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Immigrant Children Say They Were Beaten at Virginia Facility; "Time" Cover Shows Trump Looming Over Crying Immigrant Girl; Trump's Minnesota Speech Veers into A Venting Session; Trump Praises Kim Jong- Il Going and Criticizes John McCain at Rally. Aired 3:30-4p ET
Aired June 21, 2018 - 15:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Images of migrant children in cages left so many people outraged, right, calling for changes, but court filings show the poor treatment of immigrant minors extends way beyond the latest photos. New allegations are surfacing about what is happening to other migrant children, some of whom came to the U.S. without their parents. In court filings, children at the facility near Stanton, Virginia, said they were beaten and abused. CNN Brian Todd is outside that center. Brian, beaten and abused. What do you know?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Right, Brooke. Some jarring allegations against the staff members here at the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center, this is from court filings from last year and this year, but the allegations date back, we have to say, at least a couple years to the time of the Obama administration and we have to clarify that, as well. It's also not clear whether some of these children were not here during the time of the Obama administration. Some of them were unaccompanied minors and some were separated from their parents earlier.
It's not clear that any of the more brought here by the new wave of undocumented children who were separated from their parents during the President's get-tough policy. We have to clarify that. The allegations here, Brooke, are really surprising. Just shocking. According to court documents, children here accuse the guards and other staff members here of forcibly restraining them in chairs with handcuffs. Sometimes for days. At least two minors accused staff members of pulling hoods over their heads, restraints over their faces similar to hoods with holes so they can breathe. According to court documents one children said I thought they were going to suffocate me, I thought they were going to kill me.
Other children described being beaten while they were being restrained, poked and stabbed with pens. One described being strapped to a chair naked for at least two days. Now in court documents, the staff here at Shenandoah denied all the allegations of assault and they admit that they do use a restraining chair only in those cases where there is aggression by the minors that has escalated, and they only use it as a last resort. We just got a statement from Shenandoah saying they believe the charges in these court documents are without merit and they look forward to proving that to a jury. Brooke?
BALDWIN: Is it true, Brian, that some of these children are inaccurately designated as gang members?
TODD: There was an indication of that, Brooke, in testimony in April by a lady named Kelsey Wong who is an administrator here. She said they were led to believe, possibly under false pretext that some kids brought here were members of gangs. Here is a section of her testimony.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
KELSEY WONG, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, SHENANDOAH VALLEY JUVENILE CENTER: The youth were being screened as gang-involved individuals and then when they came into our care and they were assessed by our clinical and case management staff, they didn't necessarily meet those -- they weren't necessarily identified as gang involved individuals.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TODD: And, again, the staff members here at Shenandoah are denying all the allegations of abuse. We have just learned that the governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, is ordering an investigation into these allegations.
BALDWIN: Brian Todd in Stanton, Virginia. Thank you so much.
Coming up next, the new "Time" magazine cover. Look at this. Everyone is talking about this today. It says, "welcome to America" with the image of the President looking down on that little girl photographed over the weekend by Getty photographer, John Moore. We'll talk behind the editor of this striking image ahead.
[15:35:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: The controversy over what's happening at the U.S. border has made a lot of people, obviously, step back and assess what it means to be an American. "Time" magazine is doing it this way. Their newest cover shows the famous image of the young Honduran girl crying as the President towers over her. And the headline simply welcome to America.
Joining me, the minds behind this piece, Karl Vick, the editor at large for "Time" and Molly Ball, the magazine's national political correspondent and also a CNN political analyst. So, thank you for, both, being with me. Karl, I want to start with you here. We were talking to John Moore earlier this week's you Getty photographer who took the striking image of the little girl and tell me the story behind the story. Tell me how you came to this cover.
KARL VICK, EDITOR AT LARGE, "TIME": Well, one way or another we were probably going to use that girl because she is sort of the iconic image. Sort of the shorthand for everything. And then it was a matter, we call this a photo illustration, obviously. The President has never met her. But they just seemed to go together once you put them both on the cover in that dynamic. It captured a lot and then it was a matter of what you say with it. And "welcome to America" works.
BALDWIN: Welcome to America, and what this means to be an American. There are all of these accompanying pieces obviously in this magazine. Molly, I read yours and you write about how this moment is not just this test for Trump but reckoning for America. We know he thrives in chaos. You write he thinks shock is a temporary condition, moral outrage is phony posturing and that the American people can be numbed to just about anything. Hard to imagine that we would ever be numb to something like this, but do you think there is any truth to the President's thinking?
MOLLY BALL, NATIONAL POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT, "TIME": I think what will test that is the long term. What we have seen with Trump really since the campaign is he does or says something outrageous. There is a huge controversy that erupts, and everyone gets really, really mad and something else happens.
[15:40:00] BALDWIN: There is a new bright shiny object.
BALL: Something else that he has done and, you know, I don't think that we in the media are wrong to react the way we do when each of these is a big deal, right? But it's -- but people then move on. And his theory is if you just wait out that wave of outrage people will move on. This was an interesting crisis because you did see this universal condemnation even from the Republicans in the House and Senate who are usually somewhat docile, do what Trump tells them to do.
Supporters in the evangelical community and we saw him bow to that pressure somewhat. The question will be, we don't actually know what the executive order is going to do. If the thousands of children and parents who are separated will ever be put back together. We don't know if where this is going if families held in camps for long periods of time. The question is, the American people who are now so angry about this and, according to polls, they are, will they just move on and start to accept that this is just something that we do when and if something else comes along?
BALDWIN: I was sort of struck at silence listening to Barbara Starr reporting the military is prepared to house in facilities across the country as many as 20,000 children and their families and where we are going to go as far as this story is concerned. Karl, you asked the question, what kind of country are we? What is your answer.
VICK: We know now. But generally, Presidents tell us who we are. It's one of the jobs of the President is to speak to our national's principles and ideals and Trump doesn't talk like that. He doesn't use high-minded language. He doesn't speak of ideals. He doesn't echo the founders, which pretty much every President, certainly every great President has done. He speaks only to his base. It's a really striking thing. I have been talking with, you see in the story, experts on Presidential rhetoric. And this episode is a case of the country telling the President what we're about. And what kind of country we are. It's a role reversal and really quite striking.
BALDWIN: It is interesting, you had -- what were the words in your piece, you counted up or someone counted up how many times he actually used the words human rights and other words like that and it's not a high number. VICK: It's not a high number. I mean, there's databases now and just
a database that has 5 million of Trump's words and only six or eight or something, six or eight times says human rights and Ronald Reagan at the same point in his presidency said it four times more than that, 48 times. So, 48 times altogether. So, he simply is not high-minded.
BALDWIN: Karl Vick and Molly Ball, thank you, both, so very much. Stunning cover of "Time."
Still ahead, the President going off script and venting about familiar targets. The FBI, the so-called liberal elites and even Senator John McCain who is fighting brain cancer. We'll be right back.
[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: Hours after reversing courts yesterday on separating migrant children from their families President Trump headlined a rally in Minnesota. Instead of spending time on immigration or midterm elections, he went off script about a lot of things.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: It was a great meeting and Kim Jong-Un will turn down and I will tell, he will turn, Chairman Kim, will turn that country into a great successful country.
With me, nothing, no collusion, no nothing and they just wanted to take all of us. They wanted to put us in trouble. And it's not working too well. I'll tell you.
With Peter Strzok and his lover, Lisa Page. I don't think their wife and husband are too happy about that. What do you think?
Everybody said we have his vote, we have everybody's vote, we are going into a routine repeal and replace, and he went thumbs down. Not nice.
Did you ever notice they always call the other side, and they do this, the elite? The elite. Why are they elite? I have a much better apartment than they do. I'm smarter than they are. I'm richer than they are. I became President and they didn't.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BALDWIN: Let's start there. Paul Begala and Democratic strategist, Alice Stewart Republican strategist. I mean, on that last clip on the elite, it's almost like, I'm richer, I'm smarter, my apartment is bigger, but I am wondering for you, Paul, just what does that say about the man because it seems like he has really been obsessed his whole life about being elite.
PAUL BEGALA, DEMOCRATIC STRATEGIST: Well, he's a total narcissist, as we know. Really interesting and actually really successful political ploy. I'm one of you. He's talking about real salt to the earth working class men and women.
[15:50:00] And he says to them. I have the nicest apartment and I've seen pictures, it's decorated by Tony Montana or Liberace or something, it's
disgusting, and it's very expensive and he's kind of trying to say, you know, I'm your elite. I'm what you would be if you inherited the millions of dollars I inherited. I think it works, personally not on me, but I'm not the target vote.
BALDWIN: It's effective.
ALICE STEWART, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: For work events, I'll preface that, I have been in his apartment, it's actually very nice. It's a nice apartment but it was for work. Clearly, the elite comment was what he does at campaign events. This is a campaign event in the iron range northern Minnesota, and what he does at campaign events, it brought back cold sweats from the campaign of 2016. This is what he does when he is at one of these. He throws meat to the base and shade to the rest and this was throwing shade to the elite telling people in Minnesota and people across the Midwest I might be richer, smarter, might have a nicer apartment than those on the east and west coast but I'm for you, supporting jobs, support the iron industry, strong borders and this is what he's doing. Trying to get voters in Minnesota and in the Midwest to get out and vote in the midterm elections and this is what he does.
BALDWIN: The base loves the shade, right? To your point it is effective. What about the comments on John McCain? I can't get past the fact this is a man, a veteran, a survivor who is battling brain cancer. And I just don't understand, especially after that, you know, aide made that horrible joke about McCain dying how on a human level he thinks this is OK.
STEWART: It is not OK to criticize John McCain. It is not OK to criticize other Republicans in general. Certainly, those that are the health that McCain is in and started this off with the preface of talking about health care. Again, another issue that resonates with the base and that audience is him talking about repealing and replacing Obamacare and how they were able to pull back a key facet of Obamacare and that is something that they love. They cheered. They loved hearing that. And the need comments what he does and as I said, this is what ignites them. We heard campaign chants. Mention Hillary Clinton, chanting lock her up. He talks about immigration.
BALDWIN: John McCain, if we can just stay on McCain. Were you encouraged when that woman got up and stood up defending?
BEGALA: Said he's a hero. The way I heard it. He's a hero, because he is. This President knows no shame. This is not I think politics for him. Not politically wise but his character, which is utterly lacking, he has a malignant soul, he's a bad man.
I'm sorry. It is true. John McCain is an American hero. I say this as a Democrat that worked against him when he ran for president. By the way, I wrote a book criticizing his candidacy, and I went back and looked at it, and I said then, schoolchildren should study this man's heroism. His personal character and heroism is outstanding. At the Democrat in a book to criticizes his campaign. Any decent person looks at John McCain, especially now that he's battling a brain tumor and says Godspeed John McCain, we love you John McCain. He said nicest things by Kim Jong-Un who has murdered Americans than John McCain who has been tortured for America. I'm sorry. That's unforgivable.
BALDWIN: Do you think that's effective for him saying that in Duluth?
BEGALA: No, no. I don't think it helps with his base. His base are really good people. They're great people He debases them and himself trying that kind of stuff.
STEWART: And there are people in that crowd that shared the views. One person with the courage to say he is a hero shared that view about John McCain and when you're in an event you get caught up in the moment but that being said myself included, many Republicans, respect and admire the heroism of John McCain, the service to this country. I had the privilege of working alongside him and during the different Presidential election years and nothing more than respectful and honorable person.
BALDWIN: Last quick question. This whole crisis on the border, is this the darkest moments of the presidency so far? To either of you.
BEGALA: We were literally talking about this in the green room and compared to Charlottesville which may have been worse because he was praising --
BALDWIN: Both sides.
BEGALA: Praising Nazis! He said pretty good people. And American killed there, Heather Heyer, 32-year-old woman killed. Hard to compare. This is right up there, don't you think?
STEWART: The heartburn that a lot of people have is what's happened the last several days or weeks with children. And children being separated from their parents and that's been a heartbreaking situation. Thank goodness the President stepped in and said we won't have it anymore. We deal away with that policy. But in the end, this was what we knew the President was going to do. He was going to be firm on immigration, enforce the border, make sure that the immigration laws adhered to and this is something I believe he let it go on too long.
[15:55:00] I think the images of the children separated went on too long and unfortunately what it has done a lot of women out there who have been supportive of this President and really let a lot of things slide seeing the images of the children is something they have a hard time getting over.
BALDWIN: Which is going to trickle into November. I have a feeling. Molly Ball and I were just talking about. Alice and Paul, thank you so very much.
Next here on CNN, more on our breaking news. First lady Trump making a surprise visit at this Texas immigration center after her husband reverses himself on separating families at the border. We'll be right back.
[16:00:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BALDWIN: And this week's Mighty Millennial political segment we are turning our focus to Georgia. And the young woman who has been sworn in as a new commissioner in Athens Clark County. Mariah Parker did not take the oath using the Bible. Instead, you see her raising the fist in the air and placing her left hand on a well-worn copy of the autobiography of Malcolm X.
Parker said a need for vocal leadership was her motivation to run for office. She said she chose Malcolm X's autobiography because like her the slain human rights advocate overcame difficult circumstances.
I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts now.