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THE SITUATION ROOM
Trump Mocks #MeToo Movement at Rally; Trump Administration Tells Judge It Needs More Time to Reunite Families; Dwindling Air, Rising Water Threatening Cave Rescue Effort; Feds Disclose Problems Delaying Reunion Of Immigrants Families; Secretary Mike Pompeo In High-Stakes Talks With Top North Koreans; New Questions About Cohen's Choice. Aired 5-6p ET
Aired July 6, 2018 - 17:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JIM ACOSTA, CNN ANCHOR: Happening now, breaking news, missing the deadline. The Trump administration says it may need more time to reunite separated migrant children with their parents and asks a judge to extend the deadline. Will the government get more time?
[17:00:21] Going to war. President Trump levies new tariffs on 34 billion worth of Chinese goods, and Beijing fires back with similar penalties. Will the escalating trade war tank the U.S. economy?
Thin air. Oxygen supplies are dwindling, and water could be rising soon, complicating efforts to get 13 members of a youth soccer team out of the flooded wave where they've been trapped for two weeks. We'll get a live update on the unfolding rescue drama.
And his song? Secretary of State Mike Pompeo under pressure in Pyongyang to make President Trump's bold promises about North Korea a reality. Did the president tell Pompeo to bring an Elton John CD to Kim Jong-un, who he famously referred to as Little Rocket Man?
Wolf Blitzer is off. I'm Jim Acosta. You're in THE SITUATION ROOM.
ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.
ACOSTA: And we are following breaking news. The Trump administration telling a judge it may need more time to reunite migrant parents and children separated at the border. The government's handling of its self-created crisis is facing growing criticism as top officials fail to answer basic questions about their plan to have hundreds or thousands of children scattered across the country rejoin their parents.
We'll talk about that and more with Congressman Eric Swalwell of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees. And our correspondents, specialists and analysts, they're also standing by.
But first, let's get straight to CNN's White House correspondent Kaitlan Collins. Kaitlan, the Trump administration has a plan to reunite these families. It's not clear what it is at this point. Isn't that right?
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: It's certainly not, Jim. Right now the Trump administration is struggling to contain this crisis that is largely of their own making, and tonight thousands of kids are still separated from their parents.
The White House isn't commenting on that, but President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are trying to put the focus back on Democrats.
MIKE PENCE (R), VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Under President Donald Trump we will never abolish ICE.
KAITLAN COLLINS, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Vice President Mike Pence defending the administration's immigration policies.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We will not be quiet.
COLLINS: And going after Democrats who have called for abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency.
PENCE: We will always stand proudly with the brave heroes of ICE and our Border Patrol.
COLLINS: President Trump seizing on the new language during his rally in Montana last night.
DONALD TRUMP (R), PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The new platform of the Democrat Party is to abolish ICE. In other words, they want to abolish immigration enforcement entirely. That's what they want to do. They want -- they want everybody coming in.
COLLINS: The administration racing to meet a deadline to reunite separated families, telling a judge today it may need more time. Officials are now relying on DNA tests to reunite children with their parents.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA! USA! USA!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA! USA! USA!
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: USA! USA! USA!
COLLINS: The president making no mention of separated children Thursday night, but daring Senator Elizabeth Warren to take a DNA test of her own to prove her Native American heritage.
TRUMP: I'm going to get one of those little kits, and in the middle of the debates, when she proclaims that she's of Indian heritage, because her mother said she has high cheekbones.
COLLINS: Trump publicly mocking the #MeToo movement for the first time.
TRUMP: Because we're in the #MeToo generation, so we have to be very gentle. And we will very gently take that kit, and we will slowly toss it, hoping it doesn't hit her and injure her arm.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Survivors united!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Survivors united!
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Survivors united!
COLLINS: Sources tell CNN he has privately doubted the #MeToo movement, complaining that mere allegations can ruin the lives of the accused.
Earlier in the day, Trump defending Congressman Jim Jordan, who faces accusations that he knew about the sexual abuse of athletes by the team doctor of the Ohio State wrestling team two decades ago. Jordan, at the time the assistant coach, maintains he had no knowledge.
Trump telling reporters, "I believe Jim Jordan 100 percent. He's an outstanding man."
The president traveling with his newest White House employee Bill Shine, the former co-president of FOX News, who stepped down last year after he was accused of covering up for Roger Ailes, the network's long-time chairman, accused of sexual harassment. Shine has denied all wrongdoing.
All this as Trump is nearing another deadline zeroing in on his pick for the Supreme Court.
[17:05:04] TRUMP: You turn in Monday at 9 p.m., I think you're going to be extremely happy with the selection. Right?
COLLINS: Now, the president and the first lady are having dinner with Vice President Mike Pence and the second lady, Karen Pence, at the president's golf club here in New Jersey tonight. There is no doubt, Jim, that that pivotal Supreme Court nomination is going to come up during that dinner as this 11th hour lobbying push by lawmakers and outside groups is sure to continue over the weekend -- Jim.
ACOSTA: We've only gotten closer to the reality TV show cliffhanger. CNN's Kaitlan Collins there in New Jersey, thank you very much. Many of the parents whose children were taken don't even know where their kids are. That's the reality tonight down on the border. National correspondent Miguel Marquez is in Brownsville, Texas, working that part of the story for us.
Miguel, what are you picking up there?
MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, so the administration said all along that it knew where the kids were. It knew where the parents were. And there was a process that would happen once the parents were out to be reunited here with the kids.
What we are seeing here on the ground for a lot of parents, that is not true.
(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) MARQUEZ (voice-over): Lesvia (ph), she's 39 from Guatemala. She may be the first separated parent to get out of detention after going through a normal immigration process, after President Trump signed an executive order ending the separation of families as part of his zero- tolerance policy.
"I can't stand being apart from my son," she says. "Just give me my son."
Lesvia (ph) hasn't seen her 10-year-old son Udam (ph) since May 19. She even wrote him a letter. She believes her son is in the same Brownsville facility visited by DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen last week.
"The deportation officers told me I had to leave and go to Florida to be with my family," she says. "But I'm not leaving without my son."
Her uncertainty about how to get her son back is a sign that parents who are released, even by the administration, don't have a clear process for reuniting with their children.
A woman named Ada being held at Port Isabel Detention Facility in south Texas says in a phone call to CNN she's not sure where her son is, and the promise of two calls a week have never happened.
"No one has called," she says. "Social workers don't answer our calls. I'm desperate. I want to know how my son is. I want to talk to him."
By a federal judge's order, the Trump administration has until today to put detained parents in regular contact with their kids. Parents and lawyers representing them say most have had at least one phone call. Some speak regularly. Others not at all.
It's not clear the administration will meet other deadlines like reuniting kids 4 and under with their parents by next Tuesday. A delegation from El Salvador visited their citizens in detention at Port Isabel yesterday. One mother had this stunning claim.
"Some parents still don't know exactly where their children are," he says. "A mother here only knows her 3-year-old is somewhere in New York."
In documents filed in federal court, the government says it is trying to verify parentage through DNA tests and likely won't make deadlines to reunite all families.
MARQUEZ: Now, that young woman at the start of our piece, Lesvia (ph) from Guatemala, she got out of a detention center in Taylor, Texas, yesterday. It's about five and a half hours from here. She's huddling with people who are helping her in Austin, trying to work through the HHS system. She got zero information upon getting out of DHS custody yesterday yesterday. She says she wants to come here to this facility in Brownsville run by
Southwest Keys. She wants to knock on the door and ask, perhaps beg, for her kid back -- Jim.
ACOSTA: Wow. Miguel, that is painful to listen to.
What about the government this afternoon saying it had to report to a judge. It had to report to judge on whether they are on track to reunite families by this deadline that was set by the judge? Where does that stand right now?
MARQUEZ: Well, the immediate deadline coming up for them are the under 5s, kids 4, 0 to 4 that they have to reunite with their families. We've got some fresh numbers out of this hearing in San Diego today. Did a status conference, basically. About half of those parents are still in custody. About 19 of them have already been deported.
We're also hearing from groups that some kids have been deported without their parents. So 19 deported without kids, kids deported without their parents and others are in custody still. The government saying, "We think we can make the deadline for most, but some of them we probably won't. A lot of this is related to the DNA testing and how quickly they can verify who these parents are -- Jim.
ACOSTA: All right. CNN's Miguel Marquez down on the border with a very difficult situation down there, thank you very much.
Let's get more on all of this with Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell of California, a member of the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees.
Congressman, thanks for joining us.
REP. ERIC SWALWELL (D), CALIFORNIA: Good evening, Jim.
[17:10:00] ACOSTA: The government says it needs more time -- and we should say the Trump administration says it needs more time -- to meet this deadline so they can do a thorough job vetting these families. Do you think that deadline should be extended, or should they be held to this deadline?
SWALWELL: It's unacceptable, Jim, that they need more time. It should not be extended. Their top priority right now needs to be reuniting every child who's been separated from their mother and father.
And the American people, they want order on our borders, but they also want to make sure that we do that compassionately. And so I think we need to devote as many resources as necessary, and if my Republican colleagues who have also expressed outraged are truly outraged by what is going on with these family separations. They should not pass another bill that's a priority of this president or appropriate another dollar until the president makes these families and their reunification a priority for our country. ACOSTA: And there are a lot of bureaucratic hurdles standing in the
way right now, as you know, Congressman. Are you confident that the Trump administration will be able to reunite all these families when all is said and done. Are there going to be some families that are just split apart as a result of this, do you think?
SWALWELL: I hate to think that a single child could be split apart or not know where their parents are. I was on a conference call earlier this afternoon with the Health and Human Services secretary, and I'm not convinced that we're even collecting the proper information at the border so we know when the children were separated from their parents that we even know where the parents are today.
But again, this has to be a bipartisan priority. We have to put the best and brightest who served this government on this task right now so that we can report back to the American people as soon as possible that every child is reunited with the parent or a family member who they came over with.
ACOSTA: And is Congress doing enough to push the administration? I know you're on now saying that they shouldn't pass any more laws unless this is all rectified.
But as a body, as a whole, is the legislative branch of government doing enough to make the administration get this done?
SWALWELL: No, Jim. I've seen a lot of my Republican colleagues who genuinely are interested on this issue. They're getting played by the Republican leadership.
They had pushed forward to try and pass the DREAM Act. We saw nearly 20 Republicans trying to force a vote to give a certain fate to the DREAMers, those who came over, no fault of their own, who are at risk of being removed. And Paul Ryan appeased them by putting up a vote on a very extreme immigration bill that would send millions back to their countries of origin before they could reapply.
And so they have gotten nothing out of trying to force this vote. And I think again they need to draw some red lines and say the most important thing right now are families and kids who are separated. And we're not going to put anything else forward until the president assures us that they are reunited.
ACOSTA: And tell us more about this call with the HHS secretary. Apparently, he on the phone doing a briefing with lawmakers, and lawmakers left this briefing feeling just deeply unsatisfied. They're just not getting any answers.
SWALWELL: Well, Jim, we didn't receive any numbers. Many of us wanted to know what are the actual numbers? How many kids are still disconnected from the parents?
We didn't get a pretty good understanding of what the order is this takes place at the border, what information that's collected, how do you know where the family members are, where the parents are, when they are separated? And we didn't really get a sense of, you know, what are the conditions that these kids are living in right now?
Again, I -- I think that the people who are on the call are doing their best, but they don't have direction from our commander in chief. And when he is making the priority about accusing Democrats of open borders and wanting to abolish ICE and not making it about reuniting families and kids. I think the deputies follow that lead.
And so until the president takes it seriously, I don't think the people working for the president will believe that this is the most important thing they have to do.
ACOSTA: And the president is seizing on calls among some Democrats to abolish ICE. We heard the vice president saying this earlier today. There are some Democrats on screen right now who support this.
Mike Pence was at an ICE headquarters building earlier today, essentially hitting Democrats on all of this. Where do you stand on that? Should ICE, the agency that does immigration and customs enforcement, should that be abolished in your view?
SWALWELL: No, we should abolish the policies that allow ICE to go into communities and tear apart families when no one in that family has committed a violent crime. We should abolish the person who has led the Homeland Security Department, Secretary Nielsen to resign for what she has done to separate families.
But you know, we need to have order in our country, but we need to do that with compassion, and I think we can reform ICE without completely just taking the same wrecking ball to it that the president has taken to these families.
ACOSTA: And do you worry that Democrats calling for the abolition of ICE are potentially alienating moderate voters ahead of the midterms? And at a time when you're trying to focus the public's attention on these kids and their welfare and reuniting them with their parents, it almost seems as if the Democratic Party, not almost.
It does seems as if the Democratic Party has handed a policy, a position to run on in the midterms. They can say, "Well, these Democrats, there they go again. They don't care about border security. They don't forget about crime and so on."
SWALWELL: Yes. And Jim, you know, ICE does not patrol the border. They're an internal security force.
SWALWELL: But I have this -- you know, when I see families in my district in Hayward, California, being ripped apart; when I was a prosecutor and I had a victim of a taco truck robbery before he came to court, he was deported, and he had never committed a crime, that was maddening to me.
And there's a visceral reaction when you see a policy allowing that to happen, whether it's a Democratic president or a Republican president. But I think the most constructive thing to do and what these Democrats
have provoked is a conversation about what is the proper role for ICE in our communities?
And I would submit that, if you are here undocumented, and you're not committing crimes in your communities, that we should find a pathway to citizenship. You should get in line, not ahead of people who have come here legally, go through a background check. But make sure that you can be a part of this America if you're going to work hard and contribute to our society. And we're not going to deport 12 million people who have already come here.
ACOSTA: Democrats -- some of your Democratic colleagues sort of knock it out on that -- knock it off when it comes to abolishing ICE, do you think?
ACOSTA: You know, these conversations are helping, not just for the Democratic Party, Jim, but for our country. Because it does elevate the issue of a family who is at their dinner table and have an ICE raid come into their home, and young children will never see their father again unless they go back to the country that's not safe for them to live. And we should talk about that in this country.
But I think there's ways to reform ICE but to abolish the policies that allow this to take place and, certainly, to hold to account the people who are leading these agencies who are ripping apart families.
ACOSTA: All right. Congressman Eric Swalwell, thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.
SWALWELL: My pleasure, Jim.
ACOSTA: All right. Thank you, sir.
And next, why the difficult effort to save a group of boys trapped in a cave in Thailand is getting more complicated and dangerous tonight.
Plus, the intense focus on President Trump's long-time lawyer. What will Michael Cohen's next move be?
[17:21:48] ACOSTA: Dwindling oxygen and rising water are two of the biggest concerns now facing rescuers trying to get 13 members of a youth soccer team out of a flooded cave in Thailand.
CNN international correspondent Matt Rivers is at the scene for us.
Matt, what is the latest you're hearing there tonight? It sounds like there is some urgency there for those kids.
MATT RIVERS, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes. Things have changed over the last 24 hours, Jim, for a number of different reasons. There was a thought initially that these kids' worst-case scenario could actually ride out the rainy season in Thailand underground for several months. But things -- really, that's not the view any more, because of a couple reasons.
One, oxygen levels are going down. They're now around 15 percent, according to authorities. That's the kind of levels that could cause hypoxia. The same sort of thing that can cause altitude sickness, for example. And then, of course, leading to much worse things.
And then the other thing, of course, would be the rain coming in just the next couple of days. It's the rainy season in Thailand. Rain is coming. It's going to make rising waters happen faster. And so that is why right now officials are saying there is urgency, and there could very well be a swimming -- you know, they have to swim out, use dive equipment.
But at the same time, Jim, also during the day today, they will be looking for holes above the cave, natural chimneys that they can hopefully get into the kids, pull them out that way. Of course, that would be preferable, but that seems unlikely at this point.
ACOSTA: And Matt, how difficult are the conditions for the divers? If that's going to be the scenario that they're going to have to go with in Thailand, that's critical what these conditions are.
RIVERS: Absolutely. And the conditions from what we hear are just terrible. Let's play you some sound with one Thai diver who spoke to CNN yesterday.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE (through translator): It's zero visibility down there. You can't even see the face of your diving buddy. You can only do hand signals, gestures like are you still OK? In the dark and in the water, it would be difficult for the divers to communicate with the children."
(END VIDEO CLIP)
RIVERS: And so, that's what an experienced diver is saying. And that shows you how difficult these conditions are.
And yesterday there was tragedy here. About 24 hours ago, a retired Thai navy diver actually lost his life. Ran out of oxygen while trying to bring oxygen into the children, which is one of the things that's happening here. They're setting up oxygen tanks along the way. He actually ran out of air himself and lost his life. That's a professional diver, Jim. As you can imagine, if that can happen to a former navy diver, you can think just how difficult it's going to be for children, some of whom can't even swim.
ACOSTA: Wow. It's going to be very difficult for those kids. And thanks for staying on top of it. Matt Rivers there in Thailand, thank you very much.
Coming up, what happens if the Trump administration is unable to meet the court-ordered deadline to reunite separated migrant families?
Plus, President Trump goes on the attack, even targeting some of his fellow Republicans.
[17:29:17] ACOSTA: Our breaking news. Attorneys for the Trump administration today told a judge about the legal and bureaucratic problems they face in reuniting parents and children who were captured after crossing the border. The administration is suggesting it may have to ask the courts to delay the deadline for family reunifications.
Let's bring in our political and legal experts.
I'll turn to Jeffrey Toobin. The government, the Trump administration -- when we say the government, I guess we have to say the Trump administration, because it is the administration that chose this path. They say they need more time. They may not be able to meet the deadline. If they don't meet the deadline, what can the judge do? Can the judge do anything. really?
JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: This is really a great lesson on how -- how the real world works. Since 1803 in the case of Marbury v. Madison, it's been clear that courts have the last word. In theory.
But as a practical matter, you know, what can a judge really do in a circumstance like this? In theory, the judge could hold certain officials in contempt of court, but that won't get the kids out of --
ACOSTA: He can hold the HHS secretary in court or -- contempt of court or something like that?
TOOBIN: That's right. The judge could do that. But, you know, as a practical matter, this is going to be a negotiation. And the judge's going to keep pushing and pushing as is appropriate, but if the administration simply can't do it, there isn't a lot a judge can do. So, I mean, it's a good lesson in sort of the real-world limits of judges. They can push and they push hard but they can't make things happen. They don't have staff and resources and that kind of power.
ACOSTA: Mark Preston, I don't think Stephen Miller is going to be held in contempt of court. But some parents have already been deported without their kids. People don't know where their kids are. It reminds me of the ICE trucks during Katrina that were sent up to Maine instead of down in Mississippi and so on. How big of a fiasco is this for the administration and how much bigger can it potentially get? It can't meet this deadline?
MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Oh, it can absolutely can get worse. I mean, look, as I will use very plain language that our good Jeffrey Toobin uses -- look, we can talk about the politics of it, we can talk about the logistics of it, but the bottom line is it's the morality of it. And it's immoral that we're dividing up families at border. And I go back to something I said on this show, you know, a few weeks ago when the (INAUDIBLE) blew up, Jim. Is that if you look into the Republican Party platform, they talk about the need for a mother and the father to raise a child. Whether or not you agree with it --
ACOSTA: Family values.
PRESTON: But the fact of the matter is, we haven't seen this outcry from Republicans that should've -- that we should've heard a long, long time ago. So, yes, it could get a lot worse. What we saw with these families that they became political bargaining chips in this issue of immigration that we as a country have failed to solve.
ACOSTA: And Sam Vinograd, Trump as you know, has been seizing on this abolish ICE movement that's been going on in the Democratic Party. I guess it's not really a ground swell of support. There are a number of lawmakers who have expressed an interest in abolishing ICE. How dangerous is this politically for the Democratic Party to be seen as wanting to do away with ICE in the midst of all of this? It's a distraction of what's happening with the kids and I suppose that is part of the problem.
SAMANTHA VINOGRAD, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY ANALYST: Well, I think that this, just from a political standpoint, is a gift to Donald Trump because the office gave the fact that ICE is implementing policies like the child abuse at the border that the president ordered. ICE didn't come up with those policies there -- one of the agencies that's implementing them. And it's healthy to have a debate about how missions should shift and whether agencies are doing what they should. But the president, as he often does, speaks in hyperbole and spreads misinformation about what ICE does and doesn't do. ICE does have an enforcement and removal function when it comes to illegal immigrants, but it does a whole lot of other things -- for example, they have Homeland Security investigations unit. That looks at a range of transnational threats related to the illegal movement of people and goods into within and out of the United States. So, there are a lot of thing that they're doing that are ordered by the president. And if we are going to have a debate about abolishing ICE or modernizing ICE, we have to keep in mind all these different functions they're fulfilling.
SABRINA SIDDIQUI, POLITICAL REPORTER, THE GUARDIAN: I think it's important to note that it's only a handful of Democrats have actually suggested that ICE should be abolished, that president and Republicans are overstating the fact that that is somehow now the platform of the Democratic Party. There's been no indication that it is. In part, because --
ACOSTA: We've seen Democrats pull back from this a little bit.
SIDDIQUI: And the administration and the president who sees on this issue is try to distract from the fact there is no plan currently in place to reunite the parents who have been separated from their children at the border. They also are trying to overlook the fact that there are many more children in the government's custody than we've initially stated, that the conditions these children being kept in are a lot worse than we were initially aware of. You just had a report of a 14-month-old boy who was returned after more than 80 days to his mother covered in lice -- who had apparently not been bathed. These are the conditions in which these children are being kept and that is the real story, and that's what the administration does not want to acknowledge.
ACOSTA: And Mark Preston, the president didn't really talk about these kids last night in Montana. He had a range of other subjects to touch on. Let's play through some of those and get your take on that.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: She is a low I.Q. individual. Maxine Waters. I said it the other day. I mean, honestly, she's somewhere in the mid-60s, I believe that. And even though we got a little surprise vote that evening, you all remember that evening. Somebody came in with a thumb's down after campaigning for years that he was going to repeal and replace but that's OK. By the way, you know, all the rhetoric you see, the thousand points of light, what the hell was that, by the way? Thousand points of light? What did that mean? Does anyone know? I know one thing. Make America great again, we understand. Putting America first, we understand. Thousand points of light, I never quite got that one. What the hell is that? Has anyone ever figured that one out? It was put out by the Republican.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
[17:35:27] ACOSTA: Incredible, Mark Preston. Obviously, there in a couple of those portions of that mash-up we just played there. He went off on John McCain who obviously was the decisive vote in the repeal or replace Obamacare vote that happened in Congress. And also, just as George H.W. Bush is obviously declining health, Barbara Bush passed away earlier this year. He goes after thousand points of light, which was part of former President Bush's rhetoric about getting marshalling volunteerism across the country.
PRESTON: In an organization, Jim, that still does a lot of really good --
ACOSTA: The Points of Light Foundation still working.
PRESTON: Correct, correct, correct. You know, can we just call it for what it is? I mean, basically, Donald Trump goes out and has turned the political rallies into two things: one, they're political roasts; and two, they're political roasts against his enemies. And he feels that he's unshackled to say anything that he wants. When would you ever think that you would see a president of the United States acting that way? Would Abraham Lincoln act that way? Would George Washington act that way? And would George H.W. Bush act that way? No. And when he went after John McCain, and he went after George H.W. Bush -- because the really are still the moral compass of the Republican Party right now. They're not afraid to criticize.
TOOBIN: And can we also, can we also --
ACOSTA: Go ahead, Jeff. TOOBIN: But just how about this Maxine Waters stuff over and over
again? Low I.Q. How racist is that? I mean, come on. Let's just be honest about this. How many black people does the president have to attack in these terms? I mean, he's always like whether it's NFL football players or, you know, the UCLA basketball players? I mean, come on. Is it a coincidence that he calls a senior black legislator low I.Q.? I mean, it's revolting and we should just be clear about what's going on here.
ACOSTA: And Sam Vinograd, when he goes after George H.W. Bush's thousand points of light, it's almost as if he's mocking the concept of kindness and volunteerism; doing good in your community and so on.
ACOSTA: You know, he'd rather hear make America great again. OK. Well, volunteering and showing acts of kindness, that also helps make the country great, as well.
VINOGRAD: It does. But let's just ask Donald Trump the question: what has he done to serve his country? When's the last time that he volunteered to serve his country? He's going after war veterans, he's going after a volunteer program. I'd really like to know when the last time was that he volunteered and did something actually helpful for America. And Mark, you said that he uses the rallies to go after his enemies, he's not going after Vladimir Putin. He used his rally to compliment Vladimir Putin to say that he's fine. So, the one person that he should be going after, that would actually keep our country safe, he's complimenting from a campaign podium.
ACOSTA: And the president did not volunteer to serve in the military which John McCain and George H.W. Bush did. So, thank you very much for all of that.
Coming up, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo begins his high-stakes visit North Korea but isn't saying whether he brought along a C.D. for rocket man, for Kim Jong-un. Also, new questions raised by former Trump Attorney Michael Cohen's decision to hire a lawyer who's worked closely with Bill Clinton.
[17:43:02] ACOSTA: We're keeping a close watch on developments from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo's high-stakes mission to North Korea. The secretary is greeted by some of Kim Jong-un's top officials when he arrived in Pyongyang and headed right into talks which we expected to resume on Saturday. At one point, Secretary Pompeo laughed off reporters' questions about whether he brought along a C.D. of Elton's John's song "Rocket Man" as a gift for Kim Jong-un. Let's get more from CNN's Pentagon, of course, Barbara Starr. Barbara Starr, this is a high stakes mission for the Trump administration whether or not Elton John is involved, I guess.
BARBARA STARR, CNN PENTAGON CORRESPONDENT: And we don't know and we don't know what Elton John thinks of all of that anyhow. But you know, the serious point here at the moment is as you say, Jim, in the coming hours, given the time difference, Mr. Pompeo will sit down again with the North Koreans as the world watches for results.
STARR: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo arrived in Pyongyang needing to score a win for President Trump on getting North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons. Across the table, North Korea's Vice Chairman Kim Yong-chol said it was a meaningful meeting.
MIKE POMPEO, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I look forward to it.
STARR: This visit marks Pompeo's third trip to Pyongyang and the first since President Trump and Kim Jong-un held a summit in Singapore last month.
POMPEO: One more time, I'll have to pay taxes here.
STARR: Still, joking may not last for long. Pompeo has a huge task ahead.
BRUCE KLINGNER, FORMER CIA ANALYST: He really needs to add meat to the very bare bones of the Singapore communique. He needs to get a real unequivocal and public commitment by North Korea.
TRUMP: We signed a wonderful paper saying they're going to denuclearize their whole thing. It's going to all happen.
STARR: The commitments need? North Korea would have to agree to declare all its nuclear sites, allow inspectors into the country and not demand the U.S. also give up its nuclear weapons. North Korea is clearly savvy. A reporter traveling with Pompeo asked a North Korean official what Pyongyang expected from the meetings. His reply, we'll have to see like your president says, then fired back asking in this van, no fake news? The Pentagon has already pulled back on large scale training exercises. It's not known what other incentives and concessions President Trump will offer Kim.
WESLEY CLARK, UCLA BURKE CENTER FOR INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: This is totally contrary to the expectations that the president built and that have been sustained that this would be a North Korean denuclearization.
STARR: And if it all goes wrong, and both sides returned to previous tensions --
KLINGNER: When Pompeo is CIA director, he said it was only a handful of months before North Korea had the ability to target the entire continental United States with nuclear weapons. So, the longer the that talks drag out with no real resolution, the closer North Korea gets to achieving that goal.
STARR: Now, one thing that is not about to change, the U.S. intelligence community will still be keeping a very sharp eye on North Korea to keep track of what they are doing and the status of their nuclear program. Jim? ACOSTA: I bet they will. CNN's Barbara Starr, thank you very much.
[17:46:20] Coming up, new questions raised by former Trump Attorney Michael Cohen's decision to hire a lawyer who's closely worked with Bill Clinton. Plus, the Trump administration tries to explain the delays of reuniting parents and children who were separated at the border.
[17:51:14] ACOSTA: Tonight, there are new questions about the next legal move for President Trump's former Personal Attorney Michael Cohen. He raised a lot of eyebrows by hiring Lenny Davis, a lawyer who worked for among others, Bill Clinton. CNN's Brian Todd has been working his sources on this. Brian, what are you hearing?
BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jim, Michael Cohen appears to be taking measures at this point that are designed to protect himself. From the backgrounds of the two attorneys he's just hired, to what he's been telling friends recently. We're told the president and his inner circle should be very concerned about the man who once would've done anything to protect Donald Trump.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The next president of the United States.
TODD: A respected biographer of Donald Trump says tonight that if the president isn't worried about Michael Cohen, he's not paying attention.
MICHAEL D'ANTONIO, AUTHOR: I would put my money on him flipping on him giving Robert Mueller ample information. The threat that Cohen poses to Donald Trump is enormous.
TODD: There is intense focus tonight on the president's former lawyer and what his next move will be. Cohen has not yet been charged with a crime, but he's waiting for a possible indictment in an ongoing criminal investigation by prosecutors from the southern district of New York, a probe into Cohen's business dealings and a possible violation of election law. One of Cohen's friends recently told CNN: "If they want information on Trump, he's willing to give it." Another friend saying, Cohen feels let down and isolated by Trump. A Cohen friend tells CNN, he's recently said, he doesn't think Trump will offer him a pardon. Analysts say all of this is a signal.
JEFFREY JACOBOVITZ, CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY: It is certainly sending a message to Donald Trump that we're taking this very seriously and I'm looking to protect myself.
TODD: The latest twist? Cohen, an ardent Trump loyalist, who once said he'd take a bullet for the president, has hired a Clinton loyalist, Lanny Davis, as his Washington; and he's hired Guy Patrillo, who once led the prosecutor's office which is now investigating Cohen as his criminal defense lawyer. Jeffrey Jacobovits, who represented three White House staffers during the Clinton scandals says Cohen is facing enormous pressure.
JACOBOVITS: The emotional process is, there's a lot of uncertainty. He doesn't know when it's coming down, he doesn't know what documents he's turned over or what tapes he's turned over that will be attractive to the government, that will be in an indictment.
TODD: Cohen recently told ABC News: "My wife, my daughter and my son have my first loyalty and always will. I put family and country first." A far cry from the time Cohen prided himself on being Donald Trump's fixer.
MICHAEL COHEN, FORMER PERSONAL ATTORNEY TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: And I care about Mr. Trump.
TODD: A key question tonight: If Cohen flips, what's the most damaging information he could give investigators on President Trump?
D'ANTONIO: Michael Cohen has information going back more than a decade on all of the deals Donald Trump made and all the ones he tried to make and didn't succeed in making. So, you've got Cohen reaching out to the Kremlin in 2016 while the campaign was at a fever pitch, still pursuing a Trump Tower Moscow deal.
TODD: Now, if Michael Cohen is getting ready to flip on President Trump, that word is not officially coming from Cohen's lawyers yet. We reached out to Cohen's new lawyer, Lanny Davis, who said they would not comment on anything that might impact the investigation by prosecutors in New York. Davis reiterated that Michael Cohen has not yet been charged with any crime, and Davis referred us to Cohen's other new lawyer, Guy Patrillo, the former prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. Patrillo, did not return our calls or e-mails. Jim?
ACOSTA: Brian Todd, thank you very much.
Breaking news next, the Trump administration won't commit to meeting a judge's deadline to reunite separated immigrant families. We'll get a live update on a critical hearing.
[17:55:02] Plus, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team says Paul Manafort's bank fraud trial does have a connection to the Trump campaign.
ACOSTA: Happening now, breaking news. Court-ordered? The Trump administration says it may not meet its first deadline to reunite separated immigrant families as new horror stories surface about the conditions some children are enduring. Tonight, the vice president is defending the system despite the confusion and delays.
Quid pro quo. Tonight, the special counsel team says it has a $6 million connection between the bank fraud charges against Paul Manafort and the Trump campaign. Stand by for details. [18:00:05] Endorsing Putin. President Trump offers new praise of the
Kremlin's strong man while they launch new verbal attacks on America, including fellow Republicans. How far will he go to discuss concerns --