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Russia Reopens Strait after Firing on 3 Ukrainian Navy Ships; Outrage Erupts after Migrants Blasted with Tear Gas at Border; Trump Heads to Mississippi in Final Push for Controversial GOP Candidate. Aired 1:30-2p ET

Aired November 26, 2018 - 13:30   ET



[13:34:06] BRIANNA KEILAR, CNN HOST: The United Nations Security Council is in an emergency meeting today to address the deepening crisis in Ukraine. Tensions flared up after this violent confrontation at sea. Ukraine is saying that Russian patrol boats opened fire on three Ukrainian Navy ships before they seized them off the coast of Crimea. Russia says it detained 24 Ukrainian soldiers. Both countries trading accusations over who is to blame here, while the U.S. condemned Russia's actions at the United Nations today, calling them, quote, "an outrageous violation of sovereign Ukraine territory." Russia and Ukraine have been in conflict since Russia annexed Crimea back in 2014.

I want to bring in our chief international correspondent, Clarissa Ward.

Clarissa, tell us what we are hearing generally, from around the globe, which seems to be condemnation.

[13:34:55] CLARISSA WARD, CNN CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. It's fair to say a lot of world leaders are extremely nervous about this and see this as a dangerous escalation and a conflict that resulted in thousands of casualties since the Russians annexed the Crimea peninsula in the Kerch Strait, a body of water that runs between Russia and Crimea. The Russians built a bridge over the strait earlier this year and, since then, we have seen a slew of incidents. U.S. officials talking about Russian ships persistently harassing international shipments, particularly shipments that were headed for Ukrainian ports. They see this as an opportunity to try to hurt Ukraine's economy.

The Ukrainians see this as a straight-forward act of aggression. Petro Poroshenko, the country's president, is right now trying to pass a law through parliament to get martial law implemented. The Russians have a different side of the story. They said the Ukrainian warships who were illegally in Russian waters, that are performing dangerous maneuvers. Russian state TV, Brianna, has even gone so far as to say this is an opportunity to try to scupper a meeting between President Trump and President Putin -- I should say -- in Argentina, later this week. I should say, Brianna, we have not heard anything from President Trump. We heard from the NATO secretary-general, calling it a dangerous escalation. We have heard from the U.K., calling this an act of aggression. We've heard Germany, saying there needs to be de- escalation. But so far, nothing, Brianna, from President Trump.

KEILAR: So noticeably absent. Good point.

Clarissa Ward, in London, thank you.

Tear gas fired and chaos erupts. The president of the National Border Patrol Council will join me to explain this scene at the border.

And a Senate showdown in Mississippi as a swirl of controversy surrounds the Republican incumbent. President Trump makes a last- ditch effort.


[13:41:28] KEILAR: Mexico is clamping down on the migrants who rushed the U.S. border yesterday, saying they will deport around 500 people because of the violence. These are images that are hard to ignore. You see small children running from tear gas canisters that were shot into the crowd by the U.S. Border Patrol agents.

Here with me now is Brandon Judd, the president of the National Border Patrol Council, which is the organization for 16,000 border agents.

Just to be clear, your organization endorsed President Trump in 2016 and you support this proposal to build a border wall. When you look at the pictures, I wonder what your reaction is.

BRANDON JUDD, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL BORDER PATROL COUNCIL: My first reaction is, what led up to the situation? Unfortunately, what happened is a monstrous act took place. They started going towards the port of entry and then they broke off and went east and went to cross the border illegally. They pushed women and children up front. And from behind the women and children, they started throwing projectiles at our agents, such as rocks, bottles, and even small concrete slabs.

KEILAR: Were agents injured in that?

JUDD: A couple of agents were hit. Once that happened, we then had to take into account the safety of everybody involved, not just the agents, but the people who are south of the wall. It was determined to deploy tear gas, to break up the crowd, which is what happened. We did not use any kinetic force. It was tear gas, which has been deemed to be safe, even for children. We never want to see a child get hurt.

KEILAR: I hear what you are saying. But looking at the images, they are awful. They do not at all serve the policies that you support. In fact, it would convince some people against your policies. So knowing that, is there an alternative to this that could have been taken by Border Patrol?

JUDD: I think you are looking at only certain images. There's many images out there. The vast majority of those individuals were not women and children. They were male adults, between 20 to the mid 30s, that were causing all of this strife. Again, if these individuals were going to the port of entry and presenting themselves at the port of entry legally, none of this ever would have happened. They chose, they made a conscious decision to break off and go between the ports of entry, which is an illegal act. And not only did they choose to do that, but then they started being assaultive and combatant towards our agents. Our agents were given no choice but to take the actions they took.

KEILAR: You pushed for the lethal force order put in place by President Trump that allows -- did you support -- he wants there to be lethal force available to use, if necessary.


KEILAR: Do you agree with his --

JUDD: So let's be clear. We have a use-of-force policy. All he was doing was reiterating the use-of-force policy. We support the use-of- force policies for --


KEILAR: It's totally different, Brandon because you had a robust internal decision in the administration where you had John Kelly and Secretary Nielsen opposing this. They had concerns. So there is something different here.

JUDD: Aare we talking about the meeting that happened on Monday of last week?


KEILAR: With the administration.

JUDD: I was at that meeting. I can tell you that those reports -- and I verified it with the other individuals that were there. The reports coming out of the meeting are not factually correct. There were reports that the vice president was there. I can tell you that the vice president was there only when I first walked in, and then he came out at the end of the meeting. Those reports are not 100 percent factually correct. You have to look at what is coming in and out. What the president did say is that force would be used, the requisite amount of force would be used on the border.


[13:45:14] KEILAR: Whether -- whether -- he is stressing this as something new, that this is something -- you are saying it's not new.

JUDD: No, no.


KEILAR: You're saying what he's talking about is not new?

JUDD: All he is doing is reiterating the use-of-force policy that we currently have. And everybody --

KEILAR: Well, the president indicates that it's new. OK. The president is indicating that they are now able to use lethal force, if necessary.

JUDD: OK. If we are talking about Border Patrol agents, there's nothing news that he has reiterated. Now there are some --

KEILAR: Or militarily backing them up.

JUDD: OK, now military --

KEILAR: Military backing them up, which is key.


JUDD: -- military coming out. He can deploy the military to support and protect Border Patrol agents, which is what he said is going to happen.

KEILAR: Let me get to my point here is this -- doing this, which is something very new, with the military supporting Border Patrol, it's an amping up of the rhetoric. We have seen caravans before. Right?

JUDD: Yes.

KEILAR: We have seen caravans before. This isn't unusual. It's happened under the Obama years. But this is new. This rushing to the border that we're seeing here.

JUDD: Absolutely.

KEILAR: So this is new. I wonder what you think, as we get into this debate about whether tear gas or not or are there other methods, if maybe the answer could be, should the rhetoric change? Is there something happening now creating this tension, this desperation that is creating a situation that we have not seen before?

JUDD: What has to change is Congress has to change the laws. Unfortunately, you and I both know that with a divided Congress that --


KEILAR: OK, but, Brandon, in fairness, the laws were not changed from the last caravan to this one.

JUDD: No, there weren't, but --

KEILAR: So there's something different going on. What is it?

JUDD: What's different is the Catch and Release policy continued. When you look at the original caravan that caught the news, back in April of this year, we have seen caravan aftercare caravan aftercare caravan, but it didn't catch the news' attention until April of this year. I don't think it's a coincidence that it caught the attention of the American public when President Trump is the president. But the difference between this caravan and the caravan in April is the number of people. The original caravan in April started out to be about 2,000 people. When it got to the border, it was down to 1700. We're talking about a caravan that is estimated to be, that's broken in two parts, that's estimated to be about 9,000 people. That's completely different. We have also never seen them take the level of violence they are currently taking in trying to rush our borders at one time. When they shut down the San Ysidro point of entry, they shutdown legal travel and trade. That travel costs both Mexico and the United States millions of dollars, if you shutdown that point of entry. This is something the American economy cannot suffer.

KEILAR: Why do you -- why do you think we've seen this increased tension?

JUDD: I think the reason is because they, most people think they can come here and break our laws without any consequence. That's what's happened in the past. If you look at the Obama administration, when they started allowing people to come here with any consequence, that continued. That's what President Trump is trying to get under control.

KEILAR: Brandon Judd, thank you so much for being with us.

JUDD: Appreciate your time.

KEILAR: President Trump getting ready to board Air Force One to make a final push in Mississippi as a racially charged and tightening Senate race nears an end.


[13:52:50] KEILAR: In a few minutes, President Trump will leave Washington for Mississippi, where a Senate seat is at stake. Republican Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith is fighting to keep her seat in tomorrow's runoff election with Democrat Mike Espy. The campaign has had racial under and overtones with Hyde-Smith facing backlash for making a joke about a public hanging and appearing to defend the state's Confederate past.

Donna Ladd is the editor and CEO of the "Jackson Free Press."

Donna, thanks for being with us.

Just to be clear, you oppose Cindy Hyde-Smith's candidacy. Your paper has been instrumental in making this an actual contest for her.

Tell us about this report. Your reporter, Ashland Pitman (ph), published a piece this week about Hyde-Smith's attendance at a seg academy, a segregation academy, a private school that was created for white kids so they didn't have to integrate with black kids once desegregation was really put into effect. She also sent her daughter to one more recently in a county that is over half black, and the school only had one black student out of almost 400. That said, and this is something that's gotten national attention, for sure, does this really matter overall to people in Mississippi? DONNA LADD, EDITOR & CEO, JACKSON FREE PRESS: First, thanks for

having me, Breanna. I appreciate it.

Well, it does matter to a lot of people. And I think it kind of reflects a changing Mississippi, that there are more people here now, white people, who either really care about these kinds of racial coding and racial messages. And I think in -- I think that they are concerned, as I am concerned, that she isn't kind of coming out and addressing that. Because there isn't -- people have to understand, desegregation academies have been here for a long time and they originally opened in a very overt, racist way. Now, they -- you know, they -- they talk about more diversity, even though it's not uncommon to just have a small number of children of color in these schools. But people don't talk about it that much. And I think that what people would like for Cindy Hyde-Smith to do is to step out and say, yes, I went to that school, I grew up amid a lot of this kind of -- these kinds of symbols, but now I want to help the state move forward, and I want to help heal the division. And so on the one hand, I think, certainly, there's a base of voters who this will help turnout for, but there are others who are really upset about it, black and white.

[13:55:31] KEILAR: Donna Ladd, thank you so much for joining us, from the "Jackson Free Press." We appreciate it.

Coming up, the mission to Mars. And we have so much more news ahead. Stay with us.