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Trump Administration Will Miss Today's Court-Ordered Deadline on Reuniting Families; Trump: Meeting with Putin Will Be Easier than NATO Summit, U.K. Visit; Michael Flynn in Court Today. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired July 10, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:33:27] KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Today was the day the youngest children separated by the president's zero-tolerance policy were supposed to be back with their parents. Today, instead, is another day when the government can't give a straight answer on why that isn't happening. Today is also the day the government is likely to miss the court-ordered deadline. The Justice Department attorney said in court that just over half of the nearly 100 children under the age of five will be reunited with their parents today.

This morning, President Trump was asked about what he thought about the administration missing that deadline. Here's what he said.


DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I have a solution, tell people not to come to our country illegally. That's the solution. Don't come to our country illegally. Come like other people do, come legally.


BOLDUAN: CNN's Miguel Marquez is live in Texas near a facility that houses some of the young migrants.

Miguel, are you seeing reunifications there? What are you hearing from parents?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: We're not seeing them here. The way it has begun to work, and it has begun to work already in cities across the country, ICE is going to start moving these kids to places where their parents are. In Phoenix, Arizona, for example, there's a couple of different facilities there. And government vans from ICE came, picked up kids. They're going to move them over to see their parents at another facility, reunite them there, and then likely release them out into the -- to refugee groups, groups that help them locally so they can continue to with their asylum process or any other claims that they have. Much like every family deals with as they come across right now.

[11:35:06] All that aside, the judge today in California is going to hear another hearing to sort of get an update on the process of not only the under 5s, but to try to set a roadmap for those five and over. You've got 100 today, but several thousand families want this to happen with their kids on an expedited basis. That is not what the government is saying. The government is saying they're going to treat them as unaccompanied minors. The ACLU that brought the suit said, no, you've got to treat them differently because it was the government that ripped these kids from their parents' arms as they crossed the border. They were accompanied, and the government rendered them basically separated. So it's the government's responsibility to put them back together as quickly as possible. Talking about using documentation and, at the extreme end, possibly some DNA tests. That is the argument right now, how are you going to get those thousands more together by the 26th deadline -- Kate?

BOLDUAN: That's absolutely right.

Miguel, let's see what happens today as we've said almost every day.

Really appreciate it, Miguel.

Joining me now, attorney and immigration expert, Raul Reyes.

Thanks for being here, Raul, again.

So as Miguel was laying out, there's basically two legal proceedings, two tracks happening --


BOLDUAN: -- all having to do with the future of these kids. Is there anything, first off, anything that you are seeing in what the government is arguing in court that tells you why the government hasn't been able to get these kids back with their parents? I'm talking to lawmakers, and they haven't been able to get an answer.

REYES: Right. I think what I'm hearing across the board from advocates and volunteer lawyers and different people involved in these cases is that the government, by their own admission, they are saying they need more time because they don't have procedures in place for reunifications. They didn't keep paperwork or tracking across -


BOLDUAN: The records were not kept property.

REYES: The records were not kept. In some cases, the "New York Times" has reported that they were destroyed. Now, for lack of a better term, the government is winging it to comply as quickly as possible with the court decisions.

As you said, there's two tracks. One goes back to Friday when the judge declined -- this is the court in San Diego.

BOLDUAN: To the Flores --


REYES: No, this is before the Flores. BOLDUAN: Oh.

REYES: This is the judge who says that the deadlines must be met.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Yes.

REYES: The deadline today is for the children under 5. Then coming up, another deadline in two weeks for all the children. He says he will not extend them. But what he will do -- this seems that he is acknowledging that there some good faith effort on behalf of the Trump administration now -- is on a case-by-case is basis, he will accept. If there's a reason why they can't find this parent, if they can show why it's so difficult.

What happened yesterday was the Trump administration went to the judge in Los Angeles, and here's where the Flores settlement comes in.

BOLDUAN: Let me read the part from -- I want to get this because we've talked about the Flores decision. This essentially, without getting into too much detail, it's a decades' old court settlement that's intertwined in this whole thing. The judge, the judge said that with the government -- the judge said this -- "It is apparent that the Trump administration's request is a cynical attempt to shift responsibility to the judiciary for over 20 years of congressional inaction and ill-considered executive action that have led to the current stalemate. Regardless," the judge said, "what is certain is that the children who are the beneficiaries of the Flores agreement's protections are blameless."

What does the government want to do here?

REYES: Right. What the government was arguing, the government now -- as an observer -- the government had a high hurdle to clear to begin with, asking the judge to set aside a settlement that she created. The government was arguing that the judge's settlement had the effect of increasing illegal immigration because people maybe heard about it and were coming to the southern border. That rubbed the judge the wrong way. The Trump administration also cited a lot of the political pressure, the chaos that's all over these detention centers, the lack of coordination between different agencies. And what the judge said in response, and backed up by the ACLU's position, is that while the chaos is of your own making, this is something that you did. She said she found all of the Trump administration's arguments very dubious, unconvincing. She did not want it put back on her. What this means is that 20 days -- there's a requirement under the Flores settlement that, after 20 days, children have to be released from detention. And why that matters right now, as families start to be reunified, immediately the clock will start ticking on the 20 days by -- under which the kids have to then be released. The Trump administration doesn't want to let families out altogether. Although they could with, say, ankle bracelets, monitoring devices. What we'll see ahead, they will appeal this to the Ninth Circuit. If they rule against the Trump administration, this is where it really gets into uncharted territory. It could potentially go to the Supreme Court. The justice in charge of the Ninth Circuit is Justice Kennedy. His resignation is effective July 31st. So there's a gray area. If it's before or after that, who will handle it on the Supreme Court now, and will that case ultimately get to the high court?

[11:40:21] BOLDUAN: A lot to watch there.

REYES: Yes. Very complicated.

BOLDUAN: But it all comes down to a simple fact. As this judge says, these children are blameless. They're separated from their parents.

REYES: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: You guys got to get it together and fix it.

REYES: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: Great to see you --


REYES: The tough part is that the court process moves so slow. But these kids are in detention now. They need their parents' help.

BOLDUAN: Yes. Exactly right.

Raul, we'll see what happens with this deadline today and what happens next.

Coming up for us, President Trump is en route to meeting with key NATO allies, and yet, the meeting, he says, will be the easiest with Russian President Vladimir Putin. What? And why? Next.


[11:45:32] BOLDUAN: President Trump is on his way to another international gathering of allies. This time, it's NATO. Again, following the visit with another meeting with an adversary, this time it's Russia.

Just before leaving the White House this morning, the president said this to reporters about his expectations for his trip.


TRUMP: NATO has not treated us fairly, but I think we'll work something out. We pay far too much, and they pay far too little. But we will work it out, and -- all countries will be happy. So I have NATO, I have the U.K., which has been in somewhat turmoil, and I have Putin. Frankly, Putin may be the easiest of them all. Who would think?

As far as I'm concerned, a competitor, a competitor. I think that getting along with Russia, getting along with China, getting along with others is a good thing, not a bad thing.


BOLDUAN: All right. Joining me now, retired Lieutenant General Doug Lute. He was U.S. ambassador NATO under President Obama.

Ambassador, thank you for being here.

LT. GEN. DOUG LUTE, FORMER U.S. AMBASSADOR TO NATO: It's good to be with you.

BOLDUAN: I want to get your reaction to the president this morning. First, when he says that NATO hasn't been treating the U.S. fairly, that we pay too much, they pay too little.

Your reaction?

LUTE: Sorry. I'm sorry.

Look, the president's right on defense spending. For a number of years, presidents of both parties have argued that European allies need to step forward and do more for -- in defense spending. So I think he's got a point here.

On the other hand, over the last four years, allies actually have stepped up. All allies have stopped defense spending cuts, which go back in some cases as far as 20 years. They've begun to increase defense spending. And when you add that up over the last four years, increases by our European allies total $87 billion. That's real money.

BOLDUAN: Then, Ambassador, I mean, you were there when NATO allies agreed to this 2 percent standard back in 2014. As you mentioned, past presidents of both parties have said that NATO allies need to step up. Obama said that NATO allies need to do more in terms of when they're contributing to the defense. Do you think is it fair for President Trump to criticize NATO members when the goal was to meet the standard by 2024?

LUTE: Well, you're right. Look, the pledge made in 2014 was a 10- year pledge. So near 2018, we're four years into a 10-year program. My argument would be the glass is half full. That allies have stopped cuts, they've begun to increase defense spending. President Trump joins a number of his predecessors, from both parties, both Democrats and Republicans, who have called for allies to do more. And now they are.

I think the serious question here is, why are they doing more now. Fundamentally, it's because 2014 was a watershed year for the alliance. Watershed because 2014 saw Putin's aggression against the Ukraine and 2014 saw the rise of the so-called Islamic State to NATO south.

BOLDUAN: Interesting. So do you think it has to do with President Trump? That they're doing more now?

LUTE: I think President Trump is consistent here with his Democrat and Republican predecessors.

BOLDUAN: OK. LUTE: But the real incentive here, the real thing to change the

dynamics inside European budgets was Vladimir Putin's aggression to the east.

BOLDUAN: That is exactly then why what -- what we also heard from the president this morning, I wanted to ask you about. When he said about his trip that his meeting with Vladimir Putin will actually be the easiest, why would the Putin meeting be the easiest, Ambassador?

LUTE: Well, I can only assume the president was saying that because of two big advantages, which he will take into the Putin meeting. First of all, he'll consult with his 28 NATO allies in advance of the Putin meeting. He'll go there fresh from consultations with our closest allies. Second of all, he'll go into the Putin meeting from a position of strength. Why? Because NATO is unified. It's unified against Russian aggression in Ukraine. It's unified against Russian assertiveness along NATO's border. And it's unified in opposition to NATO's interference in our democratic election processes. He's going --


BOLDUAN: But I have heard, Ambassador -- but I have heard, Ambassador, other folks say that they're nervous that Trump is destabilizing when it comes to NATO. Do you fear that the result of some of these -- of the meetings coming up could be a breaking up of NATO?

[11:50:06] LUTE: I doubt that. First of all, NATO is a legally binding 70-year-old treaty obligation. So it's not an executive decision to be a part of NATO or not. It's a congressionally ratified treaty obligation. Also there's two fundamental ways to look at the U.S. leadership role

in the alliance. One is leadership by example, leadership that unifies the 29 allies. And another is a tactic of disunity or division or trying to gain leverage one against the other. I hope the president will opt for the first model, a model of unity.

BOLDUAN: We will watch along together. I'll have you back on, and we'll discuss at the back end of the trip.

Thank you, Ambassador.

LUTE: OK. Thank you very much.

BOLDUAN: Thank you very much.

Coming up for us, Michael Flynn, the only Trump administration official charged in the Russia investigation, is back in court this morning. It's his first court appearance since he admitted he lied to the FBI. What happened? We'll be back.


BOLDUAN: Former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, appeared in court this morning. It was his first court appearance since pleading guilty to lying to the FBI in December. His sentencing has been delayed since then. Well, he cooperated with the Robert Mueller investigation.

CNN's justice correspondent, Evan Perez, was in court for this hearing today, and he joins me now live.

So, Evan, what happened?

[11:55:44] EVAN PEREZ, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Kate, the judge essentially brought these two sides in because he wanted to get an update on what was taking so long, six months since Michael Flynn decided to plead guilty to lying to the FBI. Essentially, that cooperation with the government is continuing. We don't know whether Mike Flynn is providing any new evidence to the Robert Mueller investigation or whether it's simply that the Mueller investigators don't want to show their hand, don't want to say exactly what has happened. But the judge accepted that they are going to delay Mike Flynn's sentencing. They're going to provide an update in August. Keep in mind, he's facing up to five years in prison if he gets all of that, but we don't expect he will. But essentially, the judge brought him in today, and he gave them more time for them to continue the cooperation agreement they have. Then sentencing will be decided later this summer.

BOLDUAN: Any suggestion they wanted that investigation to wrap up?

PEREZ: No. The judge said that he was not trying to push anybody to wrap things up. He simply wanted to express some concern about the probation office and all the work they have to do with this case.

BOLDUAN: All right. Evan, thanks so much. Really appreciate it.

That's the update from there.

Also coming up, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee on Capitol Hill meeting with the Senators who will decide his future. What does the fight look like now?