Return to Transcripts main page
Federal Judge Threatens to Hold A.G. Sessions in Contempt; Trump's Hypocrisy on Chain Migration as First Lady's Parents Become Citizens; Ingraham Walks Back Comments After David Duke Endorsement; Trump Doubles Tariffs on Turkey in Dramatic Standoff. Aired 1:30-2p ET
Aired August 10, 2018 - 13:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[13:31:16] JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: A federal judge erupted at the Trump administration over the deportation of two asylum seekers, a mother and her daughter, who were sent back to El Salvador while their cases were still under appeal. The judge ordered the plane to turn around after it already landed in El Salvador. And even warned that if the two were brought back promptly, he would demand that U.S. officials explain, quote, "why people should not be held in contempt of court, and I'm going to start with the attorney general." That from the judge in that case. The two were brought back to the U.S.
With me now is Mark Krikorian. He heads the Center for Immigration Studies, a conservative immigration think tank here in Washington that favors stricter immigration policies. And Raul Reyes, a lawyer and immigration analyst.
Mark, let me ask you first. Do you think the administration is going overboard with deportations and that this case illustrates that?
MARK KRIKORIAN, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: No, it doesn't, because this kind of thing actually happens kind of frequently. It's a huge organization, Homeland Security, and wires get crossed. One of my analysts, in fact, used to be a prosecutor for the INS, used to be an immigration judge. He said it happened to him with one of his cases. You know, these things happen. They found out about it later. The people never even got off the plane. The whole thing about holding the attorney general in contempt, and what have you, that's show boating by the judge because this is the kind of screw-up that frankly happens, and it was resolved. It's not even really a story.
ACOSTA: And, Raul, is this just a screw-up, or is this part of a larger problem with the administration when it comes to how it handles immigration on the border?
RAUL REYES, CNN IMMIGRATION ANALYST: Well, sure, in my view, it does speak to a larger problem with this administration in two ways. Number one, there's a great deal, a great lack of transparency and oversight in our immigration system. So you know, maybe these types of things do happen. Maybe these so-called screw-ups do occur. The fact is most of them we never even hear about because of the way our immigration system is set up. The fact they happen here and there does not make them OK. In fact, these people, although they've gone through this strange situation, this woman whose pseudonym is Carmen, they're actually the lucky ones because they have legal representation. Their case is being picked up through the ACLU and, so far, seems to be proceeding through the legal channels.
But second of all, this is problematic because the Trump administration has come forth very strongly against asylum, which is a legal right that people have if they qualify. Our last fiscal year, the United States only admitted a total of 20,000 people from all over the world. They only granted 20,000 people asylum. That's roughly equivalent to a small town. At a time when we have an unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, 6.5 million jobs going unfilled, why is this administration seeking to close off legal channels of immigration?
ACOSTA: And, Mark, I want to move to the issue of the first lady's parents being granted citizenship yesterday. Obviously, we congratulate the first family on her parents becoming U.S. citizens and being a part of this great country.
But the president has come out against what he calls chain migration, family based immigration, repeatedly over the years. At one point putting this tweet out, saying, "Chain migration must end now." Saying, "some people come in and they bring their whole family with them, who can be truly evil. No acceptable"
How is it appropriate for the first lady to use chain migration and other people are not able to use that?
KRIKORIAN: Well, everybody is able to use it because the rules are still there. There's no --
ACOSTA: Well, but the president wants to end that, Mark. You know that.
ACOSTA: The president wants to end that. So why is it OK for the first lady to do it and all of these other people not able to do it?
KRIKORIAN: My point is everybody now is able to do it. If the rules change, then the first lady wouldn't be able to do it either. Look, it's kind of like say the mortgage interest deduction. There are real arguments that's a bad idea. You know, when you fill out your taxes, deduct your mortgage interest, home mortgage interest from your income. There's arguments, sound arguments, I don't know where I fall on that, but there are sound arguments we should get rid of it. Does that mean that if you believe in those arguments you should not take the mortgage interest deduction? It would be ridiculous.
[13:35:18] ACOSTA: Let me ask you this.
KRIKORIAN: The point is --
ACOSTA: You're against this use of chain migration. Mark, if I could ask you this, do you think the first lady's parents should have been blocked from coming into the country?
KRIKORIAN: If we had changed the rules before then, yes. Actually, wait, let me qualify that. Because the bill that the president was promoting that actually almost passed in the House would not have prevented the first lady's parents from coming. It just would have not given them green cards. They would have been able to stay with a renewable visitor visa so they didn't end up going on Medicare. In a sense, this specific example doesn't even highlight what the critics are trying to say, that it's hypocritical or ironic or something. It actually isn't. The president --
ACOSTA: Raul, do you see this as hypocritical?
REYES: Sure. You know, I think in theory, yes, it's easy to look at this and say it is hypocritical. I recall when President Trump warned against chain migration in his last State of the Union.
Honestly, I wish Melania Trump's parents all the best.
The reason chain migration is because is because, number one, it promotes assimilation in this country. It allows foreign nationals to cut their ties with their home country. It promotes these immigrants having economic success here, not being dependent on government assistance, because it allows them to create their own network here of friends, family, and relatives. Finally, it's a plus for the United States because it allows the United States to attract the best talent from all over the world. If we are bringing in a top scientist or engineer but he's not able to sponsor his wife or maybe brother who's he's very close to, he's likely to not come. For all those reasons, I believe chain migration is good. I wish Melania Trump's parents success in country. When we start closing off legal channels of immigration such as the so-called chain migration, all it does is incentivizes illegal immigration, which I think we can all agree is not a good thing.
ACOSTA: All right. Raul Reyes and Mark Krikorian, that was a short period of time for a very interesting debate. Thank, again, to both of you for joining us.
REYES: Thank you.
KRIKORIAN: Thank you.
ACOSTA: Appreciate it.
Coming up, a year since the Charlottesville protest. Spike Lee, in a new interview, says the president is a bull horn for racism and says racists have a green light from the White House.
Plus, a FOX News host tries to walk back her controversial comments that many critics are saying echo white supremacist rhetoric. What she said and the blowback, next.
[13:42:22] ACOSTA: FOX News host, Laura Ingraham, is being accused of feeding white nationalist sentiment with comments she made on her show this week. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LAURA INGRAHAM, FOX HOST, THE INGRAHAM ANGLE: In some parts of the country, it does seem like the America that we know and love doesn't exist anymore. Massive demographic changes have been foisted upon the American people, and they're changes that none of us ever voted for and most of us don't like. From Virginia to California, we see stark examples of how radically in some ways the country has changed. Now, much of this is related to both illegal and, in some cases, legal immigration that, of course, progressives love.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Now, Ingraham appeared to walk back or at least clarify those words on air last night after former KKK leader, David Duke, publicly came out in support of her comments.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
INGRAHAM: A message to those who are distorting my views, including all white nationalists, and especially one racist freak whose name I will not even mention, you do not have my support, you don't represent my views, and you are antithetical to the beliefs I hold dear.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
ACOSTA: Joining me now is S.E. Cupp, a CNN political commentator and host of HLN's "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED."
S.E., many call those remarks blatantly racist. Anthony Scaramucci, the former White House communications director, called them un- American. You saw Laura Ingraham sort of forcefully try to walk that back in saying this was not about race. But you wrote an op-ed about this, S.E. What's your take on all of this?
S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR & HLN HOST, "S.E. CUPP UNFILTERED": Look, when everyone hears it the same way, the problem isn't we're distorting it. The problem is we heard you perfectly the first time. She was not ambiguous about the point she was trying to make. She made it in three, four different ways. Finally, she explicitly said that America's unrecognizable today because of both legal and illegal immigration. There's nothing to distort there.
So when white supremacists get your meaning, when David Duke gets your meaning, and indeed when, you know, critics get your meaning, I think she said it exactly how she wanted to the first time.
ACOSTA: And, S.E., when Laura Ingraham comes out and says the second time that she disavows white nationalism, disavows David Duke, though she didn't want to mention him by name in that second clip, what do you make of that denunciation? Is that enough? I think I saw something about you said no take backs or something on Twitter about all of this.
[13:45:00] CUPP: Yes, you know, to say she was not talking about race is laughable. Again, she was explicit about her -- the changing demographics. She wasn't talking about the country getting younger. She was talking about immigration, explicitly. You don't get to just say, that's not what I meant, you're taking me out of context. We took you in context because you gave us plenty of it.
The problem isn't, for me, Laura Ingraham per se. It's the millions of people who agree with her. If you leave a major city and step into any small town, rural community, or even a suburb, you will not have to look far or long to find someone who agrees with this. Plenty of Trump voters agree that people who don't look like them are the reason for all of their problems. Now, some of that fear is rational, of course. But some of that fear is real. I think we need to start listening to people who have this sort of fear and loathing in this country and not pretend that Laura Ingraham is alone on an island in this belief.
ACOSTA: Right. And, S.E., some people use the phrase "white nationalism." You hear this phrase thrown around a lot, instead of "white supremacy." What to you make of that shift in language? Because, you know, honestly, it wasn't that long ago in the news business we just called it white supremacy or white supremacist. Now all the sudden, there's this term white nationalism and white nationalists. Is that just an attempt by some to try to mainstream hate speech and people who are just trying to divide Americans and pit Americans against Americans? What do you think of that?
CUPP: Yes, it's an interesting point. There's long been an effort on the far, far right and in other, you know, racist circles to conflate rank racism with some kind of patriotism, some kind of love of country. The two in most people's mind, I think, are very different things. I think you can love this country and still love our diversity and still love immigration as a concept while maybe critiquing illegal immigration and some of the problems it's created. But I think calling it nationalism is that attempt to make this normalized, to make it sound like you just love your country a whole lot. And it's not the case. It's white supremacy. It's racism. And it's fear of the other. It's a fear that is stoked by this White House. It's courted, it's flirted with, it's winked at all the time. And certainly his favorite news network at FOX News. Again, I have to wonder if, you know, my friends at FOX News, people like Bret Baier, people like Shep Smith, people, you know, I wonder if they're mortified by that. I wonder if they're uncomfortable with what she said. If so, I'd like to hear that.
ACOSTA: I think a lot of them are, S.E. Honestly, I talked to my colleagues at FOX, counterparts at FOX all the time, and you do get that sense from talk to them, that they're frankly embarrassed by some of the things said in the later hours of their programming on that network.
But, S.E., thanks very much for that perspective.
ACOSTA: We appreciate your time. Of course, congratulations on your move over to CNN. Your show is coming over from HLN to CNN starting August 25th on Saturday evenings. It's going to be a great show.
ACOSTA: Of course, S.E. bringing a diverse point of view to CNN where we have diverse points of view.
S.E., thanks very much.
CUPP: Thanks, Jim.
ACOSTA: Coming up, a new report details how U.S. officials scrambled to protect a NATO deal from President Trump. We'll have details straight ahead.
[13:53:04] ACOSTA: President Trump getting tough on Turkey, tweeting that relations are not good. The president announced that he's doubling steel tariffs on Turkey to 50 percent. The president also talking in that tweet about Turkey's falling currency. This move by the Trump administration is a result of a dispute over American Pastor Andrew Brunson who has been held for more than a year and a half on charges relate to the 2017 coup attempt in Turkey.
Let's bring in our CNN national security analyst, Sam Vinograd. She is also a former senior advisor to the National Security Council under President Obama.
Sam, Turkey, as you know, is a major NATO ally and partner, extremely important to the U.S. in that region. They maintain two military bases in that country. What do you see in this tweet from the president? What is he doing here and why is it important?
SAM VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: I think we're going to see a continued escalation between the United States and Turkey, for one, because neither Erdogan or President Trump like to back down when publicly cornered. And, two, because we're probably not going to give Erdogan what he wants, which is the extradition of a Muslim cleric living in the United States.
What we are definitely going to see is President Erdogan continuing to abuse human rights. Human rights abuse did not start with Pastor Brunson. It won't end with Pastor Brunson. Turkey has been consolidating power, rolling back press freedoms, jailing journalists for years. So what we know is that Erdogan will continue doing that regardless of President Trump and his tariffs.
At the same time, our trade policy is going to take a massive hit. President Trump issued these tariffs, the original rational was that steel and aluminum imports were a risk to national security. Turkey represented 2.8 percent of U.S. steel and aluminum imports last year. It's very clear that he's misusing his tariff authority.
And the real question is, how will Turkey retaliate. We have an important military to military relationship with Turkey. We have troops on the ground and military assets. Erdogan could choose to retaliate by making those assets vulnerable or reducing their ability to operate. And at the same, we see people like Vladimir Putin try to take advantage of the schism in the relationship. We know he called Erdogan earlier and tried to move Turkey closer to Russian and further from the United States.
[13:55:14] ACOSTA: And interesting to see all this happening between two leaders who would maybe think might be more cozy than what we're seeing right now given the president's friendliness with some undemocratic leaders around the world.
ACOSTA: Sam Vinograd, thank you very much. We appreciate all those incites.
More of our breaking news coming up. Robert Mueller's focus on Roger Stone is growing as one ally gets a subpoena and another defies a subpoena.