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17 People Shot at New Jersey Art Festival; Roger Stone Met with Russian During Campaign; Democratic Lawmakers Are Holding Demonstrations In Texas And New Jersey; President Trump Implements Separation Of Children With Their Parents. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired June 17, 2018 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone, and thank you so much for joining me this Sunday. I'm Fredricka Whitfield.
We begin this hour with breaking news in the aftermath of an investigation of a shooting at an art festival in New Jersey. 22 people injured, 17 of them had gunshot injuries. Four are in critical condition including a 13-year-old boy. A prosecutor says one suspect was killed after being confronted by a police officer and another suspect was taken into custody. Police say the gunfire sparked chaos and fear.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANGELO NICOLO, WITNESS: Shots were fired and a couple people got shot. I don't know if they got the shooter or what, but it's pretty nuts. So it's a shame because they try to do something nice here and then people have to ruin it.
EDWARD FORCHON, WITNESS: All of a sudden, inside the doorway about 10 shots went off, like pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow, pow. And everybody started running. You could hear like the shots. You could feel it. Like I was that close to every shot. I could feel the repercussions or whatever you call it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: CNN's Brynn Gingras is in Trenton, New Jersey.
So, Brynn, what more can you tell us?
BRYNN GINGRAS, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Fred. This happened at about 2:45 in the morning. Now you might be asking why that hour. Well, this art festival which was taking place in that building right behind me was a 24-hour art festival. It started yesterday at 3:00. It was supposed to continue until 3:00 today, this afternoon, but it has been canceled because of what happened overnight.
Now what we know is what you said. 22 people injured, those -- 17 of those by gunshots alone. And one of those injured was a 13-year-old boy who is in critical condition according to the prosecutor's office here in his county.
It was apparently, as you listened to those witnesses, just a stampede of people trying to escape that building with this art festival going on, which was a number of art projects, also just music, so you can imagine the chaos that was going on.
As far as the gunman, all we know is that it is a 33-year-old man who has been killed in a confrontation with police. That's why a homicide task force is actually the lead investigators on this case. We also know ATF is involved because they found numerous guns inside of that room. We know the governor has been here as well, to kind of survey the area.
A second suspect is also in custody, though we don't know that person or their affiliation with the shooting. We also know that it seems the motive for this was some sort of neighborhood dispute that spilled over into this art festival here in South Trenton. We know this is not terrorism related.
So those are the facts we're getting, but you can imagine at that early hour in that confined space the chaos that ensued, and all of these people injured. Luckily it wasn't even worse, as we've been told by officials -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: All right. Brynn Gingras, keep us apprised. Thank you so much.
All right. With me now is Brett Sabo, the New Jersey chapter leader of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America.
Brett, thanks so much for being with us. And my condolences for what happened at that art fair in your state. Your organization, we understand, actually had an exhibit booth at that festival. Is that right?
BRATT SABO, NEW JERSEY CHAPTER LEADER, MOMS DEMAND ACTION FOR GUN SENSE IN AMERICA: Yes, it is. Last year was our first year. We did have I believe four or five moms volunteering at that time when the shooting occurred.
WHITFIELD: So now tell me your reaction to -- you have this presence there to advocate for safety and then a gun-related act like this would happen. What's going through your mind?
SABO: My first concern is of course for the volunteers that were there. I'm grateful that no one was hurt, but they are traumatized and they will never be the same. And we've said every day that New Jersey has some of the toughest gun laws in the country, but there is only so much that we can do as a state when federally there aren't more laws that will keep us safe.
So Trenton is an area that is very hard hit by gun violence. And even though we've just signed this gun package of six bills just last week, like I said, there is only so much we can do. The state's hands are tied if the federal government won't help us. WHITFIELD: So now talk to me about this. While New Jersey lawmakers
have just passed a series of gun control measures, and you are feeling like there is only so much that can be done, whether it be on the state or federal level, what is the challenge that you feel you, advocates like yourself, are facing in terms of what to do next if there already remains this kind of challenge and you have worked really hard to lobby for these new series of legislation?
[14:05:12] SABO: Sure. Well, it's -- gun violence is a very complex problem, and we were not under the impression at all that signing these six bills into law was going to be some kind of magic elixir that was going to fix everything. It was the first step in a process that the governor is taking, that Moms Demand Action is supporting him taking, which is also working with neighborhood states about transparency and accountability for illegal guns that are trafficked into New Jersey.
Trafficking is a huge problem in New Jersey, and we need cooperation from other states to help us reduce that. So that is our next focus. And, of course, we have the focus federally. We want universal background checks federally, we want to fight concealed carry reciprocity federally because that would put New Jersey residents in danger as far as -- as well as every other state in danger. But those are things that Moms Demand Action is fighting for in New Jersey, specifically.
WHITFIELD: All right. Well, best of luck on your efforts.
Brett Sabo, thank you so much.
SABO: Thank you.
WHITFIELD: All right. Let's talk now further about the investigation. Joining me is Tom Fuentes, CNN senior law enforcement analyst and former FBI assistant director.
So, Tom, good to see you. So we know the ATF is assisting local authorities. What are investigators looking for?
TOM FUENTES, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Hi, Fredricka. Well, for ATF, you know, they specialize in being able to track firearms, so they're going to look at the firearm of the person who was shot and killed by the police, as well as apparently other firearms were located at the scene which sounds like when the shooting erupted and when they knew police would be responding, people that shouldn't have had guns just dropped them on the sidewalk, you know, I'm guessing, but that's how they would recover a bunch of other weapons at the scene, or they were victims of the shooting and they were armed themselves.
So, you know, unfortunately, this kind of action, settling arguments by guns instead of just with fists, has become all too common in many of our cities. And unfortunately, we're having this festival through the night so that at 2:45 in the morning, you have the violence that might have been on the street anyway, but in this case it spills over into a festival where a lot of people are there, are out on the street.
WHITFIELD: And it's difficult, particularly at an art festival or any kind of, like, open festival where people feel, you know, free to kind of roam in and roam out. Are you feeling like at this juncture a consideration will be more metal detectors, searches of people who come to large gatherings like this?
FUENTES: If you require metal detectors, you just won't have these festivals. It'd be too cost prohibitive to bring out all that kind of equipment, train people to operate the equipment. And there'll be a push also to not do this in the middle of the night. You know, I have been a street cop six and a half years before I was an FBI agent. I can tell you that after midnight, 1:00 in the morning, there are people that come out on the street that you might be shocked if you were out there.
And so when you're having a festival with innocent people showing up and trying to enjoy the festival, there are a lot of people that come out of the woodwork onto the streets and they're dangerous. And, you know, unfortunately, I caution my loved ones, don't be out there if you don't have to in the middle of the night in a city known for a lot of gun violence because this might happen.
You might get a flat tire on the way home and have an altercation. You might have a number of things happen that aren't good, and they're more likely in my opinion, and I hope, Fred, you're going to, you know, light up Twitter, my opinion this stuff is more likely at 2:45 in the morning than 2:45 in the afternoon.
WHITFIELD: All right. Tom Fuentes, we'll leave it there for now. Thank you so much. Appreciate it.
All right. Straight ahead, new developments in the Russia investigation. A former Trump associate did meet with Russian officials for dirt on Hillary Clinton after saying he did not. Does this mean a possible greater legal jeopardy for the president? We'll discuss next.
Plus, lawmakers knocking on windows and doors demanding to be let into an immigration facility. So what does it have to do with families being separated at the border? A live report coming up.
[14:13:42] WHITFIELD: All right, welcome back. Roger Stone, the long-time adviser to President Trump, met with a Russian who offered damaging information about Hillary Clinton in exchange for a $2 million payment. That's according to Stone and former Trump campaign communications official, Michael Caputo, both telling CNN that today.
A letter to the House Intelligence Committee obtained by CNN says Caputo was the one who arranged the meeting between Stone and a man who called himself Henry Greenberg. Neither Caputo nor Stone disclosed the meeting to congressional investigators. And Caputo and Stone say they believe the meeting was part of a larger effort to try to set up the Trump campaign. I want to bring in Manuel Roig-Franzia. He co-wrote the story for the
So, Manuel, you're on the phone with us. How did this information come about? Did both Caputo and Stone reach out to you, the "Washington Post," to disclose to you that this meeting had taken place two years ago?
MANUEL ROIG-FRANZIA, REPORTER, THE WASHINGTON POST: Well, we don't typically talk about how our stories come about at that point in the recording process, but I can tell you that both Caputo and Stone spoke to us on the record.
[14:15:00] They answered our questions and we were able to do reporting of our own that told us a pretty wild story about this Russian national named Henry Greenberg who had approached Roger Stone and according to Stone, offered dirt about the Hillary Clinton campaign.
WHITFIELD: And then you write that there was a text messaging that followed Roger Stone's meeting with this Henry Greenberg. This meeting took place in Florida, right, and that Stone apparently conveyed to Caputo that from this meeting came nothing. But what was Caputo's expectation about what would be discussed?
ROIG-FRANZIA: Caputo had heard about this guy, Henry Greenberg, from a business partner of his who was Russian. And that business partner had been approached by Greenberg and told that he wanted to get in touch with the Trump campaign. At that time, remember, Caputo was working for the Trump campaign as a communications official. He needed someone to vet the information and he thought immediately of Roger Stone for two reasons.
One, there was no official opposition research operation within the Trump campaign. Remember, it was a pretty unconventional campaign. And secondly, because Roger Stone is known as someone who works on the dark side of the political world and Caputo thought that he would be the perfect person to check this guy out.
WHITFIELD: Now the meeting takes place, according to your reporting, with Stone and this person by the name of Henry Greenberg. And after the meeting, there was a text messaging conversation between Stone and Caputo, and you write and include in your article that Caputo says to Stone, how crazy is the Russian? And Stone then says, wants big money for info, waste of time.
WHITFIELD: And then Caputo says, the Russian way, anything at all interesting? And that Stone texted back, no.
ROIG-FRANZIA: That's right. Roger Stone is sort of famously curt by text message and often by phone, too. And Caputo was not surprised that Roger didn't have a lot to say about the meeting, and both of them say it was such a short and inconsequential meeting that they forgot about it. Now I think that is a contention that they both made that people will
have to mull and decide whether they believe or not because as you mentioned, neither of these men disclosed this meeting when they appeared to testify before the House Intelligence Committee.
WHITFIELD: Right. So you report and remind everyone that they didn't disclose this to congressional investigators, so what's with the willingness now to share this with you, the "Washington Post"?
ROIG-FRANZIA: Caputo says that he was interviewed by prosecutors in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's office.
WHITFIELD: Last month.
ROIG-FRANZIA: In May, and that those text messages were shown to him during the meeting. And he was concerned about that and has started refreshing his memory, according to his words. And he spoke to Roger Stone about it, too. And the two of them decided that they wanted to be public about it because it's obviously a serious matter to be asked about something by an investigative committee of Congress and to not provide an answer that is considered truthful.
And, look, Caputo was asked if any Russian had offered him information about the Clinton campaign. And when he was asked that question, he responded either no or I can't remember." Well, now he remembers and he is attempting now to correct that record and to amend his testimony. And so it will be interesting to see how that information is received by this investigative committee in Congress.
WHITFIELD: And is it your feeling that Stone and Caputo are now using this as an example, in their view, of how the feds, how the FBI, how they were going after the Trump campaign, that this Henry Greenberg was an FBI informant, and that perhaps this was to engage or entrap them into something?
ROIG-FRANZIA: Yes. I think there is no doubt that they are interested in making the case publicly that they believe they were set up by an FBI informant.
[14:20:06] And the basis that they have for making that claim is the research that they have done and we at the "Post" also did additional research about this man Henry Greenberg. He is a person who has said in court documents that he worked for 17 years as an FBI informant. Additionally, he has received many special visa permissions to enter the United States, and that those permissions are consistent with the type of permissions that are given in immigration matters or people who are assisting law enforcement.
That's not to say that we know for sure because the visas do not say that exactly, but it's the type of visa, the type of special privilege immigration access to the country that is frequently given to people who are assisting law enforcement, and it would seem to support Henry Greenberg's own claim that he had worked for many years for the FBI.
WHITFIELD: All right. Manuel Roig-Franzia, one of the co-writers of this story in the "Washington Post." Very fascinating. Thanks so much for being with me. Appreciate it.
ROIG-FRANZIA: My pleasure.
WHITFIELD: All right. White House correspondent Boris Sanchez joining me right now.
So, Boris, what are we hearing from the White House about this reporting?
BORIS SANCHEZ, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Hey there, Fred. Yes, I asked officials here whether the president was aware of this admission made by Roger Stone that he met with a Russian national back in May 2016 who offered him dirt on Hillary Clinton in exchange for $2 million.
I specifically asked if the president was aware of Stone's claim that he believed that this Russian national was a plant put in place by the FBI in order to entrap him and infiltrate the Trump campaign, something that the president has echoed with some of his remarks about deep state conspiracies and elements within the Department of Justice that are trying to sort of overturn his campaign and now his presidency.
The White House has yet to respond to those questions, but the president's attorney, Rudy Giuliani, was on "STATE OF THE UNION" this morning by Jake Tapper. He said that he did not believe that President Trump was aware of this meeting, and he went a step further to question whether or not Henry Greenberg was actually an FBI informant. He sort of disagrees with Roger Stone to some degree. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RUDY GIULIANI, LAWYER FOR PRESIDENT TRUMP: The most extraordinary thing is on some document he describes himself as an informant. Every informant I've had tried to keep that a secret. I mean, you don't like say, I'm an informant, I can come into the United States. So he sounds like a very strange guy. Was he an FBI informant or not? We know from the probe by the inspector general that the FBI at the highest levels here were doing very, very unorthodox things if not out and out illegal and unethical. So would they be using a guy like this? I doubt it because you don't say you're an informant.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SANCHEZ: Now Greenberg has publicly denied that he was working under the direction of the FBI when he met with Stone back in May 2016. His account of that meeting differs slightly from Stone. He says his work as an FBI informant ended back in 2013 -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: Boris Sanchez, at the White House, thank you so much for that.
All right. Let's talk more about this. I want to bring in Laura Coates. She is a former federal prosecutor and a CNN legal analyst.
Laura, good to see you.
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Good to see you.
WHITFIELD: OK. So what's most significant to you about this article disclosing that Roger Stone and Michael Caputo are admitting that there was a meeting in Florida with a Russian that was not disclosed to congressional investigators, but they were interviewed about it last month with the special counsel's team?
COATES: Yet again we have this overarching theme where every time somebody was a part of that Trump inner circle or the orbit of the campaign in some way forgets and vehemently and talks about it as if they were never talking to anyone who was tied to the Russian government or was a Russian.
You have, again, this sort of feigned amnesia happening and then it turns into more of an allegation of perjury perhaps and you're lying to investigators. How did it slip your mind that you did not tell the investors when you were asked about this particular thing whether you met this with this person? And what it does is cast additional clouds of suspicion on people like Roger Stone, on those who were advocating that he was telling the truth about things that, you know, WikiLeaks person, Julian Assange, et cetera, you this whole theme that's making Mueller's team and his probe really all the more suspicious and it's right from the (INAUDIBLE).
WHITFIELD: So Caputo apparently arranged the meeting. Stone willingly met with, on the pretext that there was going to be some dirt on Hillary Clinton. They didn't take the $2 million or at least he's saying they didn't take the bait of the $2 million offered. Does that make a difference?
[14:25:01] COATES: No, it doesn't. Because it's not about the exchange of money that may be the difference here. It's about whether or not you were trying to use a foreign national or a governmental agent in some way to try to influence an election here in the U.S.
WHITFIELD: So just the willingness to sit and meet, knowing what potential reward was, even if you didn't take him up on the offer is bad enough.
COATES: It's bad enough because, you know, the way that the laws worked, you don't have to have a monetary sum that accompanies it. You have to have kind of a something for that, a quid pro quo sort of thing. So if it was and I'm going to give you information in exchange down the road, I may benefit in some way that can be enough to raise the signals of campaign issues, of the government of the investigators. And so just saying, well, listen, all's well that ends well, nothing to see here, folks, we saw it with Donald Trump Jr. We saw he said, you know, with Hillary Clinton's -- with Russian adoption lawyer, Natalia Veselnitskaya, and said, you know what, nothing ever came of it, so let's just turn our eyes away, but in reality it's in the endeavor, it's the intent and your mental state of mind when you did it that make all the difference.
WHITFIELD: So Caputo and Stone are also potentially using this to help undermine the special counsel investigation saying, wait a minute. If it turns out that this was an informant, see, they were after us two years ago. This is possible entrapment. Does this potentially undermine the investigation? The special counsel's investigation?
COATES: You know, it has some impact on the court of public opinion to say the president has already said consistently that there were people who were a part of this campaign, who were placed there to try to entrap. But reality speaking, he didn't actually have any evidence to suggest that. If the person's informant status ended five years ago at this point, according to him 2013, well, then it had very little impact in a suggestion of entrapment in the 2016 presidential campaign or 2015 if ever he becomes the president of the United States. And so what you have I think is moving on the momentum of the recent IG report.
The president's existing narrative that somebody was trying to have it out for him. But trust that these are statements that are already giving people a lot of cause for concern Peter Strzok who as a -- or Peter Strzok as an FBI agent said we will stop this. It all kind of circles around the court of public opinion. But for entrapment purposes, there is not enough information yet to say there is somebody who was in place there to entice the president or his members of the campaign to do something wrong.
WHITFIELD: It is also helps underscore that someone didn't tell the truth. Now this story has changed and then it also makes it difficult for anyone to understand what really is the truth.
COATES: Certainly and we hope that Mueller's team is able to follow the stories and not be, you know, attracted by the shiny bright objects of no, no, I didn't -- I forgot, I had amnesia.
WHITFIELD: Laura Coates, good to see you. Glad to have you in Atlanta.
COATES: Thank you. You too. Thank you.
WHITFIELD: Thanks so much.
All right, next, anger mounting over families being separated at the southern border. CNN cameras capture a group of lawmakers demanding access to immigration facilities there. We're live, next.
[14:32:40] WHITFIELD: Inhumane, un-American. Those are just some of the words being used to describe new immigration practices where federal authorities pull children away from their parents at the southern border.
Right now Democratic lawmakers are holding demonstrations in Texas and New Jersey. Lawmakers in New Jersey even demanding to get to be allowed inside the facilities. They were met by police. This after homeland security announced nearly 2,000 children have been separated from their parents in a six-week span. President Trump says he hates what's happening and falsely blames
Democrats, saying his hands are tied.
And breaking news just moments ago, first lady Melania Trump weighing in, her spokesperson telling CNN quote "Mrs. Trump hates to see children separated from her families and hopes both sides of the aisle can finally come together to achieve successful immigration reform. She believes we need to be a country that follows all laws but also a country that governs with heart.
Let's bring in CNN correspondent Polo Sandoval.
So Polo, what is trying to be accomplished at the detention facilities where some lawmakers are trying to get in?
POLO SANDOVAL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, Fred, people will certainly ask about the politics involved here. Optics certainly do matter with what we saw today as this group of seven Democratic lawmakers come here to New Jersey to the detention center behind me, a very nondescript building that you wouldn't know actually this and you didn't actually know who was inside. About 250 undocumented people who continue to be held there.
What we saw today are those seen Democratic lawmakers who traveled here, an unannounced visit. They have been working with the legal team, five undocumented men who continue to be housed here. They wanted to visit with them. They wanted to see what conditions they are being ere kept in.
Certainly made for some intense moments here, these lawmakers from the New York and New Jersey area to have to wait an hour and 45 minutes to finally be able to make their way in.
And Representative Jerrold Nadler of New York led the group. HE spoke to reporters immediately after making his way inside.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. JERROLD NADLER (D), NEW YORK: We must not turn our backs on people who are fleeing from danger from murderous gangs, from political oppression. If the United States has any reason for being, it's to be a refuge or haven for those who should not fear political oppression or violence on their families.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[14:35:07] SANDOVAL: Now this team of Democrats traveled here to meet with those five men, three of whom had been separated from their children recently at the border, Fred. That was really the main objective here, was to come, to see and to challenge the Trump administration's recent practice of separating children from their parents in order to press criminal charges against those who entered the country illegally.
And of course, it is important to point out, this is not the only place we have seen this play out. Two weeks ago Senator Merkley of Oregon tried to gain access in a similar facility that house children in this cage though down in South Texas. He was certainly not allowed to enter that cage. But what we saw today play out, yes, they were able to make their way inside -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: So Polo, just for clarity, just so everybody understands, the facility where you are located. Are you saying that some of the people who are being detained there did try to cross a southern border, were then transported to that facility in New Jersey? Or are you saying undocumented people who are being detained there were picked up in differing circumstances and are detained there and these lawmakers want contact with them?
SANDOVAL: I asked that same question, and it seems there is a mix among the population here that's being housed at the detention center. There are some who are still going through immigration proceedings, but as one of the congressmen told me, three of the five people that were here to visit were apprehended at the border and then they were transferred here to New Jersey.
We weren't quite sure, but the congressman did say they can only assume they likely had some family here, so that made it a little easy to have interaction with their family as those immigration proceedings continue.
WHITFIELD: Thank you so much for that. Polo Sandoval, appreciate it, in Elizabeth, New Jersey.
All right. Coming up, Kellyanne Conway says it is up to Congress to fix the immigration system and stop the separation of families. We will discuss the political divide, next.
[14:42:34] WHITFIELD: Growing vocal opposition to the Trump administration's decision to enforce a practice separating undocumented immigrant children from their parents at the border. DHS, department of homeland security, confirms that nearly 2,000 children and parents were separated between April and May.
Joining me right now, CNN political commentator Andre Bauer and marc Lamont Hill.
Good to see you, both. And Happy father's day, too, on this day. Let's talk about this. This is really troubling so many people.
So Andre, President Trump suggested that Democrats are trying to use their situation to their political benefit. Is he wrong?
ANDRE BAUER, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, I think he is. You know, from my perspective, of course, I'm sure it's different than Marc's, but look. President Obama had the same situation. No one, Republican or democrat, want to see people separated from their children. I mean, you just don't.
WHITFIELD: But it is happening, so what is the response and explanation as to why it has to happen this way? BAUER: Well, we are a nation of laws, number one. And so, there are
certain things that the government has deemed necessary for people to go through. And as 20 days is the maximum they can be separated, you know, the conditions are good. It's not that they are in deplorable conditions. We don't want that but there has to be something.
And we really, as a nation, has got to get our hands around, illegal immigration, whether it's coming across the border or in multiple other ways, we have a problem in this country. And we got a larger problem in the fact that we continue to see mass numbers of people that we have no idea who they are or where they are from, and people are actually at the border telling people the risk of bringing their children in and these people choose to continue to go against the law --
WHITFIELD: Well, does it not speak to the desperation as to why families, children, are making this very difficult journey to get to a place where they believe life will be better?
MARC LAMONT HILL, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: True.
BAUER: The reason they want to come here is we are a nation of laws and it is better here. And that's why they want to come here. But as long as we start as lawmakers picking and choosing which laws we enforce and which laws we don't, we no longer a nation that anybody wants to come to.
WHITFIELD: All right. So Marc, do you see it as this is the law. This is the law being enforced. And this is the only way until members of Congress come up with a new measure?
HILL: Well, Andre is a smart and principled man. I'm sure he could look throughout history and find a number of laws that were on the books that he would have hoped the government didn't enforce. Slavery was the law, lynching was the law, interracial marriage -- being illegal was --
[14:45:04] WHITFIELD: But where is the law say separating children, minors, from their accompanying parents?
HILL: That's my next point. Well, that is a great point. I just want to be very clear. That just because it's a law that mean we have to go for it because some law are based on principle.
WHITFIELD: Marc, go ahead.
HILL: Let me finish my point. So the other thing here is the President has multiple options. The law doesn't say you have to separate families. You could release the entire family. The President also has the option of changing the law. You said President Obama had the same circumstance. President Obama's response was to open family detention centers, not to separate families from their children or children from their families. There are multiple actions and we don't have to enforce this law.
It's only in April when the President announces that there is going to be a zero tolerance approach combined with the legal consequences of the Flores settlement that we end up in the situation where these -- children being ripped from parents.
But this is not the law. The law doesn't say we have to do this. Donald Trump is choosing to do this and then he is deflecting blame and trying to blame Democrats and trying to blame Congress as opposed to saying, hey, I could have a different option here. Another option is on the table, one that is not cruel or inhumane.
WHITFIELD: So the President said he hates the idea of separating children from their families, their parents. The first lady, through her spokesperson, came out with a statement saying she hates that children are being separated from their families.
This is the President's adviser, Kellyanne Conway, today. Listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELLYANNE CONWAY, WHITE HOUSE COUNSELOR: As a mother, as a catholic, as somebody who has got a conscience and wouldn't say the junk that somebody said, apparently, allegedly, I will tell you that nobody likes this policy. You saw the President on camera, that he wants this to end. But everybody has -- Congress has to act.
CHUCK TODD, MSNBC HOST, MEET THE PRESS DAILY: He can end it on his own.
CONWAY: Chuck, Congress passed a law that it is a crime. This is a congressional law from many years ago. It is a crime to enter this country illegally. So if they don't like that law, they should change it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
WHITFIELD: So, Andre, isn't it the President who just started this circumstance? Is it not the President who can end this circumstance?
BAUER: Well, look, we talked about President Obama previously, and we saw people in cages. It was blamed on that administration, in fact, it wasn't.
At the end of the way, there have to be things to deter millions of people from continually coming into our country illegally. There is a reason they want to come here but we take away that reason every day when we let more and more people to come here illegally. And look, they put their children at risk. One they are trying to sneak him across at night with armed guards.
But we know that is going through water. All of those are dangerous thing. That they accused to put their children in. They keep going to American embassy if they are seeking asylum. And so we are -- this has become for political because it is for good TV and for good politics to get voters who are not. But at the end of the day, we have to enforce law. We have to have
borders. And if you done, we will no longer a country.
WHITFIELD: something to deter millions of people from coming into our country illegally. There are reasons they want to come here, but we take away that reason every day when we let more and more people come here illegally. They put their children at risk when they try to sneak in overnight, over dangerous waters. They can go to the American embassy if they're seeking asylum. This has become more political because it's good for TV and good for politics to get voters worked up. But at the end of the day, we have to enforce laws, we have to have borders. If we don't, we will no longer be a country.
HILL: Mark, what's your response to all that?
HILL: So Fred, you asked a great question, which is, couldn't the President unilaterally stop as Andre manages to do everything they had to answer question? Yes, he could. He could not enforce a zero tolerance policy. They couldn't release the entire family. Even under the so-called law, the laws that they released the entire families right now. That would absolutely be the law.
Andre said something really important. I'm glad you said. He said that this is a deterrent. This is a political strategy designed to deter families from entering. The fact that it's a deterrent and not a legal obligation is exactly why we could not do it.
And Andre is also right about the word, asylum. Some of people who have been snatched up in this child separation process haven't been illegal immigrants. They have been asylum seekers and they are still being snatched from their families.
So there are range of reasons why this is problematic, why it's not a legal necessity and why, again, it's cruel and inhumane.
And I think Andre is right. That these people are risking their families. They are risking their very lives to enter the United States. We have to ask ourselves, what economic policies, what social realities, what institutional arrangement have we created. And someone would be willing to risk such high stakes to enter? And until we address that and until we address a very mean and stubborn and ultimately inhumane administration that continues to rip children and babies from their parents, they will never get a solution here.
WHITFIELD: Marc Lamont Hill, Andre Bauer.
BAUER: And for some reason they still want to come here.
WHITFIELD: Because, he just spelled it out, for so many families. It's that bad that they are seeking a new place, a new beginning, a new chance, and that as where we are.
All right, Andre, Marc, thank you so much.
All right. Still ahead, President Trump defends his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as we wait for word about their expected phone call today. Details on that, next.
[14:54:07] WHITFIELD: All right. In a world where the American President makes peace with a ruthless dictator through their affection for corny movie trailers?
Our Jake Tapper has that in this week's state of the cartoonian.
JAKE TAPPER, CNN CHIEF WASHINGTON CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Perhaps the oddest moment of the Singapore summit was a presentation of a fake movie trailer that the White House created to try to convince Kim Jong-un to give up his nuclear weapons.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Destiny Pictures presents --.
TAPPER: Done in the style of a big budget summer blockbuster --
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Featuring President Donald Trump and chairman Kim Jong-un in a meeting to remake history.
TAPPER: This is real. We didn't make it up.
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I showed it to him and I think he loved it.
TAPPER: But we did wonder after this week, couldn't Kim and Trump just as easily pair up for a buddy flick? Perhaps the next "Lethal Weapon." Though in truth, no matter how much the President wants to gloss over it, Kim Jong-un belongs in a horror film.
Though at times this past year the cartoony behavior seems to have lent itself better to animation.
[14:55:17] TRUMP: Rocket man should have been handled a long time ago.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You are a sad, strange little man.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Very well.
TAPPER: Although, the way Trump have been talking about Kim recently.
TRUMP: We have developed a pretty good relationship. We have done something that we are pretty proud of.
TAPPER: Maybe Rahm Khan is more appropriate.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You complete me.
WHITFIELD: All right. We have got so much more straight ahead in the NEWSROOM. And it all starts after this quick break. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)