Return to Transcripts main page
ANDERSON COOPER 360 DEGREES
Sources: Sanders Expected to Receive Secret Service Protection; President Trump Claims Victory as Supreme Court Upholds Travel Ban. Aired on 8-9p ET
Aired June 26, 2018 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
[20:00:12] ANDERSON COOPER, CNN HOST: Hey, good evening. Thanks for joining us. We begin tonight with breaking news.
White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders is expected to receive Secret Service as soon as tomorrow. This comes after she was asked to leave a Virginia restaurant because of her role with the Trump administration. That's obviously sparked a national conversation on civility in the Trump era.
And keeping them honest tonight, President Trump is now trying to leverage political advantage over the political discourse that's been boiling over in recent days, discourse that, of course, he himself is a big part of. Now, this evening, his campaign sent out this fundraising email to supporters. It mentions how Sarah Sanders was asked to leave the restaurant. It also mentions the moment caught on tape when Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen was heckled in a Washington restaurant last week.
(VIDEO CLIP PLAYS)
COOPER: Secretary Nielsen ended up leaving the restaurant, the fundraising email also mentions Democratic Congresswoman Maxine Waters who's come under fire for encouraging people to publicly shame members of the Trump team wherever they see them. Here's what she said at a rally on Saturday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REP. MAXINE WATERS (D), CALIFORNIA: If you see anybody from that cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, in a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd, and you push back on them. And you tell them they are not welcome anymore, anywhere.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: In the fundraising email requesting donations, the president states and I quote: The left is trying to bully and buy their way back into power, not on my watch. Later, it says, we will not be intimidated by their vicious bullying.
Now, this is clearly an issue the White House wants to keep front and center. Just yesterday, Press Secretary Sanders began her briefing discussing her experience in the restaurant, which according to White House official to CNN is something the president instructed her to do. She also made a call for civility.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important, but the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable. America is a great country and our ability to find solutions despite those disagreements is what makes us unique.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Now, Sarah Sanders' point is obviously well-taken, we should be able to have disagreements with fellow citizens without resulting to harassment and bullying, but it should also be noted that the president has taken uncivil discourse to a whole new level, and Sarah Sanders has never distanced herself from things the president has said.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Crooked Hillary Clinton.
Lyin' Ted Cruz, Lyin' Ted.
I don't know what I said, I don't remember.
Rosie O'Donnell's disgusting. I mean, both inside and out, you take a look at her. She's a slob.
He's a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren't captured, OK? I hate to tell you.
Rocket man should have been handled a long time ago.
Jeb Bush is a low energy person. For him to get things done, it's hard.
Maxine Waters is a very low IQ individual.
We have a representative in Congress who they say was here a long time ago. They call her Pocahontas.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, just yesterday, 28 minutes after Sarah Sanders spoke about the need for civility at 3:44 p.m. yesterday, the president was back to lobbing insults, writing in a tweet, asking, quote, why is Senator Mark Warner, perhaps in a near drunken state, claiming he has information that only he and Bob Mueller, the leader of the 13 angry Democrats on a witch-hunt knows. Isn't this highly illegal? Is it being investigated?
The president was referring to a "Politico" report about the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, Senator Mark Warner, told "Politico" he had made a bad joke about how alcohol would help him spill secrets about the Mueller probe.
Now, the presidential insults didn't stop there. About four hours after Sarah Sanders called for civility, President Trump took aim at everyone from reporters to late-night talk-show hosts at a rally in South Carolina. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Now you know we have a lot of fake news back there, these fake news.
I said I don't care. I can't stand that guy.
She blamed everybody for losing the election except for one person, herself.
There's David Lynch, enjoy it because his career in Hollywood is officially over.
The guy at CBS is what a lowlife, but there's no talent. He's not -- there not like talented people. This guy on CBS has no talent.
Jimmy Kimmel wouldn't meet me before the election, I don't even think you'd deny it, no talent. Now, I wouldn't do it show his. The guy is terrible.
Jimmy Fallon calls me up, he looks like a lost soul. I said, Jimmy, be a man.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, it's easy to demand civility from one's opponents, not so easy to demand it for yourself.
Let's get the latest now from CNN's Jim Acosta who joins us at the White House.
Jim, I mean, this fundraising effort, it's totally playing right into the president's hands.
[20:05:05] JIM ACOSTA, CNN CHIEF WHITE HOUSE COIRRESPONDENT: It certainly is. It is going back to what I heard from a White House, a source who said that, listen, that the White House over here, they want to put out this message that there is intolerance on the left, never mind the fact that the president, including members of his administration have been pretty intolerant of other people's views. They bully people at times.
But just to give you a sense of what's in this fundraising email, it talks about how Sarah Huckabee Sanders was kicked out of a restaurant. Kirsten Nielsen, the homeland security secretary, was jeered as she tried to leave a restaurant in -- this is from the Trump campaign trying to raise money for the president's 2020 reelection campaign. They're obviously making it very clear that they see what they believe to be harassment from the left as being a potent issue heading into the fall midterms and beyond.
COOPER: I mean, it is interesting, you know, I mean, you were at the president's rally last night where he lobbed insults and everyone from Jimmy Fallon, to the prime minister of Canada. I know you were actually on the receiving end of a good deal of incivility from those who attended the rally which, you know, was always encouraged by it by the president often during speeches.
ACOSTA: Oh, that's right and there were some glaring headlines from the president's remarks going after Jimmy Fallon as you said and talking about a whole host of different topics. One thing that we didn't really focus on is he once again referred to us as fake news and the enemy of the people. He once again referred to the press as the enemy of the people.
Anderson, I've seen this at countless Trump rallies where he just whips people up into a frenzy and so, it was no surprise to me when I walked into that rally yesterday evening hours before the president took the stage that there were people coming up to me, elderly women coming up to me and taunting us and saying all sorts of terrible things.
But, Anderson, one thing I did find throughout the evening is that there were people who would come up to us and say, listen, I'm sorry about what's happening to you and a one man actually at one point asked if anybody would lend him a chair, I gave this chair this chair and he came back with his mother and said, thank you for helping us out, my mother really appreciates it.
And so, Anderson, I think what happens often is that when people see us as who we are human beings, they sort of lower the hostility level. But no question about it, I think when it comes to civility in this country, it starts at the top. The president has to set the right example for the rest of the country -- Anderson.
COOPER: Jim Acosta -- Jim, thanks very much.
ACOSTA: You bet.
COOPER: A lot to discuss with legendary journalist Dan Rather, host of AXS TV's 'The Big Interview", also political consultant -- legendary political consultant Stuart Stevens.
Stuart, thanks for being with us, and Dan as well.
Dan, you wrote on Facebook today: President Trump and the GOP bemoaning a lack of civility is a hypocritical farce, it spurs an almost uncontrollable bout of forehead slapping in disbelief.
Can you just explain what you mean?
DAN RATHER, HOST OF AXS TV'S "THE BIG INTERVIEW": Well, I think what you showed this type of show would be this explanation. Here is a president who has specialized as part of his success bullying. Look, incivility takes many forms and to make any comparison between what is happening say in an obscure restaurant somewhere, with the kind of -- I hate to say it -- but lies, corruption, immoral acts like ripping children from their mothers and to equate that with something that happened at a restaurant is -- it's a hypocritical farce.
But, look, let's stop for a moment and put this in perspective. Who lit the fires of hate and incivility that we're now seeing blown up everywhere? It began with the Donald Trump's campaign. It began with his presidency, is an indisputable fact that no other people say -- well, it's biased to say that. But the facts support that.
In word and deed, he has not put a tone of civility on the presidency. Now, those in power -- those are the power of the state, those are the power of the presidency should be held to a higher -- much higher standard than everybody else to set an example.
COOPER: Stuart, though, is it right though or is the rational response to incivility from a leader, incivility on the other side?
STUART STEVENS, POLITICAL CONSULTANT AND WRITER: Well, the problem with civility and incivility is that it starts and it's hard to stop. I mean, bad gets worse pretty quickly. And I think it's very much if you think of a sports team. If you go to a game, a hockey game and everybody's fighting, the crowd gets more into it.
Civility has to start with those on the field, and in politics, it's those in office. And I agree with Dan, I think that the president when he ran for office set a new low in incivility. I mean, he accused, you know, cabinet member of being a child molester. He accused Ted Cruz of being involved in the Kennedy assassination attack, Senator Cruz's wife.
And I think once you start there, it's just where do you go? And there has to be sort of a stoplight with civility and I think that political leaders have to be there to say that, and if people just start ignoring stoplights and you end up like Rio, traffic just goes everywhere, and it has to be self-imposing.
[20:10:01] And it's a very difficult thing to make rules about. You just have to sort of feel it and know it. And I think there's a lot of people involved in politics that really don't like what's happening now, that wince when they see this stuff.
COOPER: But they're not speaking up really. I mean, unless the ones who are leaving office on the Republican side speak up, but you don't hear a lot of other voices.
RATHER: It's remarking, I think, Anderson, that it's an ancient playbook of autocrats and authoritarian leaders to deliberately try to provoke an emotional response from people.
And you're seeing some of that now. The Maxine Waters thing in my personal opinion was a tactical, but not a strategic mistake on her part because it was just a kind of reaction to Trump's acts that he wanted.
COOPER: Right. Yes, and fact, I mean, their fundraising off it tonight. So, clearly, it's an issue that the president feels and he encouraged her Sanders to start off from what we're told by White House official to start off the briefing with her talking about her personal experience with the restaurant, which is an extraordinary thing when you think about it, that's what's being discussed at the White House briefing.
STEVENS: I think you're exactly right. It's a diminishing of the office I think.
I mean, I think what happened to Sarah Sanders is very unfortunate. But you -- if you're press secretary of the United States, president of United States off your official account, you can talk about anything. You can talk about hunger. You can talk about Iraq war. You can talk about, you know, threat of nuclear Iran.
And to talk about what happened to you at a restaurant I think just diminishes it. And it's sort of this victim shopping. Now, Republicans used to be against this, used to be a party of personal responsibility, used to say that we had that -- that you go out and look for trivial things to become victimized made it a diminished those who truly were victims, and I think we were right then and I think we wrong now to get out there and say who can offend me the most, you end up like some sort of like awful soccer team where everybody's flopping around instead of just playing the game.
RATHER: I'm sorry but, you know, it's always important to see things from 30,000 feet to use it, to say, or as we see and say in television, to take the wide shot. This is not so much about policy, President Trump's policy. It's about the heart and soul and character of the country. It's about who are we now, what have we become, what are we becoming with these outbursts of incivility lead the tone set by the president of the United States himself.
COOPER: What -- I mean, in terms of other administration's you've covered me very obviously famously covered the Nixon administration, where are we on the scale of incivility? I mean, is it --
RATHER: We're off this -- we're off the charts. There's -- I don't think there's any precedent for this with an American president setting this kind of tone of instability, perhaps back in the 1880s during that period that was very rough things said.
But listen --
COOPER: Even in the '70s, you had radical groups who were you know planting bombs and buildings and stuff. So, I mean, there was -- there was --
RATHER: That's outright violence.
RATHER: That's incivility taken to an extreme. But in terms of the presidency, I think this is unprecedented what's going on.
COOPER: More so than Nixon?
RATHER: Much more than Nixon. For example, with President Nixon, for all of the illegal, unconstitutional things he did, President Nixon did have a belief in the Constitution, in the system of checks and balances represented by the institutions. Now, he regularly tried to in secret undercut those, but publicly, he supported them.
That's not the case with President Trump, and that's a very, very big difference. But a come back to -- you know, we have to see ourselves of what would becoming. Where does this go now? Does it get worse or not?
And that depends less on the president because he's not going to change. He's going to continue doing this. He thinks his playbook is succeeding, politically.
It depends on each individual just to do the right thing, being civil.
COOPER: You know, General Michael Hayden has been on the show. When he and I talked about the thin -- what he calls the thin veneer of civilization, he uses example of Sarajevo, a multicultural city, you spend time there during the war. That fell apart.
Do you worry about where this is heading for us?
STEVENS: Sure, I think you see it in schools where you have kids that are getting bullied more. You have it just in sort of public dialogue and you often have this sense with Donald Trump that you're listening to the Nixon tapes, that sort of private side but it's public. There's not a filter there.
And there's something about that that's sort of mesmerizing to see, like what is he going to say next and what is he going to do? But I think that the role of the president has to be to set a higher standard. It has to be something you aspire to. I mean, historically has always been.
Now, a lot of time in the private life, they didn't hold up to that.
[20:15:00] Certainly true like in the Kennedy administration. But you still I think it's important they have role models. I am very old- fashioned about that, and to think that the presidency stands for aspirationally what is the best of us.
And it's -- it's really important.
COOPER: There's also something about the repetition that the president does very effectively, which after a time, it just normalizes everything. Like it starts -- OK, yes, a witch-hunt, yes, you know, Lyin' Ted or lyin' -- you know, Crooked Hillary, whatever it is.
RATHER: That's a really important point because we all know, you should be careful what you get used to, because you can use to anything. And if we get accustomed and just shrug our shoulders and saying, well, you know, this is Trump -- we've got to be very careful we'll get used to.
And my fear with this going on for as long as it had has and descending deeper and deeper in the incivility that as a country, as a people, as a society, we get used to it and just accept it.
STEVENS: Think how difficult it must be for a teacher to tell a 17- year-old not to do something that the president's doing.
Stuart Stevens, Dan Rather, good talk to you. Thank you both. I appreciate it.
RATHER: Thank you.
COOPER: Up next, a victory for the president. The Supreme Court upholds his travel ban, it's not the version he said from the beginning that he wanted. Keeping him honest on that, ahead.
And later, of the more than 2,000 children separated from their parents at the border, today, we learned only six have been reunited with their families since last Wednesday, or there's only six fewer in custody I should say since last Wednesday. Details on that ahead.
[20:20:02] COOPER: Tonight, we're keeping them honest. The court victory for the president and a reminder of his goal from the beginning for, quote, total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States, until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.
Today, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 along partisan lines to uphold the travel ban or at least the third version of the travel ban which the president himself once dismissed as watered-down and politically correct version. Watered-down that is from the initial goal -- a goal that he made crystal clear before he was elected when he said that quote in December 7th, 2015, that I just referenced.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: Donald J. Trump is calling for a total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country's representatives can figure out what the hell is going on.
We have no choice. We have no choice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Well, confusion was a hallmark of the travel ban from that point forward, with him later saying it was just a suggestion and then after he was elected, he signed an executive order banning entry for 90 days for citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries, and indefinitely stopping refugees from Syria. That was met with protests at airports in the United States and the
court battle started with judges in New York and Massachusetts temporarily blocking parts of the order, when Acting Attorney General Sally Yates didn't defend the travel ban, the president fired her.
Two months later, there was a revised travel ban which also was blocked. In the federal court decisions, there were references to statements that the president and his advisors made, including that initial promise for a complete and total shutdown, and something else he said on this program back in March of 2016.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: I think Islam hates us. There's something -- there's something there -- that there's a tremendous hatred there. There's a tremendous hatred. We have to get to the bottom of it.
There is an unbelievable hatred of us --
COOPER: In Islam itself?
TRUMP: You're going to have to figure that out, OK? You'll get another Pulitzer, right? But you're going to have to figure that out but there is a tremendous hatred. And we have to be very vigilant, we have to be very careful, and we can't allow people coming into this country who have this hatred of the United States.
COOPER: I guess the question is --
TRUMP: And of people that are not Muslim.
COOPER: I guess the question is, is there war between the West and radical Islam or is there a war between the West and Islam itself?
TRUMP: Well, it's radical but it's very hard to define. It's very hard to separate because you don't know who's who.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: Then-candidate Donald Trump saying that Islam hates us with what he called an unbelievable hatred.
Now, the version of the travel ban the Supreme Court upheld today is not a ban on all Muslims, as the president initially said he wanted. It restricts to varying degrees entry from five Muslim majority countries Iran, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and Somalia, as well as to non- Muslim majority countries, North Korea and Venezuela.
It's point and it's efficacy are not to make America safer. Those are issues that can and will be debated. Its success in the Supreme Court is largely due to Justice Department attorneys vetting and cleaning up what you just heard the president say he hoped to do from the start to ban Muslims.
Joining me is Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat from Connecticut, a member of the Judiciary Committee. So, Senator, I know you opposed the Supreme Court ruling. This clearly was a legal and political victory for the president, there's no denying that, you would agree?
SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT), JUDICIARY COMMITTEE: It was a victory for the president but not for America and I say with sadness as a former law clerk to the United States Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, as a litigator and law enforcer who's argued cases before the Supreme Court, I have great reverence and respect for the court as an institution.
But today, it essentially abandoned its constitutional responsibility to look at that animus, that improper motivation that was so obvious in those statements that you just very dramatically played and the abandonment of that responsibility may seem like a victory for Donald Trump, but it's really a grave injustice and defeat for America.
COOPER: But the policy itself is different than what the president initially intended and those Supreme Court justices who supported it believed it was correct under the power -- the wide powers the presidency to keep this country safe, those who opposed it and dissented from the majority viewpoint seemed to focus on the president's prior remarks as a civilian, as a candidate.
BLUMENTHAL: And very important, Anderson, he has never disavowed those past statements. He has never said that they were wrong or that he wanted to abandon them. And number two, it took him three tries to get it right. There were three iterations of this so-called ban, and the Supreme Court chose to look only at the last one.
[20:25:00] There was a lot of hand-wringing and disapproving, head- shaking, but think of it this way -- if an employer said women are bad workers, and I'm going to fire bad workers who are women and then he fired five women, not all the women who work for him and maybe he fired a man too, it would not be OK, no matter what he said afterward.
The president here has not included all Muslims in the band and he's included North Korea, which is not a Muslim nation. But the animus and the motivation are clearly there, and that's what the Supreme Court should have paid attention to.
COOPER: Yes, Venezuela as well.
You've called on Congress to act to reverse this. You said, quote, we will legislate this ban out of existence. How would that even work exactly considering this was a Supreme Court ruling and obviously Democrats are not in the majority?
BLUMENTHAL: A great question, Anderson, and unfortunately we are not in a majority. The chances of legislation are slim. We have introduced legislation that would cut funding -- in effect eliminate funding for this Muslim ban, but the chances of it passing are very remote.
So, the answer very simply is we need to change the composition of the Congress and legislate in a way that prevents this kind of discriminatory ban, reduces the discretion that the Supreme Court emphasized it deferred to him on national security grounds, basically said, we don't like his statements, they contradict the meaning and values of the Constitution, but he has very broad description. That's what needs to be limited.
COOPER: Senator, stay with us. I want to bring in our CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin who's here with me as well.
Jeff, I mean with -- first of all, what do you -- how do you see this, the ruling for today?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGLA ANALYST: Well, it was -- the majority look that this is a case about the presidency, about the power of all presidents and they treated this executive order as if it was something of an immaculate conception, that it just sort of appeared out of nowhere.
And if you look at the executive order itself, it doesn't say anything about Muslims, it doesn't say anything about -- you know, the president's prior statements. It only refers to these seven countries, five Muslim majority, two not, and the Supreme Court said in light of that, it's perfectly permissible.
The dissenters -- the four dissenters led by Sonia Sotomayor said, who are you kidding? This is just the Muslim ban in a tutu. This is a different way of prohibiting basically Muslims from getting into the United States and drew on many of the comments that you did earlier.
You know this is why it matters who's on the Supreme Court and who appoints people on the Supreme Court, because the four Democratic majority, the four Democrats in the minority saw it one way and the five Republicans in the majority saw it the other way.
COOPER: Senator Blumenthal, I mean you say this is a Muslim banner as a reflection of the president's desire to ban all Muslims. I mean, there are many majority Muslim majority countries that are not part of this travel ban, Pakistan, Indonesia, you know, there's a lot of Muslims in India. There are two non-Muslim majority countries in this ruling, North Korea and Venezuela, not a lot of North Koreans trying to get into the United States, obviously.
But do you -- is to you, the inclusion of North Korea and Venezuela, is that a fig leaf?
BLUMENTHAL: It is a fig leaf. It is a disguise, a masquerade, done for the purpose of making it seem religiously neutral when in fact it is clearly aimed at Muslims, and it is as if someone firing people from his company because they are women or Jews or Christians, included someone from another religion just as a masquerade for firing the others whom he explicitly said were fired for that reason.
And the irony here is that this decision comes down on a day when the court overruled Korematsu. As Justice Sotomayor said so eloquently, the court today replaces one grave mistake with another. I think --
COOPER: That was a Supreme Court ruling permitting the interment of Japanese -- of American citizens of Japanese descent during World War II.
BLUMENTHAL: Exactly right, and it was dressed up whether you call it a tutu, or a masquerade in the same way that this decision was, the decision affirming Korematsu way back when under Franklin Roosevelt. And by the way, Donald Trump in one of the quotes that you didn't cite here actually compares the ban to what the court and President Roosevelt in at the time of Korematsu and says that makes it OK.
TOOBIN: And you know, if we can just put this in some political perspectives. The reason why this was a victory for Donald Trump was because Mitch McConnell on February 13th, 2016, the day that Justice Scalia died, when Barack Obama had 11 months left to his presidency said there will be no vote on the nominee. And he kept that promise. And Merrick Garland was nominated and he sat there for 11 months without being -- even the hearing much less of vote and that seat went to Neil Gorsuch, who has voted down the line not just with Samuel Alito but with Clarence Thomas, the most conservative member of the supreme court. And that's why Donald Trump won this lawsuit and he won another suit about abortion rights today and that is ultimately the reason this case came out the way it should.
ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Jeff Toobin, Senator Blumenthal, thank you very much. I appreciate your time.
Coming up, much more on what Jeff just mentioned the tweet from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's campaign. Today a tweet with only a photo and no words sums a great deal about Republican reaction to the Supreme Court ruling.
COOPER: The President called today's Supreme Court ruling on the latest version of his travel ban, a tremendous victory. It certainly was a victory for the President and also for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who blocked the vote on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee as Jeff Toobin just mentioned.
Merrick Garland of course was his name nominated in 2016 after Justice Scalia died. But Republicans refused to hold to a hearing or to vote on him. And that led to a new president and a new nominee, Neil Gorsuch who voted with the conservative majority today.
After the ruling came down, McConnell official campaign account on tweet, Team Mitch, posted this photo, McConnell and Gorsuch shaking hands.
[20:35:06] Joining me now is CNN Political Commentator and Former RNC Chief of Staff Mike Shields and CNN Political Commentator Attorney and Former South Carolina State House Member Bakari Sellers.
Mike, I mean, the President certainly got a big victory today with this court ruling, I mean, there's been this New York syndrome being attacks and complaints the Democrats in Congress are nothing but obstructionist. There is some irony here though that the only reason President Trump was able to appoint Gorsuch is because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell obstructed? MIKE SHIELDS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, President Obama was fond of saying elections have consequences when he would do things that Republicans didn't like. But what is interesting about that is that he sort of ignored that elections had consequences in the midterms too because the 2014 midterm elected a Republican majority to the Senate.
COOPER: That's true.
SHIELDS: And they blocked it. And the Democrats could do the exact same thing of the things reverse and put on the ballot for the 2016 election. Who is going to get to appoint this seat? And the Democrats lost. Hillary Clinton was talking about the Supreme Court through the election and so with Donald Trump, so was on the ballot.
SHIELDS: And the American people by the way support what the Supreme Court did today by about 60 to 65 percent.
Now, I will ay, the American people did not support religious test for people entering the country. And so a Muslim ban is not what this is, and they wouldn't support that.
Polling shows we actually have a tradition of religious liberty. But they do support not allowing people into the country when we can't verify from their country of origin whether not they are secure, whether or not we know that we can trust that they're coming here because we've been able to talk to their government and know whether or not they are good or bad actors or not. And the American people support that. The Supreme Court upholds that today. It is a popular position. And the Supreme Court is made up the way it is because Donald Trump won the election and elections have consequences.
COOPER: And Bakari, I mean, you can't say that A, anything McConnell did here was breaking any rules and also to Mike's point, I mean, this was front and center in this campaign. The battle for the Supreme Court in many conservatives publicly who maybe didn't even really, you know, had some had some qualms with Donald Trump as a candidate were voting it for him because of the Supreme Court?
BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, first of all, let's just be clear. What Mitch McConnell and the House -- the Senate Republicans did to Barack Obama had not been done in over 100 years to any sitting president. So let's be clear about that. That is a Smithsonian fact.
Also, I just want to point out that Democrats, we did not do a good job two fold. The first was in 2014 and of course 2010, but specifically 2014 getting our voters to the polls. And giving Barack Obama a Senate he can work with. And I blame that on us, I blame that on messaging, I blame that on Democrats not showing up to vote.
The second thing is in 2016, we didn't make this issue of the courts sexy enough. I've had this conversation with Jeffrey Toobin often. Democrats have to do a better job of explaining what it means for a President to be able to come in and elect a generation of federal judges and Supreme Court justices not only has this court lead by a stolen seat from Merrick Garland, not only has this court reinforced the Muslim ban today, but they struck down California abortion rights. They beat gerrymandered maps. They supported the masterpiece Bakery case.
I mean, we go down the list of things that this court has done. It's eroding our constitution further and further but Democrats have to do a better job of coming up and showing up at the voting booth. And so we do, we really just can't complain.
COOPER: Mike, you heard Senator Blumenthal before saying that essentially including North Korea and Venezuela is kind of a fig leaf that this really is a Muslim ban, you just heard Bakari saying that as well to that do you say what?
SHIELDS: Well, I want to set an example of civility and politely disagree with Bakari on this. Muslims travel in and out of the United States every single day from countries all over the world freely and openly. And so there is no ban on religion. There is a ban on countries that we can't verify whether or not the people coming in and out of the country are safe. And one of the things that sort of amuses me about this from the left is, I don't see them saying, you know what, we would actually, why don't have -- open it up just for California and we will let everyone from these countries that we can't verify and let's move them to Beverly Hills, next to our fancy houses where they can live next to us, even though we have no idea whether or not those people are safe or not.
And so, unfortunately the way the world is made up is that there are Islamic terrorist in countries that want to do the United States harm. That is not something that we created. That is just a fact. And we blocked those every day. Someone will said, well, we haven't been attacked by anybody from a foreign country, right, because we are arming our arm forces and our intelligence communities with things like this to help them stop attacks, which happen everyday and don't make the news.
And so look, I am not for a Muslim ban. I don't think there should be a religion test on someone coming in and out of the country. There isn't a Muslim ban. Muslim is coming every day.
COOPER: So --
SHIELDS: But there are -- there is a ban on countries where we can't verify their citizen.
COOPER: Bakari, what about that? I mean Pakistan is not on this, Indonesia is not on this. What about Mike's point?
[20:40:03] SELLERS: Well, no it's a ban on majority Muslim countries. I mean, Mike is really not making a point here. I think it's very clear, when you look at the countries listed, there are few things they have in common. They are majority Muslim and they actually don't do any business with Donald Trump.
COOPER: No, but he is saying what the commonality is, is that they don't do a good job. It is not easy to figure out the background of people to vet people.
SELLERS: Well, why isn't Saudi Arabia on the list? I mean, you can go -- the majority of 9/11 attackers were from Saudi Arabia. Then you can go down the list and ask questions about each specific country. But the reason that we know this is a Muslim ban and the reason that people are very disappointed in the court's decision goes to the heart of justice Sotomayor descending this ruling because we use the President's own words. We use his religious animus. And that should be the center point of striking this down based on the establishment cause in the First Amendment that no law should favor or disfavor a religion.
COOPER: All right, Bakari Sellers, Mike Shields, I appreciate it. Thanks very much. The administration says they would reunite more than 2000 children with their parents separate at border. We've been asking for details. So today, government officials held the conference call things didn't go so well. Details on that ahead.
COOPER: Since President Trump last Wednesday signed the executive order ending his zero tolerance policy, administration said they would immediately start reuniting the more than 2000 children separated from their parents.
So a few days went by and there went a lot of details and a few more went by and there still wasn't a lot of details. And in fact this program, and our teams on the ground were hearing there was little if any reunification happening at all. We're not the only one not getting answers, at least one Republican lawmaker either. Here is what Texas Congressman Will Hurd said this morning on New Day.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
REPRESENTATIVE WILL HURD (R), TEXAS: One of the concerns I have is, HHS' ability to do this. We were supposed to have a conference call yesterday with members of Congress and their staff to talk about this process, and the phone number didn't work. So if they can't do that with us, I'm concerned with the ability of connecting kids.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: The phone number didn't work. We'll continue to ask for updates, so today Health and Human Services had a conference call with reporters, and did not go well. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm wondering first, are you still receiving children whoa re coming into your care because of parental detention? We know that there is an implementation phase on the executive order. JUDY STECKER, ASSISTANT SECRETARY FOR PUBLIC AFFAIRS: As mentioned earlier, we won't be -- we can get you that information as soon as possible, and we appreciate your patience.
[20:45:07] UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Wait, wait, wait -- actually it's really important. Are you guys still -- excuse me, are you still receiving children who are there because of the parental separation policy?
STECKER: I believe we've answered your -- you had -- you gave us three questions we responded to your question and I'd ask that you send that to email@example.com.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm so sorry I didn't hear an answer to --
STECKER: Final question?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
COOPER: So joining me now is Sunlen Surfaty, who is one of the reporters on that call. So the call was meant to answer question. We just heard from that, I mean it seem that anything but answering --
SUNLEN SURFATY, CNN CONGRESSIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There was a lot of that they would not or could not answer tonight, Anderson. But we did get one new bit of information that's important. They did reveal today that there were currently 2,047 children who were separated from their families that are still in HHS custody.
Now, the last time the administration did gave us a number was on Saturday night when they said then that there were 2,053 children in custody. So this suggests that only six children just six children have been reunified with their guardians since the executive order was signed by President Trump last Wednesday.
But very notable here, and you heard that in the audio they would not answer most importantly if they are still receiving children as a result of the zero-tolerance policy.
COOPER: So if they are still receiving children, which for some reason they were unable to answer, which seems pretty extraordinary than that, answer that right away, it's possible they reunited more than six children but they just got more kids coming in but we don't know the answer to that because they apparently don't know?
SURFATY: That's right, and that's why this non-answer is so important here, they are saying that currently there are 2,047 children. But if more children were coming in of course it throws off these numbers. And I should note that, you know, there were some promises that they could potentially get back to some of our questions, but there were many times push by reporters tonight said that these things were fluid, this is a dynamic situation. That is why they said they could not give many more specific data points, just reporters tonight like including the ages of the children being held currently, they would not answer that. That's large -- I think what led to this rather contentious call at times CNN as well as many other media outlet have been pushing for days for a full accounting of what is going on with these children. And I think those -- the attempt this evening to mitigate all those questions, clearly highlighted that there are many more questions they have left to answer.
COOPER: Wait a minute, so the U.S. government will not even say what the ages of the children, the more than 2,000 children that are being held are. I think what age range they go from? I mean, that's -- I mean that's incredible.
SURFATY: That's right. They were asked that question and they did not answer that question. They said they would not reveal the ages. They said they would not talk about policy on the call. They said beyond that one data point of 2074 children still being held for HHS they said they would not give any more data point. And they want to be answer questions about the data points beyond just saying e-mail in your questions which of course CNN and many other outlets have been doing on a daily basis.
COOPER: Sunlen, I appreciate it. Thanks very much. Well, keep following it up. Next we'll going to check in with some President Trump supporters in Texas, see what they think, the so called zero tolerance policy on immigration, the reaction from some of them ahead.
[20:52:42] COOPER: Despite the chaos from fusion we just heard, a call where HHS wouldn't even answer basic questions about thousands of children being separated from their children in the border along the Rio Grande Valley in south Texas, President Trump's stance on immigration is mostly getting a warm reception. Ed Lavandera tonight reports.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SERGIO SANCHEZ, KURV PROGRAM DIRECTOR/REPUBLICAN ACTIVIST: Welcome to the wall.
ED LAVANDERA, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): With that kind of introduction, it's no surprise immigration is the hot topic for Sergio Sanchez as radio show in the South Taxes Rio Grande Valley.
SANCHEZ: We broadcast on blessed soil, north of the river and that's --
LAVANDERA: He's a staunch Trump Republican and credits the President with taking a tough approach to border security.
SANCHEZ: With President Trump we have someone who is making a serious attempt to enforce rule of law, and enforce border law and enforce our sovereign border with Mexico, and get a hold of the situation.
LAVANDERA: Cristina Garfield has lived along the border all her life. She comes from a family of Democrats, but she like Trump sees a threat in the flow of illegal immigration.
CRISTINA GARFIELD, HIDALGO COUNTY, YOUNG REPUBLICANS: My biggest concern with the people that are coming over our borders is safety. Safety is a huge deal down here.
LAVANDERA (on camera): Trump is far from popular here in Hidalgo County, Texas where much of the zero tolerance policy attention has been focussed. He only won 28% of the vote. But there is an undercurrent of conservative Latino voters who kind of defy conventional political wisdom. They're unfazed by Trump's rhetoric that undocumented immigrants are using Trump's words here, invading the country.
GARFIELD: He didn't sugar coat anything. And I think the people of the United States appreciate that also. I don't think it's a bad thing.
LAVANDERA: When you hear people talk about the way he talks about this issue, that they comes off as racist to them, what do you say to them?
SANCHEZ: Yes, well, that's their problem. They hear what they want to hear and say what they want to say. It's a free country. They can believe in that.
LAVANDERA: Joacim Hernandez is president of the county's young Republicans chapter. He walks us through the produce distribution warehouse where he works as a human resources director. He says the President needs to compromise on immigration.
JOACIM HERNANDEZ, TRUMP SUPPORTER: When you hear about, you know, families being separated zero tolerance policy, you think -- you know where the families of -- where the party of the family, you know, family facing freedom and you think about families being separated, and it doesn't look very civil.
[30:55:12] LAVANDERA: But Hernandez is also exhausted by Trump's divisiveness.
HERNANDEZ: There are some things that he says that sometimes you got to cringe and be like oh, how am I going to defend that?
LAVANDERA (on camera): You're tired of sticking up for him?
HERNANDEZ: Yes. Head up, I don't get anything for having to stick up for him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Or Mr. Donald J. Trump --
LAVANDERA: There are plenty of Trump supporters willing to fight the fight, even in south Texas where there aren't many around.
LAVANDERA: And Anderson, even though we've well documented over the last few week that it was the Trump administration policy that led to this issue of family separation, many of the Trump supporters we spoke with here in South Texas feel that the President has been compassionate on this issue, and they actually blamed Congress, not the President for not doing enough here. COOPER: Ed, thank you very much. I appreciate it.
Voters in seven states are going to the polls tonight among those on the ballot, former presidential candidate Mitt Romney running for a Senate seat in Utah, details on that ahead.
COOPER: Seven states hold primary races today. Polls either have close or closing in the east there's a couple we're keeping our eyes on. In South Carolina Republican Governor Henry McMaster faces businessman John Warren.
President Trump was in South Carolina last night campaigning for McMaster. Polls close at seven. Right now McMaster is up by about 10 percentage point with more than 50 percent of precincts reporting.
On Staten Island in New York the incumbent Republican Dan Donovan faces former Republican Congressman Michael Grimm who once threatened to throw a reporter off a congressional balcony. He is a former FBI agent. Grimm left Congress in 2015 pleading guilty to tax evasion. President Trump has endorsed his opponent. Polls in New York close at 9:00 p.m.
[21:00:02] And west former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is heavily favored in his primary race to gain a Senate. Polls close there at 10 p.m. eastern time. We'll of course track all the races and more throughout the night. Just stay tune for that. That's it for us, time to hand it over to Chris, Cuomo Prime Time starts now. Chris?