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Trump Administration Working To Reunite Parents With Children; U.S. Child Immigration Lawyer Talks To CNN; Rebel Spokesman: Talks On Daraa Offensive Back On; EPA Chief Scott Pruitt Quits Amid Numerous Ethics Scandals; ; Aired 3-4p ET

Aired July 5, 2018 - 15:00   ET




HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. Live from CNN London, I'm Hala Gorani.

Tonight, we are learning new details about how two critically ill Brits came into contact with Novichok, the same nerve agent used months ago on a

Russian ex-spy.

Also, this hour, medics say some of the boys trapped in the cave in Thailand are still too weak b to be rescued as more torrential rains close


Also, this --


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If I were to rob a bank now, they would say what did he look like. He had gray hair. That would be it.


GORANI: Author, David Sedaris talks to me about middle age, Donald Trump and how to be funny.

There are still many questions about the mysterious poisoning of a couple here in Britain, but today, we're learning some major new details that are

helping us put the pieces of this puzzle together.

Police now say the man and woman who fell critically sick in Amesbury had contact with a contaminated item. They don't know what that item was, but

they do say the poison was the same type of nerve agent used to attack a former Russian spy and his daughter a few months ago in the nearby town of


Authorities are trying to determine whether the Novichok in both incidents came from the same batch. That would of course be very helpful to the

investigation. They are demanding answers from Moscow, but the kremlin is saying it had nothing to do with it. A police chief briefed reporters in

Amesbury a few hours ago.


CHIEF CONSTABLE KIER PRITCHARD, WILTSHIRE POLICE: This is pretty much four months to the date of Salisbury. They're the steps of making huge steps

forward in its recovery. This is hugely concerning and worrying, but what we have heard today in terms of the level of patients, the others that

haven't been admitted into hospital, I think we can take some confidence from that.


GORANI: Well, some people on the ground say they are not confident. They're actually feeling quite scared. Is this Novichok left over from

that assassination attempt on the Russian ex-spy and his daughter? Is it a new batch?

Let's get an update now from Erin McLaughlin. She's in Amesbury. What more are you learning this evening, Erin?

ERIN MCLAUGHLIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Hala, this is a fast-paced investigation. And let me just show you where I'm at, at this point. This

seems to be a key focus of this investigation. This is the street where Dawn Sterges lives. Dawn Sterges, 44 years old, as well as her boyfriend,

now in critical condition in a hospital after exposure to the Novichok nerve agent.

Today, authorities moved in on this street. She lived in social housing just down that way. Now, prior to today, authorities had cordoned off her

room and a trash can just outside that social housing which you see down that way.

Today, they cordoned off the entire street and evacuated the social housing. They also set up forensic tents, which you can see the tops of

there, and blocked off the exterior of the social housing as authorities are scrambling to figure out what happened.


MCLAUGHLIN (voice-over): Investigators are now closer to piecing together the mystery of the couple poisoned with a deadly nerve agent in the U.K.

police now say the pair was exposed to a weapons grade nerve agent after handling a contaminated item. It's still unclear where that item came from

or even what it is.

This as the investigation expands in the heart of Wiltshire. Thursday, the social housing unit where Dawn Sterges lives was evacuated. She's fighting

for her life alongside her boyfriend, Charlie Rowley.

Detectives are meticulously and systematically searching a number of sites in the hunt for the source of Novichok, a poison so potent, experts say

even trace amounts can kill. Four months ago, the same nerve agent was used to attack a former Russian spy and his daughter in what British

officials believe was a kremlin backed fought to take out Sergei Skripal, a perceived traitor.

Authorities say it's possible Sterges and Rowley unwittingly came into contact with poison left over from the Skripal attack, though they did say

Sterges and Rowley did not visit locations previously decontaminated.

[15:05:05] SAJID JAVID, BRITISH HOME SECRETARY: It is completely unacceptable for our people to be either deliberate or accidental targets

or for our streets, our parks, our towns to be dumping grounds for poison.

MCLAUGHLIN: Now over 100 counterterror officers are scouring the streets of Salisbury for clues. The park where the couple enjoyed summer drinks,

the pharmacy where they bought their hair dye to cheer on England at the World Cup, the local church where Rowley enjoyed a community barbecue. All

cordoned off, police officers standing guard. Here in Salisbury, there's a sense of unease, a concern that more people could get sick.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It's quite scary. It's quite worrying as well.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: just worried about kids.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You want them to grow up, it's about, to quit worrying.

MCLAUGHLIN: Even British authorities now acknowledge there are no safety guarantees.

BEN WALLACE, BRITISH SECURITY MINISTER: I can't sit here and guarantee you that you will be safe in Manchester 100 percent from terrorism. Nor can I

guarantee you in the west country that you are going to be at the moment, 100 percent safe from further contamination until we know the full details

what happened back in March.


MCLAUGHLIN: British officials alleged that the kremlin holds the key to solving this mystery. They're urging Russian officials to come forward

with any information as to how the Skripals were poisoned back in March. The security minister saying that this is Russia's chance to right this

wrong. The kremlin meanwhile denies any and all involvement. They're saying all of this is just a British conspiracy -- Hala.

GORANI: Just one question. If authorities don't know what contaminated object the couple handled that made them sick, how do we know it's an


MCLAUGHLIN: I mean, that's a key question, Hala, and at this point, authorities are being very tight lipped with the specifics on that. All we

do know is that they believe that it was an object that was the source of its contamination. They said that was after thorough testing. They have

said though they still don't know the source of contamination.

GORANI: All right. Erin McLaughlin, thanks very much. It is a fair question. What if it was something left on a bench? What if it was

something you know on a tree. We don't know. If we don't know what the object is, then it makes sense also to wonder how authorities can rule

every other place where this Novichok could have come in this stage.

Russia is rejecting Britain's demands for answers, accusing London of playing dirty political games. Our Fred Pleitgen is live in Moscow with

more. So, what are they saying in Moscow because we're hearing from high level spokespeople, kremlin and in the government and foreign ministry

saying this is absolutely utterly untrue, once again, that Russia had anything to do with this.

FREDERIK PLEITGEN, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, absolutely, untrue. You can see a lot of anger here in Moscow from

officials. You're absolutely right, Hala, from the kremlin and from the foreign ministry as well, they say that the Brits so far have not presented

any sort of evidence to the Russians to indicate that they may have been a part of the plot.

At least not any evidence that the Russians would say would be valid. In fact, right now, there are Russian government officials, who are trying to

turn this whole thing around and attack the British government of the Theresa May. I want you to listen to what the spokeswoman of Russia's

Foreign Minister, Maria Zakharova, had to say. Here's what she said.


MARIA ZAKHAROVA, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTERY SPOKESWOMAN (through translator): We urge Theresa May's government to stop playing games with

chemical poisonous substances and stop creating obstacles for joint investigation on what happened on the U.K. soil with the Russian citizens.

I'm sure that for everything May's government has done, the government and its immediate representatives will have to apologize one day.


PLEITGEN: So, you hear it from the spokeswoman there for the Foreign Ministry saying the British government is playing games with chemical

weapons. Unclear what exactly she meant by that, but usually, there are two points where the Russian government is attacking Britain.

Number one, they say they wanted a joint investigation to the Skripal poisoning, which is, of course, something that the British government has

rejected saying that they don't want to give us some of the secrets that they are learning through their investigation.

The Russians very angry at that. Also, quite angry at some of the finding at the OPCW had when it was on the ground there. Then the second that

still playing quite high here in Russia as well is that with the Skripal poisoning, they didn't have access to the Skripals

The Russians feel that they should have, but, of course, we saw that Yulia Skripal, the daughter of Sergei Skripal had come out and said she does not

want any contact with any Russian officials. So, now with this going on, Hala, even more fuel to that fire and of course, it comes at a bad time for

the Russians as they're putting on the World Cup right now and have a Trump-Putin summit coming up in a few days as well.

[15:10:13] GORANI: And there are lot of conspiracy theories as well floating around regarding who might be behind this poisoning of the Brits.

PLEITGEN: Yes. I mean, those are certainly have been around for a while. There are some talk shows here in Russia, who are saying look, this could

have been the Brits themselves essentially having done this. They say this seems like the behavior that we know. Obviously seemingly trying to pin

something on Russia.

There's others who are launching conspiracy theories saying this is all close to that British lab in Porton Down. So that is something abounding

here. There are a lot of questions being asked by Russian officials. Little information from them forthcoming about what's this sort of Novichok

might have been.

They want official inquiries and they want to be a part of some investigation if they're going to give any sort of information to the Brits

to further their cause to try and get behind what happened, what sort of Novichok this new case might have been -- Hala.

GORANI: Fred Pleitgen, live in Moscow, thanks very much. We'll keep our eye on the story as more details emerge.

In Thailand, rescuers are stepping up plans to pull 12 boys and their football coach out of a flooded cave. Heavy rains could be just 24 hours

away now. And crews are frantically pumping water out and sending oxygen in as levels fall dangerously low.

CNN's David McKenzie tells us as the boys prepare for their next step, they have a lot of people behind them.


DAVID MCKENZIE, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ever since their classmates went missing in the cave, they've been praying for a

miracle. For more than a week, the students and teachers at the school and the rest of the world have been waiting anxiously, unsure if the boys were

still alive.

WORAWIT CHAIGA, TEACHER (through translator): My students were sad. Some even cried when they heard the news. I told them to pray, which was the

only thing they could do at that moment.

MCKENZIE: They'll continue praying and hoping every day, he says, until the 12 players and coach are back aboveground. At a makeshift vigil at

another school, where one of the trapped boys is a student, they have posted photos and messages of support. Students have also filled a jar

with 1,000 origami birds.

PIYASAT NUNGSAWAN, SCHOOL COUNSELOR: I told my students to pray and also asked them to make birds because we think it means good luck.

MCKENZIE: In a nearby village, the grandmother of one of the boys has been keeping her own vigil supported by her friends. She says every day at 8:00

a.m., she and her friends listen to the news for updates, share meals, and pray.

WANKAEW PAKHUNOMA, GRANDMOTHER OF BOY TRAPPED IN CAVE: I went every day to the temple to make merit. Every day, I pray for them to be safe.

MCKENZIE: News of the boy's discovery as lifted spirits of the community here, but they know it's not over yet.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): When I see my friend, I will hold his hand. When he is fully recovered, we will go play soccer again.

MCKENZIE: Until then, they will pray each day for their friends, their sons and family to rise to the surface safely. David McKenzie, CNN, Chiang

Rai, Thailand.


GORANI: Hopefully, we'll get to see those boys sooner rather than later. For more on the rescue plan, let's bring in CNN's Matt Rivers in Chiang

Rai. So, we heard that they were potentially considering drilling from above? That possibly teaching these boys to swim and use scuba gear, that

was just too ambitious and not something they could do in time. What scenario are they favoring today do you think?

MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, well, we did just hear, Hala, from the governor of Chiang Rai Province, who says that the scenario

that they're really hoping for is that the water levels inside the cave go down enough that the boys and their coach all 13 of them, can actually walk

out the same way they came in.

Whether that's possible, whether water levels can actually go down enough in time before the rains pick back up here in Thailand, that is an open

question, and as a result, all options remain on the table probably except for the drilling option.

It seems that that has been put to the side. We know that teams actually looked for natural holes, chimneys that might go down into the cave,

perhaps that would be an opportunity to maybe lift the boys out of the cave, none of those were found.

And so, I think if you're talking about what are the most likely scenarios here, it will be either walking out of the cave if the water levels go down

or very much still on the table is swimming and even having used scuba gear to get out, which could with incredibly difficult and dangerous.

[15:15:06] But, you know, can see this is still an active scene behind me. Rescuers are keeping all options on the table.

GORANI: So, why do they think that the water levels would go down. My understanding is that it's raining tomorrow.

RIVERS: Yes, well the rain could pick back up on Saturday. We're expecting it to get more intense on Sunday, but as of now, somewhat

surprisingly given it's July in Thailand, this is the rainy season, it's holding right now, and the water levels have been slowly coming down.

Just down the street from where we are, you can see the end of the pumps that have been pumping out millions and millions and millions of gallons of

water and that has apparently had an effect.

We've heard from divers who say the conditions have been more favorable throughout the day today and so that's why you heard the governor say if

the water levels come down enough, walking out would clearly be the best case scenario, but whether that's possible before the rains pick back up,

which they will, that's the big question.

GORANI: All right. Let's hope it is because that really would be ideal, certainly. Matt Rivers in Chiang Rai, thanks very much.

Still to come tonight, and then there were three or two or six? We'll look at who President Trump is looking at to sit on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Plus, an update on families separated at the U.S. boarder and why officials are now giving them DNA tests. We'll be right back.


GORANI: U.S. President Donald Trump is on his way to Montana this hour for a rally with supporters. Mr. Trump will have the weekend to mull over his

Supreme Court picks. He's promised to unveil his nominee to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on Monday. We're told he's wrapped up his

interviews and has narrowed his list down two or three finalists. So, what can with we expect from the short list?

For more on the candidates, let's bring in CNN's Jeremy Diamond in Washington. What can you tell us about this short list, Jeremy?

JEREMY DIAMOND, CNN WHITE HOUSE REPORTER: Well, the president did come down to about seven candidates, who he actually interviewed mostly in

person here at the White House earlier this week. Our understanding is now that the president has narrowed the list down to two or three leading

contenders at least for the Supreme Court.

Of course, we know that the president frequently changes his mind and all of the seven are really still in the running in one way or another, but we

do understand that the favorites at this point come down to two former Justice Kennedy clerks.

That is, of course, the Supreme Court justice whose retirement sparked this vacancy to give President Trump his second Supreme Court pick. Two are two

federal judges, Brett Kavanaugh and Raymond Kethlege.

And we also understand that Amy Coney Barrett, a former Justice Scalia clerk, whom the president appointed to a federal judgeship last year, she

is also still one of those top three contenders.

[15:20:07] The president is expected to make his decision today or tomorrow. Before the weekend actually comes around. So, that they can

start getting those preparations in order for that Monday announcement.

But of course, the president still probing a lot of his aides, a lot of his political allies on the potentials for making this pick. This will be

hugely consequential of course in particular one of the main issues, question is Roe v. Wade.

The Supreme Court case that legalized abortion in the United States. Very much a possibility that could be reverse if somebody comes into that

Supreme Court vacancy looking to reverse that.

Several other issues, Obamacare, for example, also in play given that Anthony Kennedy, the Supreme Court just who is vacating the seat, of

course, was frequently one of the swing votes. This will be a hugely consequential move and the president looking to move forward very quickly

to get that person in front of the Senate for confirmation.

GORANI: And the candidates are all young, which means whatever decision is made, that that decision will have an impact far beyond the Trump

presidency. What about the, I mean, the confirmation for whoever the president decides to nominate? I know that obviously Republicans have a

majority in both houses, but will it be an easy process?

DIAMOND: Well, it will be easier than it would have otherwise been because Republicans last year pulled the nuclear option when the president was

putting forward Neil Gorsuch as his first Supreme Court pick to replace Justice Scalia.

So, now they only need that simple majority of 50 votes plus the vice president. That is the majority they have is 51. Senator John McCain is

ill and may not be able to make it back for that vote.

But the White House is also looking to pick up several of those red state Democrats who are facing tough election battles in 2018. And the

expectation is that if they do put somebody forward, who is largely qualified now considered some extreme right wing person that you would have

several Democrats coming on board to support that person as well.

GORANI: All right. Thanks very much, Jeremy Diamond.

The Venezuela president, Nicholas Maduro, is warning his military not to, quote, "lower their guard" on word that President Trump had ask advisers

about invading his country. Mr. Maduro told them no empire will choose Venezuela's destiny.

Stelano Pozzebon is in New York right now and joins me now live. Reaction in Venezuela to these reports that the president had asked advisers what it

would take, what kind of preparations need to be made to invade Venezuela.

STELANO POZZEBON, JOURNALIST: The Venezuelan government has reacted with defiance. Caracas and Venezuela today are celebrating their 207th

anniversary and there has been a big large-scale military parade with all the forces, the Army, the Navy and aviation. They are words of defiance.

Just an anecdote for example, last year when President Trump in remarks with the press, refused to rule out the possibility of military option in

Venezuela, President Maduro's son himself, who care carries the same name, Nicolas Maduro Jr., who is a constituent assemblyman in Venezuela,

threatened retaliation and threatened rightful will arrive to New York if the U.S. had intervened military in Caracas.

So, what we're seeing very strong defiance and very much the same narrative we're seeing in the past, three, four years as the country's economy has

been hit hard by a dramatic financial and economic crisis.

That crisis has been blamed by the government on supposed economic war that he's waged by Washington, so this latest revelations about President Trump

and his idea, the simple idea of considering an invasion towards Venezuela is again sparked a lot of alarms in Caracas.

GORANI: All right. Stefano Pozzebon, thanks very much. Now Donald Trump is going to be here next week. Here in the U.K. and a likeness of him will

be here as well to greet him sort of. This is the Trump baby balloon and it's going to be flown right by the houses of parliament during the

president's visit.

A protest group has been given permission to fly it above the capital by London's mayor, Sadiq Khan, after 10,000 people signed a petition. Huge

protests are expected throughout Mr. Trump's visit. We will be covering it by the way.

But interestingly, you will never come into Central London because the U.S. president is going to meet the queen in Windsor. Meet the prime minister,

all outside Central London. So, there won't be big protests, but he won't have to drive through them.

[15:25:09] However, this giant inflatable baby likeness of Donald Trump will be floating above the Houses of Parliament and we'll be covering the

protest movement as well. Next tonight, we speak to a U.S. immigration activist who's worked on behalf of child migrants. Some representing them

as young as 4.

And amid the doom and gloom, he's made a living of turning sadness and life into comedy. My interview with one of my all-time favorite authors, David

Sedaris. We'll be right back.


VAUSE: The Trump administration's controversial zero-tolerance immigration policy. CNN has learned that the U.S. government is using DNA testing

through cheek swabs to help reunite parents and children forcibly separated while trying to enter the United States.

Miguel Marquez is in McAllen, Texas, closer to the border with Mexico and joins me now live. So, how many of these kids have been reunited with

their parents?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's a darn good question. Zero by the Trump administration so far, but it looks like they

are moving toward it. We have had several parents and kids reunited by judges ordering it. The ACLU and other groups bringing cases to courts.

So, we have seen unifications in that sense. The Trump administration saying they are moving as expeditiously as possible to make a federal

judge's order, an order telling them they had to bring all families together by the end this month.

They say they are working as hard as they can round the clock in some cases to make it happen. Next Tuesday, those under 5 are meant to be are

reunited with their parents Andy the 26th, all minors that were separated under the zero-tolerance policy are meant to be reunited with their


The big issue though is that they came out today, the Trump administration came out today and said we now say that we have just under 3,000 minors in

our care that were separated from their parents.

What they are not saying is how many in that 3,000 are those that were separated under zero tolerance. The other thing they're saying that's very

interesting is that they plan, they are moving, all the parents who have children under 5 to an area close to where their children are right now.

And before the judge's order takes effect next Tuesday, they will house them together. So, they will detain these families as a unit if they have

under five children in some location. We believe it is at Fort Bliss, a military base here in the Southwestern United States. But it is a bizarre

part of this policy that has started to develop here because we still have families crossing this border every day that are being treated like they

were under the Obama administration, under George W. Bush administration, where they're being charged, they are claiming asylum, they go through the

process, they're reunited with their families. They get an ankle bracelet, they make a court date later on and then the process works its way out.

Either they get deported or they don't. But this is completely new territory that we're in right now and it is fascinating to see it play out.

The pace of it in the last 24 hours has really picked up. Hala.

HALA GORANI, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: But this will lead to eventually some mass detention facilities in some of these military bases, right? Where

you have parents and their small kids detained together as families.

MARQUEZ: That is the big question. That is the big question. Are we going to have massive refugee like camps on the southwestern border of the

United States or is it just this class of individuals. Just these families that were caught in the zero tolerance period that the Trump administration

had then he rescinded it that are going to be treated this way and then it'll sort of be gone and forgotten about. It is not clear. I can tell

you at this point, you don't -- we do not see the number of families being separated. We see them being treated as they were previously, in previous

administrations. So it is not clear where the Trump administration is going with all this. They may want to create those sort of big camps down

the road, but it's still not clear. Hala.

GORANI: Miguel Marquez, thanks very much in McAllen, Texas.

This story has been getting attention recently because of the Trump administration's zero tolerance policy, but it's far from a new issue. I

want to show you a 2017 ad for the non-profit immigration counseling services. It shows children alone listening to a translation of a judge

over headphones too big for their little heads. It is a dramatization that was filmed in August of last year based on court transcript and this was

before President Trump's zero tolerance immigration policy.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you a little nervous this morning? See? Do you understand what these proceedings here in court are all about? You know

what a lawyer is?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a lawyer?


GORANI: Filmmakers say this ad called unaccompanied, alone in American is based on court transcripts as I was saying. CNN can't independently

confirm that, but I want to speak to someone who's been in court with kids in similar situation. She's a lawyer who works with some of these migrant

children in the U.S. Some of her clients are as young as 4 years old and while they haven't been separated from their parents, due to the policies

of the Trump administration, she believes this issue is part of an ongoing wider problem of how these kids are treated. Laura Barrera is lawyer at

the University of Nevada Las Vegas Immigration Clinic. She joins me now from Las Vegas.

So, Laura, you represent unaccompanied kids. What are their ages?

LAURA BARRERA, LAWYER, UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA LAS VEGAS IMMIGRATION CLINIC: We have clients all the way from 4 years old up to 17 and 18-year-olds.

The majority are between 12 and 16, but we do have, you know, a decent amount of children under 10 as well.

GORANI: How do you represent a 4-year-old?

BARRERA: Well, I mean it's hard. It's hard because they often have trouble articulating their past experiences and remembering things. A lot

of them, their lives are truly at risk, but sometimes they don't even know the whole story. Just like we would hear. If someone is threatening the

life of a child, you're not always going to tell that child about those threats. So sometimes their knowledge of the reason they're in danger is

not that strong and even when they do have these experiences, they can have a hard time talking about them. So that's why sometimes we'll do things

like draw pictures. I always keep crayons and colored pencils in my office. And so sometimes that can help them remember what they went

through and talk about the threats they've experienced through drawing pictures.

GORANI: It just sounds slightly absurd -- sorry to jump in -- to process a 4, 5, 6-year-old through a court system, where their testimony is based on

crayon drawings. Help us understand how it works.

BARRERA: I mean, it is. Honestly, it is kind of absurd. You know, I went to immigration court with a 6-year-old and we went in the court, we got in

the elevator and I asked her if she was nervous but then the elevator started to move and she got really excited because this was one of the

first times she's been in an elevator. And Then I felt bad that I hadn't let her push the buttons, so I made sure I got her push the buttons on the

way down. She was given candy by some of the guards, but then we go into courtroom and she's treated just like any adult. There's no special

protections in court for children. So -- and they aren't going to be appointed a lawyer so if they can't afford one or they can't get -- find

one that will represent them for free, they're going to be in there by themselves. Opposing council is the Department of Homeland Security --

[15:35:37] GORANI: Wait, sorry. So some of these kids at that age might end up alone in a courtroom with opposing counsel? How do they communicate

with the judge?

BARRERA: Well, that's a good question. The judge will, you know, expect them to do all the things adults do. They'll have to plead to the

immigration allegations against them. Which in itself for a kid that age is kind of ridiculous because a child doesn't really know if they entered

this country legally or not. A lot of them at 5 years old, they don't really have the concept of a country completely. It's, they're basically

treated like adults. I recently did a FOIA to get documents from border patrol about a 6-year-old client and in it said that she was notified of

her right to speak with a consular officer from her home country and she acknowledged understanding that, but declined to speak with an officer at

that time. It also said she acknowledged understanding her administrative rights. And there's just no way that's true. These kids --

GORANI: FOIA is the Freedom of Information Act, just for people who might not know the acronym. But so all these very technical, legalese kind of

words are used to describe what was communicated to the child. What is the point of the proceeding is for a judge to determine whether or not a child

can be accepted into the country as requesting asylum or whether it can be processed through the immigration system in America? Or sent back? Is

that what it's, what the rule -- process is there for?

BARRERA: Yes, these are deportation community. So the burden of proof is on the immigrant to prove that they're eligible for some kind of

immigration relief. So that means you're going to be asking you know children, 6-year-olds, to prove to the government that they have a well-

founded fear of persecution based on their membership, or based on one of the five protective grounds and show that their government of their home

country was unable to protect them and all these other really complex ideas and they're forcing children to do that by themselves.

GORANI: And so how do they come in --

BARRERA: It's completely impossible.

GORANI: Right. And the kids you represent, I mean, these are not kids who are forcibly separated from their parents due to the Trump administration's

zero tolerance policy, but they were separated from an adult at one point. I mean presumably, they didn't you know, trek all the way to the U.S.-

Mexico border on their own. So, who are these kids, generally speaking that you end up representing in court?

BARRERA: They're kids who usually, they're fleeing persecution by the gangs in Central America. So there's a variety of different situations,

but that's usually the biggest factor. They were threatened with rape or with death or different kinds of violence if you don't do what the gang

wants them to do. So some of them, the ones that are teenagers or even preteens, some of them do actually come on their own. They're told join

the gang or, you know, do what we're telling you to do or we're going to kill you and they will actually just leave their house in the middle of the

night and get on a bus and figure out how to get here. So some of them do come on their own.

GORANI: And what percentage of the kids that you've represented are deported?

BARRERA: None of ours have been deported yet, but a lot of them have been denied. Our immigration court in Las Vegas only grants seven percent of

asylum claims. So that's a really low amount. So a lot of our cases are on appeal right now. After you lose an immigration court, you get to

appeal to what's called the board of immigration appeals and then you go to the Ninth Circuit here in Las Vegas. You got to Ninth Circuit. So you

have multiple levs of appeals and we're appealing a lot of our cases, so we haven't actually had to deal with any of these children being deported yet,

but we have had some lose.

And another thing is that the U.S. government doesn't care if those kids have anyone to care for them in their home country. That's not a factor

that gets considered at all. So some of these kids have situations where their parents have been murdered or they're orphan, for other reasons and

they will get deported. If they lose, they will get deported alone and nobody at any point is going to take into account that they don't have

anyone there to care for them.

[15:40:01] GORANI: Laura Barrera, thanks very much. She's an immigration lawyer who represents children in immigration proceedings in Nevada.

Thanks very much for telling us how some of these proceedings unfold.

A free Syrian army spokesman in the past few hours has told CNN the talks between Syrian rebels and Russia are back on. That's following Jordan's

intervention. The Russian backed Syrian military is fighting rebel groups in Daraa in Southern Syria close to the border with Jordan. A conflict

that has sent some 320,000 Syrians fleeing for their lives. A CNN team on the ground said the revival of talks explains a drop in artillery and air

strikes on Thursday afternoon.

I understand there's been a cabinet resignation in the Trump administration. Let's join CNN USA for a moment for the latest.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Go through the 30 or $40,000 privacy phone booth that he had put in his office. The fact that according to this

whistleblower, he had his public calendar scrubbed of a number of, shall we say questionable meetings he had in his capacity at EPA chief. Publicly

removed from the calendar. One of the Trump hotel mattress. You know, Sara Ganim is with me. And Sara Ganim can go through. She's been covering

all of these different really questionable things that this man has been a part of and yet, Sara, we saw him yesterday at the White House, you know,

and the president even called him out by name for the Fourth of July festivities and now, the resignation. What do you know?

SARA GANIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we know this came from a tweet, Brooke. It came from a tweet from the president just moments ago. I have

accepted the resignation of Scott Pruitt as the administrator of the environmental protections agency. With the agency, Scott has done an

outstanding job. And I will always be thankful to him for this. The Senate confirmed deputy at EPA, Andrew Wheeler. Brooke, the tweet goes on,

but I think the important thing you see here is a continued support from Donald Trump, which is what we've seen through, what we are now, it's 14

different investigations we're talking about. When it comes to Scott Pruitt. All dealing with allegations of ethical misconduct while EPA

administrator and through the last 18 months or so that he has been in office, the president has been at times one of the only people who has

supported him, who stood by him. You still see part of that in this tweet.

However, it does seem that some of these things as they continue to pile on, we're catching up with Scott Pruitt. As the days and weeks and months

trickle on, he could not escape these negative headlines. It seemed like not a week, not a day would go by without another scandal. Another

allegation. You're seeing the list here on your screen.

BALDWIN: Here's the scroll. This is the scroll of all of his problems.

GANIM: This is the scroll of his -- of the allegations of ethical misconduct in office. Misused of taxpayer dollars. Potentially benefit

from the office that he held for personal gain. And then you have some rather just rather bizarre headlines like trying to use his position to get

his wife a Chick-fil-A franchise. Trying to get used mattress from the Trump International Hotel. Using staff to run errands to buy lotion, to

buy granola bars. I mean, everything from the really serious to just bizarre and unusual. And you see this list, it continues to scroll as we

talk. It was one bad headline after another for Scott Pruitt. And, you know, we were learning in the last couple of days, some of my colleagues at

the White House, that this was wearing on the president and it seems that Scott Pruitt has now decided this is the time to go.

BALDWIN: Sara, thank you so much. Sara Ganim, stand by.

Let's go over to the White House. And our reporter there, Kaitlan Collins. And Kaitlan, no question, pressure had been mounting. Why was this guy

still, you know, employed? Why was he still in this cabinet position and now, the news? What happened? What was that final straw?

KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Brooke, that's the question pretty much everyone who worked in this White House, including the chief of staff,

John Kelly has had for months now as these scandals have continued to mount. Why is he still around? The only person who still had confidence

in Scott Pruitt and in the job he was doing was the president himself and you can see from his tweet announcing that he has submitted his

resignation, he says nothing of the scandals that were facing Scott Pruitt of anything there. He says instead that he did an outstanding job and that

the president would always be thankful to him for the job he did. That is a stunning tweet when this is someone an EPA administrator, taxpayer

funded, high level government official was accused of blatant misuse of the taxpayer dollar. Had a number of scandals against him and considering that

other members of the president's cabinet had been fired for much lesser offenses, you'll remember Tom Price, who resigned over his airfare use.

Scott Pruitt, that was just a blip on the radar for him, essentially. But we do have here, the president announcing that he's submitted his


[15:45:09] Brooke, you'll recall that comes after just two days ago, we reported that it was Scott Pruitt who went directly to President Trump

during a meeting this spring suggested this plan that stunned a lot of aides frankly, saying that he should fire the Attorney General Jeff

Sessions and replace him with Scott Pruitt who would take over the Department of Justice for 200 or so days before returning back to Oklahoma

to run for office. Now, that is where that came from. That suggestion that the president we've heard and reported floated for months afterward

that maybe he would replace Sessions with Pruitt for a little bit. Even though aides and allies were telling him that wouldn't be a good idea.

Even just this week, we saw a number of stories come out about Pruitt. Things he had aides do including a Washington Post that he had aides on his

hotel rooms on their personal credit cards and failed to pay them back. Several things like that, stories like that. They tried to get his wife a

job. He tried to get his wife to be a Chick-fil-A franchisee. All of these ways that he was using his position, his taxpayer funded government

level position in order to advance himself and his family and gain personal thing.

It was quite stunning, Brooke, that none of those really registered on president's radar and I was told by sources inside the White House that the

president recognized the bad optics in the last few weeks of these stories against Scott Pruitt, but it wasn't that those stories themselves were

enough to discount them with the president. That's stunning considering the way that he's treated people like Jeff Sessions, who the president has

been frustrated with for almost a year now. A little over a year now, actually, for his recusal from the Russia investigation. Though he is not

committed any of the offenses that Scott Pruitt has been accused of doing. It is stunning to see how the president views the two of them in that way

which one he seems to value more. But here he is saying that Scott Pruitt is resigning after what aides though would be -- would happen six or seven

scandals ago and just now it's happening now. The president has accepted his resignation. His deputy is going to take over at the EPA. That will

be certainly something interesting to come for us. But it is surprising that it did take this long for this to happen.

BALDWIN: A lot of people wondering what took them so long.

David Chalian, let me go to you. We were just talking about this yesterday and you're making the point from a Trump perspective, he's been doing his

job. What are you thinking?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICAL DIRECTOR: Every Republican on our air, you've heard Brooke said, well, there are lots of other people that can do that

job and not have all the scandal baggage as well. Clearly, the president came around to that thinking. I know he announced Scott Pruitt's

resignation. We should just remind everyone, cabinet secretaries served at the pleasure of the president. They stop serving when the president is no

longer pleased. So while this may be a resignation that's going to accept it, quite obviously, President Trump was done with Scott Pruitt as the EPA


Yes, I think that there is no doubt that Pruitt was cutting against the grain in every possible way of the promise to drain the swamp. This guy

proved to be swampier than anybody we've seen in Washington in quite some time and that really is against the Trump brand that he was running on

throughout his entire campaign. And that he has used sort of as a metric for himself while serving as president as well. And yet, he was able to

hang on. Yes, as we discussed because he was implementing the policy agenda that President Trump wanted, but this was getting criticism from all

sides. And from inside corners of the west wing from Republican allies on the outside and of course from critics in the opposition, but clearly,

enough now to tilt the scales in favor of Donald Trump getting rid of Scott Pruitt from his cabinet.

BALDWIN: And before we come back to that whole conversation, just the fact that the president put this out on Twitter. It's not the first time he's

announced a resignation on Twitter. Like Rex Tillerson. Reince Priebus.

CHALIAN: Two good examples that come to my mind as well. And we know that the president likes to communicate this way. It's -- he gets the news

instantly out in his frame and can control that narrative and timing a little bit. But what -- I guess I'm wondering is, is he done tweeting

about staff changes going forward in these next few days before his foreign travel or are we going to see any other changes from inside Trump

administration that have been rumored about that may be taking place this summer.

BALDWIN: David, thank you so much.

Brian Stelter is back with us here as well. Media investigations played a huge role in his fate.

[15:50:59] BRIAN STELTER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Checks and balances worked in this case. It might have taken a very long time given this

shocking list of scandals, but the combination of journalists and whistleblowers are the most important part there, the whistleblowers, the

sources, the former EPA staffers who spoke out and called attention to Pruitt's abuses of power. Those were crucial. We saw story after story.

Dozens of them and as that shows. And finally, those stories did appear to amount to something.

I was thinking just now, Brooke, somebody's someday is going make a dark comedy about the Pruitt time at the EPA. It's going to be very funny.

It's going to be like Veep on steroids. But there was nothing funny about his use of taxpayer money, his use of staffers to do personal tasks and

things like that. Of course, probably what's most important here is Pruitt's use of the EPA to roll back Obama's environment. The Obama era

environmental policies and rules. We'll see if any of that changes now that his deputy is in charge. The scandals, of course, are what made the

headlines, but it was a lot of the changes at the EPA that were also really important. I think also worth keeping in mind. The roll back of Obama era

policy. BY the way, it wasn't just journalists on attention. It was even some conservative commentators like Laura Ingraham coming out and saying

Pruitt has got to go. And I'm curious about what happened today given that just last night. Pruitt was at the White House.

BALDWIN: He was the White House being called out by the president of the United States. That's -- you wonder about the timing and I know in time,

we'll find out more of the details, Brian. Thank you so much.

Back over to the White House we go. And Kaitlan, to you, just you know, covering the White House day in and day out like you do, can you just talk

to me a little bit about the evolution of the relationship between Scott Pruitt and President Trump.

COLLINS: Well, it's interesting not just between the two of them but, between Scott Pruitt and the entire White House staff. He was generally

very well liked including by two very key figures in this White House. Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump when he first got his start here. He was

very well liked by a lot of people in the White House. Just at a relationship on a personal level. But then as these scandals began to come

out and they just got worse and worse and then it became even a running joke essentially in Washington, the number of scandals against him and just

how ludicrous they were. Some going from him instructing staffers to figure out how he can buy a used mattress from a Trump hotel. Just very

zany thing. But yet, his relationship with President Trump never faltered. That's not likely just because the two of them got along during their oval

office meetings.

Though the president does value his personal relationships with people, as we've seen before the past. He's fired people who he stopped getting along

with. With Scott Pruitt, it was a lot more than that. Really the only defense that the White House could ever provide for him in the wake of

these scandals, he was facing 14 federal probes, was that he was doing what the president wanted over at the EPA. He was rolling back those

environmental regulations. He was doing those Obama era guidelines. He was really doing what the president wanted. But that raised the question

of if a staffer is doing something like that, something that the administration find useful, are they willing to overlook the scandals

against him and the blatant misuse of taxpayer money.

You also can't ignore that the president has been attending fundraisers in recent weeks, several of them with key figures in the oil and gas industry.

One of those is the billionaire Harold Hamm. He is a key figure in oil and gas. That is someone that the president was having fundraising dinners

with at private residences here in Washington. That is certainly someone who liked the work that Scott Pruitt was doing over at the EPA. So it's a

little bit more than just their personal relationship. It goes into the politics of what exactly he was doing that they like. But we never saw the

president criticize Scott Pruitt. Now, he would say that maybe he found some of the reports troublesome or he believed that we should look at them.

But he never voiced anything less but confidence in him whenever reporters for the last few months have been questioning if Scott Pruitt on his way

out. Are you considering fire him? The president never said he was considering that.

And you'll know White House aides even had trouble defending him. Sarah Sanders especially when she was asked that podium in the briefing room ever

since even April, she said that they were waiting for the investigations. They were going to see what the conclusions of those were and then they

would make a decision going forward with Scott Pruitt. But of course, here it is, Brooke, we're in July. And that never came out. We never heard

them say anything critical of him for what he had done. And as a lot of people in this White House like to say, when the president loses confidence

in someone, you'll know because they're no longer here, but the president didn't fire Scott Pruitt from his tweet what he tells us. He says he

simply accepted his resignation. Of course Scott Pruitt was back in the news this week with those headlines about those allegations against him,

but he wasn't fired. We have seen many other officials in this White House leave for lesser offenses or because they fell out of good graces with the

president. That didn't happen to Scott Pruitt. That did happen to people like H.R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson. Reince Priebus. Several other of those

key figures, but that is not the case with Scott Pruitt. Scott Pruitt clearly here submitted his resignation. We'll learn likely in the coming

hours a little bit more behind what finally pushed Scott Pruitt to the edge just to submit resignation. A lot of that headlines will do that for you.

[15:55:17] BALDWIN: Sure.

COLLINS: It's not the president who fired him, Brooke. It's him who submitted his resignation.

BALDWIN: Sure. If you are just joining us, we are following the breaking news here. The embattled EPA chief, no more. Scott Pruitt has resigned

from his spot there. Kaitlan said that he's been facing 14 federal probes. And, you know, a lot of questions swirling including, well, why now?

Right? All of these ethics violations have been piling up. What has happened for this to be it for him to tender his resignation?

Sara Ganim has been standing by. And, Sara, what happens to these investigations that have been piling up against him?

GANIM: That's a great question, Brooke, and jumping off something that Kaitlan just said, it was dogging them. These investigations were looming

and one has to really wonder what may have been beginning to trickle out. Maybe making its way back to the House White House about what people were

finding. At times, it was their own party. It was Republicans who were investigating Scott Pruitt. Looking into the allegations of wrong doing.

Just last week, late last week, two of his closest aides, his current chief of staff and one of his former top advisers testified under oath before the

House government oversight reform committee. Those are Republicans asking them questions, grilling them.

We're told, on a variety of topics over the course of two days. What did they tell them? Not only the details of those interviews have leaked out.

And you have to wonder if that is looming. Now, I'm told from a congressional source that those investigations will continue. At least

some of them will continue. Especially Democrats don't want to let that go. They want to know what they can uncover about Scott Pruitt, about what

it says about the larger administration. There's also among those 14 different federal probes, investigations by the inspector general at the

EPA and those will continue as well. Most likely. They have often investigated former officials and continued their reports. So it may

really makes you wonder.

But when Kaitlan talked about policy, you don't have to say, a lot of Trump's constituents who he cared a lot about really did love the

deregulation that Scott Pruitt -- that agenda that he was pushing at the EPA, but you look at this tweet and Trump talks about Andrew Wheeler, the

deputy, who was just recently confirmed and when Andrew Wheeler was confirmed at the EPA, people inside the agency started talking and

wondering, Wheeler is very well respected. People believe he would continue that agenda and would the president lose confidence in someone who

was pushing the agenda, yes, but with this side show going on that was continuously bringing bad press. If they could lean instead of someone who

could push that deregulation agenda. Get the job done, but not cause so many bad headlines and not cause so much controversy. And that appears to

have finally caught up with Scott Pruitt. But Andrew Wheeler --

CHALIAN: But if at some point, the president wants to put forward a new person for that, that would open up a big cabinet confirmation battle. I'd

be surprised if he wants to do that. This fall in the midst of the Supreme Court nomination battle and the midterm election. Wheeler seems to be in

good stand, as Sara was saying. So perhaps that will be avoided this fall. This also obviously is going to have huge ramifications, Brooke, for Scott

Pruitt's future. This was a guy who's really interested in a political career of his own. Maybe running for office for a federal office. From

Oklahoma one day. This sort of being dismissed, I understand he resigned, but no longer being required to work in the Trump administration is going

to be a bad mark or on his record politically as he tries to piece together his future.

BALDWIN: David Chalian, thank you so much.

As this big piece of news that just landed in our lap again. Now, we call him the former EPA chief, Scott Pruitt. Make sure you stick with us right

here on CNN. Special coverage of this continues. I'm Brooke Baldwin here in New York. Thank you so much for being with me. "THE LEAD" starts right