Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Lewandowski Refuses to Apologize for Mocking Disabled Child; Ex Janitor Showcases Personal Items Seized from Immigrants; Wilbur Ross: Allegations of Insider Trading "Completely False". Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 20, 2018 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN ANCHOR: Before we discuss, we should clarify. Customs and Border Patrol released a statement about this incident at the border that the agency, quote/unquote, "separated a child with Down syndrome from her mother as a result of a smuggling attempt on June 3rd. This was not a result of zero tolerance as the mother is not being prosecuted, rather being held as a witness in the smuggling incident."

With me now, Zac Petkanas, a former spokesman for Hillary Clinton who was there arguing with Lewandowski in that first clip. Also with me, CNN legal and political commentator, Ken Cuccinelli.

Zac, first to you.

(APPLAUSE)

I mean what were you thinking in that moment?

ZAC PETKANAS, DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE ADVISOR: I was honestly so shocked in the moment and filled with just rage. I don't know about you, but I have been losing sleep over what is happening at the border. It makes me so emotional. To hear this kind of callousness from somebody currently affiliated with the Trump orbit -- he works with Vice President Pence's super PAC. He talks to the president constantly. The fact that he would say something to dismiss the pain of a 10-year-old, this particular girl who suffers with Down syndrome is just beyond the pale. I shouldn't be that shocked because it is emblematic of this larger policy of cruelty, separating children from their parents, putting them into cages. It's disgusting. It's immoral. It's important we calm out evil anywhere we see it.

BALDWIN: On that point, Ken, I want you to jump in. Let me broaden it out. This is not just about what Corey Lewandowski said. This is about this whole political discourse. Now you have Michael Graham, a Republican running for Congress in New York, he was actually asked about the audio that we've heard in the last 24 to 48 hours, the kids, the cries, the kids being separated from their parents. This is what he said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MICHAEL GRAHAM, (R), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE FOR NEW YORK: You know what it sounds like to me, exactly the same times I go to a gym and they have a day care and some of the kids cry when the parents leave them in the day care. It sounds exactly the same to me.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Day care. Border crisis. Ken, where is the civility?

KEN CUCCINELLI, CNN LEGAL & POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, I'm not going to defend Corey Lewandowski's exchange yesterday. I don't really think it's defensible.

I do think there's a broader question. It does come down to, to use one example there, Brooke, of are you going to enforce the law with everything that entails or aren't you? So now the president is going to come out with, you know, an executive order where we will keep families together even while detaining them. That sounds to me very logistically challenging, particularly under the Flores settlement you were talking about with an earlier guest, where they have 20 days to process families that have children. Otherwise, they have to release the children. So now you create -- you have solved one small problem, and/or large - for each family it's big deal, obviously -- but you have created a new one. And people should know, here it is, late June, come the middle of July or possibly the end of July, you will probably see a preliminary injunction in the DACA case that will end DACA as well.

So the overall pressure in the immigration policy space is going to ratchet up in July. Now, Mitch McConnell just said, we're not going to have an August recess. I presume the House will do the same. And I have a funny feeling that immigration will be a part of the discussion for the entire summer because the pressure will keep mounting.

BALDWIN: As the pressure keeps mounting, it's so important to hear how Americans feel, on the right and on the left.

I want to play some sound. These are some Trump supporters, who talked to Martin Savidge, who have been very much in support of this administration's policy of separating these kids from their parents. Watch this.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: These people that we have coming across the border illegally. They're breaking the rules.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You can't come into this state and, you know what I'm saying. I don't know how to explain.

MARTIN SAVIDGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: You think the people are living off the state? Doing it illegally?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Absolutely. Absolutely. I think it's (EXPLETIVE DELETED).

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're trying to make us feel teary eyed for the children. Yes, I love children a great deal. But to me, it's up to the parents to do things rightfully and legally. (END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: I mean, there, Ken, staying with you, they're pretty much repeating the president's exact words. I don't have them in front of me. The president is signing executive action, they may feel the president caved. Do you think he caved?

[14:35:14] CUCCINELLI: I don't think he caved. I think you heard me describe it. I think they've traded one challenge for another one.

BALDWIN: For another.

CUCCINELLI: So 20 days from the implementation of this policy, we're going to know whether they're able to actually process these families in that time frame with any sort of regularity. Otherwise, they're going to be releasing children. The settlement has them only release the children, which raises interesting questions. I have a funny feeling a lot of people on the left will be perfectly happy to have them released, even though they won't have their parents. Their parents will be held. They will be released into the United States. The question I keep seeing asked, why don't they reunite them and send them across the border they came in. I think you will hear that question rise more and more and more. And the system we have -- the Obama administration owns a lot of the recent ramp-up of this. They have the responsibility for it. Is encouraging these families to come and encouraging parents to use their children as essentially a bargaining chip to get into this country. And you can say other people on the other side of the immigration policy debate see this kind of pressure as another form of leverage in the other direction. And I think both are correct. Both sides are doing that.

BALDWIN: I just want to get Zac, and a final note, just responding to what Ken said. Do you agree? What do you think?

PETKANAS: Look, the problem is, I have a lot of concerns with this executive order. We don't know what it is. It could be setting up for keeping kids in adult detention centers with their parents but indefinitely. There's a very simple way that this administration can reverse the course they began in April of this year. That is simply picking up the phone and stopping this policy. We don't knee another executive order. We don't need action by Congress to stop this policy.

(CROSSTALK)

CUCCINELLI: You mean letting illegals into this country.

(CROSSTALK)

CUCCINELLI: That's what you mean.

PETKANAS: I'm talking about stopping this inhumane activity that's going on and -

(CROSSTALK)

PETKANAS: -- working in good faith

CUCCINELLI: That's what you're saying.

PETKANAS: -- to create an immigration system that is not broken. No one disagrees the immigration system is broken. But what you are saying is that what we need to hold these kids and families hostage until Democrats agree to the demands by this White House that include things like stopping legal immigration, cutting legal immigration. That's not OK.

BALDWIN: OK. We're going to leave it.

But, Ken, I think you are right. I think we will be talking about this through the month of August.

CUCCINELLI: All summer.

BALDWIN: Ken, Zac --

CUCCINELLI: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: -- thank you so much.

Ahead here on CNN, rosaries, razors, jars of baby food. These are items a Customs and Border Protection janitor found in the trash during his years on the job. Why he decided to tell the story of all these items these immigrants for years left behind.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:42:31] BALDWIN: As we continue today, these incredible photographs, shaving razors or pocket Bibles, water bottles. These photos were taken by Tom Kiefer, a former janitor with Customs and Border Protection in Arizona. He would see thousands of personal items belonging to these undocumented immigrants, who were coming across, they were in the trash. The items had been confiscated by border agents and tossed out.

Tom Kiefer, let's pick up the story with you now and this American Dream project of yours.

A pleasure to have you on.

Can you talk to me about how you got this idea in the first place? You were essentially sneaking out the trash at your job. Why did you want to check these items? What does this mean to you?

TOM KIEFER, SAVED & PHOTOGRAPHED IMMIGRANT PERSONAL ITEMS: Well, first you after, thank you, Brooke, for having me here. It's a little nervous being on TV.

BALDWIN: You got it.

KIEFER: But it wasn't as much -- it wasn't as much sneaking as I started working at the station part time in 2003 and, about four years into my tenure there, I was really becoming disturbed by all the food, you know the canned food that the migrants carried with them crossing the desert that was just being thrown away. One day, I mustered up the courage, and I said, can I please bring this food to our food bank? Their exact words were, "Bless you." There was actually a precedent for this, because the agents, themselves, when I first started working there were bringing this food, digging it out of the trash, bringing it to our food bank. So it wasn't like I was asking for the moon.

When they gave me permission to collect food, that's my entry point. That's when I started seeing what was thrown away. So when I would come across a Bible or a rosary, it's like there was no way I was going to let those items remain in the trash. So that's the sneaking part. I retrieved these items without their knowledge that I was doing this, but I was not going to let those items remain in the trash.

BALDWIN: Tom, I hear talking about some of these photos gets you emotional. Do you have one particular photo or item you collected that means the most to you?

KIEFER: You know, it all means -- I mean, these are deeply personal items. These are things that people brought with them, you know, in hope of restarting their American Dream or coming here for the first time. So bottles of cologne, perfume. When I came across my first bottle of cologne, I thought this was an odd thing to choose to carry with them in their backpack. But then when I started thinking of what that bottle meant, that represented their hopes and dreams, a job interview that they were going to prepare for. I mean, it just took on a completely whole different meaning.

[14:45:37] BALDWIN: The little things I always say.

Tom Kiefer, you are on artist. These are beautiful photos. Thank you so much. It's called the American Dream.

Tom, thank you. Good luck to you.

KIEFER: Thank you, Brooke. Thank you.

BALDWIN: Thank you.

Coming up next, another Trump cabinet member in trouble today as allegations of insider trading emerge. How Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is responding.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:50:37] BALDWIN: Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is rejecting what he says are unfounded allegations that he participated in insider trading involving a Kremlin-linked shipping firm. This, after the "New York Times" and "Forbes" scrutinized Ross's financial transactions. "The Times" reports Ross shortened stock when he heard the newspaper was digging into his financial holdings. The stock was valued somewhere between $100,000 to $250,000.

To Norm Eisen, a former ambassador and former White House ethics czar to President Obama.

Mr. Ambassador, a pleasure to have you on.

Let me make sure I get part of the Commerce Secretary's statement to CNN. This is what he is saying, "These allegations are completely false. I did not receive any non-public information due to my government position. The fact that the reporter planned to do a story on me certainly is not market-moving information.

So, Ambassador Eisen, he disclosed the short sell to the Office of Government Ethics. Is it possible he violated the law even if he says he disclosed it?

NORM EISEN, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Brooke, thanks for having me back. I do think there are serious questions here that need to be looked at and we can't just take Mr. Ross' word for it. Number one, you had a short sale. In effect, you had Mr. Ross who moved stocks of Navigator would go done. He knew that the "New York Times" was planning the story. It was not known to the world. And he had inside information from his experience serving at that company about the inside issues that, if exposed, might cause the stocks to fall. So it needs to be independently scrutinized. It is possible there's a violation of the Stock Act or the insider trading laws.

One other thing, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes.

EISEN: We've seen a pattern in this Trump administration --

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: That's what I wanted to ask. If this is a part of a broader pattern. You say yes.

EISEN: It is in several ways, Brooke. Number one, there has been an abuse, a known abuse of the ethics process. People go to the ethics officers -- I know them all, they're good people -- they get partial information from these Trump officials. It happened, for example, with Scott Pruitt, luxury lobbyist logic, right? He said, oh, I told the ethics official. They said, wait a minute, you didn't make full disclosure. We need to know, did Ross make full disclosure? That's number one.

Then there's the other pattern, of course. Mr. Ross, there have been other serious allegation as to him and as to so many others in this organization. Even the president of the United States is the subject of a criminal investigation. So those patterns matter, too.

BALDWIN: We continue to dig on all of the above.

Ambassador Norm Eisen, good to have you on. Thank you.

EISEN: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: More on our breaking news now. The president is backing down on his stance over family separations on the border. We are told he will sign an executive order stopping them. We'll have for you the role of his wife, Melania Trump, played.

And is Michael Cohen getting ready to flip? Friends say he is willing to give information on President Trump. Stay with me.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:58:26] BALDWIN: Week one of the 2018 World Cup is about to end, but not without Portugal snagging a massive victory. It snagged its first World Cup win against Morocco. And is there a beer shortage in Russia? You heard me right.

Amanda Davis has more from Moscow -- Amanda?

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

AMANDA DAVIS, CNN SPORTS ANCHOR: Brooke, the World Cup at the moment the biggest stars are expected to shine. Some struggle, others thrive. And that is exactly what Cristiano Ronaldo has done. All eyes were on the Portuguese superstar after he scored a hat trick for his side opening game. Today, he's made the difference again, throwing a decisive goal to beat Morocco to end their World Cup dreams.

On the flip side, they are still celebrating here in Moscow after Russia, last night, secured their second win in two days and all but confirmed their place in the next round. It is a very good job. There are reports they are running out of beer already. And we still have four weeks to go -- Brooke?

(END VIDEOTAPE)

ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

BALDWIN: We continue on. You are watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

The breaking news is this. After days of images of children on our southern border alone, in cages, sleeping on mats under these foil blankets, wailing for their parents, the president has changed his mind, it appears. He is turning his finger pointing and false claims into a promise to end family separations at the border with Mexico. The president saying he will "sign something soon" -- his words -- an executive order to help keep families together. This is what he said just a short time ago.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

[15:00:02] DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are very strong at the border. We're very strong on security. We want security for our country. The Republicans want security and insist on security for our country. And we will --