Return to Transcripts main page
THE SITUATION ROOM
DOJ Seeks to Extend Child Detentions Amid Confusion Over Trump Order; Jacket Spurs Questions as First Lady Visits Detained Kids; Migrant Children Locked Up by U.S. Allegedly Drugged, Abused; Trump: "Looking At The Possibility" Of July Meeting With Putin. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired June 21, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
WOLF BLITZER, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news. Chaos ensues. President Trump's executive order on migrant family separations is causing confusion as the administration struggles to explain what happens now. And the president's latest remarks are only adding to the uncertainty.
[17:00:20] Full message jacket. First lady Melania Trump pays a surprise visit to a Texas facility housing detained migrant children, but her unusual fashion choice steals the show. What do the cryptic words on her jacket mean? And who are they aimed at?
Detention nightmare. Disturbing allegations against facilities housing detained migrant children, including abuse and forcing them to take mood-changing drugs. We're learning new details.
And Putin on a summit. President Trump says he's considering meeting Russian President Vladimir Putin next month. Where will they meet, and what tone will President Trump take with his Russian counterpart?
I'm Wolf Blitzer. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
BLITZER: We're following breaking news. The Trump administration now asking a judge for permission to hold detained migrant children past the current 20-day limit in the wake of President Trump's order aimed at ending family separation.
But the president's reversal on its controversial policy has only sparked more confusion, and it remains unclear whether any of the 2,300 children taken from their parents in recent weeks will be reunited with them any time soon.
We'll talk about it with the president of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd. And our specialists and analysts are all standing by.
First, let's go straight to our chief White House correspondent, Jim Acosta.
Jim, the chaos around this crisis continues despite the president's executive order.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It sure does, Wolf. The White House is struggling tonight to explain what is happening to the children who were separated from their parents at the border.
Today, the president said his executive order ending the practice may only be, quote, "limited." And the first lady, who was trying to show her compassion with a visit to the border earlier today, stepped on her own message with a jacket that has to be seen to be believed.
ACOSTA (voice-over): It was a tale of two Trumps. While the first lady attempted to show sympathy, visiting the children taken from their migrant parents at the border, the president was creating more confusion, telling his cabinet that his executive order aimed at ending the family separations is limited.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I signed a very good executive order yesterday, but that's only limited. No matter how you cut it, it leads to separation, ultimately.
ACOSTA: The president also tried to downplay the conditions inside the facilities, where the children are being held against their will.
TRUMP: We have a situation where some of these places, they're really running them well. It's the nicest that people have seen.
ACOSTA: Mr. Trump was playing politics, accusing Democrats of seeking to turn the detention spaces into resorts.
TRUMP: They want us to take care of bed space and resources and personnel and take everybody and, you know, like, let's run the most luxurious hotel in the world for everybody. But they don't want to give us the money.
ACOSTA: The president also falsely accused Democrats of sparking the crisis his administration started.
TRUMP: They've created, and they've let it happen, a massive child smuggling industry.
ACOSTA: Despite the searing images of suffering children seen around the world, the president sounded detached and bitter.
TRUMP: They walk through a Mexico like it's walking through Central Park.
ACOSTA: Democrats pushed back on the notion they're to blame.
REP. MAZIE HIRONO (D), HAWAII: You know what my strong reaction to that is? It's a lie. So for the president to constantly say that we are against immigration reform that makes sense, that is humane, it's a lie, and in fact, he is the one who is creating chaos at every turn.
MELANIA TRUMP, FIRST LADY: Thank you so much. I heard you have 58 children here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right.
M. TRUMP: Fifty-five. Oh, oh.
ACOSTA: Down at the border, the first lady toured one facility for the separated children that looked more like an elementary school and less like the jail shown in some photos from the region. Mrs. Trump wanted to know how the children are coping.
M. TRUMP: When the children come here, what kind of stage, you know, physical and mental stage they come here?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When they get here, they're very distraught.
ACOSTA: And she asked how she could lend a hand.
M. TRUMP: And I also like to ask you how I can help. To these children to reunite with their families as quickly as possible.
ACOSTA: But it was the message on the back that created a stir: "I really don't care. Do U?" was the question scrawled across the jacket she wore as she left for Texas. The first lady's office said in a statement there was no hidden message.
ACOSTA: Now, as for that jacket, a White House official tells CNN in just the last several minutes that that jacket worn by the first lady was not a message aimed at her husband, the president.
[17:05:00] Of course, we have been reporting earlier today, Wolf, that there was potentially some disagreement between the first lady and the president about going down there. That she was planning to go down there without, really, his approval, and that he finally gave that approval to the first lady for this trip.
Now, as for the Trump administration, we have yet to hear any kind of answers in terms of any sort of basic questions in terms of how these children are going to be reunited with their parents in the coming days. Asked about these pending reunifications, the homeland security secretary told reporters there is a plan for that. But she didn't she didn't say what it was. And multiple officials are telling us, Wolf, today agencies are still awaiting guidance. And of course, so are the kids.
BLITZER: Yes. They're clearly scrambling, those officials.
All right. Jim Acosta at the White House, thank you.
Let's get some more from our chief political correspondent, Dana Bash.
Dana, how did this trip by the first lady come about?
DANA BASH, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, she apparently decided on her own a couple of days ago, before the president signed the executive order yesterday, that she wanted to go down. She wanted to see firsthand what was happening on the border. She'd already tweeted several days ago and made it very clear that she was concerned about this. And we actually heard from the president that she had privately said to him on several occasions, "We have to find a way to fix this."
And look, it is significant in that after, you know, what? More than a week plus of these images blaring out to the world, this is the first time somebody in the Trump inner circle has gone down to see firsthand what exactly is happening at the border as a result of the president and his administration's policies.
So that's what she did. She certainly, as Jim said, toured a facility that is pretty well-run. It is a place run by the Department of -- HHS, Health and Human Services, where they have mostly children who come across the board unaccompanied, about five or six who are actually taken away from their parents because of the separation policy.
But it certainly is and was significant that the first lady wanted to go down there and show the compassionate side, especially the juxtaposition between that and the very, very harsh language we heard about the same time from her husband.
BLITZER: Yes, that difference was stark.
Kate Bennett, our White House reporter, traveled with the first lady to Texas today. She's joining us on the phone right now.
So Kate, update us on the latest information you're getting and also, there's a lot of interest, clearly, in the jacket she was wearing and what it said.
KATE BENNETT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT (via phone): That's right, Wolf. We literally just touched down here back in Washington with the first lady.
Certainly, a lot of the focus has been on this jacket and why she was wearing it. We observed her getting on the plane earlier this morning. We could not read the writing on it because of where we were positioned under the wing of the plane. It was too far away. But, you know, as the story broke, as we were flying back, it certainly is extremely curious.
She was not wearing the jacket when she exited the plane in Texas. Nor did she wear it to the facility to visit the children or back up on the plane. So I'm not sure quite what the reasoning was behind that.
Certainly, she is not one who has worn messaging before so blatantly on her clothes, which is a questionable incident. Her spokeswoman is saying this is not something to focus on. Focus on her good work. This is not about a jacket. However, clearly, it's captured the attention of people on this trip.
BLITZER: Yes. Certainly, she's clearly -- that didn't happen by accident. She was deliberately trying to say something. The question is what was she saying? The words on the back of that jacket: "I really don't care. Do U?" question mark. So everybody agrees she did it for a reason. We don't know what the reason was.
BENNETT: Yes. I mean, listen, I follow the first lady pretty closely. I follow a lot of her fashion choices. I've been the one who's often said she doesn't do anything by accident. She's not a first lady who has coincidences, and most of her fashion choices do send a message.
You know, when we were abroad, her outfits reflected the country that was hosting her. She wore that white pantsuit to the State of the Union. You know, certainly, these are thoughtful things she does. It is to me very unclear who or what that messaging was for.
BLITZER: It wasn't some sort of designer jacket. This was a pretty cheap jacket, if you will. You're going to tell us about that.
But let me read the statement from the first lady's press secretary, who said this. And I'll read it to our viewers: "It's a jacket. There was no hidden message."
This is not the first time, though, she seems to have acted independently, but talk a little bit about the exact jacket.
BENNETT: So the jacket is by Zara, which is a Spanish-based company. Certainly, it's very -- there are Zaras in shopping malls and all over the world, literally all over the world.
It's known for sort of doing trendy clothes that are knockoffs of designer at lower prices. This particular jacket on Zara's web site is listed for $39. Certainly, not in the price range of what the first lady typically wears, which are often designer clothes, you know, as Michelle Obama did, you know. This is the first lady who is sartorially knowledgeable. She used to be a fashion model. Certainly, the jacket of -- a $39 Zara jacket is, again, a sort of curious blip in this day.
Again, as 13 or so members of the press boarded her plane today, we were unaware of what the jacket said from the back. We did notice that she changed, of course, which she often does on the plane and was wearing something different when she landed.
BLITZER: I'm glad you traveled with her, Kate.
So Dana, what was the messaging here on this critically important day?
BASH: Well, it was obviously confused messaging, and this is going to sound maybe like this doesn't pan out in our linear thing, but I'm going to say, but it was confused messaging on purpose.
This was a jacket that, as Kate said, and as she's reported so many times, that, obviously, the first lady wore on purpose. Was it aimed at somebody in her family? Was it aimed at somebody else? We don't know. But I was just texting back and forth with somebody who's in Trump
world, who thought that maybe it was a message to the people who cover her, to the media saying, you know, "I know that you focus on what I wear and I'm going to wear this in order for you to sort of speculate about it," and maybe try to make the media look like they are, you know, sort of trying to dumb down what she did.
But the fact that that is something that we have to discuss, the fact that this is something that we're -- that people are trying to sort of crack the code of the jacket, really does beg the question about why she wanted to do this when the message that she was trying to send and is trying to send is so important about having compassion for these -- as an immigrant herself, having passion for these -- these families and particularly these children who are at the border.
BLITZER: Yes, that jacket clearly taking away from the much more important issue at hand, what's happening with these families, what's happening with the kids. I want to get back to that. Dana and Kate, guys, thank you very much.
Let's have some more on the breaking news right now. The president of the National Border Patrol Council, Brandon Judd, is joining us. Brandon, thank you very much for joining us. And thank you to the 15,000 men and women of the Border Patrol who do important work protecting the country.
Lots of questions right now about the president's executive order that's now being implemented. Have you been given written guidance on how to carry out this executive order and what it will mean for families?
BRANDON JUDD, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: Not yet, but what I can tell you is that I had a meeting that was scheduled with Commissioner McAleenan. That meeting has now been pushed back and most likely will be postponed.
This commissioner is very conscientious. He made his rank under the Obama administration. And now he was appointed as the commissioner under the Trump administration. A very moderate individual, and he is going to get it done. I expect that we're going to have the instructions here very shortly.
BLITZER: But before orders like this are given to have zero-tolerance policy -- that order was given in April. And now to reverse that policy yesterday. Don't you think the men and women of the Border Patrol need to know how this impacts their day-to-day jobs?
JUDD: We operate on the fly all the time. We're going to be able to adjust very, very quickly. We're going to be able to understand, once that executive order was signed, exactly what we need to do, because we've been doing this for a long time and because we've been dealing with crises like this for years upon end. We're going to be able to adjust on the fly.
BLITZER: And I have the executive order that the president signed yesterday. What did it change from yesterday to today for the Border Patrol?
JUDD: What it means is whenever we take these children into custody -- now, we're going to have to separate children from parents initially, especially if they don't have documentation to prove that these are their children, because one of the things that we have to look at is we have to look at are these children being exploited? Are they being brought in for sex trafficking?
So initially, we're going to have to separate them, but we're going to bring them back immediately, and we're going to make sure that we can -- we hold them in the -- in the same facilities without separating over a long-term period of time.
BLITZER: Of course. I can understand if the elder person, the older person is not the parent and they're just smuggling some kid into the United States. But what if they're the real parents and the children are taken away by your fellow Border Patrol agents? That seems so cruel.
JUDD: You know, that's something that we're never going to look at and say this is something that we were happy doing. But in reality, if you look at what we were actually doing, when we took people into custody, we would keep them together until they had to go see a magistrate. Once they went and saw a magistrate judge, whatever that sentence the magistrate judge gave is what that judge gave.
And if that judge separated them, then they would -- they were supposed to be reunited shortly thereafter.
[17:15:06] But in the vast majority of cases, a judge would give them time served. They'll be -- they'll be separated from their children for about seven to 12 hours and then reunited almost immediately.
BLITZER: But that's changed. There's 2,300 kids right now who have been separated for days and days and days.
JUDD: There are, and there are certain extreme cases in those 2,300.
For instance, a week ago I said -- earlier today, I said four days, but about a week ago, there was one person that we arrested that had a conviction for rape in the United States. He had a 7-year-old daughter with him. We separated those two, and we're not going to reunite those two until the court system plays out.
Now, that is an extreme case and of those 2,300, there are less extreme cases. But in a lot of those cases, there are very extreme cases. We have to dig deep into this, and we have to look deep.
BLITZER: I know the president values your opinion. You served on his transition team. Were you consulted at all with the initial decision to do this zero-tolerance and the subsequent executive order that reversed that decision?
JUDD: No. I wasn't -- I wasn't consulted on the zero-tolerance policy. But yes, I did absolutely present concerns to the agency on what was happening under the zero-tolerance policy and how we could make it better or how we could loosen it up. I did have a role in that, yes.
BLITZER: You did have a role in that. The president keeps saying, and he said it again today, these people trying to cross into the United States are all criminals, drug smugglers, gang members. You and the men and women of the Border Patrol deal with them on a daily basis. Is that accurate?
JUDD: Well, I go back to, again, about a week ago, we just had an agent that was shot. A couple months before that, we had an agent that tried to take individuals into custody. One individual got his gun, put his gun to that agent's head.
BLITZER: Those are extreme cases.
JUDD: Those are extreme cases.
BLITZER: Most people trying to come to the United States are escaping gang violence.
JUDD: I will agree with that.
BLITZER: And they're trying to -- trying to have a better life.
JUDD: I will --
BLITZER: Seeking political asylum.
JUDD: The vast majority of the individuals that we encounter are very polite, very respectful individuals. It's about 20 percent that we deal with that have criminal records.
The problem that we have, though, is we don't know what their criminal records in their own countries, and so we have to be very careful.
BLITZER: That's only a small percentage. But that's not necessarily the message we hear from the president, either in his speech last night in Duluth or today in his cabinet meeting. He makes it sound like almost all of these people trying to come into the United States are killers or rapists or drug dealers.
JUDD: Now, if he's -- if he's purposely trying to do that, then that's not true. The fact of the matter is, is we do deal with an awful lot of people that do have criminal records in the United States. Some of them very bad criminal records. Wanted for murder. Warrants for rape. For child pornography. For all kinds of things.
But yes. The truth is that the vast majority of the people we deal with are very polite, respectful individuals. We just don't know who -- when we're going to be dealing with those people or when -- when a situation's going to turn bad very fast.
BLITZER: In the executive order the president signed yesterday, as you know, one of the provisions was to get a court order to allow the government to hold these children for more than 20 days, and in fact, the government filed a suit today to try to do that.
What do you think about that? About holding, detaining these kids for more than 20 days?
JUDD: That's not going to fly, because the court decisions are very, very clear that we're not going to be able to hold the children for more than 20 days.
What I will tell you is, is I am very concerned about the magnets that draw people to the United States. We arrest people, and they flat-out tell us that "We gave ourselves up, because we know you're going to release us."
And the problem with that is, is what we see is the smugglers force them to cross the border between the ports of entry, because they know it's going to tie up my resources. And when my hands are tied up, and I pull agents out of the field to process these people, the drug smugglers or the traffickers of any illegal contraband create holes in the border and they run their higher-profit contraband through the holes that they create.
If these individuals would present themselves at ports of entry, which is a legal process, then it frees up the Border Patrol to deal with the criminality and the cartels and the smugglers.
BLITZER: If the courts reject the administration's request to be able to hold these kids for more than 20 days, what's going to happen to them and what's going to happen to their parents?
JUDD: What we're going to have to do is we're going to have to release them under what is called the catch and release program.
BLITZER: The president flatly said today he doesn't -- he will never allow catch and release which was -- has been, at least until now, the U.S. government's policy.
JUDD: It's impossible. It's impossible to not separate the family unless the catch and release -- unless the catch and release policy takes effect again.
We can't hold the children for more than 20 days. Therefore, we can't hold the parents for more than 20 days. It takes -- it takes about six to nine months for a deportation proceeding to see from the beginning to the end. We just can't hold people that long.
BLITZER: I'm surprised the president hasn't call you into the Oval Office yet, because you've got years and years of experience. If he does call you in, tell our viewers right now what you would tell him, how you would solve this problem.
[17:20:06] JUDD: Well, I'm going to look back in April of 2017, and what's most disappointing to me is, in April of 2017, we hit the low- water mark. We only had 11,000 apprehensions. The vast majority of those were single males. We had very few children. We had very few family units. Had we have implemented the zero-tolerance policy at that time, we had the chance to keep the numbers low.
Look, whether you're on the right, whether you're on the left, people want secure borders. You can't have secure borders if we're going to allow the criminal cartels to dictate to us how we -- how we effectuate our operations. We have to be able to dictate to them, and that's what's happened for too long.
BLITZER: But from your perspective, and you have a lot of experience, catch and release is going to continue, at least for the foreseeable future?
JUDD: There's no way it can stop.
BLITZER: Brandon, thank you very much, and thank your colleagues in the Border Patrol for all of their really important work they're doing.
JUDD: Thank you.
BLITZER: Appreciate it very much. Brandon Judd is the president of the National Border Patrol Council.
Up next, a CNN investigation uncovers allegations of children being drugged and abused at facilities housing detained migrants.
Plus, a possible July meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin. We're learning new information tonight. Stay with us.
[17:25:47] BLITZER: CNN has uncovered very disturbing allegations against some facilities housing detained migrant children, including drugging and abuse.
Our senior investigative correspondent, Drew Griffin, is working the story for us.
Drew, these allegations date back to the Obama administration.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SENIOR INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Wolf. They do. Dating back to when unaccompanied minors began showing up at the border and overwhelming the government's ability to hold them. The details, though, do reveal a system that is in crisis.
GRIFFIN (voice-over): Outlined in court filings and special reports and witness statements, the allegations range from unsanitary conditions to un-air-conditioned rooms in hot Texas summers and dosing children with mood-changing drugs, allegedly disguised as vitamins. At the nonprofit Shiloh Treatment Center in Manvel, Texas, legal filings, quote, "Immigrant children being held down for injections, given multiple psychotropic medications against their will, some not even approved for use in children." IN one case, a boy was simultaneously placed on six psychotropic drugs. And an independent psychologist found the boy had been misdiagnosed with a psychotic disorder, though he didn't have any symptoms.
Another child, 13 from El Salvador, said in a witness statement, "I did not want the injection. Two staff grabbed me, and the doctor gave me the injection, despite my objection, and left me there on the bed."
In other cases, it's alleged children were forced to take pills that staffers called vitamins, given to them without their or their parent's consent. An 11-year-old girl said she was forced to take ten pills a day, saying, "I would rather go back to Honduras and live on the streets than be at Shiloh."
Shiloh would not comment. In 2014, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee called for the state to order the closure of the Shiloh Treatment Center, but it's still open; and migrant children are still being sent there.
REP. SHEILA JACKSON LEE (D), TEXAS: If we have children endangered in the federal government custody, it is our responsibility to immediately begin investigations.
GRIFFIN: At the Shenandoah Valley Juvenile Center in Virginia, which holds teens accused of being violent, one child wrote of physically being restrained and physically abused by staffers. "They handcuffed me and put a white bag onto my head. They took off all my clothes and put me into a restraint chair. They left me naked and attached to that chair for two and a half days."
This punishment chair was described in at least five other declarations from children.
Shenandoah would not comment to CNN but in court documents denied any assault of residents, but did acknowledge staffers use an "emergency restraint chair" as a last step of progressive response to aggressive behavior.
Some of the complaints and allegations stem from a long-running lawsuit challenging the legality of the U.S. locking up or detaining any underage undocumented minors.
NEHA DESAI, SENIOR ATTORNEY, NATIONAL CENTER FOR YOUTH LAW: The care they receive is shocking. What we have witnessed shocked my conscience, and I have to repeatedly remind myself that this is actually happening in our country.
GRIFFIN: Wolf, Virginia's governor just weighed in on this. Shenandoah's shelter is in his state. He is ordering commonwealth officials to investigate these claims.
And we should point out, Wolf, as we have, that while most of the problems cited at Shenandoah and other facilities took place before this zero-tolerance policy, activist lawyers say that policy is really putting an extra strain on this already flawed system -- Wolf.
BLITZER: Good point. All right. Thanks very much. Drew Griffin doing excellent reporting as usual.
Coming up, why the Trump administration is asking a federal judge to let it hold migrant children for more than 20 days. And amid all the chaos sparked by the president's executive order, some states are now taking action of their own.
[17:30:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: New tonight, after backing away from the President's controversial Family Separation Policy, the Trump administration is now seeking permission from a federal judge to extend detention of migrant children beyond the current 20-day deadline. Let's get some more analysis from our experts. And Abby Phillip, you cover the White House for it. It seems they were simply so unprepared for all of this. They just made an announcement in April about zero tolerance, weren't necessarily prepared for that. And then, the executive order yesterday weren't necessarily prepared for that.
[17:34:58] ABBY PHILLIP, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: That's right. I mean, it's an all of the above of all the things that could go wrong with a policy like this. But I think it starts from the perspective that this White House is responding to a President who's very angry about the situation at the border. They needed to figure out something to do about it. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is already on his bad side and this was the policy that they came up with, reinforced by folks within the White House but the problem is that even while the President almost never backs down about anything, they didn't anticipate how much blowback they would get about this policy, how it would touch people all around the country and all around the world. A Facebook fundraiser raised $16 million to provide legal aid for these children. That's serious blowback and so they came up with this basically overnight within 24 hours, didn't think through the legality of the policy, didn't think through the implementation. And so, here we are with just a lot of questions and a White House trying to backtrack very quickly.
BLITZER: You know, and Mark, if the federal courts as widely expected reject the Trump administration's argument to allow these migrant children to remain in detention with their parents for more than 20 days, what happens then if the courts reject this request from the administration?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, let me just pick up on the thread that Abby started there, the bottom line is we don't know because the White House doesn't know. You would figure or you would think anyway that, you know, we're in year two of this administration right now. You would think that mistakes like this such big consequential mistakes would never happen. Certainly, not in year two in an administration, but you have an administration right now that is still racked with chaos and I think that's the underlying problem right now. We have a President right now who is -- continues to sow chaos not only with himself but all throughout his administration. And he seems to thrive on it, but by doing so, he does put us in to some very difficult situations, and this is a classic example.
BLITZER: And it's not just the roll-out, Chris, that was clearly a disaster, but the messaging. It doesn't seem like they had their messaging intact. CHRIS CILLIZZA, CNN POLITICS EDITOR-AT-LARGE: That's being kind.
Because you had literally opposite messages. It's a policy, it's not a policy. It is our law, it's democrats' law. We need more judges. Why do we have any judges? On almost everything -- oh, I can't fix it with an executive order. Oh, I just signed an executive order to fix it. I think it all goes back -- Abby mentioned this, it all goes back to the one person who truly matters in the White House which is the guy sitting in the Oval Office. He does things and we know he does things impulsively, and somewhat reactively, and then sees where the chips fall, and his staff is required to -- and that includes lawyers, are required to kind of go around and put policy in place around it. We saw this with the travel ban. I mean, let's not -- it's not the first time that the Trump administration tried to do something sort of, you know, slap-dash, and it's come back to bite them. This is -- this is a -- it's not a glitch. This is a feature.
BLITZER: And Bianna, you know, what exactly what Chris was saying was underscored by the Attorney General of the United States, Jeff Sessions. Listen to how he framed all of this on May 7th, only a few weeks ago. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JEFF SESSIONS, UNITED STATES ATTORNEY GENERAL: If you're smuggling a child, then we're going to prosecute you, and that child will be separated from you probably as required by law. If you don't want your child to be separated then don't bring them across the border illegally. It's not our fault that somebody does that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: All right. But listen today, he completely reversed course. Listen to this.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESSIONS: It hasn't been good and American people don't like the idea that we're separating families. We never really intended to do that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
BLITZER: In May, he said they clearly intended to do that. Today, he says we never really intended to do that. Your reaction?
BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN CONTRIBUTOR: Yes, perhaps he's looking for new scripture to quote. I mean, it's a bit disingenuous, Wolf. Here is a man who is beaten up almost on a daily basis by the President, and this policy and other tough policies are one of the primary reasons as to why he does not leave his job where he is right now because this is something that he has been wanting to implement. These are policies that he -- these austere measures are things that he has been wanting to implement himself, not necessarily as a directive from the President but in agreement with the President, with others like Stephen Miller. So, for him to act as if, one, we never meant for this happen, and, B, I feel badly and his heart hurts for these children, well, it's a bit too late for that. And to go back to what Chris was saying, I mean, you would think
lessons were learned from that travel ban last year in particular with Kirstjen Nielsen because she, of course, is a protege of John Kelly. We know that John Kelly was furious after that travel ban because at DHS, he had not been informed about it. So, as somebody who is helping, I guess, or at least guiding Kirstjen Nielsen, you would think that he would have prepared her for better than the performance that we saw from her from two days ago, where she adamantly -- and the day before tweeted this wasn't policy, and the next day answered questions not seeming to know what the journalists were talking about.
[17:40:17] BLITZER: Yes. Clearly, none of them were prepared for this really mistaken blunder, shall we say? All right, everybody, stick around. Also new tonight, President Trump says he might take a meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin as early as next month. Let's go to our CNN International Correspondent Fred Pleitgen who's joining us live from Moscow right now. So, Fred, what's the latest? What are you hearing?
FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hi, Wolf, it looks like all this could get very real very soon. Apparently, one of a things that (INAUDIBLE) are talking about is where such a meeting could possibly take place, and CNN has learned, Wolf, that apparently, the administration floated Washington as a possible location, but that's not something that the Russians wanted. They wanted a more neutral ground. Now, Vladimir Putin recently met with the Austrian Chancellor in Vienna. The Austrians have said they'd be willing to host such a summit, so now, it seems as though it would take place in Vienna. As far as the timing is concerned, we do know that the President is in Europe in mid-July first at NATO in Brussels and then in the United Kingdom. Vladimir Putin has the soccer World Cup going on here in Russia until July 15th. So, look for some time after July 15th, and the Russians certainly hoping to get some major concessions from the Trump administration, Wolf.
BLITZER: What's the reaction in Russia so far to this notion of a summit between the President and Putin?
PLEITGEN: Yes. Yes. You know, they're taking it very, very seriously, and one of the things that's making the round here and what we've also confirmed is that the President apparently intends to send National Security Adviser John Bolton here to Russia very, very soon to try and scope out what can be done at such a summit. Now, there are certain things where the Russians want concessions from the Trump administration. One of them is in Syria, but their main issue is Ukraine because that's where sanctions have been slapped on the Russians not just for the civil war in Ukraine but also for annexing Crimea, as well. And a very prominent talk show here in Russia talked about this today, and said they believe that the Trump administration could give them those concessions. Here's what was said on the Russian version of "60 MINUTES."
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Despite the fact that Trump surrounds himself with hardcore Russia-phobes, his actions say he is actually ready to fulfill his campaign promises.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): To recognize Crimea as Russian and improve relations with Russia, that's what we're hoping for?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): Yes, that would be perfect. That would be a very serious message to the E.U. and the U.K. is doing everything to prevent that.
PLEITGEN: So, the Russians there talking about some of the concessions, Wolf, that they want. It's interesting because we've just learned literally this evening that apparently the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has sent to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a list of Russian concerns of what the Russians call "known irritants" that they would want to talk about at such a summit, Wolf.
BLITZER: Lots at stake. All right, Fred, thank you. Fred Pleitgen in Moscow.
Coming up, the latest on our top story, is the Trump administration prepared to rein in the chaos surrounding the migrant detention crisis? Plus, Melania's message, why would the First Lady head off for a visit to a child detention facility in Texas while wearing a jacket emblazoned with the words, quote, I really don't care, do you?
[17:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: All this week, we've been telling the stories of extraordinary people and organizations that are making a difference. This special series called "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" gave us an opportunity to highlight issues that are important to us. CNN's Anderson Cooper traveled to Haiti to reunite with Dr. Jane Aronson, the founder of Worldwide Orphans. They first met back in 2010 after the earthquake that killed more than 200,000 people. Dr. Aronson's group works with orphans all around the world to try to improve their lives through education, care, and play. Take a look.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: There's some 75,000 children living in orphanages in Haiti. Around the world, there are more than 140 million. The vast majority of these kids will never be adopted. So, how can we help improve their lives? That's the question Dr. Jane Aronson has dedicated her life to answering. She runs a foundation called Worldwide Orphans or WWO, which works in Haiti, United States, and four other countries to develop ways to help these kids learn and love and laugh. WWO funds programs in local schools and orphanages to promote play as a tool of learning.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's about using music as a way to learn and be playful.
COOPER: And they train teachers to be active participants in the class. That's the school principal on the drums.
So, these are all the kids who live in the area? DR. JANE ARONSON, FOUNDER, WORLDWIDE ORPHANS: Yes, absolutely. Hey, gang.
COOPER: Hey. Wow. There's so little.
Music and play isn't just about having fun, it's actually about helping kids grow.
Why have a toy library? I mean ...
ARONSON: It's the idea that toys and play actually enhances learning. A very simple idea that's been studied over the last probably 100 years.
[17:50:07] COOPER: Play actually has an impact on the brain of children?
ARONSON: It changes the physiology of the brain.
COOPER: At the WWO Programs in Haiti, it's not just orphans, all disadvantaged kids are welcome.
ARONSON: When was the last time you played with somebody?
COOPER: It's been a while.
This is 3-year-old Javenska (ph). Her father abandoned her, and her mother now works as a volunteer with WWO. Javenska is not enrolled in preschool. This toy library is where she learns. When we first meet her, she's quiet.
You want to try to put that on top? (INAUDIBLE) Wow!
But after using the blocks to play, she becomes animated and engaged.
ARONSON: I think you have a little attachment going on.
COOPER: Yes, she's very sweet. I like your hair.
ARONSON: Yes. See? This is what you have going on right now. You were successful in communicating with her and getting her attention and then she got close to you.
COOPER: Hello. Bonjour. I've heard you say that if a child has at least one adult who loves them, they can be healthy.
ARONSON: Yes, absolutely. Healthy emotionally and physically, because then the adult serves as their secure attachment figure that provides them with good nourishment and education and the support they need when they face challenges.
COOPER: Dr. Aaronson first got involved in Haiti after the earthquake.
(INAUDIBLE) we have Dr. Jane Aronson with us, a pediatrician --
We were here eight years ago in a hospital when a 5-year-old boy named Monali Alise (ph) was rushed in. He had been trapped underneath the rubble of his home for more than seven days.
What's he saying?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He want to drink some juice. He want to drink some juice.
COOPER: Amazingly, Monali survived. But 10 members of his family, including his parents, did not. In the years since, Dr. Aronson has stepped in to help care for Monali and his two brothers.
(INAUDIBLE) I'm Anderson.
She brought us to meet Monali now, he's 13 and lives with his brothers and extended family in Port-au-Prince.
Initially, after the earthquake, he was kind of quiet for --
ARONSON: He was almost like in a state of stiffness and paralysis, both emotionally and physically.
COOPER: So, what you're talking about, for months?
ARONSON: Oh, for years.
COOPER: For years?
Thanks to WWO, Monali is in school and is thriving. He wants to one day become a doctor or a soccer player. In Haiti, soccer is a big part of WWO's learning program. Monali joined us at the field as well, watching him laugh and play like any other 13-year-old boy is remarkable considering what he's been through. He is an example of the good work that Dr. Jane Aronson and WWO are doing on the ground in Haiti and elsewhere around the world. And with more funding, there's no telling what they could do to help this generation of kids grow up to be happy and healthy.
BLITZER: Anderson is joining us now. Anderson, I'm so happy you did that important piece for us. How can people who are watching right now and others help?
COOPER: Yes. Jane -- Dr. Aronson's group, WWO, has a fund-raising drive going on right now, they're trying to raise as much as half a million dollars. If you want to help, you can go to wwo.org. That's wwo.org, and help their work around the world in orphanages trying to help kids, more than 100 million kids in orphanages and being cared for away from -- away from their parents.
BLITZER: So important, indeed. Anderson, thank you so much for doing that report. And we're going to, of course, continue to share these inspirational stories all this week. And don't miss our "CHAMPIONS FOR CHANGE" prime time special, that's Saturday at 8:00 p.m. Eastern right here on CNN.
Up next, plans to house 20,000 children on U.S. military bases as the White House struggles right now to explain the President's plan for detained migrant families.
[17:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
BLITZER: Happening now, confusion and anger, President Trump leaves hundreds of immigrant children in limbo after his reversal on separating families at the border. Tonight, Mr. Trump is adding to the chaos with new statements that are surprising and misleading.
Trumping her husband, the First Lady makes a hastily planned visit to Texas to get a firsthand look at the crisis affecting immigrant families and embarrassing the Trump administration. What did she learn about the President's policy?
Fashion statement, Mrs. Trump flew to and from the nation's capital wearing a jacket with a stunning phrase on the back, declaring "I really don't care, do you?" Was she sending a message? And if so, to whom?