we just want these children back together. If there's any way we can help, we will. So we have organized NGOs all over this country and all over the world to help find these parents. All we are asking from the government is, give us some information about these parents so we can find them. Right now we have a name and a country, some addresses here or there. We don't know if the addresses are accurate. We believe the government has phone numbers. We want the phone numbers. Any information that will help us track these parents.

CAMEROTA: The last number that we had, OK, official number from the administration was 510 kids whose parents had been deported. Is that the number you have?

GELERNT: We've been given different numbers. We're not exactly sure how many there are. I --

CAMEROTA: How is that possible? How is it possible that the government is not able to give us an accurate number of how many kids are still here and separated?

GELERNT: Yes, they gave you 510 this morning. Then we're going to go with that. But the last number we got from them was 431.

CAMEROTA: Why is it all over the map?

GELERNT: You know, I think it's all over the map because they took these children away. They should never have taken them away in the beginning. Certainly, as the judge pointed out, they should have had a plan for tracking the parents. The judge has made clear that they had no plan. They just took these kids away and didn't track the families.

CAMEROTA: How are you ever going to find these parents?

GELERNT: Yes, that's a good question. But I'm hopeful. The government, we believe, has enough information for our NGOs on the ground in Central America and here to track the parents. I can't promise that we're going to find everyone, but we're hopeful.

CAMEROTA: But I appreciate your optimism. And, obviously, it -- that's what it's going to take.


CAMEROTA: But if you only just have a name of a parent and maybe a town --


CAMEROTA: Is that what you have? Do you even have a town?

GELERNT: Well, we have some addresses now. We don't know if they're the last addresses. But we have some addresses for some of them. We believe the government has some phone numbers. We're going to have to do whatever we can. I mean a lot of the families speak indigenous languages. We know what parts of Guatemala and Honduras they -- that language is spoken. It's going to be tough, but we're not giving up hope. And that's why we're asking the government to give us any information you have. The more the better.

CAMEROTA: There is a narrative that we have heard on the Trump administration's side that says, well, these parents voluntarily gave up their parental rights. They left their kids here. Is that true?

GELERNT: We don't think that's true. If we find some parents who said, oh, I fully understood my rights and wanted to give up my child, then so be it. But if the government really believes that all 400 to 500 knowingly gave up their children, then there should be no problem with us talking to them. We doubt very much and we know that a lot of parents were confused about what was happening.

CAMEROTA: Can you just explain what the process was? Did they present parents with paperwork in English and say, sign here on the dotted line?

GELERNT: We know they've been doing that now. For these parents who have already been deported, we have no idea what happened. We have no idea if they signed a form, whether they were just orally asked, do you want to leave without your children. We believe some parents thought their child would actually meet them on the plane. The plane takes off. The child's not there.

We have no idea what's happened with these parents who were deported. We know right now that a lot of parents are signing forms. They're presented only in English. They're coerced. They're misled. They have two minutes to understand their rights. We have -- it could have even been worse for the parents who are already deported.

CAMEROTA: The idea that some parents got on a plane thinking their children were going to meet them there, and then the plane took off, I mean it's really a nightmare scenario.

GELERNT: It absolutely is. I mean it's the worst thing I can imagine is losing your child. I mean what about the parents who thought they were asking for their children back but misunderstood the form and now are -- can't believe that because of their own confusion, they may lose their child. It is a nightmare.

CAMEROTA: Lee Gelernt, you have a herculean task ahead of you to try to reunite these kids with their parents. Best of luck. Please keep us posted every day.

GELERNT: I will. Thank you for having me.

CAMEROTA: Thank you for being here.


DAVID GREGORY, CNN ANCHOR: Alisyn, almost 17 years after the 9/11 attacks, the TSA is now considering a major airport security change. A CNN exclusive report is coming up next.


[08:38:40] JOHN AVLON, CNN ANCHOR: For the first time, President Trump has called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to personally step in and end what he calls the rigged witch hunt Russia investigation, right now. Now, this is reality challenged on a number of levels. First, it ignores the fact that has frustrated Trump since Session recused himself from the Russia investigation. Namely that the attorney general can't end the special counsel investigation. Only the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, can do that for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest or for other good cause. Mueller is guilty of none of that.

Second, explicitly calling on Sessions to send the investigation would certainly seem like an invocation to obstruction of justice, especially since, according to "The New York Times," the Mueller team is looking at Trump's tweets for exactly that. Now, on a persistent schoolyard taunt level, it's worth noting that the special counsel investigation, led by Mueller, is neither rigged nor a witch hunt, but facts don't often deter this president from playing verbal offense. He's a master marketer, trying to impose a new association on the investigation so that his supporters will ignore the results no matter what they determine.

Nonetheless, there's an increasingly desperate edge to his screaming witch hunt at the special counsel. In fact, as the Russia investigation heats up, he seems to use it more and more. For example, only three times in May of 2017, but 20 times in May of '18.

[08:40:03] Now, Trump is not the first president to cry witch hunt. Witness exhibit a, Richard Nixon insisting that there was nothing to see in Watergate. And we all know how that turned out.

But neither party has a monopoly on virtue or vice and new statistics say Democrats may have to revise one of their favorite rallying cries, specifically that the Trump economy and the impact of his tax cuts haven't benefitted main street. But new data from the Department of Labor shows that American workers on average just got their biggest raise in almost a decade in terms of wages and benefits. Now, whether this will outweigh rising consumer (ph) prices remains to be seen.

One final note. "The Washington Post" is out with its latest survey of the truthfulness of President Trump. And as of day 558 of his presidency, more than 4,200 of Trump's claims were determined to be false or misleading. That's an average of nearly eight false or misleading claims a day from the president, many of them which could simply be called lies.

And that's your "Reality Check."

CAMEROTA: All right, John, if you could come over here for a moment.

AVLON: I'd be delighted.

CAMEROTA: Stroll on over because we actually would like to squeeze another "Reality Check" out of you today. We'd like to get a twofer, if you don't mind.

AVLON: We've got plenty of them to do.

CAMEROTA: OK. It's because Sarah Sanders, press secretary at the White House, said something yesterday that we feel demands your attention. Here's what Sarah Sanders said about the Russia investigation.


SARAH SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: The entire investigation is based off of a dirty, discredited dossier that was paid for by an opposing campaign.


AVLON: "Reality Check," that is false.


AVLON: That is false. And we all know that to be false. The investigation did not begin with the dossier.

CAMEROTA: But it was part of it. The dossier was a part of it, but it wasn't the entire investigation, right? AVLON: The FBI investigation begins when George Papadopoulos starts

shooting his mouth off to diplomats in London about allegedly knowing about this DNC hack. And it's also worth noting that the dossier was initially funded by Republicans, who were opposing then-candidate Trump and then was picked up by folks associated with the Democratic campaign.

CAMEROTA: Right. But to be clear, the dossier -- what I call the dossier -- as you call the --

AVLON: Well, are there other terms for it?

CAMEROTA: Well, you said the dossier.

GREGORY: Dossier.


CAMEROTA: So, dosido (ph) to you.

AVLON: Tomato/tomato.

CAMEROTA: But it is -- it was a portion of it. We just don't know. They've never clarified how much for the FISA warrant was the dossier and how much was George Papadopoulos and other things that the FBI had already gathered.

AVLON: Trying to persistently hang the investigation and the special counsel on the dossier is fundamentally false.

GREGORY: All right, John Avlon, for that "Reality Check." 3

CAMEROTA: Thank you, John Avlon.

GREGORY: Thank you so much.

Now to a CNN exclusive. The TSA is considering eliminating passenger screening at more than 150 small and medium-sized airports across the U.S. Internal documents suggest the move will cut costs, but does it jeopardize public safety?

CNN's Rene Marsh live in Washington with more on this.

Rene, good morning.


All of these internal documents are recent, from June and July, and the documents show that TSA is, indeed, considering allowing thousands of passengers to board commercial airplanes across the United States without being screened. Now, the proposal calls for the elimination of TSA screening at small and some medium-sized airports that operate commercial planes with 60 seats or fewer. TSA's analysis estimates the move would save $115 million and that could be used to bolster security at large airports. Now, the proposal doesn't list exactly which airports could be

impacted, but says that screening would be eliminated at more than 150 airports. TSA currently screens passengers at 440 airports.

Now, the way this would work, passengers and their luggage arriving from these smaller airports would be screened when they arrive at major ones because the operating theory behind this proposal is that terrorists aren't interested in targeting small aircraft, they want the big payoff like hundreds of passengers on a large passenger plane.

But national security experts disagree. They say ISIS' message is to attack any way you can, even if it's a small attack. I can tell you that the reaction has been swift from the industry, from Capitol Hill, saying this is a dangerous idea. And after our story broke, TSA did send out talking points to all of its senior leadership at airports nationwide, essentially saying that no final decision has been made. And they go on to say that they are committed to their core mission, but they -- they don't deny that this is something that is under consideration.


CAMEROTA: I'll take it, Rene. But I mean the problem is, of course, that once the terrorists know that there's no TSA at these smaller airports --


CAMEROTA: They may change their plans.

MARSH: And the pushback in the two whistle-blowers who spoke to me said this is a clear lack of imagination for how the weaknesses at these small airports could be exploited.

CAMEROTA: Rene Marsh, thank you very much for bringing us all of that.

[08:44:55] Meanwhile, team Trump is considering a new offer from Robert Mueller's team. So we'll tell you what these offers are back and forth in "The Bottom Line."


GREGORY: President Trump's legal team is now considering the latest offer from Special Counsel Robert Mueller who is offering to reduce the number of obstruction-related questions, but he wants those questions answered in person. Will Trump accept those terms? We're going to get "The Bottom Line" now from CNN's political director David Chalian.

David, you think this is really not something that ever, ever materializes in terms of an interview with the president?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: I don't know that that's true. I thought that for a while, David, but the president is clearly insistent here. I don't want to say he's sort of dismissing his legal counsel. They're still working to get the parameters worked out here. But -- but certainly he is working against the counsel that they're providing publicly. Rudy Giuliani has stated he'd like to see no interview, and yet the president is keeping this negotiation that's been going on for eight months alive and telling his team to go back and find a way to do this. And I find it really interesting that the Mueller team has conceded to the notion that they will accept some answer in writing and not in an interview form, which I think many observers early on thought that Mueller may never agree to something like that.


[08:50:18] GREGORY: Right. He must want something, even if he gets it in limited form, it's still worth getting him on the record for the final report.

CAMEROTA: But that's not the final point -- the negotiating point where they've landed.



CAMEROTA: I think that they said if they were able to ask follow up questions, and I think that that's what the Trump team is balking at, they don't want any follow up questions. So I don't think that they have yet found some common ground on, OK, we'll just do written questions and answers.

CHALIAN: Alisyn, that's true, but we certainly also don't know conversely that Mueller has said, if no follow ups, the whole thing must be in person or a subpoena's coming your way. We don't know that either.

GREGORY: David, I -- I'm really focused, and have been on the past couple of days, about just how much of a political process this is, a public process. The mere fact that Rudy Giuliani conducts himself the way he does, and in your interview with him this week, one of the salient points was, look, there will be a report. We'll argue our side of it. The others will argue their side of it. And then Congress looks at it.

And, you know, in a way that the Clintons did back in 1998, the Trump team has been so effective, it seems to me, in trying to undermine this investigation in the public consciousness. It's hard for me to imagine that Mueller is going to surprise us, and, yet, of course, he may.

CHALIAN: Right. And I think it -- Giuliani's right in what he's saying. I mean this -- we have seen this, while it's playing out in a legal realm, it always going to culminate in a political arena. And -- and so this report is going to go to Congress. And, David, you are absolutely right, I think Trump's team has been quite skillful in diminishing Mueller's standing, making sure their own side and their base is completely opposed to this investigation and see it as illegitimate and therefore taking the polarizing times of our body politic and using that to their advantage so that there's no slam dunk case here when it goes to The Hill, but that it will be part of the to and fro politically.

That's why I think it is so important as to the timing as to when these -- this report may emerge up in Congress. Is this going to happen before the election with Republicans in charge of Congress, or is this something that if indeed the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives in November, and then a report gets issued, that's an entirely different landscape for the president.

CAMEROTA: But, David, just to be clear, this is not apples and apples. I mean I know that, obviously, you guys know that. But this is, after a year and a half of documents and interviews and research and an investigative team looking at the evidence, versus when the report comes out Rudy Giuliani's thoughts and the president's feelings about this. It's not apples and apples.

CHALIAN: It's not. But I think what -- what I think what Giuliani was saying, Alisyn, was that he -- they're going to put out and fight over sort of the political turf of their interpretation of those facts and evidence and detailed specifics that Mueller will include in any of his reports. It's unclear if they will be persuasive at the end of the day to the American people.

What is clear is that the Senate math is in their favorite and the sort of impeachment or removing the president from office seems an entirely unlikely outcome in this -- at the end of the day and so therefore there -- this is going to be about public perception and who wins that argument. And that's something that they've been, you know, preparing for and fighting on for months now.

GREGORY: And whether this is a referendum on impeachment, here was Rudy Giuliani speaking about this yesterday.


RUDY GIULIANI, PRESIDENT TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: I have to say this, and I say this in my role not as a lawyer but as a concerned citizen and Republican, but this election is going to be about impeachment or no impeachment.


GREGORY: And every Democrat or independent that we've spoken to on this show, that I've asked about this, this week, has been extremely cautious about saying that impeachment is a good idea. I just don't think that they -- and, again, they want to wait and see what the report is, but they're going to want to be very cautious about going down that road.

CHALIAN: Some of them. The leaders are of the party.


CHALIAN: But not a lot of folks in the grassroots, energy, liberal energy in the party that's causing so much enthusiasm that we've seen for Democrat (INAUDIBLE) this year. A lot of those folks have signed on to the notion that there should be impeachment. So there's going to be a divide inside the Democratic Party on that.

But what Rudy Giuliani is saying there is a pure political strategy.


CHALIAN: He's looking to enliven his Republican base to make it about impeachment. That is clearly not the Democratic playbook at the moment for 2018.

GREGORY: Right. That worked pretty well for Bill Clinton back in 1998, as we remember.

I don't know how it gets better than David Chalian with "The Bottom Line."

CAMEROTA: Absolutely.


GREGORY: But apparently "The Good Stuff" is coming up next.


Thanks, David.


[08:58:48] CAMEROTA: Oh, OK. It's time for "The Good Stuff."

No, he's not from the planet Krypton, he's not Kryptonian, just human. Ten-year-old Clark Kent Apuada is Superman in the pool. Over the weekend, this swimming phenom shattered Michael Phelps' longest standing record set in 1995. Clark Kent beat Phelps' time in the 100 meter butterfly by more than a second. Not only is he fast, he's wise.


CLARK KENT APUADA, BEAT ONE OF MICHAEL PHELPS' RECORDS: Always have fun and never give up on your dreams, no matter what anybody says. And, yes, that was one of my dreams to beat Michael Phelps' record since I was seven.


CAMEROTA: My gosh, that is wonderful wisdom.

Phelps went on to win 28 Olympic medals. So I guess he's fine.


CAMEROTA: Clark Kent has been swimming competitively for just four years. Can you believe that?

GREGORY: Wow. You know, do your best, try hard and crush other people in the water. I think that was --

CAMEROTA: That's your motto.

GREGORY: That piece of the soundbite that was left off.

No, that's a great -- that's a great attitude. When you're named Clark Kent, you've got to expect good things.

CAMEROTA: Yes. You also have to live up to that sort of level of flight.


Apparently this is all the time that's been allotted for you and I to report the news this morning.

CAMEROTA: That's too bad.

GREGORY: I thought there might have been a little bit more, but --

CAMEROTA: Yes. Well, tomorrow.

GREGORY: I get to see you tomorrow.

[09:00:01] CAMEROTA: There is tomorrow.

GREGORY: But now time for CNN "NEWSROOM" with Poppy Harlow. Have a good day.

POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: All right. Good morning, everyone. I'm Poppy Harlow in New York. So glad you're with me this morning.