Return to Transcripts main page


Trump Tweets Attacking Blasey Ford Could Impact Negotiations to Have Her Testify; ABC: Cohen Has Spoken to Mueller Team Multiple Times for Hours; ICE Arrests Immigrants Who Agreed to Take in Immigrant Children; 3 Infants, 2 Adults Stabbed at Home Daycare in Queens. Aired 11:30-12p ET

Aired September 21, 2018 - 11:30   ET


[11:30:00] NIA MALIKA HENDERSON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL REPORTER: I think they must be. If you think about the move yesterday, people reporting from the White House, basically saying they felt good. Part of the reason they felt good, I imagine, it looked like yesterday this testimony from Professor Blasey might not happen. It seemed the timing wasn't working or there wasn't cooperation between the two sides. Now it looks like it's likely to happen. There are, of course, negotiations of going on about the timing of it, about the format, about the witness list and the order of those witnesses. But other than that, it seems like once they come to some agreement that we, the public, and the Senators will actually hear from her.

I don't think the president is helpful to the Republican strategy at this point. I do think there's a Republican chattering class that has been going after Professor Blasey. It seems like he is taking that tactic at this point. I don't think it's going to be helpful. You wonder, I think the ultimate question is, the Senators, if they actually get a chance to question her. They take that tactic, I think one of the things we have seen obviously from 1991 is that didn't work so well, in retrospect, for a Republican Senators and some of the Democratic Senators there as well. We'll see what happens next week.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Lynn, for everyone that says the president was restraining himself because he understood how high the stakes are, because he understood how bad it would look, what do they say now?

LYNN SWEET, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, CHICAGO SUN TIMES: I'm not sure what they will say now because this tweet is relatively new this morning. What you could already analyze about it is how, in a sense, this demonstrates the cunning of the president in trying to divert the conversation. He, somehow, in his look at the situation, thinks it's useful to try to raise the question of why she didn't report it, but the answer is, she was 15 and did not. And it isn't relevant all the time in a discussion of character for a Supreme Court appointment. She's not pressing criminal charges. He knows there's no police report. No one ever said there was. So in that same tweet, it's, in a sense, damaging to civil discourse to suggest that there's a report when everyone knows she did not report it, by her account, that there's not a report to the police. But he raises it. And I think there are some people who now will think or it adds more confusion. So I think he knows he can create diversionary scenarios, and this is one, and maybe it's just out there to see what happens, to see if this tweet somehow shifts the conversation away from her and puts a cloud upon her. But he's doing this, attacking not only her but her parents.

BOLDUAN: David, the president might be attacking, but there's also -- that might be his strategy now. There's also something of maybe a more traditional approach in defending Brett Kavanaugh underway, as we speak, offering character witnesses. A press conference is happening this hour, of friends of Brett Kavanaugh playing out. Let me play one of them.


SARA FAGAN, FORMER WHITE HOUSE POLITICAL DIRECTOR: While we've all crossed paths with Brett at different points in our lives and in through different circumstances, when the women on this podium speak, you will hear a consistent theme. Brett is a person of honor, integrity, and a person of strong moral character. He is a good husband a good father and a good friend. He's been a strong mentor to many of us and a fair boss.


BOLDUAN: In the chaos of what lawmakers are saying and the chaos, the confusion it's created, what the president is saying, you have friends of both Christine Blasey-Ford, speaking on her behalf and supporting her, and have you friends of Brett Kavanaugh speaking out, saying they believe him. What impact do those character witnesses play or how?

DAVID CHALIAN, CNN POLITICS DIRECTOR: What you heard there from Sara Fagan, a White House political director during the George W. Bush years, what you heard there's not a support of one story over the other of what happened in that house in Maryland. That was a support of Brett Kavanaugh, the man they know and worked with as an adult. I have no doubt that all of those women can tell their version of experiences with Kavanaugh. But it is irrelevant to the claims and allegations that Christine Blasey-Ford is making, claims of what she alleges was a sexual assault, and a belief he was intending on raping her when he was 17 and she was 15 at this party, house party in Maryland. So this is about bucking up his character to prepare for what is going to be the most challenging week and threat to his confirmation. But in terms of actually hearing what they're saying as it relates to this hearing next week, I don't think it relates.

[11:35:02] BOLDUAN: Great to see you, David.

Thank you, Nia.

Thank you, Lynn.

I really appreciate it.

HENDERSON: Thank you.

SWEET: Thank you.

BOLDUAN: President Trump's long-time fixer, Michael Cohen, has reportedly spoken with Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team several times over the last month and for hours. Coming up, what Robert Mueller is reportedly asking him about.


[11:39:56] BOLDUAN: Michael Cohen, President Trump's long-time fixer and personal attorney, is the latest person talking to Special Counsel Robert Mueller in his Russia investigation. That is according to ABC News. Also Cohen met with Mueller's team for hours and in multiple interviews. They say the questions focus mostly on Trump's dealings with Russia, financial deals, and any campaign collusion.

Here's how the president's current attorney, though, Rudy Giuliani, responded to the news: "Cohen is a professional deceiver. If anyone believes him, it's only because they want to get President Trump so badly that they have lost any sense of fairness or objectivity."

Joining me right now, CNN legal analyst, Renato Mariotti, a former federal prosecutor.

Renato, thank you for coming in.

Talking to Mueller's team multimillion times and for hours. Could this be a fishing expedition or, at this point, does it sound like they're getting to something specific?

RENATO MARIOTTI, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It seems to me like very careful questioning of a witness who has observed a lot and talked to a lot of people over the course of years. Don't forget, there's a New York state as well as a federal investigation of Trump Organization activities that itself ongoing. Then on Mueller's side, there would be questions about, for example, Cohen's activities, that dossier that's been cited by both sides going back and forth, features Mr. Cohen very prominently and his supposed trip to Prague. I'm sure Mr. Mueller would want to ask about. Also there would be questions about what the president said about whether it's a potential obstruction of justice or his activities throughout the campaign or in the Trump Tower meeting and so an. A lot of subjects to cover. What it suggests to me is that the interviews are bearing some fruit, because prosecutors don't spend that much time with a witness who is a waste of time.

BOLDUAN: That's an interesting point.

Cohen's attorney says he is provided, in Lanny Davis' words, "critical information, but without a cooperation agreement."

What is this all about? Why wouldn't there be a cooperation agreement?

MARIOTTI: So that's a great question, Kate. What it tells me is that, at the outset, when the attorneys for Cohen provided information to Mueller and his team, they -- and/or the federal prosecutors in New York, the prosecutors decided that Cohen's information was not of enough value to them. It may be that Cohen had interesting things to say. But they didn't think he had a lot of value as a witness, potentially. Or it could be just potentially that he didn't have anything specific enough to offer.

BOLDUAN: We'll see some day, that's for sure.

Thanks, Renato. I really appreciate it.

Coming up for us, they stepped forward to care for undocumented children in government custody. And when they did, they were arrested. Next, how the Trump administration is targeting undocumented immigrants as hundreds of children are still in government custody.


[11:47:27] BOLDUAN: Overnight, we learned that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICES, had arrested dozens, 41 to be exact, undocumented immigrants who had come forward to serve as guardians for undocumented children in government custody. This is a change from the previous administration. The Obama White House did not make it a practice of arresting people who came forward to care for and act as sponsors for these children. Now the Trump administration is doing that and promising to do more. At the same time, hundreds of children separated from their parents, now it is then months and months as a result of the president's zero-tolerance policy at the border, those hundreds of children still remain separated still today. We have learned overnight from a government reports it has released 34 of those kids since last week.

Joining me is Lee Gelernt, the deputy director of the ACLU's Immigrants' Rights Project. He's the lead attorney taking the government to court trying to get these families united.

Lee, thanks for coming back in again.


BOLDUAN: First, I want to ask you about what we are learning from ICE overnight. These people come forward to act as sponsors, as guardians --


BOLDUAN: -- to take care of these children when they're released from government custody.


BOLDUAN: And they're arrested.

GELERNT: CNN has done good reporting on this. What we are dealing with are kids sitting in these facilities. They need somewhere to go. People are coming forward. They're not dangerous. But the Trump administration decided, well, if they're not legally here, we're not going to let them take the children. Even if there are loving people who will take the children. What they've done is say --

BOLDUAN: Family members, some relation?

GELERNT: Exactly. What the prior administration would allow them to go there, because it's in the child's best interest. If you care about children, you'd let the children go there. Instead, the Trump administration thinks, let's get two or three more people deported, even if it means a child languishing in detention for many, many months.

BOLDUAN: Is it complicated? Yes. Is there undocumented? Yes. It's complicated. It comes to kind of what the judge in the case you are working on in this big case says is where the priority, which gets to the --

GELERNT: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: -- health and wellbeing of the child.

GELERNT: Exactly. There are always tradeoffs. We have a lot of people here who are undocumented. But we're talking about a child languishing in detention. The government is trying to make it seem as if they're only going after hardened criminals, national security three. It's not these people. It's at the expense of these children sitting in detention.

BOLDUAN: Let me get the latest from you. The government says 34 kids were released since last week. They termed it as released.

GELERNT: That's right.

BOLDUAN: Are these children that you are involved in their cases?

[11:50:09] GELERNT: Right. So we always have trouble figuring out exactly what the numbers are. The one thing I would say, the progress we made since last week is, when I was here last week, we had 67 kids we couldn't reach --


GELERNT: -- and now there's 31. That's a huge step.

BOLDUAN: You are getting in touch with the parents.

GELERNT: Exactly. We are hopeful now that, putting aside the 31, that is still a problem, but we will either reunify or make a decision or the parents will make decisions for their kids in the next few weeks. We are having a lot of trouble with the government moving the kids quickly to their home countries, coordinating their --


GELERNT: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: You were just in Guatemala to help the parents. What did you find when you were there?

GELERNT: You know what I found? A, it's hard to find the parents and talk to them for a lot of reasons. I also found parents who were facing the most brutal decision. Are they going to leave their children in the United States to seek asylum or bring them home? Either decision is tough. If they bring them home, they may be facing potential death. If they stay in the United States, they may never see them again.

BOLDUAN: Some of them are making that choice.

GELERNT: Exactly.

BOLDUAN: In some of the reporting, to allow their kids to try to have them - leaving them, have them stay in the United States. That seems --

GELERNT: Exactly. And a lot of people are saying, why are they making that decision?


GELERNT: They are not making it lightly. They are agonizing. You can see it on their faces. But what they've said to me is, look, I can't in good conscious bring my child back because it could be a death sentence. This is the hardest thing I've ever --


BOLDUAN: Are these really young kids that they are leaving in the United States?

GELERNT: That's a very good question. One of the big factors in whether the parents decide to leave their children in the United States is the age. If they have an older child and they have at least a distance relative to life with, and they have a viable asylum claim, they are more likely to say the child should remain in the U.S.

BOLDUAN: But they're not going to leave like an 8-month-old in the United States?

GELERNT: Exactly. So the younger the child, they're bringing them back. It's also the older children who are in more danger. If they come back, they are gang recruitment age. The parents are saying, look -- and to people, we are shocked by the decision to leave your child in the U.S., but --


GELERNT: Yes. Yes.

BOLDUAN: We have to go. I just saw that the judge said, "We are going reach a time in the not so distant future where a number of these parents are not located," the judge said. We can't do this anymore. Have we reached the point?

GELERNT: No, I don't think we have. The good things is, between last week and this week, we cut the number in half. I hope when I come back on with you I can say we've cut it again. BOLDUAN: You remain hopeful when a lot of people don't. So we will

hang our hat on that.

Thanks so much for being here.

GELERNT: Thank you for having me again.

BOLDUAN: Thank you. We'll check back with you next week.

Up next for us, it is a heartbreaking story and every parent's nightmare. A stabbing at a daycare and three infants are among the injured. We'll be right back.


[11:55:32] BOLDUAN: The city of Lagos is known as Nigeria's Silicon Valley. But the t3echnology sector is still dominated by men. One successful computer programmer is determined to help her country's most disadvantaged girls fill the gender gap.


UNIDENTIFIED CNN HERO: When I went for the first time, I was surprised to see the living conditions in Lagos. Most girls are trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. Many of them are now seeking education. They plan for the future. I believe girls should be given opportunities.

What can we --

What you can't see, you can't aspire to. They need to be shown another life.


BOLDUAN: To see more of her story and her mission, you can go to


BOLDUAN: We have an update on a horrifying story out of New York City. Three infants, one just 3 days old, were stabbed overnight in what appears to be a home daycare. Two adults also stabbed. Police say the attacker worked at the daycare and tried to kill herself.

CNN's Miguel Marquez is live outside the daycare.

Miguel, are these babies -- how are they doing and what happened?

MIGUEL MARQUEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It sounds like everyone is going to survive, which is the good news. One of the girls was stabbed more seriously than the other. The youngest, which is perhaps the most shocking, was 3 days old! The other two kids were under a month old.

This is the building behind us. It does not look like a daycare. It looks like an apartment building, which it is, in Queens. The Office of Children and Family Services, the state agency that would license a facility like this, says that it is not a licensed facility, and if they were caring for kids that young, it would have to be licensed by them. It's not clear what would be happening here. This was a one- off facility where this happened at 3:40 in the morning as well.

Just a concerning situation all around. We are about to hear more from officials here shortly.

Back to you.

BOLDUAN: We will look for an update.

Miguel, thank you so much. Appreciate it.

We will update you when we have that.

Thank you very much for joining us.

"INSIDE POLITICS" with Dana Bash starts right now.