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Judge Targeted by Trump Gets Deported Dreamer Case; Anger In South Korea as U.S. Strike Group Has Arrived Yet; Grassley: Expect a Supreme Court Resignation in Summer. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired April 20, 2017 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: He says -- the Dreamer -- he says he was unlawfully deported to Mexico, despite his protected status. Now it could put that judge and the president once again on a collision course.

Let's go first to CNN's Rosa Flores. She's been following this case.

Rosa, lay it out for us. What is this case about?

ROSA FLORES, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You know, Kate, if you're kind of shaking your head thinking, wait, what, how is this happening, because we know that Judge Curiel is not an immigration judge, here's why. It's because this lawsuit is a FOIA lawsuit. So, this Dreamer, who is Juan Manuel Montes-Bojorquez, he is alleging that he was wrongfully deported by DHS on February 18th, and DHS is saying that that never happened. And so, this lawsuit that's going before a U.S. circuit court is for the documents, the documentation of the processing of that deportation.

So, just to give you a little background here, Bojorquez's attorneys tell us he was wrongly deported on February 18th while he was hailing a cab and that he was sent over to Mexico.

And then here's where these two parties do agree. They do agree that he was detained by immigration again on February 19th, and on the 20th he was deported.

And so, Kate, that's the reason why we're having this conversation, because, yes, this is a huge test for the Trump administration and the hardline stance on immigration, but these two worlds collide because it's a FOIA issue. These attorneys are saying we need those documents to figure out what our next step is on this immigration case.

BOLDUAN: Whether or not he was deported, originally, that is the crux of the information that they want to get at. That is where the attorney and the government, that is where they absolutely divide. That's where that information lies.

Rosa, thank you so much.

So, as Rosa laid out, those are some of the facts of the case. Let's now get to the judge that unwittingly became such a major issue in the 2016 campaign.

CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, is here for this.

A couple quick things for us -- not legal scholars like you -- are these cases assigned at random?

PAUL CALLAN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, they are. It's called a wheel. It literally goes into a barrel and they pull it out and it's assigned randomly to a judge. So, yes, they are randomly assigned. This is just a coincidence.

BOLDUAN: This is a coincidence. An ironic twist of fate. But when you look at -- the facts of the case, maybe aside, when you just look on the history that we played out a little bit, the fact that this judge kind of became such a big issue in the campaign, by no fault of his own. He never said anything publicly because he was presiding over a case. This all came from the Candidate Trump side attacking this judge. But just the fact that that happened, do you think that the government, if they wanted to, would have some sort of argument to get this case moved to another judge?

CALLAN: Big fat zero chance of that happening.

BOLDUAN: Oh, really?

CALLAN: You have to understand, he's a federal judge, so a huge percentage of his cases involve the federal government as a litigant.

BOLDUAN: Of course, right.

CALLAN: And if he had to disqualify himself from any case in which the feds are involved, he may as well hang up his hat and go back to Indiana and practice law.

So, he handled himself magnificently in the attack of presidential candidate Trump. He kept quiet about it. He was insulted personally. He didn't respond. He showed great judicial temperament. And you know, what happened in that case, in the end, he approved a $25 million settlement, which Trump's lawyers went along with in the end, so I guess he turned out to be a judge who could handle that case.

BOLDUAN: Do you think Judge Curiel would want to recuse himself from this case?

CALLAN: No. This is a routine case that they see in federal court all the time, trying to get Freedom of Information Act information that the government is resisting. This is a garden-variety case that would be handled very quickly by any federal judge.

BOLDUAN: But because of what happened in the campaign, very non- garden variety right now.

CALLAN: Absolutely.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you, Paul.

CALLAN: Thank you.

[11:34:07] BOLDUAN: We'll talk on another topic in a few minutes.

It could be the most dangerous volleyball game in the history of sports. Can't wait to see it. Satellite images from a North Korean nuclear test site appear to show -- if we can zoom in there -- that appears to show an active volleyball game. What message are the North Koreans trying to send, if any?

Plus, did a Republican Senator just spill the beans on one of the biggest secrets in Washington? What the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee just said about a possible opening to come on the Supreme Court. That's ahead.


BOLDUAN: Remember when Vice President Mike Pence told CNN that North Korea was getting the message? Well, here's North Korea's message today. The state newspaper there saying the regime could destroy the U.S. and South Korea in an instant in a preemptive strike. That's what they're writing today.

A short time ago, we learned the "USS Carl Vinson" strike group will be stationed off the Korean peninsula until at least June, although it has not arrived yet.

Meantime, anger in South Korea, and it's aimed at President Trump. One newspaper even calling him a liar for his comments that an armada was on its way, even though, obviously, of course, we now know it moved in the opposite direction before turning toward North Korea. This is happening as the U.S. conducts joint military exercises at a South Korean air base.

A lot going on, on this front. So, let's go to CNN's Ivan Watson. He is live in Seoul, South Korea.

But first, let me go to Ryan Browne, real quick, at the Pentagon. He has news on how China is reacting to all this.

Ryan, what are you picking up?

[11:39:47] RYAN BROWNE, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: All right, we're being told by a military official here that China is taking steps to ready itself in case of a possible contingency with regard to North Korea. Specifically, they're seeing evidence that Chinese military aircraft, in particular, some of its land-attack bombers, have been placed on high alert, and they see this as an effort to kind of ready the Chinese military in case they would have to react to a contingency in North Korea.

Now, China has long been concerned about instability on the Korean peninsula, the possibility of refugees coming out of North Korea, the possibility of some kind of military conflict, the presence of U.S. military troops in South Korea. So, China's long been paying attention to this region. So this is just a step that the U.S. military thinks is an effort to better prepare China in the case that they have to take action.

BOLDUAN: Ryan Browne, thank you so much.

Ivan, let's get over to you. What are you hearing from your front?

IVAN WATSON, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, yeah, there's been this kind of question about the carrier "Vinson" strike group and when it might come to the area. There's been some criticism and questions about U.S. credibility, saying that this was supposed to be in the area, and it's still days away.

What's really raising hackles here in Korea is comments that U.S. President Donald Trump made to the "Wall Street Journal," where he said when he sat down with the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, he learned that Korea used to be part of China. The South Korean foreign ministry spokesman came out and said it is unquestionable that Korea was never part of China, and that the foreign ministry has reached out through diplomatic channels to both the U.S. and China to try to clarify this to make sure it was not true. And you actually had cartoons in newspapers here today making fun of this statement coming out.

All of this taking place at a time when South Korea is in a political vacuum. It just had its president impeached. Elections are barely three weeks away, and candidates are up stumping trying to win votes. And one of the main things they're campaigning on, believe it or not, is not North Korea and threat of conflict to the north, but questions like the economy and corruption, things that resulted in the impeachment and jailing of the former president of this country just weeks ago -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: It is amazing all of the elements at play and how things are so complicated at this moment.

Ivan Watson watching it from Seoul. Thank you so much.

We'll take a quick break and continue with this bringing news on the other side.


[11:46:21] BOLDUAN: More on our breaking news just now. The U.S. military is saying they see signs that China is preparing for a possible North Korea event. We are told that the U.S. has seen an extraordinary number of Chinese aircraft preparing, getting ready.

What does this mean? What message is this one sending right now?

Joining me to discuss, Michael Allen. He works on the National Security Council under President George W. Bush and is now managing director of Beacon Global Strategies. And Jamie Metzl is here. He worked in the State Department and National Security Council under President Clinton and is now a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council.

Thank you for coming in.

Jamie, what do you make of this breaking news? As Ryan Brown was telling us from the Pentagon, they're seeing that they're putting bombers on high alert in China. What do you think when you hear that?

JAMIE METZL, SENIOR FELLOW, THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL & FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Yeah, well, certainly, tension on the Korean peninsula is the highest level.

BOLDUAN: Absolutely.

METZL: And this is a big game of chicken. President Trump has really put a lot of pressure on North Korea, and North Korea is responding. China is somewhere in the middle, wanting to maintain the presence of its North Korean ally.


METZL: But keeping the United States at bay and making sure that this doesn't get out of hand. And the problem is, China has ultimate control over North Korea, but in order to exert that control, they need to cut off North Korea's food and fuel in a way that will destabilize the regime, and North Korea knows they have a lot of leverage over China because of that. And so, North Korea is escalating and North Korea is moving towards potentially another nuclear test, and that's going to put China in a very difficult position. This could be -- this could lead to anything, from a big win for the United States to nuclear war in the Korean peninsula, and every --


BOLDUAN: There is a wide range of possibilities.

METZL: And that's what happens when you play chicken. On one hand, people say President Trump is being bold, but the question is what's the strategy and how are you managing the downside risk?

BOLDUAN: So, when it comes to the risk here or kind of the messages and potential for mixed messages, Michael, do you think this now new move from China, does that change, or should it change the U.S. posture here?

MICHAEL ALLEN, MANAGING DIRECTOR, BEACON GLOBAL STATEGIES & FORMER NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL MEMBER: Well, I think it's a reminder that tensions are very high. And of course, if we're sending a carrier strike group up toward North Korea, there's always going to be a reaction from those in the region, especially the Chinese. So, for every action, there is going to be a reaction.

But listen, I think Trump is making a calculated risk that, after decades of failed diplomacy, as they say, that we need to change the strategic calculus of China, get them in the ball game in a serious way to do some of the things that Jamie mentioned, and also maybe other wide-ranging Iran-styled sanctions on North Korea so that they might ultimately come to the negotiating table, or at least, at least stop testing nuclear weapons there in the bunkers.

BOLDUAN: Let's talk about nuclear test sites, Jamie, because to me, that was quite a strange thing to wake up to this morning, seeing the new satellite images of one of the nuclear test sites shows three different locations on that test site, volleyball games being under way. Have you ever seen that before?

METZL: Well, I certainly have seen volleyball, and I've traveled around North Korea and I've seen people playing volleyball in North Korea, but obviously, playing volleyball --

BOLDUAN: Does this mean something?

METZL: It means that they are taking a step back from being on super high alert. I think eventually they will probably do another nuclear test, but they are delivering a message, certainly to the Chinese, that this may not happen today or tomorrow, but you never know with the North Koreans because they are so smart and they're so strategic, and that goes back to what Michael was saying. He talked about a calculated risk President Trump is taking. Certainly, there's a risk. It's a huge risk. Whether it's calculated or not is the question everybody is asking. I certainly haven't seen any evidence of a real strategy. We need one. And certainly, the Obama strategy was imperfect. I don't know if we're better off, but the risk level is going through the roof.

[11:50:24] BOLDUAN: Michael, let me get you on the confusion over the "Carl Vinson" strike group. The White House says they never misled, but it is also true that everyone was under the impression that the "Carl Vinson" was heading directly to the Korean peninsula. It didn't. It headed south before heading north. If it was a miscommunication, how can that happen?

ALLEN: Well, it shouldn't happen. It can't happen. It's another lesson of why we have got to be precise. We have got to get our messaging straight, because the whole world is watching. The region is watching. The South Koreans need to know that when the president speaks, he's being -- speaking absolutely accurately. So I give them the benefit of the doubt. I worked in the White House for many years. There's always mass confusion because people are running around at a high rate of speed. At the same time, when it comes to matters of national security, we've got to get this right.

BOLDUAN: And the location and the speed with which a strike group is moving also a key thing.

METZL: Yeah.

BOLDUAN: Give me your final take, but also with this in mind, one headline out of South Korea was Trump's lie over the "Carl Vinson." They're not happy about it.

METZL: That's the thing. I was in the White House as well. You can't say there's an armada heading somewhere when there's not.

BOLDUAN: The White House was never directly asked is it moving there at this very moment. Sean Spicer was right when he said is all we said it is heading there. It is evenly heading there. Ron Brownstein said it well. It's like the president went to Wisconsin and they said snow is in the photograph. Yes, it's in the forecast, but nine months from now.

METZL: Kate, are you going to Chicago? Yes.

BOLDUAN: At some point in my life.

METZL: That's the thing, the credibility of the United States is at the core of everything we do in the world.

BOLDUAN: What do you think this is a little bit overblown?

METZL: I don't think it's overblown. I think over this weekend we saw two kind of military theater. We saw the parade in Pyongyang with the fake canisters where they're acting like they had these missiles, and we have the president saying we're sending an armada, which we weren't sending. Right now, we have a major credibility problem. This administration is not putting a credible message out into the world and that's terrifying --


BOLDUAN: Credibility matters when, as you said, to flip it all together when you're playing a game of chicken.

Great to see you, Jamie.

METZL: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: Jamie, thank you so much.

Coming up for us, could the next Supreme Court battle be months away? A Republican Senator may have just revealed a potential opening. What was the message he was sending?

We'll be right back.


[11:57:24] BOLDUAN: Could President Trump have another Supreme Court seat to fill very soon? The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee has people talking. He told an audience in Iowa this, quoted in a small newspaper saying the following: "I would expect a resignation this summer." He didn't name names, though. Could it be Justice Anthony Kennedy, the swing vote. He's 80 years old and rumors are he is considering retirement.

CNN legal analyst, Paul Callan, is back with me.

Did Senator Grassley just spill the beans, do you think?

CALLAN: Maybe he did. There have been rumors swirling about Kennedy stepping down as the next person who will step down from the court for a long time.

BOLDUAN: He didn't say who though, as you pointed out.

CALLAN: No, he didn't. If you look at the ages Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 84 years old. He's 80 years old. It's always hard to say who's going to be next, but it's definitely going to be one of those two I would say.

BOLDUAN: Play this out. A swing vote or a reliable liberal vote, liberal-leaning judge on the court. This changes the ball game.

CALLAN: This changes it in a major way. Kennedy has been very important vote on the court, appointed by Ronald Reagan by a unanimous Senate. He's always been the guy who has gone to both sides on important questions. If he leaves, who will be the new swing vote? A lot of people think it might be John Roberts, the current chief justice. If Bader Ginsburg leaves, you'll only have three liberals on the court and you'll have a total domination by the conservatives. So it's really going to change the court.

BOLDUAN: I think the most immediate question is what does Chuck Grassley mean, quote as saying, I would expect a resignation this summer. A lot of questions for Chuck Grassley right now.

CALLAN: Very interesting.

BOLDUAN: Good to see you, Paul. Thanks so much.

CALLAN: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: And thank you all so much for joining us AT THIS HOUR.

"Inside Politics" with John King starts right now.

[11:59:15] JOHN KING, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you, Kate.

Welcome to "Inside Politics." I'm John King.

The Trump White House is still short votes and an exact plan but is pushing for one more Obamacare repeal try before next week's 100-day mark.


MIKE PENCE, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm very confident in the days ahead we're going to see the Congress come together and we'll take that important step to repeal and replace Obamacare with the kind of health care reform that President Trump has envisioned.


PENCE: I think -- we'll see. But I will tell you, we're very encouraged.


KING: We'll see.

More tough talk on the world stage already in a stare down with North Korea. Team Trump now lashing out at Iran. (BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

REX TILLERSON, SECRETARY OF STATE: The Trump administration has no intention of passing the buck to a future administration on Iran. The evidence is clear Iran's provocative actions threaten the United States, the region, and the world.


KING: And coming close --