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U.S. Immigration Crisis; Manafort Goes to Jail; Tariff Troubles between U.S. and China; World Cup 2018. Aired 12-12:30a ET

Aired June 16, 2018 - 00:00   ET

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


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CYRIL VANIER, CNN ANCHOR (voice-over): An immigration crisis in the U.S. as hundreds of children are separated from their parents at the border with Mexico.

And the U.S. president's one-time campaign chairman is in jail. Paul Manafort is accused of tampering with witnesses ahead of his trial.

Plus World Cup fever. Cristiano Ronaldo adding to his legend with a hat trick against Spain; 3-3 was the final score between Portugal and La Roja.

Live from the CNN Center here in Atlanta, I'm Cyril Vanier. It is, as always, great to have you with us.

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VANIER: So we're now seeing some of the controversial effects of the Trump administration's hardline immigration policy. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security says nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents at the border with Mexico.

This in a space of just six weeks, from mid-April through May. They're now living in temporary shelters.

The separation of families is the result of the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy, where adults face criminal charges for entering the U.S. illegally. U.S. president Donald Trump falsely blamed Democrats.

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TRUMP: The Democrats gave us the laws. Now I want the laws to be beautiful, humane but strong. I don't want bad people coming in. I don't want drugs coming in. And we can solve that problem in one meeting. Tell the Democrats, your friends, to call me, OK?

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VANIER: Democrats did not force the practice on anyone. The increase in family separations occurred after the administration decided to prosecute offenders; in other words, people who had crossed the border without the proper documentation.

The Trump administration says the policy was meant to deter families from attempting to enter the U.S. illegally but they are still coming. Our Ed Lavandera witnessed a group of undocumented immigrants being taken into Border Patrol custody.

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ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): It's hard to see people moving through the thick south Texas vegetation. The Rio Grande rolls by just beyond the tree line. And then just like that they appear out of the brush, a small group of undocumented immigrants walking into a public park.

We just came across this group of undocumented immigrants here in the town of Mission, Texas. Two adults, four children just finished crossing the Rio Grande here a little while ago. And now they're in the custody of Border Patrol.

This group is actually made of three different groups. They say they met along the journey from Honduras and decided to enter the United States together. Border Patrol agents give them water and they sit in the shade as they wait for a vehicle to take them to a Border Patrol station.

There's Jonathan Ariel, 11 years old. He says he left Honduras with cousins but they abandoned him along the way. He says his mother lives in Virginia and told him not to make this journey alone but now he is here.

"I told her I wanted to come," he says, "but she said it's very dangerous."

Are you scared?

"A little," he says.

It's a brief conversation that leaves you with many more questions about how a young boy can get to this point. As an unaccompanied minor, he will likely end up for the time being in a children's shelter like this one as federal authorities try to connect the boy with his mother.

The rest of this group is made up of two adult women with their children.

Dalia Sayupa (ph) is 24 years old and she crossed the border with her little boy.

Why did you come?

She says gang members left a note at her home threatening to kill her and that is when she decided to flee.

Are you afraid they're going to separate you from your children?

"Yes, he is my son and I love him," she says. "I have carried him throughout my journey."

Dalia says she did not know she might be separated from her son once she was taken into custody in the United States but she says I have nothing in Honduras. The families are loaded up and taken away, unsure of what happens next.

The question now is, what happens to these young children?

Jonathan, the 11-year-old you saw in the piece, he gave me his mother's cellphone number in Virginia. I was able to speak with her and she told me immigration authorities have already reached out to her and they would talk to her tomorrow to figure out what happens next.

As far as the two adult women and their children, what happens to them is very much up in the air. Even though the Trump administration says this is a zero tolerance policy and the plan is to prosecute 100 percent of the people crossing the border illegally, the fact is that isn't happening yet.

But federal officials will not say how exactly it's determined as to who gets prosecuted and separated from their children and who is released and allowed --

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LAVANDERA: -- to move on. They won't explain how those decisions are made.

So the fate of those two women that you saw in the story, with those children, as far as we know tonight, it's still very much up in the air -- Ed Lavandera, CNN, McAllen, Texas.

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VANIER: All right. Great reporting there.

Advocacy groups have criticized this immigration policy and that includes Human Rights Watch. I'm joined now by Alison Leal Parker, managing director for Human Rights Watch in the U.S.

We have the official numbers, Alison, from the Department of Homeland Security. Almost 2,000 children were separated from their parents over a six-week period.

Your reaction to that?

ALISON LEAL PARKER, HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH: That's right. This is a conscious choice by the Trump administration to violate the fundamental rights of these children, of their families and of people who are fleeing persecution; in other words, refugees.

VANIER: Listen to the U.S. attorney general Jeff Sessions.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) JEFF SESSIONS (R), U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: If we have laws -- and we do have laws and Congress has passed the INA, the Immigration Nationalation (sic) Act, then they need to be enforced. And it's nothing wrong about that.

And we need to tell the world, please don't come unlawfully. Make your application. Wait your turn.

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VANIER: So a couple different things here. But the first thing he says is essentially we're just enforcing the laws.

Is there a United States law that requires this the separation of children from their parents?

PARKER: There is no American law that requires this. And, in fact, the United States law is rather clear, that family unity is a very important principle in domestic law, as it is in international law.

VANIER: I wonder whether you have a perspective on the second point he was making, which is that this is essentially signaling to potential migrants that they shouldn't come because there is what would happen to them.

Do you know if that is the kind of thing that works?

PARKER: Human Rights Watch has worked in Honduras and El Salvador and Guatemala and many of the countries from which these immigrants are coming and asylum seekers are coming.

And the bottom line is, if you're fleeing for your life, this type of treatment, while reprehensible and a conscious choice by this administration, not required under U.S. law. However, if you're fleeing for your life, these kinds of policies are not going to stop these people from coming.

VANIER: Donald Trump says he hates seeing this. He hates the kids being separated from the parents. But he says it's the Democrats' fault.

Now under the previous administration, did you see anything even remotely like this?

PARKER: Under the previous administration, there were criminal prosecutions of people for the so-called crimes of illegal entry and re-entry. But they were in no way targeting asylum seekers or 100 percent of those who attempt to cross the border and place their claims for asylum, which is what we're talking about now.

We're looking at a situation where the administration says that it wants to eventually prosecute 100 percent of those people who are live at the border crossings, that are in between ports of entry.

We're thinking right now, even with this 2,000 number, they've only been prosecuting that 60 percent. So this problem is going to get much worse.

VANIER: Yes, they have a so-called zero tolerance policy. And they are trying to get up to that number of 100 percent of prosecutions.

Is there a way to deal with these families that does not involve separating the children?

PARKER: Absolutely. Under previous administrations, there was a policy, at the bare minimum, ensuring that families were detained together. Human Rights Watch takes a position that children should never be detained unless it is a matter of last resort.

But under previous administrations, there were policies, in which some families were detained together; again, we did not support those policies. But at least we didn't have families being ripped part.

You know, just 45 minutes ago, I spoke to a colleague, who left one of these CBP lockups. He spoke with an aunt, who was separated from her 4-year-old niece. The niece was left alone. The aunt was taken away for prosecution. Ultimately, they were not able to prosecute her.

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VANIER: How old did you say was the niece?

Sorry.

How old did you say --

PARKER: The niece was 4 years old.

VANIER: And she was left alone?

PARKER: She was left behind alone. She was asleep and her aunt was taken out of that facility. The aunt was desperate.

She spoke to my colleague and asked, "Where is my niece? Where is my niece?"

A few days later, my colleague found the niece, who had been taken care of by a couple of other kids, teenagers who had been left behind in the same holding cell by CBP. My colleague made such a fuss that eventually this aunt and her niece were reunited.

But these stories of separation are going to only continue. And they're a horrendous stain on the --

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PARKER: -- hands of all of us living in the United States, frankly.

VANIER: So under the watch -- I just want to underscore this -- under the watch of U.S. law enforcement, a 4-year-old girl was being cared for, for days, by teenagers.

That is what your colleague saw? PARKER: That is what my colleague saw. He also just left an interview with a 5-year old, who said to him, "Where is my mother? I haven't seen her. Can you tell me when I'll see her again?"

Nobody knows where the mother is.

VANIER: All right. Alison Leal Parker, thank you very much.

I would like to point out also that Donald Trump said early Friday that he actually wasn't open to compromise on this particular issue.

Thank you.

PARKER: Thank you.

VANIER: Immigration is only one of the flashpoints, believe it or not, for the Trump White House on Friday. There is the case of former Trump campaign chair, Paul Manafort. He is now behind bars. A federal judge revoked bail after special counsel Robert Mueller's office charged him with witness tampering.

The judge said, quote, "This is not middle school. I can't take his cellphone away."

Manafort waved to his wife before U.S. marshals led him away. Mr. Trump called Manafort's jailing, "very unfair." Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told the New York "Daily News" that the Mueller probe -- that's the Russia investigation -- "might get cleaned up" -- that's a direct quote -- with a few presidential pardons.

He tried to walk that back a little bit afterwards but still said the president would not give up his right to pardon.

The president also surprised everyone Friday morning by stepping onto the set of FOX News at the White House and holding court.

He also spoke to other reporters, covering everything from North Korea to the inspector general's report on the FBI's handling of the Hillary Clinton e-mail probe. Mr. Trump declared falsely that that report exonerates him in the Russia investigation.

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TRUMP: I did nothing wrong. There was no collusion. There was no obstruction. The IG report yesterday went a long way to show that. If you read the IG report, I've been totally exonerated.

Take a look at the investigation. Take a look at how it started. Take a look at the horrible statements that Peter Strzok, the chief investigator said, and take a look at what he did with Hillary Clinton.

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VANIER: Also happening on Friday, a source tells CNN that the president's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, is indicating to family and friends he may be ready to cooperate with investigators. He is said to be angry at the president for minimizing their relationship.

Lots to talk about. Erin Gloria Ryan joins us now, she's contributing editor of the "Daily Beast," she joins me from Los Angeles.

Let's start with Paul Manafort. Donald Trump highly disappointed that the man who once ran his campaign is now in jail. Listen to this.

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TRUMP: Manafort has nothing to do with our campaign. But I feel so -- I feel a little badly about it. They went back 12 years to get things did he 12 years ago?

You know, Paul Manafort worked for me for a very short period of time.

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VANIER: So Erin, Mr. Trump is simultaneously distancing himself from Manafort but also coming to his defense.

ERIN GLORIA RYAN, "THE DAILY BEAST": Donald Trump does this a lot. I've noticed that sometimes he, when he's trying to get out of a sticky situation, take every possible stance because, if you take every possible stance, then you're not ever 100 percent wrong.

So, in this case, you know, he's -- you know, he knows Paul Manafort, I guess Paul Manafort is shredding as campaign manager. He both is the campaign manager and is not the campaign manager at the same time.

In this case, Donald Trump is trying to have the benefit of knowing him and defending him. But he's also trying to have the benefit of not knowing him and having nothing to do with him whatsoever, which is something he's done in a lot of different cases. This is -- you know, I shouldn't be as cynical about this. But it's not new from him.

VANIER: OK. Well, perhaps this is not going to help your cynicism then. Trump lawyer Giuliani first suggested on Friday that Trump might pardon anyone indicted in the Russia investigation and then walked it back -- but only a bit. He spoke to CNN's Chris Cuomo earlier. Listen to this.

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RUDY GIULIANI, TRUMP ATTORNEY: Let me make it clear right now.

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CHRIS CUOMO, CNN ANCHOR: Please, please. That's why I wanted you on.

GIULIANI: He is not going to pardon anybody in this investigation. But he is not obviously going to give up his right to pardon if a miscarriage of justice is presented to him.

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VANIER: So again, which is it? He's not going to pardon or he's not going to not pardon?

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RYAN: I think that's a great question, Cyril.

But one thing that I've noticed lately is that it seems that they're doing this sort of spaghetti strategy. They're just throwing spaghetti at everything and hoping something sticks.

Right now Donald Trump is out saying nutty things. He is saying everything possible to reporters. And Giuliani is out acting as a distraction as well. But I think at the same time, there are things that are serious that are happening behind the scenes.

Like yesterday, Donald Trump's charity was the subject of a lawsuit in New York State, that sought to have the charity disbanded, that alleged that charity is a fraud.

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RYAN: And that also aimed to bar his children and Donald Trump from ever serving on the bar of a -- or the board of a charity in New York State. That's a serious thing. That is something that could actually lead to problems for the president.

I think that Rudy Giuliani barking every possible thing on a morning show is something that is interesting just because he is the president's lawyer.

But I think there are a lot more consequential things happening. And if you take a step back, I think it's -- I kind of view this as a distraction from something that is real, some real trouble for Donald Trump.

VANIER: Well, here's why I ask you the question about the pardons because when Rudy Giuliani leaves the door open to pardoning people -- if there is, in his words, a miscarriage of justice or if the president feels that somebody has been wrongfully convicted -- do you think perhaps that -- I was wondering whether it was a message to Paul Manafort.

But do you think it could also be a message to Michael Cohen?

RYAN: Paul Manafort is in a lot of trouble, not just at the federal level. And the president doesn't have power to pardon state crimes. So it's absolutely possible that Paul Manafort is in the sort of trouble that can't necessarily be expunged by the President of the United States no matter how excited he is about his pardoning power.

So that's something that I think Rudy Giuliani is not really paying attention to when he talks about that. The president's power to pardon is not unlimited and it doesn't extend to state crimes. And Paul Manafort has made a career of being messed up with things that could probably lead to state level of charges. VANIER: All right. Quickly, because this is important. We have not touched on the IG report yet. The Department of Justice inspector general uncovered that some agents within the FBI were anti-Trump and did not want to see him elected.

This as they were working on several investigations. First of all, timewise, the Hillary Clinton e-mail investigation and then some of them were involved in the Russia probe. Trump says that this discredits the Russia investigation.

Do you agree?

RYAN: No. The IG report also found that, despite the biases, which were very unprofessional and totally uncalled for, for law enforcement officials, they didn't find evidence of those biases actually bearing out in the work that they were doing.

So the way that they were thinking was bad. But what they were actually doing wasn't actually bad. And it didn't translate to actually hurting Donald Trump. And if they were trying to hurt Donald Trump and help Hillary Clinton, they did a really bad job of it because Donald Trump is the president.

VANIER: Erin Gloria Ryan of "The Daily Beast," thank you so much for joining us today.

RYAN: Thanks for having me.

VANIER: Coming up, the U.S. tariffs against China will soon be on and vice versa. Two weeks from now the two largest economies in the world could be at each other's throats in an all-out trade war. Stay with us.

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VANIER: The U.S. and China are now on a collision --

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VANIER: -- course to a full-on trade war. Three weeks from now, July 6th, both countries will impose punishing tariffs on billions of dollars of goods from each other. That prospect spooked the financial markets on Friday, the Dow dropping about 280 points before recovering to finish 84 points down.

A big question is, why this is happening now?

China seems as confused as anyone. But the issue seems crystal clear in the mind of the U.S. president.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) TRUMP: We're putting tariffs on $50 billion worth of technology and other things because we have to because we've been treated very unfairly.

But China has been terrific. President Xi has been terrific, President Moon, everybody. We're all working together because of me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

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UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): China is consistent in its stance that, if the U.S. side adopts any unilateral protectionist measures and damages China's interests, we will immediately react and take necessary measures.

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VANIER: For a detailed explanation of how these tariffs will be deployed and who is likely to suffer, here is CNN's Matt Rivers in Beijing.

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MATT RIVERS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: A major escalation in the trade tensions between China and the U.S., as the U.S. now officially moving forward with a threat that had been months in the making. Now the U.S. administration saying they will move forward with levying tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports to the United States.

The Chinese products they're targeting largely in industries as a part of what's called the Made in China 2025 plan. It's a government initiative that wants to increase China's prowess in number of different high-growth industries over the next several years.

Those industries would include everything from I.T. to aerospace, new energy vehicles, AI, robotics, that kind of thing. Billions of dollars in government loans and subsidies are going to those industries to help them. And the U.S. is saying that's unfair and that is why they are targeting those industries.

The tariffs were initially put on overall, the U.S. says, to punish the Chinese for intellectual property theft. But the Chinese government is not taking this lying down as promised. They are going to retaliate and announced they would do so shortly after the U.S. made these tariffs official.

The commerce ministry here in Beijing saying they'd levy $50 billion in tariffs of their own on U.S. goods. That's going to affect all kinds of American imports here to China, everything from soybeans to beef to certain cars, fruits, small airplanes and the like. So a wide-ranging list there.

They also said anything that was agreed to over the last several rounds of formal trade negotiations between the U.S. and China, anything that was agreed to, the Chinese government now considers null and void.

Now, look, overall, there are a lot of business people here in China that would say the trading relationship between the U.S. and China is wrong, that the Chinese government does steal intellectual property, that there are forced technology transfers, that there are copyright infringement problems and market access problems.

But there's a lot of disagreement amongst people we speak to that tariffs are not the way to fix that problem. And now there are fears that this trade spat has become a trade war and it could get worse from here -- Matt Rivers, CNN, Beijing.

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VANIER: Now Beijing insists it won't back down in the event of a trade war. But here is the problem for China. When it comes to tariffs, the U.S. government arguably has a lot less to lose.

You see, China sells over $500 billion of merchandise to the U.S., China to the U.S. The other way around, not so much. The U.S. sells only $130 billion of goods to China so it is less vulnerable in that respect.

But China has a number of other tactics that it could deploy. Number one, they could still just impose even more tariffs.

Number two, China could also restrict travel to America. And that matters because Chinese citizens, who travel to the U.S. and attend American schools and colleges, spend billions of dollars each year.

Another weapon, life difficult for big U.S. companies operating there. Think Apple or Starbucks.

Or China could also encourage its citizens not to buy products from American companies.

But the riskiest option of all would be for China to cut back on buying U.S. debt. China is currently the biggest foreign holder of U.S. debt, owning $1.17 trillion of Treasury bonds.

Coming up after the break, an Iberian thriller for the ages. Highlights from Spain and Portugal's epic World Cup showdown. Stay with us.

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VANIER: Friday's World Cup action did not disappoint. Spain and Portugal played an epic match in Sochi, Russia. But the only real winners were the fans. The clash of Iberian giants ended in a 3-3 draw. Cristiano Ronaldo again making the case why he could be the greatest

of all time. Sorry, Messi fans, it is a possibility. After just three minutes, he got the lead for Portugal by converting a penalty. Spain answered with a goal by Diego Costa. He dribbled around defenders for a solo shot after 23 minutes.

But Ronaldo again gave Portugal the lead with a goal just under the 45-minute mark. Another goal by Costa put the game at 2-2. And Spain even took the lead with this shot by Nacho Fernandez.

But Ronaldo was not done. He got the hat trick and evened the score with the free kick in the final minutes of (INAUDIBLE).

After that intense showdown by Portugal and Spain, we're gearing up for Super Saturday. Day three of the World Cup kicks off with France taking on Australia. Lionel Messi and Argentina then take on World Cup newcomer Iceland. Next, squads from Peru and Denmark face off. Day three wraps up with Croatia taking on Nigeria.

That's it from us for now. Thanks for watching CNN NEWSROOM. I'm Cyril Vanier. I've got the headlines for you in just a moment.